At some point, almost any player character spellcaster is going to want to try his hand at spell research. Devising a new spell is a great way for a character to make a lasting mark on a campaign, as noted above, but it’s also a fun exercise for the player and the DM; a new spell customizes and alters the campaign and the game itself.
While both wizards and priests can research new spells, it’s much more common for wizards to do so. The philosophy of experimentation and investigation seems much more appropriate for wizards, since priests are inclined (quite naturally) to take things on faith and stick to the proven powers and abilities of their patron deity. However, there’s no reason why a PC priest couldn’t participate in as much research as he or she wishes to; this is only a generalization, not a rule.
There are two parts of spell research: designing the spell, and actually executing the spell research in game play. The player and DM will have to take time to work out the details of the spell before the character can embark on his research.
Proposing a Spell
Player characters can research four types of spells: existing spells that they just haven’t had the opportunity to learn, “look‑alike” spells that approximate an existing spell that they failed to learn; spells that would exceed the normal maximum number of spells allowed by a character’s Intelligence score; and completely new spells never before seen in the campaign. Note that priests never have to worry about conducting the first three types of research, since they can use any spell belonging to a sphere to which they have access. Priests only conduct spell research to create entirely new spells.
Existing Spells: From time to time, wizards will find that there is a particularly useful or valuable spell that eludes their grasp. There’s no reason that a wizard can’t decide to research a fireball or magic jar if he gets tired of waiting for an old spell book or scroll to fall into his lap. This is fairly straightforward, since the spell description already exists; the PC can go on to Conducting Research.
Extra Spells: By the time most wizards reach moderate levels, the maximum number of spells they may know at any given level may become quite restrictive. For example, a wizard with an Intelligence of 14 may only know nine spells of one level. In order to continue to add to his spell book, the wizard must research any spells above and beyond this limit, instead of simply scribing newfound spells into his spell book. Obviously, this makes adding spells a tedious and time‑consuming chore after a certain point, but if the PC is willing to spend the money and time, he may exercise this option. Again, since the spell description already exists, the PC can go on to Conducting Research.
New Spells: The most interesting aspect of spell research, the creation of new spells requires a careful write‑up and analysis in order to spot potential problems or abuses. Since the player must generate all the game‑effect information for the spell, he must first write up a full description and then submit it to the DM for approval and modification. Note that modifying a new spell (i.e., deleting components, improving casting time or range, or changing the way it works) constitutes a new spell. Creating a “look‑alike” spell to mimic a spell the PC is unable to learn is also considered to be new spell research. Go on to Describing a Spell and follow the process of approval and research step‑by‑step.
Describing a Spell
The first step in creating a new spell is describing its intent and effects. The interested player should take some time to write up a spell description similar to the spells in the Player’s Handbook. Generally, a new spell should be just that—new. Spells that do the same thing as existing spells or a combination of existing spells aren’t really new, and need a better “hook” for purposes of spell research. Here are some guidelines, by category:
Level: Naturally, the character should be able to cast the spell he’s trying to develop, so the spell in question must be at or under his normal maximum spell level. For example, a 6th‑level wizard can use spells of 3rd‑level or less, so he can research 1st‑, 2nd‑, or 3rd‑level spells.
Compare the proposed spell to a similar spell to get an idea of what a fair level assignment should be. Generally, spells should inflict about one die of damage per level, give or take a die; compare the spell’s potential to magic missile, fireball, or flame arrow. Spells that do not allow saving throws, or spells that can affect an opponent regardless of his level or Hit Dice, are often of higher level than similar spells. Spells that are improvements of existing spells should be one to three levels higher than the spell they’re modelled on, depending on the extent of the improvement.
School/Sphere: Refer to Chapter 1 and Chapter 2; brief descriptions of each school of wizard magic and each sphere of priest magic appear in those chapters. Both wizards and priests may only conduct research in schools or spheres they have access to, so a cleric may not research new animal or plant spells, and an invoker may not research illusion spells.
Range: Damage‑inflicting attack spells should have a good justification for ranges greater than 150 yards (or more than 10 yards per caster level), while nondamaging attack spells (sleep, hold, polymorph, and other such effects) rarely exceed more than 100 yards (or more than five yards per caster level) in range. Other spells can vary wildly in range, depending on their function; communication or transportation spells may allow a range of hundreds of miles.
Duration: While damage from attack spells or the effects of many noncombat spells are permanent, most spells that create a condition or change of status for their subjects have a well‑defined duration. Durations can be defined by time (the preferred method) or until a certain predefined event occurs. For example, invisibility lasts until the caster makes an attack, while a charm can last for a few days or for several months, depending on the victim. Very few low‑level spells should bring about a permanent change or weakness in a living target.
Area of Effect: A spell that can affect several people at once, or several dozen people at once, is inherently more powerful than a spell that affects a single individual. Spells designed to affect several enemies can affect a random number of subjects in a cube of about 20 to 30 feet (for example, hold person affects 1 to 4 targets in a 20‑foot cube). Spells designed to affect more than 10 or 12 individuals shouldn’t be larger than a fireball, which affects a sphere of 20 feet in radius. Exceeding these limits requires a more powerful (and therefore higher‑level) spell than one that stays well within them.
Components: Most spells should have all three components—verbal, material, and somatic—unless there’s a good reason for omitting one. Spells with only one component are fairly rare. Note that spells without verbal components can be cast even if the character is silenced, and are therefore more dangerous than they may appear to be at first look.
Material components that are hard to come by or very expensive can be used to control a spell’s use in a campaign. Even though a 1st‑level wizard can use identify , each time he does so, he must ruin a 100 gp pearl. If the DM enforces material component rules, the wizard might think twice before casting the spell any time he feels like it.
Casting Time: The rule of thumb for wizard spells is a casting time of 1 per level, so a 4th‑level spell (for instance) should have a casting time of 4. Priest spells default to a casting time of 3 plus 1 per level, so a 4th‑level priest spell should be around a 7. If a spell is significantly under this mark, it should either be weaker than spells of a similar level, or higher in level than normal. Conversely, a prolonged casting time may help to compensate for other advantages.
Saving Throw: While the nature of the saving throw varies with the purpose of the spell, enchantments that incapacitate the victim without the benefit of a saving throw should be rare or limited to a type of victim affected. The sleep spell is a good example; it allows no saving throw, but can only affect low‑Hit Dice creatures. Damage‑causing spells that affect more than a single target without a saving throw are uncommon and tend to be high in level.
Description and Effects: When creating the actual description of the spell, remember to note who it affects, how it works, what it does, and how it can be stopped or undone. If the duration, range, or saving throw is described as ‘special,’ make sure you note how it is special and what its limits actually are.
Most spells should perform one specific action, although spells may present several applications from which one can be selected when the spell is cast (see Otiluke’s freezing sphere for an example of this). Spells that actually do two or three things at once, such as shadow door or guards and wards, are quite rare and are almost always high‑level enchantments.
Last but not least, creating a new spell is an opportunity to be creative—feel free to add any color or special effects that are appropriate. A spell that makes a character impervious to cold is useful, but not very colorful; however, a spell that transforms a character’s blood to magical ice water, thereby enabling him to resist cold damage, is a little more interesting. Also consider side effects or dangerous combinations of powers when writing up the spell description.
Approval and Modification
After the player writes up the spell and refines it, the DM should review and analyze the spell. Is it the right level, or is it more powerful than it should be? If the PC was the target of his own spell, would it completely obliterate him? This might be a sign that the spell is too strong. Are the effects reasonable and appropriate for its power level? Does it permit the subject a chance to avoid its effects? Does the spell intrude on a role best left to another character—in other words, would it make the wizard a better thief than the party’s thief, a better fighter than the party’s fighter, and so on? A spell can take a few steps in this direction, but it should be examined carefully. And, most importantly: do you, the DM, think that this spell will make your game better or make it worse?
If the spell is well‑balanced and well‑considered, then the PC can go on to Conducting Research. However, if it needs some work still, you can either return it to the player and inform him of any objections, or pencil in the modifications you think are appropriate to make the spell work in your campaign. Remember, the player always has the option of deciding to not go through with the research if he doesn’t like the way the spell turned out after the DM looked at it!
Now that the spell has been described and approved by the player and the DM, the character can begin his research effort. Spell research is time‑consuming and expensive.
Secondly, the character must refrain from adventuring and concentrate solely on his research, to the exclusion of all other activities. Spell research consumes at least one weeks per spell level^1½, so researching a 3rd‑level spell would require at least five weeks of game time. The character may take breaks from his research to attend to other matters.
Basic Time of Research = 1 week per spell level^1.5 + Special Modyfiers
Money is also an issue in spell research. Expending the supplies, reagents, tomes, and books required by the research consume 100 to 1,000 gp per spell level, above and beyond the normal maintenance cost of any laboratory used by the character. Priests must invest in special incenses, candles, and other religious items of similar cost.
Basic Cost of Research = 100–1,000 gp per spell level
Success or Failure: If the character meets all the expenses and puts in his time with the books, he may attempt a success roll after the minimum research time (two weeks per spell level) has passed. The chance of success is researcher’s 2 times Intelligence score (for wizards) or Wisdom score (for priests) and experience level, less the level of the spell being researched squared. (See below.)
Success Chance = 2% per point of relevant ability score + 2% per experience level – spell level^2 + Special Modyfiers.
If the wizard lacks basic equiptment or has special skills modyfiers may apply. Consult the following table:
For example, a 7th‑level wizard with an Intelligence of 17 researching a 3rd‑level spell has a success chance of 37% (base) + 17% (Intelligence) + 7% (experience level), minus 9% (3rd‑level spell), for a total of 52%.
If the character does not succeed in his first attempt, he may continue his research. At the end of each additional week, he may attempt a check with a +5% cumulative bonus.
If the character fails a check he will allways suffer some kind of mishap. The DM will decide what happens. Generally the mishap should be funny and embarassing. It should not be fatal, permant or cripling and should have som relation to the type of magic being researched.
Note that the success check replaces the normal learn spells mechanic—if the character can successfully research the spell, he can add it to his book automatically.
New Spells in the Campaign
A unique spell is a valuable commodity, one with significant trading value among other wizards or priests. An enterprising PC can choose to sell his hard‑earned knowledge for whatever price he can get for it, or he can hoard his spell for his own use. In some cases, a wizard may want to be careful about flashing his newfound powers about in public; unscrupulous spellcasters have been known to steal the inventor’s spell book in order to wrest the secrets of the new enchantment from its creator! Priests are less vulnerable to this kind of activity, but it’s always possible that their patron power may take a liking to the spell and make it available to other priests of the same mythos.
|100 – 1000|
|200 – 2000|
|300 – 3000|
|400 – 4000|
|500 – 5000|
|600 – 6000|
|700 – 7000|
|800 – 8000|
|900 – 9000|
Traditionally, the wizard’s laboratory is a wonderland of mysterious devices, bubbling retorts, and strange powders, solvents, and reagents. Shelves crammed full of arcane tomes, yellow scrolls encased in bone tubes, sheets of parchment covered with cryptic notes and designs, candles made from suspicious substances . . . all these things and more can be found in the wizard’s workshop. In this chapter, we’ll take a look at some of the equipment and supplies required by a working wizard.
In addition to the supplies and devices required for a laboratory and a library, we’ll also examine various material spell components. Many powerful spells may require unusual or hard to find items, and the DM can create obstacles and restrictions—or more importantly, adventure opportunities— by requiring players to keep track of spell materials. Lastly, this chapter discusses methods for finding or buying spell components, reagents, and magical items.
Building Construction Time and Cost
Building Stone Wood
Size Time Cost Area Time Cost Area
Small 6 2,000 400 1 200 400
Medium 10 3,000 800 3 400 800
Large 16 4,500 1,800 6 900 1,800
Great 32 10,000 3,600 12 2,000 3,600
At some point in his or her career, just about every wizard is going to need a well‑equipped laboratory. Without a laboratory, a wizard can’t perform spell research or create any kind of magical item except a scroll. A laboratory consists of several different components, including a physical site or facility; a personal library; nonexpendable equipment and furniture; and expendable supplies, chemicals, and reagents.
When a wizard is contemplating the construction of a laboratory, the first thing he will want to consider is the location of the lab. If the wizard travels extensively, like many adventurers do, the choice of his laboratory’s location may prove to be a difficult decision. Since the character will be investing a vast amount of money in the construction and outfitting of his laboratory, he will want to make certain that the facility is located in a secure and reasonably accessible location. There’s a lot of valuable and irreplaceable material in a laboratory, and most wizards dread the thought of some hooligan sacking their workshops.
Many wizards locate their laboratories in or near major cities. There are several advantages to this strategy: first of all, the wizard has easy access to skilled craftsmen for unusual pieces of equipment; second, the large cities attract traders dealing in the rare or unusual, making it easier for the wizard to locate some material components; third, resources such as libraries and fellow wizards or alchemists may be close at hand; and last, cities are relatively secure from monstrous incursions. On the down side, cities also host large and well‑organized thieves’ guilds, and many wizards find themselves forced to pay protection money to keep their labs intact. Also, a wizard who lives near a large population center is generally easy to find, and the character’s enemies won’t have any problem in tracking him to his base of operations.
Because of these risks, some wizards prefer to conceal their laboratories in unpopulated or inaccessible regions. The wizard loses the benefits of close contact with civilization, but gains a degree of privacy that an urban wizard finds impossible. This can be costly, especially when the wizard needs some smithing or glassblowing work done, and there’s no one nearby who can do it. A wilderness base generally costs 20%–50% or (1d4+1) x 10% more to equip and maintain than a comparable lab in the city. Note that remoteness doesn’t guarantee safety; instead of thieves, a wizard in the wilderness has to worry about monsters of all sizes and inclinations nosing around the premises!
Once the wizard has decided where he wants to locate his laboratory, he must buy, build, or rent an appropriate building or room. The space should be well‑ventilated and well‑lit, although the wizard can do without these comforts if he wishes. The room must be dry and sound; dampness can destroy libraries or cause important reagents to lose their potency. In addition, the laboratory requires at least 400 square feet (a 20‑foot by 20‑foot room or equivalent floor space) for the furnishings and work spaces.
In urban or civilized regions, the wizard may be able to set up his laboratory inside another building—for example, the castle of his patron noble, a university or library, the local wizards’ guildhall, or an inn operated by a fellow adventurer. Generally, the rent on the room should be 30 to 100 gp or (1d8+2) x 10 per month, depending on the exact circumstances of the arrangement. Renting a shabby room in the thieves’ quarter is far less expensive than paying the dues of a guildhall or university membership. A player character may be able to avoid paying rent altogether if a friend or patron puts him up.
If the wizard doesn’t want to borrow or lease a room from a landlord, he can buy a suitable building. Again, the place should have at least 400 square feet of floor space, or somewhat more than that if the wizard intends to live there as well as maintain a laboratory. (A two‑story building of about 20 feet x 20 feet would do nicely.) Or, he can choose to build a new building instead of buying an old one. The table below lists construction times and costs for new buildings; buying an existing structure costs anywhere from 50% to 100% or (1d6+4) x 10% of the listed figure.
Stone buildings are sturdier and more durable than wooden buildings, but still feature wooden supports, flooring, and other features. Some interior partitions or walls may be made of wood instead of stone.
Wooden buildings are much easier to build than stone buildings. The disadvantage lies in resistance to siege attacks or other forms of damage; wooden buildings can be destroyed easily by many spells or heavy weapons.
Building size is a rough description of the building’s dimensions. This fits the building types described in DMGR 2, The Castle Guide.
Time is the number of weeks required for construction, assuming a working crew of 10 laborers with good supervision. Obviously, this only applies in the event the wizard wants to have someone build him a new laboratory. If the wizard wants to save money, he can hire fewer workers, doubling the construction time for a savings of 25% off the basic cost. On the other hand, if he’s in a hurry he can raise the building in 75% the usual time by hiring more workers, doubling the cost.
Cost is the amount of gold pieces required to have the building raised. This includes permits, bribes, pay for workers, expendable supplies, and all other expenses incurred. If the wizard is buying an existing structure, he need only pay (1d6+4) x 10% or 50%–100% of this price, depending on the building’s condition, the circumstances of the sale, and other factors.
Area is the square footage of the completed structure. A small building suffices for the wizard’s laboratory, but if the character wants to live in the same building, it must be at least medium‑sized.
Now that the wizard has secured a suitable workroom, it’s time to get to the real business of setting up a laboratory. The equipment contained in a lab includes alembics, armillary spheres, beakers, bottles, copper kettles, crucibles, distilling coils, ladles, mortars, retorts, scales, specimens, tongs, vials, and weights of all description. In addition, specialized furniture such as workbenches, stands, braziers, cabinets, and tables with special surfaces must be purchased for the laboratory. Obviously, all these things can be quite expensive; equipping a laboratory is often the single greatest expense a wizard incurs in his career.
A wizard’s laboratory is customized to the character’s individual tastes and research goals, and is not particularly useful to another character. However, if a wizard inherits a lab from another character or is allowed to borrow one for a time, he can refit the lab for his own purposes for a cost of 1,000 gp.
Wizards’ laboratories vary wildly in scope, contents, and completeness. There are three varieties of laboratory, each with its own special purpose: alchemical laboratories, forges, and research laboratories.
Alchemical laboratories are intended for the creation of potions and nonmagical acids, solvents, glues, or pyrotechnical substances. As a result, the lab is equipped with glassware, burners, retorts, kettles, and all manner of devices designed for heating, agitating, or otherwise manipulating liquids and powders. An alchemical laboratory costs 2,000 gp; wizards who specialize in the school of alchemy, characters with the alchemy nonweapon proficiency, or mages who want to create potions at 9th level can make use of these facilities.
Specialist alchemists are assumed to begin play with an alchemical laboratory valued at 1,000 gp. Because of their special training and skills, this is sufficient for a 1st‑level alchemist. However, the character’s requirements for rare and exotic materials increase as he rises in level; keeping the lab outfitted requires an expenditure of an additional 1,000 gp each time he rises in level. If the alchemist’s laboratory is up‑to‑date, he can use his special ability to create potions; if the lab is not up‑to‑date but still worth at least 2,000 gp, he may use it as if he were a normal wizard using a standard alchemical laboratory.
Forges are larger and more complex laboratories that include all the materials and equipment required for the production of magical items of all types, not just potions or scrolls. A forge includes all the materials found in an alchemical laboratory, as well as furnaces, anvils, and woodworking, leatherworking, or metalworking tools. A forge costs 5,000 gp and requires at least 600 square feet of space; in other words, a “small” building is not big enough to house a magician’s forge.
The specialist artificer is assumed to begin play with a forge worth 1,000 gp. In order to keep his specialist wizard benefits, he must invest an additional 1,000 gp in the forge each time he rises in level. If the forge is not maintained properly but is worth at least 5,000 gp, the artificer can still use it for brewing potions or creating magical items using the normal procedures.
Research laboratories allow a character to conduct spell research. The research laboratory adds hundreds of rare and unusual specimens, samples, and texts to the wizard’s laboratory. Depending on the campaign circumstances, a laboratory suited for spell research can cost anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 gp, but if a wizard already has an alchemical laboratory or a forge, he can purchase the research laboratory for 50% of its normal cost. Similarly, building an alchemical laboratory or a forge after first building a research laboratory gives the character a 50% break on the costs of the second laboratory.
A research laboratory requires at least 400 square feet, above and beyond any existing facilities. A character with a forge and a research laboratory must have 1,000 square feet of room available to house his equipment, furnishings, work areas, and supplies.
Laboratory Cost and Size Requirements
Laboratory Cost Size
Alchemical1 2,000 gp 400 sq. ft.
Forge2 5,000 gp 600 sq. ft.
Research3 1,000 gp+ 400 sq. ft.
1 Alchemist specialist wizards must maintain an alchemical laboratory worth at least 1,000 gp per character level.
2 Includes an alchemical laboratory. Artificer specialists must maintain a forge worth at least 1,000 gp per character level.
3 Cost set by DM at 1,000 to 10,000 gp.
Library # Potion # Item Max. Spell
Expense Formulae 1 Formulae 2 Research Lvl. 3
Initial 2 1 1st‑level
2,000 gp 3 2 2nd‑level
4,000 gp 4 3 3rd‑level
6,000 gp 5 4 4th‑level
10,000 gp 6 5 5th‑level
15,000 gp 8 7 6th‑level
20,000 gp 10 9 7th‑level
30,000 gp 12 11 8th‑level
50,000 gp any any 9th‑level
1 Libraries for alchemical laboratories and forges
2 Libraries for forges
3 Libraries for research laboratories
The single most important tool in the wizard’s laboratory is his library. Every wizard has a library, even if it consists of nothing more than his spell books and a handful of old texts and journals. Depending on the campaign flavor and the prevalence of magic, wizards may find that ancient grimoires and codices are the only source of new spells, potion formulae, or procedures for creating magical items. Unless they go to extraordinary lengths to unearth, purchase, copy, or steal these books, their advancement in the arcane arts can come to a dead halt.
When a character builds and outfits a laboratory of any type, a basic library is assumed to be included in the overall price. This collection allows the wizard to conduct the basic functions of the laboratory—brewing potions and manufacturing special inks for scroll creation, making magical items, or conducting spell research. However, the materials in a lab’s initial collection only allow the character to research the formula for one potion or scroll, one magical item, and one 1st‑level spell. In effect, the library that the wizard acquires to outfit his laboratory is only sufficient for the first two or three research efforts he undertakes. After these initial studies, the wizard must expand his library in order to undertake new research efforts.
Alchemists and Artificers: These two specialist wizards do not need to increase the size of their library in order to discover new formulae or procedures. Their specialist abilities bypass this requirement; the character’s expertise allows him to do without many of the texts and canons other wizards find necessary.
Library Requirements: Expanding a library and collecting volumes suitable for advanced research takes time and money. The total value of the wizard’s library governs the research he can undertake there, as shown in Table 13: Libraries.
Library Expense is the total investment the character makes in acquiring books, references, and other research materials. The initial library expense is simply the cost of the character’s laboratory, so if a wizard builds a research laboratory and then spends 2,000 gp on expanding his initial library, he can research 2nd‑level spells.
Number of Potion Formulae represents the maximum number of potions the wizard can research given a library of the listed size. Using the correct enchantments and materials is a critical part of potion‑brewing, and wizards must invest some time in researching the correct formula and procedure for any particular potion. (See Chapter 7.) For example, a wizard who purchases an alchemical laboratory can determine the formula for two types of potion (flying , for instance) with the materials at hand, but in order to learn the formulae for additional potions, he must spend money to expand his reference library.
Number of Item Formulae represents the maximum number of magical item creation processes the wizard can discover using a library of the listed size. Each magical item has its own unique “formula”—materials and procedures required to successfully produce one item. The initial laboratory included in a forge allows the wizard to research the creation of one type of magical item, such as a rope of climbing or boots of the north. Discovering the requirements for additional types of magical items requires a larger and more complete library.
Maximum Spell Research Level is the highest‑level spell the wizard can research, given the library at hand. The basic research laboratory allows the wizard to research 1st‑level spells, but if he wants to indulge himself in more advanced studies, he’ll have to obtain additional texts, references, and materials.
Finding Books: Naturally, a library worth 10,000 gp is not a heap of treasure waiting to be carted off by the nearest adventurer. It is a labor of love and care, created over years by the dedicated efforts of an intelligent and well‑organized character. And, unfortunately, building a library can be a tedious and exhausting task. Important volumes may take years to find.
Generally, a library is composed of books ranging in value from 50 to 500 gold pieces, although unusual works may cost much more. Thus, a library valued at 2,000 gp might include 15 to 20 books in the 50–100 gp range, three or four valued at 100–200 gp, and maybe one or two in the 300–500 gp range. While it’s not necessary to catalog every single book that is contained in the collection, it’s a good idea for the DM to identify a handful of critical works , or references that are so central to the wizard’s studies that the library just isn’t complete without them. Finding or tracking down these rare volumes can be quite a challenge, creating many adventure hooks for a PC wizard!
If the DM is generous, he can assume that the wizard can find everything he needs, given time, and assume that one week of library‑building allows the character to spend up to 500 gp on books he needs. In other words, increasing a library’s size and value by 2,000 gp would require four weeks of dedicated effort on the wizard’s part. Finding a rare or unusual text (or, treasure of treasures, an intact collection!) in an adventure could save a wizard a great amount of time and money.
However, building a library can be far more difficult than just spending money. In medieval societies, books were hand‑written, and there might be only six or seven copies of a book the wizard needs to be found anywhere, let alone in the local bookseller’s shop. Particularly rare or valuable tomes may change hands through sale, deceit, or thievery dozens of times, disappearing from common knowledge.
In addition to the problem of scarcity, it’s possible that some significant works required by a wizard might not be written in his native language but instead in the language of a far‑off kingdom. An ambitious character might be forced to learn his campaign’s equivalent of Latin, Sanskrit, or Mandarin Chinese for no other purpose than to read a single book. Another problem might be suppressed or forbidden books; trading in banned works could get a character into a lot of trouble.
Last but not least, the current owner of the book the character seeks may have no wish to part with it, especially if it’s considered dangerous or unique. The wizard may be able to persuade the book’s owner to allow him to make a copy of the text, or he may have to consider more direct action to acquire the necessary materials.
Library Size: Large collections of books require space, just like laboratories. The basic references included in the cost of a laboratory don’t take up any additional space above and beyond the laboratory’s requirements, but expanded libraries require at least 25 square feet for each 2,000 gp value. For example, a library valued at 10,000 gp would require 125 square feet (a 10‑foot by 121/2‑foot room). This may sound like a generous amount of space, but keep in mind that many of these tomes are extremely large and bulky, and require special shelving, displays, and cabinets. All these furnishings are included in the cost of the library.
Care and Protection: A wizard’s library is an investment of great value to the character eventually exceeding even the most complete laboratories and forges. Naturally, the owner should be quite interested in making sure nothing happens to it. The library should be in a dry, secure room that is well‑ventilated but not open to the weather. Dampness can quickly mold or destroy books, especially those made without modern preservatives. Last but not least, the wizard should consider fire traps or similar spells to guard the room against intruders.
Supplies and Reagents
Laboratories require a large amount of both common and unusual substances. Furnaces and burners must be fueled; water, oil, brine, vinegar, and other liquids are required for cooling, distilling, and quenching; small amounts of chemicals, salts, rare earths, herbs, and various specimens are expended with each day of research; and glassware and pottery may be ruined by one use or broken in accidents. Even if a lab is not in active use, some of the supplies and reagents will go bad or lose their potency with prolonged storage. The upshot of this discussion is simple: Once a wizard finishes building and outfitting his lab, he will still have to spend some money to maintain its supplies and equipment.
This maintenance cost is assumed to be 10% of the lab’s total value, not counting the library, for every month of active use. For example, a 5,000 gp forge uses up 500 gp of supplies each month. This cost does not include any special or unique materials, such as a particular item that is to be enchanted, or an unusual material required for a specific potion or scroll ink. For example, if a wizard is enchanting a long sword +1, the cost of the sword itself is not included in the lab’s monthly operating cost. Similarly, if he is mixing the ink for a scroll of protection from petrification, any exotic ingredients such as a basilisk’s eye or a cockatrice’s feather must be obtained through a deliberate action of the player character.
If the laboratory is not in active use—the owner is off adventuring, or otherwise engaged—the maintenance cost drops to half the normal amount. For the 5,000 gp forge described above, this would be 250 gp per month. This “moth‑balled” expense reflects the materials and specimens that are becoming unusable due to the passage of time. Of course, the wizard can choose not to pay this cost, allowing several months of maintenance to pile up before restocking the laboratory. In any event, the cost to resupply a laboratory never exceeds more than half the lab’s total value, since a lot of the equipment is fairly permanent. In the case of the 5,000 gp forge, a character would have to pay 2,500 gp to restock his laboratory after 10 months of neglect, but 15 or 20 months of not paying the maintenance cost wouldn’t be any more damaging.
Alchemists and Artificers: These specialist wizards must pay 50 gp per character level per month in order to maintain their laboratories. The wizard can defer or ignore these expenses, but this causes the loss of many of his specialist benefits—see Chapter 1. If the wizard misses some payments, he must make up all the money he owes before restoring his lab to operation, up to half the value of the laboratory itself. In other words, an 8th‑level artificer must pay 400 gp per month to maintain his forge; if he skips one month of resupply, he loses many of his special abilities, and must pay 800 gp the following month or do without his powers for another month.
Laboratories of any type are not very portable. If a character needs to move a lab, he requires one medium‑sized wagon for each 100 square feet of equipment and materials. Packing up a lab or setting it up again after transport should require at least two to three days per wagon‑load, and the wizard will certainly have to spend a significant amount of money in replacing broken, lost, or ruined materials. Depending on the length of the journey and the care of the wizard’s preparations, he will have to replace materials and equipment worth 10% to 40% of the value of the entire laboratory.
Shiria the Sorceress is a 7th‑level invoker who has a great idea for a new spell, Shiria’s Bolt of Efficacious Destruction. First, she needs to find a site for her laboratory; after due consideration, Shiria elects to locate her lab in the town she and her comrades use as a base of operations. She decides to buy a “medium” stone building in a good part of town to house her laboratory and spends 3,000 gp to have a new building raised (she wants some specialized features to be included). The construction takes 10 weeks.
While she’s waiting for her building to be completed, Shiria decides to get a head start on collecting the materials and equipment she requires for her lab. Since she plans to do spell research, she decides to acquire a research laboratory, and the DM sets the price at 3,000 gp. It’s reasonable to assume that collecting and setting up the equipment would take some time, as well, but the DM generously decides that Shiria can do a lot of this while the building’s going up.
The initial expense of the lab includes a small library suitable for researching 1st‑level spells, but Shiria’s Bolt is proposed as a 3rd‑level spell, and Shiria will have to expand her library immediately to perform the research. She requires a library valued at 4,000 gp above and beyond her laboratory. The DM doesn’t feel like identifying any particular books she needs to find; Shiria can build her library at the rate of 500 gp per week, finishing her collection just about the time her building’s ready for occupation.
Since the research laboratory is valued at 3,000 gp, Shiria will have to pay maintenance and upkeep totalling 300 gp per month while she is engaged in active research, or 150 gp a month to keep the lab moth‑balled. By now, Shiria’s purse is feeling a little light! She could have saved some money by renting a building instead of buying, or borrowing someone’s library instead of outfitting her own. Of course, she can recoup some of her investment by selling access to her facilities to other wizards, or selling Shiria’s Bolt of Efficacious Destruction once she develops it!
Priests’ Altar Wizards aren’t the only characters capable of creating magical items. Priests, too, have this capability. Priests can create scrolls at 7th level, potions at 9th level, and other types of magic items at 11th level. Instead of cluttered laboratories filled with all varieties of reagents and bizarre devices, priests need only build a special consecrated altar to their deity in order to create magical items.
Altars don’t need the continuous maintenance or skilled pool of laborers and craftsmen that a wizard’s laboratory requires. Because of this, the altar can be located anywhere the priest wishes to put it, within reason. The general site should be someplace within the deity’s sphere of interest, so an altar dedicated to a sea‑god should be near the sea, while one dedicated to a druidical power should be located in a pristine wilderness. Considerations such as the distance to the nearest large city or convenience for the character are secondary, at best.
There are two types of location that are ideal: a location that is easily accessible to a large body of the power’s worshippers, or a location that has special significance to the power. A priest of Tempus (a god of storms and battle from the Forgotten Realms campaign setting) could meet the first condition by locating his altar in a fortress manned by a number of soldiers who follow Tempus, or a city that included a large congregation of Tempus’ worshippers. Or, he might find an ancient battlefield or storm‑lashed peak to be appropriate, since they meet the second condition. The DM is the final arbiter of what is or isn’t an appropriate location for a particular deity’s altar.
Like the wizard’s laboratory, the priest’s altar represents a significant investment of time, energy, and money. Thieves may attempt to loot the rich trappings of the altar, and enemies of the faith will not hesitate to desecrate an altar left unprotected. As a result, once a place suitable for his patron deity has been found, the priest should make the security and safety of the altar a primary goal.
After finding a suitable location for the altar, the priest must consider what kind of facility he will need to house, shelter, or support the altar. In many cases, he can simply add the altar to an existing temple, monastery, or shrine dedicated to his deity. However, this may require the priest to expand or renovate the existing structure to make it suitable for the altar. Refer to Table 11: Building Construction Time and Cost for building costs; if the altar is to be housed in a free‑standing structure, it must be at least a medium‑sized building, but an expansion to an old temple might be the equivalent of a small building.
If the altar is located on a sacred site (a forest glade for a druid power, or a mountain peak for a god of the sky), the priest may not have to raise any kind of building to shelter it, especially if a man‑made shelter would somehow be inappropriate at that site. However, preparing and clearing a site should still require an amount of work equivalent to raising a small building.
Materials and Decoration
The altar, its decorations or trappings, and the preparations for the ceremony of consecration cost at least 2,000 gp, above and beyond the cost for any building or structures to house it. Generally, the altar must be built of whatever materials seem appropriate; for a god of war, an altar made from the swords of brave men, or the shields of fallen warriors, could be appropriate. A deity of storms might require an altar built from a hundred‑year‑old oak split by lightning. In any event, the altar should be of the finest workmanship possible. Building an altar requires at least 2d4 weeks of the priest’s time and attention, and the services of skilled masons, smiths, or woodworkers.
In addition to the construction of the altar, the priest must also assemble and prepare special incenses, ceremonial vestments, and other unusual materials. This could cost anywhere from 1,000 to 10,000 gp more, depending on the deity involved. The priest may be able to borrow some of these materials from a large temple of his own faith, which would reduce the cost by 50%.
Consecrating the Altar
Once the altar has been completed, the priest must consecrate it to his deity. The prayers, chants, and rituals require at least one full week. During this ceremony, the priest cannot be called away for other duties; if he leaves, he must begin again from the start and replace any materials expended in the abortive ceremony.
At the end of each full week of prayer, the DM makes a special check to see if the priest gains the favor of his deity. The base chance for success is a percentage equal to 5 times the character’s level, so a 10th‑level priest has a 50% chance of success after one week. For each additional week of prayer, the chance of success increases by 5%. Given time, the priest should eventually succeed, unless he’s angered his deity in some way.
When the power responds to the priest’s prayers, the priest must offer up something of value or perform a special quest, whichever is demanded by the deity. The DM decides what is appropriate for the character and the deity he follows. Surrendering magical items, treasure of great value, or an item hand‑crafted by the priest are all reasonable. A quest that a priest of a god of healing might follow could be to go among the poor and heal one hundred of the sick, while a god of honor might ask the priest to go to the king’s court and expose his dishonorable dealings. By completing the quest or making the appropriate sacrifice, the priest demonstrates his devotion, and the deity consecrates the altar.
A consecrated altar radiates a bless spell in a 10‑foot radius. It remains consecrated until desecrated in some way by the deity’s enemies, or until the priest who consecrated it dies or falls from the faith. A consecrated altar can be used to produce potions, scrolls, and other magical items, as described in Chapter 7.