OSR: Class: Sorcerer

Wizards have mind-guns that shoot spell-ferrets. They train and breed spells.
Warlocks borrow power. So do Paladins.

A Sorcerer's power is their own.

They have turned their souls inward and built a pyre in their hearts. They are more real than the rest of the world. Rare, because their arts cannot be taught, and because they frequently explode. Intolerable, because they cannot abide servitude or obedience. Powerful, because the world reshapes itself to their whims. There are no sorcerers around here; they're all from Foreign Parts and they are all absolutely nuts.

Efflam Mercier

Class: Sorcerer

Starting Equipment: Outlandish Costume
Starting Skill: Foreign Parts

A: Soul Casting, +1 SD

B: Billowing Robes, +1 SD
C: Soul Vision, +1 SD
D: Magic Ward, +1 SD

You gain +2 to Save vs Mind Altering Effects (charm, sleep, mind control) for each Sorcerer template you possess.

If you have a Sorcerer template, your base Save value does not increase. It will always be 5+Charisma Bonus.

Soul Casting

You alter the world through sheer force of will. You need no charms, no runes, no spells, no incantations. Reality is yours to command.

You change the world using your Sorcerer Dice (SD). You gain +1 SD per Sorcerer template to a maximum of 4. Each time you wish to use one of the abilities below, invest any number of your SD. The [sum] of the SD rolled, as well as the number of [dice] invested, may affect the result.

SD can be used any number of times per day. Unlike a wizard's MD, they always return to your pool. However, each time you use your sorcerous powers past the first time per day, add +1 ID (Instability Die) to your pool. These dice do not count towards the [sum] or [dice] of any given power, but they do count towards doubles, triples, and quadruples. Use 2 different colours of dice. You can also add ID to increase the effects of you sorcerous powers.

E.g. Ziwilgo the Sorcerer, level 2, has 2 SD to invest. She wishes to Harm a target and invests both SD. She has used two other sorcerous effects today, so adds +2 ID. Only the 2 SD count towards the [dice] and [sum] of the spell, but all four dice are counted for the purposes of Calamities (doubles, triples, and quadruples.)
Sorcerers don't run out of steam. They have the opposite problem. Like an overcharged locomotive, they sometimes explode. 

Sorcerous Powers

Deal [sum]+[dice] damage to one target creature or object you can see. Creatures and magical objects can Save to negate. Flavour however you'd like: lightning bolts, beams of light, grasping hands from the underworld.

+1 ID for each prior sorcerous effect you've used today.
+1 ID per additional target.


Make a declarative statement affecting one creature or object you can see. The statement is true for [dice] rounds. The statement cannot cause damage directly (use Harm), move a creature or object, or create new objects or effects (use Create). Creatures and magical objects can Save to avoid being altered.
E.g. "This door does not exist." You can walk through the space the door formerly occupied.
"The dragon is now a mole". The dragon still has all its original abilities and HP, but it might be easier to hit.
"The dragon is made of paper." The dragon is now made of paper for [dice] rounds. If you set it on fire with a torch, it will take extra damage.
+1 ID for each prior sorcerous effect you've used today.
+1 ID per additional target.

+1 ID to affect an area the size of a wagon.
+2 ID to affect an area the size of a cottage.
+3 ID to affect an area the size of a village.
+1 ID to make the effect last for [dice] minutes.

+2 ID to make the effect last for [dice] hours.
+3 ID to make the effect last for [dice] days.

Create something. The creature or object created exists for [dice] rounds. Without adding ID, the creature is person-sized or smaller and has 2 or fewer HD. Objects are person-sized or smaller.  

Creatures created cannot deal damage. You can create objects with magical effects (flying carpets, invisibility cloaks), but created objects cannot deal magical damage (you can make a regular sword but not a +10 vorpal sword of fire) or 
or provide permanent effects (healing potions only heal for the duration listed, rings of permanent stat gain only work for the duration). You can make a sword that looks like a +10 vorpal sword of fire though.

+1 ID for each prior sorcerous effect you've used today.
+1 ID per additional object or creature created.

+2 ID to create a creature of up to +4 HD.
+1 ID to create an object the size of a wagon.
+2 ID to create an object the size of a cottage.
+3 ID to create an object the size of a village.
+1 ID to create a magical or sufficiently weird object.
+1 ID to make the creature or 
object last for [dice] minutes.

+2 ID to make the creature or object last for [dice] hours.
+3 ID to make the creature or object last for [dice] days.
Jens Kuczwara

Billowing Robes
If you are wearing an outlandish costume worth at least 10gp, your armour counts as Leather.
If you are wearing an outlandish costume worth at least 100gp, your armour counts as Chain.
If you are wearing an outlandish costume worth at least 1,000gp, your armour counts as Plate.

Soul Vision

You can see the souls of living creatures. This allows you to guess the approximate location of invisible creatures. You can also immediately tell if a person is possessed, undead, protected by the Authority, or a spellcaster. The price for this gift is your connection to others. You permanently lose 1d6 Wisdom (as the constant scrutiny of souls warps your mind) or 1d6 Charisma (as you become callous and jaded). 

Magic Ward

Reduce all incoming magic damage by 2. Does not apply to self-inflicted damage. Once per day, negate the effects of a spell that targets you. Does not apply to spells generated by Calamities.
Chenthooran Nambiarooran

Sorcerous Calamities

1 Brightly coloured sparks fly from your ears. 
2 You make a noise like a thunderclap.
3 A strong wind billows around you, extinguishing all torches and candles within 20'.
4 You act last in the next initiative round.
5 You broadcast your current emotional state. Everyone in a 60' radius must Save or experience your emotional state.
6 Take 1d6 damage.
1 Effect targets adjacent target instead (harms next nearest person, alters wrong thing, creates related but not identical item).
2 Teleport 1d6x10' in a random direction.
3 A random spell is also cast on your target.
4 Take 1d6 damage. You are flung 1d10' in a random direction.
5 Add +1 ID to all rolls for the rest of the day.
6 Take 2d6 damage.  If reduced to 0 HP or below, explode. 3d6 damage, 20' radius.
1 Lose 1d6 permanently from a random Stat.
2 Effect is reversed (harm heals, alter in opposite manner, create the opposite of what was intended).
3 Effect is maliciously altered (harm targets an ally, alter makes the target more dangerous, create something inconvenient).
4 A random spell is also cast, targeting you.
5 Roll on the Death and Dismemberment table (1d6 for location, 1d12+previous injuries for severity). HP is not reduced. 
6 Take 3d6 damage. If reduced to 0 HP or below, explode. 5d6 damage, 50' radius.

Jens Kuczwara

Mechanical Notes on the Sorcerer

At level 1 you have an infinite-use magic missile. Wow! Overpowered, right?
Well, possibly. The problem is that you might explode. You are not stealthy, not subtle, and not inclined to use your brain when you could use your powers. Unlike a wizards, who must carefully chose when to deploy their powers, sorcerers are full-speed all the time.

You gain a few powerful abilities, but your Save never increases, making you more vulnerable than most classes. Your stats are also likely to decrease (though you could, feasibly, alter yourself to have higher stats temporarily).

You can heal people using alter, but the wounds reappear when the duration expires. Reality will, eventually, override your impositions.

2018/10/14 - the doubles/triples/quads tables have been revised based on playtesting.

Who Are You?

You are a Sorcerer. Elves might be arrogant, but you operate on another level entirely. Your pride, sense of self, and sheer bloody-mindedness override reality. You brook no competition; there can be only one sorcerer in any given party, city, cabal, or cult. You will accept no master and believe in no law but your own. To the feudal system, you are an Outlaw. To the Church, you are an appalling spectacle, and should be put in your place (or in the ground) before you harm anyone else.

You might be tempted to optimize your Sorcerous Powers, but consider... is that what a power-addled, overconfident, and utterly self-assured sorcerer would do? Would they do the best thing or the coolest thing?

Generate a name here if you're stuck.

You can say, "I'd like to make a bridge from here to here" when using a sorcerous ability, but you are also free to shout, "Stones! Heed the word of Ziwilgo!" Sorcerers tend to chew scenery.
Simon Pape

Outlandish Costumes and Ambient Sorceries

Roll once on each table when you gain your first Sorcerer template.

1d10 Outlandish Costume Ambient Sorcery
1 Long woven cloak of many colours. Clap hands to take 1 damage and teleport 1'. 
2 Thick coat made of human skin and hair. Can read any language, but must read out loud.
3 Living full-body tattoos of scenery, birds, clouds. Thumb or nose can glow as brightly as a candle.
4 Turban and billowing silk robes. Cross legs and close eyes to hover 2' off the ground.
5 Three conical felt hats stacked inside each other. If you hold your breath, you weigh as much as a feather.
6 Coat made of pierced sea-shells. Pleasant, exotic, spicy smell. Can turn on and off at will.
7 Nude, save for a few modest scraps of leather. Invisible to birds.
8 Extraordinarily long eyebrows and fingernails. Rain or snow will not fall on you.
9 Geometric robes with silver symbols. Do not need to eat or drink. Eat 1 gold piece per day instead.
10 One strip of cloth wound around your entire body. Invisible to cats.


  1. I liked it a lot!

    The only change I would made (MAYBE!) is change Harm to Destroy and add the +# FSD for area. Maybe let +# FSD for time but that overlap a bit with the other two...

    BTW, I don't know if that was your source of inspiration but that reminded of hinduism and its Trimurti (creation > order > destruction) which was one of the bases for the cosmology of Werewolf: The Apacalypse.

    1. Ah, but consider what havoc a level 1 Sorcerer could do by inflicting 1d6 damage on an area the size of a village...

      Plus, the individual target approach makes more sense. Alter and Create is the sorcerer imposing their perception on the underlying fabric of reality. Eventually reality catches on and sproings back. Harm is them using their soul-stuff do directly overwrite the soul-stuff of other creatures or objects.

      Bit based on mysticism, bit based on alchemy. The create/alter/destroy triangle shows up everywhere.

    2. I can only imagine sorcerer named Tim...

  2. This fits perfectly as the mechanics for my Liars of Tsugumi. And the outlandish costume = armor idea was something I was throwing around. Thanks! Keep doing my work for me!

  3. This is completely insane and bordering on the nonsensical...

    I love it!

  4. This is really brilliant, especially how it poses a sort of opposite to the wizard, as you mentioned. One suggestion i would make, if you're interested, is to change 'false sorcerer dice' to something more intuitive and distinct like 'instability dice.' Not really a problem, just trying to contribute.

  5. I absolutely love open-ended magic systems like this; I spent a lot of time noodling over the Chaos Mage from "Encyclopedia Arcane: Chaos Magic" and trying to figure out how to make the concept work in a more functional way, then did it all over again when the various Words of Power systems all seemed to come out inside of a few months of each other. I'm curious, though, about a difficulty I ran into as both a player and a DM:

    During combat, a Sorcerer in your game wants to use Create to declare that a solid iron block the size of a person has appeared over an enemy. The player successfully rolls for it to happen without any seriously nutty doubles/triples/quadruples.

    How do you adjudicate the damage of this effect? If it works and deals damage, how does that compare to just using Harm? If the player would be told to use Harm in the first place, are non-creature Create effects also prohibited from dealing damage?

    1. Similar thoughts for things like, "If I can Alter myself to increase my stats, are there limits to what my stats can be for that duration?"

      Perhaps these questions (per your note about optimization) are against the spirit of the class/game/OSR in general, but I'd love to use this material and players always tend to ask about this sort of thing sooner rather than later.

    2. Example 1. Creating an iron cube over an enemy. The cube falls, deals [whatever]d6 damage, and probably kills the creature. The cube exists and the creature remains dead for the duration of the Create effect. When the effect ends, the cube vanishes and the creature is no longer dead.

      Sorcerers temporarily impose their reality over true reality. Someone eventually notices and corrects the mistake, but /for the duration/ it is true. The creature ends up in their appropriate afterlife (but ahead of schedule, probably causing a lot of trouble). In some cases this might result in permanent death anyway (an escaped demon, a long-lived necromancer), but most of the time they will be returned to their body when normal order is reimposed on the universe.

      Harm is the sorcerer's soul vs the target's soul. It's not an issue of perspective, it's a matter of will, and therefore permanent.

      Example 2. Altering stats.
      Aside from the fact that I cap stats at 20, and I'd rule that you can only Alter one per SD roll... what self-respecting arrogant sorcerer would ever alter themselves? It's the world that needs to change, not them!

  6. THis is great, was looking for an OSR friendly sorcerer that is distinct from a wizard. Will use an updated version for my 5e-osr-haced campaign. When you refer to magic calamities, which system are you refereing to? Would like to read up on these as well. Thanks.

    1. The calamities are in this post - just after Magic Ward.

    2. Doh, no idea how I missed that. Thanks.