Spell power progression scale

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Spell power progression scale

Post by Dehumanizer » Sat Jan 11, 2020 3:51 pm

I am trying to understand the reasoning the reasoning for the spell power progression scale. Most spells, but not them all, use the following power progression scale in steps of rolled values above the fail threshold: 2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2.

For instance, most spells of first level/circle progress in the following tiers:
1 (missfire)
2-11 (fail)
12-13 (+2 values above the fail threshold)
14-17 (+4 values)
18-19 (+2)
20-23 (+4)
24-27 (+4)
28-29 (+2)
30-31 (+2)
32+ ...

In most cases, it looks like the steps of 2 values go together with steps of 4 values. It’s like the first in the pair introduces a new effect, and the second increases the power, length or duration of the first. There are many exceptions, but the majority of the spells look like that.

Is there any reason for this scale, or it’s just an arbitrary scale that was propagated on as the spells were being written?

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Jim Skach » Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:08 am

I'm fascinated by this question for a number of reasons...

1) Who answers.
2) Who CAN answer.
3) In what way does this matter?

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by GnomeBoy » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:33 am

I'd guess that through the extensive playtesting that happened before the game was released, what we wound up with was the version that was the most fun. I don't think the game is driven by mathematics -- it's driven by the experience it creates.
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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Dehumanizer » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:43 pm

Though this scale feels quite arbitrary and not simple to memorise, it appears in most the spells. Why not something more simple, like the same step size for all spell effects, or even steps growing in size as the effects become more powerful?
GnomeBoy wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:33 am
I'd guess that through the extensive playtesting that happened before the game was released, what we wound up with was the version that was the most fun. I don't think the game is driven by mathematics -- it's driven by the experience it creates.
I agree that this must have come up in the playtesting, but I can't figure out myself why and how.
Jim Skach wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:08 am
3) In what way does this matter?
I think it makes the game more dynamic the less we have to go through multiple tables during the game. If there was a single power scale for all spells which was easy to remember, in many cases we could rule out the effects straight away. It would also be very handy to design new spells. Actually, I have noticed this strange scale whilst trying to figure out how to properly write new spells.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Jim Skach » Sun Jan 12, 2020 7:11 pm

One man's trash is another man's treasure.

Also, there is not a rule in the world that says the pattern you've sussed out is required for any new spell. I've used it, but that's because I'm lazy as hell and assume that those playtesters Gnome mentions got it just about right for maximum fun. But I've seen so many variations on the core in 3rd party stuff that twist things to 11 on the fun scale, I hold none of the things like that in the core as sacred.

So make your spell the way YOU want it to work. Let go. Lean in. Have fun.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by rytrasmi » Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:37 am

I don't know the actual reason why this is, but it does add another dimension to the spells. The below is probably obvious but...

Suppose you went up by 3's consistently. All spell effects have the same probability, assuming they are within range of the die rolled plus modifiers. You're just as likely to roll a 13 as you are a 20.

With 2's and 4's, you have different likelihoods, smaller and larger buckets so to speak. The 14-17 effect is twice as likely to happen as the 12-13 effect.

This causes spells to have effects that are more or less likely, independent of whether the effects are powerful or weak. You can have a weak effect that's rare, or a strong effect that's common or vice versa. It's another variable in the unpredictable nature of magic.

Extreme example, Generic Fireball:

1 misfire
2-11 fail
12 your hair catches fire and burns both you and the enemy for 1d6 dmg
13-20 you launch a fireball for 1d12 dmg

OR

1 misfire
2-11 fail
12-15 your hair catches fire and burns both you and the enemy for 1d6 dmg
16-20 you launch a fireball for 1d12 dmg

You'd never cast the second one. You would cast the first one and possibly provide some entertainment 5% of the time. Obviously this is a contrived example. But I would guess the intent of the 2's and 4's was to add to the unpredictability.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Dehumanizer » Fri Jan 17, 2020 1:05 am

rytrasmi wrote:
Thu Jan 16, 2020 10:37 am
This causes spells to have effects that are more or less likely, independent of whether the effects are powerful or weak. You can have a weak effect that's rare, or a strong effect that's common or vice versa. It's another variable in the unpredictable nature of magic.
I think this makes some sense, but as far as I remember -- I don't have the book here with me -- the steps of 2 values are normally just a small amplification of the steps of 4 values. Furthermore, most spells progress in power as you roll higher. Just a few have particularly random effects. If this is the case, players would not care much about the steps of 2 values, because they don't have the tendency to bring any new weird and rare effects.

I think those steps of 2 enhancing the effects of the steps of 4 would feel more random if the judge were rolling the spell casting in secret, and describing the effects without all the metagaming statistics, such as duration and number of dices for damage. I mean, in this case magic would be even more mysterious. However, in my opinion, this takes away player's prerogative, the feeling of character control by the players.

I think effect rarity, as suggested by rytrasmi , could be an interesting feature for spell design, but I don't think it has been used as such. I am not convinced, but I might use it in spells I design for DCC. Thanks, rytrasmi !

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by rytrasmi » Fri Jan 17, 2020 7:51 am

Good point! I did not consider that it is usually introduction then amplification of an effect.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Dehumanizer » Sun Jan 19, 2020 4:24 am

In the zine Crawl! v.01 there is a suggestion for converting D&D spells to DCC. As usual, the base DC is (10 + 2x spell level), and they name four spell power levels: minimum, normal, maximum, and enhanced. The idea is that you get a spell description from any edition of D&D, or any retroclone, and split the power into those levels, which have the following dice roll steps: "2, 4, 2, +". For a first level spell it would be:

1 fumble
2-11 failure
12-13 minimum effect
14-17 normal effect, as in spell description for D&D
18-19 maximum
20+ enhanced

I think it neat to name the spell levels, because it makes it easier to remember effects in the game. Less need to check tables during game. However, just four power tiers is very limited. Nevertheless, the this idea for easy conversion is very clever!

A conversion example from D&D 5e to DCC:
Magic Missile from D&D 5e wrote:You create three glowing darts of magical force. Each dart hits a creature of your choice that you can see within range. A dart deals 1d4 + 1 force damage to its target. The darts all strike simultaneously, and you can direct them to hit one creature or several.
At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a spell slot of 2nd level or higher, the spell creates one more dart for each slot above 1st.
One could do:

minimum flavour: 1 weak dart causing 1 damage
normal: A dart deals 1d4 + 1 force damage to its target, as spell description.
maximum: 1d4 magic darts causing 1d4 + 1 force damage
enhanced: 1d4 magic darts causing 1d6 + 2 force damage

which is not far away from the spell description in DCC.

I think naming the spell power levels is a very good guideline.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Jim Skach » Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:34 am

Force damage?

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Bobjester » Fri Jan 24, 2020 8:46 am

Jim Skach wrote:
Sun Jan 19, 2020 6:34 am
Force damage?
5e categorizes types of damage, so you have: Piercing, Slashing, Bludgeoning, Fire, Cold, Lightning, Acid, Poison, Necrotic, Force.

I've never really seen how different types of damage affect the character via wounds, but I assumed that when (whether by spell or potion, etc.) a single instance of healing is applied, it only cures one type of damage. In my 5e campaign, I had a house rule that stated that Necrotic damage could only be healed after a week's long rest, instead of 5e's standard 8 hour long rest.

However, for DCC, I'd ditch the damage types altogether.
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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Dehumanizer » Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:30 am

My understanding is that those types of damage apply to cases in which creatures are immune (no damage), resistant (half damage) or vulnerable (double damage) to certain types of damage.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Jim Skach » Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:26 am

Are those all 5e terms?

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Bobjester » Mon Jan 27, 2020 9:16 am

Jim Skach wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 8:26 am
Are those all 5e terms?
They are present in 5e, but I don't know if they originated there, or in any previous edition of D&D.
Dehumanizer wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 7:30 am
My understanding is that those types of damage apply to cases in which creatures are immune (no damage), resistant (half damage) or vulnerable (double damage) to certain types of damage.
Oh yes. The obvious - which I obviously missed. :oops:

The concept of monsters and even characters being immune to certain types of attacks have been present in the game since Chainmail (elves were immune to ghoul's paralysis effect, as a single example).
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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Jim Skach » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:47 am

Yes...I understand how they've been in D&D and for how long. I'm asking because I don't understand why they would apply here.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Dehumanizer » Tue Jan 28, 2020 4:56 am

Jim Skach wrote:
Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:47 am
Yes...I understand how they've been in D&D and for how long. I'm asking because I don't understand why they would apply here.
They do only if you want. Those things were around since the early editions of D&D, but 5e formalised the damage types on a list, and they are explicitly written alongside any attack statistics. Before, these damage types were just less explicit than they are now in 5e. You can find damage types in DCC, if you look around, specially in descriptions of monsters, spells and magic items. You can make your players care more or less about this. In my opinion, most of them are obvious (fire resistance spells, or skeletons having "protection" against piercing weapons), so I prefer them being implicit in the game mechanics rather than explicit in every action.

We are discussing "force" attack here, just because I was demonstrating the method shown in the Crawl! zine for converting spells from any D&D book to DCC. I used the Magic Missile spell from D&D 5e as an example, and have shown how similar to the DCC version the converted spell becomes. The "force" word was in the text.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Jim Skach » Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:37 am

I'm being obtuse. So I'll drop that line of approach and be more direct.

IMHO, worrying too much about the logical reasoning behind the specific progression of spell effects kinda misses the point of DCC.

Let go. Just. Let. Go.

Lean in to DCC. Lean in hard. Lean in to spell effect progression that has no logical reasoning . Lean into results that take your game in directions you never dreamed. Make up a reason that's totally out of left field for some rule that doesn't, to you, on its face look logical. You like a spell from 5e? Excellent - to make it DCC I personally wouldn't try to minimize levels of effect, I'd expand!

Let the Phlogiston take you where it will....

YMMV, FWIW, etc.

And just so we're on the same page, formally classifying damage in a list goes back quite a bit longer than 5e.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by rytrasmi » Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:51 am

Jim Skach wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:37 am
to make it DCC I personally wouldn't try to minimize levels of effect, I'd expand!
Hear, hear!
Dehumanizer wrote: 1 fumble
2-11 failure
12-13 minimum effect
14-17 normal effect, as in spell description for D&D
18-19 maximum
20+ enhanced
I don't know how this gets closer to the goal of memorizing spell charts. Isn't a name is just another thing to remember :? I could in theory remember the numbers maybe and perhaps these names, but I'd definitely still have to look up the effect (I'm getting old you know). Look at Monster Summoning or Phantasm with their giant blocks of text describing various effects. What you're proposing is fine for a straight damage spell, but those are pretty boring IMO. Roll higher = do more damage. Meh. The neat thing about DCC's Magic Missile is the range and targeting possibilities. Sure it's great to do more damage and get more missiles, but that isn't what makes the spell interesting.
Dehumanizer wrote:
Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:43 pm
I think it makes the game more dynamic the less we have to go through multiple tables during the game. If there was a single power scale for all spells which was easy to remember, in many cases we could rule out the effects straight away.
Okay if you want to speed play, but there is a trade off to ruling out spell effects based on memorized effect levels. What about manifestations? Those don't follow any rhyme or reason. So Word of Command didn't have an effect. But maybe the Cleric's booming voice had another unintended effect, like waking up the undead gnomes in the next room. Had it manifested as flaming words maybe that wouldn't have happened. Magic Missile has some interesting manifestations, too, that could also make the story more fun even if it doesn't wound the monster. Many spells have other little story-propelling details to them that I could not ever imagine memorizing.

I find the Grimoire solution good enough. To each, their own. Play how you wanna play!

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Dehumanizer » Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:12 pm

Jim Skach wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:37 am
IMHO, worrying too much about the logical reasoning behind the specific progression of spell effects kinda misses the point of DCC.

Let go. Just. Let. Go.

Lean in to DCC. Lean in hard. Lean in to spell effect progression that has no logical reasoning . Lean into results that take your game in directions you never dreamed. Make up a reason that's totally out of left field for some rule that doesn't, to you, on its face look logical. You like a spell from 5e? Excellent - to make it DCC I personally wouldn't try to minimize levels of effect, I'd expand!

Let the Phlogiston take you where it will....
I really recommend this blog post, and it is where my understanding of RPG game mechanics comes from.

Yes, the game mechanics (=game system) influences the flavour of the game, because it influences decisions players make, specially new players. If we play with very minimalistic game mechanics, there are very minimal choices of actions for players to make within the designed game mechanics. If we play with a dense game mechanics, full of rules to dig up holes in the ground, combat manoeuvres, or brewing potions, the game becomes very complex and confusing. We have to keep track of so many little rules, and to do so much bookkeeping that the game feels much more like work than fun. The DCC system has those random tables that, that introduce complexity to the system without having to make specific complex rules. The complex effects/actions happen by chance. This is a good trade-off, and this is fun! I like it a lot. Yet, no RPG system is sufficiently well tested, so that is totally clean of "bugs".

I myself don't like when the game mechanics interferes with the flow of the game too much. My players get very confused with some aspects with the game, but not others. They get specially confused with the spell system. I like the spell system; I like how it is designed; I like to roll dice to get different effects -- this is brilliant! Yet, for some reason, my game slows down every time a spell is cast. The players get confused, and they look like they are feeling like they were somehow stupid. I don't like that. If you have to stop the round of combat to read more than three sentences to introduce something to the action, something is wrong.
rytrasmi wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 10:51 am
I don't know how this gets closer to the goal of memorizing spell charts. Isn't a name is just another thing to remember :? I could in theory remember the numbers maybe and perhaps these names, but I'd definitely still have to look up the effect (I'm getting old you know). Look at Monster Summoning or Phantasm with their giant blocks of text describing various effects. What you're proposing is fine for a straight damage spell, but those are pretty boring IMO. Roll higher = do more damage. Meh. The neat thing about DCC's Magic Missile is the range and targeting possibilities. Sure it's great to do more damage and get more missiles, but that isn't what makes the spell interesting.
I wouldn't say memorising the spell effect would be the goal, but rather making the effects more intuitive based on the spell description and the die roll. Some spells in DCC have effects that are exactly like the previous effect, but they last for 1d6 instead of a 1d4 rounds. These are not different effects, one is only a slightly enhanced effect of the other. It is not adding anything to the game! That is why I don't understand the power scale [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, +]. What does this scale, which is the most common between all spells in the book, adds to the game? Is there something I was not seeing???
Jim Skach wrote:
Tue Jan 28, 2020 5:37 am
to make it DCC I personally wouldn't try to minimize levels of effect, I'd expand!
Exactly! In my opinion, [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, +] is not expanding anything. It just complicates the flow of the game. :? Complexity should arise in the game story, not in the mega-game rules; unless they introduce something important to the development of the game story. The Crawl! article has been very insightful for me to grasp the DCC spell mechanics. It is the best guideline I have found so far of how to design DCC spells. The conversion of Magic Missile from 5e to DCC was just a simple example, because Magic Missile is perhaps the simplest spell in D&D. We should be able to easily convert to DCC any spell from any RPG system, mythology, or our imagination.

I am discussing those things here because I want to improve my game. In how it flows as well as in how it feels.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Jim Skach » Sat Feb 01, 2020 8:01 pm

Dehumanizer wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:12 pm
If you have to stop the round of combat to read more than three sentences to introduce something to the action, something is wrong.
This is a statement of opinion masked as a statement of fact.

So that you don't think I'm speaking from a lack of experience or understanding (which I think you do by linking to that blog post).

When I first played DCC, the rules were still being play-tested. We weren't allowed to keep anything and take it home from GaryCon. But I remembered the gist of the spell approach - roll and get different results.

Now at the time, I had started our group on a S&W game. I was so smitten with DCC (even in these early play tests) I wanted to add stuff from my experience into our game. But I hadn't played a spell caster in the play test and only remembered what I'd see at the table. So I made up this table to add some DCC-ish spell casting to our S&W game:
spell_table_generic.jpg
spell_table_generic.jpg (57.19 KiB) Viewed 771 times
The difference between us is that as soon as DCC came out I switched to it because, well, those spell tables were far more interesting to me and my players. They expanded the game. I leaned in. You're going in the exact opposite direction.
Dehumanizer wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:12 pm
I wouldn't say memorising the spell effect would be the goal, but rather making the effects more intuitive based on the spell description and the die roll. Some spells in DCC have effects that are exactly like the previous effect, but they last for 1d6 instead of a 1d4 rounds. These are not different effects, one is only a slightly enhanced effect of the other. It is not adding anything to the game!
Again, a statement of opinion.
Dehumanizer wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:12 pm
That is why I don't understand the power scale [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, +]. What does this scale, which is the most common between all spells in the book, adds to the game? Is there something I was not seeing???
Haven't you figured it out? The sequence 2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2 is a magic incantation. If you recite this 2,424,422 times while staring into a mirror in a dark room with a single candle lit, the image of Sezrekan will appear in your mirror and grant one wish - as long as the wish involves the pain of another.
Dehumanizer wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:12 pm
Exactly! In my opinion, [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, +] is not expanding anything. It just complicates the flow of the game. :? Complexity should arise in the game story, not in the mega-game rules; unless they introduce something important to the development of the game story.
At least in this case you make it an opinion.
Dehumanizer wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:12 pm
The Crawl! article has been very insightful for me to grasp the DCC spell mechanics. It is the best guideline I have found so far of how to design DCC spells. The conversion of Magic Missile from 5e to DCC was just a simple example, because Magic Missile is perhaps the simplest spell in D&D. We should be able to easily convert to DCC any spell from any RPG system, mythology, or our imagination.

I am discussing those things here because I want to improve my game. In how it flows as well as in how it feels.
I don't think you're going to find the exact answer you want. There is no magic elixir or sequence. Make the spell however you want. Good Luck.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by rytrasmi » Mon Feb 03, 2020 7:54 am

Dehumanizer wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:12 pm
I wouldn't say memorising the spell effect would be the goal, but rather making the effects more intuitive based on the spell description and the die roll. Some spells in DCC have effects that are exactly like the previous effect, but they last for 1d6 instead of a 1d4 rounds. These are not different effects, one is only a slightly enhanced effect of the other. It is not adding anything to the game! That is why I don't understand the power scale [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, +]. What does this scale, which is the most common between all spells in the book, adds to the game? Is there something I was not seeing???
Perhaps the inconsistent but somewhat prevalent* [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, +] pattern is a devious plot to force us to go back to the book from time to time. I'm only half joking. I notice and re-notice things whenever I crack the book. That's a beneficial side-effect, IMO.

Descending AC is not intuitive and adds nothing to the game, IMO. So that's fixed with ascending AC. I'm not seeing the same issue with spell effect patterns.

I think there's a difference between a) rules getting in the way and needlessly slowing things down (I'm looking at you THAC0) and b) consulting a table for random effects. I purposely don't read spell descriptions unless I need to. I enjoy the surprises, even when playing as judge. On the other hand, there's lots of times when I don't bother having players roll for init because the situation doesn't call for it. It would have gotten in the way and possibly run counter to the narrative. Spells don't strike me as something that causes the same problem. Casting a spell is pretty big news. Players can chill for a minute while we decide what happens. I like occasional pauses when I play; it gives me time to do stuff that would otherwise get in the way when things are trucking along.

* I cracked open the book and did a random sampling of 5 or 6 wizard spells and did not see the prevalence of this pattern...I think 1 spell had it.

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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by rytrasmi » Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:22 am

I fell into a rabbit hole on this one.

I think the answer lies in spellburn.

The [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2] pattern means that without spellburn you have a main effect (14-17) shouldered by two less likely worse/better effects (12-13 and 18-19). Oh and plus you get a really good but really unlikely effect on a 20 because without spellburn the 20-23 range of the pattern is not 4 wide it is only 1 wide. Makes intuitive sense, right? It's a mini normal distribution (outside of failure).

Spellburn of 1-3 means you are cranking up the chance of getting that powerful 20-23 effect and reducing your chance of failure. Seems like a fair trade. I can probably absorb a loss of 1-3 ability points without changing a modifier.

Yes, this is good, let's burn some more of these useless abilities, say 4-7 spellburn. This introduces another strong effect at 24-27. We are rewarded! But now I probably have lost a modifier point.

Burn more! The increased effects are going to get more frequent because the next two effects are smaller ranges 28-29 and 30-31. It only costs 2 more spellburn to bring each of these effects to full force. Oh, crap but now I'm losing modifiers.

The pattern you identified gives non-linear gain. Hey, guess what? Ability scores are non-linear, too. A moderate amount of spellburn, say 1-7, isn't going to have much effect on modifiers for typical stats. But the more you burn, the more you are going to feel it. That single extra point of spellburn from 9 to 10 could give you the chance to get a 30 but it could cost you but making your STR modifier drop from -2 to -3.

Buckets that are all the same size, like a pattern [3, 3, 3, 3 ...] are not balanced with the cost of spellburn. Your loss is non-linear but your gain is only linear. This doesn't encourage high spellburn. So, yeah, I think the answer is that [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2] encourages spellburn by aligning the reward with the cost.

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Dehumanizer
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Re: Spell power progression scale

Post by Dehumanizer » Mon Feb 10, 2020 5:48 am

Jim Skach wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 8:01 pm
Now at the time, I had started our group on a S&W game. I was so smitten with DCC (even in these early play tests) I wanted to add stuff from my experience into our game. But I hadn't played a spell caster in the play test and only remembered what I'd see at the table. So I made up this table to add some DCC-ish spell casting to our S&W game:
spell_table_generic.jpg

The difference between us is that as soon as DCC came out I switched to it because, well, those spell tables were far more interesting to me and my players. They expanded the game. I leaned in. You're going in the exact opposite direction.
Your house rule for emulating the spell system of DCC alpha version were really interesting, but I agree that the rules and tables in DCC 1.0 are better. Yet, it doesn't mean they are perfect and cannot be improved. By improved I mean for the flow and flavour of the game that each one would like to have. My questioning here was aimed to understand the reason for them being as they are now, so I could make my own judgement whether I should keep them as they are, or I should change them for the kind of game I want to have. I don't believe in holy scriptures of any kind.
rytrasmi wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 7:54 am
Dehumanizer wrote:
Sat Feb 01, 2020 1:12 pm
I wouldn't say memorising the spell effect would be the goal, but rather making the effects more intuitive based on the spell description and the die roll. Some spells in DCC have effects that are exactly like the previous effect, but they last for 1d6 instead of a 1d4 rounds. These are not different effects, one is only a slightly enhanced effect of the other. It is not adding anything to the game! That is why I don't understand the power scale [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, +]. What does this scale, which is the most common between all spells in the book, adds to the game? Is there something I was not seeing???
Perhaps the inconsistent but somewhat prevalent* [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2, +] pattern is a devious plot to force us to go back to the book from time to time. I'm only half joking. I notice and re-notice things whenever I crack the book. That's a beneficial side-effect, IMO.

Descending AC is not intuitive and adds nothing to the game, IMO. So that's fixed with ascending AC. I'm not seeing the same issue with spell effect patterns.

I think there's a difference between a) rules getting in the way and needlessly slowing things down (I'm looking at you THAC0) and b) consulting a table for random effects. I purposely don't read spell descriptions unless I need to. I enjoy the surprises, even when playing as judge. On the other hand, there's lots of times when I don't bother having players roll for init because the situation doesn't call for it. It would have gotten in the way and possibly run counter to the narrative. Spells don't strike me as something that causes the same problem. Casting a spell is pretty big news. Players can chill for a minute while we decide what happens. I like occasional pauses when I play; it gives me time to do stuff that would otherwise get in the way when things are trucking along.

* I cracked open the book and did a random sampling of 5 or 6 wizard spells and did not see the prevalence of this pattern...I think 1 spell had it.
yes... I totally agree with THAC0 and descending AC. I also agree that "casting a spell is (should be) pretty big news". However, that's not how my players are behaving. I guess they are not really scared of missfires...
rytrasmi wrote:
Mon Feb 03, 2020 10:22 am
I fell into a rabbit hole on this one.

I think the answer lies in spellburn.

The [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2] pattern means that without spellburn you have a main effect (14-17) shouldered by two less likely worse/better effects (12-13 and 18-19). Oh and plus you get a really good but really unlikely effect on a 20 because without spellburn the 20-23 range of the pattern is not 4 wide it is only 1 wide. Makes intuitive sense, right? It's a mini normal distribution (outside of failure).

Spellburn of 1-3 means you are cranking up the chance of getting that powerful 20-23 effect and reducing your chance of failure. Seems like a fair trade. I can probably absorb a loss of 1-3 ability points without changing a modifier.

Yes, this is good, let's burn some more of these useless abilities, say 4-7 spellburn. This introduces another strong effect at 24-27. We are rewarded! But now I probably have lost a modifier point.

Burn more! The increased effects are going to get more frequent because the next two effects are smaller ranges 28-29 and 30-31. It only costs 2 more spellburn to bring each of these effects to full force. Oh, crap but now I'm losing modifiers.

The pattern you identified gives non-linear gain. Hey, guess what? Ability scores are non-linear, too. A moderate amount of spellburn, say 1-7, isn't going to have much effect on modifiers for typical stats. But the more you burn, the more you are going to feel it. That single extra point of spellburn from 9 to 10 could give you the chance to get a 30 but it could cost you but making your STR modifier drop from -2 to -3.

Buckets that are all the same size, like a pattern [3, 3, 3, 3 ...] are not balanced with the cost of spellburn. Your loss is non-linear but your gain is only linear. This doesn't encourage high spellburn. So, yeah, I think the answer is that [2, 4, 2, 4, 4, 2, 2] encourages spellburn by aligning the reward with the cost.
Yes, I believe you might be right, as 2's being "treats", and 4's being "threats". "Carrots" and "walls". Perhaps those are bad namings! :P I was guessing something like that, but I've put that in clearer terms. My wizard seems to be afraid of spellburning, unless he believes it is a case of life and death to his own character. He cares less about the life of the other characters. I will pay more attention to his spellburning behaviour. Cheers for your thoughs, rytrasmi!

I was thinking about other scales, such as [2, 4, 4, 4, 4, 4, +], or [2, 4, 6, 8, +], but there would be not treat or threat in those cases. Perhaps the former would be very boring and the latter would discourage the wizard to spellburn, wouldn't it? Even if the effect powers are also growing steeply? What are your thoughts?

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