Sunday, September 14, 2014

How Important are PC Spellcasters in Your Campaign?

I remember when I ran AD&D (1e and 2e) back in my college days clerics were rare as PCs. If the party was lucky they had a Paladin with his laying of hands ability and a crap load of potions. Magic-users weren't much more common, and once I banned Bladesingers from ever again being used in our group, I'm not sure we ever had one again.

It certainly made writing adventures for the group a bit of a challenge, as the party was built more for head on combat than it was stealth or death from afar. I also found myself using less NPC spellcasters, for the few I used were damn tough on a party that lacked a response. Remeber, the goal at the end of the night is for everyone to have fun.

In the playtest of The Unmaking Campaign, we lake a magic-user. So, no sleep spells to save our bacon. No web, invisibility or fireballs as we rise in level. I doubt +Jason Paul McCartan is going to change the campaign to conform to the PCs - this is, of course, a playtest. Instead, it will force us to overcome out shortcomings.

So, how important are PC spellcasters in your campaign?


  1. I would think that the importance is dependent upon the style of play for the group.

    We always had someone who wanted to play a magic type... although more often as a multiclass than straight up. The application of magic allowed greater versatility in the application of our abilities. We loved exploring the potential that magic represented, but we also didn't like how fragile a straight Magic user was. And for us, religion wasn't all that great a motivation in our adventures, so the clerics were mostly multiclass so we had a medic in the party. Otherwise, we could usually negotiate any specific magic needs with NPCs, even when it meant having to owe them a debt against their services.

  2. In our Blackhawk campaign I've borrowed an idea from Ars Magica. Each player has a few characters, including at least one magic-user (or cleric), as part of a Covenant. This not only provides a base of operations for the characters but also a reason for the players to work together. There may be some spell casting elements from the 5e magic system but for the most part we're using AD&D 1e.

  3. I play mostly Savage Worlds now and we have spell casters. Back in the day when I played more D&D based games most of the people I played with never got into spell casting. It was clerics and fighters mostly with the occasional (usually not long for the world) mage. Are take on magic was more of it was something the bad guys used. True you could use it yourself, and become powerful (if you could survive past the first few levels, very rare) but it would eventually warp you.

  4. The group I run almost never plays spell casters. They will hire them on as NPCs and when they do they mostly look for clerics. As far as the question goes; they are very important to the campaign. It is a magical world and everything from healing to identify spells to fireballs are not just useful, but critical. I have changed my game only slightly to accommodate the player's wishes and a strong Wizard or Cleric opponent is a dangerous foe indeed.

    I don't think I've ever had a player that was chomping at the bit to play a Cleric and very few who would be excited to play a Magic User. I've never had a PC Illusionist, but I have had several Druids. Most players avoid clerics for the usual reason, they find it boring to be the walking hospital.


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