Sunday, May 1, 2016

ACKS: Wizardry

I recently read A Wizard of Earthsea, and to my surprise quite enjoyed it.  It did get me thinking about the vast gulf between wizards in fiction and wizards in D&D, however.  This led to the Axioms rules for magic-type construction calling my name, and in turn to reflection on the strange fact that Warlocks, despite being nominally casters who traded safety for power, are in fact pretty substantially weaker than straight mages.

So I guess I'm going to propose a fix for that.  Today, wizardry.  To follow, sorcery.

If your solution to a world-threatening evil is to dispatch some hobbits, sit back, and have a smoke, you might be a wizard.
Wizards in fiction are not, as a rule, noted for their love of explosions.  Knowledge is the wizard's stock in trade (hence the name - wizard as in "one who is wise").  The following custom spellcasting type reflects a preference for solutions involving turning people into newts or summoning giant eagles.  Something about "Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgement. For even the very wise cannot see all ends."

Wizardry spell type modifiers (these are multipliers on spell point costs for a particular spell type, so higher is worse; 1 is the best possible, 2.25 is the worst possible):
  • Blast: 2.25 (same as Divine)
  • Death: 2 (much worse than Arcane or Divine)
  • Detection: 1 (best)
  • Enchantment: 1 (best)
  • Healing: 1 (same as Divine)
  • Illusion: 1 (same as Arcane)
  • Movement: 1.3 (slightly worse than Divine)
  • Protection: 1 (same as Arcane and Divine)
  • Summoning: 1 (same as Arcane)
  • Transmogrification: 1 (same as Arcane)
  • Wall: 1.5 (same as Divine, considering an exception for simple fog)
Source factor total is 14.05, base XP 975 (me, abusing breakpoints in a design system?  Well I never!  It's for a good cause, though.  Honest.  And pushing it over the threshold wouldn't make that much difference to the following class anyway)

Wizardry is a Studious magic system; wizards record spell formulae in spellbooks just as mages do, gain bonus repertoire slots for high Intelligence, and so forth.  It uses the Standard spell progression, can be had at half caster level for 1 build point and 490 XP, full for 2 build points and 975 XP, 133% spells per day for 3 build points and 1950 XP, or 150% spells per day for 4 build points and 3900 XP.  Wizardly casters may begin researching spells, scribing scrolls, and brewing potions at 5th level, create crossbreeds and permanent magic items at 9th, and ritual spells at 11th.  Classes whose dominant build value is wizardly casting save as clerics (I think?), gain a class proficiency every four levels, may use clerical (but not mage) magic items, gain one level per 100,000 XP after 9th, and nominally are supposed to have Int and Wis as prime reqs, which is mostly pretty reasonable but if I'm getting rid of Mage and Cleric (as I intend to), I'd really prefer to have single-req main caster classes.  The plan is for Wizard to use Int and Sorcerer to use Wis, for reasons to be discussed more next post.

So!

Wizard
Prime req: Intelligence (and maybe Wisdom)
Requirements: None
HD: 1d6
Max level: 14

Wizards (and witches, their female counterparts) are careful, methodical spellcasters who derive their power from their knowledge of the Language of Creation.  Knowing that all magic has consequences, they are cautious about using theirs towards evil ends.
But you must not change one thing, one pebble, one grain of sand, until you know what good and evil will follow on that act. The world is in balance, in Equilibrium. A wizard's power of Changing and Summoning can shake the balance of the world. It is dangerous, that power...It must follow knowledge, and serve need.
As there are some problems that are best solved without magic, wizards engage in some limited combat training.  They advance in attack throws at a rate of 2 points per 4 levels, and are proficient with darts, nets, slings, staves, saps, daggers, swords, and either spear or crossbow (chosen at character creation).  They do not, however, wear armor or use shields.  They may fight with a one-handed weapon held in two hands for 1d8 damage, but may not fight with two weapons.  They may cleave once per round per two levels of experience, though this rarely happens in practice.  Wizards save as clerics of their level, and gain class proficiencies every four levels.

Wizards share an irritating habit for cryptic musings, which occasionally bear some seed of truth (as the Prophecy proficiency).

Wizards live far longer than normal men, and are immune to ghoul paralysis (as Elven Bloodline).  While they claim that this is due to good clean living, their detractors theorize that they sustain themselves on smugness, moral superiority, and the blood of innocent hobbits.

Wizards are well-known for their Loremastery, and most have some familiarity with Healing and the uses of herbs.  All wizards can also sense magical power, as the proficiency.

Wizards cast spells in pretty much the same way as mages, with a repertoire and bonus spells from Int and all that rot, except that some spells are different levels or unavailable to them.  Notably, Blast and Death spells are cast at twice their normal Mage level (so Magic Missile is a 2nd level wizard spell, and Dismember is 6th), Wall spells are cast at one-and-a-half times their normal level (Web -> 3rd level is the most notable change), and Movement spells (such as Teleport, Haste, and Fly) are cast at about 4/3s of their normal level.  Healing spells, however, are available at their Clerical spell level (eg, Cure Light Wounds and Salving rest are both 1st-level wizard spells), and Enchantment and Detection spells are better than either Mage or Cleric.  If I were to field this in actual play, I'd probably want to roll some custom higher-level Enchantment, Detection, and Protection spells, as well as more Summons.

Anyway, we end up with a spellcaster who can potentially cast Sleep and/or Cure Light Wounds at 1st level, which is nice.  Compared to a Mage, they level faster, are somewhat tougher, and can't Blast but can Heal.  Compared to a Cleric, they're squishier, level more slowly, and can enchant, detect, summon, &c, but are limited by their repertoire slots.

Honestly working out all the spells at precise new levels is probably too much work (I guess I could write a script...).  In practice, could probably just remove all Blast, Death, Wall, and Movement spells, and then take lowest level of Cleric and Mage and get pretty close.  A sample spell list via this method to roll random repertoire spells on might look something like this:

1st:
  1. Charm Person
  2. Cure Light Wounds
  3. Detect Evil
  4. Detect Magic
  5. Light
  6. Protection from Evil
  7. Read Languages 
  8. Remove Fear
  9. Salving Rest
  10. Sanctuary 
  11. Shield
  12. Sleep
2nd:
  1. Augury 
  2. Bless
  3. Continual Light
  4. Delay Poison
  5. Detect Invisible
  6. ESP
  7. Find Traps
  8. Invisibility
  9. Knock
  10. Locate Object
  11. Mirror Image
  12. Wizard Lock
3rd:
  1. Clairvoyance (if not sooner) 
  2. Command Person
  3. Cure Disease
  4. Dispel Magic
  5. Infravision
  6. Invisibility, 10' radius
  7. Protection from Evil, Sustained
  8. Protection from Normal Missiles
  9. Remove or Bestow Curse 
  10. Speak with Dead
  11. Skinchange
  12. Striking 
4th:
  1. Charm Monster
  2. Cure Serious Wounds
  3. Divination
  4. Fear
  5. Hallucinatory Terrain / Massmorph
  6. Minor Globe of Invulnerability
  7. Polymorph Other
  8. Polymorph Self
  9. Scry
  10. Spirit of Healing
  11. Summon Fantastic Creature
  12. Tongues
5th:
  1. Atonement?
  2. Commune
  3. Conjure Elemental
  4. Curse of Swine 
  5. Feeblemind
  6. Hold Monster
  7. Panic
  8. Protection from Normal Weapons
  9. Restore Life and Limb
  10. Strength of Mind
  11. True Seeing
  12. X-Ray Vision
6th:
  1. Anti-Magic Shell
  2. Control Plants
  3. Control Weather
  4. Detect Ritual Magic (probably at a lower level than this, actually)
  5. Enslave (possibly earlier than 6th)
  6. Fireball?
  7. Geas (possibly earlier than 6th)
  8. Globe of Invulnerability
  9. Summon Djinni
  10. Stone to Flesh
  11. ???
  12. ???
XP to 2nd level: 1975.  Pleasingly close to Fighter, though between the different spell availability progression (which means RL&L isn't available until 9th) and the higher XP than cleric, getting raised is going to be harder than usual.  That's probably OK, though.

Class proficiencies (28):
  1. Alchemy
  2. Battle Magic
  3. Beast Friendship
  4. Collegiate Wizardry
  5. Command
  6. Craft
  7. Diplomacy
  8. Divine Blessing
  9. Divine Health
  10. Familiar
  11. Healing
  12. Illusion Resistance
  13. Knowledge
  14. Language
  15. Laying on Hands
  16. Leadership
  17. Magical Engineering
  18. Mapping
  19. Mystic Aura
  20. Naturalism
  21. Navigation
  22. Quiet Magic
  23. Performance
  24. Prestidigitation
  25. Profession
  26. Sensing Evil
  27. Transmogrification
  28. Unflappable Casting
Closing thoughts: I guess the class to compare against might be Witch?  They level at a similar rate, have a similar selection of spells, aren't as combat-capable, have a similar number of class-bonus abilities from their traditions (although spread out over more levels), and get more but lower-level spells (but earlier access to 4th and 5th-level spells).  Witch seems to me probably weaker at low levels (because their 1st-level spells don't include Sleep and many of their tradition abilities haven't kicked in yet), stronger in the mid-levels when they're first getting their 4th and 5th-level spells at 2/day, and maybe just different at the high levels.  On the other hand, Witch also isn't limited by repertoire - any witch spell, any time, any where.  Further, last campaign Witch was (if I recall correctly) considered a henchman-tier class.  Finally, I am not averse to rewarding players who think with something other than swords and fire (there is a distinct possibility, though, that "strong at direct damage" is, in fact, the secret criterion for "PC-tier", and having stronger non-damage classes won't change that if it's true).

Anyway.  If you thought this was overpowered, wait 'til next post.

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