D&D 5E Are Wizards really all that?

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Farmers cottages, no. Castles, yes.

Or not, and let Wizards be all that. It’s a simple equation.
This requires you to go beyond the rules and create additional content to "balance" spellcasters, however. If these things were the default, then they would be presented in the game.

Before I continue on this point, I'm ok with countermeasures as long as they make sense in the game world (my immersion, man!). If the game world has magic well known enough by the populace that specific counters to specific spells are a thing I can encounter, that's fine.

But saying "well, of course castles have protections against Leomund's Miniature Fortress" is akin to saying "well, of course Wizard towers have powerful magnetic traps to prevent stabby Fighters".
 

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James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I think just knowledge on spells isn't hard to justify, Lizard McWizard wrote the best selling book "Fantastic Spells and How to Counter Them" 100 years ago, and it became mandatory reading for all children in the nation's schools.

I do think the average person should know more about magic than most settings go with, if someone can control your mind or kill you with a word, you'd want to know how that works out exactly.
Ironically this happened canonically in the Forgotten Realms when Volo wrote his guide to All Things Magic, which had him on the run from angry Wizards for years. Most copies were hunted down and destroyed as a result, to prevent this knowledge from becoming common.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
I do think the average person should know more about magic than most settings go with, if someone can control your mind or kill you with a word, you'd want to know how that works out exactly.

If our analogue is non-tech people understanding tech, then yes. With caveats.

But it’s interesting to think about official rules for countering magic in ways that are poorly understood and subject to RNG. For example, maybe there is a bunch of folklore about how to protect yourself against “wizards” and it actually has a (small-ish) chance of interfering with PC magic, but each player rolls independently.
 


Zubatcarteira

Now you're infected by the Musical Doodle
Ironically this happened canonically in the Forgotten Realms when Volo wrote his guide to All Things Magic, which had him on the run from angry Wizards for years. Most copies were hunted down and destroyed as a result, to prevent this knowledge from becoming common.
I truly can't fathom how you could keep magic knowledge secret in FR, they have more archmages than commoners there.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
I truly can't fathom how you could keep magic knowledge secret in FR, they have more archmages than commoners there.
Simple, really. Elminster basically described the situation as a magical cold war in Spellfire. All the powerful wizards know that if one of them gets too far out of line, the situation would rapidly escalate out of proportion, with everyone jumping in (turning it into a World War I scenario). Which is why he doesn't go straight up against Manshoon, for example, because they know powerful magics and have allies and resources that, once brought into play, could reshape the world in a way that benefits no one.

(As an aside, this was always my explanation for the Spellplague).

So there are two Realms, you see. The visible world of adventurers and dungeons and dragons, and the secret game the powerful magic users play, with subtle moves and countermoves as well as certain "gentleman's agreements".

A veil of secrecy serves the spellcasters best.

And it's worth noting that powerful spellcasters in the Realms do have access to vast spy networks- The Harpers being the best known example.
 

James Gasik

Legend
Supporter
Yes…and that is incredibly subjective.
I concur, it is subjective. But unless your campaign is wall-to-wall Wizards like, say, the Forgotten Realms, specific details about how spells work are not going to be known.

Also, even if countermeasures to a given spell did become common, nothing really stops Wizards from researching new versions of those spells to overcome said countermeasures, turning this into a magical arms race.
 

Zubatcarteira

Now you're infected by the Musical Doodle
Simple, really. Elminster basically described the situation as a magical cold war in Spellfire. All the powerful wizards know that if one of them gets too far out of line, the situation would rapidly escalate out of proportion, with everyone jumping in (turning it into a World War I scenario). Which is why he doesn't go straight up against Manshoon, for example, because they know powerful magics and have allies and resources that, once brought into play, could reshape the world in a way that benefits no one.

(As an aside, this was always my explanation for the Spellplague).

So there are two Realms, you see. The visible world of adventurers and dungeons and dragons, and the secret game the powerful magic users play, with subtle moves and countermoves as well as certain "gentleman's agreements".

A veil of secrecy serves the spellcasters best.

And it's worth noting that powerful spellcasters in the Realms do have access to vast spy networks- The Harpers being the best known example.
So it's the opposite of what people have been talking about, instead of not having enough Wizards for magic knowledge to be common, Wizards just rule the world from the shadows and don't let people know how they do things.
 

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
Simple, really. Elminster basically described the situation as a magical cold war in Spellfire. All the powerful wizards know that if one of them gets too far out of line, the situation would rapidly escalate out of proportion, with everyone jumping in (turning it into a World War I scenario). Which is why he doesn't go straight up against Manshoon, for example, because they know powerful magics and have allies and resources that, once brought into play, could reshape the world in a way that benefits no one.

(As an aside, this was always my explanation for the Spellplague).

So there are two Realms, you see. The visible world of adventurers and dungeons and dragons, and the secret game the powerful magic users play, with subtle moves and countermoves as well as certain "gentleman's agreements".

A veil of secrecy serves the spellcasters best.

And it's worth noting that powerful spellcasters in the Realms do have access to vast spy networks- The Harpers being the best known example.

That all is perfectly logical.

And…if you think wizards are too powerful, why, among all the possible fictions you could adopt, would you pick one that makes wizards more powerful?
 



A combat between a PC melee fighter and an invisible opponent, or an archer who is hard to reach, still has the player of the fighter engaging the combat rules - taking turns, declaring actions, etc. The exception would be a melee fighter against a flying archer or similar sort of foe - which I think would often be seen as adversarial!

When the GM has a NPC or trap or whatever cancel the wizard's spell, on the other hand, the wizard player doesn't get to keep playing the game. Their move has been negated.
this reminds me of my friends that play Magic... (I have not since the 90s) who say there is a sister game where you sit there with cards and watch OTHER people play magic... it is big with red/blue decks that negate your stuff then blow up your mana sources (I guess there are things other then land now?) but they don't have enought monsters to kill you out right so 2 3 sometimes as much as 5 turns go by where you can't do anything and they are hitting you with 1/1 monsters... it is pretty annoying (as I would imagine)
 


DND_Reborn

The High Aldwin
You never trust the 'Defense against the Dark Arts' teacher.
Well, almost never...

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You could probably trust one, and maybe a couple others are doubtful. ;)
 
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Undrave

Hero
And the champion fighter is not as simple as a combat-based class can get. It isn't very complex, but it can certainly get simpler.
What? Is extra attacks too hard to grasp?

I'm sorry but if you think the Champion is too complex, you're just playing the wrong game.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Sorry, I didn't get that from your post. It seemed more like you didn't like them knowing so many spells (which is what creates the versatility).

But, to answer this question, we've revamped the spell lists so wizards have 200 spells instead of nearly 300 (over 300 now probably).

However, this decreases the sameyness issue (only 1/3 spells overlap between classes instead of 2/3), but nothing addresses wizards all picking the "best" spells except (IME):

1. Checks to learn spells (which we have...)
2. Gaining spells at random (which I don't think many people would like)

For our checks to learn spells (not just wizards, all casters!) if you fail you cannot try again until your spellcasting modifier increases (either via ability modifier or proficiency bonus). The DC is 10 + the spells level made using your spellcasting modifier.
Random is too punitive a think. There are a handful of "the best" spells that 2 picks a level lets you get. Random, though, makes it very likely that you will basically be a bumpkin in a fight and not much use outside of one. The group I run for just found some spellbooks that had been collected by someone else, so I hadn't figured out what was in them. We rolled randomly for the spells inside and when were were done(while rolling really) we all had a good laugh as we tried to figure out what circumstances or intent would cause a wizard to pick these mixes of spells. Then one player was like, "Well no wonder they all died to this guy."

Checking to learn spells might work, but having played 1e/2e, you were going to succeed at some really good spell, it was just a matter of which one. I also think picking 1 spell would keep all of the best spells from being picked, while still allowing some of the good ones to be selected.

One of the reasons the wizard is so great at versatility is that he is picking the great versatility spells and the great combat spells, something he can't do with 1 pick a level. Having to rely on scrolls, books, NPC wizards, etc. that I control means that a lot of the gained spells will be more limited in terms of versatility, because they will most likely not be top tier spells. It could happen, but random determination for most of those avenues to spells means that the wizard will still be versatile(that's his role), but not incredibly so.
 


Mort

Legend
Supporter
I had a DM that was thinking about doing 1 you pick 1 the DM picks... but that game never got off the ground
As a DM, I would be hesitant to do that. I don't want to accidentally screw the player (or be perceived as screwing the player) by picking something that they don't like or that turns out to be a useless pick. And while I like to plan stuff wide but not deep, I do have SOME idea of things to come and that could overly influence any picks of mine (not a HUGE concern, but it's there).
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
As a DM, I would be hesitant to do that. I don't want to accidentally screw the player (or be perceived as screwing the player) by picking something that they don't like or that turns out to be a useless pick. And while I like to plan stuff wide but not deep, I do have SOME idea of things to come and that could overly influence any picks of mine (not a HUGE concern, but it's there).
That was my thought as well. It would be stressful to worry about whether I'm giving something too good, because I don't want to be perceived as screwing the player, giving something proper, or giving something too weak.
 


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