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D&D 5E I want a return to long duration spells in D&D Next.


Another one of the many things I didn't like about 4th edition was the short duration spells. I want a return to spells with durations like round/level, minute/level, hour/level, concentration/+2 rounds etc.... I hated that most all spells had the "end of your next turn", "beginning of your next turn" etc durations. I don't mind some spells having short durations but I want a return of the longer duration ones.

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Another one of the many things I didn't like about 4th edition was the short duration spells. I want a return to spells with durations like round/level, minute/level, hour/level, concentration/+2 rounds etc.... I hated that most all spells had the "end of your next turn", "beginning of your next turn" etc durations. I don't mind some spells having short durations but I want a return of the longer duration ones.

Part of this was kept in the form of "sustain" effects.

But also, spells that do things without the caster needing to affect them is one of the sources of imbalance from older editions.

A spell that lasts more than one round without an effort on the part of the caster, essentially makes it as though the caster cast that spell again, for no cost. This effect is multiplicative, as more long-duration spells are cast, they continue to work while the caster casts more spells.

I agree that long-duration spells should exist, but they should require some continual upkeep on the part of the caster. An increasing DC Concentration check each round, a "sustain" requirement demanding the caster sacrifice certain actions to keep it working, and so on.

Also: spells should use a standard unit of measure. Minutes maybe, rounds, I don't care. But doing the conversions from one to the other is annoying and time consuming unless there is a very simple breakdown of time increments.
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Day long buffs became a real headache by higher levels in 3.5. If they are to be in the game, I'd like to see their proliferation tightly leashed. It wasn't much of a problem for the cleric to cast protection from evil or something at the start of each day, but I don't want a return to Persistent Spell spreadsheets every time the group delves into a dungeon.

Since splatbooks will inevitably breed in the dark places of the earth and come spilling forth in poorly vetted droves, my instinct is to avoid day-long buffs altogether. But they could be done well if the designers are very careful. For example, if a Vancian caster only had a dozen or so spell slots, ever, he'd be less likely to bust them by casting every buff on his spell list. I don't know if I'm on board with that design for the Vancian caster, but it is one way to deter buffing bookkeeping boredom.

You could limit spellcasters to a certain maximum number of ongoing spells at a time. If you can't cast a sixth buff without one of your previous five lapsing, buffs are kept to a minimum. You could also approach this from the other side and limit the number of spell effects that can be active on an individual, in the same way that most editions somehow limit the number of magical items a character can benefit from at once.

In summary, I'm not against long duration buffs per se, but they come with a lot of design challenges. There are ways to meet those challenges, but they probably require some new thinking about how magical buffs or magic in general are handled. I worry that the system could end up broken or simply very tedious if that is poorly executed.
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I want a return to spells with durations like round/level, minute/level, hour/level, concentration/+2 rounds etc....
I'm fine with rounds, minutes and concentration. Most of the hour/level buffs get into a type of playstyle where layering buffs becomes too important.

3.X had very standardized durations. Flipping idly through the 2e PHB, the durations are all over the place. Sure it's got rounds per levels and hours per level, but it's also got some interesting diversions. Disguise type spells with random/rolled durations . . . who knows when they'll wear off? An armor spell that lasts until you take a certain amount of damage.

I think I'd most like to see durations chosen specifically for each spell in order to fit the needs of the magic. How long should a mount spell last? 1hr/level? Or until you dismount?


First Post
I'm not a 4e fan, but I think they got this one right. I've always found the round/minute/hour duration buff spells a hassle to keep track of.

That said, I wouldn't mind long duration buffs if the duration is a day. So you're just giving up a slot to give yourself (or a party member) a bonus all day. If you do that consistently, there isn't much bookkeeping.

Rituals are a different beast, but I'd be happy if they avoided anything between "sustain" and "one day" for normal day-to-day magic.



Spell durations that are measured in terms of 6-second combat rounds make it more difficult to use those spells outside of combat. I think it also contributes to the "need" for a wizard to have something to do every round of combat.

In AD&D, sleep lasted 5 minutes per level. In Basic D&D, it was 40 to 160 minutes. By 3.5, it was down to 1 minute per level (and the target now gets a saving throw). In 4e, the target is slowed and then falls unconscious 50% of the time, with a 50% chance of waking up after 6 seconds.

In BD&D, if you cast sleep on a couple of guards outside of combat, you'd actually have time to do something while they were sleeping. The same goes in AD&D, though you might need to gain a couple of levels. In 3.5, you'd best tie them up unless you're already 10th level. In 4e, you're not even going to have time to tie them up unless your party members physically restrain them -- assuming the spell didn't just slow them down.

Hold person is another spell that used to have a lot of non-combat uses. In BD&D, its duration was 90 minutes. AD&D had it at 4 minutes + 1 minute per level. 3.5 brought it down to 1 round/level (and also made it only affect 1 creature instead of 3 or 4). If somebody wasn't listening and kept talking over you, you could hold them so they had to stand there and listen. At 6 seconds/level, you're mainly just able to paralyze a creature so you can tie it up.

Yes, it sucks when your PC is asleep or held in combat and you can't do anything while everyone else gets to take a turn. Not to harp on it, but if combat doesn't take 45 min to an hour and can be resolved in about 10 minutes, then it's not really that big a deal to be on the sidelines.

I much prefer long-term buff spells to ones that are measured in rounds. I especially hate the 4e "+X to attack/damage/defense until the start/end of your next turn" durations -- everyone in my group finds them a nightmare to keep track of. Bull's strength in 3.5 lasts 1 minute per level, or basically long enough for a single encounter. Better than having to track what the floating bonuses are on any particular round. I think I prefer the AD&D strength spell: it lasts 1 hour per level, and it gives a random bonus to strength (1d4 for magic-users, 1d6 for clerics & thieves, 1d8 for fighters). It caps at 18 strength, but allows fighter classes to improve exceptional strength for the duration of the spell. This spell won't make the cleric a better fighter than the fighter and it lasts long enough to be useful for both exploration and combat.

I don't see a need to have a buff spell for every ability score. I think that AD&D just had strength and friends, the latter of which boosted the caster's charisma score by 2d4 points for 1 minute per level to all those in the area of effect (they get a saving throw and if they succeed, the caster gets a 1d4 penalty instead). The buff spells for all six ability scores reeks of the whole "unnecessary symmetry" aspect that seemed to drive much of 3e design. Spells that enhance your own casting stat seem like a bad idea to me. Spells that buff derived stats (attack/damage rolls, AC, saves, skills, etc) are probably a better idea than spells that buff the base ability scores.

I also miss the old style charm person, whereupon an individual of average intelligence fails his saving throw is charmed and gets a new saving throw every 3 weeks to break the spell. It was great for world-building, but also great for PCs, as you could charm people in town and keep them friendly to you for a while. 3.5's 1 hour per level disappoints me as a DM, never mind if I were playing a wizard. If a 1st-level AD&D magic-user had charm person as his single spell per day and successfully cast it on a hobgoblin, then the player gets to meaningfully contribute to the game by interacting with their new friend and possibly playing it in combat so that I don't have to do it (so long as he's not making the hobgoblin do something stupid and suicidal).

If longer-term spell effects are deemed to be unbalancing, it would make sense that a caster cannot regain use of that spell slot until the spell is ended. For example, the wizard's 1st-level spell slot is required to maintain the charm person spell over the course of days or weeks. Unless the spell is broken or he ends the spell effect willingly, he can't prepare/memorize a spell in that slot.


Long duration buffs or spells as per 3rd ed are not something I miss at all. I quite like the idea of buffs being a accompanying short term benefit as in the case of some 4th ed spells - eg divine glow. That said I would like to see the option of longer term benefits in the forms of rituals.


Yeah, I'd agree with Incenjucar on this. Anything that's in the 1 hour/level territory becomes a de facto magic item by about 10th level. Too powerful.

I'd say that anything that has a duration longer than a single encounter should be a ritual. You don't necessarily have to have GP costs, that's a bit lame. But, it shouldn't be a case where you get up in the morning, Heroes Feast and buff the party six ways from Sunday and then start your day.

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