May 18, 2012

5E Friday

-Balancing Wizards in D&D. I can't say I am happy with some of the thoughts in this article.

"We think that making cantrips a bit more powerful..." - The whole concept behind the cantrip is that they are not powerful. As soon as you make them powerful they are no longer cantrips, but rather regular spells. Down the road will we see "less-than-cantrip" spells that are less powerful than the new up-powered cantrips?
Sounds like they are making cantrips 1st level spells and at-wills, while leaving the old 1st level spells non-at-wills. Seems a round-a-about way of handling the issue. Why not leave cantrips weak and select 1st level spells as at-wills?

"We're thinking that wizard spells scale only if they are prepared with higher-level slots." - This, in effect, reduces how many spells a wizard wants to know (which is a desired goal as mentioned in the article) but also negates past history. Spells like the iconic magic missile, fireball and lightning bolt are all scalable and have been for decades. If we ignore any "stuck-in-the-past" ideas, I still don't like the idea. By not allowing spells to be scalable you are making low level spells useless and undesirable. If they are already planning on reducing the numbers of spells/uses this would be a double-punch of reduction.

"The current proposal is that a wizard who takes damage has a chance to miscast his or her next spell. A wizard can always instead choose to do something else or use a cantrip without risk of failure." - So, not only does the soft and squishy wizard take damage that he can ill-afford but now he is further penalized by not being able to do his job effectively...cast spells. Another double-whammy of pain. Can't say I like the concept. I would prefer such a "spellcasting-is-dangerous" methodology to be an add-on where the risks involved are balanced with the rewards. Seems like one of the designers likes the concept of spellcasting-is-dangerous as used in other systems but they haven't thought it through completely. This is not something that has been in any core D&D and thus it also does not feel like D&D.

The article goes on with more of the same.
The focus of the article seemed to be all about how to rein in the power of the wizard. Less spells, no scaling, misfiring of spells, making scrolls useless, remove/diminish buff spells. Personally, I would like to see them keep wizards on par with where they are now and have been in the past, but with balance. With 4E, instead of reducing wizard power they simply elevated everyone else up to the power level of wizards. It looks like in 5E they want to lower wizards down to everyone else. Not sure I like that.


Joey said...

I personally despise 4E and the more I read about 5E the more I think I won't like it either.

However I do believe in "spellcasting-is-dangerous" theory. It is a concept that existed in both 2E and 3xE. I don't remember how it worked in 2E but in 3X it was 'If threatened do a concentration check. If you fail it those threatening you get an attack of opportunity. If you take damage roll a concentration check DC the amount of damage you took (+spell level + something else).

I don't like the method Mearls explained in his article, but I think something similar to the 3x is a good way to go. It gives people a chance to stop a wizard from casting but doesn't make it easy

On a side note i haven't published anything on my blog it quite a while. I think I'll post something about this

Philo Pharynx said...

The whole idea is to rein in the linear fighter/quadratic wizard problem. A fighter gets more attacks, but those attacks don't get significantly more dangerous. An extra point every few levels. The wizards gets more spells, and each of those spells get more deadly and many of those spells affect multiple targets and many of those spells either have multiple effects or they do part damage on a save. At high levels, wizards only run out of spells in absurdly long adventuring days, and can cast pretty devastating spells in every combat.

I am expecting that the reduction in spells will mean they get x spells of their highest level, y spells of the next level and z spells of all lower levels. Plus w number of at-will cantrips and maybe v utility spells. Their bonus spells for Int will add to those numbers. So they'll be able to devastate a couple of times a day, throw a decent spell once or twice an encounter and blast with a reliable cantrip all the rest of the time.

Spellcasting is dangerous has been in effect in every edition of D&D, but it's consequences have diminished in later editions. This level brings up the risk, but it gives you a way to mitigate it by casting a decent-everyday spell. From the descriptions, I get the feel that cantrips won't be world-shattering, but it's not a wasted action. Also, we don't know what the risk of losing your spell is. If it's five percent, I'll risk the big spell most of the time. If it's thirty percent, I probably won't. It might be based on the spell level, giving you a chance to choose what level of risk you are willing to take, including no risk with a cantrip.

As for reducing wizards, well, you can't adjust the balance of the game without adjusting the balance of the game. One of the complaints against 4e was that it made many of the classes more powerful and more complex - "elevated everyone else up to the power level of wizards". If they do the same, they'll get the same response. They've mentioned "flattening the curve" for fighter bonuses, and wizards need a little more flattening than fighters because of their initial curve.

Anonymous said...

Lol at the can cast cantrips after being hit thing. Someone, somewhere, might find missing their turn unfun, so let's solve another problem that doesn't need solving.

Sometimes it's the thinking behind the rules which sucks, they're back in kid gloves, everyone takes home a medal for trying mode. Gah.