Thursday, July 17, 2014
Wishes in Dungeons & Dragons
I'm going to take a look at wishes in various editions. But first, real quick, I want to tell you about what lead to this article.
I ran the 4e game again with the group who has a 2e deck of many things. The deck has completely altered the campaign, which is now about the ramifications of using the deck and people trying to get the deck from the heroes.
We had a new player jump in, and he was great. He had a fantastic attitude toward the game. He drew a single card from the Deck of Many Things, and actually got Moon. This meant he got one wish. We talked a bit and he asked if there was a way he could wish for the ability to grant more wishes. I thought about it. You can't just have a PC in a game give out wishes. The whole campaign will be over! The PCs will be invincible gods.
But.. I thought... "what if there was a roll attached?" Here's the deal I gave him:
2. When a wish is made, he rolls a d20. A high number means the wish is pretty much granted. A low roll means the wish is twisted in some horrible way!
3. If he hears anyone say "I wish blablhblah", it is immediately granted. I told the group that this counted in real life, too. If any player sitting at the table said "I wish..." out loud, that counted in-game! I warned them to be careful.
What resulted was more insanity. The main thing that happened was that, while discussing a town that knew the heroes had the deck and were sending thieves to snatch it, a player said out loud: "I wish everyone would forget we had the deck of many things."
Poof! The heroes and everyone in the world forgot!
The heroes obviously noticed this magic deck in their possession soon after. To their credit (supreme credit, really) they role-played it. They said, "Hey! A deck of cards! Let's play blackjack!"
And so they played blackjack with a deck of many things! A treasured NPC lost his mustache forever, and the new player's soul was sent to a dimensional prison - a cruel punishment to a player who added so much to the game.
So we talked it over, and the next session will be about the heroes going to rescue his soul. How they put the soul back in his body is a question I don't have the answer to.
The deck is completely driving the game. It has built-in hooks that are basically running the campaign for me. It is funny. These sessions feel more like "D&D" than anything I've run in a really long time.
One thing I need to do now is to read up on wishes, so that I can run them in a fair and fun way. So let's take a look, shall we?
AD&D 1st Edition
It urges the DM to twist the request in the name of "game balance". I dunno, if you are that worried about it, why even put it in the game?
In the Dungeon Master's Guide, there is a note on page 11 about using wishes to raise ability scores. To curb abuse, the DMG says that a wish only increases a stat of 16 or higher by... one-tenth of a point. So it takes 10 wish spells to go from 16 to 17, etc.
A little further in, it is noted that casting limited wish ages you one year, and casting wish ages you 3 years! Couldn't you just wish to be younger, though?
In the entry on the ring of multiple wishes, it again warns the DM: "If players are greedy and grasping, be sure to "crack" them. Interpret their wording exactly, twist the wording...". It just seems like they shouldn't have called it "wish" at all. Maybe they should have just had a limited wish as a 9th level spell and left it at that.
AD&D 2nd Edition
In the Player's Handbook, the wish spell is virtually identical.
In the DMG, it again goes with the "one-tenth of a point" rule for raising stats 16 and up. The ring of multiple wishes also has the "greedy and grasping" entry. I didn't realize how much of 2e was cut and pasted.
In The Complete Wizard's Handbook there is a section discussing wishes. It gives some general guidelines:
- A wish for treasure yields 1,000 - 10,000 gp.
- It can heal 45-70 hit points
- It can destroy one creature within sight of 10 hit dice or less.
Then there is a not-so-charming list of things the DM can do in certain situations:
- Character wishes for a castle: It appears in mid-air and crashes to the ground, reduced to rubble.
- Character wishes to never suffer damage: The character turns into a stone statue.
- Wishes can't affect the past or future.
- Wishes can't make you a prince or bestow a title on you.
- Wishes cannot alter the true feelings of a creature. Alignments can't be changed. You can befuddle someone and charm them, but you can't wish for true love (how depressing).
- Wishes can't make magic items out of thin air. They are plucked from somewhere in existence.
Fun Fact: A wish granted by a Fire Genie is reviewed by the genie's superiors in the City of Brass. The genie must prove that the wish was granted against its' will and that it proved its' innate superiority by turning the wish against the wisher.
This just in: Secrets of the Lamp is awesome.
D&D 3rd Edition
The SRD has a nice rundown of the wish spell.
The wish spell can replicate the effects of spells of level 7 or maybe 8. It can add one stat point. It can create non-magic items worth up to 25,000 gp. How much does a fortress cost?
I understand that wish is obviously game-breaking device. It seems like they shouldn't bother with it at all if they are going to limit it so much.
There is an old article on wizards.com about wishes.
Is that true? That's crazy.
Basically, the jist of the article is that the DM should tell the players up front what wishes can and can't do.
Wish is the ultimate spell. The character has to be around, what, 16th level to cast it? 18th? These limitations seem pretty extreme to me! I understand that the game is easily broken by wish spells being cast left and right but come on... one stat point? Or one-tenth of a stat point? It's called WISH.
I will continue to experiment with it in my game. I've had to put the kibosh on a few things already, like wishing for more wishes (though I sort of allowed that). I would balk at the idea of them wishing themselves to be 20th level (partly because that makes no sense in the context of the game, and partly because there's nowhere to go after that).
I like the idea of running with a campaign where the PC can make wishes and then deal with the ramifications. I'll let you know how it goes.