Magic Research

Contents

Gaining Research Points

The following activities are common ways for a wizard to acquire research points. Others may exist in particular campaigns, and a dungeon master might choose to give a lump sum of them to a wizard for notable arcane accomplishments. In most cases, however, the wizard is going to have to spend his time and gold in improving his mastery of the eldritch arts.

Solitary Research

A wizard may work alone, poring over his spellbook and conducting experiments suitable to his goals. This is a relatively cheap enterprise, and requires one research month to perform, counting as an Enlightenment source of research points. To perform practical research costs nothing, as the wizard can make do with the materials and tools he already has to hand. Theoretical studies cost 250 gp for new equipment and reagents, and experiments into the fundamental principles of their magic cost 500 gp for the exotic components required.

Practical research is the safest and most often successful form of study. The wizard works to refine his understanding of his existing powers, exploring details of his art and firming his grasp on his present abilities. The discoveries involved aren't usually revolutionary, but they tend to be reliably slow, incremental improvements. To perform practical research, the wizard rolls an Intelligence (Arcana) ability check with a DC of 13; if successful they earn 1 research point. On a natural 1, there has been an accident, and they must roll on the mishap table for practical research.

Theoretical studies are more daring, seeking out the deeper mysteries of magic and pushing forward into forms of sorcery unfamiliar to the Wizard. The results for such studies are much less reliably useful, but they also tend to be far more interesting than that of simple practical study. The same Intelligence (Arcana) ability check is rolled, but with DC of 15. If successful, 2 research points are earned. On a natural 1, the Wizard must roll on the mishap table for theoretical studies.

Fundamental research is the most dangerous variety of study, and involves meddling with the basic forces that underpin the sorcerer’s magic. Accidents happen when fundamental study is involved, and these mischances can be lethal. Still, the rewards of success are powerful truths about the underlying nature of the caster’s powers. The Intelligence (Arcana) ability check is rolled with a DC of 17, and grants 6 research points if successful. On a natural 1 a mishap on the fundamental research table will result.

Most arcanists prefer to conduct their research in proper laboratories rather than in rented inn rooms and secluded caves. Such facilities are detailed in the Sanctums chapter, and give substantial bonuses to the ability checks.

If a mishap occurs during the research, it will crop up randomly at some point during the month. The Dungeon Master is encouraged to spring them on the party with blithe disregard for convenience, even if it might ostensibly derail their current activities. Sorcerous fallout is just one of the occupational hazards of consorting with experimental magi.

Research Mishaps

Research Mishaps
Roll Practical Theoretical Fundamental
1 Accidental curse:
-1 to hit rolls for a month
Serious curse:
-3 to hit rolls for a month
Dire curse:
all to hit rolls at Disadvantage
2 Soul debilitation:
-1 maximum hp/level for a month
Enfeebled Soul:
Half max hp for a month
Wasted Soul:
Max hp of 1/level for a month
3 Pact damage:
1st level spell slot lost for a month
Broken Pact:
Highest level spell slot lost for a month
Betrayed Pact:
One spell slot of every level lost for a month
4 Poisoned self:
Save vs. poison or incapacitated for a week
Poisoned soul:
Save vs. poison or incapacitated for month
Poisoned mind:
Save vs. poison or lose 2d6% of your total XP
5 Tender burns:
+1 damage from all sources for month
Scarring burns:
Save vs. poison or gain permanent scar
Terrible burns:
Gain permanent scar
6 Overwork:
10% chance of spell failure for a month
Exhaustion:
25% chance of spell failure for a month
Debilitation:
75% chance of spell failure for a month
7 Lab Accident:
Repairs cost 1d10 x 10 gold pieces
Lab Ruin:
Repairs cost 1d10 x 100 gold pieces
Lab Destruction:
Repairs cost 1d10 x 1000 gold pieces
8 Clumsy Apprentice:
One apprentice incapacitated for 1d4 months
Dead Apprentice:
Save vs.poison or apprentice dies
Obliterated Apprentice:
Nothing is left of one apprentice
9 Backlash:
One 1st level spell from your book hits you, nosave
Eruption:
One random spell from your book hits you, no save
Catastrophe:
Three random spells from your book hit you, no save
10 Scorched Book:
Your spellbook needs a week’s worth of repairs before it can be used again.
Ruined book:
Your spell book is destroyed
Maddening insight:
Gain 8 research points, insane for 1month

Group Research

Most magical traditions profit by group study, and more than one cabal, school, or academy has been founded by a band of wizards who wish to seek enlightenment together. By combining their efforts, they are more likely to produce fruitful results.

When researching as a group, a single mage must be appointed the chief researcher. He can enlist a number of assistants equal to half his maximum retainers, rounded up, plus one more for every four full levels he possesses. Charismatic sorcerers have a much easier time guiding and organizing their often-prickly colleagues than those wizards less talented at interpersonal relations. The other mages must be at least somewhat close to the chief researcher’s level of skill, or their insights are too trivial or awesome to be useful to him; no assistant can be more than 3 levels apart from the chief researcher. Thus, a 7th level wizard could be assisted by a 4th level or a 10th level colleague, but those outside that range are too trifling or too profound to share the same line of research.

Once the research group is assembled, the chief researcher chooses the type of study to be conducted practical, theoretical, or fundamental, just as if he were studying alone. Every participant must pay the normal fee for that type of research. All of them may then roll prime attribute checks as if they were studying alone but if any of them succeed, then all of them gain the benefits of success. Mishaps may occur individually to researchers, but even then, they may gain the benefits of the research if another participant rolls well.

Wizards of different traditions can work together in this research, but it is more difficult. Participants not of the same path as the chief researcher suffer an additional -2 penalty on the check roll.

Sorcerous Tutelage

Tutelage Benefits
Teacher Level Research Points Gained
1 1
2 2
3 4
4 6
5 9
6 12
7 16
8 20
9 25
10 30
11 36
12 42
13 49
14 56
15 64
16 72
17 81
18 90
19 100

A sorcerer may instruct a colleague or apprentice in the finer points of magical manipulation, sharing the truths they have learned. A mage of any level may instruct another mage, though most wizards are far too proud to take tutelage from those who are greatly their inferior. Most such instruction requires significant payment in time, favors, or coin, sometimes costing as much as a thousand gold pieces per level of the tutor.

A tutor can grant the student a certain number of research points worth of Enlightenment based on their own level, as given in the following chart.

Mages may learn from any other magic-user, even those of different paths. The drastically different approaches can be fruitful in sparking new ideas and enlightenment in a questing wizard. Giving or receiving tutelage requires one research month per three levels of the teacher, rounded up, and counts as an Enlightenment source of research points.

Studying Spellbooks

An arcanist who gets his hands on another sorcerer’s spellbook can study it just as if he was receiving tutelage from the author himself. Naturally, if he has already received personal instruction from the author, the spellbook will not improve his understanding. The points gained are treated as Reference points, as the arcanist must continue to consult the book now and then to make use of its insights.

A spellbook may be worth fewer points if it was scribed at an earlier stage of a wizard’s enlightenment and has not been updated since. In that case, more recent spellbooks would simply grant the difference in value.

Mages guard their spellbooks jealously, and not just because of their value. A wizard who studies the spellbook of another sorcerer can learn the secret details of his pacts and techniques. So long as the possessor takes a half hour or so of study a week to keep the knowledge fresh, he gains a +4 bonus on all saving throws to resist the spellbook author’s spells. Only magic users can so benefit by study of a spellbook.

Studying a spellbook requires only a few days if the author’s level is equal or less than the student’s, and may be done while the mage undertakes other activities. If it is the book of a mightier wizard, it requires a research month. This process is substantially faster than personal instruction because a tutor is taking care not to reveal his own sorcery’s deepest secrets. In addition, the spellbook itself is an artifact of arcane power that can be used without requiring an Enlightened grasp of all its constituents.

Building Artifices and Authoring Tomes

While the process is quite costly, a wizard can gain more power by crafting tools, shrines, implements of sorcerous study, and tomes that recapitulate their arcane lore. Most of the occult volumes in existence were authored by wizards who sought to perfect their understanding by ordering it in a clear, organized way. In the same fashion, the bizarre lab equipment and strange devices beloved by sorcerers are usually built so as to assist in experimentation and ease the development of new magic.

The specific nature and description of the artifice is up to the player. Such objects never have a practical magical effect or particularly useful enchantment to them they are simply tools, books, and devices useful for a wizard’s studies. The Resources chapter at the end of the book contains some tools for generating such.

To fabricate such things, the wizard decides whether to make a practical, a theoretical, or a fundamental artifice, just as if he were conducting private study. The Intelligence (Arcana) difficulty checks are the same, at the same difficulty, and the same modifiers apply to both. On a critical mishap, a roll is made on the appropriate mishap table for the type of study involved. Artificing requires a research month to execute.

Practical artificing costs 100 gp per caster level, theoretical artificing costs 150 gp per level, and fundamental artificing costs 225 gp per level. Successful practical artificing grants 1 research point per caster level, theoretical artificing grants 2 per level, and fundamental artificing grants 6 per level. Failure means the gold and effort are wasted. These points are Reference points, as the artifice or tome must be retained to make use of it. Theoretically, a crafter could devise an artifice and then hand it to someone else to exploit, but few wizards are so charitable.

Extremely wealthy cabals may conduct group artificing, wherein an entire council of magi come together to build some impressive work. While this vastly increases the chances of success, it is surpassingly expensive, since each participant must pay for their own research- and on completion, only one artifice is created. All the participants can share its use if they so choose, but if it is stolen or destroyed, all of them lose the research points it granted.

Finding Arcane Treasures

Naturally, once a wizard dies, his library and laboratory fittings are prey for more lively hands. An adventuring wizard can often hope to find dusty tomes of forgotten lore and shining implements of enlightenment among the personal effects of those evil souls he has liberated from life. It usually requires no more than a few days to appraise the contents of such occult tomes, or learn how to use a new tool for one’s private studies. Once that is done, the sorcerer gains the item’s research points as a Reference source. Wizards can automatically identify magically-useful artifacts and tomes with only a cursory inspection. The arcane resonance is obvious to their trained senses, and no special detection magic or linguistic talent is required.

Apprentices and Helpers

A powerful sorcerer will often take one or more apprentices to aid his studies. Even if they are too ignorant to be true partners in research, they can perform the basic tasks and manual preparation for the rites that might otherwise occupy the wizard’s time. These apprentices may either be 0-level novices presently being trained in magic, specialist lab assistants, or else full-fledged magic-users with experience levels of their own. Less educated souls are of no use in a magician’s laboratory, though a wizard can still get use out of assistants who do not belong to his own path of magic.

A wizard can be assisted by a number of apprentices equal to half their allowed retainers, rounded down, plus one more for every four full experience levels they possess. If this total exceeds their actual retainer maximum, the excess apprentices are simply lab helpers who will prove useless for any activity not related to magical research. Other apprentices might qualify as full-fledged retainers depending on their relationship with the sorcerer.

Apprentices make every research check easier, whether in studying, fashioning magic items, or developing spells. For every apprentice assisting a wizard, their Intelligence (Arcana) check is granted a +1 bonus on the roll. Helping a master uses up the apprentice’s own research time, and he or she cannot perform their own activities while assisting their master. Using apprentice labor does not increase the costs involved in the check, though they may require ordinary room and board along with the other expenses incidental to keeping a minion.

Apprentices will usually require steady instruction if they are to remain in a wizard’s service. Traditionally, at least three research months a year must be dedicated to teaching them. A wizard can instruct one apprentice at a time, though more can be taught in the same research month if a specialized classroom is available. Twenty four months of instruction is usually sufficient to turn a 0-level human into a 1st level magic-user of the path taught by their master. Such novices often sally forth to make their own way in the world and are usually swiftly replaced. Still, even accomplished wizards can remain to aid a powerful master, often labouring in exchange for funding and facilities in which to conduct their own research.

One other motivation is strong for some less-idealistic masters; because the master knows every detail of the apprentice’s training, he always has the +4 bonus to saving throws against the apprentice’s spells that others can only acquire from possessing a mage’s spellbook. Some teachers appreciate the benefits of having magi around who are less capable of resisting their coercion.

Spending Research Points

Once a wizard has a healthy stock of research points acquired either through diligent study or vigorous theft of arcane artifacts, they are going to want to make use of them. The following options are some of the more common uses for a sage’s accumulated erudition. Unless specified otherwise, they require no particular facilities or special equipment. Most accomplished wizards find it useful to build a sanctum for this work, however, and the details of that are given in the following chapter.

Spell Acquisition for Magic-Users

Learning Spells
Spell Level RP Costs Gold Cost
1 5 100
2 10 200
3 20 400
4 30 600
5 40 1000
6 50 1400
7 70 2200
8 80 2800
9 90 4400

Acquiring new magic is more than simply a matter of copying down a scroll or inscribing a few pages of text in a spellbook. Gaining magic is a hard, personal struggle with the ineffable powers of the arcane. Every ounce of sorcerous power is won through pacts, rites, enlightenments, and personal costs unknown to common men and women. Research points can be spent to represent that kind of effort and to acquire new spells for the caster’s use.

Newly-created magic-users and elves may choose two first level spells and one second level spell. This lore is the product of their apprenticeship, and any further spells must be discovered through the expenditure of research points.

To acquire a new spell, the mage must spend one research month and an amount of research points and gold as given on the table below. At the end of the research month, he finishes adding the spell. He may only add spells from his class spell list in this way, and he may not add a spell he is not yet capable of casting. He does not require an existing copy of the spell to learn it- its existence on his class spell list is enough.

Magic-users and elves cannot add spells to their collection simply by copying them from elsewhere or learning them from another teacher. Every spell requires a deeply personal understanding of the fundamental forces involved, along with elaborate sequences of purificational rites, occult pacts, negotiations with semi-sentient geomantic powers, and intricate ceremonies. A spell can be mastered only after the correct combinations of disciplines, austerities, and propitiations are developed for each individual caster.

Scrolls are not particularly useful to a mage who desires to learn a new spell, as the amount of effort necessary to reverse-engineer the rituals and pacts that went into producing them is prohibitive. They cannot be used to gain new spells or acquire research points.

Creating Magic Items

Granted a wizard has access to the correct facilities for the work as described in the Sanctums chapter, he may venture to fashion items of powerful magic. In most cases, this is a dangerous, expensive, demanding proposition, and the Dungeon Master is well within his rights to make it even more so- or ban it entirely if it does not fit the feel of his game.

Magic-users cannot create clerical magic items. Rules for the creation of divinely-empowered items are beyond the scope of these guidelines, but as a rule of thumb, if it is an item only a cleric can use, a magic user can’t make it. Other items can still be created, including swords, armor, or gear that is unusable by an ordinary wizard. Fashioning scrolls and potions can be done with relatively primitive equipment and requires no special facilities. The crafting of more sophisticated items demands specific laboratories and tools as described in the Sanctums chapter.

To create a magic item, the mage checks the chart below to find their necessary minimum level and research point cost, and then must spend one month and the listed amount of gold to undertake the work. For potions and scrolls, roll 1d20; on a natural 20, the process is spoilt and the result is a potion of poison or a cursed scroll. The caster may succeed in a prime attribute check to realize that the magic has gone awry; otherwise, he will not notice until the item is actually used or analyzed with appropriate magic.

Magic Item Cost Table
Item Type Level Diff. RP Cost Gold Coast Examples and Notes
Common Potion 2 +1 2 100 Healing, Poison
Uncommon Potion 5 +3 4 500 Extra-Healing, Heroism
Rare Potion 7 +5 16 1000 Invulnerability, Dragon Control
Priceless Potion 11 +9 32 10000 Longevity
Scroll, Spell 1 +spell level 1/spell level Spell Level * Min, caster level * 100
Scroll Ward 5 +4 5 2000
Ring, Protection 5 + bonus bonus squared + 10 Bonus squared * 5000
Ring, Minor 7 +5 25 20000 Fire Resistance, Invisibility, Water Walking
Ring, Major 11 +7 50 50000 Regeneration, Spell Storing, Spell Turning
Wand 5 +5 10 7500 Any core wand
Staff 9 +9 25 50000 Staff of Power, Staff of Wizardry
Rod 7 +7 10 10000 Rod of Cancellation
Weapon * +Bonus * 2 Bonus Squared * 6 Bonus Squared * 5000
Armour or Shield * +Bonus * 2 Bonus Squared * 6 Bonus Squared * 2500 x 4 gold cost for plate, x 2 for chain
Misc. Petty 3 +3 10 4000 Elven Boots, Rope of Climbing
Misc. Minor 7 +5 25 20000 Bag of Holding, Broom of Flying, Gauntlets of Ogre power
Misc. Major 11 +7 50 50000 Girdle of Giant Strength, Mirror of Life Trapping
* The minimum level for crafting magical weaponry or armor is usually equal to 3 plus twice their bonus. Weapons or armor with special abilities pay for their enchantment plus an additional sum equal to the value of the effect if it were a separate miscellaneous magical item.

For other magical items, the researcher must pass an attribute check with the listed penalty to the roll. On a failure, the process cannot be completed that month and must be prolonged into the next at a cost of one-quarter the original gold price. If the mage gives up the effort or cannot afford to continue, his research points are refunded but his gold is lost. A natural 20 on the attribute check requires a roll on the fundamental research mishap table and the complete failure of the project. The wizard retains his research points but loses all gold invested.

The costs listed below assume that the magic item being created is of a known, standard type such as appears in the Dungeon Master core book. If the magic item is new or of some exceptionally exotic variety, prices in research points, time, and gold will at a minimum double. After the first example of the item is created, further specimens can be constructed at normal costs.

The costs also assume an item of “average” usefulness in the class. If the Dungeon Master finds the item to be exceptionally powerful or useful, the price might be doubled. Conversely, if it’s an anemic example of sorcery that has only limited utility, the prices might be halved. Final costs are always at the dungeon master’s discretion.

The creation of magic items requires the genius of a single wizard to conduct the work, and cannot normally be performed as a group effort. A wizard may take advantage of the assistance of his apprentices, however, and gain the benefit of any special facilities available to ease the process.

Creating New Spells

Designing new spells is a fraught undertaking for a wizard. It is expensive, unpredictable, and dangerous. Creating a new spell requires the right facilities as given in the Sanctums chapter and the successful completion of two steps.

First, the new spell must be approved by the Dungeon master. The end of this chapter includes a lengthy discussion of the concerns around new magic and some guidelines for avoiding problematic dweomers. If the Dungeon master is not comfortable with the introduction of a new spell, then no degree of sorcerous prowess is going to be sufficient to develop it.

If the Dungeon master approves of the spell, the fortunate sorcerer may spend a research month creating it. Doing so requires twice the gold and research point expenditure that would be demanded for learning an existing spell, and a prime attribute check at a penalty equal to the spell’s level. If the check is a failure, research can be continued next month at one-quarter of the original gold piece cost and no further research point cost. If the research is interrupted, the entire process fails and must be restarted from the beginning. If a natural 20 is rolled on the prime attribute check, disaster strikes and the process fails with a roll on the fundamental research mishap table. The wizard keeps his research points but loses his gold.

As with creating magic items, developing new spells is an enterprise for a single wizard. Apprentices can be of assistance in the process, however.

Fashioning Undead, Golems, and Abominations Against Nature

Wizards have the deplorable habit of creating hideous affronts to natural law. These creatures are often fashioned to be servants, bodyguards or sources of useful magical components. Just as often, a dead wizard’s leavings prove to be even more trouble than the living mage.

For building a magical being, the wizard must first develop a plan for its construction. A mage cannot design a creature with more hit dice than he has experience levels. This design requires one research month per hit die of the creature and a monthly expenditure of 2,000 gold pieces and research points equal to the creature’s hit dice. Each month requires a successful Intelligence (Arcana) check at a penalty equal to the creature’s hit dice. Failure indicates that no progress is made that month, and the gold is wasted, though research points are retained. Once a wizard has completed a plan for a specific type of creature he need not repeat the process to create further specimens. It’s possible that wizards might find the plans for certain creatures among the plunder of lost sorcerous caches.

Once he has the plan, he must then breed or build the creature. For monstrous hybrids of nature, he must acquire the parent beings, while undead or golems necessitate the accumulation of sufficient raw materials, corpses, and sculpted parts. Assuming those parts can be obtained, he may build the creature at a cost of 1,000 gold pieces and 1 research point per hit die. A final Intelligence (Arcana) check is rolled at a penalty equal to the creature’s hit dice. If successful, one adult being is produced. On a failure, the effort was a waste, and new parents, components, and expenditures must be found to start anew. A wizard may attempt to build as many hit dice worth of minions in one research month as he has caster levels.

Magical constructs such as undead or golems are naturally obedient to their creators unless subverted by some other power. Living creatures, however, are under no special obligation to their maker. Still, some wizards prefer such minions due to their ability to naturally breed more of their kind, and rely upon charms and enchantments to hold their loyalty when training cannot suffice. Some attempts have been made to breed entities that are naturally loyal to their creator, but the results have been mixed at best. Most magical entities prove to reproduce very slowly, or are prey to strange maladies and deficiencies of design.

The above guidelines are for creating magical beings from the existing list of entities in the Dungeon Master core book. Dungeon Masters should feel free to increase the cost and difficulty for building particularly potent minions who have more power than their hit dice might suggest. Building entirely new species of creatures will likely cost at least double the usual prices, even assuming the Dungeon Master approves of the new form of life.

Summary: Generating Magical Research Points

Choose a single type of monthly research and pay the cost for it. Then roll to see if successful. If you roll a 1 then consult the mishap table. If successful you gain a number of research points of the type specified by the activity (Enlightenment or Reference).

Daily tasks are actually free and fitted into quiet periods during the month.

Solitary Research

(Enlightenment - Monthly)

Per research month choose a type of research

Practical = 0gp, 1rp (Intelligence (Arcana) DC 13, mishap on 1)

Theoretical = 250gp, 2rp (Intelligence (Arcana) DC 15, mishap on 1)

Fundamental = 500gp, 6rp (Intelligence (Arcana) DC 17, mishap on 1)

Group Research

(Enlightenment - Monthly)

All participants pay the same cost as solitary, but if one succeeds then all succeed (a significant reduction to chance of failure)

Tutelage

(Enlightenment - Monthly)

Takes one research month per three levels of the teacher, rounded up.

Cost 1000gp per level of Teacher

i.e. Level 7 Teacher will train for 3 research months and give 16rp of enlightenment

Studying Spellbooks

(Reference - Daily or Monthly)

Same as being tutelage at the level the Wizard wrote the spellbook but without the cost.

Takes a few days if reader is higher level than the spellbook, it can be done whilst doing monthly based research.

If reader is a lower level than the spellbook a research month is required.

No cost.

Building artifices and authoring tomes

(Reference - Monthly)

Per research month choose a type of research: -

Practical = 100gp, 1rp/level (Intelligence (Arcana) DC 13, mishap on 1)

Theoretical = 150gp, 2rp/level (Intelligence (Arcana) DC 15, mishap on 1)

Fundamental = 225gp, 6rp/level (Intelligence (Arcana) DC 17, mishap on 1)

Group Building artifices and authoring tomes

(Reference - Monthly)

All pay the same cost as solitary, but if one succeeds then all succeed (reduces chance of failure)

Arcane Treasures

(Reference - Daily)

Takes a few days and you gain research points from the item. It can be done while doing monthly based research.

Apprentices

(Bonus to roll - Monthly)

Each apprentice grants -1 bonus to the roll, max apprentices is half allowed retainers. The do not add to the research cost, but do incur costs potentially for room and board / living expenses.

At least three research months a year for each apprentice in training however. Apprentices will leave after they accrue 24 months of instruction. Multiple apprentices can be trained at the same time if facilities are available.

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