View Full Version : [D&D 3.5] Core only Wizard build for a first-time player

2011-01-30, 09:09 PM
Sorry if there is already a thread for this topic, but I couldn't find one anywhere. I'm needing some suggestions for races, feats, and magic schools (specialization and prohibited) for a core-only wizard. In our current game, we are all level 4 (almost 5) and have a Cleric, Druid, Rogue, Ranger, and Barbarian. No one is really a power gamer or heavily optimized.

A first time player is fixing to join the game and will play a straight caster, probably a wizard. I've never played one before, but I will have to help her build her character, so can anyone give me some ideas about how we should build her. Remember, its core-only, so it should be pretty straightforward.


2011-01-30, 09:25 PM
Core-only for a wizard? Ok. This is just strictly crunch that I'm looking at.

Human- 1 bonus feat and bonus skill points. Popular for obvious reasons.

Elf-Horrible wizards, don't make one, it's a trap! They get a bonus to Dex which helps with ranged touch and AC, but they get a penalty to Con and HP is one of the biggest weaknesses for a wizard. The other bonuses they get are worthless for a wizard. Weapon proficiency is only useful for gishes, otherwise you can't use them what with the horrible BAB.

Halfling- Surpising good wizards. Bonuses to dex and small size make you harder to hit and make your own ranged touch that much more likely to hit. Flat +1 to all saves, nothing wrong with that.

Gnomes- Excellent wizards. They get a bonus to Con, are small and they even come prepackaged with some SLA to free up your spell slots at lower levels.

Dwarves- Another excellent wizard. They get a bonus to Con, saving throw against poison and any spell/spell-like ability.

Half-Elf- Bleh, nothing to see here.

Half-Orc- Really?

Feats- Spell Focus and Spell Penetration if you think you'll be doing a lot of offensive/debuff magics. Extend Spell if you want to be a buffer. Widen Spell is nice for battlefield control. Empower spell is good for nearly anything. Augment Summoning if you go the Summoner route.

Spells- It helps if you have at least a vague idea of what you want to do. Since you are newer to playing a wizard I would suggest something simple like Blaster/Summoner. Evocation and Conjuration would be your friends in that case.

2011-01-30, 09:26 PM
If you're using Core only, pretty much any race works...

The shorties' have various benefits like better AC, some sneaking capabilities, and things like +save for halflings or +DC to illusion for gnomes kinda help...

As for the tall races, Human or Elves are just as fine. A bonus feat goes a long way even if you use just PHB; and Elves got all sorts of nice bonuses in form of racial weapon proficiencies, extra dexterity, and all those small bonuses everyone generally looks over (Like automatic search when passing by a secret door, much less time wasted on sleep, immunity to sleep effects, and everything like that). Considering that with core-only, she will not have any tasty reserve feats or really useful spells introduced in other books, the racial proficiencies with Rapier and Longbow could really help in the long run.

Really, anything is fine as long as it doesn't have an Int penalty, so the main thing is flavour.

Everything else depends on specialization, if she chooses to. Taking metamagic feats this early would be mostly pointless, so it comes down to a pretty small number of choices.

Spell Focus with whatever school you might find useful is probably a good idea. Augment Summoning, too, if you choose to focus on conjuration...
Spell Mastery could be useful depending on the DM's approach to wizard's spell books (really, the only aspect about the class I absolutely hate just because of general tediousness). Well, there are the crafting feats and metamagic feats too, but one doesn't really need feats to play a core caster.

At level 5 (assuming straight wizard) and 6, metamagics would be a good choice. Probably start with something that you'll actually be able to use, like Widen/Extend/Silent/Still or even Empower Spell.

You just gotta hand her over the core spell list, and walk over what they all do and what she wants to do. That's the starting point, really.

2011-01-30, 09:27 PM
If it's not really an optimized bunch, I would recommend not specializing. If she does specialize don't let him give up Conjuration or Transmutation. Evocation, Enchantment, and Necromancy are my go to schools for banning, depending on the character concept.

For feats in core, Spell Focus and Greater Spell focus helps with saves at the early levels. Empower spell, Extend spell, and Quicken are my favorite metamagics in core, but Extend is cheap to get a Rod of, so I rarely take that as a feat. Craft Wand, or Craft Wondrous can be a resource saver.

Most direct damage spells in core aren't worth the action. There are exceptions to this, but usually you are better off hindering the opponent a la Slow, or Grease or buffing yourself and Allys via Haste, Mirror Image or Polymorph.

Weapon Focus can be taken for Ranged Touch spells, and there are worse feats if you are core only, but only if she likes spells like Ray of Enfeeblement, Scorching Ray, and Enervation.

2011-01-30, 09:34 PM
Go with Evocation and Conjuration for most of your spells at this point. Maybe you can throw in some debuff Necro spells. Specialize in either Conjuration or Evocation. Go for a small race, Gnomes work well with the SLAs and Small size. At level 4-5 Casters are roughly on-par with the other classes. It's when Druids can cast spells while a Bear that you start getting discrepancies. This means you can optimize a little without overshadowing the other non-Tier1s.

2011-01-30, 09:38 PM
Consider the sleep and/or color spray spells to be very useful to your wizard for quite a few levels. The latter especially can make a very big difference when dealing with a group of enemies.

2011-01-30, 09:56 PM
Gray Elf (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/monsters/elf.htm#grayElf) is in the core Monster Manual, same as the PHB elf but Str -2, Dex +2, Con -2, Int +2. You'll have to put a high stat on Con, but it's probably the best core race that doesn't get a Con bonus. Elves are also proficient with bows, so you'll have something to do when you're not casting spells.

For specialization, I'd go Conjurer with Enchantment and either Evocation or Abjuration prohibited, or just go with a generalist. Grease, Web, Glitterdust, Stinking Cloud, and Black Tentacles are what you want to open up with, to disable/debuff as many opponents as possible so the rest of the party can clean up. Don't cast a spell every round or you'll be constantly running out, only use as many spells as it takes to give the party a significant enough advantage to assure victory.

Don't start out with a familiar. Get Improved Familiar (http://www.d20srd.org/srd/feats.htm#improvedFamiliar) (DMG p200) at level 6, and wait until 7th to get an Imp (if within one step of LE), Pseudodragon (if good aligned), or Quasit (if CN/CE).

Red Wizard is in the DMG, so if you can get it then you definitely should go that route. Otherwise aim for Loremaster or just stay single-classed. Archmage is probably just as good as just taking more wizard levels unless you'll have already met the prerequisites. A Red Wizard can make a bunch of Simulacrums and store them in a Portable Hole to power him up with circle magic, which makes me wonder why anyone would think core-only is more balanced than a splatbook-heavy game.

2011-01-30, 10:11 PM
Gray Elf Conjurer

Max INT. Get at least 12 CON and 14 DEX post-racial adjusts.

1: [Oppose Enchantment and Necromancy]
1: Improved Initiative
3: -=FEAT=-
5: [-=FEAT=-]
6: Leadership OR -=FEAT=-
9: Quicken Spell
12: -=FEAT=-
15: -=FEAT=-
18: -=FEAT=-

Focus on casting Conjurations and Transmutations. Even in core, they offer the highest density of the most powerful spells.

3.5 Forms for Alter Self (http://brilliantgameologists.com/boards/index.php?topic=343.0)

2011-01-30, 10:16 PM
Get out of these boards right now, because someone will tell you to play something complicated/optimized, and for a first time player in a probably unoptimized group (they ARE core only) it'll be a disaster.

You can't mess up a wizard. You really can't. Unless you prepare like 300 knock spells.

2011-01-30, 10:53 PM

People are already pushing her to play a gray elf wizard. Bleck.

Have her be an easy wizard.

Halfling. All of the bonuses go right into her attributes. She doesn't have to worry about them at all. Bonus to saves and AC and Attack, bam! done and done.

Debuffing is hard, it requires saves which means to do it effectively you need to boost your CL and know which spells are good to throw at which monsters.

Summoning is hard cause you're making her learn the monster manual as well as the Player's handbook.

Let her play a buffer. Transmutation. Let her enlarge the barbarian, give everyone haste, and then spider climb on all the walls so none of the bad guys touch her. (normal prohibitive schools are evocation and necromancy if you go this route)

Plus, the people she's playing with know more about the spells then she does. She casts haste on someone competent in the game, and they know exactly what bonuses they get.

2011-01-30, 11:54 PM
I don't know why there's such a backlash against introducing certain options. After all everyone should feel free to give their advice: its up to the OP to determine whether its good or not.

Even though its an unoptimized game, I would argue that the Wizard should be built with certain skills in mind. The only other full caster is a Druid, which means this Wizard will probably be providing most of the out of combat solutions. So remember to tell your player to not only choose damage spells but in fact avoid those. Unless the barbarian + rogue + ranger are all failing at their jobs, choose buffs, debuffs, and control type spells.

In general, schools like Conjuration and Transmutation have the most of these. That alone should be enough. And if you're approaching fifth, definitely grab Fly.

Race wise, Elf is a poor choice for the Con penalty. But choose whichever you want as I can understand if the new player doesn't want to be a Human.

Also its not normally advised to let a newbie play the Wizard...all those spells are hard to memorize and quite frankly it takes a while to get used to concepts like a. Fireball is a bad spell to take and b. Just cast Glitterdust instead.

But who knows? Maybe she's a natural and she'll figure this all out by herself. :smallwink:

2011-01-31, 05:32 AM
Get out of these boards right now, because someone will tell you to play something complicated/optimized, and for a first time player in a probably unoptimized group (they ARE core only) it'll be a disaster.

You can't mess up a wizard. You really can't. Unless you prepare like 300 knock spells.

The beauty of an optimized wizard is that for most part, the rest of the players won't really notice that you are the one trivalising encounters and making life so much easier for them. Don't be surprised when they start commenting about how you are not pulling your own weight and stuff.

I recommend specialising in conjuration. Knowing so many spells isn't as good as people make it sound when you have only so few slots to cast them from.

You are looking at battlefield control spells like grease, glitterdust, web, slow, stinking cloud and evard's tentacles. Mix with buff spells like haste, and support such as summon monster 3+.

2011-01-31, 05:45 AM
Core only? I reccomend a grey elf or human.
Don't waste a good score in dexterity. It helps a little with AC, but the bonus it provides quickly becomes trivial.
DO take fireball or lightning bolt, or maybe even both,since you can research one. Fireball is good for hitting lots of enemies, while lightning bolt is less likely to hit your friends.