The Court Wizard

Dear readers, this one is near and dear to my heart.

My favorite type of character to play, in literally any type of game, be it D&D, Elder Scrolls, or even Destiny, is a magic user.  There’s just something about having the ability to remake the reality around you to suit your whim . . . to break all the most annoying laws of physics and create something from absolutely nothing . . . to be the mysterious, dangerous, soft-spoken scholar, wielder of scroll and book, fire and lightning, rod and staff.  To get this reaction:

"Get down! I think he's about to-" BOOM!!!!!! "Ulrich?!"
“Get down! I think he’s about to-“

I’m not alone in my obsession.  Many of the most famous characters in our venerable genre are wizards . . . Elminster, Raistlin, Gandalf, Harry Dresden . . . even Harry Potter.  There is a reason the world wants so desperately to believe in and read about magic.  It’s cool.

So, the question is, how do you bring that level of cool to your game-table without overshadowing your fledgling characters?  You have to blend mystique and accessibility, power and a willingness to share that power that is very often not a part of the wizard stereotype.  My solution? The Court Wizard:

Pictured: The last face your chaotic-nuetral, party-screwing thief sees before being sent to the afterlife.
Pictured: The last face your chaotic-neutral, party-screwing thief sees after he tries stealing from the lord of the keep.

With a well thought out Court Wizard, you get two or three benefits in one.  First, you have a mysterious figure, one who might take a special interest in the party, and perhaps build tension as they try to ascertain where his morality/loyalties lie.  Second, you have a source of magic for you party.  This can be tricky, because you don’t want your players to grow in power too fast, so in my games.  My advice is to have your Court Wizard be honest with the players.  He doesn’t know if they’re ready to call the fires just yet.  Maybe he thinks they need more discipline, or maybe he simply doesn’t trust them.  On the flip side, he does present a possible source for pretty much any spell from first to third level, so your wizard pc has something to spend his money on while all the fighters are buying shiny new breast-plates.  Third, Court Wizards can’t be bothered by pesky things like gathering components, so you can use him for low-level quests.  He also can’t be bothered to check out that weird magic resonance near the old silver-mine, so upper level stuff is a go also.

Don’t let him be a buddy to your party. He should stand aloof, perhaps only truly ever speaking at length to the lord of the keep. My favorite quirks to give a Court Wizard are things like having the characters feel a chill every time he looks at them. Roll fake will saves to keep them on edge. Have strange lights and otherworldly sounds seep out of his research tower at night.

"Did you still want to knock on his door?" " . . . Uh, no . . . I'm good . . ."
“Did you still want to knock on his door?”
” . . . Uh, no . . . I’m good . . .”

You don’t want to come right out and say “oh yeah, he’s mean-mugging you something fierce,” but maybe have him never smile around the party.  But if the party tries t cultivate a relationship with him, be open to that possibility too. In the first major game I ever played, my wizard was taken under the wing of the old elf Court Wizard. It took a long time, and a lot of role playing, but I still remember that experience fondly.

If you couldn’t already tell, I think I’m going to make this character my next biography, which I hope will be as helpful to you as it is fun for me. I’d like to take this time real quick to acknowledge Pixabay, which provided all of the pictures I’ve been using these last few months. Stop by and check it out, and buy their donators a cup of coffee. I also want to remind you that my parent site, The Borderlanders, is going to be up and running soon, filled with awesome stuff for the modern gm. Also, my brother blog, Tales from the Borderkeep, is up and running, full of awesome posts and stories from the players and gm’s of our gaming group. If you like short fiction, Star Wars, or just like reading about adventures, check out the Tales from Teemo’s Folly. I’m diggin’ it.

Thanks for reading, and as always, don’t fall for the kobold pit trap!


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