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Iron Mage: martial arcanist base class (long-overdue update!)


Homebrew

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Iron Mage

A fledgeling wizard picks up a sword and shield and finds that she likes the way they feel in her hands. A young warrior sees an arcane inscription and becomes fascinated by its complexity. Faced with such an experience, some might give up one art to master the other; others would make time to study both disciplines independently. A few are not content with those options. Instead they blend martial and arcane techniques together, creating a unique style which relies on both. These individuals are known as iron mages: toe-to-toe with an opponent, clad in armor and bearing arms, they wield an arsenal of arcane power.

Role: Iron mages do not fling spells from shy safety, protected by more stalwart guardians. They are the bold guardians, the front-line warriors, at home in the heart of a fray and quite capable of defending their allies.

Starting Gold: 5d6x10.
Starting Age: As wizard.

Alignment: Any.
Hit Dice / BAB: d10 / Full.
Good Saves: Fortitude, Will.

Class Skills: Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana) (Int), Knowledge (engineering) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Profession (Wis), Ride (Dex), Spellcraft (Int), Swim (Str).
Skill Ranks per Level: 2 + Int modifier.

-- Spell progression as Paladin/Ranger, plus cantrips as indicated below. --

1st: Bookish arcanist, cantrips (1), school focus, witching 1
2nd: Counter-threat, school power, warding 1
3rd: Curriculum
4th: Arcane conversion, cantrips (2), school spell
5th: Warding 2, witching 2
6th: Fluency
7th: Cantrips (3), curriculum
8th: School power, warding 3
9th: Fluency, improved counter-threat
10th: Witching 3
11th: Curriculum, warding 4
12th: Fluency, greater warding
13th: School power
14th: Warding 5
15th: Curriculum, fluency, witching 4
16th: Greater witching
17th: Warding 6
18th: Fluency
19th: Curriculum, school power
20th: Dire witching, warding 7, witching 5

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Iron mages are proficient with all simple and martial weapons and with light and medium armor and shields (except tower shields). An iron mage does not incur the normal arcane spell failure chance from wearing light or medium armor, or from wearing a shield. Like any other arcane spellcaster, an iron mage wearing heavy armor incurs a chance of spell failure if the spell in question has a somatic component. A multiclass iron mage still incurs the normal arcane spell failure chance for arcane spells received from other classes.

Bookish Arcanist: Though she pursues specialized techniques which slow her mastery of spellcasting, an iron mage studies magic in the same way as a wizard. She can use spell completion and spell trigger items containing sorcerer/wizard spells of any level, and qualifies for the Spell Mastery feat as if she were a wizard.

Cantrips: Iron mages can prepare a number of cantrips, or 0-level spells, each day, as noted on the class table. These spells are cast like any other spell, but they are not expended when cast and may be used again.

Focus School: Every iron mage selects one school of arcane magic as the primary focus of her studies. This choice is made at 1st level, and cannot be changed.

School Power (Sp): At 2nd, 8th, 13th and 19th levels, an iron mage gains an ability determined by her focus school. She may expend a use of the spell-like abilities gained at 13th and 19th level to recharge a staff, as if they were respectively 6th and 9th level spell slots.

Spells: An iron mage casts arcane spells drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. An iron mage must choose and prepare her spells in advance.

To learn, prepare or cast a spell, the iron mage must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell's level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against an iron mage's spell is 10 + the spell level + the iron mage's Intelligence modifier.

An iron mage can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. Her base daily spell allotment is given on the class table. In addition, she receives bonus spells per day if she has a high Intelligence score. When the class table indicates that the iron mage gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level, she gains only the bonus spells she would be entitled to based on her Intelligence score for that spell level.

An iron mage may know any number of spells. She must choose and prepare her spells ahead of time by getting 8 hours of sleep and spending 1 hour studying her spellbook. While studying, the iron mage decides which spells to prepare.

An iron mage's caster level is equal to her iron mage level. However, when casting spells or using spell completion or spell trigger items from schools other than the Universal school or her focus school, she suffers a -3 penalty to her caster level (minimum 1st level).

Spellbooks: An iron mage must study her spellbook each day to prepare her spells. She cannot prepare any spell not recorded in her spellbook, except for read magic, which all iron mages can prepare from memory. A character with levels in both iron mage and wizard can use a single spellbook; though the two classes' spells are distinct when prepared, they are recorded identically and need only be learned once.

An iron mage begins play with a spellbook containing the spells arcane mark, prestidigitation and read magic, plus one 0-level spell from her focus school. At each new iron mage level, she gains one new spell of any spell level that she can cast (based on her new iron mage level) for her spellbook. At any time, an iron mage can also add spells found in other spellbooks to her own.

Witching (Su): An iron mage imbues weapons she wields with arcane power as if using the Arcane Strike feat, granting a damage bonus and causing her attacks to count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. The damage bonus granted by this ability is equal to her witching rank, initially 1 and increasing by 1 for every 5 iron mage levels. She gains this benefit on every attack she makes, without needing to spend the swift action normally required to activate Arcane Strike. In addition, the iron mage's weapons are imbued with an effect determined by her focus school. Witching is ineffective against targets more than 30 feet from the iron mage.

Counter-Threat (Ex): Beginning at 2nd level, as part of the action used to cast a spell or activate a spell-like ability, an iron mage can designate one opponent she threatens in melee. The current action does not provoke attacks of opportunity from that opponent. This ability is not limited to spells and spell-like abilities gained from the iron mage class.

Warding (Su): A 2nd level iron mage learns to weave potent defenses into her magical aura. As long as she is conscious she gains a warding benefit determined by her focus school, initially at rank 1. Her warding rank improves by 1 at 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter.

Curriculum: At 3rd level, and every 4 levels thereafter, an iron mage masters a curriculum selected from the list below. Unless otherwise specified, an iron mage cannot select the same curriculum more than once.
- Arcane Companion: The iron mage gains Improved Familiar as a bonus feat and may obtain a familiar as with the wizard's arcane bond ability, adding her iron mage level to her effective wizard level. An iron mage cannot choose the bonded object option of arcane bond, and cannot select or benefit from this curriculum if she has a bonded object.
- Cram Session: The iron mage gains Spell Mastery as a bonus feat. She also gains fluency (see below) with one additional spell.
- Distant Witching: The iron mage's witching and greater witching effects apply to attacks at any range, rather than being limited to targets within 30 feet.
- Fundamentals: The iron mage gains two bonus feats which must be combat, item creation or metamagic feats, or Spell Mastery. She must meet any prerequisites for these feats.
- Greater Focus: The iron mage adds +2 to the DCs of all saving throws against spells and abilities from her focus school. This bonus does not stack with the Spell Focus, Greater Spell Focus or Ability Focus feats.
- Handy Trick: The iron mage can activate her dampening field, expedience, forcecube or stifle ability 2 additional times per day. She can also activate that ability as a swift action, but doing so reduces its duration by 1 round.
- Heavy Metal: The iron mage gains proficiency with heavy armor and tower shields. Her spells ignore any arcane spell failure chance from worn armor or shields. In addition, she can move at her normal speed while wearing medium armor. At 7th level, she can move at her normal speed while wearing heavy armor.
- Metafluency: The iron mage gains Heighten Spell and any one other metamagic feat as bonus feats. She must meet any prerequisites for the selected feat. When applying metamagic to a spell which she has selected for her fluency class feature, that spell is no longer automatically Hightened one level, but the final effective level of the spell is reduced by one (to a minimum of its original level). If she uses fluency to cast a spell spontaneously, she does not gain this benefit but instead can apply metamagic to that spell without increasing its casting time.
- Magewright: The iron mage gains Craft Magic Arms and Armor as a bonus feat. She may substitute a Craft or Profession skill for Spellcraft when creating magic items, and gains a +2 bonus to checks when she does so, as if using the Master Craftsman feat.
- Martial Drill: The iron mage gains any one combat feat as a bonus feat. She must meet any prerequisites for that feat. She now adds her Iron Mage level to her Fighter level to qualify for feats.
- Material Attunement: With an uninterrupted hour of meditation and practice, the iron mage can attune herself to a melee weapon with which she is proficient. When wielding that weapon she gains the benefit of the Eschew Materials feat when casting iron mage spells, and can substitute the weapon for any spell focus item costing 1gp or less. She can also use a hand holding that weapon to perform somatic components. An iron mage can only be attuned in this way with one weapon at a time.
- Remedial Wizardry: The iron mage gains Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat. She no longer suffers a -3 penalty to her caster level for spells from schools other than her focus school and the Universal school. She may prepare one additional additional 0-level spell per day, and immediately learns a number of 0-level wizard spells equal to her Intelligence modifier.
- Twin Style: When wielding a melee weapon with which she is proficient and keeping at least one hand free, the iron mage can use touch spells in tandem with physical attacks. She can cast and deliver a touch spell (or deliver the charge from a held touch spell) as part of a full attack action. This does not incur two-weapon fighting penalties. Spells with a casting time of more than 1 standard action cannot be cast in this way. Additionally, she can cast a swift action touch spell as an immediate action in place of an attack of opportunity.

Arcane Conversion: As a swift action, an iron mage can sacrifice one of her prepared spells of 1st level or higher to increase her witching rank by an amount equal to the sacrificed spell's level for one round.

School Spell: At 4th level, and every 3 levels thereafter, an iron mage learns an additional spell from her focus school, which can be of any level that she can cast.

Fluency: At 6th level, and every 3 levels thereafter, the iron mage learns one spell by rote. She selects a spell which is already in her spellbook. From now on, she can prepare that spell without referring to a spellbook, and can sacrifice a prepared spell of equal or greater level to cast it spontaneously. If prepared normally, the spell uses a slot of its normal level but is treated as Heightened by one level (or one additional level if it is already Heightened). If a 0-level spell is chosen for fluency, the iron mage can cast it spontaneously without sacrificing a prepared spell. The iron mage must select a different spell each time she gains this ability.

Improved Counter-Threat: An iron mage of 9th level or higher never provokes attacks of opportunity from foes she threatens when casting spells or using spell-like abilities.

Greater Warding (Su): A 12th level iron mage gains an additional benefit from her warding, determined by her focus school. She may suppress or resume this effect as a swift action.

Greater Witching (Su): At 16th level, if an iron mage uses the attack action to make a single attack, her witching grants an additional effect depending on her focus school. This effect does not apply to targets more than 30 feet away.

Dire witching: A 20th level iron mage can apply her greater witching effect to any weapon attack. When she uses the attack action, her witching rank is doubled for that attack.

Focus Schools
Each iron mage must choose from among the following schools. The DC to save against most school abilities is equal to 10 + 1/2 the iron mage's level + the iron mage's Intelligence modifier. The DC to save against the school powers gained at 13th and 19th level is determined as if they were 6th and 9th level spells, respectively.

Abjuration
You specialize in hindering your enemies' offense, whether physical or magical.
Witching: Your weapons count as all alignments for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. A creature damaged by your attack suffers a penalty equal to your witching rank to attack rolls, weapon damage rolls, CMB, and the DC of any saving throws against its spells and abilities. This penalty lasts for one round.
Greater Witching: A creature damaged by your attack finds itself pacified. For one round, it treats all other creatures as if they were protected by the sanctuary spell, using your school power save DC.
Warding: You gain a deflection bonus to AC equal to your warding rank.
Greater Warding: You gain spell resistance equal to your iron mage level + 10.
School powers:
- Dampening Field (Sp): At 2nd level, you can emanate an aura of protective magic which lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1 + your Intelligence bonus. Choose acid, cold, electricity, fire or sonic; all creatures and objects within 10 feet of you gain resist energy 15 against that energy type. At 11th level your dampening field extends to 20 feet, and grants resist energy 30. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
- Unfettered (Su): Twice per day at 8th level, as a swift action, you can bestow the benefits of freedom of movement to yourself or any creature within 30 feet for a number of rounds equal to your iron mage level. You gain an additional daily use of this ability at 11th, 14th, 17th and 20th levels.
- Greater Dispel Magic (Sp): You can use greater dispel magic as a spell-like ability once per day at 13th level and twice per day at 17th level.
- Prismatic Sphere (Sp): You can use prismatic sphere as a spell-like ability once per day at 19th level.

Evocation
You wield pure energies, both raw destructive elements and controlled fields of force.
Witching: Your weapons have the ghost touch enhancement, and deal 1d4 extra force damage per witching rank you possess.
Greater Witching: A phenomenal wave of force follows your weapon, buffeting any creature or object struck. The target flies up to 10 feet in a direction of your choice, is knocked prone, and is staggered for one round unless it succeeds on a Fortitude saving throw. Huge and Gargantuan targets can only be moved 5 feet by this ability, and Colossal targets are not moved (but still knocked prone and potentially staggered).
Warding: A floating disk of force grants you a shield bonus to AC equal to your warding rank.
Greater Warding: Whenever you are damaged by a physical attack, the impact triggers a burst of force which streaks back to the attacker, dealing 1d4+1 damage per warding rank you possess. Any effect which prevents or absorbs damage from magic missiles affects your greater warding.
School powers:
- Force Cube (Sp): At 2nd level, you can create a cube of force measuring up to 5 feet on each side, occupying any empty space within 30 feet. The cube is transparent, but shimmers visibly. It lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1 + your Intelligence bonus, and otherwise has the same properties as a resilient sphere. At 11th level you can increase your force cube's dimensions, up to 10 feet on each side. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier. If you attempt to create a force cube in an occupied space, it fails to appear but still counts against your daily uses.
- Spell Channeling (Su): Twice per day at 8th level, as a swift action, you can imbue a weapon you are wielding with an instantaneous evocation spell which you currently have prepared. Spells with costly material or focus components, or with a casting time greater than 1 standard action, cannot be used with this ability. The next successful attack made with the imbued weapon delivers the spell's effects to the creature struck. Spells delivered in this way do not allow Reflex saving throws, but other saving throws are made as normal and any spell resistance the target possesses must still be overcome. Regardless of the spell's normal targets or area of effect, only the creature or object struck is affected. If there is no meaningful way for the spell to affect the target, it is harmlessly discharged. You cannot imbue a weapon with more than one spell at a time. A weapon only remains charged as long as you wield it, and you can harmlessly discharge an imbued spell as a free action. If a successful attack is not made with the imbued weapon within a number of rounds equal to your iron mage level, the imbued spell is lost. You gain an additional daily use of this ability at 11th, 14th, 17th and 20th levels.
- Forceful Hand (Sp): You can use forceful hand as a spell-like ability once per day at 13th level and twice per day at 17th level.
- Meteor Swarm (Sp): You can use meteor swarm as a spell-like ability once per day at 19th level.

Necromancy
You weave dire magic to confound your foes, and fortify your body with negative energy.
Witching: Your weapons count as piercing, slashing and bludgeoning for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction. A creature damaged by your attack suffers a penalty equal to your witching rank to AC, CMD and saving throws. This penalty takes effect at the end of the current turn, and lasts for one round.
Greater Witching: A creature damaged by your attack suffers a severe curse of unluck for one round. Any time the creature makes an ability check, attack roll, saving throw, or skill check, it must roll twice and take the worse result.
Warding: You gain DR 1/— per warding rank you possess.
Greater Warding: You emanate an unnerving aura of necromantic energy. This aura causes creatures within 30 feet whose hit dice total no more than 1/2 your iron mage level to become shaken, with no save. As a swift action you can momentarily increase the intensity of this aura, giving yourself a frightful presence. When you do, all opponents within 30 feet must succeed on a Will saving throw or become shaken for a number of rounds equal to your warding rank. A successful save makes that creature immune to your frightful presence for 24 hours, though weak creatures are still shaken by your aura. Your frightful presence stacks with your aura, so a creature affected by both becomes frightened.
School powers:
- Stifle (Sp): At 2nd level, you can cause creatures in a 5-foot burst within 30 feet to become fatigued for a number of rounds equal to 1 + your Intelligence bonus if it fails a Fortitude saving throw. At 11th level the burst expands to 10 feet, and a creature you stifle is exhausted for the duration if it fails its save and fatigued even if it succeeds. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
- False Flesh (Su): Twice per day at 8th level, as an immediate action, you can gain temporary hit points equal to twice your iron mage level. This ability can be activated in time to absorb the damage from an incoming attack or spell. These temporary hit points vanish at the beginning of your next turn. You gain an additional daily use of this ability at 11th, 14th, 17th and 20th levels.
- Eyebite (Sp): You can use eyebite as a spell-like ability once per day at 13th level and twice per day at 17th level.
- Energy Drain (Sp): You can use energy drain as a spell-like ability once per day at 19th level.

Transmutation
You create combat advantages by manipulating time, space and substance.
Witching: Your weapons gain a bonus to attack rolls equal to your witching rank, and bypass any damage reduction which would be overcome by special materials such as cold iron, silver or adamantine. A creature damaged by your attack has all its modes of movement reduced by 5 feet + 5 feet per witching rank you possess, to a minimum of 5 feet, for one round.
Greater Witching: A creature damaged by your attack becomes slowed for one round.
Warding: You gain an enhancement bonus to natural armor equal to your warding rank.
Greater Warding: You have a 5% chance per Iron Mage level to ignore extra damage from critical hits and sneak attacks.
School powers:
- Expedience (Sp): At 2nd level, you can grant the effects expeditious retreat to yourself or another creature within 30 feet for a number of rounds equal to 1 + your Intelligence bonus. At 11th level, you instead grant the effects of haste. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
- Distortion (Su): Twice per day at 8th level, as a swift action, you can change the size of yourself or one creature within 30 feet of you, increasing or decreasing it by one size category. This effect lasts for a number of rounds equal to your iron mage level. An unwilling creature may resist this effect with a Fortitude saving throw. This ability is otherwise identical to enlarge person or reduce person. You gain an additional daily use of this ability at 11th, 14th, 17th and 20th levels.
- Disintegrate (Sp): You can use disintegrate as a spell-like ability once per day at 13th level and twice per day at 17th level.
- Etherealness (Sp): You can use etherealness as a spell-like ability once per day at 19th level.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

A bit over six years since I initially finalized this class. It's suffered a bit from ambient power creep, and had a couple of clunky bits to begin with, so I decided to give it another pass. Enjoy!

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