When the disaster happened, all the little spells and cantrips that you had learned over your time at the University were swept away. In their place was crammed one giant spell, resonant with your personality and abilities but somewhat inflexible in use. What this spell does is entirely up to you, but to help you out, here's some guidelines.

Choose Three Traits

Each spell is summed up by three short statements you write yourself. One of them defines the spell's physical expression, one of them defines the spell's effect, and the last defines the spell's limitations. Here are three example spells:

Toasting Fork

Expression: A sharp fork made of fire.

Effect: Burns things that it touches.

Limitation: Can only affect things in arm's reach.

Velociraptor Stampede

Expression: Creates a wave of tiny velociraptors.

Effect: Dozens of sharp claws and teeth!

Limitation: Hard to control, and hungry.

Force Barrier

Expression: Creates a slightly translucent dome of force.

Effect: A field impervious to physical effects.

Limitation: Traps those inside it for a while.


People see, smell, or hear something when you cast your spell; what is it? How does it manifest? This may have some effect on applicability - a fireball might have trouble with water creatures, whereas a swarm of bugs would have problems with an impassable crevice. Of course lateral thinking can often find a way around these problems.


This is what you want the spell to do. Does it hurt someone, or make you harder to hurt? Does it transport you, feed you, strengthen you? This is pretty much the most important thing for us GMs, as it gives us the intent of the spell. This can often be pretty simple, but if you want your spell to do something cool and weird do let us know.


Finally, what holds your spell back? An interesting limitation can be great fun to work with and around, so trust us to make sure your limitation doesn't hold you back too much. The limitation should be a logical outgrowth of the other two properties; by defining what your spell can do, you ought to have some ideas about what it can't.

The Limits of Magic

There are some things magic just can't do; for one thing, arcane energies don't tend to play nice with people's brains, and so mind control, mood control, mind reading and similar tricks are out. Time travel is so mind-bogglingly complex that even theoretical equations are highly shaky, so that's beyond your abilities. Metamagical abilities beyond linking mages are outside the province of anything except great rituals, so no antimagic fields or similar magical weirdness.

Additionally, there are limits to what one person can do on their own: by forming links (see below) a spell's effects can be greatly increased, as follows:

1 person: ruin someone's day, potentially permanently. Magic small quantities food and water out of the air. Spread sickness to a small group. Raise a lumbering zombie.

2 people: deal significant harm to a big monster. Create a banquet of foods never seen before. Infect an entire district with a plague. Raise some wraiths to do your bidding.

3 people: deal significant harm to a gargantuan monster or city district. Create a meal so wondrous it moves the most experienced gourmand to tears. Spread your horrible sickness across a nation. Bring the dead together into a huge necromantic abomination.


Although one person's magic is limited by the power they can bring to bear and the traits of their spell, far greater magic is possible by forming an arcane link with another mage. This ritual is exhausting and cannot be performed repeatedly in a small period of time (OC: you can only link yourself to other people once per session), but it pays great dividends.

Once joined by the ritual, the two mages can pool their magic to form a unique spell that combines elements of both of their spells and has far greater power than a single mage's spell. What form this hybrid spell takes can be hard to predict to begin with, though.

For example, a combination of Toasting Fork and Velociraptor Stampede above could result in a melee weapon that's a swirling mass of burning claws and teeth, or instead a hungry and hard to control swarm of fire sprites. Once it's been cast by that group, it is fixed and will always have that effect.

A linked pair can then bring in one more person, after sufficient time to rest. This brings them up to the greatest level of power, and this trinity acting together can accomplish great things. This group will now have access to three 1st-order spells, three 2nd-order spells, and one 3rd-order spell.

For example, the mage with Force Barrier joins with the earlier pairing. The group now has:

  • The normal versions of Force Barrier, Velociraptor Stampede and Toasting Fork.
  • A hybrid of Force Barrier and Velociraptor Stampede - a swarm of big lizards impervious to physical effects that corral people between them.
  • A hybrid of Force Barrier and Toasting Fork - an expanding, impervious wall of flames.
  • A hybrid of Toasting Fork and Velociraptor Stampede - a greatsword of claws and fire.
  • A hybrid of all three spells - A giant ambulatory dinosaur made of fire that traps the mages safe inside it as it rampages.

The link lasts for as long as you want, although if you no longer want to be part of your current group you can break the arcane link at any time. If you only joined that group recently, however, you may have to wait a while before joining another. Additionally, if a pair has only recently been formed, you will have to wait for their link to stabilise before you can join to form a trinity.

Casting Magic

Casting any spell requires you to spend some time chanting a phrase specific to the spell, of at least ten syllables. You can choose whatever you like for this, but remember that you will have to say it every time you cast your spell. When creating a new spell, a new, longer phrase can be made, even if that's just by stringing together the two original phrases.

Depending on the content of the spell, we may also assign it certain keywords. For example, suitable destructive spells may get the 'Obliterate' tag, meaning anyone it's cast at is grievously injured and probably killed. Thankfully, in the University this just means a short journey back from the Infirmary and probably House Point loss from the offender. Other calls can be found on the Game Logistics page.

Finally, you will have a limited number of uses of your spell per session. More complex or destructive spells may get less uses, while more small-scale or simple spells may get more. Linked spells will have their own casting limit, so that even if you have no more uses of your own spell left you can still help those you've formed a link with. In order to facilitate more impressive magical battles, however, the dueling ring in the main hall of the University has special enchantments on it such that duelists will only use up one use of their spells over the course of the duel, no matter what flashy effects they pull off.

Duration of Magical Effects

Unless it has been caged in enchanted items, forced to divert its power down specific channels, magic tends to be a transient thing. It works whatever miracle it was brought about to perform, and then fades away. This is especially true for the spell that you will find yourself in possession of. While those that summon fireballs or lightning may never notice, those that turn themselves into diamond or create transdimensional portals will find that those effects have a short lifespan, of the order of about 10 minutes or so. This isn't exact, and varies from spell to spell, but that's the magnitude of time you'll have to work with.

Summoning Spells

Perhaps you want your spell to summon a creature or object to you, or create one out of thin air. If you always want to summon or create the same thing, that's fine. If you want the resulting thing to differ, though, here are your rough options;

  • The thing you summon is random and part of a large set such as “chairs” or “dinosaurs” or “liquids”.
  • The thing you summon is set by you performing a certain action, e.g. writing your name on a type of stone or dropping some of your blood into the type of liquid desired. You can only have one thing 'set' at a time.

Essentially, “I summon a random dinosaur” is fine, but “I might summon a Velociraptor, T. rex, or Diplodocus” isn't. “I teleport to me the last thing I wrote my name on” is fine, but “I teleport to me anything I've written my name on in the past” isn't.

Magic Items

Through complex rituals, mages are able to instill some of their power into a physical object, creating an Artefact. These come in three distinct categories:


From the Wand of the Mystical Marvello to the sword of Cedric the Crusader, implements can be a great aid to a mage. By casting a spell through the implement, the implement adds its own trait to the spell, adding to the things the spell does. For example, if one were to use the legendary Fire-Ruby Scepter, which has the “Destructive Inferno” trait, your rock projectiles will now be magma fireballs, while someone else's teleport could now unleash a burst of flames wherever the user teleports to.

Multiple implements can be used in the same casting by an arcane link, but this is highly dangerous and unpredictable.


While Implements augment a mage's spellcasting, Artifacts provide benefits in other areas. They could be the Sky-Cleaving Wings of Mistroclus the Magnificent, allowing you to fly on gleaming wings of silver fire, or the Coral-Hearted Gem, giving whoever holds it the ability to breathe underwater. Generally, these will expand your capabilities, without empowering you magical abilities.

Unstable Enchantments

When a mage wants to store a powerful effect but doesn't have the time to go through the artefact creation ritual, they sometimes create an unstable enchantment instead. These take the form of small gems, with cut and colour determining the kind of spell stored. Crushing this gem frees the enchantment, letting it work its effect under the control of the one who broke the gem.

magic.txt · Last modified: 2011/04/18 11:58 by jamesi
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