Legends & Lore: Magic Systems in D&D Next

Wow, they are finally admitting the idea that the "Wizard is Vancian Only, F*** Everyone else" idea they had initially was pretty awful.  I am looking forward to what this looks like.  This is the first time in a long while they have mentioned modularity in a way that actually means modularity.
CORE MORE, NOT CORE BORE!
O happy day!
Woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooot!

There are not enough smilies on the internet for this news.

As someone who advocated, and did so with great vigor and passion, I am thrilled.  I am not just thrilled by the decision, but I am thrilled that they have finally seen it and the reason why it's needed.  I hope this lesson is one they keep with them throughout the design process.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

O happy day!



My...my face feels funny.  It is using muscles that have laid dorment for so long.  Why are the corners of my mouth turned up?  I'm scared!


This is some of the best news I have seen from DDN in a long time.  Considering that I was totally on the bandwagon at the start then fell off into a deep deep ravine, this feels pretty good.

I do hope they get rid of some of the unusual names though.  Sorcerer casting is Spell Point, call it that.
CORE MORE, NOT CORE BORE!
They probably will, DM's need to be able to point it out easily to their players!  But why do I still dread the return of our sorcerous overlords?  They're not going to make it so that spells can't effectively replace another player, are they... I fear for the future of DDN. Cry
The third paragraph from the bottom suggest there may be some penalty for going "points" instead of fixed slots.
There probably should be, since directly converting to points and keeping 'memorization' (but points based) means a 5th-level wizard changes from fixed 4/3/2 slots to 16 points he can use however, be it the equivalent of 1/0/5, 16/0/0, 0/8/0, or whatever.
Awesome.

Great solution because it allows players to build the sort of characters they want and DMs to build the sort of world they want.

I hope a similar breakthrough happens with healing and skills.

Just as important, I hope this reduces some of the hate directed at Mearls and the rest of the staff. These people might not be perfect, but they care deeply about the game, this playtest, and our feedback. Kind of like the rest of us. I hope we can begin to eliminate the personal attacks while giving measured, rational, and passionate responses to the material.

Long live D&D! 
Actually, I find what Mike is saying requires careful rereading. The considerations are nuanced.

Essentially:

• Choosing the method for magic is a setting decision, not just a character decision. So, the entire world - namely the DM - needs to account for the presence of each system.

• As far as I can tell, the default magical system will still be the vancian system. However, the DM can *easily* allow players to use one or more “optional systems”, instead of, or in addition to the vancian system. ... Alternatively, each of the spellcasting systems can be equally optional, and “core” requires the DM to choose one or more systems.

• Even the default vancian system will include atwill spells and “signature” spells.

• The only changes a magic system brings is a different progression table, which defines the schedule for slots, knowledge, spell points, or so on, at each level.

• Different magic systems will come with different setting flavors, that the DM and players can modify if necessary. 



_____

Mike Mearls:

Rather than put multiple casting mechanics into a class for a player to choose,

we could simply move [spellcasting] mechanics to the DM’s side of things.

After all, a magic system is big. It defines part of a fantasy world, and building the world is mostly (in many groups, entirely) the DM’s job. Why not let the DM pick and choose, and then make those options available to the players? A player who wants to use a specific system could just ask the DM, in much the same way a player might ask to play a lizardfolk wizard or a warforged character in the Greyhawk setting.

This shift solved our seemingly intractable problem. All we have to do now is create a core magic system that focuses on a set of key concepts that all the systems would have to cover. For instance,

all the systems have to work within the idea of spells and spell levels.

We don’t want to recreate the entire spell list for each system. 

The systems would also need to handle at-will spells, signature spells, saving throws, and so on—game elements that the wizard and the arcane traditions refer to.

In essence, this approach embraces what we want to do with modularity, where we build a simple core that relies on a few key concepts to function.

As long as an optional system plays correctly within those assumptions, swapping in one system for another or even using multiple systems in the same campaign works smoothly.

The only thing that changes is the table for the wizard’s spell progression.

Using spell points, slots, or traditional D&D casting does require some modification, but at the table you could run several casters, each using a different system, and the game functions fine. Those casters could share magic items, trade spells, and so on, without any issue.

As part of making sure that the modular approach to casting is easy to use, we’ll provide world background and flavor for each system. This approach makes it easy to use all of the systems at once in your campaign — perhaps competing empires or arcane academies use markedly different approaches to magic — with a minimum of work. If you want to reskin things or change the story, you can do that if you want to.



I still think this whole modularity thing is a bit of a cop out.


After reading this article I was left with almost nothing more than I had before I read it; it just seemed like a whole lot of waffle.


I mean, DMs have been coming up with alternative spellcasting systems as long as pen and paper RPGs have been around. I think it's cool that he's facilitating that but I find it odd that he basically says "the DM will pick how people access the spell list" and somehow that's different from what was true before.

Sounds to me that they have a found a way to swap vancian and aedu styles within a reasonable page space.

Keeping something as a default, is also something I like very much as well.

Thats great news for all spellcaster fans. Good job wizards.
My initial responses:

Each method for casting spells does seem to come with setting implications. Also, it should be the setting that explains magical theory (if any), so supplying different settings with the ability to use different mechanics is kind of neat.

I wonder how psionic fits in here? Can psionic be the name for one of these spellcasting methods? For example, the 3e Psion sets a precedent for the Wizard that uses psionic power points as the spellcasting system.

I wonder how the Cleric fits in here? Could there be a “white wizard” healing tradition?

Since all methods must use the same spells, if one method is noticeably better than the others, it is possible to recalibrate the advancement table. Similarly if one method is noticeably worse off than the others.

The Warlock and the Sorcerer  - if they exist at all - will need to be salient class concepts with their own reason for existence. They cant be just a different method for spellcasting. Ultimately a good thing for solid classes.

Heh, grognards will continue to grin if vancian is the “default” and other methods are the “options”.
My initial responses:

The methods for casting spells does seem like it comes with setting implications. It should be the setting that explains magical theory (if any), so supplying different settings with the ability to use different mechanics is kind of neat.

I wonder how psionic fits in here? Can psionic be the name for one of these spellcasting methods? For example, to 3e Psion sets a precedent for the Wizard that uses psionic power points as the spellcasting system.

Since all methods must use the same spells, it becomes easier to ensure balance. If one method is noticeably better than the others, it is possible to recalibrate the advancement table. Similarly if one method is noticeably worse off than the others.

The Warlock and the Sorcerer  - if they exist at all - will need to be salient class concepts with their own reason for existence. They cant be just a different method for spellcasting. Ultimately a good thing for solid classes.


Heh, grognards will continue to grin if vancian is the “default” and other methods are the “options”.



Fo Sho.


This could also tie into how the multiclassing system is coming along, 'cause what sort of system they ultimately go with will have a pretty hefty impact on how many classes they need or want. The 3e sorcerer/wizard was essentially exactly what Mearls is talking about here but he wants it expressed in one table.


Hmm. Musing right along, I wonder if that'll kill the ultimate mage sort of character?


Or maybe you could be a wizard(vancian)/wizard(aedu).


I don't actually think they'll rip every system we know word for word but just as an example.

Yay! Now I can just ignore the systems I don't like and get on with my world building. Saves me a lot of trouble. 

Thank you Mr Mearls. 


I'm still curious about those traditions they were talking about. I hope we get a taste of what they will look like in the next packet. 
@Kadim. It seems like you could swap in a different system for other mages too, like the Cleric class and Druid class?



@Tlantl. Yeah. Different groups will choose different systems, often switching them for different settings. Being able ignore systems, prevents “a lot of trouble”.
While a lot of this certainly sounds fantastic on paper, I worry about the implications in practice. I don't want DMs to be able to take this as license to say any more crap like "We're using this casting system here, and you can't use your preferred casting system because it doesn't fit my setting" when yes, it very well ****ing does, you self-centered amateur with a god complex. Saying "We're not sure how to handle it, so... y'all figure it it with your DMs?" just strikes me as a cop out. I'm certain that they can do better.

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It kind of seems like they're going the Unearthed Arcane route with this one.  It makes for good hearing.

The metagame is not the game.

@Kadim. It seems like you could swap in a different system for other mages too, like the Cleric class and Druid class?


I don't see why not, but it does look kinda weird on the character sheet. :D


While a lot of this certainly sounds fantastic on paper, I worry about the implications in practice. I don't want DMs to be able to take this as license to say any more crap like "We're using this casting system here, and you can't use your preferred casting system because it doesn't fit my setting" when yes, it very well ****ing does, you self-centered amateur with a god complex. Saying "We're not sure how to handle it, so... y'all figure it it with your DMs?" just strikes me as a cop out. I'm certain that they can do better.


To be fair dude, the DM can more or less decide how they want it to go now and if you're not happy about a decision then there are social conventions you can follow to dispute that. Or you can make a different character; that's just how the game goes.


My worry about it is actually exactly the opposite: players will feel entitled to pick whatever they see in print irrespective of what fits in the DM's game.


I agree that the whole watchword of throwing it in the hands probably is a cop out, but I also kinda like the side effect of empowering DMs to manipulate the rules freely again.

My biggest worry about this appraoch is the implications of each system. Some system may seem "better" mecahnically than other systems. A good example of this is the 2nd edition books the Skills and Powers that brought in alternate spell point systems and the like. All the freedom of choice that these books gave took min maxing to a new extreme level.

I still prefer the idea that Wizards use one type of casting system and warlocks and sorceres have there own as well. So it can come down to the DM simply saying what classes he allows and not have to have players that choose one class then have 3 different options on how mechanically that class will be played. And then fight with the DM if he does not like the other 2 options.
When it comes to listening to customers he is incredibly thick. When he gets what they want he still be's thick about it. This way what happens is more work is dumped on DM and still leaves players mostly in the dark about choice. For something that is so important to the class andd the way it is played cannot the ball be put in the players court and allow them to choose their casting method. I think too much of his personal preferances are poisoning choices.
I wonder if they have though out how the different magic systems are going to be presented in the books. I mean sure it's nice to say that the DM is the person doing the work and he/she is the one making the decision, but another thing entirely if those systems are presented to the players in the player's hand book in such a way as to cause conflict at the table. 

I really hate it when new players who have played in other groups come into my game and immediately want to turn my game into the one they lust left or are still playing in.

The group I have now is small and we are open to new players but I need people who don't have a lot of baggage or expectations. I really hate wasting the little time my players have on new guys who really don't want to play in my system or have expectations that my game is going to be like their old ones. It happens but not as often as something like this has the potential to cause.  

It looks like we'll need a syllabus to hand out to new players explaining how our games are set up as well as an outline of our specific game worlds.  I'm thinking modularity is going to come with a price.
When it comes to listening to customers he is incredibly thick. When he gets what they want he still be's thick about it. This way what happens is more work is dumped on DM and still leaves players mostly in the dark about choice. For something that is so important to the class andd the way it is played cannot the ball be put in the players court and allow them to choose their casting method. I think too much of his personal preferances are poisoning choices.



At the risk of sounding kinda negative, no. Actually under no circumstances should the players be free to pick anything about what mechanics they use apart from the most basic question of "do I play or not."


Specific mechanics and changes to the rules has always been the remit of the DM, and it's basically what they get for having to do all the work of world building and managing most of the nuts and bolts of the game. Basically it's one of the big reasons why people DM.


The players should be free to pick a character concept and work with the DM to get what they want, but the player should never actually dictate to the DM what they will do. Obviously, there are ways a DM can totally screw the pooch with this and the better ones are pretty conscientious about what their players want and do their best to let them have it within the setting, but the final word must be theirs.



I suspect that having a wizard with umpteen casting methods will lead to a lot of folks giving each of them labels and treating them like classes.

So long as none of the various magic drop-in subsystems are obviously "the best", it really shouldn't matter which one any given player decides to go with.

Quite frankly, a DM who says "if you want points you have to be a sorcerer because wizards use spell-slots" is a DM to be avoided.  It's just going to get worse from there.
This would be lovely, if it were up to the player to pick his favoured system.  We're back to DM-may-I, again.  This way is almost worse than the other - not only does it result in the writers having to write (balanced, though this seems a side consideration at best) mechanics for all 3 (or however many) systems for ALL the caster classes, it also results in the PLAYER who likes, say, spell point-based casting, having to beg for it from the DM.  Putting the onus onto DMs like this to make all the decisions is something I don't like, probably because I'm coming from the very player-oriented Living Forgotten Realms mostly, in which this sort of thing simply wouldn't work.

It's like C_C says - this isn't game design.  This is avoiding the difficult design decisions by passing them on to the DMs instead.  And it's really distasteful, because what are we supposed to pay for, if not the designers making the difficult design decisions?  It's a cop-out, and they should be able to do better.
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When it comes to listening to customers he is incredibly thick. When he gets what they want he still be's thick about it. This way what happens is more work is dumped on DM and still leaves players mostly in the dark about choice. For something that is so important to the class andd the way it is played cannot the ball be put in the players court and allow them to choose their casting method. I think too much of his personal preferances are poisoning choices.


 
There's a difference between listening to customers and listening to a bunch of loud people on an internet forum. They have the opinions of every playtester who filled out the survey. Just because you aren't happy about something, doesn't mean the majority won't be happy about the same thing.

Quite frankly, a DM who says "if you want points you have to be a sorcerer because wizards use spell-slots" is a DM to be avoided.  It's just going to get worse from there.



I will happily let you avoid me as a DM because I don't want any self-entitled players at my table.
I seriously dont get this dm may I childishness. Sometimes I really feel like Im playing a different game here.

At what exact moment did dm become an enemy of his players? A bad person that wanna steal your fun, make you play things you hate and then laugh at your expense?

It is mind boggling, not to mention disturbing for me personally as a dm to hear players say such things about their games.

Just my 2 cps.
I am good with that. I also prefer Magic Systems to be modules for alternate spellcasting method than ingrained in class design itself and have Frankenstein

Yan
Montréal, Canada
@Plaguescarred on twitter

It's really very simple: if I take the trouble to build a campaign world, write a story, devise encounters and NPCs and then run all the mechanics involved, then I get the right to say "no, not in my game."


I would respect anyone's right to do that. It might have an impact on what characters I play and at its most extreme it'd influence whether I play with that DM or not, but usually I'll play and work with what I'm given.


It's not about entitlement, it's about creating a game world that's fun to run. The game world is, in essence, the DM's character and if they don't want to take the sorcerer feat in favour of the shamanism feat then that's their prerogative.


Players that demand the DM adhere to some system because they want to is every bit as childish as a DM that demands a player adhere to a system, but someone's gotta call the shots and keep the game going which means the final decision has to fall in the lap of the DM.



This is an old argument though. I know how my table will function on this score and if I join someone else's I'll respect how they run their table 'cause that's the right thing to do.

I wonder if they have though out how the different magic systems are going to be presented in the books. I mean sure it's nice to say that the DM is the person doing the work and he/she is the one making the decision, but another thing entirely if those systems are presented to the players in the player's hand book in such a way as to cause conflict at the table. 

I really hate it when new players who have played in other groups come into my game and immediately want to turn my game into the one they lust left or are still playing in.

The group I have now is small and we are open to new players but I need people who don't have a lot of baggage or expectations. I really hate wasting the little time my players have on new guys who really don't want to play in my system or have expectations that my game is going to be like their old ones. It happens but not as often as something like this has the potential to cause.  


It looks like we'll need a syllabus to hand out to new players explaining how our games are set up as well as an outline of our specific game worlds.  I'm thinking modularity is going to come with a price.



Yeah, that's my fear too.

A Self entitled tyrant is no better than a self entitled player, both sides of the table should have choices. It is after all a group activitity. The type of GM who has it in his head that the only choice a player should have is to play or not is one of the greatest arguments against DM may I mechanics. I see no issue with casting mechanics being in a module, just not soley in the DM perview.
Lady auralia, I cannot agree with this.

The only thing a self entitled tyrant and player will have in common is that they are gonna play dnd solo in a very short time.

The self entitled tyrant is the logical extreme. The reality is probably a lot less rhetorical.


What I'm saying is "I need to be free to say what has a place in my campaign world." I'm also saying "I need to have fun, too." If a player comes to me and demands that they use a system I find really annoying to mediate as a DM, even if those reasons are purely personal, then I have a right to say no.


Maybe that's wrong to some people but I need to have fun too and usually there's a compromise out there somewhere. I can't speak for anyone else but I'm always open to compromise. Maybe to some people "compromise" means "give them whatever they want," but the fact of the matter is if I'm DMing I need to have fun, too.



It's all well and good to throw around statements about people being jerks but I think we all know that those scenarios are pretty rare. It might be a my own experience but I find players tend to be more demanding in that way but that could be to do with the fact that there are usually 3-5 players for every one DM. Sorta slants the demographic.

While the DM always has final say over any rule (house or otherwise), I have yet to see a single DM wield that as some sort of cosmic power to make players fall in line.  

Usually, whenever there is such a conflict, the player and the DM will discuss the topic in a reasonable manner.  If the player can convince the DM that it's not going to be an issue, then the DM will allow it, and if the player cannot do so then the DM will express reservations ... usually resulting in a trial run (to check whether perceived potential abuses manifest as real) or a kindly-worded ultimatum ("I don't really trust myself to be able to deal with the powers of an at-will spellcaster; it would throw off a lot of lore with how the world works, and I've seen it completely de-rail games in the past; I hate to say it, but I can't allow you to use spellcasting class/module X; if that's the only way you'll play, then I hate to see you go, but it really is for the best of the group.")

I have never in my years of gaming seen a DM power-trip and try to make the game less fun for the players.  Whenever a DM bans something, it has always been because that DM honestly feels like the inclusion of one element or another would detract from the gameplay experience for everyone else.

And that is why I have no issue with the DM deciding which spellcasting module to implement: because only the DM knows what the DM is capable of handling, or what is appropriate for inclusion in the world that the DM has built.

The metagame is not the game.

I'm kind of happy with this.

Hopefully, this modularity on casting mechanics will not just apply to wizards and vancian magic. I really want to get rid of those annoying encounter powers whenever I can. 
As far as I can tell, the 5e default magic system still includes:

• Wizard vancian spells per-sleep (dailies)
• Wizard atwills spells per-round
• Traditions with signature school spells as atwills per-round (atwills)
• Traditions with signature school spells per-short-rest (encounters)

In other words, players seeking a “4e feel” will still find it using the default traditions.



So, it seems the three optional magic systems will be:

• Traditional spells: Vancian per-sleep, plus traditions with per-short-rest, plus per-round, as described above (≈ arcane magic)
Spell points: like 3e Psion (≈ psionic magic?)
• Spontaneous open spell slots: like 5e Cleric (≈ divine magic?)



The article seems to refer to three optional magic systems:
 
• “Traditional D&D casting”
• “Spell points”
• “Slots”

Notably, the main spellcasting systems so far are:

• Slots prepared per sleep (daily)
• Slots prepared per short rest (encounter)
• Slots per round (atwill)  
• Open slots (3e Sorcerer, 5e Cleric), prepared per sleep, but choosing spell spontaneously when casting
• Points (3e Psion), that refresh per sleep (but could instead refresh at each short rest)

The 5e default magic system already allows the first three systems, depending on tradition. This makes me think the “slots” refer to the open slots that the hero prepares per-sleep but whose spell the hero chooses spontaneously at the time of casting.



Now, all of the three systems will have atwills, and have the ability to recast signature school spells.

• Default has atwills and signature spells that can replenish per short rest.
• For spell points: atwills seem free, requiring no expenditure of points, but signature spells probably burn points but then refresh points at the next short rest.
• For spontaneous slots: atwills are free and dont expend a slot, but signature spells probably require a dedicated slot - that then refreshes at each short rest. 

Like default, both spell points and spontaneous slots include atwills per-round and signature spells per-short-rest.
  


In sum, the three options for magic systems will be:

• Default: vancian per-sleep, plus traditions with per-short-rest
• Points, plus traditions that refresh points per-short-rest
• Spontaneous open slots, plus traditions that refresh dedicated slots per-short-rest

All magic systems include atwills per-round.
Happy Happy
Joy Joy

This will put A LOT of pressure on the DMG to be very good and informative. To remind the weaker DMs to to explain their beliefs.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

It seems a really interesting innovation for D&D. Cant wait to bite it
DM: Products of MY Imagination ©. Since 1986.
wel what kind of variant spellcasting would we like to see ?

let me begin with a slight variation on standard vancian i might like to see.

it removes the set number of spell slots instead you have a total number totaling your total spell slots and a number representing your maximum spell level.
adcancement would become somthing like :



























































character levelspell slotsmax spell level
131
251
382
4102
5133
6153
7184
8204
9235
10255


you still prepare spells like in traditional vancian but your spell slots are not set so for example a 5th level caster can prepare upto 13 spell levels.
so he could chose to prepare 4 3rd level spells  and 1 1st level spell
but could also chose to instead learn 13 1st level spels for that day. 
or any other combination of spell slots as long as no spell is higer then 3rd level and the total does not exeed 13.

optonal could be that if you spend 5X the spell level needed for a spell it becomes a encounter spell so for the value of 5 spell slots you can turn a 1st  level spell into a encounter spell.

Wow, they are finally admitting the idea that the "Wizard is Vancian Only, F*** Everyone else" idea they had initially was pretty awful.  I am looking forward to what this looks like.  This is the first time in a long while they have mentioned modularity in a way that actually means modularity.

Could be a very wonderful news!

I'll judge if is so or not only when I can see how it is realised.
No more vancian. No "edition war" for me, thank'you.
Ah, "DM May I?" the catch phrase of the self-entitled, never had the guts to DM, player.

Kalex the Omen 
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Ah, "DM May I?" the catch phrase of the self-entitled, never had the guts to DM, player.

My what a wide brush you paint with sir.