Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spells as Treasure

My players are stuck in an uncivilized land.  When leveling up this hurts the mages the most.  Why?  Because fighters increase their fighting ability, thieves continue to improve their craft and clerics get addition spells by their god.  What about mages?  They level up, but where do they learn their new spells?  There is no guild hall, no secret coven, no lonely tower in the wilderness (at least none that they've found) for the mage to go and learn new spells. 

Now spells become a commodity.  Something that can be traded among a few of the spellcasters that are on the same side.  And those scrolls that are often considered minor treasure become important.  To the mage, the most valued treasure. 

The rules I have in place for my current campaign is a magic-user may transcribe a scroll into a spell book, but it consumes the original scroll.  I pretty loose with the recovery of spells.  Just get a full night's rest and say you're recharging your spells and I'll let you know if all of them are memorized.  The other thing I've added is a version of Rob's (Bat in the Attic) version of ritual casting spells.  Great for utility spells.  Such as a detect magic.  When you're in a hostile environment keeping yourself armed is critical, so using a precious spell slot on a service spell is not often done.  But with the ritual spell, a magic-user can cast a spell by using 10gp of spell components/level of the spell and it takes 1 turn/level of the spell to cast.  Here again, since the players are in an uncivilized area they need to take time to gather the natural spell components available in the woods.  Which I've decided takes 1d2 hours/10gp worth of components.  *On a related note, I had all the players before the start of the game pick a secondary skill, like mason, leatherworker and so on.  If a player chose herbalism or some sort of wilderness skill this time is reduced by half.

I've always liked the idea of spells as earned or found treasure.  I have those spell compendium books so I have a lot of new and interesting spells the players may have never heard of or experienced.  It adds an element of surprise to the casting itself.  It is not a memorized effect.  So the caster will need to experiment a bit to discover the nuances of the spell.