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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 .

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Are attack cantrips more, or less, boring than a crossbow?
Not really. Nor more or less boring than a sword or anything else in combat that is repetitious. Why should the fighter be the only one who gets to be bored in combat because their only thing to do is swing a sword? ;)

The choice is almost never meaningful.
I mean... maybe for combat cantrips? But not for the non-combat cantrips. Even with combat though, the distinction between damage types, attack or save and rider effects to me don't make them meaningless decision points for something you only ever get 4-6 of over your whole career depending on class and level.

I mean shocking grasp is to me meaningfully different from fire bolt and also something like frostbite.

One, they are all different damage types. That can be very meaningful depending on the combat. Two, they are different scenarios entirely. Shocking grasp is up-close and personal, Firebolt is something to be done from range, Frostbite is somewhere between the two. Shocking grasp eliminates the target's reactions, Frostbite gives them disadvantage.

I don't know, those seem like non-trivial differences to me.

That is before you start talking about the utility cantrips. Gust can shove a creature 5' away, etc.
 

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Gadget

Adventurer
A few points in response to the excellent and well reasoned OP:

  • Overall, I like the unified direction some of the design has taken in smoothing some things out and eliminating some weird design anomalies; there was some pretty weird things back in the AD&D days that I'm glad we have left behind. Over 40 years of game design experience does count for some things. Combining all the Cure X spells into one spell that covers all of them by scaling based on slot level; Concentration to avoid the mass domination of magic layering that dominated 3.x games, etc. It's nice having spells be the same level, not level X for clerics and level Y for wizards.
  • Having said that, the overly shared spell lists--along with the ease of raiding other classes spell lists (feat, bardic secrets, multi-classing, domains, invocations, etc.) does tend to take much of the distinctiveness away from the spell casting classes. They try to make up for it with class features, but aside from perhaps the Warlock, I don't think they succeeded as well. I miss the days when your spell list defined a large part of what you could do and differentiated you from the other caster(s). Of course, clerics were pretty decent fighters and had only seven levels of spells back then, which was pretty different. Now they might as well be white mages for all the difference they have. Druids were pseudo-elementalists that got blast spells a little earlier but not quite as good in combat and healing. So I can definitely agree here.
  • I like the fact that the half casters get unique spells of their own to define them, rather than just a subset of the cleric/druid list. It gives them their own story and feel, rather than tacted on. I was rather disappointed coming from 4e that they went back to just plain spell casting and this helped make up for it a little.
  • The "every (or most) class or subclass is a caster or partial caster" syndrome is a partial result of age old arguments about what is 'realistic' and such for certain characters to accomplish. It came to a head in 4e, where the common criticism was that "everyone is a wizard," due to the sharing of the at-will, per encounter, and daily resource structure shared by classes in that system. I suppose the designers realized that they could, where they feel they could get away with it, embrace and disarm that criticism by actually giving classes spells for special abilities. It is discrete bundles of abilities and game mechanics that can be measured out to classes through a well established resource system in the game. No one can argue about realism when it is in fact magic.
  • Personally, I think the spells as whole could have used another pass to make them worthwhile, as there are a lot of stinkers in there, even if we discount some of the world building utility spells. Spells like Leomand's Tiny Hut and Banishment became very good, while many others too numerous to name...not so much.
  • Cantrips can be tricky. It was difficult to become used to, but I kind of like the utility side, and have learned to tolerate the pew, pew, pew side. I could see removing the pew, pew, pew; or restricting it to an ability gained at higher levels. The Arch mage being able to pew, pew, pew is less of a problem and can fit the fiction better, imho.
 

Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
I think that damage dealing cantrips are LESS samey than the melee weapons that actually see the light of day and are WAY LESS samey than armor that sees the light of day.

I think the sorcerer needs to be completely reworked but the other spellcasting classes don't step on each others toes.

I think one of the subclasses for the bard, paladin, and ranger should have been non-spellcasting (to make an easier to play version similar to the Fighter Champion).

I think there should be magic items to add damage and "effects" to cantrips much the same way that magic weapons add to martial attacks.

I think the warlock should have been able to add their invocation powers to one chosen attack cantrips so you don't ONLY see eldritch blast being used.

Ultimately I blame most sameyness in 5e on its lack of player and GM crunch content. It's been 5 years and there are barely any new spells, magic items, feats applicable to spells, etc.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
Supporter
I think that damage dealing cantrips are LESS samey than the melee weapons that actually see the light of day and are WAY LESS samey than armor that sees the light of day.

I think the sorcerer needs to be completely reworked but the other spellcasting classes don't step on each others toes.

I think one of the subclasses for the bard, paladin, and ranger should have been non-spellcasting (to make an easier to play version similar to the Fighter Champion).

I think there should be magic items to add damage and "effects" to cantrips much the same way that magic weapons add to martial attacks.

I think the warlock should have been able to add their invocation powers to one chosen attack cantrips so you don't ONLY see eldritch blast being used.

Ultimately I blame most sameyness in 5e on its lack of player and GM crunch content. It's been 5 years and there are barely any new spells, magic items, feats applicable to spells, etc.
While I agree that they are less samey, a big part of that is how weapons were overly streamlined to be little more than pick if you need light or heavy, ranged or melee, then decide what die you want. But the discussion has reminded me of the problems with cantrips & the massive overlap can be blamed there. Sure people might have picked & used various attack cantrips before they knew better, but how often have you gone around the table only to have three or four players say "I cast firebolt too". They scale with character level rather than equipment or something you can't throw out say a reallly magic light crossbow and get some discussion on the pros & cons of who gets it.... It results in weapons falling into categories of either "better than what Alice or Bob is using right now" or "meh, maybe we can sell it"
 

Tonguez

Hero
While I agree that they are less samey, a big part of that is how weapons were overly streamlined to be little more than pick if you need light or heavy, ranged or melee, then decide what die you want. But the discussion has reminded me of the problems with cantrips & the massive overlap can be blamed there. Sure people might have picked & used various attack cantrips before they knew better, but how often have you gone around the table only to have three or four players say "I cast firebolt too". They scale with character level rather than equipment or something you can't throw out say a reallly magic light crossbow and get some discussion on the pros & cons of who gets it.... It results in weapons falling into categories of either "better than what Alice or Bob is using right now" or "meh, maybe we can sell it"

Yeah it seems the same approach to spells also spilt over to weapons but to be fair weapons dont break vessimilitude in the same way simply because the players understand that they are external tools that 1. a fighter can loose and 2. When you pick it up its expected that you will be chopping and banging things.

Magic should be different, more exotic than just banging away at things until they fall over.
 
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Sabathius42

Bree-Yark
Sure people might have picked & used various attack cantrips before they knew better, but how often have you gone around the table only to have three or four players say "I cast firebolt too".
In 5 years at my table firebolt was only the primary attack cantrip for one character, a wizard.

My Storm Sorcerer used Shocking Grasp (theme), the other sorcerer was fond of the cold damage spell that reduced movent, the cleric liked the cannot heal cantrip, and both warlocks used Eldritch Blast because of the invocations.

No character has ever taken the feat to get a cantrip from another class.

Different tables. We don't min-max.
 

tetrasodium

Adventurer
Supporter
Yeah it seems the same approach to spells also spilt over to weapons but to be fair weapons dont break vessimilitude int eh same way simply because the players understand that they are external tools that 1. a fighter can loose and 2. When you pick it up its expected that you will be chopping and banging things.

Magic should be different, more exotic than just banging away at things until the fall over.
a weapon needs to be drawn & you can't exactly hide a battleaxe either but a cantrip from an orb, wand, rod, & staff all work exactly the same
 

Bawylie

A very OK person
Yeah they’re samey. Real samey. Wasn’t that the point? Hammer that nostalgia and don’t do anything too new because that’s not what people want. They want D&D.

So we got hotdogs cooked in hot dog water. Very hotdoggy.

Feels like a corporate edict-as-design.
 

Minigiant

Legend
Now that I'm not at work and had a nap. Let me tackle this.

1. Overlapping spell lists. Okay, so maybe the ye olde 1e PHB was a little overboard, by having each caster have its spells in its own section .... but maybe not! Meaningful differentiation doesn't mean, "Most spells are the same, but hey, you get a few different ribbons!" To me it means that each full caster class gets a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LIST OF SPELLS, with minimal overlap (a few utilities that they might have in common, like a fly spell- and honestly, they each could have their own).
I'd say 50% of the problems with class flavor in 5e is due to the lack of unique spells. Of the complained about casters, the ranger and sorcerer are there because they lack enough unique spells. The sorcerer is missing the spells that display its raw manipulation of mana/weave/winds. The ranger is woefully missing wilderness knacks that rangers,, hunters, trackers, and survivalists had in fantasy media.

And there is no surprise that the two classes with the best representations in 5e is the paladin who has the most unique spells and the bard who can steal any spell.

2. Too mix-n-match. Ritual spellcasting. Cantrips. Everything is available easily through either multi-class, subclass, or feat. To the extent that there is meaningful class differentiation (there isn't), you can easily get whatever you want from any other class.
On the spell side, that's because a lot of classes are just too front loaded and lack unique spells.

3. What does it even mean, Basil? What, Wizards are "versatile" and "prepared" and sorcerers are "spontaneous" and "natural." I mean, sure. Whatever. Now that we've moved to neo-Vancian spell casting, they are pretty much the same thing, with a different stat. If you ask me, here's the difference. Want to multiclass with a charisma class? Sorcerer. Don't? Wizard.
I don't want to say it is long standing community class favoritism at work.
But it is long standing community class favoritism at work.
Sorcerer isn't a beloved class. And the work just wasn't done.

5. Cantrips are terribly boring. Pew pew pew. You can look at them, and refluff 'em as you want. But it both makes cantrips terrible, and has the additional added effect of making higher-level damage spells terrible as well.
That was a design choice. The issue with D&D casters that were heavily based on slots was that they wouldneed to have a lot of slots. Veteran players could use those extra slots and steady flow of gamebooks to warp the game. This put a strain on DMs.

So the designers made casters more reliant on cantrips and made damage spells for novas and mob killing. Not for general use. So the number of slots could stay down.

4. All effects are measured by spells. Magic items. other class abilities, almost everything is expressed in terms of spells. So ... okay. There's a lot of it.
That's D&D, baby.
  1. The Combat rules
  2. The Stealth rules
  3. The Spells
Those are the hard crunch. Anything that needed precise ruling on the player part refered back to these three. The rest is freeform or optional between players and DMS. This is what you get wen peopledon't what lockpicking, tracking, research, and crafting as hard core rules...

Everything that isn't "roll to pass or fail" becomes a spell.

6. Lack of mechanical differentiation. The Warlock? Short rest + invocation ... that's different. Everyone else? It's the same. Overlapping spells, overlapping casting abilities, overlapping mechanics.
Like the rest. Tradition. 5e really isn't that big on new ideas. It's just an old edition with a few fixes. And in the old editions, everything and everyone used the same 3-6 systems.

Does 5e's magic feel same-y to you? The spellcasters?
Yes.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
Yea, I'd appreciate seeing yours when you're done. Do a compare and contrast on some of the more difficult choices.
So, the good news is about 3 in 4 spells we agree on. :) I think that isn't a bad place to start really. I thought it would be best to handle the class lists as they are and see how we absorbed them into the "big three" as I will call it.

Paladin Spells - of all the Paladin spells, most of them we both absorbed into the Cleric List so they would be available to the Paladin after we're done. Here are the exceptions:

Purify Food and Drink (Cleric/Druid*) (C,D,P)
I left it with Cleric, you moved it to Druid. I totally get why (food, drink, nature... of course), but since this spell is about purifying them, and currently it is a Cleric and Paladin spell now, but otherwise only Druid, I left it with Cleric.

Locate Object (Cleric*/Wizard*) (B,C,D,P,R,W)
This was a tough one and I could see going either way. I went with Cleric just to give them more spells and try to keep the lists a bit more even. Did you have any special rationale for going Wizard here?

Magic Weapon (both to Wizard) (P,W)
One of those we both moved into another list, Wizard in this case. Since this is only normally a Paladin and Wizard spell, IMO Wizard trumps priority and gets it. I am guessing your thinking was the same?

Protection from Poison (both to Druid) (C,P,D,R)
A tough one, but we both moved it to Druid, which makes more sense to me, especially since I see the Ranger class getting more use of this (as well as a Paladin can remove poison via Lay on Hands).

Create Food and Water (Cleric/Druid*) (C,P)
I get why you moved it to Druid (like with Purify above), but currently this belongs to Cleric and Paladin only (surprising, huh?) so I left it with Cleric.

Daylight (both to Druid) (C,P,D,R,S)
Another tough one as Druid and Ranger (along with Sorcerer) normally have this one. Since it is supposed to be actual sunlight, I felt giving it to Druid made more sense (again, we both moved it so I suppose you felt the same).

Dispel Magic (both to Wizard) (B,C,D,P,S,War,W)
While I hate taking this away from the other lists, it has to be the providence of Wizards IMO. We both put it there so that is good I think.

Elemental Weapon (both to Druid) (P)
This surprised me. We both moved it to Druid, but oddly it is normally only a Paladin spell! Still, there are enough smites, etc. that I felt good moving it to Druid and you did as well so also good IMO.

Locate Creature (Druid*/Wizard*) (B,C,D,P,R,W)
Another hard one and we split it, LOL! Given the creature-aspect, I felt better moving it to Druid. Was there a specific reason you wanted it in Wizard?

Next will be the Ranger List and what we did to it. I just wanted to start with Paladin to annoy @lowkey13 . ;)

P.S. I also didn't see Zone of Truth in your list but maybe I missed it. I kept it with Cleric, of course.
 
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Henry

Autoexreginated
They’re similar, but similar in that they all use an attack roll and dice. I think the big issue is that, in a given party, EVERYONE will probably have the same attack and damage, because of bounded accuracy, and given their class makeup (for instance, clerics and wizards cant rips will probably look the same, and their damage spells will be similar but not exact, and rogues and warlocks will put out a ton of damage).
however, I find it a good thing, because past about level 5 in 3.x games, they can diverge so much in some groups you’re not even playing the same game as your fellow players. If you want “sameyness”, early 4th edition was notorious for it from one class to another.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
Yea, I'd appreciate seeing yours when you're done. Do a compare and contrast on some of the more difficult choices.
Ranger Spells - of course most of these were absorbed into the Druid list. But we had quite a few exceptions:

Alarm (both to Wizard) (R,W)
Only Wizards get this spell otherwise, not Druids, so Wizard trumps Ranger in this case. You agreed.

Cure Wounds (both to Cleric) (B,C,D,P,R)
Like Dispel Magic is the providence of Wizards, healing wounds belong to the Cleric. Again, we both moved it.

Detect Magic (both to Wizard) (B,C,D,P,R,S,W)
Since everyone but Warlocks normally have it, it had to go to the main spell class--the Wizard. Once more, it was the obvious choice IMO and you must have thought likewise.

Darkvision (Druid/Cleric*) (D,R,S,W)
I kept this with Druid because normally Druids and Rangers get it, but otherwise it is Sorcerers and Wizards. I could understand giving it to Wizards maybe, so why did you go with Cleric?

Find Traps (Druid/Cleric*) (C,D,R)
I kept this with Druid because normally Druids and Rangers get it, but otherwise it is only Clerics.

Lesser Restoration (both to Cleric) (B,C,D,P,R)
We both moved it. It could work for Druids, but I am happy with it in Cleric.

Locate Object (Cleric*/Wizard*) (B,C,D,P,R,W)
Again, just for list length balance, went to Cleric. You choose Wizard and I am curious to know if you had a reason for it.

Silence (Cleric*/Wizard*) (B,C,R)
Cleric trumps Ranger. I don't know why you gave this to Wizard since they already have both Counterspell and Dispel Magic. Also, this goes back to 1E for me when a Cleric casting Silence was a pain in the @$$! :)

Nondetection (both to Wizard) (B,R,W)
Wizard trumps Ranger.

Water Walk (Cleric*/Druid) (C,D,R,S)
This was influenced by my biblical upbringing. Also, since Druids have Water Breathing, I wanted to pump up the Cleric List by giving them this one.

Freedom of Movement (Druid/Wizard*) (B,C,D,R)
Again, both Druid and Ranger, otherwise Cleric and Bard. Why Wizard???

Locate Creature (Druid/Wizard*) (B,C,D,P,R,W)
Druid just because of the creature aspect. This was a split in Paladin spells, so I will read your response to it there I guess.

Stoneskin (Wizard*/Druid) (D,R,S,W)
LOL I went with Wizard again because of 1E. Given it is a split between casters, I can see it going either way and we'll probably have to discuss it more.
 


Coroc

Hero
There was a recent thread when the discussion of design principles in 5e was raised. I made the same comment that I had made over the past five years, which is basically that, IMO, there are too many spellcasting classes, and that the spells (especially the cantrips) had a very "same-y" feel, and that this was (IMO) largely attributable to the design principles of 5e.

Given that this opinion is linked to me in roughly the same way that Sir McStabsalot, the gnomish paladin that dual-wields rapiers, shall forever follow me, I didn't think much of it. But, to quote famous RPG Enthusiast and San Diego native, Ron Burgundy, "Boy, that escalated quickly... Brick killed a guy."

So after picking up the errant tridents, I thought I'd return to the issue of why 5e spellcasting feels same-y to me, and why this is a deliberate design decision. Let me start with my original analysis of six reason in italics, then I can expand on it:


1. Overlapping spell lists. Okay, so maybe the ye olde 1e PHB was a little overboard, by having each caster have its spells in its own section .... but maybe not! Meaningful differentiation doesn't mean, "Most spells are the same, but hey, you get a few different ribbons!" To me it means that each full caster class gets a COMPLETELY DIFFERENT LIST OF SPELLS, with minimal overlap (a few utilities that they might have in common, like a fly spell- and honestly, they each could have their own).

To me, this is a big one. Yes, it saves a lot of time and designing to allow multiple classes to have the same spells. But .... looking at the core rules (PHB) ... the Bard has 3 unique spells. The Warlock has 6. The Sorcerer has .... wait for it ... ZERO UNIQUE SPELLS.

The Paladin (you knew this was coming up) has 17, meaning that the Paladin (a half-caster) has more unique spells than the three full casting classes and the Ranger ... COMBINED.


2. Too mix-n-match. Ritual spellcasting. Cantrips. Everything is available easily through either multi-class, subclass, or feat. To the extent that there is meaningful class differentiation (there isn't), you can easily get whatever you want from any other class.

Here's the thing- I have mentioned before that I am a fan on at least limited niche protection. But 5e, for better or worse, has almost none. Let's say that you're all into Bards, because of their unique vicious mockery cantrip. You know .... it does make up 33% of their unique spells! :)

But ... you don't want to play a bard. Okay, no problem! Just multiclass a level in Bard, and you get it. But maybe you really don't want to play a bard. Then take a magic initiate feat! And so on. 5e isn't a gestalt system, but it's flexibility (which is good!) also means that there is little differentiation between the multiple varieties and ways to build a spellcaster (which is bad- to me).


3. What does it even mean, Basil? What, Wizards are "versatile" and "prepared" and sorcerers are "spontaneous" and "natural." I mean, sure. Whatever. Now that we've moved to neo-Vancian spell casting, they are pretty much the same thing, with a different stat. If you ask me, here's the difference. Want to multiclass with a charisma class? Sorcerer. Don't? Wizard.

This really ties into (6), but the difference (however slight) is that for this category, I'd say that there is a lack of integration between lore and mechanics. TPTB (the powers that be) have been pretty open that Paladins and Druids "have an especially strong dose of story in their design" which means, I suppose, that the other classes have less lore (story) baked into the design. But the lack of integration between lore and mechanics, while allowing for more creative builds, also ties into the lack of differentiation for spellcasters. If the lore doesn't matter, and the spell lists largely overlap, and the mechanics aren't that different, then what does it mean?


4. All effects are measured by spells. Magic items. other class abilities, almost everything is expressed in terms of spells. So ... okay. There's a lot of it.

I'm going to expand on this later, but when you have spells as the basic unit of currency for design then they begin to feel boring. Magic items ... they are spells. Barbarian abiltities? Spells. Racial abilities? Spells. If everything is a spell, why should I care about (you guessed it) spells? To paraphrase The Incredibles, if everything is magic, nothing is.


5. Cantrips are terribly boring. Pew pew pew. You can look at them, and refluff 'em as you want. But it both makes cantrips terrible, and has the additional added effect of making higher-level damage spells terrible as well.

This is a matter of taste, I guess. Are attack cantrips more, or less, boring than a crossbow? Than darts? Than a dagger? But they all ... function ... in the exact same way. They are so tightly constrained by both the spell equivalency design, and by the desire to have them substitute in as attacks (so everyone has the same approximate, level-by-level, round-by-round, spotlight effect in combat), that there is no real differentiation. "Sure, I'll have a different damage and save type, thanks." The choice is almost never meaningful.

More importantly, by providing casters with the always-on, always damage cantrips, it effectively nerfed the utility of higher-level spell. I would much rather casters get a smaller number of much more interesting and bigger booms than the same attack cantrips over and over again.

6. Lack of mechanical differentiation. The Warlock? Short rest + invocation ... that's different. Everyone else? It's the same. Overlapping spells, overlapping casting abilities, overlapping mechanics.

And this is the big one, for me. I understand that some players put big stock in the whole, prepared or not prepared, etc. But now that we've moved to neo-Vancian, the casters almost all "feel" the same. Sure, the Wizard is a little more versatile, I guess. Kinda. But the Warlock is the only spellcaster that, to me, mechanically feels dramatically different (and, TBH, they overloaded EB so much that most players just play it as a glorified EB spammer).

Now the above list isn't meant to be exhaustive, or argumentative. People can, and do, feel differently, The question of what "feels" the same is very much a personal one. Back when all weapons did d6 damage, did they all feel the same because they did the same damage, or were they objectively different because they had different names, and therefore (by definition!) were different? I say that not to be snarky, but simply to point out that this is very much in the feelings; just like people can reasonably disagree about whether, say, niche protection is a good thing in D&D, so too can people disagree about whether design leads to sameyness, or differentiation.


But the design principle is clear ....

So I'm going to add a final note, which is the difference between 1e and 5e that I think helps illustrate what I'm thinking about. I don't have a pull quote for it handy, but I think that most people see the resource/design equivalency in 5e is largely designed around spells. That's why, for example, Rangers and Paladins are designed as half-casters, and why 1/2 of the original classes are full casters. Fun fact- 75% of the base classes in D&D 5e are either full or half casters, and the only official new class, so far, is the artificer.

The reason for the title of this post is, of course, when all you have is a hammer, every problem seems like a nail. And when you design around spells, every design issue will be solved by ... spells equivalents.

But that's not all bad. Let's contrast 5e design with 1e design (or, um, lack thereof!).

1e has a lot of awesome sauce in it. I mean, say what you like about the rules of Gygaxian D&D, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

The casters feel ... well, very different. No one would confuse the Cleric and Magic User lists. Even subclasses (like the Illusionist) are very different than the main class in terms of spellcasting.

Abilities, magic items, monster abilities- they are rarely expressed in terms of spells. Instead, they just ... are. The great advantage of this is that it is cool, differentiated, and that when it works (because the rules and abilities and items and so on grew out play and rulings more often than not) it has an organic, bespoke quality that feels right.

The disadvantage, of course, is that these various subsystems often don't work together, are incoherent, or in some cases (unarmed combat) just a confusing morass of contradictory rules that uses systems that make absolutely no sense in context with the rest of the game.

Contrast that with 5e. There may be predictability (samey-ness) but there's also ... predictability. The rules mostly fit together. The math ... mostly works.

And that's where I'm going to end this and throw it out for other people to comment on how wrong I am.

So-

Does 5e's magic feel same-y to you? The spellcasters?

And do you like the design principle (spell equivalent) of 5e?
1. was always there, at least now the spells are same level not like prior e.g. cure light wounds cleric (1.) druid (2.). And stil lif you do not use initiate or MC every class has their own things.
Bard t.b.h. should not be a full caster. Not at all.

2. Is very flexible game design, fit to emulate all prior editions and some more. You ca nuse and apply all the gimmicks that you wrote but you do not have to (Or have to allow them as a DM)

3. MC is just an option, classes with the same main attribute have some synergy here. But a bard / sorcerer at least feels MC, whereas a fighter / barbarian is what? A barb with heavy armor? A raging champion?

4. good design again. Minimizes the dangers of unbalancing things.

5. Shooting things with a crossbow is boring when you are a mage in reality. Even more boring but what is much worse: the 3 darts-a-round Mage (ST)-/(D)-arter. Unrealistic. Awkward. Not my vision of a fantasy arcane caster. Not at all. Even a dwarf wizard makes more sense than that, and if you know me you can imagine how hard it is for me to even write the words dwarf and wizard in a row.

6. The warlock has some correlations with the ranger (hex/hunters mark) so he is not totally unique.
The 2e sorc even used int as a main (casting) stat. We have a bit to many charisma casters. making the bards casting keyed of int would make more sense sometimes, true cha is there to impress the audience, but still, Imho bard should be half caster.
 
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TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
So, the good news is about 3 in 4 spells we agree on. :) I think that isn't a bad place to start really. I thought it would be best to handle the class lists as they are and see how we absorbed them into the "big three" as I will call it.
Makes sense!

Purify Food and Drink (Cleric/Druid*) (C,D,P)
I left it with Cleric, you moved it to Druid. I totally get why (food, drink, nature... of course), but since this spell is about purifying them, and currently it is a Cleric and Paladin spell now, but otherwise only Druid, I left it with Cleric.
Yea, this one I went back and forth. My current list has cleric a little underrepresented, so this is definitely one I'll be moving over. You're right, purification should probably trump food, especially since "food" is as much a product of civilization as it is nature.

Locate Object (Cleric*/Wizard*) (B,C,D,P,R,W)
This was a tough one and I could see going either way. I went with Cleric just to give them more spells and try to keep the lists a bit more even. Did you have any special rationale for going Wizard here?
In general, I tried to keep investigation stuff confined into Wizard territory, and more cross-dimensional divinations (like Commune) with clerics. Locate Object is a bit of an in-between, so I'd be OK with it in Cleric.
Magic Weapon (both to Wizard) (P,W)
One of those we both moved into another list, Wizard in this case. Since this is only normally a Paladin and Wizard spell, IMO Wizard trumps priority and gets it. I am guessing your thinking was the same?
Correct. Spells that feel more like artificer spells, like they imbue materials with special properties, I defaulted to Wizard. Feels to me like part of the Wizard wheelhouse.

Protection from Poison (both to Druid) (C,P,D,R)
A tough one, but we both moved it to Druid, which makes more sense to me, especially since I see the Ranger class getting more use of this (as well as a Paladin can remove poison via Lay on Hands).
I defaulted most spells dealing with poison to Druid.

Create Food and Water (Cleric/Druid*) (C,P)
I get why you moved it to Druid (like with Purify above), but currently this belongs to Cleric and Paladin only (surprising, huh?) so I left it with Cleric.
Yep, same rationale as purify. Totally fine with moving this.

Daylight (both to Druid) (C,P,D,R,S)
Another tough one as Druid and Ranger (along with Sorcerer) normally have this one. Since it is supposed to be actual sunlight, I felt giving it to Druid made more sense (again, we both moved it so I suppose you felt the same).
Yep, anything nature and weather related I moved to druid.

Dispel Magic (both to Wizard) (B,C,D,P,S,War,W)
While I hate taking this away from the other lists, it has to be the providence of Wizards IMO. We both put it there so that is good I think.
Yep, anything meta-magic (magic affecting magic) I put in Wizard. I did think pretty hard about Cleric being the "caster-beater", but I thought Wizard just felt more like the natural home.

Elemental Weapon (both to Druid) (P)
This surprised me. We both moved it to Druid, but oddly it is normally only a Paladin spell! Still, there are enough smites, etc. that I felt good moving it to Druid and you did as well so also good IMO.
Yea, stuff that was elemental I struggled with. I decided that Wizards should keep their blasting aspect, since it's so core to the original concept of the class, but elemental stuff that's not instantaneous (like Wall of Fire or this spell) I moved to Druid. Elemental weapon got put on the Druid list in the last UA, so even WotC agrees with us. :)

Locate Creature (Druid*/Wizard*) (B,C,D,P,R,W)
Another hard one and we split it, LOL! Given the creature-aspect, I felt better moving it to Druid. Was there a specific reason you wanted it in Wizard?
Same logic as Locate Object, really. Anything detective-y I moved to Wizard. "Locating" seems more Intelligence based to me.

Next will be the Ranger List and what we did to it. I just wanted to start with Paladin to annoy @lowkey13 . ;)
Really the single best reason to do anything. :)
 


TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Ranger Spells - of course most of these were absorbed into the Druid list. But we had quite a few exceptions:
Just going to hit the spells where we diverged.

Darkvision (Druid/Cleric*) (D,R,S,W)
I kept this with Druid because normally Druids and Rangers get it, but otherwise it is Sorcerers and Wizards. I could understand giving it to Wizards maybe, so why did you go with Cleric?
I went back and forth on this; I think it came down to I liked giving Cleric the bulk of the physical enhancement spells that weren't obviously themed in other directions. Enhance Ability I gave to Cleric for the same reason.

Find Traps (Druid/Cleric*) (C,D,R)
I kept this with Druid because normally Druids and Rangers get it, but otherwise it is only Clerics.
Historical precedent, I think..I always remember this being a Cleric spell.

Lesser Restoration (both to Cleric) (B,C,D,P,R)
We both moved it. It could work for Druids, but I am happy with it in Cleric.
Healing and purification stuff I went cleric.

Silence (Cleric*/Wizard*) (B,C,R)
Cleric trumps Ranger. I don't know why you gave this to Wizard since they already have both Counterspell and Dispel Magic. Also, this goes back to 1E for me when a Cleric casting Silence was a pain in the @$$! :)
I liked Wizard having the bulk of the magic shutdown, I think. I always thought Silence felt a little awkward as a Cleric spell, it's too "physical", I guess.

Water Walk (Cleric*/Druid) (C,D,R,S)
This was influenced by my biblical upbringing. Also, since Druids have Water Breathing, I wanted to pump up the Cleric List by giving them this one.
Yea, that could move. I just went Water->Druid for this one.

Freedom of Movement (Druid/Wizard*) (B,C,D,R)
Again, both Druid and Ranger, otherwise Cleric and Bard. Why Wizard???
Yea, cleric is probably better here.

Stoneskin (Wizard*/Druid) (D,R,S,W)
LOL I went with Wizard again because of 1E. Given it is a split between casters, I can see it going either way and we'll probably have to discuss it more.
Stone->Druid, again. History could definitely win, though.
 

dnd4vr

Tactical Studies Rules - The Original Game Wizards
@TwoSix :

Sorcerer Spells - of course most of these were absorbed into the Wizard list. But again we had quite a few exceptions:

Absorb Elements (both to Druid) (D,R,S,W)
Makes sense for Druid.

Charm Person (both to Cleric) (B,D,S,War,W)
Oddly, we both choose Cleric but maybe this should go to Wizard?

Comprehend Languages (Cleric*/Wizard) (B,S,War,W)
I moved this to Cleric to expand the Cleric list but also because I see clerics more often in a role of needing to interpret and understand languages than Wizards.

Earth Tremor (both to Druid) (B,D,S,W)
Makes sense, Earth, after all, but otherwise both Sorcerer and Wizard lose it. Again, maybe more thought?

Expeditious Retreat (Wizard/Druid*) (S,War,W)
Since arcane casters have this spells, I put it in Wizard. Originally, I thought about Druid as well, so I get your thinking.

False Life (Cleric*/Druid*) (S,W)
We both moved it, but to different lists, even though neither Cleric or Druid have it normally. Hmm...

Fog Cloud (both to Druid) (D,R,S,W)
Once again Sorcerer and Wizard lose out to Druid and Ranger, but since this is fog (weather) it makes sense.

Ice Knife (both to Druid) (D,S,W)
We both moved it to Druid, but maybe it should be in Wizard? Otherwise, both Sorcerers and Wizards lose it.

Jump (both to Druid) (D,R,S,W)
Again, Sorc/Wiz lose out to Druid/Rang.

Ray of Sickness (both to Druid) (S,W)
Again, Sorc/Wiz lose out to Druid/Rang.

Sleep (Druid*/Wizard) (B,S,W)
Thinking along the Fey-line, I moved it to Druid, but it would be fine staying in Wizard as well.

Thunderwave (Cleric*/Wizard) (B,D,S,W)
I moved it to Cleric for the thunder and anger aspect of the gods, so to say, and to bolster the Cleric list.

This is only level 1 spells, I'll work on more later today. A lot are being lost to other lists than Wizard. A big part of this is because a lot of Sorcerer spells are elemental, which we seem to be moving a lot to Druid. What are your thoughts on this?

P.S. I'll get to your replies later when I get home. Looking forward to reading them. :)
 

TwoSix

The hero you deserve
Supporter
Comprehend Languages (Cleric*/Wizard) (B,S,War,W)
I moved this to Cleric to expand the Cleric list but also because I see clerics more often in a role of needing to interpret and understand languages than Wizards.
Languages and information gathering feel like Wizard stuff to me, I guess. I also want Wizards to have a decent selection of rituals.

Expeditious Retreat (Wizard/Druid*) (S,War,W)
Since arcane casters have this spells, I put it in Wizard. Originally, I thought about Druid as well, so I get your thinking.
Yea, this always felt like more of an enhancement spell to me. Giving it to Wizard originally always felt like a bit too much of "Wizards have a solution for everything."

False Life (Cleric*/Druid*) (S,W)
We both moved it, but to different lists, even though neither Cleric or Druid have it normally. Hmm...
Giving Druids a lot of the necromancy spells that impacted life energy was something I felt gave them a little more of a thematic niche. Life and Death, ya know?

Ice Knife (both to Druid) (D,S,W)
We both moved it to Druid, but maybe it should be in Wizard? Otherwise, both Sorcerers and Wizards lose it.
Yea, I was thinking of moving this back. Wanted to keep as much blasting potential in Wizard as possible.

Sleep (Druid*/Wizard) (B,S,W)
Thinking along the Fey-line, I moved it to Druid, but it would be fine staying in Wizard as well.[/quote]
I flopped this back and forth a few times. This is just such an iconic Wizard spell I decided to let it stay there. The fact that it's AoE just solidified it.

Thunderwave (Cleric*/Wizard) (B,D,S,W)
I moved it to Cleric for the thunder and anger aspect of the gods, so to say, and to bolster the Cleric list.
AoE attack spell clinched it for Wizard for me. I think one difference here is that I'm OK with making sure the lists DON'T cover everything, having Clerics with few AoE options, or Wizards with no heals, feels like it's part of the point of the exercise.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
There's a point at which reallocating the existing spell lists feels a little bit like rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic. That's not to say it isn't a worthwhile endeavor, but I think there will still be some holes in the lists no matter how things get moved about. which just means new spells I guess, so yay?
 

Mythological Figures & Maleficent Monsters

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