Wizards get tired, Warriors never do…?

I am currently working on Dungeon Delvers! and while driving home tonight a thought came to me (I seem to do ‘deep thoughts’ while driving). As gamers we are taught to believe that the reason wizards or mages can only cast so many spells before they exhaust their ‘resources’ of magic. Be it spell points, or spell per day/level, or whatever the rules call for, we have this ingrained belief that a wizard can only cast X number of spells per day because that is just the way it is.

Why?

A warrior’ measure of power is how much damage he can do with his weapon of choice, but he can swing that bad boy around all day long, never getting exhausted. We don’t have a “At third level, a warrior can swing his sword 5 times before getting tired”…but that exists for the wizard. I have not done an in depth study, but I wonder if we took the damage a warrior can do per round, and continue to do per round after round and compared it to a wizards ability, which usually only lasts a few rounds. A rough, and not very well researched guess makes me think that a warrior could do about 40 points of damage in say 10 rounds where as a wizard would run out of ammo (spells) after about 4 or so rounds and tap out somewhere around 15 to 18 points of damage. I am sure someone with way more free time can come up with a more detailed analysis on this.

The one fault I can think of with this, is spells that have area of effect such as “sleep” that can affect numerous people. I wonder if you all the ‘damage’ caused here if it would throw off the above idea, or if it back me up. I wonder if a wizard could continually cast spells would ‘upset the oh-so-important balance’ of the game.

So back to DD! I am wondering if allowing wizards more flexibility to cast spells…on a more continual basis…would destroy the game, or make it better. If a wizard was allowed to cast spells at will without emptying his gas tank but perhaps only need to make a spell casting check when he was stressed or trying something much harder than average, would that make a wizard more playable or throw the game out of whack?

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4 thoughts on “Wizards get tired, Warriors never do…?

  1. Well, obviously D&D 4e has provided an example of D&D in which the wizard can continue to casts spells indefinitely (at-will powers) and the warrior gets tired (runs out of daily powers). 4e may or may not be to your taste, of course.

    If 4e is not your edition, you could still steal the idea of an at-will attack for the wizard: say, for instance, that the wizard can cast Magic Missile once a round, or perhaps some custom-designed spell of the appropriate power level (Magic Missile with a saving throw, perhaps).

    When DMing 3.5, I ruled that wizards could cast all cantrips at-will, which meant that, when all else failed, wizards could cast Acid Splash. It certainly wasn’t OVERpowered.

  2. For this reply, I’m assuming D&D as the system of reference.

    A first-level wizards ends a first-level encounter in one round. He doesn’t need 4-5 rounds of continuous spellcasting to deal out damage… if you’re playing a blaster wizard, you’re doing it wrong.

    Sleep. One casting of sleep, and several (forget the exact number) goblins just fall over, and the party dwarf goes around delivering a CDG to each one. Autocritx3, save or die.

    So comparing a wizard’s damage potential to a fighter’s isn’t really fair, since a wizard doing nothing but dealing damage isn’t living up to his potential. Even so, a 10th level wizard is throwing out 10d6 damage fireballs, with an area effect, while a fighter with a greatsword is -likely- dealing about 2d6+6.

    The higher you go in level, the more any spellcasting class begins to dominate the game, no matter what restrictions you put on it.

  3. Nathan: the problem is that they tap out if they have limited resources; and at low levels their available list of spells is extremely important. Typically a 4th or 5th level mage will use the same spell a lot, and soon run out (in D&D 3rd ed, a 4th level mage has 5 or 6 spells, typically). It’s particularly annoying if you want them to be able to cast utility spells as well as combat spells.

    Warhammer 3rd edition has an interesting way around this. There are no spells per day, but wizards only have a few spells (called “actions”). These spells cost a certain amount of power, but the wizard can choose to draw this power at any time, as an action in combat. So if the wizard has, say, 6 power points, and a spell costs 4, then after they cast the spell the following round they can try to draw on another 4 points of power to replenish their pool.

    Warhammer 3 also makes the process of drawing and holding power risky, so if you try to draw too much (or accidentally draw too much) you risk fatigue/stress/insanity. And warhammer 3 also has a fatigue system for melee actions, so it’s possible you can hit your target but wear yourself out.

    This means a versatile wizard will do non-spell-casting stuff, and a wizard who wants to focus on spell-casting is going to be taking a lot of risks in combat if they want to cast often. Alternatively, a warrior with lots of fancy actions (or a low toughness) will spend a lot of time fighting exhausted.

    I like this approach to resource management, provided the fatigue, etc. are easy to track (which, in WFRP 3, they are).

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