This is my first homebrew class. The idea jumped into my head while reading a Fate/Stay Night Fanfic. As I always have loved invocation based classes, I thought I'd try to make a class that can get away with both learning spells and being able to cast them at-will. As such (a phrase I overuse) I present to you:
The Circuit Mage
„Wizards have the ability to learn spells as they come across them since they only shape magic from the outside. Warlocks are stagnant as their innate magic pathways, once formed, are immutable. We represent a compromise of these two extremes and as such are generally despised by both parties.” – Tiral Mar deKartis; “Rare Magic Practices of the Planes”
It has always been the case, that the ones with the least actual innate magic have been lauded the most important and powerful ones. Clerics beg for their power, Wizards shape magic from the outside with no natural talent in it. Of course this stems from the simple fact, that their versatility makes them far more able to adapt, something which every more innate caster is incapable of as magic, once it has adapted to a body, dislikes change.
However, it is only the fear of the pain that comew with such change that these things were considered absolutes. It is possible to reshape ones own magic into a system that both allows change and the same apparently infinite connection to magic that warlocks boast. Circuit Magery is the proof of this. Sadly it comes at a steep price, for a circuit Mage is potentially even more limited in her capabilities than a warlock at any specific point in time. Some who would be warlocks however still consider this trade-off to be worth it and keep Circuit Magery alive.
Circuit Mages generally go on adventures to learn new magic or to convert other potential warlocks to Circuit Magery as the discipline is not well known and under constant threat of dying out. They generally prefer the company of other casters for the purpose of learning, but can also strike up the rare friendship with magic-less companions over some of their more simple abilities.
As they are mostly interested in magic and less in the people or ideologies that can get them access to it, circuit mages are generally open but also detached. Many simply do not understand concepts like bias, or have strong aversion against it due to the way wizards or sometimes even warlocks treat them. They can be quite pushy when it comes to having others help them learn new spells, sometimes going so far as to deliberately antagonizing them.
Due to their tendency to try and get along with anyone that they could learn from, or playing the role of adversaries to the same effect, circuit mages tend more towards a neutral alignment. It is also the reason why they tend more towards a chaotic lifestyle as many have been known to turn around their outward personlity whenever it could mean converting someone to their discipline or learning a particularly interesting spell.
As the ones that consider themselves closer to the arcane than anyone, most circuit mages never worship any of the gods. However, there have been instances where those that wander endlessly in search of spells and power find solace in the company of Fharlanghn and a handful of teachers of the discipline (which generally tend to a more ordered lifestyle than the rest) have been known to pray to Wee Jas, though that might have been due to unruly students.
Circuit Mages do not have the lavish colleges of wizards. They mostly perpetuate their discipline by apprenticeship. This is generally due to the rarity of Warlocks and additionaly due to the steep price that comes with ripping apart ones innate magic and restructuring it. As such only a few of the rare become circuit mages, resulting in the constant threat of becoming a forgotten practice.
Unlike other casters, circuit mages can generally only come from those that would have otherwise become warlocks. As such, humans are still the majority among them as they are also the most likely to be greedy enough to form the pacts that result in the emergence of warlocks. However, interestingly enough, fey represent the second greatest percentage of Circuit Mages as they seem to like the idea of an ever changing repertoire of spells even at the cost of some raw power.
Circuit mages tend to get along well with other casters and warlocks. They can also strike up friendship with non-magic capable classes, but generally consider them to be not worth the effort unless they have access to interesting weapon or armor enchantments.
While a circuit mage is able to fight reasonably well without relying on spells, their main ability is that of support. Their capability to cast any spell they have internalized over and over again makes them ideal for destroying an enemy’s will to fight by pure attrition. As such they are well liked in any situation that creates a lack of ressources as long as their abilities fit the situation.
GAME RULE INFORMATION:
Intelligence is crucial to a circuit mage as they have adapted some forms of wizard spellshaping for their own, foregoing their ability to simply command magic as a warlock might do. In order to learn new spells they have to be able to endure quite a bit and as such they can greatly benefit from a substantial constitution score.
Circuit Mages have access to the following skills: Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Disguise (Cha), Intimidate (Cha), Jump (Str), Knowledge (arcana)(Int),Knowledge (the planes) (Int), Knowledge (religion)(Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Use Magic Device (Cha).
Skill Points at 1st Level:
(4 + Intelligence modifier) x4
Skill Points at Each Additional Level:
4 + Intelligence modifier.
|Level||Base Attack Bonus||Fort Save||Ref Save||Will Save||Special|
|Arcane Circuitry, Arcanized Armory, Eschew Materials|
|Detect Magic I, Mettle |
|DR 1/cold iron, Light Armor Mastery |
|Decieve Item |
|Arcanized Enchantment |
|Detect magic II, DR 2/cold iron |
|Medium Armor Mastery, Spell Resistance|
|Improved Mettle, Magic Recovery|
|DR 3/cold iron, Metamagic Decoupling|
|Detect Magic III, Imbue Item, Circuit Blueprint|
|Mind over Matter|
|Breaking the Limit|
|DR 4/cold iron, Greater Magic Recovery |
|Beyond all Limits|
|Detect Magic IV, Improved Spell Resistance |
|Power over Experience|
|DR 5/cold iron, Temporary Circuitry|
Weapon and Armor proficiencies: Circuit Mages are proficient in the use of all simple weapons as well as light and medium armor. They are not proficient in shields.
Additionally they are proficient with all weapons, armors and shields they have memorized due to their Arcanized Armory ability. However, they are only proficient with these if using versions created with the ability.
Circuit mages gains power differently than normal warlocks. Through the study of magic in the same way that wizards use, they manage to find key points in spells that tell them of their function. However, like normal warlocks they are unable to learn spells by intellectual pursuit alone, they have to experience them.
A circuit mage gains one arcane circuit per level. Their caster level is equal to the total number of circuits they have access to. These circuits can be used to “learn” spells. A circuit’s normal state is inert, but when the circuit mage is hit with a spell, she can assign one inert circuit to a key element of that spell. Repeated exposure to the same spell lets her assign more circuits to this specific spell. Once the number of assigned circuits reaches the spell’s level, she has control over it and can use it at-will. However, it is still considered a spell not a spell-like-ability and as such is subject to arcane spell failure as well as needing the standard amount of XP and material components to be cast.
A circuit mage may never assign more circuits to a spell or effect than 1/3rd her total number of arcane circuits (rounded up). Returning a circuit to its inert state, wether it is to use it to learn a different spell or use it for another purpose, is a mental non-action and as such can be done at any time the circuit mage is capable of conscious thought. However such action causes any effect or spell assigned to this circuit to be lost or forgotten (weapons/armor disappear, spells are forgotten). Spells forgotten in such way need to be relearned normally.
Due to this nature, a circuit mage counts as being able to cast x-level spells if she were able to assign enough circuits to learn such a spell. Requirements that have specific spell requirements however, need her to have been able to cast that specific spell (having learnt it) at the point where the requirement needed to be met. Since the circuit mage does not posess spell-slots in the usual sense she can not benefit from any feat or ability that mentions those, she can not benefit from metamagic in the usual sense as well.
A circuit mage may only learn spells that directly affect her. A succesful save against a spell that allows a save to negate still counts as being affected and being cought in an area of effect spell does as well. Spells that mimic other spells however (Wish, Shadow Conjuration/Evocation etc) do not. In these cases the circuit mage may only learn the specific spell effect that was mimicked.
Furthermore she may only learn spells that allow spell resistance.
A circuit mage who has succesfully learnt a spell is considered immune to this spell’s effect wether the spell used against her is infused with metamagic or not. The circuit mage can not lower this immunity.
If a spell the circuit mage is subjected to was modified by metamagic, she may only learn it in this entirety. This of course costs more circuits but also enables her to use the spell in its metamagic’d form.
The save DCs of any spell cast by a circuit mage are 10+1/2 total circuit number+Int modifier.
If a spell is on several lists at different levels, it is always defined as the level it was on the list of the person that subjected the circuit to the spell. (It is not possible to learn half the circuits by two different casters that have the spell at different levels)
A circuit mage benefits from prestige classes that grant advancement in spellcasting in a special way. Each time such a PrC grants one more level in a spellcasting class for the purpose of caster level and spells known, a circuit mage gains one additional Arcane circuit.
A circuit mage may also create weapons and armor from her internal energies. By temporarily assigning one circuit to this effect she may create any weapon or armor that she is proficient with. Armor and weapons so created are masterwork in nature.
Unlike spells, the circuit mage need not permanently assign circuits to this effect. She can create them from memory. The total amount of memory she has available for this is equal to twice her intelligence modifier and each weapon or armor occupies on slot in this system.
Weapons created by this ability count as normal non-magic weapons for all other purposes.
Creating a weapon or armor in this way is a swift action.
A circuit mage is capable of understanding some intricacies of spells better than other casters by internalizing the spell into her very being and as such can do without some of the more primitive material components. She gains Eschew materials as a bonus feat at 1st level.
A 2nd level circuit mage necessarily has had more experience of magic affecting her body than other warlocks and perhaps any other caster. As such she gains a greater affinity to the workings and emanations of magic.
She gains a constant aura (emanation 10’) in which she automatically takes notice of magical aurae as with 1 round of concentration with detect magic. She can further use detect magic at-will as a spell-like ability.
At 7th level the aura’s ability increases to the effect of a 2 round concentration detect magic and at 12th level that of a full 3 round concentration detect magic. At 17th level her abilities reach their peak as her aura expands to 30’ and her detect magic becomes a 120’ cone.
Being subjected to many detrimental effects in the process of learning spells, the circuit mage’s body adapts and becomes more resilient to many forms of indirect attacks. A 2nd level circuit mage gains Mettle. Any attacks that would allow a Will or Fortitude save for half damage do no damage with a succesful save.
At 10th level this increases such that even a failed save only causes half damage.
A circuit mage cannot escape her warlock origins and as such gains several of their abilities throughout the course of her life. At level 3 she gains DR 1/cold iron. Every 4 levels after 3rd this DR increases by 1.
Her experiences with her own created armor as well as further internalization of magic concepts enable a 3rd level circuit mage to cast any circuit-based spells in light armor without any arcane spell failure chance.
At 8th level this increases to the ability to do the same in medium armor.
At 4th level and higher, a circuit mage has the ability to more easily commandeer magic items made for the use of other characters. When making a Use Magic Device check, a circuit mage can take 10 even if distracted or threatened.
At 5th level the circuit mage gains the ability to copy enchantments of real weapons and armor. She may commit the magical properties of enchantments (inculding enchantment bonuses) to memory and apply them to weapons and armor created by her arcanized armory ability.
She may only do so for enchantments that come in the form of +X bonus enchantments. Each enchantment so memorized takes up a number of memory slots equal to the X in the afforementioned bonus. When applying these enchantments to arcanized equipment one inert circuit is needed for the base weapon and a number equal to X for the enchanments. The total number of circuits that is temporarily occupied in this manner counts as one cohesive unit for the purpose of maximum number of circuits assignable.
When memorizing enchantments, those that can be applied to different items count as one, but direct enchantment bonuses for armor and weapons have to be memorized seperately.
This development also allows the circuit mage to store information on spells. As such she may commit a spell she can cast to memory by using a number of memory “slots” equal to the spell's number of circuits. Once she has done so, she may relearn the spell in the event that she loses slots necessary to cast it. Both the act of memorization and relearning takes time equal to 10 minutes per circuit/slot.
By 6th level the circuit mage’s body has started to actively work against the forces that keep impacting and affecting it and is capable of using whatever shreds of magic the circuit mage does not use actively for protecting itself. As such the circuit mage can, as a swift action, assign use inert circuits to harden her body, giving her a bonus to her natural armor equal to the number of circuits used in this way. Activating this ability is a swift action. She may also assign circuits to increase her reactions, giving her a bonus on attack rolls equal to the number of circuits designated to this task.
Any circuit that is inert at any point is used by the circuit mage’s unconscious mind to improve her survivability. As such she gains a bonus to all saves equal to half the number of inert circuits. This effect is automatic and as such is not affected by the usual circuit limit for specific effects.
The constant imprints of magic on the circuit mage’s body have by now left her with a growing anti-magical reaction to anything that tries to affect her. At 8th level she gains spell resistance equal to 6+ her class level.
She may lower and raise this resistance as a free action as any spell negated by it cannot be learnt.
At 17th level this increases to 11+class level.
At 9th level a circuit mage has learnt enough spells to be able to identify the parts of any spell’s matrix that are specifically harmfull. As such she can use one inert circuit to compress all such aspects of a spell that she is subjected to into it. When doing so she become immune to this specific spell (as if she had learnt it) but is unable to cast it. Furthermore, this circuit can not be used to learn the spell later one. To use the circuit in this manner it has to first be made inert again.
Due to the innate way in which a circuit mage casts spells, she has now become capable of using the energy of any spell that she is subjected to and able to cast herself to increase her own abilities for a short while.
At 10th level, whenever she is subjected to a spell she is able to cast herself, she may gain one of the following benefits:
The circuit mage heals hit points equal to level of the spell times half her intelligence modifier.
The circuit mage gains resistance equal to the spell’s level to one energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic) or twice that if the spell would usually deal damage of the chosen energy type. This resistance stacks with all other sources of elemental resistance the circuit mage might have.
The circuit mage gains a bonus to her innate damage reduction equal to the spell’s level.
The circuit mage may increase the DCs of the next spell she casts by the level of the spell she was subjected to.
The resistance and hardy options last for 1 minute and none of the given non-instantaneous effects stacks with itself.
At 15th level these benefits extend to spells she is immune to via the Rapid Immunity ability.
The circuit mage has learned to distinguish between unmodified spells and those that have been modified by metamagic and as such is able to differentiate between them.
At 11th level the circuit mage may consider a spell and its metamagic components as different entities. As such when she learn a metamagic’d spell, she may use circuits for the normal spell and a number of extra circuits for the metamagic component once she has learned the spell. The metamagic component takes up a number of circuits equal to its spell-level-modifier for the person that cast the spell (minimum one). From this point onwards, the circuit mage may add this metamagic to any spell she casts as long as the combined number of circuits used in the casting is not greater than the allowed maximum.
A Circuit Mage of 12th level or higher can use his supernatural power to create magic items, even if he does not know the spells required to make an item (although he must know the appropriate item creation feat). He can substitute a Use Magic Device check (DC 15 + spell level for arcane spells or 25 + spell level for divine spells) in place of a required spell he doesn’t know or can’t cast.
If the check succeeds, the warlock can create the item as if he had cast the required spell. If it fails, he cannot complete the item. He does not expend the XP or gp costs for making the item; his progress is simply arrested. He cannot retry this Use Magic Device check for that spell until he gains a new
As the circuit mage has now awakened her ability to create magic items, she may also create items that aid her in learning and relearning spells. As such she gains Craft (Circuit Blueprint) as a bonus feat.
A circuit blueprint usually takes the form of a small gem worth at least 1000gp that is then imprinted with the information the circuit mage needs to recreate the necessary circuits for a spell. Due to the increasing complexity of spells which occupy a higher number of circuits however, this can become quite expensive as more elaborate magic rituals are necessary to compress the information.
The cost of imprinting a gem with the necessary information is equal to the square of the necessary circuits and follows standard item creation rules.
Example: A 5 circuit spell would necessitate 25,000gp and 2,000xp to create and would have a market value of 50,000gp.
Learning a spell from a circuit blueprint takes as much time as relearning it from memory.
Mind over Matter:
At 13th level, the circuit mage gains insight into the workings the more ritualistic aspects of magic and as such becomes able to forego some material components by investing more power into a spell.
At the moment of casting, she may push the magic from inert circuits into the spell to overcome the boundaries that normally make material components necessary.
For every power of 10 that the cost of material components exceeds 1 gp or less, she needs the magic of one inert circuit. (up to and including 10gp=1 circuit, up to and including 100gp=2 circuits etc.)
For this purpose, the additional circuits count as part of the spell’s casting and as such fall under the allowed maximum rule.
Breaking the Limit:
A circuit mage’s greatest adversary is her own limit on how many circuits she may command at any one time. By her 14th level she is versed enough in her own limits to break these limits for one small moment, though it come at a cost.
By temporarily burning out one of her circuits, a circuit mage can overcome her maximum circuit limit for one round allowing her to use more circuits than normally allowed in the casting of one spell.
She may also use it to cast more than one spell of the same casting time at once. However, in this case she burns out a number of circuits equal to the number of additional spells she cast regardless of wether the combined number of circuits of these spells is higher than the usual allowed maximum or not.
A burnt out circuit does no longer count towards the circuit mage’s number of circuits and has to be reconstructed via meditation, which takes 1 hour per circuit so reconstructed.
Greater Magic Recovery:
At 15th level, the circuit mage’s ability to use the energy of spells she is immune to increases.
Whenever she is subjected to the effects of a spell she herself can cast she may store these energies and use them on her next turn to cast any spell she is able to cast of up to the transformed spell’s level as a swift action.
Doing so however means she foregoes the bonuses she could have attained from the Magic Recovery ability.
Beyond all Limits:
At 16th level the circuit mage has internalized the workings of magic to such a degree that she is able to extrapolate its workings beyond what is normally possible. Any spell effect that is defined by caster levels but has a defined maximum, has this maximum removed as the circuit mage is now able to adapt every spell to her full potential.
However, advancing a spell beyond what it was designed to do takes more effort than casting it normally and as such every increase takes twice as much energy.
Example: Fireball damage increases by 1d6/level to a maximum of 10d6. With this ability it would increase by 1d6 every two levels after reaching this point so that at level 20 it would have a damage potential of 15d6.
Power over experience:
At 18th level, a circuit mage has amassed enough experience to know that her own self is relatively unneeded for the workings of magic. She has realised that for such flighty things as spells, she does not need to invest her own life into the workings of magic, but can craft temporary constructs from her magci that fulfill the same purpose.
As such she is capable of foregoing any XP component usually necessary to cast a spell by using the magic in some of her inert circuits to compensate. As with mind over matter, this necessitates she expend more circuits on casting a spell.
If the spell usually needs an expenditure of up to and including 10XP she needs the additional power of one circuit. This amount increases by one for every power of 10 the necessary XP exceed that amount.
At 19th level, the circuit mage can now use foreign energies gained via her greater magic recovery ability to create a temporary circuit within herself. Doing so prohibits her from using the energy to cast another spell as a swift action as described in greater magic recovery.
This temporary circuit persists for a number of minutes equal to her constitution modifier and multiple instances of temporary circuits stack. These circuits count to her total circuit number for the time they exists and therefore can modify the allowed maximum number of circuits per casting and may be used to fuel the circuit mage’s breaking the limit ability.
At 20th level the circuit mage has achieved deeper knowledge of magic than most others and as such is able to divest herself of the redundancies and failsafes that were included in spells by those that did not have the necessary feeling for how the magic in their creations work. She is able to slim down all spells to those parts that are necessary and achieves virtually flawless spells.
Any spells or metamagic components she learns and enchantments she commits to memory have their necessary circuits or memory slots reduced by one third (round down) to a minimum of one.
As such a 7th level spell that would normally need seven circuits to learn and cast now only needs four.
This ability has no influence of a circuit mage's Mind over Matter
and Power over Experience
Playing a circuit mage
Always looking, always searching, balancing precariously on the edge of oblivion.
One thing drives you, to diversify your magic and to learn newer and better spells. Maybe you commit them to memory, maybe you buy scrolls or wands to “relearn” them yourselves. But whatever you do, the search is what dominates your daily life. Well one of the two things, but for the other you have to find a warlock first and they generally don’t advertise themselves.
Others may say they suffer for their art or craft, but they know nothing. You learn by suffering, by pain and blood. They know nothing of what you do willingly. They may look at you with horror or disgust, thinking you to be some deviant or devil woshipper. They know nothing, they don’t feel. You are the better one. The wizards in their arrogance look down on you. They know but don’t feel. The warlocks in their greed feel but lack the intelligence to know. You are the middle path, the compromise.
You can decide what to learn, what to be. The ability to use magic without any danger of running out, yet being able to learn whenever better choices present themselves allows you some flexibility. You do best with the help of another caster, strangely enough doing best with a wizard or maybe cleric.
Generally you want to avoid melee combat. You have some abilities that allow you to be passable at it, but can never truly reach the same heights in it as others. Your place is that of heavy support, you have little diversity but can us what you have without limit. Depending on what you learn this can be a great equalizer in many battles.
As a circuit mage is limited to a fraction of her circuits at any given time it is best she stays single classed or moves to prestige classes that grant spellcasting advancement. However in the latter case she will never benefit from some of the more powerful abilities of a single classed circuit mage.
Circuit Mages are generally lone wanderers. Only a handful of “schools” exist and even then they consist of only a handfull of students each. As such, a circuit mage will most likely never have access to the great ressources that a mage of any great order can command.
Circuit Mages in the world
“I don’t quite follow their entire philosophy, but I generally like the few I’ve met in my travels. Few people will outright pay you to zap them with some of your deadlier spells and then thank you for the effort.” – Malarite Bentam – Warmage
Circuit Mages are generally seen as weird warlocks, or if they are lucky educated warlocks. Their rarity generally results in not having any actual unique classification in the eyes of the puplic and as such are easily forgotten as “that warlock with the starnge philosophy”.
Many warlocks have no actual routine, as they go wherever they believe they can learn new things and experience new magic and reinvent their personality accordingly.
One of the most “famous” Circuit mages was Tiral Mar deKartis. Of course famous here means remembered as he actually appeared ina written medium, having his own small 15 page chapter on the practice of circuit magery.
Interestingly, this was enough for quite a few warlocks to flock to him after the book was released, asking to be his pupils. This resulted in the founding of the “DeKartis School of Circuit Magery” which at its largest boasted 14 pupils. Some of them later founded their own small schools but none ever reached the same “grandness” and many have since collapsed. The original school still exists and currently has 6 pupils but also has been in decline for quite a while now.
Where others learn to fight, you hone your magic to increase your capabilities.
Arcane Circuitry class feature
You gain one additional arcane circuit.
You may take this feat several times, gaining an extra circuit each time.
Please excuse the probably rampant typos, grammar issues and misspellings. I will try to correct them over the course of the next days.