Energy-Based Magic System

By Shamus
on Sep 13, 2005
Filed under:
Tabletop Games

WARNING: The following rule-change is heresy to most D&D players. These changes are radical and will drive purists nuts. You’ve been warned.

This PvP strip pretty much sums up life as a low-level wizard in D&D.

I really hate the “prepare spells” system that D&D uses. The minor issue I have with it is the “materials required” for casting. This is a lot of needless paperwork and resource-gathering, and doesn’t really add anything fun to the game. Making the wizard actually carry around a huge list of goofy stuff like eye of newt and batwing and grave ash and all of the other ingredients seems silly. Wizards would look like hobos with their shopping cart / wagon full of random nasty things. I guess a lot of people just ignore this aspect of the rules, which makes sense to me. You can drop this from the game and it doesn’t change the balance or affect gameplay. It just eliminates a bunch of paperwork and shopping.

But the major problem is that you must prepare spells at the beginning of the day, without having any knowledge of what spells you may actually NEED during your adventure. What happens is players will stack their prepared list with combat spells. There is just no reason to prepare “whispering wind” instead of (say) flaming sphere. You’re about 100 times more likely to need the flaming sphere, and even if you suspect that the chances are roughly even, its way better to be without a whispering wind spell when you need it than to be without a flaming sphere when you need one. Not having a whispering wind might make a quest or task more difficult. Not having enough combat magic can get you killed.

So a lot of useful spells never get prepared. If you find you need one of the more esoteric spells, you spend the time (usually an hour or so, in-game) and prepare it. This is annoying and again, it doesn’t add anything to the game. If the situation doesn’t allow some spell prep time, you go without. A lot of the most interesting spells in the game get overlooked or underused, and casters end up using their magic mostly for combat instead of problem-solving.

The final issue is the constant paperwork of writing down and erasing spells over and over can make a mess of your prepared spells list on a busy day. Yuck. And more importantly: why?

So, I came up with an enrgy-based magic system more or less like what you would find in any computer-based RPG. I’m sure I’m not the first person to do this, but here is my system:

Spells use “energy” (or mana, whatever) which is replenished by resting. A full night of rest will replenish all of a character’s energy. The energy required to cast a spell is the spell level+1. So, level 0 spells take 1 point, level 1 spells take 2, etc. Players can cast any spell they know, provided they have enough energy. To determine a character’s max energy, use the chart below.

The net effect of this system is that a character will be able to cast far fewer spells per day, but will be able to cast any spell they know. The system is obvious, easy, and lets caster use their full library of spells.

Level Max Spell Level Base Energy (Ability Mod)
+0 +1 +2 +3 +4 +5
1 1 5 6 7 8 9 11
2 1 6 7 8 9 11 13
3 2 7 8 9 11 13 15
4 2 8 9 11 13 15 17
5 3 9 11 13 15 17 20
6 3 11 13 15 17 20 23
7 4 13 15 17 20 23 26
8 4 15 17 20 23 26 30
9 5 17 20 23 26 30 33
10 5 20 23 26 30 33 37
11 6 23 26 30 33 37 40
12 6 26 30 33 37 40 44
13 7 30 33 37 40 44 48
14 7 33 37 40 44 48 53
15 8 37 40 44 48 53 57
16 8 40 44 48 53 57 66
17 9 44 48 53 57 66 75
18 9 48 53 57 66 75 84
19 9 53 57 66 75 84 93
20 9 57 66 75 84 93 102

For ability mod, you use the attribute linked to the caster’s magic. For Clerics this is WIS, for wizards, you use INT, etc. So, a level 1 cleric with a wisdom of 13 (a +1 ability mod) would have a base energy of 6.

This system removes the major differences between Wizards and Sorcerers. In terms of combat they are now the same. Their differences are now amore a question of style, culture, and background.

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20201Feeling chatty? There are 41 comments.

From the Archives:

  1. DVS says:

    To solve the described problem, the fantasy setting and game-mechanics I used as the GM through college involved a totally new approach.

    The ability to use magic was divided into eight “spehres”: air, earth, water, fire, magic, light/dark, time/space, and living things. To use magic a percentile-based skill roll was needed, specific to the appropriate sphere.

    The skill roll had a modification based on the spell’s extent/intensity and its duration. The rules I wrote provided many examples, but the general guidelines went like this:

    – A small spell (-5 to die roll) affected a small amount of material or a small area, and did so in a minor way. In combat such effects were negligible.

    – A bigger spell (-10 to die roll) had notable extent or intensity but not both. In combat an effect this powerful is as significant as a successful blow or strategic positioning.

    – A more major spell (-25 to die roll) had notable extent and intensity. Spells this powerful can determine the outcome of a combat.

    – Really amazing spells (-50 to die roll) were breathtaking in extent, intensity, or both. Spells this powerful make combat look silly.

    – Spells could have an instantaneous effect (-0 to die roll), be the sole spell sustained by the caster’s concentration (-5 to die roll), last for one hour (-10 to die roll), one day (-25 to die roll), or be permanent (-50 to die roll).

    The total penalty to the die roll was called the “force” of a spell, and was noted for when other magic tried to influence the spell. Casting a spell was simply a matter of saying what you were attempting and then successfully making the percentile die roll. Obviously a character needed a VERY high percentile skill to attempt impressive or long-lasting magic, let alone to routinely succeed when pressed for time.

    Encumberance of what you carried also penalized magic skill die rolls.

    It was simple, worked well, and made magic use flexible and powerful yet appropriately limited.

  2. HC says:

    Interesting. The one problem I always had with mana-systems is that low-level spells rarely get used anymore.

    Probably the most interesting take on a revised DnD magic system I’ve seen is in Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed/Evolved. The short version is that you cast like a sorcerer, but can change the readied spell list at any point, given an hour or so. There is no separate divine or arcane magic (or even psionics), there is only magic. Distinct caster styles emerge because getting access to spells – outside a core group of ‘simple’ spells – requires taking feats (e.g. ‘fire mage’, ‘psion’).

    The spells themselves are remarkably flexible: each spell has a heightened and a diminished version – effectively allowing you to cast it with a slot one level higher or lower than normal. Sometimes, this just means a bigger boom, but often this makes a spell qualitatively different. An Eldritch Web is almost exactly the same as a Web spell, but a heightened EW shocks those trapped in it for 1d4 per round. A diminished EW covers just one 5 foot spread – which is all you want if you want to entangle a single person on a cluttered battlefield without catching your allies. And this doesn’t begin to get into the possibilities afforded by adding templates to spells. The upshot is that spellcasting becomes much more improvisational – and fun.

    Besides, because you can use any of your spell slots on any of your readied spells (even inefficiently converting slots up and down a level), and because each spell can be tailored to the situation in so many ways, a few combat spells can cover almost every situation desired… so mages of whatever stripe are free to carry the utility spells readied.

  3. Deoxy says:

    The problem with your system (as already pointed out) is that a 3rd level spell is generally QUITE a bit better than a 2nd level on, yt only takes 33% more resources.

    I put a system together (that I haven’t had a group to test on yet – sigh) that is exponential – each level costs twice as much as the level before. 0 level spells cost 1. Ninth level spells cost 512. You can cast any spll you can afford, and the progression is that you double SP (without bonuses, which help less and less as the levels rise) every 2 levels, so you still get 9th level spells at 17th level… but to cast one takes EVERYTHING you have. On the flip side, you could cast 256 Magic Missiles instead…

    Monte Cook’s system sounds interesting, too, but I haven’t gotten the book yet.

  4. titled says:

    I want to add some ideas

    Your system removes the major differences between Wizards and Sorcerers. You could also say that a sorcerer has more Mana but knows less spells.

    You can add spells or even monsters that drain Mana. A third level spell that drains 1d8 Mana would be fair. (maybe even 3d6 if it gives a will save and spell resistance).

    you can read another version of Mana at http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm

    maybe you could use the rules for psionic for spellcasters.

  5. TaliEaterOfWorlds says:

    You don’t really HAVE to prepare spells in the morning. You have to prepare them after resting 8 hours if you rest 8 hours, head out without spells prepared, find that you need a spell THEN you could spend an hour to prepare your spells including that one you need. This is also why wizards receive scribe scroll at 1st level, it allows them to make all these helpful spells accessible without wasting your spell slots.

  6. Lorangriel says:

    We still use preparation of spells in our group, but deal with the problem you mention by allowing spellcasters to switch out prepared spells at a cost of 10 minutes per spell level. So, while it would not help if the party was in immediate need, most of the more esoteric spells could still have their utility and it preserves the difference between mages and sorcerers.

  7. Omnus says:

    Eh. It’s another convention of the game made for play balance. It’s also probably one of the things most altered with house rules. Never bothered me much, it just forced the player to plan ahead, while giving him much more flexability than his sorcerer counterpart. After all, a wizard, for example, never thinks trwice about learning the spell fly, but a sorcerer has to consider that that’s one attack spell he’ll never learn. I’ve always liked wizards, and if you want a treatise on how it flows in a “realistic” way, Raistlin’s experiences with magic in, most especially, the Chronicles series of Dragonlance works fine for me.

  8. Xenovore says:

    I highly recommend Rolemaster’s Spell Law. This is a power-based system that is extremely flexible and easily integrated into other systems.

    And I’m going to evangelize a bit here and recommend that y’all throw out the *entire* D&D system, but hey, just personal opinion there. =P

  9. michael says:

    an energy-based system has always seemed a lot more fun to me, but it would take too much playtesting and adjustments to balance the numbers right.

    I like just having the simple option to forego memorising two of your daily spell slots to take a “free slot” which can be decided on the fly. This normally lets a wizard bulk out on combat spells but have the option for whatever strange utility spell necessary when the situation arises.

  10. bruce says:

    I’ve always toyed with the idea of a magic system that was more than just a list of spells. Something along the lines of what was listed above like based around elements (Earth, Fire, Water, Air, Light, Dark) with each area of magic having it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Also breaking magic down into functions like create, destroy, enlarge, decrease, shape, move, animate, etc. For example a fireball spell would require create fire and move or animate fire. If an existing fire was already there, you wouldn’t need the create part, maybe just enlarge, move or animate.

    I also wanted Magic to be more personal in that when you throw a fireball, you decide how it looks (a flaming skull, a burning spear, etc). Same effect, but different description. The energy for the spells would initially come from your hit points, with the option of losing stats as well.

    As for components, in my idea, these are required to let you cast higher level spells. In theory, a novice wizard could attempt to cast any spell, however he would need more components, use up more energy, take much longer to do it and have a pretty good chance of messing it up. As a wizard advances up the levels, the lower level spells should become easier to cast and take less energy.

    All just idea’s though. Perhaps when I win the lottery or retire, I can devote more time to working out the mechanics.

  11. Rizzo says:

    This smells of 2.5ed rules if I remember correctly…*shiver*

    I never saw a problem with having to memorize spells. Then again, I rarely play with groups that have a wizard rather than a sorcerer.

    As far as spell componants, I know that 3e assumed your spell pouch carried all mundane materials needed for the spells you know. Did 3.5 change that?

  12. Ashewyntr says:

    I have always admired the Ars Magica magic system, which simply gave out mods and let the player define effects, total the effect mods and you have your skill difficulty. You could add in extra stuff like material components, rituals, life energy, etc to make casting the spell easier. The only problem with Ars Magica is it’s a game about mages – all other classes are so insignificant they are relegated to cohorts.

    Along those lines, I came across Elements of Magic from Natural 20 Press, which attempts to create dynamic magic system for D20. I highly recommend it.

  13. Aaron (random fan) says:

    As far as spell components go, my group and I do this: You buy spell reagent pouches, each containing ingredients for spells. Lesser versions can only supply lower level spells, and usually, the pouches for the higher level ones are harder to find. Each belt has a ‘charge’. Every time you cast a spell that has a material component, you use up a charge.

    For example, lesser component belts might supply 25 charges of 3rd level or lower spells, would be fairly available, and wouldn’t cost much.

    Expanded, greater component belts might supply 50 charges of any spell that requires a material component, but would be quite rare.

  14. feydras says:

    I used to spend a lot of time struggling to house rule fixes for annoying things about D&D until a friend twisted my arm and got me to play in his fantasy GURPS game. Now i run GURPS. It’s spell system is far more flexible and is powered by caster fatigue. GURPS also has hit locations and armor as damage reduction. Most of GURPS is modular so you can ignore the complex stuff if you want. Spoiled me for D&D.

  15. onepointbless says:

    Further on the Spell component reagent tip:

    Skilled alchemists “could” make generic pouches – capable of being used for any spell at any appropriate level.

    I’ve also seen games were components were few and far between and their use was tactically managed in each and every combat- thankfully ACs were perilously low.

  16. CyberGorth says:

    Eh, I dunno if it’s such a good thing that it essentially turns Wizzies and Sorcerers into the same class. But that could just be the purist in me talking. Never cared much for the spell-jockies anyway. What I really disagree with about this system is how it removes the difference between Arcane and Divine magic. I like the way the system for Clerics works now becuase, even though they do need to use some thought in chosing their spells, they’ve still got the fallback option of spontaneously swapping whatever they’ve prepped for a cure spell (which is their main role anyways). Maybe a system switch to give wizards that kind of option would be a better way to go about it. Let them all choose a specialist school with no penalty or bonus other than they can swap any spell they’ve prepped for an equal level spell from the chosen school. Granted, this’d probably lead to a hell of a lot more Evokers and would require some more bookwork but I like the flavor of it a little better.

  17. Andrew says:

    Shamus, your commenter “titled” already linked to official variants from WoTC — they’re also used in Unearthed Arcana, along with another variant relating to regaining your slight energy pool at any time of day. Unearthed Arcana has some pretty nice sections for dealing with poorly-balanced or underutilized parts of the game, and for generally rethinking the assumptions of the system. I bought it for my internal munchkin, but I keep rereading it for its philosophy.

  18. Miako says:

    As much as I like Mentalism…

    I’d rather be a Wild Mage. Wanna spell? Cast a spell. Good luck on what rolls up! (Seventh level firestorm, or mega healing spell? Who cares?).

    … wild mages can be disasterously bad for campaigns. You Have Been Warned.

  19. TheJoeSword says:

    Interesting system! I made one that was like that, but I treated wizards and sorcerors a little differently. I stated the rule that sorcerors (who are naturally self taught) had to choose their spells at each level up and they were stuck with them. However, they had double the amount of mana that a wizard had. On the other hand, the wizard would be able to switch out his “ready” spells at the beginning of each day.

  20. Joshua says:

    As for having a good selection of battle magic, yes this is important, but a good ammount of fore thought would suggest that you scroll your whispering wind on a day you’re in the city and in a situation that you’re not going to be threatened for some time!

  21. J-rahm says:

    Back when I was playing 1st edition (i.e. before Sorcerors), we used a pretty interesting system: wizards had spellbooks, as normal, but gained 1 spellpoint (SP) per level cumulative – and spells took their level squared in points. No bonus for high ability scores, that was used to learn spells and affected your total number you could know. Thus:
    Wiz 1 had 1 SP
    Wiz 10 had 55 SP
    A first level spell took 1 SP
    A fifth level spell took 25 SP

    It works out to fewer high-level spells than a Sorceror, but a bigger spell-list and nigh-unlimited low-level spells at lower level. Would you rather cast a Cone of Cold, or 25 Magic Missiles? Depends on the situation…

    Two other benefits: you still have to search for spells (the only spells in your spellbook are what you started with and what you find – scrolls are great treasure, and that enemy mage? You know the party wizard is going to be gunning for him…) And if you run out of SP, you can keep casting spells – 2 hit points per spell point though.

    We had a mage lose control of his Elemental, and have to Dismiss it, though he only had 10 SP left. The other 15 SP meant 30 HP of damage! He cast it, succeeded, said “Oh good!” and fainted at -7 HP.

    I tend to play 3.5 straight up though. If you want casting flexibility, take Sorceror – if you want spell flexibility, take Wizard. But I just finished a couple years playing with people who’d change the rules just to change things, with little rhyme or reason…

    Good to hear about the GURPS though. That’s what we’re going to start trying out this weekend. I like the ‘Impromptu Magic’ section.

  22. J-rahm says:

    Oops. One other thing with our system: you recover 10% of total spellpoints (round down, of course) per hour of sleep, and you can’t recover SP while you have HP damage from casting.

    Thus a wizard who spent all his points is exhausted and needs 10 hours of sleep!

    And a wizard with no access to healing is really loath to spend HP casting…

  23. Rob says:

    They messed with their archives since 2005 apparently. ;)
    New link:
    http://www.pvponline.com/article/359/Tue-Nov-09?y=1999

  24. Solka says:

    You should check out Warhammer Fantasy Role Playing (WFRP)’s magic system. It’s everything I always wanted about magic in roleplaying.

    1) Magic is thematic. You have 8 Lores, and each one of them is linked to a general idea, but not always literally. The Lore of Fire, for example, is used both for firing fireballs and inspiring courage.

    A magicien is influenced by it’s lore, and it HAS to influence the roleplay. A Fire Magister becomes blazing, a little reckless, and feels utterly miserable in rain.

    2) Magic is unlimited. Yup, a Wizard can cast as much spell as he wants per day. When he chooses his chosen Lore, he gets to know EVERY spells of that Lore right away.

    The problem is, he has to roll a “Magic Test” every time he casts something. He rolls a number of dice equal to it’s magic characteristic (1 to 4), and has to equal the casting number of the chosen spell. If he fails, he fails.

    3) Magic is uncertain.

    I despise D&D’s interaction with magic, where it ALWAYS work (except in chaotic magic environnement, but let’s not get into that). In Warhammer, Magic is inherently Chaotic. It’s unsure, it corrupts it’s user. It can fire back. Sure, it’s POWERFUL, but sometime, it’s better for the wizard to pick up his sword than risk blasting himself.

    4) Magic is DANGEROUS. Both for the target, and the caster.

    When someone casts a spell, he has to roll the dices (d10s). If he only rolls 1, he can gain a point of insanity. If he rolls doubles, something wrong happens (they call it a “chaos manifestation”). If he rolls triples, something even worse.. and if he rolls quadruples..

    To be said, manipulating magic is dangerous in that world. Playing a wizard is fun, ’cause you weild a great power. But you have to play responsible with that power, or your char won’T last long.

    I just LOOOOVE it. That’s the way a true wizard should always be played!

  25. FlameKiller says:

    Shamus
    what you are proposing sounds eirily like WoW.
    im not complaining!
    the concept is great! the wizard saves money. still gets his spells. levels up faster and can get better spells quicker.
    the whole party benifits by having a good wizard and the DM can give them tougher foes more quickly.

    the wizards moto: when in doubt, FIREBALL EVERYTHING!!!!HAHAHA!!!

  26. Barnes says:

    My group ahs come up with a rather fun way of avoiding this.
    Instead of having spells cost set amounts of mana the player chooses how much mana he is going to put into the spell. Also mana tends to really low e.g. a level 20 mage may have 50 spell points but they can also use their health. So we have had several cinematic moments where the chips have been down and the entire party has been whaled on by a powerful enemy then the mage has stood up and put all but one HP into a single spell and vanquished the enemy then ended up in a coma for a month. Very cool and dramatic. And it means that the magic is a crazy gambit because there has been times when the enemy survived the spell and then the mage is useless so instead of teleorting out they’ve had to leg it with the mage draped iver the warriors shoulders.

    • loqk says:

      thanks, i’m looking for exactly this sort of hp based or enhanced magic. if you can’t die dramatically while saving the party, or, perhaps, even burning yourself to a cinder (using your 0 to -10 dead dead hp), then, it’s not nearly as much fun :-)

      the downsides to magic removed in the change from 2nd ed to 3rd ed is really what broke so many spells.

      for magic to be truly powerful, it needs the chance to destroy the caster.

  27. Cthulhu says:

    Xenovore is right: Rolemaster for the win.
    Or HARP, which has a great magic system, but would have to be messed with to resolve the serious balance issues. Great ideas, poor implementation.
    God willing they’ll remove prepared spellcasting from fourth ed D&D. It’s nothing but a silly, contrived means of covering up balance issues anyway.

  28. Freggle says:

    I was also thinking about this problem, but making a system with mana removes the difference between soceror and wizard, which I do like. Preparing spells is essential to the idea of the wizard, but indeed makes it useless to prepare the uncommon spells. So how about a prepare system, in with there is still flexability:
    Lets divide the spells into groups, how about spell schools, and assingn spell slots to a group instead of one spell. You get the same amount of spells (per day) but you now have a broader choice for which one to cast. You still have to think carefully about which group/school to prepare, and can base that on what ‘landscape’ you are in.
    This will very likely stimulate the use of uncommon spells, but perhaps it overpowers the wizard a little bit now.

    I think this is an issue in all the changes I saw proposed here. Wizards tend to be quite underpowered at low levels (look at the Cat vs. Wizard debate elsewhere on this site), but more overpowered at high levels, where they easilly beat a small group of fighters their own level. With any system that increases their flexability this will only give them more power. That could be countered by reducing their spells per day (SPD), but I dont like that idea too much, cause wizards already dont get much SPD.

    I always find the magic system to be quite complicated, with the 8 spell schools, spellslots and its unflexability.
    Like specializing in magic school gives prohibations on other school, but this is not a closed system; some schools are never prohibited and others for two schools.

    So I’m thinking of divising my own magic system based on the 4 classical elements. Red-Fire, Green-Earth, Blue-Water and White-Air. With stricly opposing elements; Red(F) vs Blue(W) and Green(E) vs White(A). Spells would cost slots from one or more elements, based on their use of energy and power.
    I’ve got lots of ideas about it, but thats something for another time. I will first have to find a gaming group to try it out with, and test some things. Perhaps someone here has similar ideas?

  29. Oldwargamer says:

    Boy, does this take me back in time. Back to the early 70s and the birth of D&D. Players in our group of five were always looking for a better (or more realistic?) way to handle magic. I think every player came up with at least one or more set of rules at one time or another. I had a now lost system tied to the caster’s Intel,Con and Level.
    Other players came up with points/energy/mana variants.
    It does my heart good to see that today’s players are still looking for that better way.

  30. Anonymous Bosch says:

    Instead of spell preparation, I always just told players that you didn’t need to decide what spells at the beginning of each day. Instead, you had (for example), 4 first-level spells, 2 second-level spells, and one fifth-level spell, and when it came time to use them you could decide on whatever you wanted among the spells you knew. This had the advantage of being simpler (no need to keep track of which spells you have available vs. which ones you ‘know’), more useful (when the only tool you have is a flaming hammer, everything looks like a Nail of Ice), and less frustrating (you memorized fireball instead of lightning bolt, and now you’re faced with an enemy that resists fire? tough luck!).

    One player did object on the grounds that the system is a little bit unrealistic. He had a point, in that it doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense for someone to be “out” of second level spells, but not first or third level spells, but you have to suspend judgement at some point to believe in magic anyway.

    I addressed game balance issues by greatly restricting the availability of new spells to players. Except for state-approved spell casters, most advanced spells were illegal to teach or use as a result of a big war in which magic killed a lot of people, and that went for Clerics and Druids too. You wouldn’t believe how happy the sixth-level wizard will be when he is finally able to learn fireball!

  31. Chrysagon Dailacrue says:

    I am not a purist by any stretch of the imagination and of course respect anyones right to alter their game to suit their playing style but I did have a couple of questions.

    1) How do you deal with meta-magic feats and the affect they have on spells?

    2) If the sorcerer is still basically the same, how do you justify his lack of spells known vs. the wizard’s?

    I ask because the information you give here, if complete, would be horribly unbalanced in the case of the sorcerer and wizard.

  32. John says:

    I always hated the spell preparation thing, too. It just didn’t make sense in terms of “realism.” I know, suspension of disbelief for magic and all that, but forgetting a spell after you cast it just seems stupid. So I came up with an alternate method, too, but I never got to play test it (and this was back in the days of 2nd edition; I’m just now getting back into it with 3.5). Basically, level of spell=spell point cost, and spell points=number of spells x spell level. So, say that “by the rules” a magic-user could cast four level 1 spells and two level 2 spells. Converting to my untested system would give him 8 spell points, therefore he could cast 4 level 2 spells or 8 level 1 spells or any 8-pt. combination thereof (within his level capability, of course). Spells that are on a sliding-scale-by-level, such as magic missile or fireball, could be cast at whatever level the caster was capable of casting, so a high level MU could cast a bunch of level 1 magic missiles or one high level magic missile. Like I said, I never got to test this style, and with the introduction 0-level spells, it would have to be amended somewhat, but does anyone see a problem with this method?

  33. Anon says:

    I’m a fan of D20 modern and since they lack a basic spellcaster class (mage/acolyte is an advanced class) I’ve written written up a selection of feats to replicate those classes with a mana/energy system.

    For most spellcasters mana is gathered from the surrounding environment (mage and druid), or recieved while preparing spells (cleric/paladin), two types of spellcasters don’t have any magic gathering ability (sorceror and shaman) which means they must either have another spellcasting ability (they’re all epic feats and cost experience points if taken before 21st level) or have taken Blood Lycans/Dragons feats that give them personal mana-pools that recharge over time (taking both Blood-mana feats does not double the mana regeneration).

    Shamans are similar to cleric in that they cast spells from the clerical domains, except shamans are limited to four elemental domains and must prepare spells, where clerics have ten domains to play around with and specialise, but they have to pray for their spells (D% roll to see if the spell is granted, spell level and modifications decrease chances of getting the spell, spending more time praying for that one spell increases the chances of getting it).

    Preparing spells is also different, each spell takes an amount of time equal to the base level plus metamagic modifiers (in minutes). Spellcasters that prepare their spells can keep a limited number of spells in memory until they are cast and any prepared spell can be discarded as a free action to make room for a different spell.

    Clerics are granted metamagic and mana points with their spells and require no feats to use metamagic. (they also get turn/rebuke undead/humans abilities)

    The soceror is the only class that doesn’t have to prepare their spells.

    I’m also toying with the idea of a caster taking non-lethal ‘stamina’ damage when a spell is cast (the more powerful the spell the greater the damage). It’s worthy of noting that my stamina system results in very low HP totals, with stamina acting as a slight damage buffer against being one-hit killed (any strenuous actions drains stamina points, including defense reactions).

    ===
    The house rules are all very complicated, but I find they’re a spot more realistic (read: deadly) than the standard rules, and I’m still working on streamlining the sub-system (yes, it used to be more complicated).

  34. […] of players just find impossible to deal with. A lot of people write their own little patches to fix these up, others have house-rules like “No one is allowed to grapple anyone else” (when I […]

  35. bosch says:

    just wondering what everyone thought of the D&D type MORPGs that have been based on D&D. since most games are not turn based i guess it’s not the same but there are a few like final fantasy online.

  36. DungeonHamster says:

    As previously mentioned, intelligent use of the Scribe Scroll feat and a couple wands of useful spells can more or less take care of the problem. Last time I played a wizard I just made scrolls of all the spells I thought might come in handy obut weren’t worth preparing every day.

    That said, I normally play Psions. The flexibility of the power point system is a beautiful thing. One of these days I might get around to drawing up versions of wizard and sorcerer that are essentially arcane versions of psion and wilder, respectively. The prepared spell system works as far as game balance goes (alhtough, yes, it does require a good deal of day to day planning ahead), but it gets to be a bit of a hassle and time sink when the game could be progressing and everybody having more fun.

    Furthermore, the wilder is much more competent at physical combat than a psion, and the sacrifice spell versatility (wilders only learn 12 powers over the course of 20 levels, but get the same amount of powerpoints as a psion) for better standard combat prowess seems to more easily reflect the instinctive and chaotic nature of sorcerous power; after all, if sorcerers’s power comes naturally and they don’t have to study, they’d have more time for other things.

  37. Low-Level DM says:

    Shamus, someone else may have pointed it out, but the link at the top of the page is broken… unless of course life as a Wizard is not finding the page you were looking for, which may just be a parody that has passed me by completely.

    That said, I like the energy-system, and I think I’ll definitely pirate some of your ideas for my own.

  38. Bryan says:

    The link to the PvP strip isn’t working, could you post another link? I am just curious to see what the strip is actually like.

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