I started playing DnD in the late 70s and have not played any of the newer editions. In the early days the rules recommended a spell book as a place for a magic user to store spells. I DM’d often in those days and devised a system for the storage of spells that worked well. I am submitting my old system so that you can consider it while designing DnD Next. Feel free to tear to pieces... no pride here.
Here are the main points outlining my spell system…
- A magic user’s/wizard’s spells are stored in a material object (typically a staff or ring but virtually anything could work).
- When a magic user/wizard reaches first level his/her trainer (master) awards him a staff (or other object) that will be used by the new wizard to store spells during his magic career.
- The master will place a new basic spell in the staff. The spell, I call it a “Place Spell”, is used by the new wizard to store new spells in his staff.
- New spells are acquired by reading scrolls and tomes or by another wizard casting a spell on the staff concurrently with the new wizard casting the Place Spell. This is only possible once for each specific spell. A staff can hold only a single instance of any specific spell.
- A wizard can store spells in his staff that are of a higher level than is the wizard. However, if the spell is of a higher level, the wizard doing the storing loses a HP for each level that the spell is greater than the wizard. (Ex: A 4th Level wizard finds an 8th Level spell on a scroll. The wizard casts Place Spell and then casts the scroll at his staff. The staff captures the 8th Level spell. The strain to the wizard caused by dealing with a higher-level magic, costs him 4 HPs). His staff then contains the 8th Level spell but the wizard cannot access the spell again until he reaches the 8th Level.
- Spells can be stolen in this manner if the new wizard is willing to risk the wrath of high-level spell directed at him while he casts the Place Spell. During a spell attack against the wizard he can cast the Place Spell and then hold his staff up to the incoming spell. The staff captures the spell and the only damage/effect done to the wizard is a loss of HPs for each level that the spell is higher than the wizard.
- The Place Spell could also be used to store a spell in most objects, such as a skull. The wizard might place a fireball spell on a skull by using the Place Spell. The skull is then placed as a trap, to release fireballs when disturbed. This was useful for creating semi-permanent portals and such.
- A wizard can continue to cast spells for as long as the sum of the cast spell’s levels are equal or less than his HPs. Once this limit is reached the wizard loses HPs in the amount of the level of each spell cast beyond the limit. (Ex: If a wizard has 6 HP he could cast 6 x 1st Lvl spells, or 3 x 2nd Lvl spells etc. without any adverse effect. But if he were to cast 7 x 1st Lvl spells he would lose 1 HP. (6 HPs) – (7 x 1st Lvl) = -1 HPs.