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View Full Version : Quick attempt at toneing down spellcasters



Jalil
2008-01-07, 05:27 AM
I seem to recall 1&2 ed casters requiring more time to cast their spells. It then became apparent that the reason so many fireballs and lightnings were thrown around was because of this. The rule I heard (or at least, seem to have recalled) was that 4-6th level spells took twice as long to cast, and 7-9 level spells took 3 times as long to cast. Along with banning celerity cheese, will this bring casters back down to a manageable level?

JackMage666
2008-01-07, 05:31 AM
It'll help.

My suggestion? Stab them in the face at lower levels.

Chronicled
2008-01-07, 05:49 AM
My suggestion? Stab them in the face at lower levels.

I like this. Simple, yet effective.

Xefas
2008-01-07, 05:57 AM
Well, yes, it would make them a lot weaker not only because they'd get less spells off, but because opponents would have multiple rounds to try to disrupt their casting.

However, it would also make playing a spellcaster dreadfully boring. Who wants to sit around for a bunch of turns saying 'pass' while everyone else is actually doing something. That's even less fun than a fighter's "I charge, I attack, I charge, I attack, I charge, I attack..." routine.

As someone who has DMed for a group with a Dread Necromancer in it, I can confidently say that if one or more of your players actually pulls out a book and starts reading it between turns, something is going terribly wrong.

Khanderas
2008-01-07, 08:26 AM
Hm, I kinda like the idea. Timewise it takes as many seconds to swing a sword then it is to use a finger of death spell. No wonder Wizards hit a sweetspot. Something is anyhow wrong when a Wizard reliably can cast while being slashed at by sword.

Not all spells should need to take extra time just the higer level ones. If that is absolutly horrible, to the player, perhaps he can get a free metamagic feat to remove the extra time at a +1 spell slot adjustment. :D
A slow 2 round fireball would then be 3rd level slot, a fast 1 round cast fireball is 4th level slot.
Perhaps too limiting. but eh.

Or a -1 modifier to initiative per spelllevel attempted (so -3 to init when casting fireball). Short and easy.

But in the end, the only thing that really does work is limit the spellselections available. Magic is broken due to combos, not mechanics.

KoDT69
2008-01-07, 09:46 AM
I remember the good old days when a caster only got one spell per round. I believe the old rule was a -1 initiative penalty per spell level cast, which init was a d10 back then, so casting a 9th level spell meant you were going last. That kind of power takes more than 0.75 seconds to conjure up. I still use that rule, although with feats like Improved Initiative and multiple magic items to increase DEX, it's nowhere near as much of an issue.

Casters are bad enough as it is. As much as that is true I still hate Vancian casting, so we use my own Spell Point variant, because the official one does not work out fairly or even make sense compared to the Vancian method. For some reason, if you add up 1 spell point per spell level slot value on a 1 for 1 basis, by my method, gives Cleric, Wizard, and Druid around 180 Spell Points. The WotC gives them 232, which is 52 more each day! OK so not only is it more flexible but now they get more spells too? And the Sorcerer loses over 30 Spell Points. How can they justify that? It's another arbitrary table that needs thrown out.

Now this brings us to the next major thing, Quicken Spell. Utterly rediculous as written. A 9th level wizard can drop 2 spell per round now. That's crap. I changed this to not grant the second spell, and instead allow a caster to spend 1 Spell Point per initiative modifier they wish to reduce. A 5th level spell can be cast on their initiative roll instead of initiative -5 if they spend 5 Spell Points. I allow them to determine after the roll to see how much is necessary, because if you need to go first it can get expensive, which makes a good checks-and-balances system. Do I cast a 9th level spell on my original initiative for 18 Spell Points or save it for 18 Rays of Enfeeblecheese? Hmmm...

It has worked wonders and not caused any complaints.

Flawless
2008-01-07, 09:55 AM
I remember the good old days when a caster only got one spell per round. I believe the old rule was a -1 initiative penalty per spell level cast, which init was a d10 back then, so casting a 9th level spell meant you were going last. That kind of power takes more than 0.75 seconds to conjure up. I still use that rule, although with feats like Improved Initiative and multiple magic items to increase DEX, it's nowhere near as much of an i

Well, in 2nd edtion a high init was bad, the lower the better. Every spell had a fixed init modifier, so it's true, powerful spells were likely to be cast last in a round. And with spellcaster being much more fragile, that was a real drawback.

kamikasei
2008-01-07, 10:06 AM
Casters are bad enough as it is. As much as that is true I still hate Vancian casting, so we use my own Spell Point variant, because the official one does not work out fairly or even make sense compared to the Vancian method. For some reason, if you add up 1 spell point per spell level slot value on a 1 for 1 basis, by my method, gives Cleric, Wizard, and Druid around 180 Spell Points. The WotC gives them 232, which is 52 more each day! OK so not only is it more flexible but now they get more spells too? And the Sorcerer loses over 30 Spell Points. How can they justify that? It's another arbitrary table that needs thrown out.

Ah, but Spell Points don't work that way. If you look under Casting Spells, you'll see that they work like psionic powers, costing a number of points equal to the minimum caster level (for "standard" casters like clerics and wizards), so a 9th level spell costs 17 points, not 9. Calculating from that, wizards actually get over three hundred spell points if you convert their spells-per-day directly; they pay for the increased versatility.

KoDT69
2008-01-07, 10:49 AM
OK that's my fault. I missed that cost section. So their way would seem more balanced since we know casters need toned down. My way they had the same number of Spell Points as total spell slot levels, it just gave versatility to the distribution amongs spell levels but with the same magic usage.

wormwood
2008-01-07, 11:13 AM
This touches on one of the things I miss from 2nd edition. As was mentioned earlier, lower initiative was better and every action had an associated initiative penalty. Quick weapons (like daggers) would have a very low init score. Low level spells had low init scores. Two-handed weapons would have high init scores. This meant that the barbarian with the 2-hander was likely to swing last... unless the wizard cast some high level spell. It was one of the balancing factors of using a low damage weapon or spell... they tended to go first.

If I recall correctly, you also were supposed to announce your actions from highest initiative to lowest, then resolve from lowest to highest. That meant that the quick guys got to see what the slow folks were intending to do (and stop it). That's one of the VERY few things I miss from 2nd edition.

Blue Paladin
2008-01-07, 12:46 PM
This touches on one of the things I miss from 2nd edition. As was mentioned earlier, lower initiative was better and every action had an associated initiative penalty. Quick weapons (like daggers) would have a very low init score. Low level spells had low init scores. Two-handed weapons would have high init scores. This meant that the barbarian with the 2-hander was likely to swing last... unless the wizard cast some high level spell. It was one of the balancing factors of using a low damage weapon or spell... they tended to go first.Yes!

I found the original 2E method elegant, in its own messy way. Daggers were speed modifier 2. Long Sword at speed modifier 4. Awl Pike ranked in at 13. Having a magic weapon could reduce that speed modifier down to zero (or in the case of the blazingly fast +5 Awl Pike, to speed modifier 8). Spells had a speed modifier equal to the spell level (with few exceptions: Power Words were speed 1, I think; Dimension Door too). In other words, if you wanted to cast that Cone of Cold, it added 6 to your Init. And if anyone hit you before your spell went off, it fizzled.

I think that was the major problem with the change to 3rd ed; they applied two "fixes" to the spellcasting system. First they made every spell as fast any other (Summon & some noncombat spells excepted). Second they added Concentration checks (that ended up too easy to make). It became trivial for spellcasters to (successfully) use their world-bending powers, and they ended up overpowered much sooner than previous editions.

Oh, and they "streamlined" spell design so that divine casters also get 8th and 9th level spells, without changing the spell levels (like Heal going from penultimate Cleric spell to something you pick up 2/3rds along the way) but that's a separate beef I have...

Sebastian
2008-01-07, 05:47 PM
IMHO The bigger limitations of 2nd edition casters were

- if you were hit for a single point of damage you could not cast for that round (and if you were already casting you spell was lost)

- to prepare (ok, memorize then) a spelll a caster needed 8 hours of rest + 10 minutes for every level of the spells to prepare, so if you cast 2 nine level spells you had to "rest" for 11 hours to recover those spell, I seem to remember that if a 20 level wizard used all his spells he needed something like 27 hours of rest to prepare them all, not counting the 8 hours of sleep, compare with a 3.x wizard that can cast all his (more numerous) spells every day and recover them all in just 9 hours

other limitations were the use of material components, the already mentioned initiative and the weird effects of some spells (random durations, for example, quite dangerous with a fly spell) that were removed or heavily watered down in 3.x.

But i'm not really sure how you could apply those to 3.x edition, sorry.

Mark Hall
2008-01-08, 12:02 AM
Speed was a big factor in 1st and 2nd edition. As you got higher in level, melee-types tended to see better initiatives (since magic weapons directly impacted initiative), while spellcasters saw worse. And, of course, there are other reasons (http://rpg-crank.livejournal.com/9155.html) that the balance of power changed.

Jalil
2008-01-09, 10:07 AM
I could it it being lame saying 'pass' for two turns, but really, look at it:

A fighter can charge up, get a +2 to one attack, and stand there next turn.

A wizard can cast a SoS or SoD, then move behind some tasty cover.

After the fighter suffers a full attack, he can trade one of his own. The wizard can then throw out something even better; just look at the SpC.

I propose that this might be something along the lines of a arcane full attack. Two ways of doing this, as I see it:

Spell level 1-3: No change.
Spell level 4-6: Full round action( or 2, if that's already what it is)
Spell level 7-9: 1 round (comes into effect on your next action)

-or-

Spell level 1-3: no change
Spell level 4-6: 1 round
Spell level 7-9: 1 round + full round action. Meaning that you would cast it on your init, wait for that to come around again, then finish your spell.

I think the second was more what I was going for, and now that I'm looking at it, it wouldn't be so bad.

Look at some of these (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spellLists/sorcererWizardSpells.htm#ninthLevelSorcererWizardS pells). Dominate monster, Mass hold monster, Meteor swarm, Weird, Wail of the banshee... Compare these to an average attack routine, and tell me who come out on top. Compare that to two and you start to get close.

An additional rule would be that when you start to cast a spell, keep a running tally of received attacks going. Add that times the spell level to your Concentration DC, rather than each hit. Example:

Jack is a 9th level wizard who got jumped by bandits. He tries to cast a Teleport, a 5th level spell to get him out of harm's way. He starts to cast, provoking an AoO from each bandit. Say they all hit.

Old system He would need to make a 4 DC's at 10+5(spell level)+5, or 20. Not so hard; a 9th level caster has 12 ranks, so anything better than an 8 keeps the spell.

With the new system: He would need to make one each at 20,25, 30, and 35.

This should make the wizard think about what he's doing, rather than going to his highest level spell right off the bat.

This is still a work in progress, I'm still looking for more ideas, try to balance this out.

Sebastian
2008-01-10, 09:06 AM
actually with the old system he need just to rolls a single (15+spell level=20) concentration check to cast defensively and he is fine, just remove casting defensively and he should be nerfed enough (without CD he need to pass all four checks to be safe, that is (with 12 ranks) a 2.5% probability of success, if I've not miscalculated.)

Kesnit
2008-01-10, 10:00 AM
Old system He would need to make a 4 DC's at 10+5(spell level)+5, or 20. Not so hard; a 9th level caster has 12 ranks, so anything better than an 8 keeps the spell.

With the new system: He would need to make one each at 20,25, 30, and 35.

This should make the wizard think about what he's doing, rather than going to his highest level spell right off the bat.

This is still a work in progress, I'm still looking for more ideas, try to balance this out.

Yeah, brilliant. So he dies because he can't do anything. (/sarcasm)

I've read several of these "oh, Wizards/Clerics/Druids are too powerful. Let's nerf them" threads and one question keeps going through my mind - do you nerf the monsters your group faces to make up for it?

Look at it this way...

Freddie Fighter and Wally Wizard are part of a adventuring party. A group of monsters rush down the hall and attack the party. Freddie, being a fighter, can attack (and probably do damage) every round. Under the current system, Wally can do the same (or buff Freddie, or debuff a monster). Under one of the "make castings longer" systems, Freddie spends 2-3 rounds attacking by himself while Wally tries to get his 1 spell off. In that time, the monsters are getting their licks in at Freddie - attacks at least some of them would not have managed to make had Wally been able to cast. This puts Freddie at a severe disadvantage since he is taking damage that he otherwise would not have taken.

Sebastian
2008-01-10, 05:39 PM
...(without CD he need to pass all four checks to be safe, that is (with 12 ranks) a 2.5% probability of success, if I've not miscalculated.)
And of course I have miscalculated, the second (and hopefully correct) attempt give me something around a 17% chance of success, maybe a bit high in that situation, but acceptable IMHO. So if you want to nerf casters, my suggestion is to start getting rid of the casting defensively option or at least increase its DC. That cover a big part of it, IMHO.

Idea Man
2008-01-10, 07:57 PM
I think the basic idea of higher level spells taking longer to cast has merit. Wizards/sorcerers especially have the ability to end the fight in one round, and frequently do. Slowing them down wouldn't be game breaking, just annoying (to the casters). If they want to do something quickly, they can always cast a lower level spell, or use rapid spell to speed up the casting.

As noted by Blue Paladin, certain spells were faster in 2nd ed, and exceptions could be made for certain spells. The power words are an obvious example, but I think perhaps evocation spells might qualify as well. They are designed for battle (primarily), and you'd want to cast them as quickly as possible. Mechanically, in core, the only spell I see that's not a "battle" spell is forcecage (by battle, I mean a spell which directly effects/damages one/several foes).

This would leave an option available to wizards at all levels to "do something" each round. It would also make blasting spells more appealing, perhaps on par or better than battlefield control spells. But probably not. :smalltongue: