Spell Format: Vancial or Power ?

Which format do you prefer for Spells, Vancian or Power ?


Burning Hands 
evocation (fire) 
Level: 1
Range: 0
Area: 15-foot cone
Target: Eah creature in the area
Saving Throw: Dexterity for half damage
Duration: Instantaneous
Components: N/A

You evoke flames in a 15-foot cone originating
from you. Holding your hands with your thumbs
touching and your fingers spread, a thin sheet
of flame shoots forth from your outstretch
fingertips. Each creature caught in the cone takes
fire damage equal to 2d4+ your magic ability
modifier. A creature can duck out of the way to take
half damage with a successful Dexterity saving throw.
The spell ignites unattended flammable objects in the area. 

VS    

Burning Hands 
1st-level evocation
Holding your hands with your thumbs touching
and your fingers spread, a thin sheet of flame shoots
forth from your outstretch fingertips.
   Effect: You evoke flames in a 15-foot cone
originating from you. Each creature caught in the
cone takes fire damage equal to 2d4+ your
magic ability modifier. A creature can duck out of
the way to take half damage with a successful
a Dexterity saving throw.
   The spell ignites unattended flammable objects
in the area.
Ok, how about this? (ok, burning hands dont have Components and Xp, but you get the point)

Burning Hands  

1st level evocation (fire)  

Components: V, S, C (500po), XP (500) (how?)
Target: Each creature in the area 15-foot cone (where?)
Effect: Instantaneous 2d4+magic modifier of fire damage (what?)
Save: Dexterity for half damage, Spell Resistance (how do you defend?)

Holding your hands with your thumbs touching 
and your fingers spread, a thin sheet of flame shoots 
forth from your outstretch fingertips.
146518563 wrote:
And then Martial was a new exciting new source of power, its practitioners manipulating the energies emanating from the plane of oiled-up burly weightlifters.
I definitely prefer the latter 4e style. I think the spells are easier to read and understand when the game mechanical effects are seperated from the flavor text. Just my opinion.

I prefer your "Power" version that is not really a 4th edition power version . A sentence in a power description! You have to be kidding me!

I prefer the older Vancian format personally.
I picked a more complex spell, to see how my formating preferences play out.

Here, the playtest Grease spell actually lacks its own flavor text, and for the most part is a lengthy technical description.






Level-1 Grease

[Flavor text.]

You conjure: an oily slickness to cover the surface,
Shooting: in short range (100 yards).

If blasting: in a melee (1-yard) radius,
At: all non-personal surfaces.
Then at: each creature already on the surface or later moving on it,
Versus: Dexterity,
The conjuration causes: each to fall prone.
Unless: successfully catching one’s balance.

If at: an item (such as a ladder, rope, or weapon in hand, etcetera).
Then at: each creature using the slippery item,
Versus: Dexterity,
The conjuration causes: each to lose one’s grip (thus the creature falls from a ladder, slips down a rope, or drops a weapon, etcetera).
Unless: successfully grabbing the item.

If at: a creature,
Then the conjuration causes: an advantage (on each check or saving throw) for the slippery creature to escape each grab (such as when grappled by a foe or restrained by manacles).

Until: the encounter ends, when the oily surface dries off (and flakes off).



Note, an encounter equates to roughly 15 minutes. I prefer simplified combat ranges. And simplified rules for grab/grapple/restrain/immobilize/grip.

Let me try :P

Grease
1st level conjuration

Components: -
Target: Everything in a 1 yard radius area around a point until 100 yards, until the end of combat
Effects:
* Creatures fall prone, Save: Dexterity
* or: Creatures drop items, Save: Dexterity
* or: Creatures gains advantage on grapple, escape artist and similar

[Fluff]
146518563 wrote:
And then Martial was a new exciting new source of power, its practitioners manipulating the energies emanating from the plane of oiled-up burly weightlifters.
Let me try :P

Grease
1st level conjuration

Components: -
Target: Everything in a 1 yard radius area around a point until 100 yards, until the end of combat
Effects:
* Creatures fall prone, Save: Dexterity
* or: Creatures drop items, Save: Dexterity
* or: Creatures gains advantage on grapple, escape artist and similar

[Fluff]



Thats pretty good, but its only one creature or one item.

Also, its often important to distinguish between what “you” do and what your “conjuration” does. Many spells are ambiguous (with regard to ranges, effects, and so on).



:P I will try integrate your improvement for my format.
I definitely prefer the latter 4e style. I think the spells are easier to read and understand when the game mechanical effects are seperated from the flavor text. Just my opinion.



I'll second that. Smile
It doesn't read like your goal at all. It just looks like someone went bonkers with line breaks and bolding. Makes it flow horribly both narratively and mechanically.

On topic, I prefere my fluff and mechanics separate. Makes it far easier to quickly reference, and allows for more intuitive reflavoring as players desire.

For full on text, Vancian style. Purtty English is mah friend. :3 However, I believe if you're looking up that text for a simple spell in game, then something's gone wrong. (either user or designer fault. Or both.) One thing I loved about 3.5 was the quick list of spells that had just the name and a basic sentence on each line. I want that but with more info packed into it for quick references. Something like this:

Spell Name: Very basic 1 sentence explanation.
tags, for small info. (page number)

So burning hands would look like…

Burning Hands: Create a 15ft cone that inflicts 2d4+mod damage.
Dex Save for Half damage, Fire, Ignites. (pg. 26)

And then you would have a list of these. You could then also clip these lines and plop them on character or mob sheets for quick reference.

It has a hint of a learning curve, because what isn't said has meaning too. It originates from you, if it didn't I would have put "within 50ft." It doesn't say a target because it effects all creatures. (Like most things in D&DN.) Unfortunatly, there are things like grease that are too complex. Which is fine, because this isn't meant to teach you the whole spell, it's just meant for quick references.

Grease: Cover a single area, object, or creature within 100ft with grease.
Area 10ft sphere, Dex Save or (Area: Prone, Object: Drop),
Creature: Advantage to Escape, Duration: 1 min. (pg 28)


Another pro of this is refluffing is a bit easier. With burning hands, I specifically left "of fire" out after cone because it's unnecessary and now you can use that reference for your exploding fire beetle swarm spell. If your DM wants to be stingy on fluff he can just say, "stick with the full text explanation."

I prefer Powers where they have to roll to hit.  Just like every other class.  Magic auto-successes makes babies cry.
On topic, I prefere my fluff anf mechanics separate. Makes it far easier to quickly reference, and allows for more intuitive reflavoring as players desire. 



I quite agree. Flavor text is a nice to have for "willing suspension of disbelief", immersion, etc, but isn't needed to actually use the spell. I like the mechanics to be separate from the flavor text so that I can read or ignore the fluff as I choose.


 


I disliked the power style, particularly when it decided the how/why you were doing something, while still keeping that utterly seperate, and not necessarily in line with, the mechanics. It gives a feel as though you automatically must get the same "attack animation" as the other fifty wizards in your raid, because there's  only one animation for burning hands. Having specific keywords to work from does help clean things up a lot, but the format itself, while easy to read, was kind of annoyingly spaced.

Vancian format, despite often having a similar description of the effect, was a little more impersonal about it.

I'm liking VacantPslam's version: I'd like to see something like this, using once again Burning Hands as our example.

First Level Spells:
blah blah blah other spells

Burning Hands [Evocation, Fire]
V/S/M Personal, 15ft Cone-3
The burning cone created by this spell inflicts 2d4+ elemental damage, Dex Halves, Saving at -2 if engulfed on all sides.


Here, the Range is there as a reminder, that it doesn't get to start from somewhere else. Obviously, V/S/M are the component indicators; most spells, let's just be honest, don't need them. the bat guano, everyone always assumed you had. /M would be limited to the ones that had significant time or monetary value, like when it asks for a 200gp diamond. But verbal spells are no good when you're gagged or muted, even if they need just a whisper, and somatic spells are no good while you're bound or paralyzed. Its entirely possible a spell might need all three... or none.

15ft Cone-3 indicates the cone's length, and also its width [almost always an odd-number] at the tip of the cone. You could reflect this as an angle, but that might be simpler: a 60ft cone-3 would more or less be a line after the first square, while a 10ft cone-5 might represent a short-ranged sweep. Doesn't have to vary off the normal cone sizes often, but lets the option be there nice and clean, at least I think.

Elemental damage should be an obvious keyword here, as I figure it oughta be possible that a 'fire' spell might actually inflict other forms of damage, or multiple types [fire/slashing for a flame sword or something]. It would also mean that something that changes your elemental damage type affects burning hands, and may do so DIFFERENTLY than something which affects your Fire or Evocation spells. Technically, some special effect or ability that grants +4 damage to fire spells could still affect burning hands while under the effects of some fire>grass-or-ice-or-whatever damage conversion effect.

Finally, I think dex/reflex saves should at least be penalized when you're caught dead center of the thing. Unless you can teleport 21ft as part of a reflexive dodge attempt, it should at least be significantly more difficult to avoid the brunt of that fireball; not impossible, you may be able to get some cover or put up your shield, and your armor might protect you from a lot of the low pressure flame-wave it creates, but you have to admit that it makes jumping out of the way and avoiding all damage a whole lot more difficult than if  you were trying to avoid the edge of the giant blast. Meanwhile, a quick beam-sweep from an area 'scorching ray' efffect might be no harder, you just needed to avoid it for a moment when it passed where you are.
I'd much rather have a 'points' system than either.
I prefer a power format because it takes up less space and is easier to read through.  You can quickly see exactly what a power does and how to resolve it.  Using prose tends to result in awkward phrases (especially as the designers seem to be attemting to avoid certain words, like adjacent).

Take, for example, Burning Hands.

Here is the text from the playtest (8 lines in the format used):

"Effect: You evoke flames in a 15-foot cone
originating from you. Each creature caught in the
flames takes fire damage equal to 2d4 + your
magic ability modifier. A creature can duck out of
the way to take half the damage with a successful
Dexterity saving throw.
The spell ignites unattended flammable objects
in the area."

Here is how I would do it (5 lines):

Area: 15-foot cone
Effect: 2d4 + magic ability mod fire damage
Save: Dexterity half
Special: The spell ignites unattended flammable objects
in the area.

Sure, it doesn't involve nice sentences.  But I don't read the spell effect for nice sentences; the description does that: "Holding your hands with your thumbs touching and fingers spread, a thin sheet of flames shoots forth from your outstretched fingertips."  This would be the same in both versions.
Forcing game mechanics (and that is what the effect part is) into prose leads to awkward phrases like "damage equal to 2d4 + your magical ability modifier".  It is much quicker to just read, "2d4 + ability mod fire damage."  And it is far quicker to just see a line saying, "Save: Dexterity half" then to read, "A creature can duck out of the way to take half the damage with a successful Dexterity saving throw."
Here is how I would do it (5 lines):
Area: 15-foot cone
Effect: 2d4 + magic ability mod fire damage
Save: Dexterity half
Special: The spell ignites unattended flammable objects
in the area.

I'd be thrilled to have that, and the prose.

@Haldrik. Honestly, if they did that format of spells in 5e, it would turn it into an instant no-buy for me. Compare to every other format that has been presented it takes up more space, is horribly disjointed and hard to understand and it reads like pseudocode for a project that is comprised of nothing but nested if/then statements. It may make sense to you but I think most people would find it incredibly hard to read and frustrating trying to work it out.

Honestly, I feel that the best way is to have a list of mechanical elements followed by any explanation neede for more complex spells followed by any fluff. eg.

Burning Hands
Level 1 Evocation
Components: V/S/M/Whatever
Targets: All creatures and objects in a 15-foot cone
Effect: 2d4 + ability mod fire damage
Special: Ignites unattended flamable objects
Save: Dexterity half damage

[fluff text] 


Turn Undead
Level 1 Necomancy
Components: Holy Symbol/Focus 
Targets: All undead within 20 feet that can see and hear you 
Effect: All effected creatures become turned until your next turn
Special: You use an action to increase the duration by one round
Save: Wisdom negates 

A turned creature cannot approach you or make any hostile action against you. If you move next to a turned creature, it must move at least 5 feet away on its turn if able. Attacking a turned creature ends the effect

[fluff text]


I feel that this format gives us everything that we want. It gives us the basic mechanics in a short, easily read list for quick reference without having to decipher chopped up sentences. It allows for spells with effects that need an explanation to have one and it seperates the fluff from the mechanics so that when we just need to know what the spell does, we don't have to read the whole entry and try to sperate out the fluff but when we do want to know the fluffly stuff it is still there
I definitely prefer the latter 4e style. I think the spells are easier to read and understand when the game mechanical effects are seperated from the flavor text. Just my opinion.



It's a role playing game not a wargame.  As a competitive Flames of War/40K/whatever player I enjoy the chess aspect but then when I am roleplaying I want the fluff.  I want to read the cool arcanum and explanations and such.  That's what makes it feel magical.  4E bored me to tears with its...spartan format and it's totally unexplained powers.  Heres me during a 4E game using their powers stuff:

"Wait...  I hit this guy...and a guy 30 feet away...is now better at hitting him?  whuuuu?  That guy's lucky if he even saw what I did!"

Or this:

"So...I hit a dude... and magically everyone around me heals?  whuuuuuu.  What did I do, splatter his blood into their veins to replenish them?"

I mean there was ZERO reason why some of those powers should even make sense without cool explanatory coolness.

This is DnD.  I play Wargames like you wouldn't beleive.  I ddont want that same experience with DnD becasue its NOT Warhammer, WarMachine, Flames of War, Babylon 5, BattleFleet Gothic, Chess, Monsterpocalypse or any of the other miriad of games I play. 

This is a roleplaying game.  This is a game that should immerse you in fluff and magic and elves and mountainous fortresses and the Horn of Helms Deep and stuff. 

It's not a clinical miniatures Wargame.

Agree with Jancoran. I want a short, precise resume in a power manner to check while in combat. But I want to keep the fluffy wall of text. I am roleplaying after all!
146518563 wrote:
And then Martial was a new exciting new source of power, its practitioners manipulating the energies emanating from the plane of oiled-up burly weightlifters.
Heres me during a 4E game using their powers stuff:

"Wait...  I hit this guy...and a guy 30 feet away...is now better at hitting him?  whuuuu?  That guy's lucky if he even saw what I did!"

Or this:

"So...I hit a dude... and magically everyone around me heals?  whuuuuuu.  What did I do, splatter his blood into their veins to replenish them?"

I mean there was ZERO reason why some of those powers should even make sense without cool explanatory coolness.

You mean like some flavor text?  I don't know what specific powers (if any) you are referencing above, but here are two example flavor texts that fit nicely:

"As you smash your foe with your weapon, you invoke your divine magic, and the weapon of one of your allies flares with power."

"Light erupts from your weapon, scalding your foe while your allies draw strength from the brilliant glow.
"

But the problem is that you seem to have decided to ignore the flavor text and at the same time refuse to use any imagination at all to come up with your own flavor.  Instead, you simply say, "Whuuuuuu" and come up with a wacky explanation that you then use as proof that things make no sense.

Both of the flavor texts I quoted above not only make sense, but are also (sure, in my opinion) quite cool.

The spells in the playtest all have nice flavorful descriptive paragraphs for you to read.  There is no reason the mechanics also needs to be in full sentence form.

I also happen to prefer when the description is of the effect itself, but stays away from the method in most circumstances. Telling us what that fireball does, good. Telling us that we twiddled ourselves for three seconds before taking a half-step and pointing at the target makes me want to tell the narrator to go **** himself, I'm trying not to play a turn-based strategy-game here [I know, I know, if I'm playing 4th... but at least its a damn good one]

I think he meant more that while the explanation given by the power was bollocks, the power itself also made it hard to come up with something decent [perhaps why the explanation given was also on the crummy side].

This was of particular import to the martial classes.
"Wait. So, MY action is to dash through the square BETWEEN those two guys busy fighting bill and ted there respectively, back to back, and thus automatically force them to attack each-other"
"that's what the power says. Pretty effective given their attacks"
"but, um, not being able to reach eachother aside, how exactly am I clouding them that much, while taunting or something? not exactly a mage here"
"Well, its a martial power, not arcane, so of course you're not a mage"
"is that like psionics or something?"
"Its martial"
".... Martial it is then"

And then Martial was a new exciting new source of power, its practitioners manipulating the energies emanating from the plane of oiled-up burly weightlifters.

And then Martial was a new exciting new source of power, its practitioners manipulating the energies emanating from the plane of oiled-up burly weightlifters.


LOL, I´ll start my sign with this comment XD
146518563 wrote:
And then Martial was a new exciting new source of power, its practitioners manipulating the energies emanating from the plane of oiled-up burly weightlifters.
Which format do you prefer for Spells, Vancian or Power ?

Burning Hands 
evocation (fire) 
Level: 1
Range: 0
Area: 15-foot cone
Target: Eah creature in the area
Saving Throw: Dexterity for half damage
Duration: Instantaneous
Components: N/A

You evoke flames in a 15-foot cone originating
from you. Holding your hands with your thumbs
touching and your fingers spread, a thin sheet
of flame shoots forth from your outstretch
fingertips. Each creature caught in the cone takes
fire damage equal to 2d4+ your magic ability
modifier. A creature can duck out of the way to take
half damage with a successful Dexterity saving throw.
The spell ignites unattended flammable objects in the area. 


With no disrespect intended, I think you repeated too much information to represent this style in your example.  You ask a very interesting question, though! 

Here is the text from the playtest (8 lines in the format used):

"Effect: You evoke flames in a 15-foot cone
originating from you. Each creature caught in the
flames takes fire damage equal to 2d4 + your
magic ability modifier. A creature can duck out of
the way to take half the damage with a successful
Dexterity saving throw.
The spell ignites unattended flammable objects
in the area."

Here is how I would do it (5 lines):

[Burning Hands]
Area: 15-foot cone
Effect: 2d4 + magic ability mod fire damage
Save: Dexterity half
Special: The spell ignites unattended flammable objects
in the area.


I prefer the power style, for the reasons Arithezoo states.  Add some flavor text ("Holding your hands with your thumbs touching....") to the above and it's good to go imo.  [Please note I added the spell name above the indicated 5 lines.]

However, it would not bother me if many spells at each level had longer flavor text or explanatory notes, but 1) I just don't think that is necessary for every spell and 2) the power format is much quicker to read for mechanics when needed.

This issue seems just like the Bestiary info.....  Would you want them to write all the mechanics into the paragraphs about monster lore and history???  (For example:  Hobgoblins are quite regimented and orderly, favoring chain mail for a +3 bonus to AC and gaining an additional +1 bonus when in formation with other hobgoblins.)  It's impractical that way, imho.
I'm not clear on the diference.  As long as the information communicated is the same, what does it matter what the format is?  We're already in a position where we can either have mechanics dissociated from fluff or associated with fluff, with the same text, based solely on whether the DM chooses one approach or the other.  If both the fluff and the crunch are there, then both the fluff and crunch are there.

I'm confused.
D&D Next = D&D: Quantum Edition
Its a matter of layout preferences. Wink

Alright, I hear you guys. But theres still something Im after. How about this?



Burning Hands
Level 1

By: Evoking fire
In: Close, spray
Target: Creatures
Damage: By fire (2d4 + ability)
Unless: Dexterity dodges (half damage)
Target: Unattended flammable objects
Damage: By ongoing fire
Here is the text from the playtest (8 lines in the format used):

"Effect: You evoke flames in a 15-foot cone
originating from you. Each creature caught in the
flames takes fire damage equal to 2d4 + your
magic ability modifier. A creature can duck out of
the way to take half the damage with a successful
Dexterity saving throw.
The spell ignites unattended flammable objects
in the area."

Here is how I would do it (5 lines):

[Burning Hands]
Area: 15-foot cone
Effect: 2d4 + magic ability mod fire damage
Save: Dexterity half
Special: The spell ignites unattended flammable objects
in the area.


I prefer the power style, for the reasons Arithezoo states.  Add some flavor text ("Holding your hands with your thumbs touching....") to the above and it's good to go imo.  [Please note I added the spell name above the indicated 5 lines.]

However, it would not bother me if many spells at each level had longer flavor text or explanatory notes, but 1) I just don't think that is necessary for every spell and 2) the power format is much quicker to read for mechanics when needed.

This issue seems just like the Bestiary info.....  Would you want them to write all the mechanics into the paragraphs about monster lore and history???  (For example:  Hobgoblins are quite regimented and orderly, favoring chain mail for a +3 bonus to AC and gaining an additional +1 bonus when in formation with other hobgoblins.)  It's impractical that way, imho.

Yeah, I left off the name and flavor text (because it is the same in both cases), but that is exactly how I would do it.  You get all the fun flavor (holding your hands out with thumbs touching and fingers spread, blasting out fire in a fan shape, etc) and still have clear and concise mechanics.

Great point about monster lore.  I think most of us enjoy the sections on monster lore (legends, habits, organization, etc) but we also like to have a separate, clearly written, concise stat block.  Why?  Because when it comes time to look up a monster during combat, you don't want to have to read through paragraphs of prose (well written though it may be) in order to find out that hobgoblins have an AC of 13 (14 when adjacent to another hobgoblin).
In the same way, the mechanics of a spell should be separate and very clear to make it quick and easy to reference.  There will still be a nice flavor block for people to read and enjoy.  And that should be enough.  After all, which of the following is more fun to read:

1) "Holding your hands with your thumbs touching and fingers spread, a thin sheet of flames shoots forth from your outstretched fingertips."

or

2) "You evoke flames in a 15-foot cone originating from you.  Each creature caught in the flames takes fire damage equal to 2d4 + your magic ability modifier.  A creature can duck out of the way to take half the damage with a successful Dexterity saving throw."

I vote for Number 1.  Both are saying the same thing: the caster is blasting out fire.  But the first one is actually a pure narrative description of what is happening.  It is a story meant to be read and enjoyed.  The second one is mehanics being forced into prose.  It is not how stories are written and is not interesting to read (no more than reading any section on mechanics is interesting).  The first one is the flavor, the second is the nuts and bolts.

@Kitton: you are making the same mistake as the poster I quoted in my earlier post.  Anything sounds dumb if you insist on talking about it like that.  If you make the conscious choice to ignore the flavor presented, refuse to come up with flavor of your own, and blindly allow the rules to control the game, then of course things won't be very fun.

But here is the same scenario that you presented:

Bill (playing a rogue): I dash between the two orcs, and as they both turn to hack at me they accidentally take swipes at one another.  I get to shift my speed, and both orcs have to make melee basic attacks against each other.

See?  Makes sense, is (sure, in my opinion) really cool, and includes both a fun, flavorful description of what is happening plus a mechanical explanation so everyone is on the same page.

Now for a trickier spell.



Grease
Level 1

By: Conjuring slipperiness
In: Short range, melee blast
Target: Surface
Make: Slippery
Until: Encounter ends

Choose:
Surface

• If:
Area
Targets: Moving creatures
Makes:
Fall prone
Unless: Dexterity balances

• If:
Object (ladder, rope, weapon in hand)
Targets: Creatures
Makes: Lose grip (fall from ladder, slip down rope, drop weapon)
Unless: Dexterity grabs

• If:
Creature
Grant: Advantage to escape grabs (grappled, restrained)




Power format. Reading between the "prose" is a timewaster after the first time, and infuriating to retool if it's too caught up with the mechanics.

EDIT: @Haldrik

Uh, that type of logical routine is more efficiently handled by a computer program.


These don't need to be very complicated. I think the following format gives you everything you need: Flavor and mechanics, without being confusing about which is which.


Burning Hand
s


Holding your hands with thumbs touching and fingers spread, a thin sheet of flames shoots forth from your outstretched fingertips.


Level 1 Evocation      Area/Target: cone 15'


Duration: Instant


Effect: Creatures in the target area make a Dexterity saving throw. Creatures that fail this saving take 2d4+your magic ability modifier fire damage, and creaturees that succeed this saving throw instead take half damage. Any unattended consumables in the target area are ignited.


I see lots of you are doing Grease here, so I'll give it a shot. It is a bit more complicated.


Grease

You conjure an oily slick that you can use to slow approaching foes, evade pursuit, or help escape from restraints.


Level 1 Conjuration   Area/Target: sphere 10' within 100' or target one creature within 100' or target one object within 100'


Duration: 1 minute


Effect:


When cast as an area, any creature that in the area must make a Dexterity saving throw or fall prone and any creature moving through the target area must also make a Dexterity saving throw or fall prone.


When cast on an object, a creature attempting to use the target object must make a Dexterity saving throw. If the creature fails the dexterity check, and the target object was a ladder or rope, the creature falls or if the object was an item, the creature drops the target object.


When cast on a creature, that creature gains advantage on an escape attempt checks and squeeze checks



I admit that one was a bit harder due to it's variance of effects. Let's try a targetted attack spell.


Searing Light

Focusing holy power like a ray of the sun, you project a blast of light from your open palm.


Level 1 Evocation Area/Target: target one creature within 100'


Duration: Instant


Effect: Make a ranged attack against target creature. On a hit, the target creature takes 4d6+ your magic ability modifier radiant damage. An undead creature instead take 4d12 + your magic ability modifier radiant damage. A construct or animate object instead takes 2d6 + your magic ability modifier damage.



Nice and easy that one. Here's one more, actually one of my favorites from the playtest.


Shield of Faith

You call out a prayer to protect an imperiled ally. A shimmering field surrounds and shield your target, helping to deflect attacks.


Level 1 Abjuration Area/Target: target one creature within 50' that you can see


Duration: 1 minute


Effect: Attacks against the target have disadvantage.


Special: You can cast this spells as a reaction with the following trigger.


Trigger: A creature within range is targetted by an attack.



This is easier to read and much easier to understand how each of the spells work. I am considering reworking all the spells in the packet to this format for my play group.


One more, though I changed the mechanics on this one slightly because I felt it gave more ease to understanding whether the 'floating spectral hammer' can be interacted with, etc.


Spiritual Hammer

Calling out for aid from your divine patron, you evoke magical force in the shape of a glowing hammer. The hammer rises and falls, smashing your foes.


Level 1 Evocation Area/Target: target


Duration: 1 minute


Effect: You create a floating spectral hammer which cannot be manipulated physically. On a hit, deal 1d8 force damage. Whenever you take an action on your turn, you may move the hammer up to 20' and make another melee attack with it, targetting any creature within 5' of it.


Heh, easy spells are easy.

The tricky spells are the ones that require careful thinking about what the format should be.



It seems there needs to be three separate formats:
• Prose
• Mechanics
• Abbreviations (one-line summary for lists that fit on one page)

I feel strongly the Prose “flavor” comes first, before the mechanics. Its the narrative that determines concept, context, and wonder. Many people need to see the Prose before they can get a sense of what it is the mechanics are trying to measure.

For a narrative game, the prose is more important than the mechanics. For example, it is legitimate to stay true to the prose, while doing an improvisation to tweak the mechanics. It is up to the “referee” to discern narrative coherence and mechanical balance.

Uh, that type of logical routine is more efficiently handled by a computer program.



Heh, the spell itself is convoluted. Dont blame me. Im just doing what I can to represent mechanically. The fact you call it a “logical routine”, means to me, I succeeded in untangling what the Prose of the spell is actually doing.

Separate fluff and mechanics. I don't want to have to highlight my books for looking things up during a session.
For a narrative game, the prose is more important than the mechanics.

For the part of the game that leans heavily on mechanics (making stuff get dead), the mechanics need to be concise and consistent.

That's why crunch needs to be distilled out of the fluff.  Mechanical implications such as environmental side-effects can remain in the fluff just fine, but the mathematics need to be readily available.
For a narrative game, the prose is more important than the mechanics.

For the part of the game that leans heavily on mechanics (making stuff get dead), the mechanics need to be concise and consistent.

That's why crunch needs to be distilled out of the fluff.  Mechanical implications such as environmental side-effects can remain in the fluff just fine, but the mathematics need to be readily available.



I agree, a tactical game *must* separate flavor from the mechanics.

Im just pointing out, the reverse is also true. A narrative game also needs to separate the story (fluff) from the technical “gamey” jargon (mechanics).
I agree, a tactical game *must* separate out flavor from the mechanics.

Im just pointing out, the reverse is also true. A narrative game needs to separate out the story (fluff) from the technical “gamey” jargon (mechanics).

If we want spells to work in both, we need both formats: the raw math, so I don't stall the game for everyone else while figuring out how to make that guy get dead; and the descriptive prose, for when I'm trying to MacGyver some ridiculous way around an obstacle.
Heh, I think thats the narrative style in a nutshell.

The descriptive prose, for when I'm trying to MacGyver some ridiculous way around an obstacle.



My opinion: Spells that deal damage and nothing else should consist only of flavor text and a stat block.  If they have additional effects ("lights unattended objects on fire"), they can be in prose.

If a spell has complex other effects, then the range, target(s) AoE, duration, components, level, school, and maybe the save should be in a stat block and the rest in prose, carefully separated into paragraphs.

Proposed Grease:

Grease
1st-level conjuration
Flavor text blah blah
Range: 100 feet
Target: One object (no larger than a certain size?), or one creature, or an area equal to a 10' radius sphere
Duration: 1 minute
Save: Special, see text
Effect: If you cast this spell on an object, blah
If you cast this spell on a creature, blah
If you cast this spell on an area, blah

I can see two arguments about whether the Dex save should be in the stat block or in the prose.  Since in this case the save does not apply when cast on a creature (which would be the logical use of a save), I think asking the reader to check each paragraph as necessary is not too much.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
The Core Coliseum: test out your 4e builds and fight to the death.

I think the save should be in the effect.
My opinion: Spells that deal damage and nothing else should consist only of flavor text and a stat block.  If they have additional effects ("lights unattended objects on fire"), they can be in prose.

If a spell has complex other effects, then the range, target(s) AoE, duration, components, level, school, and maybe the save should be in a stat block and the rest in prose, carefully separated into paragraphs.

Proposed Grease:

Grease
1st-level conjuration
Flavor text blah blah
Range: 100 feet
Target: One object (no larger than a certain size?), or one creature, or an area equal to a 10' radius sphere
Duration: 1 minute
Save: Special, see text
Effect: If you cast this spell on an object, blah
If you cast this spell on a creature, blah
If you cast this spell on an area, blah

I can see two arguments about whether the Dex save should be in the stat block or in the prose.  Since in this case the save does not apply when cast on a creature (which would be the logical use of a save), I think asking the reader to check each paragraph as necessary is not too much.



The problem with “see text” is, it doesnt separate the mechanics from the prose. 

Plus, saying “blah” to represent a complex effect is cheating. The mechanical format has to clarify what the mechanical rules are - especially if the rules are complex and convoluted.
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