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 organized guilds.

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 the extreme.

(See also,
Wizard, Player’s Handbook, Wild Mages and Elemental Wizards, Tome of Magic)

Table of Contents