I’ve been thinking about spellcasting in my hack of the Dragon Age RPG for a while. One thing that I’d like to include is differentiation between different types of spellcasters rather than having a single mage class. In particular, I want to represent different types of spellcasters from D&D in AGE so that there is a magical distinction between wizards, sorcerers, and pact mages (clerics, druids, warlocks).
Lores of Magic
One important change for spellcasting that I’m making is that rather than using the schools of magic from Dragon Age, I’ll instead be grouping spells into theme-based lores of magic. For example, some of the lores that I’m planning are Flames, Frost, Life, Death, and Storms. This is a similar approach to what I’ve used for my Diablo-themed Age of Terror.
Wizards are spell casters who approach magic as a scholarly pursuit. They are able to cast a wide range of spells but are required to prepare spells before casting them. Preparing spells requires a wizard to spend an hour studying a written copy of the spells they wish to prepare. A wizard has a limited number of spells that they can have prepared at a given time, but can cast each prepared spell any number of times without needing to prepare it again as long as they have enough mana available. As a wizard becomes more experienced, they can have more spells prepared at one time.
Some wizards can also cast spells directly from scrolls or spellbooks without preparing the spell in advance. This increases the difficulty of casting the spell and increases the casting time to a minimum of 1 minute.
Sorcerers are able to cast spells without any sort of preparation, but they are limited to a small number of known spells. This makes sorcerers less flexible than wizards, but they often have more known spells than a wizard of similar experience can prepare at a time and more mana available to cast those spells. As a sorcerer becomes more experienced, they are able to learn additional spells.
Some sorcerers are able to master minor spells so that they can cast them without paying any mana. Others gain access to innate magical effects that they can power with their mana, such as a dragonblooded sorcerer’s breath weapon.
Pact mages are spellcasters who make a pact with a more powerful entity in order to gain access to spells. A patron can be a deity, an elemental lord, a forest spirit, a demon prince, an ancient dragon, or even a powerful mortal wizard or sorcerer. Their pacts often grant access to only certain lores of magic. For example, a pact with a god of the sun might give a mage access to only fire, light, and healing spells. Pact mages must commune with their patron in order to be granted spells, but unlike wizards don’t require access to written copies of the spells they request. Pact mages often have far less mana available to them at a time than wizards or sorcerers, but they can request more mana from their patrons as needed. Pact mages also are able to use a single Magic (Channeling) skill for all spellcasting rather than needing to master a different skill for each lore of magic.
One important aspect for pact mages is that their power can be denied by their patron if they fall out of favor (or lost if something unfortunate happens to the patron).
In addition to spells, characters can gain innate magical effects. Many of these effects cost mana points to use, but unlike spells they don’t use spellcasting skills. For example, a character might be able to channel their magical energy into attacks. In this case, they would spend mana points to make their attack more powerful, but the only skill check for the action would be their normal Dexterity (Weaponskill) check to hit with the attack. These innate magical abilities are each a single specific effect and lack the flexibility afforded to spellcasting.