L&L: Putting the Vance in Vancian




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    L&L: Putting the Vance in Vancian

    Article for 2/27/12.

    I'm reading this to imply that if you want a spell that doesn't affect combat, you have to use a feat to buy it?

    I hope I'm wrong, because this bothers me to no end.
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    Hopefully Monte means that a non-Vancian wizard gets more feats to spend. But it still seems a rather round about method to build an AEDU wizard. In fact his article is rather unclear: he could mean that a Wizard is always Vancian but that he gets some extra stuff like a Pathfinder wizard. After all wizards need more power and options.
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    I don't read it that way. To me it seems like a typical "Wizard" would get spells per day, but he could also spend a feat to get an at-will or per-encounter magical ability. These abilities would not be called "spells," since "spell" would only refer to per-day magical abilities.

    Personally, one design aesthetic I'd like to see is inspired by Magic: the Gathering. Namely, you have to gather your mana to cast your spells. Maybe you have X mana per day, and you spend 1 mana whenever you cast a spell, or possibly 2 mana to do a really powerful version.

    Then you'd have an ability, Draw Mana, which would let you spend a standard action to gain 1 mana, but you'd have to spend it within 5 minutes or else it would fade away.

    To keep this from being boring (i.e., you only cast a spell every other turn), maybe the act of drawing mana makes you imposing like Gandalf when he intimidates Bilbo early in Fellowship, causing creatures nearby you to take a penalty to attack rolls for a turn. Or maybe a fire mage who draws mana could deal minor fire damage in a close burst, as fire swirls around him dramatically. Different types of wizards would have different minor effects that occur when they draw mana.

    So you still have spells as a per-day resource, and if you use all your normal allotment of spells you can no longer just snap your fingers and cast; you can only cast every other round.
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    It wasn't really a choice in the poll, but I prefer a mixture of at-will abilities (like 4e powers or these magical feats) with a flexible pool of daily magic (like the 3e sorcerer or psion), possibly with some encounter-level resources mixed in. I could imagine liking a system like the 3e sorcerer, except with fewer spells/day, more spells to choose from, a few at-will spells and maybe the ability to cast a small number of low level spells per encounter without tapping the daily resource.

    Vancian magic just doesn't match the fiction of my gameworld. I don't mind magic becoming exhausted, but forgetting a spell is silly. I appreciate the strategic aspect of Vancian magic, but I don't want to run a game in Dying Earth and I don't like waiting for PCs to memorize spells (or worse, having to pick spells for NPCs!).

    -KS

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    Quote Originally Posted by KidSnide View Post
    Vancian magic just doesn't match the fiction of my gameworld. I don't mind magic becoming exhausted, but forgetting a spell is silly.
    Personally, I've always preferred the 3e flavor of "preparing" a spell to "Vancian" "forgetting". It has pretty much the same game effect: you have to choose your spells in advance, tying up your daily spell slots in the process, but instead of "forgetting" the spell, you just need to rest and regain the expended spell slot before you can shape the magical energy into another spell again.

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    From the context of the article, "Vancian" doesn't only mean "spells per day" (AEDU wizards get that, too). "Vancian" is more related to picking out the spells you want to prepare in advance, hence the link to "strategic play" (and assuming of course, you are smart enough to scout, do research, listen for rumors, cast divinations, or otherwise gather information about what you are going to face - and your DM actually gives you useful hints).

    So, at this point it seems that there will be "Vancian" wizards who have to spend feats to get at-will abilities (which may have combat and/or non-combat applications) and there will be non-"Vancian" magic-users (to use a very generic term, since "spells" are implied to be "Vancian" only) who get more at-will abilities, and possibly encounter and daily powers as well (through feats? Uncertain at this point).

    It is also implied that mage hand and Tenser's floating disc will no longer be spells since they will be at-will abilities. Cue the nerd rage!

  8. #8
    If this implies that "Disciple of Tenser" is really phrased as some equivalent of "You may use Tenser's Floating Disc as a spell-like ability at will" then it's wouldn't be so bad. I would object to not having the option of preparing the effect as a spell at all.

    It also brings back the issue of combat balance and non-combat balance. If I'm using a feat for mage hand that another player is using for extra combat damage, we have the gimping problem again.

    It suggests a system by which feats are used primarily for out-of-combat effects, but we have evidence that's not the case.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Savage Wombat View Post
    It also brings back the issue of combat balance and non-combat balance. If I'm using a feat for mage hand that another player is using for extra combat damage, we have the gimping problem again.
    It really depends on what proportion of a character's total effectiveness comes from feats. If it's around 20%, then the difference in effectiveness between a character who has spent all his feats on combat power and one who has spent all his feats on non-combat utility is about 20%, which is close enough to "not gimped" in my book.

    If it's around 40%, then the issue would be what the default options are. A player who decides to customize his character ought to ensure that he knows the likely consequences of what he is doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Savage Wombat View Post
    If this implies that "Disciple of Tenser" is really phrased as some equivalent of "You may use Tenser's Floating Disc as a spell-like ability at will" then it's wouldn't be so bad. I would object to not having the option of preparing the effect as a spell at all.

    It also brings back the issue of combat balance and non-combat balance. If I'm using a feat for mage hand that another player is using for extra combat damage, we have the gimping problem again.

    It suggests a system by which feats are used primarily for out-of-combat effects, but we have evidence that's not the case.
    To me, it seems like Feats are being upgraded to be more like "class features" rather than minor tweaks. However, I favor blurring the line between combat and non-combat. I think that the utility of various things varies so much between campaigns that it should be possible for characters in the same class but different campaigns to adapt to what they need. Its the only way to allow for balance while not "locking down" a hardwired combat playstyle, AFAICT.

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