A few weeks ago, I introduced my initial concepts for a World of Ere d20 game I’m working on. This week, we’re going to talk about a specific corner of the section of the game: magic. Specifically, how the Spellcaste class works.
But first, let’s talk about how magic itself is going to work.
As you might recall, every caster is going to cast from a pool of spell points and have a list of spells known. The basic casting is going to be centered on the ‘energy’-based casting from the series. Every caster, at first level, gets an Affinity toward one of the energy types (psi, viatae, nekras, vox, flaer, akua, vin, ere-a, or ferif) and knowing a Fundamental spell-casting pattern (Creae, Zome, etc). If you have an Affinity for a spell’s energy and know the relevant Fundmental, you can pick that spell as a Spell Known when you level up. Otherwise, you need to spend a feat to learn it as a bonus spell. Having a Fundamental gives you a ‘free’ power with each Affinity you have while sometimes, having an Affinity to a different energy let’s you use your known spells in different ways. For example, having flaer affinity lets you remove the heat from your akua spells, creating ice and effects with cold damage.
Anyone can take a feat and gain an extra Affinity or Fundamental.
The basic spellcaster just goes up the ladder, gaining free Affinities and Fundamentals as they level, becoming a master of many types of spells, but being limited by the basic knowledge or simply not having the right inate traits, miss out on specialized powers. For that, we have special feats that can only be taken at the first level of the spellcasting class. These fundamentally change how the character works even if they do continue to gain spells as normal. As a placeholder, I’ll be calling these Spellcasting Legacies and the ones I have in mind are as follows:
Characters who take the Priestly Mysteries feat still get their basic Affinity and Fundamental like any other spellcaster, but in place of the progression of more Affinities and Fundamentals, they gain access to Prayers. Prayers tend to be more esoteric than energy spells, doing things like affecting luck, healing non-injury effects, summoning and conjuring constructs. They can also curse, bestowing negative status effects, or bless, bestowing positive ones. Priests that want to be good in physical combat have a few self-buffing options, but if they really want to get good, they’ll need to multi-class into combatant.
Characters who take the Bardic Philosophies feat automatically gain Affinity with psi energy… but they can fake others. Be commanding the power of the Well of Souls, bards get access to the stuff of Creation, gaining access to a spell list called Words and Songs. These include many buffs for themselves and allies and are aimed to improve other class features the character gains from multi-classing into Combatant of Skill-user, or these themselves are improved by such.
For example, the Song Weapon Dance has a 1 round/caster level duration and grants a +4 bonus to AC against attacks made as reactions against you as long as you used a Weapon Technique on the previous turn. Apprentice Charlatan on the other hand, lets you choose an energy and for its duration, you are treated as if you have an Affinity for it—this means things like getting bonus powers from your own spells, or fulfilling requirements of certain magic items.
Mastering psi and the discarnate energy also makes bards the kings and queens of illusion. All [Illusion] spells are on their spell list regardless of Affinity.
Born with an unusually strong Affinity to a single element, characters who take the Elemental Savant feat forgo gaining any other Affinities ever again in favor of becoming, very, very powerful with the ones they have. They gain free metamagic feats for their chosen energy, plus unique abilities. For example a Psi Savant can mindscan an area as a standard action, discovering where every thinking mind is within a given radius and Flaer Savants are fire resistant at level 1, growing more resistant as the level up.
Specially trained and focused, the Shapeshifting Master trades their initial Affinity for access to Forms, a special class of spells that involve transforming their bodies. They can forgot further Affinities or Fundamentals for advanced Forms, such as the ability to alter their body chemistry to make poison or gain breath weapons.
Shapeshifting masters, unless they take more feats to gain other Affinities, are primarily melee warriors, using shifted weaponry and superior mobility in combat. If they do gain new spells, they can become among th emost versatile characters in the game.
Example Spell: Digital Spear turns your hand into a piercing wepaon that does 1d8+1 damage per 5 caster levels. You may attack with that spear immediately after casting the spell. If you do, the target is flat-footed.
A piece of the Well of Souls has replaced what would normally by this character’s natural energy reservoir. They can gain no Affinities or Fundamentals. Ever.
Instead, they gain a spirit companion who grants access to Spirit Commands and whose nature determines what spells they have access to. But what’s interesting is that they can also give the docent access to Combatant of Skill-User powers as well, depending on their nature (warrior spirits grant techniques, elementals grants energy-based spells.). Each spirit has a limited number of powers and spells known to convey to the docent, but as they progress, the docent may gain access to more spirits or increase the power of their existing spirit.
This makes spirit docents very versatile, but switching between spirits leaves them vulnerable (full-round action that provokes and attack of opportunity). Basically, a spirit docent can be a competent warrior one moment (thought not as awesome as a Combatant) and then switch to a caster as the situation demands.
Spirit Commands are things they can ask their companion to do that is more longterm than a spell. For example, they can bolster a weapon (giving it enhancements) or armor, possess items, or merge with the docent, temporarily giving them greater combat ability.
Hedge Wizard is actually a line of feats meant for non-spellcasters. It give the character a single Affinity and Fundamental, plus a spell of their choice at first level. Further feats give the character more spells. This allows other characters to dip into the magical side of the game without abandoning their core concept. Bards, Priests and Shapeshifting Masters can also take these feats to represent independent magical study.
As I said in the previous post about WoED20, my goal is for 4e modularity. The Spellworker class is going to be designed specifically so that I can drag and drop new stuff whenever I come up with another caster type rather than build a whole new class.
All spellcrafters will have the same progression of spells known and increases in spell points. What will change will be which spells and how many spells they will be drawing their spells known from, and what abilities they get every 3rd and every 5th level.
For basic casters, every 3rd level is a new Affinity and every 5th is either a Fundamental or a Metamagic bonus feat.
There are seven spell levels, by the way with characters starting at 1st level spells and gaining access to a new level of spells every 3rd level. All spells scale with level to some degree, but a 7th level flaer spell like Sublime Fireball is going to be much different from a 1st level Basic Fireball. A characer can also ‘reture’ a spell at every level, foregoing casting it to learn a new spell instead.
And in case you’re wondering, yes, there will be an Epic level add-on where you’ll be able to build Ru as a full Shapeshifting Master still casting 7th level spells. Epic is probably going to include rules for taking two Spellcrafter packages at once among other crazy things.
No I know what some reading this are thinking: ‘another system where magic is overpowered’. Never fear. Why magic is varied and amazing, my goal is to make the other two classes just as awesome and to make multi-classing an attractive option.
Next time I do this though, I’ll be moving away from my magic ideas and on to one of the more fun choices you can make in any DnD style game: races.
Oh, and please excuse the short blog this week. I’m getting a book together (folks in the Stret Team, an email is incomig): Descendants Basic Collection #4, A MagiTech Crisis. Oh, and I’m working on one of those World of Ere Shorts I promised too.
Until next week my friends!