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


First Post
Let's see:

*Spells usable on a per day basis
*Huge charts of spells known and spells per day of each level
*Magic that doesn't drain or harm the user
*Magic that always works and always works as intended
*Assumed access to all kinds of high-power spells by virtue of level


Nope, I wouldn't miss any of those things.

Magic should be magical. It should be hard to cast, dangerous to everyone, and it most certainly should not be balanced by a daily allotment of spells. (4e did not fix anything by giving quasi-Vancian magic to all classes, even those without magic).

I don't mind seeing some form of Vancian magic pop up as an option, but I want magic taken in a new direction.

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Crazy Jerome

First Post
For me, the real question is not about whether or not to have Vancian magic (or spell points or any number of other variants). Rather, the question is what is the best magic system to use as a base, for which the other systems are then options for?

I'm not at all convinced that Vancian is the best choice for a base in a flexible system, and I don't think spell points are either. A streamlined hybrid of both (something simplified from Arcana Evolved and adapted for 4E's take on powers) might work. But I am definitely not sure. :D


If the stated goal is to unify, than it must be possible (to a significant degree) for people who love Vancian to have it, and those who loathe it to avoid it.
This statement to me is the core of the issue. I can understand that some people love Vancian magic and cannot conceive of D&D as having anything other than Vancian magic. That's fine, but that should not be forced upon the many people, such as myself, who cannot stand it as a magic system just to make the Vancian-fans happy.


Community Supporter
While I wouldn't mind a pure Vancian-type magic system for magic-users, I really dislike the idea of a magic user having to resort to a sling or darts once he has used his last spell for the day. For me, a magic user *always* has something magical to do, even if it is a simply infinite use cantrip that does 1d4 damage or the like.

If there must be a Vancian system, build in a spell or two that a magic user can *always* use.


I like Vancian magic. With all the modularity they are talking for 5e though, I suspect there will be options for other magic systems as well. Pathfinder has their Words of Power which can be mixed with other characters who might prefer the Vancian form of magic.


Regarding the power of spellcasters, I'd be fine with a wizard who's twice as powerful as a fighter so long as the wizard requires double the xp the fighter does to level. ;) All joking aside, I think they should be balanced around the idea that they do different things well. Spells that impinge on other classes, such as Stoneskin and Tenser's Transformation, should be left on the cutting room floor.

As for the rest, I expect we'll see at least one vancian magic-user in the new edition. I also think there will be at-wills for vancian casters in some form or another, be they 3e reserve feats or weaker memorizable spells that aren't expended after casting. I believe vancian casters will have less "daily" spell slots per day at high levels than their 3e equivalents, simply because I expect it will be necessary to balance them against other classes. That's not necessarily a bad thing though, as pro-vancian players often seem to prefer the necessity of conserving spells (IME).

I hope (and expect) that there will be numerous non-vancian casters as well. I think that Essentials demonstrated that the design team is capable of creating balanced classes with mechanically varied power structures, so it's feasible. I expect they'll have to go much farther with it than Essentials did, of course, but as a proof of concept I think it works.


First Post
If one of the design goals is to support more styles of play, then giving a spell caster "all magic - all the time" degrades the Grim and Gritty style of play. It also bumps up the power creep factor of spell casters that has drawn so many complaints.

I can understand the desire of having casters that never resort to mundane methods and with a simple sidebar that can be supported. The Sorcerer takes a step in that direction and the Warlock even more and I have enjoyed playing those, but I still like the challenge of having to manage resources carefully instead of just going nova at every encounter.

I like those moments in movies like Alien, and so many classic Westerns where your ammunition is running low and you don't know if the heroes are going to make it. Even more so in a game because sometimes you just bite off more than you can handle.

Sometimes you just run out of Awesome.
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Victoria Rules
One house rule I experimented with back with Basic was no spellbooks: if you could cast 5 1st level spells a day, you could just choose them from the spells you knew as the situation arose.
This is exactly what I've done for my current 1e-variant campaign: they all work like 3e Sorcerers.

Jury's still out on whether it's overpowered or not, but it gets around the problem of not memorizing the right spell. (I personally don't like pre-memorization at all)

Basically, I don't mind "fire and forget" so much as "You know a spell that is perfect for this situation, but you memorized something completely useless."
Spells absolutely have to remain fire-and-forget. Even if it means they run out of spells now and then; it's not the end of the world if a caster has to use a melee weapon for a change. :) Fire-and-forget serves to rein them in, at least a bit.



Staff member
Spells absolutely have to remain fire-and-forget. Even if it means they run out of spells now and then; it's not the end of the world if a caster has to use a melee weapon for a change. Fire-and-forget serves to rein them in, at least a bit.

Yup. Wizards + Crossbows = fun (for me, at least).*

A Wizard who actually runs out of spells is kinda like Green Lantern after 24 hours and 2 minutes, or Supeman in a kryptonite tanning bed- it's a point of dramatic tension.

* of course, as I've pointed out numerous times on these boards, Wizards in our group tend to use crossbows, etc. to avoid running out of spells...


Wasn't "yes, but only if you want to" available since 3.0, at least for arcanists? Wizards for those who liked Vancian casting, sorcerers for those who didn't.

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