Rather than take a standard action, a magic-user may ready a counterspell. When deciding to ready a counterspell, the magic-user must select a target caster and must be aware of the target (this awareness can either be via direct physical perception, or can use an intermediate medium such as a scrying spell). From now on, the target will be referred to as the caster. As when casting a spell, no movement is permitted. A magic-user may not use a counterspell when surprised. Only magic-user spells (that is, not cleric spells) may be countered. Countering spells may result in gridlock while both magic-users wait for their counterparty to take the first action. This is intended.
There are two kinds of counterspells, temporary and permanent. A temporary counterspell prevents the casting of a spell, but does not wipe it from the target’s mind (or consume the scroll if they were casting from a scroll). Any magic user may always attempt a temporary counterspell. A permanent counterspell wipes the spell from the caster’s mind as if it had been cast or consumes the scroll. A permanent counterspell costs a spell slot of equivalent level from the countering magic-user. For example, if the target is casting levitate (a second level spell) and the countering magic-user wishes to attempt a permanent counterspell, the countering magic-user must also have a second level spell prepared, though it need not be the same spell. That spell is expended during the countering attempt (whether the counter is successful or not). If the countering magic-user does not have such a spell prepared, treat the countering attempt as temporary.
If the target casts a spell while the magic-user is in countering mode, a counter attempt may be made. If the spell being cast is one that the countering magic-user has in a spell book, the countering magic-user will be aware of which spell is being cast before they must decide whether or not to attempt a counter (though they will still be unaware of details such as the spell target). The caster must make a saving throw versus spells, with penalty equal to the highest level spell the countering magic-user can prepare. If the save is successful, the spell goes off as normal (i.e., the countering attempt has failed). If the caster fails the counterspell save, the spell is countered.
If a 1 is rolled on the counterspell saving throw, the caster must roll on the counterspell catastrophe table (see below). If a 20 is rolled on the counterspell saving throw, the countering magic-user must roll on the counterspell catastrophe table. Engaging in sorcerous combat is always dangerous, and opens a countering magic-user to a magical counterattack. Rather than rolling on the catastrophe table, referees may also make something up that is suitably nasty.
A counterspell scroll is a “bottled” version of a permanent counterspell. A counterspell scroll has a level, determined by the scribe. Costs are as per Holmes scroll creation rules (page 13): 100 GP and 1 week of time per scroll level. A higher level magic-user may produces a lower level counterspell scroll at correspondingly lower cost. Thus, a seventh level magic-user may produce up to fourth level counterspell scrolls. Such a fourth level counterspell scroll would cost 400 GP and take four weeks to produce. Counterspell scrolls are consumed when used even if the target caster makes the counterspell saving throw.
- 1d6 psychic damage
- Lose another prepared spell (determined randomly)
- Thrown 2d6 feet in a randomly determined direction
- Struck blind for 1d4 turns
- Screams due to severe pain (wandering monster check)
- Age 1 year (may include hair and fingernail growth)
- Knocked unconscious (as per sleep spell)
- Mind violation (as per ESP spell); duration 12 turns
- Develop spell allergy: future casting of countered spell always requires save
- Polluted luck: penalty of 1 or 2 (depending on die) to all rolls for 12 turns
- Weakness: movement and all physical ability scores halved for 12 turns
- Warped reality: all missiles within 50′ arc to target the subject for next turn
- Feeblemind (as per spell) for remainder of encounter
- Hostile 1 hit die elemental summoned (determine element randomly)
- Strange gravity: as if in 0 G environment for 1 turn
- Riposte: other magic user gets free spell or attack against subject
- Entrancement (as charm person, another save applies)
- Moon curse: exposure to moonlight causes 1d4 damage (remove curse ends)
- Sun curse: exposure to sunlight causes 1d4 damage (remove curse ends)
- Hostile 1 hit die demon summoned