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RndmNumGen
2010-11-29, 11:30 AM
One thing that I see often crop up on these boards is how most casting classes can easily wipe the floor with most non-casting classes. And it's true; what I would like to look at though, is why. Not from a mechanical viewpoint, but from a logical viewpoint. Arthur Clarke said that "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic". So lets stop thinking of magic as magic and start thinking of it as technology.

It is often said that if a fighter wants to compete with a wizard on any scale, he needs a sufficient variety of magical weapons and armor, which is true. If we think of magic as technology, we begin to understand why. Consider an engineer versus a soldier in our world; early on before much technology has been developed, such as in the bronze age, the engineer will have quite a few tricks up his sleeve, but the soldier may win out through sheer physical ability that the engineer lacks. Once technology starts improving though, things become different. When we get up to the point where the engineer has a crossbow that can put the soldier down from many yards away, it isn't even a contest. If we give the soldier a crossbow as well however, the soldier is on much more even ground. When we get to the modern era though, the gap becomes huge. With all of the experimental laser weaponry, unmanned combat vehicles and guided weapon systems, of course the engineer is going to defeat the soldier, even if the soldier has an assault rifle and combat armor that were created by the engineer.

In D&D though, things become unbalanced extremely early, often in the first few levels. This is a much faster progression than a logical technological one, where spells like Hideous Laughter or Ghoul Touch can act as a save-or-die spell by only Level 3. This is akin to an engineer creating tear gas or manufacturing synthetic toxins in the bronze age. It's completely out of whack. So my question is, at what point does magic cease to be a progressive technology system and instead becomes a universal solution to everything? Is it when a spell can disable or kill without the target being able to effectively resist? Is it when certain spells can make or break an entire battle on their own? Is it when wizards have such a vast toolkit it is like carrying an armory with them?

CodeRed
2010-11-29, 11:36 AM
It becomes that point when a Wizard can do everything every other class can do, just better. Usually around 4th lvl spells as by that point you have enough low lvl ones for utility with your higher slots being for the "the good stuff".

That being said, it's pretty much been a staple in D&D from the beginning. Its become its own joke even. Anytime something happens that normally shouldn't happen it gets the the handwave: "A Wizard did it."

AstralFire
2010-11-29, 11:40 AM
As far as magic-as-technology goes, I think that assumption never really works out too well for D&D - because (ironically) the first three editions were built on the ashes of a wargame and wizards were a replacement for artillery, with their other abilities being a secondary consideration. Even at first level, you're underrating prestidigitation horribly.

Comet
2010-11-29, 11:47 AM
There's one minor thing I'd like to nitpick concerning the OP.
Engineers, traditionally, don't use their own weapons. Instead, they give them to the soldiers.

Wizards, on the other hand, wave their hands and mutter a few words and make the stars die in the sky. They are not the sharing kind, since they can accomplish everything on their own.

Magic being better than everything else makes sense. Magic is supernatural, supernatural things are beyond the scope of natural things. If a fighter wants to match a wizard, they must also rely on supernatural sources. At which point they are using magic.

Besides, Wizards sacrifice their entire life and body to learn these things. Making them about as powerful as a guy swinging a sword at that point would be sort of unfair.
Some thoughts, mainly concerning D&D. Party balance is a tricky thing when one member has learned to bend the world to their will.

AstralFire
2010-11-29, 11:48 AM
And... Fighters don't sacrifice their life and body to learn? :smallconfused:

Comet
2010-11-29, 11:50 AM
And... Fighters don't sacrifice their life and body to learn? :smallconfused:

They sort of do. But the D&D text always keeps going on and on how becoming a wizard is hard work and makes you a pale, sickly ghoul of a man. It sort of implies that the price is heavier than that of a fighting man.

AstralFire
2010-11-29, 11:52 AM
Maybe it's just me, but I'd take an existence of studying in a dark room over one on the battlefield.

Yes, the supernatural should be better than the natural; but not necessarily better at combat when they can raise the dead and create illusions. And you already are supernatural past about level 5 as a melee character, you're just bending the laws of physics rather than ignoring their existence.

Comet
2010-11-29, 11:57 AM
Maybe it's just me, but I'd take an existence of studying in a dark room over one on the battlefield.

Yes, the supernatural should be better than the natural; but not necessarily better at combat when they can raise the dead and create illusions. And you already are supernatural past about level 5 as a melee character, you're just bending the laws of physics rather than ignoring their existence.

See, the way I see it is that once you reach that level 5 marker and start doing Weird Stuff with your body and the world around you, you have basically become another kind of wizard. The word being used here in its loosest sense.

But I do agree that the preferable option, when it comes to D&D like games, would be to have the magical stuff occupy some field that is not about battle. That way the fighters could have their own spotlight while the wizards could amaze the crowd with healing arts or divination or somesuch. Sadly, this isn't as relevant to D&D as it could be, as the game focuses quite a bit on making stuff dead in various ways, where magic-users tend to always prevail over sweat-of-their-brow fighters.

RndmNumGen
2010-11-29, 12:01 PM
There's one minor thing I'd like to nitpick concerning the OP.
Engineers, traditionally, don't use their own weapons. Instead, they give them to the soldiers.

Good point. So then in D&D, we have wizards fulfilling two roles; the role of the engineer, and the role of the artillery gunner. Fighters, on the other hand, just fulfill the role of infantry. So if the functionality of the wizard class was split into several different classes, would this be more balanced?

Sir Swindle89
2010-11-29, 12:13 PM
Good point. So then in D&D, we have wizards fulfilling two roles; the role of the engineer, and the role of the artillery gunner. Fighters, on the other hand, just fulfill the role of infantry. So if the functionality of the wizard class was split into several different classes, would this be more balanced?

Ya it would be, thats why banning full casters and only allowing Beguiler and it's ilk isn't a bad hot fix.

Psyren
2010-11-29, 12:19 PM
The problem with "magic as technology" - Technology is characterized by being usable by anyone. I don't need to know CompSci III or how semiconductors work to start up Windows. I also don't need to understand networking, bandwidth, routers etc. to make a post on Facebook.

Obviously that knowledge is helpful - especially if something goes wrong - but it still isn't necessary.

Magic, on the other hand, requires very specialized training (or an insinctive knack, if you're a sorcerer etc.)

maysarahs
2010-11-29, 12:19 PM
Could the power of wizards be balanced if we removed all ability to deal hit point damage? (ability damage, SoDs, battlefield control all remain the same except that they remove any ability to deal damage. Polymorph subschool only gives you benefits for out of combat purposes?). That way wizards have their use, but cannot actually kill, and fighters do the actual killing

RndmNumGen
2010-11-29, 12:28 PM
The problem with "magic as technology" - Technology is characterized by being usable by anyone. I don't need to know CompSci III or how semiconductors work to start up Windows. I also don't need to understand networking, bandwidth, routers etc. to make a post on Facebook.

Obviously that knowledge is helpful - especially if something goes wrong - but it still isn't necessary.

Magic, on the other hand, requires very specialized training (or an insinctive knack, if you're a sorcerer etc.)
Ah, but a Fighter CAN use wonderous items, potions, and enchanted arms and armor without knowing how magic works.

kestrel404
2010-11-29, 12:33 PM
Could the power of wizards be balanced if we removed all ability to deal hit point damage? (ability damage, SoDs, battlefield control all remain the same except that they remove any ability to deal damage. Polymorph subschool only gives you benefits for out of combat purposes?). That way wizards have their use, but cannot actually kill, and fighters do the actual killing

None of the Wizard's most powerful combat options deal HP damage.

AstralFire
2010-11-29, 12:36 PM
Ah, but a Fighter CAN use wonderous items, potions, and enchanted arms and armor without knowing how magic works.

Similarly, it's a pain in the arse to use photoshop effectively with little training.

RndmNumGen
2010-11-29, 01:19 PM
So basic technology, such as using simple computer applications, is like using potions or wonderous items. Wands and scrolls are like photoshop, and Craft Magic X is akin to programming?

I think we've taken this analogy a little too far.

Anyway, I do agree that if what a wizard can do was split up into several different classes, then would be a lot more balanced. I guess Wizards in D&D are like a chemical engineer, physicist, arms manufacture, siege operator and general all rolled into one. Having just one of those would put them solidly into Tier III, I think.

Tvtyrant
2010-11-29, 01:23 PM
Think of magic users as being hackers in a computer world. They can write code (spells) that alter the world around them, and they can also make these spells usable by other people. However the code spells are still written by the caster, and other people have to either accept the rules of the computer world or come to the caster for premade code.

Ellardin
2010-11-29, 01:55 PM
Think of Wizards of being the products of early Post-Singularity Humans, who can use nanotechnology(Magical Spells), Artificial Intelligences(Spirits and unseen forces), and do not rely on biological needs but have transcended such needs to operate and create their "technology".

The Wizard however, unlike a trans-human, must train himself by study of the Magical/Technological and Mathematical Arts, to attain the Point of Omega, The most organized and subjective place in the universe. The trans-human has already reached a state, but the Wizard slowly but with growing exponential speed to infinite potential trains to harness and become one with the universe to master the subjective, so that wondrous and unimaginable achievements can be made "reality".

Viewing the Wizard as a trans-human allows a person to view all magical acts as both technological( a technology that isn't rooted in physical or biological reality) and magical( Is unfathomable to a normal human's brain and imagination), showing that the Wizard is not strictly placed wholly in physical reality and can subjectively circumvent obstacles(such as space with teleport), that beings of physical reality cannot circumvent by subjective will and thought alone.

The Warrior, is not a trans-human. Melee characters can have a gun, but when you have a person who has reached a place in technological advancement that unfathomable achievements can be achieved gradually through training, not much can be done, for the power of Magic is both Awesome and unfathomable when it has reach the most perfect point (High-Epic Level). Although when a Wizard who is simply learning the techniques (to gain all mastery over the subjective and to eventually transcend physical reality) ,the Wizard can thus be considered "vulnerable" for he has not yet reached "the omega point" or the most perfect point in the universe and it can then be seen that an imperfect model can thus be killed.

Radar
2010-11-29, 02:26 PM
(...) Anyway, I do agree that if what a wizard can do was split up into several different classes, then would be a lot more balanced. I guess Wizards in D&D are like a chemical engineer, physicist, arms manufacture, siege operator and general all rolled into one. Having just one of those would put them solidly into Tier III, I think.
That is the entire point of Beguiler, Warmage and Dread Necromancer, I guess. It works, as far as I know.

TheBlackShadow
2010-11-29, 03:19 PM
If we're going to use the analogy of the Wizard as the engineer and artillery gunner combined, and splitting the class up would make a more balanced party, why not re-do the Sorcerer while you're at it, since the Sorcerer has a reputation for being underpowered? Let Wizards, since they're supposed to be the studious types, fill the role of the engineer and give them stuff like Scrying or Telepathic Bond and so on, but let them keep a little bit of battle magic to keep them from being outclassed, and let Sorcerers, since they're supposed to be more "primal" handle the artillery side, and give them stuff more geared towards Evocation, Conjuration, and Necromancy? Easier said than done, obviously, but in the end it seems that in terms of combat the Wizard will be more analogous to a Rogue or a Bard, working all the technical stuff on the side while doing less straight-out combat, while the Sorcerer is more obviously combat-oriented, like a magical equivalent of a Fighter or Barbarian.

Aron Times
2010-11-29, 03:45 PM
If we're going to use the analogy of the Wizard as the engineer and artillery gunner combined, and splitting the class up would make a more balanced party, why not re-do the Sorcerer while you're at it, since the Sorcerer has a reputation for being underpowered? Let Wizards, since they're supposed to be the studious types, fill the role of the engineer and give them stuff like Scrying or Telepathic Bond and so on, but let them keep a little bit of battle magic to keep them from being outclassed, and let Sorcerers, since they're supposed to be more "primal" handle the artillery side, and give them stuff more geared towards Evocation, Conjuration, and Necromancy? Easier said than done, obviously, but in the end it seems that in terms of combat the Wizard will be more analogous to a Rogue or a Bard, working all the technical stuff on the side while doing less straight-out combat, while the Sorcerer is more obviously combat-oriented, like a magical equivalent of a Fighter or Barbarian.
You just described the difference between the 4e sorcerer and the 4e wizard.

The Arcane power source in 4e is basically the old wizard split into six specialized classes:

1. Swordmage - A spellcaster who uses his magic to augment his physical abilities.

2. Bard - A spellcaster who works as force multiplier, handing out buffs and healing to the party.

3. Wizard - A spellcaster who debuffs the enemy and performs useful rituals (divinations, teleportations, etc.) for the party.

4. Sorcerer - A spellcaster focused on blowing things up.

5. Warlock - A spellcaster who focuses on taking down one target at a time, thematically similar to the save-or-die wizard of 3.5.

6. Artificer - A spellcaster engineer, who uses his artifices to support the party.

maysarahs
2010-11-30, 01:44 AM
None of the Wizard's most powerful combat options deal HP damage.

I know, but if we eliminated their ability to deal ANY, wouldn't that give the Fighter his own niche? The wizard can disable the objective, but when it actually comes to killing, they simply cannot, and turn to the fighter for that. (basically taking the idea of a buffer/debuffer/control wizard and forcing it on players)

Mastikator
2010-11-30, 01:47 AM
They sort of do. But the D&D text always keeps going on and on how becoming a wizard is hard work and makes you a pale, sickly ghoul of a man. It sort of implies that the price is heavier than that of a fighting man.

The scars of a battle hardened warrior disagrees.