Adept Spell casting Mechanic

So, the Adept’s spellcasting mechanic was spell points but I found that this was too tedious and required far too much book-keeping, since it was pretty well expected that an Adept’s spell points amy go up and down pretty much constantly. The idea of this isn’t what I want to change; the frequency and scope of the changes is really does push it over the edge into tediousness, I feel. What I want is unity-scale addition and subtraction, where losing or gaining a “spell point” is actually noteworthy. The points will still approximately measure how much power the Adept is basically capable of using, but instead of being currency in the traditional sense, it will more likely represent exhaustion, depletion, etc. throughout the day. I’m going to call this system the Stratum power mechanic, since again the points are representing the level of the Adept’s current power.

I’m thinking I’ll balance this around the number 5 as a fairly stiff upper limit against which Adepts will have to run. Incidentally, this solves one of the more cumbersome issues I was dealing with in the old system- spell level. In this system, Adept spells will also have a Stratum level which will also be their “Circle” (spell level) if they need conversion for use by wizards, or vice-versa.

The Five Maximum Strata also keeps Adepts on the intended power curve of most classes- fifth level is when most of them drop off gainin

This may seem like the Adepts only get access to fifth level spells maximum. While general usage will basically limit them to that, there will be ways to inflate Strata temporarily (and dangerously) for casting big spells. In general, however, the casting of spells greater than 5th with any reliability is left to the Wizard and possibly Sorcerer (more on them later).

Core Rules

Adepts now have a depletable resource called Strata, representing approximately their present magical ability. Spells also have associated Strata, analogous to Spell Level or Spell Circle, which represents the magical power needed to perform the spell. The Adept can not cast a spell unless they are at or above the Stratum of the spell.

  • This is meant to make the Adept run out of juice faster than the Wizard does. In the Wizard rewrite I’m working on, they will be able to cast any Circle/level spell with any slot (with a corresponding bonus or penalty), have access to spell recall, and thus presumably keep up their spell casting a very long time at moderate risk to themselves. The Adept can’t even take this risk but won’t have any mishaps to worry about, just the loss of their powers as the day goes on.

The Adept must beat 10+Spell Stratum on the spell casting roll to successfully cast the spell. The Adept adds their current Stratum to all their spell casting rolls.

  • Having them add their Stratum to the roll AND having the roll based on Spell Stratum may seem needlessly complex, but I feel like the reliability of their lower level spells should also decrease throughout the day.

Strata is regained at the rate of 1 Stratum per night’s rest, back to maximum.

  • Another limit on their power- a lot of fighting can severely hamper an Adept’s spell casting for longer periods of time. The wizard just needs a night’s rest and is ready to go. Strata can even go negative, in certain situations.

Some Adept classes will be able to meditate during a watch to try and gain 1 Stratum, temporarily exceeding their normal limit above. There are other ways to gain Strata temporarily.

  • See: drugs, observances.

I think the roll breakdown will look like this:

Target or Greater: Successful Cast
Target-5 or Greater: Cast, loss of 1 Stratum
Target-5 or Less: Failure, loss of 1 Stratum
Target-10 Natural 1 : Failure, loss of Stratum equal to Stratum Level

Corollaries and Scaling Powers

Many of my Adept spells as written have variable costs based on the size of the magic at hand. For example, the Purify spell may purify X man-days of food, where the cost is Triangle Number X. I can adapt this by making the Strata of the spell X and purify Tr X man-days of food, for example. The power increases, but because the Adept can only go to Tr 5 = 15 which enforces a natural limit.

Corollaries will still exist, I think, but manifest as negative modifiers to the spell casting roll or an upfront Strata cost. In fact, I think the can range from mechanical stuff to obscure rites or materials. I think it fits the notion of Adept spells as accumulated ritual and religious practice, as opposed to the rigid formulae of wizard spells.

Example of a re-worked class: The Dark Druid

Alternate Mechanic For Sorcerers: Strain

Strain functions similarly, except that Strain goes up through the day instead of down. To cast a spell of a certain Strata/Circle, you must have Strain equal to half the spell level, round up. Each point of Strain (past the first) also increases the range of critical failure by 1. So a Sorcerer with 4 strain can cast 8th level spells, but will have to roll on the Mishap table on a natural 1-4. Strain goes down 1d6+1 when resting (min. 1) and increases whenever an even number is rolled for a spell casting roll, excepting critical failures. Strain can increase indefinitely.

This, I think, is a fairly elegant way to adapt the Sorcerer. They now have to “rev up” to cast their more powerful spells and casting those spells is increasingly dangerous. Adding Strain to the spell casting roll also gives them a way to cast their highest level spells, which wasn’t always the case before.



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