Wizard spell progression

The other day I started toying with the idea of having spell levels map directly on spellcaster levels, and streamline the number of spells per level as well. This way we would have level 5 MU casting level 5 spells. Except “the other day” was weeks ago, stuff is keeping me extra-busy till september.

There are a number of ways to get there:

The Ur-d20/Otherguy way (as it was allegedly used in early d20 system development and also by another guy can’t remember that comes from the Internets, but I forgot much about both systems so details have been reworked)
Split each spell level in two, obtaining typically 18 levels. Each spell level usually have less powerful and more powerful spells, so it would be just matter of splitting the spell lists: I’d put magic missile on level 1, sleep on level 2, mirror images on level 3, web on level 4, fireball on level 5, lightning bolt on level 6 and so on. This can take a while tho, and would make things confusing (“is that spell level 5 in the old or new system?”).

Spell progression rules: 1 spell a day for each spell level equal or less than character level, plus 1 spell a day for each level equal to character level -5, plus 1 spell a day for each level equal to character level -10 and so on. This keeps the overall spell progression remarkably close to the original

lvl 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 and so on
 1  1
 2  1 1
 3  1 1 1
 4  1 1 1 1
 5  1 1 1 1 1
 6  2 1 1 1 1 1
 7  2 2 1 1 1 1 1
 8  2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1
 9  2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1
10  2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1
11  3 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 1 1


Exactly as above, but spell levels are simply doubled. In addition spells are split in traditions or some kind of affinity (fire, illusion) or some schools do a better job at teaching them or some pupils at learning them. Depending on these relationships a character can access some level 2 spell at character level 3 instead of 4: overall similar to the above, but allows for greater character customization and wanting to recover lost tomes describing better ways of casting spells, or looking for better teachers. Apprenticeship is not only for pre level 9 mages (as suggested by Mentzer).

Powerful mages
I reworked the MU level progression so that they would need as many XP to gain character level 2  as they would need to be able to cast spell level 2 and so on. A horribly steep progression indeed, needing 4 times as many XP at each level (simply doubling would keep the magic user 1 level beyond other characters). Which is kind annoying as the mage progression loses smoothness and, in addition, HP would be in average lower in systems that reroll all the HD at level gain and take the new total only if it’s better. In addition the caster level would be half for the same amount of XP unless we corrected by doubling it. So I opted for a progression that would allow earlier access and more hp to compensate for lack of casting level. A table for OD&D might look like this:

HD       XP 1 2 3 4 5 6
1d6       0 1
2d6      5k 2 1
3d6     15k 4 2 1
4d6     45k 4 4 2 1
5d6    135k 4 4 4 2 1
6d6    405k 4 4 4 4 2 1
7d6    810k 4 4 4 4 4 2

So, less xp to get high level spells, with overall marginally higher hits and way less powerful level-bound effects like fireball damage.

Don’t touch anything and let MU rock the world, casting more powerful spells earlier
MUs are so flimsy I actually am considering using this for a change: at level 1, magic missile, level 2 levitation, level 9 meteor swarm. Warriors build fortresses, mages make stars fall.

Bin everything and use the awesome system from the first edition of the Empire of the Petal Throne
Which is way clunkier but way, way cooler and more colorful. ‘Nuff said.

And now it’s time to eat lunch and get ready for tonight’s Bad Religion gig. 🙂

One thought on “Wizard spell progression

  1. In his _Book of Experimental Might_, Monte Cook has spells equal the level they are cast at. As I recall he provides the core spells broken out into lists by level, which may save you a bit of work.

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