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Wizard spells range from spells of simple utility to great and powerful magics. The wizard spell group has no single theme or purpose. The vast majority of wizard spells were created by ancient wizards for many different purposes. Some are to serve the common man in his everyday needs. Others provide adventurers with the might and firepower they need to survive. Some are relatively simple and safe to use (as safe as magic can be); others are complicated, filled with hazards and snares for the rash and unwary. Perhaps the greatest of all wizard spells is the powerful and tricky wish. It represents the epitome of spell-casting—causing things to happen simply because the wizard desires it to be so. But it is a long and difficult task to attain the mastery needed to learn this spell.

Although some characters can use spells, the workings of magic are dimly understood at best. There are many theories about where the power comes from. The most commonly accepted idea is that the mysterious combination of words, gestures, and materials that make up a spell somehow taps an extradimensional source of energy that in turn causes the desired effect. Somehow the components of the spells—those words, gestures and materials—route this energy to a specific and desired result. Fortunately, how this happens is not very important to the majority of wizards. It is enough to know that “when you do this, that happens.”

Casting a wizard spell is a very complicated ordeal. The process of learning the correct procedure to cast a spell is difficult and taxing to the mind. Thus, a wizard must check to see if he learns each new spell (according to his Intelligence--see Table 4). Furthermore, there is a limit to just how much of this strangeness—illogical mathematics, alchemical chemistry, structuralist linguistics—a wizard's mind can comprehend, and so he must live with a limit to the number of spells he can know.

As the wizard learns spells, he records their arcane notes into his spell books. Without spell books, a wizard cannot memorize new spells. Within them are all his instructions for memorizing and casting all the spells he knows. As the wizard successfully learns a new spell, he carefully enters its formula into his spell books. A wizard can never have a spell in his books that he does not know, because if he doesn't understand it, he cannot write the formula. Likewise, he cannot enter a spell into his books that is higher in level than he can cast. If he finds an ancient tome with spells of higher power, he must simply wait until he advances to a level at which he can use them.

The exact shape and size of a character's spellbooks is a detail your DM will provide. They may be thick tomes of carefully inked parchment, crackling scrolls in bulky cases, or even weighty clay tablets. They are almost never convenient to carry around. Their exact form depends on the type and setting of the campaign world your DM has created.

Ultimately, it is the memorization that is important. To draw on magical energy, the wizard must shape specific mental patterns in his mind. He uses his spell books to force his mind through mental exercises, preparing it to hold the final, twisted patterns. These patterns are very complicated and alien to normal thought, so they don't register in the mind as normal learning. To shape these patterns, the wizard must spend time memorizing the spell, twisting his thoughts and recasting the energy patterns each time to account for subtle changes—planetary motions, seasons, time of day, and more.

Once a wizard memorizes a spell, it remains in his memory (as potential energy) until he uses the prescribed components to trigger the release of the energy patterns. The mental patterns apparently release the energy while the components shape and guide it. Upon casting, the energy of the spell is spent, wiped clean from the wizard's mind. The mental patterns are lost until the wizard studies and memorizes that spell again.

The number of spells a wizard can memorize is given by his level (see Table 21; he can memorize the same spell more than once, but each memorization counts as one spell toward his daily memorization limit. Part of a wizard's intelligence can be seen in the careful selection of spells he has memorized.

Memorization is not a thing that happens immediately. The wizard must have a clear head gained from a restful night's sleep and then has to spend time studying his spell books. The amount of study time needed is 10 minutes per level of the spell being memorized. Thus, a 9th-level spell (the most powerful) would require 90 minutes of careful study. Clearly, high-level spellcasters do not lightly change their memorized spells.

Spells remain memorized until they are cast or wiped from the character's mind by a spell or magical item. A wizard cannot choose to forget a memorized spell to replace it with another one. He can, however, cast a spell just to cleanse his mind for another spell. (The DM must make sure that the wizard does not get experience for this.)

Schools of Magic

Schools of Magic

Although all wizard spells are learned and memorized the same way, they fall into nine different schools of magic. A school of magic is a group of related spells.

Abjuration spells are a group of specialized protective spells. Each is used to prevent or banish some magical or nonmagical effect or creature. They are often used to provide safety in times of great danger or when attempting some other particularly dangerous spell.

Alteration spells cause a change in the properties of some already existing thing, creature, or condition. This is accomplished by magical energy channeled through the wizard.

Conjuration/summoning spells bring something to the caster from elsewhere. Conjuration normally produces matter or items from some other place. Summoning enables the caster to compel living creatures and powers to appear in his presence or to channel extraplanar energies through himself.

Enchantment/charm spells cause a change in the quality of an item or the attitude of a person or creature. Enchantments can bestow magical properties on ordinary items, while charms can unduly influence the behavior of beings.

Greater divinations are more powerful than lesser divinations (see below). These spells enable the wizard to learn secrets long forgotten, to predict the future, and to uncover things hidden or cloaked by spells.

Illusions deal with spells to deceive the senses or minds of others. Spells that cause people to see things that are not there, hear noises not made, or remember things that never happened are all illusions.

Invocation/Evocation spells channel magical energy to create specific effects and materials. Invocation normally relies on the intervention of some higher agency (to whom the spell is addressed), while evocation enables the caster to directly shape the energy.

Lesser divination spells are learnable by all wizards, regardless of their affiliation. This school includes the most basic and vital spells of the wizard—those he needs to practice other aspects of his craft. Lesser divinations include read magic and detect magic.

Necromancy is one of the most restrictive of all spell schools. It deals with dead things or the restoration of life, limbs, or vitality to living creatures. Although a small school, its spells tend to be powerful. Given the risks of the adventuring world, necromantic spells are considered quite useful.

Learning Spells

Whether a character chooses to be a mage or a specialist in one of the schools of magic, he must learn his spells from somewhere. While it might be possible for the exceptional wizard to learn the secrets of arcane lore entirely on his own, it isn't very likely. It is far more likely that your character was apprenticed to another wizard as a lad. This kindly (severe), loving (callous), understanding (ill-tempered), generous (mean-spirited), and upright (untrustworthy) master taught your character everything he knows at the start of the game. Then, when it was time, the master sent him into the world (threw him out) with a smile and a pat on the back (snarling with his foot on your character's behind).

Or perhaps your character studied at a proper academy for wizards (if your DM has such things). There he completed his lessons under the eye of a firm (mean) but patient (irritable) tutor who was ready with praise for good work (a cane for the slightest fault). But alas, your character's parents were impoverished and his studies had to end (fed up with this treatment, your youthful character fled during the night).

As you can see, there are a number of ways your character might have learned his spells.

The one good thing that comes from your character's studies is his initial spell book. It may have been a gift from his school or he may have stolen it from his hated master. Whatever the case, your character begins play with a spell book containing up to a few 1st-level spells. Your DM will tell you the exact number of spells and which spells they are. As your character adventures, he will have the opportunity to add more spells to his collection.

When your character attains a new level, he may or may not receive new spells. This is up to your DM. He may allow your character to return to his mentor (provided he departed on good terms!) and add a few spells to his book. It may be possible for your character to copy spells from the spell book of another player character (with his permission, of course). Or he may have to wait until he can find a spell book with new spells. How he gets his spells is one of the things your DM decides.

In al cases, before he can add a new spell to his spell book, you have to check to see if your character learns that spell. The chance of learning a spell depends on your wizard's Intelligence, as given in Table 4. This chance may be raised or lowered if your character is a specialist.


Of all spells, those of the illusion school cause the most problems. Not that they are more difficult for your player character to cast, but these spells are more difficult for you to role-play and for your DM to adjudicate. Illusions rely on the idea of believability, which in turn relies on the situation and the state of mind of the victim. Your DM must determine this for NPCs, which is perhaps an easier job. You must role-play this for your character.

Spells of this school fall into two basic groups. Illusions are creations that manipulate light, color, shadow, sound, and sometimes even scent. Higher level illusions tap energy from other planes, and are actually quasi-real, being woven of extradimensional energies by the caster. Common illusions create appearances; they cannot make a creature or object look like nothing (i.e., invisible), but they can conceal objects by making them look like something else.

Phantasms exist only in the minds of their victims; these spells are never even quasi-real. (The exceptions to this are the phantasmal force spells, which are actually illusions rather than phantasms.) Phantasms act upon the mind of the victim to create an intense reaction—fear being most common.

The key to successful illusions or phantasms is believability, which depends on three main factors: what the caster attempts, what the victim expects, and what is happening at the moment the spell is cast. By combining the information from these three areas, the player and the DM should be able to create and adjudicate reasonable illusions and phantasms.

When casting an illusion or phantasm, the caster can attempt to do anything he desires within the physical limits of the spell. Prior knowledge of the illusion created is not necessary but is extremely useful.

Suppose Delsenora decides to cast a phantasmal force spell and can choose between creating the image of a troll (a creature she has seen and battled) or that of a beholder (a creature she has never seen but has heard terrifying descriptions of). She can either use her memory to create a realistic troll or use her imagination to create something that may or may not look like a real beholder. The troll, based on her first-hand knowledge of these creatures, is going to have lots of little details—a big nose, warts, green, scabby skin, and even a shambling troll-like walk. Her illusion of a beholder will be much less precise, just a floating ball with one big eye and eyestalks. She doesn't know its color, size, or behavior.

The type of image chosen by the caster affects the reaction of the victim. If the victim in the above case has seen both a troll and a beholder, which will be more believable? Almost certainly it will be the troll, which looks and acts the way the victim thinks a troll should. He might not even recognize the other creature as a beholder since it doesn't look like any beholder he's ever seen. Even if the victim has never seen a troll or a beholder, the troll will still be more believable; it acts in a realistic manner, while the beholder does not. Thus, spellcasters are well-advised to create images of things they have seen, for the same reason authors are advised to write about things they know.

The next important consideration is to ask if the spell creates something that the victim expects. Which of these two illusions would be more believable—a huge dragon rising up behind a rank of attacking kobolds (puny little creatures) or a few ogres forming a line behind the kobolds? Most adventurers would find it hard to believe that a dragon would be working with kobolds. The dragon is far too powerful to associate with such little shrimps. Ogres, however, could very well work with kobolds—bossing them around and using them as cannon fodder. The key to a good illusion is to create something the victim does not expect but can quickly accept.

The most believable illusion may be that of a solid wall in a dungeon, transforming a passage into a dead end. Unless the victim is familiar with these hallways, he has no reason not to believe that the wall is there.

Of course, in a fantasy world many more things can be believed than in the real world. Flames do not spring out of nowhere in the real world, but this can happen in a fantasy world. The presence of magic in a fantasy world makes victims more willing to accept things our logic tells us cannot happen. A creature appearing out of nowhere could be an illusion or it could be summoned. At the same time, you must remember that a properly role-played character is familiar with the laws of his world. If a wall of flames appears out of nowhere, he will look for the spellcaster. A wall blocking a corridor may cause him to check for secret doors. If the illusion doesn't conform to his idea of how things work, the character should become suspicious. This is something you have to provide for your character and something you must remember when your character attempts to use illusions.

This then leads to the third factor in the believability of an illusion, how appropriate the illusion is for the situation. As mentioned before, the victim is going to have certain expectations about any given encounter. The best illusions reinforce these expectations to your character's advantage. Imagine that your group runs into a war party of orcs in the local forest. What could you do that would reinforce what the orcs might already believe? They see your group, armed and ready for battle. They do not know if you are alone or are the advance guard for a bigger troop. A good illusion could be the glint of metal and spear points coming up behind your party. Subtlety has its uses. The orcs will likely interpret your illusion as reinforcements to your group, enough to discourage them from attacking.

However, the limitations of each spell must be considered when judging appropriateness. A phantasmal force spell creates vision only. It does not provide sound, light, or heat. In the preceding situation, creating a troop of soldiers galloping up behind you would not have been believable. Where is the thunder of hooves, the creak of saddle leather, the shouts of your allies, the clank of drawn metal, or the whinny of horses? Orcs may not be tremendously bright, but they are not fooled that easily. Likewise, a dragon that suddenly appears without a thunderous roar and dragonish stench isn't likely to be accepted as real. A wise spellcaster always considers the limitations of his illusions and finds ways to hide their weaknesses from the enemy.

An illusion spell, therefore, depends on its believability. Believability is determined by the situation and a saving throw. Under normal circumstances, those observing the illusion are allowed a saving throw vs. spell if they actively disbelieve the illusion. For player characters, disbelieving is an action in itself and takes a round. For NPCs and monsters, a normal saving throw is made if the DM deems it appropriate. The DM can give bonuses or penalties to this saving throw as he thinks appropriate. If the caster has cleverly prepared a realistic illusion, this certainly results in penalties on the victim's saving throw. If the victim were to rely more on scent than sight, on the other hand, it could gain bonuses to its saving throw. If the saving throw is passed, the victim sees the illusion for what it is. If the saving throw is failed, the victim believes the illusion. A good indication of when player characters should receive a positive modifier to their saving throws is when they say they don't believe what they see, especially if they can give reasons why.

There are rare instances when the saving throw may automatically succeed or fail. There are times when the illusion created is either so perfect or so utterly fantastic as to be impossible even in a fantasy world. Be warned, these occasions are very rare and you should not expect your characters to benefit from them more than once or twice.

In many encounters, some party members will believe an illusion while others see it for what it really is. In these cases, revealing the truth to those deluded by the spell is not a simple matter of telling them. The magic of the spell has seized their minds. Considered from their point of view, they se a horrible monster (or whatever) while a friend is telling them it isn't real. They know magic can affect people's minds, but whose mind has been affected in this case? At best, having an illusion pointed out grants another saving throw with a +4 bonus.

Illusions do have other limitations. The caster must maintain a show of reality at all times when conducting an illusion. (If a squad of low-level fighters is created, the caster dictates their hits, misses, damage inflicted, apparent wounds, and so forth, and the referee decides whether the bounds of believability have been exceeded.) Maintaining an illusion normally requires concentration on the part of the caster, preventing him from doing other things. Disturb him and the illusion vanishes.

Illusions are spells of trickery and deceit, not damage and destruction. Thus, illusions cannot be used to cause real damage. When a creature is caught in the blast of an illusionary fireball or struck by the claws of an illusionary troll, he thinks he takes damage. The DM should record the illusionary damage (but tell the player his character has taken real damage). If the character takes enough damage to “die,” he collapses in a faint. A system shock roll should be made for the character. (His mind, believing the damage to be real, may cause his body to cease functioning!) If the character survives, he regains consciousness after 1d3 turns with his illusionary damage healed. In most cases, the character quickly realizes that it was all an illusion.

When an illusion creates a situation of inescapable death, such as a giant block dropping from the ceiling, all those believing the illusion must roll for system shock. If they fail, they die—killed by the sheer terror of the situation. If they pass, they are allowed a new saving throw with a +4 bonus. Those who pass recognize the illusion for what it is. Those who fail faint for 1d3 turns.

Illusions do not enable characters to defy normal physical laws. An illusionary bridge cannot support a character who steps on it, even if he believes the bridge is real. An illusionary wall does not actually cause a rock thrown at it to bounce off. However, affected creatures attempt to simulate the reality of what they see as much as possible. A character who falls into an illusionary pit drops to the ground as if he had fallen. A character may lean against an illusionary wall, not realizing that he isn't actually putting his weight on it. If the same character were suddenly pushed, he would find himself falling through the very wall he thought was solid!

Illusions of creatures do not automatically behave like those creatures, nor do they have those creatures' powers. This depends on the caster's ability and the victim's knowledge of the creatures. Illusionary creatures fight using the caster's combat ability. They take damage and die when their caster dictates it. An illusory orc could continue to fight, showing no damage, even after it had been struck a hundred or a thousand times. Of course, long before this its attackers will become suspicious. Illusionary creatures can have whatever special abilities the caster can make appear (i.e., a dragon's fiery breath or a troll's regeneration), but they do not necessarily have unseen special abilities. There is no way a caster can create the illusion of a basilisk's gaze that turns people to stone. However, these abilities might be manifested through the fears of the victims. For example, Rath the fighter meets an illusionary basilisk. Rath has fought these beasties before and knows what they can do. His gaze accidentally locks with that of the basilisk. Primed by his own fears, Rath must make a system shock roll to remain alive. But if Rath had never seen a basilisk and had no idea that the creature's gaze could turn him to stone, there is no way his mind could generate the fear necessary to kill him. Sometimes ignorance is bliss!

(See also Wizard Spells from the Player's Handbook, Wizard Spells from the Tome of Magic, Wizard Spells by School—Master Listing, Tome of Magic)