All right then: I have some concerns about the Mage playbook (linked below). I like the basic idea, but I have a couple of problems with it. If I’m wrong about this, I’d like to know. If I’m right, I assume others will want to know.
I like the idea of a spellcaster who’s not tied to a spell list. And the basic “cast a spell” move is quite good, I think. My trouble is twofold: with the basic black magic (damaging magic) move, and with the Battle Mage and War Mage advanced moves.
First problem: When a mage uses the “Cast a Spell” move, there’s a price to be paid even on a 10+. This is a key part of the how the class is designed, it seems: you gain a lot of versatility, but casting a spell always brings complications. However, when you do Black Magic, to do damage with your spell (1d8 damage, no less), a 10+ carries no limit, and the 7-9 limits are a little less interesting than the full list on “cast a spell.”
This means that it is EASIER to use damaging magic than regular magic. It also means that there’s basically no situation where a Mage would use a melee weapon instead of a spell.
Second problem: Black Magic gets even more overpowering with the Battle Mage and War Mage advanced moves. In general these give you devastating attack magic that can fit most any situation, and I think that’s still problematic. But worse is that each includes a variation of the Messy tag that increases damage. (For a War Mage, choosing this tag gives you a base damage of 2d8.) Again, there’s little to no restriction on using this magic, so there’s no reason ever not to use it.
Which means a level 6 Mage has attack power well out of proportion with any other class, as far as I can see–and super-versatile attack power, at that. And generally speaking, DW doesn’t really level up your damage that way. (Sure, some Wizard spells do more damage, but they have more inherent limits built in.)
So I’m worried that these flaws make the class unbalanced. Again, if I’m wrong, or if people have figured out good solutions to this, I’d like to hear it. If I’m right, maybe the creator will want to address these concerns.