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Skip Navigation LinksHigh Fantasy HERO>Content>Shrike High Fantasy>Magic Systems
Magic Systems
Numerous Magic Systems are presented on this site for use as is, as insipiration, as examples, and for general interest.
Vancian Magic
  • VANCIAN MAGIC: This site provides a comprehensive meta system of Magic referred to collectively as "Vancian Magic". It is patterned after the "fire & forget" style of casting described in some of the works of author Jack Vance, which became an integral part of how many people think of magic use in  Fantasy RPG's as the basic idea was adapted to become the core of the D&D style of magic use. The Vancian Magic Systems presented on this site are all Charges based, organize Spells into Spell Levels, are able to use the concept of "Metamagic Feat" Talents, and by and large should be very usable by those who like the D&D X/Day /Spell Level style of Magic Use.
    • VANCIAN SPELLS: Numerous Spell write ups divided by types of Magic are provided for use with the various Vancian Magic Systems on this site. Many of these Spells are direct conversions of D&D Spells.
    • VANCIAN CASTING MODELS: Three separate Casting Models that work within the concept of Vancian Magic are provided. Each have their pros and cons:
      • PREPARED CASTING: This Casting Model uses a limited Variable Power Pool (VPP) that can only contain Spells with 1 Charge each, which must be prepared to the VPP once per day. However, to compensate for this the VPP's Real Cost limit is greatly expanded.
      • GESTALT CASTING: This Casting Model uses a partially cosmic VPP that can only contain Spells that share a limited number of Charges with all other Spells of the same "Spell Level". While very flexible, this Casting Model is also very expensive.
      • SPONTANEOUS CASTING: This Casting Model uses a stacked series of limited Multipowers (MP's), on per "Spell Level", with a limited number of Charges on both the Reserves and individual Spell Slots. While extremely flexible and easy to use, this Casting Model is expensive, individual Spells must be paid for as slots, and eventually the system gets outpaced by both the Prepared and Gestalt Casting Models at higher point levels.
  • PRIMARY VANCIAN MAGIC SYSTEMS: Many Magic Systems are provided for Vancian Magic. The three primary systems are:
    • WIZARDRY: This Magic System is a fairly direct conversion of the D&D Wizard. It uses the Prepared Casting Model
    • ARCANIS MAGNICUS: This Magic System is essentially identical to Wizardry save that it uses the Gestalt Casting Model rather than the Prepared Casting Model.
    • SORCERY: This Magic System is a fairly direct conversion of the D&D Sorcerer. It uses the Spontaneous Casting Model.
  • VARIANT VANCIAN MAGIC SYSTEMS: In addition to the three primary systems listed above, there are also several "flavor" variants that use the same basic model, but in interesting permutations.
    • ELEMENTALISM: This variant Magic System is usable with any of the three Casting Models, and represents Vancian Spellcasters that organize Magic by the four classic elements of Air, Earth, Fire, Water.
    • STREGARI: This variant Magic System is usable with any of the three Casting Models, and represents Vancian Spellcasters that have more of a Witch / Warlock / Hedge Wizard feel.
    • SORTILEGE: This variant Magic System is usable with any of the three Casting Models, and represents Vancian Spellcasters that take the unusual approach of organizing Magic through the concept of Interaction Skills. Very useful for an alternate sort of Bard Magic.
    • DOMININE: This variant Magic System is an essentially direct translation of D&D 3e Cleric Magic, complete with Domains. It can be used with either of the Prepared and Gestalt Casting Models.
    • ANIMINE: This variant Magic System is an essentially direct translation of D&D 3e Druid Magic, complete with Domains. It can be used with either of the Prepared and Gestalt Casting Models.
Non-Vancian Magic Systems
In addition to the provided Vancian Magic Systems, this site also provides many other completely unrelated Magic Systems.
Framework Based Magic Systems
  • AELDENAREN: This Magic System is Elemental Control (EC) based, and includes the concept of different Gifts that allow access to Powers using specific base Powers. Conceptually, this is a form of inborn, natural Magic, which travels in bloodlines. Aeldenari don't cast Spells, they use their natural mystical abilities, which is a key flavor consideration. As an Aeldenari could potentially activate all of their mystic abilities (if they haven't taken any initialization Limitations that would prevent them from doing so such as Extra Time), and can run them all simultaneously as long as they can pay the END costs; this gives them a strong advantage over many Magic Systems, though at a correspondingly higher cost in character points and a loss of breadth.
  • METIER: This Magic System is Multipower (MP) based, and sets forth a methodology of defining distinct "styles" of Magic by defining required and restricted Modifiers for all magic of a particular style, and characters having one MP per style known.
  • LOREMASTERY: This Magic System is Variable Power Pool (VPP) based. It is actually a conversion of the Magic System from the Second Edition Warhammer Fantasy RPG, but it is a very cool Magic System and is definitely usable in other contexts. It has mandatory RSR: Luck Rolls to reflect the variable strength of the Winds of Chaos (which power all Magic in that setting), and a side effect caused by rolling two or more dice of equal value (doubles, triples, etc).
  • ADEPTOLOGY: This Magic System uses a basically Cosmic Variable Power Pool and is extremely powerful. However, it has built in constraints based upon Active Point limits by type of Power, Talents that can only be taken at Character Creation, and Long Term Endurance accrual. Several variants are also provided:
    • VOLOMANCY: A very close variant, the primary differences between this and the base System is in the pricing of the Talents required, but lessened hampering restrictions.
    • THANOMANCY:  A version of Adeptology that fuels it's magic via the life forces of others.
    • URZADREK: A Divine, Ancestor worshipping religious version of Adeptology.
Skill Based Magic Systems
  • MAGECRAFT: This Magic System is based on the idea of buying Spell Skills as Skills that bundle a Power Construct, rather than buying the actual Spell effects as Powers. A fast, easy, fun, and efficient Magic System that is well suited to all levels of play, both HERO System newbies and seasoned veterans. It scales well across mid to high powered Magic (60+ AP average), but is not suitable for low powered Magic.
  • METRUVIUS: This Magic System is a hybrid Skill & Power model where characters buy Familiarities with base Power effects with no Modifiers on them (like 10d6 EB), and then buy Naked Power Advantages (NPA's) that have Limitations like Incantations, Gestures, etc to use upon the base Powers they have Familiarities for. A powerful and flexible system, but more complicated and not suitable for less rules savvy players. It scales very well across all levels of play.
  • VALIDUS FAMILIARITAS: This is a meta system of Magic that defines a model whereby characters purchase Familiarities with a set list of low Active Point Powers in a rigid stepped structure. An extremely easy to use and surprisingly effective sort of Magic.
    • PIEDRAGEMAS: Magic arranged into Gemstone sets, such as Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, etc. Each Gemstone set has five Powers unique to it. Piedragemasi can also make and use Charge Stones with gemstones holding one of the Gemstone Powers appropriate to that gemstone, which are essentially the equivalent to Wands in that they have finite Charges.
    • TOTEMIC SHAMANISM: Magic arranged into Totemic sets such as Raven, Wolf, Eagle, etc. Each Totem set has four Powers associated with it, with some overlap between Totems. There are also optional "Fantasy Totems" such as Dragon, Unicorn, Manticore, etc that have more than four Powers associated with them. There are also rules regarding special abilities, shape shifting, and exceptional Animal Companions that Totemic Shaman can also purchase for the Totems that they have mastered.
    • TOUBADOURUS: Magic arranged into Musical Instrument sets such as Drum, Lute, Harp, etc. Each Instrument set has 15 Powers unique to it.
  • SPELLWEAVING: This is a meta system of Magic that defines a model whereby characters purchase a 3/2 Power Skill for base Powers, like Energy Blast. For all intents and purposes, that Power Skill then serves as a VPP for effects built using that base Power, simply requiring a successful Skill Roll to activate. A set list of allowed Limitations can be taken on the effects cast grant bonuses to the Skill Roll, the variation of this list is the primary difference between variants of the system. However a system of penalties to the Skill Rolls keeps the system in check. It particularly excels at non-combat casting, though through the use of Triggered effects cast earlier and activated in combat, Spellweavers can still be combat viable.
    • DERWYDDA: A Druid oriented "Nature Magic" version of Spellweaving. Their list of allowed Limitations are Ritual, Window of Opportunity, Immobile Foci (Standing Stones), Incantations, and Concentration. Due to the large Limitation values of Ritual, WoO, and Immobile Foci, practitioners can cast Spells with extremely high Active Points when circumstances are correct, but have a much harder time casting Spells in combat or on the fly. Derwydds can also have a number of different Gifts, and can grant Gifts to others via the Transform Spell Skill.
    • ORDER OF ESOW: A Hermetic Magic oriented version of Spellweaving. Their list of allowed Limitations are Incantations, Gestures, Expendable Foci, Increased Endurance, Side Effect (Long Term Endurance). Expendable Material Components form an important part of this Magic System, as they are a key source of bonuses to Spell Skill Rolls.
    • BROTHERHOOD OF STAHRYC: A direct implementation of the base Spellweaving Rules, with flavor details and content.
Item Based Magic Systems
  • RUNECRAFTING: Practitioners of this Magic System don't cast Spells or have mystical abilities; instead they learn Runes that they can inscribe upon things to permanently infuse them with Magic. They can also inscribe temporary Runes that have a triggered effect, allowing them to create Glyphs of Warding, Symbols, and similar effects. A Runecrafter buys Familiarities for each Rune they know, and must have one or more craft based Professional Skills related to the various medias they know how to use as a palette for their Runes, such as PS: Engraving for Metal, PS: Sculpting for Stone,  and PS: Tattooing for Skin.
    • SCRIBAS: A limited variant of Runecrafting, Scribners can only make temporary Symbols on soft media like paper, cloth, and skin. However, they can do so quicker and more easily than a standard Runecrafter. One of the possible applications of this variant is for Wu Jen style casters that scribe upon paper to make a Spell effect.
    • GLYPHICS: A limited variant of Runecrafting, Glyphmakers can only draw or paint temporary Glyphs on stone, metal, and wood. However they can do so quicker and more easily than a standard Runecrafter, and also don't need any media skills as they merely use the surface of something as a canvas to mark upon.
  • STOBURU: Rather than learning to cast static Spells, practitioners of this Magic System instead learn to craft powerful magical Wands, Rods, Staffs, or other objects, into which they invest all of their Magical abilities. They are able to work terrible and mighty Magic in this fashion, but are woefully vulnerable to having their Foci taken or destroyed.