View Full Version : This Weeks Mage Nerfing Idea (3.5)!

2010-12-02, 11:45 PM
Playing around with some mechanics for a low magic campaign setting, and wanted some sage advice:

Idea 1)

Mages must declare a primary spell school at creation. They can learn up to level 9 spells from that school. All other schools are capped at level 3 spells.

Idea 2)

Mages have a limited number of spell slots each day -- 2 slots per level. To prepare a spell, the mage must commit a number of spell slots equal to the spell level. For example, a 10th level mage cold prepare:

20 1st level spells
4 5th level spells
1 5th level spell, 2 third level spells, 2 2nd level spells and 5 1st level spells

Are either of these ideas workable?

2010-12-03, 12:12 AM
Both only drop the classes to Tier 2 at worst.

2010-12-03, 12:34 AM
Idea 1: So everyone picks conjuration, and can still do everything with summoned monsters, or transmutation, and can still use its million tricks. So yeah, Tier 2 - you can still break the game, just not in quite so many ways.

Idea 2: This only aggravates the 15-minute workday. Casters are still in Tier 1, except maybe at 1st-3rd level, where they're now useless. Also, what about minor casters who aren't totally broken (bards, paladins, rangers, etc)?

2010-12-03, 01:08 AM
Lesser casters would cap out at 30 slots (bards) and 20 Slots (paladins and rangers).

2010-12-03, 01:27 AM
I would have thought the spell slot idea was much more restrictive for players -- you get the utility of higher level spells, but can only manifest them a few times each day. And then, that's it -- you blow through 5 spells and thats it for the day.

2010-12-03, 03:50 AM
I had the same argument with another poster. For different reasons than your own, I suggested cutting wizards and other top casters down to 1 spell at each spell level (before bonus spells). I think this is enough to restrict them to only enough magic that they can't have both unstoppable offense and impenetrable defense, while he said... no. I never really understood his logic. People say that it only makes the 15 minute workday shorter, but I am absolutely certain that most groups are going to get very tired of that very quickly, and that's assuming the DM doesn't give you any of the dozens of possible time-sensitive plots. People say that it only takes one spell to win the entire fight, building it up so that supposedly a wizard 20 with only one 9th level spell slot automatically wins the game, and that's just false. You are not guaranteed to disable every fight with a single spell, because eventually something will make it's save, or you won't hit all of the enemies. Reducing spells per day is a perfectly viable way of limiting caster power.

That said, unless you group actually has a problem with casters being overpowered, there's no reason to do so. If your group isn't already power-gamed to the point where they routinely use so few spells per day, then they are not going to do well when limited further.

2010-12-03, 08:13 AM
The problem I see is this: apart from the most durable of long term buffs, what does the not optimized mage do all day? He summons one monster that is actually able to contribute to a fight, casts one mid-level battlefield control spell, buffs himself once, dispels maybe one condition, on level 20. The rest of the day, he spends shooting enemies with his crossbow at a +12 or so attack bonus, dealing 1d8+3 damage, if the crossbow is magical.

2010-12-03, 08:34 AM
This is what I mean by the fifteen-minute workday. Under idea 2, mages will have enough spells to win one encounter, and enough left over for rope trick.

2010-12-03, 10:02 AM
Thing is, people have a problem with wizards vastly outclassing the other classes.

I don't think they take issue with them actually casting spells with any level of frequency. Sitting doing nothing isn't worth being able to throw off a broken spell once every two hours or so, assuming the party does get sick of 15 minute workdays.

2010-12-03, 02:02 PM
Thanks for the input, all! My thoughts:

I was hoping that the freedom to assign your spell slots as-you-will would allow spellcasters to choose lower level spells to fill out their combat abilities: while blasty spells are frowned upon as less useful than everything else, a mage with a whole mess of magic missiles prepped is hardly useless in combat -- he's doing something other than what 3.5 casters typically do, and has to be more careful with his spell selection, but still has a lot to fall back on.

As for the 15 minute work day, I've always despised that logic. If my party decides to rest after every encounter (especially in a dangerous cavern or dungeon) you can bet that they'll get hit by another random encounter -- dangerous places are DANGEROUS, so I don't think that's unreasonable.

While the thread title is a bit deceptive, this isn't being proposed as a universal fix for 3.5 -- rather, I'm trying to create a low magic setting where mastering a few spells really takes a lot of effort. All magic is uncommon, especially the kind of magic that mages can do almost effortlessly -- so if a guy wants to have a teleport prepped, great, but it takes a lot of juice to get that spell off.

Any suggestions on how Ican take option 1, 2, or any other ideas and shape it to this world I'm imagining?

Many Thanks


2010-12-03, 02:22 PM
Then don't use the core casting classes, or look towards an alternate system. Seriously, full-list casters are actually balanced and not ludicrously versatile. And there are several d20 variants out there (Iron Heroes and Fantasy Craft spring to mind) that don't rely on magic and magic items all over the place.

If you insist on core casters and 3.5, it would make sense to drop spell levels 7-9 altogether. Give them the bard's spellcasting progression, so they get up to level 6. They'll still be powerful, but they won't be as powerful as quickly, they'll apex lower, and they won't just flat break the game by staring at it. (This is an especially good option if you're using pathfinder, which is 3.5 no matter what anyone says, where the melee classes are less awful.)

2010-12-03, 02:25 PM
mage with a whole mess of magic missiles prepped is hardly useless in combat

16 damage is pathetic damage and a waste of a standard action at anything past level 6.