I’ve been reading the Player’s Handbook a fair amount lately as one might imagine – and I’m in the odd spot of thinking that they made one spot almost a little bit too much in the player’s favor. That’s Wizard’s learning new spells – the bit where they just “get” two spells everyone level they advance. This is evidently for the mere cost in time and materials that it takes to record a new spell.
I don’t like this.
The difficulty or at least the dynamics involved in gaining new spells was one of the few restrictions or limitations on the Wizard class as they grew in power. It made the “search for spellbooks” one of the most pressing of issues in being a mage – and I made the point of coming up with a compromise between the “spell learning” rules of the canon game and the idea that it made sense that wizards had a common corpus of spells that they all knew of the various levels. The idea of this was that there were a series of standard spellbooks that where known as “codices” (singular “codex”) as opposed to the “Grimoire” in which Wizards record their personal spells.
I think that the idea of two spells every level is ultimately fine, but they don’t come from “nowhere” – the Wizard either has to own a copy of Codex of some sort (in which they are free to copy as many spells out it as they like or are able), they have to be members in good standing of a Mages Guild with access to their library and codices (which gets them the two spells each level, or more if they pay for them), or they have to have cultivated a good relationship with another mage or retained a good relationship with their Master (in which case they will grant them the two spells per level, possibly more depending upon the relationship).
I’ve talked to my players and they really didn’t like the “roll to know spells” from 1E, so I’m not going so far as to return to those rules (though I was tempted). But I think that the need to decipher the poor handwriting, odd codes, turns of phrase, hidden formulas, and similar issues – all perhaps in one or more languages that the character may or may not know is trouble and complication enough for players with Wizards. I really do see this as similar to reading tomes in Call of Cthulhu – with some of the same potential side effects…
The one thing really lacking in either the Player’s Handbook or the Dungeon Master’s Guide were rules for spell research on the player’s part. Knowing my players I am positive that I’ll end up having to improvise this at some point or another.