Magic Words in Practice: One Year of Magic Words in ORWA

Ronnina the Magic User
Ronnie’s art of Ronnina, the Magic User

From inception, my ORWA campaign has used the Magic Words system. The game only has one magic user in it, but that M.U., named Ronnina, and played by my brother Ronnie, has been around since the very first session on January 6th 2016. Ronnie has been one of the game’s most consistent players, being present for nearly all 40 sessions of the game to date. That means I have something I don’t often get to share: practical data about the functionality of one of my game systems.

In the past year, Ronnina has gathered the following words: Cold, Fist, Blood, Imbue, Animate, Web, Magic, Dog, Balance, Star, Feather, Fairy, Missile, Cone, Pain, Hate, Corpse, Glare, Rock, Sleep, Cloak, Cling, Fall, Fire, Portal, & Hold.

With these, she has created the following 13 spells. Each of these spells has gone through some revision over time, as edge cases arise, and rulings are needed. Some have been buffed a bit here, others have been nerfed a bit there. A certain level of imprecision, and a constant need for fine tuning, are at the heart of Magic Words.

Fire Portal
Opens a portal in any surface which releases a gout of flame from some unseen place. The flame covers a 10’x10’x10’ space, and deals 1d6 damage, +1d6 for every 3 levels of the caster. The portal must be cast on a surface, and is one-way, nothing can travel from our side to the fire side. For each caster level, the distance the fire reaches from the portal increases by 10′. This does not increase the size of the portal, merely the how far the fire can travel from the portal.
If a space is not large enough to contain the full force of a fire portal, it will, the flames will follow the path of least resistance.

Alternatively, the spell may be cast to grant the caster the ability to conjure five smaller portals over the course of a 12 hour period. These smaller portals deal no damage, but are sufficient to light a candle, or burn a rope.

1. The portal sucks all fire from the room.
2. Fire blasts from the caster’s nostrils, dealing no damage but being very painful.
3. The surface the portal is cast on catches on fire and is destroyed, even if that would not normally be possible.
4. The caster goes temporarily deaf for 1d4 hours.

Star Fire
A touch range spell which buffs one willing target for 24 hours. While the spell is active, any time the character successfully improves an NPC’s reaction, they gain one point per level of the caster. These points may either be spent to recover a lost hit point, or to add a +1 to any die roll. Points may be spent individually or in groups, at the discretion of the spell’s target. If used to improve a roll, the use of points must be declared before the roll is made.

For the purposes of this spell, “Improving an NPC’s reaction,” refers specifically to raising the results of an initial reaction roll (2-12). This is commonly accomplished with the converse, Perform, Grovel, Honor, and Threaten social actions.

1.The target’s skin glows orange, but they gain no other benefit.
2. The target grows massive breasts for 24 hours.
3. The spell works as normal, but any time a reaction is lowered the target takes 1d6 damage.
4. The caster becomes face-blind for a week, and cannot recognize anyone.

Hold Fire
The caster’s hands gain the ability to pick up and hold fire for 1 turn per caster level. Doing this requires a pre-existing source for the fire, but does not extinguish or diminish that source. Once held, the fire can either be thrown (range of 10′) or used  as part of an unarmed melee attack. In either event the fire deals 1d4 damage per two caster levels. If the damage rolls in the upper 50% of its range, then the target has caught fire and takes another 1d4 damage per caster level the next round. This continues so long as the damage rolls in the upper half of its range.
1. The caster believes the spell worked correctly, and is compelled to place their un-protected hand into the first fire they encounter.

2. The caster makes themselves particularly vulnerable to fire, and will take +50% damage from it.
3. The caster’s hand muscles lock up into a fist shape, and the hand is entirely useless for anything but punching for the next 1d6 turns.
4. The caster becomes transfixed by fire. If they see one, they must stare at it until someone yells at them. Minimum one full combat round.

Magic Missile
A missile of magical energy shoots forth from the caster’s fingertip and strikes a target within 60′ + 10′ per level, dealing 1d4 damage. The missile strikes unerringly, even if the target is in melee combat or has cover/concealment. Specific parts of a creature cannot be singled out.
The caster is able to produce a number of missiles equal to their level. The full force of this barrage may be directed at a single target, or divided between multiple targets, as the caster desires. Missiles must be assigned to targets before any damage is rolled.

Each of Ronnina’s magic missiles look like tiny cartoon, jet-propelled missiles.

1. The spell functions normally, but each missile is assigned randomly to a non-caster in the area.
2. The spell works as the caster intended, but only a single missile is produced, which deals 1d4 -1 damage.
3. A number of small glass pellets fly out of the caster’s fingers, plonking against their targets but dealing no damage.
4. A bouquet of flowers appears in the caster’s hand.

Animate Blood

A volume of blood is animated into an ooze like creature. The creature has one hit die, plus one additional hit die for every 3 caster levels, (3, 6, 9, etc). The ooze moves slowly, at only 90′ (30′), but is immune to piercing or slashing damage. (Bludgeoning damage, however, can be very effective at scattering the blood, and works normally). If not destroyed, the creature lasts for 1 hour per level of the caster.

The blood ooze attacks by exciting the blood within the victim, causing it to rush and clot irregularly. This deals 1d4 damage if the creature has 1 hit die, increasing up the dice chain each time the hit die increases. (1d6 at 2 HD, 1d8 at 3 HD, etc).

If cast on the living blood within a person’s body, that person is entitled to a Save versus Magic. On success, the casting failed, and no ooze is created. On failure, the ooze begins to run rampant within the victim’s body. They immediately take damage of a die type appropriate for the ooze’s hit dice. On each successive round, the victim may again attempt the save. If they fail again, they must again take damage. On their first successful save they will vomit up the blood ooze. Both victim and ooze will require a round to compose themselves before they can act normally. If the victim dies before a successful save is made, then the ooze exits of its own volition, and can act immediately)

1. The caster mistakenly animates their own blood.
2. The spell instead animates the target’s snot. If there is no target, reroll.
3. Everyone within 60′ of the caster must save versus Magic or be afflicted by a bloody nose which takes friggin’ forever to stop.
4. The caster sets fire to the hem of their robes (or dress, or pants, or other lower body covering).

Animate Cloak
Causes a cloak (or cape) to become animate, moving and acting according to the caster’s verbal commands. The cloak moves by levitating, but cannot move in any way that would be impossible for it to move if it was attached to someone with arms and legs. It cannot fly, leap over melee, or squeeze itself through small spaces.
If the caster wishes, the animated cloak may attempt to visually emulate a moving human figure. As it has no limbs of its own, it can only really be effective if the target of the deception is at some disadvantage. This is used to best effect if it is dark, or if the cloak is at a great distance from the one being tricked.The cloak rolls stealth to succeed in this deception. The chance starts at 1-in-6, and improves by 1 at every 3rd caster level, and for each significant detriment to the target’s perceptions.
The cloak may also attempt to entangle the caster’s foes in combat, preventing them from taking any action. To do this, it grapples as a fighter of the caster’s level, but deals no damage. The target of the grapple must be appropriately sized. Any creature too large to wear the cloak, cannot be effectively grappled by it.

Animated cloaks have have 2 hit points per level of the caster, and last for 1 hour per level of the caster.


1. The cloak attempts to grapple its own caster until it is destroyed.
2. The cloak becomes intelligent. It’s animation becomes permanent, and it leaves.
3. The spell functions properly, but is cast as though the caster were first level.
4. The spell cast is actually “Self-cleaning and folding cloak.”

Spectral Dog
Summons 1 dog per level, for a total of 2 hours per level. The dogs are translucent creatures of light and smoke, but solid to the touch. They look, feel, and act just like normal dogs, but have no scent. They will obey simple commands from the caster, but are not well trained enough to do anything fancy. “Sit,” “Heel,” “Fetch,” and “Sic ’em” are pretty much the extent of their abilities.

Each dog has an armor rating of 12, 1 hit point, and a +0 to their attack rolls. Each dog starts out dealing 1d3 damage with their bite. At level 5, this increases to 1d6. At level 10, it increases again to 1d8, but does not increase any further than that.The dogs may act for the first time on the round following the one in which they were summoned.

1. The dogs are summoned normally, but are not “reasonably well trained” at all. They do not understand any commands, and will pursue only their own instincts and immediate needs.
2. A single real dog is summoned.
3. All the spectral dogs have the aspect of pugs. They are completely useless at any task, but will do their best to obey as normal.
4. The caster turns into a Labrador for the normal duration of the spell.

Hold Portal
Magically holds a passage either open, or closed, as the caster wills. It can effect a door, gate, window, or shutter of wood, metal, or stone. The magic affects the portal just as if it were securely closed and normally locked. Hold Portal lasts for 1d6 turns per caster level.

1. Holds the portal the opposite way that it the caster intended: open if you wanted it held closed, closed if you wanted it held open.
2. The effect lasts only 1d4 rounds.
3. Instead of effecting the intended portal, the spell effects the caster’s own mouth for the same length of time.
4. Instead of effecting the portal, you affect the mouths of 2d6 creatures, randomly determined.

Cling to Rock
The person or object the spell is cast on will be stuck to the next stone or concrete their body comes in contact with. There are two versions of this spell: one which allows movement, and can be used to climb sheer stone walls without effort. The second does not allow movement, trapping the target against a body of stone. They are entitled to a save versus Magic to resist the effect.

The spell lasts for 3 turns per caster level.

1. Which version of the spell the caster intended to conjure is reversed.
2. The caster must save versus Magic or contract some form of lycanthropy.
3. The spell cast is, instead, “Summon,” as written in the LotFP Rules & magic book.
4. The target of the spell transforms into a pebble for the duration of the spell. They are entitled to a save versus Magic to resist.

Cone of Cold
A cone shaped area extends from the caster’s hand, 5′ in length per level of the caster. Heat is suddenly drained out of this area, dealing 1d4 +1 damage per caster level to any living creatures within. Targets may save versus Breath for half damage.

1. The cone deals damage equal to the caster’s level, rather than 1d4 + 1 per level.
2. The cone extends backwards from the caster’s hand, striking them, and anyone behind them within the cone’s area.
3. The caster’s hand freezes solid, and must be carefully warmed up again in order to free it. It takes 2 hours of dedicated effort to get the hand free.
4. A randomly determined target within the area of the cone must save versus Magic. On a failure, all heat is drained entirely from their body. Their internal temperature is reduced so dramatically that they are vaporized, becoming a chilling gas which deals 2d4 damage to everyone within 20′ of themselves.

Hold Missiles
The caster raises their hand. So long as they keep their hand up and take no further actions, they generate an invisible sphere with a radius of anywhere from 5′ to 15′, at the caster’s preference. Missiles entering this sphere are halted in mid air, and will remain suspended there until the caster stops channeling the spell, after which they will fall to the ground.
The sphere is able to stop 1 missile per round, per caster level. (Thus it may not be fully effective against automated weapons until the caster reaches higher levels). If the caster is level 5 or higher, they can make a half move action while channeling this spell. If they are level 10 or higher, they can make a full move action while channeling this spell.

1. Missiles entering the sphere are accelerated, and deal +1 damage.
2. The sphere functions normally, but also prevents missiles from EXITING the sphere.
3. The sphere functions normally, but is opaque instead of invisible. No one can see in, or out.
4. The sphere functions normally, but the radius expands by 15′ each round, eventually becoming so large that the ones firing the missiles are inside of it, and thus immune to having their missiles stopped by it.

Hold Magic
After this spell is cast, the next spell cast by the Magic user will not go off as normal. Instead, the spell will hold in suspended animation at the first picosecond of its existence. It will remain in this state until the caster activates it with a mental command (or for 1 hour per caster level, after which the spell rots away into nothingness).
When activated by the caster’s mental command, the spell comes to life, and occurs from the same spot it was originally cast from. Activating a spell which has already been cast is a free action.
If the Magic user is level 4 or higher, Hold Magic may be cast as a free action. Thus, only the casting time of the spell that is being held is required. If the magic user is level 8 or higher, the held spell may be “carried” with the magic user. Thus a Magic Missile could be cast, held, and then carried around with the magic user, ready to be activated as a free action at-will.
At first, only one spell may be held at a time. At level 6, two spells may be held. At level 12, three spells may be held. Each held spell requires an additional casting of Hold Magic.

1. The spell the caster intends to hold is simply destroyed.
2. The next spell cast is held appropriately, but when it is released, it must roll on its failure table.
3. The hair on the caster’s head immediately grows for 1 exploration turn, cascading down around their body until it reaches the floor.
4. The next spell cast is held appropriately, but its release is out of the caster’s control. Instead, it is a ticking time bomb. There is a 1 in 4 chance each exploration turn that it will go off.

 Magic Glare
Magic Glare may be cast subtly without need for wild gestures or loud speech. If the caster has a reaction of at least Neutral with the target, Magic Glare can be used to shame the target out of a decision they have made. The target is entitled to a save versus Magic to resist this effect. On a failed save, the target will announce their altered decision.
For every 4 levels, the caster may expectantly ask “AND…?” after each time the target finishes explaining their altered decision. For each “AND…?”, the target is entitled to another save versus Magic. If they again fail, they will add provisos to their new decision to make it even more pleasing to the magic user. If they succeed on the save, they’ll just say “And that’s it.”

1. The target will realize a spell was attempted upon them, and will have their reaction lowered by 2.
2. The target goes temporarily blank from having someone mess with their mind. They forget the last 2 minutes of their lives.
3.The caster lets out a fart that just…will…not…stop. It lasts for 1 full exploration turn.
4.The target begins to dance. They will continue dancing until anyone mentions that they are dancing, after which they will sheepishly stop.

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