Matrix Spell Casting
Tim Dugger ©2002
Jamie Revell for The Guild Companion
Fire and Forget is the most common method of describing the magic system used in the
OGL 3.x rules. The concept that a spell caster can automatically cast any spell he has prepared with no
chance of failure, or disastrous result to himself or those around him seems completely foreign to
me. My own personal belief says that magic is a mysterious and dangerous thing to attempt to control, and while
spells are mostly nothing more than codified methods of utilizing this magic, there should still
be some element of danger inherent in the use of it. The following rules correct what I believe to
be an error on the part of the designers of the OGL 3.x rules. It brings back that element of danger, and extends
what magic users are capable of without making the unbalanced compared with the rest of the game.
What is magic - Magic is made up of several parts. The first being
mana, and the next being the spell matrix. A spell caster casts a spell first by
creating the matrix, and then by empowering it with mana. A long time ago I wrote an article describing
my view on The Ecology of Magic and while it was
written for another system, the concepts developed in it are easily converted to this system's framework.
I won't go into details about it, but you can read the original article if you like.
Mana - Mana is a form of psychoactive energy. The source of this
energy is unknown, and scholars across the ages have argued about where
it comes from, with no final decision ever being reached.
Spell Matrix- This is a three dimensional lattice-like framework.
Once formed, if it is empowered (by pushing mana through it), it can make
changes to the very fabric of reality. These changes are as varied as can
be, everything from healing damage to creating huge balls of fire to hurl at an enemy.
There are many different ways to form these Spell Matrices. Some casters
use a focus, such as a holy symbol, while others use material items that are
consumed in the casting, as the core of the matrix formed. A few rare magic
users use their own bodies as a focus for these unimaginable energies, just to
name a few....
One major point about this set of spell casting rules is that when preparing
spells for the day, all magic users are actually preparing (studying,
memorizing, praying for, etc..) a set of Spell Matrices. The caster may
then use any of his spell slots (number of spells per day) to cast any spell
that he has prepared of an equal or lesser level (equal or less than the spell
slot that is). Casting a spell also does not remove the matrix, even though it
does use up one of the spell slots for the day. Thus a Wizard need only prepare
one Magic Missile spell, and can then cast it any number of times per
day, so long as he has the spell slots to power it. The same goes for a Druid
who wants to cast Magic Fang.
Note: This system does not change the normal number of spells per
day that a spell caster may actually cast. The charts for the number of
Spells per Day are used to determine the number of
Spell Matrices and Spell Slots that a caster has access to
each day. Both are equal to the number of Spells per Day that a caster
Since this system tends to tread upon one of the unique features of the
Sorcerer, the following changes are made to that class to compensate.
- The Sorcerer no longer needs material components to cast spells. He now
uses his own body as a focus for spells that he casts. If a spell requires
a high priced material component, the Sorcerer pays this cost in experience
points equal to the gold piece value of the component. If a spell requires
both an expensive component and an experience point cost, then the Sorcerer
pays both costs as experience point costs.
- The Sorcerer now gains Bonus Spells Known as the other spell using classes.
He uses his Charisma score to determine how many additional spells he knows.
- The Sorcerer gains a natural +2 bonus to all Spellcasting Rolls. This
ability does stack with the Innate Spellcaster Feat below.
Spellcasting Roll - Due to the very dangerous nature of magic, spell
casting is not always an automatic success. To successfully cast a spell, the
caster must roll (1d20 + caster level + spell stat modifier) and beat a DC of
(10 + (2 x spell's level)). Success means that the spell is cast successfully.
Failure means that the spell slot was used but that the spell was not cast. A
Catastrophic Failure (roll of 1 on the d20) means that the spell slot
and the matrix were both lost. The magic user can prepare the matrix again the
next day. For a Sorcerer, this means that he has lost the ability to select that
particular spell for the rest of the day. He will be able to meditate and
recover the lost knowledge of the spell come the next day.
Spell users will no longer have to make a separate roll for Arcane Spell
Failure due to armor worn. This is now incorporated into the Spellcasting
Roll. For each 5% chance of Arcane Spell Failure, the spell user
receives a +1 modifier to the DC of spells that he attempts to cast.
Overcasting - A spell user may attempt to cast more spells than normally
allowed in a given day, but this comes at a great cost to the spell user.
First, his Spellcasting DC is modified by +2 for every spell over his normal
number allowed that he attempts to cast. This modifier is cumulative with itself
so that the first spell above the normal number allowed is has +2 to the DC,
then second has a +4 to the DC, and so forth. Even if the spell is successfully
cast, the caster will take a number of points of Temporary Constitution
Damage equal to the level of the spell just cast. There is no way to avoid
this damage. If the caster should happen to fail his Spellcasting Roll
when Overcasting, he takes a number of points of Permanent Constitution
Damage equal to the level of the spell just cast, plus the spell is treated
as if the caster had rolled a Catastrophic Failure as detailed above. Both
the Temporary and Permanent damage may be healed as per the normal methods outlined
for restoring ability damage.
It is important to note that caster does not have to be completely out
of available spell slots to be able to Overcast a spell. If a mage is
out of third level spell slots, but still has first and second level slots
available, he may still attempt to cast a third level spell by Overcasting.
Overloading - Overloading a spell is the act of using a higher-level
spell slot to power a lower level spell. Overloading a spell raises the effective
casting level of a spell (thus raising the DC of the Spellcasting Roll
and the DC of the Saving Throw against the spell) by the difference between the
normal level of the spell and the spell slot being used (using a third level
slot to power a first level spell increases the level of the spell by 2). If
the Spellcasting Roll for an Overloaded spell should fail, it is treated as a
Catastrophic Failure, as detailed above.
Prerequisites: The ability to cast spells
Benefits: The caster who gains this an innate bonus of +2 to all Spellcasting Rolls.
Notes: This Feat may be taken only once.
This article: "Matrix Spell Casting", Copyright © 2002
by Tim Dugger, is a OGL 3.x rules article.
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