I’ll never forget my first foray into wizardry. It was my maiden voyage in Pathfinder combat, and I was a fresh-minted wizard. As a card-carrying member of Team Evocation, my spellbook was full to bursting with… not much really. (We were first level after all.) But I had burning hands on the list, and I wasn’t afraid to use it!

So no shit there we were, half a mile out of town en route to baby’s first dungeon. We heard some rustling in the hedgerows when, despite the common wisdom, we decided to investigate. It turned out to be a fantasy classic: a pair of orcish highwaymen, large as life and twice as ugly. They demanded all our precious copper pieces, we demanded they role initiative, and my dude got the first turn. Lucky me, the orcs were foolishly standing within a 15′ cone.

“I have a spell for this!” says my wizard. So first round of the first combat of my first Pathfinder game, my noodle-armed nerd charges a pair of melee bruisers.

“Burning hands!” says I.

As it turns out, 1d4 damage in a 15′ cone does not kill orcs. It annoys them.

I learned that day that a d6 hit die means “stand in the back.” Spells are cool and all, but you’ve got to have the chassis to support it. This is the same reason that transformation is less than stellar in Pathfinder, and why Witch’s experiment with Tasha’s otherworldly guise is doomed to fail. Sure you can build for it. Some niche characters can probably focus on it. But if you’re a run-of-the-mill caster, deliberately stepping into melee with a fistful of buffs and a dream is (as my long-ago Wizard discovered) not the best idea.

So how about it, guys? Have you ever made a “mage tank” work? Or do you too have a sad story of your own overconfident wizard getting lit up by orcs? Tell us your tale down in the comments!


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