The Bore-lock
Posted by Tobold's Blog [HTML][XML][PERM][FULL] on 6 March 2014, 8:37 am
Where does magic come from, and how does it work? If you read fantasy novels from different authors, and play fantasy games from different producers, you will get a lot of different answers to that question. As it says on the label "fantasy", the magic is just made up in the imagination of the author. While other parts of the fantasy world might follow real-world examples, e.g. a society with a real-world medieval feudal structure, magic has more freedom, and thus often more variety.

I was thinking about that when I read this rant about the Bore-lock, in which the author complains that the warlock in 5th edition D&D (they apparently dropped the "Next" label) is boring, because he works with the same rules system on magic as the wizard and sorcerer. Because if you consider the question how magic works in the context of designing and pen & paper role-playing game rules system, you have one big question to answer first: Is there only one rules system for magic, which applies with different flavors to all spell-casters? Or do different character classes have different rules systems?

Of course both are possible. It comes down to a question of design philosophy, how complex you want to make your rules system. The author of the blog post linked to above clearly prefers more complex system in which every class has a different rules system. But there are obvious advantages to less complex systems, in terms of clarity, as well as class balance. If for example the different spell-casters in your group recover their spells in different ways, they end up pulling the group into different directions. The caster who in a Vancian model "forgets" his spells after casting them will want to rest more frequently to regain them, while another class whose resources aren't linked to long rests might want to carry on.

Personally I prefer the simpler model of having only one system of how powers work. That doesn't mean that all classes become the same, because different classes can have different powers. But you don't need to keep half a dozen different rules system in your head, and the resource management of different classes is more closely aligned.
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