So the book says something to the effect that “other people may call themselves a wizard, but you are only ‘real’…

So the book says something to the effect that “other people may call themselves a wizard, but you are only ‘real’…

So the book says something to the effect that “other people may call themselves a wizard, but you are only ‘real’ wizard”.

I’ve seen it written that the PCs are truly unique and that there is only one fighter, only one paladin, etc, etc.

My question is why?

What’s the benefit of there being only 1 Ranger in the world?

What would be so terrible about an NPC cleric?

Especially when the fiction would dictate there be more. A wizards guild. A Paladins Order. A Thieves Syndicate. You get the idea.

Or is all this really supposed to mean that there should only be one example of a given player-character class at the game table at one time?


38 thoughts on “So the book says something to the effect that “other people may call themselves a wizard, but you are only ‘real’…”

  1. I read it as the PCs being archetypes, ie we play through the career of the ultimate Fighter, Wizard, Thief etc.

    Just as Conan is The Barbarian, against whom all others are merely imitations.

  2. I think it is your last point about having a mixed group, but only partially. I think it was the designers’ way of trying to emphasize the “epic” nature of the PCs. Sure, the PC fighter will encounter other fighters in their travels, but the PC will always be the exemplar fighter whereas the others will be mere mirrors of them, etc.

    Personally, I’m going in a different direction with DW and trying to push my table to be more about the PCs being awesome, but not THE awesome. So I’ve always found that particular part of the DW fiction a little weird. To be fair, it’s straight from Apocalypse World which says basically the same thing.

  3. I certainly agree that the PCs should be heroic if not epic in their own way, but it’s a bit of a roadblock when one of my players chooses to embrace the path of Paladinhood, but I have no example of a NPC Paladin to train and guide them. Same goes for my player who is a wizard. Part of his character concept is rooted in the fact that he betrayed his master when he was an apprentice, but the Hedge Wizard in the book doesn’t fit his notion of just how powerful his master was.

    I get that I am certainly free to do as my players and I please, but I still find the notion of 1 wizard in all the world a bit odd.

  4. I never took it as a literal, it’s not “there’s only one wizard” but “there’s only one Wizard and the rest are wizards” (noting the capitals).

    One of the things I like about DW is that, assuming your players accept it, beyond armour/damage/hp you don’t need any rules or prep for NPCs. Make an NPC do something and leave it as a mystery that they can but the PCs can’t. Might even start them off on a quest to be able to.

    If you think his master should be able to project a fifty-foot tall image of himself across a 1000 leagues and rain down lighting and burning hail, do it.

  5. Ari Black ah, I wondered if it was a carry over of AW.

    It’s funny, because none of my players have ever been interested in playing uber-types. In fact, they all seem to gravitate more to the flawed misfit archetype.

  6. AJ Ferguson That’s half my players and the kind of world I like to run, so I get where you’re coming from. 

    I suggest you ask your wizard how powerful his master was. Maybe he could tell a story about it around the campfire to express his dread of ever being found and then you can extemporize on the themes.

    This all comes down to what kind of person his master is. Is master a villain, an antagonist, or just unfinished business. Scale the power based on the narrative need.

  7. Ari Black, to be honest, the notion that a given PC is THE benchmark for a given class was the first thing we collectively dismissed.

    In my world, you bet you butt there are tons of wizards, some of them more powerful than the one being controlled by my player.

    The player in question has decided his master was very powerful indeed, but he made it clear to me that he didn’t want his character to exactly how powerful. He wants his character to have a healthy fear of the old man.

    That is what’s great about DW. Under DnD, I could say his master was 10th level wizard and everyone at the table sort knew what that meant in terms of a challenge.

    Under DW, there’s a lot more mystery!

  8. AJ Ferguson Seems like he’s given you the go ahead to create a truly terrifying nemesis in this old master. You just need to figure out what kind of person they are as that will determine how they use their power.

    A, somewhat, related example. I have some healers in my group but resurrection isn’t really in their domain right now. I wanted some downed PCs to be resurrected on the spot and there was an NPC with them that I wanted to have healing abilities. It took me a while to integrate that I didn’t have to have a sheet or any real explanation for how and why she could do it, but I had her resurrect them with the consequence of large gashes breaking open across her arms and face. This was obviously unpleasant but she wasn’t surprised by it happening and I just let the mystery hang. If they want to look into it more deeply, they can, if they want to let it lie, they can do that too.

  9. Can you provide a page # for that quote? Because while I remember it, I can’t find it, and I feel like the exact wording is probably extremely relevant to the intent.

    That said, my recollection is that the point isn’t that there are no other “wizards” – that’s actually contradicted repeatedly in the book.  The point is that you shouldn’t expect any other wizards to operate like you do.   Maybe they need to prepare spells from a spellbook, maybe they don’t, etc.  There can totally BE a Wizards’ College, or an Order of Paladins or whatever.  Just don’t expect them to have all the same abilities and operate the same way as a PC.

  10. Perhaps we’re all reading too much into it?

    I wonder if the answer isn’t more mundane: that NPCs are nothing like PCs mechanically, so a newbie GM doesn’t pull out the Wizard character sheet when the PCs encounter an NPC who casts spells.

  11. When we tell a story, we leave most of the bits out.  Nobody knows about the soldier who tore a ligament during training and never made it to the battle to win the glories.  We rarely see the bathroom breaks.

    We follow the stories of those particular characters who either lived epic lives, or should have led epic lives before tragedy cut them short.  And we jump from one epic moment to the next.  DW isn’t about hours spent searching empty rooms, hoping for treasure.  it’s about bursting into the treasure room, and trying to make it back out alive and with the goods.

    What made these people more epic than those around them?  Their Playbook outlines why they stand apart from the crowd.  Not necessarily above, but clearly apart.  We give them Niche Protection so that they don’t get lost in a jumble of look alike clones, stealing their thunder.

    Sure, there are other wizards who cast spells and muck about with demons.  But we look at The Wizard and ask “what does it look like when you cast the spell your way?”  Then we find other ways to express other magic users.

  12. Sage LaTorra Sage input, thank you for the clarification. Also, apologies for the pun, I’ve desperately wanted to make one since I bought my copy of DW.

  13. 100% agree with Michael Barry here. The phrasing in the rules maybe leans too heavily on the ethos of “Be a fan of the characters,” but the crux is important and mechanical: A PC based on the Wizard playbook is “the” Wizard (technically).

    Those other “Wizards” are relatively simple NPCs and just make monster moves. They don’t have full-blown spellbooks, the GM doesn’t roll for “Cast a Spell” when they decide to chuck a fireball at the party, and that fireball doesn’t do “fireball damage” that is above/beyond the NPCs normal damage dice, etc. As such, they aren’t “the Wizard” in any mechanical sense. (And they aren’t NPCs in the D&D sense.)

  14. Michael Greene That’s an interesting point you’ve made. Does that mean that AJ Ferguson’s old master wizard does d4 damage no matter what spell they use?

  15. Ari Black It does whatever his stat block says he does, plus any monster move you feel like invoking, like say, “Unleash arcane hell”, or “Cast a spell of unparalleled destructive might.” 

    If you want the old master wizard’s basic spell damage to be a d8 or d10, you just define his stats that way, because he’s not a PC wizard, he doesn’t use any of those rules.

  16. I’ve always thought to explain it as, “There are only 8 to a dozen of people with your skills. The ones you know about with any certainty, you can count with one hand.”

  17. Brian Farmer Okay, what I was really commenting on was the use of only one type of die. Is there any reason why there couldn’t be more than one?

  18. Ari Black Technically, you can tell the player to roll whatever die you feel like, but it’s probably better accomplished by sticking to a single die and letting the fiction and knock-on effects handle everything else.

  19. Ari Black, I think it’s just for efficiency. There’s no reason you can’t elaborate, but in most cases a single damage die defines the monster’s attack regardless of the narrative fluff: fireball, lightning storm, shower of elfin poo, whatever.

  20. Ari Black the die you have the player roll for damage against their character is among the least interesting aspects of a Hard Move!

    Rather than introducing complexity by changing the die per attack, consider using your moves to push them into interesting, challenging places.

  21. It would be interesting to tie different damage dice to individual monster moves… well, it might be interesting. DW doesn’t have combat rounds, so you can’t really have a power-house attack that is restricted to 1 per X rounds, but one could do one that was once /battle or /day. It just doesn’t feel Dungeon World to me though.

  22. Michael Greene No, it doesn’t. However! DW does have the concept of different dice for different “levels” of damage based on narrative circumstance (p. 21) which could be applied to different NPC moves…

  23. Yes indeed. Although I’ve tended to refer to circumstantial damage guidelines when a player’s move goes south, with a result that doesn’t have explicit damage defined in the rules.

    On the other hand, if Mr Owlbear bites me, claws me, gives me an enthusiastic owlbear hug, throws me A. down some stairs B. up against a tree, sits on my head, or rolls over me in its sleep… GM is probably just going to have me roll “owlbear damage” and that’s cool too.

  24. Sage LaTorra, forgive me if I sound like I’m not the sharpest crayon in the box, but when you say that NPCs don’t use the PC classes do you mean that there can in fact be NPC wizards, but they just need to be written up in the same fashion as monsters or folk of the realm? Like instead of having a spell book like a PC, they might just have a move like “evoke magic from an ancient tome”?

    Am I reading it right?

  25. AJ Ferguson Yes, that’s correct. There may be many NPC wizards, but only one PC Wizard. NPCs are always statted up like monsters, even if they and a PC have a similar set of fictional powers. PCs are special, and have special narrative effects on the world and other characters. Stat up the other paladins, wizards, druids, etc. like you would any other monsters, per the guidelines on page 225 of the rulebook.

    To clarify, this does NOT necessarily mean that the players are the best in the world at what they do–that’s up to your group to decide.

  26. i suppose that’s the way we’ve been handling it anyway. And I suppose my folly was to take a more literal interpretation of the notion that there is “only ONE wizard” as opposed to the spirit of the statement.

    Thanks, all.

  27. I’ve always viewed it as an easy explanation as to why the world continues to function.  There’s aren’t huge amounts of magic interfering with world economics and ecology.  There aren’t armies of uber-warriors devestating continents.  The average person is fairly confident that there is a point to locking their doors and keeping their valuables into a safe.

  28. We’ve also used it to mean, “if another player decides to play a Druid, her abilities don’t have to work the same way as they did for the guy who dropped out of the game last month.”

  29. I told my players just the same thing in the beginning of our D&D5 Campaign. “The rules in the PHB are for the cool things your characters can do, the rest of the world is built differently.”

  30. The one and only Wizard thing seems to be not written in the rules. Under classes it says everyone picks a different class, but replacement characters can duplicate existing classes.

    AW definitely has that line about the one and only, I totally thought DW did too, but I can’t find it as I review the book.

Comments are closed.