There are five basic ways to cast magic: gestures, incantations, rituals, and artifacts.

Gestures

  • If you have a wand, use it! Raise it and point it at the object or person you are going to cast on.
  • If you don’t have a wand, that is ok! You may hold out your hand like a Jedi, or do some finger motions like Quentin Coldwater, some arm circles like Dr. Strange, plant an imaginary staff like Saruman, or any number of gestures. You’ve seen or read enough wizard fiction to have some idea of what to do.
  • It is appropriate to “go big”, be a little louder than usual, make motions and facial expressions that are strong rather than nuanced so that others can also understand what the intended effect is.

Incantations

  • If casting on a person, make sure you are in front of them and have their attention. They cannot roleplay magic if they don’t know you are casting a spell on them.
  • Use some description before the incantation to telegraph what your intended effect of the spell is. For example, you might say, “I’m going to use a spell to make you sleepy.” or “Hope you’re ready to go to sleep!” depending on whether it’s a confrontation/duel or a healing/helping scene.
  • Give the incantation. You can make it up. Pseudo-Latin or English derivatives followed by -us or -io often work well. “Dormio!” “Sleepus Maximus!” “Drowsioto!” are all examples you could make up that give the recipient and others an idea of what you’re casting.

Rituals

  • Rituals are a great way to do collaborative magic and involve people from different Paths, who have different kinds of magical knowledge.
  • Draw runes or verses, gather magical items from other players or invent them. Crystals, candles, charms, etc. work well.
  • Create a ritual circle. You can do this by pacing it off while chanting, using objects, gathering a group of people to join hands, etc.
  • Decide what the result of your ritual is intended to be. Are you making a protective circle? Summoning a ghost to speak through someone? Healing? Divining?
  • Decide on the steps of the ritual, and what you will do in each part. Decide on an incantation or series of them. Rituals generally have 4 parts: Opening, Invoking, Binding, Closing
  • Try to involve each person in the ritual in some way. Examples can be bearing some magical object, siphoning or absorbing magic, chanting in unison, etc.

Artifact Making

  • Any mundane object can suddenly become a magical one with your improvisation.
  • You can decide that an object is imbued with magical properties or is cursed.
  • What you say the object does, it is intended to do. Others can roleplay those effects if they desire.
  • Examples include: protection, curses of various kinds, magical batteries that store or amplify magic, contraptions to divine information or find the truth.

Divination

  • Numerology, casting stones, astrology, card-reading, rune-reading, tea-leaves reading, aura reading, palm-reading, phrenology, having a vision, speaking to an extraplanar entity — all of these are ways you can roleplay magic.
  • Mind Magic– retrieving memories, forcing the truth to be told, influencing someone’s decisions can be cast on others or on objects.

There are as many ways to play magical effects as you can imagine or invent! Spells can react differently depending on who is casting, who or what they are casting on, interference, and any number of factors!

Roleplaying magical effects

  • The recipient of a spell (if cast directly on you, or if encountered through a ritual or an artifact) decides how the magic affects them. Always. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do.
  • You may play what the caster intended if that interests you. E.g. freezing in place after a Petrify! spell lands. However, you do not have to.

Other interesting magical effects you may choose as the recipient:

  1. Deflection. You sweep the spell aside
  2. Protection. You protect yourself from its effects with an incantation or item.
  3. Misfire! The spell goes off but doesn’t hit you. It might glance you, with some light effects, or miss entirely.
  4. Side effect! The spell does not do what the caster intended. Instead, it does something you invent! Ex: Caster says “Sleepus Maximus!” Instead of sleeping, you start dancing or being in full body pain.

About Maury Brown

After working as a marketing and communications executive for a Fortune 500 company, Maury Brown moved to the education sector, where she has more than 15 years experience designing curriculum, delivering and assessing instruction, and conducting research on engagement and learning with students in elementary school through graduate school. A diverse writer of fiction, poetry, and non-fiction with degrees in literature and creative writing from the University of Virginia, she is finishing her PhD in Rhetoric & Cultural Studies, researching larps as participatory design and interactive storytelling. She has been involved in role-playing games since the early 1990s.