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


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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Possibly. It always comes down to the spell. Player picks the right spell and suddenly you regret your life decisions :)

That’s why I think the best approach is for you to pick spells you think this would be appropriate on and allow that as a house rule, rather than giving players cart blanc choices
This is really table dependent. I personally don't care what they pick and can work to design challenging encounters regardless of the spells they pick. Others will see it as too powerful, yet more caster goodness that leaves martials behind, or too much trouble and not want to do it.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
How does this affect half (and third) casters? The way it's written it seems like they will get the full increase. So Paladin Smite spells will overtake the Divine Smite feature, etc.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
What's your take on this and inter-class balance? I know you like tinkering, I'm not going to assume this is made in a vaccum. Are there corresponding buffs to non-casters (or nerfs to casters) to keep the classes in line with each other?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
This existed in 3.5e. It was called "caster level." It was a bad rule then, and I'm fairly sure it's a bad rule now.

Casters do not need to be made more quadratic. If anything, they need to be made less quadratic.

Edit: As a specific mechanic--not something added to spells generally, but specific to certain spells or certain (sub)classes, this could be fine.

Given the relative weakness of the Sorcerer compared to the Wizard, this would make a lot of sense as a unique Sorcerer mechanic, for example. They may know fewer spells and cast fewer spells total over the day, but because they "specialize" in those spells only, they get inherently better at casting them, when feasible.
I don't think you can make them much less quadratic than cantrips only. :p

5e doesn't really have any quadratic spellcasters. Cantrips are so weak that if they didn't scale you'd be taking away most of the caster's damage, since 5e is a resource drain edition and casters would be forced to burn through all of their spells in a few fights. That would make them nearly useless for most of the fights in the adventuring day. Since cantrips are the only spells that I can think of that scale with level, quadratic spellcasting is gone.

What @DND_Reborn is proposing doesn't create truly quadratic spellcasters in any case. The scaling wouldn't be per level like it was in 1e-3e and caused the issues. It's much more limited and while it's an increase, isn't nearly large enough to bring back "quadratic."
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
  • conjure woodland beings (and probably other conjure/summon spells like it): At Higher Levels. When you cast this spell using certain higher-level spell slots, you choose one of the summoning options above, and more creatures appear: twice as many with a 6th-level slot and three times as many with an 8th-level slot.
Ok, I'll tackle this one first.

As a 4th-level spell, conjure woodland beings would be as a 5th level slot in tier 3 (no impact on the spell), but in tier 4 it would be as a 6th-level spell, so yes it would double the number of summoned creatures once you reach 17th level. If you wanted to get three times as many creatures, you would still have to use an 8th-level spell slot.

  • Create undead has some interesting upcast results that might need some thought.
As a 6th-level spell, create undead would be as a 7th level spell in tier 4. If you wanted to upcast it at 8th or 9th-level, you'd still need to use a higher level spell slot. So, all you'd get "for free" would be one extra ghoul since you can make up to three normally.

  • Shadowblade: A hexblade EK (or any gish with multiple attacks) upcasting shadowblade might be an issue depending on the math
As a 2nd-level spell, your damage would automatically increased.

It would go from 2d8 to 3d8 when you reached 5th level as the spell would upcast for free as if you used a 3rd-level spell slot.
Then it would go from 3d8 to 4d8 when you reached 17th level as the spell slot would be as if you used a 5th-level slot.

2nd-level spells never get upcast for free past 5th level slots, so you'd never get the highest 5d8 damage unless you used an actually 7th or higher level slot.

Spiritual weapon+spirit guardians+cantrips: I'd check the math at a couple points to see how it adds up since it's one of the few stackable spell combos.
Hmm. Not sure what combo this really is, but the individual spells:

spirit guardians is a good spell to start with, so this definitely makes it stellar IMO. Damage begins at 3d8 (using the default 3rd-level slot). It would increase to 4d8 at 11th level and 5d8 at 17th level. A nice boost, certainly, but creatures HP at that point can handle an extra 3 or so damage per round (6 or so at 17th level).

spiritual weapon as a 2nd-level slot improves more, at 5th, 11th, and 17th levels by 1d8 per bump, so a whopping 5d8 at 17th level, but again this is only for one attack per round.

In more dire battles, these spells freely upcast will be strong, no doubt, but at those higher levels utilizing your higher level spells will likely take priority IMO.

Fly adds targets when upcast (so does blind banish & some others like invisibility). Might be worth giving those some thought.
fly as default 3rd-level gets the same bumps at 11th (two targets) and 17th (three targets). Neither will be a big deal at those levels IMO. Useful, very likely, but not huge.

mass suggestion & planar binding dramatically boosts duration when upcast
mass suggestion would get a maximum boost to 10 days. Potentially interesting, but in all likelihood if you aren't screwed by 24 hours of being hit by this spell, I doubt the extra 9 days will screw things up too much.

planar binding gets a bigger potential boost, up to 30 days, but personally I still don't see any issues with it.

Glyph of warding has this footnote in upcasting "If you create a spell glyph, you can store any spell of up to the same level as the slot you use for the glyph of warding." I'd think hard about possible interactions if you allow that with the upcasted slot or the original slot that got expended
Now, this one is very interesting and a good example! As a 3rd-level spells, it would be bumped to 5th-level maximum at 17th level. I could see some interesting things with that, but by that time even 5th-level spells aren't generally that much more of a deal than the 3rd-level spells.

So, some nice examples, but so far nothing that makes me think this will be too crazy...
 

JiffyPopTart

Bree-Yark
I love the idea of all spells scaling like cantrips using your system, however I don't think I'd implement it because the system wasn't designed around it.

I'd be all for a system designed from the ground up using that as a base rule....maybe it would give the sorcerer an interesting niche if nothing else.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
How does this affect half (and third) casters? The way it's written it seems like they will get the full increase. So Paladin Smite spells will overtake the Divine Smite feature, etc.

The table gets adjusted to match their spell progression of course, with two possible options:

Option A, they get adjust just like full casters:

1658630894967.png


Option B, they get it at "half" the full boost, so a bump ever two tiers:

1658630986191.png


I think Option B is probably better, personally, and would certainly keep smite spells from ever overtaking Divine Smite.

Third-casters would probably only see the increase in tier 4.

What's your take on this and inter-class balance? I know you like tinkering, I'm not going to assume this is made in a vaccum. Are there corresponding buffs to non-casters (or nerfs to casters) to keep the classes in line with each other?
Honestly, I just came up with this idea today so I haven't had time to really give that thought yet, but if I pursue the concept (after discussion with my group), I certainly will!! :)
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
I love the idea of all spells scaling like cantrips using your system, however I don't think I'd implement it because the system wasn't designed around it.

I'd be all for a system designed from the ground up using that as a base rule....maybe it would give the sorcerer an interesting niche if nothing else.
Yeah, I kind of like the idea myself and as @Maxperson says, it is a boost to spells without bringing back the (so-called) quadratic issue.

Personally, I wish WotC had implemented it from the start, too. 🤷‍♂️
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
What's your take on this and inter-class balance? I know you like tinkering, I'm not going to assume this is made in a vaccum. Are there corresponding buffs to non-casters (or nerfs to casters) to keep the classes in line with each other?
Really quick before I log off for the night:

My first thought would be to keep weapon damage scaling for non-casters. So, since most already get Extra Attack at 5th level, I would add an additional weapon damage die at 11th and another at 17th.

Now, this might be too much, just throwing it out there as a thought.

I'll give it some more consideration, though.
 

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