Years ago, a hot topic on this blog and some forums I was in was the “magic blast” attack power for magic-users. I had originally proposed it in order to make lower-level magic-users a bit more fun for players as a magical version of throwing daggers along the lines of Harry, Ron, and Hermione going “Stupefy! Stupefy! Stupefy!” at the bad guys with their wands.
Surprisingly to me, it created a troll-sized controversy that just kept regenerating hit points. And, even though I tried to understand objections and keep an open mind, I never really grokked most of the arguments against it or understood the points of those who were telling me what the players of low-level magic-users should be doing instead.
We used it for a while but tossed it at some point. It never did seem to break the game or transform it into 4th Edition. In fact, the ease with which we both implemented it and discarded it indicates to me that it’s not a big deal at all.
I’m looking at it again. Currently, I have expanded the daggers-only B/X rules to also allow staff, sling, and club for magic-users, so slinging is a common tactic for magic-users in combat who aren’t casting a spell. Again, this doesn’t seem to have broken anything. And I suspect that the players of magic-user characters are having more fun than “I’m holding the torch” every round during a fight.
I am planning to use 1d4 damage (like a thrown dagger), requiring a to-hit roll (like a thrown dagger), requiring the availability of one hand (like a thrown dagger) for a wand or staff, and using the missile adjustment for Dexterity (like a thrown dagger). I’m going to go with sling ranges (40-80-161) and normal to-hit adjustment for range. I might go with a damage bonus (or automatic maximum damage) on a to-hit roll of 20, and I may increase damage a bit at high levels.
I have a few additional non-combat abilities I’m adding for the magic-user, also based more or less on things I’ve done in the past, but need to work out the exact details before implementing. In addition to my enhanced magical research house rules, I think I’m finally getting close to both making magic-users more magical and justifying their XP requirements, which I think are a bit excessive relative to the other classes.