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Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-11, 05:37 PM
EDIT(4/15): Hello all! Since I put this thread up, a lot of really good ideas have been tossed my way, and I appreciate all of it. I think this Variant Spellcasting System is off to a great start! I've modified some of the rules, particularly Mana Regeneration (no more lvl 9 spell spamming!) and added some stuff pertaining to Domains and Favored/Banned Schools. I'm hoping to come up with a simple Counterspell/Dispell system some time soon, as well as a few other odds 'n ends (ex: Sorcerers should be able to regen Mana by eating spells affecting them).

But for now, this system is almost done (well, in a process of tweaking and fiddling to be sure). I still want to hear advice, however. Anything at all. If you see an exploit, or a major weakness, or something that'll render Wizards unplayable, please let me know! Feedback is what sustains me!

The Original OP is below in the Quote, and the Spoiler is the Mana System. Please enjoy, and let me know what you think!


My players, in anticipation of our first game as a group, were looking through the various rulebooks for 3.5 I own. After a while, one of them mentioned that they felt the spellcasting system was lackluster. It was suggested to me that they would prefer to keep the same spell-lists, but go with a mana system instead of spell-slots. Looking through D&D Wiki (http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/Main_Page) (a sacrilege, I know) and the Hypertext (http://www.d20srd.org/index.htm), I couldn't find anything that sounded as simple/straightforward as I needed, so I went and wrote up my own rules for Mana-Casting.

Mana Pool Variant Rule System (for the Discerning Theurge):

Here's the basis: Mana is a unit of Magic used to cast Spells. All Spellcasters are given a Base Mana Point score, similar to Base Attack Bonus. A character's Spellcasting Ability Modifier is added to their BMP in order to arrive at their Total Mana Pool.

Spellcasters are capable of casting any spell they know/have studied, even ones that are above their current caster level, but only by one caster level and they cast such spells from their Hit Points instead of Mana. Any Hit Points lost through spellcasting in this way cannot be healed until out of combat. A first level Wizard cannot cast Fireball, but he can cast Scorching Ray for 3 HP.

Spell Cost: Spell costs follow a simple mathematical formula, [(Spell Level * 2) 1]. For a simple, visual guide, Spell Costs are listed below in the Table:

{table=head]Spell Costs in Mana
{table]Spell Level | Mana Cost
0 | 0*
1 | 1
2 | 3
3 | 5
4 | 7
5 | 9
6 | 11
7 | 13
8 | 15
9 | 17
[/table]
{table]* 0-level spells cost no Mana to cast[/table][/table]


Tables Showing Level to Base Mana Points

{table=head]Base Mana Points: Low (Paladin, Ranger)
{table] Character Level | Base Mana Points
1 | 0
2 | 0
3 | 1
4 | 1
5 | 2
6 | 2
7 | 3
8 | 3
9 | 4
10 | 4
11 | 5
12 | 5
13 | 6
14 | 6
15 | 7
16 | 7
17 | 8
18 | 8
19 | 9
20 | 9
[/table][/table]

{table=head]Base Mana Points: Medium (Druid, Bard)
{table] Character Level | Base Mana Points
1 | 1
2 | 1
3 | 2
4 | 3
5 | 3
6 | 4
7 | 5
8 | 5
9 | 6
10 | 7
11 | 7
12 | 8
13 | 9
14 | 9
15 | 10
16 | 11
17 | 11
18 | 12
19 | 13
20 | 14
[/table][/table]

{table=head]Base Mana Points: High (Cleric, Sorcerer, Wizard)
{table] Character Level | Base Mana Points
1 | 1
2 | 2
3 | 3
4 | 4
5 | 5
6 | 6
7 | 7
8 | 8
9 | 9
10 | 10
11 | 11
12 | 12
13 | 13
14 | 14
15 | 15
16 | 16
17 | 17
18 | 18
19 | 19
20 | 20
[/table][/table]


Note on Favored Schools and Domains
Spellcasters, like most folk, tend to focus on more specific aspects of their art to the detriment of others. At character creation Arcane Spellcasters select one Banned School, from which the Spellcaster may not cast any spells, and one Favored School, whose spells receive a -2 Reduction in Mana Point Cost when cast. Divine Casters with access to Domain Spells still receive their Domain Power, but also receive the -2 Reduction to spells on their Domain List(s).

Mana Regeneration: Mana recovers in much the same way as Fast Healing. All Spellcasters regain spent Mana (minus those used in Upkeep) at a rate equal to the highest level spell they can cast without HP usage minus one (Highest Spell Level -1). Always round down before subtracting. A Fifth Level Wizard capable of casting Fireballs pays 5MP for the privilege, but will regain 2MP at the start of his next turn, before Spell Upkeep is paid. Similarly a Sorcerer casting Meteor Swarm will use 17MP to cast, and Regenerate 9MP on his next turn.

Spell Upkeep: Spells of the Conjuration school, and any spell with an effect duration longer than a single round, follow a slight variant in these general rules. When casting one of the Summon Monster line for instance, a Spellcaster will pay the full price of the spell, but must then continue to pay in order for the spell to continue from round to round. The Upkeep of such a spell is its original cost halved. In the case of a fraction, round down. The Upkeep is paid on all such spells automatically at the beginning of a Spellcaster's turn, after Regen, if they choose to extend it, and does not take an action.

Casting from Hit Points: When during combat a Spellcaster needs to cast a spell that would deplete their Mana Pool below 0, their Mana is instead reduced to 0 and the remaining cost of the spell is taken from their Hit Points (or Wound Points if using the Vitality and Wound Point (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/adventuring/vitalityAndWoundPoints.htm ) variant rules). They also spend HP or Wounds instead of Mana if they attempt to cast a spell of a higher level than they can cast (a 3rd Level Wizard spends HP if trying to cast Fireball or Teleport). If a Spellcaster casts using Hitpoints or Wounds, he or she immediately becomes Fatigued. If he or she is already Fatigued when casting from Hitpoints or Wounds, they instead become Exhausted. Mana Regeneration is suspended for one round after casting from Hitpoints/Wounds, but resumes as normal after that. A Concentration or Spellcraft Check (DC20) made after casting from Hitpoints/Wounds restarts the regeneration immediately. A Concentration or Spellcraft Check (DC20) made after an Encounter reduces Exhaustion back to Fatigue, or Fatigue back to normal without the usual wait, but cannot reduce Exhausted all the way back to normal.


tl;dr, Mana system like BAB plus casting mod with mana regen like Fast Healing.

So my questions to the Playground:

Is this better/worse than the usual Mana System proposal?
Are the numbers too low, too high?
Is there some horrible exploit I didn't notice?
Is this system even playable?


I deeply respect the opinions and homebrew skills of the Playground, so I hope that someone here can give me an idea what's what. Thank you.

LordofBones
2012-04-12, 05:18 AM
Why do wizards and druids have almost the same number of points as paladins and bards, while clerics and sorcerers have twice their nearest competitors'?

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-12, 02:15 PM
I didn't think about that. Fixed, hopefully. I'm thinking about moving the Druid down a level and moving the Bard up to High progression, to keep the usual spontaneous casters together. And I'm also considering changing the Mana Cooldown rule to be class-based, so for example a Wizard might have Cooldown 2, and a Bard would have Cooldown 1.

What do you think? The Cooldown rule is starting to become a problem in my mind for how balance wrecking it could be.

Phosphate
2012-04-12, 02:58 PM
I can't get rid of the feeling that you can cast level 9 spells at will with a high enough casting stat.

Siosilvar
2012-04-12, 03:03 PM
I can't get rid of the feeling that you can cast level 9 spells at will with a high enough casting stat.

A sorcerer with a 20 Constitution (14 base + 6 enhancement because, well, why not?) can cast a 9th level spell every other round.

Mana regeneration needs to be a lot lower than that. I'd use at least the costs of the spell point variant (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm) (2 * spell level - 1), maybe even higher, if you want to keep it at a secondary stat modifier.

Or, you could take a page from Tome of Battle and require five minutes of meditation, but refresh the entire mana pool.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-12, 08:04 PM
A sorcerer with a 20 Constitution (14 base + 6 enhancement because, well, why not?) can cast a 9th level spell every other round.

Mana regeneration needs to be a lot lower than that. I'd use at least the costs of the spell point variant (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm) (2 * spell level - 1), maybe even higher, if you want to keep it at a secondary stat modifier.

Or, you could take a page from Tome of Battle and require five minutes of meditation, but refresh the entire mana pool.

Hmmm. I didn't think of that problem when I wrote this up, yet another reason I need editors...

Alright, I think this 2-part solution will solve the problem:

Mana Regeneration is determined by your raw, unenchanted Secondary Spellcasting Ability Modifier. Your Primary can be enhanced by enchantments and items.
Spell costs now follow the Hypertext Variant Rules (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm) to determine the mana cost of spells (metamagic cost rules also enforced)


I will add these to the OP. How do you feel about the Progressions for each class? Should any be moved?

Phosphate
2012-04-13, 02:08 AM
I would suggest something even more extreme, to be honest: while using your mana pool normally for most spells, high level spells should STILL be capped to x per day regardless of your pool (by high I mean levels 7, 8, and 9).

Because if they weren't, you can just zerg rush everyone by spending 10 minutes summoning 5 high level monsters per minute. And that's not cool.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-13, 02:46 AM
I would suggest something even more extreme, to be honest: while using your mana pool normally for most spells, high level spells should STILL be capped to x per day regardless of your pool (by high I mean levels 7, 8, and 9).

Because if they weren't, you can just zerg rush everyone by spending 10 minutes summoning 5 high level monsters per minute. And that's not cool.

What if you cannot regen mana from conjuration spells that create/summon creatures or things? Or you can only regen half of the mana spent in such a way?

For example, a Sorcerer (20lvl, 26MP) summoning a Celestial Dire Bear (Summon Monster VIII) costs 15 MP. While Mana Regen can return some of that over time, you can now only regen up to 19MP as he must keep using half rounded down of the Summon Monster cost if he wants the monster to keep existing. So you couldn't zerg rush with big monsters, but little ones at a high level might be doable, but not too overpowered.

What do you think? Good idea? Bad idea? Did I miss an exploit again?

Phosphate
2012-04-13, 02:53 AM
Hm...that is actually a very reasonable approach. Yes, I see how it could work.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-13, 03:00 PM
Updated to include newest changes (spell costs, spell upkeep). I'm pretty happy with how this all turned out! Are there anymore suggestions/exploits I should address?

Epsilon Rose
2012-04-13, 03:23 PM
Have you ever heard of Mana-based casting (http://www.dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Mana-Based_Spellcasting_(3.5e_Variant_Rule))

It does something interesting, in that rather than increasing a persons mana pool so they can cast more and higher level spells it decreases the cost of old spell. This means it can avoid having to balance really large numbers at end game and doesn't need quite as fast a regen as your system, which I'm worried might be over powered at low-levels where they could easily cast one of their top-level spells every round and utility/out of combat spell would be broken at every level. It's not E6, but it might be worth taking a look at and seeing if you can adapt any of it to your system.
I'm also worried that basing a paladin's regen on con might push them a bit too far into m.a.d. On the one hand con is a relatively important stat for a tank, so it's likely to be high, but on the other they already need to be focusing on strength and cha unlike the pure casters who can focus just on their primary and secondary stats and rely on save-or-x spells and not touch spells.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-13, 05:03 PM
Have you ever heard of Mana-based casting (http://www.dnd-wiki.org/wiki/Mana-Based_Spellcasting_(3.5e_Variant_Rule))

This is one of the systems I looked at while trying to come up with this mana-based casting. I couldn't find what spells cost under that one, so I went ahead and made this system instead, but it does have its own merits.


It does something interesting, in that rather than increasing a persons mana pool so they can cast more and higher level spells it decreases the cost of old spell. This means it can avoid having to balance really large numbers at end game and doesn't need quite as fast a regen as your system, which I'm worried might be over powered at low-levels where they could easily cast one of their top-level spells every round and utility/out of combat spell would be broken at every level.

I wonder, what would be a good method of lowering spell costs? I mean, by how much and when is it appropriate to lower the cost of Fireball for instance?

And the problem with regeneration at low levels has occurred to me. I don't know. Should mana recover at a set rate (say, all casters have Mana Regen 1, or Wizards have MR 2 and Paladins have MR 1)? But I want to reward casters for building a solid character, so is it fair to punish them with a set regen, or should it be based on stats? What's your take?


I'm also worried that basing a paladin's regen on con might push them a bit too far into m.a.d. On the one hand con is a relatively important stat for a tank, so it's likely to be high, but on the other they already need to be focusing on strength and cha unlike the pure casters who can focus just on their primary and secondary stats and rely on save-or-x spells and not touch spells.

If I keep the regen as is, I might shift Paladin over to Wisdom and Ranger over to Constitution. The use of these secondary stats was primarily to encourage well-rounded characters and to (for example) prevent a Wizard from dumping everything but Intelligence and come out on top.

Epsilon Rose
2012-04-13, 08:16 PM
This is one of the systems I looked at while trying to come up with this mana-based casting. I couldn't find what spells cost under that one, so I went ahead and made this system instead, but it does have its own merits.
The table under mage strain lists the spell cost (the call it strain and, unfortunately, they don't have a table for partial casters). The rows are the character level and the columns are the spell levels.


I wonder, what would be a good method of lowering spell costs? I mean, by how much and when is it appropriate to lower the cost of Fireball for instance?
It would be by spell level, not byindividual spell, UA has a variant with recharge times for each spell in core, but systems like that always seemed overly cumbersome to me if you wanted to add more sources.


And the problem with regeneration at low levels has occurred to me. I don't know. Should mana recover at a set rate (say, all casters have Mana Regen 1, or Wizards have MR 2 and Paladins have MR 1)? But I want to reward casters for building a solid character, so is it fair to punish them with a set regen, or should it be based on stats? What's your take?
I like the idea of fixed regen based on class, it gives you more control over what they can do and should make balance a little easier. That said, if spells have fixed costs (e.g. lv 2 spells cost 2 at level 4 and at level 20) then it might be hard to make it so casters can cast a bunch of low-level spell but not a bunch of high level spells.
I do feel players should be rewarded for making a good character but I think regen might be to volatile a reward. Mana-based casting sets their pool to their key (or in your case secondary) stat.



If I keep the regen as is, I might shift Paladin over to Wisdom and Ranger over to Constitution. The use of these secondary stats was primarily to encourage well-rounded characters and to (for example) prevent a Wizard from dumping everything but Intelligence and come out on top.
Shifting paladins to wisdom might actually make it worse since con at least gives them health. The problem with basing things on secondary stats is wizard and sorcerers who only needed one stat now go to two (which isn't so bad) but the partial casters go from 2+ to 3+ which is a much bigger hit. You could make it so partial casters only use their primary stats and primaries need two.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-13, 09:11 PM
The table under mage strain lists the spell cost (the call it strain and, unfortunately, they don't have a table for partial casters). The rows are the character level and the columns are the spell levels.

Okay, I see that now. Hmmm... I did try to use this for a while, but I missed the Tolerance bit.



I like the idea of fixed regen based on class, it gives you more control over what they can do and should make balance a little easier. That said, if spells have fixed costs (e.g. lv 2 spells cost 2 at level 4 and at level 20) then it might be hard to make it so casters can cast a bunch of low-level spell but not a bunch of high level spells.

I gave the Spell Costs above (spell level * 2 1) in a table in the spoiler. As to the regen, how about Regen 2 for partial spellcasters (Paladin, Ranger, Bard) and Regen 3 for primary (9th level spell slots = regen 3)?


I do feel players should be rewarded for making a good character but I think regen might be to volatile a reward. Mana-based casting sets their pool to their key (or in your case secondary) stat.

I'm thinking now that regen is a set number for each class (although if there's a way to reduce the Wizard/Cleric/Sorcerer's SAD I'm all for it), but in addition I think spell costs should go down as one rises in level. Let's say that once you've reached a new spell level you pay full cost to cast those spells, but for every character level you attain thereafter, the cost for all unlocked spells goes down by 1MP, but never lower than the spell level to which they belong.

Example: I want to cast Cone of Cold (lvl 5) at character level 9 (Wizard). My BMP is 6, with +5 Int (caster, I see now, will be dependant on magic items that increase their caster stat or Mana Pool directly) coming to a total of 11MP. It costs 11MP to cast a lvl5 spell like Cone of Cold (and I think I see another problem...). At 10th level, my mana pool goes up to 12MP, and the spell cost for Cone of Cold goes down 1MP to 10MP per cast. By level 15, Cone of Cold costs 5MP to cast and I've got a Mana Pool of +15MP.

Hmmm... I'm starting to wonder if I need to readjust the BMP... Thoughts?


Shifting paladins to wisdom might actually make it worse since con at least gives them health. The problem with basing things on secondary stats is wizard and sorcerers who only needed one stat now go to two (which isn't so bad) but the partial casters go from 2+ to 3+ which is a much bigger hit. You could make it so partial casters only use their primary stats and primaries need two.

If Mana Regen is set by class, then only a Primary spellcasting stat is needed for anyone to determine their Mana Pool.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-16, 01:20 AM
OP updated to reflect recent changes! Does anyone have anything else to add? I still would like any advice the Playground has for me.

Ralasha
2012-04-20, 04:33 PM
I'm curious as to why the druid has been relegated to a secondary caster. Without their spellcasting abilities intact they are like a ranger without full BAB, and a more limited equipment selection. Yes, the full HD Familiar is nice, but is almost useless in late game.

The reason I say this is: They lack the spontaneous healing spells of a cleric, they lack the bab to be a warrior, they have a rather limited spell selection in so far as what is useful, and what is not. They gain wild-shape later on, but even that is near-useless since when wildshaped your equipment ceases to function, so unless you take some form like... huge dire-bear you aren't going to make up for the lack of attributes, ring of fast healing, boots of haste, slippers of spider-climb, periapt of wisdom (Enjoy re-memorizing the spells from those slots tomorrow).

Or am I wrong?

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-20, 07:05 PM
I'm curious as to why the druid has been relegated to a secondary caster. Without their spellcasting abilities intact they are like a ranger without full BAB, and a more limited equipment selection. Yes, the full HD Familiar is nice, but is almost useless in late game.

The reason I say this is: They lack the spontaneous healing spells of a cleric, they lack the bab to be a warrior, they have a rather limited spell selection in so far as what is useful, and what is not. They gain wild-shape later on, but even that is near-useless since when wildshaped your equipment ceases to function, so unless you take some form like... huge dire-bear you aren't going to make up for the lack of attributes, ring of fast healing, boots of haste, slippers of spider-climb, periapt of wisdom (Enjoy re-memorizing the spells from those slots tomorrow).

Or am I wrong?

Hmmm...I'm not sure how to approach this. I could raise the Druid up to High Progression, but then who goes down to re-balance the system? I don't necessarily want to punish Divine spellcasting by dropping the Cleric. I feel the Sorcerer should get High Progression because...well, magic's in their bones. I suppose Wizard is the best option if I just want to exchange two classes in progression.

Or...I could drop the Wizard down to Medium Progression, and then give them a new class feature that artificially lowers spell costs as they level. The Sorcerer has the talent, the Wizard has the skill. So the Wizard becomes more efficient at spell casting as he levels. The power difference would eventually level out.

Does anyone like this idea?

Jodah
2012-04-22, 02:10 AM
I like the idea and was working on something similar recently that granted mana at the start of an encounter like a factotum's inspiration. A few problems I see when reading through.

About mana regen, which reads:

Mana recovers in much the same way as Fast Healing. All Spellcasters regain spent Mana (minus those used in Upkeep) at a rate of 1 MP per Caster Level minus one. A Wizard capable of casting Fireballs pays 5MP for the privilege, but will regain 2MP at the start of his next turn, before Spell Upkeep is paid. Similarly a Sorcerer casting Meteor Swarm will use 17MP to cast, and Regenerate 9MP on his next turn.

Is that supposed to be spell level? Or (CL/2) -1? Because otherwise that math just doesn't work. Fireball becomes active at level 5, it should net 4 points as written, 2 points by either spell level or cl/2. Meteor Swarm is active at level 17, so it should net 16 points the next turn (8 by spell level, 9 by cl/2).

With the HP thing:

A Lesser Assimar can get up to a 20 Cha at level 1, netting it 6 mana points as a sorc. With a Con of 16 (possible with 26 point buy), and full HP on the first hit die, he gets 7hp. This get him up 13 points he could spend (a 7th level spell) without even getting into dying. Next level he has enough to cast a ninth level spell without going into disabled (+1 for level, +3 for con, +1 minimum for HD netting 18 min). If his 1st level feat was extra spell for cure minor wounds, he can then heal himself back to full to do the whole thing again next combat.

Provided the other reading I see is correct (spend only from life if the spell is a higher level), a dwaven dragonborn sorc is at +22 con, total 10 life at first, minimum 17 at second, and the ridiculousness begins again.

If the problem is that they don't know the spell, then replace sorc with wizard and you have the same problem.

Quick fix: limit them to casting spells of up to one level higher, or don't let them cast spells that higher level than they are capable of period.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-22, 02:40 AM
Is that supposed to be spell level? Or (CL/2) -1? Because otherwise that math just doesn't work. Fireball becomes active at level 5, it should net 4 points as written, 2 points by either spell level or cl/2. Meteor Swarm is active at level 17, so it should net 16 points the next turn (8 by spell level, 9 by cl/2).

I assumed Caster Level = Spell Level. A fifth level Wizard has a third level casting ability, that is he can cast third level spells. If I'm wrong, then I've been reading the rules wrong for years. Fireball costs 5MP because it is a Third Level Spell [(Spell Level x 2) - 1]. But the Caster only regains (Caster Level - 1) Mana. So a Fifth Level Wizard casting Fireball spends 5MP, and then regains 2MP at the beginning of the next round, whereas a Twentieth Level Wizard would pay 5MP and regain 9MP (well, he gets 5MP, but could've regenerated 4 more if another spell had been cast). This allows a Wizard to cast powerful spells with a cost to them, but cast the lesser spells with ease.

I might need to re-word it to be clearer.


With the HP thing: *snip*

Yeah. That's a problem. Luckily, you already provided an answer! :smalltongue:


Quick fix: limit them to casting spells of up to one level higher, or don't let them cast spells that higher level than they are capable of period.


Done! They can cast up to One Level Higher. And in addition, they cannot recover health lost in this way while the Encounter persists. That work?

Dumorimasoddaa
2012-04-22, 02:01 PM
I assumed Caster Level = Spell Level... If I'm wrong, then I've been reading the rules wrong for years.

Sadly you are wrong caster level is just your effective level in that casting class, a 10th level wizard has CL of 10 and 20th 20. PRCs that add one level to spell caster class also add CL as well as increasing spells per day and such. Spell level is referred to as that when ever it is referred to. Caster level effects spell damages/power as well as save DCs for you spells spell level is just that the spells level and what slot it takes up.

Ninjadeadbeard
2012-04-22, 05:31 PM
Sadly you are wrong caster level is just your effective level in that casting class, a 10th level wizard has CL of 10 and 20th 20. PRCs that add one level to spell caster class also add CL as well as increasing spells per day and such. Spell level is referred to as that when ever it is referred to. Caster level effects spell damages/power as well as save DCs for you spells spell level is just that the spells level and what slot it takes up.

Ah. Well. Fixed that, in any case.