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Shadowknight12
2011-06-24, 09:28 PM
It is my desire to remake the existing magic system to bring down Tier 1 and Tier 2 to somewhere between low Tier 4 and high Tier 3. It is not my goal for this to be acceptable or popular for others, only that it works for me and my players.

In order to do this, what I was thinking of was to examine what makes the classes in Tier 1 and Tier 2 to be what they are, and so, before I get down to work, I figured it'd be a good idea to have a macroscopic view of the system, to really understand it, before I actually start tinkering with it. I have read the Tiers thread over at Brilliant Gameologists and tried to carefully study as many Tiers discussions as I could (which wasn't incredibly hard, considering you'd have to gouge your eyes out to avoid them).

My understanding of the magic system and the way it interacts with Tiers is that Tiers 1 and 2 have the versatility and competence necessary to tackle any obstacle with enough preparation. Instead of parroting the Tiers definition set forth at BG, I'll summarise it with this: Hypercompetence.

What I need your input on, however, is whether or not my current general ideas on what to do will, in fact, have the impact I'm looking for. Spoilered for convenience.

Personal Views on Magic:


Magic should come at a price equivalent to the effect it is creating. Spellcasting should never be done lightly. A spellcaster should never be able to mitigate the price he pays for casting a spell.
Spellcasting should be dangerous. Magic should have a high chance of making things worse instead of fixing them.
Spellcasters ought to be frail. The less naturally frail a spellcaster is, the less potent their magic ought to be.
Magic used to offset frailty should displace the weakness instead of covering it. If the character wishes to gain DR, they must gain an equivalent drawback, such as Weakness to Fire or a penalty to saves.
Magic should not be certain. A spellcaster should never be 100% sure of what a spell will do, or if he will cast it correctly.
Magic should not be all or nothing. There should be degrees of effect, depending on the spellcaster's skill or the victim's fortitude.
Magic should be able to be shrugged or fought off. Nobody, not even the lowliest commoner or house cat, should be helpless in the face of magic. A spellcaster should not be omnipotent or unstoppable.
Magic should not be better than mundane work. A spellcaster should be on the same playing field as a warrior, archer, face-type or sneak-type.
Magic should not be able to emulate everything. There should be many things that magic cannot do. Just like magic can do things not achievable by mundane means, so too magic must have limits, things it cannot replicate (which is why, perhaps, it is not better on the whole than mundane work).
The environment should interact with magic. Nature should always win over magic, even if it must work like a river eroding a cliff. Old folklore will be handy here.


Goals:


Tier 1 must not be able to have all options available to them. They must have a very constrained spell selection, in the vein of the warmage, beguiler, dread necromancer and duskblade.
Tier 2's options must likewise be reduced, though not as harshly as Tier 1.
The modified magic system should coincide with my personal views on magic above.
Core should be balanced first, splats second.
Clerics and druids should not have their entire lists available to them at every day. They should be forced to specialise and make do with what they have. Their spell lists should be divided thematically.
Wizards should likewise be forced to specialise (far, far more heavily than sorcerers, clerics and druids). Universalists should have less available spells to cast. A wizard should not be able to get more spells per level than what is allotted to them.
Sorcerers should have a theme behind their spells, something that unifies their spell choices (and similarly constrains their options), but it must be different and slightly less harsh than the wizard's, cleric's or druid's.
Melee should be balanced later, to bring Tiers 5 and down up to standard. This system remake should not make melee viable. It should make spellcasters less hypercompetent.
Some spells will need to be eliminated altogether (Time Stop, Reverse Gravity, etc).
Some spells will need to be reclassified. Universal, for example, needs more spells to be viable as a school. A lot of Conjuration(Creation) is now in Evocation(Creation).
All spells should allow SR and saves.
All schools should be equally difficult to ban. To this effect, I've made all non-mindless creatures able to be affected by mind-effecting effects. Immunity to mind-affecting effects should never come easy. More decisions along this vein should be made to render all schools equally viable.
Permanent magical effects should be exceedingly rare or altogether non-existent. Spells that create permanent effects should instead have a duration, turned into an Incantation or be altogether obliterated.
Long-duration buffs should be exceedingly rare or altogether non-existent.
No-save-just-die spells should not exist. Save-or-die spells should be depowered, rarer or come at an excruciatingly high cost.
The environment should interact with magic in inimical ways. Running water should Dispel Magic, cold iron should be immune to magic (granting a bonus to saves, granting SR, negating effects, weapons made of cold iron should render a caster incapable of casting spells for a short period, etc), non-druidic magic should have a diminished or outright non-existent effect in wild places (and vice-versa, druidic magic should have a diminished or outright non-existent effect in civilised or blighted areas), some areas of the world should make magic go wild, antimagic areas should be common, etc.
Targets should have some way to avoid or reduce the effect of a spell affecting them. Not like SR, Evasion or Mettle, but something that gives non-casters (regardless of tier) a fair chance at surviving an encounter with a spellcaster.

Now, I put forth a few ideas I have been pondering as a way to achieve my goals and adjust the magic system so that it becomes what I want it to be.

General:


Remove spells that duplicate class features, such as Find Traps, Knock, Tenser's Transformation, Divine Power and so on. Less spells available is a good thing.
Concentration disappears as a skill. The actions described on that skill description auto-fail if the character takes at least 1 point of damage while undertaking them. Diamond Mind uses Autohypnosis instead.
Some magic should be open to everyone (they will follow the Incantations rules found in UA). These would be Conjuration(Calling), Transmutation(Polymorph) and many Divinations. These would be removed from the game as actual spells, and instead made open to everyone. Each casting would cost roughly 10 to 20% of the WBL of a spellcaster of the minimum level necessary to cast the spell they used to be (for example, Alter Self would cost 10 to 20% of the WBL of a 3rd level character; while Planar Ally would cost 10 to 20% of the WBL of a 11th level character). The prices could be even higher. They are always custom-made after a player requests the DM for the chance to learn how to use a ritual. A DM is not obliged to honor the request if he believes the ritual will unbalance the campaign. Furthermore, he is encouraged to give knowledge of the ritual to all party members equally.
A spellcaster casting a spell of his highest level available must make a Will save (DC set by the spell heís casting) or suffer an additional mishap upon casting the spell (the spell is cast normally). On a roll of 5 or less, the spell fizzles (though the mishap still occurs if the save was failed).
Some spells have an Attrition cost. This cost is 1d3 points of Constitution damage per level of the spell being cast. Spells from level 5 and higher inflict Constitution drain instead of Constitution damage. Creatures with no Constitution suffer Charisma damage or Charisma drain instead. This damage or drain cannot be prevented in any way (damage may be healed naturally but not magically, while drain may be healed magically). Creatures immune to ability damage or ability drain are not immune to this effect. Creatures who do not heal naturally heal the ability damage as though they could.
The first time a spell with an Attrition cost is cast, the spellcaster must make a Fortitude save (DC set by the spell) or become Fatigued for 1d6 hours. If the spellcaster casts another spell with an Attrition cost, fails the save and he is already Fatigued, he becomes Exhausted for 2d6 hours instead. If the spellcaster casts another spell with an Attrition cost, fails the save and he is already Exhausted, he becomes Unconscious for 3d6 hours instead. During this time, the spellcaster cannot be roused from his state without magic. When he awakens, he is Exhausted for 2d6 hours from that moment on. The state of unconsciousness does not count as a restful sleep. These conditions occur even to creatures immune to fatigue, exhaustion and unconsciousness, because they affect the mind and the soul along with the body.


Wizard:


Must specialize like a Psion. All specialists except for Universalists must give up two schools. All specialists except for Universalists receive 2 spells per level, and they must be from their chosen school. Universalists receive 1 spell per level, but it may be from any school. All specialists except for Universalists may be Focused Specialists (specializing in a subschool). They gain 1 extra spell per level, of their chosen subschool, in exchange for giving up another school.

Wizards cannot copy scrolls onto their spellbooks. Copying another wizardís spellbook can still be done, but the DM is explicitly discouraged from allowing players to get their hands on a spellbook due to the risk of unbalancing the game (it is left as an option for DMs to give their wizard players spells outside their school if they want). Divination can be chosen as a banned school. Universal cannot be banned.

Familiars require the expenditure of a feat to gain them. In exchange, wizards get a bonus wizard feat at 1st level. Variants that replace familiars replace that bonus feat instead.


Abjurer: Three branches. Anti-Magic, Repulsion and Protection.
Conjurer: Two branches. Summoning and Teleportation.
Diviner: Four branches. Detection, Prevention, Communication and Scrying.
Enchanter: Three branches. Charm, Compulsion and Emotion.
Evoker: Two branches. Creation and Destruction.
Illusionist: Five branches. Figment, Glamer, Pattern, Phantasm and Facsimile (formerly known as Shadow).
Necromancer: Four branches. Life, Death, Recall and Soul.
Transmuter: Three branches. Enhancement (buffs), Attenuation (debuffs) and Alteration (X to Y).
Universalist: No branches.


Cleric:

The choice of two domains is permanent. Every day before praying for spells, the cleric must choose a Dogma from where all his spells of that day (except those in domain slots) must come from. Higher-level clerics gain access to being able to choose between two dogmas at level 10 and to three dogmas at level 15. Clerics cannot cast spontaneously. Dogmas below:


Smiting: Divine/elemental damage.
Shielding: Sanctuary and other protections.
Healing: Positive energy damage.
Harming: Negative energy damage.
Blessing: Enhancements, buffs.
Cursing: Debuffs, curses, hexes.
Restoring: Restoration effects, removal of curses and conditions, removal of buffs on enemies.
Communing: Divinations and detections.
Recalling: Resurrection and animating the dead.
Administering: Basic utility spells (food, water, shelter, light, etc).
Traveling: Basic travel spells.
Channeling: Spells that summon the powers of the clericís deity or its servants.


Druid:

Must choose between wild shape and spellcasting. Natural Spell does not exist. Druids cannot cast spontaneously. Every day before praying for spells, the druid must choose a Doctrine from where all his spells of that day must come from. Higher-level druids gain access to being able to choose between two doctrines at level 10 and to three doctrines at level 15. Doctrines below:


Natureís Ally: Summoning spells.
Beast: Animal-influencing or animal-themed spells.
Thorn: Plant-influencing or plant-themed spells.
Faerie: Fey-influencing or fey-themed spells.
Walker: Transportation, movement and travelling spells.
Tamer: Non-damaging elemental spells.
Seer: Divination, detection, sense-enhancement.
Blighter: Poison, disease, rust, corruption, debuffs, etc.
Healer: Healing, curing, restoration, etc.
Reaper: Damaging spells.
Warden: Protection, resistance, buffs, enhancements, etc.
Survivor: Daily utility spells (food, shelter, water, heat, weaponry, etc).


Sorcerer:

Familiars require the expenditure of a feat to gain them. In exchange, sorcerers get a bonus feat at 1st level. Variants that replace familiars replace that bonus feat instead. Sorcerers gain Eschew Materials as a free feat at 1st level.

Here, I am drawing a blank. I don't want to require the same specialisation I'm demanding of wizards, so I was instead considering to have sorcerers choose a descriptor or group of descriptors (Such as "[Fire]" or "[Water] and [Cold]") at first level and have them only pick spells known that have those descriptors. However, I'm fairly certain that the spell lists don't have enough spells with descriptors to support this approach.

Another idea was to craft "Bloodlines" or "Legacies" or "Inner Sources of Power" (similarly to what Pathfinder has done) that are basically a minor power (such as the ones granted by domains) and then a list of spells grouped thematically that the sorcerer can choose from. He'd choose a Legacy at first level and then his spell selection would be constrained by that choice. Whether the Legacy choice is permanent or not (and whether they might be able to acquire more Legacies as they level up) is up for debate.

Above all, sorcerers should have actual class features, even if it's merely a token "Bonus wizard feats" progression. But they should have something.

I would most definitely be looking for suggestions for this one.

What can help me:


Suggestions on what to do in order to achieve my goals.
Pointing out ways in which my ideas or tentative mechanics are not helping me achieve my goals.
Pointing out flaws in my understanding of the magic system and spellcasters.
Pointing out possible pitfalls that might occur in the game upon implementations of these modifications.
Criticising my proposed modifications in the context of my goals and views on magic.
Not saying anything if you can't think of anything useful or constructive to say. I'm not looking for an argument. I'm not looking to be told that I'm "playing the game wrong" or that I should "go play another game system instead." I want to achieve those goals and realise my views in this system.


What will not help me:


Criticising my goals or views on magic.
Assuming I intend others to adopt my views or proposed mechanics. I don't. They're exclusively for me.
Assuming that my players will not like this or disagree with my views, or that I will spring this on my players unannounced. I will do no such thing. I am willing to play ordinary D&D if my players dislike my mechanics. I am not a DM that imposes anything upon my players.
Assuming I will enforce this inflexibly. I am a flexible DM. If exceptions have to be made for the sake of a player, I will do so.


This is not intended to be a complete and comprehensive write up of the system. When I've gone through the necessary critique and fine-tuning, discarding the bad and gathering more suggestions, I will create another thread with a full rules write up. This is more of a brainstorming thread, perhaps, if that's the right term.

Thanks in advance for reading and posting!

Shadow Lord
2011-06-24, 10:22 PM
This is meant to help you.

What you are doing right now leads to the greatest pitfall known to Magic Modifications. You are making Magic practically unusable. You are making redundant the Casting class. Nae, you are making the Casting classes worse than redundant, you are making them a weakness. You are attempting to modify by destroying; balance by removing. You have created an ineffective and poorly designed system that causes Casters to become the bane to a party. Now, I know this might seem like it's criticizing your views and goals. It is not. I agree with several things that you said, but there are far too many flaws in your idea as is. Of note is that you want Low Tier 3. That is not a good idea. Medium Tier 3 is the best balance point, because it means you are very good at what you do, and pretty good at a few other things. Another flaw in your thinking is saying that a Mage should always be as good as mundane classes. Logically, this makes no sense; if those classes are even, then why was Magic ever invented? The point of a Mage is to do some things better, which is why they have a limited amount of spells per day. Saying they are even, but a Mage is limited on how often he gets to be even, is like saying paper is the same as a sheet of steel with the same thickness. Sure the paper can be hit a few times, but it'll break quickly. A steel sheet, on the otherhand, can withstand the hits for much longer. Now, onto another point: Cold Iron Has Never, Ever, Ever, EVER been associated with stopping Magic. Ever. That is purely a fictional belief, based on no legends that have ever existed. Next point! Don't say that Nature is automatically better than Magic. It just doesn't work. What would be better is that Arcane Magic and Natural Magic serve as a Dichotomy, two sides of the coin, each one equal to the other. And saying that a house cat can shrug off a spell is like saying a house cat can shrug off a sword blow. You wanna say that? Because you're basically saying that Magic is ineffective against the lowliest of people, and then logically you're saying that the highest people won't be phased. Saying Magic can't be certain isn't good for the game from a mechanical stand point; it provides another incentive to not play a Mage, especially when it's already redundant, what with your other incentives not to play a Mage. You're saying that a Mage has to pay a cost for casting a spell, which is like saying a Warrior has to pay a cost for swinging his sword. Next; Spellcasting should not Ever make things worse, unless you wanna say that a Warrior swinging his sword can make things worse. Yes, if you're using Critical Fumble rules, he should have a chance of his spell doing something unexpected. But how is it fair to Mages if you make them unable to use their spells without risk of making everything screwed up. That's like telling somebody they can make some buttered bread, but there's no knife. Or butter. Or bread. What can they do? And saying Mage's ought to be frail is so stereotypical, it's like saying all black people are good at basketball. It's the same concept; you're limiting not just mechanics, but also back stories. You're making some character concepts impossible. And if there is random Anti-Magic areas, there should be random Enhanced-Magic areas; they should logically be about even. And Wild Magic areas should probably be about equal to the two of them combined. And those two shouldn't be common, because then Magic will, once again, be useless. I think that's everything, but I'll come back later and comment on other things, and add ways to fix things along the goals that you want, in a different post. Also:

This Is Not Meant To Help You

Just use casters that all specialize in one school each for each class, and a single prepared caster that gets a less limited list and very few spells per day.

Shadowknight12
2011-06-24, 10:54 PM
This is meant to help you.

Thank you for posting.


What you are doing right now leads to the greatest pitfall known to Magic Modifications. You are making Magic practically unusable.

This is, in my view, not a bad thing.


You are making redundant the Casting class. Nae, you are making the Casting classes worse than redundant, you are making them a weakness.

Yes, this was intended.


You are attempting to modify by destroying; balance by removing.

And I believe this to be a reasonable design decision, just as valid as balance by addition or balance by modification or balance by replacement.


You have created an ineffective and poorly designed system that causes Casters to become the bane to a party.

I would very much to know what, exactly, makes this so. Specific examples will help me understand what is the problem.


Now, I know this might seem like it's criticizing your views and goals. It is not. I agree with several things that you said, but there are far too many flaws in your idea as is.

All right, but I would like to know, exactly, what these flaws are.


Of note is that you want Low Tier 3. That is not a good idea. Medium Tier 3 is the best balance point, because it means you are very good at what you do, and pretty good at a few other things.

That is your opinion. It is not mine, and most importantly, it is certainly not my players'. I wouldn't mind so much to focus on Medium Tier 3, but my players prefer a much lower point. I am merely giving myself (and future prospective players) room for choice. If future players want a higher tier campaign, it should be arrangeable.


Another flaw in your thinking is saying that a Mage should always be as good as mundane classes. Logically, this makes no sense; if those classes are even, then why was Magic ever invented?

This is criticising my views on magic, and this is exactly something I was anticipating to be told, hence why I added so many disclaimers. You disagree with my views on magic. That's okay, you're not wrong.

The way I see things, magic is not technology. It was never invented. It is a part of the cosmology, and spellcasters are people who can tap into that part of the universe. It's the talent they have, much like how others can run fast, or are really strong. You need not agree, but this is what I want to achieve.


The point of a Mage is to do some things better, which is why they have a limited amount of spells per day.

I disagree. I would like for mages to be able to do things differently, not necessarily better.


Saying they are even, but a Mage is limited on how often he gets to be even, is like saying paper is the same as a sheet of steel with the same thickness. Sure the paper can be hit a few times, but it'll break quickly. A steel sheet, on the otherhand, can withstand the hits for much longer.

I fail to understand how this analogy applies here. I'm afraid you lost me.


Now, onto another point: Cold Iron Has Never, Ever, Ever, EVER been associated with stopping Magic. Ever. That is purely a fictional belief, based on no legends that have ever existed.

I would disagree, but I won't go on an internet hunt to prove you wrong. Regardless of whether it's truth or not, I like the "fictional belief" it espouses. I like the idea of something natural that anyone can obtain being the bane of magic.


Next point! Don't say that Nature is automatically better than Magic. It just doesn't work. What would be better is that Arcane Magic and Natural Magic serve as a Dichotomy, two sides of the coin, each one equal to the other.

Nature =/= Nature magic. Just because the druid's spells are more geared to affecting nature or drawing power from it, that doesn't make them any less magic. Within the realm of magic, Nature Magic, Divine Magic, Arcane Magic and any other great type of magic should all be more or less equal to each other.


And saying that a house cat can shrug off a spell is like saying a house cat can shrug off a sword blow.

Have you tried landing a blow on a house cat? I haven't, but I am sure that it's not as easy as it looks.


You wanna say that? Because you're basically saying that Magic is ineffective against the lowliest of people, and then logically you're saying that the highest people won't be phased.

You forget that there are high-level spells, too. A spell should be able to be fought off, shrugged off, endured or evaded by someone of a similar level of the spellcaster. A high level spellcaster should be a terrible threat to a low level character, but should be on equal footing to a high level character.


Saying Magic can't be certain isn't good for the game from a mechanical stand point; it provides another incentive to not play a Mage, especially when it's already redundant, what with your other incentives not to play a Mage.

Yes, this is intentional.


You're saying that a Mage has to pay a cost for casting a spell, which is like saying a Warrior has to pay a cost for swinging his sword.

A warrior has to pay a cost for swinging his sword. They're just not as "in your face" as the spellcaster's. There are many things that the warrior is sacrificing in order to be able to swing a sword. He is specialising to the point of absurdity, where he can do little else than swing his sword. He may not pay the price with every swing, but he has paid the price by choosing to specialise in swinging swords instead of being a mage.


Next; Spellcasting should not Ever make things worse, unless you wanna say that a Warrior swinging his sword can make things worse.

A warrior cannot achieve some of the things the mage can achieve. This should come at a price. Just like the mage has an increased chance of trivialising the encounter, or at least impact it greatly, so too should he have a risk of making things worse.


Yes, if you're using Critical Fumble rules, he should have a chance of his spell doing something unexpected. But how is it fair to Mages if you make them unable to use their spells without risk of making everything screwed up.

Because magic should have consequences. This is one of my views. You say you're not criticising my views, but this is exactly the kind of attacks I was expecting.


That's like telling somebody they can make some buttered bread, but there's no knife. Or butter. Or bread. What can they do?

You are exaggerating. You are assuming that the risk of making things worse so vastly outweighs the benefits that it will always be better not to cast the spell. This is wrong. In some cases, certain circumstances will make spellcasting a bad idea, but they require an extremely rare combination of factors. Most of the time, casting a spell will greatly tip the scales in the party's favour. This should come at a price and should carry dire consequences.


And saying Mage's ought to be frail is so stereotypical, it's like saying all black people are good at basketball.

I meant full spellcasters. Gishes will exchange magical power for less frailty and greater combat prowess. Nothing will stop a full spellcaster from being a gish if he dislikes the notion that spellcasters should be frail. The price he will pay for getting rid of this weakness is less magical power.


It's the same concept; you're limiting not just mechanics, but also back stories. You're making some character concepts impossible.

I wonder why I bother with disclaimers, really. Read the last item of the last list. I am not inflexible. I make no character concept impossible. If a character wants to play a concept that does not fit with this system, I will modify it. This has been true of 3.5e and will continue to be true in this new system. I've had players who wanted to play Awakened Animals. Someone who wants to play a character concept not immediately adaptable to this new system will be similarly accommodated.


And if there is random Anti-Magic areas, there should be random Enhanced-Magic areas; they should logically be about even.

I will leave that to the discretion of the DM, but no, Enhanced-Magic areas would oppose Diminished-Magic areas (and yes, they should be about even). I would wager that Anti-Magic areas would oppose Wild Magic areas, but that's just a guess.


And Wild Magic areas should probably be about equal to the two of them combined.

Or that.


And those two shouldn't be common, because then Magic will, once again, be useless.

You keep assuming that the slightest risk or the slightest consequence makes magic unusable. If a spellcaster wants to play it 100% safe, then you're right, he won't cast a single spell. Magic should not be safe and predictable.


I think that's everything, but I'll come back later and comment on other things, and add ways to fix things along the goals that you want, in a different post.

And I look forward to it. I just hope that you can help me realise my goals and views, rather than telling me how wrong they are.


Also:

This Is Not Meant To Help You

Just use casters that all specialize in one school each for each class, and a single prepared caster that gets a less limited list and very few spells per day.

And if this magic system modification becomes infeasible, I'll keep that as a potential alternative. Or I'll keep it as an alternative anyway, for prospective future players who aren't keen on going for the whole change.

DoomHat
2011-06-24, 11:16 PM
It's clear you put a lot of work into this. I agree on a few counts, but think you may have to many fail-safes in here. They're all solid ideas individually but all combined I worry they shoot way past your goal and render casters either helpless, unplayable, or worst of all, un-fun.
This is also all a little dense. I'm not even sure how complex this is in actual play because its all written in reference to changes in an existing paradigm, rather then a new one. Could you please write it up as though it were the rules text for magic in a new addition? Once you've got that I'll be easier to playtest without confusion.

Lastly, have you considered the simple fix of removing spells all together and just letting magic be gained as, and function as, class abilities not unlike those of mundane classes?

Shadow Lord
2011-06-24, 11:22 PM
Out of curiosity, how do you view Wild Magic? Some people say they should make it harder to cast spells, other say easier. Also: Anti-Magic would be opposite to Infinite Magic. But that's a joke, so don't implement it.

Also: You're saying that you intentionally provided multiple incentives to not play Mages. Not to be rude, but can you provide some examples of specific incentives to play Mages?

A warrior doesn't have to specialize so much to be good at swinging a sword, though. He can pick up 4-5 feats, and then he's golden, if he's chosen the right feats.

And yes, I have tried hitting a blow on a House Cat. It was with a broom, but nonetheless, it was very easy. So neh :smallwink:

If Nature Magic is Derived from Nature ( By nomenclature it is ) then it is therefore Nature. So, it would be better to say Nature should be equivalent to the Arcane.

Well, here's why you don't like having a chance of screwing everybody up: Nobody likes to be responsible for a TPK. Nobody. And if your Magic is what has a pretty decent chance of causing a TPK, then your Magic is something that shouldn't be used unless it is the only thing that is left. And Mage's can't trivialize an encounter with the mechanics you have in place. At some point you have to realize that you've gone too far. And now I know that you're gonna go on a little tirade about how I've ignored those disclaimers. I didn't; I'm giving constructive criticism that says that if you've already gone this far, you don't need to limit all of the casters as much as you have.

I agree Magic should have consequences, but it already does In your system. You're giving multiple consequences which is, in my opinion, unnecessary.



Now, onto the two classes that I feel are broken: The Cleric and the Druid. They both get more versatility than either Arcane casters[ Multiple specializations]. They both get more health and armor than either Arcane casters[Bigger hit die, cast in any armor]. They both have things to fall back on when they're out of spells[Weapons and stuff]. See a pattern? Fix that, and you might be on a track to somewhere.

Shadowknight12
2011-06-24, 11:24 PM
It's clear you put a lot of work into this. I agree on a few counts, but think you may have to many fail-safes in here. They're all solid ideas individually but all combined I worry they shoot way past your goal and render casters either helpless, unplayable, or worst of all, un-fun.

Yes, this right here is especially helpful. How can I achieve the balance between the fail-safes so that casters are still appealing to play, but not necessarily any more appealing to play than a Tier 3-4 class?


This is also all a little dense. I'm not even sure how complex this is in actual play because its all written in reference to changes in an existing paradigm, rather then a new one. Could you please write it up as though it were the rules text for magic in a new addition? Once you've got that I'll be easier to playtest without confusion.

Oh, sorry, I completely forgot to clarify that this is not the actual write up of the modified system. I will do a comprehensive write up once I am sure that the ideas themselves have potential. Thanks for reminding me, I'll add it to the OP.


Lastly, have you considered the simple fix of removing spells all together and just letting magic be gained as, and function as, class abilities not unlike those of mundane classes?

To be honest, I considered turning all spells into incantations, but I didn't really went too far on that particular train of thought.

Gamer Girl
2011-06-24, 11:40 PM
I agree with just about all your views on magic. I too like magic to be a 'strange mysterious force that no one can understand or control'. And I like magic to have a cost and strange effects.

But a lot of your ideas will make magic useless. So bad that no one would want to play a magic using class. So you will have a group of martial characters, but if that is what you want, why not just have a non magical world?

If you are just trying to tone down magic, you might want to add in some bonuses too. Something to balance out the huge penalties.

You might want to rethink the 'frail' idea. Everyone thinks of magic as the Merlin(Gandalf) stereotype of an old man. And while the idea that magic eats away at your body is fine, making an adventurer frail is just going to slow the game down or even stop it. If you make it so a magic using character can't even do mundane things, your going too far.

I myself use all the 2E spell draw backs, and I can say that they work great for magic control.

Shadowknight12
2011-06-24, 11:43 PM
Out of curiosity, how do you view Wild Magic? Some people say they should make it harder to cast spells, other say easier. Also: Anti-Magic would be opposite to Infinite Magic. But that's a joke, so don't implement it.

Wild Magic has a chance of turning the spell into a random effect, or modifying the spell's effect somewhat. I think there's actually a write up somewhere, I distinctly recall having seen it somewhere.


Also: You're saying that you intentionally provided multiple incentives to not play Mages. Not to be rude, but can you provide some examples of specific incentives to play Mages?

Doing things nobody else can do. That's a huge incentive right there. A lot of Tier 3-4 classes cannot do everything. A beguiler can't blast. A warmage can't charm. A dread necromancer doesn't have many protections or illusions. A bard can't animate the dead. And other classes can do even less. Sure, magic items can cover a lot of the things magic can do, but they're not class features. Every magic item you buy is a hundred magic items you're not buying. You can only obtain a certain amount of magic items, so you can't gain every possible effect. You have to prioritise.


A warrior doesn't have to specialize so much to be good at swinging a sword, though. He can pick up 4-5 feats, and then he's golden, if he's chosen the right feats.

But a warrior (without magic items) can't fly, become ethereal, summon a creature, throw lightning at his foes, teleport, change the weather, dominate the mind of a creature or shape the land. He IS specialising. He is specialising in being a warrior. Most warriors are only good at a handful of things. That, to me, is highly specialised.


And yes, I have tried hitting a blow on a House Cat. It was with a broom, but nonetheless, it was very easy. So neh :smallwink:

Bah! I call True Strike shennannigans! :smalltongue:


If Nature Magic is Derived from Nature ( By nomenclature it is ) then it is therefore Nature. So, it would be better to say Nature should be equivalent to the Arcane.

Not necessarily. Nature Magic might be called thus because it is focused on affecting nature, rather than deriving its powers from it. Officially, Nature Magic is really a subset of Divine Magic.


Well, here's why you don't like having a chance of screwing everybody up: Nobody likes to be responsible for a TPK. Nobody. And if your Magic is what has a pretty decent chance of causing a TPK, then your Magic is something that shouldn't be used unless it is the only thing that is left. And Mage's can't trivialize an encounter with the mechanics you have in place. At some point you have to realize that you've gone too far. And now I know that you're gonna go on a little tirade about how I've ignored those disclaimers. I didn't; I'm giving constructive criticism that says that if you've already gone this far, you don't need to limit all of the casters as much as you have.

Oh, so if the barbarian charges in, sets off a trap because he didn't wait for the rogue, the trap damages the cleric and the wizard (he and the rogue evade), then he makes such noise he attracts all the foes in the area, gets cut off from the rogue and surrounded, and then everyone gets killed, that's not single-handedly causing a TPK either? Or the wizard who throws an AoE spell like Obscuring Mist on foes with Blindsight/Scent/Tremorsense and ends up getting everyone killed? Or the cleric who casts Dictum and forgets that the rest of the party is non-lawful?

Anyone can cause a TPK for being a moron. If the wizard casts spells willy-nilly when he's fully aware of what is going to happen, he's being a moron.

I would really like to know how they can't trivialise encounters. The potential to blatantly wreck an encounter is still there. It just carries a hefty price now.


I agree Magic should have consequences, but it already does. You're giving multiple consequences which is, in my opinion, unnecessary.

What? What possible consequences magic already has, in the system? XP costs? Expensive material component costs? Because none of those are true consequences, mind you. They're trivial and easily ignored.


Now, onto the two classes that I feel are broken: The Cleric and the Druid. They both get more versatility than either Arcane casters[ Multiple specializations]. They both get more health and armor than either Arcane casters[Bigger hit die, cast in any armor]. They both have things to fall back on when they're out of spells[Weapons and stuff]. See a pattern? Fix that, and you might be on a track to somewhere.

Correct, which is why their spell lists is getting severely reduced to only those categories. Things that do not fit into those categories (like Air Walk for the cleric, for example) gets cut (except from Domains. I'm inclined to leave domains as they are). Clerics become less versatile precisely because of their increased advantages. Plus, druids can't wild shape any longer, if they're casting spells. A druid with no more spells is left with his weapon and armour restrictions. A cleric, on the other hand, is still moderately competent while out of spells, but it's still worse than a Tier 4 class. Furthermore, notice how they don't get multiple specialisations until higher levels. A cleric is effectively a wizard with no banned schools, a narrower list, and who can change his specialisation every morning. A cleric who chooses the Healing dogma that day must rely on his domain spells to do anything other than healing.

EDIT:


I agree with just about all your views on magic. I too like magic to be a 'strange mysterious force that no one can understand or control'. And I like magic to have a cost and strange effects.

Wow, I was honestly expecting absolutely nobody to say anything like this. Hah.


But a lot of your ideas will make magic useless. So bad that no one would want to play a magic using class. So you will have a group of martial characters, but if that is what you want, why not just have a non magical world?

I'm sorry, but you people keep saying this, and I have no idea where it's coming from. Where is the "uselessness" part? A Fly spell will still be reliably cast most of the time, and it will still make the caster fly. It will come at a price, but the spellcaster will be flying nonetheless.


If you are just trying to tone down magic, you might want to add in some bonuses too. Something to balance out the huge penalties.

Huh. Okay, I will admit that never occurred to me. Any suggestions?


You might want to rethink the 'frail' idea. Everyone thinks of magic as the Merlin(Gandalf) stereotype of an old man. And while the idea that magic eats away at your body is fine, making an adventurer frail is just going to slow the game down or even stop it. If you make it so a magic using character can't even do mundane things, your going too far.

I think that frailty is a perfectly reasonable weakness for a spellcaster. There must be some weakness that comes with the ability to cast spells, and frailty is the simplest and most elegant. Like I said, a spellcaster can always multiclass or go into PrCs that augment his combat prowess and diminish his frailty. The price to pay is a diminished spellcasting potency. It's simply so that you can't have it both ways.


I myself use all the 2E spell draw backs, and I can say that they work great for magic control.

I've never played 2E myself, actually, so I honestly have no idea how applicable the drawbacks are.

Gamer Girl
2011-06-25, 01:00 AM
I'm sorry, but you people keep saying this, and I have no idea where it's coming from. Where is the "uselessness" part? A Fly spell will still be reliably cast most of the time, and it will still make the caster fly. It will come at a price, but the spellcaster will be flying nonetheless.

Well, 3-9 points of Constitution damage just to cast fly is a bit extreme. And it's even worse when all spell casters are frail. By frail they would have low Constitution scores, under 10, and low hit points(right?). A 'frail' wizard can't have a Con of 16.

And even if Fly is spared an Attrition cost, there will be plenty of spells...the useful/powerful ones that will have the cost. And at 1d3 Con damage a spell level a spellcasting character will die quick(and drain is even worse).


The problem you will find with extreme penalties is simple:The percentage chance it happens. If you make it too low like 20-30% it will almost never happen and you won't 'feel' like the penalty has any game effect. If you make it any higher then 50% then you make using magic useless. It's pointless to play a character that will fail more then 50% of the time.


And what about the huge stacking penalties? Say a spellcaster uses just one spell, and it goes wild and they take 5 Con damage and are fatigued. After that, the character will be hard to play. And more spells will make things worse. What will that player do for the rest of the game, take a nap? They can't even multiclass, as the Con and fatigue will hamper them...

Shadowknight12
2011-06-25, 01:25 AM
Well, 3-9 points of Constitution damage just to cast fly is a bit extreme. And it's even worse when all spell casters are frail. By frail they would have low Constitution scores, under 10, and low hit points(right?). A 'frail' wizard can't have a Con of 16.

Well, firstly, I never said which spells have an Attrition cost. That's something I'd have to consider carefully and only apply to the real gamebreakers. Secondly, I'd never impose something on a player like that. A player can choose to put an 18 on Constitution and get himself a Periapt of Health +6 and keep pumping his Constitution as much as he likes. That's not what being frail means. What being frail means is that spellcasters are not supposed to be able to out-melee a class specifically designed to melee. If a Transmuter who specialises in Enhancement spends all his spells to buff himself up... then sure, maybe you can stand toe to toe with a melee class. But that's because you've just used up all your spells to emulate that.


And even if Fly is spared an Attrition cost, there will be plenty of spells...the useful/powerful ones that will have the cost. And at 1d3 Con damage a spell level a spellcasting character will die quick(and drain is even worse).

A 1st level spellcaster with an 18 Con can cast between 5 and 17 "powerful" 1st level spells with no problem. Assuming he spends part of his WBL to keep his Constitution up, the ratio should be about the same.


The problem you will find with extreme penalties is simple:The percentage chance it happens. If you make it too low like 20-30% it will almost never happen and you won't 'feel' like the penalty has any game effect. If you make it any higher then 50% then you make using magic useless. It's pointless to play a character that will fail more then 50% of the time.

Okay, now this is a very insightful point. I admit I have no idea how to bypass that, because you're quite right. The line between "negligible" and "crippling" is indeed very fine. I was hoping I'd be able to strike a balance that makes spellcasting dangerous, but still appealing.


And what about the huge stacking penalties? Say a spellcaster uses just one spell, and it goes wild and they take 5 Con damage and are fatigued. After that, the character will be hard to play. And more spells will make things worse. What will that player do for the rest of the game, take a nap? They can't even multiclass, as the Con and fatigue will hamper them...

Well, firstly, we're talking about Powerful spells. I'm not going to give away Attrition costs at random. They'll be reserved to spells we all know can trivialise encounters, like Wish, Miracle, Grease, Glitterdust, Simulacrum, Colour Spray, etc. A player will have plenty of options to cast spells that aren't completely overpowered, and they will give relevance to all the myriad spells that don't see that much play because they're less versatile or powerful.

I mean, imagine if the barbarian could rage 4/day, and the exhaustion stacked the same way I'm making Attrition stack. Would you blame the system for letting him push himself to the limit, or would you blame the player who decided to make him rage 3 times in a row, failed all his saves and knocked himself unconscious?

DoomHat
2011-06-25, 01:46 AM
Frankly? I'd recommend starting at zero. Forget how magic works in the current system. You seem to want to change so much of it that there's no point in really keeping anything. Accept that the system as it stands is broken beyond repair.

Figure out just what exactly you want magic to do for the game. How do you want it to interact with the setting and visa-versa? What are Magic's limitations? Is there anything it simply can't do? Are there certain uses of magic that are inherently evil, or will draw the wrath of gods? What is the true source of magic? Is it internal, external, unnatural, brought about by lifeforms, or simply the result of recognizing that there is no spoon?

Answer those questions and then figure out how to simulate that.

Quellian-dyrae
2011-06-25, 01:52 AM
Well, to be honest, I think this might be going a bit far as well on some things, but that's not going to assist you any. A lot of your ideas are good, and sparked some thoughts, so here's a rambling multi-quote-response-thing and hopefully you'll find something in it useful. :smallwink:




Magic should come at a price equivalent to the effect it is creating. Spellcasting should never be done lightly. A spellcaster should never be able to mitigate the price he pays for casting a spell.

Spellcasting should be dangerous. Magic should have a high chance of making things worse instead of fixing them.

For these things, I think the best thing you can do is make sure the price and risk are at least somewhat behind the scenes. As something of an example, I would never equip a mage of mine with even the lowest spell failure causing armor, not so much because I'd be afraid of losing a spell at a critical moment (though there is that), but because having to roll an extra die every time I cast a spell would just slow things down. I'd probably build most of this stuff into the spells per day/magic points/mana/whatever system you go with. I'm thinking that you'll be best served if standard uses of magic are still quick and easy to resolve and fairly reliable. It's when characters start busting out the real story-altering stuff that you should have more specific hindrances popping up.


Spellcasters ought to be frail. The less naturally frail a spellcaster is, the less potent their magic ought to be.

One thing I've thought about for this is to adjust hit points to a d4/d8/d12 scale...and then give max hp. If all casters are getting (before Con) half the hit points of the rogues, and a third those of the fighters, they should be frail enough, comparatively.


Magic used to offset frailty should displace the weakness instead of covering it. If the character wishes to gain DR, they must gain an equivalent drawback, such as Weakness to Fire or a penalty to saves.

Now this is interesting, since buff-stacking can be a serious balance concern. It could be just a bit unwieldy. A simpler option might be to have limited "buff slots". If you can only put, say, four buffs on yourself (arbitrary number), you really have to prioritize. Is having Fly, Mirror Image, Shield, and Contingency up worth not having Superior Resistance and not being able to pop a Greater Invisibility or Greater Blink mid-battle?


Magic should not be certain. A spellcaster should never be 100% sure of what a spell will do, or if he will cast it correctly.

Although I don't disagree with some others that this might be too much, what I think is a more valid concern is again how adding the extra rolls necessary to resolve this might slow down the game. Maybe a good way to do this would be something like, enemies who succeed their saves might cause some sort of negative effect to the mage, or magic that gets dispelled or something has a bad effect, or even add a wider range of abilities to turn magic back against the mage. Make it either require some active action from opponents or based on rolls that already exist, in other words.


Magic should not be all or nothing. There should be degrees of effect, depending on the spellcaster's skill or the victim's fortitude.

Magic should be able to be shrugged or fought off. Nobody, not even the lowliest commoner or house cat, should be helpless in the face of magic. A spellcaster should not be omnipotent or unstoppable.

Among my current house rules, spells that cause negative effects can be thrown off, but doing so makes the target Nauseated. It makes a save (Fort or Will, its choice) each round, successes bettering its condition, failures worsening it. The track goes Spell Applies -> Dazed -> Nauseated -> Staggered -> Spell Removed. So trying to throw off, say, Shaken probably isn't worth it, but a save-or-die is. And even so, the spell can hamper the foe for a few rounds even if it does get thrown off in the end, so still useful. Also, I do give all spells saves (with touch spells now allowing Reflex saves), but spells that used to disallow saves can't be thrown off if the save fails, to maintain their relative power. Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but thought I'd post it.


Magic should not be better than mundane work. A spellcaster should be on the same playing field as a warrior, archer, face-type or sneak-type.

Magic should not be able to emulate everything. There should be many things that magic cannot do. Just like magic can do things not achievable by mundane means, so too magic must have limits, things it cannot replicate (which is why, perhaps, it is not better on the whole than mundane work).

One thing I sometimes think on for world-building, is the idea that magic is much more efficient than mundane work on the small-scale, but it becomes simply inefficient on the large scale. Not sure how that could be implemented in game rules though. I'd ask what sort of things magic shouldn't be able to do? I can't really think of anything, although definitely any given mage shouldn't be able to do anything. Myself, I think any sort of magic that emulates, say, a skill, should be tied to the mage's actual skill. Invisibility, for example, shouldn't make you automatically unseen - it should give you Hide in Plain Sight. Knock still requires an Open Lock check, but it can also open bars or multiple locks, work instantly, and work at range. In other words, the spells don't let you do it better, but let you do it when others perhaps couldn't.


The environment should interact with magic. Nature should always win over magic, even if it must work like a river eroding a cliff. Old folklore will be handy here.

Hmm...I'm not quite sure of a manner to work this into the game...especially without removing cool things like magic-blasted wastelands and ruins and stuff. :smalltongue: Yeah, don't think I have anything useful to contribute on this one.


Tier 1 must not be able to have all options available to them. They must have a very constrained spell selection, in the vein of the warmage, beguiler, dread necromancer and duskblade.

Tier 2's options must likewise be reduced, though not as harshly as Tier 1.

Clerics and druids should not have their entire lists available to them at every day. They should be forced to specialise and make do with what they have. Their spell lists should be divided thematically.

Wizards should likewise be forced to specialise (far, far more heavily than sorcerers, clerics and druids). Universalists should have less available spells to cast. A wizard should not be able to get more spells per level than what is allotted to them.

Sorcerers should have a theme behind their spells, something that unifies their spell choices (and similarly constrains their options), but it must be different and slightly less harsh than the wizard's, cleric's or druid's.

At this point, I'd say kill the distinction. Tier 1 is Tier 1 because they aren't constrained, and you're aiming for Tier 3-4 anyway. My advice is don't worry about wizards vs. sorcerers, just make one arcane full casting class that does what you want. Likewise, have the cleric and druid classes follow the same sort of rules.


Some spells will need to be eliminated altogether (Time Stop, Reverse Gravity, etc).

I'd just suggest to consider whether a spell can be revised before eliminating it. An added save or curtailed effect can do wonders for most spells (although myself, the only spell I actually consider hard-banned in my games is Wraithstrike, so maybe I'm more optimistic than some).


Some spells will need to be reclassified. Universal, for example, needs more spells to be viable as a school. A lot of Conjuration(Creation) is now in Evocation(Creation).

All schools should be equally difficult to ban. To this effect, I've made all non-mindless creatures able to be affected by mind-effecting effects. Immunity to mind-affecting effects should never come easy. More decisions along this vein should be made to render all schools equally viable.

One thing I did with the Tier 3 Mage (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203055) (Huh? What shameless self-promotion? I have no idea what you're talking about :smallamused:) I posted a bit ago was divide the spells up into much more narrow groups than the schools, based on effect (kind of like the Dogmas you have for the clerics). If you're doing that for the divine spells, it could be worth doing a similar thing for arcane.


All spells should allow SR and saves.

You might also want to modify the save progressions some so a poor save has an average chance of resisting and a good save a high chance, rather than good save having a...possibly somewhat below average chance and a poor save having no chance.


Permanent magical effects should be exceedingly rare or altogether non-existent. Spells that create permanent effects should instead have a duration, turned into an Incantation or be altogether obliterated.

There might be distinctions worth making here. Permanent spells on people, for example, are a lot more disruptive than those on objects and areas. Indeed, permanent wards against things like scrying and teleportation serve to tone magic down. It is, actually, an interesting thing to consider. Making the ability to block, negate, and counter magic easier and more effective helps to weaken magic even though it's actually improving certain caster options.


Long-duration buffs should be exceedingly rare or altogether non-existent.

You know what might be a cool thing to do here, is have them as say feats rather than spells. I can get behind the idea of a mage that has, say, a constant aura of protection, or like a dragon that can walk around constantly in human form or whatever. But yeah, having half a dozen protections against most of the negative effects in the game constantly up is a balance issue. Although, the buff slot idea I mentioned about would also help curtail this without removing it entirely (less work for you!)


The environment should interact with magic in inimical ways. Running water should Dispel Magic, cold iron should be immune to magic (granting a bonus to saves, granting SR, negating effects, weapons made of cold iron should render a caster incapable of casting spells for a short period, etc), non-druidic magic should have a diminished or outright non-existent effect in wild places (and vice-versa, druidic magic should have a diminished or outright non-existent effect in civilised or blighted areas), some areas of the world should make magic go wild, antimagic areas should be common, etc.

This is interesting, strikes me as more a setting thing than a balance thing though. I'd be at least a bit cautious with it unless you do just want mages to be relegated to uselessness on a regular basis. I personally despise the "awesome in some conditions, useless in others" balance paradigm that affects, say, rogues (eh, and casters on the off chance they actually ever run out of spells). What might be cool is if different natural stuff affected certain types of magic, so casters might have to use other options or something, without it being like "okay we're off to fight the green dragon in the deep sylvan woods and our wizard can't cast any spells so he'll just stay home." Maybe like in deep woodlands the nature spirits weaken big flashy area blasts and the death magic of necromancy, but the presence of the fey makes like enchantments and illusions stronger, or something. Arbitrary example.


Remove spells that duplicate class features, such as Find Traps, Knock, Tenser's Transformation, Divine Power and so on. Less spells available is a good thing.

This one ties back in with what I had been saying earlier about spells not making skills better, but letting you do different things with them. If mages are going to be specializing, I see no reason that they shouldn't be able to specialize in rogue-type stuff. One's a rogue who uses skill, one's a rogue who uses magic, but both should be equally viable, I think. It's when the mage can automatically accomplish things at third level that a rogue can't pull off reliably at tenth that there's a problem.


Some magic should be open to everyone (they will follow the Incantations rules found in UA). These would be Conjuration(Calling), Transmutation(Polymorph) and many Divinations. These would be removed from the game as actual spells, and instead made open to everyone. Each casting would cost roughly 10 to 20% of the WBL of a spellcaster of the minimum level necessary to cast the spell they used to be (for example, Alter Self would cost 10 to 20% of the WBL of a 3rd level character; while Planar Ally would cost 10 to 20% of the WBL of a 11th level character). The prices could be even higher. They are always custom-made after a player requests the DM for the chance to learn how to use a ritual. A DM is not obliged to honor the request if he believes the ritual will unbalance the campaign. Furthermore, he is encouraged to give knowledge of the ritual to all party members equally.

This is a good idea. I'd probably add things like animate dead, object conjurations, maybe long-distance/planar teleportation...


A spellcaster casting a spell of his highest level available must make a Will save (DC set by the spell heís casting) or suffer an additional mishap upon casting the spell (the spell is cast normally). On a roll of 5 or less, the spell fizzles (though the mishap still occurs if the save was failed).

I was going to say this seems really harsh and annoying, but then I reread it and noticed that it's only with the highest level available. That could probably work. You might even make that 5 or less into the spell level or less (makes lower-level mages less shafted, and makes the high level spells more likely to fizzle out).


Some spells have an Attrition cost. This cost is 1d3 points of Constitution damage per level of the spell being cast. Spells from level 5 and higher inflict Constitution drain instead of Constitution damage. Creatures with no Constitution suffer Charisma damage or Charisma drain instead. This damage or drain cannot be prevented in any way (damage may be healed naturally but not magically, while drain may be healed magically). Creatures immune to ability damage or ability drain are not immune to this effect. Creatures who do not heal naturally heal the ability damage as though they could.

You know, I like this mechanic more than XP and expensive component costs. It's easier to recover from, but actually detrimental in the field and has a more narrow window of use, and means you'll need downtime. I do, however, think it might be better to leave it all as Constitution damage. The SL 1-4 healing ONLY naturally, 5+ ONLY magically just seems off to me. If you really want the SL 5+ ones to pack a punch, you could say they deal equal damage to the caster's primary casting stat. I do, however, assume this is for those spells that can have serious story effects that you don't want being spammed, not for standard-use spells...right?


The first time a spell with an Attrition cost is cast, the spellcaster must make a Fortitude save (DC set by the spell) or become Fatigued for 1d6 hours. If the spellcaster casts another spell with an Attrition cost, fails the save and he is already Fatigued, he becomes Exhausted for 2d6 hours instead. If the spellcaster casts another spell with an Attrition cost, fails the save and he is already Exhausted, he becomes Unconscious for 3d6 hours instead. During this time, the spellcaster cannot be roused from his state without magic. When he awakens, he is Exhausted for 2d6 hours from that moment on. The state of unconsciousness does not count as a restful sleep. These conditions occur even to creatures immune to fatigue, exhaustion and unconsciousness, because they affect the mind and the soul along with the body.


Little editing tweak, but the way it's written has something of a loophole with regards to what happens if the first time they succeed their save. That aside, this seems like it might be somewhat redundant. Fatigue isn't that worrisome compared to Con damage, and if they've really reached the point where they're risking unconsciousness they've probably taken enough Con damage to be in serious trouble anyway. Still and all, mages getting more and more fatigued from casting until they pass out is a classic, so why not, eh?

Anyway, this is way, way long enough, and I don't think I have too many useful thoughts to add about the class-specific stuff anyway. Good luck!

Shadowknight12
2011-06-25, 01:52 AM
Frankly? I'd recommend starting at zero. Forget how magic works in the current system. You seem to want to change so much of it that there's no point in really keeping anything. Accept that the system as it stands is broken beyond repair.

Figure out just what exactly you want magic to do for the game. How do you want it to interact with the setting and visa-versa? What are Magic's limitations? Is there anything it simply can't do? Are there certain uses of magic that are inherently evil, or will draw the wrath of gods? What is the true source of magic? Is it internal, external, unnatural, brought about by lifeforms, or simply the result of recognizing that there is no spoon?

Answer those questions and then figure out how to simulate that.

Huh. Hilariously funny you should say that, I was going to do that from the beginning (been planning a complete do-over for a couple of years), but then I decided to be less ambitious and do this instead.

I can answer all those questions, but firstly I must ask: So many things hinge on the current magic system. Is it at all possible to remake it from scratch without unravelling the entire rules system? I mean, sure, if there's a monster with a lot of SLAs, I can replace his HD for whatever spellcasting class I end up making, but what else would be affected? Surely the magic item system would fall to pieces! Wouldn't it?

EDIT: Darn it, swordsage'd. I'll write up a reply to that soon, Quellian-dyrae.

DoomHat
2011-06-25, 01:58 AM
Start calling monster's existing spell-like abilities "monster powers", let magic items do their thing and worry about how they get made after you've got the ground work done on how players cast. If it comes down to it you can just claim all magic items are artifacts from another age and no one remembers how to make more.

jiriku
2011-06-25, 02:36 AM
This is a very complicated subject, and I have a reputation for casting wall of text. I will try to be succinct.

First of all, +1 to to Doomhat. The vision of spellcasting that you have is wholly incompatible with the existing mechanics. You would have to classify and sort over a thousand spells and rewrite or rebalance hundreds of them. It's just not worth it, man.

Get yourself two blank sheets of paper and write "arcane caster" on one of them and "divine caster" on the other. Decide what you want them to do and write it down. Forget all the 3.5 casting classes. Make these classes your own. Set aside for now the idea of branches, dogmas, and doctrines. That's a good idea for expanding mature magic system, but you need to start by teaching baby to crawl.

Next, I'd suggest you create a magic system. Decide how spells are learned, prepared, and cast, what mechanics are used, how success is determined, and the consequences for failure. I have some specific suggestions:
Skill checks and caster level checks are already part of the system. Use one or the other to determine success. The DC should be based on the level of the spell, and scale depending on the degree of impact the caster is seeking. For example, hold person might be DC x, with an additional +4 DC for each additional target selected. Fireball might be DC y, with +1 DC for each additional d6 of damage above the minimum.
Penalties should be custom-tailored for each spell, and commensurate with the benefit to be gained from casting. However, raising the DC for a greater spell effect should NOT increase the penalty for failure because the caster is already accepting a higher chance of failure in the form of increased DC.
I endorse the idea that all hostile spells should involve some sort of leverage by the target. A saving throw, an attack roll, a spell resistance check, something - you should always have a chance, however small, to pull your bacon out of the fire. However, be sure you understand the statistical impact of what you're doing. If failing a cast roll causes something horrible to happen, and you have a 70% chance of casting successfully, an 60% chance of hitting, an 80% chance of beating the target's spell resistance, and a 60% chance of beating the target's save, your chance of success is only 20% (0.7 * 0.6 * 0.8 * 0.6 = 0.2), meaning you have a 20% chance of accomplishing something, a 50% chance of wasting your action, and a 30% chance of inflicting something horrible on yourself -- those are pretty bad odds for a "reliable" spell with a 70% chance of successful cast!
Attrition spells are an unsound proposition: no reasonably wise or intelligent person would accept a high risk of a large permanent drawback (serious injury or death) in exchange for modest chance at a small temporary benefit.
I would discourage you from levying extra penalties on spellcasters for casting their highest level of spells. If you do what I'm suggesting in this post, the power and risks of spells will already be correctly balanced; there will not be any need for layered penalty subsystems. If you have screwed up the balance so that this is not the case, you're better off cleaning up your own work than trying to slap on a penalty band-aid to jury-rig the system. Besides, a system with a benefit on one side, a drawback on the other, and a sliding scale of risk in-between is simple and elegant. Layers of subsystems make things clumsy and make it harder for players to judge whether casting is a good risk or a bad one.

On to the spell list! Feel free to borrow from the existing spell titles, but it should be understood that each of these spells will be your own adaptation or interpretation. Don't copy - just take the spirit of the spell and design it from scratch. I recommend 60-100 spells for the arcane caster and another 60-100 spells for the divine caster. That's about the number of spells that were available to the cleric and magic-user in 1e, and should be more than enough.

Now, what have you got? You've got a brand-new magic system, with spells and classes that were designed exclusively for use with this system. You've got a highly focused collection of well-balanced material that serves as a playtest platform and benchmark for future development, and clearly demonstrates your vision and intent to anyone in your group who wants to contribute. You're in good shape!

Once you've tested and refined this base material, then you can branch out a little and create new archetypes like druid or necromancer (again, building from scratch rather than retrofitting existing WotC classes). Once you have that experience, try your hand at splicing your new rules into the ranger and paladin to bring them up to speed. At this point, you should have a complete and functional system that meets your requirements and holds together well in actual play.

DoomHat
2011-06-25, 02:43 AM
Hell, no reason to even assume the existence of spells per-say. You could just implement things like conjuration and necromancy as skills or something. Go nuts!:smallbiggrin:

Shadowknight12
2011-06-25, 03:40 AM
Well, to be honest, I think this might be going a bit far as well on some things, but that's not going to assist you any. A lot of your ideas are good, and sparked some thoughts, so here's a rambling multi-quote-response-thing and hopefully you'll find something in it useful. :smallwink:

Thank you, really. Pretty much everything you said has helped me out in one way or another.


For these things, I think the best thing you can do is make sure the price and risk are at least somewhat behind the scenes. As something of an example, I would never equip a mage of mine with even the lowest spell failure causing armor, not so much because I'd be afraid of losing a spell at a critical moment (though there is that), but because having to roll an extra die every time I cast a spell would just slow things down. I'd probably build most of this stuff into the spells per day/magic points/mana/whatever system you go with. I'm thinking that you'll be best served if standard uses of magic are still quick and easy to resolve and fairly reliable. It's when characters start busting out the real story-altering stuff that you should have more specific hindrances popping up.

Hah, oh. I guess it shows how used to PbP I am, where dice rolling never interrupts the flow of the action. I do agree that it could certainly use a little polish. The idea to incorporate it into the new system, though, that's certainly a good idea, hadn't occurred to me. That's actually something one of my players suggested a long while back, now that I think of it. He said that the strain or chance to miscast should be inherent in the system. I never quite got what he meant.


One thing I've thought about for this is to adjust hit points to a d4/d8/d12 scale...and then give max hp. If all casters are getting (before Con) half the hit points of the rogues, and a third those of the fighters, they should be frail enough, comparatively.

Yes, that's what I was thinking, myself. Only perhaps with a bit more dice variation to spice things up. Something I was thinking was to exchange the dice of the sneak-types and the divine casters. Druids and clerics get a d6, rogues and (maybe) bards get a d8. That should more accurately represent the scale of magic power - combat prowess.


Now this is interesting, since buff-stacking can be a serious balance concern. It could be just a bit unwieldy. A simpler option might be to have limited "buff slots". If you can only put, say, four buffs on yourself (arbitrary number), you really have to prioritize. Is having Fly, Mirror Image, Shield, and Contingency up worth not having Superior Resistance and not being able to pop a Greater Invisibility or Greater Blink mid-battle?

Well, you could also tie it to HD. The more HD you have, the more options you have available, so it's not crazy to increase the number of "buff slots" available based on that. Something like HD/5 or HD/4. But I do like that idea, to be honest.


Although I don't disagree with some others that this might be too much, what I think is a more valid concern is again how adding the extra rolls necessary to resolve this might slow down the game. Maybe a good way to do this would be something like, enemies who succeed their saves might cause some sort of negative effect to the mage, or magic that gets dispelled or something has a bad effect, or even add a wider range of abilities to turn magic back against the mage. Make it either require some active action from opponents or based on rolls that already exist, in other words.

Yeah, again, sorry. The idea of adding extra rolls was never a concern to me. PbP and all that.

That's also a good idea. I'll definitely give it some thought and see what I come up with.


Among my current house rules, spells that cause negative effects can be thrown off, but doing so makes the target Nauseated. It makes a save (Fort or Will, its choice) each round, successes bettering its condition, failures worsening it. The track goes Spell Applies -> Dazed -> Nauseated -> Staggered -> Spell Removed. So trying to throw off, say, Shaken probably isn't worth it, but a save-or-die is. And even so, the spell can hamper the foe for a few rounds even if it does get thrown off in the end, so still useful. Also, I do give all spells saves (with touch spells now allowing Reflex saves), but spells that used to disallow saves can't be thrown off if the save fails, to maintain their relative power. Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but thought I'd post it.

That's a pretty good houserule. I was thinking that so many conditions got so little play, and that's a great way to get mileage out of them. I might incorporate something like that if I end up making a whole new system.


One thing I sometimes think on for world-building, is the idea that magic is much more efficient than mundane work on the small-scale, but it becomes simply inefficient on the large scale. Not sure how that could be implemented in game rules though. I'd ask what sort of things magic shouldn't be able to do? I can't really think of anything, although definitely any given mage shouldn't be able to do anything. Myself, I think any sort of magic that emulates, say, a skill, should be tied to the mage's actual skill. Invisibility, for example, shouldn't make you automatically unseen - it should give you Hide in Plain Sight. Knock still requires an Open Lock check, but it can also open bars or multiple locks, work instantly, and work at range. In other words, the spells don't let you do it better, but let you do it when others perhaps couldn't.

Hum. I think that magic should indeed be infeasible on the long run or the larger scale, but I don't know if I want it to be better on the small scale. If you think about it, a lot of D&D takes place on the short scale. That's why penalties such as "aged X years with every casting of these spell" are useless, because most campaigns won't last long enough for that to be a concern. Being powerful on a small scale is bad if that scale is the campaign's scale. A Wall of Iron might not stop an army, but it might well stop a normal encounter. Combine that with other spells that are powerful on a small scale and you have mages that will cakewalk through anything that isn't a massive epic battle of huge proportions.


Hmm...I'm not quite sure of a manner to work this into the game...especially without removing cool things like magic-blasted wastelands and ruins and stuff. :smalltongue: Yeah, don't think I have anything useful to contribute on this one.

Hah! Well, the idea is precisely the opposite! The environment shouldn't be a dead, static, helpless thing at the whim of magic. It should be a living, breathing thing capable of producing its own strange effects. Who says the magic-blasted ruins have to be the product of a wizard? It could well be the result of a planar configuration opening a temporary rift to the Plane of Fire! Or spontaneously-occurring magic bleeding into the locale and bursting after reaching a certain concentration!


At this point, I'd say kill the distinction. Tier 1 is Tier 1 because they aren't constrained, and you're aiming for Tier 3-4 anyway. My advice is don't worry about wizards vs. sorcerers, just make one arcane full casting class that does what you want. Likewise, have the cleric and druid classes follow the same sort of rules.

Hm. That is an alternative, yes.


I'd just suggest to consider whether a spell can be revised before eliminating it. An added save or curtailed effect can do wonders for most spells (although myself, the only spell I actually consider hard-banned in my games is Wraithstrike, so maybe I'm more optimistic than some).

That... hm. All right, that is worth considering.


One thing I did with the Tier 3 Mage (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203055) (Huh? What shameless self-promotion? I have no idea what you're talking about :smallamused:) I posted a bit ago was divide the spells up into much more narrow groups than the schools, based on effect (kind of like the Dogmas you have for the clerics). If you're doing that for the divine spells, it could be worth doing a similar thing for arcane.

Bookmarked. What's your policy on borrowing? Am I allowed to use something I see, with your explicit permission? Would you like playtest data in return? A detailed explanation of how I used it and what effects it had? Can we work out a deal here?


You might also want to modify the save progressions some so a poor save has an average chance of resisting and a good save a high chance, rather than good save having a...possibly somewhat below average chance and a poor save having no chance.

Another good idea. Saves definitely need buffing.


There might be distinctions worth making here. Permanent spells on people, for example, are a lot more disruptive than those on objects and areas. Indeed, permanent wards against things like scrying and teleportation serve to tone magic down. It is, actually, an interesting thing to consider. Making the ability to block, negate, and counter magic easier and more effective helps to weaken magic even though it's actually improving certain caster options.

Actually, I find myself utterly loathing pretty much every spell with a Permanent or Instantaneous duration, particularly those of the Conjuration(Creation) school. I do agree that permanent Abjurations are a whole 'nother kettle of fish. But really, there's always the Permanency spell. I never said it was banned.


You know what might be a cool thing to do here, is have them as say feats rather than spells. I can get behind the idea of a mage that has, say, a constant aura of protection, or like a dragon that can walk around constantly in human form or whatever. But yeah, having half a dozen protections against most of the negative effects in the game constantly up is a balance issue. Although, the buff slot idea I mentioned about would also help curtail this without removing it entirely (less work for you!)

Hah, that's a pretty cool suggestion, especially combined with the buff slots. I'll give this some solid thought.


This is interesting, strikes me as more a setting thing than a balance thing though. I'd be at least a bit cautious with it unless you do just want mages to be relegated to uselessness on a regular basis. I personally despise the "awesome in some conditions, useless in others" balance paradigm that affects, say, rogues (eh, and casters on the off chance they actually ever run out of spells). What might be cool is if different natural stuff affected certain types of magic, so casters might have to use other options or something, without it being like "okay we're off to fight the green dragon in the deep sylvan woods and our wizard can't cast any spells so he'll just stay home." Maybe like in deep woodlands the nature spirits weaken big flashy area blasts and the death magic of necromancy, but the presence of the fey makes like enchantments and illusions stronger, or something. Arbitrary example.

Well, yes, I suppose that's true. I didn't make that too clear. What I was thinking was to create a simple table that imposes DC or CL penalties depending on how wild a place is (and the same for druids on civilised areas). But perhaps a more subdued approach would work.


This one ties back in with what I had been saying earlier about spells not making skills better, but letting you do different things with them. If mages are going to be specializing, I see no reason that they shouldn't be able to specialize in rogue-type stuff. One's a rogue who uses skill, one's a rogue who uses magic, but both should be equally viable, I think. It's when the mage can automatically accomplish things at third level that a rogue can't pull off reliably at tenth that there's a problem.

Well... eh. Here I actually encounter a huge dichotomy. On the one hand, yes, I do agree with your point. On the other... well, I want to ensure niche protection. But, if I were to do away with all core classes and remake them so that they are in the same tier range, it would cost me nothing to make the warrior a specialist in self-buffing and combat, the bard a specialist in enchantment and illusions, the monk a more martial variation of a divine caster, the rogue getting sneak/infiltration magic, etc. Are all classes somewhat magical now? Yes, I suppose. But that doesn't bother me, and it would at least give me an incentive to take out all the penalties I'm using here and only applying them to the "pure" casters (or the more versatile of all of them).



This is a good idea. I'd probably add things like animate dead, object conjurations, maybe long-distance/planar teleportation...

Funnily enough, in my original idea to remake the magic system, all of those things were incantations. Pretty much everything that too longer than a full round to cast or that was


I was going to say this seems really harsh and annoying, but then I reread it and noticed that it's only with the highest level available. That could probably work. You might even make that 5 or less into the spell level or less (makes lower-level mages less shafted, and makes the high level spells more likely to fizzle out).

That's another good idea. Hell, I like that a lot better than I like the 5 or less rule. I definitely consider that an improvement.


You know, I like this mechanic more than XP and expensive component costs. It's easier to recover from, but actually detrimental in the field and has a more narrow window of use, and means you'll need downtime. I do, however, think it might be better to leave it all as Constitution damage. The SL 1-4 healing ONLY naturally, 5+ ONLY magically just seems off to me. If you really want the SL 5+ ones to pack a punch, you could say they deal equal damage to the caster's primary casting stat. I do, however, assume this is for those spells that can have serious story effects that you don't want being spammed, not for standard-use spells...right?

Of course, they're for game-breaking spells. The problem is that drain can't be healed naturally. So you could have 1-4 being healable either naturally or magically, and then 5+ only magically. I felt it'd be slightly better to restrict the first few. The idea to make it all damage and 5+ affecting main casting stat on top of Constitution is actually really good. I wonder why I didn't think of that.


Little editing tweak, but the way it's written has something of a loophole with regards to what happens if the first time they succeed their save. That aside, this seems like it might be somewhat redundant. Fatigue isn't that worrisome compared to Con damage, and if they've really reached the point where they're risking unconsciousness they've probably taken enough Con damage to be in serious trouble anyway. Still and all, mages getting more and more fatigued from casting until they pass out is a classic, so why not, eh?

I think I'll make the Fatigue thing separate from Attrition, as a different "price to pay" for other types of spells. Perhaps for Incantations or something else entirely.


Anyway, this is way, way long enough, and I don't think I have too many useful thoughts to add about the class-specific stuff anyway. Good luck!

Thank you! That was tremendously helpful.


Start calling monster's existing spell-like abilities "monster powers", let magic items do their thing and worry about how they get made after you've got the ground work done on how players cast. If it comes down to it you can just claim all magic items are artifacts from another age and no one remembers how to make more.

That. That might actually work. I was honestly toying with the idea of having magic items being rare but customisable. A warrior doesn't trade his sword every level to keep getting one that is better and better. The same sword he's been carrying since he was level 1 grows in power as he advances, much like a Weapon of Legacy. That same principle could be applied to every item that occupies a body slot. Miscellaneous items can go the "rare artefact" route, too.



This is a very complicated subject, and I have a reputation for casting wall of text. I will try to be succinct.

First of all, +1 to to Doomhat. The vision of spellcasting that you have is wholly incompatible with the existing mechanics. You would have to classify and sort over a thousand spells and rewrite or rebalance hundreds of them. It's just not worth it, man.

Yeah, that's what I was thinking, actually. If I'm going to be rewriting so much, might as well go the extra mile and remake the whole thing from scratch. Maybe then I'll finally solve that tremendously irksome "Positive Energy is not good, it's totally neutral! I swear!" attitude and then ending up with spells like this (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/divine/spells/boltOfGlory.htm).


Get yourself two blank sheets of paper and write "arcane caster" on one of them and "divine caster" on the other. Decide what you want them to do and write it down. Forget all the 3.5 casting classes. Make these classes your own. Set aside for now the idea of branches, dogmas, and doctrines. That's a good idea for expanding mature magic system, but you need to start by teaching baby to crawl.

I may use more than those two, if I want to replace all the existing classes. I could make a Charisma Caster, an Intelligence Caster, a Wisdom Caster, a Strength Caster and a Dexterity Caster, and then tailor "spells" accordingly (I may end up borrowing stuff from ToB for the Strength and the Dexterity casters). Power sources (Arcane, Nature, Divine, etc) can be relegated to fluff, to better fit different settings. A Strength Caster might say that his power is arcane magic flowing through his veins, while a Charisma Caster might say that he's the voice of a god and a Dexterity Caster might believe himself to be wind made flesh.


Next, I'd suggest you create a magic system. Decide how spells are learned, prepared, and cast, what mechanics are used, how success is determined, and the consequences for failure. I have some specific suggestions:

Taking notes...


Skill checks and caster level checks are already part of the system. Use one or the other to determine success. The DC should be based on the level of the spell, and scale depending on the degree of impact the caster is seeking. For example, hold person might be DC x, with an additional +4 DC for each additional target selected. Fireball might be DC y, with +1 DC for each additional d6 of damage above the minimum.

In my original remake, I was very reluctant to do this because of how trivially easy you can make skill checks. I mean, look at the Assplomancer. Seriously. However, if I'm remaking the whole thing, I can control how easy meeting those checks is, which makes your suggestion quite valid. Especially the CL one, since breaking CL isn't that easy.


Penalties should be custom-tailored for each spell, and commensurate with the benefit to be gained from casting. However, raising the DC for a greater spell effect should NOT increase the penalty for failure because the caster is already accepting a higher chance of failure in the form of increased DC.

I agree, custom penalties is a good thing, though a few could be deemed "dire penalties" and applied to all truly powerful spells (like Attrition or exhaustion). Something that bears making a distinction is "chance of failure" and "price to pay for the effect." I think that both can coexist. Chance of failure should exist for all spells, your idea of the DC works out fine for that. However, I think that some spells produce such an effect that a caster, even if he succeeds, should pay for that.


I endorse the idea that all hostile spells should involve some sort of leverage by the target. A saving throw, an attack roll, a spell resistance check, something - you should always have a chance, however small, to pull your bacon out of the fire. However, be sure you understand the statistical impact of what you're doing. If failing a cast roll causes something horrible to happen, and you have a 70% chance of casting successfully, an 60% chance of hitting, an 80% chance of beating the target's spell resistance, and a 60% chance of beating the target's save, your chance of success is only 20% (0.7 * 0.6 * 0.8 * 0.6 = 0.2), meaning you have a 20% chance of accomplishing something, a 50% chance of wasting your action, and a 30% chance of inflicting something horrible on yourself -- those are pretty bad odds for a "reliable" spell with a 70% chance of successful cast!

Huh, that is actually some solid math. See, that's what I wanted to know when people said spellcasting was useless. I didn't know the actual odds were so low.


Attrition spells are an unsound proposition: no reasonably wise or intelligent person would accept a high risk of a large permanent drawback (serious injury or death) in exchange for modest chance at a small temporary benefit.

Well, firstly, the drawbacks are, in fact, not permanent at all. Damage heals naturally and drain is a Lesser Restoration away from not being a problem anymore. That makes even the wisest people tempted. A temporary disability for a temporary benefit. Of course, this should only be paid if the spell is successful, after all.


I would discourage you from levying extra penalties on spellcasters for casting their highest level of spells. If you do what I'm suggesting in this post, the power and risks of spells will already be correctly balanced; there will not be any need for layered penalty subsystems. If you have screwed up the balance so that this is not the case, you're better off cleaning up your own work than trying to slap on a penalty band-aid to jury-rig the system. Besides, a system with a benefit on one side, a drawback on the other, and a sliding scale of risk in-between is simple and elegant. Layers of subsystems make things clumsy and make it harder for players to judge whether casting is a good risk or a bad one.

All right, that's true. With those penalties in place, some stuff becomes really redundant.


On to the spell list! Feel free to borrow from the existing spell titles, but it should be understood that each of these spells will be your own adaptation or interpretation. Don't copy - just take the spirit of the spell and design it from scratch. I recommend 60-100 spells for the arcane caster and another 60-100 spells for the divine caster. That's about the number of spells that were available to the cleric and magic-user in 1e, and should be more than enough.

Yes, this is exceedingly useful. Committing this to memory.


Now, what have you got? You've got a brand-new magic system, with spells and classes that were designed exclusively for use with this system. You've got a highly focused collection of well-balanced material that serves as a playtest platform and benchmark for future development, and clearly demonstrates your vision and intent to anyone in your group who wants to contribute. You're in good shape!

Once you've tested and refined this base material, then you can branch out a little and create new archetypes like druid or necromancer (again, building from scratch rather than retrofitting existing WotC classes). Once you have that experience, try your hand at splicing your new rules into the ranger and paladin to bring them up to speed. At this point, you should have a complete and functional system that meets your requirements and holds together well in actual play.

Wow, that actually sounds a lot more encouraging than I expected for designing a completely new magic system. This is precisely the kind of advice I was looking for: thoughtful, encouraging, precise, useful, concise, intelligent...


Hell, no reason to even assume the existence of spells per-say. You could just implement things like conjuration and necromancy as skills or something. Go nuts!:smallbiggrin:

Actually... yes. Yes, I could. Wow. So many ideas. Head spinning!

Quellian-dyrae
2011-06-25, 04:05 AM
Glad to help. Couple things:


Bookmarked. What's your policy on borrowing? Am I allowed to use something I see, with your explicit permission? Would you like playtest data in return? A detailed explanation of how I used it and what effects it had? Can we work out a deal here?

I'm of the impression that the best possible result of posting homebrew to a public forum would be someone actually using it. Any data you could provide would of course be very welcome!


Well... eh. Here I actually encounter a huge dichotomy. On the one hand, yes, I do agree with your point. On the other... well, I want to ensure niche protection. But, if I were to do away with all core classes and remake them so that they are in the same tier range, it would cost me nothing to make the warrior a specialist in self-buffing and combat, the bard a specialist in enchantment and illusions, the monk a more martial variation of a divine caster, the rogue getting sneak/infiltration magic, etc. Are all classes somewhat magical now? Yes, I suppose. But that doesn't bother me, and it would at least give me an incentive to take out all the penalties I'm using here and only applying them to the "pure" casters (or the more versatile of all of them).

You wouldn't even necessarily need to make every class magical (although you could). The challenge is making sure the magic and the mundane options work well, so if one of your players wants to play a rogue who gets by with skill and training, it can, but likewise, it can play a beguiler-type who uses magic to deal with stealth and traps and such. The problem comes when one player focuses a significant portion of its build into doing something competently and another can easily exceed it with a minimum investment.


Well, firstly, the drawbacks are, in fact, not permanent at all. Damage heals naturally and drain is a Lesser Restoration away from not being a problem anymore. That makes even the wisest people tempted. A temporary disability for a temporary benefit. Of course, this should only be paid if the spell is successful, after all.

A nitpick, but a potentially important one. Ability Drain requires a full Restoration to remove, which under normal rules has an expensive material component, so presumably would have some sort of notable cost in your system. Heh, actually, I could see the fatigue thing being the cost for Restoration, so you can remove the effects of attrition, but only a few times in a day before you pass out...eh, really, I think making it all curable-only-by-rest damage is probably the best bet. Once you can use magic to undo the costs of magic there isn't really any cost to magic...sort of...:smallconfused:

Gamer Girl
2011-06-25, 11:51 AM
Well, firstly, I never said which spells have an Attrition cost. That's something I'd have to consider carefully and only apply to the real gamebreakers. Secondly, I'd never impose something on a player like that. A player can choose to put an 18 on Constitution and get himself a Periapt of Health +6 and keep pumping his Constitution as much as he likes. That's not what being frail means. What being frail means is that spellcasters are not supposed to be able to out-melee a class specifically designed to melee. If a Transmuter who specialises in Enhancement spends all his spells to buff himself up... then sure, maybe you can stand toe to toe with a melee class. But that's because you've just used up all your spells to emulate that.

Well, then you might want to change the whole frail thing to effect ''the spellcasters primary spellcasting ability score'' and not Constitution. That makes it more pure spellcasting effecting, not doing damage by taking away Con/hit points.

This also has the effect of nicely lowering the spellcasters power...as there are minimums to the level spells they can cast(10+ability score mod), so a spellcaster that is effected would loose their higher level spells.




I mean, imagine if the barbarian could rage 4/day, and the exhaustion stacked the same way I'm making Attrition stack. Would you blame the system for letting him push himself to the limit, or would you blame the player who decided to make him rage 3 times in a row, failed all his saves and knocked himself unconscious?

Well, exhaustion is fine, but constitution lost is a big hit. But damage to their primary spellcasting ability score sounds good.

Shadowknight12
2011-06-25, 03:00 PM
Glad to help. Couple things:

I'm of the impression that the best possible result of posting homebrew to a public forum would be someone actually using it. Any data you could provide would of course be very welcome!

All right, I'll keep you posted.


You wouldn't even necessarily need to make every class magical (although you could). The challenge is making sure the magic and the mundane options work well, so if one of your players wants to play a rogue who gets by with skill and training, it can, but likewise, it can play a beguiler-type who uses magic to deal with stealth and traps and such. The problem comes when one player focuses a significant portion of its build into doing something competently and another can easily exceed it with a minimum investment.

Well, by "magical" I was more or less encompassing the ToB classes (YES I KNOW THEY'RE NOT MAGICAL PER SE), so the new fighter/rogue/ranger/paladin/etc would resemble more the ToB classes than the duskblade (though there might be some resemblance to that, too).

I highly doubt that a class that relies heavily on feats, tricks, skills and the like (like the rogue) can ever be a true Tier 3. I'd put them at low Tier 4 at best. And if I'm designing them custom class abilities for them to use their skills with... well, those resemble spells/manoeuvres a lot, don't they?

I do agree with you that non-specialised classes should never outshine the specialised classes, I just don't know if it's possible to do so without a "magic-like system" to support the skill-monkeys.


A nitpick, but a potentially important one. Ability Drain requires a full Restoration to remove, which under normal rules has an expensive material component, so presumably would have some sort of notable cost in your system. Heh, actually, I could see the fatigue thing being the cost for Restoration, so you can remove the effects of attrition, but only a few times in a day before you pass out...eh, really, I think making it all curable-only-by-rest damage is probably the best bet. Once you can use magic to undo the costs of magic there isn't really any cost to magic...sort of...:smallconfused:

Yeah, you're right. I'm probably going to make it all damage and reserve drain for undead and the like.


Well, then you might want to change the whole frail thing to effect ''the spellcasters primary spellcasting ability score'' and not Constitution. That makes it more pure spellcasting effecting, not doing damage by taking away Con/hit points.

This also has the effect of nicely lowering the spellcasters power...as there are minimums to the level spells they can cast(10+ability score mod), so a spellcaster that is effected would loose their higher level spells.

Well, exhaustion is fine, but constitution lost is a big hit. But damage to their primary spellcasting ability score sounds good.

Hmmm, all right, I do agree, but I still think that Con damage should appear in some spells. Perhaps the most powerful of all, since Constitution is probably the most important stat of all six.

Gamer Girl
2011-06-25, 05:23 PM
Hmmm, all right, I do agree, but I still think that Con damage should appear in some spells. Perhaps the most powerful of all, since Constitution is probably the most important stat of all six.

Constitution damage for some spells is fine, but not too many. And you want to make it a higher level effect. No one should take Con damage from casting Color Spray or Grease. But Con damage for Gate or wish is fine.


BTY, you mentioned that aging does not work as a deterrent as the game won't last very long? I use the 2E aging effects, and I can tell you they work. For example, if you cast haste it ages you a year. So the average teen caster can only cast the spell 20 times or so, and then they start looking at age penalties to ability scores. Wish ages you five years, so you need to be careful what you wish for...

Shadowknight12
2011-06-25, 06:40 PM
Constitution damage for some spells is fine, but not too many. And you want to make it a higher level effect. No one should take Con damage from casting Color Spray or Grease. But Con damage for Gate or wish is fine.

Yes, this is what I was considering.


BTY, you mentioned that aging does not work as a deterrent as the game won't last very long? I use the 2E aging effects, and I can tell you they work. For example, if you cast haste it ages you a year. So the average teen caster can only cast the spell 20 times or so, and then they start looking at age penalties to ability scores. Wish ages you five years, so you need to be careful what you wish for...

Well, if you're a human, aasimar, tiefling, orc or half-orc caster, then you may find yourself middle-aged by the end of a campaign. But an elf, fey, true outsider, dragon, elemental, undead, construct, etc? Aging penalties aren't likely to see effect. And I assure you, human is quite possibly the least player race in my campaigns. Everyone wants to play something exotic and quite frankly, I encourage it. And also, aging penalties don't really deter pure casters, they only suck for gishes, who make a lot of use of their physical scores. Pure spellcasters, unless they start as Venerable (and, again, don't belong to a particularly long-lived race) don't suffer that much.

Buuuut I could apply them to gish-like spells, precisely like Haste. Or make the penalties be a percentage of the race's maximum life expectancy, to that it hits elves just as hard as it hits humans.

It's worth thinking about, at any rate.

Epsilon Rose
2011-06-25, 09:38 PM
If you're going to go with the checks for casting idea, might I suggest taking a look at how G.U.R.P.S. does it? They have a couple of different versions that might serve as a good basis/inspiration.

The default system in GURPS is to make every spell a skill and to have the number of points (without mods) in a skill affect how much it costs and what it can do. They also have some spells as required prereqs for other more powerful spells.

One of the interesting things with this system is that it makes casters choose between knowing more spells or being able to cast spells at a higher power level and/or more often.

The second alternative is to give each school it's own skill. In gurps this is used along side the first option with the general school skills counting as several points less than a specialized skill and allowing specialized skills to be bought up to the the level of the generalist skill fairly cheaply (and receiving a bit of a boost if the general skill is increased later).

This lets casters use a wider variety of spells while still allowing them to drill down into a specific one if they want to specialize in it's use.

The other two systems of note are adjective-verb and rune (the names may be wrong since I don't have access to my books atm).
The basic idea behind adjective-verb is that instead of skills for individual spells you have skills for words that can be split into two groups and by combining a word from both groups (sometimes more than one for more powerful or complex spells [or simply to result in more favorable casting]) you create the effect you're looking for. It's also worth noting that different words effect the casting time and cost (so a spell with fire in it could be cast quicker while a spell with body in it would cost more).
Rune magic is basically the same thing only instead of casting via spoken word you use scribed runes. This leaves you several different methods for actually casting the spell (draw it in the air, draw it in sand or something similar, or actually engrave it in something semi-permanent [there's a bit more granularity than that]) but in general it takes longer to cast rune spells (or introduces some randomness if you have a bag of word tokens).

The obvious benefit to these systems is that you don't need to think up hundreds of individual spell (I think they have ~30 words between the two groups).

If you take any part of this advice it behooves you to do some tinkering with skill points; perhaps giving casting classes special magic points that can only be used on spells and schools (and maybe not on schools).
It's also worth noting that you could use all 4 systems to open up more character concepts and put the three types of magic on more equal footing.
If you went that route you could use straight up spell skills to represent innate casters, school skills could be given to learned casters in exchange for fewer magic points and adjective-verb and rune could be the more martial/practical casters; the difference between natural, divine and arcane would then be represented by the use of different languages (Futhorc, Enochian and R'lyehian respectively (you could actually choose any combination of languages you like and assign bonuses in certain situations or with certain spells if you really found it necessary).

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Couple of general notes:

If you're going to go with a check based system, regardless of what it's based on, I recommend looking through a breakdown of truenaming for examples on what absolutely not to do. There's a really good one on these forums, though I sadly do not know where to find it.
Remember to take a step back occasionally and see how you're new rules are interacting with each-other and whats already there. A few times in you're rebuttals you seemed to forget other things that you had also put into place or the full scope of the bigger picture.


EDIT: I found the truenamer breakdown I was talking about. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114269)