The Wise Old Man (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wise_old_man) is one of my favorite literary archetypes when it is…

The Wise Old Man (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wise_old_man) is one of my favorite literary archetypes when it is…

The Wise Old Man (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wise_old_man) is one of my favorite literary archetypes when it is used to imply mystical importance and background in the setting. Good examples are Merlin, Gandolf, Obi-Wan, Yoda, Dr Quest.

Sometimes they are famous and renowned, other times they are in disguise and unassuming. For some reason they are always near the center of important conflicts and help the heroes to get started, understand what is going on and occasionally escape when things get out of hand. They also serve as teachers, mentors, employers and guides. They help introduce characters and the audience to the settings history and important characters. As a GM the Wise Old Man NPC can be a huge help and become a favorite of the party. Just watch out for the temptation to use them as a GM insertion character or a railroading tool. There is a reason Gandolf keeps disappearing and doesn’t just lightning bolt everything in the party‚Äôs path.

I created the attached Dungeon World character sheet a while ago, in part as a counter to the Mage class, which at the time I was not a fan off. It was also supposed to be a Low magic setting replacement for the Wizard. I wanted a character whose main purpose was to know things. Insead of casting magic missile, they would solve problems and help the party by explaining historical context or revealing arcane knowledge. Knowing an ancient elven password, or how to speak to horses, or producing a rare powder from your robes can be a very cool way to get past an obstacle and let the party know how resourceful you are. I also wanted to make the ritual move more appealing. Of course there is no reason you could not play this type of character with the stock wizard but I wanted to remove the temptation to burn everything down or charm everyone.

The GM might chose to share extra knowledge of their setting with the Wise Old Man Player or work together with them outside the game to establish history and background but it is not necessary. GMs and players should always work together to establish the setting. The Wise Old Man just has a different, personal, perspective on what is revealed. I have played it a couple times in other players games with great success. I would hesitate to allow one in the same party as a wizard or mage though as I would expect a lot of toes to get stepped on. Let me know what you think and please tell me what happens if you try it out.

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1AmLoOc3RXrEq4mLHpMS1k6oGmZfp1mrv

8 thoughts on “The Wise Old Man (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wise_old_man) is one of my favorite literary archetypes when it is…”

  1. I love this! It’s one of my favorite archetypes too. Tell us about your experience playing it? Was it tricky? Did you feel wiser after a session?

  2. I love this! It’s one of my favorite archetypes too. Tell us about your experience playing it? Was it tricky? Did you feel wiser after a session?

  3. It can be a bit tricky, especially if the party relies on you to be a powerful battle mage. Just start swinging your staff and remind the fighter character that he is hiding behind an old man.

    Wiser? not really, especially not after the session where I got my head caved in sticking it out of a hole trying to talk my way past a guard.

  4. It can be a bit tricky, especially if the party relies on you to be a powerful battle mage. Just start swinging your staff and remind the fighter character that he is hiding behind an old man.

    Wiser? not really, especially not after the session where I got my head caved in sticking it out of a hole trying to talk my way past a guard.

  5. Daniel Fowler Ha! That’s great! Were you able to turn it into a lesson for the young ones? Wise parting words? Ooooh! That could be a move! You ALWAYS get to deliver parting words when you die and the party members can recall them at an appropriate time for a bonus each session.

  6. Daniel Fowler Ha! That’s great! Were you able to turn it into a lesson for the young ones? Wise parting words? Ooooh! That could be a move! You ALWAYS get to deliver parting words when you die and the party members can recall them at an appropriate time for a bonus each session.

  7. No but that was actually a game where we were trying out Grim World. so I had a “Fly you Fools” death move. The move was meant to allow the party to escape or help in a Big deal fight but since i was literally brained by “Some guy” the GM and I decided that I was hiding a powerful weapon that was released by my death and taken by one of the others.

  8. No but that was actually a game where we were trying out Grim World. so I had a “Fly you Fools” death move. The move was meant to allow the party to escape or help in a Big deal fight but since i was literally brained by “Some guy” the GM and I decided that I was hiding a powerful weapon that was released by my death and taken by one of the others.

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