PRACTICAL MAGIC II: Or A Magic-User's Tools of the Trade

Ben L. of Ultan's Door fame took the starting spellbooks idea and really did a good job with them! 

The pairs of 1st level spells are well done and I'm a big fan of the inclusion of 2nd level spells to entice advancement. Wonderfully included is a description of the original book, what other knowledge might be learned from it (!), and a description of lesser copies. No specific mechanics are given for learning from the tome which is great! This gives the PC and DM something to negotiate over and encourages more free-form play.

The other reason I think starting spell books are a good idea is because by OSE/BX rules RAW,  the DM is supposed to provide the starting spells for a MU. And, BX MUs only can have in their spellbooks as many spells as they can cast (i.e. as many as they have spell slots).

I am sure no one follows this, but an upside is that spells can be better matched to remove "dud" combinations from random rolling and/or pair them more tightly the adventure, setting, or world. Some of this is reflected in the 1e AD&D DMG where Gygax suggests that starting MUs roll once on an offensive, defensive, and utility magic spell table to compose their first spellbook.

Another layer that might be fun is to provide a few pieces of equipment that a student of said book might use in their research, investigations, rituals, and practices. As such here is how I want to fold Ben's work in to my next campaign:

All MUs start with: Dagger (1d4), Hooded Cloak, Quill, Ink, & Paper (5 sheets)
Roll 1d6 for a lesser copy of:

1. Beyond the Convex Mirror: (1) Light, Ventriloquism; (2) Mirror Image
Equipment: Mirror, Lantern

2. Enchantments of the Twilight Court: (1) Charm Person, Detect Magic; (2) Phantasmal Force
Equipment: Wolfsbane, Wineskin (full)

3. Geometry of Unseen Potencies: (1) Hold Portal, Floating Disc; (2) Levitate
Equipment: Plumb bob + 20' cord, T-Level

4. Saffroy’s Principles of Arcane Dueling: (1) Magic Missle, Shield; (2) Web
Equipment: Torches (3)***, Silver Dagger (1d4)**

5. Lesser Emanations of the Archduke: (1) Sleep, Protection from Evil; (2) Invisibility
Equipment: Bag of Chalk, Hourglass**

6. Inner Illuminations of the First Organ: (1) Detect Magic; Darkness* (2) ESP
Equipment: Candles (10), Compass**

* One minor adjustment made here by using the reverse of Light, Darkness. I believe it still fits the theme as Detect Magic and ESP provided "sight" without light.
** As these would be expensive items, I might say these MUs start with (2d6*100) coin
*** Worth remembering that torches do 1d4 damage (fire); but maybe are extinguished on max dmg. or only after 2 hits like burning oil is after two rounds.


  1. I like the idea of populating starting equipment more gradually like this. Getting a piece here and there from different aspects of your character.

    Taken to an extreme you could have characters gain certain equipment associated with ability scores that rolled high or low; with where they come from in the world; with randomly rolled social backgrounds and starting professions, so that by the end nobody begins play with the same kit.

    It would be too fiddly for me to want to run a system like that, but it's a fun idea none the less.

    1. Yeah, I really enjoy it as well. It world building without an info dump and rounds out the character a bit.

      I do worry about PC starting with equipment that doesn't help them, but I think if the class choice is tied to the basics while background/spellbook/theives guild/knight order is tied to more exotic stuff, it should work out

    2. Is there really anything that doesn't help the PCs, though? I feel like they'll figure out a way for anything to be useful, or if they can't just toss it and move on.