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How Obvious is a Wizard?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Maybe one of those in heavy armor is a Kineticist, and that wasn't a fireball that hit the party at all, but a Energy Ball doing fire damage. (Armor doesn't impede psionic manifestation at all. Or it didn't with the XPH. I assume Psionics Unleashed is the same.)


Jeraa wrote:
Maybe one of those in heavy armor is a Kineticist, and that wasn't a fireball that hit the party at all, but a Energy Ball doing fire damage. (Armor doesn't impede psionic manifestation at all. Or it didn't with the XPH. I assume Psionics Unleashed is the same.)

Right. And because I don't have Spellcraft, I can't make the connection between the guy chanting and pointing his finger at us just before the fireball exploded and the fireball. That's obviously just a coincidence. Make one of these armored people rushing at me with swords did it. I'll just ignore that guy in the back.

Yes, there are other possibilities. But I'm going to guess it's the unarmored guy and be right about 90% of the time.


Ravingdork wrote:
Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
When magic has been cast, then maybe there's a wizard amongst the group and it probably the one unarmored guy in the back. Until then, there's no reason to assume unarmored people are wizards. I mean, have bandits never mugged caravans with guards and passengers? How often, in a bandit's life are the unarmored people in the back wizards and not just passengers?

Quite right.

In many settings the odds of an unarmored person being a spellcaster are a 100 to 1, sometimes less.

A bandit can rob many caravans without ever encountering a spellcaster, at least not until his very last job. ;)

Again depends on the circumstances. Bandits robbing a caravan: Yeah, it would be stupid to assume that every unarmored person is a caster. OTOH, the unarmored guy who doesn't draw a weapon or dive for cover when you attack, but seems to be working as guard? Take him out.

Likewise, if the party of adventurers who've reached your lair 3 levels under the old castle has 2 guys in plate, one quick guy in leather and some dude in robes, it's a pretty good bet he's a caster.


In 3.5 there were actually some rules for sizing up an (N)PC via Perception/Sense Motive skills and feats. Alas it only reveals CR or total class level, and does not actually contain detecting which class.

Spoiler:

Combat Intuition feat:
Quote:

Benefit: As a free action, you can use Sense Motive to assess the challenge presented by a single opponent in relationship to your own level/Hit Dice (see the assess opponent option under the Sense Motive skill, page 102). You gain a +4 bonus on such checks and narrow the result to a single category. In addition, whenever you make a melee attack against a creature that you made a melee attack against during the previous round, you gain a +1 insight bonus on your melee attack rolls against that creature.

For more details check the new Sense Motive skill use Assess Opponent from Complete Adventurer:

Quote:

Assess Opponent: As a standard action, you can use Sense Motive to ascertain how tough a challenge an opponent poses for you, based on your level and your opponent's CR. This skill check is opposed by the opponent's Bluff check. To attempt this task, your opponent must be visible to you and within 30 feet. If you have seen the opponent in combat, you gain a +2 circumstance bonus on the check.

The accuracy of the assessment depends on the amount by which your Sense Motive check result exceeds the opposed Bluff check result. On a successful Sense Motive opposed check, you can gain the following information:

[code]
Opponent's CR Assess Opponent Result
4 or more less than your level/HD A pushover
1, 2, or 3 less than your level/HD Easy
Equal to your level/HD A fair fight
Equal to your level/HD plus 1, 2, or 3 A tough challenge
Exceeds your level/HD by 4 or more A dire threat
[/code]

A successful assessment reveals that your foe belongs in one of two adjacent categories (for example, "Easy" or "A fair fight"). If your Sense Motive check result exceeds the opposed Bluff check result by 10 or more, you can narrow the result down to a single category.

By contrast, if the target's Bluff check result equals or slightly exceeds your Sense Motive check result, you gain no useful information. If the target's Bluff check result exceeds your Sense Motive check result by 5 or more, you may (at the DM's option) gain a false impression, believing your opponent to be much stronger or weaker than he really is (equal chance of either). If the target's Bluff check result exceeds your Sense Motive check result by 10 or more, your assessment is off by at least two categories (for example, a dire threat might be assessed as a fair fight).

Special: The Combat Intuition feat grants a +4 bonus on Sense Motive checks made to assess opponents. It also enables you to narrow your assessment of your opponent's combat capabilities to a single category. Finally, it allows you to accomplish this task as a free action.

An opponent that is particularly vulnerable to your typical attack routine (for example, a vampire facing a high-level cleric of Pelor) registers as one category less challenging; one who is resistant to your typical attack routine (for example, a golem opposing a rogue who relies heavily on sneak attacks) registers as one category more challenging.

Try Again: You can use this skill on a different opponent each round.

Incidentally, with regards to the related question of "Do characters know their hit points?": Combat Awareness

Quote:
Benefit: While maintaining your combat focus, you learn the current hit point total of each adjacent opponent and ally. If you have three or more combat form feats, you gain blindsight out to 5 feet.

...copied and expanded from the Do Character know their class level ? thread on ENWorld


The wizard I play is definitely distinguishable as a caster of some sort. Wears a quiver around his belt that's stocked full of wands and has multiple scroll cases dangling from a bandolier and still wears the robes he wore at level 1. The fact that they're all scorched, torn, blackened and tattered just adds to his image and he's building up a reputation as 'the Burning Man' after deliberatly targetting himself with a fireball to toast a bunch of swarms surrounding him. Always wears a mask of Fear and carries a Staff of Cackling Wrath mounted with an intelligent skull that talks. Everyone in the party gives him a wide birth (did I mention he never washes either) and he thinks this makes him look dangerous.

He's always been an arrogant bastard, it's only the last few levels that he's got the gumption the back it up. Made for interesting gameplay when the wizard steps up and does all the talking and diplomacy rolls before anyone realises he has the lowest skills/stats for that sort of thing.

He never volunteers for keeping watch either ("I need 8hrs sleep! I'm a wizard!") and usually just rolled over and went back to sleep when the camp was attacked. It took a stern talking from the party to stop him calling them either 'guards' or 'minions' but now that's all sorted. Latest outrage from the party was his animating of a zombie Frost Giant to use as a battering ram to attack an outpost. He told everyone it was only for the raid that he'd use it, only now it also carries all his gear and opens jars and stuff for him.

My point is, it's not just his outward appearance that pins him as a wizard, but his behaviour and his general bearing. Anyone observing him in a social occaison will know this guy is most definitely not normal but an eccentric in every regard.

Totally not like me in anyway. I shower at least once a week, whether I need it or not!

Andoran

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

And this is the nub of the problem: NPCs who view everything through a combat lens and have no concept of noncombatants or people who aren't part of an adventuring party.

You see a bunch of men wearing robes holding staves. They're wizards! Skewer them with arrows!

Congratulations, you've just killed a group of shepherds. Robes and staves are traditional for them too.

Let's have some context. Where are these shepherds that they're getting suddenly attacked? Shepherds are found invariably near their herds. Not only that, what about the rings, the headbands, the ioun stones, and everything else your stylish wizard will have that shepherds don't?

Quote:

You see a beautiful half-dressed woman with exotic tattoos and jewelry. It's a sorceress! Lop her head off!

Congratulations, you just killed the tattooed courtesan from the local brothel.

I never really expected that anyone traveling would actually wear that type of stuff. Again, courtesans have a very limited area they move in. Even if sorceresses in your world actually do look like courtesans, where you meet them will almost invariably provide the clue about which you're meeting.

Quote:

You see a gang of heavily armed men guarding an unarmored man wearing a robe. He's holding a book and a small silver stick of some sort. Another wizard! Kill him quick!

Congratulations, you've just murdered the royal tax collector. You have his book of accounts and a silver stylus. Also the taxes he's been collecting.

This one's vaguely plausible. And I'm not seeing why you would crying much about making the mistake.


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This actually came up recently in a campaign I'm in and it made me really damned glad that I generally dress all of my characters the same: all of them start with Traveler's Clothes, regardless of their class.

Right before reaching the next town on the group's trip, the GM asks me to remind him what my character is wearing (my character being a Wizard, the only arcane caster in the group). That by itself immediately triggered my "red flag" that something seriously bad was about to happen, but I did answer truthfully and told him that I was wearing typical travelers clothes (though I had a dagger strapped to my belt) and all of my books and writing materials (two journals and my spellbook) were in my backpack and not visible, my character claiming to be a simple novelist (he actually is, so it's not a lie) and had the journals from his travels to back it up.

Turns out the town is in a near riot over an arcane spellcaster terrorizing the town and probably would have lynched me if my nature as an arcane spellcaster was ever made obvious.

Being a low-level caster, who doesn't have very much to defend himself with, it's probably best to be as inconspicuous as you can. Don't make people think you're the easy target, just look like a civilian or something. Of course, you could probably turn that right around and wear whatever the hell you want once you get to a higher level and then really have some serious firepower to throw around.

Shadow Lodge

And in a situation where you are dressed as a simple traveller, are in a locale where you could plausibly be a simple traveller, and aren't actively using magic, it shouldn't be obvious that you're a wizard.

If the wizard is clearly being targeted unreasonably, such as if they are being low-profile in the middle of a bunch of unarmoured civilians who are not also being attacked, that is something to take up with the GM. But while civilians might outnumber wizards in most situations, that is not the case in many dangerous locales that adventurers frequent. In these locations, it becomes more likely that any given unarmoured person is a wizard. It's also possible for a hungry monster to attack the unarmoured person first because they look like an easier meal than the guy in plate, nevermind whether the monster knows what a caster is.

As for the more general question raised in the original post, I think there are plenty of situations where a character's exact class would be hard to assess. Aside from a few flashy bloodline powers and a lack of material components, sorcerers look very much like wizards. Clerics, unmounted paladins, oracles, and inquisitors could all be confused with each other. A mounted paladin might be indistinguishable from a cavalier unless you see the paladin use divine magic. Depending on build, barbarians, fighters, rangers, and rogues could look quite similar. Archetypes make it even trickier to pin down exact class. In recent campaigns, I have personally mistaken a wizard for a sorcerer, a cleric for an oracle, and a fighter with TWF for a ranger, even after seeing these NPCs in combat.

However, after a round or two of combat I've never had difficulty telling an arcane caster from a noncaster or noncombatant.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Jeraa wrote:
Maybe one of those in heavy armor is a Kineticist, and that wasn't a fireball that hit the party at all, but a Energy Ball doing fire damage. (Armor doesn't impede psionic manifestation at all. Or it didn't with the XPH. I assume Psionics Unleashed is the same.)

And why would they treat a Kinetcist any different from any other type of caster who can cast a "I blow you up" spell?

By the way that's a three feat expenditure for a psion to wear plate.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
You mean they have schools for adventurers now? And NPCs can go to them?

Actually yes. Pathfinder Society default background is 3 years of training in Absalom before you are sent out on your first real mission. This is beyond your initial class training.


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A wizard is never obvious, nor is he obscure, he appears precisely as he means to.


VRMH wrote:

"Dresses like a university professor" is a perfectly normal phrase, isn't it? So in a fantasy realm "dresses like a wizard" should be likewise. Precisely what that entails, depends on the setting.

Or the university.

That would be a great definition if it was in any way easy to spot a professor.

Test your ability


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Did nobody take into account that once the Wizard does cast a spell, the cover is blown?

And the fact that if the adventurer's become well-known, it's pretty much assured that people will know they move around with a spellcaster of some sort in the group, unless said caster proceeds to kill all witnesses every time. Then again, then the people would mistake him for a serial killer instead.


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Case 1: You're a hobgoblin being attacked by a group of people on one of the continents abutting the inner sea.

The ripped guy with no shirt is probably a barbarian.

The pretty guy in light armor is probably a bard. If he's carrying a musical instrument he's almost definitely a bard.

The guy with a holy symbol is a cleric or paladin.

The guy without armor is almost certainly a witch, wizard, or sorcerer.

Everyone else is some sort of martial class or rogue or magus.

Case 2: You're a hobgoblin being attacked by a group of people in Tian.

The ripped guy with no shirt is probably a monk.

The guy without armor is probably also a monk, but could conceivably be a wizard disguised as a monk.

The guy in a haramaki or silken ceremonial armor is a wizard, witch, or sorcerer.

The guy with a holy symbol is a cleric or paladin.

Everyone ise is some sort of martial class or rogue or magus.

Case 3: You're a hobgoblin attacking travelers in the inner sea region that include people both in and out of armor.

The guy in no armor is an arcanist or civilian. If he's a civilian everyone else is escorting him and he can't pay them if he's dead. He's also got hostage potential if you can down him with nonlethal damage.

For everyone else see case 1.

Case 4: You're a hobgoblin attacking travelers in Tian that include people both in and out of armor.

The guy in no armor is a civilian or monk.

The guy in a haramaki or silken ceremonial armor is an arcane caster.

And so forth...

Andoran

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Quote:


and clearly, that japanese woman in the kimono must be an arcane spell caster. she's wearing a robe and clearly appears unarmed.

did she just pull an exotic curved knife out of her sleeve and shank my kidney?

i could have sworn she was a wizard. how did she deal all those D6's of damage?

Good example.

I like people to bring pictures of their characters, and good mini-fig representations... off of that I set perception DCs for monsters.

I DO-NOT like the opposed disguise/bluff check. That may be good at a dinner party, but NOT before an ambush :)

The guy in the pointy hat, with staff, and mystic symbols on his robe will usually draw a lot of fire. That's one reason I used to dress up a tank just like that.

I also had a character that brought a mule with him. Mounted-tied to the mule was a dummy dressed as a wizard. He drew enemy fire many times - I think he was nick-named 'pin-cusion'

ALWAYS try to bring a picture of your character with you to your game/games :D
If you don't have one, ask someone at the table to draw you one (most gamers with some drawing ability will be happy to do so:)

Osirion

Sir Ophiuchus wrote:

If you're with a party of warriors, anyone with some experience could probably pick out the arcane spellcasters. They don't wear heavy armour, always keep at least one hand free, don't carry huge weapons, and many of them have spell component pouches about them.

This is in addition to the traditional "dress like a medieval scholar" pattern.

You have just described both my wizard and my magus. Now, are you going to rush to engage in melee?


Quote:
By the way that's a three feat expenditure for a psion to wear plate.

Not really. Anyone can wear and use any armor at any time, proficient or not. There are just more sever penalties involved when you are not proficient (the armor check penalty also applies on attack rolls, not just certain skill checks, when non-proficient in armor worn).


Artanthos wrote:
Sir Ophiuchus wrote:

If you're with a party of warriors, anyone with some experience could probably pick out the arcane spellcasters. They don't wear heavy armour, always keep at least one hand free, don't carry huge weapons, and many of them have spell component pouches about them.

This is in addition to the traditional "dress like a medieval scholar" pattern.

You have just described both my wizard and my magus. Now, are you going to rush to engage in melee?

If your magus doesn't wear any armor he's nearly as squishy as a wizard. Perhaps more so since he has to worry about more stats than just int and con. Squishy spike DPR with potential limited battlefield control is as high priority a target as an unknown full arcanist.

Osirion

Atarlost wrote:
If your magus doesn't wear any armor he's nearly as squishy as a wizard. Perhaps more so since he has to worry about more stats than just int and con. Squishy spike DPR with potential limited battlefield control is as high priority a target as an unknown full arcanist.

Never assume everybody builds the same way. You may find yourself fighting a an unarmored opponent with a very high AC.

I encourage people to attack my Magus. I know he can survive it.


If your magus does wear armor he doesn't look like a wizard. If he doesn't wear armor he's no hardier than a wizard with toughness.

Osirion

Atarlost wrote:
If he doesn't wear armor he's no hardier than a wizard with toughness.

Look up Kensai AC builds.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
Did nobody take into account that once the Wizard does cast a spell, the cover is blown?

I thought we were talking about NPCs magically knowing who the caster is before combat even begins.

Icyshadow wrote:
And the fact that if the adventurer's become well-known, it's pretty much assured that people will know they move around with a spellcaster of some sort in the group, unless said caster proceeds to kill all witnesses every time. Then again, then the people would mistake him for a serial killer instead.

'Mistake'?


Gaerath wrote:
Quote:


and clearly, that japanese woman in the kimono must be an arcane spell caster. she's wearing a robe and clearly appears unarmed.

did she just pull an exotic curved knife out of her sleeve and shank my kidney?

i could have sworn she was a wizard. how did she deal all those D6's of damage?

Good example.

I like people to bring pictures of their characters, and good mini-fig representations... off of that I set perception DCs for monsters.

I DO-NOT like the opposed disguise/bluff check. That may be good at a dinner party, but NOT before an ambush :)

The guy in the pointy hat, with staff, and mystic symbols on his robe will usually draw a lot of fire. That's one reason I used to dress up a tank just like that.

I also had a character that brought a mule with him. Mounted-tied to the mule was a dummy dressed as a wizard. He drew enemy fire many times - I think he was nick-named 'pin-cusion'

ALWAYS try to bring a picture of your character with you to your game/games :D
If you don't have one, ask someone at the table to draw you one (most gamers with some drawing ability will be happy to do so:)

that was actually one of my former PCs, a small framed Tian woman that wore a black printless silken ceremonial kimono with massive sleeves (Furisode Length). each of the sleeves contained a bunch of pockets on the inside and each one carried a dagger, plush she had maxed sleight of hand, and ninja levels. though she appeared to be a wizard to the untrained eye, and she frequently cast mirror image or greater invisibility with a Ki point. she was a ninja and passed herself off as an illusionist. having a custom Ki power for silent image as well. every dagger she pulled out of her sleeves was treated as a magic weapon with the agile property and a +5 enhancement bonus (the sleeves had to be enhanced seperately and conjured daggers in a similar fashion to abundant ammunition or a bracer of infite shurikens. the sleeves copied their enhancement to any conjured daggers. conjured as a free action like drawing an arrow to fire. the daggers could be used as melee or ranged for a single attack apiece. each sleeve was 8,000 GP plus the price of the weapon enhancements. we had a crafter and lots of monty haul worth of gold.)


I've played a few wizards, but never one with a long grey beard or a pointy hat or a robe. My wizards generally dress more like bards or hobbits. Waistcoat and tails, that sort of thing.

Didn't Potter wipe most of this cliche out? Sure, you got your black-robed Voldemorts and your grey Dumbledores, but the kids usually don't dress too wizardy. I guess maybe the stigma is still there.

Then there's Doctor Who. Basically a science fiction wizard. Wand and everything. He always dresses like some sort of college professor. Usually an eccentric one, and occasionally anachronistic. Not a bad approach when you're cultivating the look of your wizard.

Personally I always thought the beard and robes were a bit too... hobo?


Honestly? I doubt an NPC or PC could outright identify a creature or other NPC/PC unless they had previous knowledge or other such sorts, such as some famous reputation, or knowledge checks preceeding as such. Of course, they're not going to go out and say "That guy is a Wizard, he's squishy with his little measly D6 Hit Dice, kill him!" That's cut and dry meta-gaming.

Here's what would happen; Party group with 2 characters who can cast spells and 2 who are martial combatants. Let's say one of those 2 "casters" is a Wizard, and the other another who wears some basic sort of protection. They come across a group of Highwaymen (Bandits), and refuse to pay the toll.

If they see one of the casters casting a spell or something, chances are the Highwayman Leader is gonna say something like "Hold that one down, and remove his hands!" and not the previous extravagantly quoted statement. They're also not going to make specific identifications as to what kind of Magic or Caster it would be. They'll be using terminology like "Sorcery" or "Magician" or some other outlandish term.

Now, let's say said party came across something like a Dark Naga which can read thoughts, it could specifically identify that the target not wearing medium armor is a Wizard, and the other one is a Cleric, etc. due to its power; or let's say that said party comes across a rival group of mercenaries, who know down to the T who they are and their professional skills. They would know that the tiny Gnome is a Wizard due to that Fireball he smoked them with, and they would know that the moderately armored human is a Cleric, etc. due to their previous encounters.

Andoran

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
Honestly? I doubt an NPC or PC could outright identify a creature or other NPC/PC unless they had previous knowledge or other such sorts, such as some famous reputation, or knowledge checks preceeding as such.

Why don't you reply to all the text explaining exactly how they would identify them?

Quote:
Of course, they're not going to go out and say "That guy is a Wizard, he's squishy with his little measly D6 Hit Dice, kill him!" That's cut and dry meta-gaming.

Is it metagaming to know that a dagger is not a powerful weapon? Mages in Golarion are squishy. I don't see why combatants wouldn't know that.

Quote:
Here's what would happen; Party group with 2 characters who can cast spells and 2 who are martial combatants. Let's say one of those 2 "casters" is a Wizard, and the other another who wears some basic sort of protection. They come across a group of Highwaymen (Bandits), and refuse to pay the toll.

Which is one scenario. Far more often in games I see the party strolling right into the bad guy's home like they own the place, where the bad guys have reason to assume every person there is trouble. And if a character is not wearing armor, there's a reason for it.

Quote:
They're also not going to make specific identifications as to what kind of Magic or Caster it would be. They'll be using terminology like "Sorcery" or "Magician" or some other outlandish term.

It certainly depends on the world. If every small town has a cleric and bard and a wizard, then of course they're going to know the difference. And Int 5 is probably enough to know that the guy who goes for his instrument when combat is at hand is the bard. The guy with the holy symbol is probably the cleric, which leaves the wizard. (This is assuming that 90% of the characters with class levels have classes from the CRB.) In most D&D worlds, I would expect reasonable intelligent NPCs to know what a cleric is and that they cast a different type of spell then wizard.

Quote:
They would know that the tiny Gnome is a Wizard due to that Fireball he smoked them with

Why is this so hard? If you have a gnome that's meeting you in combat without a weapon in his hand (or even with dagger or staff), he either insane or he's going to be casting spells.

I don't get. If you don't disguise yourself, the standard four-person band is pretty easy to distinguish. Looking at the iconics in AP #41, we have a character with bracers of armor wielding a staff, a character with chainmail, heavy shield and holy symbol, a character with studded leather and rapier, and a character with breastplate, long sword and short sword. There may be multiple classes possible for some of them, but we know who the arcane caster is, who the divine caster is, and who's going to be smashing your face in with a sword.


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TriOmegaZero wrote:
Icyshadow wrote:
Did nobody take into account that once the Wizard does cast a spell, the cover is blown?

I thought we were talking about NPCs magically knowing who the caster is before combat even begins.

Icyshadow wrote:
And the fact that if the adventurer's become well-known, it's pretty much assured that people will know they move around with a spellcaster of some sort in the group, unless said caster proceeds to kill all witnesses every time. Then again, then the people would mistake him for a serial killer instead.
'Mistake'?

Sorry. The word I was looking for was "regard", but it slipped my mind when I wrote that.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Icyshadow wrote:
Sorry. The word I was looking for was "regard", but it slipped my mind when I wrote that.

No apologies needed, that was meant in good humor. :)


I apologized anyway, deal with it :U

And yeah, I find it funny how people keep assuming that they can hide the caster forever. Fact is, they can't.

Andoran

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Have they said that? I haven't been paying attention. I agree with the people saying it should take a reasonable moment for the enemy to zero in on the caster, especially if effort has been taken to hide him. But once the spells start flying, the target is lit.


@ Prosfilaes:

1. How are they going to identify a party without first meeting them and seeing what they can do? With a knowledge check? If they were famous or something; what about an Identify Spell or something? Requires a standard action, and if said part is hostile, chances are they won't have that liberty.

2. A dagger has utility. Do not mocketh the dagger. And chances are, I wouldn't try to kill a Wizard just because "He's squishy," because if he's worthless, killing him would do nothing. No, they kill him because he's casting spells that are turning them to mush, because he's a major threat with the spells.

3. Because their class disallows it, but guess what? There are characters and archetypes that can vary from this. You think they're going to say "Arcane Duelist" when they see a Bard in Medium Armor, when it can also be an Armor Proficiency feat? Like the NPCs know 100% what a character does or doesn't have in terms of stats? That's meta-gaming.

4. Yet there are classes and such which can cast both spells simultaneously, whether through domain spells or otherwise. You think an NPC is going to say "Wizard" to a Cleric who cast Flame Strike from the Fire Domain (or whatever)? No, because again, that's Meta-Gaming for an NPC to know exactly what kind of spell it was and where exactly it came from.

5. Or, he could very well be a Monk who's good in hand-to-hand. There's many possibilities that it can be, and until an action is taken (such as casting a spell, or performing a combat maneuver quite well against said NPC), they can't say for sure unless they have some sort of background knowledge or some other acceptable source of information.


My point was that there is no specific wizard attire (unless some region mandates a law that wizards must wear _____) and should not be known as a wizard until he casts or he is already known. Nobody else should be telling a player what his wizard is wearing (except in the case that they had a character or spell dress the wizard for some odd reason).

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
joeyfixit wrote:


Then there's Doctor Who. Basically a science fiction wizard. Wand and everything. He always dresses like some sort of college professor. Usually an eccentric one, and occasionally anachronistic. Not a bad approach when you're cultivating the look of your wizard.

Personally I always thought the beard and robes were a bit too... hobo?

BTW, the character's name is "The Doctor" or John Smith.. no Who. :) A character like The Doctor or the kinds of sdventures is practically impossible in a wargame like a D20 system. The actual DR. Who RPG operates on a much more cinematic storytelling basis.


Again, you're right. They can't know for sure. They can make assumptions, based on likelihood and stereotype and be right a good chunk of the time.

They'll be much more likely to be wrong if the character is deliberately built against stereotype.

If the GM's is doing it right every time regardless of any precautions the PCs take, he's metagaming. If he plays smart NPCs as ignorant of potential PC abilities all the time, he's also metagaming, just in the other direction.

Cheliax

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"Quick, attack that elf in the traveling leathers before he pulls out his bow and calls his animal companion!"

*suddenly find themselves in a magical pit covered in flaming spiders*

"Oh, he's a wizard..."

---

"Quick, attack that sissy in the monocle and top hat before he casts a spell."

*suddenly find themselves being torn in half by a 10-foot-tall monstrosity in a top hat and monocle.*

"Oh, he's an alchemist...or maybe a synthesist? I don't know, it's hard to tellggrrruughghghggh-"


Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
My point was that there is no specific wizard attire (unless some region mandates a law that wizards must wear _____) and should not be known as a wizard until he casts or he is already known. Nobody else should be telling a player what his wizard is wearing (except in the case that they had a character or spell dress the wizard for some odd reason).

No. Obviously not.

That doesn't mean there aren't stereotypes or patterns. That doesn't mean smart monsters can't make assumptions about what adventurers are likely to be able to do based on obviously visible traits.

Just like the players do all the time.

Sometimes they'll be wrong.

Cheliax

Goblin: "Um, there are two adventurers coming this way!"

Ogre: "What do they look like?"

Goblin: "One has no shirt and is screaming "AM SMASH", the other is wearing a robe and carrying a staff."

Ogre: "Alright, I'll go toe-to-toe with the barbarian, you sneak up and stab the wizard before he can cast. He's weak, he'll be easy to take out."

---

Barbarian: "Am taking off stupid sissy robe and am not talking quietly anymore. Am dropping stupid stick, too, need am smash with Greatsword."

Wizard: "Fine fine, yes, give me my robe back once they're dead. It's chilly without a shirt on and I feel like an imbecile screaming 'am smash' at the top of my lungs. What does that even mean, anyway? It makes no sense! But regardless, do you think they fell for it? Oh goody, here they come. Now, for a magical pit and some flaming spiders...yes, yes."


Lamontius wrote:


Goblin: "Um, there are two adventurers coming this way!"

Ogre: "What do they look like?"

Goblin: "One has no shirt and is screaming "AM SMASH", the other is wearing a robe and carrying a staff."

Ogre: "Alright, I'll go toe-to-toe with the barbarian, you sneak up and stab the wizard before he can cast. He's weak, he'll be easy to take out."

---

Barbarian: "Am taking off stupid sissy robe and am not talking quietly anymore. Am dropping stupid stick, too, need am smash with Greatsword."

Wizard: "Fine fine, yes, give me my robe back once they're dead. It's chilly without a shirt on and I feel like an imbecile screaming 'am smash' at the top of my lungs. What does that even mean, anyway? It makes no sense! But regardless, do you think they fell for it? Oh goody, here they come. Now, for a magical pit and some flaming spiders...yes, yes."

Well, it'd probably fool the goblin and ogre, since they're not really that bright, but smarter enemies might notice that the "barbarian" is a scrawny little guy and "wizard" has muscles coming out of his ears.

Cheliax

Wizard: "I feel...strangely confident!"

Barbarian: "Yeah! Am good to have puny wizard with am Strength of Bull and Large Person, wizard has good feeling yes? Barbarian am feel that way all the 100% of time!"

Wizard: "You're sure this will completely fool them, having Bull's Strength and Enlarge Person on myself?"

Barbarian: "Even if not, am thinking puny wizard am looking completely AWESOME just like AM BARBARIAN!"

Wizard: "...do I really need to keep my shirt off?"

Barbarian: "WIZARD AM PUTTING ON THESE SUNGLASSES AND CAPE RIGHT NOW!"

Wizard: "Wouldn't an illusionary spell or spells accomplish this much more efficiently?"

Barbarian: "SHUT UP AND WEAR AWESOMENESS!"

Osirion

1 person marked this as a favorite.

The wizard is taking advice from the Barbarian instead of just casting Alter Self?

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.
prosfilaes wrote:
Quote:

You see a beautiful half-dressed woman with exotic tattoos and jewelry. It's a sorceress! Lop her head off!

Congratulations, you just killed the tattooed courtesan from the local brothel.

I never really expected that anyone traveling would actually wear that type of stuff. Again, courtesans have a very limited area they move in. Even if sorceresses in your world actually do look like courtesans, where you meet them will almost invariably provide the clue about which you're meeting.

So you've never been on an "escort the courtesan and her personal eunuch guard to the neighboring country's lord" mission before? You're missing out. Escort missions can be fun. Especially when the bad guys who have never seen or heard of your group before meta-game to know that this beautiful half-dressed woman with exotic tattoos and jewelry is the non-casting courtesan, and the other beautiful half-dressed woman with exotic tattoos and jewelry is actually a caster that needs to be dealt with. And they know this on the surprise round before anyone has a chance to cast a spell. Remind me again, how were they able to tell the difference?


In general you can put me in the camp of "as obvious or not as the wizard/arcane caster wishes to be".

I've played a wizard to high levels (wizard/archmage/loremaster) who probably stood out as an arcane caster of some kind for as long as he played and that would be without the emblems and such he wore identifying him as a War Wizard of Cormyr.

On the flip side while not a 'pure' arcane caster I ran a cleric/sorcerer/mystic theurge who probably mostly looked like a rogue of some flavor (her deity was a deity of rogues and mischief) . You would quite literally never see her cast a spell ... Eschew, Silent, and Still feats along her with spell choices meant she could use nearly every spell she had as a sorcerer (and more than a few of her divine spells) without lifting a finger if that's she wanted.

Kayerloth

Cheliax

Wizard: "Seriously, this is ridiculous. Why don't I just cast Alter Self? I could keep my shirt, too."

Barbarian: "SHUT UP PUNY WIZARD! HOLD STILL, AM GETTING TATTOO NEEDLE READY!"

Wizard: "...is it a magical tattoo?"

Barbarian: "MAGICALLY AWESOME!"


Pathfinder Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Lamontius wrote:
*suddenly find themselves being torn in half by a 10-foot-tall monstrosity in a top hat and monocle.*

It's Mr. Peanut !


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Keep in mind though that if you're the only non-armored figure in a group of people in metal and leather, people are going to assume you're a spell caster of some kind.

And this is the nub of the problem: NPCs who view everything through a combat lens and have no concept of noncombatants or people who aren't part of an adventuring party.

You see a bunch of men wearing robes holding staves. They're wizards! Skewer them with arrows!

Congratulations, you've just killed a group of shepherds. Robes and staves are traditional for them too.

Free sheep!

Quote:


You see a beautiful half-dressed woman with exotic tattoos and jewelry. It's a sorceress! Lop her head off!

Congratulations, you just killed the tattooed courtesan from the local brothel.

Killing immoral prostitutes is a good thing?

Quote:


You see a gang of heavily armed men guarding an unarmored man wearing a robe. He's holding a book and a small silver stick of some sort. Another wizard! Kill him quick!

Congratulations, you've just murdered the royal tax collector. You have his book of accounts and a silver stylus. Also the taxes he's been collecting.

Free money!


@ Starbuck II:

Yeah, let's see what good those sheep will do when the town comes with torches and pitchforks to chase you out until you're either gone or dead.

And let's see how that feudal lord would appreciate you killing his servants, as you're sitting up on an execution deck waiting to be hanged or decapitated by a guillotine.

This would be bad anyway; if you were an assassin, those guards would've seen you and you'd be pinned and/or dead. Regardless, it's bad in general.

Shadow Lodge

If the PCs execute such poor discernment between combatants and non-combatants, they deserve to be thrown out of town.

Arthantos wrote:
Atarlost wrote:
If your magus doesn't wear any armor he's nearly as squishy as a wizard. Perhaps more so since he has to worry about more stats than just int and con. Squishy spike DPR with potential limited battlefield control is as high priority a target as an unknown full arcanist.

Never assume everybody builds the same way. You may find yourself fighting a an unarmored opponent with a very high AC.

I encourage people to attack my Magus. I know he can survive it.

And if you're playing a Kensai or other unusual unarmoured magus build, NPCs should mistake you for a wizard and try to engage you in melee, until they see how hard to hit you are. Unarmoured wizards and sorcerers are much more common than unarmoured melee combatants with high AC.

Same with the elaborate trick Lamontius set up. If you're taking the effort to confuse opponents, they should be confused (at least until someone starts openly casting). Same with bookrat's situation with the courtesan escort - if neither she nor the PCs are famous and the bad guys haven't used divination, they shouldn't be able to tell.

EDIT: I had a huge wall of text here, but let's see if I can boil it down.

thejeff wrote:
Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
My point was that there is no specific wizard attire (unless some region mandates a law that wizards must wear _____) and should not be known as a wizard until he casts or he is already known. Nobody else should be telling a player what his wizard is wearing (except in the case that they had a character or spell dress the wizard for some odd reason).

No. Obviously not.

That doesn't mean there aren't stereotypes or patterns. That doesn't mean smart monsters can't make assumptions about what adventurers are likely to be able to do based on obviously visible traits.
Just like the players do all the time.
Sometimes they'll be wrong.

Agreed. In a situation where most people are adventurers (such as in the middle of a dungeon), the unarmoured person is more likely to be a wizard/sorc/witch than anything else. It's not absolute, since there's a chance he's a monk or civilian being escorted, but smart opponents act based on that probable situation. Very smart opponents make allowances for error in that assessment, and are prepared to retreat if the unarmoured person suddenly unleashes a flurry of blows.

There's a significant though not absolute correlation between certain abilities and certain visible markers or equipment proficiencies. In a world where wizards/sorcs/witches are even remotely common, many opponents will be familiar with the fact that they usually do not use armour, and that their training leaves them weak to physical attacks and grapples. Even without specific class identification, the highwayman is still able to recognize a caster (by whatever term) and realize that physical restraint will likely remove the threat. Just like even low-level casters would usually know that the guy in plate is probably easier to hit with a ray than the guy in leather with the rapier.

Weird builds or archetypes can make things muddy, but they don't invalidate the correlation. If you do run into that unarmoured magus or medium-armoured bard, you adjust your assessment. If I saw someone using performance abilities or bard spells in medium armour, I'd think “it's a fighting bard,” which should be enough to get a general idea of that person's capabilities even if I don't know stats, or whether it's an archetype or proficiency feat.

Andoran

Darksol the Painbringer wrote:
1. How are they going to identify a party without first meeting them and seeing what they can do?

Huh? If you live 50 miles out of town, and someone kicks your door in, shotgun in hand, you can bet that he and his friends are trouble. If you're an orc and living in Golarion and the door-kicker is human, that goes at least triple. I don't know that they can identify the party, but they can identify them as adventurers.

Quote:
3. Because their class disallows it, but guess what? There are characters and archetypes that can vary from this.

What's your point? Yes, the NPCs can be wrong. That doesn't mean they're not going to take their best guess. In Golarion, if I understand it right, everything outside the core rulebook is rare.

Again, I gave you a description of an iconic Pathfinder party. Did anyone have to search up the AP to figure out who was what?

Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
Nobody else should be telling a player what his wizard is wearing (except in the case that they had a character or spell dress the wizard for some odd reason).

And I feel perfectly reasonable as a DM taking a character who I have no description of what they're wearing and assuming that they look like a wizard. If you want to be disguised, tell the DM. (And this goes double for the cleric; if you aren't wearing your holy symbol, I need to know that, and it may have consequences.)

bookrat wrote:
So you've never been on an "escort the courtesan and her personal eunuch guard to the neighboring country's lord" mission before? You're missing out. Escort missions can be fun. Especially when the bad guys who have never seen or heard of your group before meta-game to know that this beautiful half-dressed woman with exotic tattoos and jewelry is the non-casting courtesan, and the other beautiful half-dressed woman with exotic tattoos and jewelry is actually a caster that needs to be dealt with. And they know this on the surprise round before anyone has a chance to cast a spell. Remind me again, how were they able to tell the difference?

Any number of clues could give it away; courtesans often have regular patterns of clothing; they're more likely to be from the local area and be wearing local fashions; the caster is more likely to have really exotic tattoos, where as the courtesan is more likely to have locally popular "exotic" tattoos; the caster is more likely to have various identifiable magic and non-magic items (again, ioun stones scream combatant); a courtesan is more likely to be pale (as many pre-modern societies value that, as it screams I'm not a laborer) where as an adventurer is likely to spend a lot of time in the sun, especially if they do escort missions.

And I think you missed my point about nobody wearing that out there. Part of the point of a lot of "beautiful" clothes is that they signal that the wearer doesn't have to do manual labor. You're telling me an adventurer is wearing silk and dangly earrings on a regular basis? Someone who has to get out and water the horses, leading them to a bramble-encrusted river? Climbing up mountains? Wading through a sewer after a rat-lord? Even horseback riders tend to wear very functional clothes; it's not something people usually do in dresses. We usually don't worry much about clothes in D&D, but the concept that an adventurer is wearing the same thing as a half-dressed courtesan pushes my limits. (Of course, a reasonable courtesan would probably be wearing traveler's clothes on a long journey which is what the adventurer would be wearing, which would make it harder.)

When I look at pictures of D&D parties--the Pathfinder iconic parties in the APs, the D&D cartoon, the OOTS, etc.--I have no problem telling who the casters are. Until my players want to discuss how their character are dressed, or moreso that they're actively going to be disguising their characters, I'm going to take my lead from that.


See, in my worlds, and in my games, PCs are part of a vibrant cultural community which has norms, mores and fashion trends. Those things all come into play when PCs encounter NPCs.

Also in my worlds there really aren't hordes of roving groups of adventurers roaming around poking their noses into every goblin lair or wyvern nest. The PCs are actually somewhat unusual in that regard, and are viewed as somewhat unusual.

Wizard NPCs wear what suits them. As do wizard PCs. Many wizard NPCs deliberately disguise their abilities since they are frequently engaged in magical manipulation of local powerful NPCs and it wouldn't be healthy for them to blow their cover. About the only wizards that are openly wizardly are royal wizards who have a reason to advertise their role and function.

When the PC party rolls into town the townsfolk react to them according to their dress, mannerisms and behavior. A group of four dudes where one has big shiny armor and is bristling with weapons would usually be viewed as the entourage of a travelling mercenary or knight. The big shiny armor would gain most attention, the guy in robes would usually be considered to be a hireling or companion.

In a very large city there might be some extremely clever and experienced inhabitants who would think the dude in robes might be something to worry about.

Goblins and ogres typically have not encountered packs of adventurers before. Those that have are usually dead. The rest have usually mostly encountered victims. So goblins and ogres calmly deciding which of the incoming travelers is the "wizard" and which is the "barbarian" is so implausible that it's hardly worth discussing. Their most likely reaction would be "Look! More victims!"


Heh, or you could go with the "Until proven otherwise, treat everyone as a potential spellcaster. The armored dude? Wizard + Warrior. The Lithe Girl? Wizard. The Guy with Two Scimitars and a Cat? Wizard. The Barbarian looking dude with the great-axe? Wizard.

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