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Skill based spellcasting

 
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Kirin_Corrigan
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:05 pm    Post subject: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Murtak's spell system variant reminded me of a system I was tinkering with some time ago, so I went and dug it back.

It's still a rough draft, but it sould be enough to understand what I'm striving at; so here it is for anyone to dissect:

  • spellcasting is spontaneous for all classes, but you have no limits on the number of spells you may know or on the number of spells you may cast in a day
  • the wizard and sorcerer classes become the same, mechanically equivalent, arcane spellcasting class (with wizard progression and bonus feats)
  • divine casters don't have access to all the spells on their spell list, they have to learn them like arcane casters do
  • the 1st level of a spellcasting class (not PrC) grants you knowledge of all its level 0 spells and of a number of 1st level spells equal to 4 plus the relevant spellcasting stat bonus
  • the 1st level of a spellcasting class (not PrC) also grants you a set of "basic" metamagic feats known (as described in the next post)
  • each level past the first in a spellcasting class nets you two free spells known of a level not higher than your Caster Level / 2, rounded up
  • you can research spells of any given level, provided you have enough time and resources
  • spellbooks are used exclusively to research and learn spells, while scrolls can't be used to learn spells at all
  • to successfully cast a spell you must beat a Spellcraft DC of at least 12 + Spell Level * 2.5 (though ad hoc DCs may be worked out for some spells);
  • taking 10 to cast a spell is allowed (but the usual limitations apply)
  • to learn a researched spell you must succeed in a Spellcraft check, the DC is the same as that needed to cast the spell
  • spells don't scale with level or skill, they are improved via feats
  • applying metamagic feats to a spell generally doesn't increase the casting time (unless the feat states otherwise)
  • applying metamagic feats to a spell raises the Spellcraft DC by twice the spell slot adjustment
  • the amount by which you fail (or make) your "Spellcraft Check" (SC) triggers a different status:
    SC <= (DC -10) : you become exhausted
    (DC -10) < SC < (DC +10) : you become fatigued
    SC >= (DC +10) : your current status doesn't change
  • some feats lower the DC of the spell being cast, increasing the casting time
  • while exhausted you can't cast spells; 1 round after your last casting you become fatigued
  • while fatigued you can cast spells; 1 round after your last casting you fully recover
  • if you're fatigued, something that would make you fatigued makes you exhausted
  • if you become exhausted twice in a 10-round span, it will take you 10 rounds to become fatigued and then another 10 rounds to fully recover; a restoration spell drops the recovery time back to normal
  • SR is completely out of the equation; in its place you get invulnerability to all spells of a given level and lower ( la 3e Rakshasa) and/or invulnerability to spells with a specific descriptor
  • some monsters may list a few spells that bypass their invulnerability
  • some feats raise the actual level of the spell they're applied to
  • Last, but not least, Spellcraft will be a Class Skill only for primary spellcasters
    [/list]
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Kirin_Corrigan
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:06 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The basic metamagic feats

The first level you gain in a spellcasting class (but not a in PrC that grants spellcasting abilities) nets you the knowledge of the following "basic" metamagic feats:

  • Cooperative Spellcasting
  • Empower Spell
  • Enlarge Spell
  • Extend Spell
  • Heighten Spell
  • Maximize Spell
  • Quicken Spell
  • Silent Spell
  • Still Spell
  • Widen Spell[/list]

    Interaction changes:

    • By default, a metamagic feat can be applied only once to a spell. If a character takes the same metamagic feat more than once, he can apply it to a spell as many times as he took that feat. For example, if a character takes the Extend Spell feat during his career, he could extend a spell's duration twice: once for the feat selected, and once for the feat known by default.
    • An empowered and maximized spell gains both the effects of the feats: the result is one time and a half the maximum value. For example an empowered and maximized Fireball deals 90 points of damage.
    • A direct attack spell cast in cooperation with other spellcasters deals a total damage equal to the sum of the damage of each spell. If a 9th level Cleric casts Flame Strike in cooperation with an 13th level Druid, the total damage dealt is 9d6+13d6. Any feat altering one of the two "base" spells does not alter the other: if the Druid's Flame Strike is maximized, the cooperatively cast spell would deal 9d6+78 points of damage.
    • Upon activating a Wand, a caster may apply his metamagic feats to the spell by spending one additional charge for every slot level adjustment due to the feats applied. If a character desires to enlarge the Ice Storm activated from a wand, he could do so by expending one extra charge upon activating the item. The maximum number of charges that can be spent at once this way is equal to one third of the character's spellcasting level (rounded down).
    • All of the metamagic feats that require one or more generic metamagic feats as prerequisites (like Energy Substitution) have that prereq met by default by the basic free metamagic feats.[/list]
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Kirin_Corrigan
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Other ideas, not fully developed yet, are:

  • specializing in a school grants you a +4 competence bonus on the spellcraft check to cast spells from that school, at the cost of a -12 to cast spells from your "prohibited" schools (though you can still learn and cast spells from your prohibited schools)
  • Spell Mastery can be taken by any spellcasting class and grants a +4 bonus to a number of spells equal to your spellcasting stat bonus
  • Skill Focus: Spellcraft gives the normal +3 bonus (basically all three of them will make sure you'll never ever become fatigued while attempting to cast a spell you mastered from your chosen school)
  • there'll be no skill enhancing items for spellcraft at all until epic levels
    [/list]

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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 9:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Where did you get the numbers from?

Things which are immediately obvious:

  • If you aren't a Wizard, you can suck it. The DC to cast spells is Int based regardless of what modifier your spells are supposedly based on. So a Cleric who wants to cast buffs and heals is actually an Int-caster, not a Wisdom caster.

  • On that note, Skill bonuses aren't the same thing as Level bonuses. In fact, under your system there doesn't seem to be any incentive at all to continue taking Wizard levels over say Ranger levels once you have one Wizard level under your belt. Taking additional levels of Ranger will scale your Spellcraft, and thus your spells, and give you anything at all, as opposed to taking more levels of Wizard, that don't do a god damned thing.

  • Skill bonuses are really easy to get. Just the fact that a Feat can get you +3 to one skill or +2 to two skills means that a lot of people will be able to roll all over these things. A stat bonus is in some ways as good as a BAB, but it's in all ways as good as a skill rank past 2nd level. That 3rd level Grey Elf with SF: Spellcraft from a Courteous Magocracy is a better spellcaster than some jive fool 8th level Wizard.

    D20 skills don't work well if they make a big difference in the power of a character. I'm not sure where you are trying to go with this, but I don't have high hopes for your eventual success.

    -Frank
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    Murtak
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    PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:14 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List


    Maybe I missed something ... does anything prevent you from researching, say, teleport as a 3rd level wizard, spell mastering it and always making the DC 25 check?

    For that matter, even if you keep to the spells of your level, a level one spell has a DC of 15. Taking 10, 4 ranks, a +4 int bonus, skill focus and spell mastery will let a human wizard cast all of his spells at will, without fatigue. Even without spell mastery a sun elf wizard has to merely wait until level 3 to cast any level 1 spell freely. At level 10, taking 10, with 13 ranks, a +8 int bonus and skill focus he can always get to 34, letting him cast level 5 spells without fatigue (or 4, if you round DCs up).

    I doubt this is intended. At the very least your numbers are off. Even if you manage to make these work, and even if you fix the non-int-casters you still have to deal with all the DnD skill problems (as Frank pointed out).

    You will have to get rid of any +skill items and spells (weildskill) and all +skill feats beyond those you listed. And then you will have to figure out a solution to multiclassing, or there will never be a reason to take more then a single level of a caster class. Oh, and you will probably want to get rid of all non-standard-progression PrCs too, or someone will grab a level each of blighter, telflammar shadowlord and whatever other classes with lower spell levels they can find.

    In short, your basic idea might not be bad, but I can't see tying it to the DnD skill system. And even if you manage to make it work you will to eliminate dozens of classes, feats, spells and items from the game.

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    Kirin_Corrigan
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    PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 10:54 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Frank wrote:
    Where did you get the numbers from?


    I took a couple of minutes to figure out which minimum spellcraft check would be needed to cast a spell of a given level, maxing out Spellcraft and taking 10. It turned out the following:

    [code]
    spell skill min stat total
    level ranks stat bonus taking 10
    1 4 11 - 14
    2 6 12 +1 17
    3 8 13 +1 19
    4 10 14 +2 22
    5 12 15 +2 24
    6 14 16 +3 27
    7 16 17 +3 29
    8 18 18 +4 32
    9 20 19 +4 34
    [/code]

    Now, the formula I used to calculate the check DC is just the simplest one I could think of that approximated those numbers well enough: 14.5, 17, 19.5, 22, 24.5, 27, 29.5, 32, 34.5

    I'm sure that with some more thinking one could pull off a more complex formula that will return the exact numbers of the table, but all i needed was a simple enough formula to avoid committing to memory the table itself. It's to make the system more player-friendly.

    Frank wrote:
    Things which are immediately obvious:

  • If you aren't a Wizard, you can suck it. The DC to cast spells is Int based regardless of what modifier your spells are supposedly based on. So a Cleric who wants to cast buffs and heals is actually an Int-caster, not a Wisdom caster.


  • Damn, I knew I forgot to point out something important: Spellcraft will be based off your spellcasting stat bonus. This means that cleric and druids will add their Wis bonus in place of their Int bonus. BTW, If you are a multiclass mage / cleric, the spellcraft ranks you buy count for both classes, but you add Int for mage spells and Wis for cleric ones.

    Frank wrote:
  • On that note, Skill bonuses aren't the same thing as Level bonuses. In fact, under your system there doesn't seem to be any incentive at all to continue taking Wizard levels over say Ranger levels once you have one Wizard level under your belt. Taking additional levels of Ranger will scale your Spellcraft, and thus your spells, and give you anything at all, as opposed to taking more levels of Wizard, that don't do a god damned thing.


  • Under these rules, not being a primary spellcasting class, the Ranger won't have Spellcraft as a class skill, so his advancement will slow down considerably. Able Learner won't apply either, and I better specify it...

    As for the spells, if you don't get the free ones with your spellcasting class levels all you have left are the spell you researched, and since it may take lots of time to do that (depending on the spell level) and since you still have to learn them via spellcraft checks, you may end up with few spells you actually know. That's not desirable for a primary spellcaster, true, but it may be good enough for a multiclass fighter/mage or similar build.

    Frank wrote:
  • Skill bonuses are really easy to get. Just the fact that a Feat can get you +3 to one skill or +2 to two skills means that a lot of people will be able to roll all over these things. A stat bonus is in some ways as good as a BAB, but it's in all ways as good as a skill rank past 2nd level. That 3rd level Grey Elf with SF: Spellcraft from a Courteous Magocracy is a better spellcaster than some jive fool 8th level Wizard.


  • I see your point. I think that could be solved stating that aside from "Skill focus: Spellcraft", no skill bonus from whatever feat applies when making a Spellcraft check to cast a spell. After all you already have to track the "spellcasting spellcraft skill" separately...

    Frank wrote:
    D20 skills don't work well if they make a big difference in the power of a character. I'm not sure where you are trying to go with this, but I don't have high hopes for your eventual success.


    Well, the whole point is to get closer to a spellcasting system la Slayers. The idea is that you can machine gun low level spells (or spells you are specialized in) like nobody's business and that higher level spells may or may not work and may or may not cripple you according to how well you set up your battle strategy (buying yourself enough time to recitate the incantation to lower the DC of the spell, putting yourself in a condition that allows you to take 10, etc.).

    To do that I have to get rid of the whole idea of "spell praparation" and "spells per day". Tying spells to a skill is just one way to do that. The first that came to mind, at least.
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    Kirin_Corrigan
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    PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 11:25 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Murtak wrote:
    Maybe I missed something ... does anything prevent you from researching, say, teleport as a 3rd level wizard, spell mastering it and always making the DC 25 check?


    Spell research is still subject to DM's fiat...

    Murtak wrote:
    For that matter, even if you keep to the spells of your level, a level one spell has a DC of 15. Taking 10, 4 ranks, a +4 int bonus, skill focus and spell mastery will let a human wizard cast all of his spells at will, without fatigue.


    True. But I don't see that as a problem.

    Murtak wrote:
    Even without spell mastery a sun elf wizard has to merely wait until level 3 to cast any level 1 spell freely.


    Same as above.

    The point is that spells don't scale: every spell deals the minimum allowed for its level (MM will alwasy do 1d4+1, unless you power it up with some feats). You can machine gun spells fairly easily under some circumstances, that's expected (if not outright required).

    Murtak wrote:
    At level 10, taking 10, with 13 ranks, a +8 int bonus and skill focus he can always get to 34, letting him cast level 5 spells without fatigue (or 4, if you round DCs up).


    The +8 int bonus is not a given, actually. No-one said that under this system spellcasting stat boosts will be one dime a dozen at your FLMS. More likely that will be a +5, +6.

    OTOH, taking 10 is subject to the whole group battle strategy. If a 10th level caster with a +6 bonus can set it up to take 10 over and over, he can machine gun level 3 spells (i.e. 5d6 a shot, in the case of a fireball or lighting bolt).

    Murtak wrote:
    You will have to get rid of any +skill items and spells (weildskill) and all +skill feats beyond those you listed.


    True.

    Murtak wrote:
    And then you will have to figure out a solution to multiclassing, or there will never be a reason to take more then a single level of a caster class. Oh, and you will probably want to get rid of all non-standard-progression PrCs too, or someone will grab a level each of blighter, telflammar shadowlord and whatever other classes with lower spell levels they can find.

    In short, your basic idea might not be bad, but I can't see tying it to the DnD skill system. And even if you manage to make it work you will to eliminate dozens of classes, feats, spells and items from the game.


    As I said, this is still a rough draft.

    As for the spellcraft skill, I could simply make up a "Spellcasting Prowess" skill, give it the same abilities as Spellcraft and eliminate Wieldskill from the game. It'd work as intended, without having to make any specific exception for feats and whatnot.

    AS for eliminating spells or classes from the game, that's the common job of a DM... Wink

    I know these rules won't be universally good, but I'm trying to make them internally consistent first. Then I'll see what interacts poorly with them.
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    FrankTrollman
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    PostPosted: Mon Jul 11, 2005 11:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Kirin wrote:
    Under these rules, not being a primary spellcasting class, the Ranger won't have Spellcraft as a class skill, so his advancement will slow down considerably.


    No it won't. The maximum number of ranks you can have in a skill is the same as long as it is a class skill for any of your classes. Even if Ranger gets Spellcraft taken off its skill list, it still gets 6 skill points a level. Needing to flush 2 skill points per level out of the Ranger list is trivial. You don't really need any of those skills except Spot, Listen, and Survival, as the entire Hide/Move Silently group has been stealth errataed into complete unusability.

    Taking more Wizrd levels gives you 1 skill point + your Int Bonus in addition to advancing your spellcasting. Taking Ranger levels gives you 4 skill points + your Int bonus in addition to advancing your spellcsting and giving you some minor powers.

    Not the least of which is Endurance, which allows you to ignore any Fatigue effect that hits you. Which unless you come up with something new about it, will include missing those spellcasting rolls.

    Kirin wrote:
    Well, the whole point is to get closer to a spellcasting system la Slayers. The idea is that you can machine gun low level spells (or spells you are specialized in) like nobody's business and that higher level spells may or may not work and may or may not cripple you according to how well you set up your battle strategy (buying yourself enough time to recitate the incantation to lower the DC of the spell, putting yourself in a condition that allows you to take 10, etc.).


    Why not just set it up that way then? Give people a character level check against a DC based on the spell level and the level you have in the appropriate class. Then people can machine gun low level spells because their Level check will be high and their DC will be low, and casting high level spells will be difficult or impossible because their level check will be low and their DC will be high.

    Properly arranged, you could have a half-way decent multicaster, since his level check would be high but his DC would be relatively high as well.

    -Frank
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    Kirin_Corrigan
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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 8:00 am    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Frank wrote:
    No it won't. The maximum number of ranks you can have in a skill is the same as long as it is a class skill for any of your classes. Even if Ranger gets Spellcraft taken off its skill list, it still gets 6 skill points a level.


    That's true. The idea was to slow down a little the advancement of non-primary spellcasters, but as it is it doesn't work as intended... Maybe that can be solved stating that non-primary spellcasters can't spend more than 1 skill point per level in "Spellcasting Prowess".

    Frank wrote:
    Not the least of which is Endurance, which allows you to ignore any Fatigue effect that hits you. Which unless you come up with something new about it, will include missing those spellcasting rolls.


    Well, those statuses already work differently from their omonyms, so I guess I could simply rename them to something like "crippled" and "drained" (where crippled + crippled = drained) to avoid strange interaction with stuff like endurance and some spells.

    Frank wrote:
    Kirin wrote:
    Well, the whole point is to get closer to a spellcasting system la Slayers. The idea is that you can machine gun low level spells (or spells you are specialized in) like nobody's business and that higher level spells may or may not work and may or may not cripple you according to how well you set up your battle strategy (buying yourself enough time to recitate the incantation to lower the DC of the spell, putting yourself in a condition that allows you to take 10, etc.).


    Why not just set it up that way then? Give people a character level check against a DC based on the spell level and the level you have in the appropriate class. Then people can machine gun low level spells because their Level check will be high and their DC will be low, and casting high level spells will be difficult or impossible because their level check will be low and their DC will be high.

    Properly arranged, you could have a half-way decent multicaster, since his level check would be high but his DC would be relatively high as well.


    That sounds interesting, basically you're thinking something like 1d20 + "spellcasting class level" + bonuses against a DC of "base fixed number" + spell level + "maluses", for spells of a given class. Right?

    Since I'd like to allow non-primary spellcaster and multiclass noncaster/caster builds to pull off the occasional spell every once in a while, how would you rearrange the above formula?
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    FrankTrollman
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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 7:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Kirin wrote:
    Since I'd like to allow non-primary spellcaster and multiclass noncaster/caster builds to pull off the occasional spell every once in a while, how would you rearrange the above formula?


    What you'd do is have people either roll a character level test against a DC set by the Spell Level and their caster level, or you'd have people make a caster level test against a DC set by the Spell Level and their character level.

    Of course, you're never going to get an acceptable and simple setup for this, because to be really balanced, a Fighter 10/Wizard 10 would have to be the same amount behind a Wizard 20 as a Fighter 3/Wizard 3 is behind a Wizard 6. That can be done, but only with some ocmplex math that is best shown with an apparently arbitrary chart with a bunch of crazy numbers on it.

    Simple arithmetic progressions just aren't going to work here if you want any semblance of balance. And that means that it might not be a persuable goal outside the context of a computer game.

    -Frank
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    RandomCasualty
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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 8:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    I don't think making spellcasting a skill actually gets you anywhere. It just creates more holes that you've got to patch up. You're better off just making an entirely new mechanic.

    Since you have to fix:

    -The ranger problem
    -The overimportance of ability scores over skill ranks
    -Skill boosting feats
    -Skill boosting items
    -Skill boosting spells
    -Feats like able learner

    The real question is what do you actually gain by using the skill system? Considering you don't want your system to integrate with any existing parts or features of the skill system, you don't gain anything.
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    Kirin_Corrigan
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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:24 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    What about this: each primary spellcasting class (*) gives you "one spellcasting point" and every other class gives you "half spellcasting point". You have to roll 9 + Spell Level x 2 or better on a 1d20 + your spellcasting points to succeed in casting a spell. Taking 10 is allowed (with the usual restrictions) as if it was a skill check. Spell Mastery and Specializing in a school will grant appropriate bonuses to the roll (and by appropriate I mean that I don't know yet what the numbers will turn out to be, maybe +2 each). I guess the threshold for succeeding without becoming "crippled" will be DC +5, while failing becoming "drained" will happen on DC -5 or lower.

    (*) The Bard will be considered as a primary spellcasting class for the purposes of this system.
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    Murtak
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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:31 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List


    So you want to really be a cleric 1, wizard 1 bard 18 in that system if you want to be the best spellcaster on the block. Depending on how your system works that means you either get full sponteaneous casting of all three lists, or better yet, level 20 cleric casting plus level 19 wizard casting plus level 18 bard casting.


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    PostPosted: Tue Jul 12, 2005 9:56 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Well, spellcasting points gained by different spellcasting classes obviously won't stack, they effectively represent your caster level in those classes.

    The idea is that "half spellcasting points" will be tied to one of the spellcasting classes you possess. Essentially you choose on a one by one basis which spellcasting class will benefit from one of your "half points".

    Clr 1 / Wiz 1 / Ftr 8 might have the equivalent CL of a Clr 3 / Wiz 3, or Clr 1 / Wiz 5, or Clr 5 / Wiz 1 or any other combination you can come up with. By default you still will know only a few 1st level spells of both classes.
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    FrankTrollman
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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:19 am    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    That's... just a VCL system. My objection now is the same as it ever was. At some point you are presenting people's Fighter/Wizards with the option of taking a level of Wizard or taking a level of Fighter and getting all the benefits of the Wizard level anyway. In this case, consider what happens when your Wizard has one level of Fighter. If he takes a level of Wizard, his spellcasting increments by one. If he takes a level of Fighter, his spellcasting increments by one anyway. If you can make the flimsiest of claims that one of those options is balanced, the other obviously is not.

    VCL systems aren't workable. Nothing you can do to them are going to make them balanced, because a level's worth of Wizarding is already coming out in small integers. There's just no way to hand out power any more gradually than adding or not adding one to a d20. It can't get any finer than that.

    And if your proposed system treats an 8th level Wizard/Cleric casting spells as having his choice of two sets of 4th level actions to take, then your system is a non-starter from the get-go.

    -Frank
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    Kirin_Corrigan
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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 8:27 am    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Frank wrote:
    That's... just a VCL system.


    Unfortunately, it looks much like a VCL system (which I don't particularly like, btw). Still, it's different. The point is that the "half points" granted by non-primary spellcasting classes don't give you access to higher level spells, they just raise your "equivalent caster level for purposes of casting spells". Basically they make it so you reach a higher tier of spell slots, but leave your access to spells tied to the actual levels you have in a spellcasting class.

    It's like a bonus to your actual caster level, only slightly better.

    Frank wrote:
    My objection now is the same as it ever was. At some point you are presenting people's Fighter/Wizards with the option of taking a level of Wizard or taking a level of Fighter and getting all the benefits of the Wizard level anyway. In this case, consider what happens when your Wizard has one level of Fighter. If he takes a level of Wizard, his spellcasting increments by one. If he takes a level of Fighter, his spellcasting increments by one anyway. If you can make the flimsiest of claims that one of those options is balanced, the other obviously is not.


    Ftr 2 / Wiz 1 has BAB +2, 17 HP, F+3 R+0 W+2, 2 fighter bonus feats, an "equivalent caster level" of 2 and knows only the spells that Wiz 1 granted him.

    Ftr 1 / Wiz 2 has BAB +2, 15 HP, F+2 R+0 W+3, 1 fighter bonus feat, an "equivalent caster level" of 2.5 and knows 2 more spells.

    Two levels of fighter make it easier to cast spells, but won't give you any of the benefits that Wiz 2 carries with it, namely two more spells known, access to Wiz 3 and the 2nd level spells that come with it. The two options are different, and suit different needs.

    An easier way to compare those two builds is to take things a bit further:

    Ftr 6 / Wiz 2: BAB +7/+2, F+5 R+2 W+5, 42.5 HP, "ECL" 5, 4 fighter bonus feats, spells known by a Wiz 2 (6+Int 1st level spells only).

    Ftr 2 / Wiz 6: BAB +4, F+5 R+2 W+5, 30.5 HP, "ECL" 7, 2 fighter bonus feats, spells known by a Wiz 6 (6+Int 1st level spells, 4 2nd level spells, 4 3rd level spells).

    The difference between the two options is expected, wide enough and entirely reasonable.

    The first build gives you more HP, more attacks, more fighter bonus feats and is generally geared more towards combat. Still, it allows you to safely cast up to 3rd level spells, which means you can slap up to a +2 metamagic feat on a 1st level spell and cast it over and over should you need it.

    The second build is rooted more towards spellcasting, less attacks, less HP, less fighter bonus feats. In turn, it gives you knowledge of more spells and of a higher level. The two fighter levels allow you to safely cast up to 4th level spells, which means that you can slap a +1 metamagic feat on a 3rd level spell you know and cast it "at will".

    One could object that the first build has access to higher levels spells thorugh research. And that's absolutely true. But since we're going for a fair comparison the second build has exactly the same resources as the first and researches the same number of spells of the same level as the first build. In the end the second build is always ahead in terms of spells known and spellcasting in general.

    As a side note, both builds allow you to try and cast a "metamagicked" spell of a level beyond your limits. The second build, for example can totally try casting an empowered, maximized, widened fireball hoping for a lucky roll.
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    Murtak
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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 9:18 am    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List


    I do not think it is a good idea to tie raw power (higher level spells) to time and money in a level based system. Research is already problematic when just looking at the options you gain from it. In your system you also hand out raw power. A spellbook of obscuring mist, true strike and charm person gains a significantly larger benefit from adding a second level spell or two than one that already has some decent second level spells.

    Also both time and money vary in how much of them is available in a given campaign. It is quite possible that you will never get to do any research at all. On the other hand it is possible than you can research dozens of spells, putting the single-classed caster firmly in diminishing returns country and thus giving comparetively more to the multiclassed character.
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    Kirin_Corrigan
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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 9:29 am    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    What I like to give players is more options, possibly assisting them in making reasonable decisions.

    Saying that a spellbook that already has a good second level spell benefits less from the addition of another second level spell compared to a spellbook that doesn't have second level spells at all is entirely beyond the point of any system, not to say nigh to impossible to gauge at all.

    There are too many variables to take into account: the character concept, the contingent campaign, the splatbooks allowed and the player's preference (which generally trumps all the rest). In the end such events are necessarily dealt on a one by one basis and have nothing to do with the system we're debating.
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    Murtak
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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 12:16 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List


    Kirin_Corrigan wrote:
    Saying that a spellbook that already has a good second level spell benefits less from the addition of another second level spell compared to a spellbook that doesn't have second level spells at all is entirely beyond the point of any system, not to say nigh to impossible to gauge at all.

    I am not sure if you get my point. Let's say we have two characters. Character A has one level of wizard and four levels of fighter. Character B has 3 levels of wizards. Or if you want to use a high level comparison, 1/16 and 9.

    Both are capable of casting second level spells. But without research character A does not actually have any second level spells to cast. As he goes up in level he will gain access to third, fourth or even fifth level slots and may still only be able to cast first level spells.

    That is a difference that goes far far beyond the differences in power you get from a varying spell selection - which to me seems how you wanted to differentiate between straight and multiclassed casters.

    On the other end of the spectrum you have near-infinite research. Character A may well have a spellbook containing 50 spells, compared to character B who has 55 (or, if you want to scale this up a couple of levels, 400 to 450). This is a difference that will be hard to notice in-game.

    So using the same system characters A and B may be nearly identical in spellcasting power or off by a factor of 20 or more (maximized magic missile vs. Firebrand, quickened jump vs. teleport). I doubt either case is intended.

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    Kirin_Corrigan
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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 5:49 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Murtak wrote:
    That is a difference that goes far far beyond the differences in power you get from a varying spell selection - which to me seems how you wanted to differentiate between straight and multiclassed casters.


    High level characters that invest only in a single level of a spellcasting class totally deserve to know by default only what that single level gives them, if that's what you're worrying about. Sure, they may have the chance to cast higher level spells, but only if they put some effort into it (researching spells).

    To an extent, researching a few higher level spells is mandatory for a multiclassed spellcaster.

    Murtak wrote:
    On the other end of the spectrum you have near-infinite research. Character A may well have a spellbook containing 50 spells, compared to character B who has 55 (or, if you want to scale this up a couple of levels, 400 to 450). This is a difference that will be hard to notice in-game.


    Now, here you're not presenting me with an edge case. What you describe here is out-an-out pratically impossible: for "A" to research something like 50 additional spells, he needs
    • enough time to do that (just copying a spell from one spellbook to another takes you 2 whole days, researching a spell won't take you less than 2 weeks, possiblly more as the spells' level go up)
    • enough money to do that (one thing is for sure, your wealth will drop well behind a character of your level, making you considerably less powerful in comparison; you'll miss out enhancements on your weapon, armor or power ups for your equipment)
    • enough ranks in spellcraft to learn those spells (your spellcraft will be either low - and you'd be boned - or decent - if you sacrifice other skills in its place - either way this will slow you down even more if not stop you outright)[/list]

      If you manage to do all the above and live enough to brag about it, you'll deserve those additional 50 researched spells known. Absolutely.

      Honestly this is a non-issue. Really.
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    FrankTrollman
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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 6:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    Kirin wrote:
    What you describe here is out-an-out pratically impossible


    No. It's not. Between Amenuensis and Planeshift, resourceful characters can get that crap done in an afternoon, but even if you eliminate time dilation powers, there's still characters who simply rarely age. A party of Dragons or Elves can have stretches of downtime that last for fifty years with no problem. A party of goblins cannot.

    The goal is to make downtime equally useful to all characters, because the fact is that it's not going to be the same in all games. In SAME Disgaea, downtime gets you nothing. In SAME Fantasy, everyone gets new abilities at an equal rate with the same amount of downtime. What you are doing is the opposite - some characters get more and others less out of the same downtime even with respect to the current D&D system. This is, therefore, a step backwards and I can't endorse it.

    It's certainly an interesting thought experiment, but I have yet to see a single advantage that you've managed to create. So far all we've really shown is how deep the structural problems with the current system are, and thus how resistant the current system is to patches.

    -Frank
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    Kirin_Corrigan
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    PostPosted: Wed Jul 13, 2005 9:11 pm    Post subject: Re: Skill based spellcasting Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

    While downtime may be an issue, there's still the "problem" of limited resources. That one is a real limitation. You have only so much money to spend. OTOH, if ones tries hard enough, every system is bound to break. But in the end spell resarch is completely under DM control and at some point one can just say "I'm sorry, that's not possible" and nix abuse attempts.

    Back to the original topic, all I'm trying to do is giving a little more versatility and some more options to the players. That's why one thing I'll do for sure is handing out those "basic metamagic feats" I proposed and invite people to use them freely. As for the rest, I felt that tying spellcasting to a skill allowed for that versatility I'm striving at. Surely this "solution" has its problems, but I find preferrable trying and solving these problems rather than going back to the current "fire and forget" system. BTW, the more I think about it, the less I like the "CL based" variation, too...

    As an aside, I've been told that the "skill based" idea I originally suggested is not too different from Spycraft Psionics. Now, I've never had the chance to play or even just check out that system, but I've heard it's pretty neat. If anyone knows how exactly it works, I'd be interested in getting some advice to tweak my system to be more similar to the Spycraft's one, if possible.

    Even if in the end it won't turn out to be a universally useful system, it may still work well enough for some campaigns.
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