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D&D 5E House Rule Idea: Pouring On the Power!

Reynard

Legend
I was watching the DOTA anime on Netflix last night (which I am really enjoying, fwiw) and, being anime, it got me thinking about how fantasy characters in other media often pour on the power in dramatic scenes. It inspired a quick and simple house rule for spellcasters and I am curious what folks think about it, both flavor and balance wise:

Pour On The Power (spellcasting action)
When a character casts a spell or uses an ability which has effects that can be increased by spending high spell slots or otherwise using more resources (more ki points, etc), the character can choose to cast the spell or use the ability at its normal or minimum effect initially, and then add spell levels/resources on an ad hoc basis. The final "cost" of the spell or ability is the maximumlevel or effect it was used at.

An example because I am sure I am not being clear: a 20th level wizard casts magic missile at a charging enemy. He casts the spell at 1st level, rolling the 3 dice of damage, but then can "pour on the power" and keep adding spell levels for extra dice until the enemy drops or he decides to stop pouring it on. If the enemy finally drops after 5 increases, the wizard cast a single 6th level spell.

The intent is to allow this to work with counterspell and similar effects, too, so two casters might end up each pouting it on until someone gives.

Thoughts?
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
You better bring it with all you got! Believe it!

I think the only problem I have would be the intersection between amping up spells and saves. The best way to play it would be to cast a spell at its minimum level, and then if the enemy fails the save, pump up the damage as much as you can. Maybe that's intended, but it's a pretty nice buff to spellcasters.
 

jgsugden

Legend
I was watching the DOTA anime on Netflix last night (which I am really enjoying, fwiw) and, being anime, it got me thinking about how fantasy characters in other media often pour on the power in dramatic scenes. It inspired a quick and simple house rule for spellcasters and I am curious what folks think about it, both flavor and balance wise:

Pour On The Power (spellcasting action)
When a character casts a spell or uses an ability which has effects that can be increased by spending high spell slots or otherwise using more resources (more ki points, etc), the character can choose to cast the spell or use the ability at its normal or minimum effect initially, and then add spell levels/resources on an ad hoc basis. The final "cost" of the spell or ability is the maximumlevel or effect it was used at.

An example because I am sure I am not being clear: a 20th level wizard casts magic missile at a charging enemy. He casts the spell at 1st level, rolling the 3 dice of damage, but then can "pour on the power" and keep adding spell levels for extra dice until the enemy drops or he decides to stop pouring it on. If the enemy finally drops after 5 increases, the wizard cast a single 6th level spell.

The intent is to allow this to work with counterspell and similar effects, too, so two casters might end up each pouting it on until someone gives.

Thoughts?
I'd test the waters by giving a PC a consumable magic item that allowed it a few times. If it works, give them a boon to allow them to do it.

I don't expect it would break the game, however, to allow 'incremental' upcasting.
 

Dragongrief

Explorer
As much as it sounds awesome, there are some significant potential issues to consider:

1) Spellcasters generally aren't thought of as weak, and this would add more to them. Some sort of balance for martials should be considered.

2) As TwoSix mentioned, it could be abused by waiting to see if the enemy fails a save before adding the extra levels.

3) Spells with attack rolls. Basically turns them into paladin smite for hit/crit purposes.


That said, some things that would make it less abusable:

*Treat it like bardic inspiration - the caster can add levels until they're happy with their effort, but don't know the result until they're done.

*Roll/announce saves after damage is rolled.

*If an attack crits, only the initially declared level damage is doubled (incentivises not casting at minimum to "crit fish").

It wouldn't give you the same effect, but would have a similar feel.
 

the Jester

Legend
So you're giving spellcasters a significant power up. What are you doing to balance that against non-spellcasters? What do fighters and rogues and barbarians get in exchange?

Then, start thinking about whether an eldritch knight or arcane trickster gets both benefits, and how that balances out. If it does. Which I kinda doubt.

This reads to me like a cool thing if you really want more anime flavor in your game, but it's certainly not necessary. It's a solution in search of a problem, and in my judgment, it takes away from the primary fun of the game- meaningful decisions. That choice of using a 1st level magic missile or a 6th level one is meaningful, it affects how the game plays. You're taking that decision point away. Not to my taste, that's for sure.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
Follow-up Finisher
If you do the same action on the same (or fewer) targets as your last turn, you can choose to take a level of exhaustion to follow-up. If you do so, you have advantage on all attacks, any saves you cause are at disadvantage, and you treat and any even damage dice you roll as if you had rolled the maximum value on the die.

Once you have done this, you may not do this again until you complete a long or short rest.

---

Here, the pour on the power happens the next round. So you cast some spell (scorching ray) and it doesn't do shit.

The next round you pour on the power, and upcast scorching ray, and you treat 2s and 4s as 6s on damage, and have advantage.

Round 1 you hit 1/3 times and did 2d6(6) damage.

Round 2 you use a 5th level slot making 5 attacks. All attacks hit (advantage), one crits, and you roll 12d6 for 54 damage.

Melee characters can do the same, if a bit less effectively because they have less innate nova action capability.
 

overgeeked

B/X Known World
You could expand the number of Inspiration characters can have and expand what Inspiration can do, that way it balances for everyone. Say prof bonus in Inspiration. And adding options like advantage on damage, inflicting disadvantage on your target’s save, an extra attack action (including an extra spell), etc would be universally useful but achieve something similar to your goal. Letting players spend more than one to really pile on the effects would put you in a similar spot. You have 3 Inspiration and blow them on this one round to gain an extra spell/action, gain advantage on one spell’s damage, and give the target disadvantage to one save.
 

Stalker0

Legend
So just to clarify, what you are suggesting is to allow casters to use the "upcast" options at the end of spells, after the spell is cast.

Another example might be. A cleric casts bless, getting 3 people. 2 rounds later a new ally emerges. The cleric decides to "pour on the power", and consumes a 2nd level slot to add another person to the bless. Now there are two ways to do that:

  • Most costly: The cleric spends the new 2nd level slot AND still has consumed the 1st level slot. They are getting a huge benefit in this is a free action, but a very high cost.
  • Less costly: The consume the 2nd level slot but gaining the 1st level slot back. Aka the cost is free, you are just making upcasting more flexible.
I will say I don't see upcasting used a whole lot in games, I certainly see it used but not to a great extent, so adding some flexibility seems reasonable. I think the biggest "abuse" is as someone mentioned, you cast a low level spell to test the saving throw and then if the target fails you throw on the juice. So I think the best way to do that would be...you have to make all your decisions before the saving throw.

So you could roll the damage, and based on teh roll decide to push or not....but only after you commit your damage is the saving throw made. I think that's reasonable though it does slow down the game, generally as the DM I make the saves while the player is calculating the damage to keep things moving, so this would slow things down a bit.
 

Reynard

Legend
So just to clarify, what you are suggesting is to allow casters to use the "upcast" options at the end of spells, after the spell is cast.

Another example might be. A cleric casts bless, getting 3 people. 2 rounds later a new ally emerges. The cleric decides to "pour on the power", and consumes a 2nd level slot to add another person to the bless. Now there are two ways to do that:

  • Most costly: The cleric spends the new 2nd level slot AND still has consumed the 1st level slot. They are getting a huge benefit in this is a free action, but a very high cost.
  • Less costly: The consume the 2nd level slot but gaining the 1st level slot back. Aka the cost is free, you are just making upcasting more flexible.
I will say I don't see upcasting used a whole lot in games, I certainly see it used but not to a great extent, so adding some flexibility seems reasonable. I think the biggest "abuse" is as someone mentioned, you cast a low level spell to test the saving throw and then if the target fails you throw on the juice. So I think the best way to do that would be...you have to make all your decisions before the saving throw.

So you could roll the damage, and based on teh roll decide to push or not....but only after you commit your damage is the saving throw made. I think that's reasonable though it does slow down the game, generally as the DM I make the saves while the player is calculating the damage to keep things moving, so this would slow things down a bit.
I wasn't intending it for things like bless after the initial casting had taken effect. But that is a valid concern.

I agree with folks saying that there may be an issue with when a saving throw is taken into account for something like pouring on the power of a lightning bolt or whatever.

This would work for ANYTHING that has a player chosen variable. That is mostly spells, of course, but the paladin's smite would work the same, for example.

As to whether spellcasters are already too powerful: that isn't really a concern for me, personally. No one plays a champion fighter anyway and rogues are already too powerful.
 




Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
So you are essentially giving a Spellcaster the ability to use a single action to cast multiple spells of the same type?
Or will it be use action to cast level x then bonus action to use level x+1 slot?
 

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