Monday, November 9, 2009

Magical Monday - Magical Grabbag

Magic System Series Part I described Wizards, Mages, and Sorcerers. Part II provided Mystics, Alchaemists, and Galdr. Today brings a of miscellany, along with four more magic systems.


Space Wizards! from Fight On #1

Spontaneous Metamagic and Metamagic Components not daily use but once per encounter?

Mages', Wizards' and possible others' spells can be reversed to have an opposite effect. Reversed spells are also very effective counter spells vs their unreversed versions. There is only one version of a spell, "the spell". Forward or reversed version is determined at casting time by whether the verbal and/or somatic components are done backwards or forwards.

Magic is unbalancingly powerful. This is mitigated by it also not being strictly under the control of the caster/player. Much of the following sections expand upon that lack of control.

Magic is Weird

Magic is rare, mysterious, and scares the bejesus out of common folk. The vast majority of intelligent beings have only experienced it through legend, horror story and rumour. The first (at least) use of magic vs men, halflings, and the various intelligent humanoids should elicit a moral check. "Ahhhhh witchcraft, run for you souls!" Even those accustomed to Shamanistic / Hedge magic might still be awed by the power and grandeur of True Magic.

Having wounds magically healed makes you (very) hungry. 1 days ration per wound point / die of damage healed.

Magic is subject to environment and you are not it's master. When deep within the Mythic Underground expect DM to whip some 2ed Wild Magic rules on your ass.

Magic is not the same as Fey Glamour. Expect illogic and whimsy when the two interact.

Magic is Fickle

If something (orc, door, etc.) saves against your spell that something will always save against (no roll) against that particular spell cast by you. A casting check failure is different than a save. So is being countered or blocked (by say a prismatic wall). [mechanically this prevents casting rituals over and over until success e.g. "Knock" vs a door. But, I really dig it flavor wise. It makes magic weirder and opens up a method to out wit and defeat uber casters. Say, by finding the one child, now grown, who resisted the evil Hypnoticus's charm spell.]

May not memorize duplicate spells. Likewise it's dangerous to walk around with more than one dose of an Alchaemical concoction. One, it's boring to have the same spells. Two, it's the exclusive purview of Wizards to unleash fireball after fireball unto the bad guys. I definitely see Wizards as "Battle Casters". Mages and others are more subtle, creative, behind the scenes sorts.

Magic doesn't mix well. Too much magic cast in one area or upon a single target is prone to manifest unexpected effects that tend towards "bad." In other words the DM has a spell miscibility table created in the fashion of the potion miscibility table in the DMG. He is itching to roll on it...

Magic doesn't work the way you think it does. An area can be (temporarily) drained of magic. Boon to those who bring it with them (Alchaemists, Mages) and bane to those who depend on drawing and shaping what's already there (Mystics, Wizards, Druids, Vis-less Hermeticists).

Magic Duels

Fight On #1, Manitou Combat (love that cover).

I'm thinking of the scene from Conan movie, where smoke comes out the wizard's ears. That is the duel for me. But I found this cheezingly awesome vid instead.

Counter Spelling

Old school. Already mentioned reverse spells above. I see Counter Spelling often leading into magical duels.

No dispel magic spell. Far too convenient, predictable, and mechanical. There are many ways to usurp, avoid, and sunder magic. All different, many unknowable.
"Holding one's foot and hopping backwards through wall of magical flames is sure way to avoid being incinerated. The wench at G&W told me. Her father's uncle was an adventurer. Saved them from certain doom in the bowels of Stonehell it did. Come on, let's try it! But, you first."
Magic may not directly counter a miracle (unless it is powerful enough to oppose the god's will). It can block (shield, proof against scrying) and it can alter the results of miracles after the fact.

Casting Checks / Catastrophe

(My) standard d20 + mods <= 1 failed you have, >= 20 success, >= 30 super success, and natural 1 very bad failure.

Maybe, mixin the delayed concept from this Chainmailesque table for spell checks.

Fight On #3 (pg6) overcasting beyond spells memorized.

There are a bazallion magical mishap tables. Fight On #5, Calamity, Misfire

My favourite is APPENDIX C HEINOUS BLUNDERS (from where I didn't record and can't remember, one of the blogs I read too many of). A sampling of the twenty awesome entries.
(3) Schizoid Fantasy
The mage becomes enthralled by a profound and sinister delusion. He is convinced that he is just a character in a game being controlled by an intelligence from another reality. He will whittle himself a set of dice as soon as the opportunity presents itself and use them to make all his decisions, even if they contradict the decisions of the player. This change is permanent unless another PC uses a wish to remove the delusion.
(16) Necromantic plume
The mage exudes an invisible plume that invigorates the dead with unholy life. Anything dead within 20’ of the mage has a 50% chance of coming back to life in the form of a zombie in 1d3 hours. This change is permanent unless a wish is used to remove the plume.
(19) Alternate reality
While at first nothing appears to have changed, three factors (persons, places or things, as determined by the DM) in the mage’s life are inexplicably different from the way they were before. No one else is aware of these changes and everyone else believes that these things have always been the way they are. This effect is permanent and not alterable by a wish.


Not memorized, no spells, arcane magic.
- Thoolian/"Greek" tradition started in Egypt by Thoth-Amon

Flavor: Thoth+Hermes, Hermeticism, yellow Air east, red Fire south, blue Water west, green Earth north. RedCaps, Ars Magica

Hermeticism is the direct progenitor of Magery, Alchaemancy, and Mysticism. It has influenced most other traditions. At least indirectly, as Thoth-Amon/Hermes created Hermeticism (magic) and taught it to men. Fey glamours, sorcerous invocations, Enochian, and miracles are altogether different.

Based on Ars Magica or the Gramarye from A Magical Medley. If a player has Ars Magica (free download) or A Magical Medley, has played in my game/gotten to know the feel, and is willing to work with/on this system with me I'm all for it. Otherwise, I'm not gonna get into it. Probably not even for NPC.


Mana based magic, not memorized, Cha.
- Celtic magic From A Magical Medley
- Mana is in the land, not the caster. Different types for different spells.
- Binary + numbers; 2,3,5,9,17,33.
- Being naked is power.
- Nine types of spells/mana: Bless, Curse, Divination, Emoution, Geas, Glamour, Healing, Transformation, Weather.
- Power in thresholds; dawn/dusk, doorways, forks in rivers.
- Pict tradition.

Flavor: Druidic Calendar,

Exclusive to Picts (Hyborian / Howard style Picts). Which may or may not become a major element in Gold & Glory.

Again if a player has A Magical Medley, has played in my game/gotten to know the feel, and is willing to work with/on this system with me I'll work on it. Otherwise this will be relegated to Pictish NPCs and will probably mostly hand wave it.


Other names include: Zinsu (male) and Zinsi (female), Botono

A mixture of Alcheamancy and Sorcerorous magics, Cha/Int.
It is also a horribly ahistorical mishmash of Aztec and Voodun stuff as Norm knows them from bad 80's movies and from listening to his Meso-America archaeologist friend.

Used by "Aztec" Lizard Folk spilling in from "Land of the Lost" land via an open portal (Hmmm, I should write a post about that/those some day). They refer to it as "The Craft". Although common, it is outlawed by the god-kings and their sorcerer priests. It is one of the few respites from tyranny and sacrifice the "everyday" lizard is afforded.


Other names include: Wise Woman, Cunning Man, Medicine Man/Woman/Thing, Seer, Charmer, Shaman, Herbalist.

A mixture of Alcheamancy and Wizard "lite" magics, Cha/Int.
Various independent and common traditions.

A catchall for all the "small"/"low" magic practitioners out there. Generally low level/power, individualistic or passed down through generations. Not scholarly or scientific. Pragmatic, effects and spells useful to the common folk of the world. Divinations, cures, charms, blessings, wards, curses, and the like. Useful for characters with only 1-2 pieces of arcane pie.


  1. Once again the syncronicity of blogging happens. I posted about magic yesterday, and now you post this. Fun!

  2. Happens all the time. Drives me crazy sometimes when another blogger posts the same topic I had been working on for weeks.

    You totally should have linked to your post. Was it this Magic Item one? That is a subject near and dear to my DM heart. Check out Magic Items Should be Magical


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