Exploring RPG Classes: The Wizard
A Wizard Is Never Late, Because All Parties Need One
Try to find a move that gets more screams out of players in a TTRPG table than a well placed fireball, and fail. The wizard is the most traditional arcane conjurer in RPGs, and the popularity of this class remains for lots of reasons. Let’s talk about the reasons why those iconic and traditional spellslingers still carry so much clout.
The Secret Is in the Secrets
Wizards are mostly presented as powerful and wise people, the guardians of knowledge that not everyone should have. We often think first about Gandalf, Dumbledore, Merlin and a lot of characters that fall into the old white male with a giant beard stereotype. But it’s not the age, the cape, the staff, the robe or the beard that defines a wizard. It’s the secrets. Wizards learn strange languages, read forgotten books, sacrifice their days studying in long lost libraries and plunge into dungeons searching for marvelous artifacts. They are focused on the knowledge, on discovering and protecting it, and, most of the time, deciding who needs to access it.
Think of a wizard as a librarian, one that probably can zap you with lightning, ice and acid, but their focus is the knowledge of magic, above all. And librarians can come in any shape, size, race or gender, so you really don’t have to stick to old white men.
Power, LIMITED POWER!
Most RPG systems have limitations for the use of magic. Wizards tend to be on the end that has more restrictions than other kinds of characters. It’s usual that the principle of Vancian magic dictates that Wizards “Forget” a spell once they use it. Or maybe, in your world/game they have a mana pool or are haunted by paradoxes when they use too much power.
Any way you are playing, you probably have a limited use of your magic, you cannot nuke every enemy or solve every problem with a huge fireball. Magic is not the solution for every problem. It’s a powerful tool, with lots of creative uses. But harnessing the powers of changing reality is dangerous, and due to power balance and not outshining your party, wizards can’t cast magic all the time. And that’s so much more interesting than going trigger happy like you used a cheat code for infinite ammo.
Break the Rules, and Look Good Doing It
You have been there before. A trapped castle, a gloomy dungeon, an unholy temple. You have that last door to open before you can be free, everything is falling apart and you need to get away as fast as possible, but it’s humanly impossible. Well, good thing you had that final spell in store. Of course, a rogue can get away from most things with flair and acrobatics, a monk can do wu-xia jumps and bend physics, a fighter can stab things very fast, but a wizard… He can make the challenge go away as if it never was.
Even if we ignore the most common uses of magic: flying, throwing lightning, making portals, there are still a lot of creative ways to open a door, defeat an ogre, or even escape from a temple of certain doom. You can be creative with every class, but being a wizard gives you access to a lot of resources that most classes don’t have, and you can certainly abuse that. And who doesn’t like a plot twist with a little magic trick?
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