Vancian/4E compromise?

We've been told that Vancian is making a comeback.  Obviously, there are mixed feelings on it.  My biggest issue is that going back to strong per-day limits, instead of per-encounter limits, is not what I want to see.  But, I recognize that 4E's approach loses a lot of the appeal of spells in older editions.  There aren't really "iconic" 4E spells, the way there were in older editions.

So, I'd like to discuss possible ways of having both 4E's encounter-based design, and something resembling traditional Vancian spell progression.  I posted this idea in another thread, but I think it'll get buried there, and I think it's a sufficiently different topic to warrent a new thread. 

Basically, the core idea is to have the traditional spell levels (1 to 9), and to allow initial access to a spell level on a per-day basis, for spells memorized, which gradually transitions to a per-encounter access.  So, a character would have their highest level spells occupying per-day slots, with lower level spells in per-encounter slots.  Those lower level Encounter spells would represent those multiple-memorizations of lower levels done in older editions.

Here's an example progression: docs.google.com/spreadsheet/pub?hl=en_US...

There are probably some wonky level transitions, but the general goal is for each level to be strictly better than the last, but not by too much.

The number of spells known should be about what a 4E character gets in terms of powers, except that utilities aren't separated out.  I do like separate utility powers, so I'm not sure how much I like that aspect.  It also means losing the fundamental design distinction between Daily spells, and Encounter spells.  Which is, again, problematic.

So, thoughts?  Alternative approaches to a compromise?  Or is it just not possible to adequetly combine traditional D&D casting, with encounter-based design? 

So, thoughts?  Alternative approaches to a compromise?  Or is it just not possible to adequetly combine traditional D&D casting, with encounter-based design? 



I believe it is not possible to combine the two - at least if you want to keep magic powerful and, well... like traditional magic in most fantasy settings.
It's better to have the two as separate modules within D&D Next than to try and mix them.  Sure, Vancian will be default due to D&D history (hell, I don't like Vancian magic either but I'm willing to admit it should be default on that merit alone), but if you want 4E style magic, just swap the default module out for the 4E one and everyone's happy.
My compromise idea is the simplest on the surface: like Utility powers, in the Encounter slots also make Dailies of that level also available. That way you can have just at-wills and dailies if you like.

With the module system though, you may just have to pick one or the other. That means you can also go back to the days of filling every third-level slot with fireballs.
I like the idea of the caster classes progressively finding it easier to cast spells they have known and always trying to reach for that one new spell to save the day... basically making what were once dailies into encounter powers or what have you. 

I don't know about all previous authors of D&D fiction, and certainly the game has never been 100% about trying to match the fiction, but I don't recall a lot of mages yelling out in battle "oh, I used that one already today, sorry!"... it always seemed like fictional D&D mages were able to cast the spells they needed when they needed them within some reasonable parameters.

Often wizards in fiction seem to exhaust themselves if they "over cast" or throw all their powerful spells at once... something that I haven't seen much of in regular editions of D&D but something that could lend itself to a game mechanic relatively easily if you wanted wizards who could pull that extra bit of power from their inner reserves if needed to save the day.

The idea of being able to cast multiple fireballs when you are a paragon or epic level wizard and need to suddenly defeat a horde style army is iconic enough in my mind that even if it doesn't fall into the classic hierarchy of D&D I'm okay with that.
All you need to do to simulate old school vancian magic would be to take the assumed daily usage of encounter powers and turn that into a daily resource, with limits to keep someone from using their highest level encounter powers only, and keeps them from using more encounter powers per encounter than other classes, and to give them a very large number of uses of at-will powers so that they're unlikely to run out but they CAN run out.

Really, really wouldn't be that hard, and would be more or less balanced.
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It's possible to have both encounter and daily resources and still have class balance, if each class has about the same proportions and power levels of the two.

If daily (vancian) powers are included, it's impossible to have robust encounter balance, though.


The best choice would be to do away with daily powers - they're overly abstract and arbitrary a detract from game balance.

 

 

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Just remap them.


  • Level 0 is at-will

  • The highest level (or two) castable is Daily

  • Everything else is Encounter.

All you need to do to simulate old school vancian magic would be to take the assumed daily usage of encounter powers and turn that into a daily resource, with limits to keep someone from using their highest level encounter powers only, and keeps them from using more encounter powers per encounter than other classes, and to give them a very large number of uses of at-will powers so that they're unlikely to run out but they CAN run out.

Really, really wouldn't be that hard, and would be more or less balanced.



But I don't like "assuming" daily usage of encounter powers.  I don't think that's a good way to produce balance, in practice.

The per encounter limit is a nice way to avoid novas, though.

Just remap them.


  • Level 0 is at-will

  • The highest level (or two) castable is Daily

  • Everything else is Encounter.




If we use the 3.5 spell progression (which is what I think you're referring to), that means several dozen encounter powers at high level.  I think that's rather absurd.  At that point, they're not really "encounter" any more.  Might as well be at-will.  I was thinking the 7 it maxes at in my progression was a little much.
I hate having daily resources of any sort. It puts an artificial limit on the flow of the adventure. I would rather have everything be encounter based, or at most milestone-based (every other encounter).

That way as a DM I don't have to worry about what order the players take on encounters, and how much resources they'll have left, because their resources are about steady throughout the day.
My proposed 4E/ Vancian compromise:


1)  First, Wizard spellbooks are no longer so limited in size.  As with the earlier editions, if they can find the spell, they can add it to their spellbook.

2)  Second:  Dailies work much as they do now (aside from the expanded choice due to the larger spellbook).
     -these are analagous to the higher level spells of traditional Vancian casting and are cast once per day.

3)  Third:  Encounter spells.  The wizard chooses his Encounter spells for the next encounter at the conclusion of the prior encounter. 
      -these are, not unlike the medium level spells of traditional Vancian spells, cast a few times a day.  More often than the high level/ dailies and less often than the first level/at-wills.

4)  Fourth:  At-will spells:  This wizard also chooses these for the next encounter at the conclusion of the prior encounter.
     -these are cast many times per day and are the rough analog of the 1st level spells of traditional Vanician casting.

The end result is that the wizard casts the same number of spells per day as he does in 4E.  And the spells do not need to be designed any differently (although I personally would not mind the return of the 'save or die' spells of old as daily powers). 

And, like the older systems, the wizard is defined by his extensive spellbook and his ability to choose the spells to fit the occasion.  Granted  - that choice takes place throughout the day, as opposed to entirely in the morning (which is a slight advantage).  But the limitations on the system (can't use Encounter Spell X more than once in a given Encounter) offset that advantage considerably.

Carl