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Metamagic Feats, a new take?


Skills and Feats

Taldor

This is reposted from a friend on Deviant Art, I like his take on it, but expect others to call Shenanigans or that me and my friend are Mad! Insane! ... well, we are.. but lets run with this any way.

Take it away Doc.

"One of the advantages modern D&D characters have is Feats. These special abilities, for the most part, aid a character and give them more flavour. They aren't perfect. I've seen a lot of Feats that were basically useless and badly designed; but the majority are good. This brings me to Metamagic Feats.

While the Feats themselves are very good for magic-users, the rules governing them are idiotic.

As an example, I'll use the Extend Spell Feat. The benefit of the Feat is that any spell cast using it doubles its duration, not including spells with a duration of concentration, instantaneous or permanent (for logical reasons). The downside (and enter the stupidity) is that use of the Feat "uses up a spell slot one level higher than the spell's actual level." This means that, for example, if you use the Feat on a 2nd lvl spell, you lose one of your 3rd lvl spells. Here's the list of Metamagic Feats in the PHB, and the slots they use:

Empower Spell: 2 lvls higher
Enlarge Spell: 1 lvl higher
Extend Spell: 1 lvl higher
Heighten Spell: Actually, costs nada
Maximize Spell: 3 lvls higher
Quicken Spell: 4 lvls higher
Silent Spell: 1 lvl higher
Still Spell: 1 lvl higher
Widen Spell: 3 lvls higher

This is ridiculous, and stupid. Further, while a 1st level spell-user may take any of these Feats, they couldn't actually use them, because they would have no higher spell slots to spend. AND some of these could only be used by very high level characters, but then only with low level spells. For example, Quicken Spell could only be used on a 5th lvl spell at most, and you'd have to be able to cast 9th lvl spells (e.g. a 17th Lvl Wizard).

Characters have few enough Feats and spells as it is, and for wizards and sorcerers, spells are their life. Literally. Why should Metamagic Feats be so crippling in cost so as to be useless? They shouldn't, obviously. Luckily, there's a simple solution, one myself and my best friend *MarJak use in our own D&D campaign: eliminate the spell slot cost.

Simply put - you take the Feat, and you use it whenever you want, no cost. So, for example, if you have the Silent Spell Feat, any spells you cast no longer need a verbal component.

I'm an old-time gamer, and I do NOT believe in power gaming, or munchkinism. For me it's about ROLEplaying; telling a good story, playing an interesting character with depth, and having exciting and fun adventures. But D&D is far from perfect, and often the game designers come up with some bad ideas. Those bad ideas need to be corrected.

Lastly, magic-users have, for the entire history of D&D, been given the short end of the stick. Sod-all hit points, no armour, laughable fighting skills, limitations on which races could be magic-users... and of course not many spells, and the spells themselves are often feeble.

D&D 3.5 did some to correct these problems (not the hit points though) but not enough, in my opinion. At least with the revised versions of Metamagic Feats I've discussed, wizards and sorcerers have a better chance to actually LIVE."

Thank you Doc.

Shadow Lodge

Shenanigans! :)

I'm of the opinion that Silent and Still should be reduced to free use, but I think the others are just about right.


Maybe just me but it actually makes sense as is

if you look at the types of spells offer from lvs 1-4ish you'll find they are more single target small area focused whereas the higher levels spells are more area effects and expanded effects of the lower level equivalent.

Thus metamagic feats amp up the lower level spells to make them useful at high levels.

e.g. Scorching Ray taps out at 11th level however with empower and maximize it keeps it relevance. 4d6 x 3 goes to 6d6 x3 and then 36 x 3 dmg


Karanidia wrote:


This is ridiculous, and stupid. Further, while a 1st level spell-user may take any of these Feats, they couldn't actually use them, because they would have no higher spell slots to spend. AND some of these could only be used by very high level characters, but then only with low level spells. For example, Quicken Spell could only be used on a 5th lvl spell at most, and you'd have to be able to cast 9th lvl spells (e.g. a 17th Lvl Wizard).

The staple image of a wizard is one waving his arms around and chanting to summon the power of a spell. Using that as a base, I can easily imagine summoning that power with just a bit of thought (Silent, Still) would require more training (presence of the feats) and still be more difficult (expenditure of a higher spell slot).

Other than that, I really don't see the need to allow spellcaster to cast Time Stop, Gate, and Wail of the Banshee as a quickened spells. Nor do I think its overly wise to do so.

Karanidia quoting some one else wrote:

Characters have few enough Feats and spells as it is, and for wizards and sorcerers, spells are their life. Literally. Why should Metamagic Feats be so crippling in cost so as to be useless? They shouldn't, obviously. Luckily, there's a simple solution, one myself and my best friend *MarJak use in our own D&D campaign: eliminate the spell slot cost.

Simply put - you take the Feat, and you use it whenever you want, no cost. So, for example, if you have the Silent Spell Feat, any spells you cast no longer need a verbal component.

Some feats don't have a cost, like Dodge, or Whirlwind Attack. Some, like Power Attack, Combat Expertise, and Metamagic Feats, do have a cost. There is a reason for this. Just as a Barbarian does get the damage from Power Attack for free (though there are ways to almost effectively do this), a wizard does not get a free quickened maximized fireball every round, just for asking (though there are ways to almost effectively do this, as well).

Karanidia quoting some one else wrote:

Lastly, magic-users have, for the entire history of D&D, been given the short end of the stick. Sod-all hit points, no armour, laughable fighting skills, limitations on which races could be magic-users... and of course not many spells, and the spells themselves are often feeble.

D&D 3.5 did some to correct these problems (not the hit points though) but not enough, in my opinion. At least with the revised versions of Metamagic Feats I've discussed, wizards and sorcerers have a better chance to actually LIVE.

Magic Users, from what I remember of Ad&D and beyond, were just short of gods in the later half of the levels. An example of a wizard shifting an entire city into the astral plane of ice comes to mind, as well as catapults lobbing pebbles over a castle wall, amusing the defenders, until those pebbles were dispelled and the polymorh any object spell was removed/dismissed/dispelled, returning the pebbles to undead army form.

In 3rd edition, wizards and sorcerers are widely considered to be some of the more powerful classes available, especially once one gets beyond 10th level. Metamagic for free widens this gulf immensely.

The short end of the stick you are talking about is the handle to a staff of power, crafted by a host of gods, created to redefine reality. Tread carefully with these rules you suggest.

Taldor

PetRock wrote:


The staple image of a wizard is one waving his arms around and chanting to summon the power of a spell. Using that as a base, I can easily imagine summoning that power with just a bit of thought (Silent, Still) would require more training (presence of the feats) and still be more difficult (expenditure of a higher spell slot).

Other than that, I really don't see the need to allow spellcaster to cast Time Stop, Gate, and Wail of the Banshee as a quickened spells. Nor do I think its overly wise to do so.

Thats an interesting take, if this was all about 'How it looks' but its not, from 1st level to about 6 or even 8th, the Wizard is a walking Target, sure.. he gets cool spells he can toss around, but a Ranger without any feats is going to kill him dead from range 9 out of 10 times.

Your HP is laughable, your major ability "Spells" really don't become worth much till later levels and even then, you depend on everyone else to keep you alive long enough to Wave your Arms, and then you are announcing "Hi, Wizard at work, don't shoot me mr.Ranger?"

PetRock wrote:


Some feats don't have a cost, like Dodge, or Whirlwind Attack. Some, like Power Attack, Combat Expertise, and Metamagic Feats, do have a cost. There is a reason for this. Just as a Barbarian does get the damage from Power Attack for free (though there are ways to almost effectively do this), a wizard does not get a free quickened maximized fireball every round, just for asking (though there are ways to almost effectively do this, as well).

Ok, a Metamagic Cost and a Power Attack Cost seem to be two completely different things, From what I have read of Metamagic.. lets say we use the classic Magic Missle+Empower, Wizard must be 5th level, thus He can Cast 3 at 5th, Thats pretty sweet and he has a great chance to max damage. But he looses that one 3rd level spell he had..its gone.. bye bye..

While our Fighter with Power attack can choose to use or not use his Feat, he didn't really loose anything he doesn't get back the next turn.. The Wiz is done for the day after his spell slots are gone.. the fighter?... yea, he is still happly killing away.

But these are just an option being tossed out here.. use or don't use as you see fit.
I still giggle when someone says Wizards/Sorcerers are over powered.


Every one of the most powerful classes -in the game- core or otherwise is a primary caster.

And you want to give them the huge, if not enormous buff, of not only getting to use the feats int he first place- but to get them for free, an unlimited number of times per day?

That just doesn't strike me as a good idea.

/without the feats/ the wizard is still one of the single most powerful classes out there. They get more HP now than they did before and still excel in everything they did in 3.0/3.5. Why are we giving them a bufF? For flavor?

Some of the feats may be too cost heavy for their limited benefit- but overall they do a fairly good job of trying to keep some abilities that are "too useful" from being too freakin good to have around. Quicken spell, for example.

Taldor

Hmm... which statement is correct, this one:

Karanidia wrote:
Lastly, magic-users have, for the entire history of D&D, been given the short end of the stick. Sod-all hit points, no armour, laughable fighting skills, limitations on which races could be magic-users... and of course not many spells, and the spells themselves are often feeble.

or this one:

Selgard wrote:
Every one of the most powerful classes -in the game- core or otherwise is a primary caster.

The answer, of course, is both. Perspective plays a very important role is weighing the classes against each other, or determining a class's power level in general.

Unfortunately, the Pathfinder design process is bogged down by every participant's own perspective not entirely matching up with every other participant's.

As for the question at hand... gahh, I don't know... just houserule it.

-Matt


Wizard and Clerics ARE the most powerfull classes in 3.5
Followed by Druids.
And somewhere Bards, and sorcerers come along.
In that tree Fits various classes if you build them just right.

For the first few combats anyway.

THAT is my issue with those classes.
after they cast their spells. Bam done for the DAY the Whole Entire Day.
One thing I do like about 4th edition was the Idea of Encounter based abilities.

While Giving them to everyone was silly and over the top.
I think maybe the Idea of giving Spellcasters less overall spells.
IE daily spells. But giving them more spells that can be cast a few times per 'Encounter' Would bring their useability back up.

I am really sick of having to say. "Ok we stop adventuring for today I'm out of spells."

Or even worse. "I'm not casting my spell who knows how much more fights we have today I'm doing nothing."

Sure you can scribe scrolls and make wands, But no first level character will have the gold for a mountain of scrolls.

Osirion

Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber

Sort of off-topic, but:

Phasics wrote:

Thus metamagic feats amp up the lower level spells to make them useful at high levels.

e.g. Scorching Ray taps out at 11th level however with empower and maximize it keeps it relevance. 4d6 x 3 goes to 6d6 x3 and then 36 x 3 dmg

I could be misunderstanding you here, but an Empowered, Maximized Scorching Ray would do (24 + 2d6) x 3. The maximized and the empowered do not stack, so the initial 4d6 is maxed, but the 50% more from empowered (equivalent to 2d6) is not. Common misconception.


I like the idea of making still spell and silent spell +0. The other metamagic feats I don't have much of a problem with.

In response to Wuffy's complaint about running out of daily spells. I would suggest Pathfinder put in [reserve] feats like they had in Complete Mage. They let a spellcaster go on a lot lonnger without making your daily spells irrelevant.
If you haven't seen Complete Mage, reserve feats give you at-will abilities so long as you are currently able to cast certain types of spells.
The school powers for wizards and bloodline powers for sorcerers are nice, but I'd actually prefer getting a free reserve feat and then getting to choose what my character can do.

That's my $.02

Thanks.

Taldor

In all reality, the Complete Mage Reserve feats were pretty terrible compared to just crafting some Pearls of Power I. Especially since those Pearls could be any first-level spell (Lesser Orb of X OR Magic Missile OR Ray of Enfeeblement, etc) instead of just a little bit of damage.

The metamagic feats are mostly fine. Making Still and Silent spell be freebies might be a little bit much, especially Still Spell, as one feat would entirely overcome a Wizard's lack of ability to wear armor, and they'd get to suddenly use a shield. Bards, an arcane class which is meant to be able to cast in armor, only gets to wear light armor.

-Matt


Mattastrophic wrote:


The metamagic feats are mostly fine. Making Still and Silent spell be freebies might be a little bit much, especially Still Spell, as one feat would entirely overcome a Wizard's lack of ability to wear armor, and they'd get to suddenly use a shield. Bards, an arcane class which is meant to be able to cast in armor, only gets to wear light armor.

-Matt

Good point about the ability to cast spells without armor. However, there is a feat that reduces arcane spell failure without making the spell 'still'. Maybe there could also be a feat for casting without gestures that doesn't allow for ignoring arcane spell failure?

That is to say, if you can already cast in armor, or if you don't care to wear armor anyway, is "still spell" worth +1 level?

Andoran

I just finished playing an archivist that used a lot of metamagic feats, and I honestly don't think that making metamagic feats "free" in spell level terms is a good idea. It's all about resource management and game balance, IMO.

I for one think it would be unfair for me to be able to toss around 5 or six searing fell drain burning hands or sound bursts in a day. Keeping one or two up my sleeve for emergencies or tough encounters - now that's more balanced IMO.


An alternative to the current metamagic system are the 'sudden' metamagic feats from the Miniatures Handbook. Sudden Empower lets you empower a spell for no additional spell cost 3x/day, etc. Sudden Quicken has a bajillion feat prerequisites. I don't know what the OGL status of those feats are, though.

I wouldn't be averse to making silent spell and still spell +0 feats if they turned the casting time into a full-round action or something. Just so there's some cost for doing things the non-standard way.

IMHO, the metamagic system in general is a good idea badly implemented. I'm not sure if it's fixable in the D20 format, although Monte Cook has done some interesting work with eldritch feats that are +0 level and add a little boost to your spells.


Karanidia wrote:


This is reposted from a friend on Deviant Art, I like his take on it, but expect others to call Shenanigans or that me and my friend are Mad! Insane! ... well, we are.. but lets run with this any way.

Take it away Doc.

What a great idea! Whereas I usually DM, I am actually playing an evoker, and have intentionally foregone metamagic feats because of the reasons Karanidia mentioned above.

Here's a few thoughts to try and bring some balance to this...

1) Do not allow people to stack metamagic feats together...

2) Only allow the free use of metamagic feats on spell levels obtained below the character level of which they obtained the feat. For instance, if a caster gets still magic at first level, they can only cast first level spells using still magic. If they took it as their third level feat, then they could only do it on spells level three or lower, etc.

3) If the caster is a specialist (such as my character is) only allow the character to be able to use the metamagic feats on the spells from their specialized college of magic "sorry, as we are specialists, we only know how to teach you to apply maximized to evocation spells"...


BUMP!!!!


flynnster wrote:
BUMP!!!!

Oh come on !!! Is there No other input available ?


To the OP:
That would be a very bad decision, unless everyone who played a caster in your group unanimously agreed not to abuse it. Which would be very difficult to do.

Free maximize & empower & quicken means two enervates will drain roughly 10 HD a round. Unless your DM is throwing only undead & construct at you, you're going to pretty much kill everything in two rounds. If you have trouble making the ranged touch attack, a quickened true strike means you'll pretty much never miss.

Or what about a quickened, empowered, maximized disintegrate?

And what about heighten? A heightened fireball isn't that big a deal, but a heightened grease, glitterdust, slow, or flesh to stone? Nothing is going to make their save, unless the monster is so high level, it will cream the rest of the party.

Outside of the players handbook, when you get persistent spell (makes a spell last 24 hours on yourself), twin spell, repeat spell, and a whole host of others, the problem becomes even worse. Combine that with the Orb line of spells from the school of conjuration, which, unlike most evocation spells, have no save, you just have to make a ranged touch attack. You will be doing hundreds of damage, without a save, from hundreds of feet away. If your party is ok with feeling useless, then go for it.

Now, if you stick only to player handbook metamagic feats & spells for your wizard, and only evocation spells at that, it may not be *that* bad, since you will only be doing damage. A fighter with a greatsword and power attack, or a two weapon fighting rogue, will be doing similar damage, but only if they get access to feats & classes outside of the PHB.

Free quicken, alone, is INCREDIBLY powerful. Getting to cast two spells a round, for free, is just insane. The one limiting factor on a wizard, who has a spell for everything, is that he doesn't get to cast them all at once (at least, not until higher levels, and/or with lots of splat books). Especially when, rather than use damage dealing spells, you use spells that force a save, or kill outright, or make the enemy so useless your other party members have no problem killing them.

Metamagic feats are largely for higher level wizards, who have low level slots they aren't doing much with. Filling a 5th level slot with a quickened true strike at level 15 is definitely worth it if you're fighting something like pixie monk blackguards with near-impossible to beat saves and stratospheric touch AC. Now you can land those empowered enervates.

Extend spell is great when you get past level 10, if you ever get downtime. The spells that last 10 hours now last 20 hours. Cast them on your party before you go to sleep, then 9 hours later, they still have 11 hours left, and you also have your spell slots back.

Heighten spell is good for sorcerers who want to keep their low level spells relevant. It's best when combined with the player's handbook II variant where you trade your familiar for the ability to use metamagic without increasing casting time. Otherwise, spending a full round casting is a bummer.

flynnster wrote:

What a great idea! Whereas I usually DM, I am actually playing an evoker, and have intentionally foregone metamagic feats because of the reasons Karanidia mentioned above.

Here's a few thoughts to try and bring some balance to this...

1) Do not allow people to stack metamagic feats together...

2) Only allow the free use of metamagic feats on spell levels obtained below the character level of which they obtained the feat. For instance, if a caster gets still magic at first level, they can only cast first level spells using still magic. If they took it as their third level feat, then they could only do it on spells level three or lower, etc.

3) If the caster is a specialist (such as my character is) only allow the character to be able to use the metamagic feats on the spells from their specialized college of magic "sorry, as we are specialists, we only know how to teach you to apply maximized to evocation spells"...

1) Outside of the player's handbook, when you get feats to reduce the cost of metamagic feats, this would be a good house rule (on its own). It would pretty much nerf some of the most overpowered, optimized wizard builds. Still letting wizards spontaneously use metamagic without increasing the spell slot cost is nuts.

2) This would still make the wizard too powerful. They get feats at levels 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10, 12, 15, 15, 18, and 20. As you can, see, those are mostly levels when the wizard is also getting a new level of spell. At any given time, the wizard is going to be able to use the feat freely on their highest level spells. Which, IMO, is still giving the wizard too much. I would pick up empower & maximize early, to use on things like ray of clumsiness (dex penalty) or ray of enfeeblement (str penalty). Further on I'd get twin, split, and repeat. Quicken would be the last feat I picked up.

Oddly, it would be about the same in terms of what metamagic feats most people pick up, limit to you to about the same spells that people use their metamagic feats on, but not burn through higher level slots.

3) This just discourages people from playing specialists. By the way, evocation for wizard isn't terrific. If played "right" (ie, with waaaaaay too many splatbooks), you can feel competent. But I know a lot of old 2e players who spent 3e throwing fireballs and cones of cold around, and just feel underpowered. You can nuke a bunch of stuff a handful of times per day, and then you shoot stuff with your crossbow. Weee.... It's especially pronounced at low levels, after you run out of magic missiles. 1d4+1 damage just doesn't feel that good, compared to the 2d6+str the fighter does, or the sneak attack the rogue does, all day. I recommend you check out the focused specialist variant in complete mage or complete arcane. You have to prohibit another school, and also lose one slot/day to prepare non specialist wizard spells. You do, however, get two more specialist spells per level, per day. Only if you aren't using one school a whole lot, though.

In my opinion, wizards get more bang for the buck casting transmutation, conjuration, enchantment, and necro. Transmutation, I think, has the best all around spells. You can haste your party, slow the enemy, enlarge the fighter, shrink the rogue, disintegrate, turn mud to rock and back again, or flesh to stone, and let's not forget- everyone gets to fly! Then, of course, there's the utter ridiculousness of turning the party monk into a monster with more natural attacks than the rest of the party combined with polymorph. Conjuration gets some really great stuff like solid fog, web, cloudkill, and grease. My wizards tend to either a) buff his party- a hasted rogue, fighter, and cleric do more damage than a fireball, b) debuff/control the enemy- web, grease, and solid fog gives your party time to organize, buff, retreat, move into position, etc, while slow, enervate, and glitterdust make them less dangerous to your party, and c) tell pesky enemies to die with something that forces them to make a save. If fighting giants, target their will. If fighting aberrations, target fort. Most monsters will have a weak save, and if you target it, you can shut them down. Be warned, though, that this can lead to DM ire if you end the boss fight in two rounds by spamming flesh to stone. I've had DMs arbitrarily bump the saves on all monsters up so I could only lock them down 45% of the time.

Osirion

There have been PrCs and feats that provide alternative 'cost' mechanics for metamagics if a level adjustment doesn't quite float your boat. (And, IMO, 'level adjustment' is an awful mechanic, whether used to modify spells or creatures.)

Options;

1) Caster takes 1d6 nonlethal damage / level of modification. Still spell? 1d6. Quicken spell? 4d6. In a group with free healing, or a race with fast healing, this can be abused to hell and back.

2) Caster takes 1 pt. of Con damage / level of modification. Again, could be abusable with cheap access to ability-restoring magic, and terribly punishing in situations where the caster *doesn't* have access to any ability-restoring magic.

3) Caster must pay an 'action cost' of +1 action per level of modification. Still spell on Fireball? +1 action (bringing up to a full-round action). Maximize spell? 3 full-round actions! Quicken spell? The action cost is charged *after* the spell is cost, and the Wizard can't cast any other spells for four rounds (so he's on wand and scroll duty!).

4) The caster must sacrifice that number of spell levels. Still spell a fireball? Expend a 1st level spell during the casting. Quicken spell that fireball? Expend *four* extra levels of spells during the casting.

5) Spellcraft roll required to metamagic a spell, DC based on amount of metamagic, failed roll wastes the spell. Can be abused with items, spells or Domain abilities that can give +10 or more to a skill roll.

6) Spend money, as with some Spell Templates or Black Lore of Moil, to enhance spells with costly components.

7) Spend XP to enhance spells with metamagics.

8) Mix and match ideas from above to suit your fancy. Examples;
8a) Expend spell levels as #4, but must use a move action to do so, adding an element of 3 as well.

8b) Failed Spellcraft roll from #6 causes nonlethal damage as #1. Move action cost to make Spellcraft roll adds element of #3.

8c) Spend spell slots as in #4, but can risk nonlethal damage (#1) or spend XP (#7), or *both,* if he runs short.

Pick an option that works for you, and go for it.

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