Specialties: problems with the new playtest.

I have notice a severe problem with the new Arcane Magic Specialist and Divine Magic Specialist in the new playtest. The problem is with the first feat of each of these specialties, why would anyone ever choose them. The first, Arcane Magic Specialist offers Detect Magic, Mage Hand, and Light once per day. Why in the world would you not offer these spells at will? Is light such a game breaking ability (considering you can buy a couple gold piece lantern that already does the exact same thing and does it better I might add, 30' vs only 20' for the light spell)? As for detect magic, it should be a innate ability for wizards rather than a spell anyway. As far as Mage Hand goes is it really so overpowered that you can only use it for 1 of the 1440 minutes in a day? Now if you were a Wizard most of these spells are already available to you and some if not all are already available at will, so that makes this feat completely useless other than its just a placeholder to get to the later feats in this specialty. If you are not a wizard how could this possibly make you want to take this feat over say literally any other feat.

Now this becomes even more severe with Divine Magic Specialist. The three spells offered by it once per day are on nearly every clerics spell list as at will. So there is almost no reason to take it as a cleric and even worse I couldn't fathom why any other character would bother with taking this to cast one of these spells once per day.

The point is that there is literally no reason that the three spells offered by both of these specialties should not be at will for any class that chooses them.
I totally agree with you.  These two specialties make either overlap what the wizard or cleric does already, or they add daily use cantrips that seem to have no point at all.


Every wizard should be able to cast light, mage hand, prestidigitation and read magic at will.   (Also, Wizards should not be limited to preparing only 4 cantrips).


  

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I"m also in agreement. Though I would expand and say the 3rd and 6th level feats aren't all that great either for Divine Specialists.

Also, is it just me or is taking a feat to grab a daily spell a little wierd in the first place? I like the concept of adding Specialties for wizards and clerics, and I like the concept of having magic specialities that can be used by non-spellcasting classes... but these are a flop. Most martial people will take other much more useful specialties and most spellcasters will ignore these as well. Well perhaps the wizard will grab maximize and quicken spell, but any cleric who wants to be a better healer (only reason for grabbing a daily cure spell I can think of) would be much better off taking the healer speciality... which absolutely rocks since potions can be stockpiled or sold Money Mouth
While I agree that the new specialties are... lacking, it is also worth noting that you can take any feats as long as you meet the prereq's, including "higher level" ones. In effect, clerics/wizards can skip the first tier of this trait line (because they already meet the requirements for the higher tiers by default) but fighters or rogues who want to have familiars will have a way to gain a wizard spell to get the second tier feat.
I am pretty sure that no fighter ever will pick up this feat just to gain a familiar which is pretty useless for them other than perhaps being able to scout 100' ahead which when given the negative of losing two feats for this ability I think I'll just let another party member handle it. However, if these spells were at will I may consider taking this feat as a fighter or especially a rogue since mage hand can be used to pick locks from afar and having a resistance spell or a tiny healing spell for my fighter could be useful or having mage hand to grap potions from my bag or ready another weapon. The point is there is really no gamebreaking reason why you should not be able to use all three of these spells at will if you grab this feat otherwise this feat will languish in limbo and never be used.
I think the feats were a bit underwhelming myself.  One of the design decision for the change, I believe, is to not make a feat that is better than the High Elf racial trait.  While this created an inferior version of a previous feat, it does keep it in line with not over-shadowing a racial.

However, I think, given the nature of what was involved, it could be equivalent, and work well with a racial.  The high elf racial should be:

Elven Cantrip:  All high elves have magic in their veins, and as such have a level 0 arcane spell slot as if they were a wizard.  They can use this slot to cast any level 0 spell they know, and if they use this slot in such a manner, it is at-will.  A character that does not know magic at level 1, can choose one level 0 spell to know, but is free to learn others through play.

Instead of how cantrip currently is. 

Then, with a minor change to the Arcane Initiate feat (which would be better named Arcane Dabbler), you change its description as well:

Arcane Dabbler 

You know a few secrets of magic, enough to preform minor arcane effects. 
Prerequisite: Intelligence of 11 or higher, Knowlege (Arcana)
Benefit:  A character with this feat gains a level 0 spell slot.  The character also learns the spells mage hand and light, and can prepare these spells as if they were at will spells.

I would agree that detect magic needs to become a wizard feature or a feature of the Arcana skill. 
I think the feats were a bit underwhelming myself.  One of the design decision for the change, I believe, is to not make a feat that is better than the High Elf racial trait.  While this created an inferior version of a previous feat, it does keep it in line with not over-shadowing a racial.

However, I think, given the nature of what was involved, it could be equivalent, and work well with a racial.  The high elf racial should be:

Elven Cantrip:  All high elves have magic in their veins, and as such have a level 0 arcane spell slot as if they were a wizard.  They can use this slot to cast any level 0 spell they know, and if they use this slot in such a manner, it is at-will.  A character that does not know magic at level 1, can choose one level 0 spell to know, but is free to learn others through play.

Instead of how cantrip currently is. 

Then, with a minor change to the Arcane Initiate feat (which would be better named Arcane Dabbler), you change its description as well:

Arcane Dabbler 

You know a few secrets of magic, enough to preform minor arcane effects. 
Prerequisite: Intelligence of 11 or higher, Knowlege (Arcana)
Benefit:  A character with this feat gains a level 0 spell slot.  The character also learns the spells mage hand and light, and can prepare these spells as if they were at will spells.

I would agree that detect magic needs to become a wizard feature or a feature of the Arcana skill. 



I do agree with you and I like your solution but I disagreement with the premise of your argument. Your argument is that the feat should not overshadow the elven racial ability which I believe is a faulty assumption. The elven racial ability stands on its own for people who wish to gain magic from their race or tie that somehow into their charcter's background. It also lets you pick ANY 0 level spell and use it, far surpassing the feat since it could theoretically allow you to pick one of the combat spells. Imagine a fighter that can (when disarmed or without a weapon) still zap you with a shocking grasp. This is far better than the three listed cantrips that allow you to do such minor things that they will rarely have any severe consequences in game.

I am not trying to be argumentative (as I cannot put inflection in text) I am just pointing out how I see your premise from a secondary point of view.
I am not saying that a feat could not surpass a racial, I am just stating my assumption as to why the change may have occured from the designers supposed perspective.  I also think that a character should be able to go out of his way to learn new spells, and also a feat to tie into with that feat, instead of find familiar.  One that opens up combat spell options to non-caster characters.  Though the name, and how to best write that description are things I would rather not concern myself with at the moment.

There is a character a friend of mine created in 3rd edition, and he was a fighter, who he wanted to have very very minor magic ability, and I do not remember how we did, without multiclassing.  I find that creating a few feats to cover this option, (perhaps 3-4 feats in this lane), would allow for a dabbler in  either arcane or divine magic to have fun utility.

Then I apologize, I misunderstood your topic sentence

Wizards should be able to cast all prepared cantrips (and they should be able to prepare more) at-will IMO, not simply the 'Academic' tradition.
Yeah, the whole system of arcane initiate and cantrips was much better in 081312. It would be better to just revert to that for the next packet.

And of the new stuff, Arcane Magic Specialist's later game focus on metamagic makes it all but useless to anyone who isn't a wizard, compared to the earlier variant that was great if you wanted to play a non-wizard who dabbled in magic.
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I think the feats and new cantrip rules are fine. Then again, I prefer a lower level of magic in my games. If everyone if wielding arcane power all the time, it becomes pretty banal to me. But, that is a personal taste thing I think. Spell casters have been in the past a bit too overpowered. Being able to at will magic missle all the time was just broken in my book. I understand that it did minimal damage but it never misses and is the perfect interrupt on other spell casters and anyone could take it.

The lowering of the number of at will spells is a good thing in my book. It makes magic more special as spell casters need to decide what they are going to spend their limited resources on for the day. The Word of Power classification seems a bit strange and makes the cleric REALLY good for one battle but then they are down to being a fighter.

 The addition of the ritual version of divinition spells is a good touch. It allows a wizard to use his brain slots for necessary combat and reaction spells and he can still use his utility spells by expending some gold pieces for a ritual kit. It is a nice mechanic. The magic definitely needs further work but I believe they are getting closer to a workable solution and have a couple of options now for modular magic.
I'm finding the specialties to be extra complexity that I don't need, and so, would consider the modular nature and simply play without them.  My biggest problem is that Find Familiar is shunted into the specialties.  That playing the game without specialties would not have such an iconic wizard ability seems, well, seems like it should be available somewhere else.  Maybe house rule in a Find Familiar spell.
That would be my suggestion or put the ability into the Wizard class directly ala 3.x no need to make it a spell...Third level, the wizard class gives find familiar ability.
yeah specialties and feats are the biggest dissapointment in the new packet
The old specialities allowed nice cross type abilities and flavour and gave options. This seems to be just the class is more in two bits. you could even have two or so that fit a class ie. (necromancer & magic user)

Arcane and Divine both seem pretty bad at level one. the fighters only choice seems to be survivor if they are combat focused.

alright, given that it was obviously intended for the spellcasters to be casting 0 levels at will anyway, i houseruled that all 0 levels are always at will.

the arcane/divine first level feats i have also changed to be picking any three, but whichever is the first one you cast per extended rest, you can only cast that, but do it at will...

im also contemplating int mod in prepared cantrips instead of a set number. given that it represents spells "memorized so well that they come naturally"
You also have to remember that Feats aren't specifically tied to the specialties anymore. In fact the playtest wizard starts with the Familiar. You only have to qualify for the feat's Prerequisites to gain that feat. So you could take Toughness at first level for example so long as you have an 11 Con. The specialties are just there to divide the feats into their specific categories.

Here is the Rule "At your DM’s discretion, you can ignore the provided specialties altogether. If you do so, simply choose a feat each time your character gains one, regardless of specialty. Your character must meet the feat's prerequisite as normal."

It is DM discretion, but based on the new Wizard it's going to be WotC default assumption.
alright, given that it was obviously intended for the spellcasters to be casting 0 levels at will anyway, i houseruled that all 0 levels are always at will.



This is not the case, otherwise they would not have made that change.  While making all level 0s at will might not have a large impact on combat or balance, it does change the idea behind meaningful choices.  In the mind of an optimizer, any choice that can be used less seems like a bad one, but in the mind of others, a decision to pick up ray of frost over an at will spell might just be a handy utility for an emergency slow their Illusionist would not otherwise have.  The point of a playtest is not to make assumptions as to how a power was intended to be used, but to use it as it is written to give the designers honest feed back.  If you feel that level 0 spells should all be at will, you need to have relevant data that explains why this is.

In my playtest group, there were no complaints about the change.  They recognized the change had occured, accepted it, and went about their merry way.  This might be because of the narrative associated with the mage character in the party, or they might not really care so much about the rules and just want to have fun playing with friends.

I think the big thing from previous editions that D&DN is trying to bring back are those meaningful choices.  Granted, one may argue what those would have been in previous editions, but you'd be a fool to argue that you did not have lots of choices.  4e removed a lot of those, with its you get feats that add a "+1 per tier"  sort of effects, essentially making feats purely mechanical, therefore not very meaningful or narrative inspiring, and with its you only get X number of powers.  A few classes did manage to break that mold in 4e, but on the whole, 4e was too constrained.
Broadly speaking, I think we took a step backward with specialties.
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Something to consider though - these are free castings.  As a cleric, if I take Initiate of the Faith, I now get a FREE "cure minor", and I can spend my spell slot on something else if I need to.  Even if I also use my other three 0-level slots for cure minor, I now just upped my daily healing output by 33%.  That's not too shabby...  And as a non-cleric, well heck, now I get to heal myself once per day without having to wait for McHoly Pants to use his action on me.  I get healed, he does something more useful, and off we go.

And same with Arcane Initiate.  As a wizard, only the Academic tradition can cast these spells at-will.  The Battle and Illusion traditions need to spend spell slots on them.  So for at least 2 of the 3 builds, this is an additional free cantrip per day.  For non-wizards, this represents the first step in learning magic - as per the feat description, the ability to do a minor magical effect.  This feat represents "dabbling" in magic - you are a hobbyist at best.  If you are serious about using magic, you'll multiclass or take a level in wizard.  A feat is a perk, a minor bonus, thats all it is.  If you want to cast magic at-will, you need to put more of an investment into it.
I'm still loving the Herbalism specialty.  Something about having a fighter brew his own healing potions makes one feel self-sufficient and whole.  Not having to rely on a cleric all the time can be a good thing.

As with the arcane and divine specialties, I agree with you there.  Those spells should be at-wills and not once-a-day spells. 

Making it so that cantrips are no longer at-will was among the worst changes in this playtest packet.

I'm still loving the Herbalism specialty.  Something about having a fighter brew his own healing potions makes one feel self-sufficient and whole.



Herbalism should be a profession, not a feat, IMO.
Herbalism should be a profession, not a feat, IMO.


@FallingIcicle - I agree. I was thinking something like an "Apothecary" background; something like that.

The monetary requirement of the Healer Specialty is the most problematic aspect. Consider this: a Potion of Healing sells in the equipment section for 50 gold. I can make a Potion of Healing for 25 gold. Starting characters get 150 gold. With 6 hours of "downtime" I can double my gold. In theory, I could keep doubling my money forever. That said, I'm pretty sure the developers didn't INTEND for this Specialty to be the "secret passage" a player can take to become a millionaire; but there you go. That said, obviously a DM could come up with whatever external circumstances necessary to stop a player from doing this, but it seems like a poorly designed feat if it REQUIRES the DM to step in and intervene.

I'm still loving the Herbalism specialty.  Something about having a fighter brew his own healing potions makes one feel self-sufficient and whole.

 

@CrimsonAssassin - That's what I love about the concept too. I love the self-sufficiency. I also love the idea that a party doesn't require a Cleric; it provides an interesting party-dynamic where the "healer" role can be filled by different players. 

Personally, I think they should reduce the potency of the items manufactured, and just remove the monetary-cost entirely (nothing wrong with the time-cost). 

That said, obviously a DM could come up with whatever external circumstances necessary to stop a player from doing this, but it seems like a poorly designed feat if it REQUIRES the DM to step in and intervene.


As in a DM who simply says that the one villager who wanted and had money for your potions has bought one, and that you and your companions remain your best customers. ;)
Regardless of whether the current shape of herbalism is the best one or not, seeing as the developers write the game's rules for groups of players with a DM, you might as well write the rules with the DM in mind. If a campaign where they build a potion brewing emporium is what the players and the DM want, I'd say go for it. Otherwise becoming a millionaire would be hard; making the potions is only one aspect of it. If you just want to get rich, robbing a wealthy merchant might be easier than running your own business.
That said, obviously a DM could come up with whatever external circumstances necessary to stop a player from doing this, but it seems like a poorly designed feat if it REQUIRES the DM to step in and intervene.


As in a DM who simply says that the one villager who wanted and had money for your potions has bought one, and that you and your companions remain your best customers. ;)
Regardless of whether the current shape of herbalism is the best one or not, seeing as the developers write the game's rules for groups of players with a DM, you might as well write the rules with the DM in mind. If a campaign where they build a potion brewing emporium is what the players and the DM want, I'd say go for it. Otherwise becoming a millionaire would be hard; making the potions is only one aspect of it. If you just want to get rich, robbing a wealthy merchant might be easier than running your own business.


@ Araith - Like I said, there's obviously any number of ways a DM could manage the potential abuses of this feat. The point I was trying to make (sorry if it was unclear) was that every other Specialties Lv.1 feat confers some kind of static benefit. However, Herbalism doesn't. Instead it provides more of an occasional opportunity.

In our playtest games so far, we haven't had any days where we've accumulated 25 gold (Herbalism's stated cost for a Potion of Healing) in a single day. This means we only use the feat once every other day.


My recommendation was to just remove the monetary-cost completely. By removing the cost, not only do you bring the feat more inline with all the other Lv.1 feats, you also close an exploitable infinite-money loop. Two birds, one stone. If removing the monetary-cost makes the feat too powerful; simply reduce the potency of the items you create.

On the other hand, I suppose it's possible that the REAL reason the developers added the gold cost to this feat because they thought it would be really cool to allow gaming groups the option to play the super-fun D&D Next sub-game "The Potion Brewing Emporium ©", but I doubt it. My guess was that it was seen as a balancing mechanism. 


I totally agree the game should be designed with DM's in mind, but the silly money-loop scenario I descibed requires an extra level of DM involvement: an extra level of involment that could be easily remedied. If the DM and party want to play "The Potion Brewing Emporium ©"  then they'd still be able to do so even if the feat's didn't have a stated gold cost: they could make up their own cost.


The monetary requirement of the Healer Specialty is the most problematic aspect. Consider this: a Potion of Healing sells in the equipment section for 50 gold. I can make a Potion of Healing for 25 gold. Starting characters get 150 gold. With 6 hours of "downtime" I can double my gold. In theory, I could keep doubling my money forever. That said, I'm pretty sure the developers didn't INTEND for this Specialty to be the "secret passage" a player can take to become a millionaire; but there you go. That said, obviously a DM could come up with whatever external circumstances necessary to stop a player from doing this, but it seems like a poorly designed feat if it REQUIRES the DM to step in and intervene.


I was wrong. I double-checked the rules under Selling Loot:
"Arms, Armor, Gear: As a general rule, weapons, armor, and other equipment fetch half their cost when sold in a market." - so all those sweet, sweet Potions of Healing will never be worth full market value. Even if you were level 3, and those potions provided an extra 1d4 +2 HP, you'll never turn a profit.

@Araith - Thus ends the dream of the "The Potion Brewing Emporium ©" sub-game.Cry

However, although the monetary-cost associated with the feat ISN'T a infinite-money loop like I feared (mea culpa, mea culpa, mea culpa). I do stand by the fact that the monetary-cost is overly-restrictive.

Making it so that cantrips are no longer at-will was among the worst changes in this playtest packet.




Basically that makes the Arcane and Divine specialties in this package something that only non-spell casters would really think about taking to get very limited spellcasting ability.   I agree with you.  I don't like nickle and diming with cantrips.    

Perhaps they can create a specialty for non-spellcasters that gives them limited spellcasting ability like single spell uses, but they should create a better spellcasting specialty for the classes who are already spellcasters.

What I find most interesting is that in character creation, players can pick and choose feats at will if they desire, so a spellcaster could pick Durability at 1st level, find familiar at 3rd level and maximize spell at 6th level.  That could be really cool.   I'm hoping for more spellcasting feats to choose from.

   


     

A Brave Knight of WTF

 

Rhenny's Blog:  http://community.wizards.com/user/1497701/blog

 

 


"Arms, Armor, Gear: As a general rule, weapons, armor, and other equipment fetch half their cost when sold in a market." - so all those sweet, sweet Potions of Healing will never be worth full market value. Even if you were level 3, and those potions provided an extra 1d4 +2 HP, you'll never turn a profit.


That particular rule is jarring. If the potion vendor can make a living selling potions at 50 gold each, what happens when the PCs set up a booth next door selling potions at 45 gold each?

The half price rule is essentially a PC tax, which is a metagamey solution that strains immersion when it comes up. It would be better to cut the profit margin down to something more reasonable, like 10 - 20%. Enough to make the feat worthwhile, even enough that the players could go into business, but not so much that going into business would break the game.
That particular rule is jarring. If the potion vendor can make a living selling potions at 50 gold each, what happens when the PCs set up a booth next door selling potions at 45 gold each?

Almost every edition of D&D, and many other RPGs, has had that "problem."  The usual solution is something like declaring that the PCs who do this are no longer adventurers, and they should either stop playing the game or become NPCs.

"Edison didn't succeed the first time he invented Benjamin Franklin, either." Albert the Alligator, Walt Kelly's Pogo Sunday Book  
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That particular rule is jarring. If the potion vendor can make a living selling potions at 50 gold each, what happens when the PCs set up a booth next door selling potions at 45 gold each?

Almost every edition of D&D, and many other RPGs, has had that "problem."  The usual solution is something like declaring that the PCs who do this are no longer adventurers, and they should either stop playing the game or become NPCs.



Forcibly retiring the party is an extreme move, equivalent to saying "Rocks fall, you die". It's better to save that one for more serious problems. A simple potion vending scheme can be beaten with a simple math fix.
That particular rule is jarring. If the potion vendor can make a living selling potions at 50 gold each, what happens when the PCs set up a booth next door selling potions at 45 gold each?

Almost every edition of D&D, and many other RPGs, has had that "problem."  The usual solution is something like declaring that the PCs who do this are no longer adventurers, and they should either stop playing the game or become NPCs.



Forcibly retiring the party is an extreme move, equivalent to saying "Rocks fall, you die". It's better to save that one for more serious problems. A simple potion vending scheme can be beaten with a simple math fix.


"The potion vendor has picked up a new "suplier". Not only is he now selling them for 25g, but 10 guys come to your inn and threaten you to leave town."
My two copper.
I guess my confusion with the "problem" of players using the herbalism feat for making a ton of money comes from two sides.

First, isn't it better to keep these potions for your party? You guys will use quite a bit so why sell them unless you've reached a ridiculous number of potions in the group.

Second, why is an infinite money scheme bad? By level 6 or so isn't money a minor concern for players as they have earned quite a large chunk of treasure? And there are no magic items to buy, so the players will either buy regular equipment, most of which is cheap and they might not bother with anyways. Well, I guess early access to plate might be a small problem at level 1, but that levels out quickly. What else can they buy? Land, titles, henchmen, all of which increase immersion and concern for the game world and give you as the DM more hooks and role-playing opportunities. Want them to really hate that villain, have him destroy their new mansion. Need to get them to the swamps, that henchman they hired begs them to go.

Money always becomes a bit of a joke in DnD games right? So even if it causes small problems at lower levels, that will work itself out and give you more to do with the players. Also, I'd consider it perfectly reasonable that if a new, extremely wealthy group set-up shop it would attract all sorts of unwholesome attention. After all, the PC's aren't the only ones who like money.
That particular rule is jarring. If the potion vendor can make a living selling potions at 50 gold each, what happens when the PCs set up a booth next door selling potions at 45 gold each?

Almost every edition of D&D, and many other RPGs, has had that "problem."  The usual solution is something like declaring that the PCs who do this are no longer adventurers, and they should either stop playing the game or become NPCs.



Forcibly retiring the party is an extreme move, equivalent to saying "Rocks fall, you die". It's better to save that one for more serious problems. A simple potion vending scheme can be beaten with a simple math fix.


"The potion vendor has picked up a new "suplier". Not only is he now selling them for 25g, but 10 guys come to your inn and threaten you to leave town."


Exactly! That's the sort of math fix we need!Smile

@Chaosmancer:

The infinite money scheme is not bad. Essentially, it's just the player taking a day job as the village herbalist, a perfectly normal thing to do. The herbalism feat sets a wage on that day job, saying that a professional can make 25 gold/hour (not counting the time it takes to sell the potions). That also is not bad, as long as 25 gold/hour is a reasonable wage for professional labor. It's only a problem if 25 gold/hour is not a reasonable wage. D&D Next doesn't have an economy yet, but previous editions have, and those editions would say that 25 gold/hour is unreasonably high.

Even if the adventurers are above the game-world economy, they still have a PC economy. The PC economy is based on things like rituals and holy water - highly useful expendable objects that cost a certain amount of money to obtain. It also includes the occasional magic item for sale, in those games that include a magic-mart. Many games rely on those things being expensive commodities. If the players gain a fountain of wealth, all of that becomes free.

It's much easier for a GM to give the players infinite wealth than it is for the GM to plug an existing source of wealth. The core rules should assume that money is important and not leave unreasonable money fountains lying around.
I'm still loving the Herbalism specialty.  Something about having a fighter brew his own healing potions makes one feel self-sufficient and whole.



Herbalism should be a profession, not a feat, IMO.




I do agree with that.  Would make the Artisan background make some sense, though I am fine with how it stands right now and I can see how it'd work.

My profession skill determines what I can make.  If I have Prof (Alchemy) +3, I can craft a number of basic items like healing potions.  I could attempt to create higher leveled items by rolling, or put enough points to take-10 on that skill.