Author Topic: My spellcasting house-rules  (Read 3961 times)

Offline RobbyPants

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My spellcasting house-rules
« on: November 09, 2011, 10:46:24 AM »
Note: These rules are meant to be used in combination with my other house rules.



I've been working on a large set of house rules, mostly to help bridge the gap between casters and non-casters a bit. This section is just the spellcasting portion. Most of what I was trying to accomplish here was:
  • Make blasting more worth while, compared to the other options.
  • Make things a bit easier a low levels (unlimited 0-level spells and improved 0-level blasting).
  • Address several problem spells (a lot still need to be covered, like Similacrum, for example. If you notice any and/or have suggestions, please, let me know!).
Also, note that part of the houserules I haven't posted involve casters knowing fewer spells and having more restrictions on what they can and cannot learn. That being said, don't expect these rules in this thread to fix all of that. This thread is primarly to make blasting feel a bit more worth while, hopfeully without shooting the moon.

So, tell me what you think. Is the idea good? Do you have any suggestions?



Types of spells

Direct Damage:
Direct Damage spells are spells that deal hit point damage.

Evocation spells do extra damage.
  • Each spell deals an amount of extra damage dice equal to the spell’s level. Increase the maximum damage dice by this amount as well. If the spell is capable of making multiple attacks, each target only takes this extra damage once. For example: A 1st level Magic Missile would deal 2d4+1 damage (base 1d4+1 plus one extra die, a d4). At 3rd level, two missiles targeting one creature would deal 3d4+2 (base 2d4+2 plus 1d4, only applied once). Instead, the missiles could be split among two targets for 2d4+1 each (adding the 1d4 bonus damage to each target). A Fireball at level 5 would deal 8d6 damage (base 5d6 plus three bonus dice), and the spell would cap at 13d6 at 10th level.
  • If the spell deals continual damage over several rounds, such as Wall of Fire, Flaming Sphere, or Fire Shield, the extra damage dice are equal to half the spell’s level (round down), and each creature can be affected by these dice more than once, but only once per round. For example: Wall of Fire would deal an extra two damage dice to people near or crossing through the wall, but only once per creature per round.
All direct damage spells (including non-evocation) also have an additional effect based on the type of damage. Spells with multiple types of damage gain effects for each damage type. The additional effect only takes affect if the target suffers damage from the spell. All penalties overlap and do not stack. Unless otherwise noted, the effect lasts for one hour, or until the target receives magical healing (even if it is not enough to heal all the damage inflicted by the spell). If the target is suffering from multiple effects, magical healing removes all of them. Each effect is triggered by a saving throw. If the spell already allows that saving throw, use the spell's original saving throw. If not, both must be rolled (for example, a Fireball would use a single Reflex save both to half the damage and to avoid being caught on fire. A Cone of Cold would allow a Reflex save to halve the damage and a Fortitude save to avoid the Strength penalty).
  • Acid: The target must succeed on a Fortitude save or take a penalty to Armor Class equal to the spell’s level. The AC penalty cannot exceed the sum of the target's Armor, Shield, and Natural AC bonuses. Any penalty to the armor or shield bonus is removed either after one hour or after a successful Craft check (equal to the spell’s DC), taking one minute.
  • Cold: The target must succeed on a Fortitude save or take a penalty to Strength equal to the spell’s level. This cannot reduce the creature’s Strength below 1.
  • Electricity: The target must succeed on a Fortitude save or take a penalty to Dexterity equal to the spell’s level. This cannot reduce the creature’s Dexterity below 1.
  • Fire: The target must succeed on a Reflex save or catch fire, suffering a number of d6 dice of damage equal to the spell’s level. This lasts one round per the spell’s level, or until the fire is extinguished (taking a full-round action).
  • Force: These effects can target and destroy other [Force] effects, even if the spell normally only targets creatures. Unless otherwise noted, [Force] effects have a number of hit points equal to ten times the spell’s level plus the caster’s caster level. The exception to this is that a [Force] spell cannot target an effect that normally negates or blocks it, such as Magic Missile targeting Shield.
  • Sonic: The target must succeed on a Fortitude save or be deafened and suffer a penalty to Concentration checks equal to the spell’s level.
Save or Die:
A save or die spell is a spell that directly kills one or more creatures, typically allowing a saving throw, although some kill in other means (such as automatically with Cloud Kill against targets with few enough Hit Dice).

The casting time on all of these spells increases to one full round (not a full-round action), meaning that the casting completes immediately at the beginning of the caster's next turn.


Calling and Summoning spells:
Creatures called or summoned cannot be forced to use any spells or spell-like abilities of a level higher than the calling or summoning spell's cost. They may still use these abilities on their own behalf, but not while being compelled by the caster.


Unlimited 0-level spells:
All 0-level spells may be cast at will, without using a spell slot.


Touch spells and willing targets:
When casting a spell with a range or touch on willing targets, the caster may target any number of willing creatures he can reach from his current location in one casting. For example: a medium-sized cleric would be able to cast Cure Light Wounds or Bull's Strength on any willing targets within five feet of him with one spell slot. A large-sized cleric would be able to cast these spells on anyone within ten feet of him.



New School Assignments

Some spells now belong to a new school or share schools.

Wall spells:
All wall spells are dual-schooled with Abjuration.

Conjuration (Healing) spells:
All Conjuration (Healing) spells are now Necromancy (Healing).

Force spells:
All [Force] spells are now dual-schooled with Evocation.

« Last Edit: September 06, 2017, 08:05:16 AM by RobbyPants »
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Offline RobbyPants

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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #1 on: November 09, 2011, 10:46:59 AM »
Modified Spells

Acid Arrow:
As normal, except increase the damage to 2d8.

Acid Fog:
As normal except all inside the fog may roll a Reflex save while attempting to move. On a successful save, the creature may move at half its normal speed. On a failed save, its speed is reduced to five feet for that round. In either case, the creature may double move as a full-round action, but is unable to charge, run, or sprint while inside the fog.

Acid Splash:
As normal, except the spell deals 1d4 damage per odd caster level (capped at 5d4 at 9th level).

Alter Self:
Per the PHB, except any bonus to Armor Class or skills are capped at +1 for every three caster levels, maximum +5 at 15th level. Any increase to your movement speed is capped at +10' per three caster levels, to a maximum of +50' at 15th level. So if a 6th level caster with a base speed of 30 cast Alter Self, he could not gain more than +2 points of natural armor, a +2 racial bonus to any skill, and a movement speed higher than 50' (base 30' + 20') for any mode of movement.

Awaken:
The target animal must have an Intelligence of 2 or less to be targeted by this spell.

Bull's Strength (Bear's Endurance, Cat's Grace, Eagle's Splendor, Fox's Cunning, and Owl's Wisdom):
Increase the duration to 10 minutes per caster level.

Cure Critical Wounds:
Heals 4d8 + 4 points per caster level or hit die of the recipient, whichever is greater (no cap).

Cure Light Wounds:
Heals 1d8 + 1 point per caster level or hit die of the recipient, whichever is greater (no cap).

Cure Light Wounds, Mass (and related spells):
Heals the normal amount of the single-target version of the spell, but to medium range (100' + 10 per caster level). Any targets withing a 20' radius can be healed (or harmed if undead).

Cure Minor Wounds:
As normal, except it cannot heal the target to more than half its maximum hit points. It has no effect on a creature with half or more if its maximum hit points.

Cure Moderate Wounds:
Heals 2d8 + 2 points per caster level or hit die of the recipient, whichever is greater (no cap).

Cure Serious Wounds:
Heals 3d8 + 3 points per caster level or hit die of the recipient, whichever is greater (no cap).

Disintegrate:
On a failed save, the target is killed and disintegrated instead of taking 2d6 damage per caster level.

Disrupt Undead:
As normal, except the spell deals 1d10 points of damage per odd caster level (capped at 5d10 at 9th level).

Divine Power:
You gain a +4 Enhancement bonus to Strength and Constitution and a +4 sacred (or profane) bonus to Armor Class for 10 minutes per caster level.

Electric Jolt
As normal, except the spell deals 1d6 damage per odd caster level (capped at 5d6 at 9th level).

Entangle:
As normal, except the Strength and Escape Artist DC to break out is equal to the spell’s Reflex save DC.

Gate:
As normal, except when using the Calling version, you cannot compel a creature with a Challenge Rating greater than your caster level – 2 to come through the gate or control them. You can control a called creature with a Challenge Rating two or lower than your caster level.

Glitterdust:
As normal, except on a failed Will save, the creature is only blinded for one round. For the remainder of the duration, their attacks suffer a 20% miss chance due to concealment.

Ice Storm:
Increase damage to 1d6 per caster level, capped at 10d6. One half of the damage dice (round down) deal cold damage, and the rest deal bludgeoning damage.

Inflict Critical Wounds:
Heals 4d8 + 4 points per caster level or hit die of the recipient, whichever is greater (no cap).

Inflict Light Wounds:
Heals 1d8 + 1 point per caster level or hit die of the recipient, whichever is greater (no cap).

Inflict Light Wounds, Mass (and related spells):
Heals the normal amount of the single-target version of the spell, but to medium range (100' + 10 per caster level). Any targets withing a 20' radius can be healed (or harmed if living).

Inflict Minor Wounds:
As normal, except it cannot heal the target to more than half its maximum hit points. It has no effect on a creature with half or more if its maximum hit points.

Inflict Moderate Wounds:
Heals 2d8 + 2 points per caster level or hit die of the recipient, whichever is greater (no cap).

Inflict Serious Wounds:
Heals 3d8 + 3 points per caster level or hit die of the recipient, whichever is greater (no cap).

Polar Ray:
Increase range to Long. In addition to taking damage, the target must succeed on a Fortitude save or be paralyzed a number of rounds equal to your caster level. The target is not paralyzed if they suffer no damage from the spell.

Polymorph:
Removed. Use the Animorph and similar spells described below in New Spells (credit to Rich Burlew for these spells).

Ray of Frost:
As normal, except the spell deals 1d6 damage per odd caster level (capped at 5d6 at 9th level).

Shapechange:
Removed. Use the Infinimorph spell described below in New Spells (credit to Rich Burlew for these spells).

Solid Fog:
As normal except all inside the fog may roll a Reflex save while attempting to move. On a successful save, the creature may move at half its normal speed. On a failed save, its speed is reduced to five feet for that round. In either case, the creature may double move as a full-round action, but is unable to charge, run, or sprint while inside the fog.

Sonic Snap
As normal, except the spell deals 1d3 damage per odd caster level (capped at 5d3 at 9th level). The Will save is replaced with a Fort save, both to negate the deafening effect, and to half the damage.

Teleport:
As normal, except that you may only teleport to an area that you have attuned. Attuning an area requires ten minutes of concentration. You may only have two such areas attuned at a time. If you attune another while you already have two attuned, you must lose focus on one of your two areas (your choice). You must physically be at the area to attune it. At a minimum, an attuned area counts as “studied carefully” for purposes of determining if the spell is on target.

Teleport, Greater:
As normal, except you may only teleport to an area you have attuned (see Teleport above). You may attune five areas at a time instead of two.

Time Stop:
The casting time is an immediate action, and the spell lets you immediately take your turn. Your initiative count is changed to the current count. You cannot cast Time Stop during the turn gained via another Time Stop.


New Spells

Animorph *
Transmutation (Polymorph)
(Druid 4, Sor/Wiz 4)
You transform the target into the shape of an animal, granting it the Polymorphed template (see Rich's post at GitP) for the duration of the spell. This replaces any existing Polymorphed template the creature may have had. The assumed shape must be the most common form of any creature of the Animal or Magical Beast type, subject to the following restrictions:
  • The total Hit Dice of the creature must be equal to or lower than your caster level.
  • The size of the creature can be no larger than one size greater than the target, and no smaller than Fine.
  • The creature cannot be one with a template.
  • The creature cannot have the Swarm subtype.
  • The creature may be the adult form of the creature or any younger form.
  • You must be familiar with the kind of creature chosen. The details of what constitutes "familiarity" are left up to the DM, though encountering the creature of that kind in the flesh certainly qualifies.
  • You are free to designate the cosmetic appearance of the assumed shape, choosing the hair color, hair texture, eye color, height, and weight, within the normal range for creatures of that kind. If the base creature possessed the Shapechanger subtype before gaining the Polymorphed template, they may revert to their original form (that is, lose the Polymorphed template altogether) as a standard action. If slain, the subject reverts to their original form.
This spell dispels animal growth, enlarge person, and reduce person if the target is affected by these spells.

Anthromorph *
Transmutation (Polymorph)
(Bard 5, Sor/Wiz 4)
This spell functions as Animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Fey, Humanoid, Giant, or Monstrous Humanoid type.

Aeromorph/Geomorph/Hydromorph/Pyromorph *
Transmutation (Polymorph)
(Aero 5, Druid 7, Geo 5, Hydro 5, Pyro 5, Sor/Wiz 5)
This spell functions as Animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Elemental type, or of the Outsider type with the Air, Earth, Fire, or Water subtype. In addition, you may also grant the target the form of an Animal or Magical Beast with any inherent template that would cause the creature to gain the Elemental type.
When you use this spell to take the form of a creature with the Air, Earth, Fire, or Water subtypes, it is a spell of that type. For example, aeromorph is an air spell when used to take the form of a djinni. While the spell is often called by the name that reflects the element being chosen, it is still one spell, not four separate ones.

Detect Air
Divination
(Aero 0)
As Detect Animals and Plants, except you detect fires in the area, mundane or magical.
1st round - Presence or absence of air and air-breathing creatures.
2nd round - Number of pockets of air in the area.
3rd round - The size of each pocket of air and its nature (safe to breath, toxic, windy magical). Air-breathing creatures are also detected as well as their size, but their specific type is not discerned. If it is outside your line of sight, then you discern its direction but not its exact location.

Detect Earth
Divination
(Geo 0)
As Detect Animals and Plants, except you detect stone, metals, and minerals in the area, mundane or magical.
1st round - Presence or absence of unworked stone, metal, and minerals.
2nd round - Number of deposits or objects detected in the area.
3rd round - The size of each deposit or object and its nature (type of metal, mineral, or stone, as well as if it’s enchanted). If it is outside your line of sight, then you discern its direction but not its exact location.

Detect Fire
Divination
(Pyro 0)
Level 1
As Detect Animals and Plants, except you detect fires in the area, mundane or magical.
1st round - Presence or absence of fire.
2nd round - Number of fires in the area.
3rd round - The size of each fire and its nature (mundane or magical). If it is outside your line of sight, then you discern its direction but not its exact location.

Detect Water
Divination
(Hydro 0)
As Detect Animals and Plants, except you detect water in the area, mundane or magical.
1st round - Presence or absence of water or water-based liquids.
2nd round - Number of bodies of water or water-based liquids in the area.
3rd round - The size of each body and its nature (weather it is pure, safe to drink, freshwater, saltwater, or enchanted, such as potions and holy water). Creatures with blood are also detected, as well as their size, but their type is not discerned. If it is outside your line of sight, then you discern its direction but not its exact location.

Dracomorph *
Transmutation (Polymorph)
(Sor/Wiz 8)
The target takes on the form of a mighty dragon. This spell functions as Animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Dragon type and may be up to two sizes larger than the target's normal size.
In addition, once during the spell's duration, the target may use the breath weapon (if any) of the assumed shape as a standard action. The damage, area, and energy type are identical to those of the assumed shape at that particular age category. The saving throw for the breath weapon is equal to 10 + 1/2 the subject's HD + the subject's Con modifier (which is itself modified by the Dracomorph spell).

Finger of Fire
Evocation [Fire]
(Pyro 0, Sor/Wiz 0)
As Ray of Frost, but fire damage.

Firesight
Divination
(Pyro 3)
As Clairaudience/Clairvoyance, except the sensor must be place in a flame within the spell’s range. If you target a general area, the sensor is placed in the nearest flame within range with line of affect to the targeted area. If no flames are available, the spell fails.

Force Bolt
Evocation [Force]
(Sor/Wiz 0)
As Ray of Frost, but force damage and all dice are d3 instead of d6.

Ice Patch
Conjuration [Cold]
(Hydro 1)
As Grease, but the spell creates a patch of ice instead. The ice melts in any section of the area or object that takes at least one point of fire damage, ending the effect for that area or object. An object surrounded by ice becomes buoyant and floats in water.

Infinimorph *
Transmutation (Polymorph)
(Sor/Wiz 9)
You gain absolute control of your form. Once per round as a free action, you may apply or remove the Polymorphed template; the assumed shape may be a creature with any type. Any assumed shape must be the most common form of any creature type and may be of any size (from Fine to Colossal) or stage of development. The assumed shape chosen must be a creature that conforms to the following restrictions:
  • The total Hit Dice of the creature must be equal to or lower than twice your caster level.
  • The creature may not have more than one template applied. Further, any template cannot be one that increases the Challenge Rating of the creature by an amount greater than one-quarter your caster level.
  • You must be familiar with the kind of creature chosen. The details of what constitutes "familiarity" are left up to the DM, though encountering the creature of that kind in the flesh certainly qualifies.

Other than the wider range of available shapes and the ability to change shape repeatedly, this spell functions as Animorph.

Planomorph *
Transmutation (Polymorph)
(Clr 7, Sor/Wiz 6)
This spell functions as Animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Outsider type and not possess the Air, Earth, Fire, or Water subtypes. In addition, you may also grant the target the form of an Animal or Magical Beast with the Celestial or Fiendish templates (but not Half-Celestial or Half-Fiend templates) applied. At the DM's discretion, there may be additional templates allowed based on other Outsider types.
For the duration of the spell, your natural weapons and any weapons you wield are treated as aligned with any alignment subtype your assumed shape would have (Chaotic, Evil, Good, or Lawful), though you do not actually gain that subtype. When you use this spell to take the form of a creature with one or more of these subtypes, it is a spell of that type. For example, Planomorph is a Chaotic and Evil spell when used to take the form of a demon.

Transport via Fire[/b]
Conjuration (Teleportation)
(Pyro 6)
As Transport via Plants, except you enter into and exit from a fire of your size or larger.

Water Jet
Conjuration [Water]
(Hydro 1)
Area: 30’ line
Save: Reflex half
This spell shoots a jet of water in the area, dealing 1d6 points of non-lethal damage per caster level to all affected. A successful Reflex save halves the damage. Any small or smaller non-magical fires in the area are extinguished.

Xenomorph *
Transmutation (Polymorph)
(Sor/Wiz 5)
This spell functions as Animorph, except that the assumed shape must be of the Aberration, Ooze, or Vermin type.



* All of the new Polymorph spells have the following stat block: (Credit: Rich Burlew)
Transmutation (Polymorph)
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch
Target: Willing living creature touched
Duration: 10 min./level (D)
Saving Throw: None
Spell Resistance: No
« Last Edit: December 01, 2015, 07:19:55 AM by RobbyPants »
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Offline RobbyPants

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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2011, 12:38:39 PM »
Maybe I should include some end result examples. The only bad side I've noticed so far is that some of the blasting spells get good enough to one-shot a PC with lowish max HP. This might be yet one more thing for the DM to consider while running low-level adventures.



Caster level 1
(click to show/hide)



Caster level 3
(click to show/hide)


Caster level 5
(click to show/hide)


I'm getting lazy so I'll skip ahead.

Caster level 9
(click to show/hide)


Skip ahead some more...

Caster level 11
(click to show/hide)


Caster level 13
(click to show/hide)


Caster level 15
(click to show/hide)


Caster level 17
(click to show/hide)



Okay. That was long as hell, and I'm impressed if you read though even half of that dry read!

That being said, it seems that right when you get 1st and 2nd level spells, they're pretty hard core, although, so is a greatsword swing, too. My biggest worry is Scorching Ray, right at CL 3. 21 damage will fuck something up.

I'm relatively pleased with Fireball and Lightning Bolt.

Polar Ray still looks pretty weak, and I may need to beef it up a bit. The quick and dirty approach is to allow multiple attacks, all at different targets.

Meteor Swarm looks pretty good for a 9th level blasting spell.
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Offline RobbyPants

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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 01:47:17 PM »
48 hours and nothing? Just TL;DR?
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Offline Libertad

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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2011, 01:53:40 PM »
I haven't checked out the whole thing yet, but I like what you did with the "Action Denial," "Save or Die" spells, and Polymorph.

I know it's been nerfed, but maybe you should allow the option of Cleric buff spells like Divine Power to work on other targets like fellow PCs.

Why should the Cleric hog all the best buffs to himself?

If you want to bridge the caster-non-caster gap, you can't just bring mages down.  You need to bring the warrior and roguish classes up.  Sometimes in a dungeon the party's wizard dies and the cleric's been reduced to incapacitated status.

Barbarians, Rogues, and the like need reliable ways to deal with hordes of baddies, incorporeal targets, and flying creatures.

This may be beyond the scope of this project, though.
« Last Edit: November 11, 2011, 01:56:59 PM by Libertad »

Offline RobbyPants

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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2011, 02:27:21 PM »
I haven't checked out the whole thing yet, but I like what you did with the "Action Denial," "Save or Die" spells, and Polymorph.
Thanks. I'll have to see how it plays out. Maybe no one will cast SoDs, and that's not really the intent.


I know it's been nerfed, but maybe you should allow the option of Cleric buff spells like Divine Power to work on other targets like fellow PCs.

Why should the Cleric hog all the best buffs to himself?
I never gave that any thought. I suppose it's an option.


If you want to bridge the caster-non-caster gap, you can't just bring mages down.  You need to bring the warrior and roguish classes up.  Sometimes in a dungeon the party's wizard dies and the cleric's been reduced to incapacitated status.

Barbarians, Rogues, and the like need reliable ways to deal with hordes of baddies, incorporeal targets, and flying creatures.

This may be beyond the scope of this project, though.
Well, it's outside the scope of the thread, but not the project. This thread was more just to bring different types of spells a bit closer to each other in power level. Other caster nerfs include more focused spell lists or fewer spells known.
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Offline RobbyPants

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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2011, 08:22:32 AM »
Still not much, huh? That third post is just an analysis I added later with examples.

How about comments just on part of it? I'm particularly curious about the direct damage approach. Of course, after going through all of this effort, I read Prime's simple approach of just doubling the damage and calling it a day. Would that be better?

Do you think the calling magic "fix" will help?

If you have time, how do you feel about specific spell fixes? It's not a complete list.
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Offline Libertad

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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2011, 02:22:31 PM »
Yes, the calling magic fix will help with a lot of things, not the least involving Efreet Wishes.

But this means that called creatures may not be able to contribute to the best of their ability.  The fix is still worth it to get rid of the cheese.

I'd also extend the restriction to things with exp cost or permanent drain of some sort.  The creature, likely an outsider that can reform in the Planes, would be loathe to permanently give up its own personal power for the sake of a mortal spellcaster.  In Fiendish Codex 2, it's said that demotion to a lower form of Devil on the Nine Hells hierarchy is a fate worse than death/destruction.

Offline RobbyPants

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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2011, 09:03:12 PM »
Yes, the calling magic fix will help with a lot of things, not the least involving Efreet Wishes.

But this means that called creatures may not be able to contribute to the best of their ability.  The fix is still worth it to get rid of the cheese.
The hope is since they still have some spells, they can still use lower level ones. For example, you could have a salt mephit use its Glitterdust because it's lower level than the Summon Monster spell used to summon them.


I'd also extend the restriction to things with exp cost or permanent drain of some sort.  The creature, likely an outsider that can reform in the Planes, would be loathe to permanently give up its own personal power for the sake of a mortal spellcaster.  In Fiendish Codex 2, it's said that demotion to a lower form of Devil on the Nine Hells hierarchy is a fate worse than death/destruction.
That could work. You can't force them to use spells with an XP cost either. Fair enough.
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Re: My spellcasting house-rules
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2012, 08:35:28 AM »
I modified the Cure and Inflict spells. The changes are to increase the bonus amount healed (on top of the d8s), remove the cap for bonus HP, and allow it to be based on CL or HD of the recipient, whichever is greater. Also, the mass versions have a range of Medium and can affect any targets in a 20' radius.

Also, I added in a blurb about being able to cast any spell with a range of touch on any number of willing creatures within the caster's reach on a single slot. This will hopefully encourage buffing and make healing go much further on a per-slot basis.
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