D&D 5E Spellcasting Using the Recharge Mechanic

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
First, I love the concept of the recharge mechanic, so for several months now my Saturday group has been using the Recharge mechanic for cantrips. In other words, if you cast a cantrip, to cast a cantrip on your next turn you have to roll a successful recharge (a 5 or 6 on the d6). It has been working very well and we've enjoyed using it because it avoids the pew pew aspect of cantrips in 5E (something we don't care for--if you like it, this isn't for you!)

Since then, I've been thinking about trying out a similar system for 1st and higher level spells as a way of replacing spell slots. The table below is just a first draft of the recharge number needed after casting a spell in order to use magic on your next turn.

For example, suppose your PC is a 7th level caster and you cast invisibility, a 2nd-level spell. Your recharge number is a 5. On your next (and subsequent) turn, you begin by rolling a d6. If you roll a 5 or 6, you can use magic on the turn. If you roll 4 or lower, you cannot; but you can try again on the following turn, and so forth, until you succeed.

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Some current options:
  1. If you cast a spell of your tradition school, domain spells, etc. you make your recharge roll with advantage.
  2. You can reduce the recharge number by 1 on subsequent attempts if you want to recover your magic sooner.
  3. Casting spells of 6th level or higher are limited to once per long rest (akin to Mystic Arcanum).
  4. If you roll a 1 on the recharge, you cannot cast any spells until you finish a short or long rest.

There are many pros and cons to such system, depending on what you want in your game. I am meeting tomorrow to discuss it with my group and get their thoughts, but I figured I would throw it out on the forum to get other thoughts.

I'm not tied to this idea yet in any real way, but think it (or a variant) might work. Feel free to leave any comments, concerns, or questions. :)



EDIT: Comments after talking to group members (2 out of 3 groups, last night's group didn't meet, so we'll see next week...)

Definitely thought either advantage for tradition, domain, patron, etc. or whatever would be good. It was suggested that perhaps if you have "no magic" due to a failed recharge, you could always cast those "extra spells" from domains, oaths, etc. without having to wait for a long rest. I like that I idea and said we could try it first and roll it back if it seemed too much.

They weren't so sold on reducing the recharge number to regain magic faster--the consensus is that is probably won't be needed since the point is to have less magic anyway. But once we try it out, they might change their minds. We'll see.

Perfectly happy with the only one 6th+ level spells per long rest. In fact, some are even for only one of any level above 5th. So, not one of each, but one total.

All the players I've had a chance to talk to are certainly up for trying it. They do have some concerns about the "no magic on a 1 until a rest" rule, but thought either gaining exhaustion or spending hit dice to replenish magic would be a nice way to try it and see how it works out.
 
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Rabulias

the Incomparably Shrewd and Clever
  1. You can reduce the recharge number by 1 on subsequent attempts if you want to recover your magic sooner.
Maybe I am dense but I don't understand this option. Who would not want to recover their magic sooner? What is the trade-off here?
  1. If you roll a 1 on the recharge, you cannot cast any spells until you finish a short or long rest.
Unless you are 19th level or higher and you can cast a cantrip. Additionally, this seems like it could knock a caster out of a fight with a bad recharge roll. It does not sound like fun for the caster's player. And this will almost guarantee a short rest after every fight.
 


Voadam

Legend
I've used variants of the 3.5 recharge magic system in 3.5, Pathfinder, and 5e where instead of slots you get one spell per spell level which are each on recharges after casting which lowers nova potential a lot but also means you can count on a steadier baseline level of magic in each fight and you make interesting choices about which spells to use in a situation against immediate opportunity costs.

If fights go on long enough it also produces interesting ebbs and flows of magic power being thrown.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
Does this mean that use of out-of-combat utility and long-lasting spells from 1st to 5th level are effectively unlimited unless you roll a 1?

With the assumption of a short rest every 2-3 encounters, you don't have any players of pure casters who find it boring to roll a 1 on the first spell they cast after a rest and then have no magic for several encounters?
 

dave2008

Legend
I like the recharge idea for cantrips (with the option to spend a slot if they really want to), but not for regular spells. I may use that in my next campaign (I am drafting up some potential house rules now)
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
First of all, I would like all to understand this isn't a concept that has been tried out and was only today discussed with one of my groups. So, I cannot answer how it actually plays or what people think of it in actual game-play yet. I don't know if we'll ever even try it, but I found the concept compelling considering the success we've had using recharge for cantrips.

Maybe I am dense but I don't understand this option. Who would not want to recover their magic sooner? What is the trade-off here?
The default would be to not lower the recharge, making more powerful spells harder to recover from. If you want them easier to recover from, then reduce the recharge number after failed attempts. I am concerned with both options, one might be too restrictive, the other not enough.

Unless you are 19th level or higher and you can cast a cantrip. Additionally, this seems like it could knock a caster out of a fight with a bad recharge roll. It does not sound like fun for the caster's player. And this will almost guarantee a short rest after every fight.
Currently, that is true, but that might change to 2's as well. No, a caster would not be "out of a fight", but would have to resort to doing things other than casting spells. This might be weapon attacks, using the Help or other actions, or using magical items.

Whether it is fun or not depends on what sort of challenge you enjoy. It will never guarantee a short rest after every fight. The DM sets the pace and decides when rests actually happen or not. If the DM is incredibly lenient, then sure (FWIW, I'm not... ;) ).

So instead of having per day slots, you have a recharge time of possibly multiple rounds in a fight to the entire fight where they can't cast any magic?
Yes and sort of. It becomes a balance of using your most powerful spells (and risking high recharge) vs. using lower-level spells and having a better chance to cast again sooner. After each encounter (unless you have chain-encounters), it will recharge on an average of 6 rounds or less, so in general whenever you begin an encounter, you'll have magic at your disposal. So, you will pretty much never have an entire fight where you can't cast any magic.

What do your wizard/sorcerer/warlock PCs generally do on the rounds when they can't do even minor magic?
Do things other than casting spells. This might be weapon attacks, using the Help or other actions, or using magical items.

Which is entirely the point. If you enjoy slinging around cantrips and spells every round--having magic so prevalent in your game--this isn't for you. :)

Does this mean that use of out-of-combat utility and long-lasting spells from 1st to 5th level are effectively unlimited unless you roll a 1?
Yes, which at a 1 in 6 chance makes casting any of them superfluously a risk.

With the assumption of a short rest every 2-3 encounters, you don't have any players of pure casters who find it boring to roll a 1 on the first spell they cast after a rest and then have no magic for several encounters?
For one thing, I don't play with that assumption. A short rest is whenever the players narratively have a place and chance to rest and decide they need to rest.

Otherwise, it is an option I am still considering. With this idea magic becomes something that is used only when actually needed due to the risk involved, not just any old time you want.

Again, if you don't like the idea of restricted magic, none of this is for you. ;)

I like the recharge idea for cantrips (with the option to spend a slot if they really want to), but not for regular spells. I may use that in my next campaign (I am drafting up some potential house rules now)
Like I said, we like it a lot and I recommend it if you don't like the pew pew of cantrips in your game.

Honestly, I don't know if it will work as well for regular spells or not--or if I'll even try it--right now it is just in the concept phase.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I am concerned with both options, one might be too restrictive, the other not enough.
Why not increase the recharge roll's range of a spell slot level by 1 at the cost of 1 level of exhaustion? (going with the 1D&D rules here, I guess you probably have your own exhaustion table).

As for the recharge itself, I think the caster should make all their re-rolls at the start of the turn to then have a clear view of what spell level is available, if any.

And, on a roll of 1, I'd either go with 1) you cant try this specific spell until X or 2) you cant recharge this spell level until X.

And I'd make recharge roll only available on spell level of 1 to 5-6.

I'd also make more spells ''rituals'' with a consumed cost (well, any spell with a casting of more than 1 action), to allow more safe casts of utility spells. You dont want PCs avoiding casting outside of combat for the fear of starting battle with no available magic.
 

DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
Why not increase the recharge roll's range of a spell slot level by 1 at the cost of 1 level of exhaustion? (going with the 1D&D rules here, I guess you probably have your own exhaustion table).
If it was going to involve a level of exhaustion (certainly a nice idea!) I would simply allow the recovery of magic--no roll needed.

As for the recharge itself, I think the caster should make all their re-rolls at the start of the turn to then have a clear view of what spell level is available, if any.
That isn't how the concept works. You roll according to the spell you just cast.

For example, at 7th level if you cast fireball, your recharge number is 6. If you don't roll a 6 on your next turn, you can't cast any spell of any spell level.

But, and maybe this is something more of what you are thinking, perhaps that single roll will indicate what spell levels are available, if any.

For example, consider the progression for an 11th level caster:

1671365823464.png


After casting a spell, at the start of their next turn they roll the recharge die and get a 4. This would allow them access to Cantrips, 1st, and 2nd level spells for their current turn, but not 3rd through 6th. If the roll had been a 1 or 2, they would not be able to cast that turn.

While this isn't a bad idea, it does lead to some potentially abusing spell casting with lucky rolls. The PC casts a 6th level spell, rolls a 6, casts another 6th, rolls a 6 again, casts another 6th!

So, I don't think that would really work...

And, on a roll of 1, I'd either go with 1) you cant try this specific spell until X or 2) you cant recharge this spell level until X.
It seems like too much to bother tracking IMO, but I can talk to the others about it. Personally, I would rather keep it simpler and just go with it is just a failure for that turn, or no magic until X (short rest or whatever, maybe spending a HD or gaining exhaustion?).

And I'd make recharge roll only available on spell level of 1 to 5-6.
That was actually my original plan, was just spells 1-5 levels and then do a mystic arcanum thing for 6-9 levels.

I'd also make more spells ''rituals'' with a consumed cost (well, any spell with a casting of more than 1 action), to allow more safe casts of utility spells. You dont want PCs avoiding casting outside of combat for the fear of starting battle with no available magic.
You wouldn't. Suppose a caster casts darkvision on another PC. The caster would really be just about guaranteed (7775 out of 7776) to have magic again after 30 seconds, so unless a battle happens almost immediately after the casting, they will have magic available for when the next battle begins.
 

The possibility to roll a 1 and block casting until a rest is too punishing.

For a 5th level caster, recharge on 5-6, can make you cast one spell a fight including cantrip, very often. Considering fight lasting 3-4 rounds, really easy to roll under 5 few times in a row and be block for the rest of the fight.

The fun for a caster is to cast spell, not roll high on recharge dice!
 
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