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Changes to Spell DCs


Suggestions/House Rules/Homebrew


Been thinking of changing this to be based on caster level rather than spell level.

What do ya'll think?

Cheliax

Kryzbyn wrote:

Been thinking of changing this to be based on caster level rather than spell level.

What do ya'll think?

It buffs the already strongest classes in the game

replacing spell level with 1/2 caster level might be more reasonable tho


What is your reason for changing the mechanic?


Basing it on caster level (or half caster level) means that all spells that a caster casts have the same save DC. A 9th level spell shouldn't have the same save DC as a 1st level spell. 9th level spells are more powerful, and should be harder to save against then a 1st level spell.

Its a buff, which is something that full spellcasters do not need. They are already the most powerful classes - no reason to make them more powerful.


Was a thought on how to make the early half of a wizard's spell book more useful in later levels.
Most things of equivalent level will pass lower level spells easily.
It was my thought that the effectiveness, power and resistability of a spell should be based on the skill or knowledge (level) of the caster, not the level of the spell.

Cheliax

Kryzbyn wrote:

Was a thought on how to make the early half of a wizard's spell book more useful in later levels.

Most things of equivalent level will pass lower level spells easily.
It was my thought that the effectiveness, power and resistability of a spell should be based on the skill or knowledge (level) of the caster, not the level of the spell.

But really any self respecting caster worth his salt doesnt need a bower boost

but I too like the idea of your lower level spells having more "oomph" at later levels


Ok half character level +10 + casting stat...
Was going to just get rid of the extra +10 and make it caster level, but 6 of one, half dozen of another...


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber

If you're dead set on it, why not simply set the spell's DC as if it were the highest level spell the caster can cast? Seems the most obvious solution to me. It doesn't affect the upper bound on spell DC for a caster of that level; it keeps the "wizards cast better than rangers" mechanic; and it fulfills your requirement that all spells have the same DC for a given character.

Cheliax

OH yeah, partial casters.........

Methinks blahpers may be on to something.

also what about the feat heighten spell? it doesnt work with this variant

Cheliax

Kryzbyn wrote:

Ok half character level +10 + casting stat...

Was going to just get rid of the extra +10 and make it caster level, but 6 of one, half dozen of another...

at low levels (below 10) that would kill casters.


Ahh true...
Partial casters would benefit greatly, as they can ever cast 4th or 6th evel spells tops.


I've not had the chance to try it out yet, but I'm intending to play like this:

All base saves = 1/2 HD

Heroic classes grant a +3 Class bonus to all good saves at 1st level. Monster HD and NPC classes grant a +2 bonus. (Class bonuses do not stack)

Spell save DCs use 1/2 caster level in place of spell level

If this works it will make casters stronger, but it will make everybody better at resisting them to compensate.
The benefit is that it makes more sense, it helps the strongest classes the least and you only need to have one spell save DC stat instead of ten.


If you do something like this, it seems like you'd want to limit spells per day pretty severely. Maybe have spells per day be something like:

Wizard 3+level/2
Cleric 3+level/2 (including domain)
Druid 3+level/2
Sorcerer 6+level/2
...


Seriously? That never even occurred to me as a possibility. Surely that would make all low level spells completely ignored, defeating the point in the rule.

I would have thought that the solution to save DCs being better would be to lower them or raise save bonuses. Limiting spells seems like a square peg for a round hole.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I still don't see how this really helps you much at boosting lower level spells. Lower level spells will still have lower damage caps, smaller ranges, smaller AoEs. Why would I cast fireball when I can cast delayed blast fireball? Why would a wizard even memorize it?

A difference of less than five points to a DC isn't a character-defeating weakness by any stretch of the imagination, and most of your spells will be within that range (unless you really want to cast that burning hands at 17th level... which if you're memorizing a 1st level blaster spell at that level why aren't you memorizing magic missile?).

This is a solution in search of a problem, and that's asking for balance issues where everyone else is concerned.


Making save dcs incredibly high is too easy as is at high levels. Make it 10+1/3 level+stat, the increased versatility will be balanced by slightly lower dcs for top level spells. At 15th lvl, save dc would be 15+stat for all instead of 18+ for 8th and 11+ for 1st.

Also, you need to increase the slot cost of persistant spell to AT LEAST 4.


I have never actually used persistent spell, but by the look of it and from what I hear it's pretty terrifying already, so yes, I imagine it would become a problem.

As to whether this is a solution in search of a problem, I'm planning to use the variation I've suggested in combination with some other stuff (mostly characters using the total caster levels from all their classes added together) to change how multiclassing and metamagic work. I'm kinda depending on it not radically changing the power of lower level spells.

Stringburka, 10+1/3+stat is a good suggestion. That might be much better. Problem is it'll suck at very low levels when casters aren't very powerful, so it might need some work.


Jeraa wrote:
A 9th level spell shouldn't have the same save DC as a 1st level spell.

Why not? (although I agree that a spell cast by a 1st level wizard shouldn't have the same DC as a spell cast by a 17th level wizard)

'findel


Level 1 decently optimized main caster still has a DC of 14-15 or so, up towards 17 (fey sorcerer for example) when average bad save on a CR 1 monster is +1, so I don't think it's a huge problem. At level 6 a sorcerer would have 5% less chance on 3rd level spells, and 5% more on 1st level spells. Not a huge deal I think, especially since it's at those low levels you want to use lower-level spells.

But yeah, if persistant isn't adjusted it's just plain crazy.
Average bad save for CR13 is +12 (we'll assume you can hit the bad save). Decent lvl 12 sorcerer will have a DC of 20+level or so (+8 int +2 GSF/other boost). Chance to save on an Eyebite will be 35%. Chance to save on a persistant Overwhelming Grief will be .45*.45=~20% by RAW (which in itself is crazy good). With the "DC is equal to highest level of spell", it would instead be .35*.35=~12%. Even hitting the GOOD save with such a rule would yield a 75% success chance.

Adjusting it to +4 slot levels would mean chance against bad save would limit it to something like Persistant Hideous Laughter for 30% save chance. Still harder to resist than the eyebite, but it's got a worse effect so that's okay.


Laurefindel wrote:
Jeraa wrote:
A 9th level spell shouldn't have the same save DC as a 1st level spell.

Why not? (although I agree that a spell cast by a 1st level wizard shouldn't have the same DC as a spell cast by a 17th level wizard)

'findel

I think this depends on how you view spells - in how large degree they are an extension off the mage and how much they are a separate entity just created by the mage.

If we compare it to martials, take a look at the monk - it's weapons are part of it's body, and becoming a more powerful monk includes getting stronger weapons as they are an extension of the monk itself. Compare this to the fighter - while it might get better at using a greatsword (feats, weapon training - compare to spell focus, bloodlines) and get stronger (compare to more intelligent), thus dealing more damage, the greatsword itself is basically stuck at 2d6.

I think the difference between a monks weapons and a fighters weapons compare quite well to the difference between how people view spellcasting; as magic basically being pure force that the mage uses to the best of it's abilities, or as codified spells with specific abilities that you may be better at using but that are basically the same regardless of how skilled you are. Granted, Pathfinder's rule system support a view that takes elements of both, but you might want to flavor it more in different directions (note that other d20 products sometimes have more codified spells where few things are based on spell level (sovereign stone), while others go in the opposite direction (psionics)).


Pathfinder Modules Subscriber
Archmage_Atrus wrote:

I still don't see how this really helps you much at boosting lower level spells. Lower level spells will still have lower damage caps, smaller ranges, smaller AoEs. Why would I cast fireball when I can cast delayed blast fireball? Why would a wizard even memorize it?

A difference of less than five points to a DC isn't a character-defeating weakness by any stretch of the imagination, and most of your spells will be within that range (unless you really want to cast that burning hands at 17th level... which if you're memorizing a 1st level blaster spell at that level why aren't you memorizing magic missile?).

This is a solution in search of a problem, and that's asking for balance issues where everyone else is concerned.

I can't help but notice that all of your examples are blaster spells. You are correct; such spells would see little improvement. However, they're the weakest type of spell in the game. A higher DC greatly benefits spells like charm person or bestow curse. Those are the kinds of spell whose usage would be altered radically at higher levels, as normally they're practically worthless without Heighten Spell once you get near endgame.

Note: I do not advocate changing spell DCs at all. I'm just explaining the ramifications of doing so.

Osirion

Laurefindel wrote:
Jeraa wrote:
A 9th level spell shouldn't have the same save DC as a 1st level spell.

Why not? (although I agree that a spell cast by a 1st level wizard shouldn't have the same DC as a spell cast by a 17th level wizard)

'findel

This argument has some merit - you'd think the archmage's burning hands would be intrinsically more powerful than his apprentices' (aside from his extra feats and Int increases).

The best way around this would be to introduce a new feat, rather than overhaul the DC mechanic.

Improved Spell Focus
Prerequisite: Spell Focus in chosen school, Greater Spell Focus in chosen school.
Benefit: Choose one school of magic for which you qualify. Add +1 to the save DC of the second-highest level of spells and lower you can cast.
Special: A character may select this feat multiple times. Each time it can be applied to a new school of magic, or increase the save DC of progressively lower levels of spells by a further +1.


Sorry, but I completely disagree.
I get fed up with seeing "add a feat" heralded as the solution to all problems, because it's always another dry option competing for a slot that won't effect most characters at all.
If something feels like it should happen naturally, it should happen naturally.

Osirion

It's not really a "problem" to begin with. The poster asked for ideas and commentary, a feat is one possibility. The benefit of using a feat is that it is easy to see the consequences - plus in PF I've noticed a trend that my casters tend to run out of useful feat choices by about 11th level, so more caster-based feats wouldn't hurt.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Kryzbyn wrote:

Been thinking of changing this to be based on caster level rather than spell level.

What do ya'll think?

I'll admit, I've given this idea some thought as well. If you're having a real problem with spellcasters going nova with their high level spells and then trying to turtle up after a 15 minute day, it may be a helpful solution. Their lower level spells, particularly the save or sit ones like charm person or hold person, won't be as obsoleted.

But if you're not really seeing that problem, then I think it's probably not worth the change.


You'll hear a lot of hyperbole in the responses to this kind of question; there's some truth in it, but "OMG casters will become so über!" doesn't mean much to me in a game where they already are. "Über-er", perhaps?

You may have players who don't work hard to realize the full potential of casters, and if that's so, this change may only make casters slightly more effective. It will increase the utility of all but the highest level of spells. Beware the emergence of a player who pushes that envelope, though.

Go ahead and do it, but understand the consequences first, and make sure you understand your perceived problem with the rules as written. As with 95% of house-rules, if the perceived problem is not a huge, campaign-breaking one, you're probably better off playing the rules-as-written; if for no other reason than it is one less change for everyone to remember at the table.


Mortuum wrote:
Seriously? That never even occurred to me as a possibility. Surely that would make all low level spells completely ignored, defeating the point in the rule.

I'd have to look through the spell lists more closely, but I am not so sure that higher level spells would always be better in all situations than all lower level spells.

Mortuum wrote:
I would have thought that the solution to save DCs being better would be to lower them or raise save bonuses. Limiting spells seems like a square peg for a round hole.

A couple points;

1. Under the RAW, spell casters use higher level spells to hit higher level targets. If you make DC's lower then you reduce the caster's ability to hit higher level targets. This could work, but I don't think it scales like it should.

2. When it comes to class balance you have to look at the whole package. If you make a class too powerful then you need to tone it down in some way. You should also be mindful of the balance across all levels. Your change does not boost low level casters at all but dramatically boosts high level casters. My suggested balance penalizes low level casters somewhat and high level casters significantly, so it is scaling in the right direction.


This rule will also benefit spontaneous casters over prepared ones as well, that can dial a spell for what's needed on the fly as opposed to having to use what's prepared in less than optimum circumstances...

EL, I'm trying to look at ways to make the lower level spells more useful. As Atrus said most high level mages only cast or use high level spells becasue of the damage caps and such. Well, what about the non-damaging spells? A high level wizard's suggestion spell could dissuade or avoid a fight, more so than a lower level one, because he has more command over the magic. As for damaging spells, he may look out the window and see his tower being rushed by cannon fodder. Why waste a 7th level spell, then the 3rd will work becasue his is more unavoidable.
I could comprimise, keep the rules as is, but allow a wizard to boost the DC on his lower level spells with a successful caster check, using the DC for defensive casting. He would probably never fail on the lowers, but he might on the mid levels.

I dunno...


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

How about allowing prepared casters to prepare a spell at least 3 levels lower than the highest than can cast in two slots to cast it as if heightened to the highest spell they can cast? And allow a spontaneous one to burn two slots to do the same? Make it an intrinsic part of spellcasting, not a feat or class ability. It allows lower level spells to maintain relevancy, and doesn't give them a full load-out of 9th level equivalent spells.


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ALMOST every ability for every class and feat in the game is 10+1/2 level+ ability modifier. I don't see why it should be less for spell casters.

Osirion

Arnwolf wrote:
ALMOST every ability for every class and feat in the game is 10+1/2 level+ ability modifier. I don't see why it should be less for spell casters.

Because spellcasters have way more abilities than any other class, they can change them each day or change them on the fly, and their weakest abilities are at least equal to the best feat or class features.


Arnwolf wrote:
ALMOST every ability for every class and feat in the game is 10+1/2 level+ ability modifier. I don't see why it should be less for spell casters.

Because for most classes, the ability modifier is either from a secondary stat or on a very MAD class. Also, a wizard's highest-level spells are going to have that DC (or 1 higher) anyway, so...

For example, a 10th level monk have a Stunning Fist DC of 10+5+Wis, maybe +5 or +6 or so. A 10th level wizard will have a DC of 10+Spell Level+Int, which is probably +7 or so, and in additon might have spell focus, for an additional +1.

So the monk will have a DC of about 20, the wizard will have a DC of 20 with 3rd level spells (2nd if spell focus), and higher with his higher spells.

I could see a DC of 10+1/2 lvl+ability modifier if the ability scores where more switched. Say, a wizard learnt spells based on int, gained bonus spells based on int, and had the minimum ability limit based on int, but had a DC set by Cha. Then it might be okay.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

I've actually toyed with a houserule that is almost the reverse of this - making all spells have a static DC, 18 perhaps. It makes the game more like 1e-2e, saves get easier to make as you gain levels instead of harder. It also balances the high level save-or-suck spells by making them quite unlikely to work.

I'm sure it would have a lot of unintended consequences but I thought I'd throw it out there.


How does making a spell unlikely to work balance it? Sounds like casting it would be a waste of time. If your turns don't usually do anything, you're a dead weight eating up valuable treasure and experience points.

It's an interesting idea though. It might actually make a lot of sense, but I don't know if the game could take it.

Taldor RPG Superstar 2011 Top 32

Mortuum wrote:

How does making a spell unlikely to work balance it? Sounds like casting it would be a waste of time. If your turns don't usually do anything, you're a dead weight eating up valuable treasure and experience points.

It's an interesting idea though. It might actually make a lot of sense, but I don't know if the game could take it.

As I said, unintended consequences. There was a lot more that was different in 1e/2e; hp were a lot less so damage spells were a lot more threatening. (the 1e monk entry defends their type of HD (d4) with the calculation that they would average 45 hp at 17th level, implied to be a lot; considering a 17th level wizard would probably have 34ish hp, it might be).

It would definitely make for a differnet game where high level casters are less "godlike" and useful more for the adventuring utility they bring rather than combat prowess. Since this is exactly the sort of thing I like to do with casters it would work well for me. YMMV.

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