Friday, October 7, 2011

Magic Missile and other mage spells

OK, I've already talked a bit about Fireball and Lightning Bolt, but  a lot more spells that I thought are kind of wonky when translated from SDR to Beacon.  Number one culprit is the change from spell slots to a point system, which I did keep in mind.  The other thing I'm finding however is that there is also a change because HP are spell points and that changes the cost. No one wants to spend 3 HP to do 1 HP damage to something - it isn't smart.  I already changed the way Cure spells work to address this, but now I'm going to look at a couple of low level Mage spells; Magic Missile and Cone of Cold.

Magic Missile does 1d4+1 and you get one extra missile every 2 levels.  In Beacon this means it's a crap spell for first level casters.  It also scales crappy because at 3HP to cast it is going to be a good spell the higher your level without the extra missiles.  So this ones needs a makeover.  Prestidigitation is garbage because it just replicates the effects of other cantrips like Create Fire and Mage Hand.   A couple more candidates are Cone of Cold and Comprehend Languages.  Cone of Cold does 1d3 points of cold damage - and at 3HP to cast that sucks.  You're better off to use your dagger.  Also since you don't want it to compete with Magic Missile as a simple blast spell it should probably focus on the cold aspect over the ray aspect.  As for Comprehend Languages, well that's a cleric spell really.  Clerics get the communication bonuses in Beacon so why the heck would wizards get this spell - there isn't enough spells to overlap like this anyway.

So here are my changes to mage spells level 0-3:
  • Prestidigitation now only deals with smoke and fog.
  • Magic Missile now does 4+1d4 damage.  You do not get additional missiles as you level up - you get more HP to cast it more often.
  • Cone of Cold is a wave of cold that emanates out from the casters hand and freezes stuff like small puddles or buckets of water.  It is shorter range (25ft+5/level) now than before (sight).  Think of it as a reverse microwave. It now does 1d6 cold damage to living creatures as a byproduct.
  • Shocking Grasp deals 2d6 + 1 point/per level electric damage.  More damage upfront because you can cast it a few times.  It also scales a bit because it's hard and dangerous to touch things and those things will get bigger as you do.
  • Comprehend Languages is now Decipher and it allows the caster to understand natural written languages only.  It does not translate magic writing but it can be used to figure out things written in code - just add a DC value for coded messages to the casting roll.
  • Protection from Missiles now more relevant since now missile weapons hit before spells do in combat.  it does 10 +1 point / caster level.  Which is now enough to stop a few arrows at 3rd level and hopefully a few more as you level up and get into bigger fights.  But its now a personal spell.
  • Fireball and Lightning Bolt will do 3d6 +1 per level (8-23 points at level 5, 13-28 at level 10).  That's still a lot, but nothing like doing 3-30 or 10-60 points of damage for 7 casting points from before.  It's also less variable.
  • Vampiric Touch does 1d8 +1 per level now.  I also put in wording to specify it can only restore physical fatigue not magic fatigue.
I think that by doing these changes I might actually see more use of the extending/widening spell rules so I might leave them in, but I'm still on the fence about it.  I like the idea of these rules but I'm not sure they are worth the additional complexity.

1 comment:

  1. Hi,

    Apologies for the off-topic comment, but I couldn't find a contact email for you.

    I've recently put out an ebook of my writing, called 'The New Death and others'. It's mostly short stories, with some obvious gamer-interest material. For example I have a story inspired by OD&D elves, as well as poems which retell Robert E Howard's King Kull story 'The Mirrors of Tuzun Thune' and HP Lovecraft's 'Under the Pyramids'.

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    I'll also link to your review from my blog.

    Yours,
    James.

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