Monday, 10 December 2018

Trading Spells

Rules Cyclopaedia pg44 “By ancient tradition—of necessity and common sense—magic-users are loathe to trade spells among themselves. “

Many RPGs say that player Magic Users are reluctant to trade spells. But why? So I started to think of some possibilities for house rules to limit spell trading.

Magic is personal and jealously guarded. A wizard would normally never teach another how he cast a particular spell, because it would weaken the effect of his own magic. Too many people on your network slows it down.

1. So similarly, teaching apprentices a spell, damages the effectiveness of that spell. All spells that are shared, now function at half power. Each shared spell has half range, duration and damage. If a master  taught an apprentice his version of Lightning Bolt, then the range would be 90ft and cause 1-3 damage per level.  Likewise, if the apprentice (or the master) had a unfortunate fatal accident, the Lightning Bolt spell would revert to a fully powered spell.

2. So in this world, players usually gain spells through research. If a player finds a scroll, the player would still have to do the research (at half cost/time) to make their own version of the spell. But even then, it actually taps power from the original source. Learning from a stolen fireball scroll written by the wizard Moe the Merciless is extra dangerous, if Moe suddenly finds his own fireball is now half powered. Otherwise, scrolls work the same as usual.

For PCs, it is combat mechanics. Trading spells increases party survivability. Tactically it is a good idea for each of the party magic users to be able to cast fireball. Swapping spells between characters is the easiest way to achieve this. PC wizards make their gold by adventuring and not dying. Not by having a monopoly on a spell. Spell casters who pool their knowledge, are more valuable to the party then those who don't.

However, Spell books in a campaign can quickly become identical. I think there is more role playing in enforcing some penalties for trading between spell casters. That may be what some of the original books were getting at. Every spell caster in the party can have magic missile. They just can't get it the easy way by trading spells with each other.

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