Is Nine Levels of Spells the Correct Number?

In pre-4e, wizards and other major casters (depending on edition) had spells separated into nine levels with first level spells being the "weakest" and ninth level spells being the "strongest." Although there was a concept in some cases of zero-level spells, those are now roughly covered by at-will cantrips/orisons in DDN.

So for daily spells, is nine the correct number of spell levels? If the DDN wizard or cleric had eight spell levels or ten spell levels for daily spells, would that be wrong? Would it not "feel" like D&D? How much flexibility is there in scaling spell power?

Looks like spells cap at 7th level in 5th Ed.
Looks like spells cap at 7th level in 5th Ed.


What's your basis for suggesting this?

Z.
Looks like spells cap at 7th level in 5th Ed.


What's your basis for suggesting this?

Z.



I was wondering the same thing.  The survey asks about up to 9th level spells.
In pre-4e, wizards and other major casters (depending on edition) had spells separated into nine levels with first level spells being the "weakest" and ninth level spells being the "strongest." Although there was a concept in some cases of zero-level spells, those are now roughly covered by at-will cantrips/orisons in DDN.

So for daily spells, is nine the correct number of spell levels? If the DDN wizard or cleric had eight spell levels or ten spell levels for daily spells, would that be wrong? Would it not "feel" like D&D? How much flexibility is there in scaling spell power?



Well considering that spells don't -scale- anymore individually, 10 'spell levels' is a single 9th level spell and a (near useless) 1st level spell under the '10 spell level' paradigm.  I think 2E's 'max 4 of each spell level' was just about right with no bonus spells.  Bonus spells was another (idiotic) 3E idea in relation to wizards.  Clerics had had them previously, but I could see either requiring 'bonus' spells to be healing/cure related -or- lowering the number/removing them outright also.

A 7th level wizard's spell progression was thusly 4-3-2-1, and that was more than enough -before- the inclusion of a magic missile spell that does scale.  I could even go with max 3 per spell level/no bonus spells.  But anything under that, especially when most of them don't scale, is really starting to cut too painfully into the wizard.  I get that wizards were overpowered in 3E folks, but don't annhilate them as a class.  It may be annoying that they -can- take knock or whatever, but not every group has 4 players that each want to play one of each class either.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

The 7th level max was mentioned in an article or interview.

Personally I think they need to match spell levels with character levels, and then allow you to increase the power of a spell by putting it in a higher slot. It would just make everything easier...
"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.
In pre-4e, wizards and other major casters (depending on edition) had spells separated into nine levels with first level spells being the "weakest" and ninth level spells being the "strongest." Although there was a concept in some cases of zero-level spells, those are now roughly covered by at-will cantrips/orisons in DDN.

So for daily spells, is nine the correct number of spell levels? If the DDN wizard or cleric had eight spell levels or ten spell levels for daily spells, would that be wrong? Would it not "feel" like D&D? How much flexibility is there in scaling spell power?



Well considering that spells don't -scale- anymore individually, 10 'spell levels' is a single 9th level spell and a (near useless) 1st level spell under the '10 spell level' paradigm.  I think 2E's 'max 4 of each spell level' was just about right with no bonus spells.  Bonus spells was another (idiotic) 3E idea in relation to wizards.  Clerics had had them previously, but I could see either requiring 'bonus' spells to be healing/cure related -or- lowering the number/removing them outright also.

A 7th level wizard's spell progression was thusly 4-3-2-1, and that was more than enough -before- the inclusion of a magic missile spell that does scale.  I could even go with max 3 per spell level/no bonus spells.  But anything under that, especially when most of them don't scale, is really starting to cut too painfully into the wizard.  I get that wizards were overpowered in 3E folks, but don't annhilate them as a class.  It may be annoying that they -can- take knock or whatever, but not every group has 4 players that each want to play one of each class either.



What I meant in regards to scaling spell power is more about spell design than how a single spell can be cast in a more powerful way. If the R&D team takes all the spells for a wizard, throws them on a table and then sorts them into little piles where each pile contains spelss of roughly the same power, how many little piles will there be? Does there have to be exactly nine piles?

I am not attempting to address the number of spells known by a given character or the number that can be cast of whatever combination of levels.

I want to know how people feel about classification of spells by power level.

The 7th level max was mentioned in an article or interview.

Personally I think they need to match spell levels with character levels, and then allow you to increase the power of a spell by putting it in a higher slot. It would just make everything easier...


If the core game assumes 20 character levels, does this mean you are advocating 20 spell levels?


What I meant in regards to scaling spell power is more about spell design than how a single spell can be cast in a more powerful way. If the R&D team takes all the spells for a wizard, throws them on a table and then sorts them into little piles where each pile contains spelss of roughly the same power, how many little piles will there be? Does there have to be exactly nine piles?

I am not attempting to address the number of spells known by a given character or the number that can be cast of whatever combination of levels.

I want to know how people feel about classification of spells by power level.



Ohhhh okay, my apologies I totally misunderstood you.  No, I'm not so attached to levels that they can't be shifted some.  Just going from Basic D&D to AD&D you had to accomodate that (clerics topped at 7th in BECMI).

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

Personally I think they need to match spell levels with character levels

Agreed. Having separate level mechanics always bugged me (and confuses new players).

and then allow you to increase the power of a spell by putting it in a higher slot. It would just make everything easier...

Nice idea.

If the core game assumes 20 character levels, does this mean you are advocating 20 spell levels?

Would that be bad? Assuming spells are reused between the classes (which seems probable), spell levels are fluid anyways. The spell level isn't associated with the spell, it's associated with the classes.

Since class descriptions have to list out 20 levels regardless, we might as well make it more intuitive.

3.5 had Heighten Spell, but yes this should be baseline.  Furthermore, you should have to use a higher spell slot if you want that Burning Hands to do more damage.  No more of this "all spells increase in power when you do" stuff.  More bang means more buck.
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If the core game assumes 20 character levels, does this mean you are advocating 20 spell levels?

Would that be bad? Assuming spells are reused between the classes (which seems probable), spell levels are fluid anyways. The spell level isn't associated with the spell, it's associated with the classes.

Since class descriptions have to list out 20 levels regardless, we might as well make it more intuitive.


I like it. As an old-schooler, I know the traditions of having 9 being max. But when clerics stopped at 7th back in the day, it didn't break the bank. So as an open-minded old-schooler, I kind of hope to see spells fan out across more levels... if only to be able to make every level an access into something new. Another thought... unless DDNext makes all the puny spells at-will, I hope they don't call them 0-level spells. Small pet-peeve there, as a DM making a spell list and then going... oh crap! He can't teleport! Because i miss-counted. My own blunder, but a DM has a lot going on. I often DM for 10 folks at a time, so every little bit helps.
A rogue with a bowl of slop can be a controller. WIZARD PC: Can I substitute Celestial Roc Guano for my fireball spells? DM: Awesome. Yes. When in doubt, take action.... that's generally the best course. Even Sun Tsu knew that, and he didn't have internets.
Filling out the survey, I found myself filling in fewer and fewer iconic spells as the levels moved on.  I had to edit myself heavily to get through 1st and 3rd level spells, but I literally felt like no spells of 7th level or higher were iconic.

Actually, with my roots firmly planted in 2e, I felt myself moving towards the blasting spells as being iconic (Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cone of Cold, and Chain Lightning), and being more and more disappointed that blasting has become less and less important to the wizard as the editions moved on--which I think is because HP and non-magical damage started skyrocketing, while spell damage stayed the same.  I kind of miss the blaster wizards. 
9 levels of spells (10 including cantrips)....9 circles of Hell (10 including the "vestibule"). Coincidence? I think not.

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In classic numerology, 9 is the most magical number and 7 is the number of God.  I rather liked that 1e gave a nod to that, whether intentional or not.  I'd love to see a return to that and hiving off a lot of clerical spells into separate domains should keep a lid on spell choice.
Looks like spells cap at 7th level in 5th Ed.


    Looks like they are just piling up the reasons to stick with 4e or switch to Pathfinder.
3.5 had Heighten Spell, but yes this should be baseline.  Furthermore, you should have to use a higher spell slot if you want that Burning Hands to do more damage.  No more of this "all spells increase in power when you do" stuff.  More bang means more buck.



I didn't like Heighten Spell, but that was more a byproduct of the casting paradigm than anything.  I agree with you that you should be able to 'slot up'.  I do -not- think you should be able to 'slot up' non-blaster spells.  It doesn't matter what slot it takes, you don't want 15th level encounters ending with Web imo.

I think the blaster wizard is one archetype that should return (as opposed to sorc, where it was generally more acceptable, if still a bit underperforming) in 5e, and it will take some good work to get it there.  This is one viable method of -beginning- that conversation, though.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

I would like to see spell levels replaced by tiers "apprentice, adept, Mage, and archmage" that are acquired at 1st, 6th, 11th, and 16th level.

Then each level of wizard would grant additional spell slots in specified tiers.

I feel like this kind of description (while a break from the spell levels of yore) is a bit more intuitive or natural-seeming.

It also compresses the power of individual spells into 4 ranges instead of trying to draw distinctions between 7th level spells, 8th level spells, etc.

There's also the elimination of "just how many spell levels is correct?"

Might also be easier to sort out in the PH, too.
I would like to see spell levels replaced by tiers "apprentice, adept, Mage, and archmage" that are acquired at 1st, 6th, 11th, and 16th level. Then each level of wizard would grant additional spell slots in specified tiers. I feel like this kind of description (while a break from the spell levels of yore) is a bit more intuitive or natural-seeming. It also compresses the power of individual spells into 4 ranges instead of trying to draw distinctions between 7th level spells, 8th level spells, etc. There's also the elimination of "just how many spell levels is correct?" Might also be easier to sort out in the PH, too.



I like the -thought- behind this, although I would be a bit concerned about how they were categorized.  For instance, if Fireball is Adept tier, and Cone of Cold is Adept tier...no one would ever take fireball.  It would be far too easy to 'load up' on the upper echelon of your tier.

Perhaps if some kind of prereq system like 2E's psionics were in place.  "You can't select 'x' until you know at least 'y' spells of the previous tier" or something like that; something to prevent blatant 'deck-stacking'.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

Well, hopefully you'd rebalance the spells to have greater parity within a tier.

You might also limit wizards to training in 1-4 "schools"
I like the -thought- behind this, although I would be a bit concerned about how they were categorized.  For instance, if Fireball is Adept tier, and Cone of Cold is Adept tier...no one would ever take fireball.  It would be far too easy to 'load up' on the upper echelon of your tier.


What if Fireball had a longer range, but CoC had a higher damage cap, and they both started at the same damage level? Then putting them in the same tier would make sense, but there would definitely be reasons for tooling up with more CoCs at higher levels.

Z.
Well, hopefully you'd rebalance the spells to have greater parity within a tier. You might also limit wizards to training in 1-4 "schools"


I came to this forum agreeing with those who believed the fighter needed the most re-working.

On reflection, I actually think a mostly rewritten wizard is more urgent.

The fighter's weakness/dullness can be fixed by a more exciting combat system that plays to its existing strengths. The wizard's power problems and complexity need a more radical overhaul.

Z.
On further thought the spells you gain per level should be tier-specific.

Maybe? Can't use your Mage spell slots on adept spells.

This might also go a ways toward placating those of us who don't care for vancian magic. It's still vancian but has the promise of flatter power.
Filling out the survey, I found myself filling in fewer and fewer iconic spells as the levels moved on.  I had to edit myself heavily to get through 1st and 3rd level spells, but I literally felt like no spells of 7th level or higher were iconic.

Actually, with my roots firmly planted in 2e, I felt myself moving towards the blasting spells as being iconic (Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cone of Cold, and Chain Lightning), and being more and more disappointed that blasting has become less and less important to the wizard as the editions moved on--which I think is because HP and non-magical damage started skyrocketing, while spell damage stayed the same.  I kind of miss the blaster wizards. 



Or it could be that some spells can take an enemy out without dealing a single point of damage...
"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 always liked 9 and 7 as cap levels for Spells and i hope DDN return to it for Vancian magic. Its a measure of Spell power recognized and understood by many across the iterations of D&D (except 4E).
Looks like spells cap at 7th level in 5th Ed.


What's your basis for suggesting this?

Z.



The Pre-Gen sheets only show spell slots of up to 7th level.

Wounds Module [updated for Basic]

Proficiency Module

I like the -thought- behind this, although I would be a bit concerned about how they were categorized.  For instance, if Fireball is Adept tier, and Cone of Cold is Adept tier...no one would ever take fireball.  It would be far too easy to 'load up' on the upper echelon of your tier.


What if Fireball had a longer range, but CoC had a higher damage cap, and they both started at the same damage level? Then putting them in the same tier would make sense, but there would definitely be reasons for tooling up with more CoCs at higher levels.
Z.



Yah if they started at the same damage it would be fine.  Under that scenario, you're looking at rewriting -most- of the spells to achieve a kind of parity, as the poster above you mentioned.

Not that I'm averse to that either.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

Looks like spells cap at 7th level in 5th Ed.


What's your basis for suggesting this?

Z.



The Pre-Gen sheets only show spell slots of up to 7th level.



Assuming it's not something done in 4th edition, I noticed a -lot- of level swapping in the survey.  That would definitely lead me to believe there will be 9 and 9.  Some spells crossed from the wizard to cleric list, also.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

Looks like spells cap at 7th level in 5th Ed.


What's your basis for suggesting this?

Z.



The Pre-Gen sheets only show spell slots of up to 7th level.



Assuming it's not something done in 4th edition, I noticed a -lot- of level swapping in the survey.  That would definitely lead me to believe there will be 9 and 9.  Some spells crossed from the wizard to cleric list, also.




I wouldn't use that as a basis... Magic Missile was still a 1st level spell in the survey, even though we know it's now a cantrip.  Some of the 'new' cleric spells may have just been pulled in from domains. 

Wounds Module [updated for Basic]

Proficiency Module

 Or it could be that some spells can take an enemy out without dealing a single point of damage...

It could still do that in 2e, but blasting was still more common.  In fact, 3rd made it harder to do, because of the new save system.  So, I'm pretty sure the HP thing is closer to correct.


I wouldn't use that as a basis... Magic Missile was still a 1st level spell in the survey, even though we know it's now a cantrip.  Some of the 'new' cleric spells may have just been pulled in from domains. 



Ah, excellent point and duly noted.   I hadn't considered the domain thing, I'm not -nearly- as familiar with them as the 'standard' list.

"Lightning...it flashes bright, then fades away.  It can't protect, it can only destroy."

To me spells levels should either match character levels, for the sake of clarity and consitency, or be called differently: ranks, spheres, circles.... 
the number 9 seems on from the point of view that 9 is a number that often returns in things like the 9 hels.

matmaticly if you have 20 levels 10 would be a more logical choice gaining access t a new spell level every odd level, but would mean you would get access to level 10 spells at level 20.

somtimes i think that is what they had in mind and later decided to scrap giving you a new spell level at level 20 becouse you would pretty much be on the end of the line.
Filling out the survey, I found myself filling in fewer and fewer iconic spells as the levels moved on.  I had to edit myself heavily to get through 1st and 3rd level spells, but I literally felt like no spells of 7th level or higher were iconic.

Actually, with my roots firmly planted in 2e, I felt myself moving towards the blasting spells as being iconic (Fireball, Lightning Bolt, Cone of Cold, and Chain Lightning), and being more and more disappointed that blasting has become less and less important to the wizard as the editions moved on--which I think is because HP and non-magical damage started skyrocketing, while spell damage stayed the same.  I kind of miss the blaster wizards. 

I, too, had to carefully choose in the early levels, and had a hard time getting up to the 10 max number as I went up.

What I'd really love to see is WotC not use the word "level" for so many different things. That was a problem from way back and it's never been addressed that I've seen. Use the word "Level" to mean character advancement.

As for the original question, I, too, liked the 9 and 7 assignments to magic and divine as numerology nods. But I'm not wedded to that. A possible progression would be to enter a circle (or whatever) every odd-numbered level, which brings the character to 9th circle at level 19. After that -- I dunno, I'm not a game designer, but something interesting should be gained at 21st and at every odd level all the way up.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.


What I'd really love to see is WotC not use the word "level" for so many different things. That was a problem from way back and it's never been addressed that I've seen. Use the word "Level" to mean character advancement.



4E did, by keeping levels consistent between characters and powers. A 16th level character has access to powers up to level 16. But then you don't have the 'traditional' 9 (or 7) spell levels.

As an reference, 13th Age resolves this neatly by having a 10 levels progression for characters and 9 levels of spells. You have access to spells of your level or lower. 

What I'd really love to see is WotC not use the word "level" for so many different things. That was a problem from way back and it's never been addressed that I've seen. Use the word "Level" to mean character advancement.

4E did, by keeping levels consistent between characters and powers. A 16th level character has access to powers up to level 16. But then you don't have the 'traditional' 9 (or 7) spell levels.

As an reference, 13th Age resolves this neatly by having a 10 levels progression for characters and 9 levels of spells. You have access to spells of your level or lower. 

Ah, but I was asking for the word "Level" to mean character advancement ONLY. One thing, one word. I don't have great hopes they'll do that; it's too ingrained in the DNA of D&D. But I can ask.

In memory of wrecan and his Unearthed Wrecana.


What I'd really love to see is WotC not use the word "level" for so many different things. That was a problem from way back and it's never been addressed that I've seen. Use the word "Level" to mean character advancement.

4E did, by keeping levels consistent between characters and powers. A 16th level character has access to powers up to level 16. But then you don't have the 'traditional' 9 (or 7) spell levels.

As an reference, 13th Age resolves this neatly by having a 10 levels progression for characters and 9 levels of spells. You have access to spells of your level or lower. 

Ah, but I was asking for the word "Level" to mean character advancement ONLY. One thing, one word. I don't have great hopes they'll do that; it's too ingrained in the DNA of D&D. But I can ask.



I kind of like the idea of naming the spell levels (as an earlier poster suggested) things like apprentice, master, and so forth. This is more intuitive and reduces confusion, especially for new players. I know that when I first picked up an AD&D PHB I found the distinction between spell level and character level confusing. In general I found the magic system difficult to grasp and as a result tended towards more martial characters for a long time. The challenge with using names for spell levels is that it encourages fewer levels, so you don't run out appellation real-estate.

Personally I think they need to match spell levels with character levels

Agreed. Having separate level mechanics always bugged me (and confuses new players).

and then allow you to increase the power of a spell by putting it in a higher slot. It would just make everything easier...

Nice idea.




Yeah.  Too bad he didn't think of it, but rather read what WoTC said was going to be the case with 5e wizards.
3.5 had Heighten Spell, but yes this should be baseline.  Furthermore, you should have to use a higher spell slot if you want that Burning Hands to do more damage.  No more of this "all spells increase in power when you do" stuff.  More bang means more buck.



Already going to happen......per WoTC.
I think 9 levels for the wizard is iconic.  I think 7 for the cleric used to be but with 3e and 4e thats become less so.

For me, I probably don't mind if it was 8 or 10.  Prefer it not be character level just because it's too many levels.  

 

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