Sunday, December 18, 2011

"magic_missile_is_so_boring_i_never_pick_it" - Zak S.

 It's just a spell that does damage at a range, right?

Magic Missile Manifestation (d20)

1. Summon Ghost Arrow
2. Laser Beam Finger
3. Ebon Flame Gout from Palm
4. Icicle Spray from Fingertips
5. Sparkly Rainbow Gesture
6. Summon Nano Black Hole
7. Throw Fire Shurikens
8. Bees from Mouth
9. Lightning from Eyes
10. Fingers Briefly Become Long Snakes
11. Heat Wave From Forehead Cooks Foe's Innards
12. Spheres of Eerie Light Up From Ground
13. Slime Erupts from Target's Pores
14. Summon Biting Skulls
15. Eyes Open In Palms, Shoot Purple Beams
16. Spit Lava
17. Conjure Vortex of Green Fumes
18. Call the Hideous Cackling from Nowhere
19. Blow Kiss of Death
20. Projectile Vomit of Acid

DMs may opt to track specific formulations, or simply each caster has their own version, or maybe you have to roll every dang time you cast.


  1. Just flavoring the damage doesnt cut it ForMeAndMyBrokenSpacebar Sure_but_damage_is_boring_if_Youre_a_wizard_kill_me_with_ heartbreak_or_ventriloquism_or_that_thing_where_dr_strange cast_that guilt_for_each_one_youve_killed_spell_but_it_didnt_ doMuchExceptToGalactus. DontJustFlavorTheDamage

  2. I love it. Magic Missile can be shadows coming out from the wizard's fingertips, green ooze from the monster, small lightening bolts, etc.

  3. I think a lot of these should only work if you announce what you're doing anime-style as you do it.

  4. 21. Fingernails extend, pierce and retract faster than the eye can see, leaving the enemy with ten mysterious stab wounds.

    Around when I started playing D&D I was told there was movie (with aliens?) that featured this, though I've never come across this.

  5. I've got a new cantrip in Adventures Dark and Deep to address exactly this issue. "Flourish" allows the caster to give standard spells a little panache just like you listed, without materially changing the in-game effect.

  6. Anonymous5:53 PM

    Zak S-

    How about a coherent response?
    What you wrote makes no sense.

  7. Really? It seemed just fine to me.

  8. WeKeyboardally_HandicappedAreSoMisunderstood

  9. A little flavor can take spells a long way...that's the part I liked the most about The Secret Fire.

    Jeff, consider the table stolen.

  10. @Trey "I think a lot of these should only work if you announce what you're doing anime-style as you do it."

    Game Play: Thorak and Galt are retreating from the cavern in the volcano with their recovered loot. Too busy to pay proper attention they're surprised by a wizard who steps out from a side cavern.

    The wizard casts Magic Missile at them, one missile hitting each character and dealing 4 points of damage.

    Thorak and Galt were bone weary as they headed back up the way they'd come down. Although nearly exhausted from their long trek down and the fight with the fire salamander, they weren't too tired to gloat over the two bags of loot they'd recovered, along with the blood red bracelet that seemed to contain fire within the jewels.

    Being thus distracted they failed to notice where they were headed until a loud booming voice shook the tunnel.

    "Fools!" the figure spoke. "Would you steal from the very heart of the mountain?"

    As he finished speaking his hands made a complicated gesture and drops of lava flew from his fingers, briefly illuminating the passageway before hitting Thorak and Galt, burning them.

    No need to explain as you're rolling, just explain the action after it's happened.

  11. While I agree with Zak that Magic Missile is still just boring old damage, I think this would work very well for the LotFP version of the spell.

  12. I think that flavor table works well for a high-fantasy game. It does make wizards more differentiated in a way.

    For a true sword and sorcery style game, though, I wouldn't give projectile spells to wizards at all. When sword and sorcery wizards kill, they do it with things like suddenly accelerated ageing, mysterious withering plagues, or ripping out their victims' hearts from their chests with a mere gesture. :)

  13. Someone needs to come up with a 'lyric magic system', where all spells work like Dr Strange's. Eldritch Vaults comes close to this, but a system where the object's story is a spell component and shapes its effects, and where terrific power comes at terrible cost, would add another whole level. For example, Ghost Curse would summon the ghosts of all those the target betrayed or murdered, but the caster would have to deal with one of his own as well...

  14. Although it is still essentially a magic missile spell, I keep wanting to play a wizard who is always accompanied by ravens, and when he casts spells the manifestation is the ravens doing something: in the case of magic missile, it's a raven swooping down to attack; a fireball could well be an unkindness of ravens all swooping down and pecking people to death, etc.

    Still, saying that, I do agree with Zak that there are a lot of spells that could do with being made more interesting, and I would love to see the next fantasy heart-breaker move away from classic D&D spells and do something different.

  15. In Into the Odd I have it reskinned as a sort of pain curse that hurts and incapacitates.

  16. This is great. :)

    I think a lot of these should only work if you announce what you're doing anime-style as you do it.

    I think somebody needs to be describing it every time or it'll go back to "magic missile" shorthand eventually. Unless the shorthand becomes:

    Ghost Arrow
    Laser Beam
    Flame Palm
    Icicle Spray
    Sparkly Rainbow
    Nano Black Hole
    Fire Shurikens
    Lightning Eyes
    Snake Fingers
    Heat Wave
    Spheres of Light
    Slime Pores
    Biting Skulls
    Palm Eyes
    Spit Lava
    Vortex of Fumes
    Hideous Cackling
    Kiss of Death
    Acid Vomit

    I could see someone saying "I cast Biting Skulls" or "Biting Skulls does... 4 damage".

  17. For a true sword and sorcery style game, though, I wouldn't give projectile spells to wizards at all. When sword and sorcery wizards kill, they do it with things like suddenly accelerated ageing, mysterious withering plagues, or ripping out their victims' hearts from their chests with a mere gesture. :)

    21. Curse of Decrepitude
    22. Withering Plague of Aaarrrgh

    That last one is a bit harder, but if every time the wizard casts his mumbling curse your fighter feels a pain in his chest, and then when he takes that last hit point of damage the heart is ripped from his chest and flies into the sorcerer's hand, you get the effect.

    Actually, these could all use a "finishing move" to complete their description. How the spell manifests when the wizard is shaving off a hit point here or there is one thing, but how it manifests when it takes off that last hit point and lays an opponent low is another. "Damage at a distance" can mean many things, and you really freak your players out if the magic missile that the sorcerer uses to kill a character makes his head explode Scanners-style...

  18. Love it! I may roll this each time the wizard in the party fires the spell off. Any suggestions for side effects (bee stings for adjacent foes, etc)?

  19. There was a great article in Dragon #200 about reflavoring magic spells. I read that early on in my D&D days and it really influenced how I view the game. Maximus the Black waves his dagger and a cut appears on his target, Imran shoots fire bolts, Illfrith summons ice daggers, Blackthorn shoots arrows that auto-hit, etc. Illfrith also has Fimbul-Winter that does cold damage instead of Fireball, and Imran has smokey duplicates instead of Mirror Image.

    These simple flavor changes can really help give identity to spellcasters. Your list is awesome.

    At the same time, some spells that feel more mystical, instead of just "magic laser" seem to be what's bothering Zak. Sometimes the D&D spells can be very dry and even logical; some more fairy-tale or mythological themed magic would be nice.

  20. One of my players' current wizard flavors it as throwing fistfuls of bees at targets. And a previous character of his (with strong Fey ties) held out his hat and pelted foes with high-velocity spectral bunnies.

  21. This is what I loved about DCC...

    But then grew to hate since the beta only had first level spells, and I had to come up with this for a whole bunch of other spells and it made my uncreative brain hurt after doing just a few of them.

    If anyone wants to see the handful I did, they can be found HERE, but I make no promises about them actually being good...


  22. Awesome list, Jeff! And thanks to the commenters for lots of good ideas as well.

  23. I love this. I need to work it into something.

  24. We hard-coded this idea into ACKS as "spell signatures". Each mage has one and all his spells have a related aesthetic. A necromancer's wall of stone might appear as an aggregate of tomb-stones, for ex.

    The standard spell descriptions just represent 'Ye Old Wizard's Guild''s method of casting the spell. Mages can be recognized by their spell signature, particular schools of training noted, etc.

  25. I suddenly want a d20 marked with nothing but 8's.