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    Primal Fury's Avatar

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    Default Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    I believe I have found a very good replacement for 3.5's vancian magic system, namely the True Sorcery variant (the pdf of which can be found here).

    I was wondering if this is actually as sensible as I seem to think it is. You actually have to DO something to cast spells other than just saying "I cast flare!" or somesuch (namely rolling a Spellcraft check). Creating your own affects may be complex, but it adds originality to each spell cast. The power of said spells is drastically reduced. More powerful spells take quite a while to cast (similar incantations). This can be used to make epic level effects if needed (and the reduction in number of mitigating factors really helps this I think).

    Other than being somewhat complicated and requiring a lot of book-keeping to record all of the effects you've made, I see no issues with this. Am I horribly, horribly wrong like I always am?
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    The problem with skill based casting is that skill checks can be improved in a lot of ways. Leaving aside Item Familiars and custom magic items, there are a profusion of spells (Divine Insight) and effects (bard Inspire Competence) that make it very difficult to balance. If you assume full or at least large optimization, then it is difficult to contribute without such levels of optimization. On the other hand, if you neglect the effect of such spells and abilities, then optimization of a skill can lead to unexpected amounts of power. Third level spells are bad enough on fifth level casters, what if a fourth or third level wizard with sufficient optimization could cast them? It gets worse as you get higher level.

    I agree that creating your own effects is both cool and difficult to balance.

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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?


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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    A casting replacement thread? Is it that time of the week already?
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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    Well, Kellus's truenamer fix actually did something like this, but is essentially made the skill it was keyed off of impossible to increase by any means bar a select, carefully regulated few.
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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fax Celestis View Post
    Much as I like your make-your-own-spell system, Fax, it has one major limitation: it only works for casters who are supposed to be able to hurl magic around all day, every day, a la Warlock/DFA.

    Since the OP is expressing interest in a system with some kind of skill checks to (theoretically) limit the amount that a caster can cast, I'd imagine your Sorcerer isn't quite what he's looking for.

    I don't suppose you have any suggestions about how best to limit the casting abilities of your Sorcerer? E.g. if I wanted to play a d20r game, but lower-powered.
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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    From the preview, it looks like this casting(from the OP) doesn't have a per-day limit. I've also seen a system wherein a spellcaster takes nonlethal damage for every spell cast, which is interesting as a balance mechanic. Exploitable, but interesting.

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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    If you're looking for a more-similar-to-D&D-3.5 system (i.e. compatible with most PrCs out of the box, easy to convert base classes to), which also limits casters per day but avoids Vancian stupidity, I'd be very interested in what people thought of my variant system. It's a spell point system, but it's rigged to make multiclassing and non-progression levels suck less (and I encourage you to drop some progression levels from most PrCs that don't already), plus to put much tighter limits on the number of spells high level Wizards and Sorcerers can cast in a single day (making that limitation more meaningful than it is in 3.5). It seems like a pretty good system (if I do say so myself), but I haven't had an opportunity to test it yet.
    Last edited by DragoonWraith; 2009-11-09 at 04:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith View Post
    If you're looking for a more-similar-to-D&D-3.5 system (i.e. compatible with most PrCs out of the box, easy to convert base classes to), which also limits casters per day but avoids Vancian stupidity
    1) Read Jack Vance, especially the collection called Rialto the Magnificent. Also, read Joel Rosenberg's "Guardians of the Flame", especially the book The Sleeping Dragon. Both deal with Vancian magic, and the system makes a fair amount of sense as described. Briefly, magical spells, once impressed into memory, are quasi-intelligent and quasi-alive; those without magic in their genes can't even read a spell book... it just looks like blurry lines to them. Spells want to get out into the world, and a wizard has to constantly reign them in. Once they're expended, however, they're gone, much like a sling bullet is gone once thrown, or a dog is gone once it escapes. You can recapture them, but unless you do, they're gone.

    2) Technically, 3e magic is not Vancian. While you have limited numbers of spells of limited numbers of levels, the spells are not so much "Fire and Forget" as "Prepare and launch". If you prepare a copy of magic missile, you can launch a copy of magic missile. It is analogous, in the Robotech RPG, to determining a missile load-out. If you have 3 smoke, 3 plasma, 3 high-explosive and 3 fragmentation, you can't choose to shoot off 4 fragmentation... you've got what you prepared, and nothing else. In theory, you're precasting all of your spells during that 1 hour prep time each day, just leaving a little bit uncast so you can whip them out quickly.
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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    Upon further reading I just realized something else. This magic system actually eliminates the need for any metamagic feats by making them part of the spell creation process. Nifty.
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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    1) Read Jack Vance, especially the collection called Rialto the Magnificent. Also, read Joel Rosenberg's "Guardians of the Flame", especially the book The Sleeping Dragon. Both deal with Vancian magic, and the system makes a fair amount of sense as described. Briefly, magical spells, once impressed into memory, are quasi-intelligent and quasi-alive; those without magic in their genes can't even read a spell book... it just looks like blurry lines to them. Spells want to get out into the world, and a wizard has to constantly reign them in. Once they're expended, however, they're gone, much like a sling bullet is gone once thrown, or a dog is gone once it escapes. You can recapture them, but unless you do, they're gone.

    2) Technically, 3e magic is not Vancian. While you have limited numbers of spells of limited numbers of levels, the spells are not so much "Fire and Forget" as "Prepare and launch". If you prepare a copy of magic missile, you can launch a copy of magic missile. It is analogous, in the Robotech RPG, to determining a missile load-out. If you have 3 smoke, 3 plasma, 3 high-explosive and 3 fragmentation, you can't choose to shoot off 4 fragmentation... you've got what you prepared, and nothing else. In theory, you're precasting all of your spells during that 1 hour prep time each day, just leaving a little bit uncast so you can whip them out quickly.
    Never read anything of Jack Vance's, and I don't care to. I was using the term as it is generally applied to v3.5. If that is an inaccurate use of the term, fine, I apologize, but that is how I see it used.

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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    may I recommend swapping a skill check for a class level check?

    As a skill check, this leads to either under powered or over powered characters. If it is based on your caster level, then you know what it should be.
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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    I can see how that might work taltamir, but some of the DCs for the skill check can get rather silly. For example, the equivalent of the Blink spell has a DC of... 54. Scry is 76, and animating a medium sized object is... 103. Would class level checks really work here?
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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    So change the DC's. You could make it as easy as saying you should need to roll a 12 to hit a spell of the level that you just got access to in the Vancian system. So Magic Missile is DC 13, Web is DC 15, and so on. It doesn't really fix the problem of wizards being imbalanced though; it just gives them a significant failure rate if they try to cast a useful spell. Until/unless they cheese out their caster level, which is harder than a skill check to boost but not impossible.

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    Default Re: Replacement for Vancian Casting?

    Quote Originally Posted by Primal Fury View Post
    I can see how that might work taltamir, but some of the DCs for the skill check can get rather silly. For example, the equivalent of the Blink spell has a DC of... 54. Scry is 76, and animating a medium sized object is... 103. Would class level checks really work here?
    lower the DCs.
    it works better to plan it out when you KNOW a character who is level X will add X points to the check.
    Skill points have a variety of ways to increase. and each of them is seriously breakable and hard to plan for.
    I do not have a superman complex; for I am God, not Superman!

    the glass is always 100% full. Approximately 50% of its volume is full of dihydrogen monoxide and some dissolved solutes, and approx 50% a mixture of gasses known as "air" which contains roughly (by volume) 78.08% nitrogen, 20.95% oxygen, 0.93% argon, 0.038% carbon dioxide, and trace amounts of other gases.

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