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View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other Magic as a cheat [Concept, PEACH]



Jormengand
2014-09-07, 06:04 AM
Magic rules everything. If you want to be a legendary warrior, put away that sword and read a goddamn book, in a few years' time you'll be able to turn into a dragon. I don't like the idea that "If you want to be the best at something, use magic," so I came up with a small rant about it (the bolded part is most relevant):


There are tons of ways that you can justify the mundane equivalents of... honestly, most spell effects, as has already been mentioned in a post about bombs. We just don't, because we have this preconception that magic has to be able to defeat mundane at everything - the idea (can't remember whether it was Tippy or Psyren who said it) that the magical way of doing something wouldn't have been researched if it wasn't strictly better than the mundane way of doing it is clearly absurd: first, perhaps someone would like to explain to me how the Paladin's first-level spell which grants you a single temporary hit point came to be, as the barbarian sees your temporary hit point and raises you a D12 hit die.

The second reason that makes no sense... well, why would you create a new gun if it weren't strictly better than another type of gun? Well, maybe it's better at some things, but worse at others? A missile launcher may be a bigger and flashier weapon than a compact submachinegun, sure, but if you're fighting on a staircase, inside a building, at close range, you're going to want the SMG. There are two ways of doing it, and one is better in some situations, and the other is better in others! It's almost like that was the entire point of D&D 3.5 having different classes in the first place!

The third reason it's utterly messed-up is that even if there is a strictly-better version of something you can produce, chances are, it's harder to get your hands on. Yeah, you could have a railgun, but that would be really expensive and take ages to construct. Why not just invest in a few cruise missiles instead? Similarly, yes, you could become a paragon of physical strength by tirelessly training... but when you can get half as much anyway out of cheating with magic? Suddenly, magic seems a lot easier. That said, railguns do exist, and in D&D, people who actually train physically to do things the old-fashioned way should exist, and they should come out better than the people who temporarily screw about with reality to get the same effect.

That's what I was saying when I was talking about WHFB, and you don't have to know anything about WHFB to understand the main point of what I'm saying. Yes, you can cheat out some decent stats, but even a fourth-level (the highest in WHFB) wizard just isn't going to be anywhere near as good in close combat as a chaos lord (crazy-strong melee guy) unless he's decided to turn into a dragon (and if he does that, he loses his wizard levels, assuming he even succeeds at casting the spell), in which case he may as well just have been a dragon in the first place.

So in Warhammer, yes, spellcasters do some things mundanes can't. But mundanes also do some things spellcasters can't. I mean, go back to D&D and look at the justification for Wiz/Sor having different weapon proficiencies, even. If you're busy learning to tell reality to go away (or control your innate inborn ability to tell reality to go away, same thing), you're not learning how to hit people with sticks, or dodge everything ever, or even heal people. You're learning to cheat at The UniverseTM so that you can fake being able to do those.

So my basic concept is that, yes, spellcasters can and should be able to do the same sort of things as a fighter or barbarian or rogue or whatever, but they're cheats. They're literal lifehacks. And like all lifehacks, they're not as good as actually going and learning the skills you need to do the same thing.

Of course, a lot of the iconic evocations would remain largely intact, and healing is pretty much the casters' thing. Summoning? Sure, so long as your summon isn't going to be beating the fighter in combat any time soon. Calling? Gonna have to limit that to lower-level stuff. Wish? Probably going, but a desperation spell that allows you to pull whatever spell you're after out of a hat at some kind of major cost should be fine.

Another idea I had is that you could, when you had a few spells of the same level, have spell slots which were strapped to each other - say, instead of having 7 first-level spells per day, you could have 1 and 1 and 2 and 3. You can only prepare four different spells, you just get 2 shots of one and 3 of another. This would pretty much encourage the wizard to use spells which he needed to use more than 1/day (such as all his evocations) whereas not preparing so many of the utility spells. Not sure how this would apply to sorcerers, but I'm thinking not at all - sorcerers are meant to be the go-to for on-the-spot versatility, after all.

Essentially, I want my wizard to be the iconic flying, fireball-throwing, creature-summoning bastard he's always been, but when the chips are down and he's got his back to the wall, he casts a spell or two to grab himself medium BAB and a half-decent AC, and then starts fighting semi-competently with a morningstar, as opposed to turning into a dragon and crushing the would-be-hero.

Would anyone like to see this? Yes, it would involve re-writing... well, quite a lot of spells, to be honest. But a fair few of them (read: pretty much the entirety of evocation, abjuration and necromancy, quite a bit of transmutation and a little of conjuration even) can stay where they are: it's really the ones which allow a wizard to lolnope a fighter or rogue in the face which I'm worried about.

Of course, having a fighter that can actually do something useful is a point of order too, but that can be done.

ezkajii
2014-09-08, 12:27 AM
I really like the idea of it, and might consider play with this variant if you fleshed it out. The 1-1-2-3 thing you mentioned seems reasonable enough but you'd want to make sure it was also intuitive, to not discourage people from switching to the new system. I absolutely believe that different classes should be better at different things, and the wizard shouldn't be able to just substitute any class with a spell.
In addition, on the concept of magic as a cheat, specifically, you could perhaps implement some sort of system wherein the nature of the multiverse itself might rebel against magic use in little ways; cantrips might be fine, but abusing 8th- and 9th-level spells would cause some sort of side-effects or automatic retaliation by existence itself. Obviously, this would require quite a bit of cosmology rewrite, and a hefty amount of homebrew most likely, but I think it'd be a great thematic addition.

SamBurke
2014-09-08, 10:54 AM
I really like the idea of it, and might consider play with this variant if you fleshed it out. The 1-1-2-3 thing you mentioned seems reasonable enough but you'd want to make sure it was also intuitive, to not discourage people from switching to the new system. I absolutely believe that different classes should be better at different things, and the wizard shouldn't be able to just substitute any class with a spell.
In addition, on the concept of magic as a cheat, specifically, you could perhaps implement some sort of system wherein the nature of the multiverse itself might rebel against magic use in little ways; cantrips might be fine, but abusing 8th- and 9th-level spells would cause some sort of side-effects or automatic retaliation by existence itself. Obviously, this would require quite a bit of cosmology rewrite, and a hefty amount of homebrew most likely, but I think it'd be a great thematic addition.

Not if you're the DM. As the DM, if you outline exactly what spells will do it (IE, set expectation), then you can just be creative.

Jormengand
2014-09-08, 04:28 PM
Okay, well, let's get our classes out first:


The Spellcaster
LevelBABFortRefWillSpecial 0lvl1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th
1st+0+0+0+263覧覧覧
2nd+1+0+0+364覧覧覧
3rd+1+1+1+3651覧覧
4th+2+1+1+4662覧覧
5th+2+1+1+4663覧覧
6th+3+2+2+56641覧覧
7th+3+2+2+56652覧覧
8th+4+2+2+66663覧覧
9th+4+3+3+666641覧
10th+5+3+3+766652覧
11th+5+3+3+766663覧
12th+6/+1+4+4+8666641覧
13th+6/+1+4+4+8666652覧
14th+7/+2+4+4+9666663覧
15th+7/+2+5+5+96666641
16th+8/+3+5+5+106666652
17th+8/+3+5+5+106666663
18th+9/+4+6+6+1166666641
19th+9/+4+6+6+1166666652
20th+10/+5+6+6+1266666663

Alignment: Any
Hit Die: 1d4

Class Skills:
The class skills of the spellcaster (and the key ability for each skill) are {Concentration (Con)}, Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), [Fly (Dex)] Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (nature) (Int), Knowledge (religion), Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Profession (Wis) and Spellcraft (Int).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) ラ 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier

Class features
All of the following are class features of the spellcaster.

Weapon and armour proficiency
The spellcaster is proficient in all simple weapons. Religious spellcasters are proficient in all types of armour and shields, except tower shields. Natural spellcasters cannot cast spells while wearing metal armour or holding a metal weapon.

Spellcasting
The spellcaster casts spells, but the specifics of which spells the spellcaster casts must be decided at first level.

- The spellcaster may cast arcane spells from the arcane spellcaster spell list, divine spells from the religious spellcaster spell list, or divine spells from the natural spellcaster spell list.
- The spellcaster may choose whether she casts prepared spells like a wizard or cleric, or spontaneous spells like a sorcerer or [oracle]{spontaneous divine variant class}.
- The spellcaster casts spells in a similar way to another class, but uses a different ability modifier. Replace all instances of an ability score in that description with one of the following, depending on which choices he made:

Intelligence: Prepared arcane, Spontaneous natural
Wisdom: Prepared religious, Prepared natural
Charisma: Spontaneous arcane, Spontaneous religious.

Prepared spellcasters prepare their spells in exactly the same way as a cleric, although the details of what they are doing in that time may not be the same - arcane casters may study and natural casters might meditate.

However, the moment a prepared spellcaster is capable of casting more than two spells of the same level (as is immediately the case with both first- and zero-level spells from level one), some of the spell slots are inextricably linked as shown on Table: Combined Spell Slots, which shows the number of single, double, triple and quadruple spell slots that replace the normal spell slots. These linked spell slots can only be used to prepare multiple copies of the same spell. For example, a caster with 6 first-level spells has a 1, a 2, and a 3, meaning he can prepare 6 copies of the same spell, 4 of one and 2 of another, 3 of one and 3 of another, or 1 copy of one spell, 2 copies of another, and 3 of a third.

Spontaneous casters learn and cast spells in exactly the same manner a sorcerer might. They know a number of spells as given on Table: Spellcaster spells Known

Spellcaster spells Known (Spontaneous only)
Level0lvl1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th 1st52覧覧覧 2nd52覧覧覧 3rd631覧覧 4th632覧覧 5th742覧覧 6th7431覧覧 7th8532覧覧 8th8542覧覧 9th95431覧 10th95532覧 11th95542覧 12th955431覧 13th955432覧 14th955442覧 15th9554431 16th9554432 17th9554442 18th95544431 19th95544432 20th95544432

Combined Spell Slots (Prepared only)
Number12341100022000311004210051200611107211081210 91120101111

Okay, now I have to re-juggle a lot of spells. Conjuration is losing a lot of spells to Evocation and Vivimancy, which is replacing Necromancy (Reasoning being that control of life can still make undead and stuff, but it can also steal all of Conjuration's healing spells). Enchantment does not exist, because it consists almost entirely of spells which should be cheats but are I-win buttons instead, unless you're up against one of the five million different things which is immune to it, which isn't very helpful.

Healing is now a Vivimancy subschool, and any of the old undead-creating spells are now Vivimancy [Necromancy], because oxymorons for the win!

Spells with asterisks have been moved between schools (Other than Nec->Viv). {These spells were removed in Pathfinder} [These spells are Pathfinder-only.] This spell's level has been changed.1 This spell's actual text has been changed, and it does something a little different.2

0lvl:

Abj
[Penumbra*]
Resistance
Con
[Drench]
Div
Detect Poison
Detect Magic
Evo
Acid Splash*

Dancing Lights
Flare
Light
Mage Hand*
Message*
Ray of Frost
[Scoop]
[Spark]
Ilu
Ghost Sound
[Haunted Fey Aspect]
Tra
Arcane Mark*
[Jolt]
Mending
Open/Close
[Root]
Viv

Disrupt Undead
Touch of Fatigue
Uni
Read Magic*

[B]1st

Removed
[Adjuring Step] takes away options for preventing your spellcasting.
[Anticipate peril] honestly unnecessarily good for a first-level spell. Everyone takes it.
Again, needs to be a cheat but is too strong for one. Also, elf only? Cheapskates.
Colour Spray This spell should never have come to be.
[Detect Charm] Concerns a school that no longer exists.
[Ear-piercing scream] An OP evocation spell? Paizo go home, you are drunk.
[Peacebond] is a first-level Save-or-Suck
Protection from Alignment is really the cleric's schtick. Arcane casters screwing with alignment seems off.
{Identify} use the PF one.
[Infernal Healing] No. Definitely not.
[Interrogation] No upper limit to damage/questions means you can keep on asking questions the target doesn't know the answer to for CL(WIS+1d4)/2 damage, which is a lot, except at first level when the spell is utterly useless. Also, it will kill most commoners, so it's useless for actually interrogating someone.
[Negative Reaction] Save or you can't use CHA skills. Seems legit.
[See Alignment] Same as PFA.
[Summon Minor Monster] Rolled into SMI. Seems counter-intuitive to make conjurations better, but this one needs it.
[Transmutations from Pathfinder] We don't need that many transmutations, even if Vivimancy did steal half of them.
True strike A good example of a spell which needs to be a cheat, not an I-win button.

Abj
Alarm
Endure Elements
Mage Armour*
Shield
Con
[Abundant Ammunition]
[Air Bubble]
Grease (Bit leery of this one, but I'm not gonna take it out yet).
[Icicle dagger]
[Hydraulic Push*]
Mount
[Mudball]
Summon Monster I (Allowing you to call 1d3 animals off the minor monster list instead if you want)
Div
Comprehend Languages
[Cultural adaptation]
[Detect Metal]
Detect Secret Doors
Detect Undead
[Identify]
Evo
Burning Hands
[Corrosive Touch*]
Feather Fall*
[Flare Burst]
Floating Disk
Magic missile
Shocking Grasp
Unseen Servant*
Ilu
[Dazzling Blade]
Disguise Self (Tempting to remove this one too, but it's just about easy enough to see through).
Magic Aura
Obscuring Mist*
[Shadow Weapon]
Silent Image
Vanish
Ventriloquism
Tra
[Bed of Iron*]
Clarion Call*
[Decompose corpse]
Erase
Hold Portal*
Jump
[Ki Arrow*]
Magic Weapon
[Restore corpse]
[Sculpt corpse]
[Stumble Gap*]
Viv
Animate Rope*
Chill touch
Enlarge Person*
Expeditous Retreat*
Uni


Okay, you can see I've done a lot of bookkeeping with the spells but I've only done the 0 and 1st of one of the lists so far. That should be enough to get the vague point across though. Now...


[b]The Paradigm
LevelBABFortRefWillSpecial
[b]AC/Attack/CMB bonus
Skill Bonus
Damage Bonus
Save/Initiative Bonus
1st+1+2+0+0Fast movement +10ft, Flurry of Blows
1
1
2
1
2nd+2+3+0+0Uncanny Dodge
1
1
4
1
3rd+3+3+1+1Reach +5, Night Vision 10ft
2
1
6
1
4th+4+4+1+1Fast movement +20ft
2
2
8
1
5th+5+4+1+1Mount
3
2
10
2
6th+6/+1+5+2+2Dire Charge
3
2
12
2
7th+7/+2+5+2+2Night Vision 20ft
4
3
14
2
8th+8/+3+6+2+2Fast movement +30ft
4
3
16
2
9th+9/+4+6+3+3Reach +10
5
3
18
3
10th+10/+5+7+3+3Interrupt
5
4
20
3
11th+11/+6/+1+7+3+3Night Vision 30ft
6
4
22
3
12th+12/+7/+2+8+4+4Fast movement +40ft
6
4
24
3
13th+13/+8/+3+8+4+4Infinite Opportunity
7
5
26
4
14th+14/+9/+4+9+4+4Break Anything
7
5
28
4
15th+15/+10/+5+9+5+5Reach +15, Night Vision 40ft
8
5
30
4
16th+16/+11/+6/+1+10+5+5Fast movement +50ft
8
6
32
4
17th+17/+12/+7/+2+10+5+5Sound Shadows
9
6
34
5
18th+18/+13/+8/+3+11+6+6It Will Not Die
9
6
36
5
19th+19/+14/+9/+4+11+6+6Night Vision 50ft
10
7
38
5
20th+20/+15/+10/+5+12+6+6Blinding Speed, Fast movement +60ft
10
7
40
5

Alignment: Any
Hit Die: 1d10

Class Skills:
The paradigm痴 class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Handle Animal (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Ride (Dex), and Swim (Str).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (4 + Int modifier) ラ 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 4 + Int modifier

Class features
All of the following are class features of the paradigm.

Weapon and Armour Proficiency
The paradigm is proficient in all types of weapons, armour and shields.

Flurry of Blows (Ex)
This works as the monk ability of the same name, except that it works with any weapon and there is no penalty.

Fast movement (Ex)
This class feature works exactly as the barbarian class feature of the same name.

Bonuses (Ex)
The paradigm gains competence bonuses to armour class, attack rolls, [CMB and CMD]{special attacks}, skill checks, damage rolls, saves, and initiative, as given on table: the paradigm.

Night Vision (Ex)
From third level, the paradigm gains the effects of darkvision, due to her impressive ability to see in the dark. This works up to 10 feet, plus 10 feet for every 4 levels after third.

Reach (Ex)
At third level, and every sixth level thereafter, the paradigm increases her reach by five feet.

Mount (Ex)
At fifth level, the paradigm gains the service of a special mount, a little like the paladin's. However, this mount is a giant eagle, only it is an animal, not a magical beast, and so has an INT of 2. It does not have an empathic link with the paradigm, nor can she share spells with it, and it cannot command other animals, nor does its intelligence ever increase. However, it has the Link ability of a druid's animal companion, and its spell resistance is 11 plus the paradigm's level.

It advances in hit dice and gains extra strength and natural armour in the normal fashion. It does not come from the celestial realm, and can instead be called upon by the paradigm for an unlimited time. When it is not needed by the paradigm, it retreats to a safe location and rests if possible. It returns when the paradigm next needs it.

If the creature dies, it does not disappear, the paradigm does not take a penalty on attack and damage rolls, nor does it take her 30 days to gain a new one - when she next rests for eight or more hours, a new giant eagle will be beside her when she next wakes. She may also choose to dismiss her current giant eagle at any time, in which case she will gain a new one after resting in the same way.

If the paradigm is large or larger, the giant eagle increases in size to be large enough to carry her. The exception is temporary size increases, such as Enlarge Person, which do not increase the eagle's size.

Dire Charge (Ex)
From sixth level, when the paradigm charges, she may make a full attack instead of just one attack.

Interrupt (Ex)
From tenth level, when the paradigm hits a creature who is casting a spell, the DC of the concentration check to avoid losing the spell is 10 higher.


Infinite Opportunity (Ex)
From thirteenth level, the paradigm can make as many attacks of opportunity as she wishes each round. She may even make an attack of opportunity each time an enemy moves out of her threatened square even as part of the same move action.

Break Anything (Ex)

From fourteenth level, the paradigm ignores hardness and DR with her attacks, and can destroy artefacts or kill usually-immortal creatures.

Sound Shadows (Ex)
From seventeenth level, the paradigm learns to find the location of a creature she can't see or hear directly. She gains blindsight out to 30 feet.

It Will Not Die (Ex)
At eighteenth level, the paradigm's wounds heal freakishly fast, as do those of her companion. She gains fast healing 5, and her giant eagle mount gains fast healing 1.

Blinding Speed (Ex)
At twentieth level, the paradigm moves fully twice as fast as a normal person. On her turn, she may take two standard, two move and two swift actions, allowing her to take up to two immediate actions between rounds, and up to two full-round actions. Any effect which would affect her for a number of rounds affects her for half as many rounds, minimum one.
The Marauder
LevelBABFortRefWillSpecial
AC/Attack/CMB bonus
Skill Bonus
Damage Bonus
Save/Initiative Bonus
1st+0+0+2+0Sneak Attack +1d6, Trapfinding, Universal Training
1
1
1
1
2nd+1+0+3+0Uncanny Dodge, Evasion
1
1
2
1
3rd+2+1+3+1Night Vision 10ft, Sneak Attack +2d6
1
2
3
1
4th+3+1+4+1Extended Sneak Attack +20
2
2
4
2
5th+3+1+4+1Sneak Attack +3d6
2
3
5
2
6th+4+2+5+2Improved Uncanny Dodge
2
3
6
2
7th+5+2+5+2Night Vision 20ft, Sneak Attack +4d6
3
4
7
3
8th+6/+1+2+6+2Impromptu Sneak Attack
3
4
8
3
9th+6/+1+3+6+3Sneak Attack +5d6
3
5
9
3
10th+7/+2+3+7+3Rogue special abilities, Extended Sneak Attack +40
4
5
10
4
11th+8/+3+3+7+3Night Vision 30ft, Sneak Attack +6d6
4
6
11
4
12th+9/+4+4+8+4Hide in Plain Sight
4
6
12
4
13th+9/+4+4+8+4Perfect Reaction, Sneak Attack +7d6
5
7
13
5
14th+10/+5+4+9+4Break Anything
5
7
14
5
15th+11/+6/+1+5+9+5Night Vision 40ft, Sneak Attack +8d6
5
8
15
5
16th+12/+7/+2+5+10+5Extended Sneak Attack +60
6
8
16
6
17th+12/+7/+2+5+10+5Sound Shadows, Sneak Attack +9d6
6
9
17
6
18th+13/+8/+3+6+11+6It Will Not Die
6
9
18
6
19th+14/+9/+4+6+11+6Night Vision 50ft, Sneak Attack +10d6
7
10
19
7
20th+15/+10/+5+6+12+6Blinding Speed
7
10
20
7

Alignment: Any
Hit Die: 1d8

Class Skills:
All skills are class skills of the marauder.
Skill Points at 1st Level: (10 + Int modifier) ラ 4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 10 + Int modifier


Class features
All of the following are class features of the paradigm.

Weapon and Armour Proficiency
The marauder is proficient in all simple weapons, as well as the longbow, rapier, sap, shortbow and short sword and light armour, but no type of shield.

Uncanny dodge, Evasion, Improved Uncanny Dodge (Ex)
These class features work just as the rogue class features of the same name.

Bonuses (Ex)
The marauder gains competence bonuses to armour class, attack rolls, [CMB and CMD]{special attacks}, skill checks, damage rolls, saves, and initiative, as given on table: the marauder.

Night Vision (Ex)
From third level, the marauder gains the effects of darkvision, due to their impressive ability to see in the dark. This works up to 10 feet, plus 10 feet for every 4 levels after third.


Extended Sneak Attack
At fourth level, and every sixth level thereafter, the marauder can sneak attack with a ranged weapon from 20 feet further away.

Rogue special abilities (Ex)
The marauder gains all of the rogue's special abilities, but they can use defensive roll on any attack, and as many times as they like per day, and skill mastery applies to all skills.

Hide in Plain Sight (Ex)
This functions as the assassin ability of the same name, but no shadow is needed to hide without anything to hide behind.

Perfect reaction (Ex)
From thirteenth level, the marauder can make an attack or a five-foot step as an immediate action. If they make a five-foot step, they can dodge a single attack in this manner - this might also allow them to dodge an area-of-effect spell, or a falling object. Their attacks can interrupt spells just as a normal attack might, or destroy potions in the same manner as an attack of opportunity.

Break Anything (Ex)

From fourteenth level, the marauder ignores hardness and DR with their attacks, and can destroy artefacts or kill usually-immortal creatures. Their sneak attack works even on creatures without discernable anatomies.

Sound Shadows (Ex)
From seventeenth level, the marauder learns to find the location of a creature they can't see or hear directly. They gain blindsight out to 30 feet.

It Will Not Die (Ex)
At eighteenth level, the marauder's wounds heal freakishly fast. They gain fast healing 5.

Blinding Speed (Ex)
At twentieth level, the marauder moves fully twice as fast as a normal person. On their turn, they may take two standard, two move and two swift actions, allowing them to take up to two immediate actions between rounds, and up to two full-round actions. Any effect which would affect them for a number of rounds affects them for half as many rounds, minimum one.

So, those two classes are a representation of the kind of power I want my spellcaster to be working against. Or with, more to the point, but y'know.

...

At this point, this is basically a 3.P re-work, isn't it? Goddamit.