Spell Creation System (3.5e Variant Rule)
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When creating a spell you should always start with a concept for the spell. This concept should contain the school and level of the spell, and description of what you want the spell to do. It is important to have ideas down before you begin crafting your spell so that you can choose an appropriate power to the spell.
School Spell schools determine what type of spell will be used. Spells can only belong to one school of magic. The schools of magic are described in the magic chapter of the core rulebook.
Level The level of the spell determines when a character can cast the spell. in addition to this the level of the spell also determines the spell saves of the spell and whether or not the character can create the spell. A character can only create spells that they can cast.
The Description of a spell should contain a brief layout of what the spell would do. Obviously you do not want to have a description of a spell that says, "I want my spell to do everything", but you do want your spell to have a bit of wiggle room so that changes can be adapted to. It is also a good idea to name your spell at this point as it will give a bit of flavor to the spell.
Example: Stonebrie's Forge The caster creates a stone forge that lasts for a number of days. The forge grants a bonus to craft Armor and craft weapons tests.
Numerical Values Numeric values determine the general power of a spell at it's starting level. For example, a character who uses a magic missile is using a spell with 2 numerical values. (1d4 and +1) This numerical value as well as the description of how the spell works determines the power of the spell.
Standard Numerical Values: Standard numeric values are values which do not change every time the spell is cast. This means that if a spell has a numeric value of +1 the spell will always use the numeric value +1.
Variable Numeric Values: Variable values are values which change every time the spell is cast. typically these values are applied to effects which cause damage though other effects are possible. Variable values use dice to determine the numerical value.
High Numerical Values: Spells with high numerical values should never have progressions. These spells such as True Strike are given high numerical values to ensure that they are worth while spells at any point or any level in the game. That being said, spells with high numeric values should be used sparingly. It is fine for true strike to have a +20 to a single attack, because a successful attack does not mean that the character will deal much damage with that attack. If the spell added +20 to damage the spell would be a much higher level spell.
Many spells with numerical values which progress as the caster's level improves. This insures that a spell grows in power as the caster improves and does not become useless at later levels. Typically the number of numerical values a spell has determines the rate of progression.
Per 1 Level : The numerical values of the spell increase every 1 caster level. The spell has one numerical value.
Per 2 Levels: The numerical values of the spell increase every 2 caster levels. The spell has 2 numerical values.
Per 3 levels: The numerical values of the spell increase every 3 caster levels. The spell has 3 numerical values.
Per 4 Levels: The numerical values of the spell increase every 4 caster levels. The spell has 4 numerical values.
Per 5 levels: The numerical values of the spell increase every 5 caster levels. The spell has 5 numerical values.
Most spells have a maximum numerical value which ensures that a spell does not become to powerful at later levels. Typically a spell does not progress more than 5 times above the caster level that can cast the spell.
For example, a fireball spell can be learned at level 5 by most casters. Every caster level the spell gains +1d6 up to a maximum of 10d6 at level 10.
While not all spells progress at the same rate of speed the best rule of thumb for balancing a spells numerical values is to only give the spell 5 increases in your progression.
This is a pattern that can be seen throughout the d20 system. A character gains attacks for example every 5th attack bonus, and a magical item has a maximum of +5.
Combining Values Standard numerical can be combined with variable numeric values into one numerical value. This process of combining a numerical value should always be used carefully. When combining a numeric value you raise the progression of the spell. For example if you are combining 1d6 and +1 you should raise the progression from "per 1 level" to "per 2 Levels".
Every flow of energy needs a channel in which to flow. In some cases the practitioner himself is the channel however most spells use components as conduits for their power. Each school of magic uses their own types of components which work best for that specific school. Typically components can be mixed and mached to create the desired effect, however more powerful spells may require specific components.
The casting time of a spell determines how long it takes to cast that spell. The large majority of spells can be cast as standard actions however many spells have casting times expressing in minutes or even hours. It is important to choose a casting time for your spell which makes since for the spell.
Spells with this casting time are extremely easy to cast and take only a moment. A character can make a movement action and a standard action.
Spells with this type of casting time take only a few seconds to cast. a character can make a movement action and still caste the spell
Full Round Action
Spells with this casting time require several an entire round to be cast. a spell of this type comes into effect just before the casters turn on the next round.
Some spells have a casting time expressed in minutes. during this time the caster must continuously cast the spell with no interruptions.
Some spells can take a number of hours to cast. This type of casting time is typically reserved for rituals which can take long periods of time to cast.
Range Expressed in Feet
Effect Ray Spread
Area Burst, Emination, or Spread Cone Cylinder, Line, Sphere
The Duration of your spell will determine how long the effect lasts. Many spells measure duration in rounds, minutes, hours or other increments.
A timed duration is a duration expressed rounds, minutes, hours, or other periods of time. typically a spell with this type of duration increases the duration per the casters level. there are three types of progressions.
Per 1 level: The spell's duration progresses by +1 per caster level.
Per 2 Levels: The spell's duration progresses by +1 per 2 caster levels.
Per 3 Levels: The spell's duration progresses by +1 per 3 caster levels.
The spell's effect ends as soon as the spell is cast. The after effects of the spell may remain, however the initial effect of the spell ends.
The spell lasts until it is dispelled.
The spell remains in effect as long as the caster concentrates their energy on the spell. some spells of this nature have a period of time after the concentration ends for the spell effect to remain.
The large majority of spells which target a subject are given saving throws which allow the target(s) of the spell to resist the effects. In some notable cases the spell may not have a saving throw but some other restricting facet which ensures balance to the game. for example, the spell magic missile has not saving throw but can only target living targets.
Saving throws allow the target to resists the effects of the spell to some degree or all together. The DC of a saving throw equal to 10+spell level+ Attribute Modifier+ Other Modifiers.
A successful saving throw ignores the effects of the spell entirely. This saving throw is often applied to spells with a single target.
A successful saving throw still has an effect on the target, however the effect is a separate lesser effect. This saving throw is often applied to spells with multiple effects
A successful saving throw reduces the effect of the spell by half. this half's the numerical values of the spell. This saving throw is often aplied to a spell with an area effect.
There is no Saving throw for this spell. The spell always works as specified. Typically these effects have additional descriptions which limit the use of the spell.
A successful saving throw allows the target to ignore the spell entirely. this is slightly different from negating because negating a spell means the character knows something happens. Disbelief b=means the spell does not take any effect. Ths distinction can come up in a game surprisingly often.
Harmless spells typically have beneficial effects however a character can resist with a saving throw as if the saving throw were to negate the spell.
The description of a spell should always be as detailed as possible. Even if this description requires several paragraphs of information. This will limit confusion on how a spell may be used as well as what the spell does. The Description of the spell should indicate the minimum and maximum numerical values, and/or the way in which a spell effect the game.
Numerical values determine the power of a spell as well as how powerful a spell will become. Typically a spell has one numerical value though some spells have multiple. Numerical values are intended to keep the game balanced, they ensure that a spell is not overly powers but also help ensure that the spell is powerful enough to be useful.
Numerical values come in two types. Standard numeric values, and variable numeric values. These two types of values are handled by the game system differently. A Standard numeric value is a value which does not change with each casting of the spell. (Example: +1 or -1) These values remain the same regardless of how many times the spell is cast. If a spell grants +1 AC bonus, the numeric value of the spell is a standard numeric value.
The progression of a numerical value ensures that the spell does not become useless at later levels. Typically a progression ensures that a spell remains decent at levels beyond the level of the spell. For example, a fireball spell gains +1d6 damage each level. Not all spells progress at the same rate. Some spells progress at slower rates. Listed are common progressions which can be observed in other spells.
Per 1 level
The numeric values of this spell increase every 1 caster levels (example: Fireball)
Per 2 levels
The numeric values of this spell increase every 2 caster levels (example: Magic missile)
Per 3 levels
The numeric Values of this spell increase every 3 caster levels (example: Acid Arrow)
A maximum value is a restriction on the power of the spell to insure the spell does not become too powerful at later levels. Typically a spells numeric values can increase up to 5 ratings higher after the spell is Taken. A perfect example of this is the fireball spell.
The fireball spell is a 3rd level Wizard spell meaning that the spell can be learned at 5th level by most casters who can learn the spell. (wizards and sorcerers in the core rulebook) when a caster learns this spell the spell starts with a numerical value of 5d6. by 10th level the spells progression ends at 10d6. (level 5 + 5 levels=10)
It is always good to ensure that a spells numerical values do not increase more than 5 times. This number is a pattern that appears often in the game. For example magical weapons have a maximum of +5, classes gain an extra attack after every +5 attack bonus, etc.
Once you have determined what the spell will be you will begin putting the spell to functional use. Sure, you have the symbols down, the formula and weaves completed, and your theory of magic seems sound. But how well does the spell actually work? The only way to find out is to put all those elements together and see how it turns out.
Creating a spell takes a number of weeks equal to 1+spell level. At the end of this time the practitioner makes a Spellcraft test DC 20+spell level. Upon a successful test the spell is created and works normally.
For each point bellow the DC that the practitioner scores the spell gains a value in flaws. These flaws do not mean that the Spell does not work but that the spell works in an unintended way. Regardless of the spell a Spellscraft test of less than 20 or a natural 1 creates a backfire.
Flaws and Backfires
Any time you begin working with defined spell theory and tampering with spell formula, the results are always evident. Sure, you may fail to create any spell of worth, but you have still created a spell which does something.
This means that a failed spell is still a spell. The spell is just a spell which works differently than intended. These types of spells are called flawed spells and have some sort of unintended effect.
When working with magic a flawed spell is disappointing however, worse could happen. Backfires are the result of an extremely poorly crafted spell and typically have a very disastrous effect on the practitioner.
A flawed spell is a spell which works differently than intended. the following flaws are separated by spell school and can can sometimes create very strange spells. flaws do not make spells useless, however they do make the spells harder to use and less powerful. A flawed spell retains it's spell level even if the actual power of the spell is much lower than the actual spell level.
Aligned Spell: The spell has an alignment attached to it which restricts the ability to cast the spell. this flaw can be stacked twice for example a spell could have an alignment of Lawful, or an alignment of Lawful Evil.
Backlash: The spell causes magical backlash to the caster. the caster must make a willpower save against the spell or be rendered dazed
Crude: The spell is crude in it's creation. The Caster must make a spellcraft test (DC 20+spell level) to casts the spell.
Disjointed The spell is hard to aim. Targets gain +2 AC against a touch against this spell.
Dispersed: The spell has a dispersed area of effect. targets within the spell gain +2 on reflex saves against the spell.
Unreliable: The spell is unreliable and has a 10% chance to fail. This stacks with arcane spell failure.
Random Duration: The spell has a 50% chance to have a shorter than intended duration. A spell intended to be permanent may become concentration, while a spell with a duration expressed in minutes may become a duration expressed in rounds. The spell cannot have a duration less than instantaneous.
Lacking: The spell lacks the intended power. targets of the spell gain +2 on fortitude saves against this spell.
Weak: The force of will behind this spell is not as strong as intended. Targets gain +2 on reflex saves against this spell.
Overly Complex: The spell is more complex in it's application than it needs to be. it takes up a spell slot one level higher though it's actual level does not change.
A spell which backfires throws power back in the practitioner's face. Backfires can be fatal though often the effects of a backfire are more undesirable. Many a spell write has found themselves stricken blind or rendered insane by the effects of a backfired spell.
Kichael's Trick Spell
Casting time: Standard Action
Components: A rare insect part such as the wing of a rare butterfly
Range: See text
Effect: See Text
Spell Resistance: yes
Flaws: Lacking, Weak, Dispersed
The Caster chooses a spell that she has memorized. To all appearances this spell appears to be that spell while being cast. If the spell is countered Kichael's Trick spell instead casts that spell. If Kichael's Trick Spell is not countered the spell ends in a colorful array of lights around the caster. targets gets +2 on Fortitude, Reflex, and Willpower saves against this spell.