In Daen Ral I'd like mages to be able to do certain things automatically (obviously, with a certain degree of concentration) - like detect and read magic. For the concentration mechanic, I'm thinking a simple d20 vs. INT (with bonuses if it is quiet and peaceful, penalties if the surroundings are noisy and chaotic).
So, I'd like MUs to be able to use cantrips - and pretty much at will. Not every cantrip, per se, but a certain number. These would represent the base magical lessons they learned from their master - and they would be so ingrained that they wouldn't even need to be memorized.
But here's the kicker in this. I was thinking that some cantrips are related to more powerful magics and could be the first steps in learning those higher level spells. So something like Smokepuff could lead you to cloudkill and cloudburst - maybe related to lightning bolt, too? You don't know Smokepuff? You can't learn cloudburst, etc.
Yeah, a logistical nightmare. But, hey, this game is a hobby, so it's my free time, right?
So mages become more versatile, in a sense (being able to do some minor things without expending any energy at all) but also become somewhat limited as well, if they don't know the right cantrips.
And how cool would it be for a 12th level mage to have to find a master who could teach him the right cantrips so that he can learn the Transmute Water to Dust? (what? You don't know the Dry cantrip?)
Okay - probably too complicated, but in Daen Ral, every spell won't be available to every magic using PC. Some will have to be found and then taught (or researched over time).
The flip side of all of this is that mages will be able to create scrolls, potions and charms relatively easily (if not cheaply) so they'll have even more utility, even with the standard spell level progression charts from AD&D 1st ed.
First run through on this idea (actually, brainstorming in blogger).