[Mike Mearls] Simple Fighters and Complex casters

Some quotes from Twitter:

"Mike Mearls ‏: I think we finally solved the tension between offering a class that can be interesting and one that can be simple."

No, no you didn't. The Fighter is still pretty boring eve if you don't take the most basic options, and its still too complex for the 'hit it, then hit it again' crowd.

"Mike Mearls ‏: That's a trickier thing to do, because casters by definition lean more on exceptions-based rules, even in simplest form."

This was in response to someone asking why we don't have simple casters along with simple Fighters.

Its ok Mike, even the best of us get writers block every once in a while. Here let me make a simple caster for you:

Mage


Mages are the channelers of raw arcane magic. They throw raw power and convert it to the effect they want through sheer force of will. Unlike a Sorcerer they aren't inborn with magic energy. They still must store it up like a Wizard. The difference is they do this automatically throughout the day and without complex arcane practices and formulas. They slowly draw in power from the surrounding environment and store it up like a dam stores water.

Creating a Mage
When you create a character whose first class is Mage, you gain these benefits.
Ability Adjustment: +1 to your Intelligence or Constitution score. You use Intelligence to form the magic into your desired effect and you use Constitution to store up the magical energies.
Starting Hit Points: 6 + your Constitution modifier.
Armor and Shield Proficiencies: None
Weapon Proficiencies: Daggers, Darts, Slings, Quarter Staffs, and Light Crossbows.

You can make a Mage quickly by following these suggestions.
Suggested Background: Sage
Suggested Specialty: Hedge Mage
Suggested Equipment: Adventuring Clothes, 2 Daggers, Adventurer's Kit, 64gp, and 8 sp.

Class Features
A Mage gains the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per Mage level.
Hit Points: 1d6 (or 4) + your Constitution modifier per Wizard level gained.

The Mage
            Spell
           Casting
           Bonus /
Level   Damage           Class Features
1          +1 / 1d10       Spell Casting, Mage Intuition
2          +1 / 1d10       Arcane Control (2nd)
3          +2 / 1d10       Elemental Shift (3rd)
4          +2 / 2d6         Arcane Control (4th)
5          +2 / 2d6         Elemental Shift (5th)
6          +2 / 2d6         Arcane Control (6th)
7          +2 / 2d6         Elemental Shift (7th)
8          +2 / 3d6         Arcane Control (8th)
9          +3 / 3d6         Elemental Shift (9th)
10        +3 / 3d6         Arcane Control (10th)
11        +3 / 3d6         Elemental Shift (11th)
12        +3 / 3d6         Arcane Control (12th)
13        +3 / 4d6         Elemental Shift (13th)
14        +4 / 4d6         Arcane Control (14th)
15        +4 / 4d6         Elemental Shift (15th)
16        +4 / 4d6         Arcane Control (16th)
17        +4 / 4d6         Elemental Shift (17th)
18        +4 / 4d6         Arcane Control (18th)
19        +5 / 5d6         Elemental Shift (19th)
20        +5 / 5d6         Arcane Control (20th)

Level 1: Spell Casting
You store up magical energies almost unconsciously and then wield that stored energies to create a variety of effects. Each round you can use a your action to fling some magical energy at a target of your choice. Each time you level up you learn a new way to form the energy into an effect. At first level you figure out how to form your magical energy into a damaging ball that you throw at enemies.
Benefit: You can use your action to fling a ball of magic energy at an enemy within 50 feet of you. You make an attack roll adding your Spell Casting Bonus and your Intelligence modifier against the targets AC. If it hits it deals 1d8 + your Intelligence modifier damage.

Level 1: Mag Intuition
You have a knack for identifying Arcane creatures and knowing about magical effects.
Benefit: You have advantage on all checks that involve identifying magical creatures or spell effects.

Level 2: Arcane Control
You can shape the magical energies to have specific effects on their targets.
Benefit: You can alter the magical energies to have specific effects. At 2nd level and each even level afterward you can choose an effect that you can then after add to any Spell Casting attack that doesn't have an Elemental Shift or another Arcane Control used on it.
At 2nd- 4th you can choose between:
Fear - The target makes a Charisma saving throw, if they fail they must move away from you on their turn until the end of their next turn.
Charm - The target makes a Charisma saving throw, if they fail they cannot target you with an attack and you have advantage on social checks with them until the end of their next turn.
Partial Blindness - The target has disadvantage on attacks until the end of their next turn.
Drowsy - The target is drowsy and moves at half speed.
6th - 8th you can choose from the previous list or from these:
Acid - The target takes 1d6 extra damage per round until they succeed at a Constitution saving throw.
Immobilized - The target makes a Dexterity or Strength save, if they fail they are immobilized until the end of their next turn.
Paralyzed - The target makes a Constitution save, if they fail they are paralyzed until the start of their next turn.
10th - 12th you can choose from a previous list or from these:
Confusion - The target makes a Wisdom saving throw or on their turn they 1d6: 1-2:move in a random direction, 3-4: attack the nearest creature, or 5-6: do nothing.
Difficult Terrain - The 5' area around the target becomes difficult terrain requiring an extra 5' of movement to move out of.
Feebleness - The target makes an Intelligence save or they get disadvantage on strength based rolls (including attacks, saves, and checks) until the end of your next turn.
14th - 16th you can choose from a previous list or from these:
Dominate - The target makes a Charisma save or you can make them move, attack, or cast a cantrip on their turn.
Disintegrate - The target makes a Constitution save, on a failure they take 1d4 points of 'disintegrate' which disappear after an extended rest. 'Disintegrate' points stack with other 'disintegrate' points. If the disintegrate points equal remaining hit points of the target, that target is destroyed along with all equipment.
Turn to Stone - The target makes a Constitution save, on a failure they take 1d4 points of 'Petrify' which disappear after an extended rest. 'Petrify' points stack with other 'Petrify' points. If the 'Petrify' points equal remaining hit points of the target, that target is turned to stone along with all carried or worn equipment.
18th - 20th you can choose from a previous list or from these:
Death - The target makes a Constitution save, on a failure they take 1d6 points of 'death' which disappear after an extended rest. 'Death' points stack with other 'death' points. If the 'death' points equal remaining hit points of the target, that target is killed along with all equipment.
Reverse Gravity - The target makes a Dexterity save, on a failure the 5' area around them reverses gravity and the target begins to fall upward for 1 round (About 30 feet into the air). If they succeed at their save they instead use their reaction to move 5' in any direction they can normally move. The Mage can choose to give up their next action to sustain this effect, each round the target gets a save and if successful they move 5' and fall.

Level 3: Elemental Shift
You have learned to infuse an element into your magical attack.
Benefit: you gain the ability to change the damage type of your magical attack to one chosen from this list: Acid, Cold, Fire, Force, Lightning, Necrotic, Poison, Psychic, Radiant, and Thunder. At every odd level you can choose another element. You can only choose one element at a time per attack from those elements you know.

You can add more of the effects. This was just a quick 10 minute write up...

"Mike Mearls : ‏ it's actually a big reason why pal/rgr use spells - forces a lot more room between them and fighter."

Yeah, doesn't really differentiate them unless you make it a unique mechanic rather than spells. Instead it just looks like you made a multiclass character. I mean what's the difference between a Ranger and a multiclass Fighter/Druid, not much...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Giving spells to everyone to better differentiate them is indeed not very inspiring.
Looks like a pretty good class - I dunno that "Mage" is a great name for it. I think Warmage or Battlemage would be better-suited. As a class all about combat, the name should befit its task. Like how "fighters", y'know, fight. Or perhaps just Evoker?
I don't use emoticons, and I'm also pretty pleasant. So if I say something that's rude or insulting, it's probably a joke.
Looks like a pretty good class - I dunno that "Mage" is a great name for it. I think Warmage or Battlemage would be better-suited. As a class all about combat, the name should befit its task. Like how "fighters", y'know, fight. Or perhaps just Evoker?



Yeah, I mean you could add more effects and the option to drop the damage or whatever if you wanted a non-combat class. I forgot to up the damage as the Mage levels though...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Writing a class is only half way there.

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

Writing a class is only half way there.



What's the other half? Convincing old school players that its ok to have a simpler caster? Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
Lokiare, you are sooo awsome.


I love your idea (although I would like to see it rounded out a little.)  
Writing a class is only half way there.



What's the other half? Convincing old school players that its ok to have a simpler caster?



That could take decades.

I was thinking along the lines of playtesting the class, silly.

Edit:  Then again it only took 4 years for old school players to throw a weaker caster in the dumpster.

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey


What's the other half? Convincing old school players that its ok to have a simpler caster? Smile



Don't worry, you'll get your simple caster. It might take a couple of years though.
On the Wizard alternative, it's still got too many options to be a "simple" class, especially with a lot of the status effects adding entirely new mechanics/condition tracks to keep track of.

Cut the number of abilities gained in half, and change up the way status effects work, and you might be getting somewhere.

Though I also notice your class says the damage starts at a d8, with no indication of how it improves as you level. Your table indicates a scaling damage, but shows it starting at a d10, and nothing in the write up states how these are supposed to interract even if the numbers did line up. 




Anyway, just for fun, here's my take on your mage, designed closer to the same line that the playtest Fighter is.

Show


Mage


Mages are the channelers of raw arcane magic. They throw raw power and convert it to the effect they want through sheer force of will. Unlike a Sorcerer they aren't inborn with magic energy. They still must store it up like a Wizard. The difference is they do this automatically throughout the day and without complex arcane practices and formulas. They slowly draw in power from the surrounding environment and store it up like a dam stores water.

Creating a Mage
When you create a character whose first class is Mage, you gain these benefits.
Ability Adjustment: +1 to your Intelligence or Constitution score. You use Intelligence to form the magic into your desired effect and you use Constitution to store up the magical energies.
Starting Hit Points: 6 + your Constitution modifier.
Armor and Shield Proficiencies: None
Weapon Proficiencies: Daggers, Darts, Slings, Quarter Staffs, and Light Crossbows.

You can make a Mage quickly by following these suggestions.
Suggested Background: Sage
Suggested Specialty: Hedge Mage
Suggested Equipment: Adventuring Clothes, 2 Daggers, Adventurer's Kit, 64gp, and 8 sp.

Class Features
A Mage gains the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per Mage level.
Hit Points: 1d6 (or 4) + your Constitution modifier per Wizard level gained.

The Mage
            Spell
             Casting
Level     Bonus     Class Features
1          +1         Spell Casting, Elemental Affinity, Spell Type, Modify Spell (1/encounter)
2          +1         Magic Feat
3          +2         -
4          +2         Abjuration
5          +2         Spell Potency (Roll Twice), Shape Spell
6          +2         -
7          +2         Arcane Control
8          +2         Magic Feat
9          +3         Modify Spell (2/encounter)
10        +3         Spell Potency (Roll Three Times)
11        +3         Metamagic 1/day
12        +3         -
13        +3         Magic Feat
14        +4         Metamagic 2/day
15        +4         Spell Potency (Roll Four Times)
16        +4         -
17        +4         Metamagic 3/day, Modify Spell (3/encounter)
18        +4         -
19        +5         -
20        +5         Metamagic 4/day, Spell Potency (Roll Five Times)

Level 1: Spell Casting
You store up magical energies almost unconsciously and then wield that stored energies to create a variety of effects. Each round you can use a your action to fling some magical energy at a target of your choice. At first level you figure out how to form your magical energy into a damaging ball that you throw at enemies.
Benefit: You can use your action to fling a ball of magic energy at an enemy within 50 feet of you. You make an attack roll adding your Spell Casting Bonus and your Intelligence modifier against the targets AC. If it hits it deals 1d6 + your Intelligence modifier damage. If it misses, you still deal half your normal damage.

Additionally, you gain several abilities to modify your magical energy as you become a more powerful Mage. At first level you start with two options (Elemental Affinity and Spell Type) as you gain levels you get access to more options. You may always apply a single modification to a spell for free. Once per encounter, you may add a second modification to your spell at 1st level. At level 9 this increases to twice per encounter, and at level 17 it is three times an encounter. You may choose to use more than one use of this on the same turn to apply multiple modifications to the same spell.

Level 1: Elemental Affinity
You can shape your magical energies to have an elemental damage type chosen at level 1. Each element comes with a set of benefits.
Benefit: Pick one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description.
Fire: Your spell deals fire damage, and you may reroll any ones on the damage roll.
Electricity: Your spells deal electricity damage, and the damage die is increased 1 step. (d6->d8->d10->d12)
Cold: Your spell deals cold damage and if the spell hits it reduces the target's speed by 10ft for 1 round.
Acid: Your spell deals acid damage and the following turn after successfully hitting a target, that target takes an additional 1 point of damage per damage die. 
Force: Your spell deals force damage and has its damage die reduced one step (d8->d6->d4->d3)

Level 1: Spell Type
You can shape your mystic energies into a more specific attack type than just a ball of energy.
Benefit: Pick one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description.

Missile: You give up the bonus damage from your intelligence modifier for the attack. The spell automatically hits. You may not apply spell potency to a missile, however, at 5th level you may use two missiles, at 10th level you may use 3 missiles, at 15th level you may use 4 missiles, and at 20th level you may use 5 missiles. These missiles may all either hit the same target, or different targets within 10ft of each other, as the caster desires.
Touch: The range of the spell is reduced to touch, but the damage die is increased by 2.
Incorporeal: The spell loses its visual effect, and instead directly attacks the target. Rather than an attack against AC, the spell now has a DC10+int mod+magic modifier, and is resisted by the target's Constituion or Wisdom (chosen at the time you pick this modification).

Level 2: Magic Feat
You are skilled in a variety of magical techniques, which give you the ability to keep your opponents guessing.
Benefit: You gain a magic feat of your choice as a bonus feat. You gain an additional magic feat of your choice at 8th and 13th level

Level 4: Abjuration
You are capable of disrupting the magic of other spellcasters, giving you the edge in combat against other casters.
Benefit: You gain training in a form of abjuration. These abjurations provide a defensive benefit, but require some concentration on the part of the Mage. Any time you activate an abjuration, it counts as a spell modification for that round (So if you wanted to activate counterspelling and still cast a lightning spell, you would have to use one use of your modify spell ability).

CounterspellingWhile this abjuration is active, if an opponent casts a spell, you may use a reaction to either give your ally advantage on the saving throw, or give the enemy caster disadvantage on the attack roll, as appropriate.
Dispel Effect: With this abjuration you may use a reaction to grant an ally an extra saving throw against a negative status effect inflicting them. If they are affected by more than one status effect, the Mage may choose which one to dispell. If the effect did not grant a saving throw initially, then treat it as a Will saving throw against DC15.
Mage Armor:  This abjuration gives the caster +4 AC while it is active.

Level 5: Spell Potency
Your skill with magic is such that your magic has become more potent, dealing more damage to those who incur your wrath.
Benefit:  When you roll damage for a spell you cast, you may roll your damage dice an extra time, and add the results together. At higher levels, you may roll this additional times: 3 times at 10th, 4 times at 15th, and 5 times at 20th. 

Level 5: Shape Spell
You can shape your spells into wider areas, allowing you to affect large numbers of individuals simultaneously.
Benefit: You choose one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description. The modifications from this category are not compatible with the Spell Type modifications. (ie you cannot make a Touch Cone spell, or a Ball Missile spell). All spell shapes cause the spell to lose the intelligence modifier bonus to damage, and allow targets within the area to make a dexterity save, DC10+spell mod+intelligence mod to take half damage from the attack.
Ball: Your normal ball of magical energy expands, dealing damage to all creatures within a 30ft radius area. 
Chain: Your spell hits a single target, then jumps to another target within 20ft. Each target must be within 20ft of the last, and loses 1 die of damage with each jump. Unlike other shapes, Chain spell gets to add intelligence modifer to damage dealt to each creature.
Cone: You shape your spell into a 40ft cone, originating from you, dealing damage to all creatures caught within the cone.
Line: You shape your spell into a 60ft line directly in front of you, dealing damage to all creatures caught in the line.

Level 7: Arcane Control
Your spells impart terrible side-effects on their target, making the crafty Mage a terrifying force on the battlefield.
Benefit: You choose one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description. All saving throws incurred by these effects are 10+magic modifier+intelligence modifier
Charm: Your spell deals no damage, but if the spell hits, the target makes a charisma saving throw. If they fail this save, the target cannot attack you or your allies and you have advantage on social rolls until the end of your next turn.
Confusion: If your spell hits, the target makes a will save. If they fail this save, at the start of each round they roll 1d6. 1-2:move in a random direction, 3-4: attack the nearest creature, 5: do nothing, or 6: Break free of the confusion.
Daze: If the spell hits, the target of this spell makes a will save, if they fail this save, they become dazed, losing their next action.
Death: Your spell gains 50% extra damage dice (round up). If the spell's damage is enough to drop the target below 0 hit points, they die instantly. If it is not, then only count the highest die roll towards damage done, rather than adding them all. (Example: At level 7 you cast a Death spell and deal 3d6+4 damage. This gives you 15 points of damage, the highest roll is a 5. If the target has 15 hp or less, he dies. If he has over 15 hp, he instead takes 9 points of damage)
Immobilize: If your spell hits, it reduces the target's movement speed by 20ft (reflex save for half) for 1 minute. This effect stacks. If the target's speed is reduced to 0, they become immobilized, and grant attackers advantage on any attacks against them.

Level 11: Metamagic
You are a true master of the Arcane Arts. You are capable of drawing upon reserves to make your spells much more potent than usual.
Benefit: Once per day you may apply one of the metamagics below to any spell you cast. When you apply this metamagic, you may also apply one extra modification to the spell for free. You need not pick a specific metamagic, you can apply any of the metamagics listed when you use the ability. At 14th, 17th, and 20th level you gain one additional use per day of Metamagic.

Empower Spell: You increase the damage die of the spell by one step and increase the number of damage dice rolled by 50% (round down). 
Maximize Spell: Your spell deals maximum damage.
Unerring Spell: You gain advantage on attack rolls and targets take disadvantage on saving throws from this spell.
Widen Spell: When using shape spell with this metamagic, your spell's area is doubled. Additionally you may choose to not target a number of specific creatures in the area equal to your intelligence modifier.



Sadly this is still more interesting than the Playtest Fighter, but I really couldn't even bring myself to write anything more boring. But anyway, my Mage follows a similar format to the Playtest Fighter in the form of "Get a couple of distinct options at certain levels, and choose which ones to use", but is different in that it gets fewer encounter uses, but gets at least one upgrade for free every round, giving it a little more flexibility and mages more room to be interesting. This Mage is also better at AoE than the Playtest Fighter, but at the cost of his AoE being another modification ability so he has to choose between using it and other stuff. The Metamagic at the end allows for some really potent combinations between the increased numbers and free extra spell modifications.
@Seerow: OMG that class is awesome! Fairly well thought out. It would need to be playtest to see how balanced it truly is, but my first impression is that it looks solid.

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Very nice work, guys, but I think the crux of the issue is fitting both "simple" and "complex" into the same class --- and furthermore, being able to customize exactly HOW complex you want your character to be as you progress.

The only way I could see such a setup working for the spellcasters (a la modular complexity) was if something like your class was the default but you could use feats to gain spell slots (similar to how force power acquisition worked in SWSE).
On the Wizard alternative, it's still got too many options to be a "simple" class, especially with a lot of the status effects adding entirely new mechanics/condition tracks to keep track of.

Cut the number of abilities gained in half, and change up the way status effects work, and you might be getting somewhere.

Though I also notice your class says the damage starts at a d8, with no indication of how it improves as you level. Your table indicates a scaling damage, but shows it starting at a d10, and nothing in the write up states how these are supposed to interract even if the numbers did line up. 




Anyway, just for fun, here's my take on your mage, designed closer to the same line that the playtest Fighter is.

Show


Mage


Mages are the channelers of raw arcane magic. They throw raw power and convert it to the effect they want through sheer force of will. Unlike a Sorcerer they aren't inborn with magic energy. They still must store it up like a Wizard. The difference is they do this automatically throughout the day and without complex arcane practices and formulas. They slowly draw in power from the surrounding environment and store it up like a dam stores water.

Creating a Mage
When you create a character whose first class is Mage, you gain these benefits.
Ability Adjustment: +1 to your Intelligence or Constitution score. You use Intelligence to form the magic into your desired effect and you use Constitution to store up the magical energies.
Starting Hit Points: 6 + your Constitution modifier.
Armor and Shield Proficiencies: None
Weapon Proficiencies: Daggers, Darts, Slings, Quarter Staffs, and Light Crossbows.

You can make a Mage quickly by following these suggestions.
Suggested Background: Sage
Suggested Specialty: Hedge Mage
Suggested Equipment: Adventuring Clothes, 2 Daggers, Adventurer's Kit, 64gp, and 8 sp.

Class Features
A Mage gains the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per Mage level.
Hit Points: 1d6 (or 4) + your Constitution modifier per Wizard level gained.

The Mage
            Spell
             Casting
Level     Bonus     Class Features
1          +1         Spell Casting, Elemental Affinity, Spell Type, Modify Spell (1/encounter)
2          +1         Magic Feat
3          +2         -
4          +2         Abjuration
5          +2         Spell Potency (Roll Twice), Shape Spell
6          +2         -
7          +2         Arcane Control
8          +2         Magic Feat
9          +3         Modify Spell (2/encounter)
10        +3         Spell Potency (Roll Three Times)
11        +3         Metamagic 1/day
12        +3         -
13        +3         Magic Feat
14        +4         Metamagic 2/day
15        +4         Spell Potency (Roll Four Times)
16        +4         -
17        +4         Metamagic 3/day, Modify Spell (3/encounter)
18        +4         -
19        +5         -
20        +5         Metamagic 4/day, Spell Potency (Roll Five Times)

Level 1: Spell Casting
You store up magical energies almost unconsciously and then wield that stored energies to create a variety of effects. Each round you can use a your action to fling some magical energy at a target of your choice. At first level you figure out how to form your magical energy into a damaging ball that you throw at enemies.
Benefit: You can use your action to fling a ball of magic energy at an enemy within 50 feet of you. You make an attack roll adding your Spell Casting Bonus and your Intelligence modifier against the targets AC. If it hits it deals 1d6 + your Intelligence modifier damage. If it misses, you still deal half your normal damage.

Additionally, you gain several abilities to modify your magical energy as you become a more powerful Mage. At first level you start with two options (Elemental Affinity and Spell Type) as you gain levels you get access to more options. You may always apply a single modification to a spell for free. Once per encounter, you may add a second modification to your spell at 1st level. At level 9 this increases to twice per encounter, and at level 17 it is three times an encounter. You may choose to use more than one use of this on the same turn to apply multiple modifications to the same spell.

Level 1: Elemental Affinity
You can shape your magical energies to have an elemental damage type chosen at level 1. Each element comes with a set of benefits.
Benefit: Pick one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description.
Fire: Your spell deals fire damage, and you may reroll any ones on the damage roll.
Electricity: Your spells deal electricity damage, and the damage die is increased 1 step. (d6->d8->d10->d12)
Cold: Your spell deals cold damage and if the spell hits it reduces the target's speed by 10ft for 1 round.
Acid: Your spell deals acid damage and the following turn after successfully hitting a target, that target takes an additional 1 point of damage per damage die. 
Force: Your spell deals force damage and has its damage die reduced one step (d8->d6->d4->d3)

Level 1: Spell Type
You can shape your mystic energies into a more specific attack type than just a ball of energy.
Benefit: Pick one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description.

Missile: You give up the bonus damage from your intelligence modifier for the attack. The spell automatically hits. You may not apply spell potency to a missile, however, at 5th level you may use two missiles, at 10th level you may use 3 missiles, at 15th level you may use 4 missiles, and at 20th level you may use 5 missiles. These missiles may all either hit the same target, or different targets within 10ft of each other, as the caster desires.
Touch: The range of the spell is reduced to touch, but the damage die is increased by 2.
Incorporeal: The spell loses its visual effect, and instead directly attacks the target. Rather than an attack against AC, the spell now has a DC10+int mod+magic modifier, and is resisted by the target's Constituion or Wisdom (chosen at the time you pick this modification).

Level 2: Magic Feat
You are skilled in a variety of magical techniques, which give you the ability to keep your opponents guessing.
Benefit: You gain a magic feat of your choice as a bonus feat. You gain an additional magic feat of your choice at 8th and 13th level

Level 4: Abjuration
You are capable of disrupting the magic of other spellcasters, giving you the edge in combat against other casters.
Benefit: You gain training in a form of abjuration. These abjurations provide a defensive benefit, but require some concentration on the part of the Mage. Any time you activate an abjuration, it counts as a spell modification for that round (So if you wanted to activate counterspelling and still cast a lightning spell, you would have to use one use of your modify spell ability).

CounterspellingWhile this abjuration is active, if an opponent casts a spell, you may use a reaction to either give your ally advantage on the saving throw, or give the enemy caster disadvantage on the attack roll, as appropriate.
Dispel Effect: With this abjuration you may use a reaction to grant an ally an extra saving throw against a negative status effect inflicting them. If they are affected by more than one status effect, the Mage may choose which one to dispell. If the effect did not grant a saving throw initially, then treat it as a Will saving throw against DC15.
Mage Armor:  This abjuration gives the caster +4 AC while it is active.

Level 5: Spell Potency
Your skill with magic is such that your magic has become more potent, dealing more damage to those who incur your wrath.
Benefit:  When you roll damage for a spell you cast, you may roll your damage dice an extra time, and add the results together. At higher levels, you may roll this additional times: 3 times at 10th, 4 times at 15th, and 5 times at 20th. 

Level 5: Shape Spell
You can shape your spells into wider areas, allowing you to affect large numbers of individuals simultaneously.
Benefit: You choose one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description. The modifications from this category are not compatible with the Spell Type modifications. (ie you cannot make a Touch Cone spell, or a Ball Missile spell). All spell shapes cause the spell to lose the intelligence modifier bonus to damage, and allow targets within the area to make a dexterity save, DC10+spell mod+intelligence mod to take half damage from the attack.
Ball: Your normal ball of magical energy expands, dealing damage to all creatures within a 30ft radius area. 
Chain: Your spell hits a single target, then jumps to another target within 20ft. Each target must be within 20ft of the last, and loses 1 die of damage with each jump. Unlike other shapes, Chain spell gets to add intelligence modifer to damage dealt to each creature.
Cone: You shape your spell into a 40ft cone, originating from you, dealing damage to all creatures caught within the cone.
Line: You shape your spell into a 60ft line directly in front of you, dealing damage to all creatures caught in the line.

Level 7: Arcane Control
Your spells impart terrible side-effects on their target, making the crafty Mage a terrifying force on the battlefield.
Benefit: You choose one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description. All saving throws incurred by these effects are 10+magic modifier+intelligence modifier
Charm: Your spell deals no damage, but if the spell hits, the target makes a charisma saving throw. If they fail this save, the target cannot attack you or your allies and you have advantage on social rolls until the end of your next turn.
Confusion: If your spell hits, the target makes a will save. If they fail this save, at the start of each round they roll 1d6. 1-2:move in a random direction, 3-4: attack the nearest creature, 5: do nothing, or 6: Break free of the confusion.
Daze: If the spell hits, the target of this spell makes a will save, if they fail this save, they become dazed, losing their next action.
Death: Your spell gains 50% extra damage dice (round up). If the spell's damage is enough to drop the target below 0 hit points, they die instantly. If it is not, then only count the highest die roll towards damage done, rather than adding them all. (Example: At level 7 you cast a Death spell and deal 3d6+4 damage. This gives you 15 points of damage, the highest roll is a 5. If the target has 15 hp or less, he dies. If he has over 15 hp, he instead takes 9 points of damage)
Immobilize: If your spell hits, it reduces the target's movement speed by 20ft (reflex save for half) for 1 minute. This effect stacks. If the target's speed is reduced to 0, they become immobilized, and grant attackers advantage on any attacks against them.

Level 11: Metamagic
You are a true master of the Arcane Arts. You are capable of drawing upon reserves to make your spells much more potent than usual.
Benefit: Once per day you may apply one of the metamagics below to any spell you cast. When you apply this metamagic, you may also apply one extra modification to the spell for free. You need not pick a specific metamagic, you can apply any of the metamagics listed when you use the ability. At 14th, 17th, and 20th level you gain one additional use per day of Metamagic.

Empower Spell: You increase the damage die of the spell by one step and increase the number of damage dice rolled by 50% (round down). 
Maximize Spell: Your spell deals maximum damage.
Unerring Spell: You gain advantage on attack rolls and targets take disadvantage on saving throws from this spell.
Widen Spell: When using shape spell with this metamagic, your spell's area is doubled. Additionally you may choose to not target a number of specific creatures in the area equal to your intelligence modifier.



Sadly this is still more interesting than the Playtest Fighter, but I really couldn't even bring myself to write anything more boring. But anyway, my Mage follows a similar format to the Playtest Fighter in the form of "Get a couple of distinct options at certain levels, and choose which ones to use", but is different in that it gets fewer encounter uses, but gets at least one upgrade for free every round, giving it a little more flexibility and mages more room to be interesting. This Mage is also better at AoE than the Playtest Fighter, but at the cost of his AoE being another modification ability so he has to choose between using it and other stuff. The Metamagic at the end allows for some really potent combinations between the increased numbers and free extra spell modifications.



I would totally play this class. I just can't get vancian casting (too much to read, too much exceptions) and this sounds very much fun and full of roleplaying improvisation.
Writing a class is only half way there.



What's the other half? Convincing old school players that its ok to have a simpler caster? Smile



Sorry, we've allready got simple casters.  You'll find them by opening any copy of OD&D/BECM/AD&D/AD&D2e....
I love how old school players are villified for simply wanting what WOTC or it's predecessors gave them for most of the life of D&D.   Having old school options isn't the same as having no new options.  But I think a vancian wizard and a fairly simple fighter isn't too much to ask for a game that provided exactly those things for years.   Especially consider D&D was undisputed King of fantasy roleplay during that time.

 
Honestly that looks like a weirdly altered version of the 3.5 warlock.

Of course it's easy to make a balanced blaster mage. What makes it hard is trying to make a spellcaster that does everything D&D players expect of a wizard or cleric - flying, nuking, raising the dead, casting Explosive Runes, using illusions and charm spells, and so on. Each of those abilities needs its own specific exception-based rules. I think that's what Mearls was referencing when he said spellcasters are inherently more complex.

Now, I'm hoping that the 5e warlock will be a good example of a fairly simple magic-based class. The earlier playtest version (though poorly balanced) worked along those lines - you only got a new spell/power every 2-3 levels, but they all scaled and were mostly pretty broad in their usefulness.
Honestly that looks like a weirdly altered version of the 3.5 warlock.

Of course it's easy to make a balanced blaster mage. What makes it hard is trying to make a spellcaster that does everything D&D players expect of a wizard or cleric - flying, nuking, raising the dead, casting Explosive Runes, using illusions and charm spells, and so on. Each of those abilities needs its own specific exception-based rules. I think that's what Mearls was referencing when he said spellcasters are inherently more complex.

Now, I'm hoping that the 5e warlock will be a good example of a fairly simple magic-based class. The earlier playtest version (though poorly balanced) worked along those lines - you only got a new spell/power every 2-3 levels, but they all scaled and were mostly pretty broad in their usefulness.

I think the point of creating a simple caster — the easiest of which to make is the "blaster" caster, much like how the easiest "simple" fighter to make is the "kill everything with basic attacks" fighter — is to provide players with the means to play particular thematically appropriate characters (which in this case would be a magical artillery spammer with little to no regard to "tactics" or "flexibility" as classically characterized by the wizard/cleric) within a relatively balanced framework.  Not so balanced as to be chess-like, but not so unbalanced as to be unplayable at certain points without heavy tweaking by the DM.

Forcing the complex-by-default wizard/cleric into a simplistic framework, all the while retaining the same level of options complexity as a classic wizard/cleric, seems a bit tough to achieve.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
You can already play a simple caster. Just take all blasting type spells/abilities/feats.
There are already simple casters in the last editions, so it's laughable when the devs' boss says that it's not possible.
But it's sure that it doesn't help when you start the design by considering that generalist should be the base of a class. It greatly helps the design of the specialists after that…
Very nice work, guys, but I think the crux of the issue is fitting both "simple" and "complex" into the same class --- and furthermore, being able to customize exactly HOW complex you want your character to be as you progress.

The only way I could see such a setup working for the spellcasters (a la modular complexity) was if something like your class was the default but you could use feats to gain spell slots (similar to how force power acquisition worked in SWSE).



Why does it need to be the same class?

I like the idea of a simple spellcaster and complex (vancian) spellcasters to counterbalance a simple fighter and more complex melee characters.

I think the examples in this thread are a pretty good starting point for what such a simple spellcaster could look like.

@CCS, I don't know what version of (A)D&D you used to play, but a high level Wizard in our games of AD&D 2E was not a simple caster along these lines.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

There are already simple casters in the last editions, so it's laughable when the devs' boss says that it's not possible.
But it's sure that it doesn't help when you start the design by considering that generalist should be the base of a class. It greatly helps the design of the specialists after that…

Yeah, the Elementalist (the simplest spellcaster in 4E) and the Bladesinger (very complex spellcaster in spite of simplicity in design... though still not as complex or as powerful as the Arcanist or Mage) are certainly simple classes as well as spellcasters, and the Bladesinger in particular showed promise in terms of how you could design an adaptable class, one that could be fairly simple or fairly complex depending on how it was designed.

I personally don't want spells dumbed down to support blasty mindset where you're on auto-pilot and don't need to use your mind. Both clerics and wizards are both expected to be either very wise, or very smart.

But I suppose you're entirely comfortable with non-casters being "dumbed down", in spite of the expectations of kings and barons to be very wise or very smart as well, considering how even with a team of advisors you'd still have to make decisions that would impact your kingdom/fortress as a whole... am I right?

The complexity is a natural side effect of the way spells work, and I love playing both casters and melee types, depending on my mood or on a whim.

False.  The way spells work is 100% dependent on how they are authored, and normally magic itself functions as a deus ex machina for a variety of stories, but that does not mean that a simple spellcaster that forms a magical sword of energy and initiates both telekineses and low-level mind control isn't any less valid a means to use spells or magic, as compared to the "I own reality" way that wizards have been played in D&D.

But when I'm playing a barbarian, I want it fast and brutal and simple. When I'm playing a fighter, I want it somewhat tactical but still simple and straightforward. When I play a wizard with dozens of spells, and some of those are not simply "do Xd6 of damage in Y area", then yes, I expect it to be more complex and that's a feature, not a bug.

But what about one of my players, the girl who wants to play as a fast, brutal and simple fireball shooter?  How about when I want to play a somewhat-tactical yet simple and straightforward magician?  Is D&D Next not for my group then, in spite of the fact that at least two editions offered support to our play style?

People who love playing classic wizards will not be happy playing a simple caster such as the one your descrive,  but the middle ground such as warlock or sorcerer should be simpler and more limited and damage oriented. That's what they should aim for, various levels of complexity supported in the PHB.

Perhaps that's why no one here is listing their versions of the "simple spellcaster" as "Wizard".

But not, "everything is as simple as the next class". Please, no. The homogeniety of classes is what killed the replayability of 4e for me. Causing damage is simply so much more fun and effective than sliding enemies around or slowing them down. My AD&D evoker would laugh at the paltry spell durations of 4e wizards effects, none of which are permanent or produce any effect whatsoever other than in pure combat. Wall of stone is one great example. You could memorize, say, four of those per day and try to trap your enemies or lay out the battlefield, or perhaps build up the castle's walls or your own keep with it. It's permanent. I like that. I don't want everything to be about causing damage.

Wizards shouldn't be played stupid, ergo they shouldn't be simplistic classes to play. It's their raison d'etre.

Hmm, I suppose you never toyed with 4E's rituals then.
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57047238 wrote:
If you're crossing the street and see a city bus barreling straight toward you with 'GIVE ME YOUR WALLET!' painted across its windshield, you probably won't be reaching for your wallet.
I Don't Always Play Strikers...But When I Do, I Prefer Vampire Stay Thirsty, My Friends
This is what I believe is the spirit of D&D 4E, and my deal breaker for D&D Next: equal opportunities, with distinct specializations, in areas where conflict happens the most often, without having to worry about heavy micromanagement or system mastery. What I hope to be my most useful contributions to the D&D Community: DM Idea: Collaborative Mapping, Classless 4E (homebrew system, that hopefully helps in D&D Next development), Gamma World 7E random character generator (by yours truly), and the Concept of Perfect Imbalance (for D&D Next and other TRPGs in development) Pre-3E D&D should be recognized for what they were: simulation wargames where people could tell stories with The Best Answer to "Why 4E?" Fun vs. Engaging
It's a cool concept, which means it'll be 100% rejected. I'd play it though
So, then, Mtl, you play the simple beatsticks and the complicated spellcasters in your games.  Everybody else should have the right to play complex beatsticks and simple spellcasters if they so desire.

Get it through your head: It's Not All About You.
On the Wizard alternative, it's still got too many options to be a "simple" class, especially with a lot of the status effects adding entirely new mechanics/condition tracks to keep track of.

Cut the number of abilities gained in half, and change up the way status effects work, and you might be getting somewhere.

Though I also notice your class says the damage starts at a d8, with no indication of how it improves as you level. Your table indicates a scaling damage, but shows it starting at a d10, and nothing in the write up states how these are supposed to interract even if the numbers did line up. 




Anyway, just for fun, here's my take on your mage, designed closer to the same line that the playtest Fighter is.

Show


Mage


Mages are the channelers of raw arcane magic. They throw raw power and convert it to the effect they want through sheer force of will. Unlike a Sorcerer they aren't inborn with magic energy. They still must store it up like a Wizard. The difference is they do this automatically throughout the day and without complex arcane practices and formulas. They slowly draw in power from the surrounding environment and store it up like a dam stores water.

Creating a Mage
When you create a character whose first class is Mage, you gain these benefits.
Ability Adjustment: +1 to your Intelligence or Constitution score. You use Intelligence to form the magic into your desired effect and you use Constitution to store up the magical energies.
Starting Hit Points: 6 + your Constitution modifier.
Armor and Shield Proficiencies: None
Weapon Proficiencies: Daggers, Darts, Slings, Quarter Staffs, and Light Crossbows.

You can make a Mage quickly by following these suggestions.
Suggested Background: Sage
Suggested Specialty: Hedge Mage
Suggested Equipment: Adventuring Clothes, 2 Daggers, Adventurer's Kit, 64gp, and 8 sp.

Class Features
A Mage gains the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d6 per Mage level.
Hit Points: 1d6 (or 4) + your Constitution modifier per Wizard level gained.

The Mage
            Spell
             Casting
Level     Bonus     Class Features
1          +1         Spell Casting, Elemental Affinity, Spell Type, Modify Spell (1/encounter)
2          +1         Magic Feat
3          +2         -
4          +2         Abjuration
5          +2         Spell Potency (Roll Twice), Shape Spell
6          +2         -
7          +2         Arcane Control
8          +2         Magic Feat
9          +3         Modify Spell (2/encounter)
10        +3         Spell Potency (Roll Three Times)
11        +3         Metamagic 1/day
12        +3         -
13        +3         Magic Feat
14        +4         Metamagic 2/day
15        +4         Spell Potency (Roll Four Times)
16        +4         -
17        +4         Metamagic 3/day, Modify Spell (3/encounter)
18        +4         -
19        +5         -
20        +5         Metamagic 4/day, Spell Potency (Roll Five Times)

Level 1: Spell Casting
You store up magical energies almost unconsciously and then wield that stored energies to create a variety of effects. Each round you can use a your action to fling some magical energy at a target of your choice. At first level you figure out how to form your magical energy into a damaging ball that you throw at enemies.
Benefit: You can use your action to fling a ball of magic energy at an enemy within 50 feet of you. You make an attack roll adding your Spell Casting Bonus and your Intelligence modifier against the targets AC. If it hits it deals 1d6 + your Intelligence modifier damage. If it misses, you still deal half your normal damage.

Additionally, you gain several abilities to modify your magical energy as you become a more powerful Mage. At first level you start with two options (Elemental Affinity and Spell Type) as you gain levels you get access to more options. You may always apply a single modification to a spell for free. Once per encounter, you may add a second modification to your spell at 1st level. At level 9 this increases to twice per encounter, and at level 17 it is three times an encounter. You may choose to use more than one use of this on the same turn to apply multiple modifications to the same spell.

Level 1: Elemental Affinity
You can shape your magical energies to have an elemental damage type chosen at level 1. Each element comes with a set of benefits.
Benefit: Pick one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description.
Fire: Your spell deals fire damage, and you may reroll any ones on the damage roll.
Electricity: Your spells deal electricity damage, and the damage die is increased 1 step. (d6->d8->d10->d12)
Cold: Your spell deals cold damage and if the spell hits it reduces the target's speed by 10ft for 1 round.
Acid: Your spell deals acid damage and the following turn after successfully hitting a target, that target takes an additional 1 point of damage per damage die. 
Force: Your spell deals force damage and has its damage die reduced one step (d8->d6->d4->d3)

Level 1: Spell Type
You can shape your mystic energies into a more specific attack type than just a ball of energy.
Benefit: Pick one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description.

Missile: You give up the bonus damage from your intelligence modifier for the attack. The spell automatically hits. You may not apply spell potency to a missile, however, at 5th level you may use two missiles, at 10th level you may use 3 missiles, at 15th level you may use 4 missiles, and at 20th level you may use 5 missiles. These missiles may all either hit the same target, or different targets within 10ft of each other, as the caster desires.
Touch: The range of the spell is reduced to touch, but the damage die is increased by 2.
Incorporeal: The spell loses its visual effect, and instead directly attacks the target. Rather than an attack against AC, the spell now has a DC10+int mod+magic modifier, and is resisted by the target's Constituion or Wisdom (chosen at the time you pick this modification).

Level 2: Magic Feat
You are skilled in a variety of magical techniques, which give you the ability to keep your opponents guessing.
Benefit: You gain a magic feat of your choice as a bonus feat. You gain an additional magic feat of your choice at 8th and 13th level

Level 4: Abjuration
You are capable of disrupting the magic of other spellcasters, giving you the edge in combat against other casters.
Benefit: You gain training in a form of abjuration. These abjurations provide a defensive benefit, but require some concentration on the part of the Mage. Any time you activate an abjuration, it counts as a spell modification for that round (So if you wanted to activate counterspelling and still cast a lightning spell, you would have to use one use of your modify spell ability).

CounterspellingWhile this abjuration is active, if an opponent casts a spell, you may use a reaction to either give your ally advantage on the saving throw, or give the enemy caster disadvantage on the attack roll, as appropriate.
Dispel Effect: With this abjuration you may use a reaction to grant an ally an extra saving throw against a negative status effect inflicting them. If they are affected by more than one status effect, the Mage may choose which one to dispell. If the effect did not grant a saving throw initially, then treat it as a Will saving throw against DC15.
Mage Armor:  This abjuration gives the caster +4 AC while it is active.

Level 5: Spell Potency
Your skill with magic is such that your magic has become more potent, dealing more damage to those who incur your wrath.
Benefit:  When you roll damage for a spell you cast, you may roll your damage dice an extra time, and add the results together. At higher levels, you may roll this additional times: 3 times at 10th, 4 times at 15th, and 5 times at 20th. 

Level 5: Shape Spell
You can shape your spells into wider areas, allowing you to affect large numbers of individuals simultaneously.
Benefit: You choose one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description. The modifications from this category are not compatible with the Spell Type modifications. (ie you cannot make a Touch Cone spell, or a Ball Missile spell). All spell shapes cause the spell to lose the intelligence modifier bonus to damage, and allow targets within the area to make a dexterity save, DC10+spell mod+intelligence mod to take half damage from the attack.
Ball: Your normal ball of magical energy expands, dealing damage to all creatures within a 30ft radius area. 
Chain: Your spell hits a single target, then jumps to another target within 20ft. Each target must be within 20ft of the last, and loses 1 die of damage with each jump. Unlike other shapes, Chain spell gets to add intelligence modifer to damage dealt to each creature.
Cone: You shape your spell into a 40ft cone, originating from you, dealing damage to all creatures caught within the cone.
Line: You shape your spell into a 60ft line directly in front of you, dealing damage to all creatures caught in the line.

Level 7: Arcane Control
Your spells impart terrible side-effects on their target, making the crafty Mage a terrifying force on the battlefield.
Benefit: You choose one of the following modifications. You may use this modification with your spells as indicated in the spellcasting description. All saving throws incurred by these effects are 10+magic modifier+intelligence modifier
Charm: Your spell deals no damage, but if the spell hits, the target makes a charisma saving throw. If they fail this save, the target cannot attack you or your allies and you have advantage on social rolls until the end of your next turn.
Confusion: If your spell hits, the target makes a will save. If they fail this save, at the start of each round they roll 1d6. 1-2:move in a random direction, 3-4: attack the nearest creature, 5: do nothing, or 6: Break free of the confusion.
Daze: If the spell hits, the target of this spell makes a will save, if they fail this save, they become dazed, losing their next action.
Death: Your spell gains 50% extra damage dice (round up). If the spell's damage is enough to drop the target below 0 hit points, they die instantly. If it is not, then only count the highest die roll towards damage done, rather than adding them all. (Example: At level 7 you cast a Death spell and deal 3d6+4 damage. This gives you 15 points of damage, the highest roll is a 5. If the target has 15 hp or less, he dies. If he has over 15 hp, he instead takes 9 points of damage)
Immobilize: If your spell hits, it reduces the target's movement speed by 20ft (reflex save for half) for 1 minute. This effect stacks. If the target's speed is reduced to 0, they become immobilized, and grant attackers advantage on any attacks against them.

Level 11: Metamagic
You are a true master of the Arcane Arts. You are capable of drawing upon reserves to make your spells much more potent than usual.
Benefit: Once per day you may apply one of the metamagics below to any spell you cast. When you apply this metamagic, you may also apply one extra modification to the spell for free. You need not pick a specific metamagic, you can apply any of the metamagics listed when you use the ability. At 14th, 17th, and 20th level you gain one additional use per day of Metamagic.

Empower Spell: You increase the damage die of the spell by one step and increase the number of damage dice rolled by 50% (round down). 
Maximize Spell: Your spell deals maximum damage.
Unerring Spell: You gain advantage on attack rolls and targets take disadvantage on saving throws from this spell.
Widen Spell: When using shape spell with this metamagic, your spell's area is doubled. Additionally you may choose to not target a number of specific creatures in the area equal to your intelligence modifier.



Sadly this is still more interesting than the Playtest Fighter, but I really couldn't even bring myself to write anything more boring. But anyway, my Mage follows a similar format to the Playtest Fighter in the form of "Get a couple of distinct options at certain levels, and choose which ones to use", but is different in that it gets fewer encounter uses, but gets at least one upgrade for free every round, giving it a little more flexibility and mages more room to be interesting. This Mage is also better at AoE than the Playtest Fighter, but at the cost of his AoE being another modification ability so he has to choose between using it and other stuff. The Metamagic at the end allows for some really potent combinations between the increased numbers and free extra spell modifications.



I like this one better too. So it proves the point that a simpler caster is very easy to design and could then be balanced. You could then scale up the complexity on it for those that want complex casters...Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I love how old school players are villified for simply wanting what WOTC or it's predecessors gave them for most of the life of D&D.   Having old school options isn't the same as having no new options.  But I think a vancian wizard and a fairly simple fighter isn't too much to ask for a game that provided exactly those things for years.   Especially consider D&D was undisputed King of fantasy roleplay during that time.

 



I have no problem with them including a simple Fighter and a complex Wizard as long as they also include the opposite. We've proved it can easily be done, why isn't it happening? Smile
"Unite the [fan] base? Hardly. As of right now, I doubt their ability to unite a slightly unruly teabag with a cup of water."--anjelika
1-4E play style
The 4E play style is a high action cinematic style of play where characters worry less about being killed in one hit and more about strategy and what their next move is and the one after it. The players talk back and forth about planning a battle and who can do what to influence the outcome. 4E play is filled with cinematic over the top action. An Eladrin teleports out of the grip of the Ogre. The Fighter slams the dragons foot with his hammer causing it to rear up and stagger back in pain. The Cleric creates a holy zone where their allies weapons are guided to their targets and whenever an enemy dies the Clerics allies are healed. 4E is about knowing when to lauch your nova attack, whether its a huge arcane spell that causes enemies to whirl around in a chaotic storm, or if its a trained adrenaline surge that causes you to attack many many times with two weapons on a single target, or a surge of adrenaline that keeps you going though you should already be dead. Its about tactics and the inability to carry around a bag of potions or a few wands and never have to worry about healing. Its about the guy that can barely role play having the same chance to convince the king to aid the group as the guy that takes improv acting classes and regularly stars as an extra on movies.
Stormwind Fallacy
The Stormwind Fallacy, aka the Roleplayer vs Rollplayer Fallacy Just because one optimizes his characters mechanically does not mean that they cannot also roleplay, and vice versa. Corollary: Doing one in a game does not preclude, nor infringe upon, the ability to do the other in the same game. Generalization 1: One is not automatically a worse role player if he optimizes, and vice versa. Generalization 2: A non-optimized character is not automatically role played better than an optimized one, and vice versa. ...[aside]... Proof: These two elements rely on different aspects of a player's game play. Optimization factors in to how well one understands the rules and handles synergies to produce a very effective end result. Role playing deals with how well a player can act in character and behave as if he was someone else. A person can act while understanding the rules, and can build something powerful while still handling an effective character. There is nothing in the game -- mechanical or otherwise -- restricting one if you participate in the other. Claiming that an optimizer cannot role play (or is participating in a play style that isn't supportive of role playing) because he is an optimizer, or vice versa, is committing the Stormwind Fallacy.
The spells we should getLook here to Check out my adventures and ideas. I've started a blog, about video games, table top role playing games, programming, and many other things its called Kel and Lok Games. My 4E Fantasy Grounds game is currently full.
I love how old school players are villified for simply wanting what WOTC or it's predecessors gave them for most of the life of D&D.   Having old school options isn't the same as having no new options.  But I think a vancian wizard and a fairly simple fighter isn't too much to ask for a game that provided exactly those things for years.   Especially consider D&D was undisputed King of fantasy roleplay during that time.

 



Of course, the part you're intentionally missing is that many of those old-school players don't want any options in the game except the ones they want, even though they can very easily disallow anything they don't like.  In other words, they're being exclusive (and selfish), where as new players are inclusive.  


I love how old school players are villified for simply wanting what WOTC or it's predecessors gave them for most of the life of D&D.   Having old school options isn't the same as having no new options.  But I think a vancian wizard and a fairly simple fighter isn't too much to ask for a game that provided exactly those things for years.

Nor is it too much to ask for a balanced fighter and a simple mage, in addition to the staid traditional options.


Especially consider D&D was undisputed King of fantasy roleplay during that time. 

Yes, it did have its fad years in the 80s.  

5e really needs something like Wrecan's SARN-FU to support "Theatre of the Mind."

"You want The Tooth?  You can't handle The Tooth!"  - Dahlver-Nar.

"If magic is unrestrained in the campaign, D&D quickly degenerates into a weird wizard show where players get bored quickly"  - E. Gary Gygax

 

 

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I love how old school players are villified for simply wanting what WOTC or it's predecessors gave them for most of the life of D&D.   Having old school options isn't the same as having no new options.  But I think a vancian wizard and a fairly simple fighter isn't too much to ask for a game that provided exactly those things for years.   Especially consider D&D was undisputed King of fantasy roleplay during that time.

 



Of course, the part you're intentionally missing is that many of those old-school players don't want any options in the game except the ones they want, even though they can very easily disallow anything they don't like.  In other words, they're being exclusive (and selfish), where as new players are inclusive.  The grognards say 'everybody must play MY way' and we say 'everybody should play the way they want'.

Frankly, such an attitude DESERVES to be mocked and insulted.



Well put.

Anyone who makes any argument which boils down to "I won't play if they include options for you, even if I never have to use them" doesn't belong in the discussion. 
In 3.5, warlocks were a "simple caster." Perhaps we should wait and see how that class turns out in Next.
In 3.5, warlocks were a "simple caster." Perhaps we should wait and see how that class turns out in Next.



I have some hope for this.

But let's just say that I'm not going to hang my hat on it. 
You can already play a simple caster. Just take all blasting type spells/abilities/feats.


Excpet you still have to pour through how many pages of spells. In order to properly choose the "blasting type spells", you still have to read all the spells of a given level to know which one to pick.

As others have shown, it is pretty easy to create a class that feels like a spell-slinger that doesn't have to go anywhere near the spell section of the book, which is the point of creating a "simple" caster.
You can already play a simple caster. Just take all blasting type spells/abilities/feats.


Excpet you still have to pour through how many pages of spells. In order to properly choose the "blasting type spells", you still have to read all the spells of a given level to know which one to pick.

As others have shown, it is pretty easy to create a class that feels like a spell-slinger that doesn't have to go anywhere near the spell section of the book, which is the point of creating a "simple" caster.



Exactly.

It's not simple if there is still character creation complexity hurdles for newcomers.

And what about the millions of Harry Potter fans?

Where is the class for them? 

Simple fighter is not "hit it, then hit it again". I don't think anyone wants that, since the fighter has never been only that even in older editions.

A simple fighter means a straightfoward class in its basic structure: you get that many abilitity "slots" at these levels (call it Feats, Weapon Proficiencies, or whatever) and then you choose with those what kind of fighting abilities you want your fighter to have.

It also means a "pick and go" characteristic for these abilities: I pick a "weapon and shiled" ability, it gives me a new way to use weapon+shield, end of story, I go use my weapon and shield in battle that way... Instead of having to fulfill a long list of pre-requisites and feat-chains to be able to build a concept or access one type of ability.

Quite opposite from being limited in gameplay, it is the most diversification you can offer for the class while still maintaining a very simple basic structure for the class.




Simple Wizard is also very much possible. The fact that Mearls thinks it can't be done makes me wonder about his ability to "get down to the basics" of the game, which should be the starting point for any game design. In that I agree with the OP, but it doesn't even have to be a radically different wizard. In fact, D&D itself has already offered us a simple wizard in the past.

Here's a simple wizard (the 2ed wizard): You get your spell progression. End of story.

It's each spell that tells you what you can do with it. The choice of spells alone is more than enough to deeply differentiate one wizard you encounter from the other.




Is adding more abilities to the class beyond spell progression a bad thing?
No, not necessarily.
But the spellcasting by itself already offers more than enough for casters to play a very interesting and diverse class. Being able to cast a fireball or invisibility are already two very distinct abilities a wizard can have. It's not like spellcasting in general a "one thing only" the caster can do.

I think more abilities to these caster classes should be added only if they actually serve a very interesting and different game purpose that can't be covered by spells.


By adding a new ability that works through a different system you're adding complexity, which can be good if really it's something interesting and there's no other way of resolving that ability. But if you can work that out through the already existing system (picking a feat/weapon proficiency, picking a new spell), it's even better because you add depth to the game without adding complexity.


That's what "simple classes" are about.
Not "hit and hit again".

Cool







Simple fighter is not "hit it, then hit it again". I don't think anyone wants that, since the fighter has never been only that even in older editions.


The 2E Fighter wasn't much more than this, unless you used things like Combat&Tactics. You picked a weapon, specialized in it and hit things with it. Later you might have a second weapon, probably a bow or something like that.

Here's a simple wizard (the 2ed wizard): You get your spell progression. End of story.


That is not a simple Wizard. Otherwise nearly all D&D wizards would be simple wizards as you basically describe the wizard at least up to 3rd edition. your description fits the 3E wizard just as well.

The whole complexity in the Wizard is the spell selection.

5e should strongly stay away from "I don't like it, so you can't have it either."

 

I once asked the question (in D&D 3.5) "Does a Druid4/Wizard3/ArcaneHierophant1 have Wildshape?". Jesse Decker and Andy Collins: Yes and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Rich Redman and Ed Stark: No and the text is clear and can't be interpreted differently. Skip Williams: Lol, it's worded ambiguously and entirely not how I intended it. (Cust. Serv. Reference# 050815-000323)

Warmage - A Simple Caster

HD: d8
Armor Proficiency - Light
Weapon Prof - All Simple, One Martial
Casting Stat - Charisma
Attack bonus - As Cleric (partial melee, full magic)

 
Class Features
  Ritual Casting - somehow...

   Cantrips - You know 4 cantrips of your choice from the wizard spell list

   Eldritch Bolt - Make a magic attack and target resists with a Dex save. If your result is higher than their save, the attack hits. Damage 1d12, range 100 feet.
  Damage increases as you level: 2d12 at 5, 3d12 at 10, 4d12 at 15, and 5d12 at 20

  Spell Expertise - Start with 2 spell expertise, gain more as you level. Spell expertise modifies your eldritch bolt in various ways or allows you to perform other minor arcane tricks. You learn various uses of spell expertise as you level. You recover all spell expertise with a short rest.

Examples of Spell Expertise Uses
*Cone - turns your bolt into a 30 foot cone
*Line - turns your bolt into a 60 foot line
*Explosive Burst - Bolt becomes a 15 foot radius burst within 50 feet
*Forceful Bolt - Bolt pushes target 10 feet and/or knocks target prone
*Rapid Fire - Fire 2 to 10 different bolts. Each dice of damage from your bolt instead becomes two separate bolts that do 1d6 damage each. Distribute bolts against any targets in range.
*Eldritch Strike - You can channel your bolt through a melee attack. When you hit with a melee attack you may spend one expertise to deal extra damage equal to your Eldritch Bolt Damage to the target.
*Shield - spend 1 expertise to use the Shield spell as a reaction
We can do simple specialists.
A simple caster can have a limited choice of flexible and iconic spells covering combat and exploration, if he is strongly characterized, which is not the case of the wizard and cleric classes.

Simple fighter is not "hit it, then hit it again". I don't think anyone wants that, since the fighter has never been only that even in older editions.


The 2E Fighter wasn't much more than this, unless you used things like Combat&Tactics. You picked a weapon, specialized in it and hit things with it. Later you might have a second weapon, probably a bow or something like that.



Combat & Tactics was practically a whole different system. 
I'm talking about the standard 2ed. The class itself in the PHB did not come with a load of descriptive abilities. You basically had your Weapon Proficiencies, and the general combat rules to work with. And you could do a lot with it. Especially when you added suplements like the Complete Fighter's. None of those suplements changeg the fighter class itself, though. They just broadened the options while keeping the class's structure simple. I've had players making very different fighter along my 2ed years, each focusing different aspects of combat.

The feat system in 3e wasn't so different form 2e's weapon proficiencies, really. It's the mechanics and functionality of the combat abilities provided by feats that differentiated them more from 2ed's combat options.
(And the fact that feats were more generalized and not only combat-oriented, of course.)


Here's a simple wizard (the 2ed wizard): You get your spell progression. End of story.


That is not a simple Wizard. Otherwise nearly all D&D wizards would be simple wizards as you basically describe the wizard at least up to 3rd edition. your description fits the 3E wizard just as well.

The whole complexity in the Wizard is the spell selection.



3ed's Wizard had a whole lot of spellcasting Feats to work with. Feats that could deeply change how spells worked and increase the potency and efficiency of spells a lot depending on what choices you made, what "combos" you picked. Feats were so embeded in 3e's spellcasting system that they weren't just "one small thing" you added on top of spells... the whole "playing the wizard class" in 3e involved a good feat selection as a primary element of the class.

I'm not saying this is necessarily bad. What I'm saying is 2e's wizard was a lot simpler than 3e's.

The 2ed wizard is tremendously simple.
You get a number of spells/day per level. End of story. 

Each spell is very distinct in what it does. There is no great mastery of rules and systems needed to be able to play this wizard.
You look at what spells you have, and you choose to use one of them for the described effect.

Which is not to say the class needs to be played in a straightforward and "samey" manner. This is very different from being "simple".

Here's a simple wizard (the 2ed wizard): You get your spell progression. End of story.


That is not a simple Wizard. Otherwise nearly all D&D wizards would be simple wizards as you basically describe the wizard at least up to 3rd edition. your description fits the 3E wizard just as well.

The whole complexity in the Wizard is the spell selection.



3ed's Wizard had a whole lot of spellcasting Feats to work with. Feats that could deeply change how spells worked and increase the potency and efficiency of spells a lot depending on what choices you made, what "combos" you picked. Feats were so embeded in 3e's spellcasting system that they weren't just "one small thing" you added on top of spells... the whole "playing the wizard class" in 3e involved a good feat selection as a primary element of the class.

I'm not saying this is necessarily bad. What I'm saying is 2e's wizard was a lot simpler than 3e's.

The 2ed wizard is tremendously simple.
You get a number of spells/day per level. End of story. 

Each spell is very distinct in what it does. There is no great mastery of rules and systems needed to be able to play this wizard.
You look at what spells you have, and you choose to use one of them for the described effect.

Which is not to say the class needs to be played in a straightforward and "samey" manner. This is very different from being "simple".



Metamagic feats rarely changed much if anything about how a spell actually worked.  In fact, for anyone being really serious about their spellcasting, they were almost never worth the time and raise in slot level unless you cheated your way around that, either through wonky tricks like Incantatrix builds or just picking up Metamagic Rods to do that for you.  But even ignoring that, the only "complexity" added by most metamagic feats is that they make the numbers somewhat bigger.

The complexity is in the spells themselves.  Every spell gets its own little block in the PHB stuffed with rules about how it works that typically ignore most of the normal rules for how things work.  Sometimes they even ignore the rules for how other spells work.

If it took 20 pages to describe a fighter's class features, would you call that "simple"? 
The 2ed wizard is tremendously simple.
You get a number of spells/day per level. End of story. 

Each spell is very distinct in what it does. There is no great mastery of rules and systems needed to be able to play this wizard.
You look at what spells you have, and you choose to use one of them for the described effect.


It is a different kind of complexity. It would be fair to say that the mechanics of the Wizard are not especially hard, but the choice decisions a given player has to make when creating the character, leveling the character, and playing the character are quite complex. You have a ton of spells to choose from within a level and you have some number of spells that you can memorize per day and any time you want to take an action you have a number of spells to choose between forcing you to consider between short term goals and long term goals (for example, big spell now to win vs. saving it for later and maybe using a lesser spell now).

None of those things are necessarily bad, but they certainly exist and those chocies are not simple by any means.

Here's a simple wizard (the 2ed wizard): You get your spell progression. End of story.


That is not a simple Wizard. Otherwise nearly all D&D wizards would be simple wizards as you basically describe the wizard at least up to 3rd edition. your description fits the 3E wizard just as well.

The whole complexity in the Wizard is the spell selection.



3ed's Wizard had a whole lot of spellcasting Feats to work with. Feats that could deeply change how spells worked and increase the potency and efficiency of spells a lot depending on what choices you made, what "combos" you picked. Feats were so embeded in 3e's spellcasting system that they weren't just "one small thing" you added on top of spells... the whole "playing the wizard class" in 3e involved a good feat selection as a primary element of the class.

I'm not saying this is necessarily bad. What I'm saying is 2e's wizard was a lot simpler than 3e's.

The 2ed wizard is tremendously simple.
You get a number of spells/day per level. End of story. 

Each spell is very distinct in what it does. There is no great mastery of rules and systems needed to be able to play this wizard.
You look at what spells you have, and you choose to use one of them for the described effect.

Which is not to say the class needs to be played in a straightforward and "samey" manner. This is very different from being "simple".



Metamagic feats rarely changed much if anything about how a spell actually worked.  In fact, for anyone being really serious about their spellcasting, they were almost never worth the time and raise in slot level unless you cheated your way around that, either through wonky tricks like Incantatrix builds or just picking up Metamagic Rods to do that for you.  But even ignoring that, the only "complexity" added by most metamagic feats is that they make the numbers somewhat bigger.

The complexity is in the spells themselves.  Every spell gets its own little block in the PHB stuffed with rules about how it works that typically ignore most of the normal rules for how things work.  Sometimes they even ignore the rules for how other spells work.

If it took 20 pages to describe a fighter's class features, would you call that "simple"? 

In the case of the amnesiac spellcasters, I agree with your point of view.

But the 3.5 sorcerer gained a huge benefit from the metamagic feats. It's true that they were often just ways to optimize the use of spell slots in function of your known spells.

The sorcerers also has access to metamagics like Silent Spell, Still Spell or elemental affinity, that effectively increased the number of "spell known" by the sorcerer.

Building a good sorcerer, taking the right spells and metamagic feats at the right levels, was far more complex than building a wizard. And playing it required to keep in mind all the spell/metamagic combinations usable, and the implied level modifications, to split the effort between the spell slots levels.

The complexity is also in how the class manages the spells.
I don't see any particular reason that warlock couldn't fulfill this sort of desire. I'm not sure if that's how it will pan out, but warlock was the simple caster option in 3.5, and I could easily see it taking that place in Next.