Additional Examples of Charms, Spells, and Natural Magic/Talents

Submitted by Dreamstreamer on Fri, 01/06/2012 – 16:50

On pages 75 of SKoH, there is a smattering of examples for charms, spells, and talents. Where can I find additional examples?

I just realised that no one yet mentioned what is to me the most obvious source of a great many examples of Common Magic ability examples. To wit, the old (V1) Heroquest: Roleplaying in Glorantha book. While it didn’t fit the format (Common Magic was not tied to runes), the actual ability names are still useful, and are arguably one of the highlights of that book. It helps that they are also tied to various sources from which one might get them in different cultures – which are not necessarily impossible to adapt to whichever ones you like. This is definitely what I would use as examples or inspiration if I needed to figure out some Common Magic.

HeroQuest 1

If you have a copy of HQ1 then yes of course it can be used for inspiration. However I wouldn’t recommend buying it just for that (or any other reason). Save your money for the Guide.


David Scott

More examples

Hi, there are some more in the sample characters starting on page 27.

The Sartar Companion has example charms in the writeup of Kolat and Odayla.

Pavis also has six sample characters, each with three examples starting on page 19.

Bear in mind that mechanically they all work the same so if say you want to use a published spell as a charm, just switch it (you may need some slight changes to make it feel right).

eg. Jorjar Latish in Pavis has the spell “Summon single kind of fruit”. Changing it to a charm you could call it “Fetch single kind of fruit”, imagining that the spirit goes off and gets one for the hero. As a talent it could be “Find single kind of fruit”, imaging that the hero can just look around for a few moments and find a fruit.

If you need inspiration (I know some people have trouble with this), have a look at some real world magic:

type in spell or charm and perhaps a word you want as the theme for the magic eg horse

If you prefer books, this is my favourite:

Amulets: A World of Secret Powers, Charms and Magic by Sheila Paine…


Great references!

Thanks for pointing out the other examples in the current books! It gives me a place to start. Those websites should come in handy, too. Would you say that the staves (from the first link) are more akin to charms than talents in the game?

A billion years is too short a time to accomplish everything you can imagine, for imagination is infinite.



I see the staves as inspiration rather than one type or the other. Here’s a quick list of the stave inspired talents:


Helm of Awe 

(mastery) Commanding Look

(mastery) Fear me

(mastery) Can’t command me



(fire or truth) Find a Coin (relevant to a Pavis or Boldhome hero only)


To find a thief

(truth) Thief spotter

(truth) sharp eyed


Wrestling Staves

(earth or stasis) Sure  footed

(earth) wrestling winner


A Fishing Stave

(water or beast) excellent fisherman


Trade Clincher

(trade) Eye for a bargain


Water Protector

(water) Swim like a fish

(water) Strong Swimmer


Staves for Sharpening
(death) never a dull blade



(truth, illusion or fate) Dreams of the future


Valdemar’s Protection Stave

(darkness or anti-chaos) Evil will not harm me

(luck) Lucky

(harmony) calm and composed


Fear Inducer

(mastery) Face off

(death) Chilling screem


A Killing Rune

(death) (animal species) Evil eye


To make a Woman Pregnant

(life) Lusty

(life) never a dud one



(earth) crush lock

(disorder) break lock

(Truth) Pick lock


To Get a Girl

(life or harmony) Handsome

(disorder) Womaniser


To Open Hills

(earth) find cave

(earth) earth diver


A Stave to Raise the Dead

(life) one last chance

(darkness) banish ghost

(darkness) no spirits near me

A Lesser Circle of Protection

(law) spell bounce

(spirit) charm bounce

(earth) absorb magic

(fire) burn magic

To Win in Court

(truth) winning argument


Against Witchcraft

(earth) dampen sorcery

(fire) burn sorcery

(water) spit at sorcery

(storm) breath in sorcery

(darkness) kill sorcery

Against the Wrath of those in Power
(illusion) It wasn’t me

(illusion) good liar


To ward off Foxes
(beast) smell bad to (animal type)



(spirit) make spirit thief

(spirit) sense food tampering



David Scott


Just what I was looking for

Thanks David, this has exactly the kinds of examples that I was looking for!

A billion years is too short a time to accomplish everything you can imagine, for imagination is infinite.


More Common Magics : make them up !

You – or better, your player – can just make them up. They are like “family reciepes”, or it’s something the character has picked up on his travels somewhere – thus these Common Magics don’t need to fit with his/her usual profile. A heortling warrior can have learned a sorcery spell that Makes Sword Shine, for instance. Except he doesn’t call it it a spell. Anything goes, as long as player and GM agree.

One of my pirate players has a Blue Eagle Farsight spirit ; it gives him better eyesight. Another has Smell out Treasure (which gives him a Greedy trait). And so on.


For the less-imaginative, more examples?

Thanks Herve! Good point that an ability can fall within any of the categories with an appropriate description. I especially like the examples from your group. Do you have any other examples?

A billion years is too short a time to accomplish everything you can imagine, for imagination is infinite.


Specific Common Magics

The strangest common magic I ever saw was “Inappropriate Humor”, by an almost-trickster character. Most “normal” (i.e. non-PC) types will know reciepes that help them do their job.

Players often seem to pick Perception Enhancers : See in the Dark, See through Mist (very useful in a maritime setting), Sense Ghosts, etc. They’re also big on anything that helps movement and travel : Great Jump, Run for Hours, Easy Rider, etc

I particularly like social enhancers such as “Look Handsome”, “Beautiful Clothes”, “Glib Tongue”, “Come Hither Look”, etc. They’re a nice change for combat-oriented characters. Of course, in hierarchized cultures guilds/societies of servants have developped talents such as “Look Busy”, “Placate Superior”, “Anticipate Needs of Master”, etc. Thieves cults also teach stuff like “Spot Mark”, “Crowd Melding”, “Look like Anybody”, “Forget Me”, etc

And of course,Trickster-type magic effects are endless inspiring, with magics such as “Hard on”, “Droop”, “Fart”, “Defecate without end” etc etc. Not to forget the fearsome “Bowel Scream”, which drives PCs berserk (works everythime). I know, it’s not classy finishing with these but they do add a lot of, hem, flavor to a game.


Oh, Oh, It’s Magic?

Okay, some of those I can easily see as “magical” in nature. Some seem rather “mundane” in comparison. At what point is it the result of magic? For example, “Look Handsome” sounds like it would work as a normal ability. Does magic make it better than if it was just listed as a physical trait? Or is there no differentiation between the two?

A billion years is too short a time to accomplish everything you can imagine, for imagination is infinite.


Magical vs. Mundane

I see the magical talent of (Look) Handsome as like the special effect glint they put in teeth in films, that kind of hair that floats as the princess runs, or eyes that get larger (watch some Disney).

Framing contests will work differently between physical and magical (I use the “say yes or roll the dice approach”):

“I’m hiding in the crowd, looking like a local”, “but your handsome 13 and stand out, minus two to your roll, roll the dice”

“I’m hiding in the crowd, looking like a local and am not using my handsome magic.”, “yes”.

As it’s magic it can be improved much more easily than physical handsomeness, you just learn to concentrate harder at doing it.

Sartar page 75, Magical Talents says “Their effects can be dispelled in a specific situation, but not taken away.”

This makes it more fun than physical handsomeness, you fumble using it and it suffers a state of adversity. You need to figure out how to get it back! Wooing the girl gets a bit harder.

You couldn’t say that with physical handsomeness, you’ve got a state of adversity in your physical handsomeness and are now less attractive (except through disfigurement).


David Scott


Magic Switch/Toggle

So, magical abilities can be consciously toggled on and off, whereas mundane abilities don’t typically have that luxury? That makes a certain amount of sense.

A billion years is too short a time to accomplish everything you can imagine, for imagination is infinite.


The Handsome Magical effect

I totally agree with David : “handsomness/beauty magics” do make you look very special, with flashing teeth, hairs with “loreal effect”, etc. You can use them two ways : to enhance your natural beauty, or to use directly – to help you get, hrm, physical satisfaction, for instance. Same magics can apply to your Voice, your Gaze or even your clothes.

As for turning it off and on at will… Sometimes it’s not that easy. Remember these effects all come from the Rune of Illusion, a very trickster-oriented rune. Trickster Magic is… unreliable. It’s been known to wear off or kick on at the worst possible moment. Such as when you are at least alone with the object of your attentions. In fact, it’s a fave among tricksters. I love tricksters.

And of course, the reverse is also true : you can “Make person ugly”, give “Croaking Voice”, or some other endearing trait like “smell like shit”. Imagine using that on a politician giving a rousing speech, or an accused protesting his innocence at court – the possibilities are endless. Of course, then it’s a mix of Disorder/Illusion Runes.


More than an Illusion

I get that the effects could be created using the illusion rune, but couldn’t there be other runes that would work, too? For example, couldn’t the air rune be used to get the effect of wind in the hair? I seem to recall that Orlanth was quite the womanizer. Also, couldn’t something like “Animal Magnetism” be accomplished with the Yinkin rune? I would imagine that there would be less risk with those runes than with the rune of illusion, right?

A billion years is too short a time to accomplish everything you can imagine, for imagination is infinite.


Your first magical effects

I like the “Animal magnetism” talent, though it’s probably more specific for a yinkini : Sweet Purring, or Catlike Grace, etc. And they’d be part of his Cat rune, though some worshippers might have them as innate talent.

I also like your idea of using the wind to play with your hairs (mane) and cape, that’s cool. But I think most burly, he-men orlanthi would rather die than get caught doing that. In fact, some do – Orlanth was quite vain himself.

As for risks using magics : basically, anything that add fun and flavor to the game goes. We assume that (with the exception of Trickster) gods favor their worshippers and that their Magics last “as long as the contest lasts”. But what about a dog passing by when the ynkini does his romance bit ? The dog attacks him. In fact, many a father/husband has protected his daughter/wife with a pack of dogs. In clans where dogs are admitted, such as the greydog bastards.

So you see : you have invented your first two magical effects, and both can generate interesting play opportunities !