Do you have the time sir?

One of the biggest problems in DnD is the inconsistency of spell durations. If I cast a spell that lasts 100 minutes, most of the time I just have to guess when it ends. Does walking to the end of town take 15 minutes or 20? Tracking the round of multiple effects gets even more tedious. I have 5 rounds on our bard’s song, 2 rounds on the 3 summoned badgers, 4 rounds on glitter dust, and 1 round on grease. I hope I’m not forgetting anything.

You should never have to calculate or track a spell duration. Durations should never expire at some bizzaro point in the middle of a combat — it should be totally obvious whether a spell is still in effect or not. Every single spell in the game should have one of the following durations:

  1. Instantaneous
  2. One encounter (A single battle)
  3. One Scene (While exploring a single building)
  4. One Activity Period (While exploring a single town)
  5. One day (24 hours)
  6. One Week (168 hours)
  7. Constant while conscious
  8. Permanent

Attack powers and healing are still instantaneous.
Most powers fall into the “one encounter category,” while some buffs went into the “one day” category. Powers that essentially gave class features were in the other two categories.

I’m considering using this, if tracking durations gets to be a problem:
Any effect that lasts 12 rounds last for an entire encounter
Any effect that lasts 12 minutes lasts for an entire scene
Any effect that lasts 2 hours (120 minutes) lasts for an activity period
Any effect that lasts 12 hours lasts for the entire day
Any effect that last for 12 days lasts indefinitely.

(An ‘Activity Period’ is a roughly an 8-hour block; end of rest cycle to mid day, mid day to start of rest cycle, all of Rest Cycle. or similar)

It simplifies durations for mid-upper level characters. I’m not so concerned that a 6th level Sorcerers (using Extend Spell or a rod of extend) has an Invisibility Spell that lasts as long as a 20th.

Extend spell would move the duration of the spell to the next highest duration. This would apply for spells with a duration of one encounter to one day. One encounter would change to one scene, one activity period would change to one day ect. This makes extend slightly more powerful but far from game breaking.

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I personally think all the math and recording times keeping should be done by computers. That leaves players and DM’s to use their brains for things like strategy and smart tactics.

This simplification makes a lot of sense.

This does make sense — I clearly agree with the thought behind it. But: I still think having a finite number of rounds is important with some spells, especially spells designed for combat. I don’t see the problem in keeping track of the rounds, since every DM keeps a record of the passing of the rounds during the action anyway. In addition, when fighting large battles, with new enemies entering in the middle of the battle, weak spells shouldn’t be allowed to last for numerous rounds just because it’s easier (say, to take care of the cannonfodder)!

On the other hand, it frees up some time, that can be used on preparing the battle better, and spend less time administrating the whole thing, thus letting the players get more action.

The largest problem, as far as I can see, is the realism of it. It seems natural that a spellcaster is able to cast a spell with a more or less equal duration every time. If for instance Grease is cast (would seem like a spell perfect for duration one encounter) at the end of a battle by a 7th lvl spellcaster — maybe in the last round of the battle, according to this system, it would disappear after merely six seconds, since the battle is over. This is not consistent! What is the party is being stalked. A good DM keeps track of where the other NPCs/monsters are. What if they’re supposed to reach the PCs, say, two rounds later. The Grease is gone, and the upper hand the PCs should have had, has disappeared because of a rule designed to make it easier for the DM.

In the earlier days, before I started playing D&D, most people didn’t have access to computers. How come people were able to keep track of it back then and not now?

It is a good idea, I think, to make it easier for the DM, but this rule would, in my eyes, be a good candidate for an optional rule.
Standard rule — optional rule:
X rounds/lvl — One encounter (A single battle)
X minutes/lvl — One Scene (While exploring a single building)
10X minutes/lvl — One Activity Period (While exploring a single town)
One day (24 hours)
One Week (168 hours)
Constant while conscious

Another system for this, could be a durations based on the caster’s Constitution score. A character with a high Con could be able to concentrate harder and for a longer period of time to keep a spell lasting longer than normal. This would make Con more important for Wizards and Sorcerers too, making them less vulnerable. But that’s a digression.

I agree with Tor-Ivar that sometimes a finite duration adds to the gameplay. In laying a traps or the maybe fatal embarrassment of a spell lapsing just as the reinforcements arrive. I don’t like to interrupt the action with too much book-keeping, but as with contracts the fine print, i.e. number of rounds duration, is a useful backstop to prevent arguments if a combat involves several groups of participants arriving at different times. We had a very dicey encounter recently when the DM played some lizard men with a little intelligence and sent runners for more guards. By the time the 3rd lot arrived we could only flee and hope to survive long enough for a rematch.

Whilst the concept is interesting it does not realy solve the problem as the argument just get differs into what is an “encounter”.

I had this very discussion as DM with respect to rage and recovery. In the end to avoid ambiguity the group agreed to change the recovery point to a full round action in a non threatened area.

Protection spells should have a chance of running out mid combat to give combat a sense of urgency.

Whilst absolute time keeping can be a pain in the butt it does not have to be a burden. It is afterall just an occasional tick on a bit of paper every.

Personally I make the players keep the initiative list and mark off everytime we get back to the top. Why should the DM do all the admin.

Of almost all the changes that 4th edition is rumored to make I am most excited about this, it changes and simplifies alot of things for every group of D&D; The Dungeon Master, The Experienced Player, The New Player.

When I Dungeon Master the thing that bothers me the most is battles, there is so much to keep track of, from before to after the battle this keeps everything simple. When you have a large party nothing is worse than having a giant battle take 6 hours because people are losing interest because the need to double check and do the math for their buffs.

As a experienced player it helps because it allows you to focus on the important things, like role-playing. if a player wants to go all out and try to exploit the system, fine whatever, this will take away the 10 minutes he needs between every round to figure out how to best exploit what is happening.

This also seem to be great for new players, because along with other changes you don’t have to tell them “a spellcaster isn’t really a good choice for a first timer” it makes combat much simpler for them and make them more willing because they can play the character they want to. Which will turn them into good D&Ders

I think these new spell durations are good step in the right direction. I hate tracking durations and shit… too much book keeping at higher levels. I don’t know that an entirely new edition is needed to implement most of these changes though. Monster statblocks and encounter durations aren’t big enough imo. The rest of the changes though suck and I won’t be buying 4th ed books.

I’ll stick with stealing good stuff from it and implementing it into 3.5.

Bookkeeping is always a pain in the ass, granted. Unfortunately, that’s the reality of PnP gaming. Yes, it would be ever so cool if a computer handled all the mechanics, but then again, rolling dice can be fun so long as the underlying math doesn’t devolve into sheer drudgery. We handle spell durations by using combat sheets, since you pretty much have to write everything out anyway given the complexities of mid-high combat with a gazillion modifiers. We use a small dry-erase whiteboard and record each player’s/monster’s initiative, status, AC, and other pertinent data. Rounds are tracked for all to see. The math is kept transparent as possible, and when it’s not your turn, you should be prepping the more obvious rolls for when it is. If your group and DM stay organized, it does actually get easier. Advantage: the group can become self-policing by ensuring that no one fudges rolls or math, and helping out when needed. So, yes, it’s great that NWN does the math for you, but that’s a pallid computer simulation of PnP D&D and in no way an equivalently satisfying experience, at least in my opinion. As to DnD 4E, it’s not D&D anymore. It’s a splorge of something resembling D&D onto a WOW sim. Utterly bass-ackwards, and no one in my group will play it. 3.5 works, if you invest the time and organizational tricks to speed things up and get back to the role-playing fun of things.

I agree anymore with Tor-Ivar,and Oldhand and Curmudgeon.

If you can’t do the math, don’t play the class.Good strategy and tactics has to take into account spell duration and timing,just like how many arrows you have left in your quiver,your AC,HTK,movement rate-that kind of stuff.It’s the details that count and separate the good players from the other players.

This doesn’t make any sense. This is one of the most absurd things I ever heard about PnP gaming. Spell durations are the critical part of encounters in D&D. A good DM can easily keep track of what is going on in a battle. Besides, good players do help the DM, easing his work by keeping track of their own durations. Why do we use combat sheets anyway? Right for this purpose actually. It’s not a real burden. Jotting down the spells and making a tick in front their names at every round is not a big deal at all. Removing this from the game will take away much of the realism and uniqueness of all the spells. So it’s like ”Grease lasts 1 encounter, this can be as short as 3 rounds, or as long as 100 rounds”

I agree that any dm worth their salt can track spell durations in their sleep.

I still like the durations idea listed here. I would tie them to in game time and to spell level.

Max spell level | Max Duration
0 | instant
1 | 1 minute (one encounter)
2 | 1 hour (one scene)
3 | 4 hours (one activity period)
4 | 12 hours
5 | 24 hours
6 | 1 Week
7 | 28 days (that is a full month)
8 | 1 year
9 | Permanent

It would be tied to spell level in that the max duration of the lowest level spell is the duration in the table.

So a magic user able to cast 9th level spells can cast a permanent light spell, while a first level magic user can cast light for only a minute at a time.

This also means that a magic user able to cast 5th level spells is able to cast light for 24 hours while their 5th level spells only last for a minute according to my chart.

I believa this is a lttle bit like everithing in this edition, I like but not quite, it changes a lot of meta game sure but like everithing else before it can go under the “revision” of each mster… just as I am going to turn bloodied into wounded (with the wound/vitality sistem) I will make some ruling to avoid certain power to last a day long battle and to allow several uses of a “encounter-power” in a long battle (like those when you are defending a dorway/bridge and the foes come in waves which seems more suported now) probably adding some randomness into it, I allways loved the look of a player that counted to finish some battle with the last rounds of certain spell and the busts start wearing of in the middle of the fight, and I believe it would have the sime effect when recovering those powers when most needed (or feared… like lets kill him before he recovers his main spells…) this sistem allows different maths like fleeing from an encounter to recover those powers and try again… maybe usin the 5 min rest…

This sistem is too much focused in beeing usefull, practical, shiny… leaving realism aside where is interpretation? a wizard is a cunning archetipe he plays with maths, calculing ahead not jumping into new encounters because everithing will be reseted before the next encounter this is too warlock flavorfull beeing badass, reckless, powerfull this one fills more the socerer slot

Im going to miss the old cold blooded mind master wizard n

they have killed the wizard, and buried him. The entire point of playing a wizard was being able to cast only a handful of spells per day, but knowing every spell in the book. Now it has desintigrated into per encounter spells? wtf! spells no longer have fixed durations, they last as long as their needed, wtf, where is the fun in that?. the enjoyment in playing a wizard came from succesfully planning ahead of time for your spell selection. now thats gone, my god… they have transformed the wizard into the soc… lots of spells per day with no preperation.

well they killed the wizard, deleted the monk practically force players to buy a battle grid. this is more than enough to keep me out of the game.

DAM you Wizards of the coast! you have turned a potentialy amazing revision of dnd into shit .

how have they killed the wizard. was it really so much fun to play a wizard in the first place. now i personally loved the wizard, though the fact that i was only usefull for one battle a day was quite irritating. i personally find that making it so that the wizard will be able to do somethings all the time is amazing. also from what i have seen so far nothing actually lasts one incounter on its own and that most things with longer durations will have to be maintained with your swift action. so it is less like it simply goes away when it is not needed and more like it goes away when the spell caster feels that he/she does not need it. so if you were to use somthing like grease it would not vanish withen six seconds it would vanish when the specific incounter was finished, incounter not being specifically battle; however this would limit the nomber of long duration spells that you could have active at once so you would have the problem of lets say the mage sees a monster trying to sneak up on him so instead of using his abilities to control the rest of the battle he uses them to fight his other opponent thus while he is distracted the tide begins to turn becouse the enemy controler is not distracted. what all of you need to realliseis that this is not making spells last forever but last so long as the wizard is able to pay there upkeep so it ceases to be okay i have to calculate just how i think that the dm is going to move these creatures to alright i will insure that these points are guarded and if i have to i will droop my spells to take care of a specific threat. and also they are making it so that the enemy controler will be opposing your controller so the will not only be using long duration spells but be countering your spells. so it really turned duration caculation into another form of combat. oh and i compleatly agree with Michael

okay let me try this again. the wizard has become the soc. for a few reasons.

1) the wizard does not prepare spells ahead of time and now no longer has to conserve his resources because his spells are once per encounter.

2) how long is a noncombat encounter? lets say negotions or someting along those lines with no definite sections?

3) the wizard is a master of an complex system of magic, that they spend all of their life learning, the more you simplify the system the more you cheapen the out of game value of playing a wizard. Its not that your less intellegent its just that with its rules simplified, the effort to be a “wizard” disapears.

4) Not to dis the buff durations determined by concentration that is workable, its just using that concept one invisibility spell can last for days at a time, as long as the wiz dosn’t sleep. it reduces buff combos and increases the abuse of existing buffs.

thats all for now

Am I just a lucky one?

We use durations, they are absolutely key to encounters and playing classes and the intricacies of battles, plus roleplaying e.g. sneaking into areas.

If you lose track, mature players simply agree how many rounds left, or if it has expired by now. The fear of making bad judgements about when to cast so as not to pre-empt and lose valuable powers is what keeps PC’s from being tooled up all the time.

3.5 seems cool to me, though I have decided to add some extra house rules as a result.

Many we have been playing for years even before 2nd edition etc. I never had death dealing effects, always had draining from undead as an xp loss not levels, and many others.

There don’t seem to be any critical developments here worth changing for. More monty haul for me…

I always had put a player in charge of ability duration, and charges. That way spells turned off when they were supposed to and people actually ran out of stuff.

Outside of combat occasionally you need to make a judgment if something took 1 minute, or 3 minutes but I feel encounter duration is too vague. That sort of thing is fine for a storytelling rpg like Vampire, but a hacknslash needs some firmer rules.

I have come back to DnD after a break. The only thing that slightly annoyed me about the wizard was the spells per day. It just seemed a touch annoying, I’ve cast my 2 1st levels, I’ll go and hide.
I had heard that they were going to a points system, so you get X points a spell would take up Y when you run out of points then you have to rest to regain. That seemed a fair solution. And okay more sorcery. But to be fair the sorcerer was somewhat crippled in 3.5 so it has brought the two together.
However, spells per encounter does upset the balance and play of being a wizard.
Like many I feel the loss of the round specific duration is stupid beyond belief for the exact reasons stated before.
As a group we play together, DM included. We each track when things stop happening, we each play to the rules. If we forget something, we cannot go back, neither can the DM. If someone forgets about something, they are reminded, even the DM is occasionally prompted, even to the detriment of our characters. DM always has final say.
As to long duration spells, DM determines the duration between encounters, and again it’s a group thing.
Roleplaying is a game where no-one wins or loses, it’s a pastime where success is measured in the amount of fun you had, not the amount of levels you gain or by the number of monsters that are killed.
Although we use E-tools, a computer is never used during gameplay, we’ve never needed it, if comes to having to have one then we will use another system. The reason we play together is often more the social interaction than the game itself.
Wizards should be difficult to play well, as they are complex classes. If you want something simple be a fighter.

first of i agree with you

secoundly it seems to me that all of the classes have become “legend of nine swords” ish (expansion book), and that book was completly broken in 3.5.

wizards of the coast have simplified the game to much in my opinion, yes the wizard was weak at low levels, but that was if you only used evocation. A first level sleep spell can incapacitate quite a few orcs. Combine that with a spell focus enchantment, then you become a big player in combat for like 2 rounds. I’m in a new campaign and i have a 4th level wizard gnome, i did not prepare evocation spells untill forth level(dm started throwing stuff at us with relativly high will saves, stupid elves with their “immunity to sleep” angst), it was all illusions and enchantments, that is the complexity that 4.0 lacks. where you have to peer past the direct damage spells and see the truely potent ones.

what i’m trying to get at here is that if spells are per encounter, why not prepare evocation, it’ll recharge by the next time you need it, cast away without regard or overarching stratagy.

Thirdly how can fighters have once per encounter abilities, isn’t their strenght from swing a _______(insert weapon)untill its dead. So they have a fancy trick fighting move once per encounter, is their some mysterious force stopping them from going through the same physical motions necicary to carry out said attack? i don’t get it.

And i know that i’m repeating myself, but i believe the fact that every character can spontaniously heal themselves is rediculous.

What Wizards has done is made the rules more fluid so that the players can focus more on having fun and tactical play and the DM can focus more on having fun and doing what has to be done behind the DM screen.
Is it only experienced players that get to have fun? That’s blatantly against the spirit of D&D!
And it is exceedingly easy for DMs and their players to make house rules to offset those rules that you do not like.
And perhaps, all of you naysayers of 4th edition, it would be easier to empathise with your position if you could actually spell correctly.

They ruined my game! They ruined my game! Why is it that every time that some one announces a changing of a few rules or notes some suggestive changes everyone thinks that it is the end of the world. If you want to know what I think then read on, but if you are only going to throw a fit then please stop and go somewhere else.

Honestly, I miss second edition it played well. Rules were long established and are still fully capable of being used to create a fully engaging game. The only real down of that system is that a fighter after 10th level kind of lost out in combat to mages and wizards who could out do him for kills. Thankfully that was limited by the characters intelligence as he it only allows him to learn and cast spells up to a certain level, but it also limited how many he could learn at a level making spell acquisition a time of great choosing. So don’t go on about how there is reason to play the wizard/mage anymore. Whatever.

Still I was excited when I saw third edition being made. I saw large amounts of possibility in how you could use feats and skills to play my character more effectively. Fighters and rogues got a boost, and wizards were offset by sorcerers. Not by much though, because while fighters are given more feats wizards could obtain more power through feats than before. 3.5 cleared somethings up and complicated a few more but it didn’t really change anything. After a certain level, unless fighters followed certain paths they all got left in the dust and either had to start looking for armies, huge amounts of magic items, re/dual/multi class, or think of stepping down out of the ranks.

Honestly, I have hardly ever used character buffs. I have played mages/wizards and they are not my flavor. Not so much for the math, the lack of spell ability, the tactically planning, or any such but because I don’t see any real challenge in being able to start challenging provinces single handedly at later levels. As a character I prefer that they be capable of going off on my own. Rogues and fighters make up the greater part of the truly memorable characters in stories and games. I know that people are going to start screaming on that one because of names like Merlin, Harry Potter, and thousands of others. But seriously who has a bigger following and cult status, rouge and warriors the likes of Kull, Conan, and Robin Hood or wizards, mages, and sorcerers like Merlin, Raistlin, and Gandolph?

I prefer having to play my as a character. Figuring out what they would do with their limitations. Using what they know and are capable of doing to survive an experience. No one cares about one or two instances of utter min/maxing, but they always remember how you managed to subdue two golems without a bit of magic and not take a single hit for it. I don’t mean to say that no one else could do it, I just mean to say that I got lucky with my rolls and a half decent last second plan. People who play for a glorious character always forget that not everyone is remembered in the greatest of sagas is the most powerful ever. Usually, they just happen to get lucky and put together a pretty decent plan that happens to work right.

In the end if you have fun and maybe just a little bit of adventure isn’t that what you are looking for? A chance to get together with some friends and have fun. If that means cutting some of the math out that is fine. It can all be added back in later on if you do want to start challenging armies and provinces for control. I am even for giving the wizards more of a chance to fight for a bit longer than once or twice a day. As for everyone being able to do some sort of healing, I think that it will help in the long run the people that like to play in really small groups or alone. I have a sneaking suspicion that the reason for it is just that, if not to help keep the cleric from having to plan out how much of his casting ability is going to have to be spent on healing everyone.

Have I played them all? All but this new one. Will I play the new edition? Probably. Do I think that there are going to be a lot of in house rule changes? When aren’t there in house rule changes? People complained in the past about the jump to 3rd and 3.5, but now everyone is complaining that this is getting to simplified. If this is too simplified, then maybe you should try some of the other systems of games out there. There are quite a few and a good number of them are quite good. So basically what I am saying is knock off the bashing until you actually play it. I swear, it almost sounds as bad in here as it does in some of the forums about a certain operating system.

I strongly want to become a socerer