I’m confused by the limit to the number of spells granted/prepared by the spell preparation moves (Commune and…

I’m confused by the limit to the number of spells granted/prepared by the spell preparation moves (Commune and…

I’m confused by the limit to the number of spells granted/prepared by the spell preparation moves (Commune and Prepare Spells). Both have the form

“when you spend uninterrupted time (an hour or so) doing x you:

Lose any spells you already have (granted/prepared)

Are granted/prepare new spells of your choice whose total levels don’t exceed your own level+1, and none of which is a higher level than your own level.

Prepare all of your rotes/cantrips, which never count against your limit.”

This limit, character level+1, seems pretty harsh. If you prepare any spell at the maximum level you can cast, you’re left with 2 levels left or essentially 2 1st level spells or 1 3rd level if you’ve got a move that lets you treat a spell as one level lower. That’s not a lot of spells.

Anyone have the reasoning behind this choice as compared to, say, spells by level as in B/X D&D or a spell point system?

17 thoughts on “I’m confused by the limit to the number of spells granted/prepared by the spell preparation moves (Commune and…”

  1. I feel it works, especially since the fire and forget is an option, not a garuntee. It allows a spellcaster to decide on power or versatility.

  2. Yeah I was confused by this too until I came to two important realizations.

    1.First level spells are actually pretty powerful.

    2. Since spells aren’t always forgotten when used a character really doesn’t need to have too many preparations available. 

  3. Yeah, I thought about that side of it, and combined with Ritual the Wizard retains a lot of flexibility. My cleric’s player in our group is less convinced. There are hard choices to be made when you’re either dropping your most powerful spells or restricting yourself to one big gun and a couple of 1st level old reliables.

    I’d be curious to know Sage LaTorra and Adam Koebel ‘s thinking of how they arrived at the Level+1 formulation.

  4. This is one of the reasons I like the Priest & Mage alternate classes, they get rid of the neo-Vancian magic system for a something that makes a lot more sense.

  5. We wanted it to be easy (no charts) so it had to be a formula of some sort. We wanted first level to have some flexibility, so it had to be >level. Level * x scales really quickly, and soon losing a spell doesn’t matter, so it had to be level + x. We thought 1 made a pretty good X, as it kept a constraint but not a really heavy one.

  6. I like the Mage and Priest playbooks but the Mage in play has proved a bit of a balancing act. Enforcing the Aligned and Opposed elements can provoke disagreements and different interpretations. 

    The Vancian magic seems to me to make it into the game on the coat-tails of  “a game with modern rules & old-school style” ethos. It’s surely not required, but if we’re using it I’d like a little more flexibility than the current Level+1 mechanic provides.

  7. Just scribbling on the back of a copy of Alarums and Excursions (how’s that for cred?) I think I might go with something like N(N-1)+1 levels of spells.

    1st Level, 1 1st level spell; 2nd level, 3 1st level spells, and so on. So our 4th level cleric would now get 13 levels of spells, or probably 3 3rd level spells and 4 1st level spells. The player might actually take the ‘spell revoked’ outcome if he had more spells on hand.

  8. Admittedly, increasing the number of spell levels available to the spell casters per renewal would likely encourage larger spell lists. This might be a concern for some groups. Personally I like longer and more outlandish spell lists.

  9. The stock limits are pretty strict.  While you can theoretically prepare a 3rd level spells at character level 3, the cost (3 more 1st level spells) is harsh.  My own wizard held off until character level 5 before memorizing a 3rd level spell on a regular basis.  I’m not sure I like it, but in practice it works okay so I’m hesitant to fiddle with it.

  10. Loco Tomo   Right, I’ve seen players do it several times in 1 day.

    For a different option, check out the alternate class abilities I posted before.  It gives a Spontaneous Caster 1 spell per level that you know.  So you might have 2 1st, 2 3rd, and a 5th level spell known at 5th level.  However, you can never change those spells, the “forget a spell” option when casting is replaced by “suffer the spell’s level+1 in damage (no armor)”, and any penalties to casting last until you Make Camp and sleep 8 hrs rather than just a 1 hour commune.  So, it’s got its benefits and drawbacks….

  11. Spontaneous Caster seems like a useful alternative, although leaning more towards the D&D 3.x sorcerer (few spells known, more castings per day) model. 

    Alan De Smet You make a really useful point, which is that spell casters don’t have to carry around their highest level spells all the time, and that matches the every other level increase in spell level availability in the D&D source material.

  12. You could do Level+Int spells for a variation on the formula. This would make wizards and Int based classes better at magic, makes sense in the fiction, is easy to calculate, and isn’t a huge power increase.

  13. I experimented briefly in my online (pbp) game with levelX2 and it didn’t immediately blow up. I know that it only takes an hour to re-prepare, but I try to keep the intensity up where people can’t casually just take an hour out to do something.

    Maybe I should try writing a custom “emergency prepared spell change” move instead.

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