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Cheiromancer
2013-06-16, 10:34 PM
Recently I came across jiriku's 'Philosopher's Stone' (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=210623), a brilliant one-page fix that helps rein in the most powerful spellcasting classes. It seems to me, however, that it might nerf spellcasting too much. Further investigation turned up NeoSeraphi's 'Tier 1 and 2 Magic-User Fix Discussion Thread' (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=209397), which, as far as I can tell, is the inspiration for jiriku's work. In trying to understand (and tinker with) jiriku's fix, I found myself considering the following questions:


Do tier 1 and 2 spellcasters get too many spells per day?
Are multiple spells per round a problem? (Action abuse)
Is metamagic abuse a problem?
Are spell ranges, durations and areas too large?
And For each 'yes' to these questions, what can be done?

It seems to me that these problems are interconnected, and so are the solutions. For example, you can reduce the bonus spells from high abilities to reduce the supply of spells. Alternatively, if durations of buffs are too short to last for multiple encounters, more of them have to be cast, which increases the demand for spells.Either approach addresses the surplus, and so if you implement both changes it is much less likely that top-tier spellcasters will have too many spells.

Anyway, jiriku suggests eliminating bonus spells from high abilities altogether. Is that too much, or would it be enough to tie them to another ability score? (In NeoSeraphi's thread it was suggested that Wisdom give bonus spells for Int-casters, Charisma for Wis-casters, and Constitution for Cha-casters). Classes with MAD are usually lower tier, so this sounds like a promising tweak for the upper tier casters.

(I am going to start calling them 'primary casters', just for the sake of brevity.)

jiriku also proposes that creatures can cast only one spell per round. For a primary caster that sounds like a good rule, although multiclass casters should be able to cast a quickened spell from one class and a standard spell from another. Also, lower tier casters shouldn't get any special limitations. Gishes, especially, do not need to be nerfed.

I don't agree with jiriku's diagnosis of the problem with metamagic. The problem is not so much getting multiple cost reducers, but the way the arithmetic works. For instance, suppose you use arcane thesis to reduce the cost of metamagic.


Before Arcane Thesis

Repeat : +3
Cooperative : +0
Invisible : +0

After Arcane Thesis

Repeat : +2
Cooperative : -1
Invisible : -1

Totals out to +0.

See those -1's? Those should be zeroes! If a cost reducer can't reduce a level adjustment below +0, it shouldn't be able to do it at any time along the way. Or so it seems to me. So I would rework the rules for applying cost reducers. Probably for everyone, not just primary casters.

jiriku also points out that spellcasters can attack their enemies from an awfully long way away. Up to 1200 feet away, for a long range spell at 20th level. The suggestion is that the range be reduced enough for an opponent to have a chance to retaliate against the caster. 30 to 50 feet for short range, and a few hundred feet at most for long.

A reduction in the area of spells would be a way of reining in the ability of a caster to control a battlefield. This is really another way a caster has of dominating the action economy; with one black tentacles spell a caster can take away actions from a number of opponents. Reduce the area and you reduce the dominance. I am afraid that efforts to do this will further weaken the evoker. Blasting things is generally not an upper-tier behavior, not like battlefield and action control is.

Finally, a caster can cast spells whose durations are just too long. I am not sure of this one; all-day buffs are very nice, and help a little to prevent the 15 minute adventuring day. Still, it might be necessary to cut back here, too.

So I guess the question is- are the problems I ask about genuine? And if so, what is the least drastic way of dealing with them? I don't want to cripple valid ways of playing a primary caster, nor do I want to do more harm than good with a fix that goes overboard.

There are a few other issues that jiriku addresses that I haven't mentioned. Some spells ignore SR that really shouldn't, for example, and also tertiary casters like rangers and paladins could benefit from extra spells per day. Maybe I am underestimating the importance of these issues.

Also, it may be that I have overlooked more recent and better treatments of these problems. It is hard for me to believe that anything could be much better than the rules in the Philosopher's Stone (I am especially impressed that they all fit on one page), but I am prepared to be surprised. :smallsmile:

Thoughts? Comments?

p.s. Be careful not to perform thread necromancy on the threads linked to at the beginning of this post. They are both well over 6 weeks without a new post!

edit: If I am 100% right in all my observations (not too likely! :smalltongue:) then I would propose a fix like the following. See next post.

Cheiromancer
2013-06-16, 10:39 PM
I think my original ideas are fatally flawed. They are now in a spoiler block. I do think that a toolbox of methods to limit primary casters would be helpful. (Primary casters being those with unlimited access to a broad spell list that includes 9th level spells. Not limited spell lists like warmages or dread necromancers.)

One way would be to vary ability point buy per tier; tier 1 gets 20 points, tier 2 gets 24 points, and so on, with 4 more points for each step down the ranks. However it is hard to work out how multiclassing should work, or how to adjust the system if you use some kind of organic method rather than point buy. One possibility would be:

Abilities and Casters (p7): Constitution governs bonus spells for primary casters. A non-ability grants no bonus spells. Casters have access to ancient knowledge as an Alternate Class Feature.


Ancient knowledge: You may change the governing ability for bonus spells to either Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma by taking a -2 to that ability.

Rationale: High level spells allow primary casters to dominate the game. Fewer high level spells makes this less likely to happen by accident. Low level casters with decent Constitution scores will notice no difference, but higher level casters will have to boost two ability scores to maintain both spell DCís and bonus spells. NPCís can be assumed to possess ancient knowledge and can be used out of the book (i.e., assume their original governing abilities were 2 points higher).

To make casters even more dependent on multiple ability scores: A character must have a Dexterity of 10 + spell level to cast a spell with somatic components. Low Dexterity casters have access to the clumsy caster ACF.


Clumsy caster: You may ignore the Dexterity requirement to cast spells with a somatic component. You take a -2 penalty to your Constitution score. If you lack a Constitution score you instead take a penalty of -2 to either Wisdom, Intelligence or Charisma.

Rationale: A primary caster either depends on multiple attributes or else takes penalties to important ability scores. Again, NPCís do not need to be adjusted. If they do not have a high enough Dexterity score, they can be presumed to have taken the clumsy caster ACF.

If a character wants to be a PHB wizard, they could take both ACF's, resulting in a -2 to Int and Con. That effectively that lowers their point-buy by a significant amount. But if they are just dipping a level or two of wizard, they might not take either ACF. And really, a fighter with a level of wizard shouldn't have to pay 16 points to do so. This system is also usable in non-point-buy games.

The rules for metamagic reducers should also be tweaked so that adding complexity to a spell does not make it easier to cast. It is hard to get the wording right, however.

Lowering spell ranges is also a good idea, but making them a fixed range makes them persistable; not a good idea. It might be a good idea to say that medium range is 50 ft. + 5 ft./level and long range is 100 ft. + 10 ft./level. That way flying wizards can't lob long distance spells with complete impunity.

Ultimately, though, I think it comes down to spell lists. If you give a wizard terrible spells, he'll be little better than a commoner. Duskblade style lists of about 20 spells per level would, if carefully chosen, put a wizard at whatever tier the DM wishes. The list might well have overpowered spells on it (e.g. alter self) but not too many.


PANACEA: A FIX TO TIER 1 AND 2 CASTERS
Apply these adjustments to your Player's Handbook.

CHAPTER 1: ABILITIES
Some rules affect the spells of primary casters. Members of primary caster classes have unlimited access to a broad spell list that includes 9th level spells.
Abilities and Casters (p7): High ability scores grant bonus spells to primary casters as follows. If a spell requires a certain Intelligence or Charisma score to cast, bonus spells are granted by Wisdom. If a spell requires a certain Wisdom score to cast, bonus spells are granted by Charisma.

CHAPTER 5: FEATS
Metamagic feats (p88): Effects that reduce the spell level increase of a metamagic feat apply to each feat separately, subject to a minimum value given in the description of the cost reducer. The modified costs are then added together to determine the final spell level increase. No matter the cost reducer, applying +0 metamagic feats to a spell can never reduce the adjusted level.

CHAPTER 10: MAGIC
Choosing a Spell (p170): A character can only cast one spell from a given primary class per turn, even if he or she would otherwise have enough actions available to cast more. Casting a spell as an immediate action counts as a use of a spell for the next turn.
Range (p174): Primary casters replace the following entries with the text below.
Close: The spell reaches as far as 30 feet away from you.
Medium: The spell reaches as far as 90 feet away from you.
Long: The spell reaches as far as 180 feet away from you.
Aiming a Spell (p175): When figuring the area or targets affected by a spell with a duration other than instantaneous, a primary caster applies the following changes.
Target or Targets: Some spells that affect multiple targets, no two of which can be more than a set distance from one another. If this set distance is 30 feet or more, the set distance is halved.
Area: All bursts, cylinders, emanations, spheres, and spreads with a radius of 20 feet or more have their radius halved. All cones, cylinders, and lines with a length or height of 20 feet or more have their length or height halved. All shapeable spells, or spells that affect a number of squares or cubes, provide half as much shapeable area or affect half as many squares or cubes.
Duration (p176): A primary caster applies the following changes when figuring the duration of a spell effect.
Timed Durations: Durations of 1 minute/level now last 10 minutes. Durations of 10 minutes/level now last one hour. Durations of 1 hour/level now last 9 hours. Durations of 1 day/level now last 7 days. Durations expressed in rounds are unchanged. Adjust other durations accordingly. For example, 1d4 days plus 1 day/level is 8-11 days (7+1d4).
Spell Resistance (p177): Energy damage is not affected by spell resistance.

Edit:Simplified the rule for duration. If range is static, why not most durations? And why only a lower cap on personal spells and conjurations? Changed rules for bonus spells - Undead sorcerers have no Con. Included recommended rule about energy damage; blaster spellcasters do not need nerfing. Tweaked wording, adjusted distance a little.

Cheiromancer
2013-06-16, 10:41 PM
Reserved in case I need to post a FAQ or design notes close to the original post.

I am allowing big instantaneous effects because I don't want to further nerf evokers with my fix. The rule about spell resistance not applying to energy damage is from Unearthed Arcana.

This resolves the discrepancy wherein a fireball is subject to spell resistance, but not an orb of fire. The alternative is to not allow the orb spells to ignore spell resistance, but I think there should be a way to blast golems and such directly.

The simplification of the duration rules benefits low level casters. But a little extra duration is harmless at these levels.

Note that there is an unexpected consequence of making ranges fixed: all sorts of spells become eligible for Persistent Spell. I think this feat should likely be banned for Tier 1 casters, just as Natural Spell should be banned for druids.

Rolep
2013-06-17, 12:23 AM
Effects that reduce the spell level increase of a metamagic feat cannot reduce the spell level adjustment of that feat below +0.
I may be wrong (please tell me if I am) but I thought that this was already the rule. At least, I've always read it this way.

Otherwise, a first glance at the fix makes it seem quite good. Haven't looked at it in depth yet.

Cheiromancer
2013-06-17, 08:12 AM
Effects that reduce the spell level increase of a metamagic feat cannot reduce the spell level adjustment of that feat below +0. I may be wrong (please tell me if I am) but I thought that this was already the rule. At least, I've always read it this way.

Otherwise, a first glance at the fix makes it seem quite good. Haven't looked at it in depth yet.

The existing rule is worded almost exactly the same, but it turns out that the order of operations is important. By RAW the "minimum +0" is the last operation, after each feat's level adjustment has been added up. Those level adjustments might be negative, depending on what cost reducers have been used. My proposal is to move the "minimum +0" to earlier in the calculation, so that the +0 feats (like cooperative, invisible and sanctum) don't end up functioning like -1's.

My goal is not to bring the tier 1's down to tier 3. Just to put a brake on them. The most important features are: fewer bonus spells, limits on metamagic reducers, one spell/round, shortened range and reduced areas. A primary caster has great power and flexibility, but in exchange they suffer certain limitations.

I am not sure about the reduced durations. The 1 day/level spells are capped at 7 days by analogy with the druid's shambler. The 1 hour/level spells I thought should last long enough for you to get a night's sleep and recover spells the next morning. The others are round numbers. The number caps look kind of irregular, but after 10th level they are all easily remembered units: 1 turn, 1 hour, overnight (or 'work day'), a week.

Shorter spells generally mean that more need to be cast, especially since the wizard (or other primary caster) is closer to melee and has less effective battlefield control, and so has a greater need to buff. With fewer bonus spells the caster might actually run out. This might contribute to the "15 minute adventuring day" but that would be true of almost any fix. I am just not sure that it solves any of the problems. A caster might ask: so what if shapechange only lasts an hour? I still get to be a gold dragon! Still, cutting the duration by almost 2/3 can't hurt.

erikun
2013-06-17, 11:19 AM
Abilities and Casters (p7): High ability scores grant bonus spells to primary casters as follows. If a spell requires a certain Intelligence score to cast, bonus spells are granted by Wisdom. If a spell requires a certain Wisdom score to cast, bonus spells are granted by Charisma. If a spell requires a certain Charisma to cast, bonus spells are granted by Constitution.
If we're talking optimized characters, this isn't going to have much of a result - because optimized characters can simply choose Save: No spells and just focus on the bonus spells stat. This gets especially true for Charisma-based casters, who can now spend a lot of their focus on Constitution.

On the other hand, this does effect casual players quite a bit more. The person who is going to pick Fireball and Melf's Acid Arrow over Web and Fly are going so end up even worse spellcasters, because they now must split their focus between two abilities, and they generally weren't the problem in the first place.


Choosing a Spell (p170): A primary caster can only cast one spell per turn, even if he or she would otherwise have enough actions available to cast more. Casting a spell as an immediate action counts as a use of a spell for a primary casterís next turn.
Is this a problem? I mean, is using a 6th level spell slot for a quickened Magic Missile really a concern? I can't help but thing there are immediate-actual spells and powers that are intented to be used in this method, although none come to mind. Otherwise, if you've prevented the metamagic reducers from producing silly results, how many times does casting a second spell in a round cause a problem?

Cheiromancer
2013-06-17, 12:41 PM
If we're talking optimized characters, this isn't going to have much of a result - because optimized characters can simply choose Save: No spells and just focus on the bonus spells stat. This gets especially true for Charisma-based casters, who can now spend a lot of their focus on Constitution.

Charisma-based casters are generally like sorcerers: tier 2 rather than tier 1. It is fine if they are affected less.

edit: on further consideration, I think you are right. Also, undead spellcasters would probably use Charisma in place of Constitution. That would be a problem.


On the other hand, this does effect casual players quite a bit more. The person who is going to pick Fireball and Melf's Acid Arrow over Web and Fly are going so end up even worse spellcasters, because they now must split their focus between two abilities, and they generally weren't the problem in the first place.

There is a good deal of concern about Save-or-Die, Save-or-Suck and Save-or-Lose spells. Anything that forces a trade-off between bonus spells and high DC's is probably a good thing.

With regard to the low-op casters: it shouldn't be a problem. The DM won't be throwing encounters at them at CR+4 or using as many monsters with high save bonuses. If the save DC's are reasonable that is just all for the best.


Is this a problem? I mean, is using a 6th level spell slot for a quickened Magic Missile really a concern? I can't help but thing there are immediate-actual spells and powers that are intented to be used in this method, although none come to mind. Otherwise, if you've prevented the metamagic reducers from producing silly results, how many times does casting a second spell in a round cause a problem?

If tier 1 classes are not a problem in a campaign, a DM does not need to introduce a fix. But if tier 1 classes are a problem, their getting too many actions to cast spells is probably a part of it. I think that the issues raised in the other thread are valid; I just think that jiriku's fix might be overkill. My proposal is just to try to address the same issues, but in a gentler way.

But as to your question, celerity is the main spell I can think of that is intended to be used the same round as another spell. Also time stop. I think the main question is; if multiple spells per round is a problem, does my gentler version of the fix go far enough? jiriku's proposal banned metamagic reducers from stacking, which I would allow. This would allow quicken spell to be mitigated considerably - there is also repeat spell, which effectively gives an extra spell on the next round. I also allow spells from scrolls, wands etc. to be in addition to a spell cast in a round, as well as spells from other classes. These loop-holes allow most current tricks to continue; they just involve the cost of using a scroll, wand or whatever.

The loop-holes also allow time stop to remain usable. The restriction is 1 spell/round, not 1 spell/apparent round. A time stopped wizard will have to have scrolls and such or else twiddle his thumbs. But 1 spell/round does weaken one of the chief benefits of shapechange, namely the double-actions of a choker. Although scrolls are useful here, too.

I believe that most of the same tricks can be performed by a tier 1 spellcaster post fix as pre-fix, they are just more costly. There are other ways of increasing the cost. For example, I believe jiriku suggests that the 1500 gp arcane focus for shapechange be a material component instead. 1500 gp is not much for a 20th level caster, but the costs do add up.

I don't want to fix all the broken spells, though. I want a handful of global rule changes that lets tier 1 and tier 2 casters to stay where they are, but less obviously outshine lower tier classes.

edit (June 30): Further reflection makes me think that various fixes cost too much (in complexity and difficulty updating existing PC's and NPC's) for their benefit. These include tying spellcasting to two ability scores rather than one, setting durations and ranges to fixed values, and halving the area of many spells. There were also unintended consequences; fixing ranges, for instance made everything subject to persistent spell.

The following version reverts to jiriku's rule that high ability scores do not give bonus spells. However the limitation is for the top tier casters - what I call 'primary casters'. Fewer spells per day means that it is less likely that a top tier caster will overshadow all other characters. The other features are unchanged: Metamagic abuse (especially of Arcane Thesis) is still reined in by clarifying how the arithmetic of metamagic reducers works, and the ability to spam spells is restrained, though not eliminated, by limiting spells per round. The restriction is less binding than in jiriku's version; scrolls and multi-classing are ways around it. I have reduced ranges, but less drastically than jiriku; primary casters are closer to danger than in the standard rules, but not drastically so. Finally, the change allowing energy damage to ignore SR is to make the archetype of a blaster mage more viable. It also means that the orb spells are less of a rules anomaly.


PANACEA: A FIX TO TIER 1 AND 2 CASTERS
Apply these adjustments to your Player's Handbook.

CHAPTER 1: ABILITIES
Some rules affect the spells of primary casters. Members of primary caster classes have unlimited access to a spell list that includes 9th level spells.
Abilities and Casters (p7): A high ability score does not grant bonus spells to primary casters.

CHAPTER 5: FEATS
Metamagic feats (p88): Effects that reduce the spell level increase of a metamagic feat apply to each feat separately, subject to a minimum value given in the description of the cost reducer. The modified costs are then added together to determine the final spell level increase.

CHAPTER 10: MAGIC
Choosing a Spell (p170): A character can only cast one spell from a given primary class per turn, even if he or she would otherwise have enough actions available to cast more. Casting a spell as an immediate action counts as a use of a spell for the next turn. This rule applies only to spells cast as class abilities, and does not apply to magic items, spell like abilities or supernatural abilities.
Range (p174): Primary casters replace the following entries with the text below.
Medium: 50 ft. + 5 ft./level
Long: 100 ft. + 10 ft./level
Spell Resistance (p177): Energy damage is not affected by spell resistance.