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- Join Date
- Jun 2009
Sorcery: Alternate Innate Magic (Need Help With Revisions)
So I've posted the classes in here previously, and I'll put the links back up again now, but right now I'm primarily interested in trying to revise the underlying system that the classes are built on so that I can make some additional classes using the system. I am hoping to get some feedback on one or more ideas which I have had.
What is the Sorcery Magic System?
Sorcery is intended to be a supplementary magic system with a high availability of at-will abilities, and a low availability of long-rest abilities, all collected into groupings based on theme (such as Space, or Healing). My intention was that it would mesh well mechanically with the theme of magic users whose power is innate. I feel like thematically it was good, but there are a number of clunky functions of the overall system and I think I overcompensated the power of their at-wills. Some of the concepts are described here.
- Sorceries: A sorcery is the equivalent of a spell for spellcasters. Characters can learn a finite number of them, they have distinct functions, and they are the primary feature of the sorcerous classes. Each sorcery comes with at least one ongoing or passive benefit, at least one active at-will function, and at least one surge.
- Surge: Each sorcery has at least one surge. Surges are the limited resource of sorcerous classes, recovered on a short rest. Surges scale in power with levels in a sorcerous class, ranging from 2d8 at level 1 to 10d8 at level 20; the result can determine a number of things, usually damage, but also range and duration or other unique usages.
- Channeling: In order to use a sorcery, it must be channeled. The only cost associated with changing out sorceries is action cost, but the number that can be channeled at any one time is fairly restrictive.
What are the Problems?
- Scaling Mechanic: Scaling on sorceries, especially for at-will abilities, is rather clunky. The current method I implemented to prevent multiclassing abuse was to have at-wills key to the number of surge dice the user possesses, which works but looks unattractive in sorcery descriptions.
- At-Will Power: Most of the class operates off of at-wills (full sorcerous classes max out at 5 surges per long rest). To compensate the power of at-wills, especially damaging at-wills, is too high. I have plans for correcting this with specific drawbacks or benefits rather than overscaling.
- No Gating: All sorceries can be learned right away at level 1. This was originally a design choice but with the exception of individual sorcery effects that unlock at higher levels (or, rather as mentioned in problem one above, number of surge dice), there aren't really any attractive unique benefits that sorcerers get at later levels, especially compared to spellcasting.
- Effect Frequency: Some effects that magic users are expected to be able to handle (for example, healing) should be available more often than sorcerous surges, but less often than at-will. Sorcerous classes don't really have a built-in way to handle these effects.
- Changing Sorceries: I want there to be a cost to changing out sorceries, otherwise channel limits have little meaning, but a full action is too steep when going from "exploration sorceries" to "combat sorceries". A bonus action seems too steep.
What are the Solutions?
I have been toying with a number of possible solutions. However, I'd also be interested in hearing about other solutions if anyone has any.
Spoiler: Power Overhaul
I am in the process of going over the different sorceries and fixing the power of at-will. These are my guidelines:
- Damage should scale similarly to cantrips, but should have certain perks that make it better (such as better damage type, die size increased by 1, or riders being more unique/severe). Some effects which are normally 1st level riders might have a limited chance of trigger (such as Guiding Bolt's Advantage being a perk of getting a crit with Lux's Ray of Radiance).
- At-will combat buffs separated into two general axes: Defensive (Bonus Action) vs. Offensive (Action) and Short Term (Lasts until start of next turn) vs. Long Term (Concentration).
- At-will exploration/social functions which replicate ritual spells should be equal to or better than that spell in convenience. At-will exploration/social functions which replicate non-ritual spell should have drawbacks of some type (such as longer activation time, shorter duration/range, or unique drawbacks like sorcerous scrying and communication effects being visible to others).
- Special move speeds locked before 5th level. Fly speed locked before 11th level.
Spoiler: Half Surge Dice
At-will effects currently have hard breakpoints at 4, 7, and 9 surge dice (corresponding to levels 5, 11, and 17 respectively). Changing at-will damage to be based on "half surge dice" would give a smoother progression while still being roughly in line with cantrip power (sorcerous classes would upgrade their at-will damage a level or two earlier than cantrips).
Pros: Cleaner, still prevents multiclassing abuse while allowing sorcerers to have stronger at-wills than spellcasters that aren't warlocks.
Cons: Does not change the gating for non-damage effects, which would still need to be based on surge dice breakpoints or character level. Also doesn't allow for different die sizes (solvable by combining with Surge Power, below).
Spoiler: Surge Power
Change the "surge dice" column from being a set of dice to a power level. All sorcerous effects would have a sorcerous power related scaling.
Pros: Looks nicer than the current function. Allows surges to have static effects when it would be more appropriate. Allows different dice to be used for different effects. Some effects
Cons: Technically not significantly different than the current function.
Spoiler: The Multichannel Mechanic
With this solution, I would add the potential to channel a single sorcery multiple times once the character gains the ability to channel multiple sorceries. In exchange for using up more of your channeling slots on the same sorcery, that sorcery's effects would get stronger and new effects would become available. As a compensation, the number of channeling "slots" would probably have to increase. It could also be adapted as a form of gating, by putting minimum "multichannel costs" onto certain sorceries.
Pros: It allows scaling to continue to be multi-class proof. Also helps with the changing sorceries problem by expanding the channel limit, allowing single-channel utilities to be less punishing.
Cons: Not actually any less clunky than the "sorcery dice" scaling function. Non-combat scaling does not suffer from loss of versatility, which should be the main drawback of multichanneling.
Spoiler: Sorcery Levels
Introduce a level system for sorceries, similar to what spells have. Then, simply move powerful effects to higher sorcery levels. For example, Ignis Minor might be a first level sorcery available to low level characters, but it would have different benefits than Ignis Major, a 5th level sorcery. Surges would continue to scale based on surge dice, allowing them to be relevant at all levels.
Pros: Magic levels are familiar to players. Solves gating, scaling, and at-will power in one big swoop.
Cons: Loses one of the major draws of the system, namely allowing multiple related scaling effects to be learned as a single unit.
Spoiler: Scale By Level
Instead of using surge dice as the scaling threshold, use character level. So effects which require 4 surge dice simply require level 5.
Pros: Simplest solution. Already in use for cantrips.
Cons: Multiclassing abuse, does not allow for planned partial sorcerous classes to have decreased rate of scaling.
Currently operating the 5e Subclass Contest and the 5e Base Class Contest. Check them out if even just to vote or give feedback, we love that in there.
- Join Date
- Jun 2009
Re: Sorcery: Alternate Innate Magic (Need Help With Revisions)
I'm in the process of building some of the sorceries using the Sorcerous Power method described above. Which of the following wordings works the best?
A: "This effect deals 1dX damage per two sorcerous power you possess (rounded up)."
B: "This effect deals 1dX damage, plus 1dX damage for every two sorcerous power you possess above than 1."
C: "This effect deals a number of dXs equal to half your sorcerous power (rounded up)."Currently operating the 5e Subclass Contest and the 5e Base Class Contest. Check them out if even just to vote or give feedback, we love that in there.