Tag Archives: Wonder & Wickedness

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)


Spells Without Levels: Diabolism

These spells were inspired by hold person, protection from evil, geas, invisible stalker, light, cloudkill, contact higher plane, and conjure elemental. An element of Death Frost Doom informed covenant. I might give sorcerers that start with conjure the true name of a 1 HD minor demon. See spells without levels for more information about this project. Some spells make use of sigils. A sorcerer may only ever have one sigil of a given type active at a time and the creation of a new sigil causes any previous sigils of the same type to vanish.


Summon invisible, extra-dimensional chains. A number of hit dice worth of creatures equal to the sorcerer’s level may be bound, and saving throws apply. Bindings may be set as traps by laying a binding sigil.

Circle of Protection

Supernatural creatures of HD less than or equal to the sorcerer’s level may not cross or disturb the circle boundary. A number of people equal to the sorcerer’s level may shelter within the circle. The circle must be drawn prior to casting, is immobile, and lasts until the circle is broken.


Magically seal a bargain between the sorcerer and a counterparty by awarding temporary control of both souls to a devil. Free assent is required, but may be compelled by factors external to the magic (such as a dagger to the throat). Demonic malady rewards temporary deviation, and ignoring the covenant completely allows the devil to take permanent possession, which causes death (and eternal torment).

Demonic Assassin

Conjure forth a demon and negotiate terms (part of payment is always the soul of the target). The sorcerer’s sigil must be set upon a possession of the target. The demon will then hunt the possessor of the object the sigil is set upon until the possessor is slain.


Conjure a hovering insubstantial spirit of radiance that does not shed heat, does not require air, is not doused by water, and may be maintained with concentration. A number of gleams equal to level may be summoned and the illumination of each is similar to torchlight. Gleams may be directed to bedevil enemies, which will cause temporary blindness (if a saving throw is failed) as long as the spirit remains engaged.


Summon the poisonous atmosphere of hell. Determine effect randomly: 1) save or die if breathed 2) one die of acid damage per round and vulnerable objects must save 3) burning blindness permanent until treated with salves and poultices 4) uncontrollable retching which imposes a -4 penalty and prevents complex actions such as spell casting 5) one die of cold damage per round and any killed in the miasma rise as uncontrollable ice revenants 6) the stench of chaos requires all within to save or go berserk, attacking randomly any within reach. The miasma follows the wind, but otherwise seeks to descend back to its place of origin.


Query a creature from another dimension. If a particular true name is known, it may be intoned during the casting of this spell, and the named creature will answer, otherwise determine the entity randomly (such as from a table of demon lords). Answers are not guaranteed to be truthful, and entities will usually attempt to further their own interests.


Call a creature from another dimension. If a particular true name is known, it may be intoned during the casting of this spell, and the named creature will come, but the veil may also be rent without care for what will emerge (determine entity randomly, either by rolling 1d20 for HD and making up the other details or by using a table of creatures from other dimensions). Sorcerers may control any conjured entity of hit dice less than or equal to the sorcerer’s level with concentration, but otherwise the standard reaction roll and negotiation procedures apply.

Solomko - Fortune-telling (source)

Solomko – Fortune-telling (source)


Spells without levels

Roerich - Magician (source)

Roerich – Magician (source)

Rather than rate spells by level and make some spells only available to high level sorcerers, spells could be level agnostic. Two important properties are required for a level agnostic spell. First, power and spell consequences need to be modulated so that basic game challenges are not circumvented. That is, all spells need to be appropriate for beginning characters. Second, spell capabilities must scale to some degree with sorcerer level so that they remain relevant throughout the game. This approach provides several benefits, such as the possibility of playing many different kinds of sorcerer from the beginning of a campaign (no waiting for 9th level magic-users getting raise dead in order to be a “real” necromancer), and puts more potentially campaign altering tools in the hands of players immediately (though such alteration often comes with consequences).

Lamentations of the Flame Princess has taken a similar approach with some spells, such as the first level summon spell, and A Spell to Grant One’s Heart’s Desire (basically, a first level variation of wish) from Better Than Any Man (available as pay-what-you-want). These spells were definitely an inspiration.

There may be some drawbacks to this approach to spell design as well, and I am certainly not claiming that this model is better for all campaigns. For example, there is something to be said for aspirational spells as motivation. Further, dividing spells into levels introduces complexity gradually. That said, random determination of spells can help mitigate information overload, and hopefully other adventure motivation will be available.

Following this logic, I have created a new set of level agnostic spells inspired by the original list in Men & Magic. Each spell description is restricted to three sentences. If backwards compatibility is desired, all spells could be treated as first level. If replacing all magic with level agnostic spells, rather than the standard spell progression, a sorcerer could have a number of spell slots equal to level, with bonus spells slots perhaps awarded for characters with an exceptional intelligence. Spells that persist over time last 1 turn per sorcerer level. Some spells make use of sigils. A sorcerer may only ever have one sigil of a given type active at a time and the creation of a new sigil causes any previous sigils of the same type to vanish.

The categories that seemed to arise naturally in this process were diabolism, elementalism, psychomancy, necromancy, spiritualism, translocation, and vivimancy. (There are a few spells that I’m still not sure about, which might potentially give rise to more categories.) Each of these categories will be presented in an upcoming post.