I’ve written about some of the things in this article before, but this is the bit I want to talk about today:
If your first answer was “a person who casts one spell, then has to sleep before re-memorizing it out of a book no matter how many times he's previously cast it”, then you're almost certainly someone that plays Dungeons & Dragons, and for one reason or another never bothered to question why magic works the way it does.
When I think about wizards, what pops into my head? Someone who is reluctant to use magic.
This is possibly the most common theme in stories about magic. Characters who use magic are either evil, reluctant to use magic, or both. Or the whole point of the story was that they should not have used magic when they did.
Too often magic in RPGs is criticized based on its mechanics rather than its effects. I don’t care that the mechanics of magic in Decipher’s Lord of the Rings RPG didn’t match the mechanics of magic in Middle-earth as described by Tolkien in his letters. What matters to me is that they made the effects of the magic system fit what is described in the books.
Now, I’m up for arguments about mechanics that might do a better job of getting the results you want. But first we’ll need to agree that magic in an role-playing game likely serves a very different role than it does in stories.