Spell Improvisation

For most magic-users, the casting of a spell is a specific procedure that produces a reliable effect. More imaginative spellcasters see this specificity and reliability for what it is: an illusion.

At the GM's discretion, you can spend a number of spirit points to briefly stretch a spell beyond its scope. For instance, you might do so to pry an object out of someone's hand with Control Winds (Gust).

The GM determines the number of spirit points you must spend to modify the casting, depending on the magnitude of the desired effect:

  • Trivial (0 SP): The proposed effect could be replicated without the use of magic or specialized tools. Snuffing out a candle with Weave Shadows (Phantoms) is a Trivial exploit.

  • Minor (1 SP): The proposed effect is -- at best -- only marginally better than something the spell can already do. Using the Dodge action instead of the Dash action with Mold Earth (Meld) is a Minor exploit (exchanging one effect for a comparable alternative).

  • Moderate (2 SP): The proposed effect is plainly (but modestly) more powerful than the spell's usual effect. Setting a creature on fire with Produce Flame (Scourge) is a Moderate exploit.

  • Major (3 SP): The proposed effect is significantly more powerful than the spell's usual effect, but not so potent as to be overwhelming or game-breaking. Expanding the size of your Dragonbreath to fill a 7-square cube is a Major exploit.

  • Extreme (4 or More SP): The proposed effect is tremendously useful or powerful. Using Clairvoyance (Farsight) to astrally project yourself and travel as a spirit is an Extreme exploit.

Stay On-Brand: The exploit must be thematically appropriate for the spell. Mind Trick can't be used to summon fire, Discus can't be used to speak with plants, and so on. At the GM's option, an exploit's price can increase or decrease depending on its appropriateness (or lack thereof).

Magic Is Fickle: The GM isn't obligated to give you the same price again in the future. The ebb and flow of magical energies can cause an exploit to be Minor one day and Major the next.

Spell Fatigue: You can reduce the price of a spell exploit by taxing your body. For each spirit point you save in this manner, you suffer one level of exhaustion when the spell ends.

This optional rule works best with imaginative players and an experienced GM who has a refined instinct for game balance (and a high tolerance for haggling). Improvising with spells can enhance the game in many ways, at the cost of slowing the action down.\ GM Tip: A nonspellcasting hero might feel superfluous in a world with such highly flexible magic. Unless the heroes are all expected to be spellcasters, you should avoid permitting Extreme exploits. In addition, you can allow the heroes to improvise with nonmagical feats and other special features, using these same guidelines.