Wednesday, March 10, 2010

I Cast Cone of . . . Sonic?

You know one feat I’ve always disliked – Energy Substitution.

Effectively it allows you to turn a fireball into a frostball for no penalty in level, unlike many metamagic feats.

My issue with the feat is not its game elements per se. If people want to swap energy types so they can best tackle the creatures they may face, more power to them. What I don’t like is that it cheapens the spells as written . . . lightning bolt, burning hands, cone of cold, etc . . . These are some iconic spells in my mind, and by swapping them out for sonic bolt or what have you, it interferes with my view of the D&D world.

The way I see it, wizards always have the option to research new spells. The spells that come in the PHB and similar books are the spells that already exist. It is much, much easier (in my mind) to learn fireball, as it has been around eons, than it is to modify the spell into lighting ball. Thus explaining why it is written the way it is.

My second issue is that the feat robs one of the premier casting archetypes. The pyromancer, the ice mage, etc. These wizards may have some options for overcoming resistances and the like, but Energy Substitution is always better.

In my PFRPG campaign there will be no Energy Substitution feat. The spells that exist, exist for a reason . . . they are tried and true. However, I’ve added the following metamagic feat for those who wish to really specialize in an energy type.

Scouring Spell (Metamagic)
You can cast spells that can bypass even the most powerful of energy resistances.
Benefit: A scouring spell ignores 5 energy resistance of the same type of damage dealt by the spell. For every spell slot a level higher than the spell’s actual level, the amount of energy resistance ignored is raised by 5.

For example: A Fireball slotted as a 5th level spell (instead of a 3rd) would ignore 10 points of fire resistance. Thus a creature with Resist fire 10, now has no resistance to fire. One with a resist of 20 now has a resist of 10. And so on.

I am sure I am overlooking some 3.X feats that may do similar or better things, but again this is for my PFRPG game. Don’t hesitate to point me in the direction of some similar metamagic feats, however.

Keep your eyes open for some more feats in the near future.


  1. I agree, wizards should just research a new spell variant.

    Now, for sorcerers on the other hand, I think I would be willing to be more flexible. And it does seems that Energy Substitution should impose some penalty for the amazing increase in flexibility, maybe a -1 damage penalty per die instead of an increase in the spell level. Sorry, just thinking here.

  2. Good ideas . . . might run that one by the group.