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The High Magic Sourcebook
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The High Magic Sourcebook

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The High Magic Sourcebook

The High Magic Sourcebook introduces all-new mechanics for high magic, epic spells, circle magic, and spellsinging, to make the magic system for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons more chaotic and powerful than ever before. Marshal unimaginable energy with cooperative spellcasting and feed an empire—or erase your enemies from existence.

New subclasses and a slew of new spells, magic items, downtime activities, and creatures support the high magic mechanics, making it a living, breathing part of the Forgotten Realms campaign setting. This book also offers guidelines for adapting these rules to Eberron, Strixhaven, and other D&D worlds.

This 56-page supplement includes:

  • All-new rules for high magic, epic spells, circle magic, spellsinging!
  • 2 new subclasses: the High Magic Specialist arcane tradition and the High Magic Bloodline sorcerous origin!
  • New downtime activities related to high magic spellcraft!
  • New feats, spells, magic items, and more!
  • Printer-friendly version (black & white and without illustrations)!
  • FULL PREVIEW! Read the entire book before you buy!

DMs Guild Pick of the Week (January 4, 2022)!

SOFTCOVER PRINT-ON-DEMAND EDITION NOW AVAILABLE!

The High Magic Sourcebook was written, designed, and illustrated by Gordon McAlpin (Feats Don’t Fail Me Now, Death by Goblins!) with design consultants Steve Fidler, James Introcaso, and Chris S. Sims, and edited by Laura Hirsbrunner. 

A high magic sourcebook crackles with energy.A group of high mages conjures a demon from another dimension.An arcane expert examines a scroll.A high magic bloodline sorcerer levitates off the ground.A wizard casts forked lightning, zapping three goblins while their allies watch on.A spellsinger poses with her swords, one of which is broken.


 
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Customer avatar
Lori G April 30, 2022 9:20 am UTC
PURCHASER
Quick question about DCs for the spell crafting check for applying an incantation to a spell. The DC for a 3rd level fireball with the expand/contract incantation would be 10+3+2=15, correct? We were unsure if the “applied incantations” part of that formula only comes into effect when modifying a spell that has already had an incantation applied to it prior to the newest.
Customer avatar
Gordon M April 30, 2022 10:07 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hello! I'm not 100% sure I follow that last sentence, but yes, assuming you’re using a 2nd level spell slot and *only* applying Expand or Contract, it would be a DC 15 Spellcraft check, yes.

But if a group of high mages cast a 3rd level fireball spell and added 2 slot levels of Expand *and* 2 slot levels of (say) Empower, then the DC for *both* Spellcraft checks is DC 17. In that example, both of those incantations are being applied by a high mage using their reaction to fireball being cast, so the incantations are really being applied simultaneously.

The reason is each extra slot level (effectively) raises the level of the spell (whether or not it actually raises the spell level, as Amplify does), or — narratively — makes the magical energy of that spell harder to control and manipulate.

Hopefully that makes sense…?
Customer avatar
Marcus L March 24, 2022 8:46 am UTC
PURCHASER
The Expand/Contract Incantation seems to have the text for contract under the expand headline and vice versa.
Customer avatar
Marcus L March 24, 2022 6:54 pm UTC
PURCHASER
And it seems Gordon already fixed it. :-)
Customer avatar
Gordon M March 24, 2022 7:02 pm UTC
CREATOR
Oh whoops! I could have sworn I replied to you on here! Yup, thank you for the heads up. What an embarrassing (but thankfully pretty obvious and minor) mistake!
Customer avatar
Roni B March 07, 2022 8:41 pm UTC
so, the new arcane exchange spell lets you expand spell slots to gain higher level spell slots than you could normally access, right? i'm guessing it's supposed to be balanced out by how you wouldn't normally know any such high level spells in the first place, and would only be able to either upcast spells or use some of the high magic rules with that spell slot, but there's a weird interaction here with the mizzium apparatus item from the ravnica book (which a lot of DMs allow for other settings as well). the mizzium apparatus states, "you can attempt to cast a spell that you do not know or have prepared. The spell you choose must be on your class's spell list and of a level for which you have a spell slot, and you must provide the spell's components. You expend a spell slot to cast the spell as normal, but before resolving it you must make an Intelligence (Arcana) check. The DC is 10 + twice the level of the spell slot you expend to cast the spell." So how does this spell interact with that item? would...See more
Customer avatar
Gordon M March 07, 2022 10:05 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hey, Roni! Oh wow. That's a really cool interaction with the mizzium apparatus! Yeah, you're right: when I designed arcane exchange, I mainly had upcasting and high magic in mind, but (again) I think you’re exactly right: you can use the apparatus to cast a high-level spell that you don’t know… if you have the spell slots to burn and the courage (or foolhardiness) to risk the potential consequences! Come to think of it, that should even work with epic spells (though with two checks: one for the apparatus and one for casting the epic spell)! But only a very foolish character would try that. :D
Customer avatar
Damian F January 16, 2022 4:10 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Hm, I think there might be some extra explanations added to some Metamagic Factors specifically for when they're applied in spellcraft! For example, the "Project" incantation is reliant on your High Magic Field, yet it can be used in spellcraft to make spells which do not require the high magic field.

Would it be fair to say that the Project factor when used in spellcraft would change a spell from Self to Touch, thus encouraging one to then use the various range-extenders to make it go further?
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 16, 2022 4:53 pm UTC
CREATOR
Yup, that's exactly what Project is useful for in spellcraft. The "Other Properties" subheading on page 25 covers that, and it even uses the Project incantation as the example: "If an incantation description refers to any property of a high magic field, for purposes of customizing a seed spell, consider the effect the incantation would have on that spell if cast in a 3rd-level high magic induction. For example, adding 1 slot level in the Project metamagic factor changes the jump spell’s range of touch to 30 feet."
Customer avatar
Damian F January 16, 2022 4:56 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Ah, good, thanks for pointing that out, I must have missed it because I keep jumping from page to page while doing spellcraft. xD
Getting a good bit of use out of it, that's for sure. Think I've made about 8 spells using it today as a DM.
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 16, 2022 5:07 pm UTC
CREATOR
No worries! I'm really excited you’re using it! It was a tough system to design and even tougher to figure out how to explain it without OVER-explaining it (which can often make game concepts harder to understand). Steve, James, Chris, and Laura were invaluable in that department. In some cases we (I) may have erred on the side of brevity, but I do think we covered all our bases somewhere or another. haha
Customer avatar
Damian F January 16, 2022 5:46 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Oh yes, definitely. There are some areas in Spellcraft where I feel like I need to improvise as a DM (for example, if I want to reduce the Range of a spell - the Distance option has no reduction option in its metamagic form, but I personally see to it to allow a reduction under the same principle of the AOE reduction, to a minimum range of Touch).

Doing a bunch of examples for my own fun also helps show off the process to my players.
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 16, 2022 6:13 pm UTC
CREATOR
I can't remember exactly what the issue was anymore, but I *think* there was some balance problem with the Distance-reduction incantation/factor when I tried designing it to work that way? I will take another look at it, but feel free to house-rule that you can “invert” it (like Expand/Contract or Amplify/Diminish), just be prepared for the results to maaaybe get a little wonky. :)
Customer avatar
Damian F January 16, 2022 6:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Oh I've no doubt things could get wonky with some spell effects. But as I love homebrew and customisation so much, I doubt it'd be a problem - especially since as the DM I do have final say and often make small tweaks outside of the written rules to make sure a spell "flows" better or has a better identity compared to its seed. It's a bit weird, for example, to just take Fireball and change its element, yet keep the "ignites objects not worn or carried" part (unless you intend to, like calling it "Psifire Blast" (Psychic) or "Spark Ignition" (Lightning).
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 16, 2022 6:49 pm UTC
CREATOR
For sure. "Iceball" igniting things is definitely weird. haha But it still makes sense with lightning damage! Perhaps a line removing secondary effects could have been called for with the Transmute incantation, but since it's basically the sorcerer's Metamagic option (Transmute spell, from Tasha's Cauldron of Everything) it also made sense to just leave it.
Customer avatar
James C January 15, 2022 2:36 am UTC
Any chance this will be converted to Fantasy Grounds?
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 15, 2022 5:18 am UTC
CREATOR
I won't say never, but there are no plans for one at this time, sorry!
Customer avatar
James C January 15, 2022 8:48 pm UTC
Ah well I use Fantasy Grounds and really like the idea of using this but it would be more useful in the app
Customer avatar
Dylan P January 12, 2022 10:38 pm UTC
PURCHASER
This is exactly what my spellcasting fantasies are made of. I want nothing more than to have this as a Hardcover, but baring that, I want to run a Strixhaven campaign with this as the end goal.
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 12, 2022 10:51 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hah! You’re very kind, thank you! 56 pages is a bit short for a hardcover but there will be a softcover POD version soon. (We need to make some revisions to the file so it will be a couple weeks at least, unfortunately.)
Customer avatar
Alan P January 11, 2022 8:20 pm UTC
PURCHASER
The Epic Conjure Dragon spell seems to be missing from the pdf, otherwise I love the pdf, although I am struggling to figure out the epic spell factor contribution to creating/altering spells and their power for checks.
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 11, 2022 9:39 pm UTC
CREATOR
Whoops. Yeah, Epic Conjure Dragon was intentionally cut, but I forgot to remove it from the table, apparently. Thanks for the heads up there; I'll have the PDF updated in a few minutes. (However, you can see a 5th level version of it in Return of the Azure Bonds, a DMs Guild title I co-wrote! The epic version would be that + a whole bunch Greater Conjuration epic spell factors.)

Damian F’s question below about spell factors might clear some things up about that. In general, they affect a spell and its power/level exactly the same as regular metamagic factors, with the qualifier that if you use an epic spell factor, the minimum resulting spell level is 10. And, of course, epic spell factors can’t be used during high magic inductions. Does that help? Otherwise, I'd need to have a better idea with what you’re struggling with to explain it.

The mechanical reason for the minimum level is that you could make some wildly overpowered spells if you could use them on normal spells. But for...See more
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 11, 2022 9:52 pm UTC
CREATOR
Actually, here's an example. Say we want to take anti-magic field (8th level), extend its duration, and remove the concentration requirement.

Since the Extend Duration epic factor raises the slot level by 3 (in exchange for making the 1 hour duration = 3 hours, assuming your proficiency bonus is +6), so it’s better to use 3 slot levels of Extend metamagic factor instead, because 3 factors of that increases it to 4 hours instead.

Then Persistence (which removes concentration) raises it by the level of the seed spell: 8.

The result, then, is a 19th level spell: that is, a DC 19 Spellcraft check.
Customer avatar
Alan P January 12, 2022 4:08 am UTC
PURCHASER
The question is more about the line on page 27 "Each factor can incorporate a number of levels up to a number equal to your Arcana proficiency bonus (e.g., 12 levels for a 17th-level wizard)." Does this line imply that a 17th level caster has expertise or are we doing d12s for variant proficiency?? Also can incantations be used during spellcrafting(designing a spell) and while casting in a high magic field? The proficiency bonus question is with regard to determining how high one could ramp up the cr of the conjure elemental spell to summon one of the elder elementals (Tempest/Phoenix/Leviathan). The final factor related question is the Precision Targetting permitted to instead make a summon only able to attack/harm a single creature type/ faction rather than exclude a single type/faction. The example I am aiming for is to basically have my BBEG summon a benevolent pheonix that targets a specific group of individuals (the Harpers which my players are a part of) and leave basically the entire region and...See more
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 12, 2022 6:11 am UTC
CREATOR
Hm, I think yeah, that bit on page 27 "Arcana proficiency bonus" should clarify that the example 17th level wizard does have expertise; definitely not using a variant rule. I'll double-check with my editor but I think that is an error. Thanks for the heads up!

Metamagic incantations are called metamagic factors when used in spellcrafting (because nothing is "incanted" when you are writing a spell), but basically yes. If you know the Extend incantation, you can use it as a spell factor as well; see page 24. The idea is that while they're different contexts, they would both use the sample technical principles.

I would say there's no absolute upper limit to the CR, provided you can design the spell (and cast it), especially since you know they'll *extra* deadly and pissed if you lose control of the creature. haha -- Or rather, the limit is how many factors you can put into it (which your Arcana bonus), though you could use a 9th level conjure elemental as your seed spell,...See more
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 12, 2022 6:46 am UTC
CREATOR
* Maybe more useful example would be circle of death spell that doesn't affect Harpers.
Customer avatar
Alan P January 12, 2022 2:24 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Okay, I figured a permanent duration from metamagic combined with the factors removing concentration, buffing CR, and precision targeting would allow for the creation of a guardian/enforcer that wouldn't just burn the kingdom while it zeroed in on the party. The work around Is just going to use the duration metamagic factor with no concentration, slowed casting to reduce difficulty, and buffed CR Epic factors. The cult leader will just have to settle with the spell causing collateral damage. Thank you for clarifying!
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 12, 2022 4:40 pm UTC
CREATOR
No problem! Taking a second look at the conjure elemental spell, I think eliminating that concentration requirement *should* be enough to ensure a conjured creature stays friendly to you and your companions for the durations; so most of what you're after... there would just be no guarantees about anyone BUT the cult leader and their companions. (insert maniacal laughter of the DM here)
Customer avatar
January 09, 2022 6:00 am UTC
PURCHASER
Adoring the book, though the primary headscratcher I'm running into is on the subject of Mythals and Mythallar. Mythals especially regain an abysmally low amount of charges every day. They might have a high number of potential charges stored, but how can one expect to maintain a sufficient amount of charge within to power any amount of mythal powers if they're being recast every time they run out, most likely amounting to far more than three charges per day?
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 09, 2022 7:56 am UTC
CREATOR
Hello! Glad you adore the book! So the trick with "mythal design" is to make sure the mythal powers have a duration long enough that the mythal regains enough charges to recast the power/spell in perpetuity. Say we use forbiddance, a 6th level spell with a duration of a day; on its own, that is unsustainable for a mythal. But if you modify that spell with spellcraft first, you can create a 10th level version of forbiddance with a duration of over a year (6 + 1 slot of Extend to double that + 3 with Extend Duration epic spell factor to increase that to over a year). Then you just need 10 charges once every few years to maintain the power.
Customer avatar
Damian F January 07, 2022 6:22 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Really fascinating book, I'm loving it so far. But it can feel a bit convoluted sometimes. Can I get a better explanation of this:

"Adjust each metamagic factor’s slot level individually by multiplying it with the slot level modifier indicated on the Metamagic Factor Modifiers table, then add the adjusted metamagic factors together and apply the effects to the resulting spell."

I'm looking at the factor modifiers table where it's all +1, -1, or +1/2.

I don't quite follow how to apply these.

Say I take Magic Missile and apply Distance + Empower.
Does that mean I go 1 x 1 = 1, then it becomes a 2nd level spell?
And how would that work with halves?

Also, while I understand why "Delay" is not included due to its Incantation being based on spells already cast, wouldn't it make sense for there to be a Delay that you CAN use in spellcraft, given that there are already spells like "Delayed Blast Fireball" and...See more
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 07, 2022 7:43 pm UTC
CREATOR
Hey, Damian! Glad you’re enjoying the book, on the whole. Answering your questions backwards:

2) It *would* make sense for there to be some way to delay a spell. I think in some cases, though, it would end up conflicting with just using the contingency spell? That scenario did occur to me, but if I tried to anticipate every single possible change someone would want to make to a spell, things would get out of control fast.

I think if you have a compelling reason for a new spell factor, you and/or your DM could design one The incantations and factors included in this book are definitely NOT meant to be comprehensive, and I'd love it if other designers built off of the system here by designing new incantations/factors!

1) If you applied 1 factor of Distance and 1 factor of Empower, it would raise the spell level by 2. The multiplier is applied to *each factor*: so it’s (1 x 1) + (1 x 1) = 1 + 1 = 2.

I get that 1x1=1 seems… more complicated than it needs to...See more
Customer avatar
Damian F January 07, 2022 9:42 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Thank you for the swift response!

Both answers are more than satisfactory and help me get my head around it. Interestingly I thought numbers were always rounded down unless otherwise noted. But for my own sake I'll just say (rounded up) in my copied DM notes.

Thanks again!

EDIT: Oh just to double check, the factor thing, one of the values in the example is the seed spell level right? So it's 1x1 for factors on 1st level spells, 1x2 on second, 1x3 on third?

DOUBLE-EDIT: Oh wait, wait, I get it, I get it. Slot level of the metamagic incantation, because they have different potential effects. I got a bit lost roaming the book before it clicked!
Customer avatar
Gordon M January 07, 2022 10:28 pm UTC
CREATOR
D’oh, you’re right, I misremembered: you DO round down, not up (except where noted) so if you have a level 3 1/2 spell, then it DOES round down, and you get that 1/2 factor for "free" (that is, the cost of the research time and money).

It's coming back to me now. (It's been a while since I wrote these mechanics!) The only factors that applies to are Transmute and Subtlety, if that's the ONLY thing you want to change about the spell, your character is spending a lot of time and money for a pretty small benefit! But for example, if someone wants to make an "iceball" spell based off of fireball, I think it's reasonable to allow that to stay a 3rd level spell.

But regarding the factor multiplier yep, you got it! These ARE pretty crunchy mechanics, there's no getting around that. We did our best to make them as simple as possible without
Customer avatar
Damian F January 07, 2022 10:43 pm UTC
PURCHASER
Ah good, that does make plenty of sense.
I actually quite enjoy the crunchiness of it all, once I get past the initial confusion. I'm just the kind of individual that does better once I see it in action, as done in this little chat! :P
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File Last Updated:
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This title was added to our catalog on January 04, 2022.