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  1. - Top - End - #151
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by olskool View Post
    I have enjoyed reading all of the responses but I will address the question in the title. You don't need to increase their power IF you add a different "restriction" to magic users. You can reduce the power of magic by using an existing 5e Game Mechanic, the Skill Check to do it. Whether you keep the Vancian limits or drop them entirely, the Skill Check will add a degree of uncertainty to spell casting. I use the following formulas for Casting;

    For casting a spell under average adventuring conditions:

    The DC is 10 + The Spell's Level (+1 thru +9, 0 for cantrips). The Caster gets to add his Proficiency Bonus and his INT Bonus to his Skill roll.

    So a 1st level mage with a +6 total proficiency and attribute bonus would succeed in casting a 1st level spell on a roll of 5 or more (a 75% chance of success). A 20th level mage with a +10 bonus would only fail on a roll of 1. That same 20th level mage would cast a 9th level spell on a roll of 9 or more (a 55% chance of success). This system will help limit the power of magic by making casting it less certain than the RAW rules.

    The DC can be varied by conditions too. A mage casting a spell in the quiet confines of his library might have a DC of 5. That same mage casting a spell while under missile attack or on a wobbly rope bridge could have a DC of 15. Being engaged in HTH would impose a DC of 20 AND DISADVANTAGE on the roll. This system basically falls in line with the fighter's "To Hit" rolls and makes magic more uncertain during an adventure.
    Eh, D&D magic essentially needs a full rewrite, and skill-based magic isn't the worst way to do it (subdivide the skills enough and you wouldn't even need the resource management aspect). I actually really like skill based magic, and it's in every fantasy game I own bar one (maybe two? I can't remember if you get to add a skill in Keltia*). It could also be rewritten to be time-based, be resource-based (a favourite of mine, I have a d6 Fantasy setting I want to run where every spell requires material components), be inherently luck based (*cough*Warhammer*cough*), be inherently risky (Warhammer, again), be intrinsically tied to alignment, be inherently specialised, or a mixture of two or more of thread.

    I've got ideas, I've got a lot of ideas as how to balance a magic system, and very few use limited energy despite it brumby something I quite like. I very rarely use miscast or wild magic though, for the same reason I rarely use fumbles (I don't wish to discourage acting). But it's very difficult to balance a system by taking a list of spells, sorting them into large categories, and applying blanket rulings. Not impossible, but you're better off building from the ground up.

    * Actually it's a really good idea there, you cast by spending the metagame currency to build your dice pool, I'm considering using the basic system in my home brew.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
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  2. - Top - End - #152
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    Eh, D&D magic essentially needs a full rewrite, and skill-based magic isn't the worst way to do it (subdivide the skills enough and you wouldn't even need the resource management aspect). I actually really like skill based magic, and it's in every fantasy game I own bar one (maybe two? I can't remember if you get to add a skill in Keltia*).
    Conversely, I think skill-based is probably one of the worst ways to go if you were to rewrite D&D magic, partly because it is in practically every fantasy game out there--say what you will about Vancian magic balance-wise, but it's certainly distinct flavor-wise and mechanically and rarely found outside D&D and its direct derivatives--but partly because D&D scales much more drastically than almost every other game out there, even other zero-to-hero ones, and skill-based stuff doesn't really scale that well unless you sharply restrict the math to the point that it's not really skill-based anymore.


    Vancian magic doesn't "need" a rewrite at all. In and of itself, the base system is perfectly functional, well-balanced given its design goals, and can be fairly flexible within its constraints (prepared vs. spontaneous vs. a mix, class-specific spell lists vs. shared lists vs. tier lists, and so on). The problem is, and has always been, that individual spells can end up stronger or weaker than whatever balance point du jour you're aiming for, and that individual classes can have lists that are too broad or too narrow. That's why all the "replace Wizards with Beguiler-like classes" fixes work out well, why late Pathfinder settled on the 2/3 caster model, and so forth.

    But it's very difficult to balance a system by taking a list of spells, sorting them into large categories, and applying blanket rulings. Not impossible, but you're better off building from the ground up.
    Again, that's not really necessary. The vast majority of spells are basically fine--maybe a little strong or a little weak, maybe a little niche, maybe a little clunky, but there's a reason that when Pathfinder (or Arcana Evolved, or dozens of other 3e-based products) mucked around with the spell lists, most of the spells ended up unchanged except perhaps for trivial changes made so the developers could justify their paycheck. Most forumites here can rattle off the broken spells pretty easily, polymorph and gate and so on--and that's just the thing, there are just a fairly small set of broken spells (and, granted, a somewhat larger set that some think are totally fine and some thing are game-breakers too) but people take a look at a couple dozen spells out of the literal 3,000+ spells AD&D and 3e had and conclude that the whole system is broken, when you only really have to address the major outliers.

    Which isn't to say that you couldn't or shouldn't go back to the drawing board, spell-wise--I've done plenty of tweaking in that area myself--just that it's not necessary to touch huge swaths of the spell list to improve balance, and it's not necessary to throw out Vancian to do that either.
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  3. - Top - End - #153
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    @Dice. I love your post !

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    I would point out that D&D stopped using Vancian magic after 3x. At least as I understand how Vancian magic is supposed to work.

    1e to 3x = want the same spell more than once per day? Memorize it for each time you want it. Plus components (for each casting) on hand required. (I still have nightmares about literal handwritten books of component "accounting" type tracking. Material type, number (and cost) of "uses", and exact location)

    Both 4e and 5e don't require relearning the same spell for each use, but do put an effective over-all Daily Limit.


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    I agree that rewriting the entire magic system isn't needed. All that is needed is for the DM to decide on which spells are even allowed in the game.

    I've made comments on how I've tried to better balance D&D's Magic vs Martial.
    (Which seems ignored)

    Some of my ideas for Expanded Martial Abilities were accepted, along with a few from other members.

    I don't really have any more ideas to offer.

    But, I did like your post and wanted to let you know.

    Thanks for reading.
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  4. - Top - End - #154
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Conversely, I think skill-based is probably one of the worst ways to go if you were to rewrite D&D magic, partly because it is in practically every fantasy game out there--say what you will about Vancian magic balance-wise, but it's certainly distinct flavor-wise and mechanically and rarely found outside D&D and its direct derivatives--but partly because D&D scales much more drastically than almost every other game out there, even other zero-to-hero ones, and skill-based stuff doesn't really scale that well unless you sharply restrict the math to the point that it's not really skill-based anymore.
    Sorry, I was a bit unclear, I like skil-based magic. I also have about nine systems that do skill based magic everywhere from competently to amazingly. I don't need D&D to do skill based magic (in fact, I don't need D&D at all).

    If D&D's magic went right in on the components and used them as the main limiting factor I'd be thrilled, but no system seems to be willing to deal with material components and D&D5e just went with 'if you have a magic wand you can ignore them'. Where are my mystic reagants!?

    Vancian magic doesn't "need" a rewrite at all. In and of itself, the base system is perfectly functional, well-balanced given its design goals, and can be fairly flexible within its constraints (prepared vs. spontaneous vs. a mix, class-specific spell lists vs. shared lists vs. tier lists, and so on). The problem is, and has always been, that individual spells can end up stronger or weaker than whatever balance point du jour you're aiming for, and that individual classes can have lists that are too broad or too narrow. That's why all the "replace Wizards with Beguiler-like classes" fixes work out well, why late Pathfinder settled on the 2/3 caster model, and so forth.
    D&D's version of vancian magic breaks my verisimilitue over it's knee and leaves me crying. Especially 5e, which should have just used a spell point system. But there's some core assumptions which mean that if you change the way spellcasting works (e.g. moving from Vancian Magic to a skill-based system) you need to rewrite it all from the ground up.

    A lot of this lack of clarity stems from me losing a long post and having to write a shorter post on my phone. It was supposed to be 'if you're messing with the magic system at all...'

    Again, that's not really necessary. The vast majority of spells are basically fine--maybe a little strong or a little weak, maybe a little niche, maybe a little clunky, but there's a reason that when Pathfinder (or Arcana Evolved, or dozens of other 3e-based products) mucked around with the spell lists, most of the spells ended up unchanged except perhaps for trivial changes made so the developers could justify their paycheck. Most forumites here can rattle off the broken spells pretty easily, polymorph and gate and so on--and that's just the thing, there are just a fairly small set of broken spells (and, granted, a somewhat larger set that some think are totally fine and some thing are game-breakers too) but people take a look at a couple dozen spells out of the literal 3,000+ spells AD&D and 3e had and conclude that the whole system is broken, when you only really have to address the major outliers.

    Which isn't to say that you couldn't or shouldn't go back to the drawing board, spell-wise--I've done plenty of tweaking in that area myself--just that it's not necessary to touch huge swaths of the spell list to improve balance, and it's not necessary to throw out Vancian to do that either.
    Eh, if you're throwing the spell slots out of the window you would do a lot better to subdivide more. Go in and give more powerful spells high DCs, or more difficult to aquire components, or restrictions on use.

    Also bare in mind that PAthfinder 1e was close to 3.5 because people wanted to stick with something close to 3.5, I believe that 2e has changed a lot of stuff, and wouldn't be shicked if they went back to the drawing board for how spellcasting works, which affected which spells were broken. I partocularly think the removal of hard limits would change the balance of spells to make the more spam-friendly mid level spells overpowered, although yes the required changes probably wouldn't exceed a quarter of the spell list once you remove the 'this spell needs to be a point higher/lower than normal for it's level'.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zelphas View Post
    So here I am, trapped in my laboratory, trying to create a Mechabeast that's powerful enough to take down the howling horde outside my door, but also won't join them once it realizes what I've done...twentieth time's the charm, right?
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    How about a Jovian Uplift stuck in a Case morph? it makes so little sense.

  5. - Top - End - #155
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Great Dragon View Post
    I would point out that D&D stopped using Vancian magic after 3x. At least as I understand how Vancian magic is supposed to work.

    1e to 3x = want the same spell more than once per day? Memorize it for each time you want it. Plus components (for each casting) on hand required. (I still have nightmares about literal handwritten books of component "accounting" type tracking. Material type, number (and cost) of "uses", and exact location)

    Both 4e and 5e don't require relearning the same spell for each use, but do put an effective over-all Daily Limit.
    Quote Originally Posted by Anonymouswizard View Post
    D&D's version of vancian magic breaks my verisimilitue over it's knee and leaves me crying. Especially 5e, which should have just used a spell point system. But there's some core assumptions which mean that if you change the way spellcasting works (e.g. moving from Vancian Magic to a skill-based system) you need to rewrite it all from the ground up.
    Yeah, part of the problem is definitely that 4e unceremoniously ditched Vancian magic and then 5e added back the superficial trappings in a zombified form while not actually doing anything close to Vancian. But that's a whole 'nother rant of mine, for another time.

    Flavor-wise, Vancian is actually pretty great for versimilitude, at least in terms of having some amounts of fluff in common with real-world magical traditions, where spell points/skills/etc. are all based on New Age-y magical ideas from the 50s at the earliest. As I posted before in a previous thread on a similar topic:

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Regarding how well Vancian represents magic, as one or two people mentioned upthread spell preparation involves performing a little ritual for every spell you want to cast and then storing it away for later, which has quite a bit more historical influence than most systems. In Goetic magic, you pull out your musty old tome, inscribe a mystical diagram on the floor, wave your arms in mystic gestures, chant for an hour and ten minutes, call out "Demon, come forth!" and poof, a minor demon from the Lesser Key of Solomon appears in your magic circle.

    In D&D magic, you pull out your spellbook, inscribe a mystical diagram on the floor, wave your arms in mystic gestures, chant for an hour--then magically lock the current state of the ritual away in your mind instead of finishing it immediately. When you want to complete it, most likely after buffing yourself, double-checking the dimensional anchor, etc., you wave your arms in mystic gestures, chant for ten minutes, call out "Demon, come forth!" and poof, a CR 6 or lower demon from the Monster Manual appears in your magic circle.

    Not only is the general flavor pretty much the same, going from "perform a big fancy ritual" to "perform most of a big fancy ritual and save the last bit to be triggered later" is probably the best extrapolation of traditional European hermetic magic, Mesoamerican sacrificial magic, or the like to get you combat-time spells; the concept of nebulous "magical energy" that a person just has and uses to "do stuff with magic" is a very modern one, comparatively, and doing things like negotiating during combat with previously-bound spirits to help you would be too slow.

    Regarding how D&D magic works, it does essentially work on a True Names/Language of Magic concept, though it isn't explicitly called out as such aside from truenaming. The vast majority of spells have verbal components, spoken in a tongue belonging to ancient and powerful magical beings, and there's an entire class for people who can talk and sing so well that magic happens (and the bard was was, incidentally, the first example of a prestige or advanced class back in 1e, basically being better magic-users than the Magic-User). You need to know creatures' names to call them specifically with planar binding and similar spells, and most magic items have magic words that make them function. Power Word spells pack the most amount of power into the smallest space (in AD&D, they were very powerful spells given the lower overall monster HP and had ridiculously fast casting times, and even in 3e they're no-save spells with proportionally powerful effects) and are explicitly words with inherent magical power. Other examples of words-as-magic abound: glyphs, sigils, runes, symbols, etc., and of course wizards and archivists write down magic spells in their spellbooks and prayerbooks--magic spells made of words which themselves are magical and can't be understood by the uninitiated; scrolls, likewise, are literally written-down magic.

    If you were to put an explicit statement in the Magic chapter that "D&D magic works by knowing and using the language of magic," you'd have to change absolutely none of the fluff and it would work just fine. And incidentally, while magic doesn't work via spirits, there are plenty of classes in 3e with a "get magic from powerful spirit creatures" theme, including the spirit shaman and wu jen with their minor-class-feature-but-basically-just-flavor companion spirits, the sha'ir who works magic entirely through its companion spirit, the warlock who gains power from a pact with an otherworldly being, the binder who channels spirits through his body, the hexblade that has a companion spirit that's basically a curse made manifest, and every single arcane class with a familiar.
    Part of the problem is that D&D is the "default RPG," so everyone assumes that you're not picking it up from scratch but rather coming from a prior edition and generally having a more experienced player give you all the lore background on magic and the planes and such, and so the developers don't spend much page space on expounding on default setting assumptions (assuming they have that background themselves, which isn't a good bet with the current crop of developers). Some people are lore-obsessed and spend far too much free time going through obscure 1e and Planescape books (*cough* ), but most don't go through more than the "What's the high-level overview on magic?" section of the PHB so things don't always make fluff sense.

    If 5e was going to stick with Vancian, they should have put in a lot more than "Magic something something spell slots something something Weave" (and they couldn't even get that right, since the Weave is FR-only ) so that groups picking the game up for the first time would have a good idea of how things are actually supposed to work. When I've run 5e for new-to-D&D folks and actually given them the lore dump from AD&D and 3e, they generally went from "This is dumb and makes no sense" to "That's actually pretty cool and different."

    If D&D's magic went right in on the components and used them as the main limiting factor I'd be thrilled, but no system seems to be willing to deal with material components and D&D5e just went with 'if you have a magic wand you can ignore them'. Where are my mystic reagants!?
    That approach has probably been tainted by AD&D DMs who went overboard with tracking material components to screw over "balance" magic-users, and on top of that the newer systems seem allergic to giving PCs any substantial amounts of magical stuff (either magic items or resources that can be traded for magical stuff) and prefer to keep people on a tight gear treadmill, which is fairly incompatible with giving magic-users money to buy reagents, systems for harvesting and preparing reagents, and so forth.

    Personally, I'd love to see such a system. I'm a big fan both of mechanics that let you combinatorically assemble resources for various effects and of systems that let you harvest rare plants/monster parts/etc. and use them for crafting. But that, too, would require a ground-up build, as "Okay, fireballs cost one salamander scale, invisibility costs one pixie wing...." just wouldn't be sufficient.
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  6. - Top - End - #156
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    I'm just sitting here chuckling at the assertion that "Vancian magic" reflects or captures "ancient tradition", and other setups are all "50's new age" or something.

    Vance's Dying Earth works-- and Gygax clearly cites them as THE inspiration for the system -- are published from 1950 to 1984.

    http://www.dyingearth.com/files/GARY...CK%20VANCE.pdf
    https://theevilgm.wordpress.com/2012...vancian-magic/
    http://arcana.wikidot.com/vancian-magic
    https://nerdsonearth.com/2018/05/vancian-magic/
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2019-09-05 at 01:54 PM.
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  7. - Top - End - #157
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Preparing spells is certainly distinct, that much I'll agree with. I have a certain nostalgic fondness for it. I can also understand the argument against skill-based casting. What I remain deeply sceptical of is the viability of balancing per-day spells against abilities that don't have this restriction.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'm just sitting here chuckling at the assertion that "Vancian magic" reflects or captures "ancient tradition", and other setups are all "50's new age" or something.
    Max, in other threads you've railed volatilely about being mischaracterized and/or having been burdened with being accused of making arguments you never made. I would think you would show PairO'Dice Lost the same deference. He didn't say either of these things. He said that Vancian had some amounts of fluff in common with real-world magical traditions, and that spell points and skills (not other setups, or all other setups, or the like) were based on 1950+ new age traditions. Mind you, I'm not really convinced by the argument, either, but he, like you, deserves to be critiqued based on the position that he actually took.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty
    Preparing spells is certainly distinct, that much I'll agree with. I have a certain nostalgic fondness for it. I can also understand the argument against skill-based casting. What I remain deeply sceptical of is the viability of balancing per-day spells against abilities that don't have this restriction.
    It certainly requires most other variables to be held constant, particularly how much 'adventuring' comes up per 'per-day.' I know that this is completely anecdotal, but --back in the day, it worked. B/X, BECMI, AD&D 1e back when we were playing it, it worked. And that's because a lot of other things were held constant: the backdrop was 'a dungeon,' the per-day time frame was 'one evening's worth of gaming' (or sometimes half an evening's, if it was more than our usual 2.5 hour timeslot). We house ruled some changes (particularly if we exceeded name level, but 'you get to be a general or lord' was not considered commensurate compensation to the fighter in exchange for the magic user getting level 5+ spells), but once we did, the relative balance between MUs, clerics, elves (or fighter-mages in AD&D), and fighters was pretty good (sorry rogues and halflings).

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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    Max, in other threads you've railed volatilely about being mischaracterized and/or having been burdened with being accused of making arguments you never made. I would think you would show PairO'Dice Lost the same deference. He didn't say either of these things. He said that Vancian had some amounts of fluff in common with real-world magical traditions, and that spell points and skills (not other setups, or all other setups, or the like) were based on 1950+ new age traditions. Mind you, I'm not really convinced by the argument, either, but he, like you, deserves to be critiqued based on the position that he actually took.
    I responded as I read it, and I find it dubious at best that spell-points-and-skills magic systems were ever based on "1950s new age traditions", and ironic that this was presented as a supposed contrast to Vancian magic, when Vancian magic originates in the 1950s out of whole cloth.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I'm just sitting here chuckling at the assertion that "Vancian magic" reflects or captures "ancient tradition", and other setups are all "50's new age" or something.

    Vance's Dying Earth works-- and Gygax clearly cites them as THE inspiration for the system -- are published from 1950 to 1984.
    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I responded as I read it, and I find it dubious at best that spell-points-and-skills magic systems were ever based on "1950s new age traditions", and ironic that this was presented as a supposed contrast to Vancian magic, when Vancian magic originates in the 1950s out of whole cloth.
    I'm well aware of when Dying Earth was published and the context around it, and have actually read all of it, I'm not just going off the Appendix N notes. The point I was trying to get at in the original post, and perhaps could have expanded on here, was that when it comes to magical aesthetics there's a pretty big spectrum between magic as actually practiced (specifically in the pseudo-Medieval-to-pseudo-Renaissance period that the rest of D&D's aesthetic is largely based on) on the one end, and magic as viewed in more modern fantasy works on the other.

    Magic-as-actually-practiced was, essentially, one part mysticism and one part science. There were fancy diagrams and chanting, there were textbooks full of alchemical formulas and reagents, there were lists of demons and procedures for bargaining with them, there was a whole lot of ritual around the whole thing, and most importantly magic was a process of channeling that which was outside the magic-user (spirits or demons or angels or even gods themselves) to some useful end. To those workers of magic, magic wasn't some special separate something, it was merely another part of an integrated worldview that held everything from prayer to physics as being part of a cohesive whole; Newton famously worked on a variety of alchemical and occult studies with just as much rigor and interest as his more "real" studies on optics and gravity. And in general, if you follow a particular procedure successfully, you get a certain magical result, just like following a chemical formula or computer program (though obviously they didn't think of things in those terms at the time).

    Then you have magic-as-seen-in-popular fantasy, where magic is much more of an idiosyncratic individual thing. Magic works by willpower/emotion/etc., often with some sort of focus like a wand or gem or something, but any words/gestures/foci are largely mnemonic aids and/or emotional props like Dumbo's feather, and the more powerful magic-users can go without them entirely. Magic comes entirely from the user, either via some sort of internal reservoir of magical energy or via an innate gift or talent that lets you tap into some external energy source that only people born with wizard blood or whatever can access. Magic is generally a thing rather than a process, where there's a sharp divide between "things that have magic in them" and "things that don't have magic in them," and you can magic at things all you want in whatever way you want until your internal magical battery runs dry.

    Both approaches to magic can be used well in fiction, and many works use some blend of the two, including D&D (things like antimagic field being able to "turn off" magic in an area or spell levels being fungible for spontaneous casting is a strictly New Magic thing), or have the two kinds of systems side-by-side in-setting (LotR has Old Magic human sorcery and Maiar wizardry with chants and staffs and all next to New Magic rings of power and elven magic with feelings and willpower and all, Dresden Files wizards can do both New Magic quick'n'dirty Evocation and Old Magic incense'n'candles Thaumaturgy, and so on). Neither is inherently better than the other, it all depends on what fits your setting best.

    But the context of my original post, and Anonymouswizard's post that I responded to, was that a lot of people object to Vancian magic on the grounds that "it doesn't make sense that magic would work like that" or "it doesn't feel magical" or whatever, and everyone and their brother who homebrews up a new magic system (for D&D or any other RPG) almost exclusively takes the "mana bar + magic skill(s), done" approach. It's assumed, for some reason, that this is how magic "really works" or is "supposed to work" and Vancian's idea of performing little rituals to call on extraplanar energy is nonsensical, when in fact for hundreds if not thousands of years that's exactly how people viewed it as working--heck, the flavor of Eberron's magewrights and adepts, where a blacksmith knows one specific ritual to make his swords better and a midwife knows one specific ritual to heal a mother in labor and so on, is much closer to how people actually practiced folk magic in ye olden days, and Eberron is the least Medieval published setting out there aesthetically.

    So while I have no idea whether Vance actually researched or inspired by real-world magical traditions or whether he started with the magic-as-misunderstood-technology-and-sapient-mathematics premise and just worked backward from there (the same way 40K's techpriests and other post-apocalyptic settings turn maintenance rituals into religious rites because the characters are going through everything by rote), and I know that Gygax and Arneson retrofit Vancian flavor onto their mechanics rather than coming up with something flavor-first, the point is that if you were trying to come up with a system that looks and feels a lot like how magic did historically, it would turn out a heck of a lot closer to Vancian magic than any of the common alternatives people like to replace it with, and the idea that a magic system "making sense" or "feeling magical" has to mean just thinking really really hard to make things happen or gauging how much magical oomph to shove into a given magical effect is purely a product of fantasy literature from the last 50 years or so.

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    Preparing spells is certainly distinct, that much I'll agree with. I have a certain nostalgic fondness for it. I can also understand the argument against skill-based casting. What I remain deeply sceptical of is the viability of balancing per-day spells against abilities that don't have this restriction.
    A couple points:

    1) Balancing per-day abilities was originally viewed as a resource management problem for the magic-user: if you had 6 fights in a day and kept running out of spells in fight 4, that wasn't viewed as a failure of balance on the part of the game designer, that was viewed as the magic-user failing to use his resources well. Like Willie the Duck said, if the rest of the game supports that and a group plays the way the game assumes they will, that setup works great. I don't run my games that way anymore and I don't know of anyone who does (or at least no one who isn't still running OD&D, anyway), but there are certainly contexts in which that kind of balance is acceptable and indeed desirable.

    2) "Vancian" doesn't have to mean "per day." A setup in which it takes 1 hour to prepare a single spell and you can cast it as often as you want as long as you have the time to rest and re-prepare spells in between would still be Vancian, and would look pretty close to AD&D given that back in the day magic-users had to spend 10-15 minutes per spell level preparing each spell and high-level MUs often only prepared a fraction of their expended spells each day because it would take two or three full days to top themselves off.

    3) You can make lots of variations on standard D&D magic while still retaining the Vancian feel. Perhaps the call to the Violet Cloud spell creates a floating violet ball o' death that can be used in a variety of ways, so you can prepare it once and do different things over the course of a combat instead of having to prep a bunch of different offensive combat spells. Perhaps Phandal's mantle of stealth and other movement-enhancing utility spells last basically all day, so spell preparation is much more about choosing what one effect will be the most generally useful for the day than about figuring out how to time that 1 round/level invisibility spell the best. Perhaps merely having a spell prepared gives you minor magical perks (like miniature [Reserve] feats for every spell)...but spells really want to be cast, so whenever you use the minor effect you might accidentally cast the full spell and be done with that one for the day.

    Basically, just because the exact implementation of Vancian magic in a given edition isn't to your taste doesn't mean you have to chuck out all the flavor and mechanics wholesale, there's a ton of room for experimentation and tweaking to taste.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    It certainly requires most other variables to be held constant, particularly how much 'adventuring' comes up per 'per-day.' I know that this is completely anecdotal, but --back in the day, it worked. B/X, BECMI, AD&D 1e back when we were playing it, it worked. And that's because a lot of other things were held constant: the backdrop was 'a dungeon,' the per-day time frame was 'one evening's worth of gaming' (or sometimes half an evening's, if it was more than our usual 2.5 hour timeslot). We house ruled some changes (particularly if we exceeded name level, but 'you get to be a general or lord' was not considered commensurate compensation to the fighter in exchange for the magic user getting level 5+ spells), but once we did, the relative balance between MUs, clerics, elves (or fighter-mages in AD&D), and fighters was pretty good (sorry rogues and halflings).
    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    1) Balancing per-day abilities was originally viewed as a resource management problem for the magic-user: if you had 6 fights in a day and kept running out of spells in fight 4, that wasn't viewed as a failure of balance on the part of the game designer, that was viewed as the magic-user failing to use his resources well. Like Willie the Duck said, if the rest of the game supports that and a group plays the way the game assumes they will, that setup works great. I don't run my games that way anymore and I don't know of anyone who does (or at least no one who isn't still running OD&D, anyway), but there are certainly contexts in which that kind of balance is acceptable and indeed desirable.
    Yeah, I guess I just consider those contexts wholly unappealing.

    2) "Vancian" doesn't have to mean "per day." A setup in which it takes 1 hour to prepare a single spell and you can cast it as often as you want as long as you have the time to rest and re-prepare spells in between would still be Vancian, and would look pretty close to AD&D given that back in the day magic-users had to spend 10-15 minutes per spell level preparing each spell and high-level MUs often only prepared a fraction of their expended spells each day because it would take two or three full days to top themselves off.

    3) You can make lots of variations on standard D&D magic while still retaining the Vancian feel. Perhaps the call to the Violet Cloud spell creates a floating violet ball o' death that can be used in a variety of ways, so you can prepare it once and do different things over the course of a combat instead of having to prep a bunch of different offensive combat spells. Perhaps Phandal's mantle of stealth and other movement-enhancing utility spells last basically all day, so spell preparation is much more about choosing what one effect will be the most generally useful for the day than about figuring out how to time that 1 round/level invisibility spell the best. Perhaps merely having a spell prepared gives you minor magical perks (like miniature [Reserve] feats for every spell)...but spells really want to be cast, so whenever you use the minor effect you might accidentally cast the full spell and be done with that one for the day.

    Basically, just because the exact implementation of Vancian magic in a given edition isn't to your taste doesn't mean you have to chuck out all the flavor and mechanics wholesale, there's a ton of room for experimentation and tweaking to taste.
    Fair point on Vancian magic not requiring daily restrictions. If it could be done differently, I could see it retaining the Vancian "feel" without the balance problems that come with per-day spells.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost
    I don't run my games that way anymore and I don't know of anyone who does (or at least no one who isn't still running OD&D, anyway), but there are certainly contexts in which that kind of balance is acceptable and indeed desirable.
    Well, I kinda do. I run my 5e game with an unknown number of Encounters (1) in the Dungeon (or throughout the day) and for the most part, I just let the Caster's Player decide when to cast non-cantrip spells. Once out of Spell Slots, they need to figure out how to engage with the Challenge, and Cantrips only go so far.

    (1: I have one Player that has figured out how to be a great scout: Owl Familiar. 120 Darkvision. Even if it's killed, only costs 10 gold and a little time to replace. I'm working on some countermeasures for those foes that know about the Owl.)

    Thing is, yeah Cantrips are more potent in this Edition, but still don't hold a candle to a lot of actual spells. Although, a lot basic damage 1st level spells aren't as effective at High Level as Cantrips, without Upcasting: and I wonder how the Devs missed that.

    Also, I don't stop the Party from taking short or long rests. And I rarely have something attack them when they do. (but it can happen, especially in the Dungeon)

    However, I will figure out what the various Creatures are doing during that time, especially Smart ones. And taking into account how much "notice us" activities (especially combat) the party has been doing up to that point.

    So, in a way, I'm still using the oD&D style of play: Casters still have to carefully manage their slot resources. And the Party has to manage thier consumables (potions, scrolls, and non-recharging wands) until they can either (A) find more as Treasure or (B) return to town to try and buy more.

    I encourage my Players to think of ways to solve problems, sometimes in advance (I'm using some of Grid's Magic Items creation ideas - I'll find and add the link later)
    Last edited by Great Dragon; 2019-09-10 at 09:22 AM.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    Yeah, I guess I just consider those contexts wholly unappealing.
    Well, keep in mind that dungeon crawls aren't the only context in which that sort of setup makes sense and could be used. Any scenario in which you have a finite set of resources with which to complete a given mission--and if you run out of those, you have to improvise/adapt/scrounge/etc. with what's left--has a similar challenge-prediction-and-resource-management aspect, and plenty of other adventure formats, from Shadowrun raids to James Bond movies where Q gives him a specific handful of gadgets in the beginning and he has to make use of them for the mission at hand, could be considered to fall under that umbrella despite not resembling dungeon crawls in the slightest.

    That doesn't mean that one should then port Vancian to Shadowrun or anything like that, obviously, just that the fact OD&D used Vancian in a certain context doesn't mean that Vancian can't fit in any similar contexts.

    Fair point on Vancian magic not requiring daily restrictions. If it could be done differently, I could see it retaining the Vancian "feel" without the balance problems that come with per-day spells.
    Very true. In fact, I was kind of excited when WotC announced the at-will/encounter/daily setup for arcane casters in 4e, 'cause I figured encounter spells would basically be a bunch of "you can re-prepare these spells without resting, but have to spend X minutes/spell to do so," in the same way that ToB maneuvers talk about "refreshing between encounters" but actually involve spending 5 minutes prepping maneuvers, while daily spells would still require resting to refresh because they're more powerful and somehow lock/burn out/etc. the spell slot, with at-wills being something like [Reserve] feats and being dependent on which encounter and daily spells you have prepared.

    Which was obviously nowhere close to what we got, but I can certainly imagine an alternate universe in which 4e dropped with varying power schedules per power source from the start and Arcane was "original flavor" Vancian like that, other power sources did different things, rituals weren't an overly-expensive afterthought, and 4e magic in general didn't leave a terrible taste in everyone's mouths.

    Quote Originally Posted by Great Dragon View Post
    Well, I kinda do. I run my 5e game with an unknown number of Encounters (1) in the Dungeon (or throughout the day) and for the most part, I just let the Caster's Player decide when to cast non-cantrip spells. Once out of Spell Slots, they need to figure out how to engage with the Challenge, and Cantrips only go so far.
    [...]
    So, in a way, I'm still using the oD&D style of play: Casters still have to carefully manage their slot resources. And the Party has to manage thier consumables (potions, scrolls, and non-recharging wands) until they can either (A) find more as Treasure or (B) return to town to try and buy more.
    What you're talking about is the same basic DM advice on varying encounter frequency and difficulty that's been in every DMG (except perhaps the 4e one, I didn't read that one much), and that pretty much everyone follows to some degree these days. It's hard not to, really, unless you totally avoid all Vancian magic, consumable items, etc. (which can definitely be fun, I ran a 3e campaign with a warlock/DFA/binder/warblade party that had basically no limited resources and it was a blast), but that's quite atypical.

    I was more specifically talking about the OD&D dungeon crawl experience, where you had fixed exploration procedures (that have since largely fallen by the wayside), dungeons were designed in terms of rooms instead of encounters and an "encounter" could be 1 room's monsters or 1 room's monsters + wandering monster or 3 rooms' monsters or other combinations based on where you explored/whether you made lots of noise/etc., Magic-Users were generally not expected to cast a spell in every round of a fight or even resort to spells before mundane solutions, and so forth. Where you might not even start the game with any combat-relevant spells, magic was meant to feel just as rationed as your food and your torches, and resting in the dungeon wasn't ever something you could count on.

    I loved that kind of feel when I played OD&D, and still do when I go back and play OD&D these days...but I rarely do that, because that experience is very dungeon-focused and I'm not usually in the mood for that, and that's what I was talking about when I said no one really runs that way anymore outside of OD&D.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chambers View Post
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    It depends a lot on how you define strength. How heavily do you weight in and out of combat options? How long (in encounters) is your adventuring day?

    If your campaign mostly uses the class tools in combat (either hand-waiving the out of combat stuff or role playing it with little use of system) then its a fairly simple task. Your goal is to let your "martial" class take out as many enemies in a day as your caster. Give them damage or conditions to deliver that result.
    Give defenses/hitpoints/stealth enough to match the durability of a caster with a sensible array of defensive spells.
    The greater stamina of being able to keep whacking things with a sword long after the caster has run out of spells is worth more if you do long days, less if you have one fight per day most days.


    If spells are contributing a lot out of combat as well, it's a little harder. Spells let a caster do pretty much any job which needs doing. So you probably want to allow mundane skills to be better at what they do (so, a thief's lock picking can do complex locks while a knock spell only does basic ones for example). You could divide up the out of combat areas to ensure each non-caster class has an area where they will outshine a caster. A ranger in the woods is as undetectable as a flying invisible wizard, but can do it for longer to make up for slower. They can also match or beat the cleric's create food as a hunter/gatherer.

    Another way to go about it would be to make magical and mundane solutions better against either magical or mundane problems. So you could have "Takes magic to fix magic" where your knock spell is most effective against magical locks, but will struggle against good technology. Your magic attacks work well on magical monsters but struggle against mundanes, while whacking things with a sword is great against the soldiers and will struggle on the ghosts


    Or switch it. Magical solutions are best on mundane problems. Your fireball is great for clearing the soldiers, but to get rid of ghosts, you the mundane scattering of salt, or to hit them with silver weapons, or the focused will that comes from using your own strength to swing a sword. Only a skilled thief can pop a magical lock. This works best when a high level of knowledge about magic is assumed for mundane characters.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff
    It depends a lot on how you define strength. How heavily do you weight in and out of combat options? How long (in encounters) is your adventuring day?
    To me, giving the Players tactical tools is another form of strength.

    But, remember that Player Agency is in effect, as well. They choose which Spells (or Skills/Subclass Features for Martials) to have available/known. They choose when to use them, and when not to.

    As the DM, know what spell is most effective, but also figure out which skill/s can also bypass the Challenge with a reasonable DC.

    (Example: the DM shouldn't expect the PC/s to expend a resource to "win". Let the Players figure out other ways to get it done)

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff
    Your goal is to let your "martial" class take out as many enemies in a day as your caster. Give them damage or conditions to deliver that result.
    Give defenses/hitpoints/stealth enough to match the durability of a caster with a sensible array of defensive spells.
    Part of the problem that I see there, is that these kind of things are either locked behind a specific Class/Subclass (Monk/Hand and Fighter/Battlemaster for Knockdown, Knockback: and Stun effects are rare) or just not covered by RAW. Which means that not every Homebrew will work. (Nevermind that RAW also doesn't always work)

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff
    If spells are contributing a lot out of combat as well, it's a little harder. Spells let a caster do pretty much any job which needs doing. So you probably want to allow mundane skills to be better at what they do (so, a thief's lock picking can do complex locks while a knock spell only does basic ones for example).
    As I have stated, Spells aren't flexible like Skills. A spell does the one thing that it says, and no more. (This is why there were half a dozen similar spells - the various "Hand" spells being the most obvious - of different levels in 3x)

    Ok, sure. The Wizard can Fireball a group of foes (for about 42 damage, 21 on a save), but that's only really effective against Mooks of less than CR/Lv 3. (Most Players rarely Upcast Fireball/Lightning Bolt above 5th level, since there are better spells to choose from up there) Most Monsters/foes over CR 7 are only a little singed even if they Fail (individual results vary), and that's not counting those with Resistance/Immunity. (But most of these are obvious, and the Mage just changes energy type)

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff
    You could divide up the out of combat areas to ensure each non-caster class has an area where they will outshine a caster.
    I find Pure Fighters (Champion, mostly) to be the hardest to do this for. I can help a little with Custom Backgrounds, but honestly, "Have Sword, Will Hit" (For Glory and/or Pay) tends to be a little limited outside combat.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff
    A ranger in the woods is as undetectable as a flying invisible wizard, but can do it for longer to make up for slower. They can also match or beat the cleric's create food as a hunter/gatherer.
    Funny thing is, the most obvious way to do that is Outlander Ranger. Able to find enough food and water for 10 people as long as the Environment allows. Neither they, nor their allies, are slowed by difficult terrain or Environmental hazards in their chosen Favored Terrain/s outside of combat.

    I extend that for the Ranger in combat, as well. I believe that it is supposed to apply to even Magical effects used within the terrain.
    But, on phone and AFB, so not sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Duff
    Another way to go about it would be to make magical and mundane solutions better against either magical or mundane problems. So you could have "Takes magic to fix magic" where your knock spell is most effective against magical locks, but will struggle against good technology. Your magic attacks work well on magical monsters but struggle against mundanes, while whacking things with a sword is great against the soldiers and will struggle on the ghosts

    Or switch it. Magical solutions are best on mundane problems. Your fireball is great for clearing the soldiers, but to get rid of ghosts, you the mundane scattering of salt, or to hit them with silver weapons, or the focused will that comes from using your own strength to swing a sword. Only a skilled thief can pop a magical lock. This works best when a high level of knowledge about magic is assumed for mundane characters.
    I tend to try and blend these.

    Like: Where silver or magic is effective against the Ghost, but so is mundane salt.

    I tend to use the Monster's CR for Knowledge DCs. And DC = 10 + spell level for knowing a spell's effects: Arcana for Bards/Mages, Religion for Clerics/Paladins, and Nature for Druids/Rangers.

    Seems to work for most of my games.
    Last edited by Great Dragon; 2019-09-13 at 05:10 AM.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    The idea that Vancian magic is more ritualistic than skill based magic strikes me as a non-sequitir. In skill-based magic, the skill measures how many rituals and demon-binding glyphs and etc. you have memorized, just like it measures how much physics or chemistry you have memorized. The way Vancian spells erase themselves from your memory in particular is completely detached from how magic was thought to work in the medieval and Renaissance era, as once you know a ritual you can conduct it at-will given enough time and the right materials. Vancian magic could work as representative of finite materials, except then you should only be able to prepare spells when you are able to restock materials and your ability to prepare spells should be limited not by level, but by how many materials you can afford or harvest. The best way to model magic as it was thought to work in the old days would be as a set number of spells (some of which might have completely unrelated effects, i.e. summoning a demon who can turn you invisible, locate an object, or make someone fall in love with you), and whether you acquire them as class features or from a point-buy system or just as treasure or what, once you have them, you can cast them either:

    1) Completely at-will,

    2) For as long as your material components hold out (with different spells requiring different, though possibly overlapping, materials), or

    3) As often as you can successfully complete a skill check to perform the ritual properly, with potentially dire consequences for failing.

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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by ChamHasNoRoom View Post
    The idea that Vancian magic is more ritualistic than skill based magic strikes me as a non-sequitir. In skill-based magic, the skill measures how many rituals and demon-binding glyphs and etc. you have memorized, just like it measures how much physics or chemistry you have memorized. The way Vancian spells erase themselves from your memory in particular is completely detached from how magic was thought to work in the medieval and Renaissance era, as once you know a ritual you can conduct it at-will given enough time and the right materials.
    For the bazillionth time: while Vancian spell preparation was originally described as "memorizing" spells in addition to "preparing" them, you are not and have never been literally memorizing anything. You're going through a ritual to cast a spell and then you stop short and hold the spell as a mental construct for later. The "But I don't forget high school chemistry!" argument hasn't made sense since 1e.</pet peeve>

    The best way to model magic as it was thought to work in the old days would be as a set number of spells (some of which might have completely unrelated effects, i.e. summoning a demon who can turn you invisible, locate an object, or make someone fall in love with you),
    Yep, it's called lesser planar binding.

    and whether you acquire them as class features or from a point-buy system or just as treasure or what, once you have them, you can cast them either:

    1) Completely at-will,

    2) For as long as your material components hold out (with different spells requiring different, though possibly overlapping, materials), or

    3) As often as you can successfully complete a skill check to perform the ritual properly, with potentially dire consequences for failing.
    Keep in mind that the rituals involved in D&D spells take a long time to carry out (in AD&D it was a flat 10-15 minutes per spell level per spell regardless of the magic-user's level, in 3e you get faster at prepping spells as you level to fit everything into an hour, and I generally houserule things back to AD&D spell prep times). So "cast fireball at will" would really translate to "cast 1 fireball every half an hour if you spend the entire half an hour carrying out the fireball preparation ritual"--not super useful at combat scale.

    You're right that magic-users should theoretically be able to cast spells directly from a spellbook without preparing them by going through the whole prep process and just casting the spell immediately at the end instead of using up a slot, and that was a very common houserule back in the day (different from casting a spellbook page immediately like a scroll, which was an actual rule in UA) that has since made it into 5e as ritual casting; it doesn't make sense that only some 5e spells have the ritual tag when all spells should function that way, but 5e isn't Vancian, so whatever.

    Also keep in mind that the whole point of spell preparation, which basically every skill-based suggestion completely misses, is that you're performing your preparation in a nice calm and worry-free environment so you can take your time to carry out the ritual correctly and don't need to rush and possibly mis-draw the pentagram or whatever. Then once you cast it you don't need to make a skill check to see if you can channel enough mana or whatever because (A) that's not at all how D&D magic works and (B) you already effectively cast the spell during preparation then so why would you figure out whether you can carry it out correctly now?

    So essentially, a slightly-and-commonly-houseruled Vancian already hits all the high points of what you're talking about. Which is my whole point, really, that people ignore the flavor of Vancian and then complain that the flavor of Vancian doesn't make sense and try to swap out parts of the mechanics that make it not work with the flavor.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Well, keep in mind that dungeon crawls aren't the only context in which that sort of setup makes sense and could be used. Any scenario in which you have a finite set of resources with which to complete a given mission--and if you run out of those, you have to improvise/adapt/scrounge/etc. with what's left--has a similar challenge-prediction-and-resource-management aspect, and plenty of other adventure formats, from Shadowrun raids to James Bond movies where Q gives him a specific handful of gadgets in the beginning and he has to make use of them for the mission at hand, could be considered to fall under that umbrella despite not resembling dungeon crawls in the slightest.

    That doesn't mean that one should then port Vancian to Shadowrun or anything like that, obviously, just that the fact OD&D used Vancian in a certain context doesn't mean that Vancian can't fit in any similar contexts.
    I feel like the main problem isn't that it's resource management, but rather that the resource management is disproportionately skewed towards some characters. That is to say, the whole party has to schedule around the wizard's and the cleric's daily resources.

    Very true. In fact, I was kind of excited when WotC announced the at-will/encounter/daily setup for arcane casters in 4e, 'cause I figured encounter spells would basically be a bunch of "you can re-prepare these spells without resting, but have to spend X minutes/spell to do so," in the same way that ToB maneuvers talk about "refreshing between encounters" but actually involve spending 5 minutes prepping maneuvers, while daily spells would still require resting to refresh because they're more powerful and somehow lock/burn out/etc. the spell slot, with at-wills being something like [Reserve] feats and being dependent on which encounter and daily spells you have prepared.

    Which was obviously nowhere close to what we got, but I can certainly imagine an alternate universe in which 4e dropped with varying power schedules per power source from the start and Arcane was "original flavor" Vancian like that, other power sources did different things, rituals weren't an overly-expensive afterthought, and 4e magic in general didn't leave a terrible taste in everyone's mouths.
    I'm normally inclined to give 4E credit for not giving spellcasters special treatment, but it's hard to argue the dial was cranked too hard in the other direction. I suppose daily spells might be easier to balance if they were only part of the casters' repertoire, to be used occasionally, with the main legwork being done with more easily recharged ones.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Morty View Post
    I feel like the main problem isn't that it's resource management, but rather that the resource management is disproportionately skewed towards some characters. That is to say, the whole party has to schedule around the wizard's and the cleric's daily resources.
    Yeah, it's definitely skewed, and unfortunately even if you can come up with a good non-magical-feeling resource system for noncasters (a nontrivial feat on its own), there's not much to be done about that as long as the Guy At The Gym Fallacy folks have a strong voice and the OSR crowd still views fighters and thieves as the beginner and/or "what you play if you didn't roll well enough to be a real class" classes.

    I was kinda hoping 5e's "You can customize the game to any edition and any level of complexity!" pitch meant that they'd have resource-intensive and resource-less versions of every class archetype, from something like Barbarian/3e Warlock/Rogue/Spontaneous Healer on the simple side to something like Warblade-plus-a-daily-stamina-system/Wizard/Factotum/Cleric on the more complex side, as I have just as many friends who like the wizard-y flavor but find spellcasting too complicated as I have ones who like playing a tactical warrior and want more fiddly bits to play with. But alas, 'twas not to be.

    I'm normally inclined to give 4E credit for not giving spellcasters special treatment, but it's hard to argue the dial was cranked too hard in the other direction. I suppose daily spells might be easier to balance if they were only part of the casters' repertoire, to be used occasionally, with the main legwork being done with more easily recharged ones.
    There's definitely room for a Vancian-as-in-actual-Dying-Earth caster class, where even at high levels you only have a handful of situational daily spells but they're real showstoppers when you do cast them. You could do a lot with the [Reserve]-feat-like idea I mentioned, stuff like having the most excellent prismatic spray prepared giving you a variety of color-themed blasting options, having Phandal's absolute domination prepared giving you various social skill benefits, and so forth; if they're good enough and actual spells are few enough that casters don't want to cast their actual spells, that gets you the better balance point you're looking for and makes for an interesting play dynamic besides.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    Yeah, it's definitely skewed, and unfortunately even if you can come up with a good non-magical-feeling resource system for noncasters (a nontrivial feat on its own), there's not much to be done about that as long as the Guy At The Gym Fallacy folks have a strong voice and the OSR crowd still views fighters and thieves as the beginner and/or "what you play if you didn't roll well enough to be a real class" classes.

    I was kinda hoping 5e's "You can customize the game to any edition and any level of complexity!" pitch meant that they'd have resource-intensive and resource-less versions of every class archetype, from something like Barbarian/3e Warlock/Rogue/Spontaneous Healer on the simple side to something like Warblade-plus-a-daily-stamina-system/Wizard/Factotum/Cleric on the more complex side, as I have just as many friends who like the wizard-y flavor but find spellcasting too complicated as I have ones who like playing a tactical warrior and want more fiddly bits to play with. But alas, 'twas not to be.
    The resource-less versions would be so valuable if they were balanced / extended to be on par with the resource-intensive classes.

    I would love to play a Mage without resources. The 3E Warlock was a great first draft that I loved to bits.
    I would also welcome a Martial version of the 3E Warlock.

    To top it off there is also the non caster Mage archetype (and sub archetypes) that has yet to be investigated. They exhibit magic more as static abilities (passive, always active) rather than discrete magical acts (cast spell, have effect, have duration, end).

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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    You're right that magic-users should theoretically be able to cast spells directly from a spellbook without preparing them by going through the whole prep process and just casting the spell immediately at the end instead of using up a slot, and that was a very common houserule back in the day (different from casting a spellbook page immediately like a scroll, which was an actual rule in UA) that has since made it into 5e as ritual casting; it doesn't make sense that only some 5e spells have the ritual tag when all spells should function that way, but 5e isn't Vancian, so whatever.
    There are many RPG systems out there that have nothing to do with Vancian magic and still have casting times measured in hours and ritual preparation times measured in days. If your main argument for Vancian magic being closer to real world magic is "But it takes as long", then that is not a compelling argument. D&D magic is not slow, including preparartion.

    The whole "preparing a spell until nearly finished and keep it in the state until you need it" does never pop up in real world magic traditions. The closest thing is some kind of wards where the casting is completed and the magic already active but the real effect requires some outside trigger.

    Pretty much everything else from real world magic has been ported to RPGs. There are RPG supplements regarding where you can read about qualia, sympathetics etc. and use that in the rules. There are RPG supplements going deep enough into Wuxing that they might as well work as introduction to Taoism. Pretty much everything magical has found its work into RPGs. Most often far more true to source than whatever D&D did.

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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by Satinavian View Post
    There are many RPG systems out there that have nothing to do with Vancian magic and still have casting times measured in hours and ritual preparation times measured in days. If your main argument for Vancian magic being closer to real world magic is "But it takes as long", then that is not a compelling argument. D&D magic is not slow, including preparartion.

    The whole "preparing a spell until nearly finished and keep it in the state until you need it" does never pop up in real world magic traditions. The closest thing is some kind of wards where the casting is completed and the magic already active but the real effect requires some outside trigger.

    Pretty much everything else from real world magic has been ported to RPGs. There are RPG supplements regarding where you can read about qualia, sympathetics etc. and use that in the rules. There are RPG supplements going deep enough into Wuxing that they might as well work as introduction to Taoism. Pretty much everything magical has found its work into RPGs. Most often far more true to source than whatever D&D did.
    This and a couple other posts have done a good job of getting into why I was so incredulous -- so incredulous that I was waiting until I was coherent to get into more detail.
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    Default Re: How stronger would non-magic classes need to be to allow broad-non vancian magic?

    Quote Originally Posted by PairO'Dice Lost View Post
    For the bazillionth time: while Vancian spell preparation was originally described as "memorizing" spells in addition to "preparing" them, you are not and have never been literally memorizing anything.
    For starters, "just because it was called memorization doesn't mean you were actually memorizing anything" is not a very convincing argument. Even less so since you lose the ability to re-memorize a spell without your spellbook, no matter how many times you've done it before. A lot of wizards have been memorizing Magic Missile on a daily basis for months and the spell only contains one page's worth of instructions, it's very strange that they don't have that one page committed permanently to memory. People may have realized that losing memory of your spells when casting them was dumb as far back as 1e and have been making tortured justifications ever since, but that doesn't change the fact that this is what the words "re-memorize spells" actually mean.

    More relevantly, this is the opposite of how rituals in medieval-style magic work. Generally speaking, failing to complete a ritual right before the end means all your effort was wasted if you are lucky. Many rituals would allegedly cause dire consequences if you didn't complete them properly, on account of the demon you were summoning would escape (stories about demon exorcisms frequently use the same trope, although in this case the "spell" is just "make this person not possessed anymore"). It's perfectly typical for there to be stories where someone puts a hex on an enemy with the dire warning that they had damn well better follow through all the way to the end, because once that hex gets going someone is getting messed up, and if it's not your target, it's gonna be you. Any last-minute flights of conscience are gonna have dire consequences. Or sometimes it's that the target of the hex is a witch and if you don't finish her off, she will wreak terrible vengeance when she has recovered.

    Keep in mind that the rituals involved in D&D spells take a long time to carry out
    We aren't talking about how long D&D spells take to cast. We're talking about how long medieval ritual magic takes to cast and whether or not D&D adequately models that. D&D does not get points for being similar to itself. Unsurprisingly, medieval ritual magic durations are all over the place, because they're folklore spread out over an entire continent and an entire millennium. Some rituals can only be performed at specific times of day, month, or year, but don't take very long once the time has arrived. Others can be done whenever but require special components, like sympathetic magic that needs hair or blood or whatever from the target, but once you've got that you can hex them pretty much at-will. Others do actually take a long time, but with the aforementioned fizzling if not horrible magical catastrophe if you perform them incorrectly, including if you stop performing them right before the end. Sometimes you perform the ritual once and then you have the superpower indefinitely, or until something goes wrong with your voodoo workshop back home that's keeping the demon contained/spell going/whatever. At the point when you've taken the many permutations of folk lore and given them standardized preparation costs, you've migrated far from whatever medieval/Renaissance roots you may have once had, not that Vancian magic ever had any particular similarity to medieval/Renaissance magic to lose.

    So essentially, a slightly-and-commonly-houseruled Vancian already hits all the high points of what you're talking about.
    No, it doesn't. The heart of D&D's Vancian magic system is its spell slots, which have no justification in the ritual setup whatsoever. Even ignoring the fact that stopping a ritual before the end isn't a good idea according to medieval/Renaissance belief, there's no reason why someone who's just completing a bunch of rituals shouldn't be able to complete as many rituals as they have time for in the morning. If the only spell you know is magic missile and it takes you 10 minutes to prepare it, then your level 1 Magic User should logically be able to prepare six of them per hour. In fact, if the duration of the spell isn't linked to sunrises or sunsets or a year and a day or whatever, there's no reason not to store up dozens, hundreds, thousands, or whatever of them so that you can pop off an unlimited number of spells at-will.

    Everything about D&D magic - from the standardized cost for preparation to the lack of consequence for breaking off mid-ritual to the extremely game mechanical effects of a fireball or passwall - everything except the most basic, foundational concept of "casting spells" is wholly unlike the medieval/Renaissance traditions.

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