Would like help with a bored Wizard…
I’m new to Dungeon World — I ran a couple of sessions over the weekend. One of the PC was a Wizard and had a lot of difficulty during combat. Level 1 Wizards traditionally are pretty weak, but this was frustrating. I couldn’t tell if it was my fault as DM, or the PC was just not into the game, or not being creative enough with their skills/spells. The other players seemed to really enjoy the game. To keep the game remotely interesting to him, I ended up letting him use his rituals rather liberally (e.g. making them easier to do, faster, more powerful than I would like)… seemed to work, though I wish it didn’t have to be that way. Any tips for the future?
32 thoughts on “Would like help with a bored Wizard…”
What spells did he start with?
With Dungeon World (as with many other things) you’re going to get out exactly what you put in. Any chance you can provide more details on what the Wizard player did/said, especially compared to the other players?
We need more details but the Wizard might be the most powerful class right out of the gate apart from the Druid. Can you tell us about a ritual you felt was invoked too liberally?
If a character doesn’t enjoy Spouting Lore they might not want to take the Wizard, and if the GM isn’t having the complexion of a situation/encounter change when those Lore rolls are a 10 plus, there might be something off there – I’ve seen that.
The Wizard was a human. He started off with Contact Spirits, Detect Magic, and Telepathy… not exactly great for combat. Not only that, but he rolled horribly the whole game… so that was part of it. The other part was that he kept running away because he wanted to play somewhat of a coward — an interesting idea, but really hard to GM when you have 5 other players to consider.
Eventually, we switched his character around a little so that he wasn’t a coward and more of a magic-addict who used it at every turn he could, especially inopportune times. This is where he started to use a lot of Rituals — because I wanted him to have a good time, I said that the “world” is magical and he could use the energy to do a ritual whenever he wanted (yes, I know, I was desperate not to have a bored guy at the table). He’d ask to do things like have a hole open up in the ground and swallow an enemy. I’d tell him he could do it, give him the requirements (which often involved defying danger in some way) and some kind of weird penalty. The problem is, he would often ask for really outlandish (though funny) things, and I’d slap on some ridiculous time requirement… and he’d say “okay” — and then his character would be essentially out of action for a good chunk of time while he did his ritual.
Anyway, even as I type this, I can think of ways to spice it up for him a little, but just wanted to get other people’s impression and thoughts.
Matthew Gagan my players didn’t really spout lore that often. But now that you mention it, I can totally see how it would be useful to a Wizard.
Wow. I would kill for always on ritual.
I’ll keep myself from criticizing the player, but you should really put him in situations that emphasize his spells; if he chose telepathy, detect magic and contact spirits, then you make moves that may call for those spells.
It’s kind of a given that one of your spells should be magic missile though. Telepathy is pretty useless in a first game as well, unless you deliberately seperate him from the group in a maze or something.
I wasn’t stoked to wait for higher level spells with my wizard either which is why I made my magic duelist class and ported him over.
My players and I thought the Wizard’s regular spellcasting move to be unplayable, especially since there’s the possibility of losing access to your spells and the -1 ongoing penalty. And that’s on a 7-9. I’m probably not giving the class a good chance, since my group decided that Vancian magic pretty much doesn’t work well in DW. We haven’t tried a ritualist-type of Wizard though.
Yeah vancian magic is based on the premise that you can put 10 enemies to sleep with a level 1 spell.
I’ve really gotta disagree, Pieter Louw . There are no spells a player “should” take or spells that are useless. There are simply spells that are more or less useful in different situations.
The player taking the spells they did is a flag to the GM that they are not interested in combat. As Alessandro Gianni said, part of your duty as GM, Michael Olson, is to give your players the opportunity to be awesome. If a player sends up flags about them being interested in something, part of the burden falls on the GM to give them opportunities to pursue that thing. Not the entire burden, mind. Some of the burden also fall on the player to be creative.
I have a question for Michael, though. Did the player in question actually state or show signs of being bored? Your story (which may have been edited for length) seems to say that you felt/worried that the player was bored. But they may not have been.
Pieter Louw, now that makes more sense then. Maybe I missed something on the character, but I always assumed each spell had only one target. 😛
When thinking about magic missile, remember that you can do why more damage with an invisible fighter.
Also, when you are a toolkit Wizard with
Contact Spirits, Detect Magic, and Telepathy
that is a pretty strong flag they want magical mysteries and heists. Not just monster killing.
As others have said, based on his choose of initial spells, the player was aiming for his wizard to do non-combaty things. If your plan was for a combat heavy session, you’ll need to fiddle around with your plan to accommodate (at least a little) the non-combatant. He needs a Scooby-Doo style mystery to solve, perhaps (even though everyone tends to hate splitting the party) encourage the wizard to sidestep the combat while the brute squad deals with it and work towards figuring out that the Black Knight is actually Mr. Wickles in disguise or learning what his fatal weakness is. Just remember to give him his share of spotlight-time.
Maria Rivera sorry, I was referring to the 80’s DnD wizard on that sleep spell comment. Basically the risk of losing spells has been present in the Vancian system because the first Wizard class was hella OP.
Ah, ok. Still, the spell itself would have to remain powerful in order to justify the loss, in my opinion.
I am playing a Wizard with Magic Missile and Fireball… I have a lot of fun during the game (and probably killed more opponents than our Fighter and Barbarian in the last game).
Christopher Stone-Bush per your question, sadly the player did exhibit signs of frustration. That’s why we ended up changing his character. I think part of it was because he was rolling so terribly. However, I think another part of it was that he wanted to different type of game than the other five players.
I guess I need to find a way to accommodate his playing style with everyone else, which is a bit tricky but it’s a fun challenge nonetheless.
John Desmarais do you have any tips on running a mystery style game in dungeon world? To be honest, it’s been a very long time since I’ve played tabletop RPG games, and I’m just getting back into them. So I’ve never really done a mystery. I would love any suggestions!
It seems like an interesting challenge especially for dungeon world, where the GM is not supposed to know a lot of detail because everyone is making it up together to “see what happens”.
So he missed a lot of rolls, and you made moves considered boring by him. Could you give us some examples about moves you made that had the player feel bored?
Your player might prefer using the Mage from the DW alternative playbooks: http://rpg.drivethrustuff.com/product/108623/Dungeon-World-Alternative-Playbooks?term=dungeon+world+alt&filters=0_0_44825_0_0
The Mage’s magic is much more free-form, but still limited in scope in a way that Ritual isn’t.
I would start with NOT running a mystery game, but instead look for the mysteries in the game you are running. There is a tendency (particularly for players) in RPGs to focus very heavily on Who?, What?, When?, and Where? – but skimp on the Why?. The Why? is your mystery. (In the players defense, a lot of GMs put less thought into Why? than Who?, What?, Where?, and When? as well).
The goblin horde is invading the village. Why? If the heroes can learn why, maybe you can stop the invasion before it happen instead of trying to kill 381.7 goblins.
The evil lich Drazhu has enslaved the heroes (and many others) to dig tunnels. Why? (Just to expand his lair? Not enough.) Why does he need to expand his lair? Why does he need to complete his “Great Working”? All of this sounds like Drazhu has a great enemy. Some who learns this may be able to enlist the enemy’s aid.
The Octopus Folk magically summoned a storm to drive the Relentless aground near the tiny fishing village of Codcliffe. They did this so they could capture the notorious marauder Hobart. The mystery (and John Aegard did a nice job defining this and baking it into the plot for the adventure) lies in the real reason the Octopus Folk want to sacrifice Hobart. Learning the purpose of this ritual sacrifice potentially changes the entire motivation for the heroes and the villains.
Now, if you really want to run an actual mystery scenario, this is gong to sound silly – but it’s worked for me many times: steal the plots of Scooby-Doo episodes, file off the names, and re-skin for your setting and genre.
(Sorry about the wall of words. Once I got started writing this nonsense it became fun)
Dungeon World is also not a good system to run “a mystery game” with.
Alessandro Gianni offhand, I can’t think of any moves in particular that he found a boring, but it was a lot of combat and it didn’t seem like he was interested like the other players.
John Desmarais stealing Scooby Doo plots is absolutely brilliant!
Thanks everyone for your helpful input! This is my first time posting here and I feel very welcome!
Michael Olson Don’t sweat it too much though, just be aware of how your players are feeling. Your improv skills will improve just as with any other form of oral presentation. What I find with Wizard/Mage players is that they generally favor their intellect. So when you say “the demon strikes and knocks the the warrior for d10 damage, you might throw in a “wizard, you sense that you have seen this demon before… perhaps in a dream? Spout lore for the weak spot.” So the next time the wizard will know to spout lore in such a situation. Basically tutorialising as needed, straddling the line between hinting and shoehorning 😛
Pieter Louw Thanks for the encouragement! Do your players use “Spout Lore” often? I don’t think any of mine did during the entire weekend and I guess I didn’t really prompt them. Still learning, I guess. 🙂
Ideally, Spout Lore is something the players think to do – but go ahead an lead them into it a little if you need.
I would like just to add that if you’re fighting, then you’re fighting for something worthy, not just for killing monsters. And once you know your goal, you may use your non-combat spells to achieve that something, while the others do the dirty work!
Michael Olson Sometimes we do. Mostly when feeling lost or facing a puzzle chamber or strange/formidable enemy.
I’ve GMed a Mage before. So fun! There was never a full moment. I really recommend he try playing the Mage.. And bonus is that it’s free to try. 🙂
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