MAGEBLADE: magicky swag to buy

I almost never let characters buy magic items. Make, yes; buy, not really.

But in the first Mageblade in the City of Khosura there’s a priest called Caius bin Caius that sells potions. So we tried. And we liked it. So, there you go.

Here’s the list of stuff commonly available for sale if there’s an alchemist:

  • Blazing Oil: 20c: Catches fire super-easily, deals 1d6 damage for 2 rounds.
  • Oil of Fire Protection: 300c: half damage from fire. If a save is allowed to reduce or deny damage, an extra save is allowed to reduce or deny damage.
  • Healing Geode: 500c: Once per day heals 1d6 cuts or blunt damage at the cost of 1 mana.
  • Thaumaturgic Gem: 500c: Once per day heals 1d6 burn or cold or acid damage at the cost of 1 mana.

And this from a pharmacist:

  • Healing potion: 50c: heals 1d6+3 damage.
  • Antidote: 100c: counters poison effects.
  • Life potion: 250c: heals 3d6+5 or 3 sips for 1d6+3.
  • Balm of Restoration: 2000c: Heals 1d6 stat damage. It’s also a material component for the Death unto Life spell.

And this from an Apotropaist (or the kind of witch that removes evil eyes or whatnots):

  • Goat: 4c: it’s a goat, it bleats, it screams like a human. It’s great for sacrifices or monster fodder. It poops at random.
  • Blessed Water: 40c: deals 2d4 to undeads.
  • Hamza: +4:300, +6:900: protects the character from ill luck. When the character fails a save, add the bonus of the amulet creator to the roll: if the new total passes, the character saved and the amulet breaks.
  • Candle of Respite: 1200c: it removes the curse, but only if the creator level is at least the same as the curse caster.

Free: Whitebox Wizardry, and one day maybe probably how to make it into a real book.

Some people asked: how do you start binding books?

By taking a course or just, you know, get needle and thread and fool around with paper.

Since not all of you might live in a city with a university or an art school, I made this:

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This is going to be two things: first, PDF files to download and print. Get them here: normal PDF and imposition PDF. The first file is also handy to use on mobile. Don’t use the second on mobile: it’s to be printed duplex, folded in a specific way and bound.

Second, a small tutorial on how to make some small (literally, they are going to be in A7 format), utilitarian books to use at the table. I’ll try to stick to no-glue books, mostly because every time I used glue recently I more or less destroyed the whole book and got really upset (if you wonder why I’m not selling handbound stuff anymore, it’s because I’m cursed). I have no idea when the tutorial part is going to be out: the PDF took only some light finangling to do, but the tutorial will take a while to put together.

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Khosura Street Blues: where I get lazy and tell you about how my campaign is going making a post with some pictures, plus an attempt at a Knotromancy School for W&W

I’ve been running one of the two Mageblade playtest campaigns in Khosura [post in Hungarian], written by the always awesome Gabor Lux. I’m playing a prewritten module because I’m playtesting and I’d rather spend more time evaluating how the game mechanics behave and not tinker with the world as I go: less prep is better prep. Also, Mageblade requires no adaptation whatsoever from your typical D&D, you only need to raise[lower] AC by 2.

(see what I did there? I made a funny).

At any rate, this is the amount of Khosuran underworld we explored in about 6-7 sessions.

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Yes in Glasgow we drink a lot of Tennets. Those in the front of the screen are dead PCs to remind players that I am a cruel douchebag.

Khosura seems to be one of those dungeons where sessions alternate between exploratory (finding interesting stuff) and resolving (getting the sweet swag out). At any rate, the party last night was as usual not at its full. In order from right to left: Durgon the Fighter, Alyna (yep, that’s a rogue with a scumbag hat and a monkey), Cailan the Knotromancer with his rope.

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Durgon is short because I clearly can’t draw, depicted with his re-re-replaced plate mail. Durgon uses a pollaxe, not a sword, sorry. Alyna has dagers, but never dual-wielded daggers in her life, and I think she actually never made an attack roll ever in two sessions as she always, always slithers away. She’s good at that. Sometimes Cailan goes around with a goat, but only for sacrifice purposes, blame Brendan, and he’s depicted with his pet magic rope. Spaturny not depicted, but he usually goes around with a bag on his head. Rhaegar is also absent, together wish his basilisk-in-a-cloaked-cage.

Wait, Knotcromancer? It’s complicated. In my games a lot of casters tend to study a field of magic but also necromancy, for obvious reasons: it’s a very concrete, god-of-the-flesh, effective, if totally unsubtle school, so its perfect for those adventury shit-hits-fan, make-or-break times.

But Cailan is not like that. Cailan is a necromancer that is totally ashamed of being a necromancer, and never admits being one. So I started calling him Not-romancer. And he got progressively more and more funny (and by funny, I really mean creepy and weird yet hilarious) about his magic pet rope.

At any rate, how did Cailan get his magic rope? I make starting PCs roll on the Kata Kumbas Inheritance Tables. This is the Summoner/MU table:

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No game mechanics defined for at least half of these objects. Yes, you can get 4 geese or an axe that never misses its target or a plum shortcrust pie or a pet snake. Roll well.

So Spaturny got a Gnostic Gem of Healing (spend a mana to heal 1d6, once a day) and a Ring of the Sea Gods, while Cailan got a magic rope and a bottled metamorphic ectoplasm.

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58 it is

So it happens that Kailan has a bit of an easy trigger with magic and ends up always with no mana too soon. This is col because he’s forced to deal with what he has available, which in this case is an enchanted rope that can move as long as he holds it. So he used it to lazo treasures away from traps, rescue comrades fallen in deep waters, and so on. And treat it like a pet. Sam (Kailan’s player) feared he was pissing me off with this creative use, but it’s totally, totally fine, and when I groan and facepalm is because I’m surprised by the player creativity.

So Gary asked if I meant Notromancer or Knotromancer, and obviously it’s both.

So, here’s a first selection of Knotromancy spells. All have a 50′ long rope as target.

Sorcery School of Knotromancy

Brendan, don’t worry, they are not for the revised W&W.

  1. Rope Trick – you know that spell you throw the rope up and can climb and hide in a nook between dimensions able to host 1 person for sorcerer level? that one. You can also pull the rope in the nook.
  2. Tangle – like Entangle, but with a rope, affects only enemies. Victims are still slowed by the rope even if they save. Can be deployed with a glyph.
  3. Shuffle the Mortal Coils  – Ropes to “Snakes” that are actually still ropes: a rope per level, HD: 3, AC: 7[13], DMG: 1 tight squeeze, Special: after hitting either pin or constrict for 1d8 damage. Each rope has a 5% chance per sorcerer level of being a deadly rope, and when constricting the victim must save vs death/paralysis or die. The spell can be reversed and make real snakes into ropes, splicing them together if needed, permanently. I’m going to remind you that permanent spells can be dispelled.
  4. Stupendous Strand – a held rope can be completely controlled in its motion and can be made incredibly rigid and impervious to damage. In combat can trip/disarm/whip as a magic whip +1.
  5. How Long is a String? – for a turn the sorcerer can extend the rope up to 100 yards per sorcerer level. It’s not stretched nor elastic, the spell simply makes the rope longer (and shorter) as needed, and only when wanted. If still elongated at the end of the spell, the rope unravels into long, impossibly narrow and very weak fibres.
  6. Rope is Always Handy – the rope ties itself around the caster and acts as a third, mind-controlled yet semi-sentient, fully capable hand. Grants an extra attack.
  7. Bind, like the one from Diabolism but with Ropes – because you’re not a Coenobite.
  8. Cat’s Cradle – the sorcerer does some complicated figure-work with a rope, in a complicated yet silent spell cast over many rounds. In the first round, the sorcerer makes an opening, which has no effect. Every following round the sorcerer can elaborate the figure and either unleash the figure’s power or hold it to elaborate it into a different figure next round. The sorcerer knows an opening plus 2 figures per level (which can be openings). This is a tree with some of the possible figures: from a figure it’s possible to make figures tabbed within it; so from cradle, mattress, then candles, then either saw (which is terminal, and must be unleashed) or diamonds, then cat’s eye, etc.
    1. Opening A: opening, no power
      1. Open the Gate: unlocks and opens a door within 10′.
      2. Find the Owl: Detect Avian, 200 yards radius
      3. Dugout Canoe: the rope becomes a dugout canoe.
        1. Crab: the rope become a cranky crab: AC:1[18], 1HD per sorcerer level, ATK: claws 2x1d6. While hostile to the sorcerer’s enemies, its not friendly to the sorcerer either.
      4. Path to the Well: as the Find Water spell.
    2. Opening B: Opening, no power
      1. Fire Drill: seats a nearby thing on fire. Even people.
      2. What Will You Do?: as Confusion, lasts 1d3 rounds
    3. Cradle: opening, no power
      1. Mattress: up to 1 HD per sorcerer level must save or falls asleep.
        1. Candles: the rope shines bright light for 1 hour
          1. Manger: the rope becomes a meal for a person per sorcerer level
            1. Saw: a object or being of wood within 30′ is cut in twain.
            2. Diamonds: the rope looks and feels as if it’s made of pure gold strands.
              1. Cat’s Eye: the sorcerer can see in near-darkness as if it was in full daylight
                1. Fish in a Dish: if offering some food to someone, the reaction is automatically improved by 1 step (similar to Bewitch).
                  1. Hand Drum: terrifying noises make all enemies of lower level than the sorcerer flee if they fail a save.
                    1. Lucky Tea Kettle: it enchants a kettle of warm brew, enough for 3 people; if immedialtely drank, the drinker can reroll a die in the next hour.
    4. Index: opening, no power
      1. Fish: the rope become a fish friendly to the caster with AC:5[14], 1HD per caster level, and of proportionate size. It can be ridden by a human for each HD over 2.
        1. Pig: like Fish, but a pig.
        2. Frog: like Fish, but a frog.
        3. Dazzle: everyone within 20′ must save or stare at the rope. Bedazzled victims are freed when shaken or attacked

None of these spells have been playtested (except those that are inspired by other spells), so CAVEAT EMPTOR.

 

 

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Rub-a-D&D: butcher, baker, candlestick-maker, tinker, tailor, soldier, sailor: the Spy as a B/X class

Rub a dub dub,
Three fools in a tub,
And who do you think they be?
The butcher, the baker,
The candlestick maker.
Turn them out, knaves all three

 

The Spy: a full-shenanigans B/X class

Your butcher has always been a bit odd, and did not know the difference between sirloin and ribeye. The baker also, but for the opposite reason: he was honest and delivered always full-weight loaves. The candlestick maker gilting was great but the candlesticks were clearly not well lathed.

That’s because they were not tradesmen.

They were knaves.

They were competent spies under cover.

HP, Saves, hitrolls as clerics. Primary stat is Charisma.

Level XP Title
1 1250 butcher
2 2500 baker
3 5000 candlestick-maker
4 10000 tinker
5 20000 tailor
6 42500 soldier
7 70000 sailor
8 110000 Spy
9 160000 Spy-master
10 220000 Spy-master
11 440000 Spy-master
12 660000 Spy-master

Coverup: the Spy gets some basic training in whichever trade their title is. So level 1 spies get basic training as butchers. At level 2 as bakers. Level 3? Candlestick makers. The problem is that sometimes they are not that competent, but often it does not matter. So for expert tasks they get only a 3-in-6 chance of success modified by their reaction bonus: they might not do a great job, but they are great at selling themselves.

Three fools in a tub: spies in cities can locate another spy in 1d6 days and get useful something in exchange for something (material, contacts, information, safe haven, safe conduit are examples of what can be exchanged) if a successful reaction roll is made. Woe if the reaction roll fails.

Great Coverup: At level 8 they can either roll any of these rolls twice and pick the best result or have a 95% chance of coming up with a convincing reason, happenstance or coverup for the job not to be successful. For example having the workbench collapse, or the horse outside the shop to catch fire, or just mind tricks. Or, surely the best, they can convince you that you seriously do not need that gigot cop today, sausages will be better with turnips, or that, seriously Capitain, the mortar was somewhat cracked already.

Rogue Skills: use 1d6 Thieving, but starts with only 5 points. Gets 1 point per level gained. Or as a rogue of half their level, round up.

Agency: at level 9 Spies can set up an agency. They will attract 1d6 level 1 PCs per season, half of them spies, maximum one per Spy-master level. As they die, they will be replaced as long as the Spy-master does a good job of covering up their demise.

 

Magia Nova: new spells, old spells

Here’s some new spells and some old spells and some in-between spells from Magia Nova. Each spell has an Art (like Cambio/Change or Creo/Create) and a form (Foco/Fire /Magic or Aria/Air/Spirit), so there are spells for all combinations for each level. You can see all level 1 spells in Grimorio da Tasca.

Developmentwise, it’s been complicated. Inspired by Ars Magica, I started with more Ars and more Forms, but then narrowed them down to 4 Arts and 4 Elements as I wanted to use mostly OD&D spells analogues from S&W Whitebox.

So, old spells just stay normal, but sometimes their wording is changed a bit, either to fit the short-form, or to make them fit the short form, or to fit the art-element frame, like this level 1 Creo Foco spell, made to replace Light:

Flame

Range: 120′. Duration: 1 h. + 10 min./lvl

The caster creates a flame big as a fist and bright as a torch, coming off target object. It does not need fuel and spreads like normal fire. The burning object deals 1d6 damage if used in melee.

Then there’s the “well, your annoyingly narrow focus is now more entertaining” category, level 2 Sento Aria (Aria also covers spells about spirits and illusion and ethereal stuff in general):

Pierce the Veil of Deception

Range: self. Duration: 1 h.

This caster can see what otherwise would be magically invisible or hard to see, like secret doors, invisible or ethereal beings. In addition they will sense that there’s something wrong while exposed to other types of illusions and phantasms.

Pierce the Veil of Deception is here to replace and extend Detect Invisible, with a better name. Then, as the framing is for 108 spells there’s the”just new spells”, as the grids were gappy, so a level 2 for Creo Aqua (Create Water, which also covers life):

Life Ebullient

Range: touch. Duration: 1 h.

The subject creature becomes engorged with bristling energy and either recovers all temporary da­mage or gains 2d4+2 temporary hits.

Two spells did not fit in the grid, but:

  • you either won’t miss Magic Missile because you hate it, or you’ll use Maleficence rules that let you shoot noxious effects.
  • Move Earth got moved to level 5 and merged with Rock to Mud, into this new level 5 Cambio Terra (Change Earth) spell here, which fits into the “in-between”:

Bind the Hills

Range: touch. Duration: 1 h.

The spell alters orology, moving earth, hills, mountains at 6 feet/minute: when the spell ends the earth stops moving. The spell can also alter earth, stone and mud into each other, but this change changes to normal after 3d6 days.

There are also 2 more spells that don’t fit: Summon Elemental and Animate Dead. but those have some special rules themselves.

DODECATHAUMAGRAMS OF THE MANIFOLD NEXUS

The Great Bureaucracy is busy writing a whole lot of thaumagrams writs, busy somewhere in the infinite tangle that is the Manifold Nexus. It does mostly bespoke jobs by hand for the Quaesitors and the Harassers, but a whole lot of work is done with blocks bearing the mirror image of a thaumagram in relief. The block is inked with inks made with a base of aged blessed wizard blood, sinner bile and spider venom, then silk is applied on the block and rubbed energetically, impressing the design on the fabric. These writs are then left to dry until ready to be rolled, stamped and numbered, cased (usually in long hollow bones or tubes of iron or jade) and eventually shuffled along the multiverse crawlspace toward their destination.

ONE STEP BACK

Back in the day I read Orion by Masamune Shirow. It has some special juju babble that is fantastic, and it left me very impressed. Seska’s sheer badassery and curves also left a teenager Paolo very impressed.

Anyway, a whole lot of magic in Orion is based about written form. So calligraphy and power words and sigils and whatnot. Here Seska is trying to… I’m not sure. That comic is incredibly obscure. I think she drew a massive ward to keep out Susanoo the god of Storms and at the same time… monitor the water element or somesuch.

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Also, Susanoo kicks so much ass in this comic. Probably because he’s a god.

A CATALOGUE OF THE DODECATHAUMAGRAMS

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The name says that the DODECATHAUMAGRAMS are twelve:

  1. VIOLENT DARKNESS VORTEX, which obfuscates the sight and the judgement but not the drive, leading the victim to inflict violence and dark sorcery on friends and foes alike. For one turn the victim decides whether to attack or cast an offensive spell, but the target is at random. Save negates.
  2. BLEAK GLOOM OCTAGON, leaving the victim listless, incapable of acting for 1 turn. Save every round.
  3. PURE CLEANSE CIRCLE, the victim is cleansed of all curses and negative spell effects for a day. No save.
  4. UTTER DISPEL CROSS, the victim is completely purged from magic effects, and won’t be able to work magic or use magic items for the next 1d6 rounds either. Save to avoid.
  5. RUBY FIRE BARBS, the victim catches fire and takes 1d6 damage every round for 1 turn. No save, but Stop, Drop & Roll grants a save to terminate the effect
  6. WHITE SANCTUARY CIRCLE, a person stepping inside its bounds has an additional 50% save against any attack or negative spell, effect or ability. The Circle stop working if the subject leaves or commits an aggressive act, or after a day.
  7. PURPLE DEMON TRIDENT, summons a 3 HD fire demon that every round deals 1d6 fire damage to everyone within 10′, save to halve. The demon is hellbent on arson, murder and jaywalking and totally not under the control of the caster. It burns off in 1 turn.
  8. GOLD CHARM HEART, makes the victim totally fall in love with the writ-giver for 1 turn. Save negates.
  9. GREEN LIFE SQUARE, heals 2d6 HP. Save negates, as this deals damage to undeads.
  10. SILVER BANISH ASTERISK, banishing the victim for a day to their plane of origin. Works only on those that are not on their plane of origin. Save negates.

The eleventh and twelfth DODECATHAUMAGRAM have not been leaked yet.

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There are a few ways of using the DODECATHAUMAGRAMS in your game. Mageblade will have another method, and it will be really important for one of the classes.

DODECATHAUMAGRAM WRITS

Writs are special scrolls that are used as melee weapons. Often the printed writs appear in the black market, or become available from bureaucrats in need of a quick penny, usually for at least 500-1000 coins each. They must be unrolled with two hands and then used to hit the opponent. This makes the awkward to use if you are busy with sword and shield already, unless you want to drop your weapon and shield, maybe?

Writs are single-use items. In melee, wield the writ and hit unarmored AC, save applies when specified above. In Into the Odd, they are weapons dealing 1d4-1 which, if they were to deal damage, instead do zero damage and affect the target if the save. As an alternative, they can be thrown up to 10′ away. Once the victim is hit, regardless of whether the victim saves, the scrip is ruined and usually dissipates entirely in thin blue smoke.

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THAUMAGRAM ORDERS

The origins of the DODECATHAUMAGRAMS are uncertain. What’s surprising is that some cults worship icons of Saints or complex drawings that are, thaumaturgically speaking, isometrical to the DODECATHAUMAGRAMS. This might hint at a deeper trilaeral symmetry between the Left-Right Hand Path Correspondence, the Manifold Fractal and the Nature of Godhood. Or it might be entirely dumb chance. Or utter poppycock. Further research is warranted. The Great Bureaucracy is not bothered at all by this.

Clerics can be of one of these cults. They lose the Turn Undead capacity, but each cult has an icon they worship and use as holy symbol: pick one of the following invocations. The cleric can use the icon once a day, plus convert not-yet-cast spell slots of any level to power the icon. The icon is not applied, but simply shown to a victim or pointed toward a target within 10′ as an invocation is made, no touch attack needed.

  1. ICON OF ST. SYT’S SUPPLICE BY LIEGE VASSAL is isometrical to VIOLENT DARKNESS VORTEX
  2. ICON OF ST. CIUCO’S CONTEMPLATION OF ALTERNATIVES is isometrical to BLEAK GLOOM OCTAGON
  3. ICON OF ST. HARALD’S BAPTISM IN THE RIVER is isometrical to PURE CLEANSE CIRCLE
  4. ICON OF ST. MORNA’S RESPITE AT LAST is isometrical to UTTER DISPEL CROSS
  5. ICON OF ST. BARNAS’S TANTRUM AT THE GATE is isometrical to RUBY FIRE BARBS
  6. ICON OF ST. SCIURA’S CHILLING IN HER GROTTO is isometrical to WHITE SANCTUARY CIRCLE
  7. FLAME OUROBOROS PATTERN is isometrical to PURPLE DEMON TRIDENT
  8. STATUETTE OF THE SAUCY HONEY GODDESS is isomatrical to GOLD CHARM HEART
  9. SNAKES TANGLE WEAVE is isometrical to GREEN LIFE SQUARE
  10. OSMIUM CROSS WITH HOOKS POINTING TOWARDS SUNRISE is isometrical to SILVER BANISH ASTERISK

DODECATHAUMAGRAMMATA SCHOOL

What’s more concerning for the bureaucracy is that some of its secrets have leaked and some savants learnt how to simply trace the DODECATHAUMAGRAMS by hand, in a few seconds. Quaesitors are always on the lookout for this kind of infraction and, when found, Harassers are dispatched urgently to curb it and give an example to everybody.

Do you even Wonder & Wickedness? The DODECATHAUMAGRAMS can be used as W&W spells. To cast them, use the usual W&W rules, but to cast them the sorcerer simply traces the glyph mid air and then concludes it by touching the victim or the target. A touch melee attack might be needed. If the attack fails the sorcerer can of course try to touch the victim again in the next rounds.

Sneak Peek: Magia Nova: Il Novissimo Metodo Didattico delle Arti Magiche

Oh, the joys of writing something purely for D&D. I’ve been working on a word/runic magic system for a while and while I was at it I though I could just spin off one of its subsystems. I also took the occasion to make a book with all the S&W Whitebox spells, but organized by level and not in alphabetical order.
Yeah, I know, de gustibus non disputandum but there is clearly a WRONG and a RIGHT way, and the alphabetical sort is a pain in the ass when you’re trying to allocate slots and need to check spell details across the level. Which is much a much more common scenario compared to, say, check spell details across the spells starting with the letter S. If you need to find a spell by name, an analytical index will do.
Hence Magia Nova! The principle of this new didactic method is a blah blah taxonomic approach blah blah system of mysticism blah blah correspondences blah blah great pedagogy blah blah left hand, right hand blah blah. Ok, enough babble. The whole point is that the Magic User will learn Arts and Elements instead of single spells.

Four are the Arts:

  • Creo for Creation
  • Disfo for Undoing
  • Sento for Perception
  • Cambio for Change and Control
Four are the Elements:
  • Foco for Fire and therefore Magic
  • Aria for Air and therefore Spirit and Perception
  • Aqua for Water and therefore Life
  • Terra for Earth and therefore Matter

The casters start by knowing an Art and an Element and will progressively get better at casting spells and gain more Arts and Elements. In due time they will fully master a specific type of magic, and summon elemental spirits.

This is the spell list as it is now:

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Stars and question marks are safely ignored (they are notes for me). Some of those gaps might be filled, and things rejigged, but that’s the gist of it.

You will find a resemblance to Ars Magica by Tweed and Rein-Hagen. The resemblance is indeed there, but.

First, I love Ars Magica. Gangs & Bullshit owe a lot to it. Also Chthonic Codex. But Magia Nova is a different beast. Merely identifying spell groups with 2 words (or two runes, which is exactly the same) is the extent of the copying. They picked Latin, I picked oldy Italian.

I could have picked English. I didn’t for two reasons: the first is that picking premodern Italian makes it peculiar even for Italians, the second is that it’s better to have domain-specific terms for game elements. If your GM says you’re stunned by someone’s display of wealth, they probably do not mean that your character can only move slowly this round. They just used a turn of phrase which happens to use a word that means something different from a metagame perspective: you’re outside of the game and you use words to describe it that do not mean the same to people in the game. For game terms choose words you would otherwise not use to avoid confusion (no, not the spell).

Second: this whole thing started though with a different approach: create a taxonomy, and see how to allocate existing D&D spells to its subdivisions in an interesting way, rather than coming up with a system and creating new spells fitting in it (which is I guess how the Ars Magica spellbook was developed).

There will be a new, alternate Magic User, the spellcasting rules, the spells sorted by level (with some new spells), a handful of new monsters and, possibly, a few magic items. I have no idea when this will be ready, but given most of the spells come straight from the book it won’t take long.