April 7th, 2006


changing magic

I'm planning to start working out my new campaign world soon, and I want people's opinions about magic. I've decided I don't like spellcasters as they are now--they don't feel interesting or special, not to mention can easily become gamebreaking. So I want to change the flavor and mechanics of things.

First, I'm thinking I'm going to do away with divine magic and replace it with the Pact magic system from Tome of Magic. I like the flavor more, and the mechanic seems like something I'd rather have (gaining a couple special abilities instead of just a list of spells). I think I'm going to flavor vestiges as either demons or angels, using it as a basis for a religious dichotomy. But the abilities will be similar (or the same) to the Tome of Magic stuff, plus some that can replace abilities of the cleric and druid, such as turn undead and wildshape. This will also severely cut back on magical healing, which is what I want (I'm going to use the wound/vitality system, which works best in a campaign with little magical healing). I'm also planning to get rid of Paladins outright (no more worrying about interpreting their ethics--that and many people seem to think they're a boring or weak class anyway), and convert Rangers to the non-spellcasting varient from Complete Warrior. Any opinions on these changes? Has anyone tried out Pact magic yet?

But the real question is: what am I going to do about arcane magic? I think I might prefer to leave the system more or less intact, with perhaps just a few house rules to change the flavor. But there are a couple of things I want, and I'm not quite sure how to get them:

* I want to get rid of (or severly limit/discourage) the artillery mage. I don't like the fireball-lobbing wizard who is more powerful in combat than the fighter and is a better ranged combatant than a ranged specialist fighter or ranger. I'd rather mages be more utilitarian than blasters.
* I want to be able to have certain spells be rare or special. For example, perhaps something like Teleport (while a 5th level spell) is only known by a secret society of mages, so that it takes effort on the part of the mage to learn it. I don't like the automatic gaining of more and more powerful spells--the fighter has to go through a dungeon to get his +1 sword, why doesn't the mage have to do anything to learn fireball? This would also allow me as the DM to control access to spells somewhat--players can't get game-altering spells like Teleport without effort.
* I'm thinking I would like some kind of danger inherant in using magic. Nothing extreme, but just so there's a risk of something going wrong, even if it's in line with a critical miss. Mages shouldn't be able to sit and cast spells all day long without any consequences. This isn't supposed to be a discouragement as much as a way to make things a little more interesting. Like maybe a roll-to-cast method with a small (natural 1) chance of backfire. This is also be balanced by having a critical-hit type of effect, where there is an equal chance of things working really well.

Any ideas for how to have an arcane magic system that works like this? Either alternate systems, or house rules (or both). Any problems that these effects would cause that I'm missing? Thanks for your input