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D&D General Wizards are not rational/scientists


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I am not sure it's even that common, let enough "often" bite you in the ass. Isn't that a trope that appeared with the idea that a god granting miracles is Team Good and therefore anything else (witches?) must be evil? Circe or Medea seemed to be quite assured their magic would work...
Oh yeah. Magic being unreliable is just one of several competing systems, all throughout history. For example, you also have:
  • One-off exchanges with powerful beings, rather than the Faustian bargain we usually associate with Warlocks (e.g. Midas asking for the Golden Touch; of course that wasn't a wise request, but hey, it's precedent)
  • Permanent blessing/enchantment (the Salmon of Wisdom, for example)
  • Having a bizarrely powerful familiar or helper (both the ultra-old original version and the more modern, streamlined Cinderella fit this)
  • Birth (Merlin being a key example; he's got scads of knowledge and power and never seems to think it will fail)
  • Consecration (many saints' stories involve them performing miracles and being quite certain they'll succeed)
  • Having or receiving a magic implement that enables you to do what you like (e.g. the African epic of Mwindo, where his magic flyswatter can do basically anything, including animating itself to bring him back to life)
  • Just being super enlightened/wise so you know how to do things (a more Eastern thing, e.g. in Journey to the West, but also seen in, for example, Apuleius' The Golden Ass)

There are probably others if I go looking. Most of them involve magic that its users expect to Just Work.

I generally agree with you with regard to designing a more "study-related" class, but I'd say that PC Clerics rarely do anything religious other than cast spells. When they act on the behalf of their religious order, they don't do this differently than any other hero would if hired. (I also agree that it's not the system's fault).
I dunno, I find Channel Divinity reasonably religious myself, and Divine Intervention is definitely religious (and, notably, not reliable.) The domains each having very strongly different flavor--to the point that Light Cleric comes across as "calling down divine fire" while something like a Storm Cleric is a badass warrior--is weak but sufficient for me.
 


Baron Opal II

Adventurer
Yeah, that front belt pouch has some issues. I wouldn't be sitting there. (I was about to say without pants, but I do wear kilts from time to time. Also, yeah... mild arachnophobia too.) And those boots... must be warm.
 










MarkB

Legend
See, based on the title, I thought this was gonna go in a very different direction. That is...my big problem with Wizards is that none of their mechanics actually mesh with their theme.

Sorcerers clearly have a physical tie to their magic. That's why they can literally grow wings (for Dragon sorcerers) or other fun things. Warlocks? Between the Pact/Patron divide, Invocations, and their unique approach to magic, they feel different, though I would of course like some even stronger flavor elements if possible. Bards are the ultimate versatility class, capable of being second-best at nearly anything, and pretty decent at most things. And they actually Inspire people, and actually soothe them with song or story (Song of Rest).

But Wizards? Wizards don't actually do research, it's all just handwaved. Wizards don't actually study much of anything, it's all implied and insinuated. "Oh, the new spells you got are ones you were researching," some say, but that justification applies to any class that gets spells. By those lights, a Bard is superior at research, since they can acquire spells Wizards never could.

It has always bothered me greatly that this is the case, that the Wizard's identity has been effectively offloaded entirely to its spell list and the fact that it can learn spells from scrolls. I truly, deeply wish they'd given Wizards more research-, study-, and academia-related benefits. As it stands, they're very nearly devoid of the one explicit flavor component the class is supposed to have. It would be like having Fighters that mostly don't make attack rolls due to all their abilities inducing saving throws. Or Clerics that never actually do anything religious, other than calling their spells "prayers."
Great scientists stand on the shoulders of giants. Great wizards stand on the shoulders of the less-great/lucky wizards whose spellbooks they've looted.
 

Voadam

Legend
I mean just look at this guy. Look carefully.

View attachment 146427
(source: We are NOT taking the wizard. )

So next time you play a wizard, consider the strong possibility that by the standards of mere mortal, your PC may be utterly bonkers.

Look closer - there is a LOT going on there.

Penguin boots.

Holstered octopus.

Spider Throne. (<Cough> Vecna </Cough>)

Belt pouch full of spiders.

Casual vomiting rave liquid into his overflowing bearded corpse head mug.

Reverse mullet with greasy scraggly thin long hair on top, shaved sides.

No eyebrows.

Black fingernail.

Not clear whether he has anything on beneath the belt pouches.

Beer gut is quite distended.
 
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HammerMan

Legend
I have my own idea of how magic works... I make each class (in my mind if nowhere else) make different styles and feels.

MY wizards are smart and trained, but trained by rote (a call back to memorization of the past editions perhaps). So a wizard MIGHT understand the entire magic system the how of the cosmos... but they just as likely understand only the basics, but they also know the 'cheat codes'.

I think of it like this, I can be smart and rip apart the code of Super Mario Bros and make my own game with it with weird rules... but I also can download a pre made program that lets anybody with some time and patients make a new 'hack'. Both are wizard types...

Sorcerers CAN be smart too, they MIGHT understand the basics of the cosmos, but all of them even the brightest and most learned are in cheat code/pre made program mode.
 


ehren37

Adventurer
That's only true for some fiction, not the majority. If you want to run a caster like that run a wild mage.
Wild mage is just corny and "lolrandom", not dark and dangerous. The problem is the worldbuilding. if magic is safe, predictable, and easy to learn (as demonstrated by the rules), why isn't EVERYONE a caster? Muh v-tude can't take it.
 

ehren37

Adventurer
I am not sure it's even that common, let enough "often" bite you in the ass. Isn't that a trope that appeared with the idea that a god granting miracles is Team Good and therefore anything else (witches?) must be evil? Circe or Medea seemed to be quite assured their magic would work...
Hey, if you want to take a whole day to cast a spell to make it safe, I'll accept that. D&D magic emulates D&D magic, and more or less nothing else.
 

Voranzovin

Explorer
I've always liked the idea that wizards are perfectly sane and rational (or at least, no more or less likely to be sane then anyone else) but seem completely bonkers to the outside world, particularly when describing anything magical. A modern, educated person with a decent knowledge of physics would still find the discussions between theoretical physicists completely impenetrable--now imagine you've never even heard of Newton's three laws, and you're listening to someone describe quantum mechanics. It sounds, literally, insane.

I've always conceived of your average wizard as being tremendously arrogant as a result--after all, they understand how reality actually works, and you don't. Oh, you get magic powers from a god? That's nice. I actually understand how your god is channeling power to you--and I can stop it from happening if I want to. It fits in neatly with all the classic wizard tropes. Gandalf, after all, never bothers to explain himself to anyone who isn't also one of the Wise.
 

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