Rolemaster : Learning Spells

Copyright Thomas A Stobie © 2003

Edited by Peter Mork for The Guild Companion

"his ornate reddish bottle contains a fire spirit that will assist individuals who know the Magician Base List, Fire Law"

Table of Contents


Introduction

As a gamemaster, I have found it useful to address a number of aspects of learning spells. This article presents a number of new options applicable to a variety of campaign settings.

I introduce the concept of restricted spell lists, which a character can develop but at higher cost than closed lists. I discuss classifying the spell learning capabilities of non-spell users. I discuss dealing with worlds where magic is easier or harder to learn than normal. I provide expanded spell list development point cost tables to handle these concepts. I discuss a number of new spell learning talents, flaws, training options, and magic items.

In this article, I assume that spell-users spend their idle time studying their current lists, meditating on them, and experimenting with their application. When a character advances a level, any list they know or have access to, they can develop.

Furthermore, this article assumes that the DP cost of developing a list is constant and does not change by rank developed. The cost of the 1st rank in the list is the cost for any additional ranks. I have found this to be balanced and reasonable.

Restricted Spell Lists

I have added a new category of spell lists, restricted spell lists, to represent lists that a character has access to on a more limited basis that closed lists within his own realm. In certain worlds, some lists may harder to find or learn and should be reclassified from closed (or even open) to restricted. Likewise, for certain classes, you may desire to make certain own realm other base lists more available to certain classes. For example, it is useful to say that all pure and hybrid spell-users of at least 10th level can learn alchemist base lists of their realm as restricted lists.

Table Modifications:

Classification of Non-Spell Users

For the purpose of learning spells, it is useful to classify non-spell users based on the ease with which they can learn spells, relative to other non-spell users. I propose 4 groups and have listed which non-spell user profession I have associated with each of them. Gamemasters should feel free to change this classifications to better suit their world.

  1. G1: scholarly [Layman & Sage]
  2. G2: some scholarly [Rogue, Warrior Monk, & Swashbuckler]
  3. G3: non-scholarly [Thief & Outrider]
  4. G4: very non-scholarly [Fighter & Barbarian]

These four groups can also be associated with the other magical skills as well.

Difficulty of Learning Magic

In different worlds magic may be more or less difficult to learn than normal. This article presents three categories, which can be interpreted as high-magic, standard (fantasy) and low-magic. The gamemaster should determine which applies, by realm, to his world(s).

Magic Learning Difficulty Adjustments

These adjustments are applied to how the Expanded Spell List Development Point Cost Tables are used.

For Spell Casters where X represents the type P=Pure, H=Hybrid, & S=Semi

  • X+ indicates it is easier to learn spells (high-magic);
  • X- indicates it is harder to learn spells (low-magic);

For Non-Spell Casters (classified as described above)

  • shift one category left for high-magic (G0-G3), and
  • shift one category right for low-magic (G2-G5).

Expanded Spell List Development Point Cost Tables

Expanded Spell List Development Point Cost Tables
Note that Base represents "Own Base" and O-Base represents "Other Base".
Non-Arcane Spell-Caster Spell Development Point Cost Table
Realm
Type
List
Type
Non-Arcane Non-Spell Caster
P+ Pure P- H+ Hyb. H- S+ Semi S- G0 G1 G2 G3 G4 G5
Own Base 3/3/3 3/3/3 3/3/3 3/3/3 3/3/3 3/3/3 5/5/5 6/6/6 6/6/6
Open 3/3/3 4/4/4 4/4/4 3/3/3 4/4/4 4/4/4 6/6/6 8/8 8/8 8/8 10 15 20 25 30
Closed 4/4/4 4/4/4 6/6/6 4/4/4 4/4/4 6/6/6 8/8 10/10 10/10 10 15 25 30 40 50
Restricted 6/6/6 6/6/6 8/8/8 6/6/6 6/6/6 8/8/8 10 12 15 15 20 30 40 50 60
O-Base 6/6/6 8/8 10/10 8/8 10/10 12/12 20 25 30 25 30 50 60 80 100
Training 4/4/4 4/4/4 6/6/6 8/8
Other Open 8/8 10/10 12 10 12 15 25 30 40 30 40 60 60 90 100
Closed 15 20 25 20 25 30 40 50 60 45 60 90 90 105 110
O-Base 40 50 60 50 60 75 75 80 100 80 100 120 120 120 120
Training 8/8 8/8 12/12 16/16
Arcane Open 5/5 6/6 8/8 4/4 5/5 6/6 10 12 15 12 15 20 25 30 40
Closed 8/8 10/10 12 6/6 8/8 10/10 15 16 30 30 45 50 55 60 80
O-Base 40 50 60 50 60 80 75 80 90 60 80 80 85 90 120
Arcane Spell-Caster Spell Development Point Cost Table
Realm
Type
List
Type
Arcane
P+ Pure P- S+ Semi S-
Other Open 4/4 5/5 6/6 10 12 15
Closed 5/5 6/6 8/8 20 25 30
O-Base 8/8 10/10 12 50 60 75
Training 8/8 12/12
Arcane Base 3/3/3 3/3/3 3/3/3 5/5/5 6/6/6 6/6/6
Open 3/3/3 4/4/4 4/4/4 8/8 11/11 11/11
Closed 4/4/4 4/4/4 6/6/6 12/12 16/16 16/16
Restricted 6/6/6 6/6/6 8/8/8 16/16 20 25
O-Base 10/10 12/12 15 20 25 30

New Spell Learning Talents

These talents make it easier for a character to develop spell lists. The costs are given in the Spell Learning Talent & Flaw Cost Table.

  • Additional List: This talent reflects that the character has an additional spell list. This talent can be chosen multiple times. The cost varies according to the type of spell list chosen, the type it becomes, and the type of spell caster.
  • Instinctive Spell Learner: This talent reflects that the individual is better suited to learning spells than others of his profession. It reduces development costs by shifting by one which column is used on the Expanded Spell List Development Point Cost Tables. X becomes X+. X- becomes X. Gn becomes Gn-1. (Shifting beyond X+ or G0 is not permitted.) This talent can be taken multiple times to get multiple shifts.
  • Mastered Spell List: This talent reflects that a semi-spell user or non-spell user has mastered how to learn a given spell list (that they already know) and can learn it much better than others of his profession. The spell list has a development cost as indicated in the P- column of the Expanded Spell List Development Point Cost Tables and for this spell list the character is treated as a pure spell user.
  • Rapid Diversified Spell Learner: This talent reflects that the individual can picks up multiple lists faster than a typical spell-user. This talent allows the character to learn nine lists without a penalty (and then nine more for each increase in the penalty). For every three lists learned each level, the least expensive list (in terms of DPs) is free.

New Spell Learning Flaws

These flaws makes it harder for a character to develop spell lists. The costs are given in the Spell Learning Talent & Flaw Cost Table.

  • Narrow Focused Spell Learner: This flaw reflects that the individual has difficulty spreading his attention among many things. The caster can only learn 3 spell lists per level without penalty, then three more for each increase in the penalty.
  • Non-instinctive Spell Learner: This flaw reflects that the individual is less suited to learning spells than others of his profession. This increases development costs by shifting by one which column is used on the Expanded Spell List Development Point Cost Tables. X becomes X-. X+ becomes X. Gn becomes Gn+1. (Shifting beyond X- or G5 is not permitted.) This flaw can be taken multiple times to get multiple shifts.
  • Requires Assistance to Learn Spells: The character cannot develop spell lists without assistance, either in the form of an instructor or a magic item.

Spell Learning Talent & Flaw Cost Table

Spell Learning Talent & Flaw Cost Table
Talent or Flaw Cost by Spell-Caster Type
- Specifics Pure Hybrid Semi- Non-

Talents
Additional Base List
- Chosen from own realm open lists 3 3 5 N/A
- Chosen from own realm closed lists 5 5 7 N/A
- Chosen from own realm restricted lists 7 7 10 N/A
Additional Closed List
- Chosen from own realm restricted lists 2 2 3 3
- Chosen from own realm other base lists 7 9 12 12
- Chosen from other realm open lists 13 15 17 N/A
- Chosen from other realm closed lists 15 17 20 N/A
- Chosen from other realm base lists 20 25 N/A N/A
Additional Open List
- Chosen from own realm closed lists 2 2 3 5
- Chosen from own realm restricted lists 3 3 5 7
- Chosen from own realm other base lists 10 12 15 N/A
- Chosen from other realm open lists 15 17 20 N/A
- Chosen from other realm closed lists 18 20 25 N/A
Additional Restricted List
- Chosen from own realm other base lists 5 7 10 10
- Chosen from other realm open lists 10 13 15 N/A
- Chosen from other realm closed lists 13 15 18 N/A
- Chosen from other realm base lists 15 20 25 N/A
Instinctive Spell Learner 3 3 3 3
Mastered Spell List N/A N/A 3 5
Rapid Diversified Spell Learner 25 25 N/A N/A

Flaws
Narrow Focused Spell Learner -10 -10 N/A N/A
Non-Instinctive Spell Learner -3 -3 -3 N/A
Requires Assistance to Learn Spells -30 -30 -20 N/A

N/A indicates that this particular talent/flaw is not available for this spell caster type.

Advanced Training Options

This section describes a mechanism by which characters can gain additional talents or other benefits. These options require experience point (EP) expenditure and should be carefully considered before purchasing.

Rules Applicable to all Advanced Training Options

  1. Advanced Training requires that a certain amount of time (days or weeks) be spent on it. Eight hours must be spent on the training each day.
  2. Advanced Training requires a permanent EP expediture by the student. This experience cost assumes that experience earned by the student is applied to the training itself (and should not be awarded by the gamemaster to the character). If the remaining EPs of the character are less than that required for the current level of the character, the current level does not drop nor does the experience point total for the next level change. (Expended experience points do not count towards level advancement.)
  3. Instructors should be highly skilled in the subject and usually require some form of payment for their time.
  4. If a new talent is gained, no new flaw is required to be added to offset it as the experience point expenditure covers the cost.
  5. It is possible for two individuals to each train each other simultaneously provided they devote all their time to it and have no other students.

Adding/Upgrading Spell Lists

General Notes: This training results in a new talent being added. Instructors can teach 1 student for every five levels (round down) simultaneously.

Additional Benefit: Student gains a rank in the spell list if the teacher knows the list to a higher level than the student.

Time: 2xN weeks - [3x student's Re Stat bonus + 2x teacher's Re stat bonus + student's ranks in spell list]%.
Absolute Minimum Time: N/2 weeks.

Experience Point Expenditure: 1000xN - [25x student's ranks in spell list] EP.

Where N is the talent point cost of the gained talent.

  • Adding a New Base List - This training gives the talent, Additional Base List. The instructor must know the list as a base list, must be at least 10th level and must know the list to at least 10th level.
  • Adding a New Closed List - This training gives the talent, Additional Closed List. The instructor must know the list as a closed or base list.
    • Same Realm - The instructor must be at least 7th level and must know the list to at least 10th level.
    • Other Realm - The instructor must be at least 15th level and must know the list to at least 15th level. The student must be at least 5th level.
  • Adding a New Open List - This training gives the talent, Additional Open List. The instructor must know the list as an open, closed or base list.
    • Same Realm - The instructor must be at least 10th level and must know the list to at least 10th level.
    • Other Realm - The instructor must be at least 15th level and must know the list to at least 15th level. The student must be at least 7th level.
  • Adding a New Restricted List - This training gives the talent, Additional Restricted List. The instructor must know the list.
    • Same Realm - The instructor must be at least 5th level and must know the list to at least 7th level.
    • Other Realm - The instructor must be at least 12th level and must know the list to at least 12th level. The student must be at least 2nd level.
  • Mastering a Spell List - This training gives the talent, Mastered Spell List. The instructor must be at least 10th level, must know the list to at least 10th level, and must either be a pure/hybrid spell caster or have mastered the list himself. The student must have a least 1 rank in the spell list.

Example: Ebolt the Magician (8th level, Re Stat bonus of +5) has convinced Ichobod the Essence Alchemist (17th level, Re Stat bonus +7, 18 ranks in "Organic Skills") to help him learn the Alchemist Base List, "Organic Skills," as a Restricted List. Ebolt currently does not know this list. The appropriate talent, Additional Restricted List has a cost of 5 for pure spell casters, so N=5. The training will take 7.1 weeks (2x5 - [3x5 + 2x7]%, i.e. 10 - 29% = 7.1) and require the permanent expenditure of 5000 EPs. Once it is completed, Ebolt has 1 rank in the spell list and can further develop it as a restricted list.

Dedicated Spell List Training

General Notes: This training results in gaining a rank in a spell list. The teacher must have at least 5 ranks in the list and must have more ranks than the student. Instructors can teach 1 student for every three levels (round down) simultaneously.

Time: 5xN days - (3x student's Re Stat bonus + 2x teacher's Re stat bonus + student's level + teacher's ranks in list - 2x student's current ranks in list)%.
Absolute Minimum Time: 2xN days.

Experience Point Expenditure: 100xN EP.

Where N is the student's DP cost for the list. (N is doubled if the student has already learned the normal maximum ranks gained per level since he gained his last level.)

Example: Ebolt the Magician (8th level, Re Stat bonus of +5) has convinced Ichobod the Essence Alchemist (17th level, Re Stat bonus +7, 18 ranks in "Organic Skills") to help him improve the list, "Organic Skills," which he just learned as a Restricted List. Ebolt currently has 1 Rank in this list. The DP Cost is 6/6/6 for pure spell casters, so N=6. The training will take 14.1 days (5x6 - [3x5 + 2x7 + 8 + 18 - 2x1]%, i.e. 30 - 53% = 14.1) and require the permanent expenditure of 600 EPs. Once it is completed, Ebolt has 2 ranks in the spell list.

Spell Learning Magic Items

In this section, I present a variety of magic items used to enhance spell learning. I have tried to list some applicable options for each item to permit (and encourage) gamemaster creativity with these types of magic items.

  1. Amulet of Spell List Mastery (specific spell list) - This amulet lets the semi-spell user or non-spell user wearer benefit from the talent, Mastered Spell List, for a given list. The amulet must be worn whenever the individual spends any time developing the list.
    - Options -
    • Maximum Benefit - with this option, the amulet can only help learn up to a given number of ranks in the spell list. This can be per person or a strict spell list level or both.
    • Different Type of Item - with this option, a different form of magic item is used instead of an amulet, such as a crown, a necklace, a gem, etc.
    • Restricted Use - with this option, only characters of certain professions, realm(s), races, and/or knowledge(s) (such as passwords) may benefit from the item.
    - Sample Items -
    • Amulet of "Lofty Bridge" Spell List Mastery (limit: 10th level) - This amulet provides mastery of the Essence Closed List "Lofty Bridge" but only in learning up to 10 levels in the list.
    • Diamond of "Damage Resistance" Spell List Mastery (limit: 12 ranks learned - usable by humans only) - This 3-carat diamond helps humans learn 12 ranks of the Mentalism Open List "Damage Resistance."
  2. Book of Spell List Learning (specific spell list) - This well written book describing the spell list and its proper applications has been enchanted to make it easier to learn the described spell list. This spell list is treated as an Everyman skill for purposes of spell list development.
    - Options -
    • Maximum Benefit - with this option, the book can only help learn up to a given number of ranks in the spell list. This can be per person or a strict spell list level or both.
    • Exceptional Work - with this option, the spell list is treated as Occupational. It may have a threshold (specified number of ranks) where the benefit reverts to just Everyman.
    • Multiple Spell Lists with this option, the book addresses multiple spell lists. Different options may apply to each spell list.
    • Spirit instead of Book - with this option, a magical spirit discusses the spell list rather the book being read. The spirit can be associated with almost any type of magical device including an amulet, a ring, a container in which the spirit is contained (such as a bottle, lamp, etc.), a holy item, a gem, a place, etc.
    • Scrolls instead of Book - with this option, a number of scrolls provide the function instead of a book. Damage to one or more scrolls may add more limitations to the benefits for the scrolls.
    • Written in Obscure Magical Language - with this option, the character must learn the language first up to 8 (or 6 or 10) ranks prior to benefiting from improved spell list learning.
    • Associated Price to be Paid - with this option, the character must pay the associated price (set by the gamemaster; examples include sacrifice, ritual, quest, PPs given to the item (over time), etc.) to benefit from the book.
    • Requires Temple Membership - with this option, a character must be a follower of a particular God to benefit.
    • Restricted Use - with this option, only characters of certain professions, realm(s), races, and/or knowledge(s) (such as passwords) may benefit from the book.

    - Sample Items -
    • Book of "Detecting Ways" Spell List Learning - This book permits anyone who has access to the Open Essence List "Detecting Ways" to learn this list as an Everyman skill, i.e., for each rank developed, two are gained.
    • Exceptional Hymnal of "Protections" Spell List Learning (must be a follower of the Goddess of Music and have a least 5 ranks in "Singing") - This hymnal permits any follower of the Goddess of Music who has at least 5 ranks of Singing & access to the list to learn the Cleric Base List "Protections" as an Occupational skill.
    • Bottle & Fire Spirit of "Fire Law" Spell List Learning (limit: 15th level and the spirit must be paid a ruby worth at least 500 gp for every rank developed as Everyman) - This ornate reddish bottle contains a fire spirit that will assist individuals who know the Magician Base List "Fire Law" in improving the list up to 15th level as an Everyman list provided that he pays the fire spirit the required ruby for each rank so developed.
    • Ancient Tome of Gas, Liquid, & Solid Manipulation Spell List Learning (limit: 20th level & requires 8 written ranks in Arcania) - This large heavy book written in the old magical language of Arcania permits the learning of the Mentalism Closed Lists, "Gas Manipulation", "Liquid Manipulation", & "Solid Manipulation", as Everyman skills up to 20th level if you know written Arcania to at least 8 ranks.
  3. Book of Spell List Access (specific spell list) - This well written book grants the ability to learn this spell list as a Restricted Spell list. If the book is lost or unaccessible, no new levels can be gained, unless normally gainable by the character.
    - Options -
    • Maximum Benefit - with this option, the book can only help learn up to a given number of ranks in the spell list. This can be per person or a strict spell list level or both.
    • Exceptional Work - with this option, the spell list is can be leared as a closed list. It may have a threshold (specified number of ranks) where the benefit reverts to just learning as restricted.
    • Outstanding Work - with this option, the spell list is can be leared as an open list. It may have (a) threshold(s) (specified number of ranks) where the benefit reverts to just learning as closed and/or restricted.
    • Multiple Spell Lists with this option, the book addresses multiple spell lists. Different options may apply to each spell list.
    • Written in Obscure Magical Language - with this option, the character must learn the language first up to 8 (or 6 or 10) ranks prior to benefiting from the spell list access.
    • Restricted Use - with this option, only characters of certain professions, realm(s), races, and/or knowledge(s) (such as passwords) may benefit from the book.
    • Large Stationary Item instead of a Book - with this option, the access is associated with a place that has the writings/depictions/knowledge imbedded in/on itself, and the character must spend extensive time there examining it to benefit from it.
    - Sample Items -
    • Book of "Inspiring Ways" Access (for followers of the God of Leadership) - This books permits followers of the God of Leadership to learn as a restricted list the Paladin Base List, "Inspiring Ways."
    • Exceptional Garden of "Herb Mastery" Access - This magical and exotic garden permits those who study it to have access to the Animist Base List "Herb Mastery" as a closed list.
  4. Book of Spell List Access & Learning (specific spell list) - This book provides the benefits of both the Book of Spell List Access as well as the Book of Spell List Learning for the spell list. Any of the options can be applied as well to either aspect.
    - Sample Item -
    • Temple Walls of Blood, Bone, Muscle, Nerve, & Organ Law[/Ways] (outstanding) Access & Learning (limit: 10th level & restricted to channeling realm spellcasters) - These walls within the non-worship areas of the Temple of the God of Healing engraved with descriptive pictures and writings permit a channeling realm spell-caster (this excludes non-spell users) to learn the "Blood Law," "Bone Law," "Muscle Law," "Nerve Law," and "Organ Law" lists as open lists and as an Everyman skill up to 10th level. The spell caster must spend significant time studying the walls within the temple to benefit from them. For those with access to the Healer Base Lists, "Blood Ways," "Bone Ways," "Muscle Ways" & "Organ Ways" (as they as similiar to the Laws lists), they can learn these lists as Everyman skills up to 10th level.
  5. Monocle of Remote Book Viewing - This monocle permits the remote reading of a book whose location is known.
    - Options -
    • Range Limitation - with this option, the monocle must be within a given distance to the book. This can be in hundreds of feet, miles, etc.
    • Linked to a Specific Book or Bookcase - with this option, the monocle is associated with one book or bookcase and only works with that book or books within that bookcase.

    - Sample Item -
    • Monocle of Viewing 'Book of "Detecting Ways" Spell List Learning' (range limit: 500 feet & linked to specific book)

Information Provided for Comparing Against Standard Rules

Standard DP Cost Table for Spells
This represents that basic table from the rules with the exception of excluding the higher DP costs for higher level spells.
Realm
Type
List
Type
Non-Arcane Arcane Non-
Spell
Caster
Pure Hybrid Semi Pure Semi
Own Own Base 3/3/3 3/3/3 6/6/6
Open 4/4/4 4/4/4 8/8 v
Closed 4/4/4 4/4/4 10/10 v
Other Base 8/8 10/10 25 v
Training Pkg 4/4/4 4/4/4 6/6/6 8/8
Other Open 10/10 12 30 5/5 12 v
Closed 20 25 40 6/6 25 v
Other Base 50 60 80 10/10 60 v
Training Pkg 8/8 8/8 12/12 8/8 12/12 16/16
Arcane Own Base 3/3/3 6/6/6
Open 6/6 5/5 12 4/4/4 11/11 v
Closed 10/10 8/8 16 4/4/4 16/16 v
Other Base 50 60 80 12/12 25 v

v=variable