Sunday, May 31, 2015

The Wizards' World Difference

Art by Tracy Cameron Mansfield

Wizards' World does not offer any detailed setting information, although there are glimpses into the campaign(s) of Dave Silvera and/or Doug Krull.  For instance, Madradox and the Eldritch Field or the Earth King that rules the Metamorphic Dwarves.  Essentially, the game is a platform for Silvera and Krull to offer alternatives to D&D rules; alternatives that go beyond an extra characteristic and some new races and classes.

The game presents the familiar array of thief abilities along with the addition of 'Spot Hidden Item', 'Recognize Value', and 'Estimate Value'.  Thieves, of course, have all of the thief abilities; scouts, assassins, destroyers, jesters, and spies each have some thief abilities (spies also have the additional abilities of 'Disguise' and 'Mimic').  Rather than a measured progression per level, professions with thief abilities receive a number of percentage points per level to allocate among the abilities as the player sees fit.

Like thief abilities, combat is also resolved with percentile rolls.  All characters have a 25% proficiency with every weapon, possibly modified by a dexterity based “To Hit Adjustment.”  Professions with a focus on combat can improve their ability through experience.  Such professions have experience “intervals” in addition to experience levels.  For example, warriors have an interval of one hundred experience points for the first two levels; “[w]arriors gain a one percent increase in their to hit probability with the weapon of their choice at each interval.”  Professions (such as Wizard and Thief) without 'fighting ability' simply do not improve their ability to use weapons, ever.

Experience, by the way, is earned by killing.  In addition, combat-oriented professions gain experience by causing damage, spellcasters gain experience from casting spells, and thief-like professions gain experience by successfully performing thief abilities.  Finally, “[t]he GM may wish to award experience for other accomplishments as well.”

Armor “absorbs” damage and reduces dexterity and agility by a like amount.  For example, “Chain Armour” has an absorption value of 4 and causes a dexterity and agility penalty of 4.  A character's agility can provide a defense adjustment that modifies an opponent’s chance to hit.  Low agility causes a negative defense adjustment which increases an opponent's chance; high agility, vice versa.  According to the example of combat, the destroyer profession provides a bonus to defense, but I do not see this detailed in the destroyer profession description.

With regard to magic, there are spell points and spell learning points.  Spell points are spent when attempting to cast a spell.  First through fourth level spells cost one point to attempt to cast; higher level spells cost more.  For a particular casting, an “aspect” of the spell (such as range or duration – but not damage) can be doubled by doubling the spell points; tripling spell points can triple the aspect (or double another aspect), etc.  One spell point is recovered for every hour of rest.

Wizards get a spell learning point for every point of experience earned.  (Other spellcasters get a spell learning point for every two points of experience earned.)  The cost of learning a spell – assuming the spellcaster has a copy of the spell (from the Wizards' Guild or elsewhere) – is determined by the level of the spell and the “chance of failure” the spellcaster is willing to take per casting.  The cost of any of the following options is two thousand points:  a 1st level spell with no chance of failure, a 4th level spell with a 75% chance of failure, a 2nd level spell with a 10% chance of failure, or a 3rd level spell with a 30% chance of failure.

Six years before the publication of Second Edition AD&D, Wizards' World presented “specialty wizards” as a character profession option.  Instead of schools of magic, Wizards' World has types:  Destructive, Curative, Creation, Transformation, Enchantment, Detection, Illusion, and Protection.  A specialty wizard pays half of the learning cost for spells of his type, but pays double for any other type.  A specialty wizard gains more spell points for casting spells of his specific type.  For instance, a sixth level 'general' wizard has twelve spell points, while a sixth level specialty wizard has six spell points to use with any spell type and eight spell points that can be used only with his specialized type.

Although percentile dice are used for combat, spell success, and thief abilities, curiously, 3d10 are used for attribute saving rolls.  Multiplying an attribute value by three would seem to provide a viable percentile score for a linear probability distribution consistent with the rest of the game.

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