Posted by : David Guyll July 16, 2012

My concerns with with pseudo-Vancian magic is not just that it can encourages players to run into the dungeon, duke it out with an encounter, and then leave--low hit points and limited healing are also major contributors--but that pseudo-Vancian magic as-explained does not make much if any sense from a flavor standpoint.

Given that players almost always make the decision to hunker down for the night, it does not even make much sense as a resource management model; outside of specifically written constraints players are largely free to come and go as they please, and the higher level they get the easier it is for them to bypass some restrictions.

So the idea of a DM having a guideline, crystal clear or not, of how many rounds a party should tackle before resting does not mean that they will, especially if the only "consequence" is the loss of time that the players are not forced to endure (because, really, if players had to wait out all those hours resting I think they would stop).

I like 4th Edition because I feel like I can write the adventures I want without having to fret about what my players are going to pick and do. I do not need to tell someone to play a rogue (or get rid of all the traps that only a rogue can find for some reason), make sure that someone can cast arcane/divine magic in order to do something (thanks to generic Ritual Caster or scrolls that anyone can use), arm my dungeons with anti-magic rooms to prevent characters from auto-bypassing challenges, and so on and so forth.

While I do not think that 5th Edition will be this extreme (so long as WotC keeps their promise of dialing-down overall magic power), it does sound like that you will need to put in a lot more planning than normal to account for party composition and character strengths. Got a wizard? Make sure that the monsters do not bunch up. Well, not all the time? Oh, and make sure that you get into a lot more fights if there is a fighter and rogue, but if you want to use few fights just use few monsters so that wizards will maybe not want to use their magic.

I think that the designers should not try to balance character capabilities around an "adventuring" day, whatever that may be. Move away from the mentality of having things instantly refresh after a nap: in my 4th Edition game characters recover healing surges and powers more slowly (so, hey, no nova-ing all your things), and they take persistent injuries from being reduced to 0 hit points. One player has agreed to try my spell point ruleset for her wizard, and those replenish at a rate of 1/hour.

{ 2 comments... read them below or Comment }

  1. It does seem like this is a hot topic at the moment - second blog in ten minutes I've seen talking about it - and it still kind of confuses me. As mentioned in another comment thread, I've not played 4E, but a ton of 3-3.5, and never had to worry about the '5-minute-work-day'. All the players knew the restrictions we had, and we did our best to maintain our resources for the simple reason that as adventurers, we would want to keep going all day. Can't say it's that heroic if you want a rest after five minutes, or even thinking about it. Instead, you work out how to use your resources to the best of their abilities.

    Magic users can't throw spells around all day, so pick the spells that are going to be the most useful, and use them sparingly. the rest of the time, be there as back up; the fighters would rather have you there all day than awesome for five minutes, and will keep you out of trouble as much as possible for the same reasons.

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  2. Not all adventures are about heroics though. Some are more or less glorified dungeon crawls. Take "The Whispering Cairn" (first adventure out of Age of Worms) for example; the entire plot for the first act is basically exploring a tomb. There is nothing else going on, and given that some things are pretty severe (acid beetle swarms and underwater ghouls) why not go back and rest up?

    As for magic users, it is hard to pick the spells that are going to be the most useful when you do not (and in many cases cannot) know what to expect. If you pick attack spells then, again, you are really just setting the number of rounds you can do useful things because a wizard's attack bonus scales so slowly that barring very advantageous circumstances there is really no point (and even if you hit, insanely low damage).

    I get that the whole daily thing has been around for a long time, so I do not see why after so many editions WotC just does not try to move entirely away from it (or at least make it a solid alternative for wizards).

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