Remember 1984's Conan the Destroyer? Aside from the cute blonde (hey, I was 18, give me a break...) and Grace Jones, the one thing that really stood out in my head was Akiro the mage getting into a spell battle with the evil priest. That sequence always fascinated me because it implied that mages just didn't cast spells at targets, they also could direct and bend their energies, perhaps enough to overcome another's spells.
At the time, I had always wondered how I could do these sorts of things in the games I played, but I didn't put enough thought into it. I'm not familiar enough with 3.xE or 4E (or even all the variants of 2E and 1E) to know if the ability to counter an enemy's spells is given in the rules, but I was overjoyed when my reading of Chainmail revealed that Counterspells is a well described tactic in the rules for Wizards. I just couldn't figure out how to make it work for D&D.
A thread on the Original D&D forum about Chainmail spell complexity and counterspelling has led to one gentleman, dubeers, to post his proposed house rule for Counterspells for OD&D - huzzah!
It's a fantastic variant that allows a mage to "do battle" against another magic user. Now, instead of your first through third level MUs being paper thin "one shot" participants, they can match wits against opposing mages in countering spells.
If your trusty mage faces off against the vile goblin shaman, and said shaman begins to weave his spell of Sleep against your party, the mage can declare a counterspell. A duel begins where the counterspell rolls against a value based on the level difference between mages.
If the counterspell is successful, the spell is disrupted and the original caster loses the spell from memory. In addition, to spice it up, both make a saving throw. The counterspelling mage may also lose a spell from memory in the attempt, as well as the original caster may suffer additional effects, such as confusion, unconsciousness or even HP loss! Such is the way of the fickle power of Magick that we deal with!
I really like this, because it gives the mage something to do other than just be the magical equivalent of a bow and arrows. Now there can be duels, spells and counterspells crackling in the air and battles akin to what we've always dreamed of.
I know this is going to be added and playtested in my 1E/OSRIC game. I'll put it in my wife's solo game, but since the mage is an NPC, and I don't like "outshining" the players, I will probably not use it.