Thursday, July 21, 2011

Magic-User Spell Books in B/X (Part 1)

I guess I've been gone for a bit. Things are crazier than I thought they'd be. Oh well. That can't be helped some times.

[I've still been working on my mega-dungeon, ideas for which are still in pretty constant flux until they're put down in paper (and even then, not always). Such is the nature of the beast, I suppose. I've decided not to put too much emphasis on scrapping together the outside world until I've got an OK idea of where this dungeon is headed (about six different directions, as of now). But really, you guys don't care about that. Onwards to the real post.]

One of the most frustrating things about B/X D&D is the rules for magic-user spell books. They're just so hard to wrap my mind around fully and make magic-users very limited characters, especially at low levels. But for clarity's sake, here's the piece of I'd like to look at first:
"Each magic user and elf has a spell book for the spells that he or she has learned. A first level character will only have one spell (a first level spell) in the spell book. A second level character will have two spells (both first level) in the spell book; a third level character will have three spells (two first level spells and one second level spell) in the spell book. The DM may choose which spells a character has in the book, or may allow the player to select them."
So a magic-user has only so many spells in his spell book that he may cast. What does this mean, though? It means that sitting on your ass studying really isn't a viable way for a magic-user character to expand his repertoire. Once you're got the basics down (are a first level medium), you need need to get in there are start using your spells in a practical way to really understand the most advanced principles.

But if all of these spells are common enough for most magic-users to have 1st-level spells of the basic list of twelve in Moldvay; it's not like they're all being developed in parallel with one another. They're getting them from somewhere. For me, these are the spells so common that they can be found for little to no fee in just about any major city or from the local magic-user's guild of some sort. It also tells me that there is likely only a single major school or powerful guild in the region.

The Cook and Marsh expert set has only two short paragraphs dealing with spell research:
"New spells may be researched by any spell caster. Research requires both money and time spent out of the campaign.
"To research a spell, the new spell must be written out and given to the DM, who decides, if it is possible, what level is should be, and what changes ate needed for play balance. A play may not research spells higher than his character can cast. Spell research costs 1,000 gp per level and requires 2 weeks of research per level."
Two things strike me in this paragraph. First, "any spell caster" can research new spells, which I take as including clerics. Second, is that spell research has no chance of failure, unlike OD&D.

What isn't clear to me is whether a new spell researched by a magic-user still takes up one "slot" in his spell book. Because Moldvay and Cook/Marsh are quite clear about about how many spells a magic-user may have (only so many as the character may cast), I am inclined to say that, yes, they do take up room in the caster's spell book.

There are still many blanks left in the rules. Can a magic-user copy down a spell created by another magic-user? How does that work? Does the magic-user need to be there or is the spell book sufficient enough?

[In Part 2, I'll be discussing my own rules for magic-user spell books in B/X, which should be up sometime tomorrow or Saturday.]

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