At long last, I purchased Simon Washbourne’s Barbarians of Lemuria. I first encountered this game as its free version. I first played BoL at OwlCon 2013, and I really enjoyed the convention scenario and the system itself.
BoL includes a magic system that is both flexible and customizable. While most magicians appear in sword & sorcery fiction as villains, BoL does offer magician as a heroic career for player characters. Spells cost Arcane Power, which starts equal to the character’s magician rank plus 10. Spells fall into four categories: Cantrips, First Magnitude, Second Magnitude, and Third Magnitude.
A magician casts a spell by deciding on the effect, which determines the spell’s category. The higher the category, the more Arcane Power the spell costs and higher the difficulty of casting the spell (success determined by rolling 2d6 + Mind + magician rank – difficulty modifier and trying to equal to beat a 9).
Cantrips accomplish minor tasks, such as making a coin vanish or causing a rope to slither up a wall. First Magnitude spells are utility spells “that allow the sorcerer to perform activities that anyone with the right training and equipment could manage.” These spells can inflict damage, such as a blast of flame, or let the magician climb like a spider. Cantrip and First Magnitude spells are likely the only types of spells that will commonly see use in the game. Second and Third Magnitude spells are capable of truly mighty effects, such as mind control, destroying a building, or causing a volcano to rise out of the earth and erupt.
All spells except Cantrips require additional casting requirements, such as possession of a special item (like an ancient tome), rare ingredients (like the tongue of a mythical beast), or a ritual sacrifice (including even human sacrifice for Third Magnitude spells). The magician can pile on additional casting requirements to lower the spell’s Arcane Power cost, but each category of spell has a minimum Arcane Power cost regardless of how many additional casting requirements are applied. For example, a First Magnitude spell cost a minimum of 1 Arcane Power, whereas a Third Magntitude spell costs at least 11 Arcane Power.
Here’s a sample Third Magnitude spell to go along with the creepy pictures of spiders taking over the countryside in Australia:
Plague of Spiders
Requirements: Personal ordeal. The caster must immerse himself in a pit full of biting spiders, crushing and eating hundreds of the spiders as they bite him, in order to achieve the right frame of mind for casting.
Minimum Cost: 11
Difficulty: Demanding (-6)
This horrible spell summons forth millions of spiders that swarm across the land for miles, blanketing everything in their path with webs. Individually, the spiders prove little threat (Size Tiny, Damage 1, Lifeblood 1, Move 15 ft.). They are, however, extremely venomous. The spider’s venom forces a Tricky task roll using Strength to resist or else suffer 1 LB each round until unconscious at 0 LB. This unconscious victim must then make a Hard task roll using Strength to avoid death. A physician can treat the poison, but doing so is Tricky.