D&D 5E My Simple Spell Rarity House Rule

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Actually, this works for other editions of D&D beyond 5E as well.

Essentially it comes down to this. . . any spell with a name attached is a rare spell and is not available as a spell that a PC can simply choose when they go up a level. In other words, these spells can only be found in-game. Of course, this mean the DM has to be fair-minded in littering adventures with scrolls or spell books with some of these spells.

Presumably all spells were once associated with particular wizards and became more common over time, so ones with names still attached are simply still not as common.

This also provides an opportunity for characters to seek out some of these spells or research their own versions of them, if your players are into that kind of thing.

Finally, it also makes possible to make other spells a little harder to get. Want to delay access to Rope Trick? Call it Rary's Rope Trick. Think fireball is too powerful for its level but too weak to go up a level? Call it Fustrea's Fireball. And so on. . .

Don't want your group to have easy access Leomund's Tiny Hut? Make them wait to find it. Want to give them a motive for exploring a particular place, perhaps the wizard Bigby is said to have squirreled away a book holding his various "Hand" spells (I know they were collapsed in 5E, but there are various other versions out there to be converted). Want to give a villainous homebrew NPC some more chutzpah? Name some spells after them - perhaps as a way to introduce spells from beyond the core books.

I have already started doing this my own games and it works.
 

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J.Quondam

CR 1/8
I've often limited spell accessibility in this way, but only by going through the list and starring the problematic/limited ones. Using a name attached to each one is a much simpler way to differentiate the rare ones. Nice idea!

When appropriate to a setting, I've used a similar principle as identifying characteristics to use as clues, for example to discern where/from whom a caster learned their art, or what famous wizard penned a scroll. "Oh look! His fireballs are tinged with green flames and do a splash of acid damage? He probably learned that at L'Academie du Petit Miasme.... which just happens to be where our suspicious new patron teaches! Dun dun dunnn!"

I love this sort of thing. It's an easy way to keep spells, etc, interesting in a setting with ubiquitous magic.
 

Actually, this works for other editions of D&D beyond 5E as well.

Essentially it comes down to this. . . any spell with a name attached is a rare spell and is not available as a spell that a PC can simply choose when they go up a level.
I like this idea and would like to see it as an official rule in the new edition. I'm pretty sure that this was in fact a rule in 2E Forgotten Reals in regard to any spell in the setting attached to a specific wizard. I can't remember off hand where I read this might've been Pages From the Mages or maybe the Wizards Spell Compendium. Regardless, I'm not a fan of spellcaster players having access to and being able to pick whatever spells they want.
 


Prior to 3rd edition, you couldn't. If you wanted to add new spells when you went up a level, you had to find scrolls or other spellbooks.
Yes, that is correct. In our 1E/2E games our DMs did a good job of making sure spellcasters found plenty of scrolls and spell books while adventuring so they had options when leveling. I liked the max spells known, # spells per level and % to learn spells rules. It really made players carefully consider which spells they wanted to learn.
 

J.Quondam

CR 1/8
Yes, that is correct. In our 1E/2E games our DMs did a good job of making sure spellcasters found plenty of scrolls and spell books while adventuring so they had options when leveling. I liked the max spells known, # spells per level and % to learn spells rules. It really made players carefully consider which spells they wanted to learn.
And it certainly makes scrolls and spellbooks into truly special treasures. That alone provided a huge impetus for delving for my wizard PCs in my earliest games.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
And it certainly makes scrolls and spellbooks into truly special treasures. That alone provided a huge impetus for delving for my wizard PCs in my earliest games.

I maintain this by having this be the only way non-core spells can be found. When a player finds a scroll or spellbook with a spell from Xanathar's - or better yet a 3rd party product they have never heard of - their eyes light up!
 

And it certainly makes scrolls and spellbooks into truly special treasures. That alone provided a huge impetus for delving for my wizard PCs in my earliest games.
Not only that but players had to take great pains to guard and protect their spell books. IIRC correctly if they lost it they had to find the same spells they had and re-learn them, there was no swapping spells or just finding the same spell and memorizing then casting from that spell book, it had to be re-learned and transcribed.
 

I maintain this by having this be the only way non-core spells can be found. When a player finds a scroll or spellbook with a spell from Xanathar's - or better yet a 3rd party product they have never heard of - their eyes light up!
Makes for a more dynamic game, adds balance and makes finding a unique spell all the more exciting. It also gives the DM some control of which spells they allow in their game.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
To be fair, however, it was a common 2E house rule that wizards got to choose a spell or two upon leveling - well, not in my games, but in other people's I encountered. ;)


One of my 3E house rules was that you chose the spell(s) you gained upon leveling but did not get them until the off-level between new spell levels, representing the time it took to figure out the new spell. So if you hit 5th level you could choose to figure out lightning bolt only if you already had other spells of that same school among those you knew and would not complete learning that spell until you hit 6th level. This made seeking out higher level spells before you could cast them a common goal.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Makes for a more dynamic game, adds balance and makes finding a unique spell all the more exciting. It also gives the DM some control of which spells they allow in their game.

BTW, I do this for clerics and druids as well - but granting them new spells to add to or replace from existing spell lists that they find on scrolls or are awarded for doing stuff for their churches/orders or going a holy quest.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Regardless, I'm not a fan of spellcaster players having access to and being able to pick whatever spells they want.
This is a hill I will gladly die on to disagree.

Back in AD&D I played a Magic User in a six month campaign where we got up to 5th level. During that time, I never found any 2nd level scrolls or spellbooks. DM assured me they were around, we just never made the right choices to come upon them. Upcasting didn't even exist back then, and my character had the power level of a 2nd level character for months and months.

That's completely freaking ridiculous.

This is one of the small but required changes thaty should never be rolled back. Wizards are competent, Intelligent people focused on the Arcane, they can work out two formulas every few months from their readings, experimentations, seeing people cast, and the like so it doesn't even have versimlitude going for it. But from making this a playable game perspective it is absolutely required to be in the base rules because different DMs will have different ideas (just like my DM did back then) and it really makes the game unfun.

If you want to make it a house rule and your players trust you to give them out, that's fine. I'd even play with you. Limit spell selection like the OP suggested but still have free spells per level? Easy. But when working across the gamut of all DMs regardless of experience and of the adventures they are running this absolutely needs to be a rule in the books.

Summation: Because not all DMs run the same, to preserve tthe wizard being viable from a game perspective, Wizards are required to increase spells known outside what they find. All of the other classes can.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
Summation: Because not all DMs run the same, to preserve tthe wizard being viable from a game perspective, Wizards are required to increase spells known outside what they find. All of the other classes can.

Fair enough, but personally I develop rules and ideas based on fair minded players and DMs, not the worst and extreme examples.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Fair enough, but personally I develop rules and ideas based on fair minded players and DMs, not the worst and extreme examples.
New DMs are neither worse nor extreme - and they are likely more numerous than long time experienced DMs like us. Or a DM running an adventure that doesn't give out a lot (and most of them don't) and doesn't want to "show favoritism" by granting extra treasure to one character. As I mentioned, if I trusted a DM I'd play with that rule. But when you look across all DMs you need to have a playable game first that knowledgable people can then tweak to fit their table's preferences.
 

beancounter

(I/Me/Mine)
That's a good idea, but the spell level may not be in cinque with the creator of the spell, or the level of the party.

For example - Hunger of Hadar is a 3rd level spell, but Hadar is star-like elder evil that may be a bit too much for a 5th level party to handle. And by the time they are high enough level to beat an eldritch horror, a 3rd level spell will be below their radar.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
Essentially it comes down to this. . . any spell with a name attached is a rare spell and is not available as a spell that a PC can simply choose when they go up a level. In other words, these spells can only be found in-game. Of course, this mean the DM has to be fair-minded in littering adventures with scrolls or spell books with some of these spells.
I like it. In addition to providing spells in-game, I further increase spell rarity by making spellcasting a dangerous endeavor (brain trauma); if a caster lacks the strength for a spell, it could leave him catatonic.
 

BTW, I do this for clerics and druids as well - but granting them new spells to add to or replace from existing spell lists that they find on scrolls or are awarded for doing stuff for their churches/orders or going a holy quest.
As did I at times in previous editions. I dont house rule much or at all in 5E simply because we play once or every other week for only a few hours so its worth keeping everyone relatively on the same page regarding the core books.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
That's a good idea, but the spell level may not be in cinque with the creator of the spell, or the level of the party.

For example - Hunger of Hadar is a 3rd level spell, but Hadar is star-like elder evil that may be a bit too much for a 5th level party to handle. And by the time they are high enough level to beat an eldritch horror, a 3rd level spell will be below their radar.

I don't understand this post. I did not say the only way to get these spells is by defeating those who created them.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
New DMs are neither worse nor extreme - and they are likely more numerous than long time experienced DMs like us. Or a DM running an adventure that doesn't give out a lot (and most of them don't) and doesn't want to "show favoritism" by granting extra treasure to one character. As I mentioned, if I trusted a DM I'd play with that rule. But when you look across all DMs you need to have a playable game first that knowledgable people can then tweak to fit their table's preferences.

To be clear, I didn't say wizards don't get to choose their spells, just that named spells can't be among those chosen. That leaves the vast majority of core spells (and spells from supplemental books as well if those are accessible to the table). So, I really don't see your vehement objection applying.

Maybe @R_J_K75 meant choosing any spells at all, but I can't speak for them.

That said, you definitely should not play with rules you don't like. 🤷‍♂️
 


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