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Optional Rules for Spellcasters
Spellcasters are an integral part of any fantasy campaign. After all, without magic, most RPGs would simply be historical, rather than fantastic.
When I think of mages, it brings to mind vivid contests of wits where the spellcaster relies not only on his power and knowledge, but on intuition and split-second descision making. The standard AD&D rules governing mages do not allow for this, however, and I feel that they sell the spellcaster short.
Under AD&D rules, a spellcaster (wizard or priest) must spend x hours memorizing the spells that he chooses beforehand. This is very limiting, especially on lower-level characters.
For instance, a level one mage has only one spell - often magic missle (or another combat spell)... after all, without such a spell he is totally useless in a fight. But what if he falls off a cliff? Even if he has feather fall in his spellbook, he helplessly plummets to his death.
Instead of this unrealistic system, I use the following method:
Spellcasters are still limited to their normal amount of spells per level. They must still spend the normal amount of time in study. However, they are allowed free access to any spell in their current spellbook.
What this translates to is that the above level mage now has a much better survival chance (without the DM pampering him). In a fight, he can cast magic missle or sleep; in a cave, he can use light, or in a fall, he can cast feather fall. I find that this allows for more flexible, enjoyable, and realistic role-playing.
Back to the DM's corner
Thanks to t_catt11 for this contribution!