Refining the Arcanist

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A note before talking about the Arcanist again. I had planned to do more about mecha in this post, but the combat system isn't testing well. Essentially, my attempt to do mecha combat without minis is confusing. I am not a minis person, but I may need to concede that mecha combat is much easier with them than without them.

Why the shift in focus? It's not really a shift but more of an 'aha!' moment while re-reading my notes for inspiration. At one time I had wanted to convert all the d20 spells into their OpenD6 equivalents. Using the spell creation system in D6 Magic and Vade Mecum Magic seemed simple enough that I thought the project would take a couple weeks.

D&D Magic, though, is quite resistant to being easily categorized in such a way. I know that killershrike.com converted almost all the spells to the Hero System. He seems to have run into the same issue I have when attempting to convert Air Walk (I couldn't convert it either). When you build spells based on effect, it is difficult to separate Air Walk from Levitation though in a prosaic sense, the difference is obvious. Sure, both lift you in the air, but one is like gliding up and down an invisible elevator, while the other is like walking on invisible stairs.

Vancian  Magic  has certain characteristics, most notably, that it "... is no science, [it] is art, where equations fall away to elements like resolving chords."  I also like the description that it is like putting a demon in your head. In attempting to differentiate the Arcanist from a Mage, I thought about how an Arcanist approaches magic.

Primarily, a skill-based mage would approach magic like any other craft. There is a base knowledge that must be attained. There are specialized tools used to ply the craft. New knowledge is built upon the proven knowledge of what came before. The mystery of magic for a skill-based mage comes from exploring what is unknown. Once a spell is known, it is no longer a mystery - it is a ritual that can be reproduced as often as desired.

Does this mean that an Arcanist would never sell his soul to a demon for more power? Absolutely not. Everyone is tempted to take shortcuts. An Arcanist, over time, will be able to craft tremendous magic. After a lifetime of study, his/her power will be quite formidable. But if there is a way to have all that power without the lifetime of study, well... you can see where the demons come into play.

What does this mean in game terms? At its simplest, a points system coupled with a completely different (from D&D) method of magic research. An Arcanist can make potions and wands, but the manner and costs will be very different from a mage. Spell research will also be different in that variations of a similar spell will cost much less for an Arcanist to research. An arcanist may be able to cast a spell more than once, but he/she has a greater chance for failure when casting.

The base skill level to cast a spell at 1st level is 11. Per Andras convention, a roll of 11 or less would indicate the successful casting of a spell. A roll of 12-19 and the spell does not work and the Arcanist loses 1 spell point. On a roll of 20, consult a yet-to-be-created Critical Fumble table.

The base skill is modified by the level of the spell and any other conditions the GM believes is appropriate. 1st level spells add five to the base skill. In other words, a 1st level Arcanist must roll a 16 or less to cast a 1st level spell. After that, spells become much more difficult per the table below:

Spell Level 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th
Adjustment 5 -1 -7 -13 -20 -27 -34

Except for Experience Points, here is the Arcanist Progression Table.

Level Hit Dice (d4) Spell Points Abilities
1 1 6  1st level Spells
2 2 12
3 3 23 2nd level Spells
4 4 40
5 5 56 3rd Level Spells
6 6 83
7 7 110 4th Level Spells
8 8 147
9 9 184 5th Level Spells
10 10 231 Create Spell Stores*
11 10+1 278 6th Level Spells
12 10+2 335
13 10+3 356
14 10+4 387
15 10+5 449 7th Level Spells
16 10+6 485
17 10+7 516
18 10+8 552
19 10+9 558
20 10+10 569

*Spell stores are special magic items specific to Arcanists. Spell stores allow the Arcanist to store spell points in an item. These stored spell points can be used instead of using the Arcanist's spell point reserve. These points will also allow an Arcanist to exceed the maximum spell points usable per day, though an Arcanist can only use one spell store at day. The amount of points that can be stored is equal to the Arcanist Level times five. For example, at 11th level, an Arcanist can store 55 spell points in a spell store.

The points will last until they are used or until the item is destroyed. Breaking the item will not cause damage, but the spell points stored within the object are lost. When an Arcanist drains the last spell point from a spell store, the item disintegrates. Spell stores are not rechargeable.

Tomorrow or Thursday, some example spells for the Arcanist as well as the Spell Creation tables.