1e PH said:With this spell, the caster creates the circular plane of null-gravity known as Tenser's floating disk after the famed wizard of that appellation (whose ability to locate treasure and his greed to recover every copper all well known).
The difference here is that real world scientists are real people who have actually done something to deserve the respect, and that the use of their names is done to avoid confusion. D&D wizards are not real, not even in the context of the history of most published campaign settings, and their names are not needed to distinguish spells.
Does it matter if a spell is "Melf's Acid Arrow" if there is no other thing in the game called "Acid Arrow"? It doesn't do a thing to add to clarity. On the other hand, Euler's Number or the Pythagorean theorem are rather important to clarifying which number or theorem is being discussed...
Still, I'm not a fan of this style of naming spells after random wizards simply because I've never cared about them at all. When I first started playing with 3E I didn't have a clue who they were, the game never even briefly explained who they were, and I just thought their names were weird and out-of-place. Nothing over the last several years has changed that initial opinion.
Sources of inspiration from the Dying Earth to Dr. Strange use flowery spell names: Phenahl's Second Hypnotic Spell, The Crimson Bands of Cytorakk, The Excellent Prismatic Spray, Thrindle's Combustion, The Flames of the Faltine.This is an issue with D&D Next that I don't know the design team has even looked at in any major way. In the latest survey, they spammed out all these old spell names, many with names of "some old Wizard or something" attached. I've been around longer than the game and they don't even mean much to me any more. What are they supposed to mean to newer players?
I think its ok to use spell names to imply a world.
I just think they've done a terrible job at it. The implied characters don't have any character. You can add character, but that's kind of a stupid way to go about things. The whole point of implied character is that its supposed to imply something. Its not supposed to imply that something could, theoretically, be made up to fill in a detail of the game world.
And yeah, yeah, I know that Mordekainen has some lengthy history in some dusty book that isn't going to be explained in the 5e phb. That makes it irrelevant to this conversation.
Greywiki tells me that Mordenkainen developed a spell entitled "Mordenkainen's Defense Against Nonmagical Reptiles and Amphibians." This does not imply a game world. And the addition of a completely empty proper noun at the front of that spell title does not do much except imply that there are other wizards, that some of them make up spells, and that they suck at naming things.
You can't even add up all the spells Mordenkainen ever made, and deduce things about his character. There's no thematic connection between them.
Its just not well done. Maybe it was, once. Maybe it was... once. When everyone knew Greyhawk, cared about its lore, and wanted to play games in it. But now we're just hearing the decrepit echos of an earlier era, rasping unwelcome in unexpected places.
Game history is preserved and passed down to new gamers, and DMs get seeds from which new adventures could grow. I could see an adventure in which the PCs discover a portion of a scroll that hints at other spells from Evard or Tenser...