How do you play a truly magical wizard?

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(not a rhetorical question )

Let me give you a bit of context:

I played 3e for several years, and while I liked playing all the classes, I naturally gravitated towards the magic users: clerics, sorcerers, wizards... there was something about playing a character who was mystical that was a ton of fun.

When playing 3e characters, I would spend a significant amount of my magic just doing interesting things out of combat: using mage hand for simple tasks, using Alter Self liberally to change into other people, basically "wasting" magic to create a character that was magically frivolous. Illusion magic in general was tons of fun: most of the time, the only real limit was your creativity.

Long story short, I'm played in one 4e game, and am currently playing in another. In one, I played a Paladin, and that was fun as expected: the paladin abilities synergized well with trying to defend your party from foes, and keep your allies on their feet. It was fun to play a character that was about protecting others and doing good in the world, and all the abilities and powers were directly in line with that idea.

In this new campaign, I'm playing a wizard, but I find myself frustrated. I feel like I'm just playing the Paladin again, except with slightly fewer hit points, and a few more AoE attacks. I tried to specialize in rituals, but I've really only had occasion to cast two or three in seven levels (Tenser's disk to carry some friends across traps that I teleported across, Magic Circle to seal a teleportation circle while we rested nearby).

I've made the most of mage hand, prestidigitation, and ghost sound, but after a while there aren't that many surprises there. I find it really difficult to play a "magical" character, since every character feature is about combat, and the rituals require fairly exacting circumstances to use.

I feel like I'm playing Diablo II. Sure, every character has a different *style* of killing people, but that's all we're built to do.

Anyway, enough griping. How do *you* play a magical character?
Outside of combat, use your cantrips as much as you can. You're already doing this, but you can always do more. For examples, just go to one of the "101 uses for Prestidigitation" threads laying around. Like this one.

In combat, describe more and be willing to refluff the powers. For example, you're not casting Scorching Burst, you're casting Nystul's Flaming Wrath! For better examples of this, look at this thread.
I guess I'm just a little dissapointed that the only avenues of "wizardness" out there are my cantrips.

After reading some other threads out there, I found one about somebody who had a similar problem with druids. One of the posters in there (Warweaver) said:

"Of course no one really hits on the fact that this also means class titles like "Druid" are exercises in futility. With the obsession over Roles in 4e, it's no accident that you can say "primal controller" and get the exact same definition (even the primal is unnecessary really, as power sources are nearly fluff - so far)."

I think my frustration is coming from the fact I signed up to play a wizard, not a controller. =[
I think my frustration is coming from the fact I signed up to play a wizard, not a controller. =[

A wizard is a member of the set (Controller), along with druids and invokers.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
Clearly, a wizard is a controller, but I guess my frustration is that all aspects of the character seem to derive from the "role" of the character, rather than the inspiration.

These class names aren't (well, weren't) just slapped on because they liked the sound of the words, but for the archetypes they invoke from fantasy literature and media. Playing a 4e wizard doesn't feel like I'm playing a wizard - I feel like I'm playing a controller.

I know I'm not doing a good job defining it, but these classes all "feel" very similar in play, rather than being unique. That's probably just a mental holdover from 3e, and maybe I'll eventually get past it, but it's awkward and frustrating as is.
I can't read your mind, so I can't see the problem. The classes all feel quite different to me. The wizard, especially, feels more like a wizard because you don't run out of magic; you're never forced to fall back on using a crossbow or whatever because you ran out of spells.
Another day, another three or four entries to my Ignore List.
A wizard is as magical as you want him to be. In combat, it's clear what his magic (abilities) can and can't do, and spells work pretty much the same, every time. Even in non-combat (roleplaying) encounters, his magic is set.

Outside of comabt or roleplaying of course, there's less definition. At this point, his magic is just flavor for the story. So, he can float around two or three inches off the ground. Maybe he can whisk small objects to his hand at will. What wizard can't light pipes and candles with little more than a thought? The use for cantrip-type magic is limited only by your imagination; these are basically 'little wishes' ;) (an idea from an early Dragon Magazine).

This is the typical image of a truly magical wizard; no reason not to engage that imagery when it's the story that matters, not the rules. The magic is still there (always has been); just don't let the new rules stifle your imagination.
/\ Art
I actually fully understand your complaint. But, take the complaint and form it. What is missing from the wizard you have? As in, what does it need to become the wizard you want? Not in general. I don't want an answer like "More utility powers!" I mean, literally, what should it be doing? I want to hear the actual descriptions of actual things you want this wizard to actually be able to do.

That'll help not just the people who want to help you, but it'll also help you figure out what exactly it is that can be changed to make the wizard more 'magical' to you.

Eager to hear more!
The following actions can be fluffed to be magical.

Skills(Mage Hand-esque helpers)
Action Point Spending(Arcane Energy Surge)
Healing Surges(Arcane Energy Repair)
Second Wind(Arcane Force Field)
Running(Hovering)
Shifting(Wind Buffering Movement)
Getting Up From Prone(Hovering)
Becoming Bloodied(Break In Arcane Energy Cloaking Character)
Dying(Burst of Power leaving body or loss of glowy effects)
-Moving-(Hovering)

Basically, your character is as magical as you want to make them.
Alright, I don't see how OP, you can think of the wizard as not magical enough? Yes, a lot of what the classes are in general are geared toward combat. But the cantrips are more meant for out of combat use, there's utility spells, and then your own desire to create a character and give him personality and quirks.

But I'll tell you this, even outside of combat I found a fun use with a cold wizard I played. Ray of Frost is handy, I froze water all the time to walk across small streams and such, tada! Once we caught a spy as he was trying to go down a sewer. So from what we gathered, more of his comrades were hiding in the sewer. Instead of going through than entrance where we'd most likely be walking into a trap, I used Ray of Frost to freeze the manhole closed, then we parked a cart over it and went and found another entrance.

Things like that, as it's been said even by you OP, it's all about your imagination.
Just a few responses to the folks who've been gracious enough to reply =]

Note: if you don’t want to read the entirety of this post, I encourage you to at least read from Alitain’s quote to the end.

Artifact:
Outside of comabt or roleplaying of course, there's less definition. At this point, his magic is just flavor for the story. So, he can float around two or three inches off the ground. Maybe he can whisk small objects to his hand at will. What wizard can't light pipes and candles with little more than a thought? The use for cantrip-type magic is limited only by your imagination; these are basically 'little wishes' (an idea from an early Dragon Magazine).

Drackthor:
I actually fully understand your complaint. But, take the complaint and form it. What is missing from the wizard you have? As in, what does it need to become the wizard you want? Not in general. I don't want an answer like "More utility powers!" I mean, literally, what should it be doing? I want to hear the actual descriptions of actual things you want this wizard to actually be able to do.

Let me see if I can sort of answer both of your responses. After thinking over it myself, and trying to figure out the source of my problem, I think most of my frustrations have to do how the way spellcasters allocate their power has changed. In the past, whether you were preparing spells or casting them spontaneously, you had a set pool of power that you could split between straight-up beat-em-up spells (fireball!) and things that could be used in combat, but were more often just interesting applications of magic (like any one of the secure shelters, or whispering wind, arcane lock, etc...).

On any given "day," you got to make the choice as to how you were going to expend your power. Say you were preparing to entertain a court, so you prepared illusions and pyrotechnics to impress. Another day you camp deep in a dungeon, and realize all your magic today is going to be used to hang on to your life at all costs.

A lot of the things I would like to do with magic have been spun off into rituals, and so I built a character who has a lot of them. Every time I gain a level, I check through the rituals to see what fantastic new magics I've unlocked access to, only to find that the cost of casting a ritual of your level is a non-trival sacrifice of wealth. I'd like to be doing that sort of out-of-combat magic often, but doing it as often as I'd want would set me on the fast track to poverty.

Now, to more address Drackthor:

I want to play a character that, when the time is right, can really pull out a clever solution. I want to be running from the city guard with my party, come rushing around a corner, run into a tavern, and, with a few choice words and a momentary glow, bar the door from opening. The guards slam into the door, wondering momentarily why the thin door isn’t opening or breaking, before crashing through the windows moments later, hot in pursuit. But we’ve gained some breathing room.

I want to have our party in the midst of negotiations, when something goes awry, and we momentarily regroup to discuss the terms of the deal under a cone of silence hastily erected with some handwaving and sprinkling of powders.

When my character is older, and wiser, I want to be able to turn petulant young upstarts into rabbits, just to show ‘em the difference between student and master.

I want to teleport. A lot.


Darkless_One
Skills(Mage Hand-esque helpers)
Action Point Spending(Arcane Energy Surge)
Healing Surges(Arcane Energy Repair)
Second Wind(Arcane Force Field)
Running(Hovering)
Shifting(Wind Buffering Movement)
Getting Up From Prone(Hovering)
Becoming Bloodied(Break In Arcane Energy Cloaking Character)
Dying(Burst of Power leaving body or loss of glowy effects)
-Moving-(Hovering)

I consider myself an avid fan of roleplaying (one of the greatest adventures I've ever played in we spent 75% of the module just hiking through ever-increasingly-dead winter woodland), but just "rebranding" actions and spells isn't going to cut it. That doesn't mean I'm against it, far from it - it's something I've done with all my characters, in all roleplaying systems I've played in. It's really a baseline expectation, at least for me, that a DM would let you describe your mechanical action in a flavorful way. In this, 3e and 4e are no different, as that's something that's really game-independent.

Alitain:
But I'll tell you this, even outside of combat I found a fun use with a cold wizard I played. Ray of Frost is handy, I froze water all the time to walk across small streams and such, tada! Once we caught a spy as he was trying to go down a sewer. So from what we gathered, more of his comrades were hiding in the sewer. Instead of going through than entrance where we'd most likely be walking into a trap, I used Ray of Frost to freeze the manhole closed, then we parked a cart over it and went and found another entrance.

Now, this, this is what I'm talking about! A really clever use of magic in a way that affects the world other than killing people .

I feel like even the smallest mention in the books that these abilities could have use out of combat would be nice, kinda like the 3.5e fireball, which said in the spell description that it could set fire to things that were combustible, or melt soft metals. All the little notes that reminded you that you were casting a spell with real impact on the world, not just causing damage to people, were taken out.

Now, what you did there with the Ray of Frost was certainly thinking outside of the box, but it does seem more like some sort of ad-hoc houserule (once again, don’t get me wrong, I think it was legitimately pretty sweet – bear with me). Very few powers have any sort of effect that lasts more than a few rounds. It’s a bit of a leap to say that an icy ray that slows people down also can lock inanimate objects in place. In fact, what you’re describing sounds like an Arcane Lock that has been fluff-injected to be cold-property, or even some more generic Freeze spell that has varied effects depending on what you cast it on. You cast a spell, and now people can’t open the door/open the manhole?

And you know what? I think that’s awesome. That is the stuff I want to be doing as a wizard.
And you can! Although the Character Generator does not YET support it, one of the suggested ways of personalizing the game is to re-fluff the powers (It is on the list of future changes to allow you to do this). With your DM's OK, of course, you could make all the damage types for your spells cold. Flaming becomes freezing, ect., or what ever you want for your Wizard. You want to mask your parties voices during that negoiaion, use ghost noise (or what ever it is as I don't have my book in front of me) to make a "sound wall".

Much of 4e is written on the idea that YOU supply the fluff, but most folks are not quite in the mind set to do that. Players have spent years arguing about the wording of the fluff of this spell or that race, and are not trained on how to deal with the game when it got left out in this edition. Think outside the stat-box on what you want your "magic" to be like, and RP it. Don't let what isn't described in detail hinder you, fill in your own details.
I want to play a character that, when the time is right, can really pull out a clever solution. I want to be running from the city guard with my party, come rushing around a corner, run into a tavern, and, with a few choice words and a momentary glow, bar the door from opening. The guards slam into the door, wondering momentarily why the thin door isn’t opening or breaking, before crashing through the windows moments later, hot in pursuit. But we’ve gained some breathing room.

As you've noted many of these are now covered by rituals which take 10+ minutes to prepare and money for components. I, as DM and player, have the same dissatisfaction with not being able to use these abilities on the fly as it were. One solution that's been kicked around the group lately is this:
-All component costs are halved.
- Player's can put aside money for a spell component pouch: they're assumed to have a variety of components on their person with a total value of what they've portioned off. When casting a ritual just subtract the value from your spell pouch.
- Ritual casters with Arcane or Divine power source use a ritual with the matching skill as a standard action and not cost. When doing so, choose an encounter/daily (we're still up in the air on this - tried both and can't decide) power of equal level: it is expended and cannot be used in the next encounter /rest of the day.
jeffepp:
And you can! Although the Character Generator does not YET support it, one of the suggested ways of personalizing the game is to re-fluff the powers (It is on the list of future changes to allow you to do this). With your DM's OK, of course, you could make all the damage types for your spells cold. Flaming becomes freezing, ect., or what ever you want for your Wizard. You want to mask your parties voices during that negoiaion, use ghost noise (or what ever it is as I don't have my book in front of me) to make a "sound wall".

Nice call on the use of ghost sound! Using it to create the sound of a waterfall or some similar white-noise would, indeed, probably work pretty well (the classic trope of secret agents meeting near fountains, for example).

But changing all your power types to cold? That's something that is obvious enough. Exchanging one equivalent keyword for another is one of the most generally accepted ways to modify your powers, kinda like the "rebranding" Darkless_One suggests. It's something I already do. People did that in 3e, people do that in 4e. It's not like 4e gave me some sort of special permission to call (and change my damage type for) Fireball, Coldball.

What I'm talking about is more what Alitain was experiencing:
Ray of Frost is handy, I froze water all the time to walk across small streams and such, tada! Once we caught a spy as he was trying to go down a sewer. So from what we gathered, more of his comrades were hiding in the sewer. Instead of going through than entrance where we'd most likely be walking into a trap, I used Ray of Frost to freeze the manhole closed, then we parked a cart over it and went and found another entrance.

That is cool. No doubt about it. But it required two things I don't think everyone is going to have:
1) A really cool idea =]
2) A DM who is willing to set the precedent that an at-will power can be used to effectively seal portals, a process that normally takes 25 gold and ten minutes.

As AxleLeft states:
As you've noted many of these are now covered by rituals which take 10+ minutes to prepare and money for components. I, as DM and player, have the same dissatisfaction with not being able to use these abilities on the fly as it were.

Yeah - a lot of the cool magic I liked to cast became something that you couldn't do spontaneously at all, but instead requires *exacting* circumstances. I feel like I understand what they were trying to do with rituals - making that sort of magic a party decision, instead of an individual decision, or as a backup if you need something your party doesn't have (no rouge, so knock is a good spell to cast). But the only way to do that effectively seems to have been to discincentivize any one player from casting rituals by requiring that the whole party be supporting the decision, both with their time and their money.

I want to point out that while I clearly enjoyed 3e, I want to also enjoy the 4e game I'm in. I'm not here just to argue without purpose - I really like a lot of your creative uses of magic. What else have you done, as players, to make your wizard magical?
You know what this thread may or may not need? More cool uses for at-will powers.

Cloud of Daggers: Anything you would use a knife for, but faster. Need to chop some food up fast? Toss it into a Cloud of Daggers! Center it on a log, and soon you could have a sculpture suitable for sale at any of a variety of roadside establishments. Its use is only limited by how often you need things chopped into little bits a slice at a time.

Magic Missle: Alright, so magic missle can only be used for hitting things and looking cool.

Ray of Frost: There is the aforementioned impromptu Hold Person, although I assume it would work best when you're using it on a hatch from above. Alternatively, just use it as a mobile ice machine. Drink too hot? Use Ray of Frost! Don't want that fish you just caught to go bad? Ray of Frost!

Scorching Burst: Lighting campfires, melting ice, rapidly cooking the fish you froze earlier, or just about anything else that would require a good deal of heat.

Thunderwave: Do you know that someone's on the other side of the door, but you don't want to get stabbed when you open it? Just use Thunderwave to blast the doors off the hinges! Subtle? No. Impressive? Oh so very yes. Alternatively, just do what I was going to do in a game I play in and just use it to move heavy things you don't feel like moving. After all, that statue probably isn't too historically significant. (I didn't get to do this because saw a switch on the statue before I had a chance).

Sorry if this turns out to be derailing the thread.
No, actually, those sorts of suggestions are exactly what I'm looking for! I particularly like your suggestion for Thunderwave. There's almost always something to knock over somewhere .

Maybe that could be a clever way of detecting an invisible person: throw a bag of flour slightly in front of you, then thunderwave it, blasting it everywhere.

I do have a harder time imagining Scorching Burst doing something constructive, given that it's a fifteen foot column of golden fire. Though it would be interesting to navigate your way through a glacier...
Lets see, you could always use it to clear an area for camping, if you don't mind a small chance of causing a forest fire.
I want to teleport. A lot.

There's a wizard/warlock paragon path in the Manual of the Planes. One of its trademarks is an per encounter utility that duplicates Linked Gate. You spend a few healing surges instead of gp. Very much worth the trade-off IMO.

The book also has a ritual in it for creating your own teleportation circles, though making them permanent takes a year of baby sitting (but that's what apprentices are for).
Thinking about creating a race for 4e? Make things a lil' easier on yourself by reading my Race Mechanic Creation Guide first.
There's a wizard/warlock paragon path in the Manual of the Planes. One of its trademarks is an per encounter utility that duplicates Linked Gate. You spend a few healing surges instead of gp. Very much worth the trade-off IMO.

The book also has a ritual in it for creating your own teleportation circles, though making them permanent takes a year of baby sitting (but that's what apprentices are for).

The PP is called Plane Shifter and I like it a lot
Ask your DM for a custom feat.

Adjusting your spellbook use.

Instead of writing up daily attack powers, you have the choice to add utilities instead of the daily attack powers.

Granted if might make you less formidable in combat, but utilies can add a lot of flavor.
Quick answer: abuse the hell out of prestadigitation.

When you come up from having been sewer crawling, your clothes always look freshly washed and pressed and you smell of roses (unlike your allies). Want to light a fire? Click your fingers. Want to reach something? Mage hand it. Food's bad? Wave your hands over it and make it sparkle. And spice it.

It's all the little things that make you feel magical, not the big ones.
If rituals are the main thing that make you feel magical, talk to your DM. You could ask him if you could cast rituals for free if you didn't get any mechanical benefit for using said ritual (a la Prestigitation).

Or, if you like the concept of choosing what you're going to be doing for the day, ask you're DM if you could prepare one use of a ritual for free at the expense of a daily power or utility power. Or if you could prepare another utility power at the cost of a daily power, and vice-versa.
You might want to consult with your DM as to how he feels about magic in his world. Perhaps magic isn't something that can be frivolously tossed about. Perhaps large, and/or complex magical effects require time and effort, and the fast stuff is only really available for quick bursts of power (ie, attack spells).

It may be he prefers the "Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble" way of thinking about magic.
You know something that would be nice for rituals? An item that lets you 'Store' a Ritual in it. You cast the ritual but instead of getting the effect right away you put it into this item, a wand or something like that, and get the effect instantaneously when you want, but if you don't use it by the end of the day it goes away.

Another thing that's important to note about rituals is that the component costs don't go up level. Essentially the higher in level you get the more often you can cast the low level ones...and they are still useful.

So that Tenser's Floating Disk is expensive at first level, but by level 5 you can cast one EVERY DAY to use as a pack mule without much of a strain on your money.

And picking saving your gold or spend it on ritual component is essentially picking between combat effectiveness or non-combat effectiveness because, frankly, the only use of gp is to get magic items to be better at combat.
58292718 wrote:
I love Horseshoecrabfolk. What I love most about them is that they seem to be the one thing that we all can agree on.
See for yourself, click here!
A day in the life of Moira Valn, Sigilian inquisitive and wizard.(3rd lvl wizard)

"Wakein' with a headache worse than the one I got watching the modron march, i checked the weather, a simple spell and no lie, but useful in my line of work(forecast, ES). The runes said light fog, that would be useful. I pulled out a rolled up cigarette from my case and lit it with a flick of my thumb before looking down on the street below then settled back to study an array of spells for the day.

The stake out was going slowly. Alfonzo, my Half-Orc Legman grunted and past me a tin mug of coffee which i warmed with a moments concentration. He then got up, clambered down the rope ladder, and set of to get breakfast. I watched the Brickstreet Ghost's hideout as I sipped my coffee. I knew from tailing Rat-Tail Charlie and dredging that rotten lump of meat he calls a head for clues last night (detect thoughts), that they were expecting the weapons shipment today. It was just a case of waiting for the fixer to turn up so I could learn the dark of it. This city ain't such a bad burg for a primer city, but compared to the cage is feels tiny.

The Brickstreet Ghosts have to Bashers out front, trying to be all canny like and not be seen, fortunately they aren't looking up here. I clambered up here on spiders feet durin' the night and secured a rope ladder so we could get into this little room in the condemned building we are using as a crows nest(Spider climb). Of cause, being able to see in the dark helped plenty, luck them burks didn't have the sense to keep an eye out for magic (darkvision).

'Time to get to work' I said to myself quiet, as the lady's whisper, as a tall and shady looking half-elf turns up at their front door. It aint hard to tell that the man is a blood fixer, its all in the way he glances around himself. Eyes in the back of his head, but keeping it subtle. You'd never know the dark of it, lest you were lookin' for it. Casting in hushed tones, i promised the air a future favour if it would treat me kind then pulled a cloak of forgetfulness around me and stepped of into the air (Invisiblity and featherfall). I descended and landed, quiet as you like walking right past the burks on guard, with soft feet. I stepped into the house, walkin' in the fixers shadow for a few strides and then turned left and moved as quickly as I could manage up the stairs into the little hanging office above the warehouse. I slipped though the open door and secreted myself next to the window to listen.

Scribbling down what I heard as the blood and the leader of the bashers rattled their bone boxes, I glanced around for other evidence i could give to my client. Moved deeper into the office, turning the page of one of the ledgers only to see a name I was all to familiar with, Nicodemus the liar. My cliant. That filthy, double-dealing baatezu scumbag has promised them a delivery today. Suddenly, the blood stopped talkin' and I knew something was very wrong. Lookin' up i could see the fixer standing at the top of the stairs with a horrid grin on his face.

'Nice to see you've arrived, moira my girl.' he said in a voice I knew to well. His features faded back into those of the damned devil he was as he spoke.
'Ello Nicodemus, you great Burk.' I replied in an annoyed tone, before jamming my hand out at him, giving him an almighty push with my magics (push, ES), sending him tumbling down the stairs. I set of at full pelt towards the top of the stairs and getting to the edge, hissed the last magic word of the spell and leapt further than any one has a right too, smashing through the upper window of the warehouse and falling to the street below in a shower of glass(leap).

I was up and running again in a moment hoping like mad I'd make it to the gate before Nicodemus and friends caught up with me."

To be brutally honest, i think you would struggle to pull something like that off at 3rd level with a wizard in 4th ed, and I consider that something of a pity
You can do it with a rogue or a warlock though :p you'd loose out on the cantrips.
58292718 wrote:
I love Horseshoecrabfolk. What I love most about them is that they seem to be the one thing that we all can agree on.
See for yourself, click here!
You can do it with a rogue or a warlock though :p you'd loose out on the cantrips.

I'd like to see those builds...
I'm having a lot of trouble putting this into the right words and that has a lot to do with the fact that it's currently 2:30 in the morning, so bare with me please.

I feel like wizards have changed (obviously) but though they have lost quite a bit of utility (our very noir detective wizard was a good example) they have in ways become MORE magical. I feel like wizards can go on being magical all day long in 4E without worrying about burning out their spells. The 4E wizard still has feather fall and jump/leap at level 3 along with plenty of flavor powers like presto and ghost sound. If it wasn't nearing three in the morning I could easily sneak a wizard into a tower...he just wouldn't be invisible. That's about the only difference I can see in this.

Does any of that make sense. Sure wizards had a wider range of fluff powers in old additions but I feel much more magical through the ability to cast many of my powers over and over and over and over or at least every five minutes. Imagine all the things a guy could do with his encounter powers every five minutes.

I can see some pretty cool situations taking place in that same tower with the wizard using icy terrain and an acrobatics check to go sliding down the stairs before he uses jump to leap from the broken window he just knocked the eager guard through using thunderwave and landing safely on top of a building across the street making his escape that much easier. He can also still hold his own in battle if he needs to....something I don't think level 3 wizards were great at in the old days, especially if they were using spell slots for all the cool powers to sneak into that tower.
I am sorry to say this but letting some one cast spells all day long without cost is destinctly 'un-magical.'

The great theme of magic thought-out Myth is 'power through sacrifice'.

There are good reasons why Odin had to hang himself Yggdrasil with a spear in his side to gain wisdom. There is a reason he had to cut out his own eye and throw it into Mimir's Well.

In modern meta-myth. There are reasons you rarely see Gandalf use magic beyond parlour tricks. There are reasons why Artesia must make offering of wine to ghosts of the dead or sacrifices of sheep to the gods and there are reasons why Willow is exausted after facing of glory for a few rounds.

If we look to any good roleplaying game about magic, we find the theme repeated again and again. Mage, Ars Magica, Unknown Armies, Call of Cthulhu and Witchcraft. In none of these games do you find magic being used, all day every day without cost.

No, giving unrestricted access to powers doesn't make the wizard more magicial, it makes him less magical. Certainly, it is a good design choice for DnD as a fantasy skirmish game, but it does a fair amount to kill the essence of the class and hurts the opertunity for roleplay considerably.

That said, the inclusion of rituals was a step in the right direction in my opinion, now if only their where more, with a greater range of utility and they could be tied to a cost other than gold piece value.

In an ideal world 4th ed would have provided wizards with magic more akin to that found in say monte cook's world of darkness, but hey.
I think your wizard noire example perfectly illustrates what was WRONG with pre-4e D&D. The wizard/magic-user could do EVERYTHING. With super flexible spell powers that could be applicable in almost any situation and all instantly at her fingertips what use has your example wizard for any other characters, except to stand in front of her in combat or heal her up if she gets injured.

Heck the thief was a TOTALLY useless class. They could do NOTHING that a 3rd-5th level magic-user couldn't just use some spell for and do with far greater reliability.

4e wizards ARE a lot more limited, and that is intentional. It isn't a flaw in the system. They no longer step on the toes of pretty much every other class in the game and they no longer become the ultimate star of every show as soon as the game hits 9th to 12th level.

I'm not against allowing creative use of magic for some limited purposes beyond what it is narrowly defined to be used for, but as soon as you start allowing ANY class to use its powers to become good at things that are the role of a different class then you elevate that class to star of the show.

This is most distinctly a problem with wizards since they use magic and magic really has no hard and fast limitations on what might in theory be accomplished with it, whereas most other classes are more mundane and there are logical bounds on what they can do with their mundane abilities which have analogs in the real world.

The limitations on rituals are just part of this. Yes, a wizard CAN to a certain extent step on the toes of other classes by using a ritual, but it is costly and not possible in a variety of situations, so you don't risk obsoleting the other classes. Beyond that, ANY class can in theory cast rituals if they want to spend a feat, etc. This is nice because now even a rogue could get rituals that are supportive of what they do best.

So, I think basically your example is fun, but it would only be fun for the wizard and not much fun for the other PCs. This is why the creative fun stuff is intended to be concentrated more in fluff in 4e. You can use your imagination, but every character has a place in the game where they contribute in a unique way that is supported by their unique abilities.

Now, could 4e put a bit more emphasis on things besides combat? Yes. But even if it did the wizard would still have to lose her super god of flexibility magical capacity of earlier editions to make room for other classes to actually be equally useful.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
A day in the life of Moira Valn, Sigilian inquisitive and wizard.(3rd lvl wizard)

"Wakein' with a headache worse than the one I got watching the modron march, i checked the weather, a simple spell and no lie, but useful in my line of work(forecast, ES). The runes said light fog, that would be useful. I pulled out a rolled up cigarette from my case and lit it with a flick of my thumb before looking down on the street below then settled back to study an array of spells for the day.

The stake out was going slowly. Alfonzo, my Half-Orc Legman grunted and past me a tin mug of coffee which i warmed with a moments concentration. He then got up, clambered down the rope ladder, and set of to get breakfast. I watched the Brickstreet Ghost's hideout as I sipped my coffee. I knew from tailing Rat-Tail Charlie and dredging that rotten lump of meat he calls a head for clues last night (detect thoughts), that they were expecting the weapons shipment today. It was just a case of waiting for the fixer to turn up so I could learn the dark of it. This city ain't such a bad burg for a primer city, but compared to the cage is feels tiny.

The Brickstreet Ghosts have to Bashers out front, trying to be all canny like and not be seen, fortunately they aren't looking up here. I clambered up here on spiders feet durin' the night and secured a rope ladder so we could get into this little room in the condemned building we are using as a crows nest(Spider climb). Of cause, being able to see in the dark helped plenty, luck them burks didn't have the sense to keep an eye out for magic (darkvision).

'Time to get to work' I said to myself quiet, as the lady's whisper, as a tall and shady looking half-elf turns up at their front door. It aint hard to tell that the man is a blood fixer, its all in the way he glances around himself. Eyes in the back of his head, but keeping it subtle. You'd never know the dark of it, lest you were lookin' for it. Casting in hushed tones, i promised the air a future favour if it would treat me kind then pulled a cloak of forgetfulness around me and stepped of into the air (Invisiblity and featherfall). I descended and landed, quiet as you like walking right past the burks on guard, with soft feet. I stepped into the house, walkin' in the fixers shadow for a few strides and then turned left and moved as quickly as I could manage up the stairs into the little hanging office above the warehouse. I slipped though the open door and secreted myself next to the window to listen.

Scribbling down what I heard as the blood and the leader of the bashers rattled their bone boxes, I glanced around for other evidence i could give to my client. Moved deeper into the office, turning the page of one of the ledgers only to see a name I was all to familiar with, Nicodemus the liar. My cliant. That filthy, double-dealing baatezu scumbag has promised them a delivery today. Suddenly, the blood stopped talkin' and I knew something was very wrong. Lookin' up i could see the fixer standing at the top of the stairs with a horrid grin on his face.

'Nice to see you've arrived, moira my girl.' he said in a voice I knew to well. His features faded back into those of the damned devil he was as he spoke.
'Ello Nicodemus, you great Burk.' I replied in an annoyed tone, before jamming my hand out at him, giving him an almighty push with my magics (push, ES), sending him tumbling down the stairs. I set of at full pelt towards the top of the stairs and getting to the edge, hissed the last magic word of the spell and leapt further than any one has a right too, smashing through the upper window of the warehouse and falling to the street below in a shower of glass(leap).

I was up and running again in a moment hoping like mad I'd make it to the gate before Nicodemus and friends caught up with me."

To be brutally honest, i think you would struggle to pull something like that off at 3rd level with a wizard in 4th ed, and I consider that something of a pity

You forgot the last line of that story. 9:45am. Went back to the office to do paperwork, out of magic.

Let's see how close we can get in 4e using just the PHB.

A day in the life of Moira Valn, Sigilian inquisitive and wizard.(3rd lvl 4e wizard)

"Wakein' with a headache worse than the one I got watching the modron march, i checked the weather by simply looking out of the window. The light fog would be useful. I pulled out a rolled up cigarette from my case and lit it with a flick of my thumb before looking down on the street below then settled back to study an array of spells for the day.

The stake out was going slowly. Alfonzo, my Half-Orc Legman grunted and past me a tin mug of coffee which i warmed with a moments concentration. He then got up, clambered down the rope ladder, and set of to get breakfast. I watched the Brickstreet Ghost's hideout as I sipped my coffee. I knew from tailing Rat-Tail Charlie (No equivalent), that they were expecting the weapons shipment today. It was just a case of waiting for the fixer to turn up so I could learn the dark of it. This city ain't such a bad burg for a primer city, but compared to the cage is feels tiny.

The Brickstreet Ghosts have to Bashers out front, trying to be all canny like and not be seen, fortunately they aren't looking up here. I clambered up here durin' the night, using my Mage Hand to secure a rope ladder round the beam so we could get into this little room in the condemned building we are using as a crows nest. Of cause, them not being able to hear us helped plenty, luck them burks didn't have the sense to keep an eye out for magic (silence - ritual).

'Time to get to work' I said to myself quiet, as the lady's whisper, as a tall and shady looking half-elf turns up at their front door. It aint hard to tell that the man is a blood fixer, its all in the way he glances around himself. Eyes in the back of his head, but keeping it subtle. You'd never know the dark of it, lest you were lookin' for it. Casting in hushed tones, i promised the air a future favour if it would treat me kind then created a minor distraction and rappelled down the rope (Ghost Sound and Mage Hand). I descended and landed, quiet as you like,l and used my mage hand to untie the Highwayman's Hitch and lower the rope to me carefully walking right past where the distracted burks on guard should have been, with soft feet. I stepped into the house, walkin' in the fixers shadow for a few strides and then turned left and moved as quickly as I could manage up the stairs into the little hanging office above the warehouse. I slipped though the open door and secreted myself next to the window to listen.

Scribbling down what I heard as the blood and the leader of the bashers rattled their bone boxes, I glanced around for other evidence i could give to my client. Moved deeper into the office, turning the page of one of the ledgers only to see a name I was all to familiar with, Nicodemus the liar. My cliant. That filthy, double-dealing baatezu scumbag has promised them a delivery today. Suddenly, the blood stopped talkin' and I knew something was very wrong. Lookin' up i could see the fixer standing at the top of the stairs with a horrid grin on his face.

'Nice to see you've arrived, moira my girl.' he said in a voice I knew to well. His features faded back into those of the damned devil he was as he spoke.
'Ello Nicodemus, you great Burk.' I replied in an annoyed tone, before jamming my hand out at him, giving him an almighty push with my magics and incidently breaking a few of the windows (Thunderwave), sending him tumbling down the stairs. I set of at full pelt towards the top of the stairs and getting to the edge, hissed the last magic word of the spell and leapt further than any one has a right too, smashing through the upper window of the warehouse and falling to the street below in a shower of glass(Jump).

I turned most of the ground by the back door to ice (icy terrain - possibly with the Enlarge Spell feat) to discourage pursuit, and ran like buggery, hoping like mad I'd make it to the gate before Nicodemus and friends caught up with me."

To be brutally honest, i think you would struggle to pull something like that off at 3rd level with a wizard in 4th ed, and I consider that something of a pity

Not only have I pulled off something pretty close there (not perfect, I'll grant), if she gets away she can recover in about five minutes and be as fresh as she was in the morning (other than for the silence ritual). And she still has her Sleep in store if they make it past the icy terrain (although that was probably showboating and she should have just sprinted).


Edit: nice story btw.
Okay, to deal with complaints of both Abdul Alhazred the mad Arab and Ranthanas2

Abdul Alhazred the mad:

Wizards are not 'super gods of flexiblity' they are 'super gods of speciality.'

Moira is a wizard fighting on her own terms. That is why she is able to achieve what she can with such ease. She is powerful because she chooses the playing field on which she fights. The last chunk of the story ends with Moira running for her life because things changed, spiralling out of her control.

That said I don't by the 'what does the wizard need the other for' line, characters should have better reasons to work together than 'party role' if my character chooses to work with other characters, it will be out of common goals, shared lives or danger, not some perceived 'need' for a healer or a tank.

Your right ofcause that a wizard can do anything that a theif or later the rogue could do. However, the wizard cant do it all day long, the rogue can. Fifty locked doors? no problem, the rogue picks them all.

The wizard gains speed and effectiveness, but looses stamina.

4th edition has stopped the wizard from 'stepping on the other classes toes.' by depriving it of what made it an interesting class form a role-playing stand point (well for me at least). What we are left with is a rather bland predominantly combat class which is hardly distinguishable all the classed that step on its toes. At this time, the only thing the wizard has that really makes it different from other classes is rituals, and of cause, other classes 'can' take on that as well.

I also believe that every character should be able to survive as an individual. If a character cant operate without other party members, your opening you self up to trouble to be frank it strains my suspension of disbelief to ask me to expect that no villain or set of events will ever force an adventuring party to be split up and have to operate either alone or in smaller groups. It's why I cant abide the hyper-specialists which are produced by optimisation. They are unbelievable characters who should be being trounced squarely by any reasonable intelligent villain who targets their weaknesses. Denigh a wizard the opportunity to tailor his or her choice of spells to a situation and well frankly they are in trouble. In short, that is why i don't by the idea that wizards ever completely stepped on other classes toes.

Ranthanas2:
Your identifying the innate friction between story and game. What is good for players of a fantasy adventure game is not good of people playing a narrative storytelling game.

Sure it is cool to get you powers back every five minutes if the aim is to take names and steal loot. But equally it can be cool to be forced to do without by a rapidly changing situation outside of you control. Their are reasons why 'the hero looses his powers' stories are so common in so many forms of media and myth


I am just heading out for the day. but there are a few more points i want to make with regards to your post Ranthanas2.

Also, would further adventures of Moira be useful to illistrate the point or not?
I think the problem is Zombieneighbors that earlier editions of D&D took it too far. Yes, a 3rd level wizard in 1e/2e/3e is pretty limited. But if you now consider a 9th level wizard things are a bit different.

Comparison of a 3rd level 3e to a 3rd level 4e character is also not quite fair. 4e characters advance more gradually and it would be more fair to compare to say a 5th level 4e wizard IMHO.

While it is great to say that powers should be all daily it simply doesn't work well for the vast majority of the game. There are still daily powers and the character's best tricks are going to be daily. Yes, they'll be able to function pretty well every encounter, but I hardly consider that to be a negative of 4e and you're the first person I have ever heard complain about that!

Also I disagree that 4e characters are such specialists that they cannot operate alone. There are certain classes (leaders mostly) that will certainly have a harder time on their own, but I'm not at all convinced they are crippled in such a situation. Warlords, Paladins, and Clerics still have melee capabilities and many of their powers will work regardless of allies.

Remember too that a lot of things PCs used a spell or whatever for in earlier editions are now skill based or can be accomplished using skills with maybe not quite the same ease.

Overall the two systems can accomplish much the same things. Depending on the DM and player creativity some things may be easier or harder, but the differences are not as great as they might be made out to be.

Yes a thief can open 90 locks in a row, except at 3rd level his open locks is like what, 30% or so? So really not so much in practice. In 2e at least if you wanted THAT LOCK opened now for sure turn to the wizard. If you want to be perfectly hidden turn to the wizard. If you want to be guaranteed to climb successfully, turn to the wizard. Thieves were just an accessory that took up a slot in the party and had NO unique ability at all. Playing one was an exercise in being pathetic.

Overall I'll take 4e for a myriad of reasons. It is a personal preference certainly, but at least a rogue is a useful character now and fighters are actually worth having at high levels and there is no more wiz-god. All to the good IMHO.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Moira doesn't sound like much of a team player, she'd be better off working alone on cases. More discreet that way.
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OOC, our wizard player asked if it was possible for a wizard to "pull his punches", i.e., lessen the effects of a spell. I ruled that yes, he could, but only outside of combat. My thought was that he was going to try to lower the AoE of some spells to be able to kick booty without endangering his teammates, and I didn't want to get into messing with the powers. He was cool with the ruling, explaining that he wanted more flash for his noncombat encounters.

As a result, he sometimes lights fireplaces with a very tiny Fireball, shreds meat with a very tiny Cloud of Daggers, and other such effects. As long as he keeps them in that vein, I've decided that they count as cantrips.
Your right ofcause that a wizard can do anything that a theif or later the rogue could do. However, the wizard cant do it all day long, the rogue can. Fifty locked doors? no problem, the rogue picks them all.

The wizard gains speed and effectiveness, but looses stamina.

I take it you only played low level wizards (which were far more of a challenge). Because in 3e not only did the limit on number of spells per day get a lot less limiting as your level increased (two second level spells, and a handful of 0 and 1st level at level 3 is a serious limit - but at level 13, a seventh level spell, two sixth, three fifth and five spells of each level of 4 or lower, more if you specialise (and drop evocation normally) isn't) but your wealth became such that you could easily have a stack of utility scrolls in your spellbook and even a handful of wands for anything you wanted excessively often.

I will agree with you that low level wizards are a good class from an RP perspective. High level ones were the ones that not just stepped on other classes toes, but danced a polka all over the rogue, leaving the fighter fuming uselessly in the corner.

4th edition has stopped the wizard from 'stepping on the other classes toes.' by depriving it of what made it an interesting class form a role-playing stand point (well for me at least). What we are left with is a rather bland predominantly combat class which is hardly distinguishable all the classed that step on its toes.


At this time, the only thing the wizard has that really makes it different from other classes is rituals, and of cause, other classes 'can' take on that as well.

And other classes always could cast spells. See: sorceror, bard, cleric, druid.

I also believe that every character should be able to survive as an individual.

And every one can in either 3e or 4e. However some are vastly more suited to it than others.

Denigh a wizard the opportunity to tailor his or her choice of spells to a situation and well frankly they are in trouble. In short, that is why i don't by the idea that wizards ever completely stepped on other classes toes.

Again, you're talking about low level wizards. At higher levels you get a lot of spells (meaning you can be prepared for most things), a collection of scrolls that will cover not having prepared properly, and a wide aray of extremely multifucntional spells (the various polymorphs, limited wish, shadow [x], and many more).

Ranthanas2:
Your identifying the innate friction between story and game. What is good for players of a fantasy adventure game is not good of people playing a narrative storytelling game.

Well, yes.

Sure it is cool to get you powers back every five minutes if the aim is to take names and steal loot. But equally it can be cool to be forced to do without by a rapidly changing situation outside of you control. Their are reasons why 'the hero looses his powers' stories are so common in so many forms of media and myth

Oh, agreed. But that is not what happened with 3e wizards. 3e wizards essentially opened their supply cabinet in the morning, put their daily allowance in, and pulled forth the number of labelled potions and bottles they had paid for. Potions which they could do nothing with other than what it said on the label, and could only use once each.

This is why to me the 3e wizard felt comfortably the least magical of all the 3e primary spellcasters (with Bards, Sorcerors, and Artificers heading the pack) - each of them was capable of actually controlling some magic rather than simply running preprepared tricks.

Losing their powers would be if Moira had to infiltrate an anti-magic field. Not because she's burned up her day's allocation of spells (or worse yet only has unusable ones left).

I am just heading out for the day. but there are a few more points i want to make with regards to your post Ranthanas2.

I'll be interested to hear them.

Also, would further adventures of Moira be useful to illistrate the point or not?

I take your point. Do you also take mine - that a 3rd level 4e wizard can do most of what Moira did in that story? And that the 4e wizard can do it much more on the fly by actually controlling the magic than Moira did?
It is worth pointing out that many of the low level "utility" spells from previous editions were merged into the 4e cantrips. They were not taken away so much as made constantly available. And, other spells were given to other classes, or reserved for later books (Arcane Power, for instance). WotC has stated in the past that much of the "missing" stuff is just in the pipeline for later.

BTW, if you want an example of someone playing a 4e wizard very "Magicaly", listen to the latest podcasts. Jim Darkmagic is played by someone that had never roleplayed until 4e, so came in with no stigma of "these are the limits of what I can do" from previous editions. So, when he wants to try to do something, like shoot magic missiles while hanging upside down on a rope ladder, or using magehand to disable a trap, he just tries it.

Don't think in terms of what you cannot do as a wizard in 4e that you could do in other editions. Think in terms of what you can do that you couldn't do before. Many of the descriptions in 4e are brief and vague, not because that is all you can do with the power in question, but so that you are NOT limited by the text.

You want a "open lock" spell? Use magehand to try to pick the lock. Want to "effect normal fires"? There a cantrip for that. Want your wizard to have rainbow colored flames shooting out of his eyes? Yup, there a cantrip for that too. You can even have your own theme music as you walk down the street. (OK, now I have to go make a wizard named "Staffed")
OOC, our wizard player asked if it was possible for a wizard to "pull his punches", i.e., lessen the effects of a spell. I ruled that yes, he could, but only outside of combat. My thought was that he was going to try to lower the AoE of some spells to be able to kick booty without endangering his teammates, and I didn't want to get into messing with the powers. He was cool with the ruling, explaining that he wanted more flash for his noncombat encounters.

As a result, he sometimes lights fireplaces with a very tiny Fireball, shreds meat with a very tiny Cloud of Daggers, and other such effects. As long as he keeps them in that vein, I've decided that they count as cantrips.

I very much like this concept, it just makes sense. If someone has such power over magics and reality that they can create large bursts of fire or clouds of flying razor sharp knives, why couldn't they manage to cook some food with fire or magically slice stuff?

One thing I let one of my players do that everyone liked but didn't disrupt any balances. The wizard had the daily, Bigsby's Icy Grasp, and thought it was cool. He asked me if he could do something, I thought about it, and Stone's Icy Drink Cooler was born. If he can make a giant icy hand that flies around and grabs people (provided once a day, but it's a big effect there) and has Mage Hand, why can't he have an icy mage hand that can fly around holding his drink and keeping it nice and cold for him. It doesn't do any damage, but he used it all the time in noncombat scenarios.
How exactly are the 4e cantrips different from the 3e cantrips of the same name? Other than that you get an unlimited number of them (I was always a fan of the Hand of the Mage wondrous item).
Hopefully this hasn't already been mentioned, but -

If you listen to the most recent Penny Arcade/PvP/Wil Wheaton podcasts, you'll note the party's wizard, Jim Darkmagic, doing this kind of stuff all over the place. Being a legendary wizard and someone who enjoys hamming it up a bit, Jim is constantly setting off fireworks, pulling coins out of people's ears, etc. It's all pure fluff of course, but neither the DM nor the rest of the party bats and eyelid.

So, in short... do your magic, and I don't see the problem?