Meet the 4e Human Wizard

At last we reach the final 4e pregenerated character from Keep on the Shadowfell. This is the character that, most likely, Adam will be playing. In some ways, I think the Wizard has had the most drastic makeover of all the characters in 4e. Fighters still swing swords, Cleric aid people and hit people with maces, and Rogues sneak attack. However, the new at-will powers really increase the ability of the Wizard – especially the low-level Wizard – to participate for the entire adventure.

Martin, who played a Reserve feat-wielding Wizard in Savage Tide will attest to the power of a Wizard with at-will abilities. So, what is this one like?


HUMAN WIZARD

HP 23, Bloodied 11, Healing Surge 5, Surges Per Day 7
Initiative +6
AC 14, Fort 12, Ref 15, Will 15

Good initiative, awful defences. That’s my initial reaction. In fact, the Wizard has the equal best Will defence of these characters, and the second best Reflex save. However, that low AC will mean that the Wizard will do very well to stay out of melee, preferably behind the Fighter who should be able to protect him!

Poor healing surge value and number of surges ensure that this Wizard really doesn’t want to be damaged, and makes a great change from the melee-based characters we’ve seen until now. In fact, in the original PHB, the Wizard is the only controller and thus has the worst HP of all the classes.


[bm] Quarterstaff +2 vs. AC; 1d8
[br] Magic Missile +4 vs. Ref; 2d4+4 

My, my… Magic Missile as a basic attack. It’s actually an At Will power (see below), but it also counts as a basic attack. That means it’s eligible for certain uses that other At Will powers aren’t. I can’t see it being used as part of a Charge or an Opportunity Attack, but possibly in conjunction with the Warlord.

Oh, and it is no longer an automatic hit. One Sacred Cow slaughtered!


RACIAL TRAITS

Height: 6’0″; Weight: 180 lb.; Size: Medium
Speed: 6 squares; Vision: Normal
Languages: Common, Draconic; Alignment: Good

Human Bonuses: One extra at-will power, feat, trained skill, +1 to Fortitude, Reflex, and Will defenses (already included).

Those are really nice bonuses for the Human, although I am assured they’re anything but overpowered; other races also get really nice things.


AT-WILL POWERS

Magic Missile   Wizard Attack 1
You launch a silvery bolt of force at an enemy.
At Will * Arcane, Force, Implement
Standard Action   Ranged 20
Target: One creature
Attack: +4 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d4 + 4 force damage.
Special: This can be used to make ranged basic attacks.

Meet the basic attack of the Wizard. Notice the keyword of “Implement” in the description above. That means that with the proper implement (probably a wand in this case), you get a bonus to attack and damage. Now, the Wizard can have a +6 wand to match the Fighter’s +6 sword!


Ray of Frost
  Wizard Attack 1
A blisteringly cold ray of white frost streaks to your target.
Encounter * Arcane, Cold, Implement
Standard Action   Ranged 10
Target: One creature
Attack: +4 vs. Fortitude
Hit: 1d6 + 4 cold damage, and the target is slowed until the end of your next turn.
 

Not as much damage as the Magic Missile, but it attacks a different defence and slowing someone – which reduces their speed to 2 squares – can be very useful in this new, more mobile version of D&D.


Scorching Burst
   Wizard Attack 1
A vertical column of golden flames burns all within.
At Will * Arcane, Fire, Implement
Standard Action   Area burst 1 within 10 squares.
Target: Each creature in burst.
Attack: +4 vs Reflex
Hit: 1d6 + 4 fire damage.

Well, it isn’t quite the same as Flame Strike, but it’s still nice. Burst 1 means a 3×3 area, by the way, according to the new DDM rules. You aim the effect at a square, and then count out a radius around the square equal to the Burst level. Burst 1 = 3×3, Burst 2 = 5×5, Burst 3 = 7×7 and so forth. It’s a square area of effect as well.


ENCOUNTER POWER

Burning Hands   Wizard Attack 1
A fierce burst of flame erupts from your hands and scorches nearby foes.
Encounter * Arcane, Fire, Implement
Standard Action   Close blast 5
Target: Each creature in blast
Attack: +4 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d6 + 4 fire damage. 

Here we go with Burning Hands. This really is a fire wizard! Adam will love it! I need to discover exactly what Blast means; I think it’s similar to Burst, except perhaps must be adjacent to you (which would make sense, this being burning hands). More damage than Scorching Burst (effectively [2W]), as this is an Encounter power. Adam will enjoy this.


DAILY POWERS

Acid Arrow   Wizard Attack 1
A shimmering arrow of green, glowing liquid streaks to your target and burst in a spray of sizzling acid.
Daily * Arcane, Implement
Standard Action   Ranged 20
Primary Target: One creature
Attack: +4 vs. Reflex
Hit: 2d8 + 4 acid damage, and ongoing 5 acid damage (save ends). Make a secondary attack.
  Secondary Target: Each creature adjacent to the primary target.
  Secondary Attack: +4. vs Reflex
  Hit: 1d8 + 4 acid damage, and ongoing 5 acid damage (save ends).
Miss: Half damage, and ongoing 2 acid damage to primary target (save ends), and no secondary attack. 

Wizards do not actually get to use two daily powers at 1st level. Instead, they must choose one or the other to prepare – a last vestige of Vancian Spellcasting. Ongoing acid damage is great; unless they get a bonus save when it isn’t their turn, it will take the damage on its next action and then get to try to throw it off with a save. Note how this also has a secondary attack that affects those adjacent to the primary target on a hit… and on a miss it still does damage to the primary target.


Sleep
  Wizard Attack 1
You exert your will against your foes, seeking to overwhelm them with a tide of magical weariness.
Daily * Arcane, Implement, Sleep
Standard Action   Area burst 2 within 20 squares
Target: Each creature in burst
Attack: +4 vs. Will
Hit: The target is slowed (save ends). If the target fails its first saving throw against this power, the target falls asleep (save ends).
Miss: The target is slowed (save ends). 

Ah, the sacred cow spell of sleep (basically the only spell that 1st level magic-users in 1st edition would ever memorize). 5×5 area (see above), and a slightly delayed effect. The creature is slowed first, and then has about a 50% chance of falling asleep. What’s nice is that it slows even on a miss… a tribute to the no-save version of Sleep that was in AD&D 1st edition.


CANTRIPS

Ghost Sound   Wizard Cantrip
With a wink, you create an illusory sound that emanates froim somewhere close by.
At Will * Arcane, Vision
Standard Action   Ranged 10
Target: One object or unoccupied square.
Effect: You cause a sound as quiet as a whisper or as loud as a yelling or fighting creature to emanate from the target. You can produce nonvocal sounds such as the ringing of a sword blow, jingling armor, or scraping stone. If you whisper, you can whisper quietly enought that only creatures adjacent to the target can hear your words. 

Look! Cantrips! At Will Cantrips! Someone really needs to explain to me why Ghost Sound is a vision thing… could be a transcription error, of course.


Light
  Wizard Cantrip
With a wave of your hand, you cause a bright light to appear on the tip of your staff, upon some other object, or in a nearby space.
At Will
Arcane
Minor Action   Ranged 5
Target: One object or unoccupied square.
Effects: You cause the target to shed bright light. The light lits the target’s square and all squares within 4 squares of it. The light lasts for 5 minutes. Putting out the light is a free action.
Special: You can have only one light cantrip active at a time. If you create a new light, your previously cast light winks out. 

At will! Minor Action! Not much more to say… and where’s Mage Hand? (One cantrip I’m sure Adam will take when we get the actual rules).


CLASS FEATURES

Cantrips: You know a few minor spells that you can use as at-will powers.
Spellbook: Your spellbook holds an extra daily spell. After an extended rest, prepare one of those spells to use for the day. You know two daily spells, but you can only cast one per day.
Wand of Accuracy (Implement Mastery): Once per encounter as a free action, you gain a +2 bonus on a single attack roll against one target when using your wand.

Notice the Wand ability. This is more Harry Potter (oh, and traditional European magic).


ABILITY SCORES

Str 11 [+0], Con 13 [+1], Dex 14 [+2], Int 18 [+4], Wis 12 [+1], Cha 10 [+0]

Apparently Ability scores are an array (by default), point buy (25 point, but from an increased base), or 4d6 drop lowest. All the pregens are the array. Humans get to choose one stat to get a +2 bonus on. Half-Elves get +2 Cha and one stat of their choice +2 (not Cha), all other races have set bonuses.


SKILLS
Arcana +9, Dungeoneering +6, History +9, Nature +6, Religion +9

Four trained skills for the Wizard, plus one for being a human.


FEATS
Action Surge: You gain a +3 bonus to attack rolls you make during any action you gained by spending an action point.
Improved Initiative: You gain a +4 bonus to initiative checks (already included).

Action Points are a new feature of 4e. You begin each day with one Action Point, and you gain 1 more point for each milestone you reach (normally two encounters overcome). You can spend an action point to gain an additional action (standard, move or minor) in a round, and the Human Wizard gains the Action Surge bonus whilst performing that action. Unlike Star Wars Saga and previous editions of D&D, Action Points do not, in themselves, give you extra bonuses.


GEAR

Armor: None.
Weapon: Quarterstaff, wand.
Adventurer’s Kit: This kit includes: a backpack, a bedroll, flint and steel, a belt pouch, two sunrods, ten days worth of trail rations, 50 feet of hempen rope, and a waterskin.
Gold: 23 gp

You have a wand!


2ND LEVEL
At 2nd level, you gain the following:

Hit Points: Increase to 27; Bloodied: Increase to 13; Healing Surge: Increase to 6.

Level Modifier: Because your new level is an even number, everything that includes one-half your level gets better. Increase your attacks, defenses, initiative, and skill check modifiers by 1 point.
Feat: Human Perseverance: You gain a +1 bonus to saving throws.

A bonus to saving throws is really, really nice. Remember, you need to roll a 10+ to make a saving throw on a d20. Anything that makes them easier is good.


Expeditious Retreat   Wizard Utility 2
Your form blurs as you hastily withdraw from the battlefield.
Daily * Arcane
Move Action   Personal
Effect: Shift up to twice your speed.

Zoom! I’m sure this will get used when the Wizard is looking overwhelmed.


3RD LEVEL
At 3rd level, you gain the following:

Hit Points: Increase to 31; Bloodied: Increase to 15; Healing Surge: Increase to 7.

Fire Shroud   Wizard Attack 3
With a subtle gesture, you wreathe nearby enemies in flames.
Encounter
Arcane, Fire, Implement
Standard Action   Close burst 3
Target: Each enemy in burst
Attack: Int vs Fortitude
Hit: 1d8 + 4 fire damage, and ongoing 5 fire damage (save ends).

I really begin to wonder if the designers of this character did so with Adam in mind…

The 4e Wizard is a controller, which allows him to deal damage (and affect) many creatures at once. He doesn’t do so well against single opponents, although he’s not incompetent by any measure. With 4e, you can expect most combats to be against 3-11 opponents, with only a few being against really tough solo opponents.

So, that’s all the pregens from Keep on the Shadowfell. I’m still waiting for my copy to arrive, and I really hope it does before the weekend. If it doesn’t, I’ll run the adventure on the first available Sunday after it arrives. Initial reports indicate the adventure should take us about 5-6 sessions, each of about 4 hours. After that, H2 should be available, and we will continue or explorations into the new world of 4e.

For my Savage Tide participants, upon my receipt of the 4e core rules, I’ll begin to run a City of Greyhawk and the dungeons of Castle Greyhawk campaign. Expect to have some of the characters you met in Age of Worms to reappear, and we may pay Holly a visit at some point…

 

3 comments

  1. keterys

    Blast X is an X by X square adjacent to caster. So, burning hands is a 5×5 area that has to have at least 1 of its squares adjacent to the caster.

    I suspect Mage Hand was cut for space reasons, which is a shame as it’s the best cantrip. Ever. 🙂

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  2. Anonymous

    The damages for creatures in E1-3 are for the most part very low. With the large number of undead, since 3/5 of the party had necrotic resistance, it was hard to provide a challenge. It’s too bad Essentials has so little in the way of epic monsters, so you’ll have to do the work yourself. But I highly recommend updating things to the new expected damage figures or prepare for a cakewalk.

    You’re still a couple sessions from getting there, but I recommend using the… Worm of Ages, I think is the name, as a random encounter. It’s right in the front of the main adventure book, and it’s one of the coolest solo monsters WotC has made.

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