[HR] New class: The Magus

I wanted to see if I could create a class who uses a modified spell design rules from the Player’s Companion to create spells on the fly. The result of my attempt is the Magus.

I’m not actually sure if I succeeded. I succeeded in the stated goal, but I don’t know if the class is actually playable at the table; there is quite a good bit of complexity even with my attempts to limit it.

You can find the actual class table here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AqD72wD6I5lndFV5YzlRVGJvaUFYNm90UnhhU3UzX2c&usp=sharing

Most of the information in the table can be found in the giant walls of text below, but the table is a prettier way to access it. The max spell points per spell and total spell points are not recorded in the text. Max spell points per spell is equal to 10 times the highest level spell a mage of that level could cast. Total spell points is a base of 5, plus 5 per total spell level castable by a mage of that level; so 5 for each 1st level spell, 10 for each 2nd, etc. I went with 5 instead of 10 for two reasons; one, the versatility is worth something and two, creating your spells on the fly means you need never include contingency power, your spell only needs to be as strong as you need at the time. For example, if your target is 60’ away, there is no reason to build a spell with 150’ range, you can just make it 60’ range and save on points.

Magus levels up as mage, has a d4 hit die, attack throws and saving throws as mage. They have traded away their two-handed weapon fighting style for the Overchannel ability; all other abilities are part of their Alternate-Arcane 4.

So, with no further introduction, the Magus.

A magus character is an arcane spellcaster of great power. Instead of studying spells locked into rigid forms as a wizard does, he shapes raw magical energy to weave his spells out of Patterns and Threads at the time he needs them. This is both his strength and his weakness; the rigid structure of a wizard’s spells act as rebar, allowing them to hold a greater capacity for raw power than the magus is capable of. On the other hand, a clever magus need only use the minimum amount of power necessary to solve his specific task, while the wizard’s spells are built with power to spare such that they can be used in a wide variety of situations. A magus should not seek to emulate the spells of a wizard; that way lies failure. Instead, the magus should seek to most efficiently and intelligently use his own reserves of magical energy.

A magus is not trained in combat. His attack throws increase by two points every six levels (as mage) and he may use only the club, dagger, dart, and sling. He may not wear armor of any kind.

The process of magus spellcasting (which they refer to as the creation of a Weave) begins with a Spell Form. At first level, a magus knows only one form; he will learn another at 3rd, 6th, 9th, and 12th level (for a total of five). The Spell Forms are Blast, Death, Detection, Enchantment, Illusion, Movement, Protection, Summoning, Transmogrification, and Wall.

After selecting his Weave’s Form, a magus must select a Pattern from within the form. When he first learns a Spell Form, he knows only a single Pattern within it. Each time a magus learns a new Spell Form, he also learns an additional Pattern for each Form he previously know. (Thus, a magus at 12th level knows five Spell Forms, with 5/4/3/2/1 Patterns in them; he will know five Patterns in the form he learned at first level, and only one Pattern for his final form at 12th level.) As you can see, it is important to select any form you wish to specialize in early, or you will not learn sufficient customization in it to allow you to do more than spray power out wildly.

After selecting a Form and a Pattern, the Form or Pattern chosen may require you to make additional choices. For example, if the magus selects the Form “Blast” and the Pattern “1d4 damage per level”, he must then select the saving throw required (if one is allowed) and the area of effect (a Blast form allows you to select either 1 creature within range or a 5’ diameter sphere). A first level magus is then done, as he knows no Threads and would not be allowed to use any if he did. However, a higher level magus may modify his Form and Pattern by use of Threads, up to the maximum number of Threads allowed for his level.

Threads come in four types; Effect, Shape, Range, and Duration. Their effects are largely what you would expect from their names; Effect threads modify the effect of the weave; for example, one Effect thread in the Blast form is “Maximum of 1d damage.” Shape threads modify the delivery mechanism; does it target creatures, is it an area of effect, does it require an attack throw, and so on. Range threads modify the range, and Duration threads modify the duration.

As they gain levels, a magus will learn many threads of the different types.
At levels 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12 a magus learns an effect thread for each spell form that he knows.
At levels 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 a magus learns a shape thread for each spell form that he knows.
At levels 2, 6, 10, 14 a magus learns a range thread for each spell form that he knows.
At levels 3, 6, 9, 12 a magus learns a duration thread for each spell form that he knows.

(At those levels where you learn both a new Spell Form and a new Thread, you learn a Thread of that type in your new Form as well.)

The way this works out in total:
Your 1st level form will learn 6 Effect, 6 Shape, 4 Range, 4 Duration threads.
Your 3rd level form will learn 5 Effect, 5 Shape, 3 Range, 4 Duration threads.
Your 6th level form will learn 4 Effect, 4 Shape, 3 Range, 3 Duration threads.
Your 9th level form will learn 2 Effect, 2 Shape, 2 Range, 2 Duration threads
Your 12th level form will learn 1 Effect, 1 Shape, 1 Range, 1 Duration thread.

After a magus creates their Weave, they must pay for it. Each Pattern has a cost, and each Thread modifies that cost; in addition, other things included in a Spell Form (such as the type of saving throw allowed) may modify the cost. After calculating the cost, when the Weave is cast, the calculated cost is deducted from the magus’ spell points. If the cost is over the magus’ maximum allowed spell points in a single Weave, or the magus does not have enough spell points left to pay for it, the spell fails (unremarkably). No Weave can be cast for an expenditure of fewer than 5 points. Should the calculation of cost arrive at a decimal, round up to the next whole number (a calculated cost of 7.01 points costs the magus 8 points to cast).

Just as a mage, it takes a magus one full round to cast a Weave; the intent to cast a Weave, and the specific Weave to be cast, must be announced before rolling initiative. Any damage sustained during the process ruins the Weave; not only is the time lost, but the spell points are deducted from the magus as if it was cast.

At fifth level, a magus learns to Overchannel, and exceed their Maximum Spell Points in a single Weave. Once per day, they may safely exceed their Maximum Spell Points by up to 5 points (they still must pay for the total cost of the Weave). If a magus exceeds their maximum a second time in a day, or exceeds it by more than 5 points (up to a maximum of 20 points), the magus must make a Magical Research throw. On a success, the Weave is successfully cast (again, the magus must still pay the full cost). On a failure, the Weave is not successfully cast; however, as a result of their failed attempt, the magus must pay their Maximum Spell Point value for the failed Weave. Should a magus roll a natural 20 on their Overchannel attempt, circumstances have favored the Weave they were creating, and they need pay only their Maximum Spell Point value instead of the full cost of the Weave. Should a magus roll a natural 1 on their Overchannel attempt, something has gone horribly wrong, and the Judge should select a magical mishap table for the magus to roll on appropriate to the Weave they were attempting to cast. (If nothing seems appropriate, use the Spell Research table.) It is a Minor mishap if the magus was attempting to Overchannel by up to 5, a Major mishap if the magus was attempting to Overchannel by up to 10, and a Catastrophic mishap if the magus was attempting to overchannel by up to 20. Any attempt to Overchannel 21 points or more automatically causes the Weave to fail and incurs a Catastrophic mishap. Further, any attempt to Overchannel above a total of 60 points always causes a minimum of a Major mishap if it fails.

Also at fifth level, a magus may brew potions and scribe magical scrolls. When creating magic items, a magus must be able to create a Weave that mimics the effect of the spell that would be required to create the potion or scroll. For example, in order to create a scroll of Burning Hands, the magus must be able to create a Weave that deals 1d4 fire damage per caster level with a maximum of 5d4, in a cone 40’ long and 20’ wide, that allows a saving throw for half damage. This requires knowledge of the Pattern 1d4 damage per level, the Effect thread maximum 5d, the Effect thread elemental damage, and the Shape thread 40’ long 20’ wide cone. Further, he must be able to build a Weave out of three Threads; he must thus actually be 8th level to create a scroll of burning hands. In practice, while a magus has no direct limitations on his ability to create magic items, it is much more difficult for him to do than a mage.

At 9th level, a magus learns how to cross the Warp and Weft into a single Weave. He may select a Pattern from each of two different spell forms and use them in a single Weave. The baseline effects of this Weave are formed from the least advantageous effects of both Forms (for example, if one Form has a default range of 30’, and one has a default range of 150’, the range of this Weave is 30’). Any Threads selected apply only to the Form associated with that Thread; the magus must still obey his maximum number of Threads.

Also at 9th level, a magus may craft permanent magical items such as rings and staves. Like creating potions, he must be able to create a Weave that mimics the effect of each spell required to build the item.

Finally, at 11th level, a magus can begin to cast ritual spells of great power. A magus does not need to learn ritual spells, though he does need to cast them as a mage would. However, he is limited to ritual spells that he could build as, essentially, an Overchanneled Weave. A Weave of up to 70 points is a 7th level ritual, up to 80 points is an 8th level ritual, and up to 90 points is a 9th level ritual.

The Spell Forms are simply the spell design types from the Player’s Companion, minus Healing, because this is an arcane class. In order to transform a spell design page into an appropriate resource for this class:

In the Effects table, everything that costs a flat number of points is a Pattern. Everything that acts as a modifier is an Effect Thread.

In the Targeting table, every modifier is an individual Shape thread.

Each modifier in the Range table is a Range thread.

Each modifier in the Duration table is a Duration thread.

All spells are built as Arcane for Source modifiers.

You automatically learn all of the Saving Throw modifiers when you learn the spell form.

By default, anything that costs x1 is part of the default effects of any Weave built from the Form. In some cases, you may decide that it’s useful enough to justify being a thread.

In order to make more playable at the table, I recommend making a rounding pass. Depending on how simple you want to make it, you can round to whatever (I like rounding base effects to the nearest 10 or 5 and threads to the nearest .25, but there’s some eyeballing involved as well). If multiple threads or effects round to the same number, pick one and remove the other(s).

For some spell types (Detection is a big outlier here), there aren’t enough modifiers to fill out all of the threads, and maybe someone wanted to play a Detector. If that is the case, the magus may learn a new Pattern and use it as if it were a thread or a Pattern, whichever is more advantageous for him at the time. (Thus, if he wanted to make a detection spell that could detect both evil and invisible, he could do that, which is normally not allowed for a magus. If he wanted to just detect invisible, he could also do that, even though normally you can’t select a thread without selecting a Pattern as well.) Alternately, if you as the Judge do not like this result, you can create new threads for them to use.

The following is my rounding-pass version of the Blast spell form. (I have not gone through every spell type for this, and I’m not sure it would be appropriate to post them if I had, since it’s very on the line of just outright posting large tracts from the book. I figure one example is appropriate.)

Default Effects
Choose either 1 creature or 5’ diameter sphere for targeting
120’ range
Instantaneous duration.
Damage dice have no maximum.
No save is allowed - x1
Save for half - x.75
Save negates entirely - x.5

1d4 damage per level - 20
1d6 damage per level - 30
1d8 damage per level - 40
1d12 damage per level - 50
Spell induces nausea (as stinking cloud) - 10
Gusting (as gust of wind) - 20

Effect Threads
Max 1d - x.1
Max 2d - x.25
Max 3d - x.3
Max 4d - x.5
Max 5d - x.7
Max 6d - x.8
Max 7d - x.9
Effect is elemental (of an element of your choice) - x1

Shape Threads
1 creature + 1 per 5 levels - x2
1 creature + 2 per 5 levels - x3
1 creature + 1 per 2 levels - x4
1 creature per level within 30’ diameter - x5
1 creature per level - x7

10 foot cube - x1.5
10’ diameter 30’ tall cylinder - x1.5
60’ long 5’ wide line - x2
20’ diameter sphere - x2
40’ long 20’ wide cone - x3
25’ diameter sphere - x4
60’ long 30’ wide cone - x6

Attack throw required - x.5
Selective targeting within area of effect - x3

Range Threads
0’/Touch - x.25 (a spell with a range of touch automatically requires an attack throw and cannot receive the Attack Throw Required shape thread)
15’ - x.5
60’ - x.75
180’ - x1.1
240’ - x1.2
360’ - x1.5

Duration Threads
1 round - x1.1
Concentration or until target makes save - x2
1 round per level - x4
Concentration - x4

Hmm. Interesting on a first read; will have to give it a second pass when I get home from work. Somewhat concerned that at 1st/2nd level when you only know one form and one pattern, you’re going to have zero versatility… would be interesting to provide an extra pattern or two to the first-known form.

It’s possible that they’d need more than one pattern at first level, but on the other hand, with no threads, they can’t cast most of the patterns anyway. (The stinking cloud pattern is castable by cost, but without a duration thread, it doesn’t actually do anything.)

Also, in order to fix one thing that I think is kind of abusive, I’ve added a minimum cost of 5 points for any weave. I don’t think it’s a good thing if a 2nd level magus can cast a 1d4 damage mini-magic-missile 7 times a day. (1d4 damage per level, max 1d, no save = 2 points). I’ve also added a note on rounding; you always round up, always. Math comes out to 7.01? That costs you 8 points.