Friday, June 11, 2010

Bringing the game down to Earth by limiting Spells

There has been a bit of chit chat around the 3x/Pathfinder community, and the Trollsmyth as and Dragonsfoot about bringing the game back down to Earth.

The usual solution is something called E6 which essentially limits the game by declaring anything over 6th level as Epic.

I even seen this taken as far as Holmes as the whole game over on Dragonsfoot

As a big fan of the hex crawl and of low level play I can see the attraction here, its using the familiar and fun D&D game engine of your choice to play down to Earth "realistic" Heroes that feel more like Conan than Goku.

However I think there is an easier way. Limit spells. As I see it the real trouble makers are not high level fighters and rogues or even the blaster mages, but a whole raft of "suck the fun from the game" spells.

My list (taken in part from here) (who also has an excellent TFT page, here)

Air Walk
Astral Projection
Dimension Door
Ethereal Jaunt
Mass Fly
Mass Overland Flight
Overland Flight
Pass Wall
Phantom Steed
Phase Door
Plane Shift
Rope Trick
Shadow Walk
Teleport Greater
Teleport Object
Teleportation Circle
Transport via Flames
Transport via Plants
Tree Stride
Wind Walk
Word of Recall
Raise Dead
True Resurrection
Magnificent Mansion
Rope Trick
Secure Shelter
Tiny Hut

plus any other spells like these. and while you are at it limit the duration of wall of iron and wall of stone to say 10 minutes (1 turn) per level .If desired you can also get rid of Bags of Holding and similar items and spells like Secret Chest. Heck if you want to take it to the max, ban rings of sustenance, food and item creation spells and continual light too.

When you do this your spell casters become much more mortal, still needing to find shelter, food and supplies. In addition they can't just appear at the adventure Instead they have to travel like everyone else. Time for a Hex Crawl!

Best of all this does not preclude cool travel items if desired, flying ships, magic mounts and whatever.

Also if you don't want to be a total ogre you might still allow a fly or even mass fly spell at 1 round a level or even the regular duration. Even at 20th level its more a problem solver and combat spell then a plot ender anyway.

These limits still allow a lot of creative fun on the part of the players of all classes while getting rid of most of the shortcuts that can take the game in what some might consider too fantastic a direction..

As for the HP/AC issue. Its nothing to be concerned about in old school games (they cap at 10ish anyway ) but Pathfinder DM's may want to create an alternative system. Its up to you.


  1. I find that I am intrigued by this E6 business. I know that wasn't the point of your post, but I think that I might actually *enjoy* 3.5 again if I try something like this.

  2. I appreciate the reply. The basic ideas behind E6 are pretty good. I am not sure I'd want to give up things like scrying (a L4 spell) and neutralize poison or make them epic but I sure can grok limiting HP and AC and the like.