The Color of Magic was an excellent article from Dragon Magazine issue no. 200 by Dan Joyce. I particularly liked it because it showed how the real game isn’t about rules and dice rolling–it’s about story and wonder. It explained how the mechanics of various spells (do damage, heal, improve AC, etc.) are really all the same, it’s how the spells are perceived that make the real difference. Additionally, I have found it a useful technique to tweak certain spells that seem “broken” for a particular campaign.
Here are some spell books that were put together based on that article. The first one is especially an attribute to the article: Maximus the Black’s Book of Darkness.
The Book of Darkness
Shield (Phase blur). The spell causes the caster’s appearance becomes a shadowy and blurred with the appearance of no substance. Other creatures have a harder time seeing the caster as his shadow flickers, making him harder to hit.
Darkness. Standard spell.
Magic missile (Black disc). This spell fires a disc of darkness at one enemy within range with the standard effects. The disc(s) are nearly invisible in dungeon settings with little light.
Continual darkness. Standard spell.
Invisibility (Darkwalk). This spell cloaks the caster in darkness, allowing the caster to hide in shadows as long as he doesn’t attack or cast a spell.
Fly (Shadewing). This spell causes shadowy wings to sprout from the back, allowing the caster to fly. These wings have no substance.
Hold person (Darkhold). This spell causes thin, wispy hands made of darkness attempt to grab and hold targets at their location. Victims who fail their saving throw, may also not be moved by another. Another save may be made by the victim whenever someone tries to free them to see if they can break away from the spell.
Lightning bolt (Black ray). This spell fires a ray of darkness, starting from the caster and extending up to 60′ away. It does not bounce off of walls.
Dimension door (Shadowblink). This spell transports the caster, leaving an area of darkness in his shape behind that lasts for 2 rounds.
Wall of ice (Wall of darkness). Blocks sight, but does not cause damage. Any creatures crossing it must save vs. spells or be blinded instead.
Book of the Elements
This next book was an attempt to create elemental versions of some spells, and would be a good addition to the combined spell books of Illfrith and Imran from the article.
Sleep (Chill). All targets within area of the spell will suddenly feel cold shiver and fall asleep within 1d4 rounds as the feeling overtakes them. Unaffected creatures feel the cold for 1d4 rounds as well, but suffer no effects.
Protection from evil (Whirlwind). This spell creates a small whirlwind of force that surrounds the caster that deflects some damage and blocks enchanted creatures.
Magic missile (Shocking grasp). This spell shocks one creature within range without any other visible sign of an attack.
Shield (Stoneskin). The caster’s skin becomes harder and changes to resemble stone.
Lightning bolt (Cone of cold). This spell creates a cone of cold that starts at the caster, extending up to 60′ away and is 30′ wide at the far end. It does not bounce off walls.
Wall of fire (Electromagnetic barrier). This spell calls forth a shimmering curtain of electrical force which blocks site. Creatures attempting to pass through take lightning damage.
Hold monster (Bands of ice). With this spell the caster attempts to trap the targets targets with bands of ice. If the save is made, the target breaks free.