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View Full Version : Alternate, Skill-Based Magic System



Mongoose87
2009-11-09, 06:20 PM
Ok, the title's actually misleading. I have an idea: universal spellcasting.

Step one: Eliminate Sorcerers, wizards, clerics, favored souls, etc.

Step two: Add two more skills: Spellcasting (Divine) and Spellcasting (Arcane). The first is based off of Wisdom, the second, Intelligence. They are class skills for everyone.

Step Three: Everyone gets two more skill points to either: a) Put in those new skills or b) Enjoy, because skill points are fun.

Step four: New class - the "Spellcaster". Starts with a d4 HD, 4 skill points per level, one good save and poor BaB. He can spend an as of yet undetermined number of "talent points" to reshape himself, gaining Turn Undead, Wildshape, Medium BaB, a bonus to a spellcasting skill or whatever, to emulate the eliminated classes.

Step Five: New way of casting. No longer are there spell slots. Now, a spell is cast by making a skill check of the appropriate type. The DC is 10 + Spell Level + Caster Level. For example, if Johnny Fighter wants to cast Magic Missile as a 3rd level caster, he must make a DC 14 Spellcasting (Arcane) check. However, a character must have learned a spell (through a scroll or by watching or whatever- let the DM decide, variety is the spice of life) to cast it. Furthermore, a character can not cast a spell a wizard of his level could not prepare (excluding Precocious Apprentice Shenanigans) and he must use a minimum of the lowest caster level required to cast that spell in his DC. For example, to cast a Fireball, must use a minimum caster level of 5 in casting. A spell cannot be cast at a caster level greater than character HD.

Step Six: Tell me what's wrong with it.

Milskidasith
2009-11-09, 06:54 PM
What's wrong with it: Rather than actually balance spellcasters, you've just made everybody need to take the spellcasting skills.

Mongoose87
2009-11-09, 07:12 PM
What's wrong with it: Rather than actually balance spellcasters, you've just made everybody need to take the spellcasting skills.

See, the thing about totally balancing spellcasters is you either have to write an entirely new list of spells, or an entirely new system.

Also, I did not say it balanced spellcasters.

GriffinKemp
2009-11-09, 09:42 PM
There's nothing really wrong with it per say.
Essentially what you are doing is causing a magic inflation rate by reducing the rarity of magic by granting it to every character class type, and then remaking the magic class into a more robust version than it previously was so that if you want to be purely magic you aren't lacking by comparison to everyone else around that also has magic and more.

So there's nothing wrong with the concept really, but the motive is the question.

What was the reason behind wanting to do this?
Is it to better apply to a setting that has an increased magic tangibility, or is this to help counter a short coming of the current system that you see; and if the latter, what is that short coming?

Glimbur
2009-11-09, 11:53 PM
By making it a skill check you're opening it up to the million and one ways to boost skill checks. The hard cap on what level of spell a given level of character can cast helps, but without more houserules you'd better believe that everyone will be running around with Inspire Competence lackeys and Aid Another'ing and using custom magic items and stacking modifiers until the cows come home and they can cast max level spells trivially.

Milskidasith
2009-11-10, 12:54 AM
What's interesting is that since CL is unchecked, it's trivially easy to abuse uncapped CL/ML damage spells; Energy Ray for 12d6 at level 1 automatically? Yes! (18 Int, 4 ranks, Skill Focus (it's a +3 to ML, it's actually useful now).

Even worse when you consider stuff like Blasphemy; everybody will be killing everybody with that.

Mongoose87
2009-11-10, 01:17 AM
What's interesting is that since CL is unchecked, it's trivially easy to abuse uncapped CL/ML damage spells; Energy Ray for 12d6 at level 1 automatically? Yes! (18 Int, 4 ranks, Skill Focus (it's a +3 to ML, it's actually useful now).

Even worse when you consider stuff like Blasphemy; everybody will be killing everybody with that.

Crap, crap, crap, I meant to cap that! The abuse was so obvious.

EDIT: And it's fixed.

My reason for doing it was mostly because I love David Eddings' "Belgariad," "Malloreon" and the two stand-alones, "Polgara the Sorceress" and "Belgarath the Sorcerer." It always bugged me that there was no real DnD way to recreate that sort of innate talent for sorcerery, without being inept at non-spellcasting activities. Mind you, it's much more broadly available here than in Eddings' work, but, then, I also like Final Fantasy VI's magic system, too :smalltongue:

urkthegurk
2009-11-10, 02:49 AM
In Eddings, the spellcasters are clearly sorcerers, and they pretty much specialize in spellcasting. Sure, a couple of them are cross-class, but that's why they keep all the fighters and rangers and rogues around, to do all the melee, while they cast their force-of-your-will magic. In fact, with a tweaked race system, and unifying arcane and divine magic, you could run a Belgariad campaign with standard D+D rules pretty easily. Most of the monsters would just be re-skinned too.
And learning spellcasting as a skill would be the hardest, most complicated skill to learn. Let's see, you can learn how to hide, history, or how to bend the laws of space and time to your will. They cost the same number of points. For any class. Which do you pick??

An easier way to achieve the flavour of this would just require every spellcaster to make a skill check (say spellcraft for wizards and sorcerers, religion for paladins and clerics, and perform for bards. And druids, because druids should have to chant to cast their spells.) Make the DC 10+spell level+1/2 the effective level of the spell. So everyone basically gets heighten spell for free.
Then, allow everyone to have their choice of a spellcasting class as an added favoured class. ta da! Finished! And no rules have to die in complicated ways!

Dante & Vergil
2009-11-10, 02:38 PM
And learning spellcasting as a skill would be the hardest, most complicated skill to learn. Let's see, you can learn how to hide, history, or how to bend the laws of space and time to your will. They cost the same number of points. For any class. Which do you pick??

Ooo, oooo!!! I pick the last one!!!:smallcool:


An easier way to achieve the flavour of this would just require every spellcaster to make a skill check (say spellcraft for wizards and sorcerers, religion for paladins and clerics, and perform for bards. And druids, because druids should have to chant to cast their spells.) Make the DC 10+spell level+1/2 the effective level of the spell. So everyone basically gets heighten spell for free.
Then, allow everyone to have their choice of a spellcasting class as an added favoured class. ta da! Finished! And no rules have to die in complicated ways!

I think there are a couple of things wrong with the bolded part: 1) You do not have any stat modifier increase in there. I don't know whether or not that was on perpose, 2) If it stays at spel level + of the effective spell level, it doesn't change anything other than low level spells now have even lower DCs because there is no stat modifier (again don't know) and higher level spells are only slightly higher, again because of no stat inclusion. Did you mean + of the caster level instead of spell level? If that's the case, then I see where you are coming from.
The rest of what you said seems fine though.

urkthegurk
2009-11-10, 09:03 PM
I meant caster level. I wanted it so that you could toss out a fireball really east, but if you wanted a full level 10d6 fireball, you'd up the DC by five, because the caster level is 10. If you wanted a 20d6 fireball, you'd have to up the DC by 10.

I have no idea how this would work mechanically, but it captures the essence of requiring checks. I would also recommend that the check result be tied to the DC of the spell cast.

I actually have this option as a flaw in my game, but I don't allow people to gain any damage benefits from it. They just have to make a skill check, or the spell fizzles. But you get an extra feat!

Bogardan_Mage
2009-11-12, 12:36 AM
Step two: Add two more skills: Spellcasting (Divine) and Spellcasting (Arcane). The first is based off of Wisdom, the second, Intelligence. They are class skills for everyone.

Step Three: Everyone gets two more skill points to either: a) Put in those new skills or b) Enjoy, because skill points are fun.
[Emphasis mine]
I think that just because everyone can learn how to cast spells, there's no reason why everyone should be good at casting spells. Limit the classes that get spellcasting as class skills, and forget about the extra skill points (or give them only to select classes that would otherwise have spellcasting progressions). I like the idea of everyone being able to learn spells (the difference between what is a skill and what is a class feature isn't very well defined in Core fluff) but there's no reason why a dedicated warrior should be every bit as good as a dedicated wizard.

Dante & Vergil
2009-11-12, 02:52 AM
I thought that this system (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=5106.0) might help you garner a few ideas on how things might be done.

Corporate M
2009-11-13, 02:01 AM
I like the concept alot actually. Level 9 spells of a CL 20 is DC 39! Even if I take feats, have a high attribute, and maxout skill ranks I'll probably need to roll the magic (ironically..) 20! (I don't know if 20s are auto-success for skillchecks but to me if it's a 20, you should win without question..)

The trouble is as Milskidasith said, it kind of forces you to put skillpoints in spellcasting. Why would you bother putting ranks in diplomacy when you can put ranks in spellcasting and cast charm person?

I applaud you for atleast thinking outside the box and vaguely balancing the system by removing spellcasters completely and allowing all the fighters and barbarians to level in spellcaster at their own pace. But it has some flaws. I'd probably limit it somehow like The Force System in Star Wars revised.

In Star Wars revised, people had a mana equivalent and sometimes had to spare some HP to get the job done. I'd say your charisma score determines mana. (Seeing as wisdom/intelligence are key stats for better spellcasting as a whole) And spells change in mana/HP prices. Possibly costing more then usual on a case by case basis. Rage should cost a bit less then most level 3 spells for example.


It's not fullproof. But atleast with spells also costing HP/mana, or including some side effect like "make a fortitude save or grow fatigue". People might just decide to put ranks in diplomacy instead rather then risking leave themselves blind and on the floor crying in agony. Not so much so that noone picks spells at all. But enough to make them think about it. Not that it helped in Revised and everybody picked jedi anyway...

Anonymouswizard
2009-11-13, 11:08 AM
This sounds good, but how about not giving the extra skill points, make it cross-class for every class except for the spellcaster, and divide by class as well as school (so you haze wizarding enchantment, druid enchantment, cleric enchantment...). Then the points from the spellcaster class can be swapped out for magic skill points. This sounds resonable, as only those who study magic exclusively would be good at it, as well as having cool abilities.