The STR 18 Wizard

I love playing against type. For that matter, I love playing to type as well, but this isn’t a post about that. If you’re looking for a blogpost about how to optimize your INT 22 Wizard out the wazoo, I’m afraid you’re going to have to look elsewhere. No, this is all about the Other Guys.

You know the ones. The characters who are anything but their class archetypes – the smelly ugly CHA 5 Dwarf Bard, the STR 6/WIS 18 Halfling Fighter (who happens to be a Katana Master), the Paladin who wears muddy leather armour and swears like a trooper. These are the ones who are interesting.

You don’t have to penalize your most important stat to play against type, but there’s a lot to be said for putting it in second (or even third) place. Your Wizard doesn’t have to be the cleverest. But he could be the strongest.

Which leads us neatly to this guy.




The STR 18 Wizard is a wondrous thing. Possessing the physicality of a member of the Martial professions yet a keen mind belonging to one of the Arcane, he feels truly neither one nor the other. The sword-wielders fear his magical prowess yet his weedy Arcane peers mark him out as untrustworthy and a pretender to the noble profession. After all – who heard of a Wizard with muscles?

Perhaps he was trained as a Blacksmith before being selected by the local Wizard as his new Apprentice (the last one exploded), or a member of a Barbarian clan who was born with the gift to see the Magic of the Universe ™. He could be a follower of Kord, dedicated to perfection in body as well as mind. Or he could simply be really, really strong. Whatever the reason, he has the muscles to back up his Arcane prowess, and that ain’t a thing to be sniffed at.

When it comes to character generation, the easy route (and the one I would take) is to play a Human. That +2 attribute bonus, extra Feat, etc, are just too good to pass up. There’s nothing wrong with choosing a different race though – Genasi, Dragonborn and even Dwarf as all good starting choices. But not Halfling. That’s just wrong.

Spend a Feat giving him Weapon Proficiency (Greataxe) so he’s got something to lean on, pick a Background Option which unlocks Intimidate as a Class Skill (such as Bearer of the Heirloom from Martial Power 2) and you’ve got a Big Scary Guy who looks every inch the barbaric warrior. At least, until he launches a Fireball at your hairy ass.

Using 4e D&D’s high-stat philosophy, it’s more than possible to generate a STR 18/INT 16 Human Wizard using point buy. For a hero such as the one pictured above, stats of STR 18, CON 12, DEX 10, INT 16, WIS 8, CHA 12 would work fine.

The STR 18/INT 16 Wizard is only one attribute bonus less efficient than your typical INT 18 Wizard but with a STR of 18 instead of the usual 10 he is much better at the physical side of things. The only weakness is the low hit points for someone able to go toe-to-toe, so take Toughness as the free Human Feat and you’re good to go. He might not be as capable as a Fighter when it comes to close combat, but he’ll certainly be able to hold his head high and stand his ground.

Choose Spells to fit your concept, and he’s ready. One STR 18 Wizard full of magical ripply muscled goodness.


16 Comments on “The STR 18 Wizard”

  1. Wow! I really like this one. I, too, like to create atypical characters, but of course, back in my AD&D days, you couldn’t easily greataxe a mage. Still, was stopped me from doing this in GURPS or other games?

    1. True. Funny how in all those Other Games we still reverted to D&D type for our characters. Either that, or created yet another Grey Mouser clone.

      I find that 4e is the first edition of D&D where it’s possible to mess around with the tropes of the classes to your heart’s content. Third Edition was fairly good, but 4e is streets ahead in flexibility. Best D&D char gen, ever.

      One of my favourite characters from our games is a Fighter who took Religion as a class skill (thanks to a Background Option) and the Ritual Caster Feat – one instant Van Helsing style monster hunter. Simple, yet oh so brilliant.

  2. I love that my Sorcerer’s weapon of choice is a great big axe. I worry that 4e lacks awesome spells like Bull’s Strength and Tenser’s Transformation to really take advantage of that already existing Strength.

    1. I’m sure the Buff spells will be back at some point, probably as Rituals which can be can cast between encounters or somesuch mechanism.

      Expect them around PHB 5, I guess :()

  3. @ Greywulf: “Best D&D char gen, ever.”

    I have to disagree. I made a total of 3 characters using 4th ed Chargen, and really . . . It was not the best chargen I ever did for D&D. Honestly.

      1. By the way, are you having a problem with any of Ghost of MacBeth’s morphs in DSA (ver. 3.1?) I’m trying to do a character with your handle as a name, he’s an orc of course, and I can’t *morph* his head.

        1. I’ve not tried them under the latest Beta, and don’t have them installed right now. I’ll re-install the M4 Warrior and give it a try over this weekend to see it there’s any problems.

      2. Oh, by the way. I think you did write a blogpost to the effect of character generation in “4th edition.”

        I tried to make a noble character once, a courtier. Everyone got mad at me. I’m resigned at the fact that 4th Edition is really a ridged system if I can’t make one courtier.

        1. Making a courtier is pretty easy. Just choose Noble as a Background Option, and you’re done. Choose a Class to reflect his training, and he’s ready to play.

          This way you can have a Courtier with a background in Music (Bard), Religion (Cleric), Academic studies (Wizard), Politics (Rogue), Combat (Fighter or Paladin) or several different areas. If you want a Courtier who has dabbled in Politics and Religion, for example, make him a Hybrid Rogue/Cleric. If you want a true “jack of no trades” fop, make him a Hybrid Rogue/Cleric and the Student of the Sword multi-class Feat and you’ve effectively got a Triple classed character!

          See what I mean about flexibility – a character is much more than just their Class and combat abilities. With this edition of D&D you can create not just one Courtier, but many, and all very different and unique.

  4. I really love the Character concept you’ve developed, not only from a role-playing point-of-view, but also in light of my post discussing the problems with character (over-)optimization. Your 18 STR Wizard goes totally against type, is not “optimized” for his race and class by the measure of many “board-trolls”, but looks like he’d be a total blast to play! (pun unintended)

    It makes me feel good to see a Character that is not merely a sum of the “best in” powers, feats, and skills for a class, but instead is a blending of personality, good storytelling, and a bit of whimsy to make a memorable and fun Character.

    Oh yea, and ripped abs. I’m sure that’s helpful somehow too.

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