Skip to main content

Boring Spells

I prefer simple classes that let you model a wide variety of characters.

OD&D does this really well with Fighters. Your Fighter can be a knight, or a pirate, or a robin hood, depending on how you outfit and play them. Nice.

The new wave of the OSR has provided us with several adaptations that turn the Thief into a Specialist or Expert or Adventurer, which creates a similar effect: you have a class that provides non-combat skills, be it a box-man, architect, diplomat, tracker, whatever. I like it.

But spell casters are not so flexible. The spell list contains enough flavor and world-implication that your Magic User is always a D&D Magic User, and your Cleric always tithes to the Church of Gygax.

Gustav Doré, Don Quixote, 1863


I present a completely flavor-drained spell list. Just straight mechanics. Want a Fire Mage or Shadow Walker or Time Lord or Gadgeteer or whatever? Just pick the mechanics you need and dress them up in lovely fluff.

It's a lot easier than writing out a whole new spell list, and I think it can be a fun part of character creation. The best part of superhero rpgs is rolling up a random assortment of powers and then trying to figure out how they fit together, right? This is like that.

A few notes:
This formulation of Boring Spells is intended to be OSR multi-edition compliant. It assumes standard level advancement and Vancian magic. I actually started down this road while reworking my AES Microlite20 variant. I'll share that version, in which I take more liberties, in a bit.

There are spells that create diseases and poisons. I left out any descriptions of how these work, since there is such a variance between editions on these matters. If you don't have a favorite mechanic, just assign a saving throw, roll d6 for damage (or Attribute Loss if you're nasty), and repeat every day until the character is cured or dead.

Stripping the spells down like this, it's a lot easier to compare apples to apples, and see which mechanics belong at different levels. Feel free to add your own spells (or to adopt stripped-down version of other spells you find out there), and just plug them into whatever level seems appropriate.

There are exactly 100 Boring Spells. Handy for randomly determining what's on a random scroll, or in an NPC's spell book. The d100 version of the spell list will be in the Microlite20 post.

This doesn't address any other class differences you may want to use to separate out your Clerics from your Witches and whatnot. It's just a bunch of Boring Spells.

Edit: Here some examples: Some Boring Spell-Casters.


Popular posts from this blog

Maze Rats by Post

In my previous post, I reviewed a bunch of my favorite rulesets for optimization for Play-by-Post. It occurred to me almost immediately that I hadn't really thought about Maze Rats enough.

In fact, I'd mis-remembered and mischaracterized it. Upon reflection, one of the mechanics I took issue with is actually a big strength. Re-reading the rules, it seems like just a few very simple hacks could make it a highly-optimized PbP game.

As follows:
Danger Rolls are rolled by the GM.

Danger rolls usually fail, so it is in the player’s interest to describe their actions plausibly and mitigate as many risks as they can, in the hopes that they don’t trigger a danger roll.

2d6 + ability bonus ≥ 10

If you have taken enough precautions to have a distinct advantage in an action, but not enough to have eliminated the distinct possibility of danger, the GM will give you a roll with advantage.

3d6 keep 2 + ability bonus ≥ 10

Because each character only has 3 ability scores (STR, DEX, WIL), it s…

Reviewing Rules for Play-by-Post Optimization

I’ve played a lot of PbP games: all your favorite flavors of OD&D, AD&D, and their retroclones, Call of Cthulhu, Marvel Superheroes, Traveller, Dungeon World, etc. ad nauseam.

In almost every instance, I forgot what ruleset we were using at some point. Which is a good thing. Once chargen is over, you spend a lot more time describing your characters actions and poring over the GM’s descriptions than you spend interacting with rules. When you do roll, it’s usually a combat to-hit roll, which you’ve probably programmed into the online dice-roller as a macro. Pretty much any game will work for PbP.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t points of possible optimization.

Point 1: Resolution. Anything that can keep the action moving is a boon to PbP. A game that requires a back-and-forth exchange of information to resolve an action is going to progress very slowly. A good rule of thumb is that it’ll take 2 or 3 days to get a response from any given player. At that pace, an exchange that w…

Knaves, fancypants

I've prepared a new layout document of Ben Milton's Knaves.

Knaves is a great, light rules set that has an extremely elegant core mechanic while retaining total compatibility with OSR material. It's pretty much the rpg of my dreams.

This document contains the complete rules, plus a bunch of useful hacks from the community, plus a few of my invention, plus some useful resources from Ben Milton's previous effort, Maze Rats.

EDIT: I've updated the layout to fix errata and make a few tweaks. Further, I've made 3 variations:

The Tablet Layout is meant for scrolling on screens, and contains hyperlinks.

The Spread Layout is set up to print on Letter-sized paper.

The A4 Layout is set up to print on A4 paper, and is probably the most elegant of the three versions.

This is presented with generous permission from Ben Milton, and should in no way be an excuse for not purchasing a copy of Knave from Drive-Thru RPG. It'…