Zangband Magic System

=== Zangband Magic System ===

In the official releases of Angband there are only two types magic
spells: Magic spells and priestly prayers. If the character is a mage,
ranger or a rogue (s)he can learn magic spells; if (s)he is a priest or
a paladin, (s)he can learn prayers. All mages can learn the same spells
and all priests can learn the same spells.

Zangband uses a more complex "realms of magic" system inspired by the
commercial fantasy strategy game Master of Magic (Microprose), which in
turn has supposedly borrowed it from the card game Magic the Gathering
(by Wizards of the Coast). The magic system, as implemented in
Zangband, consists of seven realms: Life, Arcane, Sorcery, Nature,
Trump, Chaos and Death.

While any given realm of magic typically includes spells of a certain
type or theme, each realm should have enough high-level spells to
remain effective throughout the later stages of the game. The main
difference lies in how they support your playing strategy. For example,
some offer attacking spells which let you directly hurt your enemy,
while others offer spells for protection, healing and gathering

In general, Life is defensive although it offers some good attacking
spells against evil monsters, Arcane offers utility spells with limited
offensive capability, Sorcery offers utility spells and some defensive
capability, Nature specializes in the elements and offers both
defensive and offensive spells, Trump specializes in teleportation and
summoning spells and Chaos and Death are offensive.

In Zangband, spellcasting classes can select either one or two realms
from those available. Note that certain realms may be prohibited for
some classes. Since a character can have (at most) two realms of magic,
and the old spells have been split between the existing realms, on the
first glance it may seem that this system makes spell-users less
powerful. However, the opposite holds true. While a given realm of
magic typically includes spells of a certain type, new ultra powerful
rare high-level spells have been added to many realms.

Any spell realm should have enough high-level spells even for the later
stages of the game. The main difference lies in how they support your
playing strategy: some offer "weapon" spells which let you directly
hurt your enemy, while others offer spells for protection, healing and
gathering information.

In standard Angband, there were 9 spellbooks for all spellcasters. In
Zangband, there are 4 spellbooks per realm. Two of them can be bought
in the town stores and the remaining two must be found in the dungeon
(although they may occasionally appear in the Black Market). The
exception to this rule is the Arcane realm since all Arcane spellbooks
can be found in the magic shop or book store. Just as one might expect,
Arcane magic lacks the really powerful high level spells.

A character with two realms of magic will thus need to carry a maximum
of 8 spellbooks while a character with only one realm of magic will
only need to carry a maximum of 4 spellbooks. All realms have 32
spells, and each book contains 8 spells.

=== Class Spell Ability ===

     Warriors cast no spells. They hate magic. In fact, they even gain
     experience for destroying high level spellbooks.

     Mages have the least restrictions in choosing and learning spells.
     They can freely choose any two realms when a character is created:
     in the current version, all seven realms are available to them,
     although their natural inclination makes Life magic fairly hard
     for them. Otherwise, a mage tends to learn and cast all the spells
     in his / her realms better than any other character. The ability
     to select both realms of magic (which no other character class can
     do) allows the best support for experimenting and combining
     different realms, and, thus, for different playing strategies as

     There are two types of priests in Zangband: the 'ordinary' priests
     who, select Life magic as their primary realm, and the 'dark'
     priests, who select Death magic instead of Life magic. No priest
     can have both realms (unless (s)he was created in Zangband 2.0.0
     or 2.0.1). Priests can also select a secondary realm from the
     other five realms, and should be able to learn all spells in it as
     well, even if not as efficiently as mages. However, when learning
     spells, priests cannot voluntarily decide which spells to study:
     they are rewarded with new prayers by their patron deities, with
     no money-back satisfaction guarantee. It should also be noted that
     since the natural inclination of a priest is towards Life magic,
     priests who select Life magic will be able to learn their prayers
     faster and better than their evil colleagues with Death magic.

     There are several subtypes of Rogues in Zangband: the exact 'type'
     is determined by the realm of magic chosen by the Rogue. The
     common Thief, agent of the underworld, will probably be content
     with Arcane magic and its wide applicability. The Burglar, on the
     other hand, is more interested in the Sorcery spells, which allow
     him or her to do the job fast and efficiently. The Assassins'
     partiality for Death magic is well known, and they are feared for
     it. Finally, there is the Card Shark, who will opt for Trump
     magic, and shuffles the decks with amazing proficiency. All Rogues
     have certain limitations on which spells they can learn, and they
     are not too fast to learn new spells.

     All rangers are trained in Nature magic, and all Nature spells are
     available to them. They even learn these spells almost as fast as
     mages. They can also select a secondary realm (from Sorcery,
     Arcane, Trump, Nature, Chaos and Death), but they are slow
     learners in them, and may find themselves unable to learn some of
     the highest level spells.

     Paladins are trained in Life magic (only), and they despise the
     other realms of magic (which they regard as the Devil's work).
     Like priests, they cannot select which prayers to learn but are
     rewarded with new prayers by their deities. They can learn all
     Life spells, but not as fast as priests. Death Knights study Death
     magic instead of Life magic, but in other respects they are
     similar to normal paladins. Death Knights can learn all Death
     spells. The endless enmity between these two subtypes is most
     evident in their attitudes to other realms of magic: an 'ordinary'
     detests the other realms of magic (than Life) so strongly that he
     or she will even gain experience for destroying their high-level
     spellbooks. A Death Knight, on the other hand, is very tolerant of
     the other realms -- to annoy Paladins, perhaps, if for no other
     reason. A Death Knight will, however, be very offended by the
     sight of Life spellbook, and will do anything to destroy it; and
     this will even give him or her experience, if the Life spellbook
     in question is a high-level one.

     Warrior-mages begin the game with Arcane magic, and they can
     freely select another realm of magic. Although they do not gain
     new spells as fast as regular mages, they will eventually learn
     every spell in both realms, thus making a very competitive choice
     for players who appreciate Arcane magic.

Chaos Warriors
     Chaos Warriors are, as one might expect, trained in Chaos magic.
     They are not interested in any other form of magic. They can learn
     every Chaos spell.

     The different sects of monks are devoted to different areas of
     magic. The typical monk is interested in the harmony of the
     nature, and studies Nature magic. An idealist monk would select
     Life magic, and try work to benefit his neighbor. But there also
     are dark monks, who specialize in Death magic. A monk can thus
     select any one of these three Realms. They will eventually learn
     all prayers in the discipline of their choice.

     Although the powers of a Mindcrafter may seem like magic, this is
     not -- strictly speaking -- the case. They are mental powers,
     independent of the ordinary sources of magic. Consequently,
     Mindcrafters are not interested in 'magic' and learn no spells.

High Mage
     High mages are mages who specialize in one particular field of
     magic and learn it very well -- much better than the ordinary
     mage. For the price of giving up a second realm of magic, they
     gain substantial benefits in the mana costs, minimum levels, and
     failure rates in the spells of the realm of their specialty.

=== The Realms of Magic ===

     Life is magic is 'good' magic; it relies mostly on healing and
     protective spells. It does have a few attack spells as well, but
     these are mostly used for harming and banishing foul minions of
     evil. It is rumored that there is a secret high level prayer which
     will make the priest (or paladin) completely impervious to all
     forms of hostile action.

     Sorcery is a `meta` realm, including enchantment and general
     spells. It provides superb protection spells (such as Teleport
     spells for fleeing and even Globe of Invulnerability), spells to
     enhance your odds in combat (Slow Monster, Haste Self, Confuse
     Monster) and, most importantly, a vast selection of spells for
     gathering information: in addition to the usual detection and
     identify spells, one of the standard spellbooks has a spell called
     Identify True, which gives you full knowledge of a given object!
     In the rare books, there are spells with which you can enchant
     your items or turn unwanted items to gold. However, Sorcery has
     one weakness: it has no spells to deal direct damage to your

     Even more than Sorcery, Arcane magic is a general purpose realm of
     magic. It attempts to encompass all 'useful' spells from all 
     realms, and almost succeeds, with the probable exception of
     *Identify*. This is the downside of Arcane magic: while Arcane 
     does have all the necessary 'tool' spells for a dungeon delver, it
     has no ultra-powerful high level spells. As a consequence, all
     Arcane spellbooks can be bought in town. It should also be noted
     that the 'specialized' realms (i.e. other than Arcane) usually
     offer the same spell at a lower level and cost. Arcane magic is
     therefore perhaps not recommendable as one's only realm of magic,
     but it should be a very nice addition to fill up the gaps in the
     selection of tools spells in another realm.

     Trump magic seems an independent source of power, although its
     supposed association with Chaos magic has been mentioned in
     several places. Although it lacks the unpredictable chaotic
     side-effects of Chaos magic, it has a few spells whose exact
     effects seem more or less random. One such spell is Shuffle: the
     Trump spellbooks actually consist of decks of trumps, and the
     Shuffle spell allows the caster to shuffle the deck and pick one
     card at random. The effect depends on the card picked, and is not
     always pleasant. In the Amber universe, the Trump gateways are
     also a major method of transportation: Trump magic has, indeed, an
     admirable selection of teleportation spells. Since the Trump
     gateways can also be used to summon other creatures, Trump magic
     has an equally impressive selection of summoning spells. However,
     not all monsters appreciate being drawn to another place by Trump
     user. The only summoned creatures whose loyalty is guaranteed are
     the Phantasmal Servants, who lack a will of their own (but can
     develop one, if you treat them badly).

     Early levels may be rather difficult for a spellcaster relying on
     Nature magic, as the early spells offer only limited protection,
     detection and curing capabilities. However, at higher levels there
     are very useful offensive spells available, especially should the
     spellcaster be lucky enough to find an extremely rare spellbook
     called "Nature's Wrath". Nature also has a spell of Herbal
     Healing, which is the only powerful healing spell outside the
     realm of Life magic.

     There are few types of magic more unpredictable and difficult to
     control than Chaos magic. Chaos is the very element of unmaking,
     and the Chaos spells are the most terrible weapons of destruction
     imaginable. From Magic Missile and Acid Bolt to the medium level
     Fire Ball and Doom Bolt, and finally to the awesome spells of
     Invoke Logrus, Mana Storm and Call the Void, Chaos offers an
     unsurpassable arsenal of attack spells. The caster can also call
     on the primal forces of Chaos to induce mutations in his/her
     opponents and even him/herself, but otherwise, Chaos has no
     protective spells. Beware, though, Chaos spells are known to
     backfire easily and product undesired effects. This is especially
     true in the version 2.1.0 of Zangband and later, where the forces
     of Chaos can easily twist the hapless individual foolish enough to
     invoke them, turning them horrendous spawns of Chaos.

     There is no fouler nor more evil category of spells than the
     necromantic spells of Death Magic. These spells are relatively
     hard to learn, but at higher levels the spells give the caster
     power over living and the (un)dead. Poison, vampirism, death
     spells and even hellfire can be directed by the caster, but the
     most powerful spells need his / her own blood as the focus, often
     hurting the caster in the process of casting. Should a Death
     wizard find the legendary tome Necronomicon, he can expect to gain
     very great powers indeed, but at a cost: few that have studied the
     accursed tome have retained their sanity.

=== On Casting Spells ... ===

Players who select spellcasting characters may notice a few unusual
phenomena during the course of the game. Here's a few helps and
hints on what may be happening.

--- Armor and Spell Casting ---

All spellcasting classes are penalized for wielding armor above a
certain total combined weight. The threshold varies between 30lbs
for a mage and 40lbs for a paladin. Typically, the more reliant on
spells/prayers your class is deemed to be, the lower your weight
allowance. If you exceed your weight limit, your mana will drop.
This penalty is fairly stiff for low level characters but can
generally be ignored by high level ones.

--- Mage-Types and Gloves ---

Spellcasters who use INT as the stat determining their spellcasting
ability will be penalized heavily for wielding armor on their
hands. The exception to this is that wielding gloves, gauntlets or
cesti which boost DEX or which grant Free Action will result in no
penalty. The rationale behind this is that the hands are needed to
perform intricate gestures that accompany the casting of the spell
and anything encumbering the hands would interfere with this. The
priest-type classes (priest, paladin and monk) do not have the same
restrictions as they are viewed as invoking the power of their
deity directly through prayer.

--- Casting Spells With Insufficient Mana ---

Occasionally, you may try (either by accident or in desperation) to
cast a spell when you have insufficient mana to do so. In these
circumstances you will be told by the game that you do not have
enough mana to cast the spell and then asked if you want to anyway.
Casting the spell under these conditions has a drastically reduced
chance of success and may also result in your constitution being
damaged. It may also cause you to faint from the effort which will
effectively paralyze you for several turns (even with free action).
The CON drain and the paralyzation may happen regardless of whether
the casting was successful or not.

--- Spell Durations ---

Some spells such as Haste-Self or Resistance grant an effect which
wears off after a certain period of time. With very few exceptions,
multiple castings of such spells are not cumulative in terms of the
duration of the spell. In other words, casting a spell which has a
duration of 20 turns three times will not result in a duration of
60 turns. Typically, the subsequent castings will add only a small
amount to the total duration.

=== Spell Types ===

--- Bolts and Beams ---

A bolt spell is aimed in a direction or at a target but will hit
the first monster or obstruction in its targeted direction. This
may or may not be the intended target. Occasionally, you may note
that your bolt spell hits multiple targets along the line of fire.
This is because some bolt spells are granted a chance of 'beaming'
which may be either fixed or level-dependent. A beam will hit every
target within range along a 'straight' line in the direction in
which it was aimed.

--- Balls ---

There are two things to remember about ball spells. Firstly, unlike
bolt spells, they can be aimed at a specific target which allows
you to target a specific monster as opposed to the first one in the
direction you are aiming. Secondly, they have a radius (which
varies from spell to spell). A radius value of one or more will
result in the spell affecting monsters (and possibly objects, etc)
around the target in addition to the target itself.

--- Line-of-Sight ---

Line-of-sight spells affect all monsters that that are currently
in sight of your character. This includes monsters that may not
currently be visible due to darkness but would be if it was light.

--- Area ---

Area spells affect an area around the player. The size of the area
can vary considerably. For example, Light Area lights a single room
while Detect Traps affects a map panel and Genocide the entire

=== Hints and Tips ===

If you miss the `old` magic user, try picking Sorcery and Chaos magic
to get the most commonly used mage spells early on (Magic Missile,
Detect Monsters + Traps + etc, Identify).

It is generally a good idea to pick one defensive realm and one 
offensive realm. For example try using life or sorcery with chaos or
death magic. Nature is somewhat neutral: it has both offensive and
defensive spells, but is not very generous with either, not at least
early in the game. Nature should work best with characters who can use
other means to survive until they get the more powerful high level

If you pick the realms always in the same order (e.g. nature as your
first realm and chaos as your second realm, not the other way around)
you will be less confused when trying to pick the correct spellbook to
use in the game. If you still get confused trying to select the correct
spellbook, try using macros (either the 'full' macros or inscriptions).

=== Spell Lists ===

LIFE: Standard Spellbooks

Book of Common Prayer
     1. Detect Evil
     2. Cure Light Wounds
     3. Bless
     4. Remove Fear
     5. Call Light
     6. Detect Traps and Secret Doors
     7. Cure Medium Wounds
     8. Satisfy Hunger

High Mass
     1. Remove Curse
     2. Cure Poison
     3. Cure Critical Wounds
     4. Sense Unseen
     5. Holy Orb
     6. Protection from Evil
     7. Healing
     8. Glyph of Warding

LIFE: Rare Spellbooks

Book of the Unicorn
     This book has powerful prayers to ward off, banish and destroy the
     forces of evil.

Blessings of the Grail
     This book has the most powerful prayers of protection and healing,
     as well as prayers of holy visions.

SORCERY: Standard Spellbooks

Beginner's Handbook
     1. Detect Monsters
     2. Phase Door
     3. Detect Doors and Traps
     4. Light Area
     5. Confuse Monster
     6. Teleport
     7. Sleep Monster
     8. Recharging

Master Sorcerer's Handbook
     1. Magic Mapping
     2. Identify
     3. Slow Monster
     4. Mass Sleep
     5. Teleport Away
     6. Haste Self
     7. Detection True
     8. Identify True

SORCERY: Rare Spellbooks

Pattern Sorcery
     More powerful spells of detection, information and transportation.

Grimoire of Power
     More powerful enchantments against monsters, spells to enchant
     items, and the Globe of Invulnerability.

ARCANE: All Spellbooks

Cantrips for Beginners
     1. Zap
     2. Wizard Lock
     3. Detect Invisibility
     4. Detect Monsters
     5. Blink
     6. Light Area
     7. Trap & Door Destruction
     8. Cure Light Wounds

Minor Arcana
     1. Detect Doors & Traps
     2. Phlogiston
     3. Detect Treasure
     4. Detect Enchantment
     5. Detect Objects
     6. Cure Poison
     7. Resist Cold
     8. Resist Fire

Major Arcana
     1. Resist Lightning
     2. Resist Acid
     3. Cure Medium Wounds
     4. Teleport
     5. Stone to Mud
     6. Ray of Light
     7. Satisfy Hunger
     8. See Invisible

Manual of Mastery
     1. Recharging
     2. Teleport Level
     3. Identify
     4. Teleport Away
     5. Elemental Ball
     6. Detection
     7. Word of Recall
     8. Clairvoyance

TRUMP: Standard Spellbooks

Conjurings & Tricks
     1. Phase Door
     2. Mind Blast
     3. Shuffle
     4. Reset Recall
     5. Teleport
     6. Dimension Door
     7. Trump Spying
     8. Teleport Away

Deck of Many Things
     1. Trump Reach
     2. Trump Animal
     3. Phantasmal Servant
     4. Trump Monster
     5. Conjure Elemental
     6. Teleport Level
     7. Word of Recall
     8. Banish

TRUMP: Rare Spellbooks

Trumps of Doom
     This tome tells you the secrets of the Living Trump treatment, as
     well how to deal the Joker card and how to deal death. It also has
     rather powerful summoning Trumps which may yet prove your own

Five Aces
     A superb collection of the most classic summoning Trumps ever

NATURE: Standard Spellbooks

Call of the Wild
     1. Detect Creatures
     2. First Aid
     3. Detect Doors and Traps
     4. Foraging
     5. Daylight
     6. Animal Taming
     7. Resist Environment
     8. Cure Wounds & Poison

Nature Mastery
     1. Stone to Mud
     2. Lightning Bolt
     3. Nature Awareness
     4. Frost Bolt
     5. Ray of Sunlight
     6. Entangle
     7. Summon Animal
     8. Herbal Healing

NATURE: Rare Spellbooks

Nature's Gifts
     Nature's Gifts for protection against the forces of nature and

Nature's Wrath
     Nature's destructive force harnessed for your use against your

CHAOS: Standard Spellbooks

Sign of Chaos
     1. Magic Missile
     2. Trap / Door Destruction
     3. Flash of Light
     4. Touch of Confusion
     5. Mana Burst
     6. Fire Bolt
     7. Fist of Force
     8. Teleport Self

Chaos Mastery
     1. Wonder
     2. Chaos Bolt
     3. Sonic Boom
     4. Doom Bolt
     5. Fire Ball
     6. Teleport Other
     7. Word of Destruction
     8. Invoke Logrus

CHAOS: Rare Spellbooks

Chaos Channels
     Unusual spells that allow you to call on the forces of chaos to
     induce changes in your possessions, in your enemies and in

Armageddon Tome
     The rarest of all spellbooks, filled with the most devastating

DEATH: Standard Spellbooks

Black Prayers
     1. Detect Unlife
     2. Malediction
     3. Detect Evil
     4. Stinking Cloud
     5. Black Sleep
     6. Resist Poison
     7. Horrify
     8. Enslave Undead

Black Mass
     1. Orb of Entropy
     2. Nether Bolt
     3. Terror
     4. Vampiric Drain
     5. Poison Branding
     6. Dispel Good
     7. Genocide
     8. Restore Life

DEATH: Rare Spellbooks

Black Channels
     Spells that turn you into a bloodthirsty killing machine, and
     which enable you to call upon the nether forces of darkness to
     wreak havoc upon your foes.

     The legendary tome of unholy visions, death and destruction.

Original   : (??)
Updated    : (??)
Updated    : Zangband DevTeam
Last update: May 16, 2000

Latest News
  • August 1st, 2004
    Zangband 2.7.4c has been released! See the changes list for details.
  • December 7th, 2003
    Zangband 2.7.4b has been released! See the changes list for details.

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