Rule of Three: Tactical Combat, Maneuvers, and Vancian Magic

While two out of three is normally a pretty good ratio of success, the part that I did not like was the one that mattered the most to me:

Despite owning Players Option: Combat & Tactics for many years, I never used the rules on facing. Actually I never used most of the rules, though if I did facing would be a pretty low priority. It makes me think of combat in Final Fantasy Tactics, where you took turns with enemies running around each other like some kind of reverse-prison-rules-murder-dance. I like that the rules packages are presented more  "cafeteria style" as opposed to bundles; your group can decide to give tactical combat a whirl, but strip out things like facing. If you are feeling particularly perverse, you can instead just use facing.

Maneuvers sound a lot like a transition spot between 3rd and 4th Edition: there is a base group of things that anyone can try to do, like grab, trip, pushing, etc, in addition to options that anyone can pick up that let them do those things plus an attack (the example cited being tide of iron). People have voiced criticism in how the fighter can avoid sucking in games without feats (or when compared to classes that get their toys and more), but I guess somewhere Mearls specifically mentioned that fighters will get things besides maneuvers. I am curious as to how flexible maneuvers will actually be; will most anyone be able to buy and use them, or will the end up being trap-like options?

So far so good, but then we get to...vancian magic. Again with the pseudo-Vancian magic.

The last time I voiced my opinion of this, someone posted a link with a decent explanation of actual Vancian magic from one of the Dying Earth books (I assume). While I liked what I read, Dungeons & Dragons does not convey that kind of flavor. Rather than making them seem like living entities with a hard limit that wizards can retain (like, four), it just kind of glosses over it and sums things up magic as a fire-and-forget per-day resource (oh, and depending on what edition wizards cannot wear armor for some reason...unless they can). I guess it is a difference of how Yoda explained the force in Episode V and how it was chalked up as micro-organisms in Episode I.

Currently the wizard sounds like it is set to pseudo-Vance, though I am hoping that the final result has wizards that have better explained mechanics (ideally with no more spell levels), or a variant magic system to satisfy those with different cravings.


  1. I don't think the wizard is going to change much. It will stay Vancian with at-wills. I predict the sorcerer will remain spell slots like it's third edition counterpart. And the warlock will be like a 4th edition character with AEDU.

    To some degree I like that they don't force wizardy into one explanation - it makes it easier for different people to put their own spin on magic. One person may think of them as favors from spirits, another game might have it be that they fill a psychic matrix with energy that is then expended.

  2. As a resource management model doing things on a per-day basis can easily wreak havoc on pacing, which is why we get "15-minute adventuring days". When running delves, players got into the habit of shoring up per-day abilities so that they could rapidly unload them on the final encounter.

    As for an explanation, why not? They already go into detail that wizards learn spells from books, memorize them, and then forget them after casting them (except for the ones that they can cast whenever, or if they have enough time, which makes the per-day thing make even less sense).

    They also explain plenty on how warlocks and sorcerers work. I think the lack of good flavor material makes it harder for players to figure out why it works the way it does. If a campaign wants to reskin it, they will, but there is no reason not to provide a solid foundation to back up the mechanics.


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