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How Obvious is a Wizard?


Pathfinder RPG General Discussion

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Sometimes, I cringe at the "dresses like the wizards" comment. Must all wizards wear a pointy hat saying "I'm a wizard"? I'd like to discuss how interrelated a class is with a certain appearance.

For example, I personally don't believe that a character in-game should be able to tell the difference between a fighter, a paladin, or a cavalier. All three could be well-armored warriors riding on a horse.

Now aesthetically, what separates wizards from commoners? Unless they are the eccentric type that's being different to showcase that they are different, it should be pretty impossible to tell, right? Maybe spell components if they show their spell components, or their actions and voice when they are casting a spell would give it away. I just don't see a young wizard in Golarion looking all that different. Even their iconic wizard just looks like an old man. Hell, he could easily be mistaken for some shepard.


In many settings wizards deliberately dress themselves in recognizable way - it allows them to draw upon the prestige of their profession. Most common folk, and even many common bandits will hesitate to cross the wizards because of their power and reputation.


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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.


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i once played a life oracle whom was young and naive to the point of being such an airhead. people didn't take her any more than an acolyte. she was your typical airheaded blonde. or so she acted. instead of dressing like a priest, she wore a white sweet lolita dress and had a sabre (treat as scimitar) at her hip and maxed out perform (Dance). she passed herself off as a wandering performer and though she did cast. her incantations were celestial poems and nursery ryhmes and her somatic components were her dances.

Edit; Lumiere Dawnbringer was also an Aasimaar

Shadow Lodge

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All my characters have their names and classes in green letters floating over their heads.


Sir Ophiuchus wrote:
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 could also be a rogue, or even just a passenger. There seems to be this uncanny ability of characters to tell the difference between a combatant and a civilian. Of course, situations (such as actually being in battle) can change that.

I guess it also depends on your play style. If your playing in a game oriented towards hack and slash (where role, alignment, and death are always made obvious to keep the game flowing).


Depends on the situation and the world really. Drejk mentioned one thing, if wizards are kind of higher class of people by respect or actual titles they would want to be regonized as such. But looking at the starting post I think I should go with the assumption that the wizard does not want to be regonized.

Well spell components and spellbooks need to be hidden those are dead give aways, although spellbook could be mistaken for some other tome but in my experience all the protective measures wizards tend to place on them is a hint. Spell components tells just that they are a caster not wizard per se.

If the situation is something like war where combat is expected the lack of armor is pretty big give away. Nobody in their right mind would not wear armor when in combat if they could without major drawbacks. Of coarse this issue could be solved with illusions assuming the opposition does not have access to magic that could pierce it.

Actually if wizards are relatively common I would expect wizards to use that tactic in war and go with other troops so when they can cast their spells within the group hiding so it would be hard to point who in the group is the spell caster and make it that much harder to pinpoint the spellcaster.

On the other hand if the wizard is simply in a town and if they are making an effort to hide their spellcasting abilities nobody could tell they were one from just looking at them. Of coarse if you look in to someone by gathering information and so on it's a different story if the wizard has been living in the town for ten years it would be fair to assume more than few know about their abilities unless they are taking extraordinary care to hide it.


when i brought Lumi, i tried to get Leadership ASAP so i could bring her sickly childhood friend, Umbriere Moonwhisper. whom was a 'bard' that passed herself off as an errant, sickly, countess, a traveling performer and a scholar. all of which were true because she loved reading (bibliophilia) was extremely extroverted (she performed with Lumi and was also quite the face) and her Uncle actually was a count and she was intended to inherit his title. she appeared unarmored and wore a gothic lolita dress. and unlike most fetchlings, closely resembled a Lifelike Variation of a Porcelain Doll of the Victorian age. her excuse for being outside the mansion was "My Uncle is a count, but i am his personal messenger."


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My wizard played down the wizardry when he was low-level, but now I'm trying to become known for it.

Advantages of being OVBIOUS:
* not so many people try to mess with you
* people may not want to try out just how powerful you really are, and overestimate your abilities (low-level, Bluff). Because wizardry has answers to almost any problem, people may fear you have an answer prepared to whatever they have.
* people may decide that you're to right person to warn if occult accidents start happening. You'll be front-row for any five-headed goats too.
* potential apprentices seek you out instead of you having to look for them.

Disadvantages:
* all the above, potentially
* people trying to show off how badass they are by picking a fight with you (fastest shot in the West syndrome)
* people expect you to magic away their problems
* harder to surprise people

All in all, the wise wizard has both obvious and inconspicuous clothes at hand.


When playing certain games, I have been known to dress like a wizard with my fighters by purchasing a spellbook and spell components pouch, wearing a Haramaki or similar under clothing. This works great with Monks.

No, not everybody does the hat thing. In fact, many players choose to wear traveling clothes or similar as their primary garb, making them relatively indistinguishable from any other traveler, right up until the spell components pouch and/or spellbook are seen.


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Ragnarok Aeon wrote:

Sometimes, I cringe at the "dresses like the wizards" comment. Must all wizards wear a pointy hat saying "I'm a wizard"? I'd like to discuss how interrelated a class is with a certain appearance.

It can be hard for some GMs to separate in-game knowledge and out of game knowledge.

Yet they should strive to do so even beyond what they ask of their players in this regard.

Personally, when DMing I make a point of asking each player to describe their character. If this is an organized play setting (and thus many might not know one another either player to player or character to character) this takes part in character introduction.

When I listen to the description I make 'educated' guesses on how each of the later NPCs would view seeing such a person.

Some of the most memorable moments are when NPCs make reasonable mistakes and the players can have their characters surprise the bad guys (even though as the DM I know full well what the characters can and can't do). It also builds a great deal of trust quickly between DM and player which is essential in OP settings.

For example:

You see an elf that's lightly armored with a bow and (a god-awful number of) arrows, with a bunch of animals in tow that aren't really too threatening, that's wearing a holy symbol that you don't recognize but can assume is some tree hugging hippy crap.

You think: Ranger.

You observe them a bit. In combat they fire their bow, and their little critters huddle around the archer.

You now 'know': Ranger.

That the PC in question is a full cleric is immaterial. You had a first impression and the initial actions supported that position.

Another example:

You see a human in no armor, with no visible weapons, wearing a spell component pouch, a few potions on the belt, and a few wands to be seen.

Your first guess: Wizard.

You notice that the character is near the middle of the party, beside someone else similarly attired.

Your second impression: A pair of wizards.

In the first round of combat, the 'wizard' moves forward and forward and forward to trip a mook of yours.

You now 'know': Monk.

But until they acted, your only clue would be trying to ascertain physical prowess (STR) and make judgement/ prejudice calls there.

----

It's a good habit to do, and then allow your players to do likewise by describing the enemy in like terms. See what conclusions they jump to, and use that in future encounters 'as typical guesses' that experienced characters would make.

Do this enough, and spells like seeming and veil will be worth their salt, glamoured armor and hats of disguise will be viable and desirable... all as they should be.

-James


i remember also having a wizard that bonded his soul to a suit of full plate Alphonse Elric Style. he had the hit points and hardness of a suit of large magic adamantine plate instead of that of a wizard. but he was immune to fatigue, and could work double time crafting. he used the physical stats of the armor and had crazy high mental stats. people assumed he was a warrior or cleric until he started casting. he would buff up, cast tenser's transformation, and pummel stuff. he was really a fighter/transmuter/eldritch knight who banned enchantment and necromancy.


Couple thoughts...

First, I've had more than a few wizards I've played who wear armor. Armor doesn't negate your spells, it gives you a spell failure chance. Plus there are now feats that allow wizards to wear armor.

Second, I've had plenty of non-wizards who dress as wizards specifically to pretend to be wizards. My witch, for example, routinely masquerades as a wizard, a cleric or even once, a bard.

As a GM I play my NPC wizards as choosing to dress based on their backstories and personal tastes. Some of my NPC wizards dress as obvious wizards (especially my "Royal Wizards" who tend to want to be instantly recognized). Other wizards might deliberately disguise themselves. Others just don't care.


Adamantine Dragon wrote:

Couple thoughts...

First, I've had more than a few wizards I've played who wear armor. Armor doesn't negate your spells, it gives you a spell failure chance. Plus there are now feats that allow wizards to wear armor.

Second, I've had plenty of non-wizards who dress as wizards specifically to pretend to be wizards. My witch, for example, routinely masquerades as a wizard, a cleric or even once, a bard.

As a GM I play my NPC wizards as choosing to dress based on their backstories and personal tastes. Some of my NPC wizards dress as obvious wizards (especially my "Royal Wizards" who tend to want to be instantly recognized). Other wizards might deliberately disguise themselves. Others just don't care.

the eldritch knight who bound his soul to a suit of large magic adamantine full plate didn't have to worry about spell failure because the suit of Armor WAS his body. it's like giving a golem spell failure just because he was a construct.


A scholarly type is going to be pretty obvious in a world like this.

Whether our guy is a scribe or clerk or something as opposed to a wizard would be hard to determine just from looks to someone who knew nothing about you. But I imagine everyone could tell you weren't a tanner or blacksmith, or screaming Barbarian from the North.

There is also no rule against wizards wearing whatever clothing they wish, why would a pants wearing culture have some members wear robes? I guess it could be a tradition like with the church or something. Maybe wizards have their own expectations of style?

I'd expect a hedge wizard to dress however people around his hedge dressed. Same as the city wizard, he dresses like people in his city, maybe with class issues in there.


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Everybody knows all wizards wear monocles.


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"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.


Well for the couple levels my dwarf earth elementalist dressed in work clothes. He kept his book in his bag and his weapon of choice is the heavy pick. My familiar is a goat and i had her carry 2 small kegs of ale tied to her sides as well as some mundane gear like rope.

To any casual observer he looked like a typical dwarven miner or craftsman traveling with a group. I didnt think a respectable dwarf would be caught dead wearing a dress, leave that to the elves. And for the spell.component pouch, isnt it basically just a leather belt pouch not a bag that has "Spell Componets" stitched on the side?

Shadow Lodge

A wizard can choose to be very obvious, they can go to some small amount of trouble to be non-obvious (wearing standard travellers' clothes, hiding wizard props, possibly carrying a decoy prop such as a musical instrument), or they can go to more trouble to be very not-obvious (arcane armour training, illusions, wielding a martial weapon).

An observer's ability to spot a wizard should depend on whether the wizard has a (stereo)typical or atypical appearance, whether the wizard is actively casting, and whether the observer is intelligent.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Shuriken Nekogami wrote:

i once played a life oracle whom was young and naive to the point of being such an airhead. people didn't take her any more than an acolyte. she was your typical airheaded blonde. or so she acted. instead of dressing like a priest, she wore a white sweet lolita dress and had a sabre (treat as scimitar) at her hip and maxed out perform (Dance). she passed herself off as a wandering performer and though she did cast. her incantations were celestial poems and nursery ryhmes and her somatic components were her dances.

Edit; Lumiere Dawnbringer was also an Aasimaar

I'm playing a human Sorcerer (air elemental bloodline) in a Carrion Crown campaign that is something of an "airhead", inasmuch as she has no Spellcraft or knowledge of magic in general. My idea is that she's just kind of a beach bum who has fallen into a life of adventure. She's quite capable, but magic to her is just something she does. She's like "what, you're telling me that you *don't* shoot lightning out of your hands? Huh. Sucks to be you."


As a DM I like to make intelligence checks in the first round of battle. This is often a non-issue as many creatures in the monster manual are as dumb as a bag of rocks, but the smarter ones they get to use strategy.

If the creatures make the check they have a pretty decent idea who is what. The guy with all the daggers who is constantly hiding and then stabbing people in the back... That's the rogue. The guy with the wands who just turned Howard into a duck that's the wizard.

I once rolled a 20 on my int check and had half of the enemy hold their fire until they saw the wizard cast. Then they filled him with arrows... Of course he then spent a move action waving his arms and spouting mumbo-jumbo in order to draw their fire so he could use his standard to cast in peace.


spectrevk wrote:
Shuriken Nekogami wrote:

i once played a life oracle whom was young and naive to the point of being such an airhead. people didn't take her any more than an acolyte. she was your typical airheaded blonde. or so she acted. instead of dressing like a priest, she wore a white sweet lolita dress and had a sabre (treat as scimitar) at her hip and maxed out perform (Dance). she passed herself off as a wandering performer and though she did cast. her incantations were celestial poems and nursery ryhmes and her somatic components were her dances.

Edit; Lumiere Dawnbringer was also an Aasimaar

I'm playing a human Sorcerer (air elemental bloodline) in a Carrion Crown campaign that is something of an "airhead", inasmuch as she has no Spellcraft or knowledge of magic in general. My idea is that she's just kind of a beach bum who has fallen into a life of adventure. She's quite capable, but magic to her is just something she does. She's like "what, you're telling me that you *don't* shoot lightning out of your hands? Huh. Sucks to be you."

Lumi had no ranks in spellcraft or any of the knowledge skills either. she was more like a sheltered child who just stepped out for the first time than a beach bum.


Some wizards might not be obvious at all.

One of my favorite characters was an orc wizard (not half-orc, full orc), in a lower level game. Bare chested, heavily muscled, and fought with a greataxe. Due to great rolls (Both in character creation and in play), he was a better front line fighter then the paladin in the group. Came as a surprise to the other members of the group when he started firing off spells in one encounter. Up till that point, there was nothing to distinguish him from any other fighter-type. (Can't remember his exact level, but only wizard levels; Str 22, Dex 16, Int 15. Not your typical wizard by a long shot.)

(I always played wizards. It was suggested that I played something different this time, so I compromised.)

Grand Lodge

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

My wizard played down the wizardry when he was low-level, but now I'm trying to become known for it.

Advantages of being OVBIOUS:
* not so many people try to mess with you
* people may not want to try out just how powerful you really are, and overestimate your abilities (low-level, Bluff). Because wizardry has answers to almost any problem, people may fear you have an answer prepared to whatever they have.
* people may decide that you're to right person to warn if occult accidents start happening. You'll be front-row for any five-headed goats too.
* potential apprentices seek you out instead of you having to look for them.

Disadvantages:
* all the above, potentially
* people trying to show off how badass they are by picking a fight with you (fastest shot in the West syndrome)
* people expect you to magic away their problems
* harder to surprise people

All in all, the wise wizard has both obvious and inconspicuous clothes at hand.

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.


Mage Evolving wrote:
Of course he then spent a move action waving his arms and spouting mumbo-jumbo in order to draw their fire so he could use his standard to cast in peace.

That is glorious, and the reason why some monsters have Spellcraft.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
spectrevk wrote:
Shuriken Nekogami wrote:

i once played a life oracle whom was young and naive to the point of being such an airhead. people didn't take her any more than an acolyte. she was your typical airheaded blonde. or so she acted. instead of dressing like a priest, she wore a white sweet lolita dress and had a sabre (treat as scimitar) at her hip and maxed out perform (Dance). she passed herself off as a wandering performer and though she did cast. her incantations were celestial poems and nursery ryhmes and her somatic components were her dances.

Edit; Lumiere Dawnbringer was also an Aasimaar

I'm playing a human Sorcerer (air elemental bloodline) in a Carrion Crown campaign that is something of an "airhead", inasmuch as she has no Spellcraft or knowledge of magic in general. My idea is that she's just kind of a beach bum who has fallen into a life of adventure. She's quite capable, but magic to her is just something she does. She's like "what, you're telling me that you *don't* shoot lightning out of your hands? Huh. Sucks to be you."
Lumi had no ranks in spellcraft or any of the knowledge skills either. she was more like a sheltered child who just stepped out for the first time than a beach bum.

Sonoko worships Son Wukong, and loves to carouse. I took the background trait where you rescued the professor once, so she met him by rescuing him from drowning off the coast of Tian Xia. I almost thought about putting some ranks in Spellcraft at the suggestion of other players, but I decided that her ignorance of magic is a character trait. She neither knows nor cares *why* or *how* she shoots lightning out of her hands.

Plus, the idea of this petite, hard-partying Tien woman wandering around Ustalav with a hulking Mwangi barbarian, a stern-looking Ranger, and a Monk in rich-looking robes makes me chuckle. We're like the Scooby gang from hell.

Star Voter 2013, Star Voter 2014

Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
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.

Pretty much this. Not to mention if they're a wizard, one of those pouches is could be a book pouch.

It all depends a lot on context though as others have noted. Certainly if you want your wizard to look like an ordinary commoner that would be easy to do... maybe less easy standing between the guy in plate armor and the guy in the breastplate holding aloft a holy symbol, but still.

Contributor

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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.

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.

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.

Star Voter 2013

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Ragnarok Aeon wrote:
Sometimes, I cringe at the "dresses like the wizards" comment. Must all wizards wear a pointy hat saying "I'm a wizard"?

No, the hat says "wizzard."

Liberty's Edge Star Voter 2013

How perceptive are you.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:
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.

So win/win, right? :D

Seriously, yes, point taken. However, characters (PC or NPC) who *are* primary combatants should have a reasonable chance of guessing who the spellcasters are in a combat / potential combat situation.

Even if it does occasionally get the travelling scholar the PCs were escorting killed in the first round of combat.

Shadow Lodge

Kevin Andrew Murphy, some of that does depend on context. If you're an orc or lizardfolk or what have you and a bunch of armoured men with a guy in robes comes up to your front gate in the middle of the wilderness, it's more likely that the guy in robes is a wizard than if they same group is standing on the streets of a major city. Another relevant question - are the guys in armour wearing uniform gear or livery? Royal guards probably are, adventuring groups probably aren't. If you're in a combat or near-combat situation and you're facing a group of what looks like adventurers, you can make some good guesses (though not always accurate) about who is most likely to be a caster.

If the players attack anything wearing robes or mystical tattoos because it might be a caster, or the DM's monsters/NPCs always attack the party wizard before he so much as casts a spell, your group might have a problem they need to talk about. But that doesn't mean that the unarmoured guy walking around in a dungeon isn't more likely to be a wizard than a fighter or an innocent bystander.


Make the fighter wear robes over his armor?

Mage Evolving wrote:
As a DM I like to make intelligence checks in the first round of battle. This is often a non-issue as many creatures in the monster manual are as dumb as a bag of rocks, but the smarter ones they get to use strategy.

This is "tactics", not "strategy".

Contributor

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The trouble is, the context isn't examined. So you're a lizard man living in the middle of the jungle. The only thing you wear is war paint and maybe a loincloth made of monkey fur.

So suddenly you see a human wizard. We're talking the whole stereotypical deal: long robe, pointy hat with moons and stars on it, long white beard, fancy staff with a knob at the end.

How, other than metagame knowledge, do you know this is a wizard? Do you get a lot of pseudo-medieval European wizards through here as tourists or is this the first one you've ever seen? Is this the first human you've ever seen? Is this the first time you've ever seen cloth?

Same thing with the orcs. Same thing with everything.

If you're looking for lack of armor as your defining trait of someone being a caster, why aren't you attacking the party's half-naked barbarian? You can actually tell the difference between someone smearing themselves with woad as warpaint, someone inscribing their skin with mystic runes, and someone wearing henna designs because they're fashionable and pretty in her part of the world?

Surely the woman in the 18th century corset, heavy make-up, and Marie Antionette wig is a powerful warrior queen! That corsetry must be some form of banded armor, the face powder and rouge are undoubtedly warpaint, and the outlandish hair-do must be designed to terrify her enemies! What else could it be?


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The trouble is, the context isn't examined. So you're a lizard man living in the middle of the jungle. The only thing you wear is war paint and maybe a loincloth made of monkey fur.

So suddenly you see a human wizard. We're talking the whole stereotypical deal: long robe, pointy hat with moons and stars on it, long white beard, fancy staff with a knob at the end.

How, other than metagame knowledge, do you know this is a wizard? Do you get a lot of pseudo-medieval European wizards through here as tourists or is this the first one you've ever seen? Is this the first human you've ever seen? Is this the first time you've ever seen cloth?

Same thing with the orcs. Same thing with everything.

If you're looking for lack of armor as your defining trait of someone being a caster, why aren't you attacking the party's half-naked barbarian? You can actually tell the difference between someone smearing themselves with woad as warpaint, someone inscribing their skin with mystic runes, and someone wearing henna designs because they're fashionable and pretty in her part of the world?

Surely the woman in the 18th century corset, heavy make-up, and Marie Antionette wig is a powerful warrior queen! That corsetry must be some form of banded armor, the face powder and rouge are undoubtedly warpaint, and the outlandish hair-do must be designed to terrify her enemies! What else could it be?

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?


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.

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.

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.

Seeing as many people play non-evils characters, I would have to ask why the shepards and courtesan attacked the party in the first place. The tax collector, we all probably knew who he was and it's justified. :)

Shepards, courtesans, and tax collectors don't usually go around fighting everyone. If they do, they're Shepard thugs or some other group of miscreants.
The way you describe it the groups you are in, or run, go around killing every wizard. If so, let it be a wizard. Congrats, you killed the towns magic item crafter. Your alignment is evil and you now an NPC.


Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

The trouble is, the context isn't examined. So you're a lizard man living in the middle of the jungle. The only thing you wear is war paint and maybe a loincloth made of monkey fur.

So suddenly you see a human wizard. We're talking the whole stereotypical deal: long robe, pointy hat with moons and stars on it, long white beard, fancy staff with a knob at the end.

How, other than metagame knowledge, do you know this is a wizard? Do you get a lot of pseudo-medieval European wizards through here as tourists or is this the first one you've ever seen? Is this the first human you've ever seen? Is this the first time you've ever seen cloth?

Same thing with the orcs. Same thing with everything.

If you're looking for lack of armor as your defining trait of someone being a caster, why aren't you attacking the party's half-naked barbarian? You can actually tell the difference between someone smearing themselves with woad as warpaint, someone inscribing their skin with mystic runes, and someone wearing henna designs because they're fashionable and pretty in her part of the world?

Surely the woman in the 18th century corset, heavy make-up, and Marie Antionette wig is a powerful warrior queen! That corsetry must be some form of banded armor, the face powder and rouge are undoubtedly warpaint, and the outlandish hair-do must be designed to terrify her enemies! What else could it be?

1. The lizard would probably think it was easy prey. It's unlikely, but not impossible that he thinks it's an adept since the adept longs to be a wizard and dresses the part like a security guard who wants to be a cop.

2. Orcs and many other things raid towns or have some other means of having had contact with or heard stories about, Wizards. Every thing else... It's a stretch, so I'll reply in kind with rocks and trees have no idea that's a wizard unless a Druid cast awaken on them.
3. Lacking armor in a group where everyone (or most everyone) is lacking armor is not a tell. Lacking armor while ridding in a carriage or on a horse and everyone else is in armor on foot, I think your a noble, lacking armor in a small group that looks prepared for combat and your all walking? And your carrying a staff or a bunch of rods or wands? Yeah, that's a wizard, or sorc, or possibly a monk. Maybe a rogue, but I don't think rogues actually exist.

4. Yeah, this one is just ridiculous.


The problem isn't target identification. That's an entirely separate issue. Caster identification is about target prioritization.

If you're in Tian monks are a complication, but pretty much everywhere else anyone not wearing at least leather armor is probably a spellcaster or crazy naked barbarian. Spellcasters almost always wear clothes while crazy naked barbarians usually don't.

Well, or a civilian, but when beating up civilians target prioritization doesn't really matter.

Liberty's Edge

Kevin Andrew Murphy wrote:

How, other than metagame knowledge, do you know this is a wizard?

...

Same thing with the orcs. Same thing with everything.

Not at all. A orc has probably spent his life fighting humans, or at least been told stories of fighting humans. He probably even recognizes wizard guild symbols if there's wizard guilds in the area whose wizard guild symbols could be useful to recognize.

Quote:
If you're looking for lack of armor as your defining trait of someone being a caster, why aren't you attacking the party's half-naked barbarian?

Because he's half-naked? Because he's holding a sword? Because he looks like Ahnold? ST 10 might not be weak, but you can tell the difference between an outdoorsman and a boxer, between fit and training to smash people's face in with their bare fists.

Quote:
You can actually tell the difference between someone smearing themselves with woad as warpaint, someone inscribing their skin with mystic runes, and someone wearing henna designs because they're fashionable and pretty in her part of the world?

Not only can the orcs tell the difference, they can tell what the warpaint means, they might be able to tell what city considers those type of henna designs fashionable and they might have a guy with enough points in Spellcraft to tell what type of spells those mystic runes are going to call up. They're not that stupid.

Context matters, but if the player is holding fairly standard weapons and armor for their class and hasn't said anything about what they're wearing, and their opponents aren't unfamiliar with the people of this area, I don't see any reason that their opponents can't surmise who the casters are.

Shadow Lodge

If your opponents are very stupid or from a culture that is not only unlike yours but has little contact with yours, they could easily have problems identifying a wizard, even a stereotypical one. That is indeed part of the context.

However, raiding bands of orcs often do have contact with the PCs' culture, and have probably seen or heard of enough low-level wizards to recognize what the enemy's 'shamans' often wear. And brigands or criminals from the PCs' own culture should be quite familiar with the stereotypes as well as the stronger clues such as armour wearing.


Shuriken Nekogami wrote:
the eldritch knight who bound his soul to a suit of large magic adamantine full plate didn't have to worry about spell failure because the suit of Armor WAS his body. it's like giving a golem spell failure just because he was a construct.

Warforged wizards with the armoured body feats do get spell fail fyi. Those Plate fingers just dont have the flexibility I suppose.


Shuriken Nekogami wrote:

i once played a life oracle whom was young and naive to the point of being such an airhead. people didn't take her any more than an acolyte. she was your typical airheaded blonde. or so she acted. instead of dressing like a priest, she wore a white sweet lolita dress and had a sabre (treat as scimitar) at her hip and maxed out perform (Dance). she passed herself off as a wandering performer and though she did cast. her incantations were celestial poems and nursery ryhmes and her somatic components were her dances.

Edit; Lumiere Dawnbringer was also an Aasimaar

She reminds me of my first character ever, a Half-Elf Cleric of Pelor named Emilia =D

Also, even if a Wizard tries to act like a commoner, if he stays in one area for an extended period of time, people WILL know that he can use magic unless he always kills any and all witnesses. Hanging around with adventurers who build up a reputation will also unveil the identity of the caster, even if he manages to hide it otherwise.


deuxhero wrote:

Make the fighter wear robes over his armor?

Mage Evolving wrote:
As a DM I like to make intelligence checks in the first round of battle. This is often a non-issue as many creatures in the monster manual are as dumb as a bag of rocks, but the smarter ones they get to use strategy.
This is "tactics", not "strategy".

No it's strategery!


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
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.

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.

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! This a thousand times this!

More often than not, people making assumptions like Mr. Murphy are simply metagaming.

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Roleplaying Game, Tales Subscriber
Ravingdork wrote:
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.

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.

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! This a thousand times this!

More often than not, people making assumptions like Mr. Murphy are simply metagaming.

Congratulations are due... for another set of straw arguments. I will say again. Your group gets fireballed. You're facing four figures, two of which are in metal armor, the third is wearing leather, and the fourth is wearing no discernible armor at all. What conclusion can anyone who did not just ship out of adventuring school make?


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wizard in our group is the ships cook, wears chefs whites when cooking and normal adventure gear when not. Does not carry a staff, does not have white hair or a beard and no pointy hat. His weapon of chioce is a heavy crossbow and a masterwork meat cleaver (same stats as a hand axe)he is also has a pistol if needed and doubles as the master at arms (his feat tree is a range specailist)

So apart from the fact he has no armour and may need to refer to his spell book every now and then no he's not obvoius at all and not a cliche wizard. Yes it can be done...

Contributor

LazarX wrote:
Ravingdork wrote:
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.

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.

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! This a thousand times this!

More often than not, people making assumptions like Mr. Murphy are simply metagaming.

Congratulations are due... for another set of straw arguments. I will say again. Your group gets fireballed. You're facing four figures, two of which are in metal armor, the third is wearing leather, and the fourth is wearing no discernible armor at all. What conclusion can anyone who did not just ship out of adventuring school make?

You mean they have schools for adventurers now? And NPCs can go to them?

Honestly, if you get hit with a fireball, you generally know where it came from. Yes, the guy with no armor may have pointed his finger at you and a bead streaked out and exploded, in which case you can make a good guess that he's a caster. But the guy in medium armor may have pointed a stick at you with the same effect, and one of the guys in heavy armor might have pulled something off of a necklace and thrown it, or he may have had one of the gems on his extraordinarily blinged-out helmet go off like an anachronistic flashbulb and shot the fireball.

Trouble is, do you actually have knowledge of what these are from past experience or succeeding in a Knowledge Arcana check--which you should learn as part of your hypothetical adventurer's school curriculum--or are you just relying on metagame knowledge from the GM?

But most of the times the trouble is that NPCs are attacking "the caster" in the surprise round before they have any way of knowing who might be capable of casting spells.


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?


Sure, you could be wrong, but it's a pretty good guess. Especially when the baddies aren't bandits ambushing random travellers, but intelligent monsters defending their lair.

Sure, maybe the tough adventurers have brought some random merchant into the dungeon with them, but it's not likely.

Now, if your particular caster has taken pains to appear as something else, then the GM should take that into account.


Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Roleplaying Game Subscriber
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. ;)

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