WoP should = Greater creativity, less number crunching


Round 2: Words of Power Discussion


I was initially very excited when I first heard of the Words of Power system, and finally be capable of crafting my own spells. It brought to mind a sort of "sandbox" magic system.

After going over the playtest document, I'm a bit taken aback at the system. It seems very rigid and overly complicated, making spellcrafting custom spells more of a chore, and the end result wedged so hard within exact categories of what you can and cannot do, that it feels less custom and more like a stripped down compromise. What I would like to see is a simple system that flows to make spells quick on the fly without having to double check an obstacle course of point totals, limitations, and requirements that are difficult to keep track of in the middle of a fight. I would also like it to embrace the creativity capabilities, allowing for thousands of combinations of new spells. The current playtest has been released with the side note, "You won't be able to do everything you can with Words of Power that you can with normal spellcasting". My reply is simply, "Then why use a system that restricts us to limited spells?"

First is the complexity. I honestly think the best system is a sliding scale. Rather than having "Small/Medium/Large" lines, bursts, cones, etc, your maximum area of effect should scale with level. A burst would start with a 5 foot radius. Every other level the maximum radius increases by 5 feet, so that by 20th level you're flinging 50 foot radius bursts. Of course, this would be your maximum area of effect. A skilled spellcaster could still power it down and reduce the area of effect to any of the smaller radius that he knows. This reduces having to fiddle with Large/Med/Small mechanics for each target word. A single one to determine shape, then it scales with your level. Easy to figure out on the fly the sizes you can shape to. Costs could be scaled with higher areas as well, if needed for balance reasons, in exactly the same way.

Basic damage spells should also be treated the same. Instead of having a handfull of fire spells that all burn for different dice, just have ONE. Again, the damage would scale up as you level. A spellcaster can still put less spell energy into the spell and cast it with lower dice should he choose. Now, the only reason for multiple "fire" words would be for different "types" of fire, such as flame, lava, fire that was persistent, etc. Even non damage spells can benefit from scaling, such as a single Summon Servitor that scales with level.

A scaling system like this would go a long way to begin streamlining the system and make it simpler to work with.

The point system is a bit of a mess. Figuring out the points, then having to go back and figure out what level the spell is based on multiple criteria on number of words, point totals, etc... it's not /overly/ complex, but it defeats the fluidity of the system and can slow a combat turn to a crawl. I'm not overly excited about a point system for the words, but I don't have any superior suggestions handy at this point. At the very least, the level of the spell should be determined by it's total point cost. That's all, no other factors. Keep it easy and fast.

As for creativity, I see no reason for not including SCORES of words that cover everything from creation, to utility, sparkly effects, and moving things about. Give us the tools to create any sort of spell that we can think of. I would rather the Words of Power system do less DPS as a whole than standard spellcasting, if it meant I could have the capability of literally casting any kind of crazy spell I could think up. The spells don't necessarily have to have the capability to destroy worlds and move the cosmos, but they should be the players personal spells that they tinker, create, perfect, and OWN a part of.

Words of Power, as I see it currently, has HUGE potential, and I am genuinely eager to see what Jason Bulmahn and the rest of Paizo does with the system and how they develop it. As of it's current state in this Alpha, I see including it in my games as a GM only as a general framework that I would then use to heavily modify for my own houseruled system. As a player in other games, I feel that without the capability for creativity or slick on-the-fly tinkering with spells without having to refer to multiple charts and calculations, I would choose not to use this system.


Very well said!


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Agreed.


I think that the crux of the problem is the attempt to tack it onto existing tables. It would probably cut back on the complexity if you either just had a new class for this system, or abandoned the idea of using existing tables in the core rulebook at all.

Just make a few "words known, words per day" charts, and say "rangers and paladins use this one, bards use the second one, clerics, druids and wizards use the third and sorcerers use the last." (though i would leave out any class that isnt a full caster) Attempting to use existing charts automatically increases the number of effect words needed, and increases complexity far beyond what just adding an additional chart would.

In fact, honestly, making it a tack-on system at all increases the amount of support you have to provide for it in the future, as every new class, prestige class or archetype will have to work with the system.

If a new adventure path wants to introduce a new word, it may very well have to introduce a whole word family. However, if you use Ravenot's suggestion of sliding scale words, and my suggestion of just using new charts and forgetting the old ones, you cut back on complexity considerably.


I don't think incorporating it into the existing system is an issue. The classes can still abide by the same spell/level charts. You just have to craft spells that are equal or lower to the equivalent spell level slot. I don't see compatability as a whole as any major issue.

The complicated slowdown of spellmaking for spells that heavily restrict creativity or lack the tools to do so is the main drag. In fact, both of these issues are repeated across the spell example threads. There are handfulls of example spells posted that are corrected later as bieng the wrong spell level. It needs to be more straight forward to not bog down a game. I have also seen a large number of brilliant spells that are disallowed by the rules. Like summoning a fire elemental in an explosion of fire as a common example. As long as its level is at the appropriate point for its power, why not? I see no reason to restrict such things.


I too am supremely disappointed in the playtest material. From what i initially heard about the Words of Power system was it would allow you to bend reality to your whim by creating your own spells on the fly in an easy to use highly customizable system. unfortunately this is not what we got. i would prefer the system to work something like this.

target words: as is, but as Ravenot suggested, on a sliding scale. just line, cone, burst, personal, touch, ranged touch, spread, cylinder

Duration words: point cost for instantaneous, round per level, minutes per level, hours per level, concentration, etc.

effect words: to be simplified. base words for things like energy types and effects, with a sliding cost scale to increase things like dice codes and dice caps, instead of 5 words for the same effect at different levels.

Condition words: take the secondary effects away from the words themselves and make them words of their own so that can be tacked on or left out as desired

then have most of the words be unbiased for levels. most words obtainable at level one (though this would of course be limited by words known) with the exception of powerful words that would be unavailable because they cost more than your level would allow (like resurrecting the dead or similar powerful effects) and have them slide in cost to be more or less powerful. so you could easily memorize their costs and make spells up as you go, giving possibilities for very creative and interesting spells.

"i could rain down a storm of meteors to deal a wide spread fire damage to lots of opponents, or instead i could fire a ray that does less damage to one enemy and explodes on contact into summoned fire elementals"

"My party is in trouble, time to get creative, i burn my highest level spell to heal the party in a spread around me, and erect a wall between us and our aggressors to give a small reprieve from our enemies"

"OH NO! the enemy necromancer just used a huge burst to raise all the villagers corpses into undead, AND BUFFED THEM! RUN AWAY!"


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

iZombie's got it right. There are far too many restrictions for the system to be terribly viable now.

Contributor

iZOMBIE wrote:

I too am supremely disappointed in the playtest material. From what i initially heard about the Words of Power system was it would allow you to bend reality to your whim by creating your own spells on the fly in an easy to use highly customizable system. unfortunately this is not what we got. i would prefer the system to work something like this.

target words: as is, but as Ravenot suggested, on a sliding scale. just line, cone, burst, personal, touch, ranged touch, spread, cylinder

Duration words: point cost for instantaneous, round per level, minutes per level, hours per level, concentration, etc.

effect words: to be simplified. base words for things like energy types and effects, with a sliding cost scale to increase things like dice codes and dice caps, instead of 5 words for the same effect at different levels.

Condition words: take the secondary effects away from the words themselves and make them words of their own so that can be tacked on or left out as desired

then have most of the words be unbiased for levels. most words obtainable at level one (though this would of course be limited by words known) with the exception of powerful words that would be unavailable because they cost more than your level would allow (like resurrecting the dead or similar powerful effects) and have them slide in cost to be more or less powerful. so you could easily memorize their costs and make spells up as you go, giving possibilities for very creative and interesting spells.

Exactly.

What we have here right now are not so much "Words of Power" as "Sentence Fragments of Power."

There really needs to be a way to divorce the word for the energy type from the word for the amount of damage. The damage amounts should come in at the same levels as regular wizards and sorcerers get spells.

There should also be some way to differentiate spells with instantaneous effects from ones with sustained ones. Consider the difference between Flaming Sphere and Fireball. They both create spheres of flame. One is weaker but continuous and can be redirected around the area, the other is instantaneous but more powerful.

Logically there should be a word for sphere, a word for the size of the sphere, a word for the element, a word for the intensity of that element, and a word for the duration of that element. Sustained medium hot fire sphere is a different thing than instantaneous large searing fire sphere. Swap the shape to "cone" with the two and you could either have a continuous cone of flame issuing out or an instantaneous cone-shaped burst.

RPG Superstar 2011 Top 8

Ravenot wrote:
Your entire first post of pretty much all good ideas.

I think the reason the designers have stuck with trying to shoehorn things in to specific spell slots is to eliminate the Psionics Nova effect.

If you allow things to be based on Caster level, even if they have to pay more for maximized abilities, most players will choose to fire off a half dozen big flashy spells per day at their maximum level, rather than have several tiers of available effects.

A 7th level Wizard, with no bonus spells/school spells what so ever, gets about 76 points per day, with a max of 13 points per cast. He would have no reason to not cast probably 4 or 5 big 11-13 point spells and then slip a few extra points in to a couple cantrips that are generally useful. When you consider that by 7th level, you start to get spells that can end encounters ( black tentacles, anyone?), why would you NOT sacrifice your 1st level spells that won't do a whole lot, and instead break out an encounter winner?

Sorry if this came off a bit negative, I think most of your ideas are actually quite good and I would like to see them at least tested out. I have to go to work now, but hopefully I can get back and discuss the good parts later.


I'm not sure how anyone would try and balance the WoP system that you're talking about against the current system. It already has some elements of Psionics-like effect. Personally I though psionics completely ruined any sort of balance the magic system in DnD ever had. In my opinion, Paizo should just steer clear of that entire problem and not play with fire.


@Ravenot
@iZOMBIE
@Kevin Andrew Murphy

Amen and well said, brothers!

I understand that the playtest material is only a small sample of the whole. But the system is clunky, being at once complex and inflexible. On the one hand, it introduces a complete point system that requires a significant amount of bookkeeping. On the other hand, there are many effect combinations that are impossible because effects have been clumped together into single phrases that are too specific. I have a handful of ideas on how to make a better system, but I'll keep my advice high-level.

Simplicity or flexibility - choose one.

If you're going to maximize simplicity, consider making a "point" equal a spell level. Make some templates that spells can be built on, to give structure to the spell creation process and to take care of details that are too minor to be addressed by a mechanic with a range of only .5-9 points. Accept that a number of iconic spells will not be possible, and allow for casters to have great freedom across what is covered, in exchange for leaving out half of the current spell effects. Emphasizing simplicity would create a type of spellcaster easily playable by anyone who can handle the existing core rules, without slowing game play or increasing bookkeeping.

If you're going to maximize for flexibility, separate every characteristic into its own word: range, area, shape, damage, condition (e.g. stunned), casting time, duration, energy type, etc. putting very fine-grained control into the hands of the player. A few existing spells still won't be possible, and a number of existing spells would come in at higher level than the core version, but the large degree of customization would make up for that. Emphasizing flexibility would create a type of spellcaster that appeals to players who are willing to do significantly more bookkeeping to make up their own, highly detailed and tweaked, spell effects.


Well said, iZOMBIE, my thoughts exactly.

Evil Space Mantis wrote:
Ravenot wrote:
Your entire first post of pretty much all good ideas.

I think the reason the designers have stuck with trying to shoehorn things in to specific spell slots is to eliminate the Psionics Nova effect.

If you allow things to be based on Caster level, even if they have to pay more for maximized abilities, most players will choose to fire off a half dozen big flashy spells per day at their maximum level, rather than have several tiers of available effects.

A 7th level Wizard, with no bonus spells/school spells what so ever, gets about 76 points per day, with a max of 13 points per cast. He would have no reason to not cast probably 4 or 5 big 11-13 point spells and then slip a few extra points in to a couple cantrips that are generally useful. When you consider that by 7th level, you start to get spells that can end encounters ( black tentacles, anyone?), why would you NOT sacrifice your 1st level spells that won't do a whole lot, and instead break out an encounter winner?

Sorry if this came off a bit negative, I think most of your ideas are actually quite good and I would like to see them at least tested out. I have to go to work now, but hopefully I can get back and discuss the good parts later.

Hmm, perhaps I was a bit unclear in describing a sliding scale system. I am not suggesting a point system where you can blow all your power for the day into one or two spells. I am in favor of still keeping your spell slots per day. A wizard would still have slots for low level spells only useable for crafted spells that total to that level equivalent or lower.

To clarify my suggestion on the sliding scale, It would serve only to replace the clunky system of having multiple words for the the same effect. The current alpha system of having multiple line words with different lengths and point costs, different fire words with different damage and so on, is hard to keep track of with multiple point costs and words to keep track of. Reducing the basic words to a sliding scale would serve to make things much simpler to keep track of, as you would have ONE word and a simple formula to keep track of the variable to achieve all of the effects that the current system takes half a dozen words for.

Point costs and/or level requirements could also slide with the variable of the sliding scale to keep the spell level of the crafted spell in line with its equivalent power. As long as its kept fast and simple.

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

Hey there folks,

There is definitely some solid feedback here that I will keep in mind going forward. Two quick points I want to make to the crowd...

1. The system is built off the framework of the existing spell slots because the power curve there is predictable and understood. The mapping of power increase is a lot easier and it is quite a bit simple to add on to existing classes in this way. Remember, we have a lot of classes that use spells and to make this system viable, It needs to be able to map to them all in the limited space we have to present this system.

2. We absolutely want to avoid the "nova" effect of a large pool of points that a spellcaster could spend very rapidly with overpowered effects. Its cool to have a little bit of this (see Word Burning), but opening it up across the board is not an option I am remotely willing to consider at this point.

So.. we have to have some restrictions, but I am beginning to agree that there needs to be a simpler way on a few fronts.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing


Jason Bulmahn wrote:

Hey there folks,

There is definitely some solid feedback here that I will keep in mind going forward. Two quick points I want to make to the crowd...

1. The system is built off the framework of the existing spell slots because the power curve there is predictable and understood. The mapping of power increase is a lot easier and it is quite a bit simple to add on to existing classes in this way. Remember, we have a lot of classes that use spells and to make this system viable, It needs to be able to map to them all in the limited space we have to present this system.

2. We absolutely want to avoid the "nova" effect of a large pool of points that a spellcaster could spend very rapidly with overpowered effects. Its cool to have a little bit of this (see Word Burning), but opening it up across the board is not an option I am remotely willing to consider at this point.

So.. we have to have some restrictions, but I am beginning to agree that there needs to be a simpler way on a few fronts.

Jason Bulmahn
Lead Designer
Paizo Publishing

Jason, I agree 100% with both of your points. I see no reason why a sliding scale couldn't be implimented on the variables of words to consolidate the list and simplify it while still adhering to the spell slot framework; my feedback here always assumed to stay within that framework. Apologies if I've been unclear in getting that idea across.

I appreciate your work on the difficult system so far, I know I argue a lot of issues on it here but I'm attempting to be as constructive as possible. I really want to see this system succeed. Thanks for taking the time to participate in the discussions with your input on the boards!

Paizo Employee Director of Game Design

No worries at all sir. Just clearing some things up.

Jason


2. We absolutely want to avoid the "nova" effect of a large pool of points that a spellcaster could spend very rapidly with overpowered effects.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

That extreme nova ability has been the downfall of most of the spell-point type systems I have seen in the past.


This thread is the best discussion of the Words of Powers on these boards.

I think the system needs to be a lot more generic. More specifically, the words should be as generic as possible. Basically, just "elemental damage of xD6," "moves objects with X strong force," "grants invisibility," and so on, so the players themselves can create the effects. With scaling as suggested by the OP, of course. There should also be less limitations on target/effect combination, such as the force word that only can be cast on personal (mimicking mage armor). I would like to see system be completely free, only limited by spell levels.

The system definitely has great potential of moving the game towards more inventive use of magic. It could also make magic feel more mysterious - D&D has always had a huge limitations in that magic is confined to predetermined "spells" instead of having a magical force alá Wheel of Time or even Lord of the Rings. There would also be less spell bloat inside this system; instead of coming up with a new spell for every possible situation there can just be introduced a few more words that increase player possibilities tenfold.

Basically, I think the words should be simpler and more generic. I am definitely in favor of 'condition' and 'duration' words for every spell. I'm not entirely sure how to accomplish it, but if the word system could somehow be innovatively grasped by players who would go on to smartly construct and adapt spells on the spot, it would be the greatest innovation D&D has ever seen.


I've been wary about a lot of these topics about simplifying the wordcasting system because it seemed like the suggestions would take way wordcasting's versatility. However, I really like the ideas here, especially the sliding scale ideas.

One thing that has honestly seemed a little odd so far about wordcasting is how even when you get to high level effect words you still have so little room to work with your points that you have to push it up to another level if you want to use the largest areas of effect. For example, you get Force Blast as a 5th level word, but if you don't want it to be pushed up to 6th level you have to keep it down to a small burst, small cone, or medium line. Are there really any standard 5th level spells that can only do 10d6 damage in such a small area? The 'sliding scale' system with the automatically increasing spell sizes would keep weird problems like this from pooping up.

Personally, I would suggest that the area size automatically increase depending on the spell slot that's used rather than caster level just so that you don't end up with large cone 1st level slot spells. That would get weird.

Shadow Lodge

While I agree that there are too many target words I do like that I can make a spell smaller area with a more powerful effect, including possibly applying a second effect word to a spell.

Dark Archive

0gre wrote:
While I agree that there are too many target words I do like that I can make a spell smaller area with a more powerful effect, including possibly applying a second effect word to a spell.

I agree with you. One of my biggest problems with stuff like Fireball is that you have to finagle some crazy spot for it so you don't blast the crap out of your buddy. Tossing out a small blast of fire damage so I can also add some acid damage or something to boot is awesome.


might I suggest looking at OGL steampunk?

It was a hokey little 3.0 adaption with it's own unique magic system that worked out well in the few games I have run.
Each school of magic had a feat requirement (Spell casters got a few feats for this purpose) and each school had a pertinent skill. You built the spell yourself, (at a good deal of time and component cost) and then loaded the thing into an artifact (to be let loose ad infinitum as long as you could make the relevant skill roll to activate it.

despite the extra bits, it involved a decent, and comprehensive spell creation system that could be invaluable if someone professional were to take it up and rejigger it to be, you know, professional.

Batts


Kadeity has already stated it, but I'd like to reitterate; Tables are good things.
Tables similar to those used for magic items (substituting gp cost for word cost) would make it much easier of on-the-fly calculations. Knowing you have x-points to burn, you could look up the basics of your spell with ease. Detailing would follow in descriptions after (much like the feats are laid out).

I also have to agree with iZombie. Seperating the effects from the energy type allows for much more versitility. Some effects may need to be limited, or explained away by players thematically (a burning effect from acid is continual corrosion, from positive energy it's holy ravagings, etc), but there's no reason a home-brewed fire spell can't stagger as per frost fingers.

The Nova issue is pretty well delt with by caps (which Psionics lacked horridly). Since the points for a word are limited by the spell level, that's not really an issue. There's no reason not to burn all of a 5th level spell's 16 points while casting it.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:
The Nova issue is pretty well delt with by caps (which Psionics lacked horridly). Since the points for a word are limited by the spell level, that's not really an issue. There's no reason not to burn all of a 5th level spell's 16 points while casting it.

Have to defend my peeps,

Psionics *did/does* have caps. You couldn't spend more points than your manifester level on an effect. (Except by overchannel, surge, or ability burn, all of which had their own consequences) There was no heighten power feat, so an energy ray that did 17d6 points of damage (costing 17 power points, same as a 9th level spell) would still be blocked by a minor globe of invulnerability. An Astral construct 9 would likewise be blocked.

Amusingly when I looked at the words play test this morning the three systems I thought of were McWoD, M:tA, and Psionics.

Thanks to everyone who posted spells, it gave me a better handle on the system. (Word Burning = Sequester Power, fyi)

Looking at the Bard and his contemparies, do I understand correctly that he'll have cantrips and two words of power at first level? I'd also note that Words seem to make the Arcane Duelist archtype more a 'stabracadabra' type of caster.

On 'spells vs Words' arguments

Spoiler:
This is what reminded me of Mage Revised (KAM feel free to correct me) Yeah you could take Forces 3, Prime 2, Spirit 3 and make a transdimensional fireball, but if you had a rote (Lynn's Bouncing Ball) it was easier.

So yes, you can Word summon up a monster. You can Word summon up a monster with buffs, but the 'rote' (traditional spell) summon monster IV can call up multiple critters, in exchange for no buffs.

Think of normal spells with this system as a 'phrase book'. Spells are like "I am the President, I don't speak Austrian" a phrase that's easy to remember, but you can't tweak. Words allow you to say, "My German is poor because I'm an American and took Russan in High School."
(Or look at Chinese writing (essentially pictoglyphs) vs English or any other alphabet system.)


Thanks for the defense of psionics MM, you beat me to it. I also though about the psionics system when I looked over the playtest document. I also though of the spell system used by the Spiritualist class from the Iron Heroes Player's Companion.

Right now, I think the system has potiental, but is still a bit to complex for easy use. Players could design out some spells in advance, but trying to put one together on the fly may slow the game down to much.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Thraxus wrote:

Thanks for the defense of psionics MM, you beat me to it. I also though about the psionics system when I looked over the playtest document. I also though of the spell system used by the Spiritualist class from the Iron Heroes Player's Companion.

Right now, I think the system has potiental, but is still a bit to complex for easy use. Players could design out some spells in advance, but trying to put one together on the fly may slow the game down to much.

Hmm, I wonder if that's a potential perk to be exploited?

Spoiler:

Maybe if a character uses a WoP spell x times, it becomes a 'rote' and knocks a point off the final cost? Not enough to really affect the spell's level, but it's one more point to put somewhere else.

X = 5+ spell level times cast in a 'stressful situation' (combat, something requiring a concentration check, not sitting at home blasting the neighbor's dog)? You can't then take the 'rote' and add a point to it, because that's a new spell.

so an acid burst WoP (small burst (2) acid burn (3)) cast 6 times becomes for that caster only a 4 point spell with the discount.

Or would that unbalance the wordcaster?


Matthew Morris wrote:


Hmm, I wonder if that's a potential perk to be exploited?
** spoiler omitted **

Or would that unbalance the wordcaster?

I too thank you for speaking in defense of psionics. Old misinformation never dies it seems.

As for your idea, I doubt it would be unbalanced unless you define unbalanced as "taking the caster's private time sink mini game and making it more fiddly and time consuming". Adding ways to scrape points to boost spells will only result in more time one player has to take prepping their character/action. Seriously, take the amount of time a shapechanging character used to spend pouring over the MM(s) in 3.x and apply it to picking spells. Double the time hit if the GM has to check your work to make sure the spell is legal.

Actually building the spells needs to be simplified first. What we have been given so far only works if you are a game developer trying to put together a spell one time to print in a new book/supplement. It's too much cross checking and time consuming.

Shadow Lodge

I always thought the nova issue was because you could burn all your powers on your highest level abilities not because you could ramp up low level powers. So at fifth level you might get five rounds of casting your highest level powers and then you were done for the day. Sure you kicked but for those five rounds but you are done.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

0gre wrote:
I always thought the nova issue was because you could burn all your powers on your highest level abilities not because you could ramp up low level powers. So at fifth level you might get five rounds of casting your highest level powers and then you were done for the day. Sure you kicked but for those five rounds but you are done.

At 5th level you get (discounting intelligence modifiers) 25 points, which is 5 third level powers or equivilant. 3.x Wizard gets 1 3rd, two second, 3 first level spells. for direct damage (easiest comparison) those first level spells would do 15d6 (3 shocking grasps) or 9d4+9 (magic missile) While the psion can throw three 5d6 60' cones of variable energy damage (Assuming a Kinectist) The wizard can throw one 5d6 fireball, 2 4d6 scortching rays and either 9 1d4+1 missiles or three 5d4 cones of fire. 'dial an energy' counts for a lot, but we're talking about a Kinectist, if we go against a 3.5 Evoker, then add another 9d6 + 5d4.

Plus (opinion) anyone who lets their players burn through all their resources w.o after effects needs to reevaluate the DM chair.

The issue of Novaing often came from the '5 minute adventuring day' complaints, or ignoring the metacap. Horror stories of level 1 psions cranking out 3d10 mind thrusts abound. If I'm reading the WoP document correctly, you don't have a pool of points that you can nova with. Indeed, I'm not sure if the aspiring wordcaster can toss out 3 point or less powers all day. That's how I read it. The closest to 'Novaing' I see is by burning words to 'cram down' higher level combos into lower level slots. Properly done, I could see some hefty 'nova' type builds.

Tremble Before Zod!

Spoiler:
(Small Burst, Terror, Bard 3/12 points) is a 4th level Word (12 points total)
Our 10th level bard, Barry, can toss the spell once a day (Discounting Charisma). If he sequesters, er, burns his 4th level slot, he can now thow Tremble Before Zod thrice a day, using his thrid level slots and his Wordburning. In essence he's 'novaing' his 3rd level and fourth level slots to keep the greater effect *and* has his 0-2nd level spell slots.


To go back to the orriginal discussion (sorry psionics folks, but your OT)

I like the idea of a sliding scale, but agree with the poster who said it should be a scale off of spell level and not caster level. I would rather see the ability to keep small areas and increase the overall power level in the system though. I would handle it with something like 1 point per 5 ft radius.

I would like to see damage divorced from energy type, and have damage word. For instance (point costs are rough guesses):
Instantaneous damage:
1d3 - 1 point
1d4/lvl max 5d4: 3 points
1d6/lvl max 10d6: 6 points
1d8/lvl max 10d6: 9 points
1d6/lvl no max: 12 points
1d8/lvl no max: 16 points
+1/level: 3 points (can be added with annother damage word and stacked)

Combine this with a 0 point manditory energy type word for fire, cold, acid, and lightning a 3 point sonic word, and a 5 point force word.

Then give each element bonus words that can be added to them. Using your existing status ailments from words:
Acid:
A word that causes damage to be dealt again on a consecutive round: 2 points
Sickened 1 round/lvl: 2 points
Cold:
Staggered 1 round: 1 point
Entangled 1d4 rounds: 2 points
Electrcity:
Bouncing, deal damage to adjacent targets: 5 points
Fire:
none of the spells currently have anything, but I'm sure we can come up with something.
light on fire: 1dx of whatever was used until put out or lvl rounds: 2 points

Some of these could have variable costs depending on which level of damage they are modifying.

You can have a seprate table for continuous damage spells, like flame sphere, damaging walls, ect. These would have lower damage values but have a durration = to 1 round/level.
1d4: 3 points
1d6: 5 points
2d4: 7 points
2d6: 9 points
3d6: 12 points
+1/level: 4 points (can be added with annother damage word and stacked)


My impression of the playtest material was that someone was trying to recreate the Warlock's Eldritch Blast from Complete Arcane, but losing all the fluidity and ease of play you get from the various blast Invocations and tacking on a bunch of things you don't care about like detecting magic. (I mean, detecting magic is something Pathfinder Sorcerers can do at will and for free. We really don't need a whole system for making a 4th level version of it.... heck, we don't even want players the option to blow a slot this way because it's a huge waste of a slot.)

So if you want to see Words of Power evocations done right, just look at the Warlock from Complete Arcane. I mean, the numbers of spells you can actually create is really quite limited unless you want to be tossing around effects that you could have had many levels ago and burn higher level slots to juice them up a little. This means the entire document could just be replaced by those small numbers of spells because the value of being able to change a crappy damage effect to a slightly bigger or even different area for a higher level slot is actually worse than just using a higher level spell that is better in all ways.


K wrote:
My impression of the playtest material was that someone was trying to recreate the Warlock's Eldritch Blast from Complete Arcane, but losing all the fluidity and ease of play you get from the various blast Invocations and tacking on a bunch of things you don't care about like detecting magic.

That's because for the Warlock's Eldritch Blast they started from a clean slate. Words of Power is taking the existing quirky and somewhat arbitrary spell list, merely separating target/range from effect, and then making you jump through hoops to put together spells from the various parts. Reverse engineering spells (or anything else) that were built with only the barest nod to standardization in an effort to make modular parts tends to not work out well.


Part of the difficulty in this system comes from the ala carte point cost of effects. If effects were based on level of spell, then a simpler system could be something like:

Add up all the effect levels of the words and that becomes the spell level needed to cast the spell. Instead of different costs if there are multiple effects, it could be simplified to +1 level per effect over 1 (i.e. 1 level for 2 effects, 2 levels for 3 effects).

In this way, you could simply look at the effects and build the spell:

1 level 1 effect - 1 level
1 level 2 effect - 2 levels
2 effects - +1 level

and say this spell is 4th level. The current method has you look up every effect:

Enhance form body 5/7 (5 for first spell)
Force Shield 4/5 (5 for second spell)
5+5 = 10, then you have to check the chart and see that 10 is a 3rd level spell. If you don't have all the materials laid out before you then you are cross checking, adding and then comparing back to table 1-1 for every spell you create.

The current system gives a greater granularity of points to build, at the cost that it's going to get the optimizers to figure out how to build spells that match the total word cost of a spell level in table 1-1 - possibly slowing down the game if those spells weren't precalculated before play.


Jason

I think you're trying to d too much with one mechanic. Level slots govern power, utility and resource allocation. Trying to have one system do all that is a bit of a mashup.

My suggestion, let players invest spell slots to unlock features of a limited number of words of power. Prepared casters can change these investment, spontaneous casters can't. I'd suggest a branching tree design. Each invested slot unlocks a certain effect of that level. For example putting one first level slot into the word or harm unlocks force, a second unlocks shock and so on.

The second variable is delivery method, what you have as target words. What happens when somebody wants to use fire to melt a lock? Delivery method is where the free form fun is. My suggestion is make this skill check based with the option to somehow fix in place common delivery methods. See formulaic and spontaneous spells out of Ars Magica.

Finally, there needs to be a resource variable. Currently, these are vancian spell slots. How about using casting time as the variable? Have one track for casting time but have lower level spells give a bonus (think of this as something like the muli box fatigue track out of shadowrun). While a caster never runs out of magic, pretty soon top level spells become hour long rituals. This is going to need a little playing with. A track for every spell level would be a pain, but a single pool of power points would lead to either novaing or high level casters perma spamming lightning bolt.


Lord Twitchiopolis wrote:

Kadeity has already stated it, but I'd like to reitterate; Tables are good things.

Tables similar to those used for magic items (substituting gp cost for word cost) would make it much easier of on-the-fly calculations. Knowing you have x-points to burn, you could look up the basics of your spell with ease. Detailing would follow in descriptions after (much like the feats are laid out).

I also have to agree with iZombie. Seperating the effects from the energy type allows for much more versitility. Some effects may need to be limited, or explained away by players thematically (a burning effect from acid is continual corrosion, from positive energy it's holy ravagings, etc), but there's no reason a home-brewed fire spell can't stagger as per frost fingers.

The Nova issue is pretty well delt with by caps (which Psionics lacked horridly). Since the points for a word are limited by the spell level, that's not really an issue. There's no reason not to burn all of a 5th level spell's 16 points while casting it.

I agree with your second and third points, but the first, i'm not a fan of. I do like the spirit of it: Easy, on-the-fly calculations. But I would like to shoot for a system so simple that it doesn't need lookup tables.

One suggestion I like is removing the "point values" and making a straight +/- spell level adjustment for various effects or larger values on the sliding scale. Just a quick example, things like Target: Self are -1 level, Target: Touch is 0, Target: Ranged touch is +1, and so on. Using this example, i'd be able to recreate Mage Armor with Force Armor +1, Target: Self -1, Duration: Hours/level +1. 1+1-1= spell level 1. But wait, I want to add +2 Str for +1 level, for a second level spell. If balance issues arise, a flat +1 level fee could be assigned to secondary effect words (Making my example a level 3 spell with the additional +Str effect).

More powerful effects would be worth more +levels to add up. Straight and clean like this, no tables would be needed. Just add up the levels, use the appropriate spell slot, and go. No level values would be much higher than 9 (unless you ad -level modifying words) since that's the maximum spell slot level. Players won't feel "cheated" for not using up every last point they can, searching for any extra effect to squeeze into the spell and find ways to optimize a spell mathematically. And given proper breakdown of all variables of a spell into individual word components (Target, duration, effect(s), each bumpable on a sliding scale for +level modifiers), control and fine tuning of spells to customize them would be a cinch.

Caineach has the right idea. A scaling system tied to the spell levels would suit a simple system like this fine as well, while still giving tons of options.

And reading further down, i see Jon Otaguro 428 beat me to bringing up the +level instead of points suggestion as well. Great minds think alike, eh?

The more I've thought about this, the more I believe such a system could be the answer to give both simplicity and maximum customization. I just hope Paizo's goals for the Words of Power system are similar.


K wrote:
My impression of the playtest material was that someone was trying to recreate the Warlock's Eldritch Blast from Complete Arcane, but losing all the fluidity and ease of play you get from the various blast Invocations and tacking on a bunch of things you don't care about like detecting magic.

My impression is that it's like a sorcerer variant with an inferior spell list, but free access to metamagic like Reach Spell, Chain Spell, Sculpt Spell, etc. And also the 3.5 spell Arcane Fusion (in order to combine two spell effects into one).

Which raises the question: "If I can write the equivalent magic system with a 1 page class variant and a couple of spells and feats, then why spend a dozen (? or more) pages describing it in terms of a brand new system?"


Ravenot wrote:
But I would like to shoot for a system so simple that it doesn't need lookup tables.

Even with an extremely simple system, I would want a table. It's the easiest way to present a scaling system, and a great aid to memorization. I've been working with a game system written by someone who didn't like tables, and it's a nightmare! Paragraph after paragraph of information buried in sentence structure, and if it were backed up with a handful of tables, I wouldn't have to field a thousand questions from players.


Blueluck wrote:
Ravenot wrote:
But I would like to shoot for a system so simple that it doesn't need lookup tables.
Even with an extremely simple system, I would want a table. It's the easiest way to present a scaling system, and a great aid to memorization. I've been working with a game system written by someone who didn't like tables, and it's a nightmare! Paragraph after paragraph of information buried in sentence structure, and if it were backed up with a handful of tables, I wouldn't have to field a thousand questions from players.

Everyone takes data in differently. I hate things in table form when it can be displayed by a simple mathmatical formula.

Dark Archive

Caineach wrote:
Everyone takes data in differently. I hate things in table form when it can be displayed by a simple mathmatical formula.

Maybe, but when I'm trying to level my PC on the quick I'd like a nice table to refer to for easy, accurate reference.


Blueluck wrote:
Ravenot wrote:
But I would like to shoot for a system so simple that it doesn't need lookup tables.
Even with an extremely simple system, I would want a table. It's the easiest way to present a scaling system, and a great aid to memorization. I've been working with a game system written by someone who didn't like tables, and it's a nightmare! Paragraph after paragraph of information buried in sentence structure, and if it were backed up with a handful of tables, I wouldn't have to field a thousand questions from players.

Fair enough. My point still stands, i'd like it simple enough so tables aren't a necessity, but for those who prefer them I wouldn't begrudge a few tables on the system.


Pathfinder Maps, Pawns Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

I love to have tables for when I need them. What I don't love is having to look up said tables being a necessary step each and every time I use the ability (see v2.5 Turn Undead to see what I mean).

I find it easy enough to write in the level point costs on the character sheet next to the words known section, like this:

Galanost, 10th-level sorcerer with 24 Charisma

Power Words Known (Level Limits = 3, 5, 7, 10, 13, 16)

6th (0/day) – enhance form (body, 14/16)*

5th (4/day) – force blast (force, 12/15), large burst (target, 8), large cone (target, 8)

4th (7/day) – ice barrier (barrier, 7), terror (fear, 9/12)

3rd (8/day) – fire blast (fire, 6/8), force armor (armor (7/9), fortify (body, 7/8)*, large line (target, 5), medium burst (target, 5), medium cone (target, 5), torture (pain, 6/8)

2nd (8/day) – burning flash (fire, 5/7)*, corrosive bolt (acid, 5/7), distant (meta, 4), enhance form (body, 5/7), force bolt (force, 4/8), medium line (target, 3)

1st (8/day) – burning flash (fire, 3/5), force shield (armor, 4/5), fortify (body, 4/5), mass (target, 2), small burst (target, 3), small cone (target, 2), small line (target, 2), spook (fear, 4), wrack (pain, 3/4)

0 (at will) – acid burn (acid, 3), cold snap (cold, 2), cramp (pain, 2/3), echo (illusion, 2), flame jet (fire, 2), force block (armor, 2 or 4 with boost), personal (target, 0), sense magic (sense, 1), single (target, 0), spark (electricity, 3); +1 power word

* Boosted effect.

The Exchange

Quote:
One suggestion I like is removing the "point values" and making a straight +/- spell level adjustment for various effects or larger values on the sliding scale.
Quote:
Which raises the question: "If I can write the equivalent magic system with a 1 page class variant and a couple of spells and feats, then why spend a dozen (? or more) pages describing it in terms of a brand new system?"

These two statements pretty much cover what I've been thinking about the presented Words of Power system. Essentially, effects at the moment are as specific as normal spells, except you can a) choose the target / area, and b) cast more than one effect at once.

To my mind these two things are much easier to achieve with a couple of metamagic feats: one to 'shape' a spell's area, and one to convert a higher level spell into multiple lower levels spells, cast at the same time and target (e.g. a 5th level spell being used to cast a level 2 + level 2 + level 1 spell at an opponent... or however the balancing maths would work out). As far as I can tell, that's pretty much all the system does at the moment - you don't create interesting combinations of effects (such as a fire effect + an earth effect = a lava effect), it's more that you just cast more than one at a time (a fire effect + an earth effect = a fire effect and an earth effect hitting the guy you target).

As such I'd suggest either just expanding the range of available metamagic feats (the pre-existing way to create 'custom' spell effects), or (as others have suggested) expanding the words system so that every aspect of a spell (range, duration, targets, type of save, type of energy, components, etc.) are options which can be mix-and-matched to create the end result you want. Keep the options simple, of course (so, for example, range is one set of possible ranges, not one range for elemental spells, one for mind spells, one for force spells, etc.).

I'll also agree with those who've suggested (to match the fluff if nothing else) definitely only have one 'word' per 'effect' - if my character's discovered the primal mystical word which embodies the reality that is 'fire' I don't want to need to learn another word for 'big fire' and another for 'fire which lasts longer' - I have normal spells for that.


paizo should look at how spells work in GURPS 4ed, its a much easy´er system and it works better. And the players can also pick the spells they want to have.


Paizo could make the magic point based= 1st level spells cost one point, and 2ed level spells cost 2 points, and so on. How many points should the magic user have? well they could just take int stats for wizards and cha stats for sorcerers = a wizard has 18 in int he would start with 18 points to cast spells with...


Argyele Blackmoor wrote:
Paizo could make the magic point based= 1st level spells cost one point, and 2ed level spells cost 2 points, and so on. How many points should the magic user have? well they could just take int stats for wizards and cha stats for sorcerers = a wizard has 18 in int he would start with 18 points to cast spells with...

That's pretty much how 3.5e psionics works.

Shadow Lodge

Spell points is not part of the words of power. There is a chance (unlikely I suspect) they might have an alternate spell point system in UM but I find it unlikely. If you like spell points the Unearthed Arcana system in the SRD should work just fine.


The main thing I found annoying was that some of the restrictions of use felt a bit arbitrary, and felt like you were being locked down into the style of the spells the words were based off – the particular one that comes to mind is Sense thoughts; I'd like to be able to pick one guy who I can see and who's a bit further off, and read his mind, rather than be stuck with the cones. There are several other places where I think the restrictions are over restrictive.

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