Sidebar: Spell Seeds

Spell seeds are a concept that I have been thinking about ever since I first read about epic spell seeds in the Epic Level Handbook nine years ago. My thought had been then, if they can create a system for crafting epic spells, why can’t they create a system for crafting regular spells?

The answer, I ultimately concluded, is that it’s hard. There are a lot of variables that go into crafting spells, and everything, from how much damage they deal, to how many targets they can affect, must be taken into account. For example, the spell meteor swarm produces four, 40-foot radius spreads that deal both fire and bludgeoning damage. The spell also relies on a combination of ranged touch attacks and Reflex saving throws in order to deal damage. Coming up with seeds that could accommodate all of those variables, while still creating a balanced system for lower-level spells, is an incredibly complex challenge; one that is not for the faint of heart. Still, I liked the idea of creating a system that would give players a basic set of rules that would allow them to create their own spells, while simultaneously ensuring that those spells have some level of balance, so I decided to accept the challenge, and the result is what you see here in this blog.

In the end, I’m not convinced that every seed presented in this blog is entirely balanced. I also have to admit that the system I’ve created will not faithfully recreate every spell exactly as written in the Player’s Handbook For example, in my attempts to recreate the spell meteor swarm using spell seeds, I created a spell that has a material component, and deals 5d6+5 points of fire damage, instead of the normal 6d6. Still, in trying to create a system that can duplicate the effects of a spell, like meteor swarm, I feel like I’ve laid the foundation for what I hope will become a comprehensive, balanced system for crafting spells.

Now of course, the seeds I have listed here can’t be used to craft every spell in the Player’s Handbook. In fact, they can’t even craft every evocation spell. That said, I feel like they provide a decent primer, and I hope I can use that primer when creating additional spell seeds for future blog posts.

By the way, please try to break this system, and if there is something that you think seems seriously flawed, please let me know. I would like to make this system as versatile as possible, while still maintaining some level of game balance. Thanks.

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