Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Open Game Content for B/X or Old School Essentials: Sorcerer

[Note: I updated this class with a revised XP progression as well updating the Spells Known and Spells Per Day, and I also added in a table for D12 Sorcerer Subclasses. You can find the revision here.]

In this post, I present an Old School Essentials (OSE) compatible version of the 3E - 5E Sorcerer (a spontaneous magic-user that doesn't have to memorize spells from a spellbook ahead of time). I also briefly discuss the upcoming OSE campaign I'll be running.

As I've been writing about, I'm working on a Dungeons & Dragons campaign to run for my daughter and her friends. I had planned to have our first session in person, but given everything going on right now, it looks like we'll have our "Session 0" on a video chat where I'll go over the rules and explain the basic principles of the game (none of them have played before and do not own the rulebooks), and help them roll-up their characters. I had dice delivered to them this week (in their favorite colors!), and I've been working on sketching out the bare bones of a campaign world based on some notes I found scribbled on a bunch of old NPCs I created back in the 1980's for a discarded world I never got off the ground.

We'll be playing OSE and while my plan is to start out by playing it pretty much by-the-book using the Classic Fantasy Genre Rules, I also just like to tinker with things. Coming up with house rules and variants is helping keep my brain engaged and help me pass the time and be less anxious with all of the Corona Virus news going on and being stuck at home (I live in California; our entire state is basically locked-down right now).

One of the things I've been searching for online, but couldn't find, was a B/X or OSE version of the Sorcerer class that first appeared in 3rd Edition. For those of you old-schoolers who never tried 3rd, 4th, or 5th Edition, a sorcerer is really just a small twist on a magic-user, allowing them to cast their known spells spontaneously, rather than having to memorize and prepare them ahead of time. As a "cost" for doing so, they know fewer spells overall and can't learn new spells from scrolls or spellbooks. There's a lot of flavor elements, in that they usually have some kind of magical bloodline (draconic being the most common) and sometimes the bloodlines affect the spells they can select, but that's really just window-dressing.

I've written before that I used to think the sorcerer doesn't need to be a separate class; just treat it as a magic-user, allow spontaneous casting, and maybe give them one fewer spell per level. While that is definitely a way you could go, and I think it could work fine, I wanted to write-up a more detailed version and work out the requirements and experience points, to make them fall more in line with the 3rd Edition sorcerer (more weapon and armor options being among them).

Below is what I came up with. I'd really like to hear your comments and suggestions on whether I missed anything, if the experience point progression looks correct, etc. In particular, I'm not sure about the limit to 4th level spells, but I was trying to come up with some options to make them different enough from a standard magic-user so that there was a cost for not having to memorize and prepare spells ahead of time.

To see more content I've created for B/X or OSE, check out these labels: B/X, Basic DnD, Labyrinth Lord, Old School Essentials, Open Game Content.

Hanging: Home office (laptop); on "stay-at-home" orders until further notice
Drinking: Alesmith Sublime Mexican Lager
Listening: "Blue in Green" by the Bill Evans Trio


Sorcerers are adventurers who, due to some sort of mystical ancestry, have an innate ability to cast arcane magic spells. Sorcerers have more flexibility when casting their spells than a magic-users, but they are not able to cast spells of the highest level.

Arcane Magic
See Magic in Core Rules for full details on arcane magic.
Magical Research: Unlike magic-users and elves, sorcerers may not conduct magical research.
Spell Casting: Sorcerers do not carry spell books, nor do they need to prepare their spells ahead of time. Instead, a sorcerer knows a number of spells as shown on the level progression table, based on the character’s experience level. Thus, a 1st level sorcerer knows one spell, selected by the referee (who may allow the player to choose). Sorcerers use the list of Magic-User Spells, from the Classic Fantasy Genre Rules supplement.

A sorcerer may cast any spell known without having to prepare it ahead of time. The sorcerer may cast any spells known at any time, as long as the sorcerer has not used up the spells per day for that spell level, as shown on the level progression table.

Some sorcerers choose their spells according to a theme based on their magical bloodline, but this is purely for role-playing reasons and is not a requirement.

Because of their need for freedom of movement, sorcerers cannot wear armour heavier than leather and cannot use shields. Their weapon options are limited, but more varied than a standard magic-user.

After Reaching 11th Level
A sorcerer may build a stronghold, often in an area of magical significance or reclaiming an ancestral fortress. 1d4 apprentice sorcerers of levels 1-3 will then arrive to learn the ways of sorcery. The stronghold may also attract other followers or creatures (1d3 cultists, or 1d2 creatures related to the sorcerer’s magical bloodline as determined by the referee).

Magical Bloodline Ideas

Demons, Dragons, Dreamworld, Faeries, Holy, touched by the Great Old Ones, Shadows, Storms, “Wild magic”


  1. Post on FB, but also here.
    One of the big features about Sorcerers in 3e is how many spells they know vs. how many they can cast. They should have tables for Known Spells and Spells per Day. Typically they know fewer spells than the same level wizard, but can cast them more often.

    1. Thanks again, Tim. I really appreciate your input and your time. I'm going to fiddle around with it and publish a revised version soon. There seems to be some consensus from a few people that the XP progression is too quick and they are better than a standard magic-user, which wasn't my intent - I just wanted them to be a bit different. I used the Custom Class Calculator from Dragon #109 to come up with my estimates, but many people think it's off.

      Cheers and thanks again.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks! Seeing the pic of that Time Life Wizards and Witches book sure takes me back! I still have all of my books from that series on my bookshelf in our living room.

      I have to spend a bit more time digging into your post, but interestingly, one particular comment on my post on Facebook is that the XP is much too low and this person suggested lowering the Hit Dice to D4 and increasing the Level 1 XP to 3,000.


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