Monday, January 12, 2015

First Time Playing a Magic-User in Years (Blood Island)

It's been a while since I've played a magic-user in a D&D / OSR ruleset, or any ruleset for that matter. I tend to regard them as one trick ponies at early levels (sleep anyone?) who then need to cower in the back of the party and soak up expo, sleep, rinse and repeat. Not my usual idea of fun - YMMV.

Now, in +Joe D 's Blood Island setting / OSR houserules magic-users use both the M-U and Illusionist spell lists, including those in Unearthed Arcana. He also allows you to prepare more spells than you can cast, so at first level I can have 4 ready but only 1 spell to cast per day - one of those four. Yes, you get some versatility without gaining more firepower. It's a nice compromise.

Did I mention one of my spells is Phantom Armor, the illusionary AC 3 plate mail? Armor you can sleep in and still wake up rested and ready to prepare for a new day of spells.  At least until I get hit and it disappears ;)


  1. I also played a magic user for the first time in ages in +Wayne Rossi's White Box game over the holidays.

    I was surprised how much I contributed to the party beyond my one spell. My staff smote several critters and was helpful in killing things, and my flasks of oil left some critters dead. So, I've changed my mind about the uselessness of 1st level magic users. Just give them about 8 oil flasks.

  2. Just remember: the rest of the party are your henchmen! Treat them well now and they will be dying to save you.

  3. You're going to like the magic rules in Goldenrod.

  4. And that's why D&D has several editions past the first. Probably one of the most cringe-worthy aspects of old school play from a player's perspective.

  5. We were fiddling around with a set of house rules, once, that were befitting the learned and astute nature of the magic-user class. The idea was to give the wizard something to do during fights, aside from chuck daggers or flasks of oil. We modeled it off the camera in the Bioshock video game and if the M-U spent so much time watching and observing the opponent, then performed some after-action study (inspection, dissection, etc), and made the appropriate skill checks (i think it was just a couple of INT checks), then he had learned some important or critical piece of information about the monster. After learning x pieces of information about a monster, he received a bonus when fighting that monster. Not a bit boon, because how often are your M-Us going to rush into combat. But if he put more time and effort into it (much to the party's annoyance), he could eventually get to the point where he could bestow this boon on the party when fighting that specific monster.

    We never actually implemented it, but I wouldn't mind going back and digging out our notes to see if we could make it happen.


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