Monday, July 13, 2009

The Magic-Users' OTHER Tome

Out of spells at 1st level, this is what your magic-user turns into.  I think his long, flowing beard has been tucked in his shirt...definitely don't want it getting in the way while he grapples down in the dirt with a hobgoblin.

I realize I'm not especially subtle here, but I tend to be a bit like a hammer when trying to make a point.  Limiting a character class to a particular weapon dictates exactly his fighting style.  And knife-fighting is just about as rough and tumble as one gets. Vicious grappling, take-downs, slitting throats, wrist slashes and kidney strikes.  

Didn't anyone play first edition Top Secret?

The semi-cool (and humorous) thing to realize is that a 1st level magic-user is actually a pretty vicious fighter.  Compared to a Normal Man in B/X, he has the same average hit points (more with a high Constitution) and to-hit rolls equal to a 3rd level fighter!  He's at least on equal footing with a thief of equal level, assuming the rogue doesn't get the drop on him.

Go Gandalf!  Gut the bastard!

No, I am not kidding.  Can you imagine coming upon a wandering group of knife-fighters in a dungeon?  An encounter of 1D4 Mediums (1st level magic-users) is a standard 3rd level wandering monster in B/X.  Holy crap!  

'Course, they'll probably sleep your party before slitting your throats.

No, Virginia...this is NOT Harry Potter the RPG.


  1. I think different. Perhaps it was the way of my GM, but she taught us to be very wary of physical combat as 1st level wizards.

    Her usual way to greet newbie wizards was throwing an big and angry rat at us, while on board of a small ship, separated from our partners. We were unable to use magic missile or burning hands without compromising the hull unless we really wanted to swim to the coast.

    OTOH, those were big rats, as long as our arms, so it wasn't that humiliating after all.

    The thing is that it wasn't just an humiliating way to remember us our condition of glass cannons but a crystal clear demonstration that our melee aptitudes were... less than ideal, and playing warrior roles was going to kill us in the long run.

    She tried to tell us that we shouldn't try to fight hard, but fight smart. And that is a nice feature of playing a wizard: most probably, you'll be smarter than your enemy, and that's your edge.

  2. All right, Path…check this out:

    Say I take the attributes my wife rolled up for her elf character and use ’em to make a magic-user instead: S11, I16, W10, D14, C18, Cr11. Arm him with a bandolier of daggers (she had 70 gold pieces, which is enough to get one silver, five normal and still have 30 gold left over for equipment). Let’s take SHIELD as our 1st level spell.

    Assuming my DM is totally Old School and ignores B/X optional rules (like variable damage), I’ve got a guy who can tear through a squad of your average town guards. I’m like Benico Del Toro in The Hunted. A normal man is going to average .875 damage against me per round (25% chance to hit, 3.5 average damage per hit) and have 2.5 hit points. Assuming they’re packing leather + shield + sword, I’m going to average 1.4 damage per round against the guards (more if I’m throwing my knives). I have nearly a 2-1 damage ratio advantage in melee and a better than 2-1 hit point advantage…plus I’m a lot faster (no armor encumbrance).

    Compared to your average street thug, my magic-user is RAMBO. I’m going to gut these guards and leave ‘em for dead if they lay a hand on me.

    “Ooo,” you say, “not much XP awarded for killing the town militia.” No, I’m guessing about the same as a giant rat, but you better believe Dumbledorf the Chaotic is going to be looting the rich pickings of the neighborhood merchant…now THAT'S more XP than you’ll find in a rat’s belly!

  3. Yeah JB, I was 'bout to mention the AC, knife fighting in pajamas. But yep, the Shield spell can be very useful in such an instance.

    I just got it (Shield spell) as a random roll in a Play-by-Post Labyrinth Lord game character gen, and I think it may be a life saver. We'll see.

    I hardly ever (like maybe once!) played M-U's back in the day, so I may be giving it (Shield) too much credit before use, but it should be fun to try.

    Oh and of course I bought a silver dagger. WTF else am I gonna spend my cash on, right?

    Great post bro, and strangely timely for my newly created "shank-happy" Seer. Time will tell if he really ever gets brave enough to carve someone up.

  4. Imagine making a reputation on it. I know you don't get to start researching spells till 9th level, but I'm sure you could think of some that would make your wizard, well, totally wiz with a knife.
    You might ask your DM if you can skip the "variable weapon damage" table till 2nd level.

    Otherwise, don't be afraid to use that shield spell! Check this out...instead of buying a silver dagger, buy 8 regular daggers and throw them in combat. You hit just as well as a fighter at 1st level, and your shield gives you an AC 2 against return missiles! That's plate and shield, pal!

    Don't be afraid to earn your share of the treasure yoyo.
    : )

  5. JB: Yep, AC 2 sounds sweet. Heck even the AC 4 vs non-ranged attacks is pretty nice for a dude in robes.

    I did snag multiple normal daggers too, but just had to grab a silver one with all my phat loot. Seriously though, I guess I should have thought more about my party members and community GPs, but I'm joining them a little late, so I figure my dude may have spent every last freakin copper before running into them...who knows. Without the need to buy some expensive armor, a M-U that rolls decent on the starting money has a little to go around, eh?

    As far as hitting as well as a fighter, I may be a little behind the curve there. I think my DEX is a 9 or something, and STR is maybe 10. So yeah, I'd hit about as well as a fighter with those stats...hehe.

    That's one of my favorite things about B/E. I almost left my rolled stats alone, and *still* made a magic-user. He would have had a 14 STR and an 11 INT. Big whoop! So he drags behind a bit leveling up, not that big of a deal. One of the smartest parts of the system, IMO: why not play a strong(er) yet non-Mensa M-U? why not play a weak(er) yet more wise fighter? No reason. Cool.