An earlier version of this article is posted in this blog. I’ve made minor changes and corrections to it, but the main reason for this post is that the article is now available in PDF form, at no charge, through the Freebies page of my author website. Original first post:
After reading a number of Sword And Sorcery / Conan stories written by Robert E. Howard, I’ve seen a lot of inconsistency when it comes to the use of magic. Most of Howard’s sorcerers can dominate entire cities, for example, and entire stories, while casting only one or two spells. For my current writing project, the Guardians Of The Dead series, I need a little more structure than that, but I don’t want a full-blown system with a ton of intricacy and levels. For a solution, I turned to the magic spells used in the Diablo video game.
In Diablo, any character class can choose any spell, where some may have to work harder than others to get the same result, but the choices are always open to them. I have listed all of the game’s available skills, and also arranged them into plausible 4-level skill trees, enough for a low to mid-level magic world, where physical combat trumps dedicated sorcery. You can use this Diablo-inspired system to grant up to 4 tiered spells for your main characters. You can also keep your main character on a more robust magic path, and use this simpler system for your allies or hirelings.