Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Why the Weird Wizard Garb

Which is the Wizard and which is the Apprentice?

I recently started painting these 3D prints (part of a set called Civilians Pack 2 from The Makers Cult) to pull double duty as Casters for Grim Dark Future and as a Wizard and Apprentice for a warband in Frostgrave. As these sculpts bear some resemblance to the burka, which is a garment women are required to wear in public due to social and religious reasons in certain Islamic countries, it got me to thinking about a world-build in which arcane spell  casters wore clothing that covered them head to foot.

While it would be easy to simply hand wave it away by saying it is a traditional garb of wizards or that it is required by law, I am much more interested in why wizards would choose to wear such garb. To that end, I offer six reasons (so that one can roll a d6 to allow some randomness in a world-build):

1. The ritual to obtain the ability to cast arcane spells badly burns/scars the recipient. In order to avoid such scars from hindering everyday interactions with other people, they choose to cover themselves to hide the burns/scars.

2. In order to gain the ability to cast arcane spells, a caster must get various tattoos all over their body. While not necessarily something that could cause a disruption to social mores, visible tattoos would give other casters the ability to cancel spells without having to use a spell slot.

3. Wizards are an alien race. While they are similar enough to pass as human (or whatever race the PC/NPC pretends to be), any close contact would reveal the reality and cause trouble. So, they wear the coverings to avoid such discovery.

4. The process of memorizing spells requires that the spell be written on the skin of the wizard. Should another spell caster see this writing, they could cast the spell as a scroll and the original wizard would lose that spell slot. Wizards took to wearing this garb to prevent that from happening.

5. The nature of arcane magic causes the caster to see a mirror image of themselves in the targets of their spells. This can cause enough of a disruption (epecially with offensive spells) that the spell fails. Wizards took to wearing such garb to dehumanize their reflections so as to be able to successfully cast their spells.

6. The casting of arcane spells is an intentional subversion of reality that physically manifests in the person of a wizard. Should someone who is not trained to deal with such things witness a wizard cast a spell, the experience can cause a rift in the soul of that witness. Such rifts risk the possibility of a demon being able to step through. Therefore, in order to prevent their craft from wrecking havoc on the general public, wizards strictly police themselves — especially in the wearing of garb which covers them head to foot.

Have any others we can add to the list?


ScrivenerB said...

Perhaps even an image of a sorcerer is sufficient to serve as a targeting mechanism for hostile, a rationale for hiding oneself similar to what might serve to explain the burning of trimmed hair and fingernails.

Crouchback said...

A couple more possibilities -

Wizards are albinos, either as a result of working magic or because all capable of working magic are albinos. They hide their skin to avoid sunburn.

Using magic warps a wizard over time, resulting in unnatural features. Wizards dress to hide those features - or alternately hide lack of those features as a normal appearance would imply an inexperienced wizard. Note that the old D&D Lankhmar rules and Oriental Adventures had rules for wizard being warped by magic.