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The Wizard is a pure spellcaster, harnessing arcane and elemental magic to do his/her bidding via a devastating array of offensive spells. The Wizard is quite similar to the Sorcerer and Sorceress of previous Diablo games, in design and concept.
This 19 year old female wizard was sent to the Zann Esumage clan, but later handed over to the powerful Vizjerei since she was a "rude and uncooperative student," that the smaller mage clan could not control. They hoped the harsh discipline at Vizjerei "would break her anarchic spirit." Yet even the Vizjerei instructors were unable to rein her in. She was continually being caught seeking out dangerous and forbidden magics without care for herself or anyone around her.
It was rumoured in Caldeum that she ventured into the infamous Bitter Depths below the Sanctum, but the truth is she was caught in the Ancient Repositories, where the most dangerous incantations are housed for the safety of the public.
Valthek, a great Vizjerei mage confronted her and she attacked him. She relied on trickery and deceit to render Valthek unconscious and then proceeded to flee the city immediately after the encounter. The extensive property damage was assumed to be the result of Valthek's magical prowess, not the young wizard.
Abd al-Hazir is concerned about the young, rebellious and inexperienced wizard wandering the world, using magics she does not understand. He mentioned that certain schools of magic were too dangerous and "those wiser than you or I determined long ago [to forbid] their practice." Primal forces including time warps include the secrets he suspects she gathered from the Ancient Repositories.
This is a very quick listing. See the Wizard Passives article for more details, or click on any of the individual passive skills for full stats and info. Skills are listed in the order they are unlocked through level progression.
Blur - Level 10. Reduces melee damage taken by 20%.
The Wizard is an aggressive archetypal magic wielder founding his powers on the aggressive fierceness of the storm, the arcane and conjuration. Both the male and female wizards are rebellious, headstrong, impulsive, and brilliant. Too smart and arrogant to fit into the authority of the sorcerer schools of the mage clans. Always on top of their skills and even smarter than their teachers, cocky and self assured.
After an interview, Jay Wilson said that the Wizard will not use Instability, it will be using a new kind of resource pool, Arcane Power, which is not dissimilar to mana in a lot of ways.
The arcane power regenerates quicker than mana but it is a flat amount it cannot be increased statistically or by items, some Skills empower it.
At Blizzcon 2010, Jay Wilson stated that mana might probably be going back to the Wizard, because they are all but convinced by Arcane Power.
Jay Wilson: "I would respond, "Yeah, you're right; the Wizard is basically a reskinned Sorceress." What we couldn't do with the Sorceress very well was break into what I'd call the old-school pen-and-paper magic user. You know the old magic user who could do a variety of things, like conjure up animals out of midair or create clouds of fog and acid or control time or disintegrate things or use death spells. They had this wide variety of magic that they could use compared to the more traditional elementalist -- which is what the Sorceress is, meaning fire, ice, and lightning -- who was just more limited. What we really wanted to do is break into this area, while if we just did the Sorceress again, we'd be like, "OK, you have to do fire, ice, and lightning, but where does disintegrate fit? Where does slow time fit in?" So we decided [that we'd] just take the same class mechanics, and [that we'd] change the basic concept and name and just have a throwback to that old-school magic user to give ourselves a broader range of magic skills. But there was never a huge desire to go away from the basic gameplay of the Sorceress; there's a lot of repeated skills, and that's intentional."
The male wizard, on the other hand, had a very controversial reveal. No one thought much of his concept art or paid much attention to his appearance when he debuted as a playable character in the BlizzCon 2009 demo. However, some months later when Blizzard added his in-game model to their official wizard page, there was an eruption of fan rage. 
The primary complaints were that he looked too effeminate, and while there was arguably a homophobic edge to the complaints, anyone can see that the male wizard is far from the strongest-looking character in the game. The character lore stresses how headstrong, confident, and haughty the wizard is in his/her arrogant youth, and in matching that description the male wizard falls short. He's just not an imposing, powerful looking individual , though as some fans pointed out, he's very much typical of the current look of many heroic males in popular anime; wearing an indifferent, too-cool-for-school meterosexual look. It's not known if that "look" played any part in Blizzard's design of the character, but it's clear that Blizzard wants to provide a variety of different character looks so that all fans will have someone they can enjoy playing. And that tastes vary.
Male Wizard concept vs. in-game.
Blizzard made no substantive comments over the fan reaction to the male wizard's appearance, so it's assumed that they're making no changes and are fine with the way fans have greeted the character's look. A poll on Diii.net found fan opinions widely split on the character, with almost equal numbers of fans to loved and hated it, with very few undetermined votes.
What do you think of the look of the Male Wizard?
2) It's good, but could be improved. 243 votes, 28.79%
4) Ugh. I'll be playing the female Wiz. 220 votes, 26.07%
5) Hate it. J-pop boy-band reject. 140 votes, 16.59%
1) I love the male Wizard look. 137 votes, 16.23%
3) I'm indifferent. M'eh. 104 votes, 12.32%
Total Votes: 844
It is worth stressing that there was no fan outcry to the look of the male wizard after he was first shown in-game, at the BlizzCon 2009 demo. It was only when his head-on view was added to the official website that he became objectionable, and since this is a view players will never have in the isometric, top-down game view, (barring some sort of "zoom in to look at your character's armor" option) this controversy is likely to be a non-factor in the final game.
One of the key changes to spell casters in Diablo III is the addition of +% spell damage modifiers. These sorts of modifiers were found on many skills in Diablo 2, and on a few uniques and runewords, but they were uncommon, and not necessary to kill effectively. As a result, casters in Diablo 2 were much less item-dependent than the combat classes, and found it easier to concentrate on Magic Find, resistances, hit points, and other non-damage bonuses.
This will not be the case in Diablo 3, where mages must add considerable +% spell damage from modifiers to stay ahead of the monster hit point curve. A high level Wizard or Witch Doctor in Diablo 3 will no more be able to kill quickly with no +spell damage than a Barbarian or Monk could succeed with a junk weapon. A quote from Flux's post-Blizzcon 2009 Wizard write up explains this in more detail:
When viewing the listed damage on each spell, it’s important to keep in mind that those are not absolute numbers, in D3. They’re much like weapon damage; modified by your wizard’s attributes, your character level, by other skills, and also by your equipment. Lots of types of items in D3 carry modifiers that boost spell damage, usually by a percentage.
I found numerous wands, staves, and even pieces of armor with values between +5-25% spell damage, and that was just in the early stages of the game. We know nothing about higher level equipment bonuses, and it’s entirely possible that the D3 team is projecting high level characters to have +100%, +200%, or who knows, +500%, spell damage. If so they’ll be adjusting the base spell damage accordingly, which might make it look very low to our untrained eyes.
Here’s an example from early in the game, that was mentioned in the Witch Doctor skills report. The skill tree listed damage on my level 2 Skull of Flame spell was 6-9, yet with a level 12 Witch Doctor my Inventory screen showed 19-29 for that spell. I don’t think I had more than +50% spell damage from equipment, so assuming the display values aren’t wrong (in D2’s infamous LCS style), there are considerable bonuses added to damage from character attributes, which are then further boosted by the spell damage bonuses on your equipment.
This is all part of the D3 team’s plan to make all of the attributes useful to all characters, and to make more types of modifiers useful/essential to spell casters. We don’t know enough yet to judge how well it’s working, but it should be a substantial change from how spell damage was calculated and scaled up (or not) in D2.
Like all of the characters in Diablo 3, the Wizard has an in-game backstory that gives insight into the character's personality and mannerisms. The tale is written from the perspective of Abd al-Hazir, the scholar and historian responsible for most of the game lore thus far released. The following is the 7th entry from his journal.
Male Wizard concept art.
Owing to my lack of tolerance for those who would use magic towards their own nefarious ends, many have assumed that I am averse to the practice of the magical arts on a philosophical level. Nothing could be farther from the truth. My quarrel is with those sorcerers who dismiss the ancient traditions and teachings – teachings that have been honed over millennia in order to preserve respect for authority and the rule of law.
Recently the youth of Caldeum have fallen prey to the overblown stories of just such a delinquent wizard. That is correct: I used the uncouth term wizard, not sorcerer. It seems that even the title of a civilized magic wielder is too restrictive for this young upstart. Through my contacts at the Yshari Sanctum of the mage clans, I am one of the few who actually know the truth behind the rumors now sweeping our streets regarding this hellion who flaunts her magic irresponsibly.
This wizard was sent here to spend her formative years under the tutelage of the best mages in the world. Well, it seems they neglected to teach our wizard manners on her native island of Xiansai, for she was a rude and uncooperative student from the very beginning. Originally under the guidance of the Zann Esu mage clan, she was eventually handed over to the Vizjerei in the hopes that their strict and unbending discipline would break her anarchic spirit. Yet even the esteemed Vizjerei instructors were unable to rein her in. She was continually being caught seeking out dangerous and forbidden magics, heedless of the consequences to herself or anyone around her.
Although there is no truth to the tales that she actually ventured into the infamous Bitter Depths below the Sanctum, she was caught in the Ancient Repositories, where the most dangerous incantations are housed for the safety of the public. When confronted by the great Vizjerei mage Valthek and demanded to account for herself, she brazenly attacked him rather than face the punishment merited by her acts. Exaggerated stories of the battle are already being inflated to mythic proportions by the more rebellious of our city's youth, but suffice it to say that she did not actually best Yshari's most powerful mage in single, honorable combat. The details of the encounter remain unclear, as Valthek has yet to regain consciousness, but it has been verified by reliable sources that she relied on trickery and deceit to bring the great man low. I have also been assured that the extensive property damage was chiefly the result of Valthek's magical prowess, not the upstart wizard's. As to where she is now, no one rightly knows, for she fled the city immediately after the encounter.
It is not my goal to alarm, but I find this situation disturbing. We now have a rebellious wizard, young and inexperienced, wandering the world, dabbling in powerful magics she does not understand. Those wiser than you or I determined long ago that certain schools of magic were too dangerous and forbade their practice. It is those magics that this wizard seems determined to explore – magics centered on manipulating the primal forces from which reality is constructed. Imagine, a headstrong nineteen-year-old youth, able to warp time itself to her will! The thought is truly terrifying. It is my honest hope that this self-styled wizard chooses never to return to Caldeum.
The female Wizard is voiced by Grey DeLisle, a veteran of voice acting. She's done many film and television roles, including Azula from Avatar: The Last Airbender, and roles in Afro Samurai, The Spectacular Spider-Man, Wolverine and the X-Men, and many more. She's also had many roles in video games, including a lot of the Star Wars series, Mass Effect, Metal Gear Solid, Baldur's Gate, Fallout, Doom 3, Batman: Arkham City (as Catwoman/Selina Kyle), and she also played Nova in StarCraft II.
The male Wizard is voiced by Crispin Freeman, also a veteran voice actor. He's done a gluttonous amount of English dubs for anime, and also many video games including the .hack series, BioShock 2, God of War III, Metal Gear Solid 4, Xenosaga, Saints Row: The Third, and many more.