Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Paying Dues - Magic-Users

[continued from here]

Monday, I decided it was time to teach my son how to play D&D. I offered him a choice between Holmes Basic and B/X and he decided on Ye Olde Moldvay. Here is a picture of his character sheet:

The writing is mine, other than the name (yes, he decided to name the character after himself). The picture is his (in case folks are wondering, he has a small pet monkey perched on his shoulder...a request from my son, that I allowed him to purchase for 10 gold pieces). All equipment (including a normal dagger...the silver one was "too expensive") is written on the back.

The choice of magic-user was based on his ability scores (3D6, rolled in order), intelligence being his best stat. His choice of spell (magic missile) was based on my brief description of the magic system and each available 1st level spell. This was to be B/X strictly "by the book;" with the only exception being that I allowed him maximum hit points at level one. I opened my book to The Haunted Keep scenario in the book, explained the background and started the game with Diego the Mage (and Meme the Monkey) outside the door to the east tower, where the goblins' tracks had led.

"I blast the door with my magic missile."

I explained (again) that his spell could only be used once per day, and that was really intended for combat. I also explained to him that the tower was fairly dilapidated and the wooden door was rotten and hanging by one rusty hinge...easily opened without the aid of magic. Would he prefer to save his spell? Yes, of course.

He entered the tower and avoided the pit trap (thanks to his 10' pole). After exploring the pit with his rope, he proceeded through the interior door, finding himself in a hallway with doors to both the left and right.

"I blast the right-hand door with my magic missile."

I should point out that my son only just turned five (last month). His relationship with doors are not the same as an adult, nor even an older child. There are many doors he's not allowed to pass through without permission. Doors that are stuck or locked can easily confound him (especially if the key hole is higher than he can reach unaided, as with our exterior door). And, of course, he has no preconceived notions of how the D&D game is "supposed" to be played...I'm trying to NOT instill any of my "gaming sensibilities" into him, wanting him to formulate his own ideas, come to his own conclusions. In the past, I've taken this tactic with "newbie" role-players and found the results surprisingly excellent.

However, here I was running up against the confounding limitation imposed by the D&D system...that ridiculous model that requires characters to "pay their dues," playing multiple sessions of ineffectuality (is that a word?) before becoming even mildly proficient.

Mmm...let me back up a moment. It's not really the model that's "ridiculous." A fantasy character beginning her adventuring career can be expected to be a bit wet behind the ears, and should also be expected (with time and experience) to become more proficient and effective. To me, that's what the whole level thing models...1st level characters are new to the career while a 9th ("name") level adventurer should be pretty darn proficient...near the top of her game, really. At least, that's kind of the implication of making a "name" for oneself, no?

[of course, I realize that's not actually the case. Character hit dice peak at level 9 and most "endgame" options are opened for B/X characters at this level. However, magic-users don't gain their full abilities (spell-wise or endgame) till 11th level, fighters gain even greater attack abilities at levels 10 and 13, while thieve abilities don't start hitting the 90s till levels 11 and 12. In the end, the only thing reaching "name" level actually ensures is the end of new level titles for your character]

But a 1st level magic-user shouldn't even be let out of the tower. Compare such an entity to, say, the children in those Harry Potter novels (and please allow me to say for the record that I dislike a LOT about J.K. Rowling's wizarding world, both as a setting, as a magic cosmology, and even as children's literature. Sorry, J.K.). Look at the newbie wizard, Skeeve, from Robert Aspirin's humorous Myth books. While clearly "apprentice level" youngsters, their abilities utterly dwarf that of a beginning magic-user in B/X...or most Old School editions of D&D.

More powerful than your seer.
This is not a new bitch for Yours Truly, by the way. This post is a pretty good example of my standard gripes. But while I've come to accept (or, rather, re-accept) "Vancian" magic (in light of its injection of a distinct play style...not to mention ease of implementation), I quite simply hate the way it scales. One more time: it's too weak at the low levels; too much at the high levels.

Yes, too much. 30-40 spells...hell, 20 simply too many for a single session of game play, in my opinion. Consider a typical session: you can expect perhaps 4 to 7 encounters in an evening of B/X play; my sessions average about six, probably four of which have some sort of combat component or potential (interactions with "monsters," in other words). Should magic-users be able to cast a spell every round? Or should there be some threat of "running low," prompting them to husband their resources? To me, 10-12 spells in a game session feels about optimal (2 or 3 per encounter, with another 2 to 3 used outside of combat), with something like 15-18 spells being the maximum (for the highest level characters) for a single game session...though even that feels pretty darn high to me.

Note, I'm talking about the number of spells being cast, not necessarily the number of spells known. I think it would be fair (and sticking with the strategist play style paradigm) to allow a magic-user to actually know more spells than they can cast (that's an AD&D concept, by the way, not B/X). On the low end (for the newbie adventurers), I'd think four or five spells cast would be about right, maybe as low as three for a truly deficient wizard. The problem is, how can you scale that over X number of levels?

Doesn't that dude with the pointy hat look capable of more than one spell?

[in writing this, I am reminded of the Dungeon! board game. In the 1975 edition, wizards received 7 spells to start (each spell being represented by a card that was discarded when cast), but could opt for an additional +D6 spells by choosing to forgo the use of magic swords during the game]

Because THIS is the main "carrot" for the magic-user. M-U players are not expecting to gain much in the realm of combat ability (HPs/attack bonus), but they are expecting to become more proficient in their craft. More spells known, more spells cast, and more powerful spells. Certainly, these things are best linked to level (the more proficient the adventurer, the more powerful the magic)...I'm just not sure they need to be linked in the specific fashion they are.

This is about to go off the B/X grid. Ah, well...just call it a 'thought exercise.'

I suppose the easiest thing thing would be to link spell-casting to hit points. Spells would be given a power rank (say, from 1 to 3) and each spell cast would drain a number of hit points from the caster. I did something similar to this in Cry Dark Future in order to model Shadowrun's "mana burn" system, and it worked pretty good...but then even a 1st level spell-caster in CDF/SR can fall back on an automatic weapon when they're running low on spell juice.

[I say this would be "the easiest thing," though one could certainly fall back on the CHAINMAIL I did in Five Ancient Kingdoms...of requiring a dice roll to effectively cast a spell, with higher level characters having a better chance of casting effect, making the magic system more-or-less the same as combat. But here I'm trying to preserve the asymmetry of the class and magic system, even if I'm otherwise changing it]

*ahem* The note here is that unlike a traditional "spell point" system (Palladium, as an example) you're only tracking a single resource: your character's health. Plus it measures the effects of pain and suffering as a distraction without the need for "concentration" checks and such. Also, it models that hoary staple of fantasy literature where the mage sells her life to get off "one final spell." I dig all that.

So then, what effect would leveling up have on your character's magical might? Other than increasing your hit points, of course. Well, you'd need gain additional spell knowledge (more arrows for your quiver)...perhaps one or two spells per level...and might increase the power rank of spells that could be learned. With such a system, I'd probably try something like:

1 point spells at 1st level
2 point spells available at 4th level
3 point spells available at 7th level

With 1 pointers being the equivalent of 1st and 2nd level spells, 2 pointers being the equivalent of 3rd and 4th level, and 3 pointers being 5th and 6th level spells.

Alternatively, you could keep the standard rate of spell level gained (2nd level spells at 3rd, 3rd level spells at 5th, 4th level spells at 7th level, etc.)...but I'm not sure that's really necessary. After all, B/X fighters don't learn more weapon and armor types as they level up, and thieves are likewise stuck with the same skills at 1st level as 10th (yes, they get the ability to read languages and magic..but magic-users gain the ability to enchant items and brew potions; it's a wash). Allow each character to start with a number of spells determined by their intelligence...say six for average INT and add the standard B/X modifier of plus/minus one to three.

That gives a range of three to nine to begin and, on second thought, I'd probably limit the number of spells gained to one per level. However, magic-users could attempt to "master" any spell scrolls found (adding the spells to their repertoire) or spend hard earned treasure on additional spell research to increase their knowledge. That's a win-win in my book: players have a good reason to spend gold and it gives me an alternative use for spell scrolls (since they won't function the same under this system as they do in the Vancian universe).

I do want magic-users to pay some dues, after all...I just don't think their dues need to be as high as they are in the default B/X system.

[as always, feedback and disagreement is welcome]


  1. Why not have casting a spell inflict subdual damage on a caster? Once their subdual damage is greater than their remaining HP, they can't cast any more spells. Well, they can, but they immediately pass out from fatigue if they cast a spell when doing so.

    That gives them the last-gasp spell that completely exhausts them, is easy to track, and allows for multiple spells to be cast.

    You may consider using scrolls to deliver the same amount of damage. That way even low level magic-users would have to think twice before using a scroll to cast a fifth level spell written on a scroll.

    Consider the math. You hit level 9 and can now cast 5th level spells. You've got, on average, about 10 hit points. You can cast two of those fifth level spells, but even a magic missile at that point ends your day. Or you could cast ten magic missiles. That's flexible, scales well, and isn't overpowering.

    1. I tried to use "physical" and "subdual" damage in was fairly messy. In the end, I simply chucked the term and added the caveat that mana damage...even if such drops a PC to 0 hit points...cannot cause death except in specific, extreme circumstances.

      Um...not sure about your math here. The average B/X magic-user will (on average) have more than 10 hit points at 9th level.

  2. Whoops - should have pointed out that you take one HP subdual damage for every level of spell cast. A 1st level magic-user with max HP can cast 4 spells...if he doesn't take any normal damage in the interim.

    1. @ Warren:

      It actually scales better with a limit of 1-3 damage per spell.

  3. I'm not convinced the MU is fixable with only minor tweaks. As I believe you said in an ancient post they should always be able to do something magical and not resort to the bandolier of throwing daggers.

    I've been toying with some or indeed all of the following:

    Improvements at low levels:

    - Unlimited minor magic, i.e. "Prestigitation" from other versions of D&D.
    - Unlimited "Magic Dart" doing d3/d4 damage using INT for to-hit and damage bonus.
    - +2 AC (and improved Saving Throws?) to account for magic defences.
    - Detect magic (touched item), Read magic and Identify "skills" based on INT check or a saving throw.
    - Some sort of counter spell ability based on a saving throw with a bonus if the MU knows the spell.
    - Maybe a bonus 1st level spell for 15+ INT.

    Limits to exponential growth at high levels:

    - Normal spell progression but capped at 3 spell slots per level.
    - Spells whose capabilities are fixed; a Fireball does 5d6 irrespective of the caster level, or spells whose capabilities only scale up if cast using a higher level slot.

    And finally I'd reduce their THACO to 20 at level 1.

    The downside, other than people saying "this isn't D&D anymore" is that the other classes then need ramping up a little at 1st level, except perhaps the Cleric which when I last played seemed like an uber-class being almost as good as a Fighter + spells + turn undead + quicker level advancement. At the very least improving the Fighter's THACO to 18 at level 1 so they are always indisputably the better fighters.

    I'll shut up now since it seems like I'm hijacking this with an unsolicited description of "D&D Mine" ;-)

    1. @ Thomas:

      No, no...this is the kind of feedback I'm looking for.
      ; )

      While I pretty much hate the "magic dart" concept (and am none-too-keen on "magic armor"), your other suggested bonuses are all things I've tried to incorporate in the past (see 5AK).

      I'd be curious how you scale the spell progression...feels like it would still be too low at the early levels.

      B/X (and 0E) clerics are far less "über" than in other editions, just BTW.

    2. Part 1:

      > No, no...this is the kind of feedback I'm looking for.

      Then you've only got yourself to blame for the length of this reply ;-)

      > While I pretty much hate the "magic dart" concept

      I agree "Magic dart" is a lame name, but having been initially resistant I'm warming to the concept. In my experience D&D is a game about the following in order of importance: killing things and rifling through their orifices for loose change, exploration, bickering (aka role-playing) and resource management. As written the low-level MU player doesn't really get to participate in the killing beyond dropping the "Sleep" bomb; excluding bandoliers of daggers or darts they don't really have the option to bounce a d20 every round and bouncing dice is (a) fun and (b) important for engagement*. The "Magic dart" ensures the MU always has something magical to do in a fight and represents the baleful influence the MU has on a combat; measured as usual in loss of hp. Whether it is magical darts fired from Harry Potter's wand, (un)holy searing light from Gandalf's staff, the Witch's "evil eye" or the disconcerting effects of the mad cultist's "Dread Curse of Azathoth" is just colour you can hope the player applies. Of course you could argue that this is what later versions of D&D have done and it's destroyed the asymmetry between Fighter and MU that some players enjoy; it may have been you that recently said that 4th Edition achieved balance by changing all characters into Fighter/Magic-Users?

      > (and am none-too-keen on "magic armor")

      You are probably correct, this may be best handled by providing a good low level defensive spell with a duration of at least an encounter and possibly as much as an hour. Perhaps you need a "Wrath of the Istari" spell that provides an MU with -1 AC, +1 to-hit/damage, +d4 temporary hit-points (all scaled per level of spell slot used) to allow Gandalf to go toe-to-toe with the Balrog ... plus a GM who allows MUs to use swords ;-)

      > your other suggested bonuses are all things I've tried to incorporate in the past (see 5AK).

      Yep, and I probably absorbed them from there. It looks like a nice game, but we've never actually played it because it's not quite close enough to D&D when nostalgia rears its head and everyone decides they want to play D&D. We have used material from "The Complete B/X Adventurer" though.

      > I'd be curious how you scale the spell progression...

      One of the following depending on whether you think the MU should have one or two non at-will spells at first level. Spell levels are across the top and caster levels down the side.

      Level | 1 2 3 4 5 6
      1 | 2
      2 | 3
      3 | 3 1
      4 | 3 2
      5 | 3 2 1
      6 | 3 3 2
      7 | 3 3 2 1
      8 | 3 3 3 2
      9 | 3 3 3 2 1
      10 | 3 3 3 3 2
      11 | 3 3 3 3 2 1
      12 | 3 3 3 3 3 2
      13 | 3 3 3 3 3 3

      Level | 1 2 3 4 5 6
      1 | 1
      2 | 2
      3 | 2 1
      4 | 2 2
      5 | 3 2 1
      6 | 3 2 2
      7 | 3 3 2 1
      8 | 3 3 2 2
      9 | 3 3 3 2 1
      10 | 3 3 3 2 2
      11 | 3 3 3 3 2 1
      12 | 3 3 3 3 2 2
      13 | 3 3 3 3 3 2

    3. Part 2:

      > feels like it would still be too low at the early levels.

      If you give them many more spells then I'm not sure it's D&D, and no matter how many spells you give them they will eventually run out and have "nothing to do". With their at-will "Prestigitation" and "Magic Dart" I think one or two "real" spells at 1st level is probably enough.

      So as to encourage use of non-combat spells I'd also consider allowing the MU to cast any spell from a limited repetoir rather than requiring them to learn and cast a specific spell. I know you've suggested something similar for Cleric's. Perhaps for MUs for each level that repetoir would be a number of spells equals to their spell slots for that level + INT bonus? They could have more spells in their books but would require study to swap them into their repetoir. This is not an original idea ;-)

      > B/X (and 0E) clerics are far less "über" than in other editions, just BTW.

      I think in our most recent game (barring the 1st Edition AD&D we've just started) we started with Labyrinth Lord before I started heavily house-ruling. So the cleric had a 1st level spell and turn undead and good armour and was played by my friend for whom the Goddess of Luck seems to have a special place. Let's just say he outshone the other PCs, especially the player of the poor MU who managed to endure to 4th level before being mangled, replace by a short-lived Tatoo Mage before finally settling upon an Ogre-Kin that kicked butt.

      * (somewhere up there was a footnote) I wrote about the importance of bouncing dice and put this into practice in my last D&D game by replacing monster attack rolls with player defence rolls and was working on doing the same for monster spell saves when the campaign went on hiatus. The GM would then never roll attacks or saves for monsters and the players got to bounce more dice. Worked out well, though I don't know if it was D&D. I even thought it was an original idea until I got hold of Numenera.

      Oh, and finally, I think if consulted, the spirit of EGG he would say that MUs played by children under the age of 10 can blast doors with a 1-2 on a d6 (modified by INT) ;-)

  4. This is the reason Pathfinder and Fifth (and many others) introduced at-will zeroth level spells. Allows the wizard to pewew all day. Acid splash probably does wonders to pesky doors.

    1. @ Levi:

      Um...yes. As I acknowledged to another commenter (on G+) the "fix" I often see is the giving of additional cantrip magic to low-level magicians. This doesn't really address the scaling issues at the high end, however.

      "At will" magic is perhaps a little too magical for my taste.

    2. Why does it need to be "at will"? Cantrips could be used, for example, a number of times per day equal to Int. That gives the average MU 13 to 18 cantrips per day. Plenty enough to use blasting a few doors open, but not enough that they won't run out if they're not careful.

      And I'm thinking this is total cantrip use. If they blast a door open, one cantrip down. If they then make a ghost sound, two cantrips down. If they convince the evil overlord's troops that "these are not the druids you are looking for" with a wave of their hand, then they've used up three.

    3. @ Dennis:

      13-18 cantrips (in addition to other spells) is still "a little too much" for my taste.

    4. Fair enough. Just a sggestion on how to limit cantrips but still allow a more (minor) magic solution to problems.

      5 +/- Int modifier? Gives 2 to 8 per day.

      Also, what sorts of cantrips you allow would make a difference.

    5. Fair enough. Just a sggestion on how to limit cantrips but still allow a more (minor) magic solution to problems.

      5 +/- Int modifier? Gives 2 to 8 per day.

      Also, what sorts of cantrips you allow would make a difference.

  5. If you're going to give M-U's more spells at lower levels and fewer spells at higher ones, you should go the AD&D route and nerf lower-level spells, tying their parameters to the caster level

    Personally, I'm not a fan of that approach. It makes magic feel less, well, magical. I guess you could just beef up the other classes (won't fix the high-end, but people are always going on about quadratic wizards anyways), but at that point you have to ask yourself why you aren't just starting at a higher level

    1. Excuse me if I'm tramping on the etiquette (i.e. JB should get to answer first) but I think tying spell parameters to caster level is one of the causes of the quadratic wizard problem:

      - MUs get more spells as they go up levels.
      - Their existing spells get more powerful.
      - Their advancement doesn't slow down at name level like the Fighter.

      I'm not sure AD&D fixed anything by nerfing lower-level spells and arguably they didn't properly nerf the one that's really a problem if you hand out more 1st level spells - the "Sleep" bomb.

    2. @ Prof Oats:

      Were low-level spells in AD&D "nerfed?" I don't get that impression.

      However (and I think I'm with BOTH you and Thomas on this), I'm not inclined to tie spell parameters to caster level UNLESS there's a single set spell list given at 1st level that doesn't change (for example, all casters have a "summoning" spell, a "blasting" spell, a "healing" spell, etc. and they all scale with level).

      Even with 5AK, I only had a small number of spells that were "level dependent" for effect (telekinesis, conjure demon, necromancy, shape change, and power word). I prefer the archaic "static spells" and in the future will probably make ALL spell effects independent of caster level.

    3. Never claimed AD&D fixed anything by doing that. I much prefer the more static parameters of OD&D

      Remember, M-Us would be getting far fewer spells at higher levels, and there's no reason JB couldn't cap spells at around 6th-level (which I believe he's doing)

    4. @ Prof Oats:

      6th-level under this concept. 5th-level in a different one I'm working.
      ; )

    5. @ Prof Oats:

      My mistake, I didn't read your post carefully enough and thought you were promoting AD&D's approach.

  6. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. @ graham:

      Yeah, I'm going to address this kind of thing in my next post.

  7. I don't know if this has been suggested, but you could let a M-U cast an extra number of spells equal to his INT adj. This would be spread out across the width of his knowledge. So a 5th level MU with an 18 INT might put all three extra spells in 1st level spells, or split them up (2x 2nd level, 1x third, or 3x third, or 1x 1st and 2x 2nd). This would really punch up low level spell casters but not really overpower them at high levels (since we're only talking 3 extra spells that can be cast, max).

    You could do the same for clerics, or not since they have fighting ability to back them up.

  8. Suggestion:
    2 spells, +1 spell per spell level, and apply the character's intelligence modifier. An average mage at level 9 will thus have 11 spells.

    The spell slots are not restricted by level, but the MU still learns spell levels at the standard rate (double spell level - 1). To memorise a spell of any level, at least one spell of the level below must be memorised. This would mean that the average 9th level mage could prepare one spell each of 1st through 4th level, and 7 x level 5 spells.

    To learn a spell, roll the character's intelligence or less on a d20, with a penalty equal to the spell's level. The character can learn a number of spells per spell level equal to half her int score rounded down.

    Failing to learn the spell means it cannot be attempted again until the character advances a level.

    The character needs a copy of a scroll or spellbook to learn a spell. If using a scroll, the spell vanishes from the scroll in the attempt.

  9. Look at all that advice to give more power to player characters.

    I think it is interesting that the problem of not being able to use the magic missile again (or whatever magic one desires) isn't one to be better solved by PLAYER BEHAVIOUR rather than by once again and endlessly fiddling with the system.

    Your issue isn't that there aren't enough missiles for the doors; it is that there are too many doors. Too many of the same target rather than too little ammunition. By creating dungeons that aren't made up of similar obstacles, where passage forward is built upon more than the player's power list and more upon investigation and direct player involvement, players are more likely to accept that there is a limited amount they can do by turning to their spell list.

    Everything is not a nail. Giving the player more hammers, however, makes it look like everything is.

  10. Option: Wand of spell storing (20 spell level limit). Restricted as a gift for first level students from their instructors. Its an alternative to spell book.

    Option: intelligence bonus provides extra spell levels. This means an 18 intelligence magicuser can memorize three magic missile spells and a read magic spell at first level. It makes wizards viable at apprentice level without overpowering them.

  11. My two cents here. I haven't played D&D in decades (though I have played other RPGs) but I follow OSR blogs and would like to run or play an OSR game one of these days. My thoughts re low level wizards are as follows: every time you cast a spell, you have to roll a D20. If you get a 1 or below, it fails and you have to roll on a table to see if it's a straight failure or if there's a nasty fumble effect. The relevance to the level 1 wizard issue? You CAN cast spells in excess of level restrictions, or even of higher levels than you are 'supposed' to cast, but these bring increasingly high penalties to your roll (other things that would bring penalties would be wearing armour, being fatigued, etc). Under this system, PCs would be allowed to know several spells at L1 (so no memorizing as such), and I would also let them (as has been suggested elsewhere) automatically use Read Magic and maybe Detect Magic. I'm not a fan of 'spell points' or 'eldritch blasts'.

  12. If you want to give the MU's more to play with you could fit the scroll writing rules from the Holmes edition in to B/X. I think you wrote about the Holmes rules before, but if you don't have access then I'll gladly email them. Basicly even first MU's can write scrolls at 100gp and 1 week per spell level (as I recall) of any spell thay know. Now in Holmes you might know a good number of spell, though you can only memories the one. If you do this you might allow 3 scrolls or so to starting MU's. Help out but still limits.
    I would be happy with my one Read Languages though. But I get your son. Let him reuse the missile whem he solo, or convince him to play an elf. He's a kid playing a game for adults anyway ;)

  13. Here's the Warlock MU spell point system from 1975 (one of the earliest systems & the one Holmes used prior to editing the Basic Set):

    Spell Points/day= Hit Points + Level + Int modifier

    The Int modifier is idiosyncratic, but on the bonus end is +1/2 pt/level for Int 13-15 and +1pt/level for Int 16+.

    The complicated part is that each spell is given a different point value that is not necessarily dependent on level. Level 1 spells vary from 1-4 points; some level 2 spells are up to 6 points; level three spells tend to be 4-7 points, etc.

    1. @ Zenop:

      Appreciate that...I'd read that Holmes was in favor of a spell point system, but I hadn't known he actually had a specific system in mind. This one looks, well, particularly ugly...but I suppose everyone has their own tolerance for "fiddly."
      ; )

  14. Didn't read the comments but since this kind of thinking is very in my particular wheelhouse...

    If you're sticking with Vancian magic, 13th Age has a pretty good system.

    1) Mages have a "magical attack" of a specific element type that scales in damage with level and can be done at will.

    2) Other spells don't scale with spell power, but with the level they're cast at. So (for example) Fireball as a 3rd-level spell does 5d6 damage, while Fireball as a 9th-level spell does 15d6 damage.

    3) Players don't get more spell slots as they level, they just get to memorize higher-level spells.

    4) There's a "Utility" spell that does a lot of the non-combat-mage stuff (levitation, fly, water breathing, darkvision, so on) -- kind of a superpowered Prestidigitation, a swiss-army-knife spell that gets more potential options built into it as you level.

    So you let your 1st-level magic user memorize, say, four Level 1 spells. Every odd level, they get to memorize a higher-level spell, and every third level, they get an additional spell. So by 14th level they can cast seventh-level spells and can memorize eight of them at once. Plus the unlimited "eldritch blast" thing.