Wizards are feared for their power but respected for their knowledge. Where others draw amgic from spirits or the blood of their ancestors, a wizard’s magic comes from the sweat of his own brow. By spending long hours poring over old tomes and performing dangerous experiments, a wizard unlocks universal secrets unimagined by the common man. Limited only by his own intellect, a wizard gains power over reality itself.
Although they tend to congregate only in the colleges of large cities, individual wizards are not uncommon. It’s no surprise to find a rural village supporting a hedge mage (and perhaps his apprentice). Merchants hire wizards to ease travel and defend them from bandits, and few armies march without the support of an evoker.
A wizard’s dedication to esoterica often isolates him from his peers, and yet the power to be gained is a constant lure, both for would-be wizards and those who employ them. Wizards are necessarily intelligent (if not always wise), and many people look to them for guidance. Some wizards serve as advisers to legislators and generals, while others apply their intelligence and magic to solving practical problems. Many, however, are content to accumulate knowledge for its own sake. The focus required means wizards are by nature single-minded in the pursuit of their objectives. Used to thinking in abstract terms, wizards tend to have grand goals: knowledge, power, and fame.
Most major cities house at least one school of wizardry. Those aspiring wizards who live far from cities or lack the funds to pay for tuition must find other means to acquire arcane knowledge. Often, a particularly bright child is apprenticed to a local wizard. In exchange for the knowledge imparted by his master, the apprentice wizard serves as an assistant and usually as a drudge. A rare few wizards are self-taught, learning from magical tomes they find or steal. While private students have fewer resources, they are free of the political and philosophical entanglements of wizarding schools.
Many wizards travel widely in search of new spells and knowledge. Wizards are drawn to adventure as a means to rediscover lost lore, encounter strange creatures, and perform their magic in practical situations.
Many magical institutes operate throughout Avistan and Garund. Necromancers can learn much at the schools of Geb, while the factories of rival Nex produce some of the finest transmuters. Chelaxian schools, as well as the Acadamae in Korvosa, concentrate on conjurations (notably diabolism). On the other side of Varisia, the Stone of Seers in Magnimar teaches methods of divination and abjuration, while the Twilight Academy in Galduria researches experimental and unconventional methods. The wizards of Nidal specialize in shadow magic in honor of their dark patron. The colleges of Rahadoum teach a pragmatic form of magic devoid of overt spirituality. The thaumaturgical colleges of Kyonin teach magic in the elven tradition, and almost exclusively to elves. Absalom is home to a number of prestigious, and varied magic institutes including the Arcanamirium (founded by the Arclords of Nex) the exclusive College of Mysteries, and the Clockwork Cathedral.
Some wizards (often those more pragmatical ones) focus on magical warfare and duels, and not on learning and copying spells. These wizards do not begin their training with scribing scrolls, but learn to push their spells when they need to get the upper hand. Their spells are stronger than other wizards, and they often learn how to precisely strike with ray spells as well.
Sources: Pathfinder Chronicles Campaign Setting