Explain the Vancian thing

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OK, it seems like every third thread here devolves to an argument about Vancian casting. But frankly, there's several things I just find confusing. So I'll ask:

1) The 4e system features at-wills, encounter, and daily spells. The playtest has at-will and daily spells. Is the fuss really about whether or not you get some encounter spells? Or did anti-Vancians not like the daily spells even in 4e?

2) The wizard is billed as using Vancian casting and the people who like Vancian casters seem happy enough. Will the people who hate Vancian casting be content with a non-Vancian sorcerer? Or is even the possibility of having a Vancian caster at your table too much?

3) One concern about Vancian casting is due to the nova/5 mintute workday problem, where in principle a wizard can cast a days worth of spells in one fight and then go rest. Is that the dominant concern, or are there other issues? Just to be specific, if you kept the wizard has he was and made an arbitrary rule that you can't cast more than say 2 daily spells in a fight, would that make an anti-Vancian happier, or not?

On the same issue, how many people actually saw this happen routinely at a table? I never have, which makes me less sympathetic, but it's not always fair to generalize from your own experience.
1) I can't address this, as we don't play 4e.

2) I'd be okay with a non-Vancian Sorcerer, or a spell-point wizard, or several things.

3) I've never seen the "5-minute workday." The first time I came across the concept was in these forums. Our mages could only rest every 24 hrs, not any time they wanted to recharge spells. There was a spell called "Nap" that could crowd 8 hrs of rest into a 1-hr period, but the mages still couldn't recharge spells any more often than every 24 hrs, and we used that spell maybe once per two weeks. It wasn't a standard thing; it was a "we'd better get moving again really soon or the evil guards will be on us before we know it." Those who didn't take advantage of that Nap had only an hour's rest, and had to march on anyway. We usually let the mages rememorise just a few spells if we were in a hurry, anyway -- mostly something to keep in reserve as a "just in case."

But then, we don't have any issue with Vancian magic anyway. We have one Vancian mage in one of our campaigns, and her buddy is a spell-point mage (a home-grown system). Both have their advantages and disadvantages.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

OK, it seems like every third thread here devolves to an argument about Vancian casting. But frankly, there's several things I just find confusing. So I'll ask:

1) The 4e system features at-wills, encounter, and daily spells. The playtest has at-will and daily spells. Is the fuss really about whether or not you get some encounter spells? Or did anti-Vancians not like the daily spells even in 4e?



From an anti-Vancian p.o.v. Dailies are not great in AEDU too. However they can be acceptable because of Encounters, which bridge the gap between at-wills and dailies.    


2) The wizard is billed as using Vancian casting and the people who like Vancian casters seem happy enough. Will the people who hate Vancian casting be content with a non-Vancian sorcerer? Or is even the possibility of having a Vancian caster at your table too much?


Vancian casters should be fine as long as there are real alternative magic classes (no, the 3E Sorcerer is not), and the Vancian class is balanced (see below).


3) One concern about Vancian casting is due to the nova/5 mintute workday problem, where in principle a wizard can cast a days worth of spells in one fight and then go rest. Is that the dominant concern, or are there other issues? Just to be specific, if you kept the wizard has he was and made an arbitrary rule that you can't cast more than say 2 daily spells in a fight, would that make an anti-Vancian happier, or not?


Vancian magic poses a balance concern, because its effectiveness varies massively between all spells available / no spell left, and because of the risk of inflicting the 5MWD to everyone. Limiting the number of spells usable per encounter may feel a bit forced: it may be better to use Encounters powers then, but it would be a good point to start discussing.
 

On the same issue, how many people actually saw this happen routinely at a table? I never have, which makes me less sympathetic, but it's not always fair to generalize from your own experience.



In my experience I've seen this happening at low-medium level. At high level the vancian casters were so powerful and had so many spells they didn't even need to bother with resting.
But regardless of its actual occurence, the traditional vancian magic model promotes distorsive behaviours from the players and is prone to balancing issues. So, for keeping it as part of the core, it would be advisable to revise it.    

1) Anti-vancians usually don't acknowledge every class in 4e had vancian Powers.  Personally, once I had a couple Utility Powers I retrained them all to the more powerful Vancian Utility Powers. 

There's more to classic vancian spellcasting than fire and forget.  It also included picking which spells to memorize or in the case of clerics, which spells not to turn into healing spells.  Some even lump the wizards awful to amazing progression from 1st to 20th level as vancian spellcasting's fault.

I have enjoyed playing vancian wizards, definately my go-to class.  I didn't think 4e ever pulled the trigger to kill vancian casting - seriously, they made it part of the core mechanic for every class.  I think 4e just kind of hit vancian spellcasting in the back of the head but never pulled the trigger.  I was hoping 5th would take it further and make a combat (read Encounter) spellcasting system, but that's not what they are going to do.  So I will probably continue to enjoy playing vancian wizards.

2) If having a vancian caster at your table is too much, I can only suggest other fantasy RPGs. 

What I think WotC should do is lump the arcane spellcasters into a group called Wizards, like in 2nd edition.  Now everyone is a wizard, yay.  Then have different classes, Mage for the vancian caster for example or something else for non-vancian caster, which contain different spellcasting subsystems.  And finally, give Themes evocative names like Illusionist, Necromancer, Conjurer, etc.  So any wizard class can take them.

3) For me, vancian spellcasting is the balance to spells being so powerful.  The 5 minute workday is a self imposed issue.  Minor spells as At-Wills covers the wizard that doesn't want to use a crossbow.  You just have to spread out your spells.  You just have to drag the wizard through the dungeon with no spells if they want to show-off in the first encounter.  In 4e terminology, it would be like saying you want Daily Spells to be At-Wills. 

My favorite 2nd edition wizard threw A LOT of darts in his career.  That was never an issue for me.
I find that the spell-slot system is called Vancian amusing at best.

I have personally disliked fire and forget as long as I have played as it never seemed to match the feel of the fiction I read.

But on to your actual questions...

1. The argument against daily spells is fairly solid even amongst those who liked 4E, encounter spells, that were arguably prep prepared between encounters assauged some rage. At least a daily power was Daily, rather than having a prep time that you can't fulfill unless you just finished a full night's rest. 

2. The spell slot system has enough supporters that it's inclusion is meritorious in my book. My tastes are not universal and I'm fine with that version existing. Mushrooms don't ruin the salad bar for me. However, if that is all that they offer for magic-users, I'll be a sad marsupial.

3. My big issue is that the system seems unispired to me. A spell prep system that allowed re-prepping whenever you had time would be fine by me. I prefer, thematically, fatigue and spell casting time, rather than rapid fire magics myself... especially for those casting incantations. In short, if fails both in out of game pacing and in game verisimilitude for me.
Creating an additional, arbitrary, limitation would not make me like the spell-slot/day system anymore... if possible, I would find it even more offensive. 

4. ish... Seen it happen constantly. I've even been the perpetrator at times. I felt entirely justified as we were all about to die, but that's more DMing style (or that group's inability to scout or listen to simple advice) than anything else. 
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
Thanks for the comments. Regarding the need to prep spells: that seems pretty trivial. Would a rule that you could just keep yesterday's spells without preparing them be satisfactory?


Vancian casters should be fine as long as there are real alternative magic classes (no, the 3E Sorcerer is not)


I understand that the 3E sorcerer would not be satisfying.


In my experience I've seen this happening at low-medium level. At high level the vancian casters were so powerful and had so many spells they didn't even need to bother with resting.


This problem would seem to be one of balance then, independent of the Vancian issue.


But regardless of its actual occurence, the traditional vancian magic model promotes distorsive behaviours from the players and is prone to balancing issues. So, for keeping it as part of the core, it would be advisable to revise it.    


I think I disagree here, I don't care too much about theoretical problems. But that's just my opinion, I don't mind if others feel differently.
Thanks for the comments. Regarding the need to prep spells: that seems pretty trivial. Would a rule that you could just keep yesterday's spells without preparing them be satisfactory?



I personally don't have an issue with spells praparation. The main issue with the vancian system to me is that it uses 'game time' (day) as a measure of power. But game time is irrelevant, since a 'day' can last several session or 1 second. I don't like mana points recharge over time for what matters too.
Ideally I'd like a system which is either based on table time (turns, encounters...) or game events (milestones, achievements...).

But since I understand there is a significant part of the community who likes the traditional model, I can see the reasons to try and make it viable along with other options.
What if the theme "Magic User" grant you some per encounter spells, just like allready grant you at-will?? Seriously, When I read "The spy who fireball me" that's the thing that I tought. All the isues with vancian and AEDU it's at any point meaningless because as we see, we have at-will, vacian dailies (very much versatile than a daily power chosen per level not per day) and utility rituals. Only encounter powers aren't avaible and we don't know if some theme or class features grant you some.

The cleric working like sorcerers looks great, and if they turn Channel divinity into a encounter power, there's be awesome.

If we have sorcerers, warlocks and witches with some flavor and not just another wizard, D&DN will accomplish a great magic sistem.

1) Anti-vancians usually don't acknowledge every class in 4e had vancian Powers.  Personally, once I had a couple Utility Powers I retrained them all to the more powerful Vancian Utility Powers. 

There's more to classic vancian spellcasting than fire and forget.  It also included picking which spells to memorize or in the case of clerics, which spells not to turn into healing spells.  Some even lump the wizards awful to amazing progression from 1st to 20th level as vancian spellcasting's fault.



Yeah, to most people, Vancian means more than just having daily spells. It also means having an ever increasing number of spells from ever higher spell levels. 4e daily powers capped out at a specific number and players simply replaced some powers with others as they gained levels.

So, while the designers have said that they want to restrain the power of spell casters in 5e, they are continuing to give wizards (and clerics) a large number of spells and while combat-related spells may be limited by the amount of damage they inflict or HP caps for effectiveness, there is going to be a fairly large number of utility spells that players can memorize in the lower level spell slots. This gives the wizard an ever increasing access to spells.
1) The 4e system features at-wills, encounter, and daily spells. The playtest has at-will and daily spells. Is the fuss really about whether or not you get some encounter spells? Or did anti-Vancians not like the daily spells even in 4e?



Not anti-Vancian, so I can't say.

2) The wizard is billed as using Vancian casting and the people who like Vancian casters seem happy enough. Will the people who hate Vancian casting be content with a non-Vancian sorcerer? Or is even the possibility of having a Vancian caster at your table too much?



See above.

3) One concern about Vancian casting is due to the nova/5 mintute workday problem, where in principle a wizard can cast a days worth of spells in one fight and then go rest. Is that the dominant concern, or are there other issues? Just to be specific, if you kept the wizard has he was and made an arbitrary rule that you can't cast more than say 2 daily spells in a fight, would that make an anti-Vancian happier, or not?



Only ever saw this on very rare occasions where an encounter I designed was more lethal than expected.  PCs are only allowed to rest for spells once in a 24 hour period, but I have occasionally seen players suggest resting for 32 hours to avoid this restriction.  My way of stopping such abuses was to often have timed events that occured unless the PCs were actively in place to stop them.  For instance, in the 4e module Keep on the Shadowfell, I would put a time limit on the PCs in a Vancian world.  If they fail to disrupt Kalarel's ritual within say 48 hours after entering the dungeons beneath the keep, Kalarel is successful and the PCs fail at their quest.

On the same issue, how many people actually saw this happen routinely at a table? I never have, which makes me less sympathetic, but it's not always fair to generalize from your own experience.



Answered above.  I am not sympathetic at all to the issue of the Nova/5 Minute Workday.

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Yeah, to most people, Vancian means more than just having daily spells. It also means having an ever increasing number of spells from ever higher spell levels.


That is an interesting comment. Do many people agree? I would not have called that an issue with the Vancian system, I would say that's just giving a wizard too many (and too powerful) spells. This would be a problem in and AEDU system, a power point system, or really any system, I think.

Or perhaps you just mean that people use the term Vancian for what they see as the unbalanced system of older editions? So you wouldn't mind a daily slot system, as long as the number and power of the spells were well controlled?
Only encounter powers aren't avaible and we don't know if some theme or class features grant you some.



Good point. And it's not clear why (other then: Encounters were introduced in 4E so they must be 'wrong'). The playtest even gives a Daily to the fighter, which is frankly disheartening.
Encounters work well, are fun, and help keeping things varied and balanced overall. This alone would go a long way for making D&DN an appealing proposition.

Yeah, to most people, Vancian means more than just having daily spells. It also means having an ever increasing number of spells from ever higher spell levels.


That is an interesting comment. Do many people agree? I would not have called that an issue with the Vancian system, I would say that's just giving a wizard too many (and too powerful) spells. This would be a problem in and AEDU system, a power point system, or really any system, I think.

I don't see spell numbers or power as a function of Vancian-style casting. To me, "Vancian" means how you memorise and cast, not what or how many you can memorise.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

"Vancian" is a proxy for a larger issue, one of resource management systems in class structures.

There's a contingent that wants to have magical classes have to manage resources, but have non-magical classes not have to manage resources. 

There's a contingent that wants everyone to have to manage resources.
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I've heard the argument that only casters have to manage resources. But if you go "by the book," so do archers -- they don't have infinite arrows. And melee fighters could use Fatigue as a resource to manage so they can't be allowed to swing the sword for six hours without a rest. (Ever tried it? I watched a one-on-one sword combat that lasted 1.25 hrs, and they were completely flattened at the end of it.) I guess it's a question of how detailed or "realistic" one wants to be.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

I don't see spell numbers or power as a function of Vancian-style casting. To me, "Vancian" means how you memorise and cast, not what or how many you can memorise.



So, for you, "Vancian" is purely a fluff component (ie. partially completing complex rituals during spell memorization so that they are on the tip of your mind waiting for you to complete those rituals).

So, for you, a system where a wizard only has five spell slots ever that he then fills with every higher level spells would count as a "Vancian" system?

If that's so, then I'm sure there are ways where the same system could satisfy both you and me.
I've heard the argument that only casters have to manage resources. But if you go "by the book," so do archers -- they don't have infinite arrows. And melee fighters could use Fatigue as a resource to manage so they can't be allowed to swing the sword for six hours without a rest. (Ever tried it? I watched a one-on-one sword combat that lasted 1.25 hrs, and they were completely flattened at the end of it.) I guess it's a question of how detailed or "realistic" one wants to be.

Fighters tended to do the most HP resource management. 

Well, if you consider, "Heal me cleric!" as resource management.
There is a vancian sweet spot.  Where you have enough spells to cast a few each fight.  Where you have a wand of something that you can pretty much use at-will.  Some of your spells are weaksauce and some are awesomesauce. 

The entire level based balance of wizards, that they are so weak and useless at low level and so ridiculously overpowered at high levels is the problem that needs to be addressed.  I'll argue there is a campaign spanning balance in it, but it's just not a good form of balance.  Give me a sweetspot vancian caster, please.
"Vancian" is a proxy for a larger issue, one of resource management systems in class structures.

There's a contingent that wants to have magical classes have to manage resources, but have non-magical classes not have to manage resources. 

There's a contingent that wants everyone to have to manage resources.


That is helpful. As you express it, it sounds like most people would be more or less happy if there were some magical classes of either type, and some non-magical ones of either type?
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />So, for you, a system where a wizard only has five spell slots ever that he then fills with every higher level spells would count as a "Vancian" system?

If that's so, then I'm sure there are ways where the same system could satisfy both you and me.


These would be daily slots with prepared spells? I would also have called that Vancian, myself.
I suppose that's not an inaccurate summation. I've also used a spell-point system, where all the mage's spells are available, and resource management becomes management of spell points per day (though they can regenerate very slowly without resting, like a few per hour) rather than memorised spells per day. I'm pretty flexible.

The "fills with ever higher level spells" concerns me. Sometimes I'd want a lower-level spell to do something subtle. If that's also possible, I think there ARE ways the system could work for both of us.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

To me Vancian is a multipart issue

1) Management. Some want only certain classes to actively manage resources. Some want all classes to. Others want no classes to.

2) Current Power. Vancian spell slots is one where a character can completely run out of power. Some like that. Others don't and prefer the caster to have a backup magic to keep them going, either as fluff or balance.

3) Then there is the fact that Vancian doesn't. match up with many external perceptions of a spellcasters. Very very few spellcasters do anything similar to Vancian in other media.

4) Then there are the balance issues if Vancian is written poorly by the book or managed poorly by the DM. 5MW has to be actively stopped by the players or DMs.

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I suppose that's not an inaccurate summation. I've also used a spell-point system, where all the mage's spells are available, and resource management becomes management of spell points per day (though they can regenerate very slowly without resting, like a few per hour) rather than memorised spells per day. I'm pretty flexible.

The "fills with ever higher level spells" concerns me. Sometimes I'd want a lower-level spell to do something subtle. If that's also possible, I think there ARE ways the system could work for both of us.



you could even go for a complex vancian/spell-point hybrid.

you would have spell-points that you could use to cast any spell you know, making you very versityle and able to cope with changing situations.

but you could also use spell points to prepare spells at the start of the day, the disadvantage of this would be that you are less versitile becouse you lock down those spell points, unable to change the spell choice later.
but this would be compensated with preparing a spell costing less spell points then casting a spell without preparing it.

 
For me, Vancian is spell slots.  I find 4e Dailies to be Vancian in style, but the existence of encounters and at-wills reduces the problems of Vancian casting (notably the 5-minute workday)

I don't think the quadratic increase in spell capacity as a defining characteristic of Vancian magic.  I don't think spell memorization is a defining characteristic of Vancian spellcasting.  If a wizard gets eight spell slots regardless of level, and can't memorize more than two spells in his highest spell slot, and no more than four in his second-to-highest spell slot, is still a Vancian caster as far as I am concerned.  A sorcerer who gets the same spell slots, but can cast his spells spontaneously is still a Vancian caster in my book.

A non-Vancian caster is a caster who is not based on spell slots.  The power point systems of prior edition psionics is not Vancian.

4e's AEDU was a hybrid of Vancian and non-Vancian.  Dailies were Vancian.  Encounters, less so.  At-Wills not at all.

Others have differing opinions of what Vancian means.
The problems with vancian casting are many:


  1. Too many spells slots (36+ by level 20, 18 by 10)

  2. Overpowered spells

  3. Spells could do anything

Even with lower powered spells and spells that can't do anything you are still left with 1.

AEDU gave you 2-3 at-wills, 4-5 encounters, 4-5 utility, and 4-5 dailies at level 20. About half the spells of vancian. Also the spells were balanced, and they were limited in what they could do...
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Thanks for the comments. Regarding the need to prep spells: that seems pretty trivial. Would a rule that you could just keep yesterday's spells without preparing them be satisfactory?



I personally don't have an issue with spells praparation. The main issue with the vancian system to me is that it uses 'game time' (day) as a measure of power. But game time is irrelevant, since a 'day' can last several session or 1 second. I don't like mana points recharge over time for what matters too.
Ideally I'd like a system which is either based on table time (turns, encounters...) or game events (milestones, achievements...).

But since I understand there is a significant part of the community who likes the traditional model, I can see the reasons to try and make it viable along with other options.

Out of curiosity, would you support a system that revolves around an "adventure" time frame?  Like you can do X action Y times per adventure.  Would definitely disregard the 5-minute workday.
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"vancian" magic - or rather "classic D&D magic system" covers a lot of points:


  • fire and forget spells, usable only once

  • and so limited ability to use magic through the day ( I am a wizard, but only 5 minutes a day, and then no more magic...)

  • spell preparation/selection each day

  • limited spell slots

  • levelled spell slots, with big increase in power from a spell of higher level

  • "predefined",very verbous, magic spell with limited ability to "improvize" new uses

  • natural language description of spells, making them verbous and sometime very difficult to "rule" for DMs an characters (though it was sometime a solution for the previous bullet)


And so on. The importance of each point avries according to D&D edition, eventually classes, etc.


Yes, 4E was "vancian" because of the use of dailies, the limited number of powers you could have, even preparation for the wizard class, etc.


It was also an "evolution" of vancian, giving spell casters the possibility to be "magic" all day long with at-wills, encounter powers and rituals. And, yes, DDN uses non vancian ideas like at-wills.


But there are many other ways to "simulate" magic powers/spells - vancian is a very old way to do it (and a way limited to D&D and its clones), and not very satisfying for many players who like magic users.


5E may have rules for vancian spellcasting - but it needs other ways to "simulate" magic - vancian is NOT something D&D players agree to love, like all the fuss shows...


And there are many ways to build "ressource management" magic systems that are not "vancian".


The biggest problem, as I said in another thread, is that, if you want to build a character around a given concept like "studied magic all its life, a kind of scientist of magic", you should not be forced to use  Vancian magic  (make a "wizard") because the other magic-using classes are meant (and have features meant for) oter, very different concepts.


I personally prefer 4E AEDU to D&D classic "vancian magic", even if I always found AEDU lacking for magic users, and would prefer a more free form magic system. Others can have vancian, as long as I can do my "wizardy" characters without having to either chose vancian spellcasting, OR class features and abilities that are meant for spontaneous spellcaster or other "magic user concepts".



E: @JssSandals - that's the way I have been playing 4E for years, now.

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The problems with vancian casting are many:


  1. Too many spells slots (36+ by level 20, 18 by 10)

  2. Overpowered spells

  3. Spells could do anything

Even with lower powered spells and spells that can't do anything you are still left with 1.

1. Yeah.
2. Not as Dailies if you fix 1. 
3. Anything that other classes can do, is a problem.  But again not as big a problem if you fix 1.

Thanks for the comments. Regarding the need to prep spells: that seems pretty trivial. Would a rule that you could just keep yesterday's spells without preparing them be satisfactory?



I personally don't have an issue with spells praparation. The main issue with the vancian system to me is that it uses 'game time' (day) as a measure of power. But game time is irrelevant, since a 'day' can last several session or 1 second. I don't like mana points recharge over time for what matters too.
Ideally I'd like a system which is either based on table time (turns, encounters...) or game events (milestones, achievements...).

But since I understand there is a significant part of the community who likes the traditional model, I can see the reasons to try and make it viable along with other options.

Out of curiosity, would you support a system that revolves around an "adventure" time frame?  Like you can do X action Y times per adventure.  Would definitely disregard the 5-minute workday.



That may do, but it opens up the question: 'what is an adventure?'. Basically it means recovery through DM fiat, which can be ok in many cases.
But my preference, hypothetically, would be for the players actions/achivements to matter, like winning a battle, or succeding in a skill challenge, or some outstanding roleplay performance. All this would provide the characters with enough 'mojo' to pull out their greatest tricks. 

The problems with vancian casting are many:


  1. Too many spells slots (36+ by level 20, 18 by 10)

  2. Overpowered spells

  3. Spells could do anything

Even with lower powered spells and spells that can't do anything you are still left with 1.

AEDU gave you 2-3 at-wills, 4-5 encounters, 4-5 utility, and 4-5 dailies at level 20. About half the spells of vancian. Also the spells were balanced, and they were limited in what they could do...



2 and 3 have nothing to do with vancian at all.   I could create over powered spells and still use the AEDU system.  I think you're incorrectly coupling the spell casting system with the spells the gaming system provides.   

Personaly, I think the AEDU system is a poor choice for the wizard class because you can't use the same encounter or daily spell more than once.   The system really didn't give me anything that I didn't already have in previous editions.    All it did was create three tiers of spell powers, which is something I didn't like at all. 

The one thing I like about the vancian system is that you don't ever lose a spell that you learned.   Much like a musician, you can learn a huge repertoire of magical spells, which I think is more suitable to the wizard archetype.    Spell trading and researching is one aspect of the wizard class that I really like and the AEDU system took that away.    
The problems with vancian casting are many:


  1. Too many spells slots (36+ by level 20, 18 by 10)

  2. Overpowered spells

  3. Spells could do anything

Even with lower powered spells and spells that can't do anything you are still left with 1.

1. Yeah.
2. Not as Dailies if you fix 1. 
3. Anything that other classes can do, is a problem.  But again not as big a problem if you fix 1.




Yeah, they aren't fixing 1. They've already said you'll get 4 spell slots per level. At 3rd in the play test you have 6 total already...
"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.
How about this for an Optional Rules for wizard class:

Instead of level based Daily spell slot table, you spend your wizard career with 2 spell slots that you can memorize in 5 minutes. 

You still get Cantrips for your At-Will needs.  But each encounter you only get two spells, prepared ahead of time from the vast spell book you've acquired.

I think that covers the non-vancian issue.  I think that keeps a lot of the old wizard's feel and flavor with significantly less complexity - remembering rememorizing all your spells each day!  My only concern would be how powerful Cantrips are going to be.  If they are like Shocking Grasp, cool.  If they scale to brokeness like Magic Missile, then maybe memorize only 1 spell.  But I think 2 spells give you the Fireball and the flavor spell, whatever flavor of wizard you want to be for that encounter.
Out of curiosity, would you support a system that revolves around an "adventure" time frame?  Like you can do X action Y times per adventure.  Would definitely disregard the 5-minute workday.

I wouldn't, because there are too many interpretations of "adventure" to make it consistent. 4e's "Encounter" model didn't work for us, either, because we really couldn't break down our games to discrete "encounters." Our adventures can last for between three hours and three game weeks, and each adventure can take more than one game session.

Just for clarity, we define, in descending order:

* campaign: the overall story line that can span weeks, months, or even years of game time
* chapter: a portion of a game that has a specific goal to be met or overcome that can span days or weeks of game time
* adventure: a portion of a chapter that has a fairly-defined end point that can span one or more days of game time
* game session: one Friday night meetup

"Game time" is defined as time that passes in the game world.

So the "do X action Y times per adventure" would be far too limiting. Game time is about the only consistent measure of resource management that would work for us.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

The one thing I like about the vancian system is that you don't ever lose a spell that you learned.   Much like a musician, you can learn a huge repertoire of magical spells, which I think is more suitable to the wizard archetype.    Spell trading and researching is one aspect of the wizard class that I really like and the AEDU system took that away.    


The 4E wizard class keeps this, you know. Wizards have spellbooks, they prepare their spells by choosing the encounter and daily powers they will have for the day in their spellbook, they can learn new spells and write them in their spellbook, and so on. Its in the class description in the PHB. They can even use their "level x power slot slot" for a lower spell.

Remember Tunnel Seventeen !
The problems with vancian casting are many:


  1. Too many spells slots (36+ by level 20, 18 by 10)

  2. Overpowered spells

  3. Spells could do anything

Even with lower powered spells and spells that can't do anything you are still left with 1.

1. Yeah.
2. Not as Dailies if you fix 1. 
3. Anything that other classes can do, is a problem.  But again not as big a problem if you fix 1.



I get the impression that there are two major takes on "Vancian." One is related to having daily spell slots, the other is related to casters being overpowered.

If that's a fair assessment, I can see how it would fuel a lot of arguments.
The problems with vancian casting are many:


  1. Too many spells slots (36+ by level 20, 18 by 10)

  2. Overpowered spells

  3. Spells could do anything

Even with lower powered spells and spells that can't do anything you are still left with 1.

AEDU gave you 2-3 at-wills, 4-5 encounters, 4-5 utility, and 4-5 dailies at level 20. About half the spells of vancian. Also the spells were balanced, and they were limited in what they could do...



2 and 3 have nothing to do with vancian at all.   I could create over powered spells and still use the AEDU system.  I think you're incorrectly coupling the spell casting system with the spells the gaming system provides.   

Personaly, I think the AEDU system is a poor choice for the wizard class because you can't use the same encounter or daily spell more than once.   The system really didn't give me anything that I didn't already have in previous editions.    All it did was create three tiers of spell powers, which is something I didn't like at all. 

The one thing I like about the vancian system is that you don't ever lose a spell that you learned.   Much like a musician, you can learn a huge repertoire of magical spells, which I think is more suitable to the wizard archetype.    Spell trading and researching is one aspect of the wizard class that I really like and the AEDU system took that away.    



Even then 36+ spells perfectly balanced at a 1.1 to 1 ratio to the fighter at 20th level is about 7+ spells per encounter. At 3rd level its 1-2 per encounter already. The problem is not just the power of the spells, its the number and variety of 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.
How about this for an Optional Rules for wizard class:

Instead of level based Daily spell slot table, you spend your wizard career with 2 spell slots that you can memorize in 5 minutes. 

You still get Cantrips for your At-Will needs.  But each encounter you only get two spells, prepared ahead of time from the vast spell book you've acquired.

I think that covers the non-vancian issue.  I think that keeps a lot of the old wizard's feel and flavor with significantly less complexity - remembering rememorizing all your spells each day!  My only concern would be how powerful Cantrips are going to be.  If they are like Shocking Grasp, cool.  If they scale to brokeness like Magic Missile, then maybe memorize only 1 spell.  But I think 2 spells give you the Fireball and the flavor spell, whatever flavor of wizard you want to be for that encounter.



Or we can choose to not gimp the non-vancians... You know do the already perfectly balanced version in 4E just modify the spells power level for encounter versions...
"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 think a good fix would be to just drop off the lower spell slots, and cap your total number of spells- Say 6 max

Level     Spell slots
1            111
2            1111
3            1111 22
4            111 222
5            11 2222
6            2222 33
7            222 333

etc or however you want to make it advance. I think 6 is plenty, but it all depends on the advancement of the other classes
Please collect and update the DND Next Community Wiki Page with your ideas and suggestions!
Take a look at my clarified ability scores And also my Houserules relevent to DNDNext
Thanks for the comments. Regarding the need to prep spells: that seems pretty trivial. Would a rule that you could just keep yesterday's spells without preparing them be satisfactory?



I personally don't have an issue with spells praparation. The main issue with the vancian system to me is that it uses 'game time' (day) as a measure of power. But game time is irrelevant, since a 'day' can last several session or 1 second. I don't like mana points recharge over time for what matters too.
Ideally I'd like a system which is either based on table time (turns, encounters...) or game events (milestones, achievements...).

But since I understand there is a significant part of the community who likes the traditional model, I can see the reasons to try and make it viable along with other options.

Out of curiosity, would you support a system that revolves around an "adventure" time frame?  Like you can do X action Y times per adventure.  Would definitely disregard the 5-minute workday.



That may do, but it opens up the question: 'what is an adventure?'. Basically it means recovery through DM fiat, which can be ok in many cases.
But my preference, hypothetically, would be for the players actions/achivements to matter, like winning a battle, or succeding in a skill challenge, or some outstanding roleplay performance. All this would provide the characters with enough 'mojo' to pull out their greatest tricks. 


I like the cut of your jib.

Yes, you'd have to define what an adventure is, but I think the DMG gives some loose guidelines for it.  Doesn't it explain the difference between a campaign and adventure as a campaign being composed of several adventures which are composed of challenges, combats, and roleplay?  Or am I just making that up?  If it is there, then it could stand to be a little clearer, cause its a very convenient way for DM's to frame the campaign.

I like the idea of significant events giving some recharge to the players.  I do this from time to time, usually through divine aid within the story, or the players surprising me with some ingenious idea or great scene.  It's a little bit of DM fiat, but I'm usually a pretty benevolent DM so it hasn't been an issue.

This is basically how I've been running 4E for a while now.  I think it gives a very cinematic feel to the game and frames the campaign well.  Kinda like the episodes of a TV season.
http://art.penny-arcade.com/photos/979299305_WsMkV-L.jpg
I'm not understanding how someone could not understand when one encounter ends and another begins. I mean its spelled out pretty clearly. Any time you have a couple minutes where your not taking damage or doing anything stressful...
"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.
Okay, I've only skimmed some of the other responses, but here is my personal take.


1) The 4e system features at-wills, encounter, and daily spells. The playtest has at-will and daily spells. Is the fuss really about whether or not you get some encounter spells? Or did anti-Vancians not like the daily spells even in 4e?

No, I don't like daily powers (for any class) in 4e.  They can seriously mess things up (see my response to 3 below).

2) The wizard is billed as using Vancian casting and the people who like Vancian casters seem happy enough. Will the people who hate Vancian casting be content with a non-Vancian sorcerer? Or is even the possibility of having a Vancian caster at your table too much?

If the non-Vancian caster (e.g. sorcerer) is exactly like a wizard only non-Vancian, then that's acceptable, but why create an entirely new class just to swap out Vancian magic?  No, I think there needs to be a non-Vancian option for wizards or many people will be very unhappy.

3) One concern about Vancian casting is due to the nova/5 mintute workday problem, where in principle a wizard can cast a days worth of spells in one fight and then go rest. Is that the dominant concern, or are there other issues?

This is not my concern.  My concern is the fact that "a day's worth of spells" is arbitrarily set (VERY high), despite the fact that any given campaign is going to vary widely in number of encounters per day.  So if I want to have a low-combat game, the PCs are bound to catch on to the fact that they can blow all their daily powers in a fight and not have to worry about facing another one the same day.  Ultimately, the effect is the same as the "five minute workday" problem.

Just to be specific, if you kept the wizard has he was and made an arbitrary rule that you can't cast more than say 2 daily spells in a fight, would that make an anti-Vancian happier, or not?

That might work, but I'd prefer a more robust alternative.

On the same issue, how many people actually saw this happen routinely at a table? I never have, which makes me less sympathetic, but it's not always fair to generalize from your own experience.

No, I never had this problem, and don't see how anyone could without DM complicity.  The DM is in charge of when encounters happen, if your party wants to rest at a time you deem "inapproriate," throw another encounter at them while their getting into their pajamas.

"I want 'punch magic in the face' to be a maneuver." -- wrecan