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

WizarDru

Adventurer
I would like the return of long-duration spells.

I fully recognize the issue of confusing durations, burdensome bookkeeping and meta-game issues that some of these things can generate. Having played a 3/3.5E game from 1st to 30th level, I DIG. But I find the spell durations and magical effects of 4E go too far in the other direction. They render spells weak to make them regular effects or so combat focused that much of the utility of spells (and, dare I say it, their magic) is diminished or totally removed.

In large part, what I'm hearing as criticisms of long-duration spells is really people complaining about long duration BUFFS. Lord knows that 4E's tons of stacking and variable effects and statuses do absolutely nothing in my mind to relieve that burden. When I look at a target on the field who is bloodied, slowed, flanked, currently cannot take opportunity attacks, is cursed, has a mark, takes -2 to attacks until Player X's next turn, is taking 2 points of ongoing fire damage, has one power that may recharge on his turn and is poisoned? I'm not feeling like 4E has actually simplified my game as much as I'd hoped.

The issue of calculating and recalculating bonuses and attacks is in all versions. 4E's math is mostly simplified, but when one of my players has to sit reviewing her sheet to make sure it's correct and another one still uses an Excel spreadsheet....I don't think we really saw a shift in my group. I fully agree that buffs in 3E and many spells did become permanent effects by high-level. The mage had a permanent polymorph, elemental protections and stat buffs that he renewed once or twice daily, as needed. And, of course, one Dispel or Greater Dispel could potentially throw all those calculations off.

I can understand wanting to remove those effective perma-buffs, as we called them. What I DON'T like is transforming so many spells into things like rituals, making them more like one-shot magic items that often take so long to use as to be no fun at all. Ritual use is so rare in the game that it was actually an event when the party 10th level wizard broke one out last game. That seems odd, to me. Spells with non-combat applications seem to have taken it on the chin in 4E and I'd like to see something more like a hybrid of 3E and 4E's approach. More diversity in spell options, with less problematic 24-hour Greater Polymorphs and Improved Strengths and what have you.

I suspect removing or limiting variable spell durations would go a long way to addressing those criticisms.
 

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Mishihari Lord

First Post
For the most part I like the shorter duration spells, and this is coming from someone who wouldn't play 4E on a bet.

Long term buff spells in particular I don't care for. Because they're boring. A +2 to strength or whatever all day just isn't interesting. You don't make a decision during an encounter with regard to the spell. Rather then, frex, a +2 to a stat all day, it would be much more interesting to have a +10 to a stat for just a few rounds, when you really, really need it.

The one 4E duration I really don't like is the save every round to make the spell go away. I'm okay if the enemy makes an initial save and my spell doesn't do anything. It's frustrating, but I'm used to it. But if the initial save fails, I want the spell to have a significant impact.
 

Tony Vargas

Legend
I want a return to spells with durations like round/level, minute/level, hour/level, concentration/+2 rounds etc.... I don't mind some spells having short durations but I want a return of the longer duration ones.
One problem with X/level durations is that they could spill over into the next order of magnitude at high level. A 2round/level spell might be intended for combat, but once it reached a 20 minute (1e round were minutes) duration, it might have a lot of non-combat or systematic applications.

That aside, though, one thing 3.0 did well (that 3.5 actually undid), was to give a lot of basic 'buff' spells quite long durations. This made buffing non-casters an efficient use of spell resources, especially at mid levels, and thus caused some of the optimized casters' 'excess power' to flow to those lesser classes. Not fantastic, not robust balance, but an incentive to keep the classes working together and viable/relevant.

Given the return of vancian casting, the corresponding return of long-duration basic buff spells like "Bull's Strength" would be a boon.
 

Hussar

Legend
WizardDru said:
I can understand wanting to remove those effective perma-buffs, as we called them. What I DON'T like is transforming so many spells into things like rituals, making them more like one-shot magic items that often take so long to use as to be no fun at all. Ritual use is so rare in the game that it was actually an event when the party 10th level wizard broke one out last game. That seems odd, to me. Spells with non-combat applications seem to have taken it on the chin in 4E and I'd like to see something more like a hybrid of 3E and 4E's approach. More diversity in spell options, with less problematic 24-hour Greater Polymorphs and Improved Strengths and what have you.

Totally agree here. If rituals are going to be the "go to" source for non-combat magic, then for the love of little bunnies, don't stash a half dozen pages in the very back of the PHB and hope that someone stumbles across them. Take the time to actually MAKE them important. Ritual Magic should be the next section after character classes. And maybe even add in a line or two in the chargen guidelines to call out, "Hey, after you pick you race and class, take a look at these very cool rituals that you can take if you take the Ritual Caster Feat.
 

FireLance

Legend
One possibility that just occurred to me might be to allow the spellcaster to extend the duration by extending the casting time for some spells. Specifically, certain spells might have two casting times: a shorter casting time with a reduced effect and duration, and a longer casting time that could grant a greater effect or a longer duration.

For example, if you cast invisibility as a standard action, maybe it lasts only 1 round, or you need to spend a standard action to maintain it. However, if you spend 10 minutes to cast it, you don't need to maintain it and it lasts until the end of your next extended rest or until the target breaks invisibility by attacking.

Similarly, charm and polymorph could have longer-term effects if cast with a longer casting time (though for the latter, perhaps the option for the longer casting time would not apply for more powerful forms, making it more useful for disguise, stealth and exploration rather than a combat boost).
 

S

Sunseeker

Guest
One possibility that just occurred to me might be to allow the spellcaster to extend the duration by extending the casting time for some spells. Specifically, certain spells might have two casting times: a shorter casting time with a reduced effect and duration, and a longer casting time that could grant a greater effect or a longer duration.

For example, if you cast invisibility as a standard action, maybe it lasts only 1 round, or you need to spend a standard action to maintain it. However, if you spend 10 minutes to cast it, you don't need to maintain it and it lasts until the end of your next extended rest or until the target breaks invisibility by attacking.

Similarly, charm and polymorph could have longer-term effects if cast with a longer casting time (though for the latter, perhaps the option for the longer casting time would not apply for more powerful forms, making it more useful for disguise, stealth and exploration rather than a combat boost).

I agree. And I support the inverse too, cast a spell as a minor action for a reduced effect. Three Fireballs per turn? Sure, for 1d6 each.
 

Hussar

Legend
Kinda like that idea Firelance. Sort of a compromise between rituals and standard spells. You can turn standard spells into rituals simply by extending the casting time. Perhaps using feats, or not - could simply be a class feature. A fairly simple chart could give you time requirements for different effects - extended duration, extended area, that sort of thing.

Not sure how that would help the non-caster ritual casters though. It's not like fighters have spells that can be extended.
 

Hmm, some interesting points. I've played a lot of both 3.5, 4E & Pathfinder. If you had a ton of buffs, it could be more work to keep track of but it but there are ways to make it easier. Personal buffs are kept track of by each player for their character. Group buffs we wrote on a dry erase board with the total number of rounds; add a hash the beginning of each round. Also, for standard ability buffs (Say DEX for instance) you can "pre-calculate" your new bonuses with the buff included. Having played both ways, I preferred 3.5/PF to 4E. And NONE of the groups I played with ever had to stop a game to figure out buffs.

4E also severely weakened a lot of spells and made them virtually useless outside of combat. Invisibility comes to mind. In AD&D & 2E it lasted 24 hours. In 3.5 it was 1 min/LV. 4E, only 1 round. Rituals vs Spells: A spell should be a spell whether it's cast before, during or after combat. 1&2E had some last way too long, 3.5 & 4E shortened many of them too much. I'm hoping to see more of a happy medium in D&D Next. Rituals always just seemed to be too much of a pain in the butt to me personally.

RE Durations: "until the end of the encounter" is not a hard and fast number; to me, spell durations should improve with each level, in most cases anyway. It it lasts until the next encounter, great! Your DM will have to adjudicate how much game time passed between the end of the previous combat and the start of the new one. As I have played in games that were not completely "hack'n slash" this was rarely an issue. If we could figure out a way to avoid that roving band of orcs, we did so to achieve our objective without depleting our resources... you know, keep the big guns for the big encounter. Just my 2 CP

Invisibility in 4e lasts 1 round BUT you can sustain it using standard action, it is to me perfect for a non combat invisibility.
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billd91

Not your screen monkey (he/him) 🇺🇦🇵🇸🏳️‍⚧️
That aside, though, one thing 3.0 did well (that 3.5 actually undid), was to give a lot of basic 'buff' spells quite long durations. This made buffing non-casters an efficient use of spell resources, especially at mid levels, and thus caused some of the optimized casters' 'excess power' to flow to those lesser classes. Not fantastic, not robust balance, but an incentive to keep the classes working together and viable/relevant.

Given the return of vancian casting, the corresponding return of long-duration basic buff spells like "Bull's Strength" would be a boon.

But would it be a boon nobody would do without? If so, it's too good, and that's exactly what the 3.0 buffs were. They were subject to maximize and empower metamagic feats as well as extend metamagic. They needed a nerf, though I would agree the nerf went too far. Fixing the bonus at +4 was certainly enough, the duration could and should have been left alone. This was the start of D&D's unbalanced focus on the combat encounter under WotC.
 

pemerton

Legend
I would like the return of long-duration spells.

I fully recognize the issue of confusing durations, burdensome bookkeeping and meta-game issues that some of these things can generate.

<snip>

In large part, what I'm hearing as criticisms of long-duration spells is really people complaining about long duration BUFFS. Lord knows that 4E's tons of stacking and variable effects and statuses do absolutely nothing in my mind to relieve that burden.
The issue for me isn't about bookkeeping. That's a pain in 4e, sure, but it's a side effect of a certain sort of mechanical system. The durations could be tidied up a bit, but fundamental change would require getting rid of 4e's condition sub-game as part of its combat mechanics. And I enjoy that sub-game.

The issue for me with long durations is that they mean that units of time other than "the encounter" become crucial to adjudicating action resolution. Which means that distances travelled have to be very carefully tracked, time spent eating or searching tracked, time spent bandaging wounds tracked - it puts the focus of play away from where I want it (the conflicts that drive the game) and onto where I don't want it (the transitions between these conflicts).

In practice, when I've GMed spells with 1 min/lvl or 10 min/lvl type durations, and there's been some ambiguity at the table as to how much time has passed, I let the player roll a d% to see if the spell is still up. At which point we may as well make the duration be some sort of percentage chance of ablation per encounter. (Somewhat analogus to systems like Burning Wheel or d20 modern that use abstract wealth mechanics rather than actually have the players track their wallets and bank accounts.)
 

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