Making Vancian Casting More "Linear" and Less "Quadratic"

I've never been a big fan of "Vancian" fire-and-forget spellcasting. But they've pretty much put their foot down and inisisted that Vancain casting will be a part of 5e's core rules, and I can't say I'm surprised. Even though alot of people dislike it, it's been one of the game's major traditions going back to the very beginning of the game. I accept that. But if they are going to keep Vancian style casting, there's two simple things they can do to make it much more balanced and address some of the major reasons people like myself dislike it.

One of the biggest problems with vancian casting in the past is what people call the "Linear Fighter, Quadratic Wizard." Wizards at very low levels in all editions prior to 4th were, well, pathetic. Wow! Look at me! I'm a 1st level Wizard and I have ONE spell PER DAY! .... Then, on the flipside, a 20th level wizard has so many spells per day it's almost impossible for him to run out. I don't care for either extreme.

If they're going to insist on keeping Vancian casting out of tradition, I hope that they at least try to make casters more "linear." Give a 1st level wizard more than one or two freaking spells per day. Give them several, in fact. There's nothing enjoyable about playing a class that has such a limited resource. But they also should greatly reduce the number of spells higher level wizards get, so that they don't become gods. This will make wizards more balanced and fun throughout all levels of play.

The other thing I really want to see is the return of at-will basic attacks and cantrips. They've already acknowledged how popular at-will spells are, but I figured I'd mention it anyway. I find Vancian fire-and-forget spellcasting is alot more bearable if I have at least a couple at-will basic attack spells and some at-will cantrips to fall back on when I don't want to waste a good prepared spell. I've had alot of fun with at-will cantrips in both 4e and Pathfinder. They don't unbalance anything at all; they're just fun little tricks that let me feel like I'm a wizard all day long.
I don't dislike vancian magic (but it certainly isn't my favourite system for spellcasting).  I have to agree with you though.  From things that they said a couple of months ago I think this s definately the direction they are going.  Instead of just getting more and more spell slots wizards will swap out lower level slots for higher level slots, IIRC.  They did seem to suggest that at the time they were looking at feats for at will spells. 
Part of the quadratic spellcaster formula included increasing potency of spells as they leveled, in addition to getting more spell slots and higher leveled spells. We know for sure that the former isn't going to happen, but haven't heard anything about everything else.

And as a side note, I love at-will cantrips as well. They were half the fun for my last wizard.

The spoiler below (warning, it is long) comes from conversations I was having in two separate threads about how to fix the wizard for DDN.
Show

Regarding your point #2: "Because spells such as Fly or Invisibility always scale with level, you’re not going to avoid the Mr Do-It-All wizard if you can use all your “useless” lower level spell slots on utility spells. And let’s be honest, the Mr Do-It-All wizard is a problem because of that (and scribe scrolls in 3rd edition)."

There are X items that seem to be the real problem with the "Mr Do-It-All wizard."
1)  The range of spells available for the wizard to learn allows them to occupy the design space of every other class.  The potential solutions to this are A) are to eliminate spells that encroach on the design space of other classes, B) to make other spells more appealing (but with the added challenge of not making them game-breaking), or C) set a reasonable cap on the number of spells a wizard can know.
2) The power of spells available to the wizard is often better than what other characters who have devoted their lives to the mastery of those skills can do.  The potential solutions for this are A) to eliminate spells that can do other classes jobs better than that class can, or B) to cut these spells back so that the wizard is a viable option in the absence of that class, but keep it low-powered enough that it would be preferable to have that class perform that task.
3) The ability to make scrolls, wands, and other magic items that occupy the design space of other classes.  The potential solutions for this are the same as for the above two, but it also includes A) if scrolls, wands, and other magic items can be made, do not allow them to replicate spells that invade the design space of other classes.

As for spells needing to scale with level, I really don't think so.  Scaling with slot works well enough.  Lets take your "iconic" 10d6 fireball.  Fireball is a level 3 spell (going solely on the past history we have to go on) and you must be 5th level to learn it.  If I were designing it, a level 3 fireball would do 6d6 damage.  Each level of slot higher would up the damage dice by 2.  This means the highest level slot you would ever need for your "iconic" fireball is 5th level.  A spell slot two levels higher for nearly double damage doesn't seem like too much to ask.



As for spells needing to scale with level, I really don't think so.  Scaling with slot works well enough.  Lets take your "iconic" 10d6 fireball.  Fireball is a level 3 spell (going solely on the past history we have to go on) and you must be 5th level to learn it.  If I were designing it, a level 3 fireball would do 6d6 damage.  Each level of slot higher would up the damage dice by 2.  This means the highest level slot you would ever need for your "iconic" fireball is 5th level.  A spell slot two levels higher for nearly double damage doesn't seem like too much to ask.



I was thinking about all of that after reading your thread. Limiting the number of spells alone is not enough. Even if your caster knows 5 level 2 spells, if one of them is Invisibility, then a high level wizard will still be using all his 2nd level spell slots on Invisibility.



That's true.  However, if there is no more scaling with class/character level then the duration for Invisibility will stay the same.  Now you're left with two options:
1) these spells just don't increase in duration at all.
2) you can use a higher level slot to up the duration.  I would use one of two options for this: A) using a higher level spell slot ups the effect of the spell by an amount equivalent to two caster levels from past editions (that's why I said fireball should do 8d6 as a 4th level slot and 10d6 as a 5th level slot), or B) The spell is designed and described to include different durations depending on slot level used (e.g. duration in rounds when the spell is originally gained, duration in minutes for a slot two levels higher, duration in 15 min increments for a slot 4 levels higher).

I favor the #2 option.  I have no problem with a wizard being able to do good stuff.  However, the better it is then the higher the level of spell slot it should use (that way resources used actually matches up with the effects generated).

If you replace the lower level spell slots with higher level ones and you remove all out of combat spells from the wizard spell list and create a combat version of those utility spells when applicable (like a 1 minute Invisibility or Fly spell), that should do the trick.



I personally believe all out-of-combat spells should be removed from the spell slot mechanics.  I favor rituals for those instead (as I've said before, I see no reason to need to cast purify food and water while in-combat).  Rituals may need to be modified from their 4e presentation, particularly regarding costs to cast, but they should still be a vital part of non-combat magic.

As a side note, if somehow you manage to make lower level spells totally useless, it's pretty much the same as swaping lower level spell slots with higher level ones. If you combine that with spells that don't scale, then your caster will have a much flatter damage/effeciency progression (which is totally fine if included in the math).



I believe the designers have said they want to create flatter math, so that is a good thing (IMO).

Out of curiosity, your Fireball example works really well with damaging spells, but how does that work with Stinking Cloud or Fly? What benefit do you get for memorizing Fly as a higher level spell slot?


I would point to the above option #2 for how to fix those with higher level slots.



I personally believe all out-of-combat spells should be removed from the spell slot mechanics.  I favor rituals for those instead (as I've said before, I see no reason to need to cast purify food and water while in-combat).  Rituals may need to be modified from their 4e presentation, particularly regarding costs to cast, but they should still be a vital part of non-combat magic.



I prefer rituals too. It's really boring have to take a nap before putting your genius plan in action.

Arcane Eye, Find the Path, Endure Element, Raise Dead. All of these spells are obvious candidates for rituals.

But what about Dimension Door or Expeditious Retreat?


I'd have to look those up and get back to you.  It's been a while.


I believe the designers have said they want to create flatter math, so that is a good thing (IMO).



Why not.


I'm sorry.  If you were asking a question, then I'll need clarification as to "why not" what?  If not, than I take that's an acquiescence that flatter math is ok (let me know if I'm wrong).

I would point to the above option #2 for how to fix those with higher level slots.



I don't see how this fixes anything. A 5d6 fireball will eventually become obselete because your at-will attack will scale with level. A 1 minute fly will never be obselete and will be as powerful no matter what level you are.


You're making a few assumptions here.
1) That a 5d6 fireball will be rendered obsolete by an at-will as you level.
    This assumption is itself based on other assumptions, the first of which is how much your at-will attack scales with level.  The second of which is that your at-will attack will be able to damage all foes in a blast radius equivalent to, or greater than, than of the fireball.
2) A 1 minute fly effect will never be obsolete.
    A 1 minute fly effect will never be obsolete within the distance you can fly in one minute, but it can be invalidated by any distance farther than the flying character can fly in one minute.  If you assume fly speed equals normal speed (30' per round, which is 300' per minute), any gap farther than 300 feet would require you to use a higher level spell slot to fly across it.


Sooo, any one else  want to talk about DnDN in this DnDN fourm?


That is what I was going for when I made this thread.

I had a realization today while I was driving to school.  In past editions, the durations of spells was linked to caster level.  If we go with the idea of eliminating caster levels, then we need to find some way to allow for duration to increase.  Now, in Gnarl's thread in the DDN Mechanics section, I mentioned that a spell might have it's duration measured as follows:
Spell using slot of actual spell level: duration measured in rounds.
Spell using slot of actual spell level +2: duration measured in minutes
Spell using slot of actual spell level +4: duration measured in 15 minute increments.

I realized during my drive that the above system, while a good start, doesn't address the number of rounds/minutes of the duration.  The answer I came up with is to tie spell durations either to the Attrribute, or the Attribute Modifier, that relates to the character's spellcasting (i.e. Int for wizards, Wis for clerics, etc).  So this would alter the above chart, for Wizards, as follows:
Spell using slot of actual spell level: rounds = Int (or Int Mod).
Spell using slot of actual spell level +2: minutes = Int (or Int Mod).
Spell using slot of actual spell level +4: 15 minute increments = Int (or Int Mod).



I didnt give much thought to the aspect of duration. I like the idea taht they get more duration when sliped into a highter slot, as well as a bonus from the relevent score. Adds a little more incentive to specialize, while not forcing specialization. I think we can have different duratins for different spells. That is, one spell might last one minute plus number of minuets related to the score, and another spell, such as hold person, will only last a number of rounds equal to the relevent ability (with minimum of one round). Then the duration gets a relevent bonus for sliding to a higher slot. Sounds like a good start though


I agree about different durations for different spells; I was just giving those as an example for a single spell.  Some spells, like mount, make sense as starting with a duration measured in hours or half-hours, then going up to days or hours, and weeks or days from there.


There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Proposal: spells don't have levels - they are just spells. Fireball isn't a level 3 spell, it's just a spell.

If you prepare it in a level 1 spell slot, it has a small burst and low damage. If you put it in a level 3 spell slot it's more damage. In a level 5 slot it's moderate damage over a moderate burst. In a level 7 spell slot it's high damage in a moderate burst and in a level 9 slot it's like a meteor swarm (maybe 3 - 5 of the level 5 fireballs).

Charm person is similar. At level 2 it's an automatic bluff on one target for 1 round. In a level 4 spell slot it's 1 target for 1 minute. In a level 6 slot it's all enemies within 30 feet of caster for 1 round. In a level 8 slot it's all enemies within 30 feet of caster for 1 minute.

Then have "attack" spells upgrade on odd-level slots and "utility" type spells upgrade on even level spell slots.

The fly spell is anywhere between a single target feather-fall to an all-allies 5 minute flight.

Call lightning is anywhere from a shocking grasp to a chain lightning to a lightning storm. Etc.

Spells now scale by the slot they're memorized in and the list of spells is reduced to the iconic spells that have built-in variants based on how much power you put into them.

Rough draft.
^ I agree, just have spells be spells and assign the power/damage they do based on the level they are cast at. 
Proposal: spells don't have levels - they are just spells.


Could be fun!
Im sorry but ADEU is a French word for goodbye, not a combat system. You say, "Encounter Power" and I stop listening to you. [spoiler Have Played/Run] D&D 1st ed D&D 3.5 ed D&D 4th ed Shadowrun Star Wars SAGA Cyberpunk Interlock Unlimited Run.Net [/spoiler] I know my games, don't try to argue about them. [spoiler Alignment Explained] This is a very simple problem and I will outline it below. Their are two types of people Type 1: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "I am lawful good thus I must play lawful good" Type 2: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "My previous actions have made people and the gods view me as lawful good. The difference is subtle but it is the source of the misunderstanding. Alignment does not dictate how you play your character. All it does is tell you, the player, how the rest of the world views you, and your previous actions. Any future actions will be judged by their own merits. Say you're a baby eating pyromaniac. You are most likely chaotic evil. But one day you decide, "Hey all I really need is love." So you get a wife, have a kid, and get a kitten named Mr. Snook'ems. You become a member of the PTA and help build houses for the homeless. You are no longer chaotic evil. And just because you were once chaotic evil it does not mean that you have to stay chaotic evil. Alignment never dictates what you can do, it only says what you have done. Now that is cleared up here is a simple test. What is the alignment of... A Police officer: The average Citizen: A Vigilante: The answer is simple. The Police officer is lawful good. He uses the laws of the country and city to arrest people and make them pay their debt to society. The Citizen is Neutral good. He wants to live is a place that is Good and follows moral and ethical principle, but he sometimes finds the laws impedes him, and he wonders why we spend so much on poor people. The Vigilante is Chaotic Good. He wants to uphold the morals and ethics of society but finds that the bad guys often slip through the cracks in the law. He takes it upon himself to protect the people from these criminals. That is the basic breakdown of the good alignment axis. What needs to be remembered is that any one of these people can change alignments, easily. The Police officer could be bought off by a local gang, and suddenly he drops to lawful neutral. The average citizen might find that his neighbors dog is annoying, barking at night and keeping him up. So he poisons its food, now he is no longer good, he is stepping towards true neutral. Maybe the citizen really goes crazy also kills the neighbor, hello neutral evil. It is possible that the Vigilante realizes that the cops are actually doing a pretty good job and decides to become an officer himself, leaving his masked crime fighting days behind him. Now he is Lawful good. Your alignment is not carved in stone, it is malleable and will change to reflect your actions.[/spoiler]
I'm.... not sure 3.X wizards actually need fixing in this way.  At-will spells, I'd prefer not to have, because in order to make them balanced with classes that don't get Vancian spellcasting, they need to be fairly ineffective, or else Vancian spellcasting isn't really much of a disadvantage.  To keep the wizard flavour, I'd rather have better spells that run out then blast all day long.  If that means I end up hiding behind the rest of the party once I'm out of magic, I'm not convinced that isn't a bad thing.   But at-will spells are popular, and I shan't grumble if they make it in.   

What needed fixing was the non-spellcasting classes.  Rather than make spellcasters more linear, why not make the other classes more quadratic?  Getting better at existing abilities and getting more of them is a good thing!  Warrior and sneaky types desperately need more combat options, and while an attempt was made to level this playing field in 4e, I found that the flattening effect this had on the formerly quadric spellcasters, and the formulaic nature of the non-magical options, were both a little disappointing. 

Let's be clear what we're trying to achieve.  We want characters that start off weak, comfortable in a low-magic setting, and gradually get more powerful until they are like unto gods, epic in their power.  That means that high level play is very different animal to low level play.  That means we need new abilities at higher levels, or the ability to use existing abilities in very different ways.  At low level you can climb a wall, at high level you should be running up it.

With this as our goal it is clear that linear progression is inadequate for anyone.  So since spellcasters get quadaric progression, so should everyone.  3.x book of 9 swords did a credible job in trying to give fighter types abilties that got better, and extra abilities.  1st ed had theives both get better at their skills and get more of them over time.  Druids have always gained abilities as well as improve existing ones. 

So like 4e then?  No, that's not what I mean.  The difficult I have with 4e is that the abilities are far too closely defined for my tastes.  What is prescribed is not the ability you have, but the effect it has when used.  Compare a 4e encounter power to a 3.X spell like phantasmal force (create an illusion, you decide what it is).  The former is a lot faster to run, and easier to adjudicate, since it's defined in terms of its effects on the game.  The latter is what I want to play and run in my games.  And yes it is powerful, and that means that everyone needs to have something that open-ended.   We can have some classes that are more narrowly focused that others, sure, but ultimately everyone needs at least the option to do something, that other people can't duplicate, that is a capability rather than a prescribed outcome.  Somethat that's hard for the DM to balance and control.
That's... odd...

I'm not even sure where to begin. There's been plenty of bickering about the power differences between spellcasters and non-spellcaster. But I've never seen this claim.

I really want to agree with you Cardinal. But, uh... I'm just not sure how you'd have a fair challenge for players in such a game. There'd have to be a major overhaul in the system (mostly to skills and monster/CR) to accomodate that.

Give a 1st level wizard more than one or two freaking spells per day. Give them several, in fact. There's nothing enjoyable about playing a class that has such a limited resource. But they also should greatly reduce the number of spells higher level wizards get, so that they don't become gods. This will make wizards more balanced and fun throughout all levels of play.

 

Mazirian made a selection from his books and with a great effort forced five spells upon his brain" - Jack Vance, Mazirian the Magician



I have not read a lot of Jack Vance, the above is from a Dying Earth short story I happend to read not long after I started playing D&D, and it really stuck with me.  Mazirian is one of the more powerful wizards of the Dying Earth.  He has extended his life beyond a normal mortal span and experiments with creating life itself, and normally dares to memorize but 4 of the more potent spells at a time.  

5 spells, in AD&D was a 5th level magic user.  The level title of a 5th level magic-user was 'magician.'  Probably a coincidence. ;)

Dailies are a real problem for game balance, though.  The planned return of the vancian caster in 5e means that non-casters will have to get daily resources of comparable power, as well, if any vestige of class balance it to be maintained.  Certainly there can be optional casters and non-casters without such resources, for those games that ban dailies, or those character concepts that demand it.  But the mixing of the two should be the kind of thing that a DM does advisedly, like giving out a high-level magic item early in a campaign, or allowing a 'young' Balrog as a PC.


The other thing I really want to see is the return of at-will basic attacks and cantrips. They've already acknowledged how popular at-will spells are, but I figured I'd mention it anyway.

4e gave casters at-wills and non-casters dailies.  The result was better-balanced than D&D had ever been, and coinincidentally, yielded a top-level Wizard that could "memorize" 4 potent combat spells in a day - as well as a number of utilities.  Probably more true to Vance than D&D vancian magic has ever been, as well.  

 

 

Oops, looks like this request tried to create an infinite loop. We do not allow such things here. We are a professional website!

Vancian, itself, doesn't have any impact whatsoever on the power progression curve.

Yeah, you heard me.  The progression has nothing to do with it being Vancian.  It could not be Vancian and show the same problems, and you can create Vancian systems without those problems.

The issue is that spells scaled with caster level.  Meaning that that level 2 spell got stronger and stronger as you leveled, and you got higher level spells as you leveled.  Not only do you get more, better spells, but all of your existing ones also get better.  Rampant inflation of power.  It's been called quadratic and exponential depending on who you ask - neither is right, I'd guess it's somewhere inbetween without doing the actual mat - but the point is the power increase from +1 level increases dramatically as level itself increases.

This has nothing to do with it being Vancian, which is a system of categorizing spells by level, learning a specific set of them, and then expending them as they are used while then waiting for them to recharge.  A system that didn't have these scaling problems that I describe is the Element system in Chrono Cross, which had leveled "spell" slots that were laid out before combat just like a wizard and got consumed during a fight.  Only they didn't make the mistake of having massive inflation of low-level elements just because your character got better.  There was a slight improvement as your Magic stat increased, but only slight.  Nothing like the "d6 per caster level" style inflation that was in earlier D&D editions.

Furthermore, take a system like 4e.  If every level your at-wills went up by 1[W] or 1dX, then you'd have a non-Vancian system with similarly rampant, uncontrolled scaling.

Vancian systems may be highly correlated with unbalanced, wacky power progressions, but they do not have a causal relationship.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
as i see it caster lever will disapear as a factor for the power of a spell.
instead this place will be taken by the level of the spell slot the spell was prepared in.


With this as our goal it is clear that linear progression is inadequate for anyone.  So since spellcasters get quadaric progression, so should everyone.  3.x book of 9 swords did a credible job in trying to give fighter types abilties that got better, and extra abilities.  1st ed had theives both get better at their skills and get more of them over time.  Druids have always gained abilities as well as improve existing ones. 


About a week ago I made a thread called 'Martial vs Magic' where I made the same claim. Martial classes needed to be fixed. While there are some spells that are horribly broken for the most part the core of magic works just fine. The problem is that Martial classes never get anything good as they increase in levels. 4th tried to fix this with powers but they were nothing special.

I strongly advocate The Tomb of Battle: Book of Nine Swords as the way to make the martial classes in 5th. They have both martial magic classes, which are martial classes that use some form of magical-like qualities, and they have just plain martial classes. And you know what, they were balanced just fine with spellcasters.

The problem is not the spellcasters being too powerful, it is that martial classes are way to weak. Fix the few broken spells, and do a major overhaul of the martial classes. That is what I say.

Im sorry but ADEU is a French word for goodbye, not a combat system. You say, "Encounter Power" and I stop listening to you. [spoiler Have Played/Run] D&D 1st ed D&D 3.5 ed D&D 4th ed Shadowrun Star Wars SAGA Cyberpunk Interlock Unlimited Run.Net [/spoiler] I know my games, don't try to argue about them. [spoiler Alignment Explained] This is a very simple problem and I will outline it below. Their are two types of people Type 1: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "I am lawful good thus I must play lawful good" Type 2: a lot of people (not all, but a lot) who play see alignment as "My previous actions have made people and the gods view me as lawful good. The difference is subtle but it is the source of the misunderstanding. Alignment does not dictate how you play your character. All it does is tell you, the player, how the rest of the world views you, and your previous actions. Any future actions will be judged by their own merits. Say you're a baby eating pyromaniac. You are most likely chaotic evil. But one day you decide, "Hey all I really need is love." So you get a wife, have a kid, and get a kitten named Mr. Snook'ems. You become a member of the PTA and help build houses for the homeless. You are no longer chaotic evil. And just because you were once chaotic evil it does not mean that you have to stay chaotic evil. Alignment never dictates what you can do, it only says what you have done. Now that is cleared up here is a simple test. What is the alignment of... A Police officer: The average Citizen: A Vigilante: The answer is simple. The Police officer is lawful good. He uses the laws of the country and city to arrest people and make them pay their debt to society. The Citizen is Neutral good. He wants to live is a place that is Good and follows moral and ethical principle, but he sometimes finds the laws impedes him, and he wonders why we spend so much on poor people. The Vigilante is Chaotic Good. He wants to uphold the morals and ethics of society but finds that the bad guys often slip through the cracks in the law. He takes it upon himself to protect the people from these criminals. That is the basic breakdown of the good alignment axis. What needs to be remembered is that any one of these people can change alignments, easily. The Police officer could be bought off by a local gang, and suddenly he drops to lawful neutral. The average citizen might find that his neighbors dog is annoying, barking at night and keeping him up. So he poisons its food, now he is no longer good, he is stepping towards true neutral. Maybe the citizen really goes crazy also kills the neighbor, hello neutral evil. It is possible that the Vigilante realizes that the cops are actually doing a pretty good job and decides to become an officer himself, leaving his masked crime fighting days behind him. Now he is Lawful good. Your alignment is not carved in stone, it is malleable and will change to reflect your actions.[/spoiler]
It will be interesting to see how the Vancian system is balanced.  I'm not sure that more spells at lower levels is the appropriate response, but at-will spells also seem counterintuitive to the Vancian system.  Maybe we'll see a system wherein wizards start with two memorized spells, and they can cast lesser versions of those spells throughout a day, but they expend the entire spell when they discharge the spell's full power in a wondrous display of magical might.

However, for the sake of my sanity, I hope martial classes do not get daily resources.  Give them multiple attacks, modified damage, or defensive techniques, but please do not insist that a mighty warrior can only swing his sword in a particular fashion once per day; it's absurd.  
Proposal: spells don't have levels - they are just spells. Fireball isn't a level 3 spell, it's just a spell. If you prepare it in a level 1 spell slot, it has a small burst and low damage. If you put it in a level 3 spell slot it's more damage. In a level 5 slot it's moderate damage over a moderate burst. In a level 7 spell slot it's high damage in a moderate burst and in a level 9 slot it's like a meteor swarm (maybe 3 - 5 of the level 5 fireballs). Charm person is similar. At level 2 it's an automatic bluff on one target for 1 round. In a level 4 spell slot it's 1 target for 1 minute. In a level 6 slot it's all enemies within 30 feet of caster for 1 round. In a level 8 slot it's all enemies within 30 feet of caster for 1 minute. Then have "attack" spells upgrade on odd-level slots and "utility" type spells upgrade on even level spell slots. The fly spell is anywhere between a single target feather-fall to an all-allies 5 minute flight. Call lightning is anywhere from a shocking grasp to a chain lightning to a lightning storm. Etc. Spells now scale by the slot they're memorized in and the list of spells is reduced to the iconic spells that have built-in variants based on how much power you put into them. Rough draft.



Well said. Spells are spells. What makes them powerful is the caster himself. Magic is the raw energy, you shape it to power. This way, you have a bunch of spells at the beginning, you learn new ones on the way, you learn how to make them more powerful, or more useful as you level up. Therefore, all the spells listed in the game are levelless in this regard. Your casting has a level and you derive it from a finite power pool within yourself. So all the spells should have a scaling formula in which your power level is the only variable, in their descriptions.

So how to deal with memorizing? 

You memorize a number of spells that is a function of your intelligence. The more INT you have, the more spells you can memorize at any given time. You cannot memorize a spell more than once. So every spell you memorize will be one-time casting. Then what would you do if you want to cast a certain spell more than once, or want to cast a spell you haven't even memorized? That's where your power pool (magical stamina, mana whatever you call it) comes in. You had that finite power pool to cast spells? You always spend points from that pool when casting those extra spells, you scale up the spell to your liking and manage your power pool according to the situations before you.

Example:

You can memorize 4 spells as a 1st level mage. You select 4 different spells from your spellbook and memorize them: Magic missile, sleep, knock, light

On the way, you figure out you need other spells as well and maybe more of the spells you already memorized. You want to cast more magic missiles in your combat with goblins. Now you turn on your inner powers to draw extra magical energy. You spend 3 magic points to cast a powered-up magic missile, another 1 point for a basic sleep spell and another 1 point to put the last surrendering goblin to interrogation with comprehend languages. If you use up all your magic points in this way, you are fatiqued and need to rest to gain back your spellcasting abilities. These points replenish with a rate of 25% per hour of noncombat activity.
@Ryklu - I always understood martial dailies to be "peak physical effort" as opposed to 24-hr limited technique.

I've run into this IRL as well. I can walk a long time, jog quite a bit, but only sprint at my top speed for a very limited duration.

Look at weight lifting. I can do many many low-weight repetitions. Or I can increase the physical effort for a few high rate reps. But I can usually only hit my maximum weight once. I can get close to it, but I simply can't hit that maximum weight over and over on that lift. I can switch to another lift (from bench press to military press) and hit my max there (again, once).

All of this takes extreme effort. It's peak physical activity and it usually requires a day of rest after.

So I never thought it was absurd. In fact I was happy that I got a game mechanic that allowed me to really put some effort into smiting a bad guy. Previously, my fighters might "unleash my total fury right up in that guy's face" and then roll my basic attack and do my average damage.

I get what you're saying about unrepeatable techniques. That would be silly. But peak effort/performance is a thing.
Proposal: spells don't have levels - they are just spells.

That could be cool. 

But I think some uber spells don't scale down well.  Or at least not to level 1.

I'll admit the balance in prior editions of Vancian magic wasn't particular cool, I'll still argue there was balance... cruel bully-breeding nerdrage balance!

You either give spellcasters a "bubble" of spells or a set number.

By "bubble" I mean as the spellcaster goes up in level the number of spells by spell level they prep from is closer their own level.  A ninth level caster could select more 4th and 5th level spells than 1st level spells and a fifteenth level caster could select more 7th and 8th than 1st or 5th.

Better than that would be a set number of spells of whatever spell level they can that remains the same for the life of the spellcaster.  I would even cover multi-spellcasting-classes with one number of spells.

At-Will cantrips is a simple winner.

Combing cantrips and the set number of spells, this is what I would suggest:

Spellcasters can memorize 10 spells per day.  At 0th level they have mastered the 10 Cantrips, which once memorized for the day are not forgotten when cast.  At 1st level, they start to acquire Level 1 Spells.  To memorize one Level 1 Spell, they would have to give up a Cantrip.  This continues all the way up to Level 10 Spells, the spellcaster would have access to much more than spells and cantrips but can only memorize 10 on any given day.

I think this would play into the cantrip At-Will thing, I know in 4e the more Utility Powers I got, I switched from Encounter Utilty Power to Daily Utility Powers.

Another idea would be to limit the number or spells a spellcaster could cast each fight.
Seriously though, has anyone else played Chrono Cross?  If you're curious as to how a Vancian-ish system can be balanced and awesome, go play it.  Now, it's admittedly not a direct comparison, as a large part of the fighters-vs-casters balance was taken up in the mechanic that you had to use weapon attacks to gain power to use casting your allocated spells, but the balance within the grid itself is applicable.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Seriously though, has anyone else played Chrono Cross?  If you're curious as to how a Vancian-ish system can be balanced and awesome, go play it.  Now, it's admittedly not a direct comparison, as a large part of the fighters-vs-casters balance was taken up in the mechanic that you had to use weapon attacks to gain power to use casting your allocated spells, but the balance within the grid itself is applicable.



Eh, I'd love to play Chrono Cross, but I can't find it anywhere.
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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
Proposal: spells don't have levels - they are just spells.

That could be cool. 

But I think some uber spells don't scale down well.  Or at least not to level 1.



The D20 BESM magic book actually had a decent fix for that.  They gave each spell a cost in spell points (which spell slots were converted to), and a skill DC to cast it correctly.  So a skilled mage could cast a spell that would be otherwise higher in level than she could normally cast, but it would likely consume most of her spell poitns.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Seriously though, has anyone else played Chrono Cross?  If you're curious as to how a Vancian-ish system can be balanced and awesome, go play it.  Now, it's admittedly not a direct comparison, as a large part of the fighters-vs-casters balance was taken up in the mechanic that you had to use weapon attacks to gain power to use casting your allocated spells, but the balance within the grid itself is applicable.



Eh, I'd love to play Chrono Cross, but I can't find it anywhere.


www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksi...
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Seriously though, has anyone else played Chrono Cross?  If you're curious as to how a Vancian-ish system can be balanced and awesome, go play it.  Now, it's admittedly not a direct comparison, as a large part of the fighters-vs-casters balance was taken up in the mechanic that you had to use weapon attacks to gain power to use casting your allocated spells, but the balance within the grid itself is applicable.



Eh, I'd love to play Chrono Cross, but I can't find it anywhere.


www.ebay.com/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksi...



That needs a Playstation. :P I want an Android or XBox 360 or PC remake. :P
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
Seriously though, has anyone else played Chrono Cross?  If you're curious as to how a Vancian-ish system can be balanced and awesome, go play it.  Now, it's admittedly not a direct comparison, as a large part of the fighters-vs-casters balance was taken up in the mechanic that you had to use weapon attacks to gain power to use casting your allocated spells, but the balance within the grid itself is applicable.



Eh, I'd love to play Chrono Cross, but I can't find it anywhere.




www.amazon.com/Chrono-Cross-Playstation/...
I don't agree with this whole quadratic nonsense.  When your character levels your attacks should get more powerful, that's linear. It doesn't matter if you also get more spells to choose from or use in a 'day'.  How many are you actually going to use anyway? 

The real problem with getting more high level spells and having your lower level spells scale, is the average damage per attack action is higher than the (pre-4e) martial classes because the spells are not all equal, and if you have enough of the better than average spells per day you can get away with just using those.

4e solved this with giving all classes the same fixed mix of low, medium and high damage powers, all relatively linear to your level (assuming you trade out low level powers for highers ones as you level, etc.)

5e vancian seems to solve it using spells slots. The spells slots equate to the same fixed mix of low, medium and and high damage powers that 4e power rules gave you, except they are more flexible, in that you don't have to trade out spells, you just have to trade out spell slots as you level. The books don't need multiple types of fireball, just one spell that scales with spell slot level.

I see these approaches as mostly equivalent.  I could even imagine a martial character using a slot system.  To me it would be logically the same as the existing 4e system.
  
Of course, I'd also like to see classes that don't use this tiered slot/power system, that are still balanced.  For example, perhaps a more traditional martial class that doesn't have fixed # of actions per day, but possibly a host of at-will like actions and a few per-encounter actions (or based on some other mechanic that limits them), but with the math done right so it comes out to about the same average damage output over an encounter as the other classes.


Of course, I'd also like to see classes that don't use this tiered slot/power system, that are still balanced.  For example, perhaps a more traditional martial class that doesn't have fixed # of actions per day, but possibly a host of at-will like actions and a few per-encounter actions (or based on some other mechanic that limits them), but with the math done right so it comes out to about the same average damage output over an encounter as the other classes.




From your mouth to the dev's ears let it be so.
The warblade from Tome of Battle has a great at-will/ encounter system. I hope it is looked at when they begin to design the 5e fighter.
The linear vs quadratic topic isn't just about damage output, but versatility. Giving casters a spell to solve mundane issues lessens the need for a mundane solution. There shouldn't be low level spells that work better than an equal level class's ability. Knock is certainly a prime example, but so is Silence and Invisibility. All are traditionally low level (2-3 depending on class), and essentially make rogues obsolete in the utility area. Comprehend languages/Tongues makes any skill in decipher script/linguist obsolete. There shouldn't be spells for everything, or that trivialize encounters at minimal cost.

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I don't agree with this whole quadratic nonsense.  When your character levels your attacks should get more powerful, that's linear. It doesn't matter if you also get more spells to choose from or use in a 'day'.  How many are you actually going to use anyway?


The 'quadratic' notion goes far beyond the power of individual spells cast during combat.


  • Long-duration buffs (possibly with Extend Spell) can stretch to the next day. "An hour per level" means something different when you're 18th level than it did when you were 4th level.

  • Information gained via divination on a non-adventuring day can be helpful later without sacrificing any slots during an adventuring day.

  • Summons can last more than one day (e.g. 3E's Planar Binding series), again confering the benefits of a caster's best spell cast yesterday.

  • Buffs can combine synergistically. What was once a short-term buff can last for several combats at higher levels. Buffs also ignore action ecconomy - you can gain the benefit of a spell without casting it during combat.

  • Synergies emerge. Cloudkill is cool, but it's much cooler with Forcecage and possibly Dimensional Anchor.

  • Action economies change. Summoned monsters can cast, and Quicken Spell can squeeze multiple casts into a round.


These examples focus on the 3E rules because I remember them pretty well. There may be other examples of quadratic growth that I can't recall, but these seem pretty serious to me.

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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.

Proposal: spells don't have levels - they are just spells.

That could be cool. 

But I think some uber spells don't scale down well.  Or at least not to level 1.



The D20 BESM magic book actually had a decent fix for that.  They gave each spell a cost in spell points (which spell slots were converted to), and a skill DC to cast it correctly.  So a skilled mage could cast a spell that would be otherwise higher in level than she could normally cast, but it would likely consume most of her spell poitns.



I don't think it is much different from having spell levels. You still seem to categorize spells with "spell points", instead of levels. As for uber spells, why not changing the structure of those spells?

For instance, Raise Dead is a poweful spell, right? But what if we make it work like an Animate Corpse with limited duration at 1st level, and increase the duration and recipient number according to how much power is sacrificed while casting the spell and then maybe finally raise an actual being when a very big portion of mage's power is spent?

Power Word: Kill? Rendering a target unconcious for a very brief time at 1st level, scaling up to outright killing a being with enough power sacrificed.

Maybe in this way, most of the similar spells are eliminated down to their basic magic, giving you a much smaller but individually better defined list of spells.

Of course, I'd also like to see classes that don't use this tiered slot/power system, that are still balanced.  For example, perhaps a more traditional martial class that doesn't have fixed # of actions per day, but possibly a host of at-will like actions and a few per-encounter actions (or based on some other mechanic that limits them), but with the math done right so it comes out to about the same average damage output over an encounter as the other classes.




From your mouth to the dev's ears let it be so.




Sure, making other classes more quadratric doesn't mean giving fighters spells, or even 1/day powers, although a class that does do that for martial options might be interesting.  The key is to balance dissimilar mechanics.  Because that's a variation that makes the game interesting.

It's also very hard.  Let's not shy away from that. 

The problem with balancing different types of character mechanics is that different people play the same game in different ways.  And whether a utility power is useful, rubbish, or totally broken depends a lot on how you play, how the people on your table play, and how the game is run.  The point to be careful of is using mechanics that assume a particular playstyle - like the front-line fighter being the centre of attention, or wzards primarily using blasting magic, or everyone sticking to 2-3 encounters a day, then the game will become unbalanced with a different playstyle.  The solution 4e attempted was to keep everyone to the same core mechanic, but doing so made assumptions about the kind of game that people wanted to play. 

It appears that the tone of the new edition is to try and spread the net as widely as possible.  If that's going to work, we need to balance as many different approaches to the game as possible.  This will create some imbalances.  Rather than see this as something to be avoided, it should be something to mitigate, by making explict how style of play effects balance.  Vancian spellcasting will always be superior to constant abilities in a game where people can rest and recover their one-shot powers as often as they like.  Healing should be something that can run out while supporting a game where it's never really going to be a problem.  And so on.  So long as the game is explicit that some kinds of character are going to be better for some kinds of game, then we can have mutiple different types of character, using mutiple different types of mechanic, and worry less about precisely balancing them for a particular style of play. 


Power Word spell would probably just be "Power Word" and it's specific variants would be determined by the slot into which it was memorized.

1st level: it's target is a bloodied (or vulnerable or whatever) target. Auto-hit(?). Target is dazed or unable to act for 1 round.

As a level 2 utlility slot it might allow the caster to use an INT check in place of a strength check when trying to break a small, unattended object.

At higher spell slots it would allow for greater effects (even death at 9th level casting) or breaking 3foot thick stone walls at 8th level casting.

But it's very open spells like "wish" (and perhaps time stop) that I feel would be candidates for elimination. OR - perhaps they're power is so great that they require multiple spell slots to memorize.