Functional Magic spells are classified into tiers according to their power.
An attribute of Functional Magic, where each known spell is assigned to a category roughly reflecting its power. Particularly popular in RPGs, where it is used in conjunction with a Character Level system to restrict the usage of powerful spells (as in, a level N mage can only use spells up to level M, etc.). A common component of Vancian Magic. May be subject to Rank Inflation.
Examples:Anime and Manga
- In Lyrical Nanoha, spells are ranked by power output: D is pretty much a parlor trick, S is a tactical nuke.
- The Justsu techniques in Naruto are ranked E to S.
- In Labyrinths of Echo, the Plain Magic spells are categorized into 234 levels (the highest tiers mostly include just one well-known spell). All levels above the 4th are considered a breach of the Ban on Magic and punishable by law--but then again, most people cannot go above the 20th. The world's greatest mage has once almost pulled off a 235 level spell.
- The Trope Codifier is probably Dungeons & Dragons, where both arcane (wizard) and divine (cleric) spells were split into nine and seven tiers, respectively, with characters of certain level getting only so many spells of certain levels to memorize.
- In 3rd Edition clerics, druids, sorcerers, and wizards had ten spell levels (0-9); bards had six, and paladins and rangers had four.
- 4th Edition did away with the concept, instead simply listing the minimum class level to gain a "power" in the description.
- In Rolemaster spells were arranged by level within spell lists. In order to cast a spell, a character's skill rank for that spell's spell list had to be greater than or equal to the spell's level.
- Exalted has sorcery and necromancy spells divided into three levels each. Generally, the higher the spell's level (or circle), the more time it takes to cast it and the more motes and willpower it requires, as well as the more powerful the spell is. The main exceptions are the countermagic and banishment spells, which are quick and relatively inexpensive for their circle.
- In the Mother series, the tiers for PSI powers are given by the Greek letters alpha, beta, gamma, and omega.
- Some Final Fantasy games have tiers of spells that even have their own set of spell uses. It's a staple to have some more advanced spells under the naming format "[spell]", "[spell]a", "[spell]aga", and "[spell]aja", though the English translations only began to use it since Final Fantasy VIII (before, spells were simply named "[spell] 1", "[spell] 2", etc. due to limited characters).
- Grandia games have three tiers of magic, each with their own sets of magic points.
- In the Disgaea series, elemental spells and the heal spell have the more advanced levels given prefixes: "mega", "giga", "omega", "tera", and so on.
- The World Ends with You makes no distinction between physical and magical attacks with its "Pin" system, but each pin has an assigned "rank" which places some limits on how many can be equipped simultaneously. Namely, you can't equip more than one of the same A-rank pin (or more than one of any star-rank pin) at the same time.
- The Elements system Chrono Cross assigns each element a level from 1 to 8 indicating what area of a character's element grid they can occupy. Most elements also have a 'margin' that allows them to be equipped higher or lower than the intended level (with matching effect on its actual power).
- The Fire Emblem series does this with both spells and weapons, by dividing them up into Weapon Levels dictating when a character is skilled to use stronger weapons. Ranks E-S or in some games E-SS. The typical progression for weapons is Iron, Steel, Silver. Magic was further standardized in Radiant Dawn giving basic magic, 'El' magic, 'Arc' magic, a named long range attack, named high level, and then 'Rex' for the ultimate (e.g. Wind, Elwind, Arcwind, Blizzard, Tornado, Rexcalibur).
- Glory of Heracles has three levels of spells in each set. For instance, the single heal spell is Pow, Powra and Powtes. For offensive spells, the effects changes the higher the level: the level I spell (the base) targets a single enemy, the level II spell targets a row of enemy, and the level III spell targets all enemies. Each spell also has three upgradable levels based on a minigame event in the touch screen, but that is extra and not really relevent to this trope.
- While the system varies from game to game, Shin Megami Tensei and particularly the Persona series have four main elements - agi for fire, bufu for ice, zio for lightning, and zan for wind - that get more powerful with prefixes or suffixes: e.g. maragi hits all enemies with fire, zionga is a stronger lightning attack, diarama heals all allies instead of just one.
- The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion had all spells divided into five difficulty levels (Novice, Apprentice, Journeyman, Expert, and Master), and you could only learn higher-level spells after raising your skill in the corresponding magical school to a certain level.
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