View Full Version : Mage vs Mob

2007-04-09, 03:17 PM
A good friend of mine and fellow gaming buddy described a comic he'd recently seen to me this weekend, it went something like this:

A wizard is walking back to his home from a recent trip to market to buy spell components, scrolls and various magical knicknacks, as he approaches his home he hears an incredible commotion. Rounding the corner he sees a mass of townspeople with your usual implements of mob justice, torches, pitchforks and the like. A spokesman makes his way to the front of the mob and the following conversation ensues:

Spokesmen: Infernal Sorcerer we have come to put an end to your evil spellslinging ways! We're prepared and know that not even a fourth level sorcerer could stand before the might of all 22 of us!
Wizard: First I'm a wizard - see the book, and second I just leveled up guys.
Spokesman: 5th level? So 3rd level spells then?
Wizard: Yep.
Spokesman: Oh, well we'll just quietly slink away then.
Wizard: Leave your pants.

So, while this is humorous and illustrates the gulf between second and third level spells pretty well after hearing it I made the claim that there was probably a pretty good chance that even the 4th level wizard could probably stand up to the mob, so we put together a little experiment to play out the scenario. The basic thought was that the wizard would have had to be a good fit in an adventuring party and not just optomized for plowing through angry commoners, with that in mind...

Our Intrepid wizard had the following statistics (Elite Array, Standard WBL, no more than 2000 on any single item, Average hp)

Wizard 4 (Conjuration Specialist (Evocation and Necromancy barred Schools))
Str 10, Dex 13, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 12, Cha 8
hp: 15
Feats: Spell Focus (Conjuration), Augment Summoning, Spell Focus (Illusion)
Equipment: Ring of Protection, Wand of Colorspray, Scroll of Summon Monster III, Scroll of Stinking Cloud, Scroll of Windwall, 3 Potions of Cure Moderate Wounds, there may have been a few other things but I don't remember anything else substantive.
Spells Prepared: 1st: Mage Armor, Summon Monster I, Grease, Expeditious Retreat, Sleep. 2nd: Gliltterdust, Spider Climb, Summon Monster II, ???

The mob consisted of a 1 2nd Level Aristocrat, 2 1st level Experts, 19 1st level commoners. They all had the stat array 10, 10, 10, 11, 11, 12 with thier high stat determined randomly by the roll of a d6. The commoners were armed with one of the following a Torch, a Club, with the exeception of two who had crossbows and a local fisherman with a net, the experts were equipped with the tools of their trades, a smith with a hammer and leather armor, and a bowyer with a longbow, the aristocrat was wearing a chain shirt and carrying a longsword.

As the wizard wanders home from market he gets listen checks as he approaches his home, he fails several but finally becomes aware of them just before rounding the corner that would put him in the middle of their line of sight, about 60ft away from the conflagration of peasantry. Wondering what all the commotion is about the wizard carefully peers around the corner. Unfortunately one of the mob sees him and initiative is rolled. Fortunately our wizard rolls a 14 and wins initiative. The rounds of combat broke down like this:

1st Round: The wizard concerned about being rushed by the aristocrat leading the charge casts spider climb and scales the 10ft to the top of the nearest building. Thinking himself now safely out of reach, the wizard beathes a sigh of relief, until his eyes settle on several of the peasants carrying 10' ladders, appearently they'd planned on scaling the roof of his two story study if he'd barricaded himself inside. One of those three ladders goes up at the end of the block of adjoining buildings about 50ft from the wizards current position. Other peasants make progress up the street the aristocrat still standing prominantly at the front. One of the two crossbow weilding peasants lets out a yell of triumph as his bolt finds a home in the wizards chest (6 damage).

1st round recap: Ok, so the wizard lost more than a third of his hp in the first round, no biggie, soon he'll be throwing out some save or lose spells and he should win the day.

2nd round: Still reeling from the sucking chest wound inflicted upon him seconds ago the wizard retrieves his scroll of wind wall from his case and begins the incantation, thinking to himself Damn, I'd hoped to scribe this soon. The wall goes up in a protective cylinder around the wizard granting him protection from the towns two crossbowmen and the bowyer. A second ladder goes up in a place about 35 feet from the wizard, and peasants begin to scale the first ladder placed into position. More people advance up the street and clamber up onto the rooftops. The two crossbowmen and the bowyer all fire, only to see their arrows and bolts carried away by the protective wall of gale force winds surrounding our caster-protagonist, frustrated they abandon they're ranged weapons and advance on the wizards position.

2nd round recap: Three opponents neutered by the wind wall will now have to combat unarmed. The wizard takes no more damage and hovers at 9 hp

3rd round: Finally, I can start to clear away some of these vermin thinks the wizard as utilizes his scroll of Summon Monster III and calls forth a Fiendish Crocodile in the midst of the gaggle of townsfolk advancing up the road. It promptly takes a monstrous bite out of the Aristocrats leg, dealing 13 damage, but the aristocrat fortuitously manages to pry the beasts jaws from his leg before it begins its notorious "death roll" (no grapple this round). Making a lucky Knowledge (arcana) check the aristocrat recognizes the croc as a summoned creature and orders some of the townsfolk to hold it at bay since it will vanish back into the ether in mere seconds. Mortally wounded but still standing the aristocrat begins to climb a third ladder, this one placed on the same building the wizard is standing on, a mere 15 feet from his current position. The town smith the fisherman and three commoners engage the crocodile, the net scores a hit and entangles the crocodile, the smith brings his hammer down on the creature forehock, enraging it and causing 5 damage, the other commoners take total defense. More commoners race across the rooftops of the adjoining buildings, one manageing to make it into melee with the wizard.

Round 3 recap: This is where things get interesting, wizard is in melee, beast is summoned. Wizard still has 13 hp, the whole mob is still standing 3 are sans weapons.

Round 4: Needing to deal with the man who's closed to melee before he starts to lay a serious beating on the fragile caster the wizard unleashes a furuious flashing frenzy of colors from his wand sure to bring on epileptic seizures in all but the most willful townsfolk. As expected the commoner drops like a sack of turnips, so far so good. The crocodile turns on the man with the net and bites down hard rending the hapless fishermans leg from his body. More commoners rush forth, three close to melee and attempt to begin grapples one fails to get a good grip on the wizards robes, and one is turned back by a successful attack of opportunity, but the third establishes a solid hold wrenching the wizards arm into an uncomfortable position (2 subdual damage). In the street the expert swings and the crocodile again and misses, the three commoners again take the total defense action.

Round 4 recap: The wizard is down to 7 hp and grappled, one townsperson lays slain by the crocodile, one unconscious at the wizards feet, and three have abandoned their weapons.

Round 5: Blast these buggers will they ever leave me be! The wizard lets loose with another blast from his wand of colorspray, five out of six commoners in range go down, but unfortunately the one survivor is the one grappling the wizard. The croc attacks one of the commoners trying to hold it back but thanks to the commoners total defense and an abismal roll on my part the attack misses. The Aristocrat ascends a ladder and orders more commoners into the grapple. And they pile on, 4 more attempt to grapple the wizard, one misses his touch attack but the others throw hands in the wicked balibrook developing on the city rooftops, (5 more subdual damage).

Round 5 recap: To quote the classic arcade Gauntlet: "Wizard needs food Badly!" he's down to 2 hp, 1 commoner dead, 1 expert dying, 6 commoners unconcious.

Round 6: With the tide turned against him the wizard starts to think about escape. Making the difficult concentration roll he casts grease upon his robes to help him escape from the grapple, but since that consumed his only standard action, the actual escape will have to wait until next round. The Crocodile makes another horrible roll, misses the commoner and blinks out of existance, the duration of the summon expired. The commoners in the grapple manage to inflict another 4 points of subdual damage and the wizard slips into unconciousness from the savage beating he has recieved.

Round 6 recap: Things went poorly for the wizard this round, he fails to eliminate any additional members of the mob and is eventually over come. In his unconcious state the wizard doesn't see the noble thrust his longsword into the wizards chest cutting the sustaining thread of life before the fates had their chance to do the same.

So aside from telling an interesting story my goal here was to ask is this the outcome most would have expected, and secondly how could the wizard have been played differently. Despite over 15 years of playing D&D this is only the second time I've played a caster, the first time since 1997 (so consequently the first time in 3.x). I've DM'd them as opponents so I have a bit of experience but even still I guarentee there are many here with greater caster experience than I, and I yeild to thier greater knowledge.

Here are a couple of my own thoughts: this soundly indicates that the primary currency of D&D combat is the standard action, outnumbered as he was the wizard was at a huge action deficit meaning each of his actions needed to take as many opponents out of the fight as possible. Further evidence of the action divide can be seen in the way most of the wizards spells went uncast. Every round it felt like there was one thing I had to do just to keep the fight going.

I feel the mistakes were made early in the fight, particularly in round 1 when his action should have been to back around the corner and get his mage armor up, then spiderclimbing to relative saftey the next round. I'm not at all sure summoning was the right path to go and I've decided fore dang sure that the Croc was a poor choice, anything with multiple natural attacks would have been vastly superior. Also the stinking cloud would have been a big help but because they had multiple ladders and several avenues of approach there wasn't a good chokepoint to ensure the wizards assailents passed through it requiring them to save or forfiet a huge number of actions from nausea. The wand of colorspray worked wonders but it required them to get far too close before it was useable and the sheer number of mooks closing in on him mitigated its usefulness.

So what are your thoughts?

Emperor Tippy
2007-04-09, 03:32 PM
You forgot sleep. He should have cast it on the guys coming up the ladder. It can get 5 commoners per casting.

Web would have been a good choice as well. Protection from arrows is a better choice than wind wall at that level. And wind wall is from one of your banned schools.

A scroll of fly would have been a better choice. It makes it so you can't be grappled.