A Few Balance Changes I'm Considering

Stalker0

Adventurer
So having run several campaigns in 5e, there are a few houserules I am considering for my newest one. Part of this campaign will be that the party operates as team connected to a very powerful city (which even has access to 9th level spells). This means that certain spells that would normally be above the party's paygrade are available to them. Doesn't mean they get them like candy, but there is a reasonable expectation that certain high level "fixes" are out there when needed, especially in crucial moments. I want to curb a few of them, without outright removing them, to provide a little high level flair without having to think about how to thwart high level magic all of the time.

So here is the list.

1) Divination/Augury/Commune: Every time this spell is cast on the same subject per day, there is a 25% cumulative chance that you get no answer.

So the key change is this no longer applies to just a person casting, but EVERYONE. This means if you cast divination on a subject, and then ask your neighbor to cast, the cumulative chance adds up. This is so that divinations are still present but a little reigned in. I can sometimes let them work, sometimes that topic is so commonly divined that you don't get an answer. And it prevents a group of 5 wizards to just divination bomb a particular problem.


2) Gate: Effects that block divinations prevent a gate from pulling in a creature.

This is to give my big bads a little plot protection. Normally once a party learned a bad guys name, it would simply be a matter of getting a gate requested and then arresting or destroying the target at their convienence (again the city wouldn't do that willy nilly, but for a nasty notorius bad guy why wouldn't use cast such a spell). So this gives a few ways to counteract that.


3) Modify Memory: If the spell is cast 3 times on the same subject and involving the same memory, the effect because instantaneous and can't be removed.

One of the things about being an agent in such a powerful city, is you would expect them from time to time to get a routine remove curse/greater restoration cast on them. Especially a remove curse, it would be like getting your annual check up. So I want to ensure certain spells like modify memory can still hold up...but it takes some real effort to do it.


4) Geas: The damage is 5d10 psychic damage + 2 fatigue, and it occurs every time you violate the act (not just once per day). In order to remove a geas, you must cast a spell at a higher level than the geas was cast. When the geas is removed, you immediately take the damage one more time.

At higher levels, Geas adds +2d10 damage per level increased.


I like Geas, but I really want it to hurt. If you have a Geas as a medium to high level character, you are seriously going to think about it, as opposed to just "oh a little damage, cleric heal me up I am good for the day". So this is meant to be a very strong buff to what I think is a cool plot spell.


5) Dispel Magic: A dispel magic check automatically fails against a spell 3 or more levels higher than the dispel.

This is actually an issue I have from my previous campaigns as well. It is way too easy for mid level parties to dispel any magic effect that have with enough casts. "There is a tomb protected by a 9th level effect!" "No problem, just give me a few casts of dispel and we will take care of it".

I don't mind dispels going a little above their pay grade, but the idea that a base dispel from a 5th level character can take out 9th level spells from a 20th level one is just a bit too much for me.


6) Counterspell: Removed

There are a lot of comments on the boards about counterspell and its power. At the end of day, I just find it unfun. Its unfun when the few spellcasters I run get neutered by one of the party, because I get maybe 3 rounds in a 5e combat and one of them is a waste of time. Its unfun for the players when they see an enemy wizard and know that one of them is going to lose their turn due to counterspell.

I think the game gains more than it loses by the removal of this spell.



So let me know your thoughts about these.
 
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Saelorn

Adventurer
These changes are fairly small and well-considered. I don't think they would hurt anything, and have the potential to improve play significantly (particularly Counterspell).

The only change that might be going too far is the Geas one, but I have no idea how that spell is used at your table. Fatigue is deadly in this edition.
 

TwoSix

Lover of things you hate
Good changes. I definitely need to think about the counterspell one, as my current game is a higher level game with multiple casters in the party. I'm already running into some "bogging down" issues caused by counterspell.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
1) Divination/Augury/Commune: Every time this spell is cast on the same subject per day, there is a 25% cumulative chance that you get no answer.

So the key change is this no longer applies to just a person casting, but EVERYONE. This means if you cast divination on a subject, and then ask your neighbor to cast, the cumulative chance adds up. This is so that divinations are still present but a little reigned in. I can sometimes let them work, sometimes that topic is so commonly divined that you don't get an answer. And it prevents a group of 5 wizards to just divination bomb a particular problem.
Big problem with this is how many casters in the world might divine this particular topic? This would quite literally neuter divination spells, since they would immediately be considered unreliable (no one could know the percent chance of failure). In addition, smart players will find ways around this by simply working around the topic with different topics. Also, I assume you mean 5 clerics, since Wizards don't naturally have this spell.

I've found that augury is more useful for the DM to keep the party on track than ruin plots. Divination is seldom cast more than 1/day due to any chance of failure giving random information. Commune is the same way. Finally, if these divinations are overused, you can have a servant of the deity communicated with show up and tell them to "shut up!"

2) Gate: Effects that block divinations prevent a gate from pulling in a creature.

This is to give my big bads a little plot protection. Normally once a party learned a bad guys name, it would simply be a matter of getting a gate requested and then arresting or destroying the target at their convienence (again the city wouldn't do that willy nilly, but for a nasty notorius bad guy why wouldn't use cast such a spell). So this gives a few ways to counteract that.
How do you request a Gate spell? Most casters aren't powerful enough to even be able to cast it (maybe 1% of all casters get to 17th level), and those that can have far better things to do! In addition, this only matters if your target is an extra-planar being, and likely they will have the ability to simply return home (maybe after pummeling the PCs for a round).

4) Geas: The damage is 5d10 psychic damage + 2 fatigue, and it occurs every time you violate the act (not just once per day). In order to remove a geas, you must cast a spell at a higher level than the geas was cast. When the geas is removed, you immediately take the damage one more time.

At higher levels, Geas adds +2d10 damage per level increased.


I like Geas, but I really want it to hurt. If you have a Geas as a medium to high level character, you are seriously going to think about it, as opposed to just "oh a little damage, cleric heal me up I am good for the day". So this is meant to be a very strong buff to what I think is a cool plot spell.
I would rather lower the damage each day, but prevent it from healing. This makes the long term effect slower to accumulate, but eventually lethal. That's how it was in older editions, and that's how I see it working best.


5) Dispel Magic: A dispel magic check automatically fails against a spell 3 or more levels higher than the dispel.

This is actually an issue I have from my previous campaigns as well. It is way too easy for mid level parties to dispel any magic effect that have with enough casts. "There is a tomb protected by a 9th level effect!" "No problem, just give me a few casts of dispel and we will take care of it".

I don't mind dispels going a little above their pay grade, but the idea that a base dispel from a 5th level character can take out 9th level spells from a 20th level one is just a bit too much for me.
I can understand this. Personally I think the DC of the caster should be taken into consideration, not just the level of the spell. Not sure how I do it then. Your option works fine.


6) Counterspell: Removed

There are a lot of comments on the boards about counterspell and its power. At the end of day, I just find it unfun. Its unfun when the few spellcasters I run get neutered by one of the party, because I get maybe 3 rounds in a 5e combat and one of them is a waste of time. Its unfun for the players when they see an enemy wizard and know that one of them is going to lose their turn due to counterspell.

I think the game gains more than it loses by the removal of this spell.
Eh, counterspell makes reactions more important. I've seen a turn with 3 counterspells cast, where an NPC cast, PC countered, NPC countered, then other PC countered. The other casters knew that no more counters would be coming, which opened things up. The removal of it makes casters a bit stronger, since their spells can't be stopped, but not significantly. YMMV.
 

Eubani

Explorer
I was hoping this thread would be about archery.
Just for you [MENTION=6801328]Elfcrusher[/MENTION] I change abilities that ignore cover bonuses to reduce AC by 2. This gives them some benefit whilst making cover still desirable. I have been thinking about but yet to make the leap of bringing Archery fighting style in line with duelling and other styles by making it +2 damage instead of to hit. Useful but not overriding the usefulness of everything else.
 

Elfcrusher

Adventurer
Just for you [MENTION=6801328]Elfcrusher[/MENTION] I change abilities that ignore cover bonuses to reduce AC by 2. This gives them some benefit whilst making cover still desirable. I have been thinking about but yet to make the leap of bringing Archery fighting style in line with duelling and other styles by making it +2 damage instead of to hit. Useful but not overriding the usefulness of everything else.
That's a start. I was thinking:
- Disadvantage on attack roll if shooting at target that is within 5' of a conscious enemy (in other words, it's really hard to hit somebody who is actively engaged in melee combat)
- Shooting within 5' of an enemy provokes opportunity attack
 

Eubani

Explorer
That's a start. I was thinking:
- Disadvantage on attack roll if shooting at target that is within 5' of a conscious enemy (in other words, it's really hard to hit somebody who is actively engaged in melee combat)
- Shooting within 5' of an enemy provokes opportunity attack
The question is how far is too far?
 

dnd4vr

Adventurer
5) Dispel Magic: A dispel magic check automatically fails against a spell 3 or more levels higher than the dispel.

This is actually an issue I have from my previous campaigns as well. It is way too easy for mid level parties to dispel any magic effect that have with enough casts. "There is a tomb protected by a 9th level effect!" "No problem, just give me a few casts of dispel and we will take care of it".

I don't mind dispels going a little above their pay grade, but the idea that a base dispel from a 5th level character can take out 9th level spells from a 20th level one is just a bit too much for me.
Here are the changes I would make (adds a bit of complexity to the RAW though):

1. The DC 10 plus two times the spell level of the spell your are trying to dispel.
2. For each spell level of the slot used to cast Dispel Magic above 3rd, reduce the DC by 1.
3. A spellcasting check is required for 1-3rd levels spells as well (it isn't automatic).
4. If you fail on the check to dispel, you can only try again using a higher-level slot.

This way, to dispel an equal-level spell will usually be around 50/50 (11 or higher). Of course, with min/maxers who have a higher spellcasting modifier at lower levels, the chances are slightly better.

dispel.png

At 5th-level, the max modifier would be +8, so the character would need a 20 on the roll (much better than the DC 19 and only needing an 11 or higher, huh?).

A 17th-level character casting Dispel Magic using a 9th-level slot would reduce the DC by 6. If that character had a +11 mod, they would still need an 11 or higher (50/50) to Dispel an opponent's 9th-level spell.

This way, the 5th-level character at least has a chance to break a 9th-level spell, and if they fail cannot try again because they would need to cast Dispel Magic as a 4th-level spell (which they don't have yet). The higher level character can try using a lower spell slot version, and try again with higher-level slots if they fail, allowing them repeated attempts but at a cost.

We have kept Counterspell, but it works the same.

EDIT: Adding a second option for your consideration.

A simpler option using RAW would be to modify the check for every level of difference between the Dispel Magic spell slot and the target spell slot. So, the 5th-level PC casting Dispel Magic (3rd-level slot obviously) against a 9th-level spell would have a -6 penalty. With the +8 spellcasting modifier against a DC 19 (RAW) check, they would only get an effect +2 after the -6 penalty. The chances of success would be higher than my first suggestion (17 or higher vs. a nat 20 only), but better than RAW. Also, this could work in the PC's favor. If they cast Dispel Magic with a 6th-level slot against a 3rd-level target spell, they would get a +3 bonus. This however means there is no automatic dispelling still.
 
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Quartz

Explorer
Here are the changes I would make (adds a bit of complexity to the RAW though):
How about applying the KISS principle: if you Dispel or Counterspell using a slot X or more levels lower you apply Disadvantage to the roll. IPOF right now there seems to be no actual benefit to using a higher spell slot if you need to roll.
 

DMMike

Game Masticator
So having run several campaigns in 5e, there are a few houserules I am considering for my newest one. Part of this campaign will be that the party operates as team connected to a very powerful city (which even has access to 9th level spells). This means that certain spells that would normally be above the party's paygrade are available to them. Doesn't mean they get them like candy, but there is a reasonable expectation that certain high level "fixes" are out there when needed, especially in crucial moments.
Some things you might want to consider (and some you probably already know):

- Murphy's Law of GMing states that players will always do what you don't expect them to do. The only protection against this is Rule Zero, which should be used prudently.

- While players can do the unexpected in the real world, magic can do the unexpected in-game. Opening up 9th-level spells (or any magic, really) to greater than one-off frequency is likely to warp societies beyond any reasonable expectations. Which is fine as long as your players come from the Harry Potter school of fantasy...

- If NPCs are casting the spells, and not your PCs, you don't need rules for those spells. If a player says, "hey! That's not in the book!", you might remind the player that your NPCs don't have copies of the PHB. They must be using other spellbooks.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
Here are the changes I would make (adds a bit of complexity to the RAW though):

1. The DC 10 plus two times the spell level of the spell your are trying to dispel.
2. For each spell level of the slot used to cast Dispel Magic above 3rd, reduce the DC by 1.
3. A spellcasting check is required for 1-3rd levels spells as well (it isn't automatic).
4. If you fail on the check to dispel, you can only try again using a higher-level slot.
This is a very solid idea. One way to simplify it a bit is to put dispel magics modifier back on the caster.

Dispel Magic: Gain +1 to the spellcasting modifier for every level above 3rd.


Math is exactly the same as yours, but now you can have set DCs and let the caster do the math when they are deciding what level to cast the dispel. It also gives them a greater feeling of control, "I" am getting a bonus by upgraded "my" spell.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
Here is one other counterspell concept that came from one of my players. The idea here is to let counterspell be a "stop the caster from casting this round" but without the super painful "you lose your turn and a spell".

So its great to hold off the wizard without crippling them.


Counterspell

Action: Reaction
Target: One creature within 60 feet that begins casting a spell.

Effect: Make an opposed spellcasting roll with the target. On a success, the target is unable to cast spells or magic item that cast spells until the beginning of your next round. The target does not lose any spells and can take any other actions as normal.

Upgrade: No upgrade options.

Action: Reaction
Target: One creature within 60 feet that begins casting a spell.

Effect: Make an opposed spellcasting roll with the target. On a success, the target is unable to cast spells or magic item that cast spells until the beginning of your next round. The target does not lose any spells and can take any other actions as normal.

Upgrade: No upgrade options.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
In general I think these charges are well considered, with minimal ripple effects, and supportive of the style fo campaign you are running.

I do have comments on two of them:
1) Divination/Augury/Commune: Every time this spell is cast on the same subject per day, there is a 25% cumulative chance that you get no answer.
Does this mean that organizations with access to several casters (or just one high level one) can intentionally keep everything hazy for anyone else by just casting this about things they don't want others to know about?

Also, the 25% seems to be there to avoid comparing several different paths for the best result. Changing the failure to by subject would allow other subjects to be explored with certainty. High level casters with non-adventuring days on their hands can cast a lot of spells.

This I think has ripples about how it would actually affect the world that I don't think fit your goal.

5) Dispel Magic: A dispel magic check automatically fails against a spell 3 or more levels higher than the dispel.

This is actually an issue I have from my previous campaigns as well. It is way too easy for mid level parties to dispel any magic effect that have with enough casts. "There is a tomb protected by a 9th level effect!" "No problem, just give me a few casts of dispel and we will take care of it".

I don't mind dispels going a little above their pay grade, but the idea that a base dispel from a 5th level character can take out 9th level spells from a 20th level one is just a bit too much for me.
This works for me. Just to point out an alternative I've seen - once a caster has failed a dispel against something, they don't get a chance to succeed until they have gained a (caster) level.

So you would always have a chance, but you can't just spam them waiting for a good roll.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
Does this mean that organizations with access to several casters (or just one high level one) can intentionally keep everything hazy for anyone else by just casting this about things they don't want others to know about?
Yep, and this was a very intentional consequence.
 

Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
Yep, and this was a very intentional consequence.
Okay, if it's going to be used this way, then I'm against it.

It totally negates someone using a resource if will always come back with "Reply hazy, ask again later". That's not fair to the players. Better not to have the spell at all so they don't spend the slot.

And when you're casting a 5th level spell to directly talk to your deity or their divine proxy, and they leave you hanging because some other caster talked to some other god they oppose - that makes no in game sense either.

When intentionally used like this it feels like saying to the players: "if you spend a resource, you're going to get screwed, but you enemies can spend a resource and find out all about you because they have more casters. Oh, and it makes in narrative sense, it's just a mechanics element to screw you".
 

Aridon

Villager
Hi Stalker0,
Great thoughts! Can you tag this thread as 5E?

The whole board is kinda a mess now that all D&D threads are mixed.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen... Be nice plz n_n
- If NPCs are casting the spells, and not your PCs, you don't need rules for those spells. If a player says, "hey! That's not in the book!", you might remind the player that your NPCs don't have copies of the PHB. They must be using other spellbooks.
This is immersion breaking. I mean unless you allow your PCs to get their hands on the NPCs spellbook?
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
Okay, if it's going to be used this way, then I'm against it.

It totally negates someone using a resource if will always come back with "Reply hazy, ask again later". That's not fair to the players. Better not to have the spell at all so they don't spend the slot.

And when you're casting a 5th level spell to directly talk to your deity or their divine proxy, and they leave you hanging because some other caster talked to some other god they oppose - that makes no in game sense either.

When intentionally used like this it feels like saying to the players: "if you spend a resource, you're going to get screwed, but you enemies can spend a resource and find out all about you because they have more casters. Oh, and it makes in narrative sense, it's just a mechanics element to screw you".
What if it didn't use the spell slot? Back in the old days when we had to pay long distance for phone calls, you didn't pay if you didn't connect .. so if you get the deity equivalent of a busy signal, no loss.
 

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