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In four older posts, I covered tweaks to the standard Magic-User. For convenience, they are listed below:
By popular request, a fifth link is provided that deals with the Turn Undead table.
The premises for these posts were simple:
- A class feels different when the mechanics are different.
- The spell table is the primary limiting factor.
- House rule: The standard Magic-User can create scrolls for 100gp per spell level. The process takes a number of days equal to the spell level.
Looking back on these posts, one theme stands out. A different mechanic creates an unreliable spellcaster. When the success is not automatic, like with the standard Magic-User, other things are needed to make the class worthwhile. Here are the pieces so far:
- Creating a spell focus that can guarantee spell casting success without a roll.
- Creating amulets that allow for the Best 2 out of 3 rolling for success.
- Minor counterspell ability that costs highest available spell slot.
- Creating Mnemonics that allow the spellcaster to keep the spell slot in case of failure.
- Gaining lucky numbers that always grant success when rolled.
- Creating magic items that guarantee a range of die rolls will result in a successfully cast spell.
- Minor hex ability based on the Prayer spell.
What can we do with these pieces? Quite a bit.
One way to use these four variant magic-users is to have a campaign world that doesn't have the standard Magic-User. All spellcasters are unreliable, but each type searches/fabricates items that help them make magic more reliable.
I could see this in a Swords & Sorcery type of setting where the four different types of magic-users would have evocative names. The Red Hand, Disciples of the Path, The Feeders, etc. I'm partial to the name I gave the Chainmail spellcasters, the magic-eaters. I could also see where each type is distrustful of the other three. It provides a built-in backstory for the magic-user in the party.
Another campaign idea would put the standard Magic-User as high mages with the other three considered hedge mages. The academics could laugh at a preoccupation with numbers or making charts while they study real magic.
Parts is Parts
Take a mechanic you like:
- Saving Throw
- Chainmail (2d6 + m-u level/2 greater than or equal to 7)
- Custom charts
- Turn Undead table
Decide the consequences of failure:
- Retain spell slot
- Lose spell slot
Decide how the unreliable spellcaster can increase his chances:
- Make something to guarantee success
- Make something to increase the odds of success
Determine, if necessary, how making something increases your chances of success:
- Add an extra dice
- A magic item create a specific number that when rolled is always successful
- A range of results as success
If they make something to increase the odds of success without guaranteeing success, choose a minor ability:
- Mnemonics (Save spell slots at spell failure)
Viola! You have a tweaked class that uses the same tables for spell slots and advancement. There are many different combinations available just for these limited options. A minor ability is roughly based on 2nd level spells or weakened 3rd level spells. I would avoid spells that do damage, but instead choose spells like Locate Object, Mirror Image, a weakened Monster Summoning I, or Rope Trick.
That's it for now, the next post will be about my favorite OGL alternative to the Mind Flayer and then moving to more thoughts about the Words of Power Hack I've been working on.