Saturday, June 10, 2017

The Artistic Wizard

"If I might have your attention, please," the man in the black jacket and tails said. The hooded men turned, frowning at the wild-haired musician who had stepped out the back door of the tavern, and into the mouth of the alley.

"You don't want that, old man," one of them said, brandishing his thick, ugly blade. "Go back to your drink, and leave us to our work."

"I'm afraid I just can't do that," he said, drawing a slender, ebony wand from nowhere. He raised his hands, a maestro ready to conduct an unseen orchestra.

"The bloody hell does he think he's doing?" one of the footpads asked.

"Get down!" the third shouted, rolling behind a hefty stack of crates.

"And now," the conductor said, fire in his eyes as he smiled. "Allow me to play you the Symphony of Destruction!"

A one, and a two, and a...

Magic Is An Art

When we think of wizards, we tend to think of those who have mastered the arcane science of magic. When you say the right words, make the right gestures, and present the right focus or material component, then you get a certain result. However, as I mentioned in both What Do Your Verbal and Somatic Components Look Like? and What Does Your Spell Preparation Look Like?, every spellcaster does things in their own unique way. Some cast in infernal, others in orc, and some prefer classic draconic, for example. Some cast in big, sweeping gestures, others in short, sharp thrusts. Some casters use fresh material components, and others have learned how to work without them (as long as they cost less than a gold piece).

Which proves an important point; magic is an art just as much as it is a science.

Sometimes it's an industrial art, but it's an art nonetheless.
Now, you have to have all the necessary components to get the results you want... but the artistic wizard assembles them in a way you might not expect.

For example, the conjurer might sing self-composed hymns to summon celestial creatures. The illusionist might paint on the air with a brush that is also a wand. The abjurer might draw symbols on their skin, or those of their subjects, creating unique brands and images to represent their spells. Or an evoker could conduct the flow of lightning and fire as if it were a concert that only he can hear.

The key to designing an artistic wizard is to ask how they see their magic, and how they use art to empower it. Music, language, painting, poetry slams, rap battles, interpretive dance, and any other form of art that can be done on the fly can work with this concept. And, while you won't technically need ranks in the Perform skill (since not all art is good art, and it's more to focus your magic than to impress the audience), it can't hurt if you have leftover skill points. For some spells it might even be possible to create more permanent pieces of art, such as using a sketchpad as part of a divination spell to ask questions of the gods, or making a pot to shatter when casting a foretelling. The limits are your creativity, and what your DM will let you get away with.

Because we tend to think of wizards as stodgy, set in their ways, and gray with learning and wisdom. But of those who went to college, surely some of them got liberal arts degrees, and used that to launch a career as an adventurer?

If you're looking for more inspiration, check out 5 Tips For Playing Better Wizards!

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  1. the Artisitic Wizard sounds pretty sweet. i had a Sylph Wizard that prepared her spells by playing Solitaire with herself, her spellbook, which was also her focus, was a deck of scented playing cards wrapped in silk, that she also did divinations with.

    and a lot of her attack spells were modeled after Gambit from X-Men. because she was a magician, and did card tricks as well as smoke and mirrors sleight of hand stuff like juggling or other arcane tricksterish feats. plus she had cross class ranks in a lot of rogue skills, including sleight of hand.

    she mostly used sleight of hand to perform card tricks for tips. but also to disguise her spells due to a variant useage from 3.5 edition.

  2. The concept doesn't require any new mechanics. It essentially introduces a slight handicap without any rewards. (which I'm perfectly okay with), a concert wand which is part of the somatic component.

    1. This concept doesn't actually introduce any handicaps. The "concert baton" would be the bonded item, since wand is an option. If you have to have your bonded item in hand to cast anyway, you might as well make a performance out of it.

  3. I see your point, but it seems like this simply takes the Bard's modus operandi and lets the Wizard use it.

    1. That's sort of the whole point. The idea is that magic is not static, and that you can get more creative, as a player, with how you cast. Especially since bards and wizards share a LOT of spells on their spell list. So you can have your wizard sing the song. You could have your bard do it with finger tutting and Silent Spell. Your sorcerer might recite the spell in limerick, or include rude hand gestures. It's up to you how you do this.

      There is nowhere that says what your components have to look like when it comes to the verbal and somatic. If you have to assemble the ingredients, you could do so like a chemist, or like a chef. The result might be made with the same ingredients and the same instructions, but there will be personal touches that make it feel unique and different, even if they're mechanically the same.