Quick Note – Another alternate magic system idea

Truly this one will be short as it is fresh in my mind and not played with, attempted or anything quite yet.

As anyone who follows my blog knows I have always been rather unhappy with magic systems in the classical and d20 eras of Dungeons and Dragons and the related retro-clones. I hear good things about +Dungeon Crawl Classic’s system but as I am unwilling to shell out 50+ dollars to look at a magic system I cannot personally attest to it.

Previously I have toyed with the idea of magic being flowing and not being forgotten but a host of the magic incurred injury with every spell (or more correctly injured themselves to access their magic) and the idea of familiars as vassals of magic that could be tapped instead of an more easily than a spell book.

Currently I am wondering over the casting of magic being a saving throw with modifiers in both directions and with specific outcomes if the player succeeds or fails.

Again this is very rough … still forming in my eccentric old man brain rough.


Magic-users have three ways in which they can access and control magic. The first is through study and copying the spells they learn in their spell book. The second is by using spells from another person’s spell book or through the use of scrolls with spells written on them. The final way is from memory, with no book or scroll to focus the raw arcane forces the magic-user is trying to make manifest.

When a magic-user wishes to cast a spell he or she must roll a saving throw equal to their wisdom score. If the magic-user is casting from their spell book they incur a -1 to the roll plus a – modifier equal to the level of the spell. If the magic-user is casting from a scroll or another person’s spell book he or she incurs a -2 plus a negative modifier equal to the spell level. If from memory a -3 modifier plus a negative modifier equal to the spell level is incurred.

If the magic-user succeeds the saving throw within normal range the spell goes off like normal. If the magic-user succeeds with a natural 20 (a critical) to the saving throw than the spell has twice the effect it would normally.

If the magic-user fails the saving throw within normal range one of the effects listed below occurs. If the magic-user fails with a natural 1 (a fumble) to the saving throw than the magic burns out their mind and they are effectively brain dead.

Dice Roll (d10)
The spell fizzles and is burned away
Another unintended spell goes off affecting everyone in the encounter
The magic-user forgets how to read or cast magic for 1d4 hours
The spell fizzles away
The energy of the magic backfires causing the magi-user 1d4 damage.
The spell blows-up in the magic-users face causing double its normal effect

Again this is rough, and even I (the master hater of magic-users) think the failure table is a little harsh.

So, thoughts?

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