Every once in a while, I’ll see the topic of sorcerers vs. wizards come up, both in terms of rules and role-playing in the world of Krynn.
Rules-wise, I think it’s a matter of preference. From a rules perspective alone and looking solely at the base sorcerer and wizard classes, I prefer sorcerers. I like how you can choose whichever spell you have and fire it off however you want up to your max per day. This is part of the reason why I liked the psionicist so much in 2nd edition.
From a prestige class perspective, there are few as cool as the Wizard of High Sorcery. There are a number of cool prestige classes out there, many of which work well for both sorcerers and wizards. I would place some limits on some of them, though. For example, the archmage would be a wizard-only class, and the arcane trickster would be a sorcerer-only class in my games.
The topic at hand, though, goes beyond just rules, and it is here that we get to the heart of the matter.
As we look at sorcerers and wizards through the eyes of role-playing and their place within the setting, I think a different picture is painted. As I mentioned above, I prefer sorcerers to wizards from a rules perspective. When we talk about the place of wizards and sorcerers in Dragonlance, I’ll give you just the opposite opinion. I prefer wizards.
I believe this is due to the role the wizard, and specifically the Wizards of High Sorcery, has in the world of Krynn. Wizards are completely dedicated to their magic, often making sacrifices for the cause of magic. They have to take the Test, to show their ability and devotion. The Test is a life-changing experience, whether physically, emotionally, or both. There’s the connection to the gods of magic, as well as the three Orders and their robes.
Above all, the Wizards of High Sorcery are an icon of Dragonlance. When I think of DL, a few images pop into my head, the Wizards of High Sorcery being one of the first I think of.
Compare this to the sorcerer. The sorcerer comes across to me as the "everyman mage", or perhaps a "generic caster". It’s a good class to use for those roles like the arcane trickster that just don’t jive as well with the Wizards of High Sorcery. It has cool factor in being the spellcaster who taps into Wild Sorcery, and is more independent.
Where organizations are concerned, sorcerers can join the Legion of Steel or the Knights of Neraka. The Legion is a good hero role, and their emphasis on mortals fits nicely. The Knights of Neraka pose a problem in that they are evil, and not every DM will allow an evil character. Unlike wizards, sorcerers have no organization to call their own. The Academy of Sorcery was perhaps the closest thing to it. Alas, it has been destroyed.
The big problem, in my mind, is that sorcerers are not iconic characters in Dragonlance. Magic in Dragonlance is very defining of character. Yet sorcerers are the least defined of all the DL spellcasting classes. When you look at wizards, clerics, and even mystics, you know of their role in the world. Not so much with sorcerers.
Sorcerers need identity. They need their own role in the world to set them apart from generic spellcasters in other worlds. They need their own area of control to call their own. They need an iconic role within the Dragonlance saga.
What can be done?
We need to see them in more stories, get their perspective on the world of Krynn and Dragonlance, and have an example of an iconic sorcerer.
We need new roles and new rules to go with those roles to help flesh out what a sorcerer is in Dragonlance. Now, this doesn’t necessarily mean that sorcerers have to join an organization. Quite the contrary. I think they can keep that independent feel and yet be "Dragonlancey".
The Academy Sorcerer is a good role, as it captures the feel of the SAGA sorcerer. I think more work, perhaps with a series of feats, would help to bring the elemental feel of the SAGA sorcerer to life.
A Wild Sorcerer would also be a welcome addition. Such a role would tap into the chaotic side of Wild Sorcery.
I know I sound like a broken record with this one, but I also feel the dragon mage is a must. Yes, it was a limited-use one-shot character concept that isn’t even in effect anymore, but it was perhaps the most "Dragonlancey" sorcerer character concept out there.
Beyond that, I think an alternate spell list for sorcerers would be a welcome addition. Something that could capture more of the feel of the SAGA sorcerer, yet would be open enough for people to take just about any sorcerer/wizard spell.
With the proper development, I’m sure the sorcerer could find not only a place within the Dragonlance saga, but also an identity.