Does Evocation Magic Need A Boost?


General Discussion (Prerelease)

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The question posed by this thread has come up in a couple of other discussion. I thought it was time for it to have its own thread.

Thesis: Direct Damage magic is underpowered when compared other casting options and the direct damage output potential of non-casters.

Question 1: Should direct damage magic be improved to bring it back into balance or is it already balanced? In other words, should casters have damage potentials at least in the ballpark with other classes or should they stick to other niches?

Question 2: Assuming direct damage magic does need a boost, how can that best be accomplished?

My quick thoughts:

Spoiler:

Question 1: I have no idea. Even if changes were made to improve direct damage magic I would still probably stick to another niche when playing a caster. Let other people stack up dice to feel useful, I'll be happy skying my DCs and laying out a generous helping of Save or Suck.

Question 2: How about either altering Evocation spells or adding new variants of the spells that require Full Round Actions to cast but in return put the caster at least in the same league as non-casters?

For example: Fireball would now require a full round action to cast, just like a full attack action of a non-caster, which also allows for greater interruption chance forcing the caster to rely more on their non-caster cohorts, but in return this new fireball does Caster Level x d10 damage instead of CL x d6.

Thoughts?

Liberty's Edge

Just drop the caps on the spells and things should be ok. Fireball had no caps when the baddest non-unique critters had maybe 100hp, and now caps at 10d6 when critters can have hps in the several hundreds.

Doesn't make sense to me.

Maybe changing the standard damage die to a d8 would help as well, but a d10 seems to be a bit much...

Grand Lodge

If you're talking about purely core spells, I don't think Evocation really has a problem. The real kick in the teeth comes with the addition of splatbooks, most notably the Spell Compendium. For some reason, there seems to be a trend in splatbooks to throw a load of direct damage spells into Conjuration. These spells often equal or best Evocation spells of similar level in damage and secondary effects, and have the added bonus of allowing no Spell Resistance! The Orb of [Element] spells especially spring to mind.

If you're asking if direct damage pales in comparison to other spellcasting, I would say it depends on the situation. Against a single opponent, especially one with a sub-par AC, direct damage spells are likely to seem weak compared to simple melee combat. On the other hand, I've been in plenty of situation where we've faced a considerable number of opponents and area-effect direct damage spells have really saved our hides. Furthermore, in situations where the opponents have an amazing AC, spellcasting is often the most efficient way to kill them, as a vanishingly small number of enemies have an amazing touch AC. As I said in the previous paragraph, my biggest worry about Evocation isn't that its direct damage spells may appear underpowered compared to other spells, but rather that splatbooks seem intent on totally undermining the only area where Evocation should be king of the hill.

Scarab Sages

I can't accept that the damage output of spells needs to be increased any farther. There is no need for direct damage output to match melee characters. For a lot of those characters that direct damage output is their only schtick while spellcasters have so much more flexability.

Though I do agree that a lot of conjuration spells from splatbooks should be evocation and will be in my games, or maybe multi school spells.

Tam


My gig is normally to go ahead and move the teleportation subschool into evocation. Evocation, while weak, is much stronger than enchantment, which is far harder to fix in a thematic way. Enchantment is probably the weakest school unless you know for a fact that there will not be enemies immune to mind-affecting abilities.


Tambryn wrote:
I can't accept that the damage output of spells needs to be increased any farther. There is no need for direct damage output to match melee characters.

I generally find that complaints about the weakness of evocation spells are directly correlated to (a) the awesomeness of the melee fighters in the complainer's party and (b) availability of non-Core material in the complainer's campaign.

I've played in games where evocation spells are a joke because the melee fighter can tear apart any enemy in one or two rounds. But I've also played in games where the party would be dead long before the melee fighters could finish the enemies off. YMMV, of course.

Having said that, there's one suggestion that I liked: allow energy spells to ignore spell resistance. A fireball already has to worry about Ref saves and fire resistance; why compound that with spell resistance? And why should a fireball be easier to ignore than a big bonfire anyhow?

The Exchange

Evocation (and blaster spells generally) do hit point damage, which is how most non-casters also deal with hostiles (through weapons). As such, the evocation caster has synergies with the way the other characters are interacting with the bad guy that a "save-or-suck/die" caster doesn't so much. As such, they can enhance the effectiveness of the other characters, whereas the other style of caster play tends to be and all-or-nothing, the-wizard-clinches-it (or he doesn't) sort of thing. Certainly the damage the fighter might be inflicting would be irrelevant to the success, or otherwise, of the wizard in the latter style of play.

While I have no maths to back this up (not my interest) I also note that the suggested superiority of save-or-suck seems to be based off the one-on-one gladiatorial matches used as a proxy for game balance (which, interestingly, are much easier to model that messy multi-party member "real" game situations, and in which a single successful save-or-suck spell will probably make the difference between the lone wizard winning or the wizard getting eaten the following round) and therefore misses that potential synergy, which might make blaster spells look less effective. I put this out there for discussion rather than as something I have tested.


Aubrey the Malformed wrote:
While I have no maths to back this up (not my interest) I also note that the suggested superiority of save-or-suck seems to be based off the one-on-one gladiatorial matches used as a proxy for game balance (which, interestingly, are much easier to model that messy multi-party member "real" game situations, and in which a single successful save-or-suck spell will probably make the difference between the lone wizard winning or the wizard getting eaten the following round) and therefore misses that potential synergy, which might make blaster spells look less effective. I put this out there for discussion rather than as something I have tested.

Disagree whole-heartedly. Spells like Evard's Black Tentacles and Solid Fog have a tremendous effect on the shape of the battle-field, and lie at the heart of a strategy you've certainly heard of which is the BC (battlefield control) Wizard. Also known as the GodWizard, he's designed to help mitigate threat on a larger scale.

People like me tend strongly away from single target SoDs, because they're boring for all involved, particularly my fellow players, and often very weak. Give me glitterdust, grease (even nerfed), or my beloved web any day over phantasmal killer or hold person.

The Exchange

Fair enough. However, more generally, that was more an observation about methodology than the initial issue re evocations and hit point damage.


Absolutely true, forgive my wandering mind. :)


I don't think direct damage spells need a lot of changes. They do quite well, particularly as a second line of spells when the SoDs fail.

If I felt something needed to be done to make them more attractive:

Increase the die from d6 to d8 but only for evocation specialists.

Compress resistances to a 5, 10, 15, (and maybe 20), and immune (because there are some things that should simply be immune to some energies).

Include more round-by-round save opportunities for SoD spells.

Scarab Sages

Wizard to fighter:. "You killed two orcs in the time that it took my fireball to kill these other four orcs."
Fighter in response: "Yeah, but you killed your four with a fireball . . . while flying."
Wizard:. "Oh, yeah . . . . . I forget about that sometimes."

Tam

Sczarni

I play a lot of arcane casters. Playing a 17th level Evoker in 3.5 I can tell you they are fine. Playing an enchanter is a bit different, however.

I can tell you that when most creatures at higher levels are resistant or immune to most, if not all of your schools spells. You stop becoming an enchanter and become a less effective generalist in a lot of situations.

The "save or die" aspects of enchantment/charm are nice but if resistant or immune that just makes them that more ineffective at high levels. I think enchantment/charm if any school needs an overhaul.


hogarth wrote:
Having said that, there's one suggestion that I liked: allow energy spells to ignore spell resistance. A fireball already has to worry about Ref saves and fire resistance; why compound that with spell resistance? And why should a fireball be easier to ignore than a big bonfire anyhow?

That right there is an incredibly good idea. I really like it. I'm putting this one to the group for voting in as a houserule.


DM_Blake wrote:
hogarth wrote:
Having said that, there's one suggestion that I liked: allow energy spells to ignore spell resistance. A fireball already has to worry about Ref saves and fire resistance; why compound that with spell resistance? And why should a fireball be easier to ignore than a big bonfire anyhow?
That right there is an incredibly good idea. I really like it. I'm putting this one to the group for voting in as a houserule.

My vote goes for bypassing spell resistance as well.

'findel

[Edit] Perhaps implement Highten Spells feat to bust the max damage caps as well?


One has to ask....why would you want to play a blaster in the first place? Talk about a blinkered view of Arcane magic!

As for the OP's question, d8's would seem a logical step but a better option would be to look at the other schools of magic!

I too moved the Orb spells from SC into Evocation, but as a rule now PF is born, those cheesey 3.5 splat books are sooo not an option in my games, at least not without some careful nerfing.

EDIT: Spell resistance is a part of CR system, removing it would be ill advised imo.


I've generally looked at this from the opposite end. The problem is the continual upwards creep of hit points not that evocation spells have gotten weaker.

In Pathfinder a few classes now average 1 more hit point per level (the classes that got the HD bump-which I ignore).

In previous editions characters stopped getting full HD at a particular level (usually around 10th) and instead got a flat 1-3hp per level and did not even get a Con bonus at that point. Now all classes continue getting full HD every level, all the way up, AND continue getting their Con bonus at every level.

In previous editions a Con bonus to HP was harder to get. If I recall correctly only fighters gained any benefit from a Con over 16 and you didn't even get a bonus until like 14 or 15 Con instead of 12 now.

Add to that any house rules that may allow for more hp still (rerolling 1's, burning action points for rerolls etc) and you get more.

In previous editions Fireball did 1d6 per caster level, maximum 10d6. Guess what? It's still the same. So in effect its a weaker spell now.

You can address this by making all damage dealing evocation spells deal more damage, or, you can tackle it from the other direction, reducing hit points.

I know everyone will freak. Taking something away from player's is sacrilege. But people also complain that fights take too long. This would address that too. I mean really, what are hit points other than a fight egg-clock? Just wind everyone (players and monsters) down a little bit and you may undo what the sands of time hath wrought.

How could this be addressed? Any or all of the following could work:

1) drop the HD increase in PF
2) have all classes get a flat amount of hp after 10th level
3) make sure you don't use any house rules that artificially inflate hp
4) don't use max hp at first level OR any other mechanism that gives more hp at first level

Just my two cents. Probably controversial but oh well :)


Not particularly controversial, though I feel it's probably not particularly apt, but I'm curious as to how long your fights take.


stuart haffenden wrote:

One has to ask....why would you want to play a blaster in the first place? Talk about a blinkered view of Arcane magic!

As for the OP's question, d8's would seem a logical step but a better option would be to look at the other schools of magic!

Now see, this answer doesn't satisfy me at all.

I go buy a big book full of gaming material, and as soon as I get it home I might as well whip out my Sharpie and start crossing off the useless stuff.

No need for Skill A or Class B or Feat C or Spell D, etc., because they're "blinkered". (what exactly does blinkered mean anyway? I don't think we use that on my side of the pond)

I'm not trying to pick on you here.

It's just that what you say is fairly true. Why would anyone want to play a blaster when this option is so underpowered that it is greatly ineffective compared to other arcane options?

That's a big big flaw. Huge. Whole sections of the rulebook are devoted to blaser-type spells (Fireball et. al.), class options (evoker), feats (Maximize and Empower top the list), magic items (Necklace of Fireballs for example), and all the rules to make this stuff work (burst rules, Evasion, etc.).

I hate the thought that all these sections of the rulebook are devoted to a suicidally suboptimal character concept.

Of course, maybe Evocation isn't as bad as some people think. Maybe being a blaster is a viable option after all. Evidently, opinions vary. But I think most of us believe that being an evoker is usually a weak choice for an arcane caster.

stuart haffenden wrote:
I too moved the Orb spells from SC into Evocation, but as a rule now PF is born, those cheesey 3.5 splat books are sooo not an option in my games, at least not without some careful nerfing.

That's too bad. Paizo wanted Pathfinder to be backward-compatible so we can all use our shelves full of 3.5 books.

stuart haffenden wrote:
EDIT: Spell resistance is a part of CR system, removing it would be ill advised imo.

I'm not sure anyone suggested removing spell resistance entirely. I would wholeheartedly agree with you that this is a bad idea.

I can see a great argument that having energy resistance and spell resistance is redundant, and unneccessarily punitive to evokers.

As a supporting argument, if someone uses magic to conjure up a ball of fire, then throws it on you to burn you up, the only thing that is hitting you is the fire. Magic is not hitting you at this point. So fire resistance might save you, but why would spell resistance help you at all?

Given those two arguments, I can support an idea any spell that simply creates a form of ordinary energy (fire, cold, electricity, acid, sonic) applies against the target's applicable energy resistance and spell resistance doens't apply.

That might go a long way toward welcoming evokers back into the ranks of cherished adventuring archtypes.


DocRoc wrote:
Not particularly controversial, though I feel it's probably not particularly apt, but I'm curious as to how long your fights take.

Well that there is an interesting subject. In truth I have not implemented any of the above suggestions other than ignoring the newly increased Pathfinder HD. I would like to implement one or more of the other ideas but I think my player's would revolt on me.

One of the reasons I'd like to implement one or more of these ideas is that right now fights take at least 2, sometimes 3 hours in my sessions. We are all extremely advanced and experienced players and DM's so its not a matter of not knowing the rules. We take advantage of combat organizing tricks such as a dry erase initiative board and monster counters to keep track of which monster is which etc. I always pregen my encounters and pre-plan their tactics, but with 5 players and the campaign being 15th level, we have just resolved ourselves to everything taking time.

A fight in my last session took from about 8pm-2am. That's one fight. It was one high level Wizardress NPC with a wand of summoning undead (Spell Compendium) and Superior Invisibilty (oh and a staff of power the PC's were trying to get). The fight really took that long. There wasn't even much tangent stuff. The players were generally focused on the fight the entire time.

And then people complain they only get 1-2 fights in per session but complain when you want to do a HP roll-back.


DM_Blake wrote:
As a supporting argument, if someone uses magic to conjure up a ball of fire, then throws it on you to burn you up, the only thing that is hitting you is the fire. Magic is not hitting you at this point. So fire resistance might save you, but why would spell resistance help you at all?

Well, not trying to pick nits here or anything, but, you could just as easily say that its not even "real" fire but a magical plasma that looks like fire. Hence, SR applies. Not that I care one way or another, and probably could go along with SR not applying, but I think its probably a messy solution. What about spells that do damage AND some other effect? Does SR apply to the other effect? Again, it just seems easier to, across the board, drop everyone's hps. It affects everyone, and you don't need to go through every spell in the book or change other mechanics. Just say that people stop getting full HD at 10th level. For 90% of the campaigns (estimate obviously) that won't even have an impact as most campaigns die before 10th level. For lower level campaigns just get rid of the max hp at 1st level, ignore the increased HD from Pathfinder, and make sure you are not using any house rules that cause hp inflation.


I'm very fond of evokers, though not for the usual reasons, and my builds might not be what most people like. I like doing interesting things, and evocation has a good number of fun spells. Not as many as I'd like, but many of the school-melding fixes suggested work lovely. Damage is just not fun for me, but evocation does have more to offer than just direct damage.

But I'm going to be blunt:
There are no good quick simple solutions to a problem like this that runs to the core of a game's entire design philosophy. Spells like web and glitterdust were made very powerful because the designers felt that people would use them rarely because hit point damage is cool.

Bad design is bad design. There's a reason I'm waiting, impatiently, for PF final to drop.

Liberty's Edge

Only one point of order: in 1e, fireball and lightning bolt (and some others) had no cap. 18th level magic users were dropping 18 die fireballs.

2e brought in all the "nerfing" spells crap...

Sorry, liked some of the campaign settings for 2e, thought the rules sucked...


jreyst wrote:
Again, it just seems easier to, across the board, drop everyone's hps. It affects everyone, and you don't need to go through every spell in the book or change other mechanics. Just say that people stop getting full HD at 10th level.

If you're reducing PCs' hit points to AD&D levels, you'd also need to reduce monster attack damage to AD&D levels (e.g. a frost giant does 3-18 damage once a round, not 16-31 twice a round). At that point, you might as well be playing AD&D, IMO.


houstonderek wrote:

Only one point of order: in 1e, fireball and lightning bolt (and some others) had no cap. 18th level magic users were dropping 18 die fireballs.

2e brought in all the "nerfing" spells crap...

Sorry, liked some of the campaign settings for 2e, thought the rules sucked...

IME casters favoring evocation seem fine in the level 5 - 10 range; then they seem to start tapering off. I'm not sure this is related to the 10d6 cap, but it did always strike me as an odd artificial limit.


hogarth wrote:
jreyst wrote:
Again, it just seems easier to, across the board, drop everyone's hps. It affects everyone, and you don't need to go through every spell in the book or change other mechanics. Just say that people stop getting full HD at 10th level.
If you're reducing PCs' hit points to AD&D levels, you'd also need to reduce monster attack damage to AD&D levels (e.g. a frost giant does 3-18 damage once a round, not 16-31 twice a round). At that point, you might as well be playing AD&D, IMO.

I think this hits the nail right on the head.

It's not just the PCs that have more HP.

Some analysis, contains math:

Spoiler:

In Old-school D&D a 20th level wizard could kill the largest, most powerful red dragon wtih two average lightning bolts even if the dragon saved against one of them (assuming the dragon failed his magic resistance rolls). That damage would add up to 105 HP, more than enough to kill that ultimate red dragon, IIRC.

Try that on a Colossal Great Wyrm 3.5 version and he's barely tickled, taking 52 HP damage and still having over 600 HP left. In fact, assuming the dragon never makes any spell resistance rolls and saves against 50% of the lightningbolts, it would take a level 20 wizard in 3.5e a full 24 Lightning Bolts to kill a Colossal Great Wyrm red dragon.

24 vs. 2 - that's quite a huge difference on the monster's end. In fact, I'm betting the difference on the player's end is less.

A 20th level 1e fighter would have 11d10 + 9x3 HP, plus 11 levels of CON bonus. Assume an 18 CON because it took forever to earn 20 levels in 1e, so he had time for a few Wishes, or a Manual of Bodily Health, or whatever, to get him there, so that's 44 more HP. With average rolls of 6 that fighter might have 66 + 27 + 44 HP, for a total of 137 HP.

A 20th level 3.5e fighter would have 20d10 + 20 levels of CON bonus, and can probably get a 24 CON easily enough in most campaigns, so that's 7 bonus HP per level. 10 HP at first level + 19x6 + 20x7 = 10 + 114 + 140 = 264 HP.

Now have our 20th level arch-villain wizard throwing averageLightning Bolts at the 1e fighter, that's 70 HP or 35 on a successful save. Two failed saves kill the 20th level 1e fighter, and he's dead in four Lightning Bolts even if he makes all his saves. Assuming he saves like the dragon (50%), two successful saves and one failed is death. 3 spells.

Now 3.5e wizard is throwing 35 HP Lightning Bolts, save for half, means it takes 11 spells to kill him (6 saves for 17 HP = 102 HP and 5 fails for 35 HP = 175 HP, total 277 HP damage.

11 vs. 3.

Summary:
1e Wizard level 20 vs. the ultimate biggest red dragon in the 1e MM needs 2 Lightning Bolts to kill the dragon but the 3.5e Wizard needs 24 Lightning Bolts to kill a 3.5e Colossal Great Wyrm red dragon.

1e Wizard level 20 vs. 1e Fighter level 20 needs 3 Lightning Bolts to kill the fighter but the 3.5e Wizard needs 11 Lightning Bolts.

Vs. the dragon, 3.5e got 12x harder.
Vs. the fighter, 3.5e got 4x harder (well, almost, but not quite).

I would say that the mosters got the better end of HP inflation in this case. More than 3x the ratio.

So nerfing player HP to balance the evocation spells only helps the BBEGs - the player Evoker is just as hosed against monsters as he is in RAW 3.5 or Pathfinder, but now he's more fragile.


I don't think uncapping the dice would do much for the direct damage caster. Any non-caster who can't beat their character level x 3.5 (d6 average) damage per round just isn't trying.

My DM didn't think I could possibly be correct about that, so using PfRPG beta rules he built a caster that had the best level to d6 ratio he could come up with (Wizard 11, Casting a Quickened Scorching Ray and using the Universalist school ability to Maximize a second Scorching Ray for 12d6 + 72 - assuming all rays hit and bypass SR for an equivalent of slightly more than 32d6 worth of average damage).

The Wizard could put out 114 damage in a round one time each day. That doesn't even compare to what a level 11 Bard can do in this rules system let alone what a Devastating Blow spec'd Fighter can pull off and really not on par with what that level 6 spell slot otherwise might have been able to accomplish.

Sczarni

I think that it is being forgotten that there are ways to modify damage with feats (IE: Empower & Maximize) and to get more spells (IE: quicken) in a given round.

Removing caps would make some evocation spells at higher levels obsolete, like polar ray. It would also make some spells not level dependant like ice storm inferior to lower level spells like fireball at higher levels.


Don't forget that AoE evocations tend to discourage enemies from clumping, up etc., giving them some utility beyond raw damage ("control" in 4E-speak).


Spiffy Jim wrote:
I think that it is being forgotten that there are ways to modify damage with feats (IE: Empower & Maximize) and to get more spells (IE: quicken) in a given round.

Empower and maximize are well and good, but why maximize a lightning bolt when I could through disintegrate for a level 6 slot?

Spiffy Jim wrote:

Removing caps would make some evocation spells at higher levels obsolete, like polar ray. It would also make some spells not level dependant like ice storm inferior to lower level spells like fireball at higher levels.

valid point


Bitter Thorn wrote:
Spiffy Jim wrote:
I think that it is being forgotten that there are ways to modify damage with feats (IE: Empower & Maximize) and to get more spells (IE: quicken) in a given round.
Empower and maximize are well and good, but why maximize a lightning bolt when I could through disintegrate for a level 6 slot?

Link: I couldn't have said it better myself. :)

Sczarni

Bitter Thorn wrote:


Empower and maximize are well and good, but why maximize a lightning bolt when I could through disintegrate for a level 6 slot?

2 reasons:

1)Area effect vrs ray

2)Reflex save vrs Fort save


DM_Blake wrote:
stuart haffenden wrote:

No need for Skill A or Class B or Feat C or Spell D, etc., because they're "blinkered". (what exactly does blinkered mean anyway? I don't think we use that on my side of the pond)

I'm not trying to pick on you here.

It's just that what you say is fairly true. Why would anyone want to play a blaster when this option is so underpowered that it is greatly ineffective compared to other arcane options?

Blinkered

Just as you said, it's hard for me to understand why, when given the huge array of possibilities that Arcane magic grants, one would choose Evocation.
Some people just can't see passed Fireball and Scorching Ray, which imo is a shame.

I didn't/don't consider any of your comments as "picking"

peace


As I said Argothe, it is a topic all onto itself.

A lot of ground has already been covered here. I'd like to touch on a few points made.

Evocation and spells that effect HP in general have had their effectiveness reduced by hit point inflation. Rolling back hit die increase in PF are are however a reactionary response. Many (myself included) considered low level characters too fragile prior to adjustments made in PF.

As for Capping HD, do you mean cap characters at 10 Hit Dice, or classes to 10 levels of HD? The difference being, 10 HD total vs 10 HD per class.

I've looked along these lines myself and have not come up with a workable answer. Either one becomes problematic due to 3.x/PF multi-classing and prestige classes. The basic problem being summed up as 'dipping for hit points'.

As for removing the damage dice caps on spells, it has already been mentioned that this would obsolete a number of higher level spells. The caps exist only to differentiate spells of various levels that do the same thing (because new spells sell books). The obvious option if the caps were removed would be to change these higher level spells to either more or bigger dice. Would that be good, bad, or too much trouble?

With regard to unstacking the double defense of energy resistance and spell resistance, this really comes down to the question "is magical fire magic or fire?".

I admit I don't have much in the way of answers here. Hopefully we can get the right questions that will result in useful answers.

And for those not familiar with the term:
Blinkered generally refers limited field of view (Tunnel Vision).


DM_Blake wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Spiffy Jim wrote:
I think that it is being forgotten that there are ways to modify damage with feats (IE: Empower & Maximize) and to get more spells (IE: quicken) in a given round.
Empower and maximize are well and good, but why maximize a lightning bolt when I could through disintegrate for a level 6 slot?
Link: I couldn't have said it better myself. :)

Shameless plug.


Freesword wrote:
Rolling back hit die increase in PF are are however a reactionary response. Many (myself included) considered low level characters too fragile prior to adjustments made in PF.

Well in my experience, I have rarely seen a PC die below 9th level. They typically begin dying at 9th level plus, sort of when the DM stops playing with kid gloves, assuming the pc's can handle whatever you throw at them. Up until then the DM (I) try to be very very careful in encounter design. After the characters have survived that long then I start upping the CR's of the encounters and see what the player's have got. Like I said, deaths have been very rare, even moreso at low levels. I think maxing hp at 1st level and increasing the hit die for a couple classes doesn't add really anything and in ways takes away. It further adds to the hp creep and unnecessarily lengthens low level combats.

Freesword wrote:
As for Capping HD, do you mean cap characters at 10 Hit Dice, or classes to 10 levels of HD? The difference being, 10 HD total vs 10 HD per class.

Well the initial thought was everyone stops getting full hit dice after character level 10 and instead gets a flat amount. If you want to be generous allow Con bonus at each level. I fully admit that this is right off the top of my head, but if the DM is careful (see E6 encounter design theory) then it could be interesting.

Freesword wrote:
I've looked along these lines myself and have not come up with a workable answer. Either one becomes problematic due to 3.x/PF multi-classing and prestige classes. The basic problem being summed up as 'dipping for hit points'.

Yeah. I know. But if you just say, "Once you hit 10th level, no matter what class you take thereafter, you get X hit points." Hell, make it their Con modifier at each level. Or, even crazier, just say that everyone gets 1d4 per level after 10th, no matter their class. I know its crazy lol

Freesword wrote:
As for removing the damage dice caps on spells, it has already been mentioned that this would obsolete a number of higher level spells. The caps exist only to differentiate spells of various levels that do the same thing (because new spells sell books). The obvious option if the caps were removed would be to change these higher level spells to either more or bigger dice. Would that be good, bad, or too much trouble?

Another thought I had, which I think I want to use in my next campaign, is to give energy spells secondary effects. Fire and acid burn until extinguished, doing progressively less damage, cold causes slow condition, sonic causes deafness or additional structural damage, electricity can stun... that sort of thing. Make the difference between lightning bolt and fireball more than just ones a line and the other a sphere.

Freesword wrote:
With regard to unstacking the double defense of energy resistance and spell resistance, this really comes down to the question "is magical fire magic or fire?".

I doubt Paizo would ever answer that, preferring to leave it to each DM to decide how he likes it. As it is now though, it appears to be magical, considering SR applies.

Freesword wrote:
I admit I don't have much in the way of answers here. Hopefully we can get the right questions that will result in useful answers.

Yeah, I'm pretty much just making up random stuff as I'm typing with no real research or anything. Just some top of my head thoughts.

Freesword wrote:

And for those not familiar with the term:

Blinkered generally refers limited field of view (Tunnel Vision).

Thanks for the definition :)


Bitter Thorn wrote:
Empower and maximize are well and good, but why maximize a lightning bolt when I could through disintegrate for a level 6 slot?

... have I mentioned how much I love BoXM? =P


Argothe wrote:
DM_Blake wrote:
Bitter Thorn wrote:
Spiffy Jim wrote:
I think that it is being forgotten that there are ways to modify damage with feats (IE: Empower & Maximize) and to get more spells (IE: quicken) in a given round.
Empower and maximize are well and good, but why maximize a lightning bolt when I could through disintegrate for a level 6 slot?
Link: I couldn't have said it better myself. :)
Shameless plug.

If the interwebs has taught me only one thing, it's that there is no such thing as e-shame...

Scarab Sages

There are certainly some awesome ideas here that I will have to explore further.

How about this then? How would you design the perfect 3 person gestalt party?

Would it look something like this?

Monk/Cleric
Rogue/Ranger
Sorcerer or Wizard/Fighter

Thanks for your advice so far.

Tam

Scarab Sages

hogarth wrote:


Having said that, there's one suggestion that I liked: allow energy spells to ignore spell resistance. A fireball already has to worry about Ref saves and fire resistance; why compound that with spell resistance? And why should a fireball be easier to ignore than a big bonfire anyhow?

Maybe let your players benefit from one or the other, SR or Reflex save, their choice.

Tam

Liberty's Edge

DM_Blake wrote:
stuff

Thanks for doing the math on that.

Which is why I do think Evocation spells that traditionally had no cap should be uncapped again. Monsters have WAY more hit points these days, and more than a few evocation spells really do just help ease the mosquito bites.

I also like Hogarth's observation about fireball. After the bead goes "pop", it's just fire. Insert any other energy effect there too. I also think I'll be making that house rule change. (I already still have bouncing lightning bolts, volume fireballs and uncapped damage...).

Liberty's Edge

Tambryn wrote:
hogarth wrote:


Having said that, there's one suggestion that I liked: allow energy spells to ignore spell resistance. A fireball already has to worry about Ref saves and fire resistance; why compound that with spell resistance? And why should a fireball be easier to ignore than a big bonfire anyhow?

Maybe let your players benefit from one or the other, SR or Reflex save, their choice.

Tam

Hmmm, that wouldn't be a bad compromise either.

Food for thought...


How do we fix evocation? Well, here are a few ideas:

Why not allow evocation spells to be more flexible in the damage type they deal? Instead of Acid Arrow, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, and Cone of Cold, why not have arrow, ball, bolt and cone spells that can be of any energy type? You could leave the decision of what energy type open to the caster when the spell is cast, or when it is prepared, or you could treat each "flavor" as a seperate spell for the purposes of "known" spells, even though the only difference is the energy type.

Spell penetration is alright I suppose, but it still doesn't make beating a target's SR a sure thing. Perhaps something a little weightier, like adding your spellcasting key ability modifier to your caster check to overcome SR would make things a bit more certain. Of course, this could get out of hand, so perhaps a 3/day limitation on this would work.

Lastly, why not have a whole plethora of feats that let you add additional effects to evocation spells, like forcing a second save to resist a thematically linked status condition, like dazed, stunned, nauseated, etc.?

Of course, none of the above are new ideas. In fact, with the exception of treating each energy type of a spell as seperate for the purposes of spells known, which is a houserule of my own, this is how evocation magic is handled in Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved. I played a Magister (the AE equivalent of a wizard) through the entirety of the Shackled City Adventure Path, and I can tell you that even the nastiest demodands, demons, and dragons were reliably damaged by my evocations.
I have also DMed this variant magic system for six years now, and found that sorcerous blast, even the vanilla fire version, is not to be taken lightly by even the most SR-and-resistance heavy beasties.

I don't bring this up to try and convert people to my game of choice, but rather to point out how AE's solutions to these problems could be D&D's, or Pathfinder's, with some simple houserules. Run the numbers on the "spell penetration" idea. See how letting a wizard cast "Acid Ball" or "Sonic Bolt" might put the fear of god into some monsters. Yes, it's a departure from D&D norm, and yes, it is more powerful, but isn't that exactly what evocation needs?

-C. Robert Brown

Scarab Sages

That post about 5 above this one about the gestalt characters is what I get for posting to threads at the same time in two different tabs of the same window. Please ignore it. Or if you can't bring yourself to ignore it there is another thread titled "Good Gestalt Characters" in this same forum.

Tam


jreyst wrote:

But people also complain that fights take too long.

lolwut.

jreyst wrote:


Just my two cents. Probably controversial but oh well :)

Not controversial so much as incredibly annoying. Do you do this to monsters too? Because if not, those are some fragile PCs. Even if you do, that's just a fragile game all around. Of course if it suits your players it doesn't really matter what anyone else thinks.

In my experience, when I sit down at a new table and someone wants to tell me their sixty houserules that gimp up my character, I start thinking of a good excuse to leave. Or I throw an ashtray at their head, depends on my blood sugar.


'S a lil extreme, in my mind, but there are some houserules, like that one, that might make me start to get uncomfortable. I think I'd only really have a problem with it after my third dead character, which might come up immediately, or never, depending on how he runs his games. :|

My issue with that is that, again, you'd need to reduce damage from melee across the board, taking away their one remaining joy unless you use ToB. :S


DocRoc wrote:
I think I'd only really have a problem with it after my third dead character, which might come up immediately, or never, depending on how he runs his games. :|

Let's see...

I've been running my current campaign since around 2004 and the pc's are now 15th level.

One PC died back when the group was around 3-4th level but that was because the player no longer wanted to play that character and so we decided to build his departure into the story ("Legion").

Another PC ("Skull") died when the characters were around 7-8th level. He died fighting a bulette. The bulette dropped him (unconscious) but the next round the cleric healed him barely standing. The PC stood up and continued attacking the bulette. Needless to say the next attack from the bulette killed him.

The latest PC death is relatively current. The group is 15th level now. The rogue bit it after falling into a particularly nasty grimtooth style trap. The trap started in a 3' x 3' crawlspace tunnel. After someone passes a midway point the whole passage tilts, forming a sharp angle ramp, dumping the contents down into another chamber. He avoided that by being tied to a rope. He purposely climbed down the rope into the dump-room (part two of a basically three part trap) but triggered a fireball. He easily saved vs. the fireball but I ruled that the rope he was holding turned to ash (I know, DM fiat), dropping him to the floor. Once he hit the floor the floor opened up (the entire floor was a trapdoor) and dumped him down a 90' shaft into another chamber. The vertical shaft had a permanent silence spell on it so the other PC's (who were standing outside of the crawlspace holding the now limp rope) did not hear him shouting that he was falling. After he hit bottom he found himself in a 20' diameter spherical shaped chamber with liquid on the floor about knee-deep. The chamber was also under the effects of a permanent antimagic field. Oh, and there were two gray oozes in the water. He fell right on top of one of the oozes and then proceeded to run around the chamber trying to avoid them. He couldn't use magic to get out and he kept failing his climb checks. Eventually another PC jumped down in after him but by this time it was too late, the oozes had killed him.

The pc has subsequently been raised mind you :)

Now mind you, all of the above happened WITHOUT me enacting any of the (admittedly random) house rules I was spewing off the top of my head. I fully admit that perhaps some of them would be problematic. I was not suggesting they were perfect, merely that it seems that the cause of the weakening of evocation spells is mostly because everyone and everything has more hit points now. If you scaled them back down then evocation would become more effective again. I accept that some of the changes would be too drastic so in my next campaign (or in my August PF Final reboot of this current campaign) I am going to use SOME of my ideas, specifically removing 1st level max hp, continuing to ignore increased HD sizes, and making sure not to use any house rules that inflate HP. This is probably the least disruptive way to scale back HP without altering the very fabric of the universe lol

Sczarni

My 17th level wizard had the potential to do 100d6 damage to an area, and an -additional- 12d6x 1.5 to one target within that area,in ONE ROUND. I could chose my element including sonic and my DC was in the neighborhood of 30, as I recall. I auto-popped SR32.

All with 3.5 rules out of the PHB and complete arcane.

Evokers are okay for damage.


Tambryn wrote:

There are certainly some awesome ideas here that I will have to explore further.

How about this then? How would you design the perfect 3 person gestalt party?

Would it look something like this?

Monk/Cleric
Rogue/Ranger
Sorcerer or Wizard/Fighter

Thanks for your advice so far.

Tam

Me, I would switch them a bit like this:

Monk/Sorcerer or Wizard
Rogue/Ranger
Cleric/Fighter

This way the first guy doesn't need armor, and the last guy is in full plate. The way you had it your fighter would have to rely on bracers of armor and would never have a good AC, or would risk spell failure on all his spells.

Though I think you might have posted this in the wrong thread.

Edit: Ah, I see by your other post that you did.


Tambryn wrote:
hogarth wrote:


Having said that, there's one suggestion that I liked: allow energy spells to ignore spell resistance. A fireball already has to worry about Ref saves and fire resistance; why compound that with spell resistance? And why should a fireball be easier to ignore than a big bonfire anyhow?

Maybe let your players benefit from one or the other, SR or Reflex save, their choice.

Tam

I could see a good argument for this. Creatures that have high SR learn to rely on that. They see a fireball headed their way and they ignore it, take it right on the chin, because it won't hurt them so there is no reason to dive for cover.

But, that might also only be true for creatures who are certain of their immunity, which is never the case with SR in D&D.

No matter how high your SR is, there's always the chance of a spell getting through and cooking you right good, so I think even creatures with good SR still jump out of the way of fireballs.

Besides, if we do it for one, we should do it for all. Fort and Will saves should get the same treatment, or the system mechanics start to get awkward.

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