I was playing with some basic spell mechanics. This is extremely rough still, but here are some thoughts. Spells will require a caster check to successfully cast. The caster check can be made more difficult by wearing armor, being rushed, moving, etc. Basically, to get your caster check as low as possible, you’d need to be: unarmored, staying still, concentrating only on the spell, and taking your time (full round cast may have a lower caster check than a standard action cast, for example). In addition, low “level” spells have an easy caster check, and high “level” spells have a higher caster check. I plan to use a different word for spell levels to prevent confusion with character levels. I’m thinking “Tier” but maybe there’s a more thematic term that I’m missing.
I’m aware I’m missing a number of things here, like actual area of effects, but these are just some stubs of ideas for now. One thing that I’m thinking of are “tags” in combat, and one mechanic that I’m playing with below is a mechanic that makes it beneficial to not just open up every combat with your biggest weapons, because some of the smaller weapons can act as good setups (in the cases below, the Fire tag).
I’ve also made them so they impact all creatures. Some schools may be able to target just enemies, but I see this one as a higher-damage tradeoff for that kind of precision.