AD&D to 5E: Learning Curve

06 Jan

I really stepped out of my comfort zone with the character I decided to play in Josh’s Icewind Dale campaign. I had never played a magic-user wizard before in my life. I had always played dwarven fighters or human rangers. I have discovered there is a learning curve to learning appropriate spell use.

Bad Spell Choice:

We were confronted by a party of dwarf bandits. I decided to open the fray with a Thunderwave spell. I said “You gents need to learn some manners!” and struck the ground with the butt of my staff as I cast the spell…not necessary, or even a part of the spell casting requirements, but a showy touch.

It would have been an impressive lead-in if it had worked: they would have all taken damage and been pushed ten feet back. However, they made a Save vs. CON. Dwarves. Their CON is 16. How could The Dwarf have not considered that?!

They made their save, and I rolled crappy on damage, so they only took half of that meager number.

So…I said, “You gents need to learn some manners!” and struck the ground with the butt of my staff as I cast the spell. A blast weak ripple went out that they did not even notice. The leader snarled, “What the hell was that?!” and proceeded to attack.

Good Spell Choice:

We were in some mines, and zombies were swarming at us from down two corridors. My go-to spell…Burning Hands. Turned out to be a smart choice. Targets in the flame cone make a Save vs. DEX. Zombies aren’t very agile, with a DEX of only 6. Full damage is 3D6. Yeah…that one was a good choice.

Oh…and another difference between AD&D and 5E: The concept of individual spells, versus spell slots.

IIRC, in AD&D, magic-users had a certain number of spell slots, and memorized one spell for each slot. When the magic-user used that spell, it was gone. You had to memorize a spell several times simultaneously to reuse any spells.

In 5E, you still have a certain number of spell slots, and you can only memorize a certain number of spells that fill those slots. However, when you cast a spell, you have used the spell slot, not your one-time use of the spell. For instance, in the Zombie example above, the Burning Hands spell is a first level spell. In AD&D, if I had used the spell, that spell was gone until I studied it again. I couldn’t have used that spell twice unless I’d had the foresight to memorize it twice.

In 5E, what gets used is the spell slot. I tallied off one 1st level spell slot. There were still zombies pouring out the corridor, so I was able to use Burning Hands again, and tallied off a second 1st level spell slot.

I way prefer magic in 5E.


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