It is basically OSR Tradition at this point to make Wizards that are weird. I for one strongly approve of this. Magic should be weird and mystical. If we are dealing with the power to make the laws of physics into mere suggestions, even if only for a minute, that is something that should be treated with awe.
This is why I wrote my own version of the Sage, originally conceived by Cacklecharm. The idea of a Wizard without the ability to cast spells at level 1 was such a refreshing take I was consumed by it. But then I hit a new problem. How do Sages and Wizards co-exist? I can surely have NPCs of both types, but what player would choose the nerdy scholar over the guy who can melt faces by giving himself a seizure to channel extraplanar energies?
Perhaps some would, but I wager such a player is few and far between. So the Sage class was, in my opinion, doomed to anonymity and my attempt to reinvigorate magic and make it something more unusual and mystical would have been wasted.
And then an idea so simple, yet so clever, struck me like a lightning bolt. I wager you can already guess what it is. You read the title of this post, after all.
The Flame in all of Us
All Mortals possess the ability to perform magic. They can cast two "spells", for lack of a better word, innately. The first of these abilities is the one that permits their immaterial spirit to control their physical body. The second is the ability to pray. It is the power of the spirit that carries a prayer to its intended destination- or at least, tries to. A mortal who is confused can send the prayer to the wrong person or the prayer could be distorted or lost through a shift of the Winds of Magic, or they could be eaten by any number of small spirits that feed on prayers. This is why religion and collective prayer is important, it ensures that at least one of the faithful's prayers will reach it's destination.
However, for most mortals, this is all they will ever use their "magic" for. The Sage is someone who seeks to expand themselves, to stretch their limited capability, to gain power and knowledge, to become more than man, to conquer Reality. This is the primary reason why Sages adventure- why they read books better off burned, delve into monster-infested catacombs and consort with corrupting entities; they seek the power known as magic for themselves. Those Sages that succeed in their quest are lauded and honored upon their return, granted the title of Wizard.
There are no Wizarding Colleges or even universities in general. Magic and magic items are hoarded by Sages who have learned it and have become Wizards.
by u/ohnonicknames from here
The Sources of Magic:
Finding magic is fairly easy, but finding a source that can be tapped and controlled, that is a whole different beast. Here are a few methods that you might find useful.
1- Borrow power from some greater being. May or may not require selling your soul. Will give you quick and easy power, but expect terms and conditions and to be dangling on strings for quite some time, possibly forever.
2- Steal power from a greater being. As above, but even riskier. However, there will be no strings on you. The only catch is to not get caught.
3- Raid the tomb or abandoned laboratory of a (possibly) dead Wizard. Wizards who become powerful sometimes pass their power down to an apprentice, but just as often they refuse to part with it even in death, leaving orders that they be buried in maze-like tombs filled with booby traps and guardians so that no one will ever be able to obtain their mystic power. This is why so many Wizards try to become Liches; because the thought of anyone else controlling their power drives them to the point of obsession and madness, then beyond. Of course, you don't have to be a Wizard, or mad, to become a Lich, but it helps.
4- Learn the methods of shaping and molding your soul into a device that can capture spells and use the power of magic naturally. This is the hardest route, but also the least risky. It requires the study of ancient writings, delving into the ruins of the older, more magical civilizations and months, if not years of diligence. However, it tends to come with the least draw-backs. A living Wizard can also help you with this. Studying from a living practitioner will certainly speed up the process of learning.
If you successfully obtain magic, then you gain the ability to cast spells as per a normal Wizard and can start taking levels in Wizard. Also, certain alternate forms of magic, such as Rituals, Alchemy and Artifice can be used by anyone who has the required knowledge and training. Sages are assumed to have all necessary training, but they won't know how most rituals work or what the recipes of potions are, because that is knowledge that has been hidden from others.