... now with 35% more arrogance!

Saturday, April 17, 2010


That post about using cantrip-based scrolls and wands to make 1st level magic-users more active magically without actually increasing their powers got me thinking about cantrips in general. I've soured on AD&D and especially Unearthed Arcana, but I did like the idea of cantrips. What I don't like are spellbooks of cantrips or special spell slots for cantrips.

My current thinking on spellbooks is that they do not contain spells per se, but the necessary formulae to power the spells you know; astrological tables, mystical symbols linked to season, day and time of preparation, that sort of thing. I think of cantrips as being the simplest magics, the ones that don't need complicated formulae, so you don't need a spellbook to prepare a cantrip. You do need to prepare it, however, or at least power it. There are two ways to do this:
  • Bleed power from a similar spell you've prepared. You can use the Bluelight cantrip if you have Light or Continual Light currently memorized, or use the Firefinger cantrip if you have Burning Hands or Fireball memorized. I'd require a saving throw or Intelligence check modified by the memorized spell's level to prevent losing the spell, perhaps with a risk of the full spell being cast uncontrollably (maybe only under extreme stress, though; no accidentally Fireballing your firewood on a campout.)
  • Prepare the cantrip on the spot, if you have an open spell slot. Thus, a 1st level magic-user who has cast a Sleep spell already can spend the next rest period to prepare a cantrip, storing it as if it were a 1st level spell. Because this doesn't require a spellbook, a 1st level magic-user can remain magically relevant for an entire excursion.
Now, I'm getting some ideas on how to portray a magical school, but that will have to wait for a future post.

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