Quick Spell Duelling system for LOTFP

I’m reading Dungeon Crawl Classics at the moment, it’s a cool OSR game that comes in one of the biggest RPG books I’ve seen since I purchased a copy of Zweihander. The game is a bit chart-tastic for my personal tastes but it’s still a great book to read and has some really cool ideas in it.

Spell Duels

One of the ideas I love, love, love in DCC are the rules for spell duels. Essentially these happen when a wizard is about to cast some magic and another spell-caster decides to interfere and throw down with them; in DCC this involves the second caster choosing a countering spell, they both make contested spell-casting rolls and–depending on the rolls–one or more spells may take effect, along with any number of crazy effects.

There’s no doubt this a cool system and I thought that–along with how dangerous and potentially lethal the summoning spell is in LOTFP–it would help explain why magic-users are typically so outcast or persecuted in the standard LOTFP campaign setting.

However, there’s a few bits of the mechanics that–whilst fine for DCC–don’t really work for Lamentations, so I thought that I’d have a go at making a simplified version to use with LOTFP.

Spell Duelling in LOTFP

In this system, when a magic-user or a cleric casts a spell, if there is another magic-user/cleric in the area they may choose to interfere with the casting and initiate a spell duel. Once this decision has been made you resolve the duel (even if normally the duelling casters would have different initiatives).

Resolving the Duel

  • Each of the spell-casters chooses a spell slot that they sacrifice to power their part of the duel.
    • The first spell cast (before the duel began) does not count for this purpose, but the first caster may choose to sacrifice another spell slot to empower themselves for duelling if they wish.
  • Each participant in the duel rolls 1d20 and adds the level of the spell-slot that they sacrificed.
  • The winner inflicts 1D6+the level of the spell slot they sacrificed in HP of damage on the loser, if the first caster wins then their original spell takes effect as well.
  • Either of the participants may choose to continue the duel on the next round, in which case repeat the process.
  • If both of the duelling rolls (without modifiers) are equal then the spell energy combines in a strange manner, none of the participants take damage this round and roll on the table below to see what occurs:
Unstable Arcane Energy Table
1D6 Roll Effect
1 Random Spell. Whichever caster had the highest result with modifiers (or determine randomly if they were the same) fires off a random spell, randomly determine a spell that is the same level as the spell slot the chosen caster sacrificed (or level 1 if they didn't sacrifice a slot). The spell chosen effects a random person in the area. Please note: the randomly determined spell needn't be one the caster possesses, however–once the duel if over–the magic-user may transcribe the random spell into their spell book if they wish as though transcribing it from a scroll.
2 Supernatural Effects. A part of another realm is pulled through and super-imposed on the local landscape, generally this should be extremely unsettling, if you need further guidance roll a further 1D6: (1) Trees gain eyes, mouths and a hunger for flesh (2) Clouds in the area rain blood, frogs or other unlikely substances (3) Animals give birth to mutated young (4) All water in the area transforms into bile, pus or another unwholesome substance (5) Holy icons or objects of worship in the area appears tarnished or befouled (6) Milk is fouled, crops fail and other supernatural effects take place.
3 Spells Merge. This requires some adjudication from the GM, randomly choose a spell for each spell slot sacrificed, these spells combine (along with any original spell) and create a strange effect. Generally it is either twice as powerful as the normal spell (if both spells are the same or similar) or some strange conglomeration of the two. The effect is centred directly between the duelling casters.
4 Summoning. The combined magic pulls through a supernatural creature (statted by the GM), roll a further 1D6 to determine the nature of the creature: (1)Elemental (2)Celestial/Angelic (3)Demonic (4)Undead (5)Wild animal (6)Abomination.
5 Backlash. The original spell fails and both participants take damage equal to 1D6 plus the total of spell slot levels sacrificed.
6 Demonic Incursion. The unstable energies have attracted attention from the netherworld, a tear in reality opens between the casters and 1D6 demons or creatures of the outer darkness (statted by the GM) spill out into our world.

I’m sure this system isn’t complete by any means and it could certainly be expanded on, but hopefully it’s given you some ideas for your own LOTFP games.

3 thoughts on “Quick Spell Duelling system for LOTFP”

  1. I love the idea of spell duels. This would be pretty deadly for low level magic-users. Can the original caster opt to not participate and just lose the spell duel but not take damage?

    1. I’d not considered that, but I think having the original spellcaster opt out is a fine suggestion, although in doing so they’d forfeit casting their original spell.

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