Treantmonk’s Guide to Wizards, Being a god (5th edition)
Update: 2020: Guide updated by TomFinn to match videos
Treantmonk on YouTube
A note about style: First off should be my note about style, hopefully before all the players of other classes out there get all upset. Throughout this guide my tongue is planted squarely in my cheek, and yes, I can be a cheeky monkey. Also, this is by and large an opinion paper, so I will be expressing opinion regularly. I will be expressing it strongly, but yes, you are entitled to disagree.
If you do, by all means let me know in the comments and we can have a discussion if you desire. In the comments section you
will find me far less opinionated than you find the style of this guide.
This guide is written from the point of view of a wizard, but not just any wizard, a snobbish bookworm, "I am the greatest" wizard.
Treantmonk himself plays other classes too. Wizard is my favorite, but I really do...honest.
Find all my content in one place:
The “god” wizard: An introduction
I’ve told this story before, but here it is again. A player in a D&D group I belonged to invited me to join another group he ran with another group of friends. The group was playing a “killer” campaign and the party had been TPK’d and character individual deaths were rampant and he figured they could use another player. He told me to build an optimized character.
What he neglected to mention was that this group did not optimize their characters, so when I arrived with my Goliath charge-build, I overshadowed the rest of the fighter-types in the group entirely. Nevertheless, the party sorcerer died in one of the fights. I felt really bad and retired the character at the end of the session and promised to build something less dominating.
I had an idea how I could help the group without dominating the action, and I came back with a Wizard character. In the first combat, I was encouraged to use my fireball, and the group was quite confused when I told them that I didn’t have Fireball, lightning bolt or even magic missile. I still remember the DM asking me, “So what DO you do then?” When I explained I would be putting up walls, fogs, buffing, debuffing, etc. My character was declared “useless”
A couple months of playing and my character did not directly cause a single HP of damage to an enemy, nor did he use a single “save or die”. The campaign completed, and since my wizard was introduced, not a single character had died.
What I found really surprising is that everyone in the group still considered my character “useless”. Not a single player seemed to notice that my character had been introduced at the same time that the party death-toll had stopped. They had thought the campaign had become “easier” during the second half.
This was something I found absolutely terrific and I was inspired to write my first Wizard guide: Treantmonk’s Guide to Wizards, being a god (3.5).
What I find myself constantly explaining is that “being a god” doesn’t mean godlike power. I chose the name based on Greek Myths, where a god would get some hapless mortal to do their dirty work, merely interfering by magic to ensure that the hero always had the advantage. This is what a god wizard is, a wizard who lets the rest of the party have the glory, but subtly ensures through Battlefield Control, Buffing and Debuffing that the party always achieves victory.
I’ve since softened my view on blast spells, and I assure you my Wizards once again hurl fireballs and the like, but it’s not their primary focus. The primary focus in 5e remains the same as it did in editions past: Provide tactical advantage to the team.
And with that...on to the guide:
BEHOLD THE WIZARD. BEWARE HIS POWERS. UNSPEAKABLE POWERS!
The Party Roles:
Anyone reading this who has not been playing D&D over the past thirty years may not know that there are some
fairly "official" party roles that date back to the original basic set. They are Fighter, Thief, Magic User and Cleric. The idea is that
the Cleric heals, the Fighter takes hits and does damage, the Thief opens locks, disarms traps and backstabs, and the Magic User
throws magic missiles and fireballs. These roles are every bit as outdated as Basic D&D itself, yet you still see players flocking to
"fill" these roles, thinking that this remains the most effective party, despite a game that resembles Basic D&D cosmetically only.
How many times have you gotten/sent an email when wondering what kind of character you could make, and a reply comes up with something like, "We have a Rogue, a Druid and a Sorcerer." The implication of course is, "Make a fighter-type", but in fact, the email is useless. Is the Rogue a melee rogue or an archery rogue? Is the Druid going to be engaging in melee? What kind of spells will the Sorcerer have? Maybe the best thing for this party is a Wizard, or another rogue...who knows?
Instead the email should say, "In combat we've got a Tank, a Striker and a Battlefield Controller, another Tank would be great. Out of combat we need a party face. How about some kind of Melee character with some social skills?" Characters are too flexible in D&D to define role by class. Instead the role should be defined by what they do.
The mechanics of the game changed enough in 3.0 that the optimal party changed with them, yet many players never realized that
the iconic party is no longer optimal, so we still see Wizards throwing blast spells, and Clerics running around healing, wondering why they can't heal as fast as the party seems to take damage.
The reality is that D&D isn't all combat, but combat plays a major role in pretty much every campaign. Therefore you can break
party roles into two major categories. The "out of combat" roles, and the "combat" roles. Let's look at how the God Wizard fits into
For a more in depth analysis of how wizards generally could fit into these roles, check out my YouTube video on the subject.
5 OUT OF COMBAT ROLES:
Social ("The Fop"): Can the wizard fill this role? Well if you specialize in enchantment kinds of spells, then you very well might be able to, but, you shouldn't. First, you aren't the best choice to fill this role, and secondly, this guy tends to think he's the leader, do you know what happens to the leader? He gets targeted first. Let the Paladin, Sorcerer or Bard take this role. Pretend you're jealous.
Sneak ("The Corpse"): Can the wizard fill this role? Well you may very well be good at stealth, and thieves tools is an easy proficiency to get, furthermore, you can emulate some of the requirements with spells, but, you shouldn't. The purpose of the Sneak is to scout out ahead in the enemy’s lair, look for traps and disarm them, scout out the enemy and report back, and do this all alone. Wonder why I call him "the Corpse"? Read what he does again.
Healbot ("The Gimp"): Can the wizard fill this role? Not really, but don't worry, you don't want it. The party Gimp gets to use up all his resources "servicing" the party between combats. Sound pleasant? That's why he's the gimp. In reality, this role is optional in 5e. WIth short rests and any number of healing abilities, you should get along fine without.
The Lump ("The lump"): I can't think of another name for him. He's the character of the player that made his character specifically for combat, and is really uninterested whenever he's not rolling his attack rolls. He makes the best use of his time when not in combat by snoozing, or reading a novel, or making it very clear to the DM that he's bored. You DEFINITELY don't want to be this guy.
Utility Caster ("Everything else"): The party transporter, the party Diviner. One way or another - this is the casters' role - in other words - this is you.
That's pretty much it. A party should look to cover all those bases (except the lump, but all too often it gets filled regardless, and often a single character can fill more than one (The party Bard may be the Fop, the Corpse and the Gimp...lucky guy), but let's be honest here, D&D is largely about combat, so even if you have a character that is the Fop, the Corpse, the Gimp and the Utility Caster, if you aren't contributing to combat, then you are a liability to your party, because when characters die, it's usually in combat.
The Four Combat Roles:
The Tank: ("The Big Stupid Fighter"):
This role involves two things: Doing Hit Points damage to BBEG (big bad evil guy), forcing BBEG to attack you with his vicious weaponry. The Big Stupid Fighter is not always a fighter (though stereotypically he is). He may be a Barbarian, a Paladin, or even a Druid. In order to qualify as a Big Stupid Fighter he should be any character that actively tries to be the target of enemy attacks. For those who wonder why I would label this character as "stupid" regardless of their INT score - reread the previous sentence.
The Striker: ("The Glass Cannon"):
This role involves one thing: Doing HP damage to BBEG. The Glass Cannon is like the Big Stupid Fighter except she does not want to take damage. Usually this is not due to superior intelligence - but instead due to inferior HP or AC (or in most cases - both). The Glass Cannon is often a Rogue (Or Rouge for our 13 year old readers), a Ranger, a Warlock or a Sorcerer.
The controller of reality: ("GOD"):
When reality would entail the above two meeting a rather messy end - someone will need to make some adjustments to said reality in order for the above two to instead meet glorious victory. What other label could such a force be labelled as than "God"? Well - how abo