Wizard Guild Classes

I’ve been writing up about the Arcane Academy of Ter Liatri.  This is a big wizard guild in my campaign — Ter Liatri used to be the capital of the Empire before it collapsed, and the guild survived it.  More or less.

I have in mind a couple of prestige classes, but haven’t ironed out all the details. I’m going to skip over the guild structure and the like (it’s not really relevant here) and get to the high points of the classes.

Wizard

The base Wizard class is an acceptable member of the guild. He doesn’t take as much advantage of guild membership as a Guild Wizard does, perhaps, but has some more freedom over what he studies. Unlikely to have much political clout in the guild.

Guild Wizard

A member of the guild and trained as such. A ten-level class that looks the same as Wizard, with the following changes:

  • Learns three spells per level instead of two.
  • Gains a number of free metamagic levels per day equal to the class level. These may be assigned spontaneously (as a sorcerer — casting time gets longer, except for Quicken Spell and Fast Spell) or prepared (no extra time, must be decided when preparing). You have to be capable of casting the metamagicked spell and you must have the metamagic feat. A single spell must draw from either the bonus levels or from ‘normal levels’, not a mix (empowered fireball uses either two levels from the bonus levels or is cast as a fifth-level spell, never as a fourth-level spell using one bonus level).
  • Loses bonus wizard feats.

Prerequisites

  • Ability to prepare and cast third-level arcane spells
  • Two metamagic feats.
  • Two item creation feats.
  • Guild member in good standing (must be maintained in order to advance in this class).
  • Sponsored by a master Guild Wizard.

I haven’t decided on a meaningful skill prerequisite — 8 ranks of Spellcraft or Knowledge:Arcana is no big deal, Concentration doesn’t much fit my image of them. The spell casting prerequisite sets the minimum level, the feat prerequisite s make it a little stiffer. Note that I’ve removed the caster level prerequisite s on item creation feats, so these are a little easier to qualify for. A human wizard can do it after fifth level (four feats by fifth level).

Comments

This feels a little unbalanced — not bad, but not quite right. It feels like it needs to give something else up. Learning a single additional spell per level is about a feat’s worth of benefit, the free metamagic levels are pretty nice. Giving up levels of spell casting ability simply doesn’t make sense so I can’t use that.

‘Roleplay limitations’ aren’t appropriate either, both because I don’t think mechanical benefits should be ‘balanced’ by ‘roleplay requirements’ and because all members of the guild have to meet the roleplay requirements (guild dues are paid with service rather than coin, in amounts that vary by rank in the guild). I think the above is probably pretty close to right; I might be able to keep it just as is, or perhaps reduce the free metamagic levels to one per two class levels.

Guild Specialist

This is the result of a Wizard Specialization thread I started.

I’m ditching the ‘specialist wizard class’ for a ‘Guild Specialist’ prestige class. Again, this class looks like the base Wizard class, with the following changes:

  • Learns three spells at each level instead of two; two must be from the specialized school
  • Gains a bonus spell slot at each level equal to one less than the class level.
  • Loses bonus wizard feats

Prerequisites

  • Ability to prepare and cast third-level arcane spells of the specialized school
  • School Focus feat for the specialized school
  • (at least one more feat, related to the school being specialized. School Specialization is the default, but it’s a crap feat in some cases and others may be a better fit; use one)
  • Perhaps a skill prerequisite, but I haven’t come up with good examples yet
  • Guild member in good standing (must be maintained in order to advance in this class)
  • Sponsored by a master Guild Specialist

Comments

Again, this doesn’t feel quite balanced. The character gains quite a bit. The extra spell learned per level is nice, but not important; the bonus spells are quite good, especially since it can mean the character gets eighth- and ninth-level spells early (one and two levels early, respectively).

I don’t really want to back that latter ability off; I think it’s a good power to have and certainly encourages characters to specialize. I’ve considered some of the following options to pay for the benefits.

  • The specialist must choose barred schools, as RSRD specialists.
  • The specialist takes a -2 penalty to caster level for all non-specialized spells, except perhaps Universal and maybe Divination.
  • As immediately above, but the penalty is equal to one-half the class level — a Wiz5/Ill10 can cast 9th-level Illusions but is limited to fifth-level spells otherwise, and casts them as a tenth-level wizard (ouch).
  • At every even level the character chooses a new school; this school is added to the list of schools with reduced caster level (at second level he has one school at -1, and fourth he has two schools at -2, at eighth level is he has four schools at -4).
  • At every level he chooses two schools and reduces his caster level in those two schools by 1 (‘does not advance them’, if you prefer). A Wiz5/Specialist10 would have -20 worth of reduced caster level to spread around — he could cast in two schools at -10 each, in five schools at -4, etc. If he spreads them as much as possible, he might have six schools at -3 and one at -2.

I might go with ‘-2 to all’ (dead simple), but the last one appeals to me. A specialist can tank access to two schools if desired (comes close to RAW behavior) or spread the pain around a bit — it’s up to the character. It also means you don’t have a discontinuity where the specialist suddenly gets worse at almost all the spells he knows.

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