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


log in or register to remove this ad


Voadam

Legend
It is definitely A KEY PART of early D&D editions to just ACCEPT that characters will die - even when the DM takes multiple steps to reduce deadliness, and even when it's experienced players who always make good decisions. Characters WILL die.
Just reading the sample descriptions of play, the thief Black Dougal plays his role as the trapchecer, thinks to check for traps on a chest, fails the roll and dies from the trap going off. In the fight the dwarf plays their role as a front line warrior in the group's combat and just gets hit and dies. Doing everything right death from rolls was easy to hit you.
Change that to absolutely prevent any PC death if you insist - but that WASN'T how it was intended/expected to work, and overwhelmingly (IME) wasn't something that players were even complaining about at the time.
Experiences vary. The casual high risk of death from rolls was a not as fun part of the game for a bunch in my experience.
It's not until LATER editions surfaced that players really started to come at the game with that... sense of entitlement. At the time it was just part of playing the game until PC's advanced out of the first few levels - and EVEN THEN nobody was so foolish as to expect that they were now guaranteed any particular measure of survival.
B/X Expert set levels 4-14 was quickly a very different mechanical situation for survival and combat than Basic levels 1-3. Poison could still ruin your day on a single roll, but combat changed to generally expecting to survive multiple rounds rather than risking being one shotted every attack. Also increased caster options and impacts.
 

Dannyalcatraz

Schmoderator
Staff member
Supporter
Nothing stops the Thief or MU character from physically donning a siut of plate, but if either hope to use any of their class abilities while in in they're flat out'a luck.
And I’ve done precisely that, in more than one edition. Hell, I designed and played a 3.5Ed “mage-brute” Sorcerer who wore scale mail from 1st level. Most of his spells had no somatic components so ASF was not an issue.

Shtick: he contributed in combat by using his maul (not a typo) or channeling spell energy into his breath weapon (lightning). The campaign ended before he qualified for any reserve feats.
 

thirdkingdom

Hero
Publisher
And I’ve done precisely that, in more than one edition. Hell, I designed and played a 3.5Ed “mage-brute” Sorcerer who wore scale mail from 1st level. Most of his spells had no somatic components so ASF was not an issue.

Shtick: he contributed in combat by using his maul (not a typo) or channeling spell energy into his breath weapon (lightning). The campaign ended before he qualified for any reserve feats.

That's kinda what the illusionist did in the Arden Vul AP. He lost his spellbook and couldn't cast any spells, so he just put on some armor.
 

Yora

Legend
A first level wizard is not a spellcaster. It's a scholar accompanying an expedition of ruin explorers and treasure hunters. And as you advance through the lower levels, you might even cast the occasional utility spell that helps with negating obstacles in the path of the expedition, and you'll be the person in charge of handling the scrolls and wands the party comes across.
By 5th level you can start thinking about participating in combat, but probably won't have much to contribute until 7th level and higher.
Draw your 11.99999 inch dagger and attack.
That's 11 and 999 thousands of an inch, you metric heathen!
 

Celebrim

Legend
So, dirty secret. In no edition of D&D, 1e AD&D through to 3e D&D, in 40 years of gaming have I ever seen a single classed M/U or Wizard survive past 6th level. I hear about how broken the class can be, and maybe it can, but I find as a DM the darn things are just two squishy. Sooner or later something comes along they aren't prepared for and they go "Splat!"

So the answer is, "I don't." In 1e AD&D I would start with a fighter specialized in dart and take it up to like 5th level, then dual class into M/U. Or, if I didn't quite have the stats for that I'd play a multiclass elven thief/M-U.

In third edition I'd start with fighter as well for like a 2 level dip, then switch into Wizard and maybe eventually into a prestige class. Is it optimal in the long run? No. But frankly, as DM I've squished so many players trying to single class in Wizard or Sorcerer that I'd never go that route as a player ever. The extra hit points aren't just nice, they are essential.

As for how you play, in 1e AD&D without a DM being merciful and giving you wands to flick, it's pretty darn boring. You are bad at everything, and you have few combat options. Spend all your spell slots on wide area of attack spells like sleep and web, stay behind the meat shields, touch nothing, and toss darts.

3e things get better because you get a few more spells per day and you are proficient with more weapons, but the general strategy is the same.

You start getting meaningful power at around 7th level, but like I said, if you go straight at it you'll never make it IME. I can only assume that tales of players that have level up straight from 1st level as single classed Wizards or M-U's are either apocryphal or else they had much gentler GMs than I am or I'm used to.
 

Celebrim

Legend
Non-prof penalties are RAW, and listed in the PH. For a MU it's -5 to hit. We always assumed it applied to any weapon the character picked up regardless of class etc., using the logic that says any idiot can pick up any weapon and try to use it but won't know what they're doing.

A wizard can put on plate and wield a sword, but at the end of the adventure they'll gain no XP for doing so.
 

Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Non-prof penalties are RAW, and listed in the PH. For a MU it's -5 to hit. We always assumed it applied to any weapon the character picked up regardless of class etc., using the logic that says any idiot can pick up any weapon and try to use it but won't know what they're doing.

This is ... interesting, as it's another one of those examples of how people tended to just "wing it."

The rules are clear in 1e.

A character can only use the armors and weapons permitted by their class. PERIOD.

Among those weapons, they can wield weapons in which they are proficient with no penalty, and weapons that they are allowed (but not proficient) with a penalty.

Character Classes Table II provides the quick list of those weapons that you can use per class.
The Weapon Proficiency Table tells you the initial number of allowable weapons you are proficient in, and the rate that you gain proficiencies.


So, for example, the Magic User-
Allowable Weapons: Dagger, Dart, Staff
At level 1, you get to choose one (1) weapon to be proficient at.
You gain a proficiency every six (6) levels.
So Futzwizz, the Ungainly, starts at level 1 and chooses the staff.
At level 7, he adds a proficiency in darts.
At level 13, he adds a proficiency in his final weapon, the dagger.
And that's it.

This was always well-known, but did cause some ... edge issues. See, e.g., Dragon #56 Sage Advice:

Q. A bard is limited to the use of certain weapons. However, is it possible for a bard to use a weapon he was previously trained in (for instance, a bow), perhaps with a penalty involved?

A. Again, this is a matter simply resolved by realizing the Players Handbook means what it says. No, bards cannot use bows, because that weapon does not appear in the list of weapons permitted to the class. A character who intends to become a bard should make a point of gaining proficiency with at least some of the weapons usable by a bard, in addition to skills with weapons (such as the bow) which the character might prefer to employ during his tenure as a fighter. A bard-to-be might wisely decide to become proficient with bow and arrow, to improve his chances of surviving during his fighter phase. But the use of that weapon is prohibited when the character switches to the thief class, and it can never again be legally employed before or after the character actually becomes a bard.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
A first level wizard is not a spellcaster. It's a scholar accompanying an expedition of ruin explorers and treasure hunters. And as you advance through the lower levels, you might even cast the occasional utility spell that helps with negating obstacles in the path of the expedition, and you'll be the person in charge of handling the scrolls and wands the party comes across.
By 5th level you can start thinking about participating in combat, but probably won't have much to contribute until 7th level and higher.
This feels like a recipe for no one actually leveling up a magic-user.
 

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top