Wizard (Dungeons & Dragons)

Wizard (Dungeons & Dragons)
Wizard / Mage / Magic-User
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

Creative origins

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]

Dungeons & Dragons (1974-1976)

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.

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)

The magic-user was one of the standard character classes available in the original Player's Handbook.[3] "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,[4] 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)

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

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

The mage, as part of the "wizard" group, was one of the standard character classes available in the second edition Player's Handbook.[3] 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.[5]

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.

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

Dungeons & Dragons 3rd edition (2000-2007)

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-)

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.

Wizard spell preparation and casting

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 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 (1st through 3.5 editions): 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 need to prepare their most powerful attack spells, those which can be used only once a day, and their utility spells, generally, a wizard has two spells to choose from for each daily and utility power slot, however the Expanded Spellbook and the "Remembered Wizardry" feats increase this number to three or four with both, and non-wizard spells, including those from wizard-exclusive feats, paragon paths and epic destinies, cannot be swapped out in this way. Their less powerful spells can be used per encounter or at will, without preparation or selection beforehand. In addition, wizards perform 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 are not exclusive to Wizards, they are one of the two PHB classes who gain Ritual Caster feat automatically as a class feature, and are the only one of the eight classes which learns free rituals as they increase 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.

See also


  1. ^ a b Livingstone, Ian (1982). Dicing with Dragons, An Introduction to Role-Playing Games (Revised ed.). Routledge. ISBN 0710094663. 
  2. ^ DeVarque, Aardy. "Literary Sources of D&D". Archived from the original on 2007-07-21. http://www.webcitation.org/query?url=http://www.geocities.com/rgfdfaq/sources.html&date=2007-07-20+21:51:07. Retrieved 2007-02-23. 
  3. ^ a b Schick, Lawrence (1991). Heroic Worlds: A History and Guide to Role-Playing Games. Prometheus Books. pp. 84–85. ISBN 0-87975-653-5. 
  4. ^ Turnbull, Don (Dec/January 1978-1979). "Open Box: Players Handbook" (review). White Dwarf (Games Workshop) (10): 17. 
  5. ^ Cook, David (1989). Player's Handbook. TSR. ISBN 0-88038-716-5. 

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