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A Group of Wizards is Called a Coven

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Salutations, nerds. We have arrived at our wizardly destination for fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons. You know, the ones in the pointy hats who constantly gather up in big towers and work together. As I was mentioning last week wizards group up in order to study the magic, and because it is a lot of complicated arcane stuff they need each other to compare notes with because it gets them a lot further. I suppose there is something somewhat romantic about the idea of a lone wizard, ferreted off in a tower somewhere in secluded study, but that’s not what we’re going to be talking about today.

5E D&D wizard coven

A wizard as seen in the fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons Player’s Handbook. [Image courtesy Wizards of the COast]

What makes wizards so magical

As someone who plays mostly bards and wizards in 5E D&D I don’t have to convince myself either one of these classes are awesome. Having potential access to every spell on the wizard spell list is a huge perk that sorcerers don’t get. Sorcerers get a particular list of spells they are then limited to, but if a wizard wants a spell they don’t have already it’s a matter of finding the right book or scroll. That’s a win for everyone, because where there’s a want there’s an adventure hook the party will almost certainly take.

Sorcerers have some kind of bloodline or uniqueness granting them the ability cast spells but wizards are just very intelligent people who looked at the fabric of reality and decided they could make better use of it than reality itself did. They’re almost like the scientists of the 5E D&D classes, with harder magic that works in a particular way because they’ve tested and turned it over and over again and know how to reproduce the results.

Wizards are to wise as drunkards are to drunk. That’s how we get the word wizard, that old English way. Wizards are mysterious in ways that don’t necessarily make sense to everyone around them. Many of them write their spellbooks in their own private languages to keep their secrets from falling into the hands of other wizards and the fact most of the people who practice wizardry in the first place are smart enough to do this is cool.

The idea that, in a world where there are massive dudes running around in loincloths with battle axes just charging into the fray and ruining the days of stupidly powerful monsters like mindflayers and liches, there are people who are able to create the same effect while still being scholarly little nerdy things appeals and it’s not hard to say why. That’s the nerd dream, right there. Being smart enough to work circles around the bigger guy.

Mystery of the coven

We’ve talked before about how wizards have a perfectly natural reason to group up — sharing notes and study is better for the understanding of magic altogether, as a general rule. Of course your wizards aren’t limited to this specific reason. You could have a coven of wizards that came together to work a particularly complicated set of spells no one of them would have been able to pick through on their own.

The latter example is going to be a lot more difficult to join than the former, though I imagine a school for wizardry will have rules and standards as well.

Consider what the in world requisites would be for joining a particular coven of wizards. If they have to be particularly powerful those things might include big tests like taking on a notoriously difficult monster. I personally wouldn’t staple a level requirement to something like this because the characters themselves don’t have context for what level they are, but there have been instances in official materials where access to a certain level of spell was a requisite for doing something.

As for the all wizard party, the easiest way to do that would be each caster specializing in a different school and really highlight the usefulness of these different kinds of magic.

What the coven can do for your players

I mean, other than the obvious “identify items when they need to be” and “occasionally ask adventureres to go off on some arduous quest for something the wizards need but for some reason aren’t going to go get themselves because being near-godly powerful means never having to run your own errands into the Nine Hells.”

Consider a high level adventure in a wizard’s tower where something has gone terribly wrong and all of the different things potentially crawling out of the rift. These are people who regularly bend and break reality for their own ends. They’re incredibly powerful and the last person you want to get on the bad side of is a whole group of wizards that can wish you out of existence.

(I probably don’t need to tell you most of this, but it’s generally not a good idea to have an NPC wish a player out of existence. Give characters a chance.)

Wizards mostly want knowledge. Wizards can open doors into other planes of existence and make your 5E D&D gaming world a little bigger. Wizards are responsible for owlbears existing and a number of other things standing in defiance of nature. If you ever need to do something that thus far could not be done, a max level wizard is a good way to go about it because at this point they’re probably writing their own spells and creating rituals, which means altering reality in new and fun ways.

Where do you stand with wizards in 5E D&D? Do you like to play into or break the hermit scholar image they seem to have accumulated over the years? Do you have any awesome wizard stories to share? Please let me know in the comments below, and as always, stay nerdy!

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Robin Miller

Speculative fiction writer and part-time Dungeon Master Robin Miller lives in southern Ohio where they keep mostly nocturnal hours and enjoys life’s quiet moments. They have a deep love for occult things, antiques, herbalism, big floppy hats and the wonders of the small world (such as insects and arachnids), and they are happy to be owned by the beloved ghost of a black cat. Their fiction, such as The Chronicles of Drasule and the Nimbus Mysteries, can be found on Amazon.

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