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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    So this came out of a discussion spawned from the dozens of "build this character" threads.

    Gandalf accross the movies casts various spells and calls himself a wizard, thus people often hail him as the archetypal DnD wizard, but lets look closer.

    Part 1 spells used.
    -Prestidigitation (cantrip) lights fireworks with his staff and temporarily marks a door.
    - light (cantrip) lights his staff in moria
    -shield (level 1 abjuration) balrog fight and hobbit movies (canonicity arguable)
    -shatter (level 2 evocation) You shall not pass!!! Targeted at bridge. And cracking a rock in the hobbit movies (again canonicity arguable)
    -one could argue warding wind in hobbit movies against the necromacer or pyrotechnics to spread fire, but it's been a long time since I've seen that one so I am not sure on specifics. (Level 2 abjuration for warding wind)
    -Sending (level 3 evocation) calling an eagle to get off Orthanc. (But what about the butterfly? Flavor text! No way that one moth makes it all the way to the Eagle reliably and quickly enough even with animal messenger)
    -dispel magic (level 3 abjuration) "I will draw you Saruman like poison is drawn from a wound! " (King of Rohan) rolled poorly on the first attempt. Rolled better on the second.

    So spells up to level 3 all focussing on abjuration and evocation, Let's move on.

    Fighting, when a fight is unavoidable what does he use? Is it some reliable cantrips? Firebolt? Ray of frost? Green flame blade? Chill touch? Nope! He pulls out a sword and his staff. And as per the battle of the black gate he is wielding both a longsword and a staff at the same time. Which would require the Dual weilder feat because they are not light weapons. Both use strength as their attack stat barring kensei/hexblade levels.

    So what do we know of where strength and intelligence are the primary stats, focus on spells around 3 or less most of the time, have a propensity for abjuation and evocation spells, and spend most of combat using weapons instead of spells?

    TL:DR
    Conclusion: Gandalf is an eldritch knight!

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Gandalf is an NPC. A DMPC even.

    He is a Deva Statblock out of the MM with a limited spell list, and a Legendary weapon.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Danielqueue1 View Post
    So this came out of a discussion spawned from the dozens of "build this character" threads.

    Gandalf accross the movies casts various spells and calls himself a wizard, thus people often hail him as the archetypal DnD wizard, but lets look closer.

    Part 1 spells used.
    -Prestidigitation (cantrip) lights fireworks with his staff and temporarily marks a door.
    - light (cantrip) lights his staff in moria
    -shield (level 1 abjuration) balrog fight and hobbit movies (canonicity arguable)
    -shatter (level 2 evocation) You shall not pass!!! Targeted at bridge. And cracking a rock in the hobbit movies (again canonicity arguable)
    -one could argue warding wind in hobbit movies against the necromacer or pyrotechnics to spread fire, but it's been a long time since I've seen that one so I am not sure on specifics. (Level 2 abjuration for warding wind)
    -Sending (level 3 evocation) calling an eagle to get off Orthanc. (But what about the butterfly? Flavor text! No way that one moth makes it all the way to the Eagle reliably and quickly enough even with animal messenger)
    -dispel magic (level 3 abjuration) "I will draw you Saruman like poison is drawn from a wound! " (King of Rohan) rolled poorly on the first attempt. Rolled better on the second.

    So spells up to level 3 all focussing on abjuration and evocation, Let's move on.

    Fighting, when a fight is unavoidable what does he use? Is it some reliable cantrips? Firebolt? Ray of frost? Green flame blade? Chill touch? Nope! He pulls out a sword and his staff. And as per the battle of the black gate he is wielding both a longsword and a staff at the same time. Which would require the Dual weilder feat because they are not light weapons. Both use strength as their attack stat barring kensei/hexblade levels.

    So what do we know of where strength and intelligence are the primary stats, focus on spells around 3 or less most of the time, have a propensity for abjuation and evocation spells, and spend most of combat using weapons instead of spells?

    TL:DR
    Conclusion: Gandalf is an eldritch knight!
    Eldritch Knight or a Bladesinger. Knight more likely.

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by GlenSmash! View Post
    Gandalf is an NPC. A DMPC even.

    He is a Deva Statblock out of the MM with a limited spell list, and a Legendary weapon.

    Agreed. He doesn't have class levels because he's not a player.

    I mean, would you let a pc be a celestial with strong combat and utility powers, pre established connections and alliances with powerful groups, and a self cast True Resurrection, in a lower level party?

    Our other characters (The Fellowship) are low level rogues fighters and rangers. No Jerry, you can't play a Deva. That's the DM's job.

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    DwarfClericGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Heh, you mean you've never played in a game with that one dude (or dudette) who's the DM's bestie and gets all the great things? "Sure Jerry, go ahead and play a Diva, just make sure that none of the other players catch on to that fact. We'll make you dark and mysterious. It'll be fun!"
    Trollbait extraordinaire

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by GlenSmash! View Post
    Gandalf is an NPC. A DMPC even.
    Quote Originally Posted by micahaphone View Post
    I mean, would you let a pc be a celestial with strong combat and utility powers, pre established connections and alliances with powerful groups, and a self cast True Resurrection, in a lower level party?
    There is an entire webcomic based on that interpretation.

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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Millstone85 View Post
    There is an entire webcomic based on that interpretation.
    I love DMotR.

    Especially when they realize the DMPC convinced them to run from the Balrog so he could solo it for all the XP and come back at a high level with new robes and the best mount in the game.

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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Don't forget Fire Seeds, in The Hobbit.

    There was an old article, I want to say in Dragon (or even The Dragon), which said "Gandalf is a 5th level Magic-User", or something like that. He actually works pretty well as a 1e druid, too, who just never changes form.
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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Undyne View Post
    Eldritch Knight or a Bladesinger. Knight more likely.
    Lore bard, level 12. (Although I think that Deva or Planetar also fits)

    @MarkHall: yes, it was in Dragon. I'll try and find that issue, I may still have it.

    OK, it was published in March 1977, Dragon Issue 5, and it was ...

    GANDALF WAS ONLY A FIFTH LEVEL MAGIC-USER

    by Bill Seligman
    I thought it was a load of rubbish then, and I still do. (I was college/freshman at the time. Silmarillion had not yet come out, so none of us really grokked who "Olorin" was.)
    But it sure inspired a lot of discussion.

    To be able to take on an OD&D Type VI Demon (Balrog as initially published before Tolkien estate got grumpy) and survive, as well as kick it's butt, took a lot more than a level 5 Magic User.

    Also, Gandalf wielded a long sword called Glamdring. No 5th level Magic User did that in OD&D.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-12-04 at 05:13 PM.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Danielqueue1 View Post
    So this came out of a discussion spawned from the dozens of "build this character" threads.

    Gandalf accross the movies casts various spells and calls himself a wizard, thus people often hail him as the archetypal DnD wizard, but lets look closer.

    Part 1 spells used.
    -Prestidigitation (cantrip) lights fireworks with his staff and temporarily marks a door.
    - light (cantrip) lights his staff in moria
    -shield (level 1 abjuration) balrog fight and hobbit movies (canonicity arguable)
    -shatter (level 2 evocation) You shall not pass!!! Targeted at bridge. And cracking a rock in the hobbit movies (again canonicity arguable)
    -one could argue warding wind in hobbit movies against the necromacer or pyrotechnics to spread fire, but it's been a long time since I've seen that one so I am not sure on specifics. (Level 2 abjuration for warding wind)
    -Sending (level 3 evocation) calling an eagle to get off Orthanc. (But what about the butterfly? Flavor text! No way that one moth makes it all the way to the Eagle reliably and quickly enough even with animal messenger)
    -dispel magic (level 3 abjuration) "I will draw you Saruman like poison is drawn from a wound! " (King of Rohan) rolled poorly on the first attempt. Rolled better on the second.

    So spells up to level 3 all focussing on abjuration and evocation, Let's move on.

    Fighting, when a fight is unavoidable what does he use? Is it some reliable cantrips? Firebolt? Ray of frost? Green flame blade? Chill touch? Nope! He pulls out a sword and his staff. And as per the battle of the black gate he is wielding both a longsword and a staff at the same time. Which would require the Dual weilder feat because they are not light weapons. Both use strength as their attack stat barring kensei/hexblade levels.

    So what do we know of where strength and intelligence are the primary stats, focus on spells around 3 or less most of the time, have a propensity for abjuation and evocation spells, and spend most of combat using weapons instead of spells?

    TL:DR
    Conclusion: Gandalf is an eldritch knight!
    Bearing in mind for the movies he also calls lightning into his sword before stabbing the Balrog with it.
    In addition he might conceivably know a Restoration spell of some kind when Theoman recovered just by touching his sword.
    Also the giant ray of light he fires at the Nazgul which forces them to turn away.
    If you include the Hobbit then he also has some sort of anti-darkness barrier.
    And definitely knows Heat Metal judging by how he punked Aragorn and Gimli in the forest.
    Also teleports dead-center into the Goblin King's lair in the Hobbit.
    Last edited by SociopathFriend; 2019-12-04 at 05:27 PM.
    It's time for a preemptive retaliatory strike.

  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    OrcBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    I thought it was a load of rubbish then, and I still do. (I was college/freshman at the time. Silmarillion had not yet come out, so none of us really grokked who "Olorin" was.)
    But it sure inspired a lot of discussion.

    To be able to take on an OD&D Type VI Demon (Balrog as initially published before Tolkien estate got grumpy) and survive, as well as kick it's butt, took a lot more than a level 5 Magic User.

    Also, Gandalf wielded a long sword called Glamdring. No 5th level Magic User did that in OD&D.
    Rubbish indeed. It was entirely based on the spells we saw Gandalf cast, and never took into account his other equipment and prowess.

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by SociopathFriend View Post
    Bearing in mind for the movies he also calls lightning into his sword before stabbing the Balrog with it.
    In addition he might conceivably know a Restoration spell of some kind when Theoman recovered just by touching his sword.
    Also the giant ray of light he fires at the Nazgul which forces them to turn away.
    If you include the Hobbit then he also has some sort of anti-darkness barrier.
    And definitely knows Heat Metal judging by how he punked Aragorn and Gimli in the forest.
    Also teleports dead-center into the Goblin King's lair in the Hobbit.
    Dang, must have missed those. It's been over a decade since I read the books.

    But protection from evil and good is still a 1st level abjuration available to eldritch knights.
    Quote Originally Posted by micahaphone View Post
    I mean, would you let a pc be a celestial with strong combat and utility powers, pre established connections and alliances with powerful groups, and a self cast True Resurrection, in a lower level party?
    Aasimar are a PC option and they have strong combat and utility powers. They can heal, and they are connected to celestials

    True Ressurect? No. His body wasn't turned to ash even if he had actually died a bog standard revivify would have done it, but nah I think he just rolled well on death saves. After all, he's the only one we hear the story from and he would have been unconscious for that whole bit.

    New robes and staff, loot from balrog.

    Daylight is 3rd level evocation and wards out darkness.

    No idea about heat metal, light beam and such though. Unless DM gave him a homebrewed staff of power type shindig. After all there are many magic weapons in the series
    Last edited by Danielqueue1; 2019-12-04 at 07:49 PM.

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    SwashbucklerGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Don't forget he wears the elven ring of fire...

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    Kobold

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    His AC seems pretty high for someone just wearing robes, I’d expect an Eldritch knight to be a little more armored, unless he too got a Mithral chainshirt as loot at the end of the hobbit and never told anyone?

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    BardGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Gandalf is actually a great thief rogue with expertise in performance, persuasion, arcana and deception.

    Every ability he does is from magic items he stole and figured out how to use as a rogue.

    Magical staff with various spells and cantrips, magic ring, stone of light on his staff, glamdring is a cleverly disguised sun blade so he could sneak attack critical a balrog with a 1 a day greater smite in the sword.

    However he was not really that great at investigation because it took him forever to research things he should have already known but he works on lies, also he could not figure out a simple warded door to the mines.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    Kobold

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by KragBrightscale View Post
    His AC seems pretty high for someone just wearing robes, I’d expect an Eldritch knight to be a little more armored, unless he too got a Mithral chainshirt as loot at the end of the hobbit and never told anyone?
    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d6/41/9b/d...n-mckellen.jpg
    (don't know how to post images directly from mobile)

    Are those bracers of defense i see?

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    Orc in the Playground
     
    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    No, he's a Lore Bard, full stop, using booming blade or a modified greenflame blade. His melee attacks are always precise and powerful, and they fit with that attack style. Further, there is a magical flare to these attacks every once in a blue moon which supports this.

    Also, in Tolkiens mythos magic is song, and the "angels" sing-like bards. He primarily supports others, inspiring them, as well. Most of his magic is subtle, and that which isn't is mostly on the level of aiding others. If we count movies, then his blatant spells were arcane lock/glyph of warding/symbol, invisibility, Dispel Magic, Counterspell, shield, heat metal, thunderwave/shatter, and speak with animals. There was also a sunbeam of something against the nazgul flyers. I'd argue he probably has legend lore and a few other spells which are cast with a flair for the subtle rather than overt, such as when he pondered in front of the door to Moria, which we see relatively clearly.

    Arcane lock/Glyph/Symbol are from when he bars the path to the Balrog before the bridge, leaving the tomb-if you read LOTR he has a magic duel with it where he puts up a "ward", then the Balrog attempts a counterspell which almost ends Gandalf, Gandalf responds by "Commanding" it closed, and eventually the sheer magic they are throwing around causes the door to say "Screw this I'm done" and explode under the strain. Arcane lock fits the text best, but Glyph and Symbol both fit the idea as wel.

    However, his most impressive conjurations were always buffs and debuffs. In particular, I think a lot can be said for saying he has charm person, heroism, enthrall, calm emotions, hold monster, greater restoration, and mass suggestion/tree seeing (the second is probably innate). These effects explain what he could do better than wizard spells, and represent a lot of his more powerful magical feats. Hold Monster in particular fits how he held back enemies at multiple points. And most of those are Bard spells. He probably also has some beacon spell, like beacon of hope.

    If we keep him a single classed bard and explain the above plus other spells he has, I think the only spells he absolutely has as arcane lock, counterspell, and shield. The rest are on the Bard list. Coutnerspell could be fit with dispel magic instead, but it seems vital to explaining how he fights certain enemy magic users. This can all be explained with magical secrets regardless.

    But in essence, Gandalf did a lot of magic that was subtle rather than blatant, and ignoring this in favor of his flashy powers to say he was a weak magic user is ignoring his real power. It's judging the Bard on his AOE.

    (Further, Lore Bards have some of the highest skill checks in the game, and Gandalf had very high skills).

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    NinjaGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    The Tolkien universe is low magic compared to DnD. He probably is multiclassed and caps out with five full casting levels in a World were almost no one has more than three caster levels.

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Danielqueue1 View Post
    https://i.pinimg.com/736x/d6/41/9b/d...n-mckellen.jpg
    (don't know how to post images directly from mobile)

    Are those bracers of defense i see?
    Sweet looking white robes? I'd say add Robes of the Archmagi to that, but that would mean at least 1 level in wizard/warlock/sorcerer, undermining the thread topic

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    Lore bard, level 12. (Although I think that Deva or Planetar also fits)

    @MarkHall: yes, it was in Dragon. I'll try and find that issue, I may still have it.

    OK, it was published in March 1977, Dragon Issue 5, and it was ...


    I thought it was a load of rubbish then, and I still do. (I was college/freshman at the time. Silmarillion had not yet come out, so none of us really grokked who "Olorin" was.)
    But it sure inspired a lot of discussion.

    To be able to take on an OD&D Type VI Demon (Balrog as initially published before Tolkien estate got grumpy) and survive, as well as kick it's butt, took a lot more than a level 5 Magic User.

    Also, Gandalf wielded a long sword called Glamdring. No 5th level Magic User did that in OD&D.
    I'm not as learned in the ways of old-school D&D, so it's possible I never saw the issue, but I've read the article before and i always though it was a good bit of fun. Fair is fair, though, magical LotR characters don't actually translate well into D&D at all. However, that article did eventually lead to E6, which I am immeasurably fond of. Moreover, I've always seen it more as a condemnation of the idea that every character in media had ridiculously high levels, which runs rampant even today. Gandalf might be extremely high level (or a sufficiently powerful Good outsider), but the hobbits and even the more skilled members of The Fellowship are not.
    Quote Originally Posted by Nifft View Post
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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    RogueGuy

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    I'm not as learned in the ways of old-school D&D, so it's possible I never saw the issue, but I've read the article before and i always though it was a good bit of fun. Fair is fair, though, magical LotR characters don't actually translate well into D&D at all. However, that article did eventually lead to E6, which I am immeasurably fond of. Moreover, I've always seen it more as a condemnation of the idea that every character in media had ridiculously high levels, which runs rampant even today. Gandalf might be extremely high level (or a sufficiently powerful Good outsider), but the hobbits and even the more skilled members of The Fellowship are not.
    Depends if you are talking book or movie. Aragorn's confident smile before starting to face off, all by himself, a LOT of orcs in the end of the Fellowship movie, right after he tells Frodo to run, implies a high-level character (and perhaps also implies a system without bounded accuracy).

    I remember watching the movie in the theater with a friend who mentioned "that's a D&D moment".

    I also think that, if you are going to give 5e class levels to Gandalf, the best fit is probably a Palabard.
    Last edited by diplomancer; 2019-12-05 at 01:16 AM.

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Talionis View Post
    The Tolkien universe is low magic compared to DnD. He probably is multiclassed and caps out with five full casting levels in a World were almost no one has more than three caster levels.
    First reasonable comment I see on this thread...

    I don't see the point of trying to shoehorn two universes which have very little in common besides sharing "cultural tropes" on races and *some* monsters.

    Still, I'll play.

    Spoiler: First a bit of analysis on what we know about Gandalf and what could match in D&d
    Show
    What did Gandalft display?
    - Wits.
    --> Plus points for Wizard and Bard
    - Charisma
    --> Plus points for Bard, Sorcerer, Paladin
    - Intuitiveness
    --> Plus points for WIS-based classes.
    - Ability to befriend and control (to some extent) animals.
    --> Plus points for Druid / Ranger.
    - Great capacity to boost allie's morale and convince them they will prevail.
    --> Plus points for Bard.
    - Decisive, yet not extraordinary, weapon fighting ability (Gimli is still more effective in melee, Aragorn still fares better against groups, Legolas is unmatched in archery).
    --> Plus points for Ranger, possibly Fighter or Rogue.
    - Ability to make meaningful tactical decisions and pull some tricks in fights (from what I remember)
    --> Plus points for features that can be used with Attack (Manoeuvers, Swords BI, alternative bonus action like Thief one).
    - Many effects (especially in the light department) that would qualify at "low level" magic in D&d yet were effective
    --> Plus points for cantrips Druid/Clerics/Wizards have access to.
    - Great will to expand knowledge --> bonus points for Wizards and to some extent Bards.

    What Gandalf never displayed:
    - purely harming/debilitating spells. --> malus points for Wizards and Sorcerers.
    - mass control spells --> idem.
    - extraordinary martial ability --> malus point for Fighter (at least high-level one) and Paladin.
    - unarmed fighting or incredible mobility --> malus point for Monk and Rogue
    - incredibly high weapon damage --> malus point for Rogue and Paladin
    - shield wear, troop leading, god relationship --> malus point for Cleric / Paladin / Warlock.
    - being a "man of the wild" at core (living outside, moving everywhere, hunting etc) --> malus for Ranger and Druid.
    - being a man that favors misleading and deception, or generally subterfuge/lies: --> malus for Rogue thematically.
    - changing form --> malus point for Druid and Transmutation Wizard
    - making heavy use of illusions --> malus point for Bard and Illusion Wizard
    - making heavy use of conjuration magic --> malus points for Druid and Conjuration Wizard.
    - making heavy use of undead or otherwise frowned upon abilities or being for violence as a normal way to resolve problems --> malus point on Necromancer Wizard, Death/War Cleric, Conquest/Veangence Paladin etc...

    For me, Gandalf would be easily built with any combination of the following classes: Ranger, Druid, Bard, Wizard, Fighter as long as the following requirements are met.
    1. "regular" Extra Attack ONLY (no 3rd attack) + Dual Wielder feat, possibly dual-wielder FS.
    2. At least 16 in INT, 14 in WIS and CHA, and 12/14 DEX.
    3. Know Thaumaturgy, Prestidigication, Control Flames, possibly Minor Illusion?.
    4. Has Inspiring Leader feat.
    5. Knows at least 30 spells, but at least half of them 1st level, and none of them higher than a 4th level spell.
    6. Is Human (obviously).

    For example...
    Easy to build: Ranger 5+, Druid 5-7, Bard 1, Wizard 1. -> WIS main, one of the best fits mechanically; but Druid and Ranger have a heavy "nature" vibe that weighs far too much for Gandalf.
    Another easy: Bard 1, Druid 1, Diviner Wizard 5-7, Battlemaster 6 -> INT main, DEX secondary main
    Yet another easy: Swords Bard 8, Mountain Druid 3-5, Enchanter Wizard 5.


    Spoiler: My personal view: Human, balanced stats, mix of Bard/Wizard/Druid/Fighter, Inspiring Leader and Dual Wielder, Staff of Defense
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    Human, starting stats 10|12 / 14|12 / 11 / 16 / 14 / 14.
    Class repartition:
    - Lore Bard 6: archetype fits the theme of "the guy that is looking for knowledge", and features can be fluffed easy enough. Tough sell with Swords Bard though. Latter would make Extra Attack redundant if we took Ranger 5...
    - Swords Bard 3->6-7-8: we don't *really* much of Ranger, and otherwise I feel the alternative Bardic Inspiration abilities work well.
    - Land Druid 3->4: I suggest Mountain because of some scenes I remember of the books/movies (notably special link with eagles, being kept in isolated, high place) but any could be justified.
    - Fighter 1 -> Battlemaster 3-4: I love Ranger, but the "D&d 5e" fluff of it feels really "too much" imo for Gandalf, and the main things it brings (spells, fighting style, Extra Attack) can be easily brought from other classes. So, instead, we'll bring Fighter into the fray: FS early, then later we'll stack more goodies, notably Manoeuvers.
    - Wizard 7-8: the only schools I feel fitting are Divination (carrying upon the fact Gandalf had a very traumatic experience that opened a minor prescience ability), and Enchantment, for the whole "mind games" thing. But since Gandalf also rarely displayed ability, or even will, to influence people magically "against their will", Divination wins.

    If reaching level 20: Swords Bard 6, Wizard 5, Druid 4 and Fighter 1 are mandatory. Rest is up to anyone depending on if they'd prefer spell versatility (focus Wizard), combat versatility (Fighter), or simply like to favor mechanics over fluff and decide to push one of the three casters to get specific spells of 4th and even possibly 5th level.

    My "fluff opti" would be: Bard 8 / Wizard 6 / Druid 4 / Fighter 2
    My "mechanics opti" would be either:
    - Bard 6 / Wizard 7 / Druid 4 / Fighter 3 (mainly to get chance to learn many more spells as a wizard while still getting Manoeuvers)
    - Bard 6 / Wizard 6 / Druid 5 / Fighter 3 (nearly all rituals)
    - Bard 6 / Wizard 5 / Druid 5 / Fighter 4 (don't care that much about Divination spells, and extra feat is nice).
    I'd probably pick second opti. ^^

    In any case, that character would wield a shortsword and a dagger at first, picking Dual Wielder ASAP. Somewhere in its career, he would find a Staff of Defense or another magic staff with tricks inside: imo that's mainly how Gandalf uses staff, casting magic, and otherwise using to defend or simply push rather than really attacking, memory is hazy though. And that staff fits perfectly in that regard, "explaining" the resilient of Gandalf without armor (Mage Armor + possibly emergency Shield). He would also get a Ring of Spell Storing to always have a few emergency tricks up his sleeve. And he'd find a somewhat unique shortsword/rapier later with at least a +2 bonus to attack and damage rolls.
    With the remaining three feats, he'd pick Inspiring Leader, then probably pick Resilient: CON, then whatever (probably a bump of attack stat or Mobile or Magic Initiate: Cleric).

    He'd be proficient in Perception, Stealth, Nature, Arcana, Medicine, Persuasion, Insight.

    He'd know at least the following cantrips: Message, Prestidigitation, Minor Illusion, Druidcraft (unless houserule getting Thaumaturgy instead), Blade Ward, Guidance, Light.

    He'd know at least the following spells: Healing Words (refluffed), Command, Speak With Animals, Comprehend Languages, Disguise Self, Find Familiar (like the eagle), Detect/Locate spells of course, Animal Messenger, Calm Emotions, Darkvision, Levitate, Warding Wind, Daylight, Fly, Dispel Magic, Counterspell, and generally as many "non-violent, minimally intrusive" spells like Slow / Hypnotic Pattern.
    Because we are still talking about a D&d character, in a combat-heavy game, I'd of course keep Booming Blade, Shadow Blade, Mirror Image, Shield, Misty Step, Magic Weapon, Absorb Elements and Haste.

    His AC would be 13+2 (Mage Armor) +1 (Dual Wielder) +1 (Staff of Defense) so a respectable (for a caster) 17 AC.
    Last edited by HiveStriker; 2019-12-05 at 12:05 PM.

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by diplomancer View Post
    Depends if you are talking book or movie. Aragorn's confident smile before starting to face off, all by himself, a LOT of orcs in the end of the Fellowship movie, right after he tells Frodo to run, implies a high-level character (and perhaps also implies a system without bounded accuracy).

    I remember watching the movie in the theater with a friend who mentioned "that's a D&D moment".

    I also think that, if you are going to give 5e class levels to Gandalf, the best fit is probably a Palabard.
    Even in the books there are something like 20 orc corpses around Boromir when Aragorn finds him. 20. In a single combat encounter.

    Also Gimli and Legolas each rack up a kill total of 40+ orcs over the course of the Battle of Helm's Deep, which did not have time for a long rest in the middle. And it's heavily implied that Aragorn and Eomer had more as they were in even more combats over the course of that battle.

    These are big kill numbers for low level fighters.

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Of course Gandalf isn't a wizard. He's Magneto.

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Luccan View Post
    . Fair is fair, though, magical LotR characters don't actually translate well into D&D at all.
    While that was a piece of his point, his last paragraph was a crock, and his title a bigger crock.
    1. The Elven Ring of Power on Gandalf's finger got no mention. There are three in the whole world, it's an artifact.

    2. He refused to accept that Eldritch Wizardry's balrog was a balrog. He just had waved that. Horse pucky.

    3. Sauron as Evil High Priest 12.
    Too low, but that analysis was on the right track IMO. EHP was the right direction to head with that. Sauron was at least as strong a demon as Orcus or Demagorgon. I am pretty sure no OD&D level 12 EPH could solo Orcus.
    Quote Originally Posted by Article
    So how do we reconcile our intuition with the bare facts? Well, for one thing, as I hinted above, the universe of LOTR was magic-weak. It is easy to assume that it was run by “ a very tough DM” who rewarded experience so slowly that it would take 2000 years for a pseudo-angel to get to the 5th level, and 6000 years or so for an EHP to reach 12th.
    A complete load of rubbish. D&D was built to be D&D, and LoTR wasn't constructed nor written with a game in mind.
    I would rather place the blame on the scale we are using: the D&D magic system. It seems a more likely thing for Gygax and Arneson to misjudge the spell levels. So what can we do? Change the spell system, the experience system or the levels of the spells, or all of the above? What is your response?
    Gygax and Arneson came up with spell levels for game and playability reasons. Not a problem.
    Seligman was out to lunch in terms of "we need to fix something" but he had no clue what to fix. Answer; nothing. D&D, as a game, was not built as a LoTR emulation. His base premise was flawed.
    If you posted that on the internet 40 years later for the first time, it would be a discussion prompt. I seem to recall a few responses in Dragon that took him to task.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-12-05 at 01:47 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    D&D levels of magic in every edition just do not map to the 3rd Age very easily. Arguably they sort of work for the early 2nd Age.

    I would put the non-hobbit fellowship members at highish single digit levels, while Gandalf himself shows no reason to guess he has more than 4-5 wizard levels of spellcasting. Gandalf does have significant other forms of power to draw upon, so his ECL could easily at the upper range of single digit level.

    Tolkien works very hard to shield the reader's eyes from overt examples of strong magic. In the Hobbit, Gandalf shows some skill at manipulating fire in the Hobbit against the worgs, but that is 3rd level spell caster kind of stuff. In FotR, there is a great battle between Gandalf and multiple riders at Weathertop before Aragorn/hobbits get there, whose scope is hinted at by the evidence of the aftermath.

    The most overt example of powerful magic we readers ever observe is the breaching of the gates of Minas Tirith by means of an insane battering ram with some magical assistance from the Witch King. Even that is beautiful theater more than logical necessity, as no one would be confused by a big arse battering ram breaching a gate after a few additional hours or days of effort.

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by micahaphone View Post
    Agreed. He doesn't have class levels because he's not a player.
    DMG has rules for giving NPCs class levels. I know a lot of GMs that use PC stats for major antagonists or allies.

    Ultimately Gandalf isn't any class or D&D creature because Tolkien wasn't writing his stories with a class system in mind and D&D was decades away from inception. On the other hand, Gandalf can be modelled in D&D in multiple ways. EK, Swordsinger, and angel with some custom abilities all work.

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Snails View Post
    D&D levels of magic in every edition just do not map to the 3rd Age very easily. Arguably they sort of work for the early 2nd Age.
    Yes, and even the First age.

    I would put the non-hobbit fellowship members at highish single digit levels, while Gandalf himself shows no reason to guess he has more than 4-5 wizard levels of spellcasting. Gandalf does have significant other forms of power to draw upon, so his ECL could easily at the upper range of single digit level.
    You use of the example at Weathertop where he fought, solo, 4 or 5 specters (a one of the nin ring wraith equivalent monster was either a somewhat boosted OD&D Wraith or a Spectre) - not just a 4-5 level spell caster.
    Tolkien works very hard to shield the reader's eyes from overt examples of strong magic.
    Bingo. Galadriel's mirror is a powerful piece of scrying. The Palantirs are artifacts, or at least very powerful magical items. The One Ring of Power is an artifact, and I'd argue that the three elven rings are also. (See Eldritch Wizardry, Artifacts, as a reference)

    The most overt example of powerful magic we readers ever observe is the breaching of the gates of Minas Tirith by means of an insane battering ram with some magical assistance from the Witch King. Even that is beautiful theater more than logical necessity, as no one would be confused by a big arse battering ram breaching a gate after a few additional hours or days of effort.
    You raise some good points.

    Rob Kuntz, whose reply I finally found, offers this in response to those who try to shoehorn D&D into LOTR world with too much vigor:

    Quote Originally Posted by Dragon 13, Page 8, part of a longer piece
    One must also remember that this system works with the worlds of R.E. Howard, Fritz Leiber and L.S. de Camp and Fletcher Pratt much better than that of Tolkien. If one is to branch away from the D & D system, let’s say towards Tolkien’s world, he will be disappointed to find that most spells, characters etc. do not function well within the epic world of Tolkien’s design.

    The Professor was concerned with presenting a well-told tale of sheer magnitude and greatness culminating with the end of the story, end of the characters, end of the world for all it was worth, for what more was there actually to do? There was not a continuing story line possible, for the story itself was in fact based around the destruction of the Ring and all those events which were spawned from it. As we would say at TSR “END OF ADVENTURE”.

    What I am saying is that for a role-playing, continuous adventuring world, Tolkien’s does not fit well within the D & D game style.
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-12-05 at 02:55 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct
    Quote Originally Posted by HappyDaze
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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by KorvinStarmast View Post
    @MarkHall: yes, it was in Dragon. I'll try and find that issue, I may still have it.

    OK, it was published in March 1977, Dragon Issue 5, and it was ...


    I thought it was a load of rubbish then, and I still do. (I was college/freshman at the time. Silmarillion had not yet come out, so none of us really grokked who "Olorin" was.)
    But it sure inspired a lot of discussion.

    To be able to take on an OD&D Type VI Demon (Balrog as initially published before Tolkien estate got grumpy) and survive, as well as kick it's butt, took a lot more than a level 5 Magic User.

    Also, Gandalf wielded a long sword called Glamdring. No 5th level Magic User did that in OD&D.
    I am utterly amazed how we're still doing the same thing 42 years later. I sure remember a dozen years later and the Usenet flame wars on the subject (mostly in the form of 'nuh uh!!! You obviously haven't read the Silmarillion!* He's not a wizard, he's a Maiar!' 'Yes I have*, I just don't think it's pertinent. But fine, he's a Maiar pretending to be a 5th level wizard!')
    *Somehow one had to show one's nerd cred by name-dropping the 5th or 6th most popular fantasy book in existence at the time. Nerdom was weird back when it really was somewhat of a beleaguered subculture.

    Frankly, once we get into 5e, there's going to be even less of a one right answer. 'Not a PC' is a good start and we then don't even need to go into celestial or just NPC not built on PC mechanics. Within PC mechanics, anyone can use a sword and there are plenty of ways to use the mostly low-level spells that are evidenced in the novels.
    Last edited by Willie the Duck; 2019-12-05 at 03:24 PM.

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    Default Re: Gandalf is not a wizard! And other concerns.

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie the Duck View Post
    I am utterly amazed how we're still doing the same thing 42 years later.
    I think that Jackson's films are a factor in that, in terms of re-awakening the sleeping giant of nerdism.

    We had a thread in this forum two or three years ago about Gandalf, and Aragorn I think, for 5e (how is Gandalf a Ranger????!!!!) and that informs my "12th level Lore Bard" guess for the Gandalf PC.

    But the Deva / Planetar take for NPC is pretty good too.

    As to how he solos a Balor, maybe that artifact/Ring helps? Fire immunity?
    Last edited by KorvinStarmast; 2019-12-05 at 03:54 PM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malifice View Post
    (paraphrased) Rulings are not 'House Rules.' Rulings are a DM doing what DMs are supposed to do.
    Quote Originally Posted by greenstone View Post
    Agency means that they {players} control their character's actions; you control the world's reactions to the character's actions.
    Gosh, 2D8HP, you are so very correct
    Quote Originally Posted by HappyDaze
    Self-deception tends to have a low target number
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