The arcanist was one of the more difficult classes to design in the Advanced Class Guide. When the idea first came together, it was based almost entirely upon mechanics. As an arcane caster that can prepare spells like a wizard, but cast them like a sorcerer, the idea was an interesting one, but when we presented it in the first round of the playtest the deficiency became clear. What is an arcanist?
As the playtest rolled on, this problem became more and more clear. The class had an interesting basic mechanic, but it needed a story hook and mechanics to support that idea. It was clear that we needed to go back to the drawing board. Looking at the wizard as the arcane caster that learns through study and the sorcerer who masters magic by drawing upon the power in his blood, the arcanist needed to fall somewhere between the two.
Ultimately, we decided on making the arcanist about tinkering with the underlying forces of arcane magic, using a combination of study and innate talent to break magic down and shape it to fit her needs. Combining that concept with an arcane reservoir, a pool of power that the arcanist can use to fuel exploits that break the rules of magic, the class really started to come together. In the second draft of the playtest, we knew we were on the right track. Most playtesters were concerned about power balance, but the overall consensus was that the changes we made gave the class a place in the game all its own.
While the final version of the class is very close to the second playtest version, the big changes came to the arcane exploits (like all of the exploits that dealt energy damage got a boost). These abilities are what make the arcanist unique and in the final version we added a large number of them to the class, giving you a wider variety of character types you can build with the class. Take a look!
Energy Shield (Su): The arcanist can protect herself from energy damage as a standard action by expending 1 point from her arcane reservoir. She must pick one energy type and gains resistance 10 against that energy type for 1 minute per arcanist level. This protection increases by 5 for every 5 levels the arcanist possesses (up to a maximum of 30 at 20th level).
Quick Study (Ex): The arcanist can prepare a spell in place of an existing spell by expending 1 point from her arcane reservoir. Using this ability is a full-round action that provokes an attack of opportunity. The arcanist must be able to reference her spellbook when using this ability. The spell prepared must be of the same level as the spell being replaced.
In addition, we added a number of greater exploits to the class as well, adding powerful tool to the high level arcanist.
Suffering Knowledge (Su): The arcanist can learn to cast a spell by suffering from its effects. When the arcanist fails a saving throw against a spell cast by an enemy, as an immediate action she can expend 1 point from her arcane reservoir to temporarily acquire the spell. She can cast the spell using her spell slots as if it was a spell she had prepared that day. The spell must be on the sorcerer/wizard spell list and must be of a level that she can cast. The ability to cast this spell remains for a number of rounds equal to the arcanist’s Charisma modifier (minimum 1).
Of course, the Advanced Class Guide also features a number of fun new archetypes to use with the arcanist. There is the blade adept, who gains a sentient sword and select a limited number of magus arcana instead of arcane exploits. You can also play a brown-fur transmuter, whose reservoir can be used to bolster the power of her transmutation spells. The eldritch font gains more spell slots, but can prepare fewer spells per day. An elemental master focuses her power on just one element, but to much greater effect. While there are a number of other archetypes for the arcanist, there is one more that needs to be called out. The white mage can expend points from her arcane reservoir to allow her to cast cure spells with her spell slots, but at higher levels she can even cast breath of life.
Well that about wraps up the preview for this week. Check back in next week for songs of bravery and rage!