This is the eighth, of a number of articles, that describe how to adopt an alternative magic system. As each article assumes that you are familiar with what has come before it, you may wish to start with “Farewell to Vancian Magic“, the first article in the series.
The kinds of changes discussed in this article aren’t practical without the benefit of a magical item database and a monster database. Before continuing, you may wish to look over the article on Creating Databases.
What We Have Already Done
We have already gone over some of the impact of adopting a new spell system:
- Determining daily spellcasting resources (mana), in the form of spell levels, spell slots, or spell energy.
- Determining how and when daily spellcasting resources are replenished.
- Identifying and adjusting spells that no longer function as intended under the new spell system.
But there are other impacts on the game that must be addressed.
Many monsters have spellcasting abilities. Often times, these spells are referenced (or even fully detailed) in the monster entry. Some monster entries include tactics, on a round-by-round basis, that list what spells are cast during combat.
Adopting a new spell system may necessitate a change to individual spells, making them more or less powerful than before. Any reference to these spells, in the monster entries, must be evaluated to see if updates to the entry need to be made to account for the changes made to those spells.
Scrolls, Potions, Wands, and Staves
In recent editions, these items follow very strict guidelines that make them easy to adjust to a new spell system. Scrolls always contain a normal spell, castable by one of the classes. Potions essentially have a similar spell bound up in it’s liquid. Wands contain a single spell that they can cast multiple times. Staves contain two or more spells that may be cast multiple times. If this is the case in your campaign, then you need only adjust the names to reflect any spells whose name may have changed.
If you are running a more traditional game, you may have scrolls and potions that do not map to any known spell (or differ from the associated spell). Wands and staves may not have such a direct relationship either. You must then evaluate each item individually to determine if its effects should be altered to account for recent changes you’ve made to the spell system.
Other Magical Items
Armor, Weapons, Rings, Rods, and Wonderous Items similarly may have spell effects that must be updated to account for changes in spells. However, there are also a number of items that may need to be fundamentally altered to account for the more basic changes made to the spell system.
- Rings of Wizardry enhance the number of spells that may be memorized per day.
- Luck Blade (sword) and Ring of Wishes both provide wishes.
- Broom of Flying, Carpet of Flying, Figurine of Wonderous Power (Ebony Fly), Winged Boots, and Boots of Levitation allow the character to fly/levitate.
- Medallion of ESP allows the wearer to read minds.
- Periapt of proof Against Poison offers immunity to poison.
That is just a short list, with only a handful of examples of items that would need to be adjusted or removed if you followed the suggestions in the previous post. It will be necessary to go through all the magical items to determine, on a case by case basis, if an item needs to be altered (or removed) based on whatever changes you have made to the spell system.