Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Goblins & Greatswords: 1st Order Spells of Mind

One of the parts of my fantasy heartbreaker that I'm most excited about is the selection of spells for magic-user and cleric characters.  As stated before, I'm creating lists for four different types of spells: Mind, Matter, Divine, and Nature.  One of my design goals is to make these spells interesting and useful while abolishing, or at least vastly reducing, the role of magic as combat damage dealer.

These spells should be easily transplantable into B/X or another old school D&D or retroclone game, either as replacements for the by-the-book spell lists or as supplemental material.

Naturally, some spells are nearly identical to long-familiar ones.  Most have been tweaked at least a little, and some are heavily altered or entirely new.  Without further ado, here are the list and descriptions for the Spells of Mind of the first order.

  1. Charm Person
  2. Decipher*
  3. Endure
  4. Figment
  5. Glamour
  6. Minor Transposition
  7. Sleep*
  8. Thought Projection
  9. Unseen Servant
  10. Vocal Projection
Charm Person

Range: 60'       Duration: Special

This spell causes the target to view the caster as its best friend if a saving throw vs. spells is failed. A charmed creature will seek to protect the caster from harm and will obey most commands if they are given in a language it can understand. It will resist commands to do things which are against its nature. For instance, a very peaceful person or creature won't be eager to harm others even if its “friend” tells it to, and may argue with the caster, though it would fight to protect the caster from imminent harm. A creature will also generally resist harming any of its real friends and allies. Just because the caster is its new best friend doesn't mean it immediately forgets its previous loyalties. Forcing a charmed creature to act against its nature or conscience grants it another saving throw to escape the effect.

Remember also that charmed creatures don't change their personalities. A charmed ogre is still an uncouth brute and a charmed evil priest is still cruel and devoted to his evil god. They also will not necessarily like the caster's other companions, though they will grudgingly coexist and cooperate with them if the caster so orders.


Range: Caster only      Duration: 2 turns

This spell enables the caster to read unfamiliar languages, codes, and ciphers.  Each turn, the caster may read about 10 pages or skim as many as 30.

The reversed spell, Encrypt, makes a single written work appear to be unintelligible gibberish for a duration of 1 day.


Range: Caster only      Duration: 6 turns

With this spell, the caster becomes resistant to pain and discomfort. Damage from all attacks is reduced by 1 point. Ongoing effects, such as being exposed to open flames, are reduced by 1 point per round. The caster is still aware of sensations which would otherwise be painful, but is not distracted by them. While under the effect, the caster's spells may not be disrupted by attacks.


Range: 60'      Duration: Concentration

This spell creates an illusion affecting one of the five primary senses – sight, hearing, smell, taste, or touch. The illusion must fit within a 20' x 20' x 20' cube entirely within the spell's range. The spell cannot cause illusory harm or damage.


Range: Touch      Duration: 6 turns

The caster may change his or her own appearance or that of a creature touched, including all equipment carried. The new appearance must be of the same general shape, but up to 50% larger or smaller. The appearance of a specific individual may not be taken. Thus, a human could appear to be a dwarf or an orc, a horse may appear to be a bear or a deer, an unarmored mage could look like a warrior in plate or vice versa. Note that actual size and shape do not change, only the perceptions of observers, and that the target's voice, scent, and other non-visual details are not altered. An unwilling target is not affected.

Minor Transposition

Range: 60'      Duration: Instantaneous

With this spell, an item in the caster's possession instantly trades places with a chosen item within range. The items to be affected must be approximately the same weight, up to a maximum of 10 pounds. If the item to be swapped is held or worn by another person or creature, a saving throw vs. spells is allowed to resist the effect.


Range: 120'     Duration: 2 turns

When this spell is cast, 2d8 Hit Dice of creatures with 4 HD or less in a 20' square area are put to sleep. Only base Hit Dice are counted; pluses or minuses are not. The spell affects creatures with the lowest Hit Dice first. Sleeping creatures may only be awakened by physical force, such as a slap or kick; loud noises or cold water will not wake them. A sleeping creature may be automatically slain by a blow from any weapon.

If the spell is cast on creatures in combat or otherwise highly alert, a saving throw vs. spells may be made to resist. Otherwise, no save is allowed.

The reversed spell, Awaken, causes any and all sleeping creatures within the 20' square area of effect to wake in 1 round from natural or magical sleep.

Thought Projection

Range: 120'      Duration: 1 turn

With this spell, the caster may project thoughts directly into the mind of another creature within range. The creature will hear the thoughts in the caster's voice, even if it has never heard him or her speak before, but always in a language the creature understands. This communication is one-way only; the creature may not send responses. The spell does not compel the creature to act in any way; it simply conveys messages.

The recipient of the message must be a living creature able to understand verbal communication. Constructs, the undead, and most plants and animals are unaffected.

Unseen Servant

Range: 30'       Duration: 6 turns

This spell creates a weak telekinetic force within the spell's range which may be used to manipulate small objects weighing no more than 10 pounds. The caster may consciously direct the force, or may set it to perform a simple repetitive action such as stirring or sweeping. Very rapid actions such as fighting with a weapon, and those requiring delicate touch such as writing with a quill or picking a lock with thieves' tools, are beyond the capability of the spell, even if the caster possesses the expertise to perform them with his or her own hands.

Vocal Projection

Range: 120'      Duration: 2 turns

By means of this spell, the caster may cause his or her voice to emanate from any point within range. Any sound which the caster could normally make with his or her mouth and vocal cords may be projected, including speech, singing, whistles, humming, growling, grunting, whispers, shouts, etc. 

Notes on Illusions

Some spells of Mind create illusions which affect one or more senses. Most illusions have a visual component, but some may be entirely of sound, smell, or touch (including sensations of heat or cold.)

Illusions may not be disbelieved simply because a player says so or expresses skepticism. Instead, the character must interact with the illusion as if he or she disbelieves it, and bear the consequences if he or she is mistaken. For instance, a character who disbelieves the illusion of an angry dragon might walk up and touch it. One who disbelieves an illusion of a bottomless pit may step into it. Clever players may ask questions of the GM about an illusion to discover evidence of its unreality. Often an illusion will lack one or more of the basic senses, such as sound, smell, or touch. A suspicious player might ask, for example, if there is any smell accompanying an illusionary monster. It is always up to the player to decide how to act on that information, however.

Some illusions simulate creatures, traps, or other things which would cause injury or death. If an illusionary monster is created, it has an Armor Class of 10, and makes combat rolls as if it had a Combat Rating equal to the caster's level and inflicts illusionary damage with the same limit as a real creature of the same type. A character “attacked” by such an illusion may make a save vs. spells to realize that it is not real. If the save is failed, the character will believe that he or she has been hurt or killed, but the effects disappear in 1d4 turns.



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    1. I would imagine you're not the only one who might wonder why I want to take away the magic-user's big guns. This probably deserves its own blog post...