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  1. #1
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    Why wizards are weak

    I saw some stuff a long while back about how to fix some problems with wizard regents in the game, but I can't find them right now, so I'm going to throw this topic out here and see how controversial it is and what feedback I can get on my house rule solutions I've been using for a while based on those old posts I can't find.

    By my estimation, unless you've got a high-level wizard or control non-source holdings, wizards are by far the weakest regents to play in the game.

    Wizard regents suffer from some of the biggest drawbacks in the game, and even after BRCS eliminated maintenance costs for sources and ley lines and added the virtual guild rules, source regents still suffer huge limitations on income, regular RP expenditure, and tied up domain actions.

    Consider this:
    A wizard relies on income from only a few sources:
    1. Source Holdings higher than level 4 (however, very few of these can even exist, and they require a single wizard to have controlled and fully developed all of the sources in the province)
    a. Bliene-6, the Spiderfell-7 (a dangerous prospect) in the Southern Coast (others by HMA only in the Erebannien); Sunken Lands-6, Spiritsend-6, Hope’s Demise-6 in Eastern Marches (excluding Chimaeron and Baruk Azhik); Elevesnemiere-5, Pechalinn-5 and Torien’s Watch-6 in the Heartlands; 3 L5’s in Talinie and 3 L6’s in Taeghas in the Western Coast; 1 in the 5 Peaks, 2 in Thurazor, 4 in Dhoesone
    b. Trade routes must be developed to fully take advantage of these, which are subject to disruption, and don’t really make much sense for source holdings anyway (some people eliminate them from their games because of that)
    c. The max income, then, is .67 or 1.33GB for each of these few sources, and that is hardly enough to cover the cost of a single Domain Action!
    2. The Alchemy Spell: this spell requires the wizard regent to use up a precious realm spell known slot (of which most DM’s allow very few for starting regents), spend a whole domain action, already have 1GB to use, burn tons of RP, and then only have a net gain limited to 2 or 3 GB for each casting of the spell! (since the max number of GB is limited by source level, and most source regents don’t have sources higher than level 3 or 4).
    3. Patronage from realm rulers. This usually isn’t more than 1-3GB, and is often subject to being cut off in times of war and such. Further, realm rulers tend to want their wizards to do their bidding, taking up on average 1 domain action every season to carry out the regent’s wishes (casting realm spells, doing research, opposing other wizard regents, etc.). This makes most wizard regents more beholden to other regents than anyone but weak vassals.


    A source regent needs to build up GB so he can cast realm spells, probably needing a treasury of at least 4 GB in times of conflict. Further, he needs 1GB for every domain action each season, and at least 1GB to carry out magical research or item creation, and must support a Court (let’s say at least 3) unless he wants to waste standard actions on every single Rule, Create, or Contest, not being able to take realm actions otherwise or even build fortified holdings like wizard’s towers or conduct diplomacy, or even spend character actions on adventures and research because without a Court, he must be personally involved in every Domain Action!

    Every Domain Action and most Court Actions cost at least 1GB to carry out. Researching Realm spells takes a character action each month, and 1GB each month as well, for each level of the realm spell involved, just to get the chance to make a roll to learn it!


    This costs the typical Wizard Regent with a Lieutenant 4GB per season for standard actions, 3GB for court actions, 3GB to maintain the court, and 3GB for research, travel, adventure, and contingency. That’s 13GB per season, just to match the flexibility of your average regent of any other domain!

    Note: the wizard regent still doesn’t get to take part in most of the actions other holding types can take, and he needs lots of RP and GB and the right spells to take part in military action at all—the cost for a wizard to wage war is often higher than for another kind of regent, because of the domain actions necessary to cast realm spells and alchemy, the GB component of spells, and the massive RP requirements. It takes total attention just to help wage low-level war for any but the most high-level wizard regents.

    To carry out actions, then, a typical source regent—let’s say he even has a Source 6, a rare occurrence!—must use up 1 action casting Alchemy, burning probably half or more of his RP accumulated that round just to net 3 or 4 more GB. Let’s say he also gets 3GB from realm regents (again, a high salary, surely making the wizard quite beholden to them). That’s only 9.33GB, and he’s already probably taking up another Domain Action to please his sponsors, which will likely use up more of his RP. So that better-than-average wizard regent is using up 2 Standard or Full actions already casting spells and pleasing his sponsor, leaving him with only 1 and 1 lieutenant action left, and very little GB and RP with which to do it.
    Last edited by Rowan; 01-07-2008 at 08:29 PM.

  2. #2
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    How do we fix these problems? Here are some House Rules I have seen in use recently:

    Wizards have automatic, no maintenance Courts equal to the level of their highest source holding, but they can only be used on realm actions involving sources.

    Realm spells cost ½ GB per level to research, can be researched in a single month no matter the level, and Court actions can be used to research.

    Ley Link as a Court action allowing other wizard regents to use a given regent’s ley line.

    Modifications to the Ley Line creation rules to allow multiple provinces to be linked at once, rather than requiring 1GB and RP and chew up another whole standard action for each one (see Dragon Magazine article Wiki).


    What I recommend:
    1. Source holdings generate income at a rate of 1/3GB per level (like a law holding); this reflects magical and exceptional materials that can be used for arcane research and as components for casting spells, as well as natural resources as per the normal virtual guild rules. Sources above level 4 do not generate any extra GB if this rule is in place, but sources do act as virtual guilds of 3 levels lower than the source, but sources of level 4 or higher then become visible to all regents since the wizard’s power is manifested more openly and strongly in the province. Trade routes represent special quasi-magical markets and natural resource trade. They do not require roads to maintain if they follow ley lines instead.
    2. Wizards can use Create Wizard’s Tower (1st level version of the Stronghold realm spell that only needs a source 1 or higher and costs 1GB and can only make Wizard’s Towers) or Fortify Holding action to create a Fortified Holding that also acts as a Court equal to its level. This Court can be sustained as per the Stronghold spell by using up source levels, or it costs 1GB plus 1RP per level to maintain each season.
    3. The Alchemy spell gets modified: double the amount of GB that can be created for each source level and reduce the RP cost to 2 or 3RP for each GB created. Also, Alchemy can be cast as a Court action. This should allow wizards to create the gold they need every few seasons rather than having to waste an action every season and won’t use up so much of their precious RP (needed for other spells).
    4. Realm spells cost ½ GB per level to research, can be researched in a single month no matter the level, and Court actions can be used to research.
    5. Starting regents know a number of realm spells equal to their total ranks in Knowledge Arcana -1 (letting them know almost half of their current potential).
    6. Reduce any realm spells level 3 or higher by 1 level and reduce source requirements of 4 or higher by 1 to make them more accessible to low-level regents.
    7. Ley Link is a Court action allowing any other wizard (not just wizard regents, but Lieutenants) to cast spells using the ley line, but any given source can still only be tapped for its source level amount each month.
    8. Ley lines can be forged across multiple provinces at once, tapped in each province it runs through. Ley lines are not crafted by straight lines, but weave through the middle of any province they pass through, and can be sundered at any point. Ley lines that can be tapped in multiple provinces are created through Realm actions, using 1 Court action for each additional province they can be tapped in.
    9. Create Ley Well is a Court action that can be used to fix an existing ley line in the province the well is sunk in; this means that if the ley line is sundered, it is only sundered back to the well—the entire line is not broken through one sundering, only a fragment of it is.

  3. #3
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    Arcane Towers

    Arcane Towers present a whole new area for some new concepts that can make the game much more dynamic and compelling for wizard players, allowing more flexibility, but still costing a lot (since gold is still a major limiting factor for them).

    Wizards Tower Asset Improvements:
    Alchemy Laboratory: 4GB cost; Alchemy can be cast as a Court Action

    Ley Focus Spires: 3GB cost for each; each one allows a new Ley line realm spells to be cast as Court Actions (like Ley Trace, Ley Sunder, Ley Ward, Ley Mask)

    Scrying Room (pools or mirrors): 4GB cost; Scry realm spells can be cast as Court Actions.

    Extradimensional Portal: 2GB per level of tower; allows the tower to remain hidden, accessible only through extradimensional portals

    Source Conduits: 2GB cost; a portal in any Source 0 or higher that allows a wizard regent to travel almost instantaneously through the conduit back to the arcane tower using the mebhaigl he controls

    Arcane Sanctum: 2GB cost; Functions as the Arcane Sanctum feat in the Tower

    Arcane Library: an asset that can exceed the tower’s level, costing 3GB per level to create and nothing to maintain. Each level gives a +1 bonus on all spell research.

    Arcane Well: asset costing 3GB per level; allows the wizard to store additional RP equal to 2RP per well level for the purposes only of casting realm spells and any actions involving sources (primarily put in place to help protect one’s sources and ley lines from attack).

    Arcane Pool: an asset that can be created for 2GB and 4RP in any province with a source or a ley line passing through it. It can be used to cast any realm spell in that province that it can support from the wizard’s tower as a Court action. Each costs 1RP to maintain. (these are essentially like Embassies or Spy Networks).


    Another important side note:
    Source holdings and ley lines should be tracked separately by the DM, not shown on public realm holdings listings. Per BRCS, these things are pretty secret, unknown to wizard and non-wizard regents alike. Games can have a lot of flavor and activity for wizard regents if these regents also have to spend time discovering what other wizards control power in the area, contesting sources, tracing and destroying ley lines, etc. This makes the wizard regent’s world much more dynamic and compelling, IMO.

  4. #4
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    I guess I posted too much...no one wants to take this on?

  5. #5
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    unless you've got a high-level wizard or control non-source holdings, wizards are by far the weakest regents to play in the game.
    Yup. I'm not convinced this is really a problem, though.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    even after BRCS eliminated maintenance costs for sources
    Sources never had maintenance costs. Rulebook p. 44 says "Count the number of provinces and law, guild and temple (but not source) holdings in the regent's domain." Ley lines at least only ever cost RP to maintain, and the "only pay if you plan to use it this domain turn" optional rule from Book of Magecraft made that even easier.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Source Holdings higher than level 4 (however, very few of these can even exist
    Which is precisely why a wizard who isn't at least closely allied with a province ruler is doomed anyway. When the most straightforward way to fight an intrusive wizard in your provinces is also the same thing you want to do to make your own realm stronger (i.e., rule up all your provinces as high as they will go), a wizard regent simply has to have a good enough relationship with some province ruler to negotiate a reliable "wilderness preserve", or his days are numbered for sure.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    The Alchemy Spell
    Yes, this was always a terrible deal. My impression was that most people changed the spell to use a ratio of 3-1 or even 2-1 rather than the official 4-1, which is only marginally better than the 5-1 ratio any schlub can use to pay troops in regency rather than gold. Still, you're much better off having a guild holding and a trade route for regular income; wizards who don't arrange for at least a couple of non-source holdings are not going to stay regents for long, and I'm okay with that.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    and then only have a net gain limited to 2 or 3 GB for each casting of the spell! (since the max number of GB is limited by source level, and most source regents don’t have sources higher than level 3 or 4)
    Ouch! That limitation is NOT in the original rules, and it seems unduly harsh to add it. The only restriction from Rulebook p. 82 is that you need a source (3) to cast Alchemy at all, but I encourage houseruling that one away, too -- because even at 2-1 with no source limitation, Alchemy is still vastly less useful than a couple of trade routes. To me, it has always been much harder to find enough RP than enough GB, and harder to find enough action rounds more than anything else, so turning the hard-to-find stuff into the easy-to-find stuff at a loss just never seemed helpful except in unusual circumstances.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    Patronage from realm rulers. This usually isn’t more than 1-3GB, and is often subject to being cut off in times of war and such. Further, realm rulers tend to want their wizards to do their bidding, taking up on average 1 domain action every season to carry out the regent’s wishes (casting realm spells, doing research, opposing other wizard regents, etc.). This makes most wizard regents more beholden to other regents than anyone but weak vassals.
    Low-level wizard regents *should* be vassals, just as most guild and temple regents should be. High-level wizard regents should have province rulers as *their* vassals, and the landed regent should be glad of it, especially in time of war! Any fighter who stops paying his weapon of mass destruction when the war starts is an idiot. If your high-level wizard gets tired of his land manager, always remember the Subversion realm spell -- which exists in order to force other regents' holdings to take actions of your choosing -- as well as the fact that the Investiture action specifically allows the use of magical compulsion by usual PHB spells. Given the D&D magic system, a wizard of even moderate level (7th to 9th, say) should be able to walk into and take over any realm he wants with just a few Adventure actions -- unless that realm is protected by its own loyal wizard of equal or higher level. Even then, it's hard to avoid the conclusion that PHB spells render conventional warfare obsolete: the Cloudkill adventure spell is an automatic D result on any war card, and a sack full of scrolls of it is much cheaper than the Mass Destruction realm spell. Aelies is a *sixteenth*-level wizard, so he can hardly avoid having the whole southern coast in the palm of his hand, should he want it. In fact, I think the reason the Erebannien is so low-level is that all the Swordwraiths for generations have been geased by him to keep it that way.

  6. #6
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Wizards are supposed to be dependent on other regents to survive, IMO.

    It is part of the reason that there are not a lot of them in the first place.

    Making them be able to stand alone, to me, defeats a lot of the purpose of having certain classes be better at certain things - and promoting cooperation.

    In 2nd ed, a realm regent absolutely needed the cooperation of the local guilder and temple regent to effectively rule his lands. Having a local wizard regent was a handy thing to have too - especially in case of a war.

    A guilder needs the protection of the landed regent's troops and the highways (roads and or ports) in order to make his money.

    A temple regent needs the support of the landed regent for protection and, well to help squash those pesky heritic religions.

    While these roles are lessens somewhat in 3.5 the basic principles still apply - no regent is an island to himself and must get the cooperation of his fellow regents to survive and prosper.

    So I just don't see a real need to mess with the system all that much. Some minor tweaking sure - but nothing so vast as what you are talking about.

    The two biggest things I see needed "adjusting" for source regents are:

    The Alchemy spell - just not efficient enough

    The present rules forcing the source regent to personnally conduct his realm actions - makes having a Lt and/or court sort of a waste for a source regent.

    Other than that IMO things are the way they are supposed to be.
    Duane Eggert

  7. #7
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    Thanks, Irdeggman! I do agree that interdependency among regents is important, but I don't think wizards should be so much more dependent than other domain regents. I'm not going to try to force my philosophy upon you, of course.

    Would your perspective change, however, if you were playing a wizard regent? My argument is based on the observation that, especially if the focus of a game is realm-level play (such as in PBEMs), it's just much harder and not as rewarding to play a wizard. You're much more limited than any other regent type; hence my suggestions to help fix that problem and make them more fun to play.

    To me, BR has always encouraged a mysterious hidden world where wizards compete against their peers over the magic of the land. Well, they don't have much time or resources to, the way the rules are set up. In fact, if they're personally seeing to running their realms, they don't really have any time to do any of that characteristic magical research, and vice versa.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    To me, BR has always encouraged a mysterious hidden world where wizards compete against their peers over the magic of the land. Well, they don't have much time or resources to, the way the rules are set up. In fact, if they're personally seeing to running their realms, they don't really have any time to do any of that characteristic magical research, and vice versa.
    That's pretty much what I meant about high-level wizards having province rulers as their vassals -- as a great humor site I once encountered said, "No true mad scientist actually wants to rule the world; that would take too much time away from doing science! At most, they want to extort a few billion dollars in research funding." That's how I see a good relationship between a landed ruler and his court wizard: the wizard gets someone to take care of all the annoying financial paperwork, and the regent gets a really powerful ally who occasionally comes of out the lab long enough to turn an enemy into a toad.

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    For some reason your first post didn't show up last I checked in, Ryan.

    Your explanations make sense, but they also require a little tweaking of the storylines for BR. I was trying to create a rules system that allowed the story stuff to remain in place.

    For instance, there isn't any mention in the story of wizard regents controlling realm rulers or even other domain rulers as you suggest--though that would be a very interesting modification to the background. Also, in Anuire, I believe only Taeghas and Ilien (aside from the elves) represent wizards that control anything other than sources. So the current background doesn't give wizards much in the way of worldly influence or gold on their own; for them, regency is much easier to come by than gold. It would be tough for them to compete with guilders to make the money necessary, and few temples in Anuire would owe allegiance to them. Good wizards aren't going to go around extorting money and controlling minds, either.

    In a world of little magic, I don't think it's out of place to make what is there powerful. There are inherent limits to the number of human wizards, after all.

    I like hearing your background/philosophy explanations and ways of making wizards work better in BR. When it comes to the rules, though, when you put yourselves in the shoes of a player wizard (and the possibility of multiple player wizards in a game with 20+ players), do you still really think it's as flexible and fun to play them as any other domain? Most people don't enjoy being lapdogs when they play, and unless a wizard is of sufficiently high level (uncommon from what I've seen), it's hard for them not to be.

  10. #10
    Site Moderator kgauck's Avatar
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    The Birthright system ought to be capable of being utilized for a variety of different social orders. The mechanics of the basic system seem better suited to Anuire than they do for Brectur, Khinasi, Rjurik (and I never include the Vos in generalizations because they are too different, but they fit here too).

    I am perfectly content to reverse the assumptions, and argue that any domain should be the liege and any domain should be the vassal. Favoritism of the state strikes me as terribly less interesting than the alternative, and while it might work fine in Anuire (given the color material we have) the notion that the church is dominant in Rjurik, the guilds in Brechtur, and wizards in Khinasi seems to me to be just as plausible. The most fun, it seems to me is a total free for all where everyone can make a bid to be the master and its just not clear how that's gonna work out.

    Assuming, for instance, that cooperation is a desirable goal, presumes a certain style of play, one where PC's run domains and work as a party both at the adventure and domain level. This assumption makes no sense for other styles of play. And, when you don't have an adventuring party to bind the players together, players who think they have the upper hand do tend to treat the other rulers as lapdogs, and as Rowan wrote, "Most people don't enjoy being lapdogs when they play."

    This gets to be especially troublesome when players don't know each other, such as a new gaming group, or a PBeM.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan
    Good wizards aren't going to go around extorting money.
    Taxation is nothing but regularized extortion from a legitimate authority. If your wizard thinks he's the proper authority, he is right to collect whatever he needs, men, money, materials, to govern properly. If your wizard wants to be master, he must be master. Turn other domains into vassals (who wants to run another domain? Even Harald has the good sense to let Darien run his landed domain for him), and remember, a liege is entitled to 20% off the top. Your vassals pay their maintenance and expences after they pay you. You can be merciful when they have a cash crunch, but never give up the principle that you get 20% first. Or, take your 20% and give them back a few GB as a gift. They'll thank you for it.

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