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View Full Version : Elemental Evoker - making evocation a little more useful [PrC]



Xerlith
2013-06-23, 07:31 PM
Off the top of my head I came up with a class that maybe, just maybe, makes the evocation school of spells more useful.
Yes, this is generic. It is intended to be.


Elemental Evoker


Level
BAB
Fort
Ref
Will
Special
Spells


1st

+0


+0


+0


+2

Intensified Spells, Chosen Element
-


2nd

+1


+0


+0


+3

Energy Admixture, Elemental Affinity (Chosen Element) +1
+1 level of existing spellcasting class


3rd

+1


+1


+1


+3

Deep Impact
+1 level of existing spellcasting class


4th

+2


+1


+1


+4

Elemental Affinity (Chosen Element) +2
+1 level of existing spellcasting class


5th

+2


+1


+1


+4

Mastery Of The Element
+1 level of existing spellcasting class


HD: d4
Skill Points: 2+Int
Class Skills: As Wizard

Requirements:
Skills: Knowledge (Arcana) 8, Knowledge (The Planes) 4
Spellcasting: Ability to cast 2nd level arcane spells.
Feats: Energy Substitution(chosen element)

Chosen Element(Ex): Pick one element for which you have the Energy Substitution feat. All the abilities of this class will work only with spells that posses this energy descriptor.
Furthermore, you can spontaneously apply the Energy Substitution metamagic feat of your chosen element to any applicable evocation spell you cast without increasing its casting time.

Intensified Spells(Ex): At 1st level, you begin to understand how to utilize your chosen element with greater power. All the maximum damage die limits of the spells of your chosen element are increased by your level in this class.
E.g. Fireball cast by a Wizard6/Elemental Evoker5 would deal 12d6 fire damage and cap out at 15d6.

Elemental Affinity(Su): At 2nd level you gain +1 caster level for all spells of your chosen energy descriptor. This becomes +2 at 4th level.

Energy Admixture: At 2nd level you gain Energy Admixture(your chosen element) as a bonus feat.

Deep Impact(Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, spells of your chosen element ignore half the target's energy resistance and still deal 50% damage to the targets normally immune.

Mastery Of The Element(Ex):At 5th level you learn how to cast your spells more effectively. While applying metamagic feats to the evocation spells of your chosen element, the spell level cost is reduced by one, to a minimum of +0.

Furthermore, while casting an Evocation spell of your chosen element that allows a Reflex Saving Throw, as a move action you may change its Saving Throw to Fortitude instead.





EDIT1: Changed requirements to explicitly require ARCANE magic (Which was intended from the beginning), added a spellcasting level tax, made it work only with evocations.
EDIT2: Changed the wording of the 5th level ability, changed the levels at which you gain Elemental Affinity and Intensified Spells.
EDIT3: Made some changes meant to be there from the very beginning, namely the class abilities working only with one, chosen element.
EDIT4: Changed some wording.

TuggyNE
2013-06-23, 08:39 PM
This does make evocation blasting more useful. Unfortunately, it also makes conjuration blasting more useful too, at exactly the same rate, which is not exactly ideal. (Uncapped orb of acid with +2 CL and 50% damage against acid-immune targets? Do want!) It also doesn't require arcane casting specifically, which does weird things when you slap it on a Druid or Cleric or Artificer. There are a few non-blasting spells that have energy descriptors as well, which makes things weird and nasty. (For example, [fire] does double duty as an energy descriptor and a planar origin descriptor, and uncapping lesser planar ally and lesser planar binding, even for [fire] creatures only, is not a good idea.)

I would peg the lost spellcasting at first and possibly third level (and you should probably put another entry for Elemental Affinity on the table at that spot anyway, like "Elemental Affinity (Chosen Element) +1" and "Elemental Affinity (Chosen Element) +2"). Also, cut the uncapping down to a far more sane version, such as raising the cap by your class level (+1 to +5, in other words), or even less. So far as I know, Reserves of Strength is the only way to fully uncap spells in existence, and that's one uncapping method too many.

AttilaTheGeek
2013-06-23, 09:23 PM
Yeah, unlimited uncapping can be really strong. An 11d6 fireball at 11th level is a 10% increase, but a 20d6 Shocking Grasp at 20th level is a 300% increase. I would increase damage caps by two times level instead of one times level, but that's just me.

How does Mastery of the Element work with prepared casters? If I prepare a Quickened Fireball in a 6th-level slot, do I still have to use a 7th-level slot when I Energy Admix it?

Brova
2013-06-23, 09:52 PM
Just a random thought: This class doesn't seem very "primal." It's a cool concept and a cool name, they just don't fit together perfectly in my mind. More a flavor nitpick than anything.


Yeah, unlimited uncapping can be really strong.

So can ... normal combat magic. Wail of the Banshee kills you. Dead. And it kills all your friends. Cloudkill + Forcecage kills a Fighter of any level, bar magical gear. Dominate Monster kills you AND gives your opponent a free minion. Mass Charm Monster turns you and all your friends. Finger of Death kills you. Hold Person lets a rouge dismember you. Magic in generally is brutally lethal, even if you don't chainbind, abuse wish, or create antimatter.

Sure, most of those things allow saving throws, but they don't allow energy resistance. They're also bad design (in combination with the boring 3.5 Fighter) because it means fighters and wizards don't have any synergy.


a 20d6 Shocking Grasp at 20th level is a 300% increase.

But that doesn't matter, does it? Ray of Frost could do 40d3 (a 4000% increase) and it still wouldn't be worth casting - even against a red dragon. The reality of high level combat is that things die in one round. Two tops. If your class can't do that, it isn't competing.

You might (I'd have to runs some calcs) be able to not only uncap, but also double the dice and have fair damage. But that's way, way too many dice. I recommend changing damage expressions to involve a fixed factor (like 2d6 + 14 rather than 6d6), but that might be a bigger overhaul than you want. Also check this (http://paizo.com/threads/rzs2i52k?Evocations-should-be-lower-level)out. That's a simpler, and probably equally effective fix (expect for ninth level evocations).


Unfortunately, it also makes conjuration blasting more useful too, at exactly the same rate, which is not exactly ideal.

Why not just make conjuration blasting evocation blasting then? I always thought the orb spells should be evocation anyway. :smallsmile:.

TuggyNE
2013-06-23, 10:47 PM
So can ... normal combat magic. Wail of the Banshee kills you. Dead. And it kills all your friends.

It offers a save, works only at close range, SR, and is a [death] and [sonic] spell, so that's four or five points of failure.


Cloudkill + Forcecage kills a Fighter of any level, bar magical gear.

Technically, a great deal of luck can get them out of it OK (if you only ever roll 1s for Con damage and they make all their saves to halve that to 0). But again, it's ability damage, it's medium range, it offers a save to halve, it's poison, and it's relatively fixed in place, so cheap gear or feats can fix it. Four points of failure. (Seriously, who assumes no magical gear, when it's that easy and flexible and is required by the game?)


Dominate Monster kills you AND gives your opponent a free minion. Mass Charm Monster turns you and all your friends.

SR, close range, [mind-affecting], save negates, and mental control. Four+ points of failure.


Finger of Death kills you.

SR, close range, save mostly negates, and [death]. Three+ points of failure.


Hold Person lets a rouge dismember you.

SR, medium range, save negates every round, and [mind-affecting]. That's three and a half points of failure at least.


Sure, most of those things allow saving throws, but they don't allow energy resistance. They're also bad design (in combination with the boring 3.5 Fighter) because it means fighters and wizards don't have any synergy.

They are bad design. However, they're not quite that bad. They're usually limited not just by saves, but by immunities, range, and spell slot. The problem with blasting is mostly that energy immunity/resistance and larger HP numbers tend to make blasting spells relatively useless. (SR hits most spells equally, but Conjuration blasting obviously doesn't have that problem.) This PrC fixes those three main problems by the fourth level, which pretty much makes blasting the most optimal strategy you can have, even at very low cheese levels (no metamagic reducers). And it does so evenly for all spells of all levels.


But that doesn't matter, does it? Ray of Frost could do 40d3 (a 4000% increase) and it still wouldn't be worth casting - even against a red dragon. The reality of high level combat is that things die in one round. Two tops. If your class can't do that, it isn't competing.

OK, how about Twin Split ray of frost out of a 6th-level slot that can do half again as much damage as disintegrate and with no save? (Average of 104 damage if all four attacks hit, which is fairly likely against most foes, since touch attacks are easier to land than spell saves, vs 77 if the target fails a save against disintegrate after the touch attack hits.)

Switching that to Twin Empowered lesser orb of cold or similar cranks up the damage even further, to an average of 136.25, just by trading a save, SR, and two feats for an extra touch attack.

Lower-level spells have lower caps for a reason.


Why not just make conjuration blasting evocation blasting then? I always thought the orb spells should be evocation anyway. :smallsmile:.

I'd be a fan of that too, but that's too much to stick in a prestige class, so this should probably be designed to work without that unrelated houserule.

Xerlith
2013-06-24, 07:40 AM
So if I make it so it works only with the Evocation school, rename it to "Elemental Evoker" or something similar...
Make it so it increases the damage cap by the class level...
And take away one spellcasting level...
Would it be better then? Except direct damage still is inferior to save-or-dies.

EDIT: There goes nothing.

EDIT2: Thinking about it, I suppose I could move the Elemental Affinity to 2nd and 4th level and change the Intensified Spells to 1st level so it moves smoothly.
EDIT3: Done


How does Mastery of the Element work with prepared casters? If I prepare a Quickened Fireball in a 6th-level slot, do I still have to use a 7th-level slot when I Energy Admix it?

I don't understand what you mean. You can only spontaneously add the Energy Substitution metamagic, which is +0. If you Energy Admix it, you must prepare it earlier anyway.
Otherwise it works just like the Incantatrix ability.
Aaand EDIT: I see what you mean. Changing the wording.

Brova
2013-06-24, 09:18 AM
It offers a save, works only at close range, SR, and is a [death] and [sonic] spell, so that's four or five points of failure.

Points of failure against what? Fireball offers a save, shocking grasp a touch attack, and scorching ray a ranged touch attack. Let's run some calcs on stuff you might encounter at the 17th or higher range.

First, our wizard's save DC. Assume base 18 Int, +2 from race, +4 from levels, +5 from wish, +6 from headband for a total of 35 (jumps to 36 at 20th level). Ad in an additional +2 from Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus.

So that gives:

10 (base) + 12 (Int) + 2 (Feats) + 9 (Spell) = 33

Let's compare that to some of the opposition you might fight at level seventeen (Only stuff where fortitude is weaker than will):

-Aboleth Mage: Has a +15 save, saves on a eighteen or higher and has no defenses against Wail.
-Various Forms of Dragon (technically you're better off with Dominate Monster, but whatever): Save less than 50% of the time, no immunity.
-Marilith: Saves on a 14 or higher, or on a 19 or higher against Dominate Monster. No Immunities.
-Four Beholders: Not in the SRD, but they fail IIRC most of the time. Antimagic eye is a problem.
-Horde of Delvers (CR 9): Can't save. Die automatically.

So, yes it has several points of failure. But what was the last monster you fought that was actually immune to it?


(Seriously, who assumes no magical gear, when it's that easy and flexible and is required by the game?)

Sure. Give him his magic sword, magic armor, magic amulet, magic belt and magic cloak. What about that helps him escape?

The no magical gear point is twofold. The first is that it's not actually the fighter escaping if he uses his Anklets of Transportation - a commoner could do that just as well. The second is that magic items come from wizards.The fighter can't survive a wizard on his own, needing another wizard's help to not automatically die.


Four points of failure.

Stop saying that. It doesn't make the spell weak. Like, at all. The fighter also has way, way more points of failure.

Here's a list:
-AC
-Damage
-Reach + AoOs
-Flight
-On Another Plane
-Ethereal (technically a form of on another plane)
-DR
-Invisible

That's just off the top of my head. And many of those are "hard" points of failure. That is to say that a wizard can still beat a dude of he might save, because he also has a chance to not save. A fighter will not beat a dude on another plane. Those are also way, way more common. Dragons fly, have reach and brutal attacks, have good AC, have tons of hit points and can go invisible, ethereal or to other planes - that's every single thing on the list, and dragons are seriously almost half of high CR monsters.


They are bad design. However, they're not quite that bad. They're usually limited not just by saves, but by immunities, range, and spell slot.

That's not why they're bad design. They aren't bad design because they kill things too easily. They might be design you don't like, but they are in fact the best strategy for winning level appropriate encounters. They're bad design because it doesn't matter to the wizard what the fighter is doing and it doesn't matter to the fighter what the wizard is doing.

Look at it this way:

Fighter + Wizard
Round One: Fighter hits, monster takes damage. Wizard casts SoD, monster makes save.
Round Two: Fighter hits, monster takes damage. Wizard casts SoD, monster makes save.
Round Three: Fighter hits, monster takes damage. Wizard casts SoD, monster fails save. Monster dies.

Just Wizard
Round One: Wizard casts SoD, monster makes save.
Round Two: Wizard casts SoD, monster makes save.
Round Three: Wizard casts SoD, monster fails save. Monster dies.

The fighter did exactly nothing (well, maybe he tanked some hits) for the team in that fight. That's why a paradigm where some classes get SoDs and some just do damage sucks. If taking damage made saves harder, then the fighter would be synergistic at least.


This PrC fixes those three main problems by the fourth level, which pretty much makes blasting the most optimal strategy you can have, even at very low cheese levels (no metamagic reducers).

Show me the money. At what levels does this class do better against reasonable opposition than a "normal" wizard?


OK, how about Twin Split ray of frost out of a 6th-level slot that can do half again as much damage as disintegrate and with no save? (Average of 104 damage if all four attacks hit, which is fairly likely against most foes, since touch attacks are easier to land than spell saves, vs 77 if the target fails a save against disintegrate after the touch attack hits.)

That's not true. You have (assuming basic investment) a Dex bonus five less, no spell focus, and the level mod is largely the same.

But that's a sixth level slot that is stopped by Lesser Globe. And it isn't, say, circle of death which is a fort save to kill most level appropriate encounters.

Xerlith
2013-06-24, 09:59 AM
The class is not meant to bring the blasting to the level of the strongest SoD spells. It's meant to make choosing the evocation spells worth considering while preparing.
All in all, I have this slightest feeling that the discussion went a little off-topic right here.

TuggyNE
2013-06-24, 05:30 PM
Looks considerably better, Xerlith, although the initial loss of CL coupled with the delay of CL boosting until the second level hurts a little. Couple more nitpicks: Elemental Affinity and Mastery of the Element should probably note which level they come online in the text as well as the table; the example for Intensified Spells should note that it assumes a Wizard 10/Elemental Evoker 1 entry, which is non-standard, or else adjust to a different example (perhaps burning hands?); and I think Energy Admixture requires a specific element, so it should probably be limited to your chosen element when you get it as a bonus feat.


Points of failure against what? Fireball offers a save, shocking grasp a touch attack, and scorching ray a ranged touch attack.
[]
So, yes it has several points of failure. But what was the last monster you fought that was actually immune to it?

Fireball offers a save, energy resistance/immunity, SR, and HP. Four points of failure. Cranking the damage up and ignoring resistance/immunity drops that to more like two and a half, and fireball isn't even vaguely the most optimal blasting spell.

Take something like an orb, and SR and saves are already useless, which means you end up closer to one and a half points of failure out of lower level slots. Not great.

Most dragons have cleric spells available, and all Core dragons have at least CL 7 at CR 16+, so death ward is open to them.

More to the point, enemies with class levels, or those making use of a friendly buffer, can rather easily access death ward or similar by that time. Or silence, for that matter.

Still more to the point, save-or-dies are optimal despite those various checks and balances; cutting past them is not a good idea for game balance.


The no magical gear point is twofold. The first is that it's not actually the fighter escaping if he uses his Anklets of Transportation - a commoner could do that just as well. The second is that magic items come from wizards.The fighter can't survive a wizard on his own, needing another wizard's help to not automatically die.
[]
Stop saying that. It doesn't make the spell weak. Like, at all. The fighter also has way, way more points of failure.

Here's a list:
-AC
-Damage
-Reach + AoOs
-Flight
-On Another Plane
-Ethereal (technically a form of on another plane)
-DR
-Invisible

That's just off the top of my head. And many of those are "hard" points of failure. That is to say that a wizard can still beat a dude of he might save, because he also has a chance to not save. A fighter will not beat a dude on another plane. Those are also way, way more common. Dragons fly, have reach and brutal attacks, have good AC, have tons of hit points and can go invisible, ethereal or to other planes - that's every single thing on the list, and dragons are seriously almost half of high CR monsters.

Irrelevant; this is not a tier thread, this is not about how the Fighter class is or is not capable. This is about comparative balance of different spell schools. Mundanes are only relevant insofar as they are potential targets.

And, of course, the points of failure in the various save or dies don't make those spells weak: they're the only thing that keeps them from being "lolpwn" all day every day. They are crucial to what tattered shreds of game balance remain.


That's not why they're bad design. They aren't bad design because they kill things too easily. They might be design you don't like, but they are in fact the best strategy for winning level appropriate encounters. They're bad design because it doesn't matter to the wizard what the fighter is doing and it doesn't matter to the fighter what the wizard is doing.

Yes, I know that. However, the solution is not to make the Wizard/Sorcerer even more of an unstoppable blender of death, even by boosting the traditionally weakest option.


Show me the money. At what levels does this class do better against reasonable opposition than a "normal" wizard?

Kind of irrelevant now that most of my suggested changes have been made.


That's not true. You have (assuming basic investment) a Dex bonus five less, no spell focus, and the level mod is largely the same.

Against touch AC instead of saves, which have vastly different calculations. Touch AC remains approximately constant at around 7-13 for nearly all monsters and most class-leveled opponents (except for a few agile foes with higher, and a few very large foes with lower). A level 11 caster with +3 Dex can hit nearly all touch AC on a 5 or less, and that's without Weapon Focus: Ranged Touch Attack or similar.

Xerlith
2013-06-24, 07:28 PM
Well, I'd like to thank you all for your input. As of now, the changes have been made, poor wording more or less fixed.

I am wondering if a loss of the one caster level isn't too big of a repellent, since it advances only the blasting.
On the other hand, it was meant to do so...
Duh.

Also, this class doesn't really solve the problems of Evasion and Improved Evasion, but... I think it doesn't have to.

Zakaroth
2013-06-25, 06:07 PM
After seeing this post, it reminded me of a PrC I once wrote up with a similar idea behind it. So, I posted (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?p=15500250#post15500250) it, maybe you like it or might be able to pull some ideas from it.

Xerlith
2013-06-26, 05:51 AM
Hi. I've got yet to read it thoroughly, but from what I've read thus far, it seems to be much higher-powered than mine.
It's a nice concept. I'll post in your thread about the details.

Xerlith
2013-06-28, 02:11 PM
A shameful bump. I would really love more opinions.

Zakaroth
2013-06-29, 10:10 AM
All in all, it looks good and balanced. You might want to be careful with Intensified Spells, though. As worded, it gives a really big boost to spells that work similar as Magic Missile. Not sure if there are many, but you might want to take it into account.
What I find a bit odd is that this class initially seems to focus on a single element blaster, but then you throw in Energy Admixture.

Xerlith
2013-06-29, 12:50 PM
Well, for sure the thing that gimps it a bit is the fact that there is no way this class would work with force spells - as it is not an element per itself.
Also, the Inensified Spells ability is intended to work only with spells that deal damage capped by a die number. For instance, this ability will not work with Scorching ray. If the wording is unclear, I'll gladly accept propositions as how to change it.

asnys
2013-06-30, 04:57 PM
Deep Impact(Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, spells of your chosen element ignore energy resistance up to your caster level and still deal 50% damage to the targets normally immune.

I would suggest making it halve the effectiveness of resistance instead of reducing it by a fixed amount. Otherwise there are some edge cases where having resistance to an element would be better than having immunity to it, which doesn't make sense. For example, suppose I'm 8th caster level and I throw a fire spell doing 20 damage. If my target has resistance to fire 20, they'll take 8 damage. If they have immunity to fire, they'll take 10. That's a situation that probably wouldn't happen a lot but it seems like something that shouldn't happen ever.


Mastery Of The Element(Ex):At 5th level you learn how to cast your spells more effectively. While applying metamagic feats to the evocation spell of you chosen element, the spell level cost is reduced by one, to a minimum of +0.
Furthermore, you can spontaneously apply the Energy Substitution metamagic feat of your chosen element to any applicable evocation spell you cast without increasing the casting time.

I like it. That's the kind of capstone it's worth losing a caster level and taking all five levels of a prestige class for.

I'm no expert at balancing, but overall I like it. Enough to consider taking it for one of my characters, who's an Uttercold Assault Necromancer having trouble finding an appropriate PrC. :smallbiggrin: I might take out Energy Admixture, though.

You talked in the OP about making evocation spells more useful. One way to do that is let them apply effects other than damage. A fun ability would be to make it so that, if you deal damage using your energy type, the target suffers some minor debuff, maybe even specific to the energy type - e.g., if you successfully damage them with an acid spell, they're sickened for one round, that kind of thing. You'd probably need to make it a 10-level prestige class to fit that in, though.

Xerlith
2013-07-01, 10:16 AM
Yes, I thought about it, and yes, I came to the same conclusion - that it'd need to be a 10-level class for the things you're saying to work. I decided not to do so, since I didn't want to make a character spend 10 levels on something relatively minor.
As it is now, they can grab something else and be more versatile, for instance.
If not, I had a pretty standard set: Acid takes away your armor AC bonus (probably equal to the spell's level), frost makes you slowed (for a number of rounds equal to the spell's level... Etc), fire blinds, electricity entangles, pretty much.

vinihigino
2013-07-11, 09:01 AM
Deep Impact(Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, spells of your chosen element ignore energy resistance up to your caster level and still deal 50% damage to the targets normally immune.

This is basically searin spell (http://dndtools.eu/feats/sandstorm--85/searing-spell--2540/) for free. How about make it an option with the cost of a full round action or limit the level of the spell that can benfit from it (maybe same level as level in class)?

Xerlith
2013-07-11, 09:42 AM
It is indeed.
But as it is, this is a prestige class that in fact sacrifices a level of spell progression and this ability works only with evocations. So no unavoidable Orb spells here.
Also, this is a class feature, so naturally it cannot be equal to a feat anyone can pick. For instance, Frostmage gets an ability akin to this AS WELL as the feat itself. And it works with conjurations unlike this ability.

Grod_The_Giant
2013-07-12, 12:10 PM
Not bad. I'd move the ability to use Energy Substitution without increasing casting time to the first level, though-- that's kind of the point of the class, after all.

Xerlith
2013-07-12, 12:49 PM
Yes, I see where you're coming from. But then I'm afraid that the capstone will be a tad bit underwhelming.