Friday, December 2, 2016

The Elemental Colleges of DragonQuest


From Magic System Designer's Notes:

These adepts use mana to penetrate their respective elemental planes releasing power stored there and altering their element on this plane.

The DragonQuest rules don't comment on this but many of the spells in these colleges create a quantity - usually temporarily - of their respective elements.  I've always assumed that in most cases the spell is actually pulling those elements from the elemental planes into the Adept's own plane.  At the end of the spells duration the conjured material returns back to original plane.

For me the Elemental Colleges, except for Fire Magics, have never felt particularly "elemental".  I expect them to focus more on the manipulation of the elements than on interacting with what fauna might inhabit that element.

There are some inconsistencies between the Colleges as well.  Air, Water and Fire have Binding as a General Knowledge ritual and Summon/Control of Elementals as a Special Knowledge ritual.  Earth however has Binding as a Special Knowledge ritual and Summon/Control as a Special Knowledge spell that is ranked for the Summon and Control aspects separately.  Air has Resistance to Cold which grants Magic Resistance to Cold spells but reduces damage from Fire spells.  Fire has Fire Resistance which grants Magic Resistance to Fire spells and reduces damage from Fire spells not Cold.

On to the Colleges...

In my own campaigns I use my own version of this college which can be found on the Downloads page. Though I left the various ice spells in my own version I do wonder why Air Adepts are able to summon/create large volumes of ice, i.e. water.  Cold, I get.  Ice, not so much.

If you look over my version of Air Magics you'll be able to see by what is missing or changed which spells and rituals I didn't like or felt needed to be changed.


This is another of the Elemental colleges that doesn't feel elemental to me.  Too many spells that have little or nothing to do with the element of water.  I've started my own version of the college but it still has a ways to go.

Spell of Speaking to Seabirds (G-3)

Spell of Speaking With Aquatic Mammals (G-7)

Spell of Summoning Aquatic Mammals (G-8)

To me these belong in a different college. A druid/shaman style college that's perhaps centered around water or the sea. Also why are these General Knowledge but the Summon/Control Fish spells are Special Knowledge? But that's neither here nor there. Birds of any kind are in the Air Magics domain if they are going to be in any. I can perhaps see making Speak w/Aquatic Mammals a Talent and removing the summon entirely.

Spell of Flotation (G-4)

Since there aren't any official rules for swimming, or drowning, I'm not sure what increasing a character's swimming by 50% even means. I can only assume that they intended to include those rules but they didn't make it into any of the three editions.

Spell of Navigation (G-5)

I don't see why a Water Mage would be attuned to winds. Avoiding shoals, whirlpools and becalmed areas sure. Staying on course, eh, I don't know. What do water elementals and sprites know about navigation? The only rules covering such things is under Navigator [59.7].  The benefit could be applied there or perhaps to a generic Perception roll to avoid such things.

Mage Wind Spell (G-9)

Again, why should a Water Mage be able to control the air? 

Spell of Ship Binding (G-13)

Water Mages can shape/control wood? Re-stepping masts?  I don't think so.  I could see it being restated as some type of flotation spell for damaged ships where essentially the water itself forms a protective barrier around it and even pulls out any water that has gotten into the ship.

Spell of Seablessing (G-14)

I can kinda get this one. A Water Mage could appeal to the elementals that reside in a body of water and have them help guide a vessel around or away from threats.

Spell of Summoning Fish (S-5)

Spell of Controlling Fish (S-6)

Summon maybe. Using water sprites or elementals to push/guide the fish towards the caster might be reasonable.  Controlling, no.  To my way of thinking just get rid of both.

Spell of Controlling Sea Mammals (S-7)

Doesn't belong in this College.  An Elemental Adept has control over their element not animals.

Windsail Spell (S-9)

The name is weird since it is a sail made of water. I would rather see this as something that calls currents in the water to carry the ship in the desired direction as then it wouldn't depend up on wind.

Spell of Rain Calling (S-10)

I can see calling rain down from existing, moisture-laden clouds but calling in clouds and having a squall follow you around seems like it is crossing over into the domain of Air Magics.  Air currents move clouds around.  They don't move on their own.

Maelstrom Spell (S-11)

My biggest problem with this is that it is an instant death spell. Save or die and your body can't be recovered. In theory Water Breathing could help but not if you are being sucked down to the bottom of the sea/ocean. Cold and pressure are going to be bigger problems not to mention being smashed against the seabed.

Waterspout Spell (S-12)

Another instant death spell and non-recoverable. It's like Water Mages are so wimpy the designers felt the need to give them some seriously deadly spells.


The only Elemental college that actually feels elemental. Not that it doesn't have issues.

Infravision (T-1)

I covered this in my earlier blog post on Vision and Light in DQ and so won't rehash it too much. If it was called Identifying Heat Source then the description might make sense. As Infravision, as is normally found in RPGs or even that of IR vision devices, it makes no sense.

Spell of Light (G-4)

As covered before in my post on Vision & Light in DQ this spell can be used for cute and clever things but it can't be used as a replacement for a torch or lantern.

Wall of Smoke Spell (G-6)

My only issue with it is that it is not really a wall. You get two 5-foot cubes. Do they have to be touching?   Can they be stacked?   Can you stack smoke?  Not sure why they didn't just go ahead and give it similar starting dimensions to the other walls. Say 10 foot high x 20 foot long by 5 foot thick with the usual 1 foot per rank

Demonic Firebolt Spell (S-8)

Why “Demonic”?  Is the Fire Adept accessing demonic forces?  Or is it really just a superior Firebolt in the sense that it does more damage?

Spell of Hellfire (S-9)

Again is the Adept really accessing the flames of hell (which would have to exist in the DQ world concept for that to be true)?   If so then I don't believe it belongs in an elemental college (Black Magics perhaps) and if not, then it should be renamed.

Malignant Flames Spell (S-13)

Doesn't feel elemental to me. Seems more like a Black Magics spell.

Spell of Incineration (S-14)

My problem with this one is that it is once again an instant death spell with no recovery possible. If your body is reduced to ashes, a Healer ain't bringing you back.

Spell of Summoning Salamander (S-15)

Spell of Summoning Efreet (S-16)

As the other elemental colleges don't have equivalent spells it seems unfair that Fire Magics should have these. Summoning Efreet in particular is problematic as they are very powerful and can grant wishes. That's a good way to end up with a Monty Haul campaign in a hurry.


This is the least elemental of the colleges and I've already posted my revised take on the College where I split it into an elemental college and a separate druid/shaman college.

If you look over my version of Earth Magics you'll be able to see by what is missing or changed which spells and rituals I didn't like or felt needed to be changed


The intro for the college says that, “Man's natural fear of the power of darkness gives this College special power.”  What does that have to do with the stars?  The Designer Notes suggests that a GM might want to divide the spells up by the Star/Dark/Shadow divisions.   I think that is a good idea and then it could also be fleshed out a bit more for each one with more spells unique to each division. Also just stop calling it an elemental college.  Should have just been put into Entities or perhaps its own Celestial branch and split into three separate Colleges.

Night Vision (T-2)

Spell of Light (G-2)

Covered these in my post on Vision & Light in DragonQuest.

Ritual of Summoning and Binding Shadow Creatures (Q-2)

Includes the summoning of lesser undead. Why would Star Mages or Shadow Mages have domain over undead?

Spell of Healing (S-1)

This is a weird spell to include in this College.  Not sure why either of the three divisions would have such a thing though as a self-only spell it feels more Dark Mage than Star.  Certainly any justification of it could almost certainly be applied to other colleges that lack healing spells.

Meteor Spell (S-4)

Meteor Swarm Spell (S-8)

Somebody didn't take a physics course.  A 25 foot diameter meteor impacting the earth is going to do so with the force of several tons of TNT (Tomahawk cruise missile ~= 0.5 tons).  There is no passive resistance just extinction of all nearby life.  As well there is the issue of the meteor arriving instantly after Rank 12.  Why would Dark Mages have this?  At best this should be a Ritual where the time to arrival was like d100 hours.

Dwarf Star Spell (S-9)

No description of what the actual effect would be on the target.  Why describe it in terms of gravities unless there is some way to relate that to game effects like cut TMR by ½ for every gravity and so on.

Next post will cover the Colleges of The Entities.


  1. Phil would like to work on this with you. Have some ideas for changes myself. Would you like to do it here in this thread or over on the GMs group?

    1. The GM group on Yahoo would probably be better. I've got some work done on the Water Magics college but not much more than thoughts on Fire and Celestial. I'll need to review them and gather them into a form that someone other than me can follow.

  2. Sounds good Phil. I will move conversation there. Here are thoughts on some new spells for Water Magics...

    Water Talking Spell (general knowledge)
    Range: 35 feet + 10 additional / Rank
    Duration: 10 minutes + 10 minutes additional/ Rank
    EXM: 100
    Base Chance: 50%
    Resist: May not be resisted.
    Effect: This spell affects 1 target plus 1 additional target per 3 or fraction of 3 Ranks. This spell permits Adepts from other colleges to be able to speak freely enough to cast spells from their own colleges while under water. It does not modify any environmental bonuses or penalties for being in water.

    Water to Pitch Spell (general knowledge)
    Range: Adept must touch water being transmuted
    Duration: Permanent
    EXM: 50
    Base Chance: 40%
    Resist: May not be resisted.
    Effect: This spell permanently transmutes one pint + one pint per rank in spell water into pitch.

    Waters of Courage Spell (special knowledge
    Range: Adept must touch water being transmuted
    Duration: Immediate
    EXM: 350
    Base Chance: 30%
    Resist: May not be resisted.
    Effect: This spell will produce 1 dose of a Willpower potion out of a pint of potable water. When drunk the potion adds [(D-4) + 1 per every 2 ranks in spell] to Willpower for a period of 10 minutes + 1 minute per rank in spell. If the imbiber is involved in combat, the potion will cease to work after 10 + 1 per rank pulses due to alterations in body chemistry.
    The spell has a minor weakness in that the potion becomes alcoholic (reduce SC by 3% for duration of potion effect).

    Water Walking Spell (special knowledge)
    Range: 10 feet + 10 additional / Rank
    Duration: 30 minutes + 30 minutes additional/ Rank
    EXM: 250
    Base Chance: 25%
    Resist: May not be resisted.
    Effect: As long as the target remains in contact with water they may travel at a rate of 30 miles per hour (+1 mile an hour per rank). The target must be a living creature (this spell has no effect on watercraft).

  3. I'm interested in following this conversation. Which yahoo group? Thanks

    1. So far we haven't really gotten anything going there but the group is: