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[D&D] Sorcery vs. Wizardry

Rolzup

Dinoczar
Validated User
#1
The following is pretty much strictly a "fluff" question, and has no right or wrong answers. That said, I'm curious as to others' take on this one....

What is the difference between Sorcery (aka, Spontaneous Arcane Magic) and Wizardry (Prepared Arcane Magic)?

I've never really bought the idea of Sorcery being in-born. The ability to swap out spells at advancing levels, and the way that the Beguiler/Dread Necromancer/Warmage work kinda argues against that. Even more so, the fact that Wizard spells and Sorcery spells are functionally identical implies that the two forms are pretty closely linked.

As I'm seeing it at this point, the difference is that Sorcerers really *do* memorize their spells. They study them, they learn them, they force them into their memories. And with a bit of work, they can "forget" them, and force a different spell into their brains.

It's tempting to make the "Versatile Spellcaster" feat a freebie for 1st level sorcerers, replacing the familiar, but I think that it's enough to leave that as an option. And besides, the whole "Valences" concept of spell levels is one that I've become kinda fond of.

The point of all of this is that the "Collegium", a loose affiliation of spellcrafters of all sorts, from Spirit Shamans to Binders to Wizards, is a significant power in my current campaign. The Collegium is broken into schools, and there's an acrimonious split between the College of High Arcana -- wizards -- and the College of Low Arcana -- sorcerers and such. Right now, I'm trying to nail down specifics to my own satisfaction. And give a reason for spontaneous casters to gather together in an academic setting....
 

Icon

Old enough to know better
Validated User
#2
I've never really bought the idea of Sorcery being in-born. The ability to swap out spells at advancing levels, and the way that the Beguiler/Dread Necromancer/Warmage work kinda argues against that.
Probably best not to confuse mechanical implementations with underlying "truth".

I've successfully swapped out my ability to run 6 to 8 miles at a time for facility in playing online video games.

At one point I could mentally calculate arbitrary nth roots to rational numbers using an interative process that converged quadratically. . .but I no longer know how I did it.

Switching out could be nothing more than changing focus and forgetting how to do the old--the ability is still inborn.
 

ShanG

青铜时代的中&#
Validated User
#3
Here's how I look at it:

My assumption is that magic is energy. You don't need to go into detail, but the magic you're using to power your spell is coming from somewhere. Each spell is just a specific thing you're doing with that energy.

What a Wizard does, when preparing spells in advance, is to build up a bunch of energy, shape it according to a given formula for the effect he wants, and keep it that way. To cast the spell, he just triggers it and lets it go.

What a Sorcerer does is use the same basic formula, but without preparing it ahead of time. He just charges up the raw energy in his body, and holds it there until he needs it. Then when he casts a spell he takes the proper amount and shapes it on the fly according to what he wants to do.

A Wizard has access to an unlimited number of spells known, because he doesn't actually need to remember them all - he can look up the proper formula as he prepares his spell. A Sorcerer, on the other hand, can cast more spells in total because his magic is kept in a raw state, which makes it easier to store.
 
#4
Magic is magic, the difference is how it's 'accessed'.

A sorcerer has innate 'talent' to use this primal force. No study needed, they just have the 'right stuff' to get certain effects that they want to have happen (thus the short spell list compared to wizards.)

A wizard needs to study and make a 'formula' to access this reality warping ability. But each and every 'formula' gleaned from this study allows them to access another part of these powers, and aren't as limited in scope as a Sorcerer is.

A rough idea of how I see the split.
 

randomgamer8466

Registered User
Validated User
#5
In my campaign, which rules, sorcerers are gifted members of the sorcerer-king bloodline, the ruling class of the Fertile Crescent.

Wizards officially do not exist. However, a few humans have found or been taught the secrets of the creepy, Lovecraftian magic of the yuan-ti whose empire came before humankind's.

The effecs they can achieve are identical, but the way in which the power comes to them is very different, fluff-wise.
 

Ascanius

Use the singular they!
Validated User
#6
I've never really bought the idea of Sorcery being in-born. The ability to swap out spells at advancing levels, and the way that the Beguiler/Dread Necromancer/Warmage work kinda argues against that. Even more so, the fact that Wizard spells and Sorcery spells are functionally identical implies that the two forms are pretty closely linked.
Of course, one could argue from a causal standpoint that it was wizards who studied and eventually learned to mimic the natural spellcasting patterns exhibited by sorcerers. Why do sorcerers need material components? Perhaps it's simply part of the Laws of Magic set down by the gods at the dawn of time; alternatively, you could use one of the common houseruled sorcerer variants which give them a free Eschew Materials feat.

Sorcerers swapping out spells doesn't have to be explained as "really really memorising" spells, either. As a sorcerer grows in power, she simply gains a great enough control over her inborn magical talent to reshape her own capabilities into one of the other channels (i.e., spells) available according to the Laws of Magic.

Warmages, beguilers, et cetera could be envisioned as potential sorcerers who have been trained from the beginning of their talent's flowering to direct their abilities in a particular specialised direction.

Now, this is just one option, and one which assumes you're comfortable with ignoring the obvious fact that Wizards of the Coast just thought spontaneous spellcasters were interesting and easier to balance than prepared casters like wizards, druids, and clerics.
 
#7
For my last campaign I treated sorcery as hedge magic. Wizards learn magic from a structured curriculum usually within the confines of a college setting. Sorcerers learn magic in a more loose and fast style from a mentor. Usually a village wise woman or that old crazy guy in the shack on the edge of town. As a matter of course Wizards look down upon sorcerers since they lack discipline and real training. Oh sure, some of them can become quite powerful but they lack the elegance and versatility of a properly trained Wizard.
 

Antithesis

Now with motion!
#8
in my campaign the difference is that wizardry comes from "persistant material components"ie high tech gadgets, whereas sorcery is the result of purposfyl genetic tampering by the gods to produce better host bodies
 

Wyvern76

Registered User
Validated User
#9
I have a house rule (or rather, I would if I ever ran a campaign of my own) that sorcerers can only swap out spells if they've learned a more "advanced" version of the spell being replaced. For example, if a sorcerer who can cast Charm Person learns Charm Monster, they can replace Charm Person with a new spell of the same level. Same goes for Minor Image/Major Image, Fireball/Delayed Fireball, and so forth. Alternatively, I might just allow them to keep the lower-level spell so they don't have to use a higher-level spell slot for the same effect. Thus, they'd gain a "bonus" spell, but only if there's overlap between their spells. As a side benefit, this would reward players for creating "themed" sorcerers.

I really like ShanG's interpretation, by the way. :cool:

Wyvern
 
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