5 Tips For Playing Better Sorcerers

A Pathfinder RPG Guide

Magic is a potent force, requiring years of study and dedication to fully master. There are some, though, whose very blood runs with power. The subject of myths and legends, magic is a sorcerer's birthright. Able to accomplish on instinct and intuition what even the most brilliant wizards may take decades of study to grasp, sorcerers are often subjects of fear as often as they are of awe.

If you want to inject more life into your sorcerers, and set them apart from feeling like a beginner's first wizard, here are 5 helpful strategies you can use. This list is meant to be used with the Pathfinder RPG, but the tips may be just as useful for other games which have a sorcerer class. For more great gaming tips and tricks, consider checking out the gaming blog Improved Initiative as well!

Tip #1: Where Does Your Power Come From?

Every sorcerer draws their magic from an inner pool of power referred to as a bloodline. Sometimes this bloodline is literal, like when someone's ancestors had children with powerful djinni and passed on the creature's inherent magic to their descendants. Sometimes, though, a sorcerer's bloodline is simply a result of being exposed to powerful magical events, or to places that are infused with potent energies. In this instance someone might develop powers related to the undead, not because of any inherent taint in their bloodline from a lich or a vampire, but because they were born in a graveyard filled with strong necromantic energies.

It isn't enough to know what kind of bloodline your sorcerer has. Ask where it came from. The answers might surprise you... and there's nothing that says the character has to know, even if you do.

Tip #2: Who Taught You To Control Your Powers?

Magic is something sorcerers are born with. Just because you're born with a talent, though, that doesn't mean you know how to refine it, and control it. You could be a self-taught sorcerer, succeeding in mastering magic through trial-and-error, reading treatises on arcane theory, and finding unique strategies that work for you.

That's not the only option, though.

While a sorcerer's talents are in-born, that doesn't mean they won't see success by studying under more experienced magic users. Whether they find a tutor, or they attend an academy specifically for sorcerers to learn about and understand their unique powers, it's important to ask how your sorcerer reached adulthood without their gifts causing them permanent damage, or turning them into a bogeyman in their home town... unless, of course, that is something you want to have in your backstory.

Tip #3: What Is Your Profession?

Magic is something you have as a sorcerer, but it doesn't really tell us what you do for a living. It's a powerful resource, and there are hundreds of different occupations that would be glad to have your arcane talents at their disposal. For example, if you had a lot of ranks in Knowledge (Arcana), would you be able to take a teaching or research position at an institute of higher learning? Especially since, if you follow the blueprint in The Academic Sorcerer, you are a living testament to how magic can weave through a person's very being. Or, if you felt your powers were granted to you by a higher power, you might choose to be more like The Sacred Sorcerer, who is a priest before he's a sorcerer.

So take a moment, and ask who your sorcerer works for... or at least what ends they turn their talents toward. Are they an enforcer for a crime family? An freelance exorcist who deals with infestations of undead? A demon hunter? Or do they act as a bodyguard to caravans, or merchant ships who are plagued by pirates? The possibilities are endless.

Tip #4: What Is Your Charisma Like?

Sorcerers, as a rule, cast their spells off their Charisma score. The more powerful their Charisma is, the more powerful their magic becomes. However, Charisma is one of those slippery stats that is hard to pin down. On the one hand, Charisma can involve your physical appearance. But it's also your magnetism, your force of personality, and in some cases your otherworldliness.

The stereotypical sorcerer is beautiful/handsome, yes, but they're typically depicted as physically slight, and even weak. But is that how your power manifests? If you draw power from the Abyss, then would you have a frightening countenance, and a strangely-proportioned body to match? If your bloodline comes from the celestial realms, do you have eyes the color of crystals that seem to see forever? If the power of undeath runs in your veins, is your heartbeat slower than it should be? Or is your skin pale, or cool to the touch?

Sorcerers are strange, and possess powers rarely seen. Ask how that power manifests in their appearance, their demeanor, and what people notice about them.

Tip #5: What Experience Have You Had With Your Magic?

Being born with magic is an experience few people have, and that capability can shape them in unexpected ways. For example, if sorcerers run in your family, did it take until you were an adult to realize your powers were truly unusual? Or did you have to hide your abilities, or face scorn, ridicule, and vicious rumors as people tried to blame you for everything from natural disasters to poor crop yields? Alternatively, were you taken from your parents by the state, and trained to put your powers to use for the government?

Being a sorcerer affects you in little ways, as well as big ones. For example, If you were a Stormborn sorcerer, when was the first time you charged an item with electrical energy? Or if you were a Boreal sorcerer, did you ever pick up your table knife, only to find it coursing with frost? Did you have party tricks you tried to do to make your friends laugh? Or was using magic for you so natural that you sometimes forgot other people were not born with the same gifts you have?

Neal Litherland
Neal Litherland

Neal Litherland is an author, freelance blogger, and RPG designer. A regular on the Chicago convention circuit, he works in a variety of genres.

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5 Tips For Playing Better Sorcerers