Thread: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

1. Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Volatile Spell
Benefit: The spell modified by this metamagic feat is unpredictable, and as likely to work better than intended as it is to work worse. Replace all dice used to calculate variable effects of the spell (such as damage) with dice of the next larger size (d2, d4, d6, d8, d10, 2d6). The spell's variable effects are reduced by 1 per die.
(So a Volatile Fireball from a 5th level wizard would deal 5d8-5 damage (0-35 instead of 5-30). Magic Missile would deal 3d6 damage instead of 3d4+3)

Averaged Spell
Benefit: The spell modified by this metamagic feat is more predictable and calculated than normal. Replace all dice used to calculate variable effects of the spll (such as damage) with dice of the next smaller size (d2, d4, d6, d8, d10, 2d6). The spell's variable effects are increased by 1 per die.
(So an Averaged Fireball from a 5th level wizard would deal 5d4+5 damage (10-25 instead of 5-30). Magic Missile would deal 3d2+6 instead of 3d4+3)

I know these are kind of weak... not really a point in taking them. So I was thinking of combining both into one feat. Something like this:

Calculated Spell
Benefit: At the time of casting the modified spell, you may choose to increase or decrease the size of dice used to calculate the spell's variable effects by one step (d2, d4, d6, d8, d10, 2d6). If you choose an increased die size, then the spell's effects are reduced by 1 point per die rolled. If you choose a decreased die size, then the spell's effects are increased by 1 point per die rolled.
(So a Calculated Fireball from a 5th level wizard could deal 5d4+5, 5d6, or 5d8-5 damage (10-25, 5-30, or 0-35 damage))

2. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Calculated Spell is probably fine, yes. No real need to have the other two separate.

3. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

One, simple and easy way of abuse: Volatile Maximized Twinned Ray of Stupidity.

4. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by Xerlith
One, simple and easy way of abuse: Volatile Maximized Twinned Ray of Stupidity.
Ooh, yeah, volatile is kinda nice with maximize. You're basically adding one point of damage per damage die, and +0 metamagics are things you'd generally like to use anyway, because of mitigation.

5. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Honestly, I let people with big dice pools take average if they want, so I wouldn't even charge a feat for Calculated Spell.

6. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by NichG
Honestly, I let people with big dice pools take average if they want, so I wouldn't even charge a feat for Calculated Spell.
It's possible that it's actually better if it's a feat, unless you're counting it as metamagic when you give it for free. If you're handing everyone a little piece of +0 metamagic for no investment, that's just a free step down the merry path of mail manning. I'm pretty sure that those builds often take invisible spell, which is an utterly broken feat, but is less so when used with an orb. Average spell actually seems like the kinda effect that mailmen would want anyway, what with their general goal of always delivering the mail. Hitting a more average number set would help out with that a little. I honestly don't know if these are good or bad things where the feat's existence is concerned.

7. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by eggynack
It's possible that it's actually better if it's a feat, unless you're counting it as metamagic when you give it for free. If you're handing everyone a little piece of +0 metamagic for no investment, that's just a free step down the merry path of mail manning. I'm pretty sure that those builds often take invisible spell, which is an utterly broken feat, but is less so when used with an orb. Average spell actually seems like the kinda effect that mailmen would want anyway, what with their general goal of always delivering the mail. Hitting a more average number set would help out with that a little. I honestly don't know if these are good or bad things where the feat's existence is concerned.
I don't count it as anything, its just an alternate rule for evaluating damage. Basically I just say 'hey, if you're rolling more than 6 dice for your damage, feel free to take average'. It speeds up gameplay at the table immensely. In fact, for people who can't add quickly, I tend to remind them of this option constantly and get a bit more insistent.

Over many rolls, it all averages out in the end, and large die pools average out quickly enough that they're not usually interesting to roll.

8. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

I like the idea of letting players take average. We played another system years ago that one player managed to need 140 dice for. We let him average 120 of that, but roll the last 20 so the attack was a little more interesting.

Regarding the Volatile (or Calculated) + Maximized mechanic... There are other feats and features that grant +1 damage per die. You're essentially turning this into that, and I don't see a problem there.

I'm debating making a gambler or mathematician class/archetype and wanted to get everyone's opinions about these effects.

9. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by gr8artist
Regarding the Volatile (or Calculated) + Maximized mechanic... There are other feats and features that grant +1 damage per die. You're essentially turning this into that, and I don't see a problem there.
Well, if there is a problem, which I'm not sure there is, it's that this is metamagic. In particular, it's a +0 metamagic. That means that it automatically has intrinsic value beyond what it strictly says on the feat. When used with maximize, I'm saying that it's an extra damage per die over what these builds would be doing anyway, while the +1 damage per die feats and features aren't necessarily going to be a part of such builds. It's all about effects like arcane thesis when you get down to it. You don't even necessarily need to be a mailman to want the whole arcane thesis/+0 metamagic combo either. I'm not saying that it's a thing that should completely dissuade you, but it's a thing you should consider.

10. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

improving your central tendency is a powerful effect of itself, definitely worth a feat.

the next step is more probably d12 than 2d6, though. d10 to 2d6-1 is nearly always an improvement.

11. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Arcane Thesis won't let you lower the spell slot beyond its normal spell level. So no ArcThe/CalcSpell Fireball as a 2nd level.
and yeah, it should be 1d12, but then the next step would be 1d20. This way we can at least go with 2d8. And it's kinda' a reward for getting the typical d6 up to a d10 anyway.

12. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by gr8artist
Arcane Thesis won't let you lower the spell slot beyond its normal spell level. So no ArcThe/CalcSpell Fireball as a 2nd level.
and yeah, it should be 1d12, but then the next step would be 1d20. This way we can at least go with 2d8. And it's kinda' a reward for getting the typical d6 up to a d10 anyway.
That's not really what the mailman does anyway. You apply maximize spell, pushing the spell level to five, and then you apply calculated spell, lowering the spell level to four. You're reducing the cost of other metamagic by using arcane thesis and +0 metamagic. Such is the nature of metamagic cost reduction, and by extension, the mailman. I believe that invisible spell is a component of such builds, and this is probably better.

13. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

wouldn't Arcane thesis just activate when you applied maximize to the spell? Surely its effects do not stack (multiple metamagic meaning multiple -1's). Also, AT obviously implies that it's not supposed to work with +0 MM's (since it specifically exempts "Heighten Spell") and is therefore not intended to work in the way you're describing.
Problems with AT interacting with multiple +0 MM's, or in fact, any +0 MM's at all, seem to me to be the problem of the DM and/or player trying to swing something like this. Not a flaw of the feat itself, but a poor interpretation of the RAW.

14. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by gr8artist
wouldn't Arcane thesis just activate when you applied maximize to the spell? Surely its effects do not stack (multiple metamagic meaning multiple -1's).
It only has one effect, so stacking is not an issue; it simply cuts down effective spell level increase by the number of applied metamagics.

Also, AT obviously implies that it's not supposed to work with +0 MM's (since it specifically exempts "Heighten Spell") and is therefore not intended to work in the way you're describing.
Heighten Spell is not a +0 metamagic feat. Not even slightly. It's a +X feat, where X is variable, and where X not only adjusts the slot level needed, but the actual spell level too for all purposes. As such, the reason AT excludes it has nothing at all to do with +0 metamagic, and everything to do with not wanting to give actual spell levels away for free, which is something that doesn't actually make sense.

Whether AT is in fact designed deliberately to include +0 metamagic is unknown, so far as I know; it probably didn't really take those into account much. However, we can be rather certain that it did not deliberately intend to exclude them, because that's not the basic function of any of its text, and because errata nerfed it only slightly, to avoid Invisible Spell fireball at level 2 (but affected no other interactions, only the minimum spell level of the final result).

15. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by gr8artist
wouldn't Arcane thesis just activate when you applied maximize to the spell? Surely its effects do not stack (multiple metamagic meaning multiple -1's). Also, AT obviously implies that it's not supposed to work with +0 MM's (since it specifically exempts "Heighten Spell") and is therefore not intended to work in the way you're describing.
Problems with AT interacting with multiple +0 MM's, or in fact, any +0 MM's at all, seem to me to be the problem of the DM and/or player trying to swing something like this. Not a flaw of the feat itself, but a poor interpretation of the RAW.
Multiple iterations of metamagic on arcane thesis absolutely stack. As a reference, I cite the PHB II errata, which states, "If you were to prepare an empowered maximized magic missile (assuming magic missile is the spell you choose for your Arcane Thesis), it would be prepared as a 4th level spell (+1 level for empowered, down from +2; and +2 levels for maximized, down from +3)." That clearly indicates that you reduce each metamagic by one, instead of reducing the ultimate price by one.

To address heighten, the reasons for it not working are twofold. The first is the rationale, which is that its explicit purpose is to increase the slot of a spell, so reducing that makes absolutely no sense. The second is the RAW, which is that heighten doesn't work because the feat says it doesn't work. Every metamagic apart from that works perfectly fine, and there's no justification for your claim that the reason for heighten being disallowed is because it's a +0. The fact that it's not a +0 notwithstanding, there were several +0 metamagics published prior to the PHB II, like energy substitution, and none of them are mentioned within the context of the feat. This all seems rather clear cut, and my claims about the RAW are far from dubious. This is how the feat works.

Edit: Partially swordsage'd by TuggyNE. I got to use that nifty errata quote though, so I've gotta figure that it was all worth it. I love it when arguments I've had in the past give me the ammunition for arguments I'm having now.

16. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

For what its worth IMC I don't let Arcane Thesis make something cost negative. In a more general sense, I do not permit a metamagic to have a negative total modifier unless the metamagic itself specifically states its modifier as negative (I think Sanctum Spell is the only one that does this?), and in such cases I would not allow something to 'reduce it' to a more negative number.

RAW or not, the alternative gives rise to nonsensical things like the effect that adding any new metamagic to the system, regardless of what it actually does, increases the degree to which other metamagics may be mitigated. If you ever ended up with a +0 metamagic that could be applied multiple times, it'd be an instant infinite combo.

17. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by NichG
RAW or not, the alternative gives rise to nonsensical things like the effect that adding any new metamagic to the system, regardless of what it actually does, increases the degree to which other metamagics may be mitigated. If you ever ended up with a +0 metamagic that could be applied multiple times, it'd be an instant infinite combo.
Sure, I guess. That's not a thing though, so we may delight in this fact. My point, lost though it may be in this haze of odd RAW arguments, was that any +0 metamagic should be considered in conjunction with arcane thesis. This feat makes arcane thesis a bit more powerful, because it accomplishes effects in conjunction with other metamagic feats, and having multiple metamagic feats act in conjunction is basically what arcane thesis does. In any case, the RAW of the situation seems really clear cut to me, especially with that errata specifically saying that reducing a spell below zero isn't allowed. It wouldn't make any sense for that errata to exist if +0's didn't become -1's.

18. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by eggynack
Sure, I guess. That's not a thing though, so we may delight in this fact. My point, lost though it may be in this haze of odd RAW arguments, was that any +0 metamagic should be considered in conjunction with arcane thesis. This feat makes arcane thesis a bit more powerful, because it accomplishes effects in conjunction with other metamagic feats, and having multiple metamagic feats act in conjunction is basically what arcane thesis does. In any case, the RAW of the situation seems really clear cut to me, especially with that errata specifically saying that reducing a spell below zero isn't allowed. It wouldn't make any sense for that errata to exist if +0's didn't become -1's.
Honestly, I think this is binding your own hands as a designer too much. Its one thing to argue that RAW should be the bread and butter of discussion of rules questions, because its the only hard standard that can be assumed to be shared, but its another thing to say that flaws in RAW should be taken into account when doing Homebrew design.

I'd say its sufficient to make homebrew that is internally solidly written and doesn't have problems with respect to your own view of RAMS (Rules as Makes Sense). If people bring up a RAW combo, I think its sufficient to just nod and move on. At the end of the day, if its unacceptable to a given table within the scope of the rules they do follow then they just won't use your homebrew, or they'll fix it themselves.

The alternative is that you may eschew a number of interesting ideas (like +0 Metamagics that change the flavor but not power of a spell) because of RAW exploits that are going to in practice be patched in most cases where the exploit actually bothers people.

That is to say, if people are already okay with -1 metamagics via Arcane Thesis, adding a few more is not likely going to make them go 'okay, NOW its overpowered'. They've basically already accepted the premise that they can live with a Mailman who can one-shot any targets he can get his spells to make successfully affect.

19. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by NichG
Honestly, I think this is binding your own hands as a designer too much. Its one thing to argue that RAW should be the bread and butter of discussion of rules questions, because its the only hard standard that can be assumed to be shared, but its another thing to say that flaws in RAW should be taken into account when doing Homebrew design.

I'd say its sufficient to make homebrew that is internally solidly written and doesn't have problems with respect to your own view of RAMS (Rules as Makes Sense). If people bring up a RAW combo, I think its sufficient to just nod and move on. At the end of the day, if its unacceptable to a given table within the scope of the rules they do follow then they just won't use your homebrew, or they'll fix it themselves.

The alternative is that you may eschew a number of interesting ideas (like +0 Metamagics that change the flavor but not power of a spell) because of RAW exploits that are going to in practice be patched in most cases where the exploit actually bothers people.

That is to say, if people are already okay with -1 metamagics via Arcane Thesis, adding a few more is not likely going to make them go 'okay, NOW its overpowered'. They've basically already accepted the premise that they can live with a Mailman who can one-shot any targets he can get his spells to make successfully affect.
I don't really think that the current arcane thesis rules lack logic. Why would the effects of multiple metamagics not stack? The -1 thing is a little odd, but it's not like it doesn't make any sense. In any case, I never really said that this feat was going to break the game with arcane thesis. Arcane thesis does a good enough job of that on its own. However, this does make arcane thesis better, and that's a ramification that the OP didn't expect or know about. Thus, it's worth mentioning, even if it's not the biggest thing in the world.

I was fully willing to nod and move on after I brought it up and my point was understood by the OP, but folks kept questioning the validity of my claims, despite the fact that arcane thesis is a fairly well tread corner of high optimization. Saying, "Yeah, alright, this makes arcane thesis a little better. Perhaps we may now explore other ramifications of the feat," is a perfectly valid path to take, but it's not really a path that anyone did take, which leaves us where we are now.

Edit: Also, the flaws in RAW should obviously be taken into account in homebrew design, at least to some extent. You can fix the design with respect to that flaw, or acknowledge that the flaw exists and continue under the premise that it doesn't, or see the flaw and think that it makes the design better. You can really do anything you want with respect to the flaw. The one thing you should really never do is just ignore it, and act like it doesn't exist. Even homebrew exists within a larger scope, and assessing within the parameters of that scope is crucial.

20. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by gr8artist
Arcane Thesis won't let you lower the spell slot beyond its normal spell level. So no ArcThe/CalcSpell Fireball as a 2nd level.
and yeah, it should be 1d12, but then the next step would be 1d20. This way we can at least go with 2d8. And it's kinda' a reward for getting the typical d6 up to a d10 anyway.
by averages, 3d4, actually. this actually centralizes the result even more, but, well.

actually hm a +1 metamagic which lets you change the dice to whatever you'd like, but adds a constant factor to keep the mean roll the same (negative possibilities not allowed) could possibly be worth taking. whether that would bee too powerful, hm.

21. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by eggynack
Edit: Also, the flaws in RAW should obviously be taken into account in homebrew design, at least to some extent. You can fix the design with respect to that flaw, or acknowledge that the flaw exists and continue under the premise that it doesn't, or see the flaw and think that it makes the design better. You can really do anything you want with respect to the flaw. The one thing you should really never do is just ignore it, and act like it doesn't exist. Even homebrew exists within a larger scope, and assessing within the parameters of that scope is crucial.
Well, out of the 5 D&D DMs I've played with, none of them would allow the Arcane Thesis trick to work (and I would not either). The same goes for stuff like drown-healing, Mind Blank protecting from True Seeing, Pazuzu x3, Sarrukhs, and the like. I think its silly to worry overly much about stuff that matters only at <17% of tables. I would certainly not call it crucial. In the same vein, I don't consider Pun Pun and his balance relative to every bit of homebrew I make, because in practice it's a non-issue.

That said, I can understand why it'd be a bigger point for you if you're in or run at one of those <17% strictly-by-RAW tables.

22. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Why are you letting one poorly designed feat from a random splatbook affect how you judge perfectly reasonable metamagic?

23. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by NichG
Well, out of the 5 D&D DMs I've played with, none of them would allow the Arcane Thesis trick to work (and I would not either). The same goes for stuff like drown-healing, Mind Blank protecting from True Seeing, Pazuzu x3, Sarrukhs, and the like. I think its silly to worry overly much about stuff that matters only at <17% of tables. I would certainly not call it crucial. In the same vein, I don't consider Pun Pun and his balance relative to every bit of homebrew I make, because in practice it's a non-issue.

That said, I can understand why it'd be a bigger point for you if you're in or run at one of those <17% strictly-by-RAW tables.
I wouldn't really define arcane thesis as TO, though going overboard with it might be. This isn't one of those strictly by RAW situations where the designers clearly didn't know what they were doing. It's one of those situations where they likely knew exactly what they were doing, but they didn't fully consider the implications. I probably wouldn't bring it to a table, partially because I'm not a fan of wizards who specialize in one thing, and where that thing is usually blasting, but it's worth considering.
Originally Posted by Vadskye
Why are you letting one poorly designed feat from a random splatbook affect how you judge perfectly reasonable metamagic?
"Can arcane thesis be made more powerful with this?" is a question I ask every time I see a +0 metamagic. I don't know why this one would be any different. If I'm going to judge something, I'm going to judge it on every level I'm capable of, because that's the best way to judge something. Are we really worse off for having considered the implications of this, combined with arcane thesis and maximize spell? I don't think we are, though the way the tread became all about the topic is a little odd.

Seriously, it's a thing, and it's a relevant thing. It's maybe not the most important thing, but it's always important to keep metamagic reduction in mind whenever you design metamagic. Whether you're putting together an incredibly powerful piece of metamagic whose sole balancing factor is that it has a high cost, or you're adding another feat to the list of reduction factors, these feats and abilities are things that should be considered. I don't know when that became such a controversial statement.

24. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

I apologize for my confusion regarding "Heighten Spell". I'm familiar with the pathfinder version (+0 adjustment, but treated as a spell 1 level higher), and didn't realize that the two were so different.
Regarding interaction between +0 adj. MM's and Arcane Thesis... I wouldn't allow my players to reduce any MM benefit to a negative value. But that's just me.
What if I made it a +1 adjustment, which is more than likely not worth the cost. Then AT brings it down to an appropriate level. By that logic, all MM must be balanced on the assumption that the caster will have AT, which implies a problem with the balance of AT itself, not with the metamagics in question.
Yes, I agree that careless DM's could allow problems for themselves if they allow someone to stack my +0 MM with AT for reduced spell levels, but it's still a highly specialized feat investment, into a category which (traditionally) is not the wizard's strong point. The possibility of exploiting such mechanics should have no bearing on a judgement of my feat itself.

I do, however, want to thank you for bringing this feat to my attention. I was unaware of its existence, and will use it on my next Aasimar Sorceror.

25. Re: Idea for a pair of Metamagics

Originally Posted by gr8artist
I apologize for my confusion regarding "Heighten Spell". I'm familiar with the pathfinder version (+0 adjustment, but treated as a spell 1 level higher), and didn't realize that the two were so different.
Regarding interaction between +0 adj. MM's and Arcane Thesis... I wouldn't allow my players to reduce any MM benefit to a negative value. But that's just me.
What if I made it a +1 adjustment, which is more than likely not worth the cost. Then AT brings it down to an appropriate level. By that logic, all MM must be balanced on the assumption that the caster will have AT, which implies a problem with the balance of AT itself, not with the metamagics in question.
Yes, I agree that careless DM's could allow problems for themselves if they allow someone to stack my +0 MM with AT for reduced spell levels, but it's still a highly specialized feat investment, into a category which (traditionally) is not the wizard's strong point. The possibility of exploiting such mechanics should have no bearing on a judgement of my feat itself.

I do, however, want to thank you for bringing this feat to my attention. I was unaware of its existence, and will use it on my next Aasimar Sorceror.
The feat probably is already balanced with the assumption that casters have access to AT. It's not like mailmen didn't have access to +0's before this came along. It's just that this makes arcane thesis a little more powerful. I dunno when that became, "This feat must be wiped off the face of the Earth for the power it brings," but that's not really what I was saying. The possibility of exploiting such mechanics should absolutely have bearing on a judgement of this feat, but that doesn't necessarily mean that the feat is bad. It just means that you hadn't considered all existing factors, and now you can make a better informed assessment of your feat with those factors in mind. That's always a good thing, by my way of thinking.

Edit: Also, here's a fancy guide that'll give you more knowledge about metamagic, as well as its reducers. Just for your general edification.

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