D&D 5E Shadowdark casting in standard 5E


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Zaukrie

New Publisher
I'm curious....other than fluff/story reasons, why would a player want this? It makes magic much, much, less reliable than "mundane" attacks (I think the biggest issue with the imbalance is the fact you do partial damage on a successful save.....).
 

Reynard

Legend
I'm curious....other than fluff/story reasons, why would a player want this? It makes magic much, much, less reliable than "mundane" attacks (I think the biggest issue with the imbalance is the fact you do partial damage on a successful save.....).
So that you don't have nothing to do but pew pew after 3 rounds?
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I'm curious....other than fluff/story reasons, why would a player want this? It makes magic much, much, less reliable than "mundane" attacks (I think the biggest issue with the imbalance is the fact you do partial damage on a successful save.....).
My wife hates the bookkeeping involved in Vancian magic, even just playing a wizard, which is the least complicated arcane caster in 5E. Shadowdark eliminates all of that. When you lose access to the spell for the day, you can just cross it off.
 


SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
Spellcasting in Shadowdark is a lot more satisfying at low levels than it is in OSE/BD&D, IMO. Unless you have a run of very bad luck (or are playing a spellcaster with terrible stats), you will probably get off many more spells a day than a counterpart in BD&D would. It's just that it's always a gamble, so spellcasters are more Gandalf than Elminster, and are more judicious in their spell use.
Oh to be sure! We're come a long way from the days of OE or B/X and this definitely doesn't roll things back to those days, but if you're coming from 5E it has the effect of casting fewer spells. Which a lot of people really enjoy. That's just not me in 2023, and I think it's not most players at this point. That is unless the tone of the game really changes from expected multiple combat encounters in a game session.

I have friends who absolutely love DCC, which has the spell fumbles that they really enjoy. I've suggested Shadowdark to them and their intention is to try and run a game with it, so we'll see.
 

Reynard

Legend
Oh to be sure! We're come a long way from the days of OE or B/X and this definitely doesn't roll things back to those days, but if you're coming from 5E it has the effect of casting fewer spells. Which a lot of people really enjoy. That's just not me in 2023, and I think it's not most players at this point. That is unless the tone of the game really changes from expected multiple combat encounters in a game session.

I have friends who absolutely love DCC, which has the spell fumbles that they really enjoy. I've suggested Shadowdark to them and their intention is to try and run a game with it, so we'll see.
Assuming you left cantrips alone, I'm not sure the net effect would be "casting fewer spells."
 

DarkCrisis

Reeks of Jedi
Assuming you have at least a +3 in your prime casting stat you need an 8 or better on a D20 (better than 50%!) to cast a Teir 1 spell. Add in a talent that gives you advantage and/or an additional +1 it's even easier.

To be fair, it gets harder to cast more advanced spells and hopefully you have Talent bonuses and or scrolls and/or wands to help even further.

But yeah it can be kind of a gamble. Our level 1 Cleric failed her first Cure Wounds of the day and it sucked. Next day she healed 4 times and was still rocking.
 

SteveC

Doing the best imitation of myself
Assuming you left cantrips alone, I'm not sure the net effect would be "casting fewer spells."
Definitely! The effect at low levels wouldn't be that noticeable at all because you get few levelled spells. At higher levels depending on how many spells you get, it also wouldn't have that much an effect on high level slots too, since you get very few of them. It's going to affect spells like "shield" or "misty step". And that may be a good goal, and I'm saying that as someone playing a now 13th level wizard.
 

Pedantic

Legend
To clarify, what is the design goal?

I see a couple different design levers you could pull:
  • % chance to retain spell by PC level (assuming an expected ability score array)
  • Number of spells available to the PC (known or memorized)
  • Potential scaling of that % chance over repeated casts
  • # of guaranteed casts per spell (the most obvious numbers being 0 or 1)
Tweaking those could serve a few different goals, depending what you're trying to achieve. You can pretty easily graph out a curve of likely casts by spell/PC level, and then shift it around by messing with those numbers. You're really deciding at that point how bad you want your worst case scenario to be, how good you want the best case to be, and whether you want the most likely outcomes to result in more, less or the same casts as the current model. You would want to focus on both the daily cases, and the individual action/encounter cases. How likely is it that a caster loses a whole encounter's worth of actions?

If you want to push further, I can think of a few other possible changes, and the obvious effect on play:
  • Replacing the spell's accuracy roll with the results of the check, which would make failure more punitive, but speed up play. You may want to adjust saving throws to defenses if you do this, so you can maintain a consistent 1 roll/spell ratio.
  • Using a mishap table on a failed roll. If you combine this with spell loss, the fail state is more punitive. If it's an alternative cost to spell loss, you're shifting the spells/day curve to the right. If it's a critical failure result, you should determine how many critical failures are likely to occur based on your spells/day curve and adjust their severity accordingly.
Deciding what the design goal is will change how you value each of those changes. Do you want to decrease bookkeeping, but not significantly impact character power? Do you want to decrease character power? Do you want spells/day to be fairly consistent, or particularly volatile?
 

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