Wednesday, January 23, 2013
On Classes: Magic-User Classes
The exact magic-user classes are in a bit of flux right now, particularly nomenclature. I have three main types of magic in my campaign: divine (clerics & druids), arcane (wizards & illusionists), and occult (shamans, cultists, sorcerers/warlocks/witches). Divine magic is given by the gods, arcane magic is study & training, and occult magic is through pacts and bargains. (One could add ki and psionic magics to this list, but 3 sources is enough for me.) There are at least three or four sources of occult power in the Shadowend: nature spirits (shamans), the fey courts, the Typhos (which include archdevils, demon lords, and the like), and the Envidier (quasi-dieties, saints).
I've never been all that keen on the 3e sorcerer schtick as "spontaneous caster"; it's a weak rationale for a class. In previous campaigns I've run sorcerers as a martial "spellblade" class, but there's merit to the 3.5/PF idea of sorcerers as "innate" casters. I have a hard time using warlock as a class divorced from witch.
It will probably shake out something like this:
Illusionist: Arcane. Deception, misdirection, mists, etherealness.
Wizard: Arcane. Raw magical skill. Metamagic, dispel magic, etc.
Mage: Occult? Will likely subsume the sorcerer & elementalist roles to be a "themed" caster; ie fire mage, goblin mage, dragon mage, etc. This occurred to me last night, and I think it solves a number of problems. Just as the cleric can gain different abilities from different gods, the mage can get different abilities from different themes. The key is making it feel different from an arcane caster.
Witch/Warlock: Straight up occult caster...but not a mage. Hmmm. Maybe witches & warlocks serve the Envidier, while cultists serve the Typhos, and shamans serve the nature spirits? That leaves the fey out in the cold, but I can live with that. I might be getting into too many permutations, though.
This leaves the sorcerer free to be the arcane/martial spellblade trope, should I so chose.
IllusionistIllusionists get an apprentice at 9th level and can establish a sanctum at 11th level. That hasn't made it into the blog version because I haven't dealt with followers yet. There will be some funky possibilities. On the spells front, I'm going to have to do a separate spell list, if only because there just aren't the spells available from the magic-user's list. Wizards will have access to the illusionist list, and probably vice versa, but at a penalty, either a penalty to learn or a +1 increase in spell level.
Looking through spells has helped clarify the role of the illusionist. This is a class that conceals, that deceives, that obscures things - but in order to lie, one must first know the truth. It's all about perception. Mist, light, shadow, vision, knowledge. You call an illusionist if you want to hide, or want something hidden, but also to uncover what is hidden. Set a thief to catch a thief, and all that.
At higher levels the ethereal plane will probably be the illusionist's domain, allowing their sanctum (and the illusionist) to shift in and out of reality.
I'm tempted to write up the enchanter, just to make a "look-at-me" magical class to contrast with the illusionist's "look-at-that" methodology.