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How I'm Handling Magic

No deep analysis this time, just jotting down ideas for my Into the Odd campaign...

How magic works

  • Will keep Into the Odd classless and keep the "all magic is items" idea from Arcanum.
  • Characters receive spellbooks in place of arcanum during character generation.
  • Like in Odditional Materials, Knave, etc. a single spell is contained in a single spellbook.
  • Must be carrying the book in hand to cast the spell.
  • Each spellbook can only be used once per day.
  • Trying to pull additional daily uses from a book is considered "risky casting" -- possibility of spell miscast.
  • No spell levels, as described in Vaginas are Magic and Wonder & Wickedness.
  • If the flavor text describes a material component, it is required and will take up inventory space.

Spell lists

  • Wonder & Wickedness
  • Marvels & Mallisons
  • Vaginas are Magic
  • James Edward Raggi IV's Eldritch Cock (if I can ever get a copy)
  • Level-less conversions of spells from Better Than Any Man
  • Level-less conversions of any spells referenced in A Red & Pleasant Land that don't have equivalents in the above
  • Level-less conversions of any spells referenced in other adventures I end up running that don't have equivalents in the above
  • LotFP "Summon" spell
  • A Spell Called Catherine (
Probably also use some of the level-less spells from Knave.

Snakes are books

As described in Vornheim, Frostbitten & Mutilated, and, the skins of all serpents are books. Skins of especially rare or powerful serpents are spellbooks.

Further ideas:
  • Snake books create new truths about reality.
  • Spells are the result of particularly paradoxical truths.
  • Reality allows all intelligent creatures to instinctively read the written words of snakes.
  • Speaking the written words of snakes enforces their truth on reality.
  • For mundane truths (e.g. kiwis are small, brown birds), the result is mundane. Reality continues along.
  • For paradoxical truths, the result is the casting of the spell. Reality is bent as this truth is forced upon it.
  • Spells may only be "safely" spoken once per day.
  • Speaking a spell more than once per day is "risky casting" -- its paradoxical truth encroaches too much on reality, risking a spell catastrophe.
  • Reality allows intelligent creatures to write the words of snakes to a physical book when reading directly from a snake book.
  • When written into a physical book, all words are removed from the snake book. Its truth -- and therefore, its power -- has been entirely moved over.
  • This is how all spellbooks are created.
  • The words of snakes may still be read from a physical book, but reality no longer allows it to be written. The idea of doing so does not exist in reality.
  • In short, a snake book can only ever create one spellbook. And a spellbook may never be copied. Reality simply does not allow for it.
I probably need to come up with a dice roll to determine whether a given serpent is a spellbook or not. Something like: d20 + HD of serpent; high result is a spellbook?

What I like about this

  • Good explanation for why spells are tied to spellbooks
  • Good reason to go on quests: find new snake spellbooks
  • Finding a snake spellbook and writing it to a physical spellbook could be equivalent to researching a spell, i.e. give the player an opportunity to insert a new spell into the campaign
  • Makes magic weird -- built into and twists the laws of this reality

Magic items

The ability to write truths from snakes to objects besides books -- thereby creating magic items -- is a long forgotten art. Although like most old, forgotten things, there are rumors that the knowledge persists in the Devoured Lands...

Risky casting

Borrowing from Wonder & Wickedness and Vaginas are Magic, spells have a chance of causing catastrophes if cast under certain conditions.

WIL save to avoid spell miscast:

  • First time casting this spell (unless it was copied by your hand from a snake book, it was a book your character started with, or a week has been spent studying the book in safety)
  • Carrying any "Bulky" items
  • Attempting to use a spellbook 2 or more times in a day
  • Casting spell the turn following a turn where you took damage
  • Casting a spell when not at full HP
  • Attempt to use the reversed form of a spell (still debating this one)
Resulting spell catastrophes will be pulled from Wonders & Wickedness, Vaginas are Magic, Eldritch Cock, and maybe Troika.


A lot of the level-less spells in the above sources base duration, damage, number of targets, etc. on the level of the caster. Into the Odd levels don't strictly conform to D&D levels, so thinking about replacing those with the concept of "chains". e.g. If a spell as written has damage scaling by level, instead its damage will be based on the position along the "Damage Chain" that corresponds to the character's position along the "Level Chain".

Level: Novice -> Professional -> Expert -> Veteran -> Master
Damage: d4 -> d6 -> d8 -> d12 -> d20
No. of turns: 1 -> 2 -> 4 -> 7 -> 10
HP: 3 -> 7 -> 10 -> 13 -> 17
No. of targets: 1 -> 2 -> 4 -> 7 -> 10
Longer times: Turns -> Hours -> Days -> Weeks -> Months

The HP chain would be used for spells that have something like "only effects targets of less HD than the spell caster has levels". Instead "less current HP than listed on the HP chain."

Rough level-less conversions

Basically, just base the damage, duration, no. of targets, etc. on the "Level Chain". For especially powerful spells, add a material component or other drawback.

For catastrophes, initially just use whatever school seems most related from Wonder & Wickedness. Add some spell specific catastrophes like in VaM when you have time.

What about clerical spells?

Since we're classless now, getting rid of clerics entirely. Thinking about allowing any character to start worshipping, praying to, sacrificing to a chosen god to potentially gain a miracle specific to that god. Something like this:

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