Using Spell Research to augment your roleplay…

2007 August 23
by Dante

Once upon a time, there was a wizard named Medric. Medric was fascinated with rope tricks, so much so he spent much of his youth learning how to tie knots, do simple rope magic tricks, and generally annoy his parents.

As Medric ventured out into the world and had to use his spellcasting ability to keep himself safe, he quickly became resolved to use his interest in ropes to aid him in his quest.

I asked my Dungeon Master how he wanted to approach spell research, and his answer surprised me a little: write up a spell description based on the rules, and also begin to roleplay researching the spell. When he was satisfied with both sides of that equation, I could add the spell to my repertoire.

Medric spent the next several sessions researching different spells to base his rope magic, and he decided on a force spell similar to Magic Missle to propel the end of his rope through objects, after which it would do some residual rope burn damage if he continued to concentrate to direct the rope.

While he was researching, he decided to use this spell to bust through some melons and other various produce. After some practice, the DM allowed me to use the spell on some attacking orcs. It didn’t end too well for the orcs, and Medric was happy that his research paid off.

During the spell research time, the DM would flex how effective the spell was based on a d20 roll. Sometimes it would do more damage than I had written in the spell description that I provided, and other times the spell would fail outright. Once, Medric’s rope backfired and entangled him for several rounds.

I found this to be a much more engrossing way to research new spells, and certainly a lot more fun as a player than spending time slaving over a spell description and just having it appear as reality. It also presented some great opportunities for the rest of the PCs to see what was coming and experience the highs and lows along with my wizard.

I liked this approach so much that I have adopted it to use with my own campaigns. I’d love to hear thoughts on this process!

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