Wizard (Dungeons & Dragons)

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"Magic-user" redirects here. Magic-user may also refer to "spellcaster", "magician", or "magic in fiction".
Wizard / Mage / Magic-User
Characteristics
Role Controller
Power source Arcane
Alignment Any
Publication history
Editions All
(as a standard class) All
First appearance Men & Magic
Image Wizards.com image
Stats OGL stats

The wizard is one of the standard character class in the Dungeons & Dragons fantasy role-playing game.[1] A wizard uses arcane magic, and is considered less effective in melee combat than other classes.

Publication history[edit]

Creative origins[edit]

The Magic-User class was inspired by the spell-casting magicians common in folklore and modern fantasy literature, particularly as portrayed in Jack Vance's The Dying Earth short stories, and John Bellairs's novel "The Face in the Frost." Gandalf and Saruman from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and Merlin of King Arthur fame also influenced this class.[2]

Wizards memorize their spells, then forget them when cast in the fashion of magicians from Jack Vance's Dying Earth series of novels.[3]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)[edit]

In the original version of the game, magic-user was one of the base character classes.[1] Magic-User was one of the three original classes, the other two being Fighting Man (renamed Fighter in later editions) and Cleric.[4]

The Magic-User was physically weak and vulnerable, but compensated for this with the potential to develop powerful spellcasting abilities. In practice a mid- to high-level Magic-User was a combination intelligence gatherer and walking artillery, gathering information about possible dangers not yet seen and augmenting the physical combat abilities of the other classes with potentially devastating long range and area attacks.

The term "Magic-User" was invented for the original Dungeons & Dragons rules developed by Gary Gygax and Dave Arneson (in order to avoid cultural connotations of terms such as "wizard" or "warlock"[citation needed]).

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 1st edition (1977-1988)[edit]

The magic-user was one of the standard character classes available in the original Player's Handbook.[5] "Magic-User" continued to be used in the first edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (AD&D) rules.

The 1st Edition of AD&D also included a subclass of the magic-user called the illusionist,[6] which had different spell lists, different experience level tables, and slightly fewer maximum hit dice (10 instead of 11). Gnomes were also able to become illusionists, even though only human, elves, and half-elves could become magic-users. Magic-user spells and illusionist spells were for the most part separated and had little overlap. Of all the AD&D classes, only the magic-user had spells of the 8th and 9th levels; all other spell-casting classes were limited to spells of up to 7th level.

Dungeons & Dragons (1977-1999)[edit]

"Magic-User" continued to be used in the simplified Dungeons & Dragons rules set.

Advanced Dungeons & Dragons 2nd edition (1989-1999)[edit]

Opposition schools in 2nd Edition
Alteration Illusion Enchantment
Divination Conjuration
Invocation Necromancy Abjuration

The mage, as part of the "wizard" group, was one of the standard character classes available in the second edition Player's Handbook.[5] The second edition of AD&D discarded the term "Magic-User" in favor of "mage".

The second edition Player's Handbook gives a few examples of mages from legend and myth: Merlin, Circe and Medea.[7]

In 2nd Edition AD&D, the magic-user (now called "mage") became an all-purpose wizard who could cast any wizardly spell, including many of the 1st-edition illusionist-only spells, such as color spray or chromatic orb. Instead of their own spell lists, illusionists became one of many specialist wizard types who could cast only a part of the full list of wizard spells (though with various bonuses). The other specialists were: abjurers, conjurers, diviners, enchanters, invokers, necromancers, and transmuters, each representing a "school" of magical study. Since each specialist wizard type now used the same basic spell lists, all wizards could use up to 9th level spells, if they had the required intelligence.

The Complete Wizard's Handbook was published in 1990, written by Rick Swan.[5] The book covers three aspects of wizards in detail: their school of magic (such as illusion or necromancy), their "wizard kit" (subclass, such as mystic, witch, or militant wizard), and by their career (such as alchemist or treasure-hunter).[5] The book also includes new spells, and rules for spell research, adjudicating illusions, and casting spells in unusual conditions.[5] The book introduced the wizard kit, a character package for a wizard with role-playing hooks linked to game benefits and limitations; some examples of wizard kits include the Academician, the Anagokok, the Amazon Sorceress and the Witch.[8]

The Tome of Magic (1991) introduced elementalists, which allowed wizards to specialize in spells related to one of the classical elements of earth, fire, air, or water. Another addition was wild magic, which promised greater power, but also a built-in chance of backfire or other side effects.

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000-2007)[edit]

The third edition of the game (dropping the word Advanced and now just called Dungeons & Dragons) renamed the mage to "Wizard". The term "magic user" is rarely used in the current edition of the game, and when it is used it is usually a synonym for an arcane spellcaster or for an arcane spellcasting character class.

A similar paradigm of spell schools was retained for the 3rd edition of D&D as well. Despite removing the restrictions on race/class combinations, D&D 3.0 edition retained the gnomish affinity for becoming illusionists by making illusionist (not wizard) the gnome's favored class. This was dropped in the 3.5 edition in favor of bard.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition (2008-)[edit]

The wizard is available as a character class in the game's fourth edition. The wizard utilizes the Arcane power source and is a Controller, which means the wizard focuses on multi-target damage spells, as well as debuffing foes and altering the battlefield's terrain.

The mage is a similar class offered in the D&D Essentials line. Instead of implement mastery, the mage focuses on a primary and secondary school of magic. Mages have access to all the same wizard powers, however.

The bladesinger, witch, and sha'ir were also released as alternative wizard classes.

Wizard spell preparation and casting[edit]

Wizards cast their spells by using their acquired magical knowledge (augmented by their Intelligence score) and experience. In particular, they learn most new spells by seeking out magical writings and copying them into their spellbooks, a method that allows them (unlike sorcerers) to master any number of permissible spells once they find them, assembling a broad and versatile arsenal of power. Many wizards see themselves not only as spell casters but also as philosophers, inventors, and scientists, studying a system of natural laws that are for the most part unknown and undiscovered. Once the 3rd edition introduced skills to D&D, wizards' best skills became those that involved either magic or other scholarly or applied knowledge as history, nature, and geography.

Resting: Wizards need to rest prior to spell casting. This may be in the form of sleep or meditation. A wizard who refuses to sleep and then goes on a spell casting binge (which is not entirely impossible, but rare due to temporal allowances) will grow weary - possibly delusional - and may experience many negative health effects.

Memorization / Preparation: In order to prepare spells from their spellbooks, wizards need comfortable quiet areas to study. The spell is read, spoken, or memorized up until the trigger. This is the easiest and most efficient way to cast arcane magic as a wizard because it means the wizard needs only to perform the trigger element of the spell when the need arises to cast it. There may be a temporal limit in spell casting and this could be the reason why wizards can only cast a certain number of spells of various degrees in one day.

A weakness of wizards is that they cannot cast an arcane spell that they have not prepared, so they are extremely vulnerable if caught in a situation they did not expect. To minimize this, wizards often develop their problem-solving ability to anticipate which spells may be most useful, and some may enhance this with abilities such as foresight.

Unprepared and Daily spells, and Rituals (4th edition): In the 4th edition, wizards only needed to prepare their most powerful attack spells, those which could be used only once a day, and their utility spells. Generally, a wizard had two spells to choose from for each daily and utility power slot; however the Expanded Spellbook and the "Remembered Wizardry" feats increased this number to three or four with both, and non-wizard spells, including those from wizard-exclusive feats, paragon paths and epic destinies, could not be swapped out in this way. Their less powerful spells could be used per encounter or at will, without preparation or selection beforehand. In addition, wizards performed most noncombat magics (such as opening locks, specialized healing, or transportation) through extended rituals requiring many minutes of work though no particular preparation. Although rituals were not exclusive to Wizards, they were one of the two PHB classes who gained Ritual Caster feat automatically as a class feature, and were the only one of the eight classes which learned free rituals as they increased in level.

Casting: When the need calls for a certain spell to be cast, wizards will allow their thoughts to retreat back into their consciousness in order to obtain it, and it often appears that wizards are in trances while they are casting. While there is some credence to that, they are not so much entranced that they cannot recognize the immediate perils surrounding them.

When they find the spell they want, wizards will then complete the trigger sequence. This is the common view of a wizard casting: voicing several strange words, utilizing some arcane component, like tossing pixie dust, and perhaps making some sort of quirky hand movement. In actuality every part of the sequence must be exact or else the wizard may miscast, misfire, cast an entirely different spell, or cast nothing at all.

For example to trigger the spell Ignite Wood, a wizard would need to first speak the final words of the spell and then spread shavings of brimstone and sulphuric ash reagents onto the desired piece of wood to ignite.


School specialization[edit]

Wizards may specialize in one or more of eight schools of magic, choosing their specialty at 1st level. Specialization was introduced in the 2nd Edition of D&D (although the 1st Edition included the Illusionist as a separate class similar to wizards). In Edition 3.5, specialist wizards can prepare one extra spell from their chosen school per spell level each day, while as a consequence of their more focused studies, they also give up the use of two schools of magic other than Divination (note: specialists in Divination only give up one school). There is the "Master Specialist" that allows a wizard even greater power in one school, but it also further reduces their range of spells to choose from.

The eight schools of magic are:

  • Abjuration: spells of protection, blocking, and banishing. Specialists are called abjurers.
  • Conjuration: spells that bring creatures or materials. Specialists are called conjurers.
  • Divination: spells that reveal information. Specialists are called diviners.
  • Enchantment: spells that magically imbue the target or give the caster power over the target. Specialists are called enchanters.
  • Invocation/Evocation: spells that manipulate energy or create something from nothing. Specialists are called evokers.
  • Illusion: spells that alter perception or create false images. Specialists are called illusionists.
  • Necromancy: spells that manipulate life or life force. Specialists are called necromancers.
  • Transmutation: spells that transform the target. Specialists are called transmuters.

Some few spells do not fall into these schools, and are called universal spells. These spells are available to all wizards, and this "school" cannot be taken as a specialty school or given up for another specialty.

Common specialist-archetypes[edit]


Beguiler (Enchantment/Illusionist)[edit]

Beguilers are similar to rogues, but possess a small suite of spells cast spontaneously, like a Sorcerer. Their spells are primarily focused on stealth and the manipulation of others; they also have the Cloaked Casting class feature, which raises the save DC and gives them a bonus on rolls to overcome spell resistance when casting a spell on an unaware target.


Duskblade (Abjuration/Transmutation)[edit]

Duskblades combine combat prowess with the ability to cast arcane magic while in light or medium armor. Their spell selection is limited and generally focused on a single target; however, their spells get a bonus against enemies whom they have struck in melee combat. They cast spells spontaneously, like a Sorcerer, but their spells are based on Intelligence, like a Wizard


Necromancer (Necromancy/Divination)[edit]

Necromancers are focused students of undeath, fear-inducing magic, and evil-aligned spells. They cast spells spontaneously like a Sorcerer and do not have the breadth of a specialist wizard necromancer. Necromancers are also more combat-oriented than most arcane spellcasters, able to wear light armor without impacting their spells and possessing numerous abilities. Eventually, a Dread Necromancer can become a lich.


Summoner (Conjuration/Transmutation)[edit]

Summoners calls forth magical creatures to attack enemies and/or protect party members.


Warmage (Abjuration/Evocation)[edit]

Warmages are battle-oriented mages associated with large army battles who focus on damage-dealing spells. They may cast spells while wearing light (and later, medium) armor.

Campaign settings[edit]

Dark Sun[edit]

Dark Sun world wizards include defilers, whose powers come at the expense of the ecosystem; preservers, who wield magic in concert with the environment; and illusionists, specialists in illusory effects who may be either defilers or preservers. Owing to the scarcity of natural resources, few wizards have access to books made of paper pages and hard covers; instead, they record their spells with string patterns and complex knots.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Livingstone, Ian (1982). Dicing with Dragons, An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (Revised ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0-7100-9466-3. 
  2. ^ DeVarque, Aardy. "Literary Sources of D&D". Archived from the original on 2007-07-21. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  3. ^ "The four cardinal types of magic are ... the relatively short spoken spell (as in Finnish mythology or as found in the superb fantasy of Jack Vance).... The basic assumption, then, was that D & D magic worked on a 'Vancian' system and if used correctly would be a highly powerful and effective force." Gygax, Gary (April 1976). "The Dungeons and Dragons Magic System". The Strategic Review (TSR Hobbies, Inc.) II (2): 3. 
  4. ^ Tresca, Michael J. (2010), The Evolution of Fantasy Role-Playing Games, McFarland, p. 62, ISBN 078645895X 
  5. ^ a b c d e Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  6. ^ Turnbull, Don (December 1978 – January 1979). "Open Box: Players Handbook". White Dwarf (review) (Games Workshop) (10): 17. 
  7. ^ Cook, David (1989). Player's Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-88038-716-5. 
  8. ^ Rolston, Ken (May 1991). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR) (#169): 74–76. 
  9. ^ Swan, Rick (September 1992). "Role-playing Reviews". Dragon (Lake Geneva, Wisconsin: TSR) (#185): 65–66. 

External links[edit]