Roleplaying Resources

Abstract Magic System (2E)

This FidoNet post contains an alternate magic system for 2nd edition AD&D, by Michelle Bottorff.

Area GA, Msg#154, Dec-19-97 03:24:00PM
  From: Mbottorff@sprintmail.Com             
     To: All                                  
Subject: To Patrick Burton re Lloy

From: (Michelle Bottorff)
Subject: To Patrick Burton re Lloyal
What's with all the players on hold???? You need players
yet you have about 15 just sitting there. What's up with that.

Players listed as being on hold, are ones whose characters actually entered the game, but the player then dissapeared. When starting new characters the players on the holding list get to start *before* players on the waiting list. Some of these people, however, have been missing for four years, I don't really think it likely that they will show up again. :)

At any rate, at the moment I don't *HAVE* a waiting list.

If I do play, (this may seem a little up front but..) I'd probably be a
wizard, but of my own design (If you've been keeping up with the Fidonet
compendium, then you'll know it's a Dark Defier Necromancer.). It's not
that difficult to follow the abilities of my mage, but then, trying to
follow your instructions on magic is like trying to find the north star while looking

If you want to play a mage in my world you have to use my rules. I'm sorry that you found the magic summary confusing. I have an adittional magical information document that I am posting on the end of this message, but you may find that one confusing too. <shrug>

On the other hand my rules allow for magical specialties if you want them, so just tell me what restrictions your magic have and I will let you know how many extra points you get.

I also have no problems with you doing a trial run, and then stopping if you find it too awkward.

> This energy thing just made my head spin. What is this all about.

The important thing to remember is that you don't cast set spells. You have energy inside you that you can use to create ANY effect you want. But you don't have very MUCH energy.

I think that the easiest way to explain it, is if you have read books where peope have telekenetics. If they want to pick something up and move it, they pick it up and move it with their minds, instead of with their hands. But moving heavy things with your mind tires you out, just like moving heavy things with your hands does.

So you can move anything to anywhere you want with your magic, just by thinking aobut it, but you can only do so much magic before you are tired out. If you are doing easy things, like whirling feathers in the air, you don't get tired very quickly. If you are doing hard things, like throwing large rocks around, you get tired much faster.

My personal reccomendation is not to sweat the mechanics, as a player they are not your responsibility, though I have explained them more fully below.

As a mage in my game what you *should* be thinking is, “what is the simplest way to acheive the effect I need?” You need to slow down an enemy who is hot on your tail. Instead of materializing a large sticky web (creating something out of nothing is terribly draining of your energy), you simply grab a nearby rope and magically wind it about their legs and knot it, or you weaken a tunnel support above his head, and have the roof collapse on him, or you magically hint to a nearby guardsman that the person is suspicious looking, and let the LAW slow him down. :)

What's a major magic talent??? What's a minor talent???

Major and Minor talants refer to how much “Power” a magic user has. “Power” is sort of like your muscles. If I have a lot of energy I can carry small items around for a very long time. But If I don't have the muscle I can't lift the large items at all, no matter how much energy I have. Major talants have big magical muscles. Minor Talants have small magical muscles.

How do I know if the spell can be cast?
How do I know how much energy is needed for a specific spell????

How do you know if you are strong enough to lift a rock? You don't know. You have to guess.

However you have had experience lifting rocks and have at least sort of an idea of your own stregnth, so the following magical information document has a list of examples of how much energy it takes to do what.

Hope this helps you!

What every Magic User should know

Why mages don't wear armor (I had to come up with some reason, or throw that possibly mythical play balance to the winds.) Magic resonates with metal. Strangely the amount of the resonance is not based on the amount of energy running around, but on the power score. Metal gives magic users an itch. It makes concentration difficult (that thrumming in your head), and if enough of it is brought close enough to a mage with a great deal of power, the metal lights up! Only magic users with a power of five or less can use metal armor and still think straight enough to “cast spells.” Full mages generally avoid weapons with any significant metal content. Distance, naturally reduces the thrumm. You shouldn't have any trouble with your companions' metal, unless you are standing real close!

Power is the term that refers to the amount of magical energy a caster can handle at once. If the caster cannot handle that much energy, he cannot cast the spell. Energy, naturally, is the amount of magical energy the magic user has available to him. If a caster runs out of this energy in the middle of a “spell” then his body will attempt to convert his physical energy into magical energy. This conversion may or may not be be successful, and depending on where the energy was converted from can cause damage. You start regaining your energy after doing no magic for four hours. You will then gain a quarter of your energy each hour for the next four hours.

At low levels it is your energy that is the limiting factor on your magic. Mages start with 3 points, druids with 2 point and bards and random talants with 1. When you go up a level you gain 3 points for every spell normally gained under the AD&D system.

You may spend XP on magic rather than levels. For points it costs 1000 x the next number up. (eg. to gain your second point you pay 2000, to gain your 4th point you pay 4000.) To increase your power costs 5000 x the nest number up. (But power does go up with use. Approximately 100 spells at full power will increase your power by 1)

Limitations Defined

  • Minor – limited style/manifestation OR only 9 effects
  • Medium –limited style/manifestation and only 7 effects OR only 5 effects
  • Major –limited style/manifestation and only 3 effects OR only 1 effect

Your casting time is an initiative modifier of one. Most magic effects last one round. To be sustained the magic user must spend the same amount of energy again unless the effect is perminant (Destroy, Dominate and Mend/Shape), or subject to the hold modifier (Create, Illusion, Summon). The normal distance a magician can cause an effect is 3 yrds, beyond this the cost of the magic goes up. You must be capable of thinking clearly to keep spells going unless you have used trigger, reverse trigger or self-motivated modifiers.

Some possible effects are: Control (moving things mostly, creating winds, shaping fires, etc.), Create (fabricating substances and energy, lighting fires, building bridges out of air, light spells), Damage (reduce hp), Destroy (damage to objects without hit points), Divination (gaining knowledge), Dominate (influencing the thoughts, and therefore the actions, of thinking things), Enhance/Reduce (growing, shrinking, stregnthening, weakening, etc.), Heal (increasing hp), Illusion (forming creations that have no substance, but can effect the senses,), Mend/Shape (pretty self explanitory), Protect (stopping hp reduction), Summon (bringing an exisiting item from another location, includes teleportation), Total Domination (direct control of a thinking being). The cost is calculated on a base per effect. For instance Heal is a point value times the number of hp increased.

These base values can also modified by other circomstances such as: Contact, Distance, Fine control, Fine detail, Generic effect (oposite of fine detail/control),Hold(in exsistance for longer), Living matter (it is harder to shape, summon living items), No save/dodge, Perminancy, Reverse trigger (the spells is periminant until…) Self-motivated (the magical effect can run itself without the caster concentrating on it), Specific Target, Target Helping, Target Resisting, Temporary, Trigger (the spell is cast but does not take effect until something sets it off, such as an alarm spell wich is a triggered illusion)

Don't worry if you want to create an effect that is not listed. Just descibe the effect, and I will add it to my tables :)

Since you ought to know what you can do, I am providing a list of examples of actual “spells” and what they cost. The reason I am not posting the actual tables is because I do not want you stopping in the middle of a fight to calculate out costs. A few general guidelines. Be smart. Use your surroundings to your own advantage. Keep your magics simple and close to home. Your advantages over the AD&D mage are flexibility and speed (and no need to carry around material components.) But you don't have access to a lot less power. Remember, it costs significantly less, to weaken a stalacite, and drop it on someones head then it does to use a direct damage spell. Creating a light costs twice as much as summoning the sunlight shining on the roof.

Sample spells

Magic missile at someone 11 yrds away, doing 3 points of damage, no saving throw. Cost:19 With saving throw. Cost: 6 (big difference!)

Weakening a stalacite and dropping it on someone for 4d6 hp damage (who may try dodge). Cost :10

If it was a wooden beam and he was closer (within three yards) for 2d6 hp damage. Cost: 3

Entangling him in a nearby curtain doing no damage, but effectively immoblizing him. Cost: 1

Light spell (as described in the PHB) within three yards of caster. Cost:1 first round, 2/3 for following rounds.

Summoning light from outside in stead of creating it. Cost: 1/2 first round, and 1/3 for each following round. (There must be light close by to use this technique.), Continual light. Cost: 20 Perminant magic skylight or window, (one way). Cost: 10 Magic window (one way) you can't see through (like frosted glass) Cost: 6 2/3 Affect normal fires (fire within 3 yards) Cost: 1/round. Fire 6 yards away Cost: 2/round

Alarm. Cost:2

Armor variants. Create equivalent of 40 lbs of metal (chain mail), perminant until taking some damaage Cost: 200 Enhance AC from 10 to 6 perminant until taking some damage Cost: 50 Create chain equivalent Cost: 40/round Enhance AC Cost: 10/round Protection against 8 hp damage. Cost: 9

Audible glamour (Volume, one man yelling). Cost: 1 for first round 2/3 for following rounds. Phantasmal force. Cost: 1 first round 2/3 following rounds.

Charm person –turning a hostile person into a friendly one. Cost: 8 Turning an indifferent person into a friendly one. Cost: 2 Comprehend Language of someone speaking before you. Cost: 1/round Of manuscript written in language now defunct and known only to the gods Cost: 5/round Learn language of someone speaking before you. Cost: 20.

Learn language now defunct, etc. Cost: 100.

Detect ???? within 9 yards. Cost: 2 Within 3 yards cost: 1

Feather Fall. Cost: 1/round Levitate. Cost: 2/round Fly. Cost 4/round

Identify. Cost: (based on strangeness of object) 1-5

Sleep (group of four active hostile enemies) Cost: 40. One sitting indifferent person. Cost: 2 Lying down friendly person. Cost: 1/2

Wall of Fog (magic user summons fog in front of him and sends it billowing out 3 yards to either side.) Cost: 1 (for thick but otherwise ordinary fog, that will disapate naturally or blow away.) To summon shapless fog (instead of wall of fog) costs 2/3, but may, of course, hinder friend as well as foe.

See auras/spirit forms. Cost: 1/round

Feel free to post practise “spells,” to help you get the feel of the system. I will allow as many of these as you like before we start or any time there is a time gap in the game. Don't litter the echo with them though, I don't want the moderators getting mad at me. :)


The fierce winds blow even as high as the eagle flies--
And the stars themselves are not free to follow their courses

-Lady Lavender, Bard

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