Tuesday, May 26, 2020

GLOG Class: the OG Wizard (aka the Sage)

I don't like wizards in D&D very much, but I do really like archetypal wizards from fiction. I think D&D usually doesn't get what makes wizards wizardly. (Here's some more ranting about that.)

Here's a GLOG class I wrote to try to fix some of that. It's very long and probably too powerful.

GLOG Class: the OG Wizard (aka the Sage or the Senex or the Wanderer)

A: Learned, Wizardly Tricks, Unanswered Questions 
B: Ancient Tongues, Well-Known & Well-Travelled
C: Deep Insight, Magical Presence
D: Hidden Speech, Actual Magic

Starting equipment: well-worn traveller’s clothes, a walking stick, sturdy boots, and some kind of practical-but-showy headgear to keep the rain out, like a wide-brimmed hat or deep hood. Plus whatever you need for your Wizardly Tricks.

(A) Well-Learned
You gain one of these skills for every Wizard template you possess: Folklore, History, Poetry, Philology, Mysticism, Monstrumology, Alchemy, Mythology, Runes & Glyphs, Geopolitics, or something else of your own suggestion along these similar lines.

(A) Wizardly Tricks
Every time you gain a template, roll 1d12 and gain that Wizardly Trick. If you roll a repeat, take your choice of the one above or below it.

(A) Unanswered Questions
You have a stat called Unanswered, which starts at 0. Everytime you encounter something very strange and mysterious and unknown in your adventuring, add 1 to your Unanswered stat. Note that this has to be stuff that is really weird and unexplained, not minor stuff. 

Good examples of unanswered questions include:
  1. What is through the Red Iron Door under Mount Breakspear?
  2. Who is the hooded figure we keep seeing at dusk and dawn?
  3. Why would our friend, the Duke of Ravenwood, suddenly turn on us?
  4. What happened that caused the ruined castle to the east to split in half?
  5. Where can we find the lair of the demonghast called Fatemonger?
  6. What does this mysterious serrated amulet do, and how do you use it?
Big, bad questions, ones with reaching implications and strange answers. Again, whenever you have a new question, write it down, and then add 1 to your Unanswered stat.

When you are in the presence of a great deal of knowledge—which might be a big library, another sage or scholar, some ancient wise being, or something else entirely—roll 1d6. If the result is less than or equal to your Unanswered stat, you learn the answer to one of your big questions, and then reduce your Unanswered stat by the amount rolled. This can be related to the source of knowledge you’re dealing with, or it could just be a flash of inspiration; how you piece the info together matters less than that you now know it.

It’s important to note that if you discover an answer to one of your big questions organically, just through playing the game, that doesn’t reduce your Unanswered stat. You only reduce your Unanswered stat when you specifically use your wizardly ability to divine answers in this way.

(B) Ancient Tongues
When you encounter some bit of language that you don’t know—like a page in a book, inscription on a ring, or occult chanted phrase—there’s a 2-in-6 chance you know it. Not that you know the whole language, just that you happen to know what this particular bit of language means. 

As you gain templates in this class, the chances that you know any particular bit of language increases by 1-in-6 per template.

(B) Well-Known & Well-Travelled
When you get to a new place, like a great forest or big city, there’s a 4-in-6 chance you’ve been there before. If you have, the GM will tell you three things:
  1. Something nasty that you should watch out for, like corrupt guards or spider pits 
  2. Some smaller location of interest, like an inn or ruined temple
  3. Somebody you know who lived here the last time you came by. The first time you use this ability, they think well of you; the second time, they think badly of you; then it’s back to good, then bad, etc.
All this info is, importantly, reflective of whatever you knew the last time you were around; things might very well have changed since then.

Additionally, whenever you meet a stranger, there’s a 2-in-6 chance they recognize you; if that’s a 1, they’ve actually met you before, although you may not remember meeting them. That first roll (but not the 1) increases by 1-in-6 per template, too.

(C) Deep Insight
If you spend a minute or so watching someone, you can make an Intelligence check to learn what their next immediate course of action is, a Wisdom check to learn why they’re taking that particular course of action, and a Charisma check to learn how you could best change their mind. Once you’ve done this, you can’t do it again until tomorrow, and you can’t do it to the same person two days in a row.

An example of this could be “the King is going to banish us from the realm,” and “he’s doing it because he’s already unpopular with his subjects, and news of war from the South would spark further unrest,” and “he fears for his own throne, but if we can protect his throne he’ll be happy to keep us around.”

(C) Magical Presence
Most of your wizardly power comes from your ability to be believed to be a wizard. When people see you, they know you to be a powerful magician, even if they can’t explain fully why. 

If you mention specific magic in the course of offering advice, counsel, explanations, or otherwise steering someone to a certain action or behavior, you have advantage on any check to do so. “Specific magic” in this case includes spells, charms, hexes, curses, blessings, spirits, demons, faeries, the undead, the supernatural in general, and really anything outside the purview of ordinary people. 

It doesn’t matter how you work in magic, really. It might be “you better step aside or else I’ll turn you into a toad,” but it might also be “to heal your sickness, you must walk to the river and back once every day and leave an offering to the river spirits there,” or even just “this unexplained phenomena is occurring because of a ghost.” When you mention magic, people tend to believe you.

This probably doesn’t work on real spellcasters, like sorcerers and witches, as well as stuff like dragons, religious zealots, genuine supernatural beings, and certain pompous academics.

(D) Hidden Speech
When you succeed on the now-4-in-6 roll to use Ancient Tongues, you now have enough of that language to carry on a medium-length conversation fluently. 

Furthermore, you can now use Ancient Tongues (and thus Hidden Speech) on things that might not ordinarily qualify as languages: the call of wild animals, the whispering of trees, the crash of a thunderstorm, the clink of gold coins, the creak of an old castle, or the cry of the oppressed. 

(D) Actual Magic
Pick a legendary spell from one of the Wizard subclasses, or another equally big bad spell (if your GM’s feeling generous and creative, cook up your own with them). You get 4 casting dice to cast it, but these dice never return to your casting pool, and your casting dice pool refreshes after 1 week, rather than 1 day. You can still suffer Dooms and Mishaps as normal based on whichever subclass you took your spells from, and count as a Wizard for all intents and purposes. 

Every few levels, or every time you finish a chapter/arc/adventure, you should probably get another legendary spell to add to your repertoire. You still only get 4 casting dice, though, and they still take a full week to reset.

Wizardly Tricks
For each Wizard template you take, you roll 1d12 and gain of these; if you roll a repeat, take your choice of the option above or below it. Also, before each of these, insert the word “Wizardly,” so Voice becomes Wizardly Voice, Fire becomes Wizardly Fire, and so on. (This is especially important to remember if anyone ever asks you how you’re doing one of these tricks.)
  1. Flask. You always have a small flask of alcohol on you, no matter what, and when you or a party member really need a slug, it’s always got just enough.
  2. Voice. You are very good at doing imitations and mimicry, to an uncanny degree.
  3. Animal. You’ve got a small animal with you, like a raven or a cat, that is cleverer than normal, can read whatever you can, and will sometimes do what you tell it to do.
  4. Quill. You’ve got a quill (or a knife, if you’d rather be etching than writing) that can write on anything—wood, stone, metal, whatever. 
  5. Light. You can touch a small object to make it glow like a candle; you get 1 hour of this per template per day.
  6. Notebook. You have a notebook on your person that never leaves your side. Literally. If someone takes it away from you, it’ll end up back on your person, somehow.
  7. Cowl. When you wear your practical headgear, you can choose to have it hide your face from all but dedicated scrutiny; you’ll just look like an old person, and people will quickly write you off.
  8. Tea. You’re just really bonkers good at making tea, and know tons about it; if you claim it’s magical, anyone and everyone will believe you.
  9. Fire. You can start a small fire with almost anything under almost any conditions. 
  10. Staff. Your walking stick will never break, and you have advantage on checks against being deprived of it (which includes stuff like Háma at the door to the Golden Hall).
  11. Charm. People just seem to take a shine to you when they first meet you, especially animals, children, and elders.
  12. Mouth. You can whistle clearly and loudly, blow ornate smoke-shapes, and tie knots with your tongue.
Whether or not all these tricks are genuinely magical or just being really clever is up to you.


There’s definitely stuff that archetypal wizards do that this class doesn’t. Teaching young heroes, for example, or advising kings. But I think it hits most of the important beats. 

Some characters that I feel like this class broadly fits better than most current D&D classes:
  • Gandalf, Dumbledore, and Merlin, obviously
  • Uncle Iroh
  • Yoda, but also Obi-Wan (even in the prequels, I’d argue)
  • The Discworld Witches, and sometimes the Wizards, too (plus a bunch of other one-off characters, like the philosophers of Ephebe)
  • Maester Marwyn, little as we know about him
  • Some of Shakespeare’s clowns, depending on context and the play
This is unplaytested, and definitely more powerful than most GLOG classes, so let me know if you end up using it anywhere.


    1. Maybe replace well learned with 'you get +1 skill slots for each sage template you possess'
      As for being too powerful, I dont think so at all. You get a bunch of neat circumstantial tricks and know a lot of people for the most part.

      1. Yeah, that power level was me just reflecting on how long this class is, and then capping it with a legendary spell.

        Thanks for your feedback. I'm still relatively new to GLOG, so your comments are appreciated.

    2. definitely doesn't seem underpowered at all, ngl. If the other classes in play get all sort of wacky fantasy powers then having a constant flask of alcohol by my side really doesn't feel that special, honestly. And as much as I absolutely adore the Unanswered Questions thing, that feels more like a mechanic that could be given to any party to simulate general research / flashes of insight.

      I'm no GLOG expert, but I've got to wonder if there's a straightforward ,fair-ish way to give players highly-powerful magic at level 1 but disincentivize using it? You certainly don't want Gandalf using Magic Missle several times a day, but if the situation calls for it it seems apt that he SHOULD be able to get the party our of otherwise-insurpassable danger?

      maybe by inversely linking magic potency with HP, so the wizard couldn't cast their shit until they're on death's door? but that assumes only casting in combat and ignores using up your "big moment" to surpass non-combat obstacles. fuck if I know, really.

      1. Yeah, it's a complicated question. I joked to someone on the OSR discord that if I could just make this all one big template at level 1, I probably would. Likewise, some kind of "you can cast magic but only when you *really need it*" is pretty squirrelly, even for a class this fluffy.

        And thanks for the balance commentary; I said it felt overpowered just because I was staring at two pages of text capped off with "yeah haha you get a legendary spell!" In retrospect it seems more reasonable.

      2. maybe you just need to come up with an extra stat called "wizardly dignity" or whatever. every time you cast a spell, you calculate what percentage chance you have to lose dignity by casting it? either by DM fiat or by some equation involving hp and downed comrades and whatever. and then once you're out of dignity you can't cast spells until you've gotten it back through performing little minor-magic cantrips, I guess?

        this feels like a shitty idea but who knows.

      3. One thing I use a lot as a limiter is "drop to 0 HP when you use this, you must lose at least 1 HP". So, if you are doing usual adventuring (while at a lot of HP) then using it is a Big Deal and rather costly. If you do it in combat, it's an Even Bigger Deal, but it's less of an issue of Shit Has Already Gone South. But you have to do it before you are at 0 HP!

        Keep in mind this is ItO so 0HP != unconscious.

    3. Bravo! This is so well done and flavorful. I'm saving this link :)