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Thread: Weaker Magic (spellcasting) world

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    iTookUrNick's Avatar

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    Oct 2007

    Default Re: Weaker Magic (spellcasting) world

    I think that adapting the Incantations system (Unearthed Arcana p174) would be your best bet by far. It is ideally suited to your needs.

    Very briefly, you need to pass one or more checks to cast a spell (e.g Spellcraft and/or Knowledge:Arcana/Religion/Planes/Engeneering). DCs for casting spells rise dramatically, but many special circumstances can provide modifiers.

    By using this variant, low level spells can be cast by individuals as normal, whereas higher level spells need more advanced casters or more people, longer casting times, expensive components or drawbacks.

    This way, for example, a circle of cultist sacrificing the beauty of seven virgins might summon a demon to do their biddings, while the congregations of a continent united in prayer might allow the high priest to stop the volcano from erupting (as long as no one screws things up).

    The official rules limit this variant to spells in the 6th-9th level range, but you might feel free to apply this to all and every spell. Make sure that the DCs are set at a level that matches your goals (easy to auto-success at first, hard to impossible for higher levels).

    You could represent the waning of magic as a penalty to incantation DCs proportional to the equivalent spell level (or even have an exponential increase: you have to fiddle with the numbers a bit. Doing a complete modifier table will definititely take some serious planning or improvisational skills on the DM's part). PCs' actions and world events may alter those penalties as you see fit.

    One side perk that I love about this system is how it fits neatly into the narrative. All of a sudden those 1rs to 3rd level NPCs have something to offer. Mages' guilds make sense. Hunting for magical components is a staple of the genre, but here it takes its rightful place in the order of things. And the rituals, from cultist summons to sealing the gate to oblivion, are a great moment for things to happen (and/or go horribly wrong).
    Last edited by iTookUrNick; 2013-08-09 at 02:39 PM.
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