(My view on magic in fantasy)
Spellcasting based on Strain & Tolerance
I tried countless variations of spell-points systems, but they always failed.
Also, every spell-points system I’ve ever encountered failed.
The reason is that spellcasters either:
- gain too much to put on the high level spells.
- don’t get enough to put on all spell levels.
Both may coexist, but it’s extremely difficult to resolve both with spell points.
An effective solution I’ve found was to make spell levels cost less with level progression while increasing the cost of newly acquired higher SLs.
As much as I do my best to avoid the use of tables, this time it was the only practical solution.
The Motivation behind Strain & Tolerance:
The idea is to have more flexibility to play around with the spell levels, but not as much as with having spell points, where you can stack all your points to gain a lot of higher-level spells.
Upon gaining a certain spell-level, one gains automatic access to a bit more than 1 or 2 spells of the given level, but at an evident expense in availability of lower level spells.
The recovery from spellcasting would be gradual rather than "all or nothing" upon full night's rest.
Also, a high-level caster would not be able to pile up tons of spell-buffs ahead of combat and still have 80% of his fire power available for blasting & debuffing.
The objectives are as follows:
1. No more "Fire & Forget".
2. More versatility at the expense of raw spellpower capacity.
3. Preserving the classic literature theme, where spellcasters are taxed by spellcasting and can overcast.
4. The ability to regain some spell power in between sleep-time periods.
5. Getting rid of all Spells-Per-Day tables.
Strain & Tolerance:
When a Spellcaster casts a spell, he has to channel a portion of the magical forces he's using through his own body. This is taxing both physically and mentally, and is the basic limiting factor that determines how many spells a Spellcaster can cast without resting.
Every Spellcaster has a Strain-Tolerance score that's equal to his [main spellcasting ability score] + [caster-level] + [Con-mod] (with this approach, btw, all casters are full spellcasters).
As a spellcaster casts more spells, the Strain accumulates. When he spends enough time resting, the strain decreases. As long as the total Strain is lower than his Strain Tolerance, the spellcaster suffers no ill effect. Continuing to cast spells once his Strain is over his Tolerance, however, is extremely taxing on a spellcaster's body and mind. As soon as a spellcaster's total Strain exceeds his Tolerance, he becomes fatigued. If a fatigued spellcaster wishes to cast another spell, he must first make a Fort save with a DC = (20 + the spell's level + the amount of Strain he has over his Tolerance prior to casting the spell). If the save is successful, the spellcaster casts the spell as normal. If the save is failed, the spell fizzles with no effect and the spellcaster takes damage equal to the spell's strain-toll.
A spellcaster loses one point of Strain per hour if he does not cast spells, fight, run, or otherwise exerts himself. A Spellcaster who is fatigued due to excess Strain ceases to be fatigued as soon as his total Strain is no longer over his Tolerance. However, a Spellcaster does not recover strain while exhausted. During sleep, a Spellcaster loses 3 Strain points per hour. At the end of a short rest, long rest or night's rest, a Spellcaster loses additional points equal to his main casting ability modifier + Con-mod.
(Note: At high class levels, some spells have no Strain Cost, and this is fine - a powerful spellcaster should be able to cast basic spells all day long)
Strain-Costs table: Primary Spellcasters (Priest, Mage, Druid)
Code:Caster <------- Strain Cost by SL -------> Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 ================================================================================= 1 4 7 - - - - - - - - 2 3 6 - - - - - - - - 3 3 6 7 - - - - - - - 4 2 5 6 - - - - - - - 5 2 5 6 7 - - - - - - 6 1 4 5 6 - - - - - - 7 1 4 5 6 8 - - - - - 8 0 3 4 5 7 - - - - - 9 0 3 4 5 7 8 - - - - 10 0 2 3 4 6 7 - - - - 11 0 2 3 4 6 7 8 - - - 12 0 1 2 3 5 6 7 - - - 13 0 1 2 3 5 6 7 9 - - 14 0 0 1 2 4 5 6 8 - - 15 0 0 1 2 4 5 6 8 9 - 16 0 0 0 1 3 4 5 7 8 - 17 0 0 0 1 3 4 5 7 8 9 18 0 0 0 0 2 3 4 6 7 8 19 0 0 0 0 2 3 4 6 7 8 20 0 0 0 0 1 2 3 5 6 7
Strain-Costs table: Bard
Code:Caster <---- Strain Cost ----> Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 ========================================================= 1 5 - - - - - - 2 4 7 - - - - - 3 4 6 - - - - - 4 3 6 - - - - - 5 3 5 7 - - - - 6 3 5 6 - - - - 7 2 5 6 - - - - 8 2 4 5 7 - - - 9 2 4 5 6 - - - 10 1 4 5 6 - - - 11 1 3 4 5 8 - - 12 1 3 4 5 7 - - 13 0 3 4 5 7 - - 14 0 2 3 4 6 8 - 15 0 2 3 4 6 7 - 16 0 2 3 4 6 7 - 17 0 1 2 3 5 6 8 18 0 1 2 3 5 6 7 19 0 1 2 3 5 6 7 20 0 0 1 2 4 5 6
Strain-Costs tables: Witch’s Primary Circle
Code:Caster <--- Strain Cost by SL ---> Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ================================================================= 1 5 7 - - - - - - 2 4 6 - - - - - - 3 4 6 - - - - - - 4 3 5 7 - - - - - 5 3 5 6 - - - - - 6 3 5 6 - - - - - 7 2 4 5 7 - - - - 8 2 4 5 6 - - - - 9 2 4 5 6 - - - - 10 1 3 4 5 8 - - - 11 1 3 4 5 7 - - - 12 1 3 4 5 7 - - - 13 0 2 3 4 6 8 - - 14 0 2 3 4 6 7 - - 15 0 2 3 4 6 7 - - 16 0 1 2 3 5 6 8 - 17 0 1 2 3 5 6 7 - 18 0 1 2 3 5 6 7 - 19 0 0 1 2 4 5 6 9 20 0 0 1 2 4 5 6 8
Strain-Costs tables: Spellthief & Witch’s Secondary Circle
Code:Caster <-- Strain Cost --> Level 0 1 2 3 4 5 ================================================= 1 5 - - - - - 2 4 7 - - - - 3 4 6 - - - - 4 3 6 - - - - 5 3 5 - - - - 6 3 5 7 - - - 7 2 5 6 - - - 8 2 4 6 - - - 9 2 4 5 - - - 10 1 4 5 8 - - 11 1 3 5 7 - - 12 1 3 4 7 - - 13 0 3 4 6 - - 14 0 2 4 6 8 - 15 0 2 3 6 7 - 16 0 2 3 5 7 - 17 0 1 3 5 6 - 18 0 1 2 5 6 9 19 0 1 2 4 6 8 20 0 0 2 4 5 8
Although I quite resent the need to "go to the tables to figure the numbers", I find several significant advantages to this spellcasting mechanism.
Going NOVA (relying almost exclusively on the highest SLs) would result in rapid resources exhaustion, quickly leaving you next to powerless. OTOH, relying on lower level spells when possible would significantly lengthen a spellcaster's "work day" and allow him to remain relevant for much longer periods of time before he needs to renew his spell access (thus keeping low level spells relevant). This result could not be achieved with a spell-points system with linear increase in cost according to SL.
The numbers also add up for a faster strain recovery.
While I favor the Strain & Tolerance approach (because it fits the descriptions in so many fantasy stories), I'm aware that it's not the best solution for everyone.
For those who . . .
- Don't wish to manage tolerance tables
- Don't like the idea that some spells eventually come for free
- Don't want to allow tolerance overtaxing
I offer a Spell-Points (SP) system that would come very close (a bit lower in power actually) to the overall result achieved by the Strain & Tolerance solution:
Spell-Points costs are as follows:
Code:SL SP-Cost =============== 0 1 1 3 2 5 3 7 4 9 5 11 6 13 7 15 8 17 9 19
How many Spell-Points each spellcaster gains:
Spellcasters gain Spell Points (SPs) at each level as follows (with SL access detailed at the bottom of each class' spec.):
Full Casters (Priest/Mage/Druid) :
- 1st – 4th: 5 SPs
- 5th – 8th: 6 SPs
- 9th – 12th: 7 SPs
- 13th – 16th: 8 SPs
- 17th – 20th: 9 SPs
This amounts to [(5+6+7+8+9) * 4 = 35 * 4 = 140] SPs at level 20, with 9th SL access
SL Access (at level): 1st (1), 2nd (3), 3rd (5), 4th (7), 5th (9), 6th (11), 7th (13), 8th (15), 9th (17)
- 1st – 6th: 3 SPs
- 7th – 12th: 4 SPs
- 13th – 18th: 5 SPs
- 19th – 20th: 6 SPs
This amounts to [((3+4+5) * 6) + (6 * 2) = 72 + 12 = 84] SPs at level 20, with 6th SL access
SL Access (at level): 0th (1), 1st (2), 2nd (5), 3rd (8), 4th (11), 5th (14), 6th (17)
- 1st – 5th: 3 SPs
- 6th – 10th: 4 SPs
- 11th – 15th: 5 SPs
- 16th – 20th: 6 SPs
This amounts to [(3+4+5+6) * 5 = 18 * 5 = 90] SPs at level 20, with 7th SL access
SL Access (at level): 1st (1), 2nd (4), 3rd (7), 4th (10), 5th (13), 6th (16), 7th (19)
Witch (secondary) + Spellthief:
- 1st – 7th: 2 SPs
- 8th – 14th: 3 SPs
- 15th – 20th: 4 SPs
This amounts to [((2+3) * 7) + (4 * 5) = 35 + 20 = 55] SPs at level 20, with 5th SL access
SL Access (at level):[/B] 0th (1), 1st (2), 2nd (6), 3rd (10), 4th (14), 5th (18)
• Each spellcaster also gains a number of SPs equal to his spellcasting ability modifier, plus Con-mod.
Spell-Points Recovery by class level:
When awake and not involved in strenuous activity, spellcasters recover SPs – according to CL – as follows:
- 1st – 7th: 1 / 30 minutes
- 8th – 14th: 1 / 20 minutes
- 15th – 20th: 1 / 10 minutes
Note: It's easy to notice that the less SPs a class has, the faster it recovers SPs proportionally. Well, that's perfectly fine, because the more SPs a class has, the more output it has to begin with and the easier it is to conserve.
During Sleep, or meditation, the recovery rate is doubled.
Once full night's rest is completed, all SPs are regained.
Spell-Points and Multiclassing:
For simplicity's sake, each class has its own SP pool. Deal with each class' SP pool as if it was the only class with spellcasting that the character has.
Spellcasters, Ability Scores & Skills:
No more a single ability for spellcasting.
Spell access + auto-maximized skill ranks are both a derivative of class level progression.
Int-bonus determines bonus spells known (uses the PHB table that specifies extra spells-per-day, with high-Int also granting extra known 0-level spells)
Wis-bonus determines SR penetration
Cha-bonus determines spell DC.
Mages’ Tolerance is keyed off of their Int and they gain maximized ranks* in Spellcraft.
Priests’ Tolerance is keyed off of their Cha and they gain maximized ranks* in Knowledge (religion)
Druids’ Tolerance is keyed off of their Wis and they gain maximized ranks* in Knowledge (nature)
Bards’ Tolerance is keyed off of their Cha and they gain maximized ranks* in a chosen Perform skill (e.g. singing/oratory/harp/...)
Witches’ Tolerance is determined by their primary circle and they gain maximized ranks in Craft (alchemy)
* maximized ranks means [CL + 3] - where CL doesn't include modifiers (e.g. Practiced Spellcaster feat).
Spell Ranges Redefined:
Personal: 0 - caster only
Touch: requires a touch attack
Note: The above definitions refer only to the targets a caster can aim a spell towards as it is being cast, not AoEs (e.g. Control Weather), or to where a spell's effect can be carried (e.g. Message), which can have many variations.
Spell Durations Redefined:
Short: Concentration + 5 rounds (up to 3 minutes)
Medium: 10 minutes
Long: 1 hour
Extended: 12 hours
Day: 24 hours
Week: 1 week
Lunar: 1 month
Solar: 1 year
Permanent: Never ending (sometimes until dispelled)
All battlefield control spells (e.g. Web and Stinking Cloud) with AoE of 20'r or more have their AoE cut by half.
For all intents and purposes other than strain toll, spells modified by metamagic operate at their normal level (duration, DC, damage etc).
The Mechanics of Spellcasting:
Severe Conditions Spells:
The following spells categories have their casting time elevated to at least full-round action:
- Spells that create minions (either by summoning creatures or animating objects)
- Spells that selectively target multiple opponents.
- All Save-or-Lose spells: spells that would directly impose (by definition of the effect, not situation/tactic related) a status on a target that makes it unable to take actions:
(basically anything that would render the target helpless or worse)
Battlefield control spells:
Spells that change the environment (e.g. Entangle, Black Tentacles, Spike Stones, Blade Barrier, Wall of Thorns, Web) have a minimum casting time of 1-round.
All spells whose effects are concentration-managed (e.g. Telekinesis, Implosion) require a standard action to control.
During a combat turn in which such spells are cast, the caster may cast the spell and use it in the same round as a full round action.
You can only ever concentrate on a single spell.
It's impossible to simultaneously maintain 2 or more spells that require concentration.
Spellcasting and Concentration Checks When Taking Damage:
When casting a spell, if a spellcaster receives damage, s/he must succeed on a Concentration check vs. DC = [10 + 1/2-damage + 2*SL].
Casting full round action spells Defensively requires DC = [15 + 3*SL + 1/2 highest BAB among creatures threatening you]
Casting standard action spells Defensively requires DC = [10 + 2*SL + 1/2 highest BAB among creatures threatening you]
Casting Defensively cannot be applied to spells that require more than a full round action (1-round or longer)
When flanked, the DC rises by +2 per enemy in a flanking position against you.
I’m well aware that Casting Defensively as a full round action is nightmarishly tough. It’s meant to force spellcasters to rely on the more martially inclined allies to pose a buffer between themselves and enemy forces.
Casting Defensively is an option, but a spellcaster would have to put all available resources into it - and even then, there's no guarantee for success... meaning that taking the combat-caster role is no longer a no-brainer.
The problem with flying casters isn't so much that they can fly, as that flying doesn't penalize their casting anywhere near enough to balance off the greater difficulty of hurting a flying mage.
After all how dangerous would a caster be if they had to expend their standard action every round to maneuver themselves in the air?
1. Creatures flying via magical means may levitate without spending any action.
2. Maneuvering oneself requires a standard action.
3. Maintaining momentum without changing direction requires a move action.
Summoning, Calling, Animation & Domination:
You cannot simultaneously maintain multiple effects that force creatures or objects to act against their will or alignment - be they from calling, summoning, animating, possessing or whatever similar effect. This applies to spells, SLAs and innate powers, but doesn't apply to fire-and-forget effects such as charm and geas.
Creatures that in core are able to grant Wish, are toned down to be able to grant Limited Wish.
Wild Shape and Alteration:
You can't change into legendary animals and size increase is limited to one category larger/smaller than your original form (unless you have the Wild Shape class feature that specifically says otherwise). Also, creatures polymorphed/shaped into a different size already count as being under size change, so further size-increase/decrease factors don't stack.
Furthermore, You can't change into creatures with either more HD than your levels in the class that granted you the power to polymorph, or higher CR than your [class-level - 2].
Finally, to polymorph into a given creature, you must have at least its CR worth of skill ranks in the appropriate Knowledge skill to identify it and its weaknesses.
Polymorph & Flight
Reduce speed by 10' (min 5') and maneuverability by 1 step (min clumsy).
Blasphemy / Dictum / Holy Word / Word of Chaos:
These spells are the worst offenders of CL boosting.
With enough CL manipulation, a spellcaster can TPK any CR-appropriate group of opponents (gaining +5 to your CL is not impossible).
Therefore, the following changes are to be applied to these spells:
The spell is not keyed off of HD (not exactly, see below) and allows a normal save with the following effects:
Failed save Dazed.
Failed save by 2-4 Weakened, dazed.
Failed save by 5-9 Paralyzed, weakened, dazed.
Failed save by 10 or more Killed, paralyzed, weakened, dazed.
Banishment is applied as given for the spell by RAW (a separate save).
Creatures whose HD or CR exceed your character level by 3 or more are unaffected by the spell.
• Scrying Location: You can choose to scry on a particular location instead of a creature. Doing so requires a DC 20 Spellcraft check, using the same modifiers for the DC that applies to the Will save (see scrying spell). If the check is successful, you can observe an area within a radius of 10' per CL. While scrying on a location, your scrying sensor cannot be moved.
• Spotting the Sensor: With detect magic or similar effects active, a scrying sensor can be spotted with a successful Spellcraft check (DC 20).
• Counterspelling the Sensor: Spellcasters who are aware of a scrying sensor can attempt to counterspell the scrying (even though they are unable to see the caster).
• Learn Scryer: If you determine that you’re being scried upon, you can learn the identity of the scryer with a Spellcraft check (DC 30). If successful, you learn the name, race, and location of the scryer. The scryer may make an opposed Spellcraft check or cancel the scrying as a reaction, to prevent you from learning the information.
• Break Scrying: If you determine that you’re being scried, you can make a Spellcraft check (DC 30) to attempt to break the scrying. On a successful check, the scrying ends and the scryer may not target you with a Divination (Scrying) spell or similar effect for at least 24 hours. The scryer may make an opposed Spellcraft check as a reaction to prevent you from breaking the scrying in this way.
• Return Scrying: If you determine that you’re being scried upon, you can look back through the sensor at the scryer with a successful Spellcraft check (DC 40). This allows you to spy on the scryer as if you had cast a scrying spell upon that person. The scryer may make an opposed Spellcraft check or cancel the scrying as a reaction to prevent you from looking back through the sensor. Alternatively, you can cast scrying or use a similar effect to target the character currently scrying on you. The character scrying on you can cancel the scrying as a reaction to your spell, but if they do not, they suffer a -20 penalty on their Will save to resist the attempt.
Given all spellcasting according to this compendium is spontaneous (see the classes), all spellcasters enjoy this benefit on-the-fly, free of charge.
One can always cast a given spell at a higher level than its minimum level.
Reversible spells are spells that have 2 opposite effects and are comprised of pairs of such official spells.
The reversible spells are:
First Form/Second Form
- Antipathy / Sympathy
- Bless / Bane
- Cure Disease / Contagion
- Cure Light Wounds / Inflict Light Wounds
- Cure Moderate Wounds / Inflict Moderate Wounds
- Cure Serious Wounds / Inflict Serious Wounds
- Cure Critical Wounds / Inflict Critical Wounds
- Dream / Nightmare
- Enlarge / Reduce
- Heal / Harm
- Heat Metal / Chill metal
- Imprisonment / Freedom
- Locate Object / Obscure object
- Neutralize Poison / Poison
- Remove Curse / Bestow Curse
- Raise Dead / Slay Living
- Remove Blindness/Deafness / Remove Blindness/Deafness
- Remove Fear / Cause Fear
- Resurrection / Destruction
- Transmute Rock to Mud / Transmute Mud to Rock
- Water Breathing / Air Breathing SS
- Word of Recall / word of Return (return to last point of origin)
- All spells that grant feats, skill ranks, skill tricks or class abilities: spells don’t grant temporary training of any sort.
- Divine Power, Transformation and other spells or powers that elevate BAB.
- Glibness: somebody went a bit overboard here.
- Genesis: Creating realities is beyond the scope of abilities of mortals.
- Mage’s Lucubration: Meaningless when spells are not lost upon casting.
- Mnemonic Enhancer: Meaningless when spells are not lost upon casting.
- Righteous Might: The effect of this spell is now available only to certain clerics (see the Priest class below).
- Rope Trick: Tearing a hole in the fabric of space to another dimension via a 2nd level spell. C'mon. 5th SL maybe. Maybe.
- Stone to Flesh: Break Enchantment covers this one (and you don’t turn a lump of stone into a meatball).
- Alter Self: Use the PF version.
- Astral Projection: The astral duplicate(s) possess only 1/2 the HD of the original. Multiclassed characters have the levels of each of their classes cut by half.
- Baleful Polymorph: Baleful Polymorph has duration of 1 day per CL and the target keeps its identity (even with the decreased Int), so it can later contemplate the consequences of its actions.
- Bestow Curse.
- Celerity and derivatives: May not be used for gaining extra uses of spellcasting, (Sp) or (Su) abilities.
- Deathwatch: Not foul and not evil in any way whatsoever.
- Disintegrate: Any creature KILLED by this spell is entirely disintegrated
- Dominate Person: Allows the victim to make a repeated save each day – the "concentrate on it for 1 round per DAY to keep your hold" part is omitted.
- Explosive Runes: Only one set of runes explodes at a given time. The ambient smoke and flashes prevent the option of reading anything in the area for 1 round.
- Feeblemind: Duration is one month/caster level.
- Fly: This spell is now a 4th level spell (5th character level seems too early to me for characters to reach for the skies). Furthermore, when Fly is dispelled - you drop. Slow fall applies only when the spell ends on its own (same goes for Overland Flight and other such spells).
- Forcecage: This spell is modified so that it allows a Ref save to negate, but you must be able to move out of the area of effect as an immediate action.
- Force Barriers: Force barriers are not impervious to damage. They have a hardness of [CL + SL] and 10 HP per SL.
- Freedom: This is one crappy 9th level spell. Except for countering Imprisonment (which is incredibly situational), it's sub-par to Freedom of Movement. Redefineition: Freedom is an 8th level spell. It also functions as a greater version of Break Enchantment, undoing any and all effects of the appropriate categories. The spell also grants the full effect of Freedom of Movement spell.
- Gate: The option of "Calling Creatures" to fight for you is cancelled. OTOH, you may connect two locations on the same plane.
- Greater Shout: This spell nullifies magical silence along its path.
- Knock: Knock may open only a single means of prevention at a time.
- Limited Wish: Elevated to an 8th level spell. The spell description remains unchanged.
- Magic Missile: Ranged Touch attack (not auto-hit, but also no SR), and each missile deals 1d6+1 damage.
- Minor/Major/True Creation: Can't create material costing more than [10gp * spell level * CL] with a single casting of the spell. Also, Acid, Alchemist's Fire, Poisons and similar materials (alchemical or otherwise) cannot be created via this spell.
- Miracle: May only be cast by level-20 priests w/ 23+ Cha.
- Planar Binding, Lesser: This spell is limited by CR rather than HD. Max CR = 6
- Planar Binding: This spell is limited by CR rather than HD. Max CR = 9
- Planar Binding, Greater: This spell is limited by CR rather than HD. Max CR = 13
- Plane Shift: Casting Time = 1 minute + 1 round / traveler. Motivation: This shouldn't be a combat spell, it is a plot motivating spell on a grand scale. Furthermore, the divine version of this spell is also a 7th level spell. Motivation: 9th char-level is way too early to allow such capabilities, and I see no reason why divine magic should exceed arcane research (by 2 SL no less) on this particular angle. Greater Plane Shift is an 8th level spell.
- Polymorph: Use the PF version.
- Polymorph Any Object: You may polymorph living creatures into other living creatures, plants into other plants or objects into other objects. You cannot polymorph a target from one category into another. (Writer's note: not every Disney movie scene has to be a possibility in RPG). Maximum durations equal to 1 month / CL. The spell cannot increase a target creature's mental ability scores. If HD increase is intended, they cannot exceed the target's HD by more than 10, nor can they exceed the caster's CL by more than 5. If no HD increase is attempted, the caster's CL is not taken into account.
- Power Word _________: If your "Healthy" HP are above the spell's threshold but your injuries put your current HP below the threshold, you're entitled to a Will save to resist the effect.
- Prismatic Wall/Sphere: The caster is not immune to the effects of his own wall/sphere (spell effects don't "recognize" their caster).
- Protection From Arrows: This spell grants the caster a deflection bonus to AC vs. range weapons. This bonus is equal to the caster level for projectile weapons (sling stones, bows, crossbows), 1/2 this value (round down) against thrown weapons such as spears, and 1/4 this value against giant-thrown rocks and siege weaponry.
- Revivify: The number of rounds a deceased creature may be restored to life equals its Base Fort or Will save bonus plus ability modifiers - whichever's higher.
- Shapechange: The ability to change into objects (including Constructs) is omitted. Furthermore, HD and CR cap = CL. Any and all traits and abilities acquired by taking a given form are immediately lost upon exiting the assumed form.
- Shield: Doesn’t auto-negate Magic Missile.
- Solid Fog: Any creature attempting to move through it must make a DC 20 strength check. If successful, the creature can move up to half its speed in a straight line; if it moves less than its allowed distance, it may make another strength check to move in another direction. If unsuccessful, the creature can move 5 feet in any direction, ending its move action.
- Spiritual Weapon: 1) The weapon makes touch attacks. 2) Add the caster's Cha-bonus to damage. 3) Ignore the SR part.
- Time Stop: Instead of hasting the Mage to ridiculous speed, this spell has an AoE of 40' radius sphere centered on the Mage with no save (this makes sense of some creatures being immune to TimeStop). While this power is active, only personal range spells can be cast. This prevents abuse such as dropping a forcecage on someone and then filling their cell with lava.
- Transmute Rock to Mud: Any creature attempting to move through it must make a strength-check. For every 5 points by which the check result exceeds 10, the creature can move 5’ (up to a maximum of half its speed).
- True Seeing: Make opposed CL checks when trying to see through any spell from the Illusion school of equal or higher level (you receive a +4 to you check). A successful check reveals the illusion for what it is, whereas a failed check fails to penetrate the illusion for the duration of True Seeing.
- Vision: An 8th level spell (just compare with Legend Lore to understand this one).
- Wall of Iron: As written, this spell will single-handedly make you rich and ruin local economies. Therefore, any part of the wall that's removed disappears.
- Wall of Force/Iron/Stone: Range: Touch. The spell fails if there's a creature occupying the space of the wall.
- Wail of the Banshee: Emanates from the caster's mouth (ZERO-range) and affects everybody within the AoE except the caster. The spell doesn't differentiate between friend and foe and Evasion is inapplicable.
- Waves of Exhaustion: Allows Fort save for Fatigues status rather than exhausted (unless a target is already fatigued, in which case no save is allowed).
- Waves of Fatigue: Allows Fort save to negate.
- Wind Wall: Imposes only a -4 penalty to ranged attacks that go through it, like severe wind.
- Wish: May only be studied and cast by level-20 wizards w/ 23+ Int. The option to instantly create magical items is removed from the things that Wish can do. That one always takes time and the usual chances for success/failure (see the "Redefining Magical Items' Creation" spoiler below). Only deities could do that.
- Wood Shape: The limitations of this spell are overridden with the proper Craft skill(s). In fact, used in conjunction with an appropriate Craft skill, the spell's duration is concentration. It Cuts crafting time in half and grants a +3 competence bonus.
- Word of Recall: Also a 6th level Mage spell. In addition, the spell may be cast to return to last point of origin. This means that the spell is cast in 3 different ways: Mark Sanctuary / Recall to Sanctuary / Return from Sanctuary.
Cooperative Spell (CArc) covers this one beautifully.
There's just one small change: instead of just for SR penetration, the CL is increased for all intents and purposes.
This is fair and reasonable, because multiple casters all need to take the same feat, and they must focus on the same spell(s) and coordinate their spellcasting.
Redefining Magical Items' Creation:
The Creation Spells
Designer’s Note: Why spells and not feats
Well, I find 3 compelling motivations for that:
1. Enchanting an item with a magical power means (to me at least) to bind the magical energies to the item, not to beat them into it with a hammer.
2. D&D 3.5e categorizes magical-crafting according to the physical shape of the item to be enchanted. This makes no sense whatsoever, given totally different items can have similar or even identical powers (and wondrous items have no predefined shape/form/usage).
3. One might decide that bestowing magical powers is done while an item is physically crafted. In such case, a spellcaster can always find a crafter and pay for his time (or take the appropriate Craft skill) – but then it would make no sense that an item could be bestowed with magical powers later on.
The binding process itself should be something that’s applicable only magically – and since:
1) I don’t know of any other case where both a specific spell and a specific feat are a requirement for anything
2) the level-“tax” of known spells is already a high enough payment
I see no justification in also requiring the expenditure of feats.
If one insists on not adopting the creation spells approach, then this alternative is a significant improvement over the core creation feats. At the very least it allows a spellcaster to become a master artificer at mid levels.
Level: Bard 4, Druid 3, Mage 3, Priest 3, Witch 3
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: Varies (see below)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
This spell allows the creation of magical items. It is cast repeatedly during the creation process (the exact frequency & casting time are of no significant consequence and are left to the DM’s imagination).
The items to be affected by this spell are solid, manufactured items.
Druids are limited to items made of wood, stone & animal remains (bones, hide, tendons etc).
Enchant Item can also be used to repair damaged magical gear (see the "Repairing Magical Equipment" spoiler below).
Level: Bard 6, Druid 5, Mage 5, Priest 5, Witch 5
This spell uses the same rules as Enchant Item, but enables the creation of Golems – mindless constructs. Golems have Str, Dex, Int stats.
Golems always have Int score 0. They may respond to 5 different short commands issued by their creator only.
Golems don’t have Con, Wis or Cha stats.
Golems usually possess human-level sight & hearing and no other senses.
Used in conjunction with Enchant Item, the spell allows bestowing a golem with (Sp) powers – including other senses and special sensory powers.
The CL of spell effects generated by golems cannot exceed their HD - regardless of the creator's CL.
Druids must create their golems from wood, stone & animal remains.
Create Artificial Sentience
Level: Druid 7, Mage 7, Priest 7, Witch 7
This spell uses the same rules as Enchant Item, but enables the creation of items with personality (Int, Wis & Cha), including sentient constructs. A spellcaster cannot bestow higher mental scores (Int/Wis/Cha) than s/he possesses.
Any and all sensory & communication capabilities of such items are gained by assigning appropriate magical effects via Enchant Item. The exception to this rule is when the spell is used in conjunction with Create Golem, in which case sight & hearing and the ability to speak (Int 3 or more) are already included.
The alignment of sentient items can be either identical to that of the creator or one step away on either axes, but not both.
The CL of spell effects generated by sentient items/constructs may exceed their HD, but still limited to the creator's CL at the time of creation.
Base costs (per effect):
[1000gp x spell-level *] for an expendable power (500 for zero-level spells).
[500gp x SpL] for one-time-use items **.
[4000gp x SpL] for a permanent (reusable) power.
[6000gp x SpL] for emanating ***(always-active) effects of spells with duration other than instantaneous or permanent.
[10000gp x SpL] for ever repeating effects ***: once per round.
[20000gp x SpL] for ever repeating effects ***: per attack.
* Spell level 0 counts as spell level 1/2 for the purpose of pricing items.
** One-time-use items: the following magical items are exclusively class-associated and do not require (or gained via) spells/feats/skills:
- Scrolls can be scribed by the two classes that study their magical art via written text: Priests and Mages.
- Un-tampered vegetation (herb, root, fruit, vegetable, mushroom, bud etc) infused with magical powers can be created by druids.
- Disposable substances (e.g. potions, balms, powders, smoke etc) with magical properties can be concocted in Witches’ cauldron.
*** Emanating & Ever-Repeating effects are valid either for a user of an item (e.g. Boots of Flight) or for the item itself (e.g. trap room with Incendiary Cloud or teleportation chamber). An emanating effect is an effect that's continuously active (e.g. amulet if Protection from Arrows).
Note: Any and all percentage-based calculations below relate directly to base costs, not any mid-way results.
Each CL adds 5% to the initial cost. If CL is irrelevant to a spell’s effect, use the minimal level that grants access to the spell’s level (creator’s choice otherwise).
Each charge costs 50% of initial cost if the item is permanent and 30% if the charges are exhaustible.
All magical items that have temporary charges are rechargeable.
Rechargeable magical items can have up to 50 charges. Once this number is set, it cannot be changed later on.
When recharging items, renewing a charge costs 10% of the item's initial cost.
Spells with costly materials require expenditure of those materials per charge.
Cost reductions for permanent magical items (by frequency of use):
Permanent magical items have #charges limit according to the frequency of use per time quota (each #uses is regarded to as a charge):
-0% – activation per 10-min (once)
-10% – activation per hour (up to 3 times)
-20% – activation per day (up to 6 times)
-30% – activation per week (up to 7 times)
-50% – activation per month or longer (up to 12 times)
Price Increases by Means of Activation:
+0% – Spell Completion (Casting the spell(s) regularly, but without paying the strain toll): Action cost as given in the spell’s description
+10% – Simple activation with vocal & somatic component (irrelevant to the spell’s actual components): Standard action *
+20% – Simple activation without vocal or somatic (at least one is mandatory): Move action *
+30% – Simple activation with either vocal or somatic (owner’s choice with each activation) : Swift action *
+50% – Reactive powers (power activates on its own, in response to a hostile action taken against the owner when used as intended): Non action
* The given action cost represents a best-case scenario. Action cost of item activation cannot go faster than the spell whose effect it generates.
HD: Construct creation of medium-sized constructs has a base cost of 2000 x HD.
Varied Sizes: Each size increase above Medium increases the HD factor of prices by 50% compared to the previous size category. Sizes smaller than Medium reduce 20% per size step.
Construct Ability Scores: Medium-sized constructs start with the following stats: Str 6, Dex 6, Con –, Int 0, Wis 1, Cha 1. Each point increase costs 1000gp. Larger constructs have +4 Str and -2 Dex per size increase. Golems don't possess Wis or Cha and may not have Int above 0.
Energy Resistances: 500gp / point per energy type – up to 30 (15000gp), limited by 5 points per 3 HD in increments of 5.
Energy Immunity: 25000gp (20HD min).
Spell-like Abilities: treat constructs as regular magical items for this purpose.
This is where my inspiration did not prevail in regards to any officially published spells.
The best option I see so far is to make high-level spells specifically for this purpose. These spells will follow the creation rules as given in this topic for other spell effects.
- Instant, changing or exhaustible powers (such as disintegrate, mirror image, quest etc) can't be used to create emanating effects.
- An item’s property must conform to a particular spell effect available to the caster. A spellcaster cannot assign an item with a magical property/behavior unless s/he has an appropriate spell (e.g. Ioun Stone).
- Being magical does not make an item physically more durable to damage/manipulation by any means, unless specific magical effects are keyed particularly for this purpose.
- Use Magic Device skill doesn't exist. An item either requires spell-completion or not.
The idea here is to create magical items with a general pool of charges that power different magical effects.
Initial Item Cost: Each magical power costs [SL x 4000] (permanent effects).
Reduction by Frequency: All powers use the same frequency category (e.g. daily) and have their costs reduced accordingly.
Capacity: Each charge (which represents a single SL in the pool) adds 10% to the item's total cost.
Renewal Rate: For a single charge renewal in the given frequency category (e.g. 1 / day for daily renewal), the item's cost is as given for the above calculation. Each increase of the renewal rate (e.g. 2 charges / day) increases the above calculation by 25% (2 charges for 125%, 3 charges for 150%, etc.)
Sample magical items
Sword +1 of Flaming (assuming Flaming amounts to a 1st level spell)
- Emanating 1st level effect (+6000)
- CL 1st (+300)
- Emanating 1st level effect (+6000)
- CL 1st (+300)
- No spell completion required to use (+600)
This amounts to: 13200gp
Non-rechargeable Wand of Fireball with 20 charges for 7d6:
- Temporary 3rd level effect (+3000)
- CL 7th (+1050)
- 20 charges (+18000)
This amounts to: 22050gp
Ring of invisibility 3 per hour that activates by rubbing the ring and operates at minimum CL:
- Permanent 2nd level power (+8000)
- CL 5th (+2500)
- Hourly use (-1000)
- 3 “charges” (+3000)
- Can be turned on/off with no spell completion and no voice requirement (+2400)
This amounts to: 14900gp
Optional: Spell Durations and Permanency
Spells with duration of 24 hours or longer duration all use the formula given above for permanent magical effects.
Spells with a shorter duration add 10%, 20%, 40% and 80% respectively (see "Spell Durations Redefined" above)
Motivation: Duration is a major balancing factor of spells. More potent effects are given shorter durations, so it only makes sense that turning them into permanent effects should be more costly.
The process of enhancing an item with a magical power requires creation time of 1 day per 1000gp.
Chances of Success
Creating magical items is by no means a guaranteed success. Far from it, there’s about 50% failure chance when attempting to enchant an item with an effect belonging to the highest available spell-level.
- To successfully enchant an item with a magical power, make a [level + STAT-mod] check vs. DC [10 + (3 x Spell-Level)]
- Each effect is checked for separately. In case of failure, no harm done – one can always try again.
- Failure is evident after ½ the process is complete. A spellcaster may either stop there and save the extra cash, or see the process through and gain a cumulative +2 on his next attempt regarding the same effect on a given item.
- Alleviating Factors: Magical items’ creation doesn’t come with an XP toll.
The idea is to slow down the “production line” and to make WBL a little less significant factor. Furthermore, I regard magical items as fantastically-mechanized gadgets. I see no reason whatsoever why items should feed off of one’s XP.
'Personal' Spell Effects
Magical items cannot be enhanced with spell effects that have a noted range of "Personal".
The origin point of such spell effects never departs from the caster's own body, thus cannot be bestowed upon an external target.
Repairing Magical Equipment
If a magical item is damaged, but can still be physically repaired, then it is possible to restore its enchantment.
If the item has been partially or wholly destroyed (disintegrated, burned, dissolved, etc), then it cannot be physically repaired.
First, the item must be fully repaired to its original masterwork quality.
Second, the enchantment needs to be rekindled. The broken pieces still contain residual magical energies, so once the item is made whole, those energies need to be refocused to get the item to full working order.
Repairing the enchantment costs 30% of its creation price and requires 1/2 the time it would take to enchant that item in the first place.
Success, in this case, is automatic.
Note: Disposable substances, obviously, cannot be repaired.
Banned Magical Items
- Items that make specific actions faster: This restriction prevents action-abuse via strange combinations of magical items and features/feats from different sources.
- Items that grant/enhance Class-features/Class-levels/Feats: It's near inconceivable to make a magical item "know" something. It's far too unreasonable to make an item make someone else know how to do something (and then you have the paradox of that someone forgetting what he knew while possessing the item). Furthermore, this restriction would prevent a lot of power-abuse options.
- Portable Hole and other trans-dimensional containers: Way too Disney. There are no reserved "pockets" on other planes/dimensions waiting for someone to "log-in" onto them
Animated constructs & Craft skill
Unlike other magical items, a construct is something that is created magical from the get go. One must combine crafting knowledge and magical prowess during an animation’s physical creation.
Once a construct is finished, its powers cannot be altered. Enchantments that have failed during the construct’s creation cannot be added later on.
For the purpose of creating a golem or any other animated construct (humanoid/animal/plant/furniture/structure...), a spellcaster must have at least 1/2 the ranks as the intended HD in the appropriate Craft branch, and must match or top the target’s HD with his Craft check.
"Artifact" is any crafted item of historical-cultural-ritualistic value. No more, no less.
Since these rules provide the means of creating any magical item that comes to mind, there's no need to invent a special category of magical items.
Typically, magical items that are modified by Tool of the Worthy spell are likely to bare the status of artifacts.
Offensive and Defensive Magical Plusses:
There are no longer standalone offensive or defensive magical plusses to gear.
The basic magical plusses are derived from 5 spells:
- (Greater) Magic Weapon
- (Greater) Magic Fang
- Magic Vestment
This means that you no longer have longsword +3 or breastplate +2, but longsword w/ Greater Magic Weapon and breastplate w/ Magic Vestment. Pluses are no longer a criteria for pricing and they never correlated well with SLs anyway, so no reason to keep them as separate game mechanic.
To keep Rings of Protection viable, Magic Vestment is modified to apply to any donned object – including rings.
The same body slot cannot benefit from more than a single active effect at a time – not even by the same item. Whenever multiple effects originate from the same body slot, they cancel each other out.
Furthermore, while an item in a given body slot has an active effect on, no other effect can be initiated from another (or the same) item on that body slot (the effect simply fizzles).
Example: You can wear two magical necklaces, but only one may serve you at any given moment.
Several official books present rules for grafting body parts, however I haven't yet encountered grafts that are enhanced with magical powers. Here are the requirements I find appropriate for enhancing grafts and turning them into magical items:
A body part harvested for grafting can only remain usable for so long without attention.
To permanently preserve it, it must be enhanced with permanent emanations of Gentle Repose and Regenerate (Hardening is also quite popular when dealing with magical grafts).
From there on it serves as both graft and magic item (including the possibility of being a self-directed construct). When put in place of a severed body part, it attaches itself to place without harm befalling the target creature and replaces the lost part.