Saturday, November 17, 2007

Spell Synergies

I had a neat (and probably unworkable) idea yesterday about the d20 spell system that would likely require too much work for me to actually write up fully, but I thought I'd share it.

Here's the idea. You cast a primary spell and (assuming you know a spell that has synergy with it) you can cast the secondary spell at the same time (expending both spell slots). The trick is that the secondary spell modifies the first one in some way.

When you gain a level (or every third level, or whatever) you can take a single spell synergy. Some spells can synergize with other specific spells. Here are a few examples:
  • A large number of buff-type spells (Mage Armor, Bull's Strength, Haste, etc) can synergize with any of the Summon Monster spells. When you cast a Summon Monster spell that is synergized with one of these spells, you cast both spells and the buff spell is cast upon the creatures you summon. If the buff spell has a range of touch, then the creatures summoned must be within your reach for the buff to be cast upon them.
  • Most Detect X spells can synergize with Prying Eyes or Scrying spells. I think it is obvious how that would work.
  • Hold Person might have synergy with, say, Shocking Grasp. You cast both at the same time, and if the Shocking Grasp does damage, the target is subject to the Hold Person effect as well.
It is the whole going-through-the-entire-spell-list thing that would be too much work for me.

Why I think this is cool: it would be an easy way to allow arcane casters to have some fairly unique effects. I'd allow generalist wizards to have complete freedom in picking their synergies. Specialist wizards could only use spell synergies in which at least one of the spells was from their specialty school.

Personally, I'd probably allow sorcerers as much freedom as wizards (since I think sorcerers to be a bit underpowered), but I would worry that spontaneous casting and these synergies might be a bit too nice. Perhaps I would just give them less of them - or require extra casting time.


Infamous Jum said...

There is already some precedent for this, at least in the first example; the feat Augment Summoning adds +4 Strength/Con to creatures you summon, basically casting Bull's Strength and Bear's Endurance on the creature. I'm a big fan of allowing more customization for wizards. I've been toying with an idea to super-generalize magic. Wizards get a limit of points to spend on magic effects, and the cost depends on size and strength, like X points can alter Y cubic feet in some way. This way you don't need to know a specific spell in order to say, turn stone to mud. It also lets low level spell casters have big time effects, at the cost of long-term usefullness.

Wiz of Ice said...

Awesome idea! And yoinked!

szilard said...

Jum - I'm familiar with Augment Summoning. A similar mechanic is used in some feats in Complete Mage - where all spells of a particular school (or subschool) you cast gain an additional effect. My goal here was to come up with something a bit more specialized (connecting two spells at a time only) which could be fairly unique to each caster. I think one of the things that bugs me about arcane casting in D&D is how everyone casts pretty-much identical spells. I like customization.

Wiz - glad you like it!