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Maxwell's Silver Hammer: On Spells, Design, and the feeling of Sameyness in 5e

Do you think the spellcasters and spells in 5e are too "same-y?"

  • 1. Yes, they are too same-y.

    Votes: 29 29.6%
  • 2. They're really same-y, but I'm okay with it.

    Votes: 8 8.2%
  • 3. Maybe a little, but it's a good design choice.

    Votes: 43 43.9%
  • 4 No. I don't know what you're talking about.

    Votes: 12 12.2%
  • 5. I have VERY STRONG OPINIONS that cannot be captured in a poll.

    Votes: 2 2.0%
  • 6. Smash the control images, smash the control machines.

    Votes: 4 4.1%

  • Total voters
    98
  • Poll closed .

tetrasodium

Adventurer
@lowkey13 really nailed a lot of good points in the first post, but adding to that is the fact that certain classes lack anything mechanical to really differentiate themselves from another class with the same spell list. A cleric, druid, ranger, & Paladin will feel & present viscerally different from each other during play because the core class brings so much other than spell list to the table... Meanwhile a wizard and sorcerer will seem the same unless a sorcerer says "I use a bonus action & flexible casting to...", says "I use x metamagic" or the wizard says "my spellbook" without bonus feats. With pretty much all of the former wizard bonus feat options either being given to sorcerer at level 2 or are now listed as "Warlock invocations" it only exacerbates things for the wizard
 

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TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Well, I am working on it now and my idea anyway was to devote spells to cleric and druid first since they have fewer, and then see what is left for the wizard. Cherry -picking here and there afterwards if I feel I need to restore some to Wizard.
Yea, that's generally what I'm doing. Druid and Cleric kept their mainstays. I pulled out most mind affecting stuff, planar and soul stuff, and warlock stuff and gave that to clerics. Druids got any necromancy that wasn't tied to souls and undead, and most elemental effects that aren't instantaneous. Wizards kept most blowing up stuff, personal protection effects, and weird dimensional and illusion effects.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
Yea, that's generally what I'm doing. Druid and Cleric kept their mainstays. I pulled out most mind affecting stuff, planar and soul stuff, and warlock stuff and gave that to clerics. Druids got any necromancy that wasn't tied to souls and undead, and most elemental effects that aren't instantaneous. Wizards kept most blowing up stuff, personal protection effects, and weird dimensional and illusion effects.
How much overlap are you allowing? I am shooting for none, but honestly I feel like if I do some key spells will be lost to some lists.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
How much overlap are you allowing? I am shooting for none, but honestly I feel like if I do some key spells will be lost to some lists.
None. I'm trying to keep to @lowkey13's premise as much as possible, and losing important capabilities, to my mind, simply helps enforce the niche protection.

First pass, hopefully this link works.
 


dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
None. I'm trying to keep to @lowkey13's premise as much as possible, and losing important capabilities, to my mind, simply helps enforce the niche protection.

First pass, hopefully this link works.
I can copy/paste and compare to mine when I am done. I don't want to look at yours now since it might bias my own choices.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
I can copy/paste and compare to mine when I am done. I don't want to look at yours now since it might bias my own choices.
Yea, I'd appreciate seeing yours when you're done. Do a compare and contrast on some of the more difficult choices.
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Hey, I appreciate the shout out, but you do the work, you call the shots. :)
No worries, I actually enjoy having the more difficult constraint. "You can have all the spells you need" takes away part of the fun.

This may be related to why I like sorcerers more than most folks. :)
 




toucanbuzz

Adventurer
….Why do you think Barbarians should be supernatural? Arguably, their origin and original "shtick" was that they were anti-supernatural (Conan, 1e Unearthed Arcana)….
If the defining factor for a barbarian is their brains or strength, or lack of culture, then they're simply a fighter with a particular physical attribute or background. But if it's supernatural, as many of the subtypes have been, they're a class that stands on its own, mixing ancient beliefs in the spirits into enhancing their abilities. They may shrug off arcane magic as unnatural even if their powers mimic such, believing the study of arts that don't come from the natural world or from the ancestors are likely brought to this world by demons to lure mortals to ruin.

Hence, I see them as more the ancient Celtic barbarians, oft depicted as wearing paint to mystically protect them in battle while fighting naked, or simply generic cultures drawing upon the spirits of their tribal animal or ancestors to imbue them with supernatural strength against enemies. Whereas Conan the "Barbarian" is a harder sell because in the books, he wears clothes of the region and armor, speaks several languages, and is "barbarian" in the ancient Greek/Roman sense of simply being someone who wasn't Greek/Roman and therefore less educated, not how I see the D&D barbarian. But, his "barbarian" supernatural nature perhaps draws from his freakish feats of strength and invoking Crom (who eventually intervenes to save him). Which, perhaps makes Conan a 10th level cleric...

Something like that.
 


Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
If the defining factor for a barbarian is their brains or strength, or lack of culture, then they're simply a fighter with a particular physical attribute or background. But if it's supernatural, as many of the subtypes have been, they're a class that stands on its own, mixing ancient beliefs in the spirits into enhancing their abilities. They may shrug off arcane magic as unnatural even if their powers mimic such, believing the study of arts that don't come from the natural world or from the ancestors are likely brought to this world by demons to lure mortals to ruin.

Hence, I see them as more the ancient Celtic barbarians, oft depicted as wearing paint to mystically protect them in battle while fighting naked, or simply generic cultures drawing upon the spirits of their tribal animal or ancestors to imbue them with supernatural strength against enemies. Whereas Conan the "Barbarian" is a harder sell because in the books, he wears clothes of the region and armor, speaks several languages, and is "barbarian" in the ancient Greek/Roman sense of simply being someone who wasn't Greek/Roman and therefore less educated, not how I see the D&D barbarian. But, his "barbarian" supernatural nature perhaps draws from his freakish feats of strength and invoking Crom (who eventually intervenes to save him). Which, perhaps makes Conan a 10th level cleric...

Something like that.
I always assumed that many (if not all) barbarians sub-classes were supernatural. After all, some let you literally sprout wings and fly at higher levels, it doesn't get much more supernatural than that. But even at lower levels, adding con to AC only makes sense if you have super-hard pecs or supernatural protection.
 


tetrasodium

Adventurer
If the defining factor for a barbarian is their brains or strength, or lack of culture, then they're simply a fighter with a particular physical attribute or background. But if it's supernatural, as many of the subtypes have been, they're a class that stands on its own, mixing ancient beliefs in the spirits into enhancing their abilities. They may shrug off arcane magic as unnatural even if their powers mimic such, believing the study of arts that don't come from the natural world or from the ancestors are likely brought to this world by demons to lure mortals to ruin.

Hence, I see them as more the ancient Celtic barbarians, oft depicted as wearing paint to mystically protect them in battle while fighting naked, or simply generic cultures drawing upon the spirits of their tribal animal or ancestors to imbue them with supernatural strength against enemies. Whereas Conan the "Barbarian" is a harder sell because in the books, he wears clothes of the region and armor, speaks several languages, and is "barbarian" in the ancient Greek/Roman sense of simply being someone who wasn't Greek/Roman and therefore less educated, not how I see the D&D barbarian. But, his "barbarian" supernatural nature perhaps draws from his freakish feats of strength and invoking Crom (who eventually intervenes to save him). Which, perhaps makes Conan a 10th level cleric...

Something like that.
Rage, reckless attack, extra emphasis on con, fast movement / all weapon & armor prof, fighting styles, action surge, second wind, extra feats, extra attacks beyond just he second, etc. The two bring a lot of class specific stuff to the table that makes even a no/medium armor fighter with a greataxe different from a barbarian doing the same. not so with sorcerer


@Undrave While true, it would be a stretch to call those arctypes anywhere near as thematic or different from one another as the sorcerer ones, they mostly just put a late game cherry on top of the vestigial spell schools.
 


CleverNickName

Limit Break Dancing
I think point #4 in your original post is the one that hits home for me. Literally everything...from magic items to monk powers to 8-hour naps...is a magical effect. It was the hardest thing to get accustomed to when I started playing 5E...and even now, half a decade later, it still sticks in my craw every now and then.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
I think point #4 in your original post is the one that hits home for me. Literally everything...from magic items to monk powers to 8-hour naps...is a magical effect. It was the hardest thing to get accustomed to when I started playing 5E...and even now, half a decade later, it still sticks in my craw every now and then.
Long and short rests might have a place, but every spell, ability, magic item, etc is still using specific minutes/hours/etc so even changing those time periods is a huge mess.
 

Undrave

Hero
@Undrave While true, it would be a stretch to call those arctypes anywhere near as thematic or different from one another as the sorcerer ones, they mostly just put a late game cherry on top of the vestigial spell schools.
I don't disagree (though I love the Diviner's ability as far being a support power goes, it's really cool, and the Abjurer's ability to recharge their unique power when they cast in their school), but some people apparently like those darn school too much to leave them behind. LE SHRUG

Personally I would have made a single subclass called "School Specialist" or something and then created... I dunno "Tower Wizards" maybe? That would get ability inspired 4e Implement based class features: A Staff user that can boost his defense based on CON, a Wand Wizard that boosts accuracy based on DEX and an Orb wizard that boosts their DC based on CHA. the Staff user would get stuff like extra HP per level and control of their close bursts to fight at the front line, the Wand user would be best at Attack roll spells and the Orb would be best at imposing status. A bit less straight-jacketed than the school ones but with a clear play style implied.
 

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