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In D&D 3.x, spontaneous full casters (like the Sorcerer or Oracle) gain their higher level spells a level later than the equivalent prepared caster classes (like Wizard and Cleric). For example, a Sorcerer gets 2nd level spells at Sorcerer level 4, where a Wizard gets 2nd level spells at Wizard level 3.

Why is this? Broadly, I know that the answer is 'game balance', but is there a more specific answer? Are there interviews with D&D or Pathfinder devs where they explain this discrepancy? I've heard the idea tossed around that it was because Monte Cook hates Sorcerers, but I haven't seen any sources to back this up.

In answering, please make sure that you have sources to back up your claims. The simple answer might be "game balance", but I'm looking for the answer from the horse's mouth, preferably with as much detail about the decision as possible.

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A reminder that answers here should back up their statements with citations. Unsubstantiated speculation, opinions, or guesswork about why this might possibly be the case does not make for a useful and reliable answer. –  doppelgreener Jun 17 at 22:48
As is, this question may be unanswerable. Game designers often never explain things like this in public. It's a perfectly legitimate question, though. –  Tridus Jun 17 at 22:54
@Tridus There was a lot of public discussion of 3e from the developers at the time. Lots of it has been lost (because WotC redesigns their site and incompetently destroys swathes of content when they do, every couple of years), but it's likely to have been discussed. And it's OK for a question to go without answers for an indefinite amount of time, because we serve the long tail here. –  SevenSidedDie Jun 17 at 23:01
Also, please don't answer in comments. –  Brian Ballsun-Stanton Jun 18 at 0:50
@SevenSidedDie - That's what The Wayback Machine is for. Doesn't mean it actually captured it, but it's a starting place. –  Bobson Jun 25 at 18:08

2 Answers 2

It is often said that Skip Williams hated Sorcerers and that was the reason. The best I can come up with, however, is this posting on the SA forums:


Whether you believe the poster or not is a different question. If you hunt around you can find similar claims that Williams was more explicit about this on some WotC forum thread which has been deleted. If you could find out more about that then perhaps archive.org could dig it out.

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-1: While this is the closest that an answer to this question has come to a good source, Something Awful isn't a isn't a really reliable source for quotes. I especially feel that the post you link is likely misrepresenting Skip Williams' words, and has a tone that conveys a lot of disrespect towards him, making it more likely that the poster is overemphasizing the negativity in the statement. –  DuckTapeAl Aug 18 at 22:07
I've spent a few hours on the Wayback Machine trying to find a good answer to this question, to no avail. If you manage to find a good source for it there, please post it, and I'll change my vote. –  DuckTapeAl Aug 18 at 22:08
Jonathan Tweet was the lead designer and the author of the Player’s Handbook. While Monte Cook and Skip Williams did contribute to the overall design, Williams’s primary area of responsibility was the Monster Manual. –  Bradd Szonye Aug 25 at 4:36
@DuckTapeAl SA is really no worse than any other Internet forum, if you can detect sarcasm. If you look at that quoted thread, it's full of actual regular-human-beings discussion. That doesn't mean the quote's not kinda nebulous hearsay, but, really, I have no reason to suspect it's BS the poster just made up. –  Alex P Aug 27 at 6:39
@AlexP I agree that Something Awful is not any worse than any other internet forum. However, quality of forum aside, I wouldn't trust any quote that I read on a forum without an external citation. I guess I should have been more broad, and said that internet forums in general are not reliable sources for quotes. I don't have any particular reason to believe that the post was totally made up, but I would not be even a little surprised if the poster was at least misrepresenting Skip Williams' words, or taking a meaning that wasn't in the actual quote. –  DuckTapeAl Aug 27 at 15:00

So I do not have additional sources from the game designers, however, I would like to point out a flaw in the "balance" theory.

It's not clear that spontaneous casters are actually balanced with the prepared ones.

Here's a discussion on that for the 3.5 rules.

Even in Pathfinder, Sorcerers & Oracles are generally considered weaker than their Wizard & Cleric counterparts. Here's a link to one ranking of the classes, but you can easily find many more. Most of them don't even put Wizard and Sorcerer on the same tier.

From a historical perspective, AD&D, the pre-cursor to D&D 3.0 did not have Sorcerers or Oracles at all. In fact there we no Charisma casters in AD&D. So 3rd edition just created these classes and gave them a different progression.

If you look at some old pages, the Sorcerer spells/day progression is literally unchanged since 3rd edition came out. So this difference has existed since the printed inception of the Sorcerer.

A little more hunting gives you some spell progressions from the AD&D Wizards courtesy of this guy. The AD&D list was very similar, you'll notice that level 7 is exactly the same, but there's also no formal Cantrips is the first printing of AD&D. Wizards also max out at 5 on each level instead of 4. Though that 5 starts at level 13. The 3.0 version basically just smooths out the progression (notice 8=>9 change), but Pathfinder is still holding on to the same progression as 3.0.

I strongly suspect this is all just an artifact of history.

Given how little the Wizard numbers have changed since 1992, designers have clearly been using numbers from previous editions as the baseline. And who wants to change these numbers? They're so ingrained in the fabric of the game that I doubt anyone even so much as experimented with them after the original printing.

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Unfortunately, the question specifically asks for sources from the game dsigners. So in this case, speculation (even well thought out speculation) isn't on topic. -1 –  Tridus Jun 28 at 9:18
Frankly, I find the reasoning flawed in any event: just because the classes aren't balanced doesn't mean that they weren't intended to be balanced, with this as a balancing factor. –  KRyan Jun 28 at 15:59
Maybe they were intended to be balanced in 3.0, but that failed based on public opinion. Even with that failing, nothing was changed in 3.5 or PF. This really seems like sacred ground that no designer wants to touch. –  Gates VP Jun 29 at 14:08
@Tridus given the baseline and basically non-existent changes, this is a very narrow question. D&D3 was designed as TSR was bought out of bankruptcy between 1998 and 2000. There are three designers (Monte Cook, Johnathan Tweet, Skip Williams). None of them work for Wizards any more and two of them left before 3.5 ever hit the shelves. We're talking about one aspect of a decision made 15+ years ago by 3 guys in an era when game design was much less discussed. –  Gates VP Jul 6 at 5:03
My answer (which I had deleted), was about intentions, not realizations of those intentions... –  Aviose Jul 30 at 17:51

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