Category Archives: Spells

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.

Back Alleys: A Preview Of Sorts

So I’m working on a little supplement/fanzine for Dark Streets and Darker Secrets. The current working title is Back Alleys. So I figured I share a little preview of one of things coming up.

Possession and Exorcism

Possessing Entity
HD: 3+
Damage Resistant: When a Possessing Entity is inhabiting a host, it (and the host) take half damage from mundane attacks. If the entity is expelled/exorcised then it is immaterial and immune from damage from mundane attacks.
Possession: The entity may take over the body of a mortal and inhabit it. Can be resisted with a successful WILL Test.
Poltergeist: The Possessing Entity may hurl loose objects doing base damage based on its HD. A successful AGILITY Test halves the damage.

A New Gift/Ritual
Exorcism is an exhausting ritual that takes PL Hours to cast. It will expel a Possessing Entity of PL HD. The Entity may resist with a WILL Test (assume 10+HD Willpower). If the caster increases the PL above the Entity’s HD then the Entity resists as per the Powerful Enemy rule.

Right now, I’m working on three new archetypes, some magical artifacts and host of horrors to disembowel the player characters. And yes there’s something for Solar Blades & Cosmic Spells but more that later.

Minor Psychics

I find a game and then go crazy on it. And such is the case with Dark Streets and Darker Secrets. And as I’ve said before there are a lot of ideas bouncing around inside my head. There’s redoing New Bay City and putting some gentle modifications DS&DS better fit. And in that vein, here’s the first installment. Going through my old New Bay City notes and going through the rule book, I noticed that one of the NPC’s just didn’t quite fit and I also wanted to have this option open for player characters. So the idea of the Minor Psychic took form.

First, the Minor Psychic is not an Archetype but an option that can be added onto any other Archetype except for The Gifted. This isn’t a flash bang type power. Instead the character has visions, can perform Psychometry, minor acts of divination and just get a bad feeling about a person, place, or thing. The GM can use at their discretion to give the PC’s a clue, lead, or even a warning. Heck, it’s even good to use as an adventure hook.
Of course, the players will want to actually use this too. The quick and easy method: Just make a Luck Check. If you want to go with something different, I’ve got an alternate idea. Make a Willpower Test using 2d20. If both dice fail, then no vision/nothing. If one succeeds then there’s some quick and vague visions. If both dice succeed then the character has a much clearer and more accurate vision.
Like I said before, this ability is tacked onto an existing archetype but it ain’t free. When the character’s ability manifested there probably wasn’t anyone around who could explain it to them or guide them. Therefore, the character begins play with 1d6 less Sanity than normal.
There you go and more to come. Unpleasant Dreams!

Deed Die for Wizards? Why not?

Yep, another little house rule tweak that popped into my head for Dungeon Crawl Classics. It’s simple and can makes things a little more interesting.
Instead of the normal wizardly spell casting bonus of the character’s level, replace it with a Deed Die. Just look at the Fighter progression table to see what die type a wizard of equal level would get and there you go. This really underscores the chaotic nature of magic. That fifth level magic user rolls a one on the Deed Die and poorly on the d20. Well, tough luck.
Going along with the Deed Die theme, why not add in some Mighty Acts of the Arcane. Want a small side or special effect for that spell? GO FOR IT! And it works the same way as Mighty Deeds of Arms.
What about that Natural Twenty roll? For that the gets to roll and additional Deed Die and add that onto the total.
Now, this is just an idea and I haven’t play tested it and who knows somebody probably smarter and prettier than me has already thought of this idea. Heck, this idea will probably be tweaked and twisted a few times before it makes it to the table.

Making Healing Dangerous

This is one of those strange ideas that popped into my head as I was getting ready to fall asleep. What if healing wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be? What if it was addictive? Generally, healing spells are defined as using positive energy to mend up damage or some other condition. So what if filling somebody with positive energy felt good. I mean really good. This is supposed to the ultimate in life energy in the universe so shouldn’t it? And shouldn’t mortals get a little bit of sensory overload when they’re hit with it?
To the crunchy bits:
Characters can received magical healing once per day without any danger. Each time after the first, the character must make a Saving Throw versus Magic with a cumulative -1 penalty. If the character fails the save then they are addicted to healing and the feeling of being filled with positive divine energy. The character must receive a number of spell level’s worth of healing equal to their level daily or suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls and saving throws. The -2 penalty increases by – for each day that the character doesn’t received enough healing energy. Healing potions do not fulfill the craving. The character will go as far as inflicting injury upon themselves just to get healed.
OK. Now that’s pretty nasty. But wait there’s more.
Less than honest clerics have been known to intentionally get some poor souls addicted to positive energy as tool for material gain, power, or coerced conversion. But then sometimes this scheme will backfire when the cleric can’t provide enough healing and then gets ripped apart by an angry mob of addicts going through withdrawal.
There you go some food for thought and little crazy nasty idea to throw into a campaign.