The One Magic System

The OpenQuest Companion, cover by Jon Hodgson

This is a preview straight from the pages of the OpenQuest Companion, which is due for release in early summer but is available to pre-order with the main rulebook as a free pdf/at cost POD book.

This chapter contains a simplified magic system that developed out of the need to have quick magic for games of OpenQuest that did not require the same level of magic point counting, ranking of casters, and tracking of long-term relationships between the characters and their teachers. It grew out of convention games but is also useful for games where magic is less of a focus, and the players want a simpler, more straightforward system.

How this System was Developed

I took the spells from the Three Magic Systems of core OpenQuest and applied the following changes.

  1. Removed magic point costs. This system does not use Magic points. In quick convention games, I found the players were not counting them, and it was a barrier to the flow of play.
  2. A Magic Casting skill determines casting success. Every time the spell is cast, you must make a Magic Casting skill. If it is fumbled, the character loses the ability to cast the spell for the rest of the session.
  3. Spells limited by availability. If you need to limit which spells are available to characters, there is an availability trait. Beginning characters can only learn Common spells. The obvious benefit of joining a religion or magical society is that you can learn spells they teach with the Taught availability. Secret spells can only be learnt through Questing or a high-ranking member of a religion/magical society.
  4. Based on the Personal Magic spell list as a start and added spells that are not duplicated from the Divine Magic and Sorcery lists.
  5. Variable trait removed. Where a spell had the variable trait, I have made it a fixed effect or added a dice roll to work out how powerful the spell is when cast.
  6. No summoning spells. Spells that Summon Other World creatures have been removed.
  7. More complex spells removed. Spells that outside of the simple parameters of the system have not been included.
  8. Suggested critical and fumble effects have been added. This is intended to help beginning Referees and players.
  9. Same names. As the spells have the same name as their Three Magic System counterpart.

Here are two classic spells, as they appear in the One Magic System.


Instant, Touch

Each casting of this spell allows the caster to restore 2D6 hit points to damage themselves or another target.

A casting of Heal, which restores 6 or higher, will also re-attach a severed limb if cast within ten rounds of the loss.

A casting of Heal, which restores 4 or higher, will also cure any single poison or disease affecting the target.

Healing can only be attempted once per day per wound. If one character has already cast a spell on a particular wound, then additional healing must come from another character.

This spell can not be used to bring characters who are dead back to life.

  • Critical: 12 hit points are restored immediately.
  • Fumble: Spell backfires and causes 2d6 hit points of damage to the caster.

Weapon Enhance


When this spell is cast on any close combat weapon, it increases its damage dice type by one (so, for example, a Dagger’s damage goes from 1D4+1 to 1D6+1) for the duration of this spell and adds +20% to the character’s Close Combat skill when using the enhanced weapon. The weapon’s damage is magical and will affect creatures that can only be hurt by magic. This spell cannot be used with Fireblade.

  • Critical: Any hit by the weapon is considered a critical for the duration of the spell.
  • Fumble: The weapon is dulled for the spell’s duration by one damage dice type (doing a minimum of 1 point of damage).


Last miniute Tweeking

So the pdf of the 1st Draft is compiled and about to go out to backers, a little later than expected. That’s because as well as doing one last self-edit, I took it as an opportunity to make some last-minute changes.

What’s changed

  • Hero points are now called Fortune.
  • Improvement points are now Growth (points)
  • Improving Characters now Growing Characters and re-written and expanded.
  • Battle Magic renamed Personal Magic

All the Paths of Magic have an Immortality End Game

  • Personal Magic: Shamans become Great Spirits and move into the Spirit World. Wises become One with the Land.
  • Divine Magic: Priests and Holy Warriors, Ascend into the Houses of Holy either as Ascended Guardians, who become part of the Pantheon that they worship or as an independent deity.
  • Sorcery: The Magus Transcends the very limits of mortality through their knowledge of the Laws of Magic, becoming beings of pure magical energy.

Magical ranks in a nutshell

OpenQuest has three paths to magical power. Within each is a set of ranks. which are listed below in order of magical power (although Wises and Shamans are more specialist casters of equal power to each other).

I quickly thought this up when thinking about how to quickly explain the magic systems to a complete beginner.

Personal Magic
Is the magic that just is. It flows through the surroundings and into a person who shapes it. A mish-mash of orally transmitted spells that have survived through time because they are useful in everyday life. Note this what previous editions called Battle Magic.

  • Most folk just do it to meet a need
  • Wises are exploring it.
  • Shamans are in a conversation with the self-aware expressions of it (i.e. spirits)

Divine Magic
Is the power of the Immortals, that comes from their deads in mythology.  Mortal followers are inspired by it, and that inspiration performs miracles for them. 

  • Lay members are protected by it
  • Initiates are at the start of their journey into the mysteries of it.
  • Priests/Priestesses are close to their deities and speak for them, guiding the believers.
  • Holy Warriors defend it

Is magic that comes from consciously manipulating the logical magical laws of the Universe, that previous seekers after knowledge has written down as spells in Sorcererous Spell Books.

When it comes to sorcery:

  • Apprentices are learning it
  • Adepts are doing it
  • Magi are living expressions of it.

The Wise

I’m currently doing a review of OpenQuest’s three magic systems. In short Battle Magic has had some trimming down of it’s spell list. Sorcery has had a few “utility” spells added so you don’t have to use Personal Magic to create magic point stores or charms any more, as well as a tweaked version of the Combined Manipulation Effects table (mainly because OQ doesn’t support skills over 100% any more). Divine Magic, for the time being, is left largely unchanged.

One thing that I’ve added to Battle Magic is another type of specialist magician type. Currently, if you want more magical power, you either graduate to learning Sorcery or Divine Magic, to peruse a career as a wizard or priest respectively,  or become a Shaman, where the emphasis changes to dealing with a small group of bound spirits.  But what if you want to carry on and become an advanced Personal Magic-user?

Enter the Wise. This is the local hedge wizard/witch who lives on the edge of a small local community, usually rural where there isn’t an established religious Temple or School of Sorcery. Being a bit eccentric they have heard the call of the Magical Realm and quite naturally picks up Battle Magic spells without the need of a teacher. Also, they can pull the Magical Realm into the Real (as I’m calling the mundane plane of existence) and create places of power – such as a Seclusion (where they hide from the world and learn spells), a Sanctuary (an existing real-world location that becomes embodied with the Wises protective spells for the duration of its existence) and the place of power, where the Wise and their followers can store magic points for quick restoration.

In short it a magician for the player who doesn’t want to not deal with the baggage of manipulating spells (Sorcery) or the implications and obligations of following a deity (Divine) or a small zoo of spirits (Shaman).   It also allows the referee to quickly have Personal Magic Magicians attached to gangs of creatures.

Here’s the hot off the press, so apologies in advance for the typos, version of this new type of Magician.

Please note its a pre-publication draft, so while it will be released as open gaming content under the OGL it currently is under development.