Assorted Arcanists

In a previous post I touched on how I might initially design my own wizard class. It draws a lot of elements and concepts from other games, notably Mage: The Ascension and Skyrim, as well as fiction like The Dresden Files and Codex Alera series, A Wise Man's Fear, and The Name of the Wind. Maybe also Harry Potter. The way I envision it despite having access to "only" a few schools overall, the wizard retains much of her flexibility through ritual magic and spell preparation/modification.

With a D&D playtest looking over the horizon, my group has started tossing out ideas in an effort to make magic more diverse and unpredictable (or as unpredictable as a system where magic has explicitly rigid effects can be). Personally I would want other classes to have different areas of expertise, capabilities, and I guess style. Here are my initial thoughts on the artificer, sorcerer, and warlock.

These guys should be really good at charging items with magic, effectively making temporary magic items, constructing permanent magic items (at least if the campaign calls for it), constructs, as well as diverting and/or redistributing magic energies (making them the go-to guys for arcane traps and the like). Ritual magic, especially stuff in the abjuration and transmutation categories, would also be pretty high on the list. After reading The Name of the Wind, I can definitely seeing these guys using lots of runes and formulas.

I could see an artificer draining magic energy from traps, wards, magical environs, etc, and storing it for later. A fire trap could be used to temporarily enchant a sword with some sort of fire effect, create a fire resistance potion, super charge a fire-based ability, or maybe just create a quick-and-dirty explosive item. Weakening the structure of a locked door (or reinforcing it) and crafting talismans that help shield the wearer from magic would also be evocative of the concept. I would also want to see feats/talents/whatever that would allow an artificer to build a golem.

Sorcerers have magic in their blood and should be heavily defined by it. Unlike wizards they do not prepare spells, and they cannot learn new ones on the fly (though could charge them up like a wizard by taking damage or exhausting themselves). A dragon sorcerer might have a breath weapon, be able to harden her skin into scales, or briefly transform her hands into claws to make devastating melee attacks. An aberrant sorcerer might feature tentacles, warp reality around her, and even be able to mutate other creatures. A fey sorcerer might be able to camouflage herself in the wilderness, shape wood, and command beasts.

Their "spells", such as they are, would be more like...special abilities, I guess, and most would not run out, or would probably refresh given enough time. I suppose this is where encounter-centric powers would fit in well. Abilities similar to rituals might be usable, albeit severely limited. A dragon-blooded sorcerer might be able to grow wings or transform into a dragon, while an aberrant sorcerer might be able to open a gate to the Far Realm. It would just exhaust the hell out of her.

I am on the fence about implements. I think they are great for wizards and other arcanists that learn their magic through a more academic process, and am also thinking that wizards should suffer a penalty without one, while sorcerers can operate just fine on their own. That being said, I am not opposed to focus items that give the sorcerer a bonus or alter their magic.

Another thing I would like to see is some kind of feature where they gain a bonus when bloodied, angry, etc. Like red dragon sorcerers dealing fire damage while bloodied, after using specific magic, or even at a cost.

Seeing as warlocks gain magic from a patron, there should be more emphasis on said patron; it could make demands of the warlock, or be contacted for advice or changing up the warlock's spells. Hell, the warlock might be able to requisition magic or other resources by altering the nature of the pact. The patron could even directly intervene on the warlock's behalf, or make bargains in exchange for aid (especially if the patron is the sort to prey on the character's desperation). I guess that, at the least, the patron will require the warlock to in some way further its ends, punishing her--or at least trying to--if she fails/refuses.

As with sorcerers, the available spells would be limited thematically to the nature of the patron; I do not see the star pact allowing the warlock to summon devils or open portals to the Feywild, and infernal pacts are not going to be conjuring tentacles or sending pixies on errands. Unlike the sorcerer, I see ritual magic being a greater aspect of the class, especially when it comes to contacting the patron (or related parties). I also see warlocks using focuses and specially granted weapons. I really like where the hexblade went with this.

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