Through the fingers, through a staff, the magic bubbles and blasts. Called forth in various ways, spells bring fantasy to life. What spells will you use and how will they work?

Writing Prompts and Adventure Hooks for Spells

  • Imagine the panic when a spell gets out of control: unrelenting fire, ricochets, contagious, too big, too powerful, or complete reversal. Who can correct the resultant catastrophe? What must be done to set things right?
  • A spell casting musician writes a powerful opus that somehow taps into a netherworld and vile beasts have found their way to this world through the music. Can it be stopped or controlled? What if something really malevolent gets through?
  • An important spell may need materials that are hard to find. Send someone on a quest!
  • A spell caster has found that an important spell book from the college library has gone missing. Can the book be found before the magic it contains is misused?
  • Someone is under a nasty spell and their condition is deteriorating. Did they mess with dark magic? Did someone curse them? How long have they got until they’re finished? Who can figure out how to stop, reverse, or counter the magic?
  • Magic spell use has been strictly regulated in the land under an austere and conservative government. A rebellion is rising, but will spell freedom really be a good thing?
  • What if a spell falls into the wrong hands? Some thing as innocuous as “create water”–normally used to quench thirst–becomes a danger when wielded by a menacing mage, drowning victims and ruining suede!


Here is a whole pile of spell ideas and key words that can help you put together an idea for a spell or two for your adventure. Come up with epic sounding or fun functioning combos. Then attach whatever cool effect you want to it, and you’re on your way. Enjoy!

  • curse, cuss, execrate, damn, ban, bane, blight, plague, torment, scourge, ruination, storm of calamity, woe to unholy, holy smite,
  • bless, anoint, baptize, consecrate, ordain, exalt, hallow, honour, extol, gentle touch, calming gaze, divine oath, grant,
  • cure, heal, revive, resurrect, rehab, rejuvenate, reconstitute, soothe, attend, graceful convalescence, atone, summon doctor, regenerate, salve, set, grant of life, rebirth, Stump Death, Trade with Death,
  • charm, mesmerize, dazzle, impress,
  • stun, stagger, daze, faze, frazzle, filibuster,
  • wall of stone, mud, force, lightning, fire, earth, flesh,
  • seal portal, reveal doors, Bar the Way, open gates,
  • watchful eye, perceptive nose, heightened ear,
  • rain, storm, foul wind, blizzard, tornado, pleasant breeze, rain of acid, snow, fire,
  • fireball, flaming orb, light,
  • charm, entrance, enchant, beguile, trick, deceive,
  • protection, deflection, turtle’s shell, forcefield, field of force, field of forks,
  • scry, divine, augur, see, hear, clairvoyance, mind’s eye, extra-vision,
  • read minds, read thoughts, know emotions,
  • truth, sleuth, divine,
  • arcane knowledge, divine knowledge, all-knowing, omniscience,
  • virus, infect, defile, adulterate, poison, sully,
  • swarm of vermin, mice, mosquitoes, moths, hive of hornets, beetles, Beatles fans,
  • ray, frost ray, sun ray, light ray, ray of darkness, ray of suffering, ray of sundering, storm, rain,
  • feeble, weaken,
  • dispel magic, counter magic, anti-magic force,
  • invisibility, disappear, flicker, blink,
  • teleport, dimensional travel,
  • fly, flight, levitation, falling up, anti-gravity, hover, float, suspend,
  • gate, opening, window, door, passage, threshold, cross-over, bridge, arch, duct,
  • walk on water, create insta-boat, float, swim, breathing, transform robes to bathing suit, summon beach ball,
  • create food, water, rope, sword,
  • create double, mirror self, doppleganger, multiple copies,
  • create golem, mudman, saltbeing, stone warrior, rock beast, frost construct,
  • ray of immobility, hold, freeze, still, petrify, flesh to stone, flesh to ice,
  • chaotic surge, fire of anarchy, wicked legion, chaotic din, anarchic invocation, charm of the wild, lawless storm, turbulent word,
  • reverse time, rewind, freeze time, time travel, do-over, undo,
  • impart fart, cause burp, create bodily stench, massive hair growth,
  • summon orchestra, illusory background score, animate violin,
  • wish,
  • immunity, protection, safety, shield, guard, fend,
  • repair, fix, mend, correct, right, stabilize,

Spell Types

Here are a few ways to classify spells if you’re into that kind of thing. Spells may be fluid, all part of the same energy, or they may belong to particular schools, styles, or sources.

  • necromancy, sorcery, darkness, black magic, death magic, dire,
  • secret magic, hidden, clandestine, silent, stealthy, back magic, cellar magic,
  • symbols, marks, tattoo, written, molded, sculpted, embroidery, scroll, tapestry,
  • dolls, toys, puppets, icons, objects, candle, taper,
  • enchantment, charm,
  • illusion, mirage,
  • offensive, defensive, passive, assault, military, tactical, siege, support, battle magic, trench magic, front magic,
  • self, individual, mass, area effect, localized,
  • food, cooking, ingestion, imbibing, potions, stewpot magic,
  • happy, green, light, white, benevolent, aid, help, love, warm, summer, celestial,
  • healing, health, restorative,
  • protection, shield, force, circle, guardian, wall,

Spell Side Effects

Side effects from spells depends on many factors including the source of the spell, material components, spell strength, spell-caster skill and inherent affinity for magic, and so on. Some ideas are listed below but look at the full page on MAGIC SIDE EFFECTS for even more ideas. Stories can definitely be more fun if things don’t go according to plan…

  • weakness, fatigue, exhaustion, energy drain, life-force drain, sapped, dizziness, fainting,
  • emotional reactions: anger, depression,
  • rash, itchiness, allergies, burning sensation,
  • convulsions, twitches,
  • grey hair, aging,
  • transformation, mutation, physical alteration, phase shift,
  • bloating, gassy, gastrointestinal discomfort, upset stomach, nausea, projectile vomit,
  • hair loss, hair growth,
  • loss of consciousness, death, suspended animation,

Notes and Ideas for Spells

  • Some narratives and role playing games treat magic spells as a simple “fact of life” in their worlds, no big deal, cast without much fanfare. Others will make spell use rather epic, requiring great ceremony and study, or used with extreme rarity. Whatever you decide to do, be sure to justify it in your world.
  • Decide on the source of your spell casters’ powers. Where does the magic energy come from and how does it work? Is it born from the natural world, is it cosmic, is it an underlying force, or is it divine, for example? This can shape the way in which it manifests and can define some parameters within which the magic will work. Having “rules” to which your magic must conform will lend credence to the “reality” of the powers your characters encounter and use.
  • Many game systems and stories will create “schools” of magic or particular “types” of magic. You can science-up your magic spells by determing a taxonomy in your narrative world. Play around with elements, sources of power, types of magic, and so on.
  • What happens when a spell goes wrong? Maybe a potion has expired or a word on the scroll was missed in the copying process. A divine spell caster could be out of favour with their deity or maybe they simple couldn’t pray long enough to secure a strong enough spell to cast.
  • What is the cost of casting a spell: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, monetary? Does a spell consume life force or age or wisdom?

Spell Dice for Storytelling Chance

When your character casts a spell, roll 3d6 and interpret the result on the table below.

  • 18   Extraordinary – better than ever, some bonus result
  • 16-17  Great – powerful effect, accurate,
  • 14-15  Good – works to clear effect
  • 12-13  Fair – works to some reasonable effect
  • 10-11  Iffy – if it works, it is only marginally effective
  • 8-9       Poor – only a glimmer of success but ultimately fails
  • 6-7       Lousy – clearly fails to produce desired result
  • 4-5       Worse – chance of side effects
  • 3          Catastrophic – ironically bad, opposite effect, side effects,
Spell Dice Favor and Disfavor Factors

You can adjust the above chart by adding favor (if conditions are good) or disfavor (if conditions are bad). For favor, roll 4d6 and add up the top 3 results. For disfavor, roll 4d6 and add up the three lowest. Add extra dice if you want to skew results further (just keep the top three or bottom three)

Conditions to consider…

  • skill of caster, familiarity with spell, source of the spell
  • weather, temperature
  • condition of spell components, materials, tools,
  • condition of spell caster
    • tired, drunk, stunned, concussed, injured, tied up, anxious, panicky, threatened
    • emboldened, strengthened, empowered, guided, assisted,
    • prepared, practiced, readied, aimed, rested, concentrating,