I note with some amusement and even a bit of dis-agreement the discussions regarding magic use and magic users in AD&D.
Some folks seem downright hostile to magic and want to minimize it's use as much as possible.
I look at it this way, this is a fantasy world. It's a place of
imagination and suspending belief in "real" things to a certain extent.
I agree that magic and it's use should have limits. However, if
we limit it too much, what's the point of having it involved in the game
to begin with?
In the case of magic users and illusionists, they gain their use
of magic by studying spells and rely on their intelligence, writing
skills and memories to carry the spells out.
I believe that as an apprentice to a Master Magic User, one is
expected to commit to rote memorization certain spells that must be
performed frequently and without effort or doubt. No Master will want
to do the menial tasks of living when they have an apprentice around who
needs to practice.
No, I believe that magic users needn't be limited too much in how
often they can use magic in a given period of time. Nor should they be
able to do anything they want, as often as they want for as long as
My compromise is this... Relative to Experience Level, a
magic user can completely commit to long term memory a certain number of
spells. Those spells he or she should be able to use at will.
Having said that, I believe that until the spell caster has
become thoroughly familiar with the working and wording of the spell(s)
in question, they will only be able to perform it on a limited basis.
My number is 10.
A cleric or druid who doesn't learn spells from books get their
new spells from their deity or otherwise based on contemplation, prayer
and meditation. However, I believe they must also successfully study
and practice their spells so many times before they master those as
well. I subject them to the same per level rule as the Magic Users.
All of these spell casters must spend a portion of each day
preparing to master these new spells but do not lose the ability and
thus have no need to study previously mastered spells.
Both the DM and the player are responsible for tracking and
communicating with each other the level of mastery of any spell users
cache of spells and their level of mastery of each of them.
In terms of how many times may a spell caster cast spells on any given day, I have a different approach there as well I limit the number of times a mastered spell can be cast to the experience level of the spell caster.
Thus a 1st level spell caster can only cast each of their known spells
once per day. 2nd level twice. Third level 3 times and so on.
Spells that have not been mastered yet can only be cast once
per day regardless of the spell caster's level until it has been
I do agree that a spell caster's hit dice should remain low
because they spend their time and energy on magic use, not on physical
I believe this approach to magic and magic use in AD&D, at
least in my world, has allowed to make the game exciting, fun and still
challenging at the same time.