A rant on SR

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A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Sun Feb 08, 2009 11:40 pm

Quite frankly, I am growing increasingly dissatisfied with the way spell resistance works in DnD. It is honestly a highly bullshit mechanic which, in my opinion, could be much better represented and expressed.

My complaints with it are as follows:

Spell Resistance is binary

What this means is essentially, it either has TOTAL effect, or none at all. There is absolutely no gradation of its effect, only whether it works or not, which, quite frankly, makes no fvcking sense at all. This ability is called spell resistance, not 'spell immunity X% of the time, and shit-all 100-X% of the time'.

The binary nature of this ability is also totally irrespective to the strength of the effect used. You frankly have an equal chance to resist an acid splash and a meteor swarm coming from the same damn guy. This is nonsensical in the extreme, and shows that the ability was written with very little thought to it.

Spell Resistance is cumbersome as a mechanic

Chief failing here? The fact it requires an extra diceroll. This, in itself, is totally unnecessary, as it breaks the scheme of the attack/defence paradigm the rest of DnD functions on, and for no good reason whatsoever. Even the designers basically said that it was meant as a 'neener neener' ability, which is bullshit of the sort I don't want in my game system. The fact that it adds yet ANOTHER dieroll to spell resolution which it frankly didn't need just plainly makes me sad. The additional fact that a whole bunch of sub-effects have been printed to INTERACT with it makes me absolutely fucking exasperated.

To make matters even worse, spell resistance seems to have been assigned to stuff at basically what amounts to a whim, with very few, if any, checks and balances. All this does is basically create a situation where a monster's SR could be anything from laughable to insane, and there is basically no way to call it. To make matters even worse, it just totally bones multiclass casters is in the ass, because their burnt caster level just makes them suffer against it MORE. Consider it - the 'majority metric' (whatever the fvck that means for a mechanic which seemed to have its numbers assigned using a fvcking dartboard) of SR has been 10+HD or CR. This means that a single-classed caster of equal level would fail to get a spell through half the fvcking time AFTER attack rolls and saves? Seriously, wtf?

Spells interact with Spell Resistance in totally arbitrary ways

Connected with the point above, I can say with certain confidence that if there ever was any metric not connected with chaos theory or a dartboard that was used to determine whether a spell allows spell resistance or not, I do not understand it one ounce. Since I am smarter than most eight-year-olds (and twelve-year-olds, and twenty-year-olds who aren't named Steven Hawking or Godel), this summarily fails at logic (of the sort that game systems should be built from, anyway). Quite frankly, whether a spell allows spell resistance or not seems to be totally arbitrary.

This is a problem because it's fvcking confusing. I mean, think about it - if you have no idea whether or not your spell even interacts with this mechanic, because there's no rubric for prediction, unless you memorised your whole fvcking spell list (a feat which no beginner, and even very few veterans of the game, want or care to master), you're gonna be book-flipping every time you CAST a damn thing. Now, this slows gameplay to a crawl, as, quite frankly, a full THIRD of the PHB is occupied by spells. This is highly stupid design, as it makes running spellcasters resemble doing your taxes - which is something I want very much to avoid.

In short. Spell resistance, as printed, sucks very hard. Now, us being us, what are we going to DO about it?

Option 1: Burn it entirely

Just like that, no replacement.

Positive aspects: This is the simplest solution of them all from an implementation point of view.

Negative aspects: The fallout from such an alteration could be dire. Extremely so, in fact, to the point that the morass of micro-adjustments that would need to be made would likely dwarf this project.

Option 2: A Bonus to Saves

Let's face it, this just plainly makes sense? I mean, you resist spells with your SAVES, right? Well, I hear you cry, not always. We need to make it an AC booster, too.

So thus, the solution reads as follows: Spell resistance is now a number, such as 'Spell Resistance 1'. Whenever you are affected by a spell, you receive this number as a bonus on any save the spell calls for, or to your AC if the spell targets it.

Positive aspects: This retains the mechanics of spell resistance, but makes it a hell of a lot less stupid in many ways.

Negative aspects: Where to set the numbers is a difficult call. Obviously, the kind of RNG deviation current spell resistance currently generates is well off the bullshit meter, but it must still be considered.

Thoughts? Opinions? *gasp* Counter-arguments?
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Jolkuna on Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:05 am

I think in AD&D (not sure if I remember right) spell resistance worked the way you had a % of spell resistance and if you got 100 damage from a spell you removed that % from it. With spells with no damage it was a roll of the dice to see if the spell took effect or not (1d100).


Personally I would probably go with a system where spell resistance would be changed into monster spell resistance / 40 * 100%. That would be removed from all magic damage and durations. Spells that have instant effect and deal no damage would be a 1d100 roll, or assign a bonus of +1 to the target saves per every 10% he has.

In short, a roper has spell resistance of 30. In my system the spell resistance would be 75% so if you deal 40 damage to him with a spell he only takes 10, if you hold him with a spell for 4 rounds he is only held for 1 and if you try to use finger of death on him he gets +7 to his save.


This won't work that well in epic but you could implement maybe a system that every caster level you have over 20 would reduce the spell resistance of the target by 2. So if you have a monster which has a spell resistance of 40 and you are level 25 caster the spell resistance would only be 30. Or something like that.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Mon Feb 09, 2009 1:25 am

I quite like your system, although it's fairly mathematical in nature, which sticks in my simplicity crotch. As far as issues with epic are concerned, I frankly don't wanna have to make up rules just to make the game work, and ignore epic in general.

EDIT: Now that I've thought about it some more, your system has a lot of multiple redundancy in places. Effectively, against a fireball, your SR applies in two modes (saves and damage), against grease, also two modes (saves and duration), and against blasphemy, only one (duration). Against some very select spells, it might even apply on THREE modes (such as wings of flurry). Is this intentional, because if it is, it's pretty assymetrical.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Solnath on Mon Feb 09, 2009 2:06 am

The redundancy problem can be solved quite easily by giving both damage and duration precedence over saves. If a spell has either or both of the first two, then the saves against such a spell are unaffected. If it doesn't the saves are adjusted. In case a spell has both damage and duration, both are reduced.

Aren't there already objects that work as that kind of magical dampers?

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Jolkuna on Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:18 am

I didn't really think it as far as fireballs and wings of flurry. Grease doesn't allow SR but I do get your point. What Sol says is a good possible solution to the problem (though the most balanced way to do things might not be the most simplest thing, need to decide what you want or maybe a compromise between the two). If cutting both damage AND duration is too major, then you just pick one of them, assign an order like frist cut damage, if it has none cut duration, if it has none give bonus to saves.

The mathematics behind my spell resistance calculations are quite simple. I just set spell resistance 40 to mean complete immunity to magic. Now I pulled that value out of my ass by considering that at level 20 a caster with 20 caster levels can get a caster level of 40 so spell resistance over that is the same as immune to magic. Caster levels over 20 screw this over a bit but in general I think it works quite fine.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Mon Feb 09, 2009 3:23 am

Points taken, gents. I believe establishing an order of precedence is actually a good idea. As far as grease not allowing SR, I would like to have SR apply to ALL magic, so as not to have book-flipping or memorisation skills in that area be a necessity. Furthermore, we can notate SR as just a flat percentage, surely?
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Solnath on Mon Feb 09, 2009 4:09 am

I think that SR should affect all numbers and rolls relating to spell and if there are none apart from the save (e.g. save vs. death), then the SR modifies the save, perchance on a ratio of +1 per 2 points of SR.

In my opinion, a fun modification to SR would be that it's insuppressible. This would have the effect that once it gets high enough, you're immune not only to negative effects, but also to positive ones. Some magic could still be used, such as gates which create portals, but most spells would simply fail to do anything.

If this were the case, it would have two significant consequences: first of all, against enemies with SR, mundies would be more powerful than against equivalent enemies without the SR in relation to magicians; secondly, SR would not be only sunshine and happiness, but also weaken healing and restorative spells. Depending on whether the body or the soul is the ultimately resistant part of a creature, it could lead to magically immune creatures being unraiseable.

To make the whole thing mathematically easier, you could say that SR 50 is immunity so that each point counts for two percent resistance. Additionally, this way some races or classes could gain some SR either inherently or with progress. For example, any classes focusing on mage-slaying in any depth would get it and all naturally magical races, such as Celestials and Fiends would have it because magic is one of the elements they're made up from. Perhaps prolonged exposure to magic would increase SR, a case not dissimilar to disease resistance increasing with exposure to bacteria.

This would have two implications gameplay-wise: magic-using classes would gain resistance not only to hostile magical effects, but also buffs (affecting their potency and duration, thus balancing the division between mages and mundies and encouraging, depending on the scale, teamwork); additionally, as increasing the aforementioned disease resistance requires short periods of sickness, magicians could have similar phases when they level up. As an initial idea, this could be portrayed that for a few days [(total spellcaster levels/2 (rounded up))d2?] after levelling up they would have side-effects to their magic. Whether this should be played out as them having wild magic or what, I can't say yet.

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Jolkuna on Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:15 am

MisterSinister wrote: Furthermore, we can notate SR as just a flat percentage, surely?

That is what dividing the exsisting SR by 40 and multiplying it by 100 does. Then round it to some direction.

Sol, choosing 50 as immunity is no doubt easier, but again easier is not always the most balanced option. In my opinion, if you choose 50 as immunity you make a lot of monsters easier than they currently are. Nice ideas with the magic resistance growing with the use of magic. Pretty similiar to what they have in Arcanum, where there is techonology vs magic (though in that the more you use magic the weaker you are to it, and if you use tech you are resistant to magic smae goes otherway round).
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Solnath on Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:24 am

Actually, choosing 30 as immunity would lead to hilarious results when considering epic levels if SR is HD+10. Anyone with SR and 20 HD would be immune to normal magic. Having said that, it could work if epic spell-casters reduced effective SR or if feats were introduced that did so.

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Jolkuna on Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:31 am

I don't know if there are actually any monsters with spell resistance 40, but that was kind of not my idea behind it. Afterall, there should be a difference with being resistant to magic and being immune and those stated to have spell resistance should not be immune in my opinion. Also, though it would be logical SR doesn't always follow the rule of HD+10 so using that is not as good as using the maximum caster level+max from d20 roll.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Solnath on Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:34 am

So, are you saying that SR should be maximum CL + 20?

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Jolkuna on Mon Feb 09, 2009 9:42 am

Not in the % system, but I'm saying the % should be gained by comparing current SR to SR 40, which is basically CL +20 on level 20. Only one option though.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Tue Feb 10, 2009 2:30 am

First of all, epic is broke on first principles, so I don't consider it. As far as I'm concerned, DnD ends at 20.

Otherwise, awesomesauce. Thank you gents. Very Happy
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Tshern on Tue Feb 10, 2009 3:27 pm

Hmm, my ideas got stolen before I got in.

Anyways, in response to the first post, the fact that SR is applied on top of saves and attack rolls doesn't really mean anything since what you compare magic with is people with no magic. And, well, people with no magic tend to be weaker. Weaker by orders of magnitude.

Not defending SR, just that beatsticks have to deal with AC, misschance and their own suckitude all the time, so as such SR isn't really unfair. At least WotC didn't make it to an opposed check, which is amazing considering the clusterfuck of all special combat maneuver rules.

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:02 pm

Tshern wrote:Hmm, my ideas got stolen before I got in.

Anyways, in response to the first post, the fact that SR is applied on top of saves and attack rolls doesn't really mean anything since what you compare magic with is people with no magic. And, well, people with no magic tend to be weaker. Weaker by orders of magnitude.

Not defending SR, just that beatsticks have to deal with AC, misschance and their own suckitude all the time, so as such SR isn't really unfair. At least WotC didn't make it to an opposed check, which is amazing considering the clusterfuck of all special combat maneuver rules.

This is true, but it's not really an excuse for bad design. Essentially, you cannot argue irrelevance in the face of power - polymorph is pretty fvcking stupid, but that doesn't mean that it isn't a really bad piece of design that should really be made easier to work with. Additionally, the Tomes close that gap quite well, but don't deal with this niggling nuisance.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Tshern on Tue Feb 10, 2009 11:15 pm

As said, I was not defending SR, merely pointing out that it isn't the worst thing we have. Making a simple fix for it won't be too easy, although it seems you already got a few ideas from which to elaborate.

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Wed Feb 11, 2009 12:19 pm

Well, what I had intended when I posted this rant (aside from shameless self-promotion) is generating discussion on this subject, which has been achieved really well. If anything workable comes out of it, I see that as a bonus. My chief goal is to make people aware of things - how they choose to fix them, if at all, is their call to make.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Tshern on Wed Feb 11, 2009 3:14 pm

One of the problems with SR is that it leaves casters with fewer options. Even Astral Deva has SR 30, which is a lot for CR 14 creature. Sure, you can still Solid fog most SR positive foes, but that can get sort of boring. Essentially, in some cases, it can drop casters down to a number of options only three four times that of a Fighter of equivalent effect. Though the options are more powerful and will work more often, it still sucks. I sure as hell know I'd use a lot more Necromancy spells if SR wasn't in the game. Constant spamming of Assay resistance just doesn't cut it.

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:28 pm

Tshern wrote:One of the problems with SR is that it leaves casters with fewer options. Even Astral Deva has SR 30, which is a lot for CR 14 creature. Sure, you can still Solid fog most SR positive foes, but that can get sort of boring. Essentially, in some cases, it can drop casters down to a number of options only three four times that of a Fighter of equivalent effect. Though the options are more powerful and will work more often, it still sucks. I sure as hell know I'd use a lot more Necromancy spells if SR wasn't in the game. Constant spamming of Assay resistance just doesn't cut it.

I agree - in actual fact, what makes it MORE annoying is that nerfed options are totally arbitrary, and there's absolutely no way to tell which option will be nerfed and which won't. This is silly.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Tshern on Wed Feb 11, 2009 9:37 pm

So technically it forces you to use better options. Great, huh?

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Wed Feb 11, 2009 10:53 pm

Tshern wrote:So technically it forces you to use better options. Great, huh?

Not necessarily. What it forces you to do is use options which are made arbitrarily better by a mechanic which makes no logical sense. It DOES force you to use 'better' options by a totally random method of determination, but the fact is, these options are MADE better more often than not by SR even existing.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Tshern on Wed Feb 11, 2009 11:24 pm

Very often the spells you use against SR creatures are plain better than those that allow SR. A simple Freezing fog is easily better than most of its peers just because of its area and how it denies movement.

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by MisterSinister on Thu Feb 12, 2009 1:42 am

Tshern wrote:Very often the spells you use against SR creatures are plain better than those that allow SR. A simple Freezing fog is easily better than most of its peers just because of its area and how it denies movement.

This is true, but in general, I find the way spells are assigned SR or no-SR criteria to mean absolutely nothing. Therefore, crappy spells that don't allow SR are just as likely as good spells that don't allow SR. This is what bothers me, amid other things.
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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Reverend Red on Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:17 pm

I personally see all this streamlining shit to be way overrated. None of us would be playing the damn game if it was oversimplified, in which case it could be argued that we'd be playing 4e.

Jol's great SR suggestion does make sense, but it also requires work from the DM who'd be working the numbers right. When using the percentage fix, you'd just have to readjust SR whimsically, which again sort of reduces its point, though might bring balance.

What irks me about fucking around with the game system is that you sort of lose the globality of the game. Meaning, you stop playing D&D3.5e, which sort of defeats the fun of sucking in all the good of the game. I might be just letting verbal farts out of my fingers, but I think all the bad and all the good of the game are a whole, and even if, for example, the Tomes do a lot of good things, they're still changing said game. I know, you're going to say that "well their game is better, why not play that instead?" But there's a philosophy of a global game when you're playing by the book, it's like the difference between a free Ultima Online server, and the commercial one.

I think I didn't write anything sensible, so I'll come back and elaborate when I'm not so entirely tired.

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Re: A rant on SR

Post by Tshern on Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:47 pm

Point me to a single game that does not play with houserules. So far I haven't seen a single one. Also, as Mister Sinister pointed out, the main goal of this thread is not to fix the problem, but to discuss it. Solutions are just pleasant byproducts.

I disagree with your 4e comment as well. If I wanted a simple game, I'd change away from D&D altogether.

Edit: As an example, not meeting the prerequisites for a prestige class does not disqualify you from said PrC in 3.5. This is something that is houserules in a vast majority of games I have heard of.


Last edited by Tshern on Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:49 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added an example)

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