Tag Archives: spell

Improved Turn Undead Spell

Mount, Saul and the Witch of Endor (source)

Mount, Saul and the Witch of Endor (source)

As many probably are already aware, Lamentations of the Flame Princess makes turn undead a spell rather than a cleric per-encounter class ability. In general, I think this is an attractive change, as turn undead can totally obviate certain challenges in a way that is not so engaging (especially at higher level). However, I think there are some problems with the LotFP implementation.

Specifically, though a spell slot must be dedicated to turn undead, the player must still resort to rolling on a traditional turning table. This is both mechanically awkward (as it requires a table lookup or extra data copied to the character sheet) and somewhat against the spirit of spell slots. Though it is true that some “slotted” spells can also be avoided based on a target saving throw, in general I prefer when players deciding to dedicate some resources results in at least some effect. As written, the LotFP turn undead spell occupies a spell slot and may still prove useless if the 2d6 roll is unlucky.

I still like the basic idea though, and I can think of two ways to adjust the spell. In the first method, you keep the turning table, but allow as many turn attempts as desired (though no more than one per encounter) for the duration of the spell (which is given as 1d4+2 turns; see Rules & Magic, page 146), rather than being terminated by failing a turning roll. I might also prefer to base the duration on cleric level, perhaps 1d6+level exploration turns rather that 1d4+2. The second method, presented below, bases the strength of the spell on the level of spell slot used (or the level of the cleric divided by two, rounded up if not using spell levels).

Turn Undead

Cleric spell of any level, range is 30′ or as light source, whichever is less.

This spell may be prepared in any available spell slot. The power of the spell is proportional to the level of slot used. Undead of HD less than or equal to the level of the slot are automatically turned, and those with HD equal to half that level (rounded down) are destroyed (reduced to ash and blown away as by a strong wind). While turned, undead will not enter the light, but instead creep around its edges. All undead within the range are affected. Turned undead may be kept at bay indefinitely with concentration. Attacking turned undead or pressing them aggressively (such as into a corner or over a precipice) ends the effect.

Undle Nine-Fingers’ Life Hook

Nifft the Lean, by Michael Shea, is one of the more enjoyable fantasy books that I’ve read in a while. I first saw it mentioned by Chris K., and then came across a copy in a used book store. I suspect I will have more to say about the book in the future, but for now have rules for a spell taken from its pages.

The spell was the great bibliophile’s only original creation in thaumaturgy–he used it to secure the loyalty of the slaves who worked in his vast archives. It puts your life in the spellcaster’s hand, and until it’s removed he can jerk the heart out of you at any time. It also lets him visualize where you are–quite vaguely, but enough to distinguish between sunlight and the subworld’s lurid sky. (Nifft the Lean, page 123.)

Undle Nine-Fingers’ Life Hook

Magic-user spell, level 2.

Properties: psychic, sustain, touch.

Nifft the Lean

Nifft the Lean

The caster may at any time end the life of the enchanted person. Casting the life hook requires a complicated purification ritual only possible if the target is either willing or restrained. The ritual takes one hour. The spell does come with some minor degree of risk to the magician for as long as it is maintained, because it requires the existence of a spiritual tether. Another skilled sorcerer, if aware of this tether, can make use of it (for example, as a vector for an ESP spell).

This I experienced as a little sore spot in my heart, the kind of pang a large, old scar sometimes gives you–a flesh-memory of pain. (Nifft the Lean, page 129.)

More Necromancy Spells

Here we have a healing spell (that also allows stealing youth), a method of speaking with the dead inspired by Book 11 of the Odyssey, and a way for sorcerers to collect souls.

Also, Wonder & Wickedness now has a full complement of 8 spells per category, for 56 in total.

Life Channel

The sorcerer transfers life energy (either youth or vigor) from one creature to another by touch (a saving throw per turn is provided for the non-consensual, though a successful save does not end the spell). If youth is transferred, the source ages one die worth of years per turn and the recipient regains one year of youth. If vigor is transferred, the source takes one die of damage (though only one point of damage is sustained if the source is the sorcerer, with no possibility of corruption) and the recipient 1) regains six hit points but is permanently changed somehow by the dark magic (such as a dim translucency of skin, an aversion by animals, or an emanation that causes small fires nearby to extinguish), 2-5) regains the number rolled worth of hit points, or 6) regains six plus another die worth of hit points.

Occult Consultation

The sorcerer must dig a pit two feet square, into which is poured wine, fragrant herbs, and the blood of a sacrifice slain with a bronze knife. A throng of ghosts is summoned by this ritual, which may be conversed with as desired for the duration of the spell, though truth is not compelled (specific ghosts may be called if the sorcerer has material remains, a possession that was once treasured by the deceased, or a true name). Following the consultation, if desired, the sorcerer may follow the ghosts in katabasis to the land of the dead (along with any number of willing companions), though an easy path of return is not guaranteed.

Soul Harvest

By the casting of this spell a sorcerer traps a disembodied soul (of HD less than or equal to the sorcerer’s level) within an unoccupied clay jar or flask which has been previously prepared (these vessels are significant for purposes of encumbrance). Souls on their way to the underworld or other final reward may be captured automatically, but free-willed souls (such as incorporeal undead) are permitted a saving throw. A soul may be freed in exchange for a favor from the ghost (standard negotiation procedures apply), traded as sorcerous currency, or consumed for temporary power (such as a bonus to a single roll or a die worth of temporary hit points).

Corot - Orpheus Leading Eurydice (source)

Corot – Orpheus Leading Eurydice (source)


Ciurlionis - Lightning (source)

Ciurlionis – Lightning (source)

Direct damage spells are much maligned, especially among those who are interested in elements of the game such as exploration and problem solving in addition to combat. Even within the category of attack sorcery, magic missile in particular is a rather lackluster spell in a number of different ways, especially for a low level traditional magic-user. It doesn’t seem effective enough (despite automatically hitting in most interpretations), because it only does something like 1d6+1 damage. The primary benefit provided is to have some way of damaging monsters with immunities to mundane weapons, but even then the damage is not likely to be enough to make a difference.

However, playing as a sorcerer, it is also true that it is quite pleasing to call conflagration down upon the heads of your enemies. There is the danger, though, that available attack magic will displace other interesting spells. Some approaches to this problems have been unlimited use attack cantrips or at-will magic (such as the ray of frost or cloud of daggers) in games like Pathfinder and 4E. This approach preserves the viability of more unique spells, but also makes magic too common for my tastes, and does not distinguish it enough from the methods employed by other classes. Instead, why not make the attack magic more powerful, but allow sorcerers to cast it in place of any prepared spell? This maintains both distinctiveness and resource constraints.

If you don’t go in for the idea of sorcerers being able to trade in prepared spells for default effects (because it goes against the preparation ethos of the class), you could also probably just make this a standard first level spell. Another variation, if you wanted the damage to scale with level, would be to use 2d6 + level rather than just 2d6 (intelligence bonus could also be incorporated here, if desired). Or, if using traditional ranked spells, make the bonus damage dependent upon the level of spell sacrificed rather than the sorcerer’s experience level.


Any prepared spell may be expended to conjure calamity, doing 2d6 damage (save for half) to all in a melee area or to a single enemy. Each sorcerer’s maleficence is unique and should be determined at the time of character creation by choice of a single additional descriptor (fire, lightning, shadow, cold, acid, and so forth), which can also cause secondary effects (igniting flammable objects, freezing a small pool, doing extra situational damage based on enemy weaknesses). When both damage dice come up 6, or if a natural 1 is rolled for the saving throw, the magic permanently disfigures the place or person afflicted (some examples include permafrost, an affinity for ghosts, a strange high pitched whining, the attention of a demon, a scar that senses the presence of the sorcerer).

Spells Without Levels: Vivimancy

These spells are inspired by confusion, disintegrate, slow, haste, growth of animals, neutralize poison, polymorph self, polymorph other, and stone to flesh. See spells without levels for more information about this project. The category name vivimancy was borrowed from The City of Iron.


This spell awakens the inner beast, causing the growth of claws and fangs, granting a +1 to attack and damage, and a decrease by 1 to all damage taken (a saving throw is permitted for the unwilling). Any creature so enraged must make a melee attack against the nearest combatant every round in the most violent manner possible (this generally means that the target should be determined randomly). When the spell expires, the subject collapses into unconsciousness if a saving throw is failed, and if this saving throw is a natural 1, the subject contracts lycanthropy.


The sorcerer’s touch causes the chaotic workings of life to permeate contiguous nonliving matter, approximately the size of one human per level (living creatures touched during the workings of this spell are subject to mutation if a saving throw is failed). One exploration turn of contact leads to softening and weakness, as veins, entrails, and other organic appurtenances metastasize, and after three exploration turns of contact, the matter collapses entirely into warm, pulsing slime. During each turn of contact, there is a 1 in 6 chance of the transforming matter spawning some hitherto unseen organism, though such spawns are almost certainly unviable.


All within a melee area are stricken with lethargy, moving at half their normal rate, and acting last in initiative automatically. Creatures of less than or equal HD to the sorcerer’s level are affected automatically, while others get a saving throw to avoid the effect. Indolence may also be cast on mechanisms or other things that engage in progress or change.


Similar to indolence, but the reverse in all ways.


The growth processes of several animals are accelerated, inducing ravenous hunger. If sufficient food is not available, the creatures will attempt to consume anything nearby, and will gain sustenance from materials not normally consumable, such as wood or dirt, though food or flesh is preferred. The animals 1) double in size for the duration of the spell and then collapse into unconsciousness afterwards, 2) double in size permanently, or 3) grow until they become gargantuan and are driven insane.

Serpent’s Kiss

After casting this spell, the sorcerer grows long, hollow fangs, which may be used for a bite attack as if armed. These fangs may also be used to to draw out venom from someone that has been poisoned, negating the poison, though this process is painful and somewhat gruesome. Venom so extracted is then stored in a new gland that develops within the sorcerer’s body, and may be delivered by bite during the spell’s duration.


Every person has two totems, a predator totem and a prey totem, which are connected and should be determined randomly (and recorded): 1) bat/centipede, 2) cat/rat, 3) hawk/newt, 4) owl/frog, 5) serpent/chicken, 6) wolf/sheep. This spell allows the sorcerer to transform into the predator totem animal, or force another into prey their prey totem (marked by the sorcerer’s totem sigil), the enchantment being permanent as long as the sigil is present (though a saving throw applies). Equipment does not transform.


A form in stone, such as a statue, is endowed with life, viscera, beating hearts, flesh, and so forth. If the stone was once living, that previous existence is permanently restored. Otherwise, when the spell ends the new life will 1) return to stone, 2) dissolve into a mess of biological waste, or 3) be stolen by an incorporeal soul, demon, or spirit for unpredictable purposes.

Redon - Flower of Blood (source)

Redon – Flower of Blood (source)


Spells Without Levels: Psychomancy

These spells are inspired by charm person, read languages, sleep, and feeblemind. See spells without levels for more information about this project.


Hostile creatures become neutral, neutral creatures become friendly, and friendly creatures become infatuated. Friendly creatures will be open to serving the sorcerer, given some basic incentive, and infatuated creatures require no incentive. Affects a number of HD worth of creatures equal to sorcerer level.


The meaning of obscured or indecipherable communications is laid bare. This spell may be used to understand the words of any language or read the true intent of a cyphered missive. Even spirit or animal speech, such as the groaning of clouds or the howling of wolves, may sometimes disclose their secrets.


By standing completely still with eyes closed in concentration, the sorcerer may enter the body of another within sight, gaining access to any of their senses, and dictate the subject’s physical actions (a saving throw applies, but does not end the spell, and the sorcerer may attempt command again in following rounds, against the same subject or another). Subjects of this spell may resist any given dictated action by taking a die of damage. Such manipulation is awkward (a minor penalty applies), and lends a marionette-like quality to the movements and demeanor of the subject so controlled.

Dust of the Sandman

Sparkling dust conjured from the land of dreams blankets a small melee, and all within must save versus magic or fall asleep.

Plasmic Manipulation

The sorcerer examines the mind of another for spells or other plasmic entities and may choose one of the following options: 1) steal one spell for later casting 2) implant (and thus lose) a spell into the target’s consciousness 3) free any number of plasmic entities from the target’s mind (in effect voiding prepared spells). The target of this spell is permitted a saving throw (use of a spell shield provides a +2 saving throw bonus rather than entirely preventing the effect), and if that saving throw is a natural 20 the target may instead raid the mind of the spell’s originator, with recourse to the same three options.

Redon - Closed Eyes (source)

Redon – Closed Eyes (source)


Spells Without Levels: Translocation

These spells are inspired by water breathing, teleport, locate object, and dimension door. See spells without levels for more information about this project. The last sentence of portal needs more work, but I think the idea should be clear.

Breath Transmittal

A number of creatures equal to the sorcerer’s level need not draw breath to sustain life for the duration of this spell. Instead, the sorcerer inscribes a breath sigil, and the atmosphere around the sigil is magically transferred to the lungs of the creatures selected during the casting of the spell.


A number of persons up to the sorcerer’s level are transported to the location of the sorcerer’s sigil of return. Carried and worn possessions are conveyed as well, though there is a 50% that any awkward or cumbersome object is left behind. The sigil of return must be scribed under the gaze of the sun and is destroyed if moved from its place of inscription.


Nonliving items marked with the sorcerer’s recall sigil are transported to the sorcerers current location. A number of significant items per level (following encumbrance guidelines) may be recalled.


The sorcerer places a portal sigil on two doors and by the casting of this spell connects them so that they become the same door as long as the sigils endure. A traveller stepping into one steps out of the other, with directionality of travel governed by the facing of the sigil (travellers enter toward the sigil and exit from it). This spell only works on doors of established essence, and is permanent, but closing the door after it has been opened from the sigil side destroys the enchantment and the sigils.

Altdorfer - Design of a portal (source)

Altdorfer – Design of a portal technology (source)


Spells Without Levels: Spiritualism

These spells were inspired by ESP, clairaudience, clairvoyance, mirror image, anti-magic shell, dispel magic, knock, detect magic, invisibility, and massmorph. Second sight has been presented before, but the version here is simpler. See spells without levels for more information about this project.

Astral Projection

The sorcerer’s spirit is liberated and may venture safely from the body up to 10 feet per level (which remains in stasis while the spirit is absent). The spirit is ethereal (and thus invisible to most mortal creatures), and may pass through a thickness of rock equal to level in feet, but is barred by lead or magical wards. While ethereal, the sorcerer may reach into the brains of others to raid surface thoughts, though targets of a higher level than the sorcerer are permitted a saving throw.


A sorcerer may use another person or thing as a relay for spells. The sorcerer’s conduit sigil must be placed on the conduit. As long as the sigil remains, the sorcerer may meditate and perceive the surroundings of the sigil.

Ethereal Boundary

The sorcerer is surrounded by a field that disrupts magic and is ethereally opaque and impassable. This barrier blocks any magical effect, both entering or leaving, though a saving throw is required to successfully block spells cast by a more powerful sorcerer. A number of people equal to the sorcerer’s level may be sheltered within the barrier.


Hekaphages are ethereal creatures which feed on magic and can consume enchantments and curses. A saving throw applies if the sorcerer level is less than the enchantment level. There is a chance in 6 equal to the level of the enchantment that the magic drained is sufficient to cause the hekaphage to manifest in the material world, though it will be fat and sated with the magic it has consumed.

Plasmic Key

All closed doors and secured entrances have a plasmic lock in addition to any material latches. Opening the plasmic lock voids any material fastening, but requires the fabrication of a plasmic key, which is consumed (if material) by the plasmic lock when used. The key for a particular plasmic lock is 1) a weapon that has been blooded in anger, 2) a freshly severed finger, 3) a debt to an angelic being, 4) a song enthusiastically sung, 5) the sacrifice of a sinner’s life, or 6) a randomly determined possession (significant in terms of encumbrance).

Second Sight

To the second sight, sorcerers radiate the presence of their prepared spells and enchanted items crackle with energy or leak glittering seepage. Specific enchantments reveal aspects of their nature visually. This spell reveals invisible and ethereal creatures and things.


The sorcerer becomes invisible to mortal creatures but appears as a blazing beacon to those with the second sight and many natural denizens of the spirit world. While shrouded, a sorcerer exists partially in both worlds, and may be harmed in either. Willing spirit creatures may be brought into the material world with the sorcerer when the spell ends.

Reality Shift

Anything within a perfect sphere of radius 10′ per sorcerer level may be shifted entirely into the spirit world, thus becoming invisible, insubstantial, and ethereal (unwilling conscious targets are permitted a saving throw). The sorcerer must remain within the boundaries of the enchantment, and nothing may leave for the duration of the spell (though the sorcerer may permit other entities entrance by whim). Paradoxically, the gaping absence does not affect the material world in any other way (for example, bridges will continue to stand if their supports are shifted).

Redon - Reflection (source)

Redon – Reflection (source)


Spells Without Levels: Necromancy

These spells were inspired by phantasmal forces, animate dead, death spell, magic jar, and reincarnation. See spells without levels for more information about this project.


A number of wicked poltergeists equal to the sorcerer’s level are summoned to haunt a place, person, or group of people (there is a 50% chance the haunting persists after the spell ends, and the sorcerer only retains influence while the spell is active). While alone the poltergeists will do their best to harass and torment their chosen targets, or all living creatures other than the sorcerer if no specific victim was indicated. Though the poltergeists cannot talk and are insubstantial, the sorcerer can direct them to laugh insanely, become visible as ghostly menaces with varying forms, howl discordantly, and cause telekinetic mischief (including the hurling of heavy or sharp objects that may cause real damage, though the referee should decide exactly what the poltergeists do).


Command or animate a number of HD worth of undead up to the sorcerer’s level (undead HD must match HD as they were in life), which is also the maximum HD worth of undead that a sorcerer may control at once (a saving throw applies for previously existing undead, and if the undead are under the control of another entity, that entity’s saving throw should be used). The newly risen dead are wide eyed, hopeful, eager to serve, and often overenthusiastic, if not particularly creative, in carrying out directives. When the spell ends, the undead minions 1) turn on the sorcerer in anger, 2) become catatonic, 3) collapse into mundane corpses, 4) dissolve into superheated ash or toxic slime, 5) travel to the land of the dead by opening a gate (which remains), or 6) become permanent minions (though they still count against the maximum number of controllable undead).

Death Ray

Kill one creature of HD less than or equal to the sorcerer’s level (if cast against targets above this HD threshold, the spell is not expended). A saving throw applies, though even if successful the target takes two dice of damage. There is a possibility that any creature slain by this spell will rise, either immediately or in the future, dedicated in undeath to vengeance against the sorcerer (chance again as per the creature’s save versus magic).

Soul Transfer

The sorcerer’s soul is placed in a talisman such as a pendant or article of clothing, leaving the original body behind in stasis. While in the talisman, the sorcerer’s consciousness remains active and aware of events nearby, and may possess any body that comes in contact with the talisman, though a save is permitted if the possession is resisted. If this new body is slain while occupied by the sorcerer’s soul, a saving throw is required for the sorcerer’s soul to return to the talisman and avoid becoming trapped in the spirit world.


Prepared canopic jars and paraphernalia must be available, and a freshly slain person’s organs harvested during the casting of this spell. Using the properly prepared remains, a ritual of three days and three nights may then be performed that slowly gathers a new body around the soul still contained in the brains and viscera. This new body should be determined using random encounter tables.

Edit: renamed the slay spell death ray.

Redon - Cauldron of the Sorceress (source)

Redon – Cauldron of the Sorceress (source)


Spells Without Levels: Elementalism

These spells were inspired by fly, fireball, lightning bolt, protection from normal missiles, pass-wall, lower water, part water, move earth, and control weather. See spells without levels for more information about this project.

Chariot of Air

A tumult of air elementals, prismatic and cacophonous, bears the sorcerer aloft and in any direction desired. Buffeted this way and that, no subtle action may be taken or communication attempted over the roar and incoherent babbling of the winds. Despite the many voices they have stolen, these creatures communicate by caresses and only madly wail in confusion if not in contact with the sorcerer.


The sorcerer gains complete control over a fire, and may cause it to grow, shrink, or otherwise change. The fire may be detonated (causing 1d6 damage per sorcerer level to all nearby), though this ends the spell.


Awaken the greater spirit of a hill or other stone prominence. It will obey basic commands, but is usually very slow, and is aversive to areas of great corruption. There is a 1 in 6 chance that the shift will be immediate and accompanied by an earthquake.

Seduce Waters

Divested of all equipment and clothing, the sorcerer bathes in a water, such as a river, lake, or pool (but not sea or ocean, as those old gods are wicked beyond measure) and in so doing communes with the spirit of the water. The water spirit will obey basic commands (though sometimes in fickle ways), and thus may be parted, lowered, or otherwise modified. Spirits often have requests of sorcerers, given how they are during most of their existence hemmed in by rock and sky.

The Spell of Subterranean Gullets

All tunnels, pits, and lacunae are the mouths, throats, and visceral spaces of the greater earth god Maxilor. The sorcerer may command the instantaneous opening of such a void in stone or rock, either horizontally (as a tunnel) or vertically (as a pit) to a depth of 10 feet per sorcerer level. The stone slowly returns to its former configuration, and will have closed completely (crushing any within) by the end of the spell.


The sorcerer may command the weather, though only in generalities such as summoning powerful winds, occluding the sun with dark storm clouds, or causing a downpour. Invariably any weather modifications will result in threefold retribution as the skies become enraged by mortal interference and reassert dominance in days to come. Stormspeech is most commonly used for speeding ships on placid seas, as the seafaring sorcerer will likely be far away from the rebalancing when it comes.

Trapped Lightning

First a trap, such as a bottle or copper rod, must be prepared and then set out under an open sky in a cosmically enticing manner, which will draw the lightning. By speaking the words of the spell, the trapped lightning may be discharged, doing 1d6 damage per sorcerer level to all in the path of the bolt or radius of the discharge (which can be bound again immediately if another trap has been laid in the correct location), though beware that being doused with water will free and disperse the lightning prior to use. When used as a melee weapon by the sorcerer, an undischarged lightning rod will knock back human-sized targets and deal one die of damage if a saving throw versus magic is failed.

Wind Barrier

Swirling winds deflect small missiles such as arrows or spears. The spell moves with the sorcerer, and may shelter a number of people equal to the sorcerer’s level. Outgoing missiles are hindered as well.

Roerich - Spell-words (source)

Roerich – Spell-words (source)