D&D General Bizuids and Clercerocks

RainOnTheSun

Explorer
For a long time, I tried to not have PCs be able to multiclass (MC) with adding wizard and bard classes. The idea of a fighter picking up a spellbook and walking around with it for a dungeon or two and suddenly be able to cast magic went against the idea of wizards and bards needing to spend years in apprentice to others to learn something. Nevermind that the first level wizard can return to his old master 6 months later and be the most powerful wizard in the land just because he killed a bunch of monsters.

I did not mind taking sorcerer or warlock to MC with since it is a reward or awakening from within. Same with cleric and having a deep revelation or interaction with an avatar or angel. It seems more a game reason to establish verisimilitude. Anyways, it never really took hold and I dropped it around 4e. I think my game turned more beer and pretzels over making a living, breathing world.
I find it easiest to retcon more work going into it on the character's part. The player may have just decided last week to take a wizard level, but the PC has been tinkering, practicing, experimenting, etc. for a long time. This is just the first time they've gotten anything practically useful out of their work.
 

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Atomoctba

Adventurer
Why a warlock would sell his soul when he could learn it as a wizard? Because is faster and easier. I can spend years of my life to study Calculus, Physics, and other topics to be an engineer, and even that knowledge would be crude without another years practicing and learn how to adjust on the fly in a real situation where my technical skills are needed...

... OR I can sell my soul to the Demogorgon of Engineering and, voilà, in a few seconds I have all the knowledge and practice I need.

I am not saying the second approach is better or without risks or faults. But I can see why it is compelling for many people. The shortest road to the same end. I also can see why wizards tend to do not like warlocks very much, considering them as fake upstarts. :)
 

If I'm asked to break the game down to four classes, these are two of them: the Spellcrafter, who learned to use magic, and the Gifted, who was given the ability to use magic. The rest is just differences in style. (ie a cleric is just a Spellcrafter who learned at a seminary.)

This works best if you assume magic is magic, and everyone's doing fundamentally the same thing with differences in the details (ie a wizard and a cleric casting detect magic are casting the same spell, using the same components, with only variance in subtle details and overall skill.)

For my own hypothetical heartbreaker, I'd make the different traditions wildly different, and overlapping spells are just re-using mechanics for convenience's sake rather than doing the same thing per se.
 

aco175

Legend
I find it easiest to retcon more work going into it on the character's part. The player may have just decided last week to take a wizard level, but the PC has been tinkering, practicing, experimenting, etc. for a long time. This is just the first time they've gotten anything practically useful out of their work.
What happened in my game when this was thought of a way to handle things was that every PC spent his youth dabbling in every profession that leads to a class. So, not only did their parents die in a horrible orc attack on the village, they traveled around studying how to fight and cast spells of varied ways in between gaining their background skill until they emerged at 1st level.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
I think it's telling that this warlock you describe is an NPC instead of a PC. "Guy who can't hack it at wizard school without a special cheat" isn't the fantasy I picture most players wanting to create with the warlock class. The characters in fiction who make pacts with otherworldly beings are frequently the closest thing their world has to a wizard before resorting to the pact - Faust's problem isn't that he isn't a good enough scholar, his problem is that scholarship itself isn't good enough. That doesn't fit together well with a class that says you can do just about anything if you read the right book.

I think I answered this with the - not that clear - sentence "But others may not have such choices.".

I meant other individuals may not have the choice of a "safe-ish" patron like a friendly genie or archfae. I also think you misunderstood this example as being the way warlocks are in my perspective. Rather, I was using the "failed wizard" as an example of someone who wants/needs power (in this case because there were great expectations on him to master wizardry). There are many, many reasons why someone might want/need arcane power, and in other cases the patron is acquired almost by accident.

I had a PC who was an EK-hexblade multiclass (it worked decent) and he "aquired" his powers after a mad wizard cut off his leg and replaced it with another. The character believes the leg to be demonic in origin, but it actually belonged to a shardakei hexblade... the pact "stuck" with the leg.

There are many patrons, and many roads that could take a PC to that patron.
 

I stomp all over everything. I've had Druids that describe their powers just like Sorcerers, always sticking with the same spells even though the mechanics say they can change them daily, just to reinforce the Sorcerer vibe. Likewise, I've had Warlocks extensively study and learn to make pacts with arcane forces through diagram and theorem, scrawling math in the air with every casting. Or a Bard that just yelled insults at people loudly, never singing, because they wanted to portray a 4E Warlord. Etc.

You can completely reskin mechanics, or even ignore them entirely for themes you really want to portray.
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
If I'm asked to break the game down to four classes, these are two of them: the Spellcrafter, who learned to use magic, and the Gifted, who was given the ability to use magic. The rest is just differences in style. (ie a cleric is just a Spellcrafter who learned at a seminary.)

This works best if you assume magic is magic, and everyone's doing fundamentally the same thing with differences in the details (ie a wizard and a cleric casting detect magic are casting the same spell, using the same components, with only variance in subtle details and overall skill.)

For my own hypothetical heartbreaker, I'd make the different traditions wildly different, and overlapping spells are just re-using mechanics for convenience's sake rather than doing the same thing per se.
In Troika!, there are no "classes", only backgrounds. They all use the same rules for spells, but the background provides the "story" behind their skills and spells. I'll post two to illustrate.

53 Sorcerer of the College of Friends
As an integral part of your tutelage
in the sub-dimensional academy of
the Cordial Wizard God you spent
your childhood learning about the
fate of pixies, the colour of magic,
ritual grammar, and endless other
theoretical topics. Now you’re out
in the world, discovering that your
education hardly accounted for any of
the things that you’ve seen.
Possessions
• Pointed Wizard Hat you received at
graduation.
• Pocket Full of Wizard Biscuits (2d6,
each counts as a Provision).
• Wand used to help focus new
apprentices, now kept for
sentimental reasons.
Advanced Skills
4 Secret Signs – Witching Words
2 Run
1 Climb
1 Sleight of Hand
1 Swim
1 Sneak
1 Second Sight
1 Spell – Jolt
1 Spell – Amity
1 Spell – Mirror Selves
1 Spell – Protection from Rain
1 Spell – Helping Hands
1 Spell – Purple Lens
1 Spell – Random

12 Befouler of Ponds
You’re a wise man, a high priest, a
pond-pisser, a typical but committed
adherent of P!P!Ssshrp. The bloated
Toad God has no church other than
the periphery of ponds where the
foulness catches in the reeds and no
congregation other than the gnats
and dragonflies. You minister to them
all the same.
Possessions
• Sackcloth Robes, caked in stinking
mud and undergrowth. +1 to Sneak
rolls in marshy terrain while
wearing them, -1 everywhere else
‘cos it stinks!
• A Large, Worn Wooden Ladle
(Damage as Mace).
Advanced Skills
3 Spell –Drown
3 Swim
2 Spell – Tongue Twister
2 Spell –Undo
1 Spell – Web
1 Sneak
1 Second Sight
Special
You never contract disease as a result
of drinking stagnant liquids
 

Ancalagon

Dusty Dragon
In Yoon-Suin, in the yellow city, there are hundreds of gods.


In the original setting, all slugmen are mages or holymen (priest of various sorts). But it never explained why.


tl,dr: Slugmen have found a way to extend their lifespan, but only those able to use magic are granted it. This explains in part the very large array of gods/patrons - a slugman desperate enough may beseech a minor deity or patron, and thus end up priest of some strange, perhaps embarrassing power.

But it doesn't matter if you follow the Toad God... you have magic now, you get the Yellow Tea and will live much longer. And well, your magic works! (the befouler of pond is a perfectly valid PC)
 

TwoSix

"Diegetics", by L. Ron Gygax
In Troika!, there are no "classes", only backgrounds. They all use the same rules for spells, but the background provides the "story" behind their skills and spells. I'll post two to illustrate.

53 Sorcerer of the College of Friends
As an integral part of your tutelage
in the sub-dimensional academy of
the Cordial Wizard God you spent
your childhood learning about the
fate of pixies, the colour of magic,
ritual grammar, and endless other
theoretical topics. Now you’re out
in the world, discovering that your
education hardly accounted for any of
the things that you’ve seen.
Possessions
• Pointed Wizard Hat you received at
graduation.
• Pocket Full of Wizard Biscuits (2d6,
each counts as a Provision).
• Wand used to help focus new
apprentices, now kept for
sentimental reasons.
Advanced Skills
4 Secret Signs – Witching Words
2 Run
1 Climb
1 Sleight of Hand
1 Swim
1 Sneak
1 Second Sight
1 Spell – Jolt
1 Spell – Amity
1 Spell – Mirror Selves
1 Spell – Protection from Rain
1 Spell – Helping Hands
1 Spell – Purple Lens
1 Spell – Random

12 Befouler of Ponds
You’re a wise man, a high priest, a
pond-pisser, a typical but committed
adherent of P!P!Ssshrp. The bloated
Toad God has no church other than
the periphery of ponds where the
foulness catches in the reeds and no
congregation other than the gnats
and dragonflies. You minister to them
all the same.
Possessions
• Sackcloth Robes, caked in stinking
mud and undergrowth. +1 to Sneak
rolls in marshy terrain while
wearing them, -1 everywhere else
‘cos it stinks!
• A Large, Worn Wooden Ladle
(Damage as Mace).
Advanced Skills
3 Spell –Drown
3 Swim
2 Spell – Tongue Twister
2 Spell –Undo
1 Spell – Web
1 Sneak
1 Second Sight
Special
You never contract disease as a result
of drinking stagnant liquids
I don't love the Troika! system, but holy hell, the imagination and flavor it has is amazing.
 

Blue Orange

Gone to Texas
It's a fascinating question, and I'm not sure there's a right answer. D&D puts letting everyone fulfill their favorite archetype over being philosophically consistent, which is IMHO the right call for a game or any form of entertainment. There's hard sf, which focuses on technical plausibility, but that's a niche and a declining one, and less relevant to fantasy where you can make up anything you want.

IMHO it seems pretty believable warlocks might exist even in the presence of wizards and sorcerers; after all, sorcerers are inborn, so if you're not born with it you're SOL, and wizardry is likely expensive to train in and intellectually difficult; it's not often said, but not everyone can learn to be a chemical engineer if they put their mind to it, just like not everyone can learn to write good poetry. (Perhaps, as in most rich nations outside the US, states wishing to be powerful invest in state-sponsored magical training to have enough wizards.) I would probably treat the bard in the same way as the wizard, except relying on their charisma to compose art so powerful it has magical effects. And that makes sense. Just as with two ambitious friends, the smarter one might do tech while the charming one might go into business, so people in the fantasy world have some sense of their abilities and go "well, I'm not smart or charming enough to do wizardry or bardry, let me see which of the gods will have me."

Why go warlock when you can go cleric? Well, the gods probably have ideologies and behavior requirements ("so as a priest of the God of War, you must never back down from a fight..."), whereas the warlock patron just wants you to do favors for them now and then. (Which may be dangerous or cost your soul, of course...)

I'm genuinely not sure where druids fit in. I've seen them put as worshippers of nature (thus the Wisdom link), but I could see a pretty good argument for an Intelligence druid who learns the ways of the wild.
 

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