Benglimer and Chaosmancer: Haldrik isn't a troll. He's got his own predispositions and wealth of knowledge and interests in this game as anyone else. I've seen the wealth of interesting posts he's made here over the years; besides, Haldrik has as much a right as any one of us to contribute to the development of the DDN game.
Now, personally, Haldrik, I disagree with you. That passage from Chromatic Dragons distinctly talks about elemental power – but it's framed by the Dragon. The reason it doesn't mention Arcane or Divine or whatnot specifically is because at that time, (A) Arcane hadn't been defined clearly in 4e, and (B) Dragons occupy an odd space in the D&D mythos. These are creatures that often can cast arcane spells, use elemental breath weapons coming from a heart of elemental power, and yet were created by the Divine Io/Tiamat/Bahamut. In earlier editions, where there wasn't so much a split between Divine and Elemental (the war between the Gods and the Primordials being a distinctly 4e flavor that is awesome, but brings about some of its own issues), Tiamat was able to be both a Demon Prince and and a God. So was Lolth, for that matter - the Demon Queen of Spiders. But come 4e, magic is suddenly categorised into whether it comes from Primal Spirits, Elemental and Demon Princes, Dark Lords of the Shadowfell, Divine Beings, from a supreme balancing of mind, body, and spirit, or from Archfey and knowing how to manipulate the cosmic forces in their entirety.
That last part was Arcane. And that was the flavor they decided on and that was evident in both Heroes of Shadow and Heroes of the Elemental Chaos. Arcane is necessary as a framing device to hold together the slipping away Shadow Power or the raw, unbridled chaos of Elemental Power. Unless you are an Elemental entity yourself, you need to frame that Elemental energy through Divine, Primal, Psionic, or most likely Arcane magic. Dragons are the framing device themselves; their bodies beating and working to control the elemental furnaces that are their hearts.
Now lets go back to the Sorcerer. Sorcerers as defined in D&D (and I know it doesn't fit your definition of Sorcerer, but bear with me, since that's something you can't really change now that they've branded the Sorcerer). They are defined as innate casters, drawing their power from either bloodlines (a la 3.5e) or chaos in some form (a la 4e). In the Keynote address, it was suggested that the chaos events – born under an auspicious sign, faerie ancestry, draconic ancestry, someone meddled with you during your birth, and created what you are – these are all elements that evoke an interesting story. They also fit the idea of Arcane magic as manipulation of the cosmic mystical forces of the world. It's just that the Sorcerer him or herself wasn't the manipulator (much like the Warlock isn't the manipulator, his or her Patron is) – the bloodline creator is.
Now I am going to say it straight out: You will not be happy, Haldrik, with Sorcerers being innate, unless you can learn to be okay with overlapping flavor. OR, unless we see the entirety of Psionic subsumed by Arcane (something I see as possible, but improbable because of important flavor differences between the two in Dark Sun).
However, you can and SHOULD reflavor the Sorcerer as a psionic character. I would argue that Psionic, Arcane, Divine, Primal, you name it – Magic is all Magic, and this it's all the same power source. YES, dividing power sources allowed for flavoring different classes (getting at more animistic/shamanic flavor rather than having to "make do" with Nature Clerics or Wizards for Shamans), but at the same time, has brought up the very awkward situations you have complained about – since essentially, telling someone their gods are really primal spirits or elemental entities is silly; they still worship them. Arcane magic is really derivative of worship mysteries from Persian Zoroastrianism (Magus referred to their equivalent of Druids and Brahmins. Psionic shares huge overlaps with Arcane and Divine schools, as well as with Martial as of 4e – in fact, I would argue that the arbitrary split between Psionic and Martial in 4e was extremely stupid; Psionic represented "martial artists" as Monks, Battleminds, and Ardents, and their sage-like masters as Psions. Other people see Psionic though as more pseudoscientific detectives and intrigue stuff a la Eberron, or in Psionic magic schools a la Dark Sun, where it really acts more like Arcane or Divine power. Others see it as if spirits have overtaken the mind, and in fact, Goliaths are said in 4e to believe someone with Psionic powers are possessed by the primal spirits. I would argue that Power Sources in 4e thus only served as a categorisation by the classes' flavor in the world, and the Power was really all the same thing, just understood in different ways. Heroes of the Elemental Chaos would suggest that that is the case – that at the root of things, all magic is Elemental and is just shape in different ways.
If that is the case, then let's look as a possible character you can build with the Sorcerer. I'm going to choose something that is clearly difficult to define in Power Source terms, and yet should be iconic – the protagonist of YuYu Hakusho. Beware of spoilers, which are necessary to discuss the character arc and how it is distinctly DDN Sorcerer, and yet has odd overlaps between Psionic and Arcane.
Urameshi Yuusuke who is a street fighter, but after dying and coming back to life, is made a spirit detective and gains his spirit gun (with limited usages – while another class might give a magical bolt like Magic Missle or Eldritch Blast as an at-will, Sorcerers need to spend willpower to cast it). He then hunts down escape spirits, ghosts, ogres/oni, and demons using tools, psychic powers, and his spirit gun. He eventually is able to create Spirit Wave and Spirit Wave Bomb for powerful effects. But by the end of season three, he has died a second time, and this time came back, discovering he has demonic atavism. He is a human, but with a demon prince in his bloodline. His spirit gun becomes really a "demon gun" at this point, but during his titanic final confrontation with Season 3 big baddie Sensui, his demonic ancestor "takes control" of his body and destroys Sensui instead. Yuusuke later seeks out his ancestral father, and joins demon world politics as that Demon King's heir apparent. He sets up a Demon World tournament to decide who rules the Demon World, and while he doesn't win the tournament, he prevent both of the other two power-hungry expansionistic demon princes from winning by wearing them out in the earlier rounds, acting as a spoiler, and leaving a neutral, pretty decent demon guy to be President of Hell. During the semifinals when he loses, he is able to weaken Yomi, one of those expansionistic demons, by mixing his spirit gun back in with his demon gun. He also is able to use the pure energy gun that Sensui had used in Season 3.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Where am I going with all this? Yuusuke clearly has what you'd call Psionic powers, but the features are quite close to the Dragon Sorcerer here, and his real root of power is not psionic magic, but his demonic heritage. The reason he actually was able to be a candidate for Spirit Detective in the first place is brought up exactly because he was actually demon-blooded, but it was inactive until he could become more powerful. He's a melee combatant, and his ancestor and he struggle for control of his body later on. We see three guns – the Reigun or Spirit Gun, the Seigun or Pure Gun, and the Akagun or Demon Gun. These would be the three power sources in this series, but Yuusuke doesn't really fit into any of them. The Psionic Spirit Gun is closely tied with psychic masters like Genkai, but also with the Spirit World, which is a Divine agency that controls the world like the Heavenly entities of Chinese and Japanese mythology. Then the Pure Gun is created from a sanctity of inner self and perfection. This takes another half of both Psionic and Divine – the inner perfection element of Psionic, but also devotion to ideals and ethics like Paladins. Sensui shouldn't have been able to be a villain and use it, but he had splintered his personality and was sure he was in the right, to the point that he would be a token example of a Lawful Neutral or Lawful Evil character played with the LG logo on top because they "believe" they are Good.
My point is that your definitions of Psionic aren't exactly mine, nor are your Arcane ones. While you, Haldrik, have as much a right as anyone to contribute to the development of flavor in DDN through your feedback to the playtest, you also need to be prepared for a game that doesn't necessarily fit your exact flavor designs, and yet can be used in a way that you see fit. I can EASILY see you taking the Sorcerer, and house-ruling it as a Psionic character. And that would be and SHOULD be completely viable, if not outright said by the makers of the game what you should be doing. My world flavor is never going to match the core accepted flavor, but a more limited understanding of Sorcerer and Arcane in general will hurt applicability to my world. You on the otherhand can easily flavor away the differences. If it doesn't exist mechanically, then I can't use it without developing it myself. But that's what I'm paying WotC to develop. Homebrewing balanced and fun mechanics is difficult; homebrewing flavor is VERY simple.
So rather than arguing whether Sorcerer, Witch, or Warlock is used for alternate classes, or why Katanas and Spiked Chains are appearing alongside Glaive/Guisarmes and Guisarme/Lances and whatnot, I'd rather they include it all, whatever the name and flavor, and let me adapt it. But give it strong flavor that new players will enjoy. The point will roleplaying flavor feedback in this playtest is not to decide if I think new players need a history or linguistics lesson. The point is to make a game that new players and old players alike can play and be attracted to. As others have said, this is a natural evolution of the 4e Sorcerer, which was a natural evolution of the 3.5e Sorcerer, which was a natural evolution of the 3.0e sorcerer. But boy, have I not had more ideas with this Sorcerer mechanic than ever before.
I have a character in 4e, she's a dagger-fighting, sheriff-office arcane detective investigating vampiric murders, but actually has a twin-soul – an ancient vampire/owl being inside of her, which is commiting the atrocities without the knowledge of the surface personality. She was raised by a Dead One Vistani witch who had been keeping her darker side sealed up for decades. Eventually, she becomes aware of it, leaves her post in the local sheriff's office, and goes off on a journey to find a way to control the evil entity within her. I built her by giving her the melee dagger Cosmic Sorcerer class and build, the Vryloka race, and the Halastar's Clone Theme to capture the various elements of the character. Theme was the hardest choice, though Race was also difficult. I originally had her as a Human, then a Half-elf, then made a homebrew race that is like a Raptoran, then back to Half-elf, then when Heroes of Shadow was released, she became a Vryloka, complete with a red owl transformation power. For theme, I loved her as a Guttersnipe, because it gave her a street-fighter feature to compliment her dagger fighting she got through class feats. I also tried out giving her the Windlord theme from Heroes of the Elemental Chaos to reflect her flying stuff. But I didn't really have powers to reflect the twinned personality until the Halastar's Clone theme was released with the Cormyrian Heroes article in Dragon. When that happened, I knew I could meet the "Hyde" like personality element, but because of that, I sacrificed other elements from Theme.
The thing is, if there was a Vampire Soul Bloodline for the DDN Sorcerer, that would allow me to do EVERY SINGLE PART of this just in the class section. That would allow me to give her the Spy background and either the Lurker to reflect her roguish-like fighting or the Dual Wielder to meet her dual dagger fighting style.
This is a character I can create best with the Sorcerer class, and I've always understood her power as Arcane, because she was raised by Vistanic witch (albeit, a sedentary Dead One), she saw her magic as witches' magic. I have always seen a close connection between the Witch, the Sorcerer, and the Warlock. That's fine. Refluffing is a good friend. But her melee capabilities line her up PERFECTLY with the DDN Sorcerer.
A great man once said "If WotC put out boxes full of free money there'd still be people complaining about how it's folded." – Boraxe
Jul 31, 2007
Words change definition intrinsicly over time anyway. The words witch, warlock, sorcerer, and the like have been poisoned and altered over time to be completely synonomous, even though they each had different meanings initially.
I'm wiccan, but just because I'm male and wiccan does not mean it is appropriate to call me a warlock. I am a male witch, and that is what we prefer to be called. Yet if you look up a modern definition of warlocks on dictionary.com or similar sources they are just labeled " a male witch" for one of the definitions. Warlocks are, and have always been, those who consort with powerful entities to get power for themselves. Whether YOU believe in the existance of this power or not is irrelevent, that is the title that they were given for THAT purpose when it was believed in. Just as a witch is someone who uses the power of nature as their source of power through herbalism and similar sources of magic. The real study of mysticism throughout the ages has had differing views on whether you need precise formulae or insight and intuition.
A sorcerer by origin is someone who casts lots. An augur of sorts. Nothing in there about magical power either way outside of diviniation, basically, and no real ties to religion or form of practice. That said, this is not how they are presented in D&D, and that's a good thing. Let them stay this way.
All of this aside, I see the power sources as follows:
Divine: Channels power directly from an almost omnipotent being.
Psionic: Channels power only from within their mind and body.
Arcane: Channels power from the world around them.
This is still much more versatile than it appears. Did they learn to channel those worldly powers by studying it like a science? Were they just born with the ability to draw power from the world around them and turn it in to a mystical form? Did they make bargains with powerful and almost god-like entities to get a short-cut to drawing this power out of the world? These are all three viable options for arcane magic.
Psionics can be looked at under a similar microscope. Did they meditate religiously until they reached an epiphany? Did they just manifest the first signs of internal power as a wild talent in adolescence? Did some powerful entity that is likely psionic itself unlock their potential? Did a near death experience open their mind to the possibilities?
And of course, this leads to divine. Do they pray religiously? Are they granted the power by a God that they may not even worship because they are chosen? Do they actually have the ability to meet and speak with their god on any more real level? Does their god have a specific plan for them?
These are just concepts that determine a background. WOTC and TSR before it were simply giving a broad concept a name and making a class out of it. They have refined it over time and will continue to. It's not worth a war over this. You can house rule it out if you like. I understand not all will agree with my views on those three categories of powers, but I see it as a good baseline.
Coming at this virtually cold, having missed all the edition wars (I stopped shortly after AD&D was introduced, as a more more advanced version of D&D, my original game), most of this discussion means nothing to me. I have no idea what sorcerors used to be like, and I confess, I'm wondering - does it really matter? I guess if there was something about sorcerors that was really superb and elegant in game playing terms, and which has now been dropped, that would be sad - but I'm not getting what that is from this discussion. I'm just hearing a lot of arguments that sound to me, the untutored, like a bunch of historical linguists having an argument about whether "ain't" is acceptable, or whether it's ungrammatical to say "he hasn't got any spells left". Who cares about the history? If it works and is understood and used, then it works, and it's in the language.
We've only just started trying out sorcerors so I don't know for sure how well they're going to work, but my initial feeling is that they work pretty well in the party, they provide interesting fodder for characterisation, and they are fun as something new to try. Personally, I find the specialisms a far more exciting development, but the Sorceror is a positive addition for our group.
I think this is fundamentally about background - if you've come up through 3e/4e you'll feel differently from someone (like me) who never knew that way of playing. I guess it's a shame if you can't enjoy the Sorceror as we can, but then maybe WotC will introduce something that gives you the option (e.g. through specialism) of making them the way you're used to them being.