NPC Spellcasters – Numbers and Advancement

Posted: 4 June 2011 in Settings
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I need to know how many NPC spellcasters there are in Irongrave, and how quickly they advance in rank, if at all. You’ll see why in later posts. Savage Worlds Explorers’ Edition gives no guidelines for that other than GM fiat, so in the hope of maintaining internal consistency across the setting, I turn to S John Ross’ demographics and mediaeval history again.


As an "unlisted business", there will be one spellcaster of each type per 5,000 to 25,000 people; and I have decided on three permitted arcane backgrounds in Irongrave; Magic, Miracles, and Weird Science. I’ll treat each as being a separate, unlisted business with a frequency of one per 5,000 people.

So, for each of those types, there should be a couple in a average city of 10,000; a 50/50 chance of one in an average town of 2,500; and roughly a 5% chance of one in an average village of a couple of hundred people.

Why so few? They have to have the raw talent – Arcane Background – to begin with. Then they need the wealth, or the connections, to gain access to training. Then they need the discipline and Smarts or Spirit to complete the training.

Miracles would be learned in church service, while Magic and Weird Science would be learned in a guild structure. The church, being based on mediaeval Christianity, is funded by its tithes, while guilds are associations of merchants or craftsmen; that means that like the contemporary NHS, church spells are free at the point of use, but wizards need to charge for them. So, I expect the average peasant thinks more highly of the "altruistic" high priest than the "money-grubbing" wizard. But I digress.


I like the idea that Novice rank corresponds to an apprentice, Seasoned to a journeyman, and Veteran to a master. While as ever in the mediaeval period there are no hard and fast rules, it seems a person spent 7-10 years as an apprentice, starting at some time between the age of 7 and his early teens; then 7 or more as a journeyman, before becoming a master (if he could meet the requirements, which some could not).

If it takes the typical NPC 7 years to improve his rank, that’s about one advance every 18 months. (He can get that advance in a couple of adventures if he works with one of the Chosen, hence the popularity of that route.)

This means that people in their 40s or 50s should be Legendary, so I’ll use GM Fiat to cap advancement at Veteran for Extras – I don’t want that many Heroic or Legendary NPCs, those giddy heights are for the PCs alone to scale.


  • If you have the money and connections, you can be apprenticed to a master craftsman, or even a spellcaster. After 7-10 years you’ll be a journeyman, and after another 7 years, with luck, you could be a master; but not everyone makes the grade; it takes wealth and reputation, as well as talent.
  • There are three kinds of spellcasters; wizards, holy men, and alchemists. The first two cast spells, the third makes items.
  • Even the simplest magic item takes a couple of years to make.
  • In an average city, there are half a dozen spellcasters. In an average town, there are one or two. A village might have one, but it’s rare.

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