The problem with Vancian casting

[Update]

The problem with vancian spellcasting


On closer examination, the problem with vancian spellcasting is: the long rest.

It is necessary to remove long rest from the spellcasting requirements.



The solution to vancian spellcasting!


During the thread, a simple solution to the problem with vancian spellcasting emerged. It seems to work ok, and a number of forumers are interested in pursuing this direction.



Allow Wizards (and other vancian style classes) to prepare spells as many times as they need to during the day:

• Spend 1-hour rest to prepare ALL spells
• Spend a short rest to prepare ANY spell



The benefit is, when Wizards burn all their spells during an especially busy day, they can try find a safe place, recover their spells, and then press on along with the rest of the adventurers.

Recovering a spell during a short rest between encounters enters the same rhythm as classes that use a mana-point system who can use a short rest to recharge mana, and the same rhythm as classes that use an encounter power system. Likewise vancian becomes closer to and in more balance with classes that use an atwill-only system, like Fighters.

Moreover, by spending a short rest prepare a single spell, allows Wizards to swap in a utility spell for noncombat situations.

There is concern about the sheer number of spellslots that vancian Wizards have traditionally. But the designers plan to reduce the number of spellslots anyway - especially because the atwill cantrip represents the basic spell attacks. Personally, I think one spellslot per level is sufficient, so a level-14 Wizard has 14 spellslots from level-1 to level-14. However, about two spellslots per level is what the Wizard of previous editions have.

As long as the rules pull the vancian mechanic off of the 24-hour cycle, I might even like this kind of vancian spellcasting.





[Original]

The problem with vancian spellcasting


The problem with Vancian casting - and with all daily powers - is: too many things can happen isn a single day.

If an encounter equates to roughly 5 minutes, then there are 288 encounters per day. Not one encounter per day. Not two. Not three. Not even four encounters per day, ... but 288 encounters per day.

A lot of things can happen in a single day. Many stories describe these kinds of a “busy day”. (Think of the series 24, where the entire season is about a single 24 hour period.) It is simply impossible to use D&D to tell one of these kinds of busy stories. Because of Vancian casting.

The idea that players who rely on daily powers must give up their gaming balance - while other players who dont use daily powers and persist at full strength for around 100 encounters in a row, is untenable. Daily powers are a joke.



So there are 288 encounters per day. Accounting for a 5-minute rest between each encounter, comes to about 144 encounters. Accounting for about a 7-hour sleep possibly including preparations of various kinds, yields about 102 encounters per day. So while any of 288 encounters per day can be interrupted by hostiles ...

There are roughly 100 encounters per day of full-on action.

(100. Not 4.)

The day is twenty-five times too big, than what is necessary to maintain gaming balance.

It is simply broken to make gaming balance depend on a 24-hour cycle.

It is simply absurd to force the DM to make every story “fit” 4 encounters per day, when in fact there are 288 encounters per day.





This Question and Answer bothered me about where D&D Next is heading.


Question: What are you guys doing to end the 5 minute adventuring day that has pretty much plagued every edition of DnD.

Answer: I really want to address this with DM advice. I think that trying to make the rules do this just messes things up.



No. The DM has nothing to do with the problem of a 5-minute work day. The problem exists because Vancian casting and daily powers are a bad idea in every way.

The ONLY way to fix this problem is to decouple power resources from the 24-hour cycle.

A potential 100 fully active encounters per day are simply too many to use a “day” for a limited resource that the gaming balance requires.

Wizards, shave and a haircut

Do your adventuring parties spend any time exploring?
Do your adventuring parties spend any time exploring?



For example, if you are underground, theres little elsewhere to go except the monsters in the next room.

And you have to camp out - in the middle of dungeon crawling with monsters - because the Vancians burned up their 5 minutes worth of fighting?

It makes a ridiculous story.
Do those monsters have treasure?  I don't think they'll have much.  Let's not take the risk of fighting them.  Why don't we go down the corridor and have another poke at that idol we found last week?
I mean, under ground. Like, there is no coming back a week later. Monsters block the only route.


How did we get in here again?  Surely we can just retrace our steps!  And why can't we come back tomorrow, or next week, or just go somewhere slightly less perilous?

TWO HUNDRED AND EIGHTY-EIGHT ENCOUNTERS PER DAY



Theres no way a DM can “finesse” that into four.
I'm not sure it's a matter of referee finesse to get around the supposed problem.

Recall that in AD&D, even in dangerous areas, it's rare to check for random encounters more than once every three turns (i.e. twice an hour, or twenty-four encounters per day).   In addition, the referee is advised to check less frequently if the party is holed up somewhere safe and not making much noise.  Monster lairs, on the other hand, consitute between a quarter and a third of a typical dungeon.  With that sort of density, the finesse is very much up to the players.  Hack-and-slay gatherings can rush to wherever they hear monsters, but more subtle parties will be on the lookout for treasure, not bloodshed.

In my opinion, the "problem" arises from the conventions of play at your table.  If it works for you, go to it... but it doesn't seem like you enjoy it that much.
How did we get in here again?  Surely we can just retrace our steps!  And why can't we come back tomorrow, or next week, or just go somewhere slightly less perilous?


 Retrace your steps, and come back next week ... because you fought for 5 minutes? Are you kidding?

What will you do next week? Come back, fight for another 5 minutes, and then come back again the week after that?
How did we get in here again?  Surely we can just retrace our steps!  And why can't we come back tomorrow, or next week, or just go somewhere slightly less perilous?


 Retrace your steps, and come back next week ... because you fought for 5 minutes? Are you kidding?



It wasn't clear to me from context, but OK: the place is so dangerous that we needed to use the majority of our spells to survive the first encounter.

I'm not going back, let's find another dungeon.

the place is so dangerous that we needed to use the majority of our spells.



“The majority of our spells” ... all 5 minutes.

Vancian casting and daily powers are a bad idea.
It's certainly true that you can run the game in such a way that it's no fun.  No designer in the world can stop that from happening. 
I tend to agree that Vancian casting, while a great invention for literature, tends to limit the fun of a game. It also per-supposes an old fashioned style of play which, while it may be simple and nostalgic, is frustrating and arbitrary for a modern audience.

However, I think the case against has been overstated, since it is clearly not broken, as has been pointed out. There are cantrips of course. Restrictions are designed to stop the spamming of potent and otherwise game breaking powers. In an episode of 24 (can't believe I'm typing this) jack would be a fighter and his use of the wizard (say a rocket launcher or emp device) would still be restricted to one or two episodes. These dramatic moments serve as high points in action so the story still works. Similes are bad arn't they?

The issue is rather that these amazing game breaking effects tend to be underwhelming. This is especially true of low level spells where the infrequency of casting tends to exascerbate the issue.

In my opinion, magic spells are the only place in 'Next' where daily and encounter powers should be carried over from 4th. The 'powers' system artificially slowed game combat and limited player's imaginations but it was great for wizards.
I hate daily resources, so I'm completely behind you.
Look, some people like Vancian casting, some people hate it, and some people don't much care. I think the best solution is to include classes with several different casting styles, so everyone has a chance to do what they want. I hope that is the route they take; it seems like they are at least considering it.

I can say that I personally never ran into trouble with the 5 minute work day. All the groups I've ever played with husbanded their daily abilties and used them up at about the same rate as other resources like hp. They took a break when it made sense in the story, or when they were just so beat down that they had to retreat and regroup. (Well, that's not totally true. In 4e, we went to a system where daily powers reset between game sessions. That worked fine too.)

Of course, we never tried a dungeon like Gauntlet, where the encounters come every 5 minutes like clockwork...
Any extreme example can make rules look bad. The OPs scenario of 100 combats in a day where the first one exhausts all of a wizards spells, guess what, thats a completely ridiculous adventure setup and thus pointless as a criticism against Vancian casting. As pointless as complaining a level 1 char cant kill an adult red dragon.
You can't use "but not all the encounters in the day are combat" as a defence of daily powers when two of the primary classes, Wizards and Clerics, substantially rely on daily powers (spells) for their social AND exploratory "encounters" as well.

The whole system is flawed, failing to take the long standing issues which it creates (only somewhat dealt with in 4th Edition, one place where that edition didn't go FAR ENOUGH!) is an abrogation of responsibility on the part of the designers.

The occasional DM and/or player who hasn't ever had to deal with these issues (lucky them) doesn't negate the fact that it exists for the vast majority of us. 
I also dislike the Vancian system, but for different reasons.

How do you balance a class with limited power resources (Wizard) with a class with limitless power resources (Fighter)? The obvious answer is: you make the Wizard's limited power resources stronger/better than the Fighter's limitless power resources.

But then, how do you keep the Wizard from stealing the spotlight? He will be the guy who decides when and where the enemies are dangerous/ the situation is important enough to deserve more of his attention, and then he will receive the glory for "solving" it with his best spells. Meanwhile, the Fighter is simply "the guy who is there to deal with monsters not worthy of the Wizard's attention".

This leads to the 5MWD problem. What is stopping the Wizard to unload all of his big guns early on, and then everybody needs to go to hear a bedtime story, because no one dares adventure without the all-mighty caster to back them up? By the way, WotC: "DM Advice" is definitely not the answer here. There is no amount of advice that will erase the fact that most adventures, per world logic, will not have time restraints that impede the characters from resting before going on. There's only so many times a group can be woken up in the middle of the night by a rovering band of monsters before they calling BS. There's a reason random encounters are called "random" encounters, not "keep the wizard from recovering his spells so the fighter can have a chance to shine" encounters.
So, your argument is that because a DM in theory could have the group in 100 encounters per day, Vancian casting doesn't work?

(Note: I am going with 100 encounters because it is far more reasonable than your 288.  There will be down time between encounters, and there will be some time to get from one encounter to the next.  Otherwise, it is really just one big encounter that takes the entire day.)

So...100 combat encounters over the course of the day.  The 5 level 1 PCs have a total of 143 hp/day, on average (taking the average rolls for healing, hit dice, and the healing potion).  This means that, on average, they must take less than 1.4 damage/encounter in order to survive those 100 encounters!  To put this another way, they might be fighting 100 kobolds, one at a time.  These are not encounters that would require the use of powerful spells.  In fact, these aren't even encounters that would let you see any difference between the Fighter's big basic attack and the Wizard's little magic missile, because both would instantly kill that single kobold.

This is the problem with arguments of the extreme: they never really consider the implications involved.  Can a Fighter keep fighting without any loss of damage?  Sure.  But can a Fighter keep fighting indefinately?  No, because he will run out of HP.

A more reasonable argument would be to look at the number of encounters a party of a given level could realistically have, and consider whether or not you felt that the number of daily spells given to the wizard were enough.

In the playtest, the Wizard has 3 spells at level 1.  These spells are potentially quite devastating: sleep and burning hands can both easily turn the tide of a fight at level 1.  So I feel there is no reason for the wizard to need to cast one of those spells every encounter (bolded for emphasis); some fights during the day will be quite small.  Perhaps the group comes across 4 kobolds, for example.  It wouldn't be worth expending a daily spell for such a measly encounter.  I think having the level 1 wizard cast a big spell between half and 1/4 of the encounters is a good amount for me (it depends on if the group is having a lot of little fights or a few big fights).  This should also roughly coincide with the time that the party needs to rest.
This is what we saw happen in the playtest, and thus I am pretty happy with how things are balanced so far.

So there are two questions:
1) How often do you expect wizards to cast their big spells?
2) How many encounters can your group survive before having to rest?

If these two things match up decently, things are well balanced.  If not, the numbers need some adjusting.  But that still doesn't mean Vancian casting is problematic; it just means your group might need to adjust some things to make your own playstyle work.  Now, if the majority of people feel that the numbers don't work, then it should be changed officially.  But if your group is an outlier, it is easy enough to just give Wizards more spells/day or to give everyone more HP (for example).

Edit: @Valien:
The 5 minute work day is only an issue if the group makes it an issue.  If your group really wants to rest after fighting 4 kobolds....I guess that is their right.  But things will happen during that time.  The world doesn't pause when the PCs are resting.  I don't mean it has to be creatures attacking during the night (though that could certainly happen, especially if there were monsters in the area).  It could also be plot related things: the monsters are able to complete their plans, the prisoners are sacrificed, the ritual is completed, the town is destroyed, etc.

Also remember that the party doesn't actually NEED the wizard's big spells.  How do I know?  Because you can play without a wizard and do just fine!  Don't believe me?  Try it out. 

The player of the wizard can certainly cast all his spells on the first fight and then demand to rest.  But the rest of the party is also free to respond, "No, are you serious!  The orcs are going to kill the princess if we don't stop them in time!  Put your dumb book away or we are leaving you here!  We told you not to cast your spells in the first place!  It was just a handful of orcs; we could have handled them easily!  Now come on, and you better not slow us down!"
 
The fighters can't fight 100 fights a day because they run out of HP and healing resources.  The fact that to use their powers they need to be in melee means they are subject to more damage.  This is what creates the balance.  This is what created the balance in former editions and made a highly successful game that has survived decades.
Actually I feel as though the number of encounters per day in entirely in the purvew of the dungeon master, as it is one of their primary resposibilities in running the game. Also the only conceveable locations to have 100+ encounters in a single day would be in some sort of metropolis sized city where the majority of these encounters will consist of role play and talking to absolutly everybody. Another thing to make note of is that in no way is it garonteed that there will even be any encounters in a given local, actually a lack of encounters can build tension or just aid in speeding along exploration in order for the DM to have the players reach a particular area. Honestly Ifeel as though the five minute workday started when TSR removed the treasure=XP in 2ed and slaying monsters became the primary means of accumulating levels(outside of ad-hoc xp rewards). Granted the five minute workday still existed prior to 2ed but instead of the mage blowing all their spells and demanding to rest, it was "avoid combat as much as possible find a sizable treasure and retreat to the surface split the loot(i.e XP) then rinse and repeat" Thus if DDN was to return to the treasure as XP model and magic-users remained as is we could end up with 10 minute workdays!
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />How do you balance a class with limited power resources (Wizard) with a class with limitless power resources (Fighter)?



How about...you don't, because they're not in direct competition with each other, and therefore don't need to be 'balanced' so that each one performs equally well in combat?

I prefer the idea that the classes are all specialists in their own field, and that if anyone fights a fighter on his own terms (i.e. in a one-on-one duel allowing him the use of all weapons), then the fighter wins every time, but if a fighter goes up against a rogue in the middle of a dark labyrinth that he's had time to pre-prepare, the rogue should win. If a wizard finds himself in melee with a fighter, having not pre-prepared protection spells, the fighter should make mincemeat of him. But if the fighter is daft enough to attack a wizard who has had time to prepare, then the fighter should be obliterated.

Fighters should be the best in melee combat because it's what they do. If a rogue can perform just as well, what's the point of having a fighter?
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />How do you balance a class with limited power resources (Wizard) with a class with limitless power resources (Fighter)?



How about...you don't, because they're not in direct competition with each other, and therefore don't need to be 'balanced' so that each one performs equally well in combat?

I prefer the idea that the classes are all specialists in their own field, and that if anyone fights a fighter on his own terms (i.e. in a one-on-one duel allowing him the use of all weapons), then the fighter wins every time, but if a fighter goes up against a rogue in the middle of a dark labyrinth that he's had time to pre-prepare, the rogue should win. If a wizard finds himself in melee with a fighter, having not pre-prepared protection spells, the fighter should make mincemeat of him. But if the fighter is daft enough to attack a wizard who has had time to prepare, then the fighter should be obliterated.

Fighters should be the best in melee combat because it's what they do. If a rogue can perform just as well, what's the point of having a fighter?



Would it actually hurt you if each character class did something meaningful in combat encounters? Do we really want the wizard to destroy X number of encounters per day leading up to higher levels where they do it every encounter? Do we want the fighter to be the best choice at lower level and the wizard at higher level?

Think of this independent of your group. Think of it for all of D&D. If your group can have fun sitting around playing poker, then you may need to find a group that can give you some perspective...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Simple Solution: let the spellcasters spend short-rest hitdice to replenish lost spell-levels somehow.
Simple Solution: let the spellcasters spend short-rest hitdice to replenish lost spell-levels somehow.



I could live with that.

Also, making the spell recovery partial - part per rest - distinguishes between an emergency short rest to let the mages (Wizards, Clerics, etcetera) prepare a vital spell, versus a longer time when heroes find a temporarily refuge (or a defensible location) to allow the mages to prepare more spells - even upto full.

This is both “realistic” and allows the gaming interest of managing longterm resources.

Most importantly, it ends the problem of the 5-minute rest once and for all, and allows the heroes to press on when the story requires a busy day.



Depending on how many spells mages get at higher level, either let the mage recover 1d6 spells per short rest. Or else just one spell per rest. (Ignore spell level, so high level adventures can continue to use the same simple mechanic.) The mages will at least be able to prepare their highest level spell, or the one that is most situationally useful.

This short rest is in addition to the short rest required for hit-point recovery. It would be nice if other classes also have ways to get something useful during this short rest, such as sharpening swords, repairing armor, giving henchmen a morale boost, monks doing yoga-esque meditations, or whatever.
Depending on how many spells mages get at higher level, either let the mage recover 1d6 spells per short rest. Or else just one spell per rest. (Ignore spell level, so high level adventures can continue to use the same simple mechanic.) The mages will at least be able to prepare their highest level spell, or the one that is most situationally useful.

Or, just roll the hitdice and get back that many total spell levels.

A high level wizard or rolling several d6s (or d4s or whatver they finally decide for Wizard, or a cleric rolling several d8s) more than likely will get his best spell back.

There might need to be some math tweaks, seeing as it's going to be full recharge at low levels pretty much all the time - if that's even a problem.
Maybe. But. The high-level mage needs the high-level spell for gaming balance. Taking longer to recover gaming balance just interferes with the game, and may actually cause a reversion to the problem of the 5-minute workday.
Simple Solution: let the spellcasters spend short-rest hitdice to replenish lost spell-levels somehow.



I could live with that.

Also, making the spell recovery partial - part per rest - distinguishes between an emergency short rest to let the mages (Wizards, Clerics, etcetera) prepare a vital spell, versus a longer time when heroes find a temporarily refuge (or a defensible location) to allow the mages to prepare more spells - even upto full.

This is both “realistic” and allows the gaming interest of managing longterm resources.

Most importantly, it ends the problem of the 5-minute rest once and for all, and allows the heroes to press on when the story requires a busy day.



Depending on how many spells mages get at higher level, either let the mage recover 1d6 spells per short rest. Or else just one spell per rest. (Ignore spell level, so high level adventures can continue to use the same simple mechanic.) The mages will at least be able to prepare their highest level spell, or the one that is most situationally useful.

This short rest is in addition to the short rest required for hit-point recovery. It would be nice if other classes also have ways to get something useful during this short rest, such as sharpening swords, repairing armor, giving henchmen a morale boost, monks doing yoga-esque meditations, or whatever.


I have no problem with Vancian magic. I actually like it. However, I'd still love to see this as a module.

I'd also like a second module where instead each individual spell cast has a random chance of 'recharging'. Part of the fun of a caster in my eyes is having to make do with the spells you've got, and this would keep things interesting like that. Not sure how I'll justify it for non-sorcerers yet, but it'd be fun.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Would it actually hurt you if each character class did something meaningful in combat encounters?



I don't see why we need a "balancing mechanic" to do that. Wizards get free cantrips, so at least they can continue doing what they do and don't have to resort to crossbows. Why is this not enough?

Do we really want the wizard to destroy X number of encounters per day leading up to higher levels where they do it every encounter?



No, and this never happened in earlier editions either. Wizard's spells were powerful, yes, and could do some damage, but I don't think a wizard has ever been able to obliterate an entire group of enemies on his own. But then, this is back in the day when enemies were actually challenging (none of this "minions with 1hp" crap).

Also, on a side-note, I really think they should get rid of this "Per Encounter" mentality. I don't think D&D was ever about measuring your progress "per encounter".

Do we want the fighter to be the best choice at lower level and the wizard at higher level?



Actually, yes. To me, this is one of the trade-offs of choosing the wizard class.
Everything expressed in this post is my opinion, and should be taken as such. I can not declare myself to be the supreme authority on all matters...even though I am right!
My primary problem with Vancian magic is the flavor of it.

Slots = Each spell of a level has the same power, costs the same energy.
As a result, you cannot do dramatic stuff like a young wizard using his whole energy in one strike, killing a bunch of persuers with a single burst of uncontrolled energy, harming himself both physically and in mind (well, a DM can choose to do so of course but a mana point system would support that way better)
And now, think about Sorcerors who have their magic in their blood. If they are out on low level slots but not on high level slots, they need to use high level slots to power low level spells. Why? Do their spells increase in cost? Because they get tired? No, they can still cast more powerfull high level spells.
Then, think of signature spells. Sometimes I want to play a wizard who has one signature spell, let's say a lance of flame, that he prefers to cast. That he casts as his primary spell of damage. He can do so with a cantrip or low level spell but he won't be effective doing so. Why? Isn't that how it would work in a movie or book? Yeah, we got metamagic but come on, not effective.

With mana points, one could customize his spells, add properties like more power, longer duration, other augmentations like in psionic spells or even handicaps - double your casting time to save on mana points.
I'd go even farther and declare spells to be utilities of an inherent power - the "spells" are how you usually cast a spell but if you want, you can do more tough learned spells are far easier (example: one is a fire mage with an inherent power of fire and some additional stuff like basic power of other magics. He usually casts "spells" like Fireball or Shield of Fire but if he wants to, he could controll a flame like a puppet for some kind of show. If he wants to do this on a regular base, he should develop a spell, something like "Fire Theater" in this example)
(my basic idea of magic is that spells are the applications of sciences of magic - a scientist uses applications of his field of science but he can easily develop new ones as long as they belong to his field and he can dabble in other fields, especially related ones)

Look, some people like Vancian casting, some people hate it, and some people don't much care. I think the best solution is to include classes with several different casting styles, so everyone has a chance to do what they want. I hope that is the route they take; it seems like they are at least considering it.


Sounds nice but also like a lot of work and some difficult balancing... hmm...
Any extreme example can make rules look bad. The OPs scenario of 100 combats in a day where the first one exhausts all of a wizards spells, guess what, thats a completely ridiculous adventure setup and thus pointless as a criticism against Vancian casting. As pointless as complaining a level 1 char cant kill an adult red dragon.


Yeah, that 100 combats (or 288) is way to much. Still, 4 is way to low.
(...)
How do you balance a class with limited power resources (Wizard) with a class with limitless power resources (Fighter)? The obvious answer is: you make the Wizard's limited power resources stronger/better than the Fighter's limitless power resources.
(...)
This leads to the 5MWD problem. What is stopping the Wizard to unload all of his big guns early on, and then everybody needs to go to hear a bedtime story, because no one dares adventure without the all-mighty caster to back them up?
 (...)


Exactly. We all heard about the Tiers of 3.5e classes with that "fighters are linear, wizards are exponential" business which sucks.
Simple Solution: let the spellcasters spend short-rest hitdice to replenish lost spell-levels somehow.


Good idea if Vancian casting is kept.
I'd like to see them just get to make their 4 lower level spells slots at-will when they hit a high enough level. Since spells won't scale in power, it would be the equivalent of having magic missile at lower levels. Here's my suggested progression:

convert to at-will
spell     character
level     level
1          9
2          11
3          13
4          15
5          17
6          19
7          21

They could come up with a progression of their own. Maybe doing 1 first level spell slot at level 6, then the next at 7, then the next at 8, then next at 9. So that by ninth level they have 4 1st level at-will spells...
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.

I also strongly dislike Vancian magic.


However, it has the extremely nice advantage of being very simple to understand.  I don't believe you can really replace it until you come up with something that is equally as simple.  So far, most options tend to end up being more complex.


I agree that ultimately the problem is how do you make it just as fun to play a guy who never runs out "sword" with a guy who can explode a mountain - but only once, every now and again?  It's not a simple call.



(As for the comment about a high-level wizard from previous editions not being able to destroy an entire enounter on his own...  I wouldn't use the word "never" to describe that.  It's certainly possible and I've seen it done.)

Could always use a mana pool with each first level spell costing x mana, each spell using a 2nd level slot costing y mana, etc.
Forgot to mention - you'd recover so much mana during a short rest, all of it with an extended rest.
Well, I think there's a very good point to Daily Abilities.  People DO have limits.  That's just being realistic.  The idea that the Fighter can swing his sword just as effectively for 8 bloody hours is insane....yet almost everyone thinks this should be the case.

I like that 2nd level Fighters get a 2/day ability.  I think the way to handle this stuff is to make sure everyone has some.  Then make resting anytime a little silly and difficult and make sure everyone has a decent and effective baseline (which is an acceptable break).  The game looks to be heading in that direction with at-will cantrips that are fairly effective.

I said this in another thread, but how many times per day can a mother lift a car off her child?  It certainly isn't all day.  That sort of rush of hormones and strength is very draining.  Even twice a day might be pushing it.  So daily limits on some abilities make a LOT of sense.  You can't always function at your peak of awesomeness.

I like the Cleric system.  Nice and flexible, largely, if you have decent spell lists.  Might need to mess with the numbers of spells per day a bit.  Wizards?  Not a big fan of the prepare spells then lose them when cast.  I'd rather "prepare from a list, then spontaneously cast from the prepared list."  Also, I'd like to see spells that have almost no combat use allowed as rituals and the primary cost for rituals being space and time, not gold (which is not a decent balancing factor).  So no need to prepare comprehend languages, as an example, unless you are headed into a tricky language/diplomatic situation where speed matters.  That would be as it should be, imho.

I really don't like when limited combat resources are mixed in with limited utility or social resources.  It tends to affect both aspects of the game negatively.


Most importantly, it ends the problem of the 5-minute rest once and for all, and allows the heroes to press on when the story requires a busy day.



Depending on how many spells mages get at higher level, either let the mage recover 1d6 spells per short rest. Or else just one spell per rest. (Ignore spell level, so high level adventures can continue to use the same simple mechanic.) The mages will at least be able to prepare their highest level spell, or the one that is most situationally useful.



It's interesting you propose something like that. I'd really prefer they keep the old 1e-2e system. You needed both a minimum rest period depending on the spell level (2 hours for 0-1 level, 18 hours for 8-9 level) and a certain period to actually prepare the spell (15min/lvl in 1e and 10 min/lvl in 2e). As a practical matter spells of 6-9th level were once per adventure except in extreme emergencies, and even 4-5th level spells were only really daily if that was the only spell you prepared that day and cost you the opportunity to prepare lower level spells. I think the preparation time actually given in the playtest is far too short. I do like the idea, which we haven't seen yet, that you have to trade in multiple lower level spell slots for higher level spell slots.

I also have to say that unless there was one perfect spell, I've never been in a 1-2e group that stopped or waited because of the casters. If your out of spells, either use the short range version of spiritual hammer or cast lesser magic missle with your crossbow.  That's also been true in my playtest group. Nobody, including the three casters ourselves, cares whether or not we still have leveled spells, If at wills all you have, so be it.

Overall, I'm a big fan of Vancian ( and the DDN neo-Vancian for that matter), not for any simulation or tradition reasons, it's just a more complicated decision making process and I like that. I'm all for the inclusion of other mechanics in the context of other casters. For myself, I'd only play an encounter (or Short Rest) based system if it was somthing like the PHB3 power point system. If it's just fixed encounter powers, it wouldn't be the class for me. I don't like that kind of decision making.
My primary problem with Vancian magic is the flavor of it.

Slots = Each spell of a level has the same power, costs the same energy.
As a result, you cannot do dramatic stuff like a young wizard using his whole energy in one strike, killing a bunch of persuers with a single burst of uncontrolled energy, harming himself both physically and in mind (well, a DM can choose to do so of course but a mana point system would support that way better)
And now, think about Sorcerors who have their magic in their blood. If they are out on low level slots but not on high level slots, they need to use high level slots to power low level spells. Why? Do their spells increase in cost? Because they get tired? No, they can still cast more powerfull high level spells.
Then, think of signature spells. Sometimes I want to play a wizard who has one signature spell, let's say a lance of flame, that he prefers to cast. That he casts as his primary spell of damage. He can do so with a cantrip or low level spell but he won't be effective doing so. Why? Isn't that how it would work in a movie or book? Yeah, we got metamagic but come on, not effective.

With mana points, one could customize his spells, add properties like more power, longer duration, other augmentations like in psionic spells or even handicaps - double your casting time to save on mana points.
I'd go even farther and declare spells to be utilities of an inherent power - the "spells" are how you usually cast a spell but if you want, you can do more tough learned spells are far easier (example: one is a fire mage with an inherent power of fire and some additional stuff like basic power of other magics. He usually casts "spells" like Fireball or Shield of Fire but if he wants to, he could controll a flame like a puppet for some kind of show. If he wants to do this on a regular base, he should develop a spell, something like "Fire Theater" in this example)
(my basic idea of magic is that spells are the applications of sciences of magic - a scientist uses applications of his field of science but he can easily develop new ones as long as they belong to his field and he can dabble in other fields, especially related ones)


These are some pretty good ideas. Many of them could be made to work with Vancian magic as well, though others might require full-on modules. There are some old feats that can do similar things and could be adapted, or converted into class features. 'Overcasting' is an idea I'm quite fond of, and it has been done well in systems like Shadowrun. A related concept (also present in Shadowrun) is casting fatigue, the idea that spell casting takes an actual physical toll on your body. I'd like to see multiple modules based on this, both adapting overcasting to Vancian magic, and full-on using casting drain replacing slots as the limiting factor.

Mana point systems are also nice, at least in theory. Getting them to work well is much harder. 3.x's Unearthed Arcana included a variant to convert the Vancian System to it, but it came with a problem: There was hardly any incentive for some people to cast low-level spells now that you weren't forced to. This makes the '5-minute workday' and 'wizard stealing the spotlight with big spells' problems much more prominant, and potentially an issue even if you normally don't have it. This is not just because of players who always want to use their biggest gun, but also because it's simply harder to judge how to manage than Vancian magic. It also makes casters more versatile, by removing one of their limiters, and thius more powerful in general. If a mana point system without such problems could be made, I'd welcome it as a module as well.

Well, I think there's a very good point to Daily Abilities.  People DO have limits.  That's just being realistic.  The idea that the Fighter can swing his sword just as effectively for 8 bloody hours is insane....yet almost everyone thinks this should be the case.

I like that 2nd level Fighters get a 2/day ability.  I think the way to handle this stuff is to make sure everyone has some.  Then make resting anytime a little silly and difficult and make sure everyone has a decent and effective baseline (which is an acceptable break).  The game looks to be heading in that direction with at-will cantrips that are fairly effective.

I said this in another thread, but how many times per day can a mother lift a car off her child?  It certainly isn't all day.  That sort of rush of hormones and strength is very draining.  Even twice a day might be pushing it.  So daily limits on some abilities make a LOT of sense.  You can't always function at your peak of awesomeness.


The problem isn't so much that people think it's unrealistic for a Fighter to ever get tired, but that it's unrealistic for them to be able to pick and choose when their adrenaline rush hits, and that the in-game effects do not in any rational way reflect an adrenaline rush.

HP is supposed to be the representation of a Fighter's endurance, just like anyone else, and a realistic combat fatigue system should probably be linked to that. (That actually might be an interesting module... Fighters gaining bonuses at the cost of HP? Might be like the spell fatigue!) But in general, the system of combat fatigue is highly abstracted. Losing HP in a fight doesn't always mean getting hit; it also represents being worn down. This could be made more realistic, but the general consensus from most people I've talked to is that the "Bloodied" condition was more trouble than it was worth.

As for the concievable idea that one could psychologically trigger themselves into a kind of overdrive for a short time, but be fatigued by it, that's pretty much what Barbarian Rage is. Part of what sets a Fighter apart is the idea that they are steady, ready warriors instead.

I like the Cleric system.  Nice and flexible, largely, if you have decent spell lists.  Might need to mess with the numbers of spells per day a bit.  Wizards?  Not a big fan of the prepare spells then lose them when cast.  I'd rather "prepare from a list, then spontaneously cast from the prepared list." 


This used to be one of the big distinctions between Wizards and Sorcerers. Both cast from more-or-less the same spell list, but one had a to prepare from a broad set of fire-and-forget spells, while the other had a limited list of 'as long as you have slots left, you can keep casting it' spells. Personally, I love different classes playing mechanically differently. Playing a wizard isn't just about being a character that casts spells, it's also about creative use of limited, but powerful resources, and learning to make do with being very, very squishy.


Also, I'd like to see spells that have almost no combat use allowed as rituals and the primary cost for rituals being space and time, not gold (which is not a decent balancing factor).  So no need to prepare comprehend languages, as an example, unless you are headed into a tricky language/diplomatic situation where speed matters.  That would be as it should be, imho.

I really don't like when limited combat resources are mixed in with limited utility or social resources.  It tends to affect both aspects of the game negatively.


This looks to be the direction they are headed. I'm on board with it.
The problem isn't so much that people think it's unrealistic for a Fighter to ever get tired, but that it's unrealistic for them to be able to pick and choose when their adrenaline rush hits, and that the in-game effects do not in any rational way reflect an adrenaline rush.

HP is supposed to be the representation of a Fighter's endurance, just like anyone else, and a realistic combat fatigue system should probably be linked to that. (That actually might be an interesting module... Fighters gaining bonuses at the cost of HP? Might be like the spell fatigue!) But in general, the system of combat fatigue is highly abstracted. Losing HP in a fight doesn't always mean getting hit; it also represents being worn down. This could be made more realistic, but the general consensus from most people I've talked to is that the "Bloodied" condition was more trouble than it was worth.

As for the concievable idea that one could psychologically trigger themselves into a kind of overdrive for a short time, but be fatigued by it, that's pretty much what Barbarian Rage is. Part of what sets a Fighter apart is the idea that they are steady, ready warriors instead.



Who says the fighter is picking?  The PLAYER is picking.  That's a significant distinction.

It has to be abstract to some degree, and as you indicate, I don't see someone coming up with much of anything better.  Abilities costing hit points would be far too costly and mess with multi-classing potentially.

I like the Cleric system.  Nice and flexible, largely, if you have decent spell lists.  Might need to mess with the numbers of spells per day a bit.  Wizards?  Not a big fan of the prepare spells then lose them when cast.  I'd rather "prepare from a list, then spontaneously cast from the prepared list." 


This used to be one of the big distinctions between Wizards and Sorcerers. Both cast from more-or-less the same spell list, but one had a to prepare from a broad set of fire-and-forget spells, while the other had a limited list of 'as long as you have slots left, you can keep casting it' spells. Personally, I love different classes playing mechanically differently. Playing a wizard isn't just about being a character that casts spells, it's also about creative use of limited, but powerful resources, and learning to make do with being very, very squishy.



You could still have a significant difference.  I don't know, I'll see how it continues to playtest.  Part of it might be the very limited total number of spells and the game doesn't seem that clear on how new spells are learned.  Part of it might also be how non-combat spells are mixed in there.  The latter definitely hurt the wizard player in our first session.


Also, I'd like to see spells that have almost no combat use allowed as rituals and the primary cost for rituals being space and time, not gold (which is not a decent balancing factor).  So no need to prepare comprehend languages, as an example, unless you are headed into a tricky language/diplomatic situation where speed matters.  That would be as it should be, imho.

I really don't like when limited combat resources are mixed in with limited utility or social resources.  It tends to affect both aspects of the game negatively.


This looks to be the direction they are headed. I'm on board with it.



Well, let's hope.  Comprehend Languages didn't have a ritual version in the playtest.  Right now rituals cost money.  That seems like trivial component stuff for things like Alarm and the like --  though I have to admit I'm not a big fan of alarm being infallible.  A master thief, so far, has no way to get around it.
Have you ever fought for 5 minutes? That's a days work right there. I would say there are not 288 encounters in a day. every encounter has some down time in between. Resting, moving (cautious searching kind of movement), exploring, etc. If you feel so inclined to run your games minute by minute then stay in combat rounds the whole time and don't allow rests. I think you'll find that those that rely on daily powers will not be out paced by those that rely on hit points. I like the daily spells for casters. It think it creates a need for team work and strategy.

I like the Cleric system.  Nice and flexible, largely, if you have decent spell lists.  Might need to mess with the numbers of spells per day a bit.  Wizards?  Not a big fan of the prepare spells then lose them when cast.  I'd rather "prepare from a list, then spontaneously cast from the prepared list."


Reading this made me remember that part of what makes balancing Vancian casting so difficult is that you're not just comparing the wizard to the fighter, but also to the cleric.  The quote above basically says that the author likes the cleric casting system, and wishes the wizard casting system was the same.  It's worth noting that there is an important distinction between them:  cleric spells are weaker, but they are given more up-to-the-moment choice over the selection of spells.  Wizard spells are more powerful, but they risk preparing spells that are unused.  It's a fine line between the two, but it allows wizard spells to have more power due to the greater drag on their resources.


I honestly don't know if WotC is even interested in solving this problem, considering that 4.0 did it and they are moving heavily away from many of those philosophies.  Their 3.5 solution was the sorcerer, but because he was limited in spell selection so severely the entire flavor of the character was radically changed.  I personally want a wizard that is exactly like the Vancian wizard who doesn't use Vancian spells.  That's the class I want to play.



Re:  spell points, those tend to get into the "more complicated" group very quickly.  Part of the issue (with previous editions anyway) is that spells rise exponentially in power - which means it's difficult to assign fair "point" values, or ones that are simple enough to track.



Re:  comprehend languages, I agree that there needs to be a ritual option for spells like this.  It is silly to think that you need to retreat for a day just to solve a simple puzzle.

Their 3.5 solution was the sorcerer, but because he was limited in spell selection so severely the entire flavor of the character was radically changed.


The critique is spot on. I hope Next can avoid the 3e disparity between vancian Wizard and spontaneous Sorcerer.



I personally want a wizard that is exactly like the Vancian wizard who doesn't use Vancian spells.  That's the class I want to play.


Me too. I want a nonvancian Wizard.



Maybe I could live with a vancian-style Wizard if the rules once-and-for-all tear it off of the 24-hour cycle.

Allowing the Wizard to prepare a spell - whether by a short rest or by a long rest is moreorless the same thing mechanically. But the short rest allows flexibility for the storyline. If preparing a spell during a short rest, the Wizard doesnt need to leave the adventure.

Worst comes to worst, the Wizard could even prepare a spell during a combat encounter, “concentrating” on preparing a spell, while taking a defensive role in combat, while allies keep monsters away from the Wizard. This isnt too fun for the Wizard player, but on rare occasions, it can be a flavorful experience and maybe even suspenseful. 

If the Wizard can prepare one spell per short rest, and prepare all spells per 1-hour rest, I think I can work with the vancian mechanics.



The spell point (mana point) system is a good option. The power point system in the 3e Expanded Psionic Handbook shows how to balance with the vancian mechanic.

That said. I like 4e best. Atwill powers are beautiful. Encounter powers are amazing.

It occurs to me, if the vancian Wizard can prepare spells per short rest and per 1-hour rest, then there is little difference between a vancian Wizard who can prepare spells between encounters and a 4e-style Wizard who can swap Encounter and Daily spells between encounters. In other words, I probably can get into this kind of vancian Wizard.
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