In the last few discissions I noticed an irritatinbly high number of people who think that mages, once low on spells, are a total dead weight.
Lets for example take your average D&D spellcaster. Are spells his main thing? Yes. But that isn't the only thing he can do. The thing holding mack mages the most is their low amount of HP* and poeple not using them to their full potential
*something I have campaigning for from day 1 is that health is determined by CON alone and class has no bearing on it. This would make mages far more survivable in combat as tehy could have as much HP as a fighter.
One thing to decide when building a character (of any class) is what approach to take.
- focus on maximizing it's strengths
- focus on minimizing weakneses
- balanced approach
Now, msot peoepl I know go for the first. Got a fighter? All the equipment and skilsl will be there to make him even stronger and more durable! Got a mage? All equipment and skills/feats go to makeing him a stronger spellcaster.
That is a valid aproach, but overspecialization is overrated. It works wonderfull as long as everything is going according to plan. But if it doesn't, if you loose that super-specialized tank - suddenly there's total chaos.
Class system of D&D (or similar systems) ties players' hands.
It is easy to say "don't overspecialize your mage, give combat skills", but especially D&D 2e (e.g. Baldur's Gate) forces players to overspecialize.
Think about BG2, if you want to use high powered spells at the end game, you need to overspecialize your mage and go magic all the way. Some people use kensai/mage, but even for it, you need to follow a specific formula. Also, dual class supresses your previous class. Dual class system's other handicap is, you get a 10/10 (two weak classes) instead of 20 (one strong class) level of character.
Skill based systems like Elder Scrolls, Ultima (Online), World Of Darkness, help the mages (or magi, if you prefer) to get some combat skills. For example, if the system allows you to maximize 5 skills, select 3-4 magic skills and 1-2 combat skills. I like to play fire mage / shaman who can also fight like a warrior (Natsu from Fairy Tail, Hitsugaya from Bleach, etc...). But in class systems, if you select more than one class, you can not maximize your skills in desired tree/path.
What I mean is,
in D&D 3e, If you make a 15th lvl Sorcerer / 5th lvl Fighter, you will not know/cast 8th and 9th level spells like a 20th lvl Sorcerer, and you will not fight like a 20th lvl Fighter (your base attack bonus will be +12/+2 instead of +20/+15/+10/+5)
However, in Skyrim, you can combine pure mage ( Alteration, Conjuration, Destruction, Restoration, Enchanting) with pure warrior (Archery, Block, Heavy Armor, One Handed, Smithing) and get a warrior/mage (One Handed, Heavy Armor, Destruction, Conjuration, Restoration) who can max both Destruction (like a pure mage) and One Handed (like a pure warrior) skills.