Side-effects of magic

Something lost over time in RPGs is the idea that magic has side-effects. The prospects of a spell backfiring and killing the caster or making them go crazy seems to have slipped out of favor. Who knows? However, as I make my way through OSRIC, i notice that a lot of the arcane spells have some kind of negative effect for casting, successfully or otherwise.

Imagine getting trapped in a wall, and dying as a result? Being stuck inside a gem for eternity? Going insane?

These are some of the side-effects of the arcane spells in OSRIC. My feeling tells me this stuff was largely weeded out the games because of a change of setting, but I could be wrong. Having this kind of stuff in the game says a lot about the environment the game is expected to be taking place in. I say this because, the expectations about the world must impact the game some how, or to quote (and I think it was Saladin Ahmed, but I can’t remember) a fantasy author, “your world must do something.” In this case, it is side-effects of magic.

I’m a fan of this idea, and I think that, no matter what system I run, I’m going to add this. Even if I have to home-rule it, I want consequences for power. It’s just to rich a device, both mechanically and narratively.






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