How do you test for wizardry aptitude?


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Not really a question just for 2E, but how do you think the altitude for magic is discovered in fledglings? I know that sorcery is "in the blood", but how about a person who can be a wizard? A Cleric? Bard or druid? I had an idea for a character who spent much of his down time teaching others the basics of magic to spread the glory of Nethys, but how do you figure he can find the ones with potential?

Liberty's Edge

Basically they are the ones interested enough to choose that path early in life (Class) or interested and gifted enough to pursue it later in life in addition to their main career (archetype).


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Technically, anyone can learn to be a wizard if they start early, so it's a matter of how good a wizard. The skills needed to become a competent wizard are likely: an agile mind, literacy, a grasp for complex formulae perhaps bordering on advanced mathematics, and an rigorous empirical approach to learning. After that it's a matter of availability of teaching and resources, both resources for learning and to maintain a livelihood for the duration of study.

Gaining a minor in wizardry at the same time as continuing your current path, on the other hand takes a very agile mind. Everything else is the same.

If I were to speculate as far as 2e goes, every caster is automatically trained in the magic theory skill for their tradition--even sorcerers--so it seems reasonable to me that learning any tradition of magic requires learning the corresponding magic skill in the process. Even if one has a sorcerer's aptitude, it seems like at least some amount of learning is necessary, even if some of it is perhaps trial and error, and learning by instinctive grasp more than rigorous study.


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Mechanically that's true, but is it true in a world/setting sense? Any PC can learn wizardry, given the teaching, but is that true of everyone in the world at large? Or is there some innate ability needed, as there is in much of fantasy?

I don't think there's anything in the mechanics or world lore that tells us. As such, there's no mechanical way to determine potential. Try to teach them the basics and see if they catch on, I guess.

Liberty's Edge

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Anyone who studies a tradition enough can cast 1st level spells from scrolls (expert in the relevant skill + assurance), even if they lack the talent (= stat).

And anyone who can afford it can cast Cantrips from the Deck of cantrips, no matter their lack of talent and/or knowledge. And we have Nethys to thank for this.


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I don't believe there's any sort of innate magical potential that is required for learning magic on Golarion. Every infant is born with the potential to become a 20th level Wizard, it's just that very few of them actually do.


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The Raven Black wrote:

Anyone who studies a tradition enough can cast 1st level spells from scrolls (expert in the relevant skill + assurance), even if they lack the talent (= stat).

And anyone who can afford it can cast Cantrips from the Deck of cantrips, no matter their lack of talent and/or knowledge. And we have Nethys to thank for this.

You also need Trick Magic Item, I believe.

Also going to echo what the others are saying. I imagine most anyone can become a wizard with enough training and practice. That was always the dividing line between wizards and sorcerers, that sorcerers were born while wizards were made, so it would be odd to walk back and say "oh but you need to be born a wizard too, actually."
That's always been one of the things I liked most about wizards. Someone doesn't need to be The Special in order to become one, it just takes a lot of time and dedication.

Liberty's Edge

One thing you cannot be though is a 20th level Wizard and Cleric (for example). Once you've chosen your path of power, it will never change.

Liberty's Edge

Perpdepog wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:

Anyone who studies a tradition enough can cast 1st level spells from scrolls (expert in the relevant skill + assurance), even if they lack the talent (= stat).

And anyone who can afford it can cast Cantrips from the Deck of cantrips, no matter their lack of talent and/or knowledge. And we have Nethys to thank for this.

You also need Trick Magic Item, I believe.

Quite right. It is needed for casting from the scrolls. Sorry for forgetting this one.


It is implied that some people have a stronger inheritance for magic than others, but as far as I know, the only thing required to cast spells is an access (ie your class' method of learning) and sufficient opportunity. In fact, I'm reasonably certain I recall something about Old Mage Jatembe bringing wizardry back to the world paralleling themes if an arcane tradition anyone could earn with enough education, not dependent on other entities or talents.


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Metatextually in something like a tabletop roleplaying game, you kind of have to avoid the "you are one of the chosen few special ones" trope because PCs can be all sorts of different kinds of characters and they shouldn't be treated as more "special" because they chose to be a Wizard instead of a Rogue (or a Jedi Knight instead of a Smuggler) since that has side effects of pressuring players to make (or avoid) certain choices.

The only places you really see it are ones where you're adapting something that already has a "only a select few are wizards" thing in the diagesis.


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I think looking at PC mechanics is an error. Even in PF1 (or 3.X for that matter), Paizo was saying that advancement in PC classes was unusual (hence the NPC classes, including a spellcaster Adept). This is despite the prevalence of enemies & friends w/ PC levels! They're magnets for showdowns.

PC Sorcerers learn their tradition, yet that's part of the narrative package, much like being Professor on Gilligan's Island or Crafting Gal in PF2 gives you access to all STEM or Crafts. The narrative is also why world-changing PCs from the previous APs inevitably fade into the background. The story's now about this new batch, and they'll commonly run into many Uncommon creatures, etc. And not just anybody can join this batch of heroes! These are the kinds of people (robots, etc.) that can earn Hero Points, attract an inordinate amount of wealth, and don't immediately die when knocked out.

Now in some settings, even in some areas of Golarion, you do expect every intelligent person to have picked up some wizardry, especially top-tier merchants or government officials. But in "normal" Golarion, I don't think just any wealthy & intelligent person can learn wizardry thus the large numbers of barristers and other high-Int professional NPCs w/ none, even when it'd be extremely useful to dabble.

Of course PF2 has also flipped the script so that an NPC could very well qualify as both a 20th level Wizard and Cleric! (And likely have a martial's hit points to boot!)

I do find it funny that in PF2 it's harder to dabble than to directly pursue. Old school DnD did have stat minimums, even spell level caps if you didn't have max human Int (there being no natural stat advancement). But yeah, if we did focus on the mechanics, it seems that pursuing a PC class (or innately having access to it) improves a Key Ability, but that ability can be so mediocre it's hard to say one "needs" it (unless throwing spells under adverse conditions!) so much as one expects it.
I could see some generic casters doing quite well for themselves by only facing much lower enemies; which might be why NPCs accumulate so much less wealth. :-)


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You often hear people talk about how "it's not rocket science" or "it's not brain surgery" as a way of saying "you don't need to be a genius to do well at it." On Golarion, the equivalent phrase is something like "it's not wizardry." Otherwise it's not particularly special. It's hard and takes a lot of effort to become a good wizard, but anyone can. Of course, if you're smart, that's even better, and that's what experienced wizards that are looking for in an apprentice. Otherwise there's nothing to test for. This isn't inherently different from non-magical disciplines, where if you want your student to become a good warrior, you want to make sure they're physically fit.

Where the mechanics come in... You can compensate for weaker attributes by working harder, or alternatively by focusing on tasks that are less difficult, but you're not going to be as broadly and truly skilled as someone who was well-suited for the task. Of course, it's even harder to dabble in a discipline. Anyone can be a good martial artist, but you need to be particularly clever to be a skilled martial artist and a chemist.


You only need to be intelligent enough and to be disciplined enough to put the required effort and work... so, if a kid is book smart and learns quickly, and they are hard working, they probably can be trained to be a wizard...


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Settings where anyone can learn magic if they study it look like Eberron.


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keftiu wrote:
Settings where anyone can learn magic if they study it look like Eberron.

There's a difference between "magic is common, and most people pick it up" and "anybody can become a wizard, you just have to be allowed to get into wizard school, pay for wizard school somehow, and learn what you need to learn from wizard school."

If you make it like a 6 year university program before you can cast first level spells, you're still not going to get that many wizards.


PossibleCabbage wrote:
keftiu wrote:
Settings where anyone can learn magic if they study it look like Eberron.

There's a difference between "magic is common, and most people pick it up" and "anybody can become a wizard, you just have to be allowed to get into wizard school, pay for wizard school somehow, and learn what you need to learn from wizard school."

If you make it like a 6 year university program before you can cast first level spells, you're still not going to get that many wizards.

Most NPC casters in Eberron can ritual cast only one or two cantrips. What does it take to figure that out on Golarion?


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Nidal tests children for aptitude with nightglass. If something in the shadow plane responds to them, it's off to Torture Hogwarts with them. That's testing for a specific type of magic, though, and gets them a range of different classes.


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PossibleCabbage wrote:

Metatextually in something like a tabletop roleplaying game, you kind of have to avoid the "you are one of the chosen few special ones" trope because PCs can be all sorts of different kinds of characters and they shouldn't be treated as more "special" because they chose to be a Wizard instead of a Rogue (or a Jedi Knight instead of a Smuggler) since that has side effects of pressuring players to make (or avoid) certain choices.

The only places you really see it are ones where you're adapting something that already has a "only a select few are wizards" thing in the diagesis.

Except even PF has "chosen few special ones" classes like sorcerer where it's inherent to your genetics (or whatever fantasy RPGs use instead of genetics) or "chosen by the gods" classes for that matter.

What they should try to avoid is making those tropes mechanically advantageous so that players will be happy taking other options and not to gate them mechanically so that players can use them if they want.

Which is exactly what PF does. (Or tries to at least. Class balance issues aside.)

The mechanics of being able to be a wizard in the game system are independent of the lore allowing people to be wizards in the world. Any PC can choose to be a Wizard (or take a Wizard dedication), but any PC can also choose to be a Sorcerer or take a Sorcerer dedication, despite the lore restriction that only people with some kind of special blood can be sorcerers.


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They look for kids who can use a club but somehow can't figure out how to use a mace.


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Gisher wrote:
They look for kids who can use a club but somehow can't figure out how to use a mace.

You're not wrong...

:-/
:-)


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Gisher wrote:
They look for kids who can use a club but somehow can't figure out how to use a mace.

Pshaw, kids aren't trained in anything.


Character classes may have been rare in Pathfinder 1e, but I don't think that says perhaps as much as you might expect. We have to imagine that the majority of people in the Inner Sea would have little opportunity to be formally trained in nearly any activity suitable to adventuring. It may not be glamorous work, but somebody needs to be working the acres of fields to and spinning the wool needed to feed and clothe the rest of society. Estimates I'm familiar with put the number of commoners between 95 and 99% of the population, with peasants close to 85% as late as . These people, it must be assumed, have limited opportunity to take up the skills of a Character Class. They would have been quite skilled at the jobs they did do (nobody tell me spinning, weaving, and tailoring is 'unskilled' labour) but virtually all their time is occupied simply making a living.

Certainly it seems like there should be a lot more people from the nobility to the wealthier commoners who have dabbled in wizardry, given the sheer utility of having magic, but aside from making a living by casting handful of cantrips and low-level spells, most people who dabble in magic still need to invest time in learning a profession or a trade. Not everyone who wants to be a wizard will find an apprentice or have an aptitude for it even if they have the raw intelligence (compare people who struggle in math but can learn several languages, and vice versa), and even those who do may find themselves needing to dedicate their time to running their family's estate (for the wealthy) or managing living expenses when the local supply of cantrips and low-level spells exceeds the demand.

On the other hand, I agree, a society in which anybody may learn magic if they desire to study it most certainly should look more similar to Eberron, however this isn't the first and won't be the last place where societies on Golarion depart from realism to achieve a certain genre aesthetic. Even so, the society in Eberron also depicts a much more urbanized and somewhat industrial setting than the pseudo-Early Modern milieu of Golarion.

Speaking to the question of the narrative, it seems that there is little or no narrative evidence that wizards require an inborn talent for magic. Ezren, the iconic wizard, spent the majority of his life dedicated to running his father's company until he decided to learn magic--notably teaching himself much of what he knows owing to difficulty securing a teacher willing to take him on as an apprentice. Perhaps even more damning for the notion of wizardry requiring innate aptitude is the Iconic Magus. Despite showing no signs of inheriting a talent for sorcery from his father, Seltyiel still manages to teach himself magic out of an old spellbook by memorizing runes and practising cantrips.

While I believe there is a certain talent for magic in general that can be passed on genetically, I imagine it is much like a talent for art or music--anyone without talent can still learn, and talent is less useful than skill in determining competence.

Liberty's Edge

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If you're looking for a practical answer, I would suggest use of the Arcana Skill for the purpose of Downtime Earn Income, you'd need to "scout" jobs in the area to see if the community has any suitable candidates of varying levels of difficulty to tutor, teach, or otherwise provide mentoring services.

That kind of education from a credentialed, field-tested formal Wizard (or maybe something else) very well could be something whatever NPC families would pay for the service.

Anyhow, that's how you can tie dice rolls and results to the idea, but really, the lore and plot of it all would be up to the GM to tell and create.


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Diagetically it's probably like "finding people who are going to go on to get advanced degrees in pure math or theoretical physics."

It's not exactly a common path people pursue, but people absolutely do it anyway, sometimes because they felt drawn to it for whatever reason and have the stick-to-itiveness to get it done.

Liberty's Edge

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Now, Wizardry has more immediate practical and personal applications than pure maths or theoretical physics ;-)


The Raven Black wrote:
Now, Wizardry has more immediate practical and personal applications than pure maths or theoretical physics ;-)

Oh certainly. The sheer utility of magic must be considered no less than its difficulty. If theoretical physics or advanced mathematics let me move things with my mind and conjure fire as the most basic level, no matter how difficult they may be I would be much more motivated to study them. If I recall, there was a Web Fiction featuring an aphorite and kitsune which touched briefly on presenting the complexities of wizardry in similar terms.

In any case, this is why I consider the difficulty of even securing tutelage in wizardry a more serious limiting factor than the academic challenge of mastering complex arcana. I can see why people consider inborn ability a requisite to explain the rarity of magic as an extension of this point, even if I don't find it textually supported for this setting.

The reality is, most settings present magic with so much utility, it would inevitably alter the fantasy landscape from something recognizably medieval or renaissance to one where political power is strongly associated with magical ability, much like how it is often associated with military strength and by extension, material wealth in our world.

Mind you, that's a very fascinating setting (as Everron proves) but I'm also very fond of the early modern sort of aesthetic much of the Inner Sea has going for it, with only semi-uncommon magic, so as with elsewhere I must reinforce--realism is not necessarily the highest virtue in a setting.


Gisher wrote:
They look for kids who can use a club but somehow can't figure out how to use a mace.

They look for kids so intelligent that they manage to find a practical difference between club-wielding and mace-wielding.


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Back in the day (3.0) there were a couple spells that revealed Int score, mostly mind-reading and such, and one very specific spell that revealed Int score as well as highest available arcane spell of the creature.

For Pathfinder, however, I am not aware of any magi-chlorian detection ability.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Thanks for everyone's views, this is really an interesting question when it comes to world-building


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I can (tongue in cheek) describe my IRL job as being a wizard.

I create permanent useful items using text written in a language that is never used for person to person communication and takes many years of study to be able to understand and use. I often create illusions. I manipulate and store information. I have used chronomancy as well as golemancy.

Of course, the job I am describing is a software developer. Programming languages are not used for talking to each other with, and they do take several years of study in order to use. The images on screens of various shapes and sizes are all illusions. Data storage, calculations, and data transfer are the bulk of what software does. Chronomancy is source control - letting me rewind time on my code if I break things too much. Also I can end up with different versions of the same program running in the wild, which often feels like I have to adapt to having both dinosaurs and giraffes existing at the same time. Golemancy would be an interesting name for robotics.

So yeah. Forget theoretical physics. Software developers are modern wizards.

Liberty's Edge

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“Castilliano” wrote:
I do find it funny that in PF2 it's harder to dabble than to directly pursue

I agree. My justification is that multiclassing isn’t only cabling, it’s dabbling while continuing to improve your primary pursuit.

Liberty's Edge

Sibelius Eos Owm wrote:
Character classes may have been rare in Pathfinder 1e

They’re arguably even rarer in Pathfinder 2E since NPCs, by default, aren’t built using character classes. So that leaves the PCs, and any NPCs the GM has, for whatever reason, built using PC generation methodology. The average PC Wizard probably apprenticed to an NPC who was a prepared arcane spellcaster, but probably wasn’t actually a Wizard.


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I would quibble. The NPCs at Wizard school may not have class levels in "Wizard" but they are still Wizards.

"All people who are Wizards" is a superset of "people with the Wizard PC class."


The take the Sensing Arcane Talent exam.

Liberty's Edge

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They ask the hat.

Liberty's Edge

PossibleCabbage wrote:

I would quibble. The NPCs at Wizard school may not have class levels in "Wizard" but they are still Wizards.

"All people who are Wizards" is a superset of "people with the Wizard PC class."

I would quibble back that I was responding to the statement "Character classes may have been rare in Pathfinder 1e," and the superset is irrelevant to the joke I was making about how such NPCs were "people with the Wizard PC class" in PF1 but rarely are in PF2.


I think it's probably important to note that Sorcerers and Wizards probably have very different knowledge of Arcana despite it being the same skill.

The wizard has book learning like crazy. The sorcerer may have some of that, but they're probably piecing a lot of things together from other sources rather than having a formal education. Now, if they advance that to expert and so on they're probably picking up some books, or doing practical experiments with their power. Maybe finding someone to study under.

Liberty's Edge

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The knowledge might just spring fully formed to the mind of the arcane Sorcerer.

Liberty's Edge

The specificity of the Wizard is the thesis. So, I would be checking for hints of the abilities provided by the various theses.


I just cheat and have Farien give me the answers to any test given.

As a bonus, I can use a mace.


Eoran wrote:

...

As a bonus, I can use a mace.

Pfft. You jocks are always bragging.


I mean, an arcane sorcerer can invest moderately in Intelligence, take the Arcane Evolution feat, and start using a "book of arcane spells". How much are they studying then? They still have to study to add spells to their book, right? Sorcerers don't have to study, but that doesn't mean they can't benefit from doing so.


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Elf Wizard wrote:
Eoran wrote:

...

As a bonus, I can use a mace.
Pfft. You jocks are always bragging.

Hah, that's nothing. Bragging would be pointing out that as Warrior Android I can use a Greatclub too.

Liberty's Edge

Eoran wrote:
Elf Wizard wrote:
Eoran wrote:

...

As a bonus, I can use a mace.
Pfft. You jocks are always bragging.
Hah, that's nothing. Bragging would be pointing out that as Warrior Android I can use a Greatclub too.

Skill chips ?

Liberty's Edge

GM_3826 wrote:
I mean, an arcane sorcerer can invest moderately in Intelligence, take the Arcane Evolution feat, and start using a "book of arcane spells". How much are they studying then? They still have to study to add spells to their book, right? Sorcerers don't have to study, but that doesn't mean they can't benefit from doing so.

Only if they take Arcane Evolution IIRC.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Only if they take Arcane Evolution IIRC.

I did say they had to take the Arcane Evolution feat.

Liberty's Edge

GM_3826 wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
Only if they take Arcane Evolution IIRC.
I did say they had to take the Arcane Evolution feat.

I think I missed your point. Sorry about that.


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I was hunting down a reference for something else when I stumbled upon a line which, I think, puts a relatively definitive answer to the question of whether magic (specifically wizardry) requires an innate talent:

Ultimate Magic p92 wrote:
Anyone can be a spellcaster. If you can crack open a book and knuckle down in your studies, you can probably become a passable wizard. If you can devote yourself body and soul to a god (...) you may find yourself endowed with magical powers simply for having faith in your god's (and your own) righteousness.

I'll grant you that this is a 1st edition product published in 2011, so I don't assume it was the final word that will ever be published on the nature of magic in the setting (they didn't even know about the four traditions, back then, they thought it was all just Arcane or Divine!) but I feel like it shows to a certain degree the intent for the setting regarding a genetic (or spiritual-genetic?) prerequisite to magic. Sorcerers are who they are because of magic genetics, Wizards and Clerics not so.

(On the other hand, whether we talk about having a talent for magic as a skill, rather than as an innate ability, I seem to recall one of the Pharaohs of Osirion, a Cleric, described as inheriting his family's talent for powerful magic, so I would suggest that while the potential to perform magic is universal, you can be born with greater or lesser aptitude for magic in general, presumably in a similar matter to artistic or musical talents which nevertheless can be refined through skill even by those lacking in such gifts of chance.)


I think this falls under the "whatever suits the current narrative" blanket, so that if your adventure's about "finding the next great Wizard" then sure, PCs gonna need to measure some aptitude. But if some peasant that got abused and booted out of a wizard academy for being an utter failure wants to get some Count of Monte Cristo revenge, then "wizard aptitude" becomes a cultural fiction that the peasant can overcome through perseverance.

Personally I think Cantrips alone would prove too enticing to resist learning and that there are too many NPC studious types who don't have Cantrips to suggest that wizardry's only a matter of effort. But that's what suits Golarion's overall narrative; that magic's not THAT commonplace.

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