Class Primer: Wizard

An Introduction to the Wizard Class for Players New to Dungeons and Dragons 5e


Are you a bit of a bookworm? What if all your nights spent in the library or at home hunched over dusty old tomes could grant you the ability to bend reality to your will? If that sounds cool to you, you might want to take a look at the Wizard class for Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons!

Side note: This guide assumes you have the Fifth Edition Player’s Handbook for more detailed information, and is more intended to give you an idea of what this class can do. If you also need help with the process of creating your first character, click here first for my character rolling guide for new players.

Overview: Phenomenal Cosmic Power

As you might expect from a spell-caster that attained their abilities through hard work and study, Wizards are usually very knowledgeable. This is partly represented by tying their spell-casting to their intelligence – meaning it is likely to be a Wizard’s highest Ability Score. Your wizard will be naturally good at skill rolls that involve recalling information your character might know as a result of this high Intelligence score.

Wizards have the largest spell-list of any class. They keep a collection of spells they have learned in their Spellbook, which they can continually expand with new spells. You will be able to add spells to your Spellbook every time you level up, but the real advantage is that you can also add Wizard spells you find in their travels to it. So if you come across a good spell scroll (or, heaven forbid, somehow come into the possession of another Wizard’s Spellbook), you can spend some time and (expensive) resources to scribe that spell into your Spellbook. Make sure to hold on to your spell scrolls because of this feature – after all, it’s almost always better to be able to cast a spell forever than just one time. Unless it’s an incredibly crucial time, of course.

With their wide spell selection and ability to prepare different spells from their Spellbook at the start of each day, Wizards are versatile casters that can adapt to a variety of situations!

Role in the Party

In combat, you can expect to see wizards cowering in the back-line and hoping nobody notices them. With low health and no armor proficiency, wizards are not particularly durable if targeted. A good Dexterity or Constitution score can combat this problem, as can your spell choices.

So why bring a wizard?

Well, Wizards are far and away the best utility spell-caster in the game. What does this mean? A Wizard can perform well as a Damage Dealer, with powerful offensive spells like Fireball or Lightning Bolt. They can also step into a more Control or Support focused role, using their spells to either split up and hinder enemies on the field or buff allies. Outside of combat, the wizard spell list includes tools that may aid your party in social encounters, travel, and more.

The real power of the wizard is that they can fill multiple roles efficiently. Their vast spell selection and their ability to change that selection over a long rest makes them a real Swiss army knife of a caster. Other arcane spell-casting classes (such as Warlock or Sorcerer) have to specialize with their spell selection; wizards can do it all!

Looking Ahead: High Level Wizards

A high level wizard in Dungeons and Dragons is a force to be reckoned with They are able to move around the world freely with teleportation spells, fly, change allies into powerful beasts or enemies into harmless chickens with Polymorph, spy on distant enemies with Scry, create pocket dimensions, assault their enemies with powerful elemental magics, and eventually alter the fabric of reality itself with the Wish spell. That’s just naming a few possibilities on their spell list!

At second level you will choose your Arcane Tradition, which will determine which school of magic you specialize in. Your choices in the Fifth Edition Player’s Handbook are:

  • Abjuration: Defensive, protective, warding
  • Conjuration: Creating objects, summoning creatures
  • Divination: Seeing things, knowing things, foresight
  • Enchantment: Influence the minds of others
  • Evocation: Explosive, elemental, damage
  • Illusion: Deceive, dazzle
  • Necromancy: Power over the energies binding life and death
  • Transmutation: Change; the ability to transform objects, others, and yourself

Each of these Arcane Traditions will grant you unique features related to that school of magic. Choosing one of these schools doesn’t limit or prohibit you from casting spells from other schools of magic – you can still cast anything you like!

No matter what sort of Wizard you end up being, you are sure to be the most versatile spell-caster in the party. Try to remember your small health pool and paper-thin armor class before letting your absolute command over reality go to your head too much, though!

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