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View Full Version : Where did the idea that spellcasters BLAST come from?



Gavinfoxx
2011-02-02, 03:05 PM
I'm trying to figure out where the meme that spellcasters were supposed to BLAST came from. Gandalf didn't blast. Neither did Merlin. Lots of people who had magic in this or that literature mostly did curses and rituals and stuff.

From what I understand, in the early editions, blasting was, in general, better than it usually is in 3e, but the earlier editions still had lots of "I win" buttons that weren't blasting spells-- they just needed to be protected by the melee guys to use them, unlike in 3e.

So where did the idea that what a wizard should be doing is blasting stuff and blowing stuff up COME FROM?

WarKitty
2011-02-02, 03:08 PM
Most adventurers are pyromaniacs.

erikun
2011-02-02, 03:12 PM
Well, D&D was roughly based on a wargame in early editions, and most wargames have the equilivant of artillery: units that can't move fast and get torn apart in close combat, but offer a devistating advantage on offense. And the early D&D fireballs were devistating, not allowing saves or dealing full damage in ambush.

I seem to recall Merlin blasting once or twice, or at least calling down lightning. A lot of ritualists from various cultures were said to have control over destructive aspects of nature, and there are plenty of gods who could toss around balls of fire or hurl lightning. Remember that the original class was simply a "Magic-User", not specifically a wizard. It would be reasonable for them to have a variety of different magic available. Even in later versions of AD&D, you had the Mage (muttering arcane rituals for magical effects) and the Priest (praying to gods for miracles) as your only two spellcasters.

FMArthur
2011-02-02, 03:14 PM
HP damage is conceptually the simplest, most direct route to killing foes and winning encounters. It is also the thing that almost every other class is concerned with to the exclusion of all else when played at a very basic level. Healbot clerics come from the same thinking.

Cyrion
2011-02-02, 03:14 PM
While neither Merlin nor Gandalf were blasters, other myths and legends and folklore has blasters. If you want to go way back, Zeus and Thor were both blasters, and the horn that leveled the walls of Jericho was definitely blasty. Many curses are also described as kind of blasty.

Translating magic into gaming, a blast spell is probably the simplest mechanic: cast the spell, do X damage. It's neat, quantifiable and standardizable, and something that you can easily translate into relative power levels as you try to create a class/power system with some pretense at balance.

Eorran
2011-02-02, 03:14 PM
I'm trying to figure out where the meme that spellcasters were supposed to BLAST came from. Gandalf didn't blast. Neither did Merlin. Lots of people who had magic in this or that literature mostly did curses and rituals and stuff.

From what I understand, in the early editions, blasting was, in general, better than it usually is in 3e, but the earlier editions still had lots of "I win" buttons that weren't blasting spells-- they just needed to be protected by the melee guys to use them, unlike in 3e.

So where did the idea that what a wizard should be doing is blasting stuff and blowing stuff up COME FROM?

Some call me...Tim?

Greenish
2011-02-02, 03:15 PM
Gandalf used explosive pine cones in The Hobbit.

Saint GoH
2011-02-02, 03:17 PM
Me personally?

Mages from Wow. Spriests from WoW. Boomkins from Wow.

Besides that, Icewind Dale (pretty much any Baldur's Gate-esque game), Neverwinter Nights, all them games; The Wizard/Sorcerer really only had Evocation/Necromancy spells. There was no such thing as Time Stop or Genesis or that sort of abuse. No polymorph other that was permanent. Literally their whole spell list was moderately timed buffs or blasty spells. I grew up on these games so they kind of shaped my outlook.

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 03:17 PM
Gandalf used explosive pine cones in The Hobbit.

As well as an interesting area of effect spell that blinded temporarily. He knew the value of a good status effect. He was famously good with fireworks, at least among Hobbits.

Kurald Galain
2011-02-02, 03:19 PM
Pug / Milamber is a good example (who sets an entire gladiator arena on fire to set an example), as is Vanyel Demonsbane (who literally obliterated an entire valley in a final strike against an undead warlord). Jack Vance's Dying Earth (yes, that Jack Vance) also has some impressive pyrotechnics at times.

Sipex
2011-02-02, 03:42 PM
Easy.

Explosions are cool so there should be someone who can make them.

Frozen_Feet
2011-02-02, 03:47 PM
As well as an interesting area of effect spell that blinded temporarily. He knew the value of a good status effect. He was famously good with fireworks, at least among Hobbits.

He also caused a great fire at... what the heck was that hill again? Anyways, when he was fighting the Nazguls. The fires could be seen miles away.

In Hobbit, he also struck few goblins down with a lightning bolt.

And then there's the whole incident with the Balrog, though I don't remember that involving much blasty stuff outside breaking the bridge.

Of course, Gandalf also always carried a sword and used it to great effect too. You could say he's the archetypical Warmage, or Gish. :smallbiggrin:

Czin
2011-02-02, 03:53 PM
He also caused a great fire at... what the heck was that hill again? Anyways, when he was fighting the Nazguls. The fires could be seen miles away.

In Hobbit, he also struck few goblins down with a lightning bolt.

And then there's the whole incident with the Balrog, though I don't remember that involving much blasty stuff outside breaking the bridge.

Of course, Gandalf also always carried a sword and used it to great effect too. You could say he's the archetypical Warmage, or Gish. :smallbiggrin:

When Gandalf fought the Balrog he was allowed to use the full measure of his powers as one of the maiar. So he essentially got a ginormous across the board stat bonus, thus; he's a Gish/CoDzilla when he fights other Maia or Vala.

Gullintanni
2011-02-02, 03:57 PM
I think it comes from the fact that pretty much every wizard's most terrifying magics were always blasts. Their subtle spells were often more dangerous, but far less memorable.

Nobody cares that you hypnotized the bartender, or that you moved a cloud out of the way....but if you immolate a city block people want to know about it. Rule of Cool :smallsmile:

Mark Hall
2011-02-02, 03:59 PM
From what I understand, in the early editions, blasting was, in general, better than it usually is in 3e, but the earlier editions still had lots of "I win" buttons that weren't blasting spells-- they just needed to be protected by the melee guys to use them, unlike in 3e.

There actually weren't a ton of "I win" buttons in earlier editions, because of one simple thing: Saving throws. Most "I win" attack spells also gave a saving throw, which, at higher levels, were pretty easy to make. So you either instantly died 20% of the time, or you took 6d8 damage 80% of the time... which might be enough to kill you outright, if you had already been weakened.

herceg
2011-02-02, 04:00 PM
Don't forget Raistlin.

Greenish
2011-02-02, 04:01 PM
Don't forget Raistlin.That's putting the cart before the horse.

Starbuck_II
2011-02-02, 04:08 PM
There actually weren't a ton of "I win" buttons in earlier editions, because of one simple thing: Saving throws. Most "I win" attack spells also gave a saving throw, which, at higher levels, were pretty easy to make. So you either instantly died 20% of the time, or you took 6d8 damage 80% of the time... which might be enough to kill you outright, if you had already been weakened.

Bah, AD&D Core +Splats had Glitterdust, Grease, etc.
Don't forget the spells that lowered saves.

Combo them and you can make someone fail there saves.

Doug Lampert
2011-02-02, 04:19 PM
From what I understand, in the early editions, blasting was, in general, better than it usually is in 3e, but the earlier editions still had lots of "I win" buttons that weren't blasting spells-- they just needed to be protected by the melee guys to use them, unlike in 3e.

I WIN buttons in earlier editions mostly had a "it rolls anything but a 1-4 on the saving through, you actually lose".

Seriously save DCs in 3.x are one of the most broken parts, and that's assuming you use a spell which allows a save.

OTOH with HP getting negligable Con bonus and topping out at relatively low level a fireball always hurt.


Bah, AD&D Core +Splats had Glitterdust, Grease, etc.
Don't forget the spells that lowered saves.

Combo them and you can make someone fail there saves.

2 fireballs (or similar blast for immune to fire foes)==EVERYBODY over there is DEAD vs. most "level appropriate" challenges. And if not they're so close to dead that the fighter can finish them off fairly easily.

Meanwhile you're blowing multiple spells to try to put ONE status effect on "someONE" who failes their save. I think you may be confused about which is the "I win" button.

Mark Hall
2011-02-02, 04:27 PM
Bah, AD&D Core +Splats had Glitterdust, Grease, etc.
Don't forget the spells that lowered saves.

Combo them and you can make someone fail there saves.

Meaning you need to cast several spells for a much lower effect. Glitterdust? Blinded for 1d4+1 rounds, not 1 round/level. Grease lasted longer, but was again dependent upon a saving throw, which higher level people are likely to make.

Compare this to doing several Hit Dice worth of damage... when hit dice are the only source of HP most monsters have (most lacking Con scores).

While you COULD play a debuff wizard, it was far less effective than just blowing them up.

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 04:31 PM
And don't forget AD&D Harm. No, it couldn't kill, but it came so close it might as well have.

Sipex
2011-02-02, 04:32 PM
It also doesn't help that as RPGs began to make it to video game territory, more often than not a 'status' spell was impractical because a) it rarely/never worked, b) the status effect was useless either in effect or lasting time or c) Enemies were either immune or didn't have enough HP to qualify needing to use it.

MeeposFire
2011-02-02, 04:32 PM
Heck at high levels your penalties may just offset the bonuses from items and such a character has which means the fighter needs to roll a 3 or 4 to save instead of a 2. High level saves were amazing for you.

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 04:32 PM
It also doesn't help that as RPGs began to make it to video game territory, more often than not a 'status' spell was impractical because a) it rarely/never worked, b) the status effect was useless either in effect or lasting time or c) Enemies were either immune or didn't have enough HP to qualify needing to use it.
There is trope for that. I am not linking to it, but 3.X D&D is listed as an Aversion.

Radar
2011-02-02, 04:44 PM
As well as an interesting area of effect spell that blinded temporarily. He knew the value of a good status effect. He was famously good with fireworks, at least among Hobbits.
And his greatest act was using Ghost Sound (or rather an equivalent) to kill a bunch of trolls).

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 04:54 PM
And his greatest act was using Ghost Sound (or rather an equivalent) to kill a bunch of trolls).
I thought it was simple Ventriloquism and and a Bluff Check.

Telonius
2011-02-02, 05:00 PM
Going back to Oz - the "Wizard" could spout fire (scaring the Scarecrow). So could the Wicked Witch. Both predate D&D.

Nero24200
2011-02-02, 05:17 PM
Most likely it came from table-top war games, since utility spells are less desirable in such a situation. When you're going up against rank and file soldiers in blocks intended to represent hundreads of men a large sized fireball is more effective than draining the strength of a single warrior.

Personally I hate the "blasty" mage archtype. It's the most boring type of mage for me. The very first full caster I ever played was a specialist transmuter who polymorphed (before I realised how abusive those spells were). When I want a character that has usual powers, I'll play a mage, if I want someone who shaves off hit points I'll play a warrior.

Mark Hall
2011-02-02, 06:16 PM
I.... am an enchanter. Some have called me... Tim?

EDIT: I hereby declare Eorran a time-traveling Ninja who stole my idea.

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 06:19 PM
I.... am an enchanter. Some have called me... Tim?

Eorran already made that joke, but you can never have enough Monty Python.

Callos_DeTerran
2011-02-02, 06:39 PM
Eorran already made that joke, but you can never have enough Monty Python.

Yes you can. :smallannoyed:

Also, blasting is fun. Heck, I always pick a couple of blasting spells. Maybe it's rolling all those dice, maybe it's the large explosions/areas of effects, or something else...but it's just fun. XD

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 06:47 PM
Yes you can. :smallannoyed:
Spoilsport.:smalltongue:


Also, blasting is fun. Heck, I always pick a couple of blasting spells. Maybe it's rolling all those dice, maybe it's the large explosions/areas of effects, or something else...but it's just fun. XD
Indeed. :smallamused:

Temotei
2011-02-02, 06:51 PM
Some call me...Tim?


I.... am an enchanter. Some have called me... Tim?

Everyone calls me that, for some reason. It has something to do with my birth certificate or something.

Yuki Akuma
2011-02-02, 06:54 PM
What do you mean, Gandalf wasn't blasty?

He used the freaking Ring of Fire.

Czin
2011-02-02, 06:59 PM
What do you mean, Gandalf wasn't blasty?

He used the freaking Ring of Fire.

Sadly, not much fire was casted from it.

Greenish
2011-02-02, 07:04 PM
He used the freaking Ring of Fire.Ring of Fire isn't necessarily blasty, it can also be country ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0lhf9U5Wf3Q).

Yuki Akuma
2011-02-02, 07:07 PM
...I love you.

druid91
2011-02-02, 08:28 PM
Uh what about the part where gandalf fried the goblins who tried to drag him underground with lightning?

Czin
2011-02-02, 08:32 PM
Uh what about the part where gandalf fried the goblins who tried to drag him underground with lightning?

Things like that are the exception in Arda by the third age, not the norm.

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 08:57 PM
Things like that are the exception in Arda by the third age, not the norm.
Overt magic in general is pretty much the exception in much of Lord of the Rings.
He also did a little illusion magic, like the horses in the water at the ford, merely as a stylistic touch. Gandalf had class.:smallbiggrin:

Lord.Sorasen
2011-02-02, 09:22 PM
It also doesn't help that as RPGs began to make it to video game territory, more often than not a 'status' spell was impractical because a) it rarely/never worked, b) the status effect was useless either in effect or lasting time or c) Enemies were either immune or didn't have enough HP to qualify needing to use it.

Almost every video game RPG these days has bosses immune to debuffs. Somewhere along the line someone thought it made the battles less interesting if bigger monsters could be stunned.

I must say.. For me personally, I blame anime. I grew up watching Dragon Ball Z. So when I think of a powerful character, I don't think of debuff, save or die, action economy, or anything of that sort. I think giant explosions. The characters in DBZ weren't mages (with maybe the exception of Piccolo) but the idea lasts for all characters. If there's a way my character can make things explode I'm going for it.

LansXero
2011-02-02, 09:34 PM
For me and my group it was games like diablo and many JRpgs. Flinging balls of energy = magic, that seems pretty obvious, even now.

Gavinfoxx
2011-02-02, 09:37 PM
But Diablo and Diablo II is full of a toonnnnn of debuffs...

Sure, its full of lots of blasting too, but lots of strategy and debuffs...

And the idea of mages for blasting came before the Diablo AD&D game came out, right?

Psyren
2011-02-02, 09:53 PM
Overt magic in general is pretty much the exception in much of Lord of the Rings.
He also did a little illusion magic, like the horses in the water at the ford, merely as a stylistic touch. Gandalf had class.:smallbiggrin:

Didn't Arwen do that one? My Tolkien is spotty at best though.

And I second Pug as the quintessential blaster mage. Earthquakes, infernos, lightning, nukes you name it; piss Milamber off and you are a sooty smear.

And let's not forget Moiraine; holy hell that woman could nuke.

Coidzor
2011-02-02, 09:59 PM
Didn't Arwen do that one? My Tolkien is spotty at best though.

I think that was the movie and in the books it was her brother. :smallconfused:


And I second Pug as the quintessential blaster mage. Earthquakes, infernos, lightning, nukes you name it; piss Milamber off and you are a sooty smear.

Riftwar?

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 10:05 PM
Didn't Arwen do that one? My Tolkien is spotty at best though.

It was Elrond that made the river 'rise up against them', I think, but Gandalf mentions doing a few stylistic touches, like the horses.

Draz74
2011-02-02, 10:06 PM
Didn't Arwen do that one? My Tolkien is spotty at best though.


I think that was the movie and in the books it was her brother. :smallconfused:

Movie or book, either way, it was actually Elrond (who, incidentally, had the Ring of Air, Vilya, mightiest of the elven rings) who set up the protective spell over the river. In the movie, they added Arwen "triggering" the previously-setup spell. In the book, Glorfindel (who is not Arwen's brother or any other close relation) simply carried Frodo across the river and let the spell do its work behind him.

I can't remember if they mention Gandalf having helped Elrond set up the spell.

EDIT:

It was Elrond that made the river 'rise up against them', I think, but Gandalf mentions doing a few stylistic touches, like the horses.

Oh, that's right. So Gandalf did help.

MeeposFire
2011-02-02, 10:09 PM
Well sort of. Style is so important you know.

Mark Hall
2011-02-02, 10:10 PM
Didn't Arwen do that one? My Tolkien is spotty at best though.

I think it was Glorfindel in the books. They replaced him with Arwen in the movies.

Ravens_cry
2011-02-02, 10:13 PM
Well sort of. Style is so important you know.
Indeed. Like I said, Gandalf had class.

MeeposFire
2011-02-02, 10:16 PM
Indeed. Like I said, Gandalf had class.

indeed he does, indeed he does.:smallwink:

Gavinfoxx
2011-02-02, 10:30 PM
Isn't Midkemia based off of some role playing game Feist did though?? Anyone know what system he used?? Or am I getting confused?

Jarawara
2011-02-02, 11:21 PM
Blasty Wizards didn't come from video games, WOW, Diablo, Baldur's gate or any of them. None of them existed back then. Hell, computers really didn't exist back then, and of those that did, I don't remember the 'blasty' option in PONG.

Blasty Wizards didn't come from literature, at least not any that I can think of. Merlin, Galdalf,.... ok, I'll give you Tim.

So where did Blasty Wizards come from? I'll tell you....

They came from us.

Yep, that's right, we the players wanted to blast things. But of course, there was a reason for that. As pointed out above, D&D evolved from a wargame, and so wizards-as-artilliary was a natural development.

But more than that was the fact that D&D was often played as a wargame. In wargames, there isn't alot of man vs man combat, there are units of infantry vs units of infantry. Why use a spell that takes out one infantyman, when you could use a spell that takes out a whole unit?

Grease? For years I honestly thought that this spell had to be the most useless spell in existance. I was certain it would disappear in newer editions, and yet, there it was again in 3E. So you cause a couple of my orcs to slip and fall. Waaaah. I'll just have to get you with my 58 others.

Ray of Enfeeblement? People talk about how overpowered it is, in that it can weaken an enemy down to the strength of a mere child. Easy pickings for the party fighter to finish off. Yeah ok. There goes another orc. 57 to go.

Charm Person? Ok, this could be a serious threat here. You charm an Orc, he turns on the next one in line, and with party assistance, he might take down two others before he himself falls. Plus that delayed and disrupted the enemy's line. Count's at 54.

Is that all you've got, Wizard? Because seriously dude, the party fighter has cut through a couple dozen by now, the Cleric 'Command'ed one to sleep (and then coup-de-splated him), then proceeded to thump a half dozen more. The Theif is doing his part too. You're falling behind in the kill count, oh master of squishiness. Try throwing a dagger and be useful for once...

... wait, you have one more spell, you say? What's that?

Fireball?

Did... did you say... **FIREBALL**?

Ohhhh... crap.

There'll go the rest of my orcs.

(And half the party too, but them's the risks!)

*~*~*

It's modern gaming mentality that defeated the blasty wizard, much more than the various advances of rulesets. Yes, batman tactics can do much more in many situations, while blasty spells do less against the high HP of 3E. But really, it's the fact that most battles seem to be a party of four vs just a few (or only one) enemies. Ray of Enfeeblement works great to stop one enemy, Grease stops a key enemy, Charm ends this encounter and maybe the next one.

Fireball isn't too useful when there's only one enemy to fry.

a_humble_lich
2011-02-02, 11:21 PM
Isn't Midkemia based off of some role playing game Feist did though?? Anyone know what system he used?? Or am I getting confused?

If memory serves, it was a system that he and friends had been creating.

Edit: And as for as Blasters in fiction, what about comic books. I believe both Doctors Fate and Strange could blast things, and well as many many non-wizard characters. "I want to spell to blast people like Cyclops."

Road_Runner
2011-02-02, 11:33 PM
Personally I got the idea from the game (not sure if anyone is familiar with it) DotA (Defense of the Ancients). Intelligence heroes (a.k.a casters) generally have devastatingly quick bursts of spells that do a lot of damage while agility and strength heroes have the constant DPS. I think this is also true for a lot of video/strategy games.

nightwyrm
2011-02-02, 11:35 PM
If memory serves, it was a system that he and friends had been creating.

Edit: And as for as Blasters in fiction, what about comic books. I believe both Doctors Fate and Strange could blast things, and well as many many non-wizard characters. "I want to spell to blast people like Cyclops."

Comics as well as manga are static visual mediums. You can't just have some dude say some words and another dude drop dead in the next panel. That's visually boring. You gotta have rays flying around and things blowing up etc. Even psychic attacks are depicted as "mind blasts".

LansXero
2011-02-02, 11:37 PM
Personally I got the idea from the game (not sure if anyone is familiar with it) DotA (Defense of the Ancients). Intelligence heroes (a.k.a casters) generally have devastatingly quick bursts of spells that do a lot of damage while agility and strength heroes have the constant DPS. I think this is also true for a lot of video/strategy games.

Right, and even back in Warcraft II all of the mage's spells where blasty effects. Well, and polymorphing enemies into sheeps.

Lurkmoar
2011-02-02, 11:40 PM
Right, and even back in Warcraft II all of the mage's spells where blasty effects. Well, and polymorphing enemies into sheeps.

Which might have well as been instant death back in Warcraft II. Oh, and didn't they also have Invisibility and Slow?

LansXero
2011-02-02, 11:43 PM
Which might have well as been instant death back in Warcraft II. Oh, and didn't they also have Invisibility and Slow?

Right :( but their basic attack was a lightning bolt, so they still blasted far more often than anything :D

Skjaldbakka
2011-02-03, 12:12 AM
I think it was Glorfindel in the books. They replaced him with Arwen in the movies.

Which never fails to annoy me. Give the poor guy some screen time, for crying out loud. It's bad enough that he didn't get to go on the big quest, do you really have to write out the one really bad-ass thing he gets to do in the LotRs?

/end rant

Grendus
2011-02-03, 12:21 AM
Though it wasn't really blasty, Gandalf the White also drove off the Nazgul with bright lights in the movie. But he did do some status effects, like blinding the orcs at Helms Deep so they had to cover their eyes instead of bracing their pikes against the cavalry.

In the books, Saruman blasted the Ents during the Siege of Isenguard (sp?). Worked pretty well too, until they diverted a river into the courtyard (in the books it took them a few days) so he couldn't do it anymore.

Knaight
2011-02-03, 12:43 AM
Regarding literature, there is the small matter of one Michael Moorcock. There was a little subtle magic in his work, but other stuff was extremely blatant. Energy was thrown around, entities were summoned, and there was fire and lighting everywhere.

Eric Tolle
2011-02-03, 01:02 AM
Why blaster mages? So D&D could emulate THIS (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKm7NloL8bA).

And actually, I'm totally serious. According to people who were Gary Gygax's old gaming group, Jack Vance and "The Raven" were the two primary influences on D&D.

Arillius
2011-02-03, 01:42 AM
Some call me...Tim?

I applaud your reference. You win a small part of the internet.

nightwyrm
2011-02-03, 01:52 AM
You want flashy, blasty wizards? You want to take a look at Wheel of Time.

gomipile
2011-02-03, 02:50 AM
You want flashy, blasty wizards? You want to take a look at Wheel of Time.

That's from 1990. I believe we're looking for sources which predate D&D.

The Big Dice
2011-02-03, 09:30 AM
Regarding literature, there is the small matter of one Michael Moorcock. There was a little subtle magic in his work, but other stuff was extremely blatant. Energy was thrown around, entities were summoned, and there was fire and lighting everywhere.

Moorcock magic is more based around summonings and exotic items. The Noose of Flesh that Elric uses to destroy an army is one example. The various Beast Lords and Elementals that Elric summons are mighty summons. But blasting isn't common.

Though in the Chronicles of the Runestaff, the Empire of Granbretan and the forces of Count Brass do use flame lances. With the defenders being mounted on giant flamingoes, too!

There was definetly a strong influence on EGG and Dave Arneson frm Moorcock. But I think that was more in terms of cosmology than magic.

Gametime
2011-02-03, 09:39 AM
Which never fails to annoy me. Give the poor guy some screen time, for crying out loud. It's bad enough that he didn't get to go on the big quest, do you really have to write out the one really bad-ass thing he gets to do in the LotRs?

/end rant

On the other hand, it meant that they wrote IN something for Arwen to actually do instead of her just sort of being there for the entire trilogy. Having two and a half competent female characters instead of two seems a worthy goal.

Greenish
2011-02-03, 09:46 AM
Which never fails to annoy me. Give the poor guy some screen time, for crying out loud. It's bad enough that he didn't get to go on the big quest, do you really have to write out the one really bad-ass thing he gets to do in the LotRs?Movies don't have as much time and room for many characters.

But he did do some status effects, like blinding the orcs at Helms Deep so they had to cover their eyes instead of bracing their pikes against the cavalry. I don't think attacking from the east at dawn counts as major magic. :smalltongue:

Skjaldbakka
2011-02-03, 10:22 AM
Gandalf does some pretty flashy magic in the books though, just not very often. Mostly it involves fire, which makes sense, given he has that ring.

Kurald Galain
2011-02-03, 10:35 AM
Isn't Midkemia based off of some role playing game Feist did though?? Anyone know what system he used?? Or am I getting confused?
Yes it is, and IIRC it was a custom system, although clearly inspired by D&D at some points.


Gandalf does some pretty flashy magic in the books though, just not very often. Mostly it involves fire, which makes sense, given he has that ring.
Yes, and given that his Vala patron is the lord of fire.

Telonius
2011-02-03, 01:10 PM
Yes it is, and IIRC it was a custom system, although clearly inspired by D&D at some points.


Yes, and given that his Vala patron is the lord of fire.

Gandalf's patrons were Manwe and Varda (air and starlight). Saruman's patron was Aule (earth and fire). Personally I think that's why Gandalf didn't use all that much fire. Aule's folks had two notable defections to the service of Morgoth: Saruman and Sauron, and Morgoth put a good chunk of his efforts into corrupting the formation of the earth.

Hazzardevil
2011-02-03, 03:23 PM
Some call me...Tim?

Who is Tim exactly?

Back to the thread in question, Gandalf in my opinoin isn't some sort of wizard, he manipulates magic slightly and does science.

However in greek myths (The percy jackson books giving good examples,)
There are a lot of half gods who blast something, fire, water, lightning. It is explicitly mentioned as something they can do.

Psyren
2011-02-03, 03:31 PM
Who is Tim exactly?

He's an enchanter (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JTbrIo1p-So)

(Which apparently means "evoker" in Pythonverse)

Radar
2011-02-03, 03:41 PM
Gandalf's patrons were Manwe and Varda (air and starlight). Saruman's patron was Aule (earth and fire). Personally I think that's why Gandalf didn't use all that much fire. Aule's folks had two notable defections to the service of Morgoth: Saruman and Sauron, and Morgoth put a good chunk of his efforts into corrupting the formation of the earth.
Gandalf's fire spells came from the ring and he didn't like using it, because every use of rings of power was detected by The One Ring (TM) and the last thing Gandalf wanted, was to show his current location. He was always positively paranoid and usually he had valid reasons to be so - as with the "don't ever use palantirs" (you never know, who is at the other side).

Greenish
2011-02-03, 03:45 PM
as with the "don't ever use palantirs" (you never know, who is at the other side).Yes you do, it's Sauron. :smalltongue:

Psyren
2011-02-03, 03:47 PM
Yes you do, it's Sauron. :smalltongue:

That has got to be the worst cellphone network ever made

Knaight
2011-02-03, 04:27 PM
Moorcock magic is more based around summonings and exotic items. The Noose of Flesh that Elric uses to destroy an army is one example. The various Beast Lords and Elementals that Elric summons are mighty summons. But blasting isn't common...

There was definetly a strong influence on EGG and Dave Arneson frm Moorcock. But I think that was more in terms of cosmology than magic.
One Elric started running up against the lords of chaos, there were some big spells thrown around. It wasn't the humans throwing them, but it was still blasting magic, adding it to the repertoire of human mages is a natural next step.

As far as Moorcock as an influence, they pretty much took his mythos for alignment and called it a day.

The Big Dice
2011-02-03, 04:37 PM
One Elric started running up against the lords of chaos, there were some big spells thrown around. It wasn't the humans throwing them, but it was still blasting magic, adding it to the repertoire of human mages is a natural next step.

As far as Moorcock as an influence, they pretty much took his mythos for alignment and called it a day.

I don't remember any big blasting spells in the Elric books. And the classic magic system from RPgs based on those books involves summoning Beast Lords, Elementals and various types of Demons.

There's body horror and existential horror supplied by magic in the Elric saga. Storms and earthquakes are created by magic, and can do supernatural harm to their targets. But lobbing fireballs and the like seems to be more from D&D than from the places that inspired D&D.

ffone
2011-02-03, 04:37 PM
It also doesn't help that as RPGs began to make it to video game territory, more often than not a 'status' spell was impractical because a) it rarely/never worked, b) the status effect was useless either in effect or lasting time or c) Enemies were either immune or didn't have enough HP to qualify needing to use it.

YES. Most Final Fantasies were like this: status effects rarely worked, and the only foes worth blowing precious spell slots or MP on were bosses, who often had hardcoded immunities (the "boss bit").

Another_Poet
2011-02-03, 04:55 PM
I'm trying to figure out where the meme that spellcasters were supposed to BLAST came from. Gandalf didn't blast. Neither did Merlin. Lots of people who had magic in this or that literature mostly did curses and rituals and stuff.

I read an interview with Gygax once, in which he talked about the early transition from war games to fantasy games.

He was running a medieval war game and he secretly told each team they had one wizard amongst their (otherwise historically accurate) troops. One of the wizards could cast a fireball which did the damage of a cannon or something. The other could call down lightning that did the damage of a ballista.

So, actually, the idea of wizards blasting came from the very first fantasy war game ever. At least according to GG.

Nero24200
2011-02-03, 05:10 PM
YES. Most Final Fantasies were like this: status effects rarely worked, and the only foes worth blowing precious spell slots or MP on were bosses, who often had hardcoded immunities (the "boss bit").

It's also why I rarely bothered with magic in Final Fantasy games (except for healing and the occasional blaster since the game was fond of throwing phyiscal resistant enemies at you). It's also especially irratating that the spells almost always work on characters you control.

It's also one thing I like about D'n'D. If a throw a spell at another human it actually has a decent chance of affecting him/her. If it doesn't, then my human character also has a means of getting the same immunity.

Mark Hall
2011-02-03, 05:13 PM
That has got to be the worst cellphone network ever made

Aaaaaaannnnnnd.... there's the mental image of Sauron walking across Middle Earth, screaming "CAN YOU HEAR ME NOW!" at hobbits.

HeadlessMermaid
2011-02-03, 05:14 PM
So, actually, the idea of wizards blasting came from the very first fantasy war game ever. At least according to GG.
Amazing.

So, would you by any chance also know how ON EARTH the idea of Clerics came about? Men of God who perform miracles in heavy armor and wielding maces?

(I wonder, did war games ever use combat medics or something like that? And come to think of it, do combat medics actually fight?)

hamishspence
2011-02-03, 05:16 PM
I think the "heavy armour and maces" bit came from Bishop Odo in the Battle of Hastings.

Another_Poet
2011-02-03, 05:16 PM
Amazing.

So, would you by any chance also know how ON EARTH the idea of Clerics came about? Men of God who perform miracles in heavy armor and wielding maces?

(I wonder, did war games ever use combat medics or something like that? And come to think of it, do combat medics actually fight?)

That I have no idea. Might have been a specific character in one of GG's favorite novels, or it might have come out of the blue. There were in fact medieval saints who were fighting men, but it's not a trope in most swords & sorcery stuff that I've seen.

HeadlessMermaid
2011-02-03, 05:40 PM
I think the "heavy armour and maces" bit came from Bishop Odo in the Battle of Hastings.
*looks it up*

The Bayeux Tapestry, probably commissioned by him to adorn his own cathedral, appears to labour the point that he did not actually fight, that is to say shed blood, at Hastings, but rather encouraged the troops from the rear. [...] It seems that his clerical status forbade him from using a sword.

Who knows.

Hey, I dug out my old 2nd Edition PHB. Here's what it mentions as inspiration for the classes (though apparently more as an afterthought and suggestions to the players, rather as "hey, that's how we got the idea!") :


Fighter: Hercules, Perseus, Hiawatha, Beowulf, Siegfried, Cuchulain, Little John, Tristan, Sinbad. El Cid, Hannibal, Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Spartacus, Richard the Lionheart, Belisarius.
Paladin: Roland and the 12 Peers of Charlemagne, Sir Lancelot, Sir Gawain, Sir Galahad.
Ranger: Robin Hood, Orion, Jack the giant killer, the huntresses of Diana.
Mage: Merlin, Circe, Medea. (no blasting mentioned...)
Cleric: The Teutonic Knights, the Knights Templars, Hospitalers, Archbishop Turpin.
Druid: Druids. :smalltongue:
Thief: Reynard the Fox, Robin Goodfellow, Ali Baba.
Bard: Alan-a-Dale, Will Scarlet, Amergin, Homer
...Right.

olthar
2011-02-03, 05:46 PM
Gandalf's patrons were Manwe and Varda (air and starlight). Saruman's patron was Aule (earth and fire). Personally I think that's why Gandalf didn't use all that much fire. Aule's folks had two notable defections to the service of Morgoth: Saruman and Sauron, and Morgoth put a good chunk of his efforts into corrupting the formation of the earth.

Actually, Gandalf was a protege of Nienna. He was given the ring by Cirdan who believed him to be the wiseest of the Istari. Additionally, Tolkien doesn't really write magic duels in the flashy way that other authors do. The magic battle that probably dwarfed all other magic battles in the Silmarillion was the battle between Sauron and Finrod, which was written as a battle of song. Other potentially comparable magic "battles" include Luthien's singing morgoth to sleep and Tom Bombadil's singing battle with the barrow-wight.

Milamber doesn't come before D&D either as Feist is pretty straightforward in saying that his series is based off of a d&d-type game that some friends of his created.

Ged of earthsea is an example of a wizard (or a wizarding world) that uses some blasty magic. The problem is that fantasy, at least fantasy as we know it, is a relatively new genre and d&d is one of the things that has helped solidify it as one.

hamishspence
2011-02-03, 05:48 PM
Who knows.


He still had a weapon though- even if it was only a club and only for self-defence.

It may have been partly the idea that "clubs don't involve the shedding of blood" that led to D&D clerics only using club-type weapons early on.

On Archbishop Turpin- his story may have been confused with his predecessor- a martial clerk who became a bishop:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archbishop_Turpin

Greenish
2011-02-03, 05:51 PM
The magic battle that probably dwarfed all other magic battles in the Silmarillion was the battle between Sauron and Finrod, which was written as a battle of song. Other potentially comparable magic "battles" include Luthien's singing morgoth to sleep and Tom Bombadil's singing battle with the barrow-wight.They fight… with THE POWER OF ROCK!

Singing is serious business, ya know.

hamishspence
2011-02-03, 05:55 PM
A fairly early wizard duel- but one of shapeshifting rather than blasting- was in 1938's The Sword in the Stone:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sword_in_the_Stone

Mark Hall
2011-02-03, 05:57 PM
They fight… with THE POWER OF ROCK!

Singing is serious business, ya know.

One does not simply ROCK into Mordor!

http://www.joeydevilla.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/one_does_not_simply_rock_into_mordor.jpg

HeadlessMermaid
2011-02-03, 06:07 PM
He still had a weapon though- even if it was only a club and only for self-defence.

It may have been partly the idea that "clubs don't involve the shedding of blood" that led to D&D clerics only using club-type weapons early on.

On Archbishop Turpin- his story may have been confused with his predecessor- a martial clerk who became a bishop:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Archbishop_Turpin
That's not unreasonable. But since we're talking about the very origin of the concept (and not how we can rationalize it afterwards), I'd be more inclined to believe something along the lines of "We decided to divide magic-users to divine and arcane, and we'd been playing the Battle of Montgisard (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Montgisard) with our miniatures that day, so... Templars FTW! We'll give them spells and call them clerics!"

(That's pure speculation, of course.)


Ged of earthsea is an example of a wizard (or a wizarding world) that uses some blasty magic.
Admittedly, it's been a while since I read the Earthsea novels, but what I remember most about magic isn't blasting. It's what we now call truenaming, and most of all, the dire necessity to refrain from using magic unless absolutely necessary, lest you disrupt the Equilibrium. Hardly D&D material. :smalltongue:


The problem is that fantasy, at least fantasy as we know it, is a relatively new genre and d&d is one of the things that has helped solidify it as one.
Well yes, which is why the OP's question was an entirely legitimate one. And if Another_Poet is correct (basically, if Gygax was telling the truth in that interview), I think we found out why. Like so may things in D&D, it's something that came out of a war game. And not fantasy at all.

Knaight
2011-02-03, 06:10 PM
So, would you by any chance also know how ON EARTH the idea of Clerics came about? Men of God who perform miracles in heavy armor and wielding maces?

There is a popular belief that there were crusaders with religious vows that forbade the shedding of blood, and that this was circumvented via blunt weapons. The cleric probably emerged as a fantasy incarnation of this belief, as it is interesting regardless of historical accuracy.

The real question is where people got the idea that maces weren't likely to make people bleed.

Greenish
2011-02-03, 06:14 PM
One does not simply ROCK into Mordor!

http://www.joeydevilla.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2006/07/one_does_not_simply_rock_into_mordor.jpgBrilliant. :smallbiggrin:

Kurald Galain
2011-02-03, 06:22 PM
Gandalf's patrons were Manwe and Varda
D'oh. Oh yeah, not fire, then.



Ged of earthsea is an example of a wizard (or a wizarding world) that uses some blasty magic.
Huh, when is that? I don't recall Ged (or anyone of Roke) doing any kind of blasting, like, ever. Earthsea is way more subtle than that.

...the Dean from Discworld does blasting, and lots of it. Does that count? :smallbiggrin:

Frozen_Feet
2011-02-03, 06:24 PM
They fight… with THE POWER OF ROCK!

Singing is serious business, ya know.

Just for trivia, I'm fairly sure Tolkien was at least partially inspired by Kalevala, Finnish mythology, what came to using magic through songs.

In Kalevala, Väinämöinen sings his foe into a swamp. Yes, you read that right. He also rouses winds that blow a hapless artificer across the land, creates a horse from straw to ride across the ocean, and lulls a whole village to sleep.

(Finnish myth also contains one of the greatest artificers ever, Seppo Ilmarinen. He forges, among other things, a flaming brass eagle to catch a demonic pike, a robot girlfriend, a mill that churns out infinite salt, gold and flour, and the sky.)

hamishspence
2011-02-03, 06:25 PM
Didn't some of the Finnish deities make it into the Forgotten Realms pantheon?

Frozen_Feet
2011-02-03, 06:40 PM
Loviatar, if I recall right.

Greenish
2011-02-03, 06:42 PM
Didn't some of the Finnish deities make it into the Forgotten Realms pantheon?The goddess, whatshername, who allowed her druids to wear metal armour, if I'm not mistaken.

hamishspence
2011-02-03, 06:44 PM
Also:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mielikki

EDIT: Swordsaged.

MeeposFire
2011-02-03, 08:01 PM
Tyr is quite obviously Odin though that is Norse but it is very close.

Greenish
2011-02-03, 08:03 PM
Tyr is quite obviously Odin though that is Norse but it is very close.Wouldn't Tyr be Tyr (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyr)? :smallconfused:

MeeposFire
2011-02-03, 08:32 PM
Wouldn't Tyr be Tyr (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyr)? :smallconfused:

Yes:smalleek:. Tyr was the leader of the gods but then later it was changed to Odin and somehow I forgot that Tyr actually existed.

Point still stands though.

Eric Tolle
2011-02-04, 05:46 PM
Amazing.

So, would you by any chance also know how ON EARTH the idea of Clerics came about? Men of God who perform miracles in heavy armor and wielding maces?

(I wonder, did war games ever use combat medics or something like that? And come to think of it, do combat medics actually fight?)

According to the "I was there" description by Old Gamer, it went something like this:

In one of the group's fantasy wargames, one of the teams had a vampire, directly based on Dracula. To balance him out, Gary created a piece that was a vampire hunter, based on Van Helsing. At around the same time, they were considering the idea of healing units, so what the hell, drop that ability onto the vampire hunter as well. And so in the same fashion, piecemeal abilities were added until you got your cleric, for pretty much the same justification.

So like pretty much everything else in Chainmail and pre-D&D, it was something cobbled together because it was cool.

HeadlessMermaid
2011-02-04, 05:58 PM
In one of the group's fantasy wargames, one of the teams had a vampire, directly based on Dracula. To balance him out, Gary created a piece that was a vampire hunter, based on Van Helsing. At around the same time, they were considering the idea of healing units, so what the hell, drop that ability onto the vampire hunter as well. And so in the same fashion, piecemeal abilities were added until you got your cleric, for pretty much the same justification.
Wow, that explains A LOT. Thanks!