Magic Basics


In game terms, casting a spell involves three steps:


Mana is akin to tokens, as all Tokens can be converted into Mana. Arcanist use the Mana Pool Feat to generate Tokens, if you are a non-arcanist using a trait that unlocks the Spell Book, you convert 2 tokens for 1 Mana.

For an Arcanist the Starting Mana is important it is determined as int modifier + level.
The maximum Mana anyone can use is (int+level)x2.

This is important for both characters using a trait to cast spells, and when giving tokens to an Arcanist since tokens gained this way instantly become Mana.

Only Story Tokens remain unconverted, Also a Story token converts differently than other Tokens. One Story Token can refill Starting Mana to full, a second Story Token can Be Used to fill the Arcanist to full.

STEP 2: Choose the Spell

Choosing a spell is critical, because you have a Maximum amount of Mana you can use so you can only empower a spell with your current Mana. Once you choose the Spell you spend the Tokens, prior to rolling to hit.

Step 3: Cast

After you have spent your mana you then roll to hit based on the effect of the spell, touch spells are based on Base Attack, and Range Spells are based on Range Attack.

Spell Checks

To determine how to do a spell check first determine if the Spell is Combat or Non-Combat Magic, for all Combat Spells you roll a Hit Check against the Targets Active Defense or Passive Defense depending on what is appropriate.

Targeted Spells

All Targeted spells act as if you are doing a Melee attack or a Ranged Attack on the Target. If your target is willing to receive the spell effect than the DC is the Passive Defense Bonus, otherwise it is the Active Defense Bonus.

Non-Targeted Spells

Here is where it is tricky, Non-Targeted Spells you make the attack roll against your own Active Defense. The Spell is created by internal pressure and you must overcome yourself to achieve the spell.

Failure has three levels

The mana has been Spent, the spell is cast and you miss. This does not mean the spell fizzles.

The three levels of Failure are based on the amount you miss the check.

Fizzled: if your check is missed by 1/20 – 5/20 (i.e. you miss by one number to five numbers on a d20 roll) your spell fizzled.

Moderate Disaster: If you miss by more than 5/20 (5 on a d20 roll) you get a Moderate Disaster.

Major Disaster: if you roll a 1 on a d20 roll you get a Major disaster. On a case of a Major Disaster roll a Confirmation Check (this will be 50% on a D20, if you roll 10 or less you have a Major Disaster, and possibly a Crit Deck pull if it was a combat spell. Otherwise it is just a Minor Disaster.)


Personal: The spell affects only you.

Touch: You must touch a creature or object to affect it. A Touch spell that deals damage can score a critical hit just as a weapon can. A touch spell counts as an Unarmed Strike.

Close: The spell reaches up to 25 feet away from you. The maximum range increases by 5 feet for every two full mastery levels.

Medium: The spell reaches as far as 100 feet + 10 feet per mastery level.

Long: The spell reaches as far as 400 feet + 40 feet per mastery level.

Range Expressed in Feet or Miles: Some spells simply express their range in terms of feet or miles.

Mana-Dependent Range: Some methods require you to spend mana to increase the spell’s range.

Area & Effect

If an Area or Effect entry ends with “(S),” you can mold the spell’s effect or area. A shaped effect or area can have no dimension smaller than 10 feet. Many effects or areas—especially in the abjuration school—are given as squares to make it easy to model irregular shapes. Three-dimensional volumes usually define aerial or underwater effects and areas.


Some methods create or summon things rather than affect- ing things that are already present.
You must designate the location where these things are to appear, either by seeing it or defining it. Range determines how far away an effect can appear; if the effect is mobile, it can move regardless of the spell’s range.

Ray: Some effects are rays. You aim a ray as if using a ranged weapon, though typically you make a ranged touch attack rather than a normal ranged attack. As with a ranged weapon, you can fire into the dark or at an invisible creature and hope you hit something. You don’t have to see the crea- ture you’re trying to hit with a ray, as you do with a targeted spell. Intervening creatures and obstacles, however, can block your line of sight or provide cover for the creature you’re aiming at.

If a ray spell has a listed duration, it’s the duration of the effect that the ray causes, not the length of time the ray itself persists.

When a ray spell deals damage, you can score a critical hit just as if it were a weapon. A ray spell threatens a critical hit on a natural roll of 20 and deals double damage on a suc- cessful critical hit.

Spread: Some effects, notably clouds and fogs, spread out from a point of origin, which must be a grid intersection. The effect can extend around corners and into areas that you can’t see. Figure distance by actual distance traveled, taking into account turns the spell effect takes. When determining distance for spread effects, count around walls, not through them. As with movement, do not trace diagonals across cor- ners. You must designate the point of origin for a spread effect, but you need not have line of effect (see below) to all portions of the effect.


Some spells affect an area. A method description may specify a particular area, but usually an area falls into one of the categories defined below.

Regardless of the area’s shape, you select the point where the spell originates, but otherwise you don’t control which creatures or objects the spell affects. An area spell’s point of origin is always a grid intersection. When determining whether a given creature is within the area of a spell, count out the distance from the point of origin in squares just as you do when moving a character or determining the range for a ranged attack. The only difference is that, instead of counting from the center of one square to the center of the next, you count from intersection to intersection.

You can count diagonally across a square, but remember that every second diagonal counts as two squares of distance. If the far edge of a square is within the spell’s area, anything within that square lies within the spell’s area. If the spell’s area touches only the near edge of a square, however, anything within that square remains unaffected by the spell.

Burst, Emanation, or Spread: Most spells that affect an area function as either a burst, an emanation, or a spread. In each case, select the spell’s point of origin and measure its effect from that point.

A burst spell affects whatever it catches in its area, even creatures you can’t see. It can’t affect creatures with total cover from its point of origin (in other words, its effects don’t extend around corners). The default shape for a burst effect is a sphere, but some burst spells are specifically described as cone-shaped. A burst’s area defines how far from the point of origin the spell’s effect extends.

An emanation spell functions like a burst spell, except that the effect continues to radiate from the point of origin for the duration of the spell. Most emanations are shaped like cones or spheres.

A spread spell spreads out like a burst but can turn corners. You select the point of origin, and the spell spreads out a given distance in all directions. Figure the area the spell effect fills by taking into account any turns the spell effect takes.

Cone, Cylinder, Line, or Sphere: Most spells that affect an area have a particular shape, such as a cone, cylinder, line, or sphere.

A cone-shaped spell shoots away from you in a quarter-circle in the direction you designate. The effect starts from any corner of your square and widens out as it goes. Most cones are either bursts or emanations (see above), and thus won’t go around corners.

When casting a cylinder-shaped spell, you select the spell’s point of origin. This point is the center of a horizontal circle, and the spell shoots up or down from the circle, filling a cylinder. A cylinder-shaped spell ignores any obstructions within its area.

A line-shaped spell shoots away from you in a line in the direction you designate. It starts from any corner of your square and extends to the limit of its range or until it strikes a barrier that blocks line of effect. A line shaped spell affects all creatures in squares that the line passes through.

A sphere shaped spell expands from its point of origin to fill a spherical area. Spheres may be bursts, emanations, or spreads, as described above.

Creatures: A spell with this kind of area affects creatures directly (like a targeted spell), but it affects all creatures in an area of some kind rather than individuals you select. The area might be a spherical burst, a cone-shaped burst, or some other shape.

Many spells affect “living creatures,” which means all creatures other than constructs and undead. Creatures in the spell’s area that are not of the appropriate type do not count against the creatures affected.

Objects: A spell with this kind of area affects objects within an area you select (as Creatures, but affecting objects instead).

Other: A spell can have a unique area, as defined in its description.

If a spell affects creatures directly, the result travels with the subjects for the spell’s duration. If a spell creates an effect, the effect lasts for the duration. The effect might move or remain still. Such an effect can be destroyed prior to the end of its duration. If the spell affects an area, then the spell stays with that area for its duration.

Creatures become subject to the spell when they enter the area and are no longer subject to it when they leave.

Discharge: Occasionally a spell lasts for a set duration or until triggered or discharged.


In most cases, if you don’t discharge a Touch spell on the round you cast it, you can hold the charge (postpone the discharge of the spell) indefinitely. You can make touch attacks round after round until you succeed. If you cast another spell, the Touch spell dissipates.

Some touch spells allow you to touch multiple targets as part of the spell. You can’t hold the charge of such a spell; you must touch all targets of the spell in the same round that you finish casting the spell.


If the Duration line ends with “(D),” the caster can dismiss the spell at will. To do so, you must be within range of the spell’s effect and must speak words of dismissal. Dismissing a spell is a move action.

A spell that depends on concentration is dismissible by its very nature. Dismissing such a spell does not require an action, since all you have to do to end it is to stop concen- trating on your turn.


Usually a harmful spell allows a target to make a saving throw to avoid some or all of the effect.


The Saving Throw entry in a spell description defines which type of saving throw the spell allows and describes how saving throws against the spell work.

Negates: The spell has no effect on a subject that makes a successful saving throw.

Partial: The spell causes an effect on its subject. A suc- cessful saving throw means that some lesser effect occurs.

Half: The spell deals damage, and a successful saving throw halves the damage taken (round down).

None: No saving throw is allowed.

Disbelief: A successful saving throw lets a subject ignore the effect.

Harmless: The spell is usually beneficial, not harmful, but a targeted creature can attempt a saving throw if desired.


A line of effect is a straight, unblocked path that indicates what a spell can affect. A solid barrier cancels a line of effect. It’s like line of sight for ranged weapons, except that it’s not blocked by fog, darkness, and other factors that limit normal sight.

You must have a clear line of effect to any spell target or to any space in which you wish to create an effect. You must have a clear line of effect to the point of origin of any spell you cast.

A burst, cone, cylinder, or emanation spell affects only an area, crea- tures, or objects to which it has line of effect from its origin (a spheri- cal burst’s center point, a cone-shaped burst’s starting point, a cylin- der’s circle, or an emanation’s point of origin).

An otherwise solid barrier with a hole of at least one square foot through it does not block a spell’s line of effect. Such an opening means that the 5-foot length of wall containing the hole is no longer considered a barrier for purposes of a spell’s line of effect.


Some spells can be cast on creatures or objects. When a spell is cast on an object, the item receives a saving throw only if it is magical or if it is attended (held, worn, grasped, or the like) by a creature resisting the spell, in which case the object uses the creature’s saving throw bonus. Magic items enjoy a +20 bonus to all saves.


A saving throw against your spell has a DC of 10 + your Intelligence modifier + half the number of mana points spent to power it. The more energy contained within a spell, the more difficult it is to resist. You can always choose to spend additional mana to increase a spell’s save DC. This mana has no effect on the spell’s other features.


A creature that successfully saves against a spell with no obvi- ous physical effects feels a hostile force or a tingle but cannot deduce the exact nature of the attack. Likewise, if a creature’s saving throw succeeds against a targeted spell, you as the cast- er sense that your spell has failed. You do not sense when creatures succeed on saves against effect and area spells. There are no automatic failures or successes on saves against spells.


A creature can voluntarily forego a saving throw and willingly accept a spell’s effect. Even a character with a special resist- ance to magic can suppress this quality to accept an effect.


Some creatures are composed of fundamentally alien matter, or their very natures derive from the raw stuff of mana. These creatures typically have spell resistance (SR). This line of a spell’s description notes whether a method is subject to spell resistance (Yes or No).
When you cast a spell that can be affected by spell resist- ance at a creature with SR, you must make a caster level check (1d20 + your arcanist level) with a Difficulty Class equal to the creature’s spell resistance. If you succeed, the spell affects the creature as normal. Failure means the spell has no effect on the creature.


A spell’s Duration entry tells you how long the magical ener- gy of the spell lasts.


A method can measure its spells’ durations in several ways. Timed Durations: A spell might last a number of rounds, minutes, hours, or some other increment. When the time is up, the magic goes away and the spell ends. If a spell’s duration is variable, the DM rolls the duration secretly (the caster doesn’t know how long the spell will last).

Instantaneous: In a method whose spells have Instan- taneous durations, the spell energy comes and goes the instant the spell is cast, though the consequences might be long lasting.
Permanent: The energy remains as long as the effect does.

Concentration: The spell lasts as long as the caster con- centrates on it. Concentrating to maintain a spell is a move action. Anything that could break your concentration when casting a spell can also break your concentration while you’re maintaining one, causing the spell to end.

You can’t cast a spell while concentrating on another one. A spell may last for a short time after you cease concentrating, according to its method description.


Spell Book

Magic Basics

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