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D&D 5E Too Much Spellcasting in Your D&D? Just Add a Little Lankhmar!

Stormonu

Legend
I’m a bit surprised at the backlash at this, there were several supplements back in at least 2E that used this (notably, all the Historical Reference supplements).

Yes, if you slow down the spellcasting, you’re going to have significantly less spellcasters in the party, because that is what your aiming for. If the gaming group is on board with accepting that (and hats off if they do), go for it.

One of the things that has always irked me about 3E and beyond is the lack of drawbacks to the magic system*. There’s no reason NOT to take magical abilities and you’re simply gimping yourself if you don’t. Every so often I want that “magic is corrupting/dangerous” aspect in the game or campaign, but its not built into 5E.

* Old spells, such as haste’s aging, the shout spell causing your heart to explode or polymorph turning you into that pile of goo from the transport accident in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Or teleporting into a wall with Teleport…
 

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TwoSix

Unserious gamer
I understand what you are saying but with these rules why would anyone want to play a Wizard or Sorcerer. What are they going to do during a combat encounter? Take 4 rounds to cast a spell or attack with a dagger? You are essentially making these classes unplayable unless you give them some martial abilities to offset these losses.
It's weird how fighters have no features to use outside of combat compared to a wizard, but no one suggests this makes the class unplayable.

Now, the obvious rejoinder to that is that a fighter can still interact with the environment and makes skill checks, but comparing a skill check to dominate person or wind walk is like comparing a fighter with three attacks to a wizard with, well, a dagger.

I don't think the OP's suggestion would work well with 5e without some other changes to the class design, but the idea of "martial classes handle combat, and spellcasters handle out-of-combat" is a good one.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Ironically, punishing non-buff magic encourage only the bards you hate.

On the one hand, I was thinking more about utility spells than buff spells.

On the other hand, unintended consequences are a hell of a thing. Bards are the cockroaches of D&D; always unwelcome, but no matter how many you stamp out, you know there's more scurrying about in the darkness.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
As a possible compromise, what if spells kept the same casting time, but casting a spell required a "recharge" period for the caster to gather power again, equal to 10 times the casting of the spell? So you could cast fireball at the start of combat, but it takes one minute to cast another spell again? It would give a nice little buff to spells like moonbeam or flame blade that generally get overshadowed by constantly casting cantrips.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
It's weird how fighters have no features to use outside of combat compared to a wizard, but no one suggests this makes the class unplayable.

Now, the obvious rejoinder to that is that a fighter can still interact with the environment and makes skill checks, but comparing a skill check to dominate person or wind walk is like comparing a fighter with three attacks to a wizard with, well, a dagger.

I don't think the OP's suggestion would work well with 5e without some other changes to the class design, but the idea of "martial classes handle combat, and spellcasters handle out-of-combat" is a good one.

The problem with this, is that even if a fighter isn't as useful out-of-combat, they can still participate. They can still chip in ideas, attempt to force open doors, intimidate folks, etc. They can still have fun and be helpful.

But this makes spellcasters utterly useless in combat. So the player will largely be sitting around, and on their turn have little impact on the combat. A core part of D&D is being a combat simulator, and these changes will make combat mostly unfun for spellcasters.
 


TwoSix

Unserious gamer
The problem with this, is that even if a fighter isn't as useful out-of-combat, they can still participate. They can still chip in ideas, attempt to force open doors, intimidate folks, etc. They can still have fun and be helpful.

But this makes spellcasters utterly useless in combat. So the player will largely be sitting around, and on their turn have little impact on the combat. A core part of D&D is being a combat simulator, and these changes will make combat mostly unfun for spellcasters.
But a spellcaster can still participate. They have weapons, and can still provide concentration spells. They can still have been fun and be helpful.
 

I’m a bit surprised at the backlash at this, there were several supplements back in at least 2E that used this (notably, all the Historical Reference supplements).

Yes, if you slow down the spellcasting, you’re going to have significantly less spellcasters in the party, because that is what your aiming for. If the gaming group is on board with accepting that (and hats off if they do), go for it.
At least for me it's a ridiculously convoluted way of banning spellcasting when you just want to ban spellcasting.

If a gaming group is going to be okay with making it so anyone who wants to play a spellcaster suffers, they'll be okay with just cutting out the middleman.
 


LoganRan

Explorer
But this makes spellcasters utterly useless in combat
For 5E, this is actually untrue.

In old-school D&D, Magic-users (what we called Wizards back in the day) were indeed pathetic in combat when they weren't casting spells. In modern day D&D, however, a Wizard (if "built" in a certain way) is really only slightly less effective using weapons than other classes.

An Elf wizard in 5E is proficient with bows, assuming the player bumps the wizard's DEX up as the second highest score for the PC, one could easily have a 16 DEX granting a +3 bonus to hit and damage with bows. This elven wizard would have a total of +5 to hit and +3 to damage with a longbow at first level. Not really that far off of what a rogue or fighter would be capable of.

Honestly, this makes the fact that casters get ad infinitum spammable damage cantrips even more perplexing in my mind.
 

Urriak Uruk

Debate fuels my Fire
But a spellcaster can still participate. They have weapons, and can still provide concentration spells. They can still have been fun and be helpful.

On the margins, sure they can be helpful. But no, I don't think spellcasters would have much fun; it's the big reason why 5E made clerics more than just healers, as buffing and healing isn't usually much fun. People like to make stuff explode and kill the bad guys, and this would remove that for spellcasters. Most players who enjoy spellcasters would not enjoy such changes to weaken them.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
At least for me it's a ridiculously convoluted way of banning spellcasting when you just want to ban spellcasting.

If a gaming group is going to be okay with making it so anyone who wants to play a spellcaster suffers, they'll be okay with just cutting out the middleman.

Naw, I don't want to ban spellcasting. Far from it!

That's trivially easy. But yes, I am looking at dramatically reducing the use of spells in combat, and I remembered Lankhmar. Back when we played it, we still had spellcasters, but they were a very considered choice. Spells became rare, spellcasting was rare, and that made the overall effect of spells (within the world) that much more interesting.

It's sort of a first sortie into a more complete idea. But yes, if you're the type of person who wants a spellcaster to be able to pew pew pew with spells the same as a martial character does with a sword in combat, this definitely wouldn't work for you. But, you know, that's the idea.
 

But a spellcaster can still participate. They have weapons, and can still provide concentration spells. They can still have been fun and be helpful.
No one who plays a spellcaster is excited about getting to fire a crossbow instead of using a spell. ENWorld shook with fury when that was pushed as their primary contribution in the low levels of 3E play.
 


Honestly, this makes the fact that casters get ad infinitum spammable damage cantrips even more perplexing in my mind.
It's about matching player expectations. A fire bolt that does the same thing as a crossbow bolt is largely the same thing from the DM's perspective, but for a player who's playing a spellcaster because they want to cast spells, it's a very big deal.

But yes, this wasn't something that spellcasters could do until 4E. In late 3E, they introduced the concept in some of the later spellcaster-focused splatbooks and D&D fans were divided on it.
 


Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
For real, you should pick up Dungeon Crawl Classics. I think you'd love it and its sense of humor and 1E mindset* on things.

* 1E if your DM had done a lot of drugs before coming to the table.

If?

To paraphrase my friend, Blaster Bob, "Snarf, there is a time and place for everything, even drug use. And that time is now, and that place is EX1 and EX2."
 

LoganRan

Explorer
It's about matching player expectations. A fire bolt that does the same thing as a crossbow bolt is largely the same thing from the DM's perspective, but for a player who's playing a spellcaster because they want to cast spells, it's a very big deal.

But yes, this wasn't something that spellcasters could do until 4E. In late 3E, they introduced the concept in some of the later spellcaster-focused splatbooks and D&D fans were divided on it.
I understand why people who like to play casters (in the interest of full disclosure, I prefer playing martials) want to be able to do something "magic-y" every round but cantrips are the thing I dislike most in 5E because, to me, magic is supposed to be a rare and finite resource. Spammable cantrips completely "de-magic" magic in my mind.

I'm actually a little surprised that people who like the notion of being magical are fully on board with making magic so...mundane.
 

It's sort of a first sortie into a more complete idea. But yes, if you're the type of person who wants a spellcaster to be able to pew pew pew with spells the same as a martial character does with a sword in combat, this definitely wouldn't work for you. But, you know, that's the idea.
Pew Pew is not what I want to do, though I feel like that's splitting away a massive chunk of why people would want to play casters.

Me? I want to throw up walls and shields. I want to attack my foe's mind or weaken them. I want to call upon some horrible monster to slaughter those who oppose me. I want to make the fighter a giant. I want to teleport around the battlefield.

I want to do anything but 'be bad at using basic weapons aggressively'.

I ply a spellcaster because--shockingly--I want to cast spells.
 


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