D&D magic in Steampunk

Jack Daniel

As much as I like the OGL Steampunk skill-based magic system, I often find it bogging down the game when the party Occultist wants to cook up a new ritual. Last session, I decided to implement a quick-and-dirty patch that would graft D&D style spell progressions onto the Occultist class in place of the standard magic and psychic power rules.

1. The six Ritual skills are whittled down to three, Arcane Ritualism (Int), Faith-Working (Wis), and Animism (Cha). No feats are required to buy ranks in these skills, but they are only class skills for the Magician, Ecclesiast, and Sprit Medium, respectively. Psychic Control now serves the same purpose for the Psychic as the Ritual skill does for these other three vocations (and the Medium effectively becomes a spellcaster rather than a psionicist, more of a shaman than a spiritist). The Occultist's skill points are reduced from 4 + Int to 2 + Int.

2. Your Ritual or Psychic Control ranks dictate your effective spellcaster level, which is equal to 3 less than your ranks. A character with 4 ranks in Ritual (Faith-Working) can cast spells as a 1st level D&D cleric; a character with 10 ranks in Psychic Control can manifest powers as a 7th level D&D psion. However, merely buying skill ranks only grants access to 0-level spells or powers. In order to get higher-level spells, you need to take the Magic Talent feat.

How this works is pretty simple. A character with 1, 2, or 3 ranks in a Ritual skill has that many 0-level spell slots. A character with 4 ranks in Ritual still only has 3 cantrip/orison slots, but now qualifies for Magic Talent (1st-level spells) as a feat, which would give the character access to 1st-level spells and the spell progression of a 1st-level caster (3 cantrips, 1st-level spell). At 5 Ritual ranks and Magic Talent (1st-level), the character casts spells as a 2nd level mage or priest (spells 3/2), and at 6 ranks, the character qualifies for the Magic Talent (2nd-level spells) feat. Lather, rinse, repeat. (To make up for the increased number of required feats, the Occultist earns bonus feats at levels 3, 5, 7, 9, etc. rather than levels 4, 8, 12, etc.)

Learning multiple spellcasting disciplines is as easy as buying the separate ranks in each Ritual skill and taking each feat chan separately, so there are Magic Talent feats for each level of what are essnetially wizard, cleric, and druid spells, and a Psychic Talent feat chain for psionic powers. A character of another class may even buy Ritual or Psychic Control ranks as a cross-class skill and take Magic Talent or Psychic Talent feats to dabble in the occult.

3. Characters may still cast any spell on their spell list (or any spell that they might come up with of equivalent power, using the ritual construction rules) by making a Ritual check. Preparing spells into the conduit is now a simple process that only requires a single Ritual check vs. DC (10 + twice the highest level of spell being prepared). It no longer costs XP to craft a conduit item, but an occult dabbler still needs to take the Craft Conduit feat to prepare spells (just as he would have to take Psychic Sensitivity in order to dable in psionics). A character's prepared spells are dictated by his skills and feats, not the power level of the conduit item, and multiple conduits don't increase this capacity.