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What Happens After Wizard School?

I am running a game of Castles & Crusades in my Eleven Pillars setting and needed to flesh out the perception of mages/wizards among the populace – this post is the beginning of that effort.

How does one become a recognized and respected caster? In this setting there are only two recognized wizard academies, but the info below could work with more schools if your setting is of the type that has an abundance. Wizards can come from any town, nation, or pillar, but to be recognized and trained further (that is, to be taken seriously at all) they must become affiliated with one of the wizard academies. The two academies are The Hovel Arcana and The Gloaming House. You can, of course, change the names and locations and the number to suit your game.

Many wizards get to the equivalent of 2nd level in power and then are unable to learn more until they do a ton of research, and even then, most just do not have the innate ability to harness a higher amount of power. In my setting this greatly reduces the number of high level casters, but allows for a proliferation and acceptance of magic among the general populace. This allows for powerful, high level magic to be feared, but run-of-the-mill low level magic is taken as commonplace.

As a wizard you can fall into one or more of the following categories:

1) Failed Entry: You applied but failed to gain entry into either The Hovel Arcana or The Gloaming House. You are not a recognized apprentice and you may have sought employment in another field. You never learned how to harness your slight arcane abilities, which are innate but lay dormant because you never even try to use them. This is the category in which you find the vast majority of NPCs whose families thought they had a little wizard with talent but it turns out they didn’t.

2) Recognized Apprentice or Caster: You gained entry into one of the schools and completed your studies. You are now an apprentice mage and are probably looking for a patron to work under. Or you have completed an apprenticeship and are making a living in a magical trade (i.e. as a vizier, teacher/mentor, government official, cloudship crafter, or any of the various and sundry occupations that are enhanced by magical talents. This is the category in which most members of the recognized wizarding schools fall into – employees and teachers at the school all fall into this category and NPCs who act as viziers and general advisors with arcane knowledge fall into this category.

3) Failed Out or Dropped Out: You gained entry to one of the schools, but you failed out after only learning a few cantrips. You are not a recognized apprentice and are probably looking to find employment in non-magical professions. You may also work to re-gain entry into the school, but that is very very rare, so it may not be worth your time and effort. This is the rarest of categories, but some NPCs may be here if they decided that the wizard life was too hard or boring – i.e. their power level peaked early and they are just mediocre wizards, which brings them not much joy.

4) Unwilling/Unable to Get Recognized Training: You have an innate arcane ability but were either denied entry or never bothered to apply since your family couldn’t afford the entrance fees and refused the indentured servitude that would have resulted in your admission. You are not a recognized apprentice, but you work to hone your craft and make your way in the world while illegally studying and using magic. Most casters in this category wind up dead because they seclude themselves to hone their skill and end up either being killed by dangerous wildlife or they accidentally threaten the life of a guard, paladin, or knight who kills them in self defense. An extremely small number of casters in this category eventually become powerful skilled magi and can then be recognized as a ‘self-taught’ wizard – more often than not they become villains.

5) Trained But Unsanctioned: You are an apostate wizard who spent time at one of the schools, but who left before the terms of the indentured service were up. You are not a recognized apprentice and are wanted by school officials. You are technically the property of whomever sponsored you at the school and therefore there is a price on your head. This category leads to an interesting profession – the bounty hunter of the arcane – who hunts down these rogue casters and returns them to face a trial at the academy.

This categorization scheme sets up a specific caste type system among arcane casters. This can be used to surprising effect as a way to play up motivations and tensions among and between PCs and NPCs in my game. This also allows a PC to choose a background that matches the 5 categories above if they so choose – the reactions they may get and/or the bounty hunters they may have chasing them makes good fodder for setting enhancement.

How does a wizard get trained in your setting? Are there accepted and non-accepted wizard classes in your game? 

Until Next Time, I wish you good gaming!




DM Samuel is the Editor-in-Chief here at RPG Musings as well as the podcast editor for The Tome Show. He is also a host of the gaming podcast Play on Target. He plays all manner of role-playing games and boardgames and continues to learn new games all the time (and new things about old games, too). Sam lives in Upstate New York with his wife and their game collection. You can follow him on twitter @DMSamuel.

2 Responses to “What Happens After Wizard School?”

  • How are the academies structured? Like guilds with apprentices, journeymen and masters? Or are they more like modern schools?

  • Good Question! I envision them as a mixture of both. Here is a rough sketch:

    When learning low skilled items, like basic cantrips and whatnot, the students are taught in a more modern-school classroom type environment (think Harry Potter wizarding school). However, once the basics are learned, the student must find someone to take them on and teach them more – sort of like grad school in that a few (1-5) students work with a single mentor.

    Once that phase of instruction is complete, then the student is an apprentice and can go into the world and be a traditional apprentice or can stay at the academy and be an apprentice there.

    Once the apprenticeship is complete, they must find a true master to mentor them through their journeyman phase, in which they get training, but mostly are competent to work on their own. After that, they become masters.

    The first stages are relatively short and are dependent on natural ability. The apprenticeship is perhaps the most intense time. The Journeyman status is the longest because some never make it to master status.