Talk:Mana-Based Spellcasting (3.5e Variant Rule)

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I really like this system! I've spent the longest time trying to figure out a way of doing spell points that didn't run into exactly the sorts of problems you note plague the UA method (and all the other similar methods out there). I'd started to fumble around with something close to this, but never hit on the key change you made to make it all work. Thanks for posting this!

A few questions: Is there a method to your madness, so to speak, on the amount of strain each spell costs the Mage in your table? It seems like it would be impossible, for instance, for a 1st-level wizard to use 1st-level spells (as they rarely start with Int 22+). Also, any insights on how much extra strain a spontaneous caster should have? And how would this system handle specialists? (Maybe one Strain-free spell per day at each spell level from your chosen school?) --UrbanUrsine 10:14, 24 May 2009 (MDT)

The statistic, not the modifier on abilities. Strain tolerance of 18 at level 1 with a Int 18, etc. --TK-Squared 10:23, 24 May 2009 (MDT)
This mistake has been made before: their strain tolerance is based on their casting stat, not their casting stat modifier (so they're actually a little more powerful than base wizards at level 1, a fact that should probably be corrected). The method to creating the table was mostly eyeballing, though I think it's about right at mid to mid-high levels. It probably needs a little adjustment at level 1 though (we could bring up the cost of level 1 spells and bring down the cost of cantrips). Surgo 10:24, 24 May 2009 (MDT)
Looking back, I see (to my chagrin) that it even says that right in there--guess I'm so used to things using the modifiers instead of the stats themselves that I looked right past that. Whoops! Thanks for setting me straight, as that does make more sense. That said, it looks like if you bring up the cost of a 1st-level spell to 7, you both hew a little closer to your general pattern and fix that low-level power issue a bit, so you're probably on to something with that. --UrbanUrsine 12:38, 24 May 2009 (MDT)


Good job thinking outside the box! I'm going to use this system for the next game I DM. It would be nice if you included examples of moderate casters (bard), prestige casters (blackguard, assassin), and weak casters (paladin, ranger). --Aarnott 14:41, 25 May 2009 (MDT)

That's a good idea, I'll get right on that. Surgo 16:04, 25 May 2009 (MDT)
Perhaps spontaneous caster should have their own table to, after all readied spells help a prepared caster much more than a spontaneous caster. Having lower strain cost or higher strain capacity may be a good way to fix it. --Lord Dhazriel 12:54, 26 May 2009 (MDT)
As far as weak/prestige casters are concerned, you can probably just base it on the same table with some tweaks. Weak casters like rangers and paladins count half their class level as caster level (and on top of that have a two-level offset in their progression), so you just drop the 0-level column and count the caster level as (class level-2)/2; a Ranger 20 would thus have Strain Costs of 3/5/6/8, just like a Wizard 8 with no cantrips, and would have a Strain Tolerance of 4 + Wisdom. Since prestige casters are limited to 5-10 levels anyway, you can count their full level, drop the 0/5th columns, and go from there. I haven't run the math on that, but it sounds like a fairly simple solution to me. --UrbanUrsine 17:35, 31 May 2009 (MDT)
I'm going to give a radical suggestion and say: abolish weak casters. The Ranger? Change it into martial adept. The Paladin? Make it a prestige class for Cleric (It's only 3 levels long anyway). Bang! --TK-Squared 17:57, 31 May 2009 (MDT)
Going to have to pop in and agree with TK. The Bard-casters are a different beast though, and some classes have valid uses for spells up to 6th level (though ironically, the Bard itself does not). Surgo 21:14, 31 May 2009 (MDT)
To be honest, I'd advocate that approach myself. I'm just saying, if you really want to just lay this rule-set onto the standard game, that's probably the way to do it with the weak casters. But for my part, your point is taken and agreed with. --UrbanUrsine 21:48, 4 June 2009 (MDT)

New Feats

I thought of a few new feats to compliment this system:

Force of Will [Magic(?)]

You can use your Will save to cast spells when you are past your strain tolerance.
Prerequisite: Have a strain tolerance score. (Iron Will?)
Benefit: You can use your Will save instead of your Fortitude save when attempting to cast a spell when your current strain is higher than your strain tolerance.

Nexus of Power [Magic(?)]

Increase your strain tolerance based on the number of Magic feats you possess.
Prerequisite: Have a strain tolerance score.
Benefit: Increase your strain tolerance by 1 for each Magic feat you possess.

Drawing out Reserves [Magic(?)]

You can last a little bit longer before becoming exhausted from spellcasting.
Prerequisite: Have a strain tolerance score.
Benefit: Once per day per Magic feat you possess, when you would become exhausted from failing to cast a spell when above your strain tolerance, you do not become exhausted instead. The spell you attempted to cast still fizzles.

Feel free to include them, discard them, or change them to something that works better. --Aarnott 12:45, 26 May 2009 (MDT)

Thanks for these -- I haven't missed these, and will add these in some point soon when I have more time to work. Surgo 22:20, 4 June 2009 (MDT)


I figured out what I'm going to do for sorcerers. I'll update the table and the page later today for that. Bards soon after. Surgo 14:39, 26 May 2009 (MDT)

For lack of wanting to make a new section, I really like this premise and the way you've gone about it, but I can't help but think that giving a wizard (mage) free access to lower spells at higher levels is a bit much. Obviously the mage will still have problems when they exceed their strain pool regardless of the zero cost give your rules, but all the caster really needs to do is preserve one point and they still have a pretty good set of options for what is essentially no cost. I mean, I get it, you're probably strong enough at that point the free spells shouldn't be a big deal, but being able to use some of those lower level basic buffs with no cost strikes me as... empowering, something wizards don't need much of given the already large gap between casters and fighters at high levels. Overall I love what you've done with it, but the power gamer in me wants to find the most creative ways to use first and second level spells and eschew the big boys until absolutely necessary (i.e. fly, pelt them with fireballs/lightning bolts, ray of enfeeblement until you can't support your own weight, etc.).
On a side note, what about metamagic feats? I'd assume there's nothing special to be done, although again, once you get into the free spells you just heighten everything to the highest level you can cast without cost, you know? -- Jota 22:05, 4 June 2009 (MDT)
The real meaty tl;dr post of why the free spells aren't bad is going to have to wait until later when I have more time to type (though if you went into the Tavern more often I'm sure I'd be better at speaking there than here!), but as for metamagic, it works as normal. Metamagic works as normal; as mages still have to prepare spells they won't get free heightens to level 3. For're right, Sorcerers at least are going to heighten all their spells to level 3. While this is where one would normally exclaim "Merry Christmas", I'd like to add: however not only do I think this is not a problem and is closer to the way it should be (all spells have a DC of 10 + casting stat + 0.5 ½ level or plus highest level you can cast), I'm going to soon be uploading a major tweak for metamagic that promises to both stop metamagic abuse and return it to the way it was invisioned, which should deal with the problem (which I don't believe exists, but some people do). Surgo 22:19, 4 June 2009 (MDT)
I'm probably thinking about this wrong, but if the wizard still has to prepare spells, how does the mana system come into play? Unless you prepare more spells than you could feasibly cast (which seems like it would make him a sorcerer), I'm not sure how the system would be any different/better than what already exists. This is probably a problem on my end, but I'd like to have it clarified or else it will just bug the hell out of me. Also, regarding the minor edit I made, you aren't supposed to start a sentence with however, which is why I changed it. I know it looks fine, but my English teacher was pretty adamant on that fact. I won't insist on grammatical perfection (read: I don't want to fight over something so trivial), but it isn't correct with however at the beginning of the sentence. If you wanted to keep however where it is, you would have to join the sentence it begins with the one before it, as however should be linking two clauses. -- Jota 23:24, 4 June 2009 (MDT)
Last thing first: that's...strange...I've never had a professor grill me for that one, ever. If you are correct then by all means please change it back -- I was unaware that such was a mistake. I thought the way it was looked as if the however referred to the spellcasters themselves.
As for spell preparation, the mage prepares the normal allotment of spells that they would otherwise have at their level, as per the "spells per level" table in the Wizard class. Arguably, the bonus for having a high intelligence score can come into this -- I believe it should. Then the Mage casts a spell and loses the mana, but she does not forget the spell -- she can cast it again. Surgo 00:22, 5 June 2009 (MDT)
If the wizard retains the spell, when would he forget it? Would he ever have to re-study if he didn't have any need to swap out the spells he had memorized? It seems to me that you're blurring the line between wizard and sorcerer to some extent. If I read it correctly, the spells per day is simply the equivalent to your mana pool; there is no restriction on how many spells a wizard can learn. I just don't see how this system can be compatible with the wizard's spellcasting limitations (relative to the sorcerer). I mean, a wizard can have access to an unlimited number of spells. He has no 'spells known' table. So if this is the case, you say my 7th level wizard can prepare Knock, Acid Arrow, Bull's Strength, and Blur, but then if I cast Knock, I could cast Knock again, but I could also cast any of the others, which makes me a sorcerer without the limited spell list, right? Do you follow what I'm trying to say? -- Jota 01:45, 6 June 2009 (MDT)
He can re-study at the normal time. I'm not talking about the "spells known" table, I'm talking about the "spells per day" table which becomes your new "spells prepared" table. Your actual "spells per day" becomes your mana pool, yes. What you are saying is entirely correct; the Sorcerer's advantage is he multiplies his casting stat by 1.5 when calculating his mana pool. Surgo 09:10, 6 June 2009 (MDT)
Alright. Spells per day = Spells Prepared. However, you say "... the Mage casts a spell and loses the mana, but she does not forget the spell -- she can cast it again." That sounds like a sorcerer to me. Under standard rules, as a wizard, I would have to prepare a spell twice to use it twice. Despite this, you are saying that I don't have to, which is essentially making a wizard the same as a sorcerer. I get that sorcerer gets more points due to his limited spell list, but like I said with the unlimited lower level spells, it seems to me that it makes the wizard stronger under this variant than she would be under standard rules. Stronger wizards is not really something the game needs. I want to make it clear that I'm not opposed to your system, just that the way I read it the wizard is stronger than her SRD counterpart. It seems to me like the wizard is becoming like a sorcerer and the sorcerer is receiving a bit of a boost to compensate for the fact that the wizard just took his niche. Correct me if I'm wrong? -- Jota 16:04, 6 June 2009 (MDT)
I don't really think they get any stronger than the core wizard (or, if they do, not by much), but other than that you are correct. That's how they work in pretty much any spell point system, of which this is supposed to be an improvement on. I mean, that part about the Wizard taking the Sorcerer's niche is pretty much true. I don't think there's any way around it though. There's not much one can do there and still actually have a spell point system. Surgo 21:21, 7 June 2009 (MDT)
Excuse me for barging into this (old) conversation, but the sorcerer class still has several advantages. They have spontaneous casting (which I'd imagine wizards would not have under this system) and they have Charisma as their defining ability. This leads to it being able to be more combat oriented than a wizard generally is, and they can also function as the party's diplomat. Having the Bluff skill makes them able to feint in combat, and spontaneous casting means they do not provoke attacks of opportunity, which the wizard would do each time they cast a spell. Garan 22:45, 16 December 2011 (EST)
You may have more luck contacting the author as well as the other people who chimed in here rather than on this page, since they're no longer active on this site (but are on that one).


However, however can be used to start a sentence. --TK-Squared 10:26, 5 June 2009 (MDT)

There is a (somewhat) unspoken rule that it is bad form to start a sentence with however. In fact, I have been told by one of my English professors that although it is grammatically correct to start a sentence with however, this case is one of a few where extra word padding is preferred (such as "It is, however, ..." instead of "However, it is ..."). On the other hand, I generally consider that professor to be a crackpot, so the legitimacy of his claim is questionable at best. Generally, I would just avoid it because it is a slightly awkward construction. --Aarnott 13:01, 8 June 2009 (MDT)

Perhaps Under Powered?

I think perhaps this may be under powered though I do think it's on the right track. Let's take for example a wizard with 18 Int to start leveled up to 20 with all 5 bonuses in Int a +8 Int item and +5 inherent bonus ( I may be forgetting some other bonuses). That's an Int of 36 and at 20th level a 9th level spell costs 8 strain. A normal wizard could cast 4(or 5 for a specialist) 9th level spells per day as can the strain based wizard, however the strain wizard is nearly spent except for low level spells where as the normal wizard still has 4 or 5 spells of every level left. I do not think that these lower level spells will make all the difference in a high level fight seeing as how they still have low save DC's. So perhaps a bonus should be added to the strain tolerance based on level or for Int bonus, instead of extra spells per day prepared.

For the wizard taking over the sorcerer's niche look to the Spirit Shaman class in Oriental Adventures or Complete Divine. This class prepares a certain number of spells per day as a cleric but casts spontaneously as a sorcerer ,but only those spells prepared and may change that selection daily. I believe this is how the wizard is intended to function.

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