Sunday, August 5, 2018

Caster Differentiation 3: Why you shouldn't

A question for you, gentle viewer?  What is the difference between a Wizard and a Magic-User?  Or a Magic-User and a Sorcerer?  Or a Wizard, a Warlock, and a Sorcerer?  These are all different shades of the same question you'll find.  But today, I happened upon the solution.  Not much.

You see, Dan D. at the absolutely fabulous Throne of Salt gave me this idea here.  See that?  It's a Wizard sub-class in the GLOG style, but note the name: Bard.

It was so obvious, the whole time.

So here's my answer.  The difference between a Magic-User and a Wizard is a college degree.

Snobbishness, Certificates, and Wizards

One of the universal constants in human groups is that the elites seek to elevate themselves above the common people.  And among those who can use Magic, this is no exception.  This is why Wizards cloak themselves in elaborate, nonsensical ceremony, wear ridiculous outfits, and spent thousands of silver pieces on towers, fancy inks, and illuminated pages for their spellbooks.  They want to prove that they are not unlike the Hedge-Witch, the Shaman, or the Magic-User.  As such, to become a Wizard is a tiresome, immensely difficult thing.  You must either attend a Wizard Monastery and live in a shack for several years; eat nothing but peas, bread and water while working on your meditations; and abstain from all pleasures, money, women and wine until you master your spells; or you can join a Cult.  Churches and Priests are always in need of a Wizard, though attending a Wizard monastery to learn magic is not going to be very different then going to a normal monastery to learn magic for God.  The only other option is to attend a Wizard college, which takes years, costs fistfuls of money, and there is no guarantee you will actually be able to use your magical skills once you graduate, especially if you specialized in some more useless type of magic, such as in Jazz, Skulls or Illusions.

But make no mistake, this is not the only way to learn Magic, this is just the only way to become a Wizard.  For while commoners use 'Wizard' to refer to any person who casts magic, the erudite classes know better.  You're only a Wizard if you have a Wizardry Certificate from a credible institution.  And the benefits of having a Wizardry Certificate are numerous.  For example, in most municipalities, it is illegal to cast magic outdoors or in the presence of children.  This is a Law that is almost impossible to enforce, but sometimes it still is.  Unless, of course, you have a Wizardry Certificate.  Other restrictions on when and how you can cast magic are also waived, including some of them on what you can be before casting magic.  For example, in some places, women aren't allowed to cast magic or become Wizards.  But if they have a Wizardry Certificate, they'll usually receive the benefit of the doubt, especially if they have a Certificate from a notoriously liberal Wizarding College or a foreign nation at the edge of the world.  Churches and Governments are also known to bestow Wizardry Certificates, in the similar way to how Kings sometimes knight people, or bestow other titles on martially inclined retainers. 

And I don't think I need to say it, but the sale of stolen or forged Wizardry Certificates is a very lucrative business for some Thieves Guild's, for reasons I don't think I need to say.  Why steal a bunch of heavily guarded gold when a Weirdo with three eyes will pay about as much for a piece of paper left hanging on an office wall?

But this is not the only way to learn magic.  You can learn magic by studying at the feet of a greater mage, learn it from local spirits such as a Dryad, or one day simply suffer a stroke and wake up with magical powers.  The Mage-King Selazar Astronomus awakened his powers that way, when he suffered a head-wound in battle and then, when he woke up three days later, found he could make people light on fire by glaring at them.

What does this mean for me (the Referee)?

If you already went through the trouble of writing a Warlock or Sorcerer class, nothing.  This comes too late for you.  But for me, it means that I will not be writing either one.  Because the differences between a Wizard, Warlock and Sorcerer are relatively minor at best.  Here, let me show you.


You might not have known magic before this.  This might be your first time actually using it.  Or you might have been in Wizarding College, struggling to make a gemstone glow with inner light, a trick most Wizarding Students learn within a month.  Maybe you were worried about flunking out, or you considered leaving, as it wasn't worth all this money when you clearly had no talent for magic.  But then, one day, a stranger came to you.  He/She/It asked you to make a deal.  Power, for a price.  And for whatever it was worth, you signed the paper, shook their hand, etc. 

Power: 1/Day, If you are ever out of Spellcasting Dice, running low, or need some extra juice, or for any real reason, you can call upon your Patron to receive 1d4 Spellcasting Dice or your level, whatever you prefer, though you will only ever receive a maximum of 5 Dice.  No higher loan will ever be granted.  However, doing this incurs an additional favor.

Drawback: You owe your Patron a favor.  Usually once a Year, once every Month, or once a game session (work out the terms with your Referee at character creation).  This favor is based on whatever or whoever your Patron is, though these are usually at least unpleasant to carry out.  Additionally, every time you use your Power to ask your Patron for an advance, you owe another favor, to be paid whenever your patron wishes it to.  And when your Patron asks for something, you best do it.  Refusing to do a Favor is not a good idea, and usually ends with you losing your spellcasting abilities at minimum, and at worse ends up with you being dragged down into Hell to serve as your Patron's personal chew-toy for the rest of your natural life.

Who is my Patron?:

It can be anything from a Dragon, Devil, Demon, Elemental Lord, Fey Noble, or anything else you desire, as long as it is not a mortal and possesses great magical power.

Warlock Spell List

This one is for those who sell their soul to Papa Legba, but this is by no means the norm.  In the best case scenario, spell lists for the Warlock should be customized to the Patron.  Just go through your Master Spell-list or the Wizard Megapost, pick what fits the Patron, and make a list of 12 of them, with a few extra added on for good measure.

Warlock Spell List:
1- Blight
2- Bloody Feast
3- Combustication
4- Desiccate
5- Dimmer Punch
6- Fireball
7- Hellflame
8- Illusion
9- Invisibility
10- Murderer's Servants
11- Partition Metal
12- Venomous Fluid

13- Blood Pressure
14- Me and My Shadow

New Spells:

R: 50'        T: fire            D: one action

Transform one source of already existing fire into Hellflame.  The difference between the two is that Hellflame burns black and consumes life force instead of physical fuel.  This functions as magic damage, allowing it to damage things that might not be affected by fire.  Additionally, it can also devour magical effects.  Magic items placed in Hellflame have their abilities either temporarily suppressed or removed, depending on how long they were in it.  Enchantments can usually survive a quick soak, but weaker spells are wiped away with nary a trace they were ever there.  Hellflame cannot damage purely physical objects with no spiritual nature.  This means it can hurt animals, ghosts and people, but not robots, doors or statues.    

Murderer's Servants
R: 30'        T: [dice] others    D: [dice] hours

[dice] creatures within range have their hands turned into hooked, bladed weapons.  They cannot use their hands for anything but harm until the duration ends, or until you dismiss the spell as a free action.  These natural weapons do 1d6 damage and count as magic.  If you use four or more dice to cast this spell, the spell lasts indefinitely, until you decide to dismiss it. 

Blood Pressure
R: 30'        T: creature        D: [dice] minutes

One creature within range must save.  On a failure, that creature suffers a heart attack, taking 1d6*[dice] damage.  If you cast this spell with three or more dice, there is no need for you to do anything more then cast the spell mentally, requiring no gesturing, speaking, or glowing lights.

Chaos and Corruption, Simplified:

When you roll doubles on your Spellcasting Dice, roll on the Chaos table.  The spell still goes through.  You receive 1d3 Doom Points.
When you roll triples on your Spellcasting Dice, roll on the Corruption table.  The spell automatically fails.  You also receive 1d4 Doom Points.
At 10 Doom Points, you invoke the Doom of Fools.
At 20 Doom Points, you invoke the Doom of Kings.
At 30 Doom Points, you invoke the Ultimate Doom.    

Chaos of the Warlock
1- You lose one spellcasting dice.
2- Your spell is delayed, and arrives one turn later.
3- Your spell is cast 1d3 extra times.  These extra castings do not use your spellcasting dice
4- Your spell affects you by mistake.  If you survive, the mistake is corrected 1d3 rounds later, the effects of the spell being undone on you and done to your original target instead.
5- Your spell has a different appearance, such as instead of Fireball being a cloud of flame and smoke, its a cloud of pigeons and rainbow light.
6- Your spell does the opposite of what it usually does.  Instead of fire, ice.  Instead of healing, wounding.

Corruption of the Warlock

1- You lose your ability to cast for 1d6 rounds (if in combat).  If not, it's 1d6 minutes.
2- You receive a four hundred page survey from one of your Patron's staff.  It must be completed.  It will take 10 hours of continuous work to complete the survey.
3- Your spell is only at half strength.  Additionally, someone else within 100' randomly receives half of your powers.  The mistake will be corrected if either you or the person with half your magic power complain loud enough.
4- A Customer Service Representative appears and asks you if you are "Extremely satisfied, Very Satisfied or Mostly Satisfied?"  She wants an answer immediately, regardless of what kind of situation you might be in at the moment.  She vanishes as soon as you answer her question.  Any complaints will cause her to break down into tears, delaying you further.  Additionally, while she is here, you cannot cast any new spells.
5- The Warlock is showered with useless knick-knacks, snowglobes, souvenir mugs, and "I sold my soul and all I got was this dumb T-shirt" graphic tees.  Nothing else happens. 
6- The Warlock vanishes on an all expense paid trip, courtesy of their Patron.  They will return in 1d6 (1= 1d6 minutes; 2= 1d4 Days; 3= 1d3 weeks; 4= 1d2 months; 5= 1 year; 6= Never). 

Doom of Fools: A group of 1d4+2 level 2 Adventurers show up to try and kill your Patron, who then contacts you in need of your help.  If you agree to go, they will transport you there, and send you back once you are done. If you do not go and the Adventurers succeed in killing your Patron, you lose your magical ability forever.  If you do not go help, the Adventurers have a (20%) of succeeding.  Additionally, if your Patron lives, they will be very mad at you once they recover from any injuries suffered in the battle.

Doom of Kings: As above, except the Adventurers are level 4 and have a (50%) of succeeding if you do not come to help.

Ultimate Doom: As above, except the Adventurers are all level 5, and they are lead by a level 8 Hero.  If you do not go to help your Patron, they will lose. 

You can escape this Doom by tracking down the surviving relatives, friends and acquaintances of the first adventuring party sent after your Patron and discovering their identities, then killing them before they can form up, armor up, and go to your Patron's lair to fight them.


Some people had to struggle and scrape to make it as a Magic-User.  They had to work harder then anyone else just to achieve a modicum of success.  You were not one of those people.  You possess a level of magical talent most people can't even understand.  With a snap of your fingers, you can do what it takes others years to do.  If you are a Wizard, you're the greatest one in a hundred years.  If you're not, a bunch of Wizards are planning on trying to kill you, because you make them look bad.  It probably won't work.

Power: You start with double the amount of normal spells a Wizard would receive and 1 extra spellcasting die.

Drawback: Whenever you roll for Doom Points, roll twice and take the higher amount.  Half as long, twice as bright.

Sorcerer Spell-list:
1- Acid Rain
2- Anti-Gravity
3- Dynamic Entry
4- Explode Undead
5- Force of Personality
6- It's only a Paper Moon
7- Inversion
8- Light
9- Lucky
10- Overdrive
11- Prismatic Ray
12- Rapturous Vision

13- Center of the World
14- Dragonslayer
15- Prismatic Defense
16- Stardust

New Spells:

Prismatic Ray
R: 50'        T: [dice] creatures    D: one action

Fires [dice] rays at up to [dice] targets.  Each ray requires an attack roll.  On a hit, each ray does 1d6+[dice] damage.  To determine what ray is fired, roll 1d8, rerolling duplicates.  All additional effects last [dice] minutes.

What ray is fired?
1- Red.  Does fire damage.
2- Orange.  Does poison damage.  All hit by this must save or be temporarily blinded, if applicable.
3- Yellow.  Does electrical damage.
4- Green.  Does acid damage.
5- Blue.  Does cold damage. 
6- Indigo.  Does psychic damage.  All hit by this must save or go insane for the duration.
7- Violet.  Induces fear.  All hit by this must save or be scared of the caster for the duration.
8- Octarine.  Overloads with magic.  If the object or creature struck has any magic properties at all, including spellcasting, they must save or have their magic spectacularly malfunction for the duration.  If not magical, no effect.  Referee's discretion on what counts as magic.

Rapturous Vision
R: self        T: self        D: [dice] minutes

You may ask [dice] questions about the past, present and future.  You then enter a partial trance where you see [dice] visions relating to the questions you asked.  These visions are almost always muddled, unclear, and not always in the same order you asked the initial questions.  They also tend to be highly symbolic.

Prismatic Defense
R: 30'        T: creature or object    D: [dice] minutes

Creates [dice] layers of protection around a person or object.  First it increases their AC by +[dice].  Then it wraps them in a number of layers of colorful magic equal to [dice].  To see what layers surround them, roll 1d8, rerolling duplicates.

What color protects them?
1- Red.  Anyone touching the protected object takes 1d6+[dice] fire damage.
2- Orange.  Anyone touching the protect object takes 1d6+[dice] poison damage.  All hit who take damage from this must save or be blinded for the duration.
3- Yellow.  Anyone touching the protect object takes 1d6+[dice] electrical damage.
4- Green.  Anyone touching the protect object takes 1d6+[dice] acid damage.
5- Blue.  Anyone touching the protect object takes 1d6+[dice] cold damage. 
6- Indigo.  Anyone touching the protect object takes 1d6+[dice] psychic damage.  All hit who take damage from this must save or go insane for the duration.
7- Violet.  Anyone touching this must save or be overcome with fear of the caster and the spell itself.
8- Octarine.  Anyone touching this, if they have any magic properties at all, including spellcasting, they must save or have their magic spectacularly malfunction for the duration.  If not magical, no effect.  Referee's discretion on what counts as magic.

Chaos and Corruption, Simplified:

When you roll doubles on your Spellcasting Dice, roll on the Chaos table.  The spell still goes through.  You receive 1d3 Doom Points.
When you roll triples on your Spellcasting Dice, roll on the Corruption table.  The spell automatically fails.  You also receive 1d4 Doom Points.
At 10 Doom Points, you invoke the Doom of Fools.
At 20 Doom Points, you invoke the Doom of Kings.
At 30 Doom Points, you invoke the Ultimate Doom.    

Chaos of the Sorcerer

1- You lose a spellcasting die.
2- One of your spells randomly casts itself.  The Target is random.  Area of effect spells are centered on a random person.
3- One of your prepared spells slips out your ear and flies away.  After 1d6 hours, save.  On a success, the spell returns to your spellbook.  On a failure, it is gone forever.
4- The next spell you cast will be cast as a level four spell automatically, unless you do not have four spellcasting dice, in which case it will be as many as you have.  You know this.  If you wait 1d12 hours, the power will drain out of you, and you can cast it at whatever level you choose.
5- Your spellbook becomes unintelligible to you.  You cannot prepare new spells for the next 1d12 hours.
6- One random flammable object you have in your possession suddenly catches fire.

Corruption of the Sorcerer
1- One random person around you turns to stone.  After 1d10 minutes, they must save.  On a failure, they are stone forever.  On a success, they turn back, confused but okay.
2- A lightning bolt flies down and strikes the nearest tall or metal object near you.  Hopefully this is a tower, and not a knight on a horse.  Does 1d10 damage to things that could be damaged by lightning such as trees, horses, or people.  Does not harm things made of stone or metal.
3- A cloud of gas pours of the Sorcerer's every pore.  This gas does 1d3 damage to everyone nearby and causes temporary insanity.  It is dispersed like a normal cloud of gas.
4- A cloud appears over the sorcerer and starts raining down 1d6 (1= gasoline; 2= blood; 3= salt water; 4= chunks of meat; 5= skulls, hands and small bones; 6= live fish).
5- A look-alike of the Sorcerer suddenly appears from either the nearest reflective surface or if there is none available, out of the air, accompanied by look-alikes of the Sorcer's usual retainers (default would be the party and any tag-alongs they might have).  The Sorcerer's look-alike will then either proceed to 1d4 (1= Give them some useful information; 2= Try and kill them; 3= Tell them a bunch of lies; 4= Follow the Sorcerer until the look-alikes get bored or get driven off).  The look-alikes stick around for 1d10 minutes, before vanishing, leaving no trace they ever existed.
6- For the next 1d10 minutes, as long as the Sorcerer is within 100', no one can die, for any reason.  This lasts just long enough for you to accept the idea you are immortal.  People can still be injured and injuries remain once the time limit is up.  Ex: Someone suffering from a fatal wound during this time will not die, just be in a lot of pain, but once the d10 minutes are up, they will go back to dying. 
Doom of Fools: Every spell you have currently prepared immediately casts itself as a 1d4 level spell.  If the spell requires a target, the targets are randomly selected, or if the spell is an area of effect, it is centered on the caster.
Doom of Kings: As above, except the spells are level 1d6. 

Ultimate Doom: As above, except the spells are all level 5, and automatically target the Sorcerer.

You can escape this Doom by answering the Unanswerable Question or by Defying Inviolable Fate and coming out the victor.


  1. I will totally let mortals be spell-granting patrons. What is a god, but a magic user with a penchant for outsourcing?
    I wonder how much of their time trainees in monasteries actually spend learning magic. It's in the monastery's best interest to get as much labour and worship out of you as possible before you're ready to leave, after all.

    1. It's your game, friend. Do as you like. I'm certain there are some Wizards who would be strong enough to that.

      As for the latter, I would say that going to a Wizard Monastery, you have to spend 1 to 3 years learning basic protocol, doing hard labor, and ritual preparation before they will teach you magic. Then, when they teach you magic, you still have to work for them for some time, usually 10 years. Some Acolytes choose to leave after the ten years is up and go make it on their own, or others stay at the monastery to work for them, and maybe eventually become a Master to teach the next group of Acolytes.

      And working for the monastery doesn't just mean feeding the old, senile Wizards their porridge and dusting the furniture, if someone wanted to learn magic so they could become an Adventurer, then they might be allowed to roam freely (or free-ish), as long as they respond to summons and hand over any treasures the monastery might find useful.