Magic in the Elder Scrolls universe works differently than in any edition of D&D therefore revising it is almost mandatory. Here are the guidelines how magic should work in your 5th Edition Elder Scrolls game.
- No more preparing and spellslots!
Magic in the Elder Scrolls world is cast spontaneously and it consumes a resource called Magicka. The spell point variant presented in the DMG works pretty well, so just use that. Also, no spellbooks exist (there are tomes which contain spell instructions). Wizards remember their spells.
- No divine casters, Cleric, Paladin and Druid are excluded from the available classes
There is no divine magic in the Elder Scrolls like in D&D. Priests and other casters who use healing magic are arcane casters using the School of Restoration.
- No sorcerer class
Arcane magic users in the Elder Scrolls learn their spells through studying and never instinctively. Also, the source of their power is their born magical affinity and the years and years of routine, and not something inherited from some strange entity, or bloodline.
- New schools of magic
Instead of the usual schools of magic, the Elder Scrolls uses the following schools: Destruction, Restoration, Conjuration, Alteration, Illusion and Mysticism. These replace the traditonal schools.
Destruction is channeling magicka into destructive powers, most commonly in the form of Ice, Fire or Electricity.
Restoration is the manipulation of life energy, dealing with healing spells, destroying and damaging undead creatures, and also absorbing life energies from your foes to a lesser extent.
Conjuration is summoning daedric creatures from daedric planes, undead creatures from Soul Cairn, or animating dead bodies with magical energy.
Alteration spells change the physical properties of the target, most commonly objects.
Illusion can inluence the target mentally, can demoralize or cause fear, or the opposite, boost morale, and frenzy. Illusion can also silence and stun the target, as well as cause invisbility, nightvision, or light related spells.
Mysticism seems to control Magicka itself, as well as bind souls. Mysticism can detect life absorb or reflect magical effects, as well as it can manipulate objects via telekinesis.
- Spell learning and spell creation.
In the world of Elder Scrolls learning new spells is relatively easy, especially at lower levels, but quite expensive. Learning a spell takes hours of experimentaiton and spending spell
points. A Mage must spend hours equal to the level of the spell, and 2
times the spellpoints required to cast the spell normally. Learning a
3rd level spell for example requires 3 hours of experimentation and spending 10
magicka (spellpoints). Any willing mage of sufficient level is able to teach people all the spells he knows, but often only at a hefty price. Cheap spells are often of dubious quality, and haven't been properly tested.
Spell tomes, with spell instructions can be found as treasure, or in rare cases some store can sell them.
A magic user can also create his own spells, given a spellmaker altar is available. This method is also expensive (although less than buying the fully tested spells) requires experimentation, and quite dangerous. To create a spell, the spell caster must know the effects from another spell. For example, wizards cannot create fire spells, if they don't know any spell with fire damage. To create a spell, use the guidelines presented in the DMG.
When the spellcaster creates a spell, he must make Caster rolls. The difficulty equals 12+ the level of the spell. The caster rolls a d20, then adds his proficiency bonus plus spell casting modifier. A spell to be created, it needs a number of successes equal to the level of the spell. Only one roll can be made per day. Experimenting on a spell requires 8 hours of work per day. If during the creation of the spell the caster made more failures than successes, the spell becomes unstable, and may produce random effects everytime it is used. A caster can only create spells he is high enough in level to cast
- Spellcasting Attributes:
In the Elder Scrolls games multiple attributes were used to cast spells. To emulate that, spellcasting characters use Wisdom(Willpower) to determine spell save DC-s and Intelligence to determine spell attack modifiers. Alternatively for more traditionally D&D type of experience, you can let your players choose either, or detemine one of them.
As an alternative rule, which evokes the feel of Elder Scrolls even more, is to determine spellcasting abilities per magic school, as it was done in the games. In this system, the following schools use the following Spellcasting attributes:
Willpower: Alteration, Destruction, Restoration
Intelligence: Conjuration, Mysticism
- Ritual casting:
There is no default magic spells with ritual casting. You may want to use certain powerful spells as plot devices, that are not available through normal spells. Such spells could be: Turning into a lich, reanimating large quantities of undead, summoning powerful atronachs and daedra, opening oblivion gates, affecting crowds of people etc.
Such spells should need rare ingredients and only to be used a few times, and you may want to limit accessibility to PC-s.