AD&D 1st Edition Should 5e adopt 1e style arcane magic?

View Poll Results: Would you be be willing to accept all, or at least most, of the 1e drawbacks in excha

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254. This poll is closed
  • Yes, I would accept all 1e drawbacks in exchange for a 1e magic system.

    41 16.14%
  • Yes, I would accept most 1e drawbacks in exchange for a 1e magic system.

    48 18.90%
  • No, I don't like the 1e arcane magic system.

    116 45.67%
  • No, I don't like the 1e wizard's drawbacks.

    76 29.92%
  • Not really; I want a 1e magic system, but without 1e drawbacks.

    15 5.91%
  • Yes, but it should be optional rather than the default system.

    27 10.63%
  • Other (please explain)

    17 6.69%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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  1. #1
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    Should 5e adopt 1e style arcane magic?

    Mages had very powerful spells in 1e, such as uncapped fireballs that would scale to 20d6 at level 20. Later editions diminished this power somewhat (fireball was capped at 10d6 in 2e).

    Would you be be willing to accept all, or at least most, of the 1e drawbacks in exchange for a powerful 1e style arcane magic system?

    These drawbacks include:

    -At low levels, the wizard progressed very slowly due to high xp requirements. Until 2,501 xp, the wizard was stuck with the worst AC, 1-4 hp, and a single spell per day. As such, it took quite a while for a wizard to come in to his own.

    -Wizard saving throws, most notably against death magic, sucked.

    -Their "Thac0" was only 13 at level 20. (Their ability to hit sucked.)

    -Any damage would automatically result in a wasted spell. Since actions were declared before initiative was rolled, and initiative was rolled every round, you never knew how many attacks you might take before finishing your spell.

    -Wizards had a measly average of 34.5 hp at level 20. Note that this means he could be killed by an average 20d6 fireball, regardless of whether he makes the saving throw or not. He can kill himself quite easily.

    -They had quite severe limits on the number of spells they could learn (from 6 to 18 spells, barring a 19 Int), and had only a percentage chance that they could ever learn a given spell (from 35% to 85%, barring a 19 Int). Since stats were rolled in those days, it wasn't unusual to see a 16 Int Wizard (can only learn 11 spells per spell level, and only has a 65% chance to learn that given spell, and can never cast 9th level spells). If you failed your check to learn the spell, you could never learn that spell (barring not meeting you minimum number of spells limit). Envision yourself as a fire mage but rolled a 89 for fireball? Sucks to be you; you'll never be able to cast fireball.

    -They couldn't wear armor at all.

    -They couldn't circumvent vocal, somatic, or material component requirements by any means (no Still Spell, etc.).

    -Many spells had significant drawbacks. Some had expensive material components (5,000 gp to cast shapechange), while other spells had serious drawbacks, such as polymorph other requiring a system shock roll just to survive it and another roll for the mind to remain intact (useful against enemies, but potentially disasterous if cast upon a party member).

    -Magic resistance was a percentage, unlike 3e. It did scale, however, + or - 5% for each level the caster was below or above 11th level. And let's not forget that you were completely boned in an anti-magic field.

    -Magic item tables favored other classes. Wizards were less likely to find magical gear suited for them than a fighter was.
    Last edited by Fanaelialae; Tuesday, 31st January, 2012 at 04:09 AM. Reason: Corrected MR to include scaling

  2. #2
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    Do I like the idea of greater costs and difficulty in casting spells? Yes.

    Do I like these rules? No.

    Using an XP chart to balance a system is not going to work, and the idea was abandoned, with good reason. XP itself is of dubious value.

    Many of the other requirements seem arbitrary. A percentage chance to *ever* learn a spell, being absolutely unable to cast in armor, and losing a spell any time you take damage are hard to justify. Why can't you try again to learn ("it's magic" is a weak excuse in this case)? Why are wizards so inept that they lose a spell every time they take damage? Why is armor anathematical to spellcasting? Percentage spell resistance was horribly unbalanced, 3e SR takes the caster and the target into account and makes much more sense.

    I would rather see drawbacks in the form of costs to the caster (damage, conditional effects), and expensive, difficult material components, as well as fewer spells known and spells/day overall.

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Ahnehnois View Post
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    Do I like the idea of greater costs and difficulty in casting spells? Yes.

    Do I like these rules? No.

    Using an XP chart to balance a system is not going to work, and the idea was abandoned, with good reason. XP itself is of dubious value.

    Many of the other requirements seem arbitrary. A percentage chance to *ever* learn a spell, being absolutely unable to cast in armor, and losing a spell any time you take damage are hard to justify. Why can't you try again to learn ("it's magic" is a weak excuse in this case)? Why are wizards so inept that they lose a spell every time they take damage? Why is armor anathematical to spellcasting? Percentage spell resistance was horribly unbalanced, 3e SR takes the caster and the target into account and makes much more sense.

    I would rather see drawbacks in the form of costs to the caster (damage, conditional effects), and expensive, difficult material components, as well as fewer spells known and spells/day overall.
    I agree, very well explained.

  4. #4
    The problem is that most of those drawbacks you listed were super easy for mages to mitigate or ignore, especially at high levels.

  5. #5
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    I don't like 1e style arcane magic. I especially don't want overly fragile wizards at low levels and overpowered wizards with both arbitrary and random limitations at higher levels.

    In that regard I like the 4e philosophy (but not the implementation).

    I wouldn't mind an optional system for more powerful but less reliable effects, though (like chaos magic or something).
    Last edited by lutecius; Wednesday, 1st February, 2012 at 02:33 AM.

  6. #6
    I think you're better off looking for a group that plays 1e if you like this style.

    It's going to be a hard sell for 5e though. A Wizard like that is not something you can easily put into a splatbook as optional. I myself prefer a Wizard that is a valuable team member on all levels from one to epic, without being useless at low levels or so uber later that he needs a full laundry list of "balancing drawbacks", most of which are problematic for the reasons I'll explain below.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
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    At low levels, the wizard progressed very slowly due to high xp requirements.
    If a Wizards needs to progress slower to be balanced, just change the speed he gets his spells and class features. Differing XP for classes is just a cruddy hack.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
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    Until 2,501 xp, the wizard was stuck with the worst AC, 1-4 hp, and a single spell per day. As such, it took quite a while for a wizard to come in to his own.

    -Wizard saving throws, most notably against death magic, sucked.

    -Their "Thac0" was only 13 at level 20. (Their ability to hit sucked.)

    -They couldn't wear armor at all.

    -Wizards had a measly average of 34.5 hp at level 20. Note that this means he could be killed by an average 20d6 fireball, regardless of whether he makes the saving throw or not. He can kill himself quite easily.
    THAC0 doesn't matter if you can avoid spells with attack rolls. No armor doesn't matter with bracers and spells like Mage Armor or Shield, and summoned creatures as meat shields. Wizards just don't need to be in melee. And if they do, there is Tenser's Transformation or Shapechange. They also have enough ways to counter magic and don't need to rely on saves like other classes.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
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    -They had quite severe limits on the number of spells they could learn (from 6 to 18 spells, barring a 19 Int), and had only a percentage chance that they could ever learn a given spell (from 35% to 85%, barring a 19 Int). Since stats were rolled in those days, it wasn't unusual to see a 16 Int Wizard (can only learn 11 spells per spell level, and only has a 65% chance to learn that given spell, and can never cast 9th level spells). If you failed your check to learn the spell, you could never learn that spell (barring not meeting you minimum number of spells limit). Envision yourself as a fire mage but rolled a 89 for fireball? Sucks to be you; you'll never be able to cast fireball.
    Int can be raised with certain books and Wish spells.

    Random chance to learn spells (or to gain any kind of class feature) is a horrible game mechanic. It just asks players to suck up to the DM (please, just one reroll) or to cheat outright.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
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    -Many spells had significant drawbacks. Some had expensive material components (5,000 gp to cast shapechange), while other spells had serious drawbacks, such as polymorph other requiring a system shock roll just to survive it and another roll for the mind to remain intact (useful against enemies, but potentially disasterous if cast upon a party member).
    Any groups that enforced material components and had Wizards crawl in caves to collect bat guano deserves all the ridicule it got.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
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    -They couldn't circumvent vocal, somatic, or material component requirements by any means (no Still Spell, etc.).
    Gag and bind a Wizard, and he can't cast spells. Gag and bind a Fighter properly, and he's useless too. That's not class balance.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
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    -Spell resistance was a flat percentage, unlike 3e. Many high level creatures were practically impervious to magical attack. And let's not forget that you were completely boned in an anti-magic field.
    And Fighters had to have the right weapon to overcome damage resistance, and they had a very hard time against flying enemies. There are ways to counter every class in 1st ed., it's not unique to the Wizard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
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    -Magic item tables favored other classes. Wizards were less likely to find magical gear suited for them than a fighter was.
    That's because all they need is a spell book to work. And they can create magic items if they don't find the right stuff.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fanaelialae View Post
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    -Any damage would automatically result in a wasted spell. Since actions were declared before initiative was rolled, and initiative was rolled every round, you never knew how many attacks you might take before finishing your spell.
    That's pretty much the only mechanic I'd like to see in 5E in some form. But not as a class balance mechanic, but as a tactical option. It adds to the game if Wizards need some time to cast a big oomph, like summoning a powerful demon, and other party members need to protect them during the period. That is, 5E also needs defender mechanic if it adds casting time. And low-level spells like magic missile or shocking grasp should not use it.

  7. #7
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    I voted before I read your full list. What I want is to bring back the various factors from the DMG. Haste ages you 3 years, etc. Those are the drawbacks I want. All the silly balancing that came in 3e would have been unnecessary if they'd followed the 1e guidelines for balance.

  8. #8
    I like the gonzo variety of 1e magic, and the fact that you can find all sorts of novel uses for simple utility spells.

    I don't like the unlimited scaling and fact that despite low-level drawbacks wizards win the game at high levels.

    I don't think the poll gives me a balance of options that meet my needs.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Mercule View Post
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    Haste ages you 3 years
    This vastly favored elves. Humans have to care about aging 3 years, elves don't.

  10. #10
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    Humans also have unlimited advancement. Advantage humans.

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