dungeons and dragons is 30!

It’s the 30th anniversary of Dungeons and Dragons today. In honour of the date, we’re having a session over at Gerry’s house. The other hard core gamers were strongly typecast during their days at watsfic, and so the party ended up needing a mage (and a cleric) to complete the set. So I volunteered to be the mage. Oops…

It occured to me after we’d created a character that I’ve never actually played a D&D magic user before. We’ve always replaced the D&D magic system with Spell Law. It never made sense to me that you had to “memorize” spells to cast them (and if you wanted to cast them more than once, you had to “memorize” them more than once!. The most recent D20 explanation at least makes some logical sense, although it still doesn’t mesh with my personal opinions on magic.

I started reading science fiction and fantasy in the early 1980s; a teacher handed me “A Fall of Moondust” by Arthur C. Clarke and I was hooked :-). I quickly formed my own mental model of magic, and it aligns fairly well with the Rolemaster magic system (then Spell Law, part of xLaw). You either know a spell or you don’t, and with practice you get better (and faster) at casting it. As you use magic you get tired, and as you get tired you start to make mistakes. You can cast spells gagged and restrained, its just really hard. And so on…

Spell Law made a lot more sense to me then (and still does :-), which is probably why I’m currently in two Rolemaster campaigns, playing mages in both. So it should be interesting to play D&D magic for a change…

Happy Anniversary!

Update: I had a lot of fun. We consumed vast quantities of pop and Doritos, told way too many puns, and it only took us two hours to get out of the inn! We even made it two rooms farther into the dungeon than the party Gerry ran the evening before…

On the other hand, I still dislike D&D mages, especially at low level; they’re wimps!

posted at 12:57 am on Sunday, October 17, 2004 in Gaming | Comments (3)


  1. Greg Wilson says:

    I played my first game of D&D in Grade 9, when a supply teacher at the high school showed it to some of us. His name was Mister Scales, and wherever he is, I’d like to thank him for all the hours I’ve spent fleeing monsters, being crushed by falling rocks, and having my soul sucked out of my body by dread gleaners (don’t ask). Sure, today’s systems make more sense… but so what? Remember how it felt to be 12 years old and swinging a really big ax?

  2. wjr says:

    I’ve been playing a D&D sorceror in a campaign, and they’re a lot of fun. None of the stupid memorising stuff – you have a list of spells that you know, and if you haven’t used up your quota for the day you can cast any of them you feel like. You can also cast them a lot more often than wizards (classic-style mages) can. The downside is that they’re ALL you can cast, and your list isn’t very long. Still, I end up doing a substantial fraction of the damage dealt out by the party, in my role as lightning-bolt artillery.

    This campaign is also much higher-level (average is 14th right now) – I agree that being a first-level mage sucks. “OK, I’ve cast my Magic Missile. Now I go and hide in a corner for the rest of the day and protect my wimpy 4HP body”.

  3. Harald says:

    Yup; I like the sorceror concept (My character is actually multi-class wizard/sorceror; we found that to be the optimal solution to providing magical support in a one-shot adventure).

    That’s the main difference in Spell Law that I like. Casting is based on “power points”, similar to a sorceror’s quota; again, no memorising stuff. You still have a limited list of spells that you know, but it’s larger, especially at first level. Casting takes longer, but that seems to balance out in most combat and you get faster with experience.

    I’ll have to try a higher level Sorceror sometime, though!

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