Originally Posted by Grod_The_Giant
On the subject of spellcasting checks: Pretty much every other action in the game has a roll. Climb a wall? Climb check. Talk to someone? Diplomacy (or Persuade, as the case may be). Swing a sword? Attack roll. Know what's trying to eat you? Knowledge check. Cast a spell?... yeah, no problem, you've got this.
Eldan, you're talking about making sure that every spell does something even on a failed save. That means that every time you cast a spell, every time you attempt to rewrite reality with sheer willpower, you succeed. Every. Time. Why should it be easier to conjure a twenty-foot wall of iron then it is to climb a brick wall?
Saves are already the "magic check" (it's the equivalent of changing the system from "characters roll a Climb check vs. a static DC" to "walls roll an Avoid-Being-Climbed save vs. a static DC") and most checks already have varying grades of effects (skill checks have varying thresholds like Knowledge and Diplomacy, or fail-by-X effects like Climb and Appraise, or the like). It's actually attack rolls that are the odd one out for being binary hit-or-miss, and you've addressed that with the advantage system.
Giving every spell an on-save effect isn't really a problem (though for several spells it might not make sense) as long as you reduce the binary nature of other checks. In 3e you roll Tumble vs. DC 15 and avoid an AoO if you succeed, with nothing on a failure. You roll Climb vs. a certain DC and either move 1/4 your speed, move 1/2 your speed, move your speed, make no progress, or fall based on your check result. Why not make everything, both checks and spells, closer to the latter than the former?
Conversely, if you want to simplify things more and make more checks just pass/fail-by-X/fail, you might want to reduce
the number of [Save] Partial spells--why should SoDs do anything on a save if they're attacking your life force in an all-or-nothing way, and why should entangle
still impede you on a save? It's not a problem if they do, but it's also not a problem if they don't, it's just up to your design decisions.
On the two roll subject... because you don't need DM feedback on the first one (the DCs are right there on your sheet), it's a pretty fast roll. Spellcasting-spell save is about the same amount of time as attack roll-damage roll. Maybe less. Especially since it spell resistance no longer involves its own roll. Damage spells will take a bit longer, but honestly, you don't play a blaster unless you like rolling fistfuls of d6s.
It's a fast roll, but there's still a slowdown. Rolling Tumble in 3e is a roll against a flat DC that doesn't require DM feedback, but adding a skill check to almost every move action you take in combat still slows things down. It's definitely better than an opposed check where feedback is required, but it's still adding an extra roll.
Perhaps there should be an option to take 10 on spellcasting checks out of combat, but I think that it's both a logical and balance point. Magic will always trump mundane by some margin in 3.5, and I don't think we can rewrite things enough to change that. And... well... think back to the last new player you saw pick up a caster. How many times did he/she say "Ok, I want to cast fireball. What do I roll?"
Take a look at the Truenamer and Warlock for a moment. Adding a Truespeak roll didn't do anything to balance the former, because even if you could automatically succeed on your first five rolls for each utterance each day, being able to use those abilities at will didn't unbalance the game. The warlock has a lot of invocations that he can use at will at or near the same level that casters get similar effects (e.g. at-will flight at 6th with fell flight
when sorcerers have just gotten limited-use fly
), and again being able to use those abilities at will doesn't unbalance the game.
Adding extra rolls and other restrictions doesn't help balance casters if the spells are too powerful, because even if a sorcerer has to roll two 20s in a roll to use gate
, at the end of the day he's still casting gate
. Casters shouldn't need two rolls to go their way to use their limited-use class features while noncasters only need one roll for their at-will features to go their way; the reason some spells have two rolls (or more, with SR and such), as I mentioned above, is that those rolls serve as balance checks on those specific spells
. Balancing powerful spells with a chance of doing nothing is like balancing the wizard with the assumption that you will steal his spellbook if there's a problem: you end up with either an overpowered character or a bored player with nothing to do instead of actually finding a happy medium.
Fix the spells and you don't need those rolls, and if you feel you need to add rolls to magic to balance it, it's not the lack of rolls that's the problem.
PairO'Dice, I do understand the Vancian prepared-spell-precasting flavor, but it's only applicable for prepared casters, which I'd almost prefer to leave out of the system altogether for balance reasons- there's a reason that all the T1 classes are prepared casters.
Well, first off, see my "fix the spells" rant above--you can allow a warlock to pick his invocations known at the start of the day and he won't break anything, and a warmage has more spells available at any given time than most wizards, so it's not the number or variability of spells that's at fault there.
Second, this is a place where we differ, I suppose. I like D&D magic because
of the Vancian flavor--not the slots specifically, you can replace those with points as you've done here or something else, but the preparation part--because it manages to incorporate both the magic-as-long-complex-ritual flavor and flashy-magic-at-combat-scale flavor of magic into one system, because it rewards good strategy and planning, and because it's different from the same ol' boring mana-, checks-, or cooldown-based magic most other systems use.
If I were in charge of revising magic, I wouldn't toss Vancian preparation, I'd fix the things that make prepared casters a problem (too-powerful or too-versatile spells, items that let you exceed your daily limits, and abilities that let you cast unprepared spells on the fly). But then, that difference of opinion on this and other aspects is why I'm not
in charge of any part of this revision and I'm just chiming in occasionally.