D&D 5E Free Upcasting By Tier: A House-Rule

cbwjm

Legend
I don't want actual higher-level slots because then you can cast more higher leveled spells. But free upcasting keeps 1st-level slots using 1st-level spells.
I forgot to mention it in my last post, but this is actually what I like about your idea. I don't really think I'd mind too much if players are able to throw around 10 fireballs at level 11, but your way allows lower level spells to have more punch while still requiring them to be lower level spells.

I also missed responding to your earlier post, I think limiting it to 5th level spells might be okay, but I'm also not sure how many 6th level+ spells have updating. Might be worth checking that out.

I'd probably also switch the warlock over to regular spell slots if your were moving this way. Remove mystic arcanum and just let them learn and cast higher level spells.
 

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DND_Reborn

Legend
I'd probably also switch the warlock over to regular spell slots if your were moving this way. Remove mystic arcanum and just let them learn and cast higher level spells.
Just had a discussion with a player about this, it does screw over warlocks a bit unless I change things--not that we mind, really. ;)
 

Horwath

Hero
I believe that this idea might return the problem of linear fighter-quadratic wizard.

As a special feature for few spells it might be good, but overall it would be too much.

And I agree that up casting sucks on most spells, especially direct damage.

My rule for upcasting would be +3 dice for single target, +2 dice for AoE spells per increased spell level.

I.E. scorching ray should start with 2 rays for 3d6 instead of 3 rays for 2d6, then every level it is extra ray for 3d6.

fireball should get +2d6 per spell level(10d6 for 4th level to 20d6 for 9th level)

cure spells should be 2 dice per level. Cure wounds 2d6 per level, healing word 2d4 per spell level.
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
I believe that this idea might return the problem of linear fighter-quadratic wizard.
I still find it funny when people say this. It was never an issue and I never even heard of it until people mentioned it on EnWorld a few years ago when I joined.

The amount of power increase isn't really that much when you compare the challenges the PCs face at higher levels. In fact, it makes lower level spell feel viable again instead of just focusing on higher level spells all the time or wasting higher level slots to try to upcast and make lower level spells viable.

Finally, it reverses the power nerf of things like concentration and repeated saves.
 

CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
Eh, it's a bit overpowered for my tastes. Out of curiosity, what was the driver for this house-rule? Was there a problem you were trying to fix, or did you just want to make spellcasters quadratic again for flavor/style reasons? (Both are valid reasons to make a house-rule; I'm not gonna argue. I'm just trying to understand.)
 

Stalker0

Legend
I still find it funny when people say this. It was never an issue and I never even heard of it until people mentioned it on EnWorld a few years ago when I joined.

The amount of power increase isn't really that much when you compare the challenges the PCs face at higher levels. In fact, it makes lower level spell feel viable again instead of just focusing on higher level spells all the time or wasting higher level slots to try to upcast and make lower level spells viable.

Finally, it reverses the power nerf of things like concentration and repeated saves.
If you feel that spellcasters are unpowered in high level 5e and wish to increase them, this seems a solid way to do it.

But if your saying that this is not a large increase in spellpower at higher levels.... I'm sorry, I have to disagree. Now it's not necessarily going to break the game, but a spellcaster in a game with this houserule is going to feel much more powerful than a spellcaster without the rule.

Now I can already see this thread going in the direction to try and justify the "weakness" of spellcasters in 5e...and that's just not going to work on these boards. In general, the community seems firmly in the camps that either spellcasting is still stronger than martials at high levels, or they are reasonably balanced. The notion that spellcasters are underpowered at high levels is not a commonly held belief on the boards based on the years of previous discussions on the topics.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
If you feel that spellcasters are unpowered in high level 5e and wish to increase them, this seems a solid way to do it.

But if your saying that this is not a large increase in spellpower at higher levels.... I'm sorry, I have to disagree. Now it's not necessarily going to break the game, but a spellcaster in a game with this houserule is going to feel much more powerful than a spellcaster without the rule.

Now I can already see this thread going in the direction to try and justify the "weakness" of spellcasters in 5e...and that's just not going to work on these boards. In general, the community seems firmly in the camps that either spellcasting is still stronger than martials at high levels, or they are reasonably balanced. The notion that spellcasters are underpowered at high levels is not a commonly held belief on the boards based on the years of previous discussions on the topics.
Noncasters also advance in power at higher levels, often with larger strides than casters. A lot of that of that can be traced back to the impact of bounded accuracy making martial gains pack a bigger punch thanks to the AC failing to scale like saves & making sure monsters with high level spells are still doable for dramatically underleveled parties when it comes to the spell alongside slot progression slowdowns & upcast at cost without bumping the scaling
 

And why not simply do it this way.
Whenever cantrips are augmented in damage
This means Level 5, 11 and 17, all spell that are 1 or more level lower than you highest level spell improves damage by +1 die at 5th level (1st and 2nd level), +2 dice at 11th (1st through 5th) and +3 dice at 17th (1st through 8th level).

Easy to remember and to apply. This way Magic Missile and other spells will always be relevant compared to cantrips but not overwhelmingly so.
At 17th level, a magic missile will do 6d4+6 damage, A fire ball 11d6 and a Delayed blast fireball would do 14d6.
Compared to meteor swarm... Only 9th level spells would never be boosted. Which is fine.
 

Stalker0

Legend
Noncasters also advance in power at higher levels, often with larger strides than casters. A lot of that of that can be traced back to the impact of bounded accuracy making martial gains pack a bigger punch thanks to the AC failing to scale like saves & making sure monsters with high level spells are still doable for dramatically underleveled parties when it comes to the spell alongside slot progression slowdowns & upcast at cost without bumping the scaling
Agreed. My high level experience has been that in combat, the martials perform fine. They do plenty of damage, and their tough, and a lot of monsters have things like legendary resistance or magic resistance to weaken spells.

However, narratively....casters rule. They are handling the divinations, the travel, they are dispelling the key magic defenses. So more and more "screen time" shifts to the casters to handle all of the things around combat.

So in general casters seem quite strong at high levels, and I still consider them superior to martials in terms of "amount of game time I am contributing to the story". But combatively i think they are well balanced. But casters weaker than martials....yeah I just don't see that, and again discussion on the board suggests that the board as a whole feels that way too.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
And why not simply do it this way.
Whenever cantrips are augmented in damage
This means Level 5, 11 and 17, all spell that are 1 or more level lower than you highest level spell improves damage by +1 die at 5th level (1st and 2nd level), +2 dice at 11th (1st through 5th) and +3 dice at 17th (1st through 8th level).

Easy to remember and to apply. This way Magic Missile and other spells will always be relevant compared to cantrips but not overwhelmingly so.
At 17th level, a magic missile will do 6d4+6 damage, A fire ball 11d6 and a Delayed blast fireball would do 14d6.
Compared to meteor swarm... Only 9th level spells would never be boosted. Which is fine.
Also a good suggestion.

My feel for 5e is that non damage spells remain relevant through the levels ive seen in play (14th lvl) but low level damage spells are usually not worth the slot once the cantrips scale to do similar damage.
 

Also a good suggestion.

My feel for 5e is that non damage spells remain relevant through the levels ive seen in play (14th lvl) but low level damage spells are usually not worth the slot once the cantrips scale to do similar damage.
It is my feeling too! We see a shift from damaging spell at low character level to utility spells once the character reaches level 11+.

As cantrips gain their third die of damage, spells such as magic missile become obsolete in damage, to the point of not being prepared ever. This is a sad thing as magic missile has been such a template spell of all editions of D&D.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
Agreed. My high level experience has been that in combat, the martials perform fine. They do plenty of damage, and their tough, and a lot of monsters have things like legendary resistance or magic resistance to weaken spells.

However, narratively....casters rule. They are handling the divinations, the travel, they are dispelling the key magic defenses. So more and more "screen time" shifts to the casters to handle all of the things around combat.


So in general casters seem quite strong at high levels, and I still consider them superior to martials in terms of "amount of game time I am contributing to the story". But combatively i think they are well balanced. But casters weaker than martials....yeah I just don't see that, and again discussion on the board suggests that the board as a whole feels that way too.
It seems like you are hanging that "quite strong" on spells like teleport(circle), transport via plants, & pass without trace. CoS & DiA prove that adventures involving the area those cover don't require a caster capable of casting them or really even allow their use in any meaningful way thanks to the failure to include a pattern in the wandering bazar making the tenuous "spotlight" aspect something wotc's own modules show to be tenuous at best. Notably none of those spells have an upcast rider.

In that light can you be more specific on what is it that you think is somehow making casters "stronger"/"quadratic" & how would this houserule affect it given the spells you seem to vaguely gesture towards don't upcast.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Noncasters also advance in power at higher levels, often with larger strides than casters. A lot of that of that can be traced back to the impact of bounded accuracy making martial gains pack a bigger punch thanks to the AC failing to scale like saves & making sure monsters with high level spells are still doable for dramatically underleveled parties when it comes to the spell alongside slot progression slowdowns & upcast at cost without bumping the scaling
So is your stance that at high levels Martial and Casters are balanced or that Casters are weaker than Martials?
 

DND_Reborn

Legend
And why not simply do it this way.
Whenever cantrips are augmented in damage
This means Level 5, 11 and 17, all spell that are 1 or more level lower than you highest level spell improves damage by +1 die at 5th level (1st and 2nd level), +2 dice at 11th (1st through 5th) and +3 dice at 17th (1st through 8th level).

Easy to remember and to apply. This way Magic Missile and other spells will always be relevant compared to cantrips but not overwhelmingly so.
At 17th level, a magic missile will do 6d4+6 damage, A fire ball 11d6 and a Delayed blast fireball would do 14d6.
Compared to meteor swarm... Only 9th level spells would never be boosted. Which is fine.
This is what the house rule does for the most part. The only differences are in spells like sleep which grant 2 dice with each level bump and spells like hold person which get to affect an additional target since they don't get dice.

Eh, it's a bit overpowered for my tastes. Out of curiosity, what was the driver for this house-rule? Was there a problem you were trying to fix, or did you just want to make spellcasters quadratic again for flavor/style reasons? (Both are valid reasons to make a house-rule; I'm not gonna argue. I'm just trying to understand.)
I like the idea casters improve their spells as they level without having to commit higher-level spell slots to do it.

They are better at casting those earlier spells.

Now, I don't want to bring back the full blown +1 whatever for each caster level, but I felt jumping by tiers represented the improvement I think should be there without being OP.

If you feel that spellcasters are unpowered in high level 5e and wish to increase them, this seems a solid way to do it.
In some ways, yes, but this isn't for that. And we know (hello, Archmage!) that high level casters are damn powerful!

Now it's not necessarily going to break the game, but a spellcaster in a game with this houserule is going to feel much more powerful than a spellcaster without the rule.
I agree, but that is the point. However, I don't agree that his is a BIG increase in power. But that's ok, opinions differ and I'm fine with that.

But casters weaker than martials....yeah I just don't see that, and again discussion on the board suggests that the board as a whole feels that way too.
Actually, this is a position I will never argue. I've posted many times about buffs for martials to try to bring them in line with casters in many respects.

Anyway, gotta run for now. Time for our session! :D
 

This is what the house rule does for the most part. The only differences are in spells like sleep which grant 2 dice with each level bump and spells like hold person which get to affect an additional target since they don't get dice.
Then modify the rule with: or add one target at each breaking point. This would not break the symmetry and would still be aligned with your goal.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
So is your stance that at high levels Martial and Casters are balanced or that Casters are weaker than Martials?
I think that I already answered that. Stronger/weaker is not an easily quantifiable thing or becomes a niche so specific it defines the problem by excluding everything else. If not though... 5e has too many individual changes to casters that are intended to stop specific extremes that were possible in earlier editions in isolation that add up together into an overcorrection the more they combine. That overcorrection needs to be dialed back in some areas because overused concentration, upcast at cost with similar or worse improvement rates, slowed slot gain progression, magic/legendary resist/immune, & so on all add up together with more and more impact as levels scale.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
I think that I already answered that. Stronger/weaker is not an easily quantifiable thing or becomes a niche so specific it defines the problem by excluding everything else. If not though... 5e has too many individual changes to casters that are intended to stop specific extremes that were possible in earlier editions in isolation that add up together into an overcorrection the more they combine. That overcorrection needs to be dialed back in some areas because overused concentration, upcast at cost with similar or worse improvement rates, slowed slot gain progression, magic/legendary resist/immune, & so on all add up together with more and more impact as levels scale.
So it's not easily qunatifyable, but later you quantify that you feel it's been overcorrected that needs to be dialed back.

Since the only valid point of comparison is other classes in this edition, it seems you are saying casters are weaker than martials.

Stop with the weasel words and own it.

I'll put it simply - this is a increase in power for full casters to some degree. Just making low level slots viable in combat means that their effectiveness per action will increase. It also means that if more low level slots are used in combat, that leaves more mid level slots available which can have a lot of impact on other pillars of play. A fly spell can simplify a good number of challenges exploration challenges, etc.

So, an increase in power either needs to be corrective - casters are weaker and it can be applied without need for further adjustments, or is a buff and needs either a corresponding nerf, or a buff to the others to offset.

So, with no weasel words: do you think all full casters are weaker than martials and need a corrective adjustment added to bring them up to the same power.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
weasel words
Mod Note:

You could have responded to tetrasodium’s post in much the same way as you did without using confrontational language such as quoted above. Inflammatory language in a thread just leads to increased agitation, which leads to increased Mod action.

Chose better words going forward, please.
 

glass

(he, him)
They've already been nerfed extensively compared to AD&D, they hardly need more nerfing.
That is highly debatable. They do have some disadvantages (lack of caster level scaling), but OTOH AD&D EDIT: 2e had much easier spell interruption (you rolled initiative each round and anyone who beat you on a given round could interrupt your spell - and if they managed to inflict a single point of damage before your turn the spell was gone), and if by some miracle you did manage to get a spell off at higher levels saves scaled in the opposite direction in AD&D to 5e; high-level AD&D characters almost always made their saves.

3e got rid of most of that, without adding anything really to replace it, for that on other reasons it is fairly uncontroversial to say that 5e casters are weaker than 3.x and PF1 casters. OTOH, caster supremacy and quadratic wizardry in 4e were negligible to non-existent, so 5e did not nerf casters, it buffed them.



All that said, I actually like the idea in the OP. While it is obviously a buff to classes that probably do not need buffing, my feeling (as someone who does not claim to be a 5e expert) is that it is not a huge deal. More of a quality-of-life improvement than a big increase in the power ceiling. If you gave martials something decent to compensate, you might end up at a more balanced point overall than RAW.

I am considering doing something similar in my personal heartbreaker, should I ever get around to actually writing the thing (which I probably won't - fiddling around with bits and pieces of mechanics is fun, but actually forming them into a coherent whole is a lot of effort)!

_
glass.
 
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DND_Reborn

Legend
That is highly debatable. They do have some disadvantages (lack of caster level scaling), but OTOH AD&D had much easier spell interruption (you rolled initiative each round and anyone who beat you on a given round could interrupt your spell - and if they managed to inflict a single point of damage before your turn the spell was gone), and if by some miracle you did manage to get a spell off at higher levels saves scaled in the opposite direction in AD&D to 5e; high-level AD&D characters almost always made their saves.
It depends largely on if you are talking 2E or 1E. In 1E, initiative and spell-casting worked differently. In 2E, with the addition of casting times and speed factors, it was a bit more of an issue, but not much.

Personally, IME casters in AD&D didn't have the issues you're talking of because they avoided melee as much as possible, and like the advice in the DMG, resorted to wands, staves, and rods while in melee, which could not be disrupted.

Yes, the saves at higher level were more likely made (part of what bothers me about 5E--look at the most recent Vecna battle and how often the PCs failed those saves! It was rare when they made one...). But for many spells in AD&D, making the save was more important due to SoD effects. You made saves more often, but when you failed them the impact was often drastic!

Like other changes... AD&D hitting was hard, but damage mattered more. Saves were easier, but the effects harsher. In 5E it is reversed. Hitting is easy, but damage impact is lessened due to HP bloat. Saving is harder, but effects aren't as extreme and saves are often repeated until made.

Concentration is on way too many spells IMO, although making the check often isn't too bad if you get hit. But, it prevents the "combos" so many people dread which made casters so powerful in AD&D. Much of that power has been nerfed, all things considered.

All that said, I actually like the idea in the OP. While it is obviously a buff to classes that probably do not need buffing, my feeling (as someone who does not claim to be a 5e expert) is that it is not a huge deal. More of a quality-of-life improvement than a big increase in the power ceiling. If you gave martials something decent to compensate, you might end up at a more balanced point overall than RAW.
I like the idea, of course, but there are ramifications which I am still thinking about. Also, I don't know about the martials. I don't see this as a power boost to casters, more about bringing lower levels spells up a bit to keep them viable at higher levels in the game.
 

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