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    Default [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    So, in February of this year 2011, I started on a system of magic predicated on the Tome of Battle system of martial adepts. The goal was to create simple, blast-centric magic-users that still possessed versatile and interesting abilities.

    The Spellshaping project now consists of over six base classes, twenty-two prestige classes, 336 "arcane formulae," and various other pieces of material. Said materials can be found here. Normally, I would simply re-post it on these forums, but the sheer volume is such that I feel it more prudent to simply open a discussion thread that links to the existing sub-forum.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    REVISION: The spellshaping material is currently undergoing a full-system revision, during which I will be integrating the newer material into the core rules. This will end with a completely coherent whole, which will be available as a single PDF. In the meantime, however, I have stopped editing the old PDFs. Thus, the up-to-date spellshaping material is currently only available online. Material that has been revised is listed here.

    Revisions are also available in a .docx file here. Last Updated: 3/1/13




    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    PDFs: Much of the spellshaping material is now in ready-to-download PDF form.
    • Codex I (Updated 8/1/12) - The first Codex of Spellshaping, containing the original classes and the first twelve circles.
    • Codex II (Updated 8/1/12) - The second Codex, containing spellshaping races, new classes, two new circles, and many other character options.


    Materials Only Available Online: Because throwing a full Codex together is actually a bit of work, some materials have only been posted in an online format. They are listed here.



















    It's a lot of material, but it's fairly easy to understand if you're familiar with the Tome of Battle. Essentially, Major Formulae function as Strikes, while Minor Formulae function as Boosts. Spellshape attacks--spell-like abilities that resemble a warlock's eldritch blast--are used in place of melee attacks for the purpose of shaping (initiating) formulae (maneuvers).

    In general, spellshape attacks and arcane formulae are ranged touch attacks and subject to spell resistance. However, in some cases--the powers of Blustering Gale, Crushing Stone, Natural Balance, and Roaring Tide, to be specific--the spellshape attacks are instead normal ranged attacks, but are not subject to spell resistance. In such cases, you use your shaper level in place of your base attack bonus when making your attack.



    Please, post any feedback, comments, or suggestions that you have. I want to make this system the best that it can be, and I can only do that if people tell me what is wrong with it. Pretty much any feedback given will be addressed--or, at the very least, responded to--as soon as I see it. I check in on this thread every day, so don't worry about being missed.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2013-03-12 at 03:29 PM.
    Homebrew I've written. Includes an entire index of the spellshaping materials, as well as a few other tidbits I've done.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Hey, just wanted to say this is a great homebrew! . I actually started using the first codex (elemental adapt/lavamancer) a while ago on a php here. If you want to see here is the IC link, I start on page 33.

    So far it is working out excellent, the lavamancer is doing a great job of keeping up! (It's a gestalt game btw, I'm gestalted with binder). I haven't found anything significant in terms of needing to be changed or anything.

    Actually quick question though, if a lavamancer uses his shape molten rock ability on the ceiling, would that cause drips of magma to fall below and cause damage?
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Heh. Amusingly enough, Elemental Adept/Lavamancer is also the only spellshaping build I've gotten the chance to play. It's fun.

    In terms of Shape Molten Stone, the idea of the ability is that you're shaping stone by melting it. The analogy would be blowing glass, not liquefying a bucket of sand. Given that you can create a spike of molten stone that doesn't slowly melt into a puddle of lava, such a spike from the ceiling would, logically, also not drip. The stone is cooling after you use the ability, not continuing to flow.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:00 AM.
    Homebrew I've written. Includes an entire index of the spellshaping materials, as well as a few other tidbits I've done.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Ah ok that makes sense. Bump of great justice!

    Edit: Also, how about a sound based circle?
    Last edited by bindin garoth; 2011-12-07 at 07:02 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Ooh, there's more stuff! And you have your own subforum! And BG is all pretty now! Squee!

    As an aside, Bruce Lee has a quote which might be good for the opening of the Savant's entry: "All types of knowledge, ultimately mean self knowledge."
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    That's not BG.

    BG kinda... died, and minmaxboards is the reincarnation.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Sound-based circle is interesting. I've had the idea several times, but decided not to for reasons that...

    ...that...

    ...that I can no longer remember. Huh.

    Looks like I'll be writing a sound-based circle at some point in the future! It will be named Screeching Roc because I love puns.

    In terms of the Bruce Lee quote, that would almost make more sense for a savant/anchorite fusion class, given that savants deal primarily with knowledge of the external, while anchorites draw upon the knowledge of the self.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:00 AM.
    Homebrew I've written. Includes an entire index of the spellshaping materials, as well as a few other tidbits I've done.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Well if you need someone to bounce of ideas just send me a PM!
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    I emerge from the abyss with a few tidbits!

    Firstly, some errata has been done in the posts, but not yet to the Codex I PDF. Specifically:
    1. The elemental adept's elemental companion now scales with shaper level and gets an extra attack--though its elemental aura no longer causes your spellshape attacks and formulae to deal extra damage.
    2. The elemental adept's Elemental Empowerment ability has been tidied up and updated to reflect changes...not terribly recent ones, either. It had slipped past me for a while, there.
    3. The elemental adept's Elemental Magic class feature has been tweaked slightly to give you the ability to use your element's associated domain spells as spell-like abilities, once per day each.
    4. The impulse mage's rules text is slightly more clear about recovering formulae.
    5. Precise Shaper and Tactical Shaper no longer leave out spellshape attacks that are made as ranged attacks, but not ranged touch attacks.
    6. Spellshape Study now has a nice, pretty line break.
    7. Some formatting stuff with some of the formulae has been tidied up.


    Secondly, some points have been raised over on the Minmax thread, and I wanted to see what people thought about them. Leaving aside the stylistic and philosophical questions, two major points remain. The arguments made have been placed in spoilers beneath their summaries.

    1. Should the impulse mage be allowed to ignore arcane spell failure from light armor?
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      The Impulse Mage should be proficient and able to wear light armor. Every character in D&D is expected to be able to use at least light armor because it is a mandatory part of the games expectations for the combat RNG.
      ...getting to add an extra stat to armor is a feature that is thrown around all over the place and it is almost always accompanied by the ability to just also wear light armor. Swordsage does it in the book you are trying to replicate and he wears light armor. When designers give out an extra stat to AC bonus it is to help lightly armored characters use their shtick and be just as effective as at least medium armored characters. In DnD Armor is a standard so not wearing armor is a big loss, this is one of the primary reasons why a good Swashbuckler class has never really been done. Armor has very few negatives, huge positives, and was a conceptual standard for the designers when making the game. So the name for characters who don't wear armor is not "Fencer" but "NPC".
    2. Are spellshapers incapable of performing in high-level play?
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      The classes you've made here simply are not able to enter high level combat excepting only the spellsage. There are three reasons for this: Lack of range, Lack of versatility, and Lack of Buffs. The first problem is simple, the range on spellshaping effects is usually about 45 feet or so on average, generally capping at 60. That just isn't enough to compete with real high level monsters. By 10th level these characters are mages with mage saves, mage armor, and mage hp who are expected to get up close and personal with things like Fire Giants. They just can't cut it. It also means mobile threats like ranged fliers can completely shut them down by just staying out of a 40 foot bubble. Most ranged characters are effective out to much farther range so this is a considerable problem. Second is lack of versatility. Thinking of ranged fliers again the only class that could let you easily handle fliers is the Spellsage. The Spellshaping classes entire flight abilities are relegated to a couple of air maneuvers which means your average character has a good chance of being without. Besides flying the class has no answer for lots of tactical problems that can arise because while they look like spellcasters they actually more resemble archers in terms of actual tactical diversity. They shoot and that's about it. Steps should be taken if you want the classes to be able to operate at high level to give them effects they can apply to themselves to troubleshoot problems. Which leads directly to a Lack of Buffs. This one is simple. All high tier classes can buff. Even Tome of Battle characters have buffs in the form of various stances that they can activate to modify their characters abilities. Spellshapers just don't have this which means they're out of place in the "Big Dog leagues" of D&D classes. The Spellsage can choose Buff spells which let him compete. A spellsage can have by 8th level Stoneskin, Fly, Invisibility, and Shield. Letting him prepare for equal leveled opponents. I think that with increased average range to their abilities, an ability to buff in some fashion, and some access to tactical effects like spells or innate abilities the Spellshaping classes would be absolutely on par with the best material out there. I think that adding these effects and changes is something you should at least consider.
      I have no doubt that your classes would do really nicely in the beginning 5 levels or so but then they will start losing ground and they won't stop until whatever campaign ends. And to your two points about range and buffs; In range I actually added up the average range of powers in the Shocking Current Discipline which I chose at random. The average range all totaled for ranged powers is 56 feet, so I was under by 10 with my guess. I still believe the point stands perfectly however that the class suffers from a lack of good ranged options. If you are trying to emulate the Warlock then I would recommend including things to improve their actual ranged capability, as the Warlock has a single effect which makes all his attacks 400 feet long. As to buffs I will assume you know more than I. I don't feel like they have enough powerful buff capability but despite my fondness for testing rigor I'm not gonna go through every maneuver. The maneuvers I've seen on my read through tend to be not quite powerful enough for the characters level, situational, possessing a short duration, and need to be pre-chosen for encounters which means taking up space from directly effective combat choices. So your flight troubleshooting maneuver and your teleportation troubleshooting maneuver both compete with space with your awesome doing-things maneuvers. And magic flight or teleportation items do exist, but yes you are correct. Melee characters WERE screwed forever in 3.5. Famously so. It was all anyone really ever talked about. We even had phrases for it. DMF: Dumb melee fighter comes to mind. High level monsters didn't have to interact with fighter characters that just swung swords, you really had to bring a lot more to the fight or else you literally couldn't play in the big leagues. And the idea that this imbalance is in any way fixed by the idea of making every 1oth level barbarian spend 27,000 gold of his total 49 on some boots of flying and a cape of the mountebank is pretty offensive. I mean at that point your really talking about a huge handicap being put onto what are already the worst and least performing classes in the game.


    What say you all on these points? I'm not necessarily looking for blind support on my side of the issue, I really need all the opinions that I can get on this one. I have precious little experience with anything above level ten, so I can't say that I fully understand how power scales over the course of the leveling process.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:01 AM.
    Homebrew I've written. Includes an entire index of the spellshaping materials, as well as a few other tidbits I've done.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    1. Sure.

    2. Will give a more detailed reply when I get a chance.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    The one thing you seem to be missing is some kind of illusion-based circle. Are there plans for anything along those lines?
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    So, because I lack a reason not to, I'm probably going to end up giving light armor to the Anchorite, the Impulse Mage, and the Savant. So, yeah.

    In addition, the person who raised the questions about versatility and adaptability has said that metashaping feats--which he had not investigated--looked like they might go a lot of the way to addressing those questions. Thus, formatting and organization are going to be changed somewhat. Metashaping feats will be first introduced in Codex I, with Extend, Maximize, Persistent, and Quicken being moved to that text. This is pretty much entirely organizational. There will also be some new metashaping feats added to Codex II to compensate, but they are not yet written.

    A mechanical change that IS going to be made is that all classes--except for the spellsage--will be receiving the ability to change their prepared formulae once per encounter as a swift action. This lets you avoid getting caught with your pants down, without completely removing the purpose behind preparing formulae.

    Some minor errata has been administered, primarily in cleaning up a few feats. Edgewalker Knight's Service of the Suppliant ability got reworked slightly, making it a 1/encounter swift action.


    The one thing you seem to be missing is some kind of illusion-based circle. Are there plans for anything along those lines?
    The problem is that spellshapers are mostly based on attacks. Illusions--at least as I understand them--involve creating effects. It's much more likely that I'll slip in illusions as effects in other circles, as is currently the case with Brilliant Dawn and Glimmering Moon.

    Thing is, what would single-target illusory attacks do? Well, first of all, there's the question of the spellshape attack. Would it be an illusion? If so, do they get a Will save to disbelieve the attack? Then, we move onto what the effects would be. Probably penalties of various sorts...or, in other words, what a lot of formulae already do. Basically, the only difference between an illusion-based circle and any other circle would be thematic, rather than mechanical. And it would involve a non-standard attack form, which is something that I really, really shy away from.

    So, no, I don't see an illusion-based circle happening any time soon. Am I saying that I'll never do such a thing? No, I'm not. But I feel like adapting illusions to spellshaping would involve abandoning a lot of what makes illusions illusions.

    It's worth noting that pretty much no circle is based on one of the schools of magic--with the possible exception of Devouring Shadow being based thematically on Necromancy. There's no Transmutation or Abjuration circle, nor is there an Enchantment spellshape attack.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:01 AM.
    Homebrew I've written. Includes an entire index of the spellshaping materials, as well as a few other tidbits I've done.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    fey damage! make it do a good bit more damage then other schools, but make it affecting and a will save.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    That...more or less flies entirely in the face of my professed preference for standardized attacks. A circle with a spellshape attack that deals significantly more damage than the other circles is not a thing that's going to happen. Ever.

    In terms of news, a bit of errata has been pushed. Mostly the stuff I was talking about with moving some metashaping feats to Codex I. However, the Unseen Impetus formula Marionette has been replaced by a minor formula that causes your kinetic blast to knock creatures prone.

    In addition, the ability to change your prepared formulae once per encounter has been added, and the impulse mage's progression has been tweaked slightly, sliding the number of prepared formulae and the number of formulae that occur to you closer together.

    The Codex I PDF has been updated with all of the recent errata and can be found here. All of the errata is also up on the subforum, but I know that some people prefer PDFs.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2011-12-21 at 02:38 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Then perhapce a illusionist shaper class? Gets esentialy SA, that is mind affecting/ fear affect with a will to negate. then you get the bonus damage without throwing the spell circles out of wack. Add some fluff and there you go!
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    An illusion circle could deal nonlethal damage (since you only think it hurts).
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Hrm...! That could actually do it. My initial concerns about things being immune to nonlethal damage were assuaged when I realized that most things with such immunities are also immune to mind-affecting abilities.

    Nonlethal will probably be a component of any illusory spellshaping, if such comes to pass. Don't really know right now, though, since I still have a crapload of work to do before I can even think about writing new material.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:01 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Looks interesting, or at least what I've seen of it does. Anyways, only suggestion I have to make so far is that Spellshape attacks should deal more damage, maybe progressing more like a Warlock's Eldritch blast, or at least add 1-2 more dice to the attack. After all, at 19th-20th level, the Warlock's Eldritch Blast is dealing 9d6 damage, while a standard Spellshape attack is dealing 5dx. Still, just my opinion. This is a really interesting idea.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Between Spellshape Focus and Greater Spellshape focus, you can pop it up to 7d_. A lamen that adds another 1d_ is pretty cheap, putting you at 8d_.

    Moreover, most of your damage is generally going to be coming from formulae. Sure, at 17th level, your fireblast only deals 5d6 damage...but if you shape Incinerating Blast and then Undying Flames, you're going to deal 18d6+17 points of damage. Plus the actual effect of Undying Flames.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:02 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    This looks interesting. Reading over it now.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Just to keep everyone up to date, a few new feats were added to off-set the feats that were moved to Codex I. Empower Formula, Fortify Formula, and Heighten Formula mimic the metamagic feats of similar nomenclature, while Metashaping Focus allows you to reduce the degrees of metashaping feats a few times per day.
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:02 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    This system needs more Brilliant Dawn + Devouring Shadow PrCs.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    All righty, I'll put that on the to-do list. Prestige classes combining Brilliant Dawn and Devouring Shadow. They shall occur!
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:02 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    I took the time to read through the entire thing, and I must say, this IS FREAKING AWESOME! I have never seen such a complete project made by one person. I especially liked the PrC that turns you into The Slender Man. Genius.
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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    I'm not going to be able to read this whole thing, for a variety of reasons, and am currently sort of... sitting with my mouth agape, in awe.

    I do, however, have a minor complaint/request: There's no "basic description of the Circles" like there is for the Disciplines in ToB. (See page 41-42 of ToB for what I mean, or page 8 for ). I want to get into it, I really do, but there's a TON of material, and I don't have the liberty to spend an afternoon reading it.

    Could you provide a brief (somewhat fluffy) description for each circle?

    As an example, here's Desert Wind's description.

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    DESERT WlND
    Speed and mobility are the hallmarks of the Desert Wind discipline. Desert Wind maneuvers often involve blinding flurries of blows, quick charges, and agile foot work. Some maneuvers from this school, however, draw power from the supernatural essence of the desert and allow an adept practitioner to scour his foes with fire.
    The key skill for Desert Wind maneuvers is Tumble. Weapons associated with Desert Wind include the scimitar, light mace, light pick, falchion, and spear.

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Er... Nine? Yes, there are descriptions. (Scroll down about halfway)
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Gareth View Post
    The Next Round: Hundreds of the Guardians of Time show up and one of them screams out, "THIS IS AN UNSANCTIONED VIOLATION OF SPACE-TIME."

    Order the solars to attack and run like hell.
    Steam account. Add me to argue about philosophy whatever!
    Advertized Homebrew: Fire Emblem 4's Holy Blood as Bloodlines
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    Using a different color of text for sarcasm is so original.

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    NineThePuma's Avatar

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    ... I totally missed that IN MY DEFENSE, they aren't called out in the Index.

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    DonQuixote's Avatar

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Hrm. I didn't think demand for the summaries would necessarily be high enough to list them in the Index. Should I go ahead and do that?
    Last edited by DonQuixote; 2012-04-19 at 07:02 AM.
    Homebrew I've written. Includes an entire index of the spellshaping materials, as well as a few other tidbits I've done.

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    The-Mage-King's Avatar

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Probably a link to the "Spellshaping Basics" would be best. Saves some space, and all that.
    Avatar by Ceika.
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord_Gareth View Post
    The Next Round: Hundreds of the Guardians of Time show up and one of them screams out, "THIS IS AN UNSANCTIONED VIOLATION OF SPACE-TIME."

    Order the solars to attack and run like hell.
    Steam account. Add me to argue about philosophy whatever!
    Advertized Homebrew: Fire Emblem 4's Holy Blood as Bloodlines
    Extended Signature.
    Using a different color of text for sarcasm is so original.

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    GuyFawkes's Avatar

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    Default Re: [3.5 Magic System] The Codices of Spellshaping

    Wow. Just. Brilliant. *slow clap*

    Need more time to go into all of it, but the general idea of the project is, for the lack of a word, brilliant.

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