Wizards and how to fix them in 5.0

The biggest problem with wizards is their shear veritility eventually dominates the party.  My solution is to tailor the class toward specilizations.  instead of a unified level progression for all of their spells a wizard gets to choose which scools of magic he is good at.  There will be three teirs of spell casting teirs A, B, and C.  At level one he will choose two A schools, three B, and three C. 

Teir A: wizard can cast spells from this schools as normal per 3.5

Teir B: The wizard can prepare a spell from this school only if its level is two lower than the highest level A school spell he can prepare. 

Teir C: The wizard can prepare a spell from this school only if its level is four lower than the highest level A school spell he can prepare.

So wizards would be good at two schools, okay at three and bad at three.  Not only would this help balance the class it would allow a huge number of combinations for the players to specialize and experiment with.

But there are those who love the idea of the swiss army knife wizard and I'm fond of it too, so let there be a feat which allows the wizard to upgrade a school up a teir.  This would allow the players to make a generalist wizard as general as long as they are willing to invest feats.

So what do you think?

If Spell Research makes it way back in, then even "Do it all Wizards" are bound by their pockets.  They don't just get "Know everything for free", which is something people forget.  They have to actively spend money which could be spent on Magical Items or Consumables, to achieve it.  Adding on a feat tax is just too much.
Feat taxes are negative.  It also doesn't really address the issue with 3.X wizards in my book, the very swiss army knife nature that significant part of the world wishes to bring back.
If Spell Research makes it way back in, then even "Do it all Wizards" are bound by their pockets.  They don't just get "Know everything for free", which is something people forget.  They have to actively spend money which could be spent on Magical Items or Consumables, to achieve it.  Adding on a feat tax is just too much.



Spell research doesn't solve the problems with vancian casting at all.  It's just another form of DM vs. Wizard gameplay.  I don't want to have to spend hours going over spells and trying to forsee any unbalanced or game breaking options I might give the wizard.  Spell research can be an interesting part of the game and depending on your campaign could be a central idea to it.  However it shouldn't be touted as a balancing mechanism because its implemintation is squarly in the hands of the DM.  If I have to balance my own game what am I paying WoTC for? 
I like this idea, but I might make it... harsher.

Specalist School (1): Can cast up to 9th level maximally, and the highest accessable spell level at lower levels.  This represents the Wizard's real focus, a Major if you will.

Secondary Schools (2): Can cast up to 7th level maximally, two levels lower than the highest accessable spell level at lower levels.  This represents other diciplines the Wizard is comfortable with, but not specalized in.  If wizards had college degrees, these would be minors

Non-Specalist Schools (2): Can cast up to 3rd level maximally, three levels lower than the highest accessable spell level at lower levels.  This represents schools the wizard learns from, but doesn't particularly take after once the foundations are laid

Abandoned Schools (3): Can only cast 0th level spells of this school (Alternativley, can't cast spells from this school at all).  This represents schools the wizard has not studied in the least, and is therefore only able to cast spells from if they're part of the foundation of all magic.

Alternative Setup (generalist): Take 3 secondary schools and 5 non-specalist schools, neither getting 8th and 9th level spells in any school, nor being locked out of any school.  (the mechanics of low-level generalists would need work)

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I think where 4e and pretty much every new edition gets it wrong is going too far.

I think 3rd wizards could have been scaled back, give fighters some more damage and options and call it a success.

If you give Vancian Wizards an At-Will... I really dislike At-Will Powers and would prefer a better core mechanic like give 1st Level Wizards a Wand of Magic Missile like a 1st Level Ranger gets a Bow, but it appears the desingers are looking at Feated At-Wills.

If you give Vancian Wizards an At-Will mechanic, they should not have the same number of spells as they did without one. 

Versitility is great!  Encourage it.  But a Do It All Wizard shouldn't have enough slots to do it all.  That's what I think the balancing element should be.  Every round magic with fewer vancian spells. 

And then take the fighters ever round and add some vancian elements.
Wizards should be exactly the way they were before 4th edition. Vancian, with lots of cool toys. For one simple reason: that's the way over half the D&D fans like them.

It's counter productive to try to fix something that doesn't need to be fixed. Fixing the very few broken spells D&D used to have is a good idea. But that's where it should end.

You'll have both vancian spellcasters and non vancian spellcasters in D&D Next. This should be enough. It's a matter of playstyle and personal tastes. None of your "fixes" will be good enough for pre 4th edition fans because you don't fix something that is working.

The only thing the game designers should worry about is having wizards deal roughly as much damage as their non vancian counterparts so that you can have both of them under the same unified rules.
The problem isn't just damage though, 3e wizards (hell most of the casters) could obsolete other classes and still be the big damage dealers.
Invisibility let you outstealth rogues.
Summons could take over for fighters, or if you pick the right monsters clerics.
Charm could instantly make a diplomancer superflous.
A wizard could essentially do anything you could do better than you, often times they could nail down 2-3 classes and still deal more damage.

At least until the artificer arrived and made everyone obsolete. 
I honestly don't think that it goes far enough. I'd much rather simple split the Wizard up into different classes. The War-Mage, the Beguiler, the Dread Necromancer, and so on. "Generalist" Wizards should not be available as a default. They should be extremely rare exceptions.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
Thats the exact problem with wizards, I was trying to narrow their abilities a little.

Honestly it just comes down to being more sensible when writing the spells.

If Fireball dose indeed end up being 5d6 regartdless of your caster level we have some of the power trimmed back right there.  Just make that appraoch follow through with all spells.


For Example the Knock Spell

A 2nd level spell traditionally aquiered at around 3rd level.  Insead of being Automatically open a Door it should grant an Open Locks bonus equal to what a 3rd level Rogue might have. Say about +10 or so.  With an added benefit of negating Wizard Lock should it have been placed on the door.

So at 3rd level the Wizard and the Rogue could be about the same (With the Rogue possibly having higher should he have invested feats or special rogue abilities in Lock Picking).  The Wizard can do it once (per spell) while the Rogue can do it constantly, but the Wizard will be a better choice if the Door is Wizard Locked.

At 10th level though Knock remains as +10 Open Locks while the Rogue is now running around with +20 or something.

If the Wizard wants a higher bonus he has to devote a more powerful spell to it.  Maybe flat out a Greater Knock Spell (5th level spell or something) or some kind of Metamagic feat.



Simply put the Wizard's abilities should not scale based on caster level but on Spell level.  a Spell gained at 3rd level should have the capacities of a 3rd level character, a Spell gained at 10th level should provide capacities of a 10th level character.  But there is no need to have that spell gained at 3rd level grow to have the capacities of a 10th level character.  The Wizard has Higher level spells for that.

With 3.5 multiclassing, go ahead and make every  school a base class, and make Wizard a prestige class that advances ALL your schools. So if you know only 1 school, you are effectively a level 20 specialist. But if you know all 8 schools, you pretty much cap out at level 13.

Wizards need to seriously be limited in their utility aspects, much like every other character is limited in their skills (honestly, wizards shouldnt get skills anyways). I'm for having groupings of spells, and forced specializations to reach higher levels, or generalists able to case high levelgeneric universal spell, and lower level spells within any schools. Give spellcasters a feel, much like warmage, beguiler, shadowmage, etc were trying to do at the tail end of 3rd edition.
on one hand you need your wizard to be able to fireball enemies into oblivion, on the other hand you need them to not do it so well that the rest of the party might as well not exist. 

the issue was the lumian magic system. there is often a misconception that a party will have 5+ combats a day and by the end of the day the wizard would be out of spells. therefore the spells need to be really good to allow the wizard to be worth using, so you have a guy who can either be way underpowered or way overpowered, and historically he has been overpowered. 

in 4e the wizard is a GOOD class and is considered the best controller by charop 2 wizard dailies will take all the work your DM did on this encounter and throw it in the trash. the good thing about 4e, is the wizard could only do this 1 time a day and have another daily for later, also everyone else has dailies and encounters that can do comprable things. 

the wizard was most balanced in its 4e incarnation, where it had great, but limited, daily recources, meh at will resources and decent encounters recources, you cannot however give it enough daily resources to never have to use its other resources i feel the 5e wizard needs to resemble this
Would kind of help if you just throw out the idea that you are going to have 5 encounters a Day.

Resource management was one of the limits a Wizard is supposed to deal with.

If you are heading into a Goblin den it could have 5 encounters or it could have 50, you just don't know and you have to manage your resources accordingly.  Basing things on a fixed number of encounters be day is when resource management goes out the window because they know just how much they can blow off without having to worry about what's down the line too much.

It's counter productive to try to fix something that doesn't need to be fixed. Fixing the very few broken spells D&D used to have is a good idea. But that's where it should end.

You'll have both vancian spellcasters and non vancian spellcasters in D&D Next. This should be enough. It's a matter of playstyle and personal tastes. None of your "fixes" will be good enough for pre 4th edition fans because you don't fix something that is working.


Except it's not just a matter of preferring one playstyle over another.  Vancian casting is extremely difficult to balance against at-will or encounter based options.

For one thing, there's the 5 minute work day syndrome.  A Vancian caster can empty all of their spells onto one encounter to force the party to take a rest immediately after trivializing said encounter.  Call it poor resource use, but it's something that the DM needs to work around, and it can cause friction within the group (since it's unlikely that all of the players will appreciate this "cheesy" playstyle).  Quite simply, it's bad design.  Furthermore, having different modules that allow one person to play a Vancian Wizard and another to play an AEDU Wizard (for example) in the same group will not solve any problems because the Vancian caster can ruin balance for the rest of the party.

One possible solution is a momentum-building mechanic; for example, let's say that a Vancian caster cannot access all of his spells at the beginning of the day, but "unlocks" uses of spells as the party overcomes more encounters.  Or you can call it a "recharge" with a smaller number of starting options.  Of course if you go this route people will complain that Vancian has been "changed" even if that change was necessary to balance it.  And then of course you have those players who like Vancian because it's unbalanced.  WotC simply cannot cater to that group of people and those that value balance because they're preferences are mutually exclusive.



Of course you can make the argument that the designer might hypothetically balance Vancian (as it's always existed pre-4E) with the other options.  Hypothetically, mind you.  My confidence that they would succeed at such an endeavor is near zero.  Monte played a large part in 3E's design (arguably the most unbalanced edition of D&D), and 4E's balance started to go downhill once Mearls took over (and this isn't just a "different sub-system" issue; the biggest failures were relatively traditional - Binder, Vampire, Bladesinger, and Cavalier).  So already we have a design team with "balance" as a major weakness. 

Then you have to consider that even if they do succeed against all odds, future imbalances (or even just inevitable power creep) will affect Vancian casters disproportionally because of the very nature of their mechanics.  For example, if an overpowered daily is introduced in 4E then a player who takes it gains an advantage in one fight per day.  If an overpowered spell is introduced, however, then the caster can use all of his relevant spell slots to prepare that overpowered spell and become proportionally more powerful than a non-Vancian character even if the degree of imbalance between the power and the spell is the same.  Because balance becomes tougher to achieve as the number of options increases, Vancian casters will become more and more overpowered as more splatbooks are released.  It certainly happened with 3.xE (heck, imbalance became worse even as more powerful monsters were released thanks to Wild Shape and Polymorph).
Needless to say, I'll almost certainly be banning any Vancian casting modules in my games, and if Vancian is the default I won't even bother with this next edition.  Because my group fractured due to 4E/Pathfinder differences of preference, as far as I can tell 5E will be unable to re-unite the whole group.  The PF players will want Vancian, and the 4E players won't play if Vancian casters unbalance their game.
Why not just limit the scope of your campaign to something managable? If the scope of your campaign has ogres as your biggest threats, a 20th level Fighter looks pretty op'd. Wish, Gate, and Sphere of Ultimate Destruction have already been made. They can't be unmade and making a game without acknowledging the height of spellcasting is lame. Sooooo, just make mages in your campaign retire after level 15. Make them multiclass. Or, don't give out the spells that break your game. Plently of advice points toward discussing the game-breaking potential of certain rules with your players. So, discuss it with them. 

Btw, Fighters and Rogues are allowed to have magical items that keep them as powerful as mages. Some artifacts are pretty damn potent. 

Not every group or character is meant to reach epic levels. Sometimes characters should die, or be imprisoned, be stripped of all power, or level drained. Eh, nm, they got rid of that one. Again, check the scope of your game. If PC's score a big haul and bandits can find out and rob them, why is it unthinkable to have power hungry, extra-planar creatures come after powerful PC's to kill them, enslave them, or rob them of their power and goods?

Never had issues with mage abuse. Propaganda has surely taken this issue out of hand. And just for the record, my highest level character ever was a Rogue.  
Sooooo, just make mages in your campaign retire after level 15....Never had issues with mage abuse.



.........Excuse me a moment.



Thank you, I needed a good chuckle before bed.
Wizards should be exactly the way they were before 4th edition. Vancian, with lots of cool toys. For one simple reason: that's the way over half the D&D fans like them.


Your statistics have no basis. They might be true, they might not be true, the closest thing we have to statistics are some of the L&L polls, and those are crappy with selection bias, but argue that it's well under half.

In any case, this is to a large degree why 5e is probably doomed before it starts: too many contradictory demands from the fanbase.
A greater focus on specialization seems like a great way to move toward balance without sacrificing the feel the wizard had in Third Edition.

The wizard's power level was not solely the problem, it was the power combined with versatility that made it difficult to beat. Especially toward the end of Third Edition, non-caster characters could become very powerful, having tactics that sometimes rivaled those of casters. These characters were, however, always one trick ponies; a DM could easily neutralize them for an encounter to let other characters shine. When a wizard had their super trick nullified, they just switched to another one.

You cannot just take away a wizard's versatility or its power; at least not if you want this next edition to unite players. I definitely agree with everybody calling for more specialized casters. Make the wizard weaker by default. Give them more but less powerful options than other classes. Then allow them to sacrifice some of those options for greater power (through specialization).
Your statistics have no basis. They might be true, they might not be true, the closest thing we have to statistics are some of the L&L polls, and those are crappy with selection bias, but argue that it's well under half.



You have other statistics like best selling RPG of the year 2011 (D&D 3.5 in disguise), and WoTC's marketing division giving the design team the go for vancian magic in the next edition of D&D. I think that pretty much says it all.

Less than 50%: the Wizard/Clerics are AEDU.

More than 50%: the Wizard/Clerics are vancian.

Guess which one they picked? But you are right, there is no scientific basis to my 50%. Only very strong hints that 4th edition fans are not the majority of D&D fans.


But I don't think that it's much more than 50%. D&D is the 2nd best RPG of the year 2011 after all. That alone means a significant amount of fans like the watered down balanced version (damn code of conduct) of magic it offers.


In any case, this is to a large degree why 5e is probably doomed before it starts: too many contradictory demands from the fanbase.



It's not that bad! Come on optimism! You did read the part about not having to use everything right?
Except there are too many contradictory demands. Just for a few examples.

Alignment
Lots of people refuse to buy the game if we don't have Paladins who lose their powers if they so much as think of murdering someone as a core rule.
About as many people refuse to buy the game if Paladins do lose their powers if they so much as thinking of murdering someone as a core rule.

Vancian System
Lots of people refuse to buy the game if Vancian isn't core.
About as many people refuse to buy the game if Vancian is core.

Caster Supremecy
Lots of people refuse to buy the game if they don't even attempt to balance it.
Another lots of people refuse to buy the gam if it isn't 'Wizards and Sidekicks:The 2nd Coming"

And even if you are right about this part..

Less than 50%: the Wizard/Clerics are AEDU.

More than 50%: the Wizard/Clerics are vancian.

Let's be generous and say 59% towards Vancian and 41% against.
This means that makign Vancian core is already risking losing 41% of the fanbase, not counting other contradictory wants within that 59%.(Not saying those 41% will never buy it, just saying it already hits their want to buy the game).

There is simply no way they can make this game and please everyone.

The module system, to be fair, stands a good chance at getting those sales lost at launch, if done right, so I'm always hoping for that.
Verbose here folks, apologizes.

My favorite so far has been limiting the scope of what a "magic user" can do. (AE no generic wizards of does anything)
But these too, if introduced in some combination or separately, may solve the problem.

1. Make some benchmarks of awesome.
Like others have mentioned pick out the things you want to be "the best" and ensure that they stay "the best." sounds easy enough but 3.5 botched it pretty badly. This means no "magic" lock of only wizards can unlock it. No faster then a rogue can pick it. No nothing that's on par to whomever is supposed to be "the best", and no matter what nothing that simply negates something else.

1.5 don't make anything that requires "the one answer" to over come. Give several options.

2. Permanent features can't be outclassed by semi permanent ones. This goes along the lines of the above but basically anything that a PC can't change on a day by day basis has to be better then things that can be changed day to day at what it is it's supposed to do. 

For instance; in 3.5 a rogue could put full ranks in a lock pick and be out done by a wizo's knock. The next day, the wizo out classes the rogue for diplomacy (charm person).

The third day The Rogue can't re-invest his/her skill points in athletics- the're stuck. The Wizo can change to his/her content, using proper planning (casts fly). That change on flyness is obnoxious if the spell bests the Rogues skill. If their on Par, it becomes more palatable, especially since the wizo can only do it so many times (but they can almost always have just the right thing).

3.If a resource is to be balanced on fewer but more potent uses, then make the system not the dm's plot ensures this balance. Divide magic by in combat/ out of combat encounters. say that x can be used every 3 combats or that y can be used every 4 non-combats. It's pretty simple and nips what I think is half the problem with 3.5 magic in the bud.

4. Make it so that a spell doesn't "level up" unless it uses a higher slot. Imagine if charm person was base level 3 will save DC 15 but CP level 6 was will save DC 35. You can have amazing cosmic powers but limited, just like everyone else.
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I honestly don't think that it goes far enough. I'd much rather simple split the Wizard up into different classes. The War-Mage, the Beguiler, the Dread Necromancer, and so on. "Generalist" Wizards should not be available as a default. They should be extremely rare exceptions.



I like the idea of the generalist being the Dabbler Wizard.  He's not as strong as the more focused wizards, but he always seems to have that special spell for that special occasion.  Basically, since there is no focus, his spells are not as strong, ave a smaller area, target less monsters, etc.  But for giving up being a killer or an illusionist or whatever, he's a toolbox.  Not one that replaces the thievery skills of the rogue; instead his spell augments the talents of one target with training in thievery.  Nor a spellmaster who can blast huge gouts of flame, etc.  For the Final Fantasy players think the Red Mage.  Not particularly good at healing, but you can fall back on him for that.  Not a great damage caster, but he can pull it off ok.  Not great with a blade, but he's not going to fall apart at the first blow.  He's a Dabbler, a Generalist, with all that entails.
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quote author=56832398 post=519321747]Considering DnD is a game wouldn't all styles be gamist?[/quote]
Except it's not just a matter of preferring one playstyle over another.  Vancian casting is extremely difficult to balance against at-will or encounter based options.



Balance doesn't mean anything. Some people think that spells such as Finger of Death don't have their place in the game because they're 'horribly broken'. They're not, they're just another approaches to the same game.

The same goes with spells such as Invisibility Sphere (oh poor rogue, booo Gnarl, booo!) or Wall of Stone.
 
Vancian casting is exteremly easy to balance against at-will or encounter based options! If your wizard is dealing on average 1d6 damage per level per spell, your at-will classes need to do more than that.
   

For one thing, there's the 5 minute work day syndrome.  A Vancian caster can empty all of their spells onto one encounter to force the party to take a rest immediately after trivializing said encounter. Call it poor resource use, but it's something that the DM needs to work around, and it can cause friction within the group (since it's unlikely that all of the players will appreciate this "cheesy" playstyle).



That cheesy playstyle happens to be the one me and my friends have been enjoying for the last 20 years...

That's also the best selling RPG of 2011's playstyle.


Quite simply, it's bad design.

 
 
From a mechanical point of view, you're right. But it sure is fun to play with. No wait, it's the most fun magic system I ever played with. That's good design in my book.
  
   
Furthermore, having different modules that allow one person to play a Vancian Wizard and another to play an AEDU Wizard (for example) in the same group will not solve any problems because the Vancian caster can ruin balance for the rest of the party.

 
 
That's exactly where you're not getting my point of view. It's hard to explain in a foreign language but I'll try my best.

The problem is not vancian vs. non vancian. The problem is old school D&D magic vs. new generation D&D magic. In the D&D of our ancestors, the one that has been played for over 30 years (minus 3 years of 4th edition), magic could do all the things that a lot of 4th edition players would find totally inacceptable and broken.
   
Both version are equally valid ways to play the game. If your group likes "new generation D&D magic", then of course if someone plays an "old school D&D magic user" you're going to percieve him as overpowered because he'll do things you don't think he should be able to do.

Now if you want "old school D&D magic" style in your game, a non vancian spellcaster is very compatible (like the 3.5 warlock).
      

One possible solution is a momentum-building mechanic; for example, let's say that a Vancian caster cannot access all of his spells at the beginning of the day, but "unlocks" uses of spells as the party overcomes more encounters.  Or you can call it a "recharge" with a smaller number of starting options.  Of course if you go this route people will complain that Vancian has been "changed" even if that change was necessary to balance it.  And then of course you have those players who like Vancian because it's unbalanced.  WotC simply cannot cater to that group of people and those that value balance because they're preferences are mutually exclusive.



It's not a solution. You're looking for a concensus between old school D&D players and the new generation of D&D players. There is none possible. The differences are too fundamental.

I wish you didn't make it sound like there was a general concensus on what balance is... Be open minded a bit! Your way of playing is not balanced, it's just your way.
 

Then you have to consider that even if they do succeed against all odds, future imbalances (or even just inevitable power creep) will affect Vancian casters disproportionally because of the very nature of their mechanics.  For example, if an overpowered daily is introduced in 4E then a player who takes it gains an advantage in one fight per day.  If an overpowered spell is introduced, however, then the caster can use all of his relevant spell slots to prepare that overpowered spell and become proportionally more powerful than a non-Vancian character even if the degree of imbalance between the power and the spell is the same.  Because balance becomes tougher to achieve as the number of options increases, Vancian casters will become more and more overpowered as more splatbooks are released.  It certainly happened with 3.xE (heck, imbalance became worse even as more powerful monsters were released thanks to Wild Shape and Polymorph).



I hope by now you got it! This is your very own definition of balance and it's not the one everybody shares. You won't have to use the "old school" material if you don't want it in your games. But let those that want it have it. And don't try to "fix" things for these "old school" players. We don't want your way of doing things, we don't want your fixes, we don't want your definition of balance. Play with your toys, let us play with ours.
Balance doesn't mean anything. Some people think that spells such as Finger of Death don't have their place in the game because they're 'horribly broken'. They're not



And you just lost any chance of being taken seriously.

EDIT: By me. Forgot to throw that in at the end. My bad.

Let's be generous and say 59% towards Vancian and 41% against.
This means that makign Vancian core is already risking losing 41% of the fanbase, not counting other contradictory wants within that 59%.(Not saying those 41% will never buy it, just saying it already hits their want to buy the game).

There is simply no way they can make this game and please everyone.

The module system, to be fair, stands a good chance at getting those sales lost at launch, if done right, so I'm always hoping for that.



I really want both groups to have their favorite game. Losing your favorite hobby is not fun. I know what it feels like. 4th edition changed my saturday afternoons. I wouldn't wish that for anybody.

I like the module system. I like the idea that you pick what you want and discard what you don't want. But this really is my whole point in this thread. It's modular, it's supposed to have options you like and others you don't like. Don't try to fix something if you don't like it to start with.
Balance doesn't mean anything. Some people think that spells such as Finger of Death don't have their place in the game because they're 'horribly broken'. They're not



And you just lost any chance of being taken seriously.



Why? Because I actually understand that there are no absolutes when it comes to personal tastes?
No, because Finger of Death and the like ARE broken. And hinges on whether you're All Powerful Lich of Darkness will be an epic boss fight or a one-hit wonder via one die roll. Even if it's in my favor, I don't like how much fun I'm having to be determined by something so swingy.

The there's the inverse of using it against the players. We burst into the Lich's sanctum. He wins initiative and uses Time Stop before we can react, then throws Cloudkill, Dimensional Anchor, and Forcecage at us. Now whether I'm fighting in a fun hour-long boss fight or getting knocked out 5 seconds in and watching everyone else have fun is down to a single die roll. No matter my chances of success, I do not like the idea that my fun is based on how lucky I get on one die roll.
Wizards should be exactly the way they were before 4th edition. Vancian, with lots of cool toys. For one simple reason: that's the way over half the D&D fans like them.

It's counter productive to try to fix something that doesn't need to be fixed. Fixing the very few broken spells D&D used to have is a good idea. But that's where it should end.

You'll have both vancian spellcasters and non vancian spellcasters in D&D Next. This should be enough. It's a matter of playstyle and personal tastes. None of your "fixes" will be good enough for pre 4th edition fans because you don't fix something that is working.

The only thing the game designers should worry about is having wizards deal roughly as much damage as their non vancian counterparts so that you can have both of them under the same unified rules.



Well you already know they aren't the transcript that has all the people exited about vancian also clearly states.
we are very happy wit the way the rituals system works, though some rituals will be reduced in casting time and material cost.

so when it comes to the new vancian we are only talking about the combat powers not about powers that are coverd by the ritual system.

also the rule of 3 article talks about:
Vancian magic also shares many of the same play style elements as the 4E powers system, especially in that, once a spell is expended, you have to rely on the other spells that you have not yet expended; in much the same way, once you've expended an encounter or a daily power in 4E, you must rely on your other powers.
To sum up, Vancian spellcasting isn't just a mechanic; it's a play style.

and it seems they waant to keep the play style but it doesen't even hint on keeping the mecanics
The problem isn't just damage though, 3e wizards (hell most of the casters) could obsolete other classes and still be the big damage dealers.
Invisibility let you outstealth rogues.
Summons could take over for fighters, or if you pick the right monsters clerics.
Charm could instantly make a diplomancer superflous.
A wizard could essentially do anything you could do better than you, often times they could nail down 2-3 classes and still deal more damage.


If that's the problem, why not remove the offending spells?

Invisibility
Summons
Charm
Knock
Instant and absolute death / domination / chaos / hold spells

Why not remove them, or make them worse, or make them super high level so you can only use one of them once per day, or have an absurd material or HP cost, or something like that? Just playing devil's advocate here.

Edit: I just read some people saying in another thread that the real problem was the exponential growth of casters--gaining spell slots, etc. at such a fast pace. If we fixed that, and fixed the offending spells (spells that are overpowered, render other characters redundant, and/or make the game impossible to run), wouldn't it be alright?
Except there are too many contradictory demands. Just for a few examples.

Alignment
Lots of people refuse to buy the game if we don't have Paladins who lose their powers if they so much as think of murdering someone as a core rule.
About as many people refuse to buy the game if Paladins do lose their powers if they so much as thinking of murdering someone as a core rule.

Vancian System
Lots of people refuse to buy the game if Vancian isn't core.
About as many people refuse to buy the game if Vancian is core.

Caster Supremecy
Lots of people refuse to buy the game if they don't even attempt to balance it.
Another lots of people refuse to buy the gam if it isn't 'Wizards and Sidekicks:The 2nd Coming"

And even if you are right about this part..

Less than 50%: the Wizard/Clerics are AEDU.

More than 50%: the Wizard/Clerics are vancian.

Let's be generous and say 59% towards Vancian and 41% against.
This means that makign Vancian core is already risking losing 41% of the fanbase, not counting other contradictory wants within that 59%.(Not saying those 41% will never buy it, just saying it already hits their want to buy the game).

There is simply no way they can make this game and please everyone.

The module system, to be fair, stands a good chance at getting those sales lost at launch, if done right, so I'm always hoping for that.

actually, if you go to the D&D site, it's more like 59% DON'T want Vancian core, and 41% DO want Vancian core....check the polls.

I don't want to be an edition warrior. I think there was something good and something bad in all the editions I played. I do, however, believe that the game has gotten better over the years (and decades). I hope this holds true into the future.

Peace.

 

IMAGE(http://www.nodiatis.com/pub/21.jpg)

The problems with the Vancian System are five for many people:

  1. The fact that you are limited by daily usage means you are going to have spells that have a greater effect than other abilities (otherwise they are useless). At the same time, you can't have too powerful spells. Those unbalance the fun of the game for too many people. Things like Save-or-Suck are this. It just kills the drama, kills the fight, kills the climax you were building. Save or Die are extremes, but even Web can kill all the fun of an encounter when properly used.

  2. You can't have spells that bypass entire situations or overshadow entire classes either. This means Knock, long-lastign Invisibility, Divine Power and things like that need to go away for the game to be enjoyable for many people. If you are able to change your powers around to suit any situation you like, you can't have those powers be stronger than what someone who has that and only that does normally. Having versatility should mean trading away power.

  3. The daily recharge system is prone to abuse, either by taking five minutes workdays or by exploiting downtime thanks to your massive magical potential. If casters have spell that generate permanent effects and that reset every day with no other expenditure, both gameplay and most likely the internal logic of your world start to shatter.

  4. The massive bloat of spells available to a single class increases its versatility to dramatic levels. Even if the power of the single spells is limited the dramatic increase in options and versatility these characters enjoy is terrible for game balance. If a wizard can solve any situation given one day to prepare his spells, then the game turns into "let's see what spells the wizard prepared today". Too much depends on a single character for it to still be a cooperative game.

  5. Magic shouldn't have the monopoly of interesting ("magical") effects. This seems counterintuitive to most, but "we" don't play a fantasy game where in order to do fantastic things you need to have a certain character concept. We enjoy playing high fantasy games where everyone can do cool things. Charge and full attack are not cool things. Shattering mountains is cool (and should totally be possible in epic), but most of us think the very least a non-caster character should be able to do is keep up with his casting partners as he levels up. If the wizard can learn how to fly, you should have the option to learn how to jump à là Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. That doesn't mean that you need to be able to do the same things, but a roughly equivalent amount of cool things should be exclusive to him and to you. For instance, I wouldn't necessarily want a teleporting fighter, but I also wouldn't want a wizard who can break through a 3 meters wide wall of titanium easily. Having more HPs and access to lots of subpar tools and weak gimmicky tricks doesn't qualify you as "cool".

Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
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Reflavoring: the change of flavor without changing any mechanical part of the game, no matter how small, in order to fit the mechanics to an otherwise unsupported concept. Retexturing: the change of flavor (with at most minor mechanical adaptations) in order to effortlessly create support for a concept without inventing anything new. Houseruling: the change, either minor or major, of the mechanics in order to better reflect a certain aspect of the game, including adapting the rules to fit an otherwise unsupported concept. Homebrewing: the complete invention of something new that fits within the system in order to reflect an unsupported concept.
Ideas for 5E
Except there are too many contradictory demands. Just for a few examples.

*snip*

The module system, to be fair, stands a good chance at getting those sales lost at launch, if done right, so I'm always hoping for that.

QFT, except for the hope part.

No matter how many well-reasoned arguments appear on these boards, and no matter how many excellent alternative ideas we present, we see article after article where WotC defends its sacred cows and claims the game somehow "needs" to keep hold of its flawed, unfun traditions.

I resisted temptation for a long time because I'm mostly an "official rules" kind of guy, but I've finally begun writing up my own set of house rules to fix the things I don't like about 4E.  When they stop publishing 4E books, I'll consider my set complete, and that's the game I'll probably end up playing for some time to come.  The more I hear about Next, the less faith I have in it.

Unless the initial release includes a "Tradition Is Stupid, So Here Are The Rules For People Who Want To Play A Game That's Fun" module.  If that's in, I'm totally on board.

If your position is that the official rules don't matter, or that house rules can fix everything, please don't bother posting in forums about the official rules. To do so is a waste of everyone's time.
I think one of the failings of the 3rd edition was the amount of free spells a Wizard would gain just for leveling up.

I have played in such campiagns, and being a Wizard suddenly becomes easy and convenient (and, unfortunately overpowered).

Gaining new spells for free should be limited to when you acquire a new spell level only, extra spells should be acquired through magical research or transcribing a scroll to your spellbook.

As far as I remember in 2e, preparing a spell from another wizard's spellbook was difficult and required a check each time you were memorizing (now preparing) the spell, which I find a good mechanic to limit players finding too many spells at once.          

IMAGE(http://www.forum-signatures.com/wizard/Sigs/2010/final1329876348159.jpg)
Except it's not just a matter of preferring one playstyle over another.  Vancian casting is extremely difficult to balance against at-will or encounter based options.



Balance doesn't mean anything. Some people think that spells such as Finger of Death don't have their place in the game because they're 'horribly broken'. They're not, they're just another approaches to the same game.

The same goes with spells such as Invisibility Sphere (oh poor rogue, booo Gnarl, booo!) or Wall of Stone.
 
Vancian casting is exteremly easy to balance against at-will or encounter based options! If your wizard is dealing on average 1d6 damage per level per spell, your at-will classes need to do more than that.


No offense, but this is a non-argument.  Balance clearly means something.  I'm reminded of a scene from a tv show (I believe it was Malcolm in the Middle, but I can't remember for sure; in any case, I'll assume MitM for the sake of this example).  Dewey was playing a (card?) game called "I win."  During every single turn when everyone showed their cards he just said "I win" regardless of what he had, because that was the only rule of the game. 

Obviously that's at the extreme end of the balance/unbalanced spectrum, but it illustrates the point that balance is important quite nicely.  "I Win" is NOT good game design.  It's barely even a game at all.  Good game design gives everyone comparable odds of success (notice that I didn't say equal, because even a very balanced game can't be completely balanced).  Minor differences in balance are fine, and in practice barely noticeable.  Glaring imbalances are not ok, and merely make the game more like "I Win."  That is to say, it's BAD DESIGN.


For one thing, there's the 5 minute work day syndrome.  A Vancian caster can empty all of their spells onto one encounter to force the party to take a rest immediately after trivializing said encounter. Call it poor resource use, but it's something that the DM needs to work around, and it can cause friction within the group (since it's unlikely that all of the players will appreciate this "cheesy" playstyle).



That cheesy playstyle happens to be the one me and my friends have been enjoying for the last 20 years...

That's also the best selling RPG of 2011's playstyle.


Please provide a citation if you're going to make such a claim.  As far as I know WotC doesn't release their sales figures so unless you're an employee with access to that information, you have no data to back up your assertion that PF outsold D&D. 

Whether or not you (or anyone) enjoys playing a badly designed system grossly imbalanced system is irrelevant.  You already have your badly designed grossly imbalanced system, and you're already happy playing it.  Why should WotC waste more money intentionally designing out-dated mechanics without learning from the past mistakes of earlier editions? 

Furthermore, I'm honestly curious why you find the 5 minute workday fun.  It's not even resource management because you're just unloading all of your big guns right away.  It prevents the DM from easily designing encounters or a believable narrative, and it creates friction in a lot of groups.


Quite simply, it's bad design.

 
 
From a mechanical point of view, you're right. But it sure is fun to play with. No wait, it's the most fun magic system I ever played with. That's good design in my book.


See above.  I won't even get into the "fun is subjective, and people who want to play Fighters disagree with you" argument. 

I will say that it's a lot easier to design an imbalanced game, so there's no reason to pay designers to do it for you (moreso because you already have that game).  You want to completely destroy all encounters?  Make a spell called "Destroy Enemies."  It's Finger of Death, but it affects everyone in the room that the caster wants to die.  Does that sound fun?  God I hope no one thinks so...
  
   
Furthermore, having different modules that allow one person to play a Vancian Wizard and another to play an AEDU Wizard (for example) in the same group will not solve any problems because the Vancian caster can ruin balance for the rest of the party.

 
 
That's exactly where you're not getting my point of view. It's hard to explain in a foreign language but I'll try my best.

The problem is not vancian vs. non vancian. The problem is old school D&D magic vs. new generation D&D magic. In the D&D of our ancestors, the one that has been played for over 30 years (minus 3 years of 4th edition), magic could do all the things that a lot of 4th edition players would find totally inacceptable and broken.
   
Both version are equally valid ways to play the game. If your group likes "new generation D&D magic", then of course if someone plays an "old school D&D magic user" you're going to percieve him as overpowered because he'll do things you don't think he should be able to do.

Now if you want "old school D&D magic" style in your game, a non vancian spellcaster is very compatible (like the 3.5 warlock).


I completely agree that the fundamental differences between different types of D&D players are too great to please with a single game.  A player who values balance between all classes and one who specifically wants a certain class to be blatantly better than others cannot be happy playing the same game.  Modules will not solve this problem when the issue isn't one of playstyle, but of fundamental preferences in the way the game itself plays. 

As for both versions being equally valid, you're right to the extent that anyone is free to play whatever they want.  If some groups like their Wizards to be Link to the Fighter's Navi, that's their perogative.  I disagree, however, that both versions are equally valid from a game design standpoint.  Dewey's "I Win" card game is not as equally valid a game as Poker, or Euchre, or any other actual card game that allows all participants roughly equal chances of success.
      

One possible solution is a momentum-building mechanic; for example, let's say that a Vancian caster cannot access all of his spells at the beginning of the day, but "unlocks" uses of spells as the party overcomes more encounters.  Or you can call it a "recharge" with a smaller number of starting options.  Of course if you go this route people will complain that Vancian has been "changed" even if that change was necessary to balance it.  And then of course you have those players who like Vancian because it's unbalanced.  WotC simply cannot cater to that group of people and those that value balance because they're preferences are mutually exclusive.



It's not a solution. You're looking for a concensus between old school D&D players and the new generation of D&D players. There is none possible. The differences are too fundamental.



My example is not a solution for making grognards happy, but it can potentially make Vancian casting more balanced.  In other words, new design like this can make for a better game, even if it doesn't make a game that everyone wants to play (which I agree, is impossible). 

I wish you didn't make it sound like there was a general concensus on what balance is... Be open minded a bit! Your way of playing is not balanced, it's just your way.


Yes, balance can be defined, and there are different types, but some kinds of balance are objectively better than others from a game-design standpoint.  For example, the "temporal" balance of spellcasters being weak and low levels and getting rewarded by being all-powerful at high levels is not good design.  A small fraction of players actually play their characters from level 1 through 20 (or 30, or whatever level your preferred edition caps at).  If a group starts play at level 10, the spellcaster "weakness" is completely circumvented, and anyone who wants to play a Fighter is out of luck

For my part, I had the opposite problem that many people did with 3.x.  I prefer spellcasters, but our usual DM almost exclusivly ran low level campaigns (1-3), we never kept characters more than a few sessions, and his favorite class was the Fighter.  Our resident power gamer's class was also the Fighter.  So I got crapped on simply because I like to play a certain archetype (which I didn't even really get to play because I'd fire off my handful of spells impotently and then resort to being more like an annoying fly to my enemies than a legitimate threat).  It sucked but seeing as that was when I was new to RPGs in general I just figured that's the way it had to be.  It was still more interesting than playing "I Win," but from a mechanical perspective it felt pretty similar. 

Good balance is when everyone can make valuable contributions at any level because it's the only way of ensuring that balance is actually relevant in practice. 
 

Then you have to consider that even if they do succeed against all odds, future imbalances (or even just inevitable power creep) will affect Vancian casters disproportionally because of the very nature of their mechanics.  For example, if an overpowered daily is introduced in 4E then a player who takes it gains an advantage in one fight per day.  If an overpowered spell is introduced, however, then the caster can use all of his relevant spell slots to prepare that overpowered spell and become proportionally more powerful than a non-Vancian character even if the degree of imbalance between the power and the spell is the same.  Because balance becomes tougher to achieve as the number of options increases, Vancian casters will become more and more overpowered as more splatbooks are released.  It certainly happened with 3.xE (heck, imbalance became worse even as more powerful monsters were released thanks to Wild Shape and Polymorph).



I hope by now you got it! This is your very own definition of balance and it's not the one everybody shares. You won't have to use the "old school" material if you don't want it in your games. But let those that want it have it. And don't try to "fix" things for these "old school" players. We don't want your way of doing things, we don't want your fixes, we don't want your definition of balance. Play with your toys, let us play with ours.


Again, the problem comes from the fact that when 1 person in a group wants Vancian magic, he forces an imbalance on the whole group.  This is mostly a problem because the designers are claiming that PCs of very different playstyles and complexities can exist in the same party.  What they will end up with is an imbalanced game that will fail to please a large portion of their fans, and instead they'll be catering to players that have been playing happily with their older books, as well as angering customers that were already loyal to them (those that want the game to evolve, as it did with 4E) in favor of customers that already abandoned them once (for PF) and may not even come back.  This whole fiasco looks like it's shaping up to be a bad mix of bad business and bad game design. 

Why try to please everyone (and endeavor that is sure to fail, and they can't be so naive as to think otherwise) if it means sacrificing the quality of the product?
The more I hear about Next, the less faith I have in it.


Same here.  I was intrigued (excited?) at first, but each new announcement seems to be confirmation that the designers are taking a step back in the wrong direction.

I resisted temptation for a long time because I'm mostly an "official rules" kind of guy, but I've finally begun writing up my own set of house rules to fix the things I don't like about 4E.  When they stop publishing 4E books, I'll consider my set complete, and that's the game I'll probably end up playing for some time to come.


I'd be very interested in seeing this list.  I've been thinking about doing the same thing myself, but I'm no professional game designer so it would be helpful to get other opinions on possible fixes. 

Some changes will be pretty straightforward (i.e. free Expertise and Improved Defenses), but others like a re-vamp of the magic item system (IMO 4E's worst quality) will be more tricky, especially if it means providing some of the more item-dependent classes with some new perks (Warlocks come to mind, and to a lesser extent Druids).

@alien270:

I cannot believe this... I'm basically telling you that there is more than one way to play D&D, and you just answer that there shouldn't. It's ludicrous. I respect your notion of a balanced game even though it's not my kind of fun, is it too hard to ask for you to do the same? Seriously, who do you think you are to question my personal tastes?

And your arguments on balance, on my god... Seriously? Have you ever played the former editions of D&D? Do you really think D&D would have survived 30 years with the totally broken unplayable rules you're talking about? How can you even say that balance is an absolute concept when people call Rope Trick broken.

And about those idiots that have been playing D&D for 30 years, don't you think they deserve an upgraded version of D&D as much as you do? 4th edition has a lot of really interesting mechanical concepts and some great support tools for DM never seen before in the other editions of D&D. Seriously, their approach on save or die is brilliant. It's full of really ingeneous ideas that I would love to see in my 2nd edition flavored games.
     
And I think my concerns about people wanting to "fix" the wizard are perfectly valid. As a 2nd edition fan, it's my role to remind people that this vancian wizard you despise so much is part of the 2nd edition flavor. And D&D Next is about bringing all D&D fans under the same unified rules; all the fans, that's you and me alike.

But if this thread is, as I know suspect it to be, about brainstorming on how to make a vancian spellcaster "balanced" in the 4th edition sense, then please proceed. I am curious about what makes 4th edition so popular.
Honestly, I believe the way wizards, and for that matter all spell casters, should be fixed in 5e is for WotC to take the same approach on casting that they did in their Wheel of Time RPG. The shear number of spells known is dropped, at level one mages have to choose two affinities (schools of magic which they have practiced and are relatively good at) and every other kind of spell takes a spell slot higher to cast, spells don't level with you instead their power (damage, duration, DC, etc.) is based on the slot you cast it in, and finally allowing them to overchannel (i.e they can try to continue casting after they use up all of their spell slots at the risk of possibly damaging themselves and/or can try to cast higher level spells, again at an immense risk of damaging themselves).
@alien270:

I cannot believe this... I'm basically telling you that there is more than one way to play D&D, and you just answer that there shouldn't. It's ludicrous. I respect your notion of a balanced game even though it's not my kind of fun, is it too hard to ask for you to do the same? Seriously, who do you think you are to question my personal tastes?

And your arguments on balance, on my god... Seriously? Have you ever played the former editions of D&D? Do you really think D&D would have survived 30 years with the totally broken unplayable rules you're talking about? How can you even say that balance is an absolute concept when people call Rope Trick broken.

And about those idiots that have been playing D&D for 30 years, don't you think they deserve an upgraded version of D&D as much as you do? 4th edition has a lot of really interesting mechanical concepts and some great support tools for DM never seen before in the other editions of D&D. Seriously, their approach on save or die is brilliant. It's full of really ingeneous ideas that I would love to see in my 2nd edition flavored games.
     
And I think my concerns about people wanting to "fix" the wizard are perfectly valid. As a 2nd edition fan, it's my role to remind people that this vancian wizard you despise so much is part of the 2nd edition flavor. And D&D Next is about bringing all D&D fans under the same unified rules; all the fans, that's you and me alike.

But if this thread is, as I know suspect it to be, about brainstorming on how to make a vancian spellcaster "balanced" in the 4th edition sense, then please proceed. I am curious about what makes 4th edition so popular.



well i think the point that was mentioned about spells no longer scaling with level might go a long way when it comes to balance.
casters tended to increase power faster  becouse they gained power in 2 ways, increasing the amount of spells and the spells they already have increase with power.