I was talking with the fellows over at ODD74 about the reason that in OD&D, Magic-Users (heck, I'm just going to call them wizards because that's what I call them) only get the dagger and the quarterstaff. If you look at regular normal men, which are first level guys in OD&D because they hadn't invented 0-level guys yet, if you look at them, they can use any weapon and use them just as well as a fighting-man. So why would a wizard go backwards in his weapons training, if a weak old lady or a child can use a normal sword?
|Cool crossbow, but not an argument.|
"Oh, Scott, that's stupid, they don't study swords and long bows, that's why." Okay so what about the other NPCs in the milieu who are not similarly so punished? It seems arbitrary and capricious and like a weenie move for certain adventurous men to be denied the use of weapons that everyone else in the world gets for free. In the case of the cleric, he forgoes using edged and piercing weapons, which is a different thing. It's not that he cannot use them, but that he will not use them. Or perhaps he would in dire circumstances? Anyway.
I kept that rule, by the way, for the finished manuscript of Mythical Journeys. Now 0-level Men and others can use every weapon, but training as a wizard retards weapons use for a reason similar to that of clerics. And here is the reason.
In the implied setting of Mythical Journeys, it takes about two years to really learn and understand magic and what you need to know to be an adventuring Magic-User. But regardless of the time it takes to actually learn magic, wizards will take on only those students who will submit to years of indentured servitude. It might be five years before a wizard's apprentice even touches a spell book, because he's too busy proving his dedication and will to power. Even so, giving up these years of life for the power of arcane magic is usually a good bargain for the apprentice.
So the apprentice has spent seven or more years under the tutelage of his master. He's been laboring and probably learning to read and write, and to fight with a dagger and a staff - and that's it. Any skill he had previously in warfare would retard considerably under these circumstances. Furthermore, part of the culture of being a wizard is that one only uses a dagger or a staff, and that's it. Other weapons are for lesser intellects.
One of the setting elements that I have come up with but is not implied is that while arcane magic among men is very much a master-and-apprentice affair, there are two broad traditions in teaching magic. I have not named them, but they are informal clubs where wizards can recognize their colleagues who have completed similar training. One kind of wizard wears white robes and carries as his credentials a specially-inscribed white quarterstaff wizard-marked by his master certifying he is who he says he is. The other kind of wizard wears blue robes and carries as his credentials a specially-inscribed dagger with a blue velvet-wrapped handle, likewise wizard marked by his master certifying he is who he says he is. Each kind of wizard trains in the other's favored weapon because both weapons are the weapons of a proper wizard, and can use them both interchangeably in actual combat.
This kind of sounds like the towers of high sorcery or whatever from Dragonlance (did I say that right? I never read the books) but I wasn't thinking of that when I thought this up. Maybe instead of robes they can wear circlets or signet rings or a gold chain of office or something like that. What do you think? Maybe their choice of weapon is enough.