Thursday, December 31, 2009

Dungeons and Dragons: Colors Of Magic

Some time ago, Akrasia posted his swords & sorcery house rules for Dungeons and Dragons. One of the things I like about those house rules is the classification of spells into three different magic colors (white, gray and black) to simulate a swords & sorcery magic system.

Have I previously mentioned my fondness for Avalon Hill’s Magic Realm? In that game, all magic is separated into five colors: White (boons granted from on high), Gray (manipulation of natural laws), Gold (elvish magic), Purple (command of raw elemental energies) and Black (powers bestowed by infernal agents). I have been giving some thought to applying those “Magic Realm” colors to the D&D spell lists. Here is my take on how the first level D&D spell-lists might look, using the Magic Realm color classification system.

White Magic

Protection From Evil
Bless
Command
Create Water
Cure Light Wounds
Purify Food & Drink
Remove Fear
Resist Cold
Sanctuary

Gray Magic

Comprehend Languages
Enlarge
Feather Fall
Friends
Hold Portal
Identify
Jump
Mending
Message
Push
Ventriloquism
Wall of Fog

Gold Magic

Charm Person
Dancing Lights
Magic Aura
Sleep
Animal Friendship
Entangle
Fairie Fire
Pass Without Trace
Predict Weather
Purify Water
Shillelagh
Speak With Animals

Purple Magic

Affect Normal Fires
Burning Hands
Light
Color Spray
Shocking Grasp
Shield
Audible Glamer

Black Magic

Curse
Find Familiar
Magic Missile
Cause Wounds
Cause Fear
Change Self
Darkness
Hypnotism

In Magic Realm, there are 10 magic-using characters: Druid, Elf, Magician, Pilgrim, Sorcerer, White Knight, Witch, Warlock, Wizard and Woodsgirl. None of the characters has access to all five colors of magic (some have access to two or three colors, and the Magician has access to four, but his control over any of those colors is tenuous). I like the idea of restricting characters to certain colors of magic, as the choice of magic-user class then affects what spells they can access. That is the reason I liked the 2E Specialist Mages approach.

The above re-classification of spells (into colors) puts the typical first level “combat spells” into the following categories:

White – Command
Grey – Friends
Gold – Charm Person, Sleep
Purple – Burning Hands, Shocking Grasp
Black – Cause Fear, Cause Wounds, Magic Missile

Playing with Magic Realm colors (and characters) would certainly change the way first level combat spells were selected.

2 comments:

The Rusty Battle Axe said...

This is an interesting concept. Could you apply this to the fighter class and subclasses as well? Maybe substitute color instead of alignment as an organizing principle. Although I wouldn't necessarily see it in morality terms, but more as the actual definition of alignment. Just a thought.

Happy New Year to you, by the way.

Maroussia said...

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