Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Spell Reskinning - Lightning Bolt

5th Level is when Wizards start to get really dangerous, and one of the signs of their new power to destroy is lightning bolt, deadly area effect spell that is a staple of magic user direct damage spells.  In the spirit of my previous posts reskinning sleep and magic missile, here's a set of twenty alternatives for Lightning Bolt.

It’s not a lightning bolt, it’s a rebounding 5D6 linear attack…
Voltaic Beast (Electrical) – A manifestation of some sort of dangerous beast, often a crocodilian, made of pure electricity.  The creature charges forward in a straight line, snapping and savaging all in its path.
Shard Eruption (Physical) The earth or stone in a line before the caster rips upwards and damages all before it.
Spirit Charge (Necromantic) The spirit of the caster or an otherworldly thrall manifests itself and charges forward blindly, draining life energy from those it strikes.
Mercurial Torrent (Physical) A flashing torrent of small silver spheres hurtles from the caster (usually spit from the mouth) ripping and pummeling all before it.  After the spell is cast the spheres melt into a mercury like liquid and slowly evaporate. 
Blade Symphony (Physical) To delicate tinkling music a flock of invisible blades slash, stab and dissect everything along the spell’s path. Other versions of this spell produce a torrent of spectral swords that attack with the shouts of a hundred berserk warriors.
Black Oil (Physical/Acid) Lashing like a snake strike a thick cable of heavy black sludge whips forward from the caster melting and clubbing down whatever is in front of it.
Tumbling Magma (Fire) A huge rolling ball of smoking magma forms and cascades forward from the caster bowling down and burning anyone it reaches.
Long Shadow (Cold) The caster’s shadow stretches forward into a long line of unnatural frigidity.  The shadow’s extreme cold and darkness momentarily sucks in all light in the area and can freeze those it strikes solid.
Ice Lance (Cold) The caster’s arm transforms into a lance of jagged magical ice that darts forward impaling and freezing everything in front of it.
Wind of Eons (Necromantic) A cyclone of pure time rips forward straight from the caster and everything it touches ages tens, hundreds or even thousands of years in seconds.
Infesting Fungi (Necromantic) A line of brightly colored fungi boil to the surface of everything in this spell’s path, feasting on organic matter as the grow and burst in moments.  The damage done to organic material is considerable, but the fungi and its spores are relatively harmless.  Alternate forms of this spell using moss, flowers or insects also exist.
Dessicating Wind (Fire/Heat) A pillar of intense dryness and heat radiating forward from the caster desiccates and dries any who contact it.
Insect Deluge (Physical/Poison) A bullet like stream of poisonous stinging insects blasts form the caster striking and sickening all it contacts.
Rainbow Vortex (Electrical/Fire) Scintillating rays of rainbow colors shoot forward burning and warping anything in front of the caster.
Gulf of Unreason (Charm)  A crackling chasm in reality jolts forward from the caster, all caught within take damage directly to their psyches as they are exposed to eldritch unreason and impossibility.
Beam of Not-Being (Fire) A pencil thin beam of nonexistence arcs from the caster (with little control).  Anything it touches simply ceases to exist or have ever existed.
Warping Wave (Poison) A ray of mutating transformation energies that temporarily distorts the targets internal organs.This spell is sometimes purported to be a modification of healing magic that causes the targets to "overheal" themselves instantly producing deadly tumors and crippling mutation.
Filament Storm (Lightning) Searing filaments of electrical fire whip forward and shred anything in front of the caster.
Deluge of Spirits (Poison) Spraying forth from the caster an enormous blast of high proof enchanted alcohol that poisons and pickles enemies the caster directs it at.
Cascade of Inanities (Charm) A dancing ray of butterflies, good feeling and sparkling motes, those struck by this spell will find themselves in a state of incalculable bliss.  When it is removed they will discover that huge fragments of their soul have gone with the inanities back into whatever fey realm they come from.  This loss is most often lethal.


  1. Replies
    1. I prefer to call it the "Turtle Destruction Wave"

  2. These are great, but as a point of order I actually think they are pretty much all new spells inspired by lightning bolt, rather than new skins for lightning bolt. Perhaps this is being pedantic, but part of the mechanical effect of lightning bolt is that it does electricity damage, and this fits into other parts of the game. Like, monsters being immune to or vulnerable to or even powered up by electricity. Also, lightning bolt has a drawback/feature which does not seem to be reflected in many of these in that it reflects off of walls.

    Like, mirrors should be able to oppose rainbow vortex. Undead should be immune to gulf of unreason. Ice lance should be able to freeze a section of a river allowing passage. Tumbling magma should be able to set things on fire. Etc. At least in my opinion. Is that how you would run these?

    (Also, "beam of not being" seems incredibly powerful and should probably be higher level. I think it would be quite difficult to referee.)

    These are all really cool ideas though, so don't take this as criticism.

    1. Oh I absolutely agree - I just don't see the need for "New Spells" for each. They are all the same, a spell that fires a 1D6 per level beam 5' wide and 40' long.

      Yes they do different kinds of damage, but that's the fun. You might have lightning, but if there's a blue dragon in town you'll need the evil mushroom erruption. I'd give them all different names, but they are all reskins of the mechanical aspects of Lightning Bolt.

      Yeah the Not-Being is a bit tough, but it's thin and can't really be controlled, maybe you could snip through walls with it (unless it rebounds), but I don't see it being too powerful. (It also does fire damage - the one things are most immune to).

    2. Yeah, I figured we were pretty much on the same page regarding this.

      A few other consequences of beam of not being:

      - Spawn of the target also cease to exist
      - Anything the target has created ceases to exist
      - Any damage the target has done is healed

    3. I was just waxing melodramatic about a particle beam like effect... When you put it that way, yeah that's a higher level spell (or a really hard to find one) it's also pretty cool.

    4. Reminds me of balefire from the Wheel of Time:

      When a target is struck with balefire, its thread in the pattern is destroyed, in an amount proportional to the power of the balefire strike. This translates to the target's existence being completely erased, chronologically in reverse. For example, should an Aes Sedai use balefire on an attacking bandit, the bandit's action of attacking the Aes Sedai and anything leading up to the action of the attack would be erased; this would be determined by the power of the balefire attack. The stronger the balefire, the farther back in time the object in question will be burned from the pattern.


    5. Never read Wheel of Time - it looked massive and arduous. Is it any good?

    6. I read up through book 7 or 8 when I was in high school. Then I decided not to continue until the whole series was completed. This was a general resolution regarding all multi-volume fantasy epics, and has also kept me from reading beyond book 2 of A Song of Ice and Fire. At one point, The Wheel of Time was probably my favorite fantasy series. There are some good bits, but yes it is quite, um, cumbersome. Jordan died before he could finish it, but another author (Sanderson) has been working from notes on the final volumes, and I gather his work is highly regarded by fans of the series. Supposedly the last book (number 14) is coming out this january. Not sure if I'll end up going back.