Yesterday, I ranted about Divine Magic. Today, it’s about the Arcane.
The good part of this one is that I’ve used big chunks of this previously without any problem. I’ve taken some inspiration from Dungeon Crawl Classics, Faraway Land OSR Edition, and 5E Hardcore Mode on this one.
Part of this is similar to the way clerics determine the quantity of spells. Magic-Users begin knowing their Intelligence Modifier+2 spells. These spells can be up to 3rd level. (Don’t worry. This make sense later.) Once a Magic-User knows a spell then they know it. There’s no memorization as normal but they do need to study their spell books and scribble down whatever magical secrets they may discover or figure out. The catch is they only learn new spells from scrolls, research, or a spell book. They don’t learn spells just by leveling up. And a side note, in my world, a spell book can only be used to learn new spells if the original author is dead.
The Magic-User rolls for a Spell Quirk for each spell they know. This may be nothing. Or something annoying. This idea comes from the Mercurial Magic from Dungeon Crawl Classics. If they want to get ride of it then they have to learn the spell again and roll again. Thus having two versions of the same spell.
Spells Safely Cast per Day equal the character’s level+Intelligence modifier. The Highest Level Spell the character may safely cast equals one half their level. Note, I’m saying safely cast, they can cast dangerously. Just keep on reading. Magic-Users have to roll to cast. 5E gave a quick and easy solution to this. Just use that normal “Spell Attack Bonus). Exactly the same. Use that. If it’s spell that needs an attack roll then just do it as one roll and need to beat the Target AC or the Spell Casting DC (which is 10+ Spell Level). This also means that you can Crit a Spell (Max Effect or doesn’t count against daily allowance) or Fumble. Roll on that chart and hope you don’t blow up. If they just fail then they wasted the round and burned one of their spells/day. And a target’s Saving Throw DC is calculated the same as 5e.
On a small side note. While I was coming up this I was also thinking about skills. So ditch that Arcana skill. Kick it to the curb. Just use that “Spell Attack Bonus”.
Back to the subject at hand. Note before that I said. Safely cast. The Magic-User can dangerously cast. This is where things get interesting. If any of the following conditions are met then the spell is cast dangerously:
- Casting too high level spell.
- Out of “Spells/Day”
- Casting without studying or possessing your spell book.
- Casting in Armor.
- Not at full HP.
For the mechanic, just make that casting roll at Disadvantage. Now, I’ve been think about adding some sort double-Disadvantage to this because often the character will have a good chance to have Disadvantage from more than one source.
Under this, like with the clerics, there’s no spell slots or what ever. It doesn’t matter when it come to spells/day. Some spells like Fireball have character level depend effects. If you’re using on old-school list then just run with that. If you’re using the 5E list then spells are cast at their “native” level. There’s no spell slots to cast at a higher level. You just have learn that spell at a higher level for those greater effects.
In summary, I haven’t exactly decided which of those spell lists to use for both Arcane and Divine Magic. All my players have the 5E books. So I’m leaning that way.