Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

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Cloaker
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Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Wed Feb 12, 2014 9:20 pm

Reading the recent blog, some good points there. Of course, the beauty of this system is it is rules lite allowing for a house-ruled tweak that have helped make the magic-user a little more fun at early levels (without overpowering) in our campaign. This is with a year's worth of playtesting, and undeniably the most fun change we've made for our low level campaigns.

All magic-users have the "Arcane Dart" spell, range 30', damage 1d2 points. Automatically strikes unerringly, even if the target is in melee combat or has less than total cover or total concealment. Magic-User may fire only one a round. Magic-User has limited number of Arcane Darts daily equal to his INT score.

This helps keep magic-users engaged to be nuisance worthy, but still helpful in combat situations in a game day, provided they are willing to be within range to use (a risky proposition for low level mages.) This also helps avoid the ridiculous looking "belt of daggers" mage that sometimes emerges with some PC generation. For higher level mages, it is similarly useful as they can conserve more valuable magic and still participate sporadically in combats.

Apart from this, Chris's point about magic items being equitable to class in availability hit the nail right on the head. No other class gets the short end as much in most typical games in early levels. It's as if DM's are fearful of the power to come!!! Meanwhile, level 4 fighter dishes out 1d8+5 damage every round and is three times more difficult to harm or hit in relative fashion.

So yeah, let's beef up and reward some low level magic-users guys! They deserve the love!
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Wed Feb 12, 2014 10:25 pm

have you read the sleep spell in BFRPG. The MU can take out a horde of gobs without breaking a sweat. Every 3 HD or lower creature within a 60' circle must save or sleep. Thats about 75 peeps if you use 1 per 5' square.

If people are bored with MUs its probably because they would rather be playing a fighter. In one of my PBP games the MU has conned many npcs with the threat of turning them into a newt or some other such thing. He played as if he had power and he had a good charisma score so he tricked people into doing things he wanted. A MU can be the smart guy who pours oil out to light as a block when the party has to retreat.

With that said, I know I am a nearly lonely voice in a gale of desire for more powerful wizards. So if you must give them magic dart, make it 1d6 and give them as many as their intelligence bonus instead of their whole score. Even rangers seldom shoot that many arrows in a day. Or use the zero level spells and let them use them creatively like the MU who used mage hand to drop a pot of oil on a wright.
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bobtheoldcrank
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:34 am

You are not alone, Haywolf. Those who clamor for beefed-up low-level MUs have clearly never played one from first to, say, 15th level.

Cloaker, it's a trade-off. Sure, your 4th-level fighter can both deal and soak much more damage than a 4th-level MU, who is, let's face it, a squishy flesh-bag. But at 10th level, that fighter is as nothing compared to the power of that wizard, who can roast the meat-shield alive in a variety of painful and interesting ways.

In other words, the pendulum swings. In BFRPG, as in 1E, what you lose on the swings you gain on the roundabouts. If you buff the MU at low levels, you run a very real risk of totally unbalancing the game at higher levels.

You may opine that it's no fun for MU players at low levels. That's baloney. If the player just wants to be an arcane cannon, she's playing the wrong game (or, more accurately, the right game at the wrong character level). A magic-user's power starts getting remarkable at mid-levels, and when you get to high levels it's all like "WHOA DANG". All you need to do is survive that long. That takes player creativity and thoughtfulness.

That's why when I hear/read about a perceived "need" to buff the MU class(es), I only hear sniveling. :mrgreen:

This whole Arcane Dart thing is caving in to the whiners. When you boil it down, it's an at-will magic missile that's had its damage nerfed a bit. Snore. Why bother to creatively approach a problem when you can just "pew" out another nerfed MM? Yawn.

Magic-Users are supposed to be the cleverest people in the world, able to figure ways around the problem other than "Aw, hell, magic missile." If your MU player isn't all that clever, or isn't very familiar with Olde Schole RPG magic, give them the chance to "have ideas": Let them roll a check, and if they're successful, give them the seed of a possible solution. To extend Hywaywolf's example, if the party are battling a creature susceptible to fire, and the MU's player is mopey/frustrated because she can't imagine a way she can contribute, have her roll a check of some kind (stat, skill, whatever). If successful, all you have to say is something like, "Fire might help. Oil plus torch equals fire."

Tangent: That's something I learned from my first DM in 1988, and I never, ever see it at other tables: A mechanic for giving a smart PC what a less-smart player can bring. It's perfectly natural that a 98-pound weakling can make his 18 STR fighter do all manner of feats of physical prowess. But there's no mechanic for a meathead player to make his 18 INT wizard actually do stuff? :? It's the first house rule I learned, and I still use it today.

Grant the player 0-level spellettes, watch them get creative, and watch them generate epic stories - "Dude, remember that time I mage-handed the keys off that jailer?" Let them make themselves useful that way.
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shawnhcorey
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:28 am

When I play, you can always tell who is the MU. He's the one in the back with the torch...and all those flasks of oil. :D
Don't stop where the ink does.
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Dimirag
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Thu Feb 13, 2014 11:36 am

"Meanwhile, level 4 fighter dishes out 1d8+5 damage every round and is three times more difficult to harm or hit in relative fashion."

I supose this is against a 1st level fighter, but the +5 damage and increased ac is allowed only by the gm, not gained by level.

I agree with the comments above. Even so, there's lots of rule-changes you can do if there's really a need of change, but, to me, forma purely class vs class comparisson, there isn't any need.
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Cloaker
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Thu Feb 13, 2014 7:29 pm

All the above points are valid....but I guess I forgot to illustrate WHY I have an Arcane Dart spell (which is useless really post 4th or 5th level, so there is zero game imbalance as any MU mid level isn't really going to find the spell useful in those encounters.)

So yeah, the reason? I run a game for 11-13 year old kids.

They don't have the shrewd nature all the grizzled "get off my cleverly used level 4 Hallucinatory Lawn With Ventriloquist Garden Gnomes" spell casters have. These kids are first timers. And they WANT to play mages--but they also want to not be completely useless in combat. And to do a special check for their character over others, well, to them that may feel like special treatment. No real difference between that and a check for "ingenious ideas."

So would we go without an Arcane Dart spell with experienced players? Sure. My fault for not maybe adding texture to the thought process.

I will say this, Magic Users get played a lot more now, and they are having fun. So I guess that is what it is all about.

Good feedback, though.
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bobtheoldcrank
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:00 am

If fun is being had, and nothing is borked, then drive on. :)

Let me give a parting shot, though: If the kids are getting bored playing by the BFRPG core ruleset, perhaps they're playing the wrong game. 4E - where there exists in the core design an "at-will" power - or Next might be a better choice.

Does that make sense?

Cheers,

Bob
DiceClown
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Fri Feb 14, 2014 11:31 am

In short - YEP!

However, when they gain levels they start to become much more sustainable and potent. This is the main reason I asked the question on an earlier post, "how many spells can a spellcaster cast per day"? The answer was simply the same number of times as the the number of spells they have aquired. So, at level one they have one spell and can cast one spell per day.

Can I suggest something? We also talked about whether the Constitution stat was a "dump stat" - How about the Cons modifier (if any) + Int (MU) or Wis (Cleric) modifiers be factors in the bonus of spells able to be cast per day?

Example:
Level one Magic User
Cons 13 +1
Int 16 +2

Would be able to cast 4x per day. Number of spells available + Cons Mod + Int Mod = 4
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Dimirag
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:27 pm

You can "import" the healing surges from 4e or a similar rule allowing healing or the recovery of low level spells, this includes the con mod and lets a mu cast more spells per day but not more spells on the same combat.

Or you can use the INT mod (as its his prime attribute) to increase his level for spell per day calculation. So, a 1st level mu with a +2 INT mod cast the spells allowed to a 3rd level mu.
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Hywaywolf
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Re: Are Magic-Users Too Weak?

Post Fri Feb 14, 2014 12:34 pm

I understand why with kids you will want to let them play more. I started my girls at 11 and they had fun with pretty much by the rules, but I would help them along with suggestions (just as I do with every other part of their life) I didn't just let them sink or swim :).

Now when talking about older players, I just disagree that MUs are weak characters. Yes they are weak fighters. If you want to fight then be a fighter. If you want to use magic and fight then be a cleric or a mu/fighter combo and pay the 'experience to next level' penalty. The role of MU is not to be a fighter, but to be the brains of the party and the one carrying the heavy artillery that gets used when the excrement really hits the fan (spells). If you give MUs offensive weapons like unlimited magic darts (and using the INT score makes them pretty much unlimited) then new MUs don't learn to think like MUs, they learn to think like weak vulnerable fighters who happen to have a hand grenade or two in their pocket.

An MU can use charm person to create themselves a body guard if they also have a decent charisma score and can convince the person to take on the roll (most likely for pay, but better then trying to flat out hire a retainer). This is a spell that keeps on giving long after its cast. So you can use it one day and load something else the next day and still have the benefit from its use. Like I said before, I have seen other creative uses of 1st level spells by people who take an open mind into playing MUs instead of thinking that being useful means that you have to plink away at opponents with rocks and knives.
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