I have a homebrew spell in mind, probably sorcerer only, called Elemental Manipulation, it's something that requires creating spells on the go depending on the caster's description. Sometimes those require some effects other than just damage. What i have in mind is essentially a 'Create A Spell' table similar to that in the DMG (p. 283) with more variety to include different ways of targeting multiple creatures and adding debuffs to the spells.
So what will the spells do?
For a 1st level spell the DMG says:
If the spell is single target, it deals 2d10, if they want to hit multiple targets the damage drops to 2d6.
Is this correct?: High level aoe spells do more damage compared to other single target/smaller aoe spells cast at same level and I assume that’s balanced with a risk of friendly fire. (also the possible critical hit with attack rolls, something most aoe spells don’t have)
Yes: Cones and radius aoe damage becomes 3d6, lines, adjacent only and alike stay 2d6 No: All multiple target options are 2d6, booring.
Alternative Yes: Aoe with possible friendly fire is 3d6, enemy only multiple target options are 2d6
I’m thinking of using a tier system that will hopefully make it easy to calculate damage/debuff balance.
Tier 1 High Damage and AoE (3d6): Possible friendly fire.
Tier 2 Regular Damage (2d10): Single target, no additional effects.
Tier 3: Regular Damage Aoe (2d6): Multiple target, enemy only. (Similar to Chain Lightning or Acid Splash)
Tier 4: Low Damage (2d6): Single target, minor* debuff
*A minor debuff would be suitable for a 1st level spell while major debuff may require a higher spell slot. (Requires examples.)
For the type of damage:
The spell I had in mind when I started was about these elements. More 'rare' types of damage will require tinkering. When multiple dice are rolled they can choose which dice deals which type of damage within these limits:
Fire: At least 1 die of Fire damage, can change any number of dice to bludgeoning.
Water/Ice: At least 1 die of Cold damage, can change any number of dice to slashing, piercing or bludgeoning.
Earth&Air: Damage type is either slashing, piercing or bludgeoning.
Flames/Ice/Earth etc. created by this spell normally disappears after the initial effect.
Saving Throws will be DEX based to avoid AoE damage with possible exception to Earth type damages which maybe STR based.
My intent is for my sorcerers to simply describe how they are manipulating the elements to strike their opponents and what kind of effects they want to get out of it. Then use this tablenecessary to decide the amount of damage they can do. I know I can simply find a similar spell to what they want to do and use it's damage as a base value and that's what I've done before. The reason I'm working on this now is to be able to give my players a reference point for damage amount and some ideas on other ways to use their power.
Another thing to note is casting this spell at higher levels: I don’t think this spell should be a reliable damage dealer for higher levels and by then simply used for more debuffs or environmental stuff. I have something in mind for that as well, tiered as above:
Tier 1: Adds 2d6 to damage, increase aoe or add lingering effect. Fire: Flames don’t extinguish for 1d4 rounds Water/ice/earth makes difficult terrain, air makes it hard to see or maybe disadv. to non-magical ranged attacks going through the area of the spell. And others depending on the caster’s description.
Tier 2: Adds 1d10 to damage
Tier 3/4: Adds 1d6 damage and applies relevant conditions / major disadvantage(no reaction, disadv. to ability checks etc. as appropriate, this is where the major debuffs come in) Fire requires target to stop drop and roll as reaction or (bonus) action otherwise it keeps dealing small amount of damage at the start of each of it’s turns. Air causes blinded until saved and earth restrains with a str. check to break etc.
Aside from possible balance issues, bonus points to answers including:
- Some examples of minor debuffs and some major ones for higher levels.
- Pros and cons about the damage types. I know some are less common and 'harder to resist' than others, not sure of the exact nature of this.
- Any ways to abuse this in any way to break the game. (probably with some combinations of features I don't even know)