So it has come to this.

After working around the edges of the system in various stages — races, classes, powers, skills, equipment, dungeons, monsters, settlements, economy, deities, planes, cosmology, and so on — I’m officially starting into spells and rituals.

This is pretty exciting for me.

I began this project wanting to overhaul the spell system — back in 2006 — when I realized the difficulty in doing so was that the system was fundamentally borked and had to rebuilt from the ground-up. Reconstruction of the cosmology.

One of the great things about D&D is how it has always been collaborative.

With the near-constant addition of material over forty years, there are a lot of inconsistencies and redundancies — enough that each successive iteration of D&D tends to cover less material on a cosmological level.

I started reading the 1e Guide to Immortals and noted how the foundations of D&D cosmology were taking shape — and to an extent that I haven’t seen in later editions. Planescape and Spelljammer would seem to cover different quadrants of the cosmological scale — if you could actually divide a scale into quadrants.

…But I’m getting away from my actual topic here.

“One spell per day.”

I have gone over this idea again and again over the years. Trying to figure out what “one spell per day” means — what it should mean — and how to apply it.

Magic missile and charm person are not equal spells, and yet they require the same “spell slot.” Why? What on earth makes anyone think they’re equal?

Redesigning the entire game on a cosmological scale afforded me the opportunity to see where the concept of “one spell per day” fits best, and how best to use it to its greatest effect. How to solve a later problem caused by its absence.

“The fifteen minute workday.”

I believe that solving the problem of the wizard having only one spell per day by giving the wizard more spells created the fifteen minute workday problem.

Wizards (and other magic-users) had spells which were used to solve the problems typically encountered during an adventure. Having one spell meant going without a lot of the time — having more spells typically meant halting forward progress in an adventure as soon as the wizard exhausted his daily allotment of spells.

4e provided the tools necessary to solve both problems, but I believe it was held back by a legacy rule of assigning XP based on combat encounters.

In the 4e ritual system, you can perform a ritual as many times as you like so long as you have the materials necessary and pay the associated cost to perform the ritual. There’s a time component as well which can cause some problems.

“Buy XP with GP”

This is really it. This is the thing.

You cast spells with GP per ritual rules, and you gain GP through adventuring. You can cast better spells through level advancement, which is also keyed to GP. So, you are faced with the very real choice of using a ritual at the cost of the same treasure you require for level advancement.

Every adventure is a risk. Every spell cast is a risk.

You can have as many “spells per day” as you like, but every single one of them costs you something. Spells like magic missile are instead powers which can be used on an at-will or encounter basis. You can fight all day if you want.

But! But if you want the puzzle-solving power of a magic-user, there is a very real cost associated that you must pay every time. GP is a party resource.