Roleplaying a wizard in D&D has some standard practices that you will go by. Aside from that, you will be able to do whatever you want!
Roleplaying a wizard in D&D is about using your intelligence and then creating a unique personality. Understanding how to do so is difficult.
There are many different ways to roleplay a wizard, so instead of going off of each subclass we are going to look at general tips to help improve your roleplay and in the end your game.
The standard, and how to deviate
The standard way roleplaying a wizard in D&D works is that you are a bookworm. You also have the durability of a wet paper bag, and are most of the time know it all even if you aren’t a pain about it. Lastly, you are a researcher who is trying to learn something.
There is a reason that these are the standards for a wizard. The good news is that there are many ways to roleplay a wizard in D&D that does not involve any of these. For your sake though, I would take away 1 and possibly at most 2 of these aspects.
Why only 1 or 2? At it’s core, these traits make up a wizard. You can change aspects of them, but if you get a burly stupid person who just wants to fight and has no interest in academia, are you playing a wizard? That might be a sorcerer or at best a warlock, but even as a battlemage you are trying to improve your knowledge in some way.
Improving your knowledge is the core of what a wizard is.
If you are not playing an academic of some sort it does not make sense to play a wizard. This is a bold statement but think about it for a second. Our main stat is intelligence. You cannot have someone who doesn’t like research gain their power through careful study of the arcane arts.
If you want to be a prodigy who doesn’t study there is a class for that which pulls it off much better than a wizard would. If you are interested in that idea, then check out our article on how to roleplay a sorcerer. A prodigy who didn’t study just would get boring very quickly and does not really fit in well with the wizard class.
You can make anything happen, but there is a core of what a wizard is. If you try to get away from that it would be like trying to be a fighter who doesn’t use weapons. It might be able to work, but it won’t be pleasant.
That is why there are a few standard ideas of a wizard that can change, but you cannot take them all out. With that said, you can roleplay a wizard in a lot of different ways.
Have you ever seen a proud wizard? They think they are better than everyone else because they can do magic or had to work for their magic. Perhaps you have played a wizard like this, but at some point, you will encounter 1. That wizard might be your very own.
Not every wizard needs to be prideful, but a fun way of roleplaying a wizard in D&D is to be prideful. Think about it. You have studied your whole life to do something that very few others could do. You are in an elite group that has unearthed the secrets of the universe. What is more, you did it through your own means! Not by luck or chance, but by you.
If you look at your powers this way then it is no wonder that you would be prideful, and having pride isn’t a bad thing. You can be proud of who you are and what you have accomplished, and even if you go overboard that could lead to character development.
I would not suggest being insufferable, or no one would want to work with you. Having a little bit of pride and being humble about it would be better than a braggart, but don’t be afraid to be prideful of your upbringing and how attained these powers.
You can forego pride and have a different trait. An interesting trait to have can be either wisdom or the lack of wisdom.
“Intelligence is knowing how to build a bomb. Wisdom is knowing not to press the red button.”
That is a saying I use to differentiate the 2. You are a wizard who is extremely intelligent. Through your own ingenuity and master, the whole world is at your beckon call. What you do with it though might be horrifying.
This is a trait that most wizards have and end up falling into. Evil wizards a lot of the time try to do good and end up going down a rabbit hole not seeing how far gone their actions are. Good wizards fail at times because they do not consider how they could fail. Both sides have a lack of wisdom and wizards often times in stories are the ones who screw everything up.
You do not have to screw everything up, but you could be someone who doesn’t think before they act. Your character might not understand the repercussions of their actions and just wants to act. That, or they don’t care and just want to do whatever deeds they want to do.
This is 1 way to roleplay the wisdom card, but you don’t have to be a bumbling fool.
Wizards have advised kings, queens, and nations before. You could be wise beyond your years and coupling that with your arcane prowess makes you an impressive figure to behold. You could be the best of the best with decent wisdom, and try to help everyone around you.
However you roleplay the wisdom aspect of your wizard will add a dynamic to the game that gives your wizard character.
Even if a wizard isn’t wise, they still are able to do more than any other arcane character.
Most wizards are not a fireball dispenser. Most. Some break this rule, and that is okay but you are more than just a fireball dispenser.
We talked about how wizards can be proud due to their intelligence and background along with the difference between wisdom and intelligence. 1 thing is for certain with wizards, they are very intelligent.
Roleplaying a wizard in D&D, you should always use this intelligence to help you fight. Instead of just going in and causing damage, win the fight. Use your own intelligence to make the party be in awe of your greatness and have the dungeon master on edge wondering what you will come up with.
How do you do this? By having the most versatile spell list for arcane users in the game!
You have many different spells to choose from. Each 1 can fit a different situation in a unique way and win the fight instead of just damaging others, or at least make the fight extremely easy.
2 great spells for this are phantasmal force and slow. Griffins come at your party sweeping in and out, attacking with 3 attacks and… they are slowed. Now if they sweep in for an attack they can only attack once with reduced AC making them easier to hit and reduces their damage by 66%.
The great orc warlord is now facing your party. He smiles and brandishes his greatsword to lay waste to everyone since he is extremely tough. Why not use phantasmal force to put a beehive over his head dealing some damage each round and making him have disadvantage to attacks? It is also an intelligence save, so he will never make it.
Using different spells for the right situation will win the fight and possibly save your party. If you are unsure if a situation will fit your designs, make it.
You do need to keep yourself alive though…
Roleplaying a wizard in D&D is scary. You deal the most damage, break the game, and are wearing pajamas as armor. You need to stay alive, and that alone can build character for your character.
How you deal with this fragility can influence a lot about you.
Do you decide that you will not be frail and instead put your first level in fighter so that you can wear plate armor? How about boosting your constitution to be able to take more hits?
If you do not do something unconventional, then you need to figure out how you will live!
1 common way is to put a nice hunk of meat in front of you and the danger. This hunk of meat is ideally somewhat sentient so that you can command it to move when needed to provide the best protection, but not smart enough to get out of the way and have the danger go to you.
These are what we call meat shields.
You can volunteer someone to get hit instead of yourself and most of the time it does the job, but hiding around the corner just in case also works.
With all this focus on staying alive and impending mortality, it is no wonder that wizards are the most determined to find a way to live forever.
You can roleplay this by making your wizard extra scared of death and is on a quest to live forever. This can be accomplished by becoming a lich, a wish spell, or some other powerful magic. But because of your fragility, it allows you to do add more to your character.
This newfound obsession might even lead you to become a researcher.
Wizards are a curious lot. You might be trying to find a cure to death itself, but almost all wizards are avid researchers about something. You can go about roleplaying a wizard in D&D by trying to find an answer. Find out something that has eluded everyone or just you.
This could be the cure to death, a new spell that will make you go down in history, or an understanding of the world beyond what normal people are capable of.
Whatever the reason, you have something to pursue. This could be why you chose your school of specialization, and the question that needs answering can greatly impact your character.
Aside from researching a singular question, you could just be interested in a subject. It is unlikely that a very intelligent individual who has read at least hundreds of books will not be interested in something. Curiosity will get the best of them and they will want to learn more.
You can capitalize on this and make your wizard extremely interested in a subject. This way, there is no end goal. You just want to learn all that you can about a given topic.
Researching the topic can lead to a bunch of roleplay options, but a less common trope that logically makes sense is social awkwardness.
Have you ever been around a bunch of geeks and nerds? I have for the vast majority of my life and have chosen to hang out with them over the boring jockish people. I have found something out that may shock you. The stereotype of nerds/geeks having a hard time interacting isn’t always true, but it is true more times than I would care to admit.
I would venture to say that most geeks/nerds are socially awkward, and you can go about Roleplaying a wizard in D&D like this. You do not need to be disgusting. Socially awkward does not mean creepy or having bad body odor (although that does happen). No one wants to play with that character, and you can do better.
Socially awkward could be misreading situations if your wisdom is low. Having nervous ticks or not knowing what to say when people are talking. Putting your foot in your mouth or digging your own hole in a conversation is another great way to showcase social awkwardness.
Being socially awkward does not need to be a complete negative. It can be something that your party helps with and becomes an opportunity for your wizard to grow.
However your roleplay social awkwardness, it should add to your character and the game instead of making it worse.
Roleplaying a wizard in D&D is as open as D&D itself. You have a core aspect of being intelligent and improving your knowledge. It doesn’t make sense not to, and that is something that every wizard should strive for.
How you improve your knowledge is where wizards really diversify. You can choose to improve your knowledge through research, study of a subject, or by beating every situation in an unconventional way.
Every wizard is unique and can be proud, wise, or even socially awkward. How you make your wizard is up to you, but every wizard has to deal with their own frailty somehow. Even this negative aspect lets you roleplay your wizard in D&D. Your wizard can be a coward, previous soldier, or just very hearty leading them to be the workhorse of the group.
However you roleplay your wizard, you have more choices beyond just a background and a school of magic that you pick.
With this, I hope that I have helped you create an amazing wizard!
Until next time, keep rolling!