I have a question about Jacob Randolph’s Mage class.

I have a question about Jacob Randolph’s Mage class.

I have a question about Jacob Randolph’s Mage class.  It’s very cool and I have a player who wants to switch to the Mage, but I have no idea how a Mage deals damage using magic.  The Black Magic move does 1d8, but otherwise spellcasting specifically states that magic may not be used to inflict direct damage.  How does this square with such Elemental Foci as The Dragon which features Burn with Fire and Passion and Reckless Destruction?  How do you adjudicate damage?  Thanks.

17 thoughts on “I have a question about Jacob Randolph’s Mage class.”

  1. If the Mage does something clever, and damage seems to follow from the fiction, go ahead and deal damage as the fiction dictates. As long as the player isn’t trying to DIRECTLY deal damage, you should be okay there. There are no rules against indirect damage dealing.

    But pay attention to the trigger on Cast a Spell move: “When you weave a spell to solve a problem…”. The Mage can’t blast through things because, in the fiction, that’s just not how most magic works. The Mage is trying to solve problems, and even on a 10+, there’s a condition. Emphasize to your player that the Mage is about creative use of magic and solving problems, not being a blaster. If you need to, let the player read the description in the PDF where it says that magic is not absolute, that it can’t do everything. Remember during play to ask the player what problem they are solving if they propose to cast a spell. If it involves direct damage, they are simply unable to trigger the move, because, well… Magic!

  2. Okay, so the Mage can only deal indirect damage, but surely he can use his magic, albeit indirectly, to deal more than a d4 damage, right?  Say he has the focus The Dragon and uses his “Wanton Destruction” focus to collapse a roof, is that permissible and if so, would you just adjudicate the damage on the fly based on the fiction?

  3. If you want to play it fast and loose, you can do that! You just need to use that set of expectations with ALL the players and be up front about it. Once you start handing out extra damage outside the rules, then you’ll end up having to adjudicate that sort of stuff all the time- the fighter can collapse the ceiling too!

    My personal take: I’d keep it to 1d4 – the Mage isn’t about dealing damage. There are plenty of other classes that are about dealing damage. The Mage creates solutions that mostly work – the Mage’s moves make him or her a facilitator. Even on a 10+, there is a drawback. This plays into the fiction. The Dragon Mage burns the orc’s armor – it doesn’t kill it, it makes the orc take the armor off or jump in the lake, or distracts the orc long enough for a follow up move. It’s not about killing the orc, it’s about solving a problem.

    But that’s me. You can play it however you’d like – just be upfront with the players, make sure you’re not favoring any one player, and have fun with it.

  4. David: collapsing a roof sounds exactly like indirect damage to me. I think when my barbarian had a house collapse around her, it was about a d10 in damage. Not to mention the fact I was buried under a house….

  5. Don’t most folks handle things like indirect damage caused by a character means use the class’ default damage die? Throwing a rock? Class damage. Hack and Slash? Class damage! Pulling down support beams that cause the roof to fall on your enemy? Class damage!!

    If he is not intentionally attacking the roof to make it cave in, that isn’t really black magic is it? He just facilitated the roof collapse.

  6. I would argue that collapsing a roof on some guys just to deal damage to them is still “dealing damage directly” which The Mage is not supposed to do. Just because the damage is not “magic beams of force” or something, doesn’t mean you aren’t still doing exactly what the rule says you cannot do with magic. Black Magic is for dealing damage, the regular magic move is for utility. Unless you want your mage character running around collapsing whole towns on people while the rest of your party is just his cheerleading squad.

  7. I think when you decide to allow that utility to seed damage possibilities, the Mage will have no equal in the party. There would be no limit to stuff (s)he could do to “cause damage” indirectly. Cool for a solo player game maybe, but seems very out of place in a group. Not to mention it seems at odds with the character concept. Then again, to each their own ^_-

  8. David Benson  I have had this come up recently during character creation, as I had a player interested in playing The Mage.

    I think in order to have The Mage in your game, you need to have a serious discussion about power scope with your players. By that I mean, you need to discuss with them what you all want to be appropriate for them. So for example, do you want the fighter to be able to block an Ogre slamming a tree-sized club down on him? Do you want the fighter to be able to take on an entire army? Or are do even small skirmishes have the chance to be deadly? Basically, decide together what tone you want. Do you want the players to be regular guys, batman, superman, or somewhere in between? DW can let you do all those types of games depending on how you use the fiction, but I think it comes down to what kind of tone you ultimately want your campaign to have. People are used to having wizards/magic be able to do crazy stuff in fiction, but if you have that in your game you need to let the non magical characters do some really crazy stuff too or they are going to feel like sidekicks to The Mage. If The Mage can turn into a REAL dragon the size of a house, you should probably let the Fighter cut down a few guys every time he acts, or punch out a Titan with his mailed fist, or something else nuts. 

    So talk with your players, ask them if they want the game to be more like Cook’s “The Black Company” or closer to something like Exalted RPG in power level. Batman or Superman, or somewhere between?

    Personally, I think DW fits in tone more with a lower power level (the equivalent of about 5th level in DnD perhaps?) Ultimately one of my players decided to play The Wizard instead, because we could not agree on power scope and he didn’t like the idea of me screwing with the Mage even when he successfully cast a spell on a 10+ (Mage has to pick a drawback even then!).

  9. Thanks Mike Wice, that’s the discussion I’m having with the player who wants the Mage now.  His primary question concerned the amount of damage he could do with his spells.  When I told him he could do NO damage with non-Black Magic spells, he was a little hesitant to proceed, but ultimately decided that the Mage would be an excellent challenge to his creativity and imagination.  I agree and look forward to seeing how it works out.

  10. Mike Wice I had not considered talking about tone with my players. I find your advice to be essential for a GM starting a new game. Thank you very much. You’ve made my day =D

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