5.5E Should bring back diverse spellcaster level design.

cbwjm

Legend
Yeah, that sounds cool. I really don’t like the direction they went with conjurers being all about teleporting instead of summoning. Maybe there should be a summoner.
I'm definitely someone where the term conjurer summons up images of dark robed ritualists summoning up demons and elementals for power thanks primarily to all of the old Conan the Barbarian and other sword and sorcery books I've read over the years. I think it would be good to split the current conjurer subclass into two, one focused on summoning, the other teleportation.
 

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nevin

Hero
it wasn't a bad idea in the earlier editions. However in editions where classes get feats that may give them access to abilities from other classes it turns into a problem. I don't know the feats in 5e but a perfect example in PF is wizard's can take a discovery feat that lets them use alchemists recipes and convert them to spells. But Alchemists get certain spells at different levels because they are a hybrid class and if a DM doesn't pay attention you'll have a wizard casting some spells before the clerics and other classes get them. things like Greater Restoration.

I think it's just easier and less detail to remember if spell levels are standardized. I used to like all the crunchy complicated stuff but it just gets in the way of the fun, or at least slows the game way down for those who do enjoy it.
 


It kind of is, but in pathfinder 2e it is split into 4 lists: Arcane, Divine, Primal, and Occult (or eldritch or something, I always forget the name of the 4th one. I looked it up, it was Occult). Then the different classes gain access to a specific list.

Arcane: wizard
Divine: cleric, paladin
Primal: druid, ranger
Occult: bard, witch
Sorcerer: check your bloodline. Might be the same with the witch, I'd have to reread core rules again (actually, it looks like the witch isn't out in Pathfinder 2e, or at least not in the books I have for it.).

I've been reading the old d20 WoW RPG and I quite liked how they worked. You have the main arcanist or healer list that everyone had access to, and then your path (subclass) gave you access to additional spells. Warlocks got conjuration, necromancers got necromancy, makes got various arcane spells. Same with the healer class and the priest, druid, and shaman paths. I'm somewhat tempted to ask my friends if they want to play that system next.
FYI: witch is by patron, Magus is arcane only, Summoner varies by tradition, and Oracles are divine. There's also some optional rules for going beyond that, including an alternative elemental spell list.

I like the general idea but don't like the actual breakdown of the lists.
 

cbwjm

Legend
FYI: witch is by patron, Magus is arcane only, Summoner varies by tradition, and Oracles are divine. There's also some optional rules for going beyond that, including an alternative elemental spell list.

I like the general idea but don't like the actual breakdown of the lists.
Which book is the witch in? I thought I'd seen it but that may have been the playtest documents. I assume the oracle is also in the same book. I spotted the summoner when I went looking for the witch, also found the magus which is also arcane.

I tend to buy pathfinder books more out of interest than anything, not sure I'd be able to get my friends to try it out, though maybe I could run a one-shot.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
I'm definitely someone where the term conjurer summons up images of dark robed ritualists summoning up demons and elementals for power thanks primarily to all of the old Conan the Barbarian and other sword and sorcery books I've read over the years. I think it would be good to split the current conjurer subclass into two, one focused on summoning, the other teleportation.
I think this is a great thing to look at and think about...

As I said above, the "specialist school" structure as/for "Wizards 31 flavors," it might be very cool for the next edition (and other systems) to take the various flavors of specialists and make them different casters...not just different "wizards."

To pull in the mechanical differentiations suggested by the OP, and elaborated/added to by myself, we'd have a game wherein you have something like:

"Evokers": The "Full caster," spell levels (cantrip) 1-9, from 1st level
  • Arcane: The Mage (nee wizard): Spells, spells, and more spells. All the spells. Magic Use is their thing. They use magic, primarily through spells. Slot progression. Combination spell prep and spontaneous selection mechanic added at higher levels.
  • Psychic: The Psychic (nee "psion"): Mental Powers: telepaths (communications, direct mind attacks/defenses, illusions), empaths (healers & emotion control/support), telekinetics ("force" mages, specific element kineticists), clairvoyants (seers, psi-rogues). Point progression. Accumulate different powers, tricks/stunts that can be done with those powers, use as much as you want as long as you have the points to do so.
  • The Illusionist: straddles the magics betwixt arcane and psychic with enchantments, phantasms, mind influencing/warping.
  • The Witch: spell list straddles arcane and nature spells, plus innate supernatural powers ("Witch's Crafts"), access to alternate types of spells (arcane and divine), psychic abilities, and occult powers through features, potions.
  • The Conjurer: spell list straddles arcane and divine spells, plus ritual and diagramatic use of non-divine magics, "ceremonial magics," binding circles/diagrams, et al, conjurations (of spirits, demons, undead, etc...)
"Invokers": The "3/4 caster," Channeling powers from 1st level, spell levels 1-6, from 3rd level:
  • Divine: The Cleric: Channeling Divine powers (turn undead, sense divine, domain power) at 1st level. Additional channeling powers (by class or domain) 2nd level and every 4 levels after. Spell use: 1st level spells at 3rd level, caps 6th level spells at 13th level.
  • Nature: The Druid: Channeling Nature powers (pass without trace, sense nature, shapeshift, etc...) at 1st level. Additional channeling powers (by class or domain) 2nd level and every 4 levels after. Spell use: 1st level spells at 3rd level, caps 6th level spells at 13th level.
  • Psychic: The Oracle/Diviner: Channeling Mental powers (auger, sense mind, devotion power) at 1st level. Additional channeling powers (by class or devotion) 2nd level and every 4 levels after. Spell use: 1st level spells at 3rd level, caps 6th level spells at 13th level.
  • Arcane: The Theurgist: Channeling Arcane powers (summon servant, sense magic, circle power) at 1st level. Additional channeling powers (by class or circle) 2nd level and every 4 levels after. Spell use: 1st level spells at 3rd level, caps 6th level spells at 13th level.
"Occultists": The "Half caster," Channeling powers and cantrips from 1st level, spell levels 1-5, from 3rd level:
  • Arcane: The Warlock: Channeling Arcane Energies (eldritch blast, sense magic, patron power) at 1st level. Additional channeling powers (by class or patron) 2nd level and every 3 levels after. Spell use: Cantrips at 1st level, 1st level spells at 3rd level, caps 5th level spells at 15th level, additional/different spells by channeling/patron powers.
  • Divine: The Shaman: Channeling Spirit [World] powers (entreat aid, sense spirit, etc... ) at 1st level. Additional channeling powers (by class or patron) 2nd level and every 3 levels after. Spell use: Cantrips at 1st level, 1st level spells at 3rd level, caps 5th level spells at 15th level, additional/different spells by channeling/spirit powers.
  • Nature: The Bard: Channeling Nature powers (inspire courage, sense trouble, college power) at 1st level. Additional channeling powers (by class or college) 2nd level and every 3 levels after. Spell use: Cantrips at 1st level, 1st level spells at 3rd level, caps 5th level spells at 15th level, additional/different spells by channeling/college powers.
  • Psychic: The Ascetic/Shukenja: Channeling Chi/Ki powers (stunning fist, sense danger, devotion power) at 1st level. Additional channeling powers (by class or devotion) 2nd level and every 3 levels after. Spell use: Cantrips at 1st level, 1st level spells at 3rd level, caps 5th level spells at 15th level, additional/different spells by channeling/patron powers.
"Dabblers" (working title): The "Third [Quarter?] caster," if such things are necessary to differentiate, Non-spell supernatural powers from 1st level, spell levels 1-3, from 5th level:
  • Arcane: The "Eldritch Knight"/spellblade/what have you arcane fighter-mage dude: enchant(ed) weapon, sorcerous strike (arcane smite), sorcerous shield, minimal arcane spell use
  • Divine: The Paladin: same ole typical paladin divine powers, channelled smites, minimal divine spell use
  • Nature: The Warden: magical ranger, nature channelled powers (including shapeshifting), "primal strike" (nature magic smite), minimal nature spell use (the standard Ranger class should be spell-less!)
  • Psychic: Either the Psi-warrior "Jedi" dude or the standard chi-manifesting Monk.
Random Aside******
Honestly, I lean more and more every year toward "Necromancer" being a prestige-style class. Define "Necromancy" as magic-working with the energies/powers of the negative energy plane, real "Dark Wizard" stuff. This makes it a sort of "forbidden" thing that just about anyone who can use magic (mages, clerics, warlocks, theurgists, even druids...) can "fall into" or become ensnared by (or purposely enamored with)...and eventually corrupted and turned evil, even if that isn't their original intent.

For the "what about a 'good necromancer'?" crowd...that has only and always been an oxymoron to me. And I've played with my share...or, at least, neutral/"non-evil" aligned ones. BUT we can make a mirror image "Positive energy" focused magic-user. Same kind of prestige-class style set up that can be "added" to any other caster archetype. The flip-side to a "necromancer" that I like to call a "Vivoker." They study/find/are attuned to/practice "vivocation," the "positive energy, healing, radiant damage, life magic" stuff.
*****************
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Which book is the witch in? I thought I'd seen it but that may have been the playtest documents. I assume the oracle is also in the same book. I spotted the summoner when I went looking for the witch, also found the magus which is also arcane.

I tend to buy pathfinder books more out of interest than anything, not sure I'd be able to get my friends to try it out, though maybe I could run a one-shot.
The Witch (and Summoner and Oracle) are in the "Advanced Players Guide."

For PF1. I don't know if/where they are for PF2.
 

cbwjm

Legend
The Witch (and Summoner and Oracle) are in the "Advanced Players Guide."

For PF1. I don't know if/where they are for PF2.
Thanks, I google advanced player's guide and the 2e edition of it came up. Witch, Oracle, Investigator, and Swashbuckler are the classes represented in the book. Kind of curious to see what the investigator is like.

I realise now that I probably could have done the same earlier, just googled pathfinder 2e and witch and it likely would have got me to the same place.

Damn, the Paizo website won't let me sign in, I'll have to get back to it later to try and buy the pdf.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Thanks, I google advanced player's guide and the 2e edition of it came up. Witch, Oracle, Investigator, and Swashbuckler are the classes represented in the book. Kind of curious to see what the investigator is like.

I realise now that I probably could have done the same earlier, just googled pathfinder 2e and witch and it likely would have got me to the same place.

Damn, the Paizo website won't let me sign in, I'll have to get back to it later to try and buy the pdf.
Interesting. The PF1 Advanced guide was Alchemist, Cavalier, Inquisitor, Oracle, Summoner, and Witch.

Looks like they went for a straight "big 4/core class archetypes" and that's all. Investigator, in PF, is generally used as a Fighter sub-archetype. Witch is the "arcane caster/wizard" sub-archetype. Oracle the "divine caster/cleric" sub-type. Swashbuckler, clearly, the Rogue-related sub-type.
 

cbwjm

Legend
Interesting. The PF1 Advanced guide was Alchemist, Cavalier, Inquisitor, Oracle, Summoner, and Witch.

Looks like they went for a straight "big 4/core class archetypes" and that's all. Investigator, in PF, is generally used as a Fighter sub-archetype. Witch is the "arcane caster/wizard" sub-archetype. Oracle the "divine caster/cleric" sub-type. Swashbuckler, clearly, the Rogue-related sub-type.
I think Alchemist has become such a popular class in PF that they put it in the core book. The summoner was in Secrets of Magic which is where I thought I saw the witch but it was only the magus and the summoner. I'm wondering if they'll add the cavalier or if that's going to (or already has, might find out when I can access the Paizo website and buy the advanced player's guide) become an archetype that can be added onto any class.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
I really liked the subtle differences in spellcasting mechanics that different core classes had for a short time during 5e playtest, but I am not so sure about different max spells level... I don't see a particular value in that kind of variety.

I mean, it could be different (and I would not care much if multiclassing becomes more complicated) but it wouldn't feel important to me.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
I really liked the subtle differences in spellcasting mechanics that different core classes had for a short time during 5e playtest, but I am not so sure about different max spells level... I don't see a particular value in that kind of variety.

I mean, it could be different (and I would not care much if multiclassing becomes more complicated) but it wouldn't feel important to me.
I believe in the core idea -and it's not mine, so I (maybe) shouldn't be trying to explain it- but for those concerned with the "lack of equal power" of casters that have 7-9 spell levels vs. those having only 5 or 6. I think the proposition is that Warlocks and Bards (in particular) would cap out at 5th level spells they can cast/have spell slots for.

But they would have their own class features, like a Mystic Arcanum or "Uncovered Secrets" or something like that that would/could allow access to a limited number of higher level spells. Maybe the Warlock masters "incanting" and/or a Bard channels a "song of revelation" that produces one 6th level effect at, say, 16th, a 7th level at 18th, and one 8th level mystery at 19th or 20th. Once you know it/choose one, that's the mystery you have discovered/mastered/figured out/learned or been granted and it can't be changed. So, you can "pull something out of your bag of tricks" in a pinch. But you aren't stewing in 7th, 8th, 9th level magic juices all of the time. It's an effort. It's a special ability of your class that most other classes (who aren't "full/sole wizard" types) will never have access.

These second and third tier casters should be magical, but that doesn't necessarily have to mean they must equal the "full caster" classes or the classes whose entire shtick is supposed to be spells and casting. One of 5e's least appealing features is "too many full casters" (another is "too many casters of a certain spellcasting ability").

I think it helps the class, the archetype, the flavor, the game as a whole for Warlocks/Bards/Shamans/et al have magical abilities -and non-magical abilities a wizard wouldn't (and I'd argue isn't supposed to) have- but there is no reason they should be able to use magic to a degree and expertise to match a full generalized mage whose only archetype thing is spellcasting...even if they can (and should be able to) hold their own.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Close, @steeldragons

A Bard/Warlock 5th mystery under this idea would be the same power as a Sorcerer/Wizard level 9 spell. And equal to a Cleric/Druid 7th circle spell.

Bard spells would be:
1st Mystery equal to level 1 Wizard.
2nd Mystery equal to level 3 Wizard.
3rd Mystery equal to level 5 Wizard.
4th Mystery equal to level 7 Wizard.
5th Mystery equal to level 9 Wizard.

Fewer spells, bigger gaps in power, but in place of 2, 4, 6, and 8th level spells they get other Bard Abilities that are interesting, thematic, and strong without being additional spellcasting. But when that Bard does get a new spell it's significantly stronger than their previous spells (It skipped a level of power, basically). Gaining magic in big steps, rather than consistent study.

Just seems like an interesting way to do it, to me.
 

nevin

Hero
I think 9 spell levels is still too many. Plus the fact that all the existing spells at level 7 and higher, with the lone exception of Wish because it's a sacred cow, do not add anything truly beneficial to the game. I think it's all bad design at those level.

My frustration is with half casters and third casters. I think it's fine to get a spell level 2-3 levels behind a full caster. I think it's honking absurd to get a spell level 6-9 levels behind a full caster. Simply put, there is no way for those new spells to still be the same spells that the other class got and not have them end up completely underpowered. It's ridiculously depressing as a player.

So, what I would do is this:

LevelHeavyweight CasterMiddleweight CasterLightweight Caster
11--
211-
3211
4221
5321
6322
7432
8432
9543
10543
11654
12654

And then I would limit the number of spells per level per day. Heavyweights get up to 4 spells per level per day. Middleweights get 2-3 spells per level per day. Lightweights get 1-2 spells per level per day.

I don't particularly care what happens above level 12, and 5e's design tells me that WotC doesn't really, either.



Multiclassing rules are a tail wagging the dog. The game should, first and foremost, work with single class rules. If rules can't be envisioned that make sense, then ditch multiclassing.
So you either need different spell lists so that the 1/3 and 1/2 casters have special spells that match their class or if you do this then you have to bump up wizard martial ability for exactly the same reason you are bumping the hybrid casters. Then we have to bump up full martials so they don't get left behind and now we are back at 3rd edition
 


Fanaelialae

Legend
Close, @steeldragons

A Bard/Warlock 5th mystery under this idea would be the same power as a Sorcerer/Wizard level 9 spell. And equal to a Cleric/Druid 7th circle spell.

Bard spells would be:
1st Mystery equal to level 1 Wizard.
2nd Mystery equal to level 3 Wizard.
3rd Mystery equal to level 5 Wizard.
4th Mystery equal to level 7 Wizard.
5th Mystery equal to level 9 Wizard.

Fewer spells, bigger gaps in power, but in place of 2, 4, 6, and 8th level spells they get other Bard Abilities that are interesting, thematic, and strong without being additional spellcasting. But when that Bard does get a new spell it's significantly stronger than their previous spells (It skipped a level of power, basically). Gaining magic in big steps, rather than consistent study.

Just seems like an interesting way to do it, to me.
The problem, as I see it, is that while the bard might be balanced against the wizard at levels x, y, and z (assuming they get balanced features to make up for the gap in spell level progression), as soon as they get to level (z+1) and gain a new level of spells they're arguably imbalanced, because they have spells just as good as the wizard AND those features as well. It creates a jagged progression (whereas I'm of the opinion that, while perfection is unattainable, good design should aim for as smooth a progression as is attainable).

Additionally, this creates an issue with the spell levels themselves. There are already issues with the existing 1-9 spell level system, where some spells are too good and others aren't good enough for their spell level. A system with only 5 spell levels (meant to account for 20 character levels of progression) will undoubtedly have significantly greater issues with respect to such. I'd much rather see a spell level progression that paralleled character level progression.

That said, I wouldn't be opposed to greater caster differentiation per se. However, I think this approach adds undue complexity without opening up much (if any) actual design space.

If you want to differentiate the casters, then as I see it, there are two routes one could take.

The first would be to create entirely different casting systems for the different caster types. While this would undoubtedly add significant complexity, the resulting extra design space might be worth it (assuming it was done well).

The second would be to (for example) modify the casting classes to use the existing system in unique ways. For example, clerics might only be half casters, but could gain Thaumaturgy features that grant them the ability to perform miracles that the existing spells cannot accomplish (perhaps in this paradigm, healing spells are no longer spells, but rather a Thaumaturgy feature). This would also open up design space, while encapsulating added complexity within individual classes, but at the cost of less reuse of (high level) spells. Admittedly, if your goal is differentiation of casters, that's arguably a pro. However, in terms of effective use of page count, the less high level spells are shared, the less worthwhile it is having a lot of them in the rule book.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
This raises something that I was always curious about. Why, exactly, are there 9 levels of Wizard spells anyways? Is this a reference to something? Because it seems to me, especially with a 20-level system, that a logical progression would be to have the Wizard gain a new level of spells every 2 levels, with level 10 spells coming in at 19th level. I know some settings (2e Dark Sun, ancient Netheril) have 10th level spells, but why that was never adopted as a standard is curious.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
This raises something that I was always curious about. Why, exactly, are there 9 levels of Wizard spells anyways? Is this a reference to something? Because it seems to me, especially with a 20-level system, that a logical progression would be to have the Wizard gain a new level of spells every 2 levels, with level 10 spells coming in at 19th level. I know some settings (2e Dark Sun, ancient Netheril) have 10th level spells, but why that was never adopted as a standard is curious.
Cantrips = "0 level" spells...so, 0-9...10 spell levels.

[Edit] I know we had 9 spell levels before we had cantrips. But it does make for 10 levels of magic. Just pointing that out.

Also, looking at it now...I am not opposed to changing the progression to the above suggestion. If we're giving 3 at will cantrips at 1st level, 4 cantrips at 2nd level, and your 1st "circle/tier/level" spells not kicking in at 3rd. I think I could get behind that. [/edit]
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Sure but then the progression is weirder. You start with 2 levels of spells, and gain a new one every 2 levels except at 19th when you don't.

And um, I can't be the only person who thinks starting numbering at "0" is a very strange decision.
 

Arcane: wizard
Divine: cleric, paladin
Primal: druid, ranger
Occult: bard, witch
Sorcerer: check your bloodline. Might be the same with the witch, I'd have to reread core rules again (actually, it looks like the witch isn't out in Pathfinder 2e, or at least not in the books I have for it.).
The witch can get access to any spell list, depending on the mystery chosen. It's in the Advanced Players Guide, BTW.

And unfortunately the degree of crossover between arcane and occult lists is huge. It would be better if the nature of occult vs. arcane were better-defined, because there is so much overlap they play almost identically.
 

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