I'm a master doing a Warcraft game for D&D 3.5 and I have 4 players in it. The thing is, none of them want to be a mage/sorcerer/etc. and I want to show them how OP it can be.

What will be my method to show them that? Well, I was thinking in make a villain mage to taste the power of the arcane. The problem is I don't know how to do it. I know a few tricks and the spells in the book, but I want to know if is any posibility to find here some help about how to do it or if it is a better way to show the benefits to play as a spellcaster.

All of this is because my friends came from playing World of Warcraft and they don't like how a mage uses spells in D&D, wanting mana and all that stuff.

The games is the Roll20 D&D 3.5 Warcraft game. I hope this is enough to clarify what manual I'm using for my game. They made a new one years later with all the World of Warcraft stuff, but this one was made before wow and with only the Warcraft 3 (and the previous ones) lore.

I know the first thing for the players is to have fun. I'm always the first saying that and sad seeing a lot of GMs doing the oposite of that. I'm normally really flexible with my players and wanting to create a great time for them with a good story and playing.

The campaign is designed to start at level 6, because in this game (roll20 D&D 3.5 Warcraft rolegame) they center the "gameplay" with the prestige class system and I want to start with all of them having their desired class combination.

The exact thing was one of the players wanted so much being a mage, but he only played World of Warcraft and never before in a roleplay game. When I exposed to him the rules of spells and how magic works in D&D, he hated so much so he changed to a warrior/gladiator(or master of blades, if you are horde). Now, anyone is a mage and I don't want to do a bad guy with spellcasting to overpower them and kill them, I only want to show them with a funny and challenging way what they lost with this tantrum. My desire is listen to that guy saying "Oh, so spellcasters are useful, after all..." or something like this.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Showing the benefits of mage food is out of question? \$\endgroup\$
    – ShadowKras
    May 29, 2018 at 15:19
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    \$\begingroup\$ Welcome to the site! Take the tour. It sounds like this question as it's currently posed is better suited to one of these forums. That is, How can I demonstrate to my players by using an enemy caster that casting spells is awesome? is likely too broad for the site to address. However, maybe with more information about the PCs like their classes, races, levels, and magic items, answers could develop an enemy caster that would prove to your players the strength of casting. Anyway, thank you for participating and have fun! \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2018 at 15:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is this question about the d20 Warcraft RPG, or are you using normal D&D 3.5 and just playing in your own vision of the Warcraft world? \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2018 at 16:56
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this as unclear until we can have clarified for us whether this is Warcraft RPG run for players used to D&D, or D&D 3.5e being run in a Warcraft setting without the RPG. \$\endgroup\$ May 29, 2018 at 17:49
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for clarifying. Sorry for any added hassle as well. Information on the 2003 Warcraft RPG was hard to come by and it looked to me at first like it was not a D&D 3.5e supplement, but a d20 game independent from D&D 3.5e altogether. Now I understand it is a D&D 3.5e supplement manual. Reopened. \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2018 at 8:02

4 Answers 4


First, there are good options for using “mana” in D&D 3.5e! Psionics uses mana power points rather than spell slots, and as a side-benefit, psionics isn’t as broken as magic (it’s still rather potent, especially if you start abusing some of the stupider things in Complete Psionic). And if the psionic flavor doesn’t grab you and you don’t feel like scrubbing it yourself and reflavoring everything, we have Ernir’s excellent translation of spellcasting to psionic mechanics. So if the slots vs. points thing is really the sticking point, you can do that.

Showcasing the Power of Magic

Martini Mage

But if the real concern is proving to your players that magic is the be-all, end-all of power and ability in D&D 3.5e, which it is, then well, I can think of no superior demonstration than the martini mage. Admittedly, he’s also a show-case of some extremely poor decisions on the part of some of his competition, but just for sheer panache, he wins by a landslide.

The martini mage is a semi-infamous character made by Lord_Gareth, mentioned on the giantitp.com forums. Frustrated with his players resistance to his suggestions that magic was actually that powerful, he demonstrated it to them with a special, one-shot arena match.

The eight players each made a 27th-level character. Note that these are epic characters, and the epic rules are broken.

He made a single 17th-level wizard (he started with 20th-level XP, but crafting reduced his level to 17th).

The wizard never moved. He spent his every standard action in the combat sipping his martini.

He killed them all.

The group was:

Monk 27 (The Inscrutable Master Girard): Built for kama use. Convinced that Monks were powerful caster-killers due to all-good saves and spell resistance. Smacked into a violet warding and failed his save, resulting in his transportation to Avernus.

Fighter 17/Kensai 10 (The Duke of Truth and Loss): TWF, convinced his sheer number of attacks > any enemy. Espoused that fighters are versatile due to their many feats. Killed by summoned balor.

Wizard 27 (Kratos): Evocation specialist, banned conjuration and abjuration. Didn't understand why blasting is sub-optimal. Killed by summoned balor.

Swordsage 20/Master of Nine 5/Rogue 2: Focused on Shadow Hand and Diamond Mind, fought with a greatsword. Fairly competent, was tragically killed by a summoned balor.

Bard 27: Tried being a buffamancer, got taken out by a warding that turned him to stone when he tried to charge the wizard.

Cleric 27: Priest of Elhonna, memorized healing spells and summons. Called several animals to the battlefield (that couldn't penetrate the wardings) before being taken out by the summoned balor.

Hexblade 27: "It's magic AND melee, man! You can't beat that!" Except the balor did, to the merry tune of the mage drinking martinis.

Compwar Ex-Samurai 17/Ronin 10: "Class flavor and mechanics aren't separate, man! If you wanna be a samurai you should just play one!" Sadly found that even the fighter did better. Killed by summoned balor.

Noticing a theme here?

13th-level wizard vs. 20th-level fighter

There was a similar show-case (DMed by the same Ernir who translated spellcasting to psionic mechanics above) in which a series of players tried their hand at facing a 13th-level wizard with a 20th-level fighter. Even with lots of high-optimization tricks, the (also well-optimized) wizard could not be beat. Often the wizard would win with no damage taken, no items consumed, and most of their spell slots still intact. Unfortunately, those exhibitions have been largely lost to time.

But really, I recommend psionics here.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Then, I probably will use the psionic mechanic as mana for the game I'm creting... mayby with this variation rule they will see the spellcasters with other eyes. \$\endgroup\$
    – Taoscuro
    May 31, 2018 at 10:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I can't resist +1'ing this rare pro-psionics answer from you, good sir. Plus it's a great suggestion for the question at hand. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    May 31, 2018 at 16:23
  • \$\begingroup\$ @nijineko ...“rare” pro-psionics answer? I have literally been paid to write psionics material for Pathfinder, and I’m one of the people at Dreamscarred Press with the strongest opinions about and love for psionics. I hate Complete Psionic since it’s about 95% awful trash (how many ____ Mind Blade feats do we need?), and I’m fairly negative about Athas.org’s material, but Expanded Psionics Handbook is easily among the top-3 best-designed sourcebooks for 3.x. (Tome of Battle and Magic of Incarnum are the other two.) \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 31, 2018 at 17:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ @KRyan Ah, that would explain the seeming negativity. Yes, I was aware that you write Dreamscarred third party material. However, as I do not use Pathfinder material as it has become what they sought to fix, nor do I use third party material (say what you will about Athas, but until WotC revokes the co-ownership clause, it's still first-party); so I find myself at an unfortunate impasse. Also, I only run into you via your posts here on the rpg.se, annnnnnd most of them are very negative about psi, or rather, about the sourcebooks - I now stand corrected. \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    May 31, 2018 at 22:03
  • \$\begingroup\$ Hopefully, Dreamscarred will release their own 1st party psi-campaign setting. Having said that, maybe I should wander over and check their current lineup. Any chance of Dreamscarred releasing 3.x material instead of Pathfinder, or perhaps releasing a unique psi-based rpg? \$\endgroup\$
    – nijineko
    May 31, 2018 at 22:05

Remember that your goal, when you are the Dungeon Master, is to run a fun adventure.

It's dangerous to create a villain with the goal of "show the players how powerful this villain is", because that could lead to your villain beating the party badly, and then you're like "see? wizards are powerful!" and they're like "I'm not having fun".

If you're interested in how to build an effective wizard, the Treantmonk Wizard Guide has some good stuff in it. This guide is from the perspective of the player characters, though! For an NPC wizard the rules are different, because you can give your NPC as many levels and resources as you want, but you have to make sure that it loses the battle in a fun way.

If you want your players to be spellcasters, one approach might be to use the gestalt characters rules and tell them that one of their classes has to be a full spellcaster.

The thing to know about spellcasting characters in 3.5 is that they care a lot about the number of battles per day. If you just do one battle each day, then spellcasting characters can use all their spells very aggressively and be very powerful. If you do lots of battles per day, then most of the time your spellcasting characters will have to conserve their magic and they won't be as effective. You might have to do some experimentation to figure out how many battles per day leads to the right balance.

The other thing to know -- well, the phrase is "linear fighters, quadratic wizards". At very low levels, spellcasters are pretty weak, especially if you're considering an Adventuring Day and not some sort of made-up arena battle scenario. At higher levels, spellcasters become very strong. I'm assuming that you're running at lower levels here (less than five) -- otherwise the answer becomes "spellcasters are just better".

  • \$\begingroup\$ I claryfied a lot of things with my last edit in my question to all you said here. You are absolute right in all. And I think one thing of the spellcasters I like in d&d is the unknow about how many and what they will face and if is optiman to spend spells in one combat on in another... but mayby this is a wrong vision about master a game with spellcasters. \$\endgroup\$
    – Taoscuro
    May 30, 2018 at 7:31
  • \$\begingroup\$ Oh, and I'm already a big fan of the Treantmonk guides. I was playing a few months ago a game and I was a mage. I read the manual of that sire and I juste love it. Thank you again for such a good recomendation! \$\endgroup\$
    – Taoscuro
    May 30, 2018 at 8:43

All of this is because my friends came from playing World of Warcraft and they don't like how a mage uses spells in D&D, wanting mana and all that stuff.

There are many kinds of mage-like classes in D&D, and not all use the "Vancian Magic" mechanics.

Psionics, notably, very much use "Mana" (called Power Points), the quintessential example being the Psion:

  • They have a single reserve of Power Points, regardless of how many different Psionic classes they use.
  • They can cast any spell (Power) than they know, providing they have enough Power Points left.
  • They can "boost" Powers in specific ways by spending more Power Points than the base cost as well as using Meta-Psionic feats.

And if you are open to homebrew content, you may be interested in From Vancian To Psionic, a complete rework of the Vancian classes to adapt to the Psionic system. Be aware, though, than being homebrew means that it is not as compatible with existing material (so published feats/items/prestige classes may not work as well).

  • \$\begingroup\$ It's a good solution, but the problem is in the game we are using the the Psion do not exist. We have the Rune master (and one of the players is one of them), but is not the same, because it is a combination of the classical monk of d&d 3.5 with a few tricks. \$\endgroup\$
    – Taoscuro
    May 30, 2018 at 7:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Taoscuro Similar thing for classic characters. Its official while still only a variant. \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2018 at 10:05
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    \$\begingroup\$ @annoyingimp The official variant is atrocious. Please don’t recommend it, at least without a warning. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    May 30, 2018 at 15:06
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Taoscuro Never really tried it I just know it is there. So I can't say if it is bad or good. \$\endgroup\$ May 30, 2018 at 16:32

You've got the right idea - give the player(s) a taste of the arcane.

But instead of a villain mage, why not take a leaf out of the book of video games and let them demonstrate first hand just how entertaining (and powerful!) magic can be? This is a variant on a more general strategy I've had used in games I've played in, where with players new to casting the DM was especially generous with rests to encourage players to just fire off their spells willy nilly and get a feel for how they could be powerful.

Pick out a low level crowd-pleaser and hand it to the players as a generously supplied (read: overpowered) magic item. At-Will if it's a sufficiently low level one. Then give them opportunities to abuse it thoroughly.

For example, hand out the 'Rod of Slipperiness' that casts Grease whenever you point it at something and say 'Banana Peel'. Give the lucky player the spell entry to have on the table, then have the party fight a bunch of big clumsy brutes with big unwieldy weapons. Let them cackle with glee as they send whole gangs of thugs sliding around the battlefield, their weapons flying out of their hands as they struggle to engage the party.

Give the players a few of these and let them enjoy themselves. With any luck, they'll decide they like them and make them favourite items - and you can slowly reintroduce the idea of spell-casting and casting stats to scale with and so on.


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