Tuesday, August 19, 2014

5th Edition Wizards: I might learn to stop worrying and love the wizard

So the new 5th edition wizard has been stuck in my craw for a while. Basically since forever. But I finally sat down with the wizard and really took a look: it might not be as bad or nonsensical as I thought. I feel like the 5th Edition wizard has lost his position as king of magic a bit. But maybe its not quite as bad as I thought.

First, in terms of number of spells they can prepare: they seem to get Int Modifier + level. This is on par with Clerics or Druids who get Wis Modifier + level + domain / circle of the land spells. That's 10 more spells prepared for the cleric or druid than the wizard. Wizards don't even get one bonus spell of their specialty or anything. However. In older editions of D&D, clerics did get bonus spells for wisdom while wizards got squat. So this isn't necessarily something unique. Plus wizards do get a ritual casting bonus: they can cast spells in their books as rituals, others can only cast spells they have prepared. So the wizard does potentially have up to 17 rituals in addition to what they have prepared. Not a huge bonus, but its something. And easy to over look.

Second, wizards don't get those nifty bonus spells for their specialty. So an Enchanter can prep 100% necromancy spells. But looking at the School of magic features, most of them actually do refer specifically to the specialty school. Not all of them mind you, so Enchanters get some stupid spell-like power, and evokers get a bad/useless potent cantrip feature that seems to affect all their attack cantrips, and necromancers all gain power from killing their enemies (though they get a little more for using Necromancy spells). But. Many of these powers are thematic (if not useful/awesome) and do key off casting spells of their specialty. So there is some incentive for a wizard to prep a few important spells of their school.

Now, there's still some issues. I think a lot of spells (and other powers) are assertive in their writing, and this might limit people's choices. For example, Prestidigitation, Thaumaturgy, and Druidcraft all have a little set of bullet points which spell out pretty well all the things the spells can do. Maybe that helps with organized play and many DMs might let more creative things happen, but by the book those spells are pretty lame/limited. Ray of Frost focuses on the damage it does and slowing enemies, but I really hope that if a dungeon has a wet floor ray of frost could freeze it. I also really hope that the DMG has guidelines for adjudicating cantrips.

What I'm saying is maybe the sky isn't falling. Though it isn't as easy to adapt old settings or do some more radical homebrew as second edition and earlier.

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