Wednesday, October 27, 2010
The Zen of NOT spell casting
I was listening to the Roll for Initiative podcast #33 about magic users. I think they missed one significant point. They were discussing what spells you should choose and what you can do as a magic user other than spell casting to aid a party (identify strange monsters - up to the DM, do historical research, and throw stones).
However, one thing that wasn't said was - PACE YOURSELF. At low levels magic users only have a few spells. It is pretty tempting to use all of them in each encounter, but this is something that all DM's will learn to punish you for early in their DM careers. You will run out of spells and then NEVER find a place to rest. You have to try and calculate your party's chance of success without your action and then decide when to cast certain spells. This gets easier with practice. Each spell is different, some like Charm Person may be better if cast early; timing is everything.
Another thing that I always did as a magic user, starting around 2nd level, was mix it up in combat. If the party is facing down low level humanoids - jump in with a dagger or staff and put the wizardly smack down. Especially if your hit point rolls were decent. Any damage that you take saves the fighters and clerics from taking it, but you should know when to run away (basically after you are hit once). My technique was to use a sling for a while but then jump in there with the staff or dagger toward the end of a fight as the PC's are already starting to win. You might get hit once but maybe you will get to knock out an enemy without magic!
Finally, know and explore the battlefield. While the rest of your party is hip deep in goblins, take a look around - are there more sneaking up from behind? Also, look for ways to use dungeon dressings to your advantage. You can throw torches and oil, flip over tables and hide behind them, push chairs in front of doors, block alternate portals to the room you are in, look out the windows of the castle, etc... Anything to give your party an edge later on.
Anyway, the guys at RFI talked about a variety of other techniques so check out their 1st edition podcast, it is pretty damn cool if you have a long drive to work like me.