Putting the magic back into 4E D&D


One of my recent adventures in writing for games was for ENWorld, one of the most popular D&D and role playing game web sites. I got the assignment on a freelance writing board and my work is being published as a series of articles to promote ENWorld’s premium subscription service.


It’s called, I want my magic back!


The idea for the series was not mine, but the site owner, Russell Morrissey. The mission is to create a class in 4th edition D&D that works like and casts spells like those in earlier editions of the game. To do this the first article outlines a new class called the Vancian mage which memorizes spells much like the wizards and magic users of earlier editions. The bulk of the work is converting all the older spells into a form that works with the 4E rules, but which still feel true to their roots.


Mechanically the challenge has been to try and keep this new class roughly balanced with the other classes in 4E while using a dramatically different mechanic for acquiring and using powers which themselves fall outside the normal range of effects. I’ve also taken it upon myself to try and improve some on the classics and in some cases invent a few new spells to balance out the schools of magic in terms of utility and selection.


Stylistically the series makes pains to give the spells names and descriptions that evoke a more imaginative and less mechanical “feel.” Honestly, the styling goes beyond what you will find in the older editions. In this series every spell name lists its author and tries to be as evocative as it is descriptive. Spell descriptions are often written in character, as if the creator of the spell were describing it to a prospective student. Here is an example…


Wigglefoot Jr’s Involuntary Naptime                                             Rank 1
A little something I created to get my nephews to settle down so I could continue my readings but it’s surprisingly useful in combat and for very awkward social situations. A few soothing words and a pinch of sand is all you need.
School: Enchantment            Traits: Arcane, Implement, Charm, Sleep
Standard Action                    Range: 10 squares
Target: One Creature
Attack: Intelligence vs. Fortitude
Hit: Targets become dazed (save ends). If the first save is failed they fall prone and fall asleep for one hour. Sleeping targets are awakened when they take damage or if an adjacent ally wakes them with a standard action.


If you want to check it out, you can either subscribe to ENWorlds premium service or pick up the individual articles on Drive-Through RPG. The subscription is $3 per month and gets you various goodies while the articles are $2 a piece.

Fair warning: the art and layout on these pdf’s are pretty simple and not really to my aesthetic tastes, but I think the actual content is fun and if you subscribe to ENWorld you are supporting a good community site and get lots of other goodies there.


Game fans stay tuned… I’ve got some really cool Pathfinder stuff coming out soon from Open Design I can’t wait to crow about!



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