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View Full Version : Low Magic? No thanks! INTERESTING MAGIC? Yes Please! (Group Project Idea)



DracoDei
2012-04-28, 12:16 PM
Wikipedia-like cross indexing: Replacing Common Magical Effects (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=14989794#post14989794) covers enhancement bonuses on weapons and armor, resistance bonuses, ability score increasing items, deflection bonuses, and natural armor bonuses.

Fixes exist for low magic campaigns. Never studied them much, but I think they include "better than good BAB" progression and such. There is talk of the "Christmas Tree" effect.

I actually don't MIND the idea that a character at higher levels is heavily dependent on his magic items. I just want those magic items to be DIFFERENT between characters. Basically I want to kill the idea of "staple" magic items, and make it so there are many equally good items to put into a given slot for each class.

Here is my sleep-deprived rant on how to make this happen:

Remove all items that give a bonus to ability scores (keep the spells though). This includes Tomes (and the matching ability from Wish) Compensate by giving ability score increases EVERY level, rather than every 4 levels, but you may not spend more than half your bonuses (rounded up) on any given ability score.
EDIT^3: Alternatively, inspired by THIS (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=278041) (which I also cross-indexed at the start of this post) keep the items, but make the every level increases default to enhancement bonuses, but every 4 levels you may select any single point of such enhancement bonus and change it to untyped. This CAN be the point you just added at that level, but it doesn't have to be.


Increase Holy/Axiomatic/Anarchic/Unholy enchantments to a +3 bonus. Compensate by allowing characters to pick an alignment aspect they have every 5 to 10 BAB. If you are out of alignment aspects, you can repick one's you already have, and gain +2d6 damage against the opposed alignment. True Neutrals instead apply their bonuses to the four corners of the alignment grid (so their attacks count as good aligned against chaotic evil and lawful evil targets, but not against neutral evil targets, etc), but have a SLIGHTLY larger interval between when they get them and get "magic" as their first added effect. Paladin's add the [Good] tag to all smite evil strikes, or if they already have it (either from levels or from a spell or perminent weapon quality) instead add [Lawful] to their smite evil. If they have both, they add 2d6 damage to the smite damage. All of this is negated if the target isn't evil. Modify similar smite's from other classes accordingly.

Leave Silver and Cold-Iron alone. If anything we want to ACCENTUATE the golf-bag effect here.

Triple the price of resistance bonuses on items, and remove all spells that grant a straight up (rather than situational) resistance bonus greater than +1 to saves. Compensate with "Greater" versions of the save-boosting feats (and maybe pumping their numbers), and with faster scaling save catagories to go with the faster BAB catagories.

Enhancement bonuses provide the same to-hit bonus, and the SQUARE of that bonus to damage (there, now people won't always go with +1 Frost Shocking over +3).

Dig up the Wuxia rules that gave everybody the ability to run up walls, balance on the top of willow branches, and run across water at certain levels. Use them. Make a high level feat with Skill Focus(Jump) as a prerequisite that allows you to multiply your jump checks by 2, and scales up from there. Now flight isn't a requirement to be competitive.

EDIT:
And Callos_DeTerran has now given me permission to quote his rules, which it turns out he created in a project called Warriors and Wuxia (www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=205213) provided I gave him credit, which I just did, so here we go.

Flight
Note that all references to Initiator level should be replaced with Equivalent Character Level, or maybe BAB.

This is an almost integral part of most cinematic wuxia/kung-fu films and settings and this one is no different! This rule allows characters to perform astounding feats of athleticism without requiring them to spend valuable resources to do something that every cinematic wuxia star seems capable of. When these rules refer to level, they refer to a character's initiator level which is determined as such. Each level in a martial adept class adds +1 to a character's initiator level, each level in a non-martial adept class that has a full BaB counts a 1/2 while ever level in a class that does not have a full base attack only counts as 1/4. Initiator level is always rounded down.

At 5th level a character gains the ability to walk or run across surfaces that wouldn’t otherwise allow such passage (such as water, quicksand, rough terrain, floors on the verge of collapse, etc.). The character must begin and end their movement on a surface capable of supporting their weight (and making any balance checks that might be required for narrow surfaces) but may otherwise treat such surfaces as normal terrain. If the character does not end their movement on a surface capable of sustaining their weight then they are treated as if they had just stepped unto it at the end of their turn. A character crossing water will fall into it and need to begin swimming, for example. Not, this movement does not protect the character (in any way) from any hazards the surface might have. Crossing lava, for example, would deal damage to the character as if they’d been splashed with it for every five feet that they cross, making it a very dangerous prospect.

At 10th level, the character’s ability to go where no one else can reaches a new height. As long as the character begins and ends their movement on a surface capable of sustaining their weight (and again, making any balance checks that might be required), the character is treated as having a fly speed equal to their land speed with good maneuverability. If the character does not end their movement on a surface that can support their weight, then they immediately begin to fall once their movement has ended unless there is something the character can grab a hold of. If the character makes an attack in the middle of this movement then all of their forward momentum is halted and any remaining movement (if the character can move after attacking, such as by using the Spring Attack feat) must be used to go in the opposite direction.

At 15th level, a character is able to balance on things that no other person ever could. The tips of spears, blades of grass, narrow branches, almost anything can be used to support the character’s weight as long as they make a Balance check (DC 25). If they fail this check then the surface is treated as being unable to support the character, as normal, and the character will begin falling. Additionally, if the character makes an unarmed melee attack against an opponent and hits in mid-flight (or makes an unarmed melee attack as their last attack if they get multiple attacks while moving), then the character is treated as having a surface that can support their weight and doesn’t begin to fall at the end of their turn. On their next turn the character can make another leap, at half speed, by pushing off of the opponent. If the character makes another unarmed melee attack as their last attack, then they are capable of jumping again on their next turn, the penalty to their speed remains at half of their total speed.

Improved Flight (Feat)
Requires: 10th level, ability to fly
Benefit: The character treats their maneuverability while flying as one step better (from good to perfect if using the flying rules above) and may make a standing Jump check before moving. However far they would have been capable of jumping is added to their fly speed for the round, enabling a character to potentially go much further then normal. Abilities that allow a character to treat a standing jump as a running jump of any kind act as normal.
EDIT^2: Note that for purposes of THIS thread "initiator level" should be replaced with "ECL" for PCs and "hitdice" (or perhaps "CR"?) for NPCs, and that this should be applied to all humanoids and monsterous humanoids that can't already fly to keep things balanced.
END EDIT



Better ranged-combat feats (or the three archery disciplines that Age of Warriors came up with). Also mitigates the "if you can't fly you are a putz" factor.

MAYBE make high level feats that grant immunity to Poison and Mind-Influencing effects.

Create a compendium of INTERESTING magic items.

NeoSeraphi
2012-04-28, 10:56 PM
Dig up the Wuxia rules that gave everybody the ability to run up walls, balance on the top of willow branches, and run across water at certain levels. Use them. Make a high level feat with Skill Focus(Jump) as a prerequisite that allows you to multiply your jump checks by 2, and scales up from there. Now flight isn't a requirement to be competitive.

You lost me here. Replacing an item tax (which is something the DM can arbitrarily hand you if it's necessary, ignoring WBL completely because DMs can do that) with a feat tax is just ridiculous, especially when the feat tax is two feats long.

With your suggestion, monks and barbarians will still need to be able to fly to fight dragons and rocs, but now instead of getting wings of flying, they will need to spend two of their precious feat resources (along with skill points) in order to get a chance to strike at creatures who remain aloft.

What about fighters and paladins? They only get 2+Int skill points per level, and the paladin is already extremely MAD (and Sense Motive is basically a skill tax if you want to play the paladin properly, not that it's not incredibly useful to have).

Speaking of the paladin, did you know that not every class has Jump as a class skill? Paladins, clerics, samurai and hexblades all do not have Jump as a class skill (And flight is actually difficult for a cleric to grab. Without the Travel Domain, clerics don't get flight until 15th level when they get the stormrage spell).



Remove all items that give a bonus to ability scores (keep the spells though). This includes Tomes (and the matching ability from Wish) Compensate by giving ability score increases EVERY level, rather than every 4 levels, but you may not spend more than half your bonuses (rounded up) on any given ability score.

This is a decent idea. A caster can still receive a +14 bonus to their primary ability score instead of the normal +11 with this (+10 level, +4 Persisted fox's cunning), but that's not too terribly overpowered, and the ability to mix and match your level-up bonuses will add something nice to each level and also help MAD classes and people who roll badly stay relevant.


Increase Holy/Axiomatic/Anarchic/Unholy enchantments to a +3 bonus. Compensate by allowing characters to pick an alignment aspect they have every 5 to 10 BAB. If you are out of alignment aspects, you can repick one's you already have, and gain +2d6 damage against the opposed alignment. True Neutrals instead apply their bonuses to the four corners of the alignment grid (so their attacks count as good aligned against chaotic evil and lawful evil targets, but not against neutral evil targets, etc), but have a SLIGHTLY larger interval between when they get them and get "magic" as their first added effect.

I have no idea what you mean by this, as it is not a sentence. Do you mean that, every five to ten BAB, a character may select the holy, unholy, axiomatic or anarchic weapon enhancement and automatically apply it to any weapon? Is that a supernatural ability? That seems like a bad idea, as characters who want to play a Badass Normal probably won't enjoy having their weapons forcibly glow with raw alignment power.

Also this takes a dump on Smite Evil, hard. I wouldn't mind it if you improved Smite Evil to compensate, but if you don't, then the pally is just getting kicked in the face over and over by your suggested improvements.


Create a compendium of INTERESTING magic items.

Here is the caveat. A magic item is created by a spellcaster, and requires a specific spell which the item then emulates in some fashion. Unless you plan to go against that entire system, you will never be able to create magic items that do anything other than duplicate spellcasting.

radmelon
2012-04-29, 12:55 AM
I think that the alignment aspect refers to counting as that alignment for the purposes of DR. I like these ideas, I might have to use them in a game.

JKTrickster
2012-04-29, 01:01 AM
Here is the caveat. A magic item is created by a spellcaster, and requires a specific spell which the item then emulates in some fashion. Unless you plan to go against that entire system, you will never be able to create magic items that do anything other than duplicate spellcasting.

Whoa. I just re-read that and realized how true this is.

Does this adequately explain the reason why spellcasters will always be a leg up ahead of martial characters - since martial characters will always be playing catch up? Barring those "spell like systems" that add unique effects and limited spell lists, any character with unique powers will always be more powerful than those without spend too many resources just catching up...

Wow...simplest explanation for "In DnD spellcasters are almost always better than any other class"

Yitzi
2012-04-29, 09:48 AM
Barring those "spell like systems" that add unique effects and limited spell lists, any character with unique powers will always be more powerful than those without spend too many resources just catching up...

Well, unless you have nonspellcasters that have abilities that the casters can't match without equivalent resource expenditure (or, perhaps, at all.)

NeoSeraphi
2012-04-29, 09:53 AM
Well, unless you have nonspellcasters that have abilities that the casters can't match without equivalent resource expenditure (or, perhaps, at all.)

Yes, but that's incredibly difficult to pull off, since wizards have access to literally 1000+ different spells.

Rage can be copied by the rage spell, Test of Mettle can be copied by the mindless rage spell (with a higher DC, most likely), Wild Shape can be copied by polymorph, Favored Enemy is not even high enough to really be relevant, Hide in Plain Sight and Camouflage can be copied by invisibility (A 17th level ability copied by a 2nd level spell), Hexblade's Curse can be copied by bestow curse, the Wings class feature of dragon shamans can be copied by fly, the breath weapon feature of the dragonfire adept can be copied (to an extent) by draconic breath, though the dragonfire adept can still use his at-will and with cool breath effects (but spellcasters can take spells to modify their breath weapons, so it essentially balances out).

I really can't think of any good class features that can't be copied by spells.

awa
2012-04-29, 11:45 AM
skirmish and sneak attack are hard to get at the same levels as the class feature versions. (although casters have better alternatives.)

Yitzi
2012-04-29, 11:53 AM
Yes, but that's incredibly difficult to pull off, since wizards have access to literally 1000+ different spells.

True, assuming that wizards' spell lists aren't seriously limited in some way. I wasn't denying the effect, simply pointing out an alternate way to fix it.


Rage can be copied by the rage spell

Actually, that's only half the benefit of a level 1 barbarian.


Hide in Plain Sight and Camouflage can be copied by invisibility (A 17th level ability copied by a 2nd level spell)

Better use Improved Invisibility, as HiPS allows sniping.
And then you've got a far lower duration, plus vulnerability to See Invisibility.


I really can't think of any good class features that can't be copied by spells.

HiPS/Camouflage does count when See Invisibility is in play.
Any decent fighter fix gives him either abilities or enough feats that cannot be copied effectively by spells.
Many skills cannot be effectively copied by spells, once things like laws (which tend to frown on Charm Person) are taken into account.

There aren't as many as there should be, but there are some.

NeoSeraphi
2012-04-29, 12:25 PM
skirmish and sneak attack are hard to get at the same levels as the class feature versions. (although casters have better alternatives.)

Fistfuls of d6 are a caster's specialty, actually. The rogue's damage output both puts him in danger (Sneak Attack is easiest in melee, where a rogue dies) and requires either another ally (who is dealing plenty of damage on his own) or magic items.

Meanwhile, a caster can cast a spell that deals CLd6/d8 damage from a safe distance, often with no attack roll (and if there is an attack roll, it's a ranged touch attack, allowing the caster to ignore Strength without wasting a feat on Weapon Finesse and also ignoring a creature's natural armor, which are a monster's greatest boost to AC. Spells with attack rolls also generally don't have saving throws, like scorching ray or polar ray).

As for skirmish, meh. Greater Mage Armor is a 3rd level spell that grants +6 AC for 1 hour per caster level. Greater Luminous Armor grants +8 AC and creatures take a -5 penalty to hit the caster (effectively +13 AC for a 4th level spell, which comes online at level 7 when the scout is dealing +2d6/+1 AC or something weak like that).

DracoDei
2012-04-29, 01:45 PM
I think that the alignment aspect refers to counting as that alignment for the purposes of DR.
Yes, this is what I meant, plus stuff like "Regeneration 2/good"... which I am not sure is a thing or not, but I always assume it is when describing abilities that grant an alignment type to an attack.

I like these ideas, I might have to use them in a game.
Thank you, and PLEASE tell me how it goes.

You lost me here. Replacing an item tax (which is something the DM can arbitrarily hand you if it's necessary, ignoring WBL completely because DMs can do that) with a feat tax is just ridiculous, especially when the feat tax is two feats long

With your suggestion, monks and barbarians will still need to be able to fly to fight dragons and rocs, but now instead of getting wings of flying, they will need to spend two of their precious feat resources (along with skill points) in order to get a chance to strike at creatures who remain aloft.

What about fighters and paladins? They only get 2+Int skill points per level, and the paladin is already extremely MAD (and Sense Motive is basically a skill tax if you want to play the paladin properly, not that it's not incredibly useful to have).

Speaking of the paladin, did you know that not every class has Jump as a class skill? Paladins, clerics, samurai and hexblades all do not have Jump as a class skill (And flight is actually difficult for a cleric to grab. Without the Travel Domain, clerics don't get flight until 15th level when they get the stormrage spell).
I never said anything about removing flight items or spells I don't think. Also, for all I can remember, Jump and Tumble get added to all skill lists and all 2+Int classes become 4+Int. I can't really remember.

This is a decent idea. A caster can still receive a +14 bonus to their primary ability score instead of the normal +11 with this (+10 level, +4 Persisted fox's cunning), but that's not too terribly overpowered, and the ability to mix and match your level-up bonuses will add something nice to each level and also help MAD classes and people who roll badly stay relevant.
Hmmm... it is actually an increase? Eh well, 3 points, that isn't too bad of a error margin over 20 levels.
No, wait, it isn't an increase for even what I would call moderate min-maxing.
EDIT:
+6 item
+5 tome (remember these get removed in my version)
+5 level up
=+16 total
VS
+10 level up
+4 Persisted Fox's Cunning (noting that this requires either a feat, or a charge out of a fairly expensive magic item, not that tomes aren't even more expensive)
=+14 total

I have no idea what you mean by this, as it is not a sentence. Do you mean that, every five to ten BAB, a character may select the holy, unholy, axiomatic or anarchic weapon enhancement and automatically apply it to any weapon? Is that a supernatural ability? That seems like a bad idea, as characters who want to play a Badass Normal probably won't enjoy having their weapons forcibly glow with raw alignment power.
No glowing involved, and it doesn't effect the damage directly. I actually think it helps with the "badass normal" feel, because suddenly, if you have to be, you can be Ash from Army of Darkness, rather than Batman with his Wonderful Toys... ok, granted the hand and upgraded car were pretty cool, but the hand just got him back to where he was before, and the car only appeared in one scene.

Also this takes a dump on Smite Evil, hard. I wouldn't mind it if you improved Smite Evil to compensate, but if you don't, then the pally is just getting kicked in the face over and over by your suggested improvements.
No damage bonus, no to-hit bonus. Smite Evil doesn't even tag [Good] onto the attack, it only adds damage and to-hit against Evil creatures(which is easy enough to house-rule a change to, in fact I think I shall do that).

Here is the caveat. A magic item is created by a spellcaster, and requires a specific spell which the item then emulates in some fashion. Unless you plan to go against that entire system, you will never be able to create magic items that do anything other than duplicate spellcasting.
Yeah, not even trying to fix that here(to whatever extent it needs fixing). That is a completely different kettle of fish. What I am trying to do is go from "Generic Christmas Trees" to "Special Snowflake Christmas Trees".

awa
2012-04-29, 06:08 PM
i never said those class features were better then spells just that casters cant replicate them in the same way. a fire ball might do more damge but that still doesn't change the fact that its not a sneak attack.

JKTrickster
2012-04-29, 06:29 PM
i never said those class features were better then spells just that casters cant replicate them in the same way. a fire ball might do more damge but that still doesn't change the fact that its not a sneak attack.

I think this discussion should be moved to a new thread: DracoDei has already said that his houserules don't take this into account or even address it in any form.

However I *am* interested in this discussion. For me, I have never really noticed this before. If you guys want to discuss it, maybe we should move that to a new thread.

Jade Dragon
2012-04-29, 06:33 PM
What do you mean by wuxia rules? The only thing I can think of is Callos's Warriors and Wuxia project. Except that has a flying ability built-in.

DracoDei
2012-04-29, 10:32 PM
What do you mean by wuxia rules? The only thing I can think of is Callos's Warriors and Wuxia project. Except that has a flying ability built-in.
THANK YOU!
Those were the rules I was thinking of!
Here is a link for everyone else. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=205213)
So yes. Throw those right in... Note that you don't actually get a flight ability until level 10, and even then you have to end each turn on a solid surface. At no point can you just take off and keep going without a care. So yes, eventually you are going to want some sort of other way of flying, but there will be a lot more options if you choose to wait until it starts to be a noticeable problem.
Now that I actually look at it, there seems like there might be a minor problem... aerial passes that end with both parties standing in the opposite places seem to me to be a standard thing in Wuxia from what little I have seen of the genre... mostly Samurai Jack and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, not that both aren't pretty good (so are parallel jumps in the same direction with the weapon-play continuing unabated in the air, but that isn't so much of a problem). I guess that just gets lost in the quantized nature of initiative in D&D. Ah well...
Note also that I am ONLY saying the flight rules should be included, NOT anything else from that setting, ESPECIALLY since it is explicitly almost nil magic, which is utterly against our stated purpose here.


EDIT: As long as I am thinking about this, let me throw out some numbers off the top of my head regarding base saves for people to get annoyed about and tell me off for my foolishness, thus creating something that actually works in the process. :smallwink:
Use fractional saves and BAB, with a limit of one +2 kicker per save catagory for each character (this is just a good idea in general as far as I am concerned).
Bad saves for equipment using creatures (NOT JUST HUMANOIDS!) change to 1/2 level instead of 1/3 level.
Good saves for equipment using creatures change from 2+1/2level to 2+3/4Level.

EDIT^2:
And Callos_DeTerran has now given me permission to quote his rules, provided I gave him credit, which I just did, so here we go.

Flight

This is an almost integral part of most cinematic wuxia/kung-fu films and settings and this one is no different! This rule allows characters to perform astounding feats of athleticism without requiring them to spend valuable resources to do something that every cinematic wuxia star seems capable of. When these rules refer to level, they refer to a character's initiator level which is determined as such. Each level in a martial adept class adds +1 to a character's initiator level, each level in a non-martial adept class that has a full BaB counts a 1/2 while ever level in a class that does not have a full base attack only counts as 1/4. Initiator level is always rounded down.

At 5th level a character gains the ability to walk or run across surfaces that wouldn’t otherwise allow such passage (such as water, quicksand, rough terrain, floors on the verge of collapse, etc.). The character must begin and end their movement on a surface capable of supporting their weight (and making any balance checks that might be required for narrow surfaces) but may otherwise treat such surfaces as normal terrain. If the character does not end their movement on a surface capable of sustaining their weight then they are treated as if they had just stepped unto it at the end of their turn. A character crossing water will fall into it and need to begin swimming, for example. Not, this movement does not protect the character (in any way) from any hazards the surface might have. Crossing lava, for example, would deal damage to the character as if they’d been splashed with it for every five feet that they cross, making it a very dangerous prospect.

At 10th level, the character’s ability to go where no one else can reaches a new height. As long as the character begins and ends their movement on a surface capable of sustaining their weight (and again, making any balance checks that might be required), the character is treated as having a fly speed equal to their land speed with good maneuverability. If the character does not end their movement on a surface that can support their weight, then they immediately begin to fall once their movement has ended unless there is something the character can grab a hold of. If the character makes an attack in the middle of this movement then all of their forward momentum is halted and any remaining movement (if the character can move after attacking, such as by using the Spring Attack feat) must be used to go in the opposite direction.

At 15th level, a character is able to balance on things that no other person ever could. The tips of spears, blades of grass, narrow branches, almost anything can be used to support the character’s weight as long as they make a Balance check (DC 25). If they fail this check then the surface is treated as being unable to support the character, as normal, and the character will begin falling. Additionally, if the character makes an unarmed melee attack against an opponent and hits in mid-flight (or makes an unarmed melee attack as their last attack if they get multiple attacks while moving), then the character is treated as having a surface that can support their weight and doesn’t begin to fall at the end of their turn. On their next turn the character can make another leap, at half speed, by pushing off of the opponent. If the character makes another unarmed melee attack as their last attack, then they are capable of jumping again on their next turn, the penalty to their speed remains at half of their total speed.

Improved Flight (Feat)
Requires: 10th level, ability to fly
Benefit: The character treats their maneuverability while flying as one step better (from good to perfect if using the flying rules above) and may make a standing Jump check before moving. However far they would have been capable of jumping is added to their fly speed for the round, enabling a character to potentially go much further then normal. Abilities that allow a character to treat a standing jump as a running jump of any kind act as normal.
EDIT: Note that for purposes of THIS thread "initiator level" should be replaced with "ECL" for PCs and "hitdice" (or perhaps "CR"?) for NPCs, and that this should be applied to all humanoids and monsterous humanoids that can't already fly to keep things balanced.