OSR: Spell Research and Magical Industry, Part 2

Alchemists and wizards have identified twelve kinds magical explosions. The uninitiated bystander can usually only identify one; “a bad ‘un”. Faulty equipment, ambitious experiments, and sabotage can easily level a warehouse or factory. There’s a reason magical warehouses are built with thick walls and thin roofs. 

For the table below, [charge] is the number of magic charges currently in the piece of Magical Equipment, wand, rod, sword, etc. If in doubt, use 1 [charge] for a minor item, 1d6 [charges] for a normal personal magic item, and 4d6 [charges] for a large or powerful item.

If proper failsafes and detectors are in place, Magical Equipment provides 1d6 rounds of warning before exploding. Cheap, badly maintained, or experimental equipment may provide only 1 round of warning.

1d12  Magical Explosions 
1 Calcination. Runaway heating. The device smoulders, smokes, and then detonates, dealing [charge]d6 damage to everything in a [charge]x10’ radius. 
2 Congelation. Thickening and slowing. A sphere of slow time emerges from the device as its core fails. Everything inside the [charge]x10’ radius sphere moves at 1/10th normal speed. The sphere collapses after for 4d6 hours.  
3 Fixation. Locking into a solid form. The device shimmers and crunches. Everything in a [charge]x10’ radius is coated in a thin layer of stone. Requires a hammer to chip people out. 
4 Dissolution. Suspended in liquid. Device liquefies, sizzles, runs like water. The liquid is mildly toxic but does not deal any immediate damage.  
5 Digestion. Sealed and gently heated. The device becomes very warm and cannot be used for [charge] days. 
6 Distillation. Separated by heat. The device shakes and rattles, then flies apart. Everything in a 100’ radius has a [Charge]% chance of being struck by debris and dealt 2d6 damage. 
7 Sublimation. Transformed from a solid into a gas. The device smokes and froths, creating a [charge]x10’ radius cloud of toxic fog. Any living thing in the cloud takes 1d4 damage per round. 
8 Separation. Split into two or more pieces. The device falls apart noisily. It can potentially be repaired. If it contains a spell, the spell is automatically cast. If not, it creates a Stray Spell.
9 Ceration. Addition of liquid during heating. The device softens, then rises 1,000’ in the air before messily exploding. Anything hit by the ascending device takes [charge]d6 damage. Reroll the Weather.
10 Putrefaction. Rotting and corruption. A powerful wave of nausea strikes anyone near the device. Moments later, it collapses into a flickering point of light, then explodes. Any living creature in a [dice]x10’ radius must Save or die. All spells and enchantments in the affected area must Save or end. 
11 Multiplication. Creation of new forms. The device glows, cracks, and suddenly splits into hundreds of bouncing spheres of pure magic. Everything in a [charge]x10’ radius must Save or take 1d20 damage. 
12 Projection. Conversion to a higher form. The device lifts into the air, produces a crackling octarine aura, then disappears with a thunderclap. The explosion produces a nodule of pure occultum worth [charge]x1d100gp. Anyone who looked at the explosion must Save or go mad for 1d6 hours. All magic items or devices within a [charge]x10’ radius have a [charge]% chance of also exploding.  

Note: the 12 types of explosions are based on twelve alchemical processes. Alchemy was a subtle art, and many of the processes are more spiritual than physical. Interpreting them as explosions required a bit of simplification.

Designing New Magical Equipment

The paradigm discussed in the previous post should provide enough information for players and GMs to plausibly create new industrial magic equipment.

First, figure out what you want the device to do. Let's say you want it to capture ghosts and convert them into lightning. Is this possible? Who knows! But it's feasible.

  • The base cost for a new piece of Magical Equipment is 1,000gp.
  • The GM and players decide if the new machine resembles any existing piece of Magical Equipment. If it does, that cost is added. 
  • The GM and players take a look at the generic price list. If anything on that list resembles a part of the new machine, its cost is also added.
  • The GM and players decide if any gemstones or metals are particularly relevant to the machine's intended function. For each metal or gem, add 100gp to the final cost.
Assembling and testing the device takes an entire Season, so won't be ready to use until next Season. The players can throw money at the problem, multiplying all costs by 10, to get it ready this Season.

The players want to build a ghost capturing device and convert the ghosts to lightning for their other project (a giant reverse-lightning rod to blast enemy cities).

  • The base costs is 1,000gp.
  • The device resembles a Spell Breeding Reactor. Spells are like souls, the GM reasons, and this device is technically converting them into new forms. The players want to try a small-scale version first, so the GM suggests a low-level Spell Breeding Reactor (3,000gp).  
  • The device doesn't really resemble or require anything from the price list.
  • The GM decides the machine needs Lead (to trap the ghosts), Silver (to bind and damage them), Mercury (to transform ghosts into lightning), and Ruby (to focus the energy into one form). That's an extra 400gp.
So the final cost is 4,400gp.

Does it work?


If the idea is feasible, the machine works. If the idea is not feasible, don't let the players pay for it. The consequence of failure shouldn't just be money; that's boring.

The really interesting aspect of this whole process is the consequences of using the new machine. How will it alter the world? What will the players need to do to protect their investment? Turning ghosts into lightning won't sit well with some people. Random arcs of lightning flying out of a warehouse may result in fines, fires, and complaints. Lightning can become intelligent and seek revenge. Etc, etc, etc.

Basically, creating new Magical Equipment creates a new pre-apocalyptic condition, even if the equipment was made to try and avert another type of apocalypse.

Also, exciting news!

I have a Patreon now. While most content will appear on this blog, patrons get access to behind-the-scenes content, sneak previews, and other cool goodies.

1 comment:

  1. I love how, with each of these posts, the pieces fall together and we can see more of the complete clockwork.