Clad in the silver robes that denote her station, an elf closes her eyes to shut out the distractions of the battlefield and begins her quiet chant. Fingers weaving in front of her, she completes her spell and launches a tiny bead of fire toward the enemy ranks, where it erupts into a conflagration that engulfs the soldiers.
Shifting his gaze between a battered tome and the odd alignment of the stars overhead, a wild-eyed human chants the mystic ritual that will open a doorway to a distant world.
Checking and rechecking his work, a gnome scribes an intricate magic circle in chalk on the bare stone floor, then sprinkles powdered iron along every line and graceful curve. When the circle is complete, she drones a long incantation. A hole opens in space inside the circle, bringing a whiff of brimstone from the otherworldly plane beyond.
Looking over the ancient tomes, a tiefling searches frantically for details of a spell that will uphold the mystic seal over her ancestral home. When the impossibly heavy doors swing open behind her, she turns to face the temple’s guardians as her sword is wreathed in shadow.
Mages are drawn to magical energy, defined and united by it. They study these energies that permeate the cosmos, seeking understanding of magic.
Scholars of Magic
Wild and enigmatic, varied in form and function, the power of magic draws students who seek to master its mysteries. Through study and rigorous practice, mages are able to unlock magic that pervades the multiverse using arcane words and gestures to elicit magical effects. Spells require expertise attained after years of apprenticeship and countless hours of study.
Mages live and die by their spells. Everything else is secondary. They learn new spells as they experiment and grow in experience. They can also learn them from other mages, from ancient tomes or inscriptions, and from ancient creatures (such as the fey) that are steeped in magic.
The Lure of Knowledge
Mage’s lives are seldom mundane. The closest a mage is likely to come to an ordinary life is working as a sage or lecturer in a library or university, teaching others the secrets of the multiverse. Other mages sell their services as diviners, serve as a guard or in military forces, or pursue lives of crime or domination. A few mages aspire to become like the gods, shaping reality itself.
But the lure of knowledge and power calls even the most unadventurous mages out of the safety of their libraries and laboratories and into crumbling ruins and lost cities. Most mages believe that mages in ancient civilizations knew secrets of magic that have been lost to the ages, and discovering those secrets could unlock the path to a power greater than any magic available in the present age.
Creating a Mage
Creating a mage character demands a backstory dominated by at least one extraordinary event. How did your character first come into contact with magic? How did you discover you had an aptitude for it? Do you have a natural talent, or did you simply study hard and practice incessantly? Did you encounter a magical creature or an ancient tome that taught you the basics of magic?
What drew you forth from your life of study? Did your first taste of magical knowledge leave you hungry for more? Have you received word of a secret repository of knowledge not yet plundered by any other mage? Perhaps you’re simply eager to put your newfound magical skills to the test in the face of danger.
Choose an archetype, which grants you features.
Wizards are supreme magic-users, defined and united by the spells they cast. Drawing on the subtle weave of magic that permeates the cosmos, wizards cast spells of explosive fire, arcing lightning, subtle deception, and brute-force mind control. Their magic conjures creatures from other planes of existence, glimpses the future, or turns slain foes into zombies. Their mightiest spells change one substance into another, call meteors down from the sky, or open portals to other worlds.
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
(a) a quarterstaff or (b) any simple weapon
(a) a scholar’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
The study of wizardry is ancient, stretching back to the earliest mortal discoveries of magic. It is firmly established in fantasy gaming worlds, with various traditions dedicated to its complex study. The most common arcane traditions in the multiverse revolve around the schools of magic. Mages through the ages have cataloged thousands of spells. In some places, there are literally schools of magic, a combination of certain themes. In other institutions, the schools are more like academic departments, with rival faculties competing for students and funding. Even mages who train apprentices in the solitude of their own towers use the division of magic into schools as a learning device, since the spells of each school require mastery of different techniques.
Choose an Arcane Tradition
Choose an arcane tradition, which grants you features.
Archivists seek out esoteric sources of lore, wherever those sources might be, securing those secrets for themselves and their fellow scholars. The promise of uncovering new knowledge or proving (or discrediting) a theory of magic is usually required to rouse an archivist from its laboratory, academy, and archives to pursue a life of adventure.
Followers of this tradition are a bookish lot who see beauty and mystery in the application of magic. The results of a spell are less interesting to them than the process that creates it. Some archivists take a haughty attitude toward those who follow a tradition focused on a single school of magic, seeing them as provincial and lacking the sophistication needed to master true magic. Other archivists are generous teachers, countering ignorance and deception with deep knowledge and good humor.
|Level||Proficiency Bonus||Features||Arcane Discoveries||Mana||Mana Limit|
|1st||+2||Arcane Power, Second Wind||2||2||1|
|2nd||+2||Arcane Adaptation, Arcane Innovation, Arcane Inspiration, Arcane Secrets (2), Arcane Study (1), Feat (1)||4||3||1|
|3rd||+2||Abilities Increase (1), Skilled (1)||6||5||1|
|5th||+3||Arcane Innovation, Arcane Secrets (3), Extra Action, Focused Concentration, Skilled (2)||10||8||2|
|6th||+3||Feat (3), Resilient||12||9||2|
|7th||+3||Abilities Increase (2), Skilled (3)||14||11||2|
|9th||+4||Arcane Secrets (4), Arcane Study (2), Skilled (4)||18||14||3|
|10th||+4||Feat (5), Resilient||20||15||3|
|11th||+4||Abilities Increase (3), Skilled (5)||22||17||3|
|13th||+5||Arcane Inspiration, Arcane Secrets (5), Skilled (6)||26||20||4|
|15th||+5||Abilities Increase (4), Skilled (7)||30||23||4|
|17th||+6||Arcane Secrets (6), Arcane Study (3), Signature Spells, Skilled (8)||34||26||5|
|19th||+6||Abilities Increase (5), Skilled (9)||38||29||5|
You are a student of arcane magic.
You can learn spells from themes you know in the Arcane power source.
You know one theme of your choice and the Divination theme which is considered to be from your power source.
The spells that you add to your spellbook as you gain levels reflect the arcane research you conduct on your own, as well as intellectual breakthroughs you have had about the nature of the multiverse. You might find other spells during your adventures. You could discover a spell recorded on the wall of an evil mage’s lair or in a dusty tome in an ancient library. A spell scroll is not sufficient to learn from as it is written in a simplified mystical cipher that other mages can repeat, but are not able to fully understand or replicate.
Copying a Spell into the Book. When you find a spell, you can add it to your spellbook if you can decipher the unique system of notation used by the mage who wrote it, it is from a theme you know in your power source, it costs equal to (or less than) your mana limit, and if you can spare the mana, time, and costs to practice it and copy it. This process takes three steps:
- Understanding the spell requires an ability check using the skill associated with the spell’s power source (Arcane: Arcana, Divine: Divinity, Occult: Occult, Primal: Primal, and Psionic: Psionics). The Difficulty equals 13 + twice the spell’s mana cost. On a success, you can understand it. On a failure, you are unable to try again for 24 hours.
- Reproducing the basic form of the spell and practicing the spell until you are able to fully manifest the magic within. For each mana cost of the spell, this uses 5 mana and at least 5 hours, though it can take days.
- Transcribing the spell into your spellbook using your own notation, which costs 100 sp for each mana cost of the spell. The cost represents materials you expend as you experiment with the spell to master it, as well as the fine inks you need to record it. When you write the spell into your spellbook, the original magical writing dims as the magic contained in it is absorbed.
Replacing the Book. You can copy a spell from your own spellbook into another spellbook—for example, if you want to make a copy so another mage can learn from it or to make a backup copy of your spellbook. This is just like copying a new spell into your spellbook, but faster and easier, since you understand your own notation and already know how to cast the spell. You need spend only 1 mana, 1 hour, and 20 sp for each mana of the copied spell.
If you lose your spellbook, you can use the same procedure to transcribe the spells that you know into a new spellbook. For this reason, many mages keep backup spellbooks in a safe place.
The Book’s Appearance. Your spellbook is a unique compilation of spells, with its own decorative flourishes and margin notes. It might be a plain, functional leather volume that you received as a gift from your master, a finely bound gilt-edged tome you found in an ancient library, or even a loose collection of notes scrounged together after you lost your previous spellbook in a mishap.
Design note on the availability of spells
Spells can be made available to a Mage character through enemy spellbooks, spell scrolls, or possibly a form of arcane research if your GM desires such a system. Keep in mind that if many spells are available, the Mage will be significantly more powerful as they can keep rarely used spells in their spellbook for immediate use when needed and use their spells known for the commonly used spells. For this reason, I would recommend limiting the amount of spells that a Mage can add to their spellbook. An average of 1 spell per level is a good guideline.
You have a spellbook. Each time you gain a level you can write the spells you learn from that level into your spellbook without expending any sp, though you still must spend time writing them. Choose one theme, the silver and time you must spend to copy spells from this theme into your spellbook is halved.
You gain two arcane discoveries as shown on the Arcane Discoveries column of the Wizard table. An arcane discovery grants one of the following options:
- Learn a new theme and a cantrip from it if the theme is from your power source.
- Learn two cantrips from the themes you know.
- Learn a new spell from a theme you know in your power source. The spell must cost equal to, or less than, your mana limit. If the spell costs 2 or more mana, you must know a number of feats or spells from the spell’s theme equal to the spell’s mana cost minus 1.
When you gain a level, you gain two additional arcane discoveries and you can choose a cantrip you know and replace it with another cantrip from a theme you know or you can choose a spell that costs 1 or more mana and replace it with another spell that costs 1 or more mana from a theme you know. You cannot replace a cantrip if you would then know zero cantrips from that theme and your choices must follow the restrictions above. If the replaced spell is in your spellbook it disappears from your spellbook.
You know three cantrips and three spells of your choice from the themes you know.
The Wizard table shows how much mana you have to cast spells. To cast a spell, you must expend mana based on the spell’s cost.
You regain half your total mana (rounded up) when you finish a short rest and all expended mana when you finish a long rest.
There is a limit on the amount of mana you can spend to cast a spell. The limit is based on your level, as shown on the Mana Limit column of the Wizard table.
High mana spells
Spells using 4 or 5 mana are particularly taxing to cast. Once you cast a spell using 4 mana, you can’t cast another spell using 4 mana until you finish a short or long rest and once you cast a spell using 5 mana, you can’t cast another spell using 5 mana until you finish a long rest.
Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for your spells, since you learn your spells through dedicated study and memorization. You use your Intelligence whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. The [Arcana](/rules/skills#arcana) skill describes how to cast a spell.
You can cast a spell you know as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag. Additionally, you can cast a spell in your spellbook as a ritual if that spell has the ritual tag and is from a theme you know.
You have a limited well of energy that you can draw on to protect yourself from harm. As an action, you can spend up to half your Health Dice. For each Health Die spent in this way, roll the die and add your Constitution. You can decide to spend an additional Health Die after each roll. You regain health equal to the total.
Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.
On a short rest you can choose a number of spells you know up to half your proficiency bonus (rounded down) and replace each of them with another spell in your spellbook from a theme you know, which must cost equal to, or less than, your mana limit. On a long rest you can choose and replace a number of spells equal to your proficiency bonus.
Your study of spells has led you to understand how to how to manipulate your spells to suit your needs. You gain 1 metamagic and learn one metamagic option of your choice. You regain metamagic on a short or long rest.
At 5th level you gain an additional metamagic and learn one major metamagic option of your choice.
You can call a spell to mind that suits your needs. On your turn with your spellbook in hand, you can cast a spell in your spellbook as if you know it. Once you use this feature, you must finish a short or long rest before you can use it again.
You can use this feature twice between rests starting at 13th level.
You have plundered magical knowledge from a wide spectrum of disciplines. You learn two spells that cost one mana from the Arcane, Divine, Occult, Primal, or Psionic power source. You must be capable with the Divinity skill to learn a spell from the Divine theme, the Occult skill to learn a spell from the Occult theme, the Primal skill to learn a spell from the Primal theme, and the Psionics skill to learn a spell from the Psionic theme. The spells are considered to be from the Arcane power source.
You can learn an additional spell at 5th level (3), 9th level (4), 13th level (5), and 17th level (6). A spell must not cost more mana than your mana limit and you must be proficient in the skill to learn a spell that costs 2 or more mana.
You have studied themes from other power sources. Choose one theme from the Arcane, Divine, Occult, Primal, or Psionic power source. That theme is considered to be from the Arcane power source. You must be capable with the Divinity skill to study a Divine theme, the Occult skill to study an Occult theme, the Primal skill to study a Primal theme, and the Psionics skill to study a Psionic theme.
At 9th level and 17th level one additional theme is considered to be from your power source.
A feat represents an area of expertise that gives a character special capabilities. It embodies training, experience, and abilities beyond what a class provides.
You gain a feat of your choice from the general feats or from a theme you know.
You gain additional feats at 4th, 6th, 8th, 10th, 12th, 14th, 16th, 18th, and 20th level.
When you gain a level, you can choose one of the feats you know and replace it with another feat that you could have learned when the replaced feat was chosen.
Increase two abilities of your choice by 1 and one of your lowest two abilities by 1. If multiple abilities are tied for one of your lowest abilities, you can choose any of them. As normal, you can’t increase an ability above 5 using this feature.
Increase your abilities again at 7th, 11th, 15th, and 19th level.
Choose any skill to improve your proficiency with. If you are untrained, you become capable. If you are capable, you become proficient.
You can use two actions on your turn instead of one.
If you fail a saving throw to maintain your concentration on a spell, you can use your reaction to reroll the saving throw.
Once you use this feature, you must finish a long rest before you can use it again.
Choose another saving throw at 10th level.
You have achieved such mastery over certain spells that you can alter them. Choose two spells that are in your spellbook: one spell that costs 1 mana and one spell that costs 2 mana or less. Choose one metamagic option to always apply to one of the chosen spells and one major metamagic option to always apply to the other chosen spell.
With a week of practtice, you can exchange one or all of the spells and metamagic options you chose.