What's a Wizard To Do

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WotC Article

The contents herein are entirely copyrighted to Wizards of the Coast and represent official Birthright lore.
©1996-2010 Wizards of the Coast, Inc.

Original article from Dragon Magazine 219

Some projects are blessings in disguise. When I learned I would be part of the BIRTHRIGHT game development team, the idea of working on the new campaign setting seemed kind of neat. The concept of a world heavy in politics and economics was well, about as dry as the dust on my old college history textbooks.
Since I?ve never had a particular interest in warfare or politics, I quickly rolled up a wizard named Aurelia when we started play testing these new rules. Okay, I thought, I love wizards. Let?s see what this game can do for my favorite character class. I created a wizard with a slightly above average bloodline, which granted her some special abilities. As a blooded character, she was allowed to rule a domain, which turned out to be a nice little collection of magical holdings on the southern coast of Anuire. I passed up the option to rule actual tracts of land that seemed too messy.
The first several sessions were rather lean. I couldn?t make any of my die rolls, and wizards can?t collect much money if they don?t rule lands. I was getting nowhere. Then one day, Sue Weinlein made an offer I couldn?t refuse. Queen Sue was under attack from assorted local armies. ?Hey, I?ll pay you to be my court wizard!? she offered. I went for it.
I now had some actual income, as well as the backing of the queen. Things were looking up. I got to spy on people, hang around the queen?s court and harass people, and annoy the guilds with my wizardly powers.
Then came the day that Rich Baker walked into the play test with realm spells-high-powered spells that can be used only by blooded wizards who rule a domain. Great! Cool new things for a regent wizard to do!
Queen Sue was still under attack by numerous armies, so I scanned the list of realm spells. Move troops caught my eye. ?Hey, Rich, I think I?ll move a unit of enemy troops out of Sue?s province,? I said. He turned a little pale. ?That really wasn?t my intention,? he said. ?I figured people would use that spell to move their own troops.?
?It doesn?t say that I can?t,? I wheedled. The others around the table quickly came to my defense. Rich assented. ?Then I?ll move this unit of knights,? I announced, peering at the map and choosing the domain of a spider abomination. ?Right into the Spiderfell!? The rest of the group howled with laughter, Rich wrote himself a note to change that spell, and Jon Pickens called out (on the Spider?s behalf), ?Thanks for the canned goods!? Playing a wizard was suddenly interesting!
In the time since that play test, I?ve dreamed up many more interesting things for wizards to do. Magic in Cerilia is inherently different from magic in other game worlds. For those of you who aren?t enamored by the idea of playing in a war-torn land of political unrest, I?d like to pass along my ideas for making the game more interesting.
Cerilian Magic
Cerilia is designed to be a land imbued with magic. Its magical energy comes from the physical features of the land-waterfalls, gorges, cliffs, and deep caverns all contribute to this energy known as mebhaighl (meh-VALE). Areas of fantastic natural features create more mebhaighl, while barren plains and deserts provide less energy. Places that are highly populated or developed inhibit the land?s natural energy. The result is that wizards must choose their lands wisely; if a mage hopes to cast powerful realm magic, he must know where to tap into the sources of such magic.
Mebhaighl does not affect ordinary wizard spells like those found in the Player?s Handbook; such enchantments are no different in Cerilia than they are anywhere else. Realm spells, on the other hand, are dependent on having sufficient mebhaighl. Realm spells can be cast only from a magical source-thus, it?s in a wizard?s best interest to find those sources, develop them, and maintain them.
Some wizards may find the lure of the throne exciting, and may wish to rule lands as well. This can lead to infinite exciting and rewarding adventures. But from my experience, a wizard in Cerilia will be more successful in magical endeavors if she allies herself with a king or queen who sees to the burdens of politics and war. This leaves a wizard free to pursue interests of magic.
One of the more interesting elements of politics is this: as rulers improve and civilize their lands, the mebhaighl in those lands decreases. Wizards may suffer as a result. On the other hand, wizards who weaken the economic power of the lands around them actually benefit from strengthened mebhaighl.
So what?s a wizard whose major holdings are in magically weak areas to do? Simple?she runs a pipeline to a magic heavy land. Wizards are allowed to create ley lines that channel energy from mebhaighl-rich sources to places weak in magic. A mage can then draw energy from a powerful magical source high in the mountains and use it hundreds of miles away, even in the middle of a bustling city.
A wise king or queen will make an effort to place a wizard on the payroll. By allowing a court mage to maintain some weak local sources as well as powerful remote sources, the ruler can benefit from awesome magic potential. It?s also in a ruler?s best interest to protect those sources; of course, this can lead to dozens of adventures and territory disputes.
Even a wizard who chooses not to rule a domain can find extensive employment and adventure opportunities. During times of war, a wizard might be kept busy day and night simply scrying on various enemy armies?and could easily become a double agent through such an arrangement! Wars also require magical weapons and armor, defensive devices, or items of healing that only a wizard can provide. Even low level illusionists may find themselves in demand on a battlefield.
Because of Ceriliaís predisposition to war, wizards and their magical item handiwork are less common here than in other game worlds. But that also makes them more valuable. And in light of Cerilia?s primary enemies, the awnsheghlien (twisted monstrosities of evil bloodlines who wield extraordinary powers), wizards take on even greater importance. Warriors may steal the spotlight and dominate the political power structure, priests may control the hearts of the faithful, but the wizards control the real power in the land?just ask Roger Moore. His wizard-king summoned
thousands of legions of undead that ran rampant across Anuire, and it took at least six other rulers working together finally to squash him.
If you?re like I was, and you?re thinking that the BIRTHRIGHT setting has nothing to offer your wizard, think again. The magical powers available in Cerilia can make wizards the envy of the other classes-and can make a wizard?s life more exciting than ever before.

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