10 Reasons to Play a First Level Wizard (Part 3)  

Posted by Michael Donaldson in , ,

In Dungeons and Dragons 3.x, the wizard is lauded as one of the most powerful classes in the game. Examples of their power include the 2d6-per-caster level "Disintegrate", the ominously breakable "Polymorph", and the easily metamagiced "Enervation" - all of which come from the core rulebook. As a player, however, I have noticed that the core spells at the early levels leave something to be desired - a wizard will fire off his three magic missiles and then resort to being a flimsy, unskilled crossbowman.

Scouring my sourcebooks, I embarked on a journey to find 1st level spells for our fledgling facemelter. After all, we wouldn't want the player to get bored before you start having to worry about him completely upsetting the game balance in a single turn.

This is Part 3 of 3.

NUMBER FOUR - Blockade (Complete Scoundrel p.95)

When we think about the spells that are the most useful for a first level wizard, we have to remember that damage is something that you're rarely going to outperform the barbarian in. At best, you can deal interesting damage types. Where the wizard comes into his own is the utility, and at first level, one of the best things that you can do is keep yourself out of danger.

Blockade summons a 5' solid block of wood that weighs 2000 pounds, has a hardness 5 and 600 hitpoints. This is simultaneously difficult for EL 1 enemy groups to in any way negate, and it comes at a completely economic cost - a single swift action. This is what makes blockade such an amazing spell. But wait, there's more!

If you can push the block into water, it floats. It has 600 hit points, so if you push it into lava or acid you could use it as a quick stepping stone as that damage eats into it. You can block off doorways or make yourself unflankable. Can't quite reach something? Make a stepping stone.

This is what wizards do best.

NUMBER THREE - Scramble True Position (Tome of Magic p.258)

Yeah, you read that right. Tome of Magic. This is a Truename Spell. Didn't see that one coming, did you?

The interesting thing about the Truespeak skill is that Truenamers aren't the only ones who can train it - and there are quite a good bit of spells tucked in the back of the book for spellcasters who have it trained. It's an Intelligence based skill, so even though it's cross-class you can still make pretty good use of it at low levels.

Basically - and this is the short version - you make an int-based cross-class skill check. If it's high enough, (which isn't really a problem at all if you're a well built wizard,) you can then move everyone in a 10' radius spread two squares in whatever direction you like. The same mention in slide's spell description of dangerous situations is again mentioned in scramble true position. On top of this offering no save (other than the sort of reverse save you get to control the difficulty of) for the movement, it has the extra effect of causing your foes to fall prone if they fail a reflex save.

This sort of spell really shines when you use it on a bridge or other precarious positions, because with a relatively easy skill check you can send everyone around you into unflattering positions. All in a first level spell. Nice, eh?

NUMBER TWO - Fist of Stone (Spell Compendium p.94)

Why is this spell so good? It gives you a brand new fist that offers +6 to strength for the vast majority of purposes, and the slam attack it gives you is one of those 1.5xStr (your new strength!) attacks.

Your new hand doesn't give you any penalties. Your hand is as versatile as it was previous to the spell, and it lasts a minute no matter what level you are. By the time this spell isn't very good, you've got better ones. At low levels, it lasts the entire combat. Perfect.

All of a sudden the wizard is a competent melee fighter. Since wizards have so few spell slots at these levels, sometimes the best idea is to save something like Fist of Stone for last and let loose on your opponents after all the other slots have been expended. At this level, the only difference between you and the fighter is a feat and a single BAB. You can show him who's boss now.

The Number One Reason to Play a 1st-Level Wizard

I wrestled with what to write here for a long time, because there are so many good contestants. At first, I was sure that Frostburn's shivering touch, lesser was going to make it onto here, but in the end the poor wording and sheer brokenness of it led to me leaving it out entirely. Secondly, spell flower almost made it onto this list, but that spell doesn't come into its own until later levels (when you could be two-weapon fighting with horrendous touch spell mayhem.) Look those spells up. One's ridiculous, and the other has some amazing synergistic properties.

When I started this article, it was aimed at not only first level spells, but first level characters. At the end of the day, we have to consider the spells that a first level character is going to get the most bang for their buck - that is, the few spell slots available to them. One of my goals was to espouse new spells that people had never heard of, but I couldn't help but drag us back home for the winner.

NUMBER ONE - Color Spray (Player's Handbook p.210)

Really, I could gush on this spell, but let's face it - if you're reading this page, you know what it does. It brutally crushes low level encounters. This spell is a save-or-die.


This entry was posted on January 17, 2010 at Sunday, January 17, 2010 and is filed under , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


All my NPC wizards have Color Spray and I don't think I would play a wizard that didn't have it (I usually DM and haven't gotten to play many characters yet). What's even better is it keeps being useful for several levels.


January 17, 2010 at 12:48 PM

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