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D&D 3E/3.5 [Homebrew] How much can we buff sorcerer and spontaneous casters without breaking the game?

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
Thanks to the power of hindsight, we know that some of the restrictions on spontaneous casting from the 3.x era weren't really called for. (Let's remember that spontaneous casting used to be a novel thing with a lot of safeguards in place to prevent brokeness, this because it was very experimental an unkown at the time)

So, in your opinion, which elements would be viable to change without overpowering spontaneous casters? Which changes would keep them in Tier 2? Which changes would shoot them to Tier1? Which changes shouldn't be done to prevent them from going to Tier0?

These are the safeguards that were put in place to prevent spontaneous casters from overpowering traditional casters:

  • Slow growth. Spontaneous casters lag behind traditional casters on getting new spell levels - How to change, make them grow at the traditional rate of 2nd level spells at third level, 3rd level at fifth level and so on.
  • Limited spell access on a level up. Spontaneous casters learned only one spell when getting to a new spell level, they had to wait for a new level before having any options with that new slot. - How to change, make them learn two new spells while getting a new spell level, and one more at getting into an even level.
  • Limited spell access in general.- Spells known in general are low for SCs. At least until later levels. Favored Souls got one more over the rest without breaking. How to change, raise all other casters up to Favored Soul level.
  • Slow retraining of spells known.- SCs can change a spell known for another of the same level, however they have a limited window to do it, only an specific level up for a given spell level and only on some levels. How to change.- Allow changing a single spell known on every level up.
  • Limited metamagic use.- SCs increase casting time when using metamagic. This effectively prevents them from ever using Quicken.- How to change, casting with metamagic doesn't increase casting time. I'm aware that there were feat and spell patches to get around it, but they got ridiculous with time.

So what are your opinions? Which changes would you make in the context of 3.x?
 

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Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
Supporter
So, in your opinion, which elements would be viable to change without overpowering spontaneous casters? Which changes would keep them in Tier 2? Which changes would shoot them to Tier1? Which changes shouldn't be done to prevent them from going to Tier0?

Giving them the ability to change their "known spells" (like an Arcanist from PF1) from their class spell list or a spellbook makes them Tier 1.
Warmage casting off of one of the main 0-9th level lists, or Arcanist casting off of all main spell lists is Tier 0.


These are the safeguards that were put in place to prevent spontaneous casters from overpowering traditional casters:

  • Slow growth. Spontaneous casters lag behind traditional casters on getting new spell levels - How to change, make them grow at the traditional rate of 2nd level spells at third level, 3rd level at fifth level and so on.
  • Limited spell access on a level up. Spontaneous casters learned only one spell when getting to a new spell level, they had to wait for a new level before having any options with that new slot. - How to change, make them learn two new spells while getting a new spell level, and one more at getting into an even level.
  • Limited spell access in general.- Spells known in general are low for SCs. At least until later levels. Favored Souls got one more over the rest without breaking. How to change, raise all other casters up to Favored Soul level.
  • Slow retraining of spells known.- SCs can change a spell known for another of the same level, however they have a limited window to do it, only an specific level up for a given spell level and only on some levels. How to change.- Allow changing a single spell known on every level up.
  • Limited metamagic use.- SCs increase casting time when using metamagic. This effectively prevents them from ever using Quicken.- How to change, casting with metamagic doesn't increase casting time. I'm aware that there were feat and spell patches to get around it, but they got ridiculous with time.

So what are your opinions? Which changes would you make in the context of 3.x?

I have not bothered trying to really tweak 3.PF in quite some time, and I'm behind the curve on things like psychic magic, but my general ideas are:
  • All full spellcasters (9th level spells) gain new spell levels like Sorcerers. Prepared casters prepare half (round up) as many spells, subtract 1 spell per spell level, and have 4 maximum spell slots per level.
  • Wizard and Sorcerer lists separate, trimmed differently.
    • Wizards get "universal spells" that any Wizard can use, plus five schools. (Or three elements.) Prohibited spells can only be learned via Discovery. Spell Mastery makes one spell "always prepared", in addition to its normal function.
    • Sorcerers get "universal spells", plus Bloodline spells expanded per Player Paraphenalia #133-#135 by The Knotty Works. They may learn bloodline spells as if they were on their class spell list.
  • Divine classes (see below) have limited spellcasting lists but cast like Warmages.
    • Clerics add their Domain spells to their class spell list. Every four levels (5th, 9th, 13th, 17th) they get Advanced Learning that allows them to choose two (normal) Cleric spells or Domain spells from Domains available to their faith of one level lower than the maximum they can cast.
    • Paladin: no change to spell list. They gain Advanced Learning (1 Cleric/Domain spell) every time they gain a level of spells.
    • Warpriests use Cleric spell list plus Domain spells according to their Blessings. Advanced Learning as Paladin.
    • Inquisitors and Oracles: I don't know. I don't even know.
  • Rangers, Druids, and Hunters are primal and they're spontaneous. Rangers use Bloodrager tables, Hunters use Bard.
    • Wouldn't it be neat if Rangers' spell selection was enhanced by their primary Favored Enemy and Favored Terrain?
    • Druids and Hunters get +1 spell known per spell level, in addition to summon nature's ally and/or Domain spells.
    • Shugenja are OGC. I like to think noone knows that, but in truth it's just that nobody cares. Their spellcasting is fine, they just need more class features.
  • Bards and Maguses (and Bloodragers) are largely unchanged. They can choose to be prepared or spontaneous.
    • Bards and Maguses get Advanced Learning, 1 spell up to max level, at 6th and every three levels after. Bards can learn Druid and Witch spells, while Maguses can learn any Wizard/School spell.
  • I literally have no idea what to do with Alchemists/Investigators, Shamans, Skalds, spellcasting Vigilantes, or psychic spellcasters.
    • I strongly prefer DSP psionics to psychic magic, but I think there should be some way to reconcile the two, thematically and mechanically.
As for Feats:
  • Metamagic Feats stack like Draconic Feats: each includes 1 Sudden use per X Metamagic Feats, where X is (maybe) the slot adjustment?
    • I really wish Draconic feats existed for other bloodlines.
  • No Metamagic casting time penalty for spontaneous/granted casters. Prepared casters can cast metamagic with the penalty, or prepare the spell with metamagic in advance, like Arcanists.
  • Spell Mastery allows you to prepare INT mod spells without your book/familiar and choose one spell you know to always be prepared without counting against your spells prepared. Requires "prepares spells", not "spellbook"
  • Expanded Arcana allows you to choose from your bonus spell list(s). (Bonus spells are always on your class spell list.)
  • You can take Extra Advanced Learning as a feat once for every time you gain it from your class.

Just some thoughts.
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
Supporter
If you don't want to use PF material (for some reason), you could probably get away with just saying Wizards must specialize and they pick three prohibited schools, and prohibited means "no, you may not". I'd still recommend making a list of Universal spells that are never banned.

Likewise, use the Spontaneous Divine Casters variant from Unearthed Arcana for Clerics and Druids. You won't break anything by letting Paladins and Rangers go Warmage.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
If you don't want to use PF material (for some reason)
Thank you for the feedback. I feel less comfortable with PF material overall. Not because it isn't good, but rather because it just kept everything essentially the same while turning every class into a long list of features. I prefer the more simple baseline from early 3e/3.5
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
Supporter
Thank you for the feedback. I feel less comfortable with PF material overall. Not because it isn't good, but rather because it just kept everything essentially the same while turning every class into a long list of features. I prefer the more simple baseline from early 3e/3.5
That's totally legit... I see it as a cost-benefit thing. I want something a lot simpler than 3.5, but if I'm accepting that level of complication already, I think Pathfinder gives me more value for doing so.

I think most of my suggestions can hold while keeping it to strict 3.5. The main thing is that the only way to make Sorcerer hold up against a comparison to Wizard is to limit the Wizard's access to the enormous Wiz/Sor list. Use the Spontaneous Divine Variant from Unearthed Arcana and make a lot of the critical M component Cleric spells Rituals that dont' come out of Spells Known.

Ignore everything I have to say about every class you don't want to use.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
That's totally legit... I see it as a cost-benefit thing. I want something a lot simpler than 3.5, but if I'm accepting that level of complication already, I think Pathfinder gives me more value for doing so.

I think most of my suggestions can hold while keeping it to strict 3.5. The main thing is that the only way to make Sorcerer hold up against a comparison to Wizard is to limit the Wizard's access to the enormous Wiz/Sor list. Use the Spontaneous Divine Variant from Unearthed Arcana and make a lot of the critical M component Cleric spells Rituals that dont' come out of Spells Known.

Ignore everything I have to say about every class you don't want to use.
I actually want to have wizards, and other classes around. I just want to simplify the game without losing too much customization. Also to reduce the "mathiness" of it all, lower scores, HP, and record keeping across the board.

For example, keep the rules for full round combat actions (two weapon fighting, charging, etc), but changing combat expertise from the defensive maneuver nobody ever used it for, to just "you can make combat maneuvers and use full attacks as a standard action" also all fighters get that bonus feat at first level for free. (In fact, my idea is to give each class a unique feat at first level that you can't get if you multiclass into that class unless you make it to third level in that class, this includes, a buffed eschew materials for sorcerers, lay on hands for paladins, turn undead for clerics, animal companion for druid and so on.)
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
Supporter
I'm working on something like that, but mine's a lot messier.

You should look up "elephant in the room" and "feat taxes". It's for PF1 but a lot of it applies directly to problems you're having with combat feats.
 

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