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Old 08-04-2014, 06:42 PM   #1
Disliker of the mary sue
 
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Default Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

Hm I been thinking about this as I consider the day my halfling warrior dies of poorly thought out planning on his sheet, is the fact that Wizards can not use armor without it effecting their ability to use magic just an arbitrary rule for those rpgs with those rules so they don't completely dominate the game? Or does it have precedent in fantasy fiction as a standard trope of sorts?
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Old 08-04-2014, 06:47 PM   #2
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Default Re: Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

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Hm I been thinking about this as I consider the day my halfling warrior dies of poorly thought out planning on his sheet, is the fact that Wizards can not use armor without it effecting their ability to use magic just an arbitrary rule for those rpgs with those rules so they don't completely dominate the game? Or does it have precedent in fantasy fiction as a standard trope of sorts?
The source seems to be the original edition of D&D, which says that magic users cannot use the magic armor and shields of fighters. It doesn't actually seem to say that they can't use mundane armor and shields, but all the GMs I encountered back in the seventies took it so.

Wizards in fantasy fiction often didn't wear armor, but that was because they mostly weren't soldiers. In fact in traditional sword and sorcery wizards were usually adversaries for the mighty-thewed barbarian heroes, who might not wear armor either.

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Old 08-04-2014, 06:48 PM   #3
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Default Re: Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

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Hm I been thinking about this as I consider the day my halfling warrior dies of poorly thought out planning on his sheet, is the fact that Wizards can not use armor without it effecting their ability to use magic just an arbitrary rule for those rpgs with those rules so they don't completely dominate the game? Or does it have precedent in fantasy fiction as a standard trope of sorts?
Neither Merlin nor Gandalf are typically depicted as heavily armored.
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Old 08-04-2014, 06:53 PM   #4
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Default Re: Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

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Neither Merlin nor Gandalf are typically depicted as heavily armored.
Heavy armor was largely absent in LoTR, and Merlin was, well, a royal adviser, not a soldier.
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:01 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

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Heavy armor was largely absent in LoTR, and Merlin was, well, a royal adviser, not a soldier.
Sure, but there's hardly any examples of spell-casting fantasy wizards prior to D&D at all. Prospero and the Weird Ladies also don't wear any armor.
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:15 PM   #6
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Sure, but there's hardly any examples of spell-casting fantasy wizards prior to D&D at all. Prospero and the Weird Ladies also don't wear any armor.
Elric of Melniboné. Sheelba of the Seven Eyes and Ningauble of the Eyeless Face.

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Old 08-04-2014, 07:20 PM   #7
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Default Re: Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

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Elric of Melniboné.
Which is clearly one of the inspirations for Pathfinder's Magus class. I'm just saying there's obviously a source for the robes and pointy hat wizard that predates D&D.
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:26 PM   #8
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Default Re: Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

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Which is clearly one of the inspirations for Pathfinder's Magus class. I'm just saying there's obviously a source for the robes and pointy hat wizard that predates D&D.
Yes. Especially with astrological symbols embroidered on the robe it is the get-up of a mediaeval doctor.

Likewise with potions made of weird ingredients, magical incantations in obsolete languages, slips of paper with magical words and diagrams on them worn as amulets, gathering ingredients and making potions at astrologically-defined times and while repeating incantations in obsolete languages, etc.

Medicine has come a long way since Semmelweiss and Lister.
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Old 08-04-2014, 07:27 PM   #9
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Default Re: Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

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Which is clearly one of the inspirations for Pathfinder's Magus class. I'm just saying there's obviously a source for the robes and pointy hat wizard that predates D&D.
Sure. But there are two different concepts here: The wizard who doesn't go around in armor, and the wizard who is not allowed to wear armor. Or use weapons. Does your mage not pick up that sword because he hasn't been trained to use it, or because it's magically impossible for him to do so, or because his magic will desert him if he messes with weapons? Gandalf, at least, was a pretty impressive swordsman. Or swordsmaia.

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Old 08-04-2014, 10:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Is The trope that wizards can't use armor just an arbitrary limitation?

Can't speak to original D&D, but AD&D's first edition specified that metallic armors were incompatible with higher magics. They also claimed that mailed gauntlets would interfere with the subtle gestures needed to case spells.
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