Iron Mage, arcane warrior base class, draft eight!


Homebrew and House Rules

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RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Posting to say I haven't completely vanished, just been very busy. Sorry about that.


I was wondering if the iron mage will have access to the wizard/sorcerer level 0 spells at all. the spells per day write up for paladin and ranger dont have level 0 spells mentioned.


robsin11 wrote:
I was wondering if the iron mage will have access to the wizard/sorcerer level 0 spells at all. the spells per day write up for paladin and ranger dont have level 0 spells mentioned.

I'm pretty sure he didn't intend to give them access to 0-level spells (I'm pretty sure he's just giving them a few spell-like abilities) but I'll let the OP answer that for you.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Okay, that time I did vanish. Just a little.

I need to get my hands on the APG, then finish this.

The class does not have 0-level spell slots, but has access to the entire wizard spell list and so can learn 0-level wizard spells. They can be prepared in 1st level slots, or used for item creation, or... well, that's about it.


keep us posted!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Work-in-progress changes... note the greatly simplified caster level mechanic! Also, capstone no longer built into 2nd-level powers. Cantrips by popular demand. ;)

Back to "select-a-perk" style abilities as they're popular with the Paizo folks for a good reason; stronger options and more variety this time, with several class features moved to there. Ideas for more focused study options are welcome.

1st: Arcane initiate, counter-threat, cantrips, school focus, witching 1
2nd: School power, warding 1
3rd: Focused study
4th: school spell
5th: Warding 2, witching 2
6th: Focused study
7th: School power, school spell
8th: Warding 3
9th: Focused study
10th: School spell, witching 3
11th: Greater warding, warding 4
12th: Focused study
13th: School power, school spell
14th: Warding 5
15th: Focused study, greater witching, witching 4
16th: Advanced wizardry, school spell
17th: Warding 6
18th: Focused study
19th: School power
20th: Greater wizardry, Warding 7, witching 5

Arcane Initiate: Though he pursues highly specialized techniques which slow his mastery of spellcasting, an iron mage studies the same craft as a wizard. He draws his spells from the sorcerer/wizard list and is considered to have full access to that list, granting him the ability to use spell completion and spell trigger items containing sorcerer/wizard spells of any level. He also qualifies for the Spell Mastery feat.

Cantrips: Iron mages can prepare one cantrip, or 0-level spell, each day. This spell is cast like any other spell, but is not expended when cast and may be used again. At 4th level an iron mage can prepare 2 0-level spells per day.

Counter-Threat: As part of the action used to cast a spell or activate a spell-like ability, the iron mage can designate one opponent he threatens in melee. The current action does not provoke attacks of opportunity from that opponent.

School Focus: Every iron mage selects a primary school of arcane magic which he studies more extensively than the others. His school of focus determines the effects of his witching and warding abilities, and grants several additional powers. He may choose Abjuration, Evocation, Necromancy or Transmutation. This choice is made at 1st level, and cannot be changed.

Witching (Su): An iron mage imbues his weapons with arcane power, granting a damage bonus and causing his attacks to count as magic for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction, as if using the Arcane Strike feat. The damage bonus granted by this ability is equal to his witching rank, initially 1 and increasing by 1 every 5 iron mage levels. He does not need to spend the swift action normally required by the Arcane Strike feat, instead gaining this benefit on every attack he makes. In addition, the iron mage's weapons are imbued with an effect determined by his school of focus. The witching effect is linked to carefully cultivated arcane patterns in the iron mage's own magical aura, and is ineffective when used against targets more than 30 feet away.

Warding (Su): A 2nd level iron mage learns to weave magic into potent defenses. As long as he is conscious, he gains the rank 1 warding benefit from his school of focus. At 5th level and every 3 levels thereafter, his warding rank improves by 1.

Focused Studies: Confronted with the necessity of maintaining two very different skill sets, an iron mage seeking to expand his abilities frequently focuses on a single, narrow goal, allowing him to more easily concentrate on the concepts and techniques involved. At every 3rd iron mage level, he gains a new benefit from these studies, selected from the list below. An iron mage cannot select an individual study more than once.
- Arcane Conversion: The iron mage can sacrifice a prepared spell of 1st level or higher as a swift action to increase his witching rank by an amount equal to the sacrificed spell's level for one round. An iron mage must be at least 6th level before selecting this study.
- Distant Witching: The iron mage's witching effects apply to attacks at any range, rather than being limited to targets within 30 feet.
- Familiar: The iron mage obtains a familiar. This ability functions like the wizard arcane bond ability, using the iron mage's class level as his effective wizard level. If the iron mage already has a familiar, his class level stacks with levels from any other class which grants a familiar to determine his effective wizard level. An iron mage may not select the bonded item benefit of the arcane bond ability, and cannot select this study if he already possesses a bonded item.
- Fully Fortified: The iron mage gains proficiency with heavy armor and tower shields. His spells ignore any arcane spell failure chance from worn armor or shields.
- Greater School Focus: The iron mage's class abilities and spells from his school of focus gain a +2 bonus to the DCs of any saving throws they generate. This ability does not stack with bonuses granted by the Spell Focus, Greater Spell Focus or Ability Focus feats.
- Handy Trick: The iron mage can activate his dampening field, forcecube, expedience or stifle ability as a swift action, and he can use that ability 2 additional times per day.
- Magewright: The iron mage gains Craft Magic Arms and Armor as a bonus feat. He also gains a +2 bonus to Spellcraft checks made while using this feat and a +2 bonus to Craft checks made to create masterwork armor and weapons.
- Martial Drill: The iron mage gains any one combat feat as a bonus feat. He must meet any prerequisites for that feat. His class levels now count as (and stack with) fighter levels for the purpose of meeting feat prerequisites.
- Persistent Witching: The iron mage's witching effect lingers on a stricken target, lasting 2 rounds instead of 1. Greater witching effects do not receive this benefit. An iron mage cannot select this study if his school of focus is Evocation.
- Remedial Wizardry: The iron mage gains Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat. He no longer suffers a -3 penalty to his caster level for spells from schools other than his school of focus and the Universal school. He may prepare one additional additional 0-level spell per day, and immediately learns a number of 0-level wizard spells equal to his Intelligence modifier.
- Weapon Attunement: By spending an uninterrupted hour practicing with a melee weapon with which he is proficient, the iron mage can attune his reflexes to its particular heft and balance. When wielding that weapon, he gains the benefit of the Eschew Materials feat when casting iron mage spells. He can use a hand holding that weapon to perform somatic components, and can substitute the weapon for any spell focus item costing 1gp or less. An iron mage can only attune himself to one weapon at a time.

Spells: Beginning at 4th level, an iron mage gains the ability to cast a small number of arcane spells which are drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. An iron mage must choose and prepare his 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 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.

Like other spellcasters, an iron mage can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on (see Table: Paladin). In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Intelligence score. When (see Table: Paladin) indicates that the iron mage gets 0 spells per day of a given spell level, he gains only the bonus spells he would be entitled to based on his Intelligence score for that spell level.

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

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

Spellbooks: An iron mage must study his spellbook each day to prepare his spells. He cannot prepare any spell not recorded in his spellbook. 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 his school of focus. At each new iron mage level, he gains one new spell of any spell level that he can cast (based on his new iron mage level) for his spellbook. At any time, an iron mage can also add spells found in other spellbooks to his own.

School spell: At 4th, 7th, 10th, 13th, 16th and 20th levels an iron mage learns an additional spell from his school of focus, which can be of any level that he can cast (including spells he can cast with advanced wizardry, if he has gained that ability).

Greater Warding (Su): A 11th level iron mage gains an additional benefit from his warding, as dictated by his school of focus. He may suppress or resume this effect as a free action.

Greater Witching (Su): At 15th level, if an iron mage uses the standard attack action, he performs a greater witching which causes additional effects depending on his school of focus.

Advanced wizardry: At 16th level, once per day an iron mage can treat one of his spell slots as one level higher. This allows him to prepare a 5th-level spell.

Greater wizardry: A 20th level iron mage treats all of his spell slots, except 0-level slots, as 1 level higher. He can still use his advanced wizardry ability, allowing him to prepare a 6th-level spell.

Schools
Abjuration
Your specialize in hindering the enemy's offense, whether physical or magical.
Witching: A creatures 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 caused by their spells or abilities. This penalty lasts for one round. Your weapons count as all alignments for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
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. The Will saving throw DC to overcome this protection is equal to 10 + 1/2 your iron mage level + your Intelligence modifier.
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 + 12.
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 10 against that energy type. At 11th level your dampening field grants resist energy 20. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
- Unfettered (Su): Once per day at 7th level, as a swift action, you can bestow the benefits of the freedom of movement spell to yourself or any creature within 30 feet for a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your iron mage level. You can use this ability twice per day upon reaching 14th level, and three times per day at 20th level.
- 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
Yours is the magic of raw energy and destruction, but also of controlled force.
Witching: Your weapons deal an extra 1d4 force damage per witching rank. Your weapons are considered to have the ghost touch enhancement.
Greater Witching: A wave of force follows your weapon, brutally impacting against any creature or object struck. You can make a free bull rush attempt against the target with a circumstance bonus equal to your witching rank. If your bull rush is successful the target flies away from you and falls prone. Unlike a normal bull rush, you cannot follow your target. The target moves the full distance indicated by your bull rush result unless an obstacle prevents it, in which case it falls in the nearest square adjacent to that obstacle, and both your target and the obstacle take 1d6 points of damage.
Warding: A floating disk of force grants you a shield bonus to AC equal to your warding rank. This force shield also blocks all damage from magic missiles.
Greater Warding: Whenever you are hit with a successful weapon attack the impact triggers a burst of force which streaks back to the attacker, dealing damage equal to your warding rank. Ranged attacks trigger this effect only if the attacker is within 30 feet. Any effect which prevents or absorbs damage from magic missiles also affects your greater warding.
School powers:
- Forcecube (Sp): At 2nd level, you can create a transparent but visibly shimmering cube of force measuring up to 5 feet on each side, occupying any empty space within 30 feet. The cube lasts for a number of rounds equal to 1 + your Intelligence modifier, and otherwise has the same properties as a resilient sphere. At 11th level you can increase any your forcecube'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 forcecube in an occupied space it fails to appear but still counts against your daily usage.
- Spell Channeling (Su): Once per day at 7th level, as a swift action, you can imbue a weapon you are wielding with any evocation spell you have prepared which does not have a costly material or focus component. The spell is expended as if cast. The next successful attack made with that weapon delivers the spell's effects to the creature struck, allowing no saving throw. You must still overcome any spell resistance the target may possess, but you can substitute your successful attack roll for the caster level check to do so. 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. If a successful attack is not made with the imbued weapon within a number of rounds equal to 1/2 your iron mage level, the imbued spell is lost. You can use this ability twice per day upon reaching 14th level, and three times per day at 20th level.
- 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 curses to confound your foes, and fortify your own body with negative energy.
Witching: A creature damaged by your attack suffers a penalty equal to your witching rank to AC, CMD and saving throws. This penalty takes effect immediately after your current turn ends, and lasts for one round. Your weapons count as piercing, slashing and bludgeoning for the purpose of overcoming damage reduction.
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 X/—, where X is your warding rank.
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 free 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 with DC equal to 10 + 1/2 your iron mage level + your Intelligence modifier, or become shaken for a number of rounds equal to your warding rank. Creatures already shaken by your aura become frightened instead. A successful save makes that creature immune to your frightful presence for 24 hours, though weaker creatures are still automatically shaken by your aura.
School powers:
- Stifle (Sp): At 2nd level, you can cause a creature within 30 feet to become fatigued for a number of rounds equal to 1 + your Intelligence bonus if it fails a Fortitude saving throw (DC = 10 + 1/2 your iron mage level + your Intelligence modifier). At 11th level a creature you stifle is exhausted for the duration if it fails its save, and fatigued otherwise. You can use this ability a number of times per day equal to 3 + your Intelligence modifier.
- False Flesh (Su): Once per day at 7th 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 can use this ability twice per day upon reaching 14th level, and three times per day at 20th level.
- 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
Your subtle art manipulates time and space, providing various tactical advantages.
Witching: A creature damaged by your attack suffers a penalty to all of its movement speeds equal to 10 feet per witching rank you possess. This penalty lasts for one round, and cannot reduce a creature's movement to less than 5 feet. You gain a bonus to attack rolls equal to your witching rank, and your weapons overcome any damage reduction which would be overcome by special materials such as cold iron, silver or adamantine.
Greater Witching: A creature damaged by your attack becomes slowed for one round (as the slow spell).
Warding: You gain an enhancement bonus to natural armor equal to your warding rank.
Greater Warding: Your natural reach increases by 5 feet and you cannot be flanked.
School powers:
- Expedience (Sp): At 2nd level, you can grant the effects of the expeditious retreat spell to yourself or another creature within 30 feet. 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): Once per day at 7th 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 1/2 your iron mage level. An unwilling creature is entitled to a Fortitude saving throw, DC = 10 + 1/2 your iron mage level + your Intelligence modifier. Except as noted above, this ability is equivalent to enlarge person or reduce person and does not stack with similar effects. You can use this ability twice per day upon reaching 14th level, and three times per day at 20th level.
- 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.


tejón wrote:

Work-in-progress changes... note the greatly simplified caster level mechanic! Also, capstone no longer built into 2nd-level powers. Cantrips by popular demand. ;)

Back to "select-a-perk" style abilities as they're popular with the Paizo folks for a good reason; stronger options and more variety this time, with several class features moved to there. Ideas for more focused study options are welcome.

I have mixed feelings regarding this new version.

In a way, I like the new fine-tunable, custom-friendly "select-a-perk" style of the focused studies. It is indeed an easy and efficient answer to everyone perks, but the class then looses some of its 'purity' or 'honesty'.

There was something very Tejon-like, for lack of better descriptor, that said 'this is my class, with its strengths and limits' which I liked a lot. I have similar feelings regarding cantrips (yeah I know, go ahead and slap me if you want!)

I'm not sure about Advanced and Greater Wizardry... Again, it moves the class away from its original intention of having the class based on the paladin.

All in all, this pulls your class more toward the iron MAGE while it used to be more of an IRON mage. Within the plethora of Dusk Blades, Eldritch Knight builds and home-made gish-magus classes all around, your Iron Mage was firmly occupying a formerly empty and interesting niche, which is still the case but no as much as it used to be.

Don't get me wrong, this still is a VERY interesting class, probably the only custom class I would ever consider playing (other than my own perhaps?), but I think I preferred the flavour of your your previous blend of spice.

'findel


If this gets to a final version, be sure to submit it to the Pathfinder Database

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Laurefindel wrote:
I have mixed feelings regarding this new version.

Would you mind terribly much expanding on your thoughts, perhaps on a point-by-point basis? In addition to the feedback, it could supply much-needed bumps to make sure the folks who were following it before notice I'm back in action. ;) I'll go first, because of course there's reasoning behind the changes which could also be good fodder for discussion. Also mine is definitely going to be longer.

One thing that I'm really trying to do is to make this a Pathfinder RPG class, not a D&D 3.5 class. There are new ideas and patterns, some shifts in design emphasis beyond the obvious mechanical differences. Admittedly the jury is still out on whether all of the new ideas are good ones, but several seem well-reasoned. Among those is the idea that every level give you something you want, so there's always a temptation to go another level instead of multiclassing; I think previous builds satisfied that. Also that a class needs to provide a reasonable set of flavor options for filling more narrow archetypes within its broader theme; the four schools do this just fine (it's twice as many options as a paladin or ranger gets).

But it was pointed out in an early iteration (I forget by whom, but the comment stuck with me) that the class falls short on a parallel goal apparent in the PF designs: for at least half of your class levels, you should be doing more than just nudging up numbers and copying a row of ability names from the class table to your character sheet. There should be choices available, and they should be interesting choices, and there should be far too many for any given character to actually get everything they might want. This idea doesn't exist to improve the experience of one player running one character; it's there to improve the experience of all the players, and the GM, by creating meaningful variety across the many dozens of representatives of a class they will all meet over the course of a few campaigns, alone and in groups. The inherent danger in trying to do this is that you'll wind up with a long list of filler powers with a few obvious winners that everyone always picks; I definitely ran into that on my last attempt (and didn't have nearly enough ideas anyway). But if the pitfalls can be avoided, the benefits are definitely worth the effort.

Full casters, even 6-level casters, can get away with dumping this responsibility on spells known and/or spells per day. But 4-level casters really can't. Rangers have favored enemies and terrains, and even their sub-archetype benefit allows them to select from a list of feats. Paladins have mercies, which is less than a ranger but still more than the iron mage posted at the top of this thread: I still maintain that Spell Fluency was much better than it looked, but it still was less interesting than a mercy, plus you only got five. That's why I'm taking another stab at it with Focused Study. I totally get what you're saying about the old version's straightforward honesty about its purpose and the limits thereof; strong focus is something I value too, and while too much of it kills replay value, I'd rather err on that side than make the class muddy and unfocused or succumb to power creep. So this is a tightrope act, and feedback on how much I might be leaning is greatly appreciated.

Advanced Wizardry evolved from Spell Fluency, which didn't cut it as a Focused Study option. The best way I could think of to upgrade it was to just give you a higher-level slot, with no mucky stipulations making it only good for metamagic, but then it looked too good -- who wouldn't take it? So I tried it out as a class feature, then I realized that it could be extended to a capstone, and that meant I didn't feel the need to build a capstone into the 2nd-level powers, which made them (especially Necromancy) much easier to sort out, and at that point it was 9am and I hadn't slept yet. So I figured, post it as-is and take a nap. ;) Yes, it definitely pushes the class toward mage. No iron is really lost, but perhaps the balance gets tipped... in which case it's dangerous power creep, because the iron mage already fit the appropriate power niche relative to its peers (slightly behind the fighter in raw damage, but with more options). So it probably won't survive the next edit. But I'm going to have to come up with another capstone, because I'm not going back to the old fake one. (And I like the 9th-level spell-likes where they are.)

Switching witching from rounds-per-day to always was actually a case of being more honest about what the class is and does. If a class is going to use that mechanic, it should have lots of other abilities linked to it as both bards and barbarians do... it's not a resource pool like ki, it represents literal time spent doing a specific thing. It just didn't work out right, here. Three rounds of witching to activate a class power was a big rubber mallet banging a wrong-shaped peg. And on top of it all, the only reason there was a rounds-per-day limit in the first place was because Evocation's damage was in exactly the right place, but a free unlimited +1d4+1 at 1st level is patently superior to the conditional +1d6 from sneak attack. I finally came to my senses and realized that's not an appropriate comparison: sneak attack is a booby prize for rogues in a corner, their specialty is entirely elsewhere. The comparison is much better against rage, smite, favored enemy: all of those are limited in some way, but undisputably better in effect than any 1st-level witching. Cavalier's challenge is worse after the daily limit and AC penalty, but he gets a pony. Fighters are used to starting slightly behind, and get their revenge soon enough. Unlimited witching is fair. (There was a moment where thought about I moving the DR-penetrating qualities up a few levels. On the fence there. Generally leaning toward keeping it as-is because necromancy's is custom-tailored for skeletons and zombies, and creatures susceptible to the others are rare until later anyway.)

Adding cantrips was a happy coincidence, not something I set out to do. Though modifying the spell-like ability rules to make them feel like real spells was the best fit before, I never liked it; and I also never liked that there were several appropriate 0-level spells which the class just didn't have room for, because you would wind up with more cantrips than a wizard. And then I realized that a -3 penalty on most schools, rather than +3 bonus to one, paradoxically caused a dramatic headache reduction. It's a break from the paladin and ranger model, but actually works thematically and is less mechanically odd than "no-really-spell-likes." With that change in place, I think cantrips fit fine now. (And "remedial wizardry" is an awesome ability name.) This also gives the class a functional spellbook from level one, adding veracity to the claim that they're studying wizardry the whole time.

Some more specific stuff...

I really like Counter-Threat. That started with me not wanting to just give Combat Casting away, even as a Focused Study. Turned into something unique and useful.

Witching effects have a 30-foot range. Bows are not only one of the game's best damage options, they're also the most efficient way to get your witching on multiple targets. Needed a nerf. Can be unrestricted with focused study.

2nd level powers aren't swift by default anymore, and are now spell-like. This is in response to various other changes.

7th level powers are now all swift (or immediate) to compensate somewhat. However, you don't get as many uses of them. (Compare False Flesh to a barbarian's hit points from rage, both in quantity and overall convenience...)

Dampening Field: I honestly wish I had some real playtest feedback on this. Thematically it's perfect, mechanically I'm just not sure. Should it be stationary once created? Should it be able to target an ally if mobile, or a location within 30' if stationary? Should it just extend to 30' around the caster? Or is it perfect as-is?

Evocation's greater witching no longer doubles damage; this was changed because of 6th-level spells and Arcane Conversion, and might be reverted.

Evocation's greater warding has a 30' range, down from 120'. Still uncertain on this, but 30' is a consistent standard for the class now.

Forcecube hopefully solves all the wall of force problems. Now you can walk on it but nobody can claim it beheads charging enemies. It's basically a summoned monster with no actions. :)

Spell Channeling is now quirky about spell resistance. Kind of cool, but I don't know if it really works (in the "makes sense, is fun" sense). I keep on wondering if it would be OK to allow any spell, not just evocation... the iron mage doesn't specialize in the same way or for the same reasons as a wizard, and generally doesn't have any spellcasting restrictions based on magic school.

Stifle might actually lose that saving throw, since fatigue isn't too bad, and spell resistance (not to mention restoration) is a meaningful nuisance by the time you've got exhaustion.

Expedience just needed to be simplified. The way it was going, spider climb and even fly were starting to look like dead spells. This version is solid and focused.

Yay, I think I'm done! Someone else's turn.


tejón wrote:
Would you mind terribly much expanding on your thoughts, perhaps on a point-by-point basis?

Sure, the night is young! I hope my tone wasn't offending...

tejón wrote:
One thing that I'm really trying to do is to make this a Pathfinder RPG class, not a D&D 3.5 class.

Fair enough, and with this in mind, the focused studies is the perfect tool to 'pathfinderize' the class. Personally, I find that 'talents' (I call them like that because these 'pick-a-feature' options remind me of the 3.5 rogue's talents) are the hardest things to balance. If some of the choices are too good, you - as a designer - get slapped for not making them simple class features and if they're not good enough, you get accused of wasting ink, as it has become apparent in barbarian discussions. As I said, I have mixed feelings about the whole concept, and you seem well aware of its challenges, but it is one of Pathfinder's game signature and including a set of talents - or focused studies - definitively set the Iron Mage as a PF class.

To be fair with you, the studies you showed so far appear to be good (mechanically speaking), thematically fitting and not game-breaking. Many seems to remedy to some of the I-M weaknesses, too easily perhaps. I'll explain in more details later. Overall, a keeper for v9.0

tejón wrote:
(about pick-a-feature options) ...full casters, even 6-level casters, can get away with dumping this responsibility on spells known and/or spells per day. But 4-level casters really can't. Rangers have favored enemies and terrains, and even their sub-archetype benefit allows them to select from a list of feats. Paladins have mercies, which is less than a ranger but still more than the iron mage posted at the top of this thread: I still maintain that Spell Fluency was much better than it looked, but it still was less interesting than a mercy, plus you only got five.

Spell Fluency was also one of my favorite feature, but its mechanic wasn't yet 'mature'. I wonder if your 'pick-a-feature' options shouldn't be about that: things you can do with your fluent spells...

tejón wrote:
Advanced Wizardry evolved from Spell Fluency, which didn't cut it as a Focused Study option. The best way I could think of to upgrade it was to just give you a higher-level slot, with no mucky stipulations making it only good for metamagic, but then it looked too good -- who wouldn't take it? So I tried it out as a class feature, then I realized that it could be extended to a capstone...

Ah, I see where your coming from now. I still have a conceptual issue with Advanced Wizardry, but perhaps I'm only being a prick... It makes me feel like the I-M tries to be something that it is not: a 6-level caster. Mechanically speaking, its not even game-breaking; its noting the I-M cannot do with scrolls anyway. Its a conceptual issue only. Also, it sets an ugly antecedent for other classes who'd kill for this ability. I'm perfectly aware that this is a non-issue since you are not the head-designer of a multinational editor/printer/distributor company (at least not to my knowledge, but I admit that I don't know you very well). Again perhaps I'm just being a party-pooper...

tejón wrote:
Switching witching from rounds-per-day to always was actually a case of being more honest about what the class is and does.

I'm glad to hear that; it makes the class significantly smoother to play. Powerful? In a way. Its a significant ability, as it should be. As far as I conceive the I-M, the class revolves around its witching and warding abilities more than on spells. Everything else is gravy and don't get me wrong, gravy's essential regardless of the quality of the meat, but the 'piece de resistance' is really its witching and warding.

[edit] what is it with me and food today? Iron-Mage... it doesn't even sound very chewable...

tejón wrote:
Adding cantrips was a happy coincidence, not something I set out to do. Though modifying the spell-like ability rules to make them feel like real spells was the best fit before, I never liked it; and I also never liked that there were several appropriate 0-level spells which the class just didn't have room for, because you would wind up with more cantrips than a wizard. And then I realized that a -3 penalty on most schools, rather than +3 bonus to one, paradoxically caused a dramatic headache reduction. It's a break from the paladin and ranger model, but actually works thematically and is less mechanically odd than "no-really-spell-likes." With that change in place, I think cantrips fit fine now. (And "remedial wizardry" is an awesome ability name.) This also gives the class a functional spellbook from level one, adding veracity to the claim that they're studying wizardry the whole time.

It DOES simplify the whole spellcasting thing A LOT. I'm not sure if I should miss the departure from the ranger/paladin or not. The part of me that really came to see the I-M as the arcane semi-caster thinks that the mechanics should remain as a ranger/paladin as much as possible, but this version simplifies a lot of things. I'm still undecided about the new approach to spellcasting.

tejón wrote:
Some more specific stuff...

Cantrips Turns out I liked the fixed selection. Rangers and paladins gets to burn 1st level spell slots for orisons... I liked the parallel, again in an overly sentimental kind of way.

Counter-Threat Like it too, but unsure if its fitting for 1st level. I'd say either level 2nd (when the I-M gets to use his spell-like ability) or 4th (when he gets to cast spells)

Focused Studies I think I like the concept over all. Some simply fix a problem that the I-M has (Remedial Wizardry comes to mind) which makes me wonder why the weakness was there in the first place. It seems likely that a player would either select the study or not care about the weakness, in which case it becomes a non-issue. Distant Witching and Handy Trick are similar that way.

Dampening Field Sounds as perfect as it will ever get. Although the abjuration focus extends the I-M powers to others more than any other foci, I'd still make the field emanating from the I-M and therefore move with him and protect in a range from him. 10 ft radius is fine IMO, I wouldn't go beyond (unless with a study, perhaps ?).

School Spells Unless I'm missing something, this ability is rather blend given that the I-M can add spells to his spellbook freely. It could be interesting to make them bonus spell slots similarly to how divine domains grant bonus spells. That could give the I-M some magical oomph without getting out of line or concept. In that case, I'd be inclined to give a fixed bonus spell list per school of focus. That would mean re-working the levels at which school spells are given to match spell progression.

Witching would limit the penalties to 'd20 scale'. By that I mean a d20 roll (like attack roll or saving throw) or something DC based on a d20 (like spell DC or AC). In other words, not on damage...

School of Focus Over all, like the changes. Never been sold on penalties to movement however...

Well, the night isn't so young anymore. Stay tuned for more tomorrow perhaps, but the essential is said.

'findel

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

A few quick responses, don't let them keep you from picking up where you left off...

Laurefindel wrote:
I hope my tone wasn't offending...

Not at all! I wanted to encourage additional feedback. :)

Counter-threat will definitely move to level 2 (even though it could be handy for a couple of cantrips). It's an (Ex) and should work even with non-IM spells/SLA's, so it shouldn't be available with a 1-level splash: Wiz5/IM1 would become the best possible Eldritch Knight!

Your concern about the nature of some Focused Study options is actually the goal of the design! The idea is, the iron mage cuts some corners while learning the basics because that's the only way he has the time for two equally-demanding disciplines plus the unique style that blends them. Later, he goes back for a cram session and picks up something he missed. The decision is partly about what you want, but also partly about what you can afford to skip.

School spells is bland. Hell, I didn't even mention it in my own rant above. :) It's there just to give the school focus a little more influence in your initial spell selection when you get a new level of spells. They mostly come at the class level where you gain 0-per-day of a new spell level; a high Int lets you cast them. They're also given out with Advanced and Greater Wizardry. (I forgot to put one in at level 20 on the class table, but it's in the ability description.)

Abjuration's witching is the only one which affects a non-d20 roll, and while it feels a little dirty to me too, there's a reason for it. Offense trumps defense in this game. If there are four gnolls and Evocation kills one with a burst of damage, or Transmutation keeps one from engaging, or Necromancy allows the rest of the party to dispatch one with relative ease, now there are only three gnolls able to damage the party. But if Abjuration hits one, there are still four gnolls and if the weakened one charges to a flank it's still gonna put the hurt on someone. It's simply an inferior tactic, so it needs something extra.

Transmutation's movement penalty gets top billing in the description, and you're right, it doesn't hold a candle to the other effects. But it doesn't have to. That little rider about a bonus to hit is as good or better for the transmuter's personal damage output than evocation's +1d4. Necromancy kind of gets the same thing, but not until a round after it's already hit the enemy; transmutation gets it on every swing. The speed penalty is really just gravy, but it also establishes transmutation's theme as a creator of subtle tactical advantages. Fact is, I've tried to come up with an alternative but can't think of any other unique school-appropriate effects.


thinking aloud here...

the I-M doesn't have a lot of spell slots, and the few spell slots he has are going to be low level. Therefore, metamagic feats are not a very valid option for the I-M.

Given its limited spellcasting options, the I-M is going to rely on its favorite spells over and over again. Not due to a lack of choice: the I-M has a (potentially) wide selection of spells thank to his spellbook mechanic. Obviously, some spells won't be as interesting because of the -3 spellcasting level thingy, but even that can be remedied (pun intended). But their few and low-level spell slots are too precious to waste on occasional spells: an I-M goes into battle armed with its 'signature spells'.

Conceptually, this logically leads to the specialization in those signature spells, which used to be addressed with the spell fluency feature and the more I think of it, the more I miss that feature.

I wouldn't mind if spell fluency was more basic, and thereafter made better with studies. Something along the line of:

Spell Fluency: An Iron-Mage practices certain spells until casting them is second nature. At xth level, he chooses one spell he knows. This spell is treated as one level higher for all purposes.He gains this benefit again at xth, xth and xth levels, choosing a different spell each time.

...and then add Focused Studies like...

Quicken Fluent Spell The I-M can spontaneously quicken (as the metamagic feat of the same name) one of his fluent spell he has prepared. This metamagic effect does not increase the level of the recipient spells in any ways.

Ok, so the wording is iffy, but you get the idea. Apply the same principle to other metamagic feats. So yes, the I-M could quicken a magic missile at level 6th (assuming that the first fluent spell still happens at level 6th), but unless he's an evoker, it's going to be a crappy magic missile anyway. By extension, I guess he could maximize a fireball at level 10, his single and highest spell slot. That's unlikely to happen because he wouldn't have acquire spell fluency for fireball yet. In other words, I don't think it would be overpowered, and it would emulate your intentions with the metamagic clause of the previous fluent spells.

If too powerful, the studiy could start with a text like "once per day, you can spontaneously..."

That brings me to my reticence against advance wizardry. It sounds too much like a cheat. Perhaps the I-M could be given the option of merging two 4th level slots into one 5th level slot. Even then, I'd be inclined to keep the I-M spellcasting to that of a paladin. What magnitude of spell-like abilities it has is another thing altogether. But as far as spells go, the I-M should be a semi-spellcaster, not a bard-wannabe.

'findel


More thoughts, particularly about the schools of focus. This may have been covered in previous discussion, I followed the I-M from draft 7 only.

Abjuration Witching The current effect is interpretable as a binding or pacifying effect. Yet, neither are analog to abjuration spells. The fluff text before the abjuration focus says “yours specialize in hindering the enemy’s offence” and the current abilities support that, but “hindering the enemy’s offence” is mostly a transmutation effect.

As far as I can see it, the staples of (offensive) abjuration spells are the banishment/dismissal series, dimensional anchor, imprisonment and the dispel/disjunction series, which affects mainly outsiders and by extension, summoned creatures. This would be a more circumstantial effect, but abjuration is a defensive school. The balance of this school focus might be tipped toward the warding ability(ies).

Abjuration Warding This one is dead on the spot. If the witching ability is nerfed to something more circumstantial, I’d throw a resistance bonus to saves vs magic in addition to deflection bonus to AC, and perhaps an immunity to possession akin to protection from evil. Together with the greater warding ability, this would emulate the holy/unholy aura type of spells, the ‘step-up’ series from the protection spells. Hell, throw in a sickening/slowing/blinding/confusing effect upon attackers at 20th level to cap it off.

The Dampening Field, Unfettered, Greater Dispel Magic and Prismatic Sphere are perfect the way they are.

Evocation Witching Basically a built-in magic missile effect. The ghost touch effect is a logical extension that simplifies the ‘only the force damage affects the creature’. Like it. The greater witching ability is thematically fitting and interesting. Definitively a keeper.

Evocation Warding Emulating the Shield spell. Quite fitting. My only issue, it doesn’t stack with the shield spell, which is better than the I-M ability until 11th level. A bit weak, but opposite to the abjurer, the evoker I-M might be more an ‘offence guy’ than a ‘defense guy’. Greater Witching; kind of a mini force-themed fire shield. It fit. I don’t like the range effect however; it makes the ability too ‘sentient’.

The Forcecube, Spell Channeling, Forceful Hand and Meteor Swarm are perfect the way they are.

Necromancy Witching Altogether pretty good across the school focus. Not much to say, other than I’m glad that there are no vampiric touch cheese. As a 3rd level spell, let the I-M cast it! On a side note, I’d ditch the frightful presence clause from the greater warding ability and let it shaken everyone up to your level without a saving throw. It’s a nightmare for DMs otherwise…

Transmutation Witching This one could go so many directions. The theme is about distortion of space and time which overall is well achieved. I’m still not sold on the penalty to movement. As a DM, I know it would annoy me greatly since it is going to affect every target on every attack. The bonus to attack is clearly an emulation of the magic weapon series of spell, which makes it muddy when the I-M already has a magical weapon. The material transmutation is cool, but not linked to the theme of warping space and time. This makes me wonder if the theme is really appropriate…

'findel

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

The problem with Abjuration is that really, the effects are all over the place. Sanctuary could be enchantment, alarm could be divination, hold portal could be transmutation, shield could be evocation, and that's just first level spells! So I don't think it matters that the abjuration effect could just as easily belong to transmutation. It's inherently protective, which seems to be enough qualification for the school from my reading of the spell list. Meanwhile, there aren't a lot of other options which can be nicely fit around witching's five-rank progression.

There have been arguments back and forth over the range on Evocation's greater warding. The current 30' range limit was picked because that's D&D's definition of point blank range. Point blank literally means that the projectile flies in a straight line -- you don't have to aim high. The same applies in reverse: there's no intelligent homing effect needed on that return burst, it can just go in a straight line.

I think it's perfectly fine that at early levels, you might still want to cast shield for a little extra during one fight. That's a valid tactical decision.

Raising the Necromancy fear aura to affect his full class level would be hell for the rest of the party. There's no exception clause, nor IMO should there be. For the active part, they can easily work out a routine where at sun-up he blasts out waves of fear until they all save, so they're immune during combat; once this routine is established it can mostly be ignored. That greater warding has gone through a lot of revisions as people pointed out different DM or player nightmares... the current mechanic is the cleanest compromise.

Transmutation has two very clear themes: bending space (and time), and changing material properties. I think both of them are well-represented and important to the iron mage. Note that the warding and greater warding are also material adjustments, not physical distortions. The speed reduction thing... yeah, it's an odd mechanic. But it's really cool from the player's perspective, and though it applies on every hit, it only lasts one round -- there's not that much bookkeeping involved. Frankly, my biggest concern with it is the way it scales. (Compare the Scorpion Style feat, which just bashes them down to 5 feet and lasts several rounds. And a monk, fighter, or any human can have it at 1st level.)

By the way, don't take my counterarguments as slapping down the subject. I know I take a fairly assertive tone; that's because I've put a lot of thought into this already. However, "Yes, but have you considered..." is welcome -- there's always the chance that I haven't!


tejón wrote:
The problem with Abjuration is that really, the effects are all over the place.

Actually, that could be said about most schools but abjuration and transmutation are the worst...

That's why I'd be inclined to suggest to stay away from spells and effect that are in the "gray zones", but I'm not sure if that's even possible. Sometimes as you said, this 'fit' although they are 'wrong'. Shield is after all an abjuration spell, but it fit the evoker I-M best.

As for the transmuter's witching, gaining the equivalent of a greater magic weapon effect that can change its property from silver to cold iron to adamatine at will is perhaps enough. You may not need the movement impairment clause, although its a nice evolution on the way to the slow effect of the greater witching... I wonder why I resist the movement penalty that much. I know that you had put a LOT of thoughts already and my goal is not to destroy what you have accomplished so far.

If there was one thing I'd urge you to change, it would be the School Spell feature since ultimately it only gives you a bunch of gp. I'd be equally upset if the feature was to gain a +1 sword.

I miss the spell fluency feature. It could afford to be weaker than in the previous iteration, since focused studies exist as a mean to make spell fluency better, if desired.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Laurefindel wrote:
If there was one thing I'd urge you to change, it would be the School Spell feature since ultimately it only gives you a bunch of gp.

Without that, you could easily see an abjuration iron mage who doesn't know any abjuration spells. That possibility doesn't technically hurt anything, but it seems a bit silly.

Shame there's nobody else commenting here... I'd like to hear a few more opinions on the half-draft! Would be nice for #10 to be final. :)


I think giving a half caster access to a 9th level spell is stepping on wizard toes

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Right, so I just now saw Preferred Spell in the APG. That's an idea I had early on and shot down without even sharing it because, come on, it's just crazy! But if you can have it with a feat... yeah, OK then...


I don't have the APG. What is preffered spell?

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Preferred Spell
You find it very easy to cast one particular spell.
Prerequisites: Spellcraft 5 ranks, Heighten Spell.
Benefit: Choose one spell which you have the ability to
cast. You can cast that spell spontaneously by sacrificing
a prepared spell or spell slot of equal or higher level. You
can apply any metamagic feats you possess to this spell
when you cast it. This increases the minimum level of the
prepared spell or spell slot you must sacrifice in order to
cast it but does not affect the casting time.
Special: You can gain this feat multiple times. Its
effects do not stack. Each time you take the feat, it applies
to a different spell.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

Okay... Advanced/Greater wizardry is gone. Scribe Scroll is rolled into Arcane Initiate -- I'm pretty sure it's the same process as scribing a spellbook. Arcane Conversion is back to being a universal class feature at 4th level. 7th level school power moved down to 6th. Focused studies still start at 3rd, but come every 4 levels after that, so you only get 5 total.

Fluency: At 5th level, and every 3 levels thereafter, the iron mage learns one spell by rote. He selects a spell which is already in his spellbook. From now on, he 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). He must select a different spell each time he gains this ability.

Improved counter-threat: An iron mage of 9th level or higher never provokes attacks of opportunities from foes he threatens when casting spells or using spell-like abilities.

Dire witching: A 20th level iron mage can forego multiple attacks to devastate an enemy. When he uses the attack action, in addition to performing a greater witching, his witching rank is doubled for that attack.

Arcane Conversion moved back out of studies, as mentioned. Persistent Witching removed completely. Craft bonus removed from Magewright. Scribe Scroll is baseline, so removed from Remedial Magecraft. Added:
- Metafluency: The iron mage gains any one metamagic feat as a bonus feat. He must meet any prerequisites for that feat. When applying metamagic to a spell which he has selected for his spell fluency class feature, that spell is no longer automatically hightened one level, but the final effective level of the spell is reduced by one (but not below its original level). If he uses spell fluency to cast a spell spontaneously, he does not gain this benefit but instead can apply metamagic to that spell without increasing its casting time.

I'd like to come up with one or two more studies, and there's currently a kind-of-empty level at 18th. All saves increase, an extra 4th level spell per day, extra uses per day of the 6th and 13th level school powers, but nothing on the class chart... to be honest it's pretty solid, just in boring ways. :) 9th level also looks a little light, but I'm probably underestimating improved counter-threat.


tejón wrote:
Fluency: At 5th level, and every 3 levels thereafter, the iron mage learns one spell by rote. He selects a spell which is already in his spellbook. From now on, he 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). He must select a different spell each time he gains this ability.

YES!

tejón wrote:


Improved counter-threat: An iron mage of 9th level or higher never provokes attacks of opportunities from foes he threatens when casting spells or using spell-like abilities.

YES!

tejón wrote:
Metafluency: The iron mage gains any one metamagic feat as a bonus feat. He must meet any prerequisites for that feat. When applying metamagic to a spell which he has selected for his spell fluency class feature, that spell is no longer automatically hightened one level, but the final effective level of the spell is reduced by one (but not below its original level). If he uses spell fluency to cast a spell spontaneously, he does not gain this benefit but instead can apply metamagic to that spell

Woohoo!

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 16

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