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Level Up (A5E) Improving spells

G

Guest 6801328

Guest
Oh, easy peasy. Let’s say a monster casts burning hands.

DM: “The caster holds his hands with his thumbs together and his fingers outstretched, and a thin sheet of flames erupts from his fingertips. Alyssa and Bob, you’re both in the affected area. What do you do?
Alyssa: I try to roll out of the way of the flames before they hit me!
DM: Ok, make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw. On a success you’ll only get singed for half damage, and either way you can use your reaction to move to a space outside the cone.
Alyssa: rolls Damn, I got a 9.
DM: Your reflexes aren’t quite quick enough. You can move out of the cone, but you’ll still take rolls 7 damage. Bob, what are you doing?
Bob: I’m not very nimble... I’m just going to grit my teeth and try to tough it out.
DM: You’ll take a direct hit from the flames, so you’ll be taking the full 7 if you do that. But if you pass a DC 12 Constitution save you can keep it together enough to make an attack against him with your reaction.
Bob: rolls 15!
DM: Awesome, make that attack roll.
Bob: Can I try to shove him prone instead of doing damage?
DM: Absolutely, let’s see that Strength check. The caster got a... rolls 11.
Bob: rolls 18!

I agree it's easy (ish?) for the DM to improvise in cases like this. What I think is hardeis to create a set of simple, clean, generalized rules that will work across a broad range of spells, without requiring a block of text for every spell.
 

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Horwath

Hero
How about having 10th level spells for full casters?

One 10th level slot at class level 19?

It could be used for upscaling mostly or some new powerful spells?

Also, do you have in mind a 2/3 caster class. Like 3.5E bard?

level 1-7 spells?

Class level 1 - 1st level spells,
Class level 4 - 2nd level spells,
Class level 7 - 3rd level spells,
Class level 10 - 4th level spells,
Class level 13 - 5th level spells,
Class level 16 - 6th level spells,
Class level 19 - 7th level spells,

Warpriest? some kind of paladin/cleric hybrid?
Or warden? ranger/druid hybrid?
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I agree it's easy (ish?) for the DM to improvise in cases like this. What I think is hardeis to create a set of simple, clean, generalized rules that will work across a broad range of spells, without requiring a block of text for every spell.
Personally I don't mind a block of text for every spell if a) it means the spell can work in ways and-or have effects unique to itself and not just more-or-less replicate one or more other spells and b) if the wording in that block of text is clear and unambiguous. D&D has never really done b) well.

The risk of shoehorning things into keywords or general rules is that much of the potential uniqueness is lost.
 


You know, I could live with a book that had the spell descriptions, sorted first by level and then alphabetically.

Of course, I would then need an alphabetic spell index page, that would tell me which level I would find a certain spell. But I would be fine with that.

When choosing a spell for a slot, I would be highly interested in comparing which spells are more powerful or more situationally useful. So I want to see their descriptions side-by-side with other spells of the same slot level.
 

Stalker0

Legend
In my eyes, the only level 10 spell is Wish. The crown of all spells!

Perhaps every fullcaster should get it, as a manifestation of mind over matter.

Agreed, if I look at all of the 9th level spells currently, Wish is the only one that stands head and shoulders above the rest. Others are "good", a few are "crap", but most just do the job of being ridiculously powerful.
 

I may be in the minority here, but adding to the spell description I think would improve it - especially with noticeable flair. So if you have a good creative writer, I would go down that hole to see what it looks like. Even simple spells, like magic missile could easily have added description text. It could range from what the spell may smell like, the gestures and words used to create the spell, its color, where it draws its power from, what happens to the spell caster for the few seconds they are casting the spell, its sound, etc.
 

I may be in the minority here, but adding to the spell description I think would improve it - especially with noticeable flair. So if you have a good creative writer, I would go down that hole to see what it looks like. Even simple spells, like magic missile could easily have added description text. It could range from what the spell may smell like, the gestures and words used to create the spell, its color, where it draws its power from, what happens to the spell caster for the few seconds they are casting the spell, its sound, etc.
The very first sentence should be the simple concept without technical terms or math. This is the elevator pitch. Then can come something poetic. Then the comes math. Hopefully a spell statblock is already in place. The math description is to clarify the context of the technical terms.
 

vincegetorix

Jewel of the North
Maybe a big ask, but I'd think it would be nice if spell that are mostly an improvement over one of lower spell level be upcasting options for said lower spell instead of being their own spell:

ex.
Silent Image -> Major Image -> Mirage Arcane
Call Storm -> Sleet Storm -> Control Weather
Tidal Wave -> Whirlwind -> Tsunami
Blink -> Word of Recall -> Scatter
Cure wound -> mass cure wounds -> Heal
Polymorph -> true polymorph

And merge the reverse-able spells

ex.
Cure wound<->Inflict wound
Bestow curse <-> Remove curse

This would lower the number of spell dramatically, but be a great boost for those casters with few known spells.
 

glass

(he, him)
In my eyes, the only level 10 spell is Wish. The crown of all spells!
Which highlights the problem with retrofitting a 10th-level slot onto an extant 9-level list. Wish is already established to be 9th level, which means all our level-10 spells need to be stronger than it.

Pathfinder 2e makes Wish 10th level, but it is not aiming to be backward compatible with anything.

_
glass.
 

Creating brand new spells, according Level Up sensibilities, is also a way to be backward compatible. D&D 5e can easily import new spells.

I second this suggestion. Also, sometimes a new spell can go a long way to improve what seems to be a weak archetype. Look at the Beastmaster, for example: having a version of hunter's mark that you could cast on your beast would improve it a lot without the need to change the core ranger.
 

Eltab

Lord of the Hidden Layer
I second this suggestion. Also, sometimes a new spell can go a long way to improve what seems to be a weak archetype. Look at the Beastmaster, for example: having a version of hunter's mark that you could cast on your beast would improve it a lot without the need to change the core ranger.
Beast of Combat that gives your animal companion (and ONLY that companion) buffs like hunters mark, heroism, or bless.
 

Giauz

Explorer
Perhaps a really simple change would be best. The big list of spell names sorted by class and alphabetically at the beginning of the Spells chapter- just put '(abbrev. School of magic)' next to each spell. That way nothing much changes for normal findability of spells, and I can make my Eldritch Knight faster.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
With the goal of taking up less space for spells that are kind of the same......

Elemental Ball:
You cast a ball of elemental energy at your enemies. (that's fireball, snilloc's snowball swarm, etc)

Damaging Bolt:
This is firebolt, ray of frost, etc.

This would maybe help people with fluff also, since really a lot of spells are just the same spell re-fluffed.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
With the goal of taking up less space for spells that are kind of the same......

Elemental Ball:
You cast a ball of elemental energy at your enemies. (that's fireball, snilloc's snowball swarm, etc)

Damaging Bolt:
This is firebolt, ray of frost, etc.

This would maybe help people with fluff also, since really a lot of spells are just the same spell re-fluffed.
That's very much like Savage Worlds.

You have a spell called "Bolt" that you have to assign a trapping to when you learn it. So perhaps you learn the spell as fire bolt, but someone else learns it as cold bolt. Later on you could pick the same spell and learning it as thunder bolt (or whatever).

The DMG has some rules for modifying spells by damage type, notably that damage die should decrease for damage types that are less resisted. But it would be nice to have something like this established in core. I love the idea of an enemy necromancer having a "necrotic bolt" while the cleric in the party fights back with a "radiant bolt" or whatever.
 

That's very much like Savage Worlds.

You have a spell called "Bolt" that you have to assign a trapping to when you learn it. So perhaps you learn the spell as fire bolt, but someone else learns it as cold bolt. Later on you could pick the same spell and learning it as thunder bolt (or whatever).

The DMG has some rules for modifying spells by damage type, notably that damage die should decrease for damage types that are less resisted. But it would be nice to have something like this established in core. I love the idea of an enemy necromancer having a "necrotic bolt" while the cleric in the party fights back with a "radiant bolt" or whatever.
See, I've always felt that genericizing spells in this way does a disservice to the game by removing a lot of flavor to magic and forcing people to make it up themselves. It's the same reason I preferred the old Ultimate Powers Book from TSR's Marvel game over the more modern effects-based systems like Mutants and Masterminds. Idiosyncrasies are replaced by unifying blandness.
 

Zaukrie

New Publisher
See, I've always felt that genericizing spells in this way does a disservice to the game by removing a lot of flavor to magic and forcing people to make it up themselves. It's the same reason I preferred the old Ultimate Powers Book from TSR's Marvel game over the more modern effects-based systems like Mutants and Masterminds. Idiosyncrasies are replaced by unifying blandness.

Fair....of course, you can put in the fluff for all the versions of the ball of energy.......but save space by not re-doing all the other stuff......

In reality, it would be great if we could figure out how to magic more magical.....but I'm not sure how to do that easily and well in an RPG where many of the players have read/played/etc magic stories for a long time.
 

Larrin

Entropic Good
See, I've always felt that genericizing spells in this way does a disservice to the game by removing a lot of flavor to magic and forcing people to make it up themselves. It's the same reason I preferred the old Ultimate Powers Book from TSR's Marvel game over the more modern effects-based systems like Mutants and Masterminds. Idiosyncrasies are replaced by unifying blandness.

I agree, I would like to see most elements having a signature spell at most levels, but I don't want them to just be clones of each other. So not just "[fill in the blank] Ball" but like level 3: fire gets a ball, lightning gets a line, thunder gets a cone, acid gets single target, psychic gets blah, etc. Spread them out among the schools too when possible.
 

CubicsRube

Adventurer
Supporter
Well most people have heard me mention it here, but by far my favourite magic system for fantasy is Shadow of the Demon Lord. Most schools are fairly tightly bound thematic packages of levelled spells to learn and modular, so you can combine as you want. If you want to have light and radiant spells, pick celestial. Want bardic spells? Pick Song. Want to be a radiant bard? Pick both and learn them.

The core book has around 30 spell schools with many more in supplements. It's great as a GM. I've created demonolist transmuters, technomancer diviners, Curse and healing witches, storm clerics, water spell pirates, teleportation shamans, and more. I don't know any other system that has this level of modularity without being totally freeform and more crunchy, like GURPS.
 

Well most people have heard me mention it here, but by far my favourite magic system for fantasy is Shadow of the Demon Lord. Most schools are fairly tightly bound thematic packages of levelled spells to learn and modular, so you can combine as you want. If you want to have light and radiant spells, pick celestial. Want bardic spells? Pick Song. Want to be a radiant bard? Pick both and learn them.

The core book has around 30 spell schools with many more in supplements. It's great as a GM. I've created demonolist transmuters, technomancer diviners, Curse and healing witches, storm clerics, water spell pirates, teleportation shamans, and more. I don't know any other system that has this level of modularity without being totally freeform and more crunchy, like GURPS.
I don't know this system, but it sounds neat.

It makes me think what if there were a system where you combined various elements: demon magic with a pinch of transmutation and then rolled to see what was created. ;)
 

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