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Author Topic: Balancing spells and maneuvers with a modified progression  (Read 2874 times)
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RobbyPants
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« on: October 13, 2011, 02:22:22 PM »

I'm curious how this looks for closing the gap between martial adepts and full casters.

A lot of the 9th level maneuvers seem to compare closer to 6th or 7th level spells. I was thinking of having them come online for PCs at about the same time. I'd thought of two basic approaches to do this:

1) Modify the maneuver list put existing maneuvers at lower levels where needed, and write new ones to fill in the gaps, or

2) Modify when casters get spells, and cap them at 6th or 7th level spells.

So, for this thought exercise, I'm going to try the second route. Also, I'm operating on a few assumptions for spells (based on some house-rules I'm working on):

Spell assumptions
Save or dies
These take an entire round to cast (not a full-round action)

Save or lose
These take a full-round action to cast. This includes spells that reduce other's movement to half or less, or ones that make them useless, like Baleful Polymorph.

Direct Damage
They will deal extra damage. If I'm capping spells at 6th level, I'll add one point of damage per spell level per damage die. So a 10d6 Fireball would deal 10d6+30, and a 15d6 Cone of Cold would deal 15d6+75. Also, they'd have extra effects based on the damage type.

Certain spells will probably need to be addressed on a case-by-case basis, such as Polymorph.



Modified spell progression
So, all 9th level casters would be spontaneous casters. They'd start with 0 and 1st level spells. They'd gain a new spell level every three levels after first (2nd level spells at level 4, 3rd level spells at level 7... and 6th level spells at level 16). They'd start with two spells known each spell level (three at 1st) and two spells per day each spell level. This would cap at six spells known per spell level and four per day (I can work up tables, if you'd like). Other than that, casting stats and bonus spells would work the same.

So, comparing spell levels to maneuver levels, you'll end up with these rough equivalences:

Maneuver Level   Spell Level
1                1
2                2
3                2
4                3
5                4
6                4
7                5
8                5
9                6




Saving Throws
Now, with spell levels being lower, it might be prudent to adjust how saving throws work. Perhaps for all spells and maneuvers, the save should simply be 10 + 1/2 HD + casting/initiating stat.


Issues I already see
D&D has a rich heritage of pitting players against monsters with nasty abilities several levels before they get counters to those abilities. You run into creatures that can paralyze you well before you get Remove Paralysis. You run into creatures that can drain levels well before you get Restoration. Petrification is even worse. Delaying spell levels like this only exacerbates the problem. An easy fix is to move some of those spells up a level or two. This would end up putting Remove Paralysis at 1st level and Restoration at 2nd level (and probably Lesser Restoration at 1st, by extension). It's a kludge, but it might work.

There are some weird side effects, like Dread Necromancers having to wait until 10th level to animate dead. A quick fix is to move Animate Dead to 3rd level for them.


So why am I considering doing it like this?
Well, I figured this might be a quicker spot fix than redoing the entire maneuver list and writing new maneuvers from scratch. With 6th level spells, you still get a lot of staples, like save or dies, teleportation, planar travel, making outsiders do your bidding, raising the dead, and some other thematic effects. It's still enough to tell most stories.

I also did this to help balance against monsters. If I started doling out maneuvers that keep up with 9th level spells, the game would just go full RLT at high levels instead of mostly-RLT. Personally, I'd like the game to be somewhat playable at higher levels. It's still breakable, but I'm hoping the broad case would work better, and I can deal with corner cases as they come up.


What'd I miss?
So, how's it look? Terrible? Has promise? My heart's in the right place but I'm a misguided fool? How does this look like it'd stack up against maneuvers at equal character level?
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My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
SneeR
Bi-Curious George
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Posts: 432


Sneering


« Reply #1 on: October 13, 2011, 10:51:00 PM »

My question is this: What happens to the high-level spells? They just don't exist?

I personally think that spells like Time Stop and Wish are staples of D&D, but I agree that they are too powerful for everyday use... What if artifacts that emulated these spells could be worn and used liked eternal wands: Only once or twice per day, but they also take a body slot. To be even better, you need to wear the item for 24 hours before it attunes to you and you can cast from it. Anyone can cast from it, too!
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The answer to everything:
SneeR
I don't know if the designers meant you to take Skill Focus for every feat.
Sounds a little OP.

The monk is clearly the best class, no need to optimize here. What you are doing is overkill.

It's like people who have no idea what a turn signal is. They ruin it for everyone else.
When another driver brandishes a holy symbol and begins glowing with divine light, seek cover or get spattered with zombie brains. I do not see what is so complicated about this.
bkdubs123
Organ Grinder
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Posts: 2724


« Reply #2 on: October 13, 2011, 11:10:56 PM »

My solution would be to rewrite the spell lists, but keep 1st through 9th level spells. I just prefer the continuity and symmetry. Powers go to 9, whether they are martial, spellcasting, or psionic. Or 10 maybe even would be best. I'd also probably rewrite a lot of the more useless maneuvers and probably write up some more of them to go around.

I do think that save DCs should universally be 10 + 1/2 level + relevant stat.

I do think that many spells should be shifted around and/or omitted.

I also think that many of the "staple spells" such as Teleport, Plane Shift, and Wish should remain in the game as Rituals. With hefty costs, not in just gp value, but also time, and personal costs like permanent level loss, ability burn, etc, etc. Powerful magic beyond the ken of mortal or god alike that must be channeled through omniversal ley lines. That sort of awesome.
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oslecamo
Grape ape
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Posts: 1940



« Reply #3 on: October 13, 2011, 11:31:52 PM »

I also think that many of the "staple spells" such as Teleport, Plane Shift, and Wish should remain in the game as Rituals. With hefty costs, not in just gp value, but also time, and personal costs like permanent level loss, ability burn, etc, etc. Powerful magic beyond the ken of mortal or god alike that must be channeled through omniversal ley lines. That sort of awesome.

The problem being because nobody wants to pay high costs, and people will seek all possible ways of skipping them.

So make sure to add a clause along the lines of "This only works if the exp/gold/time cost is actualy paid. Magic doesn't care if you binded some obscure outsider in your personal plane. You'll still having to spend 1 hour in the material plane and spend the gold and exp to cast this"
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RobbyPants
Organ Grinder
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Posts: 7139



« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2011, 01:21:24 AM »

My question is this: What happens to the high-level spells? They just don't exist?
I could see certain monsters using them, but I just wouldn't have them granted by classes.


I personally think that spells like Time Stop and Wish are staples of D&D, but I agree that they are too powerful for everyday use...
They're D&D staples, but I don't know how necessary they are in terms of telling most fantasy stories.


My solution would be to rewrite the spell lists, but keep 1st through 9th level spells. I just prefer the continuity and symmetry. Powers go to 9, whether they are martial, spellcasting, or psionic. Or 10 maybe even would be best. I'd also probably rewrite a lot of the more useless maneuvers and probably write up some more of them to go around.
Yeah, I could certainly put forth a lot more work to get better results. I don't deny that. I'm just curious how you feel this looks in terms of balance?
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My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
veekie
Organ Grinder
*****
Posts: 9034


WARNING: Homing Miko


« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2011, 02:49:12 AM »

In most fantasy stories, those spell effects tend to be high cost, even for powerful magi, and certainly not something you pop out freely. Each have their limits(if often arbitrary or ineffective ones)

Teleportation almost always requires a focus for the location(which may not be from the location itself, just something attuned to it), having been there personally for an extended period(I find most of these generally are highly familiar like residences, or at least spent some time there resting etc), limited to specific arrival/departure locations(in which case the teleportation mechanic itself only requires knowledge of how to trigger the effect), limited in range(most 'battle teleportation' is measured in feet and meters, and rarely go as far as line of sight even), or barring all of the others, limited in speed and medium(generally a hyperspace method, where you transit through a shortcut that takes less time to cross, but the shortcut is accessible to others or contains hazards)

Wishes themselves are a misnomer, since the origin of wishes are basically an arbitrarily powerful being relative to the protagonist contracted to perform tasks which are trivial, or at least, easy for a being of its stature. Generally this can be replicated by having great strength, speed, stamina, ability to transform objects and creatures, flight, ability to conjure objects(often via transportation rather than creation).

Time stop is a matter of scope.Traditional D&D Time Stop is quite the oddball given the stories, you more often see physically limited time alteration. So you might see time freeze spheres, where everyone is frozen, or more commonly, you have the mythic 'time stood still' effects, which is more a matter of isolated time. Everyone acts more or less normally, but objective time halts(the sun remaining in place for virtually hours etc).

The list goes on, but its important to differentiate availability and effect of a battlefield spell, an effort consuming but routine spell, and plot level spells. The list here probably only concerns battlefield spells. Miscellaneous spells that are just inappropriate for combat only really need a time and conditionality application. Plot level spells require non-valued components, or an extreme cost that is not reducible. Or maybe they're just outside playable character range.
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It's also a little cold because of that.
Please get it a blanket.

I wish I could read your mind,
I can barely read mine.

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"Just what do you think the moon up in the sky is? Everyone sees that big, round shiny thing and thinks there must be something round up there, right? That's just silly. The truth is much more awesome than that. You can almost never see the real Moon, and its appearance is death to humans. You can only see the Moon when it's reflected in things. And the things it reflects in, like water or glass, can all be broken, right? Since the moon you see in the sky is just being reflected in the heavens, if you tear open the heavens it's easy to break it~"
-Ibuki Suika, on overkill

To sumbolaion diakoneto moi, basilisk ouranionon.
Epigenentheto, apoleia keraune hos timeis pteirei.
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RobbyPants
Organ Grinder
*****
Posts: 7139



« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2011, 03:06:12 AM »

Another way to look at this is balancing spells to ToB maneuvers in terms of power level. I'm not saying the ToB maneuvers are perfect; there are a lot of weak ones mixed in there and a few that are a bit too good. Still, I like the overall effect. The quick and dirty way I could see to getting there was to simply cut off spells at level 6. Redistributing the spell lists could be another way too, keeping them at 9 levels.

Still, how well do you think spells and maneuvers match up given that progression:

Maneuver Level   Spell Level
1                1
2                2
3                2
4                3
5                4
6                4
7                5
8                5
9                6
Logged

My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
ImperatorK
Bi-Curious George
****
Posts: 500



« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2011, 03:27:45 AM »

1st level spells - 1-2 class level
2nd level spells - 3-4 class level
3rd level spells - 5-6 class level
4th level spells - 7-8 class level
5th level spells - 9-11 class level
6th level spells - 12-14 class level
7th level spells - 15-17 class level
8th level spells - 18-19 class level
9th level spells - 20 class level

That's the first houserule I would make if I would want to houserule full casters.
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"I'm done thinking for today! It's caused me enough trouble!"
"Take less damage to avoid being killed."
"In the arena of logic, I fight unarmed."


Quote from: Lateral
Or you could just be a cleric of an ideal. Like, physics and say that the domain choices reflect potential and kinetic energy.

 Plus, where other clerics say "For Pelor," "For Nerull," or "For Crom?" You get to say, "FOR SCIENCE!" *fanfare*

About me:
Quote from: dark_samuari
I know your game, you just want a magical Amazon.com to knock off those good ol' honest magic shops run by polite, old wizards!
Use Iron Heart Surge on the sun. That'll teach him to use fluff as RAW.

Damn you! You totally ruined my build that was all about getting epic far shot early and throwing my enemies into the sun!
ImperatorK
Bi-Curious George
****
Posts: 500



« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2011, 11:32:42 AM »

What, no comments?
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"I'm done thinking for today! It's caused me enough trouble!"
"Take less damage to avoid being killed."
"In the arena of logic, I fight unarmed."


Quote from: Lateral
Or you could just be a cleric of an ideal. Like, physics and say that the domain choices reflect potential and kinetic energy.

 Plus, where other clerics say "For Pelor," "For Nerull," or "For Crom?" You get to say, "FOR SCIENCE!" *fanfare*

About me:
Quote from: dark_samuari
I know your game, you just want a magical Amazon.com to knock off those good ol' honest magic shops run by polite, old wizards!
Use Iron Heart Surge on the sun. That'll teach him to use fluff as RAW.

Damn you! You totally ruined my build that was all about getting epic far shot early and throwing my enemies into the sun!
RobbyPants
Organ Grinder
*****
Posts: 7139



« Reply #9 on: October 16, 2011, 03:53:30 AM »

What, no comments?
That's kinda how I feel. No one is answering the question I asked.

As for your progression, the idea has merit. It keeps all 9 level spells and slows the progression after 4th level spells. My two issues with it are that 4th level spells are really when casters start to pull ahead of the non-casters, so I'd like to delay them further, and I was trying to balance maneuvers to spells in terms of character level. 9th level spells completely outclass 9th level maneuvers.
Logged

My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
Unbeliever
King Kong
****
Posts: 766



« Reply #10 on: October 16, 2011, 04:58:47 AM »

Would spell casters get a recharge mechanic? Hell I'd be happy with a TOB type approach for all abilities though that's soemthong akin to 4E.

Personally I don't really think high level spells are the problem. When I think of the most problematic spells they aren't all that high of level and it's their level that makes them annoying. What I mean to say is the modal 8th or 9th level spell isn't a problem: I've never found cause to complain about meteor swarm or prismatic sphere. Even force cage doesn't really bother me. Solid fog, polymorph, and so on seem to be the annoying ones - that is spells that are game breaking or have weird poorly thought out rules. Solid fog for example kills your speed no matter how fast you are, has no save, affects multiple targets and so on all for one spell.

I guess I'm not sure what problem this is designed to solve.
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Bauglir
Man in Gorilla Suit
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Posts: 2346


TriOptimum


« Reply #11 on: October 16, 2011, 05:23:44 AM »

If you want to include the level 6+ spells at a cost, make them cost 1 action point per spell level above 6th, and you can cast 1 per day of any such level and they have a minimum casting time of 1 full round (unless the spell's advantage is almost entirely due to being so action-efficient; kind of a subjective thing, though, and it doesn't satisfy me, but I'm too lazy to look for examples). Also, the Spellcraft DC to identify them actually goes down - the complexity of the spells and their extreme rarity makes it very difficult for spellcasters to modify them to suit their own tastes, and their power has made them so legendary in spellcasting circles that it's easy to recognize the distinctive patterns. That's mostly fluff, though. Finally, you can counterspell them only with another spell of the appropriate level (in which case neither counts as used for your 1/day limit, but the action points are still expended), to represent the "Powerful mages dueling by overcoming each others' mightiest spells" trope. Not sure on that last idea, kind of thought of it on a whim.

Oh, and axe effects that let you get more action points. Only the ones you get for your levels are legit.
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So you end up stuck in an endless loop, unable to act, forever.

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ImperatorK
Bi-Curious George
****
Posts: 500



« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2011, 02:44:52 PM »

Personally I don't have any problems with tier 1 classes or 9th level spells. That's why I would never nerf them by banning them. That's why I'd rather delay at least a little their power increase.

Quote
As for your progression, the idea has merit. It keeps all 9 level spells and slows the progression after 4th level spells. My two issues with it are that 4th level spells are really when casters start to pull ahead of the non-casters, so I'd like to delay them further, and I was trying to balance maneuvers to spells in terms of character level. 9th level spells completely outclass 9th level maneuvers.
I don't know what to think about making spells like maneuvers, but delaying 3rd level spells is a good idea.

so now it would look like that:
1st level spells - 1-2 class level
2nd level spells - 3-4 class level
3rd level spells - 5-6 class level
4th level spells - 7-9 class level
5th level spells - 10-12 class level
6th level spells - 13-15 class level
7th level spells - 16-18 class level
8th level spells - 19 class level
9th level spells - 20 class level

Now I'm not certain what to do with higher level slots. allow them to be used for lower level spells (or metamagic'ed lower level spells) or just not give them until the caster reaches that spell level?
My only goal is to delay caster power, not to nerf it. I don't want to lower caster number of spells, that's why I think I allow the use of the higher level slots. And it will have the additional advantage of making Sorcerers a little more attractive because they'll have the same spell level but more slots of their highest level spells, at least initially.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 02:57:41 PM by ImperatorK » Logged

"I'm done thinking for today! It's caused me enough trouble!"
"Take less damage to avoid being killed."
"In the arena of logic, I fight unarmed."


Quote from: Lateral
Or you could just be a cleric of an ideal. Like, physics and say that the domain choices reflect potential and kinetic energy.

 Plus, where other clerics say "For Pelor," "For Nerull," or "For Crom?" You get to say, "FOR SCIENCE!" *fanfare*

About me:
Quote from: dark_samuari
I know your game, you just want a magical Amazon.com to knock off those good ol' honest magic shops run by polite, old wizards!
Use Iron Heart Surge on the sun. That'll teach him to use fluff as RAW.

Damn you! You totally ruined my build that was all about getting epic far shot early and throwing my enemies into the sun!
RobbyPants
Organ Grinder
*****
Posts: 7139



« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2011, 01:51:46 PM »

I'll probably end up moving away from this and just try to beef up maneuvers a bit.
Logged

My balancing 3.5 compendium
Elemental mage test game

Quotes
Quote from: Cafiend
It is a shame stupidity isn't painful.
Quote from: StormKnight
Totally true.  Historians believe that most past civilizations would have endured for centuries longer if they had successfully determined Batman's alignment.
Quote from: Grand Theft Otto
Why are so many posts on the board the equivalent of " Dear Dr. Crotch, I keep punching myself in the crotch, and my groin hurts... what should I do? How can I make my groin stop hurting?"
Quote from: CryoSilver
I suggest carving "Don't be a dick" into him with a knife.  A dull, rusty knife.  A dull, rusty, bent, flaming knife.
Quote from: Seerow
Fluffy: It's over Steve! I've got the high ground!
Steve: You underestimate my power!
Fluffy: Don't try it, Steve!
Steve: *charges*
Fluffy: *three critical strikes*
Steve: ****
Quote from: claypigeons
I don't even stat out commoners. Commoner = corpse that just isn't a zombie. Yet.
Quote from: CryoSilver
When I think "Old Testament Boots of Peace" I think of a paladin curb-stomping an orc and screaming "Your death brings peace to this land!"
Quote from: Orville_Oaksong
Buy a small country. Or Pelor. Both are good investments.
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