Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Rise of the Baller Wizards


Baller Wizards, also known as Slam Thaumaturges (among a host of other names of mysterious provenance), are a sect of wizards practiced in the ancient ways of the basketball court. They are similar in some respects to Muscle Wizards. (With variants found herehere, and here.)

What follows is for old school, OSR-ish, dragon-y dungeon-y games. But there's also a fifth edition version, if you're into that sort of thing.

Appendix N: Barkley, Shut Up and Jam: Gaiden, NBA JamSpace Jam, every Harlem Globetrotters cartoon from the '70s and beyond (but maybe especially their Futurama appearances)

Prime Requisite (if your game uses it): Dexterity
HD: d6
Thac0/to-hit: As thief/rogue
Saves: As magic-user/wizard
Armor and Weapons: Standard: no armor, but can use daggers, darts, quarterstaffs, and slings. They are also trained in the ancient Shaq Fu of B-Ball combat, and so many use their B-Balls in skirmishes as described below.
Movment: Ballers move at 125% speed for a member of their race while unencumbered. So if standard unencumbered speed is 120', they move 150'. You can probably figure out the conversions from there. Round up if it matters.
XP: As magic-user

If you use prime requisites and XP bonuses for exceptional ability scores, Baller Wizards get the appropriate bonuses or penalties based off their Dexterity.

Baller Wizards can still do spell research and magic item creation like normal wizards, although their process tends to be more... idiosyncratic than usual. As you might expect, spell research and magic duels are usually settled on the basketball court.

Starting Baller Wizards get their first B-Ball for free.

"He just got his degree from dunkin' on U!"
B-Ball Magic: Baller Wizards don't use listed spell components, instead relying on their B-Balls as their primary component. (If a spell component requires a monetary cost, the Baller Wizard still has to pay it to perform alchemical maintenance on their B-Balls.) If a Baller Wizard loses their B-Ball, they're not casting. (As noted under the section for B-Balls, they can cast with an appropriately-sized sphere once.)

They don't use spellbooks, instead learning spells as maneuvers on the basketball court. If they acquire an appropriate magic-user scroll, they can "learn" it by practicing with it for an hour, then casting it once into their B-Ball. Rather than the spell's normal effect, they learn it by casting it. (As with Muscle Wizards, you can think of the stored magical energy as being in their muscles rather than their minds.)

Baller Wizards can work glyphs into their dribble patterns to cast spells, but if a Baller Wizard casts an offensive spell through their B-Ball — hitting the target with a ranged attack and centering the effect on the B-Ball — the Baller Wizard is unaffected by their own spell (so you can dunk on someone and cast fireball without ill effect) and the B-Ball does only 1d4 damage without the usual modifers. If the ranged attack misses, the Baller loses the spell but it has no effect (and probably has to retrieve the B-Ball, as explained below).

From Downtown: Baller Wizards can Climb Walls as a thief of the same level. (When in doubt, use Labyrinth Lord, page 13.)

"He's heating up!"
He's on Fire: If you use magic schools in your games, Baller Wizards typically only have access to abjuration and evocation. (Expand that selection if you want; I'm a blog, not a cop.) If there's a spell that makes a lot of sense for a Baller Wizard but doesn't fit their school selection, feel free to let them have it. Don't forget: Baller Wizards still have access to spell research like standard magic-users, so it's perfectly fine to research B-Ball-friendly versions of standard spells, as long as you can justify them.

If you don't use magic schools, let them use spells that make sense to be delivered via B-Ball, or cast via protective sigils worked into their dribbling patterns. (As per Ten Foot Polemic's rules for Punch-casting, it's fine if it's a little silly. That's the point!) They're usually into the flashy protection and offensive spells. But can the character cast charm person by dunking on someone and rewriting their memories, like Gilligan getting hit on the head with a coconut? Up to the GM.

"Boom Shakalaka!"
Jump Shot: Use your favorite system for exceptional jumps if you have one. If you don't, try these: with a running start of at least 20 feet, a Baller Wizard can make a horizontal leap of 3d6 + their level in feet, or a vertical leap of 1d6 + half their level (round up) in feet. Without a running start, a Baller Wizard can make a horizontal leap of 2d4 + half their level (round up) in feet, or a vertical leap of 1d4 + half their level (round down) in feet.

Shaq Fu: All Baller Wizards are trained in ranged combat and specialized in the use of their B-Balls. They get a +1 bonus to ranged attacks and a +2 bonus to damage when using their B-Balls in combat.

"Is it the shoes?"
The B-Ball
The B-Ball is a sacred object, a magically-enhanced sphere used as both the focus of a Baller Wizard's casting and a weapon if needed. (In a pinch, a Baller Wizard can attack with any sphere of appropriate size, although they don't get the +1 attack/+2 damage they do with a B-Ball. They can cast spells with any sphere of appropriate size, but unless it's an artifact or something, the act of casting with it destroys it.) A Baller Wizard's first B-Ball is always acquired with great celebration, either being inherited from a mentor or manufactured by the young apprentice.

Some few self-taught Baller Wizards manufacture their own B-Balls and learn the ancient spells without contact with the wider community; in the bards' tales, most legendary Baller Wizards are claimed to be self-taught.

A B-Ball is a spherical object, roughly thirty inches in circumference, and comprising complex alchemical reagents to give it its characteristic texture and elasticity. Assuming access to a laboratory or other place to work, it takes a Baller Wizard 1d4 weeks to make a B-Ball, and it costs 50gp per week in manufacturing costs.

B-Balls can be used as ranged weapons. They deal 1d4 damage, have a short range of 20', medium range of 40', and long range of 60'. Those who are not specifically trained with them find them difficult to use in combat, and can maybe do 1d3-2 damage with one. (No, you don't heal your opponent on a -1.)

A trained wielder can make a B-Ball bounce back to its owner after a successful hit — so if you hit with a ranged attack or a spell attack, and both hands are free, the ball returns to your hand as part of your attack. (This is not magic, but more like training with a boomerang; if you throw it into a spider web or it gets hit with a force field or something, it's not going to return the way you expect.)

If you miss your target, the B-Ball bounces past it. The easy rule is that your B-Ball still bounces back to you if your target is against a wall or something, rolls to a stop if there's open ground, or bounces off into oblivion if your target is next to a cliff. (This is the most likely reason why you're going to replace your B-Ball.) If you need granularity for some reason (maybe you're playing on the grid), assume the B-Ball bounces 1d6 × 5 feet before rolling to a stop. If the GM is really slick and feels like tracking it, the ball follows contours on the ground like you would expect. Use your common sense.

"MONSTER JAM!"

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