Wizards, magic-users, armor and arcane spell failure rolls

Someone in another thread pointed out that wizards have a class feature that won't let them cast spells while wearing armor, but someone with the Magic-User Specialty does not have this problem. 

Maybe bringing back arcane spell failure rolls are a better way to deal with these contraditions and to rationalize why some casters can wear armor and other can't.

Basically, the rational would be that wizards have a trouble casting in armor because they lack the training to do so, not because armor are problematic with casting itself. Feats could help reduce that failure chance. 
Or we could just accept that spell failure in armor is gonna be the first 'restriction' on casters that's gonna get tossed aside and stop bothering. Just have them take the same penalties in armor they don't have proficiency with as everyone else and let them take feats/specialties/whatever to deal with it like everyone else.
Just change "You cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor." to "You cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor you are not proficient in using."

Problem solved.
Or we could just accept that spell failure in armor is gonna be the first 'restriction' on casters that's gonna get tossed aside and stop bothering.

What a constructive statement. 

I hope that wasn't supposed to be sarcastic, because I think that it was actually very constructive, yes. Spell failure in armor is essentially pointless, only serving as a bit nostalgia, so why bother with it? Especially if there are going to be a thousand different ways to negate the restriction anyway, as was the case in 3.5. Alternatively, Qmark's solution works well enough, I Guess.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I think it is, the simple fact is that trying to have special rules for casters and armor never seems to work out.

In 3e the non-armored characters would get higher ACs anyway, and in 3.5 the ASF restriction only applied to Sorcs and Wizs (and not even all of those) every other arcane class seemed like it had the ability to ignore ASF in at least light armor.

According to the people I asked about earlier editions pre-3 editions had a pretty similar set up to 3e, the unarmored guys ended up with better AC anyway.

It seems to me that it's not a rule that serves any purpose, or has any real in game effect on power levels, so the casters should wear armor or not wear armor based on simple proficiency/dex mod like every one else.
Just change "You cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor." to "You cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor you are not proficient in using."

Problem solved.


I definitely agree with this.  It definitely takes care of the weirdness of a non-Wizard being able to cast spells in armor, but a Wizard, who arguably should be the unrivaled king of casting Wizard spells (because, you know, they are WIZARD spells), can't.  Pretty much everyone should be happy with that.  That way they can make something like a War Mage Specialization that grants something like Light Armor proficiency.
CORE MORE, NOT CORE BORE!
But Qmark's solution was indeed interesting.  

"interesting"?
It's completely freakin' obvious.

Overcoming a limite doesn't mean the limite was useless and should be ignored.

That goes both ways. Overcoming a limit doesn't mean that the limit was useful and shouldn't be ignored. It just means a player had to waste resources overcoming an unnecessary limit instead of being able to allocate those resources somewhere else. Tell me, what point does ASF serve? The relevant casters are already not proficient with the relevant armor, and then casters that are proficient with armor always get to ignore it anyway. All that needs to be done is to make non-proficiency in armor is significantly detrimental (which it should be anyway), and the problem solves itself.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I like it more the way it is now. One of the wizard's balancing factors is his low AC. Giving him ways around that weakness does not sound like a good idea to me. 
I like it more the way it is now. One of the wizard's balancing factors is his low AC. Giving him ways around that weakness does not sound like a good idea to me.
Just change "You cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor." to "You cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor you are not proficient in using."

Problem solved.



Works for me

"The Apollo moon landing is off topic for this thread and this forum. Let's get back on topic." Crazy Monkey

Qmark's solution is obvious.  Surprise!  That's exactly what they did.

"Nuh-uh!" you might say, "the wizard is the only class that can't cast wearing armor!"

And my response is, "The Wizard is also the only class that is not proficient in any armor, and so far, in the playtest, there is no way to gain new proficiencies."

It's the same thing in every way save one:

With the playtest packet's solution, Mountain Dwarves do not become the de facto best Wizards (as their proficiency in Medium armors would give them an AC at least 3 points higher than a typical Wizard with no drawback).
My point is that lack of armor doesn't balance the wizard. Even if he doesn't end up ignoring ASF one way or another he can generally achieve a better AC without armor than the guys who are proficient with and use heavy armor.

If anything giving them a basic armor prof would probably reduce their armor since people wouldn't feel the need to make items and feats and spells to boost wizard AC that don't stack with armor. 
My point is that lack of armor doesn't balance the wizard. Even if he doesn't end up ignoring ASF one way or another he can generally achieve a better AC without armor than the guys who are proficient with and use heavy armor.

 

Not in the current build he can't.  Shield is garbage.  You're assuming spells like Mage Armor and Barkskin or whatever will exist, and there's no proof that will be the case.

I'm assuming that even in 4e the devs didn't buck the trend so yeah I'm fairly certain that until I see the devs comment specifically on the problem that it will indeed reappear.
I like it more the way it is now. One of the wizard's balancing factors is his low AC. Giving him ways around that weakness does not sound like a good idea to me. 

What, like the Mage Armor spell?

But Qmark's solution was indeed interesting.  

"interesting"?
It's completely freakin' obvious.

Ego much?

No, that would be the opposite of ego. He's saying that he doesn't deserve any credit at all for saying it because it requires little to no critical thought or creativity.

Like cyber-dave said, lack of armor is a way to balance the wizard. If the wizard is to wear armor, he still needs to be balanced and you do that by taking resources from elsewhere. 

Why? That still doesn't answer why ASF is a good response ot that. Know what limits their armor choices? Lack of proficiency, which they can then overcome by spending resources on gaining armor proficiency. There's no need for any extra layer of complication. If the Wizard needs anymore than that to be balance, then I'm willing to bet that won't be enough to balance the Wizard.

Why, yes, as a matter of fact I am the Unfailing Arbiter of All That Is Good Design (Even More So Than The Actual Developers) TM Speaking of things that were badly designed, please check out this thread for my Minotaur fix. What have the critics said, you ask? "If any of my players ask to play a Minotaur, I'm definitely offering this as an alternative to the official version." - EmpactWB "If I ever feel like playing a Minotaur I'll know where to look!" - Undrave "WoTC if you are reading this - please take this guy's advice." - Ferol_Debtor_of_Torm "Really full of win. A minotaur that is actually attractive for more than just melee classes." - Cpt_Micha Also, check out my recent GENASI variant! If you've ever wished that your Fire Genasi could actually set stuff on fire, your Water Genasi could actually swim, or your Wind Genasi could at least glide, then look no further. Finally, check out my OPTIONS FOR EVERYONE article, an effort to give unique support to the races that WotC keeps forgetting about. Includes new racial feature options for the Changeling, Deva, Githzerai, Gnoll, Gnome, Goliath, Half-Orc, Kalashtar, Minotaur, Shadar-Kai, Thri-Kreen, Warforged and more!
I'm assuming that even in 4e the devs didn't buck the trend so yeah I'm fairly certain that until I see the devs comment specifically on the problem that it will indeed reappear.




Yea, factoring in things that don't exist is bad policy. You have no idea if they will exist, or in what form, this time around. Not to mention, stacking such spells (if they ever get added to this edition) with the ability to learn to wear armor seems like a recipe for an even larger problem. 

I like it more the way it is now. One of the wizard's balancing factors is his low AC. Giving him ways around that weakness does not sound like a good idea to me. 

What, like the Mage Armor spell?




Yes. Like the mage armor spell. Which is why I am happy that it does not exist as of yet. 
Failing to learn from history is bad policy, and history says that wizards will get better ac than armor users, not just through spells but through feats and items.

The devs have not said anythign either way and there is nothing in the playtests so far that seems like evidence that the Wizards will not recieve their usual plethora of AC boosts, so in the absence of evidence to the contrary I'm forced to rely on history.

Failing to learn from history is bad policy, and history says that wizards will get better ac than armor users, not just through spells but through feats and items.



I think it is a mistake to assume that the devs cannot learn from a history of mistakes as well. Just because something was true in past editions, that does not mean it will be true in this edition. Not allowing wizards to ever wear armor seems like a step in the right direction in regards to ensuring that it will not be true in this edition.

The devs have not said anything either way and there is nothing in the play tests so far that seems like evidence that the Wizards will not receive their usual plethora of AC boosts, so in the absence of evidence to the contrary I'm forced to rely on history.



Other than the fact that such spells do not currently exist, with the exception of shield, which is quite weak; or the fact that wizards have a hardcoded restriction that stops them from wearing armor. 
It seems to me like the Wizard can't cast spells in his armor, because the way they are trained and brought up, they don't learn how to cast spells in their armor.

This is the intent of the class, and I really don't think "balance" has anything to do with it.   Wizards do not gain anything numerically that is obviously better that their lack of armor compensates for.

Perhaps compared to the dragon sorcerer they get a +1 to DC and magical attacks, but that doesn't appear to be balanced against a +5 in AC
> Ah! Now I get it. "The wizard is teh ebil and shouldn't exist
> unless in his 4e incarnation! 3.x was horrible!".

Some of the 3E devs stated that the only reason they didn't do away with armor restrictions entirely was because they were told they had to keep SOME kind of can't-cast-in-armor scheme for the sake of prior-E "feel". Thus the halfway solution of arcane spell failure chance. If they'd had the freedom to design things the way they wanted then we'd have had armored wizards from 2000 onward.

So no, this isn't a 4E-vs-everything else thing.
I like it more the way it is now. One of the wizard's balancing factors is his low AC. Giving him ways around that weakness does not sound like a good idea to me. 


I don't know if low AC and neglegable HP are a good way of balancing the wizard. If every first level wizard gets killed by a housecat, how can there ever be an archmage?
I like it more the way it is now. One of the wizard's balancing factors is his low AC. Giving him ways around that weakness does not sound like a good idea to me. 


I don't know if low AC and neglegable HP are a good way of balancing the wizard. If every first level wizard gets killed by a housecat, how can there ever be an archmage?

Every wizard "can" get killed by a house cat. Not every wizard does.

The crafty and lucky ones grow up to be archmages.

It's like asking if every soldier can get killed by a single stray bullet, how can there ever be generals. 
Not "can" Daganev, "will". Cats are vicious.

If the wizard is very squishy then every battle will revolve around him.

"Kill the guy in the dress!"
"Oh no, protect the guy in the dress!"
"Also, it's a kilt!"

If the wizard is the dangerous guy with the glass jaw, then he's always the prime target. I'd like to see tactics sound more like "let's try this crazy stunt!" and not "how can we keep the wizard alive?" every single time.
I see no problems in allowing wizard to, at some point later, use resources (via Feats) to gain proficiency with armor. Looking at the 4E Wizard as a prime example, they had to use 5 (FIVE) feats to wear plate armor. If they want to invest THAT much of their resources to wear platemail, by all means let them.

Most of the time, however, we'll probably see a dip or two into armor prof. (assuming something like that exists) and that'd be about it. It frees up a spell slot or two (so they're not preparing Mage Armor or Shield) but in the end, their extreamly low HP will be the calculating factor in how much they delve into melee combat. It works out a  bit more for them from ranged attackers however.

At the end of the day, I don't see a problem with armored wizards. They still have to roll a Dex if they're casting spells in melee and they still have extreamly low HP. So, by all means, please put wizards in line with my Ogre's club or Orc's Spear. Pretty please?
I like it more the way it is now. One of the wizard's balancing factors is his low AC. Giving him ways around that weakness does not sound like a good idea to me. 


Here speaks Wisdom.  Let us hearken unto it.

If you have to resort to making offensive comments instead of making logical arguments, you deserve to be ignored.


This is the intent of the class, and I really don't think "balance" has anything to do with it.   Wizards do not gain anything numerically that is obviously better that their lack of armor compensates for.



Yes they do. They gain the best AoE damage capabilities and control powers in the game! Hell, at fifth level, if they memorize only single target spells, they get the best 9 rounds of nova DPR in the game! 


This is the intent of the class, and I really don't think "balance" has anything to do with it.   Wizards do not gain anything numerically that is obviously better that their lack of armor compensates for.



Yes they do. They gain the best AoE damage capabilities and control powers in the game! Hell, at fifth level, if they memorize only single target spells, they get the best 9 rounds of nova DPR in the game! 

Huh?
Compare the Wizard to the Cleric and the Sorcerer or the Warlock.

The cleric does 8d8 on inflict moderate, and the wizard only does 4d8 + 2d8 with melfs 
I see no problems in allowing wizard to, at some point later, use resources (via Feats) to gain proficiency with armor. Looking at the 4E Wizard as a prime example, they had to use 5 (FIVE) feats to wear plate armor. If they want to invest THAT much of their resources to wear platemail, by all means let them.  


But that would be a wasteful pointless trick. They can achieve the awesome by having some dragonhide armor (or whatever cool light armor for much less investment and properly exploit there intellect is the int bonus a fast cast spell of deflection, could be).

In 1st edition any lesser armor for wizards was a temporary state of affairs and still later flavor text.
There were more magic items that armored them and they had potentially better armor class via those and via spells. It was entirely about style.  And with the right spells even the fragility under the armor element could go the way of the dodo...  that wizard has made himself invisible and immune to arrows and flying and that sorceress turns in to a dragon she does.

Note you can say this wont happen in the Next edition... but I am just saying the tradition of the earliest edition had defenses of the spell caster operate on the same scale as there potency it was bad at low levels and uber at high and not really a cost for being awesome at nuking.
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

IF the devs mentioned somethign like toning down the wizard'sbuffing abilities, or keeping the non-armor ac boosts under control then yes it might be reasonable to assume that Wizards will not in fact end up with higher ACs than armor wearers like they did in past editions, but seeing as how this happened every time in the past, and the devs have made no mention of attempting to curtail this, or even that they are aware of the issue. There is a grand total of one point of evidence in play here and that's historical precedent, yes shield bites compared to the mage armors of yester year but that's the thing shield generally does bite compared to mage armor. Historical precedence is the only evidence so far either wayso right now it's not guessing, it's educated pessimism.

If the devs were to indicate that they are working on it or something that that would be a reason to hold off on such an assumption but I have seen no such indications.

I think it's best to just let the wizards use armor the same as the other classes (starting out with little or no proficiency of course) and if they want better ac let them spend the same resources anyone else would to get better armor. In every edition where the Wizard is saddled with some form of ASF then the non-armor AC boosts manage to quickly overwhelm this restriction. ASF doesn't seem to do anything, if anything it creates wizards who are more powerful than other classes defensively because people think that they can give wizards all these defensive boosts without breaking the game because wizards get no armor.
I see no problems in allowing wizard to, at some point later, use resources (via Feats) to gain proficiency with armor. Looking at the 4E Wizard as a prime example, they had to use 5 (FIVE) feats to wear plate armor. If they want to invest THAT much of their resources to wear platemail, by all means let them.  


But that would be a wasteful pointless trick. They can achieve the awesome by having some dragonhide armor (or whatever cool light armor for much less investment and properly exploit there intellect is the int bonus a fast cast spell of deflection, could be).

In 1st edition any lesser armor for wizards was a temporary state of affairs and still later flavor text.
There were more magic items that armored them and they had potentially better armor class via those and via spells. It was entirely about style.  And with the right spells even the fragility under the armor element could go the way of the dodo...  that wizard has made himself invisible and immune to arrows and flying and that sorceress turns in to a dragon she does.

Note you can say this wont happen in the Next edition... but I am just saying the tradition of the earliest edition had defenses of the spell caster operate on the same scale as there potency it was bad at low levels and uber at high and not really a cost for being awesome at nuking.



Obviously it's a waste of resources for the most part, but some people have a vision of a fully platearmored wizard. This was not even possible with 3E, regardless if it was a waste. In 4E, it was a ridiculous expenditure of resources but it was do-able. That's all a lot of us are asking, that something is do-able. I don't mind wasting a few feats over the course of 20+ levels to wear fullplate armor.



 
Obviously it's a waste of resources for the most part, but some people have a vision of a fully platearmored wizard. This was not even possible with 3E, regardless if it was a waste. In 4E, it was a ridiculous expenditure of resources but it was do-able. That's all a lot of us are asking, that something is do-able. I don't mind wasting a few feats over the course of 20+ levels to wear fullplate armor.



In 4e a dragon style sorceror might just decide to eat the penalties for the sake of fluff. (the encumberance wont be an issue)... or you might Warlock/Paladin Hybrid.


  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

 
Obviously it's a waste of resources for the most part, but some people have a vision of a fully platearmored wizard. This was not even possible with 3E, regardless if it was a waste. In 4E, it was a ridiculous expenditure of resources but it was do-able. That's all a lot of us are asking, that something is do-able. I don't mind wasting a few feats over the course of 20+ levels to wear fullplate armor.



In 4e a dragon style sorceror might just decide to eat the penalties for the sake of fluff. (the encumberance wont be an issue)... or you might Warlock/Paladin Hybrid.





I had one of these guys for a FR campaign. Was a Warlock/Paladin dedicated to Bane and a warlock knight of Vaasa (Forgotten Realms). He used a Flail and his armor could shimmer in and out (minor action). So he would walk into a bar with robes and proclaiming the strength of Bane and the victories that could be had with his power backing them and when people would start a bar-fight (as most do in sight of a Banite's proclimation) I'd "summon" his strength and *BAM* the armor would appear and he'd go to town with the flail. Magic would shoot from my hands and burn my enemies and I'd smite them for his glory.

It was pretty awesome. And yet I have some strong feelings that this sort of thing would not only be discouraged for D&D:Next but probably nigh impossible to build.
Just change "You cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor." to "You cannot cast wizard spells while wearing armor you are not proficient in using."

Problem solved.




I'd go slightly different...

"When casting wizard spells while wearing armor you are not proficient in using, your attacks are at disadvantage.  If the spell does not require an attack, any enemy saves are at advantage."

"The turning of the tide always begins with one soldier's decision to head back into the fray"

I am curious. Since magic items and spells could make a wizzard have a better AC than people wearing platemail, why do people think that armor was used as a balancing mechanism rather than a flavour one.
That's what it's traditionally presented as. 
That's what it's traditionally presented as. 

Where? I never heard of the idea before.

Wizards wear robes and cloth, because that's what Wizards do and what they look like. That's how it's always been presented to me.

Cause this is a wizard:  

And these are something else, like a Liche or Necromancer:
 www.google.com/search?q=wizard+in+armor&...
both of which are usually wizards 

When I played 3e I was told that the reason that arcane spells fail in armor and divne spells do not was that arcane spells were in general more powerful and that arcane casters were generally more versatile than their divine counterparts. This was backed up in the books by divine characters generally having better armor, weapons, hp, and saves than their arcane counterparts, furthermore the guidelines for spell generation in the DMG made it pretty clear that an arcane only spell was allowed to do more damage than a spell of the same level availiable to divine casters.

Furthermore if it was purely a flavor thing then wizards wouldn't need special interactions with armor they'd just start with no proficiency.

 
I really dislike hard balance rules like this, that just states, this character CANNOT use this or that, this other character CAN AND SHOULD.

Let everyone use whatever armor they want to, but set the properties of those armors in a way that encourages some players characters to use them and some players not.

Same thing with the high feat costs like in 4th, why would you have to be trained in every single armor type to wear the one above... 
Hard balance ruins the feel of the game in my opinon.

If it is really desired to keep wizards from wearing heavy armors (or any armors.. but really.. a heavy decorated robe is heavier than a leather armor..), then just put some modifier on the armors that discourages it (arcane spell failure, reduced number of spells, anything), and let the players make their choice.
But then that should not just go for the wizard class.

This also links to that thread I made about the too-similar armors..  there is plenty of room for interesting but simple mechanics here that make equipment into something that allows for interesting characters and different playstyles, instead of just being largely-irellevant tiers of quality.