Still, some players ache for magic and if you want to play you will have to sate their hunger. As a economics nerd, the few ways I can comprehend magic if there was a cost. A real cost that would complicate decisions the ways organization and efficiency systems in the Real World complicates decisions.
In DnD3.5 i decided, what if magic costs 1 day per Caster Level x Spell Level at a minimum of 1. Defining it more completely, 1 XP expenditure on a magic Item is 10 days worth of life.
If Magic and all its certain and reliable power costs this much, how does it affect the decision making? One thing that it will certainly change is the Sh*t, Shower, Shave, Persistent and Extended Spell casting done by GISH characters.
What does Oldschool Gaming have to say about, making the 3.5 system magic cost so much?
Defining the Cost: LFD.
Since Characters are the Baseline, then I can define the cost of magic as Life Force Days. Every time a character casts a spell he loses LFD = to CL and SL. He loses an additional 10LFD per 1xp spent to cast anything.
It will be a natural strategy that some will try to gather as much LFD as they can when they can squeeze it in their ethical parameters. So its is important to define where can they draw up "life force days". In this case, any magical creature or creature able to take up a magical class. when their maximum age is indeterminable, then use their HP and double for every size category they are larger than human.
This means characters who want to "win back" or "store up" as many LFDs as much as possible.
Storing LFDs. there is no Storing LFDs, there is just getting more energetic and physical primed. I guess, I can translate it to Comeliness (average of Constitution and Charisma for me) having achieved the fitness at your prime (for me it was Early 20s). Over abundance can mean better Constitution and Charisma! A necromancer or a wizard who looks mature but as fit as an athlete.
Drawing and Sharing LFDs. Characters can volunteer LFDs to other characters with a minimum tax of 1LFD. All spell casters are able to draw LFDs from volunteering sources.
Forced LFD Drain. This is where necromancy and negative energy spells figure in. A being can only give up so many LFY before dying. If a creature takes LFY greater than their CON in a day, they start losing CON.
- Energy Drain Effects Saps 5years instead of every level Drained on initial Hit. On a Failed Save, at the end of the Day another 5 yeas is lost.
- 1hp Drained or Gained is 10LFDs gained/recovered.
- 1xp Drained is 10LFDs gained/recovered
Death Knell allows the spellcaster to gain 1d8 x 10LFD
Vampyric Touch allows the spellcaster to gain 1d6 x10 (per two caster levels) LFD.
Enervation allows the spellcaster to gain 1d4 x 5 LFY
Energy Drain allows for 2d4 x 5 LFY
Cosmetics of LFD loss. Character's don't all of a sudden grow old, instead they appear more tired and haggard. Its mostly a hit on their Consitution and Lifespan. A character can appear in his 30s but suffer all the venerable effects, a few
Rolling back Time with LFDs. It costs Double the Recovered LDFs to turn back Physical Age. So in an instant the powerful spellcaster is supposed to get 20 years from an enervation spell, he can choose to become 10 years Physically younger. They can go only as far back as their Prime (look at Racial Statistics) Any farther means wont have any affect.
Optional Rule: Spell casters can increase Con or Cha, in at the cost of 1 point for every 5 LFYears gained up to +2 each! These are "temporary adjustments" and recorded in the Character sheets' temporary bonus scores.
Burning 1 Con AND Cha allows the character to gain 1LFY!
Multiple Ages. characers will be trying to get LFDs organized will notice their characters moving forward and back in their physical condition.
Character's Physical Age, since this is what is most apparent. (Real Age)
Undead. Animated with Magic, specially prepared Undead have their own LFDs. Upon Casting Animate Dead, the Caster chooses how Much LFDs to grant it from his "storage" or his own Life Force. Each LFD a Zombie can operate for 1 Day, a Skeleton costs 2 LFDs to operate 1 day. If they
Raising Characters from the Dead. Raise Dead costs WAY more, but is still possible. casting the spell has its cost in Life Force Years.
All these are ON TOP of the current affects, limitations, and costs of the spells.
other Abilities that Cost LFD.
All other sp and su abilities that mimic or just like a spell is as though the character is casting that spell.
Cleric's Turn/Rebuke Undead. Clerics HD in LFDs
Bard's SU abilities. Cost equals Skill Ranks in LFDs
Paladin's Smite 1LFD
Paladin's Laying of Hands HD in LFD
Paladin's Aura of Courage 6 LFD (casting remove fear)
Paladin's Summon Mount 6 LFD (casting summon monster)
Paladin's Detect Evil 1 LFD
Summon Familiar 30 LFD
Druids Wildshape 6 LFDs (like casting Alterself)
Thousand Faces 1LDF (Disguise self)
Monks - I decided that these don't cost any LFD since the SU abilities are so stretched out like Quivering Palm and Empty Body.
5th Level wizard with Int 15
4+20+30+15 = 69 LFDays if a wizard spends all his spells that day. thats 2 months of life force.
5th level sorcerer with Cha 15
6+35+50 = 91 Life Force Days!
5th Level Cleric Wis 15
4+25+40+30 =99 LFD
Casting Limited Wish
CL13*7 = 91
91 + 3000 (300xp x 10)
3091 = 8.4 years!
CL17*9 = 153
153 + 50,000 (5000 x 10) = 50153 days
So a Human Wizard that has been able to keep his physical condition at 15 needs to burn his 55 years and another 83 years off from some source. Possibly a Rite of Sacrifice killing 4 other CON 10 people who willing volunteer it or when forced from some weakened thrall.
Long-Lived Races . Long lived Races can use magic more often, which screws short lived humanoids... or encourages them to enslave longer lived races for "batteries". One captured elf, will last power 5 lifetimes, if bled at a sustained rate.
Next Problem: ALIGNMENTS
Dnd without Alignments. What is so bad about players, who have to define their character's outside alignments? Well there is a bit more ethics and awareness of moral awareness required when looking at actions when there is no alignment.
mechanically speaking, spells and abilities that depend on alignment start getting complicated. it doesn't have to be, in my opinion. True Names can help narrow protection and detection spells a bit. Assassins, Paladins and Anti-Paladins become problems since the system has a black and white approach to actions.
Remove Alignment restrictions to paladins and they become pretty peculiar. They are a class that are accountable to the GM, an all knowing and being that will immediately act on any transgression. there are some serious thinking to do if there IS a diety, particularly when they depend on the worship of followers, are not omnescient, let tragedy befall both "good" and "bad" people etc. etc... There is so much rational baggage if there is an Omniscient person that makes everyone accountable to their actions that it makes the world predictable and unreal.
Remove the Omniscient Accountability and the patronage (which removes the magical abilities), and you have is a well educated fighter, capable of sorting out complex ethical and moral decisions better than the average person... something like Roy in Order of the Stick.
What can replace the Paladin's special abilities? How about ranger amount of skills (6 + int modifier) x 4. What happens is the paladin becomes the more educated figther, able to handle logistics, statecraft, and warcraft. A character formidable in court, among the common folk, as well as in the battle field.
Will this sell to players? Heck NO! only a total RP nerd will find this interesting. Remove the black and white and you have to think about actions more. This means no more: demonetization of opponents, players are required to make searching questions about the complex context of the situation AND WORSE, Empathize with their enemies.