Below is a roughdraft of a sample spell for the sake of discussion. I'm putting together a set of a dozen or so for some play-testing. The mechanics are streamlined right out of OD&D, but not in the usual trajectory, and I am editing the document that goes into the over-all details. Whether it's spells or swords, guns, knives or psychic attacks; violence in Riskail, of any sort, is quick, nasty and often scary. And the process for recovering lost points, repairing/healing damage, and restoring attributes damaged in conflict -- and all the items, elixirs and spells that augment those processes -- is a hyper-critical component to the overall system, but it can wait until after we work out the attack/defense mechanics first.
Spew Hallucinatory Figures
Range: Line of Sight (both for caster and victim)
Duration: 1D6 rounds
Dispelled/Countered: Only by pre-cast, veiled or hung spells, item effects, or outside intervention.
Description of Spell's Effect
The victim is knocked prone onto their hands and knees and wracked with an intensely awful fit of heaving, hacking, coughing and vomiting forth of shadowy, vague figures that are partially ectoplasmic, semi-phantasmal, quasi-substantial and truly outrageous and bizarre in their theriomorphic, ichthyphallic and mythologically perverse outlines and characters. The hallucinatory figures fill the area immediately surrounding their victim, looming menacingly over them and obscuring them from view much like a highly agitated cloud or swarm of insects. As the figures gather around their unfortunate victim, the caster determines the specific nature of the overall effect(s) as detailed below.
1. If the the caster decides to have the hallucinatory figures intimidate, threaten or incapacitate the victim only, that makes the spell effect an abstract attack and the caster chooses which non-physical attribute to challenge (INT, WIS, CHAR, etc.) in order to gain the desired effect. The abstract attack will do 1 die of damage per level of caster. For example, Marquade the Foul chooses to inflict a stupefying attack on Delindro, so he elects to make his spell attack a challenge to Delindro's Intelligence attribute. Marquade's player then decides whether they want to roll the 3D6 and add any bonuses they might have coming to them (such as from a special item), or if they want Delindro's player to roll for their defense which does allow Delindro's use of any bonus that they might have in effect, but is a good strategy if it is known that Delindro has a weker attribute than his attacker. In this case Marquade's player chooses to have Delindro roll the 3D6 against his Intelligence for his attempted defense against that attribute. Deciding who gets to roll adds a little bit of strategy to the mix, without getting too complicated, and makes divination and similar skills and spells more useful to a would-be spell-duellist.
It is 3D6 because Marquade gets to add 1D6 to his challenges for each level he has earned as a spell-caster. Level = Number of D6 used in attacking/defending. The only bonus for a high attribute score is the higher attribute score itself, because that's all you really need in order to make your character's attacks easier and defenses tougher, though there are spells, rituals, items and he like that can add bonuses or incur penalties for these sorts of things, but that's icing on the cake and can be gone into once the basics are understood.
Should Delindro succeed on his defense against the attack, he only takes the default in this case 3D6) physical damage, but only if it manages to exceed 10 points as per normal (see note below on Damage Threshold). If Delindro fails in his defense, the spell's attack inflicts an additional point of Intelligence damage per level of the spell. (The spell's level being equal to the level of expertise of the caster, Marquade is third level, so the spell is cast as a third level spell and thus, if he succeeded in his roll it would inflict three points of INT damage in addition to the default of 3D6 base physical damage for that level.)
2. Command the hallucinatory figures to inflict violence upon the victim thus making this spell a physical attack for which the caster chooses a physical attribute to challenge (STR, DEX, CON, etc.) in order to weaken, immobilize, or incapicitate the victim. The physical attack will do a default of 1 die of damage per level of caster, plus the added bonus (if any) from the chosen attribute. As in the example above, the caster would designate which physical attribute is being targeted, let's say Strength this time, and the victim would then roll for their defense using that attribute (STR) to determine their success, rolling as many D6 against their attribute (STR) as the caster has levels (in this case 3), adding/subtracting any bonuses/penalties as his own attribute score allows. If the victim succeeds in their defense, they only take the default damage (1D6/level of caster) if it meets or exceeds the threshold of 10 or more points, as per normal. If they fail, they take an additional point of Strength damage per level of the caster, in this case 3.
In Riskail, any attack (or combination of attacks) that amounts to less that 10 points of damage in any given round is shrugged off, dodged, avoided or otherwise ignored. Thus the function of hit points is retained without having to have another arbitrary number to keep track of. Everything that was represented by hit points is fully represented by the various Attributes, the Damge Threshold, and certain items or spell effects.