Tuesday, May 10, 2005

New Sorceror-Arcanist (Draft)

  1. Must carry spellbook(s) (one page per spell level, like a wizard). Other surfaces can be substituted for literal books of spells, as long as they can contain writing symbols. It is up to the DM's judgement how much of a surface is necessary to contain one spell level.
  2. Arcanists prepare for spellcasting by studying spellbooks for 30 minutes after each rest period. This study prepares the arcanist to cast any of the spells he knows, according to the usual spells per day table, in the usual fashion of a sorcerer.
  3. The details of each arcanist's spellbook are particular to that arcanist alone. Thus, finding another arcanist's spellbook is almost useless.
  4. When an arcanist is studying, he must choose a mood. In order to cast any spells that day, he must remain in or regain the mood he was in during the study period, or the symbols he memorized will not work. (This means he cannot attempt to cast a spell, not that the spell fails.) At his option, the mood might be different for different spells. For example, an arcanist might study in a placid mood, and he must be able to calm himself to placidity again in the heat of combat in order to cast spells. Or he might require an angry mood to cast magic missile, and a happy mood to cast charm person.
  5. The arcanist learns new "known" spells according to the following schedule.
    • At Arcanist level 1 the arcanist knows 6 L0 spells, and 3 L1 spells.
    • No new known spells are gained at Arcanist L2.
    • Each level thereafter, the arcanist learns new spells at a rate of one spell level per arcanist level, plus the arcanist's charisma bonus. These may be used to purchase spells at whatever level the arcanist desires. L0 spells may be purchased at a rate of 0.5 spell levels each.
    For example, an arcanist with 15 CHA (+2) will gain 3+2=5 spell levels of known spells at Arcanist L3, and 4+2=6 spell levels at L4.
  6. The new known spells acquired by an arcanist are limited by the same spell level progression as the sorcerer. At class level 4, the arcanist may take his first 2nd-level spell; at class level 6 the arcanist may take his first 3rd-level spell, and so on.
  7. Unlike the standard sorcerer, the arcanist may not swap spells.
  8. Arcanists can research new, undiscovered spells just like wizards, but to do so they must reserve some of the spell levels they gain upon reaching a new level, an amount equal to the spell level of the spell to be researched. These will be used when the spell research completes successfully.
  9. Arcanists who are ability damaged may find that some of the pages in their spellbooks no longer function, according to how many CHA points were lost. For example, a L5 arcanist with 14 CHA who is ability damaged to 11 CHA goes from +2 to +0, and so loses the use of 2*5=10 spell levels worth of spells. If the damage is temporary, the pages will work again when the effect ends.
  10. Arcanists who gain CHA points get additional pages according to their new bonus, but these new pages can only be written when an arcanist gains a level. For example, a L4 Arcanist who goes from 13 CHA to 16 CHA (+1 to +3) gains 2*4=8 new pages when he gains his next level, but only if the CHA bonus is still in effect. Temporary CHA bonuses can also increase known spells if they are in effect when the arcanist gains a level. But if the temporary bonus ends, the spells gained from it will no longer function.


The arcanist gets more spells known than the sorcerer, which makes him more flexible in the field. The new class also has two new drawbacks over the sorcerer. First, they must carry and protect spellbooks, but don't get the associated advantages of spellbooks (the ability to copy another caster's spells). Second, the character must be able to maintain control over their moods, which provides the player with some roleplaying challenges.


Sorcery is accomplished through befriending and collaborating with ethereal entities known as arcane crafters. Nobody knows what the arcane crafters are. Many think they are agents of divine or diabolic power. Another theory is that they are spirits of the dead, come to assist their descendents. Some whisper that the crafters are a part of the arcanist's own madness (for, do they not pursue the arcanist everywhere he goes?).

Whatever they are, arcane crafters are beings that respond to the spellcasting of arcanists. They seem to be intelligent and aware. They respond to blandishment, friendly overtures and personalities of a compatible nature. And each and every one of them has a name, which must be learned before they will obey the arcanist.

The arcanist succeeds in casting a spell by knowing the right name of the crafter. The entity he will bring out will be different each time he casts a spell, so the names must be learned and memorized each time the arcanist wishes to prepare his spells for the day. This requires 30 minutes after each rest period to prepare, but the arcanist need not choose particular spells to cast in advance, just figure out the names of the arcane crafters that will help him each time he needs one. When casting, the arcanist need not speak any names, merely recall the right one clearly, in addition to executing the other components (somatic, verbal, material) that the spell normally requires.

When the arcanist begins casting a spell, he will become aware of personalities approaching him. They seem to float toward him from the void of other, and when they arrive they whisper and coax and encourage, but they are not visible or audible to anyone else but the arcanist. They come in great masses. Any single spellcasting will bring at least a dozen of them, capering and gibbering in the arcanist's ears and in his mind. Most spells will bring even more of them, hundreds or even thousands, washing over the arcanist's awareness as if every one of the ocean's creatures had a voice that was trapped in a bubble of foam on a wave. Only by concentration can an arcanist stay focused on the task at hand in the face of this benign riot.

Finally, with the summoned entity's name held in his mind, the arcanist cajoles and befriends the entity with his high charisma, and through their collaboration the spell is cast. In game terms, this works exactly like the
usual method of spellcasting for standard sorcerers.

When an arcanist gains a level, he gains new pages of names in his spellbooks. He seeks the council of the arcane crafters, who will automatically come to him and dictate new pages. Arcanists with greater charisma attract more crafters or crafters who are more forthcoming, and more spells will be added. The arcanist listens to the murmur of the arcane crafters and, in a trance-like state, copies their words onto the pages of the spellbook. Arcane crafters are loyal to a particular arcanist alone, so the names cannot be read from another arcanist's spellbook and used.

It is rumored that there are other ways for an arcanist to harness and use more arcane crafters than his Charisma permits, by gaining their allegiance in dark, coercive rites.

More on Spellbooks

Spellbooks are typically leather-bound paper or parchment books, what one traditionally thinks of as a book. However, this need not be the case. Any surface that can contain writing symbols can be a page in a spellbook. Use your imagination. Bangles worn by the character, stone tablets, even tattoos on the visible areas of the character's body might be spell pages. Some of these will be able to contain more spells than others. For the purposes of this discussion, we will think of spellbooks as literal books, and call pages pages.

Spellbooks are not merely lists of names, one to a page. Every page is covered with symbols arranged in arcane patterns and read according to rules that the arcanist memorizes during training. The symbols combine to form the names of arcane crafters. Reading them usually means years of scholarly training, but other cultures might devise different ways of reading the symbols that don't require as much rote learning. For example, the character might carry a mnemonic device such as a piece of jewelery or necklace, and the marks on this device help the arcanist determine what symbols combine to represent useful crafter names.

The form taken by the symbols on page therefore may differ greatly depending on the teaching method used to train the fledgling arcanist. Still there will be many, sometimes dozens and dozens of rules for how to read each page. Some rules pertain to the time of day, to the weather, to astrology, to recent important events. Some pertain to the arcanist himself, his actions, his gender, his height and weight, the garments he's wearing, and his attitude toward law and morality (alignment). His mood also affects which symbols will be effective.