Tips for a Mage Build
Without getting into archetypes, there are two main kinds of mage—three, in this one, counting witch. Wizards and sorcerers are both “vanilla” mages. The difference is wizards are powered by Intelligence and know the theoretical underpinnings, and usually specialize into one of eight schools of magic. They can change what spells they have the option of using every day.
Sorcerers cast from Charisma and learn magic by some mix of innate talent and rote memorization, and can only cast a spell they permanently “know”—I like to use the metaphor that wizards are sight-reader violinists, and sorcerers use the Suzuki method.
Sorcerers have like twenty or so “bloodlines” based on the creatures their powers come from (either inherited as the name implies, or just due to influence, like, say, your mom lived in a place with a lot of magical creatures and their energies mutated you in the womb). The bloodlines are things like undead, demons, dragons, or…wizards (there’s a sorcerer option that shares a few features with wizards).
Witches, on the other hand, use magic like wizards and have familiars like (many) wizards…but their magic doesn’t come from their study of arcane secrets, it comes from a pact with something mysterious and otherworldly. Because they have that in common with clerics and druids, they get some divine magic, like basic healing spells. Their selection of attack spells is lacking, though.
The only two archetypes it would be worthwhile to look into, first time out, are two sorcerer ones. First are sage sorcerers, who are a version of the wizard (“Arcane”) “bloodline” that works like a sorcerer, with permanently “known” spells, but casts from Intelligence, like a wizard—if you want an elf sorcerer, that’s the way to go, since elves get a bonus to intelligence not charisma. And second, empyreal sorcerers, a variant of the “Celestial” bloodline that casts from Wisdom; if you want a dwarf sorcerer, when dwarves get a penalty to Charisma but a bonus to Wisdom, that’s the one you want.