Vancian Magic


4th Edition

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There is a heated discussion about how Monte wants to reintroduce Vancian magic. A lot of people don't want him to.

My response?

OF course you are right. Monte Cook should copy the entire Character Creation rules from Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition, present them in a fantasy way, and publish that in the D&D Core Rulebook.

You know, sometimes we all can't have what we want in RPGs. Some are suggesting a mana pool to copy every CRPG out there. I really don't think this is the way to go forward on the Core Rulebook, though.

If we are going to have powers, Mutants and Masterminds' power system is best way to go.


Magic is, by its nature, impossible to define - why should our game have rules for magic that make any sense? Finding the perfect land between playability and atmosphere, is always a challenge. I played the D&D magic system in its first incarnation, had fun, and never really had a problem with it.


Terquem wrote:
Magic is, by its nature, impossible to define - why should our game have rules for magic that make any sense? Finding the perfect land between playability and atmosphere, is always a challenge. I played the D&D magic system in its first incarnation, had fun, and never really had a problem with it.

Me neither. :)

People don't understand that Table Top Roleplaying is different what you play on the Computer. But still . . . You can't convince them otherwise. If they want something that makes sense to them, I'll point them to M&M 3rd, since it's so much easier to work with (I've been running games with M&M 3rd for a couple of weeks now and I've been enjoying running them. 4th Edition, on the other hand, a couple of weeks and I have problems resolving the system. )


*sigh* How about no? Or at least have them stick to the "Modular" approach and have varying systems that do the same thing? Vancian magic cna be supplemented with At-will powers and abilities that can be used infrequently (heh, encounter spell) but then we're getting back to 4E's system. But really, what is so freakin' great with Vancian magic (other than some morbid attempt at nostalgia)? Monte is quoted saying:

"There are other options for other classes, but for Wizard, Cleric (core), Vancian is the way to go. There's something to be said for picking spells that match what you think is coming. Rewarding. I know it's a bit controversial, but I think Vancian magic is a core element of D&D."

No. No, no, and then some more no. Simply put, I find nothing rewarding by "picking the correct spell (ie. answer) for the situation." In fact, I get the feeling of dodging a bullet because I had picked right, not wrong with spell selection. Why do you think Reserve feats received such great reviews with Complete Mage supplment? Why do you think people really like At-Will spells and Encounter Powers? Because your useful fight after fight. This is a big step backwards, rewarding psople who pick the right spells while putting people who don't at a serious disadvantage.

Do you know how frustrating it was fighting monsters that had resistances to the spells you selected, thus requring you do delve into a pretty limited supply of magical items (which, BTW, aren't going to probably see as big an impact with D&D:next)? It sucked. Example~ Group: "hey, we're getting crushed because this guy is invisible, wizard what do you have??!" Wizard: "Uh, yea sorry I didn't prepare See Invisibility guys, went with Scorching Ray instead. Sorry, we're SoL."

And I know they're making Feats that can be treated as at-will attacks but I have a sickening feeling that it'll be far far inferior to "real" spells and probably have no effects aside from some damage (heh, like crappy cantrips).

IF they're going to bring back Vancian magic, I'd be far far far happier they implemeent a system that Wizard and Clerics (Core) can opt-out for instead of Vancian all-the-way! Another thing, what if they tie in magical healing with Vancian casting? That would be another crappy design. Sorry Cleric, but your going to have to choose between saving your friends (via Healing spells) or possibly making the killing blow on the monster (Inflict Wounds) but no worries, just your allies lives in the balance.


Diffan wrote:
No. No, no, and then some more no. Simply put, I find nothing rewarding by "picking the correct spell (ie. answer) for the situation." In fact, I get the feeling of dodging a bullet because I had picked right, not wrong with spell selection.

Agreed. The only way that Vancian spell memorization becomes a worthwhile game mechanic is if players are consistently given a solid indication of the sorts of tools they will need during the upcoming day. If most of your adventuring days are spent exploring the unknown, your spell memorization becomes a matter of crossing your fingers, which isn't terribly interesting.

That said, indications from Sunday's DDXP seminar are that (as you noted) D&D Next will have something similar to reserve feats - at-will spells that you can learn by taking a feat. If this is the case, and if robust support is provided for other non-Vancian spellcasting options, I don't foresee a problem. Players who like the guessing game of Vancian memorization can have their way, and players that like flexibility on-the-fly can have their way.


Scott Betts wrote:
The only way that Vancian spell memorization becomes a worthwhile game mechanic is if players are consistently given a solid indication of the sorts of tools they will need during the upcoming day.

Which means you have to know what's coming, and that's the LAST thing I want to know. I want to be surprised. Occasionally, it's nice to plan ahead and see a clever scheme work out, but on the whole I want mystery and discovery of the unknown. Vancian magic is diametrically opposed to my gaming style.


Vancian casters usually have a mix of spells for every situation while on general exploration and prepare a one-sided mix when going after something specific (or when playing something thematic, like an elemental magician).


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, PF Special Edition Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Starfinder Superscriber

Whilst I'm not really a fan of Vancian magic on the rather dubious grounds that it "doesn't make sense". I do think it's an important element of what makes D&D D&D. Granted it was much reduced in 4E (though wizards still had that 'pick a daily' option) - it's been pretty central in every other edition though.


Sebastrd wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
The only way that Vancian spell memorization becomes a worthwhile game mechanic is if players are consistently given a solid indication of the sorts of tools they will need during the upcoming day.
Which means you have to know what's coming, and that's the LAST thing I want to know. I want to be surprised. Occasionally, it's nice to plan ahead and see a clever scheme work out, but on the whole I want mystery and discovery of the unknown. Vancian magic is diametrically opposed to my gaming style.

I think there's some moderate ground between having an idea of the sorts of threats you might be up against, and having the adventure spoiled for you.

But I largely agree. I see very little mechanical reasoning behind Vancian magic, and I'm convinced that if D&D were developed today from scratch, such a magic system wouldn't even be on the table. It's there because it's been in previous editions of D&D, and that's basically it.


Guys, what you need is d20 Advanced Magic. It's non-vancian spell casting, each spell is cast according to a DC. No memorization required, you just need to know the spell and you cast it.

Problem solved, everyone's together.


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Scott Betts wrote:
Diffan wrote:
No. No, no, and then some more no. Simply put, I find nothing rewarding by "picking the correct spell (ie. answer) for the situation." In fact, I get the feeling of dodging a bullet because I had picked right, not wrong with spell selection.
Agreed. The only way that Vancian spell memorization becomes a worthwhile game mechanic is if players are consistently given a solid indication of the sorts of tools they will need during the upcoming day. If most of your adventuring days are spent exploring the unknown, your spell memorization becomes a matter of crossing your fingers, which isn't terribly interesting.

Yeah, because one of the main complaints about 3.5 and Pathfinder is that casters are so completely eclipsed by martial classes. How they never have any useful spells memorized. There are even classes that choose their spells when they level. They must be completely useless.


thejeff wrote:
Yeah, because one of the main complaints about 3.5 and Pathfinder is that casters are so completely eclipsed by martial classes. How they never have any useful spells memorized. There are even classes that choose their spells when they level. They must be completely useless.

Have you met AM Barbarian?


thejeff wrote:
Scott Betts wrote:
Diffan wrote:
No. No, no, and then some more no. Simply put, I find nothing rewarding by "picking the correct spell (ie. answer) for the situation." In fact, I get the feeling of dodging a bullet because I had picked right, not wrong with spell selection.
Agreed. The only way that Vancian spell memorization becomes a worthwhile game mechanic is if players are consistently given a solid indication of the sorts of tools they will need during the upcoming day. If most of your adventuring days are spent exploring the unknown, your spell memorization becomes a matter of crossing your fingers, which isn't terribly interesting.

Yeah, because one of the main complaints about 3.5 and Pathfinder is that casters are so completely eclipsed by martial classes. How they never have any useful spells memorized. There are even classes that choose their spells when they level. They must be completely useless.

At 1st through about 4th/5th level, damn right. At 6th level (or about the time you start gaining 4th level spells) and the XP available to burn in making magical wands, rods, and wondrous items less so. Vancian wasn't so much a complain (though I thought it was) because of all the other 'Bigger' problems 3E and PF faced. But hey, might as well start somewhere.

Sovereign Court

So lets say there is an opt out way to get rid of Vancian casting for your PC. How will you feel if your wizard is not using it but the guy next to you as a cleric does?

Liberty's Edge

Scott Betts wrote:
Vancian magic ... It's there because it's been in previous editions of D&D, and that's basically it.

Of course, a great many people see value in that. Honoring tradition can be a good thing. The more one strays from the original, the less one can still consider what you have the original ...


Pan wrote:
So lets say there is an opt out way to get rid of Vancian casting for your PC. How will you feel if your wizard is not using it but the guy next to you as a cleric does?

Wouldn't bother me. That's actually beneficial in my eyes - everyone could play the way they want to. You could choose Vancian slots, and I could choose MP. Seems like that'd be in keeping with the design philosophy.

I personally prefer a mana pool or MP solution to the problem. 3.X's spell point system in Unearthed Arcana worked fine, and you could play those characters alongside a standard 3.X Vancian caster without too much disparity, in my experience. If I had the choice to play using a MP pool and simply had my options narrowed as a wizard - as opposed to, say, running a sorcerer with more spell options at hand but less MP to burn through each day - I'd highly prefer that to traditional spell-slot-by-level. And the way some of the seminars describe how damage on spells is capped (the fireball example where doing more than 5d6 damage would take up a higher-level slot) should make such an approach easier and more balanced.

(I'd also like to see Monte implement something he did in his own work - making character level match spell level. It strips away another layer of inconsistency from numerical explanations to new players, and this method would continue to follow in 4E's footsteps of power ratings matching the character's level.)

But I'll still try D&D Next if they decide to go back to the old slot system, regardless of my feelings on the issue.

Sczarni

Maybe the "modular" approach will allow Vancian magic as an option. Of course, it will always be the DM's choice whether he wants to limit things to just a particular magic system in his own game. So an old-schooler could run Vancian only, or someone who hates it can ban Vancian altogether.

Of course, this doesn't really address what sort of powers will come in official D&D publications. Will the NPCs in adventures and supplements have Vancian spells, or not?

This is a fundamental limitation to the "modular" system. I doubt they're planning on statting out every single monster and NPC with every conceivable set of options. So there will still be a "default mode", no matter how much they try to make things modular for PCs.


Elton wrote:

OF course you are right. Monte Cook should copy the entire Character Creation rules from Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition, present them in a fantasy way, and publish that in the D&D Core Rulebook.

Actually, Green Ronin already did something like this with M&M 2nd edition. The book is called Warriors & Warlocks.


Enevhar Aldarion wrote:
Elton wrote:

OF course you are right. Monte Cook should copy the entire Character Creation rules from Mutants and Masterminds 3rd Edition, present them in a fantasy way, and publish that in the D&D Core Rulebook.

Actually, Green Ronin already did something like this with M&M 2nd edition. The book is called Warriors & Warlocks.

What a perfect opportunity for Monte to copy some rules. :)

Dark Archive

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Diffan wrote:

*sigh* How about no? Or at least have them stick to the "Modular" approach and have varying systems that do the same thing? Vancian magic cna be supplemented with At-will powers and abilities that can be used infrequently (heh, encounter spell) but then we're getting back to 4E's system. But really, what is so freakin' great with Vancian magic (other than some morbid attempt at nostalgia)? Monte is quoted saying:

"There are other options for other classes, but for Wizard, Cleric (core), Vancian is the way to go. There's something to be said for picking spells that match what you think is coming. Rewarding. I know it's a bit controversial, but I think Vancian magic is a core element of D&D."

No. No, no, and then some more no. Simply put, I find nothing rewarding by "picking the correct spell (ie. answer) for the situation." In fact, I get the feeling of dodging a bullet because I had picked right, not wrong with spell selection. Why do you think Reserve feats received such great reviews with Complete Mage supplment? Why do you think people really like At-Will spells and Encounter Powers? Because your useful fight after fight. This is a big step backwards, rewarding psople who pick the right spells while putting people who don't at a serious disadvantage.

Do you know how frustrating it was fighting monsters that had resistances to the spells you selected, thus requring you do delve into a pretty limited supply of magical items (which, BTW, aren't going to probably see as big an impact with D&D:next)? It sucked. Example~ Group: "hey, we're getting crushed because this guy is invisible, wizard what do you have??!" Wizard: "Uh, yea sorry I didn't prepare See Invisibility guys, went with Scorching Ray instead. Sorry, we're SoL."

And I know they're making Feats that can be treated as at-will attacks but I have a sickening feeling that it'll be far far inferior to "real" spells and probably have no effects aside from some damage (heh, like crappy cantrips).

IF they're...

They are trying to make an edition that has the basic core elements of D&D. Vancian casting is definitely a core element of D&D whether you like it or not. It will be core, but I'm sure there will be options to have non-Vancian casting.


Cory Stafford 29 wrote:
They are trying to make an edition that has the basic core elements of D&D. Vancian casting is definitely a core element of D&D whether you like it or not. It will be core, but I'm sure there will be options to have non-Vancian casting.

The more transcrips I read, the less enthusiastic I become. As for Vancian magic being a core element, how does it better the game? What mechanical advantages does it offer that make the game more enjoyable or work in a better capacity? Because I think it's thrown in there.....well just because. Same thing with say......a Paladin's alignment. In 2E and 3E and v3.5 and Pathfinder the paladin has always been required to be Lawful Good. So just because it's in there and it's a shoe-horned lable of an "element of D&D", does that mean a 5E paladin must be Lawful Good? Because, again, it doesn't really do anything that makes the game better or innovates something that hasn't already been done in the past 25 years.

If they have alternative systems to Vancian magic for Wizards and Clerics (core) then I'll be suprised. Sure, you'll have a few feats that act like at-will spells, but I feel that they'll be greatly reduced in power/diversity to allow for "true D&D" spellcasting to prevail *rolls eyes*. Monte has already expressed his desire to rewind the game back to a version that doesn't appeal to a LOT of people for the sake of nostalgia and nostalgia alone. My main problem is that if this were a good system, a system that makes the game diverse or interesting or mechanically better then I could see it. But it doesn't. It's pandering, plain and simple.


Scott Betts wrote:
Diffan wrote:
No. No, no, and then some more no. Simply put, I find nothing rewarding by "picking the correct spell (ie. answer) for the situation." In fact, I get the feeling of dodging a bullet because I had picked right, not wrong with spell selection.

Agreed. The only way that Vancian spell memorization becomes a worthwhile game mechanic is if players are consistently given a solid indication of the sorts of tools they will need during the upcoming day. If most of your adventuring days are spent exploring the unknown, your spell memorization becomes a matter of crossing your fingers, which isn't terribly interesting.

...And this is when you pick a Spontaneous caster instead of a Prepared caster. Done and done.

Next?

Personally, I love Vancian casting and I'm fricken' pumped it's coming back. They've already said there will be feats to grant wizards at-will abilities similar to powers, so no worries of falling back to ye olde faithful crossbow, I wouldn't think.


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Diffan wrote:
Cory Stafford 29 wrote:
They are trying to make an edition that has the basic core elements of D&D. Vancian casting is definitely a core element of D&D whether you like it or not. It will be core, but I'm sure there will be options to have non-Vancian casting.

The more transcrips I read, the less enthusiastic I become. As for Vancian magic being a core element, how does it better the game? What mechanical advantages does it offer that make the game more enjoyable or work in a better capacity? Because I think it's thrown in there.....well just because. Same thing with say......a Paladin's alignment. In 2E and 3E and v3.5 and Pathfinder the paladin has always been required to be Lawful Good. So just because it's in there and it's a shoe-horned lable of an "element of D&D", does that mean a 5E paladin must be Lawful Good? Because, again, it doesn't really do anything that makes the game better or innovates something that hasn't already been done in the past 25 years.

If they have alternative systems to Vancian magic for Wizards and Clerics (core) then I'll be suprised. Sure, you'll have a few feats that act like at-will spells, but I feel that they'll be greatly reduced in power/diversity to allow for "true D&D" spellcasting to prevail *rolls eyes*. Monte has already expressed his desire to rewind the game back to a version that doesn't appeal to a LOT of people for the sake of nostalgia and nostalgia alone. My main problem is that if this were a good system, a system that makes the game diverse or interesting or mechanically better then I could see it. But it doesn't. It's pandering, plain and simple.

I've always looked at Prepared Casting as sort of the price a wizard pays for being able to bend reality on command. Besides, that's what scribing scrolls, wands, etc are for. The idea of a wizard pining over magic texts to prepare himself for the day, to me, goes together like peanut butter and jelly. Your mileage varying, yadda, yadda, yadda, etc. ad nauseum.


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Diffan wrote:
If they have alternative systems to Vancian magic for Wizards and Clerics (core) then I'll be suprised. Sure, you'll have a few feats that act like at-will spells, but I feel that they'll be greatly reduced in power/diversity to allow for "true D&D" spellcasting to prevail *rolls eyes*. Monte has already expressed his desire to rewind the game back to a version that doesn't appeal to a LOT of people for the sake of nostalgia and nostalgia alone. My main problem is that if this were a good system, a system that makes the game diverse or interesting or mechanically better then I could see it. But it doesn't. It's pandering, plain and simple.

It's looking like D&D Next is going to alienate some of the 4E crowd just by virtue of returning the game to some of its roots that people who fled from the most recent edition miss terribly. Things like a robust nine-point alignment system being abandoned in favor of a very simplistic and linear five-point one, saving throws being replaced by static defenses, and the power system overshadowing player options at the table are what turn me off about 4E by and large. I don't think this is an opinion I'm in the minority on, either.

So I guess what I'm saying is, maybe it's a little hard for me to feel empathy for the 4E folks complaining about the return of Vancian magic, because now they know how I felt in 2008. =]

That doesn't mean, though, that Vancian is, or should be, the only solution to making casters feel distinct from martial characters. I also hope that the at-will selection is varied and attractive enough to caster players that they'll actually get used. There comes a point in a 3.X or Pathfinder game when 0-level spells just don't get used anymore beyond basic necessities like stabilize, read magic, and detect magic. Pathfinder at least somewhat alleviates that problem with wizard school powers and sorcerer bloodlines, however.

Sovereign Court

Diffan wrote:


The more transcrips I read, the less enthusiastic I become. As for Vancian magic being a core element, how does it better the game? What mechanical advantages does it offer that make the game more enjoyable or work in a better capacity? Because I think it's thrown in there.....well just because. Same thing with say......a Paladin's alignment. In 2E and 3E and v3.5 and Pathfinder the paladin has always been required to be Lawful Good. So just because it's in there and it's a shoe-horned lable of an "element of D&D", does that mean a 5E paladin must be Lawful Good? Because, again, it doesn't really do anything that makes the game better or innovates something that hasn't already been done in the past 25 years.

If they have alternative systems to Vancian magic for Wizards and Clerics (core) then I'll be suprised. Sure, you'll have a few feats that act like at-will spells, but I feel that they'll be greatly reduced in power/diversity to allow for "true D&D" spellcasting to prevail *rolls eyes*. Monte has already expressed his desire to rewind the game back to a version that doesn't appeal to a LOT of people for the sake of nostalgia and nostalgia alone. My main problem is that if this were a good system, a system that makes the game diverse or interesting or mechanically better then I could see it. But it doesn't. It's pandering, plain and simple.

They tried to slaughter the sacred cows and it didn't take. Too many people want Vancian magic, nine point alignment, and lawful good Paladins. Now it sounds like they are trying to please people who don't like those things by opting out of them. If you have a problem with these things at the very core you may want to find another fantasy RPG. The sacred cows are not going anywhere.


I'd like to see them bring back the 3.5 psionics system in place of Vancian casting. Contrary to popular belief, it was very balanced outside of a handful of specific powers and overchanneling.


Power Word Unzip wrote:

It's looking like D&D Next is going to alienate some of the 4E crowd just by virtue of returning the game to some of its roots that people who fled from the most recent edition miss terribly. Things like a robust nine-point alignment system being abandoned in favor of a very simplistic and linear five-point one, saving throws being replaced by static defenses, and the power system overshadowing player options at the table are what turn me off about 4E by and large. I don't think this is an opinion I'm in the minority on, either.

So I guess what I'm saying is, maybe it's a little hard for me to feel empathy for the 4E folks complaining about the return of Vancian magic, because now they know how I felt in 2008. =]

Yep, two wrongs make a right. That IS the teaching these days, right? But aside from that, no I don't know how it feels because another gaming company isn't going to come swoop in and save the day like Paizo did for 3E. And again, if there are alternate systems detailed for classes that don't hinder them in the process, then awesome. But I just don't see that happening, even with at-will "like" attaks via feats. As for the Alignment, I use either or in my 4E games. If someone feels better about defining their actions or how their character perceives the world as Lawfun Neutral, cool. Lets go with that. It was detaching alignment from the mechanics that was a big deal for me, not making a smaller list. Semantics and all that I'm ok with changing. Hard, rule-defining mechanics I'm not.

Power Word Unzip wrote:


That doesn't mean, though, that Vancian is, or should be, the only solution to making casters feel distinct from martial characters. I also hope that the at-will selection is varied and attractive enough to caster players that they'll actually get used. There comes a point in a 3.X or Pathfinder game when 0-level spells just don't get used anymore beyond basic necessities like stabilize, read magic, and detect magic. Pathfinder at least somewhat alleviates that problem with wizard school powers and sorcerer bloodlines, however.

Cantrips outlive their combat effectiveness after about 2nd level. School abilities of Specialist wizards and bloodline powers are cool and I allow them to be used at-will in my games, but those are good steps in the right direction (but they should also level to keep inline with other options at higher levels).

Pan wrote:
They tried to slaughter the sacred cows and it didn't take. Too many people want Vancian magic, nine point alignment, and lawful good Paladins. Now it sounds like they are trying to please people who don't like those things by opting out of them. If you have a problem with these things at the very core you may want to find another fantasy RPG. The sacred cows are not going anywhere.

Wow, nice! A "STFU" sort of post. Well thanks for the offer but I'm going to decline. Why do you think I signed up for the playtest? I'm not going to let one or two people ruin the game just to make people who've already jumped ship happy. And what I find funny is that people still have no real good reasons (for the game) that make Vancian spellcasting a great choice. The nine-point alignment system is really a "Who gives a crap?" area. As long as it's not ingrained into the hard mechanics, then big deal. As for Lawful Stupid (er....Good) Paladins, apparently people LIKE being shoe-horned into a specific roleplaying aspect instead of actually having the chance to roleplay what they'd actually like. Paladins are divine warriors that fight for their God's cause, be it for strife and tyranny or freedom or justice.


Pan wrote:
They tried to slaughter the sacred cows and it didn't take. Too many people want Vancian magic, nine point alignment, and lawful good Paladins. Now it sounds like they are trying to please people who don't like those things by opting out of them. If you have a problem with these things at the very core you may want to find another fantasy RPG. The sacred cows are not going anywhere.

Oh, I think some of the sacred cows are dying. 4e killed a lot, and 5e may restore a handful. As we move forward, though, and old blood that places a premium on nostalgia and the-way-things-have-always-been is replaced by new blood that doesn't really care how well the game matches up with tradition so much as how well the game plays at the table, those sacred cows will slowly peel off. It's the natural way of things.

Dark Archive

Diffan wrote:
Cory Stafford 29 wrote:
They are trying to make an edition that has the basic core elements of D&D. Vancian casting is definitely a core element of D&D whether you like it or not. It will be core, but I'm sure there will be options to have non-Vancian casting.

The more transcrips I read, the less enthusiastic I become. As for Vancian magic being a core element, how does it better the game? What mechanical advantages does it offer that make the game more enjoyable or work in a better capacity? Because I think it's thrown in there.....well just because. Same thing with say......a Paladin's alignment. In 2E and 3E and v3.5 and Pathfinder the paladin has always been required to be Lawful Good. So just because it's in there and it's a shoe-horned lable of an "element of D&D", does that mean a 5E paladin must be Lawful Good? Because, again, it doesn't really do anything that makes the game better or innovates something that hasn't already been done in the past 25 years.

If they have alternative systems to Vancian magic for Wizards and Clerics (core) then I'll be suprised. Sure, you'll have a few feats that act like at-will spells, but I feel that they'll be greatly reduced in power/diversity to allow for "true D&D" spellcasting to prevail *rolls eyes*. Monte has already expressed his desire to rewind the game back to a version that doesn't appeal to a LOT of people for the sake of nostalgia and nostalgia alone. My main problem is that if this were a good system, a system that makes the game diverse or interesting or mechanically better then I could see it. But it doesn't. It's pandering, plain and simple.

It's not like going non-Vancian (for the most part) in 4E did them much good, or we wouldn't be talking about 5e now. What else do you expect them to do? Making a system that is definitely not D&D has already failed them. Should they try it again?


Cory Stafford 29 wrote:


It's not like going non-Vancian (for the most part) in 4E did them much good, or we wouldn't be talking about 5e now. What else do you expect them to do? Making a system that is definitely not D&D has already failed them. Should they try it again?

Vancian spellcasting WAS there in 4E, it just wasn't implemented moronically. It actually had purpose, as a limited resource had a strong effect on the game. Daily powers could (and has) changed battles in one or anothers favor. Perhaps 5E will prove me wrong and make those At-Will Spells via feats really really interesting or on-par with other options. And options are good. But if they're like Reserve Feats (no matter how much I liked them), then it'll fall short.

As for other systems and sticking to sacred cows, really that's what Paizo was for. I liked the fact that 4E gave me something completly different than Paizo. It was the best of both worlds scratching both the tactical-combat/free-form/narritive itch and Simulationism/Old-School/lets have fun breaking the game Itch.


Diffan wrote:
Yep, two wrongs make a right. That IS the teaching these days, right? But aside from that, no I don't know how it feels because another gaming company isn't going to come swoop in and save the day like Paizo did for 3E. And again, if there are alternate systems detailed for classes that don't hinder them in the process, then awesome. But I just don't see that happening, even with at-will "like" attaks via feats. As for the Alignment, I use either or in my 4E games. If someone feels better about defining their actions or how their character perceives the world as Lawfun Neutral, cool. Lets go with that. It was detaching alignment from the mechanics that was a big deal for me, not making a smaller list. Semantics and all that I'm ok with changing. Hard, rule-defining mechanics I'm not.

I'm pretty deadset on wanting to see 9-point alignment come back; I've been hesitant to houserule this in my own 4E game because I was worried that alignment might still be tied to mechanics. I take it from your remarks that this is no longer the case, though, and 4E treats it solely as a roleplaying tool? (Still learning the ins and outs of the system here, so go easy on me!)

I do agree that LG-only paladins don't mesh well with my style. This is a heated point of discussion, I realize, and perhaps a different name for such a character class needs to be formulated for modern parlance - crusader, maybe? Again, though, I'll point to 3.X Unearthed Arcana - that book detailed the paladins of freedom (CG), tyranny (LE), and slaughter (CE), with the paladin of honor being the default LG variant. I much prefer that approach for many of the same reasons you mentioned in your other post.

Scott Betts wrote:
Oh, I think some of the sacred cows are dying. 4e killed a lot, and 5e may restore a handful. As we move forward, though, and old blood that places a premium on nostalgia and the-way-things-have-always-been is replaced by new blood that doesn't really care how well the game matches up with tradition so much as how well the game plays at the table, those sacred cows will slowly peel off. It's the natural way of things.

Probably true. I admit my resistance to defenses (rather than saving throws) is a stubborn mental response, and in play it really doesn't bother me that much. However, I do like the rumors circulating that saving throws are based on ability scores - something I've tried to homebrew, and which Castles & Crusades already does. The new emphasis on ability scores as a defining characteristic of PCs rather than a number from which all relevant stats are merely derived is highly appealing to me.

There is probably a concern that, in order to win back those players whom 4E repelled, they NEED Vancian casting. But if they present a modular alternative that plays as well if not better at the table, who's to say that may not become the new standard as time goes by? (And here's hoping!)


Technically 4E uses a form of vancian, but in a very limited sense, if you exclude encounter powers. The focus behind considering re-introducing it most likely addresses offering characters more choices, as 4E went to the opposite side of the spectrum to limit them. I agree the next version of D&D needs to offer more choices, but I would also address the daily limit mechanic, as that is an artificial barrier. I would prefer a manage resource available to each character to determine how many spells, powers, etc, are used, such as healing surges, or something similar that could be regained throughout the day, to make adventuring more dynamic.


Diffan wrote:
The more transcrips I read, the less enthusiastic I become.

I wouldn't take any statements they make now too serious. They contradict themselves and said "we'd like to" and "wouldn't it be great if ... " that i'm convinced now they don't have a real mechanical representation of the game yet. They have the high-level concepts and some point decisions like the fireball 5d6 thing, but everything else is still undecided, undefined and undesigned.


They've already started beta testing the game. I think that might possibly suggest they have a mechanical representation. I might be wrong. :/


I am certain that, based on the recent playtests at DDXP, the designers have a working version of the rules that is being used. They need to have something concrete in order to receive useful feedback.

A big part of the reason that a lot of people are under the impression that the game's rules haven't been written is that we haven't actually heard much about the game's rules so far. That's because they're currently protected by an NDA. As testing expands and the NDA loosens or is lifted, we'll hear a lot more about what the early versions of the rules were like, as well as information on the latest version.

Sovereign Court

Scott Betts wrote:
Pan wrote:
They tried to slaughter the sacred cows and it didn't take. Too many people want Vancian magic, nine point alignment, and lawful good Paladins. Now it sounds like they are trying to please people who don't like those things by opting out of them. If you have a problem with these things at the very core you may want to find another fantasy RPG. The sacred cows are not going anywhere.
Oh, I think some of the sacred cows are dying. 4e killed a lot, and 5e may restore a handful. As we move forward, though, and old blood that places a premium on nostalgia and the-way-things-have-always-been is replaced by new blood that doesn't really care how well the game matches up with tradition so much as how well the game plays at the table, those sacred cows will slowly peel off. It's the natural way of things.

Oh I agree. However they wont die soon and it certainly wont happen in 5E. I like Vancian magic, nine point alignment, and lawful good paladins. I am also not a dying old greybeard and have many many gaming years ahead. The game plays just fine for me with sacred cows intact thank you very much.

I understand many do not like these things. I am trying to say chill out its quite possible to make a modular game that will allow you and me to enjoy the game our own way. There is no need to thump chests and draw lines in the sand. If however, the game has pre-4E Vancian magic and you find that unacceptable (even with opt out rules) I think you are going to be very disappointed.

Sovereign Court

Scott Betts wrote:

I am certain that, based on the recent playtests at DDXP, the designers have a working version of the rules that is being used. They need to have something concrete in order to receive useful feedback.

A big part of the reason that a lot of people are under the impression that the game's rules haven't been written is that we haven't actually heard much about the game's rules so far. That's because they're currently protected by an NDA. As testing expands and the NDA loosens or is lifted, we'll hear a lot more about what the early versions of the rules were like, as well as information on the latest version.

I think Scott is right on this. Right now, I think the concentration is building the core of the game. Once they feel they have that right, I suspect they'll expand the game to make it possible to emulate 4E mechanics.

This is a make-or-break edition for them. IMO, they can't afford to alienate their 4E base too much, or it'll be a similar schism that happened when they went from 3.5 to 4E. Hence why they'll be playtesting. From the reports I've read from this past weekend, the rules they played seemed to be emulating 1E/2E. This will probably be what will become the "core" rules, and once they feel they hammered this down, they will then move onto getting 3E and 4E modules to feel right.

One of the questions apparently asked on the feedback form was something along the lines of "What is your favored edition?" (as well as "three things you like about this" and "three things you dislike about this"), as well as having an option to subscribe to playtesting. One of the playtesters speculated that they'll be looking to make sure they have a good representation from all versions of D&D covered by the playtesters, so that no "group" will feel leftout on their feedback.

Of course, that is speculation at this point, but I figured I'd post it in case it'll help out some of the people who are "worried" about the way D&D Next is going.


Entilzha wrote:
One of the questions apparently asked on the feedback form was something along the lines of "What is your favored edition?" (as well as "three things you like about this" and "three things you dislike about this"), as well as having an option to subscribe to playtesting. One of the playtesters speculated that they'll be looking to make sure they have a good representation from all versions of D&D covered by the playtesters, so that no "group" will feel leftout on their feedback.

I agree that this is probably what they're shooting for. So far, however, the only public playtesting has been through DDXP, which is a fairly narrow audience (self-selected of those who both attend DDXP - largely fans of current or recent D&D editions, I'd wager - and those interested in trying out the next edition). I don't think they'll reach a lot of older edition fans until they're either specifically solicited for feedback, or the playtest is opened up.


I always liked the 'Vancian' (or what I call it the D&D) magic system. It limits casters in a interesting way. I mean with limited resouces why should the cleric take the spell Find Traps or the Wizard take Knock if there is a rogue in the group? Sure if there is not having those spells is pretty awesome...

Anyway we'll see what they do...though I am having a feeling we'll see alot of Pathfinder (Wizard's school powers, Clerics Domains, Oracle's Mysteries, Witch's Hexes) type things in 5th edition.

I think people need to be atleast patience here...alot of these annoucements are just fishing trips to gauge their fan base reactions. There is really no point getting all emotional about this.


John Kretzer wrote:
I always liked the 'Vancian' (or what I call it the D&D) magic system. It limits casters in a interesting way. I mean with limited resouces why should the cleric take the spell Find Traps or the Wizard take Knock if there is a rogue in the group? Sure if there is not having those spells is pretty awesome...

I don't think we need to hash out a whole Vancian-vs.-non-Vancian war here, but there are interesting ways to limit casters that don't involve the false dilemma that Vancian casting presents. There are a lot of very good reasons to support other sorts of spellcasting systems - spell points, spontaneous casting, 4e's AEDU system, etc. - and precious few in favor of Vancian beyond the nostalgia and tradition factors.

Again, if D&D's magic system were developed, today, from scratch, there's almost no chance it would look anything like the Vancian memorization system the game was raised on. I don't think it would survive a pros-and-cons design roundtable discussion when put up against the other roads that can be taken.


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Scott Betts wrote:
John Kretzer wrote:
I always liked the 'Vancian' (or what I call it the D&D) magic system. It limits casters in a interesting way. I mean with limited resouces why should the cleric take the spell Find Traps or the Wizard take Knock if there is a rogue in the group? Sure if there is not having those spells is pretty awesome...

I don't think we need to hash out a whole Vancian-vs.-non-Vancian war here, but there are interesting ways to limit casters that don't involve the false dilemma that Vancian casting presents. There are a lot of very good reasons to support other sorts of spellcasting systems - spell points, spontaneous casting, 4e's AEDU system, etc. - and precious few in favor of Vancian beyond the nostalgia and tradition factors.

Again, if D&D's magic system were developed, today, from scratch, there's almost no chance it would look anything like the Vancian memorization system the game was raised on. I don't think it would survive a pros-and-cons design roundtable discussion when put up against the other roads that can be taken.

And the beauty part is, there are tons of games out there that don't use Vancian magic that you can play since it's so inefficient and just pointless pandering. Heck, I hear there's even a version of D&D that doesn't use it. You might really dig it.

The game isn't all about perfect mathematical ratios and efficiency, it's about role-playing fantasy. Even in imagination-land, the numbers aren't always perfect. Vancian spellcasting is viewed by a LOT of players as a very "Sacred Cow," and should have some place in the new iteration if they are really vying for uniting fans of all editions.

But, take another look at the team making 5e; many of them were responsible for alternate systems within other editions. So, even though Vancian is back, I have a very, very strong feeling it's not going to be the only way to use magic. Heck, Monte even says in the seminar that magic is going to be about more than just spells. If Vancian spellcasting is just one kind of spellcasting, I am perfectly ok with that, and I welcome all the other options.

For me, the removal of Vancian spellcasting made about as much sense as removing Lightsabers from Star Wars; who really sword-fights when everyone in the galaxy is carrying firearms? It's part of the package. Not everything in the game has to be efficient and perfect to "fit." Vancian spellcasting always just felt (to me, not speaking for a crowd) like a part of the game. By removing it, I might as well just go play something else.

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

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Josh M. wrote:

For me, the removal of Vancian spellcasting made about as much sense as removing Lightsabers from Star Wars; who really sword-fights when everyone in the galaxy is carrying firearms? It's part of the package. Not everything in the game has to be efficient and perfect to "fit." Vancian spellcasting always just felt (to me, not speaking for a crowd) like a part of the game. By removing it, I might as well just go play something else.

I was about to write words to this effect. It would be like playing Battletech w/o mechs, or Doctor Who w/o time travel. Vancean casting is part and parcel of D&D.*

*

Spoiler:
I am trying very hard NOT to enjoy the thought of those people who cheered the loss of D&D style casters in 4e wailing and gnashing their teeth at the possibility/likelyhood of their return.

But I'm a Hermit, not a saint.


I'm wondering why the retention of Vancian magic is called things like "pandering" and "nostalgic", "sacred cow" and other, less attractive things. As if Vancian magic is there only because grognards like it and are clamoring for it.

When I played AD&D I thought that having to key spells was stupid. I wanted my spellcasters to be able to cast any spell they knew, whenever they needed to. And I jumped on any chance to be able to cast spells without losing spell slots, or, if it was possible, to get "at-will" spells.

But I've discovered that the problem of power and spellcasters is more of an issue than I knew back then. After a certain point, in most iterations of the game, spellcasters come to dominate it long before a fighting type has reached his full potential. This is a well-known problem.

Vancian magic, and its accompanying restrictions, is an attempt to curb the power imbalance. Removing those restrictions simply compounds the issue. (It became especially noticeable when the casting times and other restrictions of AD&D were removed in 3E.)

Since 5E is an edition that's supposed to simulate play in every iteration of the game, if you don't use Vancian magic, what are you going to do about overpowered mages?

And please don't talk about how balanced 4E is. 5E is not going to be 4E.


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

tangent to Matthew Morris' spoiler:
I love that movie. Only movie based on an excellent book that had almost nothing in common with the original text and still managed to be awesome in its own right. :)

Sovereign Court RPG Superstar 2009 Top 32, 2010 Top 8

Joana wrote:
** spoiler omitted **

Spoiler:
I liked Disney's Three Musketteers the same way. I mean if you played it over Dumas' grave, you could power france by hooking a generator to his spinning corpse, but as a D&D swashbucklerly movie, it was fun.

What movie is that?


Pathfinder Companion, Maps Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The Count of Monte Cristo :)


Jerry Wright 307 wrote:
I'm wondering why the retention of Vancian magic is called things like "pandering" and "nostalgic", "sacred cow" and other, less attractive things. As if Vancian magic is there only because grognards like it and are clamoring for it.

Probably because there are some who feel the fire-and-forget style of the older games isn't to their liking. One reason why Sorcerers were made was to give a player a different perspective on spellcasting (spontaneous). Also, it harkens back to the 15-minute adventuring day. A spellcasting class that can't cast spells shuts down adventuring for 6-8 hours while they regain spells. Vancian spellcasting excaserbates this problem. BUT if a spellcaster retains certain spells (less powerful ones mind you) on a regular basis, they (the devs) can make the Vancian-spellcasting spells REALLY powerful, to showcase their importance in the loss of said spell after being cast.

At early levels, it was often that they would hold onto their spells until finally needed, thus resorting to mundane weapons. I called this the Dehydration Effect. It's said that many people found dead in the desert often had water on them. But they held their reserves in case they really needed it. Which would often make them too weak to continue and thus dying. Same effect is applied to low-level Vancian spellcasters. They wait and wait and wait until they think their spells are REALLY going to be needed until an unluckly crit kills them off or one of their party members and then it's too late. Personally I dont like seeing this in my D&D, it doesn't do anything for me and I'd like options available that allow me to avert this. Others may like this aspect, but I don't think Vancian magic makes it "Real D&D".

Jerry Wright 307 wrote:


When I played AD&D I thought that having to key spells was stupid. I wanted my spellcasters to be able to cast any spell they knew, whenever they needed to. And I jumped on any chance to be able to cast spells without losing spell slots, or, if it was possible, to get "at-will" spells.

But I've discovered that the problem of power and spellcasters is more of an issue than I knew back then. After a certain point, in most iterations of the game, spellcasters come to dominate it long before a fighting type has reached his full potential. This is a well-known problem.

Vancian magic, and its accompanying restrictions, is an attempt to curb the power imbalance. Removing those restrictions simply compounds the issue. (It became especially noticeable when the casting times and other restrictions of AD&D were removed in 3E.)

It (meaning Vancian spellcasting) really doesn't do a good job of curbing any imbalance after about 7th level. And here's a few reasons:

First is the effects of spells above 3rd level. Simply put, one or two of them can (and has) ended battles (at least in my games). Espically against encounters designed for that level. When you only rattle off one or two spells and the fight's over, you retain a lot of lower levels ones. Decrease the effect of spells or their duration or increase monster's resistances to them and you have more balance because your requiring them to dip more into their reserves (but this then fuels the 15-min workday effect).

Second is magic items. They're hard-wired into character advancments (in 4E as well) and this creates more imbalance. If a wizard can make or buy a wand or scrolls with specific spells, why would he need to waste slots on preparing them again? The more a wizard accumulates in these items the less he relies on the restrcitions of vancian spellcasting. My wife's 12th level Wizard only rarely dips into her spell-slots because she's gained A LOT of consumable items along her adventuring career. As we played through the Cormyr: Tearing of the Weave and Shadowdale: Scouring of the Land adventures, she had over a dozen scrolls with spells that weren't memorized, wands upon wands with 15+ charges or more (all with spells that weren't known or memorized) AND she's a smart player, using her spells and tactics to the best of their capability. Simply put, the vancian limitations don't apply to her.

Jerry Wright 307 wrote:


Since 5E is an edition that's supposed to simulate play in every iteration of the game, if you don't use Vancian magic, what are you going to do about overpowered mages?

And please don't talk about how balanced 4E is. 5E is not going to be 4E.

One solution is negating any chance of memorizing multiples of the same spell. You want fireball? Sure, you can memorize it but your brain really can only comprehend one such spell at a time. Another solution, decreasing effects of spells. This would mean keeping level draining, ability draining, and save-or-die spells dead and buried. A third solution is bringing back spell components, which I feel was another attempt at balance in v3.5 but I've never found a group that paid much attention to them aside from the really expensive ones (like Stone Skin). Bring back the requirment of spell components and somehow infuse them with the mechanics and you might come close to achieving a good system that doens't require Vancian spellcasting YET doesn't look like 4E either.


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I disagree with most of what you've said. It's been my experience that the majority of spellcasters in a typical D&D game seldom run completely out of spell usages, even in dungeon situations. But then that's because most spellcasters in games I've played in don't bulk up on combat spells. Combat is best handled by those characters designed for it, like fighters and barbarians.

I don't accept the notion of the 15-minute adventuring day. That's poor planning on the party's part. Spellcasting isn't intended to replace fighter types. It is intended to provide support. Treating wizards as artillery or expecting the cleric to cast a cure light wounds spell on every hangnail is what depletes spell usages so that casters have to rest 6-8 hours before the next encounter.

A single day in D&D can result in multiple encounters; in AD&D, there were up to six chances per day, and in 3E there's a percentage chance every hour. That should tell you that Vancian spellcasters were meant to be circumspect in what they cast, since their spells were meant to last through multiple encounters.

Making a selection of specific spells exceptionally powerful while giving casters at-will uses of less-powerful spells does not help the problem of power creep (IMO, it would make the problem worse). While I admit that the number of spell usages a caster has tends to overwhelm the restrictions of Vancian magic, having to carefully select those spells provides some control.

As far as magic items being hard-wired into character advancement, I don't remember whether it was Mearls or Cook who mentioned that wasn't going to be the case in 5E. Apparently, magic items are going back to what they were originally - bonuses, not necessities. (Controlled by the DM, undoubtedly.)


After finding this out, hearing vague tweets from DDXP people, and the latest Legends and Lore, I think 4E is truly f****d as far as core goes. Clerics and Wizards are Vancian characters period, a few at-will magic feats does not change this significantly. Don't want Vancian? Go pick another class.

That said, two things we do know; one, they want a way to swap out low level spell slots at higher level, so the # of options gets less ridiculous as you enter high levels; and two, they want some of those crazy imbalanced 3E magics turned into expensive/time consuming rituals, which sounds to me like they aren't just going to directly reproduce the stupidly imbalanced spell list.

That said the more I found out this really sounds more like 3E rulebase simplified, polished and evolved slightly, with the simplification providing a nod to the rules-light early editions but not really duplicating their mechanics, and while they might apply some broad 4E principles, mechanics-wise 4E players are left in the cold. But hey they don't have an OGL and pay monthly for digital stuff that won't be updated anymore, so I guess Wizards will have an easier time pulling more onboard than 3E->4E.

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