Flavor of Magic (free class ability)


Combat & Magic

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I have been thinking about giving all spellcasters a free class feature: 'Arcane/Divine Flavour', which is essentially a modified version of the 'Spell thematics' (Metamagic Feat in FR). This Feat essentially lets you add some theme (flavour) to your arcane spells -- your version of the 'Shield' spell might manifest as green flames enveloping your body, or maybe your 'Greater Magic Weapon' makes your weapon glow golden (to give two quick and crude examples ;). You don't really benefit from this Feat in 3E -- Spellcraft check DCs to identify your spells (e.g. when an enemy tried to counterspell them) increase by +5, but that's hardly worth spending a Feat. Well, I have to admit that I *have* taken it a couple of times just add some unique flavour to my PC's spells.

Psionics also have different types of 'manifestations' that you can freely choose -- e.g. it might be a sensory or olfactory "flavour". And Ars Magica lets you choose a "sigil" for all your spells which is always unique (and therefore acts as a 'calling card' for your spells).

I have given almost all NPCs (and many PCs, too) of *all* the spellcasting classes the ability to flavour their spells however they wanted, but unlike 'Spell Thematics', my version has no mechanical effect at all. For example, isn't it kind of cool when that evil Druid casts 'Flame Blade' and a blade of poison-green blade appears? Or when the ancient elven cleric casts 'Flame Strike', a cascade of bright, burning stars sear his foes? Therefore, as it would be a "flavour-only" kind of ability, why couldn't all the spellcasters get this as a class ability in PF? Any thoughts?


Please don't post this twice, especially not in the same section of the boards. Thanks.


I've done this plenty of times...'

Post a thread, and then it doesn't appear for 10 minutes. Having this done to me before, I've copied and pasted and make a new thread...then the other thread finally decides to show up and I have to delete one of them.

Not exactly a big deal.

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David Jackson 60 wrote:

I've done this plenty of times...'

Post a thread, and then it doesn't appear for 10 minutes. Having this done to me before, I've copied and pasted and make a new thread...then the other thread finally decides to show up and I have to delete one of them.

Not exactly a big deal.

Yep -- that's exactly what happened. I deleted the other. Sorry for that. :)


I'd definately like to see this, especially since it was featured in an old "The Play's the Thing" in Dragon.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

It's a very cool idea that adds flavor to the game without an increase in power. If you think about it most power sources and abilities are the same bottom line. IT is the description about how it looks and works that makes it cool or dumb or whatever you think about it.

So, this is a cool idea. Now its just flavor so you do not even need it in the rules just add it to your game.


Phalazar wrote:

It's a very cool idea that adds flavor to the game without an increase in power. If you think about it most power sources and abilities are the same bottom line. IT is the description about how it looks and works that makes it cool or dumb or whatever you think about it.

So, this is a cool idea. Now its just flavor so you do not even need it in the rules just add it to your game.

no, but it'd be nice if it were in the rules, otherwise not many people(that I know of, at least) are going to do it.


I agree, there should be a big difference in the appearance of a fireball from a red dragon bloodline sorceror and a wizard (necromancer) who wanted to round out his offense. Mechanically? Nah, no need for anything.

In fact, I think the mechanics already justify the need for a "hard" mention of this type of thematic description and flavor.

Spellcraft checks are trained only, right? Therefore, the 20th level fighter, who has seen dozens if not hundreds of castings of various spells, some aimed at him, still can not recognize a spell as it is being cast unless he has actually trained himself in the various formulas and gestures that cause spells to function.

To me, that makes it seem that while a few "absolutes" might exist in the "components" of spellcasting (raised ring finger for fire, low pitch humming for touch spells, whatever), there are a lot of "variables" as well. Somatic, verbal, and even material (although material components irk me in some cases, but thats another thread) components that when paired together create different effects than on their own or when paired with others. Spellcraft is the ability to "do the math on the fly" and figure out what that gesture and that word, plus that gesture and that word, plus that last final gesture will actually be.

If all spells were cast EXACTLY the same, there would be no need for spellcraft, as anyone with a decent memory could recognize them. (They also could reproduce them, unless we have an extra "power" component that not everyone posesses, but thats also for another thread.)

So yeah, summary, I say Yay to thematic casting, with no extra mechanical systems needed.

Dark Archive

Prak_Anima wrote:
Phalazar wrote:

It's a very cool idea that adds flavor to the game without an increase in power. If you think about it most power sources and abilities are the same bottom line. IT is the description about how it looks and works that makes it cool or dumb or whatever you think about it.

So, this is a cool idea. Now its just flavor so you do not even need it in the rules just add it to your game.

no, but it'd be nice if it were in the rules, otherwise not many people(that I know of, at least) are going to do it.

I agree -- many DMs may be doubtful about it, and FR DMs may point out to players that there is a Feat (which, IMO, is mechanically pretty much useless) which gives them this ability, so it should not be a "freebie". However, if it is included in the rules -- even as an optional class feature -- most DMs may reconsider including it in their game. I think it would "spice up" both arcane and divine magic nicely.

Dark Archive

We've house ruled since way back in 1st or 2nd Ed that Magic Missile was a 'customizable' spell that was tailored by everyone in the process of learning it. One wizard might seem to throw snakes of emerald lightning that slither and hiss through the air, another might seem to summon tiny fey archers that fire arrows at his target.

Customization, so long as it has no mechanical effects, is very very cool. Every wizard, in the process of learning their spells, should be able to tweak some of the visual effects slightly. Every sorcerer should be able to impose some of their bloodline's unique traits into the magic they hurl. A dragon-blooded sorcerer might manifest glowing golden wings when she first casts her Fly spell (that fade within moments), or take on a scaly pattern to her skin when she casts Mage Armor. A Wee Jas-following Sueloise Wizard might cast a fireball that resembles a large laughing skull made out of fire, and hurl Magic Missiles that look like skull trailing fire behind them as they swerve towards their targets.


So, as long as it is description only, and has no mechanical impact whatsoever, what's the point of putting it into system mechanics?

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Kobajagrande wrote:
So, as long as it is description only, and has no mechanical impact whatsoever, what's the point of putting it into system mechanics?

For three reasons, mainly. First of all, some DMs won't give players any "freebies" -- especially if it's not in the "official" rules. Secondly, FR DMs may insist that the PC should take 'Spellcasting Thematics', which is a FR Feat that enables you to flavour your spells, but in a much more limited fashion. Thirdly, it really doesn't take up a lot of space in the book, but it would give you the option to "legally" make your magic (or that of NPCs) feel truly unique and thematic.


Dude, its just flavour. Its comparable to having a Fighter free class ability saying "You can wear armour of any color you'd like". Its just not worth putting it in.


If there is one thing gone missing form 2nd to 3rd Ed. it's flavour (and bad mechanics but only to some degree right? :D)

So I'm absof*ckinlutly in for that!

Dark Archive

Kobajagrande wrote:
Dude, its just flavour. Its comparable to having a Fighter free class ability saying "You can wear armour of any color you'd like". Its just not worth putting it in.

You and I may see this differently, and it's flavour-only ability, but ask a few DMs you know whether they'd give this option to a spellcaster in their campaigns -- I think surprisingly many would say that "Uh, it's not an official rule, so I'm not comfortable with that".


Adventure Path Charter Subscriber; Pathfinder Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Asgetrion wrote:
Kobajagrande wrote:
Dude, its just flavour. Its comparable to having a Fighter free class ability saying "You can wear armour of any color you'd like". Its just not worth putting it in.
You and I may see this differently, and it's flavour-only ability, but ask a few DMs you know whether they'd give this option to a spellcaster in their campaigns -- I think surprisingly many would say that "Uh, it's not an official rule, so I'm not comfortable with that".

That's where you tell the DM "It has no mechanical or game-play effect." Unless you go completely overboard on this to the point where it's misleading (i.e., make one spell description too different from the base version or too similar to another; the green flames for shield in the OP make it too similar to fire shield to be allowed and the magic missiles for the Wee Jas follower should be glowing ruby daggers instead of fiery skulls), most DMs I know will not have a problem with it. Usually, the only exceptions are the hard-core RAW tournament types.


This has also been in my campaigns for a long time. A wizard leaves an imprint on his magic and it shows in the implementation. Sorcerers especially have unique appearances to spells since they are self taught. Wizards MIGHT have spells similar to another (if they learned the spell from another wizard or a particular scroll), but nearly every spell will have some sort of wizardly fingerprint. One of my favorites was a wild mage in a campaign whose magic missiles appeared as disembodied hands that slapped the target.

Granted, not every player is interested in this form of customization but its been my experience that most players that enjoy playing spellcasters take pride in making their spells stand out.

Interesting comment about the spellcraft idea, i had not considered that and will likely implement that. Its good flavor and now i've got all sorts of ideas of how the fireball of a red dragon blooded sorcerer and a necromancers might differentiate.

Its things like this that makes me love the boards. Might be a tiny thing for some, but its often the "fluff" and flavor that makes a campaign memorable instead of "just another fantasy setting".

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