Saturday, April 14, 2012

Quickie O/B/X D&D Starting Magic-User Spell Determination

Intelligence
3-8 - Randomly determine 1 1st level spell.
9-12 - Pick 1 1st level spell.
13-15 - Read Magic and pick 1 1st level spell.
16-17 - Read Magic, pick 1 1st level spell, and randomly determine 1 1st level spell.
18 - Read Magic and pick 2 1st level spells.

Inspired by my recent academic adventures, I imagine the above as this:

Int 3-8 - You're inept; although you somehow stumbled into an apprenticeship/wizard school, you were a failure and only remember how to do one thing, and it's probably not want you wanted to learn.

Int 9-12 - Although you got into an apprenticeship/wizard school you're pretty much a hack and managed to only learn how to do one thing.

Int 13-15 - You were an adequate student, you managed to learn a spell and the skills necessary to learn more on your own.

Int 16-17 - As above, but you managed to also retain some scraps of random information.

Int 18 - You were a prodigy and graduated with two spells of your choosing, what a champ!

One can easily play around with this depending on the DMs preferences regarding starting # of spells, randomization, etc. Maybe you need a 13 Int to avoid random starting spells? Maybe an 18 Int PC gets to pick 3 spells. I just like having a handy, arbitrary system for determining starting M-U spells that allows for some reward for being a brainiac.

I always liked the AD&D starting spell determination in principle, but in execution is a mess however much I love the cheap laffs at the expense of 1st level M-U's that have Friends, Mending and Ventriloquism in their spellbooks ("Where did you learn magic, working at a cricus? Bwahahahaha!").

As an aside, random spell determination works a lot better for the PCs with the OD&D/B/XD&D spell lists which aren't cluttered up with the hedge mage spells of dubious general utility. Heartbreak is your Magic-User reaching 7th level and getting Shatter in their spellbook. Not that I'm entirely against the D&D rules repeatedly slapping your PC in the face.

5 comments:

  1. Having rolled up characters for a 1e game today and watched while the player with the magic-user came to grips with choosing his spells, this is a timely and refreshing post. :-)

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  2. I like it a lot. Maybe even enough to actually use it.

    But I have a question. If your INT is 9-12 can the spell you pick be Read Magic? Because that seems like the obvious spell to take.

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  3. Yep, something similar in my space adventure game, Seeded Space... Psychics get from 1 to 4 first level psychic powers at first level, depending on their Wisdom - the more 'in tune' you are with the Force/Quantum Consciousness/whatever, the better.

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  4. Sweet, by these rules I have an Intelligence of 16 or 17!

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