Daily D&D Ramble: I suck at wizards

I don’t know how to run wizards. I mean, I can play a wizard, but running them for a fight? Whole different question.


Since 5e started, I’ve tripped over wizards. What’s his name, GlassStaff, from Lost Mines of Phandelver, always weirded me out. I cannot find a way for him to even be a challenge for a party of four. The only spell that seems like it could be useful is hold person and if it does go off (which is unlikely as his stats aren’t phenomenal), you’ve just removed one of the foes and now there are three other adventurers after you.

See, in my book, if you’re a wizard worth his salt, you need to be prepared for combat. (In the D&D universe, at least) And I do understand that everyone has their own plan for escape or victory, but I don’t recall there being good stage direction for what GlassStaff had for a plan. For a criminal mastermind, he didn’t seem ready to deal with trouble.

So if a wizard can’t deal with a party on his own, he needs some mooks to run in front. And when ever I do have a wizard and mooks, I tend to focus the light on the grunts and the wizard falls to the wayside.

Also, I have problems with knowing the spells. If I’m making up what a character can do, my wizards become dynamic, filled with threating spells and abilities that never seem to conform to what the PHB lists as possible. As soon as I lock myself into a spell list, the character just falls apart.

And it does have a bit to do with the Economy of the game. Not just Action Economy, which is important, but Concentration Economy as well. If my wizard can only focus on one spell, as soon as he’s cast his one grasping vine, he’s stuck. He can’t do anything other thn standard offensive artillery for the rest of the fight.

And, of course, sometimes, a spell effect is easily shrugged off. I had some cultists last week who can pray to Elemental Air and gain Advantage on a ranged attack, which was really cool. But they could only do it once an encounter. And when they did launch a knife around a corner, it still only dealt 6 damage. Barely enough to worry about. And I can’t even repeat that 6 damage again.

So I think, going forward, I might make two changes to mobs I run. And it all depends on exactly how OP I think the spell/ability is. First, if it requires Concentration, I might let that become half duration instead. Or give out more concentration slots to my solo mage. Hitting the party with inconvenient snares and such seems like such fun. And second, those wind cultists are getting that recharge removed for their wind strike. Otherwise, it’s a rubbish ability. Especially since I never seem to use crits to my advantage.

Anyway, that’s enough complaining from me tonight, I think.


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1 Comment

  1. It is neat that DMs can simply alter stats to how they choose. I recall an anecdote from a campaign I was in wherein our fighter decided to duel a warlock. The duel started and the warlock quickly showed that he was pact of the blade, but he also kept using spells. One of the players at our table continuously tried to figure out his warlock level/ if he was multiclassed when the DM finally stated to him that the warlock, “is a statblock. He made a deal with a patron but does not necessarily follow player rules.” While our fighter lost the duel, the experience was eye-opening for that other player.

    The inclusion of trapping spells that ensnare and annoy are also great for combat from the DM’s side of things as it can be annoying to be hit with Magic Missile and take automatic damage (or even succeed on a save to still take half a fireball). Of course, these are still part of a combat wizard’s arsenal and she/he should pull them out in a fight, but getting plinked for average 28 damage a turn (14 on a save) can be annoying when it’s every turn.

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