June 21, 2009

Wishes in D&D 4E

The Wish spell is an interesting concept. In D&D 3, it had a number of useful applications, plus anything you could convince the DM of. In D&D 4, it's just... gone.

Which is to expected. As a spell, it's just far too powerful since it literally does anything (can duplicate most other spells even from the cleric spell lists). Even as a ritual, it breaks too many potential plots (all of them).

My solution would be to make Wish rare. Incredibly rare. Like:

  • Wishes are granted by powerful beings such as gods, demon lords, lords of Hell and high-ranking efreets. Even they don't have total control of the ability - it's usually contingent on them first "granting" a wish and then having to follow the letter of the wish, making them reluctant to grant it in the first place.
  • Wish should never appear as a power or ritual.
  • A Wish can be much more powerful than in earlier editions, due to it's rarity. Wishing for level 30 items, large tracts of land or equivalent sums of money isn't out of order. Raising the dead, curing diseases or transporting the party anywhere in the Planes is almost a waste of the Wish.
  • Ironically, I also feel that the DM is more free to pervert a Wish, since the player didn't pay a spell slot and XP for it. The degree of perversion should depend on the source, of course - efreets and devils will mess with you.

Well, those are my thoughts on Wishing in 4E.


Rob Iannacone said...

One interesting thing I noticed recently, while digging through some of my old D&D crap, is that a lot of the early editions of the game (specifically White Box, Holmes, and B/X) don't even *have* a Wish spell. Apparently it's one of Gary's homebrewed Greyhawk things that was only ever made canon as a wizard spell in one of the boxed sets and in the AD&D product line.

I think I like the game better without it. It certainly matches up better with the games I actually ran: I don't think I've ever used a character, PC or NPC, who was ever actually capable of casting it. And its not as if removing it from the wizard's list stops genies and things from granting them.

Anders Hällzon said...

Oooooh, interesting history lesson. I assumed it had stuck around since the beginning, and we all know what assuming does. (It makes and arse of u and Ming. Ming the Merciless doesn't like that.)

Wish as a spell it pretty nuts, even at 9:th level.