This spell system was created out by me, and all rights to it belong to me (copyright 1994 Sean K Reynolds). It actually was to be the magic system for an original FRP I was creating, but later abandoned because it was too much work. However, the magic system was simple and adaptable enough to be used on many RPG's. I've been using it in my PBEM campaign for over a year and a half.
Feel free to show this to your friends, cohorts, or nerdy little brother. Email it to anyone you want. This is a _generic_ magical system, and can be used by anyone in any game they want - just so long as people have a vague idea that I thought it up. Whatever you don't like, change - I'm not charging for this, so what do I care? Make any improvements you want on it. However, if you do have corrections, questions, or improvements, please email me - I'd love to hear them! I can always be reached at either email address below.
Oh, and through this document, I have used the term "he" to refer to the wizard or spellcaster. Take no offense - I am male, and all of my wizard PC's have been male, so 'male' is immediatly what I think of when I hear 'wizard.'
Thanks a lot, and have fun.
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All magic works by combining various magical forces (known as Spheres and Modifiers) in certain combinations and strengths. Wizards gain the knowledge of how to control these forces by intensive study.
Magic-users have a certain amount of magical potential, varying from person to person. This is a combination of personal energy, awareness of nearby energy, and knowledge of how to channel the energy. Whenever a magic spell is cast, the caster's potential is reduced, and slowly replenishes over time. This potential is commonly called mana, but it goes by many other names as well. A beginning wizard starts with spell points equal to his INT score, and with each level of experience after that gains SP equal to the new level, i.e., 3 more at third level, 4 more at fourth level, etc.
When a wizard is blow his normal total of SP (such as after casting a spell), SP are regained at the follwing rate:
Activity Rate (SP/hour) Fighting, running, or other heavy activity 0 Walking, riding, or other light activity 1 Resting (little or no activity) 4 Sleeping 8
Magical energy is divided into seven Spheres, each Sphere having different areas of influence. Modifiers are the forces used to contain or expand the effects of the Spheres.
When casting a spell, the wizard merely thinks of the desired effect, then calls together energy from the appropriate Spheres to acheive that effect. Thus, there are many ways to reach the same goal - one wizard may make himself invisible by cloaking himself in an illusion of nothing, while another enchants those near him to ignore his presence.
Thus, when casting a spell, in game terms, simply figure out what Spheres are needed, add up the point values for them, add the costs for the desired modifier levels, and let it go. All spells cost a minimum of 1 SP to cast (there has to be something to get the spell going, no matter how weak the spell).
Spheres: Change Elemental Illusion Information Mind Soul Summon
Modifiers: Range Duration Area
Change: magic that changes the physical properties of the target, such as its shape, density, or composition (this is the sphere that must be used to negate magic, cast at the highest level Sphere of the target spell)
Elemental: magic that draws power based on one of the 4 classical elements: air, earth, fire (any energy), and water
Illusion: magic that weaves light and sound to hide or show something
Information: magic that conceales or reveals information of various sorts, such as memories or magical abilities
Mind: magic that positively or negatively affects the mind of the target
Soul: magic that postiviely or negatively affects the life force of a living target, or gives a temporary or artificial life force to nonliving objects
Summon: magic that conjures objects or creatures from other locations
The power rating for a Sphere or Modifier ranges from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. Each Sphere's cost is 1 mana per power level, regardless of type. Listed below are examples of the amount of magic that each particular level calls up, and an example of what can be done with that amount. Note that this amount of power is independant of the range, duration, or area it is channeled into - a level 5 burst of fire is just as hot if it is made 1' radius or 10' radius, or if it is blasted at Range: touch or at Range: one mile.
Generally, the direct-damage dice values for the various power levels approximate to:
Level Damage 1 0 2 1 3 d3 4 d6 5 2d6 6 4d6 7 6d6 8 7d6 9 8d6 10 10d6
Change: 1 color change 2 surface texture 3 temperature (increase or decrease) 4 shape (soft items; does not change material) 5 shape (hard items, including flesh/bone; does not change material, so an assumed form has no new magical powers) 6 size 7 weight, density 9 cellular (assume another form, with all of its abilities) 10 atomic (lead to gold, etc.) Elemental: Air Earth Fire Water 1 breath sand match cup 3 gust sandstone torch gallon 4 breeze limestone fireplace bathtub 5 medium wind granite campfire river current 7 strong wind marble bonfire sea current 9 storm steel housefire sea undertow 10 hurricane mithral dragonfire tsunami Illusion: 1 light/dark, small noise/shush 2 dim/blur an object, amplify/muffle 3 create ghostly shape, speechlike sounds/whisper 5 create solid-looking shape, speech/silence 6 invisibility, loud speech/noises 8 complex shapes, accurate sound imitation/music 10 art, symphony, perfect duplication Information: 1 see in the dark (rough) 3 see in the dark (good) 4 divine simple information (person's name/weight, detect magic) 5 more complex information (find missing item, kind of magic) 6 complex information (locate person, identify magic), glimpse future 8 speak with dead 10 contact other plane, examine possible futures Mind: 1 gently encourage an emotion (friendliness, hate, etc.) 2 "push" an emotion 4 ESP 5 magical suggestion 6 charm subject 7 charm nonhumanoid 8 enslave subject 9 charm plant 10 telepathy Soul: 1 reduce/negate pain, weakly animate objects (shake, rattle, etc.) 2 heal superficial wounds, give object motion (door open/close) 3 heal minor wounds, give object fine manipulation (grabbing vines...) 4 cure diseases, give object mobility (walking table, etc.) 5 heal broken bones 6 animate corpse 7 heal severe wounds 8 fully animate objects (statues, etc.) 9 restore missing limb 10 Raise the dead Summon: 1 rough materials (rocks, sand, chaff, water, etc.) 3 foodstuff (bread, fruits, etc.) 4 animal 5 humanoid 6 creature of current plane 7 specific creature/person from this plane 8 elemental creature 10 outer planar creature
Range: how far the magic is able to travel and still be effective Rank Result Cost (magic points) 1 affects caster only 0 2 touch 1 3 5' 2 4 10' 3 5 50' 4 6 100' 5 7 250' 6 8 500' 10 9 1000' 15 10 1 mile 20 Duration: how long the magic lasts before becoming ineffective Rank Result Cost (magic points) Save 1 not applicable* 0 2 instantaneous 1 +4 3 10 seconds 2 +2 4 1 minute 4 0 5 10 minutes 5 6 1 hour 6 7 1 day 7 8 1 week 10 9 1 year 15 10 permanent 20
* means that the spell only has to work for a fraction of a second to be effective; for example, detection of magic on a held object does not need a duration if only one item is to be checked (if yes/no is all that is desired; if aura color, intensity, etc. are to be seriously examined, a greater Duration would be needed)
Since damage is based on power level, and not directly on duration, something had to be taken into account for a direct-attack fire spell that lasted 10 minutes (bathing the victims in flames for that long), thus, a modifier is made to the saving throw for attacks that last less than one round (those that last over a round get no built-in save modifier, since they do damage every round). Also, spells that last beyond a round are usually not direct-damage attacks; spells of the flash-bang variety are. For example, a bolt of fire lasting 10 seconds is a direct-damage attack, while a wall of fire that last 10 minutes is a more passive spell.
Also note that for spells that involve healing, a Duration of "permanent" is not always needed. If the damage being repaired (weapon attack, simple broken bone, etc.) would have been able to have healed normally by the victim's body, then a Duration of only 5 (10 minutes) is needed to stimulate and accelerate the body's natural healing process. More serious wounds (amputations, mummy rot, etc.) that a body could not otherwise successfully heal by itself can only be permanently repaired by casting a level 10 Duration healing spell.
Area: how much material the magic can affect before becoming ineffective Rank Result Cost (magic points) 1 1 lb./1" radius 1 2 5 lb./6" radius 2 3 20 lbs/1' r 3 4 1 person/2' r 4 5 2 persons/5' r 6 6 5 persons/10' r 7 7 10 persons/20' r 8 8 25 persons/30' r 10 9 40 persons/50' r 15 10 75 persons/100' r 20
Note that if a wizard wants to make it more difficult for a target to resist his spell, the wizard merely casts the spell at a higher Area component that what is needed. For each level higher cast than what is needed, the target (or targets) receive a -1 penalty to their saving throw. Thus, a wizard that wishes to charm a single target would only need Area 4 as part of his spell, but if he cast it with Area 6, the target would have a -2 penalty to its save. A spell cast upon 5 people needs Area 6, but if cast at Area 7, each subject has a -1 penalty.
Also note that the number of persons affected and the area affected are not necessarily the same thing - a wizard could cast an Area 6 fire spell and have it fill a 10' sphere with flames, or he could opt instead for five individual fire bolts to fire at different targets. The former use tends to fall into the "save for half damage" sort of spell, while the latter is more of a "save for no damage" (i.e., dodging) variety.
Increasing Modifiers: If an effect greater than the level 10 effect is desired, such as having an area of 200' radius, simply add five more spell points for each increment (each extra mile for Range, each extra 100' radius for Area, etc.).
A wizard starts of with skill levels for all Spheres and Modifiers at level 4. Using magic at the caster's skill level or below costs the normal amount of mana. Therefore, a first-level wizard that casts a 4 fire/4 range/4 duration/4 area spell would expend 4+3+4+4, or 15 mana points (the spell probably would envelop the target in flames for the entire minute). Note that if the target were a smaller object, and it were 5 feet away, the area would only have to be 3 and the range 3, costing 13 mana.
A spell with a skill level 3 or more levels below the caster's skill in that force has no mana cost for that force's contribution. This is called Familiarity. Thus, a 1st-level wizard can cast a 1 fire/1 range/ 2 duration/1 area spell, which would only cost 0+0+1+0 (the Fire, Range, and Area components are considered Familiar, and cost 0), or 1 mana point, resulting in a brief, weak burst of flame, suitable for lighting papers, torches, or dry wood. Remember that even if the mana cost for a spell would be 0, a minimum of 1 mana must be expended to start a spell. Also, Familiarity only works up to level 4; skill levels 5 and above always cost the normal amount of SP, regardless of the caster's level.
A spell that the wizard wishes to cast at a higher Sphere level or Modifier level can be done, but at a significant cost: double the regular spell points. Thus, a wizard with 4 level in Range wishing to cast a spell at 7 Range would have to use 12 mana (the regular 6, x2 = 12) in the Range category only (in addition to the other forces used). If the Modifier is increased beyond level 10, this extra cost is doubled (i.e., if your skill level in that modifier is 9 or less, the increase beyond level 10 costs 10 points per increment, rather than 5 per increment).
A wizard gains 3 skill points with each new experience level, to be used to raise the skill level of any Sphere or Modifier they choose. No Sphere or Modifier may be raised more than 1 point for any particular level. For example, Xobar the wizard reaches 2nd level, and decides to use his three new skill points to raise his Range skill to 5, his Summon skill to 5, and his Mind skill to 5. He could not have raised his Range skill to 6, even though he has 3 skill points to start with.
An exception to the regular Sphere-skill increase is the Elemental sphere, which is actually four smaller spheres that must be increased individually. However, a wizard that expends 3 skill points at once on the entire Elemental sphere can raise the skill level for all four Elemental spheres by one (saving one skill point in the bargain).
Once a wizard has progressed to skill level 10 in all Spheres and Modifiers, he still can gain more SP, but his skill levels cannot increase any more.
Spheres can be combined in any combination. A wizard could combine 2 water and 2 fire, resulting in a burst of hot water. Or, 2 water and 4 fire, giving a cloud of steam. Also, note that two spells of the exact same power levels for spheres may have different results, depending on the will of the caster. For example, a wizard could cast a spell with 4 Soul, and depending on the caster's desires, it may heal the target's disease, or animate a table to attack an enemy.
It has been found that the forces flow easier when the caster has an object to concentrate on, especially if the object relates in some way to the forces being used. The value of the object (or its purity, if the value is an inappropriate judgement) is looked for on the following table
Value Effect On Mana Cost 50gp or less -1 50gp-500gp -3 500gp+ -5
The focus object is normally consumed/transferred/destroyed during the spellcasting. The spell still costs a minimum of 1 mana to cast, regardless of the modified cost of mana. The association reductions are cumulative with all other mana reductions.
Familiarity is discussed in the "Casting Level" section, above. It is cumulative with all other mana reductions.
Certain items aid a wizard's concentration in spellcasting. These items are called magical staves, regardless of the shape they take or the material they are made of. A magical staff reduces the mana cost of a spell by 1/level of the caster (again, with a minimum cost of 1 mana). Therefore, a 5th level wizard casting a spell that normall costs 8 mana will only cost 3 mana if the wizard is using a magical staff. This point reduction is cumulative with all other reductions, such as ritual, familiarity, etc. Magical staves fall into two categories: Ordinaire, and Deluxe.
An Ordinaire staff is simply a permanently enchanted staff. It will never wear out from use as a magical concentration aid. Note that this kind of staff does not need to be made of wood - Ordinaire staves in the form of metal globes, gems, rings, or even magical tattoos have been made.
A Deluxe staff is a rare and powerful item. Believed to only be enchanted by a small clan of wizards (of at least 17th level), each Deluxe staff has a name, is semi-sentient, and is almost indestructable. A Deluxe staff acts just as an Ordinaire staff (will not wear out, can be in almost any form), but in addition, the Deluxe staff remembers every spell that is ever cast through it. This means that if a Deluxe staff was formerly owned by a powerful wizard who once had cast a 7 fire/7 range/3 duration/7 area spell, and if the staff is ever found by a young wizard, that wizard could cast that spell _without_paying_the_double-cost for exceeding magic skill levels - the staff "remembers" the powers needed, and its current user can call upon that memory. Unfortunately, since the staff is semi-sentient, it can sense if its owner (if it was not the owner it was created for) is weak, and may try to take control of the bearer....
If the caster can think up or find a suitable ritual for a spell about to be cast, the ritual, when performed, reduces the mana cost as follows:
Duration/Complexity Effect On Mana Cost 10 minutes/simple -1 1 hour/fairly complex -3 1 day/complex -5
It is up to the GM to decide if going beyond a certain point with a ritual will have any further effect (for example, performing a 1-day ritual to detect if an object is magic will probably have little more effect in reducing mana cost than a 10-minute ritual). As before, the minimum mana cost of a spell is 1. The ritual reductions are cumulative with all other mana reductions.
While a wizard may take as long as he likes to form a spell in his mind, the actual casting takes only moments. Unless the caster is performing a ritual, a wizard can get a spell off in under ten seconds (as a rough approximation, add up the number of Spheres used in the spell, and that's the casting time). If a wizard is struck in combat before this short interval of spellcasting, it will not prevent the caster from casting a spell later that round. On the rare occasion that a wizard is actually struck during the spell's casting, the spell is stopped, but does not cost any points to the wizard - the energy is not released until the very last moment, so if struck before that time, the energy remains as potential magic within the wizard.
Players wishing to create a more unique sort of wizard with different skills have many options for creating a specialist wizard. Here are some ideas:
1. Restrict access to one or more Spheres, either by reducing the initial skill level of that Sphere, or eliminating its use entirely. For each Sphere reduced or restricted, give the wizard a +1 skill level in another sphere. Note that restricting a wizard's skill in Modifiers can be very hazardous, but may result in an interesting character if the player is willing to accept such a restriction (combat wizards, for example, might sacrifice a skill level or two in Range, forcing them closer into combat).
2. Give the wizard a cost reduction of 5 for any spell that uses a particular Sphere. For example, a fire mage would have a cost reduction of 5 points for any spell that used the Fire aspect of the Elemental Sphere.
3. When casting spells with the wizard's chosen Sphere of specialization, keep the cost normal, but make the effect one level higher for that Sphere. Thus a Mind-Sphere specialist could cast a spell with Mind 4 and magically force a suggestion upon the target (which is a skill level 5 effect).
4. Give the wizard a hindrance in exchange for a higer skill level. For example, give a wizard a +1 skill in the Mind Sphere, but require him to sing a rhyme for all of his spells. Or, require a Summon-Sphere specialist to draw out runes and symbols on a solid surface for every spell cast.
5. As #4, above, but instead of increasing a skill level, reduce the casting cost of the spell by 5 when one of the above methods is used (i.e., if in a hurry, the Summon-specialist above could cast without writing anything down, but it is to his advantage to write).
Magical items are easy to create with this system. No special materials are needed, but note that if an enchantment is cast upon an inferior object, the object is still subject to normal wear and tear (unless strengthening enchantments are added) and if damaged or destroyed, the magic is lost.
Magical items generally fall into three categories:
Note that the Duration-cost chart for this procedure is inverted. Enchanting an effect that's once a year costs 1 point, once a week costs 2, once a day costs 4, and so on up to "once an instant" - essentially at will - which costs 15.
When the wizard finishes the spells, he simply closes/completes the initial enchantment spell, which has been in waiting while the other spells are added (if a period of 24 hours goes by without any enchantments being added, the spell closes itself, but it may do so sloppily - this is usually how cursed or decaying magic items come about). Some items are a combination of this charged type and the permanent type above - they have continual and charged magics. If so, consider the enchantments separately - handle the continual effects like type 1 items, and the charged effects like type 2.
This system works equally well for priests. Rather than using their personal energy or that or their surroundings, a priest uses the divine energy from their patron deity. Instead of Intelligence, the initial number of spell points is based upon Wisdom or Willpower. A priest may have a limit in the skill level attainable for certain spheres, start with a skill level lower than 4 for certain spheres, or even be denied certain spheres completely. Also, a priest's holy symbol acts as a half-strength Ordinaire staff (1/2 the priest's level, rounded up, is taken from the spell cost). More powerful priests may have specially blessed holy symbols that act as full-strength Ordinaire staves, and religious artifacts often have the equivalent powers of Deluxe staves.