Saving Throws and Proficiencies

Okay, I lied. I actually have a few additional posts to share with you. Today I want to consider the rules for Saving Throws, Weapon Proficiencies, Armour Proficiencies and Shield Proficiencies. These new rules are designed to make multiclassing flow a little more easily in the game. I think these changes are entirely fair. Let’s see what you think.

Saving Throws

Third edition uses the same saving throw table for all core classes and all prestige classes. I’m sure you’re very familiar with it, but let’s take a quick look for old times sake:

Level

Good Save

Poor Save

1

+2

+0

2

+3

+0

3

+3

+1

4

+4

+1

5

+4

+1

6

+5

+2

7

+5

+2

8

+6

+2

9

+6

+3

10

+7

+3

11

+7

+3

12

+8

+4

13

+8

+4

14

+9

+4

15

+9

+5

16

+10

+5

17

+10

+5

18

+11

+6

19

+11

+6

20

+12

+6

The standard third edition table gives character a +2 bump in their good saving throws at first level. Arguably, if it wasn’t for this small advantage the character wouldn’t be able to hold his own in the game world. A fighter without +2 in Fortitude at 1st level wouldn’t be the robust powerhouse of the party (in relative terms, of course).

The problem comes when a player multiclasses into lots of different classes that give him the same 1st level bump to the same saving throw. A 4th level character who has 1 level in fighter, 1 level in paladin, 1 level in cleric, 1 level in monk has a +8 base fortitude saving throw, and +2 in Reflex and Will. It’s an extreme example, but extrapolated over a number of levels you have the problem that a character can be almost certain to succeed at one saving throw, and almost certain to fail the other two.

To be honest, as long as you allow multiclassing there’s not much you can do about this except to try and put it off for as many levels as possible. And that’s what Pathfinder does. It keeps the original third edition saving throw table for the core classes, but when it comes to prestige classes it uses a completely different one:

Level

Good Save

Poor Save

1

+1

+0

2

+1

+1

3

+2

+1

4

+2

+1

5

+3

+2

6

+3

+2

7

+4

+2

8

+4

+3

9

+5

+3

10

+5

+3

It’s quite a difference isn’t it? The Poor Save for prestige classes is slightly improved, but the Good Save is significantly less… well, Good, than it used to be. You can see why they’ve done this. Pathfinder has taken out the XP penalty for monstrously multiclassed characters, so they’ve found other ways to penalise such builds. Players who take on too many prestige classes will find themselves with lower saving throws than someone who only has one class.

The trouble is that I don’t think this is a very good solution. In my experience, the main problem with multiclassing doesn’t come from a character taking on an insane number of prestige classes: it comes from taking levels in multiple core classes. And these rules do nothing to stop that. In fact by making the saving throw progression of prestige classes unattractive, they encourage more multiclassing between core classes.

Let’s look for a second at dear old Elias Raithbourne. I keep trotting him out as an example of an overclassed character – but to be fair this choice of classes perfectly reflects how Marc has played him over the years, and I have no problem at all with his choices. Anyway, Elias is currently a (deep breath!) Sorcerer 1, Fighter 2, Rogue 2, Paladin 5, Pious Templar 4, Glorious Servitor 3. He has four core classes and two prestige classes. These rules aren’t as harsh on him as Pathfinder probably intended.

So here’s my compromise. It’s a new saving throw table that is the same for Core Classes and for Prestige Classes. It walks the middle line between the original saving throw table, and the new Pathfinder one. It makes all multiclassing equal. Here it is:

Level

Good Save

Poor Save

1

+1

+0

2

+2

+0

3

+2

+1

4

+3

+1

5

+3

+1

6

+4

+2

7

+4

+2

8

+5

+2

9

+5

+3

10

+6

+3

11

+6

+3

12

+7

+4

13

+7

+4

14

+8

+4

15

+8

+5

16

+9

+5

17

+9

+5

18

+10

+6

19

+10

+6

20

+11

+6

In this table, the poor saving throw is the same as the standard third edition table. The good saving throw is slightly emasculated. From now on you only get +1 at first level instead of +2. But don’t panic, there’s slightly more to it than that.

The class you take at first level gains a special one-time bonus to its good saving throws. For example if Fighter is the class you take at first level, then you gain a special +1 bonus to your Fortitude saving throw. Anyone multiclassing into Fighter after first level doesn’t get that bonus. This preserves the necessary +2 bump to good saving throws at 1st level, but prevents anyone from getting that bump later on by multiclassing.

The rules should be obvious, but here are the bonuses that each of the eleven core classes (and the warlock, because I likes warlocks) get at 1st level:

Barbarian: +1 Fortitude
Bard: +1 Reflex, +1 Will
Cleric: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
Druid: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
Fighter: +1 Fortitude
Monk: +1 Fortitude, +1 Reflex, +1 Will
Paladin: +1 Fortitude, +1 Will
Ranger: +1 Fortitude, +1 Reflex
Rogue: +1 Reflex
Sorcerer: +1 Will
Warlock: +1 Will
Wizard: +1 Will

Characters who used the Version 3.0 rules for apprentice characters (and therefore have two classes at first level) must choose which of those two characters get the saving throw bonus. They can’t have both.

So how do these changes affect Elias – who has become the benchmark of all multiclassing in the game. Well, in terms of his base saving throws (not allowing for ability scores, inherent bonuses or magic items) this is how Elias works out in each of these three systems:

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +12, Reflex +6, Will +10
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +11, Reflex +6, Will +10
  • New Rules: Either Fortitude +10, Reflex +5, Will +9 or Fortitude +9, Reflex +5, Will +10 (depending on how Marc assigns saving throw bonuses as an apprentice character)

In some respects, this isn’t a fair comparisson. Pathfinder makes Will a good saving throw for a paladin (which is something that third edition didn’t do). If that wasn’t the case then Elias’s Will save would have dropped to +7 in Pathfinder, and +6/+7 under the new rules.

Anyway – the results here are clear. The saves in Pathfinder are slightly worse than in 3.5, and my proposed amendments lower Elias’s saves still further. The question we face is whether this is a fair change or not. Personally, I believe it is. Compare Elias’s saving throws with a straight 16th level paladin (which is the nearest pure class to Elias’s multi-faceted nature). A single class paladin under Pathfinder would have saving throws of Fortitude +10, Reflex +5, Will +10. Stonkingly similar to the saving throws that years of multiclassing have given Elias.

But I don’t want Marc to feel as though I’m picking on Elias (I do enough of that in game). Let’s compare the old, new and would-be base saving throws of all the members of the Chosen of Narramac (and their hangers on) and see what happens. I have to say that I owe Marc an apology, Elias isn’t the character I should have been holding up as an example of over-twinkedness: it’s Syrah.

Arvan Walker-in-Shadows (Druid 11/Warshaper 4)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +11, Reflex +4, Will +8
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +9 Reflex +4, Will +8
  • New Rules: Fortitude +10, Reflex +4, Will +8

Brack Ogrebane (Ranger 11/Fighter 3)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +10, Reflex +8, Will +4
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +10 Reflex +8, Will +4
  • New Rules: Fortitude +9, Reflex +8, Will +4

Diablo Trent Cortez (Rogue 3/Wizard 3/Arcane Trickster 7)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +4, Reflex +9, Will +9
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +4 Reflex +8, Will +8
  • New Rules: Fortitude +4, Reflex +8, Will +7

Elias Raithbourne (Fighter 2/Sorcerer 1/Rogue 2/Paladin 5/Pious Templar 4/Glorious Servitor 3)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +12, Reflex +6, Will +10
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +11, Reflex +6, Will +10
  • New Rules: Either Fortitude +10, Reflex +5, Will +9 or Fortitude +9, Reflex +5, Will +10 (depending on how Marc assigns saving throw bonuses as an apprentice character)

Nicos Tannesh (Cleric 10)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +7, Reflex +3, Will +7
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +7 Reflex +3, Will +7
  • New Rules: Fortitude +7, Reflex +3, Will +7

Ravenna Malbraeve (Sorcerer 11/Fighter 1/Spellsword 3)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +8, Reflex +4, Will +10
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +7, Reflex +4, Will +9
  • New Rules: Fortitude +6, Reflex +4, Will +9

Raza de Luna (Monk 15)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +9, Reflex +9, Will +9
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +9 Reflex +9, Will +9
  • New Rules: Fortitude +9, Reflex +9, Will +9

Syrah Pendragon (Paladin 2/Ranger 2/Bloodhound 4/Dragon Shaman 1/ Dragon Devotee 5)

  • D&D Version 3.5: Fortitude +16, Reflex +8, Will +4
  • Pathfinder: Fortitude +13 Reflex +7, Will +8
  • New Rules: Fortitude +12, Reflex +6, Will +6

Weapon and Armour Proficiencies

Thinking along the same lines as the above (but this time with no intention of picking on Marc) I want to look at weapon, armour and shield proficiencies. For the last eight years or so I have been using the rules for Weapon Group feats from the Unearthed Arcana. I still prefer that system, and I won’t be changing it any time soon.

In third edition all characters start with a number of bonus Weapon Group feats, Armour Proficiency Feats and Shield Proficiency feats. This reflects their mastery of arms and armour when they begin the game. This is all well and good, but the rules also state that anyone multiclassing into another core class automatically gets the same weapon and armour proficiencies on top of all the weapon and armour proficiences he already has.

That’s crazy. The rules as presented in the Pathfinder rulebook mean that a 1st level wizard who multiclasses into fighter at level two actually has more weapon proficiencies than a 2nd level fighter. We can’t be having that can we?

I have two thoughts here. We can say that these bonus weapon, armour and shield proficiency feats are only available at first level. After that multiclassing gets you nothing, and you have to buy any other such feat you want with one of your finite feat slots. That’s the easiest solution, and its the way prestige classes work.

The alternative, is that characters who multiclass into a core class gain some (but not all) of the weapon, armour and shield proficiency feats that a 1st level character in that class gained. For example, a 1st level fighter gains Basic Weapons + any four other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Armour Proficiency (Heavy), Shield Proficiency and Tower Shield Proficiency. It’s quite a list. A character multiclassing into fighter after 1st level doesn’t gain all that, instead they gain one weapon group feat of their choice, and either one armour proficiency or one shield proficiency feat of their choice.

Here’s a summary of all the feats in tabular form:

Class Bonus feats from 1st level Bonus feats when multiclassing
Barbarian Basic Weapons + any three other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat, either Armour Proficiency (Light) or Armour Proficiency (Medium)
Bard Basic Weapons + any two other Weapon Group feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat
Cleric Basic Weapons + any two other Weapon Group feats (one of which must include deity’s favoured weapon), Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency The Weapon Group Feat that includes the deity’s favoured weapon, either Armour Proficiency (Light) or Armour Proficiency (Medium)
Druid Basic Weapons + either Druid Weapons or Spears Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency Druid Weapons or Spears Weapon Group Feat, Armour Proficiency (Light) or Armour Proficiency (Medium)
Fighter Basic Weapons + any four other Weapon Group feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Armour Proficiency (Heavy), Shield Proficiency, Tower Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat, either one Armour Proficiency Feat or one Shield Proficiency feat.
Monk Basic Weapons + any one other Weapon Group feat. None.
Paladin Basic Weapons + any three other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Armour Proficiency (Heavy), Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat, Either one Armour Proficiency feat, or Shield Proficiency.
Ranger Basic Weapons + any three other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light), Armour Proficiency (Medium), Shield Proficiency One Weapon Group Feat, Armour Proficiency (Light) or Armour Proficiency (Medium)
Rogue Basic Weapons + any two other Weapon Group Feats, Armour Proficiency (Light) One Weapon Group Feat.
Sorcerer Basic Weapons + either Spears or Crossbows Weapon Group Feats None.
Warlock Basic Weapons + one other Weapon Group Feat, Armour Proficiency (Light) None.
Wizard Either Basic Weapons or Crossbows Weapon Group Feat None.

A multiclassing character still needs to be qualify for the feats he is selecting. So a character who multiclasses into barbarian can only select Armour Proficiency (Medium) if he already has the feat Armour Proficiency (Light). If a character already has the specified feat then they don’t get any other benefit. A Fighter multiclassing into barbarian would get knowledge of an additional weapon group feat, but wouldn’t get either armour proficiency because he already has both armour proficiencies.

I hope that these rules go a little way to balancing some of the insanity of the D&D multiclassing rules. As you will remember, one of my goals in HD&D was to make multiclassing equitable. Well, these rules don’t do this. They’re a patch, not a solution. However, I think they might eliminate some of the excesses of multiclassing whether intentional or unintentional – or at least postpone them for a few levels.

Magic Items

This will probably be the last major post before I reveal the completed magic document at the end of the month. Today we’re going to look more closely at magic items, how they interact with player characters and how PCs can create magical items and weapons of their own.

Before I begin, I want to state that none of the following changes the way that magic items work in D&D. All the magic items that your characters have access to remain completely unchanged. What I am changing (or what I am proposing that we change) is the mechanic used for creating new magic items, and also the way we manage magic items in the game. This is all to the benefit of the players. Honest.

Inherent Bonuses

The D&D game assumes that player characters acquire increasingly powerful magic items as they advance. The threats that characters meet are balanced against the assumption that they have the right magical kit for the job. A CR 10 monster is only an appropriate challenge for a party of 10th level adventurers, if those 10th level adventurers have the right magical weapons and trinkets.

After all, if the game assumes that a Fighter should have a +2 sword by level 10, and that fighter doesn’t have a +2 sword, then he’ll hit less often and deal less damage than the game assumes he will. As a result he will not stand up against his enemy as well as he should, which could have any number of painful ramifications.

Now this system works well enough as long as the GM continues to hand out level appropriate magical items as the characters continue to advance. I think my players can see where I’m going with this…

I don’t hand out magic items even half as quickly as the game assumes I should. Magic items just aren’t that common in the Iourn setting, and I’m seeking to preserve a certain integrity by not giving every leering henchman a +1 club. I think that magical items should be potent storied items. There is little room for something as utilitarian and boring as a +2 ring of protection. But I know that without a handful of rings of protection the saving throws of the characters won’t keep pace with there they need to be at a given level.

So what am I to do? Well, fourth edition introduces a concept called Inherent Bonuses (it’s on p138 of DMG2). Designed for low or no magic campaigns, the basic idea is that as characters advance in level they gain the bonuses they otherwise would have got from magic items. These bonuses overlap (do not stack) with magic item bonuses. So a 12th level character might have a +2 inherent bonus to attack and damage rolls. If he picks up a +3 sword then he uses the higher value – gaining a net +1 to attack and damage rolls in this case.

My intention is to divide 4e’s “inherent bonuses” into Offence and Defence modifiers that characters get a different levels. Observe:

Defence Modifiers: The character gains a +1 enhancement bonus to Armour Class, and a +1 resistance bonus to saving throws at level 4. This bonus increases to +2 at level nine, +3 at level fourteen, +4 at level nineteen, and +5 at level twenty-four. The defence modifier does not increase beyond +5. The defence modifier does not stack with the enhancement bonus gained from magical armour, or the resistance bonus gained from rings of protection. If the character has access to these magical items then take the higher value.

Offence Modifiers: The character gains a +1 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls at seventh level. This bonus increases to +2 at level twelve, +3 at level seventeen, +4 at level twenty-two, and +5 at level twenty-seven. The offence modifier does not increase beyond +5. The offence modifier does not stack with the enhancement bonus gained from magical weapons. If the character has access to magic weapons then take the higher of the two values.

Yes, yes. I know. It’s all horribly gamist and smacks royally of fourth edition. It demeans the importance of magical items, and these are bonuses that can’t be readily explained in game – which is largely something I want to encourage. Why would I want to do this?

My best defence of this system is that it is necessary. Especially as PCs edge into high levels, characters are going to need to have the best equipment available to them. I know that I don’t normally spend a lot of time balancing encounters, or worrying whether villain X is a match for the PCs, but this is how D&D works. It would be very nice for me if I still didn’t have to worry about this sort of thing, if I knew that the PCs  – stripped naked and armed only with fruit – would still be able to punch their weight. This isn’t something I would have done in HD&D, but we’re not pursuing that any longer. The d20 system is flawed in its approach to magic items. These rules are a patch.

To be honest, I also think that this system has the potential to lead to more innovative magic items. From this point on, what makes magic items special is not the static bonuses they given to your saving throws or attack rolls – that’s fairly dull anyway – what makes magic items special is what else they can do.

Example: Elias is currently wielding Andel’s sword. It’s a +4 bastard sword. Well, Elias is 16th level so he already has an inherent +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls. The sword is only giving him a net +2. But the bonus isn’t what makes the blade special. What makes the blade special is the blue metal used in its construction, the way it can shed pale blue light and the way that its hilt is shaped like an owl with wings spread. That owl is a miniature construct that can disconnect itself from the sword and fly off on reconnaisance missions. It can observe locations as a greater prying eyes spell, and then return to Elias to report. The bonus to hit and to damage is the least of what the magic item does.

Here’s a few other things to consider:

  • Offence and Defence bonuses are based on over-all character level; not on any one class level.
  • The bonuses gained with these rules aren’t magical. Elias may have a +2 enhancement bonus to attack and damage rolls, but that doesn’t mean he can strike creatures that have “xx/magic” Damage Reduction.
  • Enhancement bonuses to damage apply to all attack rolls, but they’re not added to damage from magic spells. I’ve already introduced Spellpower – anything else is probably a step too far.
  • Defence Modifiers only overlap with the enhancement that can be applied to armour. They stack with armour bonuses, natural armour bonuses and even magical armour bonuses. The defence modifier would apply to a character wearing nonmagical armour, wielding a magical shield or wearing brancers of armour.
  • The rate at which defence and offence bonuses are acquired lags behind the bonus granted by a magical item of that level. Elias has a +2 offence bonus, but a +4 sword. The bonus doesn’t, therefore, replace the magic item – it shores up a deficiency in those who don’t have magic items at all.
  • However, offence and defence bonuses apply across the board to all characters – even those characters who may not bothered to acquire such bonuses. A 29th level wizard has a +5 offence modifier for melee attacks with his non-magical dagger.

So please have a deep and long think about this. I think it’s a behind-the-scenes change to the game. Most characters aren’t going to notice their offence and defence modifiers at the moment. It will most benefit characters that don’t have magical items improving their attack rolls, damage rolls and saving throws: I’m looking at you, Raza.

Creating Magic Items

My goal in writing these blog entries is to hammer the game into shape for the next Roleplaying Retreat, therefore I only really want to concentrate on game elements that will see play in April. The rules for creating new magical items probably isn’t one of those elements. Therefore, this entry is more of an overview of my intentions for the system than polished rules.

Although it does have some relevence for PCs choosing new feats.

My plan is to inject a heavy dose of the 2nd edition game into the rules for making permanent magical items. Instead of using the feat system for magic item creation, we will use the spell system instead. What I’ve come up with is something similar to the ritual system in 4e, but with a little more options. Bear with me, and I’ll talk you through my intentions.

Existing Item Creation Feats

Ignoring Scribe Scroll and Brew Potion (which I’ll get to in a moment) – there are six item creation feats in the core game: Craft Magic Arms and Armour, Craft Rod, Craft Staff, Craft Wand, Craft Wondrous Item and Forge Ring. The level at which you can gain these feats differs between third edition and Pathfinder (with Pathfinder being more forgiving). If I was using this system, I’d probably stick to the core third edition rules.

Once you have a feat, you can create magic items of the assigned type. All you need is the raw materials, the required gold, and access to the spells required in the item’s construction. As long as the creator succeeds a Spellcraft check then the item is made after a certain amount of time has passed.

New Item Creation Spells

In the proposed system a wizard (could be a cleric or any number of other classes, but we’ll say wizard) still gathers the required materials for the magic item. The spellcaster still needs a masterwork item to enchant, and he still needs to lay down the requisite gold to pay for the constuction. This gold represents the esoteric components required to make a magical item. The caster can substitute residuum for gold – as in the standard fourth edition rules. Some items might require very specific components that must be quested for. A Spellcraft check is still needed at the end of the process to make sure everything works, but no experience points need to be burned.

In the new system I propose a new third level spell called Enchant an Item. A wizards casts this spell upon an item to open it to enchantment. He then uses the necessary components and casts the relevent spells to create the magical item he desires. Finally, he must seal the enchantment by casting a Permanency spell. Without pemanency the magic from the item will leak after a number of days equal to the caster level of its creator. As permanency is a 5th level spell, the creation of permanent magic items is put back to ninth level at the earliest.

In addition to the spells normally associated with creating an item – an additional spell in place of the old item creation feat needs to be cast. At the moment I’m torn regarding this spell should be. It could be something as prosaic as a spell version of craft magic arms and armour, or it could be something very specific such as craft keen weapon. I’ll stick with the former idea in the following example:

For example: Fouchard the Fairly Sinister wishes to create some eyes of doom as a wedding gift for his favourite witch. First he commissions a pair of crystal lenses to be made, and gathers the requisite materials in his lab. In all the cost of the raw materials is 12,500 gp. Fortunately, Fouchard has 5000 gp worth of residuum left over from the time he destroyed a holy avenger, so he only needs to pay 7500 in gold, and make the rest up in raw magical essence. He then casts enchant an item on the lenses, followed by the new spell craft wondrous item, then by the required spells (doom, deathwatch and fear) and then finally he casts permanency to seal the magic. Now all he needs is a presentation box and some wrapping paper.

All magic items in the Pathfinder game have Caster Level prerequisites. So there will be some items that you cannot attempt to make until you are a certain experience level. The third edition Magic Item Compendium goes a step further and lists a level for each magic item, so a GM knows at which level this sort of magic item should become available. At the moment, I’m not sure which of these rules I will use. Maybe both.

On the whole, that is that… except to say that I don’t rule out requiring PCs to jump through a few more colourful hoops in their creation of magic items. This quote from the second edition DMG should always be bourne in mind: “…the final steps in the enchantment process… are defined by the DM… The character might have to take the enchanted item to the peak of the highest mountain to expose it to the rays of the dawning sun before it will be ready. He could have to immerse it in the distilled sorrows of nightingales…”.

Disenchant a Magic Item

We’ve discussed the economics of magic items and magic item shops at length in the past. I don’t really want to get into that discussion again here. However, the price to create magic items is so astronomical that even minor items are out of the price range of most spellcasters – there isn’t that much gold in existence. The currency of magic items therefore isn’t in gold – it’s in residuum. This is the raw essence of magic that can be subsituted for the gold piece cost of items – as seen in the example above.

Residuum can be purchased, but as 1 gp’s worth of residuum costs 1 gp, it isn’t cost effective if you want a large amount. By far the best way to gain residuum is by destroying other magic items. We have a new third-level spell, Disenchant a Magic Item, which allows a caster to draw the residuum out of a magic item. Disenchant a magic item only works on items of your level or lower, so you can’t disenchant the Hand of Vecna unless you’re also a demigod.

Let’s take the holy avenger from the example above. According to the Pathfinder rules the Holy Avenger has a market price of 120,630 gp and a cost to create of half that amount (60,630 gp) – it’s the same cost in third edition if you were wondering. Now, the “market price” is absolute kibble as these things would never be for sale, so let’s concentrate on the cost to create the item. If you are a high enough level to cast Disenchant a Magic Item on a holy avenger (you would need to be 18th level, by-the-by) then you could destroy the sword and gain 60,630 gp’s worth of residuum.

So the magical item economy is actually a separate entity to the conventional economy. The gold piece value of such items is seldom realised as hard cash, but simply passed from one magical item to another. As certain magic items are consumable, and others are destroyed without their residuum being reclaimed, there are actually less and less magic items available as time passes.

Scribe Scroll and Brew Potion

A final word on scrolls and potions. These minor magical items are among the few such items that are commonly for sale in magical boutiques and shady markets. I’ll be approaching these slightly differently: again to the benefit of the players.

Scribe Scroll: This ability remains as a feat, but has a much wider application than before. All spellcasters can potentially use this fear to record their spells in some fashion – using exotic inks or dyes or other items to hold the magic in place. I’ll be writing a lot more about scrolls in the final post on magic, but the nature of the ‘scroll’ will vary from tradition to tradition, and class to class. Sure, it might be a scroll for a wizard or a cleric, but its more likely to be an expertly sculpted crystal for a psion, or a bag of beaver entrails if you’re druid. Instinctive casters might have any number of ways to record their spells – many won’t bother to take the feat at all. Whatever the method, the game mechanics are identical. Creating “scrolls” will cost money or resources from the party, and will usually be dependent on a caster having a least a few ranks in an appropriate skill.

Brew Potion: This ability remains pretty much unchanged in the new game. It is still a feat with the same prerequisites. Anyone with the feat can brew a potion of any spell he can cast as long as it is third level or lower. There is still a cost involved in so doing. So for those of you who have the brew potion feat nothing has changed.

What does all this mean to players?

In the short term, these changes to the magic item creation system won’t mean a very great deal to my existing players. You can tell the new rules haven’t been properly fleshed out yet, but it isn’t something I’m inclined to look at before the Roleplaying Retreat.

What it does mean is that anyone who has an item creation feat (except Brew Potion or Scribe Scroll) doesn’t need to have that feat any more. This frees up the feat slot for something else – perhaps something that will get more use in play. I am (after all) introducing quite a few new feats to take advantage of the recharge and languor magic systems, and I want characters to feel as though they are able to take them.

And that is the real reason behind these changes. I have come to think that making item creation dependent on the feat system is a mistake. Feats are a limited resource, even in Pathfinder. Even a wizard who wants to dedicate his life to making magical items, is not going to spend all his time doing so. Creating such items is usually an off-stage activity – spending a great deal of time on one player creating magic items isn’t really fair on the rest of the group.

And if the character is only ever using all these feats off-camera, then why make them feats in the first place? Feats should be flash and showy. They are third edition’s ultimate means to customise your character. Even the stogiest of wizards should have the freedom to be flambuoyant (or take that Skill Focus feat he’s always wanted).

Thoughts?

Divination

And here is the third and final in my series of ‘problem spells in D&D’. This week: Divination!

I don’t think I’ve ever made a secret of my fact that dislike the way that relatively low level characters can use Divination spells to circumvent the plot of an adventure. High level characters simply need different adventures in order to take account of their access to divination magic. Something needs to be done to rein in these spells, and that’s something I’m going to look at in this post.

Before I begin I want to emphasise that I have nothing against clever play. Characters who use their abilities, resources or their allies to get one over on the current villain are to be encouraged. I want players who approach problems from unexpected angles; who surprise me with their solutions. What I’m talking about here is the lazy way in which these spells can be used instead of thinking. I don’t have a problem using this spells when they need to be used, I do have a problem when using them gets in the way of roleplaying. That’s an unforgiveable sin.

Scrying Subschool

Let’s start with a few words about the scrying subschool. This was introduced in version 3.5 of D&D (it wasn’t in version 3.0) and is carried over into Pathfinder. It seeks to present consistant rules on how to apply scrying effects in the game. I’m not making any changes here, but I want to reiterate how Scrying spells work just so we are all clear.

Spells of the scrying subschool create an magical sensor that sends the caster information. This information can be purely visual, purely audible or a combination of any number of senses. The sensor is normally invisible, but this may not the case for every scrying spell – as always the spell description trumps the basic subschool definition. The level of visual acuity of the sensor is the same as that of the caster. That means that a wizard with a low perception skill is going to create an equally myopic scrying sensor. Magical effects don’t carry over the sensor. A wizard that casts darkvision on himself can’t use darkvision through the sensor; but a drow wizard who has darkvision as a racial trait, can use that darkvision through his scrying sensor.

The sensor counts as an independent sensory organ for the wizard. So even if he has his eyes gouged out he can still see through his scrying sensor. Unless otherwise noted, the feedback from a scrying sensors doesn’t distract the caster. He doesn’t need to close his eyes to concentrate on what is happening through the sensor, and he can act perfectly normally while aware of what is happening at his current location, as well as the location of the sensor. However, he might need to take specific actions to move or manipulate the sensor in some fashion.

The creature you are spying on is able to notice the scrying sensor by making a perception check with a DC equal to 20 + the spell level. This is a change to the rules in Pathfinder, and certainly better than the Intelligence check that third edition demanded. Scrying sensors can be dispelled, but they can’t be damaged by weapons or energy (even magical ones). Plenty of spells guard against scrying, as we’ll see below. Scrying spells are also stopped by lead.

Finally, for those of your confused by the multiude of editions I’m talking about: there is no Scrying skill in D&D anymore. This was introduced in version 3.0 of the game, but was abandoned in the 3.5 revision. It isn’t in Pathfinder either.

Divination Spells

What I’m going to do now is have a look at the Divination spells that appear in the third edition Player’s Handbook and see whether the modifications already made to them in the Pathfinder game are sufficient for my purposes. For the most part, the spells will stay the same. However, in some cases they will have a radical overhaul. Ready?

Analyse Dweomer

Divination
Level: Arcane 6, Divine (Magic) 6, Song 6
Casting Time: eight hours
Range: close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Targets: one object per caster level
Duration: instantaneous
Saving Throw: none or Will negates (see text)

Casting this spell requires eight hours, and access to a magical laboratory or similar space dedicated to the study and research of magic. The ritual requires the use of magical paraphenalia such as lenses, dyes and reagents commonly found in magical or alchemical laboratories. Analyse dweomer is used to determine the specific magical properties of magical items, and the caster may examine a number of such items equal to his level with one casting of this spell.

After eight hours has passed, the caster learns the following about each magic item: its functions (including any curse effects), how to activate its functions (if appropriate), and how many charges are left (if it uses charges). Intelligent items may attempt a Will save to resist the casting of this spell. If the save succeeds, you learn nothing about the object except what you can discern by looking at it. An object that makes its save cannot be affected by any other analyse dweomer spells for 24 hours.

Analyse dweomer does not function when used on an artefact.

The official version of Analyse Dweomer allows it to be cast as a standard action, and instantly reveal the properties of any active spell or magical item on one target. This new version lessens the potency somewhat, and relegates the spell to a back-room activity. It’s not the sort of spell you cast in the field. This is a theme of many of my changes to divination spells. More often than not, I have increased the casting time to make sure that such spells can’t be used repeatedly.

To my mind most divinations work better as lengthy rituals. They’re more evocative that way. If you’re calling down the avatar of the god of Knowledge to discover a secret lost for three millennia, you don’t want to be able to do it to kill the time while dinner is cooking. In this case, I prefer the idea of a party acquiring new magical items or weapons, and then retiring to their castle or tower to conduct the proper rituals to find out what they do. And considering how infrequently I give away magic items, I think this seems to work reasonably well. Incidentally – no moaning about the lack of magical items in the campaign. I’ll address that in a future post. It’s all about divination this time around.

So what about a wizard clicking his fingers and finding out all about magical auras as a standard action? Don’t worry. That element of analyse dweomer hasn’t been lost entirely. Read on and you’ll see.

Arcane Eye

Read Pathfinder description

No changes here. The only thing I want to underline is that the arcane eye cannot enter another plane of existence. I’ll take this to mean that you cannot send the eye through a teleportation portal, even if the portal links two places on the same plane. Because all teleportation goes through the Astral Plane, the eye would not be able to make the journey.

Arcane Sight/Greater Arcane Sight

Read Pathfinder description

No changes here either, but still something to say. Originally I had envisaged having two versions of analyse dweomer: one cast as a standard action that worked like an augmented detect magic spell, and one cast as the eight hour ritual that is described above. Then I read the description for arcane sight. Arcane Sight is already an augmented detect magic spell. It is everything that my version of analyse dweomer would have been if I’d left it castable as a standard action. In fact, I’m not entirely sure why third edition bothered to have both to be honest. In short, any utility that you think you have may lost in analyse dweomer is present here, in arcane sight.

Augury

Read Pathfinder description

I’ve never been completely happy with augury as a spell, but I felt that on balance I might as well leave it as it is. It takes 1 minute to cast the spell, so it’s not something that can be whipped out in the middle of combat. Additionally, the utility of the spell isn’t that hot. It only provides a weal/woe response to an event that is to take place no more than 30 minutes into the future. In those terms, I don’t have a problem with it.

Clairaudience/Clairvoyance

Read Pathfinder description

Remarkably, I didn’t feel the need to change this spell either. I must be getting soft. The casting time of 10 minutes, the limited range of 400 feet + 40 feet per level, and the general Achilles heal of all scrying spells (that it may be noticed) are all enough to stop Clairaudience from breaking the game. Once more, I should point out that you can’t use clairaudience/clairvoyance to see what’s on the other side of a teleportation portal.

Commune

Divination
Level: Divine (All) 5
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: 1 round/level

You contact the extraplanar agents of your deity, and may ask questions of them. A divine caster with no particular deity (such as a mystic) appeals to an equivalent entity. You may ask one question per caster level, and the spell ends when he final question is answered. If you delay, discuss the answers or go off and do something else, the spell also ends.

The amount of information gained from a commune spell is entirely dependent on the knowledge of the entity that you invoke. Some may be more helpful than others in certain circumstances. For example, if the party wishes to know more information about an uncharacteristic increase in volcanic activity, a commune spell cast by a priest of Calafax is more likely to summon a being who knows useful information, than if the spell was cast by a cleric of Sharrash.

The entity invoked by this spell is played as an NPC by the GM. These beings have their own personalities and goals which will colour any answers that the caster receives. Depending on the questions asked, the entity may be deliberately duplicitous or genuinely eager to help. Entities conjured by the commune spell are not omniscient, and there may be some questions that they simply cannot answer.

Okay, big revisions to Commune. In the original description you summon your deity or proxy and ask them a question that can be answered with yes/no replies. With this revision, the spell is altogether more interesting. We get to have a meaningful  conversation with the summoned entity (whatever it may be) and the questions you ask are limited by the knowledge of this being. So if you summon an archangel from the sixth mount of Heaven and ask them “which one of these people stole my wallet” the archangel will be able to reply “How the @#!?@# should I know?”.

Certainly, this lessens the impact that commune can have in the game. If the PCs are searching for a werewolf, they can’t use a commune spell to unmask the villain. They need to ask the sort of questions that the invoked entity is likely to know. So asking an angel “How do we cross the Weirlands” would be a reasonable question.

Commune with Nature

Read Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Comprehend Languages

Read Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Contact Other Plane

Divination
Level: Arcane 5
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: Concentration

You send your name to another plane of existence in an attempt to answer a perplexing and unknowable puzzle. The great powers you contact by means of this spell resent the intrusion of mortal minds upon their time. At best the answers they give are terse and to the point. At worse, they deliberately lie and may feeblemind the spellcaster. No arcane caster attempts to contact other plane on a whim. It is likely the spell of the last resort, when all other avenues of enquiry prove fruitless.

The further the caster sends his mind, the more likely the entity he finds knows the answer to his questions. However, the further the caster sends his mind the more likely he is to suffer a disastrous reduction in his mental faculties, and a loss of his spellcasting power. It may also result in other – unavoidable – side effects.

When this spell is cast, you must decide where you are sending your mind to seek out an answer to your current dilemma. You can only visit one plane with one casting of this spell, and you may not ask the same question more than once. You must concentrate on on maintaining the spell (a standard action each round) in order to ask questions. You may ask questions at a rate of one per round.  A question is answered by the power in the same round. You may ask a maximum of one question per two caster levels.

Every time you ask a question, the GM (secretly) rolls percentile dice and consults the following table:

Plane Contacted Avoid Int/Cha Decrease True Answer Don’t Know Lie Random Answer
Elemental Plane DC 9/1 week 01-40 41-80 81-90 91-00
Astral Plane DC 12/2 weeks 01-50 51-80 81-90 91-00
Outer Plane DC 15/3 weeks 01-60 61-80 81-90 91-00
Far Realm DC 18/5 weeks 01-70 71-80 81-90 91-00

Plane Contacted: The elemental planes of Iourn are the planes of Earth, Air, Fire, Water, Life and Death. They are the domains of the Moon Gods and their elemental servants. They are the closest and least mind-bending of the planes of existence. The Astral Plane (or Astral Sea) is the great silvery realm of magic and the mind. The outer planes are the realms of gods, and other powerful entities that drift in the void beyond Iourn – the Feywild, Arvandor, the Shadowfell and Ostoria are all outer planes. The Far Realm is a plane outside reality, full of entities and intelligences that simply shouldn’t exist.

Avoid Int/Cha Decrease: When contacting this plane, the caster must make an Intelligence of Charisma check (whichever is higher) at the specified DC. If he fails then his Intelligence and Charisma scores are reduced to 8 for the duration indicated. You only have to make one ability score check regardless of the number of questions you ask.

True Answer: The entity knows the answer to your question and answers as briefly as possible. If it can answer with one word then it does, otherwise it speaks a short phrase.

Don’t Know: The entity doesn’t know the answer to the question, and tells the caster that is doesn’t know.

Lie: The entity knows the the answer to the question, but chooses not to impart it to the caster. A result of “lie” provides dangerously misleading information – the sort of information that is more likely that not to get the caster killed.

Random Answer: The entity doesn’t know the answer, but doesn’t want to admit its ignorance. It gives the caster an incorrect answer that it thinks is likely. This answer won’t be maliciously intended kill the caster, but it won’t be all that helpful either.

On rare occassions, this divination may be blocked by an act of certain deities of forces.

In addition to the chance of feeblemindedness, loss of spellcasting and gaining the wrong answer, using contact other plane repeatedly gains the notice of certain entities that the spellcaster would probably rather didn’t notice him. Sending one’s mind into the Far Realm is seldom without its consequences. These are left to the imagination of the GM.

This is the arcane equivalent of the Commune spell. While Commune summons the spirit of a helpful entity to answer questions, contact other plane sends the spellcaster’s mind into the great beyond to try and find the answers that he seeks. A wizard casting this spell has a much broader collection of entities to consult and can theoretically find the answer to anything. However, it’s not without its dangers.

And what dangers they are! I altered the table for the spell – reducing the number of options to reflect Iourn’s cosmology – and also slightly modifying the DCs and percentage chance of getting the right answer. Even sending your mind to the Far Realm has just a 70% chance of finding the information you seek, and you need to make a DC 18 Intelligence check or lose all spellcasting powers for five weeks.

But then, you CAN use this spell to discover the impossible. You can use this spell to find out the password to the thieves guild’s underground hideout, or the location of a fabled artefact or the colour of Karatath’s underpants. No answer is completely beyond the power of contact other plane, it’s just a question of whether you want to take the risk of asking.

Detect Animals or Plants

Read Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Detect Chaos/Evil/Good/Law

Read Pathfinder description

The descriptions of these spells don’t see much if any change, but how the spells are adjudicated and implemented in the game is going to change a great deal. Why? Well, there’s no such thing as Alignment in the game any more. I hate alignment: always have. It’s a pointless crutch for roleplaying, and I hate the way that it’s been hard-wired into the D&D rules. So all alignment has disappeared. You can’t use this spell to identify an evil man or a cutpurse. It just doesn’t work that way.

However real, tangible evil does exist in the Iourn setting. It’s called Taint and it’s present in areas of terrible infamy such as Thannassanoir. Certain truly horrible creatures such as demons, thinking undead and so on possess this taint. So from now on <i>detect evil</i> doesn’t locate the rather wishy-washy concept of “evil”, it instead locates the presence of Taint. Mass murderers, evil despots and petty thieves don’t have Taint. Tainted creatures are almost always sources of supernatural evil.

These are, to be fair, much the rules I have been using for years. However, I want to take the opportunity to underline them here. I’m more than happy with a paladin being able to sense the presence of a vampire in a room – I’m less happy with him being able to torpedo every whodunnit plot by just squinting at the subjects.

So do Good, Lawful and Chaotic equivalents of Taint exist? Are the angellic beings of Aduro shot through with Rapture that can be detected and warded against? Are the changelings rampaging through the Underdark dripping with Entropy? Well, maybe. Why not? Strikes me as more of a story-related issue we should deal with in-game.

Detect Magic

Read the D&D 3.5 description

Unchanged, but I want to be clear that we’re going with the 3.5 description of detect magic and not with the Pathfinder one. The main difference is that the Pathfinder version of detect magic allows you to use the cantrip to identify the properties of magical items. I would prefer to keep detect magic working the way it has always worked in the game – a successful Spellcraft check reveals the school of the magic, which might give you an educated guess to the properties of the item.

Detect Poison

Read the Pathfinder description

Not to be confused with the Sharrashan clergy’s Detect Poisson; otherwise unchanged.

Detect Secret Doors

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Detect Snares & Pits

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged. 

Detect Thoughts

Divination [Mind-Affecting]
Level: Arcane 2, Song 2
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: 60 ft.
Area: Cone-shaped emanation
Target: You
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: Will negates (see text)

You detect surface thoughts. The amount of information revealed depends on how long you study a particular area or subject.

1st Round: Presence or absence of thoughts (from conscious creatures with Intelligence scores of 1 or higher).

2nd Round: Number of thinking minds and the Intelligence score of each. If the highest Intelligence is 26 or higher (and at least 10 points higher than your own Intelligence score), you are stunned for 1 round and the spell ends. This spell does not let you determine the location of the thinking minds if you can’t see the creatures whose thoughts you are detecting.

3rd Round: Surface thoughts of any mind in the area. A target’s Will save prevents you from reading its thoughts, and you must cast detect thoughts again to have another chance. Creatures of animal intelligence (Int 1 or 2) have simple, instinctual thoughts.

Detect thoughts provides only the most general information about a target’s mood and intent. It is used in the field to assess the danger or pliability of large groups of individuals. The surface thoughts revealed are raw emotions such as hosility, anger, fear or curiosity. There is no sense of a coherent narrative in the thoughts detected, this spell couldn’t be used to find a pass-phrase or code word.

If used while interrogating a specific creature, then detect thoughts can offer valuable insight into the state of mind of the subject. Are they nervous? worried? Are they likely to respond to kindness or threats? What the spell won’t do is read thoughts that the subject wants to remain hidden (even if the saving throw is failed). You can’t use this spell to drag out the identity of a murderer or reveal the location of a hidden treasure.

Each round, you can turn to detect thoughts in a new area. The spell can penetrate barriers, but 1 foot of stone, 1 inch of common metal, a thin sheet of lead, or 3 feet of wood or dirt blocks it.

Detect thoughts is one of those spells that is designed for one purpose, and then promptly used by players for something quite different. Its built in the same way as the various detect magic clones that we’ve just covered: concentrate on an area for three rounds and discover the presence or absence of thoughts or magic or alignment or poison or traps and so on and so forth. In practice everyone uses it to interrogate the bad guys.

And as a spell that third level characters can get their hands on, it shouldn’t be used to that end. We all know how it’s used don’t we? If someone tells you not to think of a banana, what’s the first thing you think of? Players often use the same tactic on NPCs with this spell. “What do you know about the death of Earl Smurfhammer?” – instantly the surface thoughts of the NPC will turn to the murder and in that second the canny character with detect thoughts running discovers the truth!

Well, I don’t like that. I prefer the PCs to turn their hand to some honest detective work – you know: going and out talking to people, interacting with the NPCs, roleplaying… the sort of things that make the game fun. The way I have rewritten the spell, detect thoughts is still useful during interrogations. It can offer insight into the mental state of the NPC, and it can used to guide the questions asked: “Mary the milk maid felt ashamed when you mentioned her brother, maybe we should pursue that”.

So the ill-defined “surface thoughts” from the original spell description is defined as a target’s intent and emotions. Less powerful to be sure, but easier to cope with in the game and much more in keeping with a 2nd level spell.

Detect Undead

Read Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Discern Lies

Divination
Level: Divine (Justice, Knowledge) 4
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Target: One creature
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Will negates

You concentrate on one target, who must be within range of this spell. You know if the target deliberately and knowingly speaks a lie by discerning disturbances in its aura caused by lying. The spell does not reveal the truth, uncover inintentional inaccuracies, or necessarily reveal evasions. A target that succeeds on its saving throw cannot be affected by further discern lies spells cast by the same caster for 24 hours.

One a couple of small change to the description. Firstly, the spell now only works on one specific creature, as opposed to one creature per level of the caster. Secondly, targets that succeed on their saving throw can’t be affected by the spell until the following day – this prevents characters repeated casting discern lies on a target until it fails its saving throw.

Beyond that, this spell is pretty much as it has ever been. You can tell if a creature is lying, but you can’t tell if it’s speaking the truth. Even a target that fails its saving can simply answer “I’m not going to tell you” to any question. Discern lies works best at determining innocence rather than guilt, as its the innocent who are more likely to submit to the spell and speak freely.

I would also add that the fact that discern lies exists is proof enough that detect thoughts shouldn’t be able to be used for the same purpose.

Discern Location

Divination
Level: Arcane 8, Divine (Knowledge) 8
Casting Time: 8 hours
Range: Unlimited
Target: One creature or object
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None

A discern location spell is among the most powerful means of locating creatures or objects. A mind blank or equivalent spell, or the direct intervention of a deity would be required to prevent you from learning the exact location of a single individual or object. Discern location circumvents normal means of protection from scrying or location. The spell reveals the name of the creature or object’s location (place, name, business name, building name, or the like), community, county (or similar political division), country, continent, and the plane of existence where the target lies.

To find a creature with this spell, you must possess an item of significance to the creature or a part of the creature (such as a lock of hair, toenail clipping etc.) In order to find an object, you must either have a part of the object or you must have handled and examined the object carefully at some point.

This is almost the same spell description. Discern location is a very powerful and game breaking spell. “Help! My daughter has been kidnapped!” – “She’s at number 42 Broad Street in Uris, in a back room on the second floor. She’s currently eating an apple”. But it is an 8th level spell, it should be powerful. And as mind blank (also an 8th level spell) is still capable of countering it, the GM does have a legitimate means to keep objects and individuals hidden when he doesn’t want them to be found.

The modification to this spell comes in the second paragraph. The standard text of the spell reads: “To find a creature with the spell, you must have seen the creature or have some item that once belonged to it. To find an object, you must have touched it at least once.” Now, simply knowing a creature is not enough to find the creature – you need an object that belonged to that creature. And not any object either – it has to be something significant. It’s all very well to be handed a diamond necklace that belonged to the princess, if that necklace meant nothing to her then it won’t work as a component for this spell.

Oh, and I’m increased the casting time from 10 minutes to 8 hours. This really isn’t the sort of spell I want players to be able to use repeatedly. Work out what you want to do, cast the spell and then move on to something else. If the spell doesn’t work, then Plan B shouldn’t be simply casting the spell again.

Divination

Read Pathfinder description

No change here. Divination is just an augury spell with a little more poke. As a GM it might be annoying to come up with a cryptic rhyme at the drop of a hat, but on balance divination can add to the mystery and the interest of a game rather than circumventing it.

Find the Path

Read Pathfinder description

Unchanged. What? Find the path? The most broken spell in the game? Surely I want to completely rip the guts out of this spell? Sadly, I can’t – Paizo got there first. Look at the 3.5 version of the spell and then reread the description of the Pathfinder version. See the difference? I have no problem with the Pathfinder version.

Find Traps

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Foresight

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged. However, I will happily take advice on the level of this spell. I always thought that Foresight was underpowered as a 9th level spell. Would it be better as an 8th level spell, or even 7th?

Guidance

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Identify

Read the D&D 3.5 description

Unchanged from version 3.5. Because detect magic allows the identification of magic items in Pathfinder, the identify spell just grants a +10 bonus to Spellcraft checks. As we’re using the 3.5 version of detect magic, we must also use the 3.5 version of identify. So it takes 1 hour to identify the properties of one magical item, but you don’t have to roll to do it.

Know Direction

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Legend Lore

Divination
Level: Arcane 7, Divine (Oracle, Knowledge) 7, Song 5
Casting Time: See text
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: See text
Saving Throw: Will negates (see text)

Legend lore brings to your mind legends and stories about an important person, place or object. If the person or object is at hand, or if you are in the place in question, the casting time is only 8 hours. If you have only detailed information on the person, place, or thing, the casting time is 8 days. If you know only rumours, the casting time is 8 weeks.

The usefulness of the lore gained by this spells is dependent upon your existing knowledge of the subject. The more familiar you are with the subject, the more esoteric gems this spell will reveal. If you know the subject extremely well either because you are friends with a  living subject well, or because you have researched and discovered a great deal about the place or object, then you can gain specific and directed information about the legends surrounding the subject. The less familiar you are, the less complete and specific the information the spell reveals.

For example, if the only thing you know about the god Calafax is his name, then casting legend lore would reveal the role of the god, and his place in the Moon Pantheon. If you are a worshipper and know many of the teachings of his religion, then legend lore might reveal older and less well known information such as the process through which Calafax intervenes to annoint Firewalkers. If you are a learned scholar of the deity, then legend lore might reveal the deepest and darkest information – such as that Calafax has been a name taken by many divine entities in the history of Iourn.

During the casting, you cannot engage in other than routine activities: eating, sleeping, and so forth. When completed, the divination brings legends (if any) about the person, place, or objects to your mind. These may be legends that are still current, legends that have been forgotten, or even information that has never been generally known. If the person, place, or thing is not of legendary importance, you gain no information. As a rule of thumb, characters who are 11th level and higher are “legendary”, as are the sorts of creatures they contend with, the major magic items they wield, and the places where they perform their key deeds.

If the subject of this spell is a person, and if that person is still in existence (either living or undead) then he is entitled to a Will saving throw against the spell’s effects. On a successful saving throw, the caster gains no information about the subject.

The GM controls the amount of information gained through legend lore and the type of legends and information that are imparted to the caster. If there are many legends, the caster may only discover the most significant of them. Casters should attempt to narrow down results of legend lore with their own independent research before casting the spell.

Once a caster casts legend lore on a particular topic, then every time he casts legend lore on the same topic in the future he will get the same result. Only if the caster discovers more information about the subject, (through more research, or gaining access to the subject itself) will futher castings of legend lore prove effective.

Of all the spells in D&D, legend lore is the one I dislike the most. The ease with which it could be cast, and the way it can be used to discover information that the GM and (indeed) other players would prefer to remain hidden is terrible. Something as significant as legend lore can’t be just excised from the game, but I have taken some steps to limit its use, and reduce its utility somewhat.

Firstly, I’ve upped the level at which it can be cast. It is now a 5th level song spell (not 4th), and a 7th level arcane spell (not 6th). The divine version remains the same level. The casting time of the spell if you have the subject present is increased from 1d4 × 10 minutes to 8 hours. I have given living (or unliving) subjects a saving throw against its effects – which is largely there to protect PCs. I have underlined that multiple attempts to cast the spell don’t get different results if your knowledge of the subject remains the same. Finally (and most importantly) I have said that the amount of information you gain about a subject depends on your existing knowledge of the subject.

To me, legend lore should be used to gain that extra little bit of information about the subject. The caster still has to do the research in esoteric libraries and in the field to find out all he can about a subject. Only when he has a firm understanding of what it is he wants to know, will legend lore prove to be of value. Casters who know this spells should always think: do I know enough information about the subject to make the casting of legend lore worthwhile?

Or to put it in campaign terms: if the Chosen of Narramac cast a legend lore on the entity Faust now, then would learn significantly more about him than if they cast legend lore when Faust was first mentioned by the Saldarím back in session seven.

Locate Creature

Read the Pathfinder description

This spell is unchanged, but I think the description requires a fuller explanation. As it stands the spell reads thusly: “The spell can locate a creature of a specific kind or a specific creature known to you. It cannot find a creature of certain type.” This is all well and good, but requires you to understand the terms “kind” and “type”. And Pathfinder doesn’t actually have a definition for “kind”.

“Type” is much easier to get to grips with. A creature’s Type is found in the stat block of every creature in the game. Types include Aberration, Animal, Construct, Dragon, Fey, Humanoid, Magical Beast, Monstrous Humanoid, Ooze, Outsider, Plant, Undead and Vermin. Type is the broadest possible method of defining creatures.

“Kind” is a little trickier to define. There is a pseudo-definition in the text of the Familiar’s ability to speak with animals of its kind its kind – but that doesn’t work very well in this context. Therefore, I’m going to rule that “kind” in this context means creatures of the same species. So you can define cats, dogs, grey dragons and so forth.

To put it into a D&D context you could cast locate creature and look for wolves (but not animals), or pit fiends (but not devils), or beholders (but not aberrations). Is that clear? Obviously, if you’re looking for a specific individual then that works too – to the limit of spell’s power, naturally.

Locate Object

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Moment of Prsecience

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged. But I think that this 8th level spell points out how much the 2nd level spell Divine Insight (as seen in Complete Adventurer and the Spell Compendium) is broken. I’ll be looking at Divine Insight when I get around to the Cleric in the upcoming magic document.

Prying Eyes/Greater Prying Eyes

Read the Pathfinder descriptions

The wizard’s very own magical CCTV system. I’m not changing the description of prying eyes or greater prying eyes as they appear in the Pathfinder rules. However, because I have changed the description of true seeing some of the effects of these spells may not be quite as potent as they once were.

Read Magic

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Scrying

Divination (Scrying)
Level:
Arcane 4, Divine (Knowledge, Oracle) 4, Primal 4, Song 3
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: See text
Effect: Magical sensor
Duration: 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: Will negates

You can observe a creature at any distance. Casting this spell requires a still pool of water (for primal casters) or an elegent and elaborate mirror (for all other casters). You only need the most basic knowledge of a target to attempt a scrying. The magic instantly seeks out the target, as long as they are on the same plane of existence as the caster.

When the spell is cast, the subject must make a Will saving throw to adjudicate the success of the spell. The difficulty of the save depends on how well the caster knows the subject and what sort of physical connection (if any) he has to the subject. The will save is made using the following modifiers. All applicable modifiers stack:

Knowledge Will Save Modifier
None (you must have some sort of physical connection if you have no knowledge of the subject) +10
Secondhand (you have heard of the subject) +5
Firsthand (you have met the subject) +0
Familiar (you know the subject well) -2

 

Connection Will Save Modifier
Likeness or picture -2
Possession or garment -4
Body part: lock of hair, bit of nail etc. -6

If the save fails, you can see and hear the subject and its surroundings (approximately 10 feet in all directions of the subject). If the subject moves, the sensor follows at a speed of up to 150 feet. A subject who fails the saving throw is unaware that they are being scried.

As with all divination (scrying) spells, the sensor has your visual acuity, including any magical effects. In addition, the following spells have a 5% chance per caster level of operating through the sensor: detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law and message.

If the save succeeds the target is aware of the attempt to scry upon it. You also you can’t attempt to scry on that subject again for at least 24 hours.

Scrying is the sort of spell that gets a lot of use in campaigns. On the whole it hasn’t been too bad, and I’ve only really tweaked the spell rather than changed it wholesale. There are three small changes: 1) it doesn’t work across planar boundaries, 2) I’m reduced the penalties you can impose on a target’s saving throw, 3) if the target makes its save it is aware of the attempt to scry on it.

Greater Scrying

Divination (Scrying)
Level:
Arcane 7, Divine (Knowledge, Oracle) 7, Primal 7, Song 6
Casting Time: 1 hour
Range: See text
Effect: Magical sensor
Duration: 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: Will negates

This spell functions as scrying except where noted above. Additionally, greater scrying will function across planar boundaries, although the subject gains a +5 bonus to their saving throw if this is the case. All the following spells can be cast through the sensor with total reliability: detect chaos, detect evil, detect good, detect law, message, read magic and tongues.

The only benefit of the higher level version of scrying is that it can be cast across planar boundaries and there is a slightly longer list of spells that can be cast through the sensor. Otherwise it remains the same as scrying including the duration and casting time. Greater Scrying under conventional rules was cast as a standard action and lasted one hour per level. I think that is excessively overpowered, so I’m happy to remove those options.

See Invisibility

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Speak with Animals

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Speak with Plants

Read the Pathfinder descripton

Unchanged.

Status

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged. Just to say that this spell gives you an idea of your companion’s relative position to you – not his exact location. You may get the result that they are twenty miles north, not that they are in the oven of a m’canti witch. At its best, a running status spell can lead you to the general vicinity of a companion, but it’s not a find the path spell. It’s not going to show you how to get around a raging river or bottomless ravine.

Stone Spell

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged

(Rary’s) Telepathic Bond

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged, although I will point out that regardless of that the SRD or Pathfinder rules say I will always endeavour to use the third edition name of a spell. So it’s Rary’s Telepathic Bond and not just Telepathic Bond.

Tongues

Read the Pathfinder description

Tongues grates on me slightly. In a  setting with no common language, players are encouraged to spend their skill points on learning a large number of different languages. Tongues undermines that somewhat. What’s the point in having specialised linguists if any fifth level wizard can understand any language by snapping his fingers?

However, Tongues has been in the game for a very long time. And the reason its been in the game for so long is because a situation where the PCs can’t communicate with the NPCs is normally undesirable. Yes, it’s fun in the short term to have the PCs washed up on an isolated atoll and have to pantomime their desires to the natives – but it isn’t long before it becomes tiresome and gets in the way of the plot. Without talking, advancing the story is very difficult. That’s the strongest case for tongues that I can think of.

True Seeing

Divination
Level: Arcane 6, Divine (Knowledge) 5, Primal 7
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Creature touched
Duration: 1 minute/level
Saving Throw: Will neagtes (harmless)

You confer on the subject the ability to see through all magical attempts to hide, deceive or bamboozle the senses. You see things as they truly are: not how magic might make them appear.

The subject sees through magical darkness (but not normal darkness); notices secret doors hidden by magic (but not by mundane means); sees the exact locations of creatures or objects under blur or displacement effects; sees invisible creatures or objects normally; and, sees illusions for what they are – the illusion is still visible to the subject, but they are aware of its unreal nature. the subject can focus its vision to see into the Ethereal Plane (but not into extradimensional spaces). The range of true seeing conferred is 120 feet.

True seeing also has a limited ability to reveal the true form of polymorphed, changed or transmuted things. As long as the transmutation was caused and sustained by magic then the true form of a creature of object is visible as a ghostly image overlapping its current form. True seeing does not reveal the true form if the transformation is a natural (or supernatural) ability, or if the transutation effect is permanent. Therefore, true seeing will reveal the true form of a wizard polymorphed into a dragon, but will not reveal anything if directed at a werewolf in its humanoid form, or a statue that is actually a petrified prince.

True seeing does not penetrate solid objects. It in no way confers X-ray vision or its equivalent. It does not negate concealment, including that caused by fog and the like. True seeing does not help the viewer see through mundane disguises, spot creatures who are simply hiding, or notice secret doors hidden by mundane means. In addition, the spell effects cannot be further enhanced with known magic, so one cannot use true seeing through a crystal ball or in conjunction with clairaudience/clairvoyance.

What I have tried to do here is reposition true seeing as a magical means to detect magical disguises. It’s still pretty powerful in what it can reveal to the caster of the spell, but now it isn’t the spell of choice to torpedo every “hunt the werewolf” plot that has ever been written. Yes, it’s less powerful – but I think all of you were expecting that by now.

True Strike

Read the Pathfinder description

Unchanged.

Vision

Divination
Level: Arcane 8, Divine (Oracle) 8, Primal 8
Casting Time: 1 standard action (see below)
Range: Touch
Target: Willing creature or object touched
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Will negates (harmless)

The caster touches a person or an object and immediately gains a vision of the target. The vision is always something of great importance (although the importance may not be immediately apparent). The vision may be a scene from the past or from the future. If cast as a standard action the caster has no way to control the vision or what the magic reveals.

The casting of a vision spell is often the springboard to a quest or campaign, as the caster tries to work out the significance of what they saw.

Casters of vision spells often rely on complicated rituals involving animal entrails, tarot carts, tea leaves or other items befitting their tradition. While, technically, these materials are unnecessary when casting the spell (you either have the Gift of Sight or you don’t) casters who rely on them believe they are more able to direct the vision. They still can’t control what they are seeing, but they can control when they are seeing it.

If vision is cast as a ritual lasting not less than 1 hour, the caster states a specific point in the past or in the future for his vision. He then makes a caster level check (1d20 + 1 per caster level to a maximum of +25). The further removed from the present his vision is, the more difficult the check:

Level Check DC Effect
20 or less DM fiat
21-25 1 month
26-30 1 year
31-35 10 years
36-40 100 years
41-45 1000 years

All visions must be fixed to a particular person or object. There’s no point touching a young boy and then having a vision to see what he’s doing 1000 years from now: regardless of what you roll for your spell level check, the boy will still be long dead.

You cannot cast a vision spell on the same person or object more often than once per month. If another such spell is cast (by the same caster) during this time, then the results are always the same.

Right, pick this one apart at your leisure. In the Pathfinder rules, Vision is just an augmented version of the legend lore spell. As it stood, there was absolutely no way that vision would ever have been included in the game. Rather than just jetissoning the spell wholesale, I kept the name and wrote a completely new spell description. I think that’s fairly evocative, and (as it can’t be called upon very often) has the potential to open up adventure paths that may not have otherwise been apparent.

Anti-Divination Spells

No, I’m not proposing an “anti-divination” category of spells. That would be silly. But I do what to have a closer look at those spells designed to vex and protect characters against divination magicks. Not all of these are Divination spells, some are Abjurations. I think I’ve covered all the main ones here, but if I’m missed any then please feel free to point it out.

Detect Scrying

Read Pathfinder description

The description fo this spell is unchanged, but I just wanted to underline its properties if could. Casting this spell wards an area with forty feet of the caster for twenty-four hours. During that time, the caster becomes instantly aware of any scrying attempts. The caster of this spell, and the foe behind the scrying sensor immediately make opposed caster level checks. If the caster of detect scrying wins, then he can see through the sensor and note the location of the originator.

Detect scrying does not prevent the scrying from working, it merely let’s you know if someone is trying it on. It is a 4th level spell, which is a level higher than clairaudience/clairvoyance. For a while in the game, therefore, your character’s ability to guard against scrying doesn’t keep pace with his ability as a scrier. However, detect scrying works against any spell of the Scrying subschool, regardless of level and with no saving throw to avoid its effects. It certainly punches above its weight for those who can cast 4th level spells.

One change I am considering in the long term is adding detect scrying to the limited number of spells that can be made Permanent with a permanency spell. I’ll discuss permanency more when we get onto the post about magic items.

Nondetection

Read the Pathfinder description

This is your best low-level spell to avoid divinations. It’s a 3rd level spell that lasts one hour per caster level. During that time any divination cast on you must succeed at a caster level check DC 11 + caster level of the caster of nondetection (or 15 + caster level, if nondetection is cast on you and by you). You have to go all the way to 8th level and discern location to find a spell that can automatically nondetection.

Mindblank

Read the Pathfinder description

An 8th level spell with a duration of 24 hours that guards against pretty much any form of divination and scrying. There’s no reason for high level wizards not to have this spell running on them all the time, and no reason why non-spellcasting NPCs with enough money or influence couldn’t have this spell cast upon them.

Undetectable Alignment

Read the Pathfinder description

So, no alignment in the game. However, as a logical progression from our discussion about the detect evil family of spells, undetectable alignment still has a role to play in the game. Creatures that have Taint could use this spell to mask its presence. So a vampire could use this spell to hide himself from the gaze of a paladin.

Conclusion

Well, this has been thorough. I have no desire to micro-manage any other part of the D&D game as much as I have divinations. Most other spells can go hang, as long as I can rein in the excesses of this particular branch of magic. Now, what do you all think?

Pathfinder Core Classes

Hi all. The post on Divination is looking to be longer than I intended, so I thought I would give you a little something to think about in the meantime. I’ve been looking more closely at the core classes as presented by the Pathfinder game, and I find elements of them a little complex. So I have have considering a few changes.

Now the cleric, wizard, sorcerer and druid are all due to get a rules make-over anyway – you’ll see the results in the Magic document towards the end of the month. What I’m looking at here is how the abilities of the Pathfinder classes are regulated. Personally, I look at the rules for barbarian rage and think they’re a mite fiddley.

Now, I’ve never played a barbarian in Pathfinder, and never run a Pathfinder game with a barbarian PC. These are my observations as an interested outsider – and as we have a barbarian PC at the retreat in April (Krodluk) I would like to get my head around these mechanics. My goal is to reduce PC book-keeping where-ever possible.

Barbarian Rage

Read the D&D 3.5 Barbarian
Read the Pathfinder Barbarian

The actual mechanic for a barbarian’s rage hasn’t changed between Pathfinder and 3.5. – it’s still +4 Strength, +4 Constitution, +2 Will and -2 to Armour Class. There is also a list of things that a mindless barbarian can’t do while raging (like use any Int, Wis or Cha based skills for example). After raging a barbarian is fatigued until “the end of the current encounter” (in 3.5) or twice the number of rounds spent raging (in Pathfinder). The barbarian is forbidden from raging more than once in any encounter.

He’s the difference I want to talk about: in D&D 3.5 the barbarian can range a number of times per day. He starts off being able to use the ability once per day at first level and gets another use every four levels thereafter. In Pathfinder, the barbarian can rage for a number of rounds equal to 4  + his Con modifier + 2 for every level beyond first each day. The rounds don’t have to be consecutive.

Does that strike anyone as a little too complicated? A second level barbarian with a Con of 18 can rage for 10 rounds per day. The player has to keep track of these rounds individually on his character sheet. Those of you out there who have played barbarians: isn’t that just too much hassle?

Why don’t we just make Barbarian Rage an at-will ability instead?

If you think about it, this isn’t a major power increase for the barbarian. By it’s very nature Rage is a self-limiting ability. We would just need to make two changes. Firstly, Rage would need a set duration (we already have that in the 3.5 version of the ability), and secondly we would need to say that once a barbarian has used Rage, he is fatigued until he takes a short rest.

So the text of Rage in our game would look like this:

Rage (Ex): A barbarian can call upon inner reserves of strength and ferocity, granting her additional combat prowess. While in a rage, a barbarian temporarily gains a +4 bonus to Strength, a +4 bonus to Constitution, and a +2 morale bonus on Will saves, but she takes a -2 penalty to Armour Class. The increase in Constitution increases the barbarian’s hit points by 2 points per level, but these hit points go away at the end of the rage when his Constitution score drops back to normal: these extra hit points are not lost first the way temporary hit points are. While raging, a barbarian cannot use any skills base on Charisma, Dexterity, or Intelligence (except for Acrobatics, Fly, Intimidate or Ride), or any ability that requires patience or concentration.

A fit of rage lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 + your (newly improved) Con modifier. A barbarian may prematurely end his rage. At the end of the rage, the barbarian loses the rage modifiers and restrictions and becomes fatigued (-2 penalty to Strength, -2 penalty to Dexterity, cannot run or charge) until he has taken a short rest. A barbarian cannot enter a rage while fatigued or exhausted. If a barbarian falls unconscious, then her rage ends immediately placing her in peril of death.

Barbarians enter Rage on their turn as a free action. They may enter a rage at-will as long as they are not fatigued or exhausted. Barbarians who end a rage and are not fatigued (because they are 17th level and have the Tireless Rage ability), or have their fatigued removed (by one of various spells), may rage again within the same encounter.

And there we have it. For the most part, barbarians are limited to raging once per encounter for a number of rounds equal to 3 + Con modifier. This brings the rage ability into line with magic spells that use the recharge mechanic. This modification to the rules doesn’t affect the suite of barbarian rage powers that Pathfinder introduced, and doesn’t affect powers like Tireless Rage or Mighty Rage that a barbarian gets at later levels.

And it’s just a whole lot easier that ticking off rounds per day isn’t it?

Bardic Music/Bardic Performance

Read the D&D 3.5 Bard
Read the Pathfinder Bard

You may think that the bard has the same problem as the barbarian. In Pathfinder he can use his bardic music for a number of rounds equal to 4 + Cha modifier + 2 per level beyond first. Once again, too fiddley for words – can we do something to reduce the book-keeping for the player (and the GM running his NPC bard)?

The bard is not as straight-forward as the barbarian. Some of the bardic music abilities (particularly the new ones introduced by the Pathfinder game) are not the sort of things you want a bard to be able to call upon at will. The bard has numeous utilitarian powers that are darned useful outside combat – bonuses to skills, healing effects and somewhat.

What I would propose to do for the bard is to turn back to the 3.5 rules. Let’s just say that the bard can use bardic music a number of times per day equal to her bard level. That’s worked up until now, and I think that it will be sufficient to regulate the class in Pathfinder as well.

Stunning Fist and Ki

Read the D&D 3.5 monk
Read the Pathfinder monk

As I’m sure INdran would agree, the Pathfinder monk is a great improvement over the 3.5 original. However, there are some mechanics in its make-up that I think are worth highlighting. The monk is the only class in the game to have two separate systems for regulating its powers.

On the one hand it has a reserve of ki points that are used to trigger its supernatural abilities. These ki points equal half his monk level + his Wisdom modifier. They basically work like spell points. I don’t have a big problem with them as (unlike the spell point system we have now) the monk is never going to get so many ki points that it becomes ridiculous. The ninja uses a ki pool as well.

However, the monk is also regulated in the number of times per day that he can use Stunning Fist. This is nothing to do with his ki pool, he can just use it a flat number of times per day equal to his monk level. Does this strike anyone as a bit clumsy. We’re asking the player of the monk to remember to record two things where most other classes have either one or none to worry about.

Of course the problem is that Stunning Fist isn’t a monk ability. It’s a feat that anyone can take, monks just happen to get it for free. Anyone else taking Stunning Fist can use it once per four levels. The monk can use it once per level – so they have an advantage.

Stunning Fist must be a limited use ability. It’s not self-limiting like barbarian rage is. I want to consider whether this is the best way to adjudicate the Stunning Fist. If we tie it into a monk’s ki pool then we are going to have to increase the ki pool accordingly. That will have the effect of giving the monk more uses of all his ki pool related abilities such as dimension door which is not a side-effect I want to see.

So we leave things as they are here, or is there a better way of doing things? I’m a bit lost on this one at the moment.

Teleportation

Right, this is the second and penultimate post in my series of ‘problem spells in D&D’. Teleportation is a problematic part of the game for the GM. It’s not as bad as Divination (which we’ll get to later) but it can place unnecessary barriers to some perfectly good and enjoyable adventures.

I’m not trying to undermine the potency of the characters, but I don’t think that teleportation has ever been sensibly addressed in the D&D rules (well, not until fourth edition). These proposed changes are flavourful, and actually create new roleplaying opportunities instead of closing them off. They also opens the door for access to limited teleportation at lower levels than the third edition game previously permitted. I think they make more sense.

So have a look and see what you think:

Teleportation Spells

The rules I propose for Teleportation take something of a lead from the fourth edition game. I quite like the idea of even low-level characters blipping around a single combat with low-level teleportation, while I think long distance teleportation needs to be curtailed somewhat. It should be possible to cross vast distances at mid-levels, but only very high level casters should be able to do so at a whim.

My feeling is that teleportation is very dangerous. You’re stepping out of this reality into the Astral Plane and crossing the intervening distance in the blink of an eye to instantaneously arrive at your destination. A bit like the way hyperspace works in the old Star Wars RPG, you have to be sure of your route through the Astral Plane to your destination. You don’t want to crash into an astral whale, or zip through the lich-queen’s boudoir. After all, teleportation isn’t like dusting crops.

The less familiar you are with the destination, the more dangerous the journey becomes: the more likely it is that you’re deposited somewhere you don’t want to be, or that you suffer physical damage (as part of you appears somewhere, and the rest of you appears somewhere else), or you may even find yourself shunted onto the Astral Plane. As far as teleportation is concerned, planning is absolutely everything. This is how I see the scope of teleportation spells:

Low-level spells: Teleportation spells of 4th level or lower (which includes dimension door) can’t transport you further than you can see. The range of these abilities is reduced to line of sight. You can’t use them to transport onto the other side of a closed door, or if you’re blinded, or if it’s too dark to see. You can use them to transport through a window (as you can see what’s on the other side).  These rules leave the door open to introduce some nifty fourth edition classes like the Swordmage, as well as making certain third edition prestige classes (Shadowdancer) more attractive.

Mid-level spells: Spells of levels 5 to 7 allow you to teleport sight unseen, but in order to use them you have to lock on to an existing teleportation circle. Teleportation circles are magical items that are designed to be the sending and receiving points of teleportation magic. Think stargates for want of a better analogy. Any spell caster can use the teleport spell to travel from where they are, as long as the destination point has a teleportation circle. Teleportation circles are coded with runes (gate addresses). If the caster doesn’t know the runes for a particular circle then he cannot teleport to it. Casting a spell from a random location to a teleportation circle takes several minutes to cast. However, if you’re teleporting between two existing circles then the spell is cast as a standard action. And yes, characters can build their own teleportation circles using the rules for constructing magic items.

High-level spells: Spells of levels 8 and 9 are required if you want to teleport ‘off the grid’. If you want to teleport to a location you cannot see, and the destination is not a teleportation circle then you’ll need a spell of at least 8th level to get there. Teleporting off the grid is dangerous, and becomes progressively more dangerous if you are less familiar with your destination. There is no ‘teleport without error’ or similar spells in the game any more. Even high level casters, who teleport off the grid will run into trouble.

In principle, these limitations seem perfectly fine to me as a GM. There’s a slight loss of utility from teleportation at low levels, and class abilities such as Abundant Step (yes I’m think of monks, INdran) may need to be slightly rethought. Let’s start off with my (mostly new) description of the Teleportation sub-school:

Teleportation: A teleportation spell transports some or more creatures a defined distance without having to cross the intervening space. Low level spells require line of sight to function, while mid-level spells must be anchored to an existing permanent teleportation circle. Only spells of the highest level allow you to travel without such permanent circles, and cross planar boundaries.

The temples of many major religions, important wizards’ guilds, and large cities have permanent teleportation circles, each of which has a unique set of magic sigils etched or inlaid into the ground. The exact sequence of sigils matters, because you’ve got to match it if you want to teleport there. The sigils aren’t any more complex than remembering a string of letters and numbers. As characters advance, they will learn new sets of sigils.

Unlike summoning spells the transportation is (unless otherwise specified) one-way and cannot be dispelled. Using teleportation to flee an opponent never provokes an attack of opportunity. Being grappled, restrained or otherwise immobilised doesn’t stop a character from teleporting as long as the caster can still cast magic while restrained (using for example the Still Spell feat) and the casting time of the teleportation spell doesn’t make such escape impractical. Assuming this is true then:

If the thing doing the restraining is a character or if it is fixed in a particular place then teleportation will free you from its clutches. If the restraint can travel with you then it does. So you can teleport out of maw of a purple worm, or from mannacles chained to a wall; but you can’t teleport away from your bonds if you’re tied up (they come with you), and you can’t teleport away from the effects of a hold person spell.

Teleportation is instantaneous travel through the Astral Plane. Anything that blocks astral travel, also blocks teleportation.

Okay, everyone clear on the rules? Let’s have a look at a few of the more obvious teleportation spells. And just for INdran, we’ll have a look at a revised Abundant Step as well:

Dimension Door

Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Arcane 4, Divine (Journeys) 4, Song 4
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: line of sight up to 400 ft. + 40 ft./level
Target: you and touched objects, or touched willing creature
Duration: instantaneous
Saving Throw: none and Will negates (object)

You instantly transport yourself from your current location to any spot that you can see within the range of this spell. You can bring along objects as long as their weight doesn’t exceed your maximum load. You may also bring one additional willing Medium or smaller creature (carrying gear or objects up to its maximum load) or its equivalent per three caster levels. A Large creature counts as two Medium creatures, a Huge creature counts as four Medium creatures and so forth. All creatures to be transported must be touching one another, and at least one of them must be touching you.

Amazing. The first spell description I’ve ever written that is shorter than the original. As you can see, the spell can no longer transport you through solid objects, or into areas that you cannot see. A blinded caster or one wearing a blindfold can’t use this spell at all. Characters with eye-patches can only teleport half as far (just kidding). To slightly balance things, I have removed the caveat that casters can take no further actions on the round they dimension door. I don’t remember ever enforcing that rule anyway.

Adbundant Step (Su)

At 12th level or higher, a monk can slip magically between spaces as if using the dimension door spell. Using this ability is a move action that consumes 2 point from his ki pool. His caster level for this effect is equal to his monk level. He cannot take other creatures with him when he uses his ability.

Wow. I think I’ve only just read the Pathfinder version of Abundant Step for the first time today. In third edition the monk can use dimension door as the spell once per day, at a caster level equal to half his monk level. In Pathfinder… he can use it multiple times per day by spending kipoints, he can use it as a Move action instead of a Standard action and his ‘caster level’ is his full monk level and not half his monk level. Hasn’t this already been upscaled enough? To be honest, I think it has.

So sorry INdran, I’m not changing Abundant Step, the above text is identical to the Pathfinder rules. I looked, I thought and I decided against it. I hope it’s some small comfort that we now know why Zookie didn’t escape the Walhoonians.

Teleport

Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Arcane 5, Divine (Journeys) 5
Casting Time: 10 minutes (see below)
Range: touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 rounds/5 levels
Saving Throw: none and Will negates (object)

You create a shortcut across the fabric of the world, linking your location with a permanent teleportation circle somewhere else on the same plane. With a step, you can move from one circle to the other. As part of performing the ritual, you must sketch out a 10-foot-diameter circle in various chalks, inks and powders. Some wizards use ominous candles, but this is purely an affectation. This temporary teleportation circle must exactly match the permanent teleportation circle at your destination. It disappears at the end of the spell’s duration.

You must know the unique sequence of runes and sigils that corresponds to the portal to which you are trying to connect. When you learn the teleport spell you will also discover two or more sequences of sigils (at the GM’s discretion). Other sequences can be found, stolen or purchased. Having a sequence of sigils does not guarantee entry through the destination portal, as some portals can still be warded. If this is the case, then the teleport spell fails and the caster is aware that warding is in place.

While the portal is open, any creature that enters the circle at the origin point instantly appears at the other location, along with anything the creature holds or carries. Any number of creatures of any size can use an open portal; the only limitation is the number that can reach the circle before it ends.

The conjured portal is opaque: you cannot see what is on the other side. It is also provides two-way transportation. Anyone on the other side of the portal can come through to the caster’s side given sufficient time. However, environmental effects at one end of the connection don’t affect the other end, so you can’t open a portal at the bottom of the ocean and flood your current location.

Teleport can link to any permanent portal on the same plane of existence. It cannot cross planar boundaries.

You can use a permanent teleportation circle as the origin point for this spell. This saves the caster having to draw his own temporary circle on the ground. If a permanent circle is used as the origin point then the casting time of this spell is reduced from 10 minutes to 1 standard action.

Shock, horror. The above is very closed based on the 4e ritual, linked portal. Hopefully, it’s all fairly self-explanatory. Teleport stops being a ‘get of jail free’ card for spellcasters of ninth level and higher. If they want to escape via teleportation they need to have ten minutes of peace and quiet while they inscribe their ritual. “No, I can’t help against that dragon, I’m busy with my teleportation circle. Just hold it off another 98 rounds and we can escape.”

There are other magicks that get around this limitation. Word of recall still exists in the game, and functions as ever it did. What is more important for me, is that teleport can’t be used as a means to blithely blip across the planet just because the character is feeling contrary. No more teleporting from your bedroom down to breakfast; no more teleporting to the shops just because it’s raining… and no more teleporting to the unknown village instead of walking through the undead infested moorland.

Plane Shift

Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Arcane 7, Divine (All) 7
Casting Time: 1 hour (see below)
Range: touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 rounds/5 levels
Saving Throw: none and Will negates (object)

This spell functions as teleport with the exception that the magic is solely used to cross planar boundaries. You can’t use plane shift to travel to a permanent teleportation circle on the same plane, but you can use it to travel to a specific teleportation circle on a different plane of existence.

Divine casters who know this spell usually only know the sigil sequence to travel to a particular location on the home plane of their god (although there is nothing stopping them learning other addresses in time). Arcane casters will discover one sigil sequence when they learn this spell, and will probably go out of their way to discover more.

As with teleport you can use an existing permanent teleportation circle as the origin point of this spell. This reduces the casting time down from 1 hour to 1 minute. Planar travel is more complex than travel on the same plane.

Plane Shift does more or less what it says on the tin. It is slightly less dangerous now (as at least you know where you’re going to turn up – but you are once again limited to appearing at an existing permanent portal. Divine casters also see a level increase from 5 to 7, which I think is in keeping with the utility of this spell – as well as the levels where I would like to see it become available.

Teleport, Greater

Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Arcane 8, Divine (Journeys) 8
Casting Time: 10 minutes (see below)
Range: touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 rounds/5 levels
Saving Throw: none and Will negates (object)

This spell functions like teleport with the exception that your destination does not have to be a permanent teleportation portal. Teleporting ‘off the grid’ is extremely dangerous, and becomes more dangerous if the caster is unfamiliar with his destination.

If you use greater teleport to reach a destination that is not a permanent teleportation portal, the you must have some clear idea of the location and lay-out of your destination. The clearer your mental image, the more likely the teleportation works. To see how well the spell functions, then roll 1d100 and consult the following table. The definitions are given below.

Familiarity On Target Off Target Similar Area Splinched Adrift
Very familiar 01-95 96-98 98-99 100
Studied carefully 01-90 91-94 95-97 98-99 100
Seen casually 01-85 86-90 91-95 96-99 99-100
Viewed once 01-75 76-84 85-90 91-96 96-100
False destination 01-50 61-90 91-100

Familiarity: Very familiar is a place that you where you have been very often and feel at home. Studied carefully is a place you know well, either because you can currently physically see it, or because you have been there often. Seen casually refers to places that you have seen more than once, but with which you are not very familiar. Viewed once is a location that you have only seen once, or only seen by scrying. False destination refers to a location that does not exist. The caster may have been fooled into thinking the location was real, or he may be trying to teleport to a known location that no longer exists.

Note that you can’t use greater teleport to visit a place you haven’t seen at all – you cannot define “Princess Jasmine’s bedchamber” or “the nearest hawthorn bush” and hope for the spell to work. Such attempts result in an unavoidable mishap (GM discretion). Scrying unseen destinations first before teleporting is the wisest course of action.

On Target: You appear where you want to be. Rejoice.

Off Target: You appear safely at a random distance from the intended location, and in a random destination. The distance off target is 1d100% of the distance that was to be travelled. The direction is determined randomly.

Similar Area: You arrive in an area that is visually or thematically similar to the target area. Distance isn’t a factor in this dislocation, the spell simply homes in on the most similar alternative location.

Splinched: Not of all of you reaches the destination, and the body parts that do are often twisted beyond all recognition. Take 1d10 damage and roll again on the table. Unlucky rolls could result into you being repeatedly splinched to death.

Adrift: The spell casts you loose in the Astral Sea. It’s up to your ingenuity and the GM to work out how you get home from here.

Interplanar travel is not possible with a greater teleport spell: the start and desintination point must be on the same plane of existence.

Greater teleport is, as you would expect, a more powerful version of teleport. It uses the same mechanics, and the same need to create a portal but now you don’t have to teleport to a permanent teleportation circle if you don’t want to. If you do, then you might have a mishap, and this is the point where the spell description lurches back to third edition and makes use of the table that appears in the third edition version of the spell (it’s the same in Pathfinder, by the way).

The table is not quite the same. I’ve juggled some of the conditions, and altered the probability of them happening . I have also introduced an “adrift” category so the spell can jump you in the astral plane if you get it wrong. And yes, the term “splinched” comes straight out of Harry Potter, but until the English language comes up for a verb that means “physical trauma as a result of a botched teleportation” then I’m happy to borrow the term from J.K. Rowling.

Plane Shift, Greater

Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Arcane 9, Divine (Journeys) 9
Casting Time: 1 hour (see below)
Range: touch
Area: 10 ft. radius
Duration: 1 rounds/5 levels
Saving Throw: none and Will negates (object)

This spell is similar to plane shift except that it is based on the greater teleport instead of the teleport spell. Greater plane shift allows travel between planes of existence, without the need for the destination to be a permanent teleportation circle. However, such jumps require a roll on the table presented in the greater teleport spell description.

Not much to say here. This is the planar equivalent of greater teleport and works like a combination of several of the spells that we have already seen.

True Teleportation

Conjuration (Teleportation)
Level: Arcane 9, Divine (Journeys) 9
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: personal
Duration: instantaneous

Using this spell, the caster can instantaneously transport himself to a designated destination on the same plane of existence. No lengthy preparation for the spell is required, the caster simply wills himself to be somewhere else and disappears.

If the target destination is a permanent teleportation circle then the caster arrives safely with no chance of mishap. If this is not the case, then the caster must roll on the potential mishap table found in the description of the greater teleport spell.

Finally, a nod to the great teleportation spells of the past. By the time a caster reaches this level, it is right and proper that he should be able to blip around the map at a moment’s notice. However, notice even this powerful spell only has a range of “Personal”. The caster can’t cast it on others, and neither can he bring anyone else with him. Otherwise this is the same spell (give or take) as the old 5th level teleport spell.

Better 0-Level Spells

Well, another week and another post about the new magic system. What I intend to do here is address a disparity created by the rules for Acquired Spellcasters. This is the recharge mechanic –  most recently explained here, although an updated document will follow shortly. The recharge mechanic creates the need for new and better 0-level spells. Why? Read on!

Spellpower

There has been some fairly consistent comment on D&D message boards over the last decade or so that the damage potential of a third edition wizard is a little low. The most powerful spells cast by a 20th level wizard can’t quite match the damage potential of a fighter with four attacks per round. Whether you completely believe these tales is up to you, but I think there is a little leeway to increase the damage that spells inflict.

I propose that, in most cases, casters add their prime spellcasting ability score modifier to the damage of their spells. So a 10th level wizard with an Intelligence of 19 would inflict 10d6+5 with his fireball and not a flat 10d6. It’s a small boost for high level spells, but at low levels it can make a difference. At very low levels (when the spellcaster is often resorting to 0-level spells) then it can make a game-changing difference – which is largely the thrust of this blog post.

Because it’s rather clumsy to keep saying “add your prime spellcasting ability score modifier, for example Intelligence for a wizard, Wisdom for a cleric, Charisma for a bard” every time we mention this mechanic; and because it’s even more tedious to type it in every spell description, we need a shorthand way of referring to it. I’m going to call it “spellpower”.  So everytime the description of a spell says “add your spellpower” what it means is “add your prime spellcasting ability score modifier, for example Intelligence for a wizard, Wisdom for a cleric, Charisma for a bard”. If you don’t like the term spellpower, then feel free to come up with something better.

New 0-Level Spells

Zero level spells are sometimes referred to as cantrips, orisons or (confusingly for this blog) talents. Zero level spells can be cast at will. They don’t disappear from the mind of a recharge caster, and instinctive casters don’t need to make a languor check when they are cast. Why do we need more of them in the new spell system? Well, actually it was something that Neil said in the comments of an HD&D post a long time ago that got me thinking about this.

Basically: if all spells using the recharge mechanic are ‘fire-and-forget’ magic, what happens when a recharge caster, such as a wizard or cleric, runs out of spells? Not a problem outside combat, they can just sit down and rest for a moment, but inside combat this is an issue. The first level wizard whose only offensive spells are sleep and magic missile is out of spells by the end of round two. What does he do then? Hurl insults? Attempt some laughably inaccurate shots with his crossbow?

Fourth edition has the same problem. It gets around it by giving all the characters At-Will powers: lesser powers that the character can fall back on in a pinch. 0-Level spells are already at-will abilities, so they could fill this role in our game. However, as it stands they’re not really powerful enough to be seen as viable alternatives. If all the wizard can do is fire a 1d3 ray of frost then he might as well be hurling insults.

With this in mind I intend to make a few changes to the existing 0-level spells. They’re going to do a little (not a lot!) more damage. And, in most cases, spellcasters are going to be to apply their spellpower to the damage of these spells. If ray of frost inflicts 1d4+4 damage instead of 1d3 damage, then it suddenly becomes a more viable option. It’s still not as good as a first level spell – and the damage of the cantrip will not scale as the wizard gains levels – but it’s still something to fall back on.

However, the existing cantrips printed in the third edition PHB or the Pathfinder RPG aren’t quite enough to fill the role I have in mind. I think we need a few extra options for 0-level spells, hence the meat of this post. Below is the text and commentary on a handful of additional 0-level spells to fill out the arsenal of the recharge caster. Languor casters can select these too of course, as long as they are of the appropriate tradition.

Arcane Bolt

Evocation [Force]
Level: Arcane 0, Divine (Magic) 0
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Effect: Ray
Target: One creature
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: None

Raising your hand, you project a beam of near-invisible magical force at your foe. Make a ranged touch attack, if successful the ray inflicts 1d6 + spellpower force damage.

Arcane Bolt is quite obviously a lesser form of magic missile. The actual ray does a little more damage than a single magic missile, but arcane bolt doesn’t have the range of the first level spell and doesn’t enjoy the magic missile‘s unique advantage: it always hits. The fact that magic missile becomes better as characters gain levels but arcane bolt does not, reinforces my view that arcane bolt is balanced as an at-will ability.

The damage inflicted is comparable with a single arrow shot from a short bow, although again the range of the shortbow trumps arcane bolt. It doesn’t have as much damage potential as a crossbow or heavy crossbow. However, it is much easier to hit with the arcane bolt than a weapon. I think a wizard would choose this spell over grabbing a crossbow, which is as it should be.

Faith Healing

Conjuration (Healing) [Radiant]
Level: Divine (Healing) 0
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Creature touched
Duration: 10 minutes per level
Saving Throw: Will negates

You call upon the power of the weave to offer your allies a timely respite from grievous wounds. Such minor magic cannot permanently restore hit points, but it can grant the target a temporary reprieve.

You lay your hands on an yourself or another creature. This healing touch temporarily retores 1d6 + spellpower hit points. Targets of the spell should treat the damage restored as normal healing, but also keep track of all the hit points that have been restored through the Faith Healing spell. This is the character’s timeshifted damage.

Before the expiration of the spell, the character may receive traditional healing magics (potions, cure wounds etc) to reduce this timeshifted damage. If he doesn’t, then the all that damage returns at the end of the spell.

At the end of the spell’s duration, all the timeshifted damage is inflicted on the character. Wounds that were ‘healed’ reopen. If the character takes sufficient damage then he may fall unconscious or even die on the spot.

Multiple castings of Faith Healing on the same character do stack. However, the duration of all the spells run from the moment the first active Faith Healing was cast on the character. For example, if a 10th level cleric cast Faith Healing on the same ally eight times over the course of an hour, all the timeshifted damage would be inflicted on the character 100 minutes after the first Faith Healing was cast.

The hit points restored by Faith Healing are not Temporary Hit Points. They cannot increase a character’s hit point total above his normal maximum.

The hit points restored by Faith Healing increases to 2d6 + spellpower at level four, and then by a further 1d6 every four levels thereafter.

It’s not only the ability to deal damage that suffers from the recharge mechanic: it’s also healing. Cure light wounds may be the only 1st level healing spell a cleric knows. It restores 1d8+1 hit points, and once it’s cast then it can’t be cast again for at least five minutes. Yes: I know that this is the way clerics have always functioned in D&D, but that’s going to come as something of a shock to players who have had the freedom of spellpoints for the last fifteen years.

What faith healing does is allow clerics (or other classes) to keep healing throughout a combat without having to worry about losing access to their healing spells. It also allows me to give clerics at-will healing without it destroying the integrity of the campaign setting. After all, if clerics can heal at will then – by logical extension – there shouldn’t be any sick or wounded people left in the world. Verisimilitude demands such a conclusion. Faith healing gets around that, because the healing is not real healing – it doesn’t last that long.

I think it’s a neat solution, and I also think that it could be fun at the gaming table. The healing from the cleric might save your life in the short term, but it’s also a death sentence. If you don’t get some real healing before the duration expires then you could be a goner. The text of the spell says that the targets of this spell should keep track of the damage, but vindictive players of clerics might want to keep those records themselves.

Assuming that the cleric survives the fight, he can probably cast enough cure light wounds or equivalent spells to stop characters who have received faith healing from dying. Probably. If you’re nice to him.

Placebo

Conjuration (Healing)
Level: Divine (Healing, Trickery) 0
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Creature touched
Duration: 3 rounds
Saving Throw: Will (harmless)

Sometimes being honest gets you nowhere. Sometimes when the orcs outnumber the party ten to one, or when facing a great wyrm with a severe case of the munchies… sometimes even the most righteous cleric has to be a little economical with the truth. This spell convinces the target that the cleric has cured a deliterious condition, when in reality it’s just a case of mind over matter.

When you cast this spell you target an ally with one of the following conditions: Cowering, Dazzled, Fatigued, Shaken, Sickened or Staggered. The effects of one of these conditions is suppressed for the duration of the spell. Placebo cannot be used to overcome the same condition on the same target more than once per day.

I’ve been wanting to write a spell called Placebo for some time, and I think this one fits the bill nicely. A minor healing effect, that makes the cleric a useful member of the party but without making him too useful. I very much like the idea of the fast-talking cleric who simply convinces the rogue that he’s not really fatigued, only to see him collapse in a blubbering heap three rounds later.

Resonant Burst

Evocation [Sonic]
Level: Song 0
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Area: 5 ft. radius emanation from caster
Target: All creatures in area
Duration: Instantaneous
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates

As foes close in for the kill, you unleash a devastating sonic scream that causes pain in your enemies and forces them back. All creatures within the area of effect must make a Fortitude saving throw. If they succeed then they are unaffected. If they fail they take Sonic damage equal to your spellpower. Any creature your size or smaller is also forced back 30 ft. from the caster by the terrible noise.

Resonant burst sits on the line between 1st and 0-level spells. In some circumstances, it might even be more useful than a 1st level spell. However, it does have some limitations. Firstly, the damage inflicted by the spell is fairly poor. Secondly, it only affects creatures within five feet of the target – this tends to mean those foes who are already in melee combat with the caster. I’m not sure about this one – what do you think?

Tooth and Claw

Transmutation
Level: Primal 0
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal
Duration: 5 rounds
Saving Throw: None

Your fingers are transformed into powerful talons, and your  jaw distends to make room for a new set of bone-crunching canines. After casting this spell, the primal caster gains the ability to make claw and bite attacks against his foes.

Claw attacks inflict lethal damage equal to the damage normally inflicted by the character’s unarmed attack. This would be 1d4 for most player character races such as humans, elves, dwarves and hobbits; plus the character’s strength bonus.

Bite attacks inflict base damage that is one step up from the die used for the claw attacks. A damage die of 1d4 for claw attacks would give a damage die of 1d6 for bite attacks; 1d6 for claw attacks would mean 1d8 for bite attacks and so on. The bite attack is also lethal damage, and the primal caster adds 1½ times his Strength modifier to the damage roll (as if using a two-handed weapon).

This spell does not grant the primal caster any additional attacks per round. If the caster only has one attack per round, then he must choose to attack with one claw or one bite. He cannot attack with both, and does not gain the signature claw/claw/bite routine of many creatures.

However, a primal caster who knows this spell and has additional attacks per round – perhaps because of his level, the Two-weapon fighting feat or even the Multiattack feat – may make multiple attacks with these natural weapons.

If the caster already has a claw and bite routine that inflicts the same or greater damage than that listed above, then this spell has nothing but a cosmetic effect on the character.

Finally, something for all those druids out there. To my mind, Primal casters aren’t the sort of people who stand at a distance blasting their foes – they like to get stuck in. Tooth and claw certainly does that. It may look comparable to a 1st level spell, but the duration is fairly poor and the caster actually has to take a round away from doing anything else in order to cast it. After spending one standard action to cast tooth and claw the caster can’t make any attacks in that without spending an action point or using the Quicken Spell feat, although he can still move into position. This limits the utility of the spell, which makes it more acceptable at zero level.

Conclusion

So: Arcane Bolt, Faith Healing, Placebo, Resonant Burst and Tooth and Claw. Five additional 0-level spells to add to the number that already exist in the game. In my amended system, all spellcasting casters will get a prescribed list of cantrips or orisons at first level. They can then add to that total in the same way they add any spells to their total. I think these spells are a necessary addition to the game. I also think that when taken alongside all the other cantrips, they’ll keep low-level recharge casters functioning meaningfully in combat even if they have cast all their big spells.

But what do you think? Are these cantrips overpowered, underpowered or just right? And can you think of any particular niche that I’ve missed? Is there something you would like to see a 0-level spell do that isn’t possible with any of the spells we have at the moment? We could convert most of 4e’s at-will powers, but that strikes me as overkill. As always: over to you.