Guild of Mages

Continuing with my musings on Class Guilds, I turn my attention to magic users. To me, a mage’s guild is a gentleman’s club of sorts, where wizards and their ilk can meet on somewhat neutral grounds despite being in fierce competition otherwise – a place where disputes between individuals who wield enormous power might be defused before they spill into the general community and hurt all wizards or start witch hunts.

Another issue arises with the introduction of the “Aesoterium”, a store for buying magical items that is open not only to guild members but (at increased rates) even to non-members. I know there are a lot of opinions about whether magical items should be for sale at all, and if so how and where. I strongly believe so, as long as the game gives the ability to formally create them in some way which has a measured cost.

For scrolls, potions and similar items there is an easily discernible cost – the money invested by the mage on creating the item, the resources that were spent making it and a premium for the time and risk required simply to learn how to perform this feat. I see no reason why wizards would not supplement their income and fund their experiments by brewing potions and making scrolls and selling these – and so, in my campaign world, they do.

I don’t usually allow sales of items that are not one-use, however. These items should have a more unique feel, to my mind. Of course they are both bought and sold; everything is, as everything has a price. It’s just that I think this is more about having them commissioned or private deals away from prying eyes. Also, my permanent magic items commonly have severe drawbacks or involve some sort of rather dark magic, which means they often need to be sold covertly.

My rules for the Mage’s Guild can be downloaded here, or in the Library. To clarify, a laboratory or library is used in LotFP to create potions or scrolls during downtime.

Spell Gems

I’ve been toying with some thoughts about the “Vancian Magic” system of D&D; having come back to this grandmother of all games recently, I still love the simplicity of it, but it has its limitations and since I’m currently playing with lower-level groups many of them are rearing their ugly heads…

I did try to give some more options to the Magic-User through my Weird Magic system, and I like the risk and randomness this system adds to the mix. I did however also like some thoughts on G+ (by mr Greg Christopher) about spells as equipment and the various trade-offs between placing powers in gear as opposed to attaching them to certain characters.

I’ve come up with an option that I will start playing around with in my current campaign; it’s not terribly intrusive, and could be cleared out if it doesn’t work well enough, but I like the feel of it. Basically, it allows wizards the option to buy Spell Gems, items that let them cast their memorized spells without losing them from their memory. The price is hefty (about 1 000 sp/gp, depending on your standard, per spell level they are able to supply) and availability is still under the control of the GM. They cannot be crafted in the same way as scrolls and potions – they are craftable, but require investment in a Gem Cutting skill which means only specialists can do the work without significant loss of materials.


An item like this serves as a complement to scrolls; it seems more powerful, but there is a deceptive difference – scrolls expand the repertoar of the wizard, since he/she can still use scrolls with unmemorized spells. These gems empower the wizard to cast more spells per day, but only from his selected setup of memorized formulae.

I took the chance to add a more traditional magic item in the form of an Elven Spell Gem as well, while I was at it – more or less same function, but rechargeable (and, of course, effectively priceless due to it).

This still needs some playtesting, but the document so far can be downloaded here and in the Library. I’ll get back to this after I’ve tried it out some more.

The Almighty Divine Scroll

I love scrolls almost as much as I love potions. I can’t count how many times a scroll has saved the day for me as a player, or for my players when I’m a GM. “Hey, I’ve got this scroll of passwall here… do I have time to read it before the ceiling crushes us..?”

One thing that’s always puzzled me, and where I don’t really have a good answer for my players, is the difference between arcane and divine scrolls and the almost universal power of divine scrolls. Mechanically, everything’s fine, but I have always struggled with finding a rationale for it. I usually just wind up saying “well, that’s the way it works” and moving on. Perhaps someone could give me some useful suggestions?


The first thing is how a divine scroll doesn’t require Read Magic to understand. In that case… who can read it? My take is that only clerics can, but exactly why is harder to find a reasonable explanation for. Is there a secret language? Maybe, but how can it be common to each and every cleric of every faith? For that matter, how come your language skills do not influence this? Is it perhaps some sort of innate magic? It might be possible, but it just doesn’t feel right for the cleric class.

My next problem deals with the universality of these scrolls. You might find a scroll explicitly created by a follower of another deity, quite possibly the follower of your own patron deity’s mortal enemy. The scroll, however, is neutral… the prayers and symbols on it somehow follow some sort of generalized clerical magic and are untainted by whoever wrote them. It just doesn’t sit right with me… how can a scroll penned by an evil follower of the chaotic gods not be a foul thing?

Some fixes are of course easy – I could just impose a lot of restrictions on scrolls to suit my suggestions above – but I don’t want to do that! I still love scrolls, and I’d hate to take away from their usefulness. For now, I guess I will keep saying “because I said so”, but I’d love to get some good suggestions…