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Thatguyoverther
2009-06-27, 12:40 PM
Hi all,

I'm planning on starting up a game in a home brew low magic world and I wanted your advise on some home brew rules I'm coming up with.

__________________________________________________ ___________

I was planning on changing magic substantially. All spells, including cantrips, are bumped up one level. Casting spells also drains the caster, dealing one point of nonlethal damage to the caster for every level of the spell. A caster can cast himself into unconsciousness.

Spells with the [Evil] descriptor, require blood and life energy to cast. Instead of doing nonleathal damage they instead deal lethal damage to the caster. Alternatively a caster can choose to deal the damage to a sacrificial victim instead. To do so they must be in adjacent square to a helpless or grappled individual. Additionally the victim must be a sentient creature capable of feeling pain, undead, oozes, and constructs cannot be used in this manner. If the sacrificial victim does not have enough hit points to take all of the damage the caster can transfer the rest to a second victim or take the damage him/herself. Hitpoints lost in this manner are supernatural and can only be healed naturally. Magical means, with the exception of miracle and wish, are incapable of recovering these lost hit points.

For example:

Bozart the Cleric casts Sanctuary. The level of Sanctuary in a normal campaign is 1, but because of the Low Magic rules for all intents and purposes it is a second level spell. After casting the spell Bozart is drained taking two points of nonlethal damage.

Additional example

Azar the evil wizard casts an third level spell with the evil descriptor. He is in his lair and has access to sacrificial animals. Instead of taking the damage himself he deals it too a pair of specially prepared rabbits. Since the rabbits have a hit point apiece that leaves one point undealt which Azar must take himself.


In the campaign world I also wanted to have a reason why battles are still fought in a conventional medieval style, even with the existence of magic. I wanted it to be easier to disrupt spells so that casters can effectively cancel out the spells of other casters.

Dispel- During combat any caster may forgo their normal actions in a round to have a chance at dispelling an enemy casters spell. To dispel a spell a caster must make a spellcraft check equal to 15 + spells level. If they succeed they can then sacrifice a spell slot to try and counter the spell. The two casters then make opposing checks. The original caster rolls 1d20 + their caster level + the ability modifier of the characteristic the character uses for spellcasting + two times the level of the spell they are trying to cast. The dispeler rolls 1d20 + their caster level+ the ability modifier of the characteristic the character uses for spellcasting + two times the level of the spellslot they dropped to dispel. Once the casters have made their rolls, each caster has the option of dropping additional spell slots to to effect the outcome of the check. Both parties take nonleathal damage equal to the number of spell slots used in this manner. On a tie the spell still takes effect.

For Example:

Bozart the fifth level cleric attempts to cast Sanctuary. Azar the 7th level wizard attempts to dispell the spell. Azar succeeds the DC 17 spellcrafting check (15 + 2 for the level of the spell). Azar decides to sacrifice a second level spell slot to dispel Sanctuary. The two casters must now make opposing checks. Bozart rolls a 14 he then adds 5 for his caster level, 4 for his wisdom modifier, and 4 for the level of sanctuary times two, for a total of 27. Azar rolls a 6 he then adds 7 for his caster level, 5 for his intelligence modifier, and 4 for the level of the slot sacrificed times two, for a total of 22. Azar decides that he really wants to make sure that Bozart's spell fails so he sacrifices another second level slot and a first level slot to bump his total by six to 28. Bozart sacrifices a first level slot to bump his total two 29. Azar, unwilling to expend more spell slots, abandons his attempt to dispel Bozart's sanctuary.

Since Bozart cast a second level spell and abandoned a first level slot, he takes three points of nonleathal damage. Azar abandoned two second level slots and a first level slot and takes five points of nonleathal damage. In addition since Azar attempted to dispel, he can take no further actions this round.

I also wanted to put a cap on hit points. I think it's fairly ridiculous that a character, who is still fully human, at tenth level could be expected to absorb an amount of damage that would kill a normal person ten times over. Take for example a balista, it does 3d8 damage, on average 14.5 points of damage. enough to kill a standard first level commoner with full hit points three times over and then some. If a 10th level Barbarian were to take the same 14 points of damage they would hardly even be phased.

My home brew rule is this-

A character can have a maximum level of hitpoints equal to the total of five of his greatest hit dice. All hit points above the maximum are instead converted into untyped bonuses to AC and points of DR. For every ten hit points a character exceeds his or her hit point maximum they gain a 1 pt bonus to AC. For every twenty points they exceed their maximum they gain 1 point of DR. Points of DR gained in this manner stack with DR gained from other sources.

For example:

Azar has seven levels in the Wizard class. Since the hit dice of wizards is 1d4, his maximum level of hit points is 20. No matter how many additional levels of wizard he gains he will never exceed 20 hit points. If at level 8 he decides to take a level of fighter his maximum number of hit points changes. It would become 10, for the level in fighter, plus 16, for 4 levels in wizard, for a total of 26.


Herm, the 12 level barbarian has exceeded his hit point maximum by 38 points. As such he gains a plus 3 untyped bonus to his AC and one point of DR. The point of DR stacks with his barbarian DR to give him three points. Upon reaching level 13 he has now exceeded his hit point total by 50 giving him a plus five to his AC, and 2 points of DR, which stacks with his barbarian class for 5.





So what do you guys think? Any feedback, positive or negative, is much appreciated.

Jane_Smith
2009-06-27, 01:18 PM
Permanent hp loss. This makes me (Satan's daughter) want to deck you. :smallfurious: DEATH TO THE HERETIC!

Seriously - no on permanent hp loss. That is never a good idea, ever. Casters get few enough hp as is, the nonlethal damage is -enough-.

Plus, why would anyone go to the power of darkness if it was THAT demanding? You would have to buff the spells for PERMANENT HP LOSS to even be worth it.

Thatguyoverther
2009-06-27, 01:26 PM
I'm sorry I didn't mean to imply that the hit point loss was permanent, only that it couldn't be healed with magic. Wounds taken in this manner have to heal normally.

I'll change the wording in a sec.

mikeejimbo
2009-06-27, 01:52 PM
Sounds pretty good for a grittier and low magic campaign. What are the normal rules on dispelling, though? I'm finding it hard to compare yours with them because I forget the normal ones.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-27, 01:57 PM
Wouldn't limiting spell selection to a sharp degree achieve more or less the same effect?

Thatguyoverther
2009-06-27, 02:05 PM
Quoth the SRD

"Counterspells

It is possible to cast any spell as a counterspell. By doing so, you are using the spellís energy to disrupt the casting of the same spell by another character. Counterspelling works even if one spell is divine and the other arcane.
How Counterspells Work

To use a counterspell, you must select an opponent as the target of the counterspell. You do this by choosing the ready action. In doing so, you elect to wait to complete your action until your opponent tries to cast a spell. (You may still move your speed, since ready is a standard action.)

If the target of your counterspell tries to cast a spell, make a Spellcraft check (DC 15 + the spellís level). This check is a free action. If the check succeeds, you correctly identify the opponentís spell and can attempt to counter it. If the check fails, you canít do either of these things.

To complete the action, you must then cast the correct spell. As a general rule, a spell can only counter itself. If you are able to cast the same spell and you have it prepared (if you prepare spells), you cast it, altering it slightly to create a counterspell effect. If the target is within range, both spells automatically negate each other with no other results. "

Thatguyoverther
2009-06-27, 02:10 PM
Wouldn't limiting spell selection to a sharp degree achieve more or less the same effect?

Your probably right. But I wasn't in the mood to sort through all the spells to narrow down the list. This way the general rule can also be used on spells players might want to use outside the srd.

I also like the feel it would add to the game, with the righteous cleric passing out from exertion. It also gives a reason for evil casters to be so keen on blood sacrifices.

mikeejimbo
2009-06-27, 02:11 PM
All right then. I thought that it was more similar to your current rules than it actually is. (Except of course for the nonlethal damage.) But your dispelling rules sound like they would fit better for your style of campaign after all.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-27, 02:19 PM
Your probably right. But I wasn't in the mood to sort through all the spells to narrow down the list. This way the general rule can also be used on spells players might want to use outside the srd.

I also like the feel it would add to the game, with the righteous cleric passing out from exertion. It also gives a reason for evil casters to be so keen on blood sacrifices.
Well when I was asking a question, it was genuinely meant to be a question. I wasn't being rhetorical or anything. I was interested, from a game design perspective, why you felt your methods were more advantageous than the rules that you choose propose here.

Honestly, though, it doesn't take that much time to narrow down the list if a wizard only ever gets a spell level every other level. Starting out, you're just limited to level one spells and those spells are probably the most common in a low-magic setting. Almost zero work from the get go -- and you don't need to muss about with fancy rules.

I like the whole "dangerous magic" thing because it adds a lot of flavor to a fantasy game. 2E often simply did this by making spells double-edged swords. Fireballs aren't as easy to shrug off when your hitpoints are capped and it was written spefically to expand out of a narrow space. So firing it off in a tunnel would fill up 33 ten-by-ten cubes. Disastrous if improperly used.

If you're willing to rewrite the spells *while* controlling what spells the players get, the workload may just be manageable.

I'm not so sold on the "one level higher" thing as that seems like it would change too much of the underlying game assumptions.

I mean really. Waiting until level 3 to get level 1 spells? Do I really need to wait that long to do my schtick as a Wizard?

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-27, 02:27 PM
I also wanted to put a cap on hit points. I think it's fairly ridiculous that a character, who is still fully human, at tenth level could be expected to absorb an amount of damage that would kill a normal person ten times over. Take for example a balista, it does 3d8 damage, on average 14.5 points of damage. enough to kill a standard first level commoner with full hit points three times over and then some. If a 10th level Barbarian were to take the same 14 points of damage they would hardly even be phased.

My home brew rule is this-

A character can have a maximum level of hitpoints equal to the total of five of his greatest hit dice. All hit points above the maximum are instead converted into untyped bonuses to AC and points of DR. For every ten hit points a character exceeds his or her hit point maximum they gain a 1 pt bonus to AC. For every twenty points they exceed their maximum they gain 1 point of DR. Points of DR gained in this manner stack with DR gained from other sources.

For example:

Azar has seven levels in the Wizard class. Since the hit dice of wizards is 1d4, his maximum level of hit points is 20. No matter how many additional levels of wizard he gains he will never exceed 20 hit points. If at level 8 he decides to take a level of fighter his maximum number of hit points changes. It would become 10, for the level in fighter, plus 16, for 4 levels in wizard, for a total of 26.


Herm, the 12 level barbarian has exceeded his hit point maximum by 38 points. As such he gains a plus 3 untyped bonus to his AC and one point of DR. The point of DR stacks with his barbarian DR to give him three points. Upon reaching level 13 he has now exceeded his hit point total by 50 giving him a plus five to his AC, and 2 points of DR, which stacks with his barbarian class for 5.


Hit points are an abstraction that factors in such things as luck, near-misses, overall toughness, ability to dodge, etc.

However if you don't want characters to be so epic, the simplest solution is to make it so that characters gain only one hit point per level after level nine or so (or lower). Characters get no Constitution bonuses -- just their one hit point per level. This is how older editions put a cap on hitpoints; high level characters are seasoned veterans who know how to handle danger, but they aren't so epic as 3e characters are and could actually be hurt by direct damage spells that cap out.

So let's see. You get 10 hit points as a fighter at level one. Then you you gain an average of 44 hit points over the next eight levels. A fighter without a Con bonus will have an average of 54 hp by level nine -- without much improvement occurring after that point. A fighter with Con 10 will have 65 hp by level 20.

Naturally, this makes high level play a lot more dangerous. This holds particularly true in 3e when damage is able to scale semi-linearly with level. Power attack can absolutely level players, particularly if the aggressor has enough attack bonuses to spare. A spell like Disintegrate becomes incredibly dangerous to a player. So consider the effect this will have on your play.

Another trick is to merely lower the massive damage check occur when damage equal the character's Con (or two times Con) is inflicted on them -- like in d20 modern. I'd be wary of doing this since this makes the game a lot more lethal when your characters still have low fortitude saves. A 5d6 fireball is still 17 or 18 points of damage on average:

Hmmm . . . probably not the best mechanism to go with.

Thatguyoverther
2009-06-27, 02:43 PM
As far as having to wait until third level to get a first level spell, I was planning on having the players start at third level.

My original idea for altering spell casting was to drop the spell slot concept entirely. A character would be able to cast any spell they know so long as they pay the nonleathal damage for it. The reasoning being that even though all the spells are bumped up a level, a third level a third level caster could cast their first level spell all day, provided they had a little rest in between.

But then Wizards and Clerics become spontaneous casters. Socerers are obsolete, and magic becomes more powerful when I was intending to curb it in the first place.

Although it would definitely add to the attractiveness of the dark side. An evil caster could cast continuously, provided they had access to sacrificial victims.


Hit points are an abstraction that factors in such things as luck, near-misses, overall toughness, ability to dodge, etc.

However if you don't want characters to be so epic, the simplest solution is to make it so that characters gain only one hit point per level after level nine or so (or lower). Characters get no Constitution bonuses -- just their one hit point per level. This is how older editions put a cap on hitpoints; high level characters are seasoned veterans who know how to handle danger, but they aren't so epic as 3e characters are and could actually be hurt by direct damage spells that cap out.

Naturally, this makes high level play a lot more dangerous. This holds particularly true in 3e when damage is able to scale semi-linearly with level. Power attack can absolutely level players, particularly if the aggressor has enough attack bonuses to spare. A spell like Disintegrate becomes incredibly dangerous to a player. So consider the effect this will have on your play.


But then don't you have the problem of characters that rely on hit points being nerfed?

And if hit points where intended to function that way why does damage resistance exist in the first place? Couldn't you get rid of it and just give the character/monster more hit points? Although admittedly it is helpful at representing a resistance to certain types of damage.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-06-27, 03:00 PM
As far as having to wait until third level to get a first level spell, I was planning on having the players start at third level.

My original idea for altering spell casting was to drop the spell slot concept entirely. A character would be able to cast any spell they know so long as they pay the nonleathal damage for it. The reasoning being that even though all the spells are bumped up a level, a third level a third level caster could cast their first level spell all day, provided they had a little rest in between.

But then Wizards and Clerics become spontaneous casters. Socerers are obsolete, and magic becomes more powerful when I was intending to curb it in the first place.

Although it would definitely add to the attractiveness of the dark side. An evil caster could cast continuously, provided they had access to sacrificial victims.




But then don't you have the problem of characters that rely on hit points being nerfed?

And if hit points where intended to function that way why does damage resistance exist in the first place? Couldn't you get rid of it and just give the character/monster more hit points? Although admittedly it is helpful at representing a resistance to certain types of damage.
I imagine that being supernaturally hard or able to "instantly heal" damage means that it's still harder to actually connect a solid blow that hurts. So it works just fine with that abstraction.

And the hit point cap still nerfs casters as well, who'll still be worse off since they top out at even fewer hit points. I thought the whole point was to make the game more lethal. This does that without resorting to complicated bookkeeping of DR/AC.

(DR and AC doesn't protect against fire damage at any rate. Hit points are a more generalized protection than that.)

Or maybe you mean lowering massive damage thresholds? Yeah, probably nerfs martial types. It makes them better at taking a lot of smaller sources of damage without being able to stand up to one massive hit as easily, although their fortitude can easily get high enough to negate that disadvantage. But yeah, I don't see much point in using that specific kind of rule.

Thatguyoverther
2009-06-27, 11:22 PM
Thanks for the feedback Lurker.

I think your right about the hit point idea. Keeping track of the extra AC and DR would be a pain. Your solution is allot simpler, while still keeping to the general idea.

I think that limiting hit points would be a more effective way of accomplishing my goal than adjusting massive damage thresholds.

I was also thinking about adding Fatigued and Exhausted as effects of spell casting. Do you have any ideas on how?

Lappy9000
2009-06-27, 11:33 PM
Zeta Kai did a cool class called the Bio Mage (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=2487790)which seems to fit the bill.

Thatguyoverther
2009-06-28, 12:46 AM
Thanks for the Advice, and I definitively like the Bio Mage flavor. But I don't think it's what I'm looking for. For one I was trying to keep the alterations fairly simple.

I was thinking something like: When a character has taken half of their original hit points in casting caused nonlethal damage, they are automatically fatigued. Upon reaching 75%, rounded in players favor, they become exhausted.

Or maybe: Whenever a caster take more nonlethal damage from casting or dispelling in a single turn than their constitution modifier, they must make a 10+ the number of nonlethal points taken DC fortitude save or become fatigued. Any fatigued caster who expends more nonleathal points in a turn than their constitution modifier must make a 15+ the number of nonlethal points taken DC fortitude save or become exhausted.

But Not Tonight
2009-06-28, 02:58 AM
Thanks for the Advice, and I definitively like the Bio Mage flavor. But I don't think it's what I'm looking for. For one I was trying to keep the alterations fairly simple.

I was thinking something like: When a character has taken half of their original hit points in casting caused nonlethal damage, they are automatically fatigued. Upon reaching 75%, rounded in players favor, they become exhausted.

Or maybe: Whenever a caster take more nonlethal damage from casting or dispelling in a single turn than their constitution modifier, they must make a 10+ the number of nonlethal points taken DC fortitude save or become fatigued. Any fatigued caster who expends more nonleathal points in a turn than their constitution modifier must make a 15+ the number of nonlethal points taken DC fortitude save or become exhausted.
I think that is a bit much. In fact, I would suggest demanding a Constitution check (DC=10+spell level+caster level) to take half the non-lethal damage. If you allow them to choose the caster level they cast the spell at(with a minimum caster level=to the minimum caster level for casting that spell), it will encourage lower and less miraculous effects as the casters want to keep themselves from dropping.

With this variant, you might want to offer an incentive to take the lethal damage, instead of it as a requirement of [evil] spells:
Allowing yourself to take lethal damage (yourself, or through a proxy, read: sacrifice) in casing a spell casts the spell at your maximum caster level+2... Maybe with a certain metamagic feat applied... Maximized at caster lv+2 maybe?

In this variant, you might want to rule that sacrifices instead must be killed, and power a number of spell levels equal to their HD.

[more simply: A caster can sacrifice a {x} HD LIVING creature to cast a level {x} spell Maximized, and at full caster level+2]

One could even demand that the sacrifice is the only way to achieve this result, and one cannot take lethal damage to boost the spell... Though that kind of nerfs good characters, and prevents them from being heroic and casting themselves into unconsciousness in order to boost spells...