"All my teachers are long dead," he said, without looking up from the grimoire he was perusing. "But they await any with the courage to open their long-dead pages, and the wit to learn the lessons they laid down."
He closed the book, glancing at the burn scars along his fingertips. He rubbed his thumb and forefinger together, frowning at the lack of feeling in them. "Of course, sometimes it's more error than trial. Always start small... that's my advice."
|And make absolutely sure you get your designs right.|
Mastering The Magic of The Mind
When most of us think of wizards, we tend to think of them as projects of magical academies or universities. In some cases they may have been taught as an apprentice by a master. However, a wizard doesn't require an outside force in order to access the secrets of magic. They don't have to be born with the proper bloodline, or exposed to some bizarre event to unlock their true potential; they just have to be intelligent enough to understand the rituals and theory behind arcane magic.
That is, by no means, an easy task. However, anyone gifted with a naturally high Intelligence score who's willing to study, plan, and who can grasp the higher calling may find that magic's mystery unspools before them, waiting only for their mind to grasp it.
That's a major reason I included it in my 10 Backgrounds For Your Spellcasters list when it came out a little bit ago.
|I highly recommend checking it out, if you haven't yet.|
What makes self-taught wizards so unique, as a concept, is that they can bring together disparate traditions and styles, or even invent their own ways of performing existing magic. One of the easiest ways to think about these wizards is to compare them to self-taught musicians or artists. Some of them learn through imitation, grasping the basics of the art through trial and error, and then adding their own flares and signature styles in. Others may simply mimic a traditional art form, following in the same steps of discovery as the old masters along a similar path of enlightenment.
And some self-taught wizards will take the disparate elements of arcane traditions and styles, mixing them together into a blend that traditionalists decry as sacrilege, but which gets results. Since self-taught wizards often lack an indoctrination to unlearn, and tend not to be picky about what established schools they draw their power from.
A self-taught wizard might be something akin to a chaos magician, blending elements that seem contradictory. They might invoke the names of divine or infernal powers from one nation, combining them with the rhythmic chanting of a totally separate country, and then mix it with a dead language that pre-dates both of the other elements. Alternatively, a self-taught wizard might keep all of the different traditions in their own neat little boxes, switching from one to another as the situation requires. Just like how a concert pianist might also be a talented violinist who happens to enjoy freestyle rap battles, there's nothing that confines a self-taught wizard's skills or style except the limits of their minds, and the agility of their creativity.
For folks who are looking for more character concepts and advice, you might find 5 Tips For Playing Better Wizards a good place to start! It's in my 5 Tips archive, along with dozens of other pieces of advice for classes, races, and other character and story aspects to help get you thinking outside the box.
Also, if you want to find some magic books to peruse for interesting tidbits to add to your self-taught caster's repertoire, then A Baker's Dozen of Enchanted Volumes might be right up your alley!
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That's all for this installment of Unusual Character Concepts. Hopefully this one gave you something to chew over, whether you're a player, or a dungeon master.
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