I have a long running fantasy campaign with Savage Worlds and I wonder if the Arcane Background (Magic) is too powerful. The wizard can quickly overwhelm the fighter types with the ease that they hit with range attacks and the amount of damage they dish out. Is this a correct perception and, if it is, what can I do about it?
From my experience (two Savage Worlds campaigns, Empire of Ashes and Legends of Steel), the wizard was the massive heavy artillery without a lot of weak points. The main issue was how easy it was to arrange your Edges so you were never losing Power Points (I forget how our wizard players worked it, but as long as they got a good roll they didn't lose the points). This means the wizard can boost-multi-bolt with impunity.
The way I'd fix it is to just make sure they can't have a huge number of Power Points and that they always spend them when casting, no "keep them on a raise" shenanigans. Then it should be fine – they can do loads of damage, for a few rounds a day.
I'm skeptical about the answer from mxyzplk. The Wizard edge allows you to spend one fewer PP per raise on your spellcasting roll. Even with a d10 in spellcasting, you're not going to score multiple raises very often. Most damage-dealing spells cost 3 or more PP, so even with a raise they're going to burn through their PP fairly quickly.
In general, when any Arcane Background character decides to throw points around, they can do a lot, but then they're pretty underpowered until the points recharge.
I do not think any Arcane Background is too powerful in the Core Rules, not even Magic combined with the Wizard edge. It is true that Wizards are capable to dealing the heaviest blows (like those 3d6 Bolts, or 4d6 with a raise!), but they have big weaknesses that balance out their DMR (damage per round) power:
- Their power points run out quite quickly, even for Wizards with Spellcasting d12. Once they run out of magic, they are mostly a liability. This can happen if they fight many extras, or several fights with no time to recharge power points (1 per hour!).
- Wizards/sorcerers usually have terrible parry and toughness, which means that even lousy extras can cause them wounds or even take them out of the game with a simple arrow. True, they can use powers to increase their parry/toughness, but that takes precious time and power points and does not last very long.
- If they cast a 1 on their Spellcasting die (regardless of the wild die) that is a bennie lost (or become shaken!). Three times as likely if they cast bolts in threes to deal with extras. ;-)
If they were really too powerful all gaming groups would consist just of wizards, and I have never seen it happening. ;-) They strike the hardest blows but they are fragile like glass and brief like a match fire. They are not too powerful.
However, if you go out of the Core Rules and allow edges that grant a bonus to Spellcasting... that may easily break the game.
For high-fantasy games, you can use Shaintar's rules changes. Its take at magic is slightly different to the Core Rules. Among other things, the Wizard Edge is not available to novice characters, and a critical failure (snake-eyes) on Spellcasting can cause a wound.
Yes they are :) I should declare my interest in that I am not a wizard and am playing in the game where Dave is running it. The problem is that wizardy types typically do not run out of power during the normal course of play - in that there are not enough encounters per day to drain them. Yes you can make it so that there are enough encounters, but that doesn't necessarily fit the campaign style. We are seeing wizards killing many multiples of bad guys to the non-wizards, whether from bolt attacks or AoE spells.
That said, it doesn't not necessarily detract from the enjoyment of the game, as it isn't only about blowing up the opposition. There are other ways to have fun, and that is what I have more focused on.