Saturday, November 16, 2013

Do You Encourage Players to Research / Write Their Own Spells for Their Character?

I was going to initially phrase the title "do you allow?", but I suspect most old school DM would allow such an attempt, even if they weren't actively encouraging it.

I remember working with my players back in my college days when they wanted to create a signature spell for their character. My experience was that players instinctively lowballed the spell level of their creations - a spell comparable to spells in the AD&D Player's Handbook for third level were often suggested as second. I don't think that was intentional, more of a subconscious decision on their part.

Now, as a DM / content creator, I've written new spells, but I've tended to steer away from spells that have obvious uses in combat - which is where the vast majority of spells written for D&D-like RPG fall into. "Brew Beer" or "Bless Homestead" are more practical for the peasants, but less useful in the depths of a dungeon.

I fully expect as my current S&W Complete campaign picks up speed that one or more of the players will look to customize a current spell and create a new one, and I expect to be ready for the challenge of keeping the new creation balanced yet still within the player's vision of it's scope.

So, where do you stand on players creating new spells in an "Old School" campaign? Encourage it? Hope to avoid it? It's never happened before, so why should it happen now? ;)


  1. Short story: My friend was playing a Dark-Elven (yeah... I allowed it :-)) Magic User. After reaching a higher level, he was finally able to learn the spell he wanted most - Fireball. But... dark elves don't really like light or fire, so he asked, if he can change the "Fire Ball" into an "Acid Ball". It wasn't really a new spell, but i sill liked his idea. So yeah, I allow it, as long as it's not some kind of "Summon: Death" spell.

  2. My goal when playing or running a game is to never use a single spell from the rulebook.

  3. Yes. I actually designed my own rules for spell research for 4e; folks can find them on my blog if interested.

  4. Absolutely. Most of the spells in the books I have done were from various games stretching back to the 90s.

  5. Spell research can also be a men to have a known spell, without having to resort to a mentor, a captured spellbook or a found scroll to learn it

  6. Encourage, maybe not. But if it is what a player wants their character to do, I will certainly work with them on making it happen in an interesting way.

  7. I've tried for years but never had anyone attempt it. :-(

  8. Yes, but I use the Basic spells as the "standard" wizard's curriculum, with additions from AD&D and the ACKS player's companion being less widespread-- when I randomly generate spells, such as for a scroll, it's a 1-3 chance of being a basic spell, a 4-5 chance of being a supplemental one, and on a 6 I'll do something exotic.


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