Adventures in Underdark
|Spell Lvl||Character Lvl||Buff/De-Buff|
Here are the spell effects and some of my recommendations:
The levels of the condition track are:
Positive Conditions Negative Conditions
Benefit or Limitation
Advantage or Disadvantage
Boon or Constraint
You may only have one level on each track in effect. You may also only be affected by one positive condition and one negative condition. Therefore, if the party is affected by a skill limitation condition. The PC will only change the limitation by providing a more powerful and temporary condition, until this condition is removed.
The advantages of the positive conditions are:
Benefit: +1 bonus to Attacks, Defenses, or Damage – Maximum stacked effect from bonuses: +2
Advantage: +2 bonus to Attacks, Defenses or Damage – Maximum Stacked effect from bonsues: +4
Boon: +4 bonus to Attacks, Defenses, or Damage plus Critical Hit – Maximum stacked effect from bonuses: +6 (stacks with 1st -3rd)
The penalties of the negative conditions are:
Benefit: -1 penalty to Attacks, Defenses, or Damage – Maximum penalty from stacked penalties: -2
Disadvantage: -2 penalty to Attacks, Defenses, or Damage – Maximum penalty from stacked penalties: -4
Bane: -4 penalty to Attacks, Defenses, or Damage plus Critical Miss – Maximum penalty from stacked penalties: -6 (stacks with 1st-3rd)
It is worth noting that the boon is available significantly sooner than the Bane. Some boons are currently granted as a an “extra attack” such as with Cleve, Haste, Manyshot, Rapid Shot and Whirlwind Attack. This is also represented in effects such as through the feat Spirited Charge, or class abilities such as Opportunist. On the Bane side, there are effects like Defensive Roll, Deflect Arrow, Evasion, Improved Evasion, Mettle, Snatch Arrow, Mounted Combat, and Spring Attack.
Alter Self, Polymorph Self, Polymorph Other, Shape Change
At their heart these are buff spells, and they are very, very overpowered compared to other buffs of the level. There is the “threat” of thse providing some inherent limitations to the character, but they really have no tactical bearing. Either these are all no-brainer spells for their level and all other buffs falter, or these need to be pulled in line. I pulled them in line.
Pathfinder: Giant Form, Form of the Dragon, Beast Form, Elemental Body (perfectly aligned with buffs),
Scrying, Greater Scrying, Greater Prying Eyes, Discern Location
Augury, Divination, Commune, Commune with Nature, Stone Tell, Find the Path, True Seeing, Detect Magic, Read Magic, Tongues, Know Alignment, Zone of Truth
Why should these be so much more powerful than Gather Information or Diplomacy or a Knowledge skill check? I’m not a big fan of “absolutes” in the game. These deter from roleplaying, and end up being used as shortcuts, even encouraging the players to stall and cajole the casters into using them to “fast-forward” the plot. A slight change to make these skill-based challenges both align this better with other characters abilities and don’t make these an “absolute” success for the players when casting. Low level detect spells should work the same way, these are all pointed as means to “gather information” or improve knowledge. The success of a spell may come with “less” of a consequence, but there is an opportunity for there to be a success/consequence mechanic with information.
Recommendation – could these be treated as “absolutes” on the Knowledge and Location charts (together), with success on use of action then both tables, but with failure, no benefit – the risk is the loss of an action, perhaps a small penalty/consequence
Pathfinder: Commune, Contact Other Plane, Commune with Nature, Augury (developed commune table that alters the chance of successful answer, but risk of Cha/Int damage -debuff), Find the Path (intact), Scrying (intact, save),
Trailblazer: Everything left intact with Action Points and Rest changing the “economy” and need to be as concerned about these spells.
Arcana Evolved: Location Loresight (very specific answers pre-d),
Daze, Daze Monster, Fear, Calm, Charm Person, Command, Command Undead, Suggestion, Charm Monster, Greater Command, Magic Jar, Mass Suggestion, Symbol of Persuasion, Mass Charm Monster, Sleep, Deep Slumber, Symbol of Sleep, Sound Burst, Scintillating Pattern, Power Word, Stun, Symbol of Stunning, Feeblemind, Tasha’s Unconrollable Hideous Laughter,
Otto’s Irresistable Dance, Otiluke’s Resilient Sphere, Forcecage, Mind Fog, Maze, Evard’s Black Tentacles, Holy Word, Blasphemy, Word of Chaos, Control Undead, Imprisonment, Dominate Monster, Mass Hold Monster
By far the most powerful economy in the tactical game is that of actions. Any spells that limit, negate, or prevent actions are extremely powerful, particularly at higher levels, when the threat of losing all actions in a single blow is significantly diminished from any other source. I like handling these as a high-risk, high-reward debuff. These are all direct debuffs, comparable in effect to their level, but many are high-risk, high-reward actions that if successful result (like disintegrate) result in a powerful de-buff that affects an opponent (or group of opponents) to challenge both mental awareness (Surprise) and Mental Perseverance (Will to Act).
Daze, Daze Monster, Command, Sleep, Deep Slumber, Sound Burst, and Tasha’s Uncontrollable Hideous Laughter
Treat all as low level banes that affect only an action, and generally are for one action only, or until successful save (save each round).
Treat as mid level bane that will be encounter length without direct intervention.
Otto’s, Maze, Holy Word, Blasphemy, PW Stun, Imprison, Mass Suggestion, Mass Charm Monster, Symbol of Persuasion, Maze, Earthquake
Treat all as high level banes, -4 to attacks, defenses, and damage, with a “use or lose” component for an action – Area Effect (Multiple Targets), Duration Length
Pathfinder – confusion is 25% chance to act normal/25% to attack/25% attack self/25% lose action, Daze (4HD, 7HD), PW:Stun (1d4 -4d4 rds, 150hp),
Phantasmal Killer, Slay Living, Circle of Death, Destruction, Power Word, Kill, Finger of Death, Wail of the Banshee. Implosion, Weird, Trap the Soul, Implosion, Flesh to Stone, Earthquake
Again, as above, anything that can instantly eliminate a threat is radically more powerful than most spells of the level. These are the classic high-risk, high-reward play, and I think the 3.5 version of disintegrate handled this line the best, and provided us with a superior model for balance.
Pathfinder: Wail, Implosion, Finger (10 hp dam/level), Slay Living (12d6), PW:K (intact at 100), Phant Killer, Weird (intact, two saves), Circle of Death (HD affected, HD cap), TtS: intact (save), FtS (intact, save), Earthquake (no insta)
Limited Wish and Wish
Equivalent to duplicate anything of spell level -1 or equivalent to spell level and/or made up with DM approval for -1 Con (Temp)
AoE Dispel Magic at caster level, does not discriminate (affects each individual aura in the area), doesn’t affect magic items, up to 25th level
Minor Globe, Globe of Invuln, Spell Resistance, Anti-magic Shell, Holy Aura, Spell Immunity, Greater Spell Immunity
These should all be buff spells that grant saves vs. all spells +2 to saves vs. all spells and spell-like abilities or +4 to saves vs. spells and spell like abilities, as well as granting the “evasion/mettle” effect that if you suceed on the saving throw the spell has no effect. All those that are short duration affect an “area” for one encounter (1 rd/lvl), while those that are single target buffs affect one target for an adventure (1 turn/lvl).
Heal and Mass Heal
This has a HUGE effect and seems completely out of line with all 1st – 5th healing spells. Pull it back in line and increase the tension.
Heal – single target, heals 6d8+2/lvl (max 15th level – +30)
Mass Heal – multiple target, same as heal (make this a +2 metamagic effect for any healing)
Haste grants a minor (1st-3rd) advantage: +1 to Attack, AC, and Reflex Saves and increase your base movement by 10 feet (40 feet/80 feet run) – affects multiple targets in an area (30 foot radius burst from caster) and lasts one encounter (1 rd/lvl)
Mass Haste (6th level) – +2 to Attack, AC, and Reflex Saves and increases ALL movement including through magical forms by 10 feet – affects multiple targets in an area (30 foot radius burst from caster) and lasts for one encounter (1 rd/lvl)
So, I would challenge you to think why you find this to be your favorite spell? You know how fun it is for yoru PC’s to lose Con or levels. Yeah, that’s not cool. These are all debuffs at their heart, and should be pulled in line with other debuffs of their level
Hedging effects – Sanctuary, Pro Evil, Withdrawal, Anti Magic Shell, Anti Animal Shell, Anti Life Shell, Wall of Force, Etherealness
Creates a wall effect that can be brought down by triggering action (attack), dispel magic, or it DOES NOT work both ways ever
A very simple and palpable nerf bat. All spells grant saves, period.The problem with the statement is you’ve “negated” the effect of half-dozen spells (lower effects/higher requirements, but no save as a result). As long as you’re fair and consistent up front, it’s pretty easy to recover. A few NOTABLE examples:
Magic Missile – easy fix is 1d6 damage/lvl
Ice Storm – easy fix is 1d6 damage/lvl
Reverse Gravity – should grant a save, intended to be a powerful movement debuff
Forcecage – should grant a save to be trapped, then a powerful targeting debuff
Maze – too tough as a debuff anyway (should only eliminate full round action, save ends…perhaps no save first round, it is 8th lvl)
Power Word, Stun – same as maze
Irresistible Dance – Same as maze
Power Word, Kill – easy fix is identical to Disintegrate (2d6/lvl), but up to 60d6 cap instead of 40d6 cap.
Time Stop – this should get nuked as an “action” buff anyway that would not grant MORE than one bonus “full round” of actions.
Bigby’s – these don’t require a save, but do require a touch attack. Flip it to save instead, drop the touch attack – that’s just an ‘exploit".
Dispel Magic/Mord Disjunction – this is worth a discussion
Anti-magic Shell – this is worth a discussion
Foresight – never surpirsed – I think I’m ok with this, as it’s more of a “defense”
That’ll cover most of the primary spell concerns in the SRD. These aren’t saves vs. death, most are saves vs Will or Fort.
Stat Drain and Level Drain – so I’m not a big fan of these in general (enervation=also no save). The easy way to handle is treat these as a comparable debuff, most at this level only last an encounter. At lvl 4-6 it could last an adventure. At lvl 7-9, it could be a “perm” debuff until restored or atoned. Keep it simple though. There are 5 things you can debuff (attack, damage, AC, movement, and actions). I would say that the debuffs are in the neighborhood of “either/or”. I would make most of these affects “in addition to” kind of effects with creatures such as undead, as would be applicable.
For example – A group of 7th level (7 HD) ghouls with paralyzing touch. These ghouls do a chilling touch attack for 1d6+3 (x2), each, and a movement debuff that stacks (-1 move) to zero. They have paralyzing bite that can only be used on a player with movement = zero, it deals 2d4+4 damage and is a paralysis debuff.