View Full Version : Altering D&D With Novel Magic System [Variant]

2006-09-13, 05:34 PM
It is my birthday at the time of posting this, yet I'm giving you a present… So be thankful and don't complain until I've gone home, OK?

Under the current Vancian system, most people can agree that the basic party consists of four members: Cleric, Fighter, Rogue, Wizard. These four represent the main requirements for a standard sort of dungeon crawl: Divine magic, Fighting, Skill Usage, Arcane Magic.
However, they can also be listed as: Magic, Feats, Skills, Magic. While feats and skills synergize repeatedly (Power Attack and Shock Trooper, Jump and Tumble, Skill Focus (Survival) and Survival and Track), Magic doesn't really synergize generally (Metamagic and Spelltouched Feats, the old Scry skill and spells like Balancing Lorecall, a couple of spells like Arcane Mark with Drawmij's Instant Summons).
Not only that, but the number of feats and spells have increased at least one or two orders of magnitude more than the number of skills, when you have at least an order of magnitude more skill points than feat slots!

After seeing the interesting Complex Skill Checks and Epic Spell Development options and barely - if at all - thinking about any of the above statements, I came up with the Squangostic Magic System below (feel very free to rename it as you like; even I think the name is dumb). I think it can solve many of the current problems, but then I have the utopian image in my head while you have mad rambling text to struggle through.
If you say it's derivative of other works, know I only browsed through other examples on the Wizards of the Coast boards half-way through the work. That is why I cover Spell Focuses and Material Components.
If you say it isn't original enough, I'll come up with bizarre ideas until a Phantasmal Killeresque effect occurs, Target: You.
If you say anything at all, give a reason. "Better to be a speed-bump than roadkill", as the proverb goes.
If you say that this looks amazingly unfinished or unpolished, then… well… it is. I admit that. However, when I'm done it should have the "crunch" and "fluff" of candy floss, divinely spun and moistened by the tears of attractive women.
If you say it isn't D&D-like, then I agree, it isn't. Do most people think that's a bad thing? Should I have something like spell slots?Here is the method which you use to come up with spells. It's a bit more well-defined than "Do whatever, compare to other spells to determine level", but I hope than offends no-one. It also allows "Spontaneous casters" to be really spontaneous. Expect stuff like this:
Sorceror: Hmm… I think I'll make the shadows cast by the plates of its armour explode. 14d8 arcane damage, close range touch attack, no saving throw, no spell resistance… 5 DC 25 checks.
Five Rolls Later…
DM: The Doppelganger Blackguard is now unarmoured. Which means I'll have to create a new boss enemy soon…

Spell Creation:
1a). Choose the Type Rudiments you want to use.
1b). Choose the Function Rudiments you want to use.
1c). Choose the Form Rudiments you want to use.
1d). Choose any Misc. Rudiments you want to use.
2). Add the same DCs together to determine the DC for each check.

+2 to one check for -1 on another check; this can be used to increase or decrease the number of checks.
Maximum number of checks equal to average of mental ability scores rounded up? Minimum check DC = 10? Must be able to avoid hundreds of DC 2 checks, unless the probability of success in that case isn't much greater.
Buy off DC with XP?
Spell points to spend on spell DCs?

Skill checks.
Save checks (double base save to check? Near-equivalent to skill checks, though harder to increase).
Attack checks (near-equivalent to skill checks in the case of Fighters and the like).
Other checks? Please do tell if I forgot any.

If any d20 roll is a natural 1, the spell fails, but keep rolling; any additional ones make very bad things happen. Death is about a mid-point.
Increase saving throw DC and caster level by one per natural 20 on a d20 roll.

Inexpensive Spell Components:
+1 to one check?

Expensive Spell Components:
Store successes achieved during down-time?
Substitute skills used?
Substitute ability score used?
Use unknown Rudiment?

Spell Focus:
Take 10 on one roll?
One re-roll?

Spell Completion:

Spell Trigger:

Now to list some Rudiments. These are like the Epic Spell Seeds, Epic Spell Factors and other similar things, though they can be used to create casting methods unlike the Vancian "keeping a set of concepts to mind, then waving and shouting it away".
Examples include Dwarven Brew-Casting (which requires the drinking of special alcoholic beverages in copious amounts to cast powerful magic, though the user may end up amazingly drunk if things go wrong), Dwarven-Forged Magic (which focuses magic through various finely crafted metallic objects to form specific spell effects), Carved Flesh Transmutations (that involves the Truenames of what the creature currently is and will be, written on the target using various torturous methods), Reality Warps As Mind (unreliable drug-based casting that can summon pink elephants instead of create a Fireball)…
Right now, there will be as many Rudiments as possible, before I combine them together. The Rudiments in bold are Bloodtype rudiments, which may become a major part of the Squangostic Sorceror.

{table=head]Type Rudiments:|Check Used:|Effect:|Rough DC:

Acid: ?|Craft (Alchemy)?|Acid protection/damage/?|10?
Cold: ?|?|Cold protection/damage/creature/?|10?
Electricty: ?|?|Electricity protection/damage/?|10?
Fire: Produce Flame.|Craft (Alchemy)?|Fire protection/damage/creature/?|10?
Sonic: ?|Perform (song)?|Sonic protection/damage/music/?|12?

Air: ?|?|Air creature/movement?|?
Earth: ?|?|Earth creature/movement?|?
Water: ?|Swim?|Water creature/?|?

Force: ?|?|Force protection/damage/objects/?|10?

Untyped: ?|Spellcraft?|Divine/Arcane damage sources/?|15?

Planar: ?|Know (Religion)?|Outsiders/?|15?

Past: ?|Know (History)?|?|?

Beast: ?|Handle Animal?|Animal ?|?
Plant: ?|?|?|?

Blade: ?|?|Weapon enhancement/?|?

Silence: ?|Move Silently?|No verbal component/block sounds|?

Monster: ?|?|?|20?

Shadow: ?|?|?|?

Poison: ?|Fortitude Save|Ability damage?|?

Dragon: ?|Know (Arcana)|Energy effects, breath effects, etc.|?
Demon: ?|Know (Planes)|Growing horns, summoning demons, etc.|?

Function Rudiments:|Check Used:|Effect:|Rough DC:

Detect: ?|Search? Sense Motive?|?|?

Damage: ?|Spellcraft?|?|?

Defense: ?|?|?|?

Healing: ?|Heal?|?|?

Summon: ?|?|?|?

Change: ?|?|?|?

Charm: ?|Diplomacy?|?|?

Dominate: ?|Will Save|?|?

Form Rudiments:|Check Used:|Effect:|Rough DC:

Aligned: ?|?|Good/evil/lawful/chaotic creatures/?|10?

Chain: ?|Spellcraft?|?|1-5

Sphere: ?|Spellcraft?|?|1-5
Line: ?|Spellcraft?|?|1-5
Cone: ?|Spellcraft?|?|1-5
Cylinder: ?|Spellcraft?|?|1-5
Burst: ?|Spellcraft?|?|1-5

Ray: ?|Spellcraft?|?|1-5

Mass: ?|Spellcraft?|?|1-5

Misc. Rudiments:|Check Used:|Effect:|Rough DC:

Delay: ?|?|?|5?

Penetrator: ?|Bluff?|Ignore spell resistance|15?

Quicken:|Reflex Save?|Cast as a swift action|8?
{table=head]Spell Level:|Successes:|Rough DC Total Average:
0|1?|10+2+4 = 16
1|2?|10+2+4 = 16
2|3?|10+3+6 = 19
3|4?|10+3+8 = 21
4|5?|10+3+10 = 23
5|6?|10+3+12 = 25
6|7?|10+4+14 = 28
7|8?|10+4+16 = 30
8|9?|10+4+18 = 32
9|10?|10+4+20 = 34
[/table]OK, I'll try to give a couple of sample Rudiments. I planned to have a number of these done, but… I'm pretty lazy, so even these examples are poor.


Evocation [Fire]
DC: Craft (Alchemy) 10?
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 0 ft.
Duration: 1 min./level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: Yes

You draw Fire energy from your surroundings, which is immediately replaced from the Elemental Plane of Fire. This energy appears as flames as bright as a torch in your open hand. The flames harm neither you nor your equipment.

In addition to providing illumination, the flames can be hurled or used to touch enemies. You can strike an opponent with a melee touch attack, dealing fire damage equal to 1d6 +1 point per caster level (maximum +5). Alternatively, you can hurl the flames up to 120 feet as a thrown weapon. When doing so, you attack with a ranged touch attack (with no range penalty) and deal the same damage as with the melee attack. No sooner do you hurl the flames than a new set appears in your hand. Each attack you make reduces the remaining duration by 1 minute. If an attack reduces the remaining duration to 0 minutes or less, the spell ends after the attack resolves.

Spells made with the Fire Rudiment do not function underwater, unless the Steam Rudiment is also applied.


DC: Spellcraft ?
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 0 ft.
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Reflex half
Spell Resistance: Yes

For each extra die of damage, increase the DC by 2.
For each increase in die size, increase the DC by 5?

Let's see if I can describe them well:
Type: Who the spell will effect, what damage it will do, etc.
Function: What the spell will do to the target.
Form: The way the spell develops over time.
Misc.: Anything else.

Bard: Composing for the most part, but with some improv. work on the fly. (If I change the Bard into a purely supportive class, they could have "gigs", casting a set list of spells and getting more benefits for less cost or making casting easier for each previous success…)
Cleric: Might change the Cleric for my Plane-Channeling version.
Druid: Grows her spells in responce to stimuli. Contingent-style casting beyond player control?
Paladin: Receives divine power and focuses it into his sword, his shield, his mount, his allies, his enemies…
Ranger: Might go non-spellcasting. If not, channels animal energy to be a better predator.
Sorceror: Has access to only a few Type Rudiments, though I'm thinking he has special Bloodline ones that are broader and thematic.
Wizard: Can access all Rudiments, though the DCs are higher for him because he has to go through all the calculations to reach the desired result. This also means his spells are pretty much fixed.

Congratulations if you read all the way down to here and found the idea of this system interesting! Especially so if you did it in one sitting!
I promise to improve the formatting at some point.