After a couple of months worth of pondering, I think I've finally decided how I want to work the acquisition of spells in B/X D&D. I'm going to try not to contradict the rule books, but instead add to them and fill in many of the blanks spots in the manuals.
Before I begin, here are the given circumstances I will be using as the basis of these house rules.
- "Magic-users and elves are limited to the number of spells they know, and their books will contain spells equal to the number and level of spells the caster can use in a single day..." (X11)
- "Most player character magic-users and elves are assumed to be part of the local Magic-Users Guild or apprenticed to a higher level NPC" (X11)
- "When player characters gain a level of experience, they will return to their masters and be out of play for one 'game-week' while they are learning their new spells" (X11)
- "Magic-users may add more spells to their spell books their spell research" (X7)
- "Without [the read magic] spell unfamiliar magic may not be read or understood, even by a magic-user" (B17)
- Read languages "will alow the caster to read...any unknown language or code, including treasure maps, secret symbols, and so forth" (B17)
After attaining a new experience level, there are several ways magic-users and elves may expand their repertoire of spells: pursuing the spell library of the local Mage's Guild; apprenticing a higher level NPC; from an NPC's spell book; independent magic research; and, if all else fails, "luck".
Mage's Guild: At character creation, a magic-user or elf may spend 60GP to join the local mage's guild. Thereafter, it costs 600GP for an independent character to join. In either case, the magic-user or elf must pay an additional fee of 100GP per character level each "game month" to remain in the guild. In exchange, the character may purchase the necessary supplies for the creation of magic items and, more importantly, may peruses the guild library and enroll the help of a tutor when learning new spells. After attaining a new experience level, a member of the Mage's Guild may select level appropriate a spell(s) from the B/X rules books to learn.
Apprenticeship: At character creation a magic-user or elf may spend 40GP to apprentice a more experienced (5th-8th level) NPC magic-user or elf. The exact terms of the apprenticeship are left up to the DM, but usually involves the character spending one week each "game month" assisting his or her Master around the tower, preparing means, organizing tomes, feeding the grey ooze, etc. In exchange, the Master will teach the apprentice new spells each time the magic-user or elf character advances in level. The Master's spell list should be randomly determined from the B/X rulebook, but with a 10% chance of each spell being of the Master's own creation (a new spell of the DM's creation unavailable at the local Mage's Guild library).
NPC Spell Books: Any magic-user with the read magic spell may learn and copy down spells from spell book acquired while adventuring. There is a 20% chance of each spell being of the NPC magic-user's own creation, unavailable at the local magic-user's guild. Deciphering and recording a spell requires 1 day per level of the newly acquired spell. Generous DMs may even allow characters to record spells from appropriate spell scrolls in a similar manner.
Magical Research: As described on page X51, magical research requires 1,000 gp per spell level and 2 weeks of research per level with only a 15% chance of failure. For me these rules a little too simplistic and I will be providing alternative rules in Part 3 of this post.
Luck: Similar to the Mage's Guild method, but the character instead begs, borrows, or otherwise ascertains the knowledge of a randomly determined, level appropriate spell(s) from the B/X rulebooks at no cost. This is also the method used by first level magic-users and elves that do not purchase Mage's Guild membership or an Apprenticeship during character creation.
[Look for Part 3 tonight or tomorrow where I will discuss an alternative method for magical research]