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View Full Version : D&D 5e/Next Odd bit of homebrew-friendly 5e RAW, with example spell



Morphic tide
2017-01-25, 09:55 AM
So, I figured out a bit of RAW in 5e that would allow for some interesting spells to be made. The RAW in question is the "At higher levels" upcasting mechanic interacting oddly with things like 3.5 metamagic.

I'll give an example spell:

Wild Flare
1st level Evocation
Casting time: 1 action
Range: 70 ft.
Components: V, S
Duration: Instantaneous

An oddly-colored burst of flame lashes out from the caster's hand to a target, dealing 2d6 damage to one target in range.


At higher levels:You may cast this from a spell slot two slot levels higher to change the range to Self(50 ft. cone) and creatures in the cone must make a Dexterity save. If they pass the save, they take half damage.

You may cast this from a spell slot one slot level higher to increase the size of the damage dice from d6 to d8, or d8 to d10.

You may cast this from a spell slot one slot level higher to increase the range by 15 ft, or extend the size of the cone by 5 ft. (This may, technically, lead to a range of 15 ft. (50 ft. cone) being doable with a 4th level spell. How the hell that would work, I don't know)

When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 per slot level above 1st.

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The interaction here is that any increase of spell level triggers the "At higher levels" part. So, with this spell, you can cast it as a 3rd level spell to have a 50 ft cone dealing 4d6 damage, Dex save for half. And if you make it a 5th level spell with the damage dice size increase, then you can have a 5th level spell dealing 6d10 damage in a 50 ft cone. Compare to Cone of Cold, which deals 8d8 damage in a 60 ft. cone, Con save for half as a 5th level spell.

One can also have it deal 4d6 damage with 100 ft. range as a third level spell. It's disgustingly versatile, but sub-par compared to several other spells of the upcasted level. It's that it competes with many them noticeably in some of their niches, while only taking one "spells known" slot.

This one spell known can do a lot of things. Combined with some form of Cantrip-to-proper-spell setup and you can have almost all your fire damage needs covered by one spell! Obviously, it's a rather hard to balance setup. Just look at this example, able to nearly match a 5th level spell at the same slot level, yet valid as a spell pick at level 1, and significantly outclassing with further upcasting.

Ninja_Prawn
2017-01-25, 10:48 AM
Except that really doesn't jive with the 5e style. None of the official spells specify upcasting effects both before and after the 'at higher levels' heading (that I can recall), for obvious reasons.

In your example spell, it would make much more sense to include the line "You can choose to cast this spell either at a single target you can see within 90 feet, or as a 15-foot cone with a range of self. When cast at a single target, you make a ranged spell attack; when cast as a cone, all creatures in the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking half damage on a failure." in the main body of the spell and say something like "At higher levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 and the range or cone size increases by 15 feet per slot level above 1st." That'd be cleaner, simpler and more consistent with the rest of the game.

Morphic tide
2017-01-25, 10:59 AM
Except that really doesn't jive with the 5e style. None of the official spells specify upcasting effects both before and after the 'at higher levels' heading (that I can recall), for obvious reasons.

In your example spell, it would make much more sense to include the line "You can choose to cast this spell either at a single target you can see within 90 feet, or as a 15-foot cone with a range of self. When cast at a single target, you make a ranged spell attack; when cast as a cone, all creatures in the cone must make a Dexterity saving throw, taking half damage on a failure." in the main body of the spell and say something like "At higher levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the damage increases by 1d6 and the range or cone size increases by 15 feet per slot level above 1st." That'd be cleaner, simpler and more consistent with the rest of the game.

But that's not the point of it, the point of it is to replicate the way some Powers from 3.5 work within 5e's existing rules. And 15 ft. range is very different in power from 15 ft. cone. One extends your range by 3 squares, the other extends the area exponentially by increasing how far it gets from you by 3 squares.

This setup has you choose whether you want longer range, bigger damage dice or an AoE, and giving you damage dice no matter which one you chose. It's a matter of flexibility with costs, not options that scale off of one number.

Seriously, part of the point is specifically to not be consistent with the rest of the game. That's why it's homebrew-friendly RAW. It fits the rules as written without adding new wording for one part of the mechanic.

If it bothers you that much, I'll switch the upcasting part to be after the "At higher levels" line. Not like that matters a whole lot...

JBPuffin
2017-01-25, 08:13 PM
This is something I'd wondered about for a while now, myself; having additional effects that trigger at higher levels works extremely well for warlocks, and modal spells are just as intriguing in DnD as they are (in my case, were) in Magic: the Gathering. I might elaborate on this idea later on...

Morphic tide
2017-01-25, 09:01 PM
This is something I'd wondered about for a while now, myself; having additional effects that trigger at higher levels works extremely well for warlocks, and modal spells are just as intriguing in DnD as they are (in my case, were) in Magic: the Gathering. I might elaborate on this idea later on...

In that case, you want to use threshold levels, reusing the wording of the existing "at higher levels" for different effects that start at some slot level and scale with the slot level.

Like having an AoE that starts at slot level 3, increasing as you go up further. Or having range increases that only start at slot level 3. I'd give an example like the one in the OP, but that would be both off topic and time consuming.

JBPuffin
2017-01-25, 09:53 PM
In that case, you want to use threshold levels, reusing the wording of the existing "at higher levels" for different effects that start at some slot level and scale with the slot level.

Like having an AoE that starts at slot level 3, increasing as you go up further. Or having range increases that only start at slot level 3. I'd give an example like the one in the OP, but that would be both off topic and time consuming.

Thinking more, an interesting take on variant "At Higher Level" modifications works more like level-up cards in Magic...

Nest Strike
2nd-level Conjuration - Druid, Ranger
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (bee corpse)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You manifest a swarm of stinging bees in a sphere with a diameter of 5 feet, centered on a point you choose within range. A creature takes 3d4 piercing damage when it enters the spellís area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 2d4 for each slot level above 2nd.

When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the sphere's diameter increases by 5 feet for every two slot levels above 5th.

You may cast this spell from a spell slot one level higher and add the following to the spell's text: "As a bonus action you may move the swarm 30 feet. When the swarm enters a creature's space, that creature must make a Dexterity saving throw; on a failed save, they take the swarm's damage, half on a successful save. When you move the sphere, you can direct it over barriers 5 feet tall and ignore gaps 10 feet wide or smaller." Changing the spell in this way does not increase the swarm's size and only increases the spell's damage by 1d4.
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A sixth-level casting of this spell, including the latter bit and by my intent/interpretation, would create a 10-foot sphere of bees which deal 10d4 piercing damage. This swarm deals damage whenever a) a creature enters the sphere, b) starts its turn in the sphere, or c) has its space entered by the swarm when the caster moves it as a bonus action, taking half damage if it makes a Dexterity saving throw. A ninth-level casting will deal 16d4 piercing damage instead and have a 20-foot sphere radius.

Morphic tide
2017-01-25, 10:13 PM
Thinking more, an interesting take on variant "At Higher Level" modifications works more like level-up cards in Magic...

Nest Strike
2nd-level Conjuration - Druid, Ranger
Casting Time: 1 Action
Range: 60 feet
Components: V, S, M (bee corpse)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You manifest a swarm of stinging bees in a sphere with a diameter of 5 feet, centered on a point you choose within range. A creature takes 3d4 piercing damage when it enters the spellís area for the first time on a turn or starts its turn there.

At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 3rd level or higher, the damage increases by 2d4 for each slot level above 2nd.

When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 5th level or higher, the sphere's diameter increases by 5 feet for every two slot levels above 5th.

You may cast this spell from a spell slot one level higher and add the following to the spell's text: "As a bonus action you may move the swarm 30 feet. When the swarm enters a creature's space, that creature must make a Dexterity saving throw; on a failed save, they take the swarm's damage, half on a successful save. When you move the sphere, you can direct it over barriers 5 feet tall and ignore gaps 10 feet wide or smaller." Changing the spell in this way does not increase the swarm's size and only increases the spell's damage by 1d4.
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A sixth-level casting of this spell, including the latter bit and by my intent/interpretation, would create a 10-foot sphere of bees which deal 10d4 piercing damage. This swarm deals damage whenever a) a creature enters the sphere, b) starts its turn in the sphere, or c) has its space entered by the swarm when the caster moves it as a bonus action, taking half damage if it makes a Dexterity saving throw. A ninth-level casting will deal 16d4 piercing damage instead and have a 20-foot sphere radius.

That is very much the sort of thing I was thinking of with your suggestion. Although the wording is rather clunky, it works out fairly well for describing what it does.

As for the example I was thinking of, I was basically thinking of a Lightning damage spell that adds effects as it approaches 9th level, adding another scaling thing each spell level. Sort of like starting with Shocking Grasp, then slowly becoming a Chain Lightning with a Thunder damage AoE line surrounding the smaller Lightning damage AoE line.