Open Game Content: New 4th Level Arcane Spells for D&D & Fantasy RPGs

"Commission - Elf"
by Ioana-Muresan is licensed
by CC BY-NC-ND 3.0

This is the fourth post in a series I'm writing of new arcane spells for D&D games. While these are designed using the Old School Essentials rules system (a re-statement of the 1981 Basic and Expert rules, commonly called "B/X"), as I've been discussing on Twitter this week, there are a lot of similarities between the B/X version of spells and the 5E versions; enough, in fact, that a 5E player or DM could use most B/X spells "as is" with very little conversion needed. 

As discussed in my post on 3rd level spells, while I originally designed these spells to be used for the B/X Sorcerer class I wrote so that they have a different spell list than elves and magic-users, you could also use these for different alignments of magic, for different schools, or to have different lists of spells for elves versus magic-users. 

The inspiration for these spells is to make them a bit more weird and magical than the standard D&D spells we're all used to, so most of them include an "optional weird effect" that players and referees can use to create some unique consequences. While some of the optional effects have mechanical applications, others are mainly for flavor and role-playing opportunities. 

Ideally once I've posted spells for each level here on the blog and received comments and suggestions, I'll work on revising them and putting them into a fun supplement that will include the B/X Sorcerer class I wrote, all the new spells, ways to modify the existing spells to re-write the flavor to make them more strange, and some other ideas such as magical failure, wild magic, and sorcery campaigns (particularly campaigns where sorcery and wizardry are considered different). 

That's where you all come in - I'm always looking for comments, suggestions, and criticisms to help improve these spells (and any other content I post here on the blog). 

4th Level Arcane Spells

Eldritch Conflagration

Duration: 6 rounds
Range: The caster

 The caster is engulfed in magical flames of a mystical color chosen by the caster.  

  •  Fire immunity: The caster is immune to natural and magical fire-based attacks.
  • Cold: The caster takes double damage from creatures or attacks that use cold or ice.
  • Melee attacks: The caster’s melee attacks deal 1d6 +2 points of damage on a successful hit. Victims who take damage must save versus spells or catch fire for D4 + 2 rounds, taking 1d6 damage per round and suffering -2 to all rolls for the duration of the spell.
  • Extinguishing the flames: Can only be accomplished with a dispel magic spell or a higher-level cold or ice-based spell.

Optional Weird Effect: This spell does not function unless the caster has been exposed to natural sunlight in the past 24 hours. When casting the spell, the caster has a brief connection to the sun and believes it to be sentient. Part of the sun’s lifeforce is diminished each time a caster uses eldritch conflagration.


Enhanced Healing

Duration: 6 turns +1 per level
Range: The caster

The caster gains the ability to heal much faster and ward off poison and disease.

  • Healing:  3 rounds after being damaged, the caster regains 1hp per round until fully healed.
  • Disease and poison: +4 to save versus poison and any saving throw to avoid disease.   

Optional Weird Effect: The caster takes on an animal-like behavior and appearance during the spell. The caster becomes feral and vicious, growls while talking, and grows patches of hair all over the body. Over time with continued casing of the spell, these traits may become permanent (save versus spells to avoid, with bonuses or penalties determined by the referee). Continued use of the spell also appears to slow the caster’s aging, although this could just be a an illusion.


Eyes of the Void

Duration: Instant
Range: 120’

The caster’s eyes emit a beam of void power toward a subject within range, who suffers one of the following effects, determined randomly or selected by the referee (who may allow the player to choose):

  • Damage: 1d6 damage per level of the caster, with a successful save versus spells indicating half damage.
  • Disease: Inflicts a terrible unnatural disease for 2d4 days, during which time the subject suffers -2 to all rolls, and natural healing takes twice as long. Magical healing has no effect on the subject, but the disease can be cured with a cure disease spell.
  • Blindness: Subject is blind and cannot attack for 2d4 turns.
  • Paralyzed: Subject is paralyzed for 1d4 + 3 turns, with a successful save versus paralysis reducing the duration by half.
  • Withering: One of the subject’s ability scores is reduced by half (caster’s choice of which score is affected) for 2d4 hours, with a successful save vs spells reducing the duration by half. Effects caused by negative modifiers take place immediately (e.g., Hit Point modifiers for CON or Magic Saves for WIS; see Ability Scores in Core Rules).
  • Void Slime: The subject is turned into a slime made of nightmarish goo from the void, but otherwise similar to a green slime (see Green Slime in Classic Fantasy Monsters). The subject retains its hit points, but otherwise becomes a green slime with all special abilities, behavioral patterns, and intelligence of the slime. The effect lasts for 1d4 + 1 days, with a successful save versus spells reducing the duration by half.

Optional Weird Effect: The caster sees into the void and realizes that cosmic horrors are providing their power in return for making the caster their prophet. The caster must save versus spells each time when casting the spell. Upon the first failed save, the caster will start a new religion dedicated to worship of the cosmic horrors of the void and will insist on spending part of each day recruiting cultists and proselytizing ancient, strange dogma. The caster will thereafter suffer a permanent -4 reaction roll penalty toward lawful creatures. The caster’s preaching is considered heretical and is probably illegal in most civilized nations.

Greater Eldritch Armor

Duration: 1 hour/level
Range: The caster

Creates a visible suit of mystical force with an ancient, intricate and fiendish design.

  • AC bonus: +4 to the caster’s AC
  • Strength bonus: +2 to the caster’s strength
  • Summoned chaotic creatures: Appear fearful of the caster and must save versus spells to attack. Additionally, if the caster rolls a 9 or higher on the Monster Reaction Roll table (see Encounters in Core Rules), the caster can wrest control of the creatures and give them a single command (flee, attack, disengage).
  • Threatening: -3 penalty to NPC reaction rolls against lawful creatures (see Encounters in Core Rules)
Optional Weird Effect: While using the armor, the caster’s alignment shifts one step toward Chaos (e.g., from Lawful to Neutral, or Neutral to Chaotic). The caster is aware this is happening but will exclaim that sacrifices are necessary for the greater good. Fiendish creatures from other dimensions with HD less than the caster will follow instructions from the caster, begrudgingly, but will look for loopholes to turn the circumstances to their favor. The caster must make a save versus spells; on a natural 1, the caster is briefly teleported to a fiendish realm for 1d4 + 1 rounds and becomes aware that wearing the armor has made the caster a minor fiendish noble. The consequences far outweigh any perceived benefits.


Lycanthrophic Simulation

Duration: 12 turns
Range: The caster

The caster gains complete immunity to non-silver or non-magical weapons. During the spell’s duration, if hit by wolfsbane, the caster must save versus poison or flee in terror.

Optional Weird Effect: The lure of lycanthropy is strong. Casting this spell during a full moon forces the caster to save versus spells or suffer from the full effects of lycanthropy (becoming a were-creature run by the referee) until the full moon is over. True lycanthropes consider this spell an abomination and will actively hunt those who cast it.

Magnetic Manipulation

Duration: 1 round/level
Range: 60’

 The caster manipulates magnetic fields to cause one of the following effects.

  • Attract: Two metallic items within range can be forced together. On a failed save, the item is forced from the subject’s hand and magnetically attached to another metallic item. A successful Open Doors roll (see Ability Scores in Core Rules) can separate the two items. The spell may force a sword to stick to a metallic shield, for example.
  • Force Apart: Two metallic items in the same 5’ space can be forced apart. On a failed save, the two items are forced apart to the maximum 60’ range of the spell. A sword and metallic shield may be forced apart from the wielder, for example.
  • Deflect Missile: While the spell is in effect, all missile attacks using metallic ammunition within the range of the spell suffer a -4 attack roll penalty. A successful save halves the penalty to -2.
  • Pull: The caster pulls a small metallic item weighing 30 coins or less and catches it.
Effects are subject to the following:

  • Size: Only metallic objects of a size that can be carried in one hand are affected (weapons, shields, cookware, etc.).
  • Saving throw: A subject holding an item receives a save versus spells to avoid the effects (attract, force apart, or pull). Saving throws are modified by the subject’s melee strength modifier, if any (see Ability Scores in Core Rules). Unattended items automatically suffer the affects.


Nightmare Mount

Duration: 1 hour per level
Range: 10’

The caster conjures a horse-like mount made of shadows and the stuff of nightmares.

  • Stats: AC 6 [13] and 6 HD
  • Attacks: Cannot attack
  • Movement: 240’ (80’) with up to 3,000 coins unencumbered or up to 6,000 at half speed, and without penalty for difficult terrain
  • Encounters: Normal animals will not approach. Enemies must succeed on a morale check (see Morale in Core Rules) to make a melee attack against either the mount or the caster riding it.
  • Spells: Not subject to any spells except dispel magic.

 Optional Weird Effect: The spell only works if the caster has had a nightmare the night before. The caster must describe the nightmare, and the mount is aware of it. The caster sees hallucinatory images of the nightmare and must save versus spells or attempt to fight or flee them.


Power Thief II

Duration: 1 hour/level
Range: Touch

The subject must save versus spells or transfer some abilities to the caster. The subject may choose to willingly fail the save. The caster may pick three of the following abilities:

  • Ability score: Any ability score that is higher than the caster’s current score.
  • Cleric undead turning: As a cleric two levels lower than the caster. Counts as two picks.
  • Demi-human abilities: (pick one) Infravision, detect construction tricks, detect room traps, listening at doors, detect secret doors, immunity to ghoul paralysis, hide in undergrowth as halfling.
  • Fighting ability: Attack bonuses and number of attacks per round as a Fighter at the caster’s level.
  • Saving throw: Any single saving throw that is higher than the caster’s current save.
  • Thief abilities: As a thief two levels lower than the caster. Counts as two picks.
Subjects retain their abilities but are weakened and unable to take any actions for 1d4 +1 rounds. For the duration of the spell, they are at -2 to all rolls.

Optional Weird Effect: Subjects who roll a natural 1 on their saving throw also transfer half their hit points to the caster and are in a coma unable to be awakened for the duration of the spell. If this happens, the caster permanently takes on personality traits and memories of the subject, and the two personalities will constantly argue and bicker out loud, causing a permanent -2 reaction roll penalty.


Season of Poisoned Frost

Duration: 1 round +1 per level
Range: The caster + special

The caster draws on the bleakness of winter to create cold-based effects:

  • Armor class: Improves by +1
  • Cold aura: Subjects touching the caster or successfully hitting the caster in melee combat take 2d6 points of damage from intense cold. A successful save versus poison halves the damage.
  • Icy surface: For 20’ around the caster. Anyone caught in the area must save versus spells or fall prone. Standing up requires a DEX check (see Ability Checks in Core Rules).
  • Frost slide: The caster can slide on the icy surface, which moves with the caster, and use it to move across normally impassable terrain, such as pools of water or chasms.

Optional Weird Effect: The caster draws power from the cold, dark winter months to use this spell. Using this spell makes the caster aware that winter is not simply a season, but an emotional and conscious spirit that hates warmth. It is now also aware of the caster.  


Venomous Barbs

Duration: Instant
Range: 120’

Magically poisoned barbs shoot from the caster’s fingers, causing one of the following effects (chosen by the caster) on a single subject. The subject may save versus poison to reduce the effects noted below.

  • Damage: The poison causes 1d6 damage per caster level. A successful save halves the damage.
  • Paralysis: The poison paralyzes the target for 2d4 rounds. A successful save halves the duration.
  • Weakened: The poison causes the subject to suffer -3 to attacks, damage rolls, saving throws, and AC for 2d6 rounds. A successful save halves the duration.
Optional Weird Effect: The caster is the source of the venom used to power the spell. The caster must use this spell at least once a day. Failure to do so causes the caster to suffer from an internal build-up of poison and take 1d6 damage per day the spell is not cast.


Void Weapon

Duration: Concentration (up to 1 turn)
Range: 60’

The caster touches a weapon, which is then imbued with the unnatural and mysterious power of the void.

  • Movement: Movement speed of 60’ (20’) flying
  • Attack: Twice per round using the caster’s attack table and doing its normal damage
  • Lawful creatures: Take an additional +1 damage on each successful hit. Any damage taken by the void weapon does not heal normally (requires magic healing).
  • Size: Only hand-held weapons can benefit from this spell (e.g., not siege equipment).

Optional Weird Effect: If the caster is forced to lose concentration (such as by taking damage) during the spell’s duration, the void weapon discharges its stored-up void energy in a 20’ radius chaotic maelstrom with one the following random effects:


Void Weapon: Concentration Failure




Noxious fumes. A purple cloud causes everyone to be sickened and unable to take any actions for 2 rounds.


Void fire. Weird green flames do 1d6 fire damage and burn flammable materials (paper, cloth, etc.)


Nightmares. Everyone must save versus spells or fall into a restless sleep, as per the sleep spell.


Void dust. Causes uncontrollable coughing and -2 to all rolls for 2 rounds. If the dust can be safely gathered, can be used to make a weird potion. Maybe.


Void fluid. Subjects in the radius of effect must make a CON check (see Ability Checks in Core Rules) or take 1d4 damage per round until a successful CON check is made.


Void slime. Identical to a green slime but with an appearance of space and stars instead of green. Moves to attack the closest creature.  


Void fog. Subjects in the radius of effect are effectively blind and can’t attack.


Void snow. The temperature drops and it snows pieces of void. Subjects in the radius of effect are covered in void particles carrying an awful stench that lingers for 1d4 days and cannot be washed off. The subject cannot surprise anyone during this time.  


Wood Shape

Duration: Permanent
Range: 10’ around the caster

The caster can arrange any amount of wood objects in the range of the spell into whatever form is desired. The caster may cause wooden items to lose their straightness, form, or strength, doors to swell or shrink, boats to spring leaks, etc.

Hanging: Home office (laptop) and living room (notebook)
Drinking: Fernet Branca (neat)
Listening: "Sure Thing - Black Motion Anniversary Mix" by St. Germain and Black Motion from the album "Tourist (Tourist 20th Anniversary Travel Versions)"


  1. Replies
    1. Cool! Let me know if you use any and how it goes. Cheers!

  2. I’ve been enjoying these posts on arcane spells. I particularly like the additional flavor and optional weird effects. One of my favorites was the slight alteration to Detect Magic in your initial post on the topic. I, too, like the whispering. With that said, have you play tested any of these? Just wondering how they have affected your game. In response to some of the spells in this post, I would be very hesitant to use arcane spells of healing, or any spell like Power Thief that allows a caster to infringe on another class niche. But that is just me. Anyway, thanks for the enjoyable read!

    1. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I really appreciate it, and comments like this are what help these spells get better with more revising and tweaking.

      I've begun testing some of the lower-level spells in the B/X (OSE) game I'm running for my daughter and her friends. They're only 1st level and so far haven't encountered anybody who can cast 3rd of 4th level spells, but hopefully soon(ish). We only play about once a month.

      The Power Thief spell is a tough one and I can totally see and respect your viewpoint. In case the "theme" wasn't clear, and depending on your comic book knowledge, a lot of these spells are inspired by characters from the X-Men and New Mutants. So far, I've done versions for Domino, Beast, Magik, Banshee, Nightcrawler, Jean Grey, Colossus, Wolfsbane, etc. Power Thief was intended to represent Rogue and her power-stealing abilities. I did think it's kind of a powerful spell, but the idea was that it came at a cost of losing one's personality in the process. I can definitely try to tweak it a bit more, but that's one of the reasons that I put the undead turning as two levels lower. Maybe I can also reduce the duration and make the consequences a bit steeper.

      Thanks again!

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks! Let me know if you use them at all and how they work out. Cheers!

  4. Yea, I recognized Rogue right away (used to have comic store back in the early 90s). I also think the loss of personality is a neat side effect that has the potential for some interesting story/roleplaying opportunities.

    On other note, I had some issues posting comments on Blogger sites last night, so I apologize if you received multiple comment posts from me.


    1. I wasn't sure if the comic influences were coming through, but I thought "Power Rogue" was a little too on-the-nose. You're maybe the second or third person in the last week or so who has mentioned to me that they used to run or work at a comic shop in the 90's! I still go once a week (usually with my daughter) to my local shop here for my weekly comics fix.

      And yes, a lot of the "optional weird effects" and re-flavoring of classic spells is all about creating unique and fun role-playing experiences rather than just mechanical changes. The idea is to get a bit away from the numbers side of things and look at the role-playing opportunities to make magic more special.

      No worries about the comment posting. I had to turn on moderation because I kept getting spammed with Indonesian gambling sites, but it has caused a lot of issues with people trying to comment.


    2. lol. Yea, the early 90s was a bit of a boom for comics, and then it all collapsed with an overflooded market. I used to do the same weekly visits with my daughter. Good bonding. Nothing like an old-fashioned brick-and-mortar comic store.

  5. I will make every effort to purchase the collection of these, and if the page count makes it to print, it will be the combo that I look to purchase.

    1. Thank you so much! That just made my Saturday! I'm not sure what the page count minimum is for print, but I'll look into it and see if there's enough material there. Right now I'm thinking of basically three main projects/books:

      1) The Experts/Specialists book. This one is done and it's coming it at 30 pages. I just need the last few pieces of art, and a cover, and then figuring out how to go about starting a "store" on DriveThruRPG and putting it up for sale, etc.
      2) This book on my B/X Sorcerer class, along with six levels of 12 brand new spells, per level, and then twists on some existing spells (as you saw before), and some other magic-related stuff.
      3) A collection of all the "D12 Subclasses" tables I've done so far (with maybe 2-4 more thrown in). Each section would have a page for a table of the subclasses with a facing page giving notes/background/flavor for the subclasses, and also "designer's notes" along the way. And then there will be a minimum of one additional spread per table that gives additional rules and ideas for playing a game within that genre (wilderness, city/urban, naval/sea, horror, fairy tale, etc.). And I'll also have a list of inspirational media to fit each theme (a book, movie, TV show, comic books, and song/album for each one). I suspect THAT book will be my longest one.

      And then maybe after all that, I could eventually combine them into a large tome of B/X - Old School Essentials rules modifications/ideas.

      Cheers! Hope all is going well with you!


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