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View Full Version : Spell Points Ė why they never really work + a viable alternative



nonsi
2011-06-05, 02:43 PM
I tried countless variations of spell-points systems, but they always failed.
Also, every spell-points system Iíve ever encountered also failed.
The reason is that spellcasters either:
- gain too much to put on the high level spell.
- donít get enough to put on all spell levels.
Both may coexist, but itís impossible to resolve both with spell points.

The solution Iíve found to be effective was to make spell levels cost less with level progression while increasing the cost of newly acquired higher spell levels.
As much as I do my best to avoid the use of tables, this time it was the only practical solution.


The Motivation behind Strain & Tolerance

The idea is to have more flexibility to play around with the spell levels, but not as much as with having spell points, where you can stack all your points to gain a lot of higher-level spells.
Upon gaining a certain spell-level, one gains automatic access to a bit more than 1 or 2 spells of the given level, but at an evident expense in availability of lower level spells.
The recovery from spellcasting would be gradual rather than "all or nothing" upon full night's rest (yes/no).
Also, a high-level caster would not be able to pile up tons of spell-buffs ahead of combat and still have 80% of his fire power available for blasting & debuffing (....... and then go to sleep).

The objectives (all of equal priority) are as follows:
1. No more "Fire & Forget".
2. More versatility at the expense of raw spellpower capacity.
3. Preserving the classic literature theme, where spellcasters are taxed by spellcasting and can overcast.
4. The ability to regain some spell power in between sleep-time periods.
5. Getting rid of all Spells-Per-Day tables.



Strain & Tolerance:

When a Spellcaster casts a spell, he has to channel a portion of the magical forces he's using through his own body. This is taxing both physically and mentally, and is the basic limiting factor that determines how many spells a Spellcaster can cast without resting.
Every Spellcaster has a Strain-Tolerance score that's equal to his [main spellcasting ability score] + [caster-level] + [Con-mod] (with this approach, btw, all casters are full spellcasters).
As the Spellcaster casts more spells, the Strain accumulates. When he spends enough time resting, the strain decreases. As long as the total Strain a Spellcaster has accumulated is lower than his Strain Tolerance, the Spellcaster suffers no ill effect. Continuing to cast spells once his Strain is over his Tolerance, however, is extremely taxing on a Spellcaster's body and mind. As soon as a Spellcaster's total Strain exceeds his Tolerance, he becomes fatigued. If a fatigued Spellcaster wishes to cast another spell, he must first make a Fort save with a DC equal to (20 + the spell's level + the amount of Strain he has over his Tolerance prior to casting the spell). If the save is successful, the Spellcaster casts the spell as normal. If the save is failed, the spell fizzles with no effect and the Spellcaster takes damage equal to the spell's strain-toll.
A Spellcaster loses one point of Strain per hour if he does not cast spells, fight, run, or otherwise exerts himself. A Spellcaster who is fatigued due to excess Strain ceases to be fatigued as soon as his total Strain is no longer over his Tolerance. However, a Spellcaster does not recover strain while exhausted. During sleep, a Spellcaster loses 3 Strain points per hour. If he completes his night's rest, he loses additional points equal to his main casting ability modifier + CON-mod.

Here's the Strain-Costs table for the Druid, Mage, Priest and Witch.
(Note: At high class levels, some spells have no Strain Cost, and this is fine - a powerful spellcaster should be able to cast basic spells all day long)




Strain-Costs table: Primary Spellcasters



Caster <--- --- Strain Cost by SL --- --->
Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
===========================================
1 4 7 - - - - - - - -
2 4 6 - - - - - - - -
3 3 6 7 - - - - - - -
4 3 5 6 - - - - - - -
5 2 5 6 7 - - - - - -
6 2 4 5 6 - - - - - -
7 1 4 5 6 8 - - - - -
8 1 3 4 5 7 - - - - -
9 0 3 4 5 7 8 - - - -
10 0 2 3 4 6 7 - - - -
11 0 2 3 4 6 7 8 - - -
12 0 1 2 3 5 6 7 - - -
13 0 1 2 3 5 6 7 9 - -
14 0 0 1 2 4 5 6 8 - -
15 0 0 1 2 4 5 6 8 9 -
16 0 0 0 1 3 4 5 7 8 -
17 0 0 0 1 3 4 5 7 8 9
18 0 0 0 0 2 3 4 6 7 8
19 0 0 0 0 2 3 4 6 7 8
20 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 6 7



Strain-Costs table: Bard



Caster <-- -- Strain Cost -- -->
Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6
===============================
1 5 - - - - - -
2 5 7 - - - - -
3 4 7 - - - - -
4 4 7 - - - - -
5 4 6 7 - - - -
6 3 6 7 - - - -
7 3 6 7 - - - -
8 3 5 6 7 - - -
9 2 5 6 7 - - -
10 2 5 6 7 - - -
11 2 4 5 6 8 - -
12 1 4 5 6 8 - -
13 1 4 5 6 8 - -
14 1 3 4 5 7 8 -
15 0 3 4 5 7 8 -
16 0 3 4 5 7 8 -
17 0 2 3 4 6 7 8
18 0 2 3 4 6 7 8
19 0 2 3 4 6 7 8
20 0 1 2 3 5 6 7



Warrior Spellcasters



Caster <-- Strain Cost --->
Level 0 1 2 3 4 5
===========================
1 5 - - - - -
2 5 - - - - -
3 5 - - - - -
4 5 7 - - - -
5 4 7 - - - -
6 4 7 - - - -
7 4 7 - - - -
8 3 6 7 - - -
9 3 6 7 - - -
10 3 6 7 - - -
11 3 5 7 - - -
12 2 5 6 9 - -
13 2 5 6 9 - -
14 2 5 6 9 - -
15 1 4 5 9 - -
16 1 4 5 8 9 -
17 1 4 5 8 9 -
18 1 3 5 8 9 -
19 0 3 4 7 9 -
20 0 3 4 7 8 11





Writer's insights:
Although I quite resent the need to "go to the tables to figure the numbers", I find several significant advantages to this spellcasting mechanism.
- Going NOVA (relying almost exclusively on the highest SLs) would result in rapid resources exhaustion, quickly leaving you next to powerless. OTOH, relying on lower level spells when possible would significantly lengthen a spellcaster's "work day" and allow him to remain relevant for much longer periods of time before he needs to rest to renew his spell access (thus keeping low level spells relevant). This result could not be achieved with a spell-points system where there's a linear increase in cost according to SL.
- The numbers also add up for a faster strain recovery.
- The Bard does not really become a utilitarian, but that's quite ok - that's not the Bard's role.

Shpadoinkle
2011-06-05, 03:50 PM
This looks like a really good fix for the spell point casting variant... I'd adopt it if not for the fact that casters don't need any more help.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-05, 03:59 PM
Is this based on Surgo and Lord Blackfang's mana-based system?
They're fairly similar, though you're recovery mechanic is a bit slower and you actually have tables for the half casters.
All in all it's probably a wash between the two but I'd probably use their strain mechanics with your half caster tables.

nonsi
2011-06-06, 12:12 AM
Is this based on Surgo and Lord Blackfang's mana-based system?

Actually it is.
I've encountered Lord Blackfang's rules way back on Gleemax, but since they upgraded (downgraded actually) their website it was gone and I haven't seen it since.
I "polished" his progression table a bit to make the strain reduction more uniform and doubled the level-based tolerance to give just a bit more.



They're fairly similar, though you're recovery mechanic is a bit slower and you actually have tables for the half casters.

Do you happen to remember what's their recovery mechanic ?

Seerow
2011-06-06, 12:26 AM
First I am assuming this strain mechanic intended to be the only restrictive mechanic, rather than meant to be used in conjunction with a standard spellpoint system, with this as the limitation on high level spells. If this assumption is incorrect, please correct me.


It seems like it works out okay, though the costs are -really- harsh on the warrior casters, who typically have more MAD, thus less con and casting modifier, half caster level, AND pay more for their crappy 4th level spells than a primary caster pays for a 9th level spell. Recovery feels a little slow at high level, where you have 40 or so points of strain, and regain 1 point per hour or 3 points per hour while sleeping... so you're looking at a solid 16 hours of sleep necessary to fully recharge. I'd make it a full night's sleep is a full refresh, and if you're going to have strain recover that slowly during the day, just don't have it recover at all, it won't make a difference, and the caster has a low enough strain on his lower level slots (free casting anything up to 3rd level, **** yeah!) that he can get by, even if he's hating life.

nonsi
2011-06-06, 01:16 AM
First I am assuming this strain mechanic intended to be the only restrictive mechanic, rather than meant to be used in conjunction with a standard spellpoint system, with this as the limitation on high level spells. If this assumption is incorrect, please correct me.

This assumption is correct.




It seems like it works out okay, though the costs are -really- harsh on the warrior casters, who typically have more MAD, thus less con and casting modifier, half caster level, AND pay more for their crappy 4th level spells than a primary caster pays for a 9th level spell.

1. Quote: "(with this approach, btw, all casters are full spellcasters)".
2. Very few would argue with the statement that Paladins & Rangers need more. Furthermore, I see their spellcasting as an auxiliary tool for times of need, not their main shtick.
3. I see no problem in making full melees' spellcasting Con-based (especially for a Duskblade remake).




Recovery feels a little slow at high level, where you have 40 or so points of strain, and regain 1 point per hour or 3 points per hour while sleeping...

I know. I'm counting on a reply from Epsilon Rose for some more details on faster recovery before I make up one of my own.

nonsi
2011-06-06, 01:17 AM
This looks like a really good fix for the spell point casting variant... I'd adopt it if not for the fact that casters don't need any more help.

I find that they do.
Too much immediately available raw power, too little on-the-fly versatility.
Going to sleep if you didn't happen to be lucky enough to select an appropriate spell is dumb. And spont. casters just don't have enough spell repertoire for me to be comfortable with.

Seerow
2011-06-06, 01:46 AM
1. Quote: "(with this approach, btw, all casters are full spellcasters)".

I saw that but thought it was pretty unclear. It should say something like "All casters have caster level equal to their class level".



3. I see no problem in making full melees' spellcasting Con-based (especially for a Duskblade remake).

So making it add double con mod, rather than relying on their int/wis? I guess I could see that working.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-06, 02:30 AM
There's a copy on d&d wiki. (http://www.dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Mana-Based_Spellcasting_%283.5e_Variant_Rule%29) I've actually been linking it allot lately... I should probably just add it to my sig.

The main differences are you have strain = your casting stat (not the mod) + half your caster level and you recover strain at character level (up to casting mod) per hour plus a full recovery for 8hrs sleep.

nonsi
2011-06-06, 12:37 PM
There's a copy on d&d wiki. (http://www.dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Mana-Based_Spellcasting_%283.5e_Variant_Rule%29) I've actually been linking it allot lately... I should probably just add it to my sig.

The main differences are you have strain = your casting stat (not the mod) + half your caster level and you recover strain at character level (up to casting mod) per hour plus a full recovery for 8hrs sleep.


Thanks. It helped.
I find their recovery mechanic quite appropriate, but I still find it appropriate to use CL for the strain tolerance score, otherwise a spellcaster would "burn out" a bit too soon for my personal taste.

Thrice Dead Cat
2011-06-06, 01:35 PM
I find that they do.
Too much immediately available raw power, too little on-the-fly versatility.
Going to sleep if you didn't happen to be lucky enough to select an appropriate spell is dumb. And spont. casters just don't have enough spell repertoire for me to be comfortable with.

Spontaneous casters and most divine casters are SOL, but archivists and wizards can leave "iffy" slots open for a quick 15 minute re-prep. Also, nothing in the spell points rules really stop the nova aspect of higher level spells.

If you want to keep players on their toes but don't want a new system, just vary the number of encounters in a day. Either ask them not to use rope trick or do a way that counters it. If 6 schmucks are invading a castle and they all go missing after ~20 minutes, then you'd better believe they have a warlock scanning the area with detect magic in case of rope trick.:smallwink: It's a little heavy handed, but, eh, it works.


More seriously, if you love spell points, just use the psionic rules instead. They can still nova things to death, but they are much, much more limited in their applications of power.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-06, 01:47 PM
Thanks. It helped.
I find their recovery mechanic quite appropriate, but I still find it appropriate to use CL for the strain tolerance score, otherwise a spellcaster would "burn out" a bit too soon for my personal taste.

I think that's actually the point. They burn out quickly so nova-ings a bit harder and you have to be a bit more conservative on the encounter level, but at the same time they regain their strain allot quicker so you can recover from being "burned out" without having to stop adventuring.

Seerow
2011-06-06, 02:32 PM
I think that's actually the point. They burn out quickly so nova-ings a bit harder and you have to be a bit more conservative on the encounter level, but at the same time they regain their strain allot quicker so you can recover from being "burned out" without having to stop adventuring.

Indeed, when I first read concept of the system before thinking too hard about the details presented, I was thinking it would work great as an ammendum to the generic spell points system. ie a player could cast a set number of spell points per day (or even with the regular spell slots system), but strain limits how much they could cast in a short period of time, but then strain recovers very quickly, like recovers fully in 5 minutes of rest. In that sort of system, you could make the strain much more restrictive, and have lower level spells generate less strain. This way strain is there -just- to prevent a wizard from going nova and blowing all his points on high level spells in one encounter, rather than being the sole resource system.

This is obviously pretty different from what was actually given in the crunch of the OP, but I'm thinking it may be a solid way to take this for my own projects. It would at the very least work wonders at reducing the 5 minute workday effect, while still leaving a daily resource that needs to be managed, which makes it easier to balance with encounter based effects.

nonsi
2011-06-06, 03:49 PM
This is obviously pretty different from what was actually given in the crunch of the OP, but I'm thinking it may be a solid way to take this for my own projects. It would at the very least work wonders at reducing the 5 minute workday effect, while still leaving a daily resource that needs to be managed, which makes it easier to balance with encounter based effects.

So what would you use, full CL for strain tolerance or 1/2 CL ?

Seerow
2011-06-06, 03:58 PM
So what would you use, full CL for strain tolerance or 1/2 CL ?

With your current mechanic? It depends what you're aiming for. I'd personally go with full CL. Right now you have CL+Stat+Con Mod, so an average wizard is looking at ~60ish strain before penalties. Assuming your primary recovery is only once per day, rather than encounter based as I was thinking, that allows a wizard to cast 8-9 9th level spells per day, or many more lower level spells.

Restricting it to half CL, your limit isn't actually reduced a lot. Your primary driving force is your primary casting stat. So with the half CL you lose basically 1-2 9th level spells per day. So if you wanted to make it more restricted, it's a knob that you can turn without worrying about scaling too much.


As an aside: If you want to make the fatigue/exhaustion penalty more felt by the casters who are going to be using the mechanic, consider making those penalties to str/dex apply to all stats instead. A mage might not care about -6 str, but -6 int is going to hurt him a lot.

nonsi
2011-06-06, 04:42 PM
With your current mechanic? It depends what you're aiming for. I'd personally go with full CL. Right now you have CL+Stat+Con Mod, so an average wizard is looking at ~60ish strain before penalties. Assuming your primary recovery is only once per day, rather than encounter based as I was thinking, that allows a wizard to cast 8-9 9th level spells per day, or many more lower level spells.

Restricting it to half CL, your limit isn't actually reduced a lot. Your primary driving force is your primary casting stat. So with the half CL you lose basically 1-2 9th level spells per day. So if you wanted to make it more restricted, it's a knob that you can turn without worrying about scaling too much.


As an aside: If you want to make the fatigue/exhaustion penalty more felt by the casters who are going to be using the mechanic, consider making those penalties to str/dex apply to all stats instead. A mage might not care about -6 str, but -6 int is going to hurt him a lot.


Ok, one thing I didn't want to mention so far, so it won't get in the way, is that in my house rules mental stats cannot be raised by mortal means of any sort, only direct devine intervention.
Also I tend to prefer the faster recovery.
Anyway, given the above, even the most ambitious build would probably not exceed tolerance 48 (level 20 + stat 23 + con-mod 5). This would allow 6 9th level spells within a short period of time, but that would leave you quite out of the picture for several hours (and it's not all that different than 4 9th level spells).
I'm still considering using 1/2 CL, limiting to just 5 9th level spells in a given time, but the road to level 20 should also be taken into account and it seems like spellcasters would be left with too little tolerance for a decent daily get-by.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-06, 06:44 PM
Ok, one thing I didn't want to mention so far, so it won't get in the way, is that in my house rules mental stats cannot be raised by mortal means of any sort, only direct devine intervention.

I'm fairly certain that's not a common rule, and you can't balance a system against it. That said, saying temporary or item based enchantments don't effect strain (or at least tolerances, it might be reasonable to let them affect regen) might be interesting.



I'm still considering using 1/2 CL, limiting to just 5 9th level spells in a given time, but the road to level 20 should also be taken into account and it seems like spellcasters would be left with too little tolerance for a decent daily get-by.

That brings up an interesting point about this system. Spell casters don't actually need to fully recharge all the time and balancing how long you're taking to recharge/set an ambush vs how much energy you spend per fight vs any time constraints could lead to some interesting play (and actually make the time between fights relevant).

Shpadoinkle
2011-06-06, 07:57 PM
too little on-the-fly versatility.

Three counter-arguments:
-1 Scrolls
-2 Wands
-3 Staffs

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-06, 09:15 PM
Three counter-arguments:
-1 Scrolls
-2 Wands
-3 Staffs

I don't think I've ever happily used any of those. I absolutely hate spending on throwaway expendables.

Seerow
2011-06-06, 09:20 PM
I don't think I've ever happily used any of those. I absolutely hate spending on throwaway expendables.

Really? I have yet to see a primary caster played who didn't make heavy use of all 3. Scrolls in particular are dirt cheap even at low levels, and 50 charges goes a long way for the spells you use more frequently.

SiuiS
2011-06-07, 04:00 PM
I have tried using scrolls, wands and staves because the Internet suggests it, but I too have never done so satisfactorily. While assuming their use makes perfect sense when fine-tooling, I have NEVER seen this work in game play. It's always been either;

Wealth by Level is barely acknowledged as a guideline, let alone a rule. There just isn't enough for this, and what money there is is better spent on equipment or fluffing the wizard's spell book

Mony is accumulated, pooled, and a single potent magic item bought that will guarantee party success; magic armor for the guy who keeps getting dropped. Weapon improvements for the weakest attacker. Something to keep the animal companion alive. Etc.

I think I will adapt this mechanic for a game. Currently, vancian is the rule of the day due to the movement of the stars and planets, but I can probably segue it in somehow.

A question: how does the system handle specialization? If I am a focused specialist, I get 3 extra spells per day, specifically of my focused school. How would this possibly work? Less strain, greater pool of tolerance for that school only?

EDIT: a thought. If specialization was returned to being a caster level increase, it would solve things. Specialists gain +1 CL in their chosen school, -1 else where. Focused specialists gain +3 CL instead. Schools that are banned are still banned. Would this pan out?

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-07, 07:29 PM
Mony is accumulated, pooled, and a single potent magic item bought that will guarantee party success; magic armor for the guy who keeps getting dropped. Weapon improvements for the weakest attacker. Something to keep the animal companion alive. Etc.
Yeah, that's what I've seen happen.



EDIT: a thought. If specialization was returned to being a caster level increase, it would solve things. Specialists gain +1 CL in their chosen school, -1 else where. Focused specialists gain +3 CL instead. Schools that are banned are still banned. Would this pan out?

Are you saying that the normal specialists couldn't ban schools? I sorta like that dichotomy.

SiuiS
2011-06-07, 09:07 PM
My initial reaction was to give a sizable penalty to 'banned' schools, or at double the strain, or some such. I changed my mind halfway through, though, and I guess I didn't rewrite that part correctly.

Actually, I think I was looking at the formula wrong. A specialist should use the strain-costs table as if they were a level higher (for specialty) or 5 lower (for barred schools). A focused specialist would use +3 and -9 instead.

These were my original thoughts, but I'm still mulling it over. I want to apply this in an upcoming game, but our main caster is a focused necromancer. So I can't just use it as is, I need to figure out the ramifications first.

Chambers
2011-06-07, 09:54 PM
This seems like an interesting alternative and while I understand the reasoning behind "high level mages shouldn't have to strain over casting their lowest level spells" that just further widens the gap between caster and non-casting classes.


Also, a high-level caster would not be able to pile up tons of spell-buffs ahead of combat and still have 80% of his fire power available for blasting & debuffing (....... and then go to sleep).

This isn't true. Here's a list of 1st through 3rd level Sor/Wiz spells that would be good spells from that level to have cast on you. Obviously not every Wizard will know all these spells, but it's entirely conceivable for a 20th level Wizard to have the majority of them in his or her spellsbooks from WBL alone.
Endure Elements
Protection from X
Shield
Mage Armor
Comprehend Languages
Floating Disk
Disguise Self
Enlarge Person
Jump

---

Portection from Arrows
Resist Energy
See Invisibility
Blur
Invisibility
Mirror Image
False Life
Alter Self
Bear's Endurance
Cat's Grace
Darkvision
Eagle's Splendor
Fox's Cunning
Owl's Wisdom
Spider Climb

---

Magic Circle vs X
Nondetection
Protection from X
Arcane Sight
Tongues
Heroism
Displacement
Invisibility Sphere
Blink
Fly
Gaseous Form
haste
Greater Magic Weapon

If the Wizard has these spells in his spellbook there's no mechanical reason for him not to have them constantly active. There are role-playing reasons, sure, but not mechanically. They don't cost him anything (aside from any material component costs, which would likewise be trivial for a 20th level Wizard).

So while I think spell points are a cool idea and I wish Arcane casting worked more like Psionics, giving Casters their spells for free doesn't make the game more balanced.

nonsi
2011-06-08, 05:03 AM
This isn't true. Here's a list of 1st through 3rd level Sor/Wiz spells that would be good spells from that level to have cast on you. Obviously not every Wizard will know all these spells, but it's entirely conceivable for a 20th level Wizard to have the majority of them in his or her spellsbooks from WBL alone.


And an infinite supply of the spells you mentioned is a balance shifting factor when facing a Balor / Solar / Pit Fiend / Demilich / huge red dragon... because.............. ?

Chambers
2011-06-08, 07:16 AM
And an infinite supply of the spells you mentioned is a balance shifting factor when facing a Balor / Solar / Pit Fiend / Demilich / huge red dragon... because.............. ?

It's the balance between party members, not vs enemies that I'm talking about. The difference between casting classes and non-casting classes.

My point is that the game is not balanced already with respect to the classes, and giving the most powerful classes in the game extra spells for free makes them more powerful.

Dryad
2011-06-08, 08:21 AM
While I really like the idea, I have to say a few things on it:
First off: This is just an inverted way of using spell points, really, even though it has the added benefit of the 'spell point cost' of spells being lowered as the character progresses. Of that I greatly approve!
It also grants the ability to over-channel, even though I personally think the DC of overchannelling is too harsh, and the cost is not grave enough. ;)
I would suggest lowering the significantly, so that the spell has a very good chance of succeeding, but making the price constant, no matter whether or not you succeed in casting the spell. This makes it less RNG, and more reliant on personal choice and sacrifice. By making it more likely to succeed, but more punishing either way, I think the choice itself becomes more interesting, and casting spells becomes less static.
So... That's all I would suggest. :)

For all the rest: I think this idea is wonderful; the reduction in 'spell-point-cost' during character progression makes it more lively, and even it is only a small difference on paper, I think it makes all the difference in the world in terms of game-play. I'd say: If overstraining would be more of a choice and less of a fluke, I'd implement this as a house-rule system for all my d20 stories. ^_^

nonsi
2011-06-08, 12:07 PM
For all the rest: I think this idea is wonderful; the reduction in 'spell-point-cost' during character progression makes it more lively, and even it is only a small difference on paper, I think it makes all the difference in the world in terms of game-play. I'd say: If overstraining would be more of a choice and less of a fluke, I'd implement this as a house-rule system for all my d20 stories. ^_^

You're not dependant upon my "good will" and can modify these mechanics as you see fit.
Go ahead and abuse it to your hear's content.

Personally, I'm not comfortable with spellcasters overcharging on a regular basis.
Going back to the Dragonlance stories, it was quite obvious that the very thought of overcharging made Raistlin cringe and I wish to preserve this theme.

Dryad
2011-06-08, 03:09 PM
Oh, I absolutely agree with that. I just think it shouldn't amount to an near auto-failure, and only the failure being punished. Instead, I would like to see a good chance of succeeding, but a hefty price. In order to make people not wŠnt to overchannel, but still allow them a good chance if they absolutely need to.

I wouldn't see that as abusing. I mean; as it stands now, in the system above, I wouldn't overchannel simply because I'd be convinced it wouldn't work anyway, and failure is pain. Lots of pain, no gain. If I really, really, really needed the spell, I would not use it simply because trying to use it would hurt me more than not even trying at all.

The Wheel of Time system has a madness thing included for (male) channelers. When they overchannel, this not only takes a physical toll, but a mental one, as well, slowly driving the channeler insane if they become greedy.
The thought over overstraining should make people cringe, yes. But that doesn't mean it should be made nearly impossible by pure chance.

nonsi
2011-06-08, 05:26 PM
I wouldn't see that as abusing. I mean; as it stands now, in the system above, I wouldn't overchannel simply because I'd be convinced it wouldn't work anyway, and failure is pain. Lots of pain, no gain. If I really, really, really needed the spell, I would not use it simply because trying to use it would hurt me more than not even trying at all.

Ok, how does Will save vs. DC 15 + SL + strain overtax sound ?
Or should it be 10 + double strain overtax, to make you prioritize lower level spells, with the higher level spells getting even harder to execute during overtax ?

nonsi
2011-06-08, 05:39 PM
It's the balance between party members, not vs enemies that I'm talking about. The difference between casting classes and non-casting classes.

My point is that the game is not balanced already with respect to the classes, and giving the most powerful classes in the game extra spells for free makes them more powerful.


1. No, it makes them more useful for longer periods of time.
2. About 1/3 of the spells you mentioned are melee-boosters, so no real power shift there. About 1/3 of the spells you mentioned are utility spells, so again - no problem there. The rest are either easily obtainable, or spells that if you're a level 20 melee dude and they're really bothering you, then you must be doing something wrong.
3. It's no secret that all melees need some serious overhaul to count for something at the pre-epic levels..........

Dryad
2011-06-08, 07:35 PM
Or should it be 10 + double strain overtax, to make you prioritize lower level spells, with the higher level spells getting even harder to execute during overtax ? This sounds like a lot better idea, indeed. Especially since it double-dips into progression. On the one hand, lower level spells become less taxing. On the other hand, it becomes easier still to overchannel as you progress.

But I do really feel that a price should be paid for overchannelling successfully. Maybe in terms of self-damage?

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-08, 10:47 PM
This sounds like a lot better idea, indeed. Especially since it double-dips into progression. On the one hand, lower level spells become less taxing. On the other hand, it becomes easier still to overchannel as you progress.

But I do really feel that a price should be paid for overchannelling successfully. Maybe in terms of self-damage?

I like this version more as well.
As for requiring a price when you succeed I have three suggestions, in order of intensity:
If you succeed you take the damage as normal, but if you fail you take a fraction of the damage as stat drain (or whichever one goes away naturally after a while) to your key stat. Save for half (rather than nothing). If you succeed you take subdual damage instead of normal damage (This ones weird so I'm putting it at the end of the list) If you succeed you take full normal damage, but if you fail you take double subdual damage, the logic being that if you failed you messed up before you could REALLY hurt yourself where as if you succeed you're doing something that naturally hurts but you have some control over it so you're minimizing the hurt.

Also along with any of these (though I'd only recommend it for the first or second) you could allow a spell-craft check to still cast it after failing (meaning you didn't take the damage for nothing).

nonsi
2011-06-09, 12:28 AM
I like this version more as well.
As for requiring a price when you succeed I have three suggestions, in order of intensity:
If you succeed you take the damage as normal, but if you fail you take a fraction of the damage as stat drain (or whichever one goes away naturally after a while) to your key stat. Save for half (rather than nothing). If you succeed you take subdual damage instead of normal damage (This ones weird so I'm putting it at the end of the list) If you succeed you take full normal damage, but if you fail you take double subdual damage, the logic being that if you failed you messed up before you could REALLY hurt yourself where as if you succeed you're doing something that naturally hurts but you have some control over it so you're minimizing the hurt.

Also along with any of these (though I'd only recommend it for the first or second) you could allow a spell-craft check to still cast it after failing (meaning you didn't take the damage for nothing).


Ok, seems like things boil down to this:

If a fatigued Spellcaster wishes to cast another spell, he must first make a Will save vs. DC [10 + SL*2 + the amount of Strain he has over his Tolerance prior to casting the spell]. If the save is successful, he casts the spell as normal, taking subdual damage equal to the spell's strain-toll. If the save is failed, the spell fizzles with no effect and he takes lethal damage equal to the spell's strain-toll, plus 1/2 as much (rounded up) to his key spellcasting stat.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-09, 01:31 AM
Ok, seems like things boil down to this:

If a fatigued Spellcaster wishes to cast another spell, he must first make a Will save vs. DC [10 + SL*2 + the amount of Strain he has over his Tolerance prior to casting the spell]. If the save is successful, he casts the spell as normal, taking subdual damage equal to the spell's strain-toll. If the save is failed, the spell fizzles with no effect and he takes lethal damage equal to the spell's strain-toll, plus 1/2 as much (rounded up) to his key spellcasting stat.

I'd add in a clause about the stat damage automatically healing over time so the character isn't completely dead if they don't have someone who can fix it (or is the someone who can fix it), but otherwise I like this version.

Dryad
2011-06-09, 06:13 AM
I'd personally make success more costly than failure. I mean; failure already has the cost of not casting the spell. Not being able to cast the spell means less arcane energies are going through your body, so it'd be less damaging; easier to recuperate.
A success, however, grants the spell (benefit) + causes more energy burn (hazard). I'd say this warrants a higher price than gaining no benefits at all.

nonsi
2011-06-09, 06:26 PM
I'd add in a clause about the stat damage automatically healing over time so the character isn't completely dead if they don't have someone who can fix it (or is the someone who can fix it), but otherwise I like this version.

Overtaxing should be for emergency only.
I don't want an ability to rapidly overcome its side effects.
But maybe 1pt / hour could be ok.




I'd personally make success more costly than failure. I mean; failure already has the cost of not casting the spell. Not being able to cast the spell means less arcane energies are going through your body, so it'd be less damaging; easier to recuperate.
A success, however, grants the spell (benefit) + causes more energy burn (hazard). I'd say this warrants a higher price than gaining no benefits at all.

I look at things from a different angle:
If you're successful, you manage to channel the energies into a useful effect.
If you fail, they persist and burn you up.

Ernir
2011-06-09, 09:16 PM
I see a problem here:
As soon as a Spellcaster's total Strain exceeds his Tolerance, he becomes fatigued. If a fatigued Spellcaster wishes to cast another spell, he must first make a Fort save with a DC equal to (20 + the spell's level + the amount of Strain he has over his Tolerance prior to casting the spell). If the save is successful, the Spellcaster casts the spell as normal. If the save is failed, the spell fizzles with no effect and the Spellcaster takes damage equal to the spell's strain-toll.
(Emphasis mine)
The Fort save only happens if the spellcaster is fatigued. What happens if the spellcaster is immune to fatigue, or cures the fatigue?


I tried countless variations of spell-points systems, but they always failed.
Also, every spell-points system Iíve ever encountered also failed.
The reason is that spellcasters either:
- gain too much to put on the high level spell.
- donít get enough to put on all spell levels.
Both may coexist, but itís impossible to resolve both with spell points.
Interesting position.

What is your opinion on 3.5 Psionics?

Realms of Chaos
2011-06-09, 10:53 PM
Wow. Just... wow.

When I first looked that this concept this morning, I thought for sure that this was strictly better than a traditional spellcaster. I thought that giving an average cleric/druid/wizard/archivist hundreds of spells to use at will couldn't possibly end well and that this was plain crazy.

When I sat down to do the math, however, I was truly enlightened. Even including the 16 points recovered over an average "work-day", a 20th level caster with a primary ability score of 36 and Con of 28 (81 points in total) couldn't quite add up to the default spells per day of the PHB wizard (4/spell level for a total of 96) without seriously overtaxing, and that's not even getting into bonus spells from ability scores or specialization.

I wouldn't say that this change doesn't effect balance between the various spellcasting classes (classes with good fort saves seem more inviting, the ability of druids to cast spells in forms with huge Con scores is more significant, elves oddly recover from strain slower due to their reduced "sleep" [making them pretty awful spellcasters], and the bonus spells per day that spontaneous casters normally get count for nothing) but this system seems remarkably balanced over all.

Great work, nonsi. This is a work of genius.

nonsi
2011-06-10, 12:14 AM
Great work, nonsi. This is a work of genius.

Thanks, but I can't claim ownership to the concept.
If you follow the exchange, you'll find a link to the inventors.
Furthermore, several insights were gained throughout this thread, so you'd probably benefit from going over it.




When I sat down to do the math, however, I was truly enlightened. Even including the 16 points recovered over an average "work-day",

Actually, it's more than that (go over the exchange).
Lesser immediate raw power, but a longer "Work Day".




a 20th level caster with a primary ability score of 36 and Con of 28 (81 points in total) couldn't quite add up to the default spells per day of the PHB wizard (4/spell level for a total of 96) without seriously overtaxing, and that's not even getting into bonus spells from ability scores or specialization.

Actually... 81 Tolerance could be a quite problematic. It allows too much simultaneous access to the higher effects.
This system has the drawback of working best with a house rule that mortal means cannot boost mental stats (permanently or temporarily). This forces spellcasters to conserve their resources.




I wouldn't say that this change doesn't effect balance between the various spellcasting classes (classes with good fort saves seem more inviting,

We decided it should be Will save and with better chances for success, but consequences even on success.




the ability of druids to cast spells in forms with huge Con scores is more significant,

I wouldn't allow temp ability boost to affect Tolerance.




elves oddly recover from strain slower due to their reduced "sleep" [making them pretty awful spellcasters],

With the faster recovery rate, this would probably have no significant effect.
Furthermore, you could rule that each hour of meditation counts as 2 hours of sleep.




and the bonus spells per day that spontaneous casters normally get count for nothing) but this system seems remarkably balanced over all.

Then you might consider applying 1/2 level Tolerance to casters that RAW prepare spells and full level to the spont. ones.

nonsi
2011-06-10, 12:20 AM
I see a problem here:
(Emphasis mine)
The Fort save only happens if the spellcaster is fatigued. What happens if the spellcaster is immune to fatigue, or cures the fatigue?

Then consider them to be in a status of "fatigued".
Even by RAW, undead spellcasters need to rest. I see nor reason to treat this case any different.




What is your opinion on 3.5 Psionics?

Cumbersome and not uniform.
This system have one major advantage - extreme simplicity.

Dryad
2011-06-10, 06:40 AM
Then consider them to be in a status of "fatigued".
Even by RAW, undead spellcasters need to rest. I see nor reason to treat this case any different.
I think the better solution is simply to reword 'fatigued.'

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-10, 01:04 PM
I think the better solution is simply to reword 'fatigued.'

That also has the advantage of letting us redefine it as something that's more mental than physical.

raxies94
2011-06-10, 02:22 PM
Looks fairly interesting. I've seen a very well-done spell points variant here on these boards, but unfortunately can't link you to it. That particular variant did a very good job, I felt. It basically used the psionic's rules, but many specific spells where changed as well. You should try and look at that and see what you think. Wish I could link you to it, but it's lost to me.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-10, 02:44 PM
Whaag, I forgot to mention two things:
@nonsi (about recovery): a point an hour was about what I was thinking, though I wouldn't have considered a point a day two unreasonable.

@nonsi & RoC: the original sysem actually boosted spontaneous casters to key stat * 1.5 rather than penalize prepared. That said I'm not entirely sure where fixed list casters like the dread necro should fit on that list.

nonsi
2011-06-10, 03:53 PM
@nonsi (about recovery): a point an hour was about what I was thinking, though I wouldn't have considered a point a day two unreasonable.

1 / hour it is.
Hopefully, I'll have the time to update the OP with all the insights in the next few days.



@nonsi & RoC: the original sysem actually boosted spontaneous casters to key stat * 1.5 rather than penalize prepared. That said I'm not entirely sure where fixed list casters like the dread necro should fit on that list.

Gived their spells-per-day are about the same as the Sorc's...

Sciran
2011-06-10, 04:05 PM
I'm one of those proponents for spell points, I find that they are very well balanced when done correctly - however I concede that it is difficult to "do correctly". One of the largest balances that people forget to add to a spell point system is actually the reason behind my suggestion for you here. And that suggestion is...

Counterspell.

Opinions on spellpoints aside, this variant interests me greatly. I really like a lot of the flavor and the thought going into it, and the lovliest part to me is that it actually could coincide next to another spellcasting system without changing the game.

To the point, my suggestion: With making spellcasting easier (Which, in general, that's what I see here - easier but not not more powerful), wouldn't making another method of counterspelling a part of this system be equally fair? For example, voluntarily taking on strain to null another spellcaster? Or, perhaps taking strain as if casting a spell simply to add strain to another spellcaster - potentially making them fail?
In the strictest sense, the original rules for counterspelling works. You cast your own 'counter' spell, take the strain, and their spell is gone. But with the rich flavor you give to this variant, it just seems to me that another method is begging for some love.

Side note, I love how this opens the door for custom items as well. Strain reducing items, cursed items that increase strain...
Along that vein, would Arcane Armor Failure even come into play anymore? Strain additive instead, perhaps? Didn't see that covered, but I could have just failed my spot check.

nonsi
2011-06-10, 05:50 PM
it actually could coincide next to another spellcasting system without changing the game.

To me, one of the basic motivations behind homebrewing is simplification.
3.5 has too many mechanics for mystic powers - all of which require too much bookkeeping & optimization mastery (binding in particular) and tie you down too much (either too little repertoire, or too little simultaneus access to your repertoire).




taking strain as if casting a spell simply to add strain to another spellcaster - potentially making them fail?

Drain yourself in order to drain your opponent.
Melike. A lot :smallsmile:
It'd probably allow a save, but in case of failure, your opponent suffers a greater loss than whet you put into it.
Any thoughts on mechanics would be most contributive right now.




In the strictest sense, the original rules for counterspelling works. You cast your own 'counter' spell, take the strain, and their spell is gone. But with the rich flavor you give to this variant, it just seems to me that another method is begging for some love.

I'd like to hear your thoughts on that 'another method'.




Along that vein, would Arcane Armor Failure even come into play anymore? Strain additive instead, perhaps? Didn't see that covered, but I could have just failed my spot check.

Your Spot check is fine, but I don't see how this makes sense - and if ACP is taken into account, you'd also have to count for encumbrence... and now you got even more bookkeeping.

Ernir
2011-06-12, 08:33 PM
Then consider them to be in a status of "fatigued".
Even by RAW, undead spellcasters need to rest. I see nor reason to treat this case any different.

This case is different because you wrote it differently. =/

If you want to handle this with a status condition, I suggest you create a new one, to minimize its interaction with the rest of the system. As is, anyone with a wand of Lesser Restoration breaks it to hell. "Strained", perhaps?

Sciran
2011-06-13, 12:58 PM
To me, one of the basic motivations behind homebrewing is simplification.

I could not agree more. I merely made mention that it could coincide seemlessly because that does make the game simpler on a DM who -wants- to use something else for a specific group, or special cases, whatever.

The 'another method' I mention is whatever you decide to add in as far as counterspelling goes. As to your question of mechanics, I would think there would be two options available to spellcasters:
1) Direct Counterspell. If the spellcaster readies his action beforehand, and makes the spellcraft check to identify the spell (as per the original counterspell rules), he can pay the strain of the spell level (at his current level, not the casters) being cast to force the opponent to act as though he were casting while over his Strain Tolerance (By how much, I dunno. Your call). This does not actually increase their strain more than usual.
Example: Caster A tries shooting out a lightning bolt. Counterspeller B recognizes it, and pays the appropriate strain. Caster B then must make the save to continue casting the spell or takes the strain damage from failure.
2) Strainspell(I like that name). If a spellcaster were to come across another spell-slinger, he could pay strain to increase strain on the other. The The spellcaster choose an amount to pay for this ability before attempting, and the target must make a will save DC (1/2 Caster Level + Main Stat + Strain Added) or take one and a half times, rounded down, the intended strain. Should the target succeed, they takes only the strain you intended.
Example: Caster A (Who has a CHA of 20 and is level 6) attempts to Strainspell (I really like that name) Bloke B, wanting to add 8 strain on him. He takes 8 strain, and then Bloke B attempts to save against the DC 16. He fails, don'tcha know it, and ends up with 12 additional strain.

On the note of Arcane Spell Failure, I don't view this as bookkeeping but as a very important balance feature. Without armoro failure, there is nothing but a feat (three, actually) stopping a Wizard from walking about in uber-enchanted full-plate without penalty. A possible solution that doesn't add bookkeeping could be a simple across-the-board strain additive. Light armor adds 1 strain to each arcane spell, medium 2, heavy 3, shield adds 1.
This would give you the benefit of actually making a Wizard in Full-Plate easier than the Vancian System, while still giving a balance to why someone might not want it AND there's no more bookkeeping than what you already have.

Just my two cents.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-13, 01:59 PM
While those are some shiny variants on counter-spelling they still suffer from the same problem as normal counter-spelling. Namely they require you to ready an action and hope they cast something worth while instead of outright attacking them.
At the same time the first method might actually be to good since it could easily knock out their ability to cast in one or two counter-spells, making counter-spelling more effective than actual spell slinging (which might actually be interesting, come to think of it; under that system you're more likely to run into a M.A.D. situation where no caster wants to cast with an enemy caster present).

For my part I'd like to suggest trying to create a counter-spelling system similar to psionics defensive modes (did I say that right? I've only heard about them recently and I've never seen the actual rules).
The basic idea would be to have the various casters choose offensive and defensive modes and then roll some checks against each other at the start of a set of rounds. based on the results they'd either take some penalties or maybe gain some bonuses do DCs and strain. There could also be some feats that let you enhance certain aspects or access new modes; for example there could be one feat that lets you spend a few points of strain and have a chance to lock-down your opponents casting if you win or another one that lets you steal some strain if you win.

Sciran
2011-06-13, 05:37 PM
That's a very interesting point, the Psionic Modes. Never heard of them myself but they sound unique.

Just wanted to point out that of the two ideas I suggested, only the first required the redying of an action. The second was simply a "I feel like adding strain to you now" ability, of sorts. Agreeably, I did forget to mention an action it would be - but it was originally slotted as a Standard Action, replacing a spell pretty much.

The idea behind the first one was that it actually has the potential to turn into an attack, under these strain rules, since if they fail casting the spell they would take damage from the strain. It's not as much damage as you could do, sure, but it's damage -on top- of cancelling their spell and putting more strain on them. That's why I felt that keeping the ready action balanced the act.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-13, 06:45 PM
That's a very interesting point, the Psionic Modes. Never heard of them myself but they sound unique.
They were originally from 3.0 (and apparently quite terrible there) and Hyperconscious has a redo that looks fairly interesting (though it's less attack defence oriented [I just checked it out])

[/QUOTE]
Just wanted to point out that of the two ideas I suggested, only the first required the redying of an action. The second was simply a "I feel like adding strain to you now" ability, of sorts. Agreeably, I did forget to mention an action it would be - but it was originally slotted as a Standard Action, replacing a spell pretty much.[/QUOTE]
As you said, only the first variant had an action, so I assumed the second had the same type of action. I'm not entirely sure what kind of action you're advocating here, but I don't think it's worth a standard; it's not really as powerful as a spell and it's already costing the same.



The idea behind the first one was that it actually has the potential to turn into an attack, under these strain rules, since if they fail casting the spell they would take damage from the strain. It's not as much damage as you could do, sure, but it's damage -on top- of cancelling their spell and putting more strain on them. That's why I felt that keeping the ready action balanced the act.
Don't forget the also take ability damage equal to half the strain, meaning this could easily knock a caster out of the fight.

SiuiS
2011-06-24, 06:47 PM
I'm pretty sure this hasn't hit the two-week mark yet.

Implemented in a game I'm in (the basic set up that was in te OP when I first found the idea; I hadn't been able to keep up with the suggested changes since then). It's a weird game for a test, seeing as I'm a bard and have 27 Cha, potentially skewing results.

Immediate effect is my number of possible spells per day* dropped off significantly - no more blowing through 8 CLW because someone isn't conscious enough to lower their spell resistance, for example. It has a much better story-telling vibe however, and I can see potential stretching out before me.

One question though; what was the final result y'all decided upon for the effects of exceeding one's tolerance? As I said, I have had trouble keeping track. Today may mark the first day I can read this entire thread (yes, all two pages ;Ģ) "cover to cover", so if it's obvious, my apologies.



*bonus spells granted by a high ability score can be used, but only to prepare or cast spells that you have access to; my bard would thus have 6th level spell slots useable only for his 0/1st level spells.
Like I said, not a good baseline for comparison, but oh well.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-25, 02:01 AM
That actually brings up a good point. I'm not sure what's going on now, but would you mind up dating the first post so if there is any more discussion we can make sure we're on the same page (and if there isn't so we can have a convenient reference).

Also, I'm not entirely certain, but I don't think you can get bonus slots before you get the actual spells (or at least not significantly before).

nonsi
2011-06-25, 02:33 AM
This is what things came down to, as far as I could figure:


Tolerance Overtaxing:
If a fatigued Spellcaster wishes to cast another spell, he must first make a Will save vs. DC [10 + SL*2 + the amount of Strain he has over his Tolerance prior to casting the spell]. If the save is successful, he casts the spell as normal, taking subdual damage equal to the spell's strain-toll. If the save is failed, the spell fizzles with no effect and the Spellcaster takes lethal damage equal to the spell's strain-toll, plus 1/2 as much (rounded up) to his key spellcasting stat.
Note: This formula also applies for spells that cause overtaxing in the first place, using the pre-casting remaining tolerance as negative Overtaxing values.

Recovering Strain:
A spellcaster loses Strain toll per hour equal to [1/2 his CL rounded up, up to his casting stat modifier] if he does not cast spells, fight, run, or otherwise exerts himself.
A spellcaster who is fatigued due to excess Strain ceases to be fatigued as soon as his total Strain is no longer over his Tolerance.
A spellcaster does not recover Strain while exhausted.
Upon completion of full night's rest, a spellcaster loses additional strain points equal to his [casting stat-mod + CON-mod].


Another idea that came was to toss away Fatigued condition and replace it with a new spellcasting-related condition: Strained.
So you're either strained or not, and there's no parallel replacemet to Exhausted condition in the context of spellcasting.

I think that when overtaxing, on the story-telling vibe, a spellcaster should be sickenned for 1 round per strain toll.
This was the feeling I got when I read "Dragons of Autumn Twilight".

SiuiS
2011-06-27, 07:31 PM
@Epsilon Rose: you're right, that is not how it normally works. It wasn't an issue until someone got upset at a DM and sort of broke the system. 20 CLW in a day at 2nd level is why I'm looking into alternate, non-Vancian systems :smallwink:

For conditions...
It's good that an already fatigued caster has a hard time casting, but as written, you don't need to connect this mechanic to 'fatigued' at all. A caster whose strain exceeds tollerance takes damage, and becomes fatigued. This way, if a caster is immune to fatigue they still take damage and all, and they still suffer the effects of Strain.
Man, that makes so much less sense outside my head. I do trust I'm Comin across clearly?

Maybe make the damage HP burn instead of actual, lethal damage? That way it only recovers non-magically, and you could find a way to slap undead casters with it as well.