OSR Old school wizards, how do you play level 1?

Tony Vargas

Legend
Well, one of the spells was The Excellent Prismatic Spray, so...
I mean, it'd've been cool if D&D had something closer to spell points but for memorization, so you could, indeed, memorize a small number of very powerful spells (for your level) or a few more if you only memorized 'lesser' spells. But it went with a sort of 'pyramid' affair where you got more spells of every prior level as you advanced, giving you just huge numbers of spells at higher level.

Thus, coincidentally, briefly back on topic, you have first level wizards with 1 spell (or in 5e, 2 and recover 1 on a short rest, so 3, actually), wonder WTF they're supposed to do all day, while at 4th you have 6, like Mizirian, 7th, 10, like, IIRC, the greatest Dying Earth mages of all time, 18 spells/day at name level, and once you get a 9th level spell, 34 spells/day!
...and, then, on top of that, you'll be accumlating magic items, like 100-charge wands, or various 3/day this or that....
...yet, at the same time, in a living/naturalistic world, there will be many, many more encounters waiting out there for low-level parties to tackle than mid level, let alone name-level, and high level challenges would logically be very few and far between - the opposite of the resources/level dynamic.
 

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Riley

Legend
Yup. I would definitely allow researching new versions, but I wouldn't allow them to be functional duplicates. They'd need to be meaningfully different in some way. Maybe "Mannahnin's Magic Arrow" does d6+1 at first level vs Magic Missile's d4+1, but it won't give you multiple arrows at higher levels, as opposed to Magic Missile.

…. I could see individual casters having different "color"/visual and sensory tweaks in their spells, but I wouldn't want the "sufficiently different" threshold too low.

You have neatly captured the essence of many now-40-year-old discussions!
 


GreyLord

Legend
Another thing for the Magic-User to do...

Someone needs to hold the torch...and the 10 foot pole...and the reins for the horses...and...well...we've already given them one more item to hold than they have hands...I guess they are using their teeth to hold the reins already...so much for casting their one spell!
 


Vaslov

Explorer
I am in an OSE game playing a single class human magic user. For this thread let's call him Gamble. Limited to dagger and staff for proficient weapons. Gamble also has a CON penalty so he is a wet tissue paper in a blender if he gets into combat. For Gamble goal number one is be no where near combat if he can help it. Pretty much similar to what I recall from my D&D days back in the early 80s.

As the game started Gamble hired a retainer so I could participate in combat. We were playing a well known OSE starter adventure which at the dungeon entrance has a ladder which we found out the hard way took a roll to go down without falling, with modifiers based on the armor worn. My retainer failed the roll, fell, and rolled max fall damage resulting in his death. At the front door. No monsters. A slippery ladder. That was Gamble's first moment of the first adventure. Gamble realized everything was going to kill him. The party tied off a rope to get down the ladder and pushed on.

Generally Gamble stayed near the back of the formation. Another player was a ranger and wanted the rear slot so Gamble held a torch and pointed out at things. We rolled for starting spells and none of what Gamble had would help in combat. Gamble's one prepared spell, Detect Magic, was used in a room with a magic circle which he took a lead on explaining (poorly).

Later on the team made was I considered a bad idea. In a new area they decided to bash a door down they wanted through. On the other side there was a horrid odor. The Ranger and Gamble held back as the others pressed into the room cautiously. They watched an ambush by troglodytes with their 3 attacks a round and odor causing other issues eliminated the rest of the party. Gamble and the Ranger fled the dungeon, never to return.

Going forward Gamble would sit in the rear and hope the DM forgets about him during combat. Make suggestions and work on puzzles that all players can contribute to. At some point during 2nd level Gamble found the sleep spell and went from the guy no one in the party knew why he was there to the super killer twice a day in the right circumstances. The only other combat effective moment for the character in the entire campaign so far is he handed his staff to a pc knight fighting a skeleton.

Gamble is now 3rd level and rocking a powerful 7hp max. He only has 3 spells a day, and only recently found a 2nd level spell to learn. I am convinced the character will die the first time the DM uses an AOE damaging spell. Is he a powerful character that can hold his own? Nope. Pretty sure an angry, 3 legged house cat could take him out. Rarely is Gamble's magic the thing that solves a problem faced by the team. In fact more often than not it is irrelevant. The character is not a power fantasy by any means. Am I having fun? Sure. Lots of sweet childhood memories and playing games with my friends is generally fun. OSE has all the pros and cons of early D&D. Nothing there has changed.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Another thing for the Magic-User to do...

Someone needs to hold the torch...and the 10 foot pole...and the reins for the horses...and...well...we've already given them one more item to hold than they have hands...I guess they are using their teeth to hold the reins already...so much for casting their one spell!
Someone needs to train those horses better. Let the Wizard hold the reins while the HORSES hold the pole & torch… well, a lantern would probably be safer.

 


Geekrampage

Explorer
The wizard's player in our OSE campaign (3d6 in order) says he has two jobs:

1. To buy stuff for the other player characters.
2. He has a Macro in Foundry that says "Rah! Rah! Siss-boom-bah! Go team!"
 

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