The Hewcaster

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hew

  1. to strike forcibly with an ax, sword, or other cutting instrument; chop; hack.
  2. to sever (a part) from a whole by means of cutting blows.

In short, a hewcaster severs the essence of a creature or object and uses it to research spells, create potion-like magic items called elixirs and ultimately create hideous creatures that sear the mind. He is part magic-user, part alchemist, and part mad scientist.

Taking Essence and Making Hewstones

Aside from spells, the hewcaster can take the essence of any creature or object. What is essence? Essence is made up of the qualities of a creature or object that make it distinct. For example, the essence of a bear consists, in part, of its Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma. It also includes furry skin, claws, sharp teeth eye color, physiological structure and large size. More than that, it includes the need to hibernate in the winter, a taste for salmon (or other fish) and all the memories it has. With enough thought, I'm sure you could come up with more characteristics of a bear not mentioned here.

Now that I've defined what essence is, what does the hewcaster do with it? At first, if the hewcaster is successful in taking the essence of a creature or object, the essence forms into a solid object called a hewstone. A hewstone is a smooth, rectangular-shaped rock that is about one foot long, seven inches wide and two to three inches thick. In this form, the essence can be kept indefinitely.

Back in the laboratory, the hewcaster can study its contents to research new spells, learn more about the type of creature from its essence, or learn about the specific creature's essence. Using the example of a bear mentioned before, the hewcaster could research new spells based on the characteristics of a bear, learn more about bears in general (like what they like to eat, what happens to their when they hibernate, etc), or learn about the specific habits and memories of the specific bear whose essence is trapped in the hewstone.

Elixirs

The new ability of the hewcaster is to create elixirs. Elixirs function like potions in that drinking one will grant the imbiber some magical effect. Elixirs are different from potions in that applying it to a target will do the same thing. This means that it is possible to throw an elixir at a target and use it as a weapon.

Elixirs are made by a hewcaster when he or she employs a catalyst to draw power from a hewstone. Catalysts come in five types. Each catalyst is able to draw different aspects of essence to produce certain effects.

Type of Catalyst Effect
Body Gain the Strength, Dexterity, Constitution or one physical characteristic.
Mind Gain the Intelligence, Wisdom, Charisma or memories.
Shape Gain the form
Soul Be transformed into the target
Blood Gain a special ability of the target

Referring to the bear example once again, taking a hewstone with the essence of a bear and applying a Body Catalyst will create an elixir that grants a physical characteristic of a bear. This could be as straightforward as creating an elixir that grants the strength of a bear or as subtle as making an elixir that makes the target fur-covered.

Of course, the effects of an elixir need not be positive. Making an elixir that grants the intelligence of a bear will change the target from its current intelligence to the intelligence of a bear. Doing that to a human (especially a magic-user) will lower the target's intelligence. (Then again, using the same elixir on an animated statue or golem would make it more intelligent.)

One major difference between a spell and an elixir is that a hewcaster can make an elixir in a short amount of time (about 10 minutes) with the right materials. However, the hewcaster can only handle a limited amount of exposure to essences and catalysts before suffering great risks to mind and body. As a hewcaster increases in level, he or she can make more elixirs.

Final Notes about Hewstones

A hewstone can only be used to make an elixir once. Catalysts can be used up to 50 times to make elixirs. A hewstone that has been used to make an elixir can still be used to research spells. It will not, however, be useful in making another elixir. Such an attempt will destroy the hewstone and harm the hewcaster along with most of his or her equipment.

A hewstone with the essence of a magic-user can be used to create an elixir that grants the ability to cast spells generally or cast a specific spell. Any spells cast from these types of elixirs do not count against the allowable spells per day. One way of using an elixir to grant spell casting powers is to allow a thief or fighter to hurl a couple of spells. Another way to use spell casting types of elixirs is to allow a hewcaster to cast 8th and 9th level spells.

Why a Hewcaster is Neutral at Best

The downside of a hewcaster is that the act of taking a creature's essence will change the target into a horrible cypher beast. A cypher beast is a pale, four-legged creature with a huge maw, four clawed limbs and little else. The transformation lasts for only a couple of days.

After Nine Hundred Words, Finally the PDF

Details of the hewcaster class can be found in the hewcaster pdf. I've also attached an open text document for modification here: hewcaster.odt.