Red Wizard prestige class conversion from FR (my players keep out!)


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Currently I'm running two active Pathfinder campaigns in the Forgotten Realms (plus some others on the back burner). At least one group of PCs is in danger of getting into a fight with some Red Wizards of Thay (plus assorted henchmen and minions) and I thought that I should take the time to do a proper conversion of the Red Wizard prestige class from 3.5 to the PF rules-set.

Therefore I would like to hear some constructive criticism of the following prestige class conversion. The assumption is that the reader is familiar with the original material, so no flavour text has been repeated. Part of the conversion was inspired by the Thassilonian specialist variant of magic (introduced in Inner Sea Magic).

The short version: although the Red Wizard prestige class does not get extra spells beyond the normal specialist bonus spells (unlike Thassilonian specialist wizards), it does end up with a boost in the power level of its own school's spells in return for gaining three prohibited schools (with the exception of a few low-level spells).

The obvious stuff: the HD are changed to d6, the saving throw values are adjusted to PF norms for prestige classes (only Will saves are good), and the skill pre-requisites are reduced by 3 ranks (so only Spellcraft 5 is now required).

Other pre-requisites which have been kept: must be able to cast L 3 arcane spells, must have any three meta-magic and/or item creation feats plus the Tattoo Focus feat (which can only be taken by a specialist wizard), must be non-good, and must be a human from Thay. The earliest possible entry level is at character level 6.

For those without the necessary references: the Tattoo Focus allows a specialist - when casting spells from his specialised school - to add +1 to the DCs of his spells' saving throws and gives a +1 bonus on caster level checks to overcome a creature’s spell resistance. It also allows a Red Wizard to participate in Thavian circle magic (as per 3.5 DMG or 3.0 FRCS). Only Red Wizards of L 7 or higher can inscribe the magical tattoos necessary.

Class skills: Bluff, Intimidate, Knowledge (all), and Spellcraft. The acquisition rate is 2+Int modifier. As the 3.5/PF conversion document points out, PF prestige classes usually don't give out lots of extra class skills. (Also, since PF has moved away from 3e's rather rigid skill system, it's no longer necessary either.)

Spells: since it was a full-caster arcane prestige class for a full-caster arcane base class, I've kept the same arcane spell-casting progression (10/10). There is no improvement in the base class' familiar/arcane bond, nor the acquisition/improvement of school powers, and Red Wizards don't get as many bonus feats as wizards do.

Now we get to what's supposed to be the heart of the class: becoming an ultra-specialised specialist wizard. (And please excuse any less-than-perfect formatting errors!)

    Red Wizard (PF conversion)

    Red Wizard L 1:

  • Specialist defence +1: this is a bonus to the wizard's own saving throws against his own school's spells (regardless of source). The bonus increases by +1 at higher levels.
  • Enhanced specialization: choose a third opposition school. All three schools move from being in opposition (where spell slots cost double) to being prohibited, meaning that the wizard can no longer learn any more spells from those three schools. He can still use those opposite (now prohibited) spells which he had already learned prior to first becoming a Red Wizard (casting them at the usual double spell slot cost), and he can still use them from magic items that are activated by spell completion or spell trigger.

    Red Wizard L 2:

  • Specialist spell power +1: this is a bonus to the wizard's caster level when casting school spells, and is used for determining level-dependent spell variables and for caster level checks (i.e., range, damage dice, spell penetration and similar checks). The bonus increases by +1 at higher levels.

    Red Wizard L 3:

  • Specialist defence +2.

    Red Wizard L 4:

  • Specialist spell power +2.

    Red Wizard L 5:

  • Bonus feat: must be a meta-magic/item creation/Spell Mastery feat.
  • Circle leader: allows the Red Wizard to lead 2-5 other Red Wizards in circle magic.

    Red Wizard L 6:

  • Specialist spell power +3.

    Red Wizard L 7:

  • Specialist defence +3.
  • Scribe Tattoo Focus: the wizard can now place magical tattoos (required for the Tattoo Focus feat) on a willing and qualified apprentice.

    Red Wizard L 8:

  • Specialist power +4.

    Red Wizard L 9:

  • Specialist defence +4.

    Red Wizard L 10:

  • Specialist spell power +5.
  • Great circle leader: allows the Red Wizard to lead 2-9 other Red Wizards in circle magic.

I'm not going to describe circle magic here, other than to say that it can be used to drain spell levels from low-level Red Wizards so as to boost the casting power of their higher-level mentors/masters. It's a daily process, and only lasts for 24 hours at a time.

So, is the converted version too powerful, too weak (unlikely, I think), or spot-on?


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What, no response at all? :)


Quote:
"Enhanced specialization: choose a third opposition school. All three schools move from being in opposition (where spell slots cost double) to being prohibited, meaning that the wizard can no longer learn any more spells from those three schools. He can still use those opposite (now prohibited) spells which he had already learned prior to first becoming a Red Wizard (casting them at the usual double spell slot cost), and he can still use them from magic items that are activated by spell completion or spell trigger"

I think the old spells from the new prohibited school should not cost double to prepare.


Just saw this thread...

Nice job. There are a couple things I've done in my version

* The 3rd school acts just like the other 2 (costs double to cast) - why invent a new mechanic?

* We decided that we wanted greater flexibility in the class so instead of defense & power it was an either/or. Meaning that ever other level you got a "+1" that you could add to either spell defense or spell power.

* The character got to keep (and increase) their existing school powers.


My personal take of Red Wizards in PF-using games:
I use Thassilonian Specialist to represent their dedication to single school of magic and Varisian Tattoo as a substitute of Tattoo Focus. I have yet to introduce any specific rules for group magic but it will be probably related to/based on Allied Spellcaster teamwork feat. I won't be remaking the Red Wizard as a prestige class as it's original design as stronger specialist wizard is not exactly in tune with Pathfinder idea that prestige classes shouldn't be better than core classes and instead should represent new options.


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Thank you all for the feedback! :)

Drejk:

Regarding the Thassilonian Specialist magic variant, there are three reasons as to why I didn't use that version.

Firstly, it's possible in my campaigns that FR characters can find themselves in Golarion - and vice versa - and so I wanted to keep the flavours distinct (extra spells vs. higher caster levels, etc.).

Secondly, I didn't want to track so many extra daily spell slots. (Yeah, I'm lazy.) Anyway, since the Red Wizards retain access to some of their low-level opposition spells, I'm not sure that they "deserve" the extra spell slots in the first place.

Thirdly, Thassilonian magic is something that infuses one's training from a character's very first wizard level, whereas the Thavian version is both a magical and a politcal status that has to be earned after several wizard levels of boring drudge-work while your master/mentor examines your behaviour, attitude, and abilities with a keen eye (ideally). So it's "an attitude-thing" among other factors.

And thank you for reminding me about the Allied Spellcaster teamwork feat! :)


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Nicos:

Regarding the opposition vs. prohibited schools: the third school spells already known could still cost single slots. However, I just wanted to simplify the bookeeping a bit for the opposition/prohibited schools, so as to avoid extra mental checks like the following: "First or second school, previously learned? Double slots. Third school, previously learned? Single slot."

But I still want some of the old-school vibe in there, which is why I went with the hitherto-not-learned opposition spells suddenly becoming prohibited. Besides, if a Red Wizard is desperate enough, he can always go the Use Magic Device route to use a spell trigger/completion item from a prohibited school. Hmmm, maybe the prestige class should get Use Magic Device as a class skill ...


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JohnBear:

You've got a point about the specialist powers - if one is ultra-specialising, then it makes no sense that the specialist powers suddenly stop improving. I think that I'll let the prestige class keep them.

Like I mentioned earlier, the prohibited school mechanic (including the third school) is there partly for its old-school vibe, partly for simplicity's sake.

I'm interested in your version's "spell power or spell defence" rate of improvement. Is is really only every second level, so that the most one can end with is spell power +5, spell defence +5, or some combination of the two? And do you start that at Red Wizard 1 or 2?


It really is every other level (starting at 2). And they really can combine it so you could have 5/0, 4/1, etc.

Here's a couple more ideas you could also use instead do spell power vs defense

1. There are a couple feats that let you lower spell resistance that you could give instead

2. There are weapon powers that will also lower spell resistance. Let them apply those effects to damage dealing spells

2a. Heck almost any weapon or armor power can be added to a spell

3. You could give spell mastery/signature spell for school spells so they can spontaneously convert. Think "spell mantles" or Magelords

4. No need for bonded object for school spells

5. Free improved counter spell/reactive counter spell for school spells

6. A morale or circumstance bonus for 1round equal to the level of school spell they cast or for a num of rounds = cha mod (maybe if they select this power twice) as a good hope or heroism spell

Put together a list of powers/feats (including +1spell power/defense) and let them choose one every level

Everyone who takes it will have a different mix of powers. It's almost like having archetypes for PRCs.

My group Loved it when I did that with the spellfire channeller.


So, did you finalize your Red Wizard Conversion? If so, please share.


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I did get some good ideas from this thread, but unfortunately I didn't get around to a final conversion because that particular campaign stalled* and we began Rise of the Runelords instead.

Spoiler:
When the PCs reached L 12+ they were walking over most of the opposition (particularly one over-powered build), and I realised that their 3.5 rolled stats were the equivalent of 36-point buy in PF. I told them that either the characters needed a hard re-boot/nerf process to bring them back in line with expected power levels (15-point buy), or that we could make a fresh start in a new campaign. The players voted for a new campaign.

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