Monday, 25 May 2015

Spell Acquisition for Campaigns with Specialist Wizards

I've been doing a bit more work on The Complete Elementalist, and have been putting some thought into how specialist wizards can coexist in campaigns alongside each other. Here's an extract, with some thoughts on how to handle spell acquisition and treasure placement in campaigns with multiple types of specialist wizard, each with distinct spell lists.

Spell Acquisition
This section contains optional guidelines for Labyrinth Lords on the subject of how elementalists (and, by extension, other wizardly characters) may gain access to and learn new spells.

Basic Games
For games in the vein of the traditional Basic rules, the following guidelines may be used:
* Elementalists begin the game knowing read magic, one randomly selected spell, and one spell of the player's choice.
* The number of spells an elementalist can know (i.e. record in his spell book) is limited to no more than double the number that he can memorize. For example, a 5th level elementalist can memorize two 1st level, two 2nd level, and one 3rd level spell. Such a character could have at most four 1st level, four 2nd level, and two 3rd level spells in his spell book.
* Upon gaining an experience level, if the elementalist does not already have spells available to learn (e.g. from scrolls or captured spell books), he automatically acquires knowledge of one new spell, selected randomly from a level of the player's choosing.

Design Note: In the original Basic rules, magic-users and elves were limited to knowing one single spell at 1st level – not even read magic was “free”! – and could never record more spells in their spell books than the number they could memorize each day. Personally, while I find this system charming in its simplicity, I feel it is too restrictive and use the system described above in my own games. Other groups may, however, prefer to stick with the original rules.

Advanced Games
Advanced era games are more generous with the number of spells known and may use the following guidelines:
* Elementalists begin the game knowing read magic, two randomly selected spells, and two spells of the player's choice.
* The number of spells an elementalist can know (i.e. record in his spell book) is limited by the character's INT (see the AEC).
* Upon gaining an experience level, if the elementalist does not already have spells available to learn (e.g. from scrolls or captured spell books), he automatically acquires knowledge of one new spell, selected randomly from a level of the player's choosing. This spell must be learnt according to the normal rules for spell learning, again dependent on the character's INT.

Placing Spells in Treasure Hoards
The basic Labyrinth Lord rules describe a single type of arcane magic, usable by magic-users and elves. The Advanced Edition Companion and other books, such as this, add further, more specialised wizardly classes: illusionists and elementalists. These new classes acquire new spells in the same means as the standard magic-user: by finding spell scrolls in treasure hoards. When it is determined that a treasure hoard contains scrolls of magic-user spells, it is thus desirable that spells usable by specialist wizards also be (at least some of the time) present.

One approach is to multiply the number of spells present in the hoard (as indicated by the treasure tables) by the total number of wizardly classes in the campaign, then to give each spell an equal (random) chance of being taken from the list of each class. For example, in a campaign with magic-users, elementalists, and illusionists, the number of spells found in a hoard would be multiplied by three and each spell would have a 1 in 3 chance of being taken from the standard magic-user list, a 1 in 3 chance of coming from the illusionist list, and a 1 in 3 chance of being from the elementalist list. The Labyrinth Lord ensures, in this way, that the balance of spells available to characters of different spell-using classes remains fair and consistent.

Note that, as some spells are shared between the different classes, these guidelines will, in fact, slightly increase the number of spells available. It is also worth bearing in mind that, even if an adventuring party discover scrolls of spells that they cannot cast themselves, such scrolls still have value and may be sold to or bartered with NPCs who can put them to use.

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