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Magic ability score

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Great Adventurer
Great Adventurer
Something I'd been thinking of for a little while is trying to introduce a 'magic' ability score, but I haven't quite ironed out how I think it would work best, so I'm just going to jot down some of my thoughts here. It would be great if you could add to them or give some kind of feedback.

Your Magic score functions just like all of your other ability scores; it starts at 10 by default, and you have a magic modifier that applies to various skill checks, ability checks and when you use magic. Primarily, you add your modifier to:

  • Use magic device checks
  • Caster level checks in (place of/addition to) your caster level
  • Craft Magic Item checks (This will be a separate skill, class for all casters, and used exclusively for making magic items)
  • Spell Resistance

Characters use their magic modifier to determine the DCs of their spells and spell-like abilities in place of whatever they would normally use, unless they normally use an ability score other than Intelligence, Wisdom or Charisma to determine these. Bonus spells per day are still linked to the normal spellcasting attribute. In order to cast a spell of a given level, both your normal spellcasting ability score and your magic score need to be equal to or higher than the spell's level + 10.

In essence, this basically forces spellcasters to have a second ability score they need to sink stuff in. Since there also aren't any races with bonuses to magic, this has the secondary advantage of lowering DCs. I'm sort of tempted to do the same to supernatural abilities, but I sort of don't want the monk to become even more split on what it needs to grab (although this is basically the only thing I can think of that is a reason not to include these)

Of course, it's not that useful for non-casters, so in order to make it more useful or appealing for non-casters, I was thinking something like being able to add your magic modifier to the caster level of magic items you use (thus also penalising creatures with low magic).

One annoying side effect of this is that it makes charisma, already a functionally poor ability score, even worse, since its primary effect was to boost DCs and stuff of monsters and spontaneous casters. As a quick workaround in the spirit of Charisma being your force of personality and sense of self, I was thinking of adding something where you can especially dedicate yourself to a task that you want to get done.
I had a couple of ideas of how to impliment this:

  • 3+Charisma Modifier times per day (minimum 0) or 1/3 HD + charisma modifier times per day (minimum 0)or possibly even HD + charisma modifier (minimum 0) times per day
  • 1d4 circumstance bonus to d20 roll or Charisma modifier - 1 (minimum 1) circumstance bonus to d20 roll or +1 bonus to d20 roll (this is deliberately untyped).

Because I hate dump stats, I really want to penalise them, but I'm not sure if I want to penalise the uses or the bonus or both. I'm also not totally sure of which of these options I'd go with. It's difficult to get the balance right with all the other stats so as not to make this overwhelmingly strong by comparison to all the other ones.


Obviously adding a whole new stat is going to change a lot, so for simplicity, it's easiest to assume that most monsters have a magic stat equal to their charisma (or other casting score if they don't just use charisma) and it's taken into consideration with their SR. Ditto NPC stat blocks (even though they really wouldn't, but it never hurts to make the enemies a little stronger)

Other Observations:

I suppose that magic to enhance your magic score should exist (it's magic that amplifies other magic. Seems slightly dangerous somehow), as should items. They should be headbands and function basically like all the other stat enhancement items. You can just enjoy the headbands of overflowing magic +2 if they turn up.

I was sort of considering a caster level cap and or DC cap based on your magic score, but that seems overly harsh. Or maybe not. Let me know what you think about this.

I should probably have said it earlier, but the magic score represents your ability to actually hold and manipulate magical energies. I've often liked the idea of the theoretical wizard who knows all this stuff about magic, but lacks the capability to actually cast much beyond the simplest spells because magic doesn't like him or he lacks the ability to actually control it. By the same token, the sorcerer who really, really wants lots of fireworks to go off, but just can't actually pull it off due to a lack of magical aptitude (there are a lot of people like this). Sometimes, just memorising things, understanding how they work or just wanting very hard for them to work isn't enough. You've got to have the knack (or luck) to get it to work.

Well, with that finished, please let me know what you think, and what you'd suggest to make this work properly. It's sort of a prototype at the moment, but I'm not sure if I'm going to properly test this or not without input.

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