Spell categories - An exercise

As an exercise in curiosity (and with a possible view to some further analysis), I’ve started a spreadsheet that categorises each spell in Core and the PC into one of the 11 types Alex describes in the PC.

Extracting this info for most of them is fairly straightforward, and I’m left with about 60 that I’m not so sure about.

I thought I’d crowdsource!

If anyone cares to take a look, stick an X in the relevant column for any spell that has a red cell at the end of the row (and feel free to review anything that’s already been done - I may have screwed up)

The link is here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0Ah7HGPHwVxS5dFBZajJLTkUzcWM4WFY0djJJd09ITWc&usp=sharing

(This is crossposted to the G+ community)

Per my design records, these are the spells I was unable to officially categorize using the Player’s Companion.

They do fall into some loose and unofficial categories, noted below.

“Informative Spells That Ruin Your Campaign’s Mysteries”
Read Languages
Contact Other Plane
Wizard Eye

“Environmental Spells That Are Really Useful on the Battlefield”
Control Weather
Lower Water
Move Earth
Control Wind
Summon Weather
Call Lightning
Produce Fire
[I almost got these to working in a category called “manipulations” but it didn’t come together]

“Tesla-Edison Memorial Spells That if Unchecked Lead to Electric Lighting”
Continual Light

“Spells That No One Would Memorize Under Vancian Casting But Which Are Now Super Useful To Know in ACKS”
Hold Portal
Floating Disc
Spell Storing
Magic Jar
Enchanted Container
X-Ray Vision

“Overpowered Spells that Destroy NPC Main Villains A Lot”
Dispel Evil

“Spells That Stack With Bard Inspire Courage And Result In Lots of Low-Level Monsters Being Cleaved”
Holy Chant

“Powerful Ritual Spells I Thought Were Cool”
Undead Legion
Life Trapping
Temp Stasis
Life Trapping
Spell Turning

Magic Carpet - Movement
Strength of Mind - Protection
Striking - Transmogrification
Swift Sword - Movement

Thanks Alex. That’s super helpful!

I’ve been through and captured everything I think is straightforward. I’m left with a number of spells that I’m not sure where they belong. I’ve got guesses, but if possible, I’d like some additional input.

Atonement - Enchantment? Healing? Protection?
Augury - Detection?
Create Food - Transmogrification?
Create Water - Transmogrification?
Faerie Fire - Transmogrification?
Feign Death - Death? Enchantment? Transmogrification?
Garble* - Transmogrification?
Magic Rope - Movement?
Pass without Trace - Movement? Transmogrification?
Predict Weather - Detection?
Purify Food and Water* - Transmogrification?
Putrefy Food and Water* - Transmogrification?
Remove Curse* - Healing? Protection?
Righteous Wrath - Enchantment? Transmogrification?
Slipperiness - Transmogrification?
Speak with Animals - Transmogrification?
Speak with Dead - Transmogrification?
Speak with Plants - Transmogrification?
Tongues* - Transmogrification?
Uncanny Gyration - Enchantment?
Unseen Servant - Summoning?
Vigor - Healing? Transmogrification?
Warp Wood - Transmogrification?
Web - Wall?
Wizard Lock - Transmogrification?

Curiouser and Curiouser…

Alex - How would you build Sword of Fire? I tried building it as a blast spell - as it does direct damage similar to Spiritual Weapon, but it doesn’t work very well. Clearly I’ve slotted it in the wrong school.

(also any answers to my previous post are very much appreciated)

Transmogrification can be refreshingly versatile if you paint with a broad brush - Wizard Lock is a good example; you’ve changed the door into a door which is magically locked. It’s “dumb”, but it works for a lot of things (Pass Without Trace is another one like that, but could also be Enchantment)

Faerie Fire ought to be whatever Light/Continual Light are, I’d think.

Feign Death and Speak with Dead; I’d vote for the traditional Necromancy.

Uncanny Gyration - Movement?

Other votes: Atonement = Healing; Right. Wrath = Enchantment; Vigor = Enchantment.

Web as a Wall spell is genius, I wouldn’t have thought of that.

Thanks for the input!!

Web as a wall spell is brilliant isn’t it. I’m 99% sure that’s what it is.

I suspect a lot of them are Transmog because as you say, it’s broad.

I guess as I go along and try to build them, and they fail, that’s a good sign they don’t belong to the category I’ve chosen :slight_smile:

My first thought was a death spell, but it turns out to be way too weak:
1d8 per level (44), maximum 1d damage (x0.1), attack throw required (x0.35), touch (x0.4), 12 turns (treat as 1 hour, x6), no saving throw (x1), divine (x1.5) = 5.544, or a first-level spell. I don’t think the “bonus equal to level/3” would be a x9 modifier, which is what you’d need for a fifth-level spell.

Yeah, I’m wondering if it’s supposed to be a Transmogrification spell


Transform to the form of a living creature (myself, with an awesome fire sword): 35
New Form’s special abilities: 20 (Generate a fire sword at will for the duration)
Form limited to particular type: (x0.75)
Range: Self (x0.5)
Duration: 12 turns (x2)
Divine: (x1.25)

Sum: 51.5625

Works for me. And it’s a perfect example of what I’d said earlier about Transmog.

Look at me. Now look at your henchmen, now back to me. I’ve got a Sword of Fire.

Personally I think the spell creation rules are awesome for most standard effects, but if you have to bend over backward to try and jam it into a coded language, you might as well eyeball it and balance it with other spells available at the same level for the class.

Part of what I enjoy about a bunch of old school spells from AD&D and 2nd edition is the fact that there were some really weird effects that were heavy on imagination but not necessarily easily broken down into a set formula of rules. I think Alex handles this in ACKS with the idea of spell breakthroughs. The spells (fireball, sleep) don’t completely fit in the spell creation formula, so the formula allows for some rules-breaking to make the overall system work.

Transmogrification does work well as a general utility category for a wide variety of spell effects. Its range, duration, and save modifiers are fairly neutral (unlike, say, blast effects, which skew towards cheap range but costly duration).

That said, keep in mind that the spell categorization system is a reverse-engineering of 30 years of tradition. There are some spells I simply could not figure out how to fit into it. At a certain point I reached diminishing returns - adding a particular spell simply made the system too complex to be worthwhile.

Moorcys is 100% right that you can and should use spell breakthrough rules to explain and justify these unusual spells. It’s completely fine to just say “this effect can only be gained with a radical breakthrough” or whatever. That’s definitely how I envision WISH.

Alex - Detect Ritual Magic - You provide the example for this spell and there’s a discrepancy between the figures you use and the figures in the tables for Detection spells.

The Range is 100 Miles. According to the table, this is a x8 Multiplier. According to the worked example, this is a x9 multiplier.

Which is correct? (I’ll copy this over to the Errata thread once we get confirmation)

Sorry… Also Sleep:

Creatures with fewest HD affected first - the table says x0.5, the example says x0.75
Range 240’ - the table says x1.5, the example says x1.25.

Coming back to this again, since I'm

(a) gonna spellsing and I want to take every chance to make the best spell decisions possible and

(b) there's some insight from HFH:

If they have a **, that means I'm gonna bet that, like Fireball, they're the result of breakthroughs.

^^ means I think there's design work needed to make it fit.

"Informative Spells That Ruin Your Campaign's Mysteries"

Read Languages: Detection? **
ESP: Detection
Clairvoyance: Detection
Clairaudience: Detection
Telepathy: Detection
Contact Other Plane: Detection
Commune: Detection

"Environmental Spells That Are Really Useful on the Battlefield"
Control Weather: Wall: weaving air/water**^^
Lower Water: Wall - you're "weaving" the water elsewhere^^
Move Earth: Wall - you're "weaving" the earth elsewhere^^
Control Wind: Wall - you're weaving the air^^
Summon Weather: Wall: you're weaving air/water**^^
Call Lightning: Blast (air)**^^
Produce Fire: Blast (fire)**^^

"Spells That No One Would Memorize Under Vancian Casting But Which Are Now Super Useful To Know in ACKS"

Floating Disc: Wall **^^

"Overpowered Spells that Destroy NPC Main Villains A Lot"
Dispel Evil: Protection

"Spells That Stack With Bard Inspire Courage And Result In Lots of Low-Level Monsters Being Cleaved"
Bless: Protection
Holy Chant: Protection
Prayer: Protection


We are currently experiencing the glory of extemporaneous spellsinging. My min-maxing power player is actively seeking out all the spells for the best uses.