The magic system

How does it work?

It’s basically the same magic system that Jack Vance described (you memorize the specific spells you wish to cast), except to keep mages playable, I’ve bumped up the # of spells that a mage can use.

Spells they can use.

For example, if you are a 6th level mage, you can memorise and use 3 first level spells, 2 second level spells, and one third level spell. After using them, you need to rememorise them to use them again – if you memorise your spells in the morning right after you’ve slept 8 hours, it takes you 5 minutes/spell level to rememorise them. If you rememorise them during the day (i.e. without sleeping for 8 hours beforehand) it will take you 30 minutes/spell level to memorise a spell.

Ritual vs. combat spells

Ritual spells are the sort of spell that you read about in disney© books and mediocre fantasy – you’ve gotta have the pentagram, the mystic circle, tarot cards, incense, candles, and a raft of (sometimes) expensive material components to make them work. Needless to say, you can’t use them in combat. They take about 5 minutes/spell level to cast. (or more time, depending on the spell and the whim of the DM.)

Combat spells, on the other hand, involve no material components of any sort – you just concentrate, say a few magic words, and fire off the spell.

Things that make a spell fail

If somebody disturbs your concentration during the spellcast, the spell fails. Automatically. If you are in combat you cannot concentrate on a spell – you can try to ignore your opponent and cast the spell, but that will make you very easy to hit – and the hit would ruin your spell.

The spells

A magic user starts out with 2 first-level spells. You have to acquire the other spells by yourself. The first level spells are common knowledge and can be gotten almost everywhere; higher level spells are only gotten via theft, academic training, or apprenticeships.

Spells marked with a ‘+’ are ritual spells – they require material components and cannot be used in a combat situation. Spells marked with a ‘*’ are reversable (Raise Dead becomes Finger of Death, for example.)

Level 1 spells

Detect Magic+
Cast upon objects within a pentagram. Objects that have a magical enchantment will glow blue;cursed objects will glow black.
Read Languages+
Does a one-shot translation into your language of any one written object. Requires a magnifying glass -which is not used up in the spell- to look at the object through.
Gives you a +1 AC against any object of evil nature (the undead, demons, were-creatures.) [duration: 15+5/level minutes]
Creates a sourceless light equivalent to a torch. This light is centered on the spellcaster. [duration: 15+5/level minutes] The reverse spell creates a magical black fog around the caster, of approximately 30' diameter. [duration: 5+1/level minutes]
Gives you a +2 AC against any projectile weapon. [duration: 15+5/level minutes]
Magic Missile
Worlds most wonderful low-level spell. A magical bullet that strikes through armour (AC against it is 10+DEX bonus+magical defence bonus) doing (level/5) d4 damage.
Cure Light Wounds*+
Cures d6 hp of wound. Will not cure broken bones or severe burning. The reverse causes 6d damage on successful touch (AC 10+DEX)
Purify Food & Water*+
Strips out/adds in poisons and other impurities to food & water within a pentagram. The poison it adds in (when reversed) is a particularly coarse one that is very (>1 on d20) easy to notice.
Detect Evil*
Tells the caster if the object cast at is of evil or good nature. (evil like prot/evil; good like ???)

Level 2 spells

Detect Invisible
Makes invisible creatures visible to the spellcaster if they are within 60'. Note that there are some times when seeing the creature may have unfortunate sideeffects (basilisks…) [duration: 10+2/level minutes]
What you’d expect. The target of the spell may levitate itself plus 5kg/caster’s level, as long as self+additional weighs less than 20kg/caster’s level. [duration: 20+2/level minutes] When this spell fails, it goes away gradually over 1/caster’s level minutes, so the target will feel heaviness before they plummets like a stone.
Charm Person
Gives the caster an irresistable personality, thus allowing them to become much more persuasive (“These aren’t the ‘bots you’re looking for”) [duration: 30+5/level minutes]
Creates an illusion, of indeterminate form, but of a size not more than twice that of the caster. What the illusion can do, and what it’s like is up to the caster. [duration: 30+5/level minutes]
Locate Object+
Gives the caster an idea of where some known object is located. The effectiveness of the spell depends on how well the object is known, as well as the distance of the object, and, of course, the whim of the gamemaster. This spell requires the use of a Tarot, and may be affected by encantations placed upon the deck. [duration: 1 day+2/level hours]
A variant of the Illusion spell. This spell makes the caster nondescript; creatures may notice her, but will not think it’s important. (gullibility roll vs INT)
Wizard Lock*
Magically locks a door. This spell creates a lock equivalent to a 2x4 braced across the door. The reverse of the spell will deactivate a wizard lock, or provide a context-specific assist to attempts to force a non-wizard lock.
Continual Light*
A long-duration Light spell. Like Light, but the duration is 1 day+2/level hours.
For the duration of the spell, the target gets an effective +2 STR bonus. [duration: 1 hr + 10/level minutes]
Creates a blob of sticky web-stuff that when thrown at something makes a 10' square web 4' deep. This web is quite difficult to get out of (>16 + STR bonus) and is quite flammable (creatures imbedded in it suffer d4/turn damage when it is set afire; it will burn for 3 rounds) The webs dry out after 2-3 hours.
Place a blessing upon a particular item. This spell will nullify a curse placed on an item (the curse may get a saving roll against the bless, however) or it may be used to improve the item for a short time. (a +1 to-hit or to-damage on a weapon is possible, or a + to effectiveness of a dice roll for the effects of other items.) [duration when not counteracting a curse: 2/level hours]
Silence, 15' r.
The object enchanted will be the center of a 15'r area where no sound whatsoever will be heard. [duration: 15+5/level minutes]

Importing spells from other gaming systems

Here are examples of how class D&D spells would be refitted in to this system. Of course you’d need to buy the original D&D books to actually know what the spells did.

Level 3

  • Fly
  • Dispell Magic
  • Fireball
  • Lightning Bolt*
  • Protection/Evil 10' r.
  • Invisibility, 10' r.
  • Slow Spell*
  • Protection/Missiles
  • Water Breathing
  • Explosive Runes
  • Rope Trick+
  • Suggestion
  • Monster Summoning 1+
  • Remove Curse*+
  • Cure Disease*+
  • Speak with Dead+

Level 4

  • Polymorph
  • Wall of Fire
  • Wall of Ice
  • Confusion
  • Charm Monster
  • Growth/Plant
  • Dimension Door
  • Wizard Eye
  • Massmorph+
  • Ice Storm
  • Fear
  • Monster Summoning 2+
  • Neutralise Poison*+
  • Cure Serious Wounds*+
  • Sticks to Snakes*
  • Create Water+
  • Speak with Plants+

Level 5

  • Teleport
  • Conjure Elemental+
  • Telekinesis
  • Rock to Mud+
  • Wall of Stone
  • Wall of Iron
  • Reincarnation+
  • Magic Jar+
  • Contact Higher Plane+
  • Pass-wall+
  • Cloudkill
  • Feeblemind
  • Monster Summoning 3
  • Geas+
  • Create Food+

Level 6

  • Stone-Flesh*
  • Raise Dead*+
  • Invisible Stalker+
  • Lower Water
  • Part Water
  • Projected Image
  • Anti-Magic Shell
  • Disintegrate
  • Move Earth+
  • Control Weather+
  • Repulsion
  • Monster Summoning 4+
  • Animate Objects+
  • Find the Path+
  • LART (like the D&D blade barrier spell, but you can choose between a cyclone of blades, rocks, 2x4’s, or ethernet cables.)