This is the sixth, 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 next few articles relate to making wholesale changes to the spells. These kinds of changes aren’t practical without the benefit of a spell database. Before continuing, you may wish to look over the article on Creating Databases.

Spell Changes

Spells have gone through amazingly little change since first edition. It’s true that some of the original spells have been removed (in most cases I agree with these decisions). However, of those that remain, most of the spells retain their original level and very few spells have had any change whatsoever made to their descriptions.

A great many spells have been added over the years, but (other than removing those that were thought to be unbalancing) there has been very little change to existing spells… with one exception.

New Spell Names

Numerous spells have had their name changed. Some were changed for legal reasons (to retain the rights to the NPC name, an intellectual property, while making the spell available for third party use), while others were changed simply on a whim.

I greatly prefer the original names over the new ones (especially the spells named after NPCs). Maybe this is because those are the names I am familiar with and the ones I remember from when I first started playing the game. But I think it is more than that. I believe that the original names had more flair and added a certain flavor to the game.

Changing Them Back

It’s easy enough to write in the book. You could simply cross out the new name and write in the old name. Personally, I just can’t bring myself to write in a book, so making these sorts of changes in a database appeals to me for that reason alone. However, The title of each spell entry is not the only place these changes were made. The text of the spell descriptions may reference the spell name of that entry’s spell as well as other spells. In addition, spell names are referenced throughout various monster and magical item descriptions, as well as other places throughout the rules. By maintaining various databases and a custom player’s handbook, it is a simple matter to do a global search and replace (I actually just search and manually replace to ensure that case and context are appropriate in each instance).

Hereafter, I have put together a list of spells whose names have been changed. I’m sure the list is not complete but it should be the vast majority. For clarity, I have separated the list into four parts: NPC Spells, Ability Spells, Combined Spells (where two spells were combined into a single spell), and Other Changes.

If you see something I missed, please post it in a comment and I will add it to the list.

NPC Spells

Thirteen NPCs have been immortalized through their namesake spells: Bigby, Drawmij, Evard, Leomund, Melf, Mordenkainen, Nystul, Otiluke, Otto, Rary, Serten, Tasha, and Tenser. All of these were characters from Gary Gygax’s Greyhawk campaign. Most were Gary’s own characters, that he played when someone else DM’d, while the others belonged to friends or family. Drawmij, for instance, is Jim Ward spelled backwards. I assume that Evard is an anagram for Dave R, but I don’t know who that would be (the “R” doesn’t seem to match any of the Daves I am familiar with who were associated with the Greyhawk game: David Lance Arneson, David C. Sutherland III, or David A. Trampier). The last name that stands out, at least for me, is Melf (the character was a Male Elf), who played a significant role in the 2nd book of the Gord the Rogue series: Artifact of Evil.

New NameOriginal Name
Clenched FistBigby’s Clenched Fist
Crushing HandBigby’s Crushing Hand
Forceful HandBigby’s Forceful Hand
Grasping HandBigby’s Grasping Hand
Interposing HandBigby’s Interposing Hand
Instant SummonsDrawmij’s Instant Summons
Black TentaclesEvard’s Black Tentacles
Secret ChestLeomund’s Secret Chest
Secure ShelterLeomund’s Secure Shelter
Tiny HutLeomund’s Tiny Hut
Phantom TrapLeomund’s Trap
Acid ArrowMelf’s Acid Arrow
Mage’s DisjunctionMordenkainen’s Disjunction
Mage’s Faithful HoundMordenkainen’s Faithful Hound
Mage’s LucubrationMordenkainen’s Lucubration
Mage’s Magnificent MansionMordenkainen’s Magnificent Mansion
Mage’s Private SanctumMordenkainen’s Private Sanctum
Mage’s SwordMordenkainen’s Sword
Magic AuraNystul’s Magic Aura
Freezing SphereOtiluke’s Freezing Sphere
Resilient SphereOtiluke’s Resilient Sphere
Telekinetic SphereOtiluke’s Telekinetic Sphere
Irresistible DanceOtto’s Irresistible Dance
Mnemonic EnhancerRary’s Mnemonic Enhancer
Spell ImmunitySerten’s Spell Immunity
Spell Immunity, GreaterSerten’s Spell Immunity, Greater
Hideous LaughterTasha’s Hideous Laughter
Floating DiscTenser’s Floating Disc
TransformationTenser’s Transformation

Ability Spells

If memory serves, the listed “original names” are only implied, with Strength being the only ability spell that existed before these others appeared. But if Bull’s Strength is to be changed back to Strength, the others should be as well (for consistency). Therefore, the other spells are listed as being “original” as well, even though they never actually existed.

I can see why some people might like these spell names as they add extra flavor. Personally (and I have no idea why), these new names really annoy me.

New NameOriginal Name
Bull’s StrengthStrength
Bull’s Strength, MassStrength, Mass
Fox’s CunningIntelligence
Fox’s Cunning, MassIntelligence, Mass
Owl’s WisdomWisdom
Owl’s Wisdom, MassWisdom, Mass
Cat’s GraceDexterity
Cat’s Grace, MassDexterity, Mass
Bear’s EnduranceConstitution
Bear’s Endurance, MassConstitution, Mass
Eagle’s SplendorCharisma
Eagle’s Splendor, MassCharisma, Mass

Combined Spells

In a Vancian spell system, it is very desirable to combine these spells like this. But since I don’t require wizards to memorize spells, combining them offers no benefit.

Note that Control Water is actually an excellent replacement for Raise/Lower Water. I list it here just for completeness.

New NameOriginal Name
Control WaterLower Water
Control WaterRaise Water
Detect Animals or PlantsLocate Animals
Detect Animals or PlantsLocate Plants
Remove Blindness/DeafnessCure Blindness
Remove Blindness/DeafnessCure Deafness

Other Changes

New NameOriginal Name
Arcane EyeWizard Eye
Arcane LockWizard Lock
Arcane MarkWizard Mark
Arcane SightWizard Sight
Arcane Sight, GreaterWizard Sight, Greater
Delay PoisonSlow Poison
Detect ThoughtsESP
Ghost SoundAudible Glamor
Giant VerminGiant Insect
Magic Circle Against ChaosProtection from Chaos, 10′ Radius
Magic Circle Against EvilProtection from Evil, 10′ Radius
Magic Circle Against GoodProtection from Good, 10′ Radius
Magic Circle Against LawProtection from Law, 10′ Radius
Major ImageSpectral Force
Minor ImagePhantasmal Force, Improved
Repel VerminRepel Insects
See InvisibilityDetect Invisibility
Silent ImagePhantasmal Force
Spiritual WeaponSpiritual Hammer
Summon Monster IMonster Summoning I
Summon Monster IIMonster Summoning II
Summon Monster IIIMonster Summoning III
Summon Monster IVMonster Summoning IV
Summon Monster IXMonster Summoning IX
Summon Monster VMonster Summoning V
Summon Monster VIMonster Summoning VI
Summon Monster VIIMonster Summoning VII
Summon Monster VIIIMonster Summoning VIII