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All-wizard parties [D&D/d20]

TheGrog

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At low levels you need to provide encounters that the casters can plan, control, and mitigate. Or have few enough that they can just dump spells on.

At mid levels, starting around 7-9, any particular plot trick you might pull has a potential spell based shortcut. The casters are still kind of potentially squishy, but they have a lot of options to control that.

Once you get up to, hmm, 13 or so you may have problems controlling what the group can go and do if somebody is decent at optimizing spell choices.

These brackets might shift up a bit if you have unimaginative casters, though. Remember, 3rd was thought to be balanced if you had healing clerics and blaster arcane casters.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
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All *casters* is easy with clerics or druids, or even bards (who bring healing magic to the arcane table.) Psions might work too, they can buff and self-heal, and have more 'stamina' if they avoid novas. The weakness of all (wizard, sorcerer, psion too) at low levels is obvious: low HP, weak AC without mage armor (which is a fixed bonus for the spell, though the psionic version is boostable; either one is 1 hour/level, which is another weak point). Once they've got some levels, I'd say at least 4, their summons can last long enough to be the 'fighters' at need, never mind all the other spells. Plus their armor starts lasting longer and can be refreshed (especially for psions.)

Pathfinder makes it a bit easier: more HP, and at-will cantrips that can at least do some damage.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
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BTW, it's BECMI not d20, but the Glantri Gazetteer talked somewhat about all-magic user parties. I don't remember much, other than the scenario of being Great School of Magic students.
 

DavetheLost

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Interesting assumption that all caster parties will have a tough time of it because Adventure = Combat. Are non combat games really that unusual?
 

vitruvian

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Interesting assumption that all caster parties will have a tough time of it because Adventure = Combat. Are non combat games really that unusual?
Low combat games? No, I don't think so. Non combat, as in they never ever fight monsters in the dungeon or the wilderness? Yes, I would imagine those are pretty unusual for D&D, if not for RPGs in general. I mean, there's a reason a good chunk of the rulebooks are taken up with the rules for combat, around half of the classes are considered 'martial' classes, and Challenge Ratings for encounters are calculated based almost solely on combat stats.

But of course, we could do similar analyses of the other two pillars of game play, as the current rules suggest them - exploration and social. For an all wizard party, a whole lot is going to depend on the Backgrounds the players pick for their characters, because the wizard spell list does not really give access to the full range of proficiencies you would want for either of those (game mechanically, I mean, you can always just RP the social stuff but that can have a tendency to make high Charisma, social skill proficient PCs seem short changed if their advantage in this area doesn't seem to actually make a difference). For exploration, you want Athletics for climbing and swimming and so on, Survival for dealing well with wilderness journeys, Perception for detecting threats (environmental as well as potential antagonists), possibly Stealth if there's potential combat you want to avoid, possibly Animal Handling, and then all the knowledge skills wizards do have class access to are potentially helpful. For social, which seems like the focus of a court intrigue campaign, you've got Deception, Intimidation, Persuasion, of course, but Insight, Perception, Investigation, and again various knowledge skills like History and Arcana (to know and understand the background and customs and so on) are also important. A lot of these depend on abilities other than Intelligence, so players may not want to always optimize their wizard characters to be the most potent and knowledgeable spellcasters they can be, but rather to consider favoring Charisma or Wisdom in a social build, or the physical abilities in an exploration build (although Wisdom is also an awesome choice there as well).
 

Gemini476

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It really depends on the edition and the levels in question. 5E's already been covered.

For AD&D, for example, an all-magic-user party either needs a lot of meatshield henchmen or quick feet. It's definitely doable, but you'll want to avoid combat even more than in a standard game. There's also stories of solo magic users out there if you look - IIRC Gygax played one on occasion, as did others. It's definitely one of those things where you want your one spell to be Charm Person and luck into a bodyguard ogre.

3E's probably the edition where this sentiment most comes up, if only because the wizard is infamously powerful in this edition. If you expand "wizard" to also mean clerics and druids then it's a cakewalk (an all-druid party is probably one of the more viable ones out there, to be honest), but even if you stick to just the wizard class there's a ton of tricks that make them extremely powerful and more long-lasting than you might think. (For example, did you know that a scroll of a 1st-level spell costs 12.5gp and 1xp to scribe, and you can make 1/day?)
The conventional wisdom (cf. E6) is that wizards only get truly out of hand at 7th level once they start getting 4th-level spells, but do note that it's also far from a braindead class (as opposed to e.g. an Ubercharger) and requires clever play.

I'm less familiar with Pathfinder, but I'm led to believe that the Wizard isn't actually that much weaker than they were in 3E? I also know nothing at all about PF2.

4E's a weird one. Running an all-"Wizard" (e.g. all-Arcane) party isn't hard: Bard, Swordmage, Warlock, Wizard fills out the roles and should be able to handle stuff. All-Wizard, though, using only that specific class? I honestly don't know. Maybe. The wizard's got some funky design going on and covers a lot of ground, as does the Controller role as a whole. You'll be hurting for healing for sure, your single-target damage isn't going to be quite as good, and there's nothing much stopping the enemy from all just focusing down on you one-by-one, but it might work? You'll definitely have to be good at the game and leverage the system to your advantage.
It helps, though, that four controllers means four times the debuffs and control effects and AoEs.

In general, though, you can get away with a lot of stupid stuff if you know the game well enough. Particularly in 3E, where there's just so many poorly designed character build options, but 4E sure has a lot of feats and powers and items as well. For TSR D&D this mostly just means "learn to pick your fights", though.
 

mindstalk

Does the math.
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I don't think PF weakened wizards much. Polymorph/shapechanging in general was nerfed somewhat, which affects the Druid more. Concentration changed in a way I don't full understand. They got a boost in cantrips (at-will). Mostly PF tried to make the weaker classes more interesting and getting something every level, rather than pulling down Tier 1.
 

TheGrog

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Interesting assumption that all caster parties will have a tough time of it because Adventure = Combat. Are non combat games really that unusual?
For D&D? Yes, I think so. People who play non-combat campaigns tend to emigrate to systems better suited for it than the heavy combat focus and significant crunch of D&D.
 

manwhat

Thoroughly mediocre GM.
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Interesting assumption that all caster parties will have a tough time of it because Adventure = Combat. Are non combat games really that unusual?
Yes, because DnD is a game where the major impact of levels is increased combat capability and the majority of rules are based around combat. It's what the game is about - note that there's no extended turn-based social system, and the 'mapping/exploring' section is pretty light compared to the combat section.

Playing DnD and not having a modicum of combat is a bit like driving a tank down a suburban street. Yeah, you can do it and it works, but why use something that heavy?
 
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