Worldbuilding Wednesday 12/6/23: Magic Spells of Ancient Greece

Spell tablets made of slate

Curse tablets were a cottage industry in ancient Greece. Spells embodying the caster’s desires were written on plaques of stone, clay, papyrus, wax, even thin sheets of gold. Then, to reach the gods, they were thrown into wells or buried with the dead (often without permission from the dead one’s next of kin.) It’s likely they may have been burnt, too, or even eaten. The Greeks were a pragmatic folk, so most of these were along the lines of cursing a rival in love or taking revenge on some business.

Some of the magicians who created these things mass produced them beforehand, leaving a blank space to fill in the caster’s name. For a gaming campaign, tablets are a somewhat clunky way to cast spells, so I’d feel free to ignore it.

The list of spells below was inspired by life in Greek cities like Athens and Thebes. Being as myth and the gods played such big roles in cultural life, I believe many spells would be named after them or inspired by them.


Magical Spells of Ancient Greece

Accursed Scholar: Inflicts the victim with a splitting migraine headache so they can’t study or do research.

Balm of Odysseus: Spell that soothes the recipient’s homesickness.

Broaden Shield-Wall Formation: A spell used on the battlefield. It’s cast on a group of hoplites to make them spread out while holding their shields in front of them. The opposite of it is Tighten Shield-Wall Formation.

Chisel Memory: When cast on a chisel, it will carve out the last picture or inscription made with it.

Delusion of Sappho: This spell, only cast on females, makes them think they have become a lesbian. If they already are, it has no effect.

Fiery Pyxis: Creates a mariner’s compass out of fire that will let a sailor of any skill level navigate across the sea.

Form Restoration: Restores the original form of any being turned into an animal or plant, or turned into an inanimate substance (like stone.) This powerful spell is one all Greek mages eventually learn, given how common shapechanging is in Greek myth.

Journey of Eros: A clerical spell that is read aloud to a couple being married and long enough to be prayer. It tells of love between two people and how that love should be maintained. At the end, the newly married receive a +1 in Wisdom that lasts for their honeymoon period.

Necropolis Messenger: Summons a shade from its tomb to deliver a simple message to another. Distance is no matter to the shade as it travels extradimensionally through the Underworld.

Oration Fasting: The finest Greek orators refrain from eating before their speeches because it improves their mental clarity and stamina. This spell enables them to do so without feeling hungry or deprived.

Orchard of Helios: When cast on a group of apple trees, this spell gives the illusion that the fruits are all made of gold.

Peace of Hypnos: Makes the recipient fall into a deep sleep. When they awake they are completely refreshed.

Persistent Lentils: When cast on a pot or bowl a cooked meal of lentils is sitting in, this spell continuously replenishes them for up to eight hours. In theory a whole army can fed from one pot.

Restore Greaves: Cleans, polishes, and refreshes any pair of greaves damaged in battle.

Voice of Poseidon: Amplifies the caster’s voice to sound as loud and booming as the sea god’s.

Wise Muse: Summons a calm, intelligent companion who will act as an inspiration to an artist, musician, or writer. The companion is always of the artist’s preferred gender.


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