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19 June 2015 @ 11:38 am
Dark Sun defiling and balance  
I'm working on what I described as a "Frankensteinian P6 Grim 'n' Gritty strain-based spellcasting psionics-as-skills [module] [module] Dark Sun homebrew" on an RPG.net thread, and I've recently come to the question of how to handle the preserver vs. defiler split. The original 2e books just treated it as separate classes, with the defiler advancing about twice as fast. D&D 3.x makes all classes require equal XP per level and I don't want to change that, so I went to the drawing board.

One thing I already changed is that I made most character conflict an opposed roll (Attack vs. Defense, Casting roll vs. Saving Throw), so I figured I'd add a roll to draw power from the land when preserving. Preservers have to roll against the local terrain type, with less verdant places having a higher DC, to draw the power out. Failure means they roll again next round and add it to what they've already rolled, Sovereign Stone-style, and when they beat the roll or if rounds equal to the spell level have already been spent channelling, they cast the spell. That way it doesn't take an entire combat to cast one magic missile due to bad rolls.

Defilers get to skip all that, rip the life energy out of their surroundings instantly, and cast with no problems.

I also wrote in that defilers can use metamagic feats with one fewer spell levels required than normal, and there are some metamagic feats that only defilers can use, like the ability to heal themselves with some of the energy or making everyone caught in the area that turns to ash feel sick in addition to the normal penalties. Preservers don't get any of these benefits.

Using "defiler" and "preserver" is a bit of a misnomer, though. There's just sorcerers, and they can decide how to cast spells at any time. Previous editions had them as separate classes, or as a dark side-style choice where too much defiling caused spiritual corruption, but that's stupid. It shouldn't be a tipping point, and it shouldn't be a choice made at character creation, because it should be a constant temptation. For the sorcerer among the dunes trying to pull enough power to cast invisibility before the band of gith finds her, she can think that it's already a desolate waste. How much would one bit of defiling here hurt? What's ash when it's already sand? It's only the one time, after all. And then next time her friends are in danger and she can't risk the glitterdust not going off. But these were special circumstances. It won't happen again. Until it does.

I know balance is important in D20 and this isn't balanced at all, but I don't really care. Defiling is better than preserving in every way other than the trail of ash defilers leave behind them and the knowledge that they're contributing to the death of their world.

There's a reason that Athas is a blasted wasteland, after all.
 
 
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Current Music: Reconcilable Differences podcast
 
 
 
q99q99 on June 20th, 2015 04:27 am (UTC)
Yea, sometimes setting leans to a lack of balance.