Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Problems With D&D/Pathfinder Magic

"Rary the Traitor" by Ben Wootten
While I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Dungeons & Dragons and its close cousin Pathfinder, there are a few elements of both games that have always annoyed me for one reason or another. One of them happens to be how the game handles magic.

Now, let me be clear, this post is not going to be a rant against the Vancian magic system that most editions of D&D implement. Unlike a large amount of people, I actually rather like Vancian spellcasting. I like like the resource-management elements that are present in the system and the "Fire and Forget" concept is a very interesting one.

My complaint with the D&D/Pathfinder is how using something that has the ability to warp reality has almost no negative consequences tied to it. A wizard can simply prepare a spell and cast it with the only worry being they might miss the target of the spell.

So, having the idea that casting magic should have some consequence tied to it, I started to think about how I would re-design the system to fulfill that need. After a few moments of thinking, I found myself really like the idea of magic-users having to make a "Spellcasting check" to cast a spell. Basically, they would roll a d20 and add the ability score modifier tied to their class (Charisma for Sorcerers, Intelligence for Wizards, etc.) plus 1/2 their level. The target number for this check would be 10 plus double the spell level being cast. If they succeed, the spell is cast as normal. If they fail, the spell doesn't work. If they fail by a decent amount, the spell fails and they suffer a consequence. For example, the spell could possibly backfire or the character could become exhausted because they pushed themselves too far. Prepared spellcasters would still have to prepare which spells the wanted to cast ahead of time and spontaneous spellcasters can work on the fly. However, prepared spellcasters could possibly add extra components to their spells to lower the DC of their spells. Spontaneous spellcasters can only lower the DC of their spells by extending the time needed to cast the spell.

While I'd love to implement this in my future Pathfinder games, I feel like I would have to do more work than I'd be willing to. However, a man can dream can't he?