School Colors Out Of Space: Sample Spells

Here are thirteen of the more commonly used spells, written out in detail as examples and seeds for creating your own. Feel free to change the names and details of these spells at will; there is no ISO standard for thaumaturgical nomenclature.

Remember, however, that when a spell says the effects depend on your Mojo, it's the lesser of your maximum Mojo or your current Mojo plus your magical Knack, and that monsters never lose Sanity for casting or witnessing spells.

Call <higher power>

The central spell of every "Worship <higher power>" magic system, Call <higher power> brings that Great Old One or Outer God to visit you in an embodied form (provided you are in an appropriate location or situation for the GOO in question, sacrifice 1 point of Mojo, and engage in appropriate rites costing 1 Sanity to all participants and possibly to onlookers). The power will then do as it pleases; you get to ask a favor, but there's nothing to say it will be granted. However, if the favor you ask is in accordance with the GOO's general aims, your chances are a lot better. Which is to say, summoning Shub-Niggurath to help you score with your date will go over a lot better than summoning her to help you strip-mine a tract of virgin forest.

GOOs rarely stick around for long, but there is no guarantee that casting this spell will not result in your patron deity following you around and offering pointed criticism of your actions for the rest of the adventure.

If you're monster, and your Standing comes from the GOO summoned, you have the option of calling "just to say hi". This requires a roll of Standing (Worship <higher power> is not added) against a difficulty of 0; if successful, you get all your Sanity back, and if your outcome is more than 5, you get back a point of Standing if you were missing any. If you fail the roll, you lose as much Standing as you failed it by, and if this reduces your Standing to 0, you are carried off by the GOO ("grounded").

Yes, you do have to specify which GOO the spell affects when you take the spell; you can't summon a different one with each casting.

Effect 6: GOOs are not to be trifled with
Target 1: affects one GOO
Range 2: the GOO need not be present
Duration 0: once the GOO arrives, it can leave whenever it wants
Restriction -1: must be in an appropriate location/situation
Wimp -2: the GOO is not under control of the caster
Total 6: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

Chant of Thoth

Possibly the best spell ever invented, the Chant of Thoth gives you that which magicians cheerfully sacrifice their friends for: information. And it only costs 1 Sanity and 1 Mojo!

The Chant gives you the answer to one question, which must be concrete, not hypothetical, and cannot see into the future. So, you can't ask "How can I rescue the princess?" nor "Will I successfully rescue the princess?", but you can ask "Where is the princess?" or "How is the princess guarded?". You can ask what someone thinks about something, but you will get their actual thought patterns, which costs an extra point of Sanity, and one more if they're of the other realm. If this drives you insane, it's up to the GM whether you remember any of it afterwards. This Sanity loss does apply to monsters, even though they lose no Sanity for just casting the spell.

Beware: if your question is not specific enough, you may not get the answer to the question in the sense you meant it. Describing people by some attribute instead of by proper name is the most common example of this sort of error: if you ask about "the man in black" you will almost certainly not get an answer relevent to the man in black you were thinking of.

Asking questions about Great Old Ones or Outer Gods generally loses you all your Sanity, even if you're a monster.

Effect 2: informational only
Target 0: only you get the information directly
Range 0: ditto
Duration 2: lasts until you forget what you learned
Extra Keen 2: you can ask questions about almost anything
Total 6: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

Chime of Tezchaptl

Not as keen as the Chant of Thoth, but still darn useful, a Chime of Tezchaptl, when rung, dispels an existing enchantment or magical effect. Each casting of the spell produces one chime, which remains good until you ring it, at which point it shatters.

To see if the chime works properly, roll your Mojo + magical Knack +3 against a difficulty of the Mojo + magical Knack of whoever cast the spell to begin with. If you're dispelling your own spell, you get another +3 bonus, making it pretty much automatic. If you know there is more than one spell nearby, you get to pick which one you want to affect, but the chime does not reveal spells you didn't already know about.

Someone else can use a chime you made, but in that case they use their own Mojo and Knack, without the +3 bonus, and if there is more than one spell the chime could affect, it affects a random one.

Effect 4: matches your Mojo against the other mage's
Target 1: affects one spell
Range 0: the spell must be in your presence
Duration 0: no continuing effect: either the spell breaks, or it doesn't
Extra Keen 1: +3 to your Mojo for breaking spells
Total 6: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

Fly

Handy for mages who are too weird to get driver's licenses, the Fly spell carries you and a small group of people through the air or even through space. To find out how fast you travel, subtract 1 from your Mojo and then see how fast that many points of Travel By Air would go. If the result is 4 or more (ie, your Mojo is 5 or more) you can also Travel In Space. Everyone carried by the spell is protected from the effects of high altitude or vacuum while the spell is in effect, but the protection, like the movement ends when you land.

Everyone affected by the spell gets to move independently, but everyone has to stay within a few meters of you, so you get to control the overall course of the journey.

Effect 4: duplicates the Power Travel By Air
Target 2: affects you and your friends
Range 0: your friends have to be right there
Duration 1: lasts until you land
Wimp -1: everyone has to stay together
Total 7: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

French Kiss of Father Dagon

This spell lets you give your friends gills and webbed feet so they can travel underwater with you, provided you can already do so. The hitch is, you have to kiss the recipients of the spell, and you have to do so within one minute after you finish casting it.

It has to be a real kiss, not just a peck (though tongue is not required), so you can, under optimum circumstances, only kiss one person per round, or twelve in one minute. It is not likely that circumstances will be optimum, however; you will probably have to make Sanity rolls to kiss (or to stop kissing!) some of the recipients, and there may be additional Sanity loss from the kissing, above and beyond the 1 Sanity for sprouting gills and webbing.

Effect 4: duplicates the Power Travel Underwater
Target 2: affects as many people as you can smooch in one minute
Range 0: recipient has to be within smooching range...
Duration 1: lasts until the recipient stops breathing water
Wimp -1: only duplicates a 1-point Power
Requirement 0: you have to smooch the recipient
Limitation -1: must already be able to Travel Underwater
Total 5: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

Nibble Likeness

In the old days, "Consume Likeness" was a popular spell, but in these nutritionally-enlightened days, sorcerers are aware that it's just too fattening.

The lite version of the spell, Nibble Likeness, allows you to assume the form of any person or other creature of roughly the same size, provided you first bite the victim (and expend a point of Mojo). The bite has to be hard enough to leave tooth (or whatever) marks, so won't go unnoticed, but the motive for the bite can certainly be disguised.

Anytime within 24 hours after biting a victim, you may assume her form for up to one hour. Only your body changes; clothing and accessories will have to be obtained some other way. If the likeness is not used within 24 hours, it expires and will have to be re-nibbled. The victim is immune to further uses of this spell until the 24 hours have elapsed, regardless of whether you actually use her form.

The maximum number of forms you can have stored up is equal to your monstrous Competence; if you bite another person after that, the GM secretly notes down which of your other forms gets lost, and you get a nasty surprise later.

You lose one point of Sanity when you assume someone else's form with this spell. Your victim does not automatically lose any Sanity, but meeting "herself" is probably worth a point.

Effect 4: doesn't affect Abilities directly, but is clearly not Overwhelming
Target 0: caster only
Range 0: caster only
Duration 1: continues for an hour
Extra Keen 1: can 'store up' multiple forms
Limitation -1: can only imitate people you've bitten
Total 5: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

Nyarlathotep's Mercurochrome

At the moment you complete this spell, a horrible blob of sizzling red-violet slime plummets from interstellar space and splats all over the target, stinging like bloody hell, permanently staining her clothes, and incidentally restoring her Fighting to maximum (modulo curses and other nonphysical reductions in Fighting).

Although effective, this spell is so amazingly painful that anyone who has undergone it once must make a Sanity roll against a difficulty of 4 to willingly undergo it again. Anyone who has problems with helplessness, pain, or slime will probably lose an extra point of Sanity from being held down and forcibly Mercurochromed.

There is a variant of this spell, called Nyarlathotep's Multifarious Mercurochrome, which affects an entire small group, and costs a point of Mojo.

Effect 4:
Target 1 (2): affects one person (small group for the variant)
Range 0: target has to be right there
Duration 0: once healed, you're not protected from further abuse
Inconvenient -1: requires a Sanity roll or a brawl
Total 4 (5): 1 Sanity, 0 (1) Mojo

Open Gate

This is the monstrous equivalent of hotwiring a car for a joyride: opening a Gate out of season, or to an abnormal destination (okay, so no Gate goes to a normal destination, but you know what we mean), which can be lots of fun but tends to get the long tentacle of the law reaching out after you.

The difficulty of hotwiring a Gate is up to the GM, but shouldn't be too high: 6 for opening a Gate out of Season or to a slightly different destination, 9 for changing it to a wildly different destination, or something like that.

The other thing this spell will do is locate a Gate. Usually it points to the nearest one, but if you can specify another one sufficiently well, you might be able to find that instead. Of course, if you know much about that other Gate, you probably already know where it is.

The Mojo cost for this spell is in addition to any Mojo cost for operating the Gate itself.

Effect 4: powerful, but somewhat voluntary
Target 2: a Gate is usually a small area
Range 0: you have to be at the Gate to open it
Duration 1: the Gate remains open as long as you keep it open
Extra Keen 1: can be used to locate a gate at range
Total 8: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

Plaid Binding of Amen-Broh

The Plaid Binding is the ancient weapon of monster hunters, used to inextricably bind a monster to a place or object, where it will never again be able to wreak havoc among humans (at least, not until someone releases it for the sequel).

Sadly, the Plaid Binding cannot be cast from a safe distance, so you'll need some friends to keep the monster from eating you while you cast the spell. Safer still is to beat the living daylights out of the monster and cast the spell while it's recovering, but if you can do that, you hardly need the spell.

The Binding is permanent, unless something horribly unlikely happens, like the object gets destroyed or another mage comes along and unbinds the monster in exchange for a date, or an archaeologist deciphers the hieroglyphics, or something like that.

PCs can be bound; that's when they find out who their friends are.

Effect 6: monster is bound, period
Target 1: binds one monster
Range 0: you have to be right in the monster's, er, face
Duration 2:
Total 9: 1 Sanity, 2 Mojo

Raise the Hungry Dead

A traditional spell of long standing (that would explain the smell...), Raise The Hungry Dead is commonly used by sorcerers to make undead servants to perform menial tasks and eat brains. It raises one zombie from the grave, which will obey all instructions of the caster until it is reduced to 0 Fighting, at which point it crumbles to dust. Smelly dust.

The zombie has Fighting equal to the caster's Mojo, all other Abilities of 1, and +2 resistance bonus. It has no Knacks except Obey Orders Implacably +4, but might use a weapon at its base Fighting. It is obviously a zombie, and might cause Sanity loss to viewers not accustomed to the smell of the dead walking.

Effect 6: the zombie is about 20 points, so too large for a major effect
Target 1: affects one zombie
Range 0: must be cast at the gravesite
Duration 2: lasts until the zombie gets trashed
Extra Keen 2: the zombie can go off and ravage independently
Extra Keen 1: people attacked by the zombie might lose Sanity as well
Wimp -2: the effect isn't really overwhelming: the zombie can be fought off fairly easily
Wimp -1: smells really bad
Requirement -1: needs a dead body
Total 8: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

Release The Postal Worker Within

This spell transforms the recipient into a horrific ravening monster, just as if they had the Power Monster Out at a level equal to your Mojo. If you have more than 4 Mojo, the excess points go into Tough or Big Sharp Scary Claws, whichever seems more appropriate.

If you cast this spell on someone who already has the Power Monster Out, they just assume their regular monstrous form, because getting to add the two would be Just Plain Wrong.

Effect 4: duplicates the Power Monster Out
Target 1: affects one person
Range 1: caster can be at a safe distance
Duration 1: lasts until the victim's inner rage is sated
Total 7: 1 Sanity, 1 Mojo

Seething Weasels of the Tenebrous Chasm

Upon the casting of this spell (which costs 2 Mojo), a huge swarm of writhing, chittering, sinuous creatures pours out of the ground at your feet and sets about devouring everything in the area. Anyone caught by the weasels loses Fighting equal to a roll of the dice minus their resistance bonus (minimum loss 0, of course). Although the weasels can climb like bugs, and can leap surprisingly high, they cannot fly and cannot swim. They are perfectly happy to devour inanimate objects. The swarm remains in action for a number of rounds equal to your Mojo, then vanishes as mysteriously as it came.

When casting the spell, you may designate a small group of people to be exempt from the weaseling. This group may include you but doesn't have to.

Anyone who sees the horrible infestation of weasels loses 1 Sanity, even if they are exempt, even if it's you.

Effect 4: does damage, but can be resisted by Fighting
Target 3: swarm of weasels spreads far and wide
Range 0: swarm starts at caster
Duration 1: lasts several rounds
Extra Keen 2: a small group of people can be exempted
Limitation -1: the weasels are indiscriminate
Limitation 0: everyone exposed loses 1 Sanity, even if exempt from weaseling
Total 9: 1 Sanity, 2 Mojo

Shrivelling

With this spell, you can wither up your enemies, sucking the very life-force out of them. Anyone you cast the spell on loses Fighting and Appeal equal to your Mojo; if this reduces them to 0 Fighting, they're paralyzed or at least bed-ridden, and if it reduces them to 0 Appeal, well, they're real ugly.

You can cast this spell at your leisure and keep it saved up until you spot your victim, at which point you can sic it on them with a single action. The stored spell dissipates after a day and has to be recast, but that's usually not a problem. You can only have one instance of the spell saved up.

The shrivelling lasts for one day for each point of Mojo you have.

Effect 4: reduces victim's Fighting by your Mojo
Target 1: shrivels one victim
Range 1: you have to see the victim
Duration 1: lasts for a number of days equal to your Mojo
Extra Keen 1: you can hold the spell in reserve until you see your victim
Extra Keen 2: also reduces victim's Appeal
Total 10: 2 Sanity, 1 Mojo


Sanity and Mojo Costs

The Sanity and Mojo costs for a spell depend, at least in theory, on how powerful it is. The power of a spell is quantified as its level, which is the sum of several aspects.

Effect:

Target:

Range:

Duration:

Convenience

Inconvenience:

The total will be somewhere between, in theory, 1 and about 15. Divide this by 4 (round up) and add 1, to find the total Sanity and Mojo loss from casting the spell. If the result is even, divide it equally between Sanity and Mojo; if it's odd, assign the extra point as seems appropriate for the spell.

Quick reference chart:

Spell Level Sanity Loss Mojo Loss Extra Loss
(to assign)
1-4 0 0 1
5-8 1 1 -
9-12 1 1 1
13-16 2 2 -

This file was last modified at 1635 on 22Jun99 by trip@idiom.com.