By Jay

Drawing on Thieves' World, Lankhmar, Clark Ashton Smith, R. E. Howard, and a few other, mostly low fantasy, stories, as well as the SPI fantasy chestnut DragonQuest.

I've been working out a fantasy adaptation using FS rules. My players really like the economy and flexibility of the rules but wanted to do something non sci-fi. I wanted to do something using a system they weren't familiar with (i.e., not AD&D or any other standby) to remove most of the predictability that comes after too many years of using the same sytem. This dovetailed with some ideas I'd been kicking around for a while now, drawing on Thieves' World, Lankhmar, Clark Ashton Smith, R. E. Howard, and a few other, mostly low fantasy, stories, as well as the SPI fantasy chestnut DragonQuest.

So I figured I'd toss this out to the list for your own reading pleasure. (Besides I need to write this up for them anyway. :)


The basic mechanic (the VP/"Price is Right" system) stays the same, as does most of the rules for combat, etc. Most of the skills are the same, although a good number of them are not present (i.e., the various Think Machine skills, Shoot, etc.). The occult system is *substantially* different.

Character Attributes




All unmarked stats are the same as in FS.

(*)Attunement replaces Tech. It represents the inherent connection of the character with the flow of mystical energies in the world, i.e., with magical forces. The ability of a character to use magic is a function of talent (i.e., high Attunement) and practiced skill (i.e., learned sorcerous paths). Magic checks will use Attunement + for the roll.

(**)Fortune/Arcane replaces Human/Alien and serves some of the function of the old stat pair. In my conception of how the mystic works in this system, Fortune represents one's luck or fate. Those who have a high Fortune stat are lucky in certain respects, or otherwise momentous. Sorcery, by its very nature, interferes with the natural operations of Fortune. The more sorcerous knowledge one knows, the more one meddles with the functioning of fate, the more removed from it one becomes.

In practical terms, one's path rating in sorcery cannot exceed one's Arcane rating (Arcane must be purchased with XP, representing a consious, willed effort to distance onesself from natural reality). Fortune can be called upon by spending a Wyrd point in the same way that Human is in FS. In addition, if the character rolls a botch, a botch only occurs if a Fortune+ check fails. So a sorcerer, as he or she gains in power, comes to fear failure a great deal. They can do a great deal, but dread their failures. Sorcerers MAKE their own luck, they don't rely on things happening for them.

While Arcane does not make one particularly horrid, it does provide a penalty on all social rolls made with the "unenlightened": animals, children, peasants, etc., of one point per point of Arcane. Powerful sorcerers become, after a time, palpably creepy.


A lot of this is tentative.


This is a world of no gods (I don't have all the names or details worked out yet), although there are certainly cults, often lorded over by an adept or group of adepts who represent (and may well believe) their workings are the result of divine favor. Perhaps I should say it is a world of no *manifest* gods, unlike most fantasy worlds. Various cults are, however, often the storehouse of large quantities of magical lore, so priesthoods may well be quite powerful sorcerously as well as socially, just not in the way they usually are portrayed in fantasy literature, or, more particularly, in AD&D.


The system is based on the idea of spontaneous magic, but rewards use of ritual, via the use of extended rolls, and use of traditional knowledge via bonuses on the roll. That is, while it is technically possible to do anything one wishes, it is a lot easier to do things the way that the masters set out and also a lot easier to do things in rituals.

To use a metaphor: While it is possible in principle to work out most engineering problems from Newton's Laws and/or Maxwell's Equations given pencil and paper, it is a lot easier and typically more precise to use someone else's derived equations gotten from the textbook or programmed into a computer. Unless, of course, you want to do something novel.

Sorcerous Knowledge

There are three path groups, each containing five paths. Path groups are range from 1-10 while paths are rated 1-5. The path group represents one's skill with sorcery of that particular kind and is the skill component of any magic roll. To work throw a fireball, one would roll Attunmement+Elemental given that she had the requisite knowledge level on the Path of Fire; the number of VPs garnered on the roll would determine the effects (see below).

The paths themselves represent specific knowledge; certain levels of knowledge are required to accomplish different workings. A sorcerer's path rating cannot be higher than half his path group rating, e.g., a sorcerer with a rating of 5 or 6 in Elemental could not have a rating 4 in Air.

XP costs:
Path Group Rating 3xcurrent level
Path Rating 6Xcurrent level


The elemental paths work with the building blocks of the material world, Air, Earth, Fire, Water, as well as the raw energy that stems from the heavens inherent in everything, Celestial magics. As you would expect these paths are potent in combat as well as for anything that requires large-scale but not particularly fine-grained effects.



The entities paths work on entities, that is things with souls or nameable objects. (Exercising control is a matter of bargaining with the summoned entity or, if that fails, binding of the will through Enchantment.) Conjuring of normal creatures or demons, conjuring of onesself to a different location (teleportation), alteration of the form of an object or creature, warding against a particular class of entities, healing or damaging a creature, are all in the purview of Entities magics. Summoning or Necromantic magic is especially useful as entities from other planes or the dead often have knowledge and abilities that are out of the purview of human sorcerers, no matter how powerful.



The thaumaturgical paths control raw magical energies or the will--that is the mystic component of a spirit--to the purposes of the sorcerer. The paths of Enchantment and Illusion specialize in workings that effect creatures. The paths of Abjuration, Binding, and Metamagic work on magical energies themselves, allowing the sorcerer to undo magic, bind it to objects or locations (and hence release active control and maintenance costs over the magic), and to combine different paths together to make more potent workings than can be accomplished with one path alone, respectively.


Path Ratings

All sorcery performs one of three basic tasks: Sense, Alter, or Create. In general, sensing is easiest, altering is more difficult, and creation is the most difficult. Sensing involves using sorcery to examine something but otherwise not to affect it. Alteration involves using sorcery to change something that exists in place to something else. Creation involves using sorcery to make something out of nothing. For example, a sorcerer could use the Fire Sense to see heat patterns or could extend this ability to someone else (at a bit of cost). If there was a bonfire burning, controlling the fire would require Alteration. If there was no fire at all, making one burn with no fuel would require Creation.

Elemental Paths

Sense, Alter, and Create their respective elements, Air, Earth, Fire, Water, and Energy (Celestial). Mostly they just rely on the VP Effect Multiplier. Anything can be attempted at each path level, although it is necessary to use higher rank effects and Metamagic to do truly awesome feats, particularly those that work on more than one element at once. Celestial magics are necessary to create energy which is transformed by any other magic.

Entities Paths


Spirit magic involves creatures from other planes, either the spirits of the dead or other things, such as demons. Spirit magic allows one to bring spirits across planar boundaries. Spirit magic can also be used to detach one's own spirit so as to allow action in spirit form, for instance as a projected ghost form.


Summoning magic calls a definable creature to the caster, say, a human, horse, etc. The more that is known of the creature, the better control over who or what is exactly summoned. For instance, if one summons a man, it is most likely one would summon a peasant. If one specifies a warrior, then one will get a common warrior. The more specific the information the more narrow the criteria of the summoning is, the more likely one is to get a particular creature. Of course, the more specific the summons, the more difficult it is. Information such as names, possession of physical objects related to the desired creature, etc., all make summoning easier. It is also possible to "invert" a summoning, transporting the caster to a specified location. Summoning creatures from other planes requires Spirit combined via Metamagic.

It should be noted that summoned creatures are in no way bound to the caster nor does the summoning ritual provide any protection from the creature; summoned creatures may well be (and may well not be) quite irate at being summoned. As such, most summoners (at least most that care to live long) develop the paths of Spirit, Enchantment, Warding, and Abjuration, the latter most particularly since once a spell of summoning lapses, the creature returns to its previous location.


Warding magic is the opposite of summoning. It involves barring creatures from a particular area. The general rule of warding is that the VPs of effect act as penalties on any VPs of actions taken by the warded creature. Wardings are almost always creations as they are most unnatural. Wardings can also be created with greater consequences than simple prevention by using Metamagic to provide other effects. For instance, a ward could, if Fire were included, do Fire damage to the specified targets.


The Life path involves healing or harming living entities. Nonliving creatures are unaffected by life magic. Life magic can be employed to do damage (1 VP = 1 Vitality level) via alteration of the life pattern. Effect difficulty depends on the level of damage to be inflicted. Nonlethal damage (i.e., damage out of the penalty range of Vitality) is a Minor Alteration. Potentially lethal damage (i.e., damage into the penalty range of Vitality) is a Major Alteration. Similarly, life magic can be employed to heal damage.


The Transmutation path involves making changes to the structure of entities. Examples of effects include shape changing oneself or others, changing gold to lead, changing water to wine, etc.

Thaumaturgy Paths

Thaumaturgy is, in many ways, the most complicated set of paths as the target of thaumaturgy is the art of affecting the flow of magic itself. As such each of its paths requires more description than the previous two.


Ego or Faith (whichever is primary) represent a character's strength of will. Ego is inner-directed and Faith is outer- directed, but each provides the character with strength to resist being affected by someone else's will. Enchantment magic attempts to suppress this. To completely dominate someone, an enchanter needs to gather enough VP to overwhelm the person, that is, more VP than their Ego or Faith. Each effort is opposed by a roll of Ego/Faith + Stoic Mind. Potent enchanters can usually manage this, but weaker ones have much more difficulty. Suppressed will returns gradually; the character should roll Ego/Faith + Stoic Mind after the span in which he or she was dominated, with the VPs representing more and more will being restored. When all VP in the Enchantment are cancelled, the spell is gone.

To be effective, it is not necessary for an enchanter to suppress completely someone's will. Reasonable suggestions are much easier to manage. Commands that are totally antithetical to the subject's personality are much more difficult to accomplish. Altering an existing attitude somewhat is relatively easy. Creating a new belief is more difficult. Making radical alterations to personality is a difficult feat indeed.


Senses include: Sight, Hearing, Touch, Taste, Smell. Each additional sense shifts the Effect Difficulty up by one from a base of 0 for one sense. Magical senses can be blocked by including an Abjuration 1 component via Metamagic. Illusions that cover more senses are much harder to disbelieve.


Roll VP on the abjuration and subtract these from the VP of the spell being disrupted; when the net total of the disrupted spell is no longer positive, it is destroyed. Disrupting Bound effects require, in addition to Abjuration, the component Paths of at least level 1. (Disrupting the magical blade mentioned below would require Abjuration 3, Earth 1, Illusion 1, and, of course, Metamagic 3.) Potent workings that took years to build up may well take years to disrupt!


1 Bind Total Path Level of 1 Effects
2 Bind Total Path Level of 3 Effects
3 Bind Total Path Level of 6 Effects
4 Bind Total Path Level of 10 Effects
5 Bind Total Path Level of 15 Effects

That is, if you have combined effects of more than one path with Metamagic, sum up the total path levels of the effect. Making a sword blade preternaturally sharp and invisible would require Earth 3 + Illusion 1 for a total path level of 4; Binding this would require Binding 3.


1 Combine Two Paths
2 Combine Three Paths
3 Combine Four Paths
4 Combine Five Paths
5 Combine Six Paths

Metamagic itself never counts as a path being combined.


As I said earlier, the rolls one makes are Attunement + , although there are a number of modifiers (detailed below). The number of VPs gathered are allocated to different magic parameters chosen by the caster. What's left after the conditions are met determine the level of effect done in the specified area.

Higher path rating magics are more powerful. This is represented by a VP multiplier, which turns the VP on the roll into the total number of VP used to accomplish various tasks (unless the path description states otherwise). Because of the multiplier, you will in general be able to accomplish a lot more with higher path level magics, but, because they are more difficult, it may be more cost-effective to use lower path level effects. Backlash due to botches of higher path level magics are also much worse, potentially, as the multiplier is used to determine the effect.

Path VP Effect
Level Multiplier
1 X1
2 X2
3 X3
4 X4
5 X5

When combining paths via Metamagic, the path level used to determine the VP Effect Multiplier is either the Path level of the caster in Metamagic, or the highest level of the combined paths, whichever is smaller. So, if a caster created magma using Fire 3, Earth 2 and has Metamagic 2, the VP Effect Multiplier would be 2. If the caster had a Metamagic 4, the VP Effect Multiplier would be 3, that is, the greater of the two base paths.

Spell Parameters

There are five basic parameters: range (how far away the target is), duration (how long the spell lasts), targets (the number of specified targets), area of effect (the region of the spell=96targets would need to be in this region if the spell isn't one that would normally effect an area itself), and effect difficulty (how hard it is to do what you want based on how much change from the existing condition the effect is). The basic logic is that it is easier to affect fewer things in a smaller area that are closer to you for less time. The easiest, of course, is to affect yourself.

Shift Range Duration Targets Area of Effect Effect Difficulty
0 None Instant Self Self Sense
1 Touch 1 turn 1 a tiny region (1 yd sphere) Minor Alteration
2 Line of sight 10 turns 5 a small region (3 yd sphere) Minor Creation
3 a well-known location 1 span 25 a moderate region (9 yd sphere) Major Alteration
4 a little-known location 1 hour 125 a large region (30 yd sphere) Major Creation
5 a well-specified location 1 day 625 a huge region (1000 yd sphere) Heroic Alteration
6 a vaguely-specified region location 1 month 3125 a gargantuan region (10000 yd sphere) Heroic Creation

These tables can be extended as necessary, following the basic pattern here.

Some examples:

An AD&D-style fireball would have: Range 2, Line of Sight; Duration 0, Instantaneous; Targets 1 (you don't care but the spell effects one area that is not yourself); Area of Effect 3, a moderate region; Effect Difficulty 3. Total parameter cost is 2 + 0 + 1 + 3 + 3 =3D 9. You would need 9 VP to fill up the region desired. Any VP left over would be used to do damage. Obviously you want to use higher path rated magic to do more damage. A really high path rated elementalist could some serious damage given a good roll.

A spell that would suppress the will of an entire city: Range 5, a well-specified location; Duration 3+, which is probably the minimum needed to get anything useful done; Targets, 6+, lots of people in a city; Area of Effect 6+, cities are big; Effect Difficulty 1 or 3 (depends on how much suppression you wanted). Total parameter costs is at minimum 5 + 3 + 6 + 6 + 3 =3D 23 VP. Only the most potent of Enchanters who had very large quantities of available Wyrd would attempt this sort of thing.

Snuffing the life out of a small creature in your hand with Life magic: Range 1; Duration 0; Targets 1; Area of Effect 1; Effect Difficulty 1. Total cost is 4.

Warding the above city against vermin for a month: Range 5, Duration 6, Targets 1 (only one city after all! :), Area of Effect 6; Effect Difficulty 2 (minor warding). Total cost is 18.

Healing yourself with Life magic: Range 0, Duration 0, Targets 0, Area of Effect 0; Effect Difficulty 1 or 3 depending on how bad you=92re hurt. Cost 1 or 3.

Effect Levels

After spell parameters have been accounted for, what=92s left over becomes effect. When doing damage, effect VPs translate into damage levels to be soaked one for one. When dominating will, "damage" is to Ego or Faith. When creating Illusions, VP translates into penalties on other people's rolls to see through the illusion.

Modifiers to the Goal Number (all cumulative):

-1 per highest level of path used (e.g., Fire 3 would be at a base -3).

-1 per path included in one working, not counting Metamagic or Binding (e.g., Fire 3, Earth 3 would be at a base -4, etc.)

-1 per three levels of total parameter shift

-4 Spontaneous magic (you make the effect up on the spot)

-2 Unpracticed magic (you haven=92t really studied the effect)

-3 Fast Cast (done in one action; normally it takes one turn to work an effect)

+1 per extra time shift spent in casting (the ritual bonus; use the duration chart for the shifts)

+1 per component used that fits the rules of sympathy (normal max +3)

+/- situational factors as the GM sees fit, e.g., -2 for casting in distracting conditions

Spending Wyrd

1 Wyrd per path included in the effect. So a 1 Path Effect (even if it's powerful) costs 1 Wyrd. A 2 Path Effect costs 2 Wyrd, etc.

Getting Wyrd: In addition to the character's normal Wyrd pool (which works like it does in the book), characters can:

(1) Use his own life energy, generating 1 Wyrd per Vitality level taken out of the penalty range or 1XPenalty for levels in the penalty range. So if a character with 5 Endurance used 7 points of Vitality, he would generate 5W + 2W + 4W =3D 11W. If this character was willing to completely incapacitate himself, he would generate 6W + 8W + 10W, plus the previous 11W, for a grand total of 35W. Obviously this is quite a large pool, but, depending on what the sorcerer is up to it might well be necessary.

(2) Use someone else's life energy, channeled via a combined Spirit/Celestial effect. This is one tenth (rounding DOWN) as efficient as using his own life energy, so sacrificing a normal person (3 End) generates 3W and one twentieth as effective when using a nonsentient, generating only about 1W for, say, a farm animal. Stack up the bodies!

(3) Sacrifice permanent Endurance, at 10W per point sacrificed. Doing this takes the character back to 0 XP of the level below where she was at when the sacrifice was made.

(4) Channel Wyrd from an item or other source. These include: Dragon's Blood, Places of Power, Wyrd bound into an item or place using Celestial magic, etc. This requires Celestial magic and may require another appropriate magic as well.


In addition to the benefit of spending extra time, it is possible to use ritual magic to achieve greater effects than would otherwise be possible in a single casting. The schedule of the ritual cannot be deviated from or the ritual fails. Before attempting a ritual, the caster must have researched it and have obtained the requisite components.

The main benefit of using a ritual is that it is possible to accumulate VP by turning the casting into an extended action. The ritual continues, i.e., the caster continues to make rolls, until the needed number of VPs have been accumulated or a natural 20 is rolled, regardless of whether it is a botch or not. Ritual casting time is ten turns for the roll interval. Increasing the roll interval (use the chart shift table) gives the usual bonus of +1 per shift level.