Monday, December 22, 2014

Master Wizologist

Over the years of gaming Wizards have gone through many changes, some ups, some downs, and some downright strangeness.  Depending upon the game a Wizard might be an almost completely ineffectual support character or might be a nuker of the first order.  With so many extant fantasy characters to use as a basis it can be hard to decide what sort of Wizard a game should have.
Now the Dungeons and Dragons type has seen a few changes as well.  As of the third edition another arcane spellcaster was introduced that brought more raw power to the table, that being the Sorcerer, and for some classic players of Wizards that spelled D-O-O-M.  

There's no need for that.  The way to look at a Wizard is as a Master Mixologist.
What is a Master Mixologist, I hear you asking.  Isn't that just a bartender?
No and I'll thank you not to take that snarky tone.  A bartender tends bar.  They serve drinks, wipe up spills, listen to your ass as you get drunk and bellicose and so forth.  A bartender can make drinks either from memory or by using a recipe guide.  They have a limited repertoire.
A mixologist is an practitioner of the art and science of mixing alcoholic beverages.  Is the guy at Cracker Barrel that poured coffee into your mug at the table a barista?  Rather, would you call Clem a barista just because he poured your coffee?
No, then don't confuse a bartender with a mixologist, especially not a master mixologist.  I'm talking about "Trader" Vic Bergeron, here.  A mixologist is bartender, sure, but one that studies the craft and takes it to new heights.  This isn't slinging well drinks and shots of whatever is fashionable.  This is understanding the properties of the various alcohols, mixers, and techniques (shaken versus stirred, why and how) such that subtle variations can be created and new drinks conceived using the available ingredients.  A master mixologist brings in new ingredients, seeks out new alcohols and concocts unique and pleasing potables and libations.  
This is no mere bartender we are talking about.

A bartender just tends bar.  A Sorcerer is supposed to be suffused with the very essence of magic in their blood, able to bend and manipulate the raw stuff of magic into unique ways.  What they are is a bunch of low rent bartenders.  They know a few spells and that's all they know.  They don't have to study so they don't learn.  What, you get to pick up a few metamagic feats to increase a spell's power or range?
What bartender can't make it a double or put it over rocks?

Now a Wizard, he's a mixologist.  Or he should be and if you were playing him right he would be.  Wizards have to study their craft.  They create huge recipe books from their studies.  Give them the right equipment and some time and they will replicate a spell they saw and make it their own.  You got a Magic Missile?  I got a Mai Tai Missile, baby.
This is the key to really enjoying your Wizard.  Stop trying to find ways to make your magic easier or more copious, as so many editions, including the new 5th edition keep trying to do, and embrace the wide-open nature of the craft.  Be the Trader Vic of Wizards.  Seek out new ingredients, get to know magic personally such that you understand how the magic itself works.  Understand the basics, the very building blocks of magic and then experiment.  Show that you aren't the one trick Cocktail pony that flips his wand and always relies on that same old Magic Missile attack to solve every problem.  Be a MIXOLOGIST.  Maybe you'll be the Wizard that invents a Fireball that turns corners, knocks on the front door of the keep, waits for the enemy to open it, then flies inside to detonate.  A SMART FIREBALL!
Ain't no Sorcerer or Warlock gonna figure that one out, kiddies.
Welcome to your new lab, Apprentice.  Get mixin', baby.

Remember Wizard is about "wise" or at least "smart".  It's about knowledge and the power that comes with it.  All those wonderful magic items and scrolls and such are yours for the taking and all of that, combined with your KNOWLEDGE of how magic works, makes you a swinger, daddy o.


  1. I would have used a different, but not necessarily better, analogy. The short order cook versus the Michelin stared chef. They guy that gets the recipe from corporate and follows it, or the guy that can identify a hundred different herbs blindfolded. There could be a reality television show where top Wizards eliminate apprentices one by one as they fail to impress them until arriving at the final two. Master Alchemist or some such name.

    1. I did, after my initial conception of this piece, consider that since TV chefs have made chefs into rock stars, and with all the fusion chefs and such around, making the cook versus chef analogy. I stuck with my initial concept because Tiki Bars just cook, you dig? I mean, a chef cooks but he don't cook, can you dig it?
      Also I like the word "mixologist". It has the "ology" suffix that makes it sound like science. Obviously a starred chef is using science too, Alton Brown certainly enjoyed it in Good Eats, but I still felt the vibe of Trader Vic was where I felt it should be. Cooking is, however, another good analogy.