D&D 5E How would you make a campaign that focuses on PCs finding and using new spells?

cbwjm

Legend
I like the strangers in a strange land scenario. Could be the PCs in a new land with strange magic or it could be a traveller in the PC's home country. Something like a strange wizard who trades spells, or uses them against the PCs could also be good.
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I had this pitch for a campaign once: long ago, the world was ruled by two powerful empires, a Theocracy and a Magocracy. The two clashed in a terrible, unspeakable war. Continents were reshaped, and many strange and bizarre creatures were birthed into the world.

In the end, the High Priests asked their Gods for succor, and the response was the Thaumaturgic Cessation. A wave of power drained much of the magic from the world- monsters became ordinary beasts, and all the races of the world lost their magic.

Over the centuries since, magic has returned to the world, and the people have learned a hard lesson about how it is to be used responsibly. While exploring a ruin, a learned academic discovered a cache of ancient, well-preserved scrolls intended as a primer of sorts, for apprentice wizards.

He founded an organization that has two purposes- to accumulate arcane lore, and train a new generation of wizards, all of whom take an oath to use their powers for the betterment of the world.

You are one of these fledgling magicians, sent out into the world with a meager amount of spells at your disposal, to seek out and share with the Society lost magics. You can either return to the Society to gain new spells, from the limited pool available to them (after making sure your dues are up to date), and trade whatever magical items or spells you have found for rewards/services- or you must find scrolls and spellbooks in forgotten and forbidden places, facing unknown dangers, as the magical beasts and creatures of old have awakened and regained their powers...
 

Cruentus

Adventurer
Its probably fairly "boring and mundane" but I often use the following to add new spells to the available options:

1) The spellcaster's mentor (or circle, or wherever they learned their spells) has found evidence of new spells being used in a neighboring kingdom/land. They send the character(s) - either as the quest, or part of the quest since they're going that way anyway - to find evidence of these spells, trade/buy/steal them, and bring them back. This will sometimes cause the party to be the target of some of these new spells first, depending on how the adventure/adversary is set up. It also sets up either combat or RP as the spellcaster figures out how to approach this particular caster.

2) (This was already mentioned some upthread) Parties are always investigating ruins, in the bowels of ancient ruins are very old scrolls with information about experiments in new spells and different power sources. The spellcaster has to figure out how to transport these potentially fragile documents back to civilization, or perhaps they can't be moved, so the caster has to do research/copy/whatever the spells 'in situ'. In addition to finding them, reading them could be a challenge if written in an ancient script.

3) I've tucked torn pieces of spells, or spell fragments in the effects of enemy spellcasters, or deep in libraries/houses/temples of learning. The fragment can then be researched, finding out where it came from (or the general area), and then tracking down the remaining parts to make the whole spell. Or it has one "new spell" and hints about others. In my last game, I tucked a spell scroll in among an enemy wizard's spellbook. The spell was nothing else the party wizard had ever seen before. Of course, once the party wizard looted the spellbook, he never actually looked inside it (stupid 5e where you can just pick your spells :) )

4) Extra planar entities. I've used demons/devils/whatever to pass along (or direct characters to) new spells, particularly if they're nasty spells. It sets up the character for a long term relationship with that entity, as the character has to decide on gaining the power/spell and doing what the entity asks, or sticking to whatever moral code the character follows. Lots of RP and grey areas there as the spellcaster then has to also convince the rest of the party to help them seek out this "info I got from a good source about this new power." Or the spell is given in exchange for some service or task, with some unanticipated side effects.
 

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