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D&D 4E What Should 4e magic be like?

HeavenShallBurn

First Post
ruleslawyer said:
Why are you assuming that this is a low-powered magic variant? I never mentioned anything about spellcasting power levels. My point is merely the following:
Kay, looks like I misinterpreted what you were getting at.

ruleslawyer said:
1) It would be nice to ditch the spell slot mechanic. Reserve feats and similar mechanics get you part of the way there; a mechanic for spinning up and using tokens or something else to generate spells each encounter gets you further. For the big booms, there are umpteen ways to base it around a success roll, so why not use that instead of slots? Sure, it's less reliable; so are attacks and skill uses.
Nothing against ditching spell slots here, I did that a long time ago. Using spell points and allowing reserve feats to operate using spell points. Though I think I'm going to see about shifting to a token-based casting system similar to one posted in the HR forum a while back. I actually prefer per-encounter balancing and an effectively unlimited number of most spells to shift from the blast-and-retreat model.

ruleslawyer said:
2) For those who want dangerous magic (am I going to need to put in this disclaimer each and every post I make in this thread?), a spellcasting skill check (as in EoM:ME or True Sorcery) would allow you to add that feature by enabling the use of a mishap or the like.
This is where I misinterpreted you. I thought you were saying that as a baseline all magic should be dangerous magic using a rolling to avoid mishap mechanic. I also thought you were applying your restriction in big magic to ALL spells. Now that it's cleared up I rather like most of your ideas. A slightly simplified version of them would be a step forward.
 

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Kae'Yoss

First Post
Geoffrey said:
I agree. It would be a big step in the right direction to replace the current magic system with something similiar to that of the d20 version of Call of Cthulhu.

Oh please no. I don't want my Wiazards going mad because they cast spells. Big turn-off. That works in a game where you die, anyway, within a couple of weeks, but not in D&D.
 

zoroaster100

First Post
The main change I'd like to see is stronger direct damage spells, but postponement or weakening of resistances, movement abilities like flying, teleport, etherealness, etc. Also, divination should be weakened so that there is always uncertainty and easier ways of concealing the truth. And I think absolute defenses or unstoppable attacks should be avoided. So for examples, spells without saves, or spells that are generally unstoppable by creatures of appropriate CR should be avoided. I don't like the way that relatively early on spells turn medieval adventurers into flying, teleporting superheroes resistant to most environmental hazzards. I prefer more of a sword and sorcery feel which keeps environment and physical skills like climbing, jumping, hiding, etc. relevant in the game.

Spells like true seeing, mind blank and hero's feast which make creatures immune to illusion, enchantment and poison, respectively, should be avoided or weakened so they merely give strong pluses to saves or similar effects.
 

ehren37

Explorer
Lanefan said:
Someone mentioned about not wanting more restrictions, and that it's easy to put restrictions back: I disagree.

The base rules should be as flexible as possible, and more or less flavor free. Let the setting books say dwarves cant me wizards for example, not the players handbook.
 

ehren37

Explorer
ruleslawyer 2) [b said:
For those who want dangerous magic[/b] (am I going to need to put in this disclaimer each and every post I make in this thread?), a spellcasting skill check (as in EoM:ME or True Sorcery) would allow you to add that feature by enabling the use of a mishap or the like.

Or something like the wilder's current ability. Dont have dangerous magic "always on" but let the player take the risk.
 

ruleslawyer

Registered User
Lanefan said:
Someone mentioned about not wanting more restrictions, and that it's easy to put restrictions back: I disagree.

It's far easier on all concerned to *remove* restrictions in a given game than it is to impose them. Just ask any DM who's tried...
I disagree back.

Restrictions are placed in most situations to prevent abusable combos or to balance extra power. Removing the restriction thus has the effect of allowing the abusable combo or giving a PC extra power. Better to have fewer restrictions and get rid of the abusable combo or extra power in the first place.
 

apoptosis

First Post
I think that it is pretty obvious that whatever system they make in 4e will suck for some people and others will love it. (do i win a prize for most obvious statement :cool: )

I wonder if this means that the magic system should not be standard but maybe have several optional magic systems that can cover the spectrum of options. In this regard maybe the different systems will have different power levels for those who want powerful magic and those who would rather have a game with more limited magic.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
ruleslawyer said:
I disagree back.

Restrictions are placed in most situations to prevent abusable combos or to balance extra power. Removing the restriction thus has the effect of allowing the abusable combo or giving a PC extra power. Better to have fewer restrictions and get rid of the abusable combo or extra power in the first place.
Where I'd rather have the powers available for other uses than the broken combo, and just restrict or ban what's broken.

It's probably a philosophical difference. I like (and run, and play) somewhat more chaotic games than I suspect most do, and if it feels at all like I'm wearing a seatbelt it loses some appeal. Example: how lightning bolts and fireballs behave in 3e as opposed to 1e; I far prefer 1e in this case, as the results are less predictable...particularly when the caster needs to roll to aim (which should become a core rule for any spell requiring aim). Yes, you should be able to fumble with magic, just as with anything else...

Part of the fun is finding the broken combo, even if the DM rules against it later. :)

Lanefan
 

phoenixgod2000

First Post
Creepy magic

I don't think that the style of magic I mentioned necessarily has to be low magic or dangerous magic. Magic in Exalted is powerful, prevalent, and completely creepy. Magic in Lord of the Rings was creepy. I think it should be a little flashier than the magic in Robert Howard stories but not much more. Wizards and clerics should be scholars. They should have something to do every round but not always an overt spell and their abilities. A combination of magical/Quasi-magical skills and spells of real world shaping power that are few in number that take feats to learn or unlock based on the skills would suite me just fine. I really like the skills and feats based force powers in the star wars system and Ken Hoods psionic system. If I could combine them with a similar more purely magic skill and feat system that allowed casters to be as useful in fights as fighters, I would never look back. unite those two with Iron Heroes and I would be the happiest guy in the world.

I think a system like that could absolutely be mainstreamed for FR or Eberron. It would actually capture the feel of the early FR novels better than the current video system.
 

ruleslawyer

Registered User
I tend to agree with you that this is the style of magic I like as well; hence why I play Iron Heroes! However, I also think that it's unlikely to be the paradigm in 4e, judging by what others have expressed here. To note another thread on the current boards, D&D is its own fantasy genre, with its own expectations. One of those, for the current base of players, is reliable and flashy magic. Get rid of that, and you've probably changed the system a bit much for their tastes.

IMO, that's a pity. I'd prefer a less flashy default magic level, with suggestions for scaling it up, if only because I'd like D&D to emulate more traditional S&S rather than supers games. But that is the history of the game, and I think turning back at this stage is probably too late.
 



ruleslawyer

Registered User
Back to likelihoods:

I'd be happy if 4e spellcasting went in either of two directions (or both!): Tightly themed spellcasting classes (like the beguiler, dread necromancer, or warmage) or a super-generic spellcasting class. What with domains, mystic theurges, Arcane Domain, and all that stuff floating around, I wouldn't mind just ditching the arcane/divine split. It'd allow balancing spellcasters more cleanly (I still have a hard time swallowing the proposition that wizards or sorcerers are balanced against the much tougher and special-ability-loaded druid) and potentially allow serious diversification, if you started with a generic spellcaster and then had talent trees, specializations, or the like that allowed increased power at the cost of restrictive spell/power selection.

Making blast effects more generic would be a nice change as well; I really don't think we need umpteen orb spells, ray spells, fireballs, lightning bolts, cones of cold, etc. and I'd be much happier to see a nice simple menu of choices (an energy, an AoE, a targeting method, and damage, plus possible secondary effects).

Of course, one of the greatest of D&D's sacred cows is the idea of individual named spells. There are advantages and disadvantages to individual spells: On the one hand, it is potentially easier to balance individual spells against each other than to balance augmentations across different effects (Increasing a spell's range from touch to short is much better for an effect like harm than for one like shocking grasp), but on the other, it leads to hundreds of pages of spell stat blocks rather than a nice thin pamphlet of the EoM:ME type.
 

HeavenShallBurn

First Post
ruleslawyer said:
Of course, one of the greatest of D&D's sacred cows is the idea of individual named spells. There are advantages and disadvantages to individual spells: On the one hand, it is potentially easier to balance individual spells against each other than to balance augmentations across different effects (Increasing a spell's range from touch to short is much better for an effect like harm than for one like shocking grasp), but on the other, it leads to hundreds of pages of spell stat blocks rather than a nice thin pamphlet of the EoM:ME type.

Yep, at once it's one of the things about the game that draws you to it and it's troublesome too.

I think a hybrid system that combined certain aspects of an EOM:ME or True Sorcery with traditional spells would be a nearly ideal compromise. Some spells remain more specific while certain other more generic effects are rolled into spells that can be modified and templated to change parts of their effects. This way you retain individual spells and don't encounter the problems of a truly freeform system like True Sorcery but you can bring in some of the flexibility of that system and simplify your spell lists.
 

Set

First Post
I would like 4E magic to be more Vancian.

That would sure be interesting to see. Bear in mind that most Vancian wizards could only memorize one single spell. Only the best of the best could memorize multiple spells at one time, and the one touted as world-reknowned and best-of-the-best was said to be able to memorize *seven* spells during a single day!

There were no 'spell levels.' Spells just were. Obviously it didn't matter if Spell X was 3rd level and Spell Y was 5th level, since the wizard would not be able to cast more than one anyway, and wouldn't be able to cast the lower-level ones more frequently (although the 'spell level' could still be a restriction, so that the lower level wizard wouldn't have access to the higher levels spells for his one / day choice).

Wizards wore no armor and carried no weapons. Not 'only simple weapons,' *no* weapons. For a wizard to rely on physical weaponry was said to indicate a lack of faith in his magical power, and may have found that his magic was unavailable, due to his lack of confidence and dedicated focus.

Given a choice between a pure Vancian system or the system from A Spell for Chameleon, where each person gets one spell ever, but can cast it at will, I'd take the latter, as it sounds a heck of a lot more playable.

I think a hybrid system that combined certain aspects of an EOM:ME or True Sorcery with traditional spells would be a nearly ideal compromise. Some spells remain more specific while certain other more generic effects are rolled into spells that can be modified and templated to change parts of their effects. This way you retain individual spells and don't encounter the problems of a truly freeform system like True Sorcery but you can bring in some of the flexibility of that system and simplify your spell lists.

I'd love an effects-based system, with examples under each effect type giving names and famous 'standard' applications. So your Arcanist is using Fire to do an Attack, and the sample write-up is 'Aganazzar's Scorcher' which Aganazzar was famous for maintaining for multiple rounds and sweeping around like a fire-hose.
 
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Nuclear Platypus

First Post
ruleslawyer said:
Back to likelihoods:
Making blast effects more generic would be a nice change as well; I really don't think we need umpteen orb spells, ray spells, fireballs, lightning bolts, cones of cold, etc. and I'd be much happier to see a nice simple menu of choices (an energy, an AoE, a targeting method, and damage, plus possible secondary effects).

I've seen something similar to this in at least 2 other places - Heroes of High Favor: Elves (IIRC) and Magic: Art and Science of Causing Change.

HoHF:E had you build your spell - damage die, range, AoE, etc. with a casting DC but I think it was unable to replicate healing spells.

M:AaSoCC likewise had you build your spell and rebuilt D&D staples like Magic Missile, etc.

An alternate route would be what Savage Worlds did. The list of spells is around a dozen since there's no difference between Cone of Cold and Flamestrike since both are attack spells. Likewise Superman's heat vision, Cyclop's eyebeams or Ghostrider's hellfire blast would also be different versions of an attack spell.

I've kind of wondered about being able to fire off spells but after awhile, it becomes more difficult and taxing to the caster. Kind of like getting burnt out on eating the same food over and over. For that matter, WotC could've made a generic stat boost spell but allowed the caster to decide what stats the bonuses go to so out of a potential +10, dump +4 into Dex, +2 into Con and +4 into Wis or a monk but a paladin gets +6 in Chr and +4 in Str. Thus the caster spends a round per target spitting out buff spells (or just 1 round if they're Mass buffs) instead of wasting a round per buff.
 


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