Modified Spell System
Borrowing from D&D Simple this is a spell point system, but is much simpler than most. It makes spells considerably more accessible allowing more spells at lower levels and fewer spells per day at higher levels. Spell Casting characters gain a great deal of flexibility, so balance comes into question.
Mana or spell points are 1 per level plus a bonus if primary casting attribute is 12 or more (1 for 12-13, 2 for 14-15, 3 for 16-17, 4 for 18-19). Spells cost 1 point per level to cast (1 point for a 1st level spell and 9 points for a 9th level spell). The maximum level of spell a wizard, cleric, or druid can cast is equal to their level (a 1st level wizard is limited to 1st level spells while a 9th level wizard can cast any spells).
Bards, Rangers, and Paladins get the same number of bonus points for Intelligence or Wisdom, but only 1/2 their level for the purposes of spell points, spell casting, and maximum level of spell usable. A 1st level Ranger can’t cast any spells while a 10th level Bard is limited to 5th level spells.
Casting a spell is done like making an attack roll (1d20 plus prime attribute bonus plus level or half level) the target number is 10 plus the spell level. If the roll fails but is more than 1 the character loses the Mana and the spell fails to go off. If the roll is a natural 1 the character also suffers backlash causing 1 hit point of damage per level of the spell.
Mana is recovered at the rate of 1 per hour of rest (this need not be sleeping, but cannot be fighting, walking, spell crafting or using any skills). In addition the character must have spent an hour preparing within the last 24 hours to be ready for spell casting.
Preparing is praying for Clerics and Paladins, Meditating for Druids and Rangers, and Studying a spell book for Wizards and Bards. During the next 24 hours a wizard or bard can use any spells they know in the books they were able to study (a factor if only one of a set is available) and divine casters can use any spell on their list.
A wizard or bard who finds another’s spell book may cast a spell directly out of it. The character must use Read Magic to interpret the spell, then they may read directly from the book taking 1 round per level of the spell and spend the mana to cast it before making the casting roll on the last round. If they succeed the spell goes off as intended. Casting higher level spells than normally allowed isn’t possible even if it is in a book possessed (Scrolls may be used as normal though and there is no mana cost to the reader).
The spells available to a character are 1/2 their primary attribute (a cleric with a 16 wisdom would choose 8 cleric spells per level of spell they could cast). Wizards and Bards will have these in their primary spell book (if this exceeds 50 levels of spells they will need to get another spell book before they can add the spells). A new spell book is 100 GP blank, each spell added costs 100 GP/level even if they already have it in another spell book. Spell books weigh 5 lb, limiting the number that can be carried (a 3rd level wizard with a 14 intelligence gets 7 1st level spells, 7 2nd level spells, and 7 3rd level spells for a total of 42 levels, upon reaching 4th level a new spell book is needed or they can only get 2 of their potential 7 spells from 4th level).
Open spell slots, those spells not chosen when leveling up, may be filled later when additional sources of spells are found, researched, or otherwise discovered. Not filling all their slots would give a player the option to acquire a spell later not in the Player’s Handbook.
When a character goes up a level they may choose as many spells as they can know from the list in the PHB at no additional cost. If they want spells from other sources they must find them and capture/purchase them (100 GP/level is standard; if a wizard that is in addition to the 100 GP/level to copy it into the spellbook). If a divine caster (Cleric/Druid/Paladin/Ranger) wants spells beyond their limit they can get a Prayer Book (It costs the same as a wizard’s spell book, including the cost of ink) which allows direct casting of spells like a wizard casting out of a book except it doesn’t require read magic and must be made at a temple of the divine casters faith (a cleric of Tymora can’t use a cleric of Torm’s prayer book, but two clerics of Tymora could share a prayer book of Tymora).
No spells are barred to clerics or wizards (that is spheres aren’t used for clerics, and if a wizard spell was listed as exclusive to some group those limits can be ignored). Druids and Illusionists are limited as normal and other specialty wizards don’t exist in this setting (a character can declare themselves a specialist and select mostly from one school, but it has no statistical impact).
With this system Enchant an Item becomes available at 6th level, so a character may attempt to make a magic item, potion, or scroll at that level (or with additional risk when they have access to a spell book with the spell in it).
If recharging an existing item the character just makes the standard spell rolls and expends the energy, but if they fumble the Enchant an Item casting the item is destroyed.
If making single use items, potions, and scrolls the process is generally to gather components and cast enchant an item and any other spells needed for the effect. The DM can have the player quest for materials (strongly suggested for powerful items), or may allow them to purchase items gathered by others (generally a GP per XP of the item being made). If doing a material quest for weaker items such as a potion of healing or a scroll for a low level spell a material quest may yield enough to attempt making the item a number of times equal to the character’s mana divided by the level of spell the item simulates (a character with 9 mana cold gather enough materials on a quest to make 9 potions of healing or 4 potions of extra-healing, but would need to attempt making each one separately).
If the item is charged it counts as a permanent item for material quests, but doesn’t require the Permanency spell to be used, use the long creation method instead so a 50 charge wand of fireballs requires 50 fireballs (only the enchant an item spells have a chance of destroying the item though).
Permanent items require Enchant an Item, Permanency, and any associated spells and at least some of the special components must be gathered by the creator through material quests. Powerful items require multiple material quests (in the case of high plus weapons and armor at least 1 quest per bonus granted and possibly more if it also has special features). It helps if quests relate to the abilities, a flametongue sword may require travel to the elemental plane of fire, the blood of fire creatures, and so on. Any item with a creature associated with it (Dragon Slayer, Giant Strength) should have quests related to the creature type. Regardless when all the questing is done the character makes their spell rolls and if all goes well the item has been created. A single quest never counts for making multiple items even if they are the same type. A fumble on the Enchant an Item destroys the materials while a fumble on the permanency results in a cursed item.
This first level spell as written is rather worthless in my system, so I’m giving it an upgrade. It still drains 8 Constitution temporarily and takes a 100 GP pearl to cast. It works on 1 item per level (potion, regular item, or magic trap). It will determine the exact powers of an item, number of charges/doses remaining, what will happen if a trap is triggered, and perhaps most important it will detect curses/cursed items.
Other Identification Options:
Detect Magic will allow a caster to estimate general abilities (int check) or pretty specific abilities (1/2 int check). In the case of potions a 1/2 int check will determine potion type with a taste/sip; or a full int check if using an alchemy lab. Read Magic will always identify a scroll, but if it is cursed using read magic will activate the curse (same for magic books).
Permanent items usually have a reputation; recognized on a Wis check with specific functions known on 1/2 Wisdom. Will still need to do research, commune, or use identify to find command words if not on the item or related in legends (possible depending on item).
Newly created items, or those from other realms might not be identified by reputation in which case Detect Magic, Identify, or some other method will be necessary.