Exploring Eberron: All aboard the Hogwarts express

Justin Olivetti
J. Olivetti|08.13.10

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Exploring Eberron: All aboard the Hogwarts express
So you want to be a wizard, eh? Whoa, whoa, not so fast there young whippersnapper! Just because you've lived under the stairs your whole life and can talk to snakes doesn't mean that you're the "chosen" anything around here. Wizardry is a dangerous profession, to be sure, and if a Beholder doesn't eat you alive, you'll most likely melt your own face off with a misplaced acid spray. Maybe you'd be better off going with a... simpler class, like a barbarian or janitor.

No? Spells and glory is where it's at, you say? Fine. I'll teach you a few tricks, but don't go crying to mommy when the dark arts claim your soul just because you forgot to bring your eye of newt to the fight.

Might as well come in, then, and I'll show you a thing or two about starting your own wizard before you jump into your first dungeon to fight your first dragon. Maybe you'll even clear the wax out of your ears enough so that you'll survive past the initial day, eh? I can always dream, I suppose. So let's get started!
So why should I play a wizard?

While wizards are some of the oldest and most iconic Dungeons & Dragons staples, they don't get no respect in this day and age. Kids. Always wanting the flashy, newer model. Hmph. Plenty of spark left in the wizard, let me tell you.

On the surface it doesn't look all that appealing, of course: Wizards lack the spell point pool of sorcerers; they're as squishy as they come; they aren't seen as being as essential to a group makeup as healers or tanks; and they kill (at the beginning) relatively slowly. Heck, squirt, you're going to be using wands almost exclusively for the first few levels due to a lack of awesome spells and your weak pool of magic.

Sure, you may be tempted to skip past the crusty wizard, but let me tell you -- it's one of the most fun classes you'll ever play in DDO. The wizard is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades profession, perfect for those who want to do a lot of everything, instead of just a few measly actions over and over. If the sorcerer is a glass cannon pumping out huge damage with a small range of spells, the wizard is a Swiss army knife of utility, flinging out spells for any given situation, and swapping tools in and out as needed. Wizards also trump sorcerers when it comes to gaining spells a level earlier, not to mention boasting a better ability to land spells when casting.

A wizard is treasured in groups for his variety. One minute he could be buffing the party to survive the adventure ahead, the next he could be opening a secret door with a word, and the next he could be controlling the field of combat with crowd control. A good wizard knows what to expect in each dungeon and studies up on the right spells for the right situation. Wizards also multiclass reasonably well, and it's not uncommon to see wizard/fighter, wizard/rogue or other combinations out there.

Because wizards are both relatively simple to create stat-wise (load up on CON and INT) and forgiving with your spell arrangements (since you can experiment with different spells), the wizard is perfect for a first-timer who wants a class with which he or she can grow old.

The wizard also kills things with fire. Lots and lots of fire. You like fire, don't you? You do, you little pyromaniac. That's OK -- your secret is safe with me.

Which race should I pick?

What do you mean, which race should you pick? You're telling me that, right now, you're no race whatsoever? How is that even possible? Whatever, it's a weird world.

A wizard's race is not a decision to make lightly, as it impacts everything for you from that point forward. While all races are feasible, there are some better suited to arcane magicks, so take your time before leaping into the skin that you'll be wearing for the rest of your career.

Humans are a decent, all-around choice. There's nothing that stands out about them, except that they get a bonus feat upon character creation. Add that to your normal level one feat and your special wizard feat, and there's no way you can be de-feated.


Drow could be an option, to be sure. They offer a nice bonus to INT and are often called "the poor man's 32-point build," as they come stacked with 32 points total for a nominal fee (or no fee at all, if you obtain the race via favor in game). However, they're pretty squishy as it is, and when you couple that with the wizard lifestyle, you can expect to take a lot of dirt naps as a result.

Most players, by far, prefer warforged for the class, and I'll tell you why. It's all about a catchy little phrase: self-healing. Since wizards can learn the Repair Damage spell line, a warforged wizard can easily heal himself without worrying about the attention span of a nearby cleric who may or may not be picking her nose. (Pro tip: Purchase reconstruct scrolls and save yourself the spell points!) Warforged also get a slew of immunities, free underwater breathing, and a couple addition points in CON.

If you like self-healing but hate the look of the warforged, a quirky choice is to go with a dragonmarked halfling. The healing dragonmarks may cost you a few feats to obtain, but some players swear that it's totally worth it. Plus, you get to play the coolest-looking race in the game. All wizards love to be fashionable.

What spells should I choose at the start?

While it's true that a wizard's power blooms later in life after the onset of puberty, that doesn't mean he's completely useless at the start. It's just that you're going to have to be content with low-key exhibitions of magic until you build up to building-exploding awesomeness.

Unless you're a complete knucklehead -- you're not, are you? -- then spend some time swapping out spells between dungeon runs to get a feel for what each does. DDO has a crapton of spells, and not all of them are equal. On the contrary, there are several duds or highly situational spells that are usually better off left at home. And while some of your spells will be acquired either from leveling or from a vendor, you're eventually going to need to hunt for scrolls in the world so that you can inscribe new spells into your book.

To help you out before I head off for my nap (teaching the young is a tiring endeavor), I've put together a quick list of what I consider to be the ten most helpful spells in the first couple levels:

1. Web -- Web not only makes you feel like Spider-Man (ffwip!), but locks down creatures in a large area if they fail a reflex save. This is terrific to keep mobs from ganging up on your party, allowing you to take them out at your leisure.

2. Charm Person -- This turns an enemy humanoid into a temporary ally, who can be used either as an opener or to turn the tide of battle in your favor. Also called "the pink triangle effect." Be warned: Some players hate Charm Person (as it keeps them from killing the mob in question) and get angry when it's used excessively. Make sure that you drag the ability to dismiss this spell to your hotbar before using.

3. Repair Light Damage -- This is useless if you're not a warforged and there are no robots in the group, but if there are, then you'll be much loved. It turns you into a very specialized healer, and clerics, bards and favoured souls will appreciate not having to heal warforged players (especially since normal heals have a lessened effect on them).

4. Summon Monster -- Summons used to be laughable, but with the recent patch, they're suddenly worth considering. They've been beefed up, and wizards can improve their abilities even further. At a low cost of a handful of spell points, you get a lot of additional DPS (think of summons as a traveling DOT machine) for 10 minutes or more.

5. Feather Fall -- Feather Fall, either as a spell, scroll, wand or item, is an essential adventuring tool. You won't believe the number of times this comes in handy -- and it's fun, too!

6. Magic Missile -- One of the most famous D&D spells, Magic Missile may not blow you over when you first use it, but it'll grow on you, especially when you realize that it automatically hits mobs. It'll also grow with you as well, as you get additional projectiles per cast as you level up.

7. Blur -- A 20% chance for enemies to miss you when they attack. What's not to love?

8. Hypnotism -- This is a soft lock (meaning that it stuns enemies, but will wear off the second an enemy is hit) that you can cast on an entire group of mobs as a terrific opener. Great for keeping a few bad guys out of action until your party is ready to deal with them.

9. Mage Armor -- Mage Armor works great at early levels, giving you +4 AC for a nice armor boost. Unfortunately, it doesn't stack with other AC bonuses, so its utility is lessened over time.

10. Knock -- Don't have a rogue in your group? With a well-timed Knock spell, you'll be the hero of the hour, ushering your party into that secret room or opening that locked chest with a fancy wave of your hand.

Now buzz off and leave me alone!
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