Vancian magic, dailies, encounter powers. Let’s help the game designers get it right this time.

D&D without vancian magic and the huge spell list that goes with it doesn’t feel at all like the game I grew up with. And I’m not talking about 4th-edition style vancian magic, that’s a fraud. I’m talking about a wizard that has 10-20 spells to pick every day and try to make the best out of these.


I know a lot of you guys hate this idea but I think that a lot of your grudges with vancian magic aren’t tied to vancian magic at all but to how it was implemented in the former editions.


I’ll start this thread by revisiting a few of the things I heard on vancian magic.


Myth n°1: vancian magic is the 5-minute work day


Show
The 5-minute work day is a fraud and 4th edition is here to prove it. The optimal strategy in 4th edition is to burn all your dailies and action points in the first fight and then sleep. Why doesn’t anyone complain about this?

I think the biggest problem with the older editions is that a cleric’s mace swing or the wizard’s crossbow is so unbelievably inferior to spells that casters need to use a spell every round to be useful.


So yes, I’m saying it, the 5 minute work day problem is not a vancian magic problem but a lame at-will attack problem. I know for a fact that, as the DM, if you give your party cleric a cool mace that actually does damage and the wizard a nice wand or staff, you get your 5 encounters a day without forcing your players to go on.


The only situation where the 5 minute work day problem occurred I my games is when you need to use your spells for out-of-combat stuff (you know, when 5 out of your 10 spells are invisibility). Good thing we’re going to have rituals to fix this.


Myth n°2: vancian magic is the wizard going nova


Show
This is another misunderstanding on how vancian magic worked back then. Before 4th edition, your spells were your only valid thing to do each round of combat. The purpose of your spells with vancian magic is the same as your at-will attacks in 4th edition.

Is attacking every round with an at-will attack “going nova”?


You might be tempted to argue that you can burn all your higher level spells, but let’s be honest here, your damaging spells scale with level and “deep slumber” pretty much has the same effect “finger of death” has, so you have a little nova effect but it’s really not so bad that your best option is always to use your higher level spells.


People argue that it’s not fair for the wizard to be able to choose when to use his cool toys. I believe they are wrong, the wizard is not choosing when to use them; he has his cool toys all day long because those are his basic attack. The real question is why fighters were so incredibly boring in the earlier editions.


Myth n°3: vancian magic is quadratic wizard, linear fighter


Show
1d6 damage per level is linear. Once you realize that spells are to casters what arrows are to archers, you realize that your damage actually scales linearly and that the only effect the extra spell slots have is to increase the size of your quiver.

Fact n°1: Too many spells gives casters too much versatility.


Show
“Oh godly wizard” that outshines all the other classes is indeed a problem. If you assume 5 encounters a day of 5 rounds each, then a caster should not have more than 25 spells per day. Any excess spell is going to be a long duration buff or one of those utility spells such as invisibility, knock or charm person. A 3rd edition wizard has roughly 50 spells per day at level 20. He only needs 25 for combat, so we’re talking about 25 spells such as charm person, heroism, knock, invisibility, greater mage armor, stoneskin, wizard’s eye, etc… I personally see a problem with this.

Fact n°2: The caster vs. non caster balance was a total fail in the previous editions (especially 3rd edition).


Show
A 3rd edition wizard had a 75% chance to disable his opponent with one spell (save or die). Your spells are supposed to be your at-will attacks. How is this balanced? That’s the balance problem. And beyond the pure balance issue, why is a wizard’s everyday attack a cool Wall of Fire when the fighter gets a boring sword swing (or even a trip)?

So that’s it for how I think vancian magic should fit in the whole system. Now I’ll talk about daily powers and encounter powers.


I don’t want dailies as implemented in 4th edition. It’s just too swingy. You want your hard fights to be challenging; you want your players to actually experience the fear of losing. To achieve this with daily powers, you pretty much have to make a wild guess on how many daily powers your players will have by the time they get to the hard fight. If the PCs make it to the boss with too many dailies, the fight is trivial and boring, if the PCs don’t have enough of them and you actually wanted to challenge the PCs, they’ll probably die.


I don’t want encounter powers as a damage scaling mechanism. An encounter power shouldn’t deal more damage than your at-will attacks. Encounter powers should either be a tactical move or a cool cinematic move, depending on whether you want tactical combat like in 4th edition or more cinematic like in the previous editions. I see a potential option paralysis if encounter or daily powers deal more damage. Two things can make the difference in a battle: taking out your first opponent as quickly as possible and using your tactical moves at the right moment. In the first case, you want to use your most damaging attacks at the beginning of the fight; in the second, you want to delay until the right moment. These two options are incompatible and that’s why I think it can lead to option paralysis.


Anyways, with all of this in mind, this is what I would do:



  1. Get rid of encounter powers and daily spells that deal extra damage. Each class starts with an at-will attack that is boring and only does damage. All of these at-will attacks are roughly equivalent. This attack scales with level.

  2. Each class gets a limited amount of cool moves to use in combat. If a wizard or cleric gets vancian spells then the fighter gets encounter powers that do cool things. If you assume that 5 encounters per day is normal, then for every encounter power a fighter has, your wizard or cleric should have 3 to 5 spell slots. The exact exchange rate really depends on how much you value the extra versatility. The whole trick to make things balanced here is to have encounter powers roughly as efficient as vancian spells.

  3. If a wizard or cleric has a spell that deals damage, the damage should be roughly equivalent to an at-will attack. Magic Missile with no attack roll would make a great spell because it’s reliable. Fireball that does 20%-50% less damage than an at-will attack would also be fine because of the AOE and the save half part. Get rid of all the rays and turn them into other at-will attack forms. Spells need to scale with level.

  4. If a wizard can cast sleep, then by the time the wizard gets his 3rd spell slot, the fighter should be able to use an encounter power that has the same effect as sleep. It might be more than 3rd spell slot depending on what else the fighter has. You might also decide that some classes should be better at applying some effects than others. For instance, maybe immobilized or slowed is the fighter’s business, weakened is the rogue’s business and unconscious is the wizard’s business.

  5. Casters need to lose access to their lower level spell slots as they gain the higher level ones. We want to restrict a caster’s versatility a bit.

  6. Combat spells that mimic and out of combat utility spell should have shorter durations. Invisibility or Fly might have a duration of 1 minute making it nearly useless outside of combat.


 


And that’s about all I can think of. The trick here is to give non casters a believable mechanism that gives them cool moves once in a while. Once you do that, vancian magic really isn’t that bad. It’s just added versatility.


This is an example of what such a mechanism could look like:


Show
The fighter gets 1 fatigue point per level that he can spend on combat maneuvers. At the end of an encounter, a fighter may spend a minute to catch his breath and regain all his fatigue points.

At level 1, a wizard can cast Sleep once per day. At level 1, a fighter can combine the effects of an attack and a bull rush once per encounter using that fatigue point.


At 3rd level, the wizard can cast 3 spells per day including a Sleep. The rogue can select a new maneuver “Knockout” that costs 3 fatigue points and allows the rogue to knock out an opponent using a sap.


At 13th level, a wizard can cast 3 spells of level 6 or higher, including Disintegrate. The fighter can select a new maneuver “Decapitating Strike” that costs 13 fatigue points and allows the fighter to make an attack that potentially can kill his opponent.


This is just a quick and dirty example but you get the overall idea. Maybe 1 fatigue per level is no good. Maybe it should be something similar to what you have with 3.5 psionics except that you divide the daily power points by 5 to obtain your power points per encounter. I really don’t care to be honest, as long as the fighters and rogues are fun to play too.



Anyways, I hope I managed to convince the vancian haters that it doesn't have to be broken.
@Gnarl
Bless you for trying Gnarl and your ideas for a new system seem interesting.  Your defenses of vancian in general were not as good but hey I'm with you bud.

I am leaving now though because I smell the discernable scent of a fireball approaching.  Good luck my man. 

My Blog which includes my Hobby Award Winning articles.

I understand the desire to defend vancian-style casting.

But to be honest, many groups did have problems with the wizard/fighter disparity.

High int granted extra spells but high str didn't grant extra attacks. Fighters extra attacks required them to remain stationary and nearly always missed.

Higher caster level added damage to spells (fireballs, etc). But higher levels didn't add damage to fighters attacks.

Evards tentacles locked down a group in a single action. 3rd ed grappling was like doing your taxes.

4th wasn't a fraud. It was a sincere response to address certain problems.

I've played every edition thoroughly and had my most fun in 3rd and 4th.

I have found each edition better than its predecessor.

That said. I like your fixes - but I don't like fatigue points per se.

Then again, I never saw a problem with "encounter exploits."
@Gnarl
If I'm reading you correctly, you're suggesting that all classes get at-wills that scale with level, while non-casters get the equivalent of encounter powers with no dailies and casters get Vancian spells but no encounter powers.

This is an improvement over pre-4e mechanics, but still problematic.

A basic attack with a push (or whatever level-appropriate effect) is not even close to having the encounter-winning power of a Sleep (or whatever) spell.  And even if fighter maneuvers were balanced with wizard spells, giving one an encounter power mechanic while giving another a daily mechanic requires a relatively narrow range of encounters per day to remain balanced.

The other problem with Vancian spellcasting as a whole is that the preparation mechanic leads to HUGE amounts of decision paralysis.  Which spells do I prepare today?  What mix of combat and utility spells?  How many of each spell?  This was the main reason lots of people (including me) couldn't stand playing a wizard back in the day.  Even playing a cleric or druid was annoying (though being able to swap spell slots for heals or summons helped a bit; my druid in 3.5 wound up putting most of his spell slots into a standard set of animal companion buffs and letting his dire wolf pet go to town).  Being free from that decision paralysis (while still being able to throw down big spells) meant that 4e was the first edition I had fun playing a wizard.
Fact 1: Ok, true, but not coompletely. True they had a lot of spells at high level, and they basicaly became at will powers, but there are some things I disagree. With your analysis you assumed fighting to last for 5 round each. And it can be as false as religion for an atheist. It all depend. In my experience we hardly ever reached 5 fights a day, but all of our fight were thought and lasted much more than 5 round, and, after the day was over, we either faced no fight at all, or more than 25 rounds. This said, low level spell when you reach high lever are of very, very little utility in combat. You came to say me that any spell lower than 4th level, in a battle of c.r. 20 or more, is actualy going to make any difference?
 
Fact 2: This is mere a personal opinion. Call it unluck with master's save or what you want, but i always found save or die mechanic unreliable. High dc were backed by fearsome high saves from most of high level monsters. The problems can came from no save spells or sometimes too strong support ones. Damaging spells were ridicoulus in my opinion, I'm not even going to onsider them. Usefull only in case of loads of weak opponents.
Then, if you are a fighter, what else could you do over than swinging your weapon? If you want to make a fighter as the idea of a medieval warrior (as it was) then there isn't much more you can do.


As for the solution I've something to say as well:
 
1: You want to balance a wizard and consider at will spells? Am I the only one who see contradittion in this? And, furthermore, I dislike at will spells over than 0 level ones.

3: what? It's the same old thing: wizard can teleport so I want my fighter to teleport too. I see no sense in this. You role a fighter? Than you are cool at fighting and damage dealing, but no funny effect like hipnotyze an enemy. If you pick a barbarian I do not belive you want to be skilled socialy and if you pick a bard you know fighting isn't your thing. So if you pick a fighter all you have is fighting, and maybe some use of diplomacy if your fighter comes from nobles etcetera. Thow there can be some interesting things a fighter can do, you can give him moves to disarm and opponent, to hurt him in some particoular body part to give a malus, like you aim to the leg and he gets a move penality, but I belive they should be not detached from the sword swinging thing.
If you want to have more with a fighter make a good character that gives rolistic satisfaction. That's how I see it.

4: Better, since forgetting them is just a rolistic nonsence just make them so in high levels re useless. Otherwise  it's like I'm a mathematician and as I learn new and more advanced theories I forget the bases, like the addition.

5: This is because you see wizard as a fighting stuff. I'd prefer no combat utility and out of the combat spells. That's all a matter of what you think magic should do.
Regarding linearity, yes 1d6 per caster level is linear.  But what's not linear is a 3.5 caster's total power level, because in addition to the 1d6 per caster level increase in each spell's power you also get more spells.  Linearity can be achieved if the spells don't get more powerful when the caster levels up.  At that stage, the caster increases in power through access to more powerful spells, but not an increase in the power of spells already available.

If you misunderstand relationships like this, your overall conclusions will inevitably be incorrect, though I do approve of the overall goal.  Many of the criticisms of Vancian systems (such as 5-minute workday) are present in any system with resource management, so they have to be dealt with regardless.  Most of the rest of the criticisms are largely due to the fact that balance, linearity, and all those other 4e-style design goals weren't design goals for previous systems.  That there hasn't been a balanced Vancian system should not be a surprise because none of them even attempted to be balanced.  And lack of proof that Vancian can be balanced is not the same thing as proof of lack.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition

If I'm reading you correctly, you're suggesting that all classes get at-wills that scale with level, while non-casters get the equivalent of encounter powers with no dailies and casters get Vancian spells but no encounter powers.



More importantly, I'm suggesting that a fighter's encounter power should be as powerful or more powerful than a caster's vancian spell.

The only added value of the vancian caster is versatility but the cost of this versatility is that you might not have the option when you need it.


A basic attack with a push (or whatever level-appropriate effect) is not even close to having the encounter-winning power of a Sleep (or whatever) spell.  And even if fighter maneuvers were balanced with wizard spells, giving one an encounter power mechanic while giving another a daily mechanic requires a relatively narrow range of encounters per day to remain balanced.



You start with a push at level 1 because a fighter that can use a sleep maneuver once per encounter is not exactly balanced compared to a wizard that can cast sleep once per day. But the moment the wizard has enough spell slots to be able to cast sleep once per encounter (i.e. 5 times per day), then the fighter should be able to use his sleep maneuver once per encounter.

And since I think versatility is worth a lot, I think that by the time the wizard can cast sleep 3 times per day (not even once per encounter), the fighter should be able to use his sleep maneuver once per encounter.


The other problem with Vancian spellcasting as a whole is that the preparation mechanic leads to HUGE amounts of decision paralysis.  Which spells do I prepare today?  What mix of combat and utility spells?  How many of each spell?  This was the main reason lots of people (including me) couldn't stand playing a wizard back in the day.



That's why it's important to have other classes that don't use the vancian mechanism.

Being free from that decision paralysis (while still being able to throw down big spells) meant that 4e was the first edition I had fun playing a wizard.



The decision paralysis is because you have to chose between your 'good options' and 'no option'. If your only choice is cool option (encounter/vancian spell) vs. boring but as effecient option (at-will), then you don't have decision paralysis. Either it's the right moment to use your cool spell and you use it, if you don't see any use for any of your spells, you just attack with your at-will.
But to be honest, many groups did have problems with the wizard/fighter disparity.



Not a vancian problem. It's a class design problem. Why did the game designers think that having a fighter with boring infinite swings was fun to play?


High int granted extra spells but high str didn't grant extra attacks.



Not a vancian problem.

The extra spells was a failed attempt to avoid the 5-minute work day problem at lower levels.


Fighters extra attacks required them to remain stationary and nearly always missed. Higher caster level added damage to spells (fireballs, etc). But higher levels didn't add damage to fighters attacks.



Not a vancian problem.

I agree with you though. All of these are a problem that are solved by giving the fighter something fun to do.


Evards tentacles locked down a group in a single action. 3rd ed grappling was like doing your taxes.



That spell certainly needs a fix. Having a saving throw every round should probably do the trick.

But once again, this is not a problem related to vancian magic.


4th wasn't a fraud. It was a sincere response to address certain problems.



I wouldn't dare say that of 4th edition. What is a fraud is people that basically say: "stop bitching gnarl, you have vancian spellcasting in 4th edition. Look you have 10 spell slots at level 30 and you get to choose between 2 spells for each of these slots". That's not satisfying at all for an old school vancian magic lover and that's what I called a fraud.


That said. I like your fixes - but I don't like fatigue points per se. Then again, I never saw a problem with "encounter exploits."



I have a hard time explaining why encounter powers work like that. I also have a hard time explaining the recharge mechanisms of Tome of Battle. Back then I was so happy to finally have something fun to do with a melee guy that I didn't really mind.

But if I have to choose between no option and weird mechanics, I choose weird mechanics. If I have to choose between believable mechanics and weird mechanics, I choose believable.
But to be honest, many groups did have problems with the wizard/fighter disparity.



Not a vancian problem. It's a class design problem. Why did the game designers think that having a fighter with boring infinite swings was fun to play?

Lack of imagination, mostly.

What a high-level fighter should be:


D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Regarding linearity, yes 1d6 per caster level is linear.  But what's not linear is a 3.5 caster's total power level, because in addition to the 1d6 per caster level increase in each spell's power you also get more spells.  Linearity can be achieved if the spells don't get more powerful when the caster levels up.  At that stage, the caster increases in power through access to more powerful spells, but not an increase in the power of spells already available.



Your total damage per day is finite and increases quadratically with level. That's true.

In any encounter where you will be able to cast one spell per round, your average damage per spell is 1d6
damage per level and that's linear.

I'm saying that if you assume that the wizard doesn't stop and shouldn't stop when he runs out of spells, then it's quadratic, if you assume that the wizard stops when he's out of spells, then it's linear because your damage per spell scales linearly with level.


If you misunderstand relationships like this, your overall conclusions will inevitably be incorrect, though I do approve of the overall goal. 



I'm looking at it from a different perspective. More specifically, I'm looking at what vancian spellcasting looks like if you include an at-will attack that deals 1d6 damage per level.

My thoery is that none of the critics of the vancian system stand the moment you include an at-will attack that is a viable option.


Many of the criticisms of Vancian systems (such as 5-minute workday) are present in any system with resource management, so they have to be dealt with regardless.



Agreed. And I'm saying that 4th edition did a better job than the other editions because casters always have something to do and fighters finally have something fun to do.

I'm also saying that most of the problems we had in the older editions were not related to the vancian mechanics.

  1. Casters being able to choose from a huge amount of spells. This leads to extreme versatility, which leads to having to think about the caster far more than about everything else. This is bad for the game, it puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

  2. Casters being able to choose from very specific spells, which means having spells that can do anything. If you have spells that can do anything (if you have the correct one prepared) then the spells the wizard has prepared are far more important than everything else in the whole party. If the wizard has spell Solve Situation 1167AA56 (bis) then the whole encounter is gone. This also puts way more emphasis on the spellcaster's spell preparation, which tends to take up more time as a consequence. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

  3. Casters having spells that are significantly better than what trained people can do at-will. This is pretty much a given in a system where there are daily resources, because daily powers need to be more powerful than at-wills by design assumption. However, this also means the wizard can outshine other people when he casts spells. Giving him a limit on how many spells he casts can either lead to a very useless wizard or more likely leads to a wizard dirtying his hands only on important matters. This means the wizard will be able to (and will most likely) outshine the rest of the party when the situation is dire, or important, or relevant, or in any case when it is most crucial to succeed. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

  4. Casters having spells that give lasting benefits and recharge on a daily basis. This includes non-expensive divinations as the worst offender, but also includes stuff like creation spells, teleportation spells, stuff like that. In general, it means that a wizard can make use of downtime way more effectively than a non-caster by devoting a percentage of his spell slots (which he is unlikely to need during downtime) to spells that grant long-lasting benefits. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

  5. Casters needing more than 3 minutes to prepare their spells. Seriously. Takes too much time, time that the rest of the party spends doing nothing and getting bored and playing Angry Birds with their smartphone. This is bad because (you guessed it!) it puts too much emphasis on the wizard.


If you solve these issues we can talk about Vancian casting. If you don't solve all these issues, I don't even want to think about reintroducing Vancian casting.
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
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
Casters being able to choose from a huge amount of spells. This leads to extreme versatility, which leads to having to think about the caster far more than about everything else. This is bad for the game, it puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

You know me by now . You know I would like vancian spellcasting to be "combat spells" only. Rituals should handle all the weird out of combat spells.

So you basically have 4 types of spells: direct damage (including AOE), save or die (including nasty debuffs such as slow or ray of enfeeblement), hazardeous terrain, and defense (including fly; all of which have a duration of 1 minute maximum).

You can have dozens of different versions of fireball, if all of them deal 1d6/level, they're pretty much all the same.

You can have dozens of different versions of a save or die spell. The target falls asleep, is transformed into a pink poney that likes to disguise as a ninja or is killed is pretty much the same thing. Does it matter to have a dozen different version of these? Not really.

And so on. If invidual spells of each levels are consistent with one another, it's really not that big of a deal.

I also think that casters should loose the lower level spells slots as they gain the higher ones in order to obtain a maximum number of spells per day.

Casters being able to choose from very specific spells, which means having spells that can do anything. If you have spells that can do anything (if you have the correct one prepared) then the spells the wizard has prepared are far more important than everything else in the whole party. If the wizard has spell Solve Situation 1167AA56 (bis) then the whole encounter is gone. This also puts way more emphasis on the spellcaster's spell preparation, which tends to take up more time as a consequence. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.



Same thing as 1) right?


Casters having spells that are significantly better than what trained people can do at-will. This is pretty much a given in a system where there are daily resources, because daily powers need to be more powerful than at-wills by design assumption. However, this also means the wizard can outshine other people when he casts spells. Giving him a limit on how many spells he casts can either lead to a very useless wizard or more likely leads to a wizard dirtying his hands only on important matters. This means the wizard will be able to (and will most likely) outshine the rest of the party when the situation is dire, or important, or relevant, or in any case when it is most crucial to succeed. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.



Why should a wizard's daily spell be better than a fighter's at-will spell?

That's pretty much my whole line of defense. You can't decently call something you can do 50 times per day a daily spell because you can use them unrestricted. At least not in the 4th edition sense. It has a daily recharge mechanism but that's where the comparison ends.

So either you tone down the power of a spell, either you increase the effeciency of a fighter. I think I would like Tome of Battle style maneuvers and nerfed save or die/open ended spells. That sounds about right to me, but that's a whole other debate.

Casters having spells that give lasting benefits and recharge on a daily basis. This includes non-expensive divinations as the worst offender, but also includes stuff like creation spells, teleportation spells, stuff like that. In general, it means that a wizard can make use of downtime way more effectively than a non-caster by devoting a percentage of his spell slots (which he is unlikely to need during downtime) to spells that grant long-lasting benefits. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.



One word: rituals.

Casters needing more than 3 minutes to prepare their spells. Seriously. Takes too much time, time that the rest of the party spends doing nothing and getting bored and playing Angry Birds with their smartphone. This is bad because (you guessed it!) it puts too much emphasis on the wizard.



This is really bad if you have to choose between combat and out-of-combat.

Players I know usually use the same spell list all the time. The only time they change it is when they have to adapt to a specific environmental constraint (like fighting on the elemental plane of fire or fighting undeads).


If you solve these issues we can talk about Vancian casting. If you don't solve all these issues, I don't even want to think about reintroducing Vancian casting.



High level 3rd edition broken madness isn't my type of fun either.
I know a lot of you guys hate this idea but I think that a lot of your grudges with vancian magic aren’t tied to vancian magic at all but to how it was implemented in the former editions.


Well, yeah, but fixes generally make it 'not the Vancian magic the defenders of Vancian magic want'.
Myth n°1: vancian magic is the 5-minute work day


Daily powers is the 5 minute work day. It just happens that vancian magic includes daily powers.
Myth n°2: vancian magic is the wizard going nova


Not a myth. Vancian magic gave you a fairly small amount of your 'good' spells, which you could reasonably burn in a single fight. That's a nova.
Myth n°3: vancian magic is quadratic wizard, linear fighter


That was an implementation problem, but in 1e, you got more spells, and your spells got better. That's quadratic.
Fact n°1: Too many spells gives casters too much versatility


Your response seems to be missing the problem. This is inherently a vancian magic problem, and it's a function of the size of your spellbook, not a function of the number of spells you can cast. A vancian mage who can cast 1 spell per day, but can choose between 100 spells, manages to be simultaneously too versatile and most likely underpowered.


Anyways, with all of this in mind, this is what I would do:



  1. Get rid of encounter powers and daily spells that deal extra damage. Each class starts with an at-will attack that is boring and only does damage. All of these at-will attacks are roughly equivalent. This attack scales with level.

  2. Each class gets a limited amount of cool moves to use in combat. If a wizard or cleric gets vancian spells then the fighter gets encounter powers that do cool things. If you assume that 5 encounters per day is normal, then for every encounter power a fighter has, your wizard or cleric should have 3 to 5 spell slots. The exact exchange rate really depends on how much you value the extra versatility. The whole trick to make things balanced here is to have encounter powers roughly as efficient as vancian spells.

  3. If a wizard or cleric has a spell that deals damage, the damage should be roughly equivalent to an at-will attack. Magic Missile with no attack roll would make a great spell because it’s reliable. Fireball that does 20%-50% less damage than an at-will attack would also be fine because of the AOE and the save half part. Get rid of all the rays and turn them into other at-will attack forms. Spells need to scale with level.

  4. If a wizard can cast sleep, then by the time the wizard gets his 3rd spell slot, the fighter should be able to use an encounter power that has the same effect as sleep. It might be more than 3rd spell slot depending on what else the fighter has. You might also decide that some classes should be better at applying some effects than others. For instance, maybe immobilized or slowed is the fighter’s business, weakened is the rogue’s business and unconscious is the wizard’s business.

  5. Casters need to lose access to their lower level spell slots as they gain the higher level ones. We want to restrict a caster’s versatility a bit.

  6. Combat spells that mimic and out of combat utility spell should have shorter durations. Invisibility or Fly might have a duration of 1 minute making it nearly useless outside of combat.




Okay, I don't even understand what you're trying to do with your 'no increased damage' logic. The point of special moves is that they're in some way better. Doing more damage is a way of being better. Your balancing of
'5 spells vs 1 encounter power' simply doesn't work, because you cannot make reliable assumptions about encounters per day. Either everyone has daily resources, or no-one has daily resources. They don't have to be in the same form (for example, you could give the wizard 5 spells, and the fighter 5 action points), but you can't balance across variable encounters per day except by making sure everyone has the same power boost for only having a single encounter.

You know me by now . You know I would like vancian spellcasting to be "combat spells" only. Rituals should handle all the weird out of combat spells.


So you basically have 4 types of spells: direct damage (including AOE), save or die (including nasty debuffs such as slow or ray of enfeeblement), hazardeous terrain, and defense (including fly; all of which have a duration of 1 minute maximum).

You can have dozens of different versions of fireball, if all of them deal 1d6/level, they're pretty much all the same.

You can have dozens of different versions of a save or die spell. The target falls asleep, is transformed into a pink poney that likes to disguise as a ninja or is killed is pretty much the same thing. Does it matter to have a dozen different version of these? Not really.

And so on. If invidual spells of each levels are consistent with one another, it's really not that big of a deal.

I also think that casters should loose the lower level spells slots as they gain the higher ones in order to obtain a maximum number of spells per day.




Well that solves most of my issues, sure. But you're bound to encounter resistance there (at least I did).

Same thing as 1) right?



Not quite the same thing. But your solution works for both. 

Why should a wizard's daily spell be better than a fighter's at-will spell?

That's pretty much my whole line of defense. You can't decently call something you can do 50 times per day a daily spell because you can use them unrestricted. At least not in the 4th edition sense. It has a daily recharge mechanism but that's where the comparison ends.

So either you tone down the power of a spell, either you increase the effeciency of a fighter. I think I would like Tome of Battle style maneuvers and nerfed save or die/open ended spells. That sounds about right to me, but that's a whole other debate.



Again, this sounds pretty good. But you're bound to find some resistance. After all, dailies have a limit, and at-wills don't.

One word: rituals.



Those solve most of it, if done right. I still have had over 60 questions asked to Hand of Fate in a single session, because 30-ish gps are just stupidly cheap at higher levels, but that's a price balancing issue.

This is really bad if you have to choose between combat and out-of-combat.

Players I know usually use the same spell list all the time. The only time they change it is when they have to adapt to a specific environmental constraint (like fighting on the elemental plane of fire or fighting undeads).



I've had my fair share of session time destroyed by "what shall I prepare for tomorrow?" discussions. The problem is that if they got the spell list right, pretty much everything would have been very simple. Shorter spell lists and combat only helps a lot.



So in the end, I like your general ideas. They don't look that much Vancian to me, but I can definitely buy a Vancian system that worked like that. However, I kinda feel you're going to encounter resistance on that stuff...
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
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
Usually I'm in lockstep with theMormegil.

However, in this instance, Gnarl is making a compelling point. Vancian casting, as a mechanic, isn't really the problem.

The problem was the number of spells, the power scaling by caster level, and the spell variety taking up 1/3 of the phb.

This problem was compounded by the poor fighter design.

Maybe 4th Ed's magic wasnt enough choices for Gnarl. Rituals were supposed to address that but didn't. Probably he would've been much happier with more spells to select. I don't mind that as long as there's reasonable parity.
Here is the best way to balance and control Vancian magic. Turn all Vancian casting into encounter based spells. During each short rest you study your spell books, pray to your god, commune with nature, etc and choose what spells you want to use for the next fight. As long as these spells are properly balanced and the caster can only prepare 5 or so spells at a time, then Vancian casting works. The casters will still have a lot of utility because they can switch spells with a short rest, but the nova, the 5 minute work day, and the god spell issues all go away. The non Vancian casters powers would probably need to be slightly more powerful to make up for the lack in versatility, but that should be fine. The caster has the ability to prepare the right spells for the right situations with careful planning and with only 5 spells per fight decision paralysis should be minimal.
The 5-minute work day is a fraud and 4th edition is here to prove it. The optimal strategy in 4th edition is to burn all your dailies and action points in the first fight and then sleep. Why doesn’t anyone complain about this?



Because it doesn't work out that way in the vast majority of real 4E games.  With a lot of classes you often aren't better off burning multiple dailies because the good dailies last all encounter and they are either sustainable or you can otheriwise only have one going at a time.

And since you have to spread out your extended rests, plot usually dictates its a bad idea as well.  I have played with a lot of groups and I don't think I have ever seen one that didn't average at least 3 combat encounters a day. Usually its the DM that is telling us we are done for the day after we have done 4-5 encounters.

I do agree that vancian can be balanced: make the spells not broken and give a true limited number of castings each day (no wands of invisibility etc.).  Give low levels casters some decent low level at will magic. Keep non casters useful and interesting at high levels.

Daily powers is the 5 minute work day. It just happens that vancian magic includes daily powers.



In theory yes. I didn't know it was a huge problem in 4th edition where the 5-minute work day problem is theoretically the worse in the history of D&D.

If it's not a problem in 4th edition, that means that there's another reason for the problem.


Not a myth. Vancian magic gave you a fairly small amount of your 'good' spells, which you could reasonably burn in a single fight. That's a nova.



And my first argument is that high level casters in the previous editions had 'not as good' spells that were not significantly weaker than 'good spells'.

You don't need Finger of Death if you have Baleful Polymorph. You don't need Delayed Blast Fireball if you have Cone of Cold because it's the same damage. You don't need Prismatic Wall when you can cast Wall of Force. Etc...

Most high level spell have a lower level version that is not significantly weaker. The nova effect is just not as anti-vancian like to pretend it is.

The real problem is at lower levels, when the wizard can go from shooting crossbows for 5 rounds basically watching the others do all the work and all the sudden go crazy on the spells. But this is not a vancian problem, it's a crap at-will problem and a lame fighter problem.


That was an implementation problem, but in 1e, you got more spells, and your spells got better. That's quadratic.



This is the harder one to explain. I'll try again but this is getting hopeless.

What I'm trying to say here is that the quadratic damage is very limited in scope. It ends the moment the caster has more spells per day than he can possibly use during the daily encounters.

If your wizard has 100 fireballs per day and only 25 rounds of combat per day. If the damage from a fireball increases linearly, then so does your damage because you'll never get to use those extra 75 fireballs that would create the quadratic damage effect.

Fact n°1: Too many spells gives casters too much versatility
Your response seems to be missing the problem. This is inherently a vancian magic problem, and it's a function of the size of your spellbook, not a function of the number of spells you can cast. A vancian mage who can cast 1 spell per day, but can choose between 100 spells, manages to be simultaneously too versatile and most likely underpowered.



I guess you're right on this one. Lowering the number of spells won't change the problem. Only getting them off the spell list and replacing them with rituals does the trick.


Okay, I don't even understand what you're trying to do with your 'no increased damage' logic. The point of special moves is that they're in some way better. Doing more damage is a way of being better.



I'm saying that "more damage" is just boring and not what people want. That's what the 3rd edition fighter does and nobody likes it. In my experience, fighters and rogues had save or die or near save or die in 3rd edition, it's called doing so much damage per round than you practically killing every critter in one round. But I think my group was special because the cleric, druid and wizard usually would all use long duration buffs to turn the fighter into a monster so I can understand why most people never saw this.

To make the game fun for everybody, you need each class to have something cool to do. It doesn't have to be more effecient than an at-will attack, it just has to be more colorful. The Tome of Battle maneuvers are inferior to a full attack and strangely, my players were still using Mountain Hammer... I'm saying that it's ok if your Wall of Fire is (usually) equal to your Javeline of Fire because one is cool and the other one is boring.

I'm also saying that if you want to use some kind of encounter mechanism to increase your damage per round, then it has to be independant from the cool options to make it fun. For instance, once per encounter, you can deal an extra 1[W] damage. At 3rd level, and every 2 levels thereafter, you can use this ability one more time per round.


Your balancing of 5 spells vs 1 encounter power' simply doesn't work, because you cannot make reliable assumptions about encounters per day. Either everyone has daily resources, or no-one has daily resources. They don't have to be in the same form (for example, you could give the wizard 5 spells, and the fighter 5 action points), but you can't balance across variable encounters per day except by making sure everyone has the same power boost for only having a single encounter.



Symmertric classes are not going to be part of D&D Next. We know casters will be vancian. I really didn't like high level play in 3rd edition because of spellcasters and messed up math. I don't want this to happen again.

Maybe 4th Ed's magic wasnt enough choices for Gnarl. Rituals were supposed to address that but didn't. Probably he would've been much happier with more spells to select. I don't mind that as long as there's reasonable parity.



Guilty as charge. I like D&D cheesy. Sorry .
Here is the best way to balance and control Vancian magic. Turn all Vancian casting into encounter based spells. During each short rest you study your spell books, pray to your god, commune with nature, etc and choose what spells you want to use for the next fight. As long as these spells are properly balanced and the caster can only prepare 5 or so spells at a time, then Vancian casting works. The casters will still have a lot of utility because they can switch spells with a short rest, but the nova, the 5 minute work day, and the god spell issues all go away.



That's TRUE vancian magic! I love the idea. I tried to create a thread on this once. I got insulted by 4th edition fans and pre 4th edition fans alike...

On the one hand, I got people saying "Meteor Swarm every round, broken madness!"

And on the other, "don't you dare touch my verasimilitude".

This is my favorite option but sadly the game designers already announced that casters will have traditional D&D vancian magic.

I'm so glad we finally agree on something!
Vancian Magic
Vancian effects are basically "Flux dailies"  You have a maximum capacity for "daily" effects and determine at a long rest which few you will have access to until the next time you rest.  Your "active" list is selected from a larger pool of effects you know.  The core tenant of Vancian magic is that you MUST do this preperation ahead of time.  For balance, the longer in advance you need to prepare, the better, as it works in uncertainty and the desire to have an at least moderatley "all comers" spell list.

Dailies (other than vancian)
Not all classes will necessarily have the ability to do the Vancian flux with their daily powers (in my ideal world, not all classes will necessarily have daily powers, either).  Those that don't should get MORE PER DAY, and their effects should be MORE POWERFUL.  That is, if a vancian wizard gets a fireball that does 5d6, a non-vancian fire-sorcerer might do 8d6 with his fireball for the same resource cost.

Encounter Powers
I really hate encounter powers because I hate the "encounter" as a unit of measurement, so I would split what are currently encounter powers into two categories
1) "Trick" effects: the player must create an opening to use these powers, such as catching the enemy unawares.  Unlikely to see use more than once an encounter (especially ones dependant on surprise) but some might be able to trigger more than once.  This can broadly include requires surprise, requires advantage, not useable on a foe that has observed it being used, requires enemy under a specific condition (prone, stunned, etc.) and so on, for varrying degrees of difficulty to use or use multiple times.
2) "Cooldown" effects: Once you use this ability, you can't use it again for x time (1 or more minutes to simulate an encounter power, 1 or more rounds to simulate "not quite at will" like a Dragon's breath weapon in 3.x).  Some abilities may come in a class that shares their cooldown (once you use a maneuver of this type, you can't use other maneuvers of the same type for n time).  Longer cooldowns, in hours simulating n/day abilities, can also be used.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

That's TRUE vancian magic! I love the idea. I tried to create a thread on this once. I got insulted by 4th edition fans and pre 4th edition fans alike...


Encounter Vancian is a perfectly viable way of solving the issue of dailies vs non-dailies. The main problem is that there's a certain group of gamers who like the resource management aspects of D&D, and encounter vancian kills that.

There's other ways of including resource management, though. I'd prefer a resource that you know will be limited. The problem with daily powers is that time, depending on the adventure, may or may not be a meaningfully limited resource, and if it's not, you get the 5 minute workday because there's really no good reason not to do so (unless there's no meaningful risk, in which case people will go faster because it's boring).

One example of a meaningfully limited resource would be that you gain the ability to do an extended rest every X experience. For the norms of encounter design in 3e-4e, that's around twice per level -- it takes 13 equal-CR encounters in 3e, 10 even-xp encounters in 4e, to go up a level, and in both editions you expect to get a portion of your xp from non-combat encounters, so you wind up with one recharge every 4 or so fights, more often if your fights are tougher. That's pretty much ideal in terms of adventure design. The main problem with that is it implies that in a long period of downtime (where you aren't gaining xp), you actually can't cast any spells.

Another option is to assign an xp or gold cost to recovering powers, which has to be fairly high (if you want recovery every 5, it should be about 2 encounter's worth of rewards). Gold has the benefit that the DM can simply prevent recovery when he doesn't want it to happen by taking away the gold (or whatever the gold purchases).
The discussion is well underway, and I do so hate to be the fifth person repeating the same thing, so I'll keep it short.
I know a lot of you guys hate this idea but I think that a lot of your grudges with vancian magic aren’t tied to vancian magic at all but to how it was implemented in the former editions.


Actually, I think most of my grudges are tied to vancian itself, but they aren't among your issues/fixes, so perhaps that's another discussion.
The 5-minute work day is a fraud and 4th edition is here to prove it. The optimal strategy in 4th edition is to burn all your dailies and action points in the first fight and then sleep. Why doesn’t anyone complain about this?


Well, as Gelatinous Octahedron said, that usually isn't an optimal strategy at all.  On the other hand, people absolutely do complain about it.  I'm a little disappointed, Gnarl.  You've been here for awhile, and you're still assuming there are things that no one complains about?
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.

2) "Cooldown" effects: Once you use this ability, you can't use it again for x time (1 or more minutes to simulate an encounter power, 1 or more rounds to simulate "not quite at will" like a Dragon's breath weapon in 3.x).  Some abilities may come in a class that shares their cooldown (once you use a maneuver of this type, you can't use other maneuvers of the same type for n time).  Longer cooldowns, in hours simulating n/day abilities, can also be used.


Incidentally, this is basically how encounter powers work now.  They have a "cooldown" of "Until you take a short rest".
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.

2) "Cooldown" effects: Once you use this ability, you can't use it again for x time (1 or more minutes to simulate an encounter power, 1 or more rounds to simulate "not quite at will" like a Dragon's breath weapon in 3.x).  Some abilities may come in a class that shares their cooldown (once you use a maneuver of this type, you can't use other maneuvers of the same type for n time).  Longer cooldowns, in hours simulating n/day abilities, can also be used.


Incidentally, this is basically how encounter powers work now.  They have a "cooldown" of "Until you take a short rest".


I'm aware, but I prefer time cooldowns, especially in the case of active dungeons or otherwise marathon encounters.  You know the sort where the first guards raise an alarm before you fight them, then the party runs forward under a hail from the arrow slits before having to lift the portcullis, clear the courtyard, and make their way to the highest tower before the big bad can prepare an escape.

A short rest, unless I am mistaken, is 5 minutes.  Especially with shorter cooldowns than that (like 1 min or so), an "encounter power" could show up twice or more in such madness

I admit it's a corner case, but I think it pays to use mixed systems for "sometimes" powers rather than the simple "1/encounter" approach.

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

Well, as Gelatinous Octahedron said, that usually isn't an optimal strategy at all.  On the other hand, people absolutely do complain about it.  I'm a little disappointed, Gnarl.  You've been here for awhile, and you're still assuming there are things that no one complains about?



Is that what Gelatinous said? I thought just said that it's not the way it usually happens. But it was a rhetorical question to be honest . I know the answer is that you have decent at-will and encounter powers. Players also like a good story and a good challenge. Spending half your adventuring career sleeping is lame and boring. Testing your limits is also fun (how many encounters before you need to sleep).

Otherwise, I'm French! It's part of my cultural heritage to complain. After a while of living in France, you learn how to distinguish the inevitable background complaints from the actual legitimit complaints . I admit that whinny little girls have become invisible to me...

Encounter Powers
I really hate encounter powers because I hate the "encounter" as a unit of measurement, so I would split what are currently encounter powers into two categories
1) "Trick" effects: the player must create an opening to use these powers, such as catching the enemy unawares.  Unlikely to see use more than once an encounter (especially ones dependant on surprise) but some might be able to trigger more than once.  This can broadly include requires surprise, requires advantage, not useable on a foe that has observed it being used, requires enemy under a specific condition (prone, stunned, etc.) and so on, for varrying degrees of difficulty to use or use multiple times.


I mistrust systems like this. Sometimes they lead to super attack combos, possibly with help from other PCs ("Open with X to damage and daze the enemy, then use Y on your dazed enemy to damage and stun him, then Z to finish off stunned foes.") Other times an ability that looks situational and balanced ends up being spammable due to some other feat/class feature/item/??? that is introduced in the next book or on the next page. CharOp will solve the optimal combo problem pretty quick, and it would take really careful design not to let combat turn into optimal attack routines.

2) "Cooldown" effects: Once you use this ability, you can't use it again for x time (1 or more minutes to simulate an encounter power, 1 or more rounds to simulate "not quite at will" like a Dragon's breath weapon in 3.x).  Some abilities may come in a class that shares their cooldown (once you use a maneuver of this type, you can't use other maneuvers of the same type for n time).  Longer cooldowns, in hours simulating n/day abilities, can also be used.


My WoW experience tells me that long cooldowns usually just promote awkward pauses ("Let's take 5 then kill this next boss after Lay on Hands and Battle Rez are off cooldown," was something you'd hear a bit back in the day.) D&D obviously offers more solutions to that problem than WoW does, but I'd rather not tempt players to get clever about taking longer rests.

Overall, I'm not strictly in favor of encounter powers and short rests, but I don't yet see an alternative that allows for tactical variety without promoting the wrong behavior or being prone to exploitation.

truth/humor
Ed_Warlord, on what it takes to make a thread work: I think for it to be really constructive, everyone would have to be honest with each other, and with themselves.

 

iserith: The game doesn't profess to be "just like our world." What it is just like is the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Any semblance to reality is purely coincidental.

 

Areleth: How does this help the problems we have with Fighters? Do you think that every time I thought I was playing D&D what I was actually doing was slamming my head in a car door and that if you just explain how to play without doing that then I'll finally enjoy the game?

 

TD: That's why they put me on the front of every book. This is the dungeon, and I am the dragon. A word of warning though: I'm totally not a level appropriate encounter.

("Let's take 5 then kill this next boss after Lay on Hands and Battle Rez are off cooldown," was something you'd hear a bit back in the day.)


And this isn't the very definition of a short rest to recover Encounter powers?

"Enjoy your screams, Sarpadia - they will soon be muffled beneath snow and ice."

 

Follow me to No Goblins Allowed

A M:tG/D&D message board with a good community and usable software

 


THE COALITION WAR GAME -Phyrexian Chief Praetor
Round 1: (4-1-2, 1 kill)
Round 2: (16-8-2, 4 kills)
Round 3: (18-9-2, 1 kill)
Round 4: (22-10-0, 2 kills)
Round 5: (56-16-3, 9 kills)
Round 6: (8-7-1)

Last Edited by Ralph on blank, 1920

That's TRUE vancian magic! I love the idea. I tried to create a thread on this once. I got insulted by 4th edition fans and pre 4th edition fans alike...


Encounter Vancian is a perfectly viable way of solving the issue of dailies vs non-dailies. The main problem is that there's a certain group of gamers who like the resource management aspects of D&D, and encounter vancian kills that.

There's other ways of including resource management, though. I'd prefer a resource that you know will be limited. The problem with daily powers is that time, depending on the adventure, may or may not be a meaningfully limited resource, and if it's not, you get the 5 minute workday because there's really no good reason not to do so (unless there's no meaningful risk, in which case people will go faster because it's boring).

One example of a meaningfully limited resource would be that you gain the ability to do an extended rest every X experience. For the norms of encounter design in 3e-4e, that's around twice per level -- it takes 13 equal-CR encounters in 3e, 10 even-xp encounters in 4e, to go up a level, and in both editions you expect to get a portion of your xp from non-combat encounters, so you wind up with one recharge every 4 or so fights, more often if your fights are tougher. That's pretty much ideal in terms of adventure design. The main problem with that is it implies that in a long period of downtime (where you aren't gaining xp), you actually can't cast any spells.

Another option is to assign an xp or gold cost to recovering powers, which has to be fairly high (if you want recovery every 5, it should be about 2 encounter's worth of rewards). Gold has the benefit that the DM can simply prevent recovery when he doesn't want it to happen by taking away the gold (or whatever the gold purchases).



Other mechanics are certainly worth exploring! But the scope of the conversation is to think of a way to make traditional D&D vancian magic as painless as possible for everyone.

I apprently failed but that doesn't mean we can't continue thinking about it!

you get the 5 minute workday because there's really no good reason not to



The way I see it is that players won't use the 5 minute workday trick if you don't give them a reason to. I really blame this on the lack of viable options you can use all the time.
("Let's take 5 then kill this next boss after Lay on Hands and Battle Rez are off cooldown," was something you'd hear a bit back in the day.)


And this isn't the very definition of a short rest to recover Encounter powers?



Yes, good point. I'd rather see short rests be a lot shorter, so they don't feel quite as awkward.

Still, I don't see what specific problem the time-based CD solves. If a fight stretches out to round 11 and you can use a specific maneuver again, I don't see that as particularly representative of the real world. It just seems like more book-keeping than not using the ability until the next combat. 

truth/humor
Ed_Warlord, on what it takes to make a thread work: I think for it to be really constructive, everyone would have to be honest with each other, and with themselves.

 

iserith: The game doesn't profess to be "just like our world." What it is just like is the world of Dungeons & Dragons. Any semblance to reality is purely coincidental.

 

Areleth: How does this help the problems we have with Fighters? Do you think that every time I thought I was playing D&D what I was actually doing was slamming my head in a car door and that if you just explain how to play without doing that then I'll finally enjoy the game?

 

TD: That's why they put me on the front of every book. This is the dungeon, and I am the dragon. A word of warning though: I'm totally not a level appropriate encounter.


Actually, I think most of my grudges are tied to vancian itself, but they aren't among your issues/fixes, so perhaps that's another discussion.



Is it a mechanical issue or a flavor issue?

If it's flavor, then there's not much the game designers can do about it other than having non vancian casters.
The way I see it is that players won't use the 5 minute workday trick if you don't give them a reason to. I really blame this on the lack of viable options you can use all the time.


I don't. I blame it on the existence of daily powers that are superior to at-will powers, because that's the reason to do it.
Here is the best way to balance and control Vancian magic. Turn all Vancian casting into encounter based spells. During each short rest you study your spell books, pray to your god, commune with nature, etc and choose what spells you want to use for the next fight. As long as these spells are properly balanced and the caster can only prepare 5 or so spells at a time, then Vancian casting works. The casters will still have a lot of utility because they can switch spells with a short rest, but the nova, the 5 minute work day, and the god spell issues all go away.



That's TRUE vancian magic! I love the idea. I tried to create a thread on this once. I got insulted by 4th edition fans and pre 4th edition fans alike...

On the one hand, I got people saying "Meteor Swarm every round, broken madness!"

And on the other, "don't you dare touch my verasimilitude".

This is my favorite option but sadly the game designers already announced that casters will have traditional D&D vancian magic.

I'm so glad we finally agree on something!



As much as I love 3rd edition magic for so may reasons... This can actually work. I'd say that the number of spells you can prepare change with levels, let's say 2 at first level, 3 at 3rd or 4th and so on, but a higly limited amount of spells prepared in exchange with a low time recharge can actualy be good. Something like 2 minutes per spell prepared, that makes sense... And this encounter power think makes a lot more sense for spells than for martial abilities in my opinion! (I never saw a reason why a warrior could use a cool move just once every some minutes)

If I'm reading you correctly, you're suggesting that all classes get at-wills that scale with level, while non-casters get the equivalent of encounter powers with no dailies and casters get Vancian spells but no encounter powers.



More importantly, I'm suggesting that a fighter's encounter power should be as powerful or more powerful than a caster's vancian spell.


OK, that works.

The only added value of the vancian caster is versatility but the cost of this versatility is that you might not have the option when you need it.


Too much versatility and you've got a serious case of decision paralysis.


A basic attack with a push (or whatever level-appropriate effect) is not even close to having the encounter-winning power of a Sleep (or whatever) spell.  And even if fighter maneuvers were balanced with wizard spells, giving one an encounter power mechanic while giving another a daily mechanic requires a relatively narrow range of encounters per day to remain balanced.



You start with a push at level 1 because a fighter that can use a sleep maneuver once per encounter is not exactly balanced compared to a wizard that can cast sleep once per day. But the moment the wizard has enough spell slots to be able to cast sleep once per encounter (i.e. 5 times per day), then the fighter should be able to use his sleep maneuver once per encounter.


This contradicts your recommendation that fighter special maneuvers be equal in power to spells.


And since I think versatility is worth a lot, I think that by the time the wizard can cast sleep 3 times per day (not even once per encounter), the fighter should be able to use his sleep maneuver once per encounter


At which point, the wizard has something even more awesome that he can use once per day.  Making power/frequency of use tradeoffs is only balanced in limited cases within a single character build (do I choose an encounter or daily utility power at this level?) not entire class subsystem mechanics.


The other problem with Vancian spellcasting as a whole is that the preparation mechanic leads to HUGE amounts of decision paralysis.  Which spells do I prepare today?  What mix of combat and utility spells?  How many of each spell?  This was the main reason lots of people (including me) couldn't stand playing a wizard back in the day.


That's why it's important to have other classes that don't use the vancian mechanism.


My favorite class in 3e was the sorcerer.  But the 4e wizard is still light-years better than the 3e sorcerer.  Note, however, that having the option of non-Vancian classes doesn't solve the decision paralysis problem.  The player who chooses to play a Vancian class still has to take some time at the beginning of every adventuring day to pick his prepared spells.  And the rest of the party has to wait for him to do it.  Once you bring the number of spells you have to pick down to a manageable level, you're back at something resembling the 4e wizard.


Being free from that decision paralysis (while still being able to throw down big spells) meant that 4e was the first edition I had fun playing a wizard.


The decision paralysis is because you have to chose between your 'good options' and 'no option'. If your only choice is cool option (encounter/vancian spell) vs. boring but as effecient option (at-will), then you don't have decision paralysis. Either it's the right moment to use your cool spell and you use it, if you don't see any use for any of your spells, you just attack with your at-will.


Problem with that is, if you're having a long adventuring day with more encounters than spell slots, one or more encounters turn into boring (but efficient!) at-will spam.  This becomes worse if the spells you did prepare turn out to be unsuitable for the encounter.
What if we split engines? Combat engine and exploration engine.

Wizard gets at-wills and encounter attack spells in combat (Vancian style). And Dailies (also possibly rituals - though those should be available across spell-casting classes and/or theme dependent). Dailies for exploration/non-combat.

He'd have to prep an encounter suite and recharge after. He'd also have to prep a daily suite of spells that focus more on travel, dungeon delving, social interaction, etc. comparable to 4th Ed utility spells but non-combat.

The fighter would also get at-will and encounter exploits for combat. Out of combat he would have a supply of perhaps effort-based at-will exploits such as extreme athletics or high strength. Maybe he gets healing surges and others don't.

Now we have parity, interesting fighters, and vancian wizards.

(rough draft, obviously. Dependent on combat mechanics. Gives the fighter his expertise in fighting. Let's the wizard be versatile but not obviate the need for a fighter. Let's the wizard prep interesting spells AND not be a combat schlub. It IS a little 4th-y, I admit).

Revisions?
Count me in as "I like encounter Vancian magic". Spells can be about as powerful as fighter techniques which means no overshadowing. Out of combat stuff will be rituals, including spells that grant long lasting benefits - like divinations. Having a huge library of spells can still be an issue, but a hard cap on known spells can solve the issue of extreme versatility if all spells are balanced. And of course, less spells prepared are fast to change.

I like that system.
Although you should note that it looks much more like 4E than like 3.5 :P 
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
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

Too much versatility and you've got a serious case of decision paralysis.



Possible. But there are other classes for you to play if you find these vancian spellcasters overwhelming.

This contradicts your recommendation that fighter special maneuvers be equal in power to spells.



It just means that if your wizard has Sleep at level 1, your fighter will get it at level 2 or 3.

At which point, the wizard has something even more awesome that he can use once per day.  Making power/frequency of use tradeoffs is only balanced in limited cases within a single character build (do I choose an encounter or daily utility power at this level?) not entire class subsystem mechanics.



The wizard has something even more awesome that he can use exactly once per day. Is it a huge deal if your wizard has 2 Sleep spells and 1 Scare per day when the fighter has Sleep once per encounter?

Unless you're using symmetric mechanics like in 4th edition, you're not going to get perfect parity. I don't think perfect parity is the goal here, it's having something good enough.

Spells of one level higher are not significantly better than spells exactly one level lower. This is even more true if the save DC of your spells doesn't depend on the level of the spell like in AD&D or 4th edition.

My favorite class in 3e was the sorcerer.  But the 4e wizard is still light-years better than the 3e sorcerer.

 

I find both of these extraordinarly boring to play. But hey, it's fine right? Not everybody needs to like the same stuff.


Once you bring the number of spells you have to pick down to a manageable level



And that's the deal breaker for the old school players. If your vancian class has "vancian magic" like in 4th edition, then you're not trying to solve the problem, you're avoiding it. 10-25 spells per day is mandatory.

What I'm trying to show here is that not liking something doesn't make it broken or underpowered. Abdul managed to convince me that a 4th edition wizard is better than a 3rd edition one. Why do I still want to play a 3rd edition one? Flavor. The 4th edition wizard does some hardcore crowd control spell every round, my 3rd edition wizard does something cheesy.

Problem with that is, if you're having a long adventuring day with more encounters than spell slots, one or more encounters turn into boring (but efficient!) at-will spam.  This becomes worse if the spells you did prepare turn out to be unsuitable for the encounter.



Hey don't worry. The old grognards that want to play a vancian spellcasters know what they're getting themselves into. That's the way we have been playing for 30 years. Having a boring at-will attack is an improvement to our caster experience.

Too much versatility and you've got a serious case of decision paralysis.



Possible. But there are other classes for you to play if you find these vancian spellcasters overwhelming.

Mostly, we just "settled in".  Pick some spells, and just memorize those every morning, give or take a "get in the DM's head" slot or two.

For anyone who wants to recreate a vancian system, it's worth identifying what "people who like vancian" like about it. Now, I'm not one of them, so I'll try not to be unfair.
1) very strong resource management. If you blew your dailies too early, you could be horribly punished.
2) spells with many uses("open ended"). Charm person, for instance, could get you out of a fight, get knowledge, get an ally, etc.
3) allowed you to cast repeatedly with no long term (more than 1 day) costs
4) implementation allowed for very powerful spells
5) allowed for preparing ahead, and having just the right spell for the occasion.
6) spells often had no defined rules, making them "feel magic" (charm person "feels less magic" if it is implemented as "+10 to diplomacy roll" rather than th original, which there were no rules for "what a friend would do for you")

It seems the encounter based vancian misses much of this - by refreshing every encounter, you kill #1 and #4.
By suggesting nincombat is rituals, you removes 3.
I just don't see you bringing in the old school crowd with your system, even though I agree it has merit.
For anyone who wants to recreate a vancian system, it's worth identifying what "people who like vancian" like about it. Now, I'm not one of them, so I'll try not to be unfair.
1) very strong resource management. If you blew your dailies too early, you could be horribly punished.
2) spells with many uses("open ended"). Charm person, for instance, could get you out of a fight, get knowledge, get an ally, etc.
3) allowed you to cast repeatedly with no long term (more than 1 day) costs
4) implementation allowed for very powerful spells
5) allowed for preparing ahead, and having just the right spell for the occasion.
6) spells often had no defined rules, making them "feel magic" (charm person "feels less magic" if it is implemented as "+10 to diplomacy roll" rather than th original, which there were no rules for "what a friend would do for you")

It seems the encounter based vancian misses much of this - by refreshing every encounter, you kill #1 and #4.
By suggesting nincombat is rituals, you removes 3.
I just don't see you bringing in the old school crowd with your system, even though I agree it has merit.
1) very strong resource management. If you blew your dailies too early, you could be horribly punished.
2) spells with many uses("open ended"). Charm person, for instance, could get you out of a fight, get knowledge, get an ally, etc.
3) allowed you to cast repeatedly with no long term (more than 1 day) costs
4) implementation allowed for very powerful spells
5) allowed for preparing ahead, and having just the right spell for the occasion.
6) spells often had no defined rules, making them "feel magic" (charm person "feels less magic" if it is implemented as "+10 to diplomacy roll" rather than th original, which there were no rules for "what a friend would do for you")





  1. Casters being able to choose from a huge amount of spells. This leads to extreme versatility, which leads to having to think about the caster far more than about everything else. This is bad for the game, it puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

  2. Casters being able to choose from very specific spells, which means having spells that can do anything. If you have spells that can do anything (if you have the correct one prepared) then the spells the wizard has prepared are far more important than everything else in the whole party. If the wizard has spell Solve Situation 1167AA56 (bis) then the whole encounter is gone. This also puts way more emphasis on the spellcaster's spell preparation, which tends to take up more time as a consequence. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

  3. Casters having spells that are significantly better than what trained people can do at-will. This is pretty much a given in a system where there are daily resources, because daily powers need to be more powerful than at-wills by design assumption. However, this also means the wizard can outshine other people when he casts spells. Giving him a limit on how many spells he casts can either lead to a very useless wizard or more likely leads to a wizard dirtying his hands only on important matters. This means the wizard will be able to (and will most likely) outshine the rest of the party when the situation is dire, or important, or relevant, or in any case when it is most crucial to succeed. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

  4. Casters having spells that give lasting benefits and recharge on a daily basis. This includes non-expensive divinations as the worst offender, but also includes stuff like creation spells, teleportation spells, stuff like that. In general, it means that a wizard can make use of downtime way more effectively than a non-caster by devoting a percentage of his spell slots (which he is unlikely to need during downtime) to spells that grant long-lasting benefits. This is bad, puts too much emphasis on the wizard.

  5. Casters needing more than 3 minutes to prepare their spells. Seriously. Takes too much time, time that the rest of the party spends doing nothing and getting bored and playing Angry Birds with their smartphone. This is bad because (you guessed it!) it puts too much emphasis on the wizard.






If you manage to reconcile these 6 with my five points, then you're a god.
Are you interested in an online 4E game on Sunday? Contact me with a PM!
Show
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
Sign In to post comments