We take a short break from our GenCon writeups to bring you some commentary…
There’s one unaddressed tangent to the issue that I really like in relation to 4e.
In previous editions, magic was a limited resource, and it was restricted. Wizards memorized spells that did specific things, and they could run out of spells. Sorcerers were a bit more flexible, but at some point, they’re going to run out of spells (barring obscure late-game feats and whatnot.) Clerics were the same way, which was always kind of funny to me: “nope, sorry, your god only can give you so much power per day.”
Enter fourth edition. Wizards and Clerics can channel magic energy all day long, as much as they want. They might not always be able to do anything useful with it, but it does imply that they have a steady source of magic/divine power floating around at all times. So why not use it?
I’m playing a Wizard in 4e right now as well as running a game. When the DM attacks my Wizard and misses, I describe how I used a quick magic shield to deflect it. (After all, I get my Int bonus to AC, there are many ways to interpret that.) When I use my Theivery skill, I don’t get out the lock picks, I’m channeling magic through my wand to deactivate the lock. (And if it’s a really complex lock, it may require a ritual, but it’s still the same principle, just different mechanics.)
When I run my game, I’m going to make an effort to emphasize those effects when I attack the Cleric, Warlock, or Wizard in my party. When the Orc’s arrow misses the Cleric of Pelor, it’s a momentary blinding radiant light that caused the Orc to miss.
And then there’s this, which is often what I think about in relation to Wizards:
Actually, DBZ is not where I first saw this kind of energy collision. I know it was all over the place in 80’s cartoons that I grew up watching. I’m tempted to say it made appearances in both the Dungeons & Dragons cartoon and Gargoyles, though I can’t verify. Anyway, that was my conception of wizards all along (especially evil ones)- they can throw energy all day long, and our hapless heroes have to take cover, or blast back at it. And that seems to go nicely with the 4e mechanics. It may not be your style, but I much more enjoy playing a D&D wizard now than in previous editions, purely from a flavor perspective.