View  Edit  Attributes  History  Attach  Print  Search
Main / Research

Chapter 2


The first step in researching a spell is defining exactly what the spell is intended to accomplish. The player begins by making a rough draft of the proposed spell, including its effects, school, range, duration, and area of effect. The components for the proposed spell should be established before the research begins. If the spell is of a relatively low level, the components should be fairly simple, but higher-level spells might require unusually obscure components, such as the cloak of a spectre, the freshly clipped toenail of a troll, or a handful of dust from the Abyss. In any case, the wizard must have all necessary components in hand before he can begin his research The DM will then adjust these elements, making sure the proposed spell does not duplicate the effects of an existing spell, or is not a minor variation of an existing spell. The DM, working with the player, will establish the spell's casting time, saving throw, and, most importantly, its level. Every proposed spell is not automatically acceptable; the DM has final say.

Cost of Research

There are two categories of expenses required for research: the Basic Investment, and the Operational Cost.

The Basic Investment is a one-time expenditure, representing the funds spent to buy the scrolls and books needed, as well as the funds necessary to assemble a suitable laboratory.

The library costs for each spell level are summarized here. There are two ways a wizard can avoid the Basic Investment for a library.

1. The wizard already has a suitable library of his own.
2. The wizard has access to a large library, such as those existing in major cities or in academies of magic

The Basic Investment for a laboratory is 1,000-6,000 (1d6 x 1000) gp. As with the library, there are two ways a wizard can avoid paying the Basic Investment for a laboratory:

1. The wizard has purchased a laboratory previously. Once a wizard purchases a lab, it becomes a permanent part of his possessions. He never has to buy another one unless, of course, it blew up in a lab accident or is otherwise destroyed.
2. The wizard has access to a laboratory in a major city or at a magical academy. A city or academy that has a suitable library will usually have a suitable laboratory.

The Operational Cost is an ongoing expense necessary to sustain the research.

The Operational Cost must be paid every week and mainly represents the price of additional books, supplies, and scrolls. The weekly Operational Cost is equal to 200-1,200 (2d6 x 100) gp. There is no way for a wizard to avoid paying the weekly Operational Cost

Initial Preparation

After the Basic Investment is taken care of the wizard must spend preparation time before the actual research begins. This initial preparation involves basic reading and reviewing of notes; in addition, the wizard must prepare himself mentally and physically for the grueling task ahead. This initial preparation lasts a number of weeks equal to the level of the proposed spell, plus one. Therefore, a wizard attempting to research a 5th-level spell must spend six weeks in initial preparation

Research Time and Chance of Success

The minimum amount of time needed to research a spell is two weeks per spell level; for instance, a minimum of eight weeks is required to research a 4th-level spell. During this time, the wizard is poring over old texts, cross-checking references, taking notes, and conducting experiments.

It is essential that the wizard is free from interruption during his research. Since 10-12 hours per day of intensive study are required, a wizard engaged in research is precluded from participating in adventures or any other time-consuming activity. If a wizard's study is interrupted he must begin with the initial preparation again.

While engaged in research, the wizard must pay the required Operational Cost every week. If he runs out of funds, he must interrupt his research to earn more money before he can restart. When the minimum research period is over, the wizard can check to see if he has discovered his spell. If he fails to discover it, he can continue with his research and check again every week thereafter.

The following formula is used to check for a successful discovery: Success chance = {10% (base chance) + researcher's Intelligence + researcher's experience level} -(level of spell being researched x 2)

As an example, assume that a 7th-level wizard with an Intelligence of 10 is researching a 3rd-level spell. His success chance is equal to 10% (base chance) + 10 (his Intelligence) + 7 (his experience level) -6 (the level of the spell, multiplied by 2). Therefore, his chance of success is 21%.

If the wizard fails the check, he can continue his research and check for success again in another week. (Note that this chance of success is somewhat lower than it would be if the wizard were trying to learn an existing spell. But this is logical since the uncertain nature of a new spell makes learning more difficult.)

The wizard can increase his chance of success by spending more than the required amount of money for his weekly Operational Costs. For every extra 2,000 gp he spends per week (this is in addition to his weekly Operational Costs), his base chance increases by 10%. The base chance of 10% can be increased to a maximum of 50% in this way (the wizard can spend as much as 8,000 extra gp per week). In our example above, if the wizard had spent an extra 8,000 gp, his chance of success would have been 61% (50 + 10 + 7-6). The extra expenditure applies to the current week only--if he wants to increase his chance again next week, he'll have to spend extra money again

Example of Research

An 8th-level wizard with an Intelligence of 12 is attempting to research a 3rd-level spell. This is his first attempt at researching a spell. He has no library or laboratory.

The wizard has no lab, so the DM determines that the wizard must spend 1,000 gp to establish a suitable lab. The wizard has no library, so he spends 8,000 gp over the next eight weeks locating the appropriate books. The DM establishes the Operating Costs to research this spell at 500 gp per week.

The wizard spends four weeks of preparation time before beginning his research. The wizard begins his research. He spends six consecutive, uninterrupted weeks in research, the minimum number required to research a 3rd-level spell. During this period, he invests 3,000 gp in Operating Costs (500 gp for six weeks). At the end of six weeks, he's ready to check whether his research has been successful. Note that the value of his library has grown to 9,500 gp during this period.

The DM determines that the wizard's chance of success is equal to 10 (the base chance) + 12 (the wizard's Intelligence) + 8 (the wizard's level) -6 (the level of the spell, multiplied by 2), which is 24%. The DM rolls percentile dice, and the result is 66. The check fails. (If the wizard gives up at this point, he won't be able to learn the proposed spell unless he starts from scratch at some point in the future; in the meantime, he can console himself with the fact that he has acquired a nice library.)

The wizard continues his research for another week. He spends the required 500 gp for his Operating Costs, but also spends an additional 4,000 gp to raise his success chance by 20% (the cost is 2,000 gp per 10% boost). The increased investment affects the percentage chance for this week only.

At the end of the week, the DM checks again to see if the wizard has been successful. This time, the wizard's chance of success is 44% (the 20% increase represents the additional investment of 4,000 gp). The roll is 34, so the wizard is successful--he can add the new spell to his spell book.

If the check had failed again, the wizard could continue the research for as many weeks as he is willing, until either his patience or his money runs out. He must pay the Operational Costs each week.

Researching Existing Spells

In addition to researching new spells, a wizard can research existing spells. These would be spells that are known in the campaign, mostly the Common and Uncommon spells. Since it makes sense that information about existing spells is easier to find than information about spells that do not yet exist, it is easier for a wizard to research them.

To account for this difference, make the following adjustments in the above procedures when a wizard is researching an existing spell: the Operational Cost is reduced to 100-600 (1d6 x 100) gp per week and the base chance of success is increased from 10% to 30%.

The lab costs, library costs, preparation time, and minimum number of weeks for researching existing spells are the same as research of new spells. The cost of increasing the base chance is also the same (2,000 gp per 10% increase), as is the total amount that can be spent (8,000 gp). Notice, however, that spending the 8,000 gp maximum increases the base chance to 70% (20 points higher than the 50% limit when researching new spells.)

Notice that a wizard's chance of successfully researching a spell could exceed 100%, particularly when a high-level wizard is researching an existing low-level spell. Still a roll of 95 or higher is treated as failure.