Is it ever a good idea to take away the Wizard’s primary combat spell?

Is it ever a good idea to take away the Wizard’s primary combat spell?

Is it ever a good idea to take away the Wizard’s primary combat spell?

In the second (and final session) last night with the 8, 11, and 12 y/o, the 8 y/o playing the wizard had a run of bad luck. On his 6- I had his rainbow colored (he’s got a regenerating lolipop topped staff) magic missile blast a skeleton to pieces, but then have a strange interaction with the dark magic animating the skeleton and blast back to his wizard, causing damage and causing him to glow brightly with rainbow colors, making him the biggest target in the room.

He wanted to keep blasting skeletons and on his next 7-9 I told him that he was weakening and would take a -1 going forward on magic missile. On his next 7-9 I was out of ideas and it felt fair to tell him that the words for magic missile had faded from his mind.

This led to some excitement as he was surrounded by skeletons now and his druid friend had to swoop down and crush them in his giant bird form. There were still skeletons to fight though and I could tell the player of the wizard was getting frustrated. I had already warned him that fighting the skeletons with his staff would probably get him killed (true fictionally and mechanically) and he didn’t have any other spells that would help out in this battle.

I quickly recovered and told him that he could roll +INT to try to use the magic of one of his remaining spells to remember magic missile. He rolled a 13, so it was very exciting to narrate that he pulled in the rainbow light show emanating from his body and used that to recharge magic missile without forgetting any other spells. And like that he was back in the action, helping blast a few more skeletons as the druid stomped a bunch to pieces in wooly mammoth form and the halfling thief made the ultimate sacrifice by throwing a dagger into the evil priest, stopping his dark ritual, but taking a death spell to the heart (last breath followed – he was offered the choice to come back and did).

All in all I love the way it turned out, but would have felt terrible not giving the wizard some way to get back in the action and wonder if forgetting your main (and only) combat spell is ever the right price to pay for a low roll…

5 thoughts on “Is it ever a good idea to take away the Wizard’s primary combat spell?”

  1. Don’t pull punches with hard moves, your players will thank you in the long run. Besides, how else is a GM supposed to build up a collection of character sheets stamped “DECEASED” ?

  2. It’s okay — after all there’s nothing that says the Wizard has to have a damaging spell to begin with — but I’d only do it as part of the initial 6-. Class moves are a major way that the player /PC imposes his will on the narrative, so stepping over the line to make his 7-9 choices for him is a bit of a misstep in my book.

    It sounds like a tricky situation since the kid was clearly gung-ho about shooting lasers at every skeleton in the room. But that also makes it the perfect time to suggest he start Discerning Realities and doing non-spellcasting things to change the flow of the fight and help out his allies. After all, why Magic Missile a skeleton if you can cut the line to the chandelier and crush a dozen of them instead?

  3. I’m with Marty: I think it’s OK, and I think you shouldn’t be making choices for the player on a 7-9 for cast a spell.  On a pure miss, yeah, make as hard a move as the fiction calls for.  Maybe that means he loses the spell (use up their resources); maybe it means he’s glowing rainbows and can cast the spell just one more time (tell the consequences & ask). 

    But on a 7-9 for cast a spell, the rules are very clear: it’s the player’s choice whether he loses the spell or not. 

  4. Doh! Good point. It appears that although I was mostly running DW with the questions and answers approach (what do you do?), I slipped back into my D&D roots with the 7-9 spell misfires, reading them as my soft moves rather than the player choosing a consequence. Looking over “Cast a Spell” again, it appears the player could keep choosing to put themselves in a bind instead of taking the -1 or losing the spell. In this case the Wizard might have chosen to get cut to ribbons as long as he didn’t lose his precious magic missile.

  5. I think I’ll make a follow up post to the forum about how it’s a bit jarring to jump to engaging the player on a 7-9 when normally I’m engaging with the Wizard.

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