Insights from God -- How to play a wizard and not come off as a jerk


Advice


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So you want to be the all mighty wizard (or not -- sorcerers, oracles, clerics, druids, magi, witches and summoners are welcome too), but the thing is you don't want to be 'that wizard'. We all know the one -- the guy that insists that the only reason the rest of the party is there is to waste time between his turns and how if the whole party was spell casters they could play on super easy mode.

You aren't looking to steal anyone's thunder -- you just want to morph reality at a whim, and there is nothing wrong with that (if you are me at least)!

There are several steps in this and it's a process that is learned and takes practice. But if you are willing to spend the time, effort, and (perhaps most importantly) develop the deviousness then you too can have REAL ULTIMATE POWER, and still walk down the street without a rulebook stuck up your can.

The first thing to do is get on your GM's good side. You want to know his pet peeves, know how he operates his story line and where you can step. Make no mistake -- if you are full on playing a wizard you are very much going to be walking on the GM's toes every now and then. The key is to tread softly and be careful where you step. Have him develop a subtle sign he can give you before you run roughshod over something he wants the party to go through. Generally if the wizard doesn't bring it up, no one else in the party will -- and if they do then it's not your fault it came up. This means that even though you are the guy with the answer, it isn't your answer, so you aren't going to get blamed for it.

The second thing to do is know your party both the characters and the players. A lot of wizards like having high initiative (I am no exception) but the truly masterful take that high initiative and then delay.

By delaying or readying an action you can hit when it matters most with the spell that is needed the most, and you aren't drawing first blood. This can be important as some players greatly desire that, or will see your early actions (even if buffing) as devaluing them. It also tells the GM that you consider him a canny opponent -- not to be taken lightly and that you realize you need to pay attention in order to not be had by his wily ways.

You are going to want to know what your team is about too. IF you have a 'rock of a fighter' that stands solid and trades blows you aren't going to want to be pushing foes away from him or making him unable to sit still and engage. You also don't want to take away from his solid hits with last hit kills or dumping a lot of damage. Clear out the mooks from around him so he can go solid against the large damage source for you.

If you have a bard focus on battlefield control and let him be the major buffer (if he's that sort of bard) -- you both contribute and don't step on each others toes.

And perhaps just as importantly always remember to have mundane means to solve problems with you. Passwall is great! A flask of acid and some magic lockpicks for the rogue is cheaper on your resources though, and keeps other players with skin in the game.

If you find yourself at the end of a turn and you don't know what to cast -- don't cast. Move around and maybe aid other if you feel the need. I have gone entire battles where I cast one spell at the beginning of the fight and did nothing else. I didn't bother with the crossbow I didn't swing my staff I just sat back and out of the way. We have always been able to ignore the concept of 15 minute adventuring day in part because I don't feel the need to cast every single time I have a chance.

This does two things -- it preserves resources and makes you look canny and trusting in your allies. Look if you have a dwarven stalwart defender and you are facing giants you can step back and let her have fun. You don't have to get fancy with the high level spells, just give her a heroism and let her go.

Finally leave some slots open at higher level. You aren't likely to blow through all your spells in a single fight and you rarely need more than a couple utility spells on the spot to save a slot or two of each spell level so you can be versatile in the field.

More suggestions from other players are always welcome.


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Have a reason -- always have a reason for what you cast and when you cast it. Yes it might be the wrong choice but if you have a reason people will understand. The only time you should reconsider is if your reason is, "because I have to cast a spell this round."


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I think all this can be boiled down to a much simpler form.

How to play a Wizard and not come off as a prick, by Rynjin:

Step 1: Don't be a prick.

Liberty's Edge

Rynjin wrote:

I think all this can be boiled down to a much simpler form.

How to play a Wizard and not come off as a prick, by Rynjin:

Step 1: Don't be a prick.

Probably the first time ever but, I agree 100% with Rynjin here.


This could also be titled: How to be DM and not whine when the wizard Passwall's your encounter.


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But, but...I need to RP that 7 charisma!!


Oh, come now, perhaps the defining trait of the Wizard is that he is a prick.
I've played completely self-centered characters before who condescended to everyone unless the proved themselves useful, and only then he was very clear that he only liked them because of what they were useful for.
He was a man whose ambitions were his existence, and with each level, each step towards immortality and ultimate power, was a step towards a growing fear that he might plateau in power at the limits of mortality.

He was extremely fun to play, but also was decidedly neutral evil. Thank the dark gods for paying someone to make an earring of undetectable alignment or the Paladin would have been screwed.


This was helpful! Thanks! I play an obnoxious wizard who thinks he's all that, but I occasionally step on toes and thats no fun


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I only see people whine in groups where everyone is trying to solo the fight at once. Watching a party come together like clockwork because everyone is focused on being efficient is a thing of beauty. If you can't handle high level magic don't run high level games.


I like it. Remember at low levels, be smart enough to assess if the party has got this or not. You have 0 level spells that can be useful to everyone else. Or just deal a d3 damage if nothing else. The aid another is a good idea.

If the party has 'got this' without much help from you, don't blow your spells. Maybe some UMD and a wand of cure light wounds. Or shield? Perhaps you can be Dr. Feelgood and move around, passing out potions. Oooo...that quickling is hard to hit...hey fighter, I hand you this potion of true strike...grab that bugger! Just help out, and then, when something real bad happens, something the martials are having trouble with, that's when you roll up your sleeves and start chucking your spells.

But honestly, I think the biggest point that I would point to, is that you don't have to cast, just cause you can.

Dark Archive

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Truestrike can't be made into potion form.

And what's the point of having UNLIMITED POWER if you can't lord it over your lessers?


Victor Zajic wrote:

Truestrike can't be made into potion form.

And what's the point of having UNLIMITED POWER if you can't lord it over your lessers?

That's generally the rule the BBEG follows too. Right up until some uppity party of goody-two-shoes dices him up into tiny bits.

Silver Crusade

Spook's rule for not being a jerk, wizard or otherwise.

Play the game, not the GM.

You aren't/shouldn't be in it to show how much smarter or better you are then your friend.


I mostly play solo, very little in the way of tabletop gamers in my area( none that I know)So my gm and I laugh our asses off because I'm being a pretentious s%~#...to NPC's!


Only when I play 3/4 or full casters though oddly enough. :/

Liberty's Edge

Daenar wrote:
I mostly play solo, very little in the way of tabletop gamers in my area( none that I know)So my gm and I laugh our asses off because I'm being a pretentious s@+%...to NPC's!

Oh, okay. That's entirely different. And often hilarious.


Simon Legrande wrote:
Victor Zajic wrote:

Truestrike can't be made into potion form.

And what's the point of having UNLIMITED POWER if you can't lord it over your lessers?

That's generally the rule the BBEG follows too. Right up until some uppity party of goody-two-shoes dices him up into tiny bits.

This. What's the point of having a nuclear arsenal if you aren't going to use it? MAD baby.


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I have the opposite problem. It takes a lot of effort on my part to consistently play my Wizard as a prick. I actually have a "prick personality" sheet that helps me determine what the character would do.

I normally play the loving and caring Cleric or Ranger types. Way easier because I don't have to but energy into figuring out how they would act/react.


If you are a wizard and want to avoid being a prick, include the rest of the party as much as you can in your plans. If you are going to storm a castle, recognize that just teleporting the party in might be the wrong plan to go with. Maybe summoning a distraction is needed while the guys scale the walls to pelt the defenses with arrows.

Make encounters fun, or if you must remove the fun factor, do so only for the right reasons. I had more or less trivialized the last fight of a PFS scenario with a a web spell for the largest threat and a grease for a potential flanker at a different end. Not everyone was rolling well, and the big threat had just brought someone down to negatives in one crit. The web was necessary to save that party member's life, despite the inconvenience it ended up causing the rest of the group. I know the GM ended up a bit frustrated, but I think it was the right call there.

Dark Archive

Actually, in conclusion to OP.

The best way to not be a prick is to know who your playing with, and this goes for what ever class your playing with.

If you and another party member excel at the same thing, work together to be mutual beneficial to each other instead of competing against both the enemies and each other.

If your character build requires you to do your actions first before everyone else, well not everyone else wants to use your "strategy" Don't cry about how they fighting "tactically". Just because your a tripper doesn't mean everyone should wait for you to trip someone before they do anything.


Titania, the Summer Queen wrote:

If your character build requires you to do your actions first before everyone else, well not everyone else wants to use your "strategy" Don't cry about how they fighting "tactically". Just because your a tripper doesn't mean everyone should wait for you to trip someone before they do anything.

That's why I just yell "Fire in the hole!" before my alchemist or admixture wizard cuts loose, regardless of initiative order. It seemed to fix that issue pretty quick, and more people became familiar with the value of delayed actions. I do love a teaching moment.

Sovereign Court

I wonder what it would be like to computer-generate some (semi)random lists of prepared spells, so you start each adventuring day surprised by the spells you have available today. Forcing you to improvize new tactics.

(I'm working on a mystic theurge who worships Sun Wukong.)


Experiment 626 wrote:
Titania, the Summer Queen wrote:

If your character build requires you to do your actions first before everyone else, well not everyone else wants to use your "strategy" Don't cry about how they fighting "tactically". Just because your a tripper doesn't mean everyone should wait for you to trip someone before they do anything.

That's why I just yell "Fire in the hole!" before my alchemist or admixture wizard cuts loose, regardless of initiative order. It seemed to fix that issue pretty quick, and more people became familiar with the value of delayed actions. I do love a teaching moment.

The OP did state that this is how to be a wizard without being "that wizard". If your standard tactics are to be "that wizard", this outline doesn't apply.


I like the outline. Well written. I haven't played many casters, and when I do, I try not to be "that wizard". My personal favorite was my narcoleptic wizard. He definitely didn't rain on the parade as he was known to fall asleep during combat. Surprisingly, he made it past first level!

Sczarni

If you really want to roleplay as a "prick wizard", I'd recommend roleplaying as a totally magic-obsessed person. It's not that you have a big ego, it's that you think magic is the greatest thing since sliced bread, and you're the best one at it. Best complimented by occasional "drooling fanboy" moments when you come across arcane phenomena or other powerful spellcasters... even if they're currently trying to kill you.

Otherwise, all the advice in the OP seems solid. Thanks, spalding!


spalding wrote:

So you want to be the all mighty wizard (or not -- sorcerers, oracles, clerics, druids, magi, witches and summoners are welcome too), but the thing is you don't want to be 'that wizard'. We all know the one -- the guy that insists that the only reason the rest of the party is there is to waste time between his turns and how if the whole party was spell casters they could play on super easy mode.

You aren't looking to steal anyone's thunder -- you just want to morph reality at a whim, and there is nothing wrong with that (if you are me at least)!

There are several steps in this and it's a process that is learned and takes practice. But if you are willing to spend the time, effort, and (perhaps most importantly) develop the deviousness then you too can have REAL ULTIMATE POWER, and still walk down the street without a rulebook stuck up your can.

The first thing to do is get on your GM's good side. You want to know his pet peeves, know how he operates his story line and where you can step. Make no mistake -- if you are full on playing a wizard you are very much going to be walking on the GM's toes every now and then. The key is to tread softly and be careful where you step. Have him develop a subtle sign he can give you before you run roughshod over something he wants the party to go through. Generally if the wizard doesn't bring it up, no one else in the party will -- and if they do then it's not your fault it came up. This means that even though you are the guy with the answer, it isn't your answer, so you aren't going to get blamed for it.

The second thing to do is know your party both the characters and the players. A lot of wizards like having high initiative (I am no exception) but the truly masterful take that high initiative and then delay.

By delaying or readying an action you can hit when it matters most with the spell that is needed the most, and you aren't drawing first blood. This can be important as some players greatly desire that, or will...

Playing "that wizard" is why I play Wizards.

Ending the combat before the fighter can roll any dice is my idea of a good time. But only if I can work in snarky comments and backhanded compliments (in character).

What? It's their own fault. Should have played a spellcaster. Actually, they should have played a Wizard.

^_^


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When you get to the point where the only way for other classes to feel useful is for you to let them do things, the class is in serious need of a power reduction.


Zhayne wrote:
When you get to the point where the only way for other classes to feel useful is for you to let them do things, the class is in serious need of a power reduction.

Precisely.


Pfft.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

IF I play a wizard, it's a transmuter. Fireball? fook dat sjit. bullstrength here, haste there, enlarge persons everywhere!

people that aren't DMing love my wizards. My goal in most RP's is to improve other people's fun, and more often than not, it's enabling them to do frigin epic stuff.


One way not to step on the other players' toes and get more bang for your spell slot is to cast boosting spells on their characters. Improved Invisibility turns the rogue into a sneak attack machine while Blur or Displacement makes the fighters harder to hit. A well timed Haste can work wonders.

Hindering spells aimed at the enemy can work, too, but they get a savings throw and if they succeed you've thrown away a spell slot. Still, having one or two ready or on scrolls can be handy.

Still keep some raw firepower spells handy just in case.

Other options: use Wizard Eye or the more powerful versions to scout around before the party actually goes in. You might not spot traps and such, but you can relay the layout and spot most monsters so the party will know what to look out for.

If the party is willing, you can create undead. They can haul gear, help on guard duty and can wrangle the weaker mooks while the party handles the stronger opposition. These will need to be upgraded over time to keep up with stronger enemies though. It is also possible to take the necessary materials along and if facing many enemies in a place, raise up some of the ones the party has killed as zombies and use them to lead attacks. The DM might allow that to panic or otherwise temporarily rattle each group you encounter giving the party an edge.


Love me some pit spells for land bound hostiles... plop, bloodcurdling screams, wizard takes a apple and a book sits down to relax while the party mops up...good times. Course I like hitting dragons with empowered disintegrate too...


Rynjin wrote:

I think all this can be boiled down to a much simpler form.

How to play a Wizard and not come off as a prick, by Rynjin:

Step 1: Don't be a prick.

The only issue I have with this is many people playing wizards don't set out to actually be pricks. A lot of them just start seeing all that power build up and it goes to their head. Quite a few also probably think in terms of "it's for the good of the party!" and don't understand when their fellow players get pissed when they blast through what should have otherwise been a good, close, fight.

I think Spalding offers a lot of good observations.

Scarab Sages

Fly is for the fighter. Once you figure that out, being 'that wizard' becomes a good thing.

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