Further Design Thoughts on Spells for The Sorcerer Class of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, Updated Rules, and Some New Art

Last week I posted the new spellcasting rules for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth.

After the initial conversations with my wife and her thoughts/concerns regarding the original alternative magic system I had written for the Sorcerer class, I took a step back and asked myself a few questions.

  1. What am I trying to accomplish here?
  2. Is what I’ve written fun?
  3. Is there a type of player who wouldn’t find this fun?
  4. Does this really add anything and really do what I’m wanting it to?

I figured it would be fun to go through this on my blog for those who are interested

Q1- What am I trying to accomplish here?

A1- To capture the feel of Thundarr the Barbarian, Pirates of Dark Water (and the like) with a sprinkle of Mad Max: Fury Road. I wanted to do this with as little “rules” as possible (hence why I used The Black Hack, 1e). I wanted the magic in it to be free flow and crazy as it is in Thundarr the Barbarian. I didn’t want it to be limited to a spell list and spells per day (although the standard spell rules from TBH were included in the book for those that didn’t want to use the alternative casting).

Q2- Is what I’ve written fun?

A2- I’ve been running various games of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth for over a year now and several people have had fun with the alternative casting rules. I watched as my players came up with cool and fun ways to use the spells on the fly… but something was biting at the back of my brain (see below).

Q3- Is there a type of player who wouldn’t find this fun?

A3- Absolutely. What I noticed is players didn’t like coming up with spells on their own all the time, or it would just fall into a “I want to damage them” or “I want to protect myself”… Some players would throw some utilitarian or healing style spells, but not as often as the damage/protect wash, rinse, repeat avenue.

Q4- Does this really add anything and really do what I’m wanting it to?

A4- Once I stepped back and really looked at it, I don’t think it did. I think it wasn’t as clearly written as I had hoped, gave some players decision paralysis, and bogged down play- which is precisely what I DON’T want.

I decided to design spells so they were in line with abilities and weapon damage of other classes, scaling only slightly as the Sorcerer gains levels. Some spells give an added benefit as the sacrifice of another- duration is in rounds or turns (a few are in hours), but I nixed effects that lasted days, hours, weeks, etc.

My goal was to make magic as close to Thundarr as possible. I didn’t want to do spells per day; you don’t see Ariel saying, “Hold on Thundarr! I can’t ride through the night because I’m out of spells.” However, based on the experiences I got from playtesting- I didn’t want to do free form either.

I went through my notes of Thundarr and wrote out spells that from the show (Light Bridges, anyone?). I also decided that detecting magic, danger, or Stupendous Science should be an innate ability rather than a spell.

Finally I give a little advice/thought to creating new schools of magic.

The spells have been cleaned up and changed since I posted last week and I added a new school of magic, Stupendous Science.

Status Update

Matt Hildebrand is working hard on the layout of the book! We are nearly done tightening it up and then I’ll start getting the rest of the art done! Looking forward to this being out!

Here’s three new pieces by the sexy and amazing Kelvin Green as well!

The adventurer’s fight the Terrible Bear Monster
The adventurer’s battle a crazed mutant raider in the Devastator- a nasty piece of Stupendous Science!
Behold as the moon was destroyed by the collision of an alien planetoid!

Here is a PDF version of this as I know WordPress makes tables look like ass in the blog format.

Magic System

Art by Matthew Adams for Barbarians of the Ruined Earth

There are 10 “schools” of magic that Sorcerers harness to cast spells.  These spells allow the Sorcerer to manipulate, harm or hinder their foes, heal themselves or their allies, or even alter themselves with Stupendous Science!  Each “school” contains three spells. Starting at 1st level, a Sorcerer begins play knowing four schools and one spell from each (player’s choice).  Every level a Sorcerer chooses a new spell from a school they already know.   Every third level the Sorcerer learns a new school and gains one of its spells.  For Example:  A 10th level Sorcerer has mastered 7 of the 10 schools of magic and knows 17 of the 30 spells.   

A Sorcerer can cast any spell they know by succeeding on an Intelligence Save.  If the roll fails, they are unable to harness the magical energies necessary to use magic.  If the Sorcerer rolls a 20 on their Intelligence test, they lose the ability to cast spells for 24 hours.  Sorcerers can attempt to cast any spell they do not know, but the Intelligence roll is made with Disadvantage.  If a 20 is rolled when casting an unknown spell, it backfires disastrously, causing harm to the Sorcerer and loss of the ability to cast spells for 1d3 days.  Note that some spells may require an additional roll (as per the spell’s description) to function properly. 

Note on Magic: Players should feel free to ignore the spell descriptions, if they choose, and make up their own descriptions of how the spell manifests.  Magic in Barbarians of the Ruined Earth is zany and crazy; it’s an 80’s infused-kaleidoscope powered by heavy metal.  It’s an illuminated disco dance floor pulsing to the rhythm of fantastical machinery.  It’s inappropriate leather and spandex mixed with maniacal laughter and roars of fury.  It’s what you make it- so have a blast!

Creating New Schools and Spells: GM’s should feel free to create new schools and spells of magic!  Perhaps a long-forgotten school of magic is discovered in a brittle old book, and study and experimentation will unlock its secrets.  Look at the spells listed below as a guideline.  Damage should be comparable to weapon damage of the other classes while durations should be in rounds, turns, or hours- not days, weeks, or years.  Damage and duration should only increase slightly as the Sorcerer gains levels.  In Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, Sorcerer’s can cast spells more freely than standard OSR rules, so attention must be paid to not make these them overly powerful. 

Sorcerer Ability:

Detect: The Sorcerer chooses to detect magic, Stupendous Science, or danger at the time of casting.  Everything Nearby that is considered that category glows.  Duration: 5 minutes.  If the Sorcerer studies the object for 10 minutes, it is identified for what it is and how it functions. 

Obtained Spell
  Magical Ally: The Sorcerer summons an ally composed completely of magic.  The creature’s appearance is as Sorcerer desires.  These creatures have 1 HP per Sorcerer level and deal 1d6 damage.  Increase to 2 HP, 1 RP, and 1d8 damage when Sorcerer reaches 5th level.  A Sorcerer can summon a number of these allies equal to their level (must be cast multiple times).  These creatures are not intelligent and obey simple commands.  They do not have any special abilities. Duration: Lasts until killed. 
  Dispel Magic: The Sorcerer dampens a Nearby Arcane spell effect, be it a piece of Stupendous Science, magical item, or another Sorcerer or Death Priest’s spell.  If cast on Sorcerers and Death Priests, but they get to roll a WIS save with Advantage to avoid the effects.  If the Sorcerer or Death Priest has more HD than the caster, they are immune to this effect.  This is also applicable to magic items or pieces of Stupendous Science that are more powerful than the Sorcerer (GM’s decision).  Duration: 1d4 hours. 
  Animate Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to imbue a Nearby object with motion and simple intelligence.  Duration: 10 minutes.
Obtained Spell
  Plague: Sorcerer makes a Wisdom test against all Nearby targets.  If successful, targets suffer 1d4 damage per round for the next 1d6 rounds (ignores armor).  Targets are covered in boils, sores, and have a clammy, pallid appearance. 
  Confusion: The Sorcerer reaches into the mind of a target, befuddling them for 1d4 rounds. Each time the affected target attempts to act they must roll 1d8: 1-4) Do nothing; 5) Act normally; 6) Attack ally; 7) Flee for 1d4 rounds (do not roll during this time); 8) Attack self.
  Animate Dead: The Sorcerer uses dark magics to summon forth 1d4 Skeletons/Zombies with 2 HD each, from nearby bodies.  These undead remain until destroyed or banished.  The Sorcerer cannot summon any more undead until all current Skeletons/Zombies have been slain or banished. 
Obtained Spell
  Charm: The Sorcerer uses magic to beguile a Nearby target.  The target obeys any command of the Sorcerer, If the Sorcerer gives a command that would directly result in the target’s death or is out of their character, the Sorcerer must succeed a WIS test (with Disadvantage).  The Sorcerer must pass a Wisdom test each turn to see if the effect lasts.
  Sleep: The Sorcerer places a 1d3 targets in a Nearby radius in a magical sleep.  Targets with 2 HD or more are immune to this effect.   At 5th level the Sorcerer can affect 2d4 targets in a Nearby radius.  At 10th level the spell can affect creatures with 4 HD or less. Duration: Number of rounds equal to Sorcerer’s level.  Loud noises can arouse affected targets.
  Hold Person: The Sorcerer uses magic to paralyze 1d6 Nearby targets. After the first round, the Sorcerer must test their Wisdom each round to see if the effect lasts.  Targets with 6 HD or less are immune. 
Obtained Spell
  Stunning Orbs: The Sorcerer conjures 1d4 balls of light that can be directed at Nearby targets.  The Sorcerer must succeed a DEX test to hit the target.  If successful, the target is stunned for 1d4 rounds.  Targets of 3HD or more are immune to this effect.  
  Blast: The Sorcerer release a bolt of energy at a target up to Distant range for 1d6+1 damage (ignoring armor).  The Sorcerer must succeed a DEX test to hit the target(s).  When the Sorcerer reaches 5th and 7th level they gain an additional bolt.  These bolts of energy can be released at one or separate targets.  A Sorcerer can forgo multiple blasts by releasing a wave of energy that hits all targets for 1d8 damage in a Nearby radius (no attack roll necessary).
  Whirlwind: The Sorcerer conjures a whirlwind which engulfs up to three targets (must be standing next to one another).  At the start of the next round the whirlwind flings them Nearby distance, stunning them for 1 round and dealing 1d6 damage.  A Sorcerer can concentrate increasing the effects of the of the spell each round for three rounds.  Second round: stunned for 2 rounds and suffer 1d8 damage.  Third round: stunned for 3 rounds and suffer 1d10 damage. 
Obtained Spell
  Invisibility: The Sorcerer uses magic to bend reality and make themselves or a touched creature invisible.  This does not mask sounds or hide tracks made.  Duration: Lasts until the target attacks or the Sorcerer dispels the effect. 
  Silence: Magical silence covering everything Nearby to a target.  Duration: 1 hour.
  Darkness: The Sorcerer release an inky cloud of smoke covering a Nearby area that blocks all types of vision (all melee attacks suffer Disadvantage and ranged attacks miss automatically).  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
Obtained Spell
  Light Bridge: The Sorcerer creates a bright golden bridge of pure light that extends from the caster’s feet up to the Sorcerer’s level x 30’ away.  The bridge can handle up to an automobile in weight.  Duration: The bridge remains for 10 minutes per Sorcerer level or the Sorcerer cancels the effect. 
  Web: The Sorcerer’s hands release a web that grows to encompass a Nearby area.  Web stops movement.  Must make a STR test (Disadvantage) to cut it or burn it to break free.  If freed, movement is reduced to one quarter of normal.  Target must make a new test each round (or Luck roll for NPCs) to remain free.  Test Wisdom each hour to see if the effect lasts. 
  Float: The Sorcerer touches a target (including self?), granting them the ability to float down from great heights (roughly 60’) and land on the ground safely.  The distance is increased to 150ft when the Sorcerer reaches 5th level and the Sorcerer can cast this on all Nearby allies (and objects?) .  Duration: 10 minutes.
Obtained Spell
  Force Field: The Sorcerer conjures a protective bubble that encases them.  The bubble has 1 HP per level.  The bubble must be destroyed before the Sorcerer takes further damage.  This sorcerer can still cast spells while in the bubble, but not physically attack or use their staff.  At 5th level the Sorcerer can cast this spell on an ally and the bubble has 2 HP per Sorcerer level.  Duration: Lasts until consumed.
  Sorcerer’s Aid: All Nearby allies defend against attacks with Advantage.  Duration: 1d4 rounds.
  Wall of Fire/Ice/Stone/Energy: The Sorcerer summons a wall that encompasses a Nearby area.  Duration: 10 minutes (see description).  Choose type of wall below: Fire: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d6 fire damage per round until they get further away.  Running through the flames results in an extra 1d6 damage. Frost: Targets that are within 5’ of the wall take 1d4 frost damage per round until they get further away.  Targets become frozen and can only take a partial action (either move or attack) per round while near the wall and an additional round after.  Running through the frost results in an extra 1d4 damage. Stone: Thick stone wall bars passage.  The wall is 10’ tall and will only crumble if 50 points of damage has been done to it.  Energy: Yellow swirling energy bars passage and will even block magical attacks and effects.  
Obtained Spell
  Cure Wounds: The Sorcerer heals a Nearby living target for 1 HD of hit points.  At 5th level this increases to 2 HD of hit points. 
  Cure Disease: The Sorcerer releases a wave of healing energy at a Nearby target, removing a single disease from them.
  Neutralize Poison: Energy flows from the Sorcerer, encasing a target for just a moment, removing any poison from a Nearby target or making them immune to poison for 10 minutes (Sorcerer’s choice).
Stupendous Science
Obtained Spell
  Conjure Device: The Sorcerer can create small items such as chairs, melee and ranged weapons, helmets that allow a person to breathe underwater, even laser pistols, or a small hoversled that holds up to two people (GM has final arbitration on what can be created).  All these items are created by magic and do not actually have inner working pieces.  A Sorcerer cannot have more than three devices created at one time.  At 7th level a Sorcerer cannot have more than five devices created at one time.  Duration: 1 hour or if the Sorcerer is knocked unconscious/killed.    A Sorcerer can opt to create a single permanent device.  If they do so, they cannot use this spell again for one week.  
  Repair Technology: The Sorcerer can use magic to repair small damaged pieces of technology/machinery (broken laser weaponry, cell phones, etc.) which are repaired instantly.  Robots are healed for 1 HD of hit points.  At 5th level the Sorcerer can heal Robots for 2 HD of hit points.  Additionally, the Sorcerer can use magic to repair more complicated piece of a technology/machinery (factory equipment, vehicles up to a two-person helicopter, etc.). 
  Augment: The Sorcerer uses magic to fuse cyberware (pg XX) to their body (or another person or creature).  This process is less risky and invasive than the unsanitary surgical conditions in the Ruined Earth and there is no pain or recovery time involved.  If the Sorcerer fails their spellcasting roll, they cannot attempt to augment that piece of cyberware again.    
Obtained Spell
  Mist Form: The Sorcerer can transform into mist and float around, up to 50’ high, and back, at will.  While in this form the Sorcerer can move through cracks, keyholes, etc.  They move slowly, roughly 10’ per round.  Only magical attacks can harm the Sorcerer while in this form.  The Sorcerer cannot communicate, manipulate or interact with objects, or use magic while in this form.  Duration: 1 minute per Sorcerer level.
  Morph Object: The Sorcerer uses magic to transform a mundane object (or weak Stupendous Science items) into something else.  For example, an enemy’s laser pistol can be turned into a stick or a metal girder transformed into manacles that bind a target.   The effect is permanent and cannot be reversed. 
  Change Shape:  The Sorcerer transforms themselves or a willing target into another creature of equal or less HD.  The target gains all abilities of the new form.  At 7th level the Sorcerer can transform an unwilling target.  Duration: 1 hour per Sorcerer level. 

About wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn. View all posts by wrathofzombie

4 responses to “Further Design Thoughts on Spells for The Sorcerer Class of Barbarians of the Ruined Earth, Updated Rules, and Some New Art

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