I've been toying with the idea of importing syntactic (noun-verb) magic into 3.5 for a while, but a few days ago I suggested, in another homebrew thread, using the various G.U.R.P.S. systems to create a t3 overhaul (before then I was considering it more for a standalone class). After thinking about it I realized that, if done properly, not only could it create a more dynamic magic system and re-balance the tiers, but that it could also open casters to the kind of multi-classing enjoyed by mundane classes and create a more interesting break than the current Arcane/Divine/Natural split, opening up a wealth of new character concepts while preserving the difference between those sources.
Before I dive into the actual outline for what I'm planning I want to quickly go over my goals for this project, to make sure everyone's on the same page and make sure I'm actually doing something useful; so in order of descending importance:
- Re-balance casters to mid T3-low T2.
I like magic to have a bit of a bite and making casting more multi-class friendly should help even the field between different archetypes.
- Allow compatibility with existing material and provide guidelines for converting spells.
There's allot of really cool material both in the various splats and homebrew and a "fix" that locks players out of most of it seems more than a little wasteful.
- Encourage mult-classing both between caster classes and caster/mundane hybrids.
I think one of the major problems with magic in 3.5 is that the current caster rules heavily discourage multi-classing since different magic classes don't really stack well and non-caster classes operate under almost entirely different mechanics and advancement schemes.
- Create a more dynamic and involved magic system.
I intend to create four classes based on four different variants (or two variants with two sub-variants each) of gurps magic. They are the Intuitive mages based the standard system presented in the basic set, Learned mages who make use of the standard system but add defaults, Word mages who use the syntactic system from magic and Rune mages who use the symbolic system. However before attempting to actually create the classes I would like to have the basic rules under which they'll all be running, a definition for each type of magic and for ease of speaking a glossary.
- These are used by both intuitive and Learned mages and are largely the same as srd spells or a cast-able noun-verb combination.
- Words are used by Word and Rune mages. Each is classified as either a noun or a verb and at-least one of each category is required to cast a spell, though more may be used to achieve more complex results or beneficial casting parameters.
- As in 3.5, but with the addition that by learning a school a mage can cast any spell of that type at a penalty.
- A generic term for spells, words or schools.
Esoterica count as sudo-skills that can have no more than a characters level points invested in them (i.e. they do not receive the normal +3).
As they are sudo skills they can not be added to a class list via feats or similar effects that add skills and the factotum and similar classes do not
treat them as class skill.
A character may learn an esoterica by adding points to it while taking a level in a class that has access two it (for this purpose words granted by word and rune mages count as different esoterica since they use different mechanics). After an esoterica has been learned it is treated as a class skill for all of a character's classes, with the exception of schools which are cross-class for non-casting classes.
Mages no-longer have a unified caster level, instead a mage's cl is determined by the number of points (and just the number of points) in an esoterica.
When first taking a level in a casting class a mage chooses a language to work in, this choice applies to all casting classes. This both determines the source of a mages magic and provides a bonus as listed in the following table (per DM discretion other languages can be used, either as substitutes or to add new possible bonuses).
|futhark||Wild shape (or something similar)|
|High Draconic||Reserve spells(?)|
Note 1: Bonuses advance by hd** and a mage automatically knows how to speak and read/write their chosen language.
Note 2: Using a wand or scroll of a different language but same source requires a dc 15 or 15+caster level umd check while using one from a different source requires a dc 20 or 20+caster level check.
Upon first taking a casting class a character chooses one mental stat as a key stat; again this choice affects all other casting classes. Each stat has an inherit advantage as listed in the table bellow.
|Intelligence||Domain (ability only)|
|Wisdom|| SR penetration|
|Charisma||Bonus to DCs|
Use this mana
system, but change all instances of CL (except for spell cost) to levels in casting classes + half levels in non-casting classes.
In addition to skill points a character receives a fixed number of magic points when leveling in a casting class. Magic points are used to level words and spell (schools use normal skill points). Skill points can
be used to level spells and words, but they only count as half a magic point each.
Magic classes will probably receive skill and magic points according to the following table:
|Class||Skill points||Magic points*|
The spells for this system can be converted from 3.5 by combining series or a group of similar spells into one spell. All Cl dependent effects are determined by ranks and higher versions of the spell can be accessed by higher skill ranks (a mage must pay the appropriate cost for the level of the spell used).
Wands, scrolls and potions must specify the level of the spell used upon creation.
When attacking a mage in the process of casting a spell the attacker rolls a second attack versus a mage's skill in the spell (including there key stat mod) - the level of the spell being cast. On a success the spell is interrupted, but no resources are used. On a critical success the spell is interrupted and the resources are still used up.
Directly opposed spells:
Directly opposed spells (like see invisibility and invisibility or mindblank and X mental power) result in opposed skill checks.
The intuitive mage is meant as a sort of parallel to the sorcerer. That is, rather than having a formal education in magic they obtain their power through personal experimentation, non-human ancestry or some combination there of. In terms of spell selection and play style, intuitive mages are meant to focus on a relatively small number of spells and get them to a higher level (the spontaneous vs prepared distinction no longer applies, since everyone casts relatively spontaneously).
Learned mages are meant to replace the wizard. Rather than have a bunch of spells they practice individually they use their general training in the arcane arts to duplicate the effects of a large number of spells but can only get one or two top level spells.
Word mages are meant to be more skill based practitioners of the arts. Their spells are more versatile but less powerful than the spells of the learned and intuitive mages and less enduring and regular than the spells of a rune mage. The fact that their spells only requirement is that they speak the proper words means that they make excellent courtiers (since they have no odd gestures or unpleasant components to hide) and thieves since their spells can be made to fit most situations and they are very hard to render incapable of casting (no components to confiscate and only gags matter in the realm of physical restraints).
Rune mages are meant to fill the role of enchanter, mad tinkerer, rune knight or anything else that's more based on physical objects. Their spells are harder to cast spontaneously but tend to either last longer in a semi-enchantment form or become easily repeated once they're setup. They're meant to be a more naturally gishy class.
Right, that's my basic premise and the ground work I want to use to build the classes, but I thought it would be a good idea to post this on it's own and get it critique so I don't try to build something off of a flawed premise. Any help or criticism would be appreciated as would suggestions for already functional subsystems, especially for wild shape variants and arcane bonuses.
It's also worth mentioning that the first class I'll be making is the Word mage since it seems to involve the least number of moving parts and is likely to result in a playable class for testing in the least amount of time.