Alternative Spellcasting in D&D (any edition) - RPG Crossing
RPG Crossing Home Forums Create An Account! Site Rules & Help

RPG Crossing
Go Back   RPG Crossing > Discussions > House Rules
twitter facebook

Notices

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 02-29-2020, 05:57 PM
StevetheNPC's Avatar
StevetheNPC StevetheNPC is offline
Juvenile Dragon
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-02-2020
RPXP: 100
StevetheNPC StevetheNPC
Posts: 38
Alternative Spellcasting in D&D (any edition)

So I've been thinking of ways to implement an alternative to the "fire and forget" and "spell slot" systems of the various editions of D&D. "What do you mean I only get one 1st level spell each day?? Sheesh." Has anyone ever tried to do something like this? How did you approach it?

I've always liked the spellcasting system in Shadowrun, where you can cast spells all day long, but each time you do you run the risk of hurting yourself due to the backlash of manipulating mana. Mechanically, each time you cast a spell (by making a spellcasting skill test) you roll a Drain Resistance test (whether the spellcasting test was successful or not), trying to roll a number of successes equal to or greater than the force of the spell, which is chosen by the spell caster before they attempt to cast it. The outcome of this can range from no damage, to minor (stun) damage or major (physical) damage. It is possible to die while casting a spell, if the force of the spell is very high.

So how could you implement something like this is D&D? I'd like to come up with something that could work with any edition of D&D. To steal directly from Shadowrun, maybe you could roll an Intelligence check to successfully cast the spell, modified by the caster level and level of the spell, followed by a Constitution check to determine if the caster resists the mana drain caused by the spell?

Spellcasting test (1d20): Target Number <= Intelligence Score + Caster Level - Spell Level
Drain Resistance test (1d20): Target number <= Constitution Score + Caster Level - Spell Level
Drain Damage: The HP damage applied equals the number rolled minus the target number; negative numbers are ignored


But this doesn't exactly model the Shadowrun spellcasting rules, as the dice pool for the Drain Resistance test in Shadowrun is based on the character's mental stats of Willpower + Logic, Charisma or Intuition. Also it would severely penalize a spell caster that has a very low Constitution score in D&D.

So maybe just a single Intelligence check for success/failure, with a failure dealing HP damage equal to the amount the roll failed by?

I also worry about the "swingy-ness" of rolling a d20, which can produce widely varying results. Maybe rolling 3d6 instead to produce more of a bell curve probability?

Also, overall does this make spellcasting way too powerful? Or is that mitigated by the chance of the spell caster taking themselves out when casting a spell?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 02-29-2020, 09:07 PM
telcontar's Avatar
telcontar telcontar is offline
Destroyer of Dreams
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-03-2020
RPXP: 1136
telcontar telcontar telcontar telcontar telcontar telcontar telcontar telcontar telcontar
Posts: 395
Personally, I think 5E has largely resolved this issue by allowing the unlimited casting of cantrips.

I'm also very wary of altering mechanics in a game like D&D. The game is playtested to within an inch or two of a TPK as it is. Making big changes without playtesting may tip it over the edge.

Or worse, it may make spellcasters so powerful that combat becomes trivial and they overwhelmingly dominate the game.

However, if you wanted to try something like you're suggesting, I think a PbP forum like this is the place to do it. Just state in your game ad that the game will contain untested mechanics. Or, better still, frame the ad as wanting players to help playtest the changes.
__________________
Currently playing in Guardians of Taro Town and After the Quake.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 03-01-2020, 06:42 AM
Phettberg's Avatar
Phettberg Phettberg is offline
Use your words
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-03-2020
RPXP: 11464
Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg Phettberg
Posts: 6,683
I agree with telcontar that D&D would be carefully playtested (as most system will be), so changing one thing most likely has a rippling effect on everything else.

To me the obvious solution is this: You don't like the spellcasting system of D&D, why not try another system? Now I know d20 is what a lot of people know and love, which is why you see so many homebrew or professional adaptations trying to fit the system to almost every other setting or playing around with the mechanics instead of going for alternate systems (which may have been specifically designed to do a thing the gm in question wants, but that's on another leaf). But sometimes a system only bends so much before it breaks.

Shadowrun does have a fantasy counterpart (Earthdawn), which has the same spellcasting system as far as I am aware and all the other components fit to match with it. So adapting the fluff of Earthdawn to a D&D setting is probably easier unless you want to delve deeply into game design and balancing. And then again you could always just play vanilla Earthdawn, which is supposedly very interesting in its own right. I'm afraid I've only ever played the cyberpunk.

Last edited by Phettberg; 03-01-2020 at 06:42 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 03-01-2020, 09:52 PM
StevetheNPC's Avatar
StevetheNPC StevetheNPC is offline
Juvenile Dragon
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-02-2020
RPXP: 100
StevetheNPC StevetheNPC
Posts: 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by telcontar View Post
Personally, I think 5E has largely resolved this issue by allowing the unlimited casting of cantrips.
As has 4E to some extent with "at will" and "encounter" powers, but I was thinking more along the lines of something that could work with any edition of D&D, including (and especially) B/X or AD&D. Hence why I thought maybe using an existing mechanic, like the Intelligence ability score, which exists across all of the various editions of D&D.

Quote:
Originally Posted by telcontar View Post
I'm also very wary of altering mechanics in a game like D&D.
<snip>
Or worse, it may make spellcasters so powerful that combat becomes trivial and they overwhelmingly dominate the game.
Me too, that's why I was hoping to draw on the experiences of other people who may have tried something along these lines.

Quote:
Originally Posted by telcontar View Post
However, if you wanted to try something like you're suggesting, I think a PbP forum like this is the place to do it.
Agreed! I think PBP could be a good place to try and tinker with the rules a bit.

Thanks for the feedback!
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 03-01-2020, 10:10 PM
StevetheNPC's Avatar
StevetheNPC StevetheNPC is offline
Juvenile Dragon
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-02-2020
RPXP: 100
StevetheNPC StevetheNPC
Posts: 38
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phettberg View Post
To me the obvious solution is this: You don't like the spellcasting system of D&D, why not try another system?
Well, I've been doing that for nearly 40 years! It is hard to get a group of folks to try something other than D&D, and usually when they do they tend to want to move back to D&D eventually. DCC comes close, where a spellcaster can continue to cast a particular spell again if they did not fail their spell check - generally, there are some exceptions - but I think the "funky" dice (D30, D24, etc.) turn some people off and, ya know, it's not D&D so...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Phettberg View Post
Shadowrun does have a fantasy counterpart (Earthdawn), which has the same spellcasting system as far as I am aware and all the other components fit to match with it.
I believe Shadowrun and Earthdawn are only connected through the setting, and only by a very tenuous thread. Earthdawn exists in Shadowrun's past (the "Fourth" world to Shadowrun's "Sixth") , and a few of the NPCs exist in both settings. The system is quite different, and most discussions I've read about it over the years are people suggesting to transplant the Earthdawn setting into different systems.

Thanks for the discourse!
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 03-02-2020, 08:18 AM
Admin RonarsCorruption's Avatar
Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption is offline
Worldcrafter
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-02-2020
RPXP: 31950
Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption Admin RonarsCorruption
Posts: 34,255
Vancian magic (fire and forget) is mostly still a thing because that's how it was established in the first dnd sets.

Different magic systems represent different game feelings - and that should always be one of your first considerations. The shadowrun system is good for a gritty game where characters are constantly trying to push their limits, for example. If you wanted to simulate that, you might consider letting all spellcasters take Burn, like a kineticist, perhaps with spells doing 1/3 level rounded up in burn (so a 9th level spell gives 3 burn), with a concentration check made to reduce it?
__________________
I'm SO BUSY. I want to update more, but I've only got so many hours in a day.
Great Player || Great DM || Great Guy || Published Author|| Straight Path Games || Ronar's Twitter
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 03-02-2020, 09:43 PM
Admin Dirk's Avatar
Admin Dirk Admin Dirk is online now
Next year is Tampa!
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-03-2020
RPXP: 62476
Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk
Posts: 48,806
Another path might be to look at the problems you foresee with your idea, and add some mechanics to help...

if you are worried about casters tossing wish spells all day long, or teleports, or forcecages, etc., you can add a dynamic to increase the risk/cost... like a flesh golem getting a cumulative 1% to go crazy each round, maybe a 1%, 2%, 3% or 5% chance of a misfire (5% times the level of the spell being cast, perhaps). If you start with a low number (like 2%) and cast a 5th level spell, the chance of burn out, misfire, disaster, lock up, freezing, etc. is only 10% (the first time).

You can make it additive, or some other way to increase the chances the more and the higher level spells you cast.

Just some thoughts.
__________________
"Apparently dirkoth has it right..." -- Birched
Philatalist? PM me/Got a buck? Get my book./Remember the Post of the Month Contest
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 03-03-2020, 04:31 PM
Gaijin's Avatar
Gaijin Gaijin is offline
Σ͑͒͌̏̍͞҉̻͎̙͈̯͔͖̟
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-01-2020
RPXP: 9192
Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin
Posts: 6,688
Withdrawing this idea. While interesting, it would probably make tabletop play a nightmare, due to being unable to plan ahead, but a variation on it could be interesting.

 
__________________
>The Workshop: Tablemancy, Formatting, Tools
Posting Status: Slow (Graduate Research)

Last edited by Gaijin; 03-03-2020 at 06:59 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 03-04-2020, 07:25 AM
Admin Dirk's Avatar
Admin Dirk Admin Dirk is online now
Next year is Tampa!
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-03-2020
RPXP: 62476
Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk Admin Dirk
Posts: 48,806
And that issue is something WOTC (and every other game system) has struggled with too, Gaijin... the balance between pure imagination and strict rules.

DND all the way through 5th edition has been a search for the right dynamics... casting, power levels, rules, free play, imagination, structure... In general, writers know that a person who can do anything and overcome any obstacle is generally boring... Even superman had his weaknesses. Otherwise, if my PC can do everything... why bother? It just gets boring to save the world, flick a finger, save the world again. We need to struggle.

On the other hand, if it requires an understanding of the US Tax code to cast a spell to light a campfire... folks aren't going to play much. We want escape. We want to have power, but we don't want to have to work through the library of congress rule books to get it.

Good luck with your idea... you may have shelved it here, but it's still in your mind, percolating... and someday, you'll come up with a plan again. It's the curse of gamers, to never let an idea go to waste.
__________________
"Apparently dirkoth has it right..." -- Birched
Philatalist? PM me/Got a buck? Get my book./Remember the Post of the Month Contest
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 03-04-2020, 02:11 PM
Gaijin's Avatar
Gaijin Gaijin is offline
Σ͑͒͌̏̍͞҉̻͎̙͈̯͔͖̟
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 04-01-2020
RPXP: 9192
Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin Gaijin
Posts: 6,688
Yeah. The more I delve into Homebrew, the more I learn about how valuable certain mechanics are for enjoyable play.

Mechanically, the "Mana Die" is an elegant way to produce a scaling power curve, but I think it's important for players to know when and where they are likely to shine, so that they can anticipate and savor the moment. Too much unpredictability undermines the hero narrative since so much ends up relying on chance.

~~~

Ok, I've got a more practical option for the OP:

(1) Start with the Sorcerer's Spell Point mechanic.

(2) Add the ability "Arcane Regeneration".

Arcane RegenerationArcane Regeneration

The sorcerer can take an action to regain up to 3 spell points at a time. To do so, choose the number of points to be regenerated and roll a d4.

If the player rolls above the number of spell points, they regain the points with no adverse effects.
If the player rolls equal to or less than the number of spell points, they regain the points, but also take one level of exhaustion.

The exhaustion produced by this feature is magical in origin and can not be avoided, even if the player is otherwise immune or resistant to exhaustion.

As the caster reaches higher levels, they become less prone to exhaustion. The die increases accordingly: d4(4th), d6(8th), d8(12th), d10(16th), d12(20th)


This would allow casters to pull out a few extra spells, if absolutely necessary, but the penalties from exhaustion are significant enough that abuse would be very dangerous.

Note: Greater Restoration is a 5th level spell, so at 16th level the odds are in the favor of the player to "cheat" the system if they can get their hands on the spell. Thus, I would suggest saying that this "Magical Exhaustion" can only be removed by a long rest.

Quote:
Additional Notes:

This could also allow for more extreme results by allowing a caster to perform multiple regenerations simultaneously. Rolling multiple die per 3 spell points, so if they want to regenerate 18 points at once (6dX), there is a remote possibility that they instantly die.
__________________
>The Workshop: Tablemancy, Formatting, Tools
Posting Status: Slow (Graduate Research)

Last edited by Gaijin; 03-04-2020 at 05:08 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 03-25-2020, 09:11 AM
PHIL 490's Avatar
PHIL 490 PHIL 490 is offline
Rancidly Strange
 
Tools
User Statistics
Last Visit: 03-28-2020
RPXP: 343
PHIL 490 PHIL 490 PHIL 490 PHIL 490
Posts: 275
I had an idea where whenever a caster casts a spell, they roll a 1d6. On a 1-4, nothing bad happens. If they roll a 5-6, then they take 1d4 damage per level of the spell that they just cast. This system doesn't limit how often you can cast spells, it just makes it more dangerous.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off



All times are GMT -4. The time now is 06:28 PM.
Skin by Birched, making use of original art by paiute.( 2009-2012)


RPG Crossing, Copyright ©2003 - 2020, RPG Crossing Inc; powered by vBulletin, Copyright ©2000 - 2020, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd. Template-Modifications by TMB