View Full Version : D&D 3.x Other E6 Variant For High Level Casting

2014-05-01, 10:50 PM
A ritual based system that allows E6 spellcasters to team up and spend more time than normally required to cast high level spell up to lvl 9.

The system
I've been looking for a way to allow large groups of spellcasters to cast spells way above their level by working together so that there can be more complex scenarios involving magic and I was unable to do so. I came across some ritual rules (http://p6codex.com/AbridgedP6CodexV0p2.pdf) for pathfinder that allows some degree of high level casting by rituals as I wasn't satisfied with it as it wasn't scalable for higher level spells. So here's what I came up with to combat this.

A spellcaster of level 6 can take any spell of a higher level as a regular feat. (regular 5000 xp cost)
This feat can be taught to other characters that have levels at the same class at a reduced xp cost (possibly 2500) (1 Day per spell level)
Any casters with the same ritual feat can link together to form a circle
Circle's cummulative caster level is calculated as http://www.texify.com/img/%5CLARGE%5C%21%5Cnormalsize%7B%5Csum_%7Bn%3D0%7D%5 E%7Bn%5Crightarrow%20%5Ctext%7BNumber%20of%20Caste rs%7D%7D%5Ctext%7BCaster%27s%20level%7D%2A%280.7%2 9%5En%7D.gif. Rounded down. Elegantly, mathematics causes the cap to be 19, or 20 if rounded up with all lvl6 casters.
If a character of that class in a non E6 game can cast the spell at the circles cummulative level, the circle can also cast that spell. Any spell acts like as if it was cast by a spellcaster of the same level.
I am not entirely sure how to manage the casting time but I am thinking to use 10*casting time. Depending on whether or not I want them to be usable in combat situations I might place a lower cap of 1 hour
The rituals require visible symbols to be drawn on a planar surface in a circle, that glows visibly during casting. I am not sure if certain materials or drawing cost should be imposed. The size of the circle should be dependent on the spell level (imposes minumum) and number of casters (enables size encrease)
For saves, the DC should be 10+Cumulative level+Average ability modifier rolled down or highest ability modifier. That should depend on your world. If you want energies of the whole group to be channeled through a leader, use the leader's score (presumably highest) If everyone has somewhat equal part in casting of the spell use the average.
If any member of the circle loses concentration, the circle loses the spell if their new level is lower than requires.

Some examples
A master mage (lvl6 wizard) and her 3 apprentices (lvl3 wizard) want to create a safe place to conduct their studies.
6+3*0.7+3*0.72+3*0.73=10.59 roll down=10
Hence they form a circle with a caster level of 10 which allows them to cast 5 level spells.
They already have the permenancy ritual and mage's private sanctum ritual feats. By performing the two rituals in about 2.5 hours (100+60) they make an area permanently non scryable.

4 of the best wizards (lvl6)(circle level 15) of the land and their allies unite to imprison a common foe forever. They prepare the signs for the binding (lvl 8 sorcerer/wizard spell, Minimus Containment variant) ritual and lure their opponent there. As in description of the spell they also have 6 lower level casters who are not part of the circle but aid the effort as assistants by casting suggestion (+6 DC). They need 100 minutes to start casting the spell. Their allies either need hold the enemy of or incapacitate her. In the end of 100 minutes casting is done and the DC is 10+4(Int mod. of the leader)+8(spell level)+6 (assistants)-4(Minimus containtment)=28. Quite good for a E6 game. Some reduction of will save during the fight will help.

Overall I think this mechanic will give more power to large groups of spellcasters which probably represent governments, villainous sects etc., provide some utility to players who can gather enough spellcasters or who happen to have 2 spellcasters of the same class in the group and set the groundwork for memorable encounters (eg. second example. though it will a pretty boring encounter for the PC wizard if she's also in the circle, and a very anticlimactic one if the spell fails.)

Non resolved Issues

Circle drawing mechanics, required size, maximum allowed size, time required to draw the circle, material used in drawing of the circle
Casting time mechanics, 10*regular casting time seems to work well but I am considering a mechanic that causes time to go up as more people participate in the circle so 4 lvl 4 casters cast slower than 2 lvl 6 casters. Also increasing the cummulative level may increase the speed.
Maximum rituals per day or any time period. I have no idea what to do with this.

2014-05-02, 09:46 AM
Just a heads up: this system runs directly counter to what is generally thought as the advantage of E6 itself, that is, the general lack of access to high level spells and a campaign world that realistically isn't completely dominated by spellcasters. While 1-20 3.X campaigns suffer from Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards), E6 happens before the singularity point. In fact, level 6 is considered the turning point at which most classes are balanced against each other. Letting spellcasters easily access any high level spell throws that advantage out the window.

To analyze your system, I will compare it directly to the official variant that introduced incantations (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/incantations.htm), which is seen as a reasonable way to introduce a select few high level spells into an E6 campaign.

In your proposed variant, it is way too easy to learn a high level spell: just pick a high level spell, learn it as a feat (which are essentially infinite in E6) and you're done. This gets even more silly when you're teaching your circle: they get the feat for half the cost, essentially being able to learn two high level spells at the cost of just one feat. To top it off, the price is fixed: the cost for learning something as innocuous as discern lies is the same as learning gate. Even if you somehow used a general scaling cost by level, it wouldn't work: the latter is way more powerful than meteor swarm, even though they are the same level. High level spells should be something extremely rare in E6 campaigns, if they even exist at all. Learning them should be left completely up to the DM, not just a feat that any spellcaster might select away.

It is way too fast to cast these spells. You can certainly hold up the opposition for one minute (10 rounds) while you gate in a Solar to wipe out the concept of evil from your game world. It should be extremely hard and time-consuming to cast such a high level spell. Roughly, each new spell level represents an exponential power gain. To a character who can only cast up to 3rd-level spells, 9th-level spells are not just game-changing: they are literally world-shattering. They are the domain of gods and extremely powerful outsiders (who might just as well be gods in an E6 world). Want to call a Solar to cleanse the world of evil? Then prepare to spend a year doing so. And be weary of mishaps!

Lastly, giving access to high level spells only to spellcasters reintroduces a problem in your game and cranks it up to 11. The mundane guys? They aren't even going to hit harder in E6. You are literally hard capping the advancement of some classes and letting others exponentially grow and achieve phenomenal cosmic powers. Note that the official variant does not have this constraint.

Anyways, sorry if I came out as too negative or aggressive, that certainly wasn't my intention. I just wanted to bring attention to what I perceive as fundamental flaws in the system. My perceptions don't mean, however, that such a variant can't be a boon to your game. Just don't be surprised if many E6 players and DMs don't view it as you do.

2014-05-03, 03:42 AM
You are right about the level 9 spells. I personally do not have much experience using them so I couldn't grasp their full potency. I envisioned those feats to be gained through the story and roleplaying so they wouldn't be available to everyone anyway. But for higher levels a tree like progression that requires learning some number of lover level rituals first, exponentially increasing casting times and higher costs might help balance things.

But looking this from the party's perspective, the balance does not change that much as the system is more suited for stationary spellcasters that work in large groups. If a player wants to cast it, unless whole group is of the same class, she needs to look for other high level casters who are willing to spend their time hard earned npc xp for you for most useful spells. And even than, it will only be useful temporarily as they'll need to part ways with the NPCs and the PC ends up with a useless feat. And gameplay-wise, casting a ritual is quite boring as while the caster stands there looking cool, other PCs will be busy with doing stuff normal players do. But even that can be pointed out as a flaw of the system.

And outside the party it seems to make sense for large groups of casters to have devastating effects on the world. But again you are right. It is kinda against the core of E6.

If all fails it is always possible to add specific things that the DM wants to add.

2014-05-03, 05:38 PM
You are right about the level 9 spells. I personally do not have much experience using them so I couldn't grasp their full potency.

Don't worry, that's actually a very common mistake. So common, in fact, that I suspect the game designers themselves never played real D&D at high levels.

About the problem of "one player doing something while the others sit around", a way to go around that is by the other players themselves being able to help in the ritual regardless of being casters or mundanes. Maybe tie it to some skill, and give access to some feat that gives that gives skill points and makes that skill into a class skill. Of course, the main caster would also need to have it.

Be sure to check out the official variant, in any case. It might not be what you're looking for, but it might have a few ideas worth stealing.

2014-05-04, 08:22 AM
The maximum Leadership score I can quickly whip up in E6 is 21 (Level 6 + 6 in general Leadership modifiers + 9 Charisma). Improved Cohort ups the maximum level of the Cohort to level 5.

That gives me 60 1st level followers, 6 2nd, 3 3rd, 2 4th, 1 5th and 1 6th. Oh, and a 5th level cohort.

Even without the horde of level 1 mooks, the cumulative caster level for the circle is 17.

I suggest that you Gate in something that can Wish up some faster ways to get high-level spells, like getting three Candles of Invocation or scrolls of Gate or something. Maybe a staff. That could be neat.

Of course, that's more of an issue with Leadership than something to do with your homebrew. However, this also means that any old Wizard School could whip up a 9th level spell with little issue! I only needed fifteen casters, after all.

Introducing spells of higher level than 4th into an E6 game changes everything.