Monday, May 16, 2011

Spell Lists, by level or Alphabetical?

I was reading over the newest version of Swords &Wizardry over my brief lunch break today.
It is neat and has some cool ideas but one thing struck me.

Like Basic Fantasy and some others and most notably D&D 3rd Ed and Pathfinder, S&S IV lists all the spells in alphabetical order and not by class and level.  While I get this is very good way to organize the spells, it doesn't quite feel old school to me.

For me I guess it is one of tone.  If this were a 3.x era book then I would want the spells in that format.  If it were an OSR book, then do it like they did it when Gary and Dave were still rollin' 'em.

What are your preferences?
Do you like books were the spells are divided up by cast then level or do you like the alphabetical approach?


Owen Stephens said...

I *do* understand what you mean by not seeing this as old-school. But I find it *such* a better way to organize the information, I'd give it a pass anyway.

Gaming Ronin said...

Alphabetical is best when more than one class use the same spells. No hunting more than list. And no reprinting the same spell in more than one section.

Aaron E. Steele said...

By level, but i'm sure to be in the minority, considering i'd prefer my players not have access to a spell list to begin with.

The Jovial Priest said...

Level. I like browsing.
If necessary an index at the back.

Gothridge Manor said...

To hell with alphabetical or it by damage. Highest damage goes first and if the spell doesn't do damage it doesn't deserve to be on the list.

I know not very helpful, but fun to write.

Dennis Laffey said...

I already blogged about it a little while back. By class/level. Makes it easier as a player to evaluate your options.

With one big alphabetical list, it takes too much page flipping.

I haven't downloaded the new S&W yet, but if it's got the same small OD&D spell lists, it's not hard to remember which spell is which level for which class.

Martin R. Thomas said...

I'm with Lord Gwydion: By class/level. Makes it easier as a player to evaluate your options.

However... one thing does bug me. It's when you find a spell that is the same for more than one class, and it says "see the equivalent spell under 'Cleric'." I hate that. The OSRIC rulebook does this, and I find it really annoying.

I know the only other choice is to make the book longer by repeating things, which is not necessarily a good solution.

I'm thinking... a table of spells by Class/Level, and then list them alphabetically.

Dyson Logos said...


Because when a monster or magic item can cast or trigger a spell, the by level listings suddenly become a liability instead of an asset.

Spell lists tell you what spells you get at each level. The actual spell descriptions shouldn't be in such an arcane format that becomes hellish to surf through in hardcopy when you need to quick reference spells in play.

Spiralbound said...

I'm in the alphabetical camp, if for no other reason than to make it easier to find the spell I'm looking for. HOWEVER... There are a few other spell list sins that bug me even more than the one you mention. When there are greater or mass or whatever alternate or more advanced versions of a spell and they are listed alphabetical by the adjective word instead of the spell name I find it quite annoying. "Dominate" and "Mass Dominate" shouldn't be half an alphabet apart, write the advanced version as "Dominate, Mass" so that it shows up next in the list.

Also, if you are going to list spell entries alphabetically, then you MUST also include spell lists that sort the spell names by class, level, and even school/domain for those who what to specialize. You can't have enough types of spell lists, you'll always find a need for them.