Making prepred spellbook caster NPCs - how many spells do they know?


Advice


I have looked at a number of statted NPCs, but they only show spells prepared. How many do they actually know?

For example, most arcane casters learn 3+CastingMod 1st level spells at 1st level, and 2 additional spells each additional level. For a 7th level full caster, that becomes 3+CastingMod+2 1st level spells, 4 2nd level spells, 4 3rd level spells, and 2 4th level spells. However, as they advanced, surely they gain additional spells via purchases and treasure (such as a found scroll). So how many spells should a long term NPC have in their spellbook? Which spells I can figure out. But how many choices should they get?

How many do you give your NPCs and why?

/Cevah


1 person marked this as a favorite.

As many as I think they should have. A wizard who's been making a living teleporting people around will have a bunch of related spells and the opportunity to learn many more through favours from other wizards who seek them out. That said, you'll seldom use even as many different spells from an NPC as the bare minimum they can get as they level up.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cevah wrote:
However, as they advanced, surely they gain additional spells via purchases and treasure (such as a found scroll). So how many spells should a long term NPC have in their spellbook? Which spells I can figure out. But how many choices should they get?

A spell scribed into a spellbook is really no different than any other possession. It has a defined value in GP, and just counts against their budget. You can add as many additional spells as you like, then count their value against the NPC's wealth.


The ones they know at the start, plus the ones they know from leveling up and any "free" ones they get from a class feature. Extras can be added by taking the scribing cost out of their gear (remember PCs get to loot the spellbook). If you want the NPC to know more, but can't decide, just roll on the random scrolls table and include all the Wizard (or Magus/Alchemist/ect.) spells of the levels you want.


I know they can get more with their WBL budget, but how many more should they get?

/cevah


1 person marked this as a favorite.

How many more do you need them to have?

Do they need a particular set of spells to fulfill the role you have planned for them? If that set of spells didn't fit within what they already have from starting/leveling, they'll need to have aquired the additional ones through other means such as purchasing.

Do they have a particular back story or theme that would be suited to certain spells? Again, if they can't all be selected via leveling they'll need to have acquired them another way.

Can they afford more spells? Perhaps your particular wizard is poor, or has to funnel their resources into something else. Perhaps they're rich and like to collect exotic spells. Do what makes sense for the character.

Also consider your game balance: are they likely or certain to die and have their spellbook looted by the PCs? What should or shouldn't be in there so that PCs can access it? Maybe some spells are better off as consumable scrolls or potions, or they've invested in knowing them without having them in their spellbook.

Does that help?


Cevah wrote:

I know they can get more with their WBL budget, but how many more should they get?

/cevah

Depends, do you have a character that can make use of the book in the party?

Are they just to be an enemy and then probably get killed? A recurring enemy? An ally to the party?


If this is a NPC that I am stating up I give them the amount of spells the class description gives (Starting spells + spells for gaining levels) + any they purchase with their starting gold. If I think they need more I would increase the amount of starting wealth. If they are supposed to be a match for the PC’s I would give the PC starting wealth instead of that listed for an NPC. Since spell books have a listed price you can simply include a few spell books in the NPC’s purchased gear.

If the NPC is part of a group, and the group includes other arcane spell caster that they can copy spells from I would probably allow the spell casters to trade spells for the cost of scribing the spell into their book/familiar. If the NPC is friendly to the party and the party wants to swap spells I would also allow that.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Cevah wrote:

I know they can get more with their WBL budget, but how many more should they get?

/cevah

That's entirely your discretion as the one building the NPC. It's really no different than selecting feats or magical items; it's just a decision you make as part of the creation of the NPC.


Honestly, I'd count extra spells as treasure for the PCs rather than part of the NPCs wealth by level. They won't likely have a chance to cast the extras. If they're interacting with the PCs over the long term it may matter - barely - but not enough to be worth the bookkeeping.


An NPC’s gear is often treasure for the party anyway. I have yet to see a party that does not take the +1 sword the NPC has after they kill them. Extra spells may be used against the party in some cases. It could allow the NPC caster to memorize an additional spell besides the ones they gain from level.

Like any NPC a GM is free to add anything they want. The WBL is more of suggested guideline than a firm rule. If my plot requires a 1st level commoner to have an artifact, the 1st level commoner gets the artifact.


Cevah wrote:

I know they can get more with their WBL budget, but how many more should they get?

/cevah

Ask yourself two questions:

1. How many do you want them to have?
2. How much time do you want to spend thinking about it?

If the NPC is just another foe to be fought and defeated in one adventure, then #1 is probably moot (they won't get to use more than what they have prepared anyway), and #2 is probably going to be "as little as possible."

If the party wizard is jonesing to learn more spells and you want to throw them a bone, then add an additional spell per level, or something similar (unless the wizard's prepared spells already provide plenty of new spells to learn).

If the wizard is an recurring NPC (either ally or enemy) whose you anticipate using a wide variety of spells tailored to different encounters, then give them as many spells known as they need in order to be that versatile.

Whatever your decision, I would count the extra spells against the NPC's budget for treasure/gear. The NPC would have had to pay to learn/scribe anything that they don't get for free, and and the spellbook is worth money


Perhaps I should rephrase things.

I am thinking of long term NPCs that the party may have friendly encounters with either in town or elsewhere. These would be NPCs that color the environment, and perhaps become friends or allies of the PCs. They may be willing to allow spellbook access for the usual fee, but they might also become PC followers or be suppliers of spells for PCs. They would regularly show up for the PCs to interact with, but not usually seeking out the PCs.

These would not be enemies to kill and loot. Yet even those tend to have more than minimal spellbooks.

Telling me that it is up to me when I am asking for your advice doesn't help. :-/

If you have stats for any NPCs from adventures that show more than spells prepared, I would love to know how many spells are in their spellbook. Which spells are not important as I can customize based on their role. Likewise, if you have a statted spellbook as treasure, knowing what CR it is treasure for and the number of spells would also work.

/cevah


How rich is the NPC and how much do they trust the PCs? You could limit the spells they offer for copying, while implying they know more and letting it grow over time without the NPC becoming strong, by only letting the PCs copy from an old spellbook when the NPC switched to a Blessed Book a while ago. On the opposite end they could have a vast collection across multiple books that are disorganized. Mechanically they would mean the NPC has a percentage chance (modified by how common you think the spell is) to have any spell a PC asks for within the NPC's level range.

If you need a hard list, random generation is probably your answer.


You may want to take inspiration from the Spellbooks section on A.o.N., however I would still take them with a pinch of salt ...

Very quick check:
Erages Journeyman's Manual (Spellbook, Level 7 Magus)
Magus 7 - Int. 13 for 3rd Level Spells
[1] = 3 + 2 + 2 (+ 1 for INT+1) = 8
[2] = 2 + 2 + 2 = 6
[3] = 2
Actually has the same
[1] = 8
[2] = 6
[3] = 2

=

Nyzam's Remedies (Formula Book, Level 3 Alchemist)
Alchemist 3 - Int. 11 for 1st Level Extracts
[1] = 2 + 2 + 2 (+0 for INT+0) = 6
Actually has one less
[1] = 5

=

Mastery of Word and Thought (Spellbook, Level 20 Enchanter)
Wizard 20 - Int. 19 for 9th Level Spells
[1] = 3 + 2 (+4 for INT+4) = 9
[2] = 2 + 2 = 4
[3] = 2 + 2 = 4
[4] = 2 + 2 = 4
[5] = 2 + 2 = 4
[6] = 2 + 2 = 4
[7] = 2 + 2 = 4
[8] = 2 + 2 = 4
[9] = 2 + 2 + 2 + 2 = 8
Actually has a little more until the end, where it is slightly less
[1] = 11
[2] = 10
[3] = 9
[4] = 8
[5] = 9
[6] = 9
[7] = 9
[8] = 7
[9] = 7

My suggestion would be to add their basic allotment from Class progression, (e.g., a Wizard 1 is [1] 3+INT, Wizard 2 is [1] 3+INT+2; etc), and add none to many depending on the encounters you imagine for their N.P.C. life stories. Someone who is stuck at home on the farm will not have many opportunities to swap Spells, have time to research Spells nor find accomplished peers to pay for Spellbook access, even if they (somehow) reach middle levels. However, once they get into higher levels, (e.g., 12+), I would say that they could only have reached that point with exposure to an adventurer/researcher lifestyle - or at least access to those living that way. Therefore these would gain more additions, usually dependent on Settlement or their backstory. Wealth, Settlement access, theme and Spellcasting Modifiers all come into play. If you want to limit how many new Spells these N.P.C.s can offer your P.C.s, remember that if they are often interacting, (and possibly want to become Cohorts), then they have similar interests/lives, so will have a lot of crossover in the Spells that they have. If you want to give a particular Spell to your Party, then an N.P.C. with a similar interest might have already researched/scribed it. Regardless of other calculations, I would always cap the amount based on what wealth gain the Spells represent - travelling, Spellcasting fees and Spellbook access, favours/bribes ... all the things that the P.C.s would have to do. So basically, what amount of treasure/time saving do they represent?


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
avr wrote:
Honestly, I'd count extra spells as treasure for the PCs rather than part of the NPCs wealth by level. They won't likely have a chance to cast the extras. If they're interacting with the PCs over the long term it may matter - barely - but not enough to be worth the bookkeeping.

The primary purpose of NPC wealth by level is to control the amount of loot the party receives and keep it to a reasonable level. While it does have a secondary role in keeping things relatively balanced and consistent, optimization decisions in the building of the NPC have a much bigger impact on the overall power level of the NPC. In the case of a Wizard, spell selection and tactics is overwhelmingly the most important consideration in the difficulty the NPC will present as an adversary.

It's true that most NPC Wizards will never live long enough to change their spell prep, and thus extra spells in their spellbook is just look for the PC, and that's perfectly fine.

Cevah wrote:

Telling me that it is up to me when I am asking for your advice doesn't help. :-/

It really is just a subjective decision based on the NPC in question, "whatever feels right". There's a huge range of numbers I could spitball that would work, and without knowing the specific NPC it's hard to say if it's the right answer.

If you just want to be given complete spellbooks without having to make those subjective calls yourself, I did create a script to do that. If you don't want it to try to fit to a page limit, just set the limit really high (setting it to 2000 pages will ensure it always views the spellbook as "mostly empty"; it only starts to consider page space once it's filled at least half the available pages). You can always swap out spells you don't like for specific ones you may want.

I would not recommend rolling by hand, but here's the algorithm I used to determine the number of spells at each spell level:

Spoiler:

* Pick a number between 1 and 4. This is your weight number. Bigger weights means your spellbook will be more top-heavy. If the spellbook only contains 1st level spells, choose a number between 4 and 6 instead.
* Roll a number of dice equal to your chosen weight (ie, 2d6 for weight 2). This is how many spells you have at your highest spell level, to a minimum of 2. If the rolled number of spells exceeds the remaining pages in the spellbook, reduce it so it fits.
* If you weight is less than 5 and less than half the spellbook pages are used, there is a 50% chance the weight increases for the next spell level down. If more than half of the spellbook pages are used, then there is instead a 50% chance the weight decrease (unless the weight is 4 or 5, in which case the odds are 75% / 100% respectively). If weight ever drops to 0, stop the spellbook generation and don't add more spells.

The spellbook styles slightly change this algorithm. Slim style changes it to d4's, the starting weight is 1-2, and the maximum weight is reduced to 3. Thick style changes it to d8's, and the starting weight is 3-4.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

3


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Cevah wrote:
If you have stats for any NPCs from adventures that show more than spells prepared, I would love to know how many spells are in their spellbook.

You're looking for a specific answer that doesn't exist. Different NPC statblocks in different modules/APs have different spellbooks as loot with different numbers of spells.

I get it you want a number so you can just duplicate what has been done before, and the OCD in me approves. But this is absolutely one of those DM/author design moments.

Quote:
Which spells are not important as I can customize based on their role.

All of them. Just as a PC picks their spells - learned by level or purchased and scribed - based on need and desire, so too does an NPC. I would suggest that if the worldbuilding means that much to you, DO IT. Meaning, take the NPC as the party meets them, and build that statblock. Then, as the story progresses, when the NPC should be leveling, update it. Treat it as a PC.

Quote:
Likewise, if you have a statted spellbook as treasure, knowing what CR it is treasure for and the number of spells would also work.

I'm missing something. Treasure doesn't have a CR. And spellbooks are just part of an NPC's treasure allotment. Any time you would assign "X gp", that's where a spellbook worth X gp could go.


Cevah wrote:
Telling me that it is up to me when I am asking for your advice doesn't help. :-/

Three. They should have three extra spells.

More seriously, lots of advice has already been given and I'm not sure what you're looking for that hasn't already been provided. There are no rules to follow here, or even any guidelines. No extra spells might be most appropriate. An extra ten or twenty spells may be most appropriate. Literally every spell ever printed may be appropriate in the right situation.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

They should have reverse Fibonacci number of spells.

When they can cast level 5 spells, they should have an extra 5 level 1 spells, 3 level 2 spells, 2 level 3 spells, 1 level 4 spell, and 1 level 5 spell.

This is the final ruling from the Internet Opinion Committee, whose authority you desperately crave.

You may appeal this decision in one of two ways:

1. Present a Certificate of Appeal to the Appellate Court.

2. Ignore this ruling and do whatever you want.


Don't overthink it. Put in what you want them to have, then subtract them from the NPC's wealth. Some wizards will spend inordinate amounts on filling their spellbook, while others might pick only what they think they need and spend the rest on items or non-adventuring-type stuff. Even that aside, a wizard will likely spend differently than a magus, etc. This is not that different from filling out any NPC's treasure allotment.

For wizards who spend inordinate amounts on spellbooks, they may split them into multiple books or keep a traveling book with important on-the-go spells and leave the rest in a safe place. So don't feel like a 10th level NPC will necessarily dump half a rulebook's worth of new spells on your party wizard (at least, not without extra work finding the cache) just because the NPC has access to all the spells you'd expect her to.


Well, since I am not getting example NPCs, how about your characters? What level is your caster, and how many spells are in their books?

[Not theory characters, but ones you have actually played.]

/cevah


1 person marked this as a favorite.

I haven't neatened it up yet to group the spells by theme, but aside from combat spells, if they live in a settlement and support themselves somehow, they probably have some kind of business spells that would be in the mix. I went through cantrips to 6th level spells over in the businesses for wizards thread not too long ago.

So I'd probably select a small selection of them around a particular theme, offhand I'd say something like 2-3, to add in addition to their more adventuring-relevant spells. Probably a few more spells than that if they primarily are selling Spellcasting Services as their shtick.


Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path Subscriber
Cevah wrote:
What level is your caster, and how many spells are in their books?

You're usually a really rational poster, so I'm not sure why this isn't sinking in.

Some of my wizards (I'm counting those I've played and those I've been DM for) have made it up into high level (15th to 25th level) with no more than one or two spells that were scribed from scrolls. Seriously.

Others have spent significant portions of their WBL to broaden their repertoire. As well, at our table, captured spellbooks are usually transcribed before selling. So... easily a dozen or more spells per level above what's normally learned.

It totally depends on the player.

We keep telling you that there is no "right" answer or "normal" answer. There might be an "average" answer, but to be even vaguely meaningful as guidance you'd need a much larger statistical sample than you're going to get on this forum.

That all said, I have a suggestion. Imagine the NPC has say... three extra spells per spell level. If the players specifically ask for a spell that the NPC doesn't know "on paper", pencil that spell in and tick down the number. That lets your NPC be explicitly useful to the players. You sound like you want this NPC to be special/memorable, and this is a way to do that.


Here's the numbers for my one high-level prepared arcane caster, a 10th-level witch in PFS:

Spells Prepared, 1st-5th: 6/5/4/4/3
Free Spells Known, 1st-5th: 9/5/5/5/5 (includes patron spells)
Actual Spells Known, 1st-5th: 12/9/11/6/7
Purchased spells, 1st-5th: 3/4/6/1/2

She has a number of extra spells known for most levels, because learning new spells is relatively cheap and easy in PFS, and OMG necessary. She's bought more 3rd levels than any other because that's the traditional power-jump to LOTS of always-useful spells (dispel, fly, good area damage, condition removal, etc.). Also, her spellcasting tactics have radically shifted as she advanced in level, which required the acquisition of very different spells. (As a white-haired witch, she focused on touch spells early on, but now prefers a mix of blast spells, area control, and ranged "save or suck" attacks.)


Dasrak made a random spellbook generator that might be relevant here. It was linked over in this
"Need Mid-Level Wizard Builds"
thread by J.A.

A few of the builds there might also be of interest when it comes to examples.

Come to think of it, Ravingdork has made quite a reputation for building, well, builds and characters. Getting in touch with him would probably be interesting if he has the time to reply.


Coidzor wrote:

Dasrak made a random spellbook generator that might be relevant here. It was linked over in this

"Need Mid-Level Wizard Builds" thread by J.A.

A few of the builds there might also be of interest when it comes to examples.

Come to think of it, Ravingdork has made quite a reputation for building, well, builds and characters. Getting in touch with him would probably be interesting if he has the time to reply.

Dasrak already linked his generator above. But the thread had two statted builds of his:

Wizard 6: +2/+3/+1
Evoker 7: +1/+5/+7/+2

Tim Emrick posted one*:
Witch 10: +4/+4/+6/+1/+2
*To calculate 1st level spells, you have to use 1st level Int Mod, not current Int Mod.
To have 6/5/4/4/3 spells prepared requires a +5 Int Mod at 10th, therefore Int of 20 or 21. This means the likely starting Int was 2 less due to level bumps.

Thanks for these samples.

/cevah


Cevah wrote:

Well, since I am not getting example NPCs, how about your characters? What level is your caster, and how many spells are in their books?

[Not theory characters, but ones you have actually played.]

/cevah

I'm sure you could trawl thru people's aliases here and find a bunch. Here's a 3rd level wizard with 11 1st level spells and 4 2nd level spells in his spellbook, which I'd consider not unusual.


@avr: Thanks. That wizard has: +2/+2 over minimum.

/cevah

Community / Forums / Pathfinder / Pathfinder First Edition / Advice / Making prepred spellbook caster NPCs - how many spells do they know? All Messageboards

Want to post a reply? Sign in.