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View Full Version : What if all spells had a 1 minute recharge (lessons from 5E, Root.)



johnbragg
2019-07-14, 11:41 AM
In 3rd edition, one thing that broke the system-as-intended was that the magic item craft rules meant that you could render "limited spell resources" moot with wands & scrolls. And you could stack long-duration buffs to the sky.

So in 5th edition, you're allocating the following resources: Spells Known/Prepared, Spell Slots, Concentration (one spell at a time). And, your standard action is a limited resource during combat. (Bonus action cheats don't negate this completely--they bend-but-dont-break the rules--you spend SOME limited resource to get that bonus action).

In revamping my next 3rd edition-based homebrew (I like the E6 scaling), I think a lot of spells could be reduced in level if we added another resource constraint:

After a spell is cast, it requires 1 minute to recharge. This means that each spell is effectively limited to once-per-encounter.

On the other hand, this means that you can't spam ANYTHING. So you have to make sure that 1st level casters have enough options to get through a 4-6 round combat without having to say "I dodge!" 3-5 times. (EDIT: Some spells will have to be tagged as spammable--healing spells at least.)

(In the ROOT board game, players can build up to their limit of crafting places. Each place can only be used once per turn, and is "exhausted" when it is used for something. I like having physical objects for my players to help remind them, and flipping a card face-down is very tangible and clear)

johnbragg
2019-07-14, 08:58 PM
I want to sketch out my thoughts on why I'm still hanging on to E6, while bringing in a lot of 5E concepts and tools (some of which started in 4E)

E6 allows me to really think about spell levels. In terms of demographics, 50% of your population is 1st level, 37.5% is 2nd level, about 10% is 3rd level. Looking at spells, 0 and 1st level spells are things that newly minted spellcasters can do. 2nd level spells are things that require a spellcaster at the top levels of their profession. And 3rd level spells are things that are only available to the greatest in the land, powers in their own right.

Spellcasters are resource-limited. They can only know so many spells. (No infinite spellbooks). You can only concentrate on one long-term spell. In combat, casting a spell is a standard action, which means you can't do some other standard action. And spells above 0 level require you to spend a spell slot.

If I look at a spell, and a caster could cast this all day without disrupting the campaign world or being overpowered, I think we have a cantrip. http://www.d20srd.org/srd/spells/treeShape.htm? Cantrip. Go ahead, turn yourself into a tree at will.

So what Beginner spells do have to be 1st level, requiring a spell slot? Ones where the main limitation on the spell is that is has a short duration, like stat boosters. Or healing spells.

2nd level spells have to rate comparison to invisibility, web, silencing enemy spellcasters,

3rd level spells have to rate comparison to fireball, dispel magic, fly, animate dead, gaseous form.

Mark Hall
2019-07-15, 08:51 AM
My first thought: How does this impact wands?

If I have my 1 minute limit fireball, but a wand of fireball, is it a single shot every minute, or does that let me spam?

johnbragg
2019-07-15, 10:21 AM
My first thought: How does this impact wands?

If I have my 1 minute limit fireball, but a wand of fireball, is it a single shot every minute, or does that let me spam?

Hmm. The overarching philosophies are about resource limitation, so Something Must Be Done about wands, scrolls, etc (1). But the 1-minute cooldown is an aspect of spells, the wand is a vessel for the spell. So your wand of fireballs would have a one-minute cooldown. It would, however, be separate from the 1-minute cooldown of a fireball cast from your spell slots.

(1) If Spells Known are a limited resource, then we can drop a lot of spell levels accordingly. If the limits of that resource are trivialized by a Heward's Haversack full of 1st level scrolls, then not so much. See Invisible could be a 1st level or even Oth level spell, if choosing See Invisible actually means you're passing up all of the other choices for that slot. It's a lot more situational than invisibility, so I think it's a lower level spell.

Options: Attunement 5E style, Inventory slots (used in a lot of OSR hacks and systems) , maybe just using the BX value of 500 gp per SL per charge instead of 25 gp.

Mark Hall
2019-07-15, 01:37 PM
And what if I had 10 scrolls of fireball?

johnbragg
2019-07-15, 02:08 PM
And what if I had 10 scrolls of fireball?

Then you could spam fireball.

10 scrolls would probably overstress the ready-access inventory system, but 5 is doable. and if 5 fireballs dont do the job, 20 probably won't either.

hewards Haversack? hmm.....

johnbragg
2019-07-15, 08:33 PM
So, instead of Spell Slots/ Prepared/ Memorized as the limiting factor, for a lot of spells, the 1 minute cooldown is the limiting resource. (Combined with limited Spells Known, and Concentration as a major limiter). If you can cast a spell once-per-fight, how many fights can a PC really get into? (Well....)

Let's look through the SRD and start making tentative choices. What spells need to be limited to a certain number of times per day, and which ones can be safely spammed at 1 minute intervals? (Always-on buffing? Yes, you can Concentrate on one spell indefinitely. If the fighter can walk around all day in armor without needing a chiropractor, the caster can have always-on Detect Magic or Shield etc)

Does this spell need to be limited to a few times a day, or is a one-minute recharge enough? And further, is this a spell that should be Duration: Concentration?

Sor/Wiz 1 Abjurations
Alarm. Limit to X times per day. Could be a Concentration spell, but I think it makes more sense to limit by spell slots.
Endure Elements. Limit. 24 hour duration is essential to the spell, can't just go around making everyone you meet weatherproof.
Hold Portal. Limit. You can't go locking every door in the dungeon behind you for free. Duration, not concentration--this isn't an effect that should wink out if you get hit.
Protection From Evil/Good/Law/Chaos. Limit. "Everyone you meet"
Shield. Spammable. Target is "You".

Sor/Wiz 1 Conjurations
Grease. Limit. Don't want the party covering their tracks with a trail of disappearing grease to deter pursuit.
Mage Armor. Limit. "Everyone you meet"
Mount. Spammable, limited to one at at time. Duration, not concentration--not the sort of thing that should wink out if the caster takes damage
Obscuring Mist. Limit, same idea as Grease.
Summon Monster I. Limit. No conjuring extra party members with infinite lives.
Unseen Servant. Spammable, limited to one at at time. Duration: Concentration.

Mount and Unseen Servant are safe enough if they're limited to one casting at a time.

(List will continue in this post, after discussion in later posts)

Amechra
2019-07-15, 09:38 PM
Honestly, if you have an issue with stacking spells thanks to magic items... why not just change the items in question?

Scrolls: Remove the ability to cast spells from scrolls entirely - an archivist or a wizard can still use them to prepare spells or add spells to their books, but you can't just pick one up and cast spells.

Wands: You could replace them with one of two types of magic items - Runestaves (they require you to spend spell slots to cast the spells they contain) or Eternal Wands (they have two charges that recharge daily, instead of having 50 charges). Either way, you're cutting back on spamming by loads.

johnbragg
2019-07-15, 10:23 PM
Honestly, if you have an issue with stacking spells thanks to magic items... why not just change the items in question?

It's not just magic items. You're stacking buffs from your spell slots, from permanent items. Concentration, the way 5E uses it, is a neat mechanic that solves a lot of that.

It's also the Batman wizard, with a utility belt full of scrolls for every occassion.

And, I've come to believe that a lot of spells are over-leveled, because the designers were working in a 0-9 framework. If you look at it as a 0-1-2-3-nope framework, a spell like helping hand makes no sense at 3rd level. Why can't that be a cantrip?

Amechra
2019-07-15, 10:53 PM
It's not just magic items. You're stacking buffs from your spell slots, from permanent items. Concentration, the way 5E uses it, is a neat mechanic that solves a lot of that.

It's also the Batman wizard, with a utility belt full of scrolls for every occassion.

And, I've come to believe that a lot of spells are over-leveled, because the designers were working in a 0-9 framework. If you look at it as a 0-1-2-3-nope framework, a spell like helping hand makes no sense at 3rd level. Why can't that be a cantrip?

I have to say that I'm not really fond of 5e's Concentration mechanics precisely because it prevents stacking. It's... disheartening to look at your spells known and realize that a lot of them are effectively mutually exclusive. If you can somehow offload concentration onto the target of the spell (for buffs) I'd like it more - otherwise, my job is to keep Haste on the Fighter. Woo.

Besides that, I'm actually not sure what you're trying to achieve with the one-minute-recharge thing - the issue isn't "oh, I'll cast a bunch of Fireballs in rapid succession", it's "oh, I just cast Color Spray/Grease/Sleep/etc and just trivialized the entire encounter". And with the latter set of spells, you just need to cast them once. Unless I'm misreading things and you're actually talking about recharge magic (http://dndsrd.net/unearthedRecharge.html), except with everything set to recharge after one minute.

Batman Wizard gets nerfed heavily if they can't just load up on scrolls to cast from without burning their own spell slots - that's why I suggested making scrolls effectively one-page spell books.

If you want to really nerf spellcasters, don't let Clerics and Druids pick from their entire spell list each time they prepare spells, limit prepared spells to one copy per level (so you could have Magic Missile prepped as a 1st level spell and Heightened Magic Missile as a 2nd level spell, but you couldn't have two 1st level Magic Missiles), and ban Rope Trick╣.

---

Honestly, you're going to have to fiddle with the levels of quite a few spells. I remember seeing some people suggest taking the entire school of Evocation and shifting it down one level - Scorching Ray at 1st, Fireball at 2nd, that kind of thing. I think that's a little extreme, but... be careful going down that rabbit hole.

╣ Seriously, screw Rope Trick. It singlehandedly enables the whole "five minute adventuring day" thing from 1st level.

johnbragg
2019-07-16, 09:39 AM
I have to say that I'm not really fond of 5e's Concentration mechanics precisely because it prevents stacking. It's... disheartening to look at your spells known and realize that a lot of them are effectively mutually exclusive. If you can somehow offload concentration onto the target of the spell (for buffs) I'd like it more - otherwise, my job is to keep Haste on the Fighter. Woo.

You have one Concentration spell running. You have your action for damage spells, one-round buffs and debuffs, in-combat healing to keep party members up and keep the action economy in your favor.


Besides that, I'm actually not sure what you're trying to achieve with the one-minute-recharge thing - the issue isn't "oh, I'll cast a bunch of Fireballs in rapid succession",

No, that's the direct issue that the 1-minute recharge is addressing. That gameplay is kinda boring, and I'm exploring the second-order effects of an alternative to it. It's also a simpler mechanic for players to keep track of (part of the larger project of just *simplifying* things so that new players can keep track of what they're supposed to be doing.)


it's "oh, I just cast Color Spray/Grease/Sleep/etc and just trivialized the entire encounter". And with the latter set of spells, you just need to cast them once.

That's a separate set of problems.


Unless I'm misreading things and you're actually talking about recharge magic (http://dndsrd.net/unearthedRecharge.html), except with everything set to recharge after one minute.

That's a good summary of the basis of the thread. Recharge magic is new to me, but it seems to accomplish the same goal as the 1-minute recharge, with a LOT more text. For spells that need to be limited, I think Spell Slots (or spell points or mana) is still a good way to limit them.


Batman Wizard gets nerfed heavily if they can't just load up on scrolls to cast from without burning their own spell slots - that's why I suggested making scrolls effectively one-page spell books.

I'm intrigued by the idea of having to use spell slots to cast from a scroll.


If you want to really nerf spellcasters, don't let Clerics and Druids pick from their entire spell list each time they prepare spells, limit prepared spells to one copy per level (so you could have Magic Missile prepped as a 1st level spell and Heightened Magic Missile as a 2nd level spell, but you couldn't have two 1st level Magic Missiles), and ban Rope Trick╣.

That's a separate part of the project, casters are all spontaneous with a certain number of Spells Known. There's an off-list casting-at-a-cost mechanic, and a share-the-pain mechanic to justify all those acolytes higher level casters keep around for some reason (mostly to share the backlash damage from casting-at-a-cost.)

---


Honestly, you're going to have to fiddle with the levels of quite a few spells. I remember seeing some people suggest taking the entire school of Evocation and shifting it down one level - Scorching Ray at 1st, Fireball at 2nd, that kind of thing. I think that's a little extreme, but... be careful going down that rabbit hole.

Yeah, I'm going down that rabbit hole, actually. I'm going through the SRD (above). E6 makes that daunting but not impossible. (Almost done redoing all damage-dealing spells from the ground up in a vaguely systematic way)


[SIZE=1]Seriously, screw Rope Trick. It singlehandedly enables the whole "five minute adventuring day" thing from 1st level.
It's a second level spell, but agreed, no Rope Trick.

johnbragg
2019-07-16, 11:14 AM
As a matter of preference, I'd rather spend many hours deciding whether 200-300 spells belong at 0 level (available to novice casters, no limits), 1st level (available to novice casters, but limited to a few times/day), 2nd level (veteran caster, limited) or 3rd level (grand master level caster, limited) than spend time at the table during play looking up recharge times or tracking how many rounds until a spell is available again after rolling d4 or d4+1.

johnbragg
2019-07-16, 05:39 PM
Continuing to go through the SRD.

If Spells Known were a meaningful limitation, what spells could be cantrips (1 minute cooldown)? What spells would still have to require a spell slot? And what spells make sense as Concentration spells?

1st level Divinations.
Comprehend Languages: 0 level, concentration.
Detect Secret Doors: 0 level, concentration.
Detect Undead: 0 level, concentration
Identify M: 0 level, if it's even a spell. Long casting time. 5E has it as a ritual.
True Strike: 1st level. But I had to argue with myself.

Or is this a once-per-encounter spell? Maybe 0th level. Does it make ambushes too deadly, when the first arrow is an automatic hit? Hmmm. If it's 0th level, players can argue it's their always-on buff, get True Strike at the beginning of every combat without spending a combat-round action.

johnbragg
2019-07-16, 06:47 PM
1st level Sor/Wiz

Enchantments
Charm Person, Hypnotism: Limited. This line of spells swings from useless to wildly overpowered, depending on what the DM rules it can and can't do. But if you ever hit the sweet spot, it's not something to spam all day all over town / the dungeon.
Sleep: Limited. Too much chance of trivializing an encounter before it begins.

Evocations
Burning Hands, Magic Missile, Shocking Grasp. I think these can be 0 level spells, frankly. Usable once per combat, for as many combats as you can go out and find.
Floating Disk: 0 level, but you can only have one.

Illusions
Color Spray: Multi-target knockout spell. Limited.
Disguise Self: I'm tempted to make this 0 level. Pick it as one of your superpowers, go ahead.
Magic Aura: If you don't drop the spell entirely, limited. Otherwise the player who takes the spell will paint the entire town/dungeon with it.
Silent Image: Limited.
Ventriloquism: 0 level. This is the sort of thing a wizard SHOULD be doing all day, even if it annoys the DM.