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non-Vancian magic 
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Hlobane Orc

Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:27 pm
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Post non-Vancian magic
Never been a huge fan of D&D's magic system. Pretty sure it was just Gary's way of keeping Magicians from raining fireballs onto his preferred Fighters.

And recently tried to read Dying Earth by Vance and couldn't even finish it.

So..not surprising...curious if anyone here has successfully ditched Vancing Magic successfully?

Did you use the Mana system in the Castle Keep Guide or some other system?


Sat Aug 12, 2017 11:52 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
I use a mixture of both. Vancian for the divine casters though they do not have to memorize spells since they 'pray for what miracle they need' and Mana system for Arcane casters who know only the spells they have learned. Seems to work decently and adds just that little bit more flavor.

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Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:41 am
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Lore Drake

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
I have not used the version in the CKG, but i have had a lot of success with other non-Vancian systems. As i see it, there are two main options- either a spell check system or a spell point system.

I really like the idea of the spell check system. After all, fighters can't automatically hit in combat, and rogues can't automatically open locks, so why should a wizard automatically cast a spell? In this system, magic is a skill like any other, and failure is an option.

The best spell point system i know of was implemented in the Midnight campaign system. Casters have an amount of spell energy equal to their level plus ability modifier. Every spell costs an amount of energy equal to the spell level. You can also cast beyond that at the expense of Constitution damage. This has the effect of limiting high level spells, which is fine for the setting. I like this because the numbers are simple (unlike the CKG). You can tweak the numbers to get more high level spells if desired.

Either way, fear not, there is life without Vancian magic. :)

-Fizz


Sun Aug 13, 2017 1:29 am
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Ulthal

Joined: Thu Jul 19, 2012 5:26 am
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
sovereign stone has a very unique casting system which neither involves Magic Points or Vancian casting.

Here I detail how I would implement it into CnC
viewtopic.php?f=10&t=14968&hilit=+sovereign

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Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:25 am
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Ulthal

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
I think my favorite non-vancian magic system to date has to be the magic rules from 5E D&D.

5E D&D SRD wrote:
Table: The Wizard shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest. You prepare the list of wizard spells that are available for you to cast. To do so, choose a number of wizard spells from your spellbook equal to your Intelligence modifier + your wizard level (minimum of one spell). The spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots. For example, if you’re a 3rd-level wizard, you have four 1st-level and two 2nd-level spell slots. With an Intelligence of 16, your list of prepared spells can include six spells of 1st or 2nd level, in any combination, chosen from your spellbook. If you prepare the 1st-level spell magic missile, you can cast it using a 1st-level or a 2nd-level slot. Casting the spell doesn’t remove it from your list of prepared spells. You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of wizard spells requires time spent studying your spellbook and memorizing the incantations and gestures you must make to cast the spell: at least 1 minute per spell level for each spell on your list.
Basically you do the following -
  • Memorize Spells
    • You may only memorize spells of levels you may cast
    • You can memorize a number of spells equal to your caster modifier (Int for Wiz/Ill, Wis for Cleric/Druid, etc.) plus your level
    • After you rest you can keep the spells you know without the need to memorize them, or can change out spells that you don't want for a different spell of any level you can cast through the normal memorization rules
  • When casting a spell
    • You still get a number of bonus spell slots based on your caster attribute
    • You may cast a spell using a spell slot of the spell level or higher
    • When casting a spell from a higher level spell slot it is more powerful
  • This system will require some work as you have to review the spells and see what the effect change is for casting from a higher spell slot, examples-
    • Eliminate all Cure Moderate/Serious Wound spells and only keep a single spell Cure Wounds at the appropriate level for the class (Cleric-1, Druid/Illusionist-2)The spell cures 1d8hp, when cast from a higher level spell slot it cures an additional 1d8hp per spell level, so a cleric casting Cure Wounds from a 3rd level spell slot would cure 3d8 (the same as a Cure Critical Wounds spell)
    • Fireball (Wiz-3) 5d6 damage (save for half as normal), +1d6 damage for each spell level above 3rd it is cast in so a wizard casting from a 6th level spell slot would do 12d6 damage (note this does nerf the FB slightly because it will max out at 17d6 damage)

Lets say Tim the Enchanter is a 6th level wizard with a 17 Intelligence, he has the following spell slots -
  • 1 - 5 (4 from level 1 from Int)
  • 2 -4 (3 from level, 1 from Int)
  • 3 -2
At 6th level, with an Int modifier of 2 he can memorize 8 spells. He can chose from any spells in his spell book of 1st-3rd level, he chooses [list[*]1st Level - Floating Disk, Magic Missile, Read Magic[*]2nd Level - Invisibility, Knock, Mirror Image, Web[*]3rd Level - Haste[/list]
Using the rules above in the first encounter he uses a Magic Missile spell (1 missile at first level doing 1d4+1, for each higher spell level cast from add 2 missiles) cast from a 2nd level spell slot so it sends off 3 missiles each doing 1d4+1 damage. When facing the chieftain of the foes, he casts Invisibility on Bob the Thief, and Mirror Image on himself, he has now used 3 second level spell slots and can only cast one more spell at that power level until he can rest. Bob is able to get a sneak attack on the chief which enrages him, and as he spins he cleaves Bob's head from his body. Desperate Tim casts Magic Missile from a 3rd level spell slot sending forth 5 missiles which slays the chief. Unfortunately Bob was slain and the chief's stongbox is locked. With a bit of trepidation, Tim casts Knock from his last 3rd level spell slot. Inside he finds much coin, a scroll in a case with a note stating this is going to Sally the Sorceress, he casts Read Magic (from a 1st level slot) to find it is a scroll of Lightning Bolt, that is going into his spell book, as long as he makes it back safely! This now leaves Tim with 4 - 1st level spells slots, 1 -2nd level, and 0 - 3rd level spell slots. He uses Floating Disk (1st level, duration is 1 hour, and for each spell level above 1st, it adds 2 hours to the duration) and leverages Bob and the other treasure, along with other evidence of the death of the chieftain onto the disk and hightails it out of the bandit's cave. After 3 hours, he uses a series of 1st level spell slots to cast the Floating Disk again until he finds a safe place to make camp and rest for the night. In the morning, he casts Floating Disk from a 3rd level spell slot giving him 5 hours of walking time...

Using this, unless you wanted to go through and modify every spell ahead of time, I would recommend that you make rulings on the spells as they are acquired by the characters, Cleric and Druids will take a bit more work since they don't have books, but you can work with the players to get around that quickly, then of course any spells your NPCs have. Don't fret over doing them all ahead of time, the conversion process isn't that difficult, just remember that for every higher spell level, the level based effects should go up by a factor of 2 since a character gains a new spell level at every other character level, this has the spells keep pace with the existing spell descriptions. Well, they jump up by 2 levels for each higher slot, rather normal smoother progression of 1 per level. Note, if you don't want to cap the spells effects when they have level based effects (like Range of #feet per level, #dice per level, or # of creatures per level, or duration is #Rounds/Level) you can create higher level spell slots, and just mirror the progression of the spell charts, so at 19th level the Wizard would gain a "10th Level" spell slot, even though you don't have any 10th Level spells in the game (though you could invent some if you wanted, I just tend to look at it as, what is more powerful than a Wish?), it could be used to cast other spells at a higher proficiency. Thus you could cast a Fireball from a 10th level spell slot, it would do 19d6 of damage.

Another thing to keep in mind, is improved versions of earlier spells, Delayed Blast Fireball for example. It normally does 1d6+1 damage per caster level, it is a 7th level spell, so it's base should be 7d6+7, then increase each spell level by another 1d6+1.

I would track Cantrips (0 level spells) differently. I would let the character memorize a number of Cantrips equal to their Intelligence modifier, and cast a number of them per day as shown on the spell chart for their class. Thus Tim could memorize two Cantrips, say Detect Magic and Light, and could cast any combination of 5 Cantrips each day. These spells cannot be powered up by casting them at higher level slots.


Sun Aug 13, 2017 12:36 pm
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Lore Drake

Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:00 am
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
jdizzy001 wrote:
sovereign stone has a very unique casting system which neither involves Magic Points or Vancian casting.


Oh yes, i forgot about that one. I like it too- really gives the feel that the caster has to collect and form the magical energy to his will. Your version is easier than the SS system, since in that system every spell has a unique casting threshold for every spell (no levels). Some high powered spells require hundreds of points of energy to cast.

-Fizz


Sun Aug 13, 2017 4:19 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
jdizzy001 wrote:
sovereign stone has a very unique casting system which neither involves Magic Points or Vancian casting.

Here I detail how I would implement it into CnC
https://www.trolllord.com/forums/viewto ... +sovereign


I missed that back when you first posted it. It looks good to me. My one worry would be the d4 damage for carrying over a casting into another round ... On paper it doesn't sound like a lot, but I just started running a harvester's game with my girls and it has reminded me how fragile 1st level characters can be. Even a ranger and a fighter, at first level have sooooo few HP. I can imagine what it is for a MU. So, if a 1st level MU bolos their casting roll, take 3 or 4 hp damage , they could be at 1/2 or less HP. ... Maybe make it stun/subdual damage ... something, so it is less fatal.

As for vancian magic system ... as I've said before, magic is my weakness as a player and GM, I have the least experience with it as a player. However, I do dislike the system as written. There HAS to be a better way than memorize, fire/forget, rememorize (and hope it is a spell useful to that day's adventure) . I may not know what it is, but there has to be a better way.

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Mon Aug 14, 2017 12:16 am
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Ungern
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
MERP had a spell point system that worked okay. Spell users got their intelligence or wisdom bonus as power points multiplied by level. So in this case you could have 3 pp with an 18 INT or WIS. Or you could use your own scale that gave you more. The level number was the pp expended. So you could be in trouble casting higher level spells, but there were spell adders and multipliers as magic items. Of course all the spell using NPCs had those, so it didn't take long for the PCs to get some. And as I recall you recharged over night.


Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:34 am
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Ulthal

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
Another way around it would be to award your mage a staff with a number of spells which recharge, or have an obscene number of uses, like a staff of magic missile with 100 uses on it. Alternatively, the ckg has the apprentice's bolt advantage which gives the mage a spell they can attack with every round.

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Mon Aug 14, 2017 6:46 am
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Mogrl

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
My son just does it to where you have a number of spell slots as per how it is spelled out in the PHB, but you just use those slots to cast all the spells you know. Pretty much how it was done by the Sorceror in 3E D&D, but its how it works for everyone. So divine casters can cast any spell on their spell lists, and Wizards, Illusionists, etc... can cast whatever spells they "know" in their spell books.

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Mon Aug 14, 2017 9:29 am
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Mist Elf

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
I did something for a shot time how Treebore mentions above as well as coming up with rolling to cast. In the end I went back to vancian I find I actually like it as well as the flavor of it. Spell points just don't work for me I don't like spell point systems in any game I've encountered them in. I prefer either some sort of rolling or vancian.


Mon Aug 14, 2017 1:12 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
I've always found mana point systems to make spell casters even more overly powerful than they already are. I don't like rolling to succeed either, because failing not only screws them over, but everyone else in the party as well. So my sons method is pretty good for an alternative. For me at least.

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

Grand Knight Commander of the Society.


Mon Aug 14, 2017 5:16 pm
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Hlobane Orc

Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:27 pm
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
Well, my fighter has to roll to succeed...why shouldn't the wizard have to roll to succeed? Fair is fair. :)


Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:19 am
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Lore Drake

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
capmarvel wrote:
Well, my fighter has to roll to succeed...why shouldn't the wizard have to rollt to succeed? Fair is fair. :)


That is exactly what i think too. Heck, anyone can swing a sword, but shaping / manipulating magical energies, that's hard. If anything requires a check, it's that. :)

-Fizz


Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:38 pm
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Ungern
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
Seems to me that between spell resistance (SR) and saving throws, magic already has an in-built chance of failure (at least against powerful beasties). But I do like the idea of 'on the fly' spell-casting, with possible mis-fires!


Thu Aug 17, 2017 1:47 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
capmarvel wrote:
Well, my fighter has to roll to succeed...why shouldn't the wizard have to rollt to succeed? Fair is fair. :)



Because your fighter gets to try all day long. The spellcasters have a very finite number of tries. Plus, there is a HUGE difference in failing to get off a Web, Fireballl, etc... than one single swing of a weapon. If Spellcasters have to roll to get off a spell, then take out Saves.

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Since its 20,000 I suggest "Captain Nemo" as his title. Beyond the obvious connection, he is one who sails on his own terms and ignores those he doesn't agree with...confident in his journey and goals.
Sounds obvious to me! -Gm Michael

Grand Knight Commander of the Society.


Thu Aug 17, 2017 9:38 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
I have used spell slots per the CKG for a few years very happily. I was afraid at first that it would make spell casters too powerful, but in practice I haven't had any issues with giving them more flexibility. To be fair, I don't think I've had any players using spell slots for PCs over 6th or 7th level. It might be a bigger issue at higher levels.

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Thu Aug 17, 2017 11:03 pm
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
Treebore wrote:
capmarvel wrote:
Well, my fighter has to roll to succeed...why shouldn't the wizard have to rollt to succeed? Fair is fair. :)



Because your fighter gets to try all day long. The spellcasters have a very finite number of tries. Plus, there is a HUGE difference in failing to get off a Web, Fireballl, etc... than one single swing of a weapon. If Spellcasters have to roll to get off a spell, then take out Saves.


I actually like the idea of skill checks to successfully cast. However - insert my normal I don't have huge experience with running a mage or gming a magic heavy game etc etc etc - Plus, my default setting is lower magic than the average standard. With that, what may fit in my idea would be to much of a ham string in a setting like the Realms etc.

To me I see it like Barlog rolling a 2 and missing the evil hobgoblin war leader with 'Elf-bane' Aeschelon's magic bow missing the Gnoll getting ready to back attack Lupa, Lupa failing the save VS fear and running from the fight against more bad guys with higher level than our party, and all the other critical misses the fighters have in the numerous fights we have been in. They are worrisome, build suspense and remind us we aren't super heroes.

However, I wouldn't have a failed check burn the spell slot and keep the caster from being able to cast that critical fire ball, just delay the eventual successful casting - burning your 1 chance to cast fire ball on a roll of 3 would just be too cruel even for an evil bastage like me .

The flip side of it though is I'm not sure I like the idea of spell saving throws & spell resistance too. That just seems unfair to me and having a skill check to canst, a saving throw to avoid, and spell resistance to have the spell wash over the monster with no effect is just too much stacking the deck against the spell casters.

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Fri Aug 18, 2017 2:34 am
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Lore Drake

Joined: Mon Feb 19, 2007 8:00 am
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
Treebore wrote:
Because your fighter gets to try all day long. The spellcasters have a very finite number of tries.


Ah, but when we (or at least myself) propose the skill check solution, we mean to replace the Vancian system- there is no table. So the wizard can try all day long, just like the fighter can.

Quote:
Plus, there is a HUGE difference in failing to get off a Web, Fireballl, etc... than one single swing of a weapon. If Spellcasters have to roll to get off a spell, then take out Saves.


Given that some spells are potentially far more potent than any single swing of a weapon, then i think it makes sense to keep Saves, regardless of casting system. Otherwise, magic could become too dominant.

-Fizz


Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:32 pm
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Lore Drake

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
Lurker wrote:
I actually like the idea of skill checks to successfully cast. However - insert my normal I don't have huge experience with running a mage or gming a magic heavy game etc etc etc - Plus, my default setting is lower magic than the average standard. With that, what may fit in my idea would be to much of a ham string in a setting like the Realms etc.


I run lower magic settings myself, and i find that the casting system works pretty well, for what it's worth. All depends on what you're used to and what you can tolerate i guess. :)

Quote:
The flip side of it though is I'm not sure I like the idea of spell saving throws & spell resistance too. That just seems unfair to me and having a skill check to canst, a saving throw to avoid, and spell resistance to have the spell wash over the monster with no effect is just too much stacking the deck against the spell casters.


Your perspective is interesting. For me, i guess i have always considered magic resistance the same as damage resistance- something that helps you after you've been hit. The attack roll and spellcasting check are kind of the same thing: whether the action successful. Then armor class and saving throws are what help you avoid the sword or spell respectively, and then resistance applies afterwards. So i've thought of them in a parallel kind of way.

-Fizz


Fri Aug 18, 2017 6:39 pm
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Hlobane Orc

Joined: Wed Jun 05, 2013 10:27 pm
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
Well, one way to look at it is:

- I am the fighter, I am rolling to succeed in hitting you.
- I am the wizard, you rolling to see if I succeed in hitting you (your save roll).

Why aren't both attacks rolled by the attacker?


Sat Aug 19, 2017 8:44 pm
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Hlobane Orc
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
The problem with pure mana systems with many spells as written is the scaling... if my low-level spell which costs 1 does as much as my high level spell which costs 3, why am I going to spend 3 to do what can be dobe with 1?

What 5e did (and it is based on 3.5's psionics) was divorce power increases of spells from level... a magic missile only cost 1 point, but it only did d4+1 damage with pumping in more than 1 point. Hackmaster does similar, subjecting all spells to increased cost for increased effects.

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Sat Aug 19, 2017 9:42 pm
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Mogrl

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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
I usually go with some kind of check for casting success and then a burn on failure, similar in concept to Shadowrun's mana system where an attribute governs the maximum effect level, in theory.


Mon Aug 21, 2017 7:26 pm
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Hlobane Orc
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
FWIW, I don't think of the rules as written as "fire and forget." I use that system, but I think of it differently. I think of it as, spells take a lot of time to cast, and many need special items to cast... not even necessarily hard to acquire but still things they need (like dirt to cast any spell involving death, or sulfur for any spell involving fire). So when the wizard/cleric is preparing a spell, what she is really doing is getting the supplies she needs (she can't pack enough supplies for every spell in one pouch!) and preparing spells "part way" so that there is very little required for casting.

In that way, magic missile can be cast in a single round. Otherwise, casting a spell that creates energy, forms it into the shape of a missile (and makes it visible!), and hits its target unerringly might take a very long to time to do. It only takes one round because of the "prep work."

That said, I also like the "spell slots" system; I've used it before with Mentzer D&D back in the day.

I like systems where spellcasting is fatiguing. Most of the fantasy books and movies I like have spells wear wizards out. They sometimes can even faint from the exertion. But I have no idea of how to do something like that in C&C.


Sun Sep 03, 2017 6:08 am
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Greater Lore Drake
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Post Re: non-Vancian magic
We use simple spell slots. Same number of spells to cast per "day" as in the PH, but you can have in memory 1.5x that many spells in memory. Spells in memory do not go away with the use of a spell slot. Thus magic missle need only be in memory once to cast it as many times as you have slots.

We convert any level cleric spell to healing of HD = lvl + WIS bonus and level of caster (we hate waiting all day to heal).

We find this gives the caster more options but the same number of spells. Also the whole system is done in a few paragraphes and examples.

We have not played much above 10th lvl so it has not gotten out of hand yet.

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Sun Sep 03, 2017 12:48 pm
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