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Thread: Vancian magic

  1. - Top - End - #121
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    Quote Originally Posted by Scots Dragon View Post
    Turns out that literary magic isn't designed to be limited by game balance and therefore doesn't have to be.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Perhaps 'realistic' isn't the right word, but there's something to be said for making it true to fantasy fiction
    Engaging conversation (at least for me, as a (A)D&D player starting in the early 1980s through 4e).

    These two comments, though, really encapsulate my thoughts as I was reading the 4 pages of posts, but there was one additional element that kept flitting around in my head.

    I am not aware of many non-D&D fiction or clear rips (like Slayers, Lodoss, etc) where a) protagonists were a mix of character types (melee/magic/stealth), (b) they were all purported to be of similar level of aptitude where the protagonist "magic users" were capable of an array of effects that would match even a 5th level Wizard. Generally the powerful spell slingers is a supporting cast member with reasons to not solve the story themselves.

    Stories with powerful wizards (in this sense of the phrase) focus on those wizards and don't worry about what Gleep the Soldier or Quince the Rogue are going to do/how they'll feel. They generally present obstacles that are driven by the magic (duh, right?) and adversaries of a similar or greater scope of power.

    Urban fantasy does seem to have a bit more of a mix of things, but I don't think it generally strays too far from that same premise. Barry Drisden might have non-mages around, but they seem to be werewolves, vampires, Holy warriors, or plot-armored cops. Even there, we see that the secondary effects of magic (that some recommend take the place of spell slots) *matter* in fiction (Harry can't microwave a burrito, count on his car to start, or to have hot water for a shower), but are far too easily ignored in a game with three or four other players at the table.

    At the root of it all, I guess is this: You have (a) flexible daily spell inventory, (b) high spell potency, or (c) non-magic users in the game. Pick two.

    Want all three? Make spell casting really carry a cost. Not in coin, fluff or narrative fashion. Channeling the essence of magic through your body hurts the vessel, so apply a hit point cost to casting (yes, kind of like ShadowRun used to have). Manipulating the fabric of the universe draws unwanted attention, so you prepare spells that you expect to cast...but you can change the preparation by spending time to make the change or can risk casting unprepared spells that may have a costly game-based punishment (yes, like Earth Dawn did). But even those things only mitigate the problem, so I like the "pick two" rubric.

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  2. - Top - End - #122
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    I am under impression that I've read quite a few books where it is strongly implied if not outright stated that non-mages can be as deadly as mages but yes they are either tend to portray solitary protagonists (who may be outwitting and outskilling mages) or a world where most outstanding combatants or heroes are trained at least in swordmanship and magic (swordsmanship may also resemble fightan magic, extraordinary social skills or perception may resemble mid-20th century "mind powers" etc.), in which case you may have a team of comparable power but without magic/no magic divide.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    At the root of it all, I guess is this: You have (a) flexible daily spell inventory, (b) high spell potency, or (c) non-magic users in the game. Pick two.

    Want all three?
    Yup. And there's several ways of accomplishing all 3. My personal favorites are

    1) forget about balance.

    2) create high-potency muggles.
    Last edited by Quertus; 2021-01-10 at 02:17 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post
    Yup. And there's several ways of accomplishing all 3. My personal favorites are

    1) forget about balance.

    2) create high-potency muggles.
    Your No. 2 is the norm in supers games (and the 4-color supers genre in comics), where a uber-skilled crimefighter can contribute just as much to the team as a powerful wizard.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mordar View Post
    Engaging conversation (at least for me, as a (A)D&D player starting in the early 1980s through 4e).

    These two comments, though, really encapsulate my thoughts as I was reading the 4 pages of posts, but there was one additional element that kept flitting around in my head.

    I am not aware of many non-D&D fiction or clear rips (like Slayers, Lodoss, etc) where a) protagonists were a mix of character types (melee/magic/stealth), (b) they were all purported to be of similar level of aptitude where the protagonist "magic users" were capable of an array of effects that would match even a 5th level Wizard. Generally the powerful spell slingers is a supporting cast member with reasons to not solve the story themselves.

    Stories with powerful wizards (in this sense of the phrase) focus on those wizards and don't worry about what Gleep the Soldier or Quince the Rogue are going to do/how they'll feel. They generally present obstacles that are driven by the magic (duh, right?) and adversaries of a similar or greater scope of power.

    Urban fantasy does seem to have a bit more of a mix of things, but I don't think it generally strays too far from that same premise. Barry Drisden might have non-mages around, but they seem to be werewolves, vampires, Holy warriors, or plot-armored cops. Even there, we see that the secondary effects of magic (that some recommend take the place of spell slots) *matter* in fiction (Harry can't microwave a burrito, count on his car to start, or to have hot water for a shower), but are far too easily ignored in a game with three or four other players at the table.

    At the root of it all, I guess is this: You have (a) flexible daily spell inventory, (b) high spell potency, or (c) non-magic users in the game. Pick two.

    Want all three? Make spell casting really carry a cost. Not in coin, fluff or narrative fashion. Channeling the essence of magic through your body hurts the vessel, so apply a hit point cost to casting (yes, kind of like ShadowRun used to have). Manipulating the fabric of the universe draws unwanted attention, so you prepare spells that you expect to cast...but you can change the preparation by spending time to make the change or can risk casting unprepared spells that may have a costly game-based punishment (yes, like Earth Dawn did). But even those things only mitigate the problem, so I like the "pick two" rubric.

    - M
    i generally agree most wizards in fiction are probably level 1-5, 7 on a good day, like Schmendrick the Magician, level 7 Wild Mage with access to polymorph other (or 5th level channeler, depending on who you ask)

    Psychic characters by contrast tend to be very high level, but have 1/4th to 1/8th the variety of powers assigned to them,

    meaning over 20-40 years D&D has pretty much invented their own versions of these archetypes. High level mages are now pretty common in Anime, like in Fate/stay night/Zero etc. Isekai anime also has high level wizards.

    What's actually uncommon is high level clerics.

    Making Vancian Clerics to me seemed like a Mistake. Spell Slots? It just never worked. A yin yang counter system like White Wolf's Yin-yang-Po for East Vampires would have worked better (does your god want you to do this? have you been a good boi? does doge make meme faces at your failure to meet ethos standards?)

    i think though, in 2021, it's fair to say there's plenty of media with high level wizards. Emiya from Fate Zero (he and his rival are excellent mages well versed in several spells, some high level, and in enchantment of magic items), Bastaard (stupid high level firemage), Tatsuya Shiba from the irregular at magic highschool (he's a master-magic item designer doing a 21 Jump Street undercover investigation of his sister's school), and Black Clover (sort of like Naruto with spell books instead of jutsu).

    The anime Magi has a whole city dedicated to mages of varying levels from High to Low, and is not far from being an Al Qadim setting.

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    Quote Originally Posted by NigelWalmsley View Post
    That's the issue with the whole "Vancian doesn't model the genre well" objection. It's true, but it's vacuously true, because the alternative systems don't model the genre any better. Yes, there are things that don't work like Vancian Magic. But that doesn't mean we should replace it with Spell Points, because there are also things that do work like Vancian Magic and things that don't work like Spell Points. The answer is, of course, pluralism. Vancian Magic works well for some things (notably, it's a total home-run for the Wizard). But it doesn't work well for other things. D&D is a Kitchen Sink Fantasy game. It can, and should, contain a variety of things. One of those things can be Vancian Magic, but that doesn't mean they all have to be.
    Having played with other systems—MP, fatigue mechanics shared with physical exertion, casting spells dealing being a type of self-targeted psychic attack, limiting Magic’s scope but not limiting its usage, making it a skill anyone can use (but wizards use better), even 4e’s encounter powers—ALL better captured the feeling of magic of EVERY work of fiction that wasn’t explicitly an adaptation of DnD I’ve seen. That’s barely even hyperbole. Actually, due to difficulties balancing narrative possibilities of very high level casters, these non-vancian systems often capture the feel of some DnD adaptations than DnD. Even 3.x sorcerer better captures them.

    Which isn’t to say they were all better for playinga game than DnD’s casting—many were awful for bookkeeping, balance, or complexity issues. But they did a better job of being able to tell stories that were like the ones I was reading/watching outside of the DnD table.

    “I’m still nearly at max strength, but can’t do this one thing I did five minutes ago,” would be absurd in any other system.

    “I know I did it yesterday, but I prepared different spells today,” would be absurd in any other media.

    Even, “I already prepared spells today, I need to rest 8 hours before I can start preparing them again,” would be absurd. Rich fudged this one in OotS during the lizard polymorph sequence.

    “I’m not tired, I just cast all my spells, and can’t recover them until after I sleep,” is absurd even in DnD, even if it is a valid balance concern.
    I consider myself an author first, a GM second and a player third.

    The three skill-sets are only tangentially related.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AceOfFools View Post
    Having played with other systems—MP, fatigue mechanics shared with physical exertion, casting spells dealing being a type of self-targeted psychic attack, limiting Magic’s scope but not limiting its usage, making it a skill anyone can use (but wizards use better), even 4e’s encounter powers—ALL better captured the feeling of magic of EVERY work of fiction that wasn’t explicitly an adaptation of DnD I’ve seen. That’s barely even hyperbole. Actually, due to difficulties balancing narrative possibilities of very high level casters, these non-vancian systems often capture the feel of some DnD adaptations than DnD. Even 3.x sorcerer better captures them.

    Which isn’t to say they were all better for playinga game than DnD’s casting—many were awful for bookkeeping, balance, or complexity issues. But they did a better job of being able to tell stories that were like the ones I was reading/watching outside of the DnD table.

    “I’m still nearly at max strength, but can’t do this one thing I did five minutes ago,” would be absurd in any other system.

    “I know I did it yesterday, but I prepared different spells today,” would be absurd in any other media.

    Even, “I already prepared spells today, I need to rest 8 hours before I can start preparing them again,” would be absurd. Rich fudged this one in OotS during the lizard polymorph sequence.

    “I’m not tired, I just cast all my spells, and can’t recover them until after I sleep,” is absurd even in DnD, even if it is a valid balance concern.
    You need to read more fantasy. I've seen books with any and all of the above as concerns, many of which are beloved classics of the genre. And that includes works outside of the D&D purview.

    I think people who complain about the Vancian magic really need to go about reading some of the entries from Appendix N. Especially Dying Earth and Face in the Frost.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    A game setting does need to be designed to be fun and functional to game in.

    But there's more to good worldbuilding than piling the "parts to game in" on a big pile.

    Farmland isn't there to be adventured in, primarily, but one assumes it's still there and part of the landscape -- just because adventurers don't go there often doesn't mean it doesn't or shouldn't or needn't exist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AceOfFools View Post
    “I’m still nearly at max strength, but can’t do this one thing I did five minutes ago,” would be absurd in any other system.

    “I know I did it yesterday, but I prepared different spells today,” would be absurd in any other media.

    Even, “I already prepared spells today, I need to rest 8 hours before I can start preparing them again,” would be absurd. Rich fudged this one in OotS during the lizard polymorph sequence.

    “I’m not tired, I just cast all my spells, and can’t recover them until after I sleep,” is absurd even in DnD, even if it is a valid balance concern.
    Agreed with 1 and 3 badly meshing with almost all narrative or legendary powers disagree about 2 and 4 (modular powers which are not configurable on the fly have been in fiction long before the D&D; last one can happen in more than half of the game systems, probably, and in general idea of a mental burnout/spiritual toil or impurity/coalesced energies is not artificial)

    Also as far as I remember actual Vancian magic is significantly lighter than D&D on 3 and 4, that was why I was saying I wouldn't mind D&D magic being more Vancian. May be harder to balance gameplay but so better narratively (even straight up 8 hours of meditation would be better narratively than 1 hour of meditation which must be preceded by 8 hours of rest and relaxation, though it may make wizards too annoying to play)
    Last edited by Saint-Just; 2021-01-11 at 04:54 PM.

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    I can see it if it was written that instead of memorizing spells, you put together rituals and store the powers for later release. the skill of the wizard determines how many they can safely store at one time. this would make more sense. the eight hour thing could be how long it takes for you to replenish the magical energies required to make the rituals in the first place.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AceOfFools View Post
    “I’m not tired, I just cast all my spells, and can’t recover them until after I sleep,” is absurd even in DnD, even if it is a valid balance concern.
    Except that it's not absurd. Protesting that you're not tired doesn't change the fact that you really are. It will take some serious rest to eliminate the mental fatigue that makes it impossible for you to concentrate on recovering your spells.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    Except that it's not absurd. Protesting that you're not tired doesn't change the fact that you really are. It will take some serious rest to eliminate the mental fatigue that makes it impossible for you to concentrate on recovering your spells.
    Being too tired to cast spells makes sense. Being too tired to cast the specific spell you just cast but not other – potentially more powerful spells – is another matter entirely.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Being too tired to cast spells makes sense. Being too tired to cast the specific spell you just cast but not other – potentially more powerful spells – is another matter entirely.
    You're not too tired to cast any spell. You're too tired to recover the spells you've already cast.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    You're not too tired to cast any spell. You're too tired to recover the spells you've already cast.
    Specifically the rest is needed for the meditation and memorisation segments.

    And as mentioned upthread in a few places, the eight hour rest limit is actually fairly specific to D&D 3e. Earlier editions do things differently, requiring more or less rest depending on the maximum level of spell that you're casting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    A game setting does need to be designed to be fun and functional to game in.

    But there's more to good worldbuilding than piling the "parts to game in" on a big pile.

    Farmland isn't there to be adventured in, primarily, but one assumes it's still there and part of the landscape -- just because adventurers don't go there often doesn't mean it doesn't or shouldn't or needn't exist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Being too tired to cast spells makes sense. Being too tired to cast the specific spell you just cast but not other – potentially more powerful spells – is another matter entirely.
    Again, this is why I threw in the towel and decided spell slots exist in the fiction, at least to some degree. They may be physical structures in the brain that form as you learn magic (magic tumors!) or mental structures that exist as transitory neural net patterns or something else. It does introduce the idea that PCs then may be aware of spell levels and run into the problem of them becoming aware of their own levels and stats, but I can handle fudging that connection...
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    Quote Originally Posted by Batcathat View Post
    Being too tired to cast spells makes sense. Being too tired to cast the specific spell you just cast but not other – potentially more powerful spells – is another matter entirely.
    Quote Originally Posted by EggKookoo View Post
    Again, this is why I threw in the towel and decided spell slots exist in the fiction, at least to some degree. They may be physical structures in the brain that form as you learn magic (magic tumors!) or mental structures that exist as transitory neural net patterns or something else. It does introduce the idea that PCs then may be aware of spell levels and run into the problem of them becoming aware of their own levels and stats, but I can handle fudging that connection...
    It depends what spells are. Vancian magic has then as near-sentient memes that exist only in one place at a time. You memorize them and they lodge in your head. Cast them and they’re not there anymore; you released them. (Well, no, I’m not sure if that’s Dying Earth’s mechanism exactly, but it’s one way it could work.)

    My own fiction for it is that they’re contracts you’ve prepared your side of. You did four twirls of the mystic diagram that pleases the spirits of force and that prepared four magic missiles you can demand they execute for you, as an example. The more spells you’re preparing and the higher level they are, the more complicated your preparations are to get the effects you want and the harder it is to do without screwing the whole set up. Hence limits to how many you can prepare of each level.

    When you cast them, you’re calling in what you’re owed, and you can’t re-cast an extra polymorph because you’ve expended all the favors that you’re owed for polymorph today. You need to do your part of the bargain again to get the magical forces to owe it to you again.

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    Quote Originally Posted by vasilidor View Post
    I can see it if it was written that instead of memorizing spells, you put together rituals and store the powers for later release. the skill of the wizard determines how many they can safely store at one time. this would make more sense. the eight hour thing could be how long it takes for you to replenish the magical energies required to make the rituals in the first place.
    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicOverv...caneSpells.htm

    Press Ctrl+F and type in "memorize"

    How many hits do you get? More then zero?

    Me neither.
    Last edited by Zombimode; 2021-01-12 at 12:00 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    Except that it's not absurd. Protesting that you're not tired doesn't change the fact that you really are. It will take some serious rest to eliminate the mental fatigue that makes it impossible for you to concentrate on recovering your spells.
    But that’s not what happens in DnD. Cast all your spells, and you’re just as ready to run a marathon or fight for 8 hours in a line as the fighter who cast none.

    You do have people running out of materials they need for magic, but that’s hardly going to be resolved with a good night’s sleep.
    I consider myself an author first, a GM second and a player third.

    The three skill-sets are only tangentially related.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AceOfFools View Post
    But that’s not what happens in DnD. Cast all your spells, and you’re just as ready to run a marathon or fight for 8 hours in a line as the fighter who cast none.

    You do have people running out of materials they need for magic, but that’s hardly going to be resolved with a good night’s sleep.
    A fighter could still be ready to run a marathon but be out of the arrows of petrification he’d been using. Even if he’s a talented fletcher who can make such arrows, he needs time to sit down and make them. Even if he’s not too tired to keep going or still has a riding arrow of flight left and several fireball exploding arrows.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Quertus View Post

    The problem here is, those spell schools map *very poorly* to divine spheres of influence.

    For example, didn't healing used to be Necromancy? Isn't Resurrection still Necromancy? If healing is conjuration, shouldn't undead-centric deities' clerics be *really good* at conjuration (as undead don't heal naturally)? Wouldn't Fertility *also* involve Necromancy?

    You would *probably* need to custom builds the schools, spheres, *and* gods all at once to make it make cohesive sense.

    Best you've got in D&D is 2e divine spheres (better than the 8 schools Wizards use), coupled with 2e Faiths and Avatars (which gave not only specific schools but specific individual spells and unique powers to various specialty priests).
    Oh, i totally agree. Domains instead of being a list of 9 spells should be a Tag like conj/healing. or mind affecting, Fire, or [GOOD]. That way clerics are focused on tags and not just schools like a wizard. It would be nice to make them more distinct in the spell selection but both classes have access to 95% of the same spells. It just seems odd that clerics and wizards can both cast so many of the same spells.

    Necromancy used to be the channeling of both positive and negative energy. So Healing, rez, inflict were all part of necromancy. Also, I swear at some point in the past Bestow curse was Enchantment but all evil bad things got shuffled into necromancy and away from all the proper PC allowed schools. I frankly find this stupid. The spell Break Enchantment lifts curses. So curses are closer to enchantments than raising the dead.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AceOfFools View Post
    But that’s not what happens in DnD. Cast all your spells, and you’re just as ready to run a marathon or fight for 8 hours in a line as the fighter who cast none.
    That's typical for mental fatigue. In real life, I can get so tired reading archaeology journals that I have no idea what the last paragraph I read was even about, and still be just as ready to run a marathon as if I had just woken up. In that state I can also do mental work like reading a novel, completing a crossword puzzle, or doing creative work on my campaign world. The only thing I can't do without a rest is think critically about archaeology.
    Quote Originally Posted by MaxWilson View Post
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeJ View Post
    That's typical for mental fatigue. In real life, I can get so tired reading archaeology journals that I have no idea what the last paragraph I read was even about, and still be just as ready to run a marathon as if I had just woken up. In that state I can also do mental work like reading a novel, completing a crossword puzzle, or doing creative work on my campaign world. The only thing I can't do without a rest is think critically about archaeology.
    Yeah. I can be burned out on software dev, but still can do physical stuff or think about D&D. Just don't ask me to write any coherent code.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zombimode View Post
    http://www.d20srd.org/srd/magicOverv...caneSpells.htm

    Press Ctrl+F and type in "memorize"

    How many hits do you get? More then zero?

    Me neither.
    It was memorisation in earlier editions, where the spells interacted oddly with memory and erased themselves from your mind once cast. This has sort of stuck around as a meme.

    From the AD&D 1e Player's Handbook:
    When a magic-user begins his or her profession, the character is usually assumed to possess a strange tome in which he or she has scribed the formulae for some of the spells known to the character. This spell book, and each book later added (as the magic-user advances in levels of ability, a book of spells for each higher level of spells which become usable will have to have been prepared through study and research), must be maintained by the magic-user. He or she must memorize and prepare for the use of each spell, and its casting makes it necessary to reabsorb the incantation by consulting the proper book of spells before it can again be cast. (See CHARACTER SPELLS for more details.) As with all other types of spells, those of magic-users must be spoken or read aloud.

    [...]

    Magical spells, those of the magic-user and illusionist, are now bestowed by any supernatural force. Rather, the magic-user (or illusionist) must memorize each spell, verbal and somatic components, and supply himself or herself with any required materials as well. Such memorization requires the character to consult his or her spell books in order to impress the potent, mystical spell formulae upon the mind. Additional items for the material component must then be acquired, if necessary.

    Spells of any sort must therefore be selected prior to setting out on an adventure, for memorization requires considerable time. (Your Dungeon Master will inform you fully as to what state of refreshment the mind of a spell caster must be in, as well as the time required to memorize a given spell.) As a rule of thumb, allow 15 minutes of game time for memorization of one spell level, i.e. a 1st level spell or half of a 2nd level spell. Such activity requires a mind rested by a good sleep and nourished by the body.

    Once cast, a spell is totally forgotten. Gone. The mystical symbols impressed upon the brain carry power, and speaking the spell discharges this power, draining all memory of the spell used. This does not preclude multiple memorization of the same spell, but it does preclude multiple use of a single spell memorized but once. When a spell caster shoots his or her spell-bolt, so to speak, it is gone.
    From the AD&D 2e Player's Handbook:
    A spell book contains the complicated instructions for casting the spell—the spell’s recipe, so to speak. Merely reading these instructions aloud or trying to mimic the instructions does not enable one to cast the spell. Spells gather and shape mystical energies; the procedures involved are very demanding, bizarre, and intricate. Before a wizard can actually cast a spell, he must memorize its arcane formula. This locks an energy pattern for that particular spell into his mind. Once he has the spell memorized, it remains in his memory until he uses the exact combination of gestures, words, and materials that triggers the release of this energy pattern. Upon casting, the energy of the spell is spent, wiped clean from the wizard’s mind. The wizard cannot cast that spell again until he returns to his spell book and memorizes it again.

    Initially the wizard is able to retain only a few of these magical energies in his mind at one time. Furthermore, some spells are more demanding and complex than others; these are impossible for the inexperienced wizard to memorize. With experience, the wizard’s talent expands. He can memorize more spells and more complex spells. Still, he never escapes his need to study; the wizard must always return to his spell books to refresh his powers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    A game setting does need to be designed to be fun and functional to game in.

    But there's more to good worldbuilding than piling the "parts to game in" on a big pile.

    Farmland isn't there to be adventured in, primarily, but one assumes it's still there and part of the landscape -- just because adventurers don't go there often doesn't mean it doesn't or shouldn't or needn't exist.

  23. - Top - End - #143
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    Quote Originally Posted by NigelWalmsley View Post
    That's the issue with the whole "Vancian doesn't model the genre well" objection. It's true, but it's vacuously true, because the alternative systems don't model the genre any better. Yes, there are things that don't work like Vancian Magic. But that doesn't mean we should replace it with Spell Points, because there are also things that do work like Vancian Magic and things that don't work like Spell Points. The answer is, of course, pluralism. Vancian Magic works well for some things (notably, it's a total home-run for the Wizard). But it doesn't work well for other things. D&D is a Kitchen Sink Fantasy game. It can, and should, contain a variety of things. One of those things can be Vancian Magic, but that doesn't mean they all have to be.
    Indeed, the core problem is in expecting ANY single specific mechanical system to model all fictional magic.

    D&D's take on Vancian casting gets extra flack for failing to do what no mechanical system can do, because of the pervasiveness of D&D, and idea that D&D is a universal fantasy genre system (wherever that comes from, the debate about marketing spin vs fan perception can be avoided here).
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2021-01-12 at 01:58 PM.
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    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    The Worldbuilding Forum -- where realities are born.

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    Default Re: Vancian magic

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Indeed, the core problem is in expecting ANY single specific mechanical system to model all fictional magic.

    D&D's take on Vancian casting gets extra flack for failing to do what no mechanical system can do, because of the pervasiveness of D&D, and idea that D&D is a universal fantasy genre system (wherever that comes from, the debate about marketing spin vs fan perception can be avoided here).
    Yeah. Unrealistic expectations are really prevalent in many arenas, and this is an example. It's always bugged me that people assign blame for not doing something it wasn't designed to do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Yeah. Unrealistic expectations are really prevalent in many arenas, and this is an example. It's always bugged me that people assign blame for not doing something it wasn't designed to do.
    It feels like this is a relatively new thing as well because when I was first getting into D&D in the 90s and '00s there wasn't nearly this level of prevelance of 'it doesn't model other fantasy', and a myriad of other tabletop role-playing games were actually way more prominent in the popular culture. I feel like this has been a consequence of Dungeons & Dragons being the biggest game on the market and people thinking that because it's both the most popular game and that it's also a fantasy game, it should be some kind of rosetta stone modelling all popular fantasy.

    And while it does draw from a lot of popular fantasy, it's a rosetta stone in the same way that Star Wars is, rather than the same way that GURPS is. It gathers together a lot of influences, but uses those to create something with its own specific sense of identity. Indeed, D&D has a variety of its own settings and its own long-running lore, and one could argue that the least successful edition of D&D was the one that forgot that.

    Vancian magic is a big part of that identity. Hell, look upthread at that comparison of the spells/day tables. They might have different numbers, but basically every edition of D&D save for D&D 4e gives the magic-user/wizard a near identical table for determining how many spells they can prepare and cast that day.

    And it should also be remembered, rather pointedly, that the definition of what popular fantasy was in 1974 is very different to what it is in 2021. And Dungeons & Dragons itself reshaped a lot of what popular fantasy really was when it landed, and you can see that very strongly in various works that came after it. Many great fantasy stories grew out of the influences of D&D, and while not all or even most of them use Vancian magic, there are more than a few echoes present to varying degrees.
    Last edited by Scots Dragon; 2021-01-12 at 02:27 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    A game setting does need to be designed to be fun and functional to game in.

    But there's more to good worldbuilding than piling the "parts to game in" on a big pile.

    Farmland isn't there to be adventured in, primarily, but one assumes it's still there and part of the landscape -- just because adventurers don't go there often doesn't mean it doesn't or shouldn't or needn't exist.

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    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.

    Mistborn Allomancers can "burn" metals that they consume (usually as flecks suspended in vials of fluid for ease of swallowing) to do certain things. Steel and Iron let them see blue lines connecting their navels to metal objects, and exert force along them; burning steel creates an attractive force, and burning iron creates a repulsive force. This can be used to "fly" as well as to yank things towards them or shove things away. Pewter can be burned to enhance strength and toughness and speed/dexterity. Tin can be burned to enhance senses.

    If you don't have the right metal in your stomach, you can't burn it and you can't do its trick.

    But the same complaints spoken of with Vancian casting could be applied: why can't the Mistborn do any more pulling of metal towards himself, but still can run a marathon or shove metal away? That the setting and system provide an explanation is sufficient to make my point: you can construct your magic system to work that way. The notion that spellcasting must always be based on personal energy and the limit be exhaustion in general is only one possible representation, and is NOT what Vancian or even 3e's pseudo-Vancian casting represents/models.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Scots Dragon View Post
    It feels like this is a relatively new thing as well because when I was first getting into D&D in the 90s and '00s there wasn't nearly this level of prevelance of 'it doesn't model other fantasy', and a myriad of other tabletop role-playing games were actually way more prominent in the popular culture. I feel like this has been a consequence of Dungeons & Dragons being the biggest game on the market and people thinking that because it's both the most popular game and that it's also a fantasy game, it should be some kind of rosetta stone modelling all popular fantasy.

    And while it does draw from a lot of popular fantasy, it's a rosetta stone in the same way that Star Wars is, rather than the same way that GURPS is. It gathers together a lot of influences, but uses those to create something with its own specific sense of identity. Indeed, D&D has a variety of its own settings and its own long-running lore, and one could argue that the least successful edition of D&D was the one that forgot that.

    Vancian magic is a big part of that identity. Hell, look upthread at that comparison of the spells/day tables. They might have different numbers, but basically every edition of D&D save for D&D 4e gives the magic-user/wizard a near identical table for determining how many spells they can prepare and cast that day.

    And it should also be remembered, rather pointedly, that the definition of what popular fantasy was in 1974 is very different to what it is in 2021. And Dungeons & Dragons itself reshaped a lot of what popular fantasy really was when it landed, and you can see that very strongly in various works that came after it. Many great fantasy stories grew out of the influences of D&D, and while not all or even most of them use Vancian magic, there are more than a few echoes present to varying degrees.
    I basically agree. D&D is D&D, not "generic fantasy". And I'll say that 5e doesn't even claim to be. I think (but am not sure) that most of that came out of the push for the d20 system (3e-era). Which then backlashed with people confusing D&D 3e (an implementation of the d20 system specialized for D&D) with d20 (the generic system).

    IMO, the push for the d20 system was flawed intrinsically--promising something the underlying fundamentals couldn't deliver. But that's a separate thing.

    And I'd split "Vancian magic" into a few pieces:
    * spells are discrete chunks that act independently and basically are black box "do thing" buttons (as opposed to a more "build your own" or "talent tree" design).
    * spells have N spell levels and use discrete spell slots as pacing mechanism. Spell slots and levels is what, IMO, most people think of as the core to the "D&D magic system".
    * "traditional" Vancian casting, with spells assigned to slots in advance and multiple "instances" prepared. This is something that more "seasoned" people expect, but new people don't think of that. Except sometimes they do. There's still a bit of confusion over the difference between "I prepare N spells" and "I have M spell slots", leading to "but I already cast X today so I can't cast it again [despite having appropriate spell slots open]" in 5e, I've found.
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    Default Re: Vancian magic

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I basically agree. D&D is D&D, not "generic fantasy". And I'll say that 5e doesn't even claim to be. I think (but am not sure) that most of that came out of the push for the d20 system (3e-era). Which then backlashed with people confusing D&D 3e (an implementation of the d20 system specialized for D&D) with d20 (the generic system).

    IMO, the push for the d20 system was flawed intrinsically--promising something the underlying fundamentals couldn't deliver. But that's a separate thing.

    And I'd split "Vancian magic" into a few pieces:
    * spells are discrete chunks that act independently and basically are black box "do thing" buttons (as opposed to a more "build your own" or "talent tree" design).
    * spells have N spell levels and use discrete spell slots as pacing mechanism. Spell slots and levels is what, IMO, most people think of as the core to the "D&D magic system".
    * "traditional" Vancian casting, with spells assigned to slots in advance and multiple "instances" prepared. This is something that more "seasoned" people expect, but new people don't think of that. Except sometimes they do. There's still a bit of confusion over the difference between "I prepare N spells" and "I have M spell slots", leading to "but I already cast X today so I can't cast it again [despite having appropriate spell slots open]" in 5e, I've found.
    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.

    Which really screws over the sorcerer, honestly.
    Last edited by Scots Dragon; 2021-01-12 at 03:40 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    A game setting does need to be designed to be fun and functional to game in.

    But there's more to good worldbuilding than piling the "parts to game in" on a big pile.

    Farmland isn't there to be adventured in, primarily, but one assumes it's still there and part of the landscape -- just because adventurers don't go there often doesn't mean it doesn't or shouldn't or needn't exist.

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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Yeah. I can be burned out on software dev, but still can do physical stuff or think about D&D. Just don't ask me to write any coherent code.
    Even more specifically, I can write javascript until it starts to blur, but then switch to PHP and my brain clears up. It's very specific neural "muscles" that get fatigued with me.
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    Quote Originally Posted by vasilidor View Post
    I can see it if it was written that instead of memorizing spells, you put together rituals and store the powers for later release. the skill of the wizard determines how many they can safely store at one time. this would make more sense. the eight hour thing could be how long it takes for you to replenish the magical energies required to make the rituals in the first place.
    This is a system i'll probably use in my homebrew. it's custom and mine, since obviously its totally illegal by RAW:

    First, it takes 10 minutes per spell level to memorize a spell.
    Spells stay memorized for ever, even if beaten unconscious, until cast.
    (this is shifted down from 15/30 minutes of the early PHB)


    Second, it takes 1-10 minutes (usually 2 minutes) to memorize a cantrip, which average 1/4th the power of a 1st level spell. The most powerful cantrips are as complex or potent as 1st level spells, like Change (Minor Polymorph), Summon (summons real living things like mice, poisonous spiders, etc.), (Short Range) Teleport (Small) Object, and Exterminate spells which can inflict real damage. Less complex spells do things like Color, Sweep, or stitch fabric, and are closer to the 1-3 minute range.

    Third, it takes:
    30 minutes rest for Cantrips
    2 hours rest for spells 1st and 2nd
    4 hours rest for spells 3rd and 4th
    6 hours rest for spells 5th and 6th
    8 hours rest for spells 7th and 8th
    10 hours rest for spells 9th and 10th
    12 hours rest for spells 11th and 12th

    This is slightly shifted (2 hours) from the Trad DMG and includes cantrips.

    Following this model, Vancian wizards would probably be a tad more awesome, methinks.

    Vancian magic is principally casting and trapping a spell,
    while "casting time" is "releasing" a spell.

    Vancian "memorization time" is akin to reloading your own Ammo,
    while Vancian Spell casting is equivalent to loading those cartridges into a Magic Revolver and then firing.

    The Casting Gun is a theme that appears in both Outlaw Star (1996-2000) and The Irregular at Magic High (2008-2021/Present)

    I think the idea of "magic bullets" is now fully ingrained in RPG theory and has a place, even if it's not the main dish, some form of it should be at the fantasy buffet.
    Last edited by anthon; 2021-01-12 at 05:47 PM.

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