Wizards are the most iconoclastic and self-important of all the character
classes, for they are unique among all character classes. The peasant can pick up a
sword and fight; a pious man can hope to serve his faith; a local wag can spin
a good tale; and an unprincipled cad can rob the local merchants. But no one
other than a wizard can cast magical spells. The need for highly specialized
training truly sets them apart, and they know it.
When mages gather, they tend to form societies or associations, organizations
for men who speak of things not understood by the common folk (much like
scientists today). But wizards are too fractious and independent a lot to organize
themselves into proper unions--they can barely manage to form moderately
Generally, their groups exist for such high-minded reasons as to "facilitate
the exchange of knowledge" or "advance the state of the science of magic." Some
prepare texts or papers to share with fellow mages, detailing their latest
experiments and discoveries or outlining some new theory. They enjoy the
recognition of their peers as much as anyone.
To outsiders, wizards seem aloof and daunting. Like craftsmen, they are most
comfortable in the company of their fellows, speaking a language they all
understand. The untrained, even apprentices, are intruders upon this fellowship and
are apt to receive an icy and rude reception.
Wizards are an eccentric, even perverse, lot. They're likely to be found just
about anywhere. Nonetheless, they have an affinity for civilization, ranging
from small villages to vast cities. Only a few mages actually care to adventure
since it is an extremely dangerous undertaking to which they are ill-trained and
ill-suited. The vast majority spend their time experimenting in seclusion or
working in the service of others, preferably well paid.
Many mages, especially those of lesser ability, turn their art to practical
ends--almost every village has a fellow who can whip up a few useful spells to
help with the lambing or simplify the construction of a house. In larger cities,
these mages become more specialized, such that one might lend his talents to
construction, another to the finding of lost things, and a third to aiding the
local jewelers in their craft.
Nearly all major families, merchant princes, and nobles have a mage or two in
their employ. A few attempt (generally without success) to have these wizards
mass-produce magical items. The problem is that wizards are as difficult to
manage as rangers or paladins. They do not care for others bossing them around or
encroaching upon their perceived privileges and rights, especially since they
have the magical resources to make their displeasure known. Also, they are
usually kept busy finding ways to strike at their employer's rivals (or thwarting
such attempts against their own lord). Foolish is the king who does not have a
personal wizard, and lamentable is the ruler who trusts the wrong mage.
Not all wizards spend their time in the service of others. Some seek naught
but knowledge. These scholar-mages tend to be viewed much like great university
professors today--noble and distant, pursuing truth for its own sake. While not
directly in the service of others, they can sometimes be commissioned to
perform some duty or answer some question.
The wealthy often provide endowments for such men, not to buy their services
(which aren't for sale) but to curry their favor in hopes that they will provide
honor, glory, and just perhaps something useful. This situation is not unlike
that of the great artists of the Renaissance who were supported by princes
hoping to impress and outdo their rivals.
There are wizards who spend all their time shut away from humanity in dark,
forbidding towers or gloomy, bat-infested caves. Here they may live in rooms
where opulent splendor mingles with damp foulness. Perhaps the strains and demands
of their art have driven them mad. Perhaps they live as they do because they
see and know more than other men. Who knows? They are, after all, eccentric in
(See also, Wizard, Player’s Handbook, Wild Mages and Elemental Wizards, Tome of Magic)
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