White Box Wednesday: Magic-Users

This week I’m going to delve into Magic-Users and do a little bit of house ruling. To be honest, I never liked the Vancian magic. I understand the resource management, game balance, and origin of it. But I just don’t like. It doesn’t blend that well with so much fantasy sagas.

So there’s two systems that I’ve used in my games and they do have some similarities and that’s where I’ll start. Magic-Users start with their INT MOD+1 spells. They only learn new spells by acquiring ancient tomes, spell books, scroll; or they can learn them through research. (I generally use the spell research rules from Lamentations of the Flame Princess.) The highest level spell that a Magic-User can cast is equal to half their level rounded up which is basically the way it works in the book.

Method A: The Magic-User may cast their INT Mod+Level spells per day. Spell level doesn’t matter. That’s how many spells they can cast. It’s a quick and simple system. I’ll admit I was inspired by the Far Away Land OSR Edtion for this method.

Method B: Roll To Cast. That’s roll them dice to cast the spell. Most White Box skill systems that I’ve talked about use the good old X in d6 system. But I don’t think it’ works in this case. I think the spell is basically the Magic-User attacking reality. So it’s time to break out a d20 and use the good old Saves as Skills idea. So make a Saving Throw. No modifiers at all. Make the Save and cast the spell. Fail then the character loses the spell for the day. Fumble then very bad things happen. The DM needs to snag up one of the many Spell Fumble/Mishap Charts online or just write on up. The thing is the chart isn’t fair. Magic is powerful but it’s also dangerous. If you haven’t had a TPK due to friendly fire then you haven’t played enough old school games.

And there you go. A couple of little rules tweaks the Magic-Users in your White Box game.

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One thought on “White Box Wednesday: Magic-Users”

  1. I have long suspected that Magic Users were not intended as a PC class in the original game.

    Yes, the rules are there for playing MUs, but their uselessness in hand to hand combat plus the huge amount of experience required to get to a level where they can be effective makes running them a chore.

    Plus, there is a whole section of rules regarding how to hire mages to cast a particular spell, what it costs, how likely you are to find them, and so on.

    Liked by 1 person

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