"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Monday, November 9, 2009

B/X S&S: The Sorcerer Class

Here is a draft sorcerer class. It is the B/X magic-user class with a modified spell check from Chainmail and a slightly modified spell list. You'll note that while there are some Monster Summoning spells in the spell list, there is a lack of AD&D-type spells to summon demons. I envision this type of magic to be instead from magic tomes, etc - stuff the sorcerer may find through adventuring. Also, this was the first time I have ever sat down with the Moldvay and Holmes basic rulebooks and compared low level spell lists. It was an interesting comparison.


Sorcerers are humans who, through study and practice, have learned how to cast magic spells. They gain their powers through careful study, travel to distant lands, gathering rare powders and plants, and having their agents search ancient ruins for objects of power hinted at in moldering texts.

The prime requisite for sorcerers is Intelligence. A sorcerer with an Intelligence of 13 or greater will gain a bonus to earned experience.

RESTRICTIONS: Sorcerers use four-sided dice (d4) to determine their hit points. They may not wear armour nor use shields and may only use weapons that do 1-4 damage.

SPECIAL ABILITIES: Sorcerers use many powerful spells. As they gain levels of experience, they also gain the ability to cast more and more powerful spells.

When a sorcerer casts a spell they have to make a Spell Check by rolling (2d6) plus their Intelligence modifier:

Spell....................Sorcerer Level.....................

Results: Delayed/Immediate
Natural 2 - The sorcerer suffers corruption. Each time this happens the sorcerer suffers a cumulative -1 penalty to all saving throws. The spell is lost from the sorcerers memory.

If the roll is less than the Delayed result the spell is negated and has no effect. It is lost from the sorcerer's mind.

Delayed - Spell delayed until next round.

Immediate - spell takes immediate effect.

Sorcerers must still prepare spells every morning per the Magic-User but do not forget spells when cast unless they fail the Spell Check.

[Note: I would also intend to use my very strict reading of the rules with regards to B/X spellbooks.]

Sorcerer Spell List
Level 1
Charm Person
Dancing Lights*
Detect Magic
Floating Disc
Hold Portal
Protection from Evil/Good
Read Languages
Read Magic

Level 2
Audible Glamer*
Continual Light/Darkness
Detect Evil
Detect Invisible
Locate Object
Mirror Image
Phantasmal Force
Ray of Enfeeblement*
Wizard Lock

Level 3
Dispel Magic
Explosive Runes*
Hold Person
Invisibility 10-ft
Monster Summoning 1*
Protection from Evil/Good 10-ft
Protection from Normal Missiles
Rope Trick*
Water Breathing

Level 4
Charm Monster
Curse/Remove Curse
Dimension Door
Growth of Plants
Hallucinatory Terrain
Lightening Bolt#
Monster Summoning II+
Polymorph Self
Wizard Eye

5th Level
Animate Dead
Cloud Kill
Conjure Elemental
Contact Higher Plane
Fire Ball#
Hold Monster
Magic Jar
Monster Summoning III+
Pass Wall
Transmute Rock to Mud/Mud to Rock

6th Level
Anti-Magic Shell
Death Spell
Geas/Remove Geas
Invisible Stalker
Legend Lore+
Lower Water
Monster Summoning IV+
Move Earth
Part Water
Projected Image
Polymorph Other#
Stone to Flesh/Flesh to Stone

* Spell from Holmes Basic D&D
+ Spell from OD&D Supplement 1: Greyhawk
^ see B/X Cleric spell of same name
# this spell has changed levels


  1. Interesting take on the S&S sorcerer! If you're curious, here is my own attempt at coming up with an appropriate magic-using class for the genre (using the S&W/0e rules): http://akraticwizardry.blogspot.com/2009/07/magicians-and-colours-of-magic.html

  2. I like the Spell Check mechanic, but I think your ordinary gamer might object to the spell choices. S&S without the cruel curses, blights, and magic fires? Every sorcerer would be cut down by the first Conan clone they meet.

  3. @ labsenpai-
    To me this spell list has those. A 1st level sorcerer can take over Conan-clone's mind with a charm spell, put him to sleep or cast him into darkness.
    At 3rd level the sorcerer can read his mind, curse him with weakness or assault him with images to terrifying to withstand.
    At 5th level the sorcerer can paralyze him, summon fiends to attack him or overcome his mind with a suggestion.

    I think this list has the S&S tropes covered and still keeps some of the iconic D&D spells such as fireball by making it a higher level spell.

  4. True, but why not just be a regular Wizard and have a "fumble-free" Charm Person, if you need that skewering sword to go slack? Sadly, I've seen players that "ditch" their primary ability if it goes awry too much (caster-with-crossbow syndrome). Maybe there could be a "favored" spell the PC could select, or a benefit from high INT?

  5. Um...
    Because this would be for a Sword & Sorcery inspired game where there is no regular magic-user.

  6. However, you have made me realize that I wanted to include the INT modifier in the spell check roll. I will have to rework the numbers in the table.

  7. One question I have: once you reach tenth level, you no longer forget first level spells (since they are never negated), and likewise second level spells at thirteenth level? Was it to be understood that when you get a natural two that the spell is negated, or do you still complete the spell but with corruption?

    I am also interested if you do any special magic item rules, like the ones for Savage Swords of Athanor, using the ego rules for magic swords for many powerful magic items. I'd be interested in other takes on that idea.

  8. Restless - I am currently reworking the Spell Check table, but that is correct - at high levels the only way to loose the spell is by rolling a natural 2.

    As for magic items - that will be a future post.

  9. There - the Spell Check table has been reworked.

  10. I'm thinking this is way too harsh. Basically, a sorcerer can expect, on average, to suffer from a -1 to all saves for every 35 or spells cast. Is there someway to reverse this corruption of is the aime to force sorcerers to hang it up around 7th level or so?

  11. I wasn't planning on any means to reverse it. There may be magic items that could do it.

    Honestly, as per the genre, it is really designed so that there aren't many PC sorcerers. The saving throw penalty for NPC sorcerers isn't nearly as big of a deal since a party made up mostly of fighters and the like aren't going to cause him to make many saving throws.

    Using ancient arcane magic should be the last resort for PC sorcerers. With GP=XP, the more GPs you can get by threatening to cast a spell vs actually casting a spell the better off you will be.

    The big thing a PC sorcerer brings to the table is the ability to use the terrifying magic-user only magic items which do not require a Spell Check.

  12. Can Atlanteans use those same magic-user only items? Also, do priests or Atlanteans suffer corruption?

  13. Atlanteans would use the same rules as sorcerers (just like elves in B/X) - so yes they could use magic-user magic items and do face corruption.

    Priests don't have corruption but they have their own drawbacks.

  14. This is a very cool class...um, one question:

    "Sorcerers must still prepare spells every morning per the Magic-User but do not forget spells when cast unless they fail the Spell Check."

    Does this mean a 1st level character could cast his/her one spell an unlimited number of times, as long as he/she continued to pass the spell check? That's pretty badass.
    ; )

  15. Looking at the chart from Chainmail, I noticed that there's a gap between Delay and Negated, which to me suggests there should be a result where the sorcerer fails to cast the spell, but doesn't forget the spell.