Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fast Blast Magic Idea

What if there were no spell levels? Every spell is level 1 and scales in power with the level of the caster, much like Magic Missile and Cure Light Wounds is handled in LotFP.


What if the "level 1" is scaled to the level the caster is when the spell is learned?

For example, if a caster learns Magic Missile at 1st level, when the caster is 5th level he casts MM at the 5th level of power.

If the caster learns Magic Missile at 5th level, it would still be cast as a first level spell. When the caster reaches 6th level, the MM would be cast at the 2nd level of power.

(a spell sheet would need to be done to keep track of relative power level...)


  1. 1-This is the GURPSy rationalistic way to do it and it is the way many modern games handle super powers (basically) and makes sense in a lot of ways

    2-However, this way does somewhat undercut the Vancian uniqueness of specific spells being specific things that can be referred to as received wisdom, like "Oh yeah, phantasmal force, we all know about that one".

    It's a taste thing.

  2. I would certainly like this approach as yet another step away from D&D. Old school frp games do not necessarily have to be clones.

  3. Then I'd learn "wish" at first level. Sure, I won't be able to cast it again for another 1d4 days, but at first level I only get one spell a day anyway so it'd be worth it.

    And imagine how munchkin I could get as my magic-user advances in levels and his "first level wish spell" gets more powerful ;D

    If you can learn any spell, why bother with magic missile - wouldn't you jump straight to fireball? And forget cure light wounds, go straight to cure serious...

  4. Sure, spells could be recorded like skills for easy level reference (e.g. Sleep [2]). I would probably want to let PCs specialize, so that, upon leveling up, instead of increasing all spells by one, they could choose not to raise a spell in favor of giving an extra increase to another spell (not going over character level). I'd also consider starting spells PCs find at level 0, so they have to put a "point" into the spell (i.e. representing study and practice) before being able to use the spell. (I would start their initial spells at level 1.)

  5. @Sir Timothy Of Kent It could be really interesting to see how a wish spell scales in this system. A low level wish may be like a mild form of luck. Also, a magic missile and a fireball could be comparable in this system or have differences of effect rather than differences of power. Another consideration is to employ a rarity factor to spells. Certain spells may not be available until found or acquired via special means.

  6. I think blinkdawg has it. This is like using a skill system to represent spells. I think it's interesting, but it does feel a bit complicated. Also, at level one the spell selection is likely to feel a little overwhelming, and at higher levels perhaps a bit stale. (Unless you are continually opening up new spells as the players progress, but if that is the case why not just stick to spell levels?)

  7. Why the complicator, though? Why not have the 5th level MU just learn magic-missile, and then be able to use it at 5th level ability? To keep track of the individual level of each spell sounds like a needless hassle.

  8. My preference would be something more akin to Tunnels & Trolls, where spell levels still exist (thus keeping Wish from being easily acquired) but where spells can be cast at levels higher than that at which they become available and gain specific benefits when that occurs.

    For example, if a magic-user knowing Magic Missile is capable of casting second level spells, he has the option of casting Magic Missile as a first level spell with the standard effects or as a second level spell, which might, for instance, result in a doubling of range, damage, and/or provide other effects.

  9. ... Or, even easier, the spells you know at 1st level are the *only* spells you know from school/training/apprenticeship. You can have a chance at learning a new spell from someone else's notes - like reading someone's class notes - but if you fail, you fail. You'll have to find a different explanation of how it works that maybe works for you... time to go back out into that ruined library to muck around.

    I'd take some of the pinnacle spells off the table, or emphasize the costs. Wish costs you *years* of your life, so a low-level caster who goes for it increases the die-size of the roll of years that get sucked away: 1st-level MU wish costs you 1d20+ years (maybe even 1d100) with the added stickiness of "no magic for that many years," perhaps.

    Powerful magics call for powerful costs.

  10. I don't know if this would fit the question you are posing but these house rules (for LL) could work with LotFP or other games inspired by 0e dnd.

  11. Well let's see at first level a fireball would do 1d6 damage with a blast radius of zero feet. At second 2d6 and 5 foot radius. At third 3d6 and 10 foot radius. Until at 5th level when the radius maxs out at 20 feet radius. Damage would continue to scale at 1d6 per level.

    Or something...

  12. I'm not a fan of the progression from when a spell was learned to replace progression in general casting. In LotFP fighter's don't progress in particular weapons, there is no weapon specialization. Fighters are just good at fighting. Are you planning on changing their progression with weapons too?

    With the proposed system, if a tenth level mage learns magic missile he'll spend years gaining the experience necessary to kill a zero level human with it. Meanwhile a mage who learns the same spell at first level will spend very little time in comparison levelling to second or even third. The problem with this model is old mages will not bother to learn new spells. They won't be motivated to acquire more powerful or more dangerous magics because they'll never progress far enough to make them effective.

    As it stands now mage's level is an expression of their ability to use magic. Their experience allows them to use every spell they have, or will eventually learn, more effectively. It may be over-simplified for some people, but it works. And under the current model, more experienced mages are motivated to seek out more dangerous and rare magics. They have a reason to prowl through dungeons and old wizard's towers.

    If I was going to play a mage where progression worked the way you are talking about, I'd probably create a co-op of three or four (or ten) mages. One would adventure while the others researched spells like crazy. They'd take turns adventuring with the party to get the cash needed for the others and so none of them would advance past third before they all had a buttload of spells that they would have shared with each other. Once I had all of them with all the spells I figured I needed, I could just adventure with one guy and advance him. It seems like a lot of hassle just to feel like you'll be able to contribute to a the party as it advances. It also smells like min-maxing to me, which just doesn't fit my take on LotFP.

    The positives of the new system is you can't gage a mage's power by the effect of his spells. He could cast a single magic missile one round and then a ten-dice fireball the next (I know there's no fireball in the spell list but it makes for a good example).

    Hmmm... this is a rather long post that boils down to: No, I don't like it. It's complicated and that is a massive departure from where LotFP looked like it was headed.