Merriam-Webster: God: ...one controlling a particular aspect or part of reality
Introduction: Yeah, before you tell me, I know, there are already Wizard threads out there for referencing. These are the primary 2 for the 3.5 rules:
Logicninja's guide to Wizards: Being Batman (By Logicninja)
If you didn't get it from the title - Logicninja's thread is the inspiration for this one. I agree with Logicninja on a lot of things and disagree on a lot of other things. The intention of this thread is for players to get different perspectives and opinions on the class from two different optimizers who play a lot of wizards. Wizards are great in that they give a lot of choice. My choices aren't always right for everyone - but they will likely be right for some.
I also really like Logicninja's style. I've emulated it to some degree here. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all.
The Wizard's Handbook (by Dictum Mortuum)
For those who don't know this - Dictum Mortuum is probably the busiest fellow on the OP boards. I've lost track of how many Handbooks he's maintaining (including the "Making Handbooks" handbook - no kidding). His handbooks present lots of options - and try to keep out personal opinion. Very useful for reference. However - Dictum Mortuum keeps it very broad and open - which is great - but different then you will get on this thread.
The Conjurer's Handbook by Echodork
This is a very specialized look at conjuration. Echodork said this - which has served as a starting point for defining roles in a party (I wanted to give credit):
Benign Transposition: Two willing subjects switch places. Like, the big, stupid Fighter and the handsome Conjurer who finds himself grappled. No somatic component. Unconscious creatures are always considered “willing targets,” even if they wouldn’t be willing if they knew what they were signing up for.
These are the CO boards - and the Wizard is generally accepted as one of the top 5 in power levels. I've read through both Logicninja's and Dictum Mortuum's threads (which offer different perspectives already) and think there's more perspective that can be given those looking for more options for the class. I wouldn't waste my time writing a long thread like this one if I didn't think I had something different to add to the conversation.
Options are good. That's the one (and only) point I'll make on this entire thread that I will claim is indisputable. The rest is all based on perspective and opinion and can all be questioned and debated. Feel free to disagree with me - you won't be alone. Long as you understand that you are wrong :P (just kidding). So without further ado - let’s get into it.
A little side note about style Be prepared for me presenting a black-and-white D&D world. These are opinions - and I'm presenting them strongly, intentionally. Really no point in presenting what is essentially an opinion paper and being wishy-washy.
What do you mean God?
We've all heard that the standard party in D&D revolves around 4 iconic roles. For those who have spent the last 25+ years of their life NOT playing D&D those roles are: Meleer, Healbot, Arcane caster and Skillmonkey. The rest of us knew that already.
In other words - if you go back to Basic D&D there were 4 human classes. Thief (now we call them rogues to be politically correct), Magic User (now we call them Wizards since it sounds less boring), Clerics and Fighters.
However, rules have changed and party roles have changed. A party with the 4 iconic roles should do just fine - but I would define the roles differently.
Out of combat you have 4 roles:
Social ("The Fop"): This guy thinks he's the leader. Whatever - he does the talking well everyone else lets him.
Sneak ("The Corpse"): This guy sneaks ahead to scout the enemy's lair and finds and disarms traps for the group. Why do I call him the "Corpse"? - reread what he does again.
Healbot ("The Gimp"): Anyone who spends his character's resources for healing is clearly the party Gimp. That said - you want a party gimp. Preferably - not you. (though it can be done with Arcane Disciple)
Utility Caster ("Everything Else"): The party transporter, the party Diviner. One way or another - this is the casters' role - in other words - this is you.
That's it - everyone else is just taking up space. You should have all those bases covered - but let’s face it - D&D is primarily about combat. No matter which of the above your character is good at, if he can't contribute in a fight - your character is a liability to your party.
In combat there are also 4 roles - these are the roles that get filled:
The Big Stupid Fighter: This role involves two things: Doing HP damage to BBEG, forcing BBEG to attack you with his viscous weaponry. The Big Stupid Fighter is not always a fighter (though stereotypically he is). He may be a Barbarian, a Summoned Critter, or a Druid. In order to qualify as a Big Stupid Fighter he should be any character that actively tries to be the target of enemy attacks. For those who wonder why I would label this character as "stupid" regardless of their INT score - reread the previous sentence.
The Glass Cannon: This role involves one thing: Doing HP damage to BBEG. The Glass Cannon is like the Big Stupid Fighter except he does not want to take damage. Usually this is not due to superior intelligence - but instead due to inferior HP or AC (or in most cases - both). The Glass Cannon is often a Rogue (Or Rouge for our 13 year old readers), a Gish, an Archer, or a Blaster (the inferior wizard).
God: When reality would entail the above two meeting a rather messy end - someone will need to make some adjustments to said reality in order for the above two to instead meet glorious victory. What other label could such a force be labelled as than "God"? Well - how about "Primary Caster" One label or another - this guy needs to make Reality his Witch (replace the "W" in your head.) in order to do his job effectively.
The Waste of Space: This is the character of the player who thought a Bard/Monk/Sorcerer multiclass was an excellent idea - or who thought healing was a good "combat" role. This character just doesn't fill any of the above roles well enough to be anything but a liability to the group. You probably have had one in your group. Heck, you probably have one in your current group. Don't sweat it - as long as it isn't you.
* Why isn't the Healer useful in combat? Good question. There are two ways you can live your "pretend" life - reactively or proactively. God will alter reality to prevent damage, a healer will try to do "damage control" (pun intended) after the damage has been taken. Simple truth: The mechanics of the game make preventing damage more efficient then healing damage after the fact. That's not to say a well placed "Heal" or even "CLW" never has use in combat - but if you're doing your job - it should never be required as a primary role.
How Wizard's fill the 8 roles:
As a wizard, you can technically fill any 4 of the non-combat roles, as well as any 4 of the combat roles. You just can't fill ALL those roles Despite what you may have read elsewhere - a wizard has limited memorizations and castings per day - no matter the size of his spell book.
In other words - it's not the SIZE of the spell book that counts - it's how you use it. Though let’s face facts - the SIZE is still pretty important...
The Fop: Charm person, Suggestion - you can fill this role if you are willing to waste...um, I mean "invest" the spells to do it. Personally - I would let anyone else willing to fill this role do so.
The Corpse: Invisibility, Summon Dead Celestial Monkey (SM I), Fly (move silently), Divination (for scouting) - yeah you can do this too - but honestly - this is a last resort - let anyone else fill this role first if it would involve any risk to your person. After all - look at the NAME! Also - if you find yourself spending a lot of spells to fill this role, and chose not to play a Beguiler - you may not be an idiot, but let’s face it - you aren't brilliant either.
The Healbot: The only way you can fill this role is with Arcane Disciple (healing). If you do get delegated this position - I can say with authority - "ASSUME THE POSITION". Save your crying for after the others are asleep. At least make sure the wands of CLW are bought with party funds or you can change "GIMP" to "CHUMP"
The Utility Caster: Occasionally the Cleric can fill this role - but usually it will be you. Conjuration, Divination and Transmutation spells will usually be the ones required. Your speciality will be "Party Taxi" - but all the other stuff gets filled in here too.
The Big Stupid Fighter:
You can never PERSONALLY be the Big Stupid Fighter - but you can summon one. If your party lacks the BSF and you want to know how to fill the niche with your Wizard - you should scroll down until you get to my sig and click on "Mastering the Malconvoker" and I will guide you through the build of this wizard.
The Glass Cannon:
The Gish build and the Blaster both fill this role in very different ways. Personally - I'm not big on playing Glass Cannons - and will let others explain how to make a most excellent GISH build. It's amazing how many people on these boards drool over Gishes. "Oh please - can I use godlike power to become one of the pathetic grunts who get all dirty and bloody and risk death every battle?" The popularity is puzzling to me. Yeah - Gishes make great Glass Cannons - but I just don't see the appeal in NOT being God...
The Waste of Space:
Yeah - it happens. Give your wizard too many roles and he will run out of spells and be a waste of space before you can say "I suck". Multiclass your wizard and expect to fill this role until you get a few levels of your "Hybrid" PrC. Or skip the Hybrid PrC altogether and just suck forever. As in the above illustration - Drow wizard's really rock - well, at least they suck them.
This is the role this thread is based upon. Three kinds of wizards alter reality so that the Glass Cannon and the Big Stupid Fighter think they are better than they are. Those three wizards are Battlefield Controllers, Buffers, and Debuffers. Your best bet is to do a bit of all of them - but you can make wizards exclusive to each role as well without sucking.
Three Ways to Play God:
In order to be an effective battlefield controller - you should consider your primary goal to line up your enemies flanked by your Glass Cannon and Big Stupid Fighter one at a time and backwards, all while standing on their heads. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory.
In order to be an effective Debuffer - you should consider your primary goal to have your BBEG standing in front of your GC and BSF dazed, stunned, nauseated, STR = 1, Dex = 1, Level = 1, and Blind for good measure. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory.
(Note to readers: Debuffing can more literally be termed as reducing attributes or levels of opponents - I extend the term to be anything that impairs or damages the abilities of the enemy - which is why I include things like "blinding" to be a debuff)
In order to be effective at buffing - you turn your Big Stupid Fighter into a Colossal, Stupid Fighter on crack, and your Glass Cannon into an Adamantium Chain Gun. This will make the BSF and the GC win the combat with little damage to themselves - and they will feel like "they" won. That's the point - you're God after all, let the mortals have their victory.
Which is better? It depends. They all rock - but Debuffing tends to be better against a single BBEG, while Battlefield Control tends to work better against multiple foes with my experience. Buffing is more of a tertiary role for GOD.
Which should you concentrate on? Depends on your stats - which is what we'll get into next.
What STATS does GOD have anyways?
Unfortunately - no matter how close to God you become - your DM is closer. The point-buy, Random Roll and Elite Array are the most common methods of attribute determination:
Any way you slice it - here's the simple rules I follow when making my God. Highest stat goes to INT - no exception. My CON is always at least 14. Whatever else I can afford goes into DEX. This is before Racial modifiers.
Random Roll: Put your highest roll into INT. Dex and Con should have your second and third highest roll, and the other stats get the dump. If your 3rd highest stat is at least 14, put your second highest stat into DEX, otherwise, your second highest stat should go to CON.
Elite Array: This one sucks. Best you can do is put the 15 into INT, the 14 into CON and the 13 into DEX. Might as well put the 12 into CHA, the 10 into WIS and the 8 into STR. Stupid elite array...
Point Buy (15): Ouch - Put 8 points into INT (15), 6 points into CON (14), and one point into DEX (9) and dump the rest.
Point Buy (22): Put 16 points into INT (18), 6 points into CON (14) and you're done. This one fits wizard to a "T"
Point Buy (28): Put 16 points into INT (18), 6 points into Con (14), and 6 points into DEX (14).
Point Buy (32): Put 16 points into INT (18), 6 points into Con (14), and 10 points into DEX (16).
You will notice that DEX is the most fluid stat. This will determine how much your character will rely on Ranged Touch spells. If you end up dumping DEX you will want to avoid these spells (don't worry - there are lots of solid spells that don't require to hit rolls) - if you mananaged to maintain at least 14 points of DEX, they can be quite good and should find a spot on your spell memorization slots.
The "To Hit" rolls are common for Debuffing spells - so if your DEX sucks, you are more of a Battlefield Controller/Buffer - that's OK, these are still solid options. Directly Debuffing is nice for a power trip though.
What Race is GOD?
Your Best Choices are:
Human: Not your best choice, but always a decent choice, and human is ALWAYS listed first. The human benefits from a bonus feat (which is huge) and bonus skill points. There are no attribute or size modifiers - which makes the Human work best with low point buys (15 or 22) or Random Rolls that force you to dump DEX. The Human will work on other ways to maximize defence than AC and work on other ways to play GOD than "to hit" roll spells.
Strongheart Halfling: Gets the Bonus Feat (Still huge), a stat penalty to a dump stat, a bonus to DEX, and small size (which is good for both "TO Hit" and AC). This is pretty much just superior to a Human - but you will feel a little cheesy taking this race. If you are going the “Metamagic powered debuffing Ray spell” route – this is the race for you.
Whisper Gnome: Gets 2 stat penalties to two dump stats, gets 2 stat bonuses to two good stats. Gets Small Size (for To Hit and AC), 30 foot movement, and some other goodies too. You will feel a lot cheesy taking this race - but it is undoubtedly the best race for builds that concentrate on DEX. Also excellent for Ray casters.
Elf (Grey, Fire, and Sun - the INT elves): They all get +2 to INT without level adjustments, but they all get minuses to CON which is bad. You also give up the bonus feat - and are working with Medium size. The +2 INT is the best Stat increase you can get - but there are some heavy drawbacks to consider. This Race is for the builds that will be using Targeted spells that provide saving throws.
Halflings, Gnomes and Dwarves: These all get stat bonuses to a good stat, and stat minuses to a dump stat - but they also all have 20' movement without providing as many advantages as the above races. These aren't terrible choices - but they aren't your best choice either.
Other Races: Keep in mind that anything with an INT penalty or a Level Adjustment is bad (especially the latter). Nothing is as good as the Races above, but if you avoid INT penalties and Level Adjustments you can still be half decent.
What Alternate Class Features would GOD take?
Domain Wizard (UA Variant): If your DM is stupid enough to allow this - always take it. The best is either the Conjuration or Transmutation domains (big surprise) that contain almost without exception solid spells. Domain wizard basically will give you the benefit of specialization (1 extra casting per level of spell) without the drawback (no lost schools), oh yeah - you also cast your Domain spells at +1 level and you get to add them to your spell book for free. You are not limited in the number of times you can memorize your domain spells. So basically it is in every way superior to a generalist, and in most ways superior to a specialist. Your DM won't allow this unless he's a moron. If you don't take it when it's allowed - then you're the moron.
Specialist: Get one extra casting per level of spell and give up one or two schools that are full of lousy spells you didn't want to memorize anyways. This is an easy choice. Specialize in Conjuration or Transmutation to be the most effective GOD.
Focused Specialist: I like this option - you get to play GOD for longer than other wizards - and playing GOD is what it is all about. It does however further limit your range (so you can't fill as many of the non-combat roles - yawn.) Find a school to which you want to memorize lots of spells. I'll make it easy - they rhyme with Ronjuration or Ransmutation. When you are focusing your memorizations - you will want to think about this when picking feats - which I will touch on later.
Here's my thread onFocused Specialistsand why I like them so much.
Immediate Magic: Mostly, they suck. However, familiars can also be a mixed blessing. Here's how GOD chooses. If GOD is a Conjurer - he takes this (Conjuration Immediate Magic is great - like conjuration wasn't good enough already). If GOD is a Transmuter - he skips this.
Fighter Feats: To me, giving up Scribe Scroll for Improved Initiative is a good deal.
Conjurer variants: Enhanced Summoning is Scribe Scroll for Augment Summoning. For a conjurer - who will do at least a little summoning - this is a good choice. Rapid Summoning - this would be good except you already took Abrupt Jaunt. Rapid Summoning is more for the dedicated summoner anyways - that's not you.
Transmuter variants: Spell Versatility - this is good - especially for focused specialists. Transmutable Memory - This is phenomenal cosmic power right here. However, the price is very high. Consider carefully.
Spontaneous Divination: I always want to take this - but there's always something else I want to do with my level 5 bonus feat - and by level 10 I'm PrC'ing. It looks darned good though.
Granted Domain Power: This is one of those things I often end up doing with my level 5 feat. Why settle for a bonus feat when you can do so many other things. Some domains grant class skills (which can be good for PrC requirements), some domains grant bonuses to certain spells or spell types (Inquisition, Evil, Good etc), and hey - some grant bonus feats - but not restricted to just metamagic.
Other Stuff: Nothing else grabs me as overly important for GOD.
GOD created stinky FEAT:
("Stop Treantmonk!!! - our ribs are breaking from the laughter")
Flaws: If your DM allows you to take a flaw, take one. If he allows you to take 5, take 5. These are always worth it – and naive DM’s still think they are “well-balanced”.
The Metamagic focused Route: Take Arcane Thesis on at least one spell you plan to cast a lot and take a bunch of metamagic feats to apply to it. (For example - Arcane Thesis (Enervation), Split Ray, Twin Spell, Empower Spell, Maximize spell pretty much effectively debuffs anything). This route is practically made for Incantatrix's and Ultimate Magi. Does pigeonhole you a lot though - and is feat intensive.
The School focused Route: I like this option better, and therefore it is the option you should take. Take feats that apply to your specialized school, and maybe one or two metamagic feats to go with Metamagic School Focus. This option works especially well with Focused Specialists.
The "I want my familiar to be GOD too" route: It's amazing how many feats you can take that make your familiar better. Take them all and your familiar will be better than you. The question is whether it's because your familiar is so great, or because you aren't. Dictum Mortuum loves familiars - check out his Familiar Handbook thread for more information (no kidding - I told you he has a handbook for everything)
The "I think Metamagic is better than it actually is" Route: This is an all too common route where the character ends up with a ton of metamagic it can't afford to apply to its spells. Mostly this is just a waste of a ton of feats. The thing to realize is that although Metamagic can be good - it also adds levels to your spell - and even mid level wizards will be casting primarily low level spells. Metamagic is good if you have a trick to make it cheaper - otherwise it's strictly an "OK" option.
The "I wish I could be a lower level than the rest of the party" route: This is also an all too common route based on craft skills. Hint: crafting charged items (Wands, Staves, Scrolls and Potions) is the best way to lose XP without a lasting benefit.
Here's my suggestions for the Routes I would actually consider taking:
The Metamagic Focused Route: (Or - the slightly inferior but not terrible route)
Arcane Thesis: The basis for this strategy. Apply it to spells that benefit greatly from metamagic and that you plan to cast ALOT. Ray spells are a good choice. If going this route - you should take this multiple times - on different level spells. You probably can't afford to take it more than 2-3 times though - or you won't have enough feats left for the metamagic.
Split Ray: Basically a twin spell for half the cost but applicable only to Rays. Rays tend to be the best Debuff spells - so this is a good way to go.
Empower Spell: Proven over and over to be a mechanically better choice than Maximize most of the time. +2 levels for +50% to random results.
Maximize Spell: Although considered inferior to Empower - when you're piling on the metamagic - it is a good secondary choice after empower.
Twin Spell: When all the above are added to a Ray, and then you twin - well - that's a lot of Debuff.
Heighten Spell: An unfortunate necessity since Globes of Invulnerability can be of great distress for this build
The School Focused Route: (Or - I don't just want to be GOD - I want to be an AWSOME GOD route)
The Focused Specialist Conjurer:
Cloudy Conjuration: The first feat you should take. With the "Adjacent to caster" option you can place it between you and your enemy for full concealment until your next turn. It can also be used as minor battlefield control, and a small debuff. Is activated for free every time you cast a conjuration spell (even a cantrip)
Spell Focus/Greater Spell Focus: Lots of Conjuration spells do not offer saves, but many of the best spells of the school do. +2 DC is nothing to sneeze at - it makes a tangible difference to the chance of the enemy to succeed on that saving throw. The cost of 2 feats for that +2 may be high though. +1 with Spell Focus is almost a no-brainer though. It will help you qualify for Archmage, Master Specialist as well.
Sculpt Spell: Turn your 10' square Grease spell into 4 10' squares, or a 20' spread - or a 40' Cone - for +1 level metamagic.
Metamagic School Focus: Use Sculpt Spell for free on 3 spells per day. Grease, Cloud of Bewilderment, and any of the Fog spells are good choices.
Acidic Splatter: Not a bad choice for a conjurer since they have so many acid spells. Not hugely effective - but something to use when you run out of spells. Of more use at low levels - consider retraining later on.
Summon Elemental: Not a bad utility feat. This thing is way to wimpy to be of significant use to you in combat - but can be used to spring traps, do some minor scouting (like find out what's on the other side of the wall), set fire to things if you are a pyromaniac, put out fires if someone else is a pyromaniac. Not a bad feat selection at all.
Improved Initiative: Lay down your Battlefield Control before the enemy goes, prevent being flat-footed when the enemy goes. This is just a good option - no matter what the naysayers say.
The Focused Specialist Transmuter:
Spell Focus/Greater Spell Focus: Good for the same reasons it's good for Conjurer's. Maybe even more so.
Toughening Transmutation: This is very good at low levels - at higher levels you need another form of DR to "stack" this with. Preferably a X/- DR. Otherwise the x/magic will render it pretty useless.
Extend Spell: Lots of transmutation spells have long durations, and it's especially sweet to make long lasting spells last especially long with this Metamagic Feat. Note that Extend Spell makes the Rope Trick - trick useful a great deal earlier.
Metamagic School Focus: Pick three transmutation spells on your list and extend them for free. How about 3 hr/level spells? (Rope Trick, Greater Magic Weapon and Overland Flight come to mind immediately)
Improved Initiative: Good for the same reason it's good for the Conjurer. Maybe slightly less so.
Ability Enhancer: This is from Dragon magazine - so basically is added as a footnote - but adds +2 to any ability enhancements offered by Transmutation spells. Um - how about Animalistic Power?
Other Feats that GOD will enjoy:
Minor Shapeshift: Basically you add your HD in temporary HP every round as a swift action. Later on you will be using Swift Actions for other things quite often - but this is still pretty sweet. You can choose some other options - but nothing as good as the HP.
Alacritous Cogitation: Basically spontaneous casting on one spell slot. When you consider the spells that you can potentially have in your spell book - this puts Sorcerer spontaneous casting to shame. I never have room for this feat - but someday...
Arcane Disciple: Add some non-wizard spells to your list. This isn't quite as good as it sounds since the spells are cast off of Wisdom. However - by adding the spells to your list, you also allow yourself the ability to use spell trigger items for that spell - even if your Wisdom sucks.
Knowledge Devotion: This isn't quite as good for Wizards as it is for Archivists - but the + to hit is good for Ray spells, the + to damage... - well, the + to hit is decent anyways.
Insightful Reflexes: If you ended up Dumping Dex - then your Ref Save is worse than bad. Ref is also the save most useful for avoiding HP damage (and you are squishy). This will help quite a bit in that regard.
Spell Penetration/Greater Spell Penetration: Lots of creatures have SR - and as you go up in levels - they become the norm. You just can't have enough Assay Spell Resistance spells for all of them. Spell Penetration is pretty much a must. GSP is a nice to have.
Craft Contingency Spell: No pesky “one at a time” limitation contingency. Contingency is one of those spells you feel a little bad about losing along with evocation. Just take this feat instead. Use it with 1st level spells (Hello Benign Transposition) for cheap contingencies.
There are lots of other good feats out there - but you MUST be out of choices by now anyways.