So, as I consider how wizards and the like might fit into my world (we've avoided this so far because there have been no wizard PCs in the main campaign), why not take up a similar idea?
I mean, if there are as many wizards as fighters ... if there are even one tenth or one hundredth as many wizards as fighters ... you are pretty much into the awful awful 2nd edition "let's think this through" world of unseen servant rickshaws with the continual light headlamps and every ship of the line has a Master Magician to cast fireballs and gust of wind.
|"This will be on the quiz."|
Bingo ... academia. Write what you know.
The boundaries of knowledge between magic, craft and science being more fluid in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, it is possible that spellcasting is ...
- an underground intellectual cult based on hidden or forbidden writings
- an intellectual cult of personality, handed down from master to disciple, in the manner of Straussians, Skinnerians or Freudians
- something that develops from intensive study of a discipline but is hard to actually grasp, so there are periods of history when the intellectual caliber of the academy dips and it starts the self-serving lie that everything about, let's say, anatomy or optics can be got at empirically, and the incantations of necromancy or illusionism are disused or discredited, until someone picks them up again with the right insight
- something the more advanced study of nature and the universe has moved beyond, just as someone doing Mr.Wizard tricks with chemistry would not really be welcome at the conference of the American Chemical Society - your adventuring wizard is more the equivalent of MacGyver or Walter White
- its own discipline, yet dependent on the others in the academy - to really learn how to make spells work you must learn all about the natural and metaphysical world from people specialized in that knowledge - wizards are like medical school students dutifully grinding through organic chemistry so they can go ahead and do surgery or psychiatry
Forget the wizarding academy, all the real action is in the mundane university, with gremlins and homunculi peeking through the ivy.