Alternative mage weapons.
Ok, the starting mage has 1 weapon option and is single target ranged... the starting melee has 7. 6 with aoe damage and 1 single target ranged.. and a shield.
Could the starting mages get wands of fire cone, or ice touch, or acid splash? small aoe cone attacks just like melee?
And, hay, make them one handed so mages can use shields?
They dont even have to scale off of int, just a moderate damage effect to give mages options equal to melee in the beginning.