Magical Research

There are a few parts of D&D that I have always wanted to spend more time using but either players just don’t seem to be interested–henchmen/retainers, for example–or the rules don’t make it terribly easy to implement. An example of the latter, in my mind, is magical research.

Honestly, I have long thought that magic-users (especially) get the short end of the stick while paying a premium in their XP tables. What do low-level magic-users with a couple of spells per day do during combat? Hold the torch! So exciting!

Anyway, in order to both dial up the magic-user a bit and to make them more interesting, I am making some major modifications to the magical research rules. This is something I started working on years ago during a campaign my son was playing and I’ve fiddled with it over the years, finally nailing down the final version last fall. I haven’t posted on it yet, in part because the use in play has just not been there, but in anticipation of a new campaign kicking off shortly, here it is for Kilgore’s B/X game.

(NOTE: Kilgore’s B/X game uses the B/X spellbook rules as written, meaning a magic-user or elf only has a number of spells in his or her book not to exceed the number of spells that can be cast per day. Also, new magic-users and elves get to choose their starting spell, but further spells are determined randomly unless the character has a written reference of a spell he or she wants to choose.)

Magical Research

  1. Write Known Spells into spellbook — All Spell Casters
    1. 1,000 GP + 1 week per spell level — 100% success to restore lost spellbook
    2. 500 GP + 1/2 week per spell level — 100% success to make a copy
  2. Research New Spell into spellbook — All Spell Casters
    1. 1,000 GP + 2 weeks per spell level –85% success
      1. Reference (scroll, spellbook, etc.) halves time requirement
      2. Adding a new spell requires removal of an old one from the spellbook
      3. Standard spells (those in the rules) may be researched normally
  3. Creating Spell Scrolls
    1. 500 GP + 1 week per spell level
      1. Scrolls of known spells take half the standard time requirementAll Spell Casters
      2. Scrolls of unknown spells (not in spell book) — Beginning at 3rd Level
  4. Magic Items
    1. Single-use magic items (including potions) — Beginning at 3rd Level
      1. 500 GP + 1 week per spell level of effect
      1. DM determines spell level effect if not replicating a spell
      2. Special items may require more gold, more time, and/or higher level
    2. Charged magic items — Beginning at 6th Level
      1. Cost and time determined by DM
    3. Permanent magic items — Beginning at 9th Level
      1. Cost and time determined by DM
      2. Costs significantly higher than charged items

Essentially, I want lower-level casters to have access to magical research and to be able to create items that can be used on a case-by-case basis when needed. You know how the Batman always seems to have Shark-repellent Bat Spray when he heads out into shark-infested water? Well, now your Conjurer can research and create some if it looks like it might be needed.

Additionally, the time-savings for research spells that can be referenced on a scroll or captured spellbook return some value to the finding of such items during the adventure. Not to mention the advantage of having a desired spell in hand when leveling up.

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