Tuesday, August 28, 2012

How High Should Magic Spells Go in Your OSR Game?

Notice how I said in YOUR OSR game ;)

Should spells go up to level 9 for both Magic-users and Clerics?

How about level 9 spells for Magic-users and level 7 for Clerics?

As low as level 6 spells for Magic-users and level 5 for Clerics?

Magic does set the tone of a campaign to some extent, and knowing how high your caster's potential is can be a defining moment.

For me, the answer would be level 6 for Magic-users and Level 5 for Clerics. It just seems like the right spot to top off the power of mere mortals. Magic beyond that is the business of the gods themselves.

What's your answer?

(there is a poll that will be up for a few days to grab your statistical answers, but I'd like to hear your reasonings too)


  1. I agree with your levels, I guess. I think there might be exceptions, though, should the gods (or demons)involve themselves in the situation.

  2. In Beacon I only put in spells up to 6th level (across the board) basically for the same reason you mention - they tend to break the game. I have been considering doing some 7th level but those spells would likely be either epic things entirely custom to the campaign or be more like lengthy rituals than normal spells. I like a more down to earth game I suppose.

  3. I love the idea from the oft-maligned "Manual of the Planes" that some alternate material planes could have spells that went up to 11th level, and others had much lower limits on magic spells. I always had it in the back of my mind that the Rain of Colorless Fire and Invoked Devastation of the World of Greyhawk were 10th or 11th level spells that somehow the ancients managed to cast, perhaps bringing the magic factor of the entire world of Oerth down a notch in so doing.

    That said, I think having magic-users have higher-level spells than clerics is important in terms of game balance. As long as one remembers that a level 7 cleric spell isn't the same in power as a level 9 magic-user spell. You want to wear armor and be good in combat? Your maximum spell power is limited to compensate.

  4. Rather than have level specific spells. I like the idea of spells being scaled by the level of the caster. DCC RPG almost does this. The more powerful the caster, the more powerful the spell. I'm not sure how to separate more "powerful" spells, ie. high level spells, like Power Word Kill or Wish.

  5. We play Crypts & Things which doesn't have clerics and limits magicians to sixth level spells. That being said, there's no reason why there can't be ancient scrolls or tomes sitting around somewhere with higher level spells and rituals ;-)

  6. Seems to me the trend of around 6th/5th is fairly popular amidst your readership. Likewise, I prefer the lower-power of esoterists. In my games if there's way powerful magics, it's either ancient artifacts like the Necronomicon, or powers kept by those above.


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