Sunday, May 24, 2015

Wizards' World

Art by Tracy Cameron Mansfield

Wizards' World is one of those games that boil down to D&D with some house rules thrown in.  Nowadays, you can't swing a displacer beast without hitting one of those; however, Wizards' World was released in 1983, when the notion was not altogether tired.  In a previous post, I explained that Lawrence Schick confused this game with Wizards' Realm.  There's only one syllable of difference between the titles; perhaps I expect too much from Schick.

Anyway, Wizards' World is no longer an obscure, out-of-print game from thirty years ago; it is now an obscure, print-on-demand game from thirty years ago.  It has been acquired by Daniel Proctor and is available wherever Goblinoid Games are sold.  The current printing has been reformatted somewhat and incorporates errata.  Yet, the book is not entirely without error; the attacker critical blow table on page 13 displays a spreadsheet goof of “Jan-50” instead of “1-50.”  “Populous” instead of “populace” (p. 59) remains uncorrected from the original version.  Also, it would have been nice to have a spell index and an alphabetized monster listing.

One interesting difference of the current version from the original is the lack of any mention of co-author Douglas S. Krull.  Originally, Krull's name appeared with that of David Silvera on the cover, the title page, and beneath the preface.  The preface itself is unchanged with phrases like “We especially wish” and “We also wish.”  It makes it seem that Silvera is employing the editorial 'we'.  Krull's  status as an unperson is confirmed when Proctor, in his foreword, uses the phrase “of the author” (singular).  Perhaps Krull wanted to divorce himself from any association with the game.

All of the artwork (including the cover shown above) is the product of Tracy Mansfield, who evidently did not pursue a career in art or adorn any other game books.  His efforts are rendered in a style I can only describe as a step up from high school notebook realism.  I'm not complaining; it offers something of an 'old school' authenticity.

The first step in creating a character is to select a race.  Playable races include the familiar assortment of humans, halflings, dwarves, elves, half-elves, and gnomes. Additionally, there are 'evil' versions dwarves, elves, and halflings.  I guess humans are already evil; they are “the most warlike race” and are considered “inferior and barbaric.”  Gnomes enjoy practical jokes most of all and “the gnomish sense of humor has been known run roughshod over meek, and sometimes not so meek, beings of all types.”  So, I guess gnomes are already evil too.

The 'bad' dwarves are called metamorphic dwarves and they are servants of the Earth King.  “They have golden skin and sparkling eyes” and they “can also cause their skin to appear to move and change hue.”  The 'bad' halflings are called demon halflings; they received powers from Lucifer and Mephistopheles.  Demon halfling powers include some percentage of magic resistance, the ability to transform “to humanoid form,” and they take half damage from fire.  Dark elves in Wizards' World are standard issue except they automatically have some spellcasting ability (as do 'normal' elves).

Although there are 'bad' character races, Wizards' World has no rules for alignment.  However, characters of the white knight profession get an experience bonus “for being kind, generous and generally heroic” and an experience penalty for behaving evilly; vice versa for black knights.

There are seven primary attributes:  strength, willpower, intelligence, endurance, appearance, dexterity, and agility.  Dexterity influences “manipulative capability (i.e. picking locks)” and “ability to hit with a weapon.”  Agility measures “reflexes and dodging ability.”  Each primary attribute has a value from three to thirty; the average “for normal, non-adventuring individuals is 10.”  Primary attributes are determined based on a character's race; humans have 3d6+2 for each.

There are four secondary attributes, each of which is the average of a set of three primary attributes:  Life Points (END, STR, and WIL), Alertness (WIL, INT, and AGL), Stealth (INT, AGL, and DEX), and Movement Value (WIL, AGL, and END).

Wizards' World offers an interesting assortment of character professions beyond the expected warrior, wizard, and thief; however, there are no cleric analogs.  Among the other 'professions' there are:  attackers, defenders, scouts, spies, assassins, white knights, black knights, jesters (yes, there are jesters), destroyers (the Wizards' World equivalent of the AD&D monk), and vampires.  Incidentally, “Vampires...are the only monster that can be played as a character.” (I guess demon halflings, metamorphic dwarves, and jesters are not considered to be monsters.)

Entry into a profession is based on attribute minimums and race.  In Wizards' World, race is not as restrictive as AD&D with regard to profession/class choice.  Among the restrictions, dwarves and halflings cannot be wizards; however, their 'bad boy' race equivalents can.  Also, the 'bad' races can't be white knights, neither can gnomes.  (I told you they're evil.)

Curiously, neither flavor of halfling can be a scout.  At first glance, this might be explained by the fact that the minimum strength needed for a scout is 13 and halflings only roll 3d4 to determine strength.  However, demon halflings roll 2d4+1d6 for strength and thus can have 13 strength.  Also, halflings are permitted to join the attacker profession even though the minimum strength requirement of 14.


  1. Whatever obscure a title! Good coverage of Barker...I have the Tekumel maps on the wall.

  2. destroyers (the Wizards' World equivalent of the AD&D monk)

    If I recall correctly, the monk was adapted from the "Destroyer" series of novels.