So, part of my concept for PARS FORTUNA is introducing alternate rules. While the RPG will contain the old tried-and-true Vancian system for those who love it, the assumed magic system for the game is something different.
The Spell Interval System
The Spell Interval system assumes that casting spells involves gathering eldritch energies and then releasing them, with the words, gestures and tools that are involved shaping that "energy" to produce the desired effect. The more powerful a spell, the more energy it takes - i.e. the higher the level of the spell, the longer it takes for the magician's body (and soul?) to absorb the needed energy to power the spell.
The spell level intervals are as follows: Each hour, you may cast one first level spell; each day you may cast one second level spell; each week you may cast one third level spell; each month one fourth level spell; each year one spell each of the sixth, seventh eighth and ninth levels.
Naturally, the average magician will not be satisfied with these restrictions, and will seek a way around them. Magicians can attempt to cast spells over and beyond what is allowed, but doing so can be dangerous. When a spell-caster wishes to cast additional spells of a level, he must make a saving throw, subtracting the level of the spell he wishes to cast from his roll. If successful, he channels and masters the energies necessary and casts the desired spell. If he fails, he must face the consequences, which include mental and physical deformities and supernatural curses. The more powerful the spell a magicians fails to cast, the more potentially disastrous the consequences!
I've always enjoyed the idea of magicians carrying all sorts of odd objects and materials in order to work their art. Advanced versions of our favorite game have included material components for years, and they are often ignored because they are difficult to track. PARS FORTUNA uses a similar concept, as follows:
Level 1 to 3 spells are classified as "Cantraps" and require a fetish to cast. Each spell requires a different sort of fetish, and the fetish is not consumed in casting the spell - it is merely a cheap tool, composed of ordinary, mundane objects, that the magician must hold in his hand to successfully shape his magical energies into a spell.
Level 4 to 6 spells are classified as "Invocations" and require a tool (or set of tools) to cast. These tools are more expensive than the fetishes required by cantraps, and include arthames (mystic knives), censers and wands.
Level 7 to 9 spells are classified as "Rituals" and require expensive gems to cast. Unlike the fetishes and tools, these gems are consumed during the casting of the spell.
Spell Level: 1
Range: 30 ft.
Duration: 1d4 rounds
Focus: Leaves from poison ivy, oak or sumac tied into a bundle with twine
You cover the target’s body in an itching sensation that lasts 1d4 rounds. For the duration, the target takes a –1 penalty on attack rolls, damage rolls and saving throws, and suffers a –1 penalty to its Armor Class if it fails a saving throw. The creature can scratch, negating the penalties for that round. Creatures that have thick hides are immune to this version of irritation.
Pitch Sight (Cantrap)
Spell Level: 2
Range: 30 ft.
Duration: 1 minute per level
Focus: A small piece of phosphorescent lichen held tightly in right fist
The caster and her allies can see normally through normal and magical darkness.
Curse of Light (Cantrap)
Spell Level: 3
Duration: 1 hour/level
Focus: A tiny sack of phosphorus
You make the subject extremely sensitive to light. Abrupt exposure to bright light blinds the subject for 1d4 rounds. On subsequent rounds, they suffer a –1 penalty to all attack, damage and saving throw rolls.
Spell Level: 4
Range: 10 ft.
Tool: Bolline (sickle) swung over the target’s head
You negate possession of a creature or object by any force. When you cast this spell, the possessing force may make a saving throw to resist you. If unsuccessful, the possessing creature is ejected from the host and stunned for one round. A creature affected by this spell cannot attempt to possess the same host for one day.
If cast against disembodied spirits, the spell forces those spirits to make a saving throw or flee away from the magician and keep at least 30 feet away for 1 hour.
Ghost Walk (Invocation)
Spell Level: 5
Duration: 1 minute/level
Tool: Amulet set with a mirror
You become incorporeal, similar to a ghost. While ethereal, other ethereal creatures can harm you, as well as material creatures that use magic weapons and spells. You are immune to all non-magical attack forms, are not burned by normal fires, and are unaffected by natural cold or harmed by mundane acids.
You can move in any direction (including up or down) at will and with perfect maneuverability. You do not need to walk on the ground. You can pass through solid objects at will, although you cannot see when your eyes are within solid matter.
You are inaudible unless you decide to make noise. You pass through and operate in water as easily as you do in air. You cannot fall or take falling damage. You have no weight and do not set off traps that are triggered by weight. You do not leave footprints, have no scent and make no noise.
Your physical attacks are ineffectual against material creatures. Your spells affect material creatures normally.
Gem Guard (Invocation)
Spell Level: 6
Range: See text
Duration: 1 hour per level
Tool: Athame, used to split the focus gem
You transform a gem into a scrying device. When the spell is cast, the two halves of a corundum worth at least 1,000 gp become linked. When you hold one, you may scry on the other at will. You can see everything within 50 ft. of the other half. Any creature with at least a 12 intelligence has a 1-2 on 1d6 chance of sensing your attention. Spells may be cast freely through the linking gem, and may target any creature within its sensor range. Area effect spells may damage the other half of the focus, which has 30 hit points.
Infinite Step (Ritual)
Spell Level: 7
Gem: Jacinth (50 gp)
You (with one other willing party) instantly transfer yourself from your current location to any other spot within sight. At 12th level, the magician may make a second step from the destination.
Edge of Oblivion (Ritual)
Spell Level: 8
Range: 60 ft.
Gem: Onyx (100 gp)
This spell assaults the mind and body of the subject. The subject must make two saving throws, one boosted by any wisdom bonus the creature enjoys, the other by any constitution bonus. If the subject fails the wisdom saving throw, the spell deals 1d6 permanent ability damage to the target’s intelligence, wisdom or charisma, determined randomly. If the subject fails the constitution saving throw, the spell deals 1d6 permanent ability damage to the target’s strength, dexterity or constitution, determined randomly. The caster is stunned for one round following the casting of this spell.
Prismatic Helix (Ritual)
Spell Level: 9
Range: 60 ft.
Duration: 10 minutes per level
Gem: Opal (500 gp)
The visible effect of the prismatic helix is a stationary, slowly rotating, seven strand helix, one for each color in the spectrum. This helix is 5 feet in diameter and up to 20 feet high. Any creature of 8 HD or less that looks at the helix from less than 60 feet away is fascinated, unable to do anything but stare at the helix. There is no limit to the number of creatures that can be captivated in this manner.
Once per round, the helix shoots one ray at the nearest creature, using the magician’s attack bonus. Roll randomly on the table below for the effect.
1. Red: 2d6 points of fire damage
2. Orange: 4d6 points of acid damage
3. Yellow: 8d6 points of electricity damage
4. Green: Poison (save or die)
5. Blue: Turned to stone
6. Indigo: Stark, raving mad
7. Violet: Sent to another dimension
8. Struck by two rays, roll twice, ignore any “8”
Individual strands are destroyed by opposite effects (as determined by the Referee). If a particular color has been destroyed, and that color is rolled for a ray attack, re-roll until a valid color is selected.