Dungeons & Dragons 3.t, revised bonus spells
This is my third homebrew rule revision to Dungeons & Dragons 3.5, which I'm calling the 3.t edition. Today's rule revision has little to do with speeding up gameplay, but has a lot to do with lengthening the game day. In particular, we're addressing Vancian magic. That's the form of magic that 3.x and earlier versions use -- basically, spellcasters can use a limited array of spells per day, and then they're wiped out and need to rest. That's a very different model from Diablo, for example, where your character can shoot fireballs all day, so long as he has mana.
The problem with the Vancian system is that it engenders the "15 minute work day" -- that is to say that clerics, wizards, and the like seem to blow through their spells after just a few combats, causing the group to go rest after less than a hour in the game world. Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition has a solution for this, which is pretty close to just abandoning the Vancian magic system. I personally wanted to do something much simpler with the 3.5 rules. I was thinking, could I address the issue by changing just one single table in the Player's Handbook?
Let me show you the revised table, and then I'll explain why it's awesome.
Player's Handbook, Table 1-1: Bonus Spells
Here's what I noticed about the original table. It's rigidly formulaic. If you have the 3.5 edition Player's Handbook, look at the chart on page 8. Notice how the amount of bonus 1st-level spells is set to "1, 1, 1, 1, 2, 2, 2, 2, 3, 3, 3, 3, 4, 4, 4, 4." That same pattern applies to 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and all other level spells, but the pattern starts at a higher ability score as you move across the chart. So, I just changed it to "1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3" and so on -- giving slightly more bonus spells earlier. In addition, I attached that pattern to zero-level spells, starting with an ability score of 10.
Why is it awesome?
If you make a spell caster with a primary ability score of 18, you would normally get one extra 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th spell (assuming you were powerful enough to cast spells that high-level). But with my revision, you get:
- Three extra 0-level spells
- Two extra 1st-level spells
- Two extra 2nd-level spells
- One extra 3rd & 4th level spell
With this system, low-level spell casters get a little boost, but it peters out before the high levels. So a wizard at level 15 isn't much affected by the change, but the wizards below level 5 are profoundly grateful. Since low-level wizards are the ones desperately in need of a few extra spells to keep the combat day humming along without rest-stops, this revised system works pretty nicely and has a low impact as far as what a DM needs to do to integrate it in. And that's the kind of rule revision I like -- low investment, big payback.
What about PCGen?
Gotcha covered. Here is a revised copy of the PCGen file, statsandchecks.lst. That file controls how many bonus spells are awarded. On my computer, the path to that file is as follows:
So once you save that file to your computer (please save it with an .lst extension), you'll want to open up your PCGen folder, find the correct location of the statsandchecks.lst file, and replace it with my revision. Please note: my revision is made for the 5.12.1 version of PCGen. Later versions might be different. Therefore, you should backup your original file before trying this out. You could just add the word "backup" to the original file's name before you copy my revised version into the folder.