The Return of the Toolbox and other things I like about the new system.......

So I have looked through the playtest materials and even made a character. I haven't studied everything yet, but there were two big things that I REALLY liked about the new rules. 

The first is the return of the spell system. For three editions, DnD was known for the same spell rules. There are spells you know and spells you have memorized that you can cast. Being prepared with the right spells was always the challenge for wizards (and clerics to a lesser extent, since they still had to pray for the right spells that day). But nothing surpassed the joy that you get when you find a new spell scroll or used spellbook. Even if you didn't have the time to learn all the spells right then, it made you feel like you were being a more powerful wizard. It made the wizard a "tool box" where your spellbook contained all the spells you could use at one time or another. I had a wizard who always said, "Hey, I think I have a spell for that," whenever we would encounter a difficult problem.

4E took that away. By making the wizard conform, more or less, to the same type of power selection process as all the other classes, they eliminated this important part of character development. The spellbook was mostly for rituals which although useful, it didn't change most of the spells you had access to. When you woke up the next day, you had all the same at-wills, encounters, and most of the utilities and dailies you had the day before. From a business standpoint, changing the spell system was a disaster. I have a 3E Spell Compendium and 4 volumes of Spells from 2nd edition. The more spells you create and publish, the more books you can sell. I think that's why they never came up with a Arcane Power 2 book.

So the "tool box" is back. While I doubt they'll do four volumes like they did in 2E, the return of the spell system means more spells than last edition. My wizard is excited about the possibilities.
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and the other thing is the fighter expertise dice mechanic. At first, I was like what? It seemed crazy to have extra dice in combat. Then I listened to the podcast and reread the entry again. Once I realized it was similar to the 4E rogue's sneak attack options, it made complete sense. In 3E, they gave the fighter extra feats to show that they had specialized training. But everyone got feats, so the fighter was not unique in this regard. Anyone could trip or push or any of the other special combat options, provided they had the right feats. Only weapon specialization was class specific. I remember all the arguments that people had HERE about how regular fighters were underpowered compared to other combat classes because they don't get anything unique for them. The other classes got feats and other cool powers and options, too. So then they brought us 4E and the fighter got a big boost and I enjoyed it alot, but the overabundance of powers (especially at higher levels) hopelessly complicated combat and made it last forever. Like I said, there was a very interesting feature they added to the rogue's sneak attack. Depending on your level, you got a certain number of d6s to use on your sneak attack. They added a number of feats that allowed you to convert some of those damage dice to status effects like slowed or bleeding. I didn't use all that much because other rogue powers let me do the similiar thing without the feat cost. But I thought at the time it was an interesting option. Fastforward to DnDNext and the "expertise" dice. Now the fighter is the master of special combat options because they are the only class that has this feature. So far, anyway.

It's not perfect, I wouldn't mind some flexibility on adding some other fighter styles's special abilities but other than that, it is AWESOME. It gives the fighter something no other class has. FINALLY. And the fact that you get your dice back at the start of your next turn is all kinds of awesome. You can also split your dice to do multiple things on your turn and when its not. Extra Damage and Parry? Check. Push an enemy and protect a friend? Check. And that's just the beginning. More moves are coming, as well as more dice. I look forward to parrying 5d8 or 4d10 damage, while still attacking on my turn. 

That's all I've got so far. What do you like so far? Do you agree with me on these two changes or not? Discuss.
First off I love the fighter's expertise dice, though I am worried at higher levels a fighter being able to add 5d8 or 4d10 to a single damage roll. You can argue that limits his options for the rest of the turn, but the jelly that used to be the villain is still busy trying to figure out what the heck just happened.

Perhaps they will add a rule where only two dice may be used on any one option? Or something like that. Definetly the right direction for the fighter, but still some kinks to iron out.

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I do however strongly disagree with the Wizard returning to Vancian casting and a few other details of this magic system. I understand your viewpoint, but to add on to your analogy of the toolbox, I feel the Vancian system cuts down your options considerably. Instead of carrying around a toolbox like you say, I feel it forces you to leave the box at home and just carry what fits in your pockets. A friend and I were talking earlier today and we agreed, it forces the wizard into the role of "fortune teller", they are only most useful if they can predict the future.

 Here's an elaborate example At level 1 a wizard gets three spells per day, looking at the list right now I'd probably pick Burning Hands (offense), Shield (Defense) and Grease (Running away or escaping). We're adventuring in completely unknown territory and we come to a chasm we need to scale down. Well dang, I should have chosen Feather Fall, now my spindly wizard is either lowered down by the party or makes a harrowing climb that could easily kill him. If I'd known there was a chasm when I picked my spells I'd have just floated down there like a master of arcane forces should do. At the bottom we come across a strange creature gibbering at us. Too bad I didn't think this would be a roleplay session and grab my Comprehend Languages this morning. That would have made communication with this harmless seeming creature a breeze. As the party tries to communicate through Charades we're ambushed. Finally I get to use my Burning Hands and Shield spells... except, these things don't seem like a major threat, and I really should save these sort of spells for when they are most useful. Too bad I was indecisive though, the party took a pretty big beating and now we need to rest. Alarm would help greatly, too bad I chose Grease instead. Well, I'm sure I'll do better with a new batch of spells, right?

I know I'm being a little facetious, but the core concept of my point is still solid. Wizards under the Vancian system can have hundreds of "tools", but they have to guess which of those is going to be beneficial and they have a very limited number to "carry". Now Rituals supposedly counter this, if you can take the time to cast them. But I remember the DM having to allow a "retcon" for my rituals in a 4e campaign, because we were starving out in the desert and I ran out of bountiful feasts that I had prepared a ritual for. He allowed me to just subtract gold from my account to somehow gain the components I needed. Ignoring that though, let's say a level 1 wizard has that foresight to prepare at least one of every ritual before leaving town. That would be Alarm and Comprehend Languages, both a 25 GP apiece. Total 50 GP, starting wizard gold? Around 64 GP. So he spends all he has for one preparation of each spell. Hope he doesn't need two before getting back to town. Of course, things seem to get better at higher levels, he only gains one more ritual (Resistance) for another 25 GP. So 100 GP a pop will buy him four rituals (I'd get 2 Alarms), so he is prepared in case he does not have those spells ready for that particular time they are needed.

 I've heard some people say this is a limited problem at higher levels, but glancing back at my 3.5 rulebook, wizards seem to max out at 4 spells per day for any particular spell level, unless they are willing to sacrifice a higher level spell for a lower level spell... which never seemed like a wonderful option to me. I agree that the thrill of finding a new spell to learn is great, but I find that I'd prefer more reliability out of the spells I have than adding more options I might never get to use. The problem exists now though of what to do about Vancian Casting, as moving to being able to cast any spell from your list steps on both the Cleric's and the Sorcerer's toes.

Another beef I have with the magic system is why I have to have a cantrip for detect magic. I can't imagine that the guy who is attuned enough with magical forces to pull fire from the sky and taser people at will can't tell if that sword he just picked up is magical. If you can't detect magical forces, then you are playing blind and I don't want you near my rogue or fighter. If I Dm'd (which I have yet to do beyond a one-shot or two) I'd probably house rule that all Arcane characters can detect magic at will, maybe not Warlocks since they have a completely different system, but definetly Wizards and Sorcerers.

A final note, I strongly dislike the current Sorcerer spell list. I understand a sorcerer will know fewer spells than a wizard, but if he is an innate user of magic why can't he learn how to make a Thunder Wave, why is he unable to use Grease? I can assume they are trying to make the Wizard a more "utility" character, but they left Cause Fear, Charm Person, and Shield for the sorcerer. Besides, saying "you get four spells over the first three levels of play, now chose them from these four options" removes any chance of me building a different Sorcerer than the guy next to me. At Level three the only thing different is our cantrips.

Sorry about the long rant. Been a stressful day and I love Arcane classes, so seeing this mishmash of editions can really get me going
I too like the expertise dice.


But my feeling (mostly based on one night of playtest with the new packet so far) is that it isn't as 'interesting' in play as it seems on paper.


The problem is that there is rarely any option that is really better than just doing more damage.  Few of the options are really worth more than just killing it.  As someone once said on the 4E forums - the best condition to apply is "dead".


What this means is that (with one exception because the party was fighting in a 5' corridor and tumble was needed to let the fighter get an attack with his buddy in the way) all the expertise dice were ever used for was deadly strike.  

In most cases - even with a protector character - damage really is going to be the most reliable option (nothing will suck more than saving your dice to protect your ally and having the creature decide to attack someone else anyway, wasting the dice - and they can't hit your ally if they are dead).


My idea was to go to TWO expertise dice right at first level, but make them both d4s rather than d6s or larger and place a restriction of no more than one die applied to any single combat manuever during a turn.


What this would do is two fold:  First, it would give the players actual choices because only one of the dice could ever be applied to deadly strike - so they would have an incentive to look at their other options like tumble or parry as a way to use the extra dice; and two - it would just feel like they have more options.


Since we don't yet know how the expertise dice will progress into the higher levels, I don't know what will happen at higher levels.    But I think I'd much rather see a character with 4d8 expertise dice looking for ways to use all of their expertise dice by (1 die) tumbling through the enemies space, then hitting the creature with (1 die) deadly strike, knockig the creature prone (1 die) and then saving their last die for a parry - then just applying 4d8 damage to the creature every turn.  


Carl                    
Regarding the Sorcerer:   If that is how you feel about the Sorcerer's spell list, than you really won't like my idea.


I think that the sorcerer shouldn't have any area of effect spells.  I think all of their spells should be single target only.  In the current spell list, I'd dump burning hands and replace it with ray of enfeeblement.


The reasons why I think this are the following:


1)  I think that there should be a clear distinction between what a wizard does and what a sorcerrer does.   Making the splashy area of effect spells the domain of wizards helps to define the roles.

2)  I think that spell points can be very tricky and hard to balance.  And a major part of what makes them  hard to balance is the power inequality between single target spells and area of effect spells; if sorcerers are able to cast area of effect spells, it is far more likely that the will be able to dump all of their less efficient higher and lower level spells to focus on the specific area of effect spell that gives them the most bang for the spell point.  If all spells are single target, this is less of a problem.

3)  One of the limiting factors for area of effect spells such as cones is that they require the squishy caster to get up close and personal with their targets.  This is part of their balance.  When the caster is dressed in platemail, forcing them to get up close and personal is no longer an issue and thus these spells are actually more useful in the hands of the Sorcerer than they are in the hands of the wizard.


(On the other hand - I'm 'this close' to suggesting that wizard's shouldn't have any single target evocation spells aside from their cantrips.  Maybe some first level spells.    The logic being that they are wielding immense power and it is hard to control such immense power that precisely - when you open the floodgates, what comes through isn't as focused as a single target spell needs to be.  But this would be a bit of a departure from AD&D traditions).


Carl
A friend and I were talking earlier today and we agreed, it forces the wizard into the role of "fortune teller", they are only most useful if they can predict the future.


This was an often-heard exchange at our table during the 3E days:
"Hey.  We need to ______.  Do you have a spell that can help?"
"Yes.  I have _____.  It should work."
"Well, can you cast it?"
"Not today.  Maybe tomorrow."

It got old.  That's why we pretty much stuck to sorcerers and houseruled away the cleric's need to memorize spells.

I should have chosen Feather Fall....


Despite what I've said above, the wizard can, indeed, maintain some level of flexibility in his spell selection simply by not memorizing a spell for every spell slot in the morning.  That way, when you came across the chasm, you could sit down, spend a few minutes memorizing Feather Fall, cast it and then take a header off the cliff.

"When preparing spells for the day, a wizard can leave some of these spell slots open. Later during that day, she can repeat the preparation process as often as she likes, time and circumstances permitting. During these extra sessions of preparation, the wizard can fill these unused spell slots. She cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because she has cast a spell in the meantime." - D20 SRD

The playtest documents don't mention this capability, but they don't insist that a wizard must prepare all their spells at the beginning of the day.  I'd allow it in my game.

I'm not going to write as much as the other posters in this thread, but I'd like to add a few ideas:


  1. Other classes enjoyed having a toolbox too.  I agree that 4e got very bloated at high levels, but at the moment the magical classes have far more options and flexibility than non-magical classes.  CS dice are nice, but I think they'll need a fair bit of tweaking before the rules are there.

  2. I'd never want a more casual player to have to wrangle through pages of spell descriptions because they chose Wizard.  I dislike the fact that we again have "Expert" (committed to spending lots of out-of-game hours reading through spell descriptions) and "Novice" (does not want to spend that time reading game manuals) classes.

  3. Are you sure that you want Vancian Casting back?  Isn't having all of those predetermined powers limiting your ability to role play your character creatively?  I thought Mike said we were putting the emphasis back on the shared story instead of all those pesky rules.

Regarding the Sorcerer:   If that is how you feel about the Sorcerer's spell list, than you really won't like my idea.


I think that the sorcerer shouldn't have any area of effect spells.  I think all of their spells should be single target only.  In the current spell list, I'd dump burning hands and replace it with ray of enfeeblement.


The reasons why I think this are the following:


1)  I think that there should be a clear distinction between what a wizard does and what a sorcerrer does.   Making the splashy area of effect spells the domain of wizards helps to define the roles.

2)  I think that spell points can be very tricky and hard to balance.  And a major part of what makes them  hard to balance is the power inequality between single target spells and area of effect spells; if sorcerers are able to cast area of effect spells, it is far more likely that the will be able to dump all of their less efficient higher and lower level spells to focus on the specific area of effect spell that gives them the most bang for the spell point.  If all spells are single target, this is less of a problem.

3)  One of the limiting factors for area of effect spells such as cones is that they require the squishy caster to get up close and personal with their targets.  This is part of their balance.  When the caster is dressed in platemail, forcing them to get up close and personal is no longer an issue and thus these spells are actually more useful in the hands of the Sorcerer than they are in the hands of the wizard.


(On the other hand - I'm 'this close' to suggesting that wizard's shouldn't have any single target evocation spells aside from their cantrips.  Maybe some first level spells.    The logic being that they are wielding immense power and it is hard to control such immense power that precisely - when you open the floodgates, what comes through isn't as focused as a single target spell needs to be.  But this would be a bit of a departure from AD&D traditions).


Carl



Interesting idea. My main complaint was more why there were things someone with innate magic could do that a guy who has to figure it out can, but I had not considered the power difference in area of effect and single target spells. Of course, a Fey origin Sorcerer is going to look much different from his draconic counterpart so we'll have to wait and see if they plan on a different spelllist for each origin, or just a generic list.


I think that the sorcerer shouldn't have any area of effect spells.  I think all of their spells should be single target only.  In the current spell list, I'd dump burning hands and replace it with ray of enfeeblement.

I think the opposite route makes more sense.  As you mentioned, magic is very hard to control once you open the floodgates.  Where the wizard has enough discipline to control spells, it makes more sense to me that the sorcerer would not, since the sorcerer is basically just improvising and going with the flow.  It even makes sense that the wizard would have difficulty just cutting loose and letting the magic flow unchecked, since that goes against everything they teach you by the book.

The wizard can be the surgeon of the battlefield, making precision strikes against key individuals, and the sorcerer is a force of nature which just burns everything indiscriminately.  It might be a bit too restrictive to actually implement as a broad rule, but it is certainly evocative.

The metagame is not the game.

Perhaps - but the balance issue is key.


Regardless of the fluff - the spell point class ought to be single target only.  Area of Effect spells can become easily abuseable when combined with spell point mechanics.  It's too easy to turn all your spells into the most efficient example of the type - when you only affect one target per spell, it is far far easier to hit the proper balalnce.


Perhaps the wizard specialties should be broken down into a predominantly single-target and predominantlly area of effect varieties.

Carl
I must say as a renegade player of other play systems where u use mana points or whatever, you could always complain of more mana.
 But you ALWAYS had your spells.
It was the key figure, the thing that defined a magic user.
Versatility!?

DnD has always sucked at that IMO. Sorcerers etc. has always been way better options, not in versatility maybe but in playability. Bringin back the prepare thingy which is so limited, I must say is the worst option ever.
 And it is also something my players has told me. It wont happen we play it if it is like that. It sux m8... 

Its an old charm I can give you that but it sux... REALLY.

Just my input.

 
You could also give the spell point class significantly less spell points to work with, since all of its powers would be big and flashy.  Say, it only has three spell points per day, and each spell costs a point.  That actually works fairly well for the sorcerer right now, what with its current design including more non-spell combat ability.

The prepared caster can have a lot of single target spells, making surgical strikes with great control over the whole course of the battle.  The spontaneous caster gets far fewer spells, but each one is much larger in scope, and if it's not the right time for that then you have a greatsword (which is classic Gish, in my book).  Each one has the same "volume" of magical energy, but they're balanced against each other.

But schemes (or their caster-class equivalents) are probably the place to make that decision, yes.  There's no reason to kill a character idea just because someone hates Vancian casting.

The metagame is not the game.

The biggest problem I had with Vancian casting as a low level wizard was running out of spells and having to pull a crossbow out. That jarring feeling where you stop being magical was not fun. Under AEDU, I would never run out of spells, thanks to at-wills, but my wizards potenital was greatly reduced - the loss of the Toolbox was missed - and they stopped feeling any more magical than the ranger (they in effect became ranged attackers governed by the same resource management system).

I think the current incarnation, with cantrips including a number of attack spells, like shocking grasp, ray of frost and magic missile, my wizard never has to stop feeling magical in combat. They also pick up a number of spells per level equal to their Int modifier. For an average wizard, that's 3-4 new spells per level. At level 2 the wizard can cast 4 spells and may know up to 9, this feels like the return of the Toolbox, but also with an extra tool belt that holds basic tools always at hand. This is the kind of compromise I can get behind.

I'm interested in seeing how Arcane Traditions pan out to add a bit more depth to the class.

...I had a wizard who always said, "Hey, I think I have a spell for that," whenever we would encounter a difficult problem.



And I for one hope that this never happens again.

Ok, well not really exactly that, but check out this scenario.

We encounter a locked door!  The rogue steps forward to pick the lock, and then the wizard says "Hey, I think I have a spell for that."
We encounter a horde of goblins!  The fighter draws his sword, preparing to rush into the fray, and then the wizard says "Hey, I think I have a spell for that."
A celestial angel appears and demands that we prove our friendship toward him.  The cleric steps forwad and shows his holy symbol and begins attempting to befriend the creature, and then the wizard says "Hey, I think I have a spell for that."
The mastermind, an evil creature harnessing deadly powers and an even deadlier intellect, begins to laugh in the face of the weary heroes, and then the wizard says "Hey, I think I have a spell for that" and causes him to save-or-die.

So, yeah, toolbox is great and all, except that toolbox can also mean "I replace the party."  Hopefully WotC toes the line on that one.

...I had a wizard who always said, "Hey, I think I have a spell for that," whenever we would encounter a difficult problem.



And I for one hope that this never happens again.

Ok, well not really exactly that, but check out this scenario.

We encounter a locked door!  The rogue steps forward to pick the lock, and then the wizard says "Hey, I think I have a spell for that."
We encounter a horde of goblins!  The fighter draws his sword, preparing to rush into the fray, and then the wizard says "Hey, I think I have a spell for that."
A celestial angel appears and demands that we prove our friendship toward him.  The cleric steps forwad and shows his holy symbol and begins attempting to befriend the creature, and then the wizard says "Hey, I think I have a spell for that."
The mastermind, an evil creature harnessing deadly powers and an even deadlier intellect, begins to laugh in the face of the weary heroes, and then the wizard says "Hey, I think I have a spell for that" and causes him to save-or-die.

So, yeah, toolbox is great and all, except that toolbox can also mean "I replace the party."  Hopefully WotC toes the line on that one.




this, a thousand times this.

this is why so many 4e players want balance, and the thing about balance is that you cant add it later, it HAS to be in the game at the start.

the fact that the fighter still has nothing comparable to spells in power or utilty is not a good sign this will be averted (the dice are about the same power as cantrips, but they have nothig that is comparable to daily powers)

Insulting someones grammar on a forum is like losing to someone in a drag race and saying they were cheating by having racing stripes. Not only do the two things not relate to each other (the logic behind the person's position, and their grammar) but you sound like an idiot for saying it (and you should, because its really stupid )


this, a thousand times this.

this is why so many 4e players want balance, and the thing about balance is that you cant add it later, it HAS to be in the game at the start.

the fact that the fighter still has nothing comparable to spells in power or utilty is not a good sign this will be averted (the dice are about the same power as cantrips, but they have nothig that is comparable to daily powers)




But the dice scale, the cantrips don't!  I'm seeing good signs mostly.  Eye of the beholder, I guess.
First off I love the fighter's expertise dice, though I am worried at higher levels a fighter being able to add 5d8 or 4d10 to a single damage roll. You can argue that limits his options for the rest of the turn, but the jelly that used to be the villain is still busy trying to figure out what the heck just happened.



By the looks of it, a fighter wouldn't be adding that many dice until about 10th level, at which point 20-25 points of extra damage really won't mean all that much. Hell, the rogue will be doing 10d6 at that point.

I think that the sorcerer shouldn't have any area of effect spells.  I think all of their spells should be single target only.  In the current spell list, I'd dump burning hands and replace it with ray of enfeeblement.



No offense intended but, I really dislike the idea that a sorcerer should be single target. In fact, it's the exact opposite of how I hope they go with sorcerers.  I see them as blasters and, as another poster commented, the guys wildly harnessing magic in a way they are struggling to control.
First off I love the fighter's expertise dice, though I am worried at higher levels a fighter being able to add 5d8 or 4d10 to a single damage roll. You can argue that limits his options for the rest of the turn, but the jelly that used to be the villain is still busy trying to figure out what the heck just happened.



By the looks of it, a fighter wouldn't be adding that many dice until about 10th level, at which point 20-25 points of extra damage really won't mean all that much. Hell, the rogue will be doing 10d6 at that point...."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true">



I really hope the rogue doesn't go down that route. That would be broken on quite a few levels.

As for your math... I assume your taking the average which is fine, but it's also good to look at the range which is 4-40 extra damage. If they are using a Longsword and have a good Str (+3) that'd be 6d8+3 damage I believe. 9 min. 51 max. 27 average.

I guess that's not as bad as I thought for Level 10, but still is a sizeable amount. Averages work both ways after all, so they are just as likely to be in the thirties as they are the teens
I still maintain that rituals got a bad rap.  The OP complains that 4e replaced the feeling of magic when you find a spell, and then complains that rituals are too expensive to buy all of at the beginning.   I know I enjoyed getting money and trying to decide if I should use it for better equipment, or for more rituals. 

I REALLY hated the casting cost and time lengths for rituals in the beginning, but after playing with it, they became more fun.   I could no longer just cast Charm Person - I had to come up with a diversion to have the mark spend time listening to me.   When we needed comprehend languages to talk to the Ogres, we had to find a 3rd party who could talk to me for 10 minutes.  That made a much more satisfying puzzle than: "you auto-succeed at casting a spell". 

However, it seems like rituals are in for Next -- I just hope that more characters can use them, and they have the equivalent of martial practices.  It won't really be fun if our next adventure has the Theif and the Wizard conspiring while the fighter just mopes around.   I, personally, want  a game of pillars that everyone has a good chance of contributing to.