On Vancian casting


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells

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I think the conceptual answer is an easy one: it's not about memorizing or forgetting. Spell preparation is simply charging the spells you chose with proper magical energies to be unleashed later. Boom. Less disconnect.

I'd still prefer an alternative to Vancian casting since it's not at all my favorite. How does Arcanist-style casting work?


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Jesikah Morning's Dew wrote:
I'd still prefer an alternative to Vancian casting since it's not at all my favorite. How does Arcanist-style casting work?

Full prepared casting- You pick which spells you want to cast and how many times you want to be able to cast each one

Spontaneous casting- You only have so many spells known, but don't have to decide in advance what spell you'll use each slot for.

Hybrid, Arcanist, or semi-prepared casting- You can learn as many spells as you want in a spellbook, and each morning you select a handful of spells to cast from spontaneously.


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Jesikah Morning's Dew wrote:

I think the conceptual answer is an easy one: it's not about memorizing or forgetting. Spell preparation is simply charging the spells you chose with proper magical energies to be unleashed later. Boom. Less disconnect.

I'd still prefer an alternative to Vancian casting since it's not at all my favorite. How does Arcanist-style casting work?

You just prepare a sublist of spells, and all those spells are avaliable for you for that day. For example, in 5th Edition (that uses Arcanist casting) a level 3 Wizard can prepare 3+Int Modifier different spells. This can be any combination of level 1 and 2 spells. Then he just uses a spell slot to cast a spell of that level normally, but the spell itself isn't expended, just the spell slot. It's basically spontaneous casting, but you prepare which spells are going to be spontaneously castable for you for that day, haha. For a Wizard you choose them from your spellbook (which has a lot more than that), for Clerics and Druids you prepare that sublist from basically all the avaliable spells, just like in Vancian.


Yeah, I'm in the same boat with Barnabas.

The casting system is simply a rules form. It's nothing I've ever gotten angry or frustrated at. It simply.. is.

Lurking everywhere, half the conversations are 'spellcasters are far too powerful over the martials', which seems odd to me when juxtaposed against the 'limitations of Vancian casting and how hard it is to play a wizard.' how is it that both are true complaints?

It just seems... odd to me to care so much for it (the casting form), but if it's truly an issue worth fixing, then, well, I hope it gets fixed. Please notice I said odd, not wrong or dumb. I just look on it without opinion. Ok, I guess 'odd'is an opinion, so excuse me for that, please.


Erpa wrote:
Lurking everywhere, half the conversations are 'spellcasters are far too powerful over the martials', which seems odd to me when juxtaposed against the 'limitations of Vancian casting and how hard it is to play a wizard.' how is it that both are true complaints?

I mean, wizards, arcanists, and sorcerers are all still Tiers 1-2. The first two are just Tier 1, compared to the Sorcerer's Tier 2, because of the theoretically infinite spells known. That's a separate issue from the most annoying part of playing a wizard being having to choose exactly how many times you want to be able to cast any given spell in a day.


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Erpa wrote:
Lurking everywhere, half the conversations are 'spellcasters are far too powerful over the martials', which seems odd to me when juxtaposed against the 'limitations of Vancian casting and how hard it is to play a wizard.' how is it that both are true complaints?

To some extent is makes sense: It's complicated and hard to do, but incredibly powerful when you get it right.

And even if you're not able to select exactly the right spells for a given occasion, there are enough broadly useful ones that you're still basically top of the heap.


Jesikah Morning's Dew wrote:
I think the conceptual answer is an easy one: it's not about memorizing or forgetting. Spell preparation is simply charging the spells you chose with proper magical energies to be unleashed later. Boom. Less disconnect.

Shockingly, that's exactly how it's described in the rules. Isn't that convenient.


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Erpa wrote:
Lurking everywhere, half the conversations are 'spellcasters are far too powerful over the martials', which seems odd to me when juxtaposed against the 'limitations of Vancian casting and how hard it is to play a wizard.' how is it that both are true complaints?

Both are true complaints because casters being more powerful than martials is something that can be corrected in multiple ways. Fixing it by making casting fiddly, annoying, and contrary-to-the-inspirational-concept is one such method, but if we can fix C/MD without the headache, then let's do that instead.


RazarTuk wrote:
On a similar and opposite note, things like Harry Potter are rising to prominence in the place of Jack Vance. It's easy enough to accept spell slots as a means of balance, even if spell slots or spherecasting (roughly kineticist, but without the nonlethal from burn) would be a better fit. But compared to just picking what spells you want to be able to cast in the day, it's significantly more odd to have to decide exactly how many times you want to be able to cast Lumos in the day.

Of course, Potter style casting isn't really much more like Arcanist (or Spontaneous) than it's like Vancian. About the only similarity is that magic is organized into discrete names spells, but there's no "picking spells to use for the day" or limitations on spell slots or spells known. You learn spells like you learn anything else and once you learn them you can do them essentially at will.

I suspect you'd run into just as much "But I know Lumos, why can't I cast it" as "what do you mean I have to decide how many times". And the justification is essentially still going to be the same: "mechanical balance".

Similarly with most other fictional magic systems. Very few of them resemble any kind of D&D/PF casting. Some one coming to PF from experience with any of them is going to need to accept adjustments mostly just based on "that's what the rules say".


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Tectorman wrote:
Erpa wrote:
Lurking everywhere, half the conversations are 'spellcasters are far too powerful over the martials', which seems odd to me when juxtaposed against the 'limitations of Vancian casting and how hard it is to play a wizard.' how is it that both are true complaints?
Both are true complaints because casters being more powerful than martials is something that can be corrected in multiple ways. Fixing it by making casting fiddly, annoying, and contrary-to-the-inspirational-concept is one such method, but if we can fix C/MD without the headache, then let's do that instead.

Grod's Law: You cannot and should not balance bad mechanics by making them annoying to use


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RazarTuk wrote:


That's a separate issue from the most annoying part of playing a wizard being having to choose exactly how many times you want to be able to cast any given spell in a day.

Yeah..that's a non-issue to me. I frankly enjoy that actually. That's me, but I loved to set up traveling spell lists, cavern delving spell lists, city use lists.. But I also personally tracked spell component usage back in AD&D because that immersion was a have play aspect I liked. So, to me, this detractor holds little water.


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Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:
I have never found wizards confusing to play. I have been playing them since 1st edition. The people who talk about how confusing it is to play a wizard... I don't know what it is they don't get.

I mean, I don't "get" people that find a command line interface confusing to use, but I recognize that the vast majority of people do. Get immersed in something long enough and it's pretty hard to see it from the outside with fresh eyes.

That said, "confusing" probably isn't the right word. It's not that confusing to explain, it's just overly complicated, especially as you get to higher level. "Obtuse" is the word I'd go with.

Fundamentally, Arcanist style casting asks a caster every day to answer the question "what do you want to be able to do today?" They answer that by picking the X spells they want to have access to from some list (the spellbook, Cleric list, whatever), and that's it. When playing, all you need is your list of "I have these X spells today, and I have the following slots left."

Vancian asks the same question, but instead asks them to do it by going systematically through every slot and picking exactly what they want to do with it, at every level. Metamagic? Figure it out in advance. Think you might need a second one of something? Better decide with no idea what's actually happening tomorrow. These three slots are special and can only hold certain spells from some other list? Gotta track that.

Playing requires the full list, all the time. My current PF1 level 18 Cleric has such a list: it was more than a page long in Notepad++ before I transferred it into Hero Lab (trying to do it manually with pencil and paper just wastes so much table time everytime I need to change the list that I long ago abandoned that).

One of these is much more cumbsome, tedious, and unwieldly to handle than the other. The tradeoff for putting up with all that was that you could do almost anything with the right spells, thus we have this silly situation where people complain about casters being too powerful but they're so annoying to use that lots of people just flat out won't play them despite the power.

That all made lots of sense, once. But we've seen from experience that game design has improved since then and we can make a better system.


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Tridus wrote:

Vancian asks the same question, but instead asks them to do it by going systematically through every slot and picking exactly what they want to do with it, at every level. Metamagic? Figure it out in advance. Think you might need a second one of something? Better decide with no idea what's actually happening tomorrow. These three slots are special and can only hold certain spells from some other list? Gotta track that.

Playing requires the full list, all the time. My current PF1 level 18 Cleric has such a list: it was more than a page long in Notepad++ before I transferred it into Hero Lab (trying to do it manually with pencil and paper just wastes so much table time everytime I need to change the list that I long ago abandoned that).
...

One trick experienced players learned was to leave some slots unprepared. Then, if the party had a need for a particular specialized spell, the wizard could take 15 minutes to prepare that spell in the empty slot and then cast it.

The last time I played a prepared caster as a PC (I GM mostly these days) was a D&D 3.5 cleric. That cleric had no channeling but could spontaneously convert prepared spells into a Cure X Wounds spell of the same level. Thus, I decided how often I would need to cast a Cure spell and filled those slots with specialized spells. As I healed people during the day, I gradually lost the specialized spells. I worried in which order I should lose them, since I would be embarrassed to throw away a spell right before a hazard where I needed that spell, but that was my only worry.

I had asked yesterday about using spell points to recall spells. However, today's posts seem to be about the problem of predicting which spells would be needed. What if Pathfinder 2nd Edition developed a system to overwrite prepared spells? The wizard had prepared Fireball, but the party needs Water Breathing, so he pulls out his spellbook, gestures for 5 minutes, and rewrites the spell slot containing Fireball as Water Breathing? Technically, that is very slow spontaneity, but it should be enough to make the wizard feel different from the sorcerer, especially since it puts the spellbook front and center. What do you think about that?


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Mathmuse wrote:
I had asked yesterday about using spell points to recall spells. However, today's posts seem to be about the problem of predicting which spells would be needed. What if Pathfinder 2nd Edition developed a system to overwrite prepared spells? The wizard had prepared Fireball, but the party needs Water Breathing, so he pulls out his spellbook, gestures for 5 minutes, and rewrites the spell slot containing Fireball as Water Breathing? Technically, that is very slow spontaneity, but it should be enough to make the wizard feel different from the sorcerer, especially since it puts the spellbook front and center. What do you think about that?

But this system already exists, isn't that exactly what Quick Preparation does? It's just 10 minutes instead of 5. I mean, I would still prefer ditching Vancian casting for Arcanist. To be honest at this point it's pretty obvious that I hate Vancian casting deep within my heart and I think it's really bad for the game, buuuut, just giving Quick Preparation for everyone (and not only Wizards) and buffing spontaneous casters in other aspects to compensate would go a long way into making it better, IMO.


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I don't hate it at all, dmerceless, but I've played a Wizard for a year and I started out when things was starting to get interesting AND complicated and it was rather cumbersome to deal with changing a lot of spells and getting more and more, along with my spells, etc.

I think the Arcanist-style casting is a straight up improvement in all fronts. Mechanical benefit for Wizards, better for setting consistency and it also remov of a lot of unnecessary complications, which is the whole point of the discussion. Vancian casting is too archaic, everything around the game has been improving over the years, why not change things and deal with the new status.

Just because Wizards will get a new way of casting, doesn't mean that Sorcerers will be left untouched, there's plenty of possibilities to make them distinct and powerful in their own way, this resistance to change is quite normal, but I believe that if the system actually changed and people had the chance to try out new things, they might eventually like.

How's that saying again? "People don't know what they want until you show it to them" or something like that.

With all the said, I think Vancian Casting should remain as a alternate rule, this way, those that really love it can still play this way, but it allows the system to move forward.


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dmerceless wrote:
Mathmuse wrote:
I had asked yesterday about using spell points to recall spells. However, today's posts seem to be about the problem of predicting which spells would be needed. What if Pathfinder 2nd Edition developed a system to overwrite prepared spells? The wizard had prepared Fireball, but the party needs Water Breathing, so he pulls out his spellbook, gestures for 5 minutes, and rewrites the spell slot containing Fireball as Water Breathing? Technically, that is very slow spontaneity, but it should be enough to make the wizard feel different from the sorcerer, especially since it puts the spellbook front and center. What do you think about that?
But this system already exists, isn't that exactly what Quick Preparation does? It's just 10 minutes instead of 5. I mean, I would still prefer ditching Vancian casting for Arcanist. To be honest at this point it's pretty obvious that I hate Vancian casting deep within my heart and I think it's really bad for the game, buuuut, just giving Quick Preparation for everyone (and not only Wizards) and buffing spontaneous casters in other aspects to compensate would go a long way into making it better, IMO.

I keep thinking that the way forward for having Arcanist casting for prep casters and letting spont casters have something else is to let spont casters have a whole lot more leeway regarding metamagic than prep casters.

I.e., a prep caster has 20 spells (or his entire spell list, for Clerics and Druids) available potentially, but he has to select, say, 10 for a given day. And while some of those 10 may be wide in application inherently, the Wizard can't do anything to further expand them. Sorcerers and Bards of equivalent level, on the other hand, only know 10 spells period, but they have unique ability to make those 10 spells do 15-20 different things.

And then, lorewise, call it the inherent drawback to never truly knowing your spells. Prep casters treat all spells as temporary, never spending enough time with them to unlock their deeper mysteries (to equate it to a physical activity, Wizards never develop "spell muscle memory"). Spont casters pick a spell to know, and this choice is relatively permanent, so they not only know the spell, but everything the spell can become.


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Spontaneous casters could also actually have more spells per day than prepared casters, like they were supposed to but never did. Giving sorcerers +1 spell/level/day over wizards could make up for the reduced flexibility.

That said, wilders are awesome. Sorcerers in the vein of "I can only do a few things, but I do all of those few things in really powerful ways" would be pretty cool. You could even take to something of an extreme - maybe wizards get the normal 4-ish spells per level, while sorcerers get 3+Cha mod spells total, among all spell levels, but they can cast those spells lots of times and have strong metamagic feats to back them up.

That would very much fit the thematics of "wizards are bookish, studied and intentional, while sorcerers are raw, untrained, and unrestricted".

Also I can't help but notice that there are basically two sides to this discussion: Passionate arguments against keeping Vancian casting, and... people who don't really see the point in changing it.

I don't really see any passionate arguments in favor of keeping it, which is perhaps telling?


MaxAstro wrote:


Also I can't help but notice that there are basically two sides to this discussion: Passionate arguments against keeping Vancian casting, and... people who don't really see the point in changing it.

I don't really see any passionate arguments in favor of keeping it, which is perhaps telling?

.

Or the squeaky wheel get the oil.

I'm fine with the memorization system, but it's not a deal breaker to me unless it changes to something worse.

No one asked for Coke II, but when it replaced the original, oh, voices were heard. ;)


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Erpa wrote:

Or the squeaky wheel get the oil.

I'm fine with the memorization system, but it's not a deal breaker to me unless it changes to something worse.

No one asked for Coke II, but when it replaced the original, oh, voices were heard. ;)

Heh reminds me of people surprised suddenly that the survey returned plenty of people against the +1 skill system even when the forums were mostly in favor of it, hell most didnt even bother to show support when it was announced.

It turns out, plenty of people cant even be bothered with this place anymore.

If there is one thing this forum managed to do is indeed not represent people outside of it at all.


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To me, the most surprising result of the survey was the huge amount of people choosing to be obligated to buy +X magic items. That was straight up dumb.


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People who fill out surveys or post in forums tend not to give the most accurate picture. Lots of folk will say they want a complex and deep RPG with strong roleplaying elements, but what they actually play is 5e or similar with lots of combat and dick jokes.

For this specific topic, we already know what most people who play D&D style RPG's want, since 5e's magic system is praised as a massive improvement and it's extremely popular. And we know even D&D's brand recognition alone can't explain all that success since 4e got such a harsh reaction. Hell, even Dark Souls gave up Vancian casting for a standard magic bar system.

The question is whether the PF2 audience is sufficiently different enough from basically every other RPG's audience with little enough overlap that they might still prefer Vancian casting. In my experience, it's generally only been Pathfinder 1 and 3.5 players that have ever shown a preference for Vancian casting, and even then it's only been some of the time. No one else ever seems to think that sort of system is good or even makes sense (why isn't a wizard just preparing spells constantly up until an hour before they head anywhere dangerous?).

And even then, it's only a subset of PF1 players who really defend Vancian casting. Even among PF1 players, the group almost by definition the biggest fans of 3.5, Arcanist-style casting is a popular suggestion, or at the very least criticism of Vancian casting with some other system offered up as an alternative. If even that group can't definitively say they would prefer Vancian casting, I have a hard time believing there's really some silent majority we're not hearing from.

Especially since we're talking on Paizo's official forums, all the most hardcore of PF1 fans are right next door and very willing to crosspost. PF2 already makes too many changes to appeal to the most conservative fans of PF1, the ones midst likely to resist any changes to Vancian casting, so I would assume catering to the wishes of those who think the game already isn't for them isn't the best idea. Outside of this space, most voices I've personally seen talking about PF2 have wanted it to make more changes rather than just be PF1, which makes sense given PF1 ain't doing so hot nowadays. Not as many people repping PF1 hardcore. Doesn't necessarily mean that there's a bigger non-PF1 audience for PF2, but as I'm here as an ex-PF1 GM that fled to 5e that wished there was a crunchy system that was nearly as elegant I suspect that I'm not terribly unique and that there's others who've never played PF1 who would love a crunchy fantasy game that isn't horribly broken at its core.

So that's basically my case. If the strongest argument for Vancian casting is "there theoretically might be some population of people who will never like the system anyways who would prefer Vancian casting out of a nearly pure aversion to change" then I'd almost call the debate over. It's a new edition with lots of big changes already, no point in chickening out now. Maybe Arcanist casting isn't the one replacement that sound be made, I'd love to see an even more bold change that made the game more fun, but it is at least a very safe change to make.

I think any convincing argument for keeping Vancian casting would have to rely on its gameplay merits rather than an appeal to popularity.


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Mathmuse wrote:
Tridus wrote:

Vancian asks the same question, but instead asks them to do it by going systematically through every slot and picking exactly what they want to do with it, at every level. Metamagic? Figure it out in advance. Think you might need a second one of something? Better decide with no idea what's actually happening tomorrow. These three slots are special and can only hold certain spells from some other list? Gotta track that.

Playing requires the full list, all the time. My current PF1 level 18 Cleric has such a list: it was more than a page long in Notepad++ before I transferred it into Hero Lab (trying to do it manually with pencil and paper just wastes so much table time everytime I need to change the list that I long ago abandoned that).
...

One trick experienced players learned was to leave some slots unprepared. Then, if the party had a need for a particular specialized spell, the wizard could take 15 minutes to prepare that spell in the empty slot and then cast it.

Yeah, I do that. The other caster in that group (a Mystic Theurge) does it a lot more because they have so many spell slots. There was a stretch where they missed several sessions and I was playing both characters at once. Let me tell you, playing two high level Vancian casters and having three spell lists was not a fun experience. It was just exhausting to keep track of that much stuff.

Leaving slots empty isn't an option for Clerics in the playtest as there's no way to fill them later, and I missed it. Of course, with half the slots we had in PF1, it's also somewhat more expensive to leave a slot empty.

Quote:
The last time I played a prepared caster as a PC (I GM mostly these days) was a D&D 3.5 cleric. That cleric had no channeling but could spontaneously convert prepared spells into a Cure X Wounds spell of the same level. Thus, I decided how often I would need to cast a Cure spell and filled those slots with specialized spells. As I healed people during the day, I gradually lost the specialized spells. I worried in which order I should lose them, since I would be embarrassed to throw away a spell right before a hazard where I needed that spell, but that was my only worry.

Yep, I do that too, although I also have so many spells now that if a couple of them wind up being not needed, it's not a disaster to my effectiveness. I have lots more I can use.

The playtest really exacerbated that aspect, as with half my spell slots gone, any badly chosen one (especially the higher level ones) was severely painful and specialized stuff was hard to take on the off chance it might be useful. You just don't have the resources.

Honestly, the playtest soured me badly on Vancian casting because of this. It's the first D&D style system I've ever played in (since 1990 or so) where I enjoyed Fighter more than the caster classes. That has never happened before. So, kudos for making a fun Fighter, but damn.

Quote:
I had asked yesterday about using spell points to recall spells. However, today's posts seem to be about the problem of predicting which spells would be needed. What if Pathfinder 2nd Edition developed a system to overwrite prepared spells? The wizard had prepared Fireball, but the party needs Water Breathing, so he pulls out his spellbook, gestures for 5 minutes, and rewrites the spell slot containing Fireball as Water Breathing? Technically, that is very slow spontaneity, but it should be enough to make the wizard feel different from the sorcerer, especially since it puts the spellbook front and center. What do you think about that?

I think someone mentioned Quick Preparation already does that for Wizards. Would help if Clerics and Druids also got that, I think. It's certainly a helpful option for those narrative and restorative spells that come up surprisingly in an adventure and this option helps avoid the "oh we need X and can't get it, we're camping for the day" problem.

If it's costing spell points, it should probably be more of an in combat thing: I need it right now, so I spend 2 spell points and can cast it directly out of my spellbook/prayer/etc.

Of course, you might want that option even in an arcanist casting world, but with how limited the playtest is casting wise, it feels desperately needed.


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Helmic, I'd like to nominate that post as Best in Thread.


Maybe this won't be too hard a thing to come up with some fan rules for? I'd be very curious to see how an Arcanist-style system would work with spontaneous and learned casters, and I'd enjoy using such a system should you decide to homebrew some rules for it. I'm not really big on Vancian casting, either.


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If you switched to Arcanist casting, you'd need to redesign spontaneous casters to give them a more unique niche. I still like the idea of making sorcerers metamagic experts or similar, inspired by the wilder's wild surge. Wizards are better at learning a variety of spells, but sorcerers are better at feeling the magic- ya' know?- and have an easier (if riskier) time empowering their magic.

Alternatively, spherecasting could be incredibly easy to port over, what with how feat-focused 2e already is.


I would like Sorcerers to have "metamagic" that only they had, while also having access to metamagic itself. It would be even better if they were able to use metamagic more freely, like ignoring the first level increase in metamagic or something like that.

But having Sorcerers changed along with adding Arcanist-style for prepared casters is a necessity and probably for the better since they currently exist mostly to avoid dealing with preparing spells in the first place. Instead of being created to avoid Vancian casting, they now can have a niche of their own.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Just as an aside, Lightning Raven, based on the feats in the Playtest I would be surprised if there are any metamagic feats that raise spell level in the final version.


Lightning Raven wrote:

I would like Sorcerers to have "metamagic" that only they had, while also having access to metamagic itself. It would be even better if they were able to use metamagic more freely, like ignoring the first level increase in metamagic or something like that.

But having Sorcerers changed along with adding Arcanist-style for prepared casters is a necessity and probably for the better since they currently exist mostly to avoid dealing with preparing spells in the first place. Instead of being created to avoid Vancian casting, they now can have a niche of their own.

Of course, since the entire point of their existence is to have an alternative to Vancian casting, maybe the simpler alternative is to not have sorcerers?

You could have metamagic archetypes for wizards. Or bloodline archetypes. Or whatever gives the flavor you're looking for in sorcerers without needed to force a full class level distinction.


MaxAstro wrote:
Just as an aside, Lightning Raven, based on the feats in the Playtest I would be surprised if there are any metamagic feats that raise spell level in the final version.

Yeah, I forgot about that. But a similar effect could happen for them, like being able to heighten a spell without raising its actual cost. That would certainly be very powerful and would maybe compensate for the lack of versatility.

Shadow Lodge

What exactly do we mean by 'Vancian casting' anyway? Because as far as I can tell, Wizard/Sorcerer/Arcanist casting are ALL Vancian anyway.


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TOZ wrote:
What exactly do we mean by 'Vancian casting' anyway? Because as far as I can tell, Wizard/Sorcerer/Arcanist casting are ALL Vancian anyway.

Terminology on this is a bit complicated. When I'm talking about Vancian casting, or classic Vancian casting as I prefer to call it for less confusion, I'm talking about a spellcasting system in which you need to prepare each casting of a spell in the specific slot separately. It's called that because in Jack Vance's books spells were like allocated into someone's mind and when cast they were "erased".

Spontaneous casting and Arcanist are derived from the Vancian system, but since spells are not erased after being used, only the spell slot is expended, they don't share a lot of its issues IMO.


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TOZ wrote:
What exactly do we mean by 'Vancian casting' anyway? Because as far as I can tell, Wizard/Sorcerer/Arcanist casting are ALL Vancian anyway.

I think the general definitions are

Full Vancian - PF1 Wizard

Spells are prepared in spell slots. And after they are cast the spell is gone.

If you want to cast three fireballs that day you need to prepared three separate Fireballs.

Semi/Neo/Quasi Vancian - 5e Wizard/PF1 Arcanist/PF1 Sorcorrer

Spells are prepared/known separately from spell slots. And not forgotten after they are cast.

If you want to cast three fireballs in a day you need to expend three spell slots of appropriate power but you only need to prepare it/know it once.

EDIT: Ninja'ed but I think we agree on the general definitions.


TOZ knows all this of course. He's just pointing out that they're all derived from proper proto Vancian.

Of course for real Vancian magic, you'd also never be able to prepare more that a tiny handful of spells (maybe 4?) and it would take days and you'd use them over the course of the whole adventure, but mostly you'd fight with a sword like everybody else. (It's been a long time since I read those, but I think that was the basic approach.)

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure, Rulebook Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
TOZ knows all this of course. He's just pointing out that they're all derived from proper proto Vancian.

I honestly don't even see the usefulness of the term, given how small the differences are.


thejeff wrote:

TOZ knows all this of course. He's just pointing out that they're all derived from proper proto Vancian.

Of course for real Vancian magic, you'd also never be able to prepare more that a tiny handful of spells (maybe 4?) and it would take days and you'd use them over the course of the whole adventure, but mostly you'd fight with a sword like everybody else. (It's been a long time since I read those, but I think that was the basic approach.)

This system, at least as you presented here, seems to be completely different of what Pathfinder supposedly intends to be, which is gearing faster and faster into high-fantasy territory as the levels go by.

Spending days to prepare a spell and only have 4 of them seems way more like low-magic sword and barely any sorcery type of stuff. Which I would actually be okay with, if the game we're playing is supposed to have people flying by level 5 (that's a stretch of course, but you still can get Fly as a 3rd level spell) and shooting rays of fire, summoning a lot of monsters and throwing large fireballs... All of these with just a couple of seconds of casting time.


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Lightning Raven wrote:
thejeff wrote:

TOZ knows all this of course. He's just pointing out that they're all derived from proper proto Vancian.

Of course for real Vancian magic, you'd also never be able to prepare more that a tiny handful of spells (maybe 4?) and it would take days and you'd use them over the course of the whole adventure, but mostly you'd fight with a sword like everybody else. (It's been a long time since I read those, but I think that was the basic approach.)

This system, at least as you presented here, seems to be completely different of what Pathfinder supposedly intends to be, which is gearing faster and faster into high-fantasy territory as the levels go by.

Spending days to prepare a spell and only have 4 of them seems way more like low-magic sword and barely any sorcery type of stuff. Which I would actually be okay with, if the game we're playing is supposed to have people flying by level 5 (that's a stretch of course, but you still can get Fly as a 3rd level spell) and shooting rays of fire, summoning a lot of monsters and throwing large fireballs... All of these with just a couple of seconds of casting time.

He's not proposing that as a system for the game, just explaning that this is how magic worked in Jack Vance's Dying Earth series. A direct port of this to a game would... probably be pretty awful to play.


Bardarok wrote:
TOZ wrote:
What exactly do we mean by 'Vancian casting' anyway? Because as far as I can tell, Wizard/Sorcerer/Arcanist casting are ALL Vancian anyway.

I think the general definitions are

Full Vancian - PF1 Wizard

Spells are prepared in spell slots. And after they are cast the spell is gone.

If you want to cast three fireballs that day you need to prepared three separate Fireballs.

Semi/Neo/Quasi Vancian - 5e Wizard/PF1 Arcanist/PF1 Sorcorrer

Spells are prepared/known separately from spell slots. And not forgotten after they are cast.

If you want to cast three fireballs in a day you need to expend three spell slots of appropriate power but you only need to prepare it/know it once.

EDIT: Ninja'ed but I think we agree on the general definitions.

Mostly agree. Except I would distinguish Semi/Quasi/Pseudo Vancian (5e wizard, PF1 arcanist) from Spontaneous Vancian (3.X sorcerer, original Final Fantasy casters)


Lightning Raven wrote:
thejeff wrote:

TOZ knows all this of course. He's just pointing out that they're all derived from proper proto Vancian.

Of course for real Vancian magic, you'd also never be able to prepare more that a tiny handful of spells (maybe 4?) and it would take days and you'd use them over the course of the whole adventure, but mostly you'd fight with a sword like everybody else. (It's been a long time since I read those, but I think that was the basic approach.)

This system, at least as you presented here, seems to be completely different of what Pathfinder supposedly intends to be, which is gearing faster and faster into high-fantasy territory as the levels go by.

Spending days to prepare a spell and only have 4 of them seems way more like low-magic sword and barely any sorcery type of stuff. Which I would actually be okay with, if the game we're playing is supposed to have people flying by level 5 (that's a stretch of course, but you still can get Fly as a 3rd level spell) and shooting rays of fire, summoning a lot of monsters and throwing large fireballs... All of these with just a couple of seconds of casting time.

Note that the spells did tend to be quite powerful, so it's not quite as low magic as it might seem, but yeah, it's not a proposal for a game system, just pointing out how the original "Vancian magic" isn't really much like PF "Vancian magic".


dmerceless wrote:
Lightning Raven wrote:
thejeff wrote:

TOZ knows all this of course. He's just pointing out that they're all derived from proper proto Vancian.

Of course for real Vancian magic, you'd also never be able to prepare more that a tiny handful of spells (maybe 4?) and it would take days and you'd use them over the course of the whole adventure, but mostly you'd fight with a sword like everybody else. (It's been a long time since I read those, but I think that was the basic approach.)

This system, at least as you presented here, seems to be completely different of what Pathfinder supposedly intends to be, which is gearing faster and faster into high-fantasy territory as the levels go by.

Spending days to prepare a spell and only have 4 of them seems way more like low-magic sword and barely any sorcery type of stuff. Which I would actually be okay with, if the game we're playing is supposed to have people flying by level 5 (that's a stretch of course, but you still can get Fly as a 3rd level spell) and shooting rays of fire, summoning a lot of monsters and throwing large fireballs... All of these with just a couple of seconds of casting time.

He's not proposing that as a system for the game, just explaning that this is how magic worked in Jack Vance's Dying Earth series. A direct port of this to a game would... probably be pretty awful to play.

I may have failed to say what I intended. I understood that was how it was in Jack Vance's novels and if one would really like to port the novel's system as it was, it would be more reasonable to do it for a game that's low fantasy or sword and sorcery, not what Pathfinder devolves into later on in the game, with things getting bonkers and bonkers.


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I am fairly old school, having started with Advanced Dungeons & Dragons. So Vancian spellcasting does not bother me. However, it does seem out of sync with Pathfinder 2nd Edition. PF2 is removing uses per day and consolidating point pools down to one or two pools per character. I am annoyed that the cleric has two pools instead of one, because that feels like fallingg sort of the mark.

Spontaneous spell slots are really a highly differentiated pool: a 5th-level sorcerer can cast 3 1st-level spell, 3 2nd-level spells, and 2 3rd-level spells a day. That acts like three spell point pools, with the option to spend from the higher-level pool for lower level spells.

And a prepared spellcaster is even more extreme. The points, AKA slots, have to be allocated in advance. Imagine if a monk with a ki pool had to decide every morning how many ki strikes, how many tiger claw attacks, and how many wholeness of body healings he could make that day.

The differentiation of spell slots lets the spellcaster cast both high-level and low-level spells. Without it, all resources would go for the strongest spells. Game design could prevent that by making the strongest spells cost more, just like the higher-level spells on a PF2 staff cost more charges, but that would merely shift the emphasis to casting the most cost-efficient spells. We don't want to straightjacket Pathfinder spell design by forcing the designers to make all spells equally cost-efficient.

What purpose does pre-allocating the spell slots, i.e., preparing spells, serve?

It allows the prepared casters to have a gigantic variety of spells that they can cast, up to the entire divine spell list for clerics and entire primal spell list for druids, without having the overwhelming efficiency of the right spell at the right time at a moment's notice. That makes PF1 clerics the masters of next-day condition removal (I don't know whether than holds in PF2). But Arcanist-style spell preparation is enough to limit that.

It makes the wizard and arcane sorcerer different. But the PF2 sorcerer is already a weird mixed class and Paizo could add other differences to it. It does not make the bard and occult sorcerer different, because both are spontaneous casters.

Is there any other purpose?


Now that I’ve had a few days to think it over my only real problem with getting rid of hard Vancian casting is having to rebuild spontaneous casting from the ground up and it is one of the things 5e didn’t implement very well in my opinion so looking to them isn’t really a good option.

My counter to my own earlier argument is that caster mastery had nothing to do with Vancian casting and more or less ignored it. I will stick with the wizard as my example because it is the primary offender. Mastery involves intelligent use of scrolls to supplement your spell slots and at higher levels the intelligent use of non combat spells that if there is any downtime and if used properly can wreck campaigns. The APs I’ve played limited downtime possibly to keep this from happening, good on Paizo, but in homebrews I’ve seen it do the above very easily. I don’t think 5e has this problem because at least while I played it (the 1st year it was released) non combat spells were pretty limited, as were magic items, I can’t honestly remember what they did with scrolls for example. For PF2 I suspect that as more content is released these spells will inevitably be released but hopefully they will have rarity tags. Oh and a couple of them are or probably will be rituals, which are currently a pain but are still doable and I wouldn’t be surprised if rituals get a serious overhaul by the time the CRB comes out. Which is pretty warranted.


thejeff wrote:
Of course for real Vancian magic, you'd also never be able to prepare more that a tiny handful of spells (maybe 4?) and it would take days and you'd use them over the course of the whole adventure, but mostly you'd fight with a sword like everybody else.

...but when you did cast a spell, it would (for example) trap the target in a tiny inescapable hole forty-five miles below the surface of the earth, with no saving throw.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Wow, is imprisonment actually based on a spell from Jack Vance's books?

That's pretty cool, that's always been one of my favorite "go away and never come back" spells. :)


Matthew Downie wrote:
thejeff wrote:
Of course for real Vancian magic, you'd also never be able to prepare more that a tiny handful of spells (maybe 4?) and it would take days and you'd use them over the course of the whole adventure, but mostly you'd fight with a sword like everybody else.
...but when you did cast a spell, it would (for example) trap the target in a tiny inescapable hole forty-five miles below the surface of the earth, with no saving throw.

Yeah, it's kind of a weird paradigm to anyone used to D&D Vancian casting.

You still get the high level spells. You still have the same top power level.

Imagine a 20th level PF wizard who's got the same spell selection, but can only prepare 4 spells at a time. You're going with the overkill stuff and you'll reserve them until you really need them. What you lose is all the utility and mop up spells.

It's not quite "low magic", though it might seem like it most of the time. Magic's really powerful and changes everything when it's used, but it's not common. Even for casters.

It might actually be interesting to play under that paradigm. It's a fairly common one in fantasy literature.


Yeah, it definitely is interesting to play with such a limited amount of spells, but when they happen they are reality-warping and insanely strong.
But Pathfinder high-level is way different than this paradigm and as such, is really hard to justify a magic system designed to be very limiting and restrained but when delivered is massive being applied to an environment of really high-fantasy with swaths of spells flying around insanely strong monsters and spellcasting happening in under 6 seconds.

As it was said before, Vancian casting didn't evolve well with the game and is very surprising it survived that long, given that a whole class was designed to avoid it.


Lightning Raven wrote:

Yeah, it definitely is interesting to play with such a limited amount of spells, but when they happen they are reality-warping and insanely strong.

But Pathfinder high-level is way different than this paradigm and as such, is really hard to justify a magic system designed to be very limiting and restrained but when delivered is massive being applied to an environment of really high-fantasy with swaths of spells flying around insanely strong monsters and spellcasting happening in under 6 seconds.

As it was said before, Vancian casting didn't evolve well with the game and is very surprising it survived that long, given that a whole class was designed to avoid it.

Well, sure but that paradigm didn't change with high-level PF. It was changed by the time I started playing AD&D, long ago. PF's more gonzo, but we were already far from Vance's books then.

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