Monday, 18 April 2011

A to Z: Oscillation

I'm going to break my pre-declared programme here... This post will still be about the word 'oscillation', but it won't be a spell. I've been wracking my brains for a while on this one, and I've just not managed to come up with a satisfying spell of that name. I have however come up with an interesting technique for magic-users, and an easy way to add a bit of "wild magic" flavour to the game, which I'd like to share instead.

The rest of this post is designated Open Gaming Content according to the Open Gaming License.

The process of converting symbols written on a page into magical patterns of energy stored in the mind is of the utmost importance to all magic-users. There is one tried and trusted technique which is known to do the job reliably and safely, so that's what most wizards practice. There are also lesser known, and less reliable techniques which have different effects. The technique of oscillation is one of these.

Rather than fixing the patterns of magical energy firmly in the magic-user's mind, oscillation sets up a complex field of fluctuating energies, encoding the desired spells as potentials in this energy field. The results of casting spells memorized by oscillation are unpredictable, yet somehow the dynamic energy field created seems able to encode spells more efficiently, allowing the wizard to cast more spells per day.

Here's how it works:
  • A magic-user can choose to memorize all his spells as normal, or to memorize them all via oscillation. A mixture of the two techniques is not possible.
  • For each spell the magic-user is allowed to memorize (from his allowance of spells per day), he can oscillate two spells together. Thus pairs of oscillated spells should be noted.
  • When casting an oscillated spell, either one or both of the paired spells will emerge, determined at random. Roll 1d6 and consult the table below.
  • Paired spells cannot be identical (i.e. it's not possible to oscillate magic missile with itself), and generally cannot have a similar function (allure and charm person don't fit together). (If you're using any kind of system of schools of magic, like in AD&D, each spell in an oscillated pair must be of a different school.)
  • When both spells in an oscillated pair manifest simultaneously, they generally have the same target or area of effect, in whatever way that makes sense.
The Table of Oscillation
1: First spell activates
2: First spell activates and the pair remains in memory (can be cast again)
3: Second spell activates
4: Second spell activates and the pair remains in memory (can be cast again)
5: Both spells activate
6: Both spells
activate and the pair remains in memory (can be cast again)

It's up to the DM / LL to decide whether this technique is available to all magic-users, or has to be learned somehow. (Perhaps a magic-user might find a grimoire describing the technique.)


  1. i find these gaming terms very interesting. :) dropping by from the a-z

  2. This is a cool idea. I think I will put an Ioun stone of oscillation into my game and see what happens...

  3. Hey Jim, nice! Let me know if any brave magic-user tries it out...