I'm speculating about D&D magic today. As 3rd edition (3.5 and Pathfinder) stands, spellcasters are required to rest for 8 hours then prepare spells for another hour or so before becoming ready to cast spells. This has led to the phenomenon popularly termed the "15 Minute Workday". Where, especially among low-level adventuring parties, the entire expedition comes to a halt for 8 hours after each significant encounter.
Originally, the "spells per day" mechanic was a means by which to balance the potential overwhelming power of the spellcasting classes to the non-spellcasters. In early editions, non-spellcasting classes were in the action spotlight at low levels, and were slowly eclipsed by the spellcasters at high levels. As the game has evolved, so has the assumption that the fighter and theif should become secondary to wizards and clerics beyond a certain level. Modern D&D strives to make the spellcasting classes more active at lower levels, as well as allowing the non-spellcasters to maintain a critical role in adventuring.
Or to put it anohter way (and I am badly misremembering and paraphrasing WotCs own game designers here) the goal is to make every class FUN to play at every level. Personally, I think that's a very admirable goal. Few people want to see their characters fade into irrelevance just as they're tasting epic levels of power and ability. Likewise, few people really want to spend weeks or months of gaming sessions feeling vulnerable and fragile.
I believe an avenue that is ripe for change in DND Next is the time needed to prepare and memorize spells (or replenish their "spells per day" for those classes that use spells, but need not prepare or memorize them, like Sorcerers). As it stands, the ratio of time spent preparing spells versus the time those spells are useful is awkward (to say the least). At the same time, requiring spellcasters to commit time to preparing those spells is a valuable touchstone, and what I would call a core element of spellcasters in D&D. I'd like to balance that ratio to something more equitable while keeping that dramatic element of powerful spells as a renewable, but limited resource.
I'm defining "powerful spell" as any spell that is the highest level a spellcaster can cast at their current Caster Level. So, at 3rd level, a 2nd level spell would be "powerful" whereas by 15th level, 7th and 8th level spells are "powerful" by this definition.
So, I'm proposing the following houserule. Instead of an 8 hour rest plus an hour for spell preparation. Each spellcaster must spend a set amount of time preparing their spells (by whichever means are appropriate to their class) based on the level of spells they are preparing and the caster level they have currently earned.
Table - SP1 (SP for SuperPheemy, I'm nothing if not self-promotional)
Time required to prepare spells.
1 hour for each spell of the caster's maximum Spell Level Castable plus ;
30 minutes for each spell of the casters maximum Spell Level -1 plus ;
15 muntes for each spell of any lower Spell Level plus ;
15 minutes for all spells of 0 level.
With this altenrative rule, spellcasters get needed flexibility in how they use their time during an adventure without being forced to halt the action for extended periods of time. However, the time needed to prepare the highest level of spells available to a given spellcaster means that period is not trivial.
So I invite those of you who are following my humble little blog to playtest this houserule if you are so inclined. And if you do, please let me know if it works, or if it doesn't and the hows and whys. And if you're one of the Designers working on this new edition, just consider this my tiny contribution toward making the game I've come to love just a little bit better.