Much like all of you, I’ve been following the recent Legends and Lore columns with some interest. As Mike Mearls has made his way through the various classes, I’ve been panning for gold in each article. Up until now, I’ve been rather disappointed — basically, they want a fighter to work like a fighter, a cleric to work like a cleric, and so on. Crunchy bits have been few, and it felt like a lot of what we’d already heard previously.
Not so this week’s column on the wizard. Maybe it’s because the playtest is getting so close, but Mearls actually reveals a fair amount of detail concerning the wizard we’re going to see next week. You’ll probably want to read the whole article, but here are my thoughts on the crunchier bits.
First, we get more detail on the idea that wizards will have multiple At-Will powers. Apparently, they will be based on what are currently cantrips, along with ” some nifty attack and utility spells”; presumably, one of these will be the magic bolt / basic ranged magic attack we’ve heard about previously. I love this idea. One thing about wizards in film and literature is that they always seem to have a little spell handy. A wizard doesn’t need a candle, for he’s never without a Light spell!
Second, the column tells us that wizards will have fewer spell slots, as a balance against the At-Wills.This makes absolute sense. Lots of little tricks up his sleeve, but fewer big-power displays before he needs to rest. Sounds reasonable to me.
Third, wizards will be able to scale spells, but only by preparing them in higher-level slots. We’ve heard mention of this before — the idea that a Fireball at 3rd level will do 3d6, but if you want it to do 6d6 damage, you’ll have to prepare it as a 6th level spell. In fact, every time I read about this it scratches a familiar itch — I know I’ve seen this game mechanic in place before, but I can’t remember were. Was it a variant idea in 3E somewhere?
And the most interesting one … Wizards will suffer a chance of spell failure if they take damage before they cast. That last one will probably cheese off the most people, as it will be viewed as building a limitation into a class, and players ALWAYS react badly to that (see, for example, the outcry at any mention that the Paladin should return to being restricted to Lawful Good). But I think such elements make a character more interesting to play, and so long as it’s well designed, it just adds texture to the play experience.
The article also reiterates points they’ve been making for a few months now, that they’re balancing the Wizard in such a way that it doesn’t become OP at higher levels or outclass other classes in their own specialty areas. Hooray for that.
There’s a fairly good picture developing here. These are all nifty details, and they make the Wizard sound really interesting to play. I was never a wizard player in D&D. I started out as a Cleric in 2E and eventually played more martial classes; and in 3E I tended to favor a lot of multiclassing and odd builds. But this makes me want to try out a wizard in the playtest. I’m almost sad that my first efforts at playtesting will be as a DM.