Monday, November 26, 2012

Memorizing Magic and Clerical "Freecasting"

I was just reading an old thread on DF and found the most interesting idea.  Allowing Clerics to "freecast" instead of having to memorize their spells.

Essentially, the cleric still has only x number of spells per level as usual, but instead of choosing and memorizing them in the morning, they can cast any spell they have knowledge of on the spot.

To me, this does help alleviate Clerics being used as walking band-aids because they are not so pressured to spend all of their memorized spells on nothing but healing spells.  Also, it can allow greater choice and usage of other not-as-commonly used spells to be used as needed.

Once their number of spell slots is used up, they're back to relying on staves, wands, scrolls, etc.. if they have them.

I like this idea a lot.

It also came up questioning whether a similar change could be made to Mages without breaking them in the Btb system.

Perhaps one thing that could be done with Mages is to allow them to cast any spell in their spellbook on the spot BUT...

Using the % to know spell as per their INT score, memorized spells would have a higher percentage of success, say 85%.  All other spells cast spontaneously would cost the Mage an extra round to concentrate  or look it up and they must roll their chance to know % in order for it to be successful.

This would encourage Mages to still focus on memorizing spells yet provide them an opportunity to cast spontaneously for something that was needed on the spot.  All in all though, they are still limited by casting only as many spells as they are allotted per level.

Like the above Clerics, they would rely on staves, wands, scrolls and potions once the number of spell slots had run out.

Something else about Clerics while I'm here. I have always taken the image of the cleric as something of a fighting priest.  I have a Knight Templar type in mind here.  These aren't just churchy scholars we're talking about here.  These guys go out and kick butt in the name of their deity.

These are the guys the little churchy fellas call in when things need to be handled more aggressively than just praying over the issue holding each others hands.  (because of this,  I have never gotten the multi-class fighter/cleric.  To me, that is what the Cleric is all about.

I don't just see these guys as walking band aids to begin with.  If a Knight Templar could have magic powers to use given to him by his deity, he would be wanting the spells that let him call down the fire from the sky and drive the enemy down before him.

Once the battle was over, he might want to have some healing spells to help his comrades for fighting so bravely at his side and to aid innocent bystanders caught up in the cross-fire, so to speak.

If some of the enemy got away or there was someone who sent the ones he just whooped up on, some spells that would allow him to track down those next on the list would be of value as well.

I think I am going to try my spell use changes in a few games here to see how they work out.


  1. I take the 3rd edition approach (one of the few things I've taken from 3e): clerics can burn any memorized spell in order to cast a cure spell of equivalent level or lower.

  2. I've never played any other edition than 1E. Heck, I've never even read any other edition.

  3. What I like to do is just allow a mage to cast whatever is in their spellbook using the tables on page 26 of the Players Handbook for example). So a level 3 mage can cast any level 1 spell twice per day and any level 2 spell once per day. But now for the annoyance...

    It does cause spellcasting players to take a large amount of time with their turn. This is more so if unfamiliar with the spells. Since they can cast anything they have, they end up looking through the Players Handbook deciding which spell to cast while others are sitting around the table waiting. It is because of this I am thinking about returning to the "spell preparation" for any spell casting class just so the turns move quicker. If you memorized MAGIC MISSILE and WEB…then you will be limited in choices when it is your turn to act and not re-reading the entire spell section during the game.

    1. I can see that happening in terms of taking too much time on the players part.

      I think I can minimize that that by limiting them to the spells available to them per level in their spellbook rather than just any spell at each level they are able to use. So they spend some time looking through their own spellbook, but not poring over every first or second, third, etc... spell in the PHB.

      At least, that's what I hope will happen.I'll find out and report on how it goes soon.

    2. If you don't mind using OSRIC stuff for AD&D, just use the OSRIC SPELLS tool at my site. The one downside is that there are no UA spells available due to copyright.

    3. I don't think I saw that one. you have so much good stuff there. it's like going into an AD&D candy shop. heh heh.

      I rarely use UA anyway except for cantrips really.