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D&D 5E 11 spell levels... really

Question on point of topic

  • Yes I agree Sadrik 8 spell levels

    Votes: 5 11.6%
  • No I do not 11 spell levels is right

    Votes: 9 20.9%
  • Neither some other number of spell levels

    Votes: 29 67.4%

  • Total voters
    43

Treebore

First Post
I think having more spell levels and spreading gaining them out over 30 character levels would do a lot to make higher level play easier to manage as well as keeping spell casters from being more impressively powerful than non spell casters.

The new Hackmaster essentially did this, and I liked its effect.
 

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griffonwing

First Post
I think having more spell levels and spreading gaining them out over 30 character levels would do a lot to make higher level play easier to manage as well as keeping spell casters from being more impressively powerful than non spell casters.

The new Hackmaster essentially did this, and I liked its effect.

Perhaps, also, introduce Spell Creation into the game. Mages have a set list of spells that have been researched and discovered, a large list, to be sure, but still, a finite amount. Introduce a system that encourages them to create their own, be it hybrid spells or whatever. Pule "role" back into the game.
 

Sadrik

First Post
I think having more spell levels and spreading gaining them out over 30 character levels would do a lot to make higher level play easier to manage as well as keeping spell casters from being more impressively powerful than non spell casters.

The new Hackmaster essentially did this, and I liked its effect.

I am sorry but you will have to tell me how to differentiate between a 20th level spell and a 30th level spell. That is just silly imo. The only way I can see that as a possibility is if you have 20 different versions of the same spell as opposed to one version and it scales in some fashion (memorize at a higher level for more damage or auto scales based on caster level). I vote for going back to 7 spell levels + 0 level (illusionist, cleric and druid style) for all casters. 30 spell levels is not good.
 

griffonwing

First Post
I am sorry but you will have to tell me how to differentiate between a 20th level spell and a 30th level spell. That is just silly imo. The only way I can see that as a possibility is if you have 20 different versions of the same spell as opposed to one version and it scales in some fashion (memorize at a higher level for more damage or auto scales based on caster level). I vote for going back to 7 spell levels + 0 level (illusionist, cleric and druid style) for all casters. 30 spell levels is not good.

Several ways
1) Limit the number of spells per level, per haps put it on par with the character level +2 or 3.
2) Introduce other types of spells, not necessarily damage spells, but ones that could be useful.

In all honestly, though, I am just tossing out possibilities, things to grab a hold of and work with. I do not have the knowledge of how to make a Vancian magic system viable for 20 or 30 spell levels. But that's ok. If I did, I would be applying at WoTC.
 

Zustiur

Explorer
I'm still of the opinion that the following should happen:
1) 'Spell Levels' are renamed to 'Spell Tiers'
2) For Cleric and Wizard types, we should continue with 9+1 tiers (i.e. 0-9 tier spells)
3) Those tiers should be split across 30 levels
4) Only character levels 1-20 should be in the PHB
5) Sorcerers should be either a) an alternative casting method wizard, or b) have their funky bloodlines and have a totally different spell list
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
Yes. This is how HackMaster does theirs. But they also include Spell Points mixed with Vancian memorization. You memorize 1 spell per level, along with 2 apprentice and 1 journeyman (cantrips or weaker spells). Non-memorized spells cost twice the base points to cast, and memorized spells never leave the memory, until you choose to memorize another.

You can memorize a 2nd level spell, and cast it as many times as you have the spell points to cast.

I always thought the "points" system was a nice way to pay for spells, but then I come from a long video-gaming background wherein most magic-users have some sort of energy-pool that they use to cast their spells. Spells-per-day simulates this to an extent, but not in a manner that I feel is very clear.

If every spell was given a point-cost based on it's level(lets keep it simple, we've got 10 levels, each spell costs the amount of points from the level it's in) I think it would go a long way to making the Vancian system much less confusing. Metamagic feats would increase point costs, moving spells up "spells levels" to power them up would increase point costs, same with moving them down. Say, 2 points per level, and one extra point per level based on your int/wis/cha mod. If we keep the DDN style of capping at 20, then by 20th level a player has at best roughly 140 points to spend. While that seems like a lot, if a 10th level spell costs 10 points, that's only 14 spells, which should be able to be completely spent in a 20th level encounter.

I dunno, the Vancian system as it has been in D&D has always bothered the heck out of me because it seems to convoluted for no apparent benefit.
 
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griffonwing

First Post
I always thought the "points" system was a nice way to pay for spells, but then I come from a long video-gaming background wherein most magic-users have some sort of energy-pool that they use to cast their spells. Spells-per-day simulates this to an extent, but not in a manner that I feel is very clear.

If every spell was given a point-cost based on it's level(lets keep it simple, we've got 10 levels, each spell costs the amount of points from the level it's in) I think it would go a long way to making the Vancian system much less confusing. Metamagic feats would increase point costs, moving spells up "spells levels" to power them up would increase point costs, same with moving them down. Say, 2 points per level, and one extra point per level based on your int/wis/cha mod. If we keep the DDN style of capping at 20, then by 20th level a player has at best roughly 140 points to spend. While that seems like a lot, if a 10th level spell costs 10 points, that's only 14 spells, which should be able to be completely spent in a 20th level encounter.

I dunno, the Vancian system as it has been in D&D has always bothered the heck out of me because it seems to convoluted for no apparent benefit.
I think making a 1st level spell cost 1 point is too cheap. What about boosting them by pumping more points? It could cost you all of your points for 1 spell.

In HM, you have leveled spells (1st level, 8th, etc) and you have Apprentice (elementary learning spells) and Journeyman (secondary grade spells). Apprentice spells cost 30 Sp, Journeyman cost 40, and leveled costs 40+(10x spell level), so 50 for 1st, 60 for 2nd, 70 for 3rd, etc.. The mage can memorize 1 spell from each level, plus 1 Apprentice and 1 Journeyman.

At 3rd level, you have 260 Spell Points. 70+60+50+40+30=250. You have enough points to cast all of your memorized spells, plus 10 points over to boost some. Alternatively, you could be in a situation where you never had to cast them all. You could, in fact, cast your memorized apprentice spell 8 times, or your memorized 1st level spell 5 times, or your 3rd level spell 3 times. Any non-memorized spell, if you have the spellbook, costs double.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I always thought the "points" system was a nice way to pay for spells, but then I come from a long video-gaming background wherein most magic-users have some sort of energy-pool that they use to cast their spells. Spells-per-day simulates this to an extent, but not in a manner that I feel is very clear.

If every spell was given a point-cost based on it's level(lets keep it simple, we've got 10 levels, each spell costs the amount of points from the level it's in) I think it would go a long way to making the Vancian system much less confusing. Metamagic feats would increase point costs, moving spells up "spells levels" to power them up would increase point costs, same with moving them down. Say, 2 points per level, and one extra point per level based on your int/wis/cha mod. If we keep the DDN style of capping at 20, then by 20th level a player has at best roughly 140 points to spend. While that seems like a lot, if a 10th level spell costs 10 points, that's only 14 spells, which should be able to be completely spent in a 20th level encounter.

I dunno, the Vancian system as it has been in D&D has always bothered the heck out of me because it seems to convoluted for no apparent benefit.
Well I don't find it specially confusing, but again the only time I used vacian was in the old times when I just said "Three heals, done." Starting on 3rd edition only sorcerers and bards (and favored souls) for me thank you (Ok, I also enjoyed clerics and healers, but no wizards). However I have no choice but defend it, when vancian falls it dies dragging along the spontaneous slot casting with it, so until people (and designers) realize that the very same spell cast by the very same level of caster with the same caster stat has wildly different outcomes if the caster is an spontaneous or a vancian caster I have no choice but to err on the side of vancian. (And spell points are too fidly IMHO) Oh and 9 is a pretty number, doesn't feel like too many or too little levels. 11 feels like too much, more than 9 levels and spell levels become insanely granular and sounds like harder to book keep.

Oh and [MENTION=1544]Zustiur[/MENTION], I don't agree with most of your points, specially on sorcerers, having the same spell list doesn't makes them just alternative wizards, and for the sake of fairness they need to be judged and balanced on their own merits, otherwise they become needlessly weak. If the dev team manages to balance wizards into the same power level as fighters and just decide to use the same exact numbers for sorcerers without further thought, the sorcerer will suck big time.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
I think making a 1st level spell cost 1 point is too cheap. What about boosting them by pumping more points? It could cost you all of your points for 1 spell.
Well, if a first-level spell is all you have access to, and lets assume you're also 1st level, that would mean(by the system presented above) that even with a perfect roll and a +2 racial bonus, you'd only have 6 spell-points, which would mean you could only fire off that 1d3 or 1d4 spell 6 times before you're spent.

I really don't think that's all too unreasonable at first level. I wouldn't be opposed however, to allowing the player some simple at-will magic, but I wouldn't favor it being the entire palette of 1st-level spells. A player could choose to take say, 2 first-level spells that they could use as at-will, no cost magic. These could never be retrained, and they could not be augmented by spending more points.

In HM, you have leveled spells (1st level, 8th, etc) and you have Apprentice (elementary learning spells) and Journeyman (secondary grade spells). Apprentice spells cost 30 Sp, Journeyman cost 40, and leveled costs 40+(10x spell level), so 50 for 1st, 60 for 2nd, 70 for 3rd, etc.. The mage can memorize 1 spell from each level, plus 1 Apprentice and 1 Journeyman.

At 3rd level, you have 260 Spell Points. 70+60+50+40+30=250. You have enough points to cast all of your memorized spells, plus 10 points over to boost some. Alternatively, you could be in a situation where you never had to cast them all. You could, in fact, cast your memorized apprentice spell 8 times, or your memorized 1st level spell 5 times, or your 3rd level spell 3 times. Any non-memorized spell, if you have the spellbook, costs double.

I still favor keeping the math simple and making point-cost equitable to the spell level, and likewise using that to keep the number of points any player could ever get down as well. 1-10 levels, 1-10 spells, 1-10 points. I don't like artificial categorizations of spells unless there is some real good reason why spells in levels 1-4 are "beginner", 5-7 "journeyman" and 8-10 advanced", such as a significant power jump.
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
Well I don't find it specially confusing, but again the only time I used vacian was in the old times when I just said "Three heals, done." Starting on 3rd edition only sorcerers and bards (and favored souls) for me thank you (Ok, I also enjoyed clerics and healers, but no wizards). However I have no choice but defend it, when vancian falls it dies dragging along the spontaneous slot casting with it, so until people (and designers) realize that the very same spell cast by the very same level of caster with the same caster stat has wildly different outcomes if the caster is an spontaneous or a vancian caster I have no choice but to err on the side of vancian. (And spell points are too fidly IMHO) Oh and 9 is a pretty number, doesn't feel like too many or too little levels. 11 feels like too much, more than 9 levels and spell levels become insanely granular and sounds like harder to book keep.

That's generally how I've felt about it too. But healing Clerics did sort of bridge between vancian and spontaneous. My party's Favored Soul healer is stupid good atm.

And yes, it's sad that designers can't seem to separate A from B when it comes to vancian and spontaneous casting.
 

Treebore

First Post
I am sorry but you will have to tell me how to differentiate between a 20th level spell and a 30th level spell. That is just silly imo. The only way I can see that as a possibility is if you have 20 different versions of the same spell as opposed to one version and it scales in some fashion (memorize at a higher level for more damage or auto scales based on caster level). I vote for going back to 7 spell levels + 0 level (illusionist, cleric and druid style) for all casters. 30 spell levels is not good.

Really? Well I am glad your not on the design team. Scaling spells is not hard, even to spread them out over 30 levels instead of 18. As well as slowing down acquisition of them.

A large part of the problem with spell casters is not only how powerful the spells are, but how many of them can be cast. Slow down acquisition and power escalation and you make it easier to deal with the highest level spells.

If WOTC sticks with the current XP per level costs more games will get into the higher levels faster, and since they will be easier to deal with, and be more balanced with non spell casters, more DM's will actually run such games rather than stop them because they don't want to deal with the power level issues. So I think it would be very smart of WOTC to make higher level play more viable. The only way to do that is slow down power escalation and rules bloat. Spreading it all out over 30 levels would go a long ways towards making that happen.

So spread out the level 0 to 3 spells over the first 10 levels, spread out level 4 to 6 over the 11th to 20th levels, and the rest over the last 10.

Very possible, and relatively easy, to do.

Mearls has already addressed the challenges of higher level play, so if they want to make it more viable to run and play, they have to not front load the game so heavily, and spread out the power acquisition over more levels.

The question is, will it satisfy the people who "I want it NOW!" enough to have them become interested in playing a game, with the same character, for 30 levels instead of the 8 to 12 levels most game groups currently play?

With the current power escalations, most games never get into really high levels. Those of us who go above 12th level are the exception, not the rule. So why not design the game to make more games much more likely to go all the way? Make it so more players will actually get to see 9th level spells, rather than never see them because so many DM's never want to deal with them?

Personally I think its a no brainer to encourage more GM's to get into running games into the higher levels. That is not going to happen with the power scaling models of the previous 4 editions. A new model is clearly needed.
 

griffonwing

First Post
The question is, will it satisfy the people who "I want it NOW!" enough to have them become interested in playing a game, with the same character, for 30 levels instead of the 8 to 12 levels most game groups currently play?

This is an easy fix. And they have already implemented it into 4e. Simply change the XP requirements for leveling. For those what want high-power endgame faster, make the requirements 1/4 to level up.

For example, instead of 1000 XP needed to level, only 250 needed.
 

hamstertamer

First Post
Since when did "nine spell levels plus cantrips" become the old school way? I don't remember there be anything about cantrips in "old school" D&D. 3e is not old school people. It's not the definitive D&D. It's just what 90% of people started with.


Cantrips have been in D&D since 1st edition. So yeah, it's "old school", your just speaking about something you don't know much about it seems.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Cantrips have been in D&D since 1st edition. So yeah, it's "old school", your just speaking about something you don't know much about it seems.

The ones in UA? That's 2nd decade, so not old-old school... ;)

In UA was it that you didn't get the 4-cantrips unless you dropped a 1st level spell? And in 2nd wasn't it just a 1st level spell that let you do minor stuff for quite a while? Both of those seem more like a way of spending a 1st level spell slot than having separate a 0-level slot like in 3.X.
 

Zustiur

Explorer
With the current power escalations, most games never get into really high levels. Those of us who go above 12th level are the exception, not the rule. So why not design the game to make more games much more likely to go all the way? Make it so more players will actually get to see 9th level spells, rather than never see them because so many DM's never want to deal with them?

Though there's an important side question here. WHY don't people play past 12th? Is it just because of wizards? I reckon there might be more to it than that. Spreading spell tiers over more levels may not actually have the effect you describe.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The question is, will it satisfy the people who "I want it NOW!" enough to have them become interested in playing a game, with the same character, for 30 levels instead of the 8 to 12 levels most game groups currently play?

With the current power escalations, most games never get into really high levels. Those of us who go above 12th level are the exception, not the rule. So why not design the game to make more games much more likely to go all the way? Make it so more players will actually get to see 9th level spells, rather than never see them because so many DM's never want to deal with them?
Or why not just reduce the number of (playable) levels to the 12 or so that actually get played; leaving some higher-level design space for opponents and NPCs to use?
Treebore said:
Personally I think its a no brainer to encourage more GM's to get into running games into the higher levels. That is not going to happen with the power scaling models of the previous 4 editions. A new model is clearly needed.
The "sweet spot" in any edition is the run of levels where you've got some powers and a bit of resilience but you're still mortal and don't have the answer to everything. In 1e it runs from about 3rd-8th level in what really amounts to a 1-12 game; 3e made it about 4th-14th in a 1-20 game. This is where the game is the most fun, pure and simple. (this also answers the question asked by [MENTION=1544]Zustiur[/MENTION] above)

That said, there needs to be a range outside this optimum - low levels for the character and story buildup, and high for the rest of the world to use.

The best and easiest way to extend the sweet spot in play is to make each level take much, much, MUCH longer to get through than has become the modern norm.

Lan-"10 levels in an on-and-off 28-year career, and counting"-efan
 

Stormonu

Legend
Though there's an important side question here. WHY don't people play past 12th? Is it just because of wizards? I reckon there might be more to it than that. Spreading spell tiers over more levels may not actually have the effect you describe.

My guess is time and character/adventure/foe difficulty. It takes over a year to reach those levels in older versions (can't say how long in 4th) and the game gets both more complex and often difficult to survive at higher levels - there's more ways to die or overcome obstacles than one can keep in mind. Likewise, I've seen players get antsy to try playing something new after a year of "the same ol' thing" week after week.

The problem is, if you speed it up, you spend less time with your character as-is (it can be difficult to know how to use a character when how he/she works in the game changes every couple of sessions) and possibly more time doing leveling calculations than playing. Faster leveling isn't going to necessarily fix anything, unless the change creates only minor changes and requires little or no decision-making at each level up. If you've got to recalculate HP, saves, attack bonus, damage and powers/spells at every level up, you're better off making those kind of changes at a slower interval. If, perhaps you only got +1 hp per level (and the other stats changed, say every 4 levels), you could do faster leveling without much problem.
 

Falling Icicle

Adventurer
Warlocks in 3.5 had 4 "grades" of spells: least, lesser, greater and dark. I'd love if they did something like that in Next. I think 11 levels of spells is just too granular, and I like it better when the various "levels" of spells have names instead of numbers. That, and it helps keep the spells from scaling out of control. When you have 11 spell levels, and each needs to be siginificantly better than the last, it's pretty much inevitable that high level spellcasters will become gods.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I never understood why spell levels never matched up with the actual game levels. It just makes it needlessly confusing. 10th level? 10'th level spell access! 6th level? 6th level spell access! It's so simple!

It's not that simple :D

I mean, of course it looks simple to put it in your way, i.e. wizards of level N casts spells of level N.

But then you have to put it into the perspective of game design. And here you have plenty of interconnected issues to keep in mind, for example (a) how "granular" you want the character advancement to be, (b) how well you can separate spell effects in a vertical hierarchy, (c) how much difference you want to allow in characters of the same class e.g. in term of spells known, (d) how much space in the book can you allocate for a number of spells, and certainly more.

I could guess that Gygax in the early drafts of D&D might have considered your idea as the most natural one, but changed it later to "one new level of spells every more than one class level" as a result of assessing problems such as (a)-(c) above (maybe not (d) ).

With one-spell-level-per-class-level, you either have a too big step in power and/or complexity of wizards when they level up, or you have instead too much granularity in spells plus too few spells at each spell level, leading to wizards player having too few choices, which can be compensated by designing many more spells but then it's a design cost and leads to problem (d).

Overall it becomes a serious design restriction. I'd rather change the name "spell level" to something else than restrict design this way.
 

Sadrik

First Post
Scaling spells is not hard, even to spread them out over 30 levels instead of 18. As well as slowing down acquisition of them.

Put this way I think you are making more sense. Rather than having 30 actual spell levels you are restating one of the things I mentioned in the first post, about spreading the goods out more to allow for powerful spell effects to come a little later. I think very few people argue that powerful spell effects should not be part of the game. But the level that casters get them could be argued.

One of the things that plagued 3e was that the spell effects at high level were taken from earlier editions where saving throws worked different. When your character got high level it made you much more resistant to effects. In 3e the assumption was that spell DCs should scale roughly equally with saves. Of course some builds created insane save DCs and if targeting a bad save, it all but automatic. The flat math of 5e will combat this issue. However, point is, those high level spell effects were designed with the idea that high level monsters and PCs would be able to resist them at a high clip. That assumption has changed with 3e and 4e and now 5e. If characters will not innately save better then in my estimation something else has to change. I think pushing some of the more powerful effects into higher levels is the clear solution. Granting new spell levels every three character levels as expressed in my first post for example, in lieu of every two character levels.
 

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