Glory from God: Creating Spells

Vulcan at Work

In The Glory from God system, the referee takes on the role of the cleric’s god, and creates all of their spells for them. Because of the time required for prayer and meditation before a new spell is granted, only one spell per cleric will ever need to be created per game session. Creating a single new clerical spell in this timeframe should not, I think, overly strain the referee’s creative abilities. My own experience with the Magic Word system has shown that creating a new spell is generally the easiest aspect of session prep for me.

However, Glory from God lacks one of the great strengths of the Magic Word system: limitations. Limitless creativity is a paralyzing curse. If your player comes to you and says “I want to create the spell Pummeling Spiders,” it’s easy to come up with some rules for how that spell works. If your player comes to you and simply says “I need a new spell,” then the sheer ocean of possibilities can cause the process to be a great deal more difficult. So we need some limitations. Not “rules,” per se, because if you ever feel like ignoring these limitations for some reason, then go for it. But we do need guidelines to light a clear path forward when a new spell is needed.

First, determine the spell’s level by rolling 1d6. Remember that even the most powerful spell can be cast by a 1st level cleric, so the spell level is not a gauge on how high level the player must be before they gain access to the spell. It is merely an estimate of how often the cleric will be able to use a spell each day, before they start losing spell dice.

If you’re making a 6th level spell, then you’re making a big blowout spell that the player will only be able to use a handful of times. If you’re making a 1st level spell, then they’ll probably be able to cast it a ton. Spells of 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th level are just gradations on this scale.

When it comes to the actual content of the spell, there are two big guidelines to consider. The first is the cleric’s god; the divine entity that is ostensibly the one actually creating the spell. What is that god’s style? Their domains, their mythology, their will? The characteristics of the deity should provide the referee with a good sense of what sort of spells that god would grant to their clerics.

This begs the question: what should we know about a god before they’re ready to be used in play? The answer to that is beyond the scope of this post. Next week, I’ll go into some detail on what all we should know about a god. For now, just imagine we’re working with a god who is already familiar to you. Someone like Zues, Thor, or Vecna.

The second guideline is the magical school of the spell. There are six schools, and the referee is encouraged to determine which one they will use randomly. The schools are Abjurations, Commands, Blessings, Divinations, Prayers, and Rituals. Each school is tied to one of the four abstracted units of game time, which is how long the spell will take to cast. So only the first two types of spells could be cast while in combat, while the other four types each require a significant period of calm in order to work.

Abjuration – A Combat Round: Abjurations are protective magics, and are always cast preventatively rather than restoratively. They usually have either a very limited duration, or a very limited scope. For example, one abjuration might be used to protect the target from all damage for 1 round. Another abjuration might protect the target from a total of 1d8+1 incoming damage, and remain in effect until that damage has been taken.

Clerics cannot reverse spells of their own volition, but their god may choose to grant them a reversed abjuration. These either make a target unusually vulnerable, or remove a protection that the target would normally have. Reversed abjurations may cause a target to exude a tasty scent that attracts monsters, or may cause their saving throws to be rolled twice, with the worse result being taken.

Examples of abjuration spells from the core LotFP spell list include Invisibility to Undead, Resist Cold/Fire, and Spell Immunity.

Command – A Combat Round: Commands impose god’s will on the world. They are perhaps the most dramatic of the gifts granted to clerics, and their casting must be declared with great force and confidence. Commands do not harm directly, though their results may lead to harm.

Examples of command spells from the core LotFP spell list include Turn Undead, Heat Metal, Sticks to Snakes, Hold Person, and of course, Command.

Blessing – An Exploration Turn: While abjurations protect targets from harm, blessings grant their target new strengths. Strengths which belong to the beneficiary of the blessing for their duration, and may be used at the target’s discretion. Blessings may raise one of the target’s ability scores, grant them some expertise, or cause their blade to burn like fire.

Blessings typically last much longer than abjurations. While the latter might last only a few moments, a blessing can last hours, or even a full day, and in rare cases even longer than that.

Like abjurations, gods may opt to grant reversed blessings, often referred to as curses. Curses weaken their victims, or burden their victims with some struggle .

Examples of blessing spells from the core LotFP spell list include Enlarge, Water Walk, Protection from Evil, and obviously, Bless. An example of a curse might be Geas.

Divination – An Exploration Turn: Divinations allow characters to learn information they would otherwise not know. Some spells grant this information directly, the casting of the spell causing the answer to simply appear in the cleric’s mind. Others are more open ended, allowing the cleric to access a means of learning that they would not normally have.

Examples of divination spells from the core LotFP spell list include Detect Magic, Locate Object, Speak with Animals, Speak with Plants, and Speak with Dead.

Prayer – A Watch (4 Hours): Prayers allow tangible gifts to be requested of god. Prayers can consecrate holy ground, or raise a building from raw stone, or cause a feast to manifest itself. Prayers can also lead to events that might be regarded as exceptionally fortunate, such as running into a band of friendly soldiers out in the wilderness.

Examples of prayer spells from the core LotFP spell list include Create Food & Water, and Swarm of Locusts

Ritual – A Haven Turn (1 Month): Rituals are complex affairs, and often require more than a simple casting. There’s money to be spent on incense and animal sacrifices, sacred dances to be performed, a congregation of faithful that must be gathered. Not all rituals are so elaborate, but no ritual should be taken lightly.

While prayers may be used to magically summon something permanent and mundane (like a building), rituals produce permanent magical effects. They create clay golems to protect the faithful, or place permanent blessings over a settlement. Rituals are also the only way that most clerics will ever produce any healing effects. They might be used to advance the rate at which a group restores their hit points, or to mend broken bones, cure diseases, or remove curses.

Examples  of ritual spells from the core LotFP spell list include Cure Disease, and Remove Curse

These six spell schools are useful, but it is important not to overstate their importance. These are guides, meant to direct the referee’s creativity in a vaguely useful direction. They are not strict categories into which all spells can neatly be divided. Players need not even be aware of the schools at all, they have no bearing on a spell’s function after the spell has been written down.

A final word on spell names. As a means of making clerical spells yet more distinct from MU spells, it may be entertaining to give them more scriptural, or prayer-like names. Something that sounds as though it was memorized from a holy text. “6 Word Stories” might be a good rule of thumb. So rather than “Detect Magic,” the spell might be called “Jerome revealed their mysticism before god” The spell description looks the same, but the name of the spell has a more biblical flair.

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