Saturday, November 13, 2010

They're called "Reserve Feats"

An interesting post over at Grognardia. James takes a brief segue into mechanics-land (something he doesn't do too often). I hadn't thought about 3.5 lately, but one of the later innovations that I actually really liked was Reserve Feats. If I played an AD&D or OD&D game with Vancian casting this is one thing I definitely think I would keep in.

A few ways you could handle it:
  • Each and every spell has a rider effect that kicks in if still memorized, either baneful or boonful. The downside to this is that you must individually balance each spell. It also gets to be a lot to keep track of at higher levels.
  • As above, but cap the number of active effects. This has fewer but still significant issues.
  • Introduce "reserve feats" a la 3.5. Basically, in 3.5, you could take feats that said things like, "Throw a mini-fireball, affects one creature, deals 1d6 damage per spell level of the highest Fire spell you have memorized." You could come up with a list of 7+/-2 Reserve Feats then let players select them. I would either allow a number of feats equal to MU Weapon Profs (so 1 at level 1, then another at level 7), or perhaps a number based on INT score + extra ones with weapon profs (to create growth with level). I'd also consider allowing players to "retrain" their Reserve feat every level up.
The advantage to this system is that it beefs up low level casters without unduly affecting higher level ones, is easy to run, and creates great "specialty" caster flavor. For example, you could actually make the schools of magic significant; someone with the Divination reserve feat would sure want to have a Divination spell memorized every day!

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