Echelon Draft Spellcaster Talents

I’ve described what is likely to be the core of the Echelon combat talents (Martial Training), but a major element of fantasy roleplaying games is spellcasting.

I’m not entirely sure what I want spellcasting to look like, rules-wise, so this material is very much draft and subject to change.

The combat material was pretty straightforward because there’s really only one system for it. The rules options for spellcasting or other supernatural powers are rather more varied. The architecture of Echelon is such that it should be possible to swap out spellcasting systems fairly easily, or even run several in parallel. For now, though, I’ll aim for a more or less unified system (I know, sounds easy, right?) that is reasonably close to the Vancian system found in D&D 3.x.

Spellcasting Rules

A spellcaster has a caster level equal to his Level Bonus plus his Caster Training Bonus and can cast spells of a level up to his Caster Training Bonus. Slots higher level than this may be used for lower level spells, with or with metamagic talents applied (though this is likely to be the subject of a later post).

Spell slots are gained as a wizard of the caster’s level. The ‘cantrips’ column indicates how many different cantrips may be prepared and is to be modified by the spellcaster’s Intelligence score. Spellcasters may cast as many cantrips as they wish per day.

A spellcaster starts with only access to simple spells of the levels he can cast. Simple spells are defined as those available on both the wizard and cleric class spell lists and are applied at the higher level the spell is present on these lists. All other spells (or a spell on both lists, but cast at a lower level) are available are made available using additional talents.

Caster Training

First, a character needs to learn how to cast spells. This is readily modeled using a pair of talents that govern caster level. These are split into two talents to allow multiple progression rates and because full progression as a single talent is perhaps too powerful.

Caster Training

Tier Benefit
Basic You can prepare and cast cantrips (0-level spells)
Expert +1 to Caster Training Bonus.
Heroic +2 to Caster Training Bonus.
Master +3 to Caster Training Bonus.
Champion +4 to Caster Training Bonus.
Legendary +5 to Caster Training Bonus.

Improved Caster Training

Improved Caster Training expands on Caster Training to provide a greater Martial Training Bonus. At each tier it has as a prerequisite the Caster Training talent taken at or above the same tier.

Tier Benefit
Expert +1 to Caster Training Bonus.
Heroic +2 to Caster Training Bonus.
Master +3 to Caster Training Bonus.
Champion +4 to Caster Training Bonus.
Legendary +5 to Caster Training Bonus.

Arcane Focus

For this first draft I’ll be leaning on the D&D 3.x structures. A spellcaster can get access to complex ‘wizard’ spells by taking the Arcane Focus talent. Each school has a different focus talent. Each gives access to the complex spells of the school, but I think it should be possible to get additional benefits specific to each school. That might be managed through the School Focus talent or as a new talent (Arcane Specialization) for each school. I suspect I’ll be raiding Pathfinder for that one.

I was thinking that at each tier Caster Training would be a prerequisite, but it occurs to me that if I say instead that Arcane Focus “adds the spells to your class list” it would be reasonable to have characters able to use spell completion or spell trigger items but unable to cast the spells. This has some appeal to me, to be honest. I’m leaving the prerequisites off for now.

It might be worth ignoring the existing ‘class list’ distinctions and go entirely on spell school, especially since I’m not sure how to handle spells from some of the classes easily. I’ll come back to it.

Conjuration Focus

Tier Benefit
Expert You add first- and second-level complex conjuration wizard spells to your list of available spells.
Heroic You add third- and fourth-level complex conjuration wizard spells to your list of available spells.
Master You add fifth- and sixth-level complex conjuration wizard spells to your list of available spells.
Champion You add seventh- and eighth-level complex conjuration wizard spells to your list of available spells.
Legendary You add ninth- and tenth-level complex conjuration wizard spells to your list of available spells.

Divine Focus

Again leaning on the D&D 3.x structures, spellcasters can get access to cleric spells based on domains. Choose a deity and the Divine Focus talent lets you add the complex spells in the deity’s domains to your list of spells available. I would expect that each character would likely have access to only one deity’s spells, but in our real-world historical magical traditions it was not uncommon to call on multiple gods and demons within the same ritual, so it may be that a caster take more than one Divine Focus talent, just as a caster might take multiple School Focus talents.

The Arcane Focus talent will probably make more spells available to a caster than the Divine Focus talent, but I expect Divine Focus will give spells covering a broader range of options than Arcane Focus does. The evocation school has a lot of spells, but they almost all blow things up. A divine caster can expect to find a mix of offensive, defensive, and utility spells within the domains he has available.

Divine Focus (Albry)

Albry is the patron of farmers and healers, and was noted for his phenomenal endurance. In my 3.x campaign, his clerics could choose from the Good, Healing, Plant, and Strength domains.

Tier Benefit
Expert You add first- and second-level complex spells from the Good, Healing, Plant, and Strength domains to your list of available spells.
Heroic You add third- and fourth-level complex spells from the Good, Healing, Plant, and Strength domains to your list of available spells.
Master You add fifth- and sixth-level complex spells from the Good, Healing, Plant, and Strength domains to your list of available spells.
Champion You add seventh- and eighth-level complex spells from the Good, Healing, Plant, and Strength domains to your list of available spells.
Legendary You add ninth- and tenth-level complex spells from the Good, Healing, Plant, and Strength domains to your list of available spells.

Domain Powers

Domain powers are really outside the scope of this article, but because they are part of the domains the Divine Focus grants access to, I’ll discuss them briefly here.

The domain powers in the RSRD basically have a single stage of power. It may try to scale with level (such as the Strength domain power, which I think the Strength Talent blows away), but for the most part you get one thing when you start and that’s it. Instead I plan to have domain powers each be a talent, probably fuelled by divine channelling with abilities in each tier. The domain powers would therefore be entirely separated from domain spells, except they would both be available from the same deities.

Probably; I can accept the possibility of a deity that grants only spells or only divine powers, or different lists of each.

Other Classes, and Non-domain Cleric Spells

I’m not entirely sure what to do about the other spellcasting classes (Bard, Druid, Ranger, Paladin) or the cleric spells that don’t fit in the existing domains.

The unassigned cleric spells might just end up being assigned to new domains, or the existing domains have some more spells added, or have ‘divine spell schools’ as the arcane spells.

Druid spells could fall into the same solution, or something else.

Paladin and Ranger spell lists in the RSRD are almost perfect subsets of the Cleric and Druid lists respectively. They’ll probably be handled in much the same ways as the larger lists.

Bard spells might get folded into the arcane schools. They’ll need some adjustment on spell level (base it on the class level each becomes available rather than the current spell level).

Increased Spell Capacity

In the RSRD, wizards have at most four slots per spell level, but druids have five, clerics have five plus a domain spell slot, and sorcerers (who really aren’t being considered in this spellcasting system yet because I expect to do something else with them) get six.

While I don’t want to go that far, I think spellcasters should have some avenue to get more spell slots per level.

Spell Capacity

Each tier has a prerequisite of Caster Training at the same tier. It might be worth rephrasing to be a Caster Training Bonus equal to the lowest-level spell granted by the Spell Capacity tier.

Tier Benefit
Expert You get an additional first- and second-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.
Heroic You get an additional third- and fourth-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.
Master You get an additional fifth- and sixth-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.
Champion You get an additional seventh- and eighth-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.
Legendary You get an additional ninth- and tenth-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.

If this isn’t enough, we can add an Improved Spell Capacity feat, which adds another spell of each level.

Improved Spell Capacity

This talent has a prerequisite of Spell Capacity at the same tier.

Tier Benefit
Expert You get an additional first- and second-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.
Heroic You get an additional third- and fourth-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.
Master You get an additional fifth- and sixth-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.
Champion You get an additional seventh- and eighth-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.
Legendary You get an additional ninth- and tenth-level spell slot, as long as you can cast spells of that level.

Appendices

Base Spell Slots

The wizard spell slot table has been modified to allow 10th-level slots. Unless and until we have actual 10th-level spells these can be simply used to cast 9th-level spells. Depending how metamagic feats are implemented these slots could be used for high-level spells with metamagic feats applied. I also added a caster level 0 to allow for low-level characters with only Basic Caster Training. Given that only 1st-level casters in the RSRD (and presumably 0-level casters by these rules) have three cantrips available rather than four, I just gave everyone four cantrips (plus Intelligence modifier).

Level

0

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

0

4

1

4

1

2

4

2

3

4

2

1

4

4

3

2

5

4

3

2

1

6

4

3

3

2

7

4

4

3

2

1

8

4

4

3

3

2

9

4

4

4

3

2

1

10

4

4

4

3

3

2

11

4

4

4

4

3

2

1

12

4

4

4

4

3

3

2

13

4

4

4

4

4

3

2

1

14

4

4

4

4

4

3

3

2

15

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

2

1

16

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

3

2

17

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

2

1

18

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

3

2

19

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

2

1

20

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

4

3

3

2

Simple Spell List

I have done a quick review of the RSRD, looking for spells on both the wizard and cleric spell lists to be used as the simple spell list.

I found the list was pretty small, so I extended it to all spells that are on at least one divine base class spell list and at least one arcane base class spell list (in other words, ignoring domain spells and prestige classes). These spells are marked with one asterisk.

Also, for some reason fox’s cunning is not on the cleric list, but all five other ability score buffs are. I added it here, marked with two asterisks.

Looking at the list of spells I ended up with, perhaps a better label than ‘simple’ would be ‘common’

Level 0

  • All.
  • Change cure minor wounds to stabilize (stops a dying character from losing more hit points, though further damage will do damage normally and cause the character to be dying again).

Level 1

  • Alarm *
  • Cause fear
  • Comprehend languages
  • Detect undead
  • Endure elements
  • Jump
  • Magic weapon
  • Obscuring mist
  • Protection from chaos
  • Protection from evil
  • Protection from good
  • Protection from law
  • Remove fear *
  • Summon monster i

Level 2

  • Animal messenger *
  • Animal trance *
  • Bear’s endurance
  • Bull’s strength
  • Calm emotions *
  • Cat’s grace
  • Cure light wounds *
  • Darkness
  • Delay poison
  • Eagle’s splendour
  • Enthrall *
  • Flaming sphere *
  • Fog cloud *
  • Fox’s Cunning **
  • Gust of wind *
  • Owl’s wisdom
  • Resist energy
  • Shatter
  • Silence *
  • Sound burst *
  • Spider climb *
  • Summon monster ii
  • Summon swarm *
  • Undetectable alignment *

Level 3

  • Blindness/deafness
  • Continual flame
  • Cure moderate wounds *
  • Darkvision *
  • Daylight
  • Dispel magic
  • Gentle Repose
  • Hold person
  • Locate object
  • Magic circle against chaos
  • Magic circle against evil
  • Magic circle against good
  • Magic circle against law
  • Obscure object
  • Protection from energy
  • Sleet storm *
  • Speak with animals *
  • Summon monster iii
  • Water breathing
  • Wind wall

Level 4

  • Animate dead
  • Bestow curse
  • Contagion
  • Cure serious wounds *
  • Dimensional anchor
  • Fire trap *
  • Freedom of movement *
  • Ice storm *
  • Magic weapon, greater
  • Neutralize poison *
  • Nondetection *
  • Remove curse
  • Repel vermin
  • Speak with plants *
  • Stone shape
  • Summon monster iv
  • Tongues

Level 5

  • Animal growth *
  • Baleful polymorph *
  • Blight *
  • Break enchantment
  • Cure critical wounds *
  • Dismissal
  • Scrying
  • Sending
  • Stoneskin *
  • Summon monster v
  • Symbol of pain
  • Symbol of sleep
  • Transmute mud to rock *
  • Wall of fire
  • Wall of stone

Level 6

  • Animate objects *
  • Bear’s endurance, mass
  • Bull’s strength, mass
  • Cat’s grace, mass
  • Control water
  • Create undead
  • Cure light wounds, mass *
  • Dispel magic, greater
  • Eagle’s splendor, mass
  • Find the path *
  • Fox’s cunning, mass **
  • Geas/Quest
  • Heroes’ feast *
  • Move earth *
  • Owl’s wisdom, mass
  • Summon monster vi
  • Symbol of fear
  • Symbol of persuasion
  • Transmute rock to mud *
  • True seeing
  • Undeath to death

Level 7

  • Banishment
  • Control weather
  • Cure serious wounds, mass *
  • Ethereal Jaunt
  • Plane shift
  • Repulsion
  • Scrying, greater
  • Summon monster vii
  • Symbol of stunning
  • Symbol of weakness

Level 8

  • Antimagic field
  • Create greater undead
  • Dimensional lock
  • Discern location
  • Finger of death *
  • Reverse gravity *
  • Summon monster viii
  • Sunburst *
  • Symbol of death
  • Symbol of insanity

Level 9

  • Antipathy *
  • Astral projection
  • Energy drain
  • Etherealness
  • Foresight *
  • Gate
  • Refuge
  • Shapechange *
  • Soul bind
  • Summon monster ix
  • Sympathy *

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3 Comments to "Echelon Draft Spellcaster Talents"

  1. hadsil's Gravatar hadsil
    August 20, 2010 - 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Separating the schools is fine. It distinguishes spellcasters since not everyone should cast the same spells. Since a spellcaster doesn’t have to spend all his talents on schools, he can use some for other stuff. You can do a nice “gish” build with some spellcasting and some martial training.

    Combining the “complex” spells of wizard/cleric/druid into the schools is a major paradigm shift. I know this is supposed to be a classless system, but the feel of the spells are different between the classes. How does one learn Cure Light Wounds to cast it? Then you need to figure out the relationship between deities and their “clerics” getting spells. It’s fine to have such things be completely separate, but there may be unintended consequences.

    Do you still have that spreadsheet I emailed you where I separated all the cleric spells into Domains as per 2E spell spheres? If you keep arcane and divine spells separate and use those Domain spells lists, then for arcane talents you can separate by schools and have different talents separated by Domains such that a divine caster gets all spells of the Domains. Then, by choosing some starting spellcasting talent, part of the talent is to choose arcane or divine to reflect which path to take for further talents. Another talent could allow taking both paths with a little benefit of its own.

    Personal bias: 3E giving clerics Spontaneous Curing was a good idea. Healing is a necessary part of the game, but spontaneous healing allowed clerics to prepare and use other spells without sacrificing the healing when necessary. I’d want some talent to allow for it.

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