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%

I've went back and forth on this a lot. What I ended up deciding is that I don't want classes to mechanically all feel the same. I want there to be categories within the classes, and within those categories I want different takes on similar ideas. At least in part.

Every caster casting the same way is literally just having the same class with different flavor like 6 times.
 

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Laurefindel

Legend
Joining my voice to those who say that spellcasting mechanics have already been unified.

All spellcasters cast spells: prepackage magic of limited versatility. No class perform free-form magic.

All spells have a duration in time measured in rounds, minutes, or hours; not « until sundown », « or until someone sneezes », or until you learn to love another » etc, and no specific class modifies that.

All spells belong to one of the eight school of magic. No specific class escapes that.

All spells have either verbal, somatic, or material components. No class brings other components such as « the moon must be visible », « the tide must be at its lowest », or « must bathe in blood » mechanics.

All spells require a spell slot of equal level or higher. Some spells do have enhanced effects with higher spell slots but that is not class-exclusive or class-related.

Spellcasting stat differs between Cha, Int, and Wis, but the calculation for attack rolls and saves are the same for all classes.

All classes that use the same spell cast it at the same spell level. Fireball is always a 3rd level spell if you have access to it. No class casts fireball as a 2nd level spell for example.

Spell slot progression have been unified, only, some classes advanced at half speed in the progression (or third speed with arcane tricksters and eldritch knights), but the progression is the same. Warlock are the exception here; I’ll give you that.

In addition to warlock, there are some differences, discrepancies, and incoherences, such as…

Some class have the ability to cast ritual spells without spending a spell slot by increasing casting time, while others don’t. That’s one discrepancy. This could be unified to all spell casting classes. Similarly, some spellcasting classes (rangers and paladins) don’t have default access to cantrips, another category of spells that do not use spell slots. That’s indeed another discrepancy.

The artificer has a weird exception when it comes to multiclassing. That’s another class-specific discrepancy.

Classes are either spell known or spell prepared. Wizards must prepare spells within their spells known. Among the spell known classes, progression is not uniform. There’s potential for uniformisation here.

as for the rest, the fluff is different, the narrative is different, but the mechanics are the same really.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I'm fine with the spell mechanics for D&D the way they are now, for the most part. Wouldn't mind making things a little more mechanically distinct, but no big swings.

At the same time, I'm not against a unified system. I've played a good bit of Savage Worlds where the difference is in what is called "trappings" which allows the player to define how their magic looks, where it comes from, how they got it and any sort of limitations or requirements. It all falls to roleplay on the player's side and how they want the magic to look/work/act, but mechanically it's all the same underneath. If it's bland, its on the player's/GM shoulders because they chose to make it that way.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
I mean we could try this once D&D gets an actually good spellcasting system, but right now, having everyone have either the same terrible twist on doing something unspeakable on Jack Vance's grave or the slightly improved but for the fact they stopped trying Warlock... no thanks.
 

Horwath

Legend
Casting is same across all classes, just bonus spell known or spell slot here and there. maybe also the pace of getting spell levels.

D&D, like Dragon Age RPG could really use only one mage class.

rest are just feats to pick from:
ability bonus to spell damage(all or only cantrips), metamagic, extra spells known(domains, bloodlines, pacts), damage shield(abjurer), extra healing, better summons, bonuses on concentration, etc...
just a bunch of feats that anyone could take with some minor pre-requirements.

if they kept unified subclass progression, levels 3,6,10,14,(18?) you could just add feat slots at those levels and turn most if not all subclass features into (half)feats.

just keep it on sorcerer level of spells know, to keep the versatility down.

there is ritual caster feat to pick if some mage want to utilize rituals.
 


Each class, caster or not, should play differently from others that nominally do the same thing as they. From my viewpoint, all the casters are already the same, because they're using the same spells (down to spell level!) and VSM restrictions and spell slots are interchangeable between classes, etc.

If anything, a prepared caster like Wizard's built-in different feature is that they will have no theme (seeing how they'll get all the spells), and inherent blandness is not exactly a good feature to have (it's just obviously more powerful than, you know, having to choose your spells).
 
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DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I thought Bards were about creativity and spontaneous inspiration, rather than figuring things out - that sounds more like call on their internal wellsprings than druids and rangers. Druids are closer to Clerics in that they invoke and channel power from outside themselves
Bards access their magic through music, which is both their vocal and somatic components. Which to me is no different than Wizards having to do their complicated hands motions and verbal words of power. You also have to have to figure out and "learn" the magic of music (the experimentation part) just like Wizards do. If Bards got magic from within themselves, none of the music stuff would be necessary. They'd just be a Sorcerer who plays a fiddle while casting-- the Bard would be a Sorcerer subclass in that case, with just an odd set of verbal and somatic components.

Druids and Clerics do get their magic from outside themselves, but where that magic comes from is different-- the land around them for Druids, and the Outer Planes and a god therein for Clerics. And that was the reasoning for my separating the two.

Please note these are just my opinions.
 
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TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
Bards access their magic through music, which is both their vocal and somatic components. Which to me is no different than Wizards having to do their complicated hands motions and verbal words of power. You also have to have to figure out and "learn" the magic of music (the experimentation part) just like Wizards do. If Bards got magic from within themselves, none of the music stuff would be necessary. They'd just be a Sorcerer who plays a fiddle while casting-- the Bard would be a Sorcerer subclass in that case, with just an odd set of verbal and somatic components.

Druids and Clerics do get their magic from outside themselves, but where that magic comes from is different-- the land around them for Druids, and the Outer Planes and a god therein for Clerics. And that was the reasoning for my separating the two.

Please note these are just my opinions.
For sure. I mean, you could also say that all Bards are selected for magical inspiration by one of the Nine Muses, who are powerful extraplanar entities of fate and creativity. And thus Bards use Pact Magic like Clerics and Warlocks.

More than almost any other mechanical subsystem, how you set up your spellcasting systems (and the narratives behind them) are an expression of your campaign's cosmology. Which is vitally important considering that the differences in "magic worldbuilding" are typically how fantasy stories differentiate themselves from each other.
 

ezo

Where is that Singe?
Each class, caster or not, should play differently from others that nominally do the same thing as they. From my viewpoint, all the casters are already the same, because they're using the same spells (down to spell level!) and VSM restrictions and spell slots are interchangeable between classes, etc.

If anything, a prepared caster like Wizard's built-in different feature is that they will have no theme (seeing how they'll get all the spells), and inherent blandness is not exactly a good feature to have (it's just obviously more powerful than, you know, having to choose your spells).
Yeah, the amount of overlap is ridiculous. Even though we had to make some tough choices on who got which spell, having three distinct spell lists for arcane, divine, and primal is very defining.
 

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