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View Full Version : Skill Based Magic System: Now Finished!



dead_but_dreaming
2007-01-23, 12:13 PM
I started a thread about this before christmas and promised that I would post my work when it was finished. That thread have long been beyond all but the most powerful moderator-magic, and I actually decided not to use the system for the time being (instead I'm going to focus on creating a new system alltogether), but I still thought that I would post it for criticism. It is nearly finished, except for some campaign-specific stuff and can be found in PDF-form here (http://home.student.uu.se/mask7011/SBMSystem.pdf) and in my sig. I put a lot of work into it, so please do not disregard it. :smallsmile:

dead_but_dreaming
2007-01-23, 01:16 PM
*discrete bump*

mooseofshadows
2007-01-23, 04:32 PM
Wow... I cannot say anything other than the fact that this is entirely delicious and everything I ever wanted. I was thinking about something these lines, but I never would have been able to flesh it out to the extent that you have. I cannot thank you enough for doing this. I'll probably be implementing this in my next game.

Matthew
2007-01-23, 05:09 PM
This should probably go into the Homebrew Forum.

I am glad to see that thread finally bore fruit, but why the desire to design a new magic system?

TimeWizard
2007-01-23, 05:30 PM
I can tell you put a good deal of work in this Dead, excellent job. The skill check DC's seems geared to give you a small but noticable chance to fail, but what of a mid level character buying a skill ring +20?

Maclav
2007-01-23, 08:03 PM
Hows about a section to update the base spellcasters in core? You have an example PrC, but how would you change wiz, sorc, cleric, druid and bard over to this system?

Mewtarthio
2007-01-23, 08:30 PM
Hows about a section to update the base spellcasters in core? You have an example PrC, but how would you change wiz, sorc, cleric, druid and bard over to this system?

It appears to me (though I may be mistaken) that traditional casting classes no longer exist, and all magic is limited to those who take the Mana feats. It may be that all magic skills are cross-class before you take the Mage PrC, or maybe there's an Apprentice-esque base class.


I can tell you put a good deal of work in this Dead, excellent job. The skill check DC's seems geared to give you a small but noticable chance to fail, but what of a mid level character buying a skill ring +20?

The Magic skill states that it can't be enhanced through any means short of actually buying ranks in the skill (and a high Int, I presume).

mooseofshadows
2007-01-23, 08:49 PM
I wonder if there's a more direct way to do it though... I always thought about just making the schools of magic into skills. Divination would probably be underpowered, and universal couldn't really exist, but other than that I think it would work.

Zeb The Troll
2007-01-24, 04:50 AM
I just had a few quick questions after reading this...

1.) For Caster Level modification, is that a flat Mana cost to increase to that caster level or is it the difference? For example, if I'm a 5th level caster and I want to cast my Fireball as a 6th level caster (to get that extra d6 of damage) would I pay 21 mana or 6? Likewise, if I think 3d6 of fire damage is enough, can I downgrade to a 3rd level caster (for purposes of determining the number of damage dice only, of course) and save 9 mana? Or are all spells cast as 0-level unless the Caster Level cost is paid?

2.) You mention that Armor Check penalties apply when trying to cast a spell, but does %Spell Failure? Or is it your intention that arcane spellcasters not be excluded from wearing armor/armor wearers not be excluded from casting as is currently the norm? (i.e. a Fighter in full plate could, theoretically, burn a couple of feats and some skill points and be able to reliably cast Magic Missile or would he always have that % chance to fail regardless of how much skill he has?)

3.) Can Ritual spells be cooperatively cast? I understand that if the ritual requires a certain number of casters that those casters cannot "aid" in the casting, but is there a benefit to having a number of casters beyond the required minimum (other than the larger Mana pool)?

4.) Can Mana storage items be recharged by the owner?

5.) How does one regain their mana points?

Zeb The Troll
2007-01-24, 05:52 AM
Hmmmm...

I've worked through this as well as I can and if I'm getting this right, an 18th level character with max ranks in Magic Training for the appropriate school and a 22 Intelligence has a 45% chance of failing to cast a 9th level spell. (21 ranks + 6 Int Mod vs a DC 37 for the spell)

Have I got this right or did I booger something up here?

On the flip side, I suppose this character could just pay the extra 9 mana points to reduce the casting DC to 28 (he's spending 171 already, what's 9 more?) and automatically succeed.

Last_resort_33
2007-01-24, 06:30 AM
No, I think that he would have to spend an extra 45 mana points to get it down to an automatic success (total: 216)... which sounds about right. Remember this may also be modified by casting aids... including, I suppose, Headbands of Intellect and the like.

I'm not sure... that would make sense though... I REALLY like what you have done... the writing needs clarifying a bit but it a really good idea and a really good system... the magic system is the only thing that really bugged me about the D&D rules right through each edition...

dead_but_dreaming
2007-01-24, 09:54 AM
Thanks a lot for the input everybody! Before I begin claryfying, I would like to say that I have yet to playtest this system and, since I'm hardly perfect, I might actually have missed some obvious issues. Also, please excuse my slightly faulty english.

mooseofshadows: Thanks a lot! If you do try it out, please let me know how it worked for you! And I'm sure there are simpler ways of doing this, but this is what I set out to do and frankly speaking I'm quite pleased with my work :smallbiggrin:

TimeWizard and Maclav: Whatever Mewtarthio said. :smallsmile: This is intended for low magic, and I believe it's highly mood-enhancing if magic really is something one has to aspire to.

Matthew: I stated my reasons on the old thread, but basically my biggest issue with the standard is that magic usually cannot fail and failing magic can be a major plot hook, among many other things.

Zeb and Last_resort_33: Your questions and remarks will be answered in a separate post in a minute. :smallsmile:

Matthew
2007-01-24, 10:11 AM
I know that, but you said in your first post on this thread that you were going to focus on yet another system?

dead_but_dreaming
2007-01-24, 10:19 AM
Ok Zeb and Last, here goes! As I said, I've never really tested the rules properly so if you think that the way I intend them to function may be useless or broken once you analyze them in-depth, please let me know!


1.) For Caster Level modification, is that a flat Mana cost to increase to that caster level or is it the difference? For example, if I'm a 5th level caster and I want to cast my Fireball as a 6th level caster (to get that extra d6 of damage) would I pay 21 mana or 6? Likewise, if I think 3d6 of fire damage is enough, can I downgrade to a 3rd level caster (for purposes of determining the number of damage dice only, of course) and save 9 mana? Or are all spells cast as 0-level unless the Caster Level cost is paid?

This should really be clairified... But yes, it's the difference. That means, you may cast the spell as a spell with a higher caster level and pay the appropriate cost.


2.) You mention that Armor Check penalties apply when trying to cast a spell, but does %Spell Failure? Or is it your intention that arcane spellcasters not be excluded from wearing armor/armor wearers not be excluded from casting as is currently the norm? (i.e. a Fighter in full plate could, theoretically, burn a couple of feats and some skill points and be able to reliably cast Magic Missile or would he always have that % chance to fail regardless of how much skill he has?)

Casters may wear armor freely, it only iduces armor check penalties. This system nerfs casters enough as it is, and besides I've never been happy with %Spell Failure... IMO it's just a way to treat casting as a pseudo-skill which always succeeds unless you wear armor. The actual spells that a caster using a given school can cast depends on the DM and how he or she categorizes magic. (See the "Magic in Miragiil"-section)


3.) Can Ritual spells be cooperatively cast? I understand that if the ritual requires a certain number of casters that those casters cannot "aid" in the casting, but is there a benefit to having a number of casters beyond the required minimum (other than the larger Mana pool)?

Yes, secondary casters can aid another in each, separate step of the ritual, but the "official" casters may not aid each other, if you see what I'm saying.


4.) Can Mana storage items be recharged by the owner?

Um, not as I intended it, no. I guess you can recharge it in the same way one can improve magical weapons and such.


5.) How does one regain their mana points?

The usual way. :smallsmile: 8 hours of rest and there you go.


Hmmmm...

I've worked through this as well as I can and if I'm getting this right, an 18th level character with max ranks in Magic Training for the appropriate school and a 22 Intelligence has a 45% chance of failing to cast a 9th level spell. (21 ranks + 6 Int Mod vs a DC 37 for the spell)

Have I got this right or did I booger something up here?

On the flip side, I suppose this character could just pay the extra 9 mana points to reduce the casting DC to 28 (he's spending 171 already, what's 9 more?) and automatically succeed.

Since it's low magic, I think high level spells should be difficult to cast. So yes, you are correct. And yes, spending 9 additional points is all you have to do to achieve complete success. The balancing factors here are:

You may get fatigued if you expend to much power, and
You may get hit during the casting which would increases the DC dramatically.


So, that's basically it. Once again, please remember that this system lacks playtesting and thus may need tweaking.

dead_but_dreaming
2007-01-24, 10:21 AM
Matthew: Oh, I meant a complete system of rules. I guess it's the little game-designer in me longing to get out. :smallsmile: The more I think about it, the less happy I am with D&D's level based system. I could just buy GURPS I guess, but I want to make something like that all by myself.

Zeb The Troll
2007-01-24, 10:28 AM
No, I think that he would have to spend an extra 45 mana points to get it down to an automatic success (total: 216)... which sounds about right.
Okay, I'll admit that I'm not looking at the document right this second, but where did you come up with 45 points to bring the casting DC down by 9? Doesn't it say that you can adjust the casting DC down by one point at a cost of 1 mana?

Oh! That reminds me of another observation. Since you can reduce the mana cost of a spell by raising its casting DC you'll probably want to specify that there is a lower limit. Otherwise you'll have high level Mages casting low level spells for free. Unless that's what you intended, of course.

dead_but_dreaming
2007-01-24, 10:32 AM
Zeb: Yes, I actually wanted high level mages to be able to cast cantrips for free. :smallsmile: Stuff like detect magic should be completely effortless for really experienced casters. I leave deciding upon minimum caps to individual DMs.

Zeb The Troll
2007-01-24, 10:38 AM
Zeb: Yes, I actually wanted high level mages to be able to cast cantrips for free. :smallsmile: Stuff like detect magic should be completely effortless for really experienced casters. I leave deciding upon minimum caps to individual DMs.Okay, that's cool. I was thinking more along the lines of very high level casters (like the one in my example) who would be also able to cast 1st and 2nd level spells for no cost with little, if any, chance of failure. That is, unless Last Resort is right and I'm misunderstanding the mechanic for manipulating the cost/DC of the spells. Of course I can see that still fitting into your thought process though. By the time they're weaving that kind of magic, a Magic Missile should be pretty effortless too.

dead_but_dreaming
2007-01-24, 10:41 AM
Okay, that's cool. I was thinking more along the lines of very high level casters (like the one in my example) who would be also able to cast 1st and 2nd level spells for no cost with little, if any, chance of failure. That is, unless Last Resort is right and I'm misunderstanding the mechanic for manipulating the cost/DC of the spells.
Yes, as the rules go that is possible. That's why individual DMs can apply minimum caps if they use standard d20-spell lists. At high levels an infinity of magic missiles may not necessarily be devastating since you've got so powerful magic anyway, but still: it may not fit everyone.

Umbral_Arcanist
2007-01-24, 07:11 PM
I've skimmed it breifly and like what i've seen and i may utilise it in a low-magic setting i'm possibly designing soon

Erk
2007-01-25, 12:20 AM
Hi! Looks like a great system so far. I have some suggestions balance-wise, some of which may be matters of taste.

1) Mana is presently con-based. However, the physical stats get a lot of lovin' as it is, and I don't see mental energy being all that related to one's physical frame. Why not choose a mental attribute? isdom or Charisma seems like the logical choice... I personally like Charisma, representing the character's strength of personality/soul (and also because Charisma is kind of the redheaded stepchild of the ability scores). Or perhaps the player could select one of the two when taking his/her first Mana feat. Obviously (as with anything) this could be house-rules, but just my 0.02


1a) it also seems like your mana progression is heavily feat-based rather than attribute-based. Say that one caster has maxed out his Mana feats but has a relevant attribute of 11: he will have 784 MP. However, an otherwise identical caster who had expended more time and energy into increasing the relevant attribute to 24 (wishing, magic items, expending stat points etc) only has 882, a 98 point difference, or about a 12% increase. That is not a very significant gap, given that the latter example has double the score in the relevant attribute. Even at lower levels the gap is not very wide, ranging from a little over 100% (but trivial, 7 mp) at the first mana feat, to 35% at the 5th mana feat, and dropping off sharply.
I can see the reasoning in making it feat- and therefore level-based, but surely the ability score should have a bit more weight. At the moment I have class coming up and can't do the calculations to suggest an alternate formula, though.
--point... it might be appropriate to make it based on the levels in the casting skill as well as the number of feats and ability score points. Just a thought that occured to me while posting this, not sure how the balance would play out yet.

2) Again this is the prerogative of house-rules, but I suggest making the minimum mana for each spell equal to its base caster level. It is a convenient scalar that still goes very low, so that high-level casters can cast baby-level spells with impunity. Of course, one could work out a more complex system.

Zeb The Troll
2007-01-25, 03:06 AM
Hi! Looks like a great system so far. I have some suggestions balance-wise, some of which may be matters of taste.

1) Mana is presently con-based. However, the physical stats get a lot of lovin' as it is, and I don't see mental energy being all that related to one's physical frame. Why not choose a mental attribute? Wisdom or Charisma seems like the logical choice... I personally like Charisma, representing the character's strength of personality/soul (and also because Charisma is kind of the redheaded stepchild of the ability scores). Or perhaps the player could select one of the two when taking his/her first Mana feat. Obviously (as with anything) this could be house-rules, but just my 0.02


1a) it also seems like your mana progression is heavily feat-based rather than attribute-based. Say that one caster has maxed out his Mana feats but has a relevant attribute of 11: he will have 784 MP. However, an otherwise identical caster who had expended more time and energy into increasing the relevant attribute to 24 (wishing, magic items, expending stat points etc) only has 882, a 98 point difference, or about a 12% increase. That is not a very significant gap, given that the latter example has double the score in the relevant attribute. Even at lower levels the gap is not very wide, ranging from a little over 100% (but trivial, 7 mp) at the first mana feat, to 35% at the 5th mana feat, and dropping off sharply.
I can see the reasoning in making it feat- and therefore level-based, but surely the ability score should have a bit more weight. At the moment I have class coming up and can't do the calculations to suggest an alternate formula, though.
--point... it might be appropriate to make it based on the levels in the casting skill as well as the number of feats and ability score points. Just a thought that occured to me while posting this, not sure how the balance would play out yet.

2) Again this is the prerogative of house-rules, but I suggest making the minimum mana for each spell equal to its base caster level. It is a convenient scalar that still goes very low, so that high-level casters can cast baby-level spells with impunity. Of course, one could work out a more complex system.1a) The advantage of NOT weighing CON more heavily is that making it be a larger factor introduces multiple attribute dependency. As it's written, a caster with a 24 CON doesn't have a significant advantage over one with a 12 CON, as you pointed out. This means that the player doesn't have to worry about splitting up his stat points and can focus on increasing his INT in order to more easily make his DC's to cast at all. If you're playing in a campaign using a point buy system, this is very important.

2) Whew! I read that wrong the first time through. I thought you'd said to make the BASE mana cost equal to the base caster level. I can see your point, though. With 784 mana points, are you really concerned about spending 4 points on a 2nd level spell? I'm thinking probably not.

dead_but_dreaming
2007-01-25, 03:19 AM
1) and 1a): There is actually some weird kind of reasoning behind all this. :smallsmile: Flavourwise, I wanted magic to be physically draining on the caster, because... well, because I thought that would be cool. :smallbiggrin: At the same time, if Con affected your mana point total too much, fighter type characters would probably be much more effective (as in, "capable of generating more output") casters than weaker, more "academic" ones. I see now, however, that this way of thinking may be flawed. Will certainly look into it and perhaps tie mana point progression to the caster skill. (Any thoughts on this everyone?)

2) You're probably right, it is low magic after all.

Tough_Tonka
2007-01-25, 07:54 AM
I wonder how good this system would work with d20 modern?

InaVegt
2007-01-25, 08:58 AM
My idea for giving casters more mana with higher stats would be to change the mana formula to 4 * [number of mana feats] + ([con bonus] + [int bonus] + [wis bonus] + 2 * [cha bonus]) * [number of mana feats]

So a spellcaster with 2 mana feats, 12 con, 14 wis, 15 int and 18 cha would have 4 * 2 + (1 + 2 + 2 + 2 * 4) * 2 = 16 + 22 = 38, instead of the 18 he would have with the original system, however it introduces horrible MAD (requiring 4 stats to gain a high amount of mana). You can also use another stat than charisma for the larger impact on mana.

Edit: this would work decently with D20 modern, make the mana feats require 12 ranks in knowledge (arcane lore) and you've got it decently low magic. Of course you could play D20 past with this system and just use the standard rules for this magic system (maybe add the magical feats to some bonus feat lists) and you've got a decent fantasylike system (With a little bit higher technology than D&D)