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Author Topic: Do you like your Wizard PCs powerful?  (Read 5386 times)

Christopher Brady

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Do you like your Wizard PCs powerful?
« Reply #135 on: January 06, 2016, 01:29:05 AM »
Quote from: Willie the Duck;872068
Mileage may vary might be the most important point there. Since 3.0 came out (or maybe it's since a large segment of D&D gamers have been online and a significant minority of them active on message boards), I have been building a sneaking suspicion that the theoretical gameplay discussed on 3e+ forums isn't particularly representative of how very many people play.

A lot of the things that are mentioned just don't conform to my own experience. It seems like a lot of the universally accepted truths only work in very tightly constrained examples that require an infinitely informed and prepared party to execute and don't take into account how most people play the game. I of course cannot know that because I'm not out there polling gamers on how they actually play, but it is still a suspicion I have.


Can't speak for home games, but that particular set up (2 Drood, 2 Cl'rics and a Wiz) was incredibly successful in the various Living Greyhawl/RPGA events around town.

I used to think it was a local thing, but given just how much of the internet boards that were dedicated to D&D made me wonder.

But as always, you may be right.  YMMV.
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Elfdart

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« Reply #136 on: January 06, 2016, 08:34:55 PM »
Quote from: Willie the Duck;872068
I think that's an example of the above. Burning all your limited resources in one fell swoop would definitely be a "efficient by RAW" way of winning an encounter... in a totally theoretical situation contrived to "win" an argument on a forum. In reality, no one wants to then go back to their secure location and rest another day so that the MUs can attack each new encounter with a fresh sleeve of spells at the ready, and no DM is going to set up the dungeon crawl to reward that.



I don't know why this seems like such an odd strategy. There are cases when it makes sense and others where it doesn't. For example: The Evil Wizard has scores of men-at-arms, orcs, ogres and such guarding his stronghold. Now a party might decide to sneak past/fight through these minions with conventional tactics; saving as often as possible the lightning bolts, fireballs, polymorphs, cones of cold, etc for if/when they meet the Evil Wizard.

OR, they could use most of those spells (along with the usual non-magical stealth and combat) to just blow away the minions as quickly as possible and hope that any magic they might have left, combined with the abilities of the other party members, will be enough to deal with the Evil Wizard.

I've seen both schemes work brilliantly and I've seen both fail spectacularly.
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Lunamancer

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« Reply #137 on: January 06, 2016, 09:41:56 PM »
Quote from: Elfdart;872317
I don't know why this seems like such an odd strategy. There are cases when it makes sense and others where it doesn't.


To me, anyway, the point is you don't always know which is which at the time you make your decision. It might even be a third case. You may THINK you know, and you may even turn out to be right. But just because you have success doesn't mean the strategy was truly sensible.

Like if on the way to the bank to pay your mortgage you decide to stop over at a casino and bet the whole thing on a spin of the roulette wheel. Even if you end up winning, it was still a stupid move.

Willie the Duck

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« Reply #138 on: January 07, 2016, 08:22:31 AM »
Quote from: S'mon;872151
I definitely saw in my 3.5 campaign that went to 17th level that players tended to go over to playing all casters, there was one battle where a bunch of demons ambushed three unbuffed Wizard-17 PCs... they were going to do the usual teleport-buff-come back routine, but I managed to persuade them "Please, just fight the bloody monsters!" - which they did, and won quite easily, more easily than three Fighters would have.


Well, yes, I've seen that kind of situation as well. I'm sure they'd argue that that is the absolutely appropriate time for the spellcasters to blow most or all of their spells to survive an unmitigated high power ambush, and they'd be right. And even if the rules don't promote a situation like that as much as forums might indicate, having the disparity between casters and everyone else (especially straight 20 level core class warrior builds) is still bad game design.

Still, a lot of the arguments I see seem to hinge on 1) spellcasters who never prepare spells at odds with what they will face the coming day (e.g. prepped all the ultimate-as-far-as-the-forums-are-concerned battlefield control spells, and then run into demons with infinite teleport or dimension door), and 2) DMs who don't counteract anything in the books with common sense.

I'm perfectly content to say that 3.5 in particular is unbalanced (not that previous editions didn't also have this problem to a lesser degree), but the game can be played enjoyably with some agreement between DM and players. I'm doing it now.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2016, 01:59:00 PM by Willie the Duck »

Kaiu Keiichi

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« Reply #139 on: January 07, 2016, 12:15:43 PM »
Quote from: Bobloblah;872073
This, this, a thousand times this. And I say that as someone who eventually decided to dump 3.x for all the problems I had with it. Still, some stuff that came up online is just... out there. One of the things I like about this site and one or two others is the fact that it seems a significant portion of the posters are actually playing on a regular basis (or at least have actually played). It's just a feeling, but it's as if the comments are more grounded (in spite of any  vitriol and bile). The same can't be said of several other large RPG-oriented forums.

I can only speak for my own 30 years of D&D gameplay, but overpowered Wizards have wrecked many D&D games I have been in, to the point of causing  table flips. When a regular response of many Wizard players in local NYC meetup groups back during the 3rd era was "Fighter players need to learn to play casters and learn real game play", there's obviously a problem. The OSR answer to this problem seems to be to keep play restricted to low levels, which is a non-answer (players deserve to be allowed access to high level content - no one "earns" fun.) My answer has been to ban spells beyond 6th level and to keep high levels the things of ancient lore, rituals and so on.

I also have implemented Path of War in my Pathfinder games - my fighter players really like it, and so far, the balance has worked out great. I also have banned prep casters, with Arcanists taking up the slack for Wizards. My Golarion games aren't terribly different from traditional PF games (I just got done running Iron Gods). So far, my table has really liked it.

These notes are strictly for my own table. Your games may vary.
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Willie the Duck

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« Reply #140 on: January 07, 2016, 02:05:48 PM »
Quote from: Kaiu Keiichi;872376
My answer has been to ban spells beyond 6th level and to keep high levels the things of ancient lore, rituals and so on.


We just required spell casters to multiclass no more than 1:1, so by 20th level, no one was above a 10th level caster. necessary 6+ level spells were rituals and so forth.

Phillip

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« Reply #141 on: January 08, 2016, 01:44:11 AM »
Quote from: Kaiu Keiichi;872376
The OSR answer to this problem seems to be to keep play restricted to low levels, which is a non-answer (players deserve to be allowed access to high level content - no one "earns" fun.) My answer has been to ban spells beyond 6th level and to keep high levels the things of ancient lore, rituals and so on.
6th level spells (or 5th for clerics) were the highest in the game as originally published, and according to Gary nobody had got to 14th level after 4 years of the Greyhawk campaign (and 5 of Blackmoor).

To what "high level content" are players entitled?  Two Death Stars stocked with 40th-level vampire gorgons riding shadow dragons? A 128th-level figure with a quarter of all magic items ever published in some set of books and magazines?

Over what period of time? And what then, when a finite game -- for so it must be, if one is 'entitled' to everything -- has been exhausted? Yet if the possibilities are endless, then one can never have seen all!

The real answer is to run a tough but fair game, one in which POWER is  earned. FUN for players in my experience is not getting handed things on a silver platter. Fun is solving problems and trying things to see what happens. Fun is striving for goals when that requires skill and luck to avoid failure.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2016, 01:46:21 AM by Phillip »
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S'mon

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« Reply #142 on: January 08, 2016, 04:37:06 AM »
Quote from: Phillip;872521
6th level spells (or 5th for clerics) were the highest in the game as originally published, and according to Gary nobody had got to 14th level after 4 years of the Greyhawk campaign (and 5 of Blackmoor).


Yeah, I wish they'd stuck with the original spell level limits. Gygax started the rot taking MU spells to 9 in Greyhawk, and 3e completed it by taking Cleric spells to 9 too - I've seen stuff in 3e like a Cleric spell that gives you a free Iron Golem for 10 minutes/level, and that's not even top tier stuff.

Willie the Duck

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« Reply #143 on: January 08, 2016, 08:14:47 AM »
Quote from: Phillip;872521
To what "high level content" are players entitled?  Two Death Stars stocked with 40th-level vampire gorgons riding shadow dragons? A 128th-level figure with a quarter of all magic items ever published in some set of books and magazines?

Over what period of time? And what then, when a finite game -- for so it must be, if one is 'entitled' to everything -- has been exhausted? Yet if the possibilities are endless, then one can never have seen all!

The real answer is to run a tough but fair game, one in which POWER is  earned. FUN for players in my experience is not getting handed things on a silver platter. Fun is solving problems and trying things to see what happens. Fun is striving for goals when that requires skill and luck to avoid failure.


I'm a little leery of using the term 'entitled' here. We don't really know how many people are walking around saying 'I deserve a 17th level spell-caster who can totally break open this game and make it unfun for someone trying to play a fighter.' What we know we have is forumers saying 'y'know, there's some really high-powered stuff here that kinda breaks the game open.'

Quote from: S'mon;872534
Yeah, I wish they'd stuck with the original spell level limits. Gygax started the rot taking MU spells to 9 in Greyhawk, and 3e completed it by taking Cleric spells to 9 too - I've seen stuff in 3e like a Cleric spell that gives you a free Iron Golem for 10 minutes/level, and that's not even top tier stuff.


3e seems to have it's Arduin Grimoire stuff built into it's official splats, to be sure, but as you point out, it's hardly new.

Lunamancer

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« Reply #144 on: January 08, 2016, 10:23:30 AM »
Quote from: Willie the Duck;872554
I'm a little leery of using the term 'entitled' here. We don't really know how many people are walking around saying 'I deserve a 17th level spell-caster who can totally break open this game and make it unfun for someone trying to play a fighter.' What we know we have is forumers saying 'y'know, there's some really high-powered stuff here that kinda breaks the game open.'


Look what he was responding to, though--the comment that just playing the game at a lower level isn't the answer. I probably wouldn't have used the word "entitled" but he nailed the general idea. Just because higher levels were included in the game doesn't mean they have to get played. I saw this mentality creep in with a lot of 2nd Ed campaigns as well, you might recall attribute scores up to 25 were included in the players handbook. There suddenly seemed to be a lot more reasons to have scores in the 20's, not the last of which was Dark Sun where the character generation method allowed scores of 20 before things like racial modifiers were applied.

So here are the choices.

1) You can keep the game as is, where the high power stuff is printed, but yeah, you're not really supposed to touch it much.
2) You can just remove that content from the game or at least the PHB, kind of like how the 1st Ed PHB didn't show stats above 18 (even though it is possible BTB to have higher scores).
3) You can keep things as is and just suck it up, realizing that 1st Ed had stats for gods, that at 12th-14th level PCs are approaching demi-god level, and recognize it's not the power level that's broken but rather your expectations, and shift those expectations to running a game for demi-gods, or
4) The Spinal Tap solution, where you are basically doing #2, restricting MU's to about level 10 or so, but then are just calling it '11' (or '20' or whatever level you think the game ought to go up to).

I just don't see how something like #1 or #2 is "not the answer" but #4 is.

Though I did find the mandatory multi-classing an interesting idea. Mainly because, in non-mandatory form, it's always the answer I gave to people who bitched about 1st Ed level limits for demi-humans. Don't like them? Multi-class as a thief. You'll still improve beyond your max level in the other class, it would just be a slow rate of power gain... which is what a lot of DMs back then house-ruled anyway, allowing level progression to continue, just requiring  double (or more) normal XP.

Opaopajr

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« Reply #145 on: January 08, 2016, 12:45:17 PM »
See what happens when Monty Haul's campaigns don't have good timekeeping? (Insert Gygax's exhortation that 'Timekeeping Is Essential' here.)

I also thought session XP caps were a good idea to maintain pacing. Even works well in mixed level parties. But then I like AD&D 2e and its many fabulous widgets. :p
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Phillip

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« Reply #146 on: January 10, 2016, 07:17:17 PM »
I don't think it makes a substantial difference, but in fairness Kaiu Keiichi did write "deserve access to" rather than "are entitled to."

To rephrase my point, it is that there is no container, no fixed set of content. "High level" is a relative term, and an open ended one: there is no upper limit of height.

That was explicitly stated as a theoretical premise in the original Vol. 1, but it quickly became evident that the game in practice tended to yield diminishing returns in interest above 'name' level, and of course beyond the point (13th-16th level) where things such as attack and save tables topped out.

To see the game as a finite-state system that can fully be explored within some period of time, and to see that as defined by publicly identified 'content' -- a list of character levels, monsters, spells and magic items -- may seem natural to people accustomed to the limitations of computerized games.  I think however that it does a disservice to the really open-ended potential for variety in situations that originally stood out as a great part of the game's appeal when compared with board games and even ordinary miniatures campaigns.
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Lunamancer

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« Reply #147 on: January 10, 2016, 07:48:42 PM »
Quote from: Phillip;872900
That was explicitly stated as a theoretical premise in the original Vol. 1, but it quickly became evident that the game in practice tended to yield diminishing returns in interest above 'name' level, and of course beyond the point (13th-16th level) where things such as attack and save tables topped out.


Does it? Attack and save tables top out at 17 for fighters, 21 for thieves. Fighters don't max out their multiple attacks until level 13. So there's still a lot of stuff going on beyond that point. The big thing I'd point out, though, is the XP progression table. It's no longer doubling each level. The amount of XP a fighter needs to get from level 10 to 11 is the same as what he needs to get from level 16 to 17. Only at level 16, he's got 18 more hit points, 6 points better on attack tables, and an extra attack every other round with which to earn that same amount of XP. I'd like to suggest that any slowdown in progression per level is offset by leveling becoming relatively easier.

The other thing I'd point out related to that, because XP required basically doubles each level up to name level, if you've got only half the XP of the rest of the party, you're only 1 level behind. But after name level? If one fighter earns only half as many XP as another beyond name level, if the higher guy hits 17, the lower guy is just reaching 13. I bring this up because the magic-user level progression requires the most XP. Prior to name level, it's not a huge deal. Afterwards, however? Yeah, in the time it takes the mage to go from 10th to 15th level, the party thief has shot from 10th to 20th.


I also question just how much of a game-changer those 7th level spells really are. I was perusing the list. A lot of them are just marginally improved versions of spells you already have access to. One of them, Duo Dimension, I found particularly funny because I have this other RPG I play that has a power that does the exact same thing, only it's considered the weakest grade of magic in the game. Maybe the Limited Wish intimidates a lot of GMs. I just like to think of it as D&D's preemptive answer to the so-called "innovative" free-form magic systems that came out in the 90s and beyond.

rawma

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« Reply #148 on: January 10, 2016, 08:36:15 PM »
Quote from: Lunamancer;872903
Does it? Attack and save tables top out at 17 for fighters, 21 for thieves. Fighters don't max out their multiple attacks until level 13. So there's still a lot of stuff going on beyond that point. The big thing I'd point out, though, is the XP progression table. It's no longer doubling each level. The amount of XP a fighter needs to get from level 10 to 11 is the same as what he needs to get from level 16 to 17. Only at level 16, he's got 18 more hit points, 6 points better on attack tables, and an extra attack every other round with which to earn that same amount of XP. I'd like to suggest that any slowdown in progression per level is offset by leveling becoming relatively easier.


I'm pretty sure Philip was talking about the original D&D books without the supplements; although volume 1 (Men & Magic) does say there is no limit on level, it's also true that the saving throw tables stop changing for Fighters at 16th level and for MUs and Clerics at 13th level, and the combat table at 16th level for Fighters (although MUs could continue to advance on that table until 26th level, since they advanced by 5 levels rather than 3). More significantly, there were no spells past 6th level MU (obtained at 12th level) or 5th level Cleric (obtained at 7th level).

Phillip

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« Reply #149 on: January 10, 2016, 09:27:44 PM »
Quote from: rawma;872917
(although MUs could continue to advance on that table until 26th level, since they advanced by 5 levels rather than 3).
I've used a cap of 16+ for MUs (4th column), 17+ for Clerics (5th), and 16+ for Fighting Men (6th).  If memory serves, that's in accordance with the official Ready Ref Sheets, but I haven't run OD&D with figures at those levels in ages.

As I recall Swords & Spells extended the table for Fighters, and also revised the progression for monsters.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 09:41:48 PM by Phillip »
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