by Leo Jenicek
Ventor Goblinbane swung his battle-axe, turning his foes into small chunks of meat. Farn, (known in some quarters as Farrn the Nimble Fingers) appeared unseen at the side of the demon worshiping priest and slid a dagger between his ribs.
“Javer, some magic would be helpful about now!” shouted Goblinbane.
The mage summoned a spark of fire in her palm that she rapidly swirled into a sphere of green flame.
“Since these fools love demons so much, I’ll send them to hell,” Javer said with a smile.
“Wait!” cried Farn, “use Evard’s Black Tentacles on the cultists, that way they will have to save versus dex or take three dee six damage and be restrained!”
Goblinbane grunted his agreement and added, “that way they should save at disadvantage against your fireball.”
Farn’s eyes lit up and excitedly blurted, “use a higher spell slot so you do extra damage!”
“Sure,” said Javer, “we should be getting a long rest after this so no point on holding back.”
The example I just posited has happened, or some variation thereof, at countless tables. I know I’ve seen it. I’ve been a part of it. On one level, its good teamwork, using the resources at your disposal for maximum effect. Nothing wrong with that.
What has happened to magic in D&D? I know it’s still there; people play Mages and other spell casters, magic items are discovered and used, potions are drunk and scrolls read. All of those things are an intrinsic part of the game and yet…
We’ve lost something. The Magic of Magic, Magic is by its very nature is mysterious, dangerous, and unpredictable. Those who traffic in the arcane arts are, correspondingly, mysterious, dangerous, and unpredictable.
Many players know the rules chapter and verse; they know what their characters can and can’t do and the limits of each class. And that’s a good thing, nothing slows down play at a table more than arguing about rules or looking through a book.
However, spells are more than ammo in a gun. Everyone should be a little afraid of a wizard. What does he or she know? Can they turn you into a toad with a look? Have they made wild, unholy pacts with unknowable beings of great power? Just what can they do? It is possible to layer game knowledge with a sense of theatricality. A mage is a bit of a showman, hard not to be when you can transform your foes to stone.
Now I’m not suggesting reworking the mechanics of D&D, that’s a rabbit hole I don’t care to go down, but what I am suggesting is shifting they way we look at magic in the game.
Posted: May 7th, 2014 | Tagged: Column - Behind the Screen