Clearly, the world building in Dungeons & Dragons took heavy design influence from Lord of the Rings with basically a medieval lifestyle peppered with wandering wizards. Big cities might have a wizards tower or ten, and there could be guilds or study organizations, but… if you have magic, especially cantrips and low level spells… why aren’t there magical businesses? It seems like your average 3rd level transmuter could earn a lot more gold putting out his own shingle then going into a dungeon somewhere. I mean, plus he’s a transmuter. That’s like suicide!
Here’s 5 examples of magical businesses that should exist in D&D, but oddly don’t.
#1 Mending Stores
Imagine these as the D&D equivalent of those stores that fix your cracked iPhone screen. Using the mending cantrip, a team of apprentice mages could spend all day fixing anything that breaks around your house. Put a few coins on the table and your household goods have an infinite lifespan.
This would actually be a great way for mage academies to make extra money for supplies. It’s like the barber college of magedom. Maybe they would even offer an at-home service where they use Mending, Mage Hand, and Prestidigitation to clean your house better than that Kobold maid service with the hard to decipher prices.
#2 “Fabricate” Factories
The 4th level transmutation spell “Fabricate” allows you to turn a bunch of raw materials into finished products made from that material. You have to be a skilled craftsman to make anything ornate or useful (weapons), but the spell works for basic items without any training. This includes bridges… because bridge-building in D&D is apparently not a “skilled trade.” The spell creates an item in 10 minutes.
I find it hard to believe that there aren’t large warehouses converted to “fabricate factories” where raw materials are shipped in and transmuted in bulk by a squad of industrial mages. The only limit is the amount of spells per day that most wizards can cast, but if you have a bunch (say, the members of a transmuters guild) taking shifts, you can produce dozens of suits of armor in the space of a day. Keep some trained craftsmen around to add a little extra to the spell’s product and get them to market.
There’s another few handfuls of useful Transmutation spells from a manufacturing standpoint. It’s just good business.
#3 Boutique Healers
This is basically the 5e equivalent of a mob doctor. After all, how many times is the wealthy Waterdhavian businessman going to be wounded in an attack and someone yells out “Go get a healer!” before folks just keep one on retainer. Certainly, a clerical spellcaster is useful to have around the house anyway.
Before you become concerned that good aligned priests would never take a job living in some neutral-at-best mansion estate, remember that priests of coin and even murder still know healing spells. What evil cult isn’t looking to get in with the wealthy and powerful houses of a major city?
“What about healing potions?” you might ask. Firstly, I should mention that the absolute abundance of healing potions should be driving the prices down and the quality up (market forces!), but second, I think healing potions are a poor substitute for a healer who you pay to sip summer wine all day until an emergency. Plus you’d have a supply of guidance spells for everyday tasks.
#4 Illusion Casting Services
I’m just going to come out and say it: I’m amazed people in D&D ever wear anything but armor. Remember that if you have the right spells, you can hide armor under an illusion of anything you want, including nudity… if that’s your combat style. If you look at what illusion spells can create or hide, it’s easy to believe that rock star illusion artists could create quite the business doing specific castings on buildings and estates.
Do you want your decorative dragon statues to move and spit fire? Sure. Do you want your party with a desert theme to suddenly be in a giant pyramid? Of course. You can have a winter party in the summer or a summer event in the winter. Illusions, they’re the next big thing.
There are so many uses for illusion spells that I can’t see why this isn’t the business that sweeps up all the young Gnomes before they can get into adventuring in the first place.
#5 Haste Stations
Forget coffee! If you need to get a lot done in a day, wander over to the local Haste Station and literally double your speed. This 3rd level Transmutation spell (and you thought these guys were wealthy because they could make stuff into gold) can really help you maximize your day. Bounce from station to station and you can get a week’s worth of chores done before noon. Of course you’ll have a pretty hard come-down when it all wears off, but I’m sure they offer orange slices or something.
Come to think of it, there’s a whole market for magical nootropics. A spell to wake you up. A spell to get you moving. Have a mage over to cast sleep before bed. Better living through sorcery.
With these great money making ideas in mind, my suspicion is that the real force prohibiting mage-driven businesses in D&D is that experience points just don’t grow on trees. You want to level, you have to adventure, and that’s not exactly safe. Remember most of these mages are transmuters. How many of them are making it back from the dungeon anyway?
What other magical businesses are inexplicably missing from your D&D campaign? What would you do with some spellcasting skills and an empty shop to practice in? What spells should not be available for public consumption? Leave your comments in the comments section, or pay a wizard to do it.
Image Credits: D&D / Wizards of the Coast