Mage Archetypes

Mages can often seem like they've been left out in the cold when it comes to easy character ideas. Clerics, by contrast, seem to come with built-in character ideas: once you decide to follow Rannash, it's a pretty simple step to decide you're warlike and military; a Majeniran cleric can easily decide to be pacifistic and good-natured. The cleric kits go a long ways here, but there are no "mage kits".

As a result, many characters don't get developed further than "I'm a guy who learned some magic." But in fantasy and myth, there are a host of good mage "archetypes". Here are some ideas to work with!

(The CG's magical traditions are a great help here.)

Academics and scholars

Academic mages are interested in the study of the craft for its own sake, just as professors are often more interested in studying a field than in applying it. They tend towards a certain bookishness and intellectualism. Their magical studies often go towards the perfection of certain rituals or techniques, or towards acquiring knowledge of magical technique without regard to the practical applications (if any) of such knowledge.

Scholarly mages should buy the Sage skill (or at least some Lore). Peaceful, Pacifism, Weakness, and Law-Abiding are common disads. Many scholars aren't interested in personal wealth and will end up pouring their gains into their work (call this Charity).

Most academics follow a variant of the Allondine Guild tradition, but the Neo-Sturian school is also popular among academics. The Lodges also give rise to many researchers, although these types are less willing to share the findings of their study.

Lodge and covenant mages

Lodges are groups of mages bound into ancient fraternal orders. They pass on their lodge's secret rituals, knowledge and traditions only to their members, who are inducted into the lodge by initiation rites. Lodges are generally secretive about their activities, and some lodges may even keep secret who their members are.

Other groups of mages may come together into exclusive groups, to pool resources and share knowledge amongst themselves. They may not have a lodge's ancient traditions or rituals, but will similarly share what they've learned only with other members of their compact. Depending on the group, these collections of mages may call themselves a "covenant", a "coven" or a "cabal".

Lodge and covenant mages should buy Lore or Sage to represent their group's corpus of knowledge. Wealthier lodges may have strong resources, represented by the Wealth skill.

Members of lodges obviously follow the Lodges tradition. Covenants, covens and cabals will follow whatever traditions their founders followed.

Military mages

Every army needs magical "artillery" for offensive spells, or mages to act as "engineers". Mercenary companies and kings alike use the services of mages in their conflicts. They protect with Barkskin, attack with Lightning Bolt and scout with Awareness and Camouflage.

Military mages are disciplined and focused, with a soldier's obedience and bearing. Pacifism and Peaceful don't work as disads, but Overconfidence and Courage sure do. Most of the natural limitations (such as Lame or Weakness) are also unlikely. Weapons points (especially for armor) and Battlecast are common skills, as are Will and Awareness.

Many military mages follow are Bearers of Staff and Blade or the Northern School. However, military mages also come from the guilds, lodges and colleges.

Guild mages

Mages in cities often band together into guilds, sort of a cross between a labor union and a trade organization. This lets them set price, bargain collectively, and pool their influence in city politics and economics. As with any guild, members progress from apprentice to journeyman/journeywoman to master/mistress, as their skills improve.

Thus, guilds consist of mages who are using their magery to earn a living, casting spells for a fee or selling enchanted items. This means that they tend to be worldly, savvy, ambitious, and often self-interested.

Guild mages often take a Lore skill (to get information on local politics, or local items). Quicktalk is handy, as is Wealth for the more successful members or guilds.

Many guilds subscribe to the Allondine Guild tradition, although the Kislennic Lodge tradition and Northern School are influential in the northwest and northeast respectively.

Nobles and gentry

Since nobles and gentry are usually economically self-sufficient, they have all the time they want to study things like magic – and they don't have to worry about being able to make a career out of it, either. They may choose to dabble in magery as a hobby... or may choose to spend their available time delving deeply into arcane study. And a politically active noble might find that spells such as Charm and Suggestion come in handy.

Nobles and gentry will by necessity have Status and levels of Wealth. The "dabbler" might have a few levels of the Mage skill at most, while the serious type will have higher levels of the skill and will actually begin to resemble the "Scholar" archetype (above). The serious politician will also have Will and/or Awareness.

Nobles and gentry can follow any of the traditions, depending on who taught them.

Officials and court mages

Figures of authority often have mages in their employ, to perform what magical tasks need to be done, and sometimes acting as advisors (assuming the mage is learned). These people range from the mage helping out the local bailiff all the way up to the courtier mages who form part of a noble's retinue.

Officials or court mages will sometimes have Status, depending on their own stature and the stature of the person they serve. A mage acting as an advisor should also have Lore and/or Sage.

Court mages tend to come from whichever guild (the Allondine Guild tradition), college, or lodge (the Kislennic Lodge tradition) is currently favored by their employer. Of course, in Tamplonia, they usually come instead from the Order of St. Ferdinand.

Hedge mages and naturalists

Naturalists are mages who focus on magic as found in nature. They tend not to be city-bound folk; many may be "hedge mages", mages who live in the countryside and use their magic as a local craft to assist their fellow villagers. They tend to be "salt of the earth" types, down-to-earth and unpretentious, without concern for bookish learning or arcane studies.

Alchemy, Poisons, Lore, and First Aid are all common skills. Status is going to be rare.

Most of these mages will tend toward the Cunning Man/Wise Woman model. Especially around Roudoigne, they may be influenced by the Learners' Grove.


Illusionists focus their magical attentions on simulating what's real. Why? Perhaps they're entertainers, using their powers to put on a show, good-natured and just trying to earn a living. Maybe they're underhanded con men, using powers of illusion to deceive for profit. Or perhaps they're academics (see above) who study this kind of magic.

Will (for TOW spells) is a must.

The arts of illusion are taught by all the traditions, so illusionists do not tend toward any given one. Some illusionists follow the Yellow Mage, although such membership is dangerous.