Magic doesn't "feel" different from melee

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Using playtest packet 11/13/12, and the Pre-gens.

Magic doesn't "feel" different from normal melee/missile attacks.

For example:
Human Cleric gets Lance of Faith (0-level at will): +6, range 50 feet, damage 1d8 + 4
Human Fighter gets Longbow: +7, range 150/600, damage 1d8 + 4

The differences (mechanically) a minimal at best (range, limited ammunition, etc).  In play, it "feels" the same; shoot and cause the same damage.

Likewise;
Elf Wizard get Ray of Frost (0-level at will): +6, range 100 feet, damage 1d6 + 3 and reduce speed. 

Mechanically almost the same.  Only the slight slowing effect makes this stand out from other attacks.

In combat, all the classes suffer from the "same, same, same" syndrome. 

Not sure how to "fix" this, except for the small insight Ray of Frost gives us: 
- spells should do things (e.g. slow), that mundane weapons cannot.
- mundane weapons should do stuff that spells cannot (e.g. regular damage)

With 'at will' spells, the game should try harder to add distinction between spells and normal weapons...  
Hopefully they've taken a look at the Concentration thread from a few weeks ago.  The "feel" difference between melee and magic is that magic can be ongoing and, of course, do things other than merely damage.
Hopefully they've taken a look at the Concentration thread from a few weeks ago.  The "feel" difference between melee and magic is that magic can be ongoing and, of course, do things other than merely damage.



Agreed.  And for most spells, this is true.  However, it is the "lazer gun" spells I have issue with.  I understand why they were added (to let spellcasters feel useful in a battle).  But I believe if you remove the "damage" part of those spells, and 'increase' the non-damage aspect, it would keep players equally involved/useful in battle.

For example, a wizard that is able to "lock-down" groups of orcs, is just as fun as blasting them.  Or a cleric who can shield/prevent damage can be just as benificial.

Let the warriors shine with damage, and let the spellcasters shine with special effects! 
Lazer gun spells never made much sense to me anyway.  If I were a wizard, why would I spend ages perfecting such a spell when I could simply enchant an already-designed crossbow?  Weapons are weapons because they are the best weapons.
Um...how can it feel like melee when you are comparing ranged attacks? How is ranged considered melee? I dont get it. 

But in all fairness its always been that way. Magic Missle 1st edition is ranged but always hit 1d4+1...throw me a bone here. 
Not sure how to "fix" this, except for the small insight Ray of Frost gives us: 
- spells should do things (e.g. slow), that mundane weapons cannot.
- mundane weapons should do stuff that spells cannot (e.g. regular damage)

With 'at will' spells, the game should try harder to add distinction between spells and normal weapons...  



Lance of faith deals radiant damage, whatever that means. I'm assuming bonus damage vs unholy enemies.  In fact, all of the spells add some type of special damage to the dX roll.

As the above poster noted, you compared magic attacks not to melee, but to ranged. The benefits of magic (and ranged) attacks is that you don't get pelted by your target while you're attacking, as opposed to melee.

Maybe to make things different between magic and non-magic attacks, all magic should face a wisdom check and bypass AC altogether? Of course, I can already see this breaking the game. 
I absolutely agree. From my point of view, magic should be extraordinary. Magic should be not as common as martial art, but it should do the "wow" moments. For me, this feeling had lastly 3.5 Edition.

They say magic users (wizards, sorcerers) are too powerful when the magic is "wow", or "I win" if you will, and it's wrong design regarding to the martial fighter and similar classes. I was thinking about it, and I admit some players can feel angry when wizard excels and uses "I win button". However, 4E and Next Playtest shows when spells are very similar to martial powers or maneuvres then spells are boring, and not feeled as magic.

What is the solution of this problem? I really like the approach to spells presented in Dungeon Crawl Classics RPG (though the game is too much old-school IMO). There is not one effect of a spell, but avery spell has a few effects, and the effects are related to roll 1d10. For example:
- when you roll 1 then the effect will be bad for the caster
-  when you roll 2-3 then the effect will be weak
- when 4-6 then the effect will be standard
- when you roll 7-9 then the effect will be better then usually
- when you roll 10 then the effect will be extraordinary

I like this approach really much! You cannot say Wizards are too powerful - because they have to roll high, and fighters are great as well when you roll high on attack rolls. Magic feels savage (you never know if you master it) and spells may have some cool effects when you roll  1 or 10 on d10, so it feels extraordinary.

As I said, 4E and Next spells feels too much like common martial attacks to me. No "wow" effects. DCC approach is much more charming.
That would also present a way to scale spells.  Give a level bonus to the effect dice.

The one thing I'd worry about is that it might slow down play if nobody knows what effect to read and implement until after the wizard has rolled.  But at the same time, that surprise also makes for... well, surprise, which can be nice for its own sake.

I for one would like to see all At Will laser gun spells removed.  In my mind they blur the game play between martial and casters too much.  I prefer a game where the players are more unique and the party is a sum of their weaknesses and strengths.


I for one would like to see all At Will laser gun spells removed.  In my mind they blur the game play between martial and casters too much.  I prefer a game where the players are more unique and the party is a sum of their weaknesses and strengths.




Agreed.


I for one would like to see all At Will laser gun spells removed.  In my mind they blur the game play between martial and casters too much.  I prefer a game where the players are more unique and the party is a sum of their weaknesses and strengths.




Agreed.


Shug...

I'd rather see all spells be at will or encounter and just drop daily spells altogether. Having 1 attack per day is less than fun to me, no matter how earthshattering it is. Better to have more 'normal' attacks you can do more often instead of being the low AC serf with a crossbow after your spell is gone IMO. 

As far as "  Magic doesn't "feel" different from normal melee/missile attacks", you are just looking at the mechanics. To me, the fluff has much more to do with a 'feel' than the mechanics. Is a 3.5 burning hand wand any different than a flame thrower with the same stats? Or rusting grasp and a bottle of acid (other than the acid has range so it's better than magic).

I guess I've never really understood how the mechanics change the 'feel'. 

After having played for the first time this weekend, seeing a wizard in action, I have to agree. I remember the days when you had to worry about using spells wisely, not just throw around spells willy nilly. I was excited when I glanced at the character creation because I thought they had gone back to that (quick glance) with this wizard incarnation. Sadly my player was like "I am a battle mage so I can cast burning hands over and over and over again...hahaha" which put a very sad face on this panda.

I don't have a problem with wizards feeling OP sometimes, as a warrior I justify this as such "My axe will keep swinging all day, lets see you cast that 9th level spell all day". I want magic back like it was in 2nd ed, I am ok with making the wizards a bit hardier (as they are trying to do) but lets not kill the idea of magic, How you attack is not important, what my character does with his attack is.

I think the cleric needs at will laser gun spells removed. I like the idea for a wizard who can't really for much without them
The wizard is a glass cannon. In open areas... the wizard is the most effective player in the party hands down. In tunnels, if he had burning hands, he'd be pretty good for a little bit... but very quickly he'd get taken out if the other party members don't protect him.

Personally I like at-will spells because the do make the wizards feel like they have more options. I REALLY like the encounter spells that fourth edition had... I see the other side too though... Wizards should have limits. The lazer gun style seems more fitting for the warlock.

The answer is a combination of 4e and 3e... have a limit that refreshes after an encounter! So wizards have 3 of each prepared 0-level spell per encounter. Then leave the rest alone! Vancian style magic has its place.
I think the cleric needs at will laser gun spells removed. I like the idea for a wizard who can't really for much without them




Agreed, I think the cleric should be more of a melee combatant.  I mean they are equipped that way, right?  Heavy armor, melee weapons.  My concern though is that the cleric will feel insignificant in melee with the expertise dice rule in it's present form, namely deadly strike.  Imo it should only add the highest number rolled to damage.
What I'm thinking might be neat-o to see is say the wizard can do a bunch of at wills and encounters, ala 4e.  Say the at wills are the spells that hinder foes, like sleep or slow or what have you.  and then the encounter spells that mayhaps do damage over time, like I don't know, 5 damage per class level to such and such area of bad guys for instance... so they hinder the foes a little, do some damage, and then the fighters and rogues can come in and finish em off. 

Although personally, I did love it back in the day using the "I win" button, as a wizard.  I love to completely eradicate fools, doing 9,999 damage to an orc and obliterating it so badly that it's entire bloodline feels it = a o k in my book.  But that's just me.  haha.

I do understand what the op is saying.  And although he compared range and spells, I believe he meant "weapons versus spells" and how it just feels the same.  I can see what you're saying.  Flavor text and fluff isn't really enough of a difference.  It would be nicer if there were in game mechanics that separated them, I think. 
I have a great idea for how to make different classes "feel" different in a mechanical way (not just fluff). 

Use the dice differently!

For fighters, they use an "attack roll" with a certain bonus to see if they hit, but when a mage attacks have the defender roll instead to see if he can *not* be hit!  For warlocks, you could have both the attacker and the defender roll and compare results, and for clerics they could always use 2d10 where other classes use a d20.  Paladins would use 3d6, but would *also* roll a d20 to see if they got a critical hit or miss.  Druids would have their enemies roll a d8 and a d12 together to try and save against their spells.  And psyonics? They would use the custom dice from that new star wars game to find out if they hit or not and how much damage they did. 

Each and every class could have its own unique feel!

p.s. I'm only *mostly* kidding.

I agree with the OP.  Clerics and wizards get almost no spells, and what they do get is a half strength laser beam.  An archer is MUCH better than they are in damage, armor, and health.  But even warriors (melee or ranged) and monks still basically just spam one attack, like the clerics and wizards.  Only a rogue has variety, and that's just stealth (if possible) and attack.  So again, boring.


One good thing that 4e did was to give people variety in attacks.  Maybe they should do that in this game too, though modify it.  Wizards and clerics (until the playtest) have always had many spell slots to use to cast specialty, one time attacks.  Why not try that with warriors and rogues too?  Make cleave or flurry of blows, or sneak attack or whatever a slotted, depletable commodity.  You get X lvl1 manuevers, Y lvl 2, Z lvl3, ect.  Each level that you go up you get better manuevers, or can "upgrade" manuevers to do more added damage (like sneak attack).  It'll give variety on attacks, make you use tactics for when you want to expend them, make it so that one class can't just swing a sword all day long and severly outdamage another because all they get is a laser cannon that does half the damage.

You agree with the OP that the mechanics feel the same...
I agree with the OP.  



But your answer is to make the classes even more similar?!

One good thing that 4e did was to give people variety in attacks.  Maybe they should do that in this game too, though modify it.  Wizards and clerics (until the playtest) have always had many spell slots to use to cast specialty, one time attacks.  Why not try that with warriors and rogues too?  Make cleave or flurry of blows, or sneak attack or whatever a slotted, depletable commodity.


Colour me confused.

EDIT:
Also, my 666th post, after the crash reset my number to 0. Yay? 
Chandrak's awesome solutions to the 5-minute workday 'problem'
97183719 wrote:
Seeing as there is a disconnect between balance (quantifiable) and fun, (subjective and personal) discussing fun in a thread about balance because you find one system more enjoyable than another is as helpful as discussing religion in a thread about architectural engineering because you think cathedrals look prettier than outhouses.


But your answer is to make the classes even more similar?!

One good thing that 4e did was to give people variety in attacks.  Maybe they should do that in this game too, though modify it.  Wizards and clerics (until the playtest) have always had many spell slots to use to cast specialty, one time attacks.  Why not try that with warriors and rogues too?  Make cleave or flurry of blows, or sneak attack or whatever a slotted, depletable commodity.


Colour me confused.




That's one of the points that I was making.  They are lowering and lowering the number of spell slots every playtest it seems, making that wizards have less and less options.  Then, they are giving them a spammable attack that is single target damage.  Just like an archer.  Wizards is taking all of the diversity of choice out of what you can do.  It's becoming a one-move battle system, or something that isn't too far off, and thus completely repetitive and unoriginal.

And since people who like to play warriors and rogues are complaining so much about there being "all this choice" for wizards, why not take it in the other direction and show them why choice is good?  Make THEM rely upon ability slots to do anything besides a basic attack.  Take away the infinite amount of combat dice, infinite use of maneuvers, and consistantly high damage potentials.  In it's place, give them slots to choose what they want to do and how.  Limit the uses but increase their tactical planning, since they now won't be able to just spam all that damage every turn.  Make them similar in machanics to the casters.  I bet you THEN they will understand the importance of having more slots and choices.

It's not about being able to cast Mega Magic Blast 14,000 times and claim superiority over warriors and rogues.  It's about having OPTIONS to do something beyond a basic attack all battle long.  I don't care if mages end up a bit weaker than warriors (though not by much) in overall damage.  I want to be able to say, "I'd like to memorize all of these spells, the attacking ones, and status ones, the armor ones, and the summons," not, "I've got ONE slot and 15 choices.  I'm half as strong as a warrior with my basic attack.  Which of the 2-3 somewhat useful attack spells do I want to memorize so that I can actually do SOME damage this battle."

When you flip things on their heads and have to live by the rules that you make others follow, you can start to sympathis with other opinions.  Casters are horrible in this addition and get very few options to do anything.  If warriors and rogues suffered the same penalties there would be hell to raise from all sides hating the changes.