D&D 5E [5E] To Vance or not to Vance - That is the Question


First Post
The options should be "no" and "hell no". I don't mind that you can only cast a limited number of spells per encounter (well, not really, I like 4th edition's idea of an at-will go-to spell). But having to prepare spells ahead of time is not a good game mechanic because it's too easy to pick the wrong thing (the only thing worse than being weak is being irrelevant). In the minority of cases where it is somehow useful to the narrative rituals are a better game mechanic and fill the need adequately.
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First Post
Using a Vancian spell system was a way of limiting the power or at least the flexibility of spell casters in earlier editions. It only takes one paragraph to change a Vancian system to Spell Point system. You don't need pages in a splat book to do that, but you could create more elaborate systems for those who want the increase in complexity. The Vancian system is a good place to start. It appeals to those who like older editions and it is easily changed.

I wonder how many of the complaints about the increased power of spell casters come from those who don't like Vancian casting? Of course when you remove the restriction of spell preparations it makes the caster more powerful.

Partially agreed...

on the other hand: the greatest thing about wizards was actually the aquisition od spells. Roll the dice to see if you learn them (of course 85% or more was the cool number). Gather as many spells as possible.

I think this can be combined with rituals:
Why should it impossible to cast any spell you like slowly and fast.

You can prepare some rituals at the morning, so you can cast them very fast during combat... lets call it memorizing, the rest needs to be cast with a minute casting time... the new heroic tier rituals are spot on

An I don´t understand why it should be impossible to cast a fireball out of your book withh the expenditure of some components... like bat guano and sulfur and need a few rounds to cast it...


I don't like Vancian spellcasting. That said, some people love it and won't play D&D without it, so I'd be shocked if it didn't exist in dndnext.

I'm guessing they'll try for something like the wizard vs. sorcerer from 3e, but I'll bet that there will be both a Vancian and non-Vancian wizard. They'll effectively be two different classes, but I think the name "wizard" has meaning for players and they'll want to be able to play a wizard even if they don't want Vancian spellcasting.

This is where I'm guessing the modularity will come in. How they pull it off while retaining game balance is a very hard question. I hope that we don't go back to the days of linear warriors, quadratic wizards. Is that something that's seen as a problem or a desirable feature by people who prefer pre-4e D&D? Would folks who like Vancian spellcasting still want a game where wizards have roughly the same impact on combat as fighters do at both 1st level and 20th level?


First Post
I wonder how many of the complaints about the increased power of spell casters come from those who don't like Vancian casting? Of course when you remove the restriction of spell preparations it makes the caster more powerful.
4th ed. has the fewest complaints of any edition about magic vs. non-magic disparity in power.


Don't care for Vancian casting myself but it is icnonic and thus should be possible but I really like rituals and they should be retained but more integrated. Full blown traditional casting would remove rituals completely that would make me sad.


Community Supporter
While I understand Vancian spell casting is part of the history of D&D, it was always the part of the game that I house ruled out. I let my wizards cast any spell they knew but kept to the spells allowed per level per day. It made finding new spells exciting but prevented the whole resource managment, not having the right spell memorized problem. I think 4e had a decent balance of allowing access to at wills and limited powerful spells. Another option would be to look at Arcana unearthed with common, uncommon and rare spells.

I also want to add in my support for rituals. They open possibility for hedge wizards, the thief who knows a little magic and for those types of magic that are necessary for the game but not suited to taking up valuable spell slots for something you will need for combat or to keep you alive.

Greg K

Honestly, I don't want Vancian in 5e as the default nor do I want the 4e Power system to be either . I am tired of hundreds of spells/powers, many of which are only slightly different variations or combinations of bonuses to hit and/or AC.

In my opinion, it is time to unify how powers are built and give a full system for building spells rather than many spells with just minor differences (bonus or appearance) taking up space in books to pad them out. Give me a list of powers similar to Savage Worlds, Hero System, M&M 2e, Tri-stat. I'd go with a power list similar to Hero or M&M2e with separate generic bolt, blast, and burst as in Savage Worlds using 4e Keywords M&M Descriptors Savage Worlds trappings/Hero Special Effects to customize the powers and describe what they look like.
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Not having the right spell was room for creativity... usually it meant how to creatively use the fireball spell...
it was fun though... when to hold back, when not. (I know the 5 min workday complaints will come...)
Actually 2nd editions was a lot more fun in that regard than 3.5th edition. (3rd edition was a middle ground, actually) As spells were usually written in a more open/pseudorealistic manner, you could apply creativity...

The spellbook of wizards in 4e is a farce however... when you have the choice between 1 of 2 spells, yoú usually take the favourite one. If you can chose 3 out of 10, you can actually make use of those choices...

Also in 2nd edition there was the spells and magic system for casters, where you paid spells with points and were able to enhance the spells, prepare more lower level spells and most importantly memorize a free spell of a level, which used up basicall 2 slots but allowed spontaneous casting of the right spell.

So IMHO if you do vancian spellcasting, do it right, and don´t pay just lip service to it. IMHO it is all or nothing in that regard. (With the exception of maybe options to allow for a bit more flexibility.)


First Post
I think they should scrap both systems. I like the idea of having some basic attacks as at-wills, but more useful ones should have some type of recoverable mana system so that you can't blast away all day with them, but you can cast a good spell more than 1/day.


I will say that I don't mind Vancian magic in the ritual context. If ritual magic is slow, I think it would be OK if certain classes had the ability to prepare (memorize) the ritual ahead of time, allowing that ritual to be cast in combat time.

Similarly, if other characters with the appropriate power source want to learn arcane attack spells/powers as slow casting rituals (perhaps as mass combat battlefield magic), that would all seem reasonable to me.



I want Vancian magic to be killed, beheaded, have a stake driven through its heart, and be buried at a crossroads! Is that going to happen? Of course not. So the best I can hope for is that the options will be something I can use right out of the box. And Rituals need to stay.


First Post
One thing I'd like to see in optional rules in some supplement is non-spell magic. Magic that isn't limited to a predefined effect and can be used to solve problems like skills can. Good rules for that kind of magic would enable many of my world ideas.



I put vancian magic on the same level as THAC0. It serves no good purpose, but acts as an ugly spot on the system.

I don't even like the 4E's vancian off-shoot elements.

So no, cheers.

I don't mind spellcasting having limits, but I don't like the Can to Can't structure. Perhaps something like a minus to hit with tricky spells, or .... anything other than vancian.

I see what you are saying about having the option, but can't imagine why anyone would actually want it.

I want 5E to draw upon all the good in all the editions. Vancian magic isn't one of them.


If the stated goal is to unify, then it must be possible (to a significant degree) for people who love Vancian to have it, and those who loathe it to avoid it. At the very, very least this means they'll try to make sure a person can play a character that matches their preference. For a great many people that will be enough. The next toughest crowd are those who won't play in a group where anyone, even monsters or other players, might possibly use the loathed rules. For this demographic, playing D&D then depends on finding a group that is willing to not use the loathed rule at all. This is certainly possible for many of the most polarizing rules, except in those areas where any gaming group is a rare find. Still, for the vast majority, it will probably be enough. Finally, there is the absolute toughest group of people who might in principle play D&D: those who won't play with a system that supports the loathed rule, even if it is actually avoided like the plague in some group. I have to believe there are very few people who would avoid a game table that forbids Vancian casting principally because the system allows Vancian casting. It'd be like me hating Incarnum so much that I wouldn't play at a 3.5 game where it will never be used. I won't say they don't exist, but as a marketable segment? No.

Personally, I think there is room for even building Vancian and non-Vancian casting into the same basic structure, without entirely separate systems (not that I'd object to that either). Start with a spell point system, for example, and let a character "memorize" spells that removes from the spell point pool, but adds bonus "effective" spell points that can only be used to cast the memorized spell. A caster can then spend all their spell points in this fashion every day, and totally emulate Vancian casting. For people who are bothered that their character could, in principle, not use this Vancian method, simply make a little feature they can take that says this caster must spend all its points every on memorization. Other people could remain totally spontaneous, as still others could find their own balance. That is how the Wizard in my homebrew system works, at least. (The other details of how spellcasting works in my game make sure that the Wizard doesn't end up with so many extra spell points they can spam with impunity.)

Personally, the improvement (IMHO, of course) I most hope for from spells in 5e is continuity. In all existing editions of D&D it bothers me that something like "Delayed blast fireball" is separate from "Fireball", and can even be learned without the latter. Metamagic in 3/3.5 eased my pain somewhat, but it was clunky for all but the most basic improvements. And the replacement of powers in 4e irked me even more. I would much rather that spells were base spells plus small trees of upgrades. It is scalable (the upgrades), avoids pointless repetition (a robust base spell list), and flexible (not every upgrade needs to be universal). And assuming learning new spells or upgrading existing ones comes from the same basic "pool" of character resources, whether a caster wants to master a very small set or dabble in lots of base spells could be their choice. Finally, if you want to emulate the old-style of spells (treating a base spell + given upgrades as a unique spell), it is a paragraph of rules at most. To me that meets what appears to be the relevant design goals of the 5e team.
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That "isn’t and can’t be" is a direct plea to shade answers in a particular direction.

If that isn't your intent, mea culpa...but in that case, you need to be more careful about how you phrase things.

For future reference, the phrase "I would posit" roughly translates to "the following is my own opinion, feel free to debate it."


First Post
I have no problem with going to a more V magic system, as long as casters are not gonna have to fall back on a dagger, staff or crossbow. I think those days are gone, and should be.


Staff member
For future reference, the phrase "I would posit" roughly translates to "the following is my own opinion, feel free to debate it."

"Posit" has many definitions- that one included.

IME, in law, that statement in the OP would draw an objection for leading, and in advertising/marketing research, that slanted phraseology would get tossed from a survey for suggesting the answer. It taints your data pool and resultant data.

Epic Threats

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