Sorcerers can be a bit of a problematic topic, depending on what edition of the game you play. If I remember correctly, they came into existence because a sizable chunk of the Player’s Handbook was for wizards only so they created another class that used the exact same spell list. So there are some originalists that do not feel they should exist. I’m more of a modernist in that sense where I accept the class as they are and go from there.
The basic concept of the class itself is that you can just do magical abilities. No matter the reason why, you can just wave your hands, utter what would otherwise sound like nonsense and BOOM magic happens. Frankly it sounds like that if the magic didn’t happen, you’d be locked up for insanity. But here you are, making with the magic. So yeah!
If you want to play a sorcerer, here are five questions that will help you get into your character. See our 5 Questions for bards, clerics, druids, fighters, monks, paladins, rogues, and wizards here.
1) How Did Your Magic First Manifest?
One day you were an average person. The next you were making sparks shoot out of your fingers or you levitated something or you made someone suddenly agree with you. Wait a second, how do you know that that last one wasn’t just a really persuasive argument? Simple, you tried it again without waving your arms or putting that same amount of force to your voice and it didn’t work. It is only when you did that exact same sequence over and over again that you realized that you were making magic. The same is true with the other spells you cast. You tried to make fire happen without waving your hands or suddenly gain the ability of perceiving magical auras by speaking different words but they simply don’t happen.
This brings us to a first if several non-obvious truths about the sorcerer class: sorcerers have to work hard at their magic. Being a wizard requires years if study while sorcerers just make the magic happen so it is easy to think that being a sorcerer is easy. That’s simply not true. There is no guidebook to being a sorcerer. Wizards literally have a book that says this is how you make magic; sorcerers have to reinvent the wheel for every new spell they want to cast. That requires lots of work and patience.
2) When Was The Last Time You Lost Control of Your Magic?
Like I said, being a sorcerer just happens. You did something and unexpectedly magic just happens. So was anyone hurt when you did that? How about the second time that happened? Third? How many times were you told to keep your magical powers under control after you broke something without meaning to? In your anger did you burn someone without meaning to? Is this why you left home and became an adventurer, because you feel you are a danger to those you care about decided to not return until you could control your new-found powers better?
3) Did You Always Choose to Use Your Magical Abilities for Good?
Frankly, I hope the answer to this one is “No.” It is far more of an interesting answer to decide to choose good instead of always being good. Say you left home in a hurry because you had burned someone, not bringing much in the way if food or supplies. You are now a homeless person. So if you manage to outrun the stories about yourself, you’re going to be hungry. So you walk into a tavern and and charm your way into a free meal and a night’s rest from the tavern owner. So when the tavern owner comes to their senses and brings their spouse comes to collect what you owe, you try again and fail and get run out of another town. Sooner or later (maybe after spending a few nights in jail for your actions, maybe after you saw someone in need and you helped and someone looked upon you favorably for the first time since you developed your powers), you realize that you have to clean up your act and can use your abilities to earn your keep instead of stealing it from others.
This brings us to the next non-obvious truth about sorcerers: it’s easy to go bad. Instead of choosing to clean up your act, suppose you always decided to stay selfish. Sure you did the occasional good deed so you could tell yourself you’re a good person, but much of the time you are motivated by your own wants and desires, ignoring the pain you cause others. That way is easier, even quicker. That is a seductive thought, one that your sorcerer should be able to understand, no matter which way they choose.
4) What Spell Is Inside of You That You Can’t Seem to Cast?
Much like Rincewind with a powerful spell inside of him that doesn’t want to come out, you should also have a powerful spell inside of you that doesn’t want to come out yet. You know it is inside of you, but you can’t seem to get it to come out yet. Maybe you don’t even have a name for it yet, but you can feel it inside if you, deep in your soul. Do you hold it back until you can control it? Perhaps you try to bring it out, but it simply will not come out yet. Is it asleep inside if you and you are not sure you want to wake it yet? This is why I like to make my sorcerers with a theme. You know you have a raging inferno inside if you and you try to tap into it and instead you only get burning hands. You try again and you get scorching ray. Then fireball and so in until you can fully tap into that power deep inside if you that you know is there.
This brings us to our last non-obvious truth about sorcerers: it should be confusing as hell. Why does flapping my arms and saying nonsense make magic happen when it doesn’t for someone else? Why can I now call forth this one spell when I couldn’t yesterday? How come I could make this magic spell before but I simply can’t now? There should be very little about your abilities that actually makes sense. That would make some seek stability. Which brings us to our last question:
5) What Do Your Fellow Adventurers Offer You?
Why are you with this group of adventurers instead some other group? The simple answer is that they offer you something that others cannot: stability and acceptance. Your powers can be viewed as weird or downright scary by those that do not understand them. For you to stay with your fellow adventurers, they must have accepted you for who you are. Maybe they express that acceptance while teasing you, but they will stand by your side if anyone is mean or attacks you. This group may very well be the most stable relationships you have had since you developed your powers. So the question then becomes, what will you do to defend them when they need you?
Greyrend, our signature sorcerer, left her clan of lycanthropes and other skinwalkers when she was only 12. She could only manifest her magical powers when she was angry and she did not have much control of her powers at first, making her an outcast. She tried to live among humans in her human form, but growing up among wolf-people didn’t imbue her with the greatest amount of social skills. While she can unleash destructive power, she prefers to focus on ways to enhance her natural fighting abilities and to adjust the minds of those that oppose her, making it feel like she has some acceptance, even if it is only for a little while. Since joining up with her fellow adventurers, she has had to change other people’s minds far less. They are helping her interact with others when she is less than socially graceful and teaching her how to get along better with others.
Greyrend is featured on the cover of the adventure Deadly Delves: The Chaosfire Incursion for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. Download this adventure today and check out all our Pathfinder, D&D 5e,13th Age, and Traveller titles today at the JBE Shop, DriveThruRPG/RPGNow, Paizo, and the Open Gaming Store.