This one is going to be the most “yeah, but . . . ” of the classes, I think. The Wizard is all about the spell list, and having the largest list, and most susceptible to the GM giving out magical spells to be copied as a reward.
More on that later.
The Wizard is an INT-based spellcasting character, and also one of the classes that gets d6 for hit dice. Ergo, we’re looking for a race that gives a big boost to INT, and then either to CON or DEX depending if you wanted to go for an AC bonus (don’t get hit) instead of HP (stay up a tiny bit longer if you do).
I actually initially chose Rock Gnome with War Caster as a Feat, but then realized I could do something different with the High Elf and a stat bonus. So I went with that. I put my best score into INT (16), then CON (15), then DEX (14). CHA and WIS took the 13s, leaving 11 for STR.
STR 11 (+0); DEX 16 (+3); CON 16 (+3); INT 18 (+4); WIS 13 (+1); CHA 13 (+1)
This is a nice set of stats. Better, in fact, than the Rock Gnome variant I had down originally, and I hit the +1 for 4th level in INT and CON, so the 16 and 18 came late, but when they do, it provides a very nice rounded set of stats.
Saving throws are INT (+7) and WIS (+4); WIS will hit +5 quickly if you can spend a stat bonus on it, but then you might want to push INT to 20 first. I tend to like more well-rounded characters, but that’s not really the point of this exercise. I suppose if it were, and since I did luck out and roll a single 16, I could (again) go Rock Gnome and be INT 20 by 4th level.
But I digress.
Background and Skills
I went with a fairly stereotypical background for a Wizard – the Sage/Researcher. This hits up the critical skills of Arcana and History, and that allowed me to pick up Nature and Investigation as also INT-based skills befitting an elf with a long time studying things magical and natural. That gives +7 in those skills, +4 in Religion, and +1 to +3 in everything else.
Passive Perception ain’t all that, at only 11. He does speak five languages, though. That’s pretty good.
From a mundane combat perspective, this Wizard has a reasonable one-shot. Light crossbows give him a d8 for base damage, and DEX 16 is respectable. He’ll need/want to use Mage Armor to push his AC to a base 13, which brings him (surprisingly) to AC 16, much like the Ranger in full stealth mode.
To Hit: +3 with DEX, no bonus with STR. With a dagger, he’s 1d20+6 to hit (finesse weapon) and 1d4+3 to damage (4-7 points). The light crossbow puts him at 1d20+6 as well, but with 1d8+3 for 4-11 points.
Never do this, though. Fire Bolt is 2d10 to 120′.
This, of course, is where it’s at for the Wizard. As this exercise is “do the most damage you can,” I chose a set of fairly standard fire and brimstone stuff.
You start with six first-level spells, and then gain two spells per level after that, but only in things you can cast. That means without finding extra spells from books and scrolls, by 6th level I think you basically have 8 1st level spells, and four each of 2nd and 3rd level. Plus four cantrips.
You’re a “full” spellcasting class, so you go to 9th level and pick up a new spell level every other time you level up.
I’ve tried to not just lather up on all pain, all the time. It would be easy to do.
- Blade Ward – resistance to mundane weapons, so long as you give up being proactive. With only 44 HP, this is somewhat useful if you find yourself beseiged and out of other options.
- Chill Touch – 2d8 damage, but your foe can’t regain HP until next turn.
- Fire Bolt – 2d10 every turn is better than any mundane weapon you can weild
- Light – someone has to.
1st Level Spells
- Chromatic Orb – I love this spell, because of dial-an-effect. If you can make a roll to know what a foe is vulnerable to, this is like 6d8 even with a 1st level spell slot (because double damage if you’re vulnerable). Even at 3d8 it’s not bad, and you can hit for 5d8 with a third level slot. Again: if you (say) have something vulnerable to X, hitting them with X can be 8-80 HP in one shot.
- Detect Magic – detect loot!
- Find Familiar – darn handy, and you only need to cast it once. Extends “touch” range spells to 100′ by casting through him, can be used for recon.
- Mage Armor – an important 8-hour boost to AC.
- Magic Missile – free damage, no waiting. Only 1d4+1 per missile, three missiles, but hey – 6-15 for a first level spell slot, and can be used on creatures with AC too high for your compatriots to smite. This spell killed a dragon in my last game.
- Sleep – I wrote about Sleep here, and it’s basically an off switch for about five 1 HD creatures. Especially good if your friends have softened up a small group, because it works in ascending order of current HP.
- Shield – Negates magic missile and probably stacks with Mage Armor, giving you AC 21 for a turn . . . as a reaction.
- Witch Bolt – who doesn’t want to be Emporer Palpatine? If you can hit, you can keep the pain on for a full minute at 1d12 each.
- Arcane Lock – because sometimes putting a solid object between you and harm is a good idea
- Invisibility – again, darn handy
- Ray of Enfeeblement – foe does half damage for a minute. Good for big, hulky creatures, and those with lowish CON.
- Scorching Ray – 2d6 per bolt, three bolts, +1 more bolt per spell slot level. A bit more discriminating for targets than Fireball, but more or less equal in damage if you’re only looking at damaging one target.
- Blink – because sometimes you want to be elsewhere, right the heck now. And now. And now. And that way for a minute. Since you can go anywhere you can see, this can be a seriously fast rate of get the heck out of Dodge.
- Dispel Magic – Spell-B-Gone.
- Fireball – All about the boom. 8d6 in a circle, DEX save for half damage. 20′ radius and 150′ away.
- Lightning Bolt – ZZZzzzap! 8d6 to 100′, any creature in a line 5′ wide.
The versatility of the Wizard, and of course that it hews to the old-school feel of what a D&D magic user has been for rather a long time, is what make this class interesting.