Most Spellcasters in the Source Material are NPCs

This is tangentially related to the whole martial/caster disparity/balance issue, but I feel like it's interesting and noteworthy enough to discuss separately.

I've been thinking a lot about the suggestion for "mythic" level martial characters lately.  I've been remembering/refreshing myself on a lot of source material for D&D's classes and enjoying assigning classes to various characters.  I've seen lots of examples of Figthers (Gilgamesh, Beowulf, Siegfried, Achilles, Cuchulainn, Gimli, Conan, Fafhrd, John Carter, etc.), Rogues (Odysseus, Gray Mouser, arguably Hunahpu and Xbalanque depending on how literal you believe their resurrection tricks were, Reynard the Fox, Bilbo, Ali Baba, etc.), and even spell-less Rangers (Aragorn--well, ok, he could do minor rituals--Robin Hood, Richard Rahl, Monster-Slayer and He-Who-Cuts-the-Life-from-the-Enemy).

Then I began musing on the spellcasters in myth/legend and fiction.  But I realized something--the super strong spellcaster that outdoes the "martials" in all ways absolutely exists in fiction, but pretty much never as a protagonist.  

Almost every example of a spellcaster (and for that matter, super-awesome craftsman, but that's a conversation for another time) I can find in myth/legend or even just in pop culture fall into one of three categories:

1) The character has full blown NPC status, where they fulfill, essentially, the magical helper role in the Heroes' Journey.  They help the hero, but are not heroes themselves.  They are wildly more powerful than the main characters, but unable to fill the non-spellcaster's heroic role for reasons that may or may not make much sense.  For example: Gandalf, Merlin, Allanon, Aslan, Spider Woman (in the Diné Bahaneʼ)

2) The character exists in a setting in which all major characters have supernatural powers, so, there aren't really any martial characters to compare them to.  Examples:  Harry Potter, Harry Dresden (mostly--the cop isn't supernatural, but she's pretty much the only character that matters who isn't), most Anime

3) The character exists in fiction written specifically for D&D, so it conforms to the expectations of the game.  Examples: Raistlin, Elminster

To be honest, the only examples I could come up with of a spellcaster filling the role of a co-protagonist with otherwise martial characters are from:

A) The TV show Legend of the Seeker (yes, I know it's based on the Sword of Truth books, but having seen the show and not read the books, I don't want to misrepresent anything).  Zed is portrayed as a powerful wizard, but he is often neutralized via mundane means and his spells appear to have unusual restrictions and limitations that lead to the cast utilizing a "martial" solution to most problems (with Zed mostly just throwing fire around).

B) Ged from Earthsea is kind of a weird blend of 1 and 2 above as well as a co-protagonist.  But his story was written specifically to protagonize characters like Merlin or Gandalf and give the history of how they got to be these uber powerful figures in others' heroic stories.

Am I incorrect?  Can anyone else come up with an example that involves a spellcaster and a non-spellcaster that are equally protagonized?
What you say is true. But how do you handle that in a game? Do you make PC spellcasters adhere to stricter limitations than NPC spellcasters, so that PCs are never actually stronger than NPCs in the world? Do you make all casting classes NPCs, and make the game mundane characters with NPC helpers only? Or do you make it so every player character is magical in one way or another?


Because obviously the old model doesn't work, not with any semblance of balance at least. I can't think of many people being happy with any of the alternatives I listed.
The first counterexample that springs to mind is Simon R. Green's Nightside series. John Taylor is the very high-magic protagonist, while 'Shotgun' Suzie is his emphatically non-magical (and extremely badass but still objectively much less powerful) action girl companion.

"My flying carpet is full of elves."

Am I incorrect?  Can anyone else come up with an example that involves a spellcaster and a non-spellcaster that are equally protagonized?

Tarma and Kethry, for one.  Garion is one of three spellcasters in a party primarily composed of non-spellcasters.

Lina and Gourry are the main protagonists, though most of the supporting party has magic.

Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser?  Never read the books, but springs to mind pretty quickly.

The metagame is not the game.

Am I incorrect?  Can anyone else come up with an example that involves a spellcaster and a non-spellcaster that are equally protagonized?


You seem to be entirely correct.  I cannot come up with an example that counters what you said.

I do feel that there is one other class of magic-martial interaction that you have missed (and I will elaborate).  Although, it doesn't really change things much.  The kind of interaction I'm talking about is seen in the TV Show Supernatural, where the bulk of magic is ritualized; everyone can use magic if they have the right symbols, words, and components, even if they never had magical training or didn't intend to use real magic.  You can even skimp on the components a bit, as seen in this quote:


Sam: (about the supplies for a séance) "Dude, alright. I'll admit we've gone pretty ghetto with spellwork before, but this takes the cake. I mean, a SpongeBob placemat instead of an altar cloth?"
Dean: "Well, just put it SpongeBob side down."



Really, the only non-ritual magic in the show is the powers of witches who, in the Supernatural universe, get their powers from demons.  Even they usually need rituals, and hex-bags, to do more than magically throw people around.  In a way, this blurs the line between your points #2 and letter A.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

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Save the breasts.

What you say is true. But how do you handle that in a game? Do you make PC spellcasters adhere to stricter limitations than NPC spellcasters, so that PCs are never actually stronger than NPCs in the world? Do you make all casting classes NPCs, and make the game mundane characters with NPC helpers only? Or do you make it so every player character is magical in one way or another?

Personally, I've houseruled things to conform to one of those last two suggestions--all the PCs are spellcasters or none of them are.

My unpopular, lazy suggestion would be denoting all the casting classes as being NPC only.

The more difficult, and better path, though, is to figure out how a wizard like Zed works in the party and do that.  I also think 1e and 2e were a lot better balanced on the caster/martial disparity thing, but so many things changed in 3rd, it's hard to pin point exactly what change is to blame.

The first counterexample that springs to mind is Simon R. Green's Nightside series. John Taylor is the very high-magic protagonist, while 'Shotgun' Suzie is his emphatically non-magical (and extremely badass but still objectively much less powerful) action girl companion.

I'll look into this, as I'm not familiar with it, but calling her his companion suggests to me she's not really a "PC" in the story, either, but rather a cohort or something.

Tarma and Kethry, for one.  Garion is one of three spellcasters in a party primarily composed of non-spellcasters.

Lina and Gourry are the main protagonists, though most of the supporting party has magic.

Fafhrd and The Gray Mouser?  Never read the books, but springs to mind pretty quickly.


I'll look into those first few, but I am fairly sure that neither Fafhrd nor Gray Mouser were spellcasters.

What you say is true. But how do you handle that in a game? Do you make PC spellcasters adhere to stricter limitations than NPC spellcasters, so that PCs are never actually stronger than NPCs in the world? Do you make all casting classes NPCs, and make the game mundane characters with NPC helpers only? Or do you make it so every player character is magical in one way or another?


Because obviously the old model doesn't work, not with any semblance of balance at least. I can't think of many people being happy with any of the alternatives I listed.


I believe the point is not that PC spellcasters have to obey tighter restrictions than NPC casters.  Instead, I believe it's that NPCs are plot elements that can break the rules as needed by the DM.  The PC casters may be able to do this too, but it should only be something that comes up when the DM says it does.  PCs' regularly available abilities shouldn't be built with the assumption of the plot-busting power of NPCs who can break the rules for the sake of the plot.

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Many Jack Vance novels
Many of Andre Norton's Witchworld novels
Master of Five Magics (Lyndon Hardy)
Riddlemaster of Hed (Paticia McKillip)
Forgotten Beasts of Eld (another by McKillip)
Perhaps Orson Scott Card's Alvin the Maker series?
There are some counter-examples. The majority of the different variations of the Eternal Champion for example are fairly magically adept, and are certainly protagonists in the vast majority of those stories. None of them are easily classifiable as equivalent to a D&D wizard, though at least in principle you could handle characters on the order of an Elric.

There are other hard to classify examples from myth. Caucasian heroes for instance, or Vainamoinen. Some of these fall into the hero-craftsman category, but they could be considered 'magically adept', though possibly at least as much 'fighter' as 'magic user'.

I think there's a decent grey area there. OTOH the essential point is cogent. Vance aside there's very little literary support for the D&D 'blaster wizard' that runs around instantly casting lethal spells and powerful instantaneous utility magic. Literary magic on the other hand really IS genuinely not often all that useful in an adventuring sense. You wouldn't be able to really play a Merlin, who's main shtick is foretelling future events, or one of the heroic craftsman types, etc. Others it is hard to say much about, as we are really never given much indication of what exactly they can do or how they do it.

D&D wizards aren't ENTIRELY outside of what is depicted in literature, but they are certainly largely a reinterpretation of the main sources in a way that suites them to be adventuring protagonists. There's just not much other way it could be. If the wizard can't whip up a spell to help win a fight or overcome an obstacle without elaborate preparation then they simply aren't going to be compatible adventuring companions for PC fighters and etc.

There are few alternatives. I'd think about the only other viable one would be something sort of like Ars Magica. Perhaps a bit different, something where the wizard is a player controlled resource but the PCs are your non-magical guys and the 'wizard' is more of a resource you go to offstage that helps out the main characters, etc. Something like that can probably be devised, but it would certainly be fairly different from any edition of D&D.

I'm simply not convinced there's a really good alternative that isn't some variation on what 4e has done, which is both make magic a bit less open-ended, relegate the most plot significant aspects of it to higher levels and/or rituals, and provide structure for the process of making non-casters into fantastic heroes at higher levels. It works. Of course D&D has become a cultural entity saddled with a rather large and amazingly hide-bound fan base. 5e seems to be struggling hard to keep the majority of the 4e solution in some form. I don't know if even that will manage to get past the "grognards" or not.
That is not dead which may eternal lie
Legend of Korra is currently doing a good job of keeping the mundanes and the magical characters on an equal footing. Asami is the only person without powers in the main character group, but with her electrical glove-thing is kicking tons of ass. Avatar the Last Airbender did a decent job as well. Sokka was never all that useful until maybe the very end of the show, but character like Suki, Mai, and Tai Li were pretty awesomely strong mundanes in that world. They did it by giving the mundanes distinctive styles of which they were masters, and letting them do cool stuff that in the real world is obviously not possible. This is similar to the approach 4e takes, actually, and works pretty well IMO.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
Legend of Korra is currently doing a good job of keeping the mundanes and the magical characters on an equal footing. Asami is the only person without powers in the main character group, but with her electrical glove-thing is kicking tons of ass.


Isn't that basically like answering the caster/non-caster power problem by giving non-casters magic items and pretending they don't have magical powers?

There are a great many problems that can be circumvented by players and DMs having a mature discussion about what the game is going to be like before they ever sit down together to play.

 

The answer really does lie in more options, not in confining and segregating certain options.

 

You really shouldn't speak for others.  You can't hear what someone else is saying when you try to put your words in their mouth.

 

Fencing & Swashbuckling as Armor.

D20 Modern Toon PC Race.

Mecha Pilot's Skill Challenge Emporium.

 

Save the breasts.

Sokka was actually addressed in a later Avatar episode when he started feeling left out and useless compared to the benders. Then he went to a baddass teacher, took a couple levels in badass, and almost singlehandedly managed to take down the Fire Nations' airship fleet.

On a related note,(all out of the show, Word of God stuff) his teacher Piandao was a major abdass in his own right, managing to rank pretty high in an army made up of Firebenders. Then he left the army and retired in a mansion. The army then sent about 100 firebender soldiers to forcefully take him back to the army. He didn't go back to the army.
Mercedes Lackey does this in a few books.

Tarma and Kethry (from the Vows and Honor series)
Karal/Everyone else (Karal is a priest, who does have the ability to communicate directly with a deity; but his only controlled supernatural power is a talent known as Channeling, which basically lets him act as an amplifier for a mage.  from the Mage Storms trilogy.)

Margaret Weis/Tracy Hickman in the Darksword Trilogy arguably did this; Father Saryon, a main character, has effectively no magic except as an amplifier.  Joram has no magic at all.  (I say it's 'arguably' done because the fact that Joram has no magic is extremely strange for the setting, and is a major plot point.  He is, however, absolutely a nonmagical protagonist.)

Margaret Weis again in Star of the Guardians; Mendaharin Tusca has no significant supernatural powers and is a main character.  (The other three main characters do have significant supernatural powers.)


And that's all the counterexamples that are currently on my desk.  The original topic is absolutely correct, however; the vast majority of spellcasters in fantasy are super-powered NPCs or exist in a world where every major character is a spellcaster, and only rarely share a spotlight with a nonspellcaster.
The difference between madness and genius is determined only by degrees of success.
Legend of Korra is currently doing a good job of keeping the mundanes and the magical characters on an equal footing. Asami is the only person without powers in the main character group, but with her electrical glove-thing is kicking tons of ass.


Isn't that basically like answering the caster/non-caster power problem by giving non-casters magic items and pretending they don't have magical powers?


I haven't yet seen Legend of Korra, but I know Ty Lee was a pretty impressive nonbender, and was really skilled in a fighting style where she would hit them in the right palces to shut off their bending temporarily.
Legend of Korra is currently doing a good job of keeping the mundanes and the magical characters on an equal footing. Asami is the only person without powers in the main character group, but with her electrical glove-thing is kicking tons of ass.


Isn't that basically like answering the caster/non-caster power problem by giving non-casters magic items and pretending they don't have magical powers?

Also note that for many of those characters, like Ty Lee and the antagonists in Legend of Korra, the reason they can compete is because they can turn off someone's bending.

It'd be like handling the problem by making sword blows leave an anti-magic aura behind.
It's also worth noting that Avatar magic is much more limited than any version of D&D. Benders can do cool things, but they don't have anything on a full wizard of moderate level. This makes it much easier for badass normals to compete.
Legend of Korra is currently doing a good job of keeping the mundanes and the magical characters on an equal footing. Asami is the only person without powers in the main character group, but with her electrical glove-thing is kicking tons of ass.


Isn't that basically like answering the caster/non-caster power problem by giving non-casters magic items and pretending they don't have magical powers?


It is a little bit, except in this setting the electricity glove is very clearly a "mundane" power, specifically designed to give mundanes an edge over magical people. Its more of a specialized weapon of choice than a magical item. The characters in Avatar are perhaps better examples, using special techniques like Suki's Kyoshi Warrior training or Tai Li's chi-blocking to even things out against magical opponents.
"So shall it be! Dear-bought those songs shall be be accounted, and yet shall be well-bought. For the price could be no other. Thus even as Eru spoke to us shall beauty not before conceived be brought into Eä, and evil yet be good to have been." - Manwë, High King of the Valar
Don't forget Dr. Strange from Marvel comics.  And over on the DC side Dr. Fate & Zatana.

There's your PC wizards in action, right along side every other PC type. 
No love for Pug of Crydee, from Raymond E Feist's Riftwar Saga? He's definitely of epic power by the end of the main arc in which he is a protagonist and he fights alongside non-wizards as peers (especially Tomas, who gets his epic level powers from a different source). However, he and Tomas both outstrip many other characters in a way which could be seen as characterising the difference between 'cinematic' and 'realistic' action for both their putative classes.

Garion is an interesting example. Eddings characterises all the party members well, and I'd hate to suggest that someone like Silk/Kheldar is not a PC. But Garion, Belgarath and Polgara are, as magic-users, in a Harry Potter category which makes them just better than the rest. As with the previous example, those with massive epic powers (whether wizardly or not, whether NPC-type or not) are simply in a different power bracket than the rest.

For me, this runs back to the question of modularity. I'm keen to see modules to enable both realistic and cinematic high-level play. But I'd like for those modules to be compatible with each other, rather than forcing a choice of tone and style on the entire campaign. I'd like to be able to run the merely-very-persuasive-and-talented Silk alongside the Godslayer Garion. I'd like to put Jimmy the Hand and the Valheru in the same scene.

Can it be done?

Z.
Terry Brooks often has strong magical characters as protagonists.

One of my favourite series is the DnD novel series War of the Spider Queen that has high powered guys going at each other.

I would guess that the reason you do not see it much is that you can not get as much character developement from a guy that is already high powered compared to a begining type character.

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I guess it's right other then Pug which was based on DnD by the way, and I see the whole group from Kridee as the Main not just the Mage. 

anyway when I was designing my story and created a Magic for the world it was not really my concern that martial characters could be compared to mages in terms of might. Still the novel is a work in progress and with constant editing. Some mages are just seers other just have illusion other than warmages most magic is none combat oriented so it's not a problem...
No love for Pug of Crydee, from Raymond E Feist's Riftwar Saga? He's definitely of epic power by the end of the main arc in which he is a protagonist and he fights alongside non-wizards as peers (especially Tomas, who gets his epic level powers from a different source). However, he and Tomas both outstrip many other characters in a way which could be seen as characterising the difference between 'cinematic' and 'realistic' action for both their putative classes.

Garion is an interesting example. Eddings characterises all the party members well, and I'd hate to suggest that someone like Silk/Kheldar is not a PC. But Garion, Belgarath and Polgara are, as magic-users, in a Harry Potter category which makes them just better than the rest. As with the previous example, those with massive epic powers (whether wizardly or not, whether NPC-type or not) are simply in a different power bracket than the rest.

For me, this runs back to the question of modularity. I'm keen to see modules to enable both realistic and cinematic high-level play. But I'd like for those modules to be compatible with each other, rather than forcing a choice of tone and style on the entire campaign. I'd like to be able to run the merely-very-persuasive-and-talented Silk alongside the Godslayer Garion. I'd like to put Jimmy the Hand and the Valheru in the same scene.

Can it be done?

Z.



Point of order, isn't Silk the only non-caster to stick with Garion through every step of his adventures (to the point where the other companion on the trip to kill Torak was Belgarath, who is generally acknowledged as the most powerful sorceror alive if Garion didn't have a pet artifact that made the Gods jealous).
Oh, Storyteller, who is He-Who-Cuts-Life-From-The-Enemy, that's a new one me? Monster Slayer is Apache or Navajo if I remember right.
Point of order, isn't Silk the only non-caster to stick with Garion through every step of his adventures (to the point where the other companion on the trip to kill Torak was Belgarath, who is generally acknowledged as the most powerful sorceror alive if Garion didn't have a pet artifact that made the Gods jealous).


I think you're right.

Of course, I should not wish to deny that Sir Mandorallen is the hardiest knight on life, and that despite his absence from the final stage of the great quest in which he engaged, he is a paragon of knighthood, foremost among gentlemen, and in no wise undeserving of the titles, styles and honours which have been bestowed upon him. *deep breath*

Ahem, I mean that just because the others don't get to go with Garion, shouldn't be taken as meaning they can't be viewed as PC-type characters, and we shouldn't disregard the epic-but-not-catstrophic nature of their skills.

Z.
Well, he did only imply that there might be some difficulty in him facing the amassed might of the Tolnedran legions singlehandly while protecting Ce'nedra. The fact he would have been victorious is indisputable, only that she might have suffered some harm under his care was cause for concern I'm sure.

Hey, this is fun. And I grew to absolutly love Sadi in the Mallorean.
I generally agree with the OP. It appears magic-users are generally more suitable to side or antagonist roles in fiction.
Soom exceptions, on top of my mind:

Literaure: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

Comics: Hellblazer, Sandman, Gravel

Movies/TV: Doctor Who (I know I'm stretching it, but come on he IS a wizard)   


             
I've actually found that spellcasters are much too powerful to fit my conceptions of fantasy in D&D.  Even, to a somewhat lesser degree, in 4e.  Yeah, I said it.  I can play a 4e Wizard and think that maybe I'm a little too much.

The Doctor


The Doctor is totally a wizard.  I figured that out after two or three episodes.  It's part of why I love him.  That, and his irrepressible charm.  Especially when played by David Tennant or Matt Smith.
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
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The Sword of Truth basically follows a path that reminds me of Celtic Era. The Martial Type in it, has war magic in his blood and its the same gifts that fuel his ability to be the seeker and in story is governed and honed by intellect ... A lot of Warlord and Barbarian mix going on.. He can inspire a berzerk state in followers that is definitely magical and martial and not duplicable by the Wizards. Basically the writer blurred the lines on purpose...The character is ultimately balanced between Intellect and Passion and physical ability is over shadowed in spite of his martial aspect. 
 
  Creative Character Build Collection and The Magic of King's and Heros  also Can Martial Characters Fly? 

Improvisation in 4e: Fave 4E Improvisations - also Wrecans Guides to improvisation beyond page 42
The Non-combatant Adventurer (aka Princess build Warlord or LazyLord)
Reality is unrealistic - and even monkeys protest unfairness
Reflavoring the Fighter : The Wizard : The Swordmage - Creative Character Collection: Bloodwright (Darksun Character) 

At full hit points and still wounded to incapacitation? you are playing 1e.
By virtue of being a player your characters are the protagonists in a heroic fantasy game even at level one
"Wizards and Warriors need abilities with explicit effects for opposite reasons. With the wizard its because you need to create artificial limits on them, they have no natural ones and for the Warrior you need to grant permission to do awesome."

 

Perhaps class abilities and features could be separated into "Adventuring" and "Nonadventuring" silos.

So the stay-at-tower wizard and the field adventurer wizard have the same spell list and spells per day but their HP and spells known are different.

Much like the 3.5 cloistered and standard clerics.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Oh, Storyteller, who is He-Who-Cuts-Life-From-The-Enemy, that's a new one me? Monster Slayer is Apache or Navajo if I remember right.

The two of them are the hero twins from the Navajo Diné Bahaneʼ.  They are born miraculously to their mother, and they travel together to find their father.  

Spider Woman tells them their father is the sun and gives them a magical charm to protect them from the four dangerous terrains they have to cross at they go.  Once there, they convince the sun that they are indeed his sons by taking advice from the Wind about defeating his tests, and ask for his help in destroying the various monsters plaguing their people.  The sun gives them chain lightning arrows, sheet lightning arrows, and sunbeam arrows and sends them on their way.

Monster-Slayer and He-Who-Cuts-Life-From-The-Enemy slay the Big Giant together by listening to the Wind on how to dodge his four dagger attacks, then shooting him with each type of arrow in turn.

Then, He-Who-Cuts-Life-From-The-Enemy stays home and guards their people while Monster-Slayer goes out to kill the others.  I suggested that they were Rangers not just because they primarily killed things with arrows and got advice from the Wind, but also because Monster-Slayer spoke with and received help from Gopher and Ground Squirrel to defeat Horned Monster (he traveled in gopher tunnels to shoot the beast from under the Earth and Ground Squirrel was willing to check the body to see if it was still dangerous).


I think one way to handle source material spellcasters is to bring back and empower NPC classes. Make a set of adventurer classes and nonadventurer classes and distribute the many class features attributed the archetypes between them.

I think the archetypal characters that we imagine in D&D are not simply members of the same class. The wizard with their stacks of spell and ritual books, a laboratory filled with magic items and arcane foci, and decades of adventuring experience is not just a wizard. The fighter who quested for a famed weapon, used it to save a kingdom, and later retired in a self made keep with his small band of loyal men is not just a fighter.

The first is a wizard who is a tough adventuring arcanist who collects spells and a mage who is a stay-at-tower arcanist who (given time) can discover spells on his own. The second is a fighter/aristocrat.

Your "wizard" can attempt to learn some of the powerful arcane spell he snagged from the lich she destroyed but it would be a very difficult process with with many all or nothing attempts and failures. But with a few levels of "mage", a few lower HD, a slower spell slot gain, and a couple months; she can copy and learn the whole thing.

So the super powerful helper wizard is not a wizard, he or she is a high level mage or mage/wizard multiclass.

Orzel, Halfelven son of Zel, Mystic Ranger, Bane to Dragons, Death to Undeath, Killer of Abyssals, King of the Wilds. Constitution Based Class for Next!

Oh, Storyteller, who is He-Who-Cuts-Life-From-The-Enemy, that's a new one me? Monster Slayer is Apache or Navajo if I remember right.

The two of them are the hero twins from the Navajo Diné Bahaneʼ.  They are born miraculously to their mother, and they travel together to find their father.  

Spider Woman tells them their father is the sun and gives them a magical charm to protect them from the four dangerous terrains they have to cross at they go.  Once there, they convince the sun that they are indeed his sons by taking advice from the Wind about defeating his tests, and ask for his help in destroying the various monsters plaguing their people.  The sun gives them chain lightning arrows, sheet lightning arrows, and sunbeam arrows and sends them on their way.

Monster-Slayer and He-Who-Cuts-Life-From-The-Enemy slay the Big Giant together by listening to the Wind on how to dodge his four dagger attacks, then shooting him with each type of arrow in turn.

Then, He-Who-Cuts-Life-From-The-Enemy stays home and guards their people while Monster-Slayer goes out to kill the others.  I suggested that they were Rangers not just because they primarily killed things with arrows and got advice from the Wind, but also because Monster-Slayer spoke with and received help from Gopher and Ground Squirrel to defeat Horned Monster (he traveled in gopher tunnels to shoot the beast from under the Earth and Ground Squirrel was willing to check the body to see if it was still dangerous).





OK. Just my fallible memory again. Its been ages since I read that tale (possibly the last time was when I saw the graphic novel for Scout: War Shaman which I believe has a condensed version in it and that was almost 15 years ago).
In all fairness, magic has many negative connections traditionally in many modern and ancient cultures. People gain supernatural powers by making deals with enigmatic otherworldly powers who care little about mankind if they are not downright evil. As such if you look at mythology you will find few protagonists that look like the spellcasters from D&D unless you look at deities and deity-like entities as the protagonist of the story (think Coyote, Thor, Loki, Zeus and so on; there are ample stories with them in the role as a "PC"). Spellcasters tend to be villains or behind the scene manipulators because that is the role of the beings that empower the spellcasters.
Spellcasters tend to be villains or behind the scene manipulators because that is the role of the beings that empower the spellcasters.



This is surely one reason for it.
Another is that 'heroes' in stories are defined by drama, and drama is a product of adversities.
Magic is generally bad for plots because it remove advesities, so making the character instantly less 'heroic'.
Still it is possible to limit magic, so that is not such an overcoming force, but that all as a result makes it less 'magical'.

I guess it is the same reason why it's easier to come up with interesting stories with Peter Parker or Bruce Wayne as protagonists instead of Clark Kent. By all means not impossible, just a bit togher.
Harry Dresden (mostly--the cop isn't supernatural, but she's pretty much the only character that matters who isn't)




Waldo Butters
Michael Carpenter(a paladin, but not a caster)
Charity Carpenter (Used to be a caster but gave it up and is now a pure fighter)
Sanya (a paladin, but not a caster)
Karin Murphy
Father Forthill
Johnny Marcone
Hendricks

None of them are casters.  A couple of them have magic items.
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Michael doesn't even have the magic weapon anymore, but his family does enjoy protection perks for him having been such a good wielder of the sword for so long.

All of them contribute to the story in their own way.  Dresden himself regularly needs these people's help because he can't do everything on his own.  He has a daily limit on what he can do, and personal limits on what he can do (Specializes in evocation, and thaumaturgy, but fine control has always been a problem for him so his illusions hardly ever work, moreover he is somewhat restricted by his foci, and what he is prepared for).  Every so often he digs past these limitations but often at great personal cost to himself.  In my mind dresden is sorta the best example of what a wizard should be like.

 
Harry Dresden (mostly--the cop isn't supernatural, but she's pretty much the only character that matters who isn't)




Waldo Butters
Michael Carpenter(a paladin, but not a caster)
Charity Carpenter (Used to be a caster but gave it up and is now a pure fighter)
Sanya (a paladin, but not a caster)
Karin Murphy
Father Forthill
Johnny Marcone
Hendricks

None of them are casters.  A couple of them have magic items.
Show
Michael doesn't even have the magic weapon anymore, but his family does enjoy protection perks for him having been such a good wielder of the sword for so long.

All of them contribute to the story in their own way.  Dresden himself regularly needs these people's help because he can't do everything on his own.  He has a daily limit on what he can do, and personal limits on what he can do (Specializes in evocation, and thaumaturgy, but fine control has always been a problem for him so his illusions hardly ever work, moreover he is somewhat restricted by his foci, and what he is prepared for).  Every so often he digs past these limitations but often at great personal cost to himself.  In my mind dresden is sorta the best example of what a wizard should be like.

 


The Carpenters, especially Michael are supernatural, as is Sanya.  Note that, as a not-D&D fiction, the Dresden Files includes supernaturals who are not explicitly spellcasters.  
Seriously, though, you should check out the PbP Haven. You might also like Real Adventures, IF you're cool.
Knights of W.T.F.- Silver Spur Winner
4enclave, a place where 4e fans can talk 4e in peace.

The Carpenters, especially Michael are supernatural, as is Sanya.  Note that, as a not-D&D fiction, the Dresden Files includes supernaturals who are not explicitly spellcasters.  



Seconded. The magic is subtle, but its definitely there. It is divine magic, though, if that matters. Sanya counts, too.

Concerning Butters...sure, he contributes, but its a different kind of contribution. Any way you slice it, Butters is solidly an NPC (who went along with Harry for...Dead Beat, i think?). Also, he's not a PC because he cannot die, because....polka will never die!

Forthill is the same thing. He gives aid and shelter, but how often does he go out there and kick ass? Never. Solidly an NPC.

Gold is for the mistress, silver for the maid

Copper for the craftsman, cunning at his trade.

"Good!" said the Baron, sitting in his hall,

"But Iron -- Cold Iron -- is master of them all." -Kipling

 

Miss d20 Modern? Take a look at Dias Ex Machina Game's UltraModern 4e!

 

57019168 wrote:
I am a hero, not a chump.
A series to consider is the 'Malazan Book of the Fallen' by Steven Erikson and the related books by Ian Esslemont in the same setting.  Their are examples of nearly any type of Supernatural or Otherworldly power in abundance, and heavy emphasis on mundane Characters who must either confront or bypass some of these.  In the series it is even possible for 'mundane' characters to achieve a type of 'Ascendant' status, whereby they have achieved a Supernatural state.  For a low-tech/high-magic setting I think it gives some great examples of how various 'levels' of power interact with each other.
Pretty much ALL of the Pathfinder novels feature equal protagonists.

Even the bards are on par. ;) 

Danny

No love for Pug of Crydee, from Raymond E Feist's Riftwar Saga? He's definitely of epic power by the end of the main arc in which he is a protagonist and he fights alongside non-wizards as peers (especially Tomas, who gets his epic level powers from a different source). However, he and Tomas both outstrip many other characters in a way which could be seen as characterising the difference between 'cinematic' and 'realistic' action for both their putative classes.



I love the Riftwar, but it is clearly not an example of what the OP is asking for. Pug stands next to a melee guy, sure. But Thomas isn't a mundane, he's far from it. I mean, Thomas is practically a demigod in terms of power (see: Valheru history. See later: Thomas fighting an aspect of a god of Battle to a standstill). 

Sure you have Arutha and Jimmy and other non-epic characters front and center in the story, but when we're focusing on their stories, Pug, Thomas, and other epic characters assume NPC status, giving information or magical support, but being otherwise distracted from solving the problem themselves. You don't see Pug traveling with Arutha to Armengar, you see Arutha, Jimmy, Martin, Locklear, and that hill tribe guy whose name I can't remember going. All of whom are in the more realistic realm of power, none of whom have any magic at all. When Pug's story comes back into focus, everyone he's interracting with are epic powered characters, whether it be Thomas, Miranda, Macros, Nakor, etc, everyone that is a part of his story is on his power level. He doesn't just grab Jimmy and take him along to fight the Demon King, because he knows that would be suicide for that character.


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The only exception I can think of is at the end of the Riftwar Saga where they're fighting under Sethanon, and Arutha is there. Even for that, Arutha is there partly because of prophecy, and Arutha gets to face off against one guy 1v1 with a magic weapon (provided by one of the spellcasters 5 minutes earlier), while all of the epic characters are otherwise preoccupied (Macros and Pug trying to hold off the Valheru from breaking through, Thomas and the Dragon fighting off Draken Korin and the Void thing), basically fitting into the same mold as above, each character is doing something within their own story that fits their capabilities, but the mundane guy still isn't really helping on the grand epic scale that the others are
Harry Dresden (mostly--the cop isn't supernatural, but she's pretty much the only character that matters who isn't)




Waldo Butters
Michael Carpenter(a paladin, but not a caster)
Charity Carpenter (Used to be a caster but gave it up and is now a pure fighter)
Sanya (a paladin, but not a caster)
Karin Murphy
Father Forthill
Johnny Marcone
Hendricks

None of them are casters.  A couple of them have magic items.
Show
Michael doesn't even have the magic weapon anymore, but his family does enjoy protection perks for him having been such a good wielder of the sword for so long.

All of them contribute to the story in their own way.  Dresden himself regularly needs these people's help because he can't do everything on his own.  He has a daily limit on what he can do, and personal limits on what he can do (Specializes in evocation, and thaumaturgy, but fine control has always been a problem for him so his illusions hardly ever work, moreover he is somewhat restricted by his foci, and what he is prepared for).  Every so often he digs past these limitations but often at great personal cost to himself.  In my mind dresden is sorta the best example of what a wizard should be like.

 




They all help contribute to the story, but the story in unequivocally Dresden's - they are helpers. It works great for the story, and it is interesting seeing all their interactions and places where a character that hasn't done much comes out and has a presence for a bit, but that is radically not the scenario one could apply to a dnd game.

When you sit down with the players at a dnd game, everyone is the main character - there really shouldn't be much differentiation of importance between the players. The major goal of the game - as with any game - is so that each player has a roughly equal impact on the game, whether through combat or socializing or utility or what. That's the problem: you can't have your casters be the powerful mages from literature while keeping your mundanes as realistic as possible and have both exist in the same party.
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