D&D 5E How should spells be organized?

How should the spell descriptions be sorted (choose up to three)?

  • The top level sort should be alphabetical

    Votes: 16 53.3%
  • The top level sort should be by level

    Votes: 12 40.0%
  • The top level sort should be by school

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The second level sort should be alphabetical

    Votes: 9 30.0%
  • The second level sort should be by level

    Votes: 2 6.7%
  • The second level sort should be by school

    Votes: 1 3.3%
  • There shouldn't be a second level sort

    Votes: 9 30.0%
  • The third level sort should be alphabetical

    Votes: 1 3.3%
  • The third level sort should be by level

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The third level sort should be by school

    Votes: 1 3.3%
  • There shouldn't be a third level sort

    Votes: 17 56.7%
  • Other

    Votes: 5 16.7%

jgsugden

Legend
Personally, if I were rebuilding spells, I'd organize them alphabetically - primarily because I'd eliminate the concept of spell level as we know it today. Instead, I'd have a spell have rules for what happens when you cast it at different levels from cantrip to 9th level.

For example, I's have a spell called Fire Blast. It would work as follows when cast at these levels:

Cantrip: Firebolt.
1st: Burning Orb: Attack roll: Deals 4d6 to a target and sets the target on fire (action to snuff, d6 per round til snuffed).
2nd: Scorching Ray
3rd: Fireball
4th: Immolation (yes, I lowered the level)
5th: Explosive Blast (like fireball, but 6d6 fire and 6d6 force in a 25 foot radius. Everything in the blast is pushed to the edge of the blast if they fail the save)
6th: Dual Fireballs, can overlap
7th: Delayed Blast Fireball (increase base to 15d6)
8th: Fiery Implosion (like Explosive Blast above, but 9d6 fire and 9d6 force in a 30 foot radius, then the targets are pulled to the epicenter and knocked prone if they fail the save).
9th: Meteor Swarm

There might also be another series called Illusory Trick:

Cantrip: Minor Illusion
1st: Silent Image
2nd: Phantasmal Force
3rd: Major Image
4th: Augmented Phantasmal Killer (As Phantsmal Force, but 4d10 damage instead of 1d6).
5th: Mislead
6th: Programmed Illusion
7th: Project image
8th: Illusory Dragon (genericized to allow for other creature types)
9th: Weird

This would give characters more thematics as they pick a series of spells rather than a single spell. Sorcerers might get 2 spells to start and an additional at levels 5, 11 and 17. A wizard might get two plus one per point of intelligence bonus, with an additional one at levels 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15 and 17.
 

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Since you’re planning on managing spells differently than base 5e, I would ask how monster spells will work? Will monsters use pc spells or have their own? How much of the spell’s rules will appear in the stat block?

If dms need to reference spells during play, they need to be able to find them quickly and easily which will be much harder if they have to find the right class and level section first.

If everything the dm could want to know about the snake-priest’s spells is in the monster entry, then you can organize solely for player use - in which case class and level breakdowns make sense.
 


I find that when I search for spells, it's usually because I'm searching for spells for a class of a specific level (choosing a newly acquired spell on level up for example). So by level first, then alphabetically. So the way the Player's Handbook currently organises spells is perfect to me: look up the list of spells for a given class and level in the 'table of contents' at the front of the 'spells chapter', then get details by digging through the alphabetically listed spell descriptions.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
How can it be alphabetical and then by level? No two spells are going to have the same name, so if you have a top level sort by alphabetical, that's it. There is no second or third level sort. Unless you're just talking about adding a list of the spells by level at the end.

I personally prefer a top level sort by level and a second level alphabetical sort, as it fits more closely with how I'd actually use the book as a player. You know you get to pick X new spells on a level up and you just got access to spell level Y, so let's flip to the section of the book with Y level spells and read until we find the spells we want to add.
Ok. By level and then alphabetical.

Strike that! Reverse it.
 

Micah Sweet

Level Up & OSR Enthusiast
It worked there because there were almost no cross-class spells, and npcs who weren’t part of a class didn’t get class spells. Monsters got abilities with the rules in the stat block and flavor (if any) in the writeup.

So long as more than one class can cast “protection from evil” that system doesn’t work out well.
There certainly were cross class powers though, under different names. A lot of powers did the same thing.
 

MatthewJHanson

Registered Ninja
Publisher
It comes down to this:

Class/Level is more helpful at character creation/leveling up
Alphabetically is more helpful during play.

I lean towards helpful during play since more time is spent gaming this way. I also have played Exalted, which sorts its charms (magic powers) for character creation rather than play and find it frustrating.

It would be nice to include aids for character creation though, such as a summary list by class and level, maybe with a short description and page numbers.
 

ichabod

Legned
Since you’re planning on managing spells differently than base 5e, I would ask how monster spells will work? Will monsters use pc spells or have their own? How much of the spell’s rules will appear in the stat block?

If dms need to reference spells during play, they need to be able to find them quickly and easily which will be much harder if they have to find the right class and level section first.

If everything the dm could want to know about the snake-priest’s spells is in the monster entry, then you can organize solely for player use - in which case class and level breakdowns make sense.
That's a fair point. On the other hand, it is an electronic document, so they can find. On the gripping hand, spells aren't just mentioned where the description is, so that may not be very useful.
 

ichabod

Legned
It comes down to this:

Class/Level is more helpful at character creation/leveling up
Alphabetically is more helpful during play.

I lean towards helpful during play since more time is spent gaming this way. I also have played Exalted, which sorts its charms (magic powers) for character creation rather than play and find it frustrating.

It would be nice to include aids for character creation though, such as a summary list by class and level, maybe with a short description and page numbers.
I'm leaning toward helpful during play because I think that's when you need to be quick. You don't want to bog down combat, but people are more used to taking their time when they are leveling up. But if you're a player, you should know the class and level of spell you are looking up. It's the DM who is better off with alphabetical during play.

I like the idea of a summary list, but are you interested in the summary at the time of character creation, or the details? I can't remember creating a character clearly enough to decide. Although, I guess the summary can't hurt.
 

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
I much prefer alphabetical with no other sorting method for the descriptions. However, I also think it would be good to have spell lists similar to 3e which were by level, then school (I think), then alphabetical, with a single sentence describing the spell. That was much more useful to me than making the descriptions themselves sorted by level, school, description since it was something I could quickly skim through for spells before going to the spell description if I needed more detail.
 

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