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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
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    Default Random thought on spell resistance

    Spell resistance (and to a less degree saving throws) has always bugged me in how binary it is. A monster with spell resistance is either wrecking your world, or you don't even realize he has spell resistance. This makes for a pretty bad mechanic, and incredibly hard to scale.


    As a forewarning, this suggestion would have pretty hefty implications, and yes it would require rewriting the spell list and probably large parts of the magic system. This is more of a concept check than a fully fleshed out idea.

    So here's the idea: Caster level matters. Way more than it does now. Even on save or dies, your caster level gets factored in somehow. Now Spell Resistance, rather than being a roll you have to bypass, instead reduces the effective caster level of your spells against that creature.

    So say you're a level 5 wizard wandering around with a couple fireballs prepared. You run into some goblins! You cast Fireball, deal 5d6 to each of them, they are all incinerated. Next, you run into a drow nocking his longbow and looking at you funny. You try to cast the same fireball on him, but because of his spell resistance of 2, your casterlevel against him is reduced by 2, so your fireball only does 3d6 instead of 5d6 damage!



    Okay, that's it. The big reveal. So, any thoughts on whether this would be worth pursuing?
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    How will it work on spells which don't scale with Caster Level, or spells which scale poorly with caster level? Charm Person, for example, I won't always care if I get 3 hours of charm or only 1. There is also Enervation and other debuffs to consider.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Glimbur View Post
    How will it work on spells which don't scale with Caster Level, or spells which scale poorly with caster level? Charm Person, for example, I won't always care if I get 3 hours of charm or only 1. There is also Enervation and other debuffs to consider.
    Right, these spells would need to be reworked in some way, probably with a caster level threshold required for the full effect, and lesser effects and lower caster levels. It's not something I'd recommend implementing as is, I'm just checking if the concept is sound.

    Something like this could also potentially lead to decreasing number of spells, with a single spell's effect potentially scaling up. Or to keep something closer to the current system these spells would have caster level caps the cap the effect, and higher level versions with higher caster level caps with stronger effect. Say for example Suggestion as a 3rd level spell gets its full effect at caster level 5. However if the power gets dropped down to 3, it might act as a charm effect, and if it goes down below that you only get a diplomacy bonus. Things like that.

    You could even allow stacking of these effects. ie every time you cast you improve a condition track by the caster level, when you hit certain thresholds certain things happen.



    Again just tossing ideas, nothing set in stone yet, it seems like it could lead to a more granular magic, but it could also lead to extra layers of complication.
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    I think that it is a step in the right direction though. And as a general fix to spell resistance it works quite well. With as high as spell resistance can get though, you would have to redo the totals people get. You would need to reduce spell resistance totals by at least half and maybe down to a quarter.
    If your looking for a quick fix why not instead roll against spell resistance as normal and for every point you fail to beat their resistance you suffer a -1 to caster level for the spell. And then have everyone start with 5 or 10 resistance (that stacks with other resistance they may gain).
    Last edited by eftexar; 2011-08-17 at 08:38 PM.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Spell res isn't fire res, it's like a neutralization field, it's magical.
    You might as well try and rewrite AC into a reflex save as the leather armor would block damage.

    It's done this way because it works better. I totally agree with loading up dnd with lots of homebrew wackiness, but I mainly do it without hard numbers or complex thoughts for players.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    I don't see why it has to either be wrecking your world or totally irrelevant. You have a certain chance to get past it, and a certain chance to fail. Since a single spell won't win you the battle anyway except under extraordinary circumstances* (most of which ignore SR anyway), it weakens the casters somewhat but not by a broken amount.

    One might as well say that AC has to be either wrecking the fighter or totally irrelevant.

    *If this is not true, you've got far bigger balance problems than just spell resistance.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    One might as well say that AC has to be either wrecking the fighter or totally irrelevant.
    AC is pretty much irrelevant in a game where standard attacks are the only ones used. It only really becomes a factor when a method of lowering attack rolls is used (ie power attack), or when you use a full attack (increasingly lower attacks). If you make the AC high enough to not be irrelevant in these cases, then you are wrecking the fighter by making all his attacks miss.

    AC is actually a really bad example of a working similar system if you want to argue SR isn't working. When you consider SR is rarer, supposed to be powerful and meaningful at all times, it being a random pass/fail mechanic is very meh.


    Spell res isn't fire res, it's like a neutralization field, it's magical.
    It's a neutralization field that can just be ignored 99% of the time when dealing with equivalent CR encounters. Hardly neutralizing.

    You might as well try and rewrite AC into a reflex save as the leather armor would block damage.
    Armor as DR and avoidance mechanics being separate is a whole 'nother box of worms that will probably be opened down the line. This is for an alternate spell mechanic.
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    I like it. It fits the flavor well, and makes for an interesting mechanic.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    If you want spell resistance to be more applicable at CR appropriate encounters, an alternative option (that would be a lot less work for you) is to simply make it a 50% concealment against spells that allow spell resistance. Every spell that is cast on the creature, regardless of its HD versus the spell, has a 50% chance of failure.

    This makes it less about how powerful the wizard is, and would be much more noticeable to a caster. (Also, it gives them a taste of how annoying they're being to the DM with their miss chance spells)

    Edit: That's not to say your idea wasn't good, Seerow, I was just offering an alternative solution to what I saw as your key problem.
    Last edited by NeoSeraphi; 2011-08-17 at 09:41 PM.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    NS: That solution is actually a workable one. It makes the upgrade from resistance to immunity more palatable as well. Perhaps even have SR just increment in 5%.


    This doesn't really solve the issue of it's binary (ie either the spell hits or misses), but that is a much larger issue within 3.5, that would require more than just one mechanic fix to change, and would instead require a pretty massive revamp to the core system, which seems to be the point of resistance, more than the mechanic not making sense, or being too awkward.
    Last edited by Seerow; 2011-08-17 at 09:46 PM.
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    AC is pretty much irrelevant in a game where standard attacks are the only ones used. It only really becomes a factor when a method of lowering attack rolls is used (ie power attack), or when you use a full attack (increasingly lower attacks). If you make the AC high enough to not be irrelevant in these cases, then you are wrecking the fighter by making all his attacks miss.

    AC is actually a really bad example of a working similar system if you want to argue SR isn't working. When you consider SR is rarer, supposed to be powerful and meaningful at all times, it being a random pass/fail mechanic is very meh.
    I meant how leather is highly fire resistant and that covering yourself in leather IRL would give you about fire res 5 for at least 1 turn.


    It's a neutralization field that can just be ignored 99% of the time when dealing with equivalent CR encounters. Hardly neutralizing.
    Cool story, thats the functionality of SR, it neutralizes magic's effect on you-- like a personal AMF.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Cool story, thats the functionality of SR, it neutralizes magic's effect on you-- like a personal AMF.
    Unfortunately without tinkering with that SR on every encounter to tailor it to your PCs' caster levels, chances are they won't even notice you have spell resistance except that you ask them to roll it. Yes, most standard spell resistance is that bad. And there's a feat that lets them say "Nah I'm not gonna roll, I just beat it"
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    I quite like this idea. I dislike much of 3.5e's binary-ness and this would go a long way to fixing one of them. And I like the mechanic in general.


    Would Spell Penetration simply allow you to treat your opponent's SR as if it were one lower?
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    AC is pretty much irrelevant in a game where standard attacks are the only ones used. It only really becomes a factor when a method of lowering attack rolls is used (ie power attack), or when you use a full attack (increasingly lower attacks). If you make the AC high enough to not be irrelevant in these cases, then you are wrecking the fighter by making all his attacks miss.
    Or when someone really puts substantial investment into AC.

    It's a neutralization field that can just be ignored 99% of the time when dealing with equivalent CR encounters.
    Only when CL is far higher than class level, which was clearly not the scenario envisioned when SR was instituted. Rather than complaining about SR, better to fix CL (and thereby also fix dispelling.)

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    If you want spell resistance to be more applicable at CR appropriate encounters, an alternative option (that would be a lot less work for you) is to simply make it a 50% concealment against spells that allow spell resistance. Every spell that is cast on the creature, regardless of its HD versus the spell, has a 50% chance of failure.
    Problem is that then even a weak creature's SR can protect it against a level 20 wizard, which is sort of silly.

    It would seem to me that a better idea is that anything that boosts CL (except class level and class level equivalents through prestige classes such as mystic theurge) does not boost CL for purposes of any bonus to d20 rolls (including SR penetration and dispel checks) or for setting the DC of d20 checks (so as to keep things balanced.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    And there's a feat that lets them say "Nah I'm not gonna roll, I just beat it"
    What feat would that be? Sounds clearly broken.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Only when CL is far higher than class level, which was clearly not the scenario envisioned when SR was instituted. Rather than complaining about SR, better to fix CL (and thereby also fix dispelling.)
    Actually, no. Even just straight up caster level. Unless the spell resistance is better than 10+level (hint: Most isn't), the caster ignores it.

    As to the feat in question, I don't remember the name, but it lets you take 10 on all caster level checks. For comparison: CR20 Demon/Devil: 28, autopassed. CR20 Red Dragon: 29, autopassed. Just for a few quick examples.


    Without the feat it is better, but as you point out CL boosting effects cause their own problems and can make it a nonissue even without that feat. Eliminating both would end up with roughly the same result as SE's suggestion give or take 15%.
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    So here's the idea: Caster level matters. Way more than it does now. Even on save or dies, your caster level gets factored in somehow.
    I once saw a set of houserules that replaced all instant death effects from spells with 4d6 Constitution damage, perhaps you could make something like that but tied to caster level rather than just being wholly random. You could also apply it to other save-or-loses, flesh-to-stone could deal Dex damage and turn them to stone if it reduced dex to 0 and dominate person could do charisma or will damage or something like that.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Glimbur View Post
    How will it work on spells which don't scale with Caster Level, or spells which scale poorly with caster level? Charm Person, for example, I won't always care if I get 3 hours of charm or only 1.
    I would, since it affects whether you get 3 hours head start before that guy calls the guards or only 1. It won't matter when charming a guy in battle, but that's a use that Charm Person is pretty weak at anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    Actually, no. Even just straight up caster level. Unless the spell resistance is better than 10+level (hint: Most isn't), the caster ignores it.
    Actually, 10+CR or 11+CR is pretty normal. But even at 5+level, the caster can't ignore it, but rather has a 25% failure chance. It's not as if it's a skill check where you can take 10 (not to mention that usually if you need to bypass CR you are in combat and can't take 10 anyway.)

    As to the feat in question, I don't remember the name, but it lets you take 10 on all caster level checks.
    Ah, that explains the above. Although even so, it's not all that much of an issue unless it also allows you to take 10 in combat.

    Without the feat it is better, but as you point out CL boosting effects cause their own problems and can make it a nonissue even without that feat. Eliminating both would end up with roughly the same result as SE's suggestion give or take 15%.
    Actually, it would end up with pretty much exactly the same result as SE's suggestion against a CR=level monster (with a few exceptions such as the roper and gith), but would be far stronger when it's a multiclass caster trying to penetrate SR and far weaker when a 20th level wizard is trying to hit a bunch of Babau minions with a delayed blast fireball so that the party can get on to defeating their Balor master.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Even if it's only 5+HD, that's a 25% chance of ignoring it
    See, that's funny because you're acting like wizards play by the rules they were set by. No, no no. Wizards boost their CL all the time, in every way they can think of. Not to mention you get a +10 to overcome SR with a 1st level spell, (True Casting, Complete Mage) which is insane.

    Wizards don't care about SR at the current stage of the game. They overcome SR with spells. When the very thing that the defense was designed to counter is countering the defense, you've got issues.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Seerow View Post
    Unfortunately without tinkering with that SR on every encounter to tailor it to your PCs' caster levels, chances are they won't even notice you have spell resistance except that you ask them to roll it. Yes, most standard spell resistance is that bad. And there's a feat that lets them say "Nah I'm not gonna roll, I just beat it"
    Yeah, SR is a minor racial feature.

    If your players don't realize someone has SR or not then your DM is either unaware or unwilling to flavor the graphics.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by eftexar View Post
    I think that it is a step in the right direction though. And as a general fix to spell resistance it works quite well. With as high as spell resistance can get though, you would have to redo the totals people get. You would need to reduce spell resistance totals by at least half and maybe down to a quarter.
    Related to this, I can see this system getting really wonky at epic levels( what doesn't?). Lots of epic creatures have spell resitance, and even if it's just the standard 10+HD, many of them have hit die that far exceed their CR. You also have to deal with Paragon and Pseudonatural creatures, which have the best SR boosts in the game.
    Last edited by Darthteej; 2011-08-18 at 01:04 PM.
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Interesting...let me take a stab at it:


    Current rules CR/SR comparison (Demons)

    Babau: CR 6, SR 14
    Balor: CR 20, SR 28
    Glabrezu: CR 13, SR 21
    Hezrou: CR 11, SR 19

    I sense a pattern...current SRs are CR+8 for not specificially-magic-definant creatures.



    So, let's consider your proposal as a starting place. To this, let's add the following:

    1) All SRs are dropped by 10.

    Wizard 6 vs Babau (SR 4). Fireball does 2d6 damage.

    OR

    1B) All SRs are dropped by 14, opponent adds a D8 to their SR as part of the check:

    Wizard 6 vs Babau (SR 1-8). Fireball does anywhere from no damage to normal damage.


    I'm liking 1B. It does away with the binary effect of SR, but it still keeps some variability and chance in it (without the wild swings a D20 would provide). Also, by taking the roll out of the caster's hands, all different varieties of "take 10" and "take 20" cheese go away. Heck, the vast majority of rerolls are personal as well.



    2) "Rule of 0". If a caster's effective caster level is reduced to 0 by SR, the spell has no effect...regardless of whether or not the spell has any level-based modifiers.

    Wizard 13 vs Glabrezu (SR 8-15). Flesh to Stone, on a SR roll of 6-8, fails completely.

    3) "Rule of 2". A power-check, since boosting caster level in this system is now king. NO MATTER WHAT, your CL for any spell you cast cannot exceed your HD+2. Period. No, not even then.

    Wizard 13 w/ tricks vs Glabrezu (SR 8-15) will still have Flesh to Stone fail on a SR roll of 8.

    4) "Rule of 5". This one gets much more complicated. If a spell has a binary effect, but there's a lesser equivalent effect, then SR that would eliminate the effect (by rule of 0) could still be subject to a lesser effect, as if the CL were 5 higher/SR were 5 lower.

    So if a SR roll against a Dominate spell or effect reduced the CL to -2, the result would still be a Charm effect (at CL 3).

    Or of a SR roll against a fear effect reduced the CL to -3, it could still be counted as a shaken effect at CL 2 (or a panicked effect reduced to fear).
    Last edited by Andorax; 2011-08-18 at 01:18 PM.
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    While it's not related to CL, I had another idea on how to make SR useful and non-binary that I could use some feedback on:

    • Take a creature's existing SR and halve it to get its new SR.
    • If a magical effect does allow a save, add a creature's SR to saves against that effect.
    • If a magical effect doesn't allow a save, a creature with SR can make a save against the effect at the normal DC it would have if it allowed a save. The exact save types and reduced effects would have to be fleshed out, but generally speaking, the save would be Ref for Abjuration/Conjuration/Evocation, Will for Enchantment/Divination/Illusion, and Fort for Necromancy/Transmutation, save for half if it has a numerical component (leaving the non-numerical part unchanged) or save for partial otherwise.
    • If a creature with SR beats the save DC by 10, they ignore the effects of the spell/ability entirely.
    • Whether the spell originally allowed a save or not, a creature with SR does not automatically fail the save if it rolls a natural 1.

    Essentially, SR becomes a large save bonus vs. spells plus a limited Evasion and Mettle plus a pseudo-Steadfast Determination, conceptually speaking.

    Examples to illustrate the change:
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    Take the Babau, with its original SR of 14. It now has SR 7. If you chuck an acid arrow at it and hit, it's allowed to make a save against the normal DC for a 2nd level Conjuration, which we'll say for the sake of argument is 20 (DC 10 + 2 level + 6 Int + 1 SF + 1 GSF). A Babau has a total Ref mod of +6 (its SR 7 isn't added because the acid arrow doesn't normally allow a save), so it has a 65% chance to take full damage, a 35% chance to take half damage, and a 0% chance to ignore the spell entirely. Against a DC 20 fireball, which does normally allow a save, it could add its SR 7 to the save for a total Ref mod of +13, getting a 30% chance to take full damage, a 70% chance to take half damage, and a 20% chance to take no damage.

    Throw the same acid arrow at a Marilith (Ref +14) and it would have a 25% chance to take full damage, a 50% chance to take half damage, and a 25% chance to ignore the spell entirely; against the same fireball, the Marilith's SR 12 (half of its existing SR 25) means it always takes no damage, because it can't auto-fail on a 1 and therefore succeeds every time without rolling with its total Ref mod of +26. A Balor's +19 Ref save lets it entirely ignore both the acid arrow and the fireball every time for the same reason before factoring in its SR 14.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    If you want spell resistance to be more applicable at CR appropriate encounters, an alternative option (that would be a lot less work for you) is to simply make it a 50% concealment against spells that allow spell resistance. Every spell that is cast on the creature, regardless of its HD versus the spell, has a 50% chance of failure.

    This makes it less about how powerful the wizard is, and would be much more noticeable to a caster. (Also, it gives them a taste of how annoying they're being to the DM with their miss chance spells)

    Edit: That's not to say your idea wasn't good, Seerow, I was just offering an alternative solution to what I saw as your key problem.
    That's actually how it worked in previous editions, spell resistance being a percentage that you rolled against. I don't recall any ways off hand of changing that for casters, either.

    As for PairO-Dice's solution, that does look rather neat. How does Spell Penetration figure into it, though? Would it increase the save DC, reduce the target's spell penetration by 1-2? Do other spell resistance piercing assistants still exist in the system?
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Hanuman View Post
    Spell res isn't fire res, it's like a neutralization field, it's magical.
    You might as well try and rewrite AC into a reflex save as the leather armor would block damage.

    It's done this way because it works better. I totally agree with loading up dnd with lots of homebrew wackiness, but I mainly do it without hard numbers or complex thoughts for players.
    Agreed, SR is a neutralizing field, not a "dampening" field.
    It's in the same way that AC blocks attacks, instead of reducing damage, like DR or fire/electric/cold/etc resistence does.

    Could be worse. In AD&D, spell resistance was a fixed % value. Like, sometimes when you attacked some monsters, it could have a 75% chance of saying "nope" to your spell. No matter if you are 1st level, or a near-deity 25th level.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    See, that's funny because you're acting like wizards play by the rules they were set by.
    That's because I'm working under the assumption that this is used together with the other fix I suggested in this thread, namely "anything that boosts CL (except class level and class level equivalents through prestige classes such as mystic theurge) does not boost CL for purposes of any bonus to d20 rolls (including SR penetration and dispel checks) or for setting the DC of d20 checks (so as to keep things balanced.)"

    Not to mention you get a +10 to overcome SR with a 1st level spell, (True Casting, Complete Mage) which is insane.
    Not really, since it means you're essentially spending 2 actions for 1 effect.

    Wizards don't care about SR at the current stage of the game. They overcome SR with spells. When the very thing that the defense was designed to counter is countering the defense, you've got issues.
    Yes, but the answer doesn't have to be any more complex than rolling back the stage of the game.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    Not really, since it means you're essentially spending 2 actions for 1 effect.
    It's a swift action to cast, so you're still getting it off in one round. By the time it matters, 1st level spells aren't really exceedingly important to your well being in effectiveness in encounters, so filling your slots with True Casting or investing in 1st level Pearls of Power isn't expensive or taxing. The only saving grace is that True Casting only affects the next spell you cast, so you have to make sure it counts. Plus, it leaves Assay Spell Resistance room to rock to its own tune, which is another problem entirely.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mulletmanalive View Post
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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Yitzi View Post
    That's because I'm working under the assumption that this is used together with the other fix I suggested in this thread, namely "anything that boosts CL (except class level and class level equivalents through prestige classes such as mystic theurge) does not boost CL for purposes of any bonus to d20 rolls (including SR penetration and dispel checks) or for setting the DC of d20 checks (so as to keep things balanced.)"
    Nice. So you're assuming Seerow accepts your fix as a replacement to the actual game, when he has given no evidence to the contrary.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Cieyrin View Post
    It's a swift action to cast
    Ah, ok. So then yes it is broken. But one spell being broken isn't the same thing as SR being broken.

    Plus, it leaves Assay Spell Resistance room to rock to its own tune, which is another problem entirely.
    That spell is just plain broken.

    Quote Originally Posted by NeoSeraphi View Post
    Nice. So you're assuming Seerow accepts your fix as a replacement to the actual game, when he has given no evidence to the contrary.
    No, I'm supporting the claim that my fix will work (trace back the quoting, and you'll hit the very CL-fix I mentioned), and so of course argue based on a system where it is implemented.

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    Default Re: Random thought on spell resistance

    Quote Originally Posted by Cieyrin View Post
    As for PairO-Dice's solution, that does look rather neat. How does Spell Penetration figure into it, though? Would it increase the save DC, reduce the target's spell penetration by 1-2? Do other spell resistance piercing assistants still exist in the system?
    Spell Penetration would probably increase the DC by 1, and other things like assay resistance would have their effects halved or quartered to fit the new scale.
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