(Edit: A problem I’ve run into with the Mage and Priest is that they can be abused to no end due to the fact that the moves are really open to what is possible. The author has written up some new Mage books that are a little more under control. I still like the idea of the Mage and Priest but before you use them, please set some ground rules as to what is possible before you play.)
I’ve had this conversation with a number of people so I think it warrants an article. In Dungeon World (DW) the usual archetypes are available for play. You have your fighters, thieves, clerics, and wizards. The core classes are solid and work well if you are going for a dungeon crawl kind of game, but something bothers me about the wizard and cleric. They use the same type of spell casting system that Pathfinder and D&D uses. You have a list of spells to pick from and if you roll poorly you lose the spell until you prep your spells again. I didn’t like it. So when I got into DW I looked around and found some alternate playbooks.
These four classes are really good. They capture a lot of the openness that Dungeon World embraces. Wizards are still a good class, but if you want to be able to do more themed magic and less magic missile then you want to give the mage a look.
The big difference between the two classes is that a mage picks a flavor of magic. In my home game our mage is a dragon mage. This does three things for him. First, every focus alters your appearance in some way. My dragon mage has dragon scales instead of skin. Some of the cosmetic effects are pretty minor (aura of static or odd colored eyes) and some are pretty freaky (tail, no eyes, purple skin).
Next there is what you are good at. As a dragon mage his focus is all about reckless destruction, shape changing into dragons, and fire. This doesn’t mean that the mage has to stick with only these types of magic. He can cast any spell he can think of up to a point, but there are two restrictions. Dragon mages can not cast a spell that is subtle or that heals/restores. This is unique to dragon mages.
Now some may think that this makes the mage one of the most powerful classes in the game. I’ll agree that they can do some crazy things, but there are some draw backs. Mages can not cast a perfect spell. Even on a 10+ something about the spell will go wrong. It could be that the spell doesn’t last long, or maybe the spell brings a lot of unwanted attention. That last one is my player’s favorite because he likes a big SFX budget, but he pays for it but attracting every hostile in a five mile radius. It’s not until high level play that you can gain an advanced move that allows you to cast your spell perfectly on a 10+.
Four dollars for four classes may seem like much but trust me they are worth it. Next class I cover will be the priest and I’ll ramble about how a priest can pray circles around a cleric.