For someone who writes about wizards often, I didn't play them much in my youth. I didn't play them at all. As a dedicated AD&D player I saw the mathematical weaknesses inherent in the wizard class and decided it was not for me. I avoided most spellcasting classes, to be honest. When I got a bit older and got my hands on Warhammer Quest from Games Workshop I did not immediately run to the Wizard, but I did come to appreciate the character. Compared to the standard D&D wizard the WHQ Wizard is a completely different type of hero.
|Fig 2. The Wizard|
1. He carries a sword. Is that so important? Is a sword such a big deal? Not in and of itself, especially in Warhammer where any single hand weapon is, effectively, the same damage. What is a big deal is that he carries a sword and knows how to use it. He won't ever be as good with his hand weapons as the more martial warriors like the Dwarf or Barbarian but he is not completely ineffectual and he has normal human strength. Again in Warhammer this means his strength is on par with other men and elves, none of that percentile strength and sharp change in bonuses for minor differences. Like wizards in RPGs everywhere, he does suffer from less life points and no armor, but he does not have a major melee handicap to go with it.
2. The Winds of Magic. Magic in Warhammer works completely different than in AD&D. Rather than memorizing a set of spells out of a spellbook and losing them as he casts them, the WHQ Wizard must deal with the source of magic in Warhammer, the Winds of Magic, which are not actual winds but are aetheric magical energy, come from the Realm of Chaos and move about the world. The wizards feel the fluctuating ebb and flow of these "winds" and use them to power their spells. When the power is slack the Wizard cannot use the more powerful spells at his command unless he chooses to tap into his personal store of power, but that does not return so easily. These winds can give the wizard vast amounts of power one turn and leave him bereft of all power the next, such is their chaotic nature. In practical terms the Wizard can cast as many spells as he wants, as long as he has the power and the Winds provide the power.
3. He looks damn cool.
4. He can dual wield a hand weapon and a staff. Figure 2 and the close up above both show this, but within the game itself a Wizard can acquire a Wizard's Staff which not only acts as armor, it can be used to make attacks while still using his trusty sword or some other weapon.
5. He is not a rear echelon character. Down in the dungeons or on the field of battle, wizards are warriors. While not as ferocious in melee as the Barbarian or plate clad Knights, Wizards are fountains of legendary and frightening power, feared and respected for the reality warping spells at their command. As you can see from the art, this guy is in the fight, right beside the roid-raging Barbarian, ready to face any challenge that comes.
6. He pisses on the colleges of magic. Only the ancient and mysterious elves can use magic in its pure form. Humans break magic down into a component and study the lore of that one component. There are eight in all and the Empire sanctions this with its colleges. The Empire Battle Wizards are all specialists in their field or lore and bring that knowledge to the battlefield in narrow lists of powerful spells. Not this guy. This guy is an Adventuring Wizard. He knows the value of practical spells that can save your life in a dungeon adventure, and so he spends little time among the collegiate wizards and tends to be more eclectic in his spell knowledge at the expense of specialized power.
"The Wizards of the Colleges of Magic often look down upon these Warrior-wizards,
declaring that they haven't the ability or concentration to devote
themselves to one aspect of the magical spectrum and master it completely.
They accuse them of being parlour charlatans who pick a little of this and a
little of that. Nothing, however, could be further from the truth.
A Warrior-wizard must embrace the whole magical spectrum, bending it to
his purpose as the need arises. He does not turn his back on any part of it. but
learns to live with the whole. He sees magic in everything he does and
everything he meets, and must have the exact spell to hand that the Warriors
need to turn the situation in their favour. In this respect, Warrior-wizards are
closer to the High Mages of the High Elves than the College-led Wizards of
7. He can carry a gun. In the equipment lists, at the Gunsmith shop, the Wizard can purchase a brace of pistols, blackpower and shot to take on adventures. Hitting with the damage of sword (more than any bow or crossbow) and coming in pairs, the pistols are a great way to clear a path through the lesser monsters of the dungeon without having to get up close and personal. If he likes, and has the gold, he can purchase a musket as well, which hits even harder and can kill monsters in a domino effect should they be stupid enough to form into a conga line of death.
He can carry a gun. That trumps Magic Missile any day of the week.
8. He's a bit of a Gandalf. Well, I mean, look at him. It's more than that, however. Gandalf was the sort of wizard that didn't rely on his magic to solve his problems, but when he did use magic, it was always at the right time and for good effect. WHQ's Wizard, when played properly, is like that. A staff to the face of a goblin, a sword thrust into the groin of a skaven; these things are effective tools and don't require the expenditure of precious magical power. As I stated before, he's no slouch in the groin stabbing, face smashing department, but he'll never be Aragorn, thrashing a half dozen orcs in one attack. He does improve nicely during play, however. Like Gandalf the other warriors gather around him and protect him because they will need his magical power when they face a threat that swords simply cannot harm.
9. Magic in Warhammer is inherently dangerous, but varied and tactical. Unlike D&D, this Wizard can heal his comrades. Many RPGs do not allow wizards to heal, saving that magic for the Cleric types, and yet Clerics have gotten more and more damaging spells over the years. Is that fair? Hell no, it's not fair. In Warhammer magic is not so rigidly defined and the Wizard may start with only 3 spells in his bag of tricks, but he can cast them as much as he wants, anytime during a turn (not just on his turn) as long as he has the power to do so. Of course a lack of power (see 10, below) can be disastrous, but with a personal store of power points and a good solid roll for power the Wizard could cast a Heal on the Barbarian who has just gone down with a bleeding head wound, erect a magical Shield in front of the Elf and still send a ball of screaming flaming death down the corridor to strike the Minotaur in his furry ballsack. And then smack that pesky goblin in the head with his sword. And that's a neophyte Wizard. Let him get some levels under his belt and you will see a tactical, versatile warrior that can hold his own against most monsters (as long as he is not surrounded) and brings a variety of practical magic into the adventure. He might also call doom down on the heads of the party...
10. Wizard rolls a 1! In the game itself every turn begins with the Power Phase where the Wizard player rolls 1d6 to determine his power for that phase. Yes, he has a personal store of power should he get a poor roll like a 2 or 3, but things really get exciting when he rolls a 1. Not only is he SOL for power that turn, but an unexpected event comes with it. Nothing gets the action going like a string of 1s leading to a conga line of monsters waiting in the corridor outside the room to file in and kill the whole party before the adventure has even gotten going. Does that, properly speaking, kick ass? Well, no, but it is funny as hell once everyone has gotten over being pissed.
Ten good reasons, I think, why the WHQ Wizard kicks ass among all the other wizards available for play in RPGs, and that especially includes the 5e D&D bastards.
|Fig 4: The Awesomeness|