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View Full Version : Soul burn and Brain burn: Hurt in a low magic campain.



Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 05:31 PM
Friends and countrymen, lend me your geeky reasoning.

I am running a low magic Faerun game, long story, involves the killing of most of the gods. While my players can play casters, they pay a price for it. The advantage is that nothing else in the world is magic, there are no very high level magical monsters, and no magic armor to protect people. The disadvantage being that since there is no weave anymore the spell energy draws directly off of their soul. Thus for every level a spell it, they roll a d6, total the dice, and take that out of their con score, to be naturally healed later, if they survive.

My question:
Regarding that system, how do I make psionics work, should they do the same thing, or could you claim that they are burning thier brain and loose intellegence (when they drop to zero they become catatonic). Any ideas regarding this would be appreciated.

This is NOT a discussion on the system, but how I would work the psionics along the same like.

Grimfist
2007-10-10, 05:39 PM
Friends and countrymen, lend me your geeky reasoning.

I am running a low magic Faerun game, long story, involves the killing of most of the gods. While my players can play casters, they pay a price for it. The advantage is that nothing else in the world is magic, there are no very high level magical monsters, and no magic armor to protect people. The disadvantage being that since there is no weave anymore the spell energy draws directly off of their soul. Thus for every level a spell it, they roll a d6, total the dice, and take that out of their con score, to be naturally healed later, if they survive.

My question:
Regarding that system, how do I make psionics work, should they do the same thing, or could you claim that they are burning thier brain and loose intellegence (when they drop to zero they become catatonic). Any ideas regarding this would be appreciated.

Err, but to cast a 9th level spell wouldn't they be losing 27 con on average?

I realize you want to limit things, but I don't think that pretty much instant death for casting one spell is what you had in mind...

Edit: As for the psionics thing, though, I don't think making them burn their primary casting ability (assuming psion) is a great idea either.

DownwardSpiral
2007-10-10, 05:45 PM
Ok, can you clarifiy that? You make it sound like for every spell they cast, they roll a d6 and burn that much off their con. Now, if that's right, you are a madman. That's like 3 spells, if you're lucky.

If that's not it, then ignore that. :smallsmile:

With psionics, burning your int might be a bigger problem, because psions use that as their casting stat. The other classes won't be effected as much, because they use wis and cha. burning int for a wilder might be easier on them because it effects.... skills. And skill points. What you should do is maybe make them use their casting stat instead, and play it off as if it's coming from their personality/ego(cha) or their soul or inner calm(wis).

Edit: Arg, ninja'd.

Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 05:53 PM
You guys have it right, and I'm aware its harsh, but like I said, there is no weave and you burn off of your soul. This mechanic has been tried and tested and proven to be effective and fun. Makes casters greatly powerful and possibly sacrificial for the group.

I was iffy on burning int because as you said it is the manifesting stat, but I'm not sure what else to burn. Maybe Wis or Cha?

MeklorIlavator
2007-10-10, 05:57 PM
You guys have it right, and I'm aware its harsh, but like I said, there is no weave and you burn off of your soul. This mechanic has been tried and tested and proven to be effective and fun. Makes casters greatly powerful and possibly sacrificial for the group.


I fail to see how casting a 3rd level spell and dying makes casters powerful. A Second level spell even has a decent chance of causing death.

Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 06:00 PM
Well, in a world where there is no magic armor, or way to really avoid the pure destructive magic. Where you won't be going up against any of the big magical meanies, it works very well. I have played it before, it works, trust me. Dealing with how you like the system is not the topic of the thread though.

Quietus
2007-10-10, 06:01 PM
I'd make it that they take subdual damage, instead. Still a chance of them passing out, which is dangerous, but I don't know anyone who'd want to take 3d6 con to cast a fireball.

Dr. Weasel
2007-10-10, 06:03 PM
Do players voice any interest in playing casters in your campaigns? Ever?

The only way to heal ability damage (beyond taking the caster-narcolepsy intrinsic to the 3.5 system to an extreme) is using more spells... which would cause more ability damage.

This is too much of a nerf for casters to remain PC classes. As such, you probably don't need any set rules at all: just let NPCs cast spells a bit more conservatively than normal and be done with it.

de-trick
2007-10-10, 06:14 PM
I know of a 3.0 spell casting class the chaos mage, that takes damage from spells but not as bad as what you have

Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 06:18 PM
You can heal ability damage through rest 1 point per 8 hours of sleep. But once again, not my question.

Kyeudo
2007-10-10, 06:31 PM
You are mad. Why would anyone, even someone who believes that magic is too strong, ever EVER want to play a caster under your system, even if, as you say, all magical defenses have disapeared? Its ludicris!

If you want to play low magic, just ban the caster classes. If you want to be a jerk, just arbitrarily kill their charcters. Don't disguise it as some sort of plot device.

I wash my hands of you. I could answer your actual question, but then I would be party to a rediculous nerf, which I won't burden my conscience with.

Your probably also one of those people who think playing a commoner with a 4 con is fun and that playing anything that's actualy good at your class's job is anathema to roleplaying.

DownwardSpiral
2007-10-10, 06:34 PM
I was iffy on burning int because as you said it is the manifesting stat, but I'm not sure what else to burn. Maybe Wis or Cha?

Wilders need cha. Phycic warriors need wis. It won't help. The only way it would work is if there's only or two guys, and you did it that stat that they don't need. Then it's....ok. I guess. The system is flawed to begin with.

From the way that you describe it, it's 1d6 per spell level. 3d6 for a fireball. 1 ability recovered per night. that's like 1 fireball every 8-9 days on average. Also, con effects hitpoints. Even though they're dropped to one con, that -4 mod will drop in the hitpoints category considerably, especially since they're....casters.

Zanatos777
2007-10-10, 06:36 PM
I would have to suggest just using intelligence since they won't live long anyway given your system. Man I thought my DM dealing us con drain (only undone by wish or miracle, we're level 6-8) for dying was bad (in addition to the normal penalties)

Edit: I agree with Kyeudo. You should just ban casters and psionics in such a system.

Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 06:37 PM
You are mad. Why would anyone, even someone who believes that magic is too strong, ever EVER want to play a caster under your system, even if, as you say, all magical defenses have disapeared? Its ludicris!

If you want to play low magic, just ban the caster classes. If you want to be a jerk, just arbitrarily kill their charcters. Don't disguise it as some sort of plot device.

I wash my hands of you. I could answer your actual question, but then I would be party to a rediculous nerf, which I won't burden my conscience with.

Your probably also one of those people who think playing a commoner with a 4 con is fun and that playing anything that's actualy good at your class's job is anathema to roleplaying.

You have some serious anger problems man, my friends enjoy, I don't have to please you. I am asking a question, which I would like opinions on. I suggest that you calm down and stop looking at this thread if it bothers you so much. To all of you saner fourmers, any help with my actual question?

Dr. Weasel
2007-10-10, 06:40 PM
Perhaps apply the damage to the manifesting stat (whichever it is) to keep balance between the classes.

The Glyphstone
2007-10-10, 06:46 PM
^Agreed, or for casters, the spellcasting stat.

Honestly, I'm going to have to agree with the other people here basically...no caster of any sort is going to have any real utility or usage if they can cast a single Magic Missile (or Grease, or Color Spray) then be in danger of killing themselves with another one. CON damage for spells just means that no one will play casters (well, not twice at least) in that game.

If you're dead set on the stat drain for "soulburn" (which is a neat concept, I once tried to make a magic system based on a similar idea that used naturally healing nonlethal damage instead), make it deal damage to their primary casting stat (INT for Wizards or Psions, WIS for Clerics or Psywarriors, INT for Psions, CHA for Wilders or Sorcerers). That way, they can get pretty stupid/useless for casting really fast, but they're not likely to actively kill themselves with one or two bad rolls (or just make it so a single Kobold with Sling can potentially oneshot them...A 3rd level wizard with starting 10 CON who nails himself for 6 CON damage now has 3 HP - very dangerous.)

Kyeudo
2007-10-10, 06:47 PM
You have some serious anger problems man, my friends enjoy, I don't have to please you. I am asking a question, which I would like opinions on. I suggest that you calm down and stop looking at this thread if it bothers you so much. To all of you saner fourmers, any help with my actual question?

No, I have a serious problem when people take a hammer to what game balance currently exists in D&D, when its so fragile already. What grade are your friends in? Kindergarten? Pre-School? They must not know any better, I guess.

Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 06:49 PM
No, I have a serious problem when people take a hammer to what game balance currently exists in D&D, when its so fragile already. What grade are your friends in? Kindergarten? Pre-School? They must not know any better, I guess.

It would be healthier just to ignore you if you are going to step to insults against people you don't know.

Dr. Weasel
2007-10-10, 06:52 PM
You say your friends enjoy this. Do they actually play casters themselves?

If so, do you involve combat or other situations requiring spell expenditure?

I wouldn't think anyone would enjoy using only their weakest class abilities and only using those about twice per week.

OOTS_Rules.
2007-10-10, 06:56 PM
I think you should lose your casting stat instead of Con, as Con is just kinda rediculous. Also, it should regenerate every 3 rounds, and spell levels 1-3 drain 1d6, 4-6 drain 1d10, and 7-9 drain 2d6 to make it less, well, lethal.

Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 06:57 PM
You say your friends enjoy this. Do they actually play casters themselves?

If so, do you involve combat or other situations requiring spell expenditure?

I wouldn't think anyone would enjoy using only their weakest class abilities and only using those about twice per week.

Few choose it but some of my friends have. My campains are normally not just hack and dungeon crawlers. They often have time to regain stats. I am liking the idea about subdual though. My friends actually like the challenge of it, it balences the incredible power of magic with the low power of melee. Not nessecerily a balence that has to be made, but thats just us.

MeklorIlavator
2007-10-10, 07:04 PM
Few choose it but some of my friends have. My campains are normally not just hack and dungeon crawlers. They often have time to regain stats. I am liking the idea about subdual though. My friends actually like the challenge of it, it balences the incredible power of magic with the low power of melee. Not nessecerily a balence that has to be made, but thats just us.

You do realize that if Con reaches zero, the character dies, right? That means that with the average con score for a Caster(14), 1 third level spell and a first level one could kill him? Or that the lower score means that they'll die in one hit?

Dr. Weasel
2007-10-10, 07:05 PM
Yeah, it isn't that bad an idea to give a bit of a penalty for casting, but tone it way back.

Even just 1 Con damage per spell level is far too much in normal settings.

It sounds you've drastically nerfed your entire campaign world, but still your changes seem to be beyond mere overkill.

Riffington
2007-10-10, 07:07 PM
I am thinking about it, and it seems that this will work much less well for psionics than for magic. Psionics has much more MAD to begin with - a wizard can (and should anyway) have a high CON in case they are struck. The psychic probably has multiple necessary stats. Also a lot of psionics is buff-self, which will be less useful when you must debuff yourself to use it.
Besides, it thematically works less well for psionics to exist. Magic is manipulation of an external power, which you must supply yourself since said power is in short supply. Psionics is internal to begin with.

To all you naysayers, I think you are overlooking how much of an advantage it is to have magic when nobody else does. Imagine sending your fighter into a ranged combat with "Protection from Arrows". Everyone thinks they are unlucky when the arrows bounce off his platemail, so they continue shooting as he picks them off one by one. Or if they realize it's a spell, they think he's magically immune to attacks, they would sure as hell not go to close range with him - they break and run.

Illusions in a world where nobody knows that illusions can exist?

Invisibility, Silence, Open Locks... no security systems are designed to deal with such measures...

It's a tough line to draw between "magic is too powerful" and "magic is too costly" if the characters are the only ones capable of magic. If this author says he is pulling it off, don't be mean.

Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 07:08 PM
You do realize that if Con reaches zero, the character dies, right? That means that with the average con score for a Caster(14), 1 third level spell and a first level one could kill him? Or that the lower score means that they'll die in one hit?

Of course I realize that. Any caster in my campain tries to put a high score in that slot. Casters are normally in the background anyway, and the group is good about protecting the casters.

Rigel Cyrosea
2007-10-10, 07:08 PM
I don't want to insult you, but I have to agree with everyone else here. Considerable Con damage for every spell is just ... too much, in my opinion.

To answer your question, if you have to burn ability scores for psionics, I would sugest burning the ability score the psion's speciality is tied to. (ie. Dex for psychoportation, cha for telepathy, int for metacreativity, etc...)

Yodaman23
2007-10-10, 07:10 PM
I am thinking about it, and it seems that this will work much less well for psionics than for magic. Psionics has much more MAD to begin with - a wizard can (and should anyway) have a high CON in case they are struck. The psychic probably has multiple necessary stats. Also a lot of psionics is buff-self, which will be less useful when you must debuff yourself to use it.
Besides, it thematically works less well for psionics to exist. Magic is manipulation of an external power, which you must supply yourself since said power is in short supply. Psionics is internal to begin with.

To all you naysayers, I think you are overlooking how much of an advantage it is to have magic when nobody else does. Imagine sending your fighter into a ranged combat with "Protection from Arrows". Everyone thinks they are unlucky when the arrows bounce off his platemail, so they continue shooting as he picks them off one by one. Or if they realize it's a spell, they think he's magically immune to attacks, they would sure as hell not go to close range with him - they break and run.

Illusions in a world where nobody knows that illusions can exist?

Invisibility, Silence, Open Locks... no security systems are designed to deal with such measures...

It's a tough line to draw between "magic is too powerful" and "magic is too costly" if the characters are the only ones capable of magic. If this author says he is pulling it off, don't be mean.


You have it to a T my friend. Very well said, I do play NPCs acting appropriatly towards magic in the campain so it is very demorilizing to them.

Krrth
2007-10-10, 07:11 PM
Since d6 con pe rlevel is quite lethal, perhaps 1hp/spell level instead? Undead, who cannot take con damage, have just jumped in power quite a bit.

Rigel Cyrosea
2007-10-10, 07:16 PM
Since d6 con pe rlevel is quite lethal, perhaps 1hp/spell level instead? Undead, who cannot take con damage, have just jumped in power quite a bit.
That's a good point. Liches just became the most powerful enemies in the game. Every PC in your campaign should undergo the rite of crucimigration! (turns them undead at the cost of a level):smallbiggrin:

Krrth
2007-10-10, 07:20 PM
That's a good point. Liches just became the most powerful enemies in the game. Every PC in your campaign should undergo the rite of crucimigration! (turns them undead at the cost of a level):smallbiggrin:

Heh. A good reason for taking level adjustments for casters.

Zanatos777
2007-10-10, 07:23 PM
Good point Liches would become invincible.

Grod_The_Giant
2007-10-10, 07:48 PM
I think burning Charisma (mental strength) for Psions is reasonable (not saying I like the rules, or think they're balanced, but if it's fun for you and your group, go for it :smallbiggrin: !)

SurlySeraph
2007-10-10, 07:56 PM
I'd have psionic characters also burn Con. Keeping things consistent usually makes them more balanced.

Tangentially, though I have to agree that 1d6 Con damage per spell level is a LOT. 1 or 2 Con damage per spell level would be more balanced - and, in fact, would be a pretty good way to put the full casters back on par with the normal classes.

The_Snark
2007-10-10, 08:10 PM
Just a comment for those who keep saying it makes casters useless: Do you really think that spellcasters are going to be playing like a normal spellcaster would? I suspect most PCs would be multiclassed, since having high spell levels and many spells per day is fairly useless in this setting. That doesn't make it a bad setting.

You wouldn't have a party wizard, you'd have a rogue with a couple levels of wizard, or a paladin instead of a cleric (if you have clerics, with gods gone). Characters can't rely on spells, so they don't pick a class that has to rely on spells. Those who invested a level or two in a spellcasting class have some emergency firepower/surprise capabilities.

Note- Undead spellcasters should take Cha damage rather than Con damage, to prevent liches from ruling the world.

Psions... Tricky, since mental ability damage seems appropriate, but all three stats are relied on by some psionic classes. You could vary it by class.

Wilders (and others who use Charisma as their manifesting stat) burn Wisdom, as the power they're channeling reduces their ability to comprehend the world.

Psychic warriors (and others who use Wisdom) burn Intelligence, enhancing their body at the cost of their mind as they revert to more simplistic thought patterns.

Psions (and others who use Intelligence) burn Charisma, as the power they create renders them less able to relate to the world around them.

The stats I chose could be switched around fairly easily, but here's why I chose the ones I did:

First, remember that this makes the stat an important secondary stat for psions. The best psychic warriors are now clever tacticians, the best wilders are stable people so as to better be able to restrain their power, and the best psions are forceful people, capable of imposing their will on the world around them.

Second, I looked at the effect manifesting would have. A wilder would grow less and less sane as her emotions began to grow wild. A psychic warrior would become less able to think and plan, more bestial. A psion would grow cold, distant, and inhuman.

Interesting... This actually makes for a good balancing factor between magic and psionics. On the one hand, spellcasters focus on a high Con, which gives more hit points, while manifesters have to invest in a mental stat that probably doesn't give them much. But psionics functions better in this setting inherently, because powers are augmented. A 10d6 energy ray is still only a 1st-level power, dealing 1d6 ability burn; to do that much damage with a spell, you have to use a 3rd-level spell. And of course, it's safer to try and overextend manifesting abilities than spellcasting abilities.

Arbitrarity
2007-10-10, 08:22 PM
All casters who want necropolitan, say "aye"
"aye!"
"aye!"
"aye!"
"aye!"
"aye!"
"aye!"

Thank you, the poll as been done :smallwink: . We just need libris mortis. Oh, and if it's not allowed, everyone play ToB. Or make binders with spellcasting dips, for rapid ability heal.


Note- Undead spellcasters should take Cha damage rather than Con damage, to prevent liches from ruling the world.

Nope. Note the immunity to ability damage. Write in a clause about bypassing immunity to ability damage, then we're talking.

Starsinger
2007-10-10, 08:44 PM
[Okay, first of all.. let me get this out of the way right now. I think this is insane, and that you were bullied by primary spell casters growing up, which has left you with this burning desire to unduly punish them.

Now that that's out.. I think if everyone else burns con, why not have psions? Of course, your soul burn fluff fails because psions don't utilize the weave.. So.. Psychic backlash?

Also... how do 0 level spells work in your system? d3 con damage, or is it free from the weave burning of doom?

Clementx
2007-10-10, 09:07 PM
Nope. Note the immunity to ability damage. Write in a clause about bypassing immunity to ability damage, then we're talking.
Actually, undead are immune to ability drain and Str, Dex, or Con damage. So nothing has to be changed.

Oh, and in passing- Con damage is freaking ridiculous.

Arbitrarity
2007-10-10, 09:12 PM
Drat :smallfrown: Must be mixing it up with construct.

Ralfarius
2007-10-10, 09:22 PM
1 - Isn't psionics in FR pretty extra-rare? It would be just as sensible to bar psionics.
2 - The drain is just too harsh to leave magic with any sort of practicality. If you really want to stick with it, some manner of mitigating factor should be considered; for instance, a fortitude save to lessen/negate the drain every time a spell is cast.

You have to look at it objectively. Human(oid)s are not unreasonable creatures. Magic sees heavy use in a fantasy setting like FR because it makes much more possible than what would be with an equal investment of physical labour and effort. Actually casting has little downside to the spellcaster.

However, if casting even the most basic spells more than four times in a span of days carried always carried a serious risk of death, who would continue practicing? It seems to me that the art itself would basically be abandoned, because the detriments greatly exceed any benefit. If no one is practicing, how would one be able to learn? Why would they even bother to cast a spell at all? They might as well take the potential time investment and put it towards alchemical development. Magic just isn't a sane choice, when a colour spray can cut your level 1 health by 1/5 or more, without a enemy even touching you.

Basically, either bar psionics or make all the drain the same across the board. Also, consider making it less monumentally harsh.

serow
2007-10-10, 10:23 PM
Perhaps 1d6 non-resistable (to get around the undead/constructs/etc immunities) non-lethal damage per spell level?

Let's let the 0-th level spells be free, surely there shouldn't be a problem with PCs casting 0-th level spells.

And besides, with Touch of Healing, it might make the casters much more playable?

malcolm
2007-10-10, 10:25 PM
I think you've done a good job in finding a stat that every caster needs to be aware of, CON. In my opinion it would be most reasonable to have Psionics and indeed all forms of magic act in a similar way, blow up the CON score.

I admit it sounds like an interesting and challenging way to run magic in a campaign, I am intrigued. I think the biggest problem would be a constant micro-management of the player's Hit Points, since they will constantly be shifting max HP up and down as they gain and lose CON. You might consider letting the casters keep their current HP as temporary HP when they take CON damage.

For example a wizard with 14 CON has 20 max HP at level 4, and he takes 2 CON damage. This would make his max HP drop down to 16, but I'm suggesting you could let him stay at 20, and those extra 4HP count as temporary HP so he can only be healed up to the max of 16 until he refreshes his CON score. Either way it will be a lot of book keeping, but it sounds like you are playing with reasonable and trustworthy players (unlike some of the posters here) so you should be fine.

GryffonDurime
2007-10-10, 10:45 PM
Not to go against the grain, but I like this general idea.

What? Those who know me know me as a crazed spellcaster-lover. I love spellcasters. They are, by and large, the only thing I play.

But this creates an interesting setting more akin to something Tolkeinish...the magic is there, certainly. But you've got the strength to pull off something truly amazing once, maybe twice a week. The rest of the time? You've got skills. You've got swords of your own. Maybe not so much if you're burning Constitution, especially at this rate. I think it could be toned down, or changed to match the suggested psionics spread from the Snark; it's cleaner and it lets the spellcasters contribute outside of their occassional spellbursts. If not, do consider reducing the damage to 1d4 or less...1d6 per level is just a bit much.

VerdugoExplode
2007-10-11, 12:53 AM
Alright, fear not, I have a solution.

After many hours of consideration I have realized that playing a caster in your campaign is tantamount to suicide. A slow and painful suicide made all the worse due to its self inflicted nature. The casters are just going to need to make several copies of their character sheets every level so the campaign will progress as follows.

DM: You see a group of monsters!

Caster(We'll call him Ed): I cast a level 3 spell! Blargh! *dies*

Random stranger: Greetings adventurers, I am Ted, the traveling wizard, I see your group needs help! I cast fireball! Blargh! *also dies*

Random stranger 2: Greetings adventurers! I am Fred, Jed etc.

This way its all the fun of playing the caster in a system that's designed to destroy even the lowliest of casters in horrific ways.

Of course if I were in his campaign I would just whip up some tome of battle awesomeness and rule the planet, seeing as how there would be zero arcane competition.

As an addendum: Doesn't Dragonlance already have an optional rule like this? Well, not this insane but similar in effect, doing subdual damage on a failed save or something to that effect? Called the curse of the magi if I recall correctly.

The_Snark
2007-10-11, 01:14 AM
To everyone who keeps harping on about how full casters are unplayable and you couldn't even cast a single fireball without risking your life...

Yes! That's the point! You don't play a character who relies on spells in a fight, because those characters die. The people who did that are all dead. Any player character has to have an alternative to casting spells.

Honestly, I don't see this kind of response when people say they banned wizards, clerics, and druids from their campaign. Nor do I see it when people mention Call of Cthulu, which will drive any character who uses spells too freely insane. It's not a campaign in which you play a straight caster who can't fight. That's the setting, and the players, from what we've heard, like it. The original poster (presumably) did not spring this on the players after they'd rolled up characters, or in the middle of the game to nerf the wizards.

It's low-magic. Personally, I like it; it gives magic a much more dramatic feeling. Increasing the power of spells would also give players a reason to take a couple levels of wizard or sorcerer, but I like the idea behind it, and the potentially lethal execution.

Edit- And you know, it would work nicely in a Fritz Leiber-inspired setting, too.

Khanderas
2007-10-11, 01:50 AM
To everyone who keeps harping on about how full casters are unplayable and you couldn't even cast a single fireball without risking your life...

Yes! That's the point! You don't play a character who relies on spells in a fight, because those characters die. The people who did that are all dead. Any player character has to have an alternative to casting spells.

Honestly, I don't see this kind of response when people say they banned wizards, clerics, and druids from their campaign. Nor do I see it when people mention Call of Cthulu, which will drive any character who uses spells too freely insane. It's not a campaign in which you play a straight caster who can't fight. That's the setting, and the players, from what we've heard, like it. The original poster (presumably) did not spring this on the players after they'd rolled up characters, or in the middle of the game to nerf the wizards.

It's low-magic. Personally, I like it; it gives magic a much more dramatic feeling. Increasing the power of spells would also give players a reason to take a couple levels of wizard or sorcerer, but I like the idea behind it, and the potentially lethal execution.

Edit- And you know, it would work nicely in a Fritz Leiber-inspired setting, too.
I was going to write that, but you did it better.

The point here is that magic is hard, dependency on magic items is all but nullified and even casters can do something else. Magic is a hidden, powerful bonus and wont ever be a necessity (since the DR no longer take +1 or the such into account anymore).

DruchiiConversion
2007-10-11, 05:43 AM
I quite like it.

But some things need changing. Like you say, casters aren't going to use their spells in normal battle. That would just be stupidity, they'd die every time. So what ARE they going to do in battle? With a d4 hit dice, half BAB and no proficiencies, not much.

So simply buff up the Wizard/Sorcerer/etc to Cleric levels - d8 hit dice, 3/4BAB. Then you've got a secondary combat character who can occasionally pull out something truly amazing at great cost to himself. Sounds a little like Gandalf to me.

Neon Knight
2007-10-11, 06:44 AM
To everyone who keeps harping on about how full casters are unplayable and you couldn't even cast a single fireball without risking your life...

Yes! That's the point! You don't play a character who relies on spells in a fight, because those characters die. The people who did that are all dead. Any player character has to have an alternative to casting spells.

Honestly, I don't see this kind of response when people say they banned wizards, clerics, and druids from their campaign. Nor do I see it when people mention Call of Cthulu, which will drive any character who uses spells too freely insane. It's not a campaign in which you play a straight caster who can't fight. That's the setting, and the players, from what we've heard, like it. The original poster (presumably) did not spring this on the players after they'd rolled up characters, or in the middle of the game to nerf the wizards.

It's low-magic. Personally, I like it; it gives magic a much more dramatic feeling. Increasing the power of spells would also give players a reason to take a couple levels of wizard or sorcerer, but I like the idea behind it, and the potentially lethal execution.

Edit- And you know, it would work nicely in a Fritz Leiber-inspired setting, too.

This isn't comparable to CoC because in CoC, you are supposed to die or go insane. That's practically the point of the game. No one minds if their character goes insane because if he didn't go insane casting spells, he'd probably get eaten by a Shoggoth or something. Death or insanity is a matter of when, not if.

If he'd just banned spellcasters, I wouldn't have a problem with it. If spellcasters attempt to employ their abilities, they drastically reduce their chances of survival. This change feels as if he's not trying to make a low magic setting, it feels like he's trying to actively punish anyone who has an interest playing a spellcaster.

This is DnD, not Paranoia. Most people expect a reasonably high chance of survival so long as they do everything right. They probably expect combat with some moderate frequency, seeing as how the system is based off of roughly 4 encounters a day. Under this set of expectations, this alterations appear insane. I don't know, maybe he only has a battle once a week. That might give someone enough time to fully recover. It would still be psycho to cast even the weakest of spells.

This not low magic; this is effectively no magic, with the caveat that anyone who does try to spellcast will be punished. Only a suicidal fool would try to cast spells under these conditions.

I don't mind spellcasters having a cost to their spellcasting, but the magnitude of this particular burden is too great to be reasonably borne.

And I say all this as a man who personally does not like spellcasting.

Kay, I'm done with that. Now, on to the main point. Psionic people should suffer no soul burn because their power does not come from the Weave. It comes from themselves. So, you should probably just ban psionics, or alter their fluff.

Bender
2007-10-11, 07:08 AM
I would play in a setting like that. Probably some levels in bard or sorcerer, but always multiclassed and never as primary class.

For psionics I vote for the same treatment as wizards: con. For augmenting spells, they could take subdual damage on top of that.

I don't think a Lich would exist in a very low magic setting, since they rely on very high magic, so no problem there.

just a few questions out of interest: how do you handle supernatural and spell-like abilities. For example, bardic music could be very powerful in this setting. Or a gnome's spell-like abilities...
And what about material components: nobody knows about them, so how do PC's acquire them? Same goes for materials for crafting (which might of course be completely impossible, imagine being able to brew a potion of cure light wounds and selling it to kings for 1000's of gold pieces)
Wizards: they study in wizard schools; there are no wizard schools... I'd only allow sorcerers or similar, since they can learn it themselves.

leperkhaun
2007-10-11, 07:17 AM
honestly i dont think it play in this campagin. ehhhh, i think the point was to not play a caster, bieng able to do one super thing (weeeee i get 2 fireballs a week) twice a week is......... then doing other stuff subpar the rest of the week.

Time for the VoP Monk.

Anyway my concern would be this. How do you deal with creatures with damage reduction?

Bender
2007-10-11, 07:27 AM
Time for the VoP Monk.

That thought occurred to me as well :smallcool:

Azerian Kelimon
2007-10-11, 07:43 AM
Man, this is bad. Really bad. As everyone said, banning magic at least makes your intentions clear. This system, however, fools people into thinking they still can play casters, which is not such the case.


And, for this apocalyptic FR, lemme bring Azerian Kelrain, my ECL 100 swordsage and other things, as a level 19 swordy. And lemme prep my step of the dancing moth stance, time stands still, girallon windmill flesh rip, and raging mongoose. And now, if I win init, I leave everyone in shame. At level 5, I'll be stronger than ol' Elminster. If you go this way, you'll also have to ban the nonmagical blade magic of ToB, truenaming, and more. This isn't good.


If you are hellbent on a system like this, make it this way. You can cast a number of spell per day, and a number of those spells go per level, as in, you can cast 1 level 9 spell per day without drawbacks at level 18, nd 6 1st level spells, 4 3rd level spells, and so on and so forth. You can also cast as much as you want, but after you pass the selected number, you take special penalties. First spell over the mark, 1 con damage. Second spell, 1d3. Third one, 1d6. Fourth one, 1 level drain. Fifth one, death. This way, casters are limited, while still a potentially useful force.

Indon
2007-10-11, 08:54 AM
Personally, I would just use the spell point variant (which gives casters a pool of points like psionicists), then cut the points substancially, like 2/3'rds or something.

leperkhaun
2007-10-11, 09:57 AM
honestly i dont think it play in this campagin. ehhhh, i think the point was to not play a caster, bieng able to do one super thing (weeeee i get 2 fireballs a week) twice a week is......... then doing other stuff subpar the rest of the week.

Time for the VoP Monk.

Anyway my concern would be this. How do you deal with creatures with damage reduction?

Riffington
2007-10-11, 12:08 PM
Wow. There sure are a bunch of people who don't get this concept at all.
Why would Vow of Poverty give bonuses in a game where there are no magic items anyway? How could a lich (a giant magical energy leech) live in a world where there is no magic to sustain it? I don't actually want answers to those questions - instead answer this.

Suppose you (the reader) met some visiting aliens who offered you the power of any 5th level D&D class. They're leaving and have no plans to give anyone else such an offer this century.
You can have astounding rogue skills and the ability to stab anyone so that he'll die immediately. You can have the ability to box or shoot better than an olympian, and take four bullets to the head before going down (these other options allow only two). Or you can have the ability to spellcast -but will have the flu for a day or two afterwards. Wizard isn't such a bad choice (though Bard might be better).

Kyeudo
2007-10-11, 12:38 PM
Or you can have the ability to spellcast -but will have the flu for a day or two afterwards. Wizard isn't such a bad choice (though Bard might be better).

1d6 Con damage isn't the flu. It's like being poisoned with Large Scorpian Venom, and it gets worse from there.

Azerian Kelimon
2007-10-11, 01:08 PM
I agree. 1d6 CON damage is more like bubonic plague for us. We prbably recove 1 con per week, also.

And if I received such an offer, I'd just screw the fine print of the offer and go swordsage. Bam, top physical condition, excellent swordsmaster, can ignite my weapon on fire, can cloak myself in shadows, can...etc. And making me sick by using my powers is not an option, since I'd need to be fit and healthy to use 'em anyway. Touché, BardicDuelist says.

Starsinger
2007-10-11, 01:31 PM
Here.. let me clarify my objections... 1d6 con damage per spell level. So Colorspray is 1-6 con damage. One con damage is fine, SIX?! Who would pay 6 con damage for a low level spell? And it just gets worse. 2-12? What on earth would possess someone to pay up to 12 con for a second level spell? Then there are third level.. 3-18 con! That means, if you aren't a dwarf, you're most likely dead.

I also agree that it's awfully jerky. I mean... let's say you only dip in sorcerer. How important is that truestrike or whatever spell to you? Is it so important that you're willing to risk 6 con for it? It'd be better to ban spell casters instead of this. Example: I'm upset because spell casters suck in FF1 (On the NES). I'm not upset because I can't play spell caster in Halo because it's not an option. It was never there, to tempt me.

Yodaman23
2007-10-11, 02:02 PM
I would play in a setting like that. Probably some levels in bard or sorcerer, but always multiclassed and never as primary class.

For psionics I vote for the same treatment as wizards: con. For augmenting spells, they could take subdual damage on top of that.

I don't think a Lich would exist in a very low magic setting, since they rely on very high magic, so no problem there.

just a few questions out of interest: how do you handle supernatural and spell-like abilities. For example, bardic music could be very powerful in this setting. Or a gnome's spell-like abilities...
And what about material components: nobody knows about them, so how do PC's acquire them? Same goes for materials for crafting (which might of course be completely impossible, imagine being able to brew a potion of cure light wounds and selling it to kings for 1000's of gold pieces)
Wizards: they study in wizard schools; there are no wizard schools... I'd only allow sorcerers or similar, since they can learn it themselves.


I am likeing how more people are getting this, particularly snarky. Thanks for the feedback peoples.
Spell like and supernatural don't work until you master your "flow". Which is learning how to regulate your internal energies. Its hard to do and unlikely that many characters will but when a character does they are unbeatable.

There are no liches, no undead. They are magic creatures, no soul = no magic to hold them.

Material componants are negligiable in this system, just soul energy.
Magic Items can't hold a charge for more then 24 hours so its pretty much single use only.
Wizards have to self teach themselves, which offers a strange, oh how the mighty have fallen aspect to them. It created a strange relationship between the wizard and sorcerer of the party.

Daimbert
2007-10-11, 02:04 PM
It seems to me like it would solve all of the issues in this thread (the "What do I do about Psionics?" as well as the "Oh my God! Why would anyone play a pure spellcaster?") by keeping the levels as is and simply basing it off of hitpoints. So your second level spell could take up to 12 of your hitpoints away if you cast it. Why I think this works:

1) It makes sense for all types of casters. Burns your soul? That HURTS, weakens you, and certainly distracts you from defending yourself. Psionics? It blasts your brain, which HURTS, weakens you, and distracts you from defending yourself. Wisdom based? HURTS, weakens, distracts. It makes sense for everyone since HP basically just reflects some sort of damage that can kill you ... and this is indeed something that can kill you. You can't replace CON hits with any other stat for Psionics since from what people are saying here CON going to 0 = death, but that isn't true for any other stat.

2) It preserves the "protect the caster" attitude: if the caster is burning off HP to cast spells, someone hitting them is not going to be conducive to the survival of the party.

3) It seems to make spellcasting still fairly limited, since major and powerful spells could leave a caster close to death. And it even preserves the idea of sacrifice, since in some cases a caster might take the chance to cast a powerful spell.

4) It allows for pure or mostly pure casters, since it will take longer to kill (especially at higher levels) them than CON drain does.

5) Healing magic becomes a transfer of HP, which seems quite neat [grin].

6) It would allow for lichs and undead ... after all, they have HP as well and so they'd be limited in any spellcasting they wanted to do as well.

If you don't think it's severe enough of a restriction, you can add to it, but it seems okay to me. HP seems to be your best consistent option that preserves everything you're trying to achieve.

Nasrudith
2007-10-11, 02:19 PM
Perhaps it should be 1d4 con damage per level instead. Upward progression would be severely limited with casters if at say level 8 their highest level spells would fall under the category of "only use for heroic self sacrifice ". Then again that may not be a problem if level 6 is the equivalent of epic in the campaign.

Draz74
2007-10-11, 02:23 PM
To everyone who keeps harping on about how full casters are unplayable and you couldn't even cast a single fireball without risking your life...

Yes! That's the point! You don't play a character who relies on spells in a fight, because those characters die. The people who did that are all dead. Any player character has to have an alternative to casting spells.

Honestly, I don't see this kind of response when people say they banned wizards, clerics, and druids from their campaign. Nor do I see it when people mention Call of Cthulu, which will drive any character who uses spells too freely insane. It's not a campaign in which you play a straight caster who can't fight. That's the setting, and the players, from what we've heard, like it. The original poster (presumably) did not spring this on the players after they'd rolled up characters, or in the middle of the game to nerf the wizards.

It's low-magic. Personally, I like it; it gives magic a much more dramatic feeling. Increasing the power of spells would also give players a reason to take a couple levels of wizard or sorcerer, but I like the idea behind it, and the potentially lethal execution.

Exactly. Thank you.

Come on everybody, if he's playtested this system, let's trust him that it works. It's not like any of the characters will be dumb enough to be full casters. This is a cool system to make it so that a character who likes living dangerously can multiclass into casting classes a bit.

GryffonDurime
2007-10-11, 02:25 PM
A thought occurs:

Your world should be ruled by Druids. Seriously, if you've got druids as-written in this game world, they're going to murder anything they touch. They're fullcasters who, with Natural Spell and Wild Shape, can have effective Constitution scores well into the 30s or 40s; arguably, Con damage might not lower their hitpoints in animal form because they aren't altered by increasing Con, and they can gain the effect of a night's rest by expending one Wild Shape--or they could just shift into something new with better constitution!

I like the idea, really--I do. But I'd definately deal with the Druid before I instituted this.

Krrth
2007-10-11, 02:26 PM
I am likeing how more people are getting this, particularly snarky. Thanks for the feedback peoples.
Spell like and supernatural don't work until you master your "flow". Which is learning how to regulate your internal energies. Its hard to do and unlikely that many characters will but when a character does they are unbeatable.

There are no liches, no undead. They are magic creatures, no soul = no magic to hold them.

Material componants are negligiable in this system, just soul energy.
Magic Items can't hold a charge for more then 24 hours so its pretty much single use only.
Wizards have to self teach themselves, which offers a strange, oh how the mighty have fallen aspect to them. It created a strange relationship between the wizard and sorcerer of the party.

I think the problem most people are having here is the high chance of death when casting even a low level spell. To be honest, I can see where this would have some interesting dynamics, but the con drain seems a bit much to most people. Even the hellfire warlock PrC only does 1 point of con per use. Incidently, are there clerics? If so, restoration just became a lot more useful.

Arbitrarity
2007-10-11, 02:30 PM
I think the problem most people are having here is the high chance of death when casting even a low level spell. To be honest, I can see where this would have some interesting dynamics, but the con drain seems a bit much to most people. Even the hellfire warlock PrC only does 1 point of con per use. Incidently, are there clerics? If so, restoration just became a lot more useful.

So long as you are willing to risk 4d6 CON damage not killing you...

"Come on! I need to heal that to cast again!"
"But I have only 16 CON!"
"So? Statistically you won't die!"
"Ok..."
*Rolls*
Well, using an online roller, I just got, over 4 rolls, 15, 14, 16, and 19. I'm not liking these odds.

Asklepian
2007-10-11, 02:35 PM
I actually like the idea, having done something similar in another game system. Besides, he says his players enjoy it, no one here has to play in his game, so taking his word I fail to see why it should provoke outrage. It's not as though he came into your home to tell you how to play your game.

At any rate, focusing on the actual question:

Seems to me there's 3 main ways to approach it, assuming you don't want to either leave it the same or ban it completely (I doubt you'd need advice if that's what you wanted, eh?).

1) Use essentially the same system. Of course, it works off of power points as opposed to spell levels, so maybe 1d4 Con per power point? It's not that hard to figure out some fluff, just say something along the lines of the psionic energy burning a person's health in order to power its effects. In other words, it's directly drawing on the body, as opposed to the soul like magic does.

2) Have it burn something else. HPs, Intelligence, the like. Other people have made plenty of suggestions in that vein, so I'll leave it to them.

3) Have some other completely different penalty involved. Perhaps an increasingly difficult save check against suffering status effects? Maybe you go blind, then deaf, etc, as the psionics 'burn out' your nervous system temporarily from strain. The more power points, the more difficult the save. Again, since there's presumably no other magic to save you, it'd be something you could recover from given time and rest.

Anyways, that's my chump change.

Krrth
2007-10-11, 02:36 PM
True. On the other hand, warlocks got a little cooler. Since their powers already come from the soul, they can blast all day and not get overshadowed from others. Plus, they can scribe whatever scroll they want and use it the next day. Scroll of Heal, anyone?

Krrth
2007-10-11, 02:39 PM
...

3) Have some other completely different penalty involved. Perhaps an increasingly difficult save check against suffering status effects? Maybe you go blind, then deaf, etc, as the psionics 'burn out' your nervous system temporarily from strain. The more power points, the more difficult the save. Again, since there's presumably no other magic to save you, it'd be something you could recover from given time and rest.

Anyways, that's my chump change.

That made me think of something. The Wheel of Time has rules for forcing casting when you are out of power. Basically, the con check goes up every time you use it in a day. If you fail, make your fort save. If you fail badly enough, you can loose all ability to use magic. Ever.

AmberVael
2007-10-11, 02:46 PM
I like the idea, and I think it could make spellcasting much more interesting, but honestly such a variation on the natural system makes caster types highly unbalanced.

Unlike all the thoughts other people have stated:
1) Use HP drain.
2) Lower Con drain (though it COULD stand being taken down to 1, or maybe 1d4)
3) You *@#$*@# stupid #[email protected](#$(@ use a different system, you sock.

I'm going to have to agree with DruchiiConversion instead of using the other ideas.
Give them a slightly better class to go along with their drastically reduced spellcasting. It fits the rare magic theme (think of how many times Gandalf pulled out a sword and kicked ass rather than actually using magic) while helping the player be a bit more useful. Possibly use the battle sorcerer variant (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/variantCharacterClasses.htm#sorcererVariantBattleS orcerer) as a starting point, or the cleric class (and psychic warrior for psionics, obviously).

Possibly you could take and edit the idea of the generic class variant (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/classes/genericClasses.htm) and just drop their generic spellcasting class, and make feats for spellcasting.

No matter how you do go, I don't think anyone is going to really cast over a level 4 spell (unless you DO reduce con drain), so really don't bother with spell levels over that when designing feats or classes.



As for psionics... it really depends on how you do fluff. If you go with it basically just being mental magic, Con damage all the way.
But seriously, it will make it more balanced if you just deal Con damage all around, fluff aside.

If you do change the fluff, I'd say putting it in a non casting stat for the classes will make the most sense. Say it drains other aspects of their personality.
Psions- Drain Charisma. They slowly get more and more attached to the flow of mental energies and find it harder to focus and be themselves. They just lose awareness of who they are.
Psychic Warriors- Drain Intelligence. Their focus on combat and the destructive and warlike powers they wield slowly give them a more animalistic outlook on things. They become less and less sentient and more feral, focusing on combat and instinct.
Wilder- Drain Wisdom. Due to the highly emotional drain and dependence on their powers, wilders often lose common sense and focus on the things around them, instead just losing themselves to their own emotional highs that induce their powers.

I think that would work out, would give interesting opportunity for roleplay, as their personality and outlook would be changed due to their use of power, disabling them in an alternate way from the wizard, who relies on his own inner energies to fuel things. It easily fits with the psionic fluff that is already there, too.

Somebloke
2007-10-11, 02:47 PM
It might work, although I have a nasty feeling that everyone would play warlocks...or factorums.

Well, actually, the warlock might be a nice half and half- a blend of very low magic powers that do not do damage, and normal level powers that do. I have had a similar concept run before.

Riffington
2007-10-11, 03:47 PM
1d6 Con damage isn't the flu. It's like being poisoned with Large Scorpian Venom, and it gets worse from there.

Speaking as an MD, 1d6 Con is a little less severe than the flu. I'm not familiar with the game's understanding of disease, but in real life the flu has much worse sytemic effects than a couple scorpion stings. (albeit without the chance for loss of limb)

Many people call their colds "the flu", but influenza (as well as bad colds, for that matter) can be pretty bad. I've seen old (not death's door, but certainly not capable of running - probably Con 5) people die from it. I've had it, and noticed a massive reduction in my endurance - couldn't jog more than a minute.

His rule is you get back 3 Con/day, so this ailment doesn't last long.

GoC
2007-10-11, 05:08 PM
I quite like it.

But some things need changing. Like you say, casters aren't going to use their spells in normal battle. That would just be stupidity, they'd die every time. So what ARE they going to do in battle? With a d4 hit dice, half BAB and no proficiencies, not much.

So simply buff up the Wizard/Sorcerer/etc to Cleric levels - d8 hit dice, 3/4BAB. Then you've got a secondary combat character who can occasionally pull out something truly amazing at great cost to himself. Sounds a little like Gandalf to me.

This is an excellent idea!
Solves most of the problems with this idea while not making Mr. Stubborn change his spellcasting mechanics!:smallbiggrin:

Riffington: D&D Large Scorpion venom is like being biten by about 1000 Earth scorpions. Tell me that isn't severe?
Also it's 1 CON per day, not 3.

Krrth
2007-10-11, 05:22 PM
Speaking as an MD, 1d6 Con is a little less severe than the flu. I'm not familiar with the game's understanding of disease, but in real life the flu has much worse sytemic effects than a couple scorpion stings. (albeit without the chance for loss of limb)

Many people call their colds "the flu", but influenza (as well as bad colds, for that matter) can be pretty bad. I've seen old (not death's door, but certainly not capable of running - probably Con 5) people die from it. I've had it, and noticed a massive reduction in my endurance - couldn't jog more than a minute.

His rule is you get back 3 Con/day, so this ailment doesn't last long.

I don't think it's the healing time that is the problem. It's the massive up front loss of con. Unlike the other stats, if con hits 0, you are dead. With everything else, you are mearly "out of play" for a little while.

Lemur
2007-10-11, 06:06 PM
I like Vael's idea for psions the best so far. I kinda like the way the setting sounds, personally, although I wouldn't play a spellcaster in it unless I could find some sort of loophole. It's what a smart mage would do, after all :smallwink:

A question about the setting, though. Do, and if so, how do supernatural wielding but non-spellcasting classes fit in to the world? What happens to monks and bards, or warlocks, when they use supernatural or spell-like abilities?

Arbitrarity
2007-10-11, 06:13 PM
Were I to try this (Actually, the basic idea is good, penalizing spellcasting), I'd make it subdual damage. Deadly enough (CdG!), but recoverable, etc. The problem, however, lies in the selection of the quantity of damage. Something like spell level^1.5d3 might work, rounding up. I.e. 1d3, 3d3, 6d3, 8d3, 12d3, 15d3, 19d3, 23d3, 27d3. A spell of your maximum level would eat about half your health, never knocking you out, initially. But 6 damage/casting at level 3 hurts.

The issue is that subdual and lethal heal at the same time with healing spells, so KO'd casters would be really easy to get up again in combat.

Bender
2007-10-12, 01:48 AM
Just another thought. Change in status was mentioned before, but you could make it worse per spell/power level:
0: mild headache for an hour with some penalties
1: worse headache with more penalties and inability to cast spells for an hour
2: as 1, but longer and blindness/deafness
3: unconsciousness for couple of hours, followed by 2
4: as 3, but save vs permanent loss of con
higher: ever higher save vs death

still harsh, but the risk is more manageable and lowlevel spells aren't lethal, you just can't cast them too often.
I've got the idea from some novels of L.E.Modesitt, where something like this happens to the main character when straining too hard.

Irreverent Fool
2007-10-12, 03:50 AM
I very much like the idea that casting spells is very draining on the magic-user but have yet to find/come up with a mechanic that reflects this. Perhaps the first spell a caster casts in a day makes them exhausted, and from that point forward a flat temporary CON damage per level of the spell.

Since you mentioned something about burning off soul energy, perhaps a willing participant could lend a fragment of themselves somehow, allowing you to drain of their stats at a greater rate than if you were draining off your own. This would set the stage for collecting slaves or brainwashing people to gather their soul energy to power some BBEG's spells.