D&D 5E Alternative magic systems for 5e? [+]

Fanaelialae

Legend
Half baked idea.
All non cantrips are cast via hit dice. You have to roll above three times the spell level using Hit Dice to cast. Fail to roll above? You take exhaustion and lose the hit dice. Tie, no exhaustion, but you lose the HD. Roll above? You cast successfully.

Level two and want to cast fireball? Roll your 2d6 and try to get higher than 9.
Interesting idea, but I'm not sure that would scale all that well. By level 10, there would be no risk when casting fireball. By level 4, there would be no risk when casting 1st level spells (some of which, like Shield, retain their value even at higher levels). Even before those breakpoints, you'd quickly reach a point where there's fairly low risk. For example, a 6th level caster casting fireball would need to roll nothing but 1s and 2s on 6 dice (and even then they would need at least three 1s) to fail, which isn't very likely. On the other hand, a 1st level mage would have a whopping 50% chance to fail to cast and lose the HD, and a 33% chance to also gain exhaustion, which seems a bit excessive.

It seems to me like this idea would encourage casters to stick to their lower level spells, but make it far easier for them to spam those spells at will.
 

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Pedantic

Legend
I've got a player at my table who's really enamored with the system from Paranormal Power, which is psionic flavored but obviously fungible.

You know a relatively small set of spells that you can use at will, but they all have mix and match stronger versions or expanded effects available. To use those you essentially have to risk dice from a limited pool. You roll them when you cast, and lose access to any of them that get a 1 or 2, but add a new die back if you get the highest value on the die.
 

CreamCloud0

One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
For noncombat spells, it depends a lot on where you want to draw the lines of "Level X characters can do Y."

Speak With Dead, for example, could be made available -- at-will or otherwise -- at 1st level, or 9th, or 17th. From a mechanical balance perspective, it doesn't much matter. It's more a question of worldbuilding and adventure design. How rare should this power be? When should DMs have to start accounting for it? That's more a matter of taste than balance.

For straight-up damage spells, on the other hand, you could work out a mechanical answer by calculating roughly how much damage a PC of level X should be able to do, then adjust the spell's damage and AoE for the level where you want it.

The trickiest spells are the ones that mix combat and utility applications, like Fly.
i think you're still missing the point of the statement/inquiry i was making, if all spells and spell lists would remain the same for any given caster and all that would be modified is their access to the number of spells they can have prepared/know if they can cast them infinitely.

like if theoretically a 11th level caster could only prepare PB+casting Mod number of spell levels (assuming 9 levels(pb 4+mod 5)) and they prepared disintergrate(6th), shield(1st) and enhance ability(2nd) would the fact they only knew 3 spells make up for the fact they can cast them infinitely
 


Dausuul

Legend
i think you're still missing the point of the statement/inquiry i was making, if all spells and spell lists would remain the same for any given caster and all that would be modified is their access to the number of spells they can have prepared/know if they can cast them infinitely.

like if theoretically a 11th level caster could only prepare PB+casting Mod number of spell levels (assuming 9 levels(pb 4+mod 5)) and they prepared disintergrate(6th), shield(1st) and enhance ability(2nd) would the fact they only knew 3 spells make up for the fact they can cast them infinitely
In that case, I think you would have to constrain PCs to 1st- and 2nd-level spells until very high level. At-will Fireball, dealing full damage in its full AoE, is just way too strong. At-will Disintegrate would be OP as hell at any level.
 

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
The ritualist had got something like focus points, and the magic spells could be better according certain circustances, for example fire magic would be more powerful in dry zones, and water magic would be better if the ritualist is on the water, for example.
Interesting. Thanks.

Moving it to both players and normal npcs can add concepts like interrupting an action and makes things like taking the dodge action or cover more valuable.
My inner Jackie Chan and Errol Flynn approve of that.

Sounds like you're looking for something like Spheres of Power
Ooh! Yes, it does indeed. Thanks!
 

Here are the basic ethos of other magic systems, which mostly fit your "no slots/no points" approach.

Shadowrun : you permanently learn a spell and casting it causes damage to the caster proportionate to the spell power BUT the caster can "save" vs casting damage. Some magic items increase casting power or casting saves or create a pool that does both. More skilled casters have better saves so they can throw stronger spells with less risk. Or survive really big ones.

Earthdawn; it's kind of an "all the dice" vancian-flavored shadowrun-ish system. Casters can "prepare" a finite number of spells based on level and spells can be "upcast" various ways, using time and/or damage to the caster. More experienced casters can have more spells prepared and some are prepared in an upcast form. They can cast any spell they have ever learned but it will probably kill them from damage and if not kill them and all their friends later because using unprepared spells attracts demons.

World of Darkness: a system also from the people who invented shadowrun. Most powers draw off some kind of "power pool" but a small number can be either weakened or prepared in a way that doesn't require use of the pool. Typically it only requires 1 point a d thr magnitude is based on your skill at the thing. Refreshing the power pool varies a lot on the subsystem. Could be drinking blood, seeing the moon, making a child laugh or finding a ley line.

Shards of the Stone/Fuzion magic : there are like eighteen implementations of Fuzion and it seems they all hate each other but this is the one I played. Casters learn spells slowly but use their skill to cast spells (meaning a spell can do absolutely nothing to anyone on a botch). Some spells are an attack roll and some can be dodged. There are ways the caster and target can boost their skill rolls (inspiration-type stuff).
 

Autumnal

Bruce Baugh, Writer of Fortune
I guess I expressed myself badly. I’m really not looking for ideas. I have ideas; I’ve worked on some of the games people suggest as inspiration, and am friends with the authors and developers of others, too. Spheres of Power and Rokugan 5e have been the only responses so far for what I really wanted: worked systems for 5e. I am prepared to pay for someone else to do the nitty gritty, because right now I am too sick to be able to do it myself. Normally I would delight in hammering and sawing and filling and drilling and otherwise doing the work of turning a promising idea into something useful in play, but this is not a normal time.
 

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