Wizard: Death of an archetype?

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I'm worried about this whole "balance" thing that WOTC seems to be interested in all of a sudden. Let me be frank: I'm ANTI-balance. Why? Because I'm mean and I want fighters to suck compared to the god-like wizard? Well, sure, there's some of that.

But the real reason is that the archetype of the almighty wizard seems to be getting shot down in this edition. Does it make sense that the mighty archlich Vecna is suddenly vulnerable to Meathead the Axe's rust-pitted cleaver? That's bullcrap. Fantasy has ALWAYS elevated magic over meat, and previous editions of D&D have hewn to that, even at the expense of some ideal of "perfect balance".

Are we giving up the concept of the almighty archmage for watered down Harry Potter-style bumblers? What do you think?
i agree. wizards should pwn fighters at high level.
Then why not design the game so that you can't even play a fighter at the levels where a wizard pwns? If the fighter isn't going to be of any use then there's not need for it to take up space that could be given over to something else.
I don't play casters very often; so I'm not particular. When I do, I'm usually a healer/buffer.

What they intend to do , however, is to keep Axel the Axe Wielding Fighter guy from feeling completely useless when the higher level spells start to come into effect.

I have a feeling you casters will still be more powerful as long as you've got some fireballs to toss, some blindness to inflict, or what have you.
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I'm worried about this whole "balance" thing that WOTC seems to be interested in all of a sudden. Let me be frank: I'm ANTI-balance. Why? Because I'm mean and I want fighters to suck compared to the god-like wizard? Well, sure, there's some of that.

But the real reason is that the archetype of the almighty wizard seems to be getting shot down in this edition. Does it make sense that the mighty archlich Vecna is suddenly vulnerable to Meathead the Axe's rust-pitted cleaver? That's bullcrap. Fantasy has ALWAYS elevated magic over meat, and previous editions of D&D have hewn to that, even at the expense of some ideal of "perfect balance".

Are we giving up the concept of the almighty archmage for watered down Harry Potter-style bumblers? What do you think?

Meathead the Axe and his rust-pitted cleaver isn't a high level Fighter.

Miyamoto Musashi and his excellent striking ability, cleaving through armor with precision, is.

King Leonidas and his ability to throw a full pike across a battlefield is.

Cuchulain, who lashed himself to a rock to defeat a team of Druids, who would fly, screaming, one eye sunk into his head the other bulging from its socket, his spear shattering into thousands of tiny spears, is.

The problem is that Fighters havn't had their comeupance. Wizards shouldn't be more powerful than a warrior who devotes just as much time and training to the warrior arts in a fantasy world.
Call me crazy, but I like the ideas of my class choices remaining valid for the duration of a campaign. Sure, in fantasy there are plenty of examples of wizards being far more powerful than fighters, but those wizards are usually quite a bit older and more experienced than the fighters. Not to mention that in most works of fiction, there was no one wondering if the invisible force dictating the fighter's actions was having as much fun as the invisible force guiding the wizard's. Sure, class balance might not seem realistic to you, but its meant to ensure the enjoyment of all.

And as far as Harry Potter styled bumblers, you must not have seen Order of the Phoenix, the last duel was seriously bad ass.
Last I checked, fighters in fantasy can and do defeat wizards, often by wielding a magic of their own - both in superhuman fighting ability and in a more concrete form: magic items (esp. weapons).
Balance is life.

No one like playing a character for 14 levels and suddenly being the weakest member of the team, or for that matter being called "Meathead, The Axe.

The wizards have ruled endgame for decades. Share some of the limelight.
If that's what you really want, just cap fighters at 5th level. Feel free to laugh at them heartily and deface the character sheet and throw produce in their direction.

And kick their players in the stones now and again for good measure.

(Also, inb4 someone posts examples of ridiculously powered fighter fantasy archetypes that exist all over the place.)
Balance is life.

No one like playing a character for 14 levels and suddenly being the weakest member of the team, or for that matter being called "Meathead, The Axe.

Say what you want for you, but I would totally play "Meathead, the Axe." :D
I sadly can't find the original so I shall try to capture the essence of the great writing I found many years ago.

Choosing a D&D class should not be like picking an auto loan. There should not be pay now free later or free now pay later option.

'But why? Isn't that balanced?'

Sure it's balanced, if you play all 20 levels, starting at level 1, spending an equal amount of time at each level, and never changing characters. And if you are the one D&D group that actually plays like that it might work. But that doesn't happen in the real world and even if people did play like that the fighting man and casting classes never actually had an equal number of 'good' levels in the first place.


In short, lets make the system work in reality, and not in hypothetical land.
Well... At least we got custom avatars....
Fantasy has ALWAYS elevated magic over meat, and previous editions of D&D have hewn to that, even at the expense of some ideal of "perfect balance".

And previous editions are not as fun to play as more recent editions. They have moved progressively closer to making the character level the definition of how powerful someone is, not the class choice.

What you suggest is that players rogues, clerics and fighters are asked to stop enjoying the game when the wizard in the party eclipses them in power.

Or, alternatively, that a wizard is a absolutely required party member at high levels because there will be no other way to defeat high level monsters. Meanwhile, your unbalanced play suggests that no one will enjoy playing a wizard at low levels because he is not capable of anything useful until mid-level.

To me, it's important to have fun each time I go play D&D with my friends. Part of that is having interesting interactions with NPCs and advancing a cool story, part of that is also having exciting fights (hopefully winning 90% of the time). It's not an exciting fight for a first level wizard, currently; or at least the second fight of the night isn't because you're our of spells by then. And Wizards wants to fix that so that wizards don't have to wait until 5th level before they start being effective through a full game session.

The archetype you are suggesting does exist. It is the more experienced wizard, the "archmage", that you are talking about. This is a higher level wizard, not powerful because he has magic, but powerful because he has mastered it.

There are many fantasy novels in which those that have magic are the equal of their opponents, not someone that overwhelms them. Robert Jordan's mega-series is a good example. At first, those that use magic must rely on addtional abilities, such as swordplay or skullduggery. As they master their powers, they face foes that have also mastered magic and the fight is much more equal.

Actually, just about any story in which the magic-users are part of the protaganist's party fails to meet the archetype you are refering to. At least since Tolken's time. I guess fantasy literature has incorporated "balance" too.
Well, look at it from this perspective. The wizard, in literature, is able to cast nation- or world-altering magics that do Big Things. Meanwhile, the fighter swings an Axe, like in Meathead here's case. Now, if we were to balance these two things, at high levels Meathead will still swing his axe, albeit with a meatier style; meanwhile, our great wizard Vecna is relegated to swinging his staff.

Anyhow, all I'm saying is either that you're dumbing the wizard down to being some sort of weird ranged archer or WoW sheeper, or that you've suddenly made Meathead the Axe into some sort of anime-inspired Splitter of Worlds (+100000).

Neither is particularly desirable in my book. And in previous editions, they wanted archmages to really be powerful: hence the unbalanced 9th level spells in core. Which are complained heartily about, but which served a purpose- to make powerful wizards (and clerics) powerful. Meathead the Axe isn't supposed to be darkening the sky and making the People drink bitter tears of ash.
Fantasy has ALWAYS elevated magic over meat, and previous editions of D&D have hewn to that, even at the expense of some ideal of "perfect balance".

Never read much Conan did you

I don't mind balance tbh. Wizards did just get silly.
Conan is the archetypal Meathead the Axe! Even at his most powerful, what did he do? He swung his sword. I mean, that's just what he did. It was insinuated that Conan was overcoming Impossible Odds (TM) to whoop up on Thoth-Amon. Now how are you going to balance that against the wizard? Force him to swing his staff?
(Also, inb4 someone posts examples of ridiculously powered fighter fantasy archetypes that exist all over the place.)

Conan. ;)
Conan is the archetypal Meathead the Axe! Even at his most powerful, what did he do? He swung his sword. I mean, that's just what he did. It was insinuated that Conan was overcoming Impossible Odds (TM) to whoop up on Thoth-Amon. Now how are you going to balance that against the wizard? Force him to swing his staff?

He didn't just swing his sword. He used tactics, looked for advantages, chose his fights and the conditions under which they took place. I'm guessing that the martial power-source represents these sorts of things. To say that he just swung his sword is like saying Gandalf just waved his staff.
Actually I do recall picures of wizards swinging their staves. The staves where sheathed in red lightning that was shaped into the appearance of writhing snakes but swing their staves they did.
Awesome! Let me get out my serpent staff then and have a swing-off with ol' Meathead in 4E.
Now your getting into the spirit!
Does it make sense that the mighty archlich Vecna is suddenly vulnerable to Meathead the Axe's rust-pitted cleaver? That's bullcrap.

No. And I don't expect Vecna to have a problem dealing with "Meathead the Axe" in the future. Kord? Heironeous? Saint Cuthbert? Gruumsh? I don't think Vecna should get free passes over those guys just because he's a bigger nerd.

The thing is that Vecna should be god-like because he is a god. The restrictions on that are a bit tighter than "must be willing to handle bat poop." I hear Obad-Hai gives bonus points for that one, though.
…able to cast nation- or world-altering magics that do Big Things.…

1) These are literary wizards. They have an author who can come up with whatever they want to make sure the guy with the sword can beat them. A game can't do that, so balance is needed so that the fighter guy has reason to keep playing beyond a certain level.

2) A lot of times world-shattering magic, even in high-magic stories, requires a lot of time and effort to pull off. Where do you think "Quick, we've got to interrupt the ritual to stop Big Wizard Bad Guy from summoning Ancient Evil Demon Lord #42!" came from?

3) Not every wizard in fantasy goes around bothering with the Big Stuff.

Seriously, what are the fighting types supposed to do in games where the wizard rules? The two answers may be "magic items" and "tactics", but not everyone like their gear to be the character and not everyone is smart enough to think up good tactics. What then?
Here's an idea. Let's change D&D so that everyone plays a wizard. Then they can be pumped up with supa-dupa powers that surpass anything else in existence. Players could have secondary characters who focus on non-magical skills such as fighting, to act as cohorts, retainers and grogs.
Conan. ;)

Really? I would have gone with Finn Whathisface or that Sigsomething guy, or someone like that. Immortality, walking on water, cleaving mountains and that sort of thing seems a touch above Conan's level.
There is a term for a character who is superior in every way:

Higher Level.
There is a term for a character who is superior in every way:

Higher Level.

....or spellcaster.
Hi

I was cought by surprise when heard of a 4th edition, but then started to hear good things about it.

Seriously, about 2 years ago I was playing a AD&D Birthright Campaign, and it was simply awesome! Why? Because AD&D was a great system and my DM rules!

One of the great things 3 and 3.5 implemented in D&D was the capability to customize your character.

If you want a wizard that wears full plate mail and a sword, it's ok (not talking about if it is good or bad).

However, D&D has become too much like video games! "I wave my staff/axe/wand/artifact and hit my enemy for 1dX + 100 damage".

Jesus! I remember that my damage output was 1d8+4 and it was awesome in AD&D! My character was growing and everything was quite good for our group.

Today, I look at 5 books at least, in order to choose between dozens and dozens of PrCs, feats, skills, weapons, armors, spells and magic items.

Than I make a sheet to look at how my character will develop from 1st to 20th level, which feats I'll choose and which PrCs I'll apply for.

Seriously, I think that we have too many classes/races/spells/whatever to choose from. I want kits back! I want to choose a class, pick a kit, and fight the bad guys!

Please, don't think I dislike D&D the way it is, but I'd really appreciate if Wizards returned to revised old ways.
....or spellcaster.

That's what they are trying to change. You're referring to the 3E philosophy, I'm referring to 4E.
I really like that your choices in weapons and such WILL matter. It takes me back to the days when weapon speed factored into initiative and so did spell castings.
i like wizards. i always play as a spellcaster, except my most recent campaign, where i am the rogue. so, anything that restricts their usefullness makes me mad. :headexplo
yah. go wizards!
i like wizards. i always play as a spellcaster, except my most recent campaign, where i am the rogue. so, anything that restricts their usefullness makes me mad. :headexplo

*insert fighter player saying the same thing about fighters*

Just wanted to point this out. What are the people who like powerful wizards saying about fighters?
*insert fighter player saying the same thing about fighters*

Just wanted to point this out. What are the people who like powerful wizards saying about fighters?

hey, i love meatshields-i mean fighters!
seriously, though, i love fighters. the game wouldn't be the same without them. i just don't play them. so, no fighter-bashing on my part, and the real wizards here won't argue.

go and :fight!:
Sometimes it can be fun if the wizard has something like a staff bash just so when the BBEG has you up against the wall you can pull out that physical action that he's not expecting from a spellcaster.

And a weird sort of archer is a good class to have for someone who's ultra-paranoid about wading into combat………and that's the player.
In a lot of Conan and similar books Wizards aren't as awesome as in D&D. Their actual combat spells rarely do much damage (not the lengthy rituals that destroy armies and other machina) and are largly based on fear and illusion effects.

The Staff of Red Lightning Snakes I refer to above may have looked cool and actually effected the defender who parried the blow but the snapping bites of the snakes would really only leave pin pricks and the illusion of extreme pain. And of course the Staff would snap like normal wood when the Hero finally saw through the illusion and struck back.

The grenade like effects of the D&D Wizard are for the most part, pure D&D and fiction based off D&D.

Fear, illusion and dibilitating effects that have to be backed up with steel are more perveyance of the more normal wizard.
OK, I would like to say that as a long time player I have heard this discussion before, during second ed and 3rd and 3.5 nice to know somethings never change.

I am one of the people that feel that a wizard should have the ability at higher lvls to level citys with but a word or banish great armies to the abyss because they dared to revolt against his tyrannical rule. Why? because it's a reward for getting NO armor, the LOWEST HP's in the game, The lowest skill points in the game, a weapon selection of all of 4 weapons and several other examples I could site. In exchange they get awesome magical power to make up for 15 lvls of being the last at everything.

Well a fighter feels left out at the higher lvls. too darned bad! he wasn't feeling left out when he was doing 3-5 d 6 on a single swing or what about the current campaign I'm in where a pally/triadrick knight/ greygaurd does 90pts of damage on his smite attack(NO SAVE)and it's not smite evil, it's smite any alignment he feels like. A wizard runs out of spells way to quick, when a fighter never gets tired and can keep up the supreme/whirlwind/cleave chain forever.

rouges same thing: they get so many skill points that they are college professors by 8th lvl.
clerics again awesome armor,weapons and spells with no chance of failure for wearing armor.

So I suppose that in the new "balanced" D and D wizards will have a d8 for hp's and 8 X int mod for skills and be able to at least wear med armor with no arcane failure. " But that's not a wizard" is your reply then a wizard that cant level a small city or enslave a nation when he's casting 9th lvl spells isn't much of one either.

This is just my opinion and I didn't cite Tolkien because I hate the old broke down wizard archetype. I was able to use clone and trap the soul to keep my wizard young and alive for a few centuries. even in 2nd ed potions of youth were common for adventurers.

One last note please don't take this as "bashing" any other class I simply wanted to point out that all anyone ever focuses on is the "high" lvl stuff that wizards can do without realizing the sacrifices and care it takes to get them to that point. how many times have you said protect the mage cause in one or two hits he's in the negatives.
I love these kinds of wizards. obvious, i-am-a-mage type powers are fun, and so are mind control spells. the downsides for wizards are huge. gigantic. and fighters still get stuff like SR granting items and such.

hey, does anybody have any reason for playing a sorceror? they have all the penalties of wizards, plus crappy spell progression and spell selection!
Here's an idea. Let's change D&D so that everyone plays a wizard. Then they can be pumped up with supa-dupa powers that surpass anything else in existence. Players could have secondary characters who focus on non-magical skills such as fighting, to act as cohorts, retainers and grogs.

Say, isn't that Magic: The Gathering?
Make the game so that all classes are useful at all levels.

If you don't like it play something else or change it.

Me, I'm glad a level 25 fighter won't suck. I'm also glad a 3rd level wizard won't either.
The problem with having the wizard is the most powerful class is that all the classes are meant to represent heroes. Deny the non spellcasting classes equal chances at that heroic glory makes a fighter useless as anything other than a glorified body guard. And I don't know about you folks, but if I play a fighter I want at least a chance to strike the villain's final death blow before some mage burns him down. ;)
Really? I would have gone with Finn Whathisface or that Sigsomething guy, or someone like that. Immortality, walking on water, cleaving mountains and that sort of thing seems a touch above Conan's level.

That's why Conan's a better example, IMO. He didn't have any supernatural abilities. Superhuman, sure, but not supernatural.
OK, I would like to say that as a long time player I have heard this discussion before, during second ed and 3rd and 3.5 nice to know somethings never change.

I am one of the people that feel that a wizard should have the ability at higher lvls to level citys with but a word or banish great armies to the abyss because they dared to revolt against his tyrannical rule. Why? because it's a reward for getting NO armor, the LOWEST HP's in the game, The lowest skill points in the game, a weapon selection of all of 4 weapons and several other examples I could site. In exchange they get awesome magical power to make up for 15 lvls of being the last at everything.

Well a fighter feels left out at the higher lvls. too darned bad! he wasn't feeling left out when he was doing 3-5 d 6 on a single swing or what about the current campaign I'm in where a pally/triadrick knight/ greygaurd does 90pts of damage on his smite attack(NO SAVE)and it's not smite evil, it's smite any alignment he feels like. A wizard runs out of spells way to quick, when a fighter never gets tired and can keep up the supreme/whirlwind/cleave chain forever.

rouges same thing: they get so many skill points that they are college professors by 8th lvl.
clerics again awesome armor,weapons and spells with no chance of failure for wearing armor.

So I suppose that in the new "balanced" D and D wizards will have a d8 for hp's and 8 X int mod for skills and be able to at least wear med armor with no arcane failure. " But that's not a wizard" is your reply then a wizard that cant level a small city or enslave a nation when he's casting 9th lvl spells isn't much of one either.

This is just my opinion and I didn't cite Tolkien because I hate the old broke down wizard archetype. I was able to use clone and trap the soul to keep my wizard young and alive for a few centuries. even in 2nd ed potions of youth were common for adventurers.

One last note please don't take this as "bashing" any other class I simply wanted to point out that all anyone ever focuses on is the "high" lvl stuff that wizards can do without realizing the sacrifices and care it takes to get them to that point. how many times have you said protect the mage cause in one or two hits he's in the negatives.

If you think that 90 points of damage is worth anything beyond level 6 you really aren't playing the same game as most people. A caster can render a fair number of foes dead with first level spells (color spray the CDG) Ray of Enfeeblement can knock many opponents to the ground. SR is a joke and thanks to metamagic I can make magic missiles that give you a negative level per missile.

Rogues need the skill points to cover the fact that they pretty much need to be able to disarm traps, tumble around the battlefield, bust locks, sneak, scout, trick magical items, and others as well. The wizard has a high base int in general so their low skill point total balances. That and it doesn't help that many skills won't be seeing active use. Add in the fact that your wizard has int boosters, staves and other items and they are highly unlikely to run out of spells after the first few levels unless the DM is doing a major grind session.