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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Orc in the Playground
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    Nov 2010

    Default [3.5] Paying a Price (optional rules for Spellcasting)

    I wanted to play around with a grittier, yet more versatile Spellcasting System. It gives three distinct flavors to different spellcaster types.

    Advantages to this would include no upper limit to the amount of spells that could be cast in a single day. However, wielders of magic have to pay a price to do so.

    Those that used to play 2nd Edition may recognize some familiar themes. I will admit that this was inspired by an old publication by TSR, Player's Option: Spells and Magic.

    New Rules for Magic

    All spellcasters use the Spell Point system, as listed in Unearthed Arcana (p153-156), with the following options and changes:

    0-level spells (cantrips & orisons) cost 1/3 spellpoint to cast, and fractional accounting is used for this purpose. They are still treated as having no cost in all other ways (such as setting DCs based on spellpoint costs).

    Clerics are always treated as having their Domain spells prepared, but don't have cure or inflict spells automatically prepared.

    Metamagic effects require additional spellpoint costs, but cannot normally be used if it increases the spell's effective level above what the caster is capable of casting.

    Specific Rules for Individual Classes
    Certain sets of spellcasters also have additional abilities & restrictions, as listed below:

    Arcane spellcasters (sorcerers, wizards, & bards)

    Use the Vitalizing variant (Unearthed Arcana p156-157), with the option to exceed the normal pool of spellpoints. The Concentration DC is increased to 20 + spellpoint cost, though none of the other conditions are changed.

    Divine nature-based spellcasters (druids & rangers)

    In addition to using their own innate spellpoint pool, they must spend at least 1 spellpoint from an outside source in order to successfully cast their spells. These extra spellpoints must be gathered through Preserving (druids may also gather spellpoints by Defiling).

    Preserving (Su): As a move action, the caster may draw 1 spellpoint + 1 per 5 caster levels from the energies of nature surrounding him. This action can be continued over consecutive rounds, but once it is stopped, it must be used to cast a spell with your next available action, or this energy disperses (as does any excess after the spell is cast). Preserving is not considered part of the spellcasting process, so it does not provoke an attack of opportunity, nor can spellcasting be disrupted because of interference (such as damage) during this process.

    Defiling (Su): Also known as Blighting, this is a process similar to Preserving, but draws more deeply on the life force of nature. A move action that follows all of the above rules, except 2 spellpoints +1 per 3 caster levels are gained instead, and it has additional effects.

    Defiling razes the earth and kills all vegetation in a radius of 5 ft per spellpoint gathered in this manner (0-level spells only effect the square the spellcaster occupies). This area becomes barren for decades, even centuries, and spellcasters cannot gain spellpoints within this area by Preserving or Defiling.

    All creatures that are in this area when the spellcaster is Defiling (except for the caster and any creatures immune to energy drain) must make a Fort save (DC 10 + spellpoints gathered), or become sickened for 1 round. Creatures with the Plant type also take damage equal to the spellpoints gathered on a failed save.

    Defiling is an evil act. It also violates most druids' spiritual oaths (though there are some sects that allow, and even encourage Defiling).

    Divine deity-based spellcasters (clerics & paladins)

    In addition to using the standard rules, they also gain the ability to Implore.

    Implore (Sp): When the spellcaster does not have enough spellpoints available to cast the desired spell, they can use a swift action to make a special request to their deity, in order to cast the spell. Casting the spell requires a caster level check (DC is 20 + spellpoints needed to cast the spell), and a successful check means the spell may be cast, without any ill effects.

    A failed check means the spell cannot be cast, and the deity has been displeased by the spellcaster (the spellcaster used his normal spellcasting ability irresponsibly, or simply asked too much from the god). As a result, the spellcaster is considered to have willingly violated the code of conduct, and loses all associated class features (spellcasting, turn/rebuke undead, etc) until the spellcaster atones.

    Feat: Enhanced Metamagic [General]
    You have a talent using metamagic to enhance your spells.
    Prerequisites: Any metamagic feat
    Benefit: Choose a metamagic feat you know. You can apply that metamagic feat to any of your spells, even if it increases the effective level of the spell above the maximum spell level you can cast. You must have enough spellpoints available to pay this increased cost (spells increased above 9th-level increase in cost by 3 spellpoints per additional spell level).
    Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Each time you take this feat, it applies to a new metamagic feat.
    A wizard can select Enhanced Metamagic as a bonus feat.

    I'm curious what people think. It obviously shifts game balance, but I don't think it would destroy it.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Titan in the Playground
     
    Quellian-dyrae's Avatar

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    Default Re: [3.5] Paying a Price (optional rules for Spellcasting)

    The thing with the Vitalizing variant is that it can basically just give infinite SP by third level. As soon as the divine casters get Lesser Restoration, they can bring a caster up to 2/3 SP for a mere 3 or 6 SP spent.

    With these variants, it's slightly harder (since only the arcane casters vitalize), but a druid can just Preserve up a Lesser Restoration between battles at no cost, giving the arcane casters an infinite SP pool. Preserve your good buffs as well, and the druid can go all day with a souped up Wild Shape and Animal Companion, and save its actual SP for direct use spells.

    End game though, you still have infinite arcane SP as long as there's a third level or higher druid in the party.

    I...also should note that the "prices" being paid here are largely fluff. Fatigue and Exhaustion cause almost no real harm to most arcane casters (gishes perhaps, but not most pure casters). Preserving can be something of an annoyance for in-battle casting, but you can still just Preserve as move and cast as standard, so it only really limits mobility - in exchange for essentially free pre-combat buffing, it's a great deal. Imploring I just don't see ever getting used, except as a truly last-ditch panic button; the cost is too high and the risk is too great.

    Now, if you are wanting to add some flavor to casting while upping its power, this works fine. Likewise, if you are playing with a group you can trust not to exploit the system, you should be solid. If you want to be implementing a significant mechanical cost to spellcasting, though, I think you need to revise the mechanics some. I'd suggest something like this:

    Spoiler
    Show
    Vitalizing: Fatigue and exhaustion caused by SP loss cannot be healed by means other than rest. Fatigue also imposes a -2 penalty on spell save DCs and increases the SP cost for all spells by 2. Exhaustion also imposes a -6 penalty on spell save DCs and increases the SP cost for all spells by 6.

    Low-Powered Sub-Variant: The fatigue and exhaustion simply can't be healed, even by rest, unless the character's SP are above the appropriate threshold.

    Preserving: The required SP for Preserving is an extra spell point required to cast the spell; it does not actually reduce the spell's cost. Additional SP from Preserving or Defiling do count towards the normal cost of the spell. However, a character cannot apply more than the spell level - 1 additional SP to a spell from Preserving or Defiling.

    Low-Powered Sub-Variant: The required SP becomes equal to the spell level. Characters cannot Preserve or Defile for extra SP to lower the spell cost.

    Imploring: Imploring simply reduces the SP cost of a spell, and a character can Implore for part of the spell's SP cost if it wishes. The DC to implore, and the resulting penalties, vary based on the cause the spell is being used to promote. The SP portion of the DC is based on the SP paid by imploring, not the total SP cost of the spell (so imploring for 5 SP on a 5th level spell would have a DC of the base amount +5, not +9).

    Where normal divine spells are granted almost unconsciously, imploring requires some degree of active attention on the deity's part, and some expenditure of its own power. As a result, even spells cast for causes important to the deity could result in a failure.

    Failures that cause additional SP cost represent that the deity does not wish to grant the additional power for this purpose, and the increased casting difficulty that results from the distraction caused, but does not indicate any ill will on the deity's part.

    Failures that merely cause the spell to fail indicate that the deity does not agree with this use of the spell at all.

    Failures that cause loss of class features indicate direct distaste on the deity's part.

    At the DM's discretion, a cleric might have to implore the deity when casting for any cause with a base DC of 20 or higher (although it can implore for 0 SP to keep the DC low).

    {table=head]Cause|DC|Fail
    Support of the deity's portfolio or goals|5+SP|Spell costs additional SP equal to SL
    Support of goals or portfolio allied to deity|10+SP|Spell costs twice as many SP
    Personal benefit of the caster|15+SP|Spell fails, SP not spent
    Benefit of some person or goal the deity is not concerned with|15+SP|Spell fails, SP still spent
    Cause the deity is averse to|20+SP|Spell fails, SP spent, lose class features for one day
    Cause the deity is against|25+SP|Spell fails, SP spent, lose class features until atone (no XP cost)
    Cause the deity diametrically opposes|30+SP|Spell fails, SP spent, lose class features until atone (with XP cost)[/table]

    Low-Powered Sub-Variant: Divine casters must implore for every spell cast, although they can implore for 0 SP. For a particularly low-powered variant, imploring doesn't reduce the cost, and the SP modifier to the DC is simply the SP cost of the spell.



    That would still keep some degree of being more powerful than even the basic SP system. Arcane casters can still go all day if they can some breaks, albeit they'll be a bit weaker. Nature casters can reduce (but not eliminate) SP costs by spending actions, making it easier to buff but harder to cast in combat. Divine casters can greatly reduce or even eliminate SP costs if they are working in direct support of their deity's portfolio, although they may have to pay a surcharge every so often if they try to eliminate the cost of every spell. It's still quite a high-powered variant, but not infinite.

    The sub-variants would be things that actually make characters weaker than the baseline for the SP variant (although whether or not they're weaker than standard casters would be a toss-up; SP is pretty strong, especially for prepared casters).
    A role playing game is three things. It is an interactive story, a game of chance, and a process in critical thinking.

    If brevity is the soul of wit, I'm witty like a vampire!

    World of Aranth
    M&M 3e Character Guide

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Orc in the Playground
    Join Date
    Nov 2010

    Default Re: [3.5] Paying a Price (optional rules for Spellcasting)

    The thing with the Vitalizing variant is that it can basically just give infinite SP by third level. As soon as the divine casters get Lesser Restoration, they can bring a caster up to 2/3 SP for a mere 3 or 6 SP spent.

    With these variants, it's slightly harder (since only the arcane casters vitalize), but a druid can just Preserve up a Lesser Restoration between battles at no cost, giving the arcane casters an infinite SP pool. Preserve your good buffs as well, and the druid can go all day with a souped up Wild Shape and Animal Companion, and save its actual SP for direct use spells.

    End game though, you still have infinite arcane SP as long as there's a third level or higher druid in the party.

    [snip]

    Vitalizing: Fatigue and exhaustion caused by SP loss cannot be healed by means other than rest.
    Infinite casting (potentially, in the case of clerics/paladins) was actually an intended part of the change, but spells like lesser restoration were something I had been considering options for. Your solution right there is a simple & very effective solution. I'm probably going to roll with that.

    Another problem pointed out elsewhere involved spellcasters that don't have to deal with fatigue (such as undead or constructs). The solution presented in that case was having the spellcaster suffer its effects, even if they normally wouldn't, the fluff being it draws on their animating force.
    I...also should note that the "prices" being paid here are largely fluff. Fatigue and Exhaustion cause almost no real harm to most arcane casters (gishes perhaps, but not most pure casters). Preserving can be something of an annoyance for in-battle casting, but you can still just Preserve as move and cast as standard, so it only really limits mobility - in exchange for essentially free pre-combat buffing, it's a great deal. Imploring I just don't see ever getting used, except as a truly last-ditch panic button; the cost is too high and the risk is too great.
    I was trying to balance having an actual price VS interfering too much with gameplay. I didn't intend for this as a nerf or a buff for spellcasters, just something different that adds flavor.
    Now, if you are wanting to add some flavor to casting while upping its power, this works fine. Likewise, if you are playing with a group you can trust not to exploit the system, you should be solid. If you want to be implementing a significant mechanical cost to spellcasting, though, I think you need to revise the mechanics some. I'd suggest something like this:

    Vitalizing: Fatigue and exhaustion caused by SP loss cannot be healed by means other than rest. Fatigue also imposes a -2 penalty on spell save DCs and increases the SP cost for all spells by 2. Exhaustion also imposes a -6 penalty on spell save DCs and increases the SP cost for all spells by 6.

    Low-Powered Sub-Variant: The fatigue and exhaustion simply can't be healed, even by rest, unless the character's SP are above the appropriate threshold.
    I like both of these ideas potentially, but I want to think on the matter a bit first.
    Preserving: The required SP for Preserving is an extra spell point required to cast the spell; it does not actually reduce the spell's cost. Additional SP from Preserving or Defiling do count towards the normal cost of the spell. However, a character cannot apply more than the spell level - 1 additional SP to a spell from Preserving or Defiling.

    Low-Powered Sub-Variant: The required SP becomes equal to the spell level. Characters cannot Preserve or Defile for extra SP to lower the spell cost.
    On the flip side, I don't really like either one of these. The first part takes away from the "potentially infinite" goal, while at the same time not adding anything. The second part is just a nerf, without adding anything interesting.
    Implore...stuff
    You know, a chart very much like that was already in that Players Option book I was referring to. I decided against it, as I thought it just opened up too much debate between the PC & DM.

    I actually like that as-is, as far as being a risky Panic Button. They are largely unchanged in normal gameplay, which helps distinguish each style of spellcasting, but they have an option in the most dire emergencies.
    Last edited by Adamantrue; 2011-08-17 at 03:40 PM.

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