As I continue to watch Thundarr the Barbarian, my brain ponders all the different things I can do with an upcoming project I’m working on, collaborating with Talon Waite; right now particularly focused on Sorcerers.
I was thinking about Swords and Sorcery and how in the stories there really isn’t a spell list, and that casters searched for forbidden knowledge and artifacts, but didn’t go hunting for new spells and scrolls… This is also true for what I see in Thundarr.
One of the best systems I’ve seen to nail this type of format is Barbarians of Lemuria. It’s a great little RPG. However, my love right now is with the Black Hack and Into the Odd, and Dungeon Crawl Classics. Each one serving a specific purpose in my warm, fuzzy OSR-beating heart.
I decided to cook up some quick rules, inspired by Barbarians of Lemuria, for Black Hack.
Black Hack Alternate Casting Rules
Sorcerers do not have spell lists or large tomes with spells scrolled in them. They manipulate the very energy of the planet and cosmos to bring their will into manifestation. A player describes what they wish to accomplish and through discussion determine what power level the spell is.
Each time a Sorcerer casts a spell, they roll a Usage Die as outlined in The Black Hack (page 8). If the result is a 1-2, the die is reduced by one level. Certain spell levels affect how this is rolled (see Power description below). With a full night of rest, the Usage Die is raised one level.
|Sorcerer Usage Die|
Example: Buzzfor the Grognard Wizard (5rd level) summons forth a ball of light to hover by his head, acting as a torch. The GM and they player agree that this is a Power of the Sun level spell. After the spell is cast, Buzzfor rolls a d8 Usage Die, with the result being a 1. Buzzfor’s Usage Die is now reduced to a d6. Later in the dungeon the group is besieged by a horde of undead. Buzzfor decides to summon a wreath of fire to destroy these monstrosities. The GM and the player agree that this is a Power of the Moon level spell. Buzzfor rolls two d6 Usage Die and takes the lower result, which is a 2. The Sorcerer’s endurance is slipping and his Usage die is now a d4. After a good night sleep, Buzzfor’s Usage Die is increased from d4 to d6. If Buzzfor doesn’t reduce his Usage Die through the day and gets another solid night of rest, he will be back to a full d8 Usage Die.
Inner Strength: Once per day if the Sorcerer has expended all their magical power, if they rest for an hour they can get a second wind, bringing their Usage Die back to a d4.
Power of the Sun (Power Level 1)
The sorcerer pulls forth the power of the sun and is able to cast simple spells. The sorcerer is able to wrap themselves in armor, deflect arrows, cure wounds, healing 1d8 HP, levitate off the ground, shoot out energy beams that deal 1d4/level points of damage, put a person into an enchanted sleep, blind a target, ensnare a target’s mind, making them a puppet for the sorcerer and the like.
As a rule of thumb treat Power of the Sun spells as 1st and 2nd level spells.
Power of the Moon (Power level 2)
The sorcerer taps into the power of the moon and casts powerful spells. The sorcerer can summon waves of flame on their enemy, dealing 1d6/level damage to all nearby targets, see in the dark, even magical, transform themselves or another into a different creature, conjure a bridge of light to walk across a gorge, fly, bring forth walls of fire, ice, or stone, or even heal grievous wounds for 3d8+3 hit points.
Power of the Moon spells are extremely taxing and drain the sorcerer quickly; roll two Usage Dice and take the lower of the two as your result.
As a rule of thumb treat Power of the Moon spells as 3rd and 4th level spells.
Power of the Eclipse (Power Level 3)
When the sun and moon overlap, true power is obtained. The sorcerer pulls energy from bot the sun and the moon and is able to cast truly powerful and dangerous spells. The sorcerer can touch a target, killing them instantly, cause a plague to ravage a village, topple the stone keep, bringing it crumbling to the ground, summon powerful elementals, summon an acidic cloud that melts all in a Nearby radius, and even teleport great distances.
Power of the Eclipse spells exhaust the sorcerer, do not roll the Usage Die, but automatically reduce it by one level.
As a rule of thumb treat Power of the Eclipse spells as 5th and 6th level spells.
Power of the Cosmos (Power Level 4)
The Power of the Cosmos are extremely powerful spells and not able to be cast at random and on a whim. These spells can only be cast by ritual and require a Rare Special Component, a Lesser Special Component, 2d100+100 gold, and take 2d4+6 hours to cast. See below for Rare and Lesser Special Componens.
Through the Power of the Cosmos the sorcerer is able to bring forth powerful earthquakes, utterly destroying the country side, completely resurrect a person from nothing, control the weather, bring forth meteors from the stars to crash down on an area, summon powerful demons, and even stop time itself.
Spells that are cast through a ritual can be stored in a ring or staff to be used at a later date. A sorcerer can only have one stored ritual at one time.
As rule of thumb treat Power of the Cosmos spells as 7th level and beyond.
|Rare Special Components|
|2||Tears of a baby|
|4||Demon toe nails|
|5||Bottled sun light|
|6||Eyes of a witch|
|7||Breath of a dying man|
|8||Petrified goat stomach|
|9||Head of a gorgon|
|11||Lock of hair from a princess|
|12||A magic item that will be consumed in the spell|
|Rare Special Components|
|1||Enchanted spider webs|
|2||Goblin eye balls|
|4||Feet of a bird of prey|
|7||Ruby worth 200gp|
|10||The broken sword of a fallen warrior|
|11||Blood of the sorcerer (lose 1d4 HP)|
|12||1 pound of worm infested, freshly dug earth|