Magic-user spell, level 1, range 120′

Counter-spell may be cast in reaction to any spell being cast, even if the caster has already taken an action, as long as the enemy caster is within range. Any save against the targeted spell may be re-rolled once if failed. Counter-spell must be cast, however, before the first save is rolled. Counter-spell has no effect against spells that do not grant a saving throw. Though counter-spell is a first level spell, it may be prepared using any level of spell slot. The level of spell slot used grants a bonus to the saving throw re-roll (thus, the extra save granted by counter-spell prepared using a first level has a +1 bonus and counter-spell prepared using a third level slot has a +3 bonus). Scrying magic (such as that provided by a crystal ball or ESP spell) allows a counter-spell to be cast at greater range.

Variation: counter-spell is not a spell, but rather a reaction that any magic-user can take at the cost of a prepared spell, much like how clerics in 3E can substitute a cure spell for any prepared spell. Rules otherwise as above. I can’t decide which is better. On the one hand, magic-users are the planning class, and should thus maybe need to plan for counter-spells. On the other hand, spell casting enemies are not that common, so there is a risk that the option would never be taken.

See also this earlier approach to counter-spells.

14 thoughts on “Counter-spell

  1. Alec Semicognito

    I like it. Spell-casters in fiction and comics often have an ability like this, and the way you set up the bonus for losing a high-level spell allows the trope of a powerful wizard swatting aside a lesser one’s spell.

    Might benefit from some weighting of the level of the spell being cast, possibly with exactly the same bonuses in the opposite direction.

    1. Brendan


      Seems reasonable regarding counter-bonuses for the spell being cast. Extra math though, so it might be harder to get the rule to stick, but you never know.

  2. Joshua

    I think I like “burning” the spell instead of prepping it; particularly since it just doubles the chance of succeeding at the save, I can’t see somebody spending a slot on preparing a counter-spell even if they knew for sure they’d be facing a spell-caster. And I think the bonus should be more than +1 per level of spell; something more like an extra saving roll per level of spell.

    1. Brendan


      I should probably run the probabilities (as is: essentially, two dice, take highest, one of the dice gets a bonus). If that was not advantageous enough, rather than add another die roll, I would probably do +(magic-user level) rather than +(spell level). But that gets into 3E bonus magnitudes (I think), which I tend to find overwhelms the system. Also keep in mind that the saving throw itself becomes pretty favorable for a high level magic-user.

      I think I’m also leaning toward the burn a spell method.

  3. Anthony Casaldi

    Épées & Sorcellerie uses counter-spelling as an ability of the magic-user class. “Costs” nothing and succeeds when a caster rolls higher on 2d6+Int bonus (maximum +2) than the targeted spells level+6. Not having it cost anything would mean every spell and spell effect gets a counter attempt and on average no first level spell succeeds against the players. I’m running my first E&S game this Saturday so I’ll see how that exactly works in practice.

  4. Hedgehobbit

    Back in my 3e days I let the PCs counter spell with any spell. Each side would roll a die per caster level and then sort them from highest to lowest in a line pointing to the enemy (the DM would do the same for the NPC wizard). I did this to visually represent the “magic beams” going back and forth like you’d see in movies (such as the recent Harry Potter ones). You would compare the dice Risk style and whomever had the highest number of wins would win. There was a bonus for countering with the exact same spell or with Dispel Magic but I don’t remember what it was exactly (some sort of rerolls).

  5. Gus L

    I like the idea of counterspells – though I think with having to burn their one or two offensive/utility spells to cast one means magic-users are unlikely to use this rule much. Personally I like a counter-spell rule that only has opportunity cost and works like a wizard duel. That is you can counter-spell by not taking any action and rolling to “to hit” against the spell level countered if you have the countered spell in your book. This has a couple neat effects, even if no one ever utilizes it:
    1) Makes collecting spells a bigger thing for casters.
    2) Allows strange alternative spells that are unlikely to be countered.
    3) Means even a weak MU like a goblin shaman is going to change your tactics as sleep will be countered.
    Still my PC’s never avail themselves, though to be honest no one in my games ever goes wizard for some odd reason.

    1. Brendan


      Well Vorving was an elf-alike. I vaguely remember having a conversation with you about counterspells before, and I think you said that the passenger class characters didn’t get the counter ability.

      I think your rule might actually still work fine even without the “lose an action” opportunity cost. Basically, just a chance that the target spell would fail if some roll is passed assuming another magic-user is familiar with the spell in question (whatever “familiar” means).

      Maybe with a fumble chance on snake eyes or natural 1, depending on the die used, just to keep things interesting.

      I kind of feel like anything sorcery-related should blow up on a natural 1, no matter what.

    2. Gus L

      Yeah – I limit counterspell to actual magic-users – cause I figured it’d be elf o’ rama otherwise. Still I think players actually don’t powergame much in character creation, they’re just like “I want to play a pointy earred freak” or “I want to play a burly brute” and class comes afterwards.

      I don’t know about fumbles for spells – but I do like the idea that a wizard can derail another wizard’s casting with some minimal effort.

  6. -C

    If you just re-roll the save, fireballs still detonate, etc. So that isn’t really a counter-spell. It’s more like a spell dampener.

    1. Brendan


      True. Ignoring the name for a moment, do you think save re-roll is not effective enough? It could offer a first save to negate the spell, and then the second (normal) save if the spell goes off.

    2. -C

      Oh, well, that’s different (the first save negating the spell).

      The first battle where the wizards have their spells countered is the first time your players hate it. They already hate monsters saving.


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