Artistic Magic


Freeform Magic in ICRPG?

I have been thinking of Ars Magica, ICRPG MAGIC, and DCC Magic and wondering if I could come up with a more freeform way to handle Magic at my table. I found Art Magic in the Burning Wheel Codex, and viola! I found the framework I was looking for. So here is my ICRPG version of it, while trying to change as little as possible. Let me know how it works if you try it out!

Artistic Magic

3 ways to determine how many TYPES of Magic a Mage can use:

  1. Your Mage Class(from ICRPG MAGIC) determines the 3 TYPES of Magic you have access to. You must search out and find the secrets to the others.

  2. You only get 1 MAGIC TYPE. More of a Last Airbender kind of thing.

  3. Same as 1. But arrange all the other TYPES from 1-9, most desired to least desired. The Target to cast spells of those types is increased by that number, 1-9.

When casting a spell, choose a MAGIC TYPE(Transmutation, Blood, Time, etc. from ICRPG MAGIC), Breadth, Duration, and Cost.


Works almost exactly like Spell Level from ICRPG MAGIC, just doesn’t include Duration. There are 4 levels.

Level 1 is single target, 2 is targeting a group and far range, etc. See ICRPG MAGIC pg. 24 for details.


4 levels of Duration. Level 1 is Instant, 2 is 1D4 Rounds, etc. See ICRPG MAGIC pg. 24 for details.


  • Calculate the Cost (almost)normally. Spell Breadth x Spell Duration = Cost

  • While casting Artistic Magic, the Cost is added to the Target.

  • You may pay 1HP to lower the Target by 1 before you roll the dice.

  • Mastery works by reducing the Cost by one for each point of Mastery.

  • You may spend your TURN Concentrating on the Spell to lower the Cost by 1, if you are interrupted, you lose the spell. and pay the current Cost.


Basically I took the Spell Creation rules from ICRPG MAGIC pg. 24 and made Cost Increase the Target, unless HP was paid to lower it.

I was considering changing the Levels to 1, 2, 4, 8 and then adding instead of multiplying Breadth and Duration. You still have the same Maximum, But a higher starting point. I haven’t played a Mage yet with ICRPG MAGIC rules, so I’m not super familiar with how the Cost works in play. I need to watch some of the RFE Games! :stuck_out_tongue:

What do you think?


I say why not. There are a couple guys here that use free-form magic already (maybe with simpler rules than what you are proposing).


this is way more thought thank I’ve put into magic lol

I feel like Simple Jack from tropic Thunder now. Here’s how I run magic (not the supplement, but just general core)

Free casting - Just like Core, as often as you want, within these parameters:
Mana - This is a Usage Die starting with d20. A roll of 1-5 on an attempt decrements the usage die and spell fails.
Spell Burn - A bit different from Core: There is no d4 die that increases per cast. If the ATTEMPT roll results in a nat 1, decrement the mana usage die and roll on a catastrophe table (which also includes a possibility to decrement mana usage further)
Pushing Mana - The caster can GO BIG by decrementing that mana usage die and risking a Spell Burn mishap on 1-5 instead of just a 1. Casters can increase the power of the spell results in this way.

I am toying with the idea of putting in tiers of power to push mana. Greater risks for greater boom boom.

But I am not such a great thinking and this is probably not going to end well lol I do like the ideas you have here and may well be rethinking some thoughts like yours.


I was watching an old Runehammer video where he goes over his journal, and I saw the Ghost Mountain spell creation rules. They are super great and made it into the WORLDS book on pg. 108.

I would rework it just a tad to be this:

When you cast magic state your Effect, make sure the GM agrees, then roll + INT. Take 20 - the total of the roll in damage after you cast the spell, to a max of 10 damage.

Super risky and dangerous, but very versatile too. The spell is guaranteed to happen, you can’t stop the arcane forces once they are in motion. The only question is the cost.


I’m rattling a spell creation system. It’s the fitting it into ICRPG simply that makes it difficult. Hankerin keeps things so tight and straightforward it’s a challenge to match.


I’m not a big fan of spending HP to cast spells unless it’s thematic to the caster (blood magic, sacrificial, occult).

I like the idea of using a spellburn mechanic where failing a spell cast gives you a count of 1, and at 4 you have a spell backfire. Make casting a spell at a higher power increase the count by 2, 3, or 4 if you backfire to show they a more powerful spell burns harder. Track it like battle fury.

Rolling natural 1 on a spell accelerates the count to 4 and auto backfires.

You can check for a blunder for a major backfire or corruption.

It keeps magic unpredictable and dangerous also if you like that sort of thing.


I’m experimenting with a “FAITH” system for my zeleot priest player, who has discovered a strange stone that seems to bring him closer to God…

You PRAY for something to happen. So long as it’s thematic with your character’s beliefs of what God can do (mine is a classic 13th century priest).
There is no COST, except you must have FAITH to cast PRAYERS. Higher FAITH level = higher PRAYER level.

DOUBT - You are in doubt, your prayers have no effect.
BELIEF (1) - single target, soft CC, short/mild buffs
CONVICTION (:hearts:) - AoE, harder CC, longer/stronger buffs
CERTAINTY (:hearts::hearts:) - Room size AOE, v.strong CC, powerful buffs

To gain FAITH, you must make a CONTEMPLATION roll (WIS), doing basic effort.
The Effort needed for each FAITH LEVEL is in brackets.

You loose FAITH when things happen in the game (aka. GM says so) that may make you question your faith. This might be seeing a foe do well, your ally critically fails, your PRAYERS keep going unanswered, witnessing terrible things (how could God allow this?), your allies committing sinful acts, etc. When these things happen, you must make a TEST OF FAITH (WIS). Failure = go down a faith level.

If in DOUBT and you fail a TEST OF FAITH, you may loose your religion forever (remember it only takes 1 CONTEMPLATION roll to have BELIEF again). Alternatively: could be a d10 with 1 as faithless forever and various other consequences.

Ah to see God’s vision… In order to attain GNOSIS you must be on CERTAINTY, and seize on a crucial moment in the game. It could be self-sacrifice at the perfect time, or using an action on a CONTEMPLATION roll instead of something directly useful when all hells are about to descend on you!
Once you are in a state of GNOSIS, all PRAYERS are EASY and you can perform a miracle. A Miracle is a truly epic/encounter/story changing ability (eg. parting the red sea), but once cast your mortal body can take no more, you pass out for 1d4 rounds and return to CONVICTION level.

Just like MAGIC, there are levels of MASTERY you must unlock. Three schools: Healing/Aiding, Divination and Intervention (basically anything that isn’t the other 2 - usually aggressive). Even if you have CONVICTION level FAITH, if you have not unlocked the 2nd level of mastery, you cannot cast CONVICTION level PRAYERS. However, maybe lower faith level prayers are EASY.
Also holy backfire, because it’s awesome.

So the free form casting is balanced by (1) it having to be thematic, (2) the fact that you could be super high level, but if you’re only on BELIEF you can only cast simple spells and (3) you need both WIS and CHA. Still early days, so we’ll see how broken this could become…
The way the system ties to the narrative is a lot of fun, with the player’s RP corresponding to his FAITH level. Also sometimes he just prays for something without saying the specific effects and waits to see what I will do, which is fun for GMs :smiley:


Wow! That is super cool! I never thought about comparing levels of magic to belief levels. Especially for clerics! Genius!