Arcane Magic:
Wizardry, Sorcery and Draconic Magic

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D&D Home > Magic > Arcane Magic: Wizardry, Sorcery and Draconic Magic

Arcane magic is the most pure, the most beautiful form of magic..... for arcane magic does not rely on an outside agent to manipulate the Weave - it uses the Weave to change the Weave. Arcanists learn how to take the energy of the weave, drink it into themselves and then bend it back onto the Weave itself to create a magical effect. The casting of a spell in this manner is something of a rush, and spell-casting can become addicitive to thrill-seeking arcanists. But such addiction is not the greatest danger arcanists face.

Arcanists rip away a fistful of the Weave, absorb its power and then use that power to manipulate what is left of the Weave. The more they take, the thinner the Weave becomes. The thinner the Weave becomes the more likely it is to break. The Weave has a threshold, an absolute limit of the number of spell levels (spell points) of powers that can be cast within a certain area before the Weave breaks. If that threshold is not reached, then nothing happens and the Weave can heal itself if given time. However, if the threshold is reached then the Weave is broken. If that happens, apply the following effects:

  • All spell-weavers (not just arcanists) are automatically stunned for one round.
  • All arcanists must make a Will saving throw at DC 20 or loose all spell-casting powers for a further 1d4 rounds.
  • A dead magic region has now been created. Its size in feet is equal to the original threshold of the area. If the area could absorb 100 spell levels before rupturing, the dead magic zone is 100 feet in diameter. The effect is centred on the location where the spell that broke the threshold was cast. There is no known way repair dead magic areas.
  • There may be other effects at the discretion of the GM.

Arcanists should not despair. Usually the threshold is so high that they never run the risk of breaking the Weave. However, there may be that one occassion when the Weave is already in a weakened state then they need to look out!

There are four variations or branches of arcane magic listed below: draconic magic, sorcery, wizardry and recharge magic. It should be noted that the magic of the bard is no longer considered arcane magic in my system. Bardic magic is the magic of song and can be found in the appropriate section.

Draconic Magic

The magic of true dragons and their ilk, draconic magic is an instinctive gift that a dragon is born with. As they grow in age and power so does their understanding of Draconic Magic grow. Draconic magic is the grand-daddy of all arcane magic, anywhere in existence. All the various branches and sub-branches of arcane theory and practice can trace its origins back to the magic of dragons. Dragons were first, everything else is a poor imitation.

Availability: Only creatures with the Dragon type can learn draconic magic, and only then if spellcasting is listed as an ability in their Monster Manual description. Usually dragons grow in magical power as they age, but they can become more powerful more quickly by taking levels in the Draconic Sorceror prestige class.

Spellcasting: Dragons are the most powerful and magical creatures in D&D and their magic reflects this incredible power. Dragons potentially have access to every spell from every spell-list printed in any source. There is no requirement for users of draconic magic to prepare their spells in advance, or to keep a written record of their spells.

The spell casting of draconic magic is limited only by the dragon's hit points. The casting of a spell tires the dragon, inflicting nonlethal damage equal to the level of the spell being cast. Note: nonlethal damage is the D&D 3.5 term for subdual damage, see PHB p146. Cantrips (0-level spells) inflict no nonlethal damage and may be cast indefinitely and without penalty. The dragon may continue casting spells until its nonlethal damage equals or exceeds his current hit point total, at which point it falls unconscious. A dragon may cast a spell that renders it unconscious; in this event the spell functions normally, even if the dragon is too comatose to see it.

The nonlethal damage inflicted by the casting of spells can be healed normally through rest or magical means - including healing spells cast by the dragon himself. Fast Healing and Regeneration do not restore the hit points lost to the casting of draconic spells. Practitioners of draconic magic that are immune to nonlethal damage (such as dracoliches) take normal damage when casting these spells.

Gaining Spells: Dragons gain access to draconic magic at different age categories depending on their sub-race. Dragons can know as many spells as they like; however, the following can be used as a guide to determine the number of spells known by the average dragon (if there ever was such a thing).

As soon as a dragon gains access to draconic magic (i.e. as soon as he gains a "caster level") he automatically knows a number of spells equal to his Intelligence attribute. These spells must be selected from levels he is capable of casting. Each level or hit dice the dragon gains thereafter, he also gains knowledge of a number of new spells equal to his Intelligence attribute. Should the dragon's intelligence increase, this number is recalculated. Therefore an average Great Wyrm gold dragon (with no additional classes) would know 896 spells. However, the dragon must always abide by its maximum caster level when selecting spells.

Metamagic: Draconic spells modified with metamagic feats are cast as full round actions rather than standard actions. This means the dragon cannot make use of the Quicken Spell feat. Dragons can apply metamagic feats to spells at will, but they must be of a sufficiently high caster level to cast the resulting spell. For example a maximised fireball is cast as a sixth level spell. Not only will it inflict six points of nonlethal damage, the dragon must also be an eleventh level caster to have mastered such magic.

Epic Magic: A dragon is capable of casting Epic Magic, using the normal rules for epic magic - i.e. they must select the feat epic spellcasting. In order to qualify for this feat they must have at least 21 levels or hit dice, and be capable of casting ninth level spells. Most dragons do not usually qualify until they become Great Wyrms, unless they have levels in the Draconic Sorcerer class.


Sorcery is the bastard son of draconic spellcasting - it exists, but dragons don't like to talk about it. Many dragons have the ability to polymorph into humanoid forms, and in those forms they have the ability to procreate with other races. Members of other races who have a dragon somewhere in their ancestry may have the potential to wield sorcery. Sorcerers and their ilk wield a diluted version of draconic magic. It is not as powerful, or as versatile and it carries a price that many sorcerers would rather not pay, but it is the most versatile branch of arcane magic open to non-dragons.

Availability: The following classes make use of Sorcery: Sorcerer.

Spellcasting: Sorcerers gain arcane spells taken exclusively from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. In some cultures or societies certain spells will be more common than others, and some spells may be banned by law. Such campaign-specific information is beyond the remit of this part of the website. Certain other classes that have access to sorcery may find their choice of spells limited, this is pointed out in the section on class descriptions.

The spell casting of a sorcerer is limited by his hit points. The casting of a sorcery spell tires the sorcerer just as casting a draconic spell tired a dragon. The sorcerer takes nonlethal damage equal to the level of the spell being cast. Cantrips (0-level spells) inflict no nonlethal damage and may be cast indefinitely and without penalty. The sorcerer may continue casting spells until his nonlethal damage equals or exceeds his current hit point total, at which point he falls unconscious. A sorcerer may cast a spell that renders him unconscious; in this event the spell functions normally, even if the sorcerer is too comatose to see it.

As with draconic magic, the nonlethal damage inflicted by the casting of spells can be healed normally through rest or magical means. Fast Healing and Regeneration do not restore the hit points lost to the casting of sorcery spells. Sorcerers that are immune to nonlethal damage (such as the undead) take real damage when casting these spells.

The greatest limitation of sorcery is that sorcerers are not able to use this magic to restore their own hit points. Because casting a sorcery spell physically ails the sorcerer, they cannot directly channel energy into healing their own wounds - not even a Wish spell could accomplish such a feat. Quite why draconic magic can do this and sorcery cannot is something that has been bugging sorcerers for some time.

Gaining Spells: Sorcerers gain access to cantrips and 1st level spells at level one, 2nd level spells at level four, and to each successive spell level at even-numbered levels thereafter to a maximum of 9th level spells at level eighteen. Other classes that wield sorcery may gain access to their spells at different levels, please see the relevent class description.

At each new level the sorcerer spontaneously gains knowledge new spells, so that the number of spell levels he knows equals his Maximum Spell Levels total (see the section on spell points for this figure). Note that bonus spell points do not apply to the Maximum Spell Levels figure. For example, a sorcerer who rises from level fourteen to level fifteen gains an extra eighteen spell levels. He may choose to learn one extra 7th level spell, one extra 6th and one extra fifth, or even eighteen 1st level spells - the choice is up to the sorcerer. Obviously, the sorcerer cannot develop a spell that his class level prevents him from casting. The Sorcerer begins play with five 0-Level spells and two first level spells, although this will vary for other classes.

Theoretically, sorcerers can learn as many spells as they like, but if the number of spell levels they know (excluding cantrips) ever exceeds their Maximum Spell Levels then they run the risk of something very bad happening to them. The sorcerer is controlling mind-bending forces beyond the comprehension of Man. Dragons can cope with this, but mortal minds can only take so much. The sorcerer gains a Madness Rating equal to the number of his known spell levels exceeds his Maximum Spell Levels. For example, if the sorcerer knows fifteen levels of spells and his Maximum Spell Levels total is nine then his Madness Rating is six. See the section on Secrets Man was Not Meant to Know for more information on how this part of the game functions.

Metamagic: The same metamagic limitations apply to sorcery that apply to draconic magic. The sorcerer casts metamagically enchanced spells as full round actions and cannot, therefore, make use of the Quicken Spell feat.

Epic Magic: Sorcerers who meet the requirements can select the Epic Spellcasting feat and gain knowledge of Epic Magic. Epic Magic is not just casting more powerful sorcery spells - it is something different. See the section on True Magic for more details. Note that the sorcerer's Maximum Spell Levels figure does not increase after the sorcerer reaches epic levels. The epic feat, Spell Knowledge will increase Maximum Spell Levels each time is it taken - by +10 in the first instance, +11 in the second and so on.


Both dragons and sorcerers have access to arcane magic because they were born with the ability. Anyone who is not born with the powers of a sorcerer can never be a sorcerer. This really irked a great deal of people who wanted to wield magic without being beholden to a god, or becoming a namby-pamby tree-hugging hippy. Therefore wizardry was created. Wizardry is not an art, it is a science. Wizardry is a direct copy of sorcery, and has inherited many of the limitations of sorcery, but it is available to anyone with the wit to master it. To many, wizardry is the ultimate example of Man's triumph against circumstance and adversity.

Availabily: Many classes make use of wizardry, these include: Wizards, Specialist Wizards, Assassins,

Spellcasting: Wizards can learn spells taken exclusively from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. In some cultures or societies certain spells will be more common than others, and some spells may be banned by law. Such campaign-specific information is beyond the remit of this part of the website. Certain other classes that have access to wizardry may find their choice of spells limited, this is pointed out in the section on class descriptions.

Wizards cannot cast spells spontaneously like the sorcerer. They simply do not have the capacity to hold the complicated formulae of spells in their minds without going insane. Wizards must study, memorise and cast spells well in advance - and they must have a spell book present to study from. When studying a wizard effectively casts a spell; he then holds these pre-cast spells in his mind for the moment when he most needs them. At this time a mere gesture, word or fetish is all that is needed to unleash the energy. Wizards must have foresight because they have to prepare the spells they think they might need ahead of time.

It takes five minutes per spell level to prepare a spell, with a minimum requirement of fifteen minutes. During this time the wizard must have uninterrupted peace and quiet, and have rested as it states on p178 of the PHB. The wizard must have access to his spell book to do this unless he has the Spell Mastery feat, which allows him to memorise the formula of a limited number of spells. Even with that feat, preparation takes the same amount of time. Wizards can select a new feat, Rapid Preparation, to reduce the time it takes to prepare spells to one minute per spell level.

Wizards have a spell point total. This represents the maximum number of pre-cast spells they can hold in their mind at any one time. Memorised spells fill this total on a point-for-point basis dependent on their level. For example, a wizard with 50 spell points may choose to memorise fifty first level spells, twenty-five second level spells or any combination of the spells he knows to fill the total. He cannot memorise spells of a level greater than he can cast. Wizards use their Intelligence attribute to calculate bonus spell points. See section on spell points.

As long as a wizard has free capacity in his spell-points he may attempt to prepare another spell, even if that spare capacity has come from the recent casting of a spell. For example, the wizard with 50 spell points casts a fireball costing him 3 spell points. He now only has 47 spell points worth of spells prepared and ready to cast. He can immediately attempt to fill those 3 free spell-points with any combination of spells he wishes. He may do this as many times during a day as he pleases, as long as he has the time (it takes five minutes per spell level) and he has rested sufficiently the night before.

Note that cantrips (0 level spells) are so simple that they do not need to prepared in advance. Wizards can cast cantrips indefinitely even if their spell point total has been exhausted.

Gaining Spells: Wizards gain access to cantrips and 1st level spells at first level. They receive access to an additional spell-level at each odd number level to a maximum of 9th level spells at level seventeen. They start play with a spell-book containing all the cantrips in the PHB, and a number of first level spells equal to three + their Intelligence modifier. Other classes that use wizardry may have different progressions.

Every time a wizard gains a level he may automatically add two spells to his spell book for free. These spells can be of any level he can cast. However, there is no limit to the number of spells a wizard can know. He copy spells from another source or research new spells or exisiting spells if he has the time and the money.

Researching common spells (GM decides what is common) will require access to a large magical library and lab, and takes one day per spell level, as well as the expenditure of spell level × 20 in gold pieces. The researched spell must be of a level the wizard can cast. At the end of the research the wizard makes a spellcraft roll to learn the spell (DC 10 + spell level). If that roll fails then the research is faulty; the time and money is wasted and the wizard may not attempt to learn that spell again until she has gained an extra rank in spellcraft. If successful, wizards can write the new spell into their spell book in the normal manner.

Learning a spell from a complete source (such as a spell book or a scroll) takes one day after which a spellcraft roll is made (DC 15 + spell level), failure having the same results as above. Once learned, the spell can be copied into the wizard's spell book. This takes one day per spell level and fills two pages per spell level. It costs 100gp per page in the necessary magical inks and such like to inscribe a spell. Being a wizard is not cheap.

Specialisation: Wizards can specialise into one of the eight schools of magic - Abjuration, Conjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Evocation, Illusion, Necromancy and Transmutation. This grants them various benefits when casting spells of their chosen school, and penalties when casting spells of other schools. See the Wizard for more details.

Metamagic: Wizards are masters of metamagic, more so than any other class in the game. The wizard who wants to augment his spells with metamagic prepares his spells normally - he does not have to prepare a metamagically enhanced version of the spell in advance. The wizard can choose whether or not to apply a metamagic feat at the time of spellcasting. In order to do so, he must sacrifice other prepared spells of the same spell level as spell slot modifier stated in the metamagic feat.

For example, Trevane wants to apply the Maximise Spell feat to his lightning bolt spell. Lightning bolt is a third level spell, and normally occupies three of Trevane's spell points. The Maximise Spell feat increases the level of the spell by +3. In order to cast a maximised lightning bolt Trevane must be able to cast sixth level spells (he must be an 11th level wizard). Assuming Trevane is eleventh level he casts a normally prepared lightning bolt (3 spell points), but now he must sacrifice another prepared spell of a value equal to the maximise spell modifier (+3). He could chose to lose another third level spell, a second level spell and a first or three first level spells to pay this cost. He could also chose to lose a single higher level spell if necessary.

Applying a metamagic feat to a spell in this manner does not increase the casting time of the spell. The wizard has already gone through the rigmarole of casting 99% of the spell before he even gets to a combat round. He has the time and the luxury to apply metamagic on the fly, but with no measureable reduction in casting time. As a result classes that use wizardry are the only classes that are able to make use of the Quicken Spell feat.

Epic Magic: Wizards can learn how to case epic magic by selecting the Epic Spellcasting feat - as long as they meet the prerequisites. Note that a wizard's available spell points do not increase beyond twentieth level. However, by selecting the epic feat Improved Spell Capacity they can increase the number of points available to them, as well as the effective level they can cast in regard to metamagic. Improved Spell Capacity grants +11 spell points and the ability to cast 10th level spells in the first instance, it may be taken multiple times.

Recharge Magic

Like wizardry, recharge magic is an attempt to allow those individuals who are not born sorcerers or dragons to wield arcane magic. It is a completely separate tradition to wizardry and works very differently. Recharge Magi are created by skilled sorcerers. They have a number of magical spells branded onto their bodies in the form of runes. The recharge mage is then able to call upon the power of this rune to duplicate a magical effect. The rune functions much like a magical item, and once invoked it takes a number of rounds to recharge before it is available again.

Availability: Recharge magic is not as common as wizardry. The following classes make use of it: War Mage.

Spellcasting: The recharge magus does not know how to cast spells. He has no understanding of spellcraft or the manner of magic, he is entirely dependent upon another arcanist (usually a sorcerer) being able to place the necessary rune on his body. He does not need to touch a rune to invoke its power, although many recharge magi will do so out of habit. The magic invoked from a recharge rune is not a spell, it is a spell-like ability. Among other things, this means no components are involved in the spell which in turn means that recharge magi are free to wear any armour without suffering a chance of spell failure.

The recharge time for each of the magus's runes depends on the level of the spell in relation to the class level of the magus. A summary of general recharge times can be found in the spell point seciton of the site. As a note, all spells use general recharge times. There are no specific recharge spells in my system as seen on UE p159. Every time the recharge mage casts a spell the spell becomes unavailable for a number of rounds equal to the recharge time (that the recharge mage usually will have to roll). If the recharge time is one round, then the spell is available again on the very next round. To save the GM paper work the player of a recharge mage should keep track of when his spells become available again.

A character must have the new Inscribe Recharge Rune feat in order to place a recharge rune on the body of a recharge magus. If a recharge magus meets the prerequisites then he may take this feat himself and place runes on his own body. However, he may find his choice of spells even more limited if he does this.

Gaining Spells: The rate at which a recharge magus gains spells will vary from class to class. The War Mage gains access to cantrips and first level spells at level 1, second level spells at level 4 and to each successive level of spells at every even-numbered level thereafter to a maximum of ninth level spells at level 18.

Any spell on the sorcerer/wizard spell list can be turned into a recharge rune and placed on the body of the recharge magus. However, because their spell selection is so limited they tend to specialise. War Mages, for example, only cast spells related to battle and destruction.

There is a maximum limit on the number of recharge runes a mage can have on his body. This is dependent upon his class level and his charisma. See the Maximum Spell Levels table in the section on Spell Points. Every time a recharge mage gains a level he may have a number of new runes drawn upon his body up to his maximum spell levels. For example, a recharge mage advancing from level three to level four gains an additional two spell levels. This might be one second level spell or two first level spells. Unlike a sorcerer there is no way for a recharge mage to have any more runes on his body than the figure in the table (modified by his charisma) will allow. The recharge mage has the most limited and smallest collection of known spells of any spell caster, with the exception of the bard (and even the bard has the potential to know more). Bonus spell points are not applied to the recharge mage's Maximum Spell Levels.

Metamagic: Here's the rub. Recharge mages cannot make use of any normal metamagic feat. A metamagic version of a spell may be turned into a recharge rune, but this rune has a commensurately higher level and therefore takes up more of the recharge magus's available spell levels. However, recharge mage can take the "metaspell-like ability" feats such as Empower Spell-like Ability and Quicken Spell-like ability. These feats allow the recharge magus to gain the same effect as a metamagic feat three times per day.

Epic Magic: The recharge magus cannot learn epic magic, because he does not actually know how to cast ninth level arcane spells. Without gaining the ability to cast ninth level spells in another class, the recharge mage will never gain access to epic magic. Also the maximum spell levels of runes do not increase after the recharge mage has reached twentieth level. The epic feat, Spell Knowledge will increase the level each time is it taken - by +10 in the first instance, +11 in the second and so on.

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