Nehwonian magic is diverse. Here are some rules and spells used in our games. The magic system used in Elric! is workable but not really representative of magic used in either the Young Kingdoms or Nehwon.
There are no specific spells, just one generic Magic skill. Magic is situational and based on probability of an event occurring. When a mage wishes to cast a spell, the referee gives it a level of difficulty:
1. Probable. Things which might happen normally eg, a person tripping
2. Unlikely. Thing which could happen by accident but which are unlikely
3. Highly unlikely.
4. Wildly improbable. eg, crazy physical feats or strokes of incredible luck
5. Impossible in nature. eg, flying people, talking to dead men etc.
The mage rolls against his Magic skill – (10% x grade of spell) If he fails he can’t remember the incantation and there is no effect. If he succeeds he makes a POW x5 roll for each grade of the spell. For each one that succeeds he loses 1D6 Magic Points; for each one that fails he loses 1 Magic Point. If all succeed the spell works.
Chance to cast = magical skill level – (10% x difficulty level)
Plus (difficulty level) x rolls against POWx5
Cost to cast = 1 point per failed POWx5 roll, 1D6 per successful POWx5 roll
Magical skills are like normal skills, except that they cost Magic Points to cast. A magical skill can cover all magical activity, a ‘list’ of related spells or a single spell. Dedicated sorcerer types have more general skills; dabblers know individual spells to varying degrees.
Essence, ie. sorcery
Rolemaster Spell Law is an example source of spell lists. Spell Law uses lists of spells of increasing level. Here’s how such lists can be used in an Elric!/Basic Roleplaying context:
Spell list = magical skill
Chance to cast = skill level – (5% x spell level)
Magic Point cost = spell level if successful; 1 point otherwise
or (5% x (spell level -1)) if you feel kind
That’s it, we are done here.
Channeling (aka Divine) spells are a bit different. They come from the Gods so they cost Allegiance points to that god equal to the spell level, plus 1 magic point from the caster. Allegiance points can be built up again by being a good follower of that god.
These are a little like Channeling except they are focused on the POW of the caster. They don’t cost magic points but there is a chance of fatigue when using them.
Base chance: (POW – spell level) x 5%
Success – the mentalism feat is effective
Failure – feat fails, Fatigue increases one level
Fumble – as above plus the mentalist passes out.
Fatigue levels (from BGB p.32)
- Psychically drained: Mentalism skill rolls Difficult
- Tired: All skill rolls Difficult (equiv. CONx3 rounds of physical exertion)
- Spent: Stamina roll required for any activity; skills at one quarter normal (equiv. CONx4 rounds of physical exertion)
- Exhausted: Difficult Stamina roll for any activity; skills max = POW x 1 (equiv. CONx10 rounds of physical exertion)
(mostly Sprit Magic from RQ3) as used by active characters
CoC Call of Cthulhu, Third Edition, Chaosium/Games Workshop, Albany, 1986
DL H.P. Lovecraft’s Dreamlands 2nd Edition, Chaosium, Albany, 1988
DS Ross, Kevin, Dreaming Stone, Chaosium, Albany, 1997
RQ3 Runequest 3rd Edition, Avalon Hill Game Company, Baltimore, 1993
SL Rolemaster Spell Law 3rd Edition, Iron Crown Enterprises Inc. Charlottsville VA, 1997