Damage Spell Scaling

FrogReaver

Adventurer
One thing I dislike about 5e is that damage spells don't scale at all. Cantrip scaling exacerbates this problem for me. It means that pretty quickly there's nearly no reason to ever cast a low level damage spell.

So I propose a solution that I don't think will have a large amount of impact on the game. (There's probably a more elegant way to type out the proposal but here it is):

Level 1 and 2 spells that deal damage obtain an extra damage die at 5th, 11th, 17th levels.

That allows pretty much every damage spell to stay better at damage than a cantrip. (level 3+ spells already stay better than cantrips).

Any objections?
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
One thing I dislike about 5e is that damage spells don't scale at all. Cantrip scaling exacerbates this problem for me. It means that pretty quickly there's nearly no reason to ever cast a low level damage spell.

So I propose a solution that I don't think will have a large amount of impact on the game. (There's probably a more elegant way to type out the proposal but here it is):

Level 1 and 2 spells that deal damage obtain an extra damage die at 5th, 11th, 17th levels.

That allows pretty much every damage spell to stay better at damage than a cantrip. (level 3+ spells already stay better than cantrips).

Any objections?
I think many spells like fireball should gain 2d6 damage per additional spells. In a 9th level slot it would do 20d6. And that is not over the top at that level.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
I think many spells like fireball should gain 2d6 damage per additional spells. In a 9th level slot it would do 20d6. And that is not over the top at that level.
I'm personally not opposed, but I also don't feel like fireball and other 3rd+ level damage spells have any real issues and I prefer to keep the houserules as simple as possible. It's really the 1st and 2nd level spells that bother me. I want them doing more than a cantrip even in their lowest level slot.
 

Saelorn

Adventurer
I think your rule doesn't go far enough. If you're going so far as to add a house rule, then it should be impactful enough to be worth remembering.

That is to say, do you really think that a level 15 wizard is going to cast a level 1 damaging spell in a level 1 spell slot, even after implementing your change?
 
One thing I dislike about 5e is that damage spells don't scale at all.
Sure they do: with slot level.

One of the things that bothers me is that save DC /don't/ also scale only with slot level, like they did in 3.5 - it's a serious power-up to have save DCs scale with character level even on cantrips and low-level spells.

Cantrip scaling exacerbates this problem for me. It means that pretty quickly there's nearly no reason to ever cast a low level damage spell.
Sure there is: low level targets who are very unlikely to make the save. (Remember, thanks to BA, even low level rubes are a 'threat' worthy of a casual off-handed cast.)

So I propose a solution that I don't think will have a large amount of impact on the game. (There's probably a more elegant way to type out the proposal but here it is):
Level 1 and 2 spells that deal damage obtain an extra damage die at 5th, 11th, 17th levels.
That allows pretty much every damage spell to stay better at damage than a cantrip. (level 3+ spells already stay better than cantrips).
Any objections?
You're increasing a factor in the LFQW equation, and there's plenty of other things to use low-level spell slots for besides damage, anyway?

Alternate solution: have spells/day 'walk' across the experience chart instead of pyramid. That is, after a while, you tart 'losing' low-level spells as fast you gain high level ones, so your total spells/day don't increase, just the levels of the slots. That'd have the slide benefit of reducing one of the factors in the LFQW equation. It could kick in after 10 spells (enough to cast a spell every encounter with a couple left over - /very/ generous), at 7th, when you get your first 4th level spell, you also lose a 1st level spell. Repeat until you're out of 1st level spells, then lose 2nd, etc... for fun, roll up that last 4th level spell, to a 5th so you have 4/2/2/1/1 at 20th. Obviously you can still cast lower-level spells, you're just obliged to up-cast 'em.
But, as desired, your lowest-level spells stay /much/ more powerful than cantrips.
 
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Blue

Orcus on a bad hair day
This was one of the intentional changes from earlier editions with the whole quadradic wizard / linear fighter issue. Casters got higher level slots AND their lower level slots got more powerful.

Unless you have the feel that caster classes are all weaker than the other classes, I wouldn't do it. (And if you do, I'd have other worries that I'd address after backing away slowly.)

But more seriously, you have a bunch of your high level spells that, after the first few levels, stays fairly static. thos are for your damaging and best spells. Then you have lower level slots good for utility and such that you don't fel like you are "wasting your combat potential" using them in other pillars of play. Plus things liek shield, absorb elements, etc.

Cantrips are a special deal. From a balance perspective, pre-cantrips casters had to throw darts or fire a light crossbow when they weren't using a slot. It really encouraged casters to push for short adventuring days because frankly those were not great. Cantrips was a way that casters could "stay magical" but still contribute. But at-wills from the other classes end up increasing, so if they didn't want casters to end up with the 5 minute work day again they needed to make them feel like they are still contributing. So cantrips scale. They still do less than weapons, but enough that the cantrip caster feels like they are helping.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Unless you have the feel that caster classes are all weaker than the other classes, I wouldn't do it. (And if you do, I'd have other worries that I'd address after backing away slowly.)
This stance amazes me. Truly.

The change I'm proposing would add a total of maybe 3d8 damage to at most 6 spells at max level. 18d8 damage isn't going to change anything in terms of balance for a level 20 wizard. This change is about as power neutral as you can get.

Even at level 5 - you at most get maybe 6d8 more damage (save for half) - assuming all your level 1 and 2 spells were used on damage. It's just not enough to change anything balance in any meaningful way.

But it is enough to make every slotted spell stay better than a cantrip - which is something that is important to me.

***Keep in mind those damage numbers are assuming all level 1 and 2 slots go to damage now - which they won't and so the actual impact of the change will be less than what I've estimated above.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
I think your rule doesn't go far enough. If you're going so far as to add a house rule, then it should be impactful enough to be worth remembering.

That is to say, do you really think that a level 15 wizard is going to cast a level 1 damaging spell in a level 1 spell slot, even after implementing your change?
I disagree with that premise. A houserule in general should change as few things as possible to reach the desired effect in an acceptable way.
 

neogod22

Explorer
One thing I dislike about 5e is that damage spells don't scale at all. Cantrip scaling exacerbates this problem for me. It means that pretty quickly there's nearly no reason to ever cast a low level damage spell.

So I propose a solution that I don't think will have a large amount of impact on the game. (There's probably a more elegant way to type out the proposal but here it is):

Level 1 and 2 spells that deal damage obtain an extra damage die at 5th, 11th, 17th levels.

That allows pretty much every damage spell to stay better at damage than a cantrip. (level 3+ spells already stay better than cantrips).

Any objections?
Yes I object. The reason is, for the most part, non-magic users don't really have a way to increase their damage at all except more attacks. Most spells do scale of you cast them at a higher spell slot. Also, if you feel that there isn't a reason to cast low level spells for damage, don't. This is why a lot of utility spells are low level.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
Yes I object. The reason is, for the most part, non-magic users don't really have a way to increase their damage at all except more attacks. Most spells do scale of you cast them at a higher spell slot. Also, if you feel that there isn't a reason to cast low level spells for damage, don't. This is why a lot of utility spells are low level.
In case you missed the memo - I'm not happy with not being able to cast low level spells for damage - or let me rephrase that before someone pedantically attacks it - I'm not happy that low level spell slots are effectively worthless for damage spells as you level.

My proposed change fixes that problem without really impacting the martial / caster divide.

That fighters are worse than casters is not an excuse to avoid fixing things about the wizard.
 

Zardnaar

Hero
Not a fan of direct damage 5E spells.

Damage dealing spells weren't broken in 3?5 and 5E critters tend to have more up than 3E.

To many damage dealing spells feel anemic except with vulnerabilities.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Balance isn’t just numbers.

The wizard has damage scaling in cantrips, and in higher spells and slots. To make their low level slots also deal competitive high level damage would mean that they are always doing big flashy magic, which negates a big part of what balances them with half casters and non casters.

It absolutely will increase the caster/mundane divide.

If you’re cool with that as long as the damage math works out...go for it?
 

Arnwolf666

Adventurer
I don’t even thing the wizard was over powered in pathfinder or 2E. I guess if u r balancing it as fighter versus wizard than yes. But not when versus the monsters. But I’m not playing a game to fight other players. I’m playing it to defeat the monsters or encounters. And generally the fighter was better at that than any other class.
 

neogod22

Explorer
In case you missed the memo - I'm not happy with not being able to cast low level spells for damage - or let me rephrase that before someone pedantically attacks it - I'm not happy that low level spell slots are effectively worthless for damage spells as you level.

My proposed change fixes that problem without really impacting the martial / caster divide.

That fighters are worse than casters is not an excuse to avoid fixing things about the wizard.
The wizard isn't broken.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
My suggestion would be to upgrade spell slots themselves. Level 11, all 1st level spell slots are now 2nd level spell slots. Level 17 (or whenever cantrips gain their final level up) all 2nd level spell slots are 3rd level spell slots.
 

Lucas Yew

Explorer
The 3rd Edition variants' free damage scaling for each spell slot was quite a big insult for the poor martials, especially since their own damage scaling was hampered by the not so realistic multi attack penalty and sticky 5 feet syndrome... (one bigger insult I remember is that thrice cursed Bladed Dash spell from PF1)

At least in 1st edition, when all spells had unlimited scaling from bottom up, Gygax admitted by in-game text that Wizards do get to rule over all at high levels.
 

Krachek

Explorer
I was thinking of that while walking.
Nobody would propose to double the dice obtained when a paladin smite using a spell slot of level 2 or higher.
Why do we feel it is ok for a spell and not for a smite?
Smite is efficient. You spend smite as needed when you hit and more often when you critically hit.

So why don’t add the same feature to spell attack?

Smite spell.
When you hit with a spell attack you can spend a spell slot of level 5 or lower to add extra damage to your spell. The damage is 2d8 + 1d8 per level over 1. As with smite ability.

The question can we smite with cantrip? Why not!
Propose this feature as a feat or through a magic item.
 
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dnd4vr

Adventurer
I agree with @dave2008 . We reduced cantrips as well to encourage use of more higher-level spells. By the time cantrips start to scale (at 5th), casters have enough slots to cast a spell (non-cantrip) most rounds in a typical day of combat IMO (at least at our table, not by DMG-standards).

Another option to go with non-scaling cantrips, was to give casters more spell slots to encourage non-cantrip casting.
 

FrogReaver

Adventurer
My suggestion would be to upgrade spell slots themselves. Level 11, all 1st level spell slots are now 2nd level spell slots. Level 17 (or whenever cantrips gain their final level up) all 2nd level spell slots are 3rd level spell slots.
Spells like invisibility and hold person really don't need buffed though. The only saving grace to this proposed change is that a lot of level 1 and 2 spells don't get any benefits for casting them at higher levels.

Overall I find the change to be worse than my proposal as it targets spells that don't really need anything more to still be competitive choices.
 

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