Five Moons RPG: Throwing Out Vancian Magic

This is a general summary how I reached the decision that I needed to get rid of Vancian magic in Five Moons RPG, and how magic works as a result of that change.

What is Vancian Magic?

D&D’s spellcasting system (where you “prepare” a limited number of spells each day and cast them out of your head like expending bullets from a gun) is called “Vancian magic” by fans because it’s lifted from how magic works in the Dying Earth stories by author Jack Vance. Vance’s wizards work just like D&D wizards: they can prepare a limited number of spells, a more powerful wizard can prepare more spells than a novice, and the spells are expended when cast. The connection to D&D is obvious, as Gary Gygax was a fan of Vance’s books (they’re listed in the 1E AD&D DMG’s “Appendix N: Inspirational and Educational Reading”), and Gygax even put a direct homage to Vance in the Greyhawk setting: the arch-lich Vecna is an anagram of “Vance.”

Balance Issues With Vancian Magic

The initial balance between fighters and magic-users in D&D was:

  • magic-users had a very small number of spells they could cast each day, but those spells were usually the most powerful attacks available at that character level
  • the opportunity to learn new spells was rare and expensive (the “learn two new spells each time you level up” rule is new as of 3E)
  • spellcasting was easy to disrupt (being hit in combat while casting ruined the spell)
  • once all the prepared spells were expended, the magic-user was puny
  • fighters didn’t expend their limited resources and could fight all day, so they’d be able to keep adventuring while the magic-user had to cower in the back of the party

In practice, however, this actually meant that the magic-user was incredibly powerful in the encounters where they had spells to cast, and then useless when those spells were gone. Nobody likes playing a useless character (even a part-time useless character), so over the years more kept being added to the caster class to keep them out of that uselessness for as long as possible. Things like making it easier to learn new spells and magic items that invalidate putting ranks in mundane skills, which meant the factors that made the magic-users balanced against the fighters were being taken away, resulting in a class that’s more powerful with the wizard. Add to that the fact that the adventuring party is more effective when the magic-user has spells, there’s a strong incentive to stop adventuring when the mage is out of spells, which also negates the “but the fighter can keep going” balance.

An Idea

Martial classes and skill classes have abilities they can use over and over again, all day. If the caster classes were like martial classes and had abilities they could use over and over again, all day, you could balance all of those unlimited abilities against each other and create balanced classes. You’d have to take away all the limited-use abilities (spells) the casters had so all classes were working from the same paradigm. You could convert the existing limited-use spells into at-will abilities, but you’d have to radically reduce their power level to compensate for this increased access, otherwise you’d take away the last limitation to caster power. (Cantrips and witch hexes are aspects of this magical “I’m not very powerful but I can be used at will” setup.)

However, if all of your abilities are at-will, that gets kind of boring in play. Scarcity as a game mechanic can make some encounters exciting, whether it’s a one-use magic item, calling in a favor with a powerful NPC, or casting a Vancian spell–the question of “do I expend this now, or should I save it for a future encounter?” So if would be more fun if characters–whether martial or caster–had some kind of limited resource that allowed for those decisions.

The Five Moons RPG Solution

Here’s what I’m doing.

1) Every class has access to a selection of at-will abilities. Some of these are more appropriate for martial characters, some are better for casters, and some are better for skill casters, but any character can select any of these at-will abilities.

2) The abilities available to low-level characters are minor effects that are power-appropriate to the character’s level, regardless of character class (in other words, caster abilities aren’t automatically better than martial abilities “because they’re magic”). To use D&D terminology, things like Iron Will, magic missile, and Power Attack would be low-level at-will effects, and they’d work like this:

Iron Will: Add +X to your Will saving throws.

Magic Missile: Shoot a blast of force at one target within 30 feet, no attack roll, deal X points of force damage.

Power Attack: Take a –X penalty to your attack roll to add +Y to your damage roll.

3) Each character also has a limited resource pool called a boost pool. A typical character can use boosts 5 times per day.

4) Each of the character’s at-will abilities also has a variant effect which only happens if the character spends a boost. Some abilities might have more than one boost option available, and the character chooses which one boost to activate at the time it it activated. With the boost information included, the ability descriptions would look like this:

Iron Will: Add +X to your Will saving throws. Boost: Reroll a Will save you just failed and use the result of the second roll.

Magic Missile: Attack one target within 30 feet with a blast of force, do X points of force damage. Boost: Your spell hits two targets; roll damage separately for each. Boost: This attack does an additional Y points of force damage.

Power Attack: Take a –X penalty to your attack roll to add +Y to your damage roll. Boost: This attack does not have the –X attack roll penalty. Boost: This attack deals an additional +Z damage.

5) Monsters have boost pools, too. Some monster abilities can be boosted, others require a boost to work at all (for example, a dragon’s breath weapon attack or a medusa’s gaze might require spending a boost instead of waiting for a recharge or being automatic).

This allows characters to have character-thematic abilities that they can use over and over, and still have a scarcity mechanic that lets them “go all out” against certain opponents,” and the “all-out” ability is something related to the character’s existing abilities.**

 

Obviously you’d gain new abilities when you level up, and you’d have the opportunity to learn new spells, fighting styles, and techniques outside of that leveling criterion. Now, in the Vancian system, once you’ve gained a few levels, your character sheet eventually gets cluttered with lower-level spells and abilities that you really don’t care about any more (just to use spell examples: like levitate even though you have fly, or invisibility when you have greater invisibility, or burning hands when you already have fireball). I want to avoid that sort of clutter (especially for NPC stat blocks), and not having to write down all of those choices each game day would save a lot of time at the table.

Limiting the number of special abilities you have available at a particular time helps avoid choice paralysis–we’ve all been in a game where a spellcaster’s turn comes up in combat and the game grinds to a halt as they look over their entire list of 20 spells prepared to decide what to cast that round.

 

So we get this:

6) As you learn more and more abilities, the number of abilities you know will eventually exceeds the number of abilities you have easy access to each day. Each day, your character studies, refreshes, practices, or otherwise focuses on a subset of their known abilities. (This is akin to a Vancian caster preparing a specific set of spells known for that day, or a martial character practicing some judo and tae kwon do in the morning instead of Greek wrestling and capoeira.) These are called the character’s readied abilities: the subset of at-will abilities the character can use that day.

 

However, it’s lame if your character doesn’t have some way to access those non-readied abilities (after all, it’s not like you forgot them, you just didn’t practice them that day), so:

 

7) A character can spend a boost to add one of their non-readied abilities to their readied abilities for that day.

Did you spend all your readied slots on combat spells, but now you need to make the entire party invisible? Spend a boost to add your non-readied invisibility spell known to your readied abilities.

Did you prepare yourself for brute opponents and are surprised to find out their leader is an enchanter? Spend a boost to add your non-readied Iron Will to your readied abilities.

Did you prepare for a stealth mission, but things have gone sour and you need to scram? Spend a boost to add your non-readied Fleet to your readied abilities.

And so on. Ditch the legacy Vancian magic system, balance the at-will abilities against each other and for the character level, introduce a scarcity mechanic for more exciting encounters, reduce choice paralysis, and allow for some spontaneity.

TLDR

In Five Moons RPG,

  • Every class gets at-will abilities that are balanced for your character level (regardless of class).
  • You can boost your at-will abilities a limited number of times per day.
  • Boosts can be used for other things, like a monster activating its special abilities or a PC “remembering” a spell or ability they didn’t have ready that day.

If you like this post and where these ideas are going, please check out the kickstarter for my Five Moons RPG, which uses these ideas. Thanks!

Later this Week

An overview of the World of Five Moons setting, a video showing the game in play, and a PDF with some basic rules for 1st-level characters.

 

* If you’re a gamer, especially a D&D gamer, and you haven’t read the Dying Earth books, you really should. Not only are they thick with inspiration of the linguistic weirdness that informed the original D&D, and are the source material for many D&D spells and magic items (such as the most excellent prismatic spray spell and IOUN stones), but they’re really clever. Also, Robin Laws wrote the Dying Earth RPG, which really nails the feel of the books, you should read that, too.

** As compared to 4E D&D, where your at-will, encounter, and daily powers might have nothing to do with each other. If you’re a “glue wizard,” and your at-will power is glueing an opponent in place, it’s much cooler if your “all out” ability is still glue-related (like glueing multiple targets, or suffocating the target with glue, or adding fire damage from hot glue) instead of some ice power you learned because there weren’t any cool glue encounter or daily powers.

 

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35 thoughts on “Five Moons RPG: Throwing Out Vancian Magic

  1. Reminds me of the Spheres of Power 3PP supplement, but with a preparation mechanic. It sounds solid and simple to learn, and you raise many good points against the Vancian spell system, especially that a fighter’s perseverance will never come to play unless the adventure prevents the party from resting. Because it’s a team game. The fighter in my campaign always complains that it costs him a lot of money for ammo while nearly all spells cost nothing for a mage.

    However, I have concerns that making spells and martial abilities work the same will make these abilities feel the same. I’m a large supporter of using game mechanics to convey and support flavor. I’m not suggesting martials shouldn’t have access to cool, powerful abilities, but rather those abilities should feel different from a spell and have different implications. Mages never appealed to me in 4th Edition because spells worked the same as martial abilities. I saw quite a few cases where the only mechanical difference a spell had from a martial ability was a different ability score and the “Arcane” label that had absolutely no consequence whatsoever. With Five Moons RPG, I know I’m only seeing the tip of the ice berg here. I suspect you have plans regarding how effect types will play a role in how abilities feel and how the flavor will relate to the mechanics of abilities, applying some of what you talked about in “Ex, Su, and Martials” article.

    Though, I really loved the design of witch hexes in Pathfinder. At-will, but you can only target a creature once per day. I could even see attack spells working like this. “Curse” a creature — while cursed, you can spend actions to deal damage to them, but you can only have one cursed creature at a time and a creature cannot be cursed again for 24 hours. Or an AoE that centered on a creature — you can only target a creature once per 24 hours, but they can be affected by the splash damage.

    On another subject, I also feel the mechanic of having all resources refresh after a night’s rest had its own problems..

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    • {However, I have concerns that making spells and martial abilities work the same will make these abilities feel the same.}

      It is my goal to make sure each class has a unique flavor, not only from selecting abilities (which are open to all classes), but from its built-in class abilities.

      {On another subject, I also feel the mechanic of having all resources refresh after a night’s rest had its own problems..}

      How is this different than a spellcaster being able to completely replace yesterday’s spells with a new set today?

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      • {It is my goal to make sure each class has a unique flavor, not only from selecting abilities (which are open to all classes), but from its built-in class abilities.}

        That’s great to hear!

        {How is this different than a spellcaster being able to completely replace yesterday’s spells with a new set today?}

        Oh, I’m sorry. I made that comment mainly as a minor nitpick to the general mechanic of Pathfinder/D&D of having abilities/resources refresh on a daily basis, which dictates the game flow in a baffling way. While it helps the GM design encounters, it means classes have no long term resources, which strikes me as strange considering the game centers around adventuring. Adventuring feels “safer” because characters can replenish everything as long as they get a good night sleep, and it reduces the need for preparation. The only long term resources are hit points (negated by classes that get free healing daily), rations (negligible because rations are cheap, lightweight, and not always required by the GM), and ammunition (which only fighters ever need to worry about).

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      • Ah, gotcha. And I see your point. I remember Jonathan Tweet talking about a 4E game where, for story purposes, if PCs had an encounter on the way to the dungeon, they actually didn’t get to “rest” until they had done something *in* the dungeon, even though it was still a couple of days away–in other words, that road encounter counted as part of their “daily” ability limitations. Which was even more meta-concept than 4e normally gets (where certain abilities are per-encounter).

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      • {Which was even more meta-concept than 4e normally gets (where certain abilities are per-encounter).}

        No, kidding! That’s saying a lot! I always found it rather disquieting to see Chris Perkins metagame so players don’t waste their dailies on 1 hp minions.

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      • The reason I never got into 4E, was because they tried to balance everything so much, that every class had an at-will 1d6 damage ability that was renamed something else. Everything felt the same. Sure, flavor and name was different. But everything worked exactly the same.

        I was not a fan of that design concept.

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      • Nor am I, thaak13, which is why the third goal for the game is, “* Elevate martial characters to have parity with spellcasters, but still maintain fun and distinct flavor for each class.”

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      • I’m glad to hear it Sean! So far I like many (if not most) of the innovative ideas you have coming. But most of all, I am so very happy you are planning to make it easily read, easily interpreted, with a clear and concise system with both rules and language continuity with the mechanics of how things work. As much as I love (and am obsessed with) Pathfinder, I really hate how rules continuity is really pretty poor coming out currently.

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      • Every class’s at-will damage abilities in 4e did something else suited to their class as well. There was never JUST a basic attack (and it was never uniformly 1d6 either.)

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  2. I’m not sure that this is going to reduce choice paralysis at all if you can spend a resource to use any of your known abilities. They are, after all, just one boost away. (Really, my first guess is that it would increase choice paralysis, since now you have to agonize over “is this REALLY worth the boost?” in addition to poring over your possible readied abilities looking for something relevant.) I predict a lot of “ugh, sorry guys, let me think about this for a second” moments.

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      • Actually, he brings up an interesting point, and I imagine you’re confident it to be an issue you’ve minimized. As it really depends on the number of options they’ll have at a given time. Seems to look like the Magic Number for options is “3-5”, and if can options can be “chunked” into lists of 5 each, then it makes it very much easier for people to process these choices. This Magic Number is supported both in Psychology (Chunking), and by Pro-Starcraft players. Yeah I know it’s a cooperative game, Not a sport, but it still supports the notion of choice-making in this case, and would be good to consider (if you haven’t already of course).

        Seems likely there’s going to be an increase in number of abilities have to choose from over time. Which is assuming comes from the idea that as they’ve played the game longer, and attained greater level of understanding, they can better manage more options at a time.

        A good post on this issue: http://tgdmb.com/viewtopic.php?p=86094#86094

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  3. Kill Vancian magic. Kill it with most excellent fire.

    Regarding “boost paralysis.” I don’t think it’ll be any more an issue than say deciding whether to power attack. The rule for cooldown usage is you don’t save it, unless you know exactly why and what for, because otherwise you risk not using it, which is a waste. Boosts will be best used at the beginning of fights, so I think typically people will want to have one per fight and use it right away, and then situationally if fights are more difficult than expected. It will be better to get to the Big Bad without any boosts than to have all your boosts and only need two.

    Will boosts be usable outside of combat? (Healing, skills, social encounters, etc.)
    Will you be able to recover a boost during a short rest (do those even exist)?

    Have you given any thought to keying boosts off of CHA? Some effects:

    Not everyone will have the same number of boosts, making characters feel different, even if they are otherwise identical.
    Players would be able to choose between a “sustain” build or a “boost” build or some of both.
    CHA would be a valuable stat to any character (much like CON) instead of only certain ones.

    There might be concern that everyone would be MAD, but it wouldn’t really be dependence, just applicability. One way to make choices interesting is to make everything “required,” and the only logical reaction to that is to pick what you actually want instead of what you’re told is correct.

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    • {Boosts will be best used at the beginning of fights, so I think typically people will want to have one per fight and use it right away, and then situationally if fights are more difficult than expected.}

      I agree.

      {It will be better to get to the Big Bad without any boosts than to have all your boosts and only need two.}

      I agree. 🙂

      {Will boosts be usable outside of combat? (Healing, skills, social encounters, etc.)}

      Yes!

      {Have you given any thought to keying boosts off of CHA?}

      For now I’m sticking to the 5, and allowing more through a “feat” (compare to Extra Channel). We’ll see if the playtests suggest other options would be popular and effective.

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      • “For now I’m sticking to the 5, and allowing more through a “feat” (compare to Extra Channel).”

        I’m glad it’ll stay relatively static, at most, I could see some type of “Warlord/Marshall” type powers that restore it, or get more as a result of character level (half level, or as you move through “tiers”). The Powers example could become overpowering if it skimps the entire resource system, and levvels one is workable if there’s a projected need for more “Boosts” later down in advancement.

        Anyway, the idea of making it a feat might not be a good idea, as while it’s a feat good for “everyone”, it in turn becomes a sort of “tax” feat in that sense. As everyone will definitely want to take it, especially as it keys off their core move-sets they all will use. At worst, I figure someone will mention, it becomes an “expectation”, and those who don’t take it will have less resources for future encounters (be they social/combat). Be very careful in mucking with the core resource mechanic, Healing Surges were a fine idea, up until 4th edition mucked with various ways to enhance them, breaking them in turn.

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    • “Have you given any thought to keying boosts off of CHA? Some effects:”

      As a prior post of mine, it’s not good to mess with a strict Resource Mechanic, may start with a stat & a feat, but it surely wouldn’t end there (cue: Healing Surge’s History). As per your suggestion, it’d make it more of a better stat than the rest, as if hitting is often, it’s likely a +1-2 STR or such wouldn’t go as missed w/a Martial class. Also since it was mentioned Social Combat keyed off INT, CHA may no longer exist, making whatever INT’s function all the better (assumingly skill points?). Like the mention of CON, in turn, it would become another survival stat in that instance, but perhaps better because more resources in this case could mean less chances of taking damage. Lastly, PC’s it sounds like are going to be stretched as it is for stats, don’t want to punish em further, and may take away from “roleplaying” as people won’t want their PC’s to suffer for not taking the “tax”. Sorta reminds me of Fallout, where Int was the “Level-up” Stat,and therefore encourage protagonists to be these Intelligent individuals, regardless of what else you do (which, is an interesting thought, but just a flavor aside).

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  4. Ok, I’m intrigued. I’ve not backed the KS yet, but this gets me considerably closer. A few thoughts. First, my compliments on taking on this open space between 3.75 and 4.75 in which there is a great opportunity to learn and improve upon the structures created in 3, 3.5, Pathfinder, and 4e. I’m a fan of them all, and have a laundry list of improvements I would make to each, in spite of that. So, kudos to you for exploring the space! Second, the absence of vancian magic. CONSIDERABLY easier to balance, and kudos on that thought. Third: boosts, we all got ’em, and mine are better than yours AT WHAT I DO. I like it, and I like it. Fourth, we have a sufficient number of boosts per day to not go running out of the dungeon at first assault, but there is still some incentive to save them and go crazy against the BBEG (big bad evil guy). Full of awesome. Slow golf clap…Now, all those points having been made, here are some challenges in my mind, which I feel may be worth exploring to improve your model. Challenge one: balancing conditions and damage. Keep it simple. I mean, really, really simple. I’d challenge you to less than seven, and ideally three conditions for your whole game system. “WHAT!?!?!?!?,” you say? I’m serious, three. I know, it sounds impossible. Try it. I double-dog dare you. That said, it will certainly help you balance them with damage and conditions, which will make the rest of the aforementioned really sing. Should you be greater than seven unique conditions, I’ll argue, the elegant simplicity you’re desiring to accomplish will have some gaps. Second challenge: regarding the ability to reach back to other powers “not ready” with a boost (your item 7). To this, I say, “SHENANIGANS!” In my experience, this created the same (or a very similar) paralysis in character decision. Reach back for boost – BETWEEN encounters or out of COMBAT – huzzah! Game on. I have one adjacent thought for you to consider in the space of your vancian spell system. How does your model interact with the gaming challenges of exploration, social interaction, and strategic narrative. There are a good number of spells from 1e, 2e, 3e, Pathfinder, and 4e rituals that interact with these other “pillars” of the game. I would encourage you to draw some clear distinctions here, and how the different class abilities, background, races, magic items, and spells will interact in these pillars so as to continue to explore the different ways that different characters can shine. ((Hint, hint: I think you’re on to something here, and a far more elegant way to apply a common system across multiple pillars of gameplay, which 5e may not have done so well.) Good gaming!

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    • {Challenge one: balancing conditions and damage. Keep it simple. I mean, really, really simple. I’d challenge you to less than seven, and ideally three conditions for your whole game system. “WHAT!?!?!?!?,” you say? I’m serious, three. I know, it sounds impossible. Try it. I double-dog dare you. That said, it will certainly help you balance them with damage and conditions, which will make the rest of the aforementioned really sing.}

      I see your point. Given how often the number 5 comes up in design for this game, though, I’ll probably aim for 5. 🙂

      {Second challenge: regarding the ability to reach back to other powers “not ready” with a boost (your item 7). To this, I say, “SHENANIGANS!” In my experience, this created the same (or a very similar) paralysis in character decision. Reach back for boost – BETWEEN encounters or out of COMBAT – huzzah!}

      Noted. 🙂

      {How does your model interact with the gaming challenges of exploration, social interaction, and strategic narrative.}

      As we want the game to emphasize roleplaying, character interaction, and “social combat” (meaning convincing NPCs with something more than a one-off Diplo or Intim roll), these aspects will be important for all types of characters. The choices of character abilities (whether for casters or martial characters) will include out-of-combat options. Frex, just to make up a name and idea, a character might choose “Big Damn Hero” as an ability, which gives an at-will bonus on interaction checks, and when boosted allows you to bark an order at an indifferent/friendly/helpful party that the listener must save against or comply (similar to a Suggestion spell).

      In other words, there are a lot of non-combat abilities, and players will have good reasons to select non-combat abilities for their characters.

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      • You’ve mentioned social combat a few times.

        Have you given any thought to a more structured way to interact with exploration?

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      • When people mention the three pillars of the game, what I see are the classic literary themes: man vs. beast (combat), man vs. man (social combat), and man vs. wild (?). What I meant is, where you would normally just make a survival check to find food or shelter, is there room for more to happen there? Like there is in social combat–instead of just making a skill check, you have an involved process. There currently (to my knowledge) is no involved process behind finding shelter in a blizzard, for instance. How might players “battle” the storm? Or hunger, or other hazards (quicksand, mudslides, rivers, cliffs, etc.). Skills shortcut these, and maybe they’re not the kind of thing people want to deal with in detail. But maybe they would be if they had the kind of creative attention and mechanics support that combat/social combat have.

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  5. I’ve found that, especially in games like 3.5e and Pathfinder, it’s very difficult to ensure that players fight the full and proper number of encounters each day, and most DMs give up on that. Time limits of one or two days are generally pretty rare, although they would be effective at encouraging haste, and being ambushed in your sleep more than one time per night is just ridiculous.

    So, using daily resources as a combat balancing mechanic is very unreliable, because the difference between doing something 5 times per day, or 5000 times per day but only a few times per combat is quite small. As a setting balance mechanic, however, the difference is tremendous: a wizard who can teleport 5 times per day can ferry messages and heroes, but a wizard who can teleport 5000 times per day can ferry armies and towns.

    What I’m getting at is, with the examples I’ve seen so far, the setting wouldn’t break if Boosts regenerated in a minute. Correct yourself.

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    • {I’ve found that, especially in games like 3.5e and Pathfinder, it’s very difficult to ensure that players fight the full and proper number of encounters each day, and most DMs give up on that}

      We didn’t have a problem with this in 1st and 2nd edition. The key is put more power back in the hands of the GM; the GM runs the campaign, the GM is not merely the arbiter of the rules in the improv adventure show the PCs are playing in.

      {So, using daily resources as a combat balancing mechanic is very unreliable, because the difference between doing something 5 times per day, or 5000 times per day but only a few times per combat is quite small. As a setting balance mechanic, however, the difference is tremendous: a wizard who can teleport 5 times per day can ferry messages and heroes, but a wizard who can teleport 5000 times per day can ferry armies and towns.}

      You’re assuming that the at-will effect you get from the Teleport spell is “teleport like how the teleport spell works in Pathfinder.”

      {Correct yourself.}

      …?

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      • {We didn’t have a problem with this in 1st and 2nd edition. The key is put more power back in the hands of the GM; the GM runs the campaign, the GM is not merely the arbiter of the rules in the improv adventure show the PCs are playing in.}

        I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds sort of bad. Does the GM arbitrarily decide when the PCs rest?

        {You’re assuming that the at-will effect you get from the Teleport spell is “teleport like how the teleport spell works in Pathfinder.”}

        No, I’m using it as an example of a significant setting spell.

        {…?}

        What I’m saying is, “What I’m getting at is, with the examples I’ve seen so far, the setting wouldn’t break if Boosts regenerated in a minute” is a criticism, and changing something about that situation would be an improvement.

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      • Wait, I misread what you said about teleport. The point with that example is that it actually matters to the setting whether teleporting a handful of allies very long distances is at-will, per encounter, or daily. If boosts let you do things like upgrade a short-distance personal teleport to a Pathfinder teleport, I would approve of the daily recharge you had set up. But so far, all of the boosts are things that only matter in the context of a single fight, so boosts would be more balanced and fun if they recharged in more like a minute than a night.

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      • “We didn’t have a problem with this in 1st and 2nd edition. The key is put more power back in the hands of the GM; the GM runs the campaign, the GM is not merely the arbiter of the rules in the improv adventure show the PCs are playing in.”

        This kinda sounds like Gygaxian DMing, a notion I can’t say I support or would encourage, especially in this day & age. RPG’s are cooperative storytelling experiences, so while the DM sets up the scenarios, runs the encounters & rules arbiter, it is the groups show, and not just the DMs (If players show little/no effort to contribute to the game, then fair enough the DM has to be more forward). It falls on the rules system to help arbitrate the Encounter pacing of the game, leaving it on the DM would be unfair, as the game they bought is assumed to have balanced this for them.

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      • Molo:
        {I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds sort of bad. Does the GM arbitrarily decide when the PCs rest?}

        Exactly the opposite: just because the PCs decide they want to rest doesn’t mean the GM allows them to leave the dungeon (safely), head back to their camp (safely), rest for the night (safely), return to the dungeon (safely), and resume their exploring at the last room they cleared out.

        {If boosts let you do things like upgrade a short-distance personal teleport to a Pathfinder teleport, I would approve of the daily recharge you had set up. But so far, all of the boosts are things that only matter in the context of a single fight,}

        That’s because I’ve been giving examples of level 1 abilities. You don’t yet have enough information to judge how often boosts should refresh.

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      • {It falls on the rules system to help arbitrate the Encounter pacing of the game, leaving it on the DM would be unfair, as the game they bought is assumed to have balanced this for them.}

        Yes, and the rules can say, “GM, just because the players decide they want to rest and recharge for the night doesn’t mean you have to let them.” The game world is living thing that continues to move on even if the PCs want to “pause” the game when it’s convenient for them.

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  6. I guess every new game out is going to go the dissociation route. I just can’t buy into those style of games. If Sean’s world is interesting enough I might buy the game for that reason but I don’t I’d ever play it.

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  7. After having thought about this idea for a couple days, I noticed. It’s somewhat reminiscent of 4th edition’s Psionic system, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but bodes initial reactions that the At-Will powers will be lame. This notion can be fed by the example given above aren’t too exciting, and some Boosts options split between a couple different things, which aren’t in-themselves interesting. Though I’m guessing these are rather low level powers, so I stay optimistic that other powers later on get pretty cool (Though Stone Giant does have Powerattack…).

    With that out of the way, I see concern that IF your system allows you to spend more than one Boost in an instance, or round, you’ll be encouraging PC’s to “Nova/spike/Going-all-Out” or otherwise spend their resources faster than intended. Which harms the pacing that you intended with the system, and looks like wouldn’t be solving the “15 min workday” (however its phrased) problem. It can be simple to say its the fault of those player(s), albeit design guides behavior, and shouldn’t be faulted for what the game encourages (for all they know, that’s a feature, not a bug).

    Another issue that came from the 4th’s Psionic system, was that the Psion’s At-wills save for one, weren’t that good, resulting in them spamming only one ability over and over again (until 27th level where I think? It was that at-will, but better). My point is here, is the difficulty of creating different abilities for a given class, that they’ll want to use different ones, and not just mostly spam the same one over and over again. Given, a [Combat] Power won’t see much use in a [Social] Encounter, but the principle applies of spamming the same Social/Combat/Exploration power hopefully help to sidestep (though given, At-will Flight is hard to miss for Exploration). As obviously it can get rather boring to spam the same ability over and over again (unless what it involves is over quick, which case the issue is delayed). Most of all, I hope you have some benchmarks for what stuff goes where at given levels, so to not accidentally create powers more powerful than their level (resulting in people likely not swapping it out, if the later stuff isn’t as good).

    I like to see where this idea goes, as it sounds promising if done right.

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    • {After having thought about this idea for a couple days, I noticed. It’s somewhat reminiscent of 4th edition’s Psionic system}

      That’s a coincidence, as I haven’t read 4E’s psionics system.

      {which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, but bodes initial reactions that the At-Will powers will be lame. This notion can be fed by the example given above aren’t too exciting}

      Well, they are abilities available at level 1, so they’re not going to be amazing.

      {Though I’m guessing these are rather low level powers, so I stay optimistic that other powers later on get pretty cool (Though Stone Giant does have Powerattack…).}

      Because, as I said on the stone giant article, that I basically just took the PF stone giant stat block and converted it to a new format.

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      • “That’s a coincidence, as I haven’t read 4E’s psionics system.”
        Really? Interesting, I figured since you had talked to someone who was behind 4th edition, you guys may’ve looked at that system or something. Oh well, like the issues I highlighted above about it, it also had At-Will powers that would cost 2PP (“boosts”), albeit the upgrade only substantially better, so hopefully 5 Moons will keep all abilities to a 1 Boost cost, and limit it to 1pt use instance to avoid the encouraging of over-expenditure.

        Right, but that does not dismiss the criticisms that you’ll want to avoid for your system (which I’m more interested in seeing a response to here).

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