Posts Tagged With: Wizard

Animal Companion (Druid Spell) and Familiar Bond (Wizard Spell) (DnD 5e)

Animal Companion

2nd-Level Enchantment (Ritual)

  • Casting Time: 1 Day
  • Range: 20 Feet
  • Components: V, S, M (100sp of Charcoal, Herbs, and Incense that must be consumed in a fire)
  • Duration: Instantaneous

The Druid gains the companionship of a Beast of no more than CR½ that is present during the course of the ritual, popular animal choices include, but are not limited to, Black Bears, Boars, Deer, Hawks, Owls, Panthers, Ravens, and Wolves. A Druid of 11th level of greater may gain the companionship of a Beast up to CR1.

The Druid may speak with their animal companion at all times in a way similar to the Speak with Animals spell (q.v.)

The animal companion acts independently of the Druid and is a “boon companion” rather than a familiar or other similar spirit aide. In combat it rolls its own initiative and takes its own actions. The animal companion gains hit dice such that it always has the same number of hit dice as their Druid companion, and they are allowed either Ability Score Improvements or Feats at the same time as their Druids gain the same improvement. Their proficiency score is always equal to that of their Druid, and they may use the Druid’s Intelligence and Wisdom saves instead of their own

The animal companion remains with the Druid until death or until it is released – while amazingly hale and hearty it’s lifespan is not greater than that of its wilder brethren. Released companions often stay near to Druidic places of Power and act as guardians as the Druids take care of them in their final years. Additionally, nothing prevents a Druid from Awakening (q.v.) an Animal Companion – often making these guardians quite dangerous.

A Druid may only have one Animal Companion at a time.

 

Familiar Bond

2nd-Level Enchantment (Ritual)

  • Casting Time: 8 Hours
  • Range: 10 Feet
  • Components: V, S, M (30sp of Charcoal, Herbs, and Incense that must be consumed in a fire in a brazier)
  • Duration: Instantaneous

Unlike the 1st-Level Find Familiar (q.v.) which summons a spiritual “Fetch” to aid the magic user, the spell Familiar Bond creates an oath-bound alliance between the Wizard and an allied creature. Often performed with infant animals (or possibly with the animals parents in some cases), the spell creates an intense bond that cannot be broken save by either the violation of the agreement by the Wizard – these creatures rarely exceed CR½. In exceedingly rare cases, bonds may even be formed with Fey, Celestials, or Fiends if the Wizard can contact appropriately powerful entities from the appropriate Court to negotiate with – these creatures can be CR1 or possibly even higher if the oath’s are worthy of it.

The Familiar rolls its own initiative and takes its own actions. The hit dice of the Familiar is always at least equal to their Wizard, and the Familiar may always use the Wizards proficiency bonus as well. If the Wizards saves are better the Familiar may also substitute those saves for their own. The Familiar also gains Ability Score improvements and Feats at the same time as their Wizard.

The Wizard may communicate telepathically with the Familiar if they within 100 feet of each other, and they may also, as an Action, “ride along” with one or more senses of their Familiar (being oblivious to their own matching sense at while doing so).

The Familiar can maintain Concentration for one spell that the Wizard has cast as long as they are within 100 feet of the caster. The Familiar may act as the “point of origin” for purposes of range for the Wizard as long as they are within 100 feet.

If the Familiar takes damage, the Wizard takes an equal amount of Psychic damage (that bypasses any Resistance or Immunity). The Wizard is also Stunned for one round (Charisma Save, DC15, for no effect). If the Familiar is reduced to zero hit points then the Wizard immediately takes Psychic damage equal to the Familiar’s Hit Points (Charisma Save, DC15, Half Damage, other bypassing any Resistance or Immunity). They are also automatically Stunned for one round. Both Wizard and Familiar have Advantage on Death Saves while the other is still alive. If the Familiar is slain, the Wizard is affected as if by a Feeblemind spell (DC10+ Familiar’s Hit Dice).

A Wizard may only have one Familiar at a time, though they may also have a Fetch as summoned by the 1st-Level Find Familiar spell.

 

NOTE: Yes, a multi-classed Druid/Warlock/Wizard could have an Animal Companion, a Pact of the Chain Familiar, a Fetch, and a Familiar. If they were also a Ranger with the Beast Master Archtype they could also have Ranger’s Companion as well.

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Tools and Instruments of the Wizard (5e)

Humans wizards and those trained by them or in their traditions, have developed a selection of tools and instruments that even beginning wizards start their careers with. This includes Sorcerers and Warlocks, as well as Eldritch Knights and Arcane Tricksters – though only Wizards use Grimoires and Codices or gain any benefit from the spells contained within. Their training represents quite an investment of time and energy on the part of their Master, and the world at large is often even more hostile to wizards than it is to other adventurers. As a result, part of the training of a Wizard involves the creation or attunement to their Foci. This investment has the unfortunate effect that any opponent who holds a Wizard’s Wand, Kris, or Staff (or Orb or Wizard Blade) gains Advantage against that Wizard’s spells and other magical effects. Any Wizard who has their Wand, Kris, or Staff broken or destroyed suffers 1d4 Psychic damage per level – these items have an AC of the appropriate material, Hit Points equal to 2x the Wizard’s level, a Damage Threshold equal to the Wizard’s level, and Resistance to non-magical weapons. A Wizard’s Wand, both Kris, and Staff must be Attuned items. The same is true for Orbs, Wizard Blades, and Wizard Aegis or any other similar or related item.

The Wizard’s Grimoire – All Wizards maintain a Grimoire in which they record their spells and other arcane formula. In appearance it can vary immensely, from a collection of loose papers and scrolls to the most impressive of tomes, bound in dragonskin and with black adamant bindings. Learning a new spell and transcribing it into a Grimoire takes two hours and 50sp per level of the spell, copying a spell you already know into a new Grimoire only takes 1 hour and 10sp per level of the spell. A standard Grimoire has roughly 100 pages, and each spell take up one page per level of the spell.

The Wizard’s Codex – These are the basic instructional manuals of magic, with a selection of easy to understand and basic spells of varying levels depending upon the Codex itself. The spells and other arcane secrets contained within them reveal the beliefs and attitudes of the creator about the proper development or practices of a wizard at the various levels. There are numerous examples of a Codex, from the ponderous and ubiquitous, ten-volume Codex Magic, to the Sefer Ratziel of the Church of the Lords of Light, or even the classic Book of Seven penned by the great mage Dulain. A wizard always begins play with a basic Codex as determined by the DM.

Both the Grimoire and Codices are Resistant to all damage types, and they are Immune to Fire and Arcane damage. They have Advantage to save against all spells or spell-like effects.

The Wizard’s Wand – The Wizard’s Wand is their primary arcane focus (Components are a backup). It can have a variety of appearances, from a simple wooden implement to an ornate creation of adamant and diamond to a solidified creation of elemental fire. In any case, a Wand as an Arcane Focus replaces the need for Components and the possession of one invariably marks the bearer as a Wizard.

The Wizard’s Kris – A wizard’s kris are two double-edged daggers, they could be bodice knives, they could be fighting knives, the style depends upon the wizard in question. There is a white-handled kris and a black-handled kris, the white is for physical and mundane threats, the black is for spiritual and magical threats. They can be used for offense and defense, in combat or otherwise. Each are specifically enchanted against those threats (the white is treated as Coldsilver Enchanted Blade, the black grants the wizard the effects of a Protection vs Good & Evil spell while drawn and held). A Kris is also an Arcane Focus, and can substitute for a Wand if need be. It is quite common for wizards to layer enchantments upon their Kris, increasing them in potency as they advance in level – it also common for a wizard to replace them over the years with more substantial creations.

It is not uncommon for higher level mages to have even more puissant resources such as the following.

The Wizard’s Staff – The Wizard’s Staff is, in some ways, their most puissant instrument aside from their spells themselves. It combines the abilities of the Wand to aid in the casting of spells and those of the Kris to protect the mage and act as a weapon. This potency and utility comes with a price however, a wizard who has created a Wizard’s Staff but does not hold it or another Arcane Focus (other than Components) has Disadvantage when casting spells and saving against magic. The benefits:

  • Allows use of the Light Cantrip.
  • Treated as a+1 weapon per five full levels of the Wizard class.
  • Provides an AC bonus equal to half the Proficiency Bonus of the Wizard.
  • Can hold Concentration for one spell cast by the Wizard.
  • The Wizard gains one additional Spell Slot for each Spell Level.
  • The Staff may be summoned to the Wizard’s hand if the Wizard is 9th Level or greater.
  • The Wizard always knows where their staff is located.

The Wizard’s Orb – Similar to the Staff, the Wizard’s Orb is a puissant magical instrument in its own right. It functions quite similarly to a Staff, and has the same potential problem. A wizard who has created a Wizard’s Orb but does not hold it or another Arcane Focus (other than Components) has Disadvantage when casting spells and saving against magic. The benefits are as follows:

  • Allows use of the Light Cantrip.
  • Act’s as a Crystal Ball.
  • Can hold Concentration for one spell cast by the Wizard.
  • The Wizard gains one additional Spell Slot for each Spell Level.
  • The Orb may be summoned to the Wizard’s hand if the Wizard is 9th Level or greater.
  • The Wizard always knows where their Orb is located.
  • Is always controlled as if under the effects of a Mage Hand cantrip.

A Wizard Blade – A rarer instrument, a Wizard Blade is a combination of a Wand, Kris, and Staff, usually in the form of a Shortsword or Longsword. Much like a Staff or Orb a wizard who has created a Wizard Blade but does not hold it or another Arcane Focus (other than Components) has Disadvantage when casting spells and saving against magic. The benefits of using a Wizard Blade are the following:

  • Allows use of the True Strike Cantrip.
  • Always treated, at a minimum, as a Coldsilver, Enchanted Weapon.
  • Treated as a+1 weapon per five full levels of the Wizard class.
  • Does additional Force Damage equal to the Proficiency Bonus of the Wizard
  • Can hold Concentration for one spell cast by the Wizard.
  • The Wizard gains one additional Spell Slot for each Spell Level.
  • The Wizard Blade may be summoned to the Wizard’s hand if the Wizard is 9th Level or greater.
  • The Wizard always knows where their Wizard Blade is located.

A Wizard’s Aegis – A term for a somewhat ubiquitous magical item that has protective and occasionally offensive properties. The most basic forms consist of a broad gorget, commonly made of precious metals in a serpent- or dragon-scale pattern or motiff with a stylized representation of some fearsome, supernatural beast on the front. More advanced forms of the Aegis also include a cuirass of shining, metallic scales that cover the chest and upper arms of the wearer (AC11). Occasionally an Aegis includes a matching ephaptis (fighting cloak) made of a similar leathery and metallic scales (AC12) that can be used by Wizard.

  • The Wizard is under the Effects of Blade Ward Cantrip at all times.
  • The Wizard has Resistance to Force damage.
  • Provides a bonus to AC equal to +1 per five full levels of the Wizard class.
  • The Wizard has Advantage on saves versus Spells and Magical Effects.
  • The Wizard may use a Hellish Rebuke, but the damage is Psychic and the Save is Wisdom.
  • The Wizard may cast Fear once, with 15’ radius Area, usable again after a Short Rest.

Elves do not use or create Wands, either not needing them or preferring to use a piece of jewelry as an Arcane Focus. Their Wizards have Longknives that operate as both Kris combined, and while some use Staves, others (especially their Eldritch Knights) have a sword or occasionally a spear that functions as a Wizard Blade. Instead of Grimoires they use Crystals that record the formula, and many of their Codices are in similarly strange and wondrous forms.

Sh’dai do use and create Wands but invariably create and use Wizard Blades rather Staves early in their career. Their most powerful Wizards often craft a full complement of instruments and tools, unlike human wizards which often omit a Wizard Blade. Rather than Kris, they create a dark weapon known as a Fellblade that functions as both Kris combined.

Dragonborn have a long history of Arcane study, and live and breath Arcane energies as part of their essential nature. As a result of this, both Sorcerer and Monk levels count for purposes of determining the power of their Staff (and these are commonly used). They use a peculiar tri-bladed form of Kris that are otherwise identical in function (though they are also known to make them in a Shortsword format), and as noted in their description they have no need for an Arcane Focus so they rarely if ever make or use Wands. The Dragonborn record their spells in a variety of idiosyncratic methods (scrolls and tomes, flame sculptures, wind chimes and mobiles, etc), making it difficult to make any statement about Grimoires in specific.

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When Mage Armor and Shield simply isn’t enough… (5e)

These are two of the more ubiquitous spells for Wizards, found in many codices and grimoires across the Mortal Realm. Even if not found within a wizard’s current codex, they are often among the first researched, begged, borrowed, or stolen as they advance in level.


Journeyman’s Hauberk

3rd-Level Abjuration (Ritual)

  • Casting Time: 5 Minutes
  • Range: Self
  • Components: VSM (100sp of Diamond Dust))
  • Duration: 7 Days

Perhaps one of the most ubiquitous of spells for the adventuring mage, Journeyman’s Hauberk sits firmly between spells like Mage Armor and Shield, and Mantle or Master’s Lorica as a standby of personal protection and utility. The spell has the following properties:

  • Grants a benefit of +4 to Armor Class
  • Provides a phantom 15 Hit Points, that absorbs or ablates damage.
    • If these Phantom Hit Points run out, the spell is dispelled.
  • The bearer of the spell benefits from a Protection from Evil enchantment
  • Absorbs Force damage
    • This damage “recharges” the phantom hit points granted by the armour at a 2:1 ratio.
  • The bearer of the spell has Advantage to all Saving Throws
  • Allows the bearer of the spell to Detect Magic by touch
  • Allows the bearer of the spell to Detect Illusion by touch

This spell is notable in that it requires a rather unique and unalterable material component that is perhaps its sole restriction on use by many mages, and that is 100sp worth of Diamond Dust is needed for each casting. The spell itself produces no visible effect (unlike, say, Phantom Armour) but it’s effects can clearly be seen or perceived by others when they come into play.  No other spells of a similar nature (Mage Armor, Protection from Energy, etc) can be used while this spell is in effect. The spell cannot be Dispelled, nor is it removed by Globes of Invulnerability, and is generally only able to be removed by actual anti-magical effects.

At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of 4th level of higher it last for an additional day and has an additional 5 phantom hit points, for each spell slot above 3rd that is used.


Master’s Lorica

6th-Level Abjuration (Ritual)

  • Casting Time: 5 Minutes
  • Range: Self
  • Components: VSM (100sp worth each of Diamond, Sapphire, Emerald, and Amethyst Dust)
  • Duration: 7 Days

An advancement and a refinement of the Journeyman’s Hauberk spell, Master’s Lorica as a standby of personal protection and utility, for Master-class mages. It is often considered a far more useful spell than Mantle given it’s simplicity and blanket protections. The spell has the following properties:

  • Grants a benefit of +7 to Armor Class
    • The bearer is also Immune to non-Enchanted weapons.
    • The bearer has Resistance to Slashing, Piercing, & Bludgeoning Damage
  • Provides a phantom 30 Hit Points, that absorbs or ablates damage.
    • If these Phantom Hit Points run out, the spell is dispelled.
    • The bearer may spend 1d4 of these phantom Hit Points to Dispel Magic on single enchantment by touch
  • The bearer of the spell benefits from a Protection from Evil enchantment
  • Absorbs Force damage.
    • This damage “recharges” the phantom hit points granted by the armour at a 2:1 ratio.
  • The bearer of the spell has Resistance to Fire, Cold, Thunder, and Lightning.
  • The bearer of the spell has Advantage to all Saving Throws
  • Allows the bearer of the spell to Detect Magic by touch
  • Allows the bearer of the spell to Detect Illusion by touch

Much like Journeyman’s Hauberk, the Master’s Lorica requires unalterable material components that is perhaps the sole restriction on use by many mages, and that is 100sp worth each of Diamond, Sapphire, Emerald, and Amethyst Dust is needed for each casting. The spell itself produces no visible effect (unlike, say, Phantom Armour) but it’s effects can clearly be seen or perceived by others when they come into play. No other spells of a similar nature (Mage Armor, Protection from Energy, etc) can be used while this spell is in effect. The spell cannot be Dispelled, nor is it removed by Globes of Invulnerability, and is generally only able to be removed by actual anti-magical effects.

At Higher Levels: When the spell is cast using a spell slot of 7th level of higher it last for an additional week and has an additional 10 phantom hit points, for each spell slot above 6th that is used.

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Sefer Ratziel and the Cherev Enoch (5e Codices)

Continuing in the vein of the Codex Magica, these are the two most common tomes for those mages from the Society of Light and who study within that tradition:

The Sefer Ratziel: Also known as “The Book of the Lord Sc. Ratziel”  this codex is reputed to be the transcribed words of the Lord Sc. Ratziel, Archangel of the Supreme Mysteries and Preceptor of Enoch. It is considered the most basic and at the same time most complete book on magic that is used within the Society of Light. Comprised of seven tractates, the book covers a series of basic instructions on not just magic, but the nature of the Heaven and the organization of the Host, and a variety of other esoteric subjects. Most commonly found as series of scrolls, there are printed versions in books that are often organized differently. (Cost – Special)

  • Cantrips: Light
  • 1st Level Spells: Comprehend Languages, Detect Magic, Conjure Fetch (aka Find Familiar), Protection from Evil & Good
  • 2nd Level Spells: Arcane Lock, Continual Flame, Darkvision, Gentle Repose
  • 3rd Level Spells: Counterspell, Dispel Magic, Magic Circle, Remove Curse
  • 4th Level Spells: Arcane Eye, Banishment
  • 5th Level Spells: Contact Other Plane, Planar Binding
  • 6th Level Spells: Sunbeam, True Seeing
  • 7th Level Spells: Project Image, Symbol

The Cherev Enoch: Also known as the “Sword of Enoch” this is a small but dense text that is available to those mages of the Society of Light that also act as the warriors of the Light (as opposed to more cloistered mages). It is not considered a replacement for but rather a supplement to the Sefer Ratziel. Terse in text, the Cherev Enoch is focused on incantations of personal offense and defense, and almost bereft of the sort of spiritual and ethical guidance that is contained within the Sefer Ratziel, as such it is only granted to those members of the Society who are deemed to be suitable for its teachings.  (Cost – Special)

  • 1st Level Spells: Mage Armor, Shield, Blaze
  • 2nd Level Spells: Magic Weapon
  • 3rd Level Spells: Journeyman’s Hauberk
  • 4th Level Spells: Blade of Light
  • 5th Level Spells: Spiritual Blade
  • 6th Level Spells: Master’s Lorica
  • 7th Level Spells: Sword of Light

The tomes of the Society of Light are written in complex coded allegory, itself in a mixture of Enochian and both Istarian and Kistathian depending upon the source. As such they also depend upon the mystical and occult revelations that come from advancement in the Society of Light to truly understand. Mages cannot gain the access to the spell formula until they would normally be able to cast it, and deciphering the tomes takes double the time as it normally would. For mages who are not members of the Society of Light they must be able to cast the next spell level (so if attempting to learn a 3rd rank spell they would need to be 7th level rather than 5th) and the time needed to decipher the tomes is doubled again.

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Codex Magica – Volumes I-X (5e Codex)

One of the most wide-spread of the basic tomes of magic, many mages since the times of the Wars of Binding have their first introduction to the basic principles of magic in this ponderous, weighty tome written in a combination of Istarian and the True Speech – often sprinkled with words, phrases, and sections in other languages as well. The tome is divided into sections covering each of the schools of magic, as well as the various magical effects along with explanations of the various instruments and tools associated with the magical arts. There are ten volumes in the series, each covering one rank of spell, with the tenth discussing lost arts and mighty magics from the past like the Great Veil. It is most common in the Heartlands and Kistath, though some groups have their own preferred instruction tomes such as the Sepher Ratziel and related tomes for the Society of Light, or the older Book of Seven that was much in use before the Codex Magica was penned and is preferred by some traditionalists despite the archaic style of the text.

“Volume I: Magic of the First Rank” In addition to all of the Wizard cantrips listed in the Player’s Handbook, Volume I contains the following spells: Alarm, Arcane Mark, Comprehend Languages, Conjure Fetch (aka Find Familiar), Detect Magic, Erase, Identify. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 1st Rank if used as part of spell research. Cost: 300sp

There is a relatively common printing of Volume I, the Triple Horn edition, that includes a basic Bestiary and Index that grants Advantage when attempting to identify fantastic creatures (using a basic Intelligence, Survival, or Perception check). While it does no more than give a name and type, but often that is enough to jog the memory, and allow a further check for Arcana, History, or Nature knowledge related to the creature in question. Cost: 1000sp

“Volume II: Magic of the Second Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Lock, Detect Illusion, Detect Thoughts, Knock, Magic Weapon, Nystul’s Magic Aura. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 1st or 2nd Rank if used as part of spell research. Cost: 600sp

Various editions of this Volume II include an “Enchanters Appendix” which discusses the creation and use of D’lanni Stones. Using this volume grants Advantage when examining or attempting to identify D’lanni Stones and their contents. It also covers the creation of Coldsilver and Truesteel. Cost : 1500sp

“Volume III: Magic of the Third Rank” Contains the following spells: Counterspell, Dispel Magic, Glyph of Warding, Magic Circle, Remove Curse, Sending. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 3rd Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 900sp

The very rare and obscure Oriflamme edition, which dates back to the Wars of Binding, includes instructions and formula for creating very basic Wands and Kris with very basic materials. These are far from polished, and casters using them incur Disadvantage – but they are at least able to cast spells! Cost: 2000sp

“Volume IV: Magic of the Fourth Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Eye, Leomund’s Secret Chest, Mark of Ownership, Mordenkainen’s Private Sanctum, Polymorph. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 4th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 1200sp

There is a rare edition of Volume IV, the “Red Dragon Binding” that includes an in-depth appendix regarding the creation of Alchemical Powders, Draughts, and Salves, as well as normal Alchemical Preparations, in addition to the normal contents. This volume also grants Advantage to the Arcana Skill if used to attempt to identify such alchemical items, as well as Potions, Elixirs, Dusts, and the like. Cost: 2500sp (All volumes of this edition generally sell for half again the normal price)

“Volume V: Magic of the Fifth Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Retribution, Contact Other Plane, Legend Lore, Scrying, Teleportation Circle. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 5th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 1,500sp

“Volume VI: Magic of the Sixth Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Gate, Contingency, Globe of Invulnerability, True Seeing. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 6th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 2,000sp

Some obscure copies of the Volume VI dating back to the Cult Wars include the spell Spiritbreaker as well. These are known as the Black Tear printings due to their unique binder’s mark. Cost: 5,000sp

“Volume VII: Magic of the Seventh Rank” Contains the following spells: Etherealness, Interdiction, Symbol, Teleport. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 7th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 2,500sp

“Volume VIII: Magic of the Eight Rank” Contains the following spells: Antimagic Field, Demiplane, Mind Blank, Zone of Metamagic Minimization. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 8th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. Cost: 3,000sp

Rarely found but highly valued, there is a stand-alone appendix to Volume VIII that was part of the Grey Temple edition that is known simply as the “Artificer’s Appendix”. It is focused on the creation of magical artifacts and the filled with examples, lessons, and diagrams of how such matters should be handled – as well as including the spell Glass Into Iron. Cost: 10,000sp (Other volumes of this edition generally sell for double the normal price)

Magical Items Covered: +1 Weapons and Armor, Arcane Seal, Blastbracer, Blastbroach, Blastrod, Cloak of Protection, Cloak of Shadows, Driftglobe, Gauntlets of Ogre Power, Gem of Brightness, Headband of Intellect, Lantern of Revealing, Necklace of Adaptation, Ring of Mind Shielding, Ring of Protection, Rope of Climbing, Rune of Warning, Scarab of Protection, Sending Stones.

It is important to note that there is a very poor copy with flawed spell copies that can never be successfully learned (but do not impact the ability to learn them if studied elsewhere. It is a Very Difficult Arcane Lore check to tell the difference.

“Volume IX: Magic of the Ninth Rank” Contains the following spells: Arcane Censure, Astral Projection, Foresight, Gate. It also adds a +1% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells of 9th Rank or lower if used as part of spell research. This volume also grants Advantage to Arcana, History, and Religion skill checks as related to Angels (both the Host and the Fallen), Demons and Dearthlords, the Lords of the Maelstrom, and the Delian Council. Cost: 4,000sp

“Volume X: Magic of the Tenth Rank” This volume contains no spells, but possession and use grants Advantage for Arcana checks in general. It also adds a +5% chance to spell research for all arcane (wizard) spells if used as part of spell research. Cost: 5,000sp

Note: Having and using the entire ten-volume set grants Expertise (double proficiency bonus) to Arcana in addition to any other benefits that the individual volumes might bring. In general, using tomes in this manner increases the time increment by one for each tome used. So if the time needed for an Arcana check regarding Angels was ten minutes, then if the use of Volume IX (to gain Advantage) would increase this to 20 minutes, while if the entire ten-volume set was used to gain Expertise then the time spent would be 120 minutes – and gaining both Advantage and Expertise in this example.

Some of these spells are found in the Necromancer Games tome, the Book of Lost Spells (is available at https://www.froggodgames.com/book-lost-spells). Those spells are as follows: Arcane Censure (9th Level), Arcane Retribution (5th Level), Detect Illusion (2nd Level), Erase (1st Level), Interdiction (7th Level), Mark of Ownership (4th Level) Spiritbreaker (6th Level), Zone of Metamagic Minimization (8th)

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What in the heck to do about Wizards..?

So, while I continue to ponder what the heck to do about Elemental Domains for Clerics, I continue to be troubled with what to do about Wizards in 5E.

To be clear, we’re not talking “game balance” here exactly – except that I think that getting spells is way too easy, and takes away from one of the prime motivators for adventuring mages (getting spellbooks).

  1. Beginning spellbook of six player-chosen spells
  2. Can prepare spells equal to level + Intelligence modifier.
  3. Ritual Casting for special spells at will
  4. Automatically learns 2 spells per level, plus anything they can scavenge.
  5. Also has three Cantrips at first level, unlimited casting of Cantrips. Cantrips are powerful, combat-effective, spells.
  6. Spells can require Verbal, Somantic, and/or Material Components
  7. Material Component Pouches are “ever full” – except for certain specific items mentioned in the spell description (that may or may not be used up in casting).
  8. Arcane Focus can substitute Material Components
  9. No rules or guidelines for character spell research.
  10. Familiars are a sensory aid with no drawback, and actually seem to be an extension of the characters magical will (due to lack of independent action).
  11. Magical item creation must be researched (no rules or guidelines) but is non-level bound, nor is it restricted to spellcasters.
  12. Only restrictions on armor use is due to training.
  13. No restrictions on multiclassing (or dual classing) as a wizard.
  14. Wizards have Cantrips for consistent magical attack ability.
  15. Mages can potentially cast up to three spells per round, Regular Action, Bonus Action, and a Reaction.

In my AD&D game, where I spent a considerable amount of time on Wizards in order to both balance them a bit but also create a certain flavor for various mages in my game. To recap:

  1. Codices were collected “training manuals” of spells, most players started with a basic one. Grimoires were the personal spellbooks of the mage themselves.
  2. Spells memorized according to the rules.
  3. Ritual Casting for all spells with an increased casting time and the presence of a spellbook and ritual kit.
  4. Automatically learned one spell per level, subject to rules for learning spells.
  5. Had AD&D Cantrips memorized equal to Intelligence, plus level, unlimited casting. Cantrips are minor magics, with little combat value and more focused on flavor text and day-to-day utility.
  6. Spells must have a Verbal Component, and may have a Material and/or Somatic Component.
  7. Material Components are generic by level and must be bought, per use – except for certain specific items mentioned in the spell description (that may or may not be used up in casting).
  8. Wands (or other racial equivalents) can store magical energy that can substitute for generic Material Components.
  9. Relatively clear rules for character spell research.
  10. Familiars are independent beings, with independent actions, and there are clear and severe penalties for their loss/death. Their presence is automatic for human wizards.
  11. Magical item creation must be researched (explicit rules) and it both level-bound and restricted to spellcasters.
  12. Armor use restrictions based on race.
  13. Clear racial restrictions on multiclassing.
  14. Mages start with twin “kris” – very minor magical knives/daggers that provide them with a consistent magical attack and which can be used as Material Component similar to a Wand.
  15. Mages are limited to casting one spell per round.

The further observation is that while the range of available memorized spells that any wizard can cast is increased the pool of actual spells that are cast is much more limited in 5E as opposed to 1E. This looks like a game balance decision in service to notion that each character should be roughly equivalent (something that I personally could care less about, but it is certainly a driving goal for 5E).

Looked at side-by-side, I think there are certainly places where things can be tweaked to find a sweet spot that still feels like “my campaign” rather than generic 5E. One significant change in 5E is that the resource management is actually reduced a fair amount through fewer spells, increased versatility in spell selection, and unlimited Cantrip use. I don’t think that this is a bad thing automatically, but I also think that there has been a drive to far in the pursuit of “Suitable 12+ Years in Age” that dumbed things down too much.

I like Material Components as a potential resource management tool. I like powerful Familiars. I like Wands and Kris as tools and flavor text. I like Codices and Grimoires.

Hmmm…

D.

Categories: Campaign Development, Game Design, House Rules | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

Familiars and more for Wizards

Anyone else notice that they really nerfed Familiars in 5e?

I mean, on the one hand, they did utterly remove the whole “you’re screwed if your familiar dies” thing to compensate, but at the same time Familiars are now pretty much almost as worthless as the canon 1e version. I’d always been looking for ways to beef up Mages in 1e to make up for their generally “glass peashooter” nature at low levels that might actually work up to an actual glass cannon if they were lucky.

So Familiars were beefed up and casting the spell was essentially considered a “essential part” of an apprentice mage’s training, material components were tweaked (essentially making Arcane Focus), I ruled that spells could be cast directly from spellbooks with a longer casting time (aka 5e Rituals) and the proper equipment, and I added the idea of Grimoires (instructional spellbooks with “standard spells” that were easy to get ahold of) to the setting.

But as I look at 5e, I’m really underwhelmed with how Familiars work. Rituals, while fantastic, are simultaneously too easy to cast while at the same time being kind of useless because there are barely any spells with the Ritual tag. Learning spells is amazingly easy, but there seems to be little or no control on what spells get learned – plus the whole quest to find a “lost spellbook” is relatively “meh” because Wizards already gain lots of (unrestricted) spells as they advance.

I’ll get to Rituals, Arcane Foci, and Grimoires for 5e in a bit, at the moment I want to look at Familiars.

My game has a long history of really fun familiars – Edgar the Raven, Fafnir the Dragonet, She-Who-Chases-After-Rabbits-And-Runs-Into-Trees (aka “Rabbit”) the wolf, Asket the Frakir, the Ring of Ashkhelion, Elhiehu the Guardian Spirit, and many more besides. They can quickly become an active and engaged NPC/Ally/Henchman that builds a lot of color into the story, but mostly by being an active resource. 5e seems to have dropped this idea and instead moved to “flavor text for a couple of permanent magical effects” that are worthless the minute those big area effect spells start getting dropped.

So here is my very simple proposal to wrench Wizard (and Warlock) Familiars back into something more relevant.

  • Familiars gain 1HD for each level of the pacted Wizard or Warlock.
  • Familiars act independently of the Wizard or Warlock, including the ability to attack.
  • When the Wizard or Warlock is granted a Ability Score Improvement/Feat Gain, the Familiar may also take one (it does not have to be the same as their Wizard/Warlock’s). Alternately they can gain some other ability with the agreement of the DM.
  • A Familiar can, by proxy, maintain Concentration for one spell.
  • A Familiar uses the Proficiency Modifier of their pacted Wizard or Warlock instead of their own.
  • A Mage or Warlock may, as a Reflexive Action, choose to take on any damage that their Familiar would suffer, less one point (that the Familiar must suffer – with the effects described below).
  • When a Familiar takes damage, the Wizard or Warlock takes an equal amount of Psychic Damage. The Wizard or Warlock is Stunned for 1 round (Charisma Save for No Effect, DC15).
  • If a Familiar is “slain” the Wizard or Warlock takes Psychic Damage equal to the Hit Points of the Familiar (Charisma Save for Half Damage, DC15). The Wizard or Warlock is automatically Stunned for 1 Round.

Let me know what you think! This seems relatively balanced to me, though certainly with the potential to be abused in either direction – but my goal is not to “prevent abuse” but to instead “promote roleplaying and fun.”

TTFN!

D.

Categories: Campaign Development, Game Design, House Rules, Magic Spell | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Is it just me..? (Wish in 5e)

So, in my quest to figure out how high-level characters can engage in wholesale carnage and slaughter (and yes, 40d6 from a Meteor Swarm is quite decent) I happened to look at the Wish spell.

WTF?

  1. Duplicate any 8th level or lower spell – check.
  2. List of clearly spelled out non-spell duplicating effects – no problem.
  3. Obligatory, the DM can let you do anything you want if they want to, but it might screw you if you try it – duh.

And then we get down to the last paragraph.

The stress of casting this spell to produce any effect other than duplicating another spell weakens you. After enduring that stress, each time you cast a spell until you finish a long rest, you take 1d10 Necrotic damage per level of the spell. This damage can’t be reduced or prevented in any way.

Ok, seems kind of harsh for the ability to “downgrade” a 9th level spell into an 8th or lower spell (even if it is potentially a non-Wizard spell) in the 5e spell slot mechanic, but, well, ok. I guess. But let’s continue.

 In addition, your Strength drops to 3, if it isn’t 3 or lower already, for 2d4 days. For each of those days that you spend resting and doing nothing more than light activity, your remaining recovery time decreases by 2 days.

Ok, so in addition to being useless as a spellcaster for the “rest of the day” you are also essentially useless physically. Sure, I can run with this, even if it seems like insult on top of injury. But wait, there’s more…

Finally, there is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish ever again in you suffer this stress.

Let’s just write that again so we are clear:

There is a 33 percent chance that you are unable to cast wish ever again in you suffer this stress.

WTF?

So, in a game where I can pretty much memorize anything thing I might want to cast, unless I use what is theoretically my gamechanger, my single most powerful spell, the single most powerful spell in the game, to do something that I already innately do (unlike every other edition) there is a One-in-Three chance that I will never be able to cast this spell again? That’s in addition to being all but useless until I can get a full night’s sleep.

I am kind of hoping that there is a missing sentence in there somewhere. A Saving Throw to make, a clarification that “Category 2” Wish‘s (see above) count as “spell duplication”, something… Because otherwise the opportunity risk/cost of using a Wish is far too high, and it moves from the category of “super-utility” spell and into a some other netherworld of arcane magic that is great, as long as you never count on doing it again – so make sure it’s worth it!

Teleport the entire party in flash to escape the dragon? 1/3 chance to never cast another Wish.

Cast a “Tempest Cloud” instead of a “Incendiary Cloud” because the monster is vulnerable to Lightning and immune to Fire? 1/3 chance to never cast another Wish.

Especially when compared to the new Divine Intervention rules for Clerics, this seems so out of whack.

Please tell me they are going to Errrata this…

TTFN!

D.

 

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5E – Arcane Tradition – Diabolism

This Arcane Tradition has it’s roots in the old White Dwarf class of the Summoner, these ended up becoming a set of very powerful mages in the Shadowlands who essentially acted, as one NPC put it, “lawyers”. In truth, you could also have looked as them as almost a sort of rabbi, or a student of the Kaballah, who studied the supernatural laws of the multiverse as well as the pacts and bindings of all supernatural creatures so that they could effectively advocate on the behalf of themselves and others with the various Powers.

In any case, I decided to see what I could do about translating them into an Arcane Tradition rather than making them an entirely new character class. This is much the same as I did with the College of Tantra for the Bards which were based on the old Houri class from White Dwarf. It also includes nods to a handful of other sources that have informed the play of the class over time.

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Diabolism

The study of Diabolism is most popular in the Shadowlands, or in groups and families that have strong connections (usually positive but also negative) with the Fey, Fiends , Elementals, and even Celestials. Similar in minor ways to a Warlock, a Diabolist (as those who study Diabolism) has an encyclopedic knowledge of spirits and the various covenants, pacts, and agreements that bind them – some call them the “lawyer’s of the shadowlands”. As a wizard who studies the School of Diabolism, you favor spells that summon creatures and spirits, ritual magic, and the magic that binds such creatures into service.

In the Shadowlands it is quite common to have a Diabolist on hand for any negotiations with appropriate creatures, as well as being a resource for obscure lore on the spirits being spoken with. Often a Diabolist is the only one with the knowledge of the correct protocols, modes of address, and aims and desires of said spirits that even makes such negotiations possible.

Oathbound Sword

At 2nd level, when you select this school you invest a shortsword, longsword, or greatsword with magical energy, are granted proficiency with it (and it alone, not with all weapons of the same type), and may use it as an Arcane Focus. The sword is also treated as magical for damage effects, and the Diabolist may use their Charisma as the modifying statistic rather than Dexterity or Strength if they so wish. Only one sword may be invested at a time, all previous investments are lost upon making a new Oathbound Sword.

Shadow Proclamation

Starting at 2nd level, Diabolists are able to call upon the Shadow Proclamation when dealing with summoned creatures and take a neutral position of parley and negotiation with the summoned creature. While the Diabolist cannot cause the summoned creature to break their oaths or bindings, they will usually give the Diabolist (perhaps only the Diabolist if they are part of a group) the chance to retreat rather than attack them out of hand. This is instantly nullified if the Diabolist attacks the summoned creature or attempts to thwart their oathbound mission.

Greater Heptogramic Warding

Upon reaching 6th level, the Diabolist learns the secret of the Greater Heptogram, a seven-pointed symbol that greatly enhances the efficacy of abjuration spells against Celestials, Fey, Fiends, Elementals, and the like (this includes Dearth and Undead). The Diabolist may add the Charisma modifier to the Spell Combat or Spell DC of their abjuration spells against such foes.

Seven Dread Phrases

Diabolists of the 10th Level have knowledge of the Seven Dread Phrases, which allow them great power over creatures originating from or with strong ties beyond the Mortal Realms. By uttering one of the phrases, the Diabolist can beak the Fear, Charm, or Possession of any single target within 10 feet by one of those creatures automatically. Alternately, as an action, the Diabolist can target any single of the affected supernatural creatures within 10 feet and attempt to drive the creature back to it’s home plane. The creature must make a Saving Throw (Charisma) or be immediately returned to their native Realm. This use causes 1d6 HP of damage to the Diabolist. Upon using any of the Seven Dread Phrases, they may not attempt this again until after a Short or Long rest.

Eschaton Sanction

At 14th level Diabolists learn the secret of the Eschaton Sanction, a pact so old and so powerful it has a ruinous effects upon all who hear it within 30 feet. Each creature must make a saving throw (Charisma) and if failed the following effects occur, based on their current hit points.

50 Hit Points or Less: Deafened for one minute.

40 Hit Points or Less: Deafened and Blinded for ten minutes.

30 Hit Points or Less: Deafened, Blinded, and Stunned for one hour.

20 Hit Points or Less: Killed Instantly.

In any case, all creatures from other than the Mortal Realm that fail their save are instantly forced back their native Realm and cannot return to the Diabolist’s current Realm for 24 hours by any means short of a Wish. As a final effect, all creatures of the Dearth take 10d6 Psychic Damage (save for half damage) if subjected to this spell, after which the primary effects are determined.

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Musing about the last AD&D campaign

As I’ve been thinking about the AD&D game I was running I’ve been looking at some of the things I’m not so thrilled with. Training for levels is one thing and weapon proficiencies is another. Experience points are the last place where I am just not thrilled with the basic AD&D system.

Weapon proficiencies were ok, but I wasn’t really happy with the way that they worked. While I like the idea of the different classes being restricted in what weapons they can use (it’s somewhat artificial but I’m ok with it for game balance) I’m less convinced that there is any good reason for limiting the learning of new weapons to level advancement. It seems to me that I merely want there to be a cost in time and money (mostly time) in order to learn new weapons.

Similarly, I’m less than thrilled with the time and costs associated with level advancement. This seems to be a remnant of the particular play style that is very “Grognardian” and reflective of the artifacts of the AD&D experience system. Back in the day I had dropped any level training for fighters and rogues (save for when they wanted to learn a weapon proficiency) and retained some costs for spell casters only when they gained a new spell level (to cover initiation and ritual costs). I’m really thinking that I’m going to do the same thing again. This makes the warrior and the rogue classes a bit more popular (not a bad thing) and in turn makes the magic-using and multi-classes a bit less popular because they are actually expensive to play.

In the old days I’d left the old style AD&D system behind and moved to what was basically the Palladium XP system which was far more based on ideas and planning rather the killing and treasure for the generation of XP. The problem is that this made figuring out XP a large investment of time after I was done gaming for the session. So this time around I went with a mix of that style, plus the old AD&D style, and it was still a ton of work. I really like Alexis’ method of 10XP per point of damage done, 20XP per point of damage suffered, with a bonus for the party on total damage suffered. There would still need to be a bit of something figured out for spell-casters and rogues because I like to reward people for using their special skills, but looking at his number crunching and doing some of my own I think it is a pretty reasonable method.

In any case, I just wanted to get this down for posterity. TTFN!

D.

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