Warhammer 4e Magic is ok, but not great … by design

A recent Reddit thread asked about Magic in 4th edition WFRP – and its worth a read if you area WFRP fan with a magical bent. Posting my comments on that discussion as a hook…

The question as asked:

I was looking into 4th edition looking for a system to play some whfrp. I first checked out the magic section as historically that is the most fragged up part of every WHF game. And first it didn’t seemed terrible looking at the spells, but than looking at the fire spells I fund there are only one direct damaging spell which is ridiculous for the most destructive wind.

But what really shocked me was that it was a difficulty of 10 which if I understood correctly means for casting it you should achieve 10 degree of success, basically meaning -100 on the test in a % based system. And looking at other magic difficulties it seems that magic is totally unusable, nearly impossible in every case to cast anything but the tiniest of spells. Also they seem weak.

Which begs the question why would anyone use magic in such a system knowing the risks?

 

Have I totally misunderstood the system or just the usual WHF curse took root again?

It’s not an invalid point, however that is be design. I say that as the design is so fixed and constrained that it must have been a choice rather than a mistake. In more detail my post comment was:

They are not great but it’s not a simple cause.

4e magic needs some tweaks to be better, however fundamentally it is still a magic system designed to be punitive and dangerous. That is appropriate to the setting. I hope I’m not telling you how to suck eggs, however the Warhammer setting has magic as directly sourced from Chaos and the massively unpredictable winds of magic – so your goal as a wizard is to see how you die with a particular botch. Expect to die horribly.

Wizards are also almost always glass cannon characters, so a good soldier in melee range will cripple them quickly. This is also by design.

Those basics aside it would be great to have more depth in the spell lists and broader application of smaller magical effects, and I agree with your criticism of the combat magic spells. Uninspired.

At lower xp levels a wizard isn’t “good” at all, but I think they become amazing at high levels.

Also a pre-2500 xp Wizard is needs to be either highly optimised to be effective, or will be disappointing.

At 6000xp and higher I think an ex-Witch who is now a Wizard is one of the best power choices because they can learn spells outside their Wind. Or an Elf Wizard. Amazing at high xp. (A shadow death and fire Elf would be very hard to stop)

A few house rules to consider:

  • a caster can channel and stop at whatever number of CN they choose. This means that a caster can try to cast even if they haven’t got their full CN channeled.
  • during the Talent learning Endeavour all Careers can take Talents from previous career levels without rolling. It still takes an endeavour and costs money, but there is no failure rate. This allows wizards to not stockpile Aethryic attunement early in their careers. Which is basically mandatory if your wizard intends to cast the powerful CN:8+ effects later.
  • I’d lower the CN by 1/4 rounding up on each spell. It makes higher end spells worth taking and still requires them to be cast over a few combat rounds, but means the wizard will cast more than one spell per battle.
  • Petty spells should still benefit from the Career Wind choice, but I think currently they do not. Changing that makes Dart very useful, and reduces the need to sink huge Xp into channelling as well as Language Magick.
  • If you are seeking a range dps class then look to the bow using hunter and ranger types. Solid dps every round at range with no real failure rate. Especially powerful at later career levels.
(Just adding to my previous comment) I’m playing a Wizard now, and at less than 2000 xp he would have been poor. At 3500 xp he can do some things well, but still isn’t as good as a soldier/duelist with a range weapon. I’m hoping that it gets amazing at post 5000 xp.
  • It is still very much a glass cannon, and still very slow in play (channel, cast.. or channel, channel, channel, cast) for almost all combats. Also Wizards spend 2-4 rounds “getting prep’d” so they don’t die instantly, so seem to do very little in short fights.
  • My advice is to play the Wizard because you want to play a character with knowledges and arcane feel. Playing a wizard because you like killing things in combat games will be disappointing imo.

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