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Firemage
2010-10-14, 12:59 PM
Ok, I admit first, that I haven't had the chance to play D&D as a pen&paper game yet.
However I played several other P&Ps, and know D&D from computer games, d20srd.org and OotS and this forum. I don't claim to really know the game, so bear with me.

Spellcasters are usually the strongest character classes, especially in later levels because of the "linear fighter - quadratic wizard" rule.
Discussions on this forum often revolve around how to make low tier classes stronger, especially by giving them something to counter spellcasters.

However I haven't found many attempts to nerf spellcasters.

I think spellcasters simply don't have any real weakness. Sure, wizards and sorcerers have a d4 HD/Level each, but what disadvantage is that, if the enemies can't reach them? Many combat spells decide the outcome of a fight on their own and the rest of the party is simply there to clean up the rest. Or at least it sounds like that from the discussions here.
As far as I've seen on d20srd.org practically all combat related spells have a casting time of one standard action, even spells like Shapechange or Time Stop.
So I come to the conclusion that the problem is, that others don't even have the time to prevent spellcasters doing their craft!

To that there would be a simple solution:
Make the casting time longer, especially for combat related spells!
My suggestion would be a casting time of 1 combat round per spell level for every spell that takes 1 standard action by the standard rules. Or make that 1 combat round per 2 spell levels, if my first suggestion was too extreme.
Quickened spells could half the casting time. Blasting Spells could do more damage acordingly, they could use some boost anyway imo.

What I want to achieve is, that wizards should be vulnerable due to their long casting time. They are still the match winners, but they must now be better protected, since the enemies have the time to reach the spellcaster if he's . This gives the other characters also the time to do something meaningful in the fight.

So, why haven't I seen this suggestion before? Have I simply missed it? Is there any in-game practical problem?

Duke of URL
2010-10-14, 01:08 PM
This would nerf casters, but it would also nerf players, too.

DM: "What are you doing this round, Bob?"
Bob: "Charging up my spell, just like last round. And the round before that."

Fun times.

You're better off slowing the progression of spells (gain new spell levels later, lower maximum spell level) or putting in a rule that no caster class can be advanced past character level / 2.

jiriku
2010-10-14, 03:51 PM
It's been suggested. You missed it. The other common suggestion is to make spells extremely unreliable and/or dangerous to cast.

None of the above methods really works all that well, because they don't address the root issue, which is that the effects that casters can create are more varied and more powerful than the effects that noncasters can create.

Better mechanics would include:
1) slower spell progression, delaying access to better spells. This is partially effective, but not completely so because the game still doesn't include appropriate high-level effects for non-casting characters.
2) fewer spells known and spells per day, so that casters have fewer options and must use their resources more sparingly. This is actually a pretty decent idea, but requires rewriting the spell progression charts for 15+ classes.
3) Targeted nerfs/bans aimed at certain broken spells. Necessary for any truly effective fix, but horribly time-consuming because the game includes over a thousand spells. Difficult to calibrate, because "broken" is a very subjective thing.

Using all three of these methods in conjunction would be pretty effective, but would require a significant investment in time and resources, and the end result would be different enough from regular 3.5 D&D that others likely wouldn't want to use your system as-is... which means that your effort isn't portable to anyone else's game.

T.G. Oskar
2010-10-14, 04:41 PM
Ok, I admit first, that I haven't had the chance to play D&D as a pen&paper game yet.
However I played several other P&Ps, and know D&D from computer games, d20srd.org and OotS and this forum. I don't claim to really know the game, so bear with me.

Spellcasters are usually the strongest character classes, especially in later levels because of the "linear fighter - quadratic wizard" rule.
Discussions on this forum often revolve around how to make low tier classes stronger, especially by giving them something to counter spellcasters.

However I haven't found many attempts to nerf spellcasters.

I think spellcasters simply don't have any real weakness. Sure, wizards and sorcerers have a d4 HD/Level each, but what disadvantage is that, if the enemies can't reach them? Many combat spells decide the outcome of a fight on their own and the rest of the party is simply there to clean up the rest. Or at least it sounds like that from the discussions here.
As far as I've seen on d20srd.org practically all combat related spells have a casting time of one standard action, even spells like Shapechange or Time Stop.
So I come to the conclusion that the problem is, that others don't even have the time to prevent spellcasters doing their craft!

To that there would be a simple solution:
Make the casting time longer, especially for combat related spells!
My suggestion would be a casting time of 1 combat round per spell level for every spell that takes 1 standard action by the standard rules. Or make that 1 combat round per 2 spell levels, if my first suggestion was too extreme.
Quickened spells could half the casting time. Blasting Spells could do more damage acordingly, they could use some boost anyway imo.

What I want to achieve is, that wizards should be vulnerable due to their long casting time. They are still the match winners, but they must now be better protected, since the enemies have the time to reach the spellcaster if he's . This gives the other characters also the time to do something meaningful in the fight.

So, why haven't I seen this suggestion before? Have I simply missed it? Is there any in-game practical problem?

Delaying their spellcasting may be good, but to that degree is obscenely wrong. If only cantrips and orisons are meant to be standard action spells (as per the rule that 0-level spells are treated as 1/2 level spells), then spellcasters couldn't be capable of doing anything because they could be disrupted pretty easily and they wouldn't be capable of handling any battle whatsoever. So it'd be a massive nerf.

I'd suggest something different: make any standard action spell a full-round spell (somewhat like Summon Monster/Summon Nature's Ally spells), and offer the ability to either cast the spell faster (as a standard action) but be more vulnerable to disrupting or cast the spell defensively but cast the spell slower (not slower as 1-round; full-round is enough). Make that apply only to full spellcasters; bards, paladins and rangers might cast as standard actions (and with Battle Blessing, paladins can cast as swift) actions. If necessary, Quicken Spell can exist, but as usual.


It's been suggested. You missed it. The other common suggestion is to make spells extremely unreliable and/or dangerous to cast.

None of the above methods really works all that well, because they don't address the root issue, which is that the effects that casters can create are more varied and more powerful than the effects that noncasters can create.

Better mechanics would include:
1) slower spell progression, delaying access to better spells. This is partially effective, but not completely so because the game still doesn't include appropriate high-level effects for non-casting characters.
2) fewer spells known and spells per day, so that casters have fewer options and must use their resources more sparingly. This is actually a pretty decent idea, but requires rewriting the spell progression charts for 15+ classes.
3) Targeted nerfs/bans aimed at certain broken spells. Necessary for any truly effective fix, but horribly time-consuming because the game includes over a thousand spells. Difficult to calibrate, because "broken" is a very subjective thing.

Using all three of these methods in conjunction would be pretty effective, but would require a significant investment in time and resources, and the end result would be different enough from regular 3.5 D&D that others likely wouldn't want to use your system as-is... which means that your effort isn't portable to anyone else's game.

I'd agree on the first side, but more as a switch:
Sorcerers, Favored Souls and other spontaneous spellcasters (including spontaneous specialists) retain their list of spells per day and spells known, but they gain spells one level earlier. It may seem like a weird change, but its easier to see on a table. That way, it makes sense for spontaneous spellcasters to exist against prepared; they gain spells faster, and they gain more spells, but fewer spells known.

Wizards, Clerics, Druids and other prepared spellcasters retain their spells per day, but they gain new spell levels one level later. That way, prepared spellcasting makes more sense; you take more time to learn to prepare higher level spells, but since you can learn far more spells than the Sorcerer, you still have an edge.

Bards, Paladins, Rangers and other non-full spellcasters, including spellcasting gained from Prestige Classes (gained, not advanced) remains the same. Those would require a much closer examination.

As for fewer spells known/per day, that's a really bad idea. You rarely get a justification for allowing so few spells. Perhaps you might target Pearls of Power or Rings of Wizardry, if you want, but if they reach higher levels, let them.

As for broken spells...I'm starting to consider that those spells should be turned into incantations, instead of spells. Gate, Polymoprh, Shapechange...those could be well as incantations, since that means they wouldn't be the province of spellcasters exclusively, they would allow backlashes, and they'd require a much larger casting time which means no metamagic time-reducing shenanigans. Since everybody could use it, then it wouldn't be an advantage. Though, I do agree; it's quite a task, and some spells don't merit becoming incantations but still will be broken (Celerity, for example).

Analytica
2010-10-14, 05:29 PM
Suppose prepared casters like wizards or clerics had a limited set of spells known (smaller than the sorcerer´s, maybe like the spirit shaman´s). These could be cast spontaneously. All other spells take something like spell level squared to cast, in the form of a ritual. You can always do something, but you can´t prepare for complex strategies or perform very long buff sequences.

137ben
2010-10-14, 05:40 PM
As an alternative to re-writing the spell progressions for every class in the game, I had previously made a simple formula to reduce spellcasters available slots. This only works for casters who use a format similar to either the wizard or sorcerer (e.g. it does not fix psion). It also leaves room for some martial classes (i.e. fighters) to get an additional buff:

The spells per day a caster gets is multiplied by some factor, different for each level. The factor is 1 - (Log[x]/Log[27]). Cantrips are NOT affected by this. Specifically, multiply the spells per day for each spell level by
1--1
2--0.78969
3--0.666667
4--0.57938
5--0.511675
6--0.456357
7--0.409585
8--0.36907
9--0.333333
10/epic--0.301366

Bonus spells: add in bonus spells BEFORE the spells/day multiplier. Of course after you have factored this in round down. If this formula would reduce the spells/day (including bonus spells) to 0, the caster loses the ability to cast spells of that level. Additionally, if the core rules indicate that the caster can cast 0+bonus spells of a specific level per day (e.g. the PHB says 2nd level bard gets 0+bonus 1st level spells), then the caster loses the ability to cast spells of that level REGARDLESS OF BONUS SPELLS. 0th level spells are not affected by this, but 1st level spells are.
This leaves the 20th level wizard's spells/day at 4/4/3/2/2/2/1/1/1/1.
Note that because bonus spells are applied before rounding, some of these numbers will be higher (8th and 9th level spells, however, probably won't be).
A 20th level sorcerer has 6/6/4/4/3/3/2/2/2/2/1. The sorcerer has a much better chance of getting a bonus 9th level spell than the wizard. This is okay, since in core the wizard is much better than the sorcerer, so its okay if sorcerers are not hurt as badly. This actually makes the wizard and sorcerer a lot closer in power (before, the wizard at very high levels would usually have the right spell prepared, destroying the sorcerer's advantage of not needing to prepare spells. This change makes it much harder for the wizard to have every necessary spell prepared). Because low level spells are hurt less than high level, classes like paladin and ranger will still have nearly the same amount of casting as they do in core.
The cleric's bonus domain spell can be treated like a bonus spell from a high wisdom score. If the core rules indicate that a cleric gains access to domain powers of a certain level, they gain the ability to cast the domain spell for that level as well as any other domain abilities that go with it. However, they do not automatically receive an extra slot to prepare that spell in. That extra slot instead becomes a bonus spell. Calculate what the cleric's spells/day would be both with AND without the extra bonus spell. If the domain bonus spell ends up giving an extra spell per day, then one spell/day of that level must be used for a domain spell.

This modification does not fix psions, or spellcasters with non-standard spell progressions. It also must be used alongside fixes for truly broken systems (such as polymorphing). But overall, it works quite well and does not require that much work to re-write spell progressions.

firemagehao
2010-10-14, 05:49 PM
If you want nerfed spellcasters, you could always just play 4E. They just gave everyone magic (essentially).

Revan Ordo
2010-10-15, 12:25 PM
Here’s a suggestion of mine. First, limit their number of spells known. Not sure how to do this, so someone else give it a think. Second, make it so that casting a lot of spells in a short time can be risky if you’re not careful while simultaneously making the Spellcraft skill more vital to spellcasters.

One thing I did in a campaign to deal with this issue was to make spellcasting more risky.

New Spellcasting Mechanic

Casters can cast any number of spells of each spell level they have access to per day. However, casting non cantrip/orison spells takes a physical toll on the caster causing weariness. In order to cast a spell, you must make a Spellcraft check versus the DC for that level. If they succeed the spell is cast as normal. If they fail, the caster cannot complete the spell and takes a certain amount of subdual damage as per the table below. Casters may not 'take 10' or 'take 20' on this check. (Although creating a PrC with this as an ability usable x times / day or a feat that does this wouldn’t be a bad idea).

Also for each spell cast within 1 minute of casting any other spell, you suffer a -1 penalty to your Spellcraft check for casting spells. For example, if a character casts one spell per round for three rounds (a total of 18 seconds), the first check suffers no penalty, the second suffers a -1 penalty, the third suffers a -2 penalty. If he casts another spell 5 rounds later, he suffers a -3 penalty.

Spellcasters also find it harder to make the Spellcraft check when they have multiple spells active at once. For every spell a character has active, he suffers a -1 penalty to the check for other spells cast during that period. This penalty is cumulative with the penalty for multiple castings within a minute.

I know the numbers in the table below probably need to be adjusted, this is just a quick example of the Spellcraft DCs and the Subdual Damage by spell level.

{table]Spell Level|Spellcraft DC|Subdual Damage
1st|10|3
2nd|15|6
3rd|20|9
4th|25|12
5th|30|15
6th|35|18
7th|40|21
8th|45|24
9th|50|27[/table]

Just my 2cp worth, feel free to borrow and rework as needed to suit your campaign.

jiriku
2010-10-15, 03:08 PM
The trouble with making spells difficult and dangerous (and especially with using skill checks do so), is that learning to optimize skill checks is difficult in D&D 3.5, but it is a thing you can learn to do.

A novice player will try to get by with skill ranks and an Int bonus, and he'll suck, because the DCs will quickly outstrip his ability to meet them, and he'll knock himself unconcious just trying to participate in the game.

Meanwhile, a pro will take Craft Wondrous Item and build himself a rack of items granting bonuses to Spellcraft, then stack them with a masterwork tool, a +Int item, a spell granting skill bonuses, and a spell making himself immune to nonlethal damage, and more or less ignore the restriction.

Meanwhile, the poor fighter still cannot fly, teleport, summon allies, divine the future, or raise the dead. Casters, no matter what shenanigans they have to go through, still can.

Revan Ordo
2010-10-18, 07:42 AM
Of course the fighter cannot fly, teleport, summon allies, divine the future, or raise the dead, that is because he is a fighter, not a spellcaster.

If you want a fighter to be able to fly, teleport, summon allies, divine the future, or raise the dead, you should build a gish class / character.

If you want to make spellcasters more balanced, then find ways to limit their power.

To limit a spellcasters power:

1) Make spellcasting risky (i.e. see my spellcasting mechanic above, the numbers on the table could always be changed or adjusted if they are too high or come up with some other way to make it more difficult)

2) Decrease the number of spells known, thereby limiting spellcaster's versatility.

3) Reduce access to higher level spells. In one of my campaign's I altered all primary caster's so that their maximum spell level was 6th level pre-epic. I then changed the Bard's maximum spell level to 4th. Paladin's and Rangers were altered to have no spellcasting ability.

All of these combined made for caster's that were more balanced. Still they are going to be a little better than the fighter at higher levels, but not unreasonably so.

Set
2010-10-18, 08:32 AM
So, why haven't I seen this suggestion before? Have I simply missed it? Is there any in-game practical problem?

One of the complaints about mage vs. melee balance and how it's changed since 1st and 2nd editions, is that it's become so much harder to interrupt a spellcaster (barring a readied action, which holds the melees hostage, and can result in them getting no action at all if the spellcaster can take a 5 ft. step before casting and avoid the whole delayed action entirely...).

Instead of a huge casting time, just increasing all standard action spells to a one round casting time, should be enough. The fireball goes off on the caster's initiative in the following round, just like a Summon Monster spell.

And, to partially un-nerf this nerf, four to six levels after learning a level of spells, one is finally considered to have 'mastered' them, and can now cast them as standard actions again (so that 1st level mage has to use his move + standard action to cast magic missile, but at 5th level (or 7th level, depending on where you want the cutoff), when he gains fireball (or ice storm), he can finally cast magic missile as a standard action, although it will be quite some time before his fireballs (or ice storms) can be cast that fast...).

This brings back some of the difficulty of casting spells in melee that magic-users had to deal with in 1st and 2nd edition, and gives melee types a little more potential to spoil their efforts.

Godless_Paladin
2010-10-18, 10:55 AM
Remember: Balance is subordinate to a greater purpose in game design: Fun. It is a means to an end and a valuable ingredient in creating a good game, but it is not the end itself (otherwise "two players flip a coin, one wins the game forever" would be a great game. Totally balanced!).

Your acts of rebalancing should make the game more fun to play, not less. If they're not, then you're doing something wrong.


This would nerf casters, but it would also nerf players, too.

DM: "What are you doing this round, Bob?"
Bob: "Charging up my spell, just like last round. And the round before that."

Fun times.

Personally, I find it far easier (and, in my experience, more fun for all involved) to balance up from the Fighter, not down to it. Not only is it less work (since you don't have to, for example, completely redo the monster manuals), but you have more dynamic gameplay where players have cool things like "in-game options" and "plot affecting abilities other than hitting things with a sword."

Soulblazer87
2010-10-23, 04:23 PM
I know what you mean- and feel. I've had the same trouble forever. Wizards and sorcerers are pathetic at first-second level, good at third-fourth and absolutely unstoppable after five, actually broadening the gap immensely.

Like you I tried to nerf wizards and sorcerers. To that end, I began gathering several rules/ideas to make them back off a bit. I have no problem with fireballs or meteor swarms, but wishes and power word kills and fingers of death go a tad too far for my liking. Go here (http://www.dnd-wiki.org/wiki/User:Soulblazer_87/Nerfin'_Wizzies) for a few ideas on how to weaken them. Oh, and add E6 to the list as well if you'd like to play low-level games.