An RPGGeek blog so I can participate in the RPG Blog Carnival which has always seemed cool to me.
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Clark Timmins
United States
West Jordan
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So stop your cheap comment, 'cause we know what we feel...
Green to feel blue? Is your vision purely golden? Is your humour black or olden? Do you find you're getting yellow? 'Though you know you're in the red dread...
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You'd think that role-gamers would have a clinch on the wizard. Who else is going to be interested? Well... it turns out lots of folks. In gaming a "wizard" almost always refers to somebody (usually male) with magical powers. But the term also refers to somebody with skills so good they appear to others as nearly magical - like, "the wizard of Wall Street" or "the Wizard of Menlo Park".

In popular culture there have been several musical acts bearing the name, including Wizzard, Wizardzz, Wizard, WZRD, and The Wizzard, for example. There have been a variety of ships (at least a half-dozen in the Royal Navy alone) and even a locomotive bearing the name. Sharp sold a PDA named the Wizard, and once upon a time there was a home video company named Wizard Video. In sports we have teams named Wizards from Washington and Dakota (Basketball), Fort Wayne (Baseball), Kansas City (Soccer), and Canterbury (Cricket). There was also a racehorse with the name. Several novels and a couple periodicals have been named either Wizard or The Wizard. There are probably a dozen pop songs and even a couple albums called either Wizard or The Wizard. There have been a few films and television series called Wizard, The Wizard, Wizards (Bakshi), or The Wizards of Waverly Place. In comic books there have been too many Wizards to track. Arguably the most famous wizard of all is the Wizard of Oz (ironically, not a real wizard). No geek survived the 1980s without playing at least a half dozen computer games called Wizardry.

In literature and history we have a variety of powerful wizards spanning hundreds of years. In no particular order, we have The Crimson King, Hecate, Merlin, Allanon, Johannes Trithemius, Ímar Ua Donnubáin, Alan Moore, Robin Skelton, Raistlin Majere, Medea, Faust, Anton LaVey, Sybil Leek, Dr. Strange, La Voisin, Simon Magus, Nicolas Flamel, Elminster, Gandalf, Marie Anne Lenormand, the Wizard of Oz, Harry Potter, Cassandra, Carlos Castaneda, Maya Deren, Hermes Trismegistus, the Witch of Endor, Baba Yaga, Jannes and Jambres, Marie Laveau, Albertus Magnus, Morgan le Fey, Grigori Rasputin, Theodor Reuss, Arthur Rimbaud, Abramelin the Mage, John Dee, Robert Fludd, Nostradamus, Isobel Gowdie, Väinämöinen, Margaret Matson, Evangeline Adams, Kenneth Anger, and my personal favorite Aleister Crowley (the wickedest man on earth). And hundreds... thousands... more.

Even the Bible has Simon the Sorcerer, Menander, Bar-Jesus, Saul's Consulting Medium, Pharaoh's sorcerers, the soothsaying Slave-Girl of Acts, and Manasseh (of Hephzibah). And a veritable slew of unnamed magicians and sorcerers and fortune-tellers. Now all presumably enjoying their repast in "the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Rev 21:8).

In role-gaming we have a variety of RPGs about wizards. These range from major game systems to unknown games, from major publishers to indie publishers to self published. Check out this list of RPGs:

Murder of the High Wizard
Night Wizard!
Warrior & Wizard
We are Here to See the Evil Wizard Kormákur
Wizard Cops
Blades & Wizardry
Little Wizards
Muscle Wizards vs Laser Dinosaurs
A Party of Wizards
Swords & Wizardry
Warriors, Wizards & Wanderers
Wizardry and Witchcraft
Wizards (Bakshi)
Wizards & Gunslingers
Wizards & Weapons
Wizards of Ice and Twilight
Wizards' Realm
Wizards' World
Wizards, Warriors & Wyrms
Wizards, Warriors & You

For gaming periodicals we have:
The Wizard
Wizards Mutants Lazer Pistols

There's also a tiny little company called Wizards of the Coast. One of their more popular games lets you play a wizard character...

Famous D&D wizards include Mordenkainen, Bigby, Drawmij, Evard, Leomund, Melf, Nystul, Otiluke, Rary, Tasha, and Tenser. All have spells named after them. There's also Elminster and Khelben, Raistlin Majere, Magius, Palin Majere, Pr-Salian, Dalamar, Fistandantilus, and of course Fizban. From Mystara we have Haldemar of Haaken, Empress Eriadna, Étienne d'Amberville, Demetrion Karagenteropoulos, Bargle the Infamous, Claransa the Seer, Jagger von Drachenfels, Dolores Hillsbury, and Kol XIV. And probably a hundred more I've missed.

One of the earliest major (argumentative) splits in the role-playing hobby involved two competing magic systems that eventually became known as Vancian Magic vs. (usually) Points Systems. Vancian magic is named after the system found in several Jack Vance novels. In Vancian systems (think, AD&D) spell-casters have a limited number of spell "slots" that they fill by studying and "memorizing" specific spells for later casting. If you prepared a Fireball and really, really needed a lightning bolt... tough beans, you memorized Fireball. In the alternative (non-Vancian, but almost always some form of spell slot/point system), a spell-caster has numerous spells at their disposal but can cast a limited number of spells per day, picking any spell they "know" at any time they like. Both of these systems are presented in D&D 3.5, where "Wizards" use Vancian memorization and "Sorcerers" use spell slots. Wizards can learn a humongous number of spells but are relatively inflexible in their use; Sorcerers pay for their flexible approach by knowing a relatively small number of spells. Other game systems, of course, use a large variety of other magic systems. But at their base, almost all of them are either Vancian or some type of spell point system.

When it comes to hard-core wizard gaming, probably the premier system available for quite some time is Ars Magica. The system has evolved, but the game focuses primarily on the magical classes and their quirks.

One thing's for sure - whether you call them adepts, astrologers, augerists, clairvoyants, conjurers, diviners, enchanters, fortune-tellers, hypnotists, incantatrixes, magicians, magi, magic-users, mediums, mekhashphim, necromancers, occultists, palmists, seers, shaman, soothsayers, sorcerers, thaumaturgists, warlocks, witches, or wizards - gaming sure wouldn't be the same without 'em!
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