PDA

View Full Version : Why the hate for vancian casting?



Grac
2012-05-15, 11:56 AM
Title pretty much says it all.

While there are variations on vancian casting, the sorcerers in 3e, the Daily/Encounter/At Will powers in 4e, I am meaning the original form it has taken through the games, starting with the Magic-User way back when.

Why the hate? I know most people seem to hate it, with comments to the effect that it is universally understood to be bad design, but I don't understand that complaint. I like it. So, naturally, I'm confused about why what I consider a minor question of taste is taken that way. :smallfrown:

Edit for clarity:
Vancian casting at bottom, consists of the following:
Some form of preparation of spells, readying them.
Casting those spells and no others
After being cast, that spell is removed from the casters list.

The wizard in 3.5 with a gazillion spells? That's vancian casting. A wizard in a system where casters get 1 level-less spell slot every 2 levels,and who cannot prepare the same spell twice? Also vancian.

People also make the complaint that vancian casting doesn't represent all character types. This is true, but as I see it, it is irrelevant: if a charger can't be made with vancian casting, why not make them using a different system?

Please understand, I am not asking 'why do you hate vancian casting being the default magic system', nor am I asking 'why do you hate the implementation of vancian casting in D&D' but rather 'why do you hate vancian casting?'

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-15, 12:00 PM
Partially fluff reasons. There's dissonance between the way magic works in D&D verses the way magic traditionally works in myths and stories. Merlin didn't prepare spells, he just looked at something sternly and muttered to himself and bam! you're a toad now.


Partially it's probably also the fact that spellcasting tends to be overpowered, and so a lot of the hate goes towards the Vancian system as a result of a belief that it's the system itself that's to blame. Me, I think it's actually the fault of the individual pieces, all of which can be repaired of we try hard enough.

Tyndmyr
2012-05-15, 12:05 PM
I dunno, I'm pretty ok with it. I think it works well for stories too, rather than this sort of open ended god-like casters with no real limits.

Grac
2012-05-15, 12:10 PM
Partially fluff reasons. There's dissonance between the way magic works in D&D verses the way magic traditionally works in myths and stories. Merlin didn't prepare spells, he just looked at something sternly and muttered to himself and bam! you're a toad now.


Partially it's probably also the fact that spellcasting tends to be overpowered, and so a lot of the hate goes towards the Vancian system as a result of a belief that it's the system itself that's to blame. Me, I think it's actually the fault of the individual pieces, all of which can be repaired of we try hard enough.
That doesn't make sense to me. A 'merlin' type character can easily be created with the other magic systems, both the 'modified-vancian' system used by sorc's, the entirely un-vancian system of Warlocks, or the power points of 3e psionics, or the 4e system. Why does it matter if a specific character type can't be created in one system?

The second certainly seems plausible, which is unfortunate, because it ignores the real issue (the wide variety of spells, specific problems with specific spells, and so on) while attacking something irrelevant :/

Ecalsneerg
2012-05-15, 12:17 PM
I dislike it because, in all fantasy, the only magic users of any shape or form to use Vancian spellcasting are... hold on, not even Jack Vance's writing uses Vancian casting in the way D&D uses it.

Totally Guy
2012-05-15, 12:37 PM
I dislike the way D&D magic works because there is no conflict to it.

I think this video helps explain how its lack of conflict is dissatisfying for me as a player. Penny Arcade Extra Credits (http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/choice-and-conflict)

NikitaDarkstar
2012-05-15, 12:59 PM
I dislike it because while it mechanically makes sense to limit a magic user to control their power (even if it failed in a laughably bad way) there's pretty much no way to explain it IC. You know a spell but can only use it a limited amount of times per day, if you prepared it. If you want to cast it more than once you have to prepare it more than once. This applies to all spells no matter how banal and no matter how powerful you are. Spells can't really backfire on you (some consider this good, but I find it a little silly, especially with big and powerful spells) and there's no physical reason for you to not be able to force the issue and cast a spell one more time as long as you know the spell.

No offense but that just doesn't sit well with me.

Also as has been pointed out, not even Vance uses his magic system in this way.

nedz
2012-05-15, 01:00 PM
I dislike it because, in all fantasy, the only magic users of any shape or form to use Vancian spellcasting are... hold on, not even Jack Vance's writing uses Vancian casting in the way D&D uses it.

IIRC there were only 99 spells known in the whole wide world.

The main issue is that its been done, and there are other options.

And the other main issue are, well all the well known ones.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-05-15, 01:05 PM
I dislike it because I don't think it accomplishes anything useful, mechanically. Fluff concerns aside, are there any actual advantages the vancian system provides, mechanically?

Morty
2012-05-15, 01:17 PM
I dislike it because while it mechanically makes sense to limit a magic user to control their power (even if it failed in a laughably bad way) there's pretty much no way to explain it IC. You know a spell but can only use it a limited amount of times per day, if you prepared it. If you want to cast it more than once you have to prepare it more than once. This applies to all spells no matter how banal and no matter how powerful you are. Spells can't really backfire on you (some consider this good, but I find it a little silly, especially with big and powerful spells) and there's no physical reason for you to not be able to force the issue and cast a spell one more time as long as you know the spell.

No offense but that just doesn't sit well with me.

Also as has been pointed out, not even Vance uses his magic system in this way.

It's actually perfectly easy to explain. You cast the spells in the morning, which takes a while, and then leave them almost completed in your mind. Then you "trigger" them, which fires them off and removes them from your mind.
As for the "noone else uses it"... right. I don't know about you guys, but when I play tabletop, my goal is to create something new, not replicate existing fiction...

Shadowknight12
2012-05-15, 01:22 PM
Because it's been overused. It's the literal base upon which ALL supernatural or magical effects exist in D&D. A lot of the subsystems that came out in 3.5e (Tome of Magic, Tome of Battle, Incarnum, etc) were merely another way to do Vancian magic, as they were the same effects shuffled around and given a new coat of paint.

I personally welcome all things that are not Vancian magic, because I've been way overexposed to it.

My personal preference when it comes to magic is the traditional pool of "mana points" that gets expended when casting spells (like psionics handles it).

Verte
2012-05-15, 01:35 PM
Well, I like Vancian casting for wizards - I mean, the fluff explanation works for me. I picture it as the wizard going through the most complex part of each spell at the beginning of the day, preparing them to be "released" in a much shorter time when he needs them later.


Spells can't really backfire on you (some consider this good, but I find it a little silly, especially with big and powerful spells) and there's no physical reason for you to not be able to force the issue and cast a spell one more time as long as you know the spell.

Keep in mind, this particular system was used for BD&D and AD&D. I know that in AD&D, at least, there were a number of spells that could backfire on the caster. Fireball could literally blow up in a magic-user's face if he cast it in a hallway (since it would fill up a predetermined volume) and lightning bolt could strike back at a magic-user (since it would rebound if there wasn't enough space).

The reason I mention this is that I think one of the big reasons it's continued to be used is because it was used from nearly the beginning.

Kurald Galain
2012-05-15, 01:43 PM
I think there's not really a general "hate" for Vancian casting, but there's a vocal minority on internet forums that strongly dislikes 3E D&D, and as a consequence dislikes everything they associate with it.

For example, Pathfinder uses Vancian and it's the best-selling RPG of the moment; and 5E D&D is intending to bring back Vancian as well - so the general population of roleplayers must have little or no problem with it.

Tengu_temp
2012-05-15, 01:44 PM
1. Vancian magic feels like an extremely artificial system in all settings but those that have IC rules for magic written explicitly to work like that. Which is not DND.
2. In theory, the spell slots idea is supposed to make spellcasters use their spells responsibly. In practice, it means that low-level wizards often have to be extremely stingy with spells, while high-level ones have so many spells that they don't even notice.
3. Any system where you can more or less effortlessly breeze through a normally hard encounter by going nova is not a very good system in my book.
4. Too much book-keeping.

Kurald Galain
2012-05-15, 02:00 PM
2. In theory, the spell slots idea is supposed to make spellcasters use their spells responsibly. In practice, it means that low-level wizards often have to be extremely stingy with spells, while high-level ones have so many spells that they don't even notice.
3. Any system where you can more or less effortlessly breeze through a normally hard encounter by going nova is not a very good system in my book.

True, but these are the result of 3E's implementation of Vancian casting; they are not inherent to Vancian casting in general.

oxybe
2012-05-15, 02:08 PM
issues with the system itself:

1) focuses on an adventuring day rather then encounter/scene based. managing your resources is based on your ability to accurately predict or manage the number of encounters you'll be having that day. it also punished low-encounter adventures as it allows the caster to nova several powerful effects without a problem

2) due to the limited renewal ability (renews in the morning) if various characters manage their abilities in different fashions, a vancian caster who runs out of steam is either a liability/dead weight at best or someone who slows down the pacing of the adventure by asking for rests

3) it simply doesn't work for all casters. not every caster is a revolver made of magic bullets. some, like the potterverse wizards can simply cast all day long any spell from their repertoire. some, like in the avatar cartoon, are focused on a theme. others require a longer, more drawn out ritualistic process.

the D&D-style magic bullet simply doesn't work for most mages i know of in myth and legend.

4) a)more of an aside rather then an issue with vancian itself, but D&D's had a horrible track record for giving all the toys to the casters while giving sticks to the non-casters. it's more of an annoying stigma then anything else, but still.

4) b)a second aside: if you're going to use vancian magic to limit the number of spells a caster can cast, don't give them bypasses like scrolls/wands/etc...

Verte
2012-05-15, 02:46 PM
Originally Posted by Tengu_temp

2. In theory, the spell slots idea is supposed to make spellcasters use their spells responsibly. In practice, it means that low-level wizards often have to be extremely stingy with spells, while high-level ones have so many spells that they don't even notice.
3. Any system where you can more or less effortlessly breeze through a normally hard encounter by going nova is not a very good system in my book.

True, but these are the result of 3E's implementation of Vancian casting; they are not inherent to Vancian casting in general.

Yeah, this is definitely true. In AD&D, higher level spells took a longer time to prepare and required more rest to do so. A level 1 magic-user would rest for 4 hours and spend 15 minutes preparing his single spell. A level 20 magic-user would rest for at least 12 hours and spend 40.5 hours in order to prepare all of his spells.

endoperez
2012-05-15, 04:21 PM
I dislike the way D&D magic works because there is no conflict to it.

I think this video helps explain how its lack of conflict is dissatisfying for me as a player. Penny Arcade Extra Credits (http://penny-arcade.com/patv/episode/choice-and-conflict)

There are both what the episode calls "incomparables" and "insufficient information problems" in Vancian casting.

Choosing between "Fly", "Fireball" or "Invisibility", for example, is a choice between incomparables.
How many damage spells, and what damage spells, is a calculation (when you know the enemy and can prepare for it), or an insufficient information problem (when you don't).

And that's just the preparing! While casting, you're always facing another insufficient information choice or a calculation. You won't know about the future, usually, but you will know quite a lot about the problem you're trying to solve.

Playing a warlock or sorcerer for several sessions without leveling up, and as such not getting to choose new powers, has less choices than a vancian prepared caster.

VeliciaL
2012-05-15, 04:45 PM
I simply find it fairly unintuitive, largely for reasons already mentioned. I also don't care for how it's become more or less the de-facto standard, there's not a whole lot of options for those of us who want to play wizard like characters, but not use Vancian casting.

Totally Guy
2012-05-15, 04:51 PM
And that's just the preparing!

We don't tend to roleplay out our preparation scenes.

When I run games my strongest style is to have key issues that the players agonise over. And the D&D magic system fails me here. I don't feel like the game is supporting the concepts I want to be important.

I want to see the player saying "Oh man, there's a thing my character wants really badly. Is it worth using a spell to get it? Urrgh! I just can't decide!"

Scots Dragon
2012-05-15, 04:59 PM
I simply find it fairly unintuitive, largely for reasons already mentioned. I also don't care for how it's become more or less the de-facto standard, there's not a whole lot of options for those of us who want to play wizard like characters, but not use Vancian casting.

It became 'more or less the de-facto standard' in 1974. The better part of four decades. It's as iconic to the game as the simple fact of clerics, fighter, mages, elves, halflings and dwarves being in the core rules and dragons having age categories. It does in fact precede the thief as a class.

It's a fundamental part of what makes Dungeons & Dragons what it is.

And there are options available for those who don't wish to use Vancian wizards, such as the spell point variant in Unearthed Arcana

Yora
2012-05-15, 05:26 PM
I give the same reason I always give in these threads.

Virtually all magic systems follow a concept that we can see all throughout nature and know from everyday life. If you have the equipment and the raw material, then you can repeat the process for as long as the raw material does not run out. So if you have the ability to cast a spell and you also have magical power, you can cast any spell you know until you run out of power or you lose the ability to cast spells.

Vancian casting is different. Once a spell is used, you can not cast it again even though you still have the ability to cast spells and you still have magic power. This is unique and does not have any equivalent in nature.

The only exception would be if you consider the preparing of spells to be the creation of spells, and the casting of spells the using of a magic item that exist in your brain.
I think Vance actually had this in mind. An odd idea, but it's his novels and he can make magic in his world work as he wants to. It's still unique and completely different to every single system of magic I ever heard of.
However, D&D does never say that magic is supposed to work that way, and it never gives any reason why all fantasy campaigns should use a system of magic unique to a single world, regardless of what world the game takes place in.

Why have a game that is adaptable to almost any world and have it use a magic system that is unique to a single world, that most people never have even heard off?

Kurald Galain
2012-05-15, 05:35 PM
Virtually all magic systems follow a concept that we can see all throughout nature and know from everyday life. If you have the equipment and the raw material, then you can repeat the process for as long as the raw material does not run out.

I think you should read more fantasy books, then. This is far from universal in fantasy settings.

Eldan
2012-05-15, 05:58 PM
And again, it makes sense if you assume the preparation session in the morning to be the time when the spell is actually cast. Which, I must admit, is never really said in the fluff. But it should be, because it's by far one of the most interesting ways to implement magic I've ever seen in any RPG.

And I'd just say that while I love Vancian, I find psionics to be the worst magic system D&D has. Boring mechanics, barely any unique effects, lack of fluff, and not enough powers available to build more than a handful of character types. The last one, sadly, plagues most non-core classes, but at least those have an interesting basic type or two.

Kurald Galain
2012-05-15, 06:00 PM
And again, it makes sense if you assume the preparation session in the morning to be the time when the spell is actually cast. Which, I must admit, is never really said in the fluff.

Actually this is stated outright in the Chronicles of Amber (and its associated RPG), one of several non-D&D fantasy settings that actually uses Vancian casting. Yes, they exist :smallamused:

Eldan
2012-05-15, 06:32 PM
I know its out there in the books. And apparently also RPGs based on those books (I should have a look at that. Amber RPG sounds like an awesome idea).

But I don't think it's in any actual D&D books.

Urpriest
2012-05-15, 06:43 PM
My biggest problem with Vancian casting (and dailies in 4e) is that they overemphasize daily resources and hence make the plot hinge on the process of an arbitrary calendar rather than the actual progress of the plot. While this isn't inherently a part of the concept (you could simply have Vancian spells that can be prepared whenever you want to stop and prepare them), it is hard to balance any other way.

As was mentioned by others, Vancian casting is simply uncommon. D&D has some reputation as a generic fantasy system, with Wizards' absurd versatility arising in part because they are supposed to cover almost every archetype of fantasy magic. This is problematic when people approach D&D expecting to create a generic fantasy character and find that they are restricted to a very obscure and rare sort of magical system. That said, it must be recognized that D&D is essentially a subgenre of its own rather than a real pan-fantasy game, and in that subgenre Vancian casting is quite important. I still think that D&D can have its iconic feel without having its Vancian mechanics be strictly daily in nature, though.

Eldan
2012-05-15, 06:49 PM
I tried making a non-daily focused Vancian system in the homebrew forum. I don't think I ever got more than two replies to it, though, so I guess there wasn't much interest.

nedz
2012-05-15, 07:23 PM
Well I did come up with a concept that led to a not neccessarily daily vancian system, but you probably wouldn't like it.

dsmiles
2012-05-15, 08:13 PM
Well, personally I dislike it because I feel like it doesn't represent any sort of fatigue on the caster's part. I fully believe that wrestling with the laws of the universe should take something out of you, leave you tired. Which is why I adore the BESM: Advanced d20 Magic system. (Also seen in BESM: The Slayers d20 RPG.) Described below:It uses a system where you make Fortitude saves to resist "drain" from casting spells. Drain is in the form of non-lethal damage (or lethal damage, if you, as a caster, want to increase your ability to resist said drain). Make the save by more than 10 (entirely possible, if you choose level-appropriate spells) and you take 1/2 the drain damage and successfully cast the spell. Make the save by 9 or less, and you take the drain damage and successfully cast the spell. Fail the save by 9 or less, and you take the drain damage and have to make a caster level check to cast the spell. Fail the save by more than 10, you take double the drain damage, make a caster level check to successfully cast the spell, and are fatigued. There are various things you can do to increase your save bonus (take a full-round action to cast, opt for lethal damage as drain, take certain feats, etc.), but it represents the fatigue that Vancian magic fails so hard at.

50Copper
2012-05-15, 08:18 PM
{Scrubbed}

Verte
2012-05-15, 08:44 PM
And I'd just say that while I love Vancian, I find psionics to be the worst magic system D&D has. Boring mechanics, barely any unique effects, lack of fluff, and not enough powers available to build more than a handful of character types. The last one, sadly, plagues most non-core classes, but at least those have an interesting basic type or two.

I mostly agree, except I do like psionics more when it's well-incorporated into a setting. Like, I thought Eberron incorporated psionics well enough that I'd actually use it in an campaign in that setting. However, it didn't really improve any of the mechanics.


Why have a game that is adaptable to almost any world and have it use a magic system that is unique to a single world, that most people never have even heard off?

As was mentioned by others, Vancian casting is simply uncommon. D&D has some reputation as a generic fantasy system, with Wizards' absurd versatility arising in part because they are supposed to cover almost every archetype of fantasy magic. This is problematic when people approach D&D expecting to create a generic fantasy character and find that they are restricted to a very obscure and rare sort of magical system. That said, it must be recognized that D&D is essentially a subgenre of its own rather than a real pan-fantasy game, and in that subgenre Vancian casting is quite important. I still think that D&D can have its iconic feel without having its Vancian mechanics be strictly daily in nature, though.

Well, I think it's because D&D was originally a mish-mash of ideas from different fantasy novels, but Vancian magic is unique enough to stick out from those other ideas. And obviously, it was adapted to the rest of the system. It's kind of interesting how cramming all of those different ideas together made a new genre that looks quite different from its components.

Honestly, if I wanted to emulate a specific fantasy setting, I probably wouldn't have D&D 3.5 as my first choice. I might choose some other d20 game that has less baggage, but I probably wouldn't choose D&D.

Eldan
2012-05-15, 11:02 PM
{Scrub the post, scrub the quote}

It's no more archaic than the boring mana point systems which are about teh oldest thing there is. It is also no more unbalanced by definition than any other system, that is just implementation.

Saph
2012-05-16, 04:41 AM
Something that's worth pointing out - by default, a character built with a mana/spell point system is more powerful than a character built with a Vancian system, not less. Vancian casters have to choose their spells in advance; spell point casters can choose them on the fly. All things being equal, the spell point caster will come out on top.

The reason spell point and spontaneous casters are generally less powerful than Vancian ones in 3.5 isn't because Vancian magic is inherently better - it's because the spontaneous casters are given a bunch of extra disadvantages (fewer spells per day, far fewer spells known, delayed casting progression, smaller spell list, etc).

Tyndmyr
2012-05-16, 08:16 AM
It's no more archaic than the boring mana point systems which are about teh oldest thing there is. It is also no more unbalanced by definition than any other system, that is just implementation.

This. So much this.

Mana point systems are kind of easy mode for game design. Everyone knows what they are by default, and matching up even to even, a mana system is more powerful because of versatility.

Corwin Icewolf
2012-05-16, 08:20 AM
Well, personally I dislike it because I feel like it doesn't represent any sort of fatigue on the caster's part. I fully believe that wrestling with the laws of the universe should take something out of you, leave you tired. Which is why I adore the BESM: Advanced d20 Magic system. (Also seen in BESM: The Slayers d20 RPG.) Described below:It uses a system where you make Fortitude saves to resist "drain" from casting spells. Drain is in the form of non-lethal damage (or lethal damage, if you, as a caster, want to increase your ability to resist said drain). Make the save by more than 10 (entirely possible, if you choose level-appropriate spells) and you take 1/2 the drain damage and successfully cast the spell. Make the save by 9 or less, and you take the drain damage and successfully cast the spell. Fail the save by 9 or less, and you take the drain damage and have to make a caster level check to cast the spell. Fail the save by more than 10, you take double the drain damage, make a caster level check to successfully cast the spell, and are fatigued. There are various things you can do to increase your save bonus (take a full-round action to cast, opt for lethal damage as drain, take certain feats, etc.), but it represents the fatigue that Vancian magic fails so hard at.

Yes, but it's way too easy in that system to get to a point where you can easily spam even the powerful spells. Between lethal drain and naming it's already a +10 to all your rolls, then you keep taking magical blood until your body glows with an ethereal light. Make the friggin dragon slave a dc 30 just by opting for lethal drain, taking spell mastery for it, incanting and naming, reduce it further to 24 by taking magical blood a mere 3 times. and woot now you can just fly up in the air and blow up everything you fight, and then when you blow up your friends in the process, tell them they just didn't make their characters powerful enough.

Think about it, a level 7 human sorcerer could do all that.

Also it sort of screws over bards and sorcerers if all casters can spontaneously cast. And they're already weaker than other casters.

Granted It's very hard to find a magic system that's not either overpowered, or no fun at all.

Craft (Cheese)
2012-05-16, 09:43 AM
This. So much this.

Mana point systems are kind of easy mode for game design. Everyone knows what they are by default, and matching up even to even, a mana system is more powerful because of versatility.

So what? It's simple, functional, and has been proven to work practically thousands of times over the years. You might as well complain about Hit Points being unoriginal.

Tyndmyr
2012-05-16, 10:17 AM
So what? It's simple, functional, and has been proven to work practically thousands of times over the years. You might as well complain about Hit Points being unoriginal.

Hit points ARE unoriginal.

They are not really a reason to play a game. If someone tells me about a new RPG that has "hit points and mana", my response will likely be "and?"

They're generic, and thus, uninteresting. If, on the other hand, I hear about some fantastic new wound system, I may actually be interested and investigate the game further.

I don't want to pay money for the same old thing, I want new, shiny, better things.

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-16, 10:25 AM
I dislike it because I don't think it accomplishes anything useful, mechanically. Fluff concerns aside, are there any actual advantages the vancian system provides, mechanically?

An easily measured and divided increase in power, which is further easy to apply over the course of 20 levels (or whatever). Theoretically, anyway; again, the individual spells demonstrate otherwise, but that's the fault of the spells, not the system itself. If all wizards were limited to nothing but Evocation spells, for example, the class would actually be underpowered.

Note that 3rd Edition got fairly experimental with alternate magic systems. Psionics, Binding, Shadowcasting, Truenaming, and Incarnum were all introduced (well, re-introduced in the case of Psionics), as well as variations on Vancian spellcasting. Then when we go 3rd Party, we get things like Monte Cook's alternate bard, or the force skill/feat sytem of Star Wars Revised d20.

Each of these produced their own problems, however. Psionics has a legacy of being overpowered, even though it typically really isn't in 3rd Edition, and is kind of complicated. Binding is neat, but limited. Shadowcasting is mechanically underpowered and complicated. Truenaming is just plain broken (as in, it doesn't work). And Incarnum isn't even real spells. Monte Cook's bard, I personally really like, but I've never seen anyone comment on it one way or another so I don't have a bead on it. And the skill/feat system of the Force is at once very abuseable and very underpowered.

So we always drift back to Vancian casting, which has problems of its own but also benefits from getting by far the most support.

Starbuck_II
2012-05-16, 10:55 AM
Each of these produced their own problems, however. Psionics has a legacy of being overpowered, even though it typically really isn't in 3rd Edition, and is kind of complicated. Binding is neat, but limited. Shadowcasting is mechanically underpowered and complicated. Truenaming is just plain broken (as in, it doesn't work). And Incarnum isn't even real spells. Monte Cook's bard, I personally really like, but I've never seen anyone comment on it one way or another so I don't have a bead on it. And the skill/feat system of the Force is at once very abuseable and very underpowered.


The issue is shadowcasting was supposed to be even more limited daily uses, but make up for it by the effects being more powerful. But instead we get mostly equal to spells. Most of the good effects are high level...
Sure, we get a few gems like
1) Dancing Shadows (it is displacement, but you don't have targeting weakness of displacement spell, thus they can't target you, meaning you have total concealment, thus invisible to spells).
2) Voice of Shadow: command that affects construct/undead (unique)
3) Flicker: minor teleport a lot
4) Shadow investitor: subject granted evasion and other goodies
5) Echo Spell: if not limited to 4th level mystery/spells, it would be awesome.

High level:
6) Shadow Time: Time Stop for 1d4+4 rounds, minimum 5 rounds
7) Prison Night: Force Cage, where they get a Fort save to get out but if fail take Con damage, regardless take cold dam/rd.
8) Tomb of Night: Negative levels instead of Con damage, higher cold/rd taken.
9) Truth Revealed: Upgraded True seeing (can see their name, etc)
10) Dark Soul: Force target to attack enemy, 1/rd

Yora
2012-05-16, 11:17 AM
So we always drift back to Vancian casting, which has problems of its own but also benefits from getting by far the most support.
Because we're always drifting back to it.

I don't like 4th Edition at all, but at list it tried getting rid of this flawed and inappropriate mechanic. Even if it failed replacing it with something better, that's still a commendable attempt.

Something that's worth pointing out - by default, a character built with a mana/spell point system is more powerful than a character built with a Vancian system, not less. Vancian casters have to choose their spells in advance; spell point casters can choose them on the fly. All things being equal, the spell point caster will come out on top.
No it isn't. That just is the case if you make a shoddy conversion. Give the spellcasters weaker spells and less spell points and eventually they will be weaker. Spell point magic systems being more powerful than D&D vancian system is the result of someone making a bad and overpowered system. It's not a result of using a spell point mechanic.

Kerrin
2012-05-16, 11:48 AM
A long time ago I played in an AD&D game that used a hybrid mana / vancian system.

For this example I'll use a caster who has the following (totally made up) spells per day:



Spell Spell Mana
Level Slots Points
1 x 6 = 6
2 x 4 = 8
3 3 -
4 3 -
5 1 -Max known spell level / 2 round down = spell levels that can be cast using mana points (1st and 2nd level spells in this example). All other higher level spells had to be memorized the normal way (3rd thru 5th level spells in this example).

The caster could use the 14 mana points to cast whichever 1st and 2nd level spells they want that they know. The 3rd thru 5th level spells they had to memorize as normal - they're just not good enough yet to cast those spells off the cuff using mana.

It was a weird system and I thought the math gave out a few too many mana points, but it felt pretty good when playing. It really gave the feel that lower level spells that you knew well were "easier" to cast at a whim due to the mana points, and the higher level spells were "harder" to cast because you had to memorize them.

Saph
2012-05-16, 12:03 PM
Spell point magic systems being more powerful than D&D vancian system is the result of someone making a bad and overpowered system. It's not a result of using a spell point mechanic.

Yes it is. If my character has ten spells per day out of a list of fifteen (but has to prepare them in the morning) while your character has ten spells per day out of a list of fifteen (but can cast them on the fly) then your character is objectively better, because I have to guess what I'll need and you don't. That's just a simple fact.

To make a Vancian caster stronger than a spell point caster, you need to give them some kind of additional boost (such as giving them far more spells to choose from).

Grac
2012-05-16, 12:04 PM
Because we're always drifting back to it.

I don't like 4th Edition at all, but at list it tried getting rid of this flawed and inappropriate mechanic. Even if it failed replacing it with something better, that's still a commendable attempt.

No it isn't. That just is the case if you make a shoddy conversion. Give the spellcasters weaker spells and less spell points and eventually they will be weaker. Spell point magic systems being more powerful than D&D vancian system is the result of someone making a bad and overpowered system. It's not a result of using a spell point mechanic.

That... Is a kind of nonsense objection. Why would you say that a point based system is not over powered when it can be made weaker, while not assuming the same about vancian casting. If you insist on identifying vancian casting with how you had to suffer under playing with it in D&D, then why would you not treat point based casting in the same way?

I will add this into the OP because it seems to be necessary to say. Vancian casting at bottom, consists of the following:
Some form of preparation of spells, readying them.
Casting those spells and no others
After being cast, that spell is removed from the casters list.

The wizard in 3.5 with a gazillion spells? That's vancian casting. A wizard in a system where casters get 1 level-less spell slot every 2 levels,and who cannot prepare the same spell twice? Also vancian.

People also make the complaint that vancian casting doesn't represent all character types. This is true, but as I see it, it is irrelevant: if a charger can't be made with vancian casting, why not make them using a different system?

Please understand, I am not asking 'why do you hate vancian casting being the default magic system', nor am I asking 'why do you hate the implementation of vancian casting in D&D' but rather 'why do you hae vancian casting?'

Craft (Cheese)
2012-05-16, 12:28 PM
The central property of vancian casting is the player has to choose what spells to prepare before they know what spells they're actually going to need. This sounds like an interesting property, but it just doesn't seem to work out. The problems are:

1. The decision is not double-blind: The player doesn't know what the DM is planning, but the DM knows what spells the player is preparing. Kinda ruins the whole point of making the player have to guess what spells they're going to need today.

2. It front-loads all the interesting decision making to a single point, when the spells are prepared. Ideally, a system should have interesting decisions at every moment, not just at the start of each day.

3. It also puts way too much effort at a single point. Especially for new players, you either rush and not think through your spell selection all too clearly, or hold up the game for an hour. What you often see happen instead is each player will have a single spell loadout of generic, always-useful spells that they'll use every day, only ever changing it when they get new spells. Which, again, sorta goes against the whole point of vancian casting in the first place.


I dislike vancian casting because it doesn't seem to provide anything other casting systems can't except for problems.

Tyndmyr
2012-05-16, 12:41 PM
The central property of vancian casting is the player has to choose what spells to prepare before they know what spells they're actually going to need. This sounds like an interesting property, but it just doesn't seem to work out. The problems are:

It's a guessing game. This is not unusual for D&D, which is heavily preparation based. The right preparation can solve basically anything, but uncertainty about what you may face is a big part of that.


1. The decision is not double-blind: The player doesn't know what the DM is planning, but the DM knows what spells the player is preparing. Kinda ruins the whole point of making the player have to guess what spells they're going to need today.

Why not? In my local environment, the player just writes down what spells he's preparing. The DM doesn't review this every single day. That seems...tedious.


2. It front-loads all the interesting decision making to a single point, when the spells are prepared. Ideally, a system should have interesting decisions at every moment, not just at the start of each day.

It is A decision. It is not the only decision in D&D. That's ludicrous. Also, you can opt to prepare spells later in the day, if you wish.


3. It also puts way too much effort at a single point. Especially for new players, you either rush and not think through your spell selection all too clearly, or hold up the game for an hour. What you often see happen instead is each player will have a single spell loadout of generic, always-useful spells that they'll use every day, only ever changing it when they get new spells. Which, again, sorta goes against the whole point of vancian casting in the first place.

I usually don't advise that a brand new player play wizard. Or any caster, really.

Mark Hall
2012-05-16, 12:44 PM
I dislike it because, in all fantasy, the only magic users of any shape or form to use Vancian spellcasting are... hold on, not even Jack Vance's writing uses Vancian casting in the way D&D uses it.

Joel Rosenberg (RIP) Guardians of the Flame uses and interestingly explores the Vancian system.


I dislike it because I don't think it accomplishes anything useful, mechanically. Fluff concerns aside, are there any actual advantages the vancian system provides, mechanically?

Believe it or not, a measure of balance.

As 3.x psionics points out, self-advancing spells are pretty horrible in a spell point system... why spend 6X points for a marginally improved 3rd level spell, which I can cast a 1st level spell six times for the same cost?

Spell slots do several things. First, they prevent you from doing just that... even with metamagic and 3.x's explicit "You can memorize a lower-level spell in a higher-level slot", you don't get the exponential more points available... just a few slots.

Secondly, they, especially when combined with memorization and strict memorization time requirements, act as a brake on spellcasters. They can't solve all their problems with magic because magic is hard and time consuming. 3.x tossed this break out with the "one hour prepares everything" method... you could easily pop'n'stop each day, because you could do a new day's worth of spells every day, in an hour. Previous editions had much more demanding time requirements... you'd spend less than an hour until 4th level, when you're up to 70 minutes to prepare your day's magic... and it got worse from there. A wizard or cleric had to consider his spells, and when he was going to next get the opportunity to renew them, because renewing spells was a big investment of time.

Memorization also reduces the swiss-army nature of spellcasters. While they CAN potentially overcome any obstacle, each spell becomes a much larger opportunity cost. If you memorize Knock because you might need to open a door today, and you don't need to open a door today... well, maybe you would've wanted that extra Agannazar's Scorcher, instead. But you had to make a choice.

Spell slots weren't a perfect way of doing this; there's a lot of methods that one can go with. I'm currently grooving on Hackmaster's system of non-advancing spells, with additional point costs to improve them, and doubled costs for any spells but the one per spell level that you've memorized. But spell slots did the job... until a lot of their functional brakes were removed.

Man on Fire
2012-05-16, 12:47 PM
Because people want their wizards to be invincible gods and cannot accept that once wizard will run out of spells he is a toast. Sad, I know.

eepop
2012-05-16, 12:49 PM
Vancian casting at bottom, consists of the following:
Some form of preparation of spells, readying them.
Casting those spells and no others
After being cast, that spell is removed from the casters list.


I don't have any particularly strong feelings about vancian casting. Like most things in life, it has good and bad aspects. That said, there are issues with the points you listed above. The Penny Arcade link gave some, but here is some more.

Preparing spells means that there will likely be a time during gaming sessions where a the caster has to stop the game to figure out what spells he wants to prepare. The best gaming sessions in my experience have a sense of momentum, and even small breaks like this can slow momentum.
Yes, preparation can be done in a speedy timeframe by some players, but it is far from universal. I was able to keep play moving as a caster in 3.5 by having different spell lists pre-prepared that I would select between. Even then, that makes you lose a lot of the charm of vancian casting.

Casting no other spells also indicates the absence of any at-will magic. This has the danger of creating scenarios where the spellcaster is stuck playing a very poor crossbowman.

Casting no other spells can likewise cause disruption to the flow of the game. Say the players reach an obstacle, think over how to get around it, and their best option by far is to wait to reprepare spells and use X spell as a solution. This whole thing triggers the caster players to reprepare possibly all their spells, leading to another momentum breaker.

So, the DM put a bad challenge in their way you said. But you see, there is the rub...the DM has to prepare for the caster possibly having access to a wide variety of spells. Either he never prepares situations that they need spells to solve (which doesn't feel like fantasy) or he has to run the risk that they won't have that spell.

As for removing the spell after casting, this can lead to two detrimental scenarios. In the first, the player holds onto their spells compulsive out of the fear that they will need them more later, sometimes even when the DM specifically put in the current challenge as the only time they will need that spell. In the other scenario, the player freely uses these resources when they are not strictly needed, setting them up for failure later.

None of those ruin the system for me, but they are issues that require some finesse to deal with, and I can understand them turning other people off.



Also, you must understand that you can't completely divorce the idea of vancian casting and implementations of vancian casting. People would laugh in your face if you made a thread called "Why do people hate soda?" and then told everyone not to mention any brands/flavors of soda in the discussion.
Some people have tried Coke, Dr. Pepper, Rootbeer, Orange Crush, and Sprite and decided that they don't like soda. Just because they can't pinpoint what common factor it is about soda that they do not like does not make their opinion any less valid.

Rallicus
2012-05-16, 12:52 PM
Why not? In my local environment, the player just writes down what spells he's preparing. The DM doesn't review this every single day. That seems...tedious.

Well, you could argue that the player might cheat and suddenly have a super wizard with sorcerer capabilities that can cast whatever spell they wish, if the DM doesn't check regularly. If you have a real level of trust with your players, that's good, but many players will try every advantage they can.

I think a good solution would be to show the other players your loadout, not the DM though. Many players have a seething hatred for overpowered wizards and will rat such a player out if cheating happens, I think. :smallwink:

Craft (Cheese)
2012-05-16, 12:56 PM
Why not? In my local environment, the player just writes down what spells he's preparing. The DM doesn't review this every single day. That seems...tedious.

Keeping copies of the players' character sheets is a simple anti-cheating measure: Otherwise, the player can try to pull things like "Yes, I've ALWAYS had this +5 Vorpal Sword. You don't remember giving it to me, that time we slayed the dragon?" Even if you do trust your players enough that you're confident they won't do that (or are just too lazy to bother), the DM still has full rights to look at the player's character sheets at any time. The whole "Try to figure out what your opponent is going to do next" thing only works if the decisions are double-blind.


It is A decision. It is not the only decision in D&D. That's ludicrous. Also, you can opt to prepare spells later in the day, if you wish.

Of course it's not the only decision. My point is it's a very inefficient clustering of a lot of important decisions all together.


I usually don't advise that a brand new player play wizard. Or any caster, really.

Doesn't matter whether they're new to D&D, it matters how much exposure they have to spells. You won't be able to build a good spell list from scratch without holding up the game until you know your spellbook like the back of your hand. You need to get that knowledge to be able to play a wizard without resorting to recycling the same spell list over and over one way or another.

Salbazier
2012-05-16, 01:04 PM
In my case, it was because my perception of magic was built from exposure computer games (which most commonly use MP-like system) or fantasy anime/manga/comic/tv series (which usually using something like fatigue or components). Preparing magic to be triggered later felt a kinda strage to me and the whole idea that a spellcaster can forget a spell by casting (need to forget to cast, even!) felt silly to me.

That's back then though. I still consider 'cast & forget' thing to be silly but not so much on prepared spellcasting (there is a difference there) since I already habituated to it. Especially now that I have created some kind of magic mechanic/explanation/'how it works' thing in my head that can make preparation magic make sense and interesting.

So like everyone else is saying, its disliked because uncommon and felt unintuitive. One can get used to it however.

edit: also, prepared spell beforehand is a bother.

Tyndmyr
2012-05-16, 01:14 PM
Because people want their wizards to be invincible gods and cannot accept that once wizard will run out of spells he is a toast. Sad, I know.

That doesn't sound like an effective criticism of vancian casting. Vancian casting has pretty hard limits on spells. That and preparation == vancian.

Endless casting is something else entirely.


Well, you could argue that the player might cheat and suddenly have a super wizard with sorcerer capabilities that can cast whatever spell they wish, if the DM doesn't check regularly. If you have a real level of trust with your players, that's good, but many players will try every advantage they can.

I think a good solution would be to show the other players your loadout, not the DM though. Many players have a seething hatred for overpowered wizards and will rat such a player out if cheating happens, I think. :smallwink:

If players are cheating, vancian casting is hardly the only way they could do that. You can cheat under spellpoints, or basically any other system too.

That said, writing out a list of spells is pretty obvious. If part way through the day, the player is erasing half his spells and writing in different ones, that would be sort of a clue. It's at least as obvious as people mis-reporting die rolls.

valadil
2012-05-16, 01:32 PM
I don't like preparing spells. It's too tedious. Spontaneous casters are fine by me though.

Tenno Seremel
2012-05-16, 01:58 PM
Spells can't really backfire on you (some consider this good, but I find it a little silly, especially with big and powerful spells)

{Insert "the very first player's fireball" joke here.}

Kerrin
2012-05-16, 02:24 PM
Well, you could argue that the player might cheat and suddenly have a super wizard with sorcerer capabilities that can cast whatever spell they wish, if the DM doesn't check regularly. If you have a real level of trust with your players, that's good, but many players will try every advantage they can.
Makes me glad I play with the people I do today. I don't have to worry about these types of situations.

Back in college though it usually took a little while to learn who the rampant cheaters were so as to avoid them.

I'd hope catching cheaters isn't high on the list of design goals when designing an RPG magic system.

jaybird
2012-05-16, 02:38 PM
Isn't preparation par for the course for casters in general, not just D&D? I've never played Mage, but from what I've heard, Mages are the most powerful supernatural when given time to prepare, and the least powerful supernatural when ambushed in their skivvies.

Yora
2012-05-16, 02:48 PM
I have never heard of casters preparing spells outside of D&D.

hamlet
2012-05-16, 03:28 PM
I have never heard of casters preparing spells outside of D&D.

The Dresden Files.

Essentially any hermetic magic, of which there are plenty in fiction, involves preparing spells ahead of time, though admittedly most of the time once they have it planned/figured out, they can make it happen within limits.

Better, Vancian magic. At the risk of "losing an internet" . . . http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VancianMagic.

Lots of them have been influenced by D&D, but really, most of them were influenced by Vance before that.

Roderick_BR
2012-05-16, 03:43 PM
It's actually perfectly easy to explain. You cast the spells in the morning, which takes a while, and then leave them almost completed in your mind. Then you "trigger" them, which fires them off and removes them from your mind.
As for the "noone else uses it"... right. I don't know about you guys, but when I play tabletop, my goal is to create something new, not replicate existing fiction...

Myself, I think people misunderstood the whole "forget" thing. If it were the case, you'd have to roll to re-learn the spell everytime.
I used to imagine it as that semi-cast thing, and you "store" the magical power within your mind, and when you use it, that magical force is gone, and you need to re-prepare it.
I think some people compared this with an archer that carries different types of arrows, and just unloads them.

Anyway, people dislike it because it's limiting. Yeah, anything that limits a caster is always hated.

Personally, I'd use the sorcerer's slot style for everyone, but book-based (or prayer-based) characters could prepare different spell lists daily.
Maybe have the divine casters as they are though, since they are granted effects, rather than shape it from zero.

dsmiles
2012-05-16, 04:05 PM
Better, Vancian magic. At the risk of "losing an internet" . . . http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VancianMagic.
Huh. I never got that vibe from Amber. I really don't feel like it's based on Vancian magic.

nedz
2012-05-16, 04:10 PM
Preparing spells means that there will likely be a time during gaming sessions where a the caster has to stop the game to figure out what spells he wants to prepare. The best gaming sessions in my experience have a sense of momentum, and even small breaks like this can slow momentum.

Yes, preparation can be done in a speedy timeframe by some players, but it is far from universal. I was able to keep play moving as a caster in 3.5 by having different spell lists pre-prepared that I would select between. Even then, that makes you lose a lot of the charm of vancian casting.

This really, and also.

I set a challanging encounter featuring a high level caster which the party lose. They teleport away, rest up, come up with a new plan, change spells and go back a couple of days later. The encounter is a walk over.

I don't have the time mid-session to re-jig the opponents spell lists, and even if I did then there is the risk of metagaming since I know what the players are planning.

Knaight
2012-05-16, 04:14 PM
Preparing spells means that there will likely be a time during gaming sessions where a the caster has to stop the game to figure out what spells he wants to prepare. The best gaming sessions in my experience have a sense of momentum, and even small breaks like this can slow momentum.

This right here? This is the source of almost all my animosity towards Vancian casting*. It slows everything down in a big way, which is just obnoxious.

*Though actually Vancian casting, in the actual style of Jack Vance would be fun.

KnightDisciple
2012-05-16, 04:41 PM
The Dresden Files.

Essentially any hermetic magic, of which there are plenty in fiction, involves preparing spells ahead of time, though admittedly most of the time once they have it planned/figured out, they can make it happen within limits.

Better, Vancian magic. At the risk of "losing an internet" . . . http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VancianMagic.

Lots of them have been influenced by D&D, but really, most of them were influenced by Vance before that.

Uh..what? Dresden Files magic is nothing like Vancian.

In combat, they just fling spells. All their "preparation" is what you might call "ritual magic", or the preparation of potions, one-shot trick items, or focus devices (aka magic item creation).
Once they start fighting and flinging around magic, they seem to run off of what sounds like a point-based system, or a fatigue-based system.
A better way to say it is that their typical "fast" casting takes practice and understanding. We see wizards training all the time. They train by repeatedly working on one or more skills/spells/etc, constantly refining how they go about doing their magic.

Plus, their magic actually obeys physics. :smalltongue:

Kurald Galain
2012-05-16, 05:34 PM
Huh. I never got that vibe from Amber. I really don't feel like it's based on Vancian magic.

The first five books don't use it; the latter five do.

Discworld also sometimes uses it, although that may be filed under "D&D parody". Numerous computer games also use it, even when not using D&D rules.

KnightDisciple
2012-05-16, 05:35 PM
Right, so. The Original Post essentially asks "why don't you like Vancian casting?".

Now, my experience with it has been 99% through D&D 3.5 or Pathfinder RPG (so, really, 3.5.5, but hey, different discussion!). Or at least, that's where I've encountered this casting system.

Thus, inevitably my discussion of the idea will stem from those experiences. Considering the OP seems to be looking at it from the perspective of how it relates to D&D, this shouldn't be an issue.

First, I will state my position on the matter of this casting system.
That is, I do not like it. This dislike stems from two main areas: thematic, and mechanical.

Second, an explanation.

Thematically, it's not very fitting.
I can think of exactly 3 places you can find something even close to this style of magic usage. Jack Vance's works (and even then, it's apparently not the same, though I haven't read them), D&D and the most derivative of OGL D20 products (like D20 Modern Urban Arcana), and fiction explicitly based on D&D (such as the various Drizzt books). I can't speak for Vance's works, but any fiction I've read that was explicitly D&D books, it showed how...awkward...the Vancian system felt when plugged into a narrative. Even when using spontaneous casters. The insertion of the artificial structure of Vancian casting hurt the narrative.
Why is that important in a game? Because ideally, the game encourages a narrative structure. Considering the wealth of threads around here that talk about people wanting more roleplaying as opposed to hack-and-slash dungeons, narrative would, in my mind, be an important thing.

So, connected to this, the question becomes how other narratives, other stories handle magic and spell-work (and how, perhaps, such things could be adapted to games). In my mind, there are 3 broad approaches: spells as well-defined, "pre-packaged" things that have set parameters; spells are generally-defined, but might vary from person to person, and can only be broadly categorized; and one where there's no such thing as "spells", per se, but instead the raw manipulation of magic to various ends.
Examples:
1.)Well-Defined/Pre-Packaged Spells: Harry Potter (the spells are named or implied to have names, you can pick out what spell did which, generally, and characters simply have to be powerful and skilled enough to use it, and can then generally use it as desired); Bleach (yes it's an anime, but it has categorized spells that might have some power variance, but are generally going to do what you expect); and Slayers (I'm not directly familiar, but it seems like they have super-organized magic).
2.)Broadly-Defined, Personally Variable Magic: Dresden Files (everybody has a sort of personally-defined set of spells that do certain things, but the effects can be widely varied, and the spells can be modified or invented on the fly; also, no two casters go about it exactly the same way; on the flip side, there are broad classifications for magic, and they leave some sort of trace that can be isolated from other types); Warhammer 40k (psykers seem to have powers that can be generally classified, but it varies wildly between users); DC and Marvel (bunches of magic users, and any one magic user may replicate effects the same way each time, but between users it's all over the place; as well, most magic-users can vary a lot in how they approach things).
3.)Raw Magical Manipulation: Belgariad (basically just concentrate, imagine an effect, say something, and *bam* it happens); Codex Alera (Furycrafting generally just amounts to "elemental manipulation", with a bunch of nifty side effects they can create); Avatar: the Last Airbender (again, elemental manipulation that follows a general form, but is clearly an overall fluid process guided by will and imagination).

Personally, for "classic fantasy" (which seems to be the general direction/flavor D&D is typically shooting for), I think Broadly-Defined, Personally Variable Magic is the best fit, thematically. It gives a chance for different characters to do magic different ways, and better yet, lets you accommodate a lot of myths and legends into potential character ideas.

But of course Vancian only resembles the first category, and even within that is super-restrictive in trying to resemble other works along those lines.

Mechanically, others have already made some solid points.
At early levels, the artificially-restricted nature of magic means your magic-user will often resort to using a crossbow or the like.
At higher levels, the "spell slot" system ends up meaning the wizard (or sorcerer, or druid, or whatever) rarely runs out of resources, especially since they can either a.)win a fight in just a few spells (of which they by that time have many) or b.)burn through scrolls, wands, staves, and the like, while never touching their own personal resources. Which is sort of a problem unto itself, but it's a symptom of a larger issue.
As well, there's also the fact that lots of things feel jarring about the mechanics. "Fire and forget" feels blatantly artificial. Why isn't there a way for the wizard to re-cast that spell he just used? Oh, he didn't "almost cast" it a 2nd time? And the morning prep-time; it's always 1 hour. For all 20 levels, it's exactly 1hr. The cost for wizards to scribe spells into their vulnerable spellbook is, at early levels, somewhat prohibitive (and an easy way for a DM to basically deny them the full measure of their central class feature); at higher levels, it's a trivial cost in gold and time, really.
Finally, the biggest condemnation in my mind is that it's really hard for a new player to play a caster.
That's not a good thing. The game should give equal openness to all classes for new players. I mean, coming in as a new player, what if you want to be a wizard like Merlin, or Dresden, or Harry Potter, or a thousand thousand other figures in literature old and new (source of inspiration for all sorts of ideas)? I mean, hey, sure you're kinda "squishy", but you get to toss fire around! Except a.)no you don't, you have to play for several sessions to get a Fireball (sort of the quintessential "wizard spell"), and b.)here, have fun tracking all your spells and remembering what you know, what you've prepped, your bonus spells, etc. What, the fighter? No, he just keeps track of his hitpoints; beyond that he just occasionally upgrades stuff. Hey, why are you tossing the wizard aside?
My point with that illustration is that it shouldn't be intimidating for a total RPG newb to play a magic-using character. They shouldn't be slowing the game down any more using that than using any other character, by and large. But with Vancian, that's not the case. Every in-game day (which could be several times in a session) they have to double-check their spell resources. They're likely to have to constantly re-jigger their daily prep list as they learn more, earn more, etc. In short, it makes playing a prepared caster a chore, and chores aren't fun.


My counter-proposal would look in 4 general directions.

1.)A Point-Based system. That is, a system somewhat similar to 3.5 Psionics, wherein you expend a limited amount of magical energy reserves to achieve an effect. I'd have limits on how many points you could pump into a power at any given level, and how effective any power could be at any level (for instance, a Fireball spell can't go above Xd6 ever, and you can only spend up to, say, 7MP if you're level 5, and it costs 2 to cast it at all, and 1MP per extra d6). This lets you control a resource and vary the "yield" of your offensive power (so you don't spend a 20d6 fireball on 8HP goblins, for instance). The key is that increased performance costs more energy. On the flip side, I'd be giving casters lots of MP, because even at low levels you should be able to fight with magic (the whole concept of the class) for a while. The per-level-limits on damage and such is to keep a low-level caster from "going nova" and just obliterating an encounter, as well as to keep them from making it a one-fight-a-day system.

2.)A fatigue-based system. I've seen some good ideas here or elsewhere. Basically, you cast, and it slowly wears your character down. Maybe build something in where you can recover some stamina after a round or two of concentration or something. This direction might encourage a more encounter-centric mindset, which isn't a bad idea. I would think that as you gained levels, early-level spells would tire you out less and less, until at some point your earliest spells don't even faze you. Perhaps use a similar concept from the point-based system, and increase the fatigue of a spell in exchange for more "oomph".

3.)A skill-check-based system. This one works really well for any of the 3 broad types above. In my mind, it's the best way to go about it. I'd say you'd see more common magic usage with this, but the flip side would be to divide spells into the sort you use in combat (which require a skill check on the fly) and the sort you use in a ritual (which requires time, materials, possibly other people making the check, and so forth). As well, you'd have to make any one spell a bit weaker. But on the flip side, you can basically be a walking font of magic, which would be great fun. One way to keep someone from spamming a single spell is temporary buildup of negatives on the checks, not enough to make you stop using spells after 2 rounds for the rest of the fight, but enough to make you stop and think about it.

4.)System where you just use magic, period. This would be like the 3.5 Warlock, or (a better example to me) how you might make a magic-user in Mutants and Masterminds. You have a set list of spells, and you can use them. Period. Harder to balance in some ways, but the least bookkeeping among all of them.

Personally, I'd say a skill-based system, perhaps with a dash of fatigue casting or point-based-casting, would be the most fun to use, pretty easy to pick up, would fit well with virtually any concept from fiction and myth, and would still let you keep a core system (D20+something vs Target Number) that's familiar. I want the caster to have to earn new spells, but once he has, he should be able to mix and match as he'd like.


Sorry for the huge post that might double up with my other one, but this isn't a small issue, so it's inevitably not going to be a small answer.

Mark Hall
2012-05-16, 05:43 PM
Isn't preparation par for the course for casters in general, not just D&D? I've never played Mage, but from what I've heard, Mages are the most powerful supernatural when given time to prepare, and the least powerful supernatural when ambushed in their skivvies.

There's preparation then there's Batmanning.

"Preparation" in the Vancian sense usually means "Select the spells you will use for the day. Once expended, they are no longer available."

Batmanning is more that, given time to lay out plans and acquire the necessary gear, Batman can beat any other hero.

In D&D, wizards generally need Vancian preparation, but they can benefit from Batman preparation. In Mage, mages have zero need for Vancian preparation, but they flourish if they've given Batman preparation, allowing them to lay in effects that they will later take advantage of.

nedz
2012-05-16, 05:47 PM
3.5 does contain a number of options of which Vancian is only one.

These are

Vancian (Prepared)
Spontaneous
SLAs
Retrieved (Spirit Shamen)
Psionics
Invoking
Incarnum
Binding
Truenaming


I just wanted to make a list of the alternatives available.

Have I missed any ?

Weimann
2012-05-16, 05:48 PM
As for the "noone else uses it"... right. I don't know about you guys, but when I play tabletop, my goal is to create something new, not replicate existing fiction...Not saying you're alone, but I personally find that in terms of characters, players normally does want to recreate something they've seen elsewhere. In fact, "this thing I saw on TV/in a comic/in a movie/in a book" seems very prevalent among character conceps in general.

Knaight
2012-05-16, 06:26 PM
Not saying you're alone, but I personally find that in terms of characters, players normally does want to recreate something they've seen elsewhere. In fact, "this thing I saw on TV/in a comic/in a movie/in a book" seems very prevalent among character concepts in general.

There's complete recreation and then there's inspiration. I play around with archetypes all the time, as things to contort into interesting characters. If I happen to see something done really well, or a twist that I haven't seen before that works brilliantly, those techniques are added to the inspiration list. As a GM I steal a little more blatantly than as a player. Then there's the matter of explanation of character concepts, where one can draw on analogs in other media. This can create the illusion of recreation when it isn't really there.

Eldan
2012-05-16, 06:29 PM
I should, perhaps, mention why I like Vancian. There are two reasons, both fluff related, but one a bit more mechanical.


The first is the sheer badass factor of it. The wizard doesn't just concentrate and magic happens. Oh no. He rips a piece of magic out of the fundamental fabric of the world and cages it in his head, like a chained attack dog that he can unleash when he feels like it. He stares down the laws of physics, dares them to act up against his will and then enslaves them.

The second is the preparation aspect. Its a system that tries to make the player and the character think. Prepare ahead of time. The wizard has (or should have) a limited selection of spells, all of which help in (or should help in) specific situations. He has to think ahead and judge which ones he will need that day. It puts that superhuman intelligence to a use.

Now, the first part is not very well represented in the game, I admit, and the second is shut down hard by universally useful spells and some divination methods. But even the bits that are there make the wizard more interesting than most other magic systems.

Mark Hall
2012-05-16, 07:36 PM
Now, the first part is not very well represented in the game, I admit, and the second is shut down hard by universally useful spells and some divination methods. But even the bits that are there make the wizard more interesting than most other magic systems.

Track down Joel Rosenberg's "The Sleeping Dragon", which actually uses this concept.

Stubbazubba
2012-05-16, 08:11 PM
Vancian casting temporally divorces the important character decisions from the exciting parts of the game/narrative. You make the important decisions in the morning, then you just roll dice to see how it turns out later. The incomparables decision, to use that lovely PA video's lingo, is at the least exciting moment, and its effects are only felt long afterwards. That's a systemic problem dealing with daily resource management schemes in general.

If it was all encounter-based, that would be better; a sort of Tome of Battle for all magic. If a wizard 'powered up' when the combat music starts playing, thus gaining X spells to use in that encounter, that would avoid this issue, at the cost of moving all that preparation time to right when everyone else wants to get to the encounter. Actually, the bigger problem with that alternative is the versatility; a spell-caster knows what they'll be fighting before they prep spells, so they'll always prepare the appropriate encounter-ender. It could be argued, though, that that's a problem with having encounter-ending spells in the first place, though that could, in turn, be argued to be an element of emergent gameplay, and not something you can control as a designer. So where the implementation ends and the mechanic begins is a little blurry.

The next problem with Vancian casting is the onus it puts on the new player to choose a very limited number of spells from a near-infinite pool (in fact, an infinite pool, considering each use of a spell has to be prepped individually). I played in a group with a newcomer who was dead-set on playing a Wizard, even though we warned him it was a pretty complicated task. It quickly turned into the rest of us just telling him which spells to prepare, and then which spells to use at any given moment. Before long, he killed off that character to replace it with a Rogue. That's not OK. Archetypes shouldn't be related to mastery of the rules, IMO. If I'm new to D&D and want to play a spellcaster, that shouldn't be significantly easier or harder than playing a Fighter. Hopefully, they'd both be as useful, too, but that's a whole 'nother discussion.

Vancian's strong point is its transparency. You know exactly what a spellcaster can do in a day, and as a designer, that's handy. But I'm not paying money for you to do what's easy unless it's actually what works best, too.

At the end of the day, though, I'd say I'm neutral towards Vancian. Yes, it has its rough edges, some of which make it quite unbearable to lug around IMO, but so does every other proposed system. I think we all just have our varying preferences. The problem is that D&D is the system, so we all have to deal with Vancian more than any other system, whether we like it or not.

The_Jackal
2012-05-16, 08:17 PM
Unbalanced, rigid, and over-complicated. Plus running out of spells and having to stop the party to park your fanny for 8 hours is just unfun.

Salbazier
2012-05-16, 08:19 PM
The Dresden Files.

Essentially any hermetic magic, of which there are plenty in fiction, involves preparing spells ahead of time, though admittedly most of the time once they have it planned/figured out, they can make it happen within limits.

Huh?:smallconfused: The only prepared magic that I remember in DF are the potions. Which doesn't count since it is a magic item. Everything else is either ritual orin situ evocation. Can you give any particular example within that series?

Better, Vancian magic. At the risk of "losing an internet" . . . http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VancianMagic.

Lots of them have been influenced by D&D, but really, most of them were influenced by Vance before that.

Not that many, and a lot of that are either DnD influenced or invalid example. Like the topmost example, Magister Negi Magi, don't count since 20 seconds delay spell is not vancian magic but metagicked spontaneus casting while Naruto's scrolls, well, scrolls. The book examples I mostly don't know.

Kane0
2012-05-16, 08:20 PM
I dont mind it myself. Its for the most part easy to get your head around and flexible enough, but it falls down with the ease of how it is abused and warped, thus ruining its efficiency.

I love my warlocks, but I recognize that unlimited uses of single spells are not a preferred solution. The psionics point based system I've found to be remarkably balanced if a bit more difficult to track, and I've homebrewed a spell point based caster as well as an invocation user and vancian caster.

Then again both of those could theoretically be ruined just as Vancian has been, so its all more or less the same and comes down to a matter of preference most of the time.

hamlet
2012-05-17, 07:39 AM
Huh?:smallconfused: The only prepared magic that I remember in DF are the potions. Which doesn't count since it is a magic item. Everything else is either ritual orin situ evocation. Can you give any particular example within that series?

The question I was responding to was not about Vancian magic at the moment, but that Yora has no experience with magic that needs to be prepared ahead of time. Dresden Files contains, among other types, magic that must be prepared well ahead of time, including all the blasting type spells that they throw around. It is hermetic magic par excellence.




Not that many, and a lot of that are either DnD influenced or invalid example. Like the topmost example, Magister Negi Magi, don't count since 20 seconds delay spell is not vancian magic but metagicked spontaneus casting while Naruto's scrolls, well, scrolls. The book examples I mostly don't know.

Having never read Magister Negi Magi, I can't comment on it. However, again, I was pointing out that Yora's claim that "Magic that is prepared ahead of time is just not present in fantasy fiction" is simply untrue.



EDIT: As far as I'm concerned, I personally like Vancian magic in the D&D game (at least before 3.0 completely screwed it up by not understanding why certain limiting factors were there and just yanked them). It really did play into the theme of D&D which, contrary to popular belief, is not the imitation of popular fantasy, but is a game in the style of pulp fiction of the 50's and is as much about preparation and anticipation than it is about blasting monsters and taking their stuff. Hell, there's a whole section on it in the player's handbook.

All the gripes about how having to choose spells ahead of time is silly really don't quite get that aspect of D&D. The point is that you have to, as the player, plan and anticipate what may be coming that day and arm yourself accordingly. It's precisely the same as for theives, fighters, clerics, etc. They have to anticipate what tools they might need that day and be sure to acquire and carry them and then use them at the appropriate times. If you find out your choices were incorrect, fine, retreat to another area, or just come back another day with the correct spells and tools to finish the job. That's the point of the damned game. All the cinematic cravings are very much later additions of later editions.

All that said, and while I am of the opinion that it just isn't D&D without Vancian casting in there, I think there's room for all sorts of variants. Hell, in the PHB, there should be Vancian mages, spell point mages, warlock type mages, etc. etc. And they should all function alongside each other or in place of each other.

MReav
2012-05-17, 09:59 AM
The first is the sheer badass factor of it. The wizard doesn't just concentrate and magic happens. Oh no. He rips a piece of magic out of the fundamental fabric of the world and cages it in his head, like a chained attack dog that he can unleash when he feels like it. He stares down the laws of physics, dares them to act up against his will and then enslaves them.

If the fluff actually described Vancian Spellcasting like this, I think more people would like it.

Morty
2012-05-17, 10:37 AM
To elaborate on why I like Vancian Casting...
First, it gives magic a sense of seriousness. Casting a spell takes time, so if you want to do it in any way quickly, you have to prepare it beforehand.
Also, it serves as a good limiting factor on magic users' power. If you haven't prepared the right spell well, tough luck.
Mind you, I'm talking about the idea of prepared casting. It doesn't really work that way in D&D.

sdream
2012-05-17, 10:44 AM
Chalk me up as another who hates the 3.5 interpretation.

It is mechanically awkward, poorly balanced, and nonsensical.

I would have no issue with a system that allowed you to prepare X levels of spells for rapid casting, but you could change spells prepared at any time, or slowly cast other spells known, if the spells and numbers were properly balanced.

Mark Hall
2012-05-17, 10:47 AM
Unbalanced, rigid, and over-complicated. Plus running out of spells and having to stop the party to park your fanny for 8 hours is just unfun.

Plan better, then.

With a spellcaster under a Vancian system, the point is that you have phenomenal power, but must use it judiciously; if you drop a spell for every difficulty, then you're going to run out. If you save your spells for when they're needed, then you're a potent force.

I see people complaining "Then your low-level wizard winds up relying on a crossbow." Let me get on my old man chair for a moment and shake my cane saying "You should be glad to HAVE crossbows! Back in my day, wizards had slings! And then only with a supplement!"

A problem with 3.x is that it stripped many of the balancing factors out of the Vancian system... things like the length of time it takes to memorize new spells, or the fact that saving became more likely as you advanced in level. It turned spellcasters into far more potent forces and, IMO, actually contributes to the perceived (relative) weakness of sorcerers. If wizards had to prepare for a long time, but sorcerers were 1-hour-wonders, I think you'd find the balance shifting towards sorcerers. If advancing in level made it less likely that you'd suffer the full effect of powerful spells, then you'd find fewer (not no, but fewer) "Melee can't have nice things" arguments.



I would have no issue with a system that allowed you to prepare X levels of spells for rapid casting, but you could change spells prepared at any time, or slowly cast other spells known, if the spells and numbers were properly balanced.

I will say that was something I enjoyed in 4e... moving a lot of the utility spells to rituals that could be cast as-needed was a great move, IMO, allowing the "tome casting" feel that some houserules provided.

MReav
2012-05-17, 10:58 AM
I could support a mixture, where you could cast spells on the fly, but they take time to produce or are less powerful, whereas if you prepare them in advance, you can chuck them out harder and faster, at the cost of not being able to use that spell slot except to cast that spell.

hamlet
2012-05-17, 11:00 AM
Plan better, then.

With a spellcaster under a Vancian system, the point is that you have phenomenal power, but must use it judiciously; if you drop a spell for every difficulty, then you're going to run out. If you save your spells for when they're needed, then you're a potent force.

I see people complaining "Then your low-level wizard winds up relying on a crossbow." Let me get on my old man chair for a moment and shake my cane saying "You should be glad to HAVE crossbows! Back in my day, wizards had slings! And then only with a supplement!"

A problem with 3.x is that it stripped many of the balancing factors out of the Vancian system... things like the length of time it takes to memorize new spells, or the fact that saving became more likely as you advanced in level. It turned spellcasters into far more potent forces and, IMO, actually contributes to the perceived (relative) weakness of sorcerers. If wizards had to prepare for a long time, but sorcerers were 1-hour-wonders, I think you'd find the balance shifting towards sorcerers. If advancing in level made it less likely that you'd suffer the full effect of powerful spells, then you'd find fewer (not no, but fewer) "Melee can't have nice things" arguments.




I will say that was something I enjoyed in 4e... moving a lot of the utility spells to rituals that could be cast as-needed was a great move, IMO, allowing the "tome casting" feel that some houserules provided.

QFT

Also, I've considered breaking out my 3.x books and trying a campaign with some of those limiting factors added back in and see how it changes things up. I think it would very much improve matters.

Mustard
2012-05-17, 12:39 PM
I rather like the plan-ahead type nature it requires. I don't play classes that use Vancian preparation/casting all the time, and in fact I rather like my sorcerer. But sometimes, I just like the planning ahead aspect. If you know you're exploring a cave, you can prepare accordingly. If you know you're facing undead, you can prepare accordingly. Have to entertain a crowd? Prepare defenses for an attack? Sneak into a castle? You might have a standard spell load-out, but these and many other special occasions can prompt an overhaul for that day. Or maybe you just tweak the standard selection.

One may be tempted to ask, "well, if you can cast any spell you know, and can know a lot of spells, and just be limited in how many times you cast them, isn't that superior in every way?" And my answer to that is, maybe, but it can be thrilling to me, to select ahead of time. If you prepare poorly, an element of excitement is introduced. You might need to retreat, or find a clever workaround to make do, or you might have some backup items, like scrolls. If you prepare perfectly, it is very validating. It also prompts you do do some reconnaissance, if that's your thing.

Granted, a campaign should be varied enough, and provide clues, to really get the most out of the system, but when things work out right, it's very interesting.

KnightDisciple
2012-05-17, 12:57 PM
The question I was responding to was not about Vancian magic at the moment, but that Yora has no experience with magic that needs to be prepared ahead of time. Dresden Files contains, among other types, magic that must be prepared well ahead of time, including all the blasting type spells that they throw around. It is hermetic magic par excellence. Their "blasting spells" are in no way prepared ahead of time.

They practice them ahead of time; they hone their skill with them, determine how they'll do them in the future.

I've read every book in the Dresden Files series; not once does Harry ever have to do a drop of "spell preparation" to Fuego some vampire in the face. The closest he comes is that he needs a focus device, which isn't prep so much as acknowledging the basic nature of the system. And even then he doesn't need the focus device.

In fact, nothing he does has him doing anything remotely approaching "spell preparation", especially not in the D&D sense. When he does some of his more complicated magic, he simply sets up a ritual then and there, and does the spell. The closest I can think of is the first time he went to use Little Chicago, and that was mainly just cleansing himself and preparing himself mentally, because it was a really big ritual. Otherwise, it's just "I'll need a few items, then bam, spell ritual".

And it's not just Harry; basically every wizard we see in the series does magic "on the fly". Even when they're preparing a major enchanted item or some such, they don't have to sit and prep the spell, they just do the spell.

Basically, Dresden Files magic is either at-will (with what looks to be a combo spell point and fatigue system), ritual (needs time and components, but is still ultimately done at that moment you finish), and magic item creation. No "spell prep" involved.



As for all the supporters of Vancian: your talk of "well plan better!" is a shining illustration of the problem with the system.

That is, it's very cruel to brand-new players. Bad enough they have to juggle all these spell ideas in general. Now we're going to set the system up where they have to guess a bunch, and then there's a strong risk of the system punishing them if they guess wrong/"don't plan better"? That's a great way to make them decide to not play a caster, or not play at all. At least a beat-stick guy has a basic methodology to him.

As for "thieves and fighters select tools ahead of time": Not in my experience. Rogues will have all their tools on hand at any given time if they can help it, so that they're always prepared no matter what.
And Fighters will either golf bag their weapons (a bunch of less powerful weapons, but of varied metals and damage types), or just grit their teeth and use their really good main weapon no matter what. Besides, there's not really a system in place to reward fighters for switching out their "load-out".
3.5 at least (which, hey, is again about my only experience, and I'm rolling Pathfinder in that lump) is very much about locking martial characters into a single, static path of specialization, unless they "generalize" and end up spreading themselves too thin. A fighter can't plan ahead and reassign his feats each day. A rogue can't reassign his talents with a couple hours prep time.
But on the flip side, that's not totally bad.

Clerics use Vancian casting, except at least they can always spontaneously heal/harm using unspent spell slots. Wizards don't even get that.

Really, my biggest problem is the exact implementation of this whole "prepared casting" concept. Although, I wouldn't mind abolishing sorcerer as a near-copy of wizards, and instead making the wizard something in-between, albeit with a more point/skill/fatigue-based system.

Essentially, the system as it stands in 3.5 (which seems to be what 5e is heading back toward) is decidedly sub-par in my view, and we'd be better off if it was scrapped for something more robust, more new-player-friendly, and more flexible (to allow us to more easily take our inspired concepts from the breadth of myth and legend and entertainment, and play them).

hamlet
2012-05-17, 01:40 PM
There's just no way to respond to that.

So, yeah, whatever.

hamlet
2012-05-17, 01:42 PM
EDIT: Double Post.

Mark Hall
2012-05-17, 02:01 PM
That is, it's very cruel to brand-new players. Bad enough they have to juggle all these spell ideas in general. Now we're going to set the system up where they have to guess a bunch, and then there's a strong risk of the system punishing them if they guess wrong/"don't plan better"? That's a great way to make them decide to not play a caster, or not play at all. At least a beat-stick guy has a basic methodology to him.

Every game has it's learning curve, and if you play a wizard like a wizard (i.e. hand back, think about things, and don't try to gung-ho everyone in the face), it's not that bad as a starting wizard. Especially if they're a STARTING wizard. If you dump a newbie in at 12th level, he's going to have problems with pretty much any class. With a wizard, you say "You can only cast 1 spell per day. Pick carefully, and ask for advice is you need to." As he gains experience, he'll get better.



As for "thieves and fighters select tools ahead of time": Not in my experience. Rogues will have all their tools on hand at any given time if they can help it, so that they're always prepared no matter what.

No, they're not, because their spells aren't their tools. Their spells are feats, proficiencies, and skill points.

If I make a thief, I have to spend skill points to make him a thief. I have to choose where those points go and then, barring pretty drastic action, they cannot be changed. I have to choose my specialties beforehand, and they're the same, day in, day out. I can use equipment to slightly modify these things... get a few percentage points here or there... but, even then, I have to have those to start with, and not everything is done at high level with nigh-infinite funds.

If I make a fighter, I have to spend my feats levels in advance. If I make a trippy fighter and there's a lot of snakes? Then I can somewhat hack it, but most of my best tricks are gone. Chargy fighter in rough terrain? Again, can swing my sword, but not much else. Critty fighter and undead or constructs? Third verse, same as the first.

A wizard who finds himself with the wrong load-out for an adventure? Next day, he can have the right load out... or, at least, as right of a load-out as he can manage. A wizard can CHOOSE to specialize, but a fighter and thief pretty much have to.

Justin Halliday
2012-05-17, 08:59 PM
As 3.x psionics points out, self-advancing spells are pretty horrible in a spell point system... why spend 6X points for a marginally improved 3rd level spell, which I can cast a 1st level spell six times for the same cost?

Spell slots do several things. First, they prevent you from doing just that... even with metamagic and 3.x's explicit "You can memorize a lower-level spell in a higher-level slot", you don't get the exponential more points available... just a few slots.

Self-advancing and scaling spells are terrible in all systems, Vancian and mana-based systems.

I re-did magic entirely for Heroes Against Darkness and one of my rules was that no spell should scale without a cost. So in the system most of the spells have X costs, where the player can spend more or less anima depending on their circumstances. For example, a simple Burning Touch spell costs X anima, where X is the number of dice of damage that the spell deals. Alternatively, the ranged variant - Burning Ray - costs 1 Anima + X Anima, where the 1 anima is the cost of the extra range.

This has the added effect of totally negating caster supremacy, because casters (and their spells) gain power linearly as they gain levels, rather than gaining power exponentially.

Sergeantbrother
2012-05-18, 02:21 AM
As others have said, I find the mechanics cumbersome, tedious, stressful, and unfun. Having to prepare ths spells ahead of time takes time in real life while everybody else is waiting around, and it's not fun time either. You have to do this every day and before every encounter. It makes playing a wizard far harder than it needs to be.

I also don't think that it is thematically as fun, it seems to strict and rigid, not magical enough. Also, it makes it way too easy for lower level wizards to be reduced to mediocre crossbowmen.

I like playing spell casters in other sorts of systems, with spell points, activation rolls, or at will casting, but I will not play a Vancian caster in D&D - if I were going to do that, I would go fill out some forms or something with a real world benefit, because it's certainly not fun for me.

Grac
2012-05-18, 08:44 AM
I don't have any particularly strong feelings about vancian casting. Like most things in life, it has good and bad aspects. That said, there are issues with the points you listed above. The Penny Arcade link gave some, but here is some more.

Preparing spells means that there will likely be a time during gaming sessions where a the caster has to stop the game to figure out what spells he wants to prepare. The best gaming sessions in my experience have a sense of momentum, and even small breaks like this can slow momentum.
Yes, preparation can be done in a speedy timeframe by some players, but it is far from universal. I was able to keep play moving as a caster in 3.5 by having different spell lists pre-prepared that I would select between. Even then, that makes you lose a lot of the charm of vancian casting.

Casting no other spells also indicates the absence of any at-will magic. This has the danger of creating scenarios where the spellcaster is stuck playing a very poor crossbowman.

Casting no other spells can likewise cause disruption to the flow of the game. Say the players reach an obstacle, think over how to get around it, and their best option by far is to wait to reprepare spells and use X spell as a solution. This whole thing triggers the caster players to reprepare possibly all their spells, leading to another momentum breaker.

So, the DM put a bad challenge in their way you said. But you see, there is the rub...the DM has to prepare for the caster possibly having access to a wide variety of spells. Either he never prepares situations that they need spells to solve (which doesn't feel like fantasy) or he has to run the risk that they won't have that spell.

As for removing the spell after casting, this can lead to two detrimental scenarios. In the first, the player holds onto their spells compulsive out of the fear that they will need them more later, sometimes even when the DM specifically put in the current challenge as the only time they will need that spell. In the other scenario, the player freely uses these resources when they are not strictly needed, setting them up for failure later.

None of those ruin the system for me, but they are issues that require some finesse to deal with, and I can understand them turning other people off.



Also, you must understand that you can't completely divorce the idea of vancian casting and implementations of vancian casting. People would laugh in your face if you made a thread called "Why do people hate soda?" and then told everyone not to mention any brands/flavors of soda in the discussion.
Some people have tried Coke, Dr. Pepper, Rootbeer, Orange Crush, and Sprite and decided that they don't like soda. Just because they can't pinpoint what common factor it is about soda that they do not like does not make their opinion any less valid.
I'll just respond to the last para here, but I quote the whole thing on purpose:
You say that you can't completely divorce the concept from its implementation in D&D. I disagree. Proof enough of this is the wonderful responses people have posted since I clarified what I was asking. The post I'm quoting includes observations that I might not complain about (for instance, the low level wizard being a crossbowman with a once-per-day magical effect, I like that :) ), but certainly tells me why you don't like vancian casting as a concept, and does so without needing to deal with 'bad implementation'.

Ok, I lied, because I do want to respond to some other things you said :smallredface:
You raise the problem faced by a party that is unable to advance because they lack the proper spell. That's certainly a problem, but in most cases that I would DM, I would try to create situations where magic helps advance the scenario, but doesn't do it on its own. The party might go forward slower without the right spell, but in most cases wouldn't be frozen. If they did decide to wait and prepare spells, then that's their problem and would have effects in-story.

Otherwise, for the most part, you and other posters have explained your complaints with vancian casting rather well, and while I disagree with them, I at least know why.

Stubbazubba
2012-05-18, 10:31 AM
Plan better, then.

With a spellcaster under a Vancian system, the point is that you have phenomenal power, but must use it judiciously; if you drop a spell for every difficulty, then you're going to run out. If you save your spells for when they're needed, then you're a potent force.

This is not a product of Vancian casting. Mana points do this, too. Any temporally-restricted resource management system, including 4e's Powers schedule, is going to make planning your timing important. This is even true for Tome of Battle, though its powers are on a much shorter cycle.

Mark Hall
2012-05-18, 11:06 AM
Self-advancing and scaling spells are terrible in all systems, Vancian and mana-based systems.

I re-did magic entirely for Heroes Against Darkness and one of my rules was that no spell should scale without a cost. So in the system most of the spells have X costs, where the player can spend more or less anima depending on their circumstances.

Take a look at Hackmaster. It has a flexible spell point system, with most spells having costs by which you can improve the spell.

eepop
2012-05-18, 12:12 PM
would have effects in-story.
The problem is that not all campaigns are like that, and in fact, a good number of published modules don't have that kind of time-pressure.

Its not that this can't be worked around. Its that it actively makes the DMs job just a little bit harder.


Otherwise, for the most part, you and other posters have explained your complaints with vancian casting rather well, and while I disagree with them, I at least know why.

To be honest, I don't completely agree with all the points I made. I can recognize them as negatives, but at the same time they can be worked around.

If I was writing a game, I certainly wouldn't rule out the possibility of vancian magic, but try to see what my game wanted from a magic system and try to balance the positives and negatives of each option in that light.

willpell
2012-05-18, 12:21 PM
To me Vancian casting is just kind of an absurd concept. Can you imagine having a spoon that disappeared after you swallowed the soup off it, or a language that you forgot how to speak at the end of every conversation? It almost makes sense for divine magic, your deity gives you boons that are expended, but with arcane the only way I can begin to make sense of it is to think that your brain is just strained to the breaking point and has to let the knowledge out at the first opportunity. But there are a lot of details where the analogy breaks down, and it just doesn't feel natural at all.

The warlock is an overcorrection in the other direction; psionics are more or less perfect. Vancian might be worth it if everybody really went full-bore on spell components and details of the preparation process and such, but that sort of detail tends to get glossed over and leave just this weird video-gamey system where your widgets all only work once but you have an entire wiki full of them to choose from.

Mark Hall
2012-05-18, 02:34 PM
As others have said, I find the mechanics cumbersome, tedious, stressful, and unfun. Having to prepare ths spells ahead of time takes time in real life while everybody else is waiting around, and it's not fun time either. You have to do this every day and before every encounter. It makes playing a wizard far harder than it needs to be.


I think you are overstating, here. Most games I have been in, the Vancian casters have their "generic list"... their "I am adventuring today, so this is my list", with a few that they swap in or out. It's not much different than other's pre-adventuring prep... the fighter's buying arrows, the thief stocking up on his consumable tools, etc.

hamlet
2012-05-18, 02:55 PM
I think you are overstating, here. Most games I have been in, the Vancian casters have their "generic list"... their "I am adventuring today, so this is my list", with a few that they swap in or out. It's not much different than other's pre-adventuring prep... the fighter's buying arrows, the thief stocking up on his consumable tools, etc.

And it takes, maybe, a grand total of 5 minutes for all the casters in the party to figure out what spells they're taking in most circumstances, so . . . yeah, that's just a massive horribly evil investment of time right there.:smallfrown:

Straybow
2012-05-18, 03:42 PM
I will add this into the OP because it seems to be necessary to say. Vancian casting at bottom, consists of the following:
Some form of preparation of spells, readying them.
Casting those spells and no others
After being cast, that spell is removed from the casters list.


The central property of vancian casting is the player has to choose what spells to prepare before they know what spells they're actually going to need. This sounds like an interesting property, but it just doesn't seem to work out. No, these are the defining properties of Gygaxian magic, not Vancian magic out of Dying Earth. As I recall, the principle limitation from Vance is that spells are too complex to fully memorize. The spell is always prepared from a written source.

Sorcerers are Gygaxian (casting only from a prepared slot, even though no specific spell is prepared), Sorcerers are not Vancian in that they fully know the spells.

Clerics are not Vancian in that they technically know all their spells but must prepare them in slots.
3
My objection is reversed. If quasi-Vancian magic is to be used for magic, it should all be quasi-Vancian (or "qV"). No exceptions because "that's how magic works."

For example, in AD&D 1&2, making a wand with X charges required "loading" the item with X castings of that spell. This is consistent with qV as a casting mechanic. In 3.x WotC changed crafting away from qV, and now it just takes a number of days according to the calculated value of the item. It is easier to make a wand of XYZ than to cast spell XYZ an equivalent number of times.

Threeshades
2012-05-18, 04:31 PM
After reading this discussion I came to the conclusion that I like neither Manapoints nor Vancian casting. I think it's time for something different.

Why not make spells unlimited per day/encounter/whatever but infer different penalties, like making the spells generally weaker, having casters perform some sort of concentration check in order to cast successfully, have some form of cooldown, as in the caster needing a certain amount of time before they can cast the next spell which depends on the level of the spell cast, having the caster infer penalties, such as fatigue, after casting a spell, which are stronger in case of more powerful spells or tap into a physical resource instead (in other words, more significant material component costs). There are a few options.

Sergeantbrother
2012-05-18, 04:48 PM
After reading this discussion I came to the conclusion that I like neither Manapoints nor Vancian casting. I think it's time for something different.

Why not make spells unlimited per day/encounter/whatever but infer different penalties, like making the spells generally weaker, having casters perform some sort of concentration check in order to cast successfully, have some form of cooldown, as in the caster needing a certain amount of time before they can cast the next spell which depends on the level of the spell cast, having the caster infer penalties, such as fatigue, after casting a spell, which are stronger in case of more powerful spells or tap into a physical resource instead (in other words, more significant material component costs). There are a few options.

I came up with some house rules a few years back that involved the equivalent of skill points for schools of magic. With each level, a wizard got so many skill points to spend among the different magical schools such as necromancy, abjuration, conjuration, etc. To cast a spell, it took a skill roll with the ranks + Int bonus, just like any skill, with a difficulty that was based on the level of the spell. There weren't enough skill points that the wizard could be good at casting all kinds of spells, so it ended up with the wizard either specializing in a certain school or schools or being a generalist who had a fairly high chance of failing any particular casting roll. The wizard could cast as often as he liked, though a roll of 1 caused the spell to backfire.

dsmiles
2012-05-18, 04:58 PM
After reading this discussion I came to the conclusion that I like neither Manapoints nor Vancian casting. I think it's time for something different. I think you should take a look at the fatigue-based casting in BESM: Advanced d20 Magic. You might like it.

Morty
2012-05-19, 06:12 AM
After reading this discussion I came to the conclusion that I like neither Manapoints nor Vancian casting. I think it's time for something different.

Why not make spells unlimited per day/encounter/whatever but infer different penalties, like making the spells generally weaker, having casters perform some sort of concentration check in order to cast successfully, have some form of cooldown, as in the caster needing a certain amount of time before they can cast the next spell which depends on the level of the spell cast, having the caster infer penalties, such as fatigue, after casting a spell, which are stronger in case of more powerful spells or tap into a physical resource instead (in other words, more significant material component costs). There are a few options.

There's a rather huge variety of spellcasting systems out there, and what you just proposed definetly exists in some of them.
Using the default magic system GURPS spells simply tire the spellcaster out rapidly, but the system allows for a much greater variety of methods with some tweaking - including preparation casting. Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd edition and Dark Heresy don't have any actual costs assigned to magic/psychic powers, but each casting of a spell or manifesting a power carries a risk of dangerous side-effects. Mages from the new World of Darkness can make up spells on the fly and only pay mana to alleviate the effects of Paradox (I think. I'm not sure how mana works in Mage the Awakening, so feel free to correct me).
And so on and so forth. Personally, if I ever play a GURPS game with magic, I'm going to try to convince the GM to allow me to use Vancian casting.

zlefin
2012-05-19, 06:53 AM
i dont' think there's that much hate with vancian casting per se; just its implementation in certain forms; such as the balance in 3.5;
that said; my primary problem with vancian casting, esp in 3.5; is that the fluff explanation PROVIDED in the core material is unsatisfying and nonsensical. Good explanations can be made; and have been seen in this thread and many have thought of them themselves; but when the one provided in the rulebooks as canonical doesn't make sense; it hurts the thing as a whole.

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-19, 11:32 AM
To me Vancian casting is just kind of an absurd concept. Can you imagine having a spoon that disappeared after you swallowed the soup off it, or a language that you forgot how to speak at the end of every conversation?

Oddly enough, I can, largely thanks to the existance of spells like tongues and prestidigitation.

Straybow
2012-05-19, 01:08 PM
There's a rather huge variety of spellcasting systems out there, and what you just proposed definetly exists in some of them.

Using the default magic system GURPS spells simply tire the spellcaster out rapidly, but the system allows for a much greater variety of methods with some tweaking - including preparation casting.

And so on and so forth. Personally, if I ever play a GURPS game with magic, I'm going to try to convince the GM to allow me to use Vancian casting.
The problem with GURPS is that it doesn't distinguish physical endurance from mental endurance, so that a character who has concentrated on physicality can pick up a spell as a new power and use it with all the endurance traits that she'd built for physical feats. A separate track with a scaled application of endurance from magic/psionic use is needed to balance it.

Morty
2012-05-19, 02:36 PM
To be honest, I'm not sure why that's a problem. Besides, it's not so easy for a physically fit character to "pick up" a spell, because you need Magery first.

Stubbazubba
2012-05-19, 03:57 PM
After reading this discussion I came to the conclusion that I like neither Manapoints nor Vancian casting. I think it's time for something different.

Why not make spells unlimited per day/encounter/whatever but infer different penalties, like making the spells generally weaker, having casters perform some sort of concentration check in order to cast successfully, have some form of cooldown, as in the caster needing a certain amount of time before they can cast the next spell which depends on the level of the spell cast, having the caster infer penalties, such as fatigue, after casting a spell, which are stronger in case of more powerful spells or tap into a physical resource instead (in other words, more significant material component costs). There are a few options.

Many of those have been done, as well, with varying degrees of success. They each have their problems and each evokes a different feel to your magic, so any of them might be very appropriate for a given setting. The benefit of Vancian casting, though, is that in combat accounting is reduced. You just choose your spell, and the other guy rolls a Saving Throw, then you might roll damage. There's not much else. Rolling for concentration or to avoid fatigue adds more rolls, so things take longer to resolve without adding a lot of fun for the spellcaster's player, while adding cooldown to each spell gives you something you have to keep track of pretty carefully (though if, as you suggested, cooldown affected your ability to cast any spell afterwards, not just that same spell, that wouldn't be too hard to keep track of). Implementing each of these would have advantages and disadvantages compared to Vancian casting, and it's very healthy to play a game with a different magic system from time to time, it's very refreshing. I don't think D&D will ever ditch Vancian, not unless they start with a completely blank slate and specifically avoid legacy mechanics.

Sergeantbrother
2012-05-19, 05:17 PM
How about this, use spell points for spontaneous casting, when you have spent more than a third of your spell points, you are fatigued, when you have spent more than two thirds, you are exhausted.

Objection
2012-05-19, 05:42 PM
How about this, use spell points for spontaneous casting, when you have spent more than a third of your spell points, you are fatigued, when you have spent more than two thirds, you are exhausted.

So sort of like this (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm#spellPointVariantVitalizing) but not quite the same?

Zeful
2012-05-19, 08:10 PM
To me Vancian casting is just kind of an absurd concept. Can you imagine having a spoon that disappeared after you swallowed the soup off it, or a language that you forgot how to speak at the end of every conversation?

That's because you're using absurd imagery to visualize it. It's not a spoon, or a language; it's a zip gun, and when you fire it, you have to spend 25 minutes cleaning it before you can use it again, because the shell gummed up the works, so you build more then one. That's how vancian casting works, one-time-use devices, traps, and toys, that are useless until you spend time to fix them for next time.

Sergeantbrother
2012-05-19, 10:34 PM
So sort of like this (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/spellPoints.htm#spellPointVariantVitalizing) but not quite the same?

Oh yeah, like that.

KnightDisciple
2012-05-20, 12:21 AM
That's because you're using absurd imagery to visualize it. It's not a spoon, or a language; it's a zip gun, and when you fire it, you have to spend 25 minutes cleaning it before you can use it again, because the shell gummed up the works, so you build more then one. That's how vancian casting works, one-time-use devices, traps, and toys, that are useless until you spend time to fix them for next time.
Yeah, but thematically that's kind of problematic for some of us. We don't want what amounts to a pseudo-gadgeteer (to steal a term from Mutants and Masterminds), we want a mage. I mean, I think in some ways your analogy does make a lot of sense, as it relates to Gygaxian-Vancian casting. It's just...for me, at least, it doesn't "pop". It doesn't "zing". Whatever the word is, the point is it doesn't do it for me (and apparently at least a fair minority of other people).

Din Riddek
2012-05-21, 03:40 PM
I don't mind it so much. It would be cool is different spellcasters had more varied flavors of spellcasting, but I like the "spells per day" system and how it works: resource management is an important decision players face, especially with their uses per day abilities. It means players need to play responsibly to be effective. I see that as a good concept and not a bad one.

I also like that wizards prepare ahead of time. If they didn't, then the sorcerer would be even more overshadowed. Maybe you could design a variant where the wizard gets to pick X spells per spell slot per day, and he can use those spells interchangeably, but it would probably have to be a really limited number to prevent the aforementioned problem with the sorcerer.

Some people have suggested that vancian casting is "out of flavor", but I just think there hasn't been enough creative thinking if you can't think of a way to justify it. These have been mentioned in the thread: the wizard casts the spell in the morning, and expends the magic later, spells are too complicated to fully remember since the wizard has so many to memorize (after all, spells take up a whole page per caster level. How many people can memorize 7 pages of words verbatim?), or it could be the mental strain of casting the magic actually does make the wizard forget after he casts it. Its magic, it can have almost any justification.

Zeful
2012-05-21, 05:12 PM
Yeah, but thematically that's kind of problematic for some of us. We don't want what amounts to a pseudo-gadgeteer (to steal a term from Mutants and Masterminds), we want a mage. I mean, I think in some ways your analogy does make a lot of sense, as it relates to Gygaxian-Vancian casting. It's just...for me, at least, it doesn't "pop". It doesn't "zing". Whatever the word is, the point is it doesn't do it for me (and apparently at least a fair minority of other people).

And that's fine, those are good reasons to not like it, but building false analogies and misrepresenting the system? Those aren't. I personally like it because it's legitimately arcane, and doesn't make immediate intuitive sense, which makes it feel more magical as a system.

jaybird
2012-05-21, 05:34 PM
One thing you could do is assign each spell level a particular value, and give casters a set number of "level points" to assign to each level of spell. Prepared casters would have to decide how many spells of each level they could cast at the beginning of the day, while spontaneous casters cash in their points as they go.

JoshuaZ
2012-05-21, 07:05 PM
3.5 does contain a number of options of which Vancian is only one.

These are

Vancian (Prepared)
Spontaneous
SLAs
Retrieved (Spirit Shamen)
Psionics
Invoking
Incarnum
Binding
Truenaming


I just wanted to make a list of the alternatives available.

Have I missed any ?

Shadowcasting, which is a weird variant of spontaneous casting (since you have a max number of times you can use any mystery).

Incantations are sort of sketched out in one of the splat books, but I don't think they've ever been really expanded enough to be a real system.

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-21, 07:11 PM
Shadowcasting, which is a weird variant of spontaneous casting (since you have a max number of times you can use any mystery).

Incantations are sort of sketched out in one of the splat books, but I don't think they've ever been really expanded enough to be a real system.

He also missed two skill-based systems:

- the Force powers of Star Wars Revised d20, which had each force power being a skill that you put ranks into, then expended Vitality Poitns (HP) on in order to make checks with, but which in all other ways were basically skills;

- the Build-a-Spell system of The Slayers d20 and Monte Cook's World of Darkness d20, where you decide what you want a spell to do, build it by applying all sorts of different DC modifiers to it, and then make a Spellcraft check to see if you succeed in casting it.

JoshuaZ
2012-05-21, 07:46 PM
He also missed two skill-based systems:

- the Force powers of Star Wars Revised d20, which had each force power being a skill that you put ranks into, then expended Vitality Poitns (HP) on in order to make checks with, but which in all other ways were basically skills;

- the Build-a-Spell system of The Slayers d20 and Monte Cook's World of Darkness d20, where you decide what you want a spell to do, build it by applying all sorts of different DC modifiers to it, and then make a Spellcraft check to see if you succeed in casting it.

I presumed that he was only counting 3.5 D&D WotC stuff. Otherwise there are a lot of other systems.

Gemini Lupus
2012-05-21, 08:12 PM
He also missed two skill-based systems:

- the Force powers of Star Wars Revised d20, which had each force power being a skill that you put ranks into, then expended Vitality Poitns (HP) on in order to make checks with, but which in all other ways were basically skills;

- the Build-a-Spell system of The Slayers d20 and Monte Cook's World of Darkness d20, where you decide what you want a spell to do, build it by applying all sorts of different DC modifiers to it, and then make a Spellcraft check to see if you succeed in casting it.

I use a skill based spell casting system from Sword and Sorcery Studio's Advanced Player's Guide. I have prepared casters prepare one spell per spell slot, to function as a working spells known list, which they can cast from at the designated DC's. They can also cast a spell that they don't have prepared, at a higher DC. I think it's +4, but I'd have to ask one of my players. And if they fail the check, they take non-lethal damage equal to the spell's level + 3.

It may not be perfect, but they seem to like it well enough.

VeliciaL
2012-05-21, 09:59 PM
I use a skill based spell casting system from Sword and Sorcery Studio's Advanced Player's Guide. I have prepared casters prepare one spell per spell slot, to function as a working spells known list, which they can cast from at the designated DC's. They can also cast a spell that they don't have prepared, at a higher DC. I think it's +4, but I'd have to ask one of my players. And if they fail the check, they take non-lethal damage equal to the spell's level + 3.

It may not be perfect, but they seem to like it well enough.

I like that! I'm going to have to remember that!

Also, I'm glad I kept following this thread. It's made me appreciate Vancian casting a bit more than I did. I still think spellcasting in 3-3.5 is clumsily handled in a way that makes certain spellcasting classes godly overpowered, but the problem is larger than Vancian casting.

Gemini Lupus
2012-05-21, 10:19 PM
I like that! I'm going to have to remember that!

Also, I'm glad I kept following this thread. It's made me appreciate Vancian casting a bit more than I did. I still think spellcasting in 3-3.5 is clumsily handled in a way that makes certain spellcasting classes godly overpowered, but the problem is larger than Vancian casting.

If you like, I can PM you details of the system when I get back to my books.

Reluctance
2012-05-21, 10:36 PM
My biggest beef is that for most of the game's run, Vancian was all there was. I don't mind it as an option, but it poorly models most magic systems in a game designed to cover most fantasy bases. You have a hodgepodge of monsters, a hodgepodge of spell effects, and one method of casting.

Psi always felt more "magical" to me, with a mana system and (semi) forced theming. Late 3.5 experiments in magic systems intrigued me, and I hope that 5e keeps vancian as an option without making it the primary one.

(One side-effect of D&D's take on Vancian also needs to die a painful death. Generalist casters who can handle any effect are gamebreaking. It should either be outright impossible, or extremely costly. Forced specialization is a good thing.)

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-21, 10:40 PM
My biggest beef is that for most of the game's run, Vancian was all there was. I don't mind it as an option, but it poorly models most magic systems in a game designed to cover most fantasy bases. You have a hodgepodge of monsters, a hodgepodge of spell effects, and one method of casting.

Psionics have been in AD&D since...AD&D, actually. I mean, I don't know how late into the run of AD&D psionics were first introduced, but I do know that psionics have been around since 1st Edition AD&D.

Eldan
2012-05-21, 11:09 PM
(One side-effect of D&D's take on Vancian also needs to die a painful death. Generalist casters who can handle any effect are gamebreaking. It should either be outright impossible, or extremely costly. Forced specialization is a good thing.)

That's not necessary for D&D-Vancian, really. You could easily make caster classes with themed spell lists like that of the Beguiler, Dread Necromancer or Warmage, but still have them be prepared casters.

VeliciaL
2012-05-21, 11:33 PM
If you like, I can PM you details of the system when I get back to my books.

I'd like that. Dunno if I'd ever get involved in a game with them, but I have a thing for collecting cool-sounding house rules.

Scots Dragon
2012-05-22, 02:34 AM
Psionics have been in AD&D since...AD&D, actually. I mean, I don't know how late into the run of AD&D psionics were first introduced, but I do know that psionics have been around since 1st Edition AD&D.

The appendix to the Player's Handbook. They sucked, but they were there, and they were available to all classes as something anyone with the right talents could manage to achieve. The problem is that those very rare people wound up breaking the game by being almost unbeatable given that almost nothing had defences against psionics.

nedz
2012-05-22, 06:22 AM
Shadowcasting, which is a weird variant of spontaneous casting (since you have a max number of times you can use any mystery).
Thanks

Incantations are sort of sketched out in one of the splat books, but I don't think they've ever been really expanded enough to be a real system.
Any idea which book ?

He also missed two skill-based systems:

- the Force powers of Star Wars Revised d20, which had each force power being a skill that you put ranks into, then expended Vitality Poitns (HP) on in order to make checks with, but which in all other ways were basically skills;

- the Build-a-Spell system of The Slayers d20 and Monte Cook's World of Darkness d20, where you decide what you want a spell to do, build it by applying all sorts of different DC modifiers to it, and then make a Spellcraft check to see if you succeed in casting it.
My list was 3.5, partly because that seemed to be a major thrust of this thread, but mainly because the list would be very large indeed.

The appendix to the Player's Handbook. They sucked, but they were there, and they were available to all classes as something anyone with the right talents could manage to achieve. The problem is that those very rare people wound up breaking the game by being almost unbeatable given that almost nothing had defences against psionics.
Until the party met some psionic monster in which case the psionic PCs would be in trouble, but everyone else would be oblivious.:smallamused:
I didn't find this system to be broken, more of a distraction really.

Gemini Lupus
2012-05-22, 08:49 AM
Any idea which book ?


They were in Unearthed Arcana, in the chapter on Magic variants, I believe.

Yora
2012-05-22, 09:01 AM
And therefor in the SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/incantations.htm).

Tyndmyr
2012-05-22, 09:13 AM
Shadowcasting, which is a weird variant of spontaneous casting (since you have a max number of times you can use any mystery).

Incantations are sort of sketched out in one of the splat books, but I don't think they've ever been really expanded enough to be a real system.

Also recharge magic and spell points, both variant systems also in the SRD and found in UA.

JoshuaZ
2012-05-22, 09:23 AM
Also recharge magic and spell points, both variant systems also in the SRD and found in UA.

Oh yeah, also good points. So, are we missing any now?

Stubbazubba
2012-05-22, 11:21 AM
(One side-effect of D&D's take on Vancian also needs to die a painful death. Generalist casters who can handle any effect are gamebreaking. It should either be outright impossible, or extremely costly. Forced specialization is a good thing.)

Agreed, though I'm not sure if it's a side-effect of the magic system so much as it's just poor class design. The non-magical classes were broken out into different specializations (Rogue, Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, also Paladin and Ranger to some extent), while the magic classes were given some different mechanics to still do everything (Wizard, Sorceror, Cleric, Druid, also Bard to some extent). As has been mentioned, Dread Necromancer was a great step in the right direction. Wizards need to be broken up and remade into Blasters, Summoners, Seers, etc., with short, themed spell lists. This'll make it more player-friendly and more balanced, though you'd still want to go through and prune some of the more outrageous spell effects, or at least lower save DCs to give all level-appropriate monsters and NPCs a good chance to avoid them. Do that, and then expand non-magical classes' out-of-combat utility abilities, and you'd be very close to a much better game without neutering all of your non-combat subsystems, like 4e did.

dsmiles
2012-05-22, 11:29 AM
MonkLOL. Not to change the topic, but Monks are just as broken as Wizards, just in the other direction. Specialists at everything, and good at nothing. :smallwink:

Mark Hall
2012-05-22, 11:52 AM
One thing you could do is assign each spell level a particular value, and give casters a set number of "level points" to assign to each level of spell. Prepared casters would have to decide how many spells of each level they could cast at the beginning of the day, while spontaneous casters cash in their points as they go.

Back to Hackmaster, where there's about 3 different spellcasting "systems".

Clerics are pretty pure Vancian. They get 1 spell per spell level, plus a few bonus spells (note that every level has a spell level, so you get 2nd level spells at 2nd level).

Rogues have what amounts to per-day spell-like abilities. They know a few spells, that they can cast once per day.

Mages (along with Fighter/mages and mage/thieves) use spell points. They can memorize one spell/level (again, with every level having its own spells), which they cast at-cost. If they want to cast a spell they have not memorized, but that they know, they may do so at double cost. Spells also have a point schedule, allowing you to spend extra points to improve spells (more damage, more range, etc). Mages get a flat 1-spell-level-per-level, while F/M and M/T are a bit slowed.

Tyndmyr
2012-05-22, 12:23 PM
Oh yeah, also good points. So, are we missing any now?

Unless we count epic magic and circle casting as different types, no.

So, with them...that's what, fifteen types?

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-22, 12:51 PM
Unless we count epic magic and circle casting as different types, no.

So, with them...that's what, fifteen types?

More or less, each with their own advantages and disadvantages, and most only less powerful than Vancian casting due to not having as much support, or else having been built by people aware of the power of Vancian and so deliberately powering down their given system.

Remember that Vancian casting is only overpowered due to individual spell effects, and has nothing to do with the system's chassis in general...

Kerrin
2012-05-22, 01:11 PM
As has been mentioned, Dread Necromancer was a great step in the right direction. Wizards need to be broken up and remade into Blasters, Summoners, Seers, etc., with short, themed spell lists. This'll make it more player-friendly and more balanced, though you'd still want to go through and prune some of the more outrageous spell effects, or at least lower save DCs to give all level-appropriate monsters and NPCs a good chance to avoid them. Do that, and then expand non-magical classes' out-of-combat utility abilities, and you'd be very close to a much better game without neutering all of your non-combat subsystems, like 4e did.
I would really like this.

I would also entirely possible to have multiple systems for the application of magic/spells as outlined several posts ago ... vancian, mana, etc. Whether you'd want to tie them to a specific magic-user speciality or just let the player pick which magic sub-system they want ... either way would work.

Scots Dragon
2012-05-22, 01:44 PM
I actually really wouldn't like the splitting up into Dread Necromancer/Beguiler/Warmage/etc. idea because one of the things I liked about the wizard was that it could learn a vast number of different spells that did a vast number of different things. But could only cast a few of them at any one time.

Simply put, if you want to balance out the wizard, take a look at 1st and 2nd edition magic-user/mage; spells take longer to cast, they have occasional drawbacks, and the mages themselves are basically made of teflon.

DrewID
2012-05-22, 03:53 PM
Psionics have been in AD&D since...AD&D, actually. I mean, I don't know how late into the run of AD&D psionics were first introduced, but I do know that psionics have been around since 1st Edition AD&D.

Psionics appeared in the Eldritch Wizardry supplement for OD&D in 1976, which predates both AD&D and Basic. They appeared in the first printing of the AD&D Player's Handbook in Appendix I in 1978.

DrewID

nedz
2012-05-22, 04:31 PM
3.5 Magic systems


Vancian (Prepared)
Spontaneous
Shadowcasting
Fixed Lists (Warmage,Beguiler, etc.)
SLAs
Retrieved (Spirit Shamen)
Psionics
Invoking
Incarnum
Binding
Truenaming
Incantations
Recharge magic
Spell points
Epic spellcasting



They were in Unearthed Arcana, in the chapter on Magic variants, I believe.


And therefor in the SRD (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/variant/magic/incantations.htm).
Thanks, I knew I'd seen them somewhere

Also recharge magic and spell points, both variant systems also in the SRD and found in UA.

Thanks

Updated the list.
I have 14 now, any more ?
Ed: Epic ! 15 now

Yora
2012-05-22, 04:58 PM
I'd also include Martial Maneuvers from Tome of Battle. I think one or two of the schools are explicitly supernatural abilities, which makes the effects magical by definition.

Rogue Shadows
2012-05-22, 05:01 PM
I'd also include Martial Maneuvers from Tome of Battle. I think one or two of the schools are explicitly supernatural abilities, which makes the effects magical by definition.

I agree.

But then I know the potential storm that that could brew and I find it funny. I'm a bad person like that.

Gadora
2012-05-22, 06:04 PM
3.5 Magic systems


Vancian (Prepared)
Spontaneous
Shadowcasting
Fixed Lists (Warmage,Beguiler, etc.)
SLAs
Retrieved (Spirit Shamen)
Psionics
Invoking
Incarnum
Binding
Truenaming
Incantations
Recharge magic
Spell points
Epic spellcasting





Thanks, I knew I'd seen them somewhere


Thanks

Updated the list.
I have 14 now, any more ?
Ed: Epic ! 15 now

Well, if Dragon Compendium counts, there's also the Sha'ir with its odd casting mechanism. It's a semi-prepared caster, but they have to prepare each slot individually, and they can only hold onto the spells for one hour per level before they have to retrieve them once more. They've also got a list of known spells that they can retrieve in a matter of rounds, so mid-combat spell prep is possible to some extant. (There's a bit more to it than that, but I don't want to bog down the summary.)

Tyndmyr
2012-05-23, 06:54 AM
It's a fuzzy line...if we consider that distinct, then there's variants like Domain wizard...domains certainly have some special rules. Likewise, there are ways for prepared casters to get partially spont casting(motao, spont div spring to mind).

I'll grant that circle magic is in a similar place...what counts as 'new system' vs 'mod to existing system' is really, really hard to define.

I do agree that we need to add maneuvers regardless.

dobu
2012-05-23, 07:00 AM
Agreed, though I'm not sure if it's a side-effect of the magic system so much as it's just poor class design. The non-magical classes were broken out into different specializations (Rogue, Barbarian, Fighter, Monk, also Paladin and Ranger to some extent), while the magic classes were given some different mechanics to still do everything (Wizard, Sorceror, Cleric, Druid, also Bard to some extent). As has been mentioned, Dread Necromancer was a great step in the right direction. Wizards need to be broken up and remade into Blasters, Summoners, Seers, etc., with short, themed spell lists. This'll make it more player-friendly and more balanced, though you'd still want to go through and prune some of the more outrageous spell effects, or at least lower save DCs to give all level-appropriate monsters and NPCs a good chance to avoid them. Do that, and then expand non-magical classes' out-of-combat utility abilities, and you'd be very close to a much better game without neutering all of your non-combat subsystems, like 4e did.

I do not agree with this. It feels awkward to say to an archmage "No you aren't able to learn this spell. ever."

Personally, I love vancian casting.

Stubbazubba
2012-05-23, 12:11 PM
It also feels awkward to say to a master of war, "No, you just can't grasp the concept of a Sneak Attack." Why do casters always get a free pass with this, while it 'makes sense' to put the blinders on mundanes? If the archmage truly wants to be a master of everything, he'll have to multiclass, just like anyone else. That's what multiclassing is for, after all. If there's one class that is literally a master of everything, why do you have any other class? That's a sign that that class needs to be broken up, to give that character a little more definition, and in turn allow them to gel with the rest of the party better. Everyone wins.

moritheil
2012-05-23, 12:15 PM
That doesn't make sense to me. A 'merlin' type character can easily be created with the other magic systems, both the 'modified-vancian' system used by sorc's, the entirely un-vancian system of Warlocks, or the power points of 3e psionics, or the 4e system. Why does it matter if a specific character type can't be created in one system?


I dislike it because, in all fantasy, the only magic users of any shape or form to use Vancian spellcasting are... hold on, not even Jack Vance's writing uses Vancian casting in the way D&D uses it.

Merlin in the Zelazny books (Princes of Amber etc.) uses Vancian casting - not that there are "spell levels" but that he has to "prepare" spells and leave out certain words in certain places, and then triggers the spells by saying the words. And there's a limit to how much he can prepare without having it decay or interact badly with other spells.

moritheil
2012-05-23, 12:19 PM
It also feels awkward to say to a master of war, "No, you just can't grasp the concept of a Sneak Attack." Why do casters always get a free pass with this, while it 'makes sense' to put the blinders on mundanes? If the archmage truly wants to be a master of everything, he'll have to multiclass, just like anyone else. That's what multiclassing is for, after all. If there's one class that is literally a master of everything, why do you have any other class? That's a sign that that class needs to be broken up, to give that character a little more definition, and in turn allow them to gel with the rest of the party better. Everyone wins.

If you're talking about how fighters have to specialize into one narrow feat tree to become good in combat (being great trippers, for instance) I think it's generally supposed that that is an example of bad design. Rather than make all the other classes like the fighter, it might be better to work out a way the fighter can be more versatile and thus less boring to play.

Bo9S was an attempt at that, though people shrunk away from its "blade magic" motif. But it should be possible to combine things like features of Samurai, Swashbuckler, and Fighter all in one class.

Straybow
2012-05-23, 12:36 PM
It also feels awkward to say to a master of war, "No, you just can't grasp the concept of a Sneak Attack." Why do casters always get a free pass with this, while it 'makes sense' to put the blinders on mundanes? If the archmage truly wants to be a master of everything, he'll have to multiclass, just like anyone else. That's what multiclassing is for, after all. If there's one class that is literally a master of everything, why do you have any other class? That's a sign that that class needs to be broken up, to give that character a little more definition, and in turn allow them to gel with the rest of the party better. Everyone wins.


If you're talking about how fighters have to specialize into one narrow feat tree to become good in combat (being great trippers, for instance) I think it's generally supposed that that is an example of bad design. Rather than make all the other classes like the fighter, it might be better to work out a way the fighter can be more versatile and thus less boring to play.

Bo9S was an attempt at that, though people shrunk away from its "blade magic" motif. But it should be possible to combine things like features of Samurai, Swashbuckler, and Fighter all in one class.

D20 took the fighter's strengths, weakened them, and then made them available to everybody else in further weakened form and gave fighters nothing in return. Rangers and rogues are the main damage dealers... that tells you how much fighters have been weakened in comparison.

Tyndmyr
2012-05-23, 01:20 PM
D20 took the fighter's strengths, weakened them, and then made them available to everybody else in further weakened form and gave fighters nothing in return. Rangers and rogues are the main damage dealers... that tells you how much fighters have been weakened in comparison.

They're not. Rogues fail against things immune to sneak attack, and Rangers are not particularly powerful either.

Barbs are where the melee damage is at. Specifically Lion Totem Barbs. Uberchargers(many of which incorporate a couple levels of fighter) remain the biggest damage dealers. That's not why fighter is weak.

Stubbazubba
2012-05-23, 02:22 PM
If you're talking about how fighters have to specialize into one narrow feat tree to become good in combat (being great trippers, for instance) I think it's generally supposed that that is an example of bad design. Rather than make all the other classes like the fighter, it might be better to work out a way the fighter can be more versatile and thus less boring to play.

I'm not referring to Fighters specifically, and I agree that fighters need to be more versatile somehow. But that quote was specifically in response to someone saying that an archmage should be just that; master of all, or at least a great majority of, magical effects. I'm saying that's bad class design, because a class that can do anything without exclusion does not make an interesting contribution to a party. If the Fighter had universal competence like the Wizard, it would be more balanced, but it wouldn't be any better class design. I think Fighters definitely need more options, and Wizards need less.

Playing a Wizard in 3.5 is not a meaningful choice because you haven't chosen any role over any other role; you're good at everything! For choices to be meaningful, there needs to be some exclusion; you can be a generalist, but there has to be an opportunity cost to that choice, and a bigger one than just a single school being barred.

Right now there are two systemic issues with classes in 3.5: 1) They're unbalanced; it's Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit here, and 2) A real lack of role protection in some classes; Wizards do a better job at combat, dungeon exploration, and social encounters, than do fighters, rogues, or bards, and can switch out the role they specialize in every day. What gives?

Many people focus on 1, but I think by focusing on 2 you could largely solve 1 without even trying.


Bo9S was an attempt at that, though people shrunk away from its "blade magic" motif. But it should be possible to combine things like features of Samurai, Swashbuckler, and Fighter all in one class.

To a degree, sure, although Fighter is such a lame theme for a class next to Samurai or Swashbuckler. Bo9S was a step in the right direction. I think Feats or branching Class Feats (ala Ranger's Combat Style choice at 2nd level) could allow for this without needing to make every Fighter an equally capable Samurai and Swashbuckler simultaneously. I want my Swashbuckler to be unique; if Jack Sparrow and Samurai Jack are just a difference of fluff, I think something's gone wrong.

hamlet
2012-05-23, 02:25 PM
They're not. Rogues fail against things immune to sneak attack, and Rangers are not particularly powerful either.

Barbs are where the melee damage is at. Specifically Lion Totem Barbs. Uberchargers(many of which incorporate a couple levels of fighter) remain the biggest damage dealers. That's not why fighter is weak.

See, that's kind of the thing, though. The fighters reason for existance is fighting. It's soldiering. It's going up to the monster and hitting it with a freakin' stick and doing it better than anybody else.

Except in 3.x, fighters well and truly stink. (yes, it's exaggerrated to what extent, but there's a strong kernel of truth to it) That's just bad design IMO.

Personally, I kind of liked the original idea that I saw lurking behind D20 D&D classes. It seemed to me that they took the concept of the AD&D broad archetypes in which you could imagine anything, and then wrote out mechanics to fit within those archetypes. I think they were going for "if you want a samurai, then pick a fighter and apply feats that seem appropriate" thing.

It's just that that's not the way it worked out for a number of obvious reasons. Too many "base classes", fighters were nerfed to nigh insignificance, and feat chains got too intensive and restrictive at times so that you hobbled yourself in most areas while going for competence in another.

I think that it would be a great thing if 5e tried for this model and did what they could to actually address the issues. Keep the base classes limited to Fighter, Magic User, Cleric/Priest, Thief/Rogue and then create options within it to realize what you really want. If you want a Ranger/Woodscrafty warrior, it gives you base instructions on how to turn the archetype of "Fighter" into that. Same for Paladin, Samurai, and all the rest.

Make feats a little more open and get rid of the sense that "if you don't have the feat you can't do it" that crops up. Maybe feats aren't a key to making it happen, but are a boost that makes you significantly more competent at it instead. Anybody could conceivably do it, but you are a shining example of it when you pay for the feat.

I think that would work out. Start work in broad archetypes, and then provide mechanisms and advice on how to narrow them down to what you want.

Tyndmyr
2012-05-23, 02:29 PM
See, that's kind of the thing, though. The fighters reason for existance is fighting. It's soldiering. It's going up to the monster and hitting it with a freakin' stick and doing it better than anybody else.

Except in 3.x, fighters well and truly stink. (yes, it's exaggerrated to what extent, but there's a strong kernel of truth to it) That's just bad design IMO.

Oh, the fighter can in fact rush up to a monster and smack it with a stick. It can even be quite effective at doing that. This is not the problem with fighter.

The problem with fighter is when the problem to a solution is anything BUT running up and smacking it with a stick. That's when they come up short.

Straybow
2012-05-23, 03:20 PM
They're not. Rogues fail against things immune to sneak attack, and Rangers are not particularly powerful either.

Barbs are where the melee damage is at. Specifically Lion Totem Barbs. Uberchargers(many of which incorporate a couple levels of fighter) remain the biggest damage dealers. That's not why fighter is weak. Details, schmetails, fighters somehow aren't the damage-dealers. That ain't right.

Scots Dragon
2012-05-23, 03:28 PM
Right now there are two systemic issues with classes in 3.5: 1) They're unbalanced; it's Angel Summoner and BMX Bandit here, and 2) A real lack of role protection in some classes; Wizards do a better job at combat, dungeon exploration, and social encounters, than do fighters, rogues, or bards, and can switch out the role they specialize in every day. What gives?

Many people focus on 1, but I think by focusing on 2 you could largely solve 1 without even trying.

Here's the thing; many of us who are opposed to nerfing the wizard and removing the sheer number of spells available to it are well aware that 3.5e kind of messed up in the area of balance. You see, originally, the magic-user (or mage, as I still frequently wind up calling it) was basically a class made of teflon. It had many of the abilities of its later self, especially in the area of spells, but it was less unbalanced.

And this can mostly be traced back to one basic fact;

In older versions of the game, it was in fact a well-known case that fighters didn't suck. They were frontline warriors who could single-handedly slay most sorts of dragons given a couple of decent rolls. They had many of the best saves, the best attack bonus, access to grand mastery, more attacks than was reasonably sensible, and could more or less shrug off most magic directed at it.

In 3rd edition, the fighter got nerfed badly. Their multiple attacks no longer worked nearly as well, they didn't gain followers anymore, they lost pretty much all of their out-of-combat proficiencies, and the feats which were meant to simulate these facts for the fighter pretty much sucked.


Coupled with the various extra new things that wizards got in 3rd edition; more spells per day, metamagic feats, far more broken options in terms of what spells could do, and an incredible degree of item creation ability... and you have wizards gaining most of the utility that the fighters lost.

This is why many people favour fighters being significantly improved rather than wizards being nerfed.

hamlet
2012-05-23, 03:32 PM
Oh, the fighter can in fact rush up to a monster and smack it with a stick. It can even be quite effective at doing that. This is not the problem with fighter.

The problem with fighter is when the problem to a solution is anything BUT running up and smacking it with a stick. That's when they come up short.

What Narsil said.

Plus, I'm talking more about the fact that, in the end, Fighters are simply a bad choice of class in even a mildly optimized game. Clerics or Wizards or really Druids can do it better. "It" is, essentially, just about anything in the game. That's simply bad design.

Sergeantbrother
2012-05-23, 04:41 PM
I would like to see spell casters broken up into various specialties instead of a master of all magic. Something along the lines of Battle Mages, Dread Necromancers, Beguilers, etc. I find those classes not only more balanced than a wizard, but more interesting as well. The way I might do it is to have specialized casters be able to go up to 9th level spells, while the less specialized wizard could go maybe up to 6th or 7th, but could learn any kind of spell - I wouldn't even mind giving them access to spells from the cleric list like healing, since they are supposed to be the masters of diverse casting, but they never get the really powerful spells.

Regarding the issue about the fighter and specialization, if I were going to completely over hall D&D (5th edition for example) I would reduce the number of classes but make those classes more flexible. You could have the warrior class, give them enough feats and skill points that they could effectively make the class into a ranger, a barbarian, a knight, a swashbuckler, etc. For a paladin, they may want to take a level or two in cleric. A warrior who just specializes in heavy melee combat would be the fighter.

With this set of changes each base class (which there would only be 3-5 of) would get fewer base abilities but feats would be more powerful. Instead of giving a +1 bonus to hit with some weapon, a feat could give a large class feature to a character like a barbarian rage or the ability to cast from a new school of magic. In those way, fighters could be highly customizable to the point that you need no other combat classes. Also,mthese feats could be used to expand the schools that a wizard can cast from or the maximum level of spells they can cast from certain schools - allowing you to build a specialist who can cast any spell in the game as long as its 6th level or lower or a specialist who can cast the powerful spells from a certain school.

Using this system, you could even eliminate the distinction between divine and arcane casting. Just use your feats to select certain class features or spells schools and build your caster that way. I think something along the lines of flaws could go along with this, drawbacks that give you more feats to spend. For example, a divine caster could take a flaw that requires him to obey certain religious of moral tenants to get magical abilities, then use the extra feat from that to get the ability to turn undead.

Wardog
2012-05-23, 04:48 PM
I haven't read all the thread, so some all of this may have been said already, but:

My introduction to Vancian casting (and DnD in general) was Baldur's Gate (which was based on AD&D 2nd edition).

At the time, I didn't like the system.

Partly because it didn't really fit my idea - based on assorted myth, folklore and fiction - of what a wizard should be capable of. It seemed too restrictive, and made a wizard seem more like someone who was simply bringing a magical gun with magical ammo to a fight, rather than actually doing magic themselves.

It also seemed very arbitrary, and didn't seem to make much sense either. (The fluff was that the wizard was memorising multiple copies of a spell and forgetting them when cast, not the more modern explanation that the spell was almost-cast at the begining of the day, and held in reserve to be triggered when needed).

Finally, in 2nd Edition AD&D (or at least BG's interpretation of it), a low-level wizard was very limited in casting power: at first level you only got 1 spell per day (wizards didn't get bonus slots for having high int, unlike priests who got bonus slots from high wish).

(A slightly different problem occured towards the end of BG2, when you ended up with loads of low-level slots that weren't much use for anything, except for Magic Missile and Identify. Although that's probably more a problem with game design for not providing uses for low-level spells at high levels, rather than a problem with the system itself).


However, having said all that, I've rather come to appreciate Vancian casting. It's quite straight-forward way of bookeeping (provided you don't have too many spells, slots, or levels).

I've also come to appreciate it more from a fluff perspective, as a way of the wizard (an intelligent, scholarly character - essentialy an scientist or engineer studying alternative-reality physics/chemistry) mixing up potions or powders, or preparing certain combinations of magical objects, so that they can be used later to perform magic. (I'm not quite so keen of the "cast the spell then trigger it later" explanation).

My only real criticism is that this explanation would probably make more sense for some spells than others. If I was creating a game system, I think I would have different spells work in different ways. So a wizard could have certain spells that would be prepared in advance, Vancian style, some minor cantrips that could be used indefinitely at will, some that would require some sort of resource (mana, hp, pixie-dust, etc), some that could be used as many times as you wanted, but required a skill-check or saving throw to prevent a dangerous backfire, etc).

Scots Dragon
2012-05-23, 04:52 PM
<Words>

In other words: Star Wars Saga Edition repainted to be a fantasy game? There is actually a fan made system that does that.

I personally think that while Saga Edition had a lot of great ideas for making characters work, I don't think shifting everything over to work like Saga Edition actually does the job properly. It still, at the end of the day, has to be recognisable as Dungeons & Dragons, and getting rid of the iconic way in which the magic-user works is, to summarise my opinion on it... not the way by which you achieve this.


And I'll tell you what bugs me about this whole thing. The whole idea that to balance the wizard you have to split it into a bunch of specialist classes, when specialist wizards are more broken than non-specialists given that certain schools are in fact quite clearly more powerful than others. Hell, this is seen with the dread necromancer, beguiler and warmage themselves; of the three, one of them is a clearly inferior class based upon the schools which it draws from.

SiuiS
2012-05-23, 06:43 PM
I give the same reason I always give in these threads.

Virtually all magic systems follow a concept that we can see all throughout nature and know from everyday life. If you have the equipment and the raw material, then you can repeat the process for as long as the raw material does not run out. So if you have the ability to cast a spell and you also have magical power, you can cast any spell you know until you run out of power or you lose the ability to cast spells.

Vancian casting is different. Once a spell is used, you can not cast it again even though you still have the ability to cast spells and you still have magic power. This is unique and does not have any equivalent in nature.

The only exception would be if you consider the preparing of spells to be the creation of spells, and the casting of spells the using of a magic item that exist in your brain.
I think Vance actually had this in mind. An odd idea, but it's his novels and he can make magic in his world work as he wants to. It's still unique and completely different to every single system of magic I ever heard of.
However, D&D does never say that magic is supposed to work that way, and it never gives any reason why all fantasy campaigns should use a system of magic unique to a single world, regardless of what world the game takes place in.

Why have a game that is adaptable to almost any world and have it use a magic system that is unique to a single world, that most people never have even heard off?

Interesting. First, thank you, Yora. You've just helped me nudge the pieces of something together in my head. I've a necromancer who is angling for Incarnate, and couldn't articulate this cucial junction.

It is my understanding that D&D was never a generic fantasy simulator. It can be appraoched in different ways, but the core of it has always been very specifically, a combat simulator with a veneer for flavor. It is akin to Renaissance Faire reenactment groups who do sword fighting; they aren't thre for the history, they are there for the sword fighting. The historical reenactment is a setting that allows them to play with swords.

Further, vancian casting (is vancian a proper noun? I think it is sufficiently divorced from Vance enough that it doesn't need capitalization) has gotten less and less by way of explanation in recent iterations. Initiallly, when spellcasting was touched on at all, spells were pre-planned discrete programs, because everything else was too risky. From AD&D on (I can't recall if basic even had spell research?), a wizard could use a rote, commonly known spell such as magic missile, or he could do the work to vreate his own spell... and blow himself up. Or he could combine two spells, and probably blow himself up. Or he could try to increase a current spell's dice range or power or range, or any other single, small variable.... and blow himself up. The implied setting had two sets of magic - the known, easy and obvious magic using pre-existing blueprints, or the unknown which had a high mortality rate.

Spell preparation was an in-character nod to recipes being infinitely better than winging it, becxause changing the amount of any particular spice in your meatloaf could very well destroy your entire house.


I think you should read more fantasy books, then. This is far from universal in fantasy settings.


And again, it makes sense if you assume the preparation session in the morning to be the time when the spell is actually cast. Which, I must admit, is never really said in the fluff. But it should be, because it's by far one of the most interesting ways to implement magic I've ever seen in any RPG.

As has been said, this is how Merlin (and presumably, every Chaosite) uses their magic. I fluffed this into a kit for casters in 2e once, but the DM was an arse and it didn't go anywhere.

Was it vancian though? Merlin was able to create any spell effect he wanted. Part of the vancian system is the discrete spell packet. Amber (or a least, Logrus magic - The Pattern and the Broken Pattern could operate entirely differently) magic works like a combination of preparation, and the 3.0 epic magic system. If you have the energy for it, you can put together anything.

The Logrus would naturally be more chaotic though, so maybe all Chaosites are sorcerers? hmmm...


I know its out there in the books. And apparently also RPGs based on those books (I should have a look at that. Amber RPG sounds like an awesome idea).

But I don't think it's in any actual D&D books.

Amber is a diceless RPG which I hear has some darn sound mechanics. A pity I could never find it...
but this is the internet! I'll have a look-see after this.



Granted It's very hard to find a magic system that's not either overpowered, or no fun at all.

That is sort of the point of magic though. A magic system, by definition, skews the energy expended to effects achieved over time equation; You get insane amounts of output upfront, and the luxury of surviving long enough to recoup the lost energies later. D&D 3.0 removed the time component, and any anime or work of fiction in general won't really make mention of this at all. In fiction, the plot and narrative make demands, and those demands shape how magic is handled. In a game, or in reality, however, things can and do go awry. When the game us supposed to function as a reality, even moreso.

Magic isn't supposed to be balanced in any sense. It takes decades to get anywhere, aand suddenly you're violating thermodynamics. From a game point of view this is boring, because the player doesn't put in any effort; he just says his wizard studied for fifty years and is a prodigy. Magic in a gam, and game balance, is an entirely separate issue from vancian casting.


The central property of vancian casting is the player has to choose what spells to prepare before they know what spells they're actually going to need. This sounds like an interesting property, but it just doesn't seem to work out. The problems are:

1. The decision is not double-blind: The player doesn't know what the DM is planning, but the DM knows what spells the player is preparing. Kinda ruins the whole point of making the player have to guess what spells they're going to need today.

2. It front-loads all the interesting decision making to a single point, when the spells are prepared. Ideally, a system should have interesting decisions at every moment, not just at the start of each day.

3. It also puts way too much effort at a single point. Especially for new players, you either rush and not think through your spell selection all too clearly, or hold up the game for an hour. What you often see happen instead is each player will have a single spell loadout of generic, always-useful spells that they'll use every day, only ever changing it when they get new spells. Which, again, sorta goes against the whole point of vancian casting in the first place.[QUOTE]

Hm.

Number 2, is not exactly true. there are two very very big parts of vancian casting that a lot of people don't get. One; you need eight hours rest before preparing, but not IMMEDIATELY before, so you can sleep, stay awake for a week, and prepare those spells any time during that week, even in fits and spurts. Two, spells prepared never go away. If you prepare, and and don't expend, you can keep them all. If you use half your spells, the remaining half are still there.

It is entirely possible for a vancian caster to have his standard 2 attack, 2 defense, and one bug-out spell ALL THE TIME, and only prepare other things when the need arises. It's then a matter of "hey guys, while I'm preparing knock, do you thinnk I should grab another couple attacks?" or "Gee, this darkness will help with the guards but maybe I should grab color spray just in case?". It's a half hour of game time, and two minutes in play. It also easily leads to group decisisons; We can press on now, by having theif open the door, and save wizard's power for later, but maybe we could all use a minute's rest, and need thief later so don't want to risk setting off traps?

Number 3, well. Fighter could specialize in tripping, grappling, reach weapons, AoOs, target prioritization and enemy harassment, or he can grab a sword and shield and go to town. Plater sloth is not a syste,m deficiency. New wizard isn't that hard; pick the spells that sound neat, and work on making them work. Done. If it's not optimised, then have fun with your bumbling!

[QUOTE=eepop;13240253]
Preparing spells means that there will likely be a time during gaming sessions where a the caster has to stop the game to figure out what spells he wants to prepare. The best gaming sessions in my experience have a sense of momentum, and even small breaks like this can slow momentum.
Yes, preparation can be done in a speedy timeframe by some players, but it is far from universal. I was able to keep play moving as a caster in 3.5 by having different spell lists pre-prepared that I would select between. Even then, that makes you lose a lot of the charm of vancian casting.

This sounds like a player problem, unless I am misreading you. If your quest is on the clock, and the wizard says he needs an eight hour breather, the characters are dumb for letting him take one, and sitting with him. Having slow characters or wounded characters fall behind is a standard for tense narrative. Ignoring how people react in order to get better number crunching is a problem separate from vancian casting.


Casting no other spells can likewise cause disruption to the flow of the game. Say the players reach an obstacle, think over how to get around it, and their best option by far is to wait to reprepare spells and use X spell as a solution. This whole thing triggers the caster players to reprepare possibly all their spells, leading to another momentum breaker.

So, the DM put a bad challenge in their way you said. But you see, there is the rub...the DM has to prepare for the caster possibly having access to a wide variety of spells. Either he never prepares situations that they need spells to solve (which doesn't feel like fantasy) or he has to run the risk that they won't have that spell.

This isn't a vancian problem though. I've seen spellpoint systems and free-form systems where this comes up. There will occasionall be places where unprepared characters or players just can't progress, like if they don't find some way to fight heat going into a volcano. And if thy have to stop, don't, as the DM, just sit back and wait. While the wizard prepares, play up the stress, the drama of their goal getting farther and farther away. If he has an open slot it only takes fifteen minutes. There should be almost no sitiuation where the best solution is to load up on a full armamemt unprepared, walk into a fight, see you didnt bring enough armor piercing rounds, and decide to come back in ten hours with an entirely different armamentum. That is just silly.


As for removing the spell after casting, this can lead to two detrimental scenarios. In the first, the player holds onto their spells compulsive out of the fear that they will need them more later, sometimes even when the DM specifically put in the current challenge as the only time they will need that spell. In the other scenario, the player freely uses these resources when they are not strictly needed, setting them up for failure later.

failure is as much a part of a good narrative as success. Unless it's a TPK :smalltongue:

None of those ruin the system for me, but they are issues that require some finesse to deal with, and I can understand them turning other people off.


Isn't preparation par for the course for casters in general, not just D&D? I've never played Mage, but from what I've heard, Mages are the most powerful supernatural when given time to prepare, and the least powerful supernatural when ambushed in their skivvies.


Huh. I never got that vibe from Amber. I really don't feel like it's based on Vancian magic.




I should, perhaps, mention why I like Vancian. There are two reasons, both fluff related, but one a bit more mechanical.


The first is the sheer badass factor of it. The wizard doesn't just concentrate and magic happens. Oh no. He rips a piece of magic out of the fundamental fabric of the world and cages it in his head, like a chained attack dog that he can unleash when he feels like it. He stares down the laws of physics, dares them to act up against his will and then enslaves them.

The second is the preparation aspect. Its a system that tries to make the player and the character think. Prepare ahead of time. The wizard has (or should have) a limited selection of spells, all of which help in (or should help in) specific situations. He has to think ahead and judge which ones he will need that day. It puts that superhuman intelligence to a use.

Now, the first part is not very well represented in the game, I admit, and the second is shut down hard by universally useful spells and some divination methods. But even the bits that are there make the wizard more interesting than most other magic systems.

A good point. A lot of wizards play like people running around with bombs, and less like intelligent, egomaniacal men who take a broad view of the universe.

I need a wizard like this.

-

Blah, lost some quotes.
Vancian magic is a system of having a list of discrete spell effects, preparing a smaler list from the bigger one, and using those on a strictly one-for-one basis. Preparation with infinite permutations (that is, without discrete spells) isn't vancian. Yes?

Stubbazubba
2012-05-23, 07:46 PM
Here's the thing; many of us who are opposed to nerfing the wizard and removing the sheer number of spells available to it are well aware that 3.5e kind of messed up in the area of balance. You see, originally, the magic-user (or mage, as I still frequently wind up calling it) was basically a class made of teflon. It had many of the abilities of its later self, especially in the area of spells, but it was less unbalanced.

And this can mostly be traced back to one basic fact;

In older versions of the game, it was in fact a well-known case that fighters didn't suck. They were frontline warriors who could single-handedly slay most sorts of dragons given a couple of decent rolls. They had many of the best saves, the best attack bonus, access to grand mastery, more attacks than was reasonably sensible, and could more or less shrug off most magic directed at it.

In 3rd edition, the fighter got nerfed badly. Their multiple attacks no longer worked nearly as well, they didn't gain followers anymore, they lost pretty much all of their out-of-combat proficiencies, and the feats which were meant to simulate these facts for the fighter pretty much sucked.


Coupled with the various extra new things that wizards got in 3rd edition; more spells per day, metamagic feats, far more broken options in terms of what spells could do, and an incredible degree of item creation ability... and you have wizards gaining most of the utility that the fighters lost.

This is why many people favour fighters being significantly improved rather than wizards being nerfed.

I think you really missed the point of what I was saying, then. While yes, fighters need to be significantly improved, choosing Wizard as your class as-is is not a meaningful game choice; you haven't defined your character's competencies whatsoever, only the mechanics they use to achieve everything. If the Wizard remains as-is, then regardless of whether or not the Fighter is brought up or even surpasses it in terms of both in-combat and out-of-combat utility, it will still be a meaningless decision to be a Wizard. Balancing the classes does not solve this problem. Giving the Fighter all the same Nice Things as the Wizard means you now have no classes, just your choice of mechanics. You need to prune the list of the Wizard's nice things, and give the Fighter some, and then you have a real choice before you. Your choice of class will determine in-game stuff, instead of just which mechanic you prefer.

Scots Dragon
2012-05-23, 09:38 PM
When I choose to play a wizard, I've chosen to play someone who spends time learning a whole sodding lot of different spells, spending years of their life studying from tomes and scrolls in libraries. I have not chosen to play a beguiler or a warmage or a dread necromancer. I have not chosen to play a warlock. I have not chosen to play a sorcerer. All of those have limitations much like the ones that you propose for a wizard, but the fundamental, important difference is as such;

They are not wizards. They are not the studious masters of magic, they are people who wield magic inherently, or have it regimented into them, or they have it from making deals with things from beyond time and space.

The simple fact of the matter is that while it might not seem like a meaningful game choice to you, it is almost certainly a meaningful theme choice. To remove the mechanics of the wizard knowing many spells from many areas across many concepts (though they can only prepare a few at once) would mean that said mechanics do not match the fluff. And as has been mentioned, quite a lot of people tend to take umbrage at such an idea.

Now, do I think the wizard needs to be toned down a bit? Maybe, but I do not think it should involve splitting the wizard into multiple limited-concept classes because that is not what the wizard is.


The simple idea that everything should be decided based on maintaining the separation of the 'in-game roles' seems like a very foolish concept to me. It leads to the sorts of ideas presented in 4th edition (which I despise), and forces the party into pre-determined concepts simply because a vital role might be missed out otherwise.

Which is why I prefer the idea of boosting up the fighter's effectiveness and versatility. Have them able to serve as controllers, leaders, strikers or defenders as they wish, much like the wizard or cleric are able to. Certainly some classes are better at certain roles than others, but it allows for your choice to be based on what sort of theme and mechanics you want to have for your character, not what role you need to fulfil.

Zeful
2012-05-23, 10:37 PM
And as has been mentioned, quite a lot of people tend to take umbrage at such an idea.

Which is why there's not point bothering fixing the system, any reduction of their capacity at all will prompt numerous ignorant responses of "why don't you just remove them if your going to nerf them so much".

Scots Dragon
2012-05-24, 04:02 AM
Which is why there's not point bothering fixing the system, any reduction of their capacity at all will prompt numerous ignorant responses of "why don't you just remove them if your going to nerf them so much".

What I'm rallying against, as much as anything else, is the splitting off of the wizard into multiple different classes who must be specialised,. The simple fact of the matter is that the sort of idea presented there is getting rid of the wizard, since it erodes the point of the class to a degree that it really isn't the wizard anymore. And we've already seen this in action with 4th edition.

What should happen is that fighters should be upgraded to work as a viable choice in any party that isn't Tier 4-5. The simple fact of the matter is that wizards and clerics and druids, while they are indeed overpowered, are not overpowered to the same extent that the barbarian, fighter, ranger, paladin, and rogue are in fact under-powered.

Tyndmyr
2012-05-24, 02:01 PM
Details, schmetails, fighters somehow aren't the damage-dealers. That ain't right.

The fighter/barb classes ARE the damage dealers in 3.5. That's not a mere detail, it's the primary thrust of your argument.

I am not defending their lack of utility, but even in epic against some of the more terrible things around(consider the elder evils, for instance), the most effective thing the wizard typically does is "make sure the ubercharger gets his charge", which then splatters the big gribbly thing everywhere in a single round.


What Narsil said.

Plus, I'm talking more about the fact that, in the end, Fighters are simply a bad choice of class in even a mildly optimized game. Clerics or Wizards or really Druids can do it better. "It" is, essentially, just about anything in the game. That's simply bad design.

Not really. Neither cleric nor wizard makes a good ubercharger chassis. Yes, with significant optimization, you can certainly make any of these chars effective in melee. I've done it. But if you're after a really, really effective melee monster, you don't start with them. You generally start with a level of lion totem barb, two levels of fighter for feats to cover prereqs, two levels of other full BaB(sometimes also barb or fighter), and the rest is all feats and PrCs.

The problem isn't so much in combat even as it is out of combat. The same wizard build that contributes well in combat can still solve out of combat things with spells. The ubercharger builds do jack all to make you useful out of combat.

Ya'll are significantly overstating the scope of the problem.

Additionally, vancian is a touch unrelated to fighters vs wizards. The healer uses the same mechanics as the core casters, and it's a vastly lower tier. Vancian can be powerful or...not. It's not the cause of the power imbalance.

Grac
2012-05-24, 03:34 PM
3.5 Magic systems


Vancian (Prepared)
Spontaneous
Shadowcasting
Fixed Lists (Warmage,Beguiler, etc.)
SLAs
Retrieved (Spirit Shamen)
Psionics
Invoking
Incarnum
Binding
Truenaming
Incantations
Recharge magic
Spell points
Epic spellcasting


Epic spell casting is still Vatican. You have to prepare the spell, and once it is cast, it is gone. Same with the fixed spell lists of the cleric, warm age, beguiler.



What I'm rallying against, as much as anything else, is the splitting off of the wizard into multiple different classes who must be specialised,. The simple fact of the matter is that the sort of idea presented there is getting rid of the wizard, since it erodes the point of the class to a degree that it really isn't the wizard anymore. And we've already seen this in action with 4th edition.

What should happen is that fighters should be upgraded to work as a viable choice in any party that isn't Tier 4-5. The simple fact of the matter is that wizards and clerics and druids, while they are indeed overpowered, are not overpowered to the same extent that the barbarian, fighter, ranger, paladin, and rogue are in fact under-powered.
Well, yes. People who want the wizard to be specialized by force are essentially saying get rid of it. 'Wizard' is unfortunately not an archetype. It is synonymous with 'magic user' and... There are lots of different types of magic users in fiction. The beguiler, dred necro, and so on, serve as a point of inspiration for the creation of new classes to fill those archetypal niches.

Scots Dragon
2012-05-24, 03:56 PM
Well, yes. People who want the wizard to be specialized by force are essentially saying get rid of it. 'Wizard' is unfortunately not an archetype. It is synonymous with 'magic user' and... There are lots of different types of magic users in fiction. The beguiler, dred necro, and so on, serve as a point of inspiration for the creation of new classes to fill those archetypal niches.

The magic-user/mage/wizard as presented in the Player's Handbook, however, is fulfilling an existing archetype. That archetype is that of the studious librarian and occultist who dedicates his or her life to learning and mastering the art of magic in many different areas. The term wizard is not simply synonymous with 'magic-user', it also refers to a wise and learned person; the wizard is someone who is therefore wise and learned. While the wizard isn't exactly built around its wisdom score, possibly a flaw to be had, it represents its status as a learned figure by learning spells. Therefore an accomplished wizard would know a lot of spells. In a lot of areas.

And something you forget is that Dungeons & Dragons is not a generic fantasy simulator. It is for the most part centred around a series of existing settings, existing stories, and existing events. The iconic wizards that D&D ought to be justifying and simulating are Mordenkainen, the Simbul, Elminster Aumar, Raistlin Majere, Borys of Ebe, Sadira and Khelben Blackstaff.

Stop trying to impose Merlin, Gandalf, Sparrowhawk and Harry Potter, however good they might be, upon settings which they are not a part of.

Dsurion
2012-05-24, 05:04 PM
Epic spell casting is still Vatican. You have to prepare the spell, and once it is cast, it is gone. Same with the fixed spell lists of the cleric, warm age, beguiler.I beg to differ, though you may have to take that up with the Pope.

Sergeantbrother
2012-05-24, 05:35 PM
I beg to differ, though you may have to take that up with the Pope.

Yeah, I was about to say, only for clerics.

Scots Dragon
2012-05-24, 05:43 PM
So, notable spells would thus include Benedict's Greater Sacrament and the rather powerful Inquisition of the Serpent*.


*Always incurs surprise. Always.

Stubbazubba
2012-05-24, 06:10 PM
The magic-user/mage/wizard as presented in the Player's Handbook, however, is fulfilling an existing archetype. That archetype is that of the studious librarian and occultist who dedicates his or her life to learning and mastering the art of magic in many different areas. The term wizard is not simply synonymous with 'magic-user', it also refers to a wise and learned person; the wizard is someone who is therefore wise and learned. While the wizard isn't exactly built around its wisdom score, possibly a flaw to be had, it represents its status as a learned figure by learning spells. Therefore an accomplished wizard would know a lot of spells. In a lot of areas.

Check it out. That archetype is still perfectly whole if the wizard is specialized into a more narrow focus. There is no extremely versatile connotation inherent to the term wizard.


And something you forget is that Dungeons & Dragons is not a generic fantasy simulator. It is for the most part centred around a series of existing settings, existing stories, and existing events. The iconic wizards that D&D ought to be justifying and simulating are Mordenkainen, the Simbul, Elminster Aumar, Raistlin Majere, Borys of Ebe, Sadira and Khelben Blackstaff.

Stop trying to impose Merlin, Gandalf, Sparrowhawk and Harry Potter, however good they might be, upon settings which they are not a part of.

None of those are simulated by D&D, they were offspring of D&D mechanics, at least, the ones I'm familiar with. By this logic, expendable Fighters are exactly what D&D should strive to emulate because that's what it already produces. Do you see how antithetical that is to making a better game for everyone? I don't care how well you present your defense of what is poor class design; they don't make for a good game choice. Fluff themes can be protected in their entirety without the need to make Wizards the go-to choice for all encounters in the game.

Go ahead and challenge me on that; show me how a Wizard is a meaningful game choice while also being the master of all trades. Show me how, when making a party, choosing Wizard over a theoretically-equal-with-wizard Fighter is actually a choice that impacts play.


*********

Part of the problem is that D&D runs as a combat simulator fairly well, but its other subsystems are very, very poorly built for a party-based game. Social encounters and Stealth are just not built for parties to do; they're built for individuals. Could you change that? The combat engine, whether stated or not, has certain roles and functions that contribute to victory, which must be filled by different characters. Could you make Stealth, Diplomacy, and Exploration like that? It would be an interesting challenge.

Sergeantbrother
2012-05-24, 06:33 PM
Check it out. That archetype is still perfectly whole if the wizard is specialized into a more narrow focus. There is no extremely versatile connotation inherent to the term wizard.

I like the idea of a versatile wizard, but I think that it should give up the raw power that specialists have in order to be generally skilled in all types of magic. Like what the bard theoretically does by mixing combat, magic, and skills - but being worse at each than various other caster types. The generalist wizard could be good at casting a variety of spells, but not the most powerful or useful ones which are reserved for the specialists.

In this regard you have more substantive differences between, for example, a fighter and wizard. While the fighter may be good at both dishing out and absorbing damage, the generalist wizard will be worse in terms of damage output or durability but better at general utility. Then you might have, for example, the Battle Mage who specializes in pure damage output or what have you.

Stubbazubba
2012-05-24, 06:43 PM
Sure, I'm not saying that generalists are bad, but that being a generalist needs to have an opportunity cost. Whether it's that you have to multi-class to get access to all those varied abilities or each school has to be learned separately or something, it gives players the option of playing a jack-of-all trades, master of none, or a specialized master. Which is a meaningful choice to make, as it will differ based on your character concept and/or what the party needs, depending on how your group prefers to play. There are teeth to that choice, if you will.

Scots Dragon
2012-05-24, 06:50 PM
Check it out. That archetype is still perfectly whole if the wizard is specialized into a more narrow focus. There is no extremely versatile connotation inherent to the term wizard.

There is an extremely versatile connotation inherent to the term wizard as Dungeons & Dragons uses and defines it. And has used 'magic user', 'mage' and other such for the past, oh, thirty-eight years.


None of those are simulated by D&D, they were offspring of D&D mechanics, at least, the ones I'm familiar with. By this logic, expendable Fighters are exactly what D&D should strive to emulate because that's what it already produces. Do you see how antithetical that is to making a better game for everyone? I don't care how well you present your defense of what is poor class design; they don't make for a good game choice. Fluff themes can be protected in their entirety without the need to make Wizards the go-to choice for all encounters in the game.

Go ahead and challenge me on that; show me how a Wizard is a meaningful game choice while also being the master of all trades. Show me how, when making a party, choosing Wizard over a theoretically-equal-with-wizard Fighter is actually a choice that impacts play.

The problem here is that you assume that because I like the versatile wizard that I must in fact be supporting Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition. Well, the truth is, I'm not defending 3rd edition's take on the wizard. I haven't really defended that edition of the game for a while now, though I will frequently champion it as being better than 4th edition.

You see, what I'm supporting are the 1st and 2nd editions. None of your arguments above really apply to those; magic-users are a meaningful choice because while they can cast spells that do anything in hypothetical terms, they have a very long list of various vulnerabilities. Spells take longer to cast, for instance, require a longer time to prepare, and in many cases can take a toll upon the caster. The fighters in this case weren't exactly equal to the magic-user, but neither were they inferior. Trying to determine equals between the two is comparing apples and oranges; neither of them is fulfilling the same concept or the same role.

But the two were meaningful choices because they radically altered one's playing style. A magic-user needed to be played with careful planning and meticulous forethought, while a fighter was the choice for taking threats head on and dealing with them as a warrior ought to. And, very importantly, they were good at it.

AD&D was the game where the right sort of fighter could, with the right sword and enough strength, kill most dragons in one round.


If anything, the fighter was overpowered.

Sergeantbrother
2012-05-24, 06:55 PM
I agree. I'm not even supporting this for the goal of balance, primarily, but of having interesting choices and differing roles or play styles. I think that a specialist vs jack of all trades is an interesting choice, one that could even allow for multiple spell casters in one party that felt substantially different based in their abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. It also gives more breathing room for non-casters.