D&D General A Unified Spellcasting Mechanic for 5E?

How do you feel about a unified spellcasting mechanic?

  • Bad idea. Spellcasters need this distinction, otherwise they're too similar.

    Votes: 29 49.2%
  • Bad idea, for different reason(s).

    Votes: 5 8.5%
  • Meh, too much work. Those mechanics are hardwired in the game; best to leave it alone.

    Votes: 6 10.2%
  • Good idea. Hopefully someone is working on it right now, I'd like to see it.

    Votes: 11 18.6%
  • You know, I already have something like that in my home game.

    Votes: 5 8.5%
  • First of all, how dare you.

    Votes: 3 5.1%


Limit Break Dancing (He/They)
In another thread, folks are discussing the different mechanics of different spellcasters. Specifically how the wizard's spellcasting ability is different from the sorcerer's, even though most of their spells are the same. And while that discussion is leaning more in the direction of "innate magical ability" vs. "learned arcane secrets," it got me thinking about the mechanical differences between the spellcasting character classes--spontaneous vs. prepared, in this case.

The sorcerer, for example, can spontaneously cast their spells from a short, curated list. They learn spells more slowly, and the types of spells a sorcerer learns are just as important to the character's "build" as their other class features. The wizard has a larger spell list, but it's also carefully curated and requires a bit of forethought: the wizard needs to anticipate what spells might be needed and then prepare them for the day. Clerics and druids have no such restriction on their spell libraries--they can pray for any spells available to their class--but like the wizard, they need to plan ahead and guess which spells they might need to prepare. Warlocks only have two spell slots, and they're all of the same level, and a very small list of spells to choose them from, but they recharge after a short rest.

It's confusing, right? Far more confusing than it needs to be, anyway, especially for new DMs.

Being able to cast spells in different ways is really important to some people, because it helps define the character class...sets it apart from the rest. What's the point in having 8 different classes if the only difference is their spell list? You'd be better off just having one spellcasting class called "Mage" or whatever, right? Well, that's kind of my point, except replace the words "spell list" with "spellcasting mechanic." Whether your character learned magical ability from a book, begged it from their deity, or inherited it from grandpa--whether you cast it from memory or from your bloodstream, from a long spell list or from a short one--at the end of the day you're still casting Fireball.

Anyway, I thought I'd start a different thread about it instead of trying to derail the other thread. What are your thoughts on this topic?
Last edited:

log in or register to remove this ad


I am in that second camp. IF you're going to have multiple spellcasting classes, for the love of Pete, differentiate their magic as deep as you can go.

But there's also an argument to be made for fewer classes. Try explaining the difference between warlock, sorcerer, and wizard to a brand new player... IME that conversation begins with narrative, but as soon as I cross over into mechanical differences I hit a wall of cognitive dissonance... I don't know, maybe others have had more luck there than me.

Generally, I think IF we are going to all the trouble to define these classes as meaningful narrative/mechanical things that are distinct from each other... might as well not half-ass that and REALLY differentiate them.


B/X Known World
Yeah, absolutely too much. They should all work the same. Pick one of sorcerer, warlock, or wizard as use that as the basis for all spellcasters. The classes can have different spell lists and learn spells in different ways, but the actual mechanics of casting should be unified.

I'd honestly prefer a spell points / mana system. Split the combat and non-combat spells. Make non-combat spells costly rituals. It would make things way easier to balance.
Last edited:


One day, I hope to actually play DnD.
5e already appears to be afraid of having any additional mechanics, we don’t need to consolidate and homogenise some of the few existing ways we currently have to experience mechanically different playstyles

Part of the reason people hated the halfcaster warlock in the 5.5 playtest was it’s removal of its distinctive pact casting.


For the universal spellcasting mechanic, I nominate the Warlock chassis, with always-on invocations and slots converting to Short Rest spell points.

Eliminate spells per Long Rest.

A fullcaster gains level + 1 points. Each spell costs its slot: Fireball costs 3 points. Max spending is level/2 round up. Points refresh per Short Rest.

This Short Rest system balances robustly. The Short Rest points stay fewer at a time, and avoid hoarding, and prevent supernovas that can trivialize an encounter.

When both casters and martials have features that are always-on or per Short Rest, they can keep pace with each other, and stay balanced with each other.

Partcasters gain spell points at a lower rate.

The Short Rest spell point casters are so much better for the game engine than the slots per Long Rest casters.


Umm... I'm confused. 5e already has a unified spell casting mechanic. Wizards, Sorcerer, Clerics, Warlocks, etc. - they all use Spell Slots. And spells cast using those slots are resolved in the same ways - either an attack roll (for rays, etc.) or a spell save.

Now, how the spells get into the slots varies. And each class has different abilities in addition to their spellcasting that use wildly different mechanical systems (Druid and Warlock, Ima lookin at you.). But their spellcasting doesn't change much.

Now the difference between spell slots and spell points - that's a different spellcasting mechanic.


Also, split off "rituals" into a separate silo, unrelated to spells, that anyone can attempt using ability checks.


A suffusion of yellow
Unified only if its Skill based casting, get rid of spell slots
As is differentiation is better, through Sorcerer makes for a better Wizard, and Warlock makes for a better Sorcerer (ie if we get rid of one Arcane caster class - my vote is current wizard)

Voidrunner's Codex

Remove ads