Removing Prepared Casters


Homebrew and House Rules


I hear on and on about how much more powerful the prepared casters are than the rest of the classes because of the wide amount of spells they can have access to. How much would it shake things up if prepared casting classes were simply not available? Let's assume for ease of application we make this a setting rule at first.

No prepared casting classes (rangers and paladins who take a spell-less archetype are fine), no pages of spell knowledge, no shenanigans like paragon surge for expanded arcana. You know the spells you have from leveling up, from special racial abilities, and possibly from favored class bonuses. That's it. Probably also on the chopping block would be any spell that can be used to duplicate more than a small set of other spells. Wish, Miracle, etc. Shadow spells and higher-level polymorphs would be fine though.

I have not delved too far into this subject, but I am curious just how badly this would bork the game as we know it. Or hopefully, it might just be a playable house-rule.


I see this change as unnecessary, as I personally have yet to see a character ruin a game. Using a powerful spellcaster to do so is a problem derived from the player, not the character class. The GM is not helpless in this matter either.


Humor me and treat it as a thought-exercise then.


You would still have access to any spells you wanted through scrolls, though it would be a little more costly. This is pretty much what spontaneous casters do already anyway. I see a problem though. The only divine caster allowed would be Oracle. The scarcity of divine spellcasting could cause some problems in your world. If you are going for a fairly low magic world though where not many people have Scribe Scroll, Brew Potion, etc, then your idea would successfully portray that.


I don't think it would bork the game.

The power of prepared caster comes to the fore when they a. have a good spellbook, b. know what's coming and c. have time to prepare. So in my view it's easier to manage them by limiting these things than to houserule.

HOWEVER that is not what you are asking. Essentially most low level casters would have a few good spells they could repeat - the parameters of magic would be much more predictable and manageable - and perhaps more, well, *magical*.

Likewise limiting the number of spells players have will cause them to think more about their casting and penalise poor tactical decisions. In short the game will become more dangerous.

Would players like that? Some would some wouldn't - I personally think casters are too dominant and am also putting work in along this line of thought (consider no bonus spells derived from a stat as well).

Good luck.


the Rogue Glory people (dude?) has a new magic system that t/he/y is trying to get kickstarter'd that meshes with the OP's concern (methinks)


Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
I have not delved too far into this subject, but I am curious just how badly this would bork the game as we know it. Or hopefully, it might just be a playable house-rule.

Read the Cleric spell list.

Now look at the Oracle spells known table.

Now read the bestiary.

Or I'll save you the trouble: The cleric spell list is designed with the assumption that players will have access to the whole list.

Unless you remove curses, diseases, permanent blindness/deafness, paralysis, ability damage, ability drain, and all those other nasty things that you need to be able to fix from the game you pretty much need prepared casters. Either a cleric or witch that is allowed to buy spells pretty freely will do, but any spontaneous caster will leave gaps in her coverage.

If you want to redesign the spell lists so that they don't have rarely used but critical utility spells, say by folding the remove line into the cure line, you can consider cutting prepared casters, but with the current spell lists that's not a good idea.


I've been thinking about a setting with only Spont Casters; it will make certain spells very rare as the number of high level casters (low) and number of spells they know (low) means it will be all but impossible to find scrolls of most spells above 5th level other than the most likely candidates (powerful attack and healing spells).

On the other hand, high level specialists in certain magics can charge far more because of this scarcity.

I'd say allow Wish and Limited Wish to remain in place. They have a costly material component that limits their abuse and allows the spont caster to have at least some versatility in an emergency. I'd remove Rods of Metamagic though, so that casters actually take Metamagic Feats.

Not sure if you end up with more unique spellcasters, however. There's a strong impetus to take those 'most effective' spells and a lot of them will end up looking straight out of the cookie-cutter. On the other hand, those will be the most easily found scrolls for the same reason, so there's room to branch out.


i have a time line in my game where this happens fluff wise a church has hunted down every caster and burned them (biggest witch hunt ever) so the only casters are those whom do not chose to be oracles and sorcerers which are also hunted down as they are born. it levels out to be a every low magic campaign fighting mostly humanoids hiding any magic the party gets from the church. it was fun, my players really like that part of the time line.


I am working on something similar at the moment. I want to create more of a thematic distinction between arcane and divine magic, so in my campaign there will be only prepared arcane casters and only spontaneous divine casters. That gives us:

Arcane: Alchemist, Magus, Witch, Wizard

Divine: Bard, Inquisitor, Oracle, and Shaman (Kobold Press version)

Clerics, druids, paladins, and sorcerors are gone. Rangers remain but as a non-spellcasting class (Skirmisher archetype by default - I'm in two minds whether or not to allow other non-casting archetypes)

I'm anticipating that Witches and Alchemists will have to step up to the plate and shoulder some of the burden of removing specific conditions (and to a lesser extent dishing out cures as well). That is going to significantly change both party dynamics and the society in which they operate - between alchemists and witches with the Cauldron hex, cure and/or remove ... arcane "healing" potions are going to be far more readily available than the equivalent spells from the various temples. Since the general population will be turning to arcane casters for their ills, the temples are going to have to find a new niche to fill in society...

Shadow Lodge

rainzax wrote:
the Rogue Glory people (dude?) has a new magic system that t/he/y is trying to get kickstarter'd that meshes with the OP's concern (methinks)

Pledged! Awesome, thanks!

Given my love of spont casters, dotting this thread for continued perusal.


You wouldn't be playing the same game any more.

Prepared spell casters are 2 of the 4 core classes that are the foundation of the hobby. There are plenty of games that have only spontaneous spell casting. This isn't one of them.

Shadow Lodge

I disagree. I've had plenty of parties without prepared casters in them. They function no different than a party with. Granted it helps that I houserule spont casters to advance on-par with prepared rather than the irritating and pointless delayed-by-one-level paradigm that the game seems to saddle them with.


@ Robert A Mattews: There would still be inquisitors as well.

@ Artalost: I understand your concern and that is something I will take into consideration. At the same time, I've seen plenty of non-pfs campaigns do just fine with no cleric in the party. And if one was super paranoid about that list of conditions, the Life mystery offers most of them as bonus spells.

@ Helic: I've never had any experience with those spells, so I'll need feedback from others about whether they would break things or not. I'll keep the question of leaving them in open.

@ Rod Millard: That sounds like a fun system, good luck with it.


What's in the party is not relevant to the tradition of the game. I could make a party of all rogues and I would still be playing D&D/PF because wizards and clerics exist in the game. They are an option that can be taken and are classes that could be encountered from NPCs.

I was just stating that certain changes to the game would depart so far from the core that you would essentially no longer be playing that game. If you don't have wizards/rogues/fighters/clerics then are you really playing D&D/PF anymore? I feel the answer is no. Hence my post.

The level delay for spontaneous casters isn't pointless. It's to counterbalance the power of having more spells per day and not having to do any prep. House ruling away this limitation certainly takes away much of the coolness of the prepared casters.

Shadow Lodge

Democratus wrote:

I was just stating that certain changes to the game would depart so far from the core that you would essentially no longer be playing that game. If you don't have wizards/rogues/fighters/clerics then are you really playing D&D/PF anymore? I feel the answer is no. Hence my post.

The level delay for spontaneous casters isn't pointless. It's to counterbalance the power of having more spells per day and not having to do any prep. House ruling away this limitation certainly takes away much of the coolness of the prepared casters.

I'd debate these with you but there's no point. We disagree too dramatically. We aren't going to agree on this so might as well stop before it becomes an argument =)


Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
Humor me and treat it as a thought-exercise then.

In that case, it would be fine. It would be like removing any group of character classes. Others can still cover the bases. However, if someone wanted to hire a spellcaster, there could be some difficulty, as a cleric or wizard will have access to a greater number of spells than a spontaneous caster. You could simply hand waive that away though.


Darigaaz: I've done this as part of Rise. You will need a way to provide access to all of the spell effects (Remove Disease, etc.) which assume the existence of prepared casting. I found the best way to do this (and solve a variety of other problems) was to split off those effects into "rituals". Rituals always require material components, are written in a ritual book instead of taken as spells known, and always have reasonably long (1 minute or more) casting times. That provides access to the situational utility effects that casters need while still allowing a fully spontaneous system.


Typically, someone at this point jumps in and says something like "I would never play in a campaign that doesn't let you play any of the core classes you like". It is a pattern I have noticed, and honestly don't understand.


Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
@ Artalost: I understand your concern and that is something I will take into consideration. At the same time, I've seen plenty of non-pfs campaigns do just fine with no cleric in the party. And if one was super paranoid about that list of conditions, the Life mystery offers most of them as bonus spells.

No it doesn't. It has the restorations, but it doesn't have any of the removes except neutralize poison.

Starting at fifth level a cleric can leave a third level slot open and if she needs to remove blindness/deafness, disease, or a curse she can have the spell ready in 15 minutes. Even if she has to wait a day for the spell it's faster than going back to town and less than the onset time of many diseases.

An sixth level life oracle can only know one remove spell and it's her only third level spell known besides CCW and neutralize poison. They do get neutralize poison early, but since they're so poorly off for level 3 spells known I'm not sure it's a bonus. At seventh level oracle can still only cast two of the level 3 removes. At eighth level they don't get another. It's not until level nine that the life oracle can have all the removes, and they constitute all of his third level spells known.

Second level spells aren't so bad. There's only one remove at that level and lesser restoration is the bonus, but that's all an oracle's second level spells at level 4.

So, here's a scenario. At level six the party encounters a CR 5 mummy. This should be an easy encounter. A challenging encounter could use them a mooks. Mummy Rot is both a curse and a disease. The cleric can cure it. Before it takes effect if he's expecting it or before it triggers a second time if he left two slots open. The oracle can't cure mummy rot at level six no matter what her spell choices. Mummies don't show up in every adventure, but you can hardly claim they're not a classic monster and oracles cannot be prepared until they're 2 APL above the mummy's CR and that's at the expense of being able to do much anything else.


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Democratus wrote:

You wouldn't be playing the same game any more.

Prepared spell casters are 2 of the 4 core classes that are the foundation of the hobby. There are plenty of games that have only spontaneous spell casting. This isn't one of them.

D20 is nowhere near the foundation of the hobby anyway. Not sure keeping an illusionary resemblance to AD&D when the rules make play completely different really matters much.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

One thing you will have to consider is the price of scrolls. It will go up as spontaneous casters generally get them at a later level (therefore you will need a higher caster level to figure into the cost equations).

A compromise you might want to consider is just banning the primary prepared spellcasters (wizard, cleric, witch, druid) and leave the secondary/tertiary prepared casters alone (alchemist, magus, ranger, and paladin). I've heard less of these classes becoming out of control due to their spell selection than the primary prepared casters. Their spell lists tend to be more limited and controllable, IMO. And a lot of the problematic spells (teleport, etc) kick in at a later level if they're on these spell lists at all. The alchemist could also alleviate many of the issues of a missing cleric too.


Expect to see a lot of human sorcerers(arcane) with racial heritage half-elf.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
+5 Toaster wrote:
Expect to see a lot of human sorcerers(arcane) with racial heritage half-elf.

I believe he already ruled out Paragon Surge.


I've done it before, but in 3.5 where there were more substitutions for the prep casters. You might need to dig through some 3rd party materials for additional class options.


Honestly, I think it would be a pretty good idea, in most "traditional" games where people go into the dungeon and follow the story line like good little players are "supposed" to do. Limit casters to spontaneous-only choices, and remove a few problem spells from the lists, and the core game might actually function better for that than it does now.


Darigaaz the Igniter wrote:
I have not delved too far into this subject, but I am curious just how badly this would bork the game as we know it. Or hopefully, it might just be a playable house-rule.

I do believe it would work just as good as RaW, but the setting would be heavily altered.

I see such as setting geared either toward a low(er) magic setting, or toward a setting rich in potions and scrolls. It would be conceivable that a strong economy of potion-making and scroll-scribing would emerge to palliate the issue of narrow-spell selection, with different guilds or castes of battle sorcerers, healing-oracles, practical-magic court sorcerers etc.

This could be a lot of fun, but I'm not sure it would solve the perceive issue that prompted the ban on prepared casters in the first place.

'findel

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