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D&D 3E
Magic Mechanics 
21st-Jul-2005 03:26 pm
Does anyone know of a supplement for the mechanics of magic in D&D 3.5? I was thinking of something that lets a caster cast more than his daily allotment of spells, but at a penalty of inflicted subdual damage or something. The reason I want to do this is for flavor and partly to complement my explanation for magic. For example, let's say a caster has used up all of his or her spells for the day, but suddenly the party desperately requires the use of a spell. I suppose the caster could say, "Jeez...crap guys, sorry but I'm exhausted, I just don't think I can do anything for you," and let heroism flicker away. Boring! Suppsing that magic isn't supplied by some exerior entity or doesn't come from components, but is something inborn, intuitive and dependent on endurance of the mind, I think it'd be cooler if the caster, despite having pushed it to the bone for the day, mustered up strength and cast whatever spell the party needed, but at physical detriment reflective of the stress on the mind, with varying levels of pain dependent on the level of spell being "over-cast." I'm aware that this might resemble Mindcraft somehow (don't want to give the idea of creative theft from a Mr. Doug Meerschaert, planesdragon), but I've actually been mulling this idea of magic around in my head for a while, but just haven't taken the initiative to actually implement it.

Advice is welcome, since I might have this whole thing wrong.
21st-Jul-2005 11:27 pm (UTC)
Actually, I have a group of expansions to the core magic system that I've fleshed out for use in my home campaign. (If you've got your Mindcraft PDF early and are wondering what those "Ess" adjustments in Fetishes are, they're my house magic rules bleeding through.

While I'd be intersted in a playtester if you're looking for a very invovled system, my very quick suggestion to your specific problem is to let a character make a DC 20 Spellcraft check to burn XP at a cost of 4 XP per spell level per caster level -- so a 1st level spell cast at 1st level would be 4, a 2nd level at 3rd would be 24, and so on.

This pegs the cost at four times that of scribing a scroll ahead of time, which not only picks up the missing 25 gp per XP, but imposes a x2 penalty to ensure this isn't a regular occurance.

(FWIW, the above isn't part of my magic system.)
22nd-Jul-2005 05:11 am (UTC)
I'd surely be interested in looking at your house rules on magic, although I can't guarantee I'd be able to give you substantial feedback, as I've had a pretty flaky and transient group ever since I started DM'ing, so I don't get much chance to actually play. It'd still be nice to look at if it's okay with you.
22nd-Jul-2005 05:25 am (UTC)
Aye yai yai, one more thing: I haven't purchased Mindcraft yet, but most probably will within the next few weeks (looks pretty sweet). But, will it ever be available in print?
23rd-Jul-2005 02:28 pm (UTC) - YES!
There are at least two different avenues Alea is pursuing to get a printed copy of Mindcraft into the public's hands at better quality and cheaper price than printing out the PDF via a home inkjet.

It hopefully won't take more than a few weeks to get everything setup; although the printers also frequently use PDF for digital layout, the quality demands are significantly distinct between the PDFs you download and those made to make a PDF someone else prints.
21st-Jul-2005 11:28 pm (UTC)
Might be something in Unearthed Arcana, but don't quote me on it
21st-Jul-2005 11:34 pm (UTC)
It's a cool idea, and I'm all for making things more dramatic. The only way I see it working, however, is for spontaneous casters such as sorcerers and bards. For other spellcasters, magic is not inborn but is rather like an academic or religious discipline, available to anyone who's smart, wise, or motivated enough to take on its challenge. It doesn't make sense for casters who have to spend a substantial amount of time praying or preparing spells to suddenly have more available just because they're feeling very courageous. So perhaps you should implement this as a feat, available only to spontaneous casters.

Also, I think subdual damage is far too lenient. One option would be simply to limit the number of times the caster can "overcast". Otherwise, any sorcerer walking around with enough cure potions could conceivably keep spells going for far longer than should be conceivable. Or, you could make the penalty steeper, such as taking constitution damage equal to the spell's level. Or maybe a negative level for the day.
21st-Jul-2005 11:47 pm (UTC)
You want this to be a big, dramatic "movie music swells" kind of thing, rather than a "I've already used up my spells and it would great for us to have an extra Magic Missile now." right?

In that case, subdual damage is indeed too lenient. My suggestion: one point of permanent Charisma / Wisdom / Intelligence damage per level of spell.

So, yes, it's dramatic when you "overcast" that Fireball, because it drops your 17 Charisma sorcerer to 14 Charisma.
22nd-Jul-2005 12:49 am (UTC)
I would only suggest implementing something like that if you're running a high magic campaign.

While I think your idea is fantastic in the fantasy sense, it does disrupt the balance of the game.
22nd-Jul-2005 02:51 am (UTC)
if your going to do that i suggest a very high xp cost on it and give the charictor fatiuge as if he/she pushed himself past the point of exaustion i could see temporary level drain but nothing permanant or even making the charictor take damage equil to xp spent that way they cant simply say ya know what i want to use a really high level spell when im out all the time ,,,all and all its a great idea but unless it is costly it would be entirely unbalanced
22nd-Jul-2005 03:10 am (UTC)
I could see an XP cost. Kind of like a "scroll," but attach some form of "five level" bump to it. So you could, for example, cast a 3rd level spell "from exhaustion," but it would cost experience as if you inscribed an 8th level spell.

I would also require the character to roll against spell failure, as if it were an 8th level spell on a scroll.

Basically, the DM doesn't want to make this an attractive option.
22nd-Jul-2005 03:52 am (UTC)
There are rules set up for "channeling" spells, in which you burn Con or HP or some kind of endurance in order to cast spells. But there is still usually a limit on how many spells you can cast per day. As people have pointed out, this limit is fundamental to the balance. This is why it's always good to look ahead and save that last spell for an emergency.

If you use something like Action points, maybe you could burn some of them to grab an extra spell? If not, XP is a good way to go because it isn't going to totally change a character like permenantly losing CHA, but is something that can't be retrieved.

The other option is to play it as a DM favor... the players are in a tough jam and the wizard tries to dredge up a spell from somewhere, and poof! It works! Only now the wizard owes a favor to some demon who gave him the power or something. Good roleplaying opportunity or adventure hook.
22nd-Jul-2005 05:03 am (UTC)
I had thought of using Action Points to do it as well, since I've been planning to implement those into my campaign. This would definately make it simpler to work out. If it becomes too technical (I'm not quite an expert at the rules yet), I might go with this until I get better, but...

I had also forgotten that I wanted to model mental breakdown with the "over-casting," rather than physical (kind of changes things). So maybe a Will save must be made upon completing the spell or the character immediately falls unconcious and takes temporary Int/Wis/Cha damage (Don't know how much). A successful save means half damage and acting as if disabled for a number of rounds equal to the amount the save was failed by + the level of the spell, or 10 + amount save was failed by + level of the spell, I'm not sure. Should there be a chance of spell failure on this, if it even works at all?

I definitely don't want it to be a habitual thing, but more of a heroic action that shouldn't be diluted with repetition.
22nd-Jul-2005 12:54 pm (UTC)
Look at/consider the Body Fuel psionic feat. I could be adapted to casters. I'd be more inclined to Int/Wis/Cha damage, but that is debatable.

You could also have it be subject to some sort of wild magic rule. There are a bunch out there.

I personally would stick away from XP costs. They make bookkeeping a bit messier, especially if the DM does it for you.

I'm also not a big fan of subdual damage. It doesn't have any real effect, and definitely any physical/noticeable effect, until it reaches a certain level and then *boom*, you're knocked out.

You could have the caster become fatigued. You could have them take regular damage. You could limit them to partial actions for a while. Basically, anything that makes it a bit "painful" for a while should work.
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