Simplifying spells and making a basic version of the game

So I've read bits of the most recent playtest packets and I've been keeping up with the legends and lore column. I find it interesting how Mearls wants a basic, standard and advanced version of the game. I really like this idea but I think a major change they should make in the basic game is simplifying spell descriptions.

Take the Earthquake spell for example, that spell has tons of rules in it for various situations. I find really long spell descriptions to be a pain to look up during the game. I think that when designing the basic rule set the designs should take a look at how the rules cyclopedia handled spells (which I'm sure they've already done to some extent). The earthquake spell in that version of the game was short and to the point.

I don't really care if the spells are more complex in the standard game or the advanced game because I'm sure some players and DMs would prefer the extra rules. I tend to be a less is more type of DM when it comes to rules in the game and I don't really want the rules to be super air-tight and try and list every situation.

Does anyone have any other ideas on what WoTC should do to make the basic game more accessible and simple? I would also be interested to see if they could try adding race as class as a rules module in the future.  

 
I suppose there are something they could do in that regards, but they can't actually do much without breaking the basic principle that characters are equivelent across versions.

If spells are different in basic then standard, it quickly becomes impossible to just take a wizard from basic to standard. I can see simplifying some of the rules for specific spells in basic, particularly high level spells that require a lot of special handling. It would probably be better to simply leave those spells out of basic if they require too much rules though.

"Simple" = prebuilt.
Just do not have a prebuilt wizard with earthquake.  Make it with magic missile.


If you want earthquake, that's fine, but you've modified your character and took a different spell, and thus moved to "standard".  Same as a fighter who modified his character and took a different manuver.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

"Simple" = prebuilt.
Just do not have a prebuilt wizard with earthquake.  Make it with magic missile.


If you want earthquake, that's fine, but you've modified your character and took a different spell, and thus moved to "standard".  Same as a fighter who modified his character and took a different manuver.


I agree. The basic cleric and wizard will each have simple to use spells pre-selected.

"Simple" = prebuilt.
Just do not have a prebuilt wizard with earthquake.  Make it with magic missile.


If you want earthquake, that's fine, but you've modified your character and took a different spell, and thus moved to "standard".  Same as a fighter who modified his character and took a different manuver.


I agree. The basic cleric and wizard will each have simple to use spells pre-selected.




Not sure that's possible: a Cleric has access to the whole spells list from which to pick his spells for the day. And the Wizard could as well get all available spells in his book with time.

Unless we say that for Basic game the spell list is reduced, which I don't think is the intention.

Actually I think the OP has a point here. The magic system as it is not friedly to newcomers. It would be good to have some streamlined way to present magic to them (which may actually benefit everyone else as well).         
"Simple" = prebuilt.
Just do not have a prebuilt wizard with earthquake.  Make it with magic missile.


If you want earthquake, that's fine, but you've modified your character and took a different spell, and thus moved to "standard".  Same as a fighter who modified his character and took a different manuver.


I agree. The basic cleric and wizard will each have simple to use spells pre-selected.




Not sure that's possible: a Cleric has access to the whole spells list from which to pick his spells for the day. And the Wizard could as well get all available spells in his book with time.

Unless we say that for Basic game the spell list is reduced, which I don't think is the intention.

Actually I think the OP has a point here. The magic system as it is not friedly to newcomers. It would be good to have some streamlined way to present magic to them (which may actually benefit everyone else as well).

It's not really any different.  

Basic clerics have a list of spells they always prepair.  Done.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

I like the idea of just not including the more complicated spells within the basic game, especially since the alternative is to dumb them down for the basic game or just not include such spells in any version of the game.

Actually, I would be okay with all spells in general just not being that complicated, but I know I'm in the minority on that one.

The metagame is not the game.



Basic clerics have a list of spells they always prepair.  Done.




Yes, that would be the path of least resistance, and a valid solution.
Still I find the magic system quite unwieldy for newcomers. Historically the 'solution' has been for them to begin playing with simpler (martial) classes, but I'd be happy for magic to become more accesible so that any player can comfortably play the class they want from start regardless of their expertise with the game.
Basic clerics have a list of spells they always prepair.  Done.


Yes, that would be the path of least resistance, and a valid solution.
Still I find the magic system quite unwieldy for newcomers. Historically the 'solution' has been for them to begin playing with simpler (martial) classes, but I'd be happy for magic to become more accesible so that any player can comfortably play the class they want from start regardless of their expertise with the game.

Well i'm still all for a martialspell damage dice blaster class with their own manuversmetamagic.

But this is how you'd do the cleric.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Actually, I would be okay with all spells in general just not being that complicated, but I know I'm in the minority on that one.



No, WotC has decided that they absolutly NEED their 150 pages of spells in the back of the book or they won't be able to entice their not-even-trying-to-conceal-it target audience. The game must be "simple" and "basic" only to the point where it does not effect the complex and space-wasting caster classes.
EVERY DAY IS HORRIBLE POST DAY ON THE D&D FORUMS. Everything makes me ANGRY (ESPECIALLY you, reader)
Well i'm still all for a martialspell damage dice blaster class with their own manuversmetamagic.

But this is how you'd do the cleric.

That is effectively reflavoring the fighter as an at-will caster. Not a bad idea, even for basic, since it would show a creative way to reflavor a class.

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Well i'm still all for a martialspell damage dice blaster class with their own manuversmetamagic.

But this is how you'd do the cleric.

That is effectively reflavoring the fighter as an at-will caster. Not a bad idea, even for basic, since it would show a creative way to reflavor a class.

Yes, except it will have stuff like changing damage types, and doing area damage.

guides
List of no-action attacks.
Dynamic vs Static Bonuses
Phalanx tactics and builds
Crivens! A Pictsies Guide Good
Power
s to intentionally miss with
Mr. Cellophane: How to be unnoticed
Way's to fire around corners
Crits: what their really worth
Retroactive bonus vs Static bonus.
Runepriest handbook & discussion thread
Holy Symbols to hang around your neck
Ways to Gain or Downgrade Actions
List of bonuses to saving throws
The Ghost with the Most (revenant handbook)
my builds
F-111 Interdictor Long (200+ squares) distance ally teleporter. With some warlord stuff. Broken in a plot way, not a power way.

Thought Switch Higher level build that grants upto 14 attacks on turn 1. If your allies play along, it's broken.

Elven Critters Crit op with crit generation. 5 of these will end anything. Broken.

King Fisher Optimized net user.  Moderate.

Boominator Fun catch-22 booming blade build with either strong or completely broken damage depending on your reading.

Very Distracting Warlock Lot's of dazing and major penalties to hit. Overpowered.

Pocket Protector Pixie Stealth Knight. Maximizing the defender's aura by being in an ally's/enemy's square.

Yakuza NinjIntimiAdin: Perma-stealth Striker that offers a little protection for ally's, and can intimidate bloodied enemies. Very Strong.

Chargeburgler with cheese Ranged attacks at the end of a charge along with perma-stealth. Solid, could be overpowered if tweaked.

Void Defender Defends giving a penalty to hit anyone but him, then removing himself from play. Can get somewhat broken in epic.

Scry and Die Attacking from around corners, while staying hidden. Moderate to broken, depending on the situation.

Skimisher Fly in, attack, and fly away. Also prevents enemies from coming close. Moderate to Broken depending on the enemy, but shouldn't make the game un-fun, as the rest of your team is at risk, and you have enough weaknesses.

Indestructible Simply won't die, even if you sleep though combat.  One of THE most abusive character in 4e.

Sir Robin (Bravely Charge Away) He automatically slows and pushes an enemy (5 squares), while charging away. Hard to rate it's power level, since it's terrain dependent.

Death's Gatekeeper A fun twist on a healic, making your party "unkillable". Overpowered to Broken, but shouldn't actually make the game un-fun, just TPK proof.

Death's Gatekeeper mk2, (Stealth Edition) Make your party "unkillable", and you hidden, while doing solid damage. Stronger then the above, but also easier for a DM to shut down. Broken, until your DM get's enough of it.

Domination and Death Dominate everything then kill them quickly. Only works @ 30, but is broken multiple ways.

Battlemind Mc Prone-Daze Protecting your allies by keeping enemies away. Quite powerful.

The Retaliator Getting hit deals more damage to the enemy then you receive yourself, and you can take plenty of hits. Heavy item dependency, Broken.

Dead Kobold Transit Teleports 98 squares a turn, and can bring someone along for the ride. Not fully built, so i can't judge the power.

Psilent Guardian Protect your allies, while being invisible. Overpowered, possibly broken.

Rune of Vengance Do lot's of damage while boosting your teams. Strong to slightly overpowered.

Charedent BarrageA charging ardent. Fine in a normal team, overpowered if there are 2 together, and easily broken in teams of 5.

Super Knight A tough, sticky, high damage knight. Strong.

Super Duper Knight Basically the same as super knight with items, making it far more broken.

Mora, the unkillable avenger Solid damage, while being neigh indestuctable. Overpowered, but not broken.

Swordburst Maximus At-Will Close Burst 3 that slide and prones. Protects allies with off actions. Strong, possibly over powered with the right party.

Works as long as the DM can add and remove else you end up with rope trick abuses and op spell combos.
Well i'm still all for a martialspell damage dice blaster class with their own manuversmetamagic.

But this is how you'd do the cleric.

That is effectively reflavoring the fighter as an at-will caster. Not a bad idea, even for basic, since it would show a creative way to reflavor a class.

 


those crossouts are pointless

Yet I still would love to see such a tradition.  I would love to see a real 100% atwill tradition in the style of the wild mage that wields magic on the D20.

The current mage is an atwill caster with ray of frost and shocking grasp as their sword and bow yet few complain on how that offsets the ftr.
So I've read bits of the most recent playtest packets and I've been keeping up with the legends and lore column. I find it interesting how Mearls wants a basic, standard and advanced version of the game. I really like this idea but I think a major change they should make in the basic game is simplifying spell descriptions.

Take the Earthquake spell for example, that spell has tons of rules in it for various situations. I find really long spell descriptions to be a pain to look up during the game. I think that when designing the basic rule set the designs should take a look at how the rules cyclopedia handled spells (which I'm sure they've already done to some extent). The earthquake spell in that version of the game was short and to the point.

I don't really care if the spells are more complex in the standard game or the advanced game because I'm sure some players and DMs would prefer the extra rules. I tend to be a less is more type of DM when it comes to rules in the game and I don't really want the rules to be super air-tight and try and list every situation.

Does anyone have any other ideas on what WoTC should do to make the basic game more accessible and simple? I would also be interested to see if they could try adding race as class as a rules module in the future.  

 



This is a very laudable goal.

Personally I think that the Basic game should be built with a limited number of spells, especially given that every spell is a separate subsystem often totally unique.

Preselection of spells is a good step, IF it happens in Basic, but a limited "Basic Spell List" would also be a good thing.

Ideally I'd like to see a caster (similar to a Warlock) with an even more simple mechanic than (the relatively complex) Vancian casting system with Wizard spells.

Actually, I would be okay with all spells in general just not being that complicated, but I know I'm in the minority on that one.



No, WotC has decided that they absolutly NEED their 150 pages of spells in the back of the book or they won't be able to entice their not-even-trying-to-conceal-it target audience. The game must be "simple" and "basic" only to the point where it does not effect the complex and space-wasting caster classes.



Dear gods yes, I need my 150 pages of spells in the PHB and if they could find room to expand it to 250 pages I would be even happier.
Actually, I would be okay with all spells in general just not being that complicated, but I know I'm in the minority on that one.



No, WotC has decided that they absolutly NEED their 150 pages of spells in the back of the book or they won't be able to entice their not-even-trying-to-conceal-it target audience. The game must be "simple" and "basic" only to the point where it does not effect the complex and space-wasting caster classes.



Dear gods yes, I need my 150 pages of spells in the PHB and if they could find room to expand it to 250 pages I would be even happier.



Sure.

And I even disagree that this is a bad thing (as long as one character doesn't have access to all of them at once).

But it IS a bad thing if the supposedly Basic Arcane class has to select spells from that giant list.

I'd prefer an ACTUALLY Basic class built with class abilities rather than spells.

After all, it's supposed to be the easy introduction...

So where is the "Harry Potter" class, for all those kids who aren't ready for a (complex and resource management heavy) Vancian Wizard but are EXACTLY the market WotC need to capture to make Next a success? 
So where is the "Harry Potter" class, for all those kids who aren't ready for a (complex and resource management heavy) Vancian Wizard but are EXACTLY the market WotC need to capture to make Next a success? 

I dunno what Harry Potter you've been reading, but the kids I've read about were constantly casting obscure charms - like a discrete spell that causes a glowing bat to fly around at random, or one that causes severe leg cramps - with no real limit on how many they could learn, and they'd always have to worry about casting fatigue and conserving energy so they wouldn't be caught defenseless.

In many ways, a long spell list on a spontaneous caster with round-per-round-regenerating or encounter-based Fatigue Points is much, much more difficult to play than a mere Vancian caster who only needs to prepare spells once per day and expends them wholesale.

The metagame is not the game.

I guess it goes to the difference in how people read things.

Personally?

I see a 3.X Warlock when I read HP.

But that's me.

I do also see the Warlock as our best bet for a SIMPLE Arcane caster.

Because I can hear the lie in "Vancian Wizards ARE simple" because of YEARS of "Fighters HAVE TO BE simple because Wizards are so complex" arguments. 
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.  There is no need for lesser and greater versions of each spell.  One spell that scales by level of the slot or the spellcaster or both.  No reason for spells which change one aspect across levels.  Spells need to be combined for efficiency.  When spellcasters require looking up spells and absorbing playtime, this needs to be fixed.  This happens in every game I play.  I should ban spellcasters from certain individuals but that will never happen.  Maybe a timing mechanism but that would take the fun out of it.
what is wrong with spells as they have been traditionally listed. to limit down a spell list for diffrent levels of difficulty is insane and costly because if you want to play advanced you need to own all the basic and middle level stuff. i want one book that works for all levels of play. and not giving any options but a few spells in basic will ruin things when you go to a more advanced version and that character has to be scrapped because he has no lower level spells that are good with the more advanced rules. spellcasters taking too much time to do their turns is not a game mechanics issue its a crappy dm who has no controll over his game

Actually, I would be okay with all spells in general just not being that complicated, but I know I'm in the minority on that one.



I'm with you here... 
Not being complicated doesn't necessarily mean limiting options for a spell.

For example, you could have a spell like Earthquake merely state something like that: "This spell creates mild earth tremors capable of knocking down books from shelves and candles from sconces, in an area of X ft," or maybe if it's something more powerful, "This spell creates strong tremors capable of cracking walls and taking down weaker buildings, in an area of X ft."

And the rest is up to interpretation.
You don't need a rule to every possible situation the spell can create in its description. It already says what the spell does.
And if the DM's interpretation is not enough for some players you can always refer to general rules.

For example, a mage wants to use his Earthquake spell to knock down people in the area and make them kiss the floor.
The DM calls for a Balance check or Dexterity save with DC apropriate for the tremor.
what is wrong with spells as they have been traditionally listed.

I think the original complaint is that the spell list as they have been traditionally listed contains a significant number of spells with complicated mechanical effects, and a number of spells that are redundant.
to limit down a spell list for diffrent levels of difficulty is insane and costly because if you want to play advanced you need to own all the basic and middle level stuff. i want one book that works for all levels of play. and not giving any options but a few spells in basic will ruin things when you go to a more advanced version and that character has to be scrapped because he has no lower level spells that are good with the more advanced rules. spellcasters taking too much time to do their turns is not a game mechanics issue its a crappy dm who has no controll over his game

I think you are misunderstanding.

What has been implied by the designers is that you have effectively 3 "types" of D&DN: D&DN-Basic, D&DN-Core, and D&DN-Module. The first is the most basic level of the game possible; no feats, no backgrounds, no maneuvers, as bare a character as you can have and still call it an RPG. The second is the game as presented in the playtest, or a similar level of complexity. The third is the second plus any additional modules to provide whatever additional rules or rules tweaks that your group may want. The current assumption is that you will have the first two types in the core book, with some of the rules modules in the core book as well, with additional splatbooks following providing other rules modules.

What is being said in this thread is that the first one - D&DN-Basic as is contains spells that are too complex for total beginners or groups that want the least amount of rules overhead possible.

The designers of D&D have more-or-less said that they want characters to be totally interchangable between all three levels of play - a character made in the highest can join a game with the lowest complexity and vice-versa, more or less seamlessly (obviously if you made it in the lowest complexity, you will have to make additional choices going up in complexity; likewise, if you made it in the highest, you won't have direct access to functionality and abilities if you go down in complexity).

A DM can encourage a player to keep his turn as short as possible, but shy of playing that player's character -for- him, there is only so much that can be done.

Supporting an edition you like does not make you an edition warrior. Demanding that everybody else support your edition makes you an edition warrior.

Why do I like 13th Age? Because I like D&D: http://magbonch.wordpress.com/2013/10/16/first-impressions-13th-age/

AzoriusGuildmage- "I think that you simply spent so long playing it, especially in your formative years with the hobby, that you've long since rationalized or houseruled away its oddities, and set it in your mind as the standard for what is and isn't reasonable in an rpg."

Simple Casters will be available if you use the Advanced Module: Alternate Magic System.
I have an answer for you, it may even be the truth.
One way to simplify the game is to limit all spell and monster descriptions to 1/4 of a page.
to limit down a spell list for diffrent levels of difficulty is insane and costly because if you want to play advanced you need to own all the basic and middle level stuff. i want one book that works for all levels of play.

How so? Basic would simply be a subset of the spells in standard. All spells in basic could be included in standard. As well as far as advanced has been explained so far it's not so much additional content as it is optional rule modules for things like tactical combat, changing the way resources regenerate, adding certain flavours, or advanced play concepts such as fortresses. So as far as what you are looking for it would simply be the standard PHB. The standard PHB would have all the spells included, no need to "reference the basic, standard, and advanced spell lists" idea you seem to have.

and not giving any options but a few spells in basic will ruin things when you go to a more advanced version and that character has to be scrapped because he has no lower level spells that are good with the more advanced rules.

Well basic characters are just mostly pre-chosen run-of-the-mill character designs. It's practically like having a pre-gen character without any fluff and given a few extra choices (such as stats). So this should in no way be an issue as the run-of-the-mill character design should do just fine in any game.

Simple Casters will be available if you use the Advanced Module: Alternate Magic System.



So the basic game, 

for new players,

will have NO simple Arcane or Divine classes for new players who don't want to play Martial character concepts.

...

I'm sorry,

but that's absolutely, unquestionably, bad design. 
Simple Casters will be available if you use the Advanced Module: Alternate Magic System.

So the basic game, 

for new players,

will have NO simple Arcane or Divine classes for new players who don't want to play Martial character concepts.

...

I'm sorry,

but that's absolutely, unquestionably, bad design. 

+1. There needs to be simple casters that don't use "spells", or at least have the spells be very simple in their mechanics. That doesn't mean that they need to be limited to strictly damage spells. Even illusion and alteration spells can be simplified mechanically, which have been problematically complex (in terms of resolution) in previous editions.

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Simple Casters will be available if you use the Advanced Module: Alternate Magic System.



Is the term irony.... or umm what?
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

D&D Next is not a game designed to be simple or easy for new players. It is not about producing an easily moddable elegant core. Do not fool yourself into thinking so.

No, D&D next is a game designed to bend over backwards to tradition and "that old school feel". That includes complex convoluted rules, complex casters and vaguely worded spells, multiple subsystems that could have been consolidated, and features thrown about as if at random.
To me the simple magic is exemplified by may use mental attributes on what would normally be done with physical actions. (..and with "differing" limits.)

The differing limits part is where it gets tricky.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

D&D Next is not a game designed to be simple or easy for new players. It is not about producing an easily moddable elegant core. Do not fool yourself into thinking so.

No, D&D next is a game designed to bend over backwards to tradition and "that old school feel". That includes complex convoluted rules, complex casters and vaguely worded spells, multiple subsystems that could have been consolidated, and features thrown about as if at random.



They cynic in me wants to say "yes, exactly".

But the design team keep SAYING that this isn't true.

Now all the design they have been doing seems to differ from what they are saying, but that MIGHT just be this stage in development.

If they are actually true to the design goals they have stated then we should be able to sell them on simple caster classes, Arcane and Divine, to include in the Basic game.

Not to replace the Wizard or Cleric (though, really, they should it's not worth the fight with the grognards who tell us "it doesn't matter if things are core or options" then whine like 2 year olds anytime someone points out that something "traditional" would be better as an option for advanced play) but in addition to them.

So new players, or those who just don't want to manage a complex class, have something to play when they want to build an Arcane or Divine character concept.

Rather than just saying "don't like Martial characters? Then you HAVE TO play a complex class. Sux 2 b u."           
Simple Casters will be available if you use the Advanced Module: Alternate Magic System.



So the basic game, 

for new players,

will have NO simple Arcane or Divine classes for new players who don't want to play Martial character concepts.

...

I'm sorry,

but that's absolutely, unquestionably, bad design. 



Yeah, you always want to start with the simplest possible system then add complexity with modules, not subtract it.

The base game should always be the simplest possible variation with modules adding complexity.
Let's start with spell levels: we have 20 character levels but only 9 spell levels. Puzzling. Even worse: they don't match, so that to cast a lv 5 spell your caster needs to be of an higher level than 5. The correspondance is arbitrarily set in a table (which is different for each class).
Imagine you are a newcomer: this won't make any sense to you. Actually it doesn't make sense at all, we just happen to be used to it.
Yes, please.
ONE DOES NOT SIMPLY PLAY A WIZARD IN D | Generated image from memes,one does not simply generated with the Imgflip Meme Generator
Simplify. Simplify. Simplify.  There is no need for lesser and greater versions of each spell.  One spell that scales by level of the slot or the spellcaster or both.  No reason for spells which change one aspect across levels.  Spells need to be combined for efficiency.  When spellcasters require looking up spells and absorbing playtime, this needs to be fixed.  This happens in every game I play.  I should ban spellcasters from certain individuals but that will never happen.  Maybe a timing mechanism but that would take the fun out of it.



This is how I feel about it. The massive spell list in D&D could easily be trimmed down to between 30 and 50 customizable, scaleable spells. Things like "ice" and "fire" and the like could be matters of interpretation per spell. If this seems odd to anyone, I encourage them to check out Savage Worlds, which does a bang-up job of paring things down to their mechanical differences. No need for web, entangle, and black tentacles, when those are all expressions of the same basic spell. 

The one thing Savage Worlds doesn't do is make all "powers" (which is what they call these basic building blocks, because they are only "spells" when wizards use them, versus "miracles" or "psionics" or "superpowers") available upon character creation. There are some powers one can't access until higher levels. Me, I would rather have them all available, but grow more powerful as one grows in level. Not only that, but it would be great if casters could select to cast them at lower power to save points.

Anyway, it's pretty simple and would work for basic, standard, and advanced D&D. 
The wizard could be made pretty simple for basic d&d by making it an evoker and reducing the spell list to a much shorter form. While sholarly wizards may more fit the straight down the middle sort of path for basic characters, the larger amount of spells might make it harder to pick up and make the spell list reduction more difficult. I'd say the spell list could be reduced to:
Show
Cantrips
Light
Ray of Frost
Shocking Grasp

Level 1 Spells
Burning Hands
Detect Magic
Magic Missile
Shield
Thunderwave

Level 2 Spells
Levitate
Melf’s Acid Arrow
Mirror Image
Scorching Ray
Spider Climb

Level 3 Spells
Dispel Magic
Fireball
Lightning Bolt
Water Breathing

Level 4 Spells
Dimension Door
Ice Storm
Stoneskin
Wall of Fire

Level 5 Spells
Cloudkill
Cone of Cold
Telekinesis
Teleport

Level 6 Spells
Chain Lightning
Disintegrate
Sunbeam

Level 7 Spells
Finger of Death
Mass Invisibility
Prismatic Spray

Level 8 Spells
Otto’s Irresistible Dance
Sunburst

Level 9 Spells
Meteor Swarm
Power Word Kill


This list is I beleive will reduce the number of spells to a reasonable amount (34) of which an evoker would receive up to 75% (26) of those by level 20. This allows the player some interesting choices early on, and at least some option as to how which spells they have at final level. This is less then half the original spell book size for the wizard and offers mostly straigh forward abilities with some options for more interesting spells, but mostly is a cmbat oriented list (which makes sense for new players, and especially new DM's).

In my experience with players getting and not-quite-getting things, what's really important is that the first few levels are simple. Earthquake is an individually complicated spell, but by the time a player's character can cast Earthquake, the player has been playing that character for months, most likely. Also, while Earthquake has lots of rules, it's relatively easy to understand because it's a resonant spell, but it's mostly okay because it's such a late game thing.

I also think that being intuitive is at least as important as being simple. These are often the same thing, but if something works the way you expect it to work, that's an enormous mental stepping stone. One weird example of this is that, in my experience at least, new players "get" 3.5 clerical casting better than they get 3.5 wizard casting, even though they're very similar. 3.5 wizards work nothing at all like how anybody expects a wizard to work; it's actively fighting against intuition. 3.5 clerics use a similar system, but I think people have fewer intuitions about how divine magic works, so it's not fighting intuition as much. (Although it's still difficult.) Similarly, people get the role of a 3.5 wizard a little better than they understand that a cleric is usually a melee fighter, because the archetypical miracle worker is not a melee fighter. New wizard players often gravitate towards the damage-dealing cantrips even though those spells are "bad" because they believe that a
Wizard is supposed to fight by casting spells, because that's how a lower-case-w-wizard fights.

I think it's possible to shoehorn the wizard casting system into something that's at least vaguely intuitive. You'd want to probably arrange things to be as much as possible like the 3.5 sorcerer, but with at-will cantrips. Definitely no spell preparation; every spell the character knows is available every day. Have the character learn a fixed set of spells, and when they learn a spell, they actually literally know the spell (like a sorcerer; 3.5 wizards know zero spells, save for arguably Read Magic.) The playtest wizard is already most of the way there. The complexity of individual spells isn't as important. (Although with a fixed set of spells, even with all of them available every day, general-purpose spells are probably better than niche-y spells.)
Dwarves invented beer so they could toast to their axes. Dwarves invented axes to kill people and take their beer. Swanmay Syndrome: Despite the percentages given in the Monster Manual, in reality 100% of groups of swans contain a Swanmay, because otherwise the DM would not have put any swans in the game.
I think there can be a "simple" caster version for most, if not all, of the schools. The trick is to keep to the overall useful non-niche effects, both combat-centric and utility. Having them use actual spells is not necessary. An AEDU model might be the right candidate for a "simple" caster.

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Problem with an AEDU model caster for basic is that it would probably have to be in addition to the Wizard as Wizards are such an integral core piece of D&D that everyone expects to always be there. This means we still need to consider how the basic wizard will play as it almost certainly will be included. Since basic characters do not differ mechanically from other editions, the only way to simplify is to make and reduce choices for players. The best way to do this with a vancian caster is to choose his spells, or use a much smaller spell list. I'm more on the side of the second as it allows for some variety while still removing overly confusing or complicated spells and making the overall choices more straightforward and simple. You could even go as far as to choose the level of spell the character takes at each level, or give a specific set of options at each level, maybe even a binary choice so second level you'd choose between say Burning Hands or Thunderwave. This would mean players would be choosing from a much smaller pool each level while still being mechanically consistent and having some choice as to what spells they have.