5E UA Spell Versatility: A deeper dive

Yaarel

Adventurer
Bear in mind that these entries aren't meant to be read in isolation - they're intended to be inserted into the existing PHB text. The wording is a lot less ambiguous when the paragraph is simply one more sub-heading under the Spellcasting class feature.
I suspect this is true, that this UA will become some kind of expansion of the Players Handbook itself. Somehow. But I dont know this is true.
 

Krachek

Adventurer
(I also agree with Krachek's post. As a person, I'm sympathetic to the suggestion that it's selling WoTC's design team short, but as a pragmatist, having a deep understanding of organisational psychology and having attended thousands or tens of thousands of meetings over many, long, decades of professional life, he's basically captured how most decisions are made. Both decisions about a game of make-believe where people pretend to kill orcs and take their stuff, and decisions about how to spend many, many millions of taxpayers dollars. Sad, but that's reality).

Cheers, Al'Kelhar
I was somewhere very sarcastic with my post, but in fact I’m a huge fan of the dev team of 5th.
i was trying to point out that we surely overestimated and misunderstand the real work of game design,
Chart, value point of abilities and spells are tools for wargames and other pvp game.

DnD is now very far away from its wargame origin.
the trend now is story telling, a showtime between friends, and for reading those trends wotc do very good job.

people now don’t want to be in a system of ”live with the consequence of your past choices” or “consequence of failure“ as a thread we have seen lately.
 

PsyzhranV2

Explorer
You seem to be developing a habit of being rude to people. Please stop.
Doesn't happen to my players, but it doesn't matter.

The problem is not even necessarily designing a game where all spellcasters know all their spells. The problem is changing the established rules of the game. Especially because there is nothing wrong to fix here.
You sound like those people that get their knickers in a twist whenever a game receives a QoL patch. Is "git gud" in your standard vocabulary? Do you enjoy mocking hapless noobs as their play experiences runs into dead ends?
 
You sound like those people that get their knickers in a twist whenever a game receives a QoL patch. Is "git gud" in your standard vocabulary? Do you enjoy mocking hapless noobs as their play experiences runs into dead ends?
I have no idea what you mean.

I am one of "those people" who play a RPG or TTG as-is, deeply and fully, without complaining much about it not being what it is (save for minor specific bits), adding material but not "patches", ignoring revisions and half editions.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
I was thinking of feedbacking the idea that sorcerers can change one metamagic instead of a spell once a day. It seems like that would add versatility (days when you are trying to sneak around, subtle magic might be better to have then elemental magic) but still keep the spontaneous feel of the class.

For warlocks, I would go with something like you get one more spell known, but it has to be one of the pact spells, and once a day you can change that out for another pact spell of a level you can cast.
 

ad_hoc

Adventurer
Only if by "this feature" the text refers to a different feature that's not "this feature".

spellvers.jpg


Spell versatility is a 1st-level feature. It's reaching to make assumptions that "this" refers to anything else.

The other thing I would point out is that the spell selected has to match the level replaced. As a 1st level feature that's going to lock it into cantrips or 1st-level spells as well.






Quote Reply

Report Edit
Again, if your interpretation were true then the ability would not do anything.

If 'replace one spell learned from this spellcasting feature'

Well...the character has not learned any spells from the 'spell versatility' feature so there are no spells to replace.

I get that you have claimed this so you want to keep arguing it, but you are just wrong. It doesn't matter how many times you say "RAW". This isn't about intent, this is about what is actually written.

Your interpretation makes no sense.
 

RSIxidor

Explorer
Perhaps instead of spell versatility, it should just be one versatile spell known.

You would have your regular spells known, which are static except through leveled retraining. Then, separately from this, an extra "known spell" that can be changed daily. This would prevent the "change the entire repertoire" issue that some have with the UA-proposed feature. It could be changed to a different level slot as you gain more levels but is always just the one variable known spell. Number of known spells could be modified a bit but since it floats at any level, not sure how much to modify it, if at all.

I also really like the suggestion in the other thread to keep it spell level 5/6 or lower, as a more simple solution, alongside allowing daily preparers to prepare their cantrips daily the same way they prepare spells of 1st level or higher.
 
My colours were nailed to the mast on this topic from the get-go. I honestly think Spell Versatility is bad design. It is to address a perceived problem with the inflexibility inherent in the "spells known" classes.
Well, it's not just a perceived problem, it is a very real difference in versatility, and thus effectiveness - in 3.5, it delineated the difference between Tier 1 and Tier 2 casters. It still does, in 5e, it's just that the gap is wider, because...

It is a fundamental change to the way in which those classes "know" spells. It is, quite simply, making "spells known" classes into "spells prepared" classes. It breaks down the distinction between the two different mechanics.
TBF, 5e already broke down that distinction.

Probably un-needed hiistory lesson: 3.0 introduced 'spontaneous casting,' with the sorcerer. The 3.x spontaneous casters had fixed known spells but flexibility in how they cast them with slots, from round to round (and, not for nothing, moar slots, more hps, and - probably for nothing, a few more weapons and a few less skill points), while the prepped casters used the more traditional Vancian memorization mechanic, able to change their spells every day, but needing to decide not only which spells they could cast each day, but how many times they'd be able to cast each of them. So the Tier 2 spontaneous casters had 'tactical flexibility' and the extra slots to 'spam' a spell turned out to be particularly good at them moment, while the Tier 1s had 'strategic flexibility' to bring the best spell for the job to any situation (they could forsee).

5e has both removed the extra slots from spontaneous casters, and given their crown-jewel, spontaneous casting mechanic, to prepped casters, so now they're 'known spell' casters, their casting strictly inferior to the unprecedented-even-in-3.x versatility of the neo-Vancian set.

And that is, apparently, a fire that needs more gasoline.
 
Last edited:

Bacon Bits

Adventurer
Firstly, I would just like to point out that:

Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters appear to have been completely forgotten.

Also, High Elves should be included if you are allowing cantrip changing.
Again, these are just optional rules. The PDF is not Moses come down from Sinai with the tablets containing The Word of God. You're supposed to pick and chose and modify things as you see fit.

Only if by "this feature" the text refers to a different feature that's not "this feature".

spellvers.jpg


Spell versatility is a 1st-level feature. It's reaching to make assumptions that "this" refers to anything else.
Honestly, I can't take this argument seriously. This screenshot contains a rule tip that says -- in big bold letters -- "Cantrips Are Spells [...] When a feature applies to spells, that feature applies to cantrips[.]" Like, I'm sorry, but the only reason to put that rule tip there is because they're intending Bard, Sorcerer and Warlock Spell Versatility to include cantrip versatility. If they intended otherwise, they would have included a rule tip that clarifies that cantrips aren't learned from the same feature as other spells.

Edit: Besides, as it was pointed out in another thread, Cantrips are not a separate feature from Spellcasting. They're listed as one of the subheadings of Spellcasting. Cantrips you gain are spells you gained through the Spellcasting feature.
 
Last edited:

Bacon Bits

Adventurer
To increase clarity, Spell Versatility should say:

Spell Versatility
1st-level bard feature (enhances Spellcasting)
Whenever you finish a long rest, you can replace one spell you learned from [the bard] Spellcasting feature with another spell from the bard spell list. The new spell must be the same level as the spell you replace.

Heh, using pronouns like ‘this’ without a clear antecedent is a style failure that English teachers warn us about.
Except these rules add to the Bard class description. Multiclassing is an optional rule, remember? All considerations for multiclassing should be presented in the multiclassing rules section. How this feature works with multiclassed spellcasters would be described there. Yes, I understand that there are practical considerations with doing that in supplemental rules, but that's kind of the nature of supplemental rules.
 

Bacon Bits

Adventurer
Perhaps instead of spell versatility, it should just be one versatile spell known.
I could see tables doing something like that if they think this option would be a problem.

Personally I don't think this is necessary. Versatility from being able to swap spells known is definitely going to suffer from diminishing returns. In other words, there are going to be 1-3 spells at most spell levels that most players will never want to sacrifice. That's why Wizards don't really complain, right? Everybody wants fireball or healing word or charm person or misty step or shield, etc. You always pick the most valuable spells to know first, right? So there's not a lot of de facto gameplay difference in allowing a PC to spend weeks to completely change their spell list. It's just not going to happen in most games. They're very, very unlikely to want to change the lion's share of their spells. Few actual players will want to do that, and if they do than something so catastrophic happened to that PC or in that campaign that that character was going to be useless unless they spent that week learning a new set of spells.

Think about your Clerics, Druids, and Wizards. How often do they exchange spells? How many do they exchange? IMX, it's 1 or 2 tops that change. Sure, you might then argue that, "one slot is too many then because it's maximum versatility gained and one is all you'll ever need," but I have to think that this optional rule just wouldn't be applied at those kinds of tables.

You would have your regular spells known, which are static except through leveled retraining. Then, separately from this, an extra "known spell" that can be changed daily. This would prevent the "change the entire repertoire" issue that some have with the UA-proposed feature. It could be changed to a different level slot as you gain more levels but is always just the one variable known spell. Number of known spells could be modified a bit but since it floats at any level, not sure how much to modify it, if at all.
Thinking about it, I like this idea less.

I think it conversely provides more versatility for highest level spells because it allows you to chose a spell of any level essentially at the cost of a 1st level spell known. Normally, when you hit level 5, you learn 1 new spell (certain to be 3rd level) and you can lose a 1st or 2nd level spell to learn a second 3rd level spell. So you're stuck with two 3rd level spells max. With as-written spell versatility, you never get to a third 3rd level spell known until level 6. If you set aside one spell slot as "versatile", then you can get to a third 3rd level spell slot: One 3rd level spell from level, one from swapping, and one from versatility.

Unless you introduce a table to control spells known by spell level you can't prevent this from happening. Worse, if you just stop the highest known spells from being versatile, then you subvert the primary purpose of the option: allowing players to correct mistakes or experiment with their spell selection. If you can't experiment with 3rd level spells until level 6 or 7, you're really failing to accomplish the goal your rule is intended to accomplish.

I suppose you could eliminate the core swap-spell-on-level-up, but now, again, you're eliminating the ability to correct mistakes.

I think the as-written rule in UA is the overall best version of this rule I've seen so far. Indeed, the more I think about it, the fewer problems I have with it.

I also really like the suggestion in the other thread to keep it spell level 5/6 or lower, as a more simple solution, alongside allowing daily preparers to prepare their cantrips daily the same way they prepare spells of 1st level or higher.
Eh. I don't really care about 7th to 9th level spells. First, they don't come up in 90% of games. Second, I would never implement this kind of limitation without seeing it in actual play first to determine if it was actually necessary. Spell power in 5e is a lot lower than it was in prior editions. And again, it's not a problem for Wizards, Clerics, or Druids to do it. It will take some convincing to get me to agree out-of-hand that it's automatically a problem for Sorcerers or Bards.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Well, they do, at least, benefit indirectly from the expansion of the Wizard spell list.
As I was thinking more about it, I think its probably because both of those Subclasses already gain the benefits of Cantrips while Rangers/Paladins are the only classes/subclass options in the game without Cantrip access of some sort.

A fighter with an EK fighting style + EK at 3rd level would have more Cantrips than either a sorcerer or a wizard.

As "niche" casters as well, I can see not wanting to extend the Cantrip Versatility to them either.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
On the other hand, if I wanted to have a fighter/mage type character by choosing fighter and moving into the EK subclass, a fighting style that let me choose 2 wizard cantrips would make my PC feel more like a fighter/mage than it would while waiting for level 3.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
On the other hand, if I wanted to have a fighter/mage type character by choosing fighter and moving into the EK subclass, a fighting style that let me choose 2 wizard cantrips would make my PC feel more like a fighter/mage than it would while waiting for level 3.
True, and honestly that's probably how they should have structured the EK and AT from the beginning to give that feel until "real spells" hit or something. But a fighting style + the current Subclass structure is too many cantrips for a non-focused caster too early I feel/think.

EK could have been a similar 2 cantrip fighting style, then at 3rd level you get 1 more cantrip + all the normal stuff they already have. Trading fighting style for cantrips seems fair like these Ranger/Paladin options.

AT could have given a similar option, but instead of fighting style, maybe replace 1 or both of the 1st level Expertise options with cantrips, then 3rd level = Mage Hand or +1 cantrip if you already know mage hand, and rest of the subclass as normal.

I say Expertise here because it is a more limited class "resource" than anything else at 1st level (that matters, "shut up and get back to your corner Thieves' cant!"). Maybe trade out a die of sneak attack for cantrips, but that doesn't feel as impactful as trading out your Fighting style for Cantrips. Expertise, on the other hand, feels impactful as a trade, even just one of them feels like you're actually trading something for those Cantrips.

Heck... I might just make that change in my games to see how it goes. Certainly evokes the concept/flavor earlier.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
No. It says "this feature" while using the spell versatility feature. 5e uses specific language and it would have said "bard spell you know" or which ever class if that were the case.

EDIT: it's not one use either. It's one spell known that gets swapped on a long rest, like a floater.
It doesn’t say “this feature”.

It says “this Spellcasting feature”.

Spellcasting is capitalized. “This” refers to the Spellcasting feature that is being modified by the specific Spell Versatility feature in question. Ie, “this Spellcasting feature”, in the case of the Bard, refers to the Spellcasting feature of the Bard class, this clarifying that you can only trade spells learnt through the Bard’s class feature with the specific name “Spellcasting”.

This is both obvious RAI, and RAW.
 

Advertisement

Top