Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Powerful Spells

Delta, over on his blog is doing some research into spells and their evolution from the old Chainmail to their more current incarnations and this has me thinking that Beacon spells really do need some more tweaking.  I basically did a quick pass through the SRD and tried to standardize things based on one round casting times and adjust some of the more obvious point-slot based adjustments.  I was hoping things would just adjust to their natural levels, however after seeing how effective the Goodberry spell can be when cast multiple times and played smartly - I am now thinking that the magic using classes could have a few real power play tricks to pull out.

Take the two iconic spells Lighting Bolt and Fire Ball for example, both are already waaaay powerful for level 3, and in Beacon, with point based casting, they are even worse than they would be in a spell slot based casting system.  To cast a 3rd level spell you need to be level 5 and you have to spend 7hp, and you might fumble your casting (but not likely with a +5 in addition to your MIND bonus against a DC of 13).  Fireball does 1d6 per caster level so it starts at 5d6 damage for 7hp of fatigue - a very desirable ratio.  The average Mage at level 5 would have some 30hp (possibly 40) so they could lob 3-4 fireballs in a day and therefore do some 15-20 d6 (min 20 / median 70 / max 120) damage in a day (or in a single fight) for only 21-28 hp without much worry.  A 5th level fighter can probably do more over the course of a day, but not in a few rounds, and not without probably taking a pile more damage than that.  And I can see higher level mages would be tossing around gobs of fireball and lightning bolts. And it's not just those two spells - a lot of spells are built assuming that they will only be cast once or twice a day even by high level wizards.

Off the top of my head I think that I could deal with this three ways - I could either lower (half) the level adjustment for damage for these type of spells so they scale up slower, I could simply use fixed damage and assume they will be cast more (such as a 3d6 fireball and lightning bolt), or I could put daily casting limits on some or all spells.   As usual, there are drawbacks to each of these approaches. Daily casting limits is sucky because it's something more to track and it really defeats the point of using points in the first place.  Fixed damage is ok, I don't mind having the 5th level mage tossing a couple fireballs off at 5th level if they are doing 3 d6  each and can see higher level mages whipping fireballs around like gumdrops.  However I can see where limiting the alpha strike on some spells would be problematic (fighting a huge regenerating troll say) so in this case there is a good argument for scaling up the spell damage.  Changing the damage/level ratio is probably the best compromise.

I have a feeling that this issue covers a lot of spells - my hope is that the majority will have obvious levers to pull and that the synergistic surprises will be minimum.  Ack I suppose this means more scouring the documents and play testing required.

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