Five Color Magic

Last week I wondered aloud about the possibility of reorganizing the spell lists and spellcaster classes into five schools or spheres based loosely on that one card game. As I’ve thought about it some more and got my son involved, we’ve come to like the idea more and more. So, without further ado, here is the list of spell levels 1 through 5 in PDF form:

Five Color Magic by Lord Kilgore

Five Color Magic - Free PDF

There are, I think, a lot of benefits to doing something along these lines. Most of all, it gives five fairly equally-playable classes instead of four where one (the druid) is often seen as out of place and another (the illusionist) is often not viable. Plus it solves the issue of “just what is the cleric class doing in the game, anyway?” which has always bugged me a bit. Rather than one powerful spellcaster and one supporting cast member, there are five flavors of adventuring wizard, each with strengths and weaknesses.

I should say that this list is not exaclty what we’ve come up with for our own game. We’ve added a few spells (such as a full complement of cure wounds spells) and some other minor tweaking along the way. I wanted a fairly standard list for others, though, so I’ve removed our own spells and used the standard names from Labyrinth Lord’s Advanced Edition Companion.

One thing we’ve done on our own list is to slightly adjust the spell’s flavor to better suit the color it ended up in. For instance, in our list the illusionist spell obscuring mist is in the red list so we changed it to obscuring smoke to better match red’s theme of fire. And some of the overtly-religious spells have also been re-named while keeping the same mechanical effect. Bless, for instance, became rally.

Some of the slotting decisions were arbitrary, and no doubt others will want to adjust things to their liking before giving it a try. Our own list is still in a state of flux and will probably continue to be so for some time as we keep tinkering. One thing that I did leave in from our take are the separate elemental conjuration spells (as the druid handles it) rather than the all-in-one conjure elemental magic-user spell. Splitting up the conjuration and banishment of elementals from the various elemental planes really plays to the strength of the color-based system, so I included it here.

Our basic idea is to use five wizard classes, one for each color. A wizard will only be able to cast spells of his own color or from the “colorless” list which consists of general magical function spells. An optional idea is to allow wizards of higher levels to begin getting access to lower-level spells from the two sympathetic colors (white and red for green, for instance). We haven’t quite worked out how we’ll manage that.

Another thing we’ve been thinking about is making spells of seventh-level and above require cooperative casting by wizards from two or more colors.

One thing I should say is that this does not at all, I think, turn D&D into some sort of Magic: The Roleplaying Game. The spells themselves remain the same as in the original game and the number cast per day is unchanged. This is simply an attempt to look at an alternative class system for spellcasting adventurers.

Take a look if interested and, by all means, give me some feedback on this. It has gone from something done out of curiosity to something that is looking more and more worthwhile to use in our game. In fact, my son’s enthusiasm for the idea has us working on taking some of these ideas beyond just the magic system and re-tooling our homebrew game in a more significant manner. I’ll have more on that in the near future if we keep at it.

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