Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Magic Spells in DnD Next

I’ve always loved wizards. Whether they’re called magic users, mages, sorcerers, warlocks, or even stranger titles, it’s probably the class I want to play. Now I’ve never been one to play the “blaster” type mage. I usually prefer the more subtle arts. This is why I usually avoided taking Magic Missile. I always felt like I could get more bang for my buck from other spells. Sure, the guaranteed hit was nice, but... eh. I was never impressed by the d4+1 damage. Sure, you get more as you go up in level, but even with 3 or 4 you’re still only doing 10 to 14 damage (on average) to a single target. I'f I'm going to blast you it's more likely that I'll drop a lightning bolt or a meteor shower on someone’s head, rather than the humble magic missile.

In 4e, they made magic missile an at-will power, which I thought was a good choice, especially because they made the wizard roll to hit. I felt that it was a good compromise. Wizards *should* be able to pop out (every round) low levels of magical zaps, but they *should* miss sometimes. Ok, yes, in Essentials they added a version that was an auto-hit, but it was also way less damage.

DnD Next kept Magic Missile as a cantrip (at-will) but they also kept the auto-hit feature. Granted it’s only 1d4+1 damage, but it’s automatic. Every round, at range, up to 100 feet away. Also, as in previous editions, it scales with level.

Another cantrip, Ray of Frost, causes no damage, but merely reduces a monster’s speed to 0, needs to to hit roll. Now, depending on the DM's ruling, this could be very effective against creatures in flight, especially if it isn't magical flight - stirges for instance.

Shocking Grasp, another cantrip also needs to to hit roll.

A few other thoughts while we’re on the topic:

Detect Magic as a cantrip... While I like the idea of it being something you can do whenever, just snapping your fingers to have magical vision? Eh. I can see it, but I rather like the idea of it being more of a ritual spell. Make it take a whole minute.

Mage Hand can go up to 50' away from the caster, but only 5' above the ground. I guess we can't use it to tie a rope across a chasm or up a short cliff.

Is my chainmail bikini getting in a twist because of a minor aspect of a early beta-test edition?

A bit, sure. But then as a fan of wizards, I want to see them handled well, because I want to play them, and have fun doing so...

For those who've given it a shot, how did you feel about the magic system?


  1. I was similarly worried about magic missile being an at-will spell, but given the hit point inflation of the monsters, it actually didn't imbalance things too much in the playtest I played in.

    Have you played yet? A lot of the things that worried me as I read through the rules turned out to work pretty well in practice.

    1. I'm playing in a play by post game, and I'm playing the wizard. We aren't very far into it, but so far everything is going pretty well.

      I've only had the chance to use Magic Missile once, so we'll see how it goes...

  2. Good article, I share some reservations, especially about detect magic. Ive dm'ed it thrice and our resident mage has performed admirably, sleeping, grasping, raying, and missiling. The huge sack of HP hasn't hurt matters, either.

    One thing I noticed reading through the complete spell list, many of the cleric spells out-damage the wizard, which I found unsettling and will hopefully be corrected.

    I love the quaint, retro spell descriptions, and especially the use of components, verbal, somatic, and material. I think the longer ranges are supposed to promote "opening up the game" from the close-in gridded battles of the recent editions. Like playing an ww2 RTS where the tigers and t34s are bumping into each other while they battle. Allow more room to maneuver!

    The shapes of spell affects are also well done, what is the one that is like a blast from heaven, the "cylinder."


    1. I agree, mostly. I think things like Ray of Frost need to be addressed, and I think this post sums it up better then I would: http://thetombsofakrasia.blogspot.com/2012/06/squaring-circle-helping-d-next-please.html

      Then again this is only the first draft of the beta, so we'll see how it goes.

  3. Having read the "D&D Next" docs, it appears a lot has been left unsaid. You apparently have gleaned more from it than I, I didn't even notice things like the magic missile having been changed. Do the things not specifically spelled out automatically default back to 4e? The docs seemed a bit sparse to me.

    1. It is sparse, but I think for the most part enough is there to figure it out. Does it default to 4e? I don't think so. The impression I get is that it's less about rules being spelled out for you, and more about the DM and the players figuring out what works for them. If you're a 4e player, that's how you'll interpret the gaps. If you're a classic D&D group, you'll lean that way.

  4. very nice topic, magic misilles i think that is what we call magic spells

  5. Thanks for your time in writting,when are you writting about powerful love Spells ?