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Thread: Vancian magic

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    Default Re: Vancian magic

    As an expansion on the coding analogies, Vancian also makes a lot of sense to me as an autistic person with executive dysfunction since mentally preparing for specific tasks ahead of time is something I kinda have to do, and if I don't prepare the right mental headspace for the right tasks it actually screws me over for the entire day. And indeed, you shouldn't ask me to do it more times than I'm prepared to do it. There being something about magic that makes it work that way in the mind is pretty interesting and evocative.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It's a little out of vogue right now (with his more recent megawork being Stormlight Archive), but Brandon Sanderson's Mistborn series has a magic system that, while not exactly Vancian, also has the element of being unable to do X even though you did it a few minutes ago and you still can do Y.
    A Practical Guide to Evil has a much more explicit version in Aspects, which often have a limited and specific number of uses per day (typically one or three), which is disconnected from a character's other abilities. Vancian is certainly a relatively rare magic system (though the most common one is Drain, and not Spell Points, as a lot of anti-Vancian people advocate for), but it's far from absent from the source material.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I basically agree. D&D is D&D, not "generic fantasy".
    D&D is kitchen sink fantasy. I don't think it's unreasonable to look at a game with multiple kinds of ungulate beastman, or more kinds of core fish person than Shadowrun has core metatypes, or forty kinds of dragon and be upset that it focuses so much on a single model of magic.

    IMO, the push for the d20 system was flawed intrinsically--promising something the underlying fundamentals couldn't deliver. But that's a separate thing.
    The notion of a generic system is inherently flawed. Any system with more mechanical detail than Munchausen makes compromises in its underlying rules engine that make it poorly suited for some kinds of stories. For example, the commitment to a flat RNG caused problems for d20 Modern, because that kind of setting is better-modeled by dicepools.

    And I'd split "Vancian magic" into a few pieces:
    Frankly I would disagree with calling most of those "Vancian magic" to any real degree. "Spells do a thing" is just a property of a system with distinct spells, which includes Vancian magic, but also plenty of systems that use Spell Points or At-Wills. Spell levels is a function of the fact that D&D is a level system, not something specific to Vancian Magic. What makes it Vancian is preparing spells ahead of time.

    Quote Originally Posted by Scots Dragon View Post
    D&D 5e files it down a bit. You can cast any of your spells of a given level as long as you've got a spell slot open for it, sorta like a semi-spontaneous caster.
    I would say that 5e just doesn't have traditional Vancian Casting. It has something close, but for better or for worse, I don't think it's correct to call it "Vancian" as-implemented.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NigelWalmsley View Post
    Frankly I would disagree with calling most of those "Vancian magic" to any real degree. "Spells do a thing" is just a property of a system with distinct spells, which includes Vancian magic, but also plenty of systems that use Spell Points or At-Wills. Spell levels is a function of the fact that D&D is a level system, not something specific to Vancian Magic. What makes it Vancian is preparing spells ahead of time.

    I would say that 5e just doesn't have traditional Vancian Casting. It has something close, but for better or for worse, I don't think it's correct to call it "Vancian" as-implemented.
    I guess I phrased it poorly. What I meant was more along the lines of breaking down D&D magic into those components, some of which are Vancian and others are not. But which often get conflated into one thing (ie "D&D magic is Vancian", when neither of those is a strict subset of the other--there is Vancian magic that is non-D&D and there is D&D magic that is non-Vancian).

    Although Vance's magic in the Dying Earth books did have the "do one thing" component. He didn't have spell levels per se, but there was a distinction between "lesser" and "greater" spells, and decidedly discrete spell elements IIRC. And, IIRC (it's been a while), his casters really didn't memorize multiple copies of spells. And just had way fewer spells known and prepared. And didn't have to wait for 8 hours to reload. So Vance =/= D&D. As with most things, D&D took the source material and made it something different.

    Some forms of D&D magic are Vancian. Others are not. So removing the "traditional vancian" components doesn't make it "not D&D magic". And that's been more-or-less true since the beginning, in a bunch of different ways.

    And even 2e and 3e, the kings of Vancian magic (I can't speak for earlier ones) had non-vancian systems. Sorcerers (etc) in 3e, psionics in 2e, any number of weird and wacky power systems in both.

    I, for one, do not miss the traditional vancian prep methods. Either from a worldbuilding perspective or from a gameplay perspective, although I'm more ok from a worldbuilding side. The gameplay, in my opinion, was miserable and put strong pressures in directions I did not like (heavy emphasis on character prep and 5D chess, for one). But those are just strictly opinions.
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    Default Re: Vancian magic

    This subject always drags out the truth about the participants of the conversation. As an old school guy I like it just fine and realize the value it holds for balance and variety. I have had many fun times trying to use my prepared spells in new ways to contribute in unforseen situations.
    It seems to me that there are many people that think by simply putting Wizard on the character sheet that they should be the best at everything all the time and the game is only fun if they feel in total control. I've seen first hand when the Wizard is handed all the spells and does not have to prepare. You get a table full of bored people waiting for a chance to do anything.
    WotC likely understood some portion of this as they created the Sorcerer which embodies both lines of thinking. Sorcerer's just pick their spells once instead of changing daily. I actually prefer the Sorcerer style if it matters but it's mainly flavor and less bookkeeping for newer players.
    Quote Originally Posted by McMindflayer View Post
    Of course, this still doesn't answer the question... "How does it POOP?"
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoDT69 View Post
    This subject always drags out the truth about the participants of the conversation. As an old school guy I like it just fine and realize the value it holds for balance and variety. I have had many fun times trying to use my prepared spells in new ways to contribute in unforseen situations.
    It seems to me that there are many people that think by simply putting Wizard on the character sheet that they should be the best at everything all the time and the game is only fun if they feel in total control. I've seen first hand when the Wizard is handed all the spells and does not have to prepare. You get a table full of bored people waiting for a chance to do anything.
    WotC likely understood some portion of this as they created the Sorcerer which embodies both lines of thinking. Sorcerer's just pick their spells once instead of changing daily. I actually prefer the Sorcerer style if it matters but it's mainly flavor and less bookkeeping for newer players.
    This post seems both needlessly insulting and to inaccurately describe the drawbacks of Vancian casting. It is a common complaint that even with the Vancian-like casting of 3e, the problem of players feeling like they just wait for the wizard to solve it arises.

    Furthermore, nothing in the proposals that those who dislike Vancian casting have put forth suggests they feel mages should have "all the spells," so I'm not sure where that aspersion comes from.

    I happen to think pseudo-Vancian casting works well for the game and the fluff, so I'm hardly opposed to your position on those grounds, but your post seems full of inaccuracies and needless insults to those who do not share your liking of Vancian casting. Which isn't very helpful to supporting your point.

    I encourage you to reconsider how you present your views.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    This post seems both needlessly insulting and to inaccurately describe the drawbacks of Vancian casting. It is a common complaint that even with the Vancian-like casting of 3e, the problem of players feeling like they just wait for the wizard to solve it arises.

    Furthermore, nothing in the proposals that those who dislike Vancian casting have put forth suggests they feel mages should have "all the spells," so I'm not sure where that aspersion comes from.

    I happen to think pseudo-Vancian casting works well for the game and the fluff, so I'm hardly opposed to your position on those grounds, but your post seems full of inaccuracies and needless insults to those who do not share your liking of Vancian casting. Which isn't very helpful to supporting your point.

    I encourage you to reconsider how you present your views.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    This post seems both needlessly insulting and to inaccurately describe the drawbacks of Vancian casting. It is a common complaint that even with the Vancian-like casting of 3e, the problem of players feeling like they just wait for the wizard to solve it arises.

    Furthermore, nothing in the proposals that those who dislike Vancian casting have put forth suggests they feel mages should have "all the spells," so I'm not sure where that aspersion comes from.

    I happen to think pseudo-Vancian casting works well for the game and the fluff, so I'm hardly opposed to your position on those grounds, but your post seems full of inaccuracies and needless insults to those who do not share your liking of Vancian casting. Which isn't very helpful to supporting your point.

    I encourage you to reconsider how you present your views.
    It seems you are making an assumption here. I said *many* not *all* opposed to Vancian magic have that viewpoint. You have been here slightly longer than I have, so I'm sure you've seen this attitude yourself over the years. You are also assuming that I'm trying to sway others to agree. This is the sort of thing people like or don't and almost never change their minds. Besides, why would I want to convince other people to play my way if they prefer their own way,?
    Max_Killjoy's response is exactly what I was anticipating. Over the last 5 years or so the temperament of the Playground has turned a bit more aggressive on those who don't share the majority opinion.
    Quote Originally Posted by McMindflayer View Post
    Of course, this still doesn't answer the question... "How does it POOP?"
    Quote Originally Posted by TheFurith View Post
    I roll a swim check on the street. Why not, right? Through a series of rolls I rob a bunch of people of 75g. I didn't actually notice their existence but I swam over there and did it anyway because this guy couldn't make sense if he tried.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KoDT69 View Post
    It seems you are making an assumption here. I said *many* not *all* opposed to Vancian magic have that viewpoint. You have been here slightly longer than I have, so I'm sure you've seen this attitude yourself over the years. You are also assuming that I'm trying to sway others to agree. This is the sort of thing people like or don't and almost never change their minds. Besides, why would I want to convince other people to play my way if they prefer their own way,?
    Max_Killjoy's response is exactly what I was anticipating. Over the last 5 years or so the temperament of the Playground has turned a bit more aggressive on those who don't share the majority opinion.
    It's not the failure to share "the majority opinion" that draws the criticism, in this case, but the way you cast aspersions on anybody who disagrees with you by opening by saying that "This subject always drags out the truth about the participants of the conversation." And then going on to imply that they have been revealed to want all the spells, etc.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scots Dragon View Post
    As an expansion on the coding analogies, Vancian also makes a lot of sense to me as an autistic person with executive dysfunction since mentally preparing for specific tasks ahead of time is something I kinda have to do, and if I don't prepare the right mental headspace for the right tasks it actually screws me over for the entire day. And indeed, you shouldn't ask me to do it more times than I'm prepared to do it. There being something about magic that makes it work that way in the mind is pretty interesting and evocative.
    Speaking of my experiences, I'm an autistic person who doesn't like vancian casting. I've seen a view a couple times over the years on the forum that this magic system is "for autistics" and I don't inherently believe that. I've never been interested in playing a wizard, because if I want to use magic I want to be able to use it reliably, thematically and to do cool things, not to do the preparation work I have to do in real life. that and while I like choice, too much choice gives me analysis paralysis at times as my mind tries to consider every possibility, when I just want to get on with it and not take up other peoples time while doing what I like not what I need to do. I'd rather play a warlock. Sorcerer, if we must insist on being the glass cannon of hodge-podge ammunition.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    It's not the failure to share "the majority opinion" that draws the criticism, in this case, but the way you cast aspersions on anybody who disagrees with you by opening by saying that "This subject always drags out the truth about the participants of the conversation." And then going on to imply that they have been revealed to want all the spells, etc.
    Again, I said many people do think that way. Not all. Look at any Wizard vs. Anything type thread. You will see it for yourself.
    Quote Originally Posted by McMindflayer View Post
    Of course, this still doesn't answer the question... "How does it POOP?"
    Quote Originally Posted by TheFurith View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoDT69 View Post
    Again, I said many people do think that way. Not all. Look at any Wizard vs. Anything type thread. You will see it for yourself.
    Indeed, the response I have seen in such threads is entirely orthogonal to the claims you make about what people seem to believe. I find your assertions about what people talk about on this forum to be inaccurate. Perhaps I misunderstand you, but what you seem to be saying people believe or seek, and what people actually suggest, do not seem to align.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Speaking of my experiences, I'm an autistic person who doesn't like vancian casting. I've seen a view a couple times over the years on the forum that this magic system is "for autistics" and I don't inherently believe that. I've never been interested in playing a wizard, because if I want to use magic I want to be able to use it reliably, thematically and to do cool things, not to do the preparation work I have to do in real life. that and while I like choice, too much choice gives me analysis paralysis at times as my mind tries to consider every possibility, when I just want to get on with it and not take up other peoples time while doing what I like not what I need to do. I'd rather play a warlock. Sorcerer, if we must insist on being the glass cannon of hodge-podge ammunition.
    Seconding this: I am an autist and I can't help but think that Vancian casting is inherently irrational.

    If you're doing most of the spellwork ahead of time and only completing the casting then there is no meaningful difference between a "wizard" and gadgeteer making one-shot gadgets or building a gun with special ammunition.

    Especially when it comes to expensive spell components. You are literally just assembling something ahead of time and paying for it with cash—I don't want my Wizard to literally be Batman.

    It makes a bit more sense with Clerics becuase you're asking your god for the power to perform miracles and they're the ones deciding what you get so an argument can be made that your pre-prepared spells are the ones your God decided you'd need that day, but for Druids, Favored Souls, or any Arcane Caser...

    It's a bit more tolerable with spontaneous casters since you don't have to prepare ahead of time, but one of my favorite classes in 3.5 was the Warlock becuase "discrete magical abilities that you can use at will for no cost once you know how" is the closest to what my platonic ideal of "magic" is like.

    I honestly think that the spontaneous casting model is better than hard Vancian casting or a "choose which spells you can cast today" half-vancian, but that a mana system would be even better if you absolutely have to limit how many spells someone can cast in a single day.
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    I was just thinking out loud that those overtly aggressive people in those threads would also be against Vancian magic because the other options would give more flexibility/power to the caster. I wasn't trying to pick a fight or anything.
    Quote Originally Posted by McMindflayer View Post
    Of course, this still doesn't answer the question... "How does it POOP?"
    Quote Originally Posted by TheFurith View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    Seconding this: I am an autist and I can't help but think that Vancian casting is inherently irrational.

    If you're doing most of the spellwork ahead of time and only completing the casting then there is no meaningful difference between a "wizard" and gadgeteer making one-shot gadgets or building a gun with special ammunition.

    Especially when it comes to expensive spell components. You are literally just assembling something ahead of time and paying for it with cash—I don't want my Wizard to literally be Batman.

    It makes a bit more sense with Clerics becuase you're asking your god for the power to perform miracles and they're the ones deciding what you get so an argument can be made that your pre-prepared spells are the ones your God decided you'd need that day, but for Druids, Favored Souls, or any Arcane Caser...

    It's a bit more tolerable with spontaneous casters since you don't have to prepare ahead of time, but one of my favorite classes in 3.5 was the Warlock becuase "discrete magical abilities that you can use at will for no cost once you know how" is the closest to what my platonic ideal of "magic" is like.

    I honestly think that the spontaneous casting model is better than hard Vancian casting or a "choose which spells you can cast today" half-vancian, but that a mana system would be even better if you absolutely have to limit how many spells someone can cast in a single day.
    Yeah like....maybe I'm just a younger generation than all the people who like vancian magic....but to me magic is like Zuko kicking ass with fire he just blasts at people, or things that are just willed like psychic stuff or the force, or any number of the mana systems from my videogames. it just how I'm wired. I get the vancian magic system evokes something older where you do a ritual over bubbling cauldrons and magic circles and pentagrams like the image of some witch going "bubble bubble, toil and trouble", but somehow stop and make it so that you can somehow complete the final part of the ritual at any time to unleash the spell, but that doesn't actually jive with the my ritualist caster sensibilities where its like, if I want my magic to be ritual and sacrifices type then having an exploit to make so that it can held and finished later is the exact thing I DON'T want because the entire point of the rituals is that you have to do the whole thing in sequence, once it starts it can't stop, you gotta sacrifice that pig when at the sun's zenith and no later or earlier and if you miss your chance you miss your chance, and I'd rather it be a grand affair where if I'm doing a ritual its supposed to be something important, big, something that matters, not my daily routine.

    like give me a magic system where I can just do magic flexibly as apart of my badassery or give me a magic system where I have to do a big ritual to summon a single demon but once I do they're powerful and obey me for an entire year and a day, but don't give me this weird system where the latter is turned into a smaller lamer version that I hold off on completing it until after breakfast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Segev View Post
    Indeed, the response I have seen in such threads is entirely orthogonal to the claims you make about what people seem to believe. I find your assertions about what people talk about on this forum to be inaccurate. Perhaps I misunderstand you, but what you seem to be saying people believe or seek, and what people actually suggest, do not seem to align.
    Your reaction was the same as mine -- that the comment was a clear accusation that people who don't like Vancian magic are all power-gaming wizard-boos.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Yeah like....maybe I'm just a younger generation than all the people who like vancian magic....but to me magic is like Zuko kicking ass with fire he just blasts at people, or things that are just willed like psychic stuff or the force, or any number of the mana systems from my videogames. it just how I'm wired. I get the vancian magic system evokes something older where you do a ritual over bubbling cauldrons and magic circles and pentagrams like the image of some witch going "bubble bubble, toil and trouble", but somehow stop and make it so that you can somehow complete the final part of the ritual at any time to unleash the spell, but that doesn't actually jive with the my ritualist caster sensibilities where its like, if I want my magic to be ritual and sacrifices type then having an exploit to make so that it can held and finished later is the exact thing I DON'T want because the entire point of the rituals is that you have to do the whole thing in sequence, once it starts it can't stop, you gotta sacrifice that pig when at the sun's zenith and no later or earlier and if you miss your chance you miss your chance, and I'd rather it be a grand affair where if I'm doing a ritual its supposed to be something important, big, something that matters, not my daily routine.

    like give me a magic system where I can just do magic flexibly as apart of my badassery or give me a magic system where I have to do a big ritual to summon a single demon but once I do they're powerful and obey me for an entire year and a day, but don't give me this weird system where the latter is turned into a smaller lamer version that I hold off on completing it until after breakfast.
    Like, you know me.

    If we are doing a Marvel Superheroes game, I will never play a MArvel style sorcerer. Not unless my character is also a God, Demon, Fae, or someone like the Scarlet Witch, something like that. One of the rules of Marvel Verse Magic is that it always has a cost. At a bare minimum, you have to take the energy from somewhere, but if you don't have the energy to power it, every time you cast "The Crimson Bands of Cyttorak" or "The Gaze of Dormammu" you are putting yourself in debt to those beings. There are ways to cheat them out of reclaiming it, but even Doctor Strange whose magic is subsidized in like a dozen ways has to occasionally preach for Cyttorak to be able to keep casting the Bands.

    It's implied that the vast majority of sorcerers aren't so much casting the spells as they're asking someone else to cast a spell for themselves. sometimes in advance and paying for it later, to tie it back to Vancian casting.

    Mortals are noted to be bound by more rules and have to pay more costs and accumulate more debt than non-mortals, with exceptions.

    If I'm playing a magic-user, either give me a mana pool to draw from(that refreshes at a reasonable rate,) give me rituals where the only cost is how much time and money I'm willing to put in doing it right, or just let me do a handful of spells that I study and then I can use at will for free.

    Or something like the Force, where you're drawing power from a source of energy and can use it as much as your body can handle but only in certain ways.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rater202 View Post
    Like, you know me.

    If we are doing a Marvel Superheroes game, I will never play a MArvel style sorcerer. Not unless my character is also a God, Demon, Fae, or someone like the Scarlet Witch, something like that. One of the rules of Marvel Verse Magic is that it always has a cost. At a bare minimum, you have to take the energy from somewhere, but if you don't have the energy to power it, every time you cast "The Crimson Bands of Cyttorak" or "The Gaze of Dormammu" you are putting yourself in debt to those beings. There are ways to cheat them out of reclaiming it, but even Doctor Strange whose magic is subsidized in like a dozen ways has to occasionally preach for Cyttorak to be able to keep casting the Bands.

    It's implied that the vast majority of sorcerers aren't so much casting the spells as they're asking someone else to cast a spell for themselves. sometimes in advance and paying for it later, to tie it back to Vancian casting.

    Mortals are noted to be bound by more rules and have to pay more costs and accumulate more debt than non-mortals, with exceptions.

    If I'm playing a magic-user, either give me a mana pool to draw from(that refreshes at a reasonable rate,) give me rituals where the only cost is how much time and money I'm willing to put in doing it right, or just let me do a handful of spells that I study and then I can use at will for free.

    Or something like the Force, where you're drawing power from a source of energy and can use it as much as your body can handle but only in certain ways.
    Yeah I can see why: you don't like having to do things for jerks who think they have authority. and that sounds like the dire half dragon divine/sorcerous version of that. vancian magic is technically rituals where you have to put time and effort into getting right, but I agree with your other point: if I want to be a gadgeteer, I'd just played a gadgeteer in like M&M where there is a variable power to pull stuff out of my utility belt/ass. or freeform or Fate where I can just narrative declaration up that I have tool for the situation saying my character was prepared even if I the player am just improvising. actually planning and replanning my spell list every session? what am I, made of time?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Your reaction was the same as mine -- that the comment was a clear accusation that people who don't like Vancian magic are all power-gaming wizard-boos.
    Except that's not what I said. Many people do have that attitude. But let me restate my opinion using your terms.

    Not all people that are opposed to Vancian magic are power-gaming wizard-boos, but as far as I can remember the vast majority or power-gaming wizard-boos that I have encountered were against Vancian magic.

    There is a difference.
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    Quote Originally Posted by KoDT69 View Post
    I was just thinking out loud that those overtly aggressive people in those threads would also be against Vancian magic because the other options would give more flexibility/power to the caster. I wasn't trying to pick a fight or anything.
    I have argued on the topic of Vancian magic quite a lot (though surely much less than some people here, admittedly) and I'm not sure I've ever seen that attitude, much less in a majority. Personally, I'm kind of the opposite – someone who's against Vancian magic and against wizards being stupidly powerful and flexible. Vancian magic on its own doesn't mean wizards will be less powerful or versatile compared to a non-Vancian system – just look at D&D where the Vancian wizard is famously overpowered and versatile.

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    Quote Originally Posted by KoDT69 View Post
    Except that's not what I said. Many people do have that attitude. But let me restate my opinion using your terms.

    Not all people that are opposed to Vancian magic are power-gaming wizard-boos, but as far as I can remember the vast majority or power-gaming wizard-boos that I have encountered were against Vancian magic.

    There is a difference.
    Strange.

    Most of the power-gamingwizard-boos I encountered were very pro Vancian casting because the the caster-noncaster disparity is rarely as big as in D&D and the "but i have to prepare and might have the wrong spell" is a very very cheap price for allowing the wizard access to nearly all the magic and having now real limit on how many of them can be in his books.

    Most systems without Vancian casting have weaker wizards and optimizers know that.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    I have argued on the topic of Vancian magic quite a lot (though surely much less than some people here, admittedly) and I'm not sure I've ever seen that attitude, much less in a majority. Personally, I'm kind of the opposite – someone who's against Vancian magic and against wizards being stupidly powerful and flexible. Vancian magic on its own doesn't mean wizards will be less powerful or versatile compared to a non-Vancian system – just look at D&D where the Vancian wizard is famously overpowered and versatile.
    Indeed, the vancian system despite its strange limitations is actually incredibly powerful compared to many of the magic systems I can think of. this is because its limitation is knowledge, not energy. as long as you figure out some manner of ending a day with more magic spells/items than you started, you can infinitely build up power with it, no matter how unoptimized you are with its use. thats basically what all its exploits boil down to: say you make a +1 magic sword. you don't need to power the sword. its just better now, forever. realize this applies to most magic items in the game and you get why its so powerful. you don't need to power any of this, they just work for no reason as long as you know how to make them in the first place.

    of course many other generic magic systems tend to be videogame ones which have certain medium limitations that keep them from being too exploitable. but at the same time its quite curious that the cleric and wizard get simplified down into white mage and black mage roles of healing and blasting respectively. you'll never have these problems with a black mage, Wow Mage or Dragon Age mage because most of they do are firing evocation spells in some manner, DA Mages are probably the most flexible and powerful of the three examples, but they're nowhere near vancian ridiculousness.

    there are non generic magic systems but they're so specific that they don't really factor into the discussion as I'm assuming a certain level of "generic western magic" is being discussed rather than specific kinds which while valid aren't really relevant to playing the generic fantasy archetypes we know and love.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    I have argued on the topic of Vancian magic quite a lot (though surely much less than some people here, admittedly) and I'm not sure I've ever seen that attitude, much less in a majority. Personally, I'm kind of the opposite – someone who's against Vancian magic and against wizards being stupidly powerful and flexible. Vancian magic on its own doesn't mean wizards will be less powerful or versatile compared to a non-Vancian system – just look at D&D where the Vancian wizard is famously overpowered and versatile.
    If anything, I see the opposite more. People seem to think that Vancian Magic is the reason the Wizard is powerful, which is really obviously nonsense when subjected to basic analysis. What makes the Wizard powerful is that they get spells that are powerful, and the vast majority of those spells would still be equally powerful if they were running off of Spell Points or Drain or At-Will or whatever the hell. It probably is true that Vancian is more restrictive than the average magic system, but the claim that's being advanced about how anti-Vancian people behave is totally disconnected from reality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Raziere View Post
    Indeed, the vancian system despite its strange limitations is actually incredibly powerful compared to many of the magic systems I can think of. this is because its limitation is knowledge, not energy.
    No, it's because it has powerful effects in it. Vancian Magic has rather tight energy limits compared to many other systems. In fact, you could reasonably argue that those limits are part of what defines Vancian Magic. Benders are clearly less powerful than (high-end) D&D Wizards, but that's not because they're limited by energy (I can't think of any instances where someone "uses up" their bending in any real way). It's because "element blasts" are much less powerful than the kind of magic D&D gets. Similarly, an Allomancer can top up by downing a handful of metal flakes, it's just that their powers aren't as impressive as high level spells.

    you'll never have these problems with a black mage, Wow Mage or Dragon Age mage because most of they do are firing evocation spells in some manner, DA Mages are probably the most flexible and powerful of the three examples, but they're nowhere near vancian ridiculousness.
    That's nothing to do with "Vancian". That's just "if you don't give people ways to accumulate power, they don't accumulate any power". Which, sure, but that's got nothing to do with the resource management system. If WoW Mages suddenly got a spell that permanently boosted their mana regen, you'd see the exact same dynamic you're describing (AIUI, some of the Elder Scrolls games do allow this sort of thing, and have the predictable effect of letting you buff your stats to arbitrarily large levels).
    Last edited by NigelWalmsley; 2021-01-25 at 08:37 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NigelWalmsley View Post
    If anything, I see the opposite more. People seem to think that Vancian Magic is the reason the Wizard is powerful, which is really obviously nonsense when subjected to basic analysis. What makes the Wizard powerful is that they get spells that are powerful, and the vast majority of those spells would still be equally powerful if they were running off of Spell Points or Drain or At-Will or whatever the hell. It probably is true that Vancian is more restrictive than the average magic system, but the claim that's being advanced about how anti-Vancian people behave is totally disconnected from reality.
    Yes, I've seen that too and while I don't particulary like neither Vancian magic nor the power level of D&D wizards, I agree that those are separate issues. It's what the spells can do, rather than how they're cast, that makes D&D magic powerful.

    (Hey, we're agreeing on something. That might be a first. )

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    The efficacy of Vancian magic is highly dependent on the spells that are available, and the rest of the system surrounding it.

    In B/X (I use Old School Essentials as my clone):
    • There are only 6 levels of spells.
    • If you are hit while casting the spell is lost.
    • You can not move at all while casting.
    • You have to declare casting before you know your initiative.
    • Many classic spells are much more flexible, allowing "non-standard" use


    Vancian casting fits very well given all these game assumptions.

    But it is possible to change so much of the game (spell descriptions, combat mechanics, power levels, etc.) that the system loses much of what made it great in earlier systems.

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    Batcathat - What's odd to me is that we had opposite experiences. I currently live in a college town which is very near 2 other college towns, and grew up in a town in which D&D was a very popular thing even among the jocks. The notion I've dealt with was an attitude akin to "I'm a powerful Wizard, and if I can drop 7th-9th level spells, why should I have to waste my time on that weak stuff". I've seen what a table looks like when the GM has this attitude and uses the Spell Point system and you got half a dozen Wizards spamming wishes at deities. Sure that was an extreme case (and good for a laugh or 3) but the general tendency of using variant systems to allow more "Nova" wizards is something I've seen a ton of. I can only speak to my own personal experience here. As far as people on this forum being that way, I'd assume those louder opinions may just be more prevalent in the types of threads I read? I know I don't read everything as I don't get too much free time.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Democratus View Post
    Vancian casting fits very well given all these game assumptions.
    Can you expand on why? Many of those seem like essentially arbitrary choices that have nothing in particular to do with Vancian Magic in either direction. What makes six the correct number of spell levels in a Vancian system? Why is casting being effectively a full-round action important for Vancian Magic to work properly?

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    Quote Originally Posted by NigelWalmsley View Post
    Can you expand on why? Many of those seem like essentially arbitrary choices that have nothing in particular to do with Vancian Magic in either direction. What makes six the correct number of spell levels in a Vancian system? Why is casting being effectively a full-round action important for Vancian Magic to work properly?
    Sure. I'll give one example.

    • Many classic spells are much more flexible, allowing "non-standard" use


    A common complaint about Vancian casting is that if you don't have the right spell memorized you are rendered useless.
    The fact that spells in older systems are more flexible means that you can often force a spell to do something useful by creative application of the spell.

    Vancian magic is a sub-system within a game. It doesn't exist in a vacuum. So the question of whether Vancian magic causes the issues raised in many of the posts here and elsewhere is highly dependent on these other factors.

    It may work very well for OD&D but not be appropriate at all for 4th edition D&D or Mage: The Ascension.

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    I don't think I've seen this tidbit from 3.PF brought up:

    When preparing spells for the day, a wizard can leave some of these spell slots open. Later during that day, she can repeat the preparation process as often as she likes, time and circumstances permitting. During these extra sessions of preparation, the wizard can fill these unused spell slots. She cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because she has cast a spell in the meantime. That sort of preparation requires a mind fresh from rest. Like the first session of the day, this preparation takes at least 15 minutes, and it takes longer if the wizard prepares more than one-quarter of her spells.
    Clerics and druids explicitly do not have this option in 3.5, which I think is a mistake; they were given the option in Pathfinder. Being able to hold back some of your resources in order to better adjust to what you've come across in the course of the day takes a lot of pressure off a caster, and I think being aware of this could assuage a lot of people who stick to martial classes because they find Vancian spell prep intimidating or frustrating.

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    Quote Originally Posted by jinjitsu View Post
    I don't think I've seen this tidbit from 3.PF brought up:

    When preparing spells for the day, a wizard can leave some of these spell slots open. Later during that day, she can repeat the preparation process as often as she likes, time and circumstances permitting. During these extra sessions of preparation, the wizard can fill these unused spell slots. She cannot, however, abandon a previously prepared spell to replace it with another one or fill a slot that is empty because she has cast a spell in the meantime. That sort of preparation requires a mind fresh from rest. Like the first session of the day, this preparation takes at least 15 minutes, and it takes longer if the wizard prepares more than one-quarter of her spells.
    Clerics and druids explicitly do not have this option in 3.5, which I think is a mistake; they were given the option in Pathfinder. Being able to hold back some of your resources in order to better adjust to what you've come across in the course of the day takes a lot of pressure off a caster, and I think being aware of this could assuage a lot of people who stick to martial classes because they find Vancian spell prep intimidating or frustrating.
    They do have the option, actually, it's just hidden away as a pointer to the arcane preparation section instead of repeated verbatim:

    Quote Originally Posted by Magic Overview, Divine Spells
    Spell Selection and Preparation
    A divine spellcaster selects and prepares spells ahead of time through prayer and meditation at a particular time of day. The time required to prepare spells is the same as it is for a wizard (1 hour), as is the requirement for a relatively peaceful environment. A divine spellcaster does not have to prepare all his spells at once. However, the character’s mind is considered fresh only during his or her first daily spell preparation, so a divine spellcaster cannot fill a slot that is empty because he or she has cast a spell or abandoned a previously prepared spell.
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    Default Re: Vancian magic

    I never had the problem of Vancian magic not fitting my idea of magic because a lot of the stories I read had at least some magic that worked like that. For example, the Winding Circle series by Tamora Pierce has both spontaneous and Vancian-style spellcasting by the same characters - ambient mages could draw upon power in their surroundings to do things right away, such as grabbing at a nearby storm to shoot lightning at someone, but if that same character wanted to be able to shoot a lightning bolt indoors on a calm day, she had to have previously stored lightning in one of her braids, and undo that braid to cast the lightning.

    Another of my favorite series, the Hollows series by Kim Harrison, has a type of magic known as earth magic, which mostly runs off of making potions. If you didn't want to spend 30 minutes preparing your spell before you use it, you'd have to prepare the potion ahead of time and carry it with you. (That same setting also had ley line magic, which was faster and more flexible, but also failed to work in places that didn't have a good connection to a ley line, such as if you were above running water.)

    Lots of modern fantasy stories have characters preparing their magic ahead of time, often having to prepare specific usages of magic separately. And most also have it contrasted with more spontaneous spellcasting, like D&D does. The only real difference is that D&D spellcasters generally don't have some kind of physical manifestation of stored power like Tris' braids in Winding Circle or Rachel's potion bubble things in Hollows, but if that bothers you, you can easily change how you describe your character's spellcasting to resolve that.

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