PDA

View Full Version : [3.x] How would you implement drawbacks for using magic?



Smokin Red
2012-01-13, 02:11 PM
Hey playground,

I've just read yet another thread about how overpowered mages are and how they don't match with the mages from fiction (Merlin, Gandalfand so on...)

Now I understand that quite well, mages in D&D are world-shattering in kind of a casual way. That's not how I, and seemingly others too, imagine (powerful) magic.
Fictional characters seem to be more self-restricted in using magic.

I think, in most fiction, magic comes with drawbacks. Be it that you have to study the longest part of your life, that it corrupts or draws on your physical ressources.

My idea is to create such a mechanic for D&D, and I thought about using either the 'taint' mechanics or something similar.
So, casting a spell would give the caster taint (or something similar), and the more powerful the spell, the more taint you'd get.
(I have to think about a different term, as it shouldn't be something that concerns only evil spells...)

To be fair, magic items should use the same mechanics as well, much slower, but still.
Magic items are dangerous, think of 'The One Ring'...


What do you think, is this even worth working on?
Any suggestions?

Thanks in advance. :smallwink:

Jeriah
2012-01-13, 02:27 PM
Even if casting is penalized, the melees are going to be harshly penalized if you make magic items dangerous.

Smokin Red
2012-01-13, 02:36 PM
Yes, I know. It's not that thought through at the moment. :smallconfused:
But I think it is a difference if you get x points 'penalty' per spell (-level?) cast or x points 'penalty' per used spell (-level?) in a magic item per week (or even month).

Rapidghoul
2012-01-13, 02:40 PM
There's a few options in this article (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=1002.0) that attempt to balance the tiers in various ways.

I personally like to limit primary caster class levels to half your total number of class levels if you want to keep casters weaker in a campaign. Basically you can only level up as a wizard/sorcerer/cleric/etc. every other level (with no cross-class penalties). This way you get clerics with levels of fighter or paladin, or a wizard with rogue or swashbuckler levels, keeping them back in power level a bit but also creates interesting roleplay scenarios. Classes that are tier 3 or lower with spells (bard, ranger, etc.) typically don't get any penalty like this, but a 3/4 progression (3 levels of bard, 1 level of anything else before your next levels) works in a similar way.

Smokin Red
2012-01-13, 03:51 PM
To tell the truth, I don't care so much about balance. I always thought, it should be the role-playing that is important.

I think 'fluff'-wise, magic should be something straining, something you have to sacrifice for - that's what I want to realize with this 'crunch'.

After giving it some thought, I'll leave out the items for now (except spell-completion items), and create alternate effects for divine and arcane magic (perhaps 'ecstasy' and 'strain'?).

The character will collect those points by casting, every (effective) spell-level will give the caster one point. The higher the sum of those points, the more powerful will the effect be.
e.g. 0-3 points = no effect, 4-6 points = -1 on certain skill checks, and so on ...
I plan on creating a table, which includes effects like losing AC, hit points and the like...

Now these effects aren't permanent, you can lose them over time (perhaps 1d6 per day or something...), but if you have to much (about 30?), you'll keep some of those points.


I hope that such a mechanic makes casters think twice about casting spells, without preventing versatility or power. You can still shatter worlds, but now there is a price.

bloodtide
2012-01-13, 04:13 PM
The very easy and simple way to 'fix' the 'over powered' magic:

1.Allow no types of point buys. Have each player randomly roll for ability scores. This stops 99% of all builds right in it's tracks.

2.Also roll for HP. And if a character gets 2 HP for leveling up...let it stand.

3.Enforce the role playing aspect of prestige classes. Don't allow dips into prestige classes to get an ability with no RP cost.

The first one, more then anything, stops 'overpowered' magic. You simply can't do a crazy, uber, build with low ability scores.


Drawbacks--I have always had magic in my game ''strange, mysterious, wonderful and unknowable''. The idea is you can't have magic just like a science where 1+1=2. When you use magic, anything can happen.

I don't use any kind of 'system' for this, it's just all made as the game goes along.

Smokin Red
2012-01-13, 04:28 PM
The very easy and simple way to 'fix' the 'over powered' magic:

1.Allow no types of point buys. Have each player randomly roll for ability scores. This stops 99% of all builds right in it's tracks.

Awww, but I like point-buy. Well, but I can very well do without it.


2.Also roll for HP. And if a character gets 2 HP for leveling up...let it stand.
Yes.


3.Enforce the role playing aspect of prestige classes. Don't allow dips into prestige classes to get an ability with no RP cost.
Hell yes, most PrC's are, at least in the group I GM, heavily tied to organizations you just don't quit easily. Though some of them offer other PrC's and classes.
I don't even allow multi-classing without in-game reasons. (No barbarian will suddenly get a level of wizard, sorcerer or druid may be another thing...)


The first one, more then anything, stops 'overpowered' magic. You simply can't do a crazy, uber, build with low ability scores.
As I said, that wasn't really the point.



Drawbacks--I have always had magic in my game ''strange, mysterious, wonderful and unknowable''. The idea is you can't have magic just like a science where 1+1=2. When you use magic, anything can happen.

I don't use any kind of 'system' for this, it's just all made as the game goes along.

Yes, that is what I want, but how do you decide when this is the case? I already hear the mage player whining when there spells doesn't work like the rules say...

Funkyodor
2012-01-14, 02:49 PM
How we did it was apply drawbacks to individual spells, instead of casting in general. Example: When using Truesight, you get no save versus any visual effect like a Medusa's gaze or Color Spray; or Overland Flight makes you flat-footed as you cruise along in comfort instead of riding a horse like everyone else. Any spell you feel is overpowered, then apply a drawback that somewhat relates to what it does.

We capped Caster Level benefits from Feats and Items at Character Level, in our opinion those were for casters that didn't have CL=CrL like Paladins, Rangers, & Multi-classes. Benefits gained from Race & Prestige Classes are normal.

We ruled that negative spell level Metamagic Feat applications were invalid. And that multiple metamagic feats on a spell had to be applied in the least advantageous way (Magic takes the path of least resistance).

My advice would be to start small, tack on a few rules as situations come up. Once everyone realizes that casters are still powerful, tack on a few more. Our Rule 0 was vote for rule changes, RAW counts as one vote, tally the rest. Tie goes to the rulebook, kind of a consensus Nerf/Power bat to hammer down/augment up whatever the group wants.

Siosilvar
2012-01-14, 02:59 PM
The very easy and simple way to 'fix' the 'over powered' magic:

1.Allow no types of point buys. Have each player randomly roll for ability scores. This stops 99% of all builds right in it's tracks.

2.Also roll for HP. And if a character gets 2 HP for leveling up...let it stand.

3.Enforce the role playing aspect of prestige classes. Don't allow dips into prestige classes to get an ability with no RP cost.

The first one, more then anything, stops 'overpowered' magic. You simply can't do a crazy, uber, build with low ability scores.

Au contraire. Rolling for ability scores only hurts people who need more than one ability score - spellcasters can make do with a moderately high (15; 14 works but you won't get to cast 9ths until 20th level) casting stat only. Similarly, rolling for HP only hurts those with big hit dice and those who actually need HP to do their thing. The difference between 1 and 4 is a lot less than the difference between 1 and 10, and the caster (if invisible/large miss chance/out of range or whatever) doesn't need hit points.

As for roleplaying prestige classes... that's an acceptable requirement, but casters don't need PrCs to be strong. Noncasters use PrCs to get abilities related to their job that make them better and let them keep up. Casters use PrCs to get class features, but they don't need them because spells are just that good. Also note that 9 out of 10 PrCs grant abilities that are in no way specific to a given organization, though being taught those abilities may... except that in most cases, it wouldn't be out of the question for somebody to learn to apply those abilities on their own.

That's not to say any of those three things are wrong or bad things to do, but you're suggesting them for all the wrong reasons.

The absolute best way to fix broken characters is a gentleman's agreement not to break the game. Everyone's there to have fun, so don't kill everyone's fun.

1That said, drawbacks for using magic are, IMHO, most flavorful and vermilisitudinistic and whatever you want to call it when they're tied to specific spells, like AD&D Haste aging you a year (which isn't much of a penalty, especially for elves, but the point stands).

Jeriah
2012-01-14, 06:05 PM
The easiest quick and dirty solution my group ever did is to give Tier 1 classes a +2LA, Tier 2s a +1LA, Tier 3s and below a +0.

Gemini Lupus
2012-01-14, 06:22 PM
I actually use the Skill Based Spellcasting from the Advanced Player's Guide produced by Sword and Sorcery Studios and if they fail their spellcasting check, they are hit with a Spellblight from Pathfinder Ultimate Magic. Lesser Spellblight for Spell levels 0-4 and Major Spellblight for 5-9. Hasn't happened yet, but I'm looking forward to it. :smalltongue:

Yitzi
2012-01-14, 07:05 PM
Yes, that is what I want, but how do you decide when this is the case? I already hear the mage player whining when there spells doesn't work like the rules say...

Say it's a 5% chance per spell level (including increases from metamagic), and allow a metamagic feat that decreases the chance by 10% for each +1 spell level.

zlefin
2012-01-14, 11:28 PM
i'd say it makes more sense to just use one of the various balance fixes for the game.
The problem isn't balancing the game, the problem is that none of the known solutions is used as a standard; so the issue keeps cropping up. If alot of people would just settle on a new fixed standard; the problem goes away; PF helps some, but not quite enough; but it's one new standard which helps with the balance. The seeds to fixing all the problems are found between PF, legend, thegameologist thing, 4th ed, and a couple other places.
It's just a matter of publicizing it enough that it can become a standard.

My sig has one made up by the gameologist people which helps balance a fair bit.

As to other methods; the point accumulation thing you mention sounds alot like paradox from Mage (in WoD setting)
the more you mess with the world the more paradox accumulates; and overtness affects how much you get; so its best to make your magic more subtle. too much paradox makes BAD THINGS happen.

As to fiction; well, gandalf and merlin aren't some of the more powerful mages in fiction (depending on source; i havetn' looked at that many merlin sources to see how high his power gets). Just because they're iconic doesn't mean they represent a top end.
Part of the issue also is that some of the things the lvl 7+ spells do almost seem like they should be in epic territory, but they aren't. Mostly non-blasty ones; many of the blasty ones feel rather anemic comparatively.

Grod_The_Giant
2012-01-15, 01:53 AM
To tell the truth, I don't care so much about balance. I always thought, it should be the role-playing that is important.

Let's not forget about this, folks.

Personally, I rather like your idea of a progressive taint-type mechanism. Another idea might be to inflict Constitution damage when casting at the extremes-- either for your highest few spell levels, or after casting a certain amount of spells per day-- representing the mage burning his own lifeforce to fuel his magic.

bloodtide
2012-01-15, 02:14 AM
Yes, that is what I want, but how do you decide when this is the case? I already hear the mage player whining when there spells doesn't work like the rules say...

It's not completely random as magic is not pure chaos. some vague rules might be like:

1.High use of magic in a single area(say 10 spell levels or more for 3 rounds or more) can cause a ''magic bleed' as a great amount of magical energy enters the area. This can enhance spellcasting, cause surges or other effects. A fun effect is something like an animated object or a 'living spell'.

2.High concentrations of magic leak. A powerful spell effect or magic item will slowly effect things in the area. So for example, a house in the woods covered in protection type spells would have lots of magical plants around it. Some would be simple such as a flower that could make illusions of color, some might be dangerous like stones that explode if touched and some might be useful a cheery tree with healing berries.

3.Too many conjuration/summonings/teleports can 'weaken' the walls of reality and let things from other places through.

4.Magic cast in magical places or on magic creatures, might be warped or twisted into another effect.

5.High magic use might 'burn out' and area and make it magic dead.

The trick is not not make everything bad. You want a mix of good, neutral and bad.

Ashtagon
2012-01-15, 03:45 AM
Set caster level to 1 + (number of commoner levels). Wizard/cleric class levels don't count.

Quickest nerf ever.

DonDuckie
2012-01-15, 04:57 AM
I'm working on something similar, a dark magic variant.

My attempt at dark magic (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=228854)

It's makes magic riskier by introducing a chance of consequences, at first they are minor, but accumulate over time, and in stressed situations such as combat, spellcasting can be outright dangerous.

It also has rules to later benefit from it, which is mostly a bad guy thing.

I'm not strictly against nerfing magic items, but it penalizes non-casters as well if not more, as it is their only access to magic. And they need it, if nothing else is changed.

GoatBoy
2012-01-15, 05:37 AM
Unearthed Arcana's sanity (http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/resources/systems/pennpaper/dnd35/soveliorsage/unearthedSanity.html) mechanic suggests that spellcasting could cause a loss of sanity after extended use. One can only bend reality so far before it begins to bend back.

Gradually losing sanity when learning new spells is actually a case where Tier 1's are at a disadvantage. This could also force druids and clerics to settle for a subset of their spell lists, or else they risk going bananas.

Less of a nerf but still adding an element of risk, it could be ruled that a caster who loses a spell by botching a Concentration check would suffer some kind of mishap as the raw energy of the spell is released. Granted, a well-played caster should almost never even have to make Concentration checks, and skill checks are buffed so easily as to make failure a non-option, but this line of thinking might be a good place to start.

Smokin Red
2012-01-15, 06:34 AM
Unearthed Arcana's sanity (http://www.systemreferencedocuments.org/resources/systems/pennpaper/dnd35/soveliorsage/unearthedSanity.html) mechanic suggests that spellcasting could cause a loss of sanity after extended use. One can only bend reality so far before it begins to bend back.

Gradually losing sanity when learning new spells is actually a case where Tier 1's are at a disadvantage. This could also force druids and clerics to settle for a subset of their spell lists, or else they risk going bananas.

Less of a nerf but still adding an element of risk, it could be ruled that a caster who loses a spell by botching a Concentration check would suffer some kind of mishap as the raw energy of the spell is released. Granted, a well-played caster should almost never even have to make Concentration checks, and skill checks are buffed so easily as to make failure a non-option, but this line of thinking might be a good place to start.

That sounds interesting, have to look it up. Thanks.

@DonDuckie: On the first look it seems (from the intend) to be exactly what I want, too. Thanks

@(nearly) everybody else: I don't want to nerf casters. At least that's not the intend. I want to make the use of magic dangerous. It has more fluff reasons, than crunch.

ChumpLump
2012-01-15, 07:14 AM
I was working on some flavor things, and you may like this.
Casters in the fiction I read, always needed a focus to cast their spells (usaully some B.A. with some real grit will bust in and do some moderate magic sans a focus, but that could be imitated with a feat). So, I have toyed with implementing an "Arcane Focus" necessary for casting spells. Players could choose what type of focus they wanted (A wand, staff, brooch, pen, book, sextant, abacus, fiddle bow, conducting baton, bell, basket, arcane symbol, a small compact gem made from the refining of the planet's lifeforce, and so forth), so long as it filled (at least) one hand (they could just grab and hold it, if part of their clothing, or touch/expose it with their free hand if a tattoo).

Some other fun things you may do is nix easy access to spells, and even remove primary "spellcasting" classes from the line up. Then you could offer scrolls, or reward players with library time, or hidden secrets. The trick here, would be allowing anyone with sufficient Knowledge (Arcana) or Spellcraft to cast any spell they've found (a number of times per week? Per day? Per Month? Up to you!) Makes it so you choose which spells exist, how much spells players have, and gives spells a sort of nifty-rare feel.

You could robe Mage of it's paradox system or build your own. Maybe, have arcana break away from the collective agreement of "how the world should work," small infractions before the arcane savvy is fine (casting minor spells around mages, magical beasts etc) maybe a small build up in (let's call them paranoia points, shall we, for now?) paranoia points. But higher level spells, or spells cast in front of not-magic savvy fellows causes more "paranoia points." When Paranoia reaches a certain point, bad things happen as the universe says "QUIT BREAKING MY RULES!" Of course, in such a system there ought to be a way to "Detox" or tithe to the universe. Say casting a spell causes paranoia point build of 1 point per spell level (cantrips can be cast with no inherent build up, but then again, what if Halfred the Unbelieving is watching?). And each non-spell savvy (define as you please) creature that witnesses the spell being cast increases paranoia by 1 point. Say by 10 points, Boom. Nasty surprise. Build a chart. Maybe not everyone loves "random incidence" charts, if that's the case, maybe have a list of nasty surprises ranging in nastiness based on how far over the line they cross.
So an 11 step spell may give you a headache.
A 27 step spell (maybe 9 fireball spells without detox) would give you an horrific shadow creature composed from your very own essence to deal with.
A 90 step spell (Why haven't you detoxed?!!?) could make your head explode.

Ashtagon
2012-01-15, 07:22 AM
You might consider xenotheurgy

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=122103

bloodtide
2012-01-15, 01:46 PM
@(nearly) everybody else: I don't want to nerf casters. At least that's not the intend. I want to make the use of magic dangerous. It has more fluff reasons, than crunch.

That's the way I do it. Make magic 'strange, mysterious and dangerous', but not useless.

Some creature examples:

1.Telepathy(and other mental powers) with some creatures is dangerous. For example reading the mind of a demon exposes the caster to 'chaotic thoughts', while a mordon gives lawful thoughts. Even for a human to mind link with an elf has dangers. Plus more intelligent/will powered creatures can even ride the link and see into the casters mind.

2.If you use any spell that steals life force, hit points or whatever from a creature and give them to the caster...there is a chance you can be effected by that creatures magic. This can be an altered physical form(that is mostly temporary but there is always a chance it might be permanent), a mental effect, a physical effect or such.

3.Most magical creatures, especially outsiders, are dangerous to touch. If you make flesh to flesh(or whatever) contact you will most likely suffer and effect.

Jeriah
2012-01-15, 04:56 PM
Set caster level to 1 + (number of commoner levels). Wizard/cleric class levels don't count.

Quickest nerf ever.Unless they take Chicken Infested, then they kill you even harder.

Deepbluediver
2012-01-15, 05:21 PM
I think it gets difficult to impose limits on magic via what are essentially punishments, especially loss of control of your character (because that is what many players hate most of all).

The best I might be able to suggest is having magic draw on your "life energy" and every time you cast a spell it ages you, somewhat. Something like level 0 spells cost a day, level 1 spells cost 3 days, level 2 spells a week, etc. This makes magic items that mimic spells more valuable, and your party wizard has to be careful about just how much magic he uses, unless he wants to be dead or senile from old age before the adventure is half over.

If you are having problems with unbalanced characters, and are willing to include a significant amount of homebrew in your campaign, I am working on a comprehensive fix for magic, found here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=228876). Even without the rest of the rebalanced classes posted, implementing some sort of base SR and spellcraft check on every cast could go a long way towards helping even out the melee/magic competition.

Yitzi
2012-01-15, 06:14 PM
@(nearly) everybody else: I don't want to nerf casters. At least that's not the intend. I want to make the use of magic dangerous. It has more fluff reasons, than crunch.

In that case, modify what I said; have it be a 1% chance per spell level that the spell will go awry, and when it does determine the effect as for a scroll mishap.

Glimbur
2012-01-16, 10:58 AM
If you're feeling lazy, look at the Wu Jen in Complete Arcane for ideas. They have strange limits on their magic which are flavorful but not crippling. Implement their drawbacks on everyone, with different lists of taboos for different caster types (wizards have different taboos to pick from than clerics or sorcerers etc.)

Sgt. Cookie
2012-01-16, 11:15 AM
I'd implement this:

Every wizard can cast all cantrips.

Every time a wizard gains a new level of spells, it must decide on one of the eight schools to focus on.

When the Wizard does so, it may cast that school of spells at that level.

A Wizard must have the previous level to advance the next one.

For example: A 1st level wizard has access to level 0 and level 1 spells. The Wizard knows all level 0 spells, but he must decide which of the eight schools to "apply" the first spell level to. If, for example, he decided to focus on conjuration, he would only be able to cast seven spells, all from the conjuration school, instead of forty or so from all of the schools. (Assuming no banned schools)

When the Wizard hits third level, and a new level of spells, he must then decide to either increase conjuration to second level, or gain access to level one spells from another school.

Gemini Lupus
2012-01-16, 12:27 PM
I'd implement this:

Every wizard can cast all cantrips.

Every time a wizard gains a new level of spells, it must decide on one of the eight schools to focus on.

When the Wizard does so, it may cast that school of spells at that level.

A Wizard must have the previous level to advance the next one.

For example: A 1st level wizard has access to level 0 and level 1 spells. The Wizard knows all level 0 spells, but he must decide which of the eight schools to "apply" the first spell level to. If, for example, he decided to focus on conjuration, he would only be able to cast seven spells, all from the conjuration school, instead of forty or so from all of the schools. (Assuming no banned schools)

When the Wizard hits third level, and a new level of spells, he must then decide to either increase conjuration to second level, or gain access to level one spells from another school.

While this is flavorful, I don't know anyone who would actually go for this. It is severely limiting and essentially makes Generalist Wizards unplayable and hinders Specialists from doing anything besides their own school, and if the conjurer decides at third level to, say gain access to Abjuration, then he will never hit 9th level spells in a standard 1-20 game.

Sgt. Cookie
2012-01-16, 12:54 PM
While this is flavorful, I don't know anyone who would actually go for this. It is severely limiting and essentially makes Generalist Wizards unplayable and hinders Specialists from doing anything besides their own school, and if the conjurer decides at third level to, say gain access to Abjuration, then he will never hit 9th level spells in a standard 1-20 game.

That's... kind of the whole point. The issue with wizards is that they are too damn versatile; by having magic this way, you force wizards to specialise. Thus, cutting down on their versatility dramatically. And that in turn forces them to work with other classes, and other wizards who specialised in different schools, to cover their weaknesses.

You want to build an evocation wizard? Go right ahead, just don't expect to be able to block magic missiles, or summon monsters, or see and make things invisible or... you get the picture.

Gemini Lupus
2012-01-16, 01:30 PM
That's... kind of the whole point. The issue with wizards is that they are too damn versatile; by having magic this way, you force wizards to specialise. Thus, cutting down on their versatility dramatically. And that in turn forces them to work with other classes, and other wizards who specialised in different schools, to cover their weaknesses.

You want to build an evocation wizard? Go right ahead, just don't expect to be able to block magic missiles, or summon monsters, or see and make things invisible or... you get the picture.

I see where you are coming from, I just think that it's too far in that direction. And I personally, wouldn't play in a game where if I want to be a Wizard, I'm forced to specialize. I personally don't like playing specialists anyway, I'm very much a jack-of-all trades kind of person. Now, if you wanted to have even Generalists, say ban a school, Specialists ban two or three schools, and Master Specialists ban three or four schools, I'd be ok with that.

Ashtagon
2012-01-16, 01:49 PM
That's... kind of the whole point. The issue with wizards is that they are too damn versatile; by having magic this way, you force wizards to specialise. Thus, cutting down on their versatility dramatically. And that in turn forces them to work with other classes, and other wizards who specialised in different schools, to cover their weaknesses.

You want to build an evocation wizard? Go right ahead, just don't expect to be able to block magic missiles, or summon monsters, or see and make things invisible or... you get the picture.

The way your rule was written, if they want 9th level spells, they are limited to a single school. Even specialist wizards aren't so limited in their spell selection.

NichG
2012-01-16, 02:43 PM
The real question is, if you were in a campaign where all Tier 1 and Tier 2 were banned, but there was a new homebrew class (call it a Magus or something) that could get full progression of a single school of magic but nothing else (not even universal spells), would you take it? Would that be equal in versatility to the Tier 3 classes, or even more versatile?

I tend to think that it would easily be more versatile than the Tier 3s. I'd take Illusion, for example, and use all the Shadow X spells to emulate spells of other schools if I wanted really broad versatility. Or I'd make heavy use of Anyspell and Greater Anyspell to pick at the restrictions. Or a conjurer could summon creatures to cast the spells they want used.

If I was playing by the spirit of the restriction, I still think it'd be plenty versatile. Illusions are hugely versatile even without the spell emulation stuff, so long as you make sure your target doesn't interact too closely with them. Conjurations can cover support summoning, movement, battlefield control, and even blasting all on their own. A Transmuter would be a character focused on buffing others and themselves. However, even then you can get a lot of mileage out of the polymorph line. Polymorph Any Object, though high level, is amazingly versatile (I turn the cheese into a dragon!).

I probably wouldn't bother with an Evoker, Abjurer, or Diviner in such a system though. And I don't usually bother with Necromancy even for a normal Wizard. Enchantment is tricky here - it has one or two really good spells and the rest are effectively useless, and even the good ones are useless in an undead/monster heavy campaign.

Deepbluediver
2012-01-16, 07:28 PM
I see where you are coming from, I just think that it's too far in that direction. And I personally, wouldn't play in a game where if I want to be a Wizard, I'm forced to specialize. I personally don't like playing specialists anyway, I'm very much a jack-of-all trades kind of person. Now, if you wanted to have even Generalists, say ban a school, Specialists ban two or three schools, and Master Specialists ban three or four schools, I'd be ok with that.

The problem with wizards in 3.5 as written is that they are an Ace-of-all-trades; both powerful and versatile.

Specialist wizards get pretty much the same thing, they just have a few more spells per day.
If I was going to keep in the specialization vs. non-specialization, then I would probably make it impossible for non-specializers to get 9th level spells, so that the reward for specializing actually means something, and the penalty for NOT specializing has some real teeth in it.

Jeriah
2012-01-16, 08:56 PM
I like the concept of making them specialize, get no bonus spells/day from it, and ban all other schools with the exception of cantrips.

Yitzi
2012-01-16, 11:08 PM
None of this is on topic, though; the question here was about making magic unreliable, not about nerfing wizards.

Ashtagon
2012-01-17, 01:32 AM
None of this is on topic, though; the question here was about making magic unreliable, not about nerfing wizards.

I repeat my suggestion about using those xenotheurgy rules I linked to upthread.

Darioon
2012-01-17, 02:14 AM
I have both GM'ed and played in many 3.0 3.5 games

I don't understand the problem mages are equal in power to fighters rogues and monks of equal levels. If you are having problems with over powered casters the problem isnt the mages but the gm all magic classes have major built in restrictions but most gms let there players bypass all the restrictions and go haywire.

1 any powerful spell has expensive OR RARE AND HARD TO FIND components most gms let casters cast without paying attention to this.

2 Casters have a very limited amount of spells they can use per day this doesn't matter if you let them rest everytime they run low on spells again this is a problem with a gm not the caster casters should not be able to assume that once the blow thier load the can just go to sleep and be fine there should be more than one battle in most days of adventure and they should make the hard choice of is it best to use this spell now or may i need it later.

3 Spontaneous casters have very little versatility but lots of uses so they dont always have the spell they need

other casters have access to all spell but they dont always have the spell the need when they need it if you campaign is so predictable that the mage always has the spells he needs once again thats the gms fault.

4 most gms allow combos that make no sense which is where casters gain power any prestige class should have ROLEPLAY and not just oooo power as an objective.

Smokin Red
2012-01-17, 03:28 AM
None of this is on topic, though; the question here was about making magic unreliable, not about nerfing wizards.
:smallbiggrin:
Yes, still following this.
Thanks for the suggestions, Ideas, inspiration...

@Darioon: Note the comment about the 'making magic unreliable' - but ALL that you said is right AND not every spell is easy to get, that's also a GM-thing though.


I've tossing ideas around, and I like the sanity-route (who doesn't want crazy old mages? :smallamused:), and I also like the mishap suggestions by Yitzi.
Perhaps in my next campaign I'll use both.


I came up with something else:
In another RPG I used to play, every spell is, essentially, sort of a skill, if you fail it doesn't work, if you fail critical a mishap happens. You have to invest something like spell-(skill)-points in every spell you want to use.

This would need a new take on the caster-classes. Perhaps the casting-attribute is used to determine the spell-points, and there should be feats to get more of them. School-specialization could buff the skill in those spells.
What do you think?

Deepbluediver
2012-01-17, 10:08 AM
None of this is on topic, though; the question here was about making magic unreliable, not about nerfing wizards.

Just implement a spellcraft check on every single spell, like attack rolls and skill checks. Automatic failure on 1, set the DC at whatever works for you.


Now, can we get back to the FUN part of the discussion, mom? :smallamused:




This would need a new take on the caster-classes. Perhaps the casting-attribute is used to determine the spell-points, and there should be feats to get more of them. School-specialization could buff the skill in those spells.
What do you think?

Go read my magic-system fix, please. I think it's exactly what you are looking for.http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=228876

You can cherry pick out any pieces you don't like.

Melayl
2012-01-17, 01:29 PM
The skill based casting system in my sig has drawbacks/dangers for casting, but is still useful.

NichG
2012-01-17, 02:10 PM
Well there's always the 1ed psionics route. Every time sufficient magic has been used in a scene to trigger a check, there's a d100 roll on a non-scaled list of creatures that are magic sensitive to see what gets curious and shows up. It's a campaign-killer though when that 1st level mage throws one too many magic missiles and accidentally summons Jubilex.

More reasonably, there's a bunch of 3rd party splats on different magic systems. I think they were called Encyclopedia Arcane by Mongoose. Each of the systems had a sort of growing drawback system as you used that particular magic. Chaos magic turned you into some kind of crazy abomination, time magic got you yanked out of reality if your paradox exceeded twice your HD, etc.

Then there's the supernatural contract idea (the anime Darker than Black, or the Spirit Shaman class's fluff). Every spell the wizard casts represents a debt to the supernatural that must be paid off. Most of these are paid off in little, seemingly trivial ways (the caster must not eat potatoes for a week), but if they build up there's a cumulative chance based on spells cast over the course of a day (1% for the first spell, then 3% if two, 6% if three, 10%, 15%, 21%, 28%, 36%, ...) that the caster slips up and accidentally violates one of the contracts, resulting in the particular spell going haywire the next time he casts it (randomly rolled). Lots of work for the GM, though.

You could also simply have it so that every spell consumes a portion of the caster's life. The age rules never matter in D&D, so it'd bring them to bear. The reason wizards are all old isn't because they need a lifetime of study, its because they're actually all 23, but aged past their time. A 1st level spell might consume merely a thousandth of someone's lifespan (a few hours for a human, though a full year for an elf), but 9th level spells might consume a month of life or more when they're cast. Wish traditionally consumed a good chunk back in earlier editions. This makes dragon wizards really powerful since they age up in HD, but kind of crazy (since they're sacrificing thousands of years of life for quick power). It also makes lichdom really attractive.

Eldan
2012-01-17, 02:35 PM
I personally like the Binder's idea. Roleplaying penalties, as opposed to mechanical ones.

If you tihnk about it, a wizard is working similarly to a binder. He spends an hour in the morning pre-casting his spells, then binds them in his head. They aren't personalities, but they are powers.

Darioon
2012-01-18, 12:56 AM
Sorry for misunderstanding in that case two suggestions i might add is

Magic Corruption - every use of magic would seep into the physical being of the caster slowly changing them into a magic vessel at start glowing eyes followed by cracks down there skin then finally turning into a magic creature altogether and losing their own sentience. this should only happen to ones that abuse it so light magic corruption should disperse slowly so that careful wizards could remain unchanged thru patience and wisdom.

Wild Magic - add a bit of unpredictability to magic in this case any time a spell is cast roll a percentile and add an effect to it half of which would simple change the look or something else minor to the spell where as the other half could change it better or worse into another spell or random effect example i cast frozen orb at the balor only to have a bouquet of flowers appear.

Othesemo
2012-01-18, 01:38 AM
It would seem that somebody has already linked to Xenotheurgy, which is what I intended to do. I love that system, and it achieves what you're looking for quite well.

If you don't like that, I might suggest a slightly modified version of Sgt. Cookie's idea- perhaps gaining a new school level at each increase in caster level, up to the maximum level you can cast?

motionmatrix
2012-01-18, 10:44 AM
At first glance, Sgt. cookie's suggestion seemed downright death to magic. Then I thought a nice way for you to limit magic (and this will play into adding mishaps/problems) under his system could actually work if you set it up like this:

1st level caster has all cantrips/orisons, Picks one school for 1st level spells.
3rd Automatically gain 2nd level spells for your first school of choice. You pick a new school that you can now cast 1st level spells from.
5th 3rd level spells from school one, 2nd level spells from school two, 1st level spells from school three.
7th 4th from School one, 3rd from school two, 2nd from school three, 1st from school four.
9th 5th from school one, 4th from School two, 3rd from school three, 2nd from school four, 1st from school five.
11th 6th from school one, 5th from School two, 4th from school three, 3rd from school four, 2nd from school five, 1st from school six.

Rinse and Repeat until level 17th.

level 18 + each increases the access of all schools by one, to a maximum of 9th level spells.

Now you have a Cleric, Druid or Wizard who is universal, but has flavor and not access to everything, especially at the higher levels.

Your 17th level level caster has very powerful 9th level spells, but from one school only. By the time he is 20th level, however, she will be able to cast 9th level spells from 4 different schools. That is plenty of versatility without effectively turning them into gods (that still requires Min/Maxing on the player side).

Now to the actual point of the thread: the drawbacks!

No drawbacks for casting spells from schools which you have more than one spell level for (i.e. 2nd level spells or higher) as long as the spell is not of the highest spell level you can cast in said school.

For Example: A 5th level wizard who picked necromancy as his first school, conjuration as his second, and abjuration as his third would not have drawbacks for necromancy spells up to 2nd level, or conjuration spells up to 1st level.

If the spell being cast does not fall under these condition, then you must roll a (d20 + caster level + relevant ability modifier) against DC (20 + double the spell level) or fail to cast the spell. If the spell is from the first school picked, the DC is (20 + Spell level instead).

If you fail the roll by 5 or more, you actually lose the spell.

If you fail the roll by 10 or more, the spell backfires on you or an ally, as appropriate.

If you fail the roll by 15 or more, the spell does the opposite of what was intending; healing instead or harming, increasing the monster's strength rather than drain it.

This system is designed to hurt the higher level spells (but not completely deny them) and when a sufficiently high enough level caster exists to cast 7th-9th level spells, they will think twice before doing so, because there is a real possibility that it will not work, and it will really hurt you or your allies instead.

The fact is that a dc 38 check on a roll that you can't easily buff up too much seems fair to cast 9th level spells from schools other than your original one. And makes sense too: even generalist wizards tend to favor one or two schools above others.

pwykersotz
2012-01-18, 03:42 PM
This is a softer penalty, but it can be very flavorful if your players are on board. Use the Spell-Point variant for Vitalizing.

From the SRD:
Spell Point Variant: Vitalizing

In the vitalizing system, spellcasters can potentially cast a great number of spells in a day, but every spell cast is a potential burden on the caster’s health and vitality. Reaching for and directing magical energy is a dangerous and taxing exercise, at least as difficult as heavy labor or prolonged exertion.

This variant of the spell point system does not change the way a character prepares spells, casts spells, regains spell points, or any of the other rules from that system. However, the spellcaster’s pool of spell points represents a physical, not just mental, limit on his spellcasting power.

When a spellcaster’s spell point pool falls to half of his maximum or less, he becomes fatigued.

When his spell points drop to one-quarter of his maximum or less, he becomes exhausted.

For example, at 1st level Haigh the cleric has 3 spell points (2 from his level, +1 bonus point for high Wisdom). He enters a fight by casting bless on his allies, spending 1 of his 3 spell points. Doing this has no ill effect on Haigh, since he still has more than half of his maximum spell points remaining. If, during the fight, he then casts divine favor, spending another spell point, he now becomes fatigued, since he has only one-third of his spell points remaining. After the fight, he spontaneously casts cure light wounds on Kroh, spending his last spell point. Not only has he exhausted his spells for the day, but he has exhausted his body as well.
Recovering Spell Points

In the vitalizing system, spellcasters must rest to recover their spell points and restore their physical well-being. A character’s spell point total is tied directly to his level of fatigue. If an exhausted character rests for 1 hour, he becomes fatigued—and his spell point total rises to one-third of his normal maximum (round fractions down). A second hour of rest increases the spellcaster’s spell point total to two-thirds of his maximum. It takes another 6 hours of rest to replenish the last one-third of his spell points and shake the physical effects of the spellcasting. Spells that remove fatigue and exhaustion (such as heal and restoration) leave the recipient with a spell point total equal to two-thirds of his normal maximum.

As in the standard rules, a spellcaster must rest for a full 8 hours before preparing a fresh allotment of spells for the day. Even if an exhausted spellcaster regains his lost energy and spell points, he can’t change the spells he has prepared without 8 hours of rest.
Mundane Fatigue

If a spellcaster is subjected to some other effect that would make him fatigued or exhausted, he loses spell points accordingly. If he becomes fatigued, his spell point total drops to one-half his normal maximum (round down), and if he becomes exhausted, his spell point total drops to one-quarter his normal maximum.
Optional Vitalizing Variants

As a further variant of this system, all spellcasters gain bonus spell points based on their Constitution scores rather than the ability score that normally grants bonus spells. This variant reflects the idea that spellcasting power is tied to the caster’s physical health. It also essentially requires spellcasters to have two high ability scores, though most spellcasters are happy to have a high Constitution score anyway.

A second optional variant would allow a spellcaster to exceed his normal pool of spell points, but at great personal risk. Doing so successfully requires a Concentration check (DC 20 + spell level). Each time a character casts a spell for which he does not have sufficient spell points and subsequently fails the Concentration check, he takes both lethal and nonlethal damage equal to the level of the spell cast. A desperate (or unwary) spellcaster can literally cast himself into unconsciousness in this manner.

You'll have to adapt it slightly to apply to the Vancian Spell-slots, but I've used this to great effect.