This is the second iteration of this question about the first iteration of this feat (I have now made a third iteration)

I have now added in some of the suggestions given by linksassin such as simplifying it to just one type of rune and adding a material cost. I have not added in limited duration or limited number because it is intended to allow the player to make a consumable similar to spell-scrolls or potions. if they intend to make them during extended downtime then thats fine, its the same as making spell scrolls or buying potions during downtime.

Rune Caster

Prerequisites: ability to cast at least one spell of 1st level or higher

When you take this feat you can imbue your spells into a rune by casting the spell as a rune, this means that you must have the object you want to put the rune on within reach for the whole duration of the casting as well as any tools required to make the rune. The casting time is also affected.

Casting

When casting a rune you add 1 hour to the casting time and 20gp per spell level stored on top of the normal components of the spell.

Triggers

When making a rune you may customise the trigger conditions from the following

list:

  1. Touch

  2. Command word spoken

  3. … by [specify creature(s)]

  4. … with [specify body part]

When defining creatures that can activate the rune you may be as specific or general as you want. The DM interpretes the designated creatures as your character would have interpreted them when you made the rune.

Ranges

When you store a spell in a rune the following rules change the range:

  1. A range of touch becomes a range of self

  2. When a range is listed and a target the person who activates the rune designates the target

  3. When a range is used with an aoe the origin is automatically wherever the rune is.

Activating a rune

When a rune is activated the spell is released acting as if it had just been cast without requiring any components. The rune then disappears leaving no trace of its presence. To activate a rune you must complete the trigger, this means speaking any command words and physically touching the rune each if applicable.

I want to know specifically is it to powerful/ not powerful enough and if so what would be a reasonable way of correcting the issue.

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    I'm not exactly sure how this type of thing is handled given that I know we don't do iterative homebrew as edits to one question but would it not be better to simply test this yourself in-game and adjust accordingly than ask a thousand and one questions here asking if each iteration is balanced? – Purple Monkey Oct 22 at 23:39
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    @PurpleMonkey According to this meta post itterations in new questions are the correct way of handling homebrew questions. rpg.meta.stackexchange.com/questions/8121/… – rpgstar Oct 22 at 23:41
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    Sorry - thought it said "Disintegrate"…. whoopsie – Play Patrice Oct 22 at 23:54
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    @NautArch potions and spell scrolls can be made as per Xanthars guide to everything at my table – rpgstar Oct 23 at 0:06
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    Please leave more time between revisions to collect thoughts. You should take time to think things through, receive additional responses, and do some research and testing. Two revisions in ten hours may be excessive. – doppelgreener Oct 23 at 9:41
up vote 7 down vote accepted

This is a little too powerful

When it comes to 5th edition tactics, spreading the role of Concentration around is very effective as it allows the high Constitution characters to concentrate on their own enhancement spells like enhance ability, haste, or polymorph. This also opens up the spellcaster's Concentration for other spells (usually less tactically important ones such as entangle or cloud of daggers).

Your feat makes accomplishing this virtually trivial. You simply pack a rune with the enhancement spell for 20 gp (a relatively small amount) and the fighter/barbarian/paladin has its own Concentration spell. This is even more powerful than spell scrolls (which linkassin's answer tackles the relative monetary and time costs of) since the character need not even possess the correct spell list to gain access to the spell.

Stockpiling

This also allows the stockpiling of runes for a dangerous dungeon throwing out encounter balance. Scribing spell scrolls takes significant downtime, but a spellcaster could convert their entire set of spell slots into runes in a day at lower levels. This means that they have a full set of additional spells to use for whatever difficult challenge presented itself.

Wording

There are a few instances in your homebrew where the wording doesn't quite align with the styles that Wizards of the Coast seems to adhere to. Here is a revision I put together in an attempt to remedy this. It is by no means 100% supported, but based on observations I've made in reading through the books (probably too many times):

Rune Caster

Prerequisite: the ability to cast at least one spell of 1st level or higher

You've developed the skills necessary to set your spells in runes to hold their magic for a later time. To do this you cast a spell as normal but the casting time is increased by 1 hour, you must expend additional material components related to the type of scribing costing 20 gp per spell level, and the spell has no effect other than creating the rune. The object you are scribing the rune onto must remain within reach for the entire casting time.

While scribing the rune, you choose a trigger condition that activates the rune. This trigger condition must involve either a command word or a touch, and can include both. You can further refine the trigger to require certain characteristics such as by requiring a specific creature or creatures, or the use of certain body parts. The set of creatures or body parts that are required can be as broad or specific as you like.

When a creature activates the rune, the creature casts the spell as normal except that a spell with a range of Touch becomes a spell with a range of Self. If the spell has an area of effect, the origin of the area of effect is the rune. Once the rune is activated, it disappears, leaving no trace of its presence.

Note that I removed the wording about choosing targets since it is redundant as the creature casting the spell always chooses the targets. Additionally, the section on having the GM interpret the trigger "as the character would" is largely confusing and if the GM is actively trying to use wording to adjust the usefulness of the feat, there are probably other problems at the table. The rest of the changes are mostly to allow it to read in plain English with some small word-choice decisions based on other similar examples in the official content.

  • i have adjusted the wording to better suit the style of the core books (i agree after looking at it again that it didn't really have the same feel) and i had the target line in there to to prevent people from potentially casting magic missile (or something similar) in a rune and claiming it would attack the person who activates it. more clarification because the activator isn't technically the caster. – rpgstar Oct 23 at 6:31
  • I like the wording on your proposed changes. If you would also add "Each rune persists for X amount of time" it would definitely solve the scroll / magic item persistency balance. My suggestion would be each rune lasts for only 10 minutes, one hour or even up to, but not to exceed 12 hours. This would help prevent spell slot expansion abuse. – Play Patrice Oct 23 at 7:10

Rune Caster is extremely broken.

Here is why:

Action economy.

By far the biggest problem is that Rune Caster completely disregards the action economy. As written there is no limit to the number of runes I can activate per turn, nor do the runes require any kind of Action to trigger.

For example I could have 10 runes that just require the same trigger word. When I speak that word (no action required) I can unleash an entire combat's worth of spells.

Consider similar options:

  • scrolls require an action to use.
  • the Ring of Spell Storing requires an action to use.
  • the glyph of warding has the action economy problem, but the glyph is stationary so the abuse is very situational.
  • contingency would have the action economy problem, if it were not limited to one contingent spell.

Accumulation of consumables.

The second biggest problem is that Rune Caster makes accumulation of runes far too cheap and far too fast and places no upper limit to the number of runes.

5th Edition assumes that the vast majority of a character's powerful abilities are tied to short or long rests, which is not the case for your runes. If you haphazardly sidestep this assumption the game will just fall apart.

Consider similar options:

  • scrolls have prohibitive costs both in terms of time and wealth needed to scribe, so unless the DM intentionally gives out scrolls, the party won't have many.
  • the Ring of Spell Storing can only store up to 5 levels worth of spells at a time.
  • the glyph of warding has accumulation problems, but once again the abuse is very situational because the glyph is stationary.
  • contingency is limited to one contingent spell of 5th level or lower, which must be recast every week.

Lack of restrictions

Rune Caster imposes almost no restrictions on the runes, both in terms of who can use the runes and in terms of how the rune's spell targeting works. This means that the runes can basically be used like any other spell. This is not as big of a problem as the ones mentioned above, but it compounds with them.

One way the lack of restrictions compounds with the action economy problem, is that I can share the runes with my party so that we can all break the action economy together. Yay, teamwork.

One way the lack of restrictions compounds with the accumulation of consumables problem, is that the high-level runes are many times cheaper to make than their scroll equivalents (despite being significantly better), so I can make tons of profits by selling runes.

Consider similar options:

  • scrolls can only be used by characters that have the scribed spell in their spell list.
  • the Ring of Spell Storing lacks restrictions of this kind.
  • the glyph of warding restricts the target of the glyph's spell to be whatever triggered the glyph.
  • contingency restricts the target of the contingent spell to only the caster.

Conclusion

A pattern emerges when observing those similar options. Scrolls, the Ring of Spell Storing, and contingency each strongly address at least two of those 3 issues in some way. Whereas glyph of warding gets by because its stationary nature makes it really difficult to abuse. When someone does find a way to abuse it, it's not nice.

Gaining Rune Caster is like learning a version of glyph of warding which:

  • you can cast at will
  • consumes less material components
  • has no restrictions on spell level
  • has (almost) no targeting restrictions
  • is extremely abusable because it is not stationary

How to make a balanced Rune Caster feat

If you want a Rune Caster to be about as good as a feat, you will have to make some serious compromises. When homebrewing, I recommend starting from an equivalent thing that is already balanced.

For example, consider Drow High Magic. This feat lets you cast 3rd level spell once per day among other things. I will caution you that this feat is quite extreme, but we can use it as an upper bound reference for a feat that revolves around glyph of warding, which is also a third level spell. While we're at it, we can borrow some wording from Magic Initiate to keep everything smooth.

Rune Caster

Choose a class: bard, cleric, or wizard. You learn one 1st-level spell and one 2nd-level spell from that class's spell list.

In addition, you learn glyph of warding and can cast it at its lowest level using this feat. When you do so, the only spells you can store the are the 1st-level and 2nd-level spells you learned with this feat, but you do not need to expend a spell slot to do so. Once you cast it, you must finish a long rest before you can cast it again using this feat.

Your spellcasting ability for those spells depend on the class you chose: Charisma for bard; Wisdom for cleric; or Intelligence for wizard.

  • This is an excellent point. Though I'm not sure it's "by far the biggest problem" – linksassin Oct 23 at 0:21
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    @linksassin A game where you have a cheap supply of scroll-like consumables is broken. A game where you can cast an unbounded number of spells per turn is outright unplayable. Hence why I believe that breaking the action economy is by far the bigger problem. – Ruse Oct 23 at 2:39
  • if the consumables are expensive enough I don't mind allowing them to be used quickly. Your edits have added the additional points to back it up though. – linksassin Oct 23 at 2:56
  • where does it say that glyph of warding is stationary? it is no larger than 10ft square but that doesnt mean it has to be stationary. – rpgstar Oct 23 at 3:59
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    @rpgstar the last sentence of the first paragraph of glyph of warding: "If the surface or object is moved more than 10 feet from where you cast this spell, the glyph is broken, and the spell ends without being triggered." – Ruse Oct 23 at 4:04

Probably still overpowered

Since my answer to your previous version I did some additional research on spell scrolls in 5e. I realised the material costs I gave you are probably too low.

Sourced from this answer it turns out Xanathar's Guide to Everything adds rules for creating spell scrolls with the material costs and casting time listed below.

\begin{array}{lll} \text{Level} & \text{Time Cost} & \text{Gold Cost} \\ \hline \text{Cantrip} & 1 \text{ day} & 15 \text{ gp} \\ 1^\text{st} & 1 \text{ day} & 25 \text{ gp} \\ 2^\text{nd} & 3 \text{ days} & 250 \text{ gp} \\ 3^\text{rd} & 1 \text{ week} & 500 \text{ gp} \\ 4^\text{th} & 2 \text{ weeks} & 2,500 \text{ gp} \\ 5^\text{th} & 4 \text{ weeks} & 5,000 \text{ gp} \\ 6^\text{th} & 8 \text{ weeks} & 15,000 \text{ gp} \\ 7^\text{th} & 16 \text{ weeks} & 25,000 \text{ gp} \\ 8^\text{th} & 32 \text{ weeks} & 50,000 \text{ gp} \\ 9^\text{th} & 48 \text{ weeks} & 250,000 \text{ gp} \\ \end{array}

I feel like with your changes this feat is more like the scroll scribing rules and should have similar costs.

Even with the one hour casting time this is still extremely prone to exploitation. Given a single day of downtime and 7th level spellcaster I can easily double my spellcasting for the next day for only 460gp.

One important difference however is that scrolls do not require a feat to create, so should be more expensive than runes. Though scrolls can also be transcribed once created which your runes cannot as you have noted also making scrolls more powerful.

Suggestion

I would suggest carefully comparing this to the scribe scroll rules from XGTE. Specifically look to answer the following questions:

  • What benefits does this feat provide over scribing scrolls that make it worth a feat?
    • Allowing non-spell casters to use them.
    • Ability to use them as traps
  • Is this balanced compared to scribing scrolls?
    • Once I have this feat would there be a use for scrolls?
    • Are the costs equivalent given the relative power?
  • scrolls are for if you dont want to use the components before you get the benefits and for moving spells from one person to another without having either spellbook out of action for any period of time. other than that i am increasing the cost of making the runes and increasing the creation times in my next revision. – rpgstar Oct 23 at 6:36

Unballanced - This feat is far superior to scroll creation.

The runes created as written - supersede, replace, and devalues spell scrolls. At 20gp per, you can effectively create a permanent "scroll" of 9th level spells for 180 gold and one hour.

Mundane objects with spell runes can then be stockpiled, effectively allowing a caster to create 16 runes per day, 8 hour rest and repeat. So for the measly cost of 360 gp, they can create mass quantities of level 1 spells written on copper coins or a long spell scroll sheet (both of which are re-usable).

It removes the spells per limit day at a marginal price. Also, the caster of the rune is not necessarily the user of the rune. Meaning a fighter can now activate and use his concentration slot if you put the rune on his great sword (making a ring of spell storing obsolete).

AOE spells can now be attached to arrows. Allowing the archer to put out 2, 3, or even up to 6 AOE spells down range in a single turn. All it takes is a little prior preparation and 60 gold per level 3 AOE spell used.

It allows you to duplicate many spells well before such things are levelistically possible:

Guards and Wards - 6th level. In comparison, your runes are permanent single shot - rather than 24 hours. But you can get similar effects (Summon creature instead of the guard effect, etc. etc.)

But more importantly, it turns every spell at your disposal into this:

Glyph of Warding - 3rd level. Turning everything you can potentially cast into this, or something similar.

Also, do you want your cleric to take this, and have them start putting healing spell runes on every piece and smidge of armor they have? Set to trigger when the rune it hit? I'll have 5 on my helmet (Top, left, right, front back), more on my boots, pants... etc.

It's broken, it duplicates other expensive abilities and replaces the need to purchase or buy scrolls and makes some magic items obsolete.

Fixing this to maintain spell balance would probably make it nearly useless. Something like, only the spell caster can trigger a rune - and if you have a rune, you loose the ability to cast a spell using a spell slot equal to the level of the spell stored in the rune.

Which, if you are doing that, just cast prepared spells.

  • the spells on arrows wouldn't work because they would still need to be activated. triggers are specifically only able to be filled by the use item action. also the 9th level spell isn't permanent it is still single use. – rpgstar Oct 23 at 0:41
  • sorry i thought i had put the action requirement in it has been added now in my copy. – rpgstar Oct 23 at 0:42
  • What character are you playing that can launch 6 runed arrows down range? The most I could come up with was 4 (a fighter 20). Or are you including action surge? Keep in mind that a valor bard or a ranger with swift quiver can also launch 4 but 2 of them can't be runed (as they are created by the spell). – David Coffron Oct 23 at 0:51
  • Your spells allow you to set the "Touch" trigger on the arrow heads, so when they come in contact with fleshy bits - boom. If you know your fighting orcs, you can set it to orcs... or set the arrow heads to "Humanoid" and then don't touch the arrowheads. – Play Patrice Oct 23 at 1:32
  • Fighter 20 gets 4 attacks. Crossbow expert = bonus action attack, haste +1 attack = 6 attacks without actin surge. With action surge - we are sitting at 10. 6 attacks is more reasonable with haste for a fighter / ranger with action surge at mid levels. Attack action (x2) Action Surge (x2) + bonus attack + Haste. – Play Patrice Oct 23 at 1:42

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