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As we all know the wizard is a physically weak class that relies on his spells to perform in his adventures. Other than the spells gained at each level-up however he needs to spend 32 hours learning and scribing a single spell in his spellbook for future preparation and casting.

My particular problem is the lack of downtime needed to do the above in my campaign. Our characters have only rested less than a week over the last 2 levels and the DM has the tendency to throw main/side quest hooks at our party within a few days of us arriving and resting in any town (quite often small ones too, which makes finding spells quite time-consuming on its own).

Considering a level 5 +2 LA drow wizard with very scarce access to higher level scrolls and about 8.000gp available, in what ways can I learn new spells in a more time-efficient manner (or obtain the time needed to master/scribe them independently from my group's time progression)? Choices that can be made available in the future with sufficient in-game resources will be appreciated too.

I am already aware of the following options:

  • Elven Generalist Taken
  • Collegiate Wizard feat Not Available (due to PrC requirements)
  • Eidetic Spellcaster ACF from Dragon Mag. Not Available

Note: I do have in mind that talking to my DM would probably be the most direct approach however I happen to know that he wouldn't be very keen on helping with this issue and would rather reserve that as my last option. He has said that 1) none of the other party members and casters require downtime so he wants to keep the action going and 2) he considers wizards a dangerous class that unless controlled and restricted massively has the potential to ruin a campaign and game balance. I consider the former a bad excuse while the latter requires a level of abuse I do not aim for. I simply want my drow wizard with 21 hp to do more than struggle to not be a burden for the group.

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How does it not keep the action going to say "Three days later, the wizard has his new spell and the plot hook happens" as opposed to "The next morning, the plot hook happens"? –  Yamikuronue Dec 17 '12 at 16:28
@Yamikuronue Because if I do stay inside doing nothing but writing spells the rest of the party will try to find other things to do, possibly resulting in shenanigans and retarded/boring RP. The DM will then refrain from giving them side-quests in order to not cause an exp. gap... To conclude, I have a feeling he is trying to avoid giving us too much nothing-to-do-time. –  Eldebryn Dec 17 '12 at 17:46
@JohnAthanasiou Are you playing out the spell scribing? I'm confused as to how the party members are sitting around doing nothing instead of just skipping past the boring bits to the next interesting part. I play a similar type of character in a different system, and we tend to just literally start a session with "After two days, Erika has her new item crafted and you guys are ready to go break into the museum." There's no downtime for people to get squirrelly during. –  Yamikuronue Dec 17 '12 at 19:11
Related: rpg.stackexchange.com/questions/11748/… –  mxyzplk Dec 18 '12 at 3:43
@Yamikuronue I've seen this before. GM says "It takes Bob three days to scribe his spell, and then a strange visi --" "Wait, hold on, I want to do X and Y and Z if I've got three days free!" –  Jim Kiley Dec 18 '12 at 21:31
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4 Answers

The best answer is to come to an agreement with the DM. While there are avenues you might pursue to mitigate what he’s doing, getting into an arms race is a losing proposition and isn’t any fun. Explain that you are aware that the Wizard class is phenomenally powerful, but that you have no interest or intent on breaking his game. Point out how you’ve already taken an almost-crippling LA +2 race, which is clearly not an optimal option: you have already shown dedication to making the game about more than just becoming as powerful as possible.

If that fails, I’d very seriously consider leaving the group. Not because the Wizard is unplayable like that – you can remain pretty powerful on your automatic 2 spells per level – but because that’s a sign that your DM is unwilling to trust you, and that’s a really bad sign.

Otherwise, Pulsehead and Jacob’s answers are good. Even if your DM gives you a little time, you may need to take advantage of them.

If things get very bad, but you don’t want to leave, you do have another option: have your Wizard refuse to go on the next inane little side-quest, so that he can stay home and finish scribing that spell. This should state very clearly to your DM that you do not appreciate what he is doing, and that you are not going to accept it. Obviously, if your character stays home, you’re not getting to play: you are telling the DM that you would rather not play than continue to play as you have been. This is, hopefully obviously, a measure of last resort.

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+1 I would also seriously consider leaving the group if the talk doesn't work. DMs who assume people will 'cheat' or overpower the game, as it were, tend to assume that people are doing that. And such a crippling constraint is merely another problem, not a solution –  LitheOhm Dec 17 '12 at 19:41
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From the SRD:

Spells Gained at a New Level

Wizards perform a certain amount of spell research between adventures. Each time a character attains a new wizard level, she gains two spells of her choice to add to her spellbook. The two free spells must be of spell levels she can cast. If she has chosen to specialize in a school of magic, one of the two free spells must be from her specialty school.

Since you are specifically asking about leveling up, here's your answer. You level up, and pick 2 spells to write into your book that you want. Based on my read, it's a "free action" since you have been doing experiments between adventures in dribs and drabs all during your previous level of experience.

However, your question also is very close to "I have this nifty scroll, how can I get the time to write it into my spellbook?"

My answer? Get DM Buy-in first. Then realize the SRD does not say specifically that the 24 hours be uninterrupted time. Maybe when your party arrives in town, the rogue goes to work the tavern for rumors, the fighter takes any gear that needs repairs to the smithy, and the cleric patches up any characters who are hurting. However, the Wizard need not head down to the pub, the Wizard could logically stay in the room working on writing the spell(s) down into his spellbook. It may take 2 weeks worth of evenings, but as long as you and the DM agree that this is doable then you will get the spells eventually. If the DM does not agree, you should ask him (outside of game) when you are supposed to copy spells into your spellbook since the plot moves too fast. Likely the DM doesn't realize that you need a day or two every town just to write spells into the book and can easily be covered with "Fighter goes to the blacksmith, and it will take 3 days to get the items back, Rogue is working the crowds in the pub, and Wizard is being his book-nerd self" bam, fast forward 3 days, the rogue has the rumors, the fighter has fixed gear, and you have spells written in your book.

EDIT: Unfortunately, I don't think you will be able to proceed much further without discussing this with the DM. If the DM wants you to be churning so much on quest/side quest so much that you can't write spells, there should either be a reason (which he can confirm directly that a reason exists, if not the whole reason), or he is not realizing that if you can't write spells into your spellbook, you are losing power relative to the rest of the party. Either which way, the easiest path is talking with the DM, but the slightly harder path is to just declare every opportunity you get that you are working on scribing the scroll/spell into your spellbook and will work until X event ("I'm scribing until dinner, I'll scribe after dinner until bedtime, and tonight on my watch, I'll scribe some then too").

EDIT2: I totally spaced on the 24 consecutive hours part. The craft/profession rules have limited the productive time to 8 hours per day. What I should have said was the 24 hours need not be: 8 hours today, 8 tomorrow, and finally 8 the third day until the 24 hour requirement is satisfied. Hopefully the DM will allow a few hours here or there as necessary to get the job done.

EDIT 3: One final option if you don't want to go to the DM is to recognize when a side-quest is available and knowingly sit it out because your character is scribing. The downside of this is that you will start to fall behind the rest of the party. To put some example numbers to illustrate my point, if the whole party is 10th level, you will be a 9th level wizard with the spells consistent with a 9th level wizard, or under the current structure you will be a 10th level wizard with the spells of a 6th (or lower) level wizard. I would personally prefer the 9/9 wizard instead of the 10/6 wizard.

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I didn't mention the 2/spells per level because I found it too obvious. However the rest is very helpful. I have the impression the "24 consecutive hours" thing is house-ruled but will check again. –  Eldebryn Dec 17 '12 at 17:50
+1 for squeezing time in where possible. Also for mentioning the nerfed balance for the DM undermining the wizard. –  LitheOhm Dec 17 '12 at 19:46
@JohnAthanasiou, I've always looked at the 2 spells per level thing as a freebie since there is the assumption (in the SRD as well) that between adventures, you are experimenting and your spellbook is both the list of "complete, correct magical formulae" as well as "lab notebook". You don't need the 24 hours because as you've experiemnted you have ALREADY put in the 24 hours. –  Pulsehead Dec 17 '12 at 20:28
And another point - if the freebies are because the hours have been put in in bits and pieces, then this proves that time CAN be put in in bits and pieces... so the "24 consecutive hours" thing shouldn't even be a discussion. –  Ryno Dec 19 '12 at 20:18
@Ryno, I'll have to disagree with that simply because if I'm puzzling out how to shape a spell, I'm building my knowledge gradually, it can be argued that if I read a scroll with read-magic, I need to copy it before my ability to recall it goes hazy. However, 24 consecutive hours is unrealistic. Maybe the details start to fail you after a week of reading the scroll so you need to get those 24 hours in before that happens? –  Pulsehead Dec 19 '12 at 23:40
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Pulsehead's answer is good: every "town" day has hidden downtime by nature. Just because the action/story is non-stop doesn't mean that you're busy every hour of the day.

I'll just add that the same goes for "out-of-town" days. Frankly, most parties tend to plan adventure time around the casters. Once the wizard and cleric start getting low on spells, it's time to start looking for a defensible position to hole-up in until they get their spells back. If the action is even medium or so, that point comes after only a few hours, all-told. So you spend sixish hours fighting the good fight (that's medium to low level intensity, really), that means you have another 16ish hours left before the cleric gets her next boost and only 8 of those hours are you resting. That leaves you another 8 hours to do what you need to for your spell maintenance.

Even on days with all travel gives you options. Leave setting up camp and meal prep to the peons, you have some serious business to attend to. There's an hour or two every day applied to spell transcribing. Having extra spells is an advantage to you, sure, but really it's an advantage to the whole party. You having extra options directly benefits them later on down the road, so getting their buy in shouldn't be too hard. Plus, that gives good RP opportunities for them to rib the bookworm. Plus, if it's a true travel day, it isn't like you even need 8 hours of sleep to regenerate your spells—you haven't used them up, so they'll still be there for the next day.

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+1 for find time and squeeze it in where you get it. That really sounds more realistic to me. Though - not sure I follow the lack of requirement on eight hours of sleep as more than spell preparation falls in there. Otherwise a good answer –  LitheOhm Dec 17 '12 at 19:44
For wizards, 8 hours is needed primarily for spell prep. You're right, though, that you can run into other issues if you short rest time. –  Jacob Proffitt Dec 17 '12 at 22:17
Correct on the rest requirement, but spell preparation time takes more... This link might be useful in your answer, too. d20srd.org/srd/magicOverview/… –  LitheOhm Dec 18 '12 at 1:05
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I've had this problem before; wanting to follow the rules when the DM is undermining your mage character.

I don't want to say the solution is neglecting the rules just the same as the DM but I will say something more about playing mages (sorcerers, wizards, etc) that should help 'Be assertive!' Like the others suggested, take the obvious down time amongst quests, but always say,'this IS what I'm doing', and if others interrupt just say 'hang on, let me finish'

I get the feeling this is less about the rules and requirements of the wizard and more about your DM and how to deal with his hate/dislike of Mages. The scribing of the spell can be done over a few sessions, but consecutive means to follow continuously, unbroken or in logical sequence and not non stop, right away or now. It makes sense though that you can't decide to switch writing spells part way through and then expect not to lose the progress.

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