General Spellcasting

In addition to using skills for combat, we're now also using skills for spellcasting. Each school, subschool, domain, and subtype now has an associated Spellcasting skill, with additional skills for certain caster types (cleric, druid, paladin, etc), with the appropriate skills being in-class (ie clerics get Spellcasting(cleric) plus their two domains, but don't get any of the arcane schools, etc). Each spell now lists a Required Skill Ranks entry, and a Synergy Skill Ranks entry. Additionally, skill ranks are used for things like range, damage die, etc.

General rules: Conversion rules: Another possible suggestion from the 4th edition rules is to provide a means for spellcasters to prepare low level spells at will, using one of these variants: Possible optional rules:
  • Make memorization optional. Spells can be cast directly from a spellbook without preparing them ahead of time. You may only take 10 on a spellcasting check when casting prepared spells, not when casting directly from a spellbook.
Spells that should change:
  • Anti-magic shell - Just get rid of it.
  • Permanency - This should either be temporarily dispelled (as items are, perhaps for 1d4 minutes) or it should be possible to just recast the spell that was dispelled (without having to recast permanency and spend XP as well).
  • Teleport - Consider allowing specially prepared "teleport rooms" ala the Deryni series of books. When teleporting into a teleport room there is no chance of error, as long as the room has been examined by the caster or the caster has telepathically communicated with someone who has carefully examined the teleport room. Also consider changing the casting time of the spell to 2-3 rounds instead of a standard action.
  • Dimension Door - Similar to teleport, it seems like it might be better if it is a 1-2 round casting time, because that makes it a little harder to run away with the spell.
  • Mordenkainen's Disjunction - Possibly get rid of this spell. It at least requires a very high level caster, and there are other ways to get rid of magic objects at that level (sphere of destruction or whatever) without being quite so generally destructive.
This is the end of these rules, though older notes are included below.

Masic Specialization
Along the lines of giving more spell points to everyone, I'd like to change magic specialization to use skill points as well. Wizards would be expected to put most of their points into Spellcasting(Abjuration) and Spellcasting(Conjuration) and so on. Each spell would have a "required rank" to cast. For conversion's sake, existing spells require ranks equal to 1 + twice their spell level. So zero level spells now are rank 1 spells, 1st level are now rank 3, and so on. New spells could require any number of ranks, not just even numbers. Some wizards could choose to put points only into a few schools to make it easier to max out some or all of the remaining schools. The question is, should there also be spells (like there are weapons) that have two skills required? Like Fireball would be Evocation and Elemental Fire, or something? That would also allow there to be extra specializations, for people who wanted to focus on fire or ice damage. Things I've considered:
  • Add Spellcasting(fire) skill, one for each spell subtype. Normally not needed, but if a successful check DC 20 is made (or by some other criteria, such as having Spellcasting(fire) ranks greater or equal to the ranks in the other requisite skill such as Spellcasting(Evocation)) then those spells deal extra damage or have an increased effective caster level (so fireballs might deal one or two more dice of damage). If a subtype skill check fails, have the spell treated as if the effective caster level is decreased by the same amount. This would allow low level casters to try and improve their spells, but it wouldn't always be a good idea until they've spent a lot of time researching the requisite spellcasting skill.
  • Have wizards perform a spellcasting(fire) DC 25 check to spontaneously summon a burst of fire (or bolt of lightning etc), similar to the new Reserve Feats in Complete Mage. It deals 1/4 total skill bonus in d6s. (i.e. if the caster has a +15 bonus, it deals 3d6 points of fire damage.) Exactly what happens for each skill is outlined somewhere.
  • Or perhaps simply have some ability whose damage is related to those skills (such as having them deal damage equal to a skill check result DC 20, or maybe have it deal 1/3 rank worth of d6s).
  • Allow wizards with ranks in Spellcasting(some-school) to always cast any spells of levels 1/4 of their ranks for free, but as if their caster level was half their actual caster level (so you can throw 1/2 level fireballs all day if you are that powerful)
  • Get rid of "caster level" altogether. Replace it with skill bonus modifiers, like this:
    Required Ranks: Spellcasting(Transmutation) 13, Spellcasting(Destruction) 15
    Synergy: None
    Components: V,S,M/DF
    Casting Time: 1 standard action
    Range: Medium (100ft + 5ft/skill)
    Effect: Ray (single target)
    Duration: Instantaneous
    Saving Throw: Fortitude partial (object)
    Spell Resistance: yes

    ... Any creature struck by the ray takes 1d6 points of damage per point of skill bonus....
    This would also mean that instead of "effective caster level increase if there is a successful related DC 20 subtype skill check" in the above subtype skill description, we could change it to "+2 synergy bonus to related spells on a successful DC 20 subtype skill check".
  • Should we also enforce a requirement that no subtype skill can be trained above the highest trained school skill, or is that unnecessary?
That would mean that wizards had the following skills they really need to worry about:
  • Concentration
  • Knowledge(arcana)
  • Knowledge(any) - also class skills, but less vital
  • Spellcasting(Abjuration)
  • Spellcasting(Conjuration)
  • Spellcasting(Divination)
  • Spellcasting(Enchantment)
  • Spellcasting(Evocation)
  • Spellcasting(Illusion)
  • Spellcasting(Necromancy)
  • Spellcasting(Transmutation)
  • Note: Spells tagged with the "Universal" school can be cast using any of the above spellcasting skills, at the caster's option, and such spells are treated as if they were in the school of the skill used to cast them. Thus, Necromancers would normally cast the spells using Spellcasting(Necromancy), but against a foe that is immune to necromancy spells, they might choose to use Spellcasting(Enchantment) instead, if they have ranks in that.
  • Spellcasting(Fire)
  • Spellcasting(Cold)
  • Spellcasting(Sonic)
  • Spellcasting(Electric)
  • Spellcasting(Acid)
  • Spellcasting(Earth)
  • Spellcasting(Air)
  • Spellcasting(Water)
  • Spellcasting(Light)
  • Spellcasting(Darkness)
  • Spellcasting(Good)
  • Spellcasting(Evil)
  • Spellcasting(Chaos)
  • Spellcasting(Law)
  • Spellcasting(Polymorph)
  • Spellcasting(Force)
  • Spellcasting(Teleport)
  • Spellcasting(Mind-affecting)
  • Spellcraft - required to actually understand how spells work in general, as opposed to how a specific spell might work. Besides current usage, might also be needed for correct/full identification of items (maybe you can't figure out the command words without a spellcraft check).
You can see how such a large list of skills would begin to require specialization, at least a little. A non-specialized caster would slowly fall behind a specialized one in ranks, since they'd have to keep 8 schools (excluding the elemental stuff) more or less even, plus the 3 current skills maxed out. At first level, they're spreading 20 points to 8 skills. Each level after, they've only got 5 points for the 8 skills. So keeping them even, an fifth level PC has 5 ranks in each school (only just able to cast 2nd level spells), while a 4th level specialist has 7 ranks (equivalent to being able to cast 3rd level spells). A 12th level non-specialist can only cast 4th level spells, while a 12th level specialist can cast 7th level spells. That's a big difference. So big, that it might be necessary to give some other bonus to non-specialist casters.
    Uncertain options
  • Possibly, save DCs are also figured on this somehow, eg DC 10 + 1/4 spell rank + 1/4 lowest requisite skill rank. This allows higher skill wizards to have higher DC saves (not in current system) without making the DC too high (I hope).
  • How do we get spells per day and/or spells per level? This will have to be different from the current system as well. I can't think up a good way right now, but it should take into account sorcerers. It might also help if it worked as well for clerics also. Maybe something like 1 spell per day for every two ranks above the minimum needed to cast the spell, plus one. So for a 4th level specialist, they cast 1x 6-7 rank spell, 2x 4-5 rank spells, 3x 2-3 rank spells, and 4x 1 rank spells. That would work out very closely up to around 10th level.
  • Some bonus for non-specialists. Maybe it isn't needed, but it seems unfair that specialists will be able to easily reach 9th level equivalent spells by 16th character level. That might just be too fast. Perhaps it is necessary to have the spell level conversion be something more like 3+ twice their spell level. That would mean 9th level spells would be reached at 18th level, but it would also make extra trouble for non-specialsts, who could only cast 1st level spells at 5th level. Maybe people will just have to stop being generalists. Maybe if we do 2+ twice their spell level, we don't have to worry about it being too fast since the spell list is more limited. There may need to be some rebalancing work done on the spell schools.
  • Counterspelling - requires a Spellcraft DC 15+spellrank check to identify the school being cast, and an opposed spellcasting(school) check. On success, the spells energy was distrupted during casting. Counterspelling is normally a prepared action. Although we make it relatively easy for two specialists to counterspell each other, the limitation on schools and timing prevents this from being overused.
  • Determining spells per day. How do wizards prepare spells? By making a Spellcraft check, as the clerics do for Prayer? (see below) Or by making a spellcasting(whatever) check? What about Knowledge(arcana)? Or do we create a new skill for wizards to use to prepare spells? What about sorcerers? Do they make Knowledge(arcana) checks to learn new spells? I think the most sense is for wizards to use Spellcraft, and sorcerers to use Knowledge(arcana), but maybe not.
Divine Spells
Divine spells don't work quite the same way. For divine spells, there are only a few related skills:
  • Concentration
  • Knowledge(religion) - used as arcana is used for wizards?
  • Spellcasting(Cleric)
  • Spellcasting(Druid)
  • Spellcasting(Ranger)
  • Spellcasting(Air) - Domain skill
  • Spellcasting(Animal)
  • Spellcasting(Chaos)
  • Spellcasting(etc)
  • Prayer - There is now a DC 15+Spellrank check required for each spell that is prepared. See below to find out how this isn't annoying.
Some ideas for using these skills:
  • A cleric is granted any one domain (appropriate to their deity) as a class skill.
  • Additional domains (which are appropriate to their deity) can be trained as cross class skills.
  • No domain skill may be trained higher than the caster's Spellcasting(Cleric) skill.
  • Paladins do not need to exist, because they can be treated as fighters who cross class Spellcasting(Cleric) or clerics who cross class Fighting(Martial), etc.
  • A character may always use the easiest qualifying skill for the spell, so for example, a cleric with sufficient ranks in Spellcasting(Protection) can use the Spellcasting(Protection) rank of Antimagic Field (which is 13) instead of the Spellcasting(Cleric) rank (which is 17). This can be used for qualifying for the spell, praying for the spell, etc.
  • A character who fails a Prayer check must take a -2 penalty on all Prayer attempts for the next 24 hours. This is cumulative. They also may take 10 an additional time before suffering penalties (see below). That effect is also cumulative.
  • A character can take 10 on Prayer, but the second time a character takes 10, they suffer the same effects as if they had failed the check (-2 on attempts within 24 hours, may take 10 more times before suffering another penalty). This means a character can Take 10 2 times at full bonus, 3 times at -2, 4 times at -4, etc.
  • Example: A 11th level cleric with the Protection domain probably has a bonus of around +16 (which is 14+2), so they can prepare Antimagic Field (DC 28) with a roll of 12 or higher. They can't take 10 on this spell. They could prepare Atonement (Cleric rank 11, DC 26) by taking 10, and they could do so as often as 2 times per day. Then they could take 10 to prepare Freedom of Movement 3 times, and then take 10 to prepare Daylight 4 times, etc.
  • Note that once they start taking 10 to prepare, it becomes harder to prepare high level spells, but if they don't take 10 to prepare them, they run the risk of not being able to cast any other spells. Most adventuring clerics will take 10 to prepare most spells, as this ensures that they will be able to heal their party, but if they had a sudden need to cast as many Restoration spells as possible, they could try to roll for them.
  • Also note that the 11th level cleric could choose to not try for antimagic field, and could just take 10 on all spells. If he decides to try it and fails, he suffers the -2, so he can't take 10 on atonement, but he could continue taking 10 on Freedom of Movement three times, etc.
  • Consider a +2 synergy bonus to Prayer with sufficient Knowledge(religion), or consider allowing +1 times to take 10, etc.
  • Consider making the Heal skill something other than useless. Also would something more like Knowledge(healing) make more sense? It doesn't necessarily have to be very useful in most cases. Maybe it would be good if there was a mundane healing method, or a non-prepared-spell healing method, as "lay on hands" worked with paladins.