Right then. The polls in the last blog post have been running for two weeks and I think it’s time to draw a line under them. I think that everyone who cares has either had their say or cast a vote, so I’m going to move on. Which is not to say that I won’t read or take notice of any further feedback. If you have an opinion let me know.
Even taking into account Neil’s undocumented opinions, and Daniel’s last minute conversion to a Freecasting system, the winning proposals are obvious: and have a clearer mandate than any government elected in this country in the last seventy years. The majority wants instinctive casters to move to a Spell Points per Encounter system, and for the number of spells they know to be determined by Rounded Spell Levels.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s decided.
However, before I start writing up these new rules, there are three things that I would like you to decide upon.
How Many Spell Points?
We have a bit of a dilemma. Normally, I’ve converted spell points directly from the number of spells a caster can cast in a day in the published spell system. As we are resetting spell points after each encounter, that approach won’t work any more. There’s no poll to vote on in this regard as I only have one idea. However, if you have any other thoughts that you think will work better then please say so in the comments..
The number of spell points depends on your progression. Characters who cast all nine spell levels like a sorcerer have 2 spell points per level + their ability score per level. Those that cast up to level six (like a bard) have 1.5 spell points per level + their ability score per level (round down!). Those that cast up to level four spells (like a hexblade) have 1 spell point per level + their ability score.
So does this work?
A 1st level sorcerer with a Charisma of 17 has a total of 4 spell points, and knows 2 levels worth of spells. A 10th level sorcerer with a Charisma of 17 has a total of 23 spell points. That sorcerer knows 44 levels of spells (from levels 1 to 5), so she won’t be able to blow through all her spells without taking a rest. However, given how long combats tend to last she’s unlikely to run out of spellcasting options before the end of the final round. By eighteenth level, the same sorcerer with a Charisma of 22 (let’s call her Ravenna) would have 42 spell points, but know 102 levels of spells.
A 1st level bard with a Charisma of 17 also has 4 spell points, and knows 2 levels worth of spells. At 10th level the same bard has a total of 18 spell points, and knows 28 levels worth of spells. By 18th level that bard (now with a Charisma of 22) has 33 spell points and knows a total of 74 levels of spells.
Does all this sound about right to you? Let me know in the comments. If you don’t say then I won’t know! I think the number of spell points seems fair as it looks as though a spellcaster can cast the most powerful spell they know four times before running out of spell points. I haven’t double checked that for every permutation of class and level, though.
Jon proposed that sorcerers (or other instinctive casters) should have the ability to carry on casting magic even if they ran out of spell points. Doing so should drain them in some fashion, meaning they would only attempt such a thing in dire circumstances. I have a few suggestions as to how this might work in practice. Have a read, then please vote below:
Option One: No Overcasting
A simple option. We just don’t go down the overcasting route. We keep things simple. Sorcerers and their ilk have a set number of spell points and no more. It may not be quite as evocative, but it keeps things nice and easy for everyone. I should point out that we had a form of overcasting in the rules for years, but no-one actually used it.
Option Two: Make a check or nauseated
When the instinctive caster overcasts magic they must make a Concentration Check. The DC is the same as casting defensively: 15 + double the spell level + spell levels over their normal spell point total. If they fail the check then the spell fails and the sorcerer is nauseated for a number of rounds equal to the spell level. Successive overcast attempts result in further Concentration checks, at an increasing difficulty as the number of spell levels they have tried to cast over their normal total also increases. If the spellcaster overcasts (whether successful or not) it takes 1 hour instead of a short rest (5 minutes) to regain their spell points.
This is the only option I’ve presented that requires the roll of a die. I don’t think that would be as much of an issue as the languor system as instinctive casters should only be overcasting very infrequently. The price of failure (the “nauseated” condition) is deliberately high. If you are nausaeted you can only take a single Move action on your turn: and no-one wants that in combat. The additional delay to regain your spell points (up from 5 minutes to 1 hour) if you overcast should discourage using this option outside combat unless absolutely necessary.
Option Three: Constitution Damage
An instinctive spellcaster can overcast their spells. However, any additional spell levels they spend over their normal spell point total is converted into Constitution damage. For example, a sorcerer has a maximum of 20 spell point but has already cast 18 spell levels. If the sorcerer casts a fifth level spell then they spend their last two spell points, and take three points of damage to their Constitution score. This ability damage heals normally.
This option has the advantage of being quick and easy to adjudicate. It’s also rather brutal as any damag to Consitution automatically affects the sorcerer’s current and maximum hit points. However, it is invocative of the sorcerer metabolising his own body and turning it into magic: a desperate last resort.
Option Four: Borrowing from Yourself
In this system, a sorcerer that overcasts borrows spell points from the spell points he would have had if he had the chance to take a short rest. The price he pays is lowering his maximum spell point total until his next extended (8-hour) rest. For example: a sorcerer has a maximum of 20 spell points. She casts all 20, but still needs to cast magic and opts to overcast. She casts a second and a third level spell using up 5 more spell points. When she takes a short rest to regain her spell points her maximum total is now 15 and not 20. Her maximum total remains 15 until she takes an extended rest at the end of the day.
This option requies a little more paperwork on the part of the player, and has the potential to make the instinctive caster more powerful. If the instinctive caster overcasts more than twice his spell points (40 spell points in the example above) then the overflow at thay point would be converted to Constitution damage as per option two.
Words of Power
The rules for Words of Power can be found on the Pathfinder PRD. I’m not going to try and explain the mechanics. Have a read and see if you can understand them. It is a magic system without spells. The idea is that you take the fundamental elements of a spell and build a magical effect on the fly. If you ignore the Pathfinder-flavour it’s an extremely evocative and appropriate system for untrained, instinctive spellcasters.
Daniel has proposed that we adopt this system. If we did, then I’d want to apply it across the board to all sorcerers, oracles, wilders, inquisitors and the like. The Words of Power ‘spells’ would replace the class’s normal spell list. The class wouldn’t be able to select normal spells, they would choose words of power instead. Any additional spells granted by class abilities – such as a sorcerer’s bloodline powers, or an oracle’s mysteries – would still be spells from the normal spell list.
We’d still use spell points per encounter and rounded spell-levels if we adopted Words of Powers. The mechanics of the system wouldn’t change, just the content of the individual class’s spell lists.
Be under no illusion: this would be a massive change to the way magic works in the game. Certainly in keeping with Iourn thematically, but a sharp right turn for those players who have instinctive casters as their characters.
Once we’ve made these last decisions, I’m going to consolidate the rules for the final time and then get them up on Iourn.com. I’m not planning on introducing any further house rules for third edition/Pathfinder. I wouldn’t like say that I’m done with the system, but I’m not sure there’s any thing else I want to fundamentally alter. What the future holds is converting third and fourth edition material in to the new rules. I’d like to see the warlock and the swordmage properly supported in the hybrid game.
Looking to the far future, I like a lot of what I’m reading regarding 5th edition – I am cautious, however, as I liked most of what I read about fourth 4th edition as well. I also envisage not running games set on Iourn as much as I have in the past decade. These hybrid rules that we’ve worked on for the last few years will become the system I use to run games on Iourn. However, I think I might just be adopting 5th edition for any new campaigns set outside that setting.