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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    I'm not sure if this should go here or in the Homebrew section. It's mostly a question about the mechanics of 5e for a Homebrew project. (tl;dr below)

    I want to start out by saying that I really like the magic system 5e has. Cantrips at will plus the ability to enhance certain spells by using higher level slots go a long way to improve on the old Vancian casting while keeping it feeling similar to the old games. The biggest problems I have is that there's too few spells that scale up.

    So I'm fixing it by coming up with a bunch of 1st level spells that all scale up. I want this to fit in with the existing system, but supplant the existing spells entirely (cantrips are staying, however). This means that most of the spells will be replicating the classics, like Fireball, Polymorph, Raise Dead, etc.

    Scaling down the higher level spells is simple most of the time by just reducing damage or effectiveness, but a Resurrection spell is hard to scale down without losing the actual effect of the spell. The solution I'm considering is that the spells would inflict levels of Exhaustion on the caster, the recipient, or both depending on the spell and the level of slot used.

    How does that sound to the group? Is it too harsh of a drawback?

    tl;dr - I'm making scalable low level versions of high level spells and considering using levels of Exhaustion to balance more powerful effects at low levels.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    For something like Resurrection I think you just need to look at the existing scaling of the different methods to get your scaling feature.

    For a first level spell it might be a bit much, but maybe you COULD drop the effect of resurrection and have it scale up to that.

    For example Level 1 is a form of Life Transference.

    When you cast this spell you touch a creature that has been dead for no more then 1 minute and return it to life. This does not clear any poisons or diseases (magical or non-magical) from the targets body. If a creature is brought back to life by this spell you immediately take damage equal to your maximum health, this damage can not be reduced in any way and you have disadvantage on death saving throws for the next minute

    With this you get a quick reaction pick up spell, but with a significant drawback of you now needing to make death saving throws. Not a big deal if someone is there to help you, but not going to be a very useful in combat ability. The one minute restriction makes it harder to pull off then Revivify, and the fact that it drops the caster to 0 HP makes it far riskier.

    I would have this scale at every other level.
    Now at 3rd level you have Revivify. No negative to the caster and a 10 minute window.

    Level 5 is raise dead. You get 10 days now.

    Level 7 is resurrection. Now you have up to a century.

    Level 9 is true resurrection. Now you have 200 years and don't need a body.

    They basically already had it written as a scalable spell, except they made them at different levels so that you had to learn new spells (and because component costs vary, but for Homebrew system you can write that into the scaling effect if you want)

    It is difficult to scale all the way down to level 1 though. Exhaustion might work as well, but unless you're going for multiple levels of exhaustion I don't think it's really enough if a drawback. Just getting disadvantage on ability checks isn't that bad.

    My goal was to simply prevent it from being used in combat without at least putting you in serious risk. Disadvantage in the death saves means you are less likely to stabilize yourself and need an ally to help you. As far as game balance goes the need of multiple actions to get someone back from dead in combat seems a little better then just disadvantage on checks that you probably aren't using a whole lot in combat (with exceptions of course).


    Another idea might be to increase it's casting time. Maybe give it a 1 or more minute casting time in addition to exhaustion? I personally feel that neither exhaustion nor my "it drops the caster" method really justify the power of first level resurrection, but it's some ideas to think about at least.


    The biggest problem with exhaustion is that one level is not very threatening but too many can quickly become crippling to the point your players are just going to camp until it's gone, making the cost nothing except when under a time constraint (which we much as people like to say you should always be under one it's just not possible to do constantly without feeling forced in my experience)
    My version has this same issue if course, because if you have the time getting dropped to 0 is no cost at all if there is a Cleric (or other healer) there to get you up from 0. Or if you just have a Paladin standing next to you with a good Aura that makes failing Death saving throws difficult.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Exhaustion's far too harsh.
    For starters, exhaustion only has 6 levels, and the 6th level is death. A long rest will only remove 1 level of exhaustion, so you're effectively limiting yourself to 1 spell per rest, on average. That's not good for an adventurer.
    Also, this system would effectively penalize spellcasting. Frankly, I just don't think that would be fun to play.

    If you're concerned about spells not upscaling well, then why not change how well they upscale? E.g. instead of Magic Missile dealing an extra 1d4 damage per level, have it deal an extra 2d4 per level. You still wouldn't get Resurrection effects until, well, Resurrection, but this should help the low-level spells stay competitive.

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    SolithKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp1050 View Post
    Exhaustion's far too harsh.
    For starters, exhaustion only has 6 levels, and the 6th level is death. A long rest will only remove 1 level of exhaustion, so you're effectively limiting yourself to 1 spell per rest, on average. That's not good for an adventurer.
    Also, this system would effectively penalize spellcasting. Frankly, I just don't think that would be fun to play.

    If you're concerned about spells not upscaling well, then why not change how well they upscale? E.g. instead of Magic Missile dealing an extra 1d4 damage per level, have it deal an extra 2d4 per level. You still wouldn't get Resurrection effects until, well, Resurrection, but this should help the low-level spells stay competitive.
    First, exhaustion is really not too harsh for extremely powerful (and situational) low level spells. I believe the OPs idea is to make ALL spells level 1 spells that scale up. You wouldn't learn a new spell for your shiny new level 9 spell, but when upcast to a month level spell Fireball becomes more akin to Meteor Swarm.

    So to make it work you need all spells to start at low levels (if I'm understanding OPs intentions)

    Back to the exhaustion, if it's only in spells that are already powerful and hard to scale back (anything that deals damage is easy to scale back) the. It's also likely a spell that isn't going to be used frequently. Which means any cost that can be recovered with relative ease is not much of a cost. Exhaustion only works as a cost when it's something you need to use frequently. Such as a Berserker Barbarian. That exhaustion when Frenzies Raging is costly because the player often WANTS to frenzy every rage. This would however quickly add up to dangerous levels you can't afford to deal with. If you only use it in combats where that extra attack is really going to be impactful then it's not a terrible cost as it's only one level, and it will be gone tomorrow.

    If it's something like Fireball giving exhaustion that you're likely to cast 2+ times a day it becomes painfully expensive to the point where you would see your players completely avoiding the spell. Something like resurrecting a party member or important NPC? I'd take 2 levels if exhaustion without a thought to do that with a level 1 slot if I didn't have the ability to do it otherwise. Hell I'd probably consider it even if it was 3 or more levels. You can recover exhaustion with nothing but time, if you have the time it stops being a cost at all.

    Now the exact same thing can be said about my idea to have it incapacitate the caster. However that at least has an opportunity cost in the action economy of the party. Having an ally at 1 hp and another at 0 making saves at disadvantage is a costly and dangerous situation to put yourself in, but could be worth fighting through to prevent it from being a dead party member you have no means to revive. But it also has only time as a cost to recover outside of combat. Making player death much less likely in your campaign. That could be good or bad.

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    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Let me ask a different question here. Itís not a matter of if you could or how you do it, but if you should.

    NPCs with level 1 spells are not that uncommon, even the smallest town is going to have a few of them (especially a cleric at a temple). Do you really want magic that can bring back the dead that commonplace? It seems like it might give your setting a somewhat laissez-faire attitude when it comes to death.

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    I think this could exacerbate an existing problem in terms of the different style of casters and martials.

    For all that casters and martials might have equal power over a day for some levels, casters get to scale up and down. They can use resources for tough fights and cantrip for the unimportant ones.

    More power at the cost of exhaustion will make this worse. Facing the big bad at the end of a dungeon? OK, drop meteor swarm, win the encounter by yourself (the encounter the party has been working up to for months), then sleep it off for a week? Does this sound like a fun way to manage the most dramatic and important encounters in a campaign?

    Balance isn't just about average power but making sure that the peak power accessible to a PC does not exceed that which makes an encounter less dramatic for other players or mean that their contributions are not nesescary. You cannot substitute being better in unimportant encounters for being critical in the most dramatic and crucial moments.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    RangerGuy

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    I haven't been able to get back to the Playground (for various reasons) in the past few days, so I'm going to try and address as much as I can. I appreciate the feedback thus far.

    Quote Originally Posted by Galithar View Post
    For something like Resurrection I think you just need to look at the existing scaling of the different methods to get your scaling feature.

    For a first level spell it might be a bit much, but maybe you COULD drop the effect of resurrection and have it scale up to that.

    For example Level 1 is a form of Life Transference.

    When you cast this spell you touch a creature that has been dead for no more then 1 minute and return it to life. This does not clear any poisons or diseases (magical or non-magical) from the targets body. If a creature is brought back to life by this spell you immediately take damage equal to your maximum health, this damage can not be reduced in any way and you have disadvantage on death saving throws for the next minute

    With this you get a quick reaction pick up spell, but with a significant drawback of you now needing to make death saving throws. Not a big deal if someone is there to help you, but not going to be a very useful in combat ability. The one minute restriction makes it harder to pull off then Revivify, and the fact that it drops the caster to 0 HP makes it far riskier.

    I would have this scale at every other level.
    Now at 3rd level you have Revivify. No negative to the caster and a 10 minute window.

    Level 5 is raise dead. You get 10 days now.

    Level 7 is resurrection. Now you have up to a century.

    Level 9 is true resurrection. Now you have 200 years and don't need a body.

    They basically already had it written as a scalable spell, except they made them at different levels so that you had to learn new spells (and because component costs vary, but for Homebrew system you can write that into the scaling effect if you want)

    It is difficult to scale all the way down to level 1 though. Exhaustion might work as well, but unless you're going for multiple levels of exhaustion I don't think it's really enough if a drawback. Just getting disadvantage on ability checks isn't that bad.

    My goal was to simply prevent it from being used in combat without at least putting you in serious risk. Disadvantage in the death saves means you are less likely to stabilize yourself and need an ally to help you. As far as game balance goes the need of multiple actions to get someone back from dead in combat seems a little better then just disadvantage on checks that you probably aren't using a whole lot in combat (with exceptions of course).

    Another idea might be to increase it's casting time. Maybe give it a 1 or more minute casting time in addition to exhaustion? I personally feel that neither exhaustion nor my "it drops the caster" method really justify the power of first level resurrection, but it's some ideas to think about at least.

    The biggest problem with exhaustion is that one level is not very threatening but too many can quickly become crippling to the point your players are just going to camp until it's gone, making the cost nothing except when under a time constraint (which we much as people like to say you should always be under one it's just not possible to do constantly without feeling forced in my experience)
    My version has this same issue if course, because if you have the time getting dropped to 0 is no cost at all if there is a Cleric (or other healer) there to get you up from 0. Or if you just have a Paladin standing next to you with a good Aura that makes failing Death saving throws difficult.
    I initially came up with the idea that the spells would scale into one another: Revivify -> Raise Dead -> Resurrection -> True Resurrection, for example. It became too wordy and clunky to figure out. I'm probably going to have a basic "length of death" timeline, and expand it a bit with each level, but exhaustion seemed to be (1) an easy, and honestly lazy, limitation to put on a spell to prevent it from being spammed; and (2) something that works for more than just a Resurrection spell. It's be kind of like a keyword in Magic: The Gathering. X spell is [Exhausting], be it Resurrection, Astral Travel, or whatever.

    I'm not applying it to all spell effects, or even most of them, but I'm thinking some would take a lot out of a caster (and sometimes the target). Resurrection is the keystone I have for this.

    At 1st level, my as-yet unnamed Resurrection spell would bring a target back to life after a short period of being dead and would grant both caster and recipient 4 or 5 levels of exhaustion, which would require it to be done somewhere safe and not on a short time scale because you'd need almost a week to recuperate. As it scales up, the exhaustion for both scales down, so eventually an experienced caster could raise the dead with ease, by using more magic and less of their own personal reserves so to speak.

    Quote Originally Posted by mjp1050 View Post
    Exhaustion's far too harsh.
    For starters, exhaustion only has 6 levels, and the 6th level is death. A long rest will only remove 1 level of exhaustion, so you're effectively limiting yourself to 1 spell per rest, on average. That's not good for an adventurer.
    Also, this system would effectively penalize spellcasting. Frankly, I just don't think that would be fun to play.

    If you're concerned about spells not upscaling well, then why not change how well they upscale? E.g. instead of Magic Missile dealing an extra 1d4 damage per level, have it deal an extra 2d4 per level. You still wouldn't get Resurrection effects until, well, Resurrection, but this should help the low-level spells stay competitive.
    I'm more concerned about certain spell effects not downscaling well. Magic Missile, Fireball, Cure Wounds, et al. can scale both ways just by adding numbers. But having a spell that brings someone from dead to mostly dead is going to be a bit disappointing.

    At it's base, the project I'm doing is making all the spells 1st level spells. I'm making them distinct to the official spells so they can coexist if someone wants them to, but ideally the idea is that (if I were to release these into the world outside my own game) they'd be used instead of the official spells. (That's it own different hurdle, but I've gotten different feedback on that.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Galithar View Post
    First, exhaustion is really not too harsh for extremely powerful (and situational) low level spells. I believe the OPs idea is to make ALL spells level 1 spells that scale up. You wouldn't learn a new spell for your shiny new level 9 spell, but when upcast to a month level spell Fireball becomes more akin to Meteor Swarm.

    So to make it work you need all spells to start at low levels (if I'm understanding OPs intentions)

    Back to the exhaustion, if it's only in spells that are already powerful and hard to scale back (anything that deals damage is easy to scale back) the. It's also likely a spell that isn't going to be used frequently. Which means any cost that can be recovered with relative ease is not much of a cost. Exhaustion only works as a cost when it's something you need to use frequently. Such as a Berserker Barbarian. That exhaustion when Frenzies Raging is costly because the player often WANTS to frenzy every rage. This would however quickly add up to dangerous levels you can't afford to deal with. If you only use it in combats where that extra attack is really going to be impactful then it's not a terrible cost as it's only one level, and it will be gone tomorrow.

    If it's something like Fireball giving exhaustion that you're likely to cast 2+ times a day it becomes painfully expensive to the point where you would see your players completely avoiding the spell. Something like resurrecting a party member or important NPC? I'd take 2 levels if exhaustion without a thought to do that with a level 1 slot if I didn't have the ability to do it otherwise. Hell I'd probably consider it even if it was 3 or more levels. You can recover exhaustion with nothing but time, if you have the time it stops being a cost at all.

    Now the exact same thing can be said about my idea to have it incapacitate the caster. However that at least has an opportunity cost in the action economy of the party. Having an ally at 1 hp and another at 0 making saves at disadvantage is a costly and dangerous situation to put yourself in, but could be worth fighting through to prevent it from being a dead party member you have no means to revive. But it also has only time as a cost to recover outside of combat. Making player death much less likely in your campaign. That could be good or bad.
    I think the risk/reward cost of this (Resurrection specifically) is fair. Campaigns either allow for lots of time or don't, so it does become a sort of situational value. It's nothing if the characters spend months in downtime, but huge if they have to get something done tomorrow. I think keeping the material components relatively expensive could help with that. I don't necessarily want to overload it with limitations, but I also want to avoid it being spammed.

    Quote Originally Posted by nickl_2000 View Post
    Let me ask a different question here. Itís not a matter of if you could or how you do it, but if you should.

    NPCs with level 1 spells are not that uncommon, even the smallest town is going to have a few of them (especially a cleric at a temple). Do you really want magic that can bring back the dead that commonplace? It seems like it might give your setting a somewhat laissez-faire attitude when it comes to death.
    I know it's become standard for most games, but I don't necessarily think of class levels as very common, in general. Player characters are supposed to be special. Of course, the game itself seems to be of two minds when it comes to this, but I tend to keep them rare. It is something I'll make note of for DM's to consider if I share the spells somewhere.

    Also, for the "cleric at a temple" example, even then a cleric of any level would likely have a whole lot of their own stuff going on that would make it more difficult for any character to convince them to put themselves on the line like that.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    I think this could exacerbate an existing problem in terms of the different style of casters and martials.

    For all that casters and martials might have equal power over a day for some levels, casters get to scale up and down. They can use resources for tough fights and cantrip for the unimportant ones.

    More power at the cost of exhaustion will make this worse. Facing the big bad at the end of a dungeon? OK, drop meteor swarm, win the encounter by yourself (the encounter the party has been working up to for months), then sleep it off for a week? Does this sound like a fun way to manage the most dramatic and important encounters in a campaign?

    Balance isn't just about average power but making sure that the peak power accessible to a PC does not exceed that which makes an encounter less dramatic for other players or mean that their contributions are not nesescary. You cannot substitute being better in unimportant encounters for being critical in the most dramatic and crucial moments.
    It wouldn't be expanding things that way though. Sure, a 1st level Cleric being able to bring someone back is a huge jump, but I'm (hopefully) working enough dramatic requirements into it to make it an interesting thing all its own. For damaging spells, I'm mostly sticking with the custom spell guidelines in the DMG, which won't overshadow something like a regular Meteor Swarm. (That example could be anti-climactic in any game.)

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    Planetar

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    I like the idea very much and I've experimented with very similar ideas. Generally speaking, I think it was a huge failure by WotC not to properly work out a functioning upcasting system; Upcasting is actually a huge part of the magic system, that is never used (outside very few, specific spells) but available to every spellcaster.

    I even considered having many spells working by upcasting cantrips. The lore always says that cantrips are the first magic spells any young magic adept learns, so why not making them the basis for spells by expending spell slots? For example Spare the Dying would have the effect of Gentle Repose with a 1st-level spell-slot, Revivify with a 3rd-level spell-slot, Raise Dead @ 5, Resurrection @ 7, and True Resurrection with a 9th-level spell-slot.

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    Ettin in the Playground
     
    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    It's important to note that a spell shouldn't be able to deal more damage than any character would have at the lowest level that spell can be cast.

    That's not a hard-set rule, that's just good game design. You should be able to react to problems, or otherwise you're just playing Rock-Paper-Scissors. The best games allow room for players to feel their mistakes and fix them, and they can't do that when they can die in one hit.

    For reference, a Wizard will have about 7 HP at level 1, and gain about 4.5 HP per level. So the maximum damage of any source a level 1 player should have to deal with should deal no more than that amount.

    This unfortunately means that a level 1 spell shouldn't ever deal more than 7 average damage (roughly a 2d6).
    Or that a level 2 spell shouldn't deal more than 16 damage (3d10).

    Of course, there are spells that break these rules (*cough* FIREBALL), but that's more indicative of a bad spell (in game design, not in use) than it is of a goal you should aim for. You should be making the game better, not repeating the same mistakes in an attempt to add content.

    If you must make a spell more powerful by adding exhaustion, but doing so would push past the killing threshhold that'd be normally acceptable for that casting level, make the spell effect more targets or add some sort of utility.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2020-02-27 at 07:17 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOLE View Post
    MOG, design a darn RPG system. Seriously, the amount of ideas Iíve gleaned from your posts has been valuable. Youíre a gem of the community here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post

    5th Edition Homebrewery

    Prestige Options, changing primary attributes to open a world of new multiclassing.
    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
    Fate Sorcery, lucky winner of the 5e D&D Subclass Contest VII!

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    When creating something new, if you feel the need to punish a PC for using it (i.e. give a penalty of some kind - exhaustion, loss of hit points, long term disadvantage to something, etc.) then why have it in the first place? It only adds frustration and won't get used anyway.
    Last edited by Pex; 2020-02-27 at 07:24 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    When creating something new, if you feel the need to punish a PC for using it (i.e. give a penalty of some kind - exhaustion, loss of hit points, long term disadvantage to something, etc.) then why have it in the first place? It only adds frustration and won't get used anyway.
    Barbarian Rage gets used, despite removing your ability to cast or concentrate on spells.
    Reckless Attack is also often used, despite the risk to your health.
    People often wear Heavy Armor without the necessary strength, because losing the speed can be worth it.

    There are plenty of examples of people ignoring costs for a good benefit. What the OP is suggesting isn't a forced cost, but an added investment to something you'd already have. Nobody loses anything.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOLE View Post
    MOG, design a darn RPG system. Seriously, the amount of ideas Iíve gleaned from your posts has been valuable. Youíre a gem of the community here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post

    5th Edition Homebrewery

    Prestige Options, changing primary attributes to open a world of new multiclassing.
    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
    Fate Sorcery, lucky winner of the 5e D&D Subclass Contest VII!

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    Barbarian Rage gets used, despite removing your ability to cast or concentrate on spells.
    Reckless Attack is also often used, despite the risk to your health.
    People often wear Heavy Armor without the necessary strength, because losing the speed can be worth it.

    There are plenty of examples of people ignoring costs for a good benefit. What the OP is suggesting isn't a forced cost, but an added investment to something you'd already have. Nobody loses anything.
    Those aren't punishing the character for using it, except maybe the heavy armor without the strength. They aren't worse off than they were. For a published example of someone being punished for doing what they are supposed to be doing see Berserker Barbarian. Being published doesn't make it a good idea.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

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    BlueKnightGuy

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    Those aren't punishing the character for using it, except maybe the heavy armor without the strength. They aren't worse off than they were. For a published example of someone being punished for doing what they are supposed to be doing see Berserker Barbarian. Being published doesn't make it a good idea.
    Reckless Attack causes all incoming attacks to have Advantage until your next turn.

    Rage prevents you from casting spells, which has gotten in the way of many Barbarian/Warlock hybrids. That may not be applicable to you, but that doesn't mean it isn't ever applicable.

    Additionally, Berserker Barbarian doesn't state that you have to Frenzy. It adds it as an optional cost when you Rage. You can still Rage normally. The reason Berserker is bad isn't because of Frenzy. It's because you have to choose between Frenzy and a different subclass feature. If something worthwhile was added to the Berserker (say, regenerating 1/2 of your Barbarian level in HP each turn while Raging), then it wouldn't be a bad choice.

    But instead, we have to choose between Exhausting ourselves for 1 attack each turn by spending a BA, or getting additional Radiant damage per turn at no additional cost.
    Last edited by Man_Over_Game; 2020-02-28 at 02:28 PM.
    Quote Originally Posted by KOLE View Post
    MOG, design a darn RPG system. Seriously, the amount of ideas Iíve gleaned from your posts has been valuable. Youíre a gem of the community here.
    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post

    5th Edition Homebrewery

    Prestige Options, changing primary attributes to open a world of new multiclassing.
    Adrenaline Surge, fitting Short Rests into combat to fix bosses/Short Rest Classes.
    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
    Fate Sorcery, lucky winner of the 5e D&D Subclass Contest VII!

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    I'm not thrilled with Reckless Attack granting Advantage to all enemies either. If the Advantage was only for the target of your attack(s) that would be fair. The point stands. Players should not be punished for having their character do what they're supposed to be doing. Just because it's an official rule in something doesn't make it ok to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by OgresAreCute View Post
    "Welcome to Dungeons and Dragons fifth edition, where the DCs are made up and the rules don't matter."

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    I'm not thrilled with Reckless Attack granting Advantage to all enemies either. If the Advantage was only for the target of your attack(s) that would be fair. The point stands. Players should not be punished for having their character do what they're supposed to be doing. Just because it's an official rule in something doesn't make it ok to me.
    I'm having difficulties understanding how it's a punishment, exactly. To me, it's no different than spending your Attack Action to use a Healer's Kit, spending a Spell Slot for Shield, spending movement to stand up from Prone.

    To me, it's just another resource to spend for a benefit that I considered valuable at the time of spending it.

    I might cast Fireball without knowing the target is immune to Fire, and so lost about 30% of my contribution to the fight just from a bad guess as a level 5 Wizard. But, to me, that might be more of a penalty than Disadvantage to Ability Checks for the day, or enemies having a higher chance to hit me while I already block 50% of their damage.
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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    I'm looking at doing the same basic thing with the spell system. Right now I'm leaning toward Galithar's solution because it's the easiest to implement and retain game balance. But I'm not looking at replacing the magic system, I'm supplementing, so that gives me some leeway.

    Other ways I've looked at include giving spells a DC. So if the caster wants to cast a higher level effect the DC goes up and the caster is at risk of spell failure that can include wild-magic effects (including exhaustion). This skill-based approach doesn't really mesh well with D&D though.

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Man_Over_Game View Post
    I'm having difficulties understanding how it's a punishment, exactly. To me, it's no different than spending your Attack Action to use a Healer's Kit, spending a Spell Slot for Shield, spending movement to stand up from Prone.

    To me, it's just another resource to spend for a benefit that I considered valuable at the time of spending it.

    I might cast Fireball without knowing the target is immune to Fire, and so lost about 30% of my contribution to the fight just from a bad guess as a level 5 Wizard. But, to me, that might be more of a penalty than Disadvantage to Ability Checks for the day, or enemies having a higher chance to hit me while I already block 50% of their damage.
    It's a punishment when you are worse off with a lasting effect than if you hadn't done the Thing at all. The proposed house rule it to impose exhaustion, which is disadvantage on all skill checks until you long rest, for the audacity of one action of doing something nifty. It gets worse if you do the nifty thing again. If you need to punish someone for doing something nifty then don't have the nifty thing at all. It's passive aggressive.
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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    It's a punishment when you are worse off with a lasting effect than if you hadn't done the Thing at all. The proposed house rule it to impose exhaustion, which is disadvantage on all skill checks until you long rest, for the audacity of one action of doing something nifty. It gets worse if you do the nifty thing again. If you need to punish someone for doing something nifty then don't have the nifty thing at all. It's passive aggressive.
    So what's the difference between a punishment and a cost? Aside from the use of one word over another speaks to some kind of fear of persecution.

    These are optional to cast - you are not forced to do it, just to pay the cost if you do. It isn't like it is the only thing you can do either. You are not "supposed" to do it (indeed asking supposed by whom) but you are supposed to be able to make the choice. Sometimes it will be worth it and sometimes not.

    Doing something that on aggregate is worthwhile, that you otherwise wouldn't be able to do is still a positive not a punishment.

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Exactly. Besides, there are other rpg systems with such mechanics where you suffer from lasting effects, e.g. there's a magic system where spells require Mana being used in one of three ways: "Channeling" mana for lasting spells, which means your mana is unavailable at the moment but is available again once you drop the spell; "Depleting" mana for instantaneous spells, which means your mana regenerates only later ("short rest"); and "Burning" mana for powerful spells, which requires profound regeneration ("long rest") and gives you certain penalties until restored.

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    So what's the difference between a punishment and a cost? Aside from the use of one word over another speaks to some kind of fear of persecution.

    These are optional to cast - you are not forced to do it, just to pay the cost if you do. It isn't like it is the only thing you can do either. You are not "supposed" to do it (indeed asking supposed by whom) but you are supposed to be able to make the choice. Sometimes it will be worth it and sometimes not.

    Doing something that on aggregate is worthwhile, that you otherwise wouldn't be able to do is still a positive not a punishment.
    A cost is spending a resource. A punishment is suffering a penalty.
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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    A cost is spending a resource. A punishment is suffering a penalty.
    So is the evoker ability to take damage to boost a spell a cost or a punishment? It harms you, but then are HP not just another resource? Or the aforementioned frenzy barbarian - are unused exhaustion levels not just another resource?

    I think punishment is an inappropriate word as it is a word used for when you have done something wrong rather than simply paying the cost for using your class features.

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    So is the evoker ability to take damage to boost a spell a cost or a punishment? It harms you, but then are HP not just another resource? Or the aforementioned frenzy barbarian - are unused exhaustion levels not just another resource?

    I think punishment is an inappropriate word as it is a word used for when you have done something wrong rather than simply paying the cost for using your class features.
    The first time using it the evoker spends a cost - the one time free use. The second and more times it's a penalty - the hit point damage. Yes, I do think evokers are screwed compared to what other wizards get for the level. I was ok with it when it appeared Cantrips could always be maxed and thought it a nifty cool thing compared to what other wizards get until they ruined it with errata/reprint. I don't care if an ability is officially published or not. In my opinion it is bad game design to punish a player for using it. It's better not to create that ability at all and provide for something else you're more comfortable allowing a player to do without fear of Winning The Game you felt the need to punish for the audacity of using it. For evokers, perhaps instead of maxing damage allow the spellcaster to change the energy type of a spell to get around resistance/immunity would work. Or maybe something else. Whatever, just don't punish the player for using it.
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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    The first time using it the evoker spends a cost - the one time free use. The second and more times it's a penalty - the hit point damage. Yes, I do think evokers are screwed compared to what other wizards get for the level. I was ok with it when it appeared Cantrips could always be maxed and thought it a nifty cool thing compared to what other wizards get until they ruined it with errata/reprint. I don't care if an ability is officially published or not. In my opinion it is bad game design to punish a player for using it. It's better not to create that ability at all and provide for something else you're more comfortable allowing a player to do without fear of Winning The Game you felt the need to punish for the audacity of using it. For evokers, perhaps instead of maxing damage allow the spellcaster to change the energy type of a spell to get around resistance/immunity would work. Or maybe something else. Whatever, just don't punish the player for using it.
    Again you keep using this word "punish". A bizarre choice? Who is punishing whom for what? It is simply a cost being paid. Now you might think a particular cost is too high, which is perfectly reasonable but calling it a punishment isn't.

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    I'm intending it as a cost, not a punishment. It's meant to enhance storytelling and give magic more weight. The example I gave was Resurrection because (1) it's a BIG magical effect that's outside the normal toolbox of low level characters, and (2) it's a BIG magical effect that doesn't have as much of a cost as (I feel) it should. Exhaustion is a good tool for this, in my opinion.

    A character risking their safety to bring an important NPC back to life is a better story than a character paying for an expensive gem to cast the spell.

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    Again you keep using this word "punish". A bizarre choice? Who is punishing whom for what? It is simply a cost being paid. Now you might think a particular cost is too high, which is perfectly reasonable but calling it a punishment isn't.
    I call it as I see it.

    Quote Originally Posted by SuperFerret View Post
    I'm intending it as a cost, not a punishment. It's meant to enhance storytelling and give magic more weight. The example I gave was Resurrection because (1) it's a BIG magical effect that's outside the normal toolbox of low level characters, and (2) it's a BIG magical effect that doesn't have as much of a cost as (I feel) it should. Exhaustion is a good tool for this, in my opinion.

    A character risking their safety to bring an important NPC back to life is a better story than a character paying for an expensive gem to cast the spell.
    You don't need my permission, but I maintain for anyone if you feel the need to apply penalties when creating an ability to rethink the ability you're giving and do something else.
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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    It's a punishment when you are worse off with a lasting effect than if you hadn't done the Thing at all. The proposed house rule it to impose exhaustion, which is disadvantage on all skill checks until you long rest, for the audacity of one action of doing something nifty. It gets worse if you do the nifty thing again. If you need to punish someone for doing something nifty then don't have the nifty thing at all. It's passive aggressive.
    So, would, say spending HD for an effect would be more acceptable than exhaustion, because exhaustion is an ongoing condition that impairs the ongoing functionality of the character while HD are a resource that the expending will not weaken the character rather than running out of them?


    On the main topic, I would caution some spell effects being moved to low level in games that use multiclassing; a druid 3/ cleric 3/ wizard 3 being able to cast the same raise dead as a 9th level cleric. Currently, spells of higher level somewhat outperform up cast spells which creates a cost to multi-classing, as you have spell slots but not higher level spells. Also, some effects are part of class identity so it can cause some loss of cohesion on what classes are considered capable of. I you don't intend to use multiclassing or think that class features provide enough of a difference(I don't personally) then you probably don't need to worry about it but otherwise keep it in mind.

    I wouldn't mind exhaustion being used as a drawback mechanic inherently, but I feel like the spell would need to be worth the exhaustion and more than 1 level of exhaustion will probably hurt enough that the spell is nearly unusable.

    As a DM, I may give raise dead at 1st level for 6 levels of exhaustion just to see if anyone would actually use it.
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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Witty Username View Post
    So, would, say spending HD for an effect would be more acceptable than exhaustion, because exhaustion is an ongoing condition that impairs the ongoing functionality of the character while HD are a resource that the expending will not weaken the character rather than running out of them?
    Yes. That's spending a cost. It's resource management. It's a significant cost such that you wouldn't just do it as a matter of course, but you don't suffer penalties for it so if you do it you aren't worse off.
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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by Pex View Post
    The first time using it the evoker spends a cost - the one time free use. The second and more times it's a penalty - the hit point damage. Yes, I do think evokers are screwed compared to what other wizards get for the level. I was ok with it when it appeared Cantrips could always be maxed and thought it a nifty cool thing compared to what other wizards get until they ruined it with errata/reprint. I don't care if an ability is officially published or not. In my opinion it is bad game design to punish a player for using it. It's better not to create that ability at all and provide for something else you're more comfortable allowing a player to do without fear of Winning The Game you felt the need to punish for the audacity of using it. For evokers, perhaps instead of maxing damage allow the spellcaster to change the energy type of a spell to get around resistance/immunity would work. Or maybe something else. Whatever, just don't punish the player for using it.
    Would it have been more acceptable to have that Evoker feature to only be used once per day, similar to the Warlock capstone?

    I guess the summary on both sides is this:

    Is it better, or worse, to be allowed to make a bad choice?
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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    I dont think it's a necessarily a bad choice, just a situational choice. A tough choice. To use it or to leave it unused is a meaningful choice with potentially hazardous implications.

    The "bad" choices we let people make are playing with witch bolt or mordenkeinen's sword rather than make sacrifices to achieve an effect.

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    Default Re: Exhaustion as a Balancing Factor in Powerful Low-level Spells

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    I dont think it's a necessarily a bad choice, just a situational choice. A tough choice. To use it or to leave it unused is a meaningful choice with potentially hazardous implications.

    The "bad" choices we let people make are playing with witch bolt or mordenkeinen's sword rather than make sacrifices to achieve an effect.
    By "Bad Choice", I mean a mistake. The concept of paying for a cost that you think is worthwhile, then later finding out that you made the wrong choice.

    Exhaustion can play into that, considering most players might not put much stock into Disadvantage on Ability Checks. Similarly, Reckless Attack might get you killed if your enemy has a -5/+10 style of attack. Haste can stun an important ally if used recklessly.

    Most effects in the game have a straightforward cost, such as spell slots, Actions, or Movement, who's cost is known as soon as they're spent, but other effects can leave the player more hurt than they intended.

    That's the question. Should players be allowed to lose more than they intended?

    Some, like Pex, might see it as "lying" to the player through a mechanic, by afflicting them with more than they anticipated.

    Personally, though, I think that choice is a major factor. The reason players don't make those bad decisions poorly is because they're capable of considering the pros and cons on their own. Taking away that choice, to prevent their own mistakes, is a form of distrust. We gotta let our kids cross the street on their own, eventually.
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    Pain, using Exhaustion to make tactical martial combatants.
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