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Skip Navigation LinksHigh Fantasy HERO>Content>Magic>Magic Systems>Spellweaving>System


Spellweaving System Spellweavers Spellweaver Package Deals
Variant: The Order Of Esow Variant: Brotherhood of Stahryc Variant: Derwydda
With special thanks to Lezentauw, whose foray into Magic System design inspired me to write this Magic System. Also Tancred and Gulpii who both provided feedback on some of the finer points of the system's functionality that lead to refinement / clarification.
GM Notes on Spellweaving
Spellweaving (SPELL WEAVE-ING), practitioners of which are properly called Spellweavers (SPELL WEAVE-ERS), is a flexible Magic System, but is not as well suited to combat situations as some other Magic Systems.
However, if given sufficient time and can set themselves up well in advance, Spellweavers can work powerful magic.
Spellweaving has a strong central concept, and can handle different nuances and flavors by setting some simple parameters, allowing for both easy customizability, as well as rival / variant approaches within the same setting.
Casting Model
Spellweavers use the "Locus Casting" Model, which is Skill based. Each Spellweaver purchases separate EGO based Power Skills that correspond to HERO System base Powers that they can build Spells from "on-the-fly", called Spell Skills.  Each Spell Skill functions similarly to a Cosmic Variable Power Pool, but only for effects built on the corresponding base Power.
Thus if a Spellweaver wishes to cast Spells based on the Ranged Killing Attack (RKA) base Power they must buy a Spell Skill for Ranged Killing Attack. Similarly if a Spellweaver wanted to cast Spells based on the Flight base Power, they must buy a Spell Skill for Flight.
Every non-Special base Power in the HERO System is a candidate for a Spell Skill, subject to GM discretion.
Each Spell Skill corresponds to a single base Power in the HERO System, such as Flight or Energy Blast or Telepathy.
The normal cost of Power Skills applies; 1 point for a familiarity, 3 points for an 9+(EGO/5) Roll, +1 to the roll for 2 points each. 
Using the Spell Skills is easy; a player simply writes up a Power Effect, called a Spell Effect, based upon a Power for which they have a Spell Skill and get approval from the GM to cast it.
Assuming permission is granted the player makes a Spell Skill roll with the Spell Skill appropriate to the Spell Effect, modified by a number of criteria. If the Spell Skill roll is successful the Spell Effect goes off, if not it fizzles
Casting a Spell Effect in Spellweaving is normally a 1 Turn Skill usage. However a Spellweaver may attempt to cast a Spell Effect faster than this, but take a penalty on their Spell Skill Roll to do so.
A Spellweaver takes a -1 penalty to their Skill Roll if they attempt to cast a Spell Effect as a Full Phase Action, and a -2 penalty if they attempt to cast a Spell Effect as a 1/2 Phase Action. Spellweavers may not buy Penalty Skill Levels vs. this Time Penalty.
Spellweaving is not well suited to being used in chaotic combat situations, and casters take penalties to their Spell Skill rolls when attempting to cast Spell Effects in or near a combat.
Casting Spell Effects in combat incurs a -1 penalty to Spell Skills if an opponent is more than 4" away, a -2 penalty if the caster is within 4" of an opponent, and -3 penalty if the caster is in melee range with an opponent. Spellweavers may buy Penalty Skill Levels vs. this Combat Penalty.
Spell Skill rolls suffer the standard -1/10 Active Points penalty. Thus if a Spellweaver attempts to cast a Spell Effect with 50 Active Points they take a -5 penalty on their Spell Skill roll.
Spellweaving requires a high degree of Intelligence and quickness of wit to excel at. When Spellweavers attempt to cast more powerful Spell Effects, their mental acuity is an important consideration in their chances of succeeding.
Spell Effects that have an Active Cost greater than the caster's INT suffer a -1 penalty to the Spell Skill roll for every 10 Active Points the Spell exceeds the casters INT by.
Thus if a Spellweaver with a 20 INT attempts to cast a Spell Effect with 50 Active Points, they suffer a -3 penalty (50-20 = 30, 30/10 = 3).
Five (5) point Skill Levels with INT Based Rolls can be applied to offset this penalty (and only this penalty).
A Spellweaver may apply Overall Skill Levels or All Skill Levels to their Spell Skills, assuming they are not 1 point Familiarities. Spellweavers may not buy Skill Levels with Spell Skills as a "Tight Group".
Spell Effects cast by Spellweavers do not require any Limitations to be applied to them. However, a Spellweaver can chose to use Limitations with their Spell Effects to make a Spell Effect easer to cast.
Each time a Spellweaver casts a Spell Effect they may choose to apply one or more of the following Limitations:
  • Incantations
  • Gestures
  • Concentration
  • Increased END
  • Exhausting: SE (Always Occurs): AP/10 in LTE (-1/2) or AP/5 in LTE (-1)
NOTE: "Exhausting" is represented as an always occurs Side Effect that causes the Spellweaver to take either the Active Points divided by 10 in Long Term Endurance for a -1/2 Limitation or the Active Points divided by 5  in Long Term Endurance for a -1. This is in addition to any other END Costs.
However, since the Real Cost of a Spell Effect has not direct impact on a Spellweaver, these Limitations do not need to be tallied in the normal fashion. Instead for each -1/4 in Limitations applied to a Spell Effect the caster benefits from a +1 bonus to their Spell Skill roll to cast that Spell Effect. Thus if a Spellweaver applies -1 in Limitations from the above list to a particular Spell Effect, they would gain a +4 bonus to their Skill Roll to cast that Spell Effect.
EXAMPLE: Lezentae the Spellweaver has a 20 INT, 2 Overall Levels, and a 16- Spell Skill for Energy Blast (modifiable to 18- with Overall Levels). With this Spell Skill Lezentae can cast any Spell Effect based upon Energy Blast at will.
Running into a group of bandits Lezentae decides a 5d6 Radius (+1) EB is just the thing; this Spell Effect has 50 Active Points.
Lezentae is in Combat, but the closest opponent is more than 4" away for a -1 penalty, he is casting the Spell as a Full Phase Action for a -1 penalty, the Spell has 50 Active Points for a -5 penalty, and the Spell exceeds his INT by 30 points for a -3 penalty; in total Lezentae has is taking a -10 penalty to his Energy Blast Spell Skill roll.
Lezentae chooses to Incant, Gesture with Both Hands, 1/2 DCV Concentrate, and pay x3 END for a total of -2 in Limitations; each -1/4 grants a +1 bonus to the Spell Skill Roll so the total bonus is +8.
The net modifier for Lezanetae to cast this Spell Effect is a -2 penalty, which makes Lezentae's modified Spell Skill roll a 16- with Overall Levels or 14- without Overall Levels. If Lezentae makes his Energy Blast Spell Skill roll, the Spell Effect is successfully cast. The Spell Effect will cost 15 END to cast whether the Spell Skill roll is successful or not.
Adjustment, Aid, and Transfer have Maximum Effects. However, due to the nature of Spellweaving a Spellweaver could theoretically just constantly refactor such a Power for multiple castings and gain an effect entirely out of line with the considerations of game balance, common sense, and fun.
To prevent this sort of abuse if a Spellweaver uses a Spell Skill to create a Power Construct, they cannot use that Power Construct and then use a different Power Construct built with the same base Power to affect the same person until the original effect has completely faded away.
They can however continue to use the same Power Construct on that person using the normal rules for increasing maximum effect for the respective base Powers.
EXAMPLE: Tanc'rhad the Spellweaver has the Aid Spell Skill and uses it to cast a Spell Effect based on the following Power Construct upon his ally Gaul'phi:
Aid 2d6 to STR, Delayed Return Rate (points return at the rate of 5 per Month; +2) (60 Active Points)
The Maximum Effect of this Aid is 12 points. Tanc'rhad can use the Spell Effect on Gaul'phi several times if need be, but cannot exceed 12 points of effect.
Further once Tanc'rhad has used this Aid on Gaul'phi he cannot use the same Spell Skill to make another Spell Effect based on Aid and use it on Gaul'phi until the original Aid to STR has completely faded away.
At the GM's discretion a Spellweaver could take the same Spell Skill multiple times, and use one application of a Spell Effect based on Aid, Transfer, or Absorption once per Spell Skill.
EXAMPLE: Tanc'rhad the Spellweaver has taken two Spell Skills with Aid and thus his ally Gaul'phi could benefit from two Spell Effects based on Aid cast upon him by Tanc'rhad.
Trigger is an important Advantage to consider within the context of this Magic System. Triggered Spell Effects allow a Spellweaver to cast their Spell Effects in relative safety, using many Limitations to gain a large bonus to their Spell Skill rolls, and effectively float large Active Point Spell Effects for later use in "heightened circumstance".
To maintain game balance, Spell Effects may be on Triggers but the same Spell Skill may only have one "set" Trigger at a time. At the GM's discretion a character might be allowed to buy the same Spell Skill multiple times so that they can maintain multiple Triggered effects for that kind of Power.
Thus if a Spellweaver has the Energy Blast and Ranged Killing Attack Spell Skills, they could have one Triggered effect set for both.
END is paid and any other negative effects such as LTE are applied when the Trigger is set.
Triggered Spell Effects are detectible by those with appropriate Detects and Danger Sense, unless the Triggered Spell Effect also has Invisible Power Effects vs. those senses.
A Spellweaver may use Spell Effects based on Compound Powers or multiple Base Powers linked together if they have the relevant Spell Skills for each base Power involved in the Power Constructs. However, the Spellweaver uses the lowest relevant Spell Skill involved for the Spell Skill roll. The Active Point and INT Maxima penalties for casting the Spell Effect are based on the Total Active Points of the Power Construct.
The Spell Skill Rolls use a base Characteristic determined by the type of Power the Spell Skill represents, as summarized in the adjoining table.
Movement Powers are General, and thus have a base 11- Roll.
Powers that fall into multiple Power Types can use any one of the Characteristics appropriate to it of the player's choice, determined when the Spell Skill is added to the character.
Any other Powers that don't fall into one of the identified Power Types are EGO Based.
There are a number of restrictions which apply to this type of Magic Use, as follows.
There is no upper limit on the number of Spell Skills a Spellweaver can know; they can have as many as they can afford. However due to the efficiency of the Magic System at the lower end there is a minimum requirement.
In order to be a Spellweaver and use Spellweaver Spell Skills a character must know at least five Spell Skills and spend at least 15 points on Spell Skills. Individual GM's may remove this restriction or replace it with some other arbitrary limit.
With new characters this is easily achieved as part of the character's design, but if a character already in play decides that they want to become a Spellweaver then they must first save up 15 character points in addition to any other in-game necessities such as finding a mentor and spending enough time to learn the Spell Skills.
EXAMPLE: Gorja is a character that has been played for a while by Rick. Rick decides that he wants Gorja to become a Spellweaver and talks to the GM about this. The GM agrees to allow it and thus in game Gorja seeks out and makes an arrangement with a Spellweaver mentor, but until Gorja has 15 Experience Points available to "buy into" Spellweaving all he can do is "study and practice" in game.
Once Gorja has acquired the necessary Experience Points and put in the required time to learn his initial complement of Spells, it all sets in and he is able to use his Spellweaving Spells.
Magic Spells have very broad Special Effects. In addition to any specific SFX that a particular Spell might have such Electricity for a Lightning Bolt Spell or Fire for Flamebolt Spell, all Magic Spells also automatically have the additional SFX of Magic, plus either Arcane or Divine (Generally Arcane for systems based on Spellweaving, but not necessarily), the type of Magic (Spellweaving),  and finally the caster themselves leave a detectible signature on their Spell Effects as part of the SFX. These mandatory SFX cannot be altered by any means, including Variable Special Effects.
Note: An Arcane Magic Spellweaving Spell is always Magic, always Arcane, and always a Spellweaving Spell. Additionally all of the Spell Effects cast by a particular Spellweaver have a "signature" that identifies the Spell Effect as originating from them.
EXAMPLE: Gorja the Spellweaver casts Jolting Arc, an Electricity based Energy Blast vs. ED. This Spell as cast by him has the following SFX: Arcane, Spellweaving, Gorja, and Electricity.
Not all Base Powers are appropriate for use in Spellweaving and are summarized in the following list:
  • Characteristics bought as Powers
  • Extra Limbs
  • Faster Than Light Travel
  • Find Weakness
  • Negative Levels
  • Perks bought as Powers
  • Skills bought as Powers
  • Talents bought as Powers
  • Only Limitations from the Allowed Limitation list are permissible
  • No Spell Effect may take Extra Time
  • No Spell Effect may be on Charges even if Charges becomes an Advantage
  • All Spell Effects must either cost END by default or take the "Costs END" Limitation
    • Spell Effects may take Reduced END
    • Spell Effects may take "Costs END Only to Activate" where allowed by the rules normally
      • All Costs END only to Activate Spell Effects must have a defined termination, expressed either as a duration or a specific and reasonably common event
  • No Spell Effect can Require a Skill Roll to be cast; the Spell Skill itself serves this purpose.
As discussed previously in the Spell Effect section, only specific Limitations are permitted for Spell Effects. No other Limitation maybe be applied to Spellweaving Spell Effects.
Even if a variant of this Magic System overrides the Allowed Limitations list, Extra Time is not appropriate to this Magic System. The Spellweavers Casting Modifiers chart gives appropriate bonuses to Magic Skill Rolls for taking more than one Turn to cast a Spell Effect.
This Magic System is not compatible with Charges, even if Charges are taken at a level that would normally be an Advantage.
The single greatest restriction on this Magic System is that all Spells must cost Endurance to activate. This serves to restrict the frequency of Magic Use over a short term period, such as combat scenes. It also prevents or discourages certain Power Constructs from being used by Spellweavers due to mechanical conflicts or inefficiency.
Spellweavers may not use a Magic Endurance Reserve.
Continuing or Constant Spells are possible with Spellweaving but unless they only cost END to activate they will deplete the Spellweaver's END quickly.
All Spell Effects require a Skill Roll with the appropriate Spell Skill for no Limitation value to be cast. No Spell Effect may take the Required Skill Roll Limitation to indicate the associated Spell Skill.
The Spell Resistance concept is not applicable to Spellweaving Magic.
Spellweaving does not interact with the Spellcraft ability. A character can not use Spellcraft to cast Spellweaving Spells Effects.
Some Spellweavers can craft Magic Items and can even "enchant" people with abilities like a Magic Item, if they have a Spell Skill for the Transform Power.
This is accomplished using the "Adding Powers" rules under Transform, adding Powers to a mundane object or person. This does not cost character points, and GM's should regulate its use. A convenient means of controlling the proliferation of this type of item is to insist on a very common "Heal Back" clause for the Transform, such as contact with Dispel Magic.