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View Full Version : [3.5] Wizard's "Free" spells.



3Power
2009-06-11, 08:02 PM
Ok, so I'm running a D&D 3.5 Play-by-post, and in order to take advantage of the forum-based format, am trying to encourage focus on the little aspects of what the adventurers do when they level up and stuff. For example, a rogue recently reached level 2 and multiclassed to swashbuckler, and I had another character teach him to use his mobility to fight rather than his strength (aka weapon finesse). Now, the players are going on a one week journey through the wilderness, during which the rest of them will probably hit level 2. In preparation for that, I am having an NPC give the wizard some books about magic to read on the journey so that she can develop her two new spells.

However, here is where things get tricky. Due to a miscommunication, I thought her player asked me what was needed to record new spells in her spellbook from a scroll or something, the answer of course being 100 gp of ink per page. But then he clarified by saying that he was referring to her two free spells.

That's when it hit me.

Wait, how the heck does a wizard get free spells? How does he scribe them in his spellbook without any ink?

I mean, I can think of two possibilities: Either the wizard gains two new spells known and he still has to scribe them in his spellbook at full cost, or this is some kinda mystical thing where the wizard scribes them using his soul or his blood or something every time he gains a level, both of which are lame for different reasons.

Otherwise, this makes no sense in an in character universe. Basically, I'm looking for an in character justification or clarification for how this is supposed to work.

Flickerdart
2009-06-11, 08:07 PM
Research notes. A Wizard's spellbook isn't just neat rows of pre-made spells, it's also got little notes and tricks that he writes down. When he levels up, he notices that hey, you can put this trick and that trick together to make a spell. Or he already had the spell, but couldn't figure out how to work it (or possibly work it better than it was before which was not good enough).

arguskos
2009-06-11, 08:10 PM
Ok, so I'm running a D&D 3.5 Play-by-post, and in order to take advantage of the forum-based format, am trying to encourage focus on the little aspects of what the adventurers do when they level up and stuff. For example, a rogue recently reached level 2 and multiclassed to swashbuckler, and I had another character teach him to use his mobility to fight rather than his strength (aka weapon finesse). Now, the players are going on a one week journey through the wilderness, during which the rest of them will probably hit level 2. In preparation for that, I am having an NPC give the wizard some books about magic to read on the journey so that she can develop her two new spells.

However, here is where things get tricky. Due to a miscommunication, I thought her player asked me what was needed to record new spells in her spellbook from a scroll or something, the answer of course being 100 gp of ink per page. But then he clarified by saying that he was referring to her two free spells.

That's when it hit me.

Wait, how the heck does a wizard get free spells? How does he scribe them in his spellbook without any ink?

I mean, I can think of two possibilities: Either the wizard gains two new spells known and he still has to scribe them in his spellbook at full cost, or this is some kinda mystical thing where the wizard scribes them using his soul or his blood or something every time he gains a level, both of which are lame for different reasons.

Otherwise, this makes no sense in an in character universe. Basically, I'm looking for an in character justification or clarification for how this is supposed to work.
I typically say that the wizard has been using a private stash of non-magical ink to study in his free time, and it all comes together around the time he levels up. His studies allow the non-magical ink to hold the inherent magic of the spells.

Yes, it's a weak justification, but really, do we care THAT much? It's sorta cruel to charge them for their class features.

Flickerdart
2009-06-11, 08:18 PM
Yes, it's a weak justification, but really, do we care THAT much? It's sorta cruel to charge them for their class features.
And why not? They're Wizards. An extra couple of spells a level is cheap enough.
Or at least remove the free spells/level for PrCs, to make staying single classed worth thinking about

Devils_Advocate
2009-06-12, 11:24 AM
Wait, how the heck does a wizard get free spells?
By leveling up. Although the book may not explicitly say so, leveling up is allowed to not make sense. By multiclassing, you can learn in a short time abilities that normally take years to master. Rangers all of the sudden gain animal companions and divine spellcasting like druids. And so on.

Attention to detail isn't really good for verisimilitude in D&D, because it includes things that are allowed to not make sense. Hit points, for example. (Wait, my character can still fight as well as he could at full HP? Why doesn't he ever get impaired by injury without going all the way to the Disabled condition?)

I'd prefer to houserule out the Wizard's free spells, though, because I don't like how Wizard is the one core class that has free equipment upgrades built into its progression. A Wizard's spellbook is not an attribute of her, it's a physical object that can be gained or lost, bought or sold.

Really, this isn't too expensive if you let there be plenty of wizards willing to let you copy spells from their spellbooks at the standard fee of spell level 50 gp.

A wizard's guild might sell spellbooklets -- little spellbooks containing one spell apiece -- for 100 gp x spell level, and buy them back for half that. That fits perfectly with the cost of writing materials to add a spell to a spellbook, the fee for copying a spell, the amount that a captured spellbook can be sold for, and the normal standard that items can be sold for half of list price.

Alternately, you could make spells available only in the form of scrolls, but let spells be prepared off of scrolls without erasing them.

quick_comment
2009-06-12, 11:34 AM
I'd prefer to houserule out the Wizard's free spells, though, because I don't like how Wizard is the one core class that has free equipment upgrades built into its progression.

Monk has tons of "equipment" upgrades.

Paladins have upgrades to their mount.

Druids and rangers have upgrades to their animals.

Devils_Advocate
2009-06-12, 01:52 PM
Monk has tons of "equipment" upgrades.
Um, no. Leveling in Monk upgrades a character, not her gear.

Your animal companion or special mount... can theoretically be sold. This would probably cause a paladin to fall, but a druid or ranger could theoretically just release his bond with his sold animal companion and then summon a new one.

But a horse isn't nearly as valuable as a spellbook is. I don't like a character getting so much free wealth.

I think that what really bugs me is the incongruity of it. You normally have to pay to add spells to your spellbook, but oh, when you level up, you get two spells for free! That makes it feel more like a(n inexplicably) free equipment upgrade. A druid's bond with her animal companion, on the other hand, isn't something you can purchase.

BobVosh
2009-06-12, 02:01 PM
I usually say its written in by whoever apprenticed them. After level 3 or so it is just assumed he picks up just enough of the compenents to start writting the spells in himself. Which is done through research each day during the off time.

Starbuck_II
2009-06-12, 02:30 PM
I think that what really bugs me is the incongruity of it. You normally have to pay to add spells to your spellbook, but oh, when you level up, you get two spells for free! That makes it feel more like a(n inexplicably) free equipment upgrade. A druid's bond with her animal companion, on the other hand, isn't something you can purchase.

So it is okay that Druids/Clerics always get free spells: But Wizards can't only sometimes?

Zeful
2009-06-12, 02:49 PM
And why not? They're Wizards. An extra couple of spells a level is cheap enough.
Or at least remove the free spells/level for PrCs, to make staying single classed worth thinking about

Wizards don't get free spells for any level other than Wizard levels, because those two free spell per level are part of their "Spellbook" class feature, which isn't advanced by any PrC (except maybe Geometer) since they give "Spells Known, if applicable" which refers to the Spells Known table of spontaneous casters (such as the Sorcerer and Bard).

Deepblue706
2009-06-12, 02:54 PM
Here's why Wizards shouldn't pay money for level-up spells:

They didn't pay for the ones they began with, either.

Eeezee
2009-06-12, 03:07 PM
Here's why Wizards shouldn't pay money for level-up spells:

They didn't pay for the ones they began with, either.

That's poor reasoning. A level 1 character was probably either given their first spellbook by a master or they did in fact write out the spells themselves at full cost before the game began.

Pharaoh's Fist
2009-06-12, 03:07 PM
That's poor reasoning. A level 1 character was probably either given their first spellbook by a master or they did in fact write out the spells themselves at full cost before the game began.

But they don't have that kind of money...

Deepblue706
2009-06-12, 03:26 PM
That's poor reasoning. A level 1 character was probably either given their first spellbook by a master or they did in fact write out the spells themselves at full cost before the game began.

That's not inherently true, so you have no right to declare that as an absolute. All we know is they get a spellbook for free at the beginning, with all spells their Intelligence grants them. They could have had a master's hand-me-down, sure. Or maybe they just bought a Learn Magic On-Your-Own from Ebay and researched all of the actual spells by using just the basic principles outlined in the text.

Whatever happens, this is a player decision, unless the DM overrides it. Sure, a DM can override the class and say to the Wizard "you have to pay for those new spells", but then he or she ought to say to the Fighter "you have to pay for the training necessary to improve your combat techniques". Which, incidentally, is how I think Hackmaster works.

Devils_Advocate
2009-06-12, 03:38 PM
So it is okay that Druids/Clerics always get free spells
Not really. They shouldn't get as many powerful spells as they do for free.


Here's why Wizards shouldn't pay money for level-up spells:

They didn't pay for the ones they began with, either.
Um, no one has to pay for their starting gear in-character because its acquisition is part of character background.

Arguably they ought to just get higher starting wealth instead of spells in particular.


But they don't have that kind of money...
Who's to say how much money a first-level wizard previously had? Why couldn't he have done enough work over his extra-long training time to pay for all that?

It costs 5 gp to get a wizard to cast a cantrip for you and 10 gp for a first level spell. Over several years, a 0 to 1st level wizard could prepare and cast a lot of spells.


Sure, a DM can override the class and say to the Wizard "you have to pay for those new spells", but then he or she ought to say to the Fighter "you have to pay for the training necessary to improve your combat techniques". Which, incidentally, is how I think Hackmaster works.
No, the Wizard is being charged to scribe spells, not just to learn them. Just learning how to prepare two new spells without having to make a Spellcraft check would be fine, so long as the Wizard didn't get free copies of them.

Pharaoh's Fist
2009-06-12, 03:42 PM
I'm fairly sure it breaks WLB by a lot.

Deepblue706
2009-06-12, 03:46 PM
Um, no one has to pay for their starting gear in-character because its acquisition is part of character background.

Arguably they ought to just get higher starting wealth instead of spells in particular.


Well, I'm just saying that it's a class feature. It's not exactly fair practice to charge people for BAB, Feats or Skills, yet simply killing things isn't inherently a good basis for improving upon any of these.

Higher starting wealth instead of spells would be an interesting approach. Take what you need, get back gold for what you don't...



No, the Wizard is being charged to scribe spells, not just to learn them. Just learning how to prepare two new spells without having to make a Spellcraft check would be fine, so long as the Wizard didn't get free copies of them.

And if he wants to Scribe a Scroll, sure, charge him. But "learning" them should make them go straight to his book.

Devils_Advocate
2009-06-12, 06:21 PM
Well, I'm just saying that it's a class feature.
But should it be?

The thing is, the spellbook as a whole isn't really a class feature, the two free spells per level are. But they're mixed in with normally scribed spells. It's weird, I tells ya.


And if he wants to Scribe a Scroll, sure, charge him. But "learning" them should make them go straight to his book.
Huh, so you don't even think that wizards should be charged for writing materials like they are now?

yilduz
2009-06-12, 06:32 PM
I think the "notes along the way" idea is best. Just combining ideas and notes that were written into the spellbook during the entire last level to come up with a couple of spells.

Also, there are other classes and prestige classes that get items... like the one who makes friends with elves... and... well... maybe some other ones, too... but the way I see it, the wizard is completely useless with a spellbook, so it doesn't make sense they should have to pay for at least some spells. Think about it, a wizard without a spellbook might as well be a really smart commoner. It would kind of be like forcing a fighter to pay for his feats, or forcing a barbarian to pay for rage.

arguskos
2009-06-12, 06:49 PM
The thing is, the spellbook as a whole isn't really a class feature, the two free spells per level are. But they're mixed in with normally scribed spells. It's weird, I tells ya.
I personally tend to deal with this with my own characters by saying that I have a spellbook, where I keep my scribed scrolls, and a "sketchbook", where I keep my notes and sketches for my level-up spells. I tend to then say that when my character finally put the final pieces of a new spell together, he copied his notes into his spellbook, forming the final spell.

See, there you go, a good way to fluff them that makes sense.

Dagren
2009-06-12, 07:05 PM
I personally tend to deal with this with my own characters by saying that I have a spellbook, where I keep my scribed scrolls, and a "sketchbook", where I keep my notes and sketches for my level-up spells. I tend to then say that when my character finally put the final pieces of a new spell together, he copied his notes into his spellbook, forming the final spell.

See, there you go, a good way to fluff them that makes sense.Sounds good, except that it doesn't really explain why he doesn't have to pay for the ink to copy the spell over like he normally does to learn a new spell.

yilduz
2009-06-12, 07:07 PM
Sounds good, except that it doesn't really explain why he doesn't have to pay for the ink to copy the spell over like he normally does to learn a new spell.

Maybe he learned the spell Create Magical Ink, which can only be cast twice per level.

arguskos
2009-06-12, 07:21 PM
Sounds good, except that it doesn't really explain why he doesn't have to pay for the ink to copy the spell over like he normally does to learn a new spell.
Maybe his studies have permitted him to understand it inherantly, meaning he doesn't need to ink for these? The idea is that a long-term study has permitted him to understand the spells SO well that he doesn't need to magical ink for them.

However, when learning a new spell from a scroll, he hasn't had a whole level or three to study it, so the magic in the ink replaces his learning.

yilduz
2009-06-12, 07:27 PM
Maybe his studies have permitted him to understand it inherantly, meaning he doesn't need to ink for these? The idea is that a long-term study has permitted him to understand the spells SO well that he doesn't need to magical ink for them.

However, when learning a new spell from a scroll, he hasn't had a whole level or three to study it, so the magic in the ink replaces his learning.

I like that explanation. The magical ink is just kind of a boost.

Dagren
2009-06-12, 08:20 PM
Maybe his studies have permitted him to understand it inherantly, meaning he doesn't need to ink for these? The idea is that a long-term study has permitted him to understand the spells SO well that he doesn't need to magical ink for them.

However, when learning a new spell from a scroll, he hasn't had a whole level or three to study it, so the magic in the ink replaces his learning.Yeah, I suppose I can get that. It's not hugely satisfying, but I think that's mostly because it's never defined what's so special about the ink in the first place.

Flickerdart
2009-06-12, 09:06 PM
Yeah, I suppose I can get that. It's not hugely satisfying, but I think that's mostly because it's never defined what's so special about the ink in the first place.
Nothing is special about the ink, it's all propaganda from Thay to keep its stranglehold on the magical market.

Deepblue706
2009-06-12, 10:26 PM
But should it be?

The thing is, the spellbook as a whole isn't really a class feature, the two free spells per level are. But they're mixed in with normally scribed spells. It's weird, I tells ya.

Oh, I think it's totally weird. It definitely lacks a proper justification. But my stance is that it shouldn't be meddled with, because it just seems like picking on the poor wizard. Despite his power and the lack of an in-character justification, I don't think it's really fair from a purely mechanical perspective.



Huh, so you don't even think that wizards should be charged for writing materials like they are now?

Perhaps my response was a bit unclear, there. I meant only in the case of "free" spells should they not be charged. My statement about scribing pertained to normal Scribe Scroll rules, and saying that if they're getting an immediately-usable item, such as a scroll, they ought to have paid for it. Otherwise, I think that a wizard's level-granted spells ought to be fully free.

AslanCross
2009-06-12, 10:56 PM
I'd think that the wizard's justifications for learning new spells are simply from continued study. Heck, even the metagame choices of which spells to learn make sense here.

<Fighter> So, what are you writing?
<Wizard> A spell I'm trying to reconstruct from memory. There were certain words and gestures that I couldn't grasp yet when the spell was explained at the academy. I think I get them now.
<Fighter> Oh. What's it do?
<Wizard> I don't think I need to get into specifics. Let's just say it summons tentacles to grab enemies.
<Fighter> Sounds nifty.
<Wizard> Given our uh, recurring problem of getting mobbed my orcs, I thought it would be good for us to resort to spells that are more tactically-viable.

Sstoopidtallkid
2009-06-12, 11:31 PM
The problem is the 100 GP ink. The actual spell is reasonable for the Wizard to learn, after all, he's gained a level, he should get spells. The Ink is just odd, though. Maybe charge for the Ink.

arguskos
2009-06-13, 12:04 AM
The problem is the 100 GP ink. The actual spell is reasonable for the Wizard to learn, after all, he's gained a level, he should get spells. The Ink is just odd, though. Maybe charge for the Ink.
Why? Do we charge the Fighter for his Power Attack? Let's charge a 1 gp fee whenever he Power Attacks. /sarcasm

Or, when I drop the sarcasm, we can see that the idea of the two free spells really can make sense with little effort. Use my idea: that long-term study embeds the magic in the wizard's mind, but with purchased spells, the ink must serve as a "magical glue" of sorts, letting him duplicate the effect of long-term study.

deuxhero
2009-06-13, 12:20 AM
The wizard enters a strange mood (http://dwarf.lendemaindeveille.com/index.php/Strange_mood) and uses materials normally unable to write in spell books?

Devils_Advocate
2009-06-13, 01:29 PM
but the way I see it, the wizard is completely useless with a spellbook
True, charging her for ink to scribe all of her spells would make a Wizard unusually dependent on treasure. But, see, she is already. It's just that the treasure is in the form of a spellbook, and she gets upgrades to it automatically. She's still screwed if she loses it. A Wizard is just especially dependent on a piece of equipment in a way that other classes aren't. So spellbooks make Wizards weird like that regardless.


that long-term study embeds the magic in the wizard's mind, but with purchased spells, the ink must serve as a "magical glue" of sorts, letting him duplicate the effect of long-term study.
That would make sense if a Wizard got free Spell Mastery of her spells gained from leveling up. But she doesn't. They get added to her spellbook exactly like copied spells. The only difference is that they get added inexplicably free.

TSED
2009-06-13, 01:52 PM
The wizard enters a strange mood (http://dwarf.lendemaindeveille.com/index.php/Strange_mood) and uses materials normally unable to write in spell books?

But you can only enter one strange mood per lifetime!

Josh the Aspie
2009-06-13, 03:46 PM
The way you are running your campaign, you might want to look into the variant Training rules on page 197 of the DMG. It has rules for being trained to learn new things, and for doing research. If you are going to charge the wizards for their spells, it would make sense to make other characters pay to receive the training to get their next class ability too. It also fits thematically with what you've already discussed for the training they have to go through.

arguskos
2009-06-13, 05:25 PM
That would make sense if a Wizard got free Spell Mastery of her spells gained from leveling up. But she doesn't. They get added to her spellbook exactly like copied spells. The only difference is that they get added inexplicably free.
Look, you asked for a reason, I provided one that works better than most anything else others have given. If you really have something against the idea of two free spells, change it so that wizards don't gain any new spells upon leveling up and call it a day. Look, easy fix that makes the class logically consistent. :smallsmile: Everybody wins.

yilduz
2009-06-13, 06:27 PM
Look, you asked for a reason, I provided one that works better than most anything else others have given. If you really have something against the idea of two free spells, change it so that wizards don't gain any new spells upon leveling up and call it a day. Look, easy fix that makes the class logically consistent. :smallsmile: Everybody wins.

Except the wizard. >_>

:smalltongue:

woodenbandman
2009-06-13, 07:06 PM
I believe that the appropriate question for this is "why does ink cost 100 gp for only enough to fill up a page with?"

That's ridiculous.

arguskos
2009-06-13, 07:12 PM
Except the wizard. >_>

:smalltongue:
I agree, which is why this conversation has taken the plunge into the deep end of inanity. :smallsigh: Oh well, I'll keep my wildly unbalanced classes and features, and balance in-game, where I always have.

Devils_Advocate
2009-06-13, 09:10 PM
I believe that the appropriate question for this is "why does ink cost 100 gp for only enough to fill up a page with?"
Well, see, magical information doesn't like being copied. Translating it from one form to another tends to destroy the old form, whether you're sticking it into your memory from a scroll, transferring to a scroll from your memory, or "copying" it from a scroll or from your memory onto the world by casting it. So it's only by using a special ink made from the blood of dragons that wizards are able to record spells in a way that keeps them from vanishing off the page when prepared. This ink is annoyingly expensive, but it's the best method yet hit upon.

It's also possible to make a magic book that holds the writing without the ink, but the book itself is very expensive.