03 - Magic

Magic can be one of the more challenging things to define in Hero because of the sheer volume of options. There is no one right way to cast spells, build spells, or design a magic system. I chose one of the defined systems from Fantasy Hero as the basis for all spellcasting, arcane and divine. This is meant to be a good solid system and a starting point. There are 16 magic systems defined in Fantasy Hero, and many more on the internet created by fans. Your campaign can be as unique as you want it to be. The goal with the system I chose was to be able to open the Hero System Grimoire to any page and simply cast a spell without modification. I think I have achieved this goal while maintaining some difference in feel and flavor for wizardry and channeling.


The magic system used here is a variant of many of the systems presented FH with some small tweaks that we will call, quite generically, Magic. There is no distinction between the spells granted by the gods and the spells learned through tomes. However, certain guilds do not teach certain Arcana just as certain religious orders do not receive certain Arcana from their gods. Both may even have restrictions on which Arcana are allowed even if learned elsewhere.

All spells fall into one of the following Arcana. Each Arcana requires a separate Power Skill based on EGO with a cost of 3/2. The cost of the spell (Real Points) must be accounted for in the character's Resource Pool.
  1. Alchemy (FHG 8)
  2. Arcanomancy (FHG 22)
    • Requires Arcane Sight
    • Includes appropriate Theurgy spells (FHG 289) by guild
  3. Black Magic (FHG 47)
  4. Chaos Magic (FHG 62)
  5. Conjuration (FHG 67)
  6. Divination (FHG 83)
  7. Divine Magic (FHG 87)
    • Requires Channeling
    • Includes appropriate Theurgy spells (FHG 289) by religion
    • Includes Spells of Light & Shadow (FHG 151)
  8. Druidry (FHG 101)
    • Includes Pestilence Magic (PDF)
  9. Elemental Magic: Air (FH 117)
    • Includes Spells of Lightning (PDF)
    • Includes Desert Magic (PDF) using the lower of Air or Earth skills
  10. Elemental Magic: Earth (FHG 124)
    • Includes Spells of Lava (PDF) using the lower of Earth or Fire skills
    • Includes Spells of Acid (PDF) using the lower of Earth or Water skills
  11. Elemental Magic: Fire (FHG 133)
  12. Elemental Magic: Water (FHG 143)
    • Includes Spells of Ice & Cold (FHG 148) using the lower of Water or Air skills
  13. Necromancy (FHG 179)
  14. Professional Magic (FHG 207)
    • Each Category is a separate skill (Craftsman & Merchant, Rogue, Warrior)
  15. Ranger Magic (PDF)
  16. Rune Magic (FHG 217)
  17. Shamanism (FHG 228)
    • Requires Druidry
  18. Song Magic (FHG 245)
  19. Sorcery (FHG 253)
  20. Thaumaturgy (FHG 281)
  21. Warrior-Magery (FHG 331)
  22. Witchcraft (FHG 337)
  23. Wizardry (FHG 346)
    • Requires Arcane Sight
    • Includes Spells of Light & Shadow (FHG 151)

Personal Focus

All casters must have a Personal Focus. This focus provides the caster with the energy necessary to cast a spell. He cannot cast without his focus unless he develops the Custom Skill: Spell Mastery skill.
  1. All spells are built (in FHG) with an Expendable Focus. Use of the Expendable Focus during casting grants a +1 to the Magic Skill roll. 
    1. The cost to obtain these foci is Active Point of the spell multiplied by the following:
      1. Easy = 5 cp per Active Point; Village 12-, Town 14-, City 16-
      2. Difficult = 1 sp per Active Point; Village 10-, Town 12-, City 14-
      3. Very Difficult = 5 sp per Active Point; Village 8-, Town 10-, City 12-
      4. Extremely  Difficult  = 1 gp per Active Point; Village n/a, Town 8-, City 10-
  2. A Personal Focus is built as an Endurance Reserve with the desired Focus Limitation
    1. Maximum END = EGO x 3
    2. Maximum REC = EGO x 0.5
    3. REC must have the Slow Recovery Limitation at 1 Minute (-1)
    4. Focus can be:
      • OAF (Durable): Staff; must be this size to be durable
      • OAF (Breakable): Rod or hand weapon
      • OAF (Fragile): Wand, instrument
      • OIF (Durable): Ring, helmet
      • OIF (Breakable): Amulet, crown
      • OIF (Fragile): Necklace, circlet, or even a tattoo
Arcane Focus  (40 END, 10 REC) Reserve:  OAF (Durable Staff -1); REC:  Slow Recovery 1 Minute (-1); 9 Real Points

Complex Powers

The following powers are considered Complex for purposes of the Powers Guideline:
  • Absorption 
  • Barrier 
  • Cannot Be Stunned 
  • Characteristics 
  • Clinging 
  • Damage Negation 
  • Damage Reduction 
  • Deflection 
  • Density Increase 
  • Desolidification 
  • Enhanced Senses 
  • Extra Limbs 
  • Flash Defense 
  • Flight 
  • Growth 
  • Invisibility 
  • Knockback Resistance 
  • Leaping 
  • Life Support 
  • Luck 
  • Mental Defense 
  • Mind Link 
  • Multiform 
  • No Hit Locations 
  • Power Defense 
  • Regeneration 
  • Resistant Protection 
  • Running 
  • Shape Shift 
  • Shrinking 
  • Skills 
  • Stretching 
  • Swimming 
  • Swinging 
  • Takes No STUN 
  • Teleportation 
  • Tunneling 

Casting Spells

Casting a spell is done without any skill roll if the Active Points of the spell are equal to the Powers Guideline (Standard Active or Complex Active) based on the Magic Skill level in the Arcana. Index the skill level on the chart (not the character's total points as for all other guidelines) to determine the caster's limit.

Eltar has a Chaos Magic skill level of 14-. This allows him to safely cast any spell of 60 Active Points or less. 

If the character wishes to cast a spell that has a greater Active Point value than this limit, he must succeed at a Magic Skill roll (with that Arcana) that includes a penalty -1 plus -1 per 20 Active Points (or fraction thereof) of the spell. Failure on this roll costs him the regular END cost of the spell plus an equal amount of STUN Drain (recovers per Minute). 

Spellcasting Modifiers

Extra Time: One Step down on the Time Chart is worth a +1 bonus. 
Blood Magic: Each 1 BODY consumed by the spell adds +2 to the roll. This BODY cannot be magically healed, but recovers at the normal rate of REC/Month.
Expendable Focus: Adds +1. 
Arcane Sight: If the caster has Arcane Sight and he may use his Inventor (Spellcraft)  skill to complement his spellcasting for a maximum of +1. However, if combined with Extra Time, the bonus follows the normal rules for Complementary Skills.

Arcane Sight

Arcane Sight is the ability of a wizard to perceive magic in the world around him. This sense is linked to his vision and thus a part of the Sight Group. Some Arcana require this ability.

Adept (5 points): Detect. Since it is part of the Sight Group it has built in Sense, Range, and Targeting, but is affected by anything that can affect the wizard’s normal sight (such as blindness, flash, etc.). Magical objects can be perceived in normal darkness (with standard vision penalties), but cannot be perceived through the Darkness power. 
Mage (10 points): Discriminatory. The mage can now read the subtleties of the magic associated with an object, spell, or person.
Archmage (15 points): Analyze. 
Magus (20 points): Partially Penetrative (through darkness and dead material construction,not through living rock or lead). 
Archmagus (25 points): Fully Penetrative (not through living rock or lead.
Arcanist (30 points): Tracking. The arcanist can follow the trail left by any magical creature or effect.

Channel Energy

Channel Energy is the ability of the cleric to directly channel the power of his god. Some Arcana require this ability.

The base ability is built as a multipower with two slots: one for Healing Energy and the other for Positive Energy. Clerics aligned with darker powers would choose Killing Energy and Negative Energy instead.

Channel Energy: Multipower, all slots OAF (Holy Symbol; -1), Increased Endurance Cost (x2 END; -1/2), Extra Time (Full Phase, -1/2), Only When Serving The God's Purposes (-1/2)
  • Healing Energy: Aid STUN 2d6, Area Of Effect (8m Radius; +½); 4 END
  • Positive Energy: HKA* 1 point, Area Of Effect (8m Radius; +½ ), Attack Versus Alternate Defense (Power Defense; +1), Does BODY (+1); Undead Only (-1); 4 END
  • Negative Energy: Aid BODY 2d6, Area Of Effect (8m Radius; +½), Undead Only (-1);4 END
  • Killing Energy: HKA* 1 point, Area Of Effect (8m Radius; +½ ), Attack Versus Alternate Defense (Power Defense; +1), Does BODY (+1); Living Creatures Only (-½); 4 END
  • * HKA: If the cleric has a PRE of 17 or higher, add +1 DC to the damage. If he has 34 PRE add +2 DC.
Initiate (7 points): Aid 2d6 and HKA 1 point; 4 END each. 
Acolyte (12 points): Aid 4d6 and HKA ½d6; 8 END each. 
Priest (18 points): Aid 6d6 and HKA 1d6; 10 END each. 
Curate (24 points): Aid 8d6 and HKA 1d6+1; 14 END each. 
Elder (30 points): Aid 10d6 and HKA 1 ½d6; 18 END each. 
Heirophant (36 points): Aid 12d6 and HKA 2d6; 22 END and 20 END. 

Complementary Skills for Magic

Analyze Magic - this skill is used to understand what is perceived with Arcane Sight, as well as to identify any magical item or effect at -1 per 10 active points of effect as a half-phase action (extra time is allowed); only one attempt per day. Adepts are at a -6 to identify magic items, while Mages are at at -3 due to the level of enhanced sense they posses. KS: Arcana can complement this roll.

Combat Skill Levels:
  • OCV w/ Single Spell (2 pts)
  • Single Arcana (3 pts)
  • All Magic (5 pts)
  • 8-point All Ranged or All HTH, 10-point All Atacks, and 12-point Overall skill levels can apply where appropriate.
  • CSLs can be allocated to the casting roll if the spell is a combat spell
  • CSLs can increase DCV against spell attacks
Custom Skill: Spell Mastery - a wizard may buy off Gestures or Incantations for 1 point each. He may also remove the dependency on his focus such that he may use his personal END as well as that of his focus. Removing the Focus limitation has a cost of Active Points/10.  He can never buy off all three. This skill must be bought per spell.

Inventor (Spellcraft) - the ability to create and define new magics. Can also compliment Analyze Magic when trying to understand anomylous (i.e. not covered by KS: Arcana) effects.

KS: Arcana - knowledge of all things concerning magic, magical theory, and magical effects.
KS: History - knowledge of all things in the past.
KS: Magical World - knowledge of who’s who, current events, and magical society.
KS: Nobility - knowledge of noble society and matters of state.
KS: Planes - knowledge of extra planar creatures such as demons, devils, elementals, and extra planar effects (e.g. teleportation, desolidification, etc.).
KS: Religion - knowledge of all things associated with religion in general.