Rolemaster - Learning Spells

by Thomas A. Stobie, SFO

This document provides additional options for learning spells in the Rolemaster Standard System/Rolemaster Fantasy Roleplaying.


Table of Contents


Introduction

As a gamemaster, I have found it useful to address a number of aspects of learning spells. This article presents a number of new options applicable to a variety of campaign settings.

I introduce the concept of restricted spell lists, which a character can develop but at higher cost than closed lists. I discuss classifying the spell learning capabilities of non-spell users. I discuss dealing with worlds where magic is easier or harder to learn than normal. I provide expanded spell list development point cost tables to handle these concepts. I discuss a number of new spell learning talents, flaws, training options, and magic items.

In this article, I assume that spell-users spend their idle time studying their current lists, meditating on them, and experimenting with their application. When a character advances a level, any list they know or have access to, they can develop.

Furthermore, this article assumes that the DP cost of developing a list is constant and does not change by rank developed. The cost of the 1st rank in the list is the cost for any additional ranks. I have found this to be balanced and reasonable.


Restricted Spell Lists

I have added a new category of spell lists, restricted spell lists, to represent lists that a character has access to on a more limited basis that closed lists within his own realm. In certain worlds, some lists may harder to find or learn and should be reclassified from closed (or even open) to restricted. Likewise, for certain classes, you may desire to make certain own realm other base lists more available to certain classes. For example, it is useful to say that all pure and hybrid spell-users of at least 10th level can learn alchemist base lists of their realm as restricted lists.

I leave it up to the gamemaster to determine for each class and player which spell lists, if any, to classify as restricted.

Table Modifications:


Classification of Non-Spell Users

For the purpose of learning spells, it is useful to classify non-spell users based on the ease with which they can learn spells, relative to other non-spell users. I propose 4 groups and have listed which non-spell user profession I have associated with each of them. Gamemasters should feel free to change this classifications to better suit their world.

  1. G1: scholarly [Layman & Sage]
  2. G2: some scholarly [Rogue, Warrior Monk, & Swashbuckler]
  3. G3: non-scholarly [Thief & Outrider]
  4. G4: very non-scholarly [Fighter & Barbarian]

These four groups can also be associated with the other magical skills as well.


Difficulty of Learning Magic

In different worlds magic may be more or less difficult to learn than normal. This article presents three categories, which can be interpreted as high-magic, standard (fantasy) and low-magic. The gamemaster should determine which applies, by realm, to his world(s).

Magic Learning Difficulty Adjustments

These adjustments are applied to how the Expanded Spell List Development Point Cost Tables are used.

For Spell Casters where X represents the type P=Pure, H=Hybrid, & S=Semi,

For Non-Spell Casters (classified as described above)


Expanded Spell List Development Point Cost Tables

Note that Base represents "Own Base" and O-Base represents "Other Base".
Non-Arcane Spell-Caster Spell Development Point Cost Table
Realm
Type
List
Type
Non-Arcane Non-Spell Caster
P+PureP- H+Hyb.H- S+SemiS- G0G1G2G3G4G5
OwnBase 3/3/33/3/33/3/3 3/3/33/3/33/3/3 5/5/56/6/66/6/6
Open 3/3/34/4/44/4/4 3/3/34/4/44/4/4 6/6/68/88/8 8/81015202530
Closed 4/4/44/4/46/6/6 4/4/44/4/46/6/6 8/810/1010/10 101525304050
Restricted 6/6/66/6/68/8/8 6/6/66/6/68/8/8 101215 152030405060
O-Base 6/6/68/810/10 8/810/1012/12 202530 2530506080100
Training 4/4/4 4/4/4 6/6/6 8/8
OtherOpen 8/810/1012 101215 253040 3040606090100
Closed 152025 202530 405060 45609090105110
O-Base 405060 506075 7580100 80100120120120120
Training 8/8 8/8 12/12 16/16
ArcaneOpen 5/56/68/8 4/45/56/6 101215 121520253040
Closed 8/810/1012 6/68/810/10 151630 304550556080
O-Base 405060 506080 758090 6080808590120
Arcane Spell-Caster Spell Development Point Cost Table
Realm
Type
List
Type
Arcane
P+PureP- S+SemiS-
OtherOpen 4/45/56/6 101215
Closed 5/56/68/8 202530
O-Base 8/810/1012 506075
Training 8/8 12/12
ArcaneBase 3/3/33/3/33/3/3 5/5/56/6/66/6/6
Open 3/3/34/4/44/4/4 8/811/1111/11
Closed 4/4/44/4/46/6/6 12/1216/1616/16
Restricted 6/6/66/6/68/8/8 16/162025
O-Base 10/1012/1215 202530


New Spell Learning Talents

These talents make it easier for a character to develop spell lists. The costs are given in the Spell Learning Talent & Flaw Cost Table.


New Spell Learning Flaws

These flaws makes it harder for a character to develop spell lists. The costs are given in the Spell Learning Talent & Flaw Cost Table.


Spell Learning Talent & Flaw Cost Table
Talent or Flaw Cost by Spell-Caster Type
- Specifics PureHybrid Semi-Non-

Talents
Additional Base List
- Chosen from own realm open lists 33 5N/A
- Chosen from own realm closed lists 55 7N/A
- Chosen from own realm restricted lists 77 10N/A
Additional Closed List
- Chosen from own realm restricted lists 22 33
- Chosen from own realm other base lists 79 1212
- Chosen from other realm open lists 1315 17N/A
- Chosen from other realm closed lists 1517 20N/A
- Chosen from other realm base lists 2025 N/AN/A
Additional Open List
- Chosen from own realm closed lists 22 35
- Chosen from own realm restricted lists 33 57
- Chosen from own realm other base lists 1012 15N/A
- Chosen from other realm open lists 1517 20N/A
- Chosen from other realm closed lists 1820 25N/A
Additional Restricted List
- Chosen from own realm other base lists 57 1010
- Chosen from other realm open lists 1013 15N/A
- Chosen from other realm closed lists 1315 18N/A
- Chosen from other realm base lists 1520 25N/A
Instinctive Spell Learner 33 33
Mastered Spell List N/AN/A 35
Rapid Diversified Spell Learner 2525 N/AN/A

Flaws
Narrow Focused Spell Learner -10-10 N/AN/A
Non-Instinctive Spell Learner -3-3 -3N/A
Requires Assistance to Learn Spells -30-30 -20N/A

N/A indicates that this particular talent/flaw is not available for this spell caster type.


Advanced Training Options

This section describes a mechanism by which characters can gain additional talents or other benefits. These options require experience point (EP) expenditure and should be carefully considered before purchasing.

Rules Applicable to all Advanced Training Options:

  1. Advanced Training requires that a certain amount of time (days or weeks) be spent on it. Eight hours must be spent on the training each day.


  2. Advanced Training requires a permanent EP expediture by the student. This experience cost assumes that experience earned by the student is applied to the training itself (and should not be awarded by the gamemaster to the character). If the remaining EPs of the character are less than that required for the current level of the character, the current level does not drop nor does the experience point total for the next level change. (Expended experience points do not count towards level advancement.)


  3. Instructors should be highly skilled in the subject and usually require some form of payment for their time.


  4. If a new talent is gained, no new flaw is required to be added to offset it as the experience point expenditure covers the cost.


  5. It is possible for two individuals to each train each other simultaneously provided they devote all their time to it and have no other students.



Spell Learning Magic Items

In this section, I present a variety of magic items used to enhance spell learning. I have tried to list some applicable options for each item to permit (and encourage) gamemaster creativity with these types of magic items.

  1. Amulet of Spell List Mastery (specific spell list) - This amulet lets the semi-spell user or non-spell user wearer benefit from the talent, Mastered Spell List, for a given list. The amulet must be worn whenever the individual spends any time developing the list.

    - Options -
    • Maximum Benefit - with this option, the amulet can only help learn up to a given number of ranks in the spell list. This can be per person or an strict spell list level or both.
    • Different Type of Item - with this option, a different form of magic item is used instead of an amulet, such as a crown, a necklace, a gem, etc.
    • Restricted Use - with this option, only characters of certain professions, realm(s), races, and/or knowledge(s) (such as passwords) may benefit from the item.

    - Sample Items -
    • Amulet of "Lofty Bridge" Spell List Mastery (limit: 10th level) - This amulet provides mastery of the Essence Closed List "Lofty Bridge" but only in learning up to 10 levels in the list.
    • Diamond of "Damage Resistance" Spell List Mastery (limit: 12 ranks learnt - usable by humans only) - This 3-carat diamond provides for humans mastery of the Mentalism Open List "Damage Resistance" for learning 12 ranks in the list.

  2. Book of Spell List Learning (specific spell list) - This well written book describing the spell list and its proper applications has been enchanted to make it easier to learn the described spell list. This described spell list is treated as an Everyman skill for purposes of spell list rank development.

    - Options -
    • Maximum Benefit - with this option, the book can only help learn up to a given number of ranks in the spell list. This can be per person or an strict spell list level or both.
    • Exceptional Work - with this option, the spell list is treated as Occupational. It may have a threshold (specified number of ranks) where the benefit reverts to just Everyman.
    • Multiple Spell Lists with this option, the book addresses multiple spell lists. Different options may apply to each spell list.
    • Spirit instead of Book - with this option, a magical spirit discusses the spell list rather the book being read. The spirit can be associated with almost any type of magical device including a amulet, a ring, a container in which the spirit is contained (such as a bottle, lamp, etc.), a holy item, a gem, a place, etc.
    • Scrolls instead of Book - with this option, a number of scrolls provide the function instead of a book. Damage to one or more scrolls may add more limitations to the benefits for the scrolls.
    • Written in Obscure Magical Language - with this option, the character must learn the language first up to 8 (or 6 or 10) ranks prior to benefiting from improved spell list learning.
    • Associated Price to be Paid - with this option, the character must pay the associated price (set by the gamemaster, examples include sacrifice, ritual, quest, PPs given to the item (over time), etc.) to benefit from the book.
    • Requires Temple Membership - with the option, a character must be a follower of a particular God to benefit.
    • Restricted Use - with this option, only characters of certain professionss, realm(s), races, and/or knowledge(s) (such as passwords) may benefit from the book.

    - Sample Items -
    • Book of "Detecting Ways" Spell List Learning - This book permits anyone who has access to the Open Essence List "Detecting Ways" to learn this list as an everyman skill, i.e. for each rank developed, two are gained.
    • Exceptional Hymnal of "Protections" Spell List Learning (must be a follower of the Goddess of Music and have a least 5 ranks in "Singing") - This hymnal permits any follower of the Goddess of Music who has at least 5 ranks of Singing & access to the list to learn the Cleric Base List "Protections" as an Occupational skill.
    • Bottle & Fire Spirit of "Fire Law" Spell List Learning (limit: 15th level and the spirit must be paid a ruby worth at least 500 gp for every rank developed as Everyman) - This reddish ornate bottle contains a fire spirit that will assist individuals who know the Magician Base List "Fire Law" in improving the list up to 15th level as an everyman list provided that he pays the fire spirit the required ruby for each rank so developed.
    • Ancient Tome of Gas, Liquid, & Solid Manipulation Spell List Learning (limit: 20th level & requires 8 written ranks in Arcania) - This large heavy book written in the old magical language of Arcania permits the learning of the Mentalism Closed Lists, "Gas Manipulation", "Liquid Manipulation", & "Solid Manipulation", as Everyman skills up to 20th level if you know written Arcania to at least 8 ranks.

  3. Book of Spell List Access (specific spell list) - This well written book grants the ability to learn this spell list as a Restricted Spell list. If the book is lost or unaccessible, no new levels can be gained, unless normally gainable by the character.

    - Options -
    • Maximum Benefit - with this option, the book can only help learn up to a given number of ranks in the spell list. This can be per person or an strict spell list level or both.
    • Exceptional Work - with this option, the spell list is can be learned as a closed list. It may have a threshold (specified number of ranks) where the benefit reverts to just learning as restricted.
    • Outstanding Work - with this option, the spell list is can be learned as an open list. It may have (a) threshold(s) (specified number of ranks) where the benefit reverts to just learning as closed and/or restricted.
    • Multiple Spell Lists with this option, the book addresses multiple spell lists. Different options may apply to each spell list.
    • Written in Obscure Magical Language - with this option, the character must learn the language first up to 8 (or 6 or 10) ranks prior to benefiting from the spell list access.
    • Restricted Use - with this option, only characters of certain professions, realm(s), races, and/or knowledge(s) (such as passwords) may benefit from the book.
    • Large Stationary Item instead of a Book - with this option, the access is associated with a place that has the writings/depictions/knowledge imbedded in/on itself, and the character must spend extensive time there examining it to benefit from it.

    - Sample Items -
    • Book of "Inspiring Ways" Access (for followers of the God of Leadership) - This books permits followers of the God of Leadership to learn as a restricted list the Paladin Base List, "Inspiring Ways".
    • Exceptional Garden of "Herb Mastery" Access - This magical and exotic garden permits those who study it to have access to the Animist Base List "Herb Mastery" as a closed list.

  4. Book of Spell List Access & Learning (specific spell list) - This book provides the benefits of both the Book of Spell List Access as well as the Book of Spell List Learning for the spell list. Any of the options can be applied as well to either aspect.

    - Sample Item -
    • Temple Walls of Blood, Bone, Muscle, Nerve, & Organ Law[/Ways] (outstanding) Access & Learning (limit: 10th level & restricted to channeling realm spellcasters) - These walls within the non-worship areas of the Temple of the God of Healing engraved with descriptive pictures and writings permit a channeling realm spell-caster (this excludes non-spell users) to learn the "Blood Law", "Bone Law", "Muscle Law", "Nerve Law", and "Organ Law" lists as open lists and as an Everyman skill up to 10th level. The spell caster must spend significant time studying the walls within the temple to benefit from them. For those with access to the Healer Base Lists, "Blood Ways", "Bone Ways", "Muscle Ways" & "Organ Ways" (as they as similiar to the Laws lists), they can learn these lists as Everyman skills up to 10th level.

  5. Monocle of Remote Book Viewing - This monocle permits the remote reading of a book whose location is known.

    - Options -
    • Range Limitation - with this option, the monocle must be within a given distance to the book. This can be in hundreds of feet, miles, etc.
    • Linked to a Specific Book or Bookcase - with this option, the monocle is associated with one book or bookcase and only works with that book or books within that bookcase.

    - Sample Item -
    • Monocle of Viewing 'Book of "Detecting Ways" Spell List Learning' (range limit: 500 feet & linked to specific book)


Information Provided for Comparing Against Standard Rules

Standard DP Cost Table for Spells

This represents that basic table from the rules with the exception of excluding the higher DP costs for higher level spells.

Realm
Type
List
Type
Non-Arcane ArcaneNon-
Spell
Caster
PureHybridSemi PureSemi
OwnOwn Base 3/3/33/3/36/6/6
Open 4/4/44/4/48/8 v
Closed 4/4/44/4/410/10 v
Other Base 8/810/1025 v
Training Pkg 4/4/44/4/46/6/6 8/8
OtherOpen 10/101230 5/512 v
Closed 202540 6/625 v
Other Base 506080 10/1060 v
Training Pkg 8/88/812/12 8/812/12 16/16
ArcaneOwn Base 3/3/36/6/6
Open 6/65/512 4/4/411/11 v
Closed 10/108/816 4/4/416/16 v
Other Base 506080 12/1225 v

v=variable


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This builds upon learning spells as defined in the Rolemaster Standard System [RMSS] and Rolemaster Fantasy Role Playing [RMFRP]. Copyright 1995-2000 Iron Crown Enterprises, Inc., Charlottesville, Virginia USA. Rolemaster is a trademark properties of Iron Crown Enterprises, Inc. (ICE). All rights reserved.


A special thanks goes to Peter Mork, author of the Rolemaster supplement School of Hard Knocks, for his comments and suggestions.



2003 Thomas A. Stobie, SFO - Permission to use and copy for personal use is granted.

The majority of the contents were published in the December 2003 issue of the online magazine, the Guild Companion.

Last revised 6 Dec 2003.