Open Game Content: New 3rd Level B/X-OSE Arcane Spells

"DND Sorcerer," by TchyTamara
is licensed by CC BY-NC-ND 3.0 

My follow-up to adding new "arcane" (e.g., Magic-User and Elf) spells for B/X D&D (also suitable for Old School Essentials and most old-school games of your choice - these should work as is for BECMI or D&D Rules Encyclopedia, for example, and with few modifications for 1st or 2nd Edition, etc.). My 1st level spells are here and 2nd level are here. As always, I appreciate your comments, suggestions, changes, and criticisms of these as I work to fine-tune them for eventual publication in a short supplement. Comments are moderated to prevent SPAM but I promise I'll read and reply if you leave a comment. 

As I mentioned before, these were initially intended as spells for my Revised B/X-OSE Sorcerer class, but you can use them in a variety of different ways without that class: 

  • Magic-Users versus Elves: Perhaps Magic-Users use the traditional spell list, and Elves use these new spells, which would be a way to make Elves different and a little bit darker in a classic Grimm-style fairytale way.
  • Alignment: Another way to use them could be alignment-based. Perhaps Lawful casters use the traditional list, and Chaotic casters use these new spells, and Neutral casters have to choose.
  • Magic Orders: The different types of spells could also represent different magical orders or traditions in the campaign world. 


My goal with these spells was to make magic a little more weird and, well, "magical." They were inspired by a post I wrote last year asking for ideas for making my upcoming campaign for my daughter and her friends more "weird" without being gross. I'm not sure how or why those two words got equated recently. I think there's plenty of room to make things weird and mysterious while keeping it friendly enough for a group of 11 year-old players. 

I've really leaned into the idea of the "Optional Weird Effect" for these spells, which is something I played around a little bit with when creating the 1st level spells, but which I've added more and more as I've continued going through the levels. The idea is that magic can be dangerous and unpredictable, and might change the caster in unforeseen ways. I like that, as is provides great role-playing fodder and also helps a bit with world building and creating some campaign and adventure hooks, all just from the "simple" act of casting a spell. 

Some of these spells were inspired by other spells, either from the various other editions of D&D over the years, or by some ideas seen in other RPGs or OSR games, but I mainly used them as inspiration rather than for mechanics. 

In the past two lists, I've also included ideas for modifying existing spells to make them a bit more weird. I haven't done that for 3rd level yet, as I've mainly been spending my time creating the new spells, but it's something I'll add when I eventually collect all these together for publication. 

3rd Level Arcane Spells

Banshee Wail

Duration: Instant
Range: 60’

A powerful shrieking sound emanates from the caster in a wave 5’ wide and 60’ long.

  • Damage: Creatures caught in the banshee wail suffer 1d4 damage per level of the caster, or half damage with a successful save versus spells.
  • Deafness: Subjects who fail their saving throw are also deafened for 1d3 + 2 rounds. Deafened creatures always lose initiative and cannot listen at doors. Deafened spellcasters have a 1-in-6 chance of mispronouncing the mystical spoken words necessary to cast the spell, causing the spell to fail but be removed from the caster’s memory as if it were cast.

Optional Weird Effect: The caster must save versus spells the first time this spell is cast. Failure means the caster’s hair permanently grows long and white, and the caster gains pale, elfin features.

Dimensional Drift

Duration: 4 + 1d4 rounds
Range: 30’

The caster can briefly teleport up to 30’ away.

  • Line of site: Cannot teleport through walls or closed doors. The caster must be able to see the destination.
  • Uses: The caster can teleport once per round, at the end of each round.
  • Attacking: After the first round, the caster may make a melee attack before teleporting each round.
  • Sensory effects: There is a loud popping sound and a sulfurous smell every time the caster teleports.
  • Exhaustion: At the end of the spell’s duration, the caster suffers -2 to all rolls for a number of rounds equal to the number of times teleported.

Optional Weird Effect: The caster can attempt to make additional teleports after the end of the spell’s duration by making an ability score check against CON, with a +2 penalty to the check for each additional round teleporting. (See Ability Checks in Core Rules). Casters who fail the check immediately fall unconscious for 1d4 turns in the space they were in. On a natural 20, the caster disappears into an unknown realm for 1d4 days, then reappears in the spot where the spell was cast and must roll on the side-effect table:

 

Dimensional Drift: Teleport Failure

1d8

Effect

1

Caster changes alignment.

2

Caster’s hair turns white from fear (permanently).

3

Caster constantly hears weird alien voices in head; -2 to INT.

4

Caster gains a supernatural insight and +1 to WIS, but a permanent -3 reaction roll penalty due to spouting insane wisdom.

5

Caster exposed to eldritch powers not meant for mortals. Must pick all new spells known for each level; the caster cannot pick a spell previously known.

6

Caster arrives in a catatonic state and must save versus spells at -2 before returning the consciousness. One save allowed per hour until successful.

7

Caster arrives with a loud boom and blood gushing from the eyes. Blind for 1d4 turns.

8

Caster has nightmares for 1d3 days; no spells may be cast during this time.

Eldritch Discharge

Duration: 1 turn
Range: 30’

 Living subjects in range are subjected to excess magic that is involuntarily being shed from the caster. The sorcerous discharge causes reality to warp around the subjects, transforming physical features. Roll D6:

 

Eldritch Excess: Modifications

1d6

Target Modification

1

Extra arm: additional melee attack at -2 to attack roll.

2

Extra leg: double movement rate.

3

Scales: +2 to AC.

4

Spittle glands: poisonous spit at 20’ range; subjects hit by poison must save versus poison or cannot attack next round.

5

Poisonous touch: Creature touched must save versus poison or become sick an unable to take any actions for 1d3 rounds.

6

Chameleon skin: Surprise on 1-4.

Optional Weird Effect: At the end of the spell’s duration, subjects must save versus magic or the transformation becomes permanent and the subject gains a -4 penalty to Charisma.  

Identify Curse

Duration: 1d4 turns
Range: 30’

The caster causes any cursed items in a 30’ radius to begin chanting in a soft, forlorn lament. The caster cannot tell what the effect of the curse is or how it is triggered.

Optional Weird Effect: Living creatures who can hear the cursed lament must save versus spells or be stricken with a curse for the spell’s duration, suffering a -1 penalty to all attack, damage, and saving throw rolls. 

Mind Control

Duration: Up to one day
Range: 30’

The caster plants a suggestion in a subject’s mind, which the subject must follow if it fails a save versus magic:

  • Speaking: Subject must be able to hear and understand the caster.
  • Length: Suggestions are limited to two short sentences.
  • Reasonable: Suggestions must be worded to sound reasonable; asking the subject to do any obviously harmful acts to itself automatically fails and ends the spell. More reasonable suggestions may impose a saving throw penalty at the referee’s discretion.
  • Trigger: The caster may plant a trigger in the subject’s mind to perform an action when certain conditions are met (e.g., “give your sword to the next elf you meet”).
  • Saving Throws: Subjects receive additional saving throws each time they behave contrary to their nature (e.g., suggesting the subject hates a friend or trusts a known enemy).
  • Duration: The spell ends when the suggested course of action is completed or at the end of one day if the action is not completed. If the caster or any of the caster’s companions attack the subject, the spell ends. 

Optional Weird Effect: Using magic to control the actions of others is not considered a good act and makes friends and companions uneasy. The caster will attempt to hide the casting of this spell and lie if asked about it. After each use of this spell, the caster must save versus magic or risk a 1-in-6 chance of becoming chaotic in alignment. 

Obliterate Memories

Duration: Permanent
Range: 30’

The caster destroys the memory of a single creature in range, who can save versus spells with a +2 bonus to avoid the effect. If the subject fails the save, its memories for the past 1 round are permanently destroyed. The caster may increase the length of the memory destruction by an additional round, or target an additional creature, every five levels (two rounds or two creatures at 6th level – 10th level, three rounds or three creatures at 11th level – 15th level, etc.).

Subjects with obliterated memories become agitated and violent, attacking the nearest creature with a +1 bonus to attack rolls and damage for 1d4 rounds after the duration of the spell.

Optional Weird Effect: Obliterated memories follow the caster like angry spirits, haunting the caster and reminding the caster of unhappy memories. The memories may or not be the caster’s own; the caster is unsure.  

Organic Steel

Duration: 1 turn
Range: The caster

The caster’s skin transforms into what looks like steel, and while hard, is still flexible. While in this form:

  • Height: Increases by 1’; clothes do not grow proportionately so the caster often wears baggy, over-sized clothes.
  • Strength: Increases by +2.
  • AC: Increases by +2.
  • Physical needs: No requirement for food, water, or oxygen.
  • Spellcasting: Is not allowed.
  • Heat and cold: Heat-based and cold-based attacks that damage the caster in the same round do double damage. The double-damage only applies if both attacks cause damage in the same round.

Optional Weird Effect: The transformation is addictive. At the end of the spell’s duration, the caster must save versus poison. Failure indicates the spell lasts for 1d4 + 1 turns longer, after which the caster is exhausted and cannot cast any spells for 24 hours. After three failed saving throws in a row, the duration of the spell lasts one week, and the exhaustion effect lasts for an additional week. 

Panic 

Duration: Instant
Range: Creature touched

The subject must save versus spells or else flee in a random direction away from the caster at double normal movement rate for 1d10 + 2 rounds.

Summon 

Duration: 1d4 +1 round/level
Range: 30’

The caster causes 2d4 creatures, each of 1 Hit Dice or less, to appear within 30’.

 

·        Attacking: The creatures attack the caster’s enemies until destroyed or until the spell’s duration ends.

·        Other actions: If there are no enemies to attack, the creatures can perform simple tasks if the caster can figure out how to communicate with them.

·        Alignment: There is a 50% chance the summoned creatures are chaotic, despite the alignment of the caster. Chaotic creatures can only be controlled by a lawful caster if the caster makes an NPC reaction roll of 6 or higher. Otherwise, the creatures act randomly each round: Roll a d4: 1) attack an enemy of the caster; 2) attack the nearest creature; 3) no action; 4) flee in a random direction.

·        Creature type: The creatures are not natural, despite appearances, and any regular animal of equal or fewer HD than the summoned creatures automatically fails its morale check when encountering the summoned creatures.

 

Optional Weird Effect: The caster must make a save versus spells at the end of the spell’s duration (usually made in secret by the referee). On a failure, the next time the caster casts this spell, a weird random effect takes place. Roll on the following table. Each time the caster rolls on this chart, add +1 to the roll.

 

Summon: Summon Failure

1d8

Effect

1

Startled. Creatures’ appearance causes anyone in 20’ to drop held items.

2

Scream. The hideous appearance of the summoned creatures causes the caster to scream uncontrollably; caster cannot take actions in the round the creatures appear. The scream draws unwanted attention.

3

Stumble. Caster falls back, trips, and is prone. Getting up uses the caster’s entire movement and actions for the round.

4

Cower. Caster moves away from the summoned creatures at full movement rate and attempts to hide for two rounds.

5

Faint. Caster falls to the ground and must save versus paralysis or take 1d6 falling damage. Thereafter, caster is considered asleep until awakened. Attacks on a caster who fainted automatically succeed.

6

Shock. Caster is incapable of action, including self-defense for 1d2 + 1 rounds. Shields and DEX bonuses to AC do not count, and caster suffers a -4 to all saving throws.

7

Enfeebled. The caster falls into a catatonic state for 1d4 +1 rounds during which no actions can be taken. All attacks on the caster automatically succeed, and all caster’s saving throws automatically fail. Upon awakening, the caster loses -4 CON permanently.

8

Revulsion. The caster is disgusted by the types of creatures summoned and will never cast this spell again. Summon is removed from the caster’s known spells and cannot be replaced until the next level is gained.

 

Telepathic Bond

Duration: Instant
Range: Creature touched

The caster telepathically sends a message to a subject touched, with a maximum of one word per experience level of the caster. At 7th level, the caster may also receive a message back from the recipient, limited to one word per experience level of the caster. The caster and the subject must share a common language to communicate.

Both the caster and the recipient sense that “someone” or “something” else is in their heads delivering the actual message, and that these unknown spirits are now aware of the shared message.

Wolf-kin

Duration: 2d4 turns
Range: The caster

The caster is naturally attuned to the lupine world and can transform into a wolf:

 

·        Stats: The caster’s intelligence, wisdom, charisma, hit points, saving throws, and attack probabilities remain unchanged

·        Physical capabilities: The caster uses the wolf’s bite attack, AC, and movement rate

·        Pack leader: If other wolves are close-by, the caster attempt to become the alpha wolf of the pack. The caser makes an NPC reaction roll with a +2 bonus and with a result of 6 or more, become the pack leader. As leader, the caster can direct the other wolves to attack, retreat, follow, stay, or track someone.

·        Tracking: In wolf-form, the caster can track an individual with a 2-in-6 chance of success.

·        Spellcasting: Not allowed in wolf form

At 7th level, the caster can transform into a wolf-human hybrid form:

 

·        Stats: As with the wolf-form listed above

·        Physical capabilities: As with the wolf-form, but the bite attack damage increases to 2d4 and the hybrid’s AC is 5 [14].

·        Unnatural appearance: Animals other than wolves are afraid of the hybrid form

·        Pack leader: As with the wolf-form, but the leadership is automatic (no reaction roll necessary).  

·        Tracking: Increases to 3-in-6.

·        Spellcasting: The caster can cast spells of 1st or 2nd level in hybrid form.


During the full moon, the duration of the spell is doubled. If the referee does not know whether there’s a full moon, roll a d8; a result of 1 is a full moon.

Optional Weird Effect: The call of the wolf is very alluring. At the end of the spell’s duration the caster must save versus spells or desire to return to wolf-form by casting the spell again as soon as possible, either immediately if possible or after resting and preparing it the next day. 


Hanging: Home office (laptop)
Drinking: Tap water
Listening: "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" by the Staple Singers from the album "Come Go With Me: The Stax Collection"

Comments

  1. I love the idea of spells having weird effects on their caster or the environment. But I personally wouldn't want to ever play a magic user in a game where I'm just a single die roll away from suffering such effects. (I roll notoriously badly when I'm rolling dice as a player.)

    Have you considered implementing some kind of means to allow a magic user to offset or avoid these effects? Perhaps allowing the PC to spend hit points when casting a spell, or sacrificing a valuable item or extra-special spell components, or taking extra time to cast the spell? Just something that returns a little player agency to spell casting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I love all of these ideas you have, Chris! I think those are kinds of things that an individual referee or campaign could choose depending on the nature of the game. That's one of the reason that I call them "Optional Weird Effect" - the spell works just fine without them, but I think the weird effects add a bit more flavor to the game. If they seem to capricious, then yeah, you can add in some kind of mechanic to allow the caster to avoid them, but at a cost. I think that's a perfectly reasonable way to address it.

      I'll remember that and when I write these up for publication, I include some notes on a kind of "spectrum" for implementing the weird effects depending on how dangerous and unpredictable you want magic to be in the campaign.

      Cheers! I hope you're doing well and that 2021 is off to a good start for you!

      Delete
    2. I think just a blurb containing options to offset the effects would be a great addition.

      And thanks! I hope the new year is going great for you and the family, as well, Martin! (I'm sure you're not suffering from single-digit temps, so I expect you're at least enjoying the weather more than I am! :D )

      Delete
    3. Thanks! Yes, it is going to be a brisk 64 Fahrenheit here today in my neck of the woods, but it's all relative - this is "cold" to us. It was just above 40 degrees last night when I took my trashcans out to the curb for pick-up this morning and I was just in a t-shirt and jeans!

      Delete
  2. I'm caught-up to this post, at least.
    These are so strange, I can't think of which OS spells these are based.

    Best,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Great to hear from you! Thanks for reading! I hope this means that things have hopefully gotten a bit better for you. :)

      In this case, these spells are all brand new for 3rd level - there aren't any re-skinned spells in here. I'll tackle those at a later date. Right now I've been focusing on trying to get new spells out in the social media "wild" to get comments and suggestions and see if people catch things I didn't catch, etc.

      Cheers!

      Delete
    2. OK, I'm glad I wasn't missing their transformed natures.
      They are cool, daddy-o.

      Delete

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