Thursday, March 18, 2010

House Rule - Any Spell, Any Time

I'm thinking of implementing a house rule that spell casters can cast any spell that they know (i.e. in a spell book etc.) at anytime up to their normal number of spells per day. This would eliminate "memorizing" spells for the day but would still require rest and prayer to regain spell "power" for the day.

I've always had a minor beef with having to anticipate which spell I could possibly need for the coming day and running into situations that I didn't expect. Sure I have spells for it in my spell book, but the party hardly ever wants to rest for the day so I can memorize Knock.

I'm trying to foresee how badly this will screw up a game, but I don't see that it would do anything other than alleviate the "Sorry guys, I didn't memorize that spell today" syndrome that I'm sure many of us have encountered.

I can hear your Sorcerer argument coming already "Wouldn't that eliminate the need for a sorcerer as that's sorta their gig?"

Not necessarily, they would still get more spell uses per day with a more limited selection as normal. And a wizard would still have a wider selection and less uses per day. Clerics already have the ability to change spells memorized into healing spells so it really wouldn't be too much of a stretch for them.

My concern is that it would make them overshadowing to the rest of the party if they have spells for every situation readily at hand, but maybe that would only allow them to be more of a utility character to more easily fill gaps in skills that the party has.

Maybe an option for a cleric or wizard to give up a memorized spell to read one out of his spell or prayer book but at a much longer casting time would be a good solution.

Any opinions before I ruin a game?


  1. Would you break it down by level or just spell total? Giving a 5th level wizard 8 or 9 fireballs a day instead of 1 or 2 will definitely change things.

    Something I did at one point was let casters use their spell levels per day how they wanted, so a caster with 4 1st, 3 2nd and 2 3rd level spells would have 16 levels worth of casting power (I forget how I handled 0 level spells).

  2. They would still have Spells Per Level as normal, so a 5th level wizard could cast 3 1st, 2 2nd and 1 3rd level spells, but any of those spells he has in his book.

  3. I've used this house rule before, with mixed results. It can get kind of unwieldy later on, when MU's have amassed dozens of spells, so maybe consider a cap, like "memorizing" 3 spells for every 1 you can cast each day.

    Ultimately, my undoing for this method is reading a Vance story - nothing explains the appeal of Vancian casting quite so well as Vance himself!

    I have found that being extremely liberal with how MU's utilize their spells helps alleviate the "what if I memorize the wrong spells" dilemma. For instance, letting a MU who doesn't have "knock" memorized force a door open with levitation, blast it to tinder with magic missile, etc.

  4. That's a good point @Al about a more liberal use of spells in situations. I think that is one of the brighter points of early D&D, that you could make those liberal interpretations easier. Now, there are so many rules for every little thing, you feel wrong for going off the reservation or as a player you feel like you shouldn't even ask.

  5. I actually use this house rule myself. My much-more experienced DM'ing spouse asked whether I thought wizards were under-powered. I was slightly worried about how a magic-using character might overshadow the other PCs as they increased in levels ... but then I ended up with only one in the group, a cleric.

    Since NPCs operate on the same principle, at least I don't have to deal with whining about "oh how convenient it is that this wizard happened to have just exactly the spells he needed to screw with us."