by John Hawcock

Magic spells are a staple of FRPGs but I for one have often wondered where they come from. If the rules state that they come from spirits or the gods (such as RuneQuest(TM) spirit and divine magic) the players can do as their characters would and simply accept that that is the way the world works but what about RuneQuest sorcery and D&D spell books, for example?

In these cases one is taught the spells by an Adept or Mage or learns them from scrolls or books which were themselves written by other sorcerers who learned them from their masters or from scrolls. Since such spells clearly have a non-spiritual origin the implication is that someone must have invented them but no games system I am familiar with has any concept of research (other than looking something up in a really old scroll).

When I was running a RuneQuest campaign I did devise some rules for sorcerous research. As it happened, the characters were always too busy staying alive for these rules to be used much so they never got a proper playtest. I haven't reproduced them here as they are very system-specific but I can do so if anyone is interested either because they run RQ or wish to adapt them to their own systems.