Are Wizards too broad?

13 posts / 0 new
Last post
This was just something I was thinking about the other day. The wizard class, as is, in 4th edition is just so broad that it seems to lose a defining concept. What exactly is it a wizard does? Does he shoot fireballs? No, not all wizards use fire spells. Does he enchant his enemies? No some wizards prefer lightning. Is he a master of illusions? No some prefer summoning.

The wizard in 4th, seems to me at least to suffer from a lack of a unifying concept. The arcane power source as a whole just seems like a grab bag of "this class doesn't fit any other power source." When I think of an invoker, a druid, or hell even a psion the archetype in my mind is immediately playable and those classes have unifying themes. But the wizard is just so broad that it covers and consumes so many fantasy archetypes it suffers from being too wide a net. The class has 4 subclasses; arcanist, mage, witch, and sha'ir. Seems to me Witch would have been better suited as a warlock and sha'ir as a sorcerer. The power bloat doesn't help either.
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />But really my point is are wizards too broad? I feel like they are, at least in 4th. When I play an invoker, no matter how I build it, I feel like an invoker should feel. When I play a druid I feel like a druid. When I play a wizard I'm not really entirely sure how I should feel. Maybe this problem is limited to heroic, which most of the games I play in take place at, and after paragon wizard starts to feel more fleshed out.

Or maybe the problem is just the opposite and wizards aren't broad enough, restricted as they are by the AEDU power system? I'm not totally sure, but whichever it is all I know is to me 4th edition wizards just don't fell wizardly enough to me.
I personally felt that the whole point of the Wizard is that they are generalist caster. While the warlock gets powers based on it's patron, the sorcerer is based on raw power, and the bard is based on lyrical spells and poems, the wizard doesn't specialize. They get their feel because they are the scholar; one can certainly have their favorite "type" of spell, but they don't necessarily stick to any one style. If they can learn it, there's a good chance they will.
One "problem" with the Wizard was that it was the first controller class. And at the time, it wasn't 100% clear what a controller did. I feel like it became more clear as more options came about.

I think that the "generic" Wizard is intentionally very broad in scope. This leaves it to the player to define what their Wizard does.

Really, if you look at characters from books and movies that are called "wizards" what is it that they all do in common? The only answer I can come up with is that they all use magic. That's it. Some of them are powerful wielders of magical fire. Some of them can charm and enchant their foes. Some of them control masterful illusions. But, as you said, they all do something different. And I think that's the point of the Wizard class. You can shape it to be whatever of these (or countless other) concepts you like.

The OP had said that they don't feel "wizardly" enough. So what would "feel wizardly"?

The first 4E game I ran my friend played a Wizard. And he definitely made this character shine as a "master of magic". It seemed like every combat he had at least 3 different effects ongoing and they all were some crazy magical power, manipulating the combat field. He was pretty darn good at it too...

The power sources in 4E were odd to me at first. Until I started seeing the unifying themes. The Martial source was a master of arms and armor. The Divine was granted from the gods. The Primal source called upon the energy of the world. And the Psionic source was drawn from meditation and focus on inner power.

The Arcane source draws its energy from the universe. The raw and unfocused energy that moves things and drives things and makes things happen. A tree has a connection to Primal energy, but the lightning that rips it asunder is raw Arcane power.

And, most specifically, the various power sources have in-game mechanical themes to unify them. Arcane powers tend to have energy types (fire, cold, lightning, etc). Arcane powers are more likely to be Close burst/blast or Area attacks as well. And they don't typically do radiant damage or healing.

It is a general "feel" obviously and the various powe sources have some "overlap". But the structure is there to help the GM (and players) really make it into something specific for their game. 
Yes. The wizard in pervious edition was a very broad class. But I don't see why they couldn't thin it out some like they did with druid. In previous editions druid encompassed what is basically the entire primal power source except barbarian but they thinned the druid into 3 seperate classes that all work quite well and don't suffer from the lack of focus wizard seems to.

Why couldn't wizard have been diced up into evoker, illusionist (a class present in many previous editions), magician (for your sort of scholarly wizard type) and transmutationist? Each of those classes could serve a distinct role and be different enough for players to know it, but for the common people of the world to collectivley refer to these classes as "wizards."

This might all stem from me prefering low magic settings to high magic ones of course. Maybe I'm in the minority here because I feel like wizards should be mysterious and rare and the arcane should be a source that is difficult to tap into. I want the rules to reflect wizards being powerful but rare individuals whom others respect and possibly even fear and who are shrouded in mystery. To that end I feel the 4th edition wizard has sort of failed. I think it may just be the AEDU power system doesn't jive with my idea of what a wizard should be.

But perhaps the class, to that end, doesn't suffer because it is too broad, but because it is too narrow. The AEDU system limits what you can do as a wizard. The ritual system helps that somewhat, but the costs of that system prohibit liberal use of rituals and the general lack of support for them (outside just adding more rituals) makes them rather unattractive. Every wizard in 4th is, essentially, a battle wizard. This is of course mandated by the primary assumption of the game, combat is the reason for rules.

I don't know. It's hard to explain. It's more a feeling than an argument. Somehow every other class in 4th feels right to me except the wizard. There's just something about it I can't put my finger on that makes it feel strange to me.
Wizards are supposed to be broad, unless theyre a specialist, that goes for any editon.
I survived Section 4 and all I got was this lousy sig Off-topic and going downhill from there
Wizards are supposed to be broad, unless theyre a specialist, that goes for any editon.


I do agree, and I would never suggest wizards shouldn't be broad. But the question is really how broad is too broad, and do 4e wizards step over that line?
I think really its up to the player and what Spells/Powers they pick. I tend to notice that most players ussually stick to some sort of theme, like fire or whatever, me personally, I like translocation spells. 
I survived Section 4 and all I got was this lousy sig Off-topic and going downhill from there
Are you aware of the Essentials Mage build? It is, essentially, focused versions of the PHB wizard.
> The class has 4 subclasses; arcanist, mage, witch, and sha'ir.
> Seems to me Witch would have been better suited as a warlock
> and sha'ir as a sorcerer.

Yes, they would have, just as the Bladesinger "wizard" would have been better suited to a Swordmage build. This was repeatedly raised on the forums at the time those things were being previewed/released.

Unfortunately, the Essentials/Mearls design philosophy was that all of these things had been wizard types in old-E (2E, specifically) so they had to be made wizard types in 4E just because.

Of course, this completely ignored the reason why the warlock, sorcerer, and swordmage existed as separate classes in 4E in the first place...
Are you aware of the Essentials Mage build? It is, essentially, focused versions of the PHB wizard.


I think you hit my problem. The wizard class is broad, and I think I actually like that. But the builds are narrow, and that is at serious conflict with the class' design philosophy (to be broad, to be effectively the parties magical generalist). So it isn't that it's too broad, or that it's too narrow but instead that it is both at the same time. The class is broad, but in play it is almost impossible to be broad because of the limitations of the AEDU system.

In my mind the wizard should be able to do much more than other classes (except perhaps clerics and druids), but the 4e system with its focus on balance precludes that option. Now I love 4e but I accept it's limitations and I think this is one of them for me. I'm not really trying to say anything here other than just express my opinion.
I'm almost exclusively a magic user class as a player, and most of the time its a wizard. I play 3.5 and I'm not sure how it differs from 4 but in 3.5 I enjoy it being that broad. I haven't played a straight wizard since my first character, I specialize now, trying spells I wouldn't think about if I was taking full advantage of the spell list. It's fun for character play, and it keeps the class relatively fresh to start a new one in a new field. But again, I don't even know if you CAN specialize in 4.
The 4e wizard is more broad, flexible and does have more things than other clsses.


The wizard has cantrips, which only a handful of other classes have, and it generally has more than them, and better ones. The ability to sub in arcana for diff skills is very useful.


The wizard (though not mage) is one of the few classes to get ritual casting, and it is set up to be the best ritual caster.


The mage gets MM for free.


The mage can swap round encounter powers.


The wizard can prepare different utility and daily powers, something only a few other classes can do, and the others hve to spend feats to do it.

It should be noted the mage doesnt actually remove old powers from their spellbook when they get new ones at 13+
> The class has 4 subclasses; arcanist, mage, witch, and sha'ir.
> Seems to me Witch would have been better suited as a warlock
> and sha'ir as a sorcerer.

Yes, they would have, just as the Bladesinger "wizard" would have been better suited to a Swordmage build. This was repeatedly raised on the forums at the time those things were being previewed/released.

Unfortunately, the Essentials/Mearls design philosophy was that all of these things had been wizard types in old-E (2E, specifically) so they had to be made wizard types in 4E just because.

Of course, this completely ignored the reason why the warlock, sorcerer, and swordmage existed as separate classes in 4E in the first place...

Yeah, I think the underlying problem is a lack of unity of vision about how classes map to archetypes. In OD&D this was VERY simple, in effect the 'big 3' power sources of 4e, Martial, Arcane, and Divine, were classes. Thus the core wizard design in D&D originally was just "do what you want with it", and it was called "Magic-User" for a reason, it could be a witch doctor, a wizard, a warlock, etc. as you wished, and it was just up to you to find items and invent/find/pick spells that fit your theme.

2e did OK with extending that concept with the schools, but that was because LARGELY they had stuck with the core concept, and in fact 2e even strengthened it by getting rid of 1e's Illusionist class and making it a specialist school.

Now, WRT 'martial' classes even 1e had gone down the road of specialized classes for specific types of warrior, and 2e continued that. So when 3e came along it must have seemed natural to simply extend that to wizards as well, but nobody has ever really gone back and looked at it all coherently. There is the 'school' concept, and then there are the 'other arcane casters' (sorcerer and warlock primarily). Its gets very muddy because you have sorcerers who are 'elemental' casters, but wizards (especially evokers) can pretty much fill that bill too.

4e just inherited an incoherent situation from 3e. At first PHB1 follows the more 3e-like concept of having several arcane classes, the book wizard, the pacted warlock, and the natural casting elementalist sorcerer, but yeah, Essentials totally threw a monkey-wrench in it. There was clearly some unmet need too, like Necromancer.

The other problem, maybe the ROOT problem, though is the whole concept of the 'Arcane' as a power source. Its not, 'arcane' simply means "secret knowledge". ALL casting is almost certainly involving some sort of 'arcana' or else everyone would be doing it! This really comes out when we now have the Necromancer, an Arcane character that uses shadow power (which power source is this guy???) and we have the Sha'ir, AND the various Mage schools overlapping with the Sorcerer as 'elementalist' casters. Its just not only a wreck but there are seperate classes, sub-classes, 'builds', etc all providing similar vehicles.

Clearly a '4.5' would be a great boon, as presumably it could clear up a bunch of this stuff, but IMHO what really needs to happen is Arcane needs to stop being a power source and casters of various sources can then embody different traditions, elemental power source, shadow power source, primal power source, can all provide various casting traditions.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Sign In to post comments