Acquisition of Magic-User Spells

Acquisition of Illusionist's Spells
Spells Beyond Those At Start
Character Spells


Inform those players who have opted for the magic-user profession that they have just completed a course of apprenticeship with a master who was of unthinkably high level (at least 6th!).
Having been a relatively apt pupil, worked diligently, and made every effort to please, master (or mistress, as the case may be) was kind enough to prepare a special present for the character before he or she goes out into the world to seek his or her fortune.
At this juncture request the player to ready a piece of paper which will go into his or her records as a permanent fixture.
Instruct the player to entitle the page "FIRST LEVEL SPELLS KNOWN".

While the INT of the PC will dictate how many and which spells can be and are known,
    this knowledge is not automatic.
Each and every spell,
    except those which "master" was generous enough to bestow upon the character,
    must be found somewhere and recorded in the character's spell books.
Thus, if Redouleent the Prestidigitator,
    intelligence 15,
    has a repertoire of 7 spells and finds a scroll with yet another,
    there is a 65% chance that the spell can be understood by that worthy.
If, in fact,
    [the scroll] can be comprehended,
    Redouleent must then record the spell in his book
    (thus destroying that portion of the scroll, of course),
    and he is now the proud possessor of 8 first level spells --
    just 3 short of the maximum he'll be able to know.

Returning to the recently-completed apprenticeship,
    let us now consider the spells given to Redouleent by his wise old master.
Obviously, an apprentice must know how to read magic to be of use to his master.
It is also an absolute must to anyone following the profession of magic-user,
    so that spell is AUTOMATICALLY on each magic-user characters list of known spells.
Then select by random means [1] spell each from the
    and miscellaneous categories listed below.
Redouleent, or any other player character magic-user will than have a total of 4
    -- count them --
    4 [first level] spells with which to seek his (or her) fortune!
[d10.alphacolor] Offensive Spells [d10.alphacolor] Defensive Spells [d10.alphacolor] Misc. Spells
1. Burning Hands 1. Affect Normal Fires 1. Comprehend Languoges
2 Charm Person 2. Dancing lights 2. Detect magic
3 Enlarge 3. Feather Fall 3. Erase
4 Friends 4. Hold Portal 4. Find Familiar
5 Light 5. Jump 5. Identify
6 Magic Missile 6. Protection From Evil 6. Mending
7 Push 7. Shield 7. Message
8 Shocking Grasp 8. Spider Climb 8. Unseen Servant
9 Sleep 9. Ventriloquism 9. Write
0. (choose) 0. (choose) 0. (choose)

Choice should be left to the player.
Note that both Nystul's Magic Aura and Tenser's Floating Disc must be located by the character;
they can never be known at the start.
If your campaign is particularly difficult, you may wish to allow choice automatically.
You can furthermore allow an extra defensive or miscelloneous spell, so that the character begins with 5 spells.

Question: How does a Prestidigitator (MU1) get spells in his first-level spell book?
Also, what obligations does he have to his master for his spell book?

Answer: A first-level Magic-User gets his spells placed in his spell book by himself or his mentor by way of a Write spell.
This is the way he places all his spells in his spell books.
As to his obligations to the Magic-User who was his master, that is between them.
I myself am cleaning up after a 10th-level Magic-Userís young black dragon twice a week in return for a book of third-level spells.
(Correction: The mentor would almost certainly NOT be using a write spell to inscribe spells into a the spellbook of a level 0 or level 1 magic-user).

Q: How many spells does a 1st-level
magic-user have in his book? The
DMG (page 39) says four, while the
PHB (page 10) sets a minimum and
maximum according to intelligence.
When does the magic-user add
spells to his book?

A: For a beginning character, ignore the
minimum number of spells on Intelligence
Table II in the PHB (page 10). A 1st-level
magic-user has a book of four spells, as
per the DMG, page 39. He does not roll his
"chance to know" for these spells.

As the magic-user gains levels, he gains
new spells as part of his training. It is best
to simply give the magic-user a new spell
for his book each time he gains the ability
to cast an additional spell. For example, a
1st-level magic-user can cast one first-level
spell. When the magic-user reaches 2nd
level, he can cast two first-level spells, and
he gains an additional first-level spell for
his book. His intelligence still determines
the maximum number of spells of each
level he can have in his book, and his
chance of successfully writing any given
spell into his book.

The DM should select the new spell, and
the magic-user must successfully make his
"chance to know" roll in order to gain it. If
the roll fails, the DM should assign another
spell. To allow magic-user PCs more
options when choosing spells, you might
give each such PC an extra 2nd, 3rd, 4th,
or 5th-level spell when the magic-user first
gains the ability to cast it (this will occur at
3rd, 5th, 7th, and 9th level, respectively).
The magic-user can also try to add spells
to his book when he finds them on scrolls
or in captured spell books. The magic-user
rolls his "chance to know" and, if successful,
may add the spell to his book. The
spell disappears from the scroll or book
when the magic-user adds it to his book.
If, during the course of play, the magicuser
has tried every spell of a given level
but has fewer spells of that level than the
minimum for his intelligence score, he can
go back and try to learn one or more
spells a second time.

For more information, see "Spelling It
Out," in DRAGON issue #147.

Acquisition of Illusionists' Spells

Illusionists do not need the spell read magic or anything like it in pursuit of their profession.
All illusionist spell books and scrolls are written in a secret tongue which every apprentice learns from his or her mentor.
This arcane and difficult language is common to all phantasmal magics, and is necessary for illusionistic conjuring.
When an illusionist gains read magic at the 14th level (along with 'several other 1st level magic-user spells),
this merely allows him or her to utilize magic-user scrolls that contain spells different from those on the illusionists' list.

When a 1st level illusionist receives his first level spell book from his master,
    it contains only [3] spells
    (read magic being unnecessary).
The DM should require the player's character to roll a d12 on the table of 1st level illusionist spells,
    rolling three times and ignoring any rolls that result in duplication.
If a DM feels his or her campaign is unusually difficult,
he or she may allow the player to choose [1] or even [2] of these initial spells.

Spells Beyond Those At Start:

Naturally, magic-user PCs will do their utmost to acquire
books of spells and scrolls in order to complete their own spell books. To
those acquired, the magic-user will add 1 (and ONLY 1) spell when he or
she actually gains an experience level <q.v.> . Therefore, most will be
frantically attempting to purchase or cozen spells from NPC
magic-users, or even from other PC magic-users.

How you handle NPC magic-users is of utmost importance. There is a
special section of the rules regarding non-player characters, and you
should follow the suggestions therein carefully. By doing so, players will
find that their magic-user characters are unable to acquire new spells -
at worst - ar must pay so dearly for them in money, magic items, and
[QUESTS] that the game is hardly worth the candle. Of course they will pay
the price nonetheless, and that will help you to maintain the campaign as
fresh and challenging, as it will rid it of excess treasure and give player
characters reason to adventure at the same time.

Superior players will certainly co-operate; thus, spells will in all probability
be exchanged between PC magic-users to some extent. No special
sanctions need be taken to prevent such exchange - although this cooperation
should never be suggested or otherwise encouraged, either.
The DM should leave this interaction strictly alone. This is NOT the case
when PCs deal with NPC henchmen or hirelings. Non-player character
hirelings or henchmen will ABSOLUTELY REFUSE to co-operate freely with
player characters, even their own masters ar mistresses. Again, this
matter is dealt with separately under the section pertaining to the DMs
role in operating henchmen and hirelings. <make link?> As a general rule, they will
require value plus a bonus when dealing with their liege. If they will
deal with other PCs (or NPCs) at all, they will require double volue plus a
considerable bonus.
For example, Thigru Thorkisen, Magician in the hire of Olaf Blue Cheeks,
a 10th level Lord, knows the spell, suggestion; and
Olafís associate, Halfdon the Necromancer, requests that he be allowed
to copy this spell into his book of third level spells. If Olof is willing,
Halfdan can approach Thigru. If Halfdan has been at least civil to the
magicion, Thigru will osk nothing more than a third level spell in return,
plus another spell, plus some minor magic item such as a set of three
potions, a scroll of 3 spells, or perhaps o ring of invisibility. If Holfdan
had formerly insulted the magician, then the price would be more dear;
but supposing the necromancer had actually saved Thigru's life at one
time, the cost would be reduced to but a spell exchange and a single
potion or scroll of 1 spell.

Naturally, the personality of the henchman or hireling would modify the bargain to some extent.
A very avaricious or greedy NPC would ask for more magic items and/or gold too!
As a good DM you will hove developed the character of each henchman and hireling to the extent that such determinations will be relatively easy.

Finally, the ramifications of spell scarcity are bound to aid your
campaign, and not only with regard to excess treasure and magic items.
A scroll of but a single spell becomes highly meaningful to the magic-users
in the game, especially when it is of a spell heretofore unknown.
The acquisition of a book of spells from someplace in the dungeons or
wildernesses of the campaign is a benison beyond price! PC and NPC
alike will take great pains to guard scrolls and spell books. Magic-users
will haunt dusty libraries and peruse musty tomes in the hopes of gleaning
but a single incantation to add to their store of magic.

Q: Are there any restrictions on
magic-users trading spells?

A: None except those imposed by the DM.
Some campaigns require mages to make
scrolls (or have them made) before a spell
can be safely transferred. Once the scroll
is made, the receiving magic-user rolls his
"chance to know," writes the spell into his
book, and the spell disappears from the
scroll. Any attempt to write the spell into
the book uses up the scroll even if the
?chance to know? roll fails. Note that a
write spell is not required as long as the
receiving magic-user has a ?slot? of the
appropriate level available, and he has not
previously failed his ?chance to know? for
the spell in question. Attempts to transfer
spells directly from book to book result in
the spells disappearance from the original
If a PC has an NPC mentor who supplies
higher-level spells as the PC advances in
level, the mentor might be upset to find
?bootleg? spells appearing in his apprentice
?s spell book.

Originally Posted by Gray Mouser

I have a question that has long puzzled me. It's about PC's acquiring Magic-User spells. IN the DMG (p. 39) it states:

"Naturally, magic-user player characters will do their utmost to acquire books of spells and scrolls in order to complete their own spell books.
To those acquired, the magic-user will add 1 (and ONLY 1) spell when he or she actually gains an experience level (q.v.).
Therefore, most will be frantically attempting to purchase or cozen spells from non-player character magic-users, or even from other player character magic-users."

OK, here's my question.
When you say:
"To those acquired, the magic-user will add 1 (and ONLY 1) spell when he or she actually gains an experience level."
do you mean that the PC mage AUTOMATICALLY gains a new spell in their spell book whenever the rise in levels?
For example, if my M-U is going from 1st to 2nd level do I get to add a brand new spell to my spell book even if I did NOT find a scroll or spell book in the dungeon I just explored?

If this is, in fact, the case then how should you handle it when a M-U goes up levels and gets the ability to cast a spell of a new level AND gains the ability to cast more spells in a level in which he's already proficient? For example, my M-U goes from 6th level to 7th level and is now able to cast 4th level spells AND gains an additional 2nd level spell.

Sorry for asking such an involved question, but you have no idea how long I've tried to figure this one out!
BUt since I found this site I figured I may as well go straight to the horse's mouth (so to speak).

Thanks in advance!

Gray Mouser


I left all of your message up here so as to refer to it as I respond.

The M-U going up a level is assumed to do so through training with a mage of higher level, or at worst the study of arcane lore.
In this process the character gains knowledge of one new spell of the highest level he is able to cast.

If by advancement the character is also able to casr one or more lower level spells, he will have to make do with those he has in his spell books.
He does not gain any new ones in those lower levels, only the capacity to memorize more of them. T
hus the M-U character should always to be seeking the acquisition of spell books (likely with new and different spells recorded therein) or else scrolls with spells on them that he can record into his library.


Originally Posted by Gray Mouser

Thanks so much for answering my question! ...

Thanks again!

Gray Mouser

Happy to have been of service, Gray mouser

While I can't berate DMs who play differently, the DMG does set forth the basic guidelines in regard to acquisition of new spells.
In retrospect I should have added the details of how the new spell added when increasing in level was gained, and that would have served well.
Hindsight is so accurate...