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View Full Version : Revamping the Spell System [Limited by your Imaaaagination!]



Xallace
2008-10-07, 01:43 PM
Now, in my various attempts at homebrewing, I usually try to stick to basing everything off of the three core books in 3.5 mechanics. This time, I'm going to try something I haven't before: that is, I want to change how magic works.

Yeah, I know, it's something that a lot of people try to do, and with varying success. But I have a new idea that I feel has potential. The idea is that we make the system more customizable to the caster by breaking spells down into "spell components." Components are the essential parts of spells, like Range, Casting Time, Descriptors, etc. When we're done, casters will essentially create spells "on the fly."

What we do is completely remove the spell lists, spell levels, etc. and break all of the spells down into component parts. Then, we group each of the components together into three different categories, kind of like weapons: Simple Components, Complex Components, and Master Components.

Simple Components consist of very basic effects. Statistical Boosts, Damage, Saving Throws, things like that. This group would also consist of less powerful components, such as Touch range and [Energy] descriptors. Simple Components are just that; the spells that novices can cast.

Complex Components are when we start getting into [Area] effects, more powerful effects ([Scrying] and [Flying], for example), and better casting times (like [Swift] and actions). Complex Components would not begin instantly available, but the basic spellcasting classes would gain them for free later.

Master Components represent the powerful, the exotic, and the [I]really complex. Master Components include things such as [Death] effects, [Anti-Magic] and [Raise] to bring creatures back to life. Master Components would only be available as feats (for high-level casters) or special class features.

So how do we make all the components usable? We integrate a Spell Point system. Most components cost 1 or more spell points; certain components actually reduce the number of spell points required to cast a spell, allowing you to budget your spell points when necessary. Spell points might be gained per day or per encounter (haven't decided yet). If the spell points are gained per day, certain class features or other abilities would allow you to gain a limited number of points per encounter.

As with the normal spell system, you have a Caster Level. This level determines certain maximums for your spells, so you don't start smacking things around with 10d10s at level 3. There are certain parts of the system that allow you to exceed these limits to an extent.

Spells that have Save DCs are all calculated the same way: every spell you cast has a DC of 10 + 1/2 your caster level + your Spellcasting Ability Modifier. This way, your spells will always be on par with your level.

Spell Schools act as templates for the spells you cast. You choose the school of a spell when you cast it. The school you choose determines certain aspects of the spell in question that components could not otherwise alter. Each school has several benefits associated with it, in addition to several drawbacks to balance it out. You may also get additional benefits when casting a spell in a certain school, if you have Spell Focus or another, similar feat.
One of the specific benefits of Spell Schools is determining whether or not a spell is affected by Spell Resistance.

Under this system, Wizards and Sorcerers change significantly in order to take full advantage of the system. We bring them more into line with each other, keeping with their themes (wizards are versatile, sorcerers are adaptable). Clerics and Druids will also be altered, and Paladins and Rangers too, but the latter two only to a limited extent (primarily just cutting the spell list and giving them limited Spell Points).

I think that was everything... Well, I'd like to see what the interest is before I continue. I haven't figured everything out yet, so it will be interesting to see suggestions from the community.

And for those who think it will be too much work; yeah, it'll be more work, I admit. But like anything else that requires book-keeping, I would think that anyone using a system like this would keep their favorite spells ready-to-go, while statting up something in combat only when needed. Wouldn't be too much longer than looking up your Polymorph stats.

EDIT: Oh, I forgot Metamagic and Spellcraft. I'll detail those in a separate post.

erikun
2008-10-07, 02:32 PM
Are you familiar with the D&D Epic Spellseed system? This seems to be basically what you're trying to do, except at less absurd levels. I wish you the best of luck, although I don't think I'll be much help with it.

Making the DC = 10 + 1/2 caster level + ability modifier is quite possibly the best thing you can do, as you'll otherwise end up with 90% of the spells you can cast being worthless. Actually, while you're rebuilding everything, have you considered the 4e approach? It's basically rolling 1d20 + 1/2 caster level + ability modifier, against a 10 + savings throw defense.

You'll probably want to make [fire], [lightning], etc. a manditory part of spells, with non-elemental magic costing more. You're more likely to run into a fire-resistant or fire-immune creature than a fire-vulnerable one, and if it costs more to add the fire subtype to a spell, almost nobody will bother unless they know it will be needed.

Xallace
2008-10-07, 03:30 PM
Are you familiar with the D&D Epic Spellseed system? This seems to be basically what you're trying to do, except at less absurd levels.

I am, and it is! Although I'm trying to word things a bit clearer than I found the spell-seed system to be.


I wish you the best of luck, although I don't think I'll be much help with it.

I appreciate it, and that's alright.


Making the DC = 10 + 1/2 caster level + ability modifier is quite possibly the best thing you can do, as you'll otherwise end up with 90% of the spells you can cast being worthless. Actually, while you're rebuilding everything, have you considered the 4e approach? It's basically rolling 1d20 + 1/2 caster level + ability modifier, against a 10 + savings throw defense.

I had not considered that approach.


You'll probably want to make [fire], [lightning], etc. a manditory part of spells, with non-elemental magic costing more. You're more likely to run into a fire-resistant or fire-immune creature than a fire-vulnerable one, and if it costs more to add the fire subtype to a spell, almost nobody will bother unless they know it will be needed.

That problem had been considered. My ideas were to either have [Element] descriptors provide synergistic benefits (for example, if your spell has the [Fire] Descriptor and deals Fire damage, you gain a small bonus) or making [Element] descriptors among the very few +0 point components.

Xallace
2008-10-07, 03:47 PM
METAMAGIC

Metamagic still exist under this system, and its primary functions remains the same: allowing the caster to bend or break parameters set by the system. This alteration of the magical structure comes at a cost, usually determined in the form of an additional spell point cost.

The ability to exceed these parameters can be acquired in the form of Metamagic Feats. These feats can be acquired just as you could any other feat, provided you meet the prerequisites.

SPELLCRAFT

Because of the changes to the spell system, the Spellcraft Skill requires significant change. Spellcraft's primary ability is to identify specific components of a cast spell or magical effect, but your rank in the Spellcraft skill is also used as a launching point for other spellcasting-related effects, such as Metamagic Feats and certain class features.

Baron Corm
2008-10-07, 06:49 PM
Posting to show support and encouragement. I've always been a fan of generalized, make-it-your-own class features. I'm looking forward to the specifics.

My suggestion for spell points would be to make them per encounter. This gives them a lower total to work with (because you refresh your pool more often) so that less powerful spells are available. I'm sure that you would put in some sort of cap anyway, but this helps too *shrug*. You could also make different classes use different mechanics. Wizard would be per day, while sorcerer would be per encounter?

Icewalker
2008-10-07, 06:54 PM
Seems very cool. Skimmed the first post and I really like the way you're doing it. A more open system like this comes out great for use by people, but not by everyone. ie, you and many others could use it in your group fine, but numerous people will find ways to break it.

Regardless, assuming your group isn't full of people who just hang around and break rules to be smarmy jerks, these things always come out very interesting additions. I'll probably come back, read this through in more detail, and try to help out when I have time. Which may be never, considering.

Xallace
2008-10-08, 10:09 AM
This list is nowhere near completed, nor does it in anyway represent final effects and point values for each ability. It's the "first draft," if you will. The Complex and Master effects are currently undergoing construction.

SPELL COMPONENTS
Spell components are that which you combine together to create a spell. Each component comes with a relevant point cost (or reduction) that determines the total cost of the final spell. Certain other factors, such as some class features or Metamagic Feats.

Spells can only have one of each component (but see below). A spell must have a School, Range, Duration, Casting Time, Target, and Effect in order to function.
You may have multiple Effect components in a spell, combining their point totals together when determining the cost.
However, if a spell has two or more Effect components, the Caster level Limit is split between the Effects; your Dice Cap can total no more than your Caster Level between the various effects, and your Static Bonus cap can total no more that your Caster Level either.
In this way you can also have the same effect twice. For example, you could have Damage twice (for +4 to the spell), each time dealing a different kind of damage, as long as the total dice did not exceed your Caster Level.

Spell Components

REQUIREMENTS
Simple
No Somatic- Spell does not require a Somatic Component. (+1 Point)
No Verbal- Spell does not require a Verbal Component. (+1 Point)

Complex
Material Component- Spell requires a material component costing 1000gp per point reduced. (-1 Point per 1000gp)

RANGE
Simple
Personal- Spell affects only the caster (-2 Point)
Reach- Spell can only target within the casterís reach. (-1 Points)
Short- Spell can target creature within 25 feet, plus 5 feet per caster level. (+0 Points)

Complex
Medium- Spell can affect creature within 100 feet, plus 10 feet per caster level (+1 Point)
Long- Spell can affect creature within 500 feet, plus 100 feet per caster level (+2 Points)

DURATION
Simple
Instant- Spell activates and ends instantly (+0 Points)
One Round- Spell lasts until the casterís next turn (+1 Points)
Concentration- Spell lasts as long as the caster concentrates. Concentration requires a Standard Action each round. (+0 Points)

Complex
Lasting- Spell continues for one round per caster level (+3 Points)

CASTING TIME
Simple
Full-Round- Spell requires a full-round action to cast. (-2 Points)
Standard- Spell requires a Standard Action to cast. (+0 Points)

Complex
One Minute- Spell requires an uninterrupted minute to cast. (-4 Points)
Move- Spell requires a move action cast. (+3 Points)

Master
Free (Own Turn) - Spell can be cast as a free action, once per round. (+4 Points)
Free (Immediate) - Spell can be cast to interrupt another action. (+6 Points)

TARGET
Simple
Attack Roll (Standard) - Spell requires a melee or ranged attack roll. (+0 Points)
Saving Throw- Spell requires target to succeed on a Saving Throw. (+0 Points)

Complex
Attack Roll (Touch) - Spell requires a melee or ranged touch attack roll. (+1 Points)
Mass- Spell affects one targets per caster level, in range. (+3 Points)

AREA
Complex
Line- Spell affects all targets in a 30-foot line. Line can be increased by 10 feet per point. (Base +2 Points)
Cone- Spell affects all targets in a 15-foot cone. Cone can be increased by 5 feet per point. (Base +2 Points)
Sphere- Spell affects all creatures in a 20-foot radius sphere. Sphere can be increased by 5 feet per 2 points. (Base +2 Points)
Cylinder- Spell affects all creatures within a 10-foot radius, 20-foot tall cylinder. Both dimensions can be increased by 5 feet per 1 point spent. (Base +2 Points)

Master
Burst- Spell can affect all targets within a 30-foot radius burst. Burst can be increased by 5 feet per point spent. (Base +2 Points)
Spread- Spell can affect all targets in a 20-foot radius spread. Spread can be increased by 5 feet per point. (Base +2 Points)
Chain¨- Spell can affect any target that is within 30 feet of another target, up to the spellís maximum range. The range between targets can be increased by 5 feet per 1 point. (Base +3 Points)

EFFECTS
Simple
Descriptor [Energy] - The spell gains one of the following descriptors: Fire, Cold, Electricity, Acid, or Sonic. If the spell also deals the same damage type, the damage die increases by one step. (+1 Point)
Descriptor [Mind-Affecting] - The spell affects only targets with an Intelligence score of at least 1. Spells that inflict [Charm], [Dominate], [Fascinated], [Shaken], [Frightened], or [Panicked] must be Mind-Affecting spells. (-1 Points)
Descriptor [Fear] - The Spell affects only targets with an Intelligence Score of at least 1. Spells that inflict [Cowering], [Shaken], [Frightened], or [Panicked] must be Fear spells. (-1 Points)
Cure- The spell can cure up to 1d8 points of damage, +1 per caster level. The healing can be increased by an additional 1d8 per point. (Base +1 Point)
Boost- The spell enhances one of the targetís traits by an amount no greater than the casterís Caster Level. This component can enhance one of the following: a single Ability Score (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma), or Initiative checks. The cost is determined depending on the type of bonus applied: Deflection (+1), Dodge (+3), Armor (+1), Shield (+1), Enhancement (+1), Insight (+2), Luck (+2), Morale (+1).
Damage- The spell deals 1d6 points of damage per caster level to the target(s). This damage may be [Magic], , [Piercing], [Slashing], or one energy type of the casterís choice. (+2 Points)
[b]Protect- You can grant a bonus to one of the following: Armor Class, Fortitude Saves, Reflex Saves, or Will Saves. This bonus is equal to your Caster Level. The points you must pay are dependent on what type of bonus this is: Deflection (+1), Dodge (+3), Armor (+1), Shield (+1), Enhancement (+1), Insight (+2), Luck (+2), Morale (+1).
Alter- The target of the spell comes under the effects one of the following, of the casterís choice:
(+2 Points),
[Checked] (+1 Point),
[Confused] (+3 Points),
[Cowering] (+4 Points),
[Dazed] (+3 Points),
[Dazzled] (+1 Points),
[Deafened] (+2 Points),
[Entangled] (+2 Points),
[Exhausted] (+2 Points),
[Fascinated] (+2 Points),
[Fatigue] (+1 Point),
[Flat-Footed] (+3 Points),
[Frightened] (+2 Points),
[Invisible] (+4 Points),
[Nauseated] (+3 Points),
[Panicked] (+3 Points),
[Paralyzed] (+4 Points),
[Petrified] (+6 Points),
[Shaken] (+1 Point),
[Sickened] (+1 Point),
[Stunned] (+4 Points).
[b]Debilitate- The target take Ability Damage or Ability Drain in a single Ability score of your choice, at a maximum of your caster level. Ability Damage costs (+1 Point), Ability Drain costs (+2 Points).

Xallace
2008-10-08, 10:20 AM
Posting to show support and encouragement. I've always been a fan of generalized, make-it-your-own class features. I'm looking forward to the specifics.

I definitely appreciate the support!


My suggestion for spell points would be to make them per encounter. This gives them a lower total to work with (because you refresh your pool more often) so that less powerful spells are available. I'm sure that you would put in some sort of cap anyway, but this helps too *shrug*. You could also make different classes use different mechanics. Wizard would be per day, while sorcerer would be per encounter?

Those are good ideas. I wouldn't variate too much between the styles, though; I think if it's going to be either per day or per encounter, it should apply to both. However, maybe we could take that idea and give the Sorcerer a small "Encounter Pool" of points that you go through before wasting your Daily points?


Seems very cool. Skimmed the first post and I really like the way you're doing it. A more open system like this comes out great for use by people, but not by everyone. ie, you and many others could use it in your group fine, but numerous people will find ways to break it.

Thanks! And, well, I figure the people will find ways to break any system; I just need to figure out how to minimize the breakage.


Regardless, assuming your group isn't full of people who just hang around and break rules to be smarmy jerks,
Only one of them.


these things always come out very interesting additions. I'll probably come back, read this through in more detail, and try to help out when I have time. Which may be never, considering.

I appreciate the thought, though.

Pronounceable
2008-10-08, 11:33 AM
Another post for support. I like this kind of magic.

I have made such system with mana (which was designed to be very complex to dissuade people from playing casters, but not letting people play casters seem to work much better) where I seperated "recipes" into basics that can be inverted (heat, force, light, vibration, matter) and aspects (ranged, damaging, shield, sphere aoe, ray, etc). Spells are created by adding them together (force+range+damage=magic missile, heat+shield=cold protection, heat+light+range=remote candle lighter, etc) where aspects must be added repeatedly (with increased cost) to increase effect (two damage recipes double damage, adding sphere aoe recipe thrice multiplies area effect by 27, etc). There was the weirdness with mana pool as well...

Anyway, good luck. We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.