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3E/3.5 Looking for the "best" Wizard spells for 3.5 Ed. D&D (Samcifer)

Endarire

First Post
Originally posted by samcifer:

Okay, I want to do this as a separate thread. I want to build a Wizard for D&D 3.5 and am focusing on comat-oriented spells. Since damage spells are abyssmal in the 3rd Ed.s, I'm looking for spells that can win battles, or at least be the most effective. Just to cover the bases, two spells I'm set on having are Sleep and Dispel Magic (the best variations of each spell).

So, what I'm asking of experienced players as I'm only familiar with 4th Ed. is:

Which spells do you think are the best to go for? If possible, could you tell me which book(s) the spells you list are from? Also, listing them by level would be very helpful.

I've tried to compile a list myself, but my work and home life have left me almost zero research time, and my complete lack of experience with the 3rd Ed.s makes choosing spells very difficult as Wizards in the 3s play vastly differently from 4th Ed. Wizards.

Thanks in advance.



Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

samcifer wrote:Okay, I want to do this as a separate thread. I want to build a Wizard for D&D 3.5 and am focusing on comat-oriented spells. Since damage spells are abyssmal in the 3rd Ed.s, I'm looking for spells that can win battles, or at least be the most effective. Just to cover the bases, two spells I'm set on having are Sleep and Dispel Magic (the best variations of each spell).

So, what I'm asking of experienced players as I'm only familiar with 4th Ed. is:

Which spells do you think are the best to go for? If possible, could you tell me which book(s) the spells you list are from? Also, listing them by level would be very helpful.

I've tried to compile a list myself, but my work and home life have left me almost zero research time, and my complete lack of experience with the 3rd Ed.s makes choosing spells very difficult as Wizards in the 3s play vastly differently from 4th Ed. Wizards.

Thanks in advance.
It truly depends on what you wish to do, and what other spells you have (yes, I know that sounds circular - I did warn you that wizards are the most complicated class in the PHB by far, and one of the most complex classes ever printed). For instance, Polymorph is a gamebreaker, but mostly if you're familiar with oodles of other monsters and how the ability types interact (this got so bad that WotC actually apologized for it, banned the spells from the RPGA (the spiritual predecessor of Encounters), and started printing alternatives to polymorph.). Similarly, Celerity is gamebreakingly powerful, but on its own it won't hurt anything (since it gives you extra actions - it's up to you to use those actions wisely).

And if you're really clever with how to put spells together? Well, the current record for damage is so big that you have to go on for multiple posts containing nothing but zeros - in scientific notation. The initial post also has my favorite sentence ever, which clearly showcases how complex wizards can get in theory (and why DMs need to clamp down on Tier One classes): "The damage then scales according to the following nonlinear difference equations..."

But, yes, spells.

Here's the handbook I suggest you start with (yes, it does go on for nearly 70 posts; I did warn you about wizard complexity!). Here's another. Both not only explain what's good, but why. (They also take different perspectives, by and large, but on key points they agree). The former also goes on a lot about strategy, both in build design and battlefield tactics, so it's strongly recommended. It might sound a bit arrogant at times, but when you look at the "classic" Big Four party (in 4e parlance, the Defender/Leader/Striker/Controller breakdown), the wizard truly is that much more powerful than the rest (though the cleric can come close if he wakes up and starts smiting instead of healing).

I also gave you this list in the other thread; that can be considered a shortlist of good kill spells, but unlike the handbooks they don't explain nor rate them, nor will the list include good non-kill spells.



EDIT:

You know, I did recommend other classes earlier. The 4e wizard's playstyle (at least using the PHB only; I'm not too familiar with how they later developed) can adequately be aped in 3.5 by warlocks and warmages. Warmages are a bit deceptive at first. Warlocks can be a bit challenging to build but are easy to play.

Don't get hung up on the fact that those don't say "wizard" at the top. A key thing in 3.5 is, to quote Feynman, "the difference between knowing the name of something and knowing something". I told you in the other thread that I introduced one math-phobic friend to the game by giving her a classical sorceress... who was actually a warlock with different description. Similarly, there's a big difference in the knowledge base and skill set needed to build characters and the knowledge base and skill set needed to play the game. I strongly suggest starting with a simpler class (hence, warmage or warlock) and learning to play from there; once you understand that, move on to building (which often includes handbooks like those listed above - although really, only the wizard gets one that big.)


EDIT 2:

It occurs to me that neither of those handbooks has a decent list of abbreviations for the books they use. That, and other useful abbreviations and glossary terms, can be found here.


Originally posted by Krusk:

Anything that says "Save negates". Generally targeting Will.

For much more, go read the handbooks tempest linked you.
Specifically, by school
Transmutation http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=3h2kkbo7tlht51egjcpt0lo1a7&topic=394.msg8103#msg8103
Evocation http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=3h2kkbo7tlht51egjcpt0lo1a7&topic=394.msg8049#msg8049
Necromancy http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=3h2kkbo7tlht51egjcpt0lo1a7&topic=394.msg8076#msg8076
Abjuration http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=3h2kkbo7tlht51egjcpt0lo1a7&topic=394.msg8054#msg8054
Divination http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=3h2kkbo7tlht51egjcpt0lo1a7&topic=394.msg8065#msg8065
Conjuration http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=3h2kkbo7tlht51egjcpt0lo1a7&topic=394.msg8086#msg8086
Illusion http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=3h2kkbo7tlht51egjcpt0lo1a7&topic=394.msg8096#msg8096
Enchantment http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?PHPSESSID=3h2kkbo7tlht51egjcpt0lo1a7&topic=394.msg8101#msg8101

For reference, I believe the general consensus is that conjuration and illusion are the best schools and evocation is the worst.


Originally posted by Andarious-Rosethorn:

Transmutation>Illusion usually.


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

Krusk wrote:For reference, I believe the general consensus is that conjuration and illusion are the best schools and evocation is the worst.
In general I'd concur, although I'd lump divination in "best" and enchantment (with a few noteworthy exceptions, including Charm Person) in "worst". Transmutation and Necromancy fluctuate a bit with a few absolute killers and a few bombs. Abjuration is almost entirely considered "essential" because of Dispel Magic and its derivatives, plus Mind Blank.

The reasoning's simple:
Conjuration does anything, more or less (it has a huge assortment of effects within it, from fogs/walls to summons to teleports), and most of those are indispensible (especially teleports). Later in the game's life cycle, Conjuration got more and more things under its umbrella, including blasting spells - and since they use conjured matter instead of instant magic energy, they usually ignored spell resistance. Similarly, ones based on walls and fogs often don't allow saves for some of their functions. Stinking Cloud, for instance, will always block normal vision, even if the targets save against the stink. Thus, you've got a school with a huge range of possible effects and very few possible defenses.
Illusion may seem weak, but only if you're uncreative: a truly successful illusionist doesn't give his enemies enough evidence to attempt saving throws. Plus, the school does so much more than holograms - the entire Shadow subschool makes things that are almost real, Invisibility / Mirror Image / Displacement / etc. are fundamental wizard defenses, and Project Image allows you to cast spells when you're not even in the room. (The biggest drawback to Illusion is True Seeing, which negates basically the whole school. It's a spell from earlier editions that didn't really get much updating, and pretty much all such spells cause problems. Look for absolute language when identifying these spells - True Seeing, Freedom of Movement, Mind Blank, Knock, Protection from Evil, and so on).
Divination is one of the best tools anyone can ever have: with wizards, forewarned truly is forearmed. Wizards are occasionally likened to Batman - able to defeat any opponent 'if he's prepared', and divination allows you to be prepared. While the usual image of divination follows the style of the Scrying spell (and similar "ritual"-style spells), divination also includes several other spells that act as 'precognition' (with the patriarch of this style being Moment of Prescience or Alter Fortune, depending on what level you are and what you're willing to pay). Divination also has the unique supporting "spontaneous divination" class feature (Complete Champion - nutshell version: you know how a 3.5 cleric can spontaneously convert any spell he's got prepped into a Cure spell of equal or lesser level? This ability replaces a wizard's 5th level bonus feat and lets him convert spells he's got prepared into any divination spell he knows), which gets around the school's situational nature.


On the flipside:
Enchantment is almost entirely [Mind-Affecting] (meaning many creature types and just about every properly-equipped character can either easily resist it or flat-out ignore it), and very often Will Negates. Several of these spells are still amazing (Charm Person is a classic, but you have to observe who to use it on - it's not a combat spell most of the time, but if it's properly employed you can sometimes circumvent entire dungeons with it), but the drawbacks make the school hard to build around.
Evocation is packed full of energy damage spells. I've talked long and hard about why this is a bad thing, by and large. The main spells worth visiting this school for are frequently Force, though: (Tenser's) Floating Disk, Wall of Force, Forcecage, etc. There's also Contingency (which looks even more useful the more you know about other spells), Wind Wall (which shuts down archers the way True Seeing shuts down illusionists), and curiously, Sending (a no-nonsense communication channel that's surprisingly hard to block). I've used a handful of other evocation spells here and there - Great Thunderclap from the Spell Compendium, for instance - but by and large the rest of the school struggles to keep up. (This is one of the reasons people like illusion - the right kind of illusionist (specifically, shadowcraft mages) can mimic the entire school as they need to, and in some cases actually make them more powerful against people who recognize they're illusions. However, building and playing shadowcraft mages is phenomenally expertise-dependent and heavy on the brain: they are one of the least newbie-friendly builds around.)


Incidentally, remember what I mentioned earlier, about spells' power being based on other spells? Pretty much every wizard spell guide that bothers to mention Reciprocal Gyre (a spell that deals damage based on the number of currently active spell effects on the target) will say it sucks, which it does... on its own. And yet, when I linked to the absolute world-record damage routine above, the spell that actually deals the damage is Reciprocal Gyre (amplified through about five or six layers of exponential recursion set up by proper support effects). 3.5 really rewards system mastery - spotting synergies like this - and it's rare that picking up a single spell with no bells and whistles will produce maniacal laughter. It's how the network of spells, feats, and class features interplay that make the wizard so strong - and just like any interconnected system, it's also what makes the thing so damn complex.


Originally posted by samcifer:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
But, yes, spells.

Here's the handbook I suggest you start with (yes, it does go on for nearly 70 posts; I did warn you about wizard complexity!).
Yeah... It was around 140 pages once I printed it out. I'll start reading it during breaks at work (the only real time I seem to get to do it, these days).

If I were to ditch schools to increase my spells per day, I'll likely dump Necromancy and Illusion and leave it at that so I don't lose Transmutation or Abjuration. My main schools will be Conjuration and Transmutation, along with Enchantment for spells like Sleep, and a bit of Evocation for 'flashy' spells to use at lower levels (I just can't give up Flaming Sphere or Fireball - they're my mimes despite being weak spells.) I'll make staffs, Wands and scrolls (mostly staffs) to give me extra spells per day to compensate for the loss of Focused Specialist.


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

...You printed it out? That's... dedicated. It's a handbook, not a rulebook - you generally reference it during construction, instead of memorizing it while learning the game.


samcifer wrote:If I were to ditch schools to increase my spells per day, I'll likely dump Necromancy and Illusion and leave it at that so I don't lose Transmutation or Abjuration. My main schools will be Conjuration and Transmutation, along with Enchantment for spells like Sleep, and a bit of Evocation for 'flashy' spells to use at lower levels (I just can't give up Flaming Sphere or Fireball - they're my mimes despite being weak spells.)
Curiously, and just to play devil's advocate, you might want to exchange Enchantment and Illusion. Color Spray is better than Sleep in most cases except for its range at the lowest levels, Illusion's defenses are better than Enchantment's support, and Enchantment becomes super-stale against undead and most high-level opponents while Illusion remains limited pretty much only by your imagination - even against opponents that Enchanters will balk at (i.e. undead do not see through illusions if the illusion hits the right senses, and most illusion spells work don't have arbitrary limits on which creature types they can hit). At higher levels, illusions can be almost impossible to stop without True Seeing, and low-level illusion spells still remain useful at almost every level (Invisibility in particular is a staple that I'd rather not go without; Mirror Image makes you basically immune to warriors (especially if coupled with some transmutation defenses), and concealment-based illusions make Armor Class something you flat-out ignore).

Contrariwise, Enchantment has Charm Person (which is almost as creative to employ as the Image spells, although bards and warlocks make better use out of it), paves the way to easy telepathy between the entire party (which itself paves the way for Mindsight, probably the best sensory feat ever printed), rewards creativity in ways similar to illusion but occasionally better, and there's a handful of no-save enchantment spells that are positively kick-ass (typically anything with Power Word in its name - curiously, these all work off of enemy HP totals, so they're probably the only kill spells that actually synergize with blasting. A typical Save-or-Die kills an enemy with 300 hit points exactly as easily as one that your team has battered down to 100. A Power Word spell only works if you've dealt them enough damage first (typically to when they have 100 HP or less remaining), but on the flipside, if you have, they can't be saved against (SR still applies, but there's enough ways to bypass that!). All of the Power Words besides Stun and Kill are in Races of the Dragon, for some reason; Power Word: Pain is particularly good at its job and is a damage spell.) Just be advised that the overwhelming majority of this school is very easy to defend against.

(Full disclosure: the last wizard I played was an illusionist (of the shadowcraft mage variety) - and to be honest he's probably the last wizard I'll play, entirely because of the complexity. I far prefer psionics and the Tome of Battle.)

I like enchantment, honestly, even as I extol the virtues of illusion, but a beginning player probably doesn't need both Enchantment and Illusion. The choice depends on how social the setting is and on how creative / world-immersed you're willing to be.

That second quality, in example: Look at the spell Shatter (to pick a particularly good example that also happens to be Evocation). What do you see it being used on?
-People who are used to thinking of the game as if it were a game (not a bad thing, I stress!) will see it targeting mundane weapons (which aren't usually an issue past levels 4-6 or so, meaning Shatter isn't seen as useful beyond this range) and unusual crystal creatures, or perhaps used to break windows so you can aim arrows and rays correctly. The options that have clearly defined statistics in the spell stand out more.
-People who are used to thinking of the game as if it were a world will see Shatter targeting hinges or locks (Open Lock / Disable Device stand-in), pulleys or rope, buckles (i.e. on a saddle), caltrops/arrowheads (read: shrapnel), and essential but non-prominent gear (such as most holy symbols, divine foci, or spell component pouches). The third option, used against any solid object, becomes a paintbrush against the canvas of the narrative's world.
(Aside: Warlocks have access to an at-will Shatter effect at level 1, if they wish.)

People who prefer the first will find Enchantment to be a little friendlier than Illusion, as its spells have clearly defined effects (even the rather open-ended Charm Person does something concrete in that it adjusts NPC attitudes, as defined under Diplomacy). People who prefer the second will probably find the reverse (as the only limit on what you can create with a figment or what you can mask with a glamer is your imagination; there are clearly defined effects in Illusion (most of the defenses I mentioned above, for instance) but the unbounded effect of the school depends on the creativity of the user).

(You can test your view of the game as well by looking at your list of cantrips and trying to choose which is "the best". (Both groups would rank Mage Hand as good but not the best; they'd do it for very different reasons, so I'll skip it here.) If you're used to seeing it as a game, you'll probably zero in on Acid Splash or Detect Magic (the latter really *is* useful, don't get me wrong!). If you're used to seeing it as a world, you'll probably zero in on or Prestidigitation (which some of us jokingly refer to as "diet Wish"; the presence of Prestidigitation alone in a game world creates pretty powerful ripples in what you'd expect towns and cities to be like). This distinction is lampshaded in The Order of the Stick, where some nameless mook villains are ambushed by the heroes and respond to the attack... with Dancing Lights. Which turns out to have been the single deadliest spell they could have used in the circumstances, because they were organized and clever with it (see the next strip).)

I'll make staffs, Wands and scrolls (mostly staffs) to give me extra spells per day to compensate for the loss of Focused Specialist.
As you might have guessed, there's a handbook for that as well. (Read the comments; Dictum misses one critical piece of information, though if you're sticking to the core rules it's not that important.)

EDIT: Link fixed; I got my clipboard confused. It was Dictum Mortuum's handbook for wand crafters and wielders.


Originally posted by NineInchNall:

Tempest, your last handbook link is to Gleemax and thus nonfunctional. I don't even know which handbook you're linking to, so I can't suggest a replacement.


Originally posted by samcifer:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:...You printed it out? That's... dedicated. It's a handbook, not a rulebook - you generally reference it during construction, instead of memorizing it while learning the game.

As you might have guessed, there's a handbook for that as well. (Read the comments; Dictum misses one critical piece of information, though if you're sticking to the core rules it's not that important.)
The link to the Handbook on Staffs doesn't work, sadly. As for printing out the guide, I learn best by example and breaking down what works and what doesn't, so reading through the guide will be a real help for me on seeing why the author chose what he did. At least that's the theory.

As for Enchantment vs. Illusion, I'd ralther have real effects over holographic projections. I can't see the point of making a 'shadow' version of Flaming Sphere with the Illusion spell as it will only cause a light fright until they get 'run over' and realize that it's nothing but an image and they take no damage from it. If I'm going to play head games, it might as well be to put them to sleep or dominate them. Just giving them a mild scare seems rather useless unless you're trying to make them run away screaming. Invisibility is nice, but it's a standard spell I'm willing to lose to gain a more practical school of magic that actually affects the enemy beyond trying to manipulate them with false images. Illusion seems to me to be a waste of a school of magic for anyone other than tricksters and stage performers.


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

NineInchNall wrote:Tempest, your last handbook link is to Gleemax and thus nonfunctional. I don't even know which handbook you're linking to, so I can't suggest a replacement.

samcifer wrote:The link to the Handbook on Staffs doesn't work, sadly.
Fixed; it was Dictum Mortuum's guide for wand crafters and wielders. I just got lost in the clipboard-fu needed to juggle a lot of links in one post, and I think I originally used a URL intended for Web.Archive.org instead of here.
As for printing out the guide, I learn best by example and breaking down what works and what doesn't, so reading through the guide will be a real help for me on seeing why the author chose what he did. At least that's the theory.
They'll do that, aye.
As for Enchantment vs. Illusion, I'd ralther have real effects over holographic projections. I can't see the point of making a 'shadow' version of Flaming Sphere with the Illusion spell as it will only cause a light fright until they get 'run over' and realize that it's nothing but an image and they take no damage from it. If I'm going to play head games, it might as well be to put them to sleep or dominate them. Just giving them a mild scare seems rather useless unless you're trying to make them run away screaming. Invisibility is nice, but it's a standard spell I'm willing to lose to gain a more practical school of magic that actually affects the enemy beyond trying to manipulate them with false images.
Illusion isn't holograms any more than Conjuration is just summons. The true power with illusion isn't direct offense (unless you're a shadowcraft mage, which I would NOT recommend for anyone inexperienced with the game), but rather insidious support.

For instance, look at what causes an Invisibility spell to drop. Now look at what the handbook suggests as good wizard spells. You'll note that the two usually don't overlap. An invisible wizard can cast buffs, battlefield control spells, summons, and so on all without giving away his position except to those with really good Listen checks (in simple terms, it takes a DC 40 Spot check or a DC 20 Listen check to pinpoint the position of a moving mage shouting spell incantations, and those DCs increase by +1 per 10 feet between you and the target. Note how even Medium range spells can reach over 100 feet away at level 1, and how all you need to do to make those checks much harder is stop moving - i.e. after you've cast your long-duration combat spells.) Even if they do pinpoint you, you still have total concealment, which gives you a 50% miss chance regardless of your AC or your enemy's attack bonus, and complete immunity to precision damage such as Sneak Attack. And all of this from a moderate-duration 2nd level spell.

Even if you decide to use damage spells, you can concentrate on or direct a damage spell without actually dropping invisibility. This includes your bestie, Flaming Sphere, so long as you aren't casting it to directly overlap with an enemy (though casting it and then moving it is kosher). As an aside, you misread how a shadow flaming sphere would operate (although it's not the best use for a shadow evocation) - they'd get a Will save to recognize it's an illusion (note: Will is usually the worst of the three saves, until the really high levels when it overtakes Reflex), and if they fail, it behaves exactly like the evocation you're copying, including taking full normal damage. You do keep your save DCs high, don't you?

(Minor side notes: Even if they fail the Will save, or otherwise recognize it's an illusion somehow (i.e. True Seeing), they're still taking some damage from it (20%). Remember how weak damage usually is? At this point you're going from a water gun to an eye dropper, but that's still enough to kill a gravely wounded target. Secondly, if you copy an evocation or a conjuration spell that has a costly material component or an XP component, you don't actually pay them - you're actually casting an illusion and copying the effect of another spell instead of paying the cost for the other spell. Greater Shadow Evocation can actually let you cast Forcecage, for instance, without spending any gold to do it. In extreme - i.e. shadowcraft mage - cases, this can be used to cast miracle for free.)

That's pretty far removed from a hologram, no? And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

Wizards are so much more than walking artillery, and a huge element of that is your support. A handful of decent support spells can make you all but completely invincible unless the enemy packed the right counters to those spells. A blasting mage can contribute with proper support, but without that support, he becomes a liability.

(Somewhat more ridiculous example: I've seen a player complain about a wizard at his table casting Continual Flame on a crowbar and then charging things in melee. This is a liability. If, instead, he had cast the right support spells (say, Mirror Image, Enlarge Person, Mighty Wallop, Greater Magic Weapon, and possibly even Tenser's Transformation or Polymorph if he's feeling saucy) he could have been an actual threat to some foes while doing this. He wouldn't be as powerful as god, but he wouldn't be as useless as a sack of minnows either.)

Illusion seems to me to be a waste of a school of magic for anyone other than tricksters and stage performers.
A good magician never reveals how the trick is done. An evil magician never leaves evidence there was a trick in the first place. Illusion is a lot more powerful than you're giving it credit for - largely because you're seeing it as holograms. The holograms are figments - there's four other illusion subschools out there!

Color Spray (kills more reliably than Sleep, albeit at closer range). Ventriloquism (send your verbal components underground). Blur (20% miss chance regardless of enemy attack bonuses or your AC, plus protection against precision effects and, curiously, grants the ability to hide without something to hide behind, an ability which normally requires 13 levels in ranger). Invisibility (see above). Mirror Image (scales, but works out to an 88% miss chance that also screws up enemy targeted spells). Displacement, Invisibility Sphere, and Greater Invisibility (like Blur and Invisibility, only moreso). Shadow Conjuration (exactly how many possibilities does this single spell memorization allow you to respond to?). Rainbow Pattern (if enchantment appeals to you, this should too, although admittedly it's not the greatest). Phantasmal Killer (not all that great except against rogues, but it is the lowest-level save-or-die effect in the PHB). Shadow Evocation (even more options than Shadow Conjuration, even if the effects are less potent individually). Shadow Walk (a teleport effect that doesn't trigger any anti-teleportation defenses or detection effects, since it lacks the teleport descriptor and uses a different plane. It isn't very precise but it often doesn't need to be, particularly as an escape, and as long as the destination is an open area you're still within Medium spell range). Project Image (yes, it's a "hologram"; no, it's not a trick. This lets you cast spells from a different room altogether, which is one of the best defenses around). Simulacrum (copy yourself - he doesn't have your equipment, but he can read your spellbook and comes with his own spells. And that's just the tip of the iceberg with this spell; there's a reason it has an XP cost). Greater Shadow Conjuration, Evocation, and Shades (as the earlier spells except even more; these can actually copy any of the Evocation spells I've listed, including Contingency and Forcecage).

And that's just the amazing non-holograms in the PHB.


Originally posted by samcifer:

O... Kay... That's certainly not what I would describe as an Illusion. Guess I should find some articles on Illusion spells then, if they don't work as mere images as I thought they did. So a Shadow Evocation Falming Sphere can actually cause damage? If so, how? The concept still confuses me... Kinda makes me feel dumber by the moment. :p


Originally posted by Andarious-Rosethorn:

It tricks reality into thinking there's really a fire and reality burns you. Best part of Shadow Conjuration and Shadow Evocation? You're basically spontanious casting. There's a trick where you can pretty well spontaneously cast any level Evocation or Conjuration spell but it's a bit complicated and involves some Shadowcraft Mage trickery. Also it goes into something like 110% or maybe even 120% REAL magic. The silly point there is that your spells in theory deal additional damage if the opponent saves to realize their an illusion rather than reduced damage.

Illusion's very powerful, it is also easily the most advanced school to learn. I'm a giant fan of Conjuration lately, and used to be a Transmutation pusher (cause I like a gish). Illusion gives you miss chance, and miss chance is king of survival because of one simple fact, it doesn't scale negatively with the power of your opponent the way AC does.


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

samcifer wrote:O... Kay... That's certainly not what I would describe as an Illusion. Guess I should find some articles on Illusion spells then, if they don't work as mere images as I thought they did. So a Shadow Evocation Falming Sphere can actually cause damage? If so, how? The concept still confuses me... Kinda makes me feel dumber by the moment. :p
The key is shadow evocation being the illusion of choice. There are five different subschools in illusion; only the "figments" are the holograms. Summary: figments create a projection (example: silent image), glamers alter perceptions to conceal (example: invisibility), patterns set traps (and are really basically just enchantment spells - there's not a lot of different pattern spells. Example: Hypnotic Pattern), phantasms... are kind of ill-defined, but generally speaking they convince the subject that something's happened to their bodies that hasn't (i.e. "Your mind makes it real" - many of these require two separate saves. Example: phantasmal killer). Shadow spells are the complex beast - they manipulate material from the Plane of Shadow, so they're partially real, but because of the deceptive nature of that place, they can convince people that they're completely real.

A Shadow Evoked Fireball is an illusion, but underneath that illusion it's a quasi-real fireball composed of shadow-stuff. (Don't look at me like that - quite literally, a wizard did it.) Like a phantasm, if they fall for it, they're getting toasted, but unlike a phantasm, it's not just their mind playing tricks on them. There really is matter (albeit from a different plane) backing up that spell. It's just not as powerful as the spell's usual energies, so if people see through the illusion, they're usually only taking a percentage of the damage that the real thing would. (Note that like phantasms, these spells often rely on two saves - a Will save and whatever save the spell normally uses. If I save against your Shadow Fireball, I'm only taking 10% of the damage.)

(There's a small but subtle distinction here, and that's that phantasms are invisible except to their subjects while patterns and shadow spells are quite visible. This matters most if you're trying to be covert; an invisible illusionist with Silent Spell casting a phantasm can make his subject instantly drop dead without anyone noticing anything unusual, while those relying on patterns and shadows can't. However, this is a niche benefit at best.)

Andarious hints at the rather convoluted stunts involved with the shadowcraft mage I keep mentioning; these guys can basically use spell slots of any level to create something like a shadow conjuration / shadow evocation effect, and the effective quasireality (that is, the percentage of the effect that is "real" if they see through the illusion) can be dramatically increased. In some extreme cases, these can actually exceed 100% (so my shadow evoked fireballs deal full damage if you think they're fake, but more than full damage if you see through the illusion), or can be used to copy spells you wouldn't normally expect (up to and including Miracle). These guys are extremely complex to play, even by wizard standards, so I'm only including this for interest's sake. (Coincidentally, the guy who wrote the book on how to build and play these fellows? NineInchNall(x).)

Meanwhile, if you were to use something like Silent Image or its bigger brothers to cast something that looked like a fireball, it'd do absolutely nothing except give off the light show you describe. These spells are the holograms you're talking about. They're also among the most potent spells in the game in the hands of a creative player, because they literally can appear to be anything you describe. Unless something interacts with them, they don't even allow a save and they completely fool the relevant sense.


One important point to all of these, especially for wizards: you make the pertinent decisions when you cast the spell. Thus, you don't prepare "an illusion of a wall" or anything, you just prepare "an illusion" and choose to make it a wall or something else whenever you cast it. This means that preparing Shadow Evocation means you've prepared just about any Evocation spell you could wish for in a single slot. If you're doing your job on keeping your DCs up (which, without serious equipment tweaking, is largely a function of your Intelligence modifier), these spells will probably fool their targets, too - and note that any spell they copy sets the DC by the shadow's level, and not their own. (This means that a normal 3rd level fireball would be DC 13+Int, while a shadow evoked fireball would be DC 15+int - the shadow is stronger magic and thus actually harder to resist in the first place. Creatures that are likely to make the save vs Fireball and take half damage are less likely to save against the shadow copy, meaning the illusion may actually be more likely to do full damage than the real thing.)


(EDIT: I did a quick search of DNDTools to check, and while they're still not quite complete, it's telling. You know how the distinctions between enchantments, patterns, and phantasms got a bit murky? Well, in everything DNDTools has indexed so far (which is most of 3.5), there are a grand total of 16 pattern spells and 36 phantasm spells, including spells that were reprinted in multiple sources. Even WotC tended to classify most of the spells that would be patterns or phantasms as enchantment spells. Don't worry about the distinction too much - functionally, illusion lies in figments, glamers, and shadow spells.)


Originally posted by NineInchNall:

Conjuration and transmutation are pretty straightforward in solving combat, social, and puzzle encounters. From those two schools you have things that grant you extra actions, things that carve up the battlefield into manageable chunks, things that completely bypass challenges, things that create allies, things that make allies better allies, things that make you money, and on and on. All within those two schools. They are just unfair.

While illusion and enchantment are pretty much my favorite schools ever, they do take quite a bit of finesse and a willingness to see tactical (or strategic) options in terms other than overt violence. I've seen encounters that were meant to make a high level party quake in fear instead brought low and made trivial by the power of a simple, first level spell. (silent image) I've seen an entire battalion of orcs turn tail and run because of several allied casters using that same spell. I've seen it get people into secure areas, past stone golem sentries, and more. It's done all of those things without even allowing the monsters or NPCs a save. The illusionist merely decided that the story should go in a particular way, and so it did. And that's just with a spell that you get at first level.

Necromancy is kind of a mid-point in subtlety, in my opinion. It takes some thought to make the most of something like magic jar, but animate dead is pretty obvious. It's another school where its best spells are not the overtly offensive ones.

EDIT: I usually suggest that new wizard players pick evocation as a prohibited school, which forces them to think of solutions other than fireball. Evocation can be good, but its good spells are not the ones that are intuitively compelling for new players.


Tempest_Stormwind wrote:Andarious hints at the rather convoluted stunts involved with the shadowcraft mage I keep mentioning; these guys can basically use spell slots of any level to create something like a shadow conjuration / shadow evocation effect, and the effective quasireality (that is, the percentage of the effect that is "real" if they see through the illusion) can be dramatically increased. In some extreme cases, these can actually exceed 100% (so my shadow evoked fireballs deal full damage if you think they're fake, but more than full damage if you see through the illusion), or can be used to copy spells you wouldn't normally expect (up to and including Miracle). These guys are extremely complex to play, even by wizard standards, so I'm only including this for interest's sake. (Coincidentally, the guy who wrote the book on how to build and play these fellows? NineInchNall(x).)
I loves me some shadowcraft. More available options each round than anyone can consider in a reasonable amount of time? Woohoo!

Definitely not something for the beginner, though. Talk about decision paralysis!





Originally posted by Slagger_the_Chuul:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:(EDIT: I did a quick search of DNDTools to check, and while they're still not quite complete, it's telling. You know how the distinctions between enchantments, patterns, and phantasms got a bit murky? Well, in everything DNDTools has indexed so far (which is most of 3.5), there are a grand total of 16 pattern spells and 36 phantasm spells, including spells that were reprinted in multiple sources. Even WotC tended to classify most of the spells that would be patterns or phantasms as enchantment spells. Don't worry about the distinction too much - functionally, illusion lies in figments, glamers, and shadow spells.)
Enchantment does get somewhat beggared by having illusion steal those from it in the first place (or at least halfway, in the case of patterns), kind of like how conjuration has spells that probably should be evocation on the technicality that it's conjuring the stuff for the effect instead of evoking energy into existence (the creation subschool is the main offender, especially with blatant examples like orb of force).

It's kind of like someone going to the telepathy discipline of psionics and shifting anything they could justify as having a biological basis into psychometabolism (there's still a little bit of crossover, but psionics mostly keeps itself in order).

Originally posted by samcifer:

What about the 'Bite of the..." spells from Spell Compendium? I love the idea of turning into a werewolf, for exapmple, and since I plan on keeping Transmutation, I think the 'Bite' spells would add both fun and a few nice buffs to my wizard. I know that (at least most) spells don't require those buffs, but they can help If I get wailed on, or get trapped in a situation where I can't use magic (an anti-magic field, for example). Besides, fur is the new black, after all.



Originally posted by Slagger_the_Chuul:

samcifer wrote:What about the 'Bite of the..." spells from Spell Compendium? I love the idea of turning into a werewolf, for exapmple, and since I plan on keeping Transmutation, I think the 'Bite' spells would add both fun and a few nice buffs to my wizard. I know that (at least most) spells don't require those buffs, but they can help If I get wailed on, or get trapped in a situation where I can't use magic (an anti-magic field, for example). Besides, fur is the new black, after all.
If you're in an antimagic field (or a dead magic plane, or similar area), the effect of those spells would also be suppressed.

Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

Similarly, if you're in a situation where you're really "trapped", a pure wizard would be best suited having his panic spell be a teleport effect, to escape the trap. Wizard martial combat buffs (except the broken Polymorph) are *not* good choices for pure wizards to cast on themselves; you will find them on Gish builds though. (And among the Bite spells, Bite of the Wererat is perhaps the most common.) I'll go into more detail when I'm not on a phone keyboard, but the nutshell is that pure wizards are usually better suited to winning combat than punching things. If you want to mix it up in melee, you need a lot of buffs to compensate for the risk (covering for defense, low HP, poor Strength, poor accuracy, and more). Gish builds sacrifice some pure casting strength (usually only feats or features; most give up no more than two actual casting levels) in favor of a better melee chassis (read: fewer buffs needed, or better results from buffs) and often some specific class feature effects. They are, howeve, notoriously hard to build. The PHB2 duskblade or the psychic warrior are probably the best introduction to the concept, as they work fine even without multiclassing (although the former is entirely concerned with blowing stuff up). There's a handbook for duskblades on the same site as the wand handbook, if you're interested.

Originally posted by samcifer:

Slagger_the_Chuul wrote:
samcifer wrote:What about the 'Bite of the..." spells from Spell Compendium? I love the idea of turning into a werewolf, for exapmple, and since I plan on keeping Transmutation, I think the 'Bite' spells would add both fun and a few nice buffs to my wizard. I know that (at least most) spells don't require those buffs, but they can help If I get wailed on, or get trapped in a situation where I can't use magic (an anti-magic field, for example). Besides, fur is the new black, after all.
If you're in an antimagic field (or a dead magic plane, or similar area), the effect of those spells would also be suppressed.
Ummm. Good point.



Originally posted by samcifer:

Do anti-magic fields disrupt spells that were already cast, such as the "Bite" spells, if you walk into them after triggering the spell?


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

The spell's second paragraph explains how it works: They shut down *all* magic, including active spells, spell-like abilities, supernatural effects, and pretty much anything else (only extraordinary abilities, martial maneuvers, and basic natural abilities can be used inside; instantaneous creation effects can be cast outside and survive inside though this is of limited use). AMFs are *very* problematic as a result, and lead to a lot of rules arguments; they are often not worth the hassle unless you're trying a hard counter to a broken mage. Even then, they're beatable to a point: the "tin foil hat" trick (build a cone of lead big enough to hide under, cast Shrink Item, wear it like a hat) will buy most wizards enough time to teleport away, and some extreme builds (the Cheater of Mystra was first) can actually selectively ignore AMFs with their own spells.

Originally posted by samcifer:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:They shut down *all* magic, including active spells, spell-like abilities, supernatural effects, and pretty much anything else (only extraordinary abilities, martial maneuvers, and basic natural abilities can be used inside; instantaneous creation effects can be cast outside and survive inside though this is of limited use). AMFs are *very* problematic as a result, and lead to a lot of rules arguments; they are often not worth the hassle unless you're trying a hard counter to a broken mage. Even then, they're beatable to a point: the "tin foil hat" trick (build a cone of lead big enough to hide under, cast Shrink Item, wear it like a hat) will buy most wizards enough time to teleport away, and some extreme builds (the Cheater of Mystra was first) can actually selectively ignore AMFs with their own spells.
Ehh... I'll still go for Bite of the Werewolf anyways. It's a fun spell and I love werewolves.
As for AMFs, that's what Dispel Magic was made for, right?



Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

Nope, Dispel Magic can't hit an AMF. No spells work in an AMF's area, and in order to dispel an emanation you need to hit the origin point with the dispel. That origin point is smack in the middle of the field - the field where no spells can work. AMF really does cause a lot of problems, entirely because it's so hard to defeat if used against you.

The main rules are described with the spell (and it's really all there), and repeated when it's discussed as a special ability. In this case, it's explicit: Both entries say " Dispel magic does not remove the field".

Also, just because the spell says "werewolf" doesnt mean it does what it says. Alter Self is a better werewolfing spell than Bite of the Werewolf. Or, play a Shifter, which is a PC-firendly "lycanthrope" race (though they don't like the comparison).


Originally posted by samcifer:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:Nope, Dispel Magic can't hit an AMF. No spells work in an AMF's area, and in order to dispel an emanation you need to hit the origin point with the dispel. That origin point is smack in the middle of the field - the field where no spells can work. AMF really does cause a lot of problems, entirely because it's so hard to defeat if used against you.

The main rules are described with the spell (and it's really all there), and repeated when it's discussed as a special ability. In this case, it's explicit: Both entries say " Dispel magic does not remove the field".

Also, just because the spell says "werewolf" doesnt mean it does what it says. Alter Self is a better werewolfing spell than Bite of the Werewolf. Or, play a Shifter, which is a PC-firendly "lycanthrope" race (though they don't like the comparison).
Damn... It's as if they simply don't want anyone to play a wizard (or any other type of spellcasteR) at all, with things like that in the game. I doubt they have bazookas in D&D.

Shifters lack the +INT racial boost, though. Maybe if I combine Alter Self with Permanence I could make myself a werewolf permanently?


Originally posted by samcifer:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
EDIT 2:

It occurs to me that neither of those handbooks has a decent list of abbreviations for the books they use. That, and other useful abbreviations and glossary terms, can be found here.
"HD" isn't on the list. What does it mean and how can I determine what it is, if it's a number?

Also, do Pathfinder Wizards play pretty much the same, meaning you have to go with certtain type of builds if you want a Wizard that stands a chance of being effective?


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

samcifer wrote:Damn... It's as if they simply don't want anyone to play a wizard (or any other type of spellcasteR) at all, with things like that in the game. I doubt they have bazookas in D&D.
Curiously, they do have those. (DMG table 5-5.)

But setting that aside, AMF is a problem - but not an insurmountable one. First, it's very powerful magic and centered on the caster, so it's hard to acquire through the usual magic item workarounds (and that assumes your DM allows an antimagic field item - there are none printed, and custom items all need approval). Second, if some big lug manages to use AMF and manages to get close to you, it can be circumvented by the "tinfoil hat" (it blocks line of effect from the center of the field - meaning that while you're in the cone, magic still works. This includes magic that connects you to other planes) or similar preventative measures. Third, there are spells that natively ignore antimagic fields - any spell with an instantaneous duration and the Creation subschool will work in principle, although there's some issues there if the spell targets anyone in the field or has an area that overlaps with the field. (You need spells that create things outside the field; these things can then move in the field. This may include ray spells - including Orb of Fire, by the way - if the DM interprets them as created insted of targeted; this isn't universal.) Fourth, there's ways for spellcasters to punch holes in their own AMFs - archmage's Mastery of Shaping, Extraordinary Spell Aim - or flat-out ignore them (Initiate of Mystra feat for clerics).

And even with all that? AMF tends to show up in one of two frequencies. The first is "It's everywhere!", which you might find if the game is pulling out all the stops. The second is "You might see it once or twice, total" in games that recognize it as extremely problematic and thus restrict it. (Personally, except in theoretical concerns, I've actually seen the beholder's antimagic rays more frequently than an actual antimagic field.)

The thing with 3.5 wizards is that you can usually circument any problem thrown at you, if you anticipate it in advance. This is all about such anticipation. And you certainly won't need to worry about this at the lower levels!

Shifters lack the +INT racial boost, though. Maybe if I combine Alter Self with Permanence I could make myself a werewolf permanently?
Shifters lack +Int, yes, but this is where the system mastery comes in. Their shifting is supernatural, not extraordinary. Supernatural abilities remain with you if you polymorph yourself. Say, to a form that really benefits from the shifters' unique abilities while shifting. (I've seen this done to move Longtooth Elite's "Your bites deal Constitution damage" effect onto 12-headed hydras, which can bite 12 times as a standard action.) They're usually better with druids, admittedly, but if you're trying to do a werewolf, thems the breaks.

(Quite frankly, lycanthropes are always overengineered. Whenever I see someone who really really really wants to play one and isn't satisfied with shifters, I usually do something based on the PHB2 druid's shapeshift(x).)

And honestly, less-than-supergenius Intelligence is still a better tradeoff for a wizard than the huge level adjustment and animal hit dice that true lycanthropes have to suck down.

Also, regarding permanency: Read the spell. Likewise, with Alter Self: Read the spell. Alter Self isn't on the list of spells Permanency can actually hit, and it can't be used to assume the form of a creature with a template (i.e. any lycanthrope). Your basic questions can all be answered first by reading the spells.



samcifer wrote:"HD" isn't on the list. What does it mean and how can I determine what it is, if it's a number?
It means "Hit Dice". For most intents and purposes this is usually synonymous with "character level". Your Hit Dice equals your number of racial hit dice (typically zero for PHB races; these are effectively "levels" in things like Animal, Monstrous Humanoid, Outsider, Dragon, etc...) plus your class levels.

This is slightly, but significantly, different from Effective Character Level (ECL), which is your HD plus your level adjustment (also usually zero, except for powerful races). ECL is pretty much only used for purposes relating to XP (including starting level) and starting wealth.


Also, do Pathfinder Wizards play pretty much the same, meaning you have to go with certtain type of builds if you want a Wizard that stands a chance of being effective?
Be advised that I'm exaggerating the shoehorning of wizards in 3.5. It's because people who come to 3.5 from 4e see wizards pretty much just as artillery, which is a bad habit. Like any bad habit, you resort to stronger statements to get points across.

Wizards really don't need to be as all-out as I'm describing: if they do pull out those stops, the game tends to explode. However, if you shoehorn them into Fireball factories, you're not only pursuing one of the few really bad wizard strategies, you're also ignoring about 80% of the system. We've had 40-page arguments with people who think that wizards are instantly dead if they have less than 24 Constitution, for instance, because they were unable to see the game as one based on actions and instead saw it as one based on hit points. A wizard, played competently by a player who understands the importance of actions and information, would have been perfectly fine in the games this guy was describing.

Basically, wizards are creatures of information management, possessed of a thousand possible attacks and capable of setting plans that transcend time and space. Playing them as fireball factories turns them into creatures with a single attack that are purely responsive (the wizardly equivalent of the "wake me when we fight something" fighter). In order to break that mould, I needed to exaggerate a bit. This is especially true because your motivation to move to 3.5 at all was to learn how other editions worked before moving to 5e - in effect, you'd have to give up the 4e wizard assumptions in that case as well, so I may as well start the process here, no?

As for Pathfinder, they really didn't do much to tone down the absurdity of wizards, I'm told. I'm not an expert though.


Originally posted by samcifer:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:
samcifer wrote:Damn... It's as if they simply don't want anyone to play a wizard (or any other type of spellcasteR) at all, with things like that in the game. I doubt they have bazookas in D&D.
Curiously, they do have those. (DMG table 5-5.)

But setting that aside, AMF is a problem - but not an insurmountable one. First, it's very powerful magic and centered on the caster, so it's hard to acquire through the usual magic item workarounds (and that assumes your DM allows an antimagic field item - there are none printed, and custom items all need approval). Second, if some big lug manages to use AMF and manages to get close to you, it can be circumvented by the "tinfoil hat" (it blocks line of effect from the center of the field - meaning that while you're in the cone, magic still works. This includes magic that connects you to other planes) or similar preventative measures. Third, there are spells that natively ignore antimagic fields - any spell with an instantaneous duration and the Creation subschool will work in principle, although there's some issues there if the spell targets anyone in the field or has an area that overlaps with the field. (You need spells that create things outside the field; these things can then move in the field. This may include ray spells - including Orb of Fire, by the way - if the DM interprets them as created insted of targeted; this isn't universal.) Fourth, there's ways for spellcasters to punch holes in their own AMFs - archmage's Mastery of Shaping, Extraordinary Spell Aim - or flat-out ignore them (Initiate of Mystra feat for clerics).

And even with all that? AMF tends to show up in one of two frequencies. The first is "It's everywhere!", which you might find if the game is pulling out all the stops. The second is "You might see it once or twice, total" in games that recognize it as extremely problematic and thus restrict it. (Personally, except in theoretical concerns, I've actually seen the beholder's antimagic rays more frequently than an actual antimagic field.)

The thing with 3.5 wizards is that you can usually circument any problem thrown at you, if you anticipate it in advance. This is all about such anticipation. And you certainly won't need to worry about this at the lower levels!


Shifters lack the +INT racial boost, though. Maybe if I combine Alter Self with Permanence I could make myself a werewolf permanently?
Shifters lack +Int, yes, but this is where the system mastery comes in. Their shifting is supernatural, not extraordinary. Supernatural abilities remain with you if you polymorph yourself. Say, to a form that really benefits from the shifters' unique abilities while shifting. (I've seen this done to move Longtooth Elite's "Your bites deal Constitution damage" effect onto 12-headed hydras, which can bite 12 times as a standard action.) They're usually better with druids, admittedly, but if you're trying to do a werewolf, thems the breaks.

(Quite frankly, lycanthropes are always overengineered. Whenever I see someone who really really really wants to play one and isn't satisfied with shifters, I usually do something based on the PHB2 druid's shapeshift(x).)

And honestly, less-than-supergenius Intelligence is still a better tradeoff for a wizard than the huge level adjustment and animal hit dice that true lycanthropes have to suck down.

Also, regarding permanency: Read the spell. Likewise, with Alter Self: Read the spell. Alter Self isn't on the list of spells Permanency can actually hit, and it can't be used to assume the form of a creature with a template (i.e. any lycanthrope). Your basic questions can all be answered first by reading the spells.
I'm at work at the moment, can't access sites that have the spell references due to security restrictions on work computers, and don't have my books here to look through, so I apologize if it seems like I'm not reading things at all, I just lack the resources to do so during the workday and have no alone time at home after work as my partner leaves me little alone time.


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

Ah, that's understandable (and it certainly puts the "print out the entire Wizard Handbook" thing in context!). I wasn't trying to be confrontational.

Of course, there's a mismatch between the names of spells and what they actually do, in several cases. My favorite example from the PHB is Otto's Irresistible Dance.... which allows for Spell Resistance and thus is pretty far from irresistible. Similarly, Permanency is pretty far from permanent since it can be easily dispelled (when most permanent effects are actually "instantaneous" or say they restore themselves if they're dispelled). Particularly complex spells like the shapechanging ones are very problematic - Alter Self is often used to copy special abilities from unusual monsters who share a type with you (especially if the caster is an outsider), instead of being used to create a physical disguise.

Also: I've edited my earlier posts in response to subsequent replies.


Originally posted by Slagger_the_Chuul:

AMFs can be a problem even with the tinfoil hat solutions both with things like dust of negation (which will be under any hat that deploys), and the fact that the attackers will generally include someone there who can immediately cut through the physical blockade because they were already needed to either kill the nerfed target or lock them down so they can't simply walk out of the field. But that's why you go adventuring with friends; when someone does manage to get you locked down and magic-free, the party members that you're working your magic beside the rest of the time step up to smack them in the face.

Ironically, Mordenkainen's disjunction (one of the few things with even a chance of cracking through an antimagic field) is more of a potential danger for the mage than the field, since it can be used to destroy outright all the magical defenses that the field would merely suppress.


Originally posted by samcifer:

Well, here's my 4th Ed. Lvl. 7 Tiefling Wizard to show the type of Wizard I enjoy playing to give you a better feel for what I'm used to, but sadly cannot play in anything except D&D 4th Ed., apparently, as 5th will kill any chance of me ever playing a character like this again, if the reports on 5th Ed. are true).

I focused on a two-pronged approach with a mixture of pyro-oriented spells (fire spells) and control spells. I have several tomes to give me versatility and many of my fire spells are relegated to them as there's spells that can't go into any tome. I took an accuracy-over-damage approach due to my horrible luck with die rolls.

The char stats are high due to DM approved die rolls for stats (I managed to get lucky for a change on the die rolls during char creation.

I have a LOT of tomes, msotly for variety of spells/powers to use in case I come into a situation I'm not prepared for. I know it does not increase my powers-per-day, but I can adapt fairly easily. Thanks to my items, feats, theme, maxed INT and Pyromancy School, I can attack with a +12, or +14 if it's a Fire -based power and can ignore Fire Resistance for full damage. Because of all of this, I'm the strongest attacker in my party.

Spello Thello

Tiefling (+2 Int and +2 Cha)
Mage (Wizard) (Evocation: Reroll a 1 on 1 Evo power damage die per turn and Pyromancy Schools - +1 Atk for Fire powers- at Apprentice, Pyromancy School at Expert - Ignore Fire Resistance when attacking with Fire powers)
Lvl. 7
Str: 13, Con: 15, Dex: 19 (18 + 1), Int: 21 (18 + 2 + 1), Wis: 17, Cha: 16 (14 + 2)
Stat Modifiers: Str: +1, Con: +2, Dex: +4, Int: +5, Wis: +3, Cha: +3
AC: 20, Fort: 20, Ref: 21, Wil: 22
HP: 49, Speed: 6, Initiative: +7
Infernal Prince Theme +1 Atk for Fire powers), Occupation Foe Killer Background (for Perception training)
(skills skipped on here, too tedious and not relevant to combat for the most part)
Spells:

Cantrips: Magic Missile (via Mage build), Mage Hand, Disrupt Undead, and Light

A-W: Hypnotism and Beguiling Strands

Encounter powers:

1: Darkening Flame and Charm of Misplaced Wrath
3: Fire Shroud and Grim Shadow
7: Fire Burst and Fire Sea Travel

Daily Powers (+1 per Level via Expanded Spellbook feat):

1: Sleep, Spirit Rend, and Wizard's Fury (love the extra attack per round even if it's weak)
5: Web, Thunderstaff, and Watery Sphere (Lv. 1 Daily)

Utilities:

2: Charm of Protection and Shield (DM hates this one! >:) )
6: Watery Double and Grim Isolation (Tiefling-only)

Tomes with other Spells:

Summoner's Tome: Sum. Fire Warrior and Sum. Magma Beast
Tome of Dispel
Tome of Replenishing Flame: Flaming Sphere and Fountain of Flame
Tome of Replenishing Flame (2nd): Fire Mantle and Fireball
Tome of North Wind: Bigby's Icy Grasp and Freezing Cloud
Wailing Tome: Dimension Door and Horrid Whispers
Tome of Illusions (DM approved created item): Phantom Chasm and Visions of Avarice

Notable equipment: Magic Accurate Staff +3, Defensive Accurate Staff +2 (for the boost to my defenses), Amulet of Elegy +2, Belt of Vim +1, Ring of Fortitude +1 (DM-created item), Veteran's Armor +2.

Feats: Hellfire Blood, Tome Expertise (great with Mage Hand!), Expanded Spellbook, Staff Expertise, and Superior Implement Training (Accurate Staff).



Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

I'm still looking up a lot of this (as I kind of gave up on 4e after the first PHB, and WotC uses its own subscription tools instead of open-sourcing the actual power descriptions), but from what I've gathered, there's a lot of overlap here - most are different flavors of "deal fire damage, plus a small extra effect (usually on a hit)", with a small number of support spells in the form of summons and dispels, and a small number of non-fire (presumably to deal with fire immunes - I don't know how common resistance or immunity is in 4e as a whole, but it's almost certainly less prevalent than in 3e - by design).

Just about any wizard build can pull something pretty close to this off without any hassle. Your individual spells are going to do more (i.e. Black Tentacles outdoes anything I've seen on that list in terms of controlling territory and locking down foes), but there will be less overlap (both between support/fire and between the individual fire effects).

There's a large amount (feats and magic items) invested into making sure your spells have a high attack bonus. In 3.5, the parallel would be your spell DC, and possibly your caster level (which should be boosted if at all possible anyway). If you have feats to burn and/or are looking for simplicity when you start out, getting basic DC-boosting feats (Spell Focus is school-limited, but if you have spell focus in both evocation and conjuration (all the fire spells are these two schools, except for a few niche ones in Transmutation), you'll qualify for Archmage later on with ease) would be a wise call. Note that the boosted DCs for the fire spells also apply to other spells from these schools, so they'll power up the save DCs for your non-fire spells to some degree as well. (The question is, of course, what those spells actually are.)

I'd also suggest the Firey Burst feat. It's not all that amazing, but as training wheels from 4e it will certainly help. It gives +1 caster level to all fire spells, and as long as you've got a fire spell prepared, the feat gives you an at-will supernatural ability to create fire blasts. The strength of those blasts depends on the strength of your strongest fire spell prepped. (If you cast that spell, the feat then looks for the next strongest, and so on.) If the importance of it being supernatural isn't clear, supernatural abilities don't provoke opportunity attacks when you use them, aren't vulnerable to counterspells (which admittedly are very rare), and most importantly, bypass all spell resistance. You'll still have to deal with energy resistance, but using this blast won't cost you spells and you'll learn if something resists right off.

EDIT: There's only one other reserve feat that strikes me as appropriate for your build, and it's Summon Elemental. The elemental you summon won't last all that long, but it will be available at will for a short duration. The fact that it's a supernatural ability is a distinct advantage here: those are only standard actions to do (unless they say otherwise, which Summon Elemental doesn't), while a typical summon spell takes your whole turn and the time from the end of your turn to the start of your next one to cast. This is of lower priority than any other feat I mention here, given the discussion in the thread, but I do think it would bear mentioning. (Also, since it's an at-will summon, you can easily use this to remotely set off traps. "That's a pressure plate that the rogue can't disarm. Stand back, summon an elemental, click *BOOM*, okay, moving on.)

The other major area I see in your build is a focus on knowing a LOT of different spells. You get this effect for free with the 3.5 wizard (buy multiple spellbooks and take the time to copy many new spells over whenever you get a moment or two to write; Boccob's Blessed Books in the DMG are wonderful investments for this. You can find new spells by finding or buying scrolls, looting spellbooks from enemy wizards (though they usually keep them somewhere other than the front lines), copying them out of friendly wizard's books (this is an easier proposition than decoding enemy spellbooks first, but obviously you have to do something to warrant payment of this kind) and by performing individual research during downtime even if you aren't gaining a level at the time), but you can kick it into overdrive with the Collegiate Wizard feat from Complete Arcane (it dramatically improves how many spells you start with and how many you learn at every level automatically). I don't know what the 4e tomes actually do (they appear to be places to hold extra spells, but I'm not sure how actually casting those spells works - they presumably don't need to be rotated back to you), but you're clearly used to lugging around a few extra books with you for more spells you learn along the way.

Those two feats together - Firey Burst + Collegiate Wizard - plus possible DC boosters gives you something very similar to your build, all things considered. You'll be right at home with this. (Don't worry too much about Spell Resistance - it isn't all that common early on, and you can learn True Casting (1st) or Assay Spell Resistance (4th) if you need to break it down. Spells like this make Spell Penetration generally speaking a poor feat.)

Other feats include Empower Spell and Split Ray (both metamagic; only take the latter if you really like rays), Knowledge Devotion (only if you really like rays - but it actually does a very good job with Scorching Ray in particular), and Craft Wondrous Item (if you have to pick one item creation feat, this is it; Craft Wand can be a close second). Feats that reduce the cost of metamagic feats (i.e. Arcane Thesis, Practical Metamagic) are generally good calls, but you don't need to worry too much about the game of monkeying with metamagic until you've got a few wizard levels under your belt.

In terms of prestige classes, I'd stick to the ones that are closest to "pure" wizardry. The short list for these is usually Master Specialist (Complete Mage; ignore this if you're not specializing), Mage of the Arcane Order (Complete Arcane), Incantrix (Player's Guide to Faerun; observe that this one is stupidly powerful in the right hands. Note as well that it requires more specialization, on top of being a specialist - you'd probably have to give up Enchantment by the time you qualify here. I wouldn't worry too much - Sleep will have long since lost its use, and more and more is immune to mind-affecting magic as you go up in levels, and the basic build you've suggested can almost entirely be captured in evocation, conjuration, transmutation and abjuration), and Archmage (DMG; it's not usually a must-have because the requirements are rough, but if you're grabbing the spell focus feats anyway...). Usually no one stays a single-classed Wizard past level 3 (if they're entering Master Specialist) or past level 5 (if they're entering almost anything else). Keep this in mind when you select your feats - plan out your prestige classes early, and make sure you get their prerequisites online early enough.

In terms of spells, the Holy Fire build I just posted (see my sig) hits almost all of the main ones, and it wasn't built to convert this at all. It's also a sorcerer, which involves a much more cautious spell selection.

Look at that build's fire spells, and the list of spells linked in my first reply, plus Dispel Magic / Sleep / Web (and a small number of new support spells, since you certainly will have more to choose from there than you did in 4e, both in terms of number and diversity. Examples: Dimension Door, Scrying, Mirror Image and/or Invisibility, any long-form communication effect, etc.). You'll get something pretty close (as long as you're using a lesser tiefling instead of the standard tiefling. The lesser one is identical to the standard tiefling, except its type is Humanoid (not native outsider) and its level adjustment is +0 (absolutely critical)), and can probably still kick ass. It'll just be a different style of kick from what you're used to - and you'll be able to do the metaphorical equivalent of throw punches or pull submission holds as well, when earlier all you could do was kick.

The only thing that I think isn't around in 3.5 is the simple no-nonsense Pyromancy School at expert. There's a handful of ways to bypass a small amount of energy resistance, but they're almost never worth the cost. You usually bypass energy resistance with Energy Substitution, but you can't apply that feat on the fly. Searing Spell is similar and fire-specific, but is again kind of costly for the effect. That's why Holy Fire went to Silver Pyromancer, which allows him to switch his fire spells over to use irresistable divine power (although if you're just interested in this one effect, a single level dip in Sanctified One of Kord would be similar; it's in Complete Champion, which really is a rather cheesy book all considered). This, however, is a far cry away from your theme.

The only real changes will be the shift from "per encounter" to learning to pace yourself over the course of the day, and realizing that the game rewards tactical choices that don't relate to damage. (You may be surprised, but after you set up some of your spells - i.e. Black Tentacles + Acid/Solid Fog, possibly splashing a wall of fire if you must - your best course of action is actually to stay clear and delay or ready actions as a troubleshooter. Your spells will continue to tick away on their durations and constantly tie up and slaughter enemies with no further spells spent on your part.) Learning these things can be a bit jarring coming from 4e (or rather, the 4e that I'm familiar with - let's be honest, it probably mutated a bit as more was published), which is why I really went overboard earlier with the browbeatings about damage spells being poor choices and so on.



EDIT-2: I said earlier that you could probably get something very similar using warlock. Having seen the build, I'm sure of it. Eldritch Glaive (optional), Eldritch Chain, Eldritch Cone; Brimstone Blast, Hellrime Blast; either of the dispel invocations; aim for Hellfire Warlock. This, right here, is alarmingly close in spirit and MUCH simpler to build and play than a full 3.5 wizard.

If you're feeling saucy, build both. You'll see what I mean.


Originally posted by samcifer:

Quote:

"~~The other major area I see in your build is a focus on knowing a LOT of different spells. You get this effect for free with the 3.5 wizard (buy multiple spellbooks and take the time to copy many new spells over whenever you get a moment or two to write; Boccob's Blessed Books in the DMG are wonderful investments for this. You can find new spells by finding or buying scrolls, looting spellbooks from enemy wizards (though they usually keep them somewhere other than the front lines), copying them out of friendly wizard's books (this is an easier proposition than decoding enemy spellbooks first, but obviously you have to do something to warrant payment of this kind) and by performing individual research during downtime even if you aren't gaining a level at the time), but you can kick it into overdrive with the Collegiate Wizard feat from Complete Arcane (it dramatically improves how many spells you start with and how many you learn at every level automatically). I don't know what the 4e tomes actually do (they appear to be places to hold extra spells, but I'm not sure how actually casting those spells works - they presumably don't need to be rotated back to you), but you're clearly used to lugging around a few extra books with you for more spells you learn along the way."

End Quote

To answer this, you basically give up the use of a Daily or Utility of a level equal to or lower than that of a power/spell in the book and you can use the power (of the same type of daily or utility) from the book instead in that encounter. If you don't use the book's power before the encounter ends, you lose the use of either for the day. It basically substitutes one spell for another of equal or higher value/level.

A-W (At-Will powers) and Cantrips can be used every turn unless specified as an Encounter or Daily. Encounters can be used once per encounter and dailies once per day. Dailies refresh after 8 hours of rest (called an Extended Rest), or the approximation thereof.


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

samcifer wrote:To answer this, you basically give up the use of a Daily or Utility of a level equal to or lower than that of a power/spell in the book and you can use the power (of the same type of daily or utility) from the book instead in that encounter. If you don't use the book's power before the encounter ends, you lose the use of either for the day. It basically substitutes one spell for another of equal or higher value/level.
The 3.5 term for this is "runestaff" (from the Magic Item Compendium); it works almost identically, given the differences in how the systems deal with resource management.


Originally posted by samcifer:

As for Tome Expertise feat, it gives all players a +2 Atk (Combat Advantage) against any enemiy adjacent to a Sunjuration or Summoned creature. Tomes can also ive a +1 to +6 Atk boost, depending on the Tome and the level of it.


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:

Toss that under "improve accuracy"; it's exactly the same story. Really, quite a lot of effort goes into attack bonuses in 4e; the same thing goes into manipulating saving throws and CL in 3.5.

Note that there are similar debuff effects to what you're discussing. In fact, the hexblade I'm playing in Dead for Nothing (see my sig) specializes in these (although there's only so many you can get on a single-classed character with no templates, and as under-equipped as I currently am). He does dish out respectable physical damage (not ubercharger level, but enough to chew through HP fast enough to warrant being chosen as the partner for a White Raven Tactics often enough)... but his real thing is weakening enemies numerically, especially on their saving throws and attack rolls. Illusionists and enchanters also do this surprisingly well, as do bards or barbarians if they're built for it.


Originally posted by samcifer:

Here's an article on monster stats from 4th Ed. that can help you see the differences for them from the 3s.

... Helpful if I actually include the link. :p

http://www.enworld.org/forum/showthread.php?229092-Lots-of-statistics-from-the-Monster-Manual



Originally posted by NineInchNall:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:The short list for these is usually Master Specialist (Complete Mage; ignore this if you're not specializing), Mage of the Arcane Order (Complete Arcane), Incantrix (Magic of Faerun; observe that this one is stupidly powerful in the right hands.
The 3.5 version of Incantatrix is in Player's Guide to Faerun. The one in Magic of Faerun was useful mostly as a way to abuse Spelldancer, if you'll recall.



Originally posted by samcifer:

Tempest_Stormwind wrote:I'm still looking up a lot of this (as I kind of gave up on 4e after the first PHB, and WotC uses its own subscription tools instead of open-sourcing the actual power descriptions), but from what I've gathered, there's a lot of overlap here - most are different flavors of "deal fire damage, plus a small extra effect (usually on a hit)", with a small number of support spells in the form of summons and dispels, and a small number of non-fire (presumably to deal with fire immunes - I don't know how common resistance or immunity is in 4e as a whole, but it's almost certainly less prevalent than in 3e - by design).

Just about any wizard build can pull something pretty close to this off without any hassle. Your individual spells are going to do more (i.e. Black Tentacles outdoes anything I've seen on that list in terms of controlling territory and locking down foes), but there will be less overlap (both between support/fire and between the individual fire effects).

There's a large amount (feats and magic items) invested into making sure your spells have a high attack bonus. In 3.5, the parallel would be your spell DC, and possibly your caster level (which should be boosted if at all possible anyway). If you have feats to burn and/or are looking for simplicity when you start out, getting basic DC-boosting feats (Spell Focus is school-limited, but if you have spell focus in both evocation and conjuration (all the fire spells are these two schools, except for a few niche ones in Transmutation), you'll qualify for Archmage later on with ease) would be a wise call. Note that the boosted DCs for the fire spells also apply to other spells from these schools, so they'll power up the save DCs for your non-fire spells to some degree as well. (The question is, of course, what those spells actually are.)

I'd also suggest the Firey Burst feat. It's not all that amazing, but as training wheels from 4e it will certainly help. It gives +1 caster level to all fire spells, and as long as you've got a fire spell prepared, the feat gives you an at-will supernatural ability to create fire blasts. The strength of those blasts depends on the strength of your strongest fire spell prepped. (If you cast that spell, the feat then looks for the next strongest, and so on.) If the importance of it being supernatural isn't clear, supernatural abilities don't provoke opportunity attacks when you use them, aren't vulnerable to counterspells (which admittedly are very rare), and most importantly, bypass all spell resistance. You'll still have to deal with energy resistance, but using this blast won't cost you spells and you'll learn if something resists right off.

EDIT: There's only one other reserve feat that strikes me as appropriate for your build, and it's Summon Elemental. The elemental you summon won't last all that long, but it will be available at will for a short duration. The fact that it's a supernatural ability is a distinct advantage here: those are only standard actions to do (unless they say otherwise, which Summon Elemental doesn't), while a typical summon spell takes your whole turn and the time from the end of your turn to the start of your next one to cast. This is of lower priority than any other feat I mention here, given the discussion in the thread, but I do think it would bear mentioning. (Also, since it's an at-will summon, you can easily use this to remotely set off traps. "That's a pressure plate that the rogue can't disarm. Stand back, summon an elemental, click *BOOM*, okay, moving on.)

The other major area I see in your build is a focus on knowing a LOT of different spells. You get this effect for free with the 3.5 wizard (buy multiple spellbooks and take the time to copy many new spells over whenever you get a moment or two to write; Boccob's Blessed Books in the DMG are wonderful investments for this. You can find new spells by finding or buying scrolls, looting spellbooks from enemy wizards (though they usually keep them somewhere other than the front lines), copying them out of friendly wizard's books (this is an easier proposition than decoding enemy spellbooks first, but obviously you have to do something to warrant payment of this kind) and by performing individual research during downtime even if you aren't gaining a level at the time), but you can kick it into overdrive with the Collegiate Wizard feat from Complete Arcane (it dramatically improves how many spells you start with and how many you learn at every level automatically). I don't know what the 4e tomes actually do (they appear to be places to hold extra spells, but I'm not sure how actually casting those spells works - they presumably don't need to be rotated back to you), but you're clearly used to lugging around a few extra books with you for more spells you learn along the way.

Those two feats together - Firey Burst + Collegiate Wizard - plus possible DC boosters gives you something very similar to your build, all things considered. You'll be right at home with this. (Don't worry too much about Spell Resistance - it isn't all that common early on, and you can learn True Casting (1st) or Assay Spell Resistance (4th) if you need to break it down. Spells like this make Spell Penetration generally speaking a poor feat.)

Other feats include Empower Spell and Split Ray (both metamagic; only take the latter if you really like rays), Knowledge Devotion (only if you really like rays - but it actually does a very good job with Scorching Ray in particular), and Craft Wondrous Item (if you have to pick one item creation feat, this is it; Craft Wand can be a close second). Feats that reduce the cost of metamagic feats (i.e. Arcane Thesis, Practical Metamagic) are generally good calls, but you don't need to worry too much about the game of monkeying with metamagic until you've got a few wizard levels under your belt.

In terms of prestige classes, I'd stick to the ones that are closest to "pure" wizardry. The short list for these is usually Master Specialist (Complete Mage; ignore this if you're not specializing), Mage of the Arcane Order (Complete Arcane), Incantrix (Player's Guide to Faerun; observe that this one is stupidly powerful in the right hands. Note as well that it requires more specialization, on top of being a specialist - you'd probably have to give up Enchantment by the time you qualify here. I wouldn't worry too much - Sleep will have long since lost its use, and more and more is immune to mind-affecting magic as you go up in levels, and the basic build you've suggested can almost entirely be captured in evocation, conjuration, transmutation and abjuration), and Archmage (DMG; it's not usually a must-have because the requirements are rough, but if you're grabbing the spell focus feats anyway...). Usually no one stays a single-classed Wizard past level 3 (if they're entering Master Specialist) or past level 5 (if they're entering almost anything else). Keep this in mind when you select your feats - plan out your prestige classes early, and make sure you get their prerequisites online early enough.

In terms of spells, the Holy Fire build I just posted (see my sig) hits almost all of the main ones, and it wasn't built to convert this at all. It's also a sorcerer, which involves a much more cautious spell selection.

Look at that build's fire spells, and the list of spells linked in my first reply, plus Dispel Magic / Sleep / Web (and a small number of new support spells, since you certainly will have more to choose from there than you did in 4e, both in terms of number and diversity. Examples: Dimension Door, Scrying, Mirror Image and/or Invisibility, any long-form communication effect, etc.). You'll get something pretty close (as long as you're using a lesser tiefling instead of the standard tiefling. The lesser one is identical to the standard tiefling, except its type is Humanoid (not native outsider) and its level adjustment is +0 (absolutely critical)), and can probably still kick ass. It'll just be a different style of kick from what you're used to - and you'll be able to do the metaphorical equivalent of throw punches or pull submission holds as well, when earlier all you could do was kick.

The only thing that I think isn't around in 3.5 is the simple no-nonsense Pyromancy School at expert. There's a handful of ways to bypass a small amount of energy resistance, but they're almost never worth the cost. You usually bypass energy resistance with Energy Substitution, but you can't apply that feat on the fly. Searing Spell is similar and fire-specific, but is again kind of costly for the effect. That's why Holy Fire went to Silver Pyromancer, which allows him to switch his fire spells over to use irresistable divine power (although if you're just interested in this one effect, a single level dip in Sanctified One of Kord would be similar; it's in Complete Champion, which really is a rather cheesy book all considered). This, however, is a far cry away from your theme.

The only real changes will be the shift from "per encounter" to learning to pace yourself over the course of the day, and realizing that the game rewards tactical choices that don't relate to damage. (You may be surprised, but after you set up some of your spells - i.e. Black Tentacles + Acid/Solid Fog, possibly splashing a wall of fire if you must - your best course of action is actually to stay clear and delay or ready actions as a troubleshooter. Your spells will continue to tick away on their durations and constantly tie up and slaughter enemies with no further spells spent on your part.) Learning these things can be a bit jarring coming from 4e (or rather, the 4e that I'm familiar with - let's be honest, it probably mutated a bit as more was published), which is why I really went overboard earlier with the browbeatings about damage spells being poor choices and so on.



EDIT-2: I said earlier that you could probably get something very similar using warlock. Having seen the build, I'm sure of it. Eldritch Glaive (optional), Eldritch Chain, Eldritch Cone; Brimstone Blast, Hellrime Blast; either of the dispel invocations; aim for Hellfire Warlock. This, right here, is alarmingly close in spirit and MUCH simpler to build and play than a full 3.5 wizard.

If you're feeling saucy, build both. You'll see what I mean.
My issue is that the Warlock just doesn't 'feel' right to me. The Warlock has a very odd 'flavor' to the desprition of how his powers work and look visually (as well as how he gets them), whereas the classic image of a Wizard or Sorcerer fits my mental image of what a spellcaster should be, both in the types of spells he has to use and how they are both described and how they work and look visually. My concern is that apparently my fire spells would be too weak to be of any practical use in combat at higher levels due to D&D purposely making Blaster spellcasters weak compaired to martial characters in the 3s, in order to force players to play Wizards in certain ways if they hope to survive in combat situations. That's my main issue with the game. The only way I can have a butt-kicking, flame-throwing Wizard that works well is to stick to 4th Ed. exclusively, if what I've been learning here works the way I think it does, based on the impressions I've gotten so far. If there aren't ways to improve the damage output of Spello's fire spells in the 3rd Ed.s, then he can'ty be played effectively the way I'm used to, forcing me to make a completely different type of Wizard if I hope to survive battles. If 5th Ed. plays too much like the 3s in terms of damage output from damaging spells, then I feel that it will hold little interest to me as I will be unable to make the character I want and have him be effective. It sounds like only certain types of characters, build in specific manners, can ever be real powerhouses in the 3s and perhaps in 5th as well. To me, that defeats the purpose of having a large variety of ways to create a character if only a limited number of builds are effectively able to survive encounters. I like 4th Ed. Wizards as you can make them in many more ways that are combat-effective, such as a Striker Wizard, which sounds like a poor and ineffective build in the 3s and 5th Ed.s.


Originally posted by samcifer:

Also, Warlocks don't have access to the Wizard/Sorcerer spell list.


Originally posted by Krusk:

Don't be so hung up on class names. Its a lot different than 4e, where your class is a huge portion of defining you. In 3.5 Its very common to see builds like "Fighter 2/Barbarian 1/Ranger 2/Horizon Walker 10/Something else 5" and the player will say "I'm basically a wandering barbairan from the frozen north" or "Wizard 5/Master specialist 3/Initiate of 7 fold veil 7/archmage 5" who says "Im THE best abjurer in the world".

If you play a warlock you could be a "Powerful mage devoted to blowing stuff up with fire".Who cares that your build is "Warlock 5/hellfirewarlock 3/warlock 12"

in 3.5 saying "I';m afighter" tells you literally nothing about someone's character, outside that the probably have some hit points. They could be a defensive specialist, a two handed destroyer, a master archer, a mounted knight, etc. And casters are even more varried.


Originally posted by Tempest_Stormwind:


samcifer wrote:My issue is that the Warlock just doesn't 'feel' right to me. The Warlock has a very odd 'flavor' to the desprition of how his powers work and look visually (as well as how he gets them),
Flavor is entirely mutable. Warlocks don't need to have dark pacts with fell beings to channel their powers. Whatever you view sorcerers as will work just fine for the warlock. Ditto for just about anyone who can use magic naturally.

Just because it has the same name as a class in 4e doesn't mean it's the same perception. In 3.5, since classes are components of a character instead of a path a character follows their whole life, class becomes a metagame construct(x) (that is, something only the player, and not the character or the world, is aware of).

I mentioned earlier that when I taught the game to a bunch of friends a while back, with pre-built characters, one of them played a sorceress. That sorceress was, mechanically, a warlock. I've also built warforged warlocks (a weird thing, I know) described as living wands, with their power descriptions altered accordingly.

In terms of the non-warlock examples, from the thread I linked above, this is perhaps my favorite example ever(x). There's also every character I've ever played, more or less. I mentioned my hexblade earlier here, for instance, and all of his spells have had their descriptions altered to fit the "dark power" theme (i.e. Tasha's Hideous Laughter became Dread Seizure, Distract Assailant became Fatal Distraction, and so on). At no point were any rules changed - just the description.

It's actually rather liberating, as the game rules become a canvas for expression rather than a bunch of canned abilities that can't ever be twisted. You start to see other ways that a particular effect could be seen in the same world.

My concern is that apparently my fire spells would be too weak to be of any practical use in combat at higher levels due to D&D purposely making Blaster spellcasters weak compaired to martial characters in the 3s, in order to force players to play Wizards in certain ways if they hope to survive in combat situations. That's my main issue with the game. The only way I can have a butt-kicking, flame-throwing Wizard that works well is to stick to 4th Ed. exclusively, if what I've been learning here works the way I think it does, based on the impressions I've gotten so far. If there aren't ways to improve the damage output of Spello's fire spells in the 3rd Ed.s, then he can'ty be played effectively the way I'm used to, forcing me to make a completely different type of Wizard if I hope to survive battles.
I did say that I was being rather hyperbolic and exaggerated earlier, didn't I?

Damage is generally sub-par, but that doesn't mean it's unusable unless you've got a DM who's pulling out all the stops. A standard game beyond about level 7 or so will not be effective with damage spells on their own, but that's also around the point where metamagic and spell combos start showing up with any real frequency. Metamagic and proper support spells go a long way towards making damage actually competitive.

And note that those metamagic and support spells allow you to get around most forms of energy resistance too, to a greater or lesser extent.

The bigger point here is that in 3.5, there's many more avenues of attack than simply depleting a monster's HP - damage is just one means to an end, specificaly one of many ways to defeat a monster. (This became a MUCH different question in my experiences with 4e, where just about everything relates back to hit points eventually - until depleting HP became an end unto itself, rather than a means to an end, and eventually became the only means to that end!). So while you can throw around damage in 3.5 just fine, the underlying assumptions of the game have changed. In 4e, it was all about the damage. In 3.5, it's all about winning. Damage makes winning possible, certainly, but you can also use spells that flat-out win.

(Here's another way to put it. Most of the spells I looked up on your wizard deal damage and have a small secondary effect. You're looking at them because they deal damage, because that's the important thing in 4e. In 3.5, the secondary effect is more important than the damage.)

The reason I was hyperbolic was to try to break this mould. That's all. I wasn't saying "don't ever do it". I was just saying "You can't go about this blindly" and then tried an eye-opener.

If damage mages were completely unusable in 3.5, I wouldn't have put together that earlier post showing exactly where to look to find parallels for your build, now, would I?

It sounds like only certain types of characters, build in specific manners, can ever be real powerhouses in the 3s and perhaps in 5th as well. To me, that defeats the purpose of having a large variety of ways to create a character if only a limited number of builds are effectively able to survive encounters. I like 4th Ed. Wizards as you can make them in many more ways that are combat-effective, such as a Striker Wizard, which sounds like a poor and ineffective build in the 3s and 5th Ed.s.
I actually laughed out loud at this - in my experience, 4th is markedly more limited than 3.5 on this front, partly because of its tunnel-vision take on damage, and partly because it absolutely forces you to see things in terms of Defender / Striker / Leader / Controller.

Above, I linked to my favorite example of reflavoring. In that same reply,(x) I include a small piece I've written on the difference between a "role" and a "responsibility" in this context. In 4e, the responsibilities were shoehorned into the different roles, and you had immense trouble shuffling that around. You could, if you were skilled, take a class and play it as a different role, but you could pretty much never create your own role, fulfilling your own vision on how to play. (I really dislike the WoW comparison, but this is one area that really does line up: Your typical MMO party needs a tank, a healer, and a DPS role, and you simply can't deviate from that if you want to survive; you also cannot add a new one unless the game creates it for you (say, the mezzer).). Just go ahead and try to deal enough damage to win Encounters without a Striker on your team, for instance - the answer won't be "someone else can pick up the damage", but instead "Someone should have played a striker".

Meanwhile, what 3e did - which was one of its biggest selling points for me, as this was not present in earlier editions - was that it viewed class as a component of your character, instead of a fixed path. As a result, it left roles behind, and instead realized that there are required responsibilities to fill. So long as you're able to meet those responsibilities, it didn't matter how you were doing that. This allowed for wonderfully creative characters and diverse parties. In fact, in all of the games I've played, only one comes close to the "fighter/cleric/wizard/thief" distribution, and we aren't playing that game in a traditional sense (that is, while we have the four classic "roles" and the four classic "classes", they don't match up - the 'cleric' does the wizard's job, the mage does the fighter's job, and so on).

RadicalTaoist put a wonderful piece together on this here(x), which also discusses a few of the parties in question and solicited responses from the community on different party compositions, if you don't believe me.


EDIT:


samcifer wrote:Also, Warlocks don't have access to the Wizard/Sorcerer spell list.
Part of the reason the game breaks is because of how powerful that list is. Honestly, that list is also the reason the handbook is as huge as it is!

And, interestingly, warlocks do get access to it. Did you see how they can take 10 on Use Magic Device? That means they can wield any wand or staff they find reliably, as if they were a wizard, as soon as they put a few ranks in the skill (i..e. by the time wands become common loot, they'll be able to consistently hit the DC to trigger wands.)

Warlocks even go one step further at 12th level, with the ability to create such wands or staffs of any spell they wish, including the entire sorcerer/wizard list. The Hellfire Warlock can even use metamagic on these item-bound spells, to a point.

Krusk wrote:If you play a warlock you could be a "Powerful mage devoted to blowing stuff up with fire".Who cares that your build is "Warlock 5/hellfirewarlock 3/warlock 12"
Seconding everything Krusk said, but pointing out a slight mistake: Hellfire Warlock requires 12 ranks in some skills, meaning it can't be taken until your 10th level (you need level 9 to have 12 ranks in any skill in the first place, and must qualify before taking levels in hellfire warlock.)
 

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