Category Archives: Spells

Deathbringer: Magic & Monsters. Oh My!

I make it no secret that I’m a fan of the simple Deathbringer rules. They are simple without being too rules lite. They are pretty much compatible with any edition’s adventures. And it’s really easy to hack. One thing that I find is a feature is that there’s no spell list nor any monsters. Why? Well, why add the same old monsters and magic again? Really. Just use the version you want.

There’s tons of books of monsters and spells and since I’m an old-school kind of guy I figure I should dig around a pick a few that are off the beaten path.

Shadowdark/Cursed Scroll Zine: The core book will be released soon but I’ve got my hands on the beta rules, the quick start, and Cursed Scroll. Sure there’s the usual spells but there’s also a few that take a bit of grim dark turn. The spell descriptions are to the point. No extra blah. And it uses zoned combat and a roll-to-cast system. This is what I’m using in my current campaign.

Black Libram of Naratus: While this one is designed for Castles & Crusades, it’s not hard to convert. And yes there is a warning that these aren’t meant for player characters since they are pretty evil but then making a few available could an interesting and corrupting touch.

Realms of Crawling Chaos: You want some Lovecraftian monsters and spells. Well here you go.

Teratic Tome and Lusus Naturae: Both by Rafael Chandler. If you want weird, gory, and completely out there and usual not safe for work and some adults. Then take a look. Really, there’s some crazy, dark stuff in there.

Check out the Dark Arts series by Kai Putz. You get a bit of everything monsters, magic items, and spells. And all dirt cheap.

Yeah, I know I didn’t include probably someone’s favorite. And just maybe right now, I’m getting in the mood for a weird, grim dark type of campaign. But more about that later.

Unpleasant dreams!

YARC: Arcane Vs Divine Magic Part 2

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.

YARC: Arcane vs Divine Magic-Part 1

Arcane and Divine Magic has always bugged me. Let’s face it they both work basically the same. Pray/memorize spells and assign them to slots. Then cast when needed and hope you chose wisely.

The one that’s really bugged me is Divine Magic. It just didn’t sit well with me. I’ve played around with a couple ideas and I think I’ve finally come up with something that works, is fun, and is efficient at the table.

My old idea was that Clerics would pray for their spells as they needed them. You know sort of like a televangelist faith healer. Cool. Kind of fits my idea of how they should work but it’s a real drag at the table as the player flips through the book and finds the exact spell they need.

My working rules runs a bit long the way I’m doing spell allocation for Magic-Users (See below) plus their own mechanics. First, there’s a couple of things that must be chosen when the character is created. When they must pray. I set this at dawn, noon, dusk, or midnight. If the cleric doesn’t pray at the appointed time then they don’t get any spells until their time comes up again. The gods don’t care that you’re in the middle of fight with a bunch of orcs or just slept in because you caroused too much the night before. The second thing chose at first level is a Vow. It’s something extra beyond Alignment or any other limits based on the setting. This can be anything inconvenient or interesting. Maybe something like can never sleep on the ground. Or won’t eat meat. Or will only eat meat. Violating a Vow means the character won’t get any spells until they visit a temple or shrine and atone for their sin.

There’s a couple of things about allocation of spells. First, clerics chose their spells know when they gain a level and can’t change them until they gain a level. So once again choose wisely. A cleric has a number of spells “memorized” equal to their Level+Wisdom Modifier. They highest level of spell that they may have is equal to one half their level.

How many spells can the cleric cast each day? They don’t know. The actual level of the spell doesn’t matter. It’s a power that they have from their god. To determine how many spells that the cleric may cast, I’m combining two ideas. First, the good old Usage Die from Black Hack. I’m calling it a Faith Dice. The second is the Proficiency Die from the 5E DMG for what type of die a cleric gets based on level.

So for Levels 1 to 4, it’s a d4. Levels 5 to 8, d6. Levels 9 to 10, d8. I’m going to Level 10, BTW. So here’s how it works. Cast a spell, roll the Faith Die. If it comes up a 1, then the spell still goes off but if the Faith Die is a d4 then the character is out for the day. If it’s a higher die type then the Faith Die goes down on die step, d6 becomes a d4. Get it?

Saving throws and spell attack rolls are calculated as they are in 5E.

Up next. More thoughts on Arcane Magic. Stay tuned.

Scandinavian Legendary Creatures for Barbaric!

Yes, it’s more stuff for Barbaric! Like I’ve said before, I’m really loving this simple and rules efficient games. So let’s get on with another cool supplement that’s out there.

Scandinavian Legendary Creatures is tight little PDF that’s gives you thirteen new monsters from Scandinavian folklore and 66 new spells plus a couple more optional rules for your game.

The monsters are familiar to most that have played fantasy games before so if you’re basing your campaign in an original setting then they are still useful. One good thing is that there’s a good variety of monsters and the author did a good take on many. I like how monsters use Traits for that extra bit of punch. The Draugar are especially nasty. And who doesn’t want to test their mettle against a Linworm. Like I said there’s a good variety of monsters that can be used no matter the setting.

For me, the big bonus is the spell list. Most of the spells are conversions from of the standard D&D spells that didn’t make it into the core Barbaric rules. Of course, many players will want access to something like those familiar spells like Magic Missile or Haste. There’s new one’s too. I like Bone Bow and Sticky Floor. The names pretty much say what they do. So this is a valuable resource for GM’s.

Rounding out the PDF are a couple of optional rules. One is Fame system. Since Barbaric doesn’t have an Alignment system this adds a way to reward characters for not being totally evil. Do good things and you get good things like reduction in prices or help from the locals. Do bad things and well get penalties for reaction and pay higher prices. Now, I don’t know if an average merchant who recognizes the character as soulless psychopath is going to charge them more. That might be a good way to end up being hacked into little pieces. There’s also a quick and very short rule to make combat even more dangerous by increasing the chance for character’s to score critical hits.

Overall, I’m pleased with material. It adds more tricks and options options for the game, especially the spells like I said. But I have to admit that there a few typos here and there. Yes, I’m guilty of the same. There’s also a couple of places where I think there was some minor hiccups on layout where a paragraph has odd line spacing. For me those aren’t a huge deal but I know they drive some folks crazy.

You can pick up Scandinavian Legendary Creatures on DrivethruRPG.

Forgotten Tales of Sword & Sorcery: Spells

This week I decided to preview a couple of spells. One that’s an old standard to see how I’ve changed it and a couple of new ones. Not only did I change the way magic worked, I changed some of the spells as well.

First, I kicked out the “artillery” spells. You know Fireball and Lightning Bolt. These just didn’t seem to fit my view of a low magic setting. You want to do some massive damage? Summon something weird. I also dropped spells that seemed to emulate more mundane effects like Light (Just light a damned torch) and Knock. And finally I combined a few spells that had similar effects. Remove Curse is an effect added to Dispel Magic. Commune, Augury, and Contact Other Plane are mixed together into a single spell.

And here’s the spells:

Magic Missile

Spell Level: 1

Range: 150 Feet

Casting Time: 1 Round

Duration: Instant

The spell caster conjures arcane power to destroy his foes. The character launches a missile that does 1d6+the caster’s Arcanum score in damage. Each +4 of damage becomes an extra d6 of damage as with weapons. The caster must succeed on a Ranged Attack roll.

So the first thing you might notice is that it takes an attack roll to hit. This may seem a bit extreme of a take but I really wanted to direct damage spells to be the least efficient way of causing damage to opponents. So one of other things I did was toss out the area affect damage spells (Lightning Bolt and Fire Ball). There plenty of other ways that a spell caster can damage an opponent but there’s some risk or something else they have to do like an attack roll. You might also notice that I interjected another rule into the spell’s description. The +4 Damage rule. You many have noticed it if you started doing the math on the preview NPC’s. In a nutshell, each +4 modifier on damage becomes an extra d6. So, 1d6+5 would become 2d6+1.

Spirit Fog

Spell Level: 3

Range: 30 foot radius centered on Caster

Duration: 1 round/Point of Arcanum

The caster surrounds themselves with an eerie green fog. Any ghost, spirit or immaterial creature that enters the area becomes susceptible to mundane attacks. Additionally, any invisible creatures are outlined with an unearthly green glow.

Spirit Fog is a new spell. As you may have noticed, there’s no Clerics. So many of their magical tasks would fall to the Sorcerers. But I didn’t want to just copy and paste Cleric Class abilities into the Sorcerer class. Additionally, Sword & Sorcery is low magic. The chance that characters have magic weapons is slim. But they still should have a way to encounter and possibly overcome such opponents.

Control Undead

Spell Level: 2

Range: 60 Feet Radius centered on caster

Duration: 10 minutes per Point of Arcanum of the Caster.

This spell affects only mindless undead. Each creature within the area of effect of the spell are allowed to resist with a Saving Throw. Those who fail come under the caster’s control for the duration. Since these are mindless undead any complex commands will likely be misunderstood by them.

Since I mentioned Clerics, their Turn Undead is their key ability. Something like that was needed but it needed to be different. And that leads us to Control Undead. Of course, it only affects mindless undead. Free willed undead should be scary. Having no way of controlling or turning them makes them even scarier.

Don’t worry there’s also various tweaks to monsters to follow along with over all concepts that I talked about. That preview is coming up.