Saturday, August 18, 2018

Seeking the "Generic" Wizard

When it comes to creating the “generic” or “orthodox” Wizard, several instant categories come to mind; mostly to do with specific spells. Firstly, fireballs and summoning creatures are both classic examples of Wizards, but step on the toes of specific classes (such as Summoners, Witches, Elementalists, etc.). Invisibility & Knock is also a classic Wizard spells, but it makes the thief outdated and almost useless. Flight and Instant Travel (ie; teleportation) are also contenders, but are too powerful and universally useful in most campaigns for Wizards.

So instead; I boiled down Wizards without the above to create the most generic and traditional suite of powers I thought fit the Orthodox Wizard;
  • Create/Control Arcane Energy
  • Animate (Inanimate) Objects
  • Discern the Invisible or Hidden
  • Levitate/Hold Beings
Create/Control Arcane Energy is a good one; as it fits with things like magic missile, prismatic spray and wall, and fits with all other evocations and generic Wizard spells that aren't tied to elements.

Animate Objects is one that's very fitting, in my opinion. I think of Wizards as from Disney, such as Mickey Mouse in the Fantasia short, or the Sword in the Stone's Merlin, or even Beauty and the Beast's anthropomorphized objects as good examples of what I'd consider an animated object. Not just floating around, but also not totally humanized either. I see the “Animate” keyword as to mean giving human qualities, not just motion, so I see spells like Magic Mouth and Alarm (when an object is moved) also counting towards the animation, which is classic Wizard stuff.

Discern the Invisible or Hidden is a tougher discipline. It's very classic of Wizards to learn the passcodes to secret doors, like Gandalf, but may step on player skill and classes or characters that specialize in secrets and lore. Revealing the invisible at least is pretty obvious; faerie fire or glitterdust are classic examples- along with the Corona spell from dungeon crawl stone soup, though technically that's for Enchanters in that game. As an aside, one of my favorite things from Harry Potter was when Professor Snape commanded the Marauder's map to “reveal its secrets to him”, as though this is common practice to reveal invisible or hidden things, simply throwing around your Wizardly authority.

Finally Levitate/Hold beings is a classic among Wizards. While “levitate” implies a calm and gentle motion, it doesn't imply flight, which is a good start. However I also like to imagine it being able to used as a quick slam or shove, such as to throw people off a cliff or off horses, which is pretty fitting to a non-elemental Wizard's combat potential. Hold person/being is also a classic of Wizards.

There- I think this list of archetypal spells is very well fitting to a non-elemental and generic Wizard. While very specific, I think it helps give personality to the class without being an “everyman”.


  1. I think the one element maaaybe missing would be the conjuration of shields, force-fields etc. Maybe that's what the generic Wizard is all about, creating invisible objects/weapons out of "force". Magic Missile, Shield, Levitate, Hold Person, Floating Disk, Knock, Lock.

    1. I agree, though the generic wizard for this post is a direct reference to tomorrow's post. I tried to keep the different magical disciplines from bleeding into each other too much, and I thought that I'd want to keep protection based magic more something closer to a generic white mage, abjurer, or Sage. I do think you're on to something though with creating invisible forces or creating qualia without the full package; Illusionists might make illusions which are form without physicality, but wizards are all about physicality without form.

    2. Qualia isn't used enough, and your last line is spot on. Conjuration is obviously both physicality and form, is there something that lacks both? Divination perhaps?

    3. Sudden image: you know how on-stage special effects sometimes use people dressed in black to manipulate actors? That, but demons. Dozens of them, scurrying around punching people for Magic Missile, blocking stuff from moving past a certain point etc.

      I need more/less sleep

    4. No- I get it. If you enjoy that sort of fluff, then the demon idea wearing "black suits" for reality makes perfect sense to explain spells like unseen servants and invisible energies.