Spell Research, House Rule

For every table around the world, there is probably a unique way of handling spells. I do my best to keep things as core as possible, I like to control what the players know, but we do work together so that the player is happy.

Typically, I give spells to the players through treasure that they find by using scrolls. This lets the player decide if they want to use the scroll, or try and learn the spell. If they try to learn it I stick to the rules in the PHB, but what if a wizard has access to a lab, and he just wants a specific spell? Well, he should be allowed to learn that spell. Spell research in this instance is horribly vague in 2nd Edition rules, so house rule it is!

The wizard must have access to a lab, and be able to cast spells from that spell level, and the school of magic. Depending how much gold he has to spend on equipment and components, increases the chances of learning that spell.

Below I’ve listed the cost as per 10%, the second number is how much you would need to get a 100% chance to successfully research the spell. The time that this takes is 1 week per spell level.

1st Level Spell: 1,000gp – 10,000gp
2nd Level Spell: 2,000gp – 20,000gp
3rd Level Spell: 4,000gp – 40,000gp
4th Level Spell: 8,000gp – 80,000gp
5th Level Spell: 16,000gp – 160,000gp
6th Level Spell: 32,000gp – 320,000gp
7th Level Spell: 64,000gp – 640,000gp
8th Level Spell: 128,000gp – 1,280,000gp
9th Level Spell: 256,000gp – 2,560,000gp

I know that you folks love examples, so here you go!

Say the wizard Boaldordask really wants to learn the 6th level spell Globe of Invulnerability, but I won’t give it to him because I’m mean. He is willing to spend 200,000 hard earned gold pieces, and invest in 6 weeks in the lab. 200,000 divided by 32,000 equals 6.25, so he will have a 63% chance to learn the spell because I rounded up.


Andy Action said...

I dig this - thanks for posting!

Dr. Srangelove said...

I use a similar way but allow rare ingredients or field work to stand in for cost. For instance say someone wants to learn Invisibility but certainly doesn't have 20k gp to ensure success. (I'm a bit miserly for gold as a GM). Instead I allow research check and a few days to find out some Fey creatures can turn invisible at will. Perhaps capturing or conversing with one would help. Get's us playing again and can rope the rest of the party into the work and not just waste time so the wizard can research.

RipperX said...

That does sound like fun Dr. Strangelove! I think that a player could talk me into doing this. Sounds like one of those old school quests so that a fighter could get a powerful magic item.

Brooser Bear said...

This is both elegant and at just the right level of abstraction. I prefer spell research to be more of an adventure - a wizard traveling to location X to look at some ancient scrolls at a library type of thing. You might be interested in the AD&D 2nd Edition Complete Wizard's Handbook. It has some stuff on spell research and a nifty list for generating magical spell components such as singing stones, secret unicorns and butterfly shadows.

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