Infinite casting sorceror problems

Hello all,

I'm trying to imagine all the problems that would arise from the following scenario: take an 8th-level Pathfinder sorceror that has access to the Wizard, Cleric and Druid spell lists (but is still limited as usual in the number of spells he knows) and that can cast an infinite number of spells per day. For now, let's ignore:
- balance issues with other classes
- magic item usage issues

I've identified the following issues:

- Unlimited healing : after each combat, every character will be fully healed.
- Unlimited buffing : all characters will be buffed with every available buffs all the time.
- Only the best (ie highest-level) spells are used : why Shocking Grasp when you can Lightning Bolt?

Anyone see anything other major issues?

Thanks in advance, and have a nice day!

AR
 

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Celebrim

Legend
Anyone see anything other major issues?

Dimension Door at will = basically unlimited mobility.
Summon Monster IV at will = basically unlimited cannon fodder.

Dimension Door + Scrying + Buffs/Spells of your choice means that basic scry/port hit and run tactics are easily accessible.

The character is probably as powerful as 4 normal non-twink 8th level characters, with the addition that the character also will never run out of resources. Thirteen encounters per game day? No problem.

What is the context of this question?
 

Celebrim said:
What is the context of this question?

Basically that I'm entertaining the notion of not "artificially" capping magic usage per day, to try and emulate my favorite fantasy novels / series' (namely Steven Erickson's Malazan Book of the Fallen and R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing / Aspect-Emperor series. Wheel of Time is another example, but I wouldn't count it as belonging in the "favorite" category) magic users (I'm sure many other fantasy novels present magic users with more capabilities than what it's possible to do in Pathfinder - my RPG of choice).

This would of course throw balance out the window into a pool of radioactive crocodiles, and I accept that (and hope that my players will as well!), although I'm looking at ways to make martial classes still interesting.

It's not just the magic users that I want to change though (although it's a big part), but also the player's focus, trying to make it less "videogamey" (Quest to get XP and loot so you can get tougher quests to get more xp and loot - all in all not a bad thing, I'm just trying to move away from it) and more about the stories - although I still want there to be lots of combat.

Anyhoo, that's basically the thinking behind the question.

Thanks again for your answer!

AR
 

Celebrim

Legend
Basically that I'm entertaining the notion of not "artificially" capping magic usage per day, to try and emulate my favorite fantasy novels / series' (namely Steven Erickson's Malazan Book of the Fallen and R. Scott Bakker's Prince of Nothing / Aspect-Emperor series. Wheel of Time is another example, but I wouldn't count it as belonging in the "favorite" category) magic users (I'm sure many other fantasy novels present magic users with more capabilities than what it's possible to do in Pathfinder - my RPG of choice).

I'm not familiar with those books, other than the first few books of Wheel of Time, but I'd be terribly surprised if that were true. Namely, I'm willing to bet that in any average novel, the spell-casters use magic fewer times in the whole novel than your average 8th level spell-caster can manage in a day. This is the limitation I call 'narrative limits', in that regardless of the theoretically limitations that they have on spell-use, all magic users in fiction tend to act as if they were under limitations that made magic rare. For example, Gandalf is acting under the narrative limitation, "My purpose is not to oppose evil with power." Additionally, just like Gandalf, the spell-casters in 'Wheel of Time' are acting under the limitation, "Using magic is fatiguing." This is probably similar to the GURPS style standard limitation on the use of magic. Additionally, they seem by convention to also have narrative limitations, such as, "I won't use magic for mundane things." or "Male magic is tainted". The later in practice does nothing to stop magic from occurring, but serves mostly like so many other things in the text only to explain why Rand doesn't use magic more than he does.

Doing some research finds that 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' began as an AD&D game, that was moved to a GURPS campaign, so its almost certain that the spellcasters in that setting aren't unlimited in the way you suggest here but were conceived as following the sort of restrictions gaming spellcasters have. GURPS wizards are by default somewhat more limited than D&D wizards except for perhaps a few spells that they favor. A 3.X Wizard with some Reserve Feats is a far better implementation and much more equivalent to what you'd actually obtain in GURPS play than what you suggest here. Or you could just move to GURPS, although I've been there, did that, and moved back again. Or you could just move to one of the several spell point systems that are available for 3.X D&D - for example, from henseforth declaring that the only allowed class of Magic User was Psion.

In short, my guess is that throwing the limitations on D&D spellcasters out the window will imitate your favorite novels/series less well rather than more well. I guarantee that D&D PC spellcasters stripped of limits on spell use and in the hands of players won't act like the characters in books. They'll act like beings with unlimited power and lots of freedom. They'll use magic all the time, instead of just in the 'important' scenes where it shows up in the books you admire. This is equivalent to attempting to emulate a comic book universe by granting characters the powers observed in the series but not the narrative constraints they act under - for example Superman only exhibits super fast reflexes in a very small number of situations, and otherwise acts as if he is surprised by actions occurring at mundane speed except when the plot requires otherwise.

As for the rest of your goals, you won't succeed in them with this sort of change either. Consider a case like Avatar the Last Airbender where there is no obvious limitation on how often or how much you can 'bend' or use magic (though there is very strong limitations on the strength and range of magic each character can do). In this story there is to a large extent narrative balance between the spellcasters and the non-spellcasters - as typified by the character of Saka. But this balance exists as a narrative trope - the author is always trying to keep Saka interesting and relevant - and that sort of narrative force where the storyteller determines the plot won't exist for you in an RPG. As such, you won't have balance between spellcasters and non-spellcasters using the sort of simulationist systems you seem to be familiar with (which, I'm guessing is almost entirely limited to D&D).

Likewise, what you are describing about the 'video gamey' aspect of play is almost entirely a result of how you are thinking about play, and not a result of the system. Changing the system might or might not change the way you think about play, but will not be addressing the actual problem you are experiencing directly - which is probably something like, "Players act as if the goal of play was to kill things, take their stuff, and improve their character sheet."
 
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