Not-so-Weird Tables: Starting Magic User Spells

Would you trust this guy to give your apprentice magic-user a proper education? (PS: I hear the movie is terrible)

This post on Planet Algol reminded me that my own game’s house rules for starting magic-user spells might be of interest to folks. (They’re derived from the Aquerra starting wizard spell tables, here.)

Note that one way of de-emphasizing the elf’s superiority to the magic-user at first level is to give the elf a single spell randomly rolled on a d12. (This also applies to homebrew hybrid casters like the thief-dabbler.) Watching the elf try to find a use for a spell such as floating disk or shield is an amusing exercise!

If these tables seem insufficiently dependent on the magic-user’s Intelligence score, feel free to allow additional rolls equal to the number of bonus languages the character receives for high Intelligence, or allow that many spells to be chosen by the player without resorting to a roll.

A starting magic-user begins play knowing three spells: an offensive spell, a defensive spell and a utility spell. Roll 1d6 on each of the following tables to determine which spells your magic-user has researched. (“Wizard’s Choice” indicates that you pick any one spell from the list you are currently rolling on.)

Offensive Spells
1: Charm Person
2: Light
3: Magic Missile
4: Sleep
5: Sleep
6: Wizard’s Choice

Defensive Spells
1: Hold Portal
2: Protection from Evil
3: Protection from Evil
4: Shield
5: Shield
6: Wizard’s Choice

Utility Spells
1: Detect Magic
2: Floating Disc
3: Read Languages
4: Read Magic
5: Ventriloquism
6: Wizard’s Choice


6 Responses to “Not-so-Weird Tables: Starting Magic User Spells”

  1. 1 Jay
    May 25, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    I rather like this system. Nice!

    P.S. The movie, while filled with cliches wasn’t really terrible. In fact, it’s much more science fantasy than fantasy.

  2. May 25, 2012 at 5:32 pm


    The most important element of the system is that it provides first level magic-users with some sort of offensive potential — so they don’t feel useless in combat — without automatically giving everyone the starting nuke of the sleep spell. (Most of them wind up learning sleep soon enough, of course, especially if you allow PCs to share spells freely at no cost.)

  3. 3 John
    May 27, 2012 at 10:39 am

    One thing I liked about this table as it appeared in the DMG was that something like, say, Dancing Lights was considered a defensive spell – it encouraged creative casting from the get-go. But on the other hand it’s nice for a magic-user to have a bit of real power to help them through first level.

  4. May 30, 2012 at 3:35 pm

    I actually enjoyed the movie quite a bit. It was silly, to be sure, but fun.

    I like the idea of splitting the spell list up this way.. Nicely done! One idea, what if instead of wizards choice, you roll on one of the other charts?

  5. May 30, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    @John: A table of this nature appeared in the DMG? Hm, that explains where my former DM got it from. And why it seemed strangely familiar…

    @David: The problem with “Wizard’s Choice” giving you a roll on another chart is that could leave you without an offensive spell, and the first level magic-user has a hard enough time as it is!

  6. June 3, 2012 at 2:44 pm


    By any chance do you have a page reference for the DMG table?

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Past Adventures of the Mule

May 2012

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