Legends & Lore: Sorcerers and Warlocks

I know that I already talked about the sorcerer and warlock, but today's Legend & Lore goes a bit more in depth, so I figure I could talk about that (and reiterate some previous points).

As I said before the 3rd Edition version of the sorcerer did not go into much detail, even when a Dragon article added heritages and one of the many spellcaster books added more feats and prestige classes (some that sucked pretty hardcore by all accounts). There was also a lack of spells that made it easy to stick to a theme. 4th Edition was a major improvement in that it added in spell sources from the start (with meaningful benefits), but also lacked enough thematic spells.

The new sorcerer maintains this trend, giving you origin-specific powers that you can use in addition to spells, but introduces a new mechanic in which you gain additional bonuses the more spells you cast in a single day (though, understandably, not many choices).

As I said before much prefer the idea of the sorcerer tapping into her magic just changing her, as opposed to a second soul trying to break free. Do not get me wrong, I do not think that the flavor is bad, just...it could be better. I liken it to Howl from Howl's Moving Castle (and, to a lesser extend, Nue from Karas); the more he used his magic, the more it would change his shape into a weird-looking bird-thing.

I do like the idea of soul-riven as sorcerers that went too far and can no longer turn back (which sounds like what almost happened to Howl, actually), as well as the adventure hook of an evil wizard tapping sorcerers for arcane energy. Makes me think of Final Fantasy VI (and, again, Nue near the end of Karas).

Minor flavor gripe aside, again I think that the sorcerer should physically drain themselves. If the soul-trying-to-break-free is a bad thing, I would also like to see some drawbacks to over casting magic. What about using a recharge timer, and if the sorcerer uses magic again before the time has elapsed, is penalized in some way (potentially becoming a threat to her allies)? What about taking a penalty when you use up half or all of your Willpower, so that it is a kind of double-edged sword? As it stands the sorcerer only benefits, which kind of contrasts with the flavor (though I will say that I would like to see a kind of soul-riven theme that represents partial, permanent transformations).

Having recently referenced Complete Arcane in order to add in an infernal bloodline, warlocks have gone through a bit more change. Initially the 3rd Edition version were conceptually pretty similar to sorcerers in that they sought to harness magical power that suffused themselves. They differed mechanically in that they basically had even less variety in spells, infinite usage, and built-in class features.

4th Edition borrowed 3rd Edition’s binder, changing them so that they were arcanists that short-cutted the whole learning curve by bargaining power from a powerful entity. This gave them a better identity, and some awesome flavor material to boot (even if it was not really expanded upon).

I like that the flavor focuses more on how the warlock gets to where she is, which was mostly glossed over in 4th Edition, as well as--for now anyway--giving names to the patrons and what they are getting out of the deal. This is the kind, or perhaps depth, of flavor material that was missing, and helps a player understand the concept and better realize the character.

My only real flavor gripe is that the warlock has a spellbook for rituals that are granted to her by the patron. That seems kind of odd. If the patron instills the warlock with the power to perform these feats, why have a spellbook at all? Otherwise I would still like to see a system/guidelines/advice for relationship with the patron, kind of like how artifacts had a Concordance rating. I am interested to see how they handle other invocations, as well as how they scale.

1 comment:

  1. Re: Warlocks and spellbooks, I've only skimmed the playtest packet, but I would imagine the answer is "because Patrons don't infuse Warlocks the way Deities infuse Clerics." It strikes me that it's all something of a contractual agreement, and just because the Patron and Warlock have an association doesn't mean there aren't clauses that must be satisfied to tap into that association. (Or, "because it's magic," but that always feels like a cheap answer.) The Warlock has a spellbook not because he accesses his power the way a Wizard does, but because it's more involved than just yelling, "hey, a little help here?"


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