Sean was originally going to be the one to do this post, but he passed it on to me since apparently I like mages more than he does. Or to pay me back for throwing up on his shoes. I’m not so clear on that.
The stereotype that gets played up a lot of the mage is the bookish, quiet wizard-type. Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, but there’s a wealth of character ideas that could be used in place of that to give a bit of variety to the classic ideas of the different classes.
The Shaister. Back in the day, this character probably made his/her living through cons, frauds and, very possibly, blatant theft. At some point or another, however, they decided they could do so much better at life by being so much more Big about it. They learned a little magic, and flim-flammed their way through the cities by making it look like they knew a lot more than they really did. They talk loud, act loud – no one is unaware that they’re around when they enter the room. Few people doubt that they can live up to their promises, because surely no one would strut like that if they didn’t have the ability to back it up. Now, maybe they’re doing more serious mage training because they know where it can take them. Maybe they’re on the run. Maybe they’re just looking for better ways to draw in suckers. Who knows? Maybe not even them. (Spec: While a case can be made for Fire, because it’s big, flashy and you can’t miss it, I’d lean Arcane. A lot of clever, misleading things can be done with Arcane magic, and the Shaister would revel in that.)
The Bitter Old Maid. When she was younger, she never really thought too much about finding someone and getting married – there were other things at hand – training, housework – and she always assumed the fairy tale ending would come along some time or another. Maybe she even had someone for a while, but you know how it is, always something else to do. Well, now she’s well past her prime, her young man’s long given up, and she’s long known that she’s never going to get that fairy tale ending. Who would want some old bag like her? She may well be a good person, but there’s always that hint of bitterness and cynicism. No longer does she believe in love, or romance, or any of that garbage. She’ll help those less fortunate, and she’ll do it without complaining, but don’t get her started on the wrong topics. She chose magic over the life she dreamed of, but don’t dare suggest she made the wrong choice. (Spec: Virtually any of the three could work – the point isn’t so much how she specs so much as that she’s spent her whole life dedicated to it.)
The Mansel in Distress. He’s smart and he’s very good at what he does, but he’s just not as tough as the others. Even the resident Priest manages to deflect damage and keep him or herself more or less safe. The Mansel in Distress is increasingly under the opinion that on the Manly Hero scale of one to ten, he generously ranks about a negative three, and what’s worse, if he’s part of a group of adventurers, the enemy knows it too. It’s not the love interest who’s copping all the abuse from the villains in his story… no, no, it’s always him, and he always has to face the most ridiculous one-liners when the Hero steps in to divert attention away from him. That’s not to say he couldn’t deal with the enemies – he packs quite a punch, magically, but he’s a total glass cannon. (Spec: Fire. He’s a heavy-hitter, when he can manage to get in there, and that’s fire all over.)