Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

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Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Thu Apr 07, 2011 1:32 pm

if there is something stupid about d&d it's spell system and its dreaded slots : makes the spellcasting characters feel more like walking magic items instead of heroes or adventurers.
I personally always hated how it worked and how much it was unnecessary complex, so for this conversion project i suggest to kill it off for reaching these goals:

- making it more simple and speedy, especially for gms in need to create a magic user npc
- making it more flexible
- giving a slight magic access to all characters
- making it complex where it needs to be, and making it light where it does not to be a rule-mess
- making the use of the metamagical feats actually fun and strategically interesting
- balacing some things

first, the best way to kick out the slots is using spell points instead, daily spell points granted by the classes levels and the class itself.
At character creation choose a stat, that will going to be your casting stat (this makes even dumb races dangerous when weilding magic)

magic-null classes (ex. thief, warrior) no points
low (ex. paladin, rangers) equal to half class level
medium (ex. bard) equal to class level
full (ex. wizard) equal to class level x 1,5 (rounded down)
extra (ex. sorceror) equal to class level x 2

every characters no matter the class, have a number of granted extra spell points equal to casting stat modifier + character level/4

the spells costs are

level 0 - no cost, do a dc 10 casting check
level 1 - 3 points
level 2 - 5 points
level 3 - 7 points
level 4 - 9 points
level 5 - 11 points
level 6 - 13 points
level 7 - 15 points
level 8 - 17 points
level 9 - 19 points

on learning spells : there is no class limit on what spell you may know or the level of them, but there are other more inteesting problematics.The maximum level of spells you may access works as always, class level/2 but now all spells must be seen or studied from a grimoire or similiar source (even a verbal source is fine sometimes) and need to be written down on something, like a book, and it's a long and costly process.The spells must be transcribed in their original language (magic tounge for wizards, nature speak for druids and so on), and every spell take a number of pages equal to spell level x 5.Wizards learn at fifth level (in addition to whatever they get) a class skill making them capable of subtracting their intelligence modifier from this number.A character unable to write can only remember a number of spells equal to stat class modifier and can cast spells equal to his class level/3.
It is possible to transcribe a spell on a different mean instead of books, like armour decorations, as long as they provide sufficent space, and the character have the necessary feats for doing this.
magic-null classes can try to learn a number of spells equal to class level/5, and they have to follow the same rules of everyone else (learning, spell level limit, trascribing).

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by BotWizo » Thu Apr 07, 2011 2:04 pm

This is an interesting variation, if I were to implement it I may make a few tweaks, but overall may be a cool way to handle magic differently.

Have you played campaigns using this system?

If so then this is your current balanced version of the system or have you noticed game balance issues that still need to be addressed?
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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Thu Apr 07, 2011 4:17 pm

tried, it works and it's well balanced, especially becuase we used to tap into magical/divine sources sometimes to have extra points, create "mana potions" and such....things that antagonists could do.Next i'll talk about how we had magic items working

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Viktyr Korimir » Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:10 am

I'm working on something similar. In Pathfinder, spellcasters can cast an unlimited number of cantrips (0th level spells) per day. What I'm doing is expanding cantrips, similar to the Warlock, so that they get more powerful as the character gains levels. Then, they have regular spellcasting using a spell point system, and ritual magic.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Angel Tarragon » Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:40 am

Viktyr Korimir wrote:What I'm doing is expanding cantrips, similar to the Warlock, so that they get more powerful as the character gains levels.
I'd love to take a gander on what you've done with this so far.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Azaghal » Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:04 am

Twin Agate Dragons wrote:
Viktyr Korimir wrote:What I'm doing is expanding cantrips, similar to the Warlock, so that they get more powerful as the character gains levels.
I'd love to take a gander on what you've done with this so far.
Ditto!

The 1st approach is very remincent of Rolemaster.
Sean "Azaghal" Pennington

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Viktyr Korimir » Fri Apr 08, 2011 6:31 am

Haven't gotten very far yet. First change was to make all of the 1st level ranged attack spells deal 1d4 + Cha mod damage. I'm going to convert the 1st level Cleric Domain powers to Orisons that behave similarly. Then I'm going to go through the Warlock and the Dragonfire Adept and adapt those. I figure without the eldritch blast, breath weapon, or other features of these classes, I can just add incantations to the spellcasters with little problem. Clerics are going to get far fewer incantations, essentially getting one from each Domain and then a number of auras. Not sure what to do with Druids or Bards, and I'm not wholly convinced I need to do anything.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by rabindranath72 » Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:23 am

And this is easier than spell slots? (which only require counting) Slots may be considered "idiocy" by some, but for others are an easy and effective way to deal with magic. And they have a literary basis. But whatever floats your boat.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Viktyr Korimir » Fri Apr 08, 2011 9:31 am

Not a matter of "easier". It's a matter of better representing our ideas of what a "wizard" is. I'm familiar with the literary basis behind spell slots, but it still strikes me as not feeling particularly magical.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by rabindranath72 » Fri Apr 08, 2011 12:47 pm

Viktyr Korimir wrote:Not a matter of "easier". It's a matter of better representing our ideas of what a "wizard" is. I'm familiar with the literary basis behind spell slots, but it still strikes me as not feeling particularly magical.
The OP explicitly speaks of "complexity" of spell slots, and the new system being "simple," hence my comment. The "idiocy" comment about spell slots is really off the mark. Let's say they are "different" and leave it at that.
I have yet to find a system which is easier for a newbie than spell slots: it simply requires ticking off spells as they are cast. No maths required, to the contrary of spell points.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by AuldDragon » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:23 pm

rabindranath72 wrote:
Viktyr Korimir wrote:Not a matter of "easier". It's a matter of better representing our ideas of what a "wizard" is. I'm familiar with the literary basis behind spell slots, but it still strikes me as not feeling particularly magical.
The OP explicitly speaks of "complexity" of spell slots, and the new system being "simple," hence my comment. The "idiocy" comment about spell slots is really off the mark. Let's say they are "different" and leave it at that.
I have yet to find a system which is easier for a newbie than spell slots: it simply requires ticking off spells as they are cast. No maths required, to the contrary of spell points.
Plus it reins in the power of higher level spells. Let's do a quick experiment, using the simplest spell slot to point calculation (i.e. 1 point per spell level per slot). That means a 5th level wizard (under 2nd ed rules; I don't know the 3e advancement chart) would have a total of 11 spell points. All of a sudden, that wizard can cast *three* fireballs as compared to a regular-rules wizard, who ordinarily wouldn't be able to cast three fireballs until 8th level. What a spell-point system means is that as soon as a wizard gains a new spell level, they can really start casting a ton of really powerful spells immediately. As another example, a wizard who has just achieved 18th level and can now cast 9th level spells can immediately cast *15* meteor swarms. That's *very* overpowering IMO, and turns those high level spells into common, ordinary spells rather than that special power you save for the most desperate of occasions. The advantage of spell slots is that it constrains the ability of a wizard from using those incredibly powerful spells.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Fri Apr 08, 2011 1:45 pm

yes, 3 fireballs and that's it, your magic ends there, you can't start zapping second level spells after it.And what about 15 metor swarms ? where the normal fact of having a meteor swarm fits in a good game ? nowhere because, as most of high level spells, it's exaggerated and far away from what the wizard should be, but anyway...a meteor swarm it's a 45 page incantation that one doesn't find, learn and transcribe overnight, even a level 20 wizard could spend something like 5 years find the correct source, make the correct calculations, reverse-engineer the spell in order to be able to write it down.And obviously, you don't cast a 45 page incantation in one turn, it takes time (another thing i added, longer the spell, longer the cast, how many pages can the wizard read in 6 seconds per turn ? none, a page takes 2 round, going near a ten minutes long cast, and in case the caster screws up, he receive a number of d6 of unavoidable magic damage equal to the spell level, and 9d6 it's quite instant death for a d4 hit dice class.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by AuldDragon » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:14 pm

Zacaros wrote:yes, 3 fireballs and that's it, your magic ends there, you can't start zapping second level spells after it.And what about 15 metor swarms ? where the normal fact of having a meteor swarm fits in a good game ? nowhere because, as most of high level spells, it's exaggerated and far away from what the wizard should be, but anyway...a meteor swarm it's a 45 page incantation that one doesn't find, learn and transcribe overnight, even a level 20 wizard could spend something like 5 years find the correct source, make the correct calculations, reverse-engineer the spell in order to be able to write it down.And obviously, you don't cast a 45 page incantation in one turn, it takes time (another thing i added, longer the spell, longer the cast, how many pages can the wizard read in 6 seconds per turn ? none, a page takes 2 round, going near a ten minutes long cast, and in case the caster screws up, he receive a number of d6 of unavoidable magic damage equal to the spell level, and 9d6 it's quite instant death for a d4 hit dice class.
Ah, so you turned Meteor Swarm into a useless spell, then? I guess that's one way to rein in powerful spells. *shrug*

The point I was trying to make is that, using my sample calculations which are based on 2nd ed (since I do not know 3e, but I think the basic argument still applies) and keeping all other things equal (I'll point out you never said you made changes to the casting times, which tends to render combat spells pointless), spell points get rid of the constraint on a wizard's power that spell slots have built in. Using the same examples, an 18th level wizard could cast *46* fireballs compared to the 5 of standard-rules wizard. No matter what level you are, a fireball (or lightning bolt, or one of any other damaging 3rd level spells) is still a really powerful spell. In fact, having what really amounts to an almost unlimited (unless you're not letting them rest for days at a time, who could possibly go through almost 50 third level spells in a single adventure? Or over 100 magic missiles?) number of powerful damaging spells would turn wizards into a walking weapon of mass destruction on an exponentially greater level than ever before, at least once they get a few levels under their belt.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:34 pm

still having the problem of finding the spells and actually casting them, and yes combat casting should be not exactly effective or far too much effective, look good magic systems like ars magica : a mage can become a living weapon ? yes, but it's useful? no.Meteor swarm for example it's useless to practical use, since it destroyes a large area, making it unconquerable and useless, and now think, you use this spell for destroy some high level monsters, and leave ruin behind you, how other high level wizards will react ? and how many people know this spell ? you leave quite a trail behind, a trail can be followed straight to your throat.Magic is powerful, and a high level wizard/sorceror/cleric/you name it can wreak havok but, there rest of the world isn't made by cardbox npcs and maybe when a player choose such classes, he should do it for more interesting reasons than farting fireballs, something deeper, something more bound to the mystic origins of the setting he's playing into

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Angel Tarragon » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:41 pm

One thing to look into is the spell break-up in Arcana Unearthed/Evolved. Soting spells by how common they are and requiring feats to acquire 'exotic' spells may be a fix in the right direction.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Fri Apr 08, 2011 2:57 pm

it's a good idea but it takes out the fun having to track down that 105 years old witch willing to teach that 7 level spell only if the wiz will pass a night with her, then failing her fortitude check and finding her dead of heart attack the next morning, without having learn anything aside how bad having sex with a 105 years old walking carcass can be :D

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by AuldDragon » Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:47 pm

Zacaros wrote:still having the problem of finding the spells and actually casting them, and yes combat casting should be not exactly effective or far too much effective, look good magic systems like ars magica : a mage can become a living weapon ? yes, but it's useful? no.Meteor swarm for example it's useless to practical use, since it destroyes a large area, making it unconquerable and useless, and now think, you use this spell for destroy some high level monsters, and leave ruin behind you, how other high level wizards will react ? and how many people know this spell ? you leave quite a trail behind, a trail can be followed straight to your throat.Magic is powerful, and a high level wizard/sorceror/cleric/you name it can wreak havok but, there rest of the world isn't made by cardbox npcs and maybe when a player choose such classes, he should do it for more interesting reasons than farting fireballs, something deeper, something more bound to the mystic origins of the setting he's playing into
Sounds like you're completely revamping the entire magic system. You might want to enumerate all of that, otherwise people are only getting half of the picture.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Fri Apr 08, 2011 3:47 pm

i'll do, it takes me a bit, but i'll post the rest of this

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Azaghal » Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:28 am

Zacaros wrote:still having the problem of finding the spells and actually casting them, and yes combat casting should be not exactly effective or far too much effective, look good magic systems like ars magica : a mage can become a living weapon ? yes, but it's useful? no.Meteor swarm for example it's useless to practical use, since it destroyes a large area, making it unconquerable and useless, and now think, you use this spell for destroy some high level monsters, and leave ruin behind you, how other high level wizards will react ? and how many people know this spell ? you leave quite a trail behind, a trail can be followed straight to your throat.Magic is powerful, and a high level wizard/sorceror/cleric/you name it can wreak havok but, there rest of the world isn't made by cardbox npcs and maybe when a player choose such classes, he should do it for more interesting reasons than farting fireballs, something deeper, something more bound to the mystic origins of the setting he's playing into
The idea that the use of powerful magic alerts other spellcasters and powerful creatures is very prevelant in Tolkien's work and I just ran into it last night in one of the Gord novels by Gygax.
Sean "Azaghal" Pennington

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by cab » Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:31 pm

Personally I don't lile spell point systems. They aren't simpler than Vancian (memorise and cast) magic, and it takes too much of the forethought out of being a spellcaster. A mage or a cleric can become very powerful, but is still very much limited by what spells have been chosen. Get your planning wrong and even as a very high level mage your ability to do everything that may be expected of you may be very restrained.

But systems like this aboud in gaming, both in official systems and fan created versions. So there is a call for them, some people want them, and good luck to them. I'm unclear about a couple of parts of this one though. Why, rather than just having spell slots, is faffing about with a numerical determinant for spell levels/points simpler? If you hate the complexity why have to generated another complex system? And in what way does the game benefit from fighters and other non-spellcasters getting spells? Surely thats also extra complexity, and potentially very unbalancing.

In all honesty if I were going down this route I'd total up the number of spell levels the caster can have per day and let the caster choose from their 'known' list spells as and when required, up to that total number of spell levels available per day. I'd balance that by making spell casting otherwise more difficult in some way, maybe have graded skill check difficulty per spell level cast. That'd be simplest.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Sat Apr 09, 2011 1:42 pm

it's a thing i've always included and usually it goes like this : since the concept of magic changes from caster to caster, everyone gets his personal graphical effect for every spell, hence no spell you can cast will look exactly alike the same spell cat from someone else (but it's interesting finding someone with looking a bit like yours).The mechanics are still the same, same damage/effects/area but graphical-wise, they're unique, and this fact makes you recognizable as a specific magic user.Clerics are different all their spells look the same, they change look based on the divinity, henche a heal spell cast by a nature cleric is one thing, and a heal spell cat by a war cleric it's another, same effect but total different look.
plus, it's a good rule considering side effects, you don't need to be ultrarealistic, but leme give you an example regarding once againg meteor swarm :
the good king you're serving under it's fighting against the evil warlord (tm) and his armies of darkness (tm), and they just turned your griffon cavalry division into roast chicken and nuggets.Sensing that's a good day to do stupid things, you cast meteor swarm on the enemy side, winning the battle and reaping a lot of xp, or at least that's what you think, let's give a good look at what happens
- that piece of land is now blasted and probably lifeless, unsuitable for anything, it would be hard to even build a road over it, the vegetation is dead, the place still burns and the druids, clerics of nature, royal economists will be at your door in no time
- you probably killed a lot of people unleashing what actually is a magical catastrophy, and as every good master knows, it doesn't matter your alignment over such things, this is a battlefield and it's probably going to be a haunted place (even if those guys were evil, they thougght to do the right thing serving the evil warlord), but since what killed them was something so powerful and caused so much death, we're going to have magical undead, probably high level ones.Now you'll have regular clerics at your door
- oh surely the good king won the battle, and just lost a lot more : the conquered people will see him as the butcher, the annihilator, ruling under the threat of meteoric retribution for those who oppose him, as well as the loyal subject will get the idea, and this can easly lead to unrest, civil war and attempts to murder the king and his family.Plus the royal allies will not overlook this battle, and diplomatical relationships will turn cold or change into open hostility.Great, you just turned the good king into the evil warlord at the eyes of the rest of the world!

and that's a simple exploration of possible consequences of magical misuse to demonstrate that settigs aren't made of cardbox npcs and hit dices.It's not casual happening that the only setting where you could physically cast such spells without landscape consequences used to be darksun, just don't try to tell around how you just destroyed some aberrant creature with your meteor shower.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by rabindranath72 » Sat Apr 09, 2011 2:17 pm

It seems to me you might want to make all spellcasters Sorcerers, which is fine. It's a good class if you want the freedom of casting "at will" but the constraints on number of known and castable spells makes it also very well balanced.
Also, the optional rules in the DMG about having to make some pact to learn spells, makes for a potentially very flavourful campaign element.
I have run a few S&S-ish 3.0 campaigns in which the only spellcasters were sorcerers, and they had to make pacts with outsiders to learn new spells, in exchange for "favours." It was a lot of fun, and very balanced (and most importantly it worked "by the book" and didn't require a complete overhaul of the rules.)

Regarding other classes learning to cast spells, the d20 system already provides a fairly flexible multiclassing option without having to reinvent the wheel. Make multiclassing into a sorcerer difficult, or require extensive training, and you are set.

The d20 Conan game allows non-spellcasters to learn to cast some spells by acquisition of the Dabbler feat, which allows casting spells from selected schools at some penalty.

Most of the concerns you have seem to be dictated more by a campaign style, rather than something that the 3e rules out-of-the-box can't model.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Sat Apr 09, 2011 2:46 pm

after all, foreplanning in magic using it's just as bad as it sound : how can you foretell what situations you'll be into? you can't, and even knowing some bits, there are still lots of possible scenarios.Magic user are not walking magic items, and the stratigal planning it's totally useless, there are far too many options for the gm to make such tactic useful.

I consider wizards being a bit more flexible with the use of metamagic feats (and having spell points makes you able to use them a bit more freely), plus the use of spell points at least gives away a good reason of why i can't cast some spells more than once : memorizing it's such a ridiculous concept that we even got it as the key point of an entire parody series (and the only one where spell slots seemed to have a logic, discworld).It sounds like "i'm too stupid to learn more than one 9-level spell even if i have fought dragons, seen miracles and traveled on the planes at this level", plus it counter balance a lot of things, you don't get a spell arsenal ready even if you use up your high level spells, but you can choose to use only high level spells today and none of the others.A 15 level wizard with a casting modifer of +4 gets a total of 29 spell points and have access to spells up to level 7, is able to cast only 1 7th level spell (since they cost 15 spell points) but at least can manage this points as he wants and when he wants, instead of having too much or not enough power

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by AuldDragon » Sat Apr 09, 2011 5:53 pm

Zacaros wrote:after all, foreplanning in magic using it's just as bad as it sound : how can you foretell what situations you'll be into? you can't, and even knowing some bits, there are still lots of possible scenarios.Magic user are not walking magic items, and the stratigal planning it's totally useless, there are far too many options for the gm to make such tactic useful.
I never considered having to plan and prepare for the unknown such a bad thing. Everyone else has to do it, and we have to do it in real life.

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Re: Burn spell slots, burn! - eliminating spell idiocy -

Post by Zacaros » Sat Apr 09, 2011 7:12 pm

yes, but one does foreplanning with tools, weapons and such, not magic, it sound like "i'd better bring two sacred tomes just in case we need twice godly power", or "lemme prepare a cuople of fire spells, you never know when you need a grill", totally heroic.

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