Magic is one of the things that every gamer loves, and with many games taking place in fantasy worlds full of magic it’s important to differentiate your spellcasters. But between all these different classes you might not be able to tell them apart! When designing a class for an RPG game there are several questions we need ask ourselves before diving into creating our spells or feats. For example: what can this character do? How does he fight his enemies? What makes him unique from other characters? And how would they feel about fighting those epic battles day-in and day-out again like some kind of video game side quest?!
In this article, my TTRPG gaming friend, Jared Emanuel, explores one of the most intriguing, mystical, and arguably harder classes to play: the wizard. Whether you’re playing Dungeons and Dragons (DnD), or other tabletop RPG, the wizard is an amazingly fun class to play with fun nuances that go on forever.
An Introduction to Magic: Attitude!
Magic is one of the cornerstones of our favorite tabletop role playing games (TTRPG). But, with only 5 or 6 differences in mechanical design between these magical classes, and the large overlap of spells and feats that any spell caster can use; begs the question: what is the difference between a Wizard and a Bard? Or a Druid and Warlock? Attitude is the answer!
The following prompts should get both players AND GMs thinking about characteristics that make their magical warriors, i.e., the wizard, more special than just another copycat spell thrower.
What is a Wizard?
The Wizard is an academic and a scholar. The stereotypical wizard is a tall old bearded man with a large staff and book in each hand. But of course wizards come in all ages, sizes and genders. Chiefly masters of the Arcane, they attempt to translate abstract magical phenomena into formulas and equations.
A Wizard has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge. This motivation can cause wizards to achieve things thought impossible. Their intelligence makes them highly valued advisors and teachers. The success of many quests depend on the secrets that wizards know, and a wizard is often willing to share what they know.
Summary: Why Play a Wizard?
- Wizards are typically wise, often older characters, and knowledgeable about many secrets (e.g., wise)
- They have a thirst for knowledge and can become masters of the arcane
- Some campaigns depend on the power of wizards to help save them
- wizards are valued advisors and teachers
- They have an unquenchable thirst for knowledge and magical secrets
A Wizard’s Strength
The majority of wizards catalogue and prepare their spells into old grimoires and large tomes. With dozens of spells to choose from and provided enough time, a Wizard usually has the right tool for the job. A wizard is also a healthy sceptic when it comes to other styles of magic and with his wealth of knowledge can easily find the weaknesses of his foes. Their obsessive nature helps them stay focused on their mission.
A dedicated wizard is an implacable foe, so beware before you incur their wrath! From one moment to the next a wizard can of hurl balls of fire to consume their enemies and then conjure powerful abjurative wards to protect their friends.
A Wizard’s Weakness
A Wizard’s passion can quickly become an addiction. A wizard that has gone over the deep end can become blinded by their own ambition. This arrogance can lead them to underestimate their rivals and appear pompous to their allies. A wizard can become frustrated if they see other people fail to study their craft. This attitude belies the jealousy that wizards may have.
Imagine the frustration of spending years mastering a certain spell; but then they meet a pact or innate caster that has an intuitive mastery of magic. Envious wizards can act rashly and do great harm. Wizards though fountains of knowledge, are fallible. Some Wizards have forgotten more about magic than others will ever know. Therefore, wizards depend on spell books and talismans of power; Objects like rings, lockets, or magical animals to harness their full power. A wizard without their arcane focus is at a disadvantage.
A Wizard’s Folly
The folly of a wizard is that they understand many things, they struggle to understand people. Their knowledge of the past and focus on the future make it difficult for them to focus on the present. This makes them seem aloof, arrogant, pompous and flighty. Wizards are excellent at building elaborate schemes to confound their foes.
Masterful masons, exquisite engineers, constructors without compare. But they chose to work with cards. There they sit, impressed by their own brilliance, only to suddenly watch in horror as their foe plucks but one card from the bottom. Many a wizard, good and bad, have had their schemes suddenly end when they were trapped in crystal cave for all time, or their phylactery destroyed by a band of plucky pals on an adventure. And let’s not forget the trees. “A wizard should know better”.
A Wizard’s Fear
Powerful wizards are depicted as old for a reason. Because with age comes experience and with experience comes knowledge. A long life symbolizes success and survival. Therefore, we can assume that wizards have overcome many challenges in their lifetimes.
However, despite their courageous lives it must concluded a wizard fears ignorance above all things. A world that chooses to ignore dangerous truths and repeatedly make the same mistakes is something that a wizard can not abide. Folly can be combated with education; And who better to fight stupid ideas than the intelligent wizard?
A Wizard’s Fight
A long lived wizard spent their youth learning as much as they possibly could about magic. Wizards often place themselves into roles of counselor and mentor to other heroes, they do this to pass on the knowledge they have gained from decades of study and adventuring. They do this to combat the ignorance in the world.
By passing on what they have learned they cement their legacy in the annals of histories yet written. Their magical knowledge can be used to guide kings to act justly, help crops grow, cure the sick, and drive away the charlatan, all this good accomplished and not a single fireball cast!
Alternatively, a wizard may seek to combat “ignorance” by positioning themselves into stations of great authority. If ignorant masses can not make decisions that please him, then the wizard may very well use their power to exert control over their mediocre lives.
If the ignorant can not learn to think for themselves, then they can be taught to obey. Obedience is certainly a step above ignorance. In order to cement their legacy a wizard determined to bring the world to heel may forgo dispensing knowledge and instead focus on achieving immortality.
A Wizard’s Dreams
The stereotype of a Wizard is a wizened old figure, that has spent an extra long life in pursuit of their goals. They doggedly pursue their purpose, against all odds. They will continue to fight their foes, sometimes from beyond the grave, until they achieve victory, or humiliated in defeat.
The Wizard sees the big picture, but often can not foresee the obstacles in their path. They strive to build empires, either by aiding righteous kings defeat evil, or dominating the land themselves. Especially ambitious wizards may seek to turn themselves immortal. They seek knowledge to understand the world. And of course knowledge is power. Or perhaps in a fit of vanity, they use their knowledge to make the world submit to their power.
Wizards are the quintessential spellcasters in fantasy RPGs. They have a variety of spells and abilities that allow them to change the world around them, but they’re also vulnerable to attack from enemies who can do the same thing.
Wizards may be arrogant or aloof at times. But, it is because their power comes with great responsibility; not just for themselves, but for those around them as well!
In this article we’ve explored some of the qualities that make up a wizard’s character: what fears drive these powerful beings? How do they fight against ignorance? What does success look like when you’re an expert in magic? And finally how might wizards dream about using their powers differently than other characters?
Don’t forget to read my other article about Spellcasters with Attitude: Sorcerers.
I hope you guys enjoyed this article, and I hope it gets you thinking about how to create unique characters for your campaign! I’m always looking for new ideas so please share them with me in the comments below!