Day Two: More Magic

Note: I switch names often enough that I confused myself. The real name of the SRD is Warrior, Rogue & Mage System Reference Document. I will stop using WYRM now to avoid confusion. From here forward, I will take great care to use WR&M SRD when referencing the core rules.

In thinking about adding spells to the SRD, I wanted the extra spells to different than ported over spells from Swords & Wizardry (or any other flavor of D&D). I also realized that spells in WR&M feel a bit like Savage Worlds spells. I did my best to avoid reading either rulebook to present these spells. Feedback welcome on these spells and feel free to share your own.

New Spells for WR&M SRD

Bend Light and Shadows (1st)

This spell makes the spell caster appear to be 2 yards from his or her real location. As a result of this, the spell caster gains +2 Armor. Mana burn will increase the bonus to +4.

Breathe Underwater (1st)

Breathe underwater for 1 hour. Mana burn will increase the duration to 4 hours.

Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway (1st)

The target of this spell will not suffer any ill effects from being in cold weather, even in extremely cold temperatures. Also, when attacked by Cold or Ice attacks, the target of this spell reduces the damage by 2 points. Damage cannot be reduced below zero. Each level of mana burn increases the damage reduction by 1 point.

Perceive Another’s Thoughts (1st)

If this spell is successfully cast, the spell caster can ask one yes/no question about any creature within a 10 yard radius. Each level of mana burn can increase the radius by 10 yards or add an additional yes/no question. If there is mana burn that adds questions, the questions can be asked about multiple targets within range.

Called Shot (2nd)

Choose a target for the bullet fired from a pistol or rifle. Add 4 to the attack roll. Mana burn will allow for a second called shot.

Clairaudience (2nd)

If successful, this spell allows the spell caster to hear what the target hears for 10 minutes. The target of this spell must be within a 20 yard radius. Mana burn can extend the duration for an additional 10 minutes or allow the spell caster to substitute a different sense from the following list (smell, touch, taste, directional sense)

Echolocation (2nd)

The target of this spell will be able to locate a specific object within a 3 yard radius. The object must be solid and no smaller than a man’s fist. Objects behind thick stone walls or metal walls cannot be located with this spell. Mana burn will either add 3 yards to the radius or allow the ability to search for smaller objects.

Fear (2nd)

The target of this spell will be afraid for 5 minutes or until it can make a Mage check vs DL 7. If possible the target will run away from the spell caster, otherwise it will be paralyzed and unable to move or defend itself. Mana burn will increase the DL for the Mage check to 11.

Ghost Step (2nd)

When this spell is cast, the spell caster will move at normal speeds, but leave no footprints and walk above the ground. This spell does not allow the spell caster to levitate. If he or she walks over a hole, they will stumble, if they walk over a pit, they will fall into the pit.

Imbue Divine Knowledge (2nd)

The target will temporarily gain a specific skill named by the spell caster that they do not already possess. for an hour. All checks to use the granted skill gain a +4 bonus instead of the normal +2. This spell will not enhance a skill that someone already possesses.

Smokewall/Inkcloud (2nd)

This spell creates a wall of dark smoke (or cloud of ink if underwater) to allow escape. The spell will obscure the target for 1 minute per success. If the target is using the spell to escape, add

Clairvoyance (3rd)

If successful, this spell allows the spell caster to see what the target sees for 10 minutes. The target of this spell must be within a 30 yard radius. Mana burn can only extend the duration for an additional 10 minutes.

Imbue Thaumaturgic Talent (3rd)

The target will temporarily gain a specific talent named by the spell case that they do not already possess. for an hour. This spell will not enhance a talent that the target already has.

Quick Iron (3rd)

When this spell is cast, the touch of the spell caster will instantly load a pistol or rifle. Mana burn will reload the pistol or rifle twice.

Xenesthesia (4th)

When successful, the spell caster can substitute one sense for another. The duration for this spell is one hour. For example, if the spell caster is temporarily struck blind, this spell would allow them to see by sacrificing another sense, like taste. If the spell caster has all five traditional senses, he or she can add an additional sense from the following list:

  • Directional: The ability to accurately sense North at all times
  • Ectoprioception: The ability to sense the exact distance between the spell caster and all objects within line of sight.
  • Electroreception: The ability to sense magnetic fields and electricity. Practically, they can accurately predict the weather or the presence of a lightning bolt spell.
  • Linguaception: The ability to discern what the speaker of a foreign language is saying despite a lack of understanding of that language. In other words, the person with this sense knows what the speaker is saying, but does not know what individual foreign words mean.

More On Ritual spells

I am putting out this idea for folks to build on. I have some issues with it that I’ll address later. By the time I put all of these posts into a pdf, it will be more thought out with appropriate credit given to those that offer insight.

Some spells, especially spell that create an object or affect areas (instead of individual targets). Some examples of Ritual-Only spells include curses that blight an entire village or valley, ward spells that protect a home, or spells that create automation/golems. Ritual-Only spells can also be used to summon truly horrible creatures that can rout entire armies.

The rules for ritual casting provided the minimum casting times and DL for success. At the GM’s discretion, these spells may require higher minimum times and allow more participants than listed for the normal four circles of spells. Below are suggested examples:

Circle Time Max Participants DL Mana Cost
5th circle 5 hours 15 15 12
6th circle 12 hours 18 19 16
7th circle 24 hours 21 23 20
8th circle 48 hours 27 27 24

Though circles are listed above 4, these spells can never be cast spontaneously, regardless of a characters Mage attribute.

Create Crab Golem (3rd)

This spell requires the empty molt of a crab man and can only be cast as a ritual. When completed, the Carb Golem will be under the command of the spell caster. If there are multiple participants, it will be under the command of the spell caster with the highest Mage attribute. Crab Golem - W:6, R:2, M:0, HP:16, Mana:0, Def:8, Attacks: 2 claws (W) 1d6 each.

Create Work Golem (4th)

Using this ritual, the cabal of spell casters can create a Work Golem. W:10, R:0, M:2, HP:20, Mana:0, Def:9, Attacks: Steel Fist (W) 2d6

Create War Golem (5th)

Using this ritual, the cabal of spell casters can create a War Golem. W:10, R:0, M:3, HP:20, Mana:0, Def:9, Attacks: Steel Fist (W) 2d6 or Weapon

Dachaigh Warden (5th)

Protect an area the size of a house from being discovered or protect anyone inside the house from any curse.

Remove Family Curse (5th)

This will remove a Family Curse.

Glen Warden (6th)

Protect an area the size of a small village or valley from being discovered by outsiders.

Family Curse (6th)

This spell will curse generations of a specific bloodline until a counter spell is cast. The curse can be anything from weakened health (Warrior attribute cannot be more than 4) to the firstborn will bear a disfiguring mark.

Release the Kraken (7th)

This huge beast will leave nothing but destruction in its wake. There are no stats for the apocalypse. This huge beast will wreak havoc for 2 hours before returning to whatever nightmarish dimension it calls home.

Summon the Banished God (8th)

This spell is for all the times some evil group of ne’er-do-wells want to bring an Old One into their world with mind melting insanity as the result. This is less of a spell than a story hook. If the insane mages that begin this spell finish it, they will need to find a way to banish the god again.

Final Thoughts

Again, these are some thoughts. I do not like having spells above the 4th circle, but I also didn't want a requirement to list Time to Cast, Max Participants, DL, and Mana Cost with each spell. The higher circles concept made the spell description less cluttered.

I hope in a future post to have a spell building system that encourages characters to add specific tags that increase their chance of success. These tags are very specific and quite unusual. Instead of broad tags like fire, cold, acid, or force, examples tags would be; small round objects no bigger than a fingertip, oval objects (any size), bundles, words, smooth and thin (one tag), coin, and book. This allows for individual spell casters to be unique. Instead of lightning bolt, the spell may appear as a shower of hail stones, words appearing above the target in stone letters that drop on them, or a large book that appears and envelopes the target. Some of these may seem quite gonzo, but with enough tags, I’m sure you could come up with less gonzo spells that still add flavor.

Until that post, the next one will be about creatures and races.

Swords & Wizardry Spell Spreadsheets and More

Some time ago, I posted a S&W Spell Database in a spreadsheet shared through Google Drive. I've finished my work on them, so here they are. One spreadsheet for Clerics, one for Magic Users, and one spreadsheet that has all spells Both Arcane and Divine.

Here is some explanation to what the different worksheets mean.

The Cleric spreadsheet has many worksheets, the first one is named Total List.

This is a list of all the Cleric and Druid spells, with descriptions. Spells that have tables in the description were translated as best as possible, but some of the tables had to be left out. This worksheet is a straightforward list ready for folks to analyze, adjust, and add. It also serves as a database to do a mail merge into a Word document.

When I add spells to a particular campaign world, I make them common in a specific area of the world. Adding a column to denote a specific area of the world, I can not only make a list of spells available, but generate a list of potential scrolls that might be found as treasure in a specific geographic area of the world.

If you have Priests of Different Mythoi, you can add a column for the various deities/pantheons and have a ready resource for player handouts. The possibilities are endless.

The next three worksheets break out the spells by the three types of spellcasters in the S&W Complete rules. For Clerics and Druids, there is an extra column for Spheres. Spheres group spells together by a common theme. If a spell has more than one Sphere in the column, it belong to each sphere listed in that cell. For example, the Cleric spell Animate Object, is in the Summoning and Creation Spheres.

For Magic-Users, the worksheet adds a School column. This shows the 2e school or schools that the spell belongs to. Yes, it's on the Cleric Spreadsheet.

For all three of these tabs, I used the compendium of Wizard and Priests spells downloaded from dragonsfoot. When I cross-referenced the spells, I made no assumptions on where they belong. In other words, I didn't assume that a spell with the word Animal in the title would be in the Animal sphere. This was all done strictly by the compendium. This doesn't mean that I made no errors, just that I wanted these lists to be as close to a Swords & Wizardry to 2e cross-reference as I could. I did make one change here from standard S&W - if a spell is both a Cleric and Druid spell, it is listed as the lower of the two levels.

The next tab on the Clerics spreadsheet is labelled Spheres. If a spell is in more than one Sphere, it is listed twice, once for each Sphere. For example, the Animate Object spells is listed once as belonging in the Summoning Sphere and listed on a separate entry as belonging to the Creation Sphere. This worksheet allows for easy creation of spell lists by Sphere.

Until you reach the Statistics worksheet, the next set of tabs are the lists of spells by Sphere; each Sphere has its own worksheet. They are listed by order by level and there are some simple statistics on number of spells, average level of spells, and the standard deviation of spell levels for that Sphere. The Statistics worksheet shows the statistics of all the Spheres in one place.

I also included some work on assigning each Sphere a point value. If this looks like Players & Options from 2.5e, I'm not going there. This is intended to be preliminary work on creating Priests of Different Mythoi, but only the referee uses this system for worldbuilding. If you can use this work to build something, let me know. I'll flesh this stuff out in future posts.

The last worksheet, of course, is the OGL.

The Magic-User Spreadsheet is setup much the same way, except that Schools are used instead of Spheres. The Complete Spreadsheet has both the Cleric and Magic-User spreadsheets inside it.

Why do all this?

Primarily to provide tools to other gamers. Selfishly, it is because I like to create custom classes. To that end, I plan on adapting the system Keith Davies invented to Swords & Wizardry. From there, it will fit in with a class building system that I hope to finish one day.

Spellbuilding Part 1 – Simple Conversion

The first part of the spell building system covers situations like finding a really cool spell that seems difficult to quantify or that you do not want to breakdown and rebuild. It is a fairly simple system to use spells from any OSR system, or retroclone OGL content. Before starting on that, here are the basic mechanics of the spell building system.

The system adds point values based on effect, range, duration, and any possible areas affected by the spell. The total is the spell's difficulty rating. Success in casting a spell is determined by rolling 1d20 + Intelligence score + Magic-Users's level to equal or exceed the magic-user's Saving Throw + difficulty rating. At the referee's discretion, a difficulty rating can be converted to a spell level for use in Vancian spellcasting. Like Cleric spells, converting a difficulty rating to a spell level is reversible.

This may seem like a mouthful, but to help with ease of calculation, I put Intelligence score + Caster Level on the character sheet. You'd think this wouldn't be a big deal, but it seems to make calculation easier. Since the Saving Throw already appears, it is just a matter of looking up the difficulty rating in the spell book.

In this post, I'll be taking OGL spells from various places and converting them to a difficulty rating.

Simple Conversion to a Difficulty Rating

Use the table below to convert spells to a difficulty rating:

S&W Spell Level Rating
Cantrips† 7
1 11
2 15
3 19
4 23
5 27
6 31
7 34
8 37
9 40

†Cantrips cannot do any damage. Using cantrips assumes the use of Tim Brannan's Cantrips for Basic Level Games system.

The difficulty rating in the table above is the midpoint for a spell level. Feel free to adjust the difficulty rating up or down by up to 2 points. In other words, a second level spell can have a difficulty rating from 13 to 17.

In looking for spells to serve as good examples, I looked for OGL spells from the LInks to Wisdom section on spells.

First, let's take a look at the Dreadcube (click the link for a full description). It is listed as a 7th level spell, so the new difficulty rating for this spell would be 34. It has multiple effects, so normally, I'd adjust the rating up, however, these effects can also potentially harm the caster, so I'll leave it where it is. OGL Link for Dreadcube

For those that wonder about the odds, let's take a magic-user with an INT 13 (the minimum score required to cast a 7th level spell). We'll say that the magic-user is at 14th level. The M-U will roll 1d20 + 13 (Intellegence score) + 14 (Caster Level) to be greater than or equal to 5 (Saving Throw at 14th level) + 34 for a total of 39. The magic-user will have a 45% chance of successfully casting the Dreadcube.

That seems a bit low, but 13 is the minimum Intelligence to cast a 7th level spell. Most Magic-Users for my players have an INT of 15 or 16 at least. Just for the sake of comparison, a 14th level Magic-User with an Intelligence of 15 attempting to cast this spell has a 55% chance of success.

Here's another favorite of mine from the Space Age Sorcery pdf, Pretervolve. (click on the link to download the free version). It is listed as Level 5, so the difficulty rating is 27. Seeing as there is a permanent effect after the spell wears off, I'd add a point to make the final difficulty rating a 28.

Again for the odds, we'll say that a 9th level Magic-User with an INT of 13 will cast Pretervolve. The M-U will roll 1d20 + 13 (Intellegence score) + 9 (Caster Level) to be greater than or equal to 7 (Saving Throw at 9th level) + 28 for a total of 35. The magic-user will have a 40% chance of successfully casting the spell.

Again, many characters will have a higher INT score. A 9th level Magic-User with a 15 Intelligence score has a 50% chance of success.

Section 15 of the OGL for the Pretervolve spell is:
Space-Age Sorcery, Copyright 2013, Hereticwerks; Authors James Garrison, Eric Fabiaschi, Porky

Here's another favorite, the Auric Devourer (read the post for the full description). It is listed as 1st level, so I convert the difficulty to 11. Since the description states that it is easy to cast, I'll bump it down to 10.

I'll come back to this spell another time when going through the building system itself, because it mentions other factors that will be covered later. It has a listed casting time and an area of effect.

Really quickly, a 1st level Magic-User with a 13 Intelligence will have a 50% chance of success to cast this spell.

Lastly, let's mention the Cantrips. They are not necessary at all, but I mention them here because they add something fun. Using the table, Blackflame starts at a difficulty rating of 7, and I'd leave it at that. Looking at other cantrips in the list, I would probably make Flavor a rating of 5. The key to using cantrips is that they cannot do any damage. Regardless of difficulty rating, any spell that does damage must be at least a 1st level spell.

A 1st level Magic-User with a 15 Intelligence (to represent most player characters), will have an 85% chance to cast Flavor and a 75% chance to cast Blackflame.

Using Difficulty Ratings with Class

Okay, I can turn a spell level into a difficulty rating. Now what? How does this work?

At this point, you could use the Spell Point system I mentioned to track the ability to cast spells. The cost of casting the spell is the spell level. Casting a spell deducts from a character's Mana and when Mana is zero, no more spell for you.

For your conveience, here is the table for Mana per level.

Level Mana
1 1
2 2
3 4
4 7
5 11
6 16
7 21
8 27
9 35
10 44
11 54
12 65
13 77
14 90
15 104
16 129
17 145
18 162
19 180
20 200
21 222

If the referee prefers, the traditional spell slot system can also be used.

Another alternative is to say that a Magic-User can attempt to cast a spell in his spellbook until it fails. If the Magic-User has Sleep in the spellbook, he can cast it until the dice betray him. For low level magic-users, this means that they can likely cast more spells per day, but it removes the need for bookkeeping.

Next time, we'll look at building spells based on effect, range, duration, and other factors.