View Full Version : Strain, Alternate magic system (3.5/PF)

2013-06-03, 12:43 AM
Words, oh mighty words.
So, I was reading Kellus fix to Truenaming (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=90961) and Quellian-dyrae's Phoenix Knight (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=284530) and a thought came to me. They both have mechanics that I thought could be used/combined/refluffed into a spellcasting mechanic that allows spellcasters to not only be buffed, but nerfed at the same time, allowing them to act more in line with initiators.

Now I realize some people are going to take one look and complain, saying it grants unlimited spellcasting, this is true. But there is a limit as to how much they can spam spells outside of combat, and a good DM should be able to handle it (Dispels, antimagic zones, globes of invuln, etc...) additionally, being able to cast magic missile at will isn't all that great tbh. It's when you get to higher levels and the player is using non damaging spells to good affect you need to worry. I've got nothing for that.:smallredface: But I think with good players who know the boundaries of power gaming and being a good player this would work.


Maybe this has been done before and was ridiculed into non existence, I don't know. so let me have it, let me know what you think, or...don't, what ever I guess.

Anyhoo, here it is:

Strain, Alternate magic system

The Wizard/Cleric
The wizard may prepare the same amount of spells as listed on the below table, and can cast them at will. Except that when he casts a spell, he gains an amount of strain equal to the spell level that was just cast.

A wizard can have a maximum strain amount equal to 2 x his level plus his Inteligence modifer (or his spellcasting statistic if different).

If the wizard does not cast a spell in a round, he loses one point of strain.

The wizard loses strain at 1 point per round. Once the wizard reaches his maximum strain amount, he can no longer cast a spell.

The wizard does not need to rest 8 hours to change his prepared spells, he may study his spellbook for 10 minutes and change his readied spells as many times as he requires.

If the wizard has 0 strain, he gains +1 to all saves. If he has maximum strain he receives -1 to all saves.

The wizard does not gain bonus spells per day as normal, instead the bonus from a high statistic is applied to his maximum strain (as described above).

The wizard must still have the minimum spell slot required to cast spells affected by metamagic feats and so forth.

*This effectively makes 0 level spells at will.

Table:Wizard spells readied per day

The sorcerer/Favoured Soul
The sorcerer is the same as the wizard with some notable exceptions. The Sorcerers maximum strain is equal to 2 x his level AND his Charisma modifer (or his spellcasting statistic if different).

Additionally his spells known are permanent as normal, he does not prepare his spells he just knows them all.

The Bard
The bards maximum strain is equal to his level + his Charisma modifier (or his spellcasting statistic if different).

His spells known remaind the same, he does not prepare his spells he just knows them all.

The Ranger and Paladin
The maximum strain is equal to half his level + his Wisdom modifier (or his spellcasting statistic if different).

A Paladin, and Ranger may change their readied spells by praying for 10 minutes.

The Hexblade
The maximum strain is equal to his level + his Charisma modifier (or his spellcasting statistic if different).

A Hexblade does not ready his spells and knows all of them.

Divine Metamagic
When a cleric or another character uses the Divine Metamagic, he gains an amount of strain equal to the equivalent spell level cast with the feat.

A line of arcane spells from 0 - 9th that do not cost strain and remove a certain amount of strain. (like mana refill spells) still need to do.

Feats that grant extra strain, or bonuses for having none, etc...still need to do.

2013-06-03, 05:10 AM
A couple of things aren't entirely clear: how do clerics work, are they just like wizards except for when they aren't? Also, the phrasing of the wizard spells readied table is odd; it makes it sound a little like the Erudite Unique Powers Per Day mechanic, but I don't think that's your intent.

There's also minor proofreading, misspelling or apostrophes lacking or the like.

I'd have to go over it more thoroughly to find balance problems, but nothing sticks out right now.

2013-06-03, 06:01 AM
Freakycheeseman had an idea for "momentum casting", where casters have to "warm up" to work their way to higher level spells. Eftexar and I adapted it (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=284237) for 3.5/PF; you might want to take a look.

I think the +1/-1 to saves at 0/full strain isn't enough. You could say "+2 saves, -1 for every (INT modifier) point of strain", so if you have 18 (+4) iNT, then your save bonus would be 0 at 8 strain, +2 at 0 strain, and -2 at 16 strain. Or something like that.

2013-06-03, 09:05 AM
I was thinking of a similar system myself for a Lost Kingdoms class (anyone remember that game? Ha), most of which would have nothing to do with this. I was going to use normal power point/spell point costs instead of spell levels and spend actions to recover "strain" instead of making it automatic. I hadn't thought of using a casting stat mod in there, but then I was trying to avoid tying it to abilities anyway.

I think there's a big problem with your max strain though: it's enough to throw four spells at your max level right at the start of combat. Normally wizards don't even get four spells at max level per day (probably three with specialization), which makes this a pretty huge power increase. Of course the sorcerer can now throw what, 6 at max power without stopping? This will happen every fight mind you.

If you're going to use spell levels then I'd suggest cutting all those numbers in half. The idea is that even though you have unlimited spells per day, your number of spells per combat shouldn't be more than they would be normally. So, divide the normal daily spells by four to get one battle, then set the starting reserve and recovery speed so that either you need a couple rounds of recovery to reach that limit, or once you burn through it you'll be out of the fight. You can apply this idea to any class with daily powers really, and you can see it in a number of later books. I generally assume that in a battle worth note a wizard can afford one spell of each level, though some of those are pre-cast buffs. This means that once he's cast one spell at max level (which costs half his level) he's either mopping up with low level spells or waiting a few rounds to charge up, and that means we want half his level plus change. For simplicity I'd just make sorcerers twice that, with no extra multiplier on their charisma (the normal system doesn't give them that either, just higher base slots).

And of course you'll want to add some sort of cost that can be used to prevent spamming certain spells all day, and something to prevent stacking all the buffs forever. Naturally that would be strain damage/cost that heals after you rest, and a strain investment for certain spells that doesn't come back till you dismiss it. Hmm, or you could have each casting increase the cost of the next one until it passes your limit, more tracking but less being punished for casting it even once.

I'll also take a moment to point out that letting wizards cast spontaneously from their prepared spells is never a good idea. Even if a sorcerer can cast three spells to your one, it doesn't matter when you can change yours and he can't.

2013-06-03, 12:37 PM
I really like this system because I agree there has to be a change to casters where they are buffed for (some) unlimited spells, but then nerfed for other things. However, I don't really think you've nerfed the casters at all. The system has promise, but needs some tweaking.

Here are a few things that no one has mentioned yet:

1) Being able to change spells every ten minutes for the wizard (and cleric?) means that they can prepare for anything with only ten minutes notice. The big tier differentiation problem between casters and non-casters is that casters already had more utility, this essentially gives them unlimited utility in and out of combat and makes non-casters even more underpowered.

2) You haven't made an out of combat system. It can't be for every six seconds a caster stands still/ isn't in combat they lose a point of strain. That's way too much freedom since encounters are typically a few minutes apart (even if some monster flees to alert others, and bring them, that's at least 1 minute/ 10 rounds of recharging.)

3) I think you need more significant penalties for strain. The saves going down is nice, but only really dangerous if your opponents are casters. In the past people have suggested HP damage or ability damage. Something like that seems more balanced, especially since save penalties means that against non-casters, casters can go insane with racking up strain because they'll never have to make a fort/ref/will save in that battle, thus no consequences.

2013-06-03, 01:09 PM
-0th level spell spam is fine, pathfinder has already addressed this as a positive change by making it core.

-What I'm reading here (correct me if I'm wrong) is that you're allowing wizards to cast all spells infinitely in exchange for a penalty to saves and casting spam that lasts a few rounds.

-Honestly I like the system, but I think it should be added onto wizards, not replacing their spell slot system. T1 classes do not need buffs.