oooohhh, was that alliteration?
This was my mechanic for magic I posted earlier.
The mechanic to replace memorization we will call Channeling for the moment. It is a pool of points derived from the casters’ constitution and level. You start with a channeling equal to your characters constitution plus1d10 per level. From a character stand point it represents how much you can channel as opposed to storage of points (in the external source versus internal source debate I view internal as belonging to the realm of psionics which is a whole ‘nother kettle ‘o’ monkey brains). You can further more cast any spell regardless of level as long as you have enough Channeling to do so.
Something about it bothered me and I think it needed more.
Channeling-Working with the alien and esoteric forces of magic is an exacting process. Your Channeling would start at a level equal to your Constitution, plus 1 per level. You can channel more by feeding it constitution points on a 1 to 1 ratio. Each time you choose to do so you must roll under your characters current Constitution score. failure indicates you pass out.
The toll exacted is equal to the level of the spell. Thus a sixth level spell would cost you six channeling points, a first level one would cost you one, Etc.
You can learn any spell regardless of your level. To get a new spell you must either find an ancient scroll, grimoire, or teacher. Alternately you can bargain with ancient powers for your knowledge. These beings will always demand some sort of sacrifice on the part of the caster, the type of sacrifice should be dependent on what type of magic is sought. Even when these methods are followed there is no guarantee that your feeble human mind will be able to comprehend the ritual. Roll over your spellcraft skill +1 for every level over yours the spell is. IE, if you are level two and you want to learn a fourth level spell it would be spellcraft +2.
You can cast any spell regardless of your level. To cast a spell you have to make a spellcraft check. you again add +1 for every level over yours the spell is. If it works great! If you fail then nothing happens but the channeling points are still lost. If you fumble then you not only lose the channeling points but you must make an immediate roll under your current constitution to remain conscious and something goes horribly, horribly wrong.
You rolled a one…. What happens next is entirely up to the game master and your circumstances. Take into account where the spell was gleaned from, was it from some other reality? If so maybe a small portal opens up allowing something to slither through. Was it a ninth level spell? maybe a small army of somethings come through or one REALLY BIG something crosses into our world. Also it is always fun to consider where the player is when they blow it. Is she standing in an ancient cemetery? A forgotten temple? A simple Hold Undead spell becomes a whole new story arc if it is miscast in a mausoleum. If you are stuck for a cool idea you could always just reverse the spells effects or apply them to the caster or her companions….but thats not that interesting, or is it?
Remember to make it interesting, use the bad roll to add to the ongoing story if possible.