Should bring back diverse spellcaster level design.


I think the fact that they've tried to fix every complaint by standardizing things is the problem. Every spell list should have it's own niche. Why do wizards get control weather? Shouldn't that be limited to Druids and nature clerics? I'd like to see the spells demarcated better so maybe Bards are better at charm spells and have a greater variety of them than anyone else. Druids should have nature spells with some crossover for nature clerics and Clerics should be the undisputed masters of healing and divine retribution whether that's curses, or holy fire that bypasses most defenses. Maybe warlocks should just be better at summoning,(just spitballing never played the class), The original spell lists (when the only hybrid was rangers) were like that. Rangers didn't have their own spell list they just got a few magic user and druid spells at high level. But people complained the Arcane list was so broad and they were so weak and then it drifted over to clerics were too powerful and just healbots and now we have the end result of 50 or so years of reactions to complaints and devs fixing thier pet peeves.

complicated means far more impacts due to the law of unintended consequences than simple. Thus the chaotic mess that is Dnd and pathfinder spells.

I've noticed if you get people face to face and talk in real detail the things they are usually complaining about are because of one encounter where one character caught the DM by surprise and destroyed his bad guy. Or a player got caught by surprise and another class one upped them in what they thought was their special spot.

In my opinion if we want cool, differentiated casters then we have to split up the spell lists give each caster a strong niche and plenty of generally useful spells and give up the idea of standardizing everything to obtain that mythical balance. Also there should be some things that some types of casters just can't do. Such as creating permanant items with magic. I don't think an arcane caster should be able to detect magic on divine magic and vice versa.

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The other way, of course, if people don't like breaking down/differentiating casters by their "kinds" of magic, then it could be done by -properly- changing where classes sit in the "full-or-some percentage" caster across all kinds of magic.

That is, what I mean is, give every "type" of magic its 9 levels. How much of those 9 levels you gain access to is purely a matter of class. I would further attach the spell casting abilities to help even those out.

Full Caster: Int.
(9 spell levels)
3/4 Caster: Wis.
(access 7th level)
Half Caster: Cha.
(access 5th level)
1/4 Caster: any
(access 3rd level)
Arcane MagicMage/WizardWitchSwordmage/Bladecaster (PF style "Magus")"Eldritch Knight,"
"Arcane Trickster"
Divine Magic"Invoker/Incanter?"
(some all-caster priest/cleric)
Nature MagicDruidShamanBardRanger (if you insist on spell-ranger)
Occult MagicPsychic/Psion"Dragon sorcerer," Psi-Warrior, et al.Warlock"Shadowalker,"
"Soulknife," et al.


So the Bard loses out on 2nd level wizard spell equivalents, right? Gets a cool thing equal to having 2nd level wizard spell equivalents. Then gets their next level of spellcasting and gets the same level equivalent as 3rd level wizard spells, maintaining the parity of their spell levels, but retaining the thing that they got in place of 2nd level wizard spells! What's the Wizard get?

2nd level spells.

The Bard misses out on total spell slots available, and relies on the ability they got instead of 2nd level casting to be equal to, not greater than, the wizard.

That is a really good point. That spells aren't really that well balanced against each other, or even at their own level.

You'd need to spend time working out some kind of formula to make their costs similar. Which WotC either hasn't done or did poorly. But that's less an issue with this idea and more an issue of WotC's balancing metrics.

Disagree, but I'm interested in your ways of doing it!

Definitely interested. Honestly I think Warlock is the only caster who is remotely interesting in 5e because of their reduced spell slots recovered on a long rest and most of their exploration and social pillar casting shunted off into Invocations which creates this great dynamic of "Combat Magic" and "Noncombat Magic".

Honestly, if WotC embraced that they would certainly have an easier time of balancing spells in a given level...

Making them Half-Casters just makes them Paladins, though. And Druids into Rangers.

Okay, you could argue that they'd have different class abilities separate from their martially-oriented counterparts, but take a look at your expansion of the Thaumaturgy cantrip to also function as Lay on Hands (In addition to healing it eventually gets status-effect removal and stuff, like higher level cleric magics)

Huh! I did not know that. It's a good, solid, number, for certain! Evocative. Three and Three and Three for double layered mysticism.

The bard doesn't necessarily lose out on 2nd level equivalents. They're simply crammed into either the spell level before or the spell level after (hopefully adjusted in power to match).

What you're proposing with the 5 spell levels is essentially cherry picking the best spell levels (ie, Shield, Fireball, Wall of Force, Forcecage, Wish) AND getting extra features on top of that to make up for the "lost" spells.

There is no formula for creating balanced spells. Designing balanced spells is as much an art as it is a science.

It has nothing to do with WotC's balancing metrics and everything to do with your idea. If you have fewer spell levels with respect to character levels, you end up with a design area that is much bigger (than if your spell levels correspond to character level). The existing 9 level spell progression only needs to account for two levels of character progression (and yet we still see significant variance among the spells therein). If we do as you suggest and have a 5 level spell progression, then each spell level needs to account for 4 character levels of progression, meaning that significantly greater variance is all but inevitable (you are starting from a less finely calibrated metric for the power level you are aiming for).

Making clerics half casters doesn't make them paladins, unless we assume that paladins are unchanged within this new paradigm (which is just silly). Paladins might lose casting altogether and entirely rely on (martially leaning) Thaumaturgy. Or, since paladins aren't explicitly servants of the divine in 5e, you could give them their own mechanics that are based around the swearing of oaths. Oath magic.

No, I wasn't referring to the Thaumaturgy cantrip (which had actually slipped my mind). I was speaking of hypothetical class features which I was tentatively referring to as Thaumaturgies.

That's an interesting observation regarding 3x3x3. I think you may well be correct. I wonder if, similarly, the reason that priests had 7 spell levels was due to religious associations with the number 7 (seven divine virtues, seven deadly sins, etc)?


It's an issue, and one that people should be wary of. This, however, is not that. The intention is three-fold:
1) Make Wizards/Sorcerers the most comprehensive caster classes.
I don't see why this produces this effect or is required for this effect.

I don't know what you, specifically, mean by "comprehensive" (I could repeat the question back).

2) Create greater class fantasy in the other caster classes by taking away specific spell level gains to add in thematic abilities.
I don't see why this produces this effect or is required for this effect.

"spell level gains" when you go from "up to 6" "up to 7" or "up to 9" end up being no different, just paced slightly differently. So there is no "power budget" gain here.

3) Help to foster a greater sense of difference between the spellcasting classes.
I don't see why this is required to produce this effect. Your use of the word "help" means to you you also don't think so.

By adding granularity to spellcasting you create a feeling of more significant difference between different kinds of spellcaster, different kinds of magic. And different leveling schemes while retaining the same overall leveling scheme.
This reads to me as "arbitrary differences between classes with minimal gameplay impact make the game better"?

Arcane magic becomes the steady progression of mastery over magic. While Clerics and Druids have their focus split with religious rites and whatever but still hold their own in overall power to arcanists. And then Warlocks and Bards, as occultists, take giant steps in power but plateau for a while between as they seek out -other- ways to flex their power before they attain a new level of power. Big mystical breakthroughs rather than continued study, sort of.
Except every X levels they are tied in magical power.

So in those X levels, any stuff the Warlock/Bard gained has to also be gained by the Wizard/Sorcerer in similar scale, or one ends up better than the other.
And then you have the design space it creates. What ability could you give to someone that is as powerful as 2nd level spellcasting? What class identity can you put in at that level that winds up dropped off to the wayside because they get new spells and thus need no class ability in standard 5e?
2nd level casting isn't a feature? Having spells that are X good is a feature.

You just delayed the feature a few levels, you didn't replace it.
Look at those class tables. They get almost nothing class specific after level 3. It's just improvement of their early level class-defining trait(s) and then Divine Intervention. Other than higher level spells there's just so little to look forward to. And, honestly... that's the same as Wizard.
Yes, because the power budget of both classes is consumed by "full caster".

If you change the pact you gain "full caster" that changes nothing about the power budget. You are only changing the pace.

Warlocks, at least, with their invocations get a variety of interesting options they can manipulate at different levels.
To most people, the Warlock short-rest casting isn't as strong as the full daily slots. This weakness ends up providing for power budget for invocations.
And bards are a bit better off than most casters.
Bard spell list is very passive/indirect, and they know very few spells. Sorcerer's metamagic and the Bards bag-o-tricks help make up for that weakness. I think the Bard is overtuned, honestly.


If you want more power budget for neat class features for full casters, don't tweak pacing. Tweak power.

For example, strip back the spells/day classes get:


Or even worse, lose lower level slots to gain higher level slots.

Then you can add in class features for classes that get to cast more. Like, a Sorcerer might get a 50% chance to keep a slot after they use it to cast, or when a Wizard uses a slot they can cast the spell again once at 2x casting time. r whatever.

The point is that 5e designed it so that spellcasters got almost all of their class power from their spellcasting. You can change this.

Another approach would be to just boost the non-full casters with more features, and thus give room for features on the full casters.

None of these require tweaking the progression of when you gain a new tier of spells.


I feel a lot of the discussion misses the purpose of spell levels and their usage in 5e.

There's no point of a 3/4 caster until you define mechanical the limits of 7th level spells and how a character would use those levels of spells.


I'll say the quiet part out loud. Bring back Dual-Classing! It's hard to qualify for, and makes your character function as a member of their new class, only allowing them to mix and match abilities at higher level.

(Am I serious or joking? I'll never tell).
I can't speak for anyone else, but the quiet part in my post was the edition I didn't mention when I was listing failed multiclassing schemes. :)

James Gasik

But Dual Classing is great! So simple- you are one class, now you are another class! One day maybe you'll be both classes! Huzzah!

Ok, ok, I admit it, I'm not serious.

James Gasik

Gestalt and Hybrid were nice. 5e's multiclassing supporting caster/caster combinations is nice, IMO, but apparently not great for people who want more variance in their caster classes.

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