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Balanced Metamagic (3.5e Variant Rule)

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Adopted By
Surgo (talk)
Original Creator: Squirreloid
Date Created: 4/20/2007
Status: Complete
Editing: Please feel free to edit constructively!

Let's face it, there are three problems with metamagic in the current rule set:

  1. Using metamagic is generally strictly worse than using a level appropriate spell
  2. If you use a metamagic 'honestly', ie, as you are intended to, its hard to get much bang for your buck
  3. A number of exploits exist (DMM, incantatrix, rods of metamagic, etc...) which are the only 'good' ways to use metamagic.

Hence the following fix.

Balanced Metamagic Edit

Metamagic feats no longer have a slot adjustment. Instead, they have a minimum spell level. Minimum spell levels are given as a number with a negative operator (ie, -1). Apply the minimum spell level to the highest spell level you can cast to determine which spell levels you can apply the metamagic feat towards. A spell of higher level than the highest legal spell value cannot have that metamagic feat applied for any reason.

For instance, Quicken Spell could have a negative operator of -4. If your maximum spell level was 7, you could only apply quicken to spells 3rd level or lower. Note that this is the maximum spell level you can cast, so if you're a 13th level wizard with a 16 intelligence, your maximum spell level is 6, even though a wizard of your level with intelligence 17 could cast 7th level spells.

When you apply the metamagic feat, it doesn't change the slot the spell occupies. A quickened fireball still takes a 3rd level slot. (Casters should be able to throw low-level spells around like candy - and this really isn't where the abuse comes in).

Metamagic spells still must be assigned during preparation. If you prepare a spell with the quickened metamagic feat, you cannot cast it if you do not have a swift action remaining - even if you have a standard action. Spellcasters who do not prepare spells have the best of both worlds - they can choose metamagic to assign on the fly.

Using Multiple Metamagic Feats Edit

To use multiple metamagic feats on the same spell, sum the minimum spell levels of all the metamagic feats. So if you wanted to use Quicken (-4) and Empower (-2), you'd sum them to get -6. If your maximum spell level is 7, you'd only be able to Quicken and Empower 1st and 0th level spells - but they'd still occupy 1st and 0th level slots, respectively.

Assigning Lower Level Spells to Higher Slots Edit

A spell counts as its actual spell level, not the slot its in. Preparing a 1st level spell in a 5th level slot is in all ways treated as a 1st level spell, included in the application of metamagic feats.

Metamagic Feats Edit

Most of these are references to the already published feats with a recommended minimum spell level. Some metamagic feats are totally rewritten. Minimum spell levels are listed after the metamagic feat name.

Special Feats Edit

Some metamagic effects just aren't good enough to be a feat by themselves, and others require special attention.

Altered Feats Edit

  • Heighten Spell (-1): When applied to a spell, this makes the spell count as a spell of the highest spell level you are able to cast for the purposes of save DCs only. It still occupies a slot of its actual spell level, and may be further modified by other metamagic as a spell of that actual level.
  • Persistent Spell (-3/-6): A persistent spell increases the duration of the spell one or two categories, defined as follows. 1 round/level → 1 min./level → 10 min./level → 1 hour/level → 24 hours. Spells of fixed duration cannot be persisted (this includes duration 1 round). Spells with durations not covered round their duration down to the nearest approximation (anything less than 1r/level cannot be effected). A one duration category increase uses the -3 modifier, a two duration categories increase uses the -6 modifier. Apply the effects of Persistent before the effects of Extend if both are being used.

New Feats Edit


Subtle Magic [Skill]

Be vehwy vehwy quiet, I'm wehrking magic. {{#set:Summary=Be vehwy vehwy quiet, I'm wehrking magic. }}

Benefits: This is a skill feat that scales with your ranks in Spellcraft{{#set:Skill=Spellcraft}}.

  • 0 ranks: You gain access to Silent Spell. It has a minimum spell level of -1.
  • 4 ranks: You gain access to Still Spell. It has a minimum spell level of -1.
  • 9 ranks: You gain the Eschew Materials feat.
  • 14 ranks: You can apply both the silent and still spell abilities to a single spell for a combined minimum spell level of -1. If used separately, they still retain a minimum spell level of -1 each.
  • 19 ranks: You can make a spell stilled without having prepared it stilled ahead of time by making a Concentration check (DC 30 + 2xSpell Level). You may ignore the minimum spell level when you do so (and therefore even apply still to your highest level spells, or when you've already applied as much metamagic as you can).{{#set:Type=Skill}}{{#set:Prerequisite=None}}

Mastery of Shaping [Skill]

I can bend space with but a twitch of my fingers! Oops... {{#set:Summary=I can bend space with but a twitch of my fingers! Oops... }}

Benefits: This is a skill feat that scales with your ranks in Knowledge (Arcana){{#set:Skill=Knowledge (Arcana)}}.

  • 0 ranks: You gain access to Enlarge Spell. It has a minimum spell level of -1.
  • 4 ranks: You gain access to Widen Spell. It has a minimum spell level of -1.
  • 9 ranks: You gain access to Sculpt Spell. It has a minimum spell level of -2.
  • 14 ranks: You can choose up to a number of 5'x5' squares equal to your casting attribute modifier in the area of an instantaneous spell. Those squares are wholly unaffected by the spell, and creatures fully contained by them suffer no effects and need make no saves. (If volume matters, choose 5'x5'x5' cubes with a little wiggle - a medium creature should be considered to occupy one cube, a large (tall) creature is considered 2 cubes tall, etc.).
  • 19 ranks: You can both Enlarge and Widen a spell for a total minimum spell level of -1. If you use a one of these abilities individually, it still retains its normal -1 minimum spell level.{{#set:Type=Skill}}{{#set:Prerequisite=None}}


Related Rules Edit

Metamagic Rods Edit

A metamagic rod allows you to apply a metamagic feat on the fly, even though you didn't apply that metamagic feat during preparation. The spell must still be a legal target for the metamagic feat, just as if you had prepared it using the feat. If you do not know the feat, the rod also gives you the ability to apply the metamagic feat when it is used. It may be used no more than 3/day.

Divine Metamagic Edit

You can expend turning attempts to add, subtract, or change the metamagic feats applied to a spell when you cast it. The final metamagic suite applied to the spell must be a legal combination as if you had prepared it. Removing a metamagic feat requires 1 turning attempt. Adding or changing metamagic effects requires a number of turning attempts = -(1+minimum spell level) (minimum 1) for each metamagic effect added.

Note: Minimum spell level is a negative number, so adding 1 to it decreases the magnitude by 1, and applying a negative sign makes it a positive integer.

Note: Do not choose a metamagic feat when you get Divine Metamagic - it works with all your metamagic feats.

Sorcerers Edit

Sorcerers are the kings of metamagic in this paradigm. (1) do not penalize sorcerer for quicken - they can use it normally without losing their familiar or burning a feat. (2) Give sorcerers a bonus metamagic feat every 5 levels (5,10,15,20). (3) Every sorcerer chooses a theme. This will be spells drawn from one school of spells and one subschool within that school (if the school has subschools), one element, or some other unifying element (last one with DM's approval only). Every time the sorcerer gains access to a new spell level he learns one spell from his theme in addition to any other spells he is entitled to. He may treat spells from his theme as one spell level lower for the purposes of applying metamagic feats, but they still require the same spell slot to cast. If a given spell level doesn't have spells for a given theme, you aren't using enough splatbooks... i mean, talk with your DM.

So for instance, a sorcerer could choose Fire as a theme. At first level he could choose Burning Hands, at for 2nd level spells he might take scorching ray, etc... When he casts burning hands he treats it as a 0th level spell for the purposes of applying metamagic feats, but it still uses a 1st level slot.

That should be all the fix a sorcerer needs, actually.

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