Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Discussion of all things magical for DCC RPG -- "Let the Phlogiston take you where it will..."

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Evil Genius Prime
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Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Evil Genius Prime » Sun Jun 24, 2012 11:37 am

Is there a limit to the number of spells a wizard can learn?
Also, do wizards keep their spells in spellbooks or are they just locked in their minds?

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Colin » Sun Jun 24, 2012 12:20 pm

From the Wizard class writeup:
At 1st level a wizard determines 4 spells that he knows, representing years of study and practice. As his comprehension expands, a wizard may learn more spells of progressively higher levels. A wizard knows a number of spells as shown on table 1-12, modified by his Intelligence score.
Look at the table 1-12 under Known Spells and you'll have the answer to your first question.

As for your second question, the section entitled The Wizard Grimoire on page 124 in the Magic chapter should help.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Evil Genius Prime » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:36 pm

Okay. So unlike 3.X/Pathfinder, the Wizards in DCC can only ever know a finite number of spells. Am I correct?

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Colin » Sun Jun 24, 2012 1:49 pm

Evil Genius Prime wrote:Wizards in DCC can only ever know a finite number of spells.
Yes.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Evil Genius Prime » Sun Jun 24, 2012 3:08 pm

Colin wrote:
Evil Genius Prime wrote:Wizards in DCC can only ever know a finite number of spells.
Yes.

Colin
Thanks for your patience and help, Colin.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Colin » Mon Jun 25, 2012 7:19 am

Evil Genius Prime wrote:Thanks for your patience and help, Colin.
No worries. If it helps, one of the best things folks can do when reading DCC the first time is forget any assumptions about how things work in various editions of D&D/Pathfinder; many questions on the forum have arisen because of the conflict between the baggage/expectations folks bring with them and what DCC actually sets out and intends. DCC is very much its own game, and while experience and knowledge of older editions of D&D can help in some cases, it is far more important to read and understand what is actually written before trying to second guess or compare it. :)

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by dmcolby » Mon Jun 25, 2012 3:10 pm

I like the idea of wizards questing for power and seeking to loot the spoils of magic from other wizards. Even though it's a house rule, I allow wizards to cast spells from captured sources of magic (IE, from a spellbook taken from another wizard) at a die step penalty. These spells have mercurial magic associated with them as well (Based on the luck of the wizard who first penned them).

When they level, they can choose to learn these spells instead of randomly rolling. In the future I may also allow spells to be learned under extraordinary means. Time and money spent researching magic with access to another wizard's spellbook may grant permanent knowledge of the spell and remove the penalty.

Also had the idea of wizards booby-trapping their spellbooks by deliberately including dangerous mercurial affects or maybe even codifying misfire into the spell. Of course the wizard who pens the spell would know to ignore the dangerous added portions of the incantation, but anyone who stole their book may find themselves in a sticky situation the first time they cast a spell from it.
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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by bill4935 » Tue Jun 26, 2012 12:36 pm

dmcolby wrote: Also had the idea of wizards booby-trapping their spellbooks by deliberately including dangerous mercurial affects or maybe even codifying misfire into the spell. Of course the wizard who pens the spell would know to ignore the dangerous added portions of the incantation, but anyone who stole their book may find themselves in a sticky situation the first time they cast a spell from it.
Devilishly clever! +1 for you.

I like how the game just begs you to toy with, manipulate and crush the hopes of wizards. Godly power is not for you, little magic-user. Instead how about a permanent nosebleed and some crab claws for feet?

Of course, Warriors don't have it easy either. The population density of magic swords is about 1/1000ths that of Pathfinder. But at least Fighters don't gradually, horrifically mutate into Ningauble of the Seven Eyes.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by nerdwerds » Fri Aug 10, 2012 2:11 am

Somebody else in these forums, under a mercurial magic topic, pointed out that "known" is not the same thing as "learned" and the rulebook doesn't explicitly state this, but a wizard could potentially "learn" dozens of spells yet they would only "know" a small selection of those. And there's a Jack Vance quotation from the Dying Earth series that illustrates how a wizard would consult his library and deposit new spells into his "known" assembly of knowledge, since the spells were so dangerous and powerful that only a few could be stored within his brain at a single time.

I really like this idea because then you can give players a little more agency in what their wizards will have access to.

Remember also that Invoke Patron and Patron Bond count as one known spell, and Patron-specific spells don't seem to count against the limits of known spells. (In my game Find Familiar is also a spell that doesn't count against the limits of known spells.)
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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Vanguard » Sat Aug 11, 2012 4:50 am

A simple way of allowing players some tailor their spells as they see fit is allow them to swap some out each time they level up. For example, if they find a scroll and, rather than cast it, they want to learn it, they could study it and upon leveling up unlearn an old spell and let this one take it's place.
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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Doctor Jest » Wed Sep 12, 2012 8:53 am

I'd recommend a system similar to the one in ACKS.

A wizard's spell book can hold any number of spells. However, to switch out the spells "known" requires 1 week and 1000gp (adjusted for your campaign economy) of uninterrupted study, ritual, astronomical observance, sacrifices, pacts, appeasing intelligences or certain ghosts, etc per spell level of the spell being switched out. So swapping a spell known for a new level 3 spell would take 3 weeks of uninterrupted study and 3000 gp.

It's less Vance and more Moorcock. The Wizard's power is how many of these, and how complex, he can maintain at once.

This allows the wizard to change the spells known, making finding new spells attractive, but also puts limits on it as well as gives the wizard a reason to go looking for monetary treasure too.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Steve Geddes » Thu Oct 04, 2012 8:10 pm

Colin wrote:From the Wizard class writeup:
At 1st level a wizard determines 4 spells that he knows, representing years of study and practice. As his comprehension expands, a wizard may learn more spells of progressively higher levels. A wizard knows a number of spells as shown on table 1-12, modified by his Intelligence score.
Look at the table 1-12 under Known Spells and you'll have the answer to your first question.

As for your second question, the section entitled The Wizard Grimoire on page 124 in the Magic chapter should help.

Colin
This section doesnt seem to me to gel with the level zero character coming from a more mundane background (like a pig farmer or something). Is this quoted section suggesting that, as soon as he reaches level one, he's learned 4 spells? Do you 'retcon' a background, where it turns out he was a pig farmer apprenticed to a wizard?

The rules seem to me to be saying a new wizard would have to go through the weeks of research + the obtaining a source of magic outlined in the Magic chapter. Granted that makes it rather tedious for the new wizard (and his companions) so it will be nice if it is instantaneous.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Eyeball360 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 3:56 am

There are a few ways you can handle it. Sure, you can retroactively assign a backstory to the poor lad who was working as a pigfarmer while studying magic by candlelight at night. Also, don't lose sight of the fact that you pretty much know if a character is destined to become a wizard when he level's up when you roll their stats, so you would typically know at that time. In other words, this isn't something you suddenly realized when the character reaches 10 xp's. The stories can be created when the characters are rolled up if you have the time and inclination.

Another alternative, and one that I prefer, is to put in a long period of downtime in the game after the conclusion of the first adventure. You could even insert this time in the middle of a gaming session if it's convenient to do so. The story can be that after this adventure, all the characters spend several months or even years assimilating their experience into the level advancement benefits. This dimension of realism doesn't just make sense for wizards, either. At least with the wizard character I can say that they suddenly had a eureka moment and now they have figured out how to unlock the magic in these formulae that they've known for some time now. With a warrior, it's much harder to justify how they suddenly went from some average joe to a competent martial artist, or similarly with a thief character who suddenly becomes adept at several skills that would normally take a very long time to gain proficiency in.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Bilgewriggler » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:57 am

I agree that the instantaneous leveling approach is actually more realistic for wizards than for warriors or thieves. Which strains credibillity more ... the idea that three or four strenuous combats would permit someone to go from being able to sustain 4 hit points worth of damage as a 0 level peasant to being able to sustain 16 h.p. of damage as a level 1 warrior ... or the idea that the same three or four strenuous combats might inspire some passing supernatural/extradimensional being, on a whim, to suddenly imbue a 0 level peasant with the ability to cast 4 spells? Or that the intense psychic shock of combat/injury might awaken one's spiritual third eye and permit spell use?

Personally, I think the best approach is to work with the character's background and with the player's wishes to craft an explanation for the sudden onset of spell use. Obviously, a wizard's apprentice or astrologer could have been studying arcana for years, and only just now makes the connection needed to put the knowledge to use. But you don't need to shoehorn every farmer or squire into the same model and say that they've been poring over mystical tomes for years after long days toiling in the fields or polishing up their knight's armor. Maybe the farmer has always had recurrent nightmares, her sleep haunted by the spirit of a wizardly ancestor. At the moment 10 x.p. are attained, the ghost manifests and says, "At last, you have proven yourself worthy to be my inheritor. I give you these gifts now, before departing to the Other Side." Perhaps the squire's "trade good" longsword has always had obscure runes carved into the blade, and after a certain number of battles, it transmits a stored freight of magic into the wielder, thereafter becoming an ordinary sword forever.
Purple Planeteers:

Jingles Coinclink, Halfling, hag-hacked into haggis

Nurzual the Faceter – M Jwlr - Wiz - L
S 12 A 8 (-1) S 9 P 11 I 15 (+1) L 10
AC 9 HP 6 Mv 30 Init -1 Ref 0 Fort 0 Will 1
Chalk 1pc, 20 gp Gem, Backpack, 10’ chain, 10 sheets parchment, Kith pouch, small hammer, ray-gun, Rope 50', 5gp 10sp 274 cp
shortsword +0(1d6)
Ch Psn (no MM), Clr Spr 65, Force Manip 81, Rd Mag 12, Spidr Cl 69
Pl.Common (basic)

Snooth Inksplot Scribe RIP under cave-in, a crushing loss

Qort Quiddlegit M Hlr - Cler - N(C?)
S 11 temp 14 (+1) A 11 temp 14 (+1) S 6 (-1) P 5 (-2) I 6 (-1) L 5 (-2)
AC 10 temp 11 HP 8 Mov 30 Init 0 Ref t+1 Fort 0 Will -1
club +0 (1d4+1t) - hand mirror, holy wtr, wtrskin Kith drink 12 oz drunk, 31 cp
-2 Ms fire damage
Det Magic

Brandybland Shoetree F Coblr N
S 10 A 9 S 10 P 8 (-1) I 9 L 9
AC 14 HP 1 Mov 30 Init 0 Ref 0 Fort 0; Will -1
gldtr glaive +0 (1d10) - gldtr ch mail - Fe spike, shoehorn, 48 cp
Prof: dagger

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Eyeball360 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 6:34 pm

Bilgewriggler wrote:...
Personally, I think the best approach is to work with the character's background and with the player's wishes to craft an explanation for the sudden onset of spell use. Obviously, a wizard's apprentice or astrologer could have been studying arcana for years, and only just now makes the connection needed to put the knowledge to use. But you don't need to shoehorn every farmer or squire into the same model and say that they've been poring over mystical tomes for years after long days toiling in the fields or polishing up their knight's armor. Maybe the farmer has always had recurrent nightmares, her sleep haunted by the spirit of a wizardly ancestor. At the moment 10 x.p. are attained, the ghost manifests and says, "At last, you have proven yourself worthy to be my inheritor. I give you these gifts now, before departing to the Other Side." Perhaps the squire's "trade good" longsword has always had obscure runes carved into the blade, and after a certain number of battles, it transmits a stored freight of magic into the wielder, thereafter becoming an ordinary sword forever.
Awesome ideas. It really does open my eyes to a lot more possibilities.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Bilgewriggler » Fri Oct 05, 2012 8:52 pm

Glad you like those ones ...

And maybe a butcher once cut the head off a pig, only to have it start babbling incomprehensible speech for an hour before going silent. In the deadly clutches of the encounter that brings him to 10 x.p., something suddenly clicks in the butcher's mind and makes him realize that the pig was speaking mystical incantations in reverse ...
Purple Planeteers:

Jingles Coinclink, Halfling, hag-hacked into haggis

Nurzual the Faceter – M Jwlr - Wiz - L
S 12 A 8 (-1) S 9 P 11 I 15 (+1) L 10
AC 9 HP 6 Mv 30 Init -1 Ref 0 Fort 0 Will 1
Chalk 1pc, 20 gp Gem, Backpack, 10’ chain, 10 sheets parchment, Kith pouch, small hammer, ray-gun, Rope 50', 5gp 10sp 274 cp
shortsword +0(1d6)
Ch Psn (no MM), Clr Spr 65, Force Manip 81, Rd Mag 12, Spidr Cl 69
Pl.Common (basic)

Snooth Inksplot Scribe RIP under cave-in, a crushing loss

Qort Quiddlegit M Hlr - Cler - N(C?)
S 11 temp 14 (+1) A 11 temp 14 (+1) S 6 (-1) P 5 (-2) I 6 (-1) L 5 (-2)
AC 10 temp 11 HP 8 Mov 30 Init 0 Ref t+1 Fort 0 Will -1
club +0 (1d4+1t) - hand mirror, holy wtr, wtrskin Kith drink 12 oz drunk, 31 cp
-2 Ms fire damage
Det Magic

Brandybland Shoetree F Coblr N
S 10 A 9 S 10 P 8 (-1) I 9 L 9
AC 14 HP 1 Mov 30 Init 0 Ref 0 Fort 0; Will -1
gldtr glaive +0 (1d10) - gldtr ch mail - Fe spike, shoehorn, 48 cp
Prof: dagger

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by bholmes4 » Fri Oct 05, 2012 9:39 pm

Wow Bilge these are awesome!

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Pesky » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:15 pm

Yeah, nice ideas Bilge! :D
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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Steve Geddes » Sun Oct 07, 2012 9:22 pm

Eyeball360 wrote:There are a few ways you can handle it. Sure, you can retroactively assign a backstory to the poor lad who was working as a pigfarmer while studying magic by candlelight at night. Also, don't lose sight of the fact that you pretty much know if a character is destined to become a wizard when he level's up when you roll their stats, so you would typically know at that time. In other words, this isn't something you suddenly realized when the character reaches 10 xp's. The stories can be created when the characters are rolled up if you have the time and inclination.

Another alternative, and one that I prefer, is to put in a long period of downtime in the game after the conclusion of the first adventure. You could even insert this time in the middle of a gaming session if it's convenient to do so. The story can be that after this adventure, all the characters spend several months or even years assimilating their experience into the level advancement benefits. This dimension of realism doesn't just make sense for wizards, either. At least with the wizard character I can say that they suddenly had a eureka moment and now they have figured out how to unlock the magic in these formulae that they've known for some time now. With a warrior, it's much harder to justify how they suddenly went from some average joe to a competent martial artist, or similarly with a thief character who suddenly becomes adept at several skills that would normally take a very long time to gain proficiency in.
Thanks for the comments. In our current game we took nearly a year off between level zero and level one for these sorts of reasons. I'm likely to be running a DCC game in the future and I've been struggling to make sense of this facet of the rules as written. I wondered if I'd got them muddled.

I won't have the year off option available, but have been mulling some other ideas. At least I didn't just misunderstand. Cheers.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Bilgewriggler » Mon Oct 08, 2012 5:52 am

Thanks for the kind words, guys!
Purple Planeteers:

Jingles Coinclink, Halfling, hag-hacked into haggis

Nurzual the Faceter – M Jwlr - Wiz - L
S 12 A 8 (-1) S 9 P 11 I 15 (+1) L 10
AC 9 HP 6 Mv 30 Init -1 Ref 0 Fort 0 Will 1
Chalk 1pc, 20 gp Gem, Backpack, 10’ chain, 10 sheets parchment, Kith pouch, small hammer, ray-gun, Rope 50', 5gp 10sp 274 cp
shortsword +0(1d6)
Ch Psn (no MM), Clr Spr 65, Force Manip 81, Rd Mag 12, Spidr Cl 69
Pl.Common (basic)

Snooth Inksplot Scribe RIP under cave-in, a crushing loss

Qort Quiddlegit M Hlr - Cler - N(C?)
S 11 temp 14 (+1) A 11 temp 14 (+1) S 6 (-1) P 5 (-2) I 6 (-1) L 5 (-2)
AC 10 temp 11 HP 8 Mov 30 Init 0 Ref t+1 Fort 0 Will -1
club +0 (1d4+1t) - hand mirror, holy wtr, wtrskin Kith drink 12 oz drunk, 31 cp
-2 Ms fire damage
Det Magic

Brandybland Shoetree F Coblr N
S 10 A 9 S 10 P 8 (-1) I 9 L 9
AC 14 HP 1 Mov 30 Init 0 Ref 0 Fort 0; Will -1
gldtr glaive +0 (1d10) - gldtr ch mail - Fe spike, shoehorn, 48 cp
Prof: dagger

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by beermotor » Mon Oct 08, 2012 6:08 am

Those should actually be put into a future revision of the text, they're great examples for people to use.

You sir are made of win.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Colin » Mon Oct 08, 2012 10:31 am

I love the fact that this aspect of character advancement is open, specifically because it leads to a lot of potentially interesting approaches and takes on how 0-levels attain their first level. It really is a case of it being very easily explained or tailored to the tastes of the Player and Judge. Can it be seen as sudden? Yes, if you want to explain it X way. Can it be explained with off-screen downtime during which the character undergoes training? Absolutely, with Y explanation. How long is said downtime if you choose that route? Again, up to the Judge and Players and their outlooks.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Bilgewriggler » Mon Oct 08, 2012 7:20 pm

beermotor wrote:Those should actually be put into a future revision of the text, they're great examples for people to use.

You sir are made of win.
If only I could come up with those explanations on the fly when the characters are leveling up!

Thanks!
Purple Planeteers:

Jingles Coinclink, Halfling, hag-hacked into haggis

Nurzual the Faceter – M Jwlr - Wiz - L
S 12 A 8 (-1) S 9 P 11 I 15 (+1) L 10
AC 9 HP 6 Mv 30 Init -1 Ref 0 Fort 0 Will 1
Chalk 1pc, 20 gp Gem, Backpack, 10’ chain, 10 sheets parchment, Kith pouch, small hammer, ray-gun, Rope 50', 5gp 10sp 274 cp
shortsword +0(1d6)
Ch Psn (no MM), Clr Spr 65, Force Manip 81, Rd Mag 12, Spidr Cl 69
Pl.Common (basic)

Snooth Inksplot Scribe RIP under cave-in, a crushing loss

Qort Quiddlegit M Hlr - Cler - N(C?)
S 11 temp 14 (+1) A 11 temp 14 (+1) S 6 (-1) P 5 (-2) I 6 (-1) L 5 (-2)
AC 10 temp 11 HP 8 Mov 30 Init 0 Ref t+1 Fort 0 Will -1
club +0 (1d4+1t) - hand mirror, holy wtr, wtrskin Kith drink 12 oz drunk, 31 cp
-2 Ms fire damage
Det Magic

Brandybland Shoetree F Coblr N
S 10 A 9 S 10 P 8 (-1) I 9 L 9
AC 14 HP 1 Mov 30 Init 0 Ref 0 Fort 0; Will -1
gldtr glaive +0 (1d10) - gldtr ch mail - Fe spike, shoehorn, 48 cp
Prof: dagger

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Raven_Crowking » Tue Oct 09, 2012 5:30 am

Bilgewriggler wrote:
beermotor wrote:Those should actually be put into a future revision of the text, they're great examples for people to use.

You sir are made of win.
If only I could come up with those explanations on the fly when the characters are leveling up!

Thanks!
Warrior, Thief, and all Demihuman classes: The seeds were there, they just needed your confidence in yourself to grow.

Cleric: Spontaneous Election - the god reaches out and gives you power, so that you may do his or her will upon this world. Your experiences to date merely alerted the god to your worth.

Wizard: Something happened to you; the arcane energies of the place you were exploring, something latent from childhood, etc., but you discover an affinity for magic. You must still learn your spells, however, and that takes time and study.

Pretty much how I roll.
SoBH pbp:

Cathbad the Meek (herbalist Wizard 1): AC 9; 4 hp; S 7, A 7, St 10, P 17, I 13, L 8; Neutral; Club, herbs, 50' rope, 50 cp; -1 to melee attack rolls. Hideous scar.

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Re: Wizards, Known Spells, & Spellbooks

Post by Pesky » Tue Oct 09, 2012 7:54 am

Raven_Crowking wrote: Warrior, Thief, and all Demihuman classes: The seeds were there, they just needed your confidence in yourself to grow.

Cleric: Spontaneous Election - the god reaches out and gives you power, so that you may do his or her will upon this world. Your experiences to date merely alerted the god to your worth.

Wizard: Something happened to you; the arcane energies of the place you were exploring, something latent from childhood, etc., but you discover an affinity for magic. You must still learn your spells, however, and that takes time and study.
Those are nice guidelines, RC.
Terry Olson

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