View Full Version : Universal Casting + A Spell-Slinging Fighter

2013-09-15, 06:56 PM
A while back, I threw around the idea of a D&D universe where anybody could cast spells. This post is a test run to see how folks respond to that idea.

Universal Casting
Imagine a universe where magic is an everyday part of life, adapted to everyday need. A watchmaker learns spells that make his hands deft and allow him to piece together broken gears and cracked crystal with the wave of a hand. A farmer's "scarecrow" is a simple illusion that harries thieves and animals alike. A healer's hands really do carry special virtue, reducing fevers and mending wounds with a touch.

This world is the very definition of "high magic" -- a place of endless adventure, were any hero draws upon strength, skill, and mystic prowess to create their legend.

How It Came to Pass
For some players, it is jarring to conceive of a world where anybody can use magic. Some believe that this plays against type, essentially turning every character into a Wizard. Furthermore, some would argue that the very point of more "mundane" classes is their ability to persevere and triumph in a world where mystic threats exist.

One of the ways to address this concern, is to create a reason for why magic is so easy to learn in this world. Here are a few examples:

1) The God-War: Once, primal powers ruled the world -- gods and titans and stranger things still, creatures of absolute power and inscrutable will. For reasons unknown to mortals, the gods came to blows, raising armies and imbuing avatars that fought upon the mortal plane. A long and bitter war that almost sundered the world ensued, ending only when the gods themselves died in a climatic battle in the sky.

Since the fall of the gods, mortals have been able to draw upon a fraction of their power. Only true legends ever master the greater arts of the gods, but all men of skill and will can learn to harness the power to shape the world.

2) Waxing and Waning Magic: Magic is a force that is in flux on the material plane, subject to the "proximity" of the outer realms and alignment of the inner planes with respect to the corporeal universe. There are ages when magic is little more than an ember possessed by the exceptional or the mad. In this age all is in alignment, and magic is so plentiful that nearly anybody can reach out an unravel its mysteries!

3) Awakening: Once, man toiled with poor tools of stone and bone, until a visionary saw the potential of fire and metal. So too man once labored without magic, only to be awakened to true power by a wise and mighty prophet. Now the world is forever changed, and magic is essential as fire.

Mystic Perspectives
It is also worth noting that not all people approach magic in the same way. The aforementioned clock-maker and farmer are unlikely to share too many spells, especially considering that the watchmaker works with dead material and the farmer coaxes life from inert soil.

Magic is coded into classes because each class has a theme and a perspective that influences the magic they can cast. A Fighter knows how to manipulate the battlefield and imbue himself with skill and strength, because his magic is linked to combat prowess and tactical skill. This is quite different from a Rogue, who learns magic that deals with stealth, guile, and mobility.

Perspective is everything for a spellcaster, hence why most casters have limited spell lists they can learn.

The Death of Magic is Highly Exaggerated
To some, this perspective portents the doom of "full casters". However, those rare few who pursue magic to the exclusion of all else have a mighty benefit over those who access this "thematic magic". Namely, these arcanists can cast any spells the come across, granting superior versatility to other classes.

The Particulars
This take on D&D magic limits all casters to 7th level spells (1 new spell level ever 3 class levels). Additionally, each class has a limited spell list they can potentially learn -- unlike many spontaneous casters, knowledge of all spells on the list is not immediately granted. New spells must be learned through training with other members of the class, or from spell tomes.

Finally, each character has a limit on the number of spell levels worth of spells they can know. This Characteristic, called Spell Memory, is equal to (Character Level x 3) and determines the maximum number of spells you can know. Once maxed out, the character must "forget" some of his spells to learn new spells.

All casters in this system are spontaneous casters who recover all cast spells after a full 8 hours of rest.

2013-09-15, 06:58 PM
Here is the fighter, the my first attempt at adapting the conventional classes to universal casting: