Sunday, August 4, 2019

Sunday Survey: Wizard Spell Failure

Related to last week's survey on permitted armor, I asked another poll on the Facebook 1E AD&D group as follows:

This is even more surprising than last week, because the concept of a chance of "spell failure" for magic-users in armor is absolutely not a concept anywhere in either the 1E or 2E AD&D rulebooks. Nor does it appear in OD&D, Holmes, B/X, etc. (In those rules, multiclass magic-users are either permitted to use certain types of armor or they're not, end of story.)

But it is a core rule that appeared in the later 3E D&D ruleset (PHB, Ch. 7: Equipment). As a result, it also appears in the popular Pathfinder rules. However, it doesn't seem to be part of the 4E or 5E rules from the introductory materials that I have for those editions.

Spell failure for multiclass wizards in armor is not a thing that I assess in my games. That said, I do prohibit even multiclass fighter/wizards from casting in plate in my OED/OD&D game (as noted last week, a very common rule among AD&D players).


  1. Seems too complicated.

    Like I have said previously, if a wizard wants to burden himself with armor, he can. It costs him a little (1 less armor class) but the main cost is burden.

  2. lacking religious or ethnic belief related to metal armor (druids, elves &c) i don't see why a wizard wouldn't wear the best armor he could afford/stand upright in.
    if it's some sort of supernatural effect from the cold iron, wouldn't we think that a fighter in metal armor has a chance to simply ignore the effects of the spell? if it's to do with limiting dexterity, i don't know that armored gauntlets are terribly common outside of platemail. . .

  3. These days, I'm inclined to view magic-user restrictions as a sort of "taboo" required for the mental discipline of casting spells; thus, breaking their own (self-imposed) strictures results in absolute spell failure.