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Wild Magic

One of the newest discoveries from the great lands of the Forgotten Realms is wild magic. Originally considered little more than the unfortunate by-product of an epic struggle among the gods of that world, the strange effects of the wild lands (as those areas affected by wild magic are known) have attracted the attention of many a curious or scholarly wizard.

In general, two types of wizards are drawn to these strange areas. The first are the researchers: wizards devoted to the study of the theoretical underpinnings of magic. For them, the wild areas expose long-hidden secrets of the magical universe and give new insights into how magical energy functions. From their work have evolved the beginnings of a theory of random magic—one that defies the traditional schools.

The second type of wizard drawn to the wild lands is far less rigorous and methodical. These spellcasters are attracted by the sheer randomness and uncertainty of the wild lands. Such mages seek to incorporate wild magic into their spells by combining traditional magic with the new theories of random magic, throwing in a dose of their own chaotic natures as an extra measure. These wizards are the true wild mages who have been seen recently in various lands.

Although initially discovered and researched on Toril, the FORGOTTEN REALMSŪ campaign world, the art of wild magic has quickly spread to other places. Wild mages, through teleporting, spelljamming, planar hopping, and even walking, have carried the precepts of wild magic to lands and worlds far removed from Toril.

Wild Mages

With the discovery of wild magic has come the appearance of wizards devoted to its study. Like their traditional specialist brethren, wild mages have thrown themselves into the intense study of a single aspect of magic. This has given them unique benefits and restrictions on their powers. Wild magic is so different from traditional magic that only those devoted to its study may cast wild magic; no wizard other than a wild mage may attempt to use the spells of wild magic.

Wild mages are by no means specialist wizards—at least not in the traditional sense. Wild mages do not study within the confines of schools. Instead, their research into new theories of wild magic carries them into all different fields. Wild magic has strengths in some areas (particularly divination and evocation), but it is not confined to any single school of magic. The proponents of wild magic proudly trumpet their art's broad base and flexibility as its great advantages.

Of course, these same advocates are quick to downplay wild magic's drawbacks. First and foremost, it is wild magic. On rare occasions, any spell can have dangerously unpredictable results, including backfiring or creating an entirely different effect from what was desired. More commonly, the magnitude of a spell—range, duration, area of effect, or even damage—may fluctuate from casting to casting. Spells cast by wild mages are inherently unpredictable.

Only characters with Intelligence of 16 or greater are qualified to become wild mages. The theories of wild magic are breaking new ground, and only characters of high intelligence are able to decipher the arcane convolutions of its meta-mathematical theory. Although wild magic is chaotic on the surface, study in this field requires diligence and discipline.

There are no restrictions to the alignment of a wild mage. The race of a wild mage is limited to those races with competency at magic; thus, only humans, elves, and half-elves can be wild mages. Gnomes have some magical talent, but lack the broad base of skills and knowledge necessary to master this new field.

Wild mages must abide by the normal restrictions for all wizards concerning weapons and armor. They use the same THAC0 and saving throw values of traditional wizards. They progress in level according to the Wizard Experience Levels and Wizard Spell Progression tables (Table 20 and Table 21 in the Player's Handbook).

Wild mages have several abilities and restrictions. Like specialists, wild mages are able to memorize one extra spell per spell level. This spell must be a wild magic spell, although it can be from any school; wild mages have no opposition schools as do specialists.

Wild mages receive a bonus of +10% when learning new wild magic spells and a -5% penalty when learning other spells. Because wild magic is somewhat "fast and loose," wild mages can research new spells as if they were one level less difficult, decreasing the amount of time and money needed to create new spells.

Certain magical items behave differently in the hands of a wild mage. This is due to his understanding of the random processes that power them. Most notable of these is the wand of wonder. The wild mage has a 50% chance of controlling the wand, allowing him to use charges from the wand to cast any spell he already knows (but does not need to have memorized). The number of charges used by the wand is equal to the number of levels of the spell desired. If the attempt fails, only one charge is used and a random effect is generated.

The wild mage can control the following items 50% of the time, thereby allowing him to select the result or item instead of relying on chance: amulet of the planes, bag of beans, bag of tricks, deck of illusions, deck of many things, and the well of many worlds.

Level Variations

The most broad-reaching aspect of the wild mage's powers is his approach to spells. The wild mage's work with the principles of uncertainty affects all spells that have a level variable for range, duration, area of effect, or damage. Each time a wild mage uses a spell with a level variable, he randomly determines the resulting casting level of the spell. The spell may function at lesser, equal, or greater effect than normal. The degree of variation depends on the true level of the caster, as shown in

To determine the level at which the spell is cast, the player must roll 1d20 at the moment the spell is cast. The variation from the caster's actual level is found at the point where the character's true level and the die roll intersect. (True level refers to the current experience level of the wild mage.) If the result is a positive number, that many levels are added to the caster's true level for purposes of casting the spell. If the result is a negative number, that many levels are subtracted from the caster's true level. If the result is 0, the spell is cast normally. The variation of a spell's power has no permanent effect on the mage's experience level or casting ability.

For example, Theos, a 7th-level wild mage, casts a fireball. He wishes it to take effect 70 yards away at the site of a band of advancing orcs. Fireball has level variables for range (10 yds.+10 yds./level) and damage (1d6/level). A die roll is made on the Level Variation Table with a result of 19, indicating a level variation of +3. The fireball functions as if cast by a 10th-level wizard (7+3) and easily reaches its target, causing 10d6 points of damage. If the level variation had been -3 (die roll of 2), the spell would have operated as if it were 4th level. In this case, the fireball would have fallen short since its maximum range would have been 50 yards (10 yds+ 10 yds 1d4).

One additional effect can occur when casting level-variable spells. If the result from Table 1 is boldfaced, the caster has inadvertently created a wild surge in the spell in addition to the spell's effects. A wild surge briefly opens a doorway through which raw magical energy pours. The energy is incompletely controlled by the actions of the spellcaster. The result, often spectacular, is seldom what the caster intended and is sometimes a smaller or greater version of the desired spell. At other times, wildly improbable results occur. Songs may fill the air, people might appear out of nowhere, or the floor may become a pool of grease. Whatever happens, it is the essence of wildness.

When a wild surge occurs, the DM must roll on Table 2. Unlike many other instances in the AD&D® game in which the DM is encouraged to choose a suitable result, wild surges are best resolved by random chance. Actively choosing a result biases the nature of wild magic. DMs are encouraged to be random and have fun.

Wild Magic Tables

Results

Unless otherwise noted, all spells created by a wild surge occur at the designated target point and function normally (appropriate saving throws are allowed). The caster's true level is used when calculating range, duration, area of effect, etc. of these spells.

The above list, while long, is only a small fraction of the possible results of a wild surge. The DM is free to create his own tables for wild surges.

Tables like the one above cannot take into account the situation at the instant of casting. It is not feasible to create tailored effects for every spell used in every possible way. Therefore, it is quite likely that some wild magic results will make no sense, be impossible, or have no visible effect. In these cases, the wild surge has no effect. For example, if a mage were casting a wizard lock on a door and triggered a wild surge with the result "Target changes sex," no effect would be visible, since doors do not have a sex (at least as far as we know). Likewise, a rock might be hastened or a snake might have its feet enlarged. In these cases, nothing happens—at least nothing that affects play. When determining the result of wild magic, the DM must use his best judgment.

Finally, not even the randomness of wild surges should be allowed to ruin the story of an adventure. As ultimate storyteller and arbiter of the game, the DM can overrule any wild surge he deems too destructive to the adventure. If this happens, reroll the dice to get a new result. In a case such as this, do not treat a wild surge as having no effect.

Clearly, wild mages are a risky proposition. Not every player will want to play a wild mage; not every party will want a wild mage. The DM should not add benefits to the wild mage, hoping to the make the class more "attractive" to his players. Players who like wild mages will play them without bribery. They will find the uncertainty and randomness of wild mages irresistible; these are the players for whom the wild mage was created.

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