Dark Earth Magic System

I haven’t posted in a while, but here’s my plan for Dark Earth‘s play-testable magic system.  For now it uses the spell list from d20 (converted using the rules below), but is also dependent on the Toughness save mechanic (as in Mutants & Masterminds) that I’ve imported into DE.

Right now, characters have the option of increasing their Magery value by +1 per level by taking a “Magic Use” focus, forsaking a “Fighting” or “Expertise” focus for that level.


A character has a number of spell points equal to their Magery value.

Spells are cast by expending these spell points.

Each spell has a level, from 1-5, indicating its power relative to other spells.

The spell levels also determine the cost, in spell points, of casting a spell:

1 1
2 3
3 5
4 7
5 9

Spell points regenerate at a rate of 1 per hour (1 per 6 turns).

Spells must be learned before they can be cast.

To learn a spell, a magic-user must study the spell for a number of hours equal to its level.

Once learned, a spell may be cast any number of times, granted enough available spell points.

When converting a spell from the d20 system, the following rules apply:

  1. Saves are made using the corresponding Dark Earth ability as the save bonus (Fort = Endurance, Ref = Dexterity, Will = Perception)
  1. Save DCs for DE spells are equal to 15 + the caster’s Intelligence + the spell level.
  1. Damage is converted by finding the maximum spell damage, halving it (round down), and subtracting 1.

Example: a single magic missile does 1d4+1 damage in the d20 system. Its maximum damage is 5. Half of this is 2.5, rounded down to 2. Subtracting 1 gives a final damage bonus of +1.


A spell may be cast when insufficient spell points are available, including spells of higher level than would otherwise be possible.

Doing so requires the magic-user to save against non-lethal damage equal to the number of spell points by which the cost of the spell exceeds the caster’s available spell points.

Any result other than “unscathed” on this Toughness save causes the spell to fail.

Negative spell points can be accrued in this manner, taking extra time to regenerate, as well as adding to the non-lethal damage of future deficit casting.


A magic-user begins play knowing a number of spells equal to half her Intelligence value.

These spells may be of 1st or 2nd level.


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