Monday, December 13, 2010

From Under a rock - I knew you would Say That!

Ever notice how in the D&D cartoon the Dungeon Master always came from and disappeared behind a rock? From Under a Rock is a new semi regular column that I am starting featuring advice for players including different combinations of abilities and the challenges to consider when doing so.  This column will be similar to the DM Advice column but will target players.

Need to make a specialist wizard and have to select some opposition schools? The choice is usually the divination and enchantment schools. I believe the reason that they are usually the first schools dropped is because they are misunderstood.  Now before you start selecting Divination and Enchantment as your opposition schools consider for a moment exactly what it is that you are throwing away. In fact, the power of these schools is oftentimes overlooked.

What power?  For starters, have you ever been on the receiving end of a campaign hook that either made absolutely no sense to you what-so-ever or you just simply needed the DM to answer a question that you knew that they did not wish to answer?  Need to know the answer to something hidden? This is where the divination school plays a mighty round of poker.  Spells such as detect thoughts and see undead may not seem very handy at first but let me paint you a sample picture. 

Your party is deep is on the road when you encounter a strange woman. She is lost and cannot find her way back home.  Once you offer to help, she becomes overjoyed and promises to give you a special gift. She seems harmless at first offering to give the party a reward for bringing her home. The old woman moves at ease in through the undergrowth and stinging nettles in the woods offering to help you through the treacherous wood without complaint. Once you arrive at her house, a ramshackle cottage in the woods, she offers to feed you.  Following her inside you are immediately set upon by her sisters – she is a night hag and has plans for your party that involves dinner.  Should you survive the fight you might have wished that your wizard had used detect thoughts on the old woman when you first thought something was strange.

Another example, you are at dinner (sensing a theme here?) and you are the honored invited guest at the table of Baron Alvio Vittioro.  During the course of the meal, you begin to feel very sick and realize that the food was poisoned.  You could have used detect poison to detect that something was foul with the fowl.  Later that night you are tended by the concubines of the Baron and you drift off to sleep only to be awakened by the horrible screams of your companions being set upon by the same concubines.  You notice that they seem very resilient to your spells and after the cleric of your party successfully turns the vampire spawn you realize it would have been nice to have been able to use detect undead at dinner.

These are some of the lower level spells available for the divination school.  At higher levels, this school really comes into its own with such spells as contact other plane, legend lore and the very powerful foresight.  A wizard with the ability to see what is coming or what may be coming gives a very serious advantage to a party.  Another neat benefit of having a wizard in the party with divination is that the spells used are oftentimes very useful to the DM to advance plots.  So if you want to know what’s coming and be aware of the intentions of others do not toss away divination.

Secondly, consider the benefits of the enchantment school.  Granted there are races that are almost all but immune to charming effects of enchantments but what of those that are not? Need to get an NPC to trust you or a monster to ‘guard your back’ then enchantment is the school for you!  Consider the following scenarios.

Your party has been trying to get information for days about a missing child who was rumored to have been kidnapped by his uncle.  Of course you are working for the child’s father who has promised to pay you handsomely for the return of the uncle and the boy.  Unfortunately, no one in town trusts you as you are an outsider and the town is very superstitions of outsiders.  Luckily the bartender of the local mug and grug is somewhat sympathetic to your plea and offers to help anyway he can but there seems to be one detail he keeps leaving out.  You cast charm person and get a really good result.  Now the local bartender really wants to help out.  He tells you that the last time he saw the kid was two days ago playing outside of the park and his father was with him. He says that he saw the boy’s uncle take some kind of pouch from the boy’s father and then he set off into the woods with the boy.

Later in town, you encounter the uncle but he denies all knowledge.  Luckily you are a enchanter and cast the spell suggestion. You tell the uncle to take you to the last place he saw the boy.  The uncle fails the check and takes you to the woods.  He takes you to a little ramshackle cottage where a night hag has been hiding out.  It is she who has been stealing the local children.  You find out that the father really is not the father but a member of the coven and your use of charm monster quickly stops the creatures from attacking you.
See both examples above are handled with the spells from divination and enchantment.  As an added bonus should you decide to allow the night hag to live you could hit her with the spell geas and set her on a quest to free children from other night hags. I hope I have successfully convinced you not to toss away divination and enchantment schools when making your wizard.


  1. Great idea for a series, and you've done a brilliant job with this one. Can only be useful, for players of course, but also for DMs/GMs needing an idea or two.

  2. @ Porky - Thank you kindly. It is my intention to make this for players mostly. The DM Advice column that I am doing on this blog is for the DMs. Now of course insidious DMs (oxymoron?) can use this column by telling their players to go to this blog and read the column.