Arcanist Update and NPC Idea

Back in January, JD posted this gem about an RPG mashup. It appeals to the part of me that likes to provide the unexpected to folks like me that have been playing for years.

In Andras, I mentioned the Arcanist Class a while ago, and then instantly regretted its poor execution. Testing has proven to be positive for the new and improved Arcanist that is based  on OpenQuest's Sorcery rules (with a touch of Battle Magic). OpenQuest's skill-based and spell point sorcerers are working out pretty well. The only difficulty lies in determining spell points. I can't seem to find that happy medium that prevents lower level Arcanists from being too powerful and allows higher level Arcanists to be greatly feared. The idea of basic spells that can be increased by expending more points is exactly what I wanted. The Magnitude table of effects provides a compact way to describe what powering up a given spell will do. The spell list is complete and allows Arcanists to be very distinctive spellcasters in the D&D world. Throw in a dash of Gygaxian Spell Names, and it could be something fun for your OGL game.

One of the spells in OpenQuest is Animate (Substance). This is actually a category of spells because an OQ Sorcerer has to learn a different spell for each substance. For example, Animate Earth is a different spell from Animate Wood. In an attempt to flesh out the Arcanist class more, I came up with an Arcanist that specializes in the Animate (Substance) and Form/Set categories of spells. For simplicity of reference, let's call him Tim (or more properly in lingwa de planeta, Faihonaboh). So far, I have Animate Earth, Animate Stone, Animate Bone, Animate Steel, Animate Water, Form/Set Earth, Form/Set Stone, Form/Set Darkness. He also has the Create Magic Point Store and Create Spell Matrix spells.

The important skill Tim possesses is sculpting. A successful skill roll for sculpting allows him to form various minions to do his bidding. Not all of them are humanoid in shape, so some of his constructions perform unique tasks. For example, the stone spheres of various sizes work to take intruders off their feet. The more humanoid shaped minions can hurl un-animated spheres as weapons. Why is this important? Once major limitation of the animate spells is that only one or two animated objects can be controlled at a time. That's why he can created a number of spheres that can alternatively be animated or thrown by other animated object. Form/Set Steel allows him to repair swords and shields. The Animate Steel spell allows him to animate suits of armor. The Animate Earth spell allows him to manipulate earthen embankments in all kinds of bizarre ways like having a giant hand come out of the earthworks can throw would be attackers or defenders.

Note that he doesn't have the blacksmith skill, so he can't really manufacture weapons and armor, only perform minor repairs. According to the Andras proficiency system, anything can be attempted by rolling 3 or under with a d20. With a 15% chance of success, this prevents him from becoming a wholesale weapons and armor manufacturer. Maybe, I could allow making a steel shield, but nothing like a sword and definitely not chain mail.

Those are just the military purposes, but other are available as well. A small stone structure can be animated to assist the occupant. In other words, tables spontaneously form from the floor for mealtime, create an opening for a window, wall-up the door, etc. You could even have the house get up and walk away to a new location. Animated stone ladders can be used in a scroll repository. Being fairly small, it would use only one or two spell points to raise/lower or move around. Oddly enough, you could even get your steel cutlery to chop vegetables and help prepare meals.

With so many spells, I figure that Tim has reached 80 percent with his Arcane Skill. This translates to rolling a 16 or under with a d20. Just like 2e, though, this represents casting in an extraordinary situation. When Tim can take his leisure to cast a spell, he do the equivalent of taking a 10. I also figure that he is around 12th level or so.

Based on my current point system, he has 26 points to invoke spell effects. Invoking any of the Animate spells for a human sized creature takes 14 points, but lasts as long as he maintains concentration. The stone spheres take only 2 points to animate for the larger ones and 1 point for a smaller one. This doesn't include the form/set costs because we're assuming that the objects he wants to animate have already been created. This seems like he is limited in spells at this point, but the effect of Create Spell Matrix, allows him to store animate spells in certain objects. This means he could create a few of these devices in advance to animate pre-made objects. With the sculpting skill, he could certainly create any number of statutes, humanoid and otherwise. With the Animate Steel spell, he could also use empty suits of armor. Using a few Spell Point stores, he could also spontaneously animate and form/set any other figures he may need.

Still, despite the ability to store spell points in advance, the points feel too low for a 12th level spellcaster. I have the feeling that the arcanist should be able to animate and form/set at least one human-sized object before draining his power points. I like the flexibility of the arcanist at this point, but I'm having trouble with the points to use. I still need to settle on a table that determines what a 1 point effect does compared to higher point effects. I have a good idea based on weight, but want something that would include length, area, information and other variables. Any thoughts are welcome.