Friday, July 11, 2014

A Wizard Worth Playing (Part 3)

[continued from here]

In addition to the spells detailed above, all beginning wizards know three additional spells of incredible power: Planar Gate, Sky Strike, and Transmutation. These spells are collectively known as Mighty Magics, and special rules apply to their use.

First, no more than ONE mighty magic may be cast in a single day (i.e. prior to a "long rest"); a wizard that decides to call down a meteor shower isn't going to be opening any portals later on. The casting is extremely taxing; the wizard cannot cast additional spells after the performance of a mighty magic until he/she has has at least a "short rest."

Second,  a mighty magic has a casting time of ONE MINUTE (unlike the earlier spells, which all have casting times of one action). That means it requires 10 melee rounds to finish the casting of a mighty magic; they are not "spur of the moment" spells.

Third, a mighty magic is extremely complicated and there's no guarantee it can be cast successfully; wizards must succeed at an Arcana skill check for the mighty magic to succeed. The difficulty of the check is equal to 10 + magnitude at which the spell is being cast. Failure burns the spell slot and the use of the mighty magic for the day; however, it does NOT mean "nothing happens." A failed check for mighty magic indicates that something was "off" in the casting: the spell occurs, but not as intended. A sky strike might hit the wizard's tower, instead of the invading army; a portal opens to the wrong location or entices the wrong being to enter the mortal realm. It is up to the DM to decide just how horrendous the failure is, based on the magnitude attempted and the degree by which the wizard failed. Mighty magic is difficult stuff to control, and its use should always carry risk.

Finally, casting a mighty magic drains the very life force of the wizard. Human (and part-human) wizards age a number of years equal to the magnitude of the mighty magic spell cast; non-humans (elves, dwarves, halflings) age a number of decades equal to the magnitude of the mighty magic spell. It is unusual for wizards to cast many mighty magics during their lifetime; those that do have good reason for doing so.

PLANAR GATE: creates an opening onto another plane of existence. The portal on the caster's plane opens within 20 yards of the wizard's location and sight. If the true name (not a nickname, title, or pseudonym) of a being on the other plane is spoken, the portal opens in that creature's vicinity and it is drawn to come through to the wizard's side, arriving within D10 melee rounds (others may choose to use the portal as well). If the duration ends before the creature arrives, the portal closes and the calling fails. Deities and planar rulers may always cause the spell to fail, if they so choose. Portal is only one-way (other plane to wizard's plane) except at 5th through 9th magnitudes. Magnitude determines size and duration of portal. Killing the wizard ends the spell prematurely.
1st Magnitude: up to 1' diameter, duration is 2 rounds
2nd Magnitude: up to 3' diameter, duration is 3 rounds
3rd Magnitude: up to 5' diameter, duration is 4 rounds
4th Magnitude: up to 7' diameter, duration is 5 rounds
5th Magnitude: two-way portal (wizards and or others can cross to the other plane; up to 9' diameter, duration is 6 melee rounds
6th Magnitude: up to 12' diameter, duration is 7 rounds
7th Magnitude: up to 15' diameter, duration is 8 rounds
8th Magnitude: up to 18' diameter, duration is 9 rounds
9th Magnitude: up to 21' diameter; duration is 10 melee rounds (calling is always successful)

SKY STRIKE: the wizard calls down a fiery meteor strike from the heavens (range is sight limited to about one mile; spell can only be performed outdoors). Magnitude determines size and number of meteors that strike within range. Damage is two-fold (bludgeoning impact and fire) to those within the blast radius, but a successful save is allowed to halve the damage. Targets take damage from the spell only once, even if caught within overlapping blasts (collateral damage caused by the massive destruction is another matter).
1st Magnitude: one small meteor (blast radius 10'); 5D6 impact damage + 5D6 fire damage
2nd Magnitude: one large meteor (radius 20'); 10D6 impact damage + 10D6 fire damage
3rd Magnitude: two large meteors (radius 20'); 10D6 impact damage + 10D6 fire damage
4th Magnitude: three large meteors (radius 20'); 10D6 impact damage + 10D6 fire damage
5th Magnitude: four large meteors (radius 20'); 10D6 impact damage + 10D6 fire damage
6th Magnitude: one huge meteor (radius 40'); 20D6 impact damage + 20D6 fire damage
7th Magnitude: two huge meteors (radius 40'); 20D6 impact damage + 20D6 fire damage
8th Magnitude: three huge meteors (radius 40'); 20D6 impact damage + 20D6 fire damage
9th Magnitude: four huge meteors (radius 40'); 20D6 impact damage + 20D6 fire damage

Uh-oh...shouldn't have pissed off the wizard!
TRANSMUTATION: wizard transforms one object into another; the change is indefinite (until dispelled). Objects are classified as either animal, plant, or mineral, whether animate or not. Magnitude determines the size of an object that can be transformed and the degree of change. Creatures unwilling to be transformed receive saving throws. Class abilities can never be gained from this spell (no transforming the party thief into a cleric, for example, or a low-level fighter into a high-level fighter) as those are a product of learning and experience. NOTE: wizards can never be the object of their own transmutation spell.
1st Magnitude: a small object (animal: small dog/large cat; plant: house plant; mineral: ring/coin sized) can be changed into an equal classification (i.e. animal to animal, like a cat to a dog) of equal size. The creature's basic nature doesn't change; the creature's gender, mind, and instincts remain the same (for example, a neutered cat would become a neutered dog of the same size, hps, and combat ability; it would try to climb trees, play with yard, and stalk birds/mice), nor can a creature that was dead be given life (or vice versa). Likewise, abilities would be retained unless the form precludes them (a bird changed to a frog has no wings to fly, and would not know how to swim or catch flies...though it could learn). "Basic nature" includes the properties of plants (as ingredients or herbs...a dandelion transformed to garlic would not affect a vampire) or the value of minerals (lead cannot be transformed into a precious metal, for example). Magical objects may not be transformed.
2nd Magnitude: as 1st magnitude, but larger objects can be transformed; animals up to the size of a small humanoid, plants the size of a small shrub (or enough to fit a large sack), minerals up to six pounds in weight (the size of a sword or shield, or what would fit in a large pouch). Again, the nature of the thing would not change: a shield could be changed into a helmet, but not a sword (because its purpose is to protect, not to harm); value (lead into gold, etc.) and life/death cannot be changed.
3rd Magnitude: as 2nd magnitude, but some one or two aspects of a creature's nature can be changed (male to female, wine to syrup, helmet to sword). Mental abilities, skills, hit points, and fighting ability cannot be changed.
4th Magnitude: as 3rd magnitude, but larger objects can be changed; animals up to ogre sized, plants up to a small tree; minerals up to the size of a suit of armor. All abilities of the form's new nature are now gained.
5th Magnitude: as 4th magnitude but now solids can be changed to liquids and liquids to solids.
6th Magnitude: as 5th magnitude but larger (animals up to dragon-sized, plants up to size of small wooden shack or large tree, minerals up to large (ogre-sized) boulder, and change can affect objects basic mobility/animation (for example, a person can be transformed into the semblance of a statue, unable to move or act, while an inanimate object can be caused to move about on its own at the direction of the wizard). Valuable minerals (metals and gemstones) can be lowered in worth (or made worthless altogether) at this magnitude. Animals can be made younger or older.
7th Magnitude: as 6th magnitude, but now inanimate objects can be given a degree of independent action (a tree can be given the mobility to strike with its branches and given the task of guarding a path; a broom can be given the task of "sweeping up," a boulder can be commanded to only roll aside for the wizard and his friends, etc.). Objects transformed now take on the personality and instincts of their new form. Base minerals can be made valuable (rocks to gems and iron to gold, for example), with a gold piece limit of 1000 per use of the spell.
8th Magnitude: as 7th magnitude, but now objects can be transformed between classifications: an animal can be turned into a plant or mineral type, for example. Gold piece limit on valuables created is now 10,000.
9th Magnitude: transforms any object (including magical objects) into any other type of object, and the living can be made dead (and vice versa). While magical items can be transformed into mundane objects (or items with similar powers...for example a cloak of invisibility into a hat of invisibility or an invisible monster), mundane objects cannot be given magical powers using this spell with the exception of weapons and armor which can be given the equivalent of +1 ability. Gold piece limit on valuables created is 100,000 at this magnitude.

[how's that for awesome?]

This then concludes the changes I'd make to bring the character class in line with the description presented for "wizards." Additional abilities (like crafting magic items, brewing potions, spell research, etc.) could still be made available at higher levels...but they're not "advertised" as basic to the class.

Feel free to play test.
; )


  1. A little complicated for my tastes but it seems like a good rule set to me.

  2. Why not just start at a higher level?

    I don't mean that rhetorically. I see the changes make some fundamental changes to wizards . . . but it seems like an easier way to address to concerns of "you should be able to do this out of the gate" is to move the gate position up, so to speak, and start higher level.

    It's a solution I've used in point-buy systems - you want movie action heroes? Give them more points. Why not give them more levels?

  3. @ Scott:

    It seems less complicated to me that the wizard as written in the Basic rules.

    @ Peter: may have missed the point, here.

  4. Maybe I have. I can see you put a lot of work into this alternate Wizard class. It just seems like the easier way to fulfill the description you quoted in part 1 right out of the gate is to simply start at a level where some, most, or all of things are possible. I get that you want to do it a different way, otherwise you wouldn’t have spent so much time on it. But still I was wondering why you just didn’t go with what seems to be like the obvious solution.

  5. @ Peter:

    Um...what? Why not just make 10 a little louder? "But this one goes up to 11!"

    Dude: what level would wizards have to start at to be able to throw explosive fire and open portals to other worlds? What level would they need to be to animate the dead?

    [ha! that last question is rhetorical...there's no "animate dead" spell in the Basic Rules! More bogus description!]

    To me, the "obvious" thing was to rewrite the abilities based on the description, something that really WASN'T much work (the main issue was finding the time to post home life is a little busy). Here's the thing about game design: if you know WHAT you want to model, you're halfway (or more than halfway) there. And really, the different degrees of magnitude are modeled to existing spells found throughout the editions. Check out transmutation, for example: you'll see polymorph (4th), rock to mud (5th), flesh-stone and disintegrate (6th), mordenkainen's sword (7th), polymorph any (8th), and crystal brittle and wish (9th). Easy-shmeesy.

    If anything, I'm just a snarky bastard: "Hey 5E, I can give you a radical and interesting take on magic in three days, where all you came up with after years of play testing is unlimited laser cantrips. You suck." But it's ALSO a valuable mental exercise and gives me fodder for future projects: I can see doing SOMEthing like this with a magic system in the future (hell, I AM doing something like this, though with fewer "magnitudes"). But if I was really writing something for publication (as opposed to a lark based on a literal reading of the "Basic Rules"), I would probably be more universal in my schools than "meteor swarm" and "animate dead."

    Oh...just by the way: I have no intention to PLAY 5E, man. Sorry if that wasn't clear. I don't need an "easy fix" or solution to the issue (and for the record, letting wizards start at high levels carries other burdens). I was proposing an "alternate reality."
    : )

    1. That makes sense, thanks for the further explanation.