Spells do not simply pop into existence from a vacuum. Somebody had to create them. Magic itself is is a raw and chaotic force. It was wizards that discovered methods of channeling and focusing that force in safer and more controllable ways. Wands are one method by which this is accomplished, providing a means to literally aim one's magic and confine it to a singular, direct effect. But even wands can be wild and unpredictable without actual spells.
What Is a Spell?
A spell is a formulaic method of drawing upon magic to create a specific effect. It is comprised of an incantation and wand movement. But it takes more than simply learning the words and movements to learn how to cast a spell properly. A wizard must apply his will, and have an understanding of what he is doing, lest his mind wander and produce unexpected results.
The incantation serves as a method of focusing the mind. While most incantations have a Latinate feel to them, they are not actually Latin. The Latin language, like many other ancient tongues, has roots from a time when magic was much more a part of the world. As such, the sounds of the language are frequently suitable for touching upon those places in the mind that handle magical patterns. Also, it just sounds fancy.
The wand movement is literally a method of "stirring up" the forces of nature and reshaping them. This is why the magical core of a wand is so important. Different cores may naturally have a stronger or weaker connection to certain forces, and therefore have an easier or harder time shaping effects related to those forces.
Of course, spells can be cast without incantations or wands. This reveals the actual truth of spells; that the "formulae" to cast them are not comprised of sounds and movements. These are merely tools to assist the wizard. The formulae exist entirely in the mind, and rely upon a wizard's ability to focus his will and desire. But true understanding of this is an advanced concept that few wizards ever really grasp.
Putting the Pieces Together
Those with a higher understanding of magical theory can not only grasp how their spells work, but can develop new methods of weaving magic in the form of entirely new spells. On rare occasions, a person might create a new spell by fluke, but this happens maybe once in a century, if that. The forces behind magic are simply too numerous and complex, and the combination of elements required is too subtle and precise. Creating a new spell requires time, patience, knowledge, and usually a lot of failure.
Step 1: Concept
The first step in creating a new spell is to conceptualize what the spell is intended to do. Knowing the effects will inform about what type of magic it is, such as a charm or a transfiguration. It also helps to figure out just how difficult the spell will be to cast, how long it will take, how long its effects will endure, and how much study is required to learn it.
The only system involved in this is determining the mechanics of the spell. Refer to Spells for full details on Skill/Roll, Training, Casting Time, and Duration.
Step 1: Before anything else, familiarize yourself with the spell format. Look at the current spells and get to know what all the terms mean.
Step 2: Look over the existing spells. Is there another spell that's similar to what you want? If so, it might be better just to use the one that's there. If you feel that existing spell could be expanded a bit to encompass your idea as well, that's feasible, but that's a different kind of request.
Step 3: Write a description of your spell's effects. Keep it brief. Big, complicated spells are less likely to be approved. The spell should have a specific function, but hopefully with some wiggle room for creative uses.
Step 4: Choose a Skill. Which Wizarding Skill is used to cast this spell? In rare cases, a second skill might be usable, but most spells have only one skill associated with them.
- Charms covers spells that create an independent effect, or alter what something physically does.
- Glamers covers spells that affect the mind.
- Transfiguration covers spells that alter what something is.
- Conjuration covers spells that create something from nothing.
- Dark Defense covers spells designed for combat, and for countering Dark forces.
- Ancient Runes covers wards and other rune-based spells.
Step 5: Decide on the learning difficulty of the spell. Can any wizard pick it up with ease? Or does it require a certain level of skill?
- Skill level 4-6 is for challenging spells that even a mediocre wizard could learn with some dedication.
- Skill level 7-9 is for highly difficult spells that only someone who is exceptional in that field of magic is likely to learn.
- Skill level 10-12 is for masters only. These are the most difficult spells in the world to learn.
Step 5: Decide on the casting difficulty of the spell, and apply an appropriate modifier. Many spells have no modifier. Especially easy ones might even have a small bonus (no more than +2). The more powerful the spell, the heavier a penalty it is likely to have. Few spells should have penalties heavier than -3, but some truly difficult spells have penalties up to -5 or more.
Step 6: Determine Training. How does one learns the spell. Is it part of normal Hogwarts curriculum? In which case, which class and during which year? Is it learned through professional training, such as Auror Training, or Healer training at St. Mungo's? Or is only through private study? Will it cost Brownies? How many?
Step 7: Decide on a Casting Time. How long does it take to cast? Most spells take a single round (meaning that they are instantaneous). Generally speaking, spells with longer-lasting effects (see Duration, below) will also have longer casting times.
Step 8: Determine Duration. How long do the effects last? Permanent spells are rare, but they do exist.
Step 9: Submit this information in a +request! Try to keep the information neat and tidy. Determining Keywords and the specific effects of Success Levels (if any) are best left up to staff. Also, expect that even if approved, at least some of your submission will be edited to fit the game's style and sense of balance.
If the spell is approved, the character may begin researching and attempting to create it IC. Note that you will still be required to pay half the spell's Brownie cost upon mastering it.
Step 2: Research and Formulation
Once a wizard knows what kind of effect he wants to create, he must try to figure out just how one would generate such an effect. The modern wizard has an advantage, having thousands of existing spells to use as reference, not to mention many volumes written on magical theory.
Notify staff that you are ready to roll for your spell formulation, and when you get the green light, roll Mind + Magical Theory. This roll can be attempted with Wizard Lore instead, but at a whopping -8 penalty. If the approved spell has a modifier to the casting roll, apply the same modifier to the formulation roll.
A Failure simple means hitting a dead end. With a week of research, you can try again. An Embarrassing Failure means something has gone terribly wrong. Treat this the same way you would an Embarrassing Failure at casting a spell. Furthermore, any Progress made (see below) is lost.
If successful, you've struck upon something! It will need refinement, but it's a first step. You gain one point of "Progress" for each success level achieved (e.g. a Great Success grants 3 Progress). This Progress will be tracked by staff on your original spell +request. This Progress will become important in Step 3.
Step 3: Development and Refinement
Once a wizard has had that "eureka" moment and realized he's onto something, he must further experiment and refine the spell into a form that can be reliably reproduced. This is a difficult and arduous task, but necessary to ensure the spell doesn't have unforeseen side-effects or flaws.
From this point forward, you can attempt to cast the spell, but with a "Development Penalty". This penalty starts at -30. However, you may add your Progress as a bonus, mitigating some of the penalty. Naturally, the roll will be impossible at first, guaranteeing failure if attempted (and the assumption is that there are many failures, even if off-screen).
More Progress can be earned in two ways: further research, or successful casting. Once per week, you may attempt another Magical Theory roll (as performed in Step 2), earning 1 Progress per success level. You can also try to actually cast the spell (and may do so as often as you like). If successfully cast, you gain 5 Progress. Note that this is one of the few times you are allowed to spend multiple Luck Points on a single roll, granting +5 per Luck spent. However, Luck Points spent on this roll can only mitigate the Development Penalty, and cannot provide an actual positive bonus.
Be sure that staff is aware when you make these rolls! Staff can see all rolls, but that doesn't mean they know what they're for (or that they are even at the computer at the time). Rolls made without supervision by staff or a witness they have designated will not reward Progress.
Step 4: Mastery
Once a spell has been fully refined, it has been mastered.
Upon the accumulation of 30 Progress, you have mastered the spell, and it will be added to your spell list for half of its normal Brownie cost. You are now the sole practitioner of the spell, and may teach it to others (who must pay the full Brownie cost).