D&D 5E My Simple Spell Rarity House Rule

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
I also see a disjoinder in how this works for a Sorcerer. They gain a spell when they gain a level. If they want to learn a spell that is on your restricted list, they have to wait to find it. Then it would seem they have to retrain to learn it. Beyond the issues related to the delay in access, that implies that there is a knowledge base for how their spells work as opposed to having it be something they naturally learn to do. It shifts the feel of the class more towards the duplicate of a wizard and further away from being innate casters of primal magics.

Oh yeah, I'd take any named spells off the sorcerer list altogether. 🤷‍♂️
 

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Oh yeah, I'd take any named spells off the sorcerer list altogether. 🤷‍♂️
Makes sense to me if you look at it from the standpoint that any named spell was researched and then created by a wizard it stands to reason its more academic then an innate spell. If a sorcerer saw a wizard cast it I think as a DM I'd give them a chance to learn it just based on them observing it.

To make an analogy, Steve Vai took guitar lessons from Joe Satriani, both learned technical guitar players. Eddie Van Halen was self-taught as far as I know, naturally musically inclined and built and modified his own guitars and equipment through trial and error. All three of them are considered virtuosos in some circles, they just learned their craft by different methods. There're people that can hear or see how a song is played and immediately pick up a guitar and play it in less than 5 minutes; that's how I see sorcerers. Others take years training their ear, learning, chords, scales and modes which gives them the fundamentals of music theory to figure out what they need. Thats how I imagine wizards learning spells. Sorry for the long-winded analogy I got carried away.
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
To make an analogy, Steve Vai took guitar lessons from Joe Satriani, both learned technical guitar players. Eddie Van Halen was self-taught as far as I know, naturally musically inclined and built and modified his own guitars and equipment through trial and error. All three of them are considered virtuosos in some circles, they just learned their craft by different methods. There're people that can hear or see how a song is played and immediately pick up a guitar and play it in less than 5 minutes; that's how I see sorcerers. Others take years training their ear, learning, chords, scales and modes which gives them the fundamentals of music theory to figure out what they need. Thats how I imagine wizards learning spells. Sorry for the long-winded analogy I got carried away.

eddie-munson-gif-1.gif
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
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.
I've been doing that for a long time. I also make spells in books other than the PHB rare by default. Sometimes I allow some of those spells to be chosen, but generally they have to be found.
 

Grantypants

Explorer
I've done this in my games as well. I've also had rules where spells over a certain level could not just be bought. But I feels, especially at higher levels, like I'm just putting extra restrictions on one class.

One campaign I've wanted to run is a campaign world where arcane magic is banned and for the most part lost. The known world is basically ruled by theocracies. The party would be part of a hidden group trying to rediscover lost arcane magic. Most of the adventures would be tied to seeking spell components, magic items, and spell scrolls/books.

Two things are keeping me from running it. The first is just time. I really don't have the time for prepping a homebrew campaign in the way I would like. But the second is that I don't think my current group of players would be up for it and I certainly don't have the time to run two campaigns.

The problems with this campaign idea, I think, for many players include:
  • Not wanting to track and rely on spell components.
  • Players playing wizards not wanting to be limited to what spells they can select when leveling up
  • Non-wizard players not wanting to be seen as second-fiddles and support characters for the wizards
I think that the third point is easily addressed with good plot lines and back stories and ensuring that there are rewards for all involved. The first two require a specific kind of player who would enjoy the story ramifications of those limitations.
I had an idea a while back for a campaign kind of like yours. In my campaign, certain spells have just stopped working, seemingly at random. The players are a group of spellcasting investigators trying to figure out why the spells stopped working and also find new replacement spells that can still be cast.

Mechanically, I would require that all PCs be capable of casting spells by 3rd level and that all classes have spellbooks and can learn new spells the way wizards do. Anything not in the PHB would have to be found and learned in play. From time to time, I'd roll on a master spell list and from then on, that spell would no longer function for players or NPCs.

This approach avoids having wizard PCs overshadow the rest of the party, as they otherwise might under this campaign premise. Everyone has to do a little more tracking of what spells are still castable. The big thing would be players dealing with losing access to spells they already knew. As DM, I'd have to be sure that the players understood and were on board with the whole premise from Session Zero. I'd also have to ensure that there were lots of good spells out in the world to find.
 

Thomas Shey

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

If you develop rules not based on the assumption that GMs will at least make errors they may not be able to acknowledge for one reason or another, you're making rules pretty much designed to produce some pretty unpleasant failure states, and not just in the case of malign GMs.
 

smetzger

Explorer
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.
And... I go the opposite way.

Every 'named' spell gets renamed to my characters name...
Nabrun's Acid Arrow
Nabrun's Magnificent Mansion
Nabrun's Sword
Nabrun's Forceful Hand
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
If you develop rules not based on the assumption that GMs will at least make errors they may not be able to acknowledge for one reason or another, you're making rules pretty much designed to produce some pretty unpleasant failure states, and not just in the case of malign GMs.
🤷‍♂️ Errors can be corrected or made up for and are ultimately unavoidable for any kind of rule - house or otherwise. I don't see it as a big deal, but explore different things for fun/themes/feels.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
🤷‍♂️ Errors can be corrected or made up for and are ultimately unavoidable for any kind of rule - house or otherwise. I don't see it as a big deal, but explore different things for fun/themes/feels.

There's a difference between rules that cause a one-off problem and ones that cause problems that are progressive over an extended period of time and impact the core of a character's functionality. Leaving those in as a default because you like the feel is, well, a take.
 

There's a difference between rules that cause a one-off problem and ones that cause problems that are progressive over an extended period of time and impact the core of a character's functionality. Leaving those in as a default because you like the feel is, well, a take.
What is the argument here? That @el-remmen ’s house rule doesn’t really work at their table?
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
There's a difference between rules that cause a one-off problem and ones that cause problems that are progressive over an extended period of time and impact the core of a character's functionality. Leaving those in as a default because you like the feel is, well, a take.

I don't know what to tell you, man. We play with different rules to have fun and try different things, If they end up not working to a degree where fun or practicality of use is undermined, we re-work it or go back to another version, or make a note for the next campaign, or any number of things. It isn't a big deal. I am also not interested in arguing the general philosophy of making rules.
 


Thomas Shey

Legend
I don't know what to tell you, man. We play with different rules to have fun and try different things, If they end up not working to a degree where fun or practicality of use is undermined, we re-work it or go back to another version, or make a note for the next campaign, or any number of things. It isn't a big deal. I am also not interested in arguing the general philosophy of making rules.

And I am, so feel free to start ignoring what I say, but I don't feel obligated to not say it.
 



So I see this rule as limiting play choices - and one can think that is a bad thing or one can think that is a good thing or... something in between.

Personally, I see limiting spell choices as no different than limiting races, subclasses, backgrounds, which books to use, whatever. If it fits with the theme of the campaign, and everyone is on board, then go with it.

IMO, limitations can inspire creativity and actually serve to open up exciting play opportunities. YMMV.
 

SkidAce

Legend
Supporter
Not sure if I responded upthread or not.

I consistently customize the available spells lists on most campaigns I run and worlds I create. Thematic reasons mostly.

The current campaign "nobody" knows any teleport/gate spells. That knowledge was lost with the empires of old (cliche, maybe, still fun). AND any spells not in the PH are not freely available.

The wizard of the group spent time, money, and adventuring to research "misty step" so they could research teleport etc. Plus they studied an ancient astrolabe to learn how the cosmos and astral were connected.

When they eventually learn teleport circle, they plan on using it politically. AWESOME.

---

As far as your rule, I think its a quick and efficient method of tagging spells that are not immediately available i.e. "Skid's Ballistic Boulder" or the "Temple of Ancient Knowledge's Divination Hymns".

Simple, elegant, thumbs up!
 

Mort

Legend
Supporter
Oh yeah, I'd take any named spells off the sorcerer list altogether. 🤷‍♂️

To me, this just seems to kick the sorcerer while they're down - they already have such an arbitrarily limited list!

What I'd do - Sorcerer's get their spells "naturally" so are more "effect" than "name" based. So if it makes sense for the sorcerer to get Bigby's Hand at 9th - they can take it (Which is, itself, a house rule since the spell isn't on the sorcerer list. IMO, silly, as it's EXACTLY the kind of spell I see a sorcerer taking).
 

el-remmen

Moderator Emeritus
To me, this just seems to kick the sorcerer while they're down - they already have such an arbitrarily limited list!

What I'd do - Sorcerer's get their spells "naturally" so are more "effect" than "name" based. So if it makes sense for the sorcerer to get Bigby's Hand at 9th - they can take it (Which is, itself, a house rule since the spell isn't on the sorcerer list. IMO, silly, as it's EXACTLY the kind of spell I see a sorcerer taking).

I will admit that it is a fairly arbitrary list that a DM/group that wants to spend the time to develop more reasoning behind can do so (as I suggest in the first post) by moving the names around and adding and removing spells from the lists.
 

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