Would You Rather Maintain Campaign Theme or Win?

Pedantic

Legend
So you're saying the game has no mechanical or setting level thematic constraints on what wizards are like and mechanical incentives to use specific spells? In that scenario, one wonders what claim to thematic appropriateness the "classic" wizard archetype you're suggesting has. If you want wizards to use Fire, then limit their access to other abilities and/or make Fire a strongly incentivized choice. If you don't want to do either of those things, then I'm not seeing a dilemma in the first place.

What is the good the player is supposed to be serving by making these choices? The structure of this question implied this was something other than "do you always pick the most mechanically effective option." If the designer wants variety in Wizard choices, they need to present multiple effective options with incomparable or situational effectiveness. If the design wants a thematic core of Wizard abilities, they need to design the class thus to either exclusively or preferentially present those abilities. If the GM wants to use an existing design to those ends, they're taking on design work, even if that design work is as straightforward as prescribing a specific set of spells for Wizards to use.

If those aren't concerns, then this isn't a problem.
 

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Snarf Zagyg

Notorious Liquefactionist
Supporter
I'm not clear on what you mean by "campaign theme," but I will choose staying on character theme over optimizing 100% of the time (not that they are always or even often in conflict, but when they are).

This is exactly the way I approach it.

To me, character theme always trumps optimization. I put the character together (and make choices) depending on what makes sense for the character. Within that, I try to fit the character within the "campaign theme" as I understand it.

I just don't have enough information from the OP to really understand the question, though, as I can't understand what the campaign theme really is, or why "fire" is more of a campaign theme than "stun."
 

James Gasik

We don't talk about Pun-Pun
Tell me if I'm wrong, but the way I'm understanding this is, let's say my character is TEH ICE WIZZARD (the Blizzard Wizzard, if you will). I ONLY CAST ICE! All of my spells are cold themed- "My magic missiles are razor sharp homing icicles!").

Now, upon leveling up, I have the choice between a mediocre ice spell (sadly, in real D&D, that's most ice spells) and an awesome fire spell (second verse, same as the first). If I stay on theme, I'm going to be performing worse than if I had made the sacrifice of flavor vs. power. If I don't, I'm more versatile and more powerful.

Generally, if I want to be a themed character, I want to stick with that theme, obviously. But not all themes are well supported. At some point I would ask my DM if I could learn "freezing orb" instead of fireball or something like that (one of the few cool things in the Wizard playtest is the ability to do just this!).

But assuming they aren't on board with this (for whatever reason), or they can't do it (public play), generally what I do is quietly retire the character because their concept isn't working. I'm perfectly capable of not optimizing, and having fun with lower power options, but often, I worry about pulling my weight in the party, and if I don't think I'm doing that, I'll ask about changing characters.

As an aside, I think this is actually something we lost when specialization stopped meaning anything for most casters; it's a lot of fun to be like "ok, so I'm an Enchanter, what can I do without boom boom magic?". But now, there's no reason for even an Enchanter to not stock a fireball just in case. I miss some of the radically limited specialists in 2e like the Elementalist Wizards (had an Air Wizard once, all I can say, good thing I could use Fire as well!) or the Dualists from the Cormanthyr book (you specialize in 2 opposed schools of magic and can cast basically nothing else. My highest level 2e Wizard is an Enchanter/Invoker and making do with a limited color pallet, so to speak, is a fascinating process).
 


I haven't played a 5e bard, and I'm somehow disappointed that they're allowed to cast fireball. If I played one, he would stick to the psychic damage spell, attributed to his lute-rendition of Pathetique.
5e bards can learn a handful of spells from any other class. I have Banish, Counterspell, Summon Undead, Find Greater Steed, Fireball and Wall of Stone. Though I will give up Summon Undead when the cleric can resurrect my dead friends.
 

GMMichael

Guide of Modos
I just don't have enough information from the OP to really understand the question, though, as I can't understand what the campaign theme really is, or why "fire" is more of a campaign theme than "stun."
Campaign theme could be "Lord of the Rings," in which hobbits don't use magic, wizards are demi-gods, and elves, apparently, do whatever they want. It seems, however, that the rules allow halflings to use wizards-staves. Do you go for it?

Or "supernatural World War Two" in which most characters are supposed to be firearm-wielding soldiers. You discover that you can unlock a psychic blast power (if you take the right perquisites), and use it more effectively than your machine gun, despite the game not being X-men themed.

So, the material component of Stun just became a slice of pineapple pizza? :)
Pineapple pizza should be a cursed item, not a material component.
 

Darth Solo

Explorer
In this context there's an important difference between the player's metagame decision at chargen time to build or not build a character capable of spamming Stun, vs. the character's decision (as roleplayed by the player from the character's perspective) at game time to take advantage of their own ability to spam stun.

Thematics are not relevant to the latter. If you can do it and it's advantageous, do it.

Thematics could be important to the former.
I think theme is most important but it spreads: game/story, setting and character can all have different themes, each one having something else to reveal to the audience/participants. I'd argue escaping some level of theme is very difficult but not impossible.

My use of the term "theme" here relates to "what something is about" and/or "the central concept".

The difference of how theme manifests in TTRPGs opposed to writing is the writer holds full authority over their story/theme, while with TTRPGs the GM shares story-creation with the players, who can alter macro/micro-thematic concepts with their characters.
 

I think theme is most important but it spreads: game/story, setting and character can all have different themes, each one having something else to reveal to the audience/participants. I'd argue escaping some level of theme is very difficult but not impossible.

My use of the term "theme" here relates to "what something is about" and/or "the central concept".

The difference of how theme manifests in TTRPGs opposed to writing is the writer holds full authority over their story/theme, while with TTRPGs the GM shares story-creation with the players, who can alter macro/micro-thematic concepts with their characters.
I understand where you're coming from but I'm just answering the OP's question: to me, theme is only relevant at the metagame level. My gametime decisions would be made entirely in character, which means they'd be based on what best-accomplishes the character's goals (staying alive is a primary consideration though not the only consideration), not on theme.
 

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