Magic System [Homebrew]


Homebrew and House Rules


- The system of magical spell castings per day has been replaced by a point system, which we will call "mana" for simplicity sake.
- Spell cost is based on the spell level (e.g. 3 mana for a 3rd level spell).
- Mana per level is determined by working out what the character would be able to cast and then converting it into a total number to form your mana pool.
- Bonus spells (e.g. cleric domain, wizard specialization) are added to the mana pool as normal.
- The caster is able to cast spells in any combination of their memorized spells without restriction (20 level 1 spells, 4 level 5 spells, et cetera).
- Cantrips are prepared as per the core rules and cast without a mana cost.
- All mana used returns in the same manner as the core rules.
- The use of metamagic feats increase the mana cost without the requirement of being able to cast spells of a much higher spell slot (e.g. a quickened Magic Missile will cost 5 mana, rather than the normal 1 mana, and will take up its normal spell slot rather than being required to use a spell slot 4 higher than it normally is).
- Multiclass characters have two distinct mana pools.

Thoughts?
Suggestions?


Wizards beat you to the punch. They produced a spell points system in Unearthed Arcana.

And I beleive it works a lot like what you are proposing. I think you can look it up on the 3.5 SRD.


Tal_Akaan wrote:
Wizards beat you to the punch. They produced a spell points system in Unearthed Arcana.

I appreciate the quick reply.

The Unearthed Arcana "Spell Points" Rules, on page 153, was definitely a cornerstone of this homebrew. The intent was to eliminate some of the issues that made seem unnecessarily cumbersome, and expand upon the idea further to make metamagic feats more accessible.

A system with an inconsistent progression of both spell points per day and bonus spell points forces you to keep referring to their chart as you level, which is unwieldy in my humble opinion.

One of the best aspects of this system is that it is simple to track for both the players and the DM. You stop having to track the use of 20+ spell slots (for a wizard) and instead just pay attention to a single number.


Do wizards now become like sorcerers, or will the wizard still need to prep spells at the beginning of the day?

This program, while simple, makes spellcasters way more versitile and way more powerful.

There was a thread on this very subject not long ago . . . .

I actually prefer a similar system, put forward by Green Ronin in their TrueSorcery supplement, that calls for fatigue checks when spells are cast in rapid succession. Helps keep the wizards from going all bazooka on everyone while maintaining the versitility and point system you are seeking.


How are spells memorised? Can a wizard memorise X spells per day and only cast from that choice, or can they cast any spell that they know without any form of prior preparation (thus rendering sorcerers completely obsolete)?

Regardless of which it is, this does make spellcasters vastly more powerful than non-spellcasters, and if there are one or two casters in your party then all players are verging on being forced to play spellcasters to remain viable.


I appreciate you taking the time to post.

Doug's Workshop wrote:
Do wizards now become like sorcerers, or will the wizard still need to prep spells at the beginning of the day?

Wizards pick their spells at the beginning of the day like normal.

The only difference would be that they would never be required to memorize multiple copies of a spell, since they can cast any spell they have prepared multiple times by using mana.

Doug's Workshop wrote:
There was a thread on this very subject not long ago . . . .

I did a few searches, but the site moves like nigh frozen molasses up a cliff, and failed to come up with any other homebrew magic systems.

Would you have a link handy for the other threads?

Doug's Workshop wrote:
I actually prefer a similar system, put forward by Green Ronin in their TrueSorcery supplement, that calls for fatigue checks when spells are cast in rapid succession. Helps keep the wizards from going all bazooka on everyone while maintaining the versitility and point system you are seeking.

I absolutely love this idea!

I roleplay out that spell hurlers are too tired to focus on casting anymore anyway.

I will look into this further for sure.


Thank you for your post : )

Alratan wrote:
How are spells memorised? Can a wizard memorise X spells per day and only cast from that choice, or can they cast any spell that they know without any form of prior preparation (thus rendering sorcerers completely obsolete)?

The former is true, wizards are restricted to their choices of spells per day.

Alratan wrote:
Regardless of which it is, this does make spellcasters vastly more powerful than non-spellcasters, and if there are one or two casters in your party then all players are verging on being forced to play spellcasters to remain viable.

My game is more roleplaying focused, due to it being PBeM/PBP, and the play test of this has shown very little difference in the game from a power perspective, if we are talking about raw damage done/healed. Where we see the major benefits are from a versatility perspective (being able to give the group spider climb, or identify all 5 items plundered from the dragon hoard).

I do understand the worry it creates for a power shift towards spell casters and am wide open to suggestions that would bring the power back to into balance.

Ideas like fatigue checks are perfect for me.


Xenh wrote:

Would you have a link handy for the other threads?

here

I'll see if I can find a link to the true sorcery stuff.


Doug's Workshop wrote:
here

The title of that thread certainly hates search finding it : )

Doug's Workshop wrote:
I'll see if I can find a link to the true sorcery stuff.

I appreciate it, thanks.


I feel that the "power" of spellcasters is connected greatly to playing style. As a DM I like to give everyone their time in the sun, so if I feel like the spotlight has been on one group too long (they're starting to get a tan), I will endeavour to alter things to give others time to shine.

One of the greatest restrictions to spell casters in my eyes is in blowing their proverbial wad, they will attract attention in my game. Attention is not a good thing when you wander into battle wearing something akin to a bridal gown for it protective qualities. These are generally the sickly kids that no one would let play reindeer games, so they tend to collapse under a severe beating without much more than a pathetic whimper.

There is also the strategic disadvantage to identifying yourself too early as the spell caster. Intelligent foes will target such key players, and wear their heads as jaunty summer hats.

On this note, I generally only let people play casters that are reasonable to chat with and accepting of DM calls. Rule's lawyers and people that are just looking to exploit the game for their own purposes find themselves quickly back in character gen. The goal is for everyone to have fun, and not look for ways to take advantage of an "I WIN" button.


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Here's the sorcery pdf I mentioned.

Okay, so it wasn't True Sorcery. My bad.

And it requires a bit of conversion back to d20. Sorry, I thought there was something more turnkey-oriented.

Also, the fatigue system isn't detailed. Basically, when a spellcaster casts more than one spell in an hour, he has to make a fatigue check, which is basically a Willpower save at DC (10+ 1/2 spellcaster level), with the difficulty increasing by 1 for each spell cast after the first (within one hour).

True20 also uses 3 categories of fatigue, while d20 had only two. In order, they equate to Fatigued, (unknown but with a -4 penalty), and Exhausted (a further failed save means unconsciousness).

This means that your 10th level wizard could have nothing but magic missile spells, but round after round means by round 5, he's gonna need to meet or beat a DC 19 willpower save.

Also note that in True 20, there aren't magical items like in your normal d20 game.

Sorry, I thought this would be more helpful.


I've always wanted to make a variant caster class based on the Call of Cthulu d20 magic system, probably converting the sanity cost to hp damage, and the class giving resistance to ability drain and downgrading damage to nonlethal as it levels up. Would have to make damage prohibitive but not quite impossible with insufficient caster levels.
Alas, I'm too lazy. With the pooled level system, it does give casters more top level spells per day, or nigh endless low levels, which can shift balances further caster in unexpected ways. However, it's pretty much the DDO version, and plenty of people like that game.


Doug's Workshop wrote:
Here's the sorcery pdf I mentioned.

I appreciate the link.

Thanks.

I am going to have to really consider a way to slow down casters without adding a great deal of extra work to everyone's plate.

I like the idea of getting fatigued as you move through your mana pool and have it be tied into your constitution score somehow (scaling up as you level, perhaps constitution score + level).

Simplistic, but restrictive without being unwieldy...hmmm.

That way they don't fall back on magic for everything and become a bit more stingy with their spells. Being tired afterward means that they'll lean on the other members of the group harder, which again gives those characters a chance to shine.

My goal is not to have my sorcerer using a crossbow. It is just to stop him from wandering back to the group after killing the demigod solo.


Thank you for taking the time to post Christopher.

Christopher Vrysen wrote:

I've always wanted to make a variant caster class based on the Call of Cthulu d20 magic system, probably converting the sanity cost to hp damage, and the class giving resistance to ability drain and downgrading damage to nonlethal as it levels up. Would have to make damage prohibitive but not quite impossible with insufficient caster levels.

Alas, I'm too lazy. With the pooled level system, it does give casters more top level spells per day, or nigh endless low levels, which can shift balances further caster in unexpected ways. However, it's pretty much the DDO version, and plenty of people like that game.

If you have some links (I haven't played Call of Cthulu), and you think it would be viable, I would love to help out in any way possible.

Even if it is not a perfect solution, perhaps it would give some ideas.


I believe the thread that was around not too long ago was mine.

Anyway, try using this.

http://dungeons.wikia.com/wiki/Mana-Based_Spellcasting_%283.5e_Variant_Rule %29


Fatigue Rules

At 50% mana you are fatigued.

A fatigued character can neither run nor charge and takes a –2 penalty to Strength and Dexterity. Doing anything that would normally cause fatigue causes the fatigued character to become exhausted. After 8 hours of complete rest, fatigued characters are no longer fatigued.

At 25% mana you are exhausted.

An exhausted character moves at half speed, cannot run or charge, and takes a –6 penalty to Strength and Dexterity. After 1 hour of complete rest, an exhausted character becomes fatigued. A fatigued character becomes exhausted by doing something else that would normally cause fatigue.

At 0% mana you are disabled.

A disabled character may take a single move action or standard action each round (but not both, nor can he take full-round actions, but he can still take swift, immediate, and free actions). He moves at half speed. Taking move actions doesn't risk further injury, but performing any standard action (or any other action the GM deems strenuous, including some free actions such as casting a Quicken Spell spell) deals 1 point of damage after the completion of the act. Unless the action increased the disabled character's hit points, he is now in negative hit points and dying.


I once tried a system like yours, but I found that at high levels, wizards could pump out machine gun magic missiles.

I switched to my current system of "no memorization required".

I allow the same spells per day but the caster can throw anything they know, rather than having to decide at the start of the day.

It works well, and allows greater versatility.


Xenh wrote:

- The system of magical spell castings per day has been replaced by a point system, which we will call "mana" for simplicity sake.

- Spell cost is based on the spell level (e.g. 3 mana for a 3rd level spell).
- Mana per level is determined by working out what the character would be able to cast and then converting it into a total number to form your mana pool.
- Bonus spells (e.g. cleric domain, wizard specialization) are added to the mana pool as normal.
- The caster is able to cast spells in any combination of their memorized spells without restriction (20 level 1 spells, 4 level 5 spells, et cetera).
- Cantrips are prepared as per the core rules and cast without a mana cost.
- All mana used returns in the same manner as the core rules.
- The use of metamagic feats increase the mana cost without the requirement of being able to cast spells of a much higher spell slot (e.g. a quickened Magic Missile will cost 5 mana, rather than the normal 1 mana, and will take up its normal spell slot rather than being required to use a spell slot 4 higher than it normally is).
- Multiclass characters have two distinct mana pools.

Thoughts?
Suggestions?

I have played with an almost identical system for a campaign that lasted over two years. That alone should tell you that the idea is feasable.

However, expect the efficiency of a spellcaster to increase by 25% to 50%. This may or may not have an impact on your game, but it *will* have an impact on the game as being expected to be played (by calculation of CR, adveture paths and players among others).

Seriously, having the possibility to double your allocation of 3rd level spells (for example) or in other situations, of 1st level spells is HUGE!. If you haven't tried it yet, it's probably a bigger advantage than what you expect; take the word of the many DMs who did try it.

When the situation calls for it, the loss of low level spells is irrelevant compared to the gain in raw powers that an increase of high-level spells can bring. This is especially true in the case of clerics and druids who can automatically prepare a wide array of spells.

Wizards on the other hand will soon figure out that it is more economical to prepare more high-level spells and fill the "low-end" with relatively cheap wands and scrolls.

But if it works with you and your group, it does make magic feels more "natural".

'findel


Xenh wrote:

Fatigue Rules

At 50% mana you are fatigued.

At 25% mana you are exhausted.

At 0% mana you are disabled.

I tried this as well with so-so results. As a way to slow down casters, the method is efficient. As a way to slow down the "fun factor" of the game, the method is also efficient...

It also brings questions as to "when" the mana is spent. Is it when the spell is prepared, or when the spell is cast?

If the mana is spent when the spell is prepared, you basically only allow your prepared spell caster to use half their mana pools. They *can* prepare other spells thereafter, but according to raw it takes 10 min per spell. I'm not even sure if they can do that while fatigued...

If the mana is spend when the spell is cast, it raises questions as to how many spells can be prepared since preparing a spell does use mana. So you'll explain that the mana has to be "put aside" but only spent when the spell is cast, but it quickly becomes muddy water and more questions and issues will be raised from this. It also ruins your intention to make magic feels more "natural". Further questions also arise when the caster is already fatigued or exhausted etc. All that to say that it is possible to make this works, but it's *not* an quick and easy fix.

This solution also gimp your NPCs big time. That's ultimately what made me change my mind as a DM.

'findel

Grand Lodge

Midnight as a system sort of works well... sure, you get LESS spellpoints but there are items that reduce (never entirely eliminating) the spellpoint cost. Caster CAN push the boundries but the spellcost is taken directly from CON temporarily... both are restored after 8 hrs rest.

For big spells that are sure to chew through your spell points there are rituals that dont sap your 'Mana', and only does a small amount of temporary CON drain

There is, on the other hand, only one caster class that covers Wizard/Cleric-druid/bard with the player customizing the focus at level 1 (so the favour, Int, Wis or Cha focus is chosen then and the feats follow).

If you did want to keep Sorcerers/Wizards and maintain the balance then you could make wizards limited to the specific spells they memorised per day as if nothing changed... not sure how'd you manage their spell points accordingly under the Midnight system.... maybe an extra spell point per spell level gained (1 at first, 3rd, 5th etc)


Another thought was to apply fatigue to the use of spells multiple times in succession, which is really the most worrisome thing in the mana system, since it permits you to teleport 8 times in a row, which changes the entire landscape of the game.

I am still pondering.

Comment away, I am still pondering : )


Xenh wrote:

Another thought was to apply fatigue to the use of spells multiple times in succession, which is really the most worrisome thing in the mana system, since it permits you to teleport 8 times in a row, which changes the entire landscape of the game.

I am still pondering.

Comment away, I am still pondering : )

That would be hard to adjudicate.

Given the average length of a battle, casting the same spell 4 times in a row is more or less the worst you'll get. That being said, a spellcaster can, from a certain level, cast the same spell 4 or 5 times in a row by RAW. The unbalancing factor is when you go from casting your highest spell level 2/day (by RAW) to 5/day (by houserule). Even when not cast consecutively, the fact that the "heavy artillery" can be used more often with the same (total) amount of resources tips the power of the game more toward spellcaster.

My advice, fully assume the responsibility of this and roll with it. Only, make sure that your non-spellcasting players DO NOT get short-changed. They may not be, especially if the caster spends some of these better resources in party buffing and teamwork, but an egoist player might create some tension among the group, which is IMO the only real danger of this houserule.

'findel


Xenh wrote:


I like the idea of getting fatigued as you move through your mana pool and have it be tied into your constitution score somehow (scaling up as you level, perhaps constitution score + level).

Using CON score + level sounds like a great idea, but looking at it seems to make the lower level casters a little OP.

Example:

Level 1 caster with CON score of 13 = Mana 14
Level 20 caster with CON score of 15 (+2 via leveling) = 35

Meaning a level 20 caster can cast 3 level 9 spells (their highest) while a level 1 caster can cast 14 level 1 spells (their highest)

I think a better way would be to go with something based on spells per day.

Example: highest level spell x Class level + ability mod


Another thought would be to buoy up the rest of the party, rather than pulling down the casters.

I have a lot of ideas for that, but none seem to be eloquent enough to counter the caster bonus.

Liberty's Edge

I am also trying to figure out a good spell point progression for D&D. It's a tricky thing to do.

Feel free to look at my homebrew and tell me what you think.

It seems pretty clear to me that wizards need to have fewer spell points. In the current system, they have to "lock" their spell points into certain spells ahead of time. So if they memorize a useless spell, they can't use those points for something better.

The ability to do exactly that is most definitely an advantage. Wizards will need to pay for this advantage. I think the most reasonable payment is for them to have fewer total castings per day (fewer spell points).


Just an idea. (say for a wizard) (also good for cleric)

Starting spells = (Int Bonuse) +1
Starting at 2nd level = +1 spell learned per level.
Starting at 2nd level = May swap one spell once per level.
May learn spells 1/2 (round up) class level (example 5th level can learn 3rd level spells).

Caster can cast spells directly from a spell book (spell not lost from book), by expending spell point equal to the spell level. Casting time is 10 minutes + normal casting time of spell. Caster can still scribe a scroll spell to a spell book directly. (normal rules for scroll, spell book apply otherwise). ~~or pray book for cleric~~

Spell (mana) points:
Starting mana points = (Very's by game = Ability bonuse +1). Depends on DM, this could be Con, or Dex, or Wis, or Cha or even Str. I am a traditionalist so prefer Wisdom.

Spell cost 1 mana point per spell level. (example 3rd level spell costs 3 points, 9th level spell costs 9 points).

Mana Regeneration: 1 point per hour or normal activity (non-fighting), 2 point per hour of normal rest, 3 points per hour of bed rest or meditation. ((sleeping 6-8 hours restores mana poll back to Full)).


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Have you tried the HypertextD20? They have numerous problems considered and resolved.

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

What about a system that "penalizes" casters for casting a certain level of spell to much based off how many spells per level they can memorize. Say a 17th level specialist wizard with a int totaling to 28 (18 starting + 4 level up + 6 Magic Item)... this character would have 3 (1 one of which is specialty spell) 9th level spells to him... After his 3rd time casting a 9th level spell, the cost of the spell would incur a cumulative 4 point increase for each time after the 3rd 9th level spell per day. Their are some alternative ideas I had was instead of 4 points, just 1 point cumulative but you can not cast spells higher level then your highest level spell slots.

You could also include or stat or hit point burning scheme for recovering mana or lowering the cost of a spell after it has been increased for to many castings. I'm not sure the exact mechanics on that just yet but it was an idea.


You could give them a mana pool and daily mana. Mana pool is smaller and when it is used, the character will dip in to the daily mana and start getting penalties like fatigue, exhaustion and unconsciousness. Then between encounters the caster rests and transfers mana from daily to pool.

Gives casters their fair share of spells per day but incurs penalties when they go all "nova" in a single encounter.

I'd also require wizards to memorize their spells, one in each spells per day slots, and then let them cast them in any combination. Sorceres get more mana but they have less repertoire and can't switch spells. I feel even this dips the power towards wizards though.


(This message brought to you by your locals mages guild)

Penalties for casting spell = Arggg ... Ok, i would like for Melee classes to start taking a cumulative -1 to Attack/Damage ever time they swing there swords. After all, that big heavy weapon gets tiresome. There is a limit to how many times you can swing a sword before getting tired, and this slowly builds up. This would even count if they Miss !!

(This message brought to you by your local mages guild, a better tomorrow is a tomorrow with spells!!)

The Exchange

Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Oliver McShade wrote:

(This message brought to you by your locals mages guild)

Penalties for casting spell = Arggg ... Ok, i would like for Melee classes to start taking a cumulative -1 to Attack/Damage ever time they swing there swords. After all, that big heavy weapon gets tiresome. There is a limit to how many times you can swing a sword before getting tired, and this slowly builds up. This would even count if they Miss !!

(This message brought to you by your local mages guild, a better tomorrow is a tomorrow with spells!!)

I agree and the idea I presented was more to keep characters from spamming their higher level spells rather then causing penalties for casting spells which simply shouldn't be. The entire idea for hit point to spell was more to provide an option that allowed for the idea of giving up life force to channel more spell energy then you normally could do so.


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

Just remembered an old one:

Casting modifier + level equals effective mana pool. Each spell cast reduces the pool by its level. Can't remember the pool's reload rate.


The problem I see with mana systems that add more mana every level is that a character can sacrifice all of their low level slots to cast large numbers of high level spells. One way I've seen to get around that is instead to have a mostly static mana pool, but spell costs change as levels progress. At high levels, low level spells become almost free, while high level spells continue to take up the majority of resources.


Necro...
Here was my simple way of dealing with spell spam. Basic system was the same.
Every spell cost its level: 1st cost 1, 3rd cost 3, etc...
The Mana pool was taken from what the character could cast. So, if a first level player with all bonuses could cast 4 first level spells, the mana pool was 4 pts. The character still had to study spells in the morning. No more than the usual slots. However, they could then use the slots in any of the spells they studied.

As for the spam. Each time a character cast a spell he did not specifically use a slot for, the cost was doubled.
Example:
Raven is a 1st level mage that has 4 spell slots. He knows he is going into combat, so he really concentrates on his magic missle(2 slots) and then rounds things out with burning hands and sleep. In the course of the day he can cast any of those normally. However, if he chose to cast a second burning hands, sleep, or a third MM, the cost would be doubled.
I know it is a steep cost, but I believe giving the wizard this option increases his power dramatically. Plus, I also have a house rule for pushing. So, the wizard could squeeze a bit more out if in serious need.


In your system at first level could a caster with four mana maximise a spell?
Ie maximized shocking grasp


http://dungeons.wikia.com/wiki/Mana-Based_Spellcasting_%283.5e_Variant_Rule %29

This is a variant I use. Unlike most systems, it's easily converted, easily understood, and flexible for most classes/feats/abilities that modify spellcasting.

For a more recent version, check this one out.

http://wowrpg.fr.yuku.com/topic/320/master/1/


fel_horfrost wrote:

In your system at first level could a caster with four mana maximise a spell?

Ie maximized shocking grasp

Not sure if you meant me. Anyway, if you meant me...then yes :)

A maximized shocking grasp would cost 2 mana.

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