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Incantations as a d20 spell system replacement?

Enkhidu

Explorer
After looking at incantations, I was immediately struck with how Sword-and-Sorcery/Conan/Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser - esque the system was. That got me to thinking, would it be possible to replace the existing d20/D&D Vancian magic system with this? Would it be unbalancing or even feasible?

What do you think?
 

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JimAde

First Post
The d20 Modern SRD has this to say about incantations:

Fundamentally, it’s important to realize that this system is meant as a starting point, not the last word. Anytime you have multiple modifiers to a single DC, the potential for accidental consequences or intentional abuse is there.

To keep incantations under control in your campaign, avoid creating incantations with Knowledge (arcane lore) DCs lower than 30. Conversely, don’t allow any feat, class feature, or magic item that provides a large bonus to Knowledge (arcane lore) checks. Bonuses of +2 or even +4 are fine, but larger bonuses might unbalance your game.

GMs should emphasize how much faster, easier, and safer spells are than incantations. Every incantation you create should have at least one component that’s difficult for the caster to deal with, such as an experience point cost, expensive material component, or significant backlash. Because incantations don’t require spell slots—or even spellcasting ability—you need to make sure that characters can’t simply cast incantations repeatedly, stopping only to sleep.
I think these are good points. They are very cinematic, as you said, and make great plot devices. But regularly putting them in the hands of PCs seems counter to their intent. Of course I'm assuming you mean these. Are the incantation sin UA significantly different?
 
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Storminator

First Post
JimAde said:
The d20 Modern SRD has this to say about incantations:

I think these are good points. They are very cinematic, as you said, and make great plot devices. But regularly putting them in the hands of PCs seems counter to their intent. Of course I'm assuming you mean these. Are the incantation sin UA significantly different?
UA has the same warning text.

I think they would make a great replacement, and if I had time to run another campaign I'd give it a try. :) I like how each incantation is essentially a single use spell. You aren't going to use that same incantation again. That means each time you want to use a "spell" you need to research and design it first, use it at the critical moment, then discard it.

PS
 

JimAde

First Post
Storminator said:
UA has the same warning text.

I think they would make a great replacement, and if I had time to run another campaign I'd give it a try. :) I like how each incantation is essentially a single use spell. You aren't going to use that same incantation again. That means each time you want to use a "spell" you need to research and design it first, use it at the critical moment, then discard it.

PS
Why can you use it only once? One of the warnings is against repeated use of the incantations without taking up a spell slot (or even needing to be a caster). Or is that a house rule?

I think the incantations are extremely cool for flavor. I've actually been working on a set of ritual magic rules and may lift an idea or two from incantations. Using them exclusively would definitely give you a Conan-esque feeling where magic is very rare, but can be very powerful. But I fear abuse by PCs.
 

Storminator

First Post
JimAde said:
Why can you use it only once? One of the warnings is against repeated use of the incantations without taking up a spell slot (or even needing to be a caster). Or is that a house rule?

I think the incantations are extremely cool for flavor. I've actually been working on a set of ritual magic rules and may lift an idea or two from incantations. Using them exclusively would definitely give you a Conan-esque feeling where magic is very rare, but can be very powerful. But I fear abuse by PCs.
I was thinking that incantations should be designed with an extremely narrow focus. So you don't make an incantation that summons a demon, you make an incantation that summons a specific demon to do a specific task for a specific reward. If you have a new task, it requires a new reward, and therefore a new incantation.

That's not standard, just my way of looking at things.

PS
 

JimAde

First Post
Storminator said:
I was thinking that incantations should be designed with an extremely narrow focus. So you don't make an incantation that summons a demon, you make an incantation that summons a specific demon to do a specific task for a specific reward. If you have a new task, it requires a new reward, and therefore a new incantation.

That's not standard, just my way of looking at things.

PS
That makes sense, and adheres to the spirit of the thing. I guess it's just a matter of controlling which incantations your PCs get hold of.
 

Stormborn

Explorer
I am about to introduce spell casting options for PCs into my low-magic swashbuckling homebrew world. The PCs will be allowed to either use incantations or use Call of Cthulhu spells, all of which have costs in Ability score drain. Instead of San damage I am using a Taint system that will have consequences for spell casting. a new PrC will help the PC minimize Taint, and ultimately reduce the number of checks and casters needed to use an incantation, but no single PC is likely to know more than 2 dozen spells, or more than a dozen incantations (most of which will have very specific uses). The PCs are at 4th level, and have seen magic used, and one has learned a single spell from an ancient tome, but it is still a failry mysterious thing to them, and causes a lot of trouble for the players.
 

monboesen

First Post
In my next game i think i will limit characters to having only as many spellcaster levels as they have other levels. So no one can be more than a 10th level caster.

I will then use incantations as "big" magic, making that kind of power dangerous, hard to use and costly.

Thats going to fit right in with my low-magic theme. But replacing magic completely with incantations will more or less leave it out of the players hands or at least make it very unattractive to be a spellcaster.
 

JimAde

First Post
monboesen said:
In my next game i think i will limit characters to having only as many spellcaster levels as they have other levels. So no one can be more than a 10th level caster.

I will then use incantations as "big" magic, making that kind of power dangerous, hard to use and costly.

Thats going to fit right in with my low-magic theme. But replacing magic completely with incantations will more or less leave it out of the players hands or at least make it very unattractive to be a spellcaster.
That's a really excellent idea. I think I'll steal it! :D
 

mmadsen

First Post
Is there a by-the-book way to translate lower-level spells into incantations? (They're normally for 6th-level and higher spells, right?)
 

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