The World of Tel-Avi

Mechanics: Spell Research

Words of Power are good for something...

So, the rules that allow a spellcaster to create new and unique spells in Pathfinder are painfully vague. Even the Gamemastery Guide alludes to this:
The subject of designing spells is touched on only briefly in the Core Rules. While some guidance on cost and time is provided, a GM needs to consider balance and design factors before allowing a PC to introduce a new spell into the game. As a first step, request a detailed write-up of the spell using the Core Pathfinder RPG rules. Based on this write-up, you can determine whether or not the spell is balanced for its level and appropriate for the game.
A simple solution to this vagueness would be to simply “rule-zero” new spell research, disallowing the option for players to create their own spells in the desire for “balance” or “simplicity”.

The Words of Power system introduced in Ultimate Magic, has certain flaws, namely that it can be overpowered relative to other spellcasting and that it can significantly slow-down play if adopted wholesale. However, it does give a useful toolkit of seeds from which a character can build a wide variety of unique (or unique-seeming) spells for their own use.

Rather than allowing “Wordcasting” in this campaign, the Words of Power system has been adopted as the basis for all such spell creation. Whenever a character wishes to research a new spell, he must spend time and money in research as described in Creating a Spell, and complete all necessary skill checks. All costs incurred are in solids (i.e. 1000s per spell level).

As per normal wordcasting, a new spell crafted from words must include one target word and a number of effect words based on the spell level (see below). The spell creator may choose to apply a single meta word per target or effect word, so long as each word modifies only one target or effect word (the same meta-word could be applied multiple times, up to once for each effect word if desired).
Note, if the Quiet or Careful meta words are applied to an entire spell, the normal modifiers to the skill check DCs for not having verbal or somatic components are ignored.

New Spell Level One Effect Word Two Effect Words Three Effect Words
0th 0
1st 1
2nd 2 0/0
3rd 3 1/1 or 2/0 0/0/0
4th 4 2/2 or 3/1 1/1/1 or 2/0/0
5th 5 3/3 or 4/2 2/2/2 or 3/1/1
6th 6 4/4 or 5/3 3/3/3 or 4/2/2
7th 7 5/5 or 6/4 4/4/4 or 5/3/3
8th 8 6/6 or 7/5 5/5/5 or 6/4/4
9th 9 7/7 or 8/6 6/6/6 or 7/5/5

All normal choices allowed by a composite spell word (such are target type and saving throw type) must be made when the new spell is created and cannot be changed later. If the new spell would be from multiple schools of magic based on the words used, the creator may choose for the new spell to be from one or all of the schools involved. The spell always keeps all of the descriptors of the words used. If one or more words include a sub-school, such as Conjuration [creation] or Enchantment [charm], that school and subschool must be kept for the final spell. With the DMs permission, the player may apply other descriptors that seem appropriate.

In addition to the check DC modifiers listed on the Spell Research Modifiers table, the spell creator may choose to apply the following optional modifiers to the DCs of his Spellcraft and Knowledge skill checks.

Condition DC Modifier
Apply a Target Word that would be illegal for the effect words chosen +15 DC
Increase the damage die type of one effect word by 1 die type +15 DC
Increase the damage dice cap of one effect word by 5 dice +10 DC
Apply a known metamagic feat permanently to the new spell† +5 DC

† Increases to spell-level from the metamagic feat apply to the final spell as normal (i.e. a new spell that is always Maximized would be 3 levels higher than the combined word-spell would otherwise indicate). The Silent Spell and Still Spell metamagic feats may not be applied in this way (see the normal modifiers).

Sample Spells

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Tormenting Snowfall
Conjuration [Creation, Cold, Pain]
Level: Sorcerer/Wizard 5th, Witch 5th
Words: Burst (Boost), Torture, Blizzard
Creation Check DC: 28
Casting Time: Standard action
Components: V, S, M (bit of ice)
Range: Long
Target: 40-ft. radius Burst
Duration: 1 round/level
Saving Throw: Fortitude negates
Spell Resistance: Yes
This spell causes heavy snow to fall in the area of effect. It obscures all sight, including darkvision, beyond 5 feet. Creatures 5 feet away have concealment, whereas creatures farther away have total concealment. The ground in the area of effect is treated as difficult terrain for the duration and as being very slippery for the purposes of Acrobatics and Climb skill checks. In addition, creatures in the area are nauseated with pain if they fail a saving throw; they receive another save at the end of their turn to end this effect.


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