I will start by saying I haven’t thought this through but it could be interesting.
There are two ideas that have come up this week and sort of clashed in my imagination. The first was about spell lists, spell failures and such inspired by Brian’s last article and the other was from Ken’s RMU setting thread. In that thread I said that a generic game should be able to be used with any fictional world/setting in its genre.
I have read a lot of fantasy fiction where the core idea of magic is that people either have it or not and magical instruction is more about control than learning spells.
The idea of learning spells and learning more powerful spells, to me, comes across as a very DnD thing.
So the idea I had was about turning spell lists, or just the first 20 levels upside down.
In my first thoughts I was only really thinking about magicians base lists and possibly a world in which magicians and clerics are about the only casters. So there is an implied setting here!
So I am think that the first level caster say with Earth Law as a list would only have Unearth, basically every time they try to cast a spell they vapourise a 100 cubic feet of earth.
It also takes a massive chunk of their power points, so this may be more suited to RMU than RMC if your first spell takes 20PP!
As a character levels up and gets more practiced with their list there spells get ever more controlled and subtle.
Fireballs would start with things like triad of fire but with a terrible OB and over time they would be able to control that to create a single fireball and eventually a single firebolt.
As I said, I have only thought about this as a twist for magicians, not sure it would work for illusionists or others but it was an interesting idea.