View Full Version : Addictive Spell

2013-08-12, 09:06 PM
I'm having trouble getting the mechanics of this worked out. Maybe the playground can help.

My goal is to have a category of forbidden magic in an otherwise standard 3.5 setting. The magic would mostly be available to NPC's, but PC's might stumble across it and have to decide whether learning it is worth the cost.

My premise is that most people can't learn magic; the spells just don't stick in the mind. Wizards can do it with intense study; clerics do it with prayer and the help of the gods, but the spells need to be prepared over and over again; they are never learned once and for all. Sorcerers, on the other hand, have a natural aptitude; they pick up some spells with ease, but the problem is that they can't forget them; they stick in the mind and prevent other spells from being learned. This is why sorcerers know only a few spells, but don't have to study them every day.

My idea is that there is a kind of spell - an addictive spell - that is easy to learn. Too easy: it gives the wizard (or cleric, but let's stick with a wizard for now) a taste of what it is like to be a sorcerer. An addictive spell, once learned, can be prepared without a spell book, as if by spell mastery. However at least one copy of an addictive spell must be in a wizard's repertoire whenever spells are prepared. A wizard can't learn more addictive spells than he can prepare, but until that point the roll to learn a new addictive spell automatically succeeds; after that point, the roll automatically fails.

In order to scribe an addictive spell - on a scroll or in a spell book - a wizard must have the appropriate feat. Few wizards ever learn the feat, as it exists only to control access to rare and powerful magics. Maybe learning the feat bears its own heavy costs.

Now my difficulty; the stated drawback of an addictive spell (always having to prepare a copy) seems a little mild. The ability to learn it (and master it) automatically is not all that big, but I think the drawback should be a little bit bigger.

I'm also having trouble thinking of why someone would acquire the feat to scribe an addictive spell. Even if you are the guildmaster of a reclusive group of crazy wizards, why not just have your minions research the spell themselves? Researching an existing spell is pretty cheap and easy. I could just arbitrarily say that an addictive spell cannot be researched; you have to learn it from a spell book or scroll, which means that someone has to have the feat. Or maybe you have power over whoever learns a spell you scribe. I like this second idea better, but how exactly would it work?

So the execution is a little shaky. Anyone have some ideas on how to pull it all together?

2013-08-13, 12:06 AM
The penalty is actually pretty big though, because there's really no way to undo it later. That makes it, in its own way, more severe than a lot of other penalties. Not needing a spellbook to prepare something isn't really a huge bonus to offset anyhow.

That said, if the addictive spells are on the whole better than non-addictive spells, that changes things. Its not really a penalty to be forced to prepare Miracle in all your 9th level slots, for example, because the spell is better than most of the alternatives.

What I would do is keep the addiction mechanic, drop the feat prereq, but make it so that there's a chance equal to 1% per addictive spell known that any spell you create through research (including your 2 spells per level up) becomes an addictive spell, and is thereafter taught to others as an addictive spell if you share spellbooks or take an apprentice. Then basically you have that the reason its forbidden is that its basically infectious, and if not regulated could completely take over magical practice. It also means that learning spells from captured spellbooks could be a risky endeavor, at least if you're learning from 'unregulated' wizards.

2013-08-13, 10:06 AM
If you want to make it more like an addiction here are some ideas.

You could add in a will save to not prepare the addictive spell and have it get cumulatively harder for successful saves. Failing will saves could result in multiple preparations of the spell.
IE: "What do you mean you only prepared fireball?!"
"I dunno, I just really like fireball..."

Give the player a strong urge to cast the addictive spell. Such as a will save not to cast it just for the sake of casting it.

2013-08-15, 10:30 AM
Wow, I really like this mechanic to be honest. Also, I want to go with Nich on this. When reading your post I was thinking "Wow, as a Wiz you HAVE to prepare it!? Penalty enough!"

I also love the "infectious" concept. VERY form fitting and adds a MAJOR mechanic to the game. To be honest... it's a world changer. No standard d20 world would work with this, you would need to heavily modify the magic "society" within the world. Which in my opinion is glorious.

You could also say that the caster must CAST the addictive spell once per day or it forces its way into another non-addictive slot randomly.
Example: Fas'San has endure elements as an addictive spell due to his country and its natural heat. However, he traveled on board a ship for a few days in a temperate climate and didn't need to cast it. He felt... itchy... something was wrong but he couldn't pinpoint it. He kept looking about with each chilled sea breeze. What WAS IT?! Just then, a kraken attacks! AHA! He knew it! He gets prepared to loose a lightning bolt that he prepared that morning (DM makes a Will save for him DC ??+1 for every day not cast and Fas'San fails), but his hands begin to move of their own accord and his voice distorts! With the final words spoken, the cool air feels a little less cold. But it didn't seem to help much as the chill of the ocean depths sunk into his bones while the kraken drug him below.

I don't know, the mechanic is beast. I wonder why no one has thought of this before.