Casting time + old school + melee balance - has anyone tried this...


Homebrew and House Rules


Given the recent 'ring of invisibility' threads I've been referencing my old 1st edition DMG quite a bit lately...

One thing that (I had forgotten) stuck out at me was the way spellcasting used to be handled - Casting a spell was never something completed on a wizards own initiative - they would begin the spell and then had to spend time casting it.

To keep people from having to pull out old books to reference here is the gist of it.

1st edition broke down time as thus:

Turn = 10 rounds
Round = 1 minute
Segment = 6 seconds.

There were 10 segments to a round - 10 rounds to a turn.

How it broke down for spellcasting (simplified) was as such:

Caster init = start casting, add cast time = segment spell is cast.

Melee init = roll + weapon speed. If this was a number in between the casters start and final number - a melee could attack the caster (and stop the spell instantly).

Now... to just get this off my chest - I like the concentration system I personally wouldn't change that - however I was curious if anyone has attempted a mix of the old school and new school to essentially bring melee/caster balance - considering the usual answer to this topic is to 'buff melee' I was curious if this approach of making casters slightly easier to disrupt has ever been brought up?

Proposal for a modification mixing old and new:

Spells take a casting time = to the level of the spell in initiative order - with the exception of spells that are already 1 round casting time which still require casting until the start of the casters next turn.

Example = Wizard casts a Magic missile - rolled a 14 on initiative - at count 14 he begins to cast - at count 13 the spell goes off (making almost no difference for a 1st level spell.

Example (2nd level) = Wizard casts invisiblity - rolled a 14 on initiative - at count 14 he begins to cast - at count 12 the spell goes off (allowing something to see the casting and react if they happen to have initiative count of 13).

Example (5th level) = Wizard casts a cloudkill - rolled a 14 on initiative - at count 14 he begins to cast - at count 9 the spell goes off meaning that there are 5 rounds someone could react to the casting.

Final adjustment - if the casting time lowers the imitative to 0 or lower - move those 'segments' into the next round starting at the top of the initiative order - this doesn't count as a 'spell cast this round' against the spellcaster.

This is the general idea - specific spells could be given a slower or faster cast time which could further allow balancing of the bigger super powered spells and or make some lesser used ones more valuable than they currently are - feats could be added to adjust casting time and such.... it would add a new danger to casting on the battlefield that currently doesn't exist....

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It won't change much, I would still rather cast a single spell that would end an encounter than waiting for bob the fighter to try to take down the big brute monster in three or so rounds. Even if all spells were full round action,...I would still cast them, ending the encounter in one spell is better than anything else.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If you're going to add spell casting time to initiative, then you should add weapon speed factors to initiative, and armor check penalties to initiative, and have multiple attacks occur later in the initiative order. Just to be fair.


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Queen Moragan wrote:
If you're going to add spell casting time to initiative, then you should add weapon speed factors to initiative, and armor check penalties to initiative, and have multiple attacks occur later in the initiative order. Just to be fair.

Because the most important thing when trying to limit casters is to make sure martials are limited even more.

It's only fair.


Queen Moragan wrote:
If you're going to add spell casting time to initiative, then you should add weapon speed factors to initiative, and armor check penalties to initiative, and have multiple attacks occur later in the initiative order. Just to be fair.

I'm not trying to be fair - I was curious if anyone had tried this - the intent of this type of rule would be a (very slight) nerf to casters - which would allow extra reaction time to try and disrupt a spell being cast.

In many (most) cases of combat I've run I expect this wouldn't really change much - however it would open up new tactics and make casting slightly more dangerous.

A side effect of this would be limiting a casters movement on the field (to move before cast) - which would also change tactics.

Casters still alter reality and in general have 'combat ends' options - but it would open the door to more chances at disruption - and make higher level spells be more dangerous to cast. There is a definite meta-game change that would take place and it would shift some balance of power to melee (more so the higher level everyone is - which is where the balance swings badly towards casters).

Or are you suggesting melee are balanced against casters level 10+ ?

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

It doesn't matter tho. Martials for all their complaints are still having the most fun in the game. True, they are weaker at level 10+, but considering that most campaigns don't go to level 20, seen most campaigns and AP included ends around level 14-15, Martials are useful for most of the game. Level 9-10 is when full spellcasters really outshine them but by that time, the campaign is nearly over anyway.


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

That WAS the gist of what WE did to add it to the game.

Additional rules were incorporated "just to keep it fair", because spellcasters complained, then the fighters complained, then the light armors complained, then the spellcasters complained again, yadda, yadda, yadda.

The end result of constant bickering leaves you with a system that is very much the same as it is now.

You would be better off using initiative modifiers like....
Spell level/2 (round down) = Init penalty
Light weapon = -0 Init penalty
1 handed weapon = -1 Init penalty
2 handed weapon = -2 Init penalty
No armor = -0 Init penalty
Light armor = -1 Init penalty
Medium armor = -2 Init penalty
Heavy armor = -3 Init penalty
Additional attacks occur at a cumulative -5 Init penalty
(continue initiative order into the negatives)

This simplification will be enough to irk everyone.

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