In previous editions of D&D you knew that your PC reached the pinnacle of power when he could cast the wish spell. Wish always represented the most powerful and complicated spell in the PHB no matter which version of D&D you were playing. As if to make wish even more desirable, there existed limited wish – a spell that’s only purpose was to give you a diluted taste of the real thing. Now we have 4e D&D and I can’t find wish anywhere. What happened to the wish spell?
As a player I always wanted the wish spell. It was so powerful that it’s only real limit was your imagination. It was a way to use magic to accomplish whatever it was you needed to do when none of the other spell in the game could do it. I remember playing an entire campaign just to help the Wizard get his hands on a wish spell. A Wizard with wish eclipsed all other PCs, even a Paladin with a holy avenger.
As a DM wish was both a bane and a boon. As soon as a PC got his hands on the wish spell you had to be ready for anything. And I mean anything. Players can be unpredictable at the best of time, but when they’ve got the ability to cast wish their actions are no longer limited in any way. The saving grace for DMs was that a wish could be manipulated and twisted in order to subvert the PC’s intended outcome. It’s a mean and underhanded thing to do if you’re a DM, but the PCs have to realize that when they’ve got that kind of power at their fingertips the DM is going to try and balance the scales.
Now we have 4e D&D and wish has disappeared. I suppose it’s not really fair to give Wizards something as limitless as wish and deny the other classes something equally powerful. One of the significant changes between 3e and 4e was the attempt to level the playing filed among the classes. What could you possible give a Fighter that is on par with a wish spell? Anything you think of will only be silly, overwhelming and still not nearly as versatile as wish.
When we had wish in D&D it existed in other places than a Wizard’s spell book. There were items that could grant wishes. A ring of wishes, a luck blade, and the moon card from the deck of many things are just a few examples that come immediately to mind. None of these items exist with their wish granting capabilities in 4e D&D.
Even monsters like the djinns, inspired by myth and legend, and known for having the ability to grant wishes no longer have that power in 4e. They’re still powerful and dangerous opponents, but they won’t be granting PCs wishes any more.
Wish is gone. Is this a good thing? Was it too powerful for PCs in the first place? With every new edition of D&D we got more and more guidelines in the PHB about what a wish could do. In essence the game’s creators tried to define the boundaries of its power. But the very nature of a wish carries with it an unlimited potential, regardless of “suggested uses” listed in the rule book. I think wish needed to be removed to keep the playing field (somewhat) level, but the image of the Wizard as the most powerful character has definitely taken a serious hit because of it.
What do you think? Did you even notice that wish was gone? Should wish be introduced to 4e D&D? How would you keep things balanced with this kind of power available to only one class?