Chapter 1: How to use Tome of Magic
- An apprentice stands in the laboratory of his ancient wizard master. The youth's eyes stray across tables cluttered with alembics, retorts, beakers, bat wings, and phials, and beyond to shelves of scrolls and books. A musty old volume, bound in cracked green leather with glittering silver hinges, catches his attention. His master is elsewhere, so the curious student pulls the heavy volume from the shelf and, with a puff of breath, blows away a thick layer of dust. "Tome of Magic" it reads, spelled out in silver leaf on the brittle cover.
- The apprentice can't believe his discovery. He's never seen this book before. What secrets has his master been keeping from him? What secrets will he discover inside? With trembling fingers, the apprentice opens the creaking cover.
- "Ahem, O callow youth! Perhaps you are dissatisfied with my training and would like to seek another master!" booms the master's voice from behind the apprentice. The youth startles and guiltily slams the cover shut. Turning, he smiles sheepishly at his master.
- The old wizard, bald and portly, takes the book from his apprentice's hands. "Before you can learn secrets like these, you must first master the basics, which I sometimes doubt you ever will. Now tell me, what are the three Greater Gesticulations used in casting a light spell?" The wizard deftly slides the tome back into place on the shelf as he speaks.
- Flustered, the apprentice stammers out what feels like an elementary reply. But in his heart, he knows that someday he will read the secrets of that tome.
- Someday is now!
How to Use This Book
With over two hundred new spells for wizards and priests and a host of new magical items, the question of how to use this book may seem fairly obvious to most players. It appears to be a simple matter of opening the pages, selecting spells and magical items, and tossing these into a campaign.
Of course, it can be done that way, but players and DMs who take this route will miss many of the new possibilities and expansions the Tome of Magic has to offer. On the surface, the Tome of Magic may appear to be just a collection of spells and magical items. But it contains new game rules and information that goes much deeper.
This volume introduces a new type of wizard magic, expanded specializations, new priest spheres, and new variations on priest magic. These rules have the potential to impact a campaign in a way greater than a first glance might suggest. To benefit the most from these expansions, the DM should carefully consider how to introduce and use the new rules.
Who Is It For?
The Tome of Magic is written with both the DM and player in mind. Dungeon Masters who keep this book out the hands of their players are doing their game a disservice. Likewise, players who want this book only to learn about the new magical items are missing the point. Both player and DM can use this book to improve and expand the game.
In the game world of wizards, there are two significant additions—wild magic and elementalists. Wild magic is a strange, new type of magical power, just being explored and discovered for the first time. Wild mages are rare and exotic. Long before encountering such a wizard, characters may hear tell of a new type of magic in reports from travelers to distant lands. Of course, every adventurer knows that these reports tend to be exaggerated—more fiction than fact.
The first appearance of a wild mage is best presented by the DM as a mysterious NPC. The wild mage may join the party briefly or may be the springboard for an adventure. He should not be a henchman or hireling, but someone who is the characters' equal or superior. This gives players the opportunity to experience the wonders (and terrors) of wild magic before immersing themselves in this new art. After the characters have learned something of this strange magic, wild mage player characters may be introduced, perhaps as apprentices of the same NPC. Gradually, these new mages will become accepted members of the campaign world.
Elementalists can be introduced in a similar fashion, although their arrival is likely to be less mysterious. The first appearance of the specialization could be a small school or guild in a nearby town, established by an elementalist from distant lands (where such magic is common). The newly established wizard is likely to be looking for an apprentice; new characters are eligible to join the school. Of course, established mages may take an interest (both positive and negative) in his activities.
The introduction of new priest spheres can pose a logical problem in some campaigns—if an existing Power has influence in a certain sphere, why did his priests never have these spells before? Why do they wake up one morning and suddenly have access to spells never before seen?
The DM can use several solutions to this question. The first is most effective for such esoteric spheres as Thought and Numbers. In this case, few (if any) existing Powers have access to these spheres. Instead, priests arrive (as did wild mages) from distant lands, spreading the word of their god. These NPC priests have strange powers never before seen. In some locations, they may be accepted, while in others, they may be driven out with vengeance. As new player characters are created, this "new" faith with all its advantages and disadvantages becomes an option.
Another explanation, particularly useful for the spheres of War and Wards, is that the Power always had access to these spells, but never had the need to grant them. A deity of war could reasonably withhold spells of the War sphere until the threat of war exists. To introduce the War sphere into the campaign, the DM need only create a little border tension and massing of troops—the perfect background for many adventures.
Certain deities may be too aloof or remote to become involved in the affairs of men until the need arises. This is particularly appropriate for the spheres of Law and Chaos. A shift in the "harmony of the universe" might warrant the attention of these Powers to "set things right."
The introduction of subdivisions in the elemental sphere can be effected in a similar manner. Foreign priests may enter the campaign region and introduce the concept, or existing priests might discover their own deities suddenly taking a more active interest in their spells. Conflict or rivalry on the elemental planes can be used to justify rigid adherence to a particular element. A fire god, feeling the rising power of a sea god, may enforce strict elemental selection to bolster the devotion of his priests.
Of all the new priest material, quest spells are the easiest to introduce. These are given by the DM only when special conditions warrant. It is easy to justify that conditions have never yet warranted the need for quest spells.
Of all the new material in this book, magical items require the least effort to introduce. Many are simply treasures that can be discovered in a newly-won hoard. In this case, DMs are encouraged not to reveal all the powers of a newly-found item. Rather, the player should be forced to puzzle out an item's powers. For example, the characters find a magical quill. What does it do? How is it used? Answering these questions is a goal that players can set for their characters. After spending time, spells, and money on research and possibly more adventures, the characters may discover that they own a quill of law.
Another effective and logical method for introducing never-before-seen magical items is for NPCs to possess these fascinating new devices. Thus, a wild mage might own a rod of disruption or an elementalist a wand of corridors.
Patience, Patience, Patience
An important thing for both the DM and players to remember is that the existence of Tome of Magic does not mean that everything in it needs to be rushed into play. If the need for a particular spell does not exist right away, don't worry. Sooner or later, a player or DM will discover that it suits his needs perfectly. Properly used, the Tome of Magic will become a source of surprises and inspiration for many adventures to come.