Using Challenge Levels in Spells

In my early years of gaming, I used spreadsheets a lot. I had spreadsheets on Microsoft Multiplan 1.0 running on a TI-99/4A for my high school gaming group.

I love spreadsheets.

Nowadays, I enjoy using them as random generators, at least until my Python coding skills get a lot better.

Despite this, I have a heck of a time putting a lot of spell data into a spreadsheet because of tables in the spell description. Let's just say that LibreOffice Calc does not like nested tables inside a cell.

So, I rewrite spell descriptions to remove these tables. I know that this goes against the Old School within me that loves random tables.

But I love spreadsheets more. There I said it. No taking it back now.

So here is my rewrite of some of the Monster Summoning spells

Monster Summoning I

Spell Level: Magic-User, 3rd Level

Range: N/A

Duration: 6 rounds (minutes)

The caster summons allies, who serve him until slain (or until the duration of the spell expires). The allies do not appear immediately; there is a delay of 1 turn (10 minutes) before they appear. The total challenge levels of all allies summoned cannot exceed four. Treat Challenge Level A creatures as one-half of a challenge Level and Challenge Level B creatures as two-thirds of a challenge level for the purposes of calculating total challenge levels.

Monster Summoning II

Spell Level: Magic-User, 4th Level

Range: N/A

Duration: 6 rounds (minutes)

The caster summons allies, who serve him until slain (or until the duration of the spell expires). The allies do not appear immediately; there is a delay of 1 turn (10 minutes) before they appear. The total challenge levels of all allies summoned cannot exceed six. Treat Challenge Level A creatures as one-half of a challenge Level and Challenge Level B creatures as two-thirds of a challenge level for the purposes of calculating total challenge levels.

Monster Summoning III

Spell Level: Magic-User, 5th Level

Range: N/A

Duration: 6 rounds (minutes)

The caster summons allies, who serve him until slain (or until the duration of the spell expires). The allies do not appear immediately; there is a delay of 1 turn (10 minutes) before they appear. The total challenge levels of all allies summoned cannot exceed eight. Treat Challenge Level A creatures as one-half of a challenge Level and Challenge Level B creatures as two-thirds of a challenge level for the purposes of calculating total challenge levels.

Monster Summoning IV

Spell Level: Magic-User, 6th Level

Range: N/A

Duration: 6 rounds (minutes)

The caster summons allies, who serve him until slain (or until the duration of the spell expires). The allies do not appear immediately; there is a delay of 1 turn (10 minutes) before they appear. The total challenge levels of all allies summoned cannot exceed twelve. Treat Challenge Level A creatures as one-half of a challenge Level and Challenge Level B creatures as two-thirds of a challenge level for the purposes of calculating total challenge levels.

You get the idea. Here is a table to show all the Monster Summoning spells:

Spell Total Challenge Levels
Monster Summoning I four
Monster Summoning II six
Monster Summoning III eight
Monster Summoning IV twelve
Monster Summoning V sixteen
Monster Summoning VI twenty
Monster Summoning VII twenty-four

This still allows an 18th level Magic-User to summon a Titan, but also allows him or her to summon 48 kobolds or 36 orcs.  It covers everything in whatever monster book I have handy. The greatest benefit to me is that it allows the PCs to summon things without me having to update the tables in the spell descriptions.

Then, of course, is the fact that I can put my revised descriptions inside a spreadsheet.

Ah spreadsheets...

There are other rules for specialized versions of the Monster Summoning spells. In essence, if you narrow the scope of your summoning or conjuration, you can double the total challenge levels. So, for example, you want to specialize in conjuring elementals. A Conjuration of Elementals I spell will allow the caster to conjure a 7HD Elemental.

In an ideal world, I'd have just one Monster Summoning spell that varied the Total Challenge Levels by level of the magic-user casting the spell. Every attempt to do that either made lower level magic-users too powerful (summoning young dragons by a 7th level M-U) or higher level magic-users too weak (18th level M-U unable to summon any of the creatures listed in the original Monster Summoning VII spell). Until I make my own game, I can live with what I have.

In addition to gaining the ability to put Monster Summoning spells into spreadsheets, setting up these guidelines allows me to generate an interesting spellcaster class that focuses on Conjuring/Summoning. They have a host of spells based on generic monster summoning (Monster Summoning I - VII) as well as specific monsters (Conjuration of Elementals, Conjuration of Oozes, Slimes and Puddings). I'd also throw in the ability to conjure the elements and add spells like Affect Normal Fires, Fireball, Lightning Bolt, etc.

A true conjurer, though, would also be able to conjure objects. In my next post, I'll talk about borrowing the Purchase DC mechanic for d20 modern to cover this.