Magical Research

My players are starting to ask about magical research more so on the potions and scroll front as Men and Magic goes over spell creation pretty well. I was wondering if anyone had a good set of house rules that they wouldn't mind sharing?

Well after scouring the internet decided to hodgepodge several resources together and here's what I came up with.


Magic-Users may attempt to expand on the spells listed (as applicable by class). This is a matter of time and investment. The level of the magic required to operate the spell (determination by referee) dictates the initial investment. Investment for spells is as followed:

1st level is 2,000 Gold Pieces

2nd level is 4,000 Gold Pieces

3rd level is 8,000 Gold Pieces

4th level is 16,000 Gold Pieces

5th level is 32,000 Gold Pieces

6th level is 64,000 Gold Pieces.

The time required is one week per spell level. For every amount equal to the basic investment spent there is a 20% chance of success, cumulative. An investment of 10,000 Gold Pieces in order to develop new 1st level spell, for example, has a 100% chance of success after one game week. The level of the spell researched must be consistent with the level of the Magic-User or Cleric involved, i.e. the character must be able to use spells equal to or above the level of the one he desires to create. Once a new spell is created the researcher may include it in the list appropriate to its level. He may inform others of it, thus enabling them to utilize it, or he may keep it to himself.

Reverse Engineering

 If you are willing to destroy a magic item in pursuit of magical insight, that is worth a 20% bonus to the spell research roll. The item must be relevant to the spell effect in some way. Note: that this covers using scrolls in magical research rather than casting the spell from them directly.

Dissection: If you can procure (by capture or purchase) a magical creature that is related in some way to the spell being researched, that is worth a 20% bonus to the spell research roll. For example, a creature that can use shadows as portals might be useful for researching dimension door. Mundane creatures are not generally useful for this bonus (thus, dissecting birds does not help with researching fly).

Studying Another Magic-User’s Spell Book: You can’t just copy a spell, but if you have access to another magic-user’s version of a spell, that is worth a 20% bonus to the spell research roll. Access to a grimoire works also.

Human Sacrifice: Magic-users with flexible morals may consume sentient, intelligent lives to help power their dark investigations. The number of souls required for a 20% bonus to the research roll is equal to the GP value of investment by spell level divided by 1000. Thus, a first level spell requires 2 while a sixth level spell requires 64. Not all spells can benefit from human sacrifice. Must be sacrificed on a alter in ritualistic fashion to obtain the soul not just killing creatures in a dungeons/woods or what have you.

Places of Power: Some locations are inherently magical, either due to the echoes of past events, or strange connections to other places and times. Some examples are ancient standing stones and sites that exist half in the mortal realm and half in Dream-Land. Performing research for some kinds of spells in certain places is worth a 20% bonus on the research roll.

Self Sacrifice: Some magic-users crave power so much that they are willing to give of themselves. You may spend 1d4 ability score points or one hit die for a 20% bonus to a spell research roll. These reductions are permanent. Spells researched through self-sacrifice are said to be more deeply tied to their creator than other spells.

Assistance: What are apprentices good for, if they can’t help you with magical research? An arcane entourage will provide a 20% bonus to spell research rolls. One apprentice per spell level is required for this bonus (so six assistants are required to get any benefit during the research of a sixth level spell). The assistants in question must be skilled enough to prepare spells of levels two beneath the level of the spell being researched.

Mind invasion: ESP along with a subdued magic-user that has a given spell prepared is much the same as having access to a spell book with the magic formula. Not for the squeamish or ethical.

Specialized Library: Large collections of specialized books are quite rare and valuable, but may in some cases be worth a 20% research bonus.

Diabolism: Demons know a lot about magic. If you give a demon or spirit something, it might help you out enough to get a 20% research roll bonus.

Scrolls & Potions

Magic-users & Clerics are able to make Lesser scrolls/make Lesser Potions. They cost 100 gold pieces per spell level and take either a week or a day per spell level to scribe. However, they only last a number of weeks equal to the spell level of the scroll or potion. The magical energy can only be contained for a limited amount of time. This allows a magic-user to prep for what he thinks he will face in his adventure but prevents him from amassing a gargantuan collection of scrolls with the cash he will build up at higher levels.

To create permanent magical energy on a Greater Scroll/ Greater Potion consult DM as this will be handled on a case basis. These will be more costly and rare components, more cash to be spent on rare materials, etc. The advantage to these greater scrolls would be that they last as long as the scroll they are written upon does.

Note that there is no reason these Lesser/Greater Spell Scrolls & Potions need be actual scrolls/potions. They could, for example, be imprinted upon an otherwise non-magical wand, staff, or holy symbol with the approval of the DM.