How do AD&D™ magic users cast spells? What do they do, why
does it work, and when does it stop working? This may seem like an obscure
intellectual exercise, until one of your player's favourite characters tries to
charge into a Prismatic Sphere after reading a Scroll of Protection From
Magic and you have to work out what happens, or until one of your more ingenious
players starts researching new spells. Then you will find that having a good
idea of how AD&D™ magic is supposed to work can be very useful. Some of this
material has appeared in one form or another, scattered through the Players
Handbook and Dungeon Master's Guide in First and Second Edition AD&D™. Here
we have tried to collect it all in one place, and to make sense of the
inconsistencies, omissions, and contradictions in the material. We have also,
over the years, added a good deal to it, which we feel keeps the original
structure, and explains many things that were left obscure. Finally, we have
experimented with a wide assortment of (optional) rules modifications, and the
successful ones are mentioned below, with comments on their advantages or
What actually happens when a AD&D™ magic user casts a spell?
According to the DMG1 p.40 and PHB2 p.81, the process started some time previously, when the mage spent 15 minutes (in AD&D2, 10 minutes) times the level of the spell "memorising" it from their spell book. This normally requires that the mage have their spell books, peace and quiet, and be well rested. DMG1 p.40 gives a table of the amount of rest (normally sleep) required before this can be done, according to the level of the spell to be memorised. One some DM's planes, the mage may find that this needs to be uninterrupted and comfortable sleep (this can be very inconvenient on wilderness adventures, though a good way of getting out of standing watches!). If the mage is of a race that does not sleep (liches are a common example), then some form of meditation is usually required instead. On some planes, even those mages that do need sleep may be able to memorise spells after a suitable lengthy period of meditation. This has the advantage that, while it is quite hard to sleep more than once a day, it is possible to meditate several times a day. For 1st or 2nd level spells, where only 4 hours rest are required, a Wizard might manage to sleep 4 hours, spend 2 hours memorising his 4 first level spells, and then cast them, twice a day, giving eight first level spells a day (for example when desperately Mending his employer's charger's barding that his pet Rust Monster half-ate!). With periods of meditation, this could be increased to 12 or even 16 first level spells in a day, though few mages would be able to maintain this for long.
On some planes, the mage may find that nothing of any significance can be done between sleeping and memorising spells (getting up, having breakfast, but no spell-casting or travelling). If this stricture does not apply, then there is no obvious reason why the mage cannot memorise a spell, pause briefly to cast it, and than rememorise it. The spell numbers given on PHB1 p.26 (PHB2 p.30) are maximum numbers of spells memorised at any one time. Unless the mage is on a plane where this is also the maximum number of spells that may be memorised during any one day, then this allows a mage to cast a great many spells per day, as long as they are low level spells and the mage need do nothing else. For example, even working only an 8 hour day, any mage could cast 32 Mending spells this way, or ten Dispel Magics.
For an 18th level mage, rememorising their entire spell list takes nearly 35 hours (just over 23 in AD&D2). It is obviously ridiculous for a mage to expect to do this in one stint, even if they have had 12 hours sleep previously. I would advise mages not to exceed 8 hours spell memorisation (32 spell levels in AD&D1, 48 in AD&D2) except in emergencies, as magical overwork in well known to cause nervous exhaustion.
On some planes it is possible to "demote" spells: instead of memorising one of your allowed number of high level spells, you can memorise an extra spell of a lower level. This can be very handy if you have a lot of useful spells at one level, and few at some higher one. Of course there are some mages who will just memorise 13 Fireballs when they are 12th level, but then what do they do when they need to teleport away in a hurry? The loss of flexibility in having many copies of one spell is almost never worthwhile, unless you are certain of exactly what situation you are going to meet. It is usually better to have a wide range of options than to be able to do one thing many times. It should be born in mind that demoting a spell represents a reduction in total power: you are carrying less spell levels of spell around with you. On the other hand, when what you really need is a Rope Trick, any number of third or fourth level spells are not going to help. Spell demotion is a useful addition to the techniques of a careful and thoughtful mage, and it is always worth experimenting to see if it is possible on your home plane.
But what is actually happening when a mage "memorises" a spell? Since the mage already had already learnt the spell (and it was already counting against their maximum number of spells per spell level for their INT), and indeed the mage can "memorise" multiple copies of the same spell, it is evident that "memorise" is not really the correct verb. "Store" or "charge up" would be better, as PHB2 p.81 makes clear. By using their spell book, the mage slowly summons magical energy ("mana") and shapes it into the spell, storing the result in their mind ready to be released rapidly in combat by a few words and gestures. Just what is involved in this process, apart from the spell-book, peace, quiet, and a well rested mage, is not explained. I would expect that it also involves a good deal of mental gymnastics, repetitively chanting the words, and probably some ritual equipment, incense etc. All of which tend to attract the attention of passing monsters! The stored magical energy of all the spells memorisable by a high level mage is appreciable, and on many planes this is sufficient to cause them to detect a faintly magical. This it is only faintly, compared with the way they would register if all the spells were cast, is because the flow of mana from a memorised spell is small (after all, they do not leak away, even if it is months since they were memorised), while in a cast spell it is quite large, and is normally much increased by mana flows summoned from other planes.
It states in PHB2 p.81 that a mage cannot get rid of a memorised spell, in order to replace it with another one, without casting it. This seems a very unfair rule: while casting a spare Fireball to get rid of it is merely inconvenient (particularly in built up areas, or confined spaces underground), some spells require extremely expensive components to cast, or age the caster or even lose them points of constitution. If this rule is strictly applied on a plane, then local mages should take great care before memorising such spells that they are really going to require them. The problem of the effects of the spell going off (such as unwanted Fireballs) are easily avoided: according to PHB2 p.85 if the spellcaster's concentration is disrupted during spellcasting, for example by being struck by a weapon or failing a saving throw, then the spell is wasted in a fizzle of useless energy. This effect can be easily and painlessly duplicated out of combat by starting to cast the first segment of a spell, and then pausing part-way through to eat some nuts and daydream about the inkeeper's daughter. The spell that you started will be wasted, without any loud or disruptive magical effects. More seriously, I would suggest that any referee allows a mage to deliberately dump a memorised spell, simply allowing the structured mana they have stored to leak away harmlessly, rather than casting it. Since, as discussed below, the mana stored by the mage is small compared with that which the cast spell will summon from other planes once cast, there should be no deleterious side effects to this, nor any use of expensive spell components.
When the spell is cast, the magical symbolism of the words of the verbal components, the gestures of the somatic components, and the magical influences of the material components reinforce the structure of the spell, trigger it to activity, and direct it to the particular target the mage is casting it at. (On most planes, the final decision of targeting is made in the last segment or so of the spell, allowing the Fireball to be shifted a little if the front rank have advanced during the intervening few segments. On others however, the targeting must be decided the beginning of the casting, which requires considerable care and forethought by the mage.) The spell then uses its stored mana to reach out to one or more other planes, and tap the potential difference between them, or between them and the Prime Material plane on which it is cast. The planes used are normally the Positive and/or Negative Material Planes, depending upon the spell. (For fire or heat spells, the Elemental Plane of Fire is used instead or as well; for wind or lightning spells, the Plane of Air; for water or acid spells, the Plane of Water; and for stone spells, the Plane of Earth. ) This mana flow involves much greater amounts of mana than those originally stored by the mage during memorisation. (Psionics, on the other hand, does not appear to involve summoning mana from other planes. The huge amounts of mana that must be expended directly, and very rapidly, by a psionic creature explains why on most planes humans are incapable of psionics, and even on those planes where they can, the necessary talent is very rare. Psionics is normally confined to highly magical creatures such as Mind Flayers, Demons, or Lammasu.) This flow of mana from other planes continues for as long as the spell lasts, and this is what is detected by a Detect Magic spell.
It is evident from many separate sources (eg. spell memorisation and (most) casting times) that the initial amount of stored mana required to cast a spell is directly proportional to its spell level, ie an eighth level spell requires twice as much mana as a fourth level spell. On the other hand, the amount that can be done with a spell seems to increase much more rapidly than that (compare similar spells of different levels, eg the various Bigby's Hand spells). After a good deal of consideration, we have come to the conclusion that the mana summoned from other planes by a spell once it has been cast roughly doubles for every two spell levels of the spell (1st: 1, 2nd: 11⁄2, 3rd: 2, 4th: 3, 5th: 4, 6th: 6, 7th: 8, 8th: 12, 9th: 16). Another factor that is important for a spell is the level of casting, ie the experience level of the caster who cast it (or equivalent if the spell came from an item). We belive that increasing this does not correspond to increasing the amount of mana (ie a Fly spell cast by a 25th level mage does not detect as being any more magical than on cast by a 5th level mage), but rather to the skill and accuracy with which the spell was constructed, and thus to the efficiency with which the mana is made to do work. (This provides a good rationale for the dice limits on variable damage spells in AD&D2: you can't get more than 10D6 out of a 3rd level spell, even if you connect it directly to the hottest part of the Plane of Fire, and even getting 10D6 takes a good deal of skill.) Note that it is perfectly possible for an item to cast a high level spell at a low level of effect, eg. a Wand of Force casting Wall of Force at 6th level, which suggests that the skills involved in casting a spell at a high level of effect, and those involved in being capable of memorising it in the first place are different, though they are learnt together by magic-users.
If the flow of mana is interrupted, either by the spell being covered by an area of Anti-Magic, in which the flow of mana from other planes is prevented, or by the brief glitch or pulse of mana of a Dispel Magic, then the spell collapses. If the spell is one from a permanent continuous magical item, such as a +1 Sword or a Ring of Invisibility, then the structure of the spell is built into the item, along with a sufficient store of mana to restart it, and it will start to function again after it has been dispelled/moved out of the Anti-Magic area. This normally takes 1 round (D4 rounds in AD&D2) for the spell to recover after the jolt of successful Dispel Magic, but only a segment or so after the power supply returns on leaving an area of Anti-Magic. Of course, if the spell was one cast from an item, it acts like any other cast spell, and simply collapses, with no item at the centre to maintain its structure.
There are planes where memorisation is unnecessary, and a mage can cast any spell that they know, subject to a maximum number of spells per day which matches the maximum number which can be memorised at once on conventional planes. (This sort of freedom is more commonly found among clerics of major local religions, where the spell is supplied by the cleric's deity when it is asked for in combat, rather than being granted earlier during prayer and stored and subsequently cast directly by the cleric. On occasion deities who do not, presumably, have the time or inclination to do this for all their clerics may grant this as a special boon to favoured high priests, or during a particular quest or temple defence or holy war.) On most such planes it is possible to memorise spells, and prudent to do so if you expect to be travelling off-plane, but not necessary. This can be extremely useful, as it avoids the difficult decisions as to which spells to take, and avoids the necessity to spend a great deal of time memorising spells before (and during) adventures, usually much to the relief of the non-spellcasters in the party. However, there is a hidden disadvantage: in a rapid combat, the mage will find it even more difficult to decide which spell to cast, and may end up doing nothing, or something over-ingenious. This can be a particular problem for those high-level, high-intelligence mages fortunate enough to know a great many spells, especially since high-level combats tend to be decided quite rapidly. If visiting such a plane, some mages may find it advisable to memorise spells as usual, rather than disrupting their well-practiced combat reflexes. Out of combat, it is a great boon, noticeably increasing the mage's flexibility, and thus their power. Another advantage is that, since a mage does not need to consult their spell book to memorise spells, it can be safely left at home, rather than being risked to the vagaries of weather, river crossings, thieves, and fireballs on long adventures.
Why is this possible? To my knowledge, little research has been
done on the subject, but presumably on such planes it is sufficiently much
easier to assemble the structure of a spell and make the contacts to other
planes necessary to power it, that the specific spell need not be memorised in
advance, and merely the words, gestures and substances normally used to trigger
the stored spell are sufficient to create it as well. The mana necessary to
establish a mana flow from other planes to power the spell evidently comes from
the mage (thus the maximum number of spells per day). Recovering this mana
happens during sleep/rest/meditation on most planes. On some others, as well as
sufficient sleep, some form of meditation or study is necessary, sometimes with
the mage's spell book, for the same period as would be required to memorise the
spell: on such planes evidently the mana to cast the spell must be laboriously
assembled and stored, but the structure of the specific spell to be cast does
not. On some planes the mana recovers slowly over a 24 hour period, partially
(as is the case for psionics) or completely independent of the mage's other
activities. I have even heard of planes where the mana recovery happens at some
specific time, such a dawn or midnight, though this is much more common for
clerics (where it is evidently a book-keeping convenience imposed by the
cleric's deity, as it often differs between religions).
On most planes, if a mage is interrupted while casting a spell,
or makes a mistake during the casting, then all that happens is that the spell
is wasted. This has the effect that fighters will always charge up to a mage and
attempt to hit them while they are spellcasting, while mages will risk being hit
in the hope that they will manage to get the spell off before a blow connects.
If the referee wishes to spice things up, they can add a system where a miscast
spell has a chance of malfunctioning. This adds dangers to the life of mages,
particularly clumsy or unintelligent ones who try casting powerful spells in
tight corners, while it gives even the mage who is in a hail of arrow-fire the
chance that they can get a Protection From Normal Missiles to work, with
luck and skill. It also gives fighters who try to spellspoil mages something to
think about: if the mage keeps on regardless they may just waste their spells,
but then again they may detonate with a bright purple flashand one hell of a
bang, taking the fighter with them. For those DMs who believe that uncertainty
is the spice of life, and that even a gagged mage should be given a vain hope,
if they are willing to take the risk of skipping the vocal component, then a backfire
system is given in the section
on enchanting magic items. Another possibility might include some chance of
rolling oe Wild Surge table, as used by Wild Mages.
[Note: This section was written before the publication of the Manual of the Planes, and some minor details discussed here, while valid for our game multiverse, differ from the corresponding details given in the Manual of the Planes. However, the general conclusions reached below are unaffected by these details.
The importance of mana flows from other planes, as well as the tendency for high-level adventurers to visit and explore such places, makes a discussion of their structure and relationships important. Unfortunately the term "universe", meaning "the whole thing", has so lost its original meaning by being applied to single planes that the term "multiverse" has become necessary. By this we mean the entire structure of all known planes that can be reached by any magical means (plane travel, astral travel, gates etc). Whether there are other such areas, other multiverses, that cannot be reached by any such means, we shall leave a matter for philosophers and poets. Here we are discussing conventional, visitable metaphysics.
The first variety of plane are the multitude (often held to be infinite, and certainly never counted) of so called "Prime Material" planes, such as Greyhawk (of the famed Greyhawk mages), Taerus, Lalandé, the Plain of Iron (also known as Norn, after an important god), Albion, Oerth, Aramar, the various planes of Rast, Avalon, and so forth. Why the term Prime is used seems unclear, unless it is a remnant of some parochial view that the mage's home plane is the "Prime" material plane, and all others are secondary. Almost all such planes are relatively hospitable, with breathable air, running water, fertile soil, a warm sun, and a similar set of plants and animals (and usually much the same assortment of monsters). One the vast majority the sky is blue, the sun single and golden-white, the day 24 hours long, there is one large white moon, which takes about thirty days to go through its monthly cycle. The landscape is usually the same mixture of plains, hills, mountains, woods, deserts, jungles, lakes, rivers, and seas, with the odd swamp or volcano thrown in. Even the star patterns are often the same. The dominant local civilisation is normally human, with about the same level of sophistication, and frequently sufficiently similar languages and customs that they can get along with those from other planes. There are usually also elves (in the woods), dwarves (in the mountains), and frequently also hobbits and gnomes. In general, they all have the elements necessary to live, farm, and adventure. Where they differ wildly is in their geography, history, mythology, and magical details. Even in so simple a matter as their overall shape, I have heard of worlds that were flat and circular with a skydome, flat and square with an ocean around them, flat and octagonal with another world on the the back-side, flat and circular with space and stars below them, flat circular and balanced on the back of four huge elephants standing on an even huger turtle, flat and believed to be infinite, spherical with the world on the outside, spherical with the world on the inside, cubical with six flat faces, and a narrow strip in a hoop with the sun at its centre. Many other possibilities no doubt exist somewhere in the multiverse.
Similar sets of deities are worshipped on most planes (the Norse, Greek, Egyptian, Indian, Chinese and Melnibonéan pantheons being the most common, with Babylonian, Amerindian, Christian, Norn, and others also widespread). However, it is apparent with a little study that these are importations to most planes, presumably brought in by plane-travelling clerics, or on occasion by whole peoples settling one plane from another. On most planes it is possible to find one pantheon which is native to that world, and whose claims to have created it ring true. The religion of the Norse pantheon, for example, originally comes from a cold mountainous plane, evidently plagued by giants, called Midgard. This plane seems to have been favoured with many berserkers and sea-raiders. I do not know the location of this plane, and it is conceivable that there is more than one copy of it, differing in various respects, but that such a plane (or planes) exist is the only good explanation for the many features commonly associated with the Norse religion. Norse setters and plane-travellers tended to favour similar locations and cultures on planes that they travelled to, and thus these associations remained. Similarly the Norn religion, which seems to have started to spread more recently (with the exception of their wargod Mitra/Mithras/etc), originated upon the light-side of the (octagonal flat two-sided) Plane of Iron. The Greek pantheon seems to be associated with a warm sunny plane, with many seas and small islands, heavily populated with various monsters such as centaurs, minotaurs, chimerae, medusae, and so on. Similarly for most other pantheons, one can discover a good deal about the plane for which it originally originated, especially its climate, typical geography, and common monsters, by analysing its myths, customs, and common associations.
An interesting exception to this is the so called Melnibonéan pantheon, with the Lords of Law (Donblas, Arkyn, etc) and Chaos (Arioch, Mabelode, Xiombarg, Slortar, Chardros, etc). These appear to be strongly associated with the alignments of Law and Chaos, concepts which are central both to the (commonly accepted) structure of the outer planes and to the normal view of alignments, yet which seem rather uneasily grafted onto other religions (the Norse or Greek pantheons, for example, seem to care little for Law or Chaos, being more interested in the gods vs. the Giants or the gods vs. each other, while the Norn pantheon sees everything in terms of Light vs Darkness, and seems uncertain as to whether this corresponds to the Good/Evil or Law/Chaos axes). It is possible that this pantheon has more to do with the overall structure of the Multiverse, rather than having spread out from one particular plane or planes. This may be why they are one of the few religions that do not keep claiming that their gods created the plane upon which the preacher is preaching!
A point that should be born in mind when travelling between various Prime Material Planes (and other planes also, though data on this is less widely available) is that time passes on different rates on different planes. A character who goes off to another plane for a week-long adventure may return and find that a month has passed at home, or only a couple of days. For most planes the rate seems to be fairly constant, with time on a particular plane progressing at a rate which is consistently faster or slower than some standard reference plane by some factor. There are planes, though, where a decade or two will suddenly go by, in what has seemed to all other but few weeks, and others which will remain strangely static, no apparent time passing for weeks or months. It has been hypothesised by some sages that this has some relationship to the rare but dangerous Ether Cyclone, or by others that it has more to do with the whims of the gods responsible for maintaining the planes in question. The normal range of time-rates seems to cover about a factor of four, though extremely high rates have been encountered on unusual planes. This phenomenon, if it is consistent, can be quite useful to those with the resources to plane-travel to a plane where the time rate is fast, if they need extra time for research or item construction, or slow, if they are waiting for an opportunity to obtain more funds to arise (and can arrange that they will be informed of it when it does!).
Returning to the structure of the Inner Planes, the most magically significant fact about the many Prime Material Planes is that they are in a state of elemental balance. They are composed of approximately equal parts Earth, Air, Fire and Water, and are in a balance between light/life and darkness/death. Within any one substance, there may be a considerable bias: soil for example is mostly Earth, with some Water, a little Air, and traces of Fire mostly in the organic detritus mixed in with the soil, while clouds are mostly air with some admixture of water, and living creatures are of course a delicate balance of all four elements imbued with the life/light-force derived both indirectly from sunlight via plants and directly from the Positive Material via creature's spirits. However, overall the Prime Material is in a complex dynamic balance.
Next we come to the four Elemental Planes, of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, sources of the elemental forces used for many Evocation spells, which allow us to destroy our foes in balls of fire or bolts of lightning or rains of ice or acid, and also in many Alteration spells which alter objects by altering their elemental balance. There is a good deal of debate about these. Some philosophers hold that there are only four such planes, the pure sources of the elemental forces, and that the differences in the accounts of them brought back by different travellers are simply the result of visiting different parts of them. This seems overly simplistic and idealised: in view of the vast plethora of Prime Material Planes, there would seem to be no requirement that the Multiverse be simple. Also, while the accounts of the elemental planes brought back by travellers vary, in most of them the planes they visited do not seem to be elementally pure, but merely heavily biased towards one element. The Plane(s) of Air are typically described as vast windy skies, stretching to infinite blue in all directions with no ground in sight. Yet they also often have floating islands, obviously small admixtures of Earth, and clouds and storms and rain, admixtures of Water, and a sun which gives warmth as well as light, thus an admixture of Fire. The creatures living there, while very aerial in nature, are not all composed entirely of air: as well as elementals one finds sylphs and pegasi and birds (and surprisingly often also air-swimming versions of various sea-creatures such as whales). Similarly visitors to Plane(s) of Fire encounter not only Fire, but ash and smoke and lava and cities of red-hot brass, and not just Fire-elementals and Phoenixes, but also efreet, salamanders, fire-giants and lava-sharks, creatures with a great deal of Fire in their make-up, but evidently also some Air and Earth and even a little Water. The Plane(s) of Water similarly sometimes contain sandy bottoms, and even some-times a wave-tossed surface to the sea, and that of Earth has some caves, tunnels and grottoes in which adventurers can creep about if they cannot move through rock. It would thus seem that there are multiple elemental planes, some apparently more elementally pure than others. This also explains the so-called para-elemental planes of various elemental mixtures, such as Smoke (Air & Fire), Lava (Earth & Fire), etc. (The full list of pairs is: Dust, Lava, Mud, Smoke, Foam, and Steam.) Some mages have even gone so far as to suggest that there are in fact a continuous range of planes, from the elementally pure ones composed entirely of Fire (say) populated only by fire elementals, to ones less pure with varying admixtures of other elements in their natures and inhabitants, such as efreet or lava children, to planes whose balance is good enough to make them hospitable to humans and most other normal creatures. Though some of the latter may be rather stonier, or windier, or drier, or wetter than the ideal balance, the variation that one finds across a typical area of terrain will be sufficient to ensure that there are some fertile habitable areas between the mountain ranges and deserts and seas. This school would claim that the term "Prime Material" meant "Plane sufficiently balanced to live on", that the term "Elemental Plane of Fire" meant "Plane sufficiently Fiery to pull Fire magic and Fire elementals from", and that the reason that few people encounter "Elemental Planes of Boiling Mud", to coin a term for a plane containing equal parts of Fire, Water, and Earth, is that they don't look for them or try to draw mana from them. (There is doubtless a worthy and only medium dangerous research project here, trying to assemble a complete spectrum of mixed elemental planes, of varying balance, by plane travelling to them blindly!) I suspect this view may be going too far, but it certainly contains some truth. Some of the rest of the truth may come from remembering that the elemental balance of planes usually varies across them, from place to place.
A further complication comes from that fact that there are Prime Material planes which seem to have a different set of elements! I know of one where animal and plant are considered elements, with elementals and corresponding elemental planes. It even has a set of six sorts of specialist mages: as well as geomancers, aeromancers, pyromancers, and hydromancers, specialising in the standard four elements, there are zoomancers and phytomancers specialising in animals and plants. Even stranger are those planes where there are five elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Wood, and Metal, with a complete system of magic based around them. (These planes still have air, but it is apparently not considered an element: what they consider it to be made of I have no idea.) Some sages have suggested that there is a set of elemental planes for each Prime material plane, and that these differences simply represent differences between Elemental Planes surrounding the different Prime Material Planes. This vast multiplication of planes seems excessive, even for a structure so profligate as the multiverse. A compromise view might be that Prime Material Planes come in sets, and each set has its own set of elemental planes. This would also explain why some Prime Material Planes are much easier to reach by magical means from each other than others: in some cases you are travelling within a set, while in others you are trying to travel between sets.
The other two important planes (or sorts of plane) are the Positive Material, the source of light/life/energy, and the Negative Material, the source of darkness/death/anti-energy. These are arguably even more important in magic than the elemental planes, for most spells which do not have a particular elemental bias are powered by two balanced mana flows, in from the Positive Material, through the structure of the spell, and out to the Negative Material. (Of course there are spells which are powered from only one, such as Continual Light (+ve) or Death Spell (-ve). The terminology in which the former are known as Necromantic, and the latter as Reversed Necromantic, has unfortunately stuck, despite the fact that Biomantic and Necromantic respectively would be much better terms.) Visiting either of these planes is injurious to the health, but once again there seem to be degrees to this: I myself have been on a plain that we are fairly certain was a Negative Material Plane, with its black fire, weird unlight and vast hoards of undead, but we seemed only to be loosing a level per turn or so (and we got out as soon as we had done what had to be done, I can tell you!) It is possible that there is also a range of planes, some more positive or negative than others. Some mages also hold that there are quasi-elemental planes, which are partly positive and partly elemental (Crystal, Lightning, Radiance, and Slime (or, according to some sources, Alcohol!)) or partly negative and partly elemental (Ash, Chlorine, Black Fire, and Ice (or Acid)). There are also references to Planes of Shadow, which seem to consist mostly of a mixture of Light and Dark, with only a little of the four elements to build the scenery out of.
Another view on the Positive and Negative Material planes is that the Life/Death axis which they represent is the same as the Good/Evil axis of the outer planes, and indeed it is even suggested that they are outer planes, and that the -ve material is located somewhere near Hades. Certainly the scenery is similar. Also clerics of good religions make great use of spells tapping the positive material plane, for light and healing, while those of evil religions tap the negative material for darkness and cause wounds spells and undead. The lack of positive and negative elementals is frequently cited as further evidence of this. However, there are creatures of the positive and negative material plane, such as Xeg-Ya and Xeg-Yi. I personally believe that this view is an error. There are many who hold that Chaos and Evil are the same thing, or that Good and Law are, but that does not make them correct. Life and Light can be an evil (consider a Laser Beam or Magic Missile spell, or being turned into green slime), and Darkness and even Death can be a benediction. While the magic of Life may be apt to good, and that of Death and Undeath apt to Evil, I believe that there is a difference between an impersonal magical force and the moral end to which it is commonly put. Fire magic is also useful mostly for killing, but that does not make Fire evil, only dangerous.
The final one of the inner planes is the Ethereal Plane. This is not so much a Plane as the space between all the other inner planes, and the medium through which one moves between them. A subject of considerable current research is the number of dimensions that the Ethereal has. All Prime Materials that I have ever heard of, and indeed all elemental planes, have three dimensions (at least locally, within any smallish area). If planes with any other number of dimensions exist, those so foolish as to visit them have not returned to tell the tale. (Casting Duo-Dimension before travelling might help, but I wouldn't risk it myself!) But the ethereal evidently contains more, since as well as moving around in the physical three dimensions, for example to walk through walls, a character nearby in the ethereal can become less ethereal (to materialise, or in the case of some ethereal monsters, which are evidently skilled in the fine manoeuvring required, to become semi-material, able to be seen as a ghostly semi-transparent form and to interact physically but difficult to damage with non-magical weaponry), or more ethereal, to the point where they cannot see the plane they have departed from, and cannot be detected from it. If they continue a lot further in this extra direction, they will come to other worlds: which ones depends upon which way they choose to go. There is evidently at least one other direction possible to ethereal travel beyond the normal three. If there were only one, then the inner planes would have to be strung out along it, like beads on a string, in a particular order. Yet they evidently are not. So there must be more than one extra dimension. If we accept the conventional circular model, in which Water is so opposed to Fire, and Air so opposed to Earth, that they are viewed as opposites, then this requires two extra dimensions. But their opposition seems a pale thing compared with the exact opposition of Light and Darkness, where the same spell can be cast with an opposite powering plane to give its reverse. Try casting Fire-Ball with the plane of Water as its source, and you will get no result, not a spherical blast of icy cold. Furthermore, the existence of ***-elemental planes such as Dust (Air and Earth) and Steam (Water and Fire, and perhaps Air) argue that Fire and Water, and Earth and Air, are not opposites, but simply different. Furthermore, many substances are composed of some mixture of all four elements, and they do not cancel out the way Light and Darkness do. Thus the true arrangement must be a tetrahedron, with all mixtures possible. This requires three extra dimensions. If, like most mages, we accept that the Positive and Negative are Inner Planes, and it is possible (but inadvisable) to travel to them through the ethereal, then these obviously require another direction in which to be opposed, giving a total of seven. I have heard arguments advanced that the various prime materials must be strung out along two or more other dimensions, but this seems unnecessary: there is enough room in the seven we have for them to be scattered near the centre of the set of elemental planes with which they are associated. Those material planes which are distant from each other, and hard to reach, and have a separate set of elements, can be assumed to be in another set of inner planes, either not connected to the fist by means of the ethereal, or possibly only via some narrow ethereal corridor stretching through the astral.
Regardless of what the true number of dimensions of the ethereal is, the fact that it is more than four allows us to make sense of many previously inexplicable facts. The first is the extremely high level of those spells which allow ethereal travel, compared to the relative ease of getting access to the ethereal (a miscast Dimension Door at 4th will strand you on it, a Plane Travel at 5th Clerical with move you from one place to another, not only through the ethereal to the inner planes but via the astral to the outer planes, a Passwall at 5th evidently bends the piece of wall slightly into the ethereal to get it out of the way while still allowing it to still support the load it was bearing and even a Rope Trick at 2nd presumably uses a piece of the nearby ethereal to provide the space at the top of it). To allow safe ethereal travel, a spell must allow a creature used to a three-dimensional existence to travel through a multidimensional space, rotating them so that the direction in which they wish to go, and indeed the direction(s) towards any creatures or objects they may encounter on their travels, are among the three in which they are operating. (It would be interesting to attempt to overload this, by taking five separate parties out to the same area of the ethereal plane, and setting up the four-dimensional equivalent of a tetrahedron, which has five corners.) This may explain why the visibility, in the formless silvery-grey mist seen while travelling ethereally, is poor, and why creatures native to the ethereal plane seem to be better at manoeuvring on it, normally giving them the choice of ensuring or avoiding encounters, though they rarely gain surprise.
Other things that can be explained by this theory are the plethora of terms such as semi-ethereal, borderline-ethereal, non-corporeal, out-of-phase, extra-dimensional, and so forth. There are basically four possibilities, with a spectrum between them. A creature or object can be only very slightly moved in one of the ethereal directions. This has the effect of making them semi-transparent, able to ooze through walls, and considerably harder to hit with weaponry (about the same difference as between an unarmoured man and one in plate with a shield (ie +8 AC)), and then can only be struck by magical weaponry, though they can still move normal objects if they wish to. They can still cast and be affected by spells normally. This state is variously refered to as being "insubstantial", "non-corporeal", or "semi-materialised". Creatures which do this include ghosts, apparitions and terithrans. To my knowledge no spell has yet been developed to do this, though is ought not to be too difficult to do (see Wraithform PHB2 Level 4, though this does not give the AC bonus, so probably corresponds to being even less ethereal).
The next possibility is that the creature is sufficiently far ethereal to be invisible and intangible. There is however a level at which they can still see (mistily) onto the nearby Material plane, while not being seen themselves. This is possibly due to the fairly powerful magic required to reach this state and navigate while in it, as discussed above. The great advantage here is that one is completely immune to physical attack, even with magical weaponry, and one can cast spells from this state to the material plane. Those on the material plane can only attack back by means of magic, and that only if they have some means of seeing creatures in this state (such as Detect Invisible,Truesight, sufficiently high level and intelligence to see invisible, or a Robe of Eyes). Simply guessing that there is an ethereal spell-caster around and casting magic at random will not do: they need to have some way of directing there magic (normally instinctively as part of aiming at a seen target) in the right ethereal direction. Note that if the spell is aimed at such an ethereal target, it will not affect nearby material targets, and vice versa. (An important exception is the various petrification attacks of certain monsters, especially the gaze weapons: many an ethereal traveller has fallen foul of these while moving around in the (standard) three dimensions in this state, at the beginning or end of their ethereal journey.) This state is variously refered to as "out-of-phase" (after phase spiders), "borderline ethereal", or "**". Creatures capable of it include phase spiders, demons and devils, and ghosts. Magical means of achieving it include Oil of Etherealness, Armor of Etherealness, and Etherealness spells.
The third possibility is that the creature is sufficiently ethereal that they can neither see to, nor be detected from, the nearest material plane, and spells cannot pass in either direction unless they are normally capable of operating between planes (eg Clairvoyance). This is the normal state during most of any ethereal journey, so ethereal distances between planes are evidently much greater than those we have been discussing so far. While this far from any plane, I would expect a traveller not to be affected by the petrification attacks of any monsters residing on it, but this is not a subject I have experimented upon. This state is refered to as "ethereal travelling", or just "etherealness". This is the state in which the ethereal plane is seen as a silvery-grey misty void. Texts frequently describe travel in this state as tireless and rapid, and claim that creatures here require no food, drink, rest, or sleep. They are also extremely vague about how long ethereal journeys take. There are creatures that live permanently in this state, such as githyanki, yet these seem to need food and drink and rest. I would suggest rather that either the state, or the effects of the powerful magic required to do it in any safety, has the effect of altering people's time sense, and that in fact even lengthy ethereal journeys take only a few turns, though they seem much longer than that in a way that is rather hard to quantify, and thus it is extremely unlikely that a traveller will require food, drink, rest or sleep during that time. Creatures capable of this include Couatl, Nightmares, Elementals, and Ki-Rin. Spells which enable it are Ethereal Walking and Astral Spell.
The last possibility is that the creature or object has been rotated so that one of its three dimensions has become an ethereal dimension. This will mean that it can move freely from a surface where it interacts with the material plane off in another direction where they can hide. If you add a piece of magic at the mouth to rotate things as they go in and out, and add some walls to stop them from drifting off, then you have a piece of extra-dimensional (or non-dimensional) space, as used in Rope Trick, Maze, Bags of Holding, and Portable Holes. (One point this does not explain is why it is so inadvisable to place a Bag of Holding in a Portable Hole, or vice versa, but either can be put in a Rope Trick or Maze without trouble.) This state does not allow you to move around in the normal three directions (unless someone picks up the entrance and moves it), but is very useful for storing things in. Also, since you are at right-angles to reality, you are also at right angles to any borderline ethereal creatures, and are unlikely to interact with them. (A creature sufficiently used to moving around the ethereal could very likely rotate itself so as to appear inside a Rope Trick . This might also allow them to escape from Maze spells rapidly, though such creatures are often also very intelligent, so this may be hard to test.)
We now come to the outer planes. There is an important division between the inner and outer planes. This lies between the ethereal plane and the astral plane. Despite their very similar nature, and relatively similar appearance, there is a fundamental difference between the two. The astral plane, and the other outer planes it leads to, are the home of immortal creatures, deities, demons, devils, and devas. These creatures are usually of extreme alignments, and frequently bound up with religious matters. The outer planes are also the destination of souls and spirits after their death. It is evident that there is some restriction or compact which prevents excessive interference, especially uninvited visits, from outer-planar creatures to the inner planes. For example, demons possess the ability to gate in more demons to their current location, at rates up to one demon every couple of rounds. Given demon's evil and rapacious nature, it is not obvious why they do not, upon arriving upon an inner plane, teleport off to somewhere quiet and begin to double in numbers every couple of rounds. As anyone who has fought demons in the Abyss will know, they are quite capable of this feat there. In an hour or so one demon could double and redouble up to the entire hords of the Abyss. Something must prevent them. Any demonologist will tell you that when you have summoned a demon, you must compel it to perform a specified task, or bind it into confinement, or banish it, or it will escape, kill you, perhaps wreck the place, and then depart. In each of these cases the demon's role is quite circumscribed. It either acts as the agent of a native of the inner planes, or is a powerless captive, or simply departs, or wreaks rapid vengeance upon it summoner and then departs. The situation for other such beings (devils, slaadii, devas, modrons etc) is similar, adapted to suit their ethical persuasion. On the few occasions that on finds outer-planar creatures roaming apparently loose and free-willed upon an inner plane, there has either been a major breakdown in the well-being of the plane, or there are, fairly nearby, people with the necessary skills and temperament to have summoned the creatures and sent them out to do what they are currently doing. Despite their ability to Teleport and go Ethereal at will, such creatures seem to remain close to the evil temple or whatever that summoned them, rather than devastating the nearest major city.
More evidence for this constraint upon outer-planar creatures can be seen in the behaviour of deities. Despite most deities desire to protect and expand the number of their worshippers, and their great power when physically incarnated, it is extremely rare for them to appear on the physical planes. Imagine how much more potent a god would be, if he acted like a human king, living in his high temple, giving audience and using his powers there, and sallying forth (by teleportation, of course) whenever his interests were threatened. Yet I have never heard of a god doing so, except perhaps in the throes of a major war between a pantheon and its traditional enemies, and then normally only in myth. Whatever this constraint is, it must be extremely powerful, given the great number of very powerful creatures it keeps out. Yet is apparently not hard and fast: if needs become great enough, or if the situation deteriorates far enough, then gods and demons may be seen walking the earth. However, this is the rare and calamitous exception; the rule is that the outer planes interfere in the business of the inner planes only through intermediaries, or at the request of significant inner-planar creatures. A common claim is that this is the result of some compact or tacit agreement between the gods. On the face of it, this seems unlikely: immagine tring to get all the gods of all the pantheons, plus the various other powers such as demon-princes and arch-devils, to agree on anything!
Returning to the structure of the planes, it is normally
claimed that the Astral plane can be reached only from a Prime Material plane,
not any other sort of inner plane. I suspect that this is an error, caused by
few mages having first travelled to an Elemental Plane of Fire and then cast
Astral Walking. In view of the similarity between the Ethereal and the
Astral, it would seem much more likely that moving into the Astral corresponds
simply to moving in yet another dimension (or set of dimensions), in which
direction it is but a very short distance to the boundary between the inner and
the outer planes, and that the Astral is simply a name for those parts of the
Ethereal which are beyond this boundary. Certainly there is no continuous
spectrum of possibilities for how astral you are, unlike etherealness: once you
are on the astral, you are already travelling in the outer planes, and cannot
see or cast spells to (or have spells cast from) the prime material plane. This
point is often confused, due to the effects of Astral Spell. This
separates the soul or spirit from the body, keeping them connected by the so
called "silver cord" to avoid this simply causing death, and allows the soul to
move to the astral plane, and thence the outer planes, or to travel around the
inner planes. When in the outer planes, the soul has a second, outerplanar body
created for it, in a way similar to that in which the disembodied soul of a dead
person becomes corporeal again upon the outer plane it travels to after death.
However, when Astral Spell is used to travel to an inner plane, no second
body is formed, and thus the travellers remain disembodied spirits, capable of
interacting only by magic, and normally invisible. This effect is quite distinct
from that of a borderline-ethereal creature, which has a real body, just
slightly displaced in an ethereal direction, but the apparent effects of not
having a body, and of having a body that most people cannot reach, are
frequently confused. There are obvious differences, however: a
borderline-ethereal creature can be damaged by a Fireball, if it is
correctly cast not on the material plane but slightly displaced into the
ethereal, by targeting it with a Detect Invisible or Truesight
spell for example, while an astrally projected creature on an inner plane has no
body, and thus cannot be harmed by damage-doing spells, unless you can find
their abandoned body where they left it when they started astrally projecting.
Even on an outer plane, where a new body has materialised, damaging this will
only force the soul out and off-plane; while it is still connected to the
original body by the silver cord, it remains alive. One point that is
interesting to note is that most outer-planar creatures, when summoned to the
inner planes, seem to use a similar process (though apparently without the need
for a cord); if killed on an inner plane, they are not finally dead, but are
simply forced off-plane and unable to return for a period that varies according
to their power and plane of origin. They can only be permanently destroyed if
killed on an outer plane. Similarly, if a human traveller is killed while
astrally projected to an outer plane, they are simply forced back to their
original body, and cannot use Astral Projection again for some time. There is of
course another way to visit the outer planes, which is to take your original
body along, via a Plane Shift spell or travel through some form of gate.
If you get killed out there that way, then you're just dead. (Except or course
that your dead soul starts is journey to whichever heaven you were intending to
go to on whichever plane of Hell or the Abyss you managed to get killed on, and
it is not very easy for a dead soul to get out of Hell.)
In first edition AD&D™, it is extremely unclear what a mage's spell-books actually consist of. There seem to be two possibilities. One view is that a mage's spell books are a bound collection of scrolls, one for each spell the mage knows, together with additional notes upon the spells, detailing their uses, limitations and pitfalls. If this is so, then a mages coming upon a scroll of a spell they do not know can reasonably expect to learn the spell from the scroll, placing it in their spellbook (possibly using a Write spell to transfer the enchantment of the scroll from its current roll of paper or vellum to a page of their spellbook). They will lack some of the additional notes and comments that a teacher might have given them, but can hope to make them up with experimentation. Presumably details such as the required material and somatic components (a scroll already has the vocal components written on it) can be deduced, or discovered by a little reading at a good magical library, or are often noted down upon a scroll when it is written. (If the scroll is of one version of a reversible spell, the mage will also need to find, figure out, or spell-research the modifications necessary to casting the other version(s).) This view has much to recommend it: a scroll of one spell can be a significant treasure to a mage, if it is one they cannot already cast. The time and expense involved in writing out a scroll of each spell to be learnt prevents characters from too freely acquiring spells from each other or from NPCs, without needing the ridiculous strategems to ensure this specified on DMG1 p.39. Furthermore, until the mage is of high enough level to pen scrolls themselves, they must pay and persuade more senior mages to do so, or rely upon finding scrolls as treasure. It also neatly explains why a mage must be of reasonable level before they can take apprentices: they need to be able to write the required scrolls. It produces interesting dilemmas: do I use this scroll of Fireball now, to save us from the orcs, or do I try to keep it until I am fifth level, and can attempt to learn it? If a mage has decided to risk their spellbooks by taking them along on an adventure, then they can face the choice of reading spells off the scrolls in their spellbooks, rendering them blank and thus being unable to rememorise the spell until they can obtain an new scroll, but possibly saving the party and themselves. A party is normally in dire straits indeed before the mages will take such steps (and if more than one has the spell in their books, there may be a good deal of arguing as to who will make the saccrifice), but it can get the party out of some very tight corners — the mage is after all carrying one scroll of every spell they know, and one (or in worse situations, a volley) of them should do the trick. (This resource can be quite useful to a DM who has accidentally made an encounter too tough.) A mage's spellbooks represent a huge investment of time and money, and the mage will go to almost any lengths to recover them, and is unlikely to be able to afford the expense of making spare sets.
This view has some disadvantages as well: the spell books of a high-level mage, once captured and if succesfully de-trapped, are a treasure trove of dozens of scrolls of spells of all levels. Those which are not needed by some party mage who wishes to learn the spell they bear become potential artillery to use in the next encounter. Of course bookworms may strike, or there may be an unfortunate Fireball at the wrong moment, but if this happens too often the players will feel picked upon, and start taking extreme precautions (in a sealed leather-lined steel scroll-case in a Bag of Holding inside a waterproofed backpack with Drawmij's Iron Sack cast on it, scrolls are fairly safe, if hard to access in a hurry!). Another problem is that the spell books of a first level mage are very expensive: at 300GP each, four scrolls of 1st level spells are worth 1200GP on the open market according to the DGM1, so they must have cost the 1st level mage's mentor something of this order to make, plus time and effort. Why has he given them to an apprentice who thereafter has nothing to do with him? Even if the mage is given their scrolls on hire-purchase, they will take most of first level to pay for them. Admittedly cost of level training thereafter will easily cover one more scroll per level, so perhaps the amount of service required of an apprentice in exchange for training to 1st level covered the cost of the scrolls, but even at senior scribe rates of pay, you are talking about half a dozen years of service just for the scrolls, without any training. If the mage has taken their spell-books along with them on an adventure, and they get destroyed, then the expense of replacing them, without any ability to cast magic in the meanwhile, may be prohibitive. Spare "travelling" spellbooks, while very sensible, are also very expensive, and represent yet more scrolls for other parties to find if they defeat the mage.
The other point of view is that a mages spellbooks, while they may be magical and might require Read Magic to decipher for the first time, and may be expensive and time-consuming to write, are not scrolls. Their essential content is informational, not magical: they tell the mage how to memorise the spell, how to cast it, and detail its advantages and disadvantages. This means that a scroll is not going to enable a mage to learn the spell is carries, though it might be an aid to re-researching it. The only source of spells for a mage's spellbook, apart from research, is copying the information from the books of another mage. This has some advantages: a spell-book does not have to be as expensive as the corresponding scrolls would be. The referee can set the cost at a reasonable level by claiming that the diagrams are very difficult to reproduce, or that if the spellbooks are too cheaply constructed they will tend to get damaged (especially travelling spellbooks).
It also has some disadvantages: while printing spellbooks may
be beyond current printing technology, sooner or later some mage is going to
find a cheap way of doing it magically, whether it be Duplicate or
Fabricate spells, or a roomful of simulacrums of a high level mage, or a
high-tech dwarven printing press. If spell-books can be copied cheaply, it
doesn't matter if they wear out or get damaged: you can just recopy the spare
set you keep in the safe, or the set at the mage's guild. For a while the
ingenious inventor will be able to rake in profits by selling lots of copies of
spells to other mages (and with the proceeds buy details of more spells to
sell), but sooner or later the know-how will get out, and any mage on your world
will be able to cheaply get hold of any spell they want. If you like magical
technological revolutions, fine, but otherwise you've got one waiting to happen.
In the second edition DMG2 p.42 it is clearly stated that spell books contain
information, not magic. Fabricate is in PHB2 p.168, and it will print a
spellbook in a round with one 5th level spell. It needs raw materials, and DMG
p.42 states that materials and preparation of the book costs 50–100GP per page,
but a good deal of that must be preparing the book, and also the reasons given
for expensive materials are all the risk of the book getting damaged if not of
the finest quality. Why not just make several cheap copies? (For your reference
copy, engrave the book onto 1–2mm (plate armour weight) steel sheets: heavy, but
unlikely to be troubled by bookworms.) Get printing, mages!
While on the subject of spell books, we have adjusted the
maximum number of spells that a mage can understand due to their Intelligence.
The first change was to make the progression of number of spells with INT
smoother, by giving mages with INT 12, 14, and 16 one more spell. The second is
to restrict the number of spells for INT 19+. When this table first came out
(PHB1), there were only 30 spells at any level (and that was 1st). The
progression 12, 14, 18, 30 does not seem too unreasonable. However, we are
currently aware of well over 100 spells at 3rd, 4th, and 5th level, and the
number is growing steadily. The progression 12, 14, 18, 120 seems less
reasonable. We thus use the following modified table.
|Intelligence||Max. # of Spells/Level||Chance to Learn|
This has the useful (though annoying to characters) effect that
even good elven mages, or elderly human mages, or mages who have read books of
+1 INT or used Gems of Insight cannot learn every known spell, though they could
learn all the spells in the PHB1 (with some luck) and a good many more at most
levels. (If one of your characters wants to buy a point of INT from a Gem of
Insight (we know how to recharge them fairly quickly), see your local High-Int
representatives John Dalman (Ingram) or Phil Nanson (Zirnt). The price is half a
million GP, and there is a waiting list. If you have a Gem of Insight for sale,
they pay will well for it.) These limits, combined with the availablity of most
spells for sale at only slightly extortionate prices from our mage's guild, and
the availability of Forget Spell, has produced an interesting phenomenon
among our high level mage PCs. They have all become specialists in some field of
magic, not in the AD&D2 sense, but in the sense of having selected spells
that fit together as a collection useful for one or more activities. Among the
guild masters, we have specialists in the following: physical damage, colour,
and civil engineering; subtlety, telekinesis and optics; magically enhancing a
fighter-mage; detective work; ice and weather magic; polymorph and the
development of new magical monsters; not hurting people and weaving; and
everything (INT 22), especially metamagic. As referees we approve of this: it
adds to a character's personality and increases the opportunies for
role-playing. You are no longer just an other Nth level wizard: you have
particular interests and specialities. People may bring problems in your area of
expertise to you, or try to hire you for particular tasks. Spells researched by
a particular mage are often identifiable as such: they have not only a
particular area of usefulnes, but display that mage's approach and personality.
This is also noticable in the work of the great wizards of Greyhawk (see
Greyhawk Adventures), though their habit of using extremely long spell names
which always proclaim their designer conceals this (Bigby's Superior Force
Sculpture, I ask you, how pompous can you get? And shouldn't the lower level
version be called Bigby's Rather Shoddy Force Sculpture?)
It is extremely unclear why this spell has been included in the game, and what it really does. The spell description (PHB1 p.68, PHB2 p.137) is clear enough: when you first find a scroll, or other magical inscription, you can't read it. Cast Read Magic, and it becomes clear. Thereafter, for the rest of your life, you can read it without any trouble. This is not dispellable, and presumably anti-magic shells etc. make no difference to whether it is clear before or after, so it cannot be any sort of magical effect or attunement which makes it unclear before, and clear afterwards. Why? Do all mages have attrocious handwriting, but it can be puzzled out once you have once had it magically deciphered for you? Then why will Comprehend Languages not do? And what is the game-ballance reason for this? Its only effect is to ensure that mages don't use scrolls on the same adventure that they find them. But no-one would do that anyway?they might be cursed, and it is much safer to check them at home, even if your DM believes the ridiculous claim on DMG1 p.127 and DMG2 p.145 that there is a 5% to 30% chance that a scroll will fade unless you read it immediately after you defeat its previous owner (How does the scoll know that you have just killed the orcs in whose treasure it was? Why does it fade? Monsters defeat and take scrolls from each other regularly, and none of them can Read Magic?wouldn't they all be blank by now? Isn't a randomly rolled 5% to 30% chance the same as a 151⁄2% chance? Arrggh? Tears out hair...). Anyway, the scroll is party treasure, and hasn't been shared out yet. If the purpose of Read Magic is to enable the DM to leave scenario-clues that only a spellcaster can decipher, why not just write them in Sahuagin, and demand a Comprehend Languages? The entire thing seems very unclear, both in rationale and why it was done in the first place. Furthermore, the spell is evidently not strictly necessary, since thieves of 10th level and above can read magic user scrolls (unreliably) despite not being spellcasters at all — it seems likely that a sufficiently high-level mage could do the same, if they had to!
The best alternative explanations I can come up with for what is really going on are the following:
First possibility: the description of the effects of the spell given in the PHB are entirely wrong. Read Magic is a spell which allows the mage to cast a spell from a scroll. Thus when you want to blow up several battallions of orcs with your scroll of seven spells, all of them Fireball, you need to have seven Read Magic spells, or possibly you need to do it all within the stated 2 rounds/level duration of one Read Magic.
Second possibility: The description of the spell in the PHB is incomplete. It is traditional (though not strictly necessary) when writing scrolls and certain other magical writings, to include in the echantment a minor confusion type effect. This has the effect of making the text unreadable (except in an area of anti-magic, or possibly the true text is confused, and magic is needed to make it readable, thus defeating the use of anti-magic to safely examine treasure scrolls) to any ignorant fighter who may be peering over your shoulder, or to untrained apprentices, thus adding greatly to the mystique and mystery of magic-use, at relatively little cost in time and effort. (This would explain the unreadable pretty squiggles traditional on pictures of open mage's spellbooks.) By casting Read Magic, you can pierce this confusion effect, and read the scroll. Thereafter, one of the following happens: you can remember what it said, given the blurred text to jog your memory (which must give a lot of mages eyestrain); or alternatively the scroll remembers that you are now a "priveliged user", and lets you read it until some annoying person succesfully casts Dispel Magic on it, or it enters an area of anti-magic, whereupon it forgets about you and is unreadable until you recast Read Magic; or perhaps the spell Read Magic has in some sense duration permanent (until dispelled or destroyed by anti-magic) on you, and will repeatedly magically decipher the scroll or scrolls you read shortly after it was first cast; or, more subtly, the confusion effect built into the text is ineffective on anyone who can (roughly) remember what it says?if you ever forget which scroll is which, you can always recast Read Magic. All these explanations seem somewhat contrived, and the original motivation of mages for using this cheap gimmick seems rather petty.
Third possibility (my favourite): The description of the spell in the PHB is true but misleading. Scrolls and other magical writings are written in an obscure symbolic script, a bit like theoretical physics is written in obscure mathematical symbols. This is not really a language, so Comprehend Languages will not help. While most mages could probably eventually puzzle out a new scroll without it (perhaps with some minor risk of making a crucial mistake), Read Magic provides a very helpful (and reliable) aid in initially deciphering this mindbending stuff. Once they have read through it once or twice with the aid of Read Magic, any mage worthy of the name can manage without, through a combination of remembering and understanding what the scroll said. High level thieves, using the same techniques they use to crack codes and translate unknown languages, can (unreliably) manage without Read Magic, and can then read the scroll aloud to cast the spell from it. When first reading the Read Magic section in their brand new spellbook, an apprentice has the meaning of each symbol laboriously explained to them by their master. A possible cmplication is that different mages may each use their own private symbology, and thus Read Magic is unneccessary for reading your own magical writings (and perhaps those of your master or apprentices are almost as easy), but it is hghly advisable for deciphering another mage's private magical code/chicken-scratchings.
Fourth possibility: Ignore all references to Read Magic
everywhere in AD&D™. Scrolls can be read by anyone literate enough who is
willing to risk the attentions of the mysterious (and evidently powerful)
nutcases who scatter cursed scrolls about. Only a magic user (or a foolhardy
high-level thief) can read a scroll with the correct mental gymnastics to cast
the spell from it. Reading the verbal components of the spell from the scroll
will not allow most non-spellcasters to identify it unless they have Spellcraft
proficiency, or unless the original author was sufficiently organised to label
his scolls with the name of the spell they carry. The entire Read Magic
business is part of a complicated scam by Gygax to try to get mages to read
cursed scrolls themselves, as soon as they find them down the dungeon, so he
could laugh when they turned into liquid and drained away, and is not worthy of
any halfway competent DM.
The section on spell research on DMG1 p.115–116 does not explain a number of things. The first is why anyone would consider paying ten times the standard spell research rate for a measly +10% chance of success. Spell research is extremely expensive, and the limiting factor is almost always money. Even if this increased rate only has to be paid in the week that the +10% is wanted, not during all previous research, this is a waste of money unless your success chance is something like 1% (which is impossible without minuses). Even if you are about to have to stop research, it is likely to be cheaper to restart it than to splurge that much money!
The section on DMG2 p. 41, while giving very different chances (higher initial research time, but much greater chance of success) avoids this problem. However, it still does not give a guideline another important factor: how much does it help if the mage already knows another similar spell? The answer we have come up with for this is the following: knowlege of another similar spell decreases the initial research time by some fraction of it's spell level in weeks (fortnight's in AD&D2), to a minimum of zero. The fraction is set by the DM in view of the similarity of the two spells (it might be -level×3⁄4 between the various Extension spells, and approaching -level×1 for some of the Bigby's Hand spells, while knowing Lightning Bolt might give -level×1⁄4 or less to attempting to research a mage version of Call Lightning). If the mage knows several suitable spells, then the one giving the largest contribution is used: the contributions are not added. This rule makes it a good deal cheaper for mages wishing to research a series of very similar spells at different levels. It also makes tinkering an existing spell (for example to produce a coloured Continual Light, or a faster version of Fly at higher level) much easier.
Another important factor is having extra information or help,
or more than one mage working on the project. If the extra information is
background, telling the mage how to start off but not helping with the fine
tuning, then it should reduce the initial research time. If it is general help
or advice, then it should speed up the whole process, while if it is help in
testing and correcting a draft spell, it should speed only the experimental
stage, either by adding to success chances, or by making them more frequent.
Having more than one mage work together should be marginally more efficient than
simply letting them race each other, but not a great deal. I would suggest the
following: as long as each mage is of sufficient INT and level to cast the
desired spell, then they can perform the initial research at double rate, but
this will not reduce the funds required, merely allow them to be expended at a
higher rate. Additional mages do not help much, as there is a limit to the speed
at which material can be acquired and the work assimilated. In the experimental
stage for AD&D1, the basic cost is not increased but the random element (the
D4 roll) must be assesed for each mage, and the results added. The chance of
succes is calculated as normal, except that the experience level used is that of
the highest level mage, while the INT of all the mages helping contributes. When
the research finally succeeds, only one of the mages is guarenteed to understand
the spell (roll randomly, perhapse biasing for INT and level, to see who made
the breakthrough). However, since the spell will have been based partly on their
own ideas, and thus they have a better chance of understanding it, all other
participating mages roll to learn the spell as if their INT was two points
higher than its real value. In AD&D2, I would recommend that the same
proceedure be used for the initial research, and when the final experimentation
is being done, costs are increased somewhat, and each week each mage can roll in
turn to see whether they have succeeded: if so they automatically can learn the
spell, while all others get a +2 INT bonus on their roll to learn it.
Mage's colleges are a common fixture of AD&D™ campaigns, but are almost always run by the DM as NPC organisations. A number of our player characters have been running a real mage's college (The College of Dragonmages) for about a decade (real and game time), during which it has been very succesful: it currently has branches on three planes (at the Citadel of Light and Fire upon La'Landé, in the city of Courant on the plane of Aramar, and in the Great Library beneath the ocean on the plane of Aelos), funds of severalmillion GP, plus buildings, apprentices, and a great deal of magical knowlege, spells and books. All this has been fully played out, with all the bookeeping, buying, selling and recruitment fully refereed. A number of factors have contribuited its success, including the very able (INT 22!) Grandmaster who set it up and contributed a great deal of time, effort, money, and knowlege to get it started, and the acquisition of the abandoned library of a former major mage's college, but the major reason for its success is that it was set up the right way. This section is about how to make a mage's college a success: it should be useful both to other mages intending to set up their own colleges, and to DMs who want to know how to make their NPC organisations realistic.
The first rule is: do not sell information, except at exorbitant rates, to non-members of the college. Selling potions, casting of spells, identification of magical items, and so forth to the general community can be useful money-spinners, but copies of spells (and this normally includes scrolls) which can be recopied and sold on by the receiver should only be sold to guild members. The cost of guild membership should be low (we set it at 1000GP, and low level mages need not pay anything if they are willing to become journeymen), and the requirements upon a guild member should be sufficiently minor that most mages will be willing to undertake tham and abide by them. We set these as follows:
These are basically the minimum requirements the guild could impose, given its intended purposes of collecting magical knowlege and of subsidising magical research from the sale of magical knowlege and services, and its need to defend itself. There is an oath sworn by guild members when they join, and during the swearing the new member's mind is read using suitble magics to ensure that they intend to abide by it it, and a priest of a god of truth administers a Minor Oath spell. More serious ceremonies involving Geas or Shaeroon's Scimitar are probably unecessary: who in their right mind would bilk a guild of mages, many of them high level? We do not impose any formal requirements of alignment, but the guild can refuse to accept members it is unwilling to trust, and as yet we have no Chaotic Evil or Neutral Evil members.
There should be as many fringe benefits (beyond the right to buy spells) as possible, to encourage new members to join, thus expanding both the guild and its base of magical knowlege, as long as these benefits do not cost the guild too much. We give the following:
The organisation of the guild is less important, though it should be such as to inspire trust in potential guild members, whatever their alignment. The system we use is as follows: only mages of 7th level and above may become masters (there is a complex sytem of ranks and official robes, based upon the level of spells you can cast: this is fairly irrelevant, but most mages are vain enough to enjoy titles and robes of office). The college is run by a council of eight of the masters, elected every five years by a free vote among all the masters, and a Grand-Master (who has the right to copy guild spells for free), elected by the council for life (or 100 years, if this is shorter). (This latter post is held by Zirnt Magus, the founder of and driving force behind the college, but may be up for election soon, as he is considering retiring and becoming a True-Dragon for religious reasons.) A quorum consists of 6 council members, or 4 and the Grand-Master, and a reasonable attempt must be made to announce a council meeting to all council members as far in advance as possible. The council meets quite rarely, and much of the day-to-day running of the college is done by the Librarian, Bizzare (an unusually free-willed simulacrum of the Grand-Master), and by Perod Silverstaff, a canny ex-adventuring NPC on the council.
Mages of below 7th level can either pay 1000GP to become simply members of the guild, a rank which is very similar to that of master but without the voting rights, or can enroll as Jouneymen. Journeymen have all the benefits of masters, except that they do not have voting rights,and are paid only board, lodging, some library use, Level GP/day, and training (Level/3 (round up) standard spells per year, plus free level training) for working for the college, as they are not capable of spell research, scroll-writing, or item creation, and are not allowed to teach advanced courses. Becoming a journeyman is free, but they have extra duties: it is assumed that they will spend much of their time working for the guild. They may take leave of abscence, so long as this does not disrupt the spell-research or item creation of any of the masters. The college can send them on missions, though if danger is involved, extra pay, loan of items and/or extra spell training will normally be given.
People who have not yet been trained to first level mage can apply to become apprentices. They will be examined (mostly with Analyse Person), and if accepted there is a 10GP entrance fee. Thereafter apprentices receive board, lodging, and tuition in Elvish, Gold Draconic, other languages as available, Reading & Writing, Spellcraft nonweapon proficiency, adventuring techniques, and of course training in the theory and practice of magic. In exchange they do work (mostly of a servant/scribe/assistant/minor functionary nature, 91⁄2 months per year), though this is not particularly onerous: the college regards training apprentices as a source of future journeymen and masters, rather than as a source of revenue or unpaid servants, and is willing to make a loss on it. The training to first level takes (in the opinion of our referee, given the amount of teaching done) 22 minus INT years. At the end of this they are presented, gratis, with Read Magic and three other standard PHB spells chosen by them with their tutor's agreement (if they fail to learn a spell, and alternative will be provided: failing Read Magic flunks you). (On the plane where the college is based, a spellbook includes scrolls of all the spells in it, so this is a noticable expense to the college, but the returns are worth-while.) The apprentice is then elligable to become a journeyman: most do so.
So now you know how to organise a guild. How do you start one up? First you need several mages who are willing to pool magical knowege. At least one of them should be a full Wizard (ie 12th+), to provide magical power, and at least one must be willing to devote most of their time to running the guild. Between you you need to have access to at least a large proportion of the spells that other mages are going to want to purchase, and preferably enough spells that are rare or unknown elsewhere to attract interest. Finally you are going to need to invest a lot of money: 100,000GP is probably the minimum, and you may well need a good deal more over the first couple of years. Eventually though, the college will become self-financing, and in time will repay your investment of money in knowlege, power, and prestige. Do not be greedy and expect the college to pay any monetary return on your original investment (beyond perhaps repaying part of it): the money is much better spent on researching new spells for you all to learn.
So what do you buy? Firstly you need the site. This should have plenty of room for growth: eventually this will be a mighty magical university, remember, so don't try to squeeze it into an old warehouse. It should also be as close as possible to the largest and best stocked city you can find. Ideally you want somewhere that is an active adventuring centre, to provide as many potential members and customers as possible. You also want easy access to as big a source of craftsmen, tradesmen, apothecaries, spice-merchants, gem-cutters, engravers etc as possible, for buying spell-components from and for help with enchanting items. Eventually you may be able to get these people to come to you, but for the moment you should be as close to a major trading city as possible: inside it if you can, or within easy travelling distance. One the other hand you want to avoid pressure from other guilds, excessive taxation, obstreporous rulers, politics, wars, or superstitious townsfolk. The best solution (though not actually the one we took) is probably a landgrant of a small area (a hundred acres or so) within a few miles of, but not inside, a major trading and adventuring centre. Try to ensure that you have a friendly relationship with the local authorities, without having any onerous responsibilities. Offering to help defend the city in time of war may work well: the certainty of a strong magical defence can be worth a lot to the local rulers, and you were almost certainly going to help defend them anyway, so it costs you little. For the more ambitious, place the guild in some piece of pleasant, peaceful countryside, with no inconvenient local politics or monsters, and then build a permanent magical portal (eg. a Mirror of Mental Prowess disguised as a doorway, a Passive Item Enchantment of Teleportal, or a Permanecy plus Gate) to a building in the major city, giving the best of both worlds. (The transport magic used must be 100% safe, inconspicous enough to avoid worrying superstitious customers, and capable of coping with apprentices scurrying back and forth every five minutes with cups of tea: don't try to get by with a Helm of Teleportation!) Then if the city authorities give trouble, you can threaten to move your custom elsewhere.
Next you need the buildings. If you have the spells (Tensor's Floating Disc,Move Earth, Liquefy Stone, Warp Gravity, Continual Element, Fabricate, Duplicate, etc) you can build these yourselves, saving a good deal and ending up with more impressive (and stronger) results. (Don't use Wall of Iron or Wall of Stone, or your college will disappear the first time anyone casts Dispel Magic. A suitably beefed up Mordenkainen's Magnificent Mansion might work (as long as you don't eat the food), but does have the problem that one magical accident could dump your entire college onto the etheral plane!) It is usually cheaper in the long run, and certainly produces better results, to build large to start with rather than continually taking on extensions: on the other hand starting off with four of you and a couple of apprentices in a vast building could be intimidating. If you pay for stonemasons to build the buildings, you are going to need a good deal of money, and there will be a fairly long delay. Spend some time thinking about the design and layout of the buildings: you are going to have to live and work in them for quite a while, so it is worth getting them right. What have you forgotten? Fireing range? Reception desk, front counter/shop, side rooms for discussing important requests, guest rooms? Kitchens, dinning rooms, food stores, tea-room? Council chamber? Baths, lavatories? Sleeping quarters, in various standards, with varying degrees of security? Night watchmen's posts? Temple or shrine to your favourite god of magic (and/or healing)? Several of you should spend some time thinking about this and going over the plans.
While you are planning the buildings, think about security. Don't make the mistake of going overboard on this: you're not trying to keep out armies, and if a powerful group of adventurers try to steal from you, the guild members should fight them off or take revenge on them afterwards?you are not going to be able to afford fixed defenses that will keep them out. None the less, if all goes well you are going to have a lot of valuable magical knowlege, and probably a fair number of magical items useful to running the guild and sizable stocks of spell components and cash-in-hand. Investing a certain amount in not having them stolen may be worthwhile. There are four basic sorts of security risks you need to deal with. Firstly there are large mobs: rioting townsmen, raiding orc warbands, or pillaging soldiers. For these you need a 15' wall and a pair of stout wooden gates. Your reputation will also help, and a few magic mouths shouting dire threats, glowing lights, and maybe a Hold Spell ofWall of Fire should keep out even quite large mobs. Second there are minor thieves. (These can be considerably decreased by an agreement with the local Thieves Guild, who may well wish to purchase services (or their absence) from you sooner or later.) The answer here is in employing a few trustworthy men at arms (ex-sergents are good, or retired low or mid-level adventures if you can get a few) as night watchmen, and using some standard magical protections. Simply putting everything of value behind Wizard Locked doors (cast at 3rd level so that 7th+ mages can walk through them) at night, and scattering a few Magic Mouths about should deal with most problems (personally we find that having a 30' pet red dragon on the premises works very well: we only found the boots of the last intruder!). Thirdly there are high level thieves, opposing mages, adventuring parties, major flying monsters, demonic sendings etc. You cannot reasonably expect any set of fixed defenses to keep these out entirely (though if they do not know what the defense are they will find it a lot harder to get through then, so keep your inner defenses secret). What fixed defenses can do is, firstly, detect the intruders and sound the alarm, and secondly delay, confuse, and tire them out sufficiently to give the guild members time to arrive from their sleeping quarters to defend against them. The spells you want here are Shielding, Make Barrier, Hold Spell, Guards and Wards, and Wish. If you can arrange that no-one can teleport into or out of the rooms where all the really valuable stuff (items, spell books, etc) are kept, and that the buildings won't come down with a couple of Rock to Muds, then you are on the right lines. The last sort of problems are magical accidents, backfires, explosions in the alchemical lab, items you are identifying for a party that turn out to be cursed, escaped demons, berserk elementals, and so forth. A lot of the correct precautions here are common sense: do potentially dangerous work outdoors, or in solidly constructed areas with little to damage. When doing dangerous magical operations (like identifying items), have at least one other mage and a source of healing standing by. (We are lucky enough to have the temple/hospital of the major local healing god next door: you might want to consider recruiting or hiring a cleric, of a healing god or a god of magic, both for their everyday magical help and for emergencies.) For summoning work, a whole adventuring party's worth of guards are required as well.
Defenses do not all need to be in place at first: you only need them once you've got something to defend, but planning then before you build, rather than after, can save a lot of money and effort. Always remember, your biggest defence is your reputation as a group of skilled and powerful mages, not your walls, and if the place looks too much like a fortification, you will put people's backs up (and make them wonder what you're trying to protect).
Next you need research libraries, alchemical laboratories, and a good stock of spell components. According to DMG1 p.115, a small single person alchemical lab sufficient to brew potions costs perhaps 1000GP, and building up a spell research library costs at least 1800GP times the square of the spell level you wish to research. We would advise an outlay of at least 20,000GP on alchemical equipment (though this can be built up over some while) to obtain some better quality utensils (rock crystal retorts are much less prone to dissolving suddenly in your latest experiment, though they do represtent a large outlay) and so as to have enough laboratory space for several mages to work at once. For a library, even if you aspire only to 7th level spells, then your expenditure will be of the order of 100,000GP, though of course it will take some while to assemble this large a collection of texts (possibly one or more of you can be persuaded to give your own research library on permanent loan). It is worth having several copies of the more basic texts, particularly those used in teaching the apprentices and in level training the journeymen. Spell components should be purchased in bulk from apothecaries, jewelers, merchants, and other tradesmen: by buying in bulk when substances happen to be cheap, the guild can probably make a small profit, as well as providing a useful service to its members by keeping all the components they need in stock. This requires a considerable investment (and some foresight) if you are to avoid unexpected shortages: ensure that whoever is in charge of this side of operations has a good head for business, and can bargain. This will obviously be a good deal more major and undertaking if you expect the guild or its members to do much writing of scrolls, brewing of potions, or construction of more major items, than if you are mostly suplying goldfish and diamond dust (for the former, grow your own, all you need is a pond in the gardens; gemcutters are a good source of the latter, as they produce it as a waste material, though they also use it themselves as a grinding powder).
The most important starting resource by far, though, is magical knowlege. The real selling point you have to attract potential members is easy access (at only slightly exhorbitant prices) to any spell they want. The larger the proportion of standard spells you can offer them, and (especially) the more non-standard spells available here and nowhere else, the more attracted they will be. And every new member will bring more spells (or at very least, more ability and funds to research them) and more income from selling spells to them. It is extremely expensive to research new spells (AD&D1 ~ Level ×(Level+3) × 450GP, AD&D2 ~ Level ×(Level+) × 200?2000GP). If you can sell them to five mages for one fifth of that, they have saved a lot of money compared to researching them themselves, and you have enough money to research the next spell you want to research. The real money will start coming in once you have a fair sellection of rare or unique spells: a rich high level mage joining the guild and buying all of the ones they want can rake in 100,000GP or more at a go. The more spells you can scrape together between you, especially rare or unique ones, the better start your college is going to have. If you can find any rumors/Legend Lore/ Contact Other Plane/Commune etc of a good source of spells (the library of a ruined mage's college, the spellbooks of a notorious Lich, or whatever), gather the best party you can assemble or hire (try offering them all the loot apart from the spellbooks, if nothing else works) and go and capture it. The publicity will do your college no harm: get a bard to write a ballad about it.
So what do you actually charge for spells? The real answer is?what the market will bear. We operate on a world where a mage's spellbook contains a scroll of each spell they know, and where the magic item creation system described in Chapter 3 is used. Thus the materials cost, ignoring time, labour, and chances of failure, for entering a spell in a mage's books is 1st: 320GP, 2nd: 480GP, 3rd: 640GP, 4th: 960GP, 5th: 1280GP, 6th: 1920GP, 7th: 2560GP, 8th: 3840GP, 9th: 5120GP. (If you use the DMG2 p.42 system, it averages 1st: 175GP, 2nd: 225GP, 3rd: 275GP, 4th: 325GP, 5th: 375GP, 6th: 425GP, 7th: 475GP, 8th: 525GP, 9th: 575GP, or twice that for travelling spell books.) We charge 1st: 750GP, 2nd: 1125GP, 3rd: 1500GP, 4th: 2500GP, 5th: 3000GP, 6th: 4500GP, 7th: 6000GP, 8th: 9000GP, 9th: 12000GP for common spells (those in the PHB1), and twice this for rarer ones (these is a discount, of only 20% once scroll-writing material cost are allowed for, if the mage is willing to write the scroll themself). If the mage fails to learn the spell, they can return the scroll and get a 90% refund. Since typical (DMG1 p.115) research costs are 1st: 2250GP, 2nd: 4500GP, 3rd: 8100GP, 4th: 12600GP, 5th: 18000GP, 6th: 24300GP, 7th: 31500GP, 8th: 39600GP, 9th: 48600GP, buying the spell is a good deal cheaper (and quicker) than researching it yourself, but we can still afford to do a fair amount of spell research from our spell-selling revenue. If you are operating on an AD&D2 world, an important cost is the expected cost to a mage of researching the spell given a scroll of it. You are unlikely to be able to sell spells for a great deal more than this, though you do have an advantage in convenience and speed. The exact level of this cost depends upon your referee, particularly on his reading of DMG p.41 "the time and cost is half normal"?ie half time (and thus half cost), or half cost for half time, ie quarter cost total, but it is likely to be around a third of the research cost given above. The other important factors in setting spell costs are demand and competition. If no-one will pay your prices, they are too high, while if everyone is falling over each other to buy from you, you could charge more. And if there is another mage's guild in the area, or enough lone mages who will sell spells, you are going to have to reach some agreement (formal or tacit) with each other about prices, or your profits will be forced down to zero.
Other sources of revenue for your guild include the following: Casting spells for people (we charge 50GP/spell level plus component cost per casting up to 5th level), selling scrolls (if this is diferent from selling spells) and potions (we find the favourites, after healing potions, are Polymorph Self, Fly, Resist Fire/Cold/Lightning, and Invisibility,; the healing temple down the road does a brisk trade in Extra-Healing, Neutralise Poison, and Cure Disease, and are eagerly awaiting the time their high priest reaches high enough level to start charging a bomb for Raise Dead and Heal potions), Polymorph Any Object magic swords of one size to another (particularly lucrative as it is dispellable), Forget Spell, and of course Identify and Identify II. For identifing items, since we do not wish to identify every cursed item discovered in the entire area, we charge 50-500GP per Identify I, depending upon the level of the mage casting it, and the party must agree to cover the cost of undoing any damage done by cursed items. For Identify II, we offer an alternative system: will will fully identify any (reasonable) assorted set of items until we believe we have accertained all their properties, in exchange for the right to pick one of them (whose details we do not undertake to tell the party). Since most of the local adventuring parties who are of low enough level not to identify all their own loot have realised that the guild tends to take things which are useful to a mage's guild, rather than to adventurers, we make a reasonable amount of custom. It also gives us a source of stock for another of our moneyspinners: the magic item shop. As well as selling potions, we buy and sell items. (DMs note: it is VERY important to keep exact track of the stock of any magic item shop, otherwise you may feel tempted to say "Yes, they do have a Ring of Protection in stock".) Magic item shops never have rings of protection in stock: nobody sells them and everybody wants one. What they have is junk, curios, and minor items that the low level adventures can't afford and the high level ones don't want. A selection of our current stock includes: a glowing +1 Trident, a Wand of Wonder (44 charges), a suit of Ringmail +1, a Ring of Shooting Stars (very expensive!), two +1 Daggers, a +2 Double-handed Sword, chaotic neutral Int 12 Ego 3 Detects Slopes, and an Elven Cloak. None of it useless, but there's only one really good item.) The normal rules at the shop are: we only sell magic items for magic items (though we will buy them for cash), we make at least a 2:1 profit on any transaction (if you insist on paying cash, we charge even more profit: we'd rather build up our stocks); and we don't buy things were not going to be able to sell to someone, sometime (though the Grand-Master does have a fine collection of cursed and flawed items, he doesn't pay much for them).