History Main / VancianMagic

24th Jun '16 11:56:03 PM ProfessorDetective
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* In the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', wizards are sometimes shown using this form of magic, and the series takes the third rule to an extreme -- for the first two books, Rincewind has one of the eight spells of the Octavo in his head, and it's so powerful that other spells just don't fit (or are too scared to stay). Although once it's ejected, it turns out he ''still'' can't learn any useful magic.\\\
In addition, spells follow the law of conservation of energy: with few exceptions, a wizard must expend as much energy learning or preparing a spell as it uses to do its task. Therefore, impressive spells could take many lifetimes to prepare and simply aren't worth it. And once a wizard finally finds out how to summon nubile virgins, he's way too old to remember why he wanted to do that.\\\
This is demonstrated with the various transportation spells used in the series: In one book, a character who wants to ascend to the top of the tower first has to use magic to knock loose a stone from the top, and use its energy and momentum as a lever in the spell. In ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'', they teleport Rincewind to the Aurient, but have to exchange him with something from his landing spot and of approximately the same weight. At the same time, in ''Discworld/EqualRites'', levitating a staff a handful of feet is extremely physically taxing because there isn't anything nearby to use as a counterweight, so the wizard in question has to do ''all'' the heavy lifting with his mind.\\\
This is subverted in a fashion in ''Discworld/{{Sourcery}}'', when a character who is a literal conduit of magical energy is present, wizards are capable of overriding the usual restrictions of conservation of their own bodies by using the excess energy floating around. This also allows them to perform highly tricky transmogrification of turning people into newts without the usual floating bag of flesh containing all the parts that are too big to fit.\\\
Also, the whole idea of spells taking so much energy to prepare is now sometimes being passed with "well, it was the least competent wizard in the world claiming that". (This was in ''[[TabletopGame/DiscworldRolePlayingGame GURPS Discworld]]'', probably.)
* Joel Rosenberg's ''Literature/GuardiansOfTheFlame'' series, which features a set of ''D&D''-playing college students who are transported into the actual D&D world, uses the same trope, though note that ''D&D'' is not mentioned by name due to trademark concerns. It's definitely supposed to play like ''D&D'', but he even mushed up some of the mechanics (attributes are rolled with 5d4 (reading 0-3) and class levels are on an alphabetical scale (A to whatever) for example. Importantly, it has rules for going berserk (which ''D&D'' of its era never did), which is a plot point.\\\
After the first book, Rosenberg sort of moved away from Vancian spell-casting -- the next one that features really extensive use of magic by a viewpoint character [[spoiler: (the wizard in the first book having given up wizardry to pursue the far mightier power of engineering, which has begun to radically change the nature of the fantasy world in which the heroes are stuck)]] is the sixth, ''The Road to Ehvenor,'' and I don't recall any references to Andy-Andy having to prepare spells, or forgetting them after she casts them. You get the impression Rosenberg didn't much like Vancian magic, or writing in detail about magic in general, given the focus of the books on the warrior and thief-types, and the fact that [[spoiler:Andy-Andy also loses her magic at the end of Book Six.]] In the later books it becomes very clear that magic has a strong tendency to [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity consume the sanity of those who use it -- the more powerful wizards are, the crazier they get]]. And it's also [[FantasticDrug addictive]].

to:

* In the ''Literature/{{Discworld}}'', wizards are sometimes shown using this form of magic, and the series takes the third rule to an extreme -- for the first two books, Rincewind has one of the eight spells of the Octavo in his head, and it's so powerful that other spells just don't fit (or are too scared to stay). Although once it's ejected, it turns out he ''still'' can't learn any useful magic.\\\
magic.
**
In addition, spells follow the law of conservation of energy: with few exceptions, a wizard must expend as much energy learning or preparing a spell as it uses to do its task. Therefore, impressive spells could take many lifetimes to prepare and simply aren't worth it. And once a wizard finally finds out how to summon nubile virgins, he's way too old to remember why he wanted to do that.\\\
that.
**
This is demonstrated with the various transportation spells used in the series: In one book, a character who wants to ascend to the top of the tower first has to use magic to knock loose a stone from the top, and use its energy and momentum as a lever in the spell. In ''Discworld/InterestingTimes'', they teleport Rincewind to the Aurient, but have to exchange him with something from his landing spot and of approximately the same weight. At the same time, in ''Discworld/EqualRites'', levitating a staff a handful of feet is extremely physically taxing because there isn't anything nearby to use as a counterweight, so the wizard in question has to do ''all'' the heavy lifting with his mind.\\\
mind.
**
This is subverted in a fashion in ''Discworld/{{Sourcery}}'', when a character who is a literal conduit of magical energy is present, wizards are capable of overriding the usual restrictions of conservation of their own bodies by using the excess energy floating around. This also allows them to perform highly tricky transmogrification of turning people into newts without the usual floating bag of flesh containing all the parts that are too big to fit.\\\
fit.
**
Also, the whole idea of spells taking so much energy to prepare is now sometimes being passed with "well, it was the least competent wizard in the world claiming that". (This was in ''[[TabletopGame/DiscworldRolePlayingGame GURPS Discworld]]'', probably.)
* Joel Rosenberg's ''Literature/GuardiansOfTheFlame'' series, which features a set of ''D&D''-playing college students who are transported into the actual D&D world, uses the same trope, though note that ''D&D'' is not mentioned by name due to trademark concerns. It's definitely supposed to play like ''D&D'', but he even mushed up some of the mechanics (attributes are rolled with 5d4 (reading 0-3) and class levels are on an alphabetical scale (A to whatever) for example. Importantly, it has rules for going berserk (which ''D&D'' of its era never did), which is a plot point.\\\
point.
**
After the first book, Rosenberg sort of moved away from Vancian spell-casting spellcasting -- the next one that features really extensive use of magic by a viewpoint character [[spoiler: (the wizard in the first book having given up wizardry to pursue the far mightier power of engineering, which has begun to radically change the nature of the fantasy world in which the heroes are stuck)]] is the sixth, ''The Road to Ehvenor,'' and I don't recall any references to Andy-Andy having to prepare spells, or forgetting them after she casts them. You get the impression Rosenberg didn't much like Vancian magic, or writing in detail about magic in general, given the focus of the books on the warrior and thief-types, and the fact that [[spoiler:Andy-Andy also loses her magic at the end of Book Six.]] In the later books it becomes very clear that magic has a strong tendency to [[WithGreatPowerComesGreatInsanity consume the sanity of those who use it -- the more powerful wizards are, the crazier they get]]. And it's also [[FantasticDrug addictive]].



* Used partially, with well-defined parameters, in Lawrence Watt-Evans' ''Literature/TheLegendsOfEthshar'' series. There are many different forms of magic, the Vancian one being Wizardry. This is heavily dependent on ritual and materials or foci, uses the naming convention almost universally, and most significantly, structured into levels: spell "orders", a second-order spell being eight to ten times as hard as as a first order spell, and so on. There are at least twelve orders referenced, so small wonder that major wizards use an eternal youth spell so they have studying time. Unlike traditional Vancian magic, the spells are cast as soon as the ritual is completed and the number of times a spell can be cast is limited only by material components consumed and casting time.\\\
Also subverted in ''Taking Flight''. There two fire-and-forget wizardry systems are introduced, both with severe drawbacks. The first one lets wizard prepare any one (but only one) spell in advance, to be used once at his convenience, with practically zero casting time. Can be useful, as some spells need days to cast. The drawback is, until the spell is used, the wizard cannot do any other wizardry. The second system is a plot point: [[spoiler:wizard prepares about a dozen of spells, to instantly cast later as many times as he likes. The drawback? No other wizardry ever for that wizard, except for these spells.]]

to:

* Used partially, with well-defined parameters, in Lawrence Watt-Evans' ''Literature/TheLegendsOfEthshar'' series. There are many different forms of magic, the Vancian one being Wizardry. This is heavily dependent on ritual and materials or foci, uses the naming convention almost universally, and most significantly, structured into levels: spell "orders", a second-order spell being eight to ten times as hard as as a first order spell, and so on. There are at least twelve orders referenced, so small wonder that major wizards use an eternal youth spell so they have studying time. Unlike traditional Vancian magic, the spells are cast as soon as the ritual is completed and the number of times a spell can be cast is limited only by material components consumed and casting time.\\\
time.
**
Also subverted in ''Taking Flight''. There two fire-and-forget wizardry systems are introduced, both with severe drawbacks. The first one lets wizard prepare any one (but only one) spell in advance, to be used once at his convenience, with practically zero casting time. Can be useful, as some spells need days to cast. The drawback is, until the spell is used, the wizard cannot do any other wizardry. The second system is a plot point: [[spoiler:wizard prepares about a dozen of spells, to instantly cast later as many times as he likes. The drawback? No other wizardry ever for that wizard, except for these spells.]]



* The original ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' rules adopted this form as one that would be relatively simple to implement for a game, that wasn't part of any real-world belief structure and easily [[CompetitiveBalance balanced]]. Since then, it has become a bit of a sacred cow in later editions, retained even when the game [[TheProblemWithLicensedGames adapts a licensed property]] (such as Robert Jordan's ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' books) that itself uses a completely different type of magic.\\\
And, well, Creator/GaryGygax [[http://www.google.com/search?q=%2B%22Gary+Gygax%22+%2B%22jack+vance+%26+the+d%26d+game%22 was a big fan of Vance]], so not only ''D&D'' obviously was influenced, but its lore contains {{shout out}}s to Vance: the evil necromancer turned [[AGodAmI God]] named [[SignificantAnagram Vecna]], said to have been the most powerful mortal wizard ever; also, Robe of Eyes from ''The Dying Earth''.\\\
Starting in ''AD&D'', and continuing through 3.Xe and 4e ''D&D'', the game began to allow some flexibility to the Vancian system. Examples are as follows:

to:

* The original ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' rules adopted this form as one that would be relatively simple to implement for a game, that wasn't part of any real-world belief structure and easily [[CompetitiveBalance balanced]]. Since then, it has become a bit of a sacred cow in later editions, retained even when the game [[TheProblemWithLicensedGames adapts a licensed property]] (such as Robert Jordan's ''Literature/TheWheelOfTime'' books) that itself uses a completely different type of magic.\\\
magic.
**
And, well, Creator/GaryGygax [[http://www.google.com/search?q=%2B%22Gary+Gygax%22+%2B%22jack+vance+%26+the+d%26d+game%22 was a big fan of Vance]], so not only ''D&D'' obviously was influenced, but its lore contains {{shout out}}s to Vance: the evil necromancer turned [[AGodAmI God]] named [[SignificantAnagram Vecna]], said to have been the most powerful mortal wizard ever; also, Robe of Eyes from ''The Dying Earth''.\\\
Earth''.
**
Starting in ''AD&D'', and continuing through 3.Xe and 4e ''D&D'', the game began to allow some flexibility to the Vancian system. Examples are as follows:



* Played with in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'': Battle Wizards (and sorcerers, shamans etc.) can have up to four "levels" of magic, each level representing a spell and a die to cast spells with. No normal wizard can then cast each spell they know more than once, so even the most powerful archmage is limited to 4 spells. However this limit refreshes each 'turn' rather than each 'day' as is common in other tabletop systems. Wizards can also opt to have a better chance of casting a given spell by neglecting to cast one or more of their others and using the power thus saved on their big kill-everything-within-fifty-feet spell. Of course this is still ''Warhammer''; using more dice on a spell in this way increases the risk of mis-casting and something horrible happening.\\\
It's also worth noting that the "Battle Magic" spells featured are simply the most powerful spells known to those schools of magic, wizards technically know a host of lesser spells as well, but these lesser magics are more the province of roleplaying games than wargames focusing on clashing armies.

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* Played with in ''TabletopGame/{{Warhammer}}'': Battle Wizards (and sorcerers, shamans etc.) can have up to four "levels" of magic, each level representing a spell and a die to cast spells with. No normal wizard can then cast each spell they know more than once, so even the most powerful archmage is limited to 4 spells. However this limit refreshes each 'turn' rather than each 'day' as is common in other tabletop systems. Wizards can also opt to have a better chance of casting a given spell by neglecting to cast one or more of their others and using the power thus saved on their big kill-everything-within-fifty-feet spell. Of course this is still ''Warhammer''; using more dice on a spell in this way increases the risk of mis-casting and something horrible happening.\\\
happening.
**
It's also worth noting that the "Battle Magic" spells featured are simply the most powerful spells known to those schools of magic, wizards technically know a host of lesser spells as well, but these lesser magics are more the province of roleplaying games than wargames focusing on clashing armies.
18th Jun '16 11:57:01 PM nombretomado
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* Used with slight variations in ''LegendOfTheFiveRings''. Spells must be learned in advance (generally from scrolls) and are divided according to their rank and element. However, spell slots are tied directly with the caster's "rings", which measure affinity for a given element, rather than to specific spells. So a particular caster might be able to use, say, three fire spells in a particular day, choosing from any fire spells they've previously learned. The exception is ''maho'' or "blood magic", which has no per-day limit; its drawback is that blood must be spilled for each spell cast.

to:

* Used with slight variations in ''LegendOfTheFiveRings''.''TabletopGame/LegendOfTheFiveRings''. Spells must be learned in advance (generally from scrolls) and are divided according to their rank and element. However, spell slots are tied directly with the caster's "rings", which measure affinity for a given element, rather than to specific spells. So a particular caster might be able to use, say, three fire spells in a particular day, choosing from any fire spells they've previously learned. The exception is ''maho'' or "blood magic", which has no per-day limit; its drawback is that blood must be spilled for each spell cast.
14th Jun '16 2:48:39 PM DarkHunter
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* Diverging from it's [[VideoGame/DemonsSouls spiritual predecessor's]] ManaMeter, ''VideoGame/DarkSouls'' and its sequel follows this model. Each spell has a given number of uses, which replenishes when resting, and takes up one or more "Attunement Slots." The number of slots can be increased by leveling your Attunement stat, or wearing a couple of rings. If you have aquired more than one "set" of spell uses, you can put more of them into slots to increase your total capability of casting that specific spell.

to:

* Diverging from it's [[VideoGame/DemonsSouls spiritual predecessor's]] ManaMeter, ''VideoGame/DarkSouls'' and its sequel follows this model. Each spell has a given number of uses, which replenishes when resting, and takes up one or more "Attunement Slots." The number of slots can be increased by leveling your Attunement stat, or wearing a couple of rings. If you have aquired more than one "set" of spell uses, you can put more of them into slots to increase your total capability of casting that specific spell. ''VideoGame/DarkSoulsIII'' just goes back to using a ManaMeter.
5th Apr '16 11:38:21 PM MaskedAndDangerous
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Added DiffLines:

* Early Series/FinalFantasy games, being heavily inspired by D&D, utilize this to a degree. There are 8 levels of spells, with three slots per level. Classes that are more magically inclined can use the higher level spells, and more importantly get more charges per level. Later releases would replace the charges with MP, which simplifies the system while removing the resource management required.
15th Mar '16 9:04:10 AM OminousBoardOfInvestors
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* ''VideoGame/{{Elona}}'' follows this to the letter. Quite unfortunate considering how easy it is to fail most high-end spells, and how rare their books are.

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* ''VideoGame/{{Elona}}'' Elona follows this to the letter. Quite unfortunate considering how easy it is to fail most high-end spells, letter, and how rare their books are.piles on a ManaMeter, [[MagicMisfire spell failure rates,]] and [[AdamSmithHatesYourGuts extortionate prices]] for [[ResourcesManagementGameplay spellstock-restoring books]] to boot, seeing them as the only way to prevent [[LinearWarriorsQuadraticWizards Linear Warriors, Quadratic Wizards.]] While it doesn't quite manage to [[Webcomic/TheOrderOfTheStick deliberately force some kind of arbitrary equality between those of us who can reshape matter with our thoughts and those who cannot,]] it does wedge magic users into a very comfortable spot high up in DifficultButAwesome territory.
20th Feb '16 12:34:39 PM CountDorku
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** [[ReligionIsMagic Clerics and druids]] in third edition have a sort of "virtual Vancian" system. Most spells have to be prepared ahead of time, but they each have one classification of spell that can be cast spontaneously at the expense of a prepared slot of the same level. Clerics can spontaneously use a healing effect like ''cure light wounds'' if good or one of the inverted negative energy effects like ''inflict light wounds'' if evil (neutral ones have to pick one at character creation, although choice of god may influence it - Wee Jas, Greyhawk's lawful neutral goddess of necromancy and love, typically grants spontaneous inflict spells, for example), while all druids regardless of alignment have the power to ''summon nature's ally'' at the appropriate level.



* In ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'', Black Mage started being able to use the Level 9 [[KamehameHadoken Hadoken]] once per day, [[CripplingOverspecialization and nothing else.]] Or at least, [[TheAllSolvingHammer nothing else he's in the mood to use]], as "not-level 9 spells aren't [his] idiom".

to:

* In ''Webcomic/EightBitTheater'', Black Mage started being able to use the Level 9 [[KamehameHadoken Hadoken]] once per day, [[CripplingOverspecialization and nothing else.]] Or at least, [[TheAllSolvingHammer nothing else he's in the mood to use]], as "not-level 9 spells aren't [his] idiom". Later on, his CharacterDevelopment means he ''does'' start filling his lower-level spell slots with fiery death...only to use them, if anything, even more irresponsibly than his level 9 spells.
-->'''Red Mage:''' We're doomed to an icy, uh, doom.\\
'''Thief:''' That sentence kinda got away from you.\\
'''RM:''' Our only hope is that Black Mage catches up to us soon! And that he hasn't squandered all of his fire magic on completely frivolous targets.\\
'''[[DescriptionCut Black Mage]]:''' [casts fire spell] Dah! More bats! Burn! [casts fire spell] Argh, a fly! [casts fire spell] Some dirt!
28th Jan '16 12:02:31 AM Terabiel
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Added DiffLines:

** This is a common mistake, where people tend to default to D&D because it is the most popular fantasy RPG. Guardians isn't based on D&D, but rather on a somewhat more obscure system called "Runequest." One of the key traits that demonstrates Guardian's use of the Runequest system is that skills (including attacking and spellcasting) are leveled by using them.
24th Jan '16 1:23:49 AM GaidinBDJ
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** 5th Edition has reached a bit of a middle ground for spell-preparing casters. Now, they prepare a certain number of spells equal to (spellcasting ability modifier + caster level), but they don't assign those spells to specific slots--indeed, the number of prepared spells and the number of available slots may not even match up. They can cast any of their prepared spells as often as they want, so long as they have an unspent slot of the spell's level or higher.[[note]]EXAMPLE: A wizard who has prepared Alter Self, Invisibility, and Levitate, and has 4 level 1 slots (and no higher-level slots) can cast each of them once and one of them a second time, or cast two spells twice, or one spell once and one spell thrice, or one spell four times. The wizard doesn't decide how many times each spell will be cast when s/he prepares them; s/he decides which spell goes in a slot when s/he casts.[[/note]]

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** 5th Edition has reached a bit of a middle ground for spell-preparing casters. Now, they prepare moved away from static spell slots. In 5th Edition, spell-casing classes can "prepare" (i.e. memorize) a certain number of spells equal to (spellcasting ability modifier + caster level), but they don't assign those spells to specific slots--indeed, the number of prepared spells and the number of available spells. They then get spell slots may not even match up. each level (for example, a 5th level Wizard has four 1st level slots, three 2nd level slots, and two 3rd level slots). They can use those slots to cast any of their prepared spells as often as which "uses up" that slot for the day. They can cast their prepared spells in any combination they want, so wish as long as they have an unspent a slot of equal to or higher than the spell's level or higher.[[note]]EXAMPLE: A wizard who has level. In addition, some spell-casting classes have "level 0 cantrips" that they can cast at will once they learn them without using spell slots at all. The cantrips include minor effects (creating a light, minor telekinesis, simple illusions, etc.) as well as direct damage spells.
*** The Dungeon Master's Guide for 5e contains an alternate set of rules for casting that removes spell slots entirely and replaces them with general spell point pool the
prepared Alter Self, Invisibility, and Levitate, and has 4 level 1 slots (and no higher-level slots) can cast each of them once and one of them a second time, or cast two spells twice, or one spell once and one spell thrice, or one spell four times. The wizard doesn't decide how many times each spell will can be cast when s/he prepares them; s/he decides which spell goes in a slot when s/he casts.[[/note]]from.
18th Jan '16 12:57:50 PM Underachiever
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Naturally, this approach to magic is a lot more common in non-interactive media (where it's easy for the creators to match the character's spell selection to the later needs of the plot) than it is in video games, which, while often inspired by VancianMagic, stretch its rules quite a bit since demanding a lot of magic preparation in a game could easily become annoying and/or create pacing issues. As such, most games that involve magic base its rules around the much simpler ManaMeter. Or sometimes a mix, you may only be able to "equip" a certain number of spells for any given level, but use them as often as you can afford the cost.

to:

Naturally, this approach to magic is a lot more common in non-interactive media (where it's of course easy for the creators to match the character's spell selection -- when it's even explicitly shown -- to the later needs of the plot) than it is in video games, which, while often inspired by VancianMagic, stretch its rules quite a bit since demanding a lot of magic preparation in a game could easily become annoying and/or create pacing issues. As such, most games that involve magic base its rules around the much simpler ManaMeter. Or sometimes a mix, you may only be able to "equip" a certain number of spells for any given level, but use them as often as you can afford the cost.
18th Jan '16 12:56:41 PM Underachiever
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Naturally, this approach to magic is a lot more common in non-interactive media than it is in video games, which, while often inspired by VancianMagic, stretch its rules quite a bit since demanding a lot of magic preparation in a game could easily become annoying and/or create pacing issues. As such, most games that involve magic base its rules around the much simpler ManaMeter. Or sometimes a mix, you may only be able to "equip" a certain number of spells for any given level, but use them as often as you can afford the cost.

to:

Naturally, this approach to magic is a lot more common in non-interactive media (where it's easy for the creators to match the character's spell selection to the later needs of the plot) than it is in video games, which, while often inspired by VancianMagic, stretch its rules quite a bit since demanding a lot of magic preparation in a game could easily become annoying and/or create pacing issues. As such, most games that involve magic base its rules around the much simpler ManaMeter. Or sometimes a mix, you may only be able to "equip" a certain number of spells for any given level, but use them as often as you can afford the cost.
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