Although many of the information corresponds to the wizard class, it has valuable information for many subtleties that relate to much of the arcane classes and playing them in Narfell.
Prologue: “Successful wizard” stands for a wizard that is alive and is able to grow in power whilst doing so. The first thing to know when becoming a mage, is deciding what type of mage you want to be. You need to have a plan as to where you want to go, choose a path and follow it. This guide is based on my own personal experience, and as such it may need to be slightly adjusted to each individual if their path is too distant from mine. At any rate, take this guide as only that, and nothing more.
There are 8 schools of magic: Abjuration, Divination, Evocation, Enchantment, Transmutation, Conjuration, Illusion and Necromancy. The first decision will be to choose which of these you want to specialize in, if you want to specialize at all. Keep in mind, each school of magic has it’s prohibited school, and so you cannot learn or cast spells that belong to said prohibited school. The schools and their prohibited ones go as follows:
Why would I specialize in a school then, if I’ll be unable to learn or cast spells from the prohibited school? By specializing in a certain school it gets easier for you to memorize spells from said school and so you can memorize more spells daily. This is something one needs to give consideration before starting their ways with magic. I personaly decided to specilaize in illusionism, and it’s proven to be worthwhile.
Spell focus. While Specializing in one school means adquiring more knowledge on said school, through rigorous studying and deeper understanding, spell focii are the casters most skilled areas of casting. As such, if one focuses on, let’s say, enchantment, that means they’ll try and master this school’s casting, making their enchantment spells more effective than the others. One may focus in different schools, except their prohibited schools of course, and one can focus in different degrees. The more you focus, the more effective your spells from that school become. This goes hand in hand with the path you’ve chosen to follow, as a combat mage will not focus on the same school(s) as an enchanter. From my own experience, there’s two schools that benefit most from this training focus, those being enchantment and evocation. Keep in mind, as I said, I’m a specialized illusionist, and I’m unable to cast spells from the enchantment school, yet I aknowledge their relevance. Why enchantment and evocation? Almost all of the spells that inflic direct damage, elemental damage, belong to the evocation school. Fireball, Firebrand, Flame Arrow, Cone of Cold, etc. As it is with these spells, there’s a chance the target will be able to dodge them, partially or fully, depending on their own skills, and thus is a good idea to focus the training on this school so it’s more difficult for the target to dodge. Enchantment school includes a lot of useful spells such as Confusion, Hold Monster, Dominate Person, etc. These spells try to breach the targets mind and act on it, and so, strong willed individuals will be able to shrug off the effects of these spells. This is a good reason to focus the training on this school. It's not that the rest of the schools lack these type of spells that can be resisted, dodged or shrugged off, but certainly their number is very very inferior as within the Evocation and Enchantment schools, as their main use lays in other fields.
A familiar is a magical creature that is linked to its owner. This link is very strong, and the more powerful the caster becomes, so does the creature. The link is so strong, that if said familiar dies, the caster suffers a great pain, as if a part of themselves had died. It takes a long casting process and ritual with the proper components in order to bring back to life a slain familiar. My familiar, Kitty, is a large black panther, and I think we’d both agree that the success on our relation is that I don’t treat him like a servant or as if I owned him, but as a friend. Even though a familiar is bound to obey their master, this will increase the familiar’s ability to act in every situation, as they’ll get to know you better and can anticipate you even before you mentaly give them orders. One can choose from very different type of magical creatures, and I believe it’d be wise to choose according to ones needs. Think of it as a way to complement your abilities and skills. If you can’t cast illusion school spells or you don’t know your way with traps and locks, perhaps you should consider the pixie, which is able to cast invisibility spells and is very skilled in those roguish situations. Not all of the magical creatures are as helpful as the others. Some are more helpful when the caster is still learning their ways with magic (like the mephits), others are more helpful later on (like the panther), and others are equally helpful all around (like the pixie). You can break your ties to a familiar and start a new link with another one, but then keep in mind whatever positive things you achieved thanks to the relationship with them, will be lost. The most common magical creatures to link with arelisted below. A brief description of their abilities follow:
Remember, do not make this choice lightly, they’re a part of you.
To survive in the early steps of becoming a successful mage you have to assume you are a weakling. You need to be aware of this, and seek companions to adventure. Do not bother with offensive spells at this point. It’s a waste of magic. Focus on your companions. A well placed Mage Armor will allow your companion to defeat a dozen of goblins without trouble, but a Magic Missile will kill only one of them. It's simple as that.
We wizards are not known for our ability to take hits, an unlucky shot can make us pay a high toll. Stay in the back of the group or companion. No one expects the wizard to take any front line position, nor them to engage combat or to actualy be useful in dealing physical damage. Get yourself a crossbow or other ranged weapon, and use it. If you hit something, consider yourself lucky and happy, If you don’t, don’t worry, no one expects you to hit. The success of the party, will be your own success. If the party can go deeper in a dungeon, means you are getting deeper too. If they have to retreat sooner, means you will have to retreat too. Keep that in mind, and do the best for your party, not what you believe it’s more fun.
When you start learning your way through magic, you’ll have acess to more spells, and you will be able to start casting other type of spells that will become useful, instead of only casting spells on the melee of the group. For example, you have at the third circle two very useful offensive spells: Scintinating Sphere and Fireball, which can determine the outcome of a battle. Or invisibility, second circle, which can not only be used to flee a deadly situation, but can also be crucial to save someone that has been feared or paralized. At fourth circle, you should learn polymorph self spell to increase the variety of things you can do for the group. Never know when you’ll need a tiny pixie to fly somewhere, a tough Umberhulk to dig a way out or an ugly, smelly troll to slowly heal your wounds.
When you’ve already attained some power, and you are able to cast at least fifth circle spells, things are different. You’ve reached a point where you don’t need to devote yourself entirely to cast spells on the group’s members and toss a fireball or two. Instead, now you have the possibility, and responsability, to pick a wide selection of useful spells, including offensive spells, emergency spells, defensive spells for yourself, and spells for the group. This is, so to speak, the inflexion point of the wizard’s career. Now, it's equally important to know what spells to prepare as it is to know when to cast them. This is not something you learn from a book. This is something you learn from experience, so go out there and adventure and find out. How do I find this out? Easily. When you reach a point in a trip where you say to yourself “Damn, I should’ve not cast that firebrand on those goblin runts, I need it now against this real threatening bugbears”, then you’ve found out. Simple as that. Okay, maybe I could give you a more detailed guideline on this one... I will:
When you observe and you think the situation can be handled by the rest of the group without you using that spell, taking them only a bit more of time and no serious injuries, then is best you keep your spell. If you observe and you predict they’ll be overwhelmed, probably causing someone to die or the group being unable to deal with the situation without resorting to many consumables, then cast it.
Two important things to note: One, if there’s more casters in the group. Talk to them before preparing spells. Try to not overlap in what you prepare, and try to stay communicative during the adventure, so both dont cast the same spell at the same moment, resulting in a wasted spell. And two, don’t think that because you have an invisibility spell you are safe. Some creatures see past invisibility, a haste or expeditious retreat spell is always handy.
This is a tricky one. There’s so many different spells that it would be impossible for me to give advice on all of them. Regardless, one should learn spells as they come, a thick spellbook makes for a better prepared wizard. Which spells to have memorized? That depends much on the situation, but as with anything, there’s always better all-around spells. Here, I’ll name 5 spells per circle, that I consider to be most important and useful, and I’ll explain why, roughly.
To note: Is highly recommended that you, as a wizard, have always some spells that you know you probably -won’t- end up casting, but that in some unexpected scenarios would mean the difference between life and death. Examples: Lesser Spell Mantle, See invisibility, Tenser, Lesser Spellbreach, etc.
What is counterspelling? Counterspelling is the ability to neutralize the opponent spell as it’s cast, with your own spell. To do this, you have to be able to accomplish all of the following conditions:
You need to concentrate on the opponent and stay focused on them, soon as they start chanting or doing the hand gestures, you need to identify it, then think quickly on the proper countering spell, and cast it at the same time they cast theirs. The reason this won’t work if you cant match their speed, is because by the time you’ve started casting the counter spell, they’re already done with theirs. Any spell works to counter the same spell being cast by the opponent. This means, if you can cast the same spell they’re trying to cast, you can counter it. With dispels, it’s more complicated. With lesser dispel you can only counter up to second circle spells, with normal dispel up to third circle spells, and with greater dispel up to sixth circle spells. Mordenkainen’s disjunction will counter -any- spell.
Here’s a list of some of the natural counter spells:
Any Negative Energy Spell&Negative Energy Protection Light&Darkness Haste&Slow Grease&Freedom Ray of Efeeblement&Bull’s Strengh Invisibility&See invisibility Web&Freedom Ghoul Touch& Cure Light Wounds Invisibility Sphere&Purge Invisibility Clarity&Charm Person Clairaudience&Blindness/deafness Fear&Remove Fear Contagion&Remove Disease Bestow Curse&Remove Curse Lesser Spell Breach&Lesser Spell Mantle, Minor Globe of Invulnerability Lesser Mindblank&Confusion Animate Dead&Sunbeam Feeblemind&Heal Dismissall&Gate Planar Bindings&Dismissall True Seeing&Greater Shadow Conjuration Stone to Flesh&Flesh to Stone Power Word: Stun&Clarity Control Undead&Sunbeam MindBlank&Mass Charm Premonition&Feeblemind Weird&True Seeing Power Word: Kill&Deathward Wail of the Banshee&Silence
What is spell resistance? Spell resistance it’s the ability of some creatures or individuals to resist magic. Be it via an enchanted item, training, or innate abilities. The spell resistance (SR) is natural of creatures such as Dragons and Outsiders. Innate SR and SR gained through enchanted items can be reduced temporarily with spellbreaches.
How can I overcome the SR of a creature? Well, that depends on two things. First, how powerful their SR is, and second, how powerful you are, or if you have purposedly trained to breach through the SR. Basicaly, if you are far too weak in comparison, your spells won’t work. If you are vastly more powerful, they’ll work most of the times, and if you are powerful alike, then it’s got fair chances. An illustrative example: A wizard able to cast sixth circle spells, will go through SR granted by most enchanted items. A wizard able to cast only sencond circle spells, won’t go through a quasits SR. You’ll need a wizard capable of seventh or even eight circle spells to have a chance to go through a Balor's SR.
Note that it is possible to perform special training that is based solely on the art of penetrating the spellresistance of creatures. This training is often called “Spell Penetration” training, though it’s not practiced by many. What to do when I can’t bypass a creature’s SR? RUN!!!! No, I’m kidding. If you are on your own, then you have two options. You either run, or if you can cast tenser’s spell, you may try to kill the creature physically. If you are with someone, you may want just to wait and aid them with spells that will make them more efficient. Do not just waste spells on something you clearly can’t harm. You may need those spells later.
As a spellcaster’s knowledge on magic grows, they can learn to cast spells in a slightly modified way. They can empower them, extend them, maximize them, still and silence them. This variations of the spells are called “Metamagic”. It’s evident that this versions of the spells are superior to the normal versions, and that’s why it takes more power to memorize them. Let’s go one by one and explain exactly what they do. Extended Spell: This will make your spells last twice the normal amount of time, be them offensive or defensive spells. It’s only slightly more powerful than the normal version of the spell, and will only require you to give up a spell of one higher circle. This Metamagic is very useful, specialy for long adventures.
Empowered Spell: This will make your spells more powerful, approximatedly 50% more powerful. It’s more powerful than the normal version (obviously) and will require you to give up a spell of two higher circles. It can be used on spells like bull’s strengh, as well as offensive spells like fireball.
Maximize Spell: This will make your spells to always give the best of their possibilities. Meaning that, if casting a fireball you can burn someone a bit, quite some, and a lot, it will be always be “a lot”. The difference with the empowered version, would be that empowered it could -surpass- the usual limits of the spells, but it could also happen it doesn’t reach the usual limit. This Metamagic can be used with the same type of spells as empowered ones, and will require you to give up a spell of three higher circles. I personaly don’t find it all that useful.
Silent Spell: This will allow you to cast spells without the need to pronounce alloud the verbal component of the spell. This is useful when you are gagged, or under a silence spell. This version of the spell is only slightly more powerful as the normal one, and as such will require you to give up a spell of one higher circle.
Still Spell: This will allow you to cast spells without the need of the somatic component of the spell. This is useful when you are tied, or wearing a heavy armor or shield. This version of the spell is only slightly more powerful as the normal one, and as such will require you to give up a spell of one higher circle.
Quicken Spell: This will allow you to cast a spell at twice the normal speed. This is useful when you need to cast a spell that at no cost has to be counterspelled, as a non hasted caster won’t be able to match your speed. Note that when you are hasted, quickening a spell will result in no changes from the original version of the spell. Eventhough I don’t consider this to be extremly useful, it takes a lot more of power to cast this variation of the spell, thus requiring you to give up a spell of four higher circles.
To me, the most important and useful ones are extended and empowered metamagic, being the ones that I’ve noticed other magicians used more as well.
The last chapter, but not less important, is about the equipment a wizard should wear and carry in their adventures, appart of course of the spell components.
Intelligence boosting items: This will not only make you think more clearly, but also will help you memorize more spells daily, and make your spells harder to evade.
Focus items: Items that will improve your focus while you memorize spells, allowing you to increase the number of spells you can memorize daily. Have this clear, the more spells you can cast, the more versatile you can be, and the more good you can do alone or in a group.
Piercing Resistance items: A belt or a cloak that can block the damage caused by piercing weapons, such like arrows, bolts, daggers and shortswords. Why precisely against piercing weapons? Read again the list of piercing weapons. Those are the weapons a wizard should fear most. Daggers and Shortswords of assassins and sneakers they can’t see comming, and arrows and bolts that can kill them from afar, even if they are at the rear of the group.
Anything that improves your knowledge of magic: Remember, the more you know about magic, the easier is for you to resist it’s effects.
Healing: At least one potion that will restore you to full health, and then a stack of potions that will be able to restore you fully twice if you drink them all.
Scrolls: Carrry scrolls along that will be useful once your own spells have faded and you find yourself in a place were resting is imposible. (Bulls strengh, Mage Armor, Protection From Aligment, Endure elements, etc.) Also bring scrolls of spells that you’d rarely need to cast, but when they are needed you can resort to the scrolls. (Knock, Find Traps, invisibility, clarity). Scrolls of offensive spells often result in wasted scrolls.
Balms: Even if your role in a group shouldn’t be the healer, you can still apply some balms here and there, even from invisibility. This can be done when you notice your contribution to the party with spells won’t be of use, and that this way you can ease the burden of the group’s priest.
Miscellaneous: Potions and items that are of obvious use. Such as remove fear potion or items that can activate spells of use. Carry always at least 1 spare invisibility potion and one haste potion.
I can’t stress enough that the success of the party will be your own success. Do not feel down if at some points of an adventure you can’t contribute at all to the party, remember your spells are vital to the party, and if you need to save them until the right moment, then so be it. Even when you are out of spells, you are still able to think, while the others fight, you can observe from the back and call out tactics, we are smart, we can do that. Even if they need not your advice on tactics, don’t desperate, tag along, and you can still have that brilliant and necessary idea on how to overcome an obstacle, magical in nature or not. Do not think because you are not actively shooting or casting at something, you are of no use. You already gave your –necessary- spells to the fighters, and you still have your brain and knowledge.