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Cataphract
2010-02-11, 03:46 PM
We all know it, we've all heard it.

Caster level hits are bad, because they don't allow you access to higher level spells. Practiced spellcaster doesn't help.

Aside from making the above feat do exactly that (maybe at the expense of another feat to balance it), the problem remains that higher level spells are superior to lower level spells in any way. They're more effective and almost always just as easy to cast.

One way to treat this is to nerf them. There is an ongoing project for that.
The other way is to make them more difficult/costly to cast.

While I know how this upsets balance and CR and what have you, I think the way it hinders a lot of potential builds and renders MANY interesting builds and prestige classes useless is very, very annoying.

So, what are your two cents? Please make them actually worth it, no "system works fine as it is" and other such stuff.

Lysander
2010-02-11, 03:54 PM
One idea I had is to have ambient magic levels determine the maximum level spell that can be cast in a location: http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=6430603

The idea is that magic draws on natural ambient energy, and some places have more energy than others. Higher level spells need to be cast in high magic areas. Low magic areas only allow low level spells. Most regions have average magic and allow low and mid levels.

SilveryCord
2010-02-11, 03:56 PM
Hate to be lame, but the easiest solution is to take out spellcasting and insert psionics.
Interestingly enough, warlocks do have 'dead level PrCs' that are often quite worth taking.

JoshuaZ
2010-02-11, 03:58 PM
Hate to be lame, but the easiest solution is to take out spellcasting and insert psionics.


And let's not forget pact magic. Well balanced (although certainly pretty powerful) but binders work very well and are clearly weaker than standard casters.

Cataphract
2010-02-11, 03:58 PM
I skimmed over the thread.

Five thumbs up.

This is definitely an awesome AND fluffy solution.


@SilveryCord: You, sir, are lame. :smallyuk:

Seriously though, that's because psionics are not nearly as broken as spells. But that's another project's scope, not this thread's.

And god, I hate warlocks. Duh.

SilveryCord
2010-02-11, 04:05 PM
Seriously though, that's because psionics are not nearly as broken as spells. But that's another project's scope, not this thread's.

Why's it another project's scope? One thing I think a lot of D&D players have ingrained into their mind is that crunch and flavor are interconnected. They're definitely not. If you rename the psionic powers, rename the psion 'wizard', take away the bald-psions-love-crystals aesthetic and put in the PHB sketches of Mialee or whoever, you have instant arcane spellcasting in front of you. It's balanced, the flavor of casting a spell as your action is there, there's just a slightly different calculation going on behind the scenes. (Subtracting numbers instead of crossing off names)

Melayl
2010-02-11, 04:24 PM
A skill-based casting system (I'm working on one) makes higher-level spells harder to cast than lower level spells (and more dangerous, in my system). I'm still a week or two away from posting it, though.

Cataphract
2010-02-11, 04:24 PM
Why's it another project's scope? One thing I think a lot of D&D players have ingrained into their mind is that crunch and flavor are interconnected. They're definitely not. If you rename the psionic powers, rename the psion 'wizard', take away the bald-psions-love-crystals aesthetic and put in the PHB sketches of Mialee or whoever, you have instant arcane spellcasting in front of you. It's balanced, the flavor of casting a spell as your action is there, there's just a slightly different calculation going on behind the scenes. (Subtracting numbers instead of crossing off names)

Because it's what we're doing here:

http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141196

Reworking Core spells to balance them.

While doing what you say can be fine and dandy in the short term, it's still a cop-out (though a very effective one at that).

//@Melayl:

Skill-based or stat-based casting systems are a common alternative (I've proposed one or two), they are more radical changes and have plenty of things to take into account.

Same goes for multi-round casting time for all spells (which I love as a concept), but still.

So, what else can we think up to make our low-level spells more important than those high-level big cannons?

So far we've considered
A)Effect (nerfing high ones/boosting low ones)
B)Reliability (skill-based or stat-based)
C)Casting time (higher ones take more time)
D)Cost (more expensive gp-wise or XP-wise).

Anything else? I've been thinking of a simple way of rearranging spell slots so you gain higher-level ones much more slowly. I think I'll post an experimental table later on.

Kumori
2010-02-11, 04:38 PM
You should add to that list "E) Availability". Lysander's Ambient Magic Level thing and my daily casting limit argument (as seen here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141616)) each address that possibility.

Agi Hammerthief
2010-02-11, 04:40 PM
the problem remains that higher level spells are superior to lower level spells in any way. They're more effective and almost always just as easy to cast.

quick & dirty nerf:

multiply the casting time by spell level

this is consistent with the rule that it takes "spell level" pages in the spell book to write down a spell (Power Word: Annoy (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0306.html))
gives more time to do damage to the caster to disrupt the spell and thus makes the melee PCs more important.

Hyooz
2010-02-11, 05:31 PM
Alternate fix: Ask your players to build with a certain level of power in mind, or at the very least, don't be a ****.

LurkerInPlayground
2010-02-11, 05:45 PM
There is this attitude that I hate that everything about D&D is supposed to be about customization or something. A game is made out of mixing up classes and feats in vicarious ways.

How about this:
Play the game.

I don't see why higher level spellcasting ought to be more accessible. Seriously, the kind of granularity that some people seek in customizing their characters is just over-the-top and knows no bounds.

D&D is a class-based system and that's where it draws its hard-and-fast rules about how the mechanics work. If you want more granularity, go to some other point-buy system or to WoD or something.

Cataphract
2010-02-12, 03:39 AM
Working off the System:

Building off a previously mentioned idea of mine, a way to limit high level spells is to actually offer more low-level slots.

To use this, we'll break down how many spell-levels a wizard gets, and try to reassign them. Not counting bonus spells for ability- I think they should remain as-is.

Also, a strange thing that might appear is that sometimes, you have fewer spell slots of a low level (especially 1st or 2nd) than before; this is intentional and can be easily explained even by fluff.

Wizard levels:
1: 1*1=1 stays as it is.
2: 2*1=2 stays as it is.
3: 2*1+1*2=4 stays as it is.
4: 3*1+2*2=7 becomes 5*1+1*2=7
5: 3*1+2*2+1*3=10 becomes 5*1+1*2+1*3=10
6: 3*1+3*2+2*3=15 becomes 6*1+3*2+1*3=15
7: 4*1+3*2+2*3+1*4=20 becomes 5*1+4*2+1*3+1*4=20
8: 4*1+3*2+3*3+2*4=27 becomes 7*1+5*2+2*3+1*4=27
9: 4*1+4*2+3*3+2*4+1*5=34 becomes 6*1+5*2+3*3+1*4+1*5=34
10: 4*1+4*2+3*3+3*4+2*5=43 becomes 6*1+6*2+4*3+2*4+1*5=43
11: 4*1+4*2+4*3+3*4+2*5+1*6=52 becomes 6*1+6*2+5*3+2*4+1*5+1*6=52
12: 4*1+4*2+4*3+3*4+3*5+2*6=63 becomes 8*1+6*2+5*3+3*4+2*5+1*6=63
13: 4*1+4*2+4*3+4*4+3*5+2*6+1*7=74 becomes 7*1+7*2+6*3+3*4+2*5+1*6+1*7=74
14: 4*1+4*2+4*3+4*4+3*5+3*6+2*7=87 becomes 7*1+7*2+7*3+4*4+2*5+2*6+1*7=87
15: 4*1+4*2+4*3+4*4+4*5+3*6+2*7+1*8=100 becomes 7*1+7*2+7*3+4*4+3*5+2*6+1*7+1*8=100
16: 4*1+4*2+4*3+4*4+4*5+3*6+3*7+2*8=115 becomes 9*1+8*2+7*3+5*4+3*5+2*6+2*7+1*8=115
17: 4*1+4*2+4*3+4*4+4*5+4*6+3*7+2*8+1*9=130 becomes 9*1+8*2+7*3+5*4+3*5+3*6+2*7+1*8+1*9=130
18: 4*1+4*2+4*3+4*4+4*5+4*6+3*7+3*8+2*9=147 becomes 9*1+9*2+9*3+6*4+4*5+3*6+2*7+1*8+1*9=147
19: 4*1+4*2+4*3+4*4+4*5+4*6+4*7+3*8+3*9=163 becomes 8*1+8*2+8*3+7*4+6*5+3*6+2*7+2*8+1*9=163
20: 4*1+4*2+4*3+4*4+4*5+4*6+4*7+4*8+4*9=180 becomes 10*1+8*2+8*3+7*4+6*5+4*6+2*7+2*8+2*9=180
5

Thus we have the following table
{table=head]Level|1st|2nd|3rd|4th|5th|6th|7th|8th|9th
1st|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
2nd|2|-|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
3rd|2|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
4th|5|1|-|-|-|-|-|-|-
5th|5|1|1|-|-|-|-|-|-
6th|6|3|1|-|-|-|-|-|-
7th|5|4|1|1|-|-|-|-|-
8th|7|5|2|1|-|-|-|-|-
9th|6|5|3|1|1|-|-|-|-
10th|6|6|4|2|1|-|-|-|-
11th|6|6|5|2|1|1|-|-|-
12th|8|6|5|3|2|1|-|-|-
13th|7|7|6|3|2|1|1|-|-
14th|7|7|7|4|2|2|1|-|-
15th|7|7|7|4|3|2|1|1|-
16th|9|8|7|5|3|2|2|1|-
17th|9|8|7|5|3|3|2|1|1
18th|9|9|9|6|4|3|2|1|1
19th|8|8|8|7|6|3|2|2|1
20th|10|8|8|7|6|4|2|2|2
[/table]

Eldan
2010-02-12, 03:45 AM
The problem is that, unless we rewrite high-level spells, as we are currently doing in the other project, a single ninth-level slot per day, aided by a few five to seventh level slots can still break the game over it's knees at will. A batman wizard doesn't need many slots, while for a low-optimized wizard who uses his first ninth level slot to memorize meteor swarm (hey, my players did do stuff like that), it doesn't make that much of a difference.

Cataphract
2010-02-12, 03:46 AM
quick & dirty nerf:

multiply the casting time by spell level

this is consistent with the rule that it takes "spell level" pages in the spell book to write down a spell (Power Word: Annoy (http://www.giantitp.com/comics/oots0306.html))
gives more time to do damage to the caster to disrupt the spell and thus makes the melee PCs more important.

I've been toying around with similar ideas, which include 1/2 or 1/3 (round up) of the spell's level in rounds. This keeps the game fast enough while still allowing for that.

And it also allows damage/counterspelling/ etc while not saying "Oh, it's round 6, combat is over, no 7th level for you"


Alternate fix: Ask your players to build with a certain level of power in mind, or at the very least, don't be a ****.

I believe I clearly stated in the first post that your two cents should actually be worth it. Please keep that in mind next time you post.


There is this attitude that I hate that everything about D&D is supposed to be about customization or something. A game is made out of mixing up classes and feats in vicarious ways.

How about this:
Play the game.

I don't see why higher level spellcasting ought to be more accessible. Seriously, the kind of granularity that some people seek in customizing their characters is just over-the-top and knows no bounds.

D&D is a class-based system and that's where it draws its hard-and-fast rules about how the mechanics work. If you want more granularity, go to some other point-buy system or to WoD or something.

First of all, had you read the entire first post, you'd have noticed this is not the direction I'm aiming at. Instead, I want to make higher levels of spellcasting less desirable, simply because instead of being more difficult and dangerous paths of magic, they're just bigger, more shiny toys. And everybody wants them (nay, everybody NEEDS them to compete at that level). So multiclass spellcasters without those high-level spells are still powerful without tons and tons of optimization.

As for the rest of your post, see my answer to Hyooz above.


The problem is that, unless we rewrite high-level spells, as we are currently doing in the other project, a single ninth-level slot per day, aided by a few five to seventh level slots can still break the game over it's knees at will. A batman wizard doesn't need many slots, while for a low-optimized wizard who uses his first ninth level slot to memorize meteor swarm (hey, my players did do stuff like that), it doesn't make that much of a difference.

True that, true that, but it does limit the problem somewhat, no? Combined, it would be even better, I hope. But I'm trying to see if it stands on its own as even a minor fix.

Also, as to the "15-minute/1-encounter" day, that's a DM's call. If he can't interest his players enough to continue with a story/adventure despite the "odds" being "against them" (Huh, how atypical in literature/cinema), then, something's horribly, horribly wrong.

Eldan
2010-02-12, 03:51 AM
While it is indeed thematically interesting and fluffy, making a wizard player wait two or three rounds on the higher levels while his character does something in a fight makes the game rather boring for them... while also keeping in the problem that, actually, high-level spells are most useful out of combat, where the player will jsut say "and now I cast wish to get..."

Edit: I should mention that I actually didn't have many of the problems I'm talking about in my games. But that's because our campaigns usually ended before high level, and my players played on very low power levels.

Cyrion
2010-02-12, 12:03 PM
You could steal part of the skill points system- There's always a roll for spell success. Maybe the wizard has to roll under 20-(spell level) on a d20. (Easy number used for example; find something else if you insist everything be "roll above.") Have a list of options for results of failures, everything from the wizard smelling like a wet yak for a week to accidentally summoning Something Umentionable And Best Left Unannoyed.

Mauther
2010-02-12, 01:59 PM
I just posted something very similar for a homebrew campaign I'm doing... I'd love your input back. My starting premise is different than yours but I think we end up in similar places. Basically, (quick and dirty) I'm treating higher end spells like constructed magic items. Caster still have the slots, so they can use them for extra spells or to fuel metamagic, but if they want to learn a 7th level spell or whatever benchmark you set they have to spend gold and xp. Once they know the spell they have the spell available. But this way you don't have the ultra-ultimate spell list of doom, at least not without substantial sacrifice.

Cataphract
2010-02-12, 04:00 PM
@Cyrion:
I assume you didn't read the entire thread, did you? Otherwise you'd have noticed that there are various skill/stat/whatever-check based systems out there, and it's not what I'm aiming at with this thread.

@Mauther:

That's a nice idea I haven't thought of. I'd like to see some crunch, if you don't mind. It does fail to address that people usually spam a select list of high level spells anyway, but still, it's an innovative take on the matter.

Agi Hammerthief
2010-02-12, 04:17 PM
And it also allows damage/counterspelling/ etc while not saying "Oh, it's round 6, combat is over, no 7th level for you"
if combat lasts less than 10 rounds they didn't need that 7th level spell anyways.
I can see how the "combat = boring" can become a problem for casters


one thing I'd genrally like to se for wizards is that their casting wasn't tied to spell slots to be filled but to pages of the spell book remembered:

each spell fills a fixed amount of Pages In The Spell Book so why don't they take up a fixed amount of Wizards Memory?

{table=head]Level|0th|1st|2nd|3rd
1st|3|1|-|-|-
2nd|4|2|-|-|
3rd|4|2|1|-|
4th|4|3|2|-|
5th|4|3|2|1|
[/table]
so 1st level 3x1 + 1x1 = 4 pages can be remembered
6 at 2nd
8 at 3rd
11 at 4th
14 at 5th and so on

if they learn a spell more than once it takes n+(x-1) "pages" of memory
n = spell level x = number of times the spell was leaned

with the current system you don't get your spell slot worth if you prepare lower level spells in place of higher level spells,
but if you add a spell level related increase in casting time to the "remembered pages" system above there will be a strong motivation to learn lots of lower level spells for combat.

Mauther
2010-02-12, 04:20 PM
[QUOTE=Cataphract;[email protected]:

That's a nice idea I haven't thought of. I'd like to see some crunch, if you don't mind. It does fail to address that people usually spam a select list of high level spells anyway, but still, it's an innovative take on the matter.[/QUOTE]

Here's the thread for my main idea:
http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=141737

I haven't settled on a specific price, I'm looking at using the magic item guidelines for building a magic item with spell-like abilities with x per day useage. For Example: Spell Level * Caster Level * 36xp (modified from the DMG formula). The actual amount of sacrifice is what still has me tied up. But it should be enough that even a small collection of spells would lead to a level gap between the spell caster and the rest of the party. Additionally, I'm on the fence about the level this takes effect, I'm bouncing between 5th level spells and 7th level spells depending on the campaign progression.

Cyrion
2010-02-12, 05:12 PM
@Cyrion:
I assume you didn't read the entire thread, did you? Otherwise you'd have noticed that there are various skill/stat/whatever-check based systems out there, and it's not what I'm aiming at with this thread.



Yes, I did read the entire thread, and yes, it's what you said you were after in the original post- "the problem remains that higher level spells are superior to lower level spells in any way. They're more effective and almost always just as easy to cast."

Making your high level magic riskier and less dependable makes them things that players are more likely to hold in reserve for "when they really need them" and use lower level, more reliable spells in their places.

Sure, if you're implementing a skill-based system you've got lots of mechanical changes to consider, but that's no less significant than your proposals of increasing casting time beyond the life of an encounter, nerfing each individual spell, or changing spells per day.

However, a simple check on the success of a spell can be as simple as a DC check and having some consequences. The additional benefit is that it gives the DM some leeway to make failures productive in the campaign.

Eldan
2010-02-12, 05:58 PM
if combat lasts less than 10 rounds they didn't need that 7th level spell anyways.
I can see how the "combat = boring" can become a problem for casters


Personally, I've never seen a combat last more than three rounds, and that point, my players were already bored of it.

Agi Hammerthief
2010-02-12, 09:55 PM
Personally, I've never seen a combat last more than three rounds, and that point, my players were already bored of it.
there is no helping some people

Drolyt
2010-02-12, 11:06 PM
Don't limit spell slots. In my homebrew I'm working on casters can actually cast more often. The key is to make what non spellcasters can do comparable to what spellcasters can do (either by nerfing spellcasters or buffing non casters). Barring that, one thing you could do is make Caster Level = Character Level and make more spells scale instead of having a bunch of spells that are essentially "lower level spell, but better". Actually that might be a good idea anyways. Another thing you could do is get rid of the Save DC based on level thing. Instead make it more like an attack roll (1d20 + 1/2 Caster Level + stat mod).

Edit: For example, take Charm Person. You could make a number of higher level spells such as suggestion and dominate person into augmented versions of charm person. For simplicities sake lets say you were using spell points (essentially like psionics power points for those unfamiliar; you could use a spell slot system but it would be more complicated). The augmented version would cost more spell points as normal (so dominate monster would cost 17 spell points) but you would only need to know the first level spell. Now, say Caster Level == Character Level. You would only need to be of the appropriate character level to augment charm person, even if you couldn't normally cast spells of that level. Now, take a level 1 wizard level 16 fighter. They are capable of augmenting charm person to work like dominate monster by spending 17 spell points. They likely don't even have that many spell points, but they may have a magic item that grants bonus points. Finally, make charm person's DC equal to (1d20 + 1/2 Character Level + Int or Cha) regardless of which version is used.