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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    As the title. Ignoring any costs involved with actually finding a wizard with the individual spells of interest, what might be a reasonable charge for this service? Some members of my group have pointed to the various Reasonable Prices for Magic Items projects that float around and say half the cost of buying a spell scroll, but I'm curious to see what y'all think.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Half the cost of a scroll was my very first thought as well. Consider - the wizard could scribe the scroll himself (which costs half the price of the scroll), then sell it. Or he can take a day to sit with you and teach directly out of his spellbook. His net is the same in this case, he's just trading off the downtime required to scribe the scroll in question, for the one day needed to scribe the scroll. Gets time back, but has to be wary since, you know, spellbooks.

    If this is an overly cautious wizard or one who doesn't trust the party, they might prefer to scribe the scroll instead, mitigate the risk. But if they trust the party they can save themselves time and still make profit.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Easiest: A spell of equal or greater value from your spellbook, and, possibly, the cost of his ink.

    More complicated: I'd say that half the cost of a scroll is reasonable, though they will get more cagey with higher level spells. 1st and 2nd level? Yeah, that's probably OK. 6+? The cost for a scroll is likely to be the lowest price you get.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    I don't know if it matters to you, but in 3rd edition, this was explicitly addressed in the rulebooks.

    In most cases, wizards charge a fee for the privilege of copying spells from their spellbooks. This fee is usually equal to the spellís level ◊ 50 gp.


    Pathfinder 1e, which was heavily based on 3rd edition, went with this instead:

    In most cases, wizards charge a fee for the privilege of copying spells from their spellbooks. This fee is usually equal to half the cost to write the spell into a spellbook (see Writing a New Spell into a Spellbook). Rare and unique spells might cost significantly more.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by glitterbaby View Post
    As the title. Ignoring any costs involved with actually finding a wizard with the individual spells of interest, what might be a reasonable charge for this service? Some members of my group have pointed to the various Reasonable Prices for Magic Items projects that float around and say half the cost of buying a spell scroll, but I'm curious to see what y'all think.
    In Waterdeep: Dragon Heist has a shop whose owner, a mage, let people copy spells from his spellbook collection for the following price:

    25 gp: Comprehend languages, detect magic, feather fall, find familiar, mage armor, magic missile, shield, unseen servant

    75 gp: Arcane lock, continual flame, darkvision, invisibility, magic weapon, misty step, rope trick, suggestion

    150 gp: Clairvoyance, counterspell, dispel magic, fireball, fly, nondetection, water breathing

    300 gp: Arcane eye, fabricate, greater invisibility, ice storm, locate creature, polymorph

    750 gp: Bigby's hand, cone of cold, modify memory

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    Orc in the Playground
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Would most wizards trust the PC with their spellbook? The PC could easily steal or destroy the book, which is insanely important to the wizard.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    Would most wizards trust the PC with their spellbook? The PC could easily steal or destroy the book, which is insanely important to the wizard.
    This is my thought as well. Seems like something a wizard would only allow under unusual circumstances. Like being exiled and unable to access their wealth. Or as a reward for a unique service that only the adventures could provide.

    Unless of course this is backup copy for the wizard but even still I think a substantial deposit would be required.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by glitterbaby View Post
    As the title. Ignoring any costs involved with actually finding a wizard with the individual spells of interest, what might be a reasonable charge for this service? Some members of my group have pointed to the various Reasonable Prices for Magic Items projects that float around and say half the cost of buying a spell scroll, but I'm curious to see what y'all think.
    i don't think there is a single set answer. generally speaking what drives cost of a service or item is the cost it takes to perform that service or item. but the only way that applies to a wizard allowing people to copy from his book is that his spellbook is unavailable to him during that time. so like...the only cost of the service is the cost of inconveniencing the wizard in that way.

    and that cost is largely arbitrary. some wizards are gonna value it *way* higher than others. particularly stuffy wizards might not even bother making a deal with you at all if you're of a certain social status. whereas others might allow you to use their spellbook for the joy of your company. if the party is obviously in desperate need of this spell, a greedy (or at least financially minded) wizard might upcharge, becuase they can get away with it.

    that said, demand *could* play a bit of a role, i suppose. there's only one spell book, and only 1 *maybe* 2 can use it at a time, if they're copying the same spell. and copying a spell takes hours. so depending on how many people want this service that could significantly impact the price.

    overall....idk i'd say there's too many possible contexts to give one single price

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    Would most wizards trust the PC with their spellbook? The PC could easily steal or destroy the book, which is insanely important to the wizard.
    Have your apprentices make copies of the spells, so you have an extra spellbook, and they get transcription practice.

    Cover it in explosive runes that go off if it leaves a certain room.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    Would most wizards trust the PC with their spellbook? The PC could easily steal or destroy the book, which is insanely important to the wizard.
    The wizard don't have to propose his personal spellbook for this service, dead wizards' books work just as well.

    That being said, yeah, the wizard should have some reason to think letting the PC recopy the spell won't be bad for them (their trust can, of course, be misplaced regardless). Leaving aside how valuable a spellbook is, you don't want to teach Bigby's Hand and get your head Bigby's Handed into a wall, for example.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quoth Unoriginal:

    In Waterdeep: Dragon Heist has a shop whose owner, a mage, let people copy spells from his spellbook collection for the following price:
    IIRC, that same shop owner will also scribe you a scroll of any of those for twice that price.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    Would most wizards trust the PC with their spellbook? The PC could easily steal or destroy the book, which is insanely important to the wizard.
    A wizard worried about that probably has a backup.

    A wizard lacking the funds to have a backup has even more reasons to accept (above a minimum amount of trust in the PCs), since after all, they need the cash to create a backup. It's a risk, but a risk that if it goes well protects against a lot of future risks.

    But then, it also depends on who are the PCs. This wizard wanting to copy actually comes from a wizard's tradition, which comes from a social network of trust (a school or a master with a good reputation, etc). The group of PCs is usually either well-known, or working for peoples well-known. Etc.

    Assuming this is not the only case of mercantile interaction of the whole campaign, stealing the spellbook does seem a pretty bad plan that can backfire with negative consequences and rumours for the whole campaign. You probably want to steal it in a way it can't be traced back to you, or in the worst case kill the seller so that there is no witnesses.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    Would most wizards trust the PC with their spellbook? The PC could easily steal or destroy the book, which is insanely important to the wizard.
    Depends on the situation. A random wizard in their lone tower studying the arcane arts, effectively acting as a hermit? No, they wouldn't trust anyone.

    The Wizard working in a well known library that sells scrolls and casting services? Willing to bet they'd let the PC's look over their spell book, but only with their supervision and only for a price. After all, if the PCs screw them over, no more spell casting services or scrolls for the PCs, and they'll have the law on their side.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by GeoffWatson View Post
    Would most wizards trust the PC with their spellbook? The PC could easily steal or destroy the book, which is insanely important to the wizard.
    I'd imagine any wizard willing to sell spell knowledge would have separate books that only contain the spells they're willing to sell. Possibly even only one per book to avoid any chance of a customer copying more than they bargained for. I don't see any wizard letting their own personal spell book out of their own hand's.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    10gp-100gp times the spell level, depending on the "demand"(that is any kind of in-world rarity) for any given spell IMO. Stick with nice, east to multiply numbers, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, or more if necessary to keep your math down.
    Last edited by False God; 2023-06-21 at 12:46 PM.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    10gp-100gp times the spell level, depending on the "demand"(that is any kind of in-world rarity) for any given spell IMO. Stick with nice, east to multiply numbers, 10, 25, 50, 75, 100, or more if necessary to keep your math down.
    Also think about which spells they're willing to sell. A given caster may be perfectly willing to sell defensive spells but ones that do damage are off the table...just in case you become enemies later.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigreid View Post
    Also think about which spells they're willing to sell. A given caster may be perfectly willing to sell defensive spells but ones that do damage are off the table...just in case you become enemies later.
    This is also a great way to fill out towns and cities with mages who deal in specific types of spells, and are thus more likely to carry hard to find spells.

    And also "Bob's House of Boom! If it's a spell that makes something explode, we sell it!"

    Could also be an interesting way to introduce failure rates into spells, via a mis-copy, or a poorly written spell, to provide players with a cheaper option, but also a risk factor.

    "Crazy Ernie's Discount Spell Emporium! Because you'd have to be crazy to pass up these deals!"
    Last edited by False God; 2023-06-21 at 12:58 PM.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by False God View Post
    This is also a great way to fill out towns and cities with mages who deal in specific types of spells, and are thus more likely to carry hard to find spells.

    And also "Bob's House of Boom! If it's a spell that makes something explode, we sell it!"

    Could also be an interesting way to introduce failure rates into spells, via a mis-copy, or a poorly written spell, to provide players with a cheaper option, but also a risk factor.

    "Crazy Ernie's Discount Spell Emporium! Because you'd have to be crazy to pass up these deals!"
    There's also basic supply and demand. If there isn't a decent supply of potential customers, it's unlikely that there will be an established market.

    Also, the seller doesn't have to have any magical skill. That former fighter adventurer may have an old captured spell book they're using to get their ale money.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    It's pretty easy for a wizard to create single-spell "backup" spellbooks at a pretty low cost if selling spell knowledge is a thing they plan to do on anything remotely like a regular basis.

    There is no need for them to show their prospective customers their full spellbook, and I would say there are at least a few reasons that make it undesirable to do so (for example, it is much safer to risk someone stealing their backup copy of feather fall than it is to hand that same person their full spellbook with a bunch of powerful, rare, or possibly even unique spells in it, and I would also argue that while full-blown "everyone is out to get me" paranoia is not reasonable, there isn't any particular reason for a wizard to want to tell other people every single spell in their full spellbook).

    As such, I don't really see these NPC wizards as being people that should worry excessively about having to show people their spellbook. If they're not remarkably dumb, they should figure out the obvious solution within a few moments of having thought about the problem, *particularly* since the entire reason they might show someone else their spellbooks (ie so that person can scribe a spell from it) immediately points to the solution (to just scribe that spell into a spellbook).

    In any event, half the cost of a scroll sounds *mostly* reasonable (or the costs from dragon heist doesn't look too bad, though I might increase it a bit on the high end since I think AL kind of artificially limits the amount of gold you can get at higher levels). I would think availability of ritual spells would be higher, but also might have a higher cost, due to the fact that even non-wizards can potentially make use of ritual spells, and certainly other adjustments could be reasonable as appropriate (I mean, if spells are illegal to sell in a certain place, those spells are going to naturally have a much higher cost. In contrast, if you're in a city known for having dozens of magic academies, there could be so much competition that the cost of buying common spells is driven much lower... but rare spells might actually have a higher price because if you own the only copy you can be one of the few people who actually have something that your hundred competitors can't offer).

    I would also expect that trading spell knowledge is something that happens as well.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Whatever the market will bear.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by lall View Post
    Whatever the market will bear.
    Yes, but what will the market bear, in this case?

    While you can SAY that, the fact is, the actual market is "This PC". In theory, there's a bunch of other NPCs who are buying and selling spell knowledge, but it comes down to "How much do I want to charge this PC in this game that I am running", because the NPCs have arbitrary amounts of money, and arbitrary other ways to fill out their spellbook.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigreid View Post
    T
    Also, the seller doesn't have to have any magical skill. That former fighter adventurer may have an old captured spell book they're using to get their ale money.
    This is a clever idea, and a great way to change up the spell gathering mini game. Definitely going to use it at some point.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    I agree with the fact that most wizards wouldn't let you copy a spell from there spellbook, unless it was a coppy of there spell book..... as many wizards have coppies or even carry them.

    Some mages might even keep coppies of there spell books (missing some spells) for people to copy out of.... or just a collection of scrolls to be scribed.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by Azraile View Post
    I agree with the fact that most wizards wouldn't let you copy a spell from there spellbook, unless it was a coppy of there spell book..... as many wizards have coppies or even carry them.

    Some mages might even keep coppies of there spell books (missing some spells) for people to copy out of.... or just a collection of scrolls to be scribed.
    Given the importance of spells to wizards, a backup of their spellbook should be the first priority when you can afford to make one. Bad things happen.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by LibraryOgre View Post
    Yes, but what will the market bear, in this case?

    While you can SAY that, the fact is, the actual market is "This PC". In theory, there's a bunch of other NPCs who are buying and selling spell knowledge, but it comes down to "How much do I want to charge this PC in this game that I am running", because the NPCs have arbitrary amounts of money, and arbitrary other ways to fill out their spellbook.
    I think you've already answered it. There's an arbitrary amount of money out there to justify any price. So it basically just boils down to... arbitration.

    If you want the players to be able to get the spell right away, its price is "some fraction of your current wealth."

    If you don't want the players to be able to get the spell, but could live with them getting it anyway, its price is "every penny you own."

    If you want the players to be able to get the spell, but only after a quest, its price is "more than you can afford."




    5e doesn't really offer the groundwork necessary to estimate market forces, economy, etc. If you must have a simulationist estimation of what a wizard might charge for spell copying, sum all of these relevant factors:

    Hourly Rate: Might be 0.25 gold for an apprentice wizard (based on skilled hireling costs), 1.25 gold for a court wizard (based on aristocratic lifestyle expenses), or even higher.
    Security: 50 gold for a blank burner spellbook, plus 10 gold per spell level to copy the spell(s) in question into said spellbook, plus <Hourly Rate> gold per spell level.
    Scarcity: Similar to R&D costs. A common spell might not warrant a significant surcharge; a unique or illegal spell might demand a huge charge. The maximum would generally be about what it would cost to buy the equivalent Spell Scroll on the black market.
    Margin: Very cheap services might be as low as 30%, but this sort of thing is typically high-margin. Start at 100%, then go higher if the wizard is important and/or busy.

    As an example, if you're asking to copy Fireball from the court wizard, that's going to require (50 + 10x3 + 1.25x3) x 2 = 167.5 gold (round to 175 gold) at the minimum. If the Fireball is illegal or too dangerous to sell to just anyone, the Scarcity component would be perhaps 550 gold, so that brings the total to (50 + 10x3 + 1.25x3 + 550) x 2 = 1267.5 gold (round to 1250 gold).

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    I don't think they would. If they did, I think it would be more than the cost to buy the scroll. The wizard assumes a lot of risk by making their spell book available.

    I think this would be something only an ally would do, and then they would likely wave the cost.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by Demonslayer666 View Post
    The wizard assumes a lot of risk by making their spell book available.
    Peoples keep saying that, but I don't really see how the risk is significantly higher than just "hanging out for multiple hours with the team of PCs" or "sleeping in the same tavern as the PCs".

    You're probably not doing it in the middle of nowhere where no one will find your dead body if they rob you and kill you, but in that situation "not making your spell book available" is kind of a side-effect of "not wanting to be nearby heavily armed strangers for any longer than necessary". You probably don't want to share dinner either.

    I can see how NPCs would just fear for their life in presence of the PCs, and try to hide any sign that they might have anything of value on them, which would imply the wizard hiding the fact that they are a wizard. But if you manage to pass that barrier by reaching a "friendly conversation where trading would be an option", you're probably in a situation where something is guaranteeing that no one will backstab the other (law enforcement, good alignment, reputation, etc).

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by MoiMagnus View Post
    Peoples keep saying that, but I don't really see how the risk is significantly higher than just "hanging out for multiple hours with the team of PCs" or "sleeping in the same tavern as the PCs".

    You're probably not doing it in the middle of nowhere where no one will find your dead body if they rob you and kill you, but in that situation "not making your spell book available" is kind of a side-effect of "not wanting to be nearby heavily armed strangers for any longer than necessary". You probably don't want to share dinner either.

    I can see how NPCs would just fear for their life in presence of the PCs, and try to hide any sign that they might have anything of value on them, which would imply the wizard hiding the fact that they are a wizard. But if you manage to pass that barrier by reaching a "friendly conversation where trading would be an option", you're probably in a situation where something is guaranteeing that no one will backstab the other (law enforcement, good alignment, reputation, etc).
    I wouldn't expect this service available on any scale outside a fairly major settlement/city. The only wizard in that remote village? He's got neither the market nor the time to bother with the spell selling business.
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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigreid View Post
    There's also basic supply and demand. If there isn't a decent supply of potential customers, it's unlikely that there will be an established market.
    In other words mages can theoretically charge out of the nose in settings where they're rare. So pay up bucko, because do you think you're finding this spell anywhere else.

    In settings where magic is outright illegal (rare these days, but definitely still a thing) it could be even harder to find a seller who'll charge even more for it. Which is arguably closer to how 5e wizards are meant to be played (with their 2 spells per level and a handful of extras they get as 'treasure'), but that's a bit less fun for wizard players. The real solution there is probably decent rules for researching and developing (existing) spells on your own less efficient than having a tutor but still within expected downtime and discretionary treasure. That still causes issues in settings like Midnight (where 'run out of town for bringing down the wrath of the legates' is a viable adventure reward), but outlier settings will need special solutions anyway.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

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    Default Re: What's a reasonable cost for a Wizard to charge for copying from their spellbook?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    In other words mages can theoretically charge out of the nose in settings where they're rare. So pay up bucko, because do you think you're finding this spell anywhere else.

    In settings where magic is outright illegal (rare these days, but definitely still a thing) it could be even harder to find a seller who'll charge even more for it. Which is arguably closer to how 5e wizards are meant to be played (with their 2 spells per level and a handful of extras they get as 'treasure'), but that's a bit less fun for wizard players. The real solution there is probably decent rules for researching and developing (existing) spells on your own less efficient than having a tutor but still within expected downtime and discretionary treasure. That still causes issues in settings like Midnight (where 'run out of town for bringing down the wrath of the legates' is a viable adventure reward), but outlier settings will need special solutions anyway.
    In some settings the spell trade may be under the control of guilds. That would also cut down on dodgy customers as you can't really afford to tick off the guild.

    My wizards tend to actively hunt other wizards for their spellbooks...
    I am the flush of excitement. The blush on the cheek. I am the Rouge!

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