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Magic Realm magic system for BRP


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Magic Realm was a sprawling fantasy boardgame by Avalon Hill from the 1980s. It had many innovations for its time including an elaborate magic system which is of some interest (to me at least and anyone else interested in tinkering with BRP magic systems). Here's a summary of the system and how it might work for BRP.

Magic Realm magic system


Magic is energised by 5 different colours, which are present at certain places and times. Each spell is one of eight types, and each uses a particular colour. Spellcasters need access to the right colour before they can cast a spell. This system allows instantaneous casting of spells only with some forethought, preparation or serendipity. Magic use becomes more planned, more strategic by necessity. This system is useful for lower-magic campaigns, or at least to add a planning side to a high-magic campaign.

5 Colours of magic

There are 5 'colours' of magical energy, which each 'power' a certain kind of magic

+ White - Power from On High, working beneficient magic

+ Grey - Natural Laws, controlling nature

+ Gold - Woods Sprites, working elvish magic

+ Purple - Elemental Energies, twisting and reshaping reality

+ Black -Demonic power, working infernal magic

Sources of colour magic


Certain days are energised with magic (assuming a 28 day lunar cycle; for a 30 day month just use 7, 15, 22, 30)

+ 7th day of month - White or Black magic, alternating monthly

+ 14th day of month - Grey

+ 21st day of month- Gold

+ 28th day of month - Purple


Certain places are naturally energised with different colours of magic, eg. temples, stone circles, places of power. All spell casters in the area can use the colour for their spells. Places can also be temporarily enchanted by spellcasters (see Enchantment below).

Enchanted items

Enchanted items pulse with a particular colour of magic, energising a locality with that colour. All spell casters near the item can use the colour for their spells


Spellcasters can energise their own magical materials with the appropriate colour for their own spells.

4 hours preparation time

followed by

4 hours + 1 MP to enchant materials with colour for one spell

8 hours + 5 MP to enchant an area with a colour -- supplies all spells of that colour in the area

MP remain committed (cannot be regenerated) until the colour is used to activate a spell

8 types of magic

There are several types of magic, a little similar to schools or some such, but encompassing different magical traditions (a bit like spirit magic vs. divine magic in Runequest). Each type of magic is learned by a spell caster as a separate skill. The first five types are strongly associated with the colours of magic. Each type contains several spells (not listed here, but you can imagine them). Each spell uses a particular colour (or occasionally any colour) to energise it.

1. Type I Righteous invocations (white)

2. Type II Pagan rites (grey)

3. Type III Elvish lore (gold)

4. Type IV Energy-binding alchemy (purple)

5. Type V Diabolic ceremonies (black)

6. Type VI Conjuring techniques

7. Type VII Good luck knacks

8. Type VIII Malicious tricks

Casting spells

Casting a spell requires the correct colour of magic be present. Each spell requires a colour to cast, usually but not always the colour associated with its type. Some spells can be cast with any colour. Casting time is normal ie. 1 combat round is typical.

Magic points spent are committed (cannot be regenerated) until the spell expires. This could be instantly for a combat spell, or longer for a day spell or permanent spell.

Permanent spells have an effect while their colour is present; they become dormant at other times.

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  • 1 month later...

Thanks for showing interest. I would probably start by classifying existing spell lists; Elric! RQ3 or the Big Gold Book are the sources I have to hand. Since the Big Gold Book is the only one in print, I could start there. In my own campaign I often use Rolemaster's Spell Law. I didn't list the spells from the original game, because they are mostly specific to that, but some of them would give me a clue about how to classify similar spells.


OK, this didn't take too long. Here's the Big Gold Book spells classified by colour and type according to this system. It's a first cut, you may not agree with the classifications but it is a demonstration.

Big Gold Book sorcery spells (p.129) classified for Magic Realm colour and type



[tr][td]Cloak of Night[/td][td]Pagan Rite[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Leap[/td][td]Pagan Rite[/td][td]Grey/Gold[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Sureness[/td][td]Elvish Lore[/td][td]Gold[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Beauty[/td][td]Elvish Lore[/td][td]Gold[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Plasticity[/td][td]Elvish Lore[/td][td]Gold/Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Soul[/td][td]Diabolic ceremonies[/td][td]Black[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Speed[/td][td]Elvish Lore[/td][td]Gold[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Strength[/td][td]Elvish Lore[/td][td]Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Suppleness[/td][td]Elvish Lore[/td][td]Gold[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Vitality[/td][td]Diabolic ceremonies[/td][td]Black[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Wisdom[/td][td]Diabolic ceremonies[/td][td]Black[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Armor[/td][td]Good luck knacks[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Bulwark[/td][td]Good luck knacks[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Hammer[/td][td]Good luck knacks[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Razor[/td][td]Good luck knacks[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Sharp Flame[/td][td]Good luck knacks[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Talons[/td][td]Good luck knacks[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Make Fast[/td][td]Energy-binding alchemy[/td][td]Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Make Whole[/td][td]Righteous invocations[/td][td]White[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Midnight[/td][td]Pagan Rite[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Moonrise[/td][td]Energy-binding alchemy[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Bounty of the Sea[/td][td]Pagan Rite[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Flames of the Sun[/td][td]Energy-binding alchemy[/td][td]Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Gift of the Earth[/td][td]Pagan Rite[/td][td]Purple/Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Wings of the Sky[/td][td]Pagan Rite[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Curse of Sorcery[/td][td]Malicious Tricks[/td][td]any[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Fury[/td][td]Malicious Tricks[/td][td]any[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Liken Shape[/td][td]Malicious Tricks[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Muddle[/td][td]Malicious Tricks[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Pox[/td][td]Malicious Tricks[/td][td]Black[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Unbreakable Bonds[/td][td]Conjuring techniques[/td][td]Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Brazier of Power[/td][td]Energy-binding alchemy[/td][td]Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Chain of Being[/td][td]Energy-binding alchemy[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Undo Sorcery[/td][td]Conjuring techniques[/td][td]Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Ward[/td][td]Conjuring techniques[/td][td]any[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Summon Demon[/td][td]Diabolic rituals[/td][td]Black[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Summon Elemental[/td][td]Conjuring techniques[/td][td]Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Bird's Vision[/td][td]Pagan Rites[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Breath of Life[/td][td]Pagan Rites[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Rat's Vision[/td][td]Pagan Rites[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Refutation[/td][td]Conjuring techniques[/td][td]Purple[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Ear[/td][td]Pagan Rites[/td][td]Grey/Gold[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Sorcerer's Eye[/td][td]Pagan Rites[/td][td]Grey[/td][/tr]

[tr][td]Witch Sight[/td][td]Conjuring techniques[/td][td]Black/White[/td][/tr]


Edited by Questbird
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  • 2 weeks later...

We.....eeelll. I recently went through a long exercise to reprint the game from components redesigned on Boardgame Geek. That went well. The game is quite interesting in that it allows a lot of freedom of action...for a boardgame. You can play co-operatively or not with other characters, you can hire the locals as well as trade with them. And the magic system as I've noted is quite singular. But on the downside, the rules are *very* convolutedly written (more so than necessary IMHO) and, ultimately it's a very open-ended boardgame but not a role-playing game. Some people still love the game, although it's been out of print for years. I prefer rpgs, and I don't mind stealing the interesting bits, like the 'colours' of magic.

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