Spontaneous Sorcery in ACKS

In Fight On! #1 there’s a neat little system which provides additional flexibility for Vancian spellcasters.

Basically the idea is that you can cast a watered down version of a prepared spell without losing it. Making someone yawn when you have Sleep prepared, etc.

I dig this.

However, the game I’m running right now is ACKS, which doesn’t actually use Vancian magic. Spellcasters have the same number of spell levels they can cast per day as in classic D&D, but they don’t need to prepare them. To balance this out the number of spells you can know is limited. (You can switch spells in and out of your repertoire so you don’t get stuck with a sucky spell forever, but it takes some time and money.)

So, I’m playing with the idea of allowing spellcasters in ACKS to “leave a spell hanging”, or “partially cast”. The idea is that if you have an unused spell slot left, by reserving it for a specific spell you can access the watered down cantrip version.

Ie. if you have at least one first level spell left for the day and you know Sleep, you can make someone yawn by almost casting Sleep. This reserves that spell slot for Sleep for the rest of the day, but you can make use of the yawn-inducement effect at will until you actually finish casting Sleep.

Some possible cantrips associated with 1st level spells:

  • Sleep: Make someone yawn or feel a bit tired.
  • Magic Missile: Zing someone for 0hp. Elementalists with fiery magic missiles can probably light candles with this.
  • Shield: Protection from rain or wind — about as good as an umbrella.
  • Floating Disk: Hold up a drink or a book.
  • Read languages: Change the apparent language in a book to another, as long as you know both.
  • Charm Person: Politeness grants you a fresh reaction roll.


  1. If you want spellcasters to be able to cast fluffy effect that have little in-game impact, how about importing the cantrips/orisons mechanic from type 3 D&D?

  2. I think the Fight On idea is cool but why limit it to ‘prepared’ slots? All this does is allow some role play color without providing much, if any, mechanical benefit. I’m going to try it with the pc’s repertoire with my ACKS game and see how it works.

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