A magic-user, let it be a cleric, wizard, and many others, have much in common with the doctors and lawyers of our own world. They are experts in a body of specialized knowledge; they spend years of study to gain their expertise, and they also expend more effort and money than members of any other character class to acquire their class’s special skills.
Presumably, like doctors and lawyers, some take up magic out of a love of knowledge, and some for altruistic reasons – and a goodly percentage choose the profession based on a desire to turn their powers into wealth. Unfortunately for those in the third group, the rewards for all their effort and study may prove to be rather meager.
Consider: If a mage chooses not to go adventuring, he or she has two ways to make money – casting spells for a fee, or enchanting magical items. The latter, of course, is extremely possible – creating even one magic item could support a spell-caster in luxury for some time, and it’s certainly much safer than adventuring against pit fiends and mind flayers.
The catch, alas, is that it takes a 12th-level magic-user to cast the necessary spell, put-ting it beyond the reach of many spellcasters. Furthermore, even a wizard of the requisite level must still find a copy of enchant an item somewhere and make a successful attempt to learn it.
For magic-users without the luck or the level needed to learn enchant an item, the alternative path to wealth is to cast magic spells for hire. This, too, has its drawbacks. The most obvious problem is nobody wanting your spells. Many magic-user spells are combat or adventure-oriented. A stay-at-home magic-user won’t find many people wanting to buy a casting of Fireball, Magic Missile, or Lightning Bolt. Other spells, like Shield or Find Familiar, are usable only by the one casting them, so they have no sale value.
Finally, even if the magic-user does have one of the useful spells – Identify, Flesh to Stone, Animate Dead, Detect Magic, etc. – how can he be sure anyone will know he or she has them? How many customers can they expect to knock on his door?
The answer to that will depend on what the magic-user does to get customers. After all, why should any user of magic wait for adventurers to seek him or her out when they can seek them out? Instead of being purely a place of contemplation and study, a magic-user’s guild hall might be plastered on every wall with advertisements or Magic Mouths, listing spells available, rates, and the level of the caster, all placed by members in hopes of attracting clients. (“Lagor the spellbinder detects more magic faster – special discounts for rings and rods!”) This tactic alone might serve to boost business (and profits).
But the scope isn’t limited, and neither should your imagination: there are the areas of information-gathering, surveillance, and espionage. Magic-users have many ways to gain hard-to-learn information – Clairvoyance or Skywrite, for example. Think what a king or an empress might pay for an agent who can hear a conversation in any room with which he’s familiar, watch a meeting through solid walls, or read even the best-hidden secret documents.
Think how a magic could revolutionize detective work, making it possible to trail a person with almost no chance of detection. For the less honorable user of magic, blackmail is always an option, “My crystal ball showed me a most interesting scene – some noble-woman consorting with the queens paramour – ahh, yes, counting gold always takes my mind off such tawdry matters.”
A magic-user specializing in such services could find plenty of clients. Of course, this would lead to the development of appropriate security measures, both magical (an amulet of proof against detection would neutralize such spying techniques) and non-magical (simply writing down conversations instead of speaking them would foil a magic-user using something like clairaudience).
But also other fields of interest, like communications. There are no freeways or internet, but news is still vital! A plague, famine, rebellion – can only be spread at the speed of a man on horseback. How much more efficient to hire a couple of magic-users, equip each of them with a crystal ball, and set them in two widely separated cities. At regular intervals each would stare into his ball at the other end and trade reports (or, if the rooms were familiar to them, clairaudience would serve just as efficiently).
This has its limits – without efficient clocks, timing the reports might be difficult – but it should still work often enough to be useful. Such a system could also be set up as a private concern, offering information from leagues away to local lords (politics and war news), merchants (crop yields, weather, and current prices), and anyone else willing to pay for the service.
And this is the tip of the iceberg – just think of many other applications magic could have to make a buck: transportation, construction, crime, fraud, and so much more goodness to consider, just remember that their is a cost at times for the specialized knowledge to the materials needed to invoke the payer’s request… .
Examples of Magic Money Making
The world of Dungeons & Dragons is teeming with opportunities for those with the know-how to wield the mystical forces, where the limits of such potential are bounded only by the creativity of the caster and the vast, untapped markets of a realm eager for the marvels and conveniences that magic can provide. Whether it’s bending the elemental forces to forge unparalleled pathways of trade or peering into the weave of fate to navigate the perils of politics and power, the savvy spellcaster finds that their skills are a rare commodity in a world hungry for the miraculous and the sublime.
Druids are deeply connected with nature, and their abilities can be very valuable:
- Agricultural Enhancement: They could use spells to enhance crop growth, control weather for better farming conditions, or purify water and land. Farmers and entire communities would pay well for such services.
- Healing and Cleansing: Offering healing services to creatures or people, or cleansing areas of disease or poison could be a lucrative business, especially in areas plagued by such maladies.
- Guiding through Wilderness: Their knowledge of terrain and ability to navigate and survive natural hazards make them perfect guides through dangerous wilderness, for which travelers or caravans would pay.
- Animal Handling: With their ability to communicate with and control animals, they could assist in herding, or serve as intermediaries in resolving issues between civilization and wildlife.
Wizards have a vast array of spells and a scholarly understanding of the arcane:
- Enchanting and Item Creation: They can create magical items, scrolls, and potions that are highly sought after by adventurers and the wealthy.
- Information Gathering: Spells such as scrying or detect thoughts can be used to gather information or solve mysteries for a fee.
- Spellcasting Services: Offering customized spellcasting services, such as teleportation, warding, or even just entertainment with illusions.
- Teaching and Scribing: Taking on apprentices or scribing spell scrolls for other casters can be quite profitable.
Warlocks have unique patrons that provide them with powerful abilities:
- Curse Lifting: They can offer services to remove or bestow curses, depending on their patrons’ powers.
- Summoning: Using their connections with otherworldly beings, they could summon creatures for various tasks, from guarding to performing specific jobs.
- Pact Magic Consultancy: Advising on matters of the arcane, especially those related to other dimensions and entities.
General Ventures for Magic Users
- Security: Offering magical protection services for individuals, caravans, or establishments.
- Entertainment: Putting on displays of magic for entertainment—this could be anything from light shows to summoned creatures performing.
- Consulting: Serving as experts on magical phenomena, creatures, and lore. They could also consult on building magical defenses or creating magical infrastructure.
- Expeditions: Joining or leading expeditions into dangerous territories or ruins, offering their magical expertise in return for a share of whatever is found.
- Research and Development: Innovating new spells, magical systems, or uses for magic, funded by patrons, governments, or guilds interested in the advancement of magical arts.
Each of these magical practitioners would need to consider the legal implications of their services, as well as the demand for their unique skills. With the right marketing and reputation, a magical caster can become as wealthy as the most successful merchant prince or king.