Open Game Content: New 1st Level B/X-OSE Spells, and Twists on Existing Spells

"Sweet Human Sorcerer"
by Ioana-Mursesan  is licensed by
CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 

My posts lately seem to be going for a record for "longest blog post title," and I always struggle with how much to convey in the titles. Every time I've posted new content, I've prefaced the title with "Open Game Content" to make it clear what it is, but maybe it's implied and I can take that part out? I also always wonder if it's necessary to call out both B/X D&D and Old School Essentials, since they're essentially (pardon the pun) the same thing. But I always worry that some players of each version might not realize that, so if I don't call out both games, I might be alienating a group of people who might end of skipping past my posts.

I posted a few new spells about a week ago, and they generated a lot of good comments both here on my blog as well as in a few old-school gaming Facebook groups, which I really appreciated, because this is actually the first time I've written any new spells for any version of the game. I've definitely used tons of 3rd party spells over the years from various supplements, particularly when creating NPCs as adversaries for my players, but as a player, I don't often get excited about new spells and I tend to play more rogue or fighter types anyway. 

Spell descriptions are one of the last things I read when picking up a new game, and I also am not known for being very creative in how my NPC spellcasters use their spells in combat. I think that's pretty clear from an analysis I got on one of the new spells I posted last time, that I called "Alter Fortune." The spell was intended to have a variety of different effects that the spellcaster could choose from. One of them was to force a subject of the spell, on a failed save, to do only minimum damage for an attack or spell on the next round, and consequently, the caster would be able to do maximum damage that round. My intent was that the spell would be used against a powerful enemy or spellcaster, and it was a 1st-level spell, so my thinking was, the caster would be lower level, so the "maximum damage" wouldn't be that bad.  Of course, it turns out that I wasn't really thinking clearly when I wrote that spell, as a commentator on Facebook pointed out that a mid-level or high-level caster could target a low-level minion (or even worse, one of his own hirelings or henchmen) who have a much lower chance of making their saving throw, so the spell would most likely work as intended, and then cast a higher-level spell for maximum damage. That was never how I intended the spell to be used, and it was sloppy writing and planning on my part. I've edited that part of the spell to tone it down a lot, especially given that it's a 1st level spell. 

Another thing I did was re-write some existing spells with a different flavor to make them a bit more weird, and oftentimes to have a small consequence that affects the caster. It was pointed out to me, and I think rightly so, that it might be better to simply just have a table or some kind of template mentioning what was different from the standard spell versus completely re-writing it and changing the name. I do think that makes sense, and it also is causing me to be a bit more creative and prolific than I first intended by creating 12 all-new spells for each level, as well as writing the "weird modifications" separately. 

All of this is for potential future publication for a small booklet I'm working on that will feature the B/X (and Old School Essentials) Sorcerer class I wrote last year. In addition to the class itself, and 12 sorcerer bloodline modifications, there will also be new spells so that, if the player and referee want, the sorcerer's spell list can be completely different from magic-users and elves. I also have notes on adding some other options for changing/modifying magic, and running campaigns around different themes for sorcerers. 

And now without any more background, here are the new spells I've written so far for 1st level. As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions, and/or criticisms.

[Note: A couple of these spells were inspired by spells from Fantastic Heroes & Witchery]

1st Level Arcane Spells

Duration: 1 turn + 1 round/level
Range: 60’

Causes living creatures to become aggressive and argumentative with everyone around them, including both allies and enemies. Targets must save versus spells, or their aggression will lead to combat between allies in 1d3 rounds.

The caster may target up to 2d8 Hit Dice of creatures. Certain naturally aggressive creatures may suffer a -2 penalty to their saving throws, per referee discretion.

At the end of the spell’s duration, the targets realize they have been manipulated and turn their aggression toward the caster.

Alter Fortune
Duration: 1 turn
Range: 60’

A single humanoid creature must save versus spells or suffer ill luck, while the caster gains reciprocal good luck. The caster chooses one of the following effects:


·        Attack Rolls: Subject must re-roll next successful attack roll; caster re-rolls next failed attack roll

·        Damage: Subject applies -2 to damage (minimum 1 Hit Point) on next successful attack or spell; caster gains +2 to damage to next successful attack or spell against the target

·        Saving Throw: Subject must re-roll next successful saving throw; caster re-rolls next failed saving throw

·        Spells: Subject casts the wrong spell of the same level (determined randomly); no effect for caster

Restrictions: Humanoids of greater than 4 +1 HD are not affected. 

Attack Intuition
Duration: 1d4 +1 rounds
Range: The caster

The caster glimpses into the future to see multiple attack outcomes, bestowing a +4 bonus to the caster’s next attack roll. Once the caster makes an attack, the spell’s effect ends.

For the next 2d4 turns after casting the spell, the caster’s temperament turns violent, causing a -2 penalty to any reaction rolls (see Encounters in Core Rules).

Battle Awareness
Duration: 1 round per level
Range: The caster

The caster is supernaturally attuned to incoming attacks. The first time the caster is attacked during the spell’s duration, the attack automatically misses. After this failed attack, the spell’s effect ends.

Bestial Vitality
Duration: 3 rounds +1 round/level
Range: The caster

The caster gains athletic abilities reminiscent of feline and other creatures, as follows:

  • Fall: 20’ without taking damage
  • Jump: 20’ wide spaces
  • Climb: Sheer surfaces with 90% chance of success
  • AC: Gain +2 to AC from missile attacks and when retreating from melee

For the duration of the spell, the caster grows dark fur, and the eyes and teeth take on a feline appearance, conferring a -1 penalty on the monster reaction roll table (see Encounters in Core Rules).  

Eldritch Perseverance
Duration: 2d4 turns
Range: 240’

Allies within a 20’ radius within the range of the spell begin to glow with a mysterious eldritch energy, granting them a +1 bonus to attack rolls and the ability to re-test failed morale checks. The bonus increases by +1 per five experience levels (+2 at 6th – 10th level, +3 at 11th – 15th level, etc.).

The eldritch energy leaves allies feeling unsettled. After the duration of the spell, NPC allies will not approach caster for 24 hours.

Duration: 1 turn
Range: 30’

This spell targets one creature, enticing it with an irresistible sense of greed to possess a small mundane item designated by the caster, such as a coin, gem, or piece of jewelry. The target must save versus spells or be focused on the object to the exclusion of any other activity. The subject will move toward the object in the most efficient way possible while crying out that the object is theirs and they must have it. The creature will not do anything dangerous such as jump off a cliff or walk into fire to retrieve the object but will get as close as possible and then stare at the object until there is a safe way to acquire it. For the duration of the spell, the target cannot attack or take any actions other than moving toward the object and trying to grab it.

At the end of the spell’s duration, the object disappears, and the target is bewildered for 1d3 rounds. Roll on the following table to determine the subject’s actions:


Greed: Subject Actions




Flee to try to find the item


Scream “they stole it!”


Attack the caster and demand the item

Horrific Visage
Duration: 1 turn + special
Range: The caster

The caster’s features morph into an otherworldly and sinister aspect, unnerving any creatures within a 20’ radius. Creatures who are successfully attacked by the caster must save versus spells or attempt to flee. If they are unable to flee, any attacks they make on the caster suffer a -2 penalty to attack rolls and damage (minimum damage of 1 Hit Point).

Restrictions: Undead and creatures over 4 +1 Hit Dice are immune.

Special: At the end of the spell’s duration, a supernatural residue of the features remains for an additional 2d4 turns, causing the caster to suffer a -2 penalty to reaction rolls (see Encounters in Core Rules).

Obstruct the Divine
Duration: 1 turn
Range: The caster or a creature touched

This spell offers protection against divine magic, bestowing a +2 bonus on saving throws against divine magic. Against subjects with a different alignment, the bonus increases to +3.

After casting this spell, the caster is marked with an invisible symbol that is instantly recognizable by divine spellcasters, and which cannot be removed. 

Perilous Insight
Duration: 3 turns
Range: The caster

Nebulous, otherworldly, and capricious spirits from beyond space and time appear that are only visible to the caster. The caster enters a trance and begins speaking in an unintelligible language and can ask the spirits up to three questions concerning the general area or the people that dwell there. Each question requires one turn to ask and receive an answer.  

Asking questions requires an NPC reaction roll modified by the caster’s Charisma modifier and with a +1 bonus as follows:


Perilous Insight: Spirit Reactions



2 or less

1 yes-or-no question only; the spirits are hostile and evasive with a 50% chance of lying


1 yes-or-no question


2 yes-or-no questions


3 yes-or-no questions


3 questions with details

Duration: 1 round +1 round/level
Range: 60’

A non-lawful creature must save versus spells or be overwhelmed with remorse about past evil deeds. It can take no actions for the duration of the spell.

If the creature saves, it gains +1 to attack rolls against the caster for the duration of the spell.

Shifting Viewpoint
Duration: 1 turn/level
Range: The caster

The caster draws upon the mysteries of unnatural angles to see from a different perspective. The caster can choose any viewpoint within line of site at a range of 30’ plus 5’ per level. The caster cannot see through solid objects but can create a new viewpoint to see around a corner or choose an elevated viewpoint to get a bird’s eye view. While the spell is active, the caster can change viewpoints or return to normal vision once per round.

Using shifting viewpoint causes vertigo, and the caster is at -1 to attack rolls for the duration of the spell.   

Those are the spells I have so far - I'm working on 2nd level and will post those sometime next week. Also, below are the changes I've made to existing spells to add some weird flavor and consequences. 

Charm Person
New Name: Evil Eye
Changes: This is pretty much a wholesale change of how the spell works, combining the duration, range, restrictions, and target type from Charm Person with the spell effects of the 2nd level Cleric spell, Blight (the reverse of Bless). Instead of charming the target, it causes them to suffer a -1 penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, and morale checks. The penalty increases by one for every five levels (-2 at 6th level - 10th level; -3 at 11th level - 15th level, etc.). The subject of the spell feels uncomfortable in the presence of the caster. At the end of the spell's duration, the subject has a 50% chance to either attack the caster immediately, or to move away without making contact or harming the caster.  
Notes: The idea behind this spell is channeling "charm" type magic for negative purposes, with the subject being completely aware of what's happening but unable to break the "charm." 

Detect Magic
New Name: Expose Magical Veil
Changes: Instead of glowing, enchanted objects whisper and chant in an unnerving, unknown language that may attract unwanted attention, and causes fear in the caster's enemies within the spell's range. Subjects must save versus spells or move away from the source of the whispering. 
Notes: I just liked the idea of changing it from a simple glowing magic effect to the items whispering and chanting. It seemed creepy, and would also potentially echo throughout an underground environment, drawing the attention of wandering monsters. 

Hold Portal
New Name: Supernatural Seal
Changes: The seal is visible as an unsettling swirling mass of eldritch energy. If trying to force the seal open by physical means, subjects of a different alignment than the caster take 1d4 damage when making the attempt. 
Notes: My original idea was to see a bunch of otherworldly tentacles wrap around and hold the door/portal, but I toned that down a bit. 

New Name: Ghostly Luminescence
New Range: The caster
Changes: The caster starts to glow with a soft, eerie light that changes colors depending on the caster's mood. The light covers a 15' radius from the caster. The light makes the caster more visible in darkness, but enemies must save versus spells or be at -2 on attack rolls against the caster. 
Notes: This obviously makes the caster much more vulnerable, as usually one would cast it on an inanimate object and ideally give it to a stronger, more protected party member to hold. The idea of the caster himself/herself glowing seemed fun to me, with the color of the light constantly shifting. It's obviously not as flexible as a standard light spell, hence the penalty for attacking the caster. 

Magic Missile
New Name: Sorcerous Tendrils
Changes: Instead of a bolt of magical energy, it's a tendril of void magic, eldritch power, or some other unknown sorcery that whips forward from the caster to unerringly strike targets. Instead of 1d6 +1 damage, it does 1d6 + "effect" (roll D6): 1) -1 to AC for 1d3 rounds; 2) Paralyzed, no actions for 1 round; 3) Slowed to half movement for 1d3 rounds; 4) Attack rolls at -1 for 1d3 rounds; 5) Blinded for 1d3 rounds; 6) +1 additional point of damage per tendril. 
Notes: This is a minor change that's mainly aesthetic (change from a bolt to a weird snaking tendril), and with a random additional effect instead of just straight damage. 

Read Languages
New Name: Decipher the Archaic & Weird
Changes: Only works on extinct or alien languages (not native living languages). For 24 hours after reading the unknown language, the caster gains a supernatural insight, granting a +1 bonus to all ability checks during that time. However, the caster must succeed on a Charisma ability score check when attempting to speak during that same 24 hour period, or else begin speaking in the unknown tongue. Others will not be able to understand the caster, resulting in a -2 penalty on the NPC reaction roll table.  
Notes: As with many of these small changes to existing spells, the goal was to add an element of "stuff that is unknown" and introduce a small consequence for a caster that could lead to some interesting role-playing opportunities. 

New Name: Dragon Scales
Changes: The AC bonus is AC 4 [15] only; there's no difference between melee and missile attacks. The caster also gains a +2 bonus to saving throws versus dragon breath and fire-based spells. The caster appears to be wearing dragon hide armor, and suffers a -2 penalty to reaction rolls against dragons while the spell is active. The referee may alter what type of spell damage receives the saving throw bonus based on the color of the dragon scales (e.g., cold-based spells for white dragon scales or electricity-based spells for blue dragon scales, etc.).  
Notes: This was an attempt as an homage to the strong connection between sorcerers and "dragon blood" in 3rd - 5th editions.

New Name: Nightmare
Changes: This works exactly the same as a standard sleep spell, except instead of falling asleep, the targets are paralyzed in a waking nightmare. The effects are exactly the same, including the ability to use a bladed weapon to instantly kill a subject. Subjects who survive are at -1 to attack the caster in the future. 
Notes: The thought of someone being trapped in a nightmare and unable to take any actions was pretty creepy - I imagine people walking past a small group of soldiers or brigands, their eyes bugged out and their mouths open in a silent scream, unable to react as the part of adventurers walk by. Such a sight could unnerve even the bravest adventurer. 

Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: San Pellegrino Sparkling Water
Listening: "Pick Up - 12" Extended Disco Version" by DJ Koze from the single, "Pick Up." 


  1. These are pretty cool. I will drop a few in the next spellbook or scroll my characters find in my Swords & Wizardry campaign.

    1. Thank you - glad you are finding them useful. Stay tuned over the next few weeks. I'll be adding new spells for Levels 1-6. I already have about half of the 2nd level spells written, and notes on quite a few of the other levels.

      Cheers - thanks for reading and commenting.

  2. These altered ones are really great.

    1. Awesome - glad you like them! I thought they evoked a certain amount of atmosphere without substantially changing the base spells upon which they are based.

      I had a thought that perhaps there are two factions of magic-users - one uses the standard array from the primary rulebook, and the other uses altered versions like these.

    2. That would be really interesting to watch unfold in a campaign.

  3. I really like the min damage/max damage approach to Alter Fortune, Martin. It's too bad there's not some way to make it work as you originally intended. Maybe a level-difference restriction on the spells would allow it to work as you'd envisioned? Something like saying that the max damage spell can't be more than a level or two higher than the "nerfed" spell? Just thinking out loud...


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