War Wizard

A rough draft. Comments welcome.

The war wizards are a relatively new force in the world, strong-souled individuals who learn to bind spells directly into their flesh with magical inks and runes oddly reminescent of those of the dwarfs of old.

Prime Requisite: CHA.
Requirements: None.
Hit Dice: 1d4.
Maximum Level: 14.
Base XP: 2,450.

At first level, war wizards hit an unarmored foe (AC 0) with an attack throw of 10+. They advance in attack throws and saving throws by two points every three levels of experience (i.e., as fast as fighters), but use the saving throws of thieves. They may fight with all one-handed melee weapons and all missile weapons, and may fight with a weapon in each hand. They are unable to use shields or fight with two-handed weapons, or wear any kind of armor.

War wizards deal +1 damage with melee and missile weapons, and this increases by +1 at third, sixth, ninth, and twelfth level.

War wizards cannot use arcane magic items intended exclusively for mages (such as many wands and staffs); cannot read scrolls; and cannot engage in magical research - for most purposes, they are not casters! They can use any item usable by a fighter or thief.

They gain many abilities over the course of their levels.

Fan of Fire at first level. A ring of intense flames shoots forth from the war wizard’s hand, covering a line 5’ in diameter and 60’ long. All creatures within the fan suffer 1d4 damage per level (maximum 14d6). A successful save versus Blast halves the damage. The war wizard can activate this rune once per hour.

At ninth level, this increases to twice per hour.

Shield at first level. This functions as the first-level mage spell shield. The war wizard can activate this rune once per hour.

Tide of Life at second level. The war wizard can turn undead as a cleric of half level (rounded down).

War Strength at third level. For one turn per level, the war wizard gains the strength of a hill giant. If the war wizard’s attack throw is worse than an 8 HD monster, use that of an 8 HD monster. The war wizard can throw rocks 200’ for 3d6 damage; gains a +16 bonus to force open doors; and doubles the stone that can be carried. All muscle-powered attacks deal double damage dice. The war wizard’s normal Strength modifier to damage remains. The war wizard can activate this rune twice per day.

At seventh level, the war wizard can expend two daily uses of war strength at the same time. This has the effects above and also temporarily raises the war wizard’s Strength to 18 (+3 on attack throws and damage rolls, +3 stone carried, and so on).

At tenth level, the war wizard gains the ability to cast war strength three times per day.

War Aura at third level. The war wizard’s hands are imbued with mystical force. This reduces the penalty for brawling by 2, increases brawling damage to 1d4, and prevents damage to the war wizard when attacking hard armor. When attacking creatures not harmed by normal weapons, the war aura counts as a magical weapon. The war wizard can use this ability at will, and many war wizards (particularly the Guild of Winter) eschew mundane weapons at this point.

At eighth level, this improves to 1d6 damage and eliminates the brawling penalty entirely.

At tenth level, the war wizard can attack from the second rank with it.

At 12th level, it grants a +2 on disarm and knockdown special attacks.

At 14th level, the war wizard gains the ability to throw the war aura up to 60 feet with a normal attack throw.

(Note: I changed this: originally, it also increased to 1d8 at tenth level and 1d10 at 12th level.)

Command of Voice at fourth level. This grants a +2 bonus to reaction rolls when speaking. If this bonus results in a total of 12 or more, the subjects act as if charmed while in the war wizard’s presence. Creatures with a WIS greater than the war wizard’s CHA are immune to this power (and the character will know they are immune).

Fearless at fourth level. The war wizard becomes immune to fear effects, both magical and mundane.

Battle Prowess at fifth level. Any henchmen and mercenaries hired by the war wizard gain a +1 bonus to their morale score whenever led personally by the war wizard.

Fireball at fifth level. This functions as the third-level mage spell fireball. The war wizard can activate this rune once per day. This increases to two times per day at tenth level and three times per day at 14th level.

War Dance at sixth level. The war wizard gains a +1 to AC when wearing no armor; this bonus improves by a further +1 at seventh and 13th level.

Lead from Above at sixth level. For one turn, the war wizard gains a fly 120’ move. The war wizard can activate this rune twice per day.

Remove Curse at seventh level. Once per week, the war wizard can remove curse as the spell.

Deflecting Rune at eighth level. Damage to the war wizard from spells, spell-like abilities, and the war aura ability are all reduced by –1 per die. This increases to –2 per die at 13th level.

Castle at ninth level. The war wizard can establish a castle, attracting 5d10 zero-level mercenaries and 1d6 war wizards of level 1–3.

Shapeshifting at ninth level. The war wizard gains the ability to shapeshift into a particular 6** HD magical beast symbolizing the war wizard’s guild. This rune can be activated twice per day, and lasts for one turn per class level (this transformation cannot be ended early, but can be “set” for a lower duration when first cast). Two are given below:

Guild of Winter: Winter wolf, HD 6**, AC 3, Move 180'. Attack bite 2d8 or frost breath (three times per day, deals 1d6 cold damage per war wizard level to a 5' wide line 100' long). Immune to all cold damage. Winter wolves cannot be harmed by non-magical weapons. Winter wolves gain a +1 on initiative and surprise rolls; and in snowy settings, inflict a –1 on the surprise rolls of others.

Guild of the Sun: Sun falcon, HD 6**, AC 9, Move 60’, fly 480’. Attack bite/claw/claw 2d6/1d4+1/1d4+1 or a swoop attack (claw/claw 1d10/1d10). If a sun falcon hits the same creature with both claws, the sun falcon automatically grabs the creature struck (no saving throw). If the creature is light enough for the sun falcon to carry, the grabbed creature may be carried off. To escape the talons, the creature must make a successful saving throw versus Paralysis at -4. Sun falcons can carry 15 stone at normal movement, or 30 stone at half movement.

While shapeshifted, the war wizard can still activate runes, but cannot use equipment or the war aura ability.

At 11th level, the war wizard gains the ability to end the shapeshifting early.

At 13th level, the war wizard can use war aura while in the alternate form, either in its usual fashion or to augment natural attacks (granting +3 on damage rolls and allowing the natural attack to function as a magical weapon).

At 14th level, the war wizard can shapeshift into the guild beast (or back) at will, but this takes one full turn of concentration.

Summon Beast at tenth level. The war wizard can summon the guild beast once per day; the beast appears within 10 feet of the war wizard, and remains for 1 turn per war wizard level. The beast is always friendly to the wizard’s goals.

At 12th level, the wizard can summon a pack of guild beasts (1d4+1) once per week; these will be led by a single guild beast with 8** HD instead of 6.

Interesting. A wizard that isn’t a mage. You’re really pushing the class-creation envelope. :slight_smile: I wonder how it plays.

Yeah, this class also technically breaks a rule/guideline: it uses thief and warrior custom powers to buy spell-like abilities. It’s kind of a weird build, and I’m not entirely certain how I feel about it yet.

I rolled these scores [STR 12, DEX 11, CON 15, INT 14, WIS 15, CHA 16] for a war wizard (Guild of the Sun), and sacrificed 2 from STR and 2 from CON to get CHA to an 18, for final scores of [STR 10 (+0), DEX 11 (+0), CON 13 (+1), INT 14 (+1), WIS 15 (+1), CHA 18 (+3)].

Sinnéad the war wizard has 5 hit points and AC 0. She rolls 160 gold, and decides to get a dagger, sword, and longbow (quality +1 to hit) for 130 gold, and a small assortment of other goods with the remainder.

Fighting with a sword and dagger, she hits AC 0 with an attack throw of 9; and deals 1d6+1 damage. With the longbow, she also hits AC 0 with a 9 due to its quality, and also deals 1d6+1 damage.

Once each hour (usually this means once per encounter), she can shoot of a line of fire dealing 1d6 damage (save for half) to a 60-foot line. Also once each hour, she can cast shield for AC 5/7.

She’s marginally more useful than the mage in combat, but would fare poorly against a pure fighter (who wears armor and has more lasting power).

At second level, she has 8 hp and can turn undead. Her fan of fire now deals 2d6 damage.

At third level, as long as the party can keep the total encounters at three or below, she can become a monstrously powerful rock-hurler (3d6), deal 2d6 with her bow … and crush dungeon doors to death. War strength lasts long enough that a few combats one after another can benefit from the same casting, as well.

She also has the war aura, although it’s only really useful if she needs a weapon in a pinch, or doesn’t have a magical weapon.

Unfortunately, she only has 12 hp to the fighter’s 21, which means any time she wades into battle could be her last time. In addition, if she wants any AC at all, that’s two rounds of prep before she can start stomping things.

Advantage still definitely the fighter’s.

At fourth level, she has 14 hp (fighter has 24, and will level to 29 while Sinnéad is still fourth) and gains command of voice and fearless.

Her chances of talking her way out of an encounter are pretty damned good, though.

At fifth level, battle prowess for bodyguards and fireball mean she can start to hold her own in combat. The wizard, it should be noted, has shot way past her in spell variety … but when night falls, the war wizard is still reasonably likely to have some tricks up her sleeve. And with fan of fire and fireball, Sinnéad can deal 5d6 twice per encounter, then throw up a shield and war strength and start pounding the enemy with rocks.

Those henchmen better be good guards, though, because she only has 17 hp.

Skipping to 9th level:

War aura is now good enough to replace her sword (1d6, no penalty to hit). She can expend two war strength uses for the improved benefit. Her AC is now 2 (shield raises it to 9/7). Spell damage is now reduced against her and she can fly … and once per week, she can remove curse, which can be handy.

This is also the time to start building a castle. Between her fanatical henchmen, commanding voice, and fantastic people skills … she’s going to be an excellent leader.

Finally, she can turn into a sun falcon three times per day, which is pretty keen.

Skipping to 13th level:

Her war aura deals 1d10+5 damage, can hit the second rank, can be thrown 60 feet, and grants +2 on disarms and knockdowns … and she can do these things while in the form of a sun falcon. She can also augment her sun falcon attacks to 2d6+8/1d4+9/1d4+9 (or 1d10+8/1d10+8 on a swoop).

If she has time to really juice all the buttons before engaging in combat, she can do 2d10+11/2d10+11 on a swoop or 4d6+11/2d4+12/2d4+12 the rest of the time, and bump her AC to 19/17.

It is also worth noting that while in sun falcon form, she can drop a 14d6 fireball from the sky, or swoop in and fan of flame a line of infantry for the same damage.

She can also summon a sun falcon once per day; and 1d4+1 sun falcons plus a champion once per week.

Sadly, she only has 40 hp (the fighter has 78).

I dig this class. Would you mind sharing the build math? I’m curios about how you priced some of the abilities. But I love the concept.

Fighting ability 2 (+1,000 XP), weapons traded down to broad (+150 XP, +1 customs), armor traded down to none (+600 XP, +4 customs), fighting styles traded down to one (+300 XP, +2 customs); thieving ability 2 (+400 XP), all skills traded for custom powers (+0 XP, +5 customs).

Fighting ability granted access to Castle stronghold, so I took that; and that gave the fifth level battle prowess ability.

That gave me 12 customs at first level. I kept two at first level, and swapped the rest for higher levels using the rules in the Player’s Companion. I almost managed two for every level, but there is only one power at 2nd, 5th (not counting the “free” battlefield prowess), and 9th (not counting the stronghold); and there are three powers at 10th and 14th.

Although I may have mis-added some. I haven’t had time to make my usual second pass through all of the math, and this class was kind of complicated :slight_smile:

I’d like to see how the class works out in play. She has some cool tricks up her sleeve but can’t really take any sort of pounding… definitely a glass cannon. She’ll have access to some nifty weapons and nice fighting skills but will be screwed if anyone gets close enough to her for her to use them. :slight_smile:

I agree with Tywyll though, a really neat, weird class.

Cool. What about the unique powers you came up with? And I’m interested in the 3 per day thing and also about Giant Strength which as a fourth level spell shouldn’t be usable but once a week (or did I miss something?).

Giant Strength: transmogrification. Current form gains strength of giant (80), 1 target (x1), range touch (×0.6), duration 3 turns (×0.8), arcane (×1). Total cost 38 (level 4).

War Strength: transmogrification. Current form gains strength of giant (80), 1 target (x1), range self (×0.5), duration 1 turn (×0.7), arcane (×1). Total cost 28 (level 3). Emphasis on changes made.

Most of the other “unique powers” were also built as spells first. When they were all built, I took three of them (fan of fire, war strength, and shapeshifting) and dropped them by one level to represent the vagaries of magical efficiency. I also thought about dropping fireball or reducing its frequency (it’s a mage spell that has higher efficiency than other third-level spells), but ultimately decided it fit the war wizard too well - and the increased percentage of efficient spells was more than made up for by the fact that mages can do almost anything, while war wizards can only perform these few tricks.

“Three per day” is “once per eight hours” converted. I’m considering making the conversion less perfect, however, like “two per day” instead. You lose one possible casting, but you’re more flexible.

War aura was built by feel, comparing it to claw/claw/bite attacks, and the utility of being able to use magical weapons.

Deflecting rune is a reversed (magical only instead of nonmagical) and weakened (I expended one full custom power per –1 damage, and there’s no AC bonus) form of the dwarven flesh-runes ability. It’s why high-level war wizards don’t always end in mutual kills :-).

Glass cannon, that’s the word I was looking for :slight_smile:

The mage is better artillery, and the fighter is better front-line … but she can do some awesome things before she gets knocked flat. I suspect that in play, the war wizard will require some serious care to stay alive. On the other hand, I also suspect that a CHA prime requisite is vaguely abusive, given how important CHA is in the game :-).

Vulfelind’s character ended last session with mummy rot and 1 hp, so she’s started looking around for new characters to play (though she may end up taking over Grizzba), and she came across the war wizard … so I told her I would look at it.

I don’t know how the Player’s Companion does builds, but just as a DM, I think I would make the following changes to the class as written:

  1. d6 hit die. It’s really too fragile for what it does.

  2. Drop all 3/day abilities to 2/day. And the 6/day to 3/day. I like the players to feel they have to manage their resources.

  3. Weaken the war aura ability. Maybe keep the side benefits, but never increase the damage above 1d6 (the idea of a second-rank trip attack is neat, but 1d10 on top?).

  4. Drop tide of life and summon beast. It may be balanced, but I prefer to leave the undead to the clerics, and the summoning to the proper mages. With that CHA, if this character needs allies, she should hire them.

  5. I noticed that this one and the other one don’t have class proficiencies?

I think I agree on the abilities/day and war aura.

Tide of life is there because I see war wizards as primarily commanders, and - at least in the mythology of my setting - turning back the chaos of undeath is part and parcel to that.

Class proficiencies: Frankly, I’m not sure I will be using the class lists in my home campaign - I’d rather let the players take whatever seems appropriate to their character and background (with GM oversight, of course) than try to work out umpteen different incomplete lists. Since all classes tend to have the same number of class proficiencies, I don’t see the specific 28 items as being a balancing point.

(I can see them being ways of enforcing archetypes, but I’d rather enforce PC uniqueness and just ask the players to avoid heavy overlaps.)

Tweaked some things in response to comments. Thanks folks!

Ah right, I missed the duration changes.

Here’s one of my versions of the concept:

There is some balancing done with regard to the selection of which proficiencies are made available to which classes. One great example is in the Elven Enchanter class list, which specifically excludes some potent proficiencies such as Battle Magic and Elementalism. 

You can certainly do without the restrictions, but it can lead to some 3.5-esque min-maxing if your group is so inclined. I tried to foreclose that by making the lists. 


Unfortunately, I have no idea what the balance considerations are for the class lists. Looking at the elven enchanter, I don’t understand why those were excluded, other than flavor and keeping to the 30 maximum for that class. (Or why Battle Magic and Elementalism would be more potent than Beast Friendship, Diplomacy, and Familiar, which would easily eat up my elven enchanter’s entire class proficiency selection.)

Given that there are balance considerations, and I am apparently blind to them, I am even less likely to want to produce such a list - a list is a promise, “stick to this and it will be okay,” and if I can’t make the promise, I won’t make the list.

That’s not a complaint: I’m glad the existing class lists are balanced :-). But I don’t see how my making a class list for the war wizard will have good results, and I’d rather stick to my competencies.

And I tend to work fairly closely with my players. It’s easy enough to nudge them away from specific horrors in conversation, than to guess at all possible combinatorial horror they might manage in the future and pre-emptively remove them.

You might try checking out my version, the Warden, which has a bit more staying power (thanks to d6 HD) and are meant to act as magical bodyguards to wizards (though they can fight well on their own merits). Their abilities stick with the Player’s Companion once per hour or once per 8 hour set up.

If nothing else:

  1. AC-stacking can be avoided with lists that only include at most one AC booster.

  2. You can weaken a proficiency list by including a lot of things from the General list. The General proficiencies are all weaker - by roughly half - than the non-General proficiencies. Healing is an exception, probably to counter-balance the brutality of ACKS.

  3. Class lists control class flavor quite a bit. I’d rather have flavorful lists than balanced lists, on the whole, so please don’t worry too much about balancing them on my account :-).

Hey Thomas,

Did you post your tweaked version and I’m missing it or did you just keep it for your own campaign? I’d love to see the second pass.

I tweaked them in the original post. They weren’t very large tweaks, and were for relatively obvious things (no massive 1d10 damage for the war aura, for example, and dropping the 3/day to 2/day).