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View Full Version : (Brainstorming/Friendly Debate) Evening the playing field: Spells as Feats



DoomHat
2011-06-20, 04:28 AM
Of all the complaints and attempted fixes for D&D on this board, the number one issue seems to be trying to balance out the difference between casters and non-casters.
Most of the solutions seem to involve either making non-casters into scaled down casters (ToB), shuffling around the math so that some class features mean more and or some spells mean less, or changing some portion of combat rules.

Some will no doubt disagree, but to me the heart of the issue is that casters increase in power exponentially and mundane characters do not. The Psion is a pretty clear example of this.
I level 1 a Psion has 2 PP.
At level 2 they add 4, bringing them to 6
At level 3 they add 5, bringing them to 11
At level 4 they add 6 (17PP), at level 5 they decide 7 is for suckers and add 8 (25PP).
Why would they do this? No other stat in the game progresses like this, but it fits the progression of spell power almost to a tee. Dirt weak to start, begins snowballing around mid level, then goes bonkers.

Iím not sure this can be fixed without a complete shakedown/rebuild of the system. A Rougeís class features take up two pages, a Sorcererís class features take up two pages and then also a full chapter.

My preference is to just turn each spell into a Feat. Everyone gets two Feats a level from their class list. Have a straightforward and universal progression for the resource used to power feats. Maybe every class has a ďFeat DieĒ along with their ďHit DieĒ. Wizard has a d4 HD and a d10 FD, while a Fighter has a d10 HD and a d4 FD. Or maybe Feats are powered by Action(FATE, Edge, Void, Chi, Drama, Plot, ect.) Points? Something that can be used as a reward for particular in game behaviors.

Naturally normal Feats as we know them will either need to be massively buffed or called something else. Iíd like to just call them Skills and toss the whole skill system out the window. So for example, Power Attack, Craft Magic Item, and Dodge are now Skills. If you want to be exceptionally good as some particular action take the Lesser (Blank) Expertise Skill, then take Full (Blank) Expertise, then Improved, then Greater.

Anyone have any thoughts on this? Am I barking up the wrong tree?

Eldan
2011-06-20, 04:32 AM
I don't entirely agree with making spells into feats, though the idea isnt bad: I would really prefer characters with more than just two abilities to start out.

However, allow me to instead go on a tangent on something else you mentioned:
Feats as skills. I'm not sure about Dodge, but an idea I threw around earlier on these boards was Weapon Focus as a skill, which I think was generally well received. It was something like "Get +1 to hit for every four ranks in this skill, and +1 to damage for every 3 ranks in this skill". Which gave about the same overall increase as taking Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization on the early levels. I think this would work fine, and something similar could be done with a few others that really aren't worth their feats.

Veklim
2011-06-20, 05:45 AM
Hrm...spells as feats eh...?

I'm with you on the concept at least, although perhaps a slightly easier (and arguably more adaptable) method could be a feat for each spell level instead. That would put you to level 7 spells at 18th assuming you start with level 1s and make the prereqs as spellcraft ranks, level 2 spells would require 6 ranks, level 3 needing 9, etc. It would screw with the idea of other feats for spellcasters, but perhaps it's an avenue worth exploring?

DoomHat
2011-06-20, 02:08 PM
I don't entirely agree with making spells into feats, though the idea isnt bad: I would really prefer characters with more than just two abilities to start out.

Why? Thatís what non-casters get. Lets look at Pathfinder.
A lvl 1 Rogue gets Sneak attack and Trapfinding, both about as powerful as Feats. A lvl 1 Paladin gets detect evil and once a day Smite evil, again, both effects you could expect form taking feats. Ranger gets three things that amount to class excusive feats. The Monk gets four.
But I can see why you might feel two abilities at first level is pathetic. At first level a Wizard gets an animal minion that comes bundled with Skill Focus, so thatís two feats. They also get an arcane school, which gives them two more feat like abilities. They also have Cantrips, which grant another 4 at will abilities dubiously feat level, arguably better. Then, they get three 1st lvl spells a day and Scribe Scroll as a cherry on top. Not even counting the 1st lvl spells, thatís 9 feats.
Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, and Bards get similar hot sloppy love.
So the question is, would you rather give all non-casters an additional 7 static benefits and 3 daily abilities at first level or just make it so each class gets 2 potent niche protected abilities.


However, allow me to instead go on a tangent on something else you mentioned:
Feats as skills. I'm not sure about Dodge, but an idea I threw around earlier on these boards was Weapon Focus as a skill, which I think was generally well received. It was something like "Get +1 to hit for every four ranks in this skill, and +1 to damage for every 3 ranks in this skill". Which gave about the same overall increase as taking Weapon Focus and Weapon Specialization on the early levels. I think this would work fine, and something similar could be done with a few others that really aren't worth their feats.

I want something even simpler, the exact opposite of that. I want to cut out skills entirely and have every feat simply read like a class feature. Instead of saying, 'I have X ranks in Perception', youíd say, 'I have Improved Perception Expertise so I get a bonus to spotting things equal to my level'. In this case Weapon Focus would read something like, ď+1 to attack and damage rolls at 1st level and an additional +1 for every three levels thereafter (4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 19th).Ē

And then, for reasons Iím about to explain, I want to call Feats Skills instead.
Itís crazy, I know, and I probably shouldnít bring it up in this thread because it will likely derail things. I only brought it up because I wanted to make the word Feat mean something else. Iím a big believer in the power of words and what ďFeatsĒ actually do in D&D has never really felt right with the word.
Hereís how Merriam-Webster defines it.
1feat
noun \ˈfēt\
Definition of FEAT
1: act, deed
2 a : a deed notable especially for courage b : an act or product of skill, endurance, or ingenuity

Examples of FEAT
a performer known for her astonishing acrobatic feats
an exceptional feat of the human intellect
Writing that whole report in one night was quite a feat.
It was no mean feat.

In D&D a ďFeatĒ is a small, static bonus. I think anything thatís called a Feat should be dynamic. They should be called upon occasionally and have a huge dramatic impact. Casting a spell is a Feat, to me. So I want to make Spells available to everyone, but call them Feats, and I want to take what are now called ďfeatsĒ, and call them Skills instead. And finally, Iíd like to take what are now called skills, set them on fire, and throw them off a cliff.


Hrm...spells as feats eh...?

I'm with you on the concept at least, although perhaps a slightly easier (and arguably more adaptable) method could be a feat for each spell level instead. That would put you to level 7 spells at 18th assuming you start with level 1s and make the prereqs as spellcraft ranks, level 2 spells would require 6 ranks, level 3 needing 9, etc. It would screw with the idea of other feats for spellcasters, but perhaps it's an avenue worth exploring?

This is an interesting way to take my idea that doesnít screw with the rules as they stand to badly. I like it, but would insist that it be divided further by school. So you in order to take level 2 Necromancy you need level 1 Necromancy and 6 ranks in spellcraft. That strikes me as a far more sane degree of flexibility.

Veklim
2011-06-20, 04:19 PM
This is an interesting way to take my idea that doesnít screw with the rules as they stand to badly. I like it, but would insist that it be divided further by school. So you in order to take level 2 Necromancy you need level 1 Necromancy and 6 ranks in spellcraft. That strikes me as a far more sane degree of flexibility.

That makes much sense actually. Might be a good idea to roll divination and universal spells into one school for those purposes but that's actually not bad at all...

This needs some elaboration, gimme a while and I'll start knocking some stuff up to this effect.

Falin
2011-06-20, 05:04 PM
Honestly, the problem isn't that casters get powerful effects, there's nothing overtly wrong with casters being powerful. The real problem, as I see it, is that casters have no limits. Fighters stab things in the face, and that's about the limit of what they do. Casters have no such limit, the wizard can literally do whatever they want and anything they can't do they can just wait until tomorrow to do. So the trick isn't to make spells into feats, but rather to define the spell caster's abilities better.

Yitzi
2011-06-20, 05:15 PM
I don't really like that idea...the casters are supposed to have high versatility (not as high as they actually have, but higher than spells-as-feats would allow). Which should be compensated for by having to conserve resources and being easier to block.

And the reason that casters' resources increase quadratically (not really exponentially) is, as far as I can tell, the same as the reason that most spells increase in duration as you level up: At high levels, combats are supposed to last longer, thereby requiring more spells per fight.

But (you ask) they don't, and a fight can generally be ended with 1d3 spells? That's the problem that needs fixing. Once that's dealt with, fight length should increase the significance of casters' limited spells/day to the point where things are far more balanced.

Eldan
2011-06-20, 05:17 PM
Why? Thatís what non-casters get. Lets look at Pathfinder..

Oh, I didn't mean the caster-noncaster divide was okay. What I meant was I'd rather have everyone start with three to five abilities, like casters do, instead of giving everyone one thing, like fighters have.

Veklim
2011-06-20, 05:23 PM
What I meant was I'd rather have everyone start with three to five abilities, like casters do, instead of giving everyone one thing, like fighters have.

I'm gonna feel dirty for saying it but...4th ed kinda does that quite well.

Ouch. :smalleek:

Shadow Lord
2011-06-20, 05:55 PM
Why? Thatís what non-casters get. Lets look at Pathfinder.
A lvl 1 Rogue gets Sneak attack and Trapfinding, both about as powerful as Feats. A lvl 1 Paladin gets detect evil and once a day Smite evil, again, both effects you could expect form taking feats. Ranger gets three things that amount to class excusive feats. The Monk gets four.
But I can see why you might feel two abilities at first level is pathetic. At first level a Wizard gets an animal minion that comes bundled with Skill Focus, so thatís two feats. They also get an arcane school, which gives them two more feat like abilities. They also have Cantrips, which grant another 4 at will abilities dubiously feat level, arguably better. Then, they get three 1st lvl spells a day and Scribe Scroll as a cherry on top. Not even counting the 1st lvl spells, thatís 9 feats.
Clerics, Druids, Sorcerers, and Bards get similar hot sloppy love.
So the question is, would you rather give all non-casters an additional 7 static benefits and 3 daily abilities at first level or just make it so each class gets 2 potent niche protected abilities.



I want something even simpler, the exact opposite of that. I want to cut out skills entirely and have every feat simply read like a class feature. Instead of saying, 'I have X ranks in Perception', youíd say, 'I have Improved Perception Expertise so I get a bonus to spotting things equal to my level'. In this case Weapon Focus would read something like, ď+1 to attack and damage rolls at 1st level and an additional +1 for every three levels thereafter (4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th, 19th).Ē

And then, for reasons Iím about to explain, I want to call Feats Skills instead.
Itís crazy, I know, and I probably shouldnít bring it up in this thread because it will likely derail things. I only brought it up because I wanted to make the word Feat mean something else. Iím a big believer in the power of words and what ďFeatsĒ actually do in D&D has never really felt right with the word.
Hereís how Merriam-Webster defines it.
1feat
noun \ˈfēt\
Definition of FEAT
1: act, deed
2 a : a deed notable especially for courage b : an act or product of skill, endurance, or ingenuity

Examples of FEAT
a performer known for her astonishing acrobatic feats
an exceptional feat of the human intellect
Writing that whole report in one night was quite a feat.
It was no mean feat.

In D&D a ďFeatĒ is a small, static bonus. I think anything thatís called a Feat should be dynamic. They should be called upon occasionally and have a huge dramatic impact. Casting a spell is a Feat, to me. So I want to make Spells available to everyone, but call them Feats, and I want to take what are now called ďfeatsĒ, and call them Skills instead. And finally, Iíd like to take what are now called skills, set them on fire, and throw them off a cliff.



This is an interesting way to take my idea that doesnít screw with the rules as they stand to badly. I like it, but would insist that it be divided further by school. So you in order to take level 2 Necromancy you need level 1 Necromancy and 6 ranks in spellcraft. That strikes me as a far more sane degree of flexibility.

Wait, so you want to make it so that everyone is a caster? You want to both give casters a protected niche and make it so everyone can cast spells. Punch me if I'm wrong, but those two don't go together. Also; you want to take away Skills? That... just wouldn't work mechanically; the game has had Skills since 1e. It is, in my opinion, one of the most important distinctions between D&D and every other RPG. And your example with Pathfinder is ill suited, since all of the other classes get more Hit Die, which, by your definition, should count as a Feat, they get better Base Attack Bonuses, which should count as a Feat, and they commonly have more Skill Points and/or Skills, which should, once again, count as a Feat. And getting a level of spells is more accurately a Feat, so they aren't that much different, if you compare their ' Feats. '

Edit: I'm sorry if the above comes across as Rude, I didn't intend for it to come across like that.

DoomHat
2011-06-20, 07:54 PM
Honestly, the problem isn't that casters get powerful effects, there's nothing overtly wrong with casters being powerful. The real problem, as I see it, is that casters have no limits. Fighters stab things in the face, and that's about the limit of what they do. Casters have no such limit, the wizard can literally do whatever they want and anything they can't do they can just wait until tomorrow to do. So the trick isn't to make spells into feats, but rather to define the spell caster's abilities better.
Powerful effects are cool, I like powerful effects. The problem is not that casters have powerful effects, it is that they have all the powerful effects, while some classes have none. I think that everyone should have some powerful effects, but nobody should be stuck with none and no one should have them ALL. That is the problem.
Spells are pretty damn well defined. What needs to happen is to limit their availability down from infinite.


I don't really like that idea...the casters are supposed to have high versatility (not as high as they actually have, but higher than spells-as-feats would allow). Which should be compensated for by having to conserve resources and being easier to block.

And the reason that casters' resources increase quadratically (not really exponentially) is, as far as I can tell, the same as the reason that most spells increase in duration as you level up: At high levels, combats are supposed to last longer, thereby requiring more spells per fight.

But (you ask) they don't, and a fight can generally be ended with 1d3 spells? That's the problem that needs fixing. Once that's dealt with, fight length should increase the significance of casters' limited spells/day to the point where things are far more balanced.
That would require a systematic rewrite aimed at hovelling every upper level spell. This would require a lot of work at the risk of making the game boring. I say to you now, nothing is worth that risk.


Oh, I didn't mean the caster-noncaster divide was okay. What I meant was I'd rather have everyone start with three to five abilities, like casters do, instead of giving everyone one thing, like fighters have.
Okay, thatís what I wanted to know. So, if weíre not cutting down casters, how do we go about building up everyone else.


Wait, so you want to make it so that everyone is a caster? You want to both give casters a protected niche and make it so everyone can cast spells. Punch me if I'm wrong, but those two don't go together.
Only if you assume it natural for casters to have, by default, access to all schools. Basically I would like to, for example, take invisibility from the wizard, and give it to the rogue. Buffs should be Other Only, so they canít be hogged to themselves. I want to bust the magic monopoly.


Also; you want to take away Skills? That... just wouldn't work mechanically; the game has had Skills since 1e. It is, in my opinion, one of the most important distinctions between D&D and every other RPG.
Iím afraid I must disagree. An RPG without a skill set is an exception. Out of the 33 core book PDFs I have saved to my hard drive, only 4 donít have a skill mechanic. Also, the skill system was always an optional plug-in until 3rd. Frankly the way 4th does it cuts down on book keeping, but Iím not so keen on the restricted options.


And your example with Pathfinder is ill suited, since all of the other classes get more Hit Die, which, by your definition, should count as a Feat, they get better Base Attack Bonuses, which should count as a Feat, and they commonly have more Skill Points and/or Skills, which should, once again, count as a Feat. And getting a level of spells is more accurately a Feat, so they aren't that much different, if you compare their ' Feats. '
I think you should take a closer look. Most of them have the same chassis as the rogue. All the rogue has for compensation is skills. Skills that are famously moot in the face of spell power.



Edit: I'm sorry if the above comes across as Rude, I didn't intend for it to come across like that.
It's alright. Tone is hard to maintain in pure text.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-20, 08:17 PM
Only if you assume it natural for casters to have, by default, access to all schools. Basically I would like to, for example, take invisibility from the wizard, and give it to the rogue. Buffs should be Other Only, so they canít be hogged to themselves. I want to bust the magic monopoly.


Iím afraid I must disagree. An RPG without a skill set is an exception. Out of the 33 core book PDFs I have saved to my hard drive, only 4 donít have a skill mechanic. Also, the skill system was always an optional plug-in until 3rd. Frankly the way 4th does it cuts down on book keeping, but Iím not so keen on the restricted options.


I think you should take a closer look. Most of them have the same chassis as the rogue. All the rogue has for compensation is skills. Skills that are famously moot in the face of spell power.



It's alright. Tone is hard to maintain in pure text.

But restricting buffs to others only just doesn't make sense, from a fluffy point, and why would a Rogue be casting Invisibility? I can understand a rogue getting cool extraordinary abilities that are similar to magic. That actually really cool. But it makes little sense for a Rogue to actually cast magic.

And I have never, ever, ever heard of a Caster hogging their spells to themself. Maybe my group is just nice like that, or maybe it's not a common occurence, but a non-blaster is supposed to do three things; Buff, Debuff, and Battlefield Control. And I actually prefer the Tier 3 casters that each specialize in one school of magic, so we can agree there.

Falin
2011-06-20, 09:45 PM
Spells are pretty damn well defined. What needs to happen is to limit their availability down from infinite.

No, I'm sorry, but they're not. Unless your definition of spells is "they can do anything" spells are just a mess of every effect the designers could think of. Defined, may be the wrong word here, perhaps Iíd be better served saying limited. But really I do mean that spell casters need to be better defined. There are a few ways to do this just off the top of my head.

1. Lesser magic: Wizards are great for little tricks like putting people to sleep, stunning, fooling people senses, that kind of stuff. Gives them allot of tricks but means magic lacks stopping power, not entirely bad but youíd have to basically rewrite everything in D&DÖ but basically any change to magic would do that so whatever. Oh, but keep healing magic no matter how far you take this, a world without clerics is a horrifying thought.

2. Support magic: This could be played a couple of ways. First, casters are buffers and healers. Second, casters are walking artillery pieces. Third casters are either or. I would go with the last one but whatever.

3. Itís been mentioned here before but single school casterís isnít a bad idea, except that it may actually gimp them into TOO well defined roles which would mean youíd need several casters to function as normal in a game.

DoomHat
2011-06-21, 12:09 AM
But restricting buffs to others only just doesn't make sense, from a fluffy point, and why would a Rogue be casting Invisibility? I can understand a rogue getting cool extraordinary abilities that are similar to magic. That actually really cool. But it makes little sense for a Rogue to actually cast magic.
There's all kinds of fluff justifications for just about anything. How about enchanting your own body, outside a few exceptions, blocks the outward flow of energy, thus creating the risk of a terrible feed back response.
As for rogues casting invisibility, that's why I was looking to change the name of the rule mechanic currently called "spells". I'd like to change the name to Feats. So Wizards have Arcane Feats, Fighters have Marshal Feats, Clerics have Divine Feats, Rogues have Shadow Feats, and so on. They'd all function the same way mechanically (as spells), but they'd each be geared to a different niche. Pass Wall, Invisibility, Knock, and anything else that would have rendered a rogue irrelevant are now rogue exclusive class abilities instead.


And I have never, ever, ever heard of a Caster hogging their spells to themself. Maybe my group is just nice like that, or maybe it's not a common occurence, but a non-blaster is supposed to do three things; Buff, Debuff, and Battlefield Control.
Then you haven't been hanging out on these very boards (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=201876) a lot? I'm not sure how to address that statement. I mean, if you haven't you haven't, and blessed be your gaming group.:smallsmile:


No, I'm sorry, but they're not. Unless your definition of spells is "they can do anything" spells are just a mess of every effect the designers could think of. Defined, may be the wrong word here, perhaps Iíd be better served saying limited. But really I do mean that spell casters need to be better defined.

Sorry, I misunderstood you. You're actually trying to say Magic is poorly defined? Well then yes. I totally agree. One of my favorite core books, Reign (http://www.gregstolze.com/reign/), has an excellent section on the subject of how to define magic in a given game/setting. It asks a set of important questions like, just what is magic supposed to do, what can't it ever do, who has access to it, how does it effect society. D&D answers almost none of these questions.
The only definition we have is what individual spells do, that there are a number of distinct schools, and a number of distinct ways(classes) to interact with it (whom each, for some reason learn from most if not all schools). I'm content to just work from what we've got but force just a bit more specialization on casters. Maybe wizards and sorcerers are limited to only three or four school from char gen on? Maybe they can branch out from there at some cost? Maybe one school really is quite enough thank you? We can't know until we slap something together and playtest it.

Immonen
2011-06-21, 12:32 AM
It's a good idea, but there are ways to nerf magic-users without going outside the system.

IMC, I keep the wizard on a very limited spell list. He can only learn spells he's seen before (and there aren't many mages in the world), and he doesn't automatically get new spells out of the PHB when he levels. This effectively keeps him down to 3rd-level spells and occasionally one high-level spell that he gleans from a boss fight. The cleric gets the same spiel, if we had one.

3rd-level spells, from what I've seen, are really where a magic-user's power shoots up. By keeping them here (and limiting their options even within that area), they can't just ignore the other party members, and there are no major system changes. Quick, clean and easy.

DoomHat
2011-06-21, 02:19 AM
This is the solution to a whole slew of problems from magic items to multiclassing. Just force the players to roleplay the acquisition of their goodies. This allows the DM to better regulate precisely what species of absurdity they're willing to allow, and the players appreciate their toys more, having had to earn them.
Itís an elegant fix.

You have been given a box that contains, among other things, all evil in the universe.
Step 1: Do not open box
Step 2: ???
Step 3: Profit!

But taking casters down a peg isnít all I want to do. Casters (to my mind) have more interaction with the game. Iíd like every class to be able to take part in that.

Veklim
2011-06-21, 05:03 AM
Ultimately it depends on the type of campaign a DM is willing to make/run. Most of my campaigns take a decidedly sedate approach to many situations, with just as many social and mystery aspects as there are combats. The group I'm currently running has 3 power/combat builds and 3 skill/social builds running together, and you'd be amazed how often it's the wizard and the fighter/psion who complain about not having enough to do.

I will not, even for the breifest of misguided moments, suggest that the gaping chasm between mundane and magic is at all acceptable, but it does depend HEAVILY on the style of campaign you run. I've had wizards spend 2 or 3 levels looking for a library before now, which wasn't happening at any great rate because they were all in a desert in a foreign land, and teleport spells were hard to find (running a wayfarers guild setup who jealously guarded their secrets).

It's not that hard to find an in game balance, but there will always be moments when a wizard shines through regardless, like the time my super-nasty cunning villain rolled twin 1s against a phantasmal killer and promptly croaked before the group even found out what was going on. These things happen.

There will always be discussion, debate and homebrewing, all in the name of that ever-elusive 'game balance', a concept akin to utopia (fine and dandy until you try and put people into the equasion). At least this is a reasonably fresh look at the caster conundrum.

Lonely Tylenol
2011-06-21, 05:38 AM
Skill feats need to suck less.

By level 3, I can cast Share Talents, a 10min/lvl buff on all skills between two people that at least one of them has at least one rank in, that allows the use of untrained skills, thereby rendering almost all dual skill-based feats (such as Alertness) irrelevant. By level 3, I can also cast Master's Touch for any skill for any person, which largely renders Skill Focus irrelevant.

Scale up the bonuses there for the feats, so they suck less.

Dryad
2011-06-21, 05:56 AM
I see what you're getting at, but using the term 'feats' is misleading to my mind.
One possibility is taking existing spells, powers and manoeuvres, make them all work in the same way as manoeuvres (or so-called 'encounter powers') and simply let people pick new ones as they level up ('feats,' but not quite).
However, that would lead the cleric, wizard, psion and sorcerer classes especially dull, since they have.. Well; no class features to speak of apart from their spell progression. Of course; since these classes have none of that, they should get more bonus spells than others, but still.

I think that is the biggest problem with this idea: Not so much power as boredom. Spellcasters get new levels of tricks every other character level, while many other classes get something new each level. And even then, the tricks a caster should get are never really 'new' in flavour; they simply perform a different move, which is quite similar to the previous move in many, many ways.

Personally, I much prefer to play non-caster characters (and druids, admittedly) because they gain something new nearly every level. Sorcerers and wizards are dull, and especially on low levels, run out of juice incredibly quickly.
But this 'feat' idea, to me, doesn't seem to fix this problem. If anything, it would allow non-casters even můre goodies ('spell feats' are not normally included, so it would feel much more as a new class feature for non-casters than it would feel like class features for casters) while full casters will still seem relatively bland (and, to compensate, still probably be more powerful, since they're getting considerably more 'spell feats' to compensate for their lack of class features).

DoomHat
2011-06-21, 06:23 AM
To Veklim
Thank you.

To Lonely Tylenol
I.. wait, what?:smallconfused:

To Dryad
I'm starting to agree that the usage of the word 'feat' in this discussion is causing needless confusion, but it has yielded a few good comments and not inconsiderable interest in the topic.
I disagree that casters would need to become any more castery then they are. As I already demonstrated, a lot of casters already have non-spell class features pouring out of their ears (and if you'd like to argue that point then I counter with the fact there's nothing stopping us from making it true). I'd prefer that casters fill oddball niches not covered by anything based in sanity. Rogues get super thieving powers, fighters get smashy powers, Druids are one with the natural world, bards warp perception, wizards are basically medieval scientists, and sorcerers are turning slowly into monsters.

I'm afraid that I can't even begin to comprehend the argument that mundane characters get more interesting things more often. A non-caster is lucky to get 1 new class feature that just amounts to a minor bonus or extra use of something from an earlier level (a bonus feat basically). A caster however gets two or three new toys a level, each distinct and potent, sometimes along with a bonus feat.

Edited for clarity

Lonely Tylenol
2011-06-21, 07:15 AM
To Lonely Tylenol
I.. wait, what?:smallconfused:

Overhauling the spell/feat systems doesn't mean anything if spells are still patently better than feats on an individual basis... Unless you mean to say that these "feats" can be taken by anyone (so a Fighter can take Mage Armor as a "feat").

I mean, Dodge is terrible compared to Mage Armor, or worse, Great Mage Armor, from a simple numbers perspective.

The obvious example of this is skills. Every skill-based feat, ever, is replaced by two level 2 spells--Share Talents and Master's Touch--which are more flexible (in that you can change the bonuses; they're not locked in) and give greater quantifiable bonuses when you need them.

Not that many people use Share Talents or Master's Touch, or any of the skill feats (unless they're required for a PrC), mind you, but if I had the option, I'd always choose the former over the latter.

Which brings me to my point: the Fighter is a low-tier class, and the Wizard, by contrast, a high-tier class, because spells are good and feats are awful. It's not a matter of quantity; if the Fighter gained two feats per level, he'd still suck, because almost all the feats he can take are bad, and even the good ones are so miniscule in comparison to spells of analogous utility and availability that any sane person would choose one over the other.

Any systemic overhaul you plan to do has to address this problem: on a point-by-point basis, spells are just better at what they do. You can make feats scale, or spells not scale, or something to that effect, but you have to do something to address this problem.

Dryad
2011-06-21, 08:06 AM
I'm afraid that I can't even begin to comprehend the argument that mundane characters get more interesting things more often. A non-caster is lucky to get 1 new class feature that just amounts to a minor bonus or extra use of something from an earlier level (a bonus feat basically). A caster however gets two or three new toys a level, each distinct and potent, sometimes along with a bonus feat.

I vehemently disagree. The caster simply gets more power every other level, but nothing interesting. Just an overhaul of a previous spell that's more powerful, and has a different name. Furthermore, it has a limited amount of uses per day, which, while not changing anything about the power of the ability, makes it less interesting because it is less a part of the character.
A non-caster gets a class ability, however, that is defining for their class, that progresses with their class, and becomes a part of their character.
Sneak Attack, for instance, is a key rogue ability. It sets the feel for the rogue.
Otto's Magnificent Mansion, however, is not a key wizard ability. It's for when wizards get bored, and even then, it isn't anything distinctly 'wizardly' other than being part of their spell list.
Fighter bonus feats, while never being able to get close to full spell progression, will always feel like you're defining and specializing your character along the lines of things you want your character to do, things that feel right, and things that fit your character theme. Spells, however, provide no such thing. They just give you more power. The 'specialist' thing that wizards have going on is but a poor substitute.

Spells are something you have purely for power. They don't add anything to a character apart from power. Their limited usage (per day) combined with the fact that you can basically prepare a different list for each day makes spell-progression itself a non-defining aspect of a character.
As such, mundane characters get more interesting class abilities (on the whole; the Druid class is a distinct exception to this rule) even though these class abilities are, beginning at medium levels, far less powerful. It's not just about power; it's about immersion. It's about defining a character, about what sets her apart from the rest.

Allowing mundane characters to pick up 'spell feats' grants them more defining goodies. You can have a rogue with, for instance, spider climb and stealth, or maybe charm person/monster, or maybe... These choices all compliment the rogue class, so they add more defining goodness to the class.
No matter the amount of 'spell feats' you could grant a sorcerer, though, it will simply amount to this: 'This spell goes boom, this spell protects me, this spell makes me be elsewhere.' There is no synergy with existing class features, there is no general feel that connects these spell feats. You won't choose things based on how well they work with your character concept; you'll choose them based on how powerful they are. A rogue, ranger, fighter, paladin, whathaveyou will choose the spells to match their style, improve their style, and make themselves more interesting as well as more powerful. A full caster, like a wizard, cleric or sorcerer will simply and ůnly add more power to their list, but it will essentially remain as boring as it is now.

Yitzi
2011-06-21, 06:53 PM
That would require a systematic rewrite aimed at hovelling every upper level spell. This would require a lot of work at the risk of making the game boring. I say to you now, nothing is worth that risk.

I'm working on such a rewrite (for Core spells only; I'm not insane) at the moment, and I think it should be doable. After all, only a small number of spells can really end an encounter that quickly, and most are either easy to see how they're broken or easy to defend against (via stuff like Death Ward and PfE.) And I don't see what's boring about a game where the typical wizard spell is on par with the direct-damage evocations in terms of power.

Falin
2011-06-21, 07:13 PM
Well to begin with evocation spells haven't kept up with the power level of the creatures they're supposed to be used on. And for another evocation is rather vanilla compared to other schools of magic.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-21, 09:39 PM
I still think the best way to even the playing field is by making specialist casters of every school, and a general caster with a more varied amount of spells known, but limited spells per day. All of these would be base classes, by the way.

But the most important thing to do first is to bring all spells to a middle ground; not as weak as evocation, not as strong as transmutation, but in the middle. Then you can really even stuff out. And there shouldn't be Divine Magic. Maybe Divine Healing, and maybe a few cool Smite abilities, but I have never liked Divine Magic, and I feel it doesn't make sense. And, nonetheless, there should be no, ' Divine Magic can be used with Armor. ' I don't like it, not one bit.

Falin
2011-06-21, 09:48 PM
We already have specialist casters, and we already have generalist casters, and both have limited spells per day. But it's not really a limit.

As it has already been established powerful effects aren't the problem. Unlimited effects are. We don't need to bring powerful effects down to par, because even bringing them down to evocation level maked them better than stabby types. The key is to actually limit what casters can do. See my earlier post.

So disregarding power level for now, because changing the power of spells would be a nighmare world from which there is no escape. How does one go about effectively limiting the effects a caster has access to?

As for devine spellcasters. How do they not make sense? Preists have always been seen as inherently powerful. Hell, the pharos were basically preists, and they were seen as gods. Not ruling by decree of a god. But as actual gods in human flesh. As to spell failure. It was never an effective way to limit casters anyway, so what would the point be of taking it away from clerics?

Immonen
2011-06-21, 10:08 PM
I'm going to agree with Shadow Lord here. Clerics are nothing more than wizards who lose attack magic for healing magic, which could itself just be a different type of arcane magic.

There's no reason that my wizard should be able to destroy souls by channeling energy from the negative energy plane but can't heal people by channeling energy from the positive energy plane. From a fluff perspective, it just doesn't make sense.

Additionally, clerics should have some spell failure chance while armored because they are wizards with different spells. Why should the healer, of all people, be allowed to wear armor when the glass cannon that is the wizard is left high and dry? Either no spell failure, or spell failure all around.

Yitzi
2011-06-21, 10:22 PM
I mean, Dodge is terrible compared to Mage Armor, or worse, Great Mage Armor, from a simple numbers perspective.

Most of the time, that's not so clear. Sure, dodge is only +1 against 1 opponent and Mage Armor is +4 against all opponents, but on the flip side Mage Armor doesn't stack with your actual armor, while dodge does.


Well to begin with evocation spells haven't kept up with the power level of the creatures they're supposed to be used on.

And as a result you have to use more of them per battle. Which is the whole point of what I said: At higher levels, battles should take longer.


And for another evocation is rather vanilla compared to other schools of magic.

True; other schools would still be more subtle and interesting, even if they're no more powerful.


We don't need to bring powerful effects down to par, because even bringing them down to evocation level maked them better than stabby types.

Are they? Let's compare:
A classic evocation-level spell would be fireball or some similar 1d6 damage/level spell. At level 20, that does an average of 70 damage on a failed save.
A raging barbarian (since fighters need a boost, barbarians are better for comparison) at level 20 can be assumed to have 42 strength (18 base plus 5 from advancement, 5 inherent, 6 enhancement, and 8 from rage) for a +16 modifier. So with a +5 greataxe that's 1d12+29, or an average of 35.5 (assuming no power attack, no extra-damage enhancements, etc.) So about half as much damage.
But that's not all. After the first round, the barbarian's based his opponent. If the opponent moves away, it (in addition to giving up its own full attack) provokes an AoO, so the barbarian gets 2 attacks (at full BAB). If it doesn't, the barbarian begins the next turn based (or a 5' step away from based), so can full attack, which in most cases is even better. In contrast, the evoker can only get extra attacks with Quicken Spell, which burns spell slots quickly and substantially decreases the DC for half his spells. He probably still can do somewhat more damage against moving targets than the barbarian if he really wants to, but at the cost of running out even faster.
Of course, it gets more complicated; the evoker's spells are ranged and often can hit multiple enemies, but are also usually easier to construct ablative defenses against and are subject to spell resistance (which, barring some serious penetration capability, will push things strongly in the barbarian's favor.) And of course the barbarian has stronger defenses (especially against rogues; the barbarian is probably the best anti-rogue base class in core.)

Falin
2011-06-21, 10:22 PM
Additionally, clerics should have some spell failure chance while armored because they are wizards with different spells. Why should the healer, of all people, be allowed to wear armor when the glass cannon that is the wizard is left high and dry? Either no spell failure, or spell failure all around.

Well because the glass cannon can stand back can blast stuff, but the healer has to go up to the front lines if they want to heal the stabby types? Even if they didn't healers are ALWAYS the priority target. Trying to kill the fighter while the cleric is still standing is a suckers bet, and any powerful creature knows it. So what do they do? They ignore the pin pricks the fighter is giveing them and attack the guy the wil basically make it impossible to to kill the fighter before they drop first.


EDIT: sorry yitzi missed your post

To begin with, you're comparing a third level spell to a twentieth level character whoís absolutely maxed for damage so thereís that. Even cast by a twentieth level wizard itís not really a fair comparison. Now ignoring the fact the damage of fireball maxes at 10 dice, lets maximize and empower the spell your wizard was casting as an eighth level spell it does 180 points of damage. Or if using the actual spell, 90 points of damage in an area mind. Which both reinforces that casters are better stabby types than stabby types if they want to be, and that evocation isnít all that great. Chain lightning, lvl 6 actually does deal 20d6 damage at level 20 and it can still be maximized or empowerd.

Second, even if the barbarian deals more damage, which he/she probably doesnít because full attack is a crapshoot after level ten without houserules. Evocation spells also usually carry some form of status effect as well as damage, like nausea, bound, stunned, dazed, ect. So to bring spells down to evocation level youíd need to take that into consideration. Also, if the barbís opponent moves away it can withdraw which means not AoO at all, though the barbarian can then charge it.

Yitzi
2011-06-21, 11:20 PM
To begin with, you're comparing a third level spell to a twentieth level character whoís absolutely maxed for damage so thereís that.

Actually, I'm comparing a 9th level spell (as an actual fireball will have too low a DC, plus it will max out at 10 dice as you noted); I simply gave fireball as the classic example (since damage output doesn't really do more damage per caster level than that anyway.)


Now ignoring the fact the damage of fireball maxes at 10 dice, lets maximize and empower the spell your wizard was casting as an eighth level spell it does 180 points of damage. Or if using the actual spell, 90 points of damage in an area mind.

Of course, using maximize and empower means that your DC is going to be very poor, so you're actually looking at a tiny bit better than half that of that 95, and next to nothing if the enemy has evasion.


Chain lightning, lvl 6 actually does deal 20d6 damage at level 20 and it can still be maximized or empowerd.

Of course, that still comes at a cost to DC, and you lose most of the area-effect nature. A maximized chain lightning will still be impressive, to be sure (assuming an 11 to save against a normal 9th level spell, it'll do an average of 81 damage), but not all that much better than the barbarian on an attack+AoO, and a lot easier to protect or resist against.


Second, even if the barbarian deals more damage, which he/she probably doesnít because full attack is a crapshoot after level ten without houserules.

How so? Evading it, so far as I can tell, requires both giving up your own full attack and taking an AoO, which is, if not quite as good, still pretty good.


Evocation spells also usually carry some form of status effect as well as damage, like nausea, bound, stunned, dazed, ect.

Not the core ones, so far as I can tell; perhaps I should have specified that I meant the core ones.


So to bring spells down to evocation level youíd need to take that into consideration. Also, if the barbís opponent moves away it can withdraw which means not AoO at all, though the barbarian can then charge it.

It also means the opponent just gave up his entire attack. Unless he's kiting, that's no way to win a fight. (And if he's kiting, you need ranged anyway, which is even harder to prevent a full attack from.)

Hyooz
2011-06-21, 11:44 PM
Just throwing in a few silver pieces here, but this kind of undertaking would require such a massive upheaval of the 3.5 as we know it, that what you would end up with would barely resemble the system to the point where it might be worth scrapping the whole thing and finding a different system that suits your needs better. Don't be afraid to scrap system settings or such.

Something like Mutants and Masterminds, for example, might be exactly what you're looking for as far as letting people do what they want without power levels going all nutso one-sidedly. Just scrap the super-hero theme, change some flavor here and there and stick it in Faerun or whatever.

The Scion system also a good one.

DoomHat
2011-06-22, 03:10 AM
Wow, man. So much said, so little communicated.
Can we at least agree that as it stands, magic is treated as a niche, even though magic can do everything?
Everyone seems to be proposing different ways to limit what magic can do. Rewrite every spell, cut out most spells, force tighter spell type specialization...
I feel that a Wizard should be able to accomplish things no other class can, yet should not be able replace any other class. A tall order, and I can only assume anyone in here debating the issue is not satisfied with 4th editionís fix.

In direct response to Hyooz,
I think the DoomhatVeklim hypothesis (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=11249089&postcount=5) has a lot of potential. In the original post I said, in effect, that keeping the baby along with the bathwater would be difficult and not necessarily worth it. But I think a lot of us have a certain nostalgia for D&D. Thereís something there to love that other great fantasy games (Legends of Anglerre, Warhammer, Earthdawn, ect.) just donít have. Though Iím not even sure what it is.
Iíd like to avoid a point buy system. If thereís one benefit to D&Dís class based structure, it is that point buy systems tend to make for an arduous pre-game and draws out the powergamer in even the best of us.

Though itís interesting you bring up Scion. It has just occurred to me that what Iím really tiring to do is create a less over the top version of d20 Exalted. I want to make Spells into Charms and limit their availability between classes.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-22, 08:39 AM
Wow, man. So much said, so little communicated.
Can we at least agree that as it stands, magic is treated as a niche, even though magic can do everything?
Everyone seems to be proposing different ways to limit what magic can do. Rewrite every spell, cut out most spells, force tighter spell type specialization...
I feel that a Wizard should be able to accomplish things no other class can, yet should not be able replace any other class. A tall order, and I can only assume anyone in here debating the issue is not satisfied with 4th editionís fix.

In direct response to Hyooz,
I think the DoomhatVeklim hypothesis (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=11249089&postcount=5) has a lot of potential. In the original post I said, in effect, that keeping the baby along with the bathwater would be difficult and not necessarily worth it. But I think a lot of us have a certain nostalgia for D&D. Thereís something there to love that other great fantasy games (Legends of Anglerre, Warhammer, Earthdawn, ect.) just donít have. Though Iím not even sure what it is.
Iíd like to avoid a point buy system. If thereís one benefit to D&Dís class based structure, it is that point buy systems tend to make for an arduous pre-game and draws out the powergamer in even the best of us.

Though itís interesting you bring up Scion. It has just occurred to me that what Iím really tiring to do is create a less over the top version of d20 Exalted. I want to make Spells into Charms and limit their availability between classes.

Magic can't do anything. I agree that Arcane Casters should fill a spot that no one else does. I also say that Arcane Casters should all be spontaneous, and that all spells need to be revamped to make them either stronger or weaker. And Evocation sucks. I've always wanted to make a Mage who can blow stuff up. Like, a Barbarian's Full Attack, Blow up. But it's not possible as is, so I say that what's truly needed is revamping every spell.

Dryad
2011-06-22, 09:13 AM
And what I propose is more class abilities, probably more spells per day, but less overall spell power.
A wizard should do weird stuff; magical stuff, incomprehensible, otherworldly stuff. She just simply shouldn't be bťtter than other people, but also not merely be a walking 'wand of many things.'

As for point-buy vs. RNG: Both have their merits, and their problems. Point-buy awakens the power-gamer, while RNG makes heroes and zeroes in the same party. Neither is a good thing.

elliott20
2011-06-22, 10:17 AM
I personally LIKE the idea that arcane casters can do incredible things. The problem is how often they do it.

Merlin from the 1981 John Boorman "Excalibur" movie disguised Uther as Lord Cornwall, summoned a mist, and allow Uther to ride across water. The very act took Merlin nine whole months to recover from. That can be accomplished with maybe 3 third or fourth level spells in D&D. At the end of the movie, Morgana summons a massive mist that covers Mordred's entire camp, and that pretty much destroyed her beauty.

On the other hand, D&D arcane casters can destroy entire cities on a daily basis with little consequences.

DoomHat
2011-06-22, 11:40 AM
To Shadow Lord
Magic can't do everything? Really? Alright then, list them.
Give me a list of things magic can't do. Not a hypothetical list of things it couldn't do if you had your way. Things magic simply can't accomplish in the current model.

Dryad
Okay, I'm cool with that. It, to my mind, matches the concept of the thread, as class abilities really amount to exclusive feats. Can you give me an idea of what you'd give them (wizards I mean) specifically?

elliott20
Unfortunately that kind of long ball does not sit well with D&D. But it does bring up an interesting thought. How would making some spells into multi-round actions effect play? Would Grease be as abusive if it took 2rounds to manifest?

Shadow Lord
2011-06-22, 12:40 PM
To Shadow Lord
Magic can't do everything? Really? Alright then, list them.
Give me a list of things magic can't do. Not a hypothetical list of things it couldn't do if you had your way. Things magic simply can't accomplish in the current model.

Dryad
Okay, I'm cool with that. It, to my mind, matches the concept of the thread, as class abilities really amount to exclusive feats. Can you give me an idea of what you'd give them (wizards I mean) specifically?

elliott20
Unfortunately that kind of long ball does not sit well with D&D. But it does bring up an interesting thought. How would making some spells into multi-round actions effect play? Would Grease be as abusive if it took 2rounds to manifest?

Depends, are we or are we not including Wish?

Yitzi
2011-06-22, 12:41 PM
Can we at least agree that as it stands, magic is treated as a niche, even though magic can do everything?
Everyone seems to be proposing different ways to limit what magic can do. Rewrite every spell, cut out most spells, force tighter spell type specialization...
I feel that a Wizard should be able to accomplish things no other class can, yet should not be able replace any other class. A tall order, and I can only assume anyone in here debating the issue is not satisfied with 4th editionís fix.

Perhaps the solution is to make the wizard trade unstoppability for that versatility. Magic's versatile, but it tends to be a lot easier to block (usually with other magic) than a sword in the guts.


And Evocation sucks. I've always wanted to make a Mage who can blow stuff up. Like, a Barbarian's Full Attack, Blow up. But it's not possible as is.

Why not? It does mean not taking the combat control route, but that needs to be depowered anyway. It'll also be weaker than that full attack...but on the flip side can blast a whole bunch of enemies, making it less effective against individuals but more effective against groups.

DoomHat
2011-06-22, 01:02 PM
Depends, are we or are we not including Wish?
You tell me.


Perhaps the solution is to make the wizard trade unstoppability for that versatility. Magic's versatile, but it tends to be a lot easier to block (usually with other magic) than a sword in the guts.

I'm a fan of magic that not only can fail often but has strange unpredictable immediate consequences for doing so. "So you failed your check to cast magic missile? Well, good news is you did cast something at your target. Bad news is *roll*, they now seem to undergoing mitosis. You've got a round before there are two of them."

Shadow Lord
2011-06-22, 01:41 PM
You tell me.



I'm a fan of magic that not only can fail often but has strange unpredictable immediate consequences for doing so. "So you failed your check to cast magic missile? Well, good news is you did cast something at your target. Bad news is *roll*, they now seem to undergoing mitosis. You've got a round before there are two of them."

Well since Wish is an Arcane Spell, I suppose it counts. But, to really play at those high levels, we have to ignore the spell Wish. It was never made. We do not speak of it!

So you want to play Warhammer in D&D? You want to make it so that Casters are made out of suck, always? That doesn't fix D&D Magic. That makes it useless, and makes it so that, instead of being able to play anything, you can only play non-magic types, because otherwise, your character will be entirely useless in all scenarios.

I mean, think about it. How is it fair to the n00b who just started playing the game, and wants to make a fun caster guy? He'll try to make the character, sure, but then the more experienced players will tell him that Magic is very prone to failure, and when it fails it screws everything up. So, the only Magic that will ever actually work correctly is going to be DM Magic, and maybe Divine Magic, and Divine Magic already has enough.

DoomHat
2011-06-22, 02:02 PM
You still haven't told me what magic can't do.

On the subject of the change in subject (I will have that list out of you) Warhammer has Faust on the brain. If you've ever actually tired the system, you'd know that the Evil only hits the fan if you go overboard. That system is about balancing the risk of accomplishing nothing at no cost, or accomplishing something at a horrible cost.
Basically I think it'd be fun if spell failure resulted in a Something of Wonder type effect. It better simulates the classic fantasy fiction trope of inexperienced magicians (early level) creating unexpected/weird effects. A botched spell roll can turn into a plot hook or odd quirk that someone has to live with.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-22, 02:20 PM
You still haven't told me what magic can't do.

On the subject of the change in subject (I will have that list out of you) Warhammer has Faust on the brain. If you've ever actually tired the system, you'd know that the Evil only hits the fan if you go overboard. That system is about balancing the risk of accomplishing nothing at no cost, or accomplishing something at a horrible cost.
Basically I think it'd be fun if spell failure resulted in a Something of Wonder type effect. It better simulates the classic fantasy fiction trope of inexperienced magicians (early level) creating unexpected/weird effects. A botched spell roll can turn into a plot hook or odd quirk that someone has to live with.

Magic can't turn you into a god?

It would be fun if spell failure did that. I suppose you could do a mechanic based off of Caster Level... Maybe (10-Caster Level)*3 Percent of Odd Stuff happening?

Yitzi
2011-06-22, 04:21 PM
I'm a fan of magic that not only can fail often but has strange unpredictable immediate consequences for doing so. "So you failed your check to cast magic missile? Well, good news is you did cast something at your target. Bad news is *roll*, they now seem to undergoing mitosis. You've got a round before there are two of them."

That seems a bit extreme; "You just wasted a turn, and now it's the other guy's turn to try to kill you" seems quite sufficient, so long as the chance to overcome specialized resistance is between slim and none, preferably none.


You still haven't told me what magic can't do.

Let's see...
-Get people on your side in a manner that won't wear off and get them angry in the process (and probably be illegal to boot.)
-Help you with puzzles and knowledge. Admittedly, wizards tend to be good at that without magic.
-Find traps effectively for more than a few hours per day without truly insane expenditure (even 1 hour per day is pretty heavy), or disable certain types of traps (automatic reset, can't be smashed) at all.
-Effectively hurt someone with very high spell resistance.
-Give you any significant level of durability/AC that can't be dispelled.
-Be used at-will.

Of course, this is for what I know of (core spells); non-core might have the ability to do some of these things.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-22, 04:34 PM
That seems a bit extreme; "You just wasted a turn, and now it's the other guy's turn to try to kill you" seems quite sufficient, so long as the chance to overcome specialized resistance is between slim and none, preferably none.



Let's see...
-Get people on your side in a manner that won't wear off and get them angry in the process (and probably be illegal to boot.)
-Help you with puzzles and knowledge. Admittedly, wizards tend to be good at that without magic.
-Find traps effectively for more than a few hours per day without truly insane expenditure (even 1 hour per day is pretty heavy), or disable certain types of traps (automatic reset, can't be smashed) at all.
-Effectively hurt someone with very high spell resistance.
-Give you any significant level of durability/AC that can't be dispelled.
-Be used at-will.

Of course, this is for what I know of (core spells); non-core might have the ability to do some of these things.

Wish can do everything. EVERYTHING!!!!!!!!!!

Falin
2011-06-22, 04:58 PM
No, it can't, wish actually has very well defined limits. The description of the spell states emphatically what can and can't be done with it. If your GM house ruled that wish can do anything then Iím afraid your GM just jumped onto the last train heading to crazy town and wonít be back for quite some time. In actuality miracle is quite a bit more potent, then again, you donít cast miracle you ask for it and even then, there are limits.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-22, 05:04 PM
No, it can't, wish actually has very well defined limits. The description of the spell states emphatically what can and can't be done with it. If your GM house ruled that wish can do anything then Iím afraid your GM just jumped onto the last train heading to crazy town and wonít be back for quite some time. In actuality miracle is quite a bit more potent, then again, you donít cast miracle you ask for it and even then, there are limits.

No. There is a clause that states that you can do something more powerful than the others, they just have to be carefully worded. For example; I wish that I have the ability to spontaneously cast the Arcane Spell Wish a number of times per day that is equal to the number of seconds in a single day.

Yitzi
2011-06-22, 05:15 PM
No. There is a clause that states that you can do something more powerful than the others, they just have to be carefully worded.

No, it says you can try to do something more powerful than the others, but may end up with a literal but undesirable fulfillment or a partial fulfillment. So your example might give the ability to spontaneously cast Limited Wish once per day, today only.

DoomHat
2011-06-22, 05:24 PM
The topic is moving in a non-constructive direction. Everyone, please, stop it.:smallannoyed:

Yitzi, the examples you listed are things that magic can not necessarily do well. What we are are addressing here, in part, is that a caster can do them. Magic also has a way of circumventing puzzles. Find the Path (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/findThePath.htm) ends all mazes for example.

So, to cut down on fruitless bickering, here's a homework assignment. Everyone either propose a new idea we can discuss implementing or look through the thread so far and see if you can find an idea that we haven't fully explored.

lesser_minion
2011-06-22, 05:35 PM
This could probably work (and in fact, it's the basis of what True20 does), although spells would still need to be nerfed in the process, and other feats would need a boost.

I'd probably consider grouping a small number of related spells under each feat (so the resulting feat is something more like a psionic power for spell casters).

Bear in mind that the primary problem with magic in D&D is that the designers considered how magic should be performed, but never bothered to think through what magic should be capable of doing in the D&D world. As a result, everything that could be considered 'magical' became fair game. The result is a game that eventually degenerates into a broken, unplayable mess.

No matter what you do to the system, you run the risk of falling into the exact same trap unless you stop to consider the fluff.

EDIT: Ninja'd by 11 minutes. Ouch.

Falin
2011-06-22, 05:41 PM
Well there's not much you can do about topic drift here, if you want to change magic there's allot of stuff to take into account.

Now, if you want to explore earlier ideas, I suggested separating magic into buffs, attacks, and healing but in retrospect there's a better way to break it down. So basically there would be three schools of magic, the "attacking school" spells that do damage and cause negative effects, the "buffing school" spells that increase stats or reduce negative effects (this includes healing), and the "non-combat school" which is all the other spells. This removes any distinction between divine and arcane magic as far as spells go, but each caster can only have one school, which limits what casters can do from a game stand point. Perhaps not ideal, but aside from puzzle enemies you wouldn't have to worry about too much re-writing.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-22, 06:13 PM
Use Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved. I have no idea if it's balanced or not, but it looks AWESOME!

Yitzi
2011-06-22, 08:01 PM
Yitzi, the examples you listed are things that magic can not necessarily do well. What we are are addressing here, in part, is that a caster can do them.

Ok, agreed that magic is the ultimate Swiss Army Knife. So what? I don't really see a problem if a wizard alone can do a far inferior version of what it would otherwise take a party to accomplish.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-22, 08:10 PM
Ok, agreed that magic is the ultimate Swiss Army Knife. So what? I don't really see a problem if a wizard alone can do a far inferior version of what it would otherwise take a party to accomplish.

That's both right and wrong. The broken part of a Wizard is that he can do a superior version of what everyone else can. They're the ultimate Swiss Army Knife in that way.

elliott20
2011-06-23, 04:53 AM
Well, the way I see it, having magic become unreliable is the fastest way to make magic users suck. I think the only time savvy players will go for something that has any chance of backfiring at all is when they are attempting where the gains are far greater than the risk, and sticking that spell failure chance on every single thing a caster does just makes them go from too good to too dangerous to stand next to.

The way I see it, before we can really start talking about mechanical changes, we need to examine the way that we think magic should be able to do vs. what is the cost of magic.

I have always felt that the effect of magic and how it takes to use it should be determined by several factors

1. skill level: not skills as in a bluff check or arcane knowledge necessarily, but skill in the general sense of the word. That is, a more well practiced magician should be better and more efficient and less likely to fail at casting.
2. time: the more time you have to prepare a spell, the less likely it will fail. Also, more complex spells in general should be more difficult to prepare
3. materials: material components were awesome in 2E, as it makes the caster go quest for the stuff. 3E often just replaces it with money since it names the material and it's worth, which reduces a lot of it into a monetary issue.
4. other resources: other kinds of resources that is not easily replaced. i.e. experience, constitution points, energy crystals, whatever.

if we consider the total effect of a particular spell (whether good or bad) to be the total spell's power, we can write down a general formula as such:

power = skill + time + material + other resources

The current D&D model has time and other resources to be effectively 0 in most cases, with materials being fairly low too. So it's mostly just a matter of levels.

Let's assume for a second that skill is calculated as caster level * spell level, and material is calculated as material * (monetary worth / 500, round up), then we can see that for a 9th level spell that costs no money to cast, you typically have a spell power of about 162. (slightly higher if there is a material cost) So, if you're level 16, and can only get to level 8 spells, and want to get those level 9's, you need to make up for it in some way. Maybe you need to increase your spell materials.

Notice, by the way, I have not touched on the effects of the spells itself. I have only focused on the input from the characters.

Now, this model, as of right now, simply opens up MORE chances for players to over reach and further break the system. But what if we were to say, increase the cost of casting spells? i.e. increase the spell power requirement for the current level spells?

That is, what if we were to increase the left side of the equation? The characters then need to increase the other areas to compensate.

Now, a model like this can make spell casting a nightmare, as you would have to calculate in each situation what can you do to make it work. i.e. I want to cast spell A, but in this situation, I have all the time in the world, so I'll just sit here and prep the spell. In a different situation, I don't have time, but I am willing to decrease the spell's base power, etc. This is the kind of situation that can really bog the game down.

My solution? Don't give them that flexibility during the game itself. Each time they want to make a change in how they power a spell, that makes it a NEW spell in and of itself, and it requires time and research. When they finish writing it, and get it approved by the DM, they basically just copy the spell entry, but changing a couple of relevant variables. (i.e. increasing the time part of the equation means you either spend more time casting or more time prepping the spell)

The beauty of this method is that you can actually come up with new ways of powering spells relatively easily. If you want to enact a system where all magic is powered by soul gems, a rare kind of gem in that setting, you can make the soul gem side of the equation be worth more, clubbing it all into the "other resource", and other areas worth less.

The tough question is what is the exact formula to be used?

Veklim
2011-06-23, 05:32 AM
OK, back to topic!!

We started talking waaaay back in the thread about a possible spell(s)/feat buy system and now I'm gonna elaborate a little bit on my current thoughts...

You start off with your casting class, wizards have to prepare, but get bonus metamagic/item creation feats, sweet. Sorcerers don't have to prepare but also don't get the bonus feats. Bards don't get access to higher end spells at present, and honestly I'm liking this (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=201346) so much that it's probably replacing the standard for me, so I'll just ignore them for now!

The wizard SHOULD NOT be able to add spells with impunity, the MAIN problem with a wizard is that the longer he has to obtain new spells, the faster his potential increases. THIS IS WRONG. So, we remove this caveat, they may no longer learn new spells from other people's spell books, scrolls or anything else for that matter. They instead gain the advanced learning feature of soooo many other classes which fills in the hole in the principle without raping the rest of the system.

The sorcerer SHOULD NOT have to wait another level for his spells, he already gets screwed for lack of bonus feats, that's enough to pay for spontaneity in my mind, more than enough. Instead, the sorcerer gains at the same rate as the wizard, with 1 less spell known, and 1 more spell slot, sorted.

On to the feat ideas. Level 7 spells are actually a rather nice place to stop, 8th starts losing the plot, and 9th is just plain silly. So, we say that the spells per day numbers are the same for wizard, but sorcerer uses the wizard spells per day table +1 instead of it's current table. Remove COMPLETELY the spells known section from both classes, except for starting spells (cantrips and 1st level). I will work on the spells/day progressions soon if this goes down well...

Caster Essentials
Requirements:Spellcraft 6 ranks, Casting stat 12+, Ability to cast 1st level arcane spells.
Benefit:You gain access to (and the ability to cast) your choice of 3 spells of 2nd level or lower from your chosen school of magic.
Special:If you are a spontaneous caster, you may also choose any 1 spell of 2nd level or lower from any other school and add it to your spells known.
Special:If you are a prepared caster, you may also choose any 2 spells of 2nd level or lower from any other schools (except prohibited schools in the case of specialists) and add them to your spells known.

The next feat in the chain would require spellcraft 9 ranks, casting stat 13+ and Caster Essentials, same idea with 3rd level spells, etc, etc, etc...

elliott20
2011-06-23, 06:49 AM
I wonder, as a mental experiment, what would happen if all caster progressions were slowed down so that the highest level spell any caster can get is 7th.

Dryad
2011-06-23, 07:37 AM
Elliot: Save DC's would need to increase drastically. :P The number '2' in a d20 environment means a 10% difference, until you've broken atmo in balance (not that hard in d20, I'll admit).


Dryad
Okay, I'm cool with that. It, to my mind, matches the concept of the thread, as class abilities really amount to exclusive feats. Can you give me an idea of what you'd give them (wizards I mean) specifically?
Ehm.. I'd make the Wizard extremely scroll/spellbook based. Even less spells prepared/day, but the ability to 'store' spells in scrolls and special books more easily. This means that a Wizard who has put some work in her craft has a large array of spells available, and can conjure up utility spells as easily as leafing through her book, but without this preparation, it won't do that much. It also means that wizards will most likely focus on utility spells in their books and scrolls, and keep the few offensive spells in their spells/day slots, so that they have a scroll or page for any occasion.
There's already the craft skills, here.. Craft wand, rod, scroll, potion... But these all cost a pretty penny, and they're not really immersive because it costs WEEKS to craft things in-game.

To expand on the bookiness of the Wizard, I'd say that it should be possible to up the DC for saves against spells written down on glyphs, scrolls and in books, in a way that scales with the wizard's level.

As one of the very special things, I'd say that, with proper research, a Wizard could write a spell differently from the original, which could lead to energy substitution, or even combining several spell's effects in a single cast/scroll/page.

As an additional class feature, I would advise the wizard to choose a number of skills equal to her intelligence modifier, and add these skills to her class skill list. Also, increase the number of skill points to 4+int mod.

This just to give as a quick sketch to what I want the wizard class to look like: Lots and lots and lots of books and paper-work.

elliott20
2011-06-23, 07:49 AM
So playing wizards is basically an elaborate game of "CPAs: The accounting"?

Dryad
2011-06-23, 08:38 AM
Not really... I was thinking more of a Ponder Stibbons meets The Librarian, only.. Less funny, and possibly less hairy. :P
Wizards, to me, are all about book-magic. Innate and wild magic are completely different, and covered by completely different classes. ;)

elliott20
2011-06-23, 09:24 AM
well, I can totally go along with that fluff.

But the fluff, I feel, is pretty simple stuff to fix. The hard part still comes down to the mechanics. If I may, I think the ultimate goal for balancing the gap between arcane casters and non-casters can be summed up as:

1. we need to make arcane casters weaker
2. we want to preserve the option of versatility
3. we want to preserve the possibility that caster can still do great things
4. but at the same time, we don't want the casters to be ALL of these things at the same time

any solution that we propose needs to push things towards that end. I think my model can potentially address this with a bit of work. (Not the whole "slow progression" thing, but the post before that)

Yitzi
2011-06-23, 09:58 AM
That's both right and wrong. The broken part of a Wizard is that he can do a superior version of what everyone else can. They're the ultimate Swiss Army Knife in that way.

Indeed; my point is that the problem isn't their versatility but the fact that it comes with heavy power as well.

Shadow Lord
2011-06-23, 11:11 AM
Indeed; my point is that the problem isn't their versatility but the fact that it comes with heavy power as well.

Precisely. No matter how you change the casting system, the spells that you cast are the broken things. Thus, the only real way to fix the Caster vs Martial thing is to fix all of the broken spells. Thus, I propose the motion to create a list of the spells that need work ( Both those over and under-powered) , as well as spells that can be used as a baseline. Who agrees?

Yitzi
2011-06-23, 12:24 PM
Precisely. No matter how you change the casting system, the spells that you cast are the broken things. Thus, the only real way to fix the Caster vs Martial thing is to fix all of the broken spells. Thus, I propose the motion to create a list of the spells that need work ( Both those over and under-powered) , as well as spells that can be used as a baseline. Who agrees?

I'm already working on such a project, so a list of such spells would definitely be of help. Of core, here's what I have (for the serious stuff, there's also some minor stuff):

-The Polymorph chain. Most particularly PAO and Shapechange, but even Alter Self can give some absurd natural armor.
-Minor/Major creation if allowed to create alchemical substances and poison.
-Stinking Cloud
-Solid/Acid Fog
-Shrink Item (via cheese only)
-Contact Other Plane (via cheese only)
-Wall of X (excluding Wall of Fire and maybe Wall of Ice)
-Waves of Fatigue/Exhaustion (if only for the lack of a save)
-Antimagic Field (via cheese involving things like incorporeal creatures only)
-Transformation (in medium-to-high epic levels only, as it gives +1 per level while everyone else only gets +1 per 2 levels)
-Forcecage (when used as a suffocation trap)
-Simulacrum (Powerful ally, totally under your control, infinite duration so you can build up an army over time)
-Gate (calling creatures form only)
-Time stop (only when the duration is fixed somehow, such as a rod of maximize)
-Spike Growth/Stones (if only for the short casting time)
-Fire Seeds (via cheese only)