It’s pretty well established that I like to tinker with role-playing game mechanics, and that I have several dissatisfactions with the d20 (D&D) spellcasting systems in particular which I’ve tried to remedy over the years.
But in spite of my disillusionment with the spell-slots/fire and forget style of casting in it’s several iterations, sometimes I still get the urge to design characters more closely fitting the standard spellcaster mould, though generally I’d prefer them a bit more flexible.
Now the usual spellcasters all have some sort of limitation on how many spells they can learn and/or which ones. Also, excluding the Sorcerer, most classes must prepare spells ahead of time and have an additional restriction on how coppies of each spell they can prepare in a given day, a set of rules which rankles my sense of verisimilitude.
Long have I coveted a class which overcame these restrictions. A class with the spontaneous casting. A class without limitations on how many or which spells can be learned.
The generic “Spellcaster” class presented in Unearthed Arcana perhaps comes closest to this goal, although even that class still has a couple issues. For one thing the Spellcaster, like the Sorcerer, is limited in the number of different spells they can know at any given level. Additionally, the Spellcaster is only intended for use in games where the other generic classes (the Expert and Warrior) are being used.
As an alternative I propose the Magus, a sort of omni-mystical sage or man of power, to provide a suitable player character class.
The magus provides greater flexability regarding the type of spells which can be learned, but with limits: Magi are relatively limited in the number of spells they can have prepared at any given time, also the number of spells they can cast in a day is relativley low, and they gain no bonus feats or other special abilities. Further, to learn and cast spells most effectively the magus must diversify her abilities greatly and learn at least two different skills; while, by contrast, wizards need only concentrate on one ability and a corresponding skill.
The profession of magus (plural magi) finds it’s origins at the dawn of history, a time when priest-kings and shamans were common and the line between divine and arcane magic was blurred. In those days the arts of arcane magic were still not identical with those of the more spiritual divine disciplines. Yet in that bygone time sages and lovers of wisdom were as likely to take interest in one set of rituals as the other and those in authority were apt to use any means available to maintain the stability of their small domains.
But throughout the ages some magi specialized in one particular style of spells, eschewing those they had difficulty with. Others simply focused on magics supplimental to their calling in life, or granted them by a particular deity. This gradual process led to the more diverse set of mystical professions (Bards, Clerics, Sorcerers, etc.) which the realms know today.
Consequently few if any magi remain in most lands. In other areas though their remnants yet abide, often having metamorphosized into secretive and esoteric orders. Rarer still are worlds where magus has become the more common mystic profession, potentially at the expense of all others.
Alignment: Any (Though, at the GM’s discression, alignment may influence the magus’ ability to acquire certain divine spells).
Hit Die: d4.
Class Skills: The magusâ€™ class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are: Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Perform (Cha), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Sleight of Hand (Dex), Spellcraft (Int) and Use Magical Device (Cha).
Skill Points at 1st Level: (2 + Int modifier) Ã—4.
Skill Points at Each Additional Level: 2 + Int modifier.
|Spells per Day|
Spells: A magus casts both arcane spells (which are drawn from the bard and sorcerer/wizard spell list) and divine spells (drawn from the cleric, domain, druid, paladin, and ranger lists).
Like a wizard, the magus may learn any number of spells. Unfortunately, also like a wizard, the limitations a magus’ body and mind, a magus only allow her to have a limited number of spells prepared at any given time. However, unlike a wizard, once the magus has prepared a spell that spell remains prepared even if cast and may be cast again and again at a later time.
Also, given 1 hour to prepare, a magus can “switch out” one spell (making it unprepared) and prepare another in it’s place. This task is the metaphysically equivelant to stretching a different set of muscles before specific types of exercise …or perhaps as a better analogy: like putting away certain tools cluttering up a workbench to make space for a different set of tools.
Divine vs. Arcane Spells: Learning, preparing, or casting arcane and divine spells is fundamentally a different process even for the omni-talented magus.
To learn, prepare, or cast an arcane spell, the magus must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. However, the Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a magusâ€™ arcane spells is 10 + the spell level + the magus’ Dexterity modifier.
On the other hand to learn, prepare, or cast a divine spell, the magus must have a Wisdom score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. However, the Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a magusâ€™ arcane spells is 10 + the spell level + the magus’ Charisma modifier.
These differences may seem odd, however they are indicative of the differing natures of the forces the magi must grasp (through reason or intuition) and master (using exacting ritual or shear emotional force).
Like other spellcasters, a magus can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Magus. In addition, she receives bonus arcane spells per day if she has a high Intelligence score and bonus divine spells par day if she has a high Wisdom score.
Metamagic feats must be applied at the time of spell preparation, and there-after the spell is always cast with the metamagic feat in action until the preparation slot is replaced with a different spell. Alternately the magus may make different preparations of a given spell, some with metamagic feats applied or without; however, each preparation still takes up a separate spell slot of appropriate level.
Bonus Languages: A magus may substitute Draconic, Sylvan, or a planar language for one of the bonus languages available to the character because of her race.
Spellbooks & Learned spells: A magus must study her spellbook any time she wants prepare one of her arcane spells. She cannot prepare any arcane spell not recorded in her spellbook, except for read magic, which all magi can prepare from memory.
A magus begins play with access to twenty 0-level spells plus three 1st-level spells of your choice drawn from either arcane or divine spell lists. For each point of Intelligence bonus the magus has, their spellbook holds one additional 1st-level arcane spell of your choice and for each point of Wisdom bonus they have access to an additional 1st-level divine spell. At each new magus level, she gains two new spells of any spell level or levels that she can cast. These may be taken from either the arcane or divine spell lists.
At any time, a magus can also add spells found in wizards or other magi’s spellbooks to her own making appropriate use of the Spellcraft skill. Similarly the magus can learn divine spells by petitioning an appropriate cleric, druid, ranger, god, fey being, or other divinely empowered being for enlightenment. When attempting to learn divine spells the magus makes a similar set of rolls as when learning arcane spells, however in place of the Spellcraft skill either the Profession (Priestcraft) skill or Profession (Shaman) skill is used instead.
Some divine spells are treated as being of different level depending on their source (ie. Paladin spells vs. Clerical spells). In these cases the magus treats such spells as being of the higher level for all purposes, regardless of the source of instruction.
Magi can make use of the Spell Mastery feat to avoid the need for recourse to a spellbook when preparing spells in the same way wizards can.