DMDM's Guide to the Spell Sage DRAFT Part 1


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The Spell Sage! One of the most interesting of all the wizard archetypes. It's challenging to play, but also incredibly rewarding, especially at higher levels.

This is a first draft of the first half of a Guide; I'll try to get the second half (covering some specific spells) up in the next day or two. Comments are extremely welcome! Once I've heard from y'all, I'll polish it up and submit it to Broken Zenith for the judgment of posterity.

What is a Spell Sage?:
A Spell Sage is a wizard archetype that gives up Bonded Item and specialization in a school. In return, you get the following powers:

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Focused Spells (Su)

At 1st level, once per day the spell sage's understanding of spells allows him to increase his caster level by 4 for a single spell cast. He can do this twice per day at 8th level, and three times per day at 16th level.

This ability replaces arcane bond.

So, in return for giving up arcane bond, you get the ability to occasionally cast a spell at +4 ECL. ECL affects a variety of different things, but mostly it's about spell duration, dice of damage on blasts, and spell penetration against spell resistance. Since "Focused Spells" is kinda clumsy, for purposes of discussion we will refer to this as your overclock power.

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Spell Study

(Su)At 2nd level, the sage's understanding of the spells of bards, clerics, and druids is so great that he can use his own magic in an inefficient, roundabout way to duplicate those classes' spells. Once per day, a spell sage can spontaneously cast any spell on the bard, cleric, or druid spell list as if it were a wizard spell he knew and had prepared. Casting the spell requires the spell sage to spend 1 full round per spell level of the desired spell (if the spell is on multiple spell lists indicated above, using the lowest level from among those lists) and requires expending two prepared spells of that spell level or higher; if the spell's casting time is normally 1 full round or longer, this is added to the spell sage's casting time. For example, if a spell sage wants to use spell study to cast cure light wounds (cleric spell level 1st), he must spend 2 full rounds casting and expend two prepared wizard spells of 1st level or higher.

At 6th level and every 5 levels thereafter, a spell sage can use this ability an additional time per day (to a maximum of four times per day at 16th level).

This ability replaces arcane school.

[Bard, cleric, druid: going forward we'll refer to these as BCD spells]. -- So this is a super interesting ability. It sort of makes the Spell Sage into the anti-sorceror. The sorceror has a limited list of spells, but in combat he can switch among them freely. The Spell Sage has the biggest list of spells in the game -- bigger than the Mystic Theurge -- but the doubled slot cost makes him conservative, and the increased casting time means he can't ever use them in combat. But he's an incredibly flexible tool for everything outside of combat, and sometimes for avoiding combat too. Some examples:

-- The entrance to the fey kingdom is between two gigantic oak trees, but the gateway won't open unless you speak the password phrase. The Spell Sage casts Speak With Plants and asks the oak trees what the pass phrase is.

-- The orcs have thrown you in a dungeon and taken all your stuff. The Spell Sage casts Animal Messenger to use a rat to go for help.

-- The biggest treasure in the dungeon is a statue that's worth several thousand gold pieces. Unfortunately, it weighs 800 lbs. The Spell Sage casts Ant Haul on the party fighter. (Note that Ant Haul is a bard spell *and* a wizard spell -- the Spell Sage gets access to it by the back door, as it were.)

-- Area of dense magical darkness ahead, darkvision doesn't work, and you're pretty sure the DM has put something nasty in there: cast Echolocation on the party tank and have him lead you through.

-- Someone got zapped with a curse, and the cleric doesn't have Remove Curse prepped. Exit the dungeon and wait for a day... or just have the Spell Sage cast it. Blindness, deafness, diseases, poison and ability drain, same-same.

You get the idea. Not only do you have access to a huge mass of utility spells, but you also can access all those weird, super-situational spells that nobody ever uses. No wizard is going to memorize Soothe Construct, but if you're trapped in a room with the berserk golem bashing down the door, suddenly you've got it. Need to solve a murder mystery, fast? You have access to Red Hand of the Killer. Dungeon turns out to be unexpectedly full of bugs? Repel Vermin.

TLDR: you're giving up arcane bond and arcane school. In return you're getting the ability to occasionally overclock your spells with ECL +4, along with limited access to all cleric, druid and bard spells. You're paying a heavy price, but what you're getting is... really interesting.

Why play a Spell Sage?:
Not going to lie: there may not be any archetype that starts off as weak as the Spell Sage. At first level, you are just amazingly feeble. Your classmate, the specialist wizard with a bound object, can cast four spells before he has to rest. You can cast two. He also has some nifty specialist power, like spamming an Acid Dart or whatever. You don't. You don't have a familiar to spy on things, grant you Alertness and some other bonus, and fight in a pinch. And you've probably put all your points into Int (see below), so there's a good chance you're a weak, clumsy nerd. Your life will not be easy. Indeed, it may well be short.

However.

However.

1) You are Old School. For some people, this is a feature, not a bug. Playing a low-level wizard with limited spells, no specialist powers and no familiar? That is Old School, my friends. That is about as close to a First Edition experience as you can get in this game. And while it's a challenge, it's not a pointless challenge, because

2) In the long run, you are amazing. The Spell Sage will eventually catch up and even surpass the other wizards. Roughly speaking, the Sage is painfully underpowered at levels 1-2 and still weak, but no longer grotesquely so, from levels 3-6. Then starting at level 7 or 8, he's roughly equal to other wizards... and then around level 13 or so, he starts to pull ahead. As we all know, the game gets somewhat Rocket Tag at high levels, so the ability to hit first and hit hard becomes steadily more important. Furthermore, the Sage gets access to ever more spells -- more spells than a Mystic Theurge, more spells any other class, archetype, or PrC. By the highest levels (17-20), the Spell Sage is firmly in the top tier: she's powerful, she's flexible, and she can do pretty much anything.

Putting (1) and (2) together means that:

(3) You are climbing the steepest possible power curve. If you play through a complete AP, you'll gradually progress from "pathetically feeble nerd" to "almost certainly the most powerful character in the party, wielding AWESOME ARCANE POWER with ALL THE SPELLS".

Okay, "low level challenge", "high level awesome", and "zero to hero, Xtreme version." Are there any other reasons to play this archetype? Yes, a couple, depending on what sort of player you are.

-- Play a Spell Sage if you love spells. This archetype gives you access to all those weird, super-specific edge-case spells that nobody ever uses. You want to give someone scurvy? There's a spell for that. Send a bunch of insects to crawl around inside the haunted house and see what's inside? There's a spell for that. Make a construct less likely to go berserk? Spell for that. Shipwrecked, need to build a sturdy raft from driftwood and detritus? Yup, spell for that. Want everyone to ignore you and your friends while you set up for a massive arcane ritual in the middle of the village square? "Aura of the Unremarkable", 3rd level bard. Want to create an oasis, with a freshwater spring in the middle? "Oasis", 5th level druid.

Of course, this only works if you, the player, are aware of these spells. So to get maximum benefit, you should be someone who grooves on spells, flips through splatbooks, and surfs the PFSRD. If that sounds like fun to you, play a Spell Sage. Contrariwise, if right now you're rolling your eyes, play something else entirely.

-- Play a Spell Sage if you enjoy the tension of strategically managing very limited assets. You know how, when you play a paladin, you spend a lot of time worrying about whether you should smite now, or later? This is like that only more so. You only get to overclock once/day until 8th level, and even then it's still just twice/day. You only get your spell replacement once/day until 7th level, and it eats two of your precious, precious slots. So you have to think really carefully about whether to push the button. Some people don't like that. Others think it's awesome. If you're in the second group, play a Spell Sage.

In metagame terms, consider playing a Spell Sage if:

-- You are playing an adventure with a lot of 15-minute adventuring days. The canonical example of this would be Kingmaker. I love the Kingmaker AP, but let's face it: in the first three modules more than half of the XP comes from one-shot encounters against a single creature or a small group. Again and again, once you're done with an encounter you can pitch camp, rest, heal, and study. The Spell Sage has a lot more breathing room, especially at lower levels, when the encounters are delivered in discrete chunks like this. Contrariwise, the Sage is weaker when facing long marathon resource-draining crawls without opportunities to study and rest.

-- You are playing an adventure where unusual and situational spells are useful. The Skull and Shackles AP, for example: there are lots and lots of spells dealing with sailing ships, adventuring on and under the sea, and so forth. Many of them could be pretty useful here. But are you really likely to take Unseen Crew or Track Ship or Conversing Wind as known spells when you level up? Hey presto, now it's not an issue.

-- Your party has no cleric, nor any good substitute. There's a huge difference between having limited access to clerical spells and having none. If your group consists of a fighter, a magus, a sorceror, and you, then they'll still have access to cures, the removal of blindness and curses, raising the dead, and all those other post-encounter back-office support services that a cleric normally provides. (Mind, the fact that they require double slots and take longer to cast means you can justifiably push back against the fighter who is whining for a cure just because he's down a few hp. So, this is a good character if you want to be able to help the party in a pinch, but you don't want to play a dedicated healbot.)

What does a Spell Sage do?:

1) You're a super flexible utility caster. As noted above, you're sort of the opposite of the sorceror. She spams just a few spells over and over. You have painfully fewer slots, but -- given time -- you can cast a spell to do pretty much anything.

2) Option: you can built a really strong blaster. No, not quite as strong as Brewster's Evoker or some of the more annoying sorceror builds. But strong enough: e.g., for a modest investment (two feats and some cheap alchemical reagents), at 6th level you can throw fireballs for 10d6+2 damage, rising to 13d6+2 at 7th.

3) Option: you make a pretty potent necromancer, especially if you go the dhampir route and end up with ECL +6 or +7 on necromancy spells.

4) Option: you have access to a lot of spells that are normally bard-only. Most of these are either enchantment / manipulation spells or sonic-themed. The greater casting time is an issue, but still, you can definitely build an enchanter and social manipulator.

Those are options you can build towards with feats and whatnot. Meanwhile, you get to be an information monster without even trying; you're arguably a better diviner than the divination specialist wizard without even breaking a sweat. And, oh yes, as noted above you can also be the backup healer/fixer, again without investing any effort in it.

The other thing a Spell Sage does is, you worry about your spell slots. You have fewer than any other wizard except the Universalist. At 7th level, with Int 20, you can prepare a total of 15 spells. Your specialist classmate has 19 plus his stupid school power. And hey, at this level you can use Spell Study twice/day, and that's super handy and all, but now you're down to just 11 spells left. Get used to frowning thoughtfully at your handful of spell slots, because that's a big part of playing this archetype.

Building a Spell Sage:

Stats -- As we all know, wizards are pretty SAD, "Single Attribute Dependent". And a spell sage is even SAD-er than an ordinary wizard. You need Int, Int, and more Int. Why? Because (1) you're starved for spell slots, so you need all the bonus spell slots you can get, and (2) nothing is more depressing than throwing your best overclocked blast and then watching the DM smirk as his creature makes its save. So you want to crank those spell DCs as high as possible.

This means that point builds are going to be super lopsided. Examples:

15 point build: Str 8 Con 12 Dex 12 Int 17 Wis 10 Cha 10 <-- racial bonus on Int

20 point build: Str 8 Con 10 Dex 13 Int 18 Wis 10 Cha 10 <-- yeah, we went there. racial bonus on Int, so you start with Int 20.

Races -- With one exception, only races with Int bumps need apply. That's elves, humans, half-elves, half-orcs, tieflings, peri-blooded aasimars, ratfolk, sylphs, samsarans, androids and lashunta. Of those, the best are elf (dex bump, free spell penetration), human (free feat), ratfolk (dex bump, small size, stealth) and tieflings or aasimars with useful SLAs (because at low levels, you'll be starved for spells, so having a good SLA is nice).

And then there's the dhampir. The dhampir shouldn't be on this list, because they don't get an Int bump, their Cha bump isn't very useful to you, and the loss of Con hurts. But (1) if your DM allows it, there are a couple of dhampir subraces that do get an Int boost, and (2) they're worth a second look because of their favored class bonus for wizards: +1/4 ECL for necromancy spells only. That stacks with your overclock, which means that by midlevels you can cast necromancy spells at +6 or +7 ECL. That's not game-breaking, but it opens up some interesting options -- raising a 20 HD giant zombie at 5th level, for instance, or throwing a 14d6 Boneshatter at 8th level, or possessing a Gargantuan object at 10th.

Skills -- Pick the usual mix of skills, but if you're starting at 1st level consider throwing a rank or two at skills that are useful to the party -- things like Heal and Appraise -- even if they're not class skills. (Everybody always ignores Heal, but it's actually pretty useful, especially at low levels with a healing kit.) Also, and I know this will sound weird, consider throwing an occasional rank at Stealth. Your Spell Study power takes time, so it happens between encounters. That means avoiding or evading encounters, yes? Against low-perception monsters, even a rank or two can help here. Otherwise, focus on the traditionals like UMD, Spellcraft and Knowledge Knowledge Knowledge. Your high Int makes you a natural Knowledge monkey! Embrace that.

A note on equipment -- You run out of spells fast, and you don't have school powers. So at low levels, your default is "cast two or three spells, then plink away with darts or a crossbow". That's not much fun, and also probably not all that helpful. So at low levels, invest in items that do stuff -- acid flasks, holy water, tanglefoot bags, thunderstones, etc. etc. Hey, it's an excuse to familiarize yourself with the ever-growing equipment list, and some of that stuff is actually pretty handy.

Speaking of which: go and read the PFSRD on alchemical reagents. There are a bunch of these, and several of them are a bit abusable. In particular, note the ones that increase damage from blasts (blackpowder and saltpeter) and the ones that increase ECL for one purpose or another (many, but not in particular urea, which can give you another die of damage on cold spells).

Traits, Feats and Magic Items:

TRAITS

Not actually a lot to say about traits. All the traits that are good are still good. If you're going to be a blaster, Magical Lineage (Fireball) is great from levels 5 through 15 or so. Since you're throwing everything at Int, the traits that let you use Int for Cha skills (Clever Wordplay, Student of Philosophy. Bruising Intellect) are worth a look, especially if the party doesn't have a face. Highlander gives you +1 on Stealth and Stealth is always a class skill, and yeah you're thinking "wait what I'm a wizard, sneaking is the rogue's job." But stealth actually makes more sense for you than for most wizards; see the discussion under Skills, above.

Guiding Spirit gives you one reroll per day, which is nice if you're hitting with a targeted blast or trying to overcome SR. Transmuter of Korada gives you double duration on Fox's Cunning, which you'll probably be casting regularly, and +1 ECL on transmutation or conjuration spells which should stack with your overclock. Shaper of Reality gives you +1 ECL on transmutation and conjuration spells (though only once/day). And Rich Parents is really solid at startup: you can scribe scrolls, and buy things that will let you do stuff.

FEATS AND DISCOVERIES

The list of feats is of course insanely long, but there aren't that many that directly affect you. I mean, you can take normal wizard feats and you'll be fine. This isn't one of those builds where you have to go crazy with feat chains. Still, here are a few that should be particularly interesting:

Spell Specialization + Intensified Spell. If you want to be a blaster, take these two. You can get by with just Intensified Spell, but Specialization stacks with your overclock, allowing you to bust out six! extra! dice! of damage on your blasts.

Example: Start with Spell Specialization (Burning Hands). Boom, 3d4 damage at 1st level, or once/day you can use Focused Spell to surge that to 5d4. That'll wipe out pretty much any nonboss opponent and also sweep the street clean of lower level mooks. Okay, that's good but not amazing. But at 3rd level, take Intensified Spell as your third level feat. Now your Burning Hands will do 5d4 normally, but you can throw a second level BH that surges to 9d4. Again, that'll kill or severely damage most nonbosses at this level. At 6th level, switch Spell Specialization to Fireball, and boom -- 8d6 fireballs, surging to 10d6. One more level and you can put an Intensified Fireball in a 4th level slot for 13d6 of damage; at 8th level that'll be 14d6, and you'll be able to do it twice per day. None of this is insanely great or game-breaking (it's once/day, there are a lot of things with fire resistance, you can't swap energy types like the evoker blaster) but it's pretty solid. This guy won't be as good a blaster as the classic Evoker with Admixture, but he'll be respectable and will have a lot of flexibility to make up for it.

Also, if you're going the blaster route, consider Creative Destruction as one of your Arcane Discoveries: free temporary hp every time you throw a blast.

Breadth of Knowledge Because it's thematic, and also because it will boost your already-high Knowledge skills into the stratosphere. Somewhat campaign-dependent because some GMs use the Knowledge mechanic more than others. (I use it a lot.) You have to be an elf or gnome.

Diabolical Negotiator: You can add your Intelligence modifier on Diplomacy checks in place of Cha, and you can shift a creature's attitude more than two steps with Diplomacy. That last is potentially quite powerful, as at high levels you could build a Diplomacy monkey with the power to turn hostile creatures (including called creatures!) friendly or helpful. Unfortunately it imposes a feat tax – you must have Skill Focus [Diplomacy] first. But note that if you have access to the second level Peaceful Parley spell -- which of course you do -- you can use Diplomacy to short-circuit combat.)

Fast Study: Give this discovery serious consideration. You have fewer slots and you empty them faster, so refilling them quickly is very nice. It doesn't recharge your overclock and Spell Study powers, but it does let you refill those slots ASAP, and that's no small thing.

Spell Penetration: Because nothing is more annoying than throwing an overclocked blast and having it bounce off the target's SR. Absolutely take this if you're a blaster but it's still good even if you're not. Note that your overclocked ECL does count against SR, so the feat gives you +6, or +8 if you're an elf. This is a good pick for your 7th or 9th level feat.

Varisian Tattoo: You're all about ECL. You want ECL high so you can boost it even higher. There are threads about different ways to boost ECL, so no need to go into that here. This is a nice quick simple way to get the ball rolling. Evocation and Necromancy are attractive choices for you.

ITEMS

Just a few, because there's no end to magic items. As a general rule, you will be particularly interested in things that boost your Int; things that boost your ECL; things that give you more spell slots; and things that give you more stuff to do. This isn't terribly different from the average wizard, really; it's just a question of emphasis. Again, there's a bunch of stuff that boosts ECL that I'm not addressing; if you're playing the game at this level you probably already know about voidfrost robes and that one prayer bead of karma, but if you don't it's all been discussed in the forums at some length.

Alchemical Reagents: Little known fact: casting abjuration spells with cold iron gives you +1 ECL, while ginger extract gives you +1 ECL on transmutation spells, and yes these should totally stack with your overclock. Both these reagents cost just 5 gp per spell cast. If you're blasting, there are a number of reagents that add dice to your blasts. Go, look.

Dweomer’s Essence (500 gp): At 500 gold per shot, this stuff isn’t cheap. But each dose gives you +5 on a single spell to overcome SR. Use it while you’re saving up money to get a Metamagic Rod of Piercing Spell, and then keep a dose or two around in case you run out of the rod and overclocks, or in case you meet something with crazy high SR, or for when you absolutely want to nail something with a spell.

Ioun Stone, Orange prism (30,000): Expensive, but it gives a flat +1 caster level to everything, including penetrating SR. If you’re high level and do a lot of blasting, well worth it.

Metamagic Rod [Piercing Spell] (3,000 for Lesser, 11,000 for standard, or 24,500 for Greater): Bite the bullet and spend the money. This plus the spell penetration feats = you can pretty much ignore SR. That’s huge.

Pearls of Power (prices vary): Slots slots slots. That's all. You need these. You are always starved for slots. Slots slots slots.

Comments and suggestions very welcome. Next up, Part 2 -- So Many Spells.

Doug M.


Okay, going to add one more feat of possible interest: Arcane Armor Training.

Yes, I see you flinch. You're a wizard. Heck, in your mind, you're the most wizardly possible wizard! And wizards don't wear armor! Okay, but you want to live long enough to achieve Ultimate Arcane Power, right? That means surviving levels 1-3 when you're weak and pathetic. And (1) your focus on Int means that, in a point buy, you probably haven't rocked Dex and Con, so you may be dangerously fragile; and (2) your limited slots mean that just casting Mage Armor isn't a great option for you. Arcane Armor training gives you +2 AC at low levels, increasing to +3 when you're 3rd level and can afford that mithril chain shirt or spider-silk bodysuit. If you're part of a large party full of meat shields, never mind, but if you're in a party of 4 or less that isn't melee intensive, give it serious thought. If the "wizard in armor" thing really bugs you, just retrain out in a few levels and then pretend it never happened.

Doug M.


And another one: False Focus. Lets you ignore up to 100 gp worth of material components. Useful if your GM is being picky about spell components. Also, if you're going the necromancy route? This will save you a lot of money, because you can raise zombies of up to 4 HD without paying anything for it.

Doug M.

Liberty's Edge

You know how I said your diabolist guides inspired me to play one?

I'll give you three guesses what the base class/archetype was!

I have to point out that Scribe Scroll is very interesting with this archetype.

You would create arcane variants of the divine spells, and because they aren't on your spell list, you need UMD to cast them.

Contingency also becomes a little more interesting - Death Ward, Breath of Life, Heal are all great options and that's just off the top of my head.

It's easy to forget that cantrips can be cast via spell study, and while it consumes the precious daily use, the double spell slot cost is irrelevant. Sometimes you really need that Create Water/Detect Fiendish Presence/Mending!

I will definitely agree that investing in a bunch of scrolls or something like a wand of magic missile is really not the worst plan. No archetype has made me appreciate all those low level junk scrolls like the Spell Sage. I didn't expect to get the mileage out of Cause Fear scrolls that I did.


The Dandy Lion wrote:
I'll give you three guesses what the base class/archetype was!

Hurray!

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I have to point out that Scribe Scroll is very interesting with this archetype. You would create arcane variants of the divine spells, and because they aren't on your spell list, you need UMD to cast them.

Yeah, I should probably add UMD to the list of skills.

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Contingency also becomes a little more interesting - Death Ward, Breath of Life, Heal are all great options and that's just off the top of my head.

Breath of Life seems the best for at least four levels. It's not quite a second life -- you can still be dropped into a volcano, or double-killed (dragon charges and kills you, BOL brings you back... right next to angry dragon) -- but it's a literal lifesaver.

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It's easy to forget that cantrips can be cast via spell study, and while it consumes the precious daily use, the double spell slot cost is irrelevant. Sometimes you really need that Create Water/Detect Fiendish Presence/Mending!

Aw yeah, definitely adding these three to the Guide. Detect Fiendish Presence is a really OP cantrip if there are ever fiends in your campaign, but nobody takes it unless they're playing Wrath of the Righteous or something, because it's so situational...

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I will definitely agree that investing in a bunch of scrolls or something like a wand of magic missile is really not the worst plan. No archetype has made me appreciate all those low level junk scrolls like the Spell Sage. I didn't expect to get the mileage out of Cause Fear scrolls that I did.

I'd be really interested to hear more about your experience!

Doug M.

Liberty's Edge

As the campaign he's in is Wrath of the Righteous, the experience is ever so slightly abnormal - some things remain the same, though.

The overclock is the most beautiful class feature. It turns a whole bunch of 'can't's into 'can's, with spells such as Dimension Door or Teleport, it pulls double-duty with Greater Magic Weapon (Extended, Focused Spell'd GMW the night before sleeping is going to leak into the next adventuring day!), and you've covered things like evocation and necromancy really well. The overclock is also really good for trying to guarantee a dispel, or for making sure that your spell isn't. My GM occasionally readies counterspells, and this ability lets me cackle as I overwhelm their minions' attempts.

Spell study gets really complicated with a few levels under your belt. Not because of options, no, no, but because you need to leave spell slots open for it. I'm a glutton for resource management but it gets weird when I genuinely consider prioritising a higher level just to ensure two slots are open at the lower level. In that way, it certainly does reward the wizard who leaves a few slots open to set later on, but that is also more difficult to do with this particular archetype.

I'm not convinced it's right to do that, but it's damned interesting. I really value extend spell with the archetype, because it lets you spread your resources out further, and does beautiful things you ever find yourself parched for healing (hello, extended path of glory!).

But, ideally, you don't want to be in that situation - even at level 11, with mythic power, I find myself looking for excuses for actions and jealously guard my spell slots, so it's truly essential to stock up on any consumables you can get hold of.


The Dandy Lion wrote:
The overclock is the most beautiful class feature. It turns a whole bunch of 'can't's into 'can's, with spells such as Dimension Door or Teleport, it pulls double-duty with Greater Magic Weapon (Extended, Focused Spell'd GMW the night before sleeping is going to leak into the next adventuring day!),

In the next section I discuss what I call End-of-Day spells, where you blow your unused dailies on stuff that could be useful. These fall in two categories: duration extensions using your overclock, and buffs and alarms using your Focused Spell. So, even at low levels, there's no harm in casting Alarm or Mage Armor before bedtime, or in using Commune with Birds to literally get the lay of the land.

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Spell study gets really complicated with a few levels under your belt. Not because of options, no, no, but because you need to leave spell slots open for it. I'm a glutton for resource management but it gets weird when I genuinely consider prioritising a higher level just to ensure two slots are open at the lower level. In that way, it certainly does reward the wizard who leaves a few slots open to set later on, but that is also more difficult to do with this particular archetype.

Yeah I really think Fast Study is pretty mission critical here. As to slots, there's the discovery that lets you swap one slot of level N for two slots of level N-2...?

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I'm not convinced it's right to do that, but it's damned interesting. I really value extend spell with the archetype, because it lets you spread your resources out further, and does beautiful things you ever find yourself parched for healing (hello, extended path of glory!).

Holy socks, I wasn't even aware of this spell. Path of Glory -> entire party heals your level in hp, more or less. Extended POG doubles that, so a 5th level wizard can give everyone 10 points, which is basically a Mass CLW. Extended *Greater* Path of Glory cures everyone 10 points / level, which is bonkers. A 10th level wizard can cure 100 points, and he can also extend the path so far that up to 79 other people get at least some curing. Wow.

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But, ideally, you don't want to be in that situation - even at level 11, with mythic power, I find myself looking for excuses for actions and jealously guard my spell slots, so it's truly essential to stock up on any consumables you can get hold of.

Yeah, I think "frowning thoughtfully at your small and dwindling list of spells" is really the defining experience of playing this archetype. Well, that and "cackling with glee when your overclock blows away one of the DM's encounters".

Any other thoughts?

Doug M.


Not entirely sure how RAW this is but I can't find a reason they shouldn't work

Mage's Lucubration and Echoing metamagic rod both seem to allow you to recast spells used via spell study. Mnemonic Enhancer is worded similarly but also allows for a psuedo split spell slots effect. If you can make scrolls from spells you cast with spell study, that also means you can learn spells also on the wizard list in campaigns where finding/buying spells is uncommon. Also spell study should apply to meeting perquisites that require the ability to cast specific IE: moonlight summons. Does Focused Spells CL increase affect the highest level of spell you can put into contingency?


Dastis wrote:

Not entirely sure how RAW this is but I can't find a reason they shouldn't work

Mage's Lucubration and Echoing metamagic rod both seem to allow you to recast spells used via spell study. Mnemonic Enhancer is worded similarly but also allows for a psuedo split spell slots effect. If you can make scrolls from spells you cast with spell study, that also means you can learn spells also on the wizard list in campaigns where finding/buying spells is uncommon. Also spell study should apply to meeting perquisites that require the ability to cast specific IE: moonlight summons. Does Focused Spells CL increase affect the highest level of spell you can put into contingency?

Mage's Lucubration should absolutely work. It says "any one spell that you have used". Heck, I could even see an argument that you could use it to retrieve a spell you cast with a wand or magic item, because you "used" it even if you didn't cast it out of a slot. But for sure it should work with Focused Study.

Echoing Spell is IMO a little trickier because it mentions "spell slot", singular. On the other hand, the +3 level penalty on this is pretty darn steep. You're basically gaining 2 slots of level N by giving up slot of level N+3. Upon consideration I'd probably allow it, but it's definitely a bit murky.

Moonlight Summons, absolutely. I don't think there are a lot of other feats that have requirements like this, but if there are, you meet them.

Contingency: yes it absolutely affects the highest level spells you can get. That's one reason Contingency + Breath of Life is so popular -- you can do it right away. People have done this. It's been discussed over on Rules; I don't think it was ever FAQed but there's a pretty clear consensus that it's legit.

Doug M.


I'm somewhat amused to see a guide on this through incidental forum browsing when I started playing a spell sage a month or two ago in a kingmaker-esque game. I've ended up going nearly full crafting mode since I can have the resources to do constructs (My free house is animated now, thank you very much), and scrolls/wands/staves are pretty useful with such a large collection of spells accessible.

Some things that I've found helpful from my experience so far:

Make scrolls! You get scribe scroll for free, so use it. It covers up your lack of spell slots. If you can spare it, use your overclock on it too. I had a boss fight as level 3ish where being able to slam down a bunch of CL7th magic missiles was pretty useful. You may find the Cypher Magic feat useful in this regard.

Max UMD! Kind of on the same note, with spell study you can make scrolls from other lists very easily. This has the advantage of making them combat viable (as far as casting time is concerned, anyway). Of course, you can't use them very easily without UMD, but at least since they're all "wizard" scrolls you just need to emulate caster level and not ability score.
Same kind of deal with wands and staves, and although these are much easier to just use, it's probably not a bad idea to aim for the +19 modifier to never fail.

Keep an eye out for early access spells such as heroism (Bard 2 vs Wizard 3) or animate dead (Cleric 3 vs Wizard 4); these are nice since scrolls and stuff are easier to activate when you can make them lower caster level. Plus you can get special discount consumables like this as well, since little else can make CL3 wands of heroism, for instance.
As an added bonus, you can rub it into your other party members' faces that you get their spells earlier than they do. (Getting animate dead a level before our necromancy obsessed oracle as a wizard was pretty funny)

Consider unusual cross-class spell combinations! Take glyph of warding for example. You could put confusion, charm monster, fear, fireball or poison in for an otherwise impossible combo.

Know your full spell list! It's already been said, but it's worth saying again.


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I meant use a rod of echoing spell to recast a spell study spell. Echoing spell rod is actually a really cost efficient alternative to pearls of power


Wolin wrote:
I'm somewhat amused to see a guide on this through incidental forum browsing when I started playing a spell sage a month or two ago in a kingmaker-esque game. I've ended up going nearly full crafting mode since I can have the resources to do constructs (My free house is animated now, thank you very much), and scrolls/wands/staves are pretty useful with such a large collection of spells accessible.

Are you crafting and constructing because you're a Spell Sage, or is that incidental?

Quote:
Make scrolls! You get scribe scroll for free, so use it. It covers up your lack of spell slots. If you can spare it, use your overclock on it too. I had a boss fight as level 3ish where being able to slam down a bunch of CL7th magic missiles was pretty useful. You may find the Cypher Magic feat useful in this regard.

Yeah scrolls scrolls scrolls, very good point. And I could have sworn I mentioned Cypher Magic, but apparently not.

Quote:
Max UMD! Kind of on the same note, with spell study you can make scrolls from other lists very easily. This has the advantage of making them combat viable (as far as casting time is concerned, anyway). Of course, you can't use them very easily without UMD, but at least since they're all "wizard" scrolls you just need to emulate caster level and not ability score.

Hmm. That's a reasonable interpretation, but I don't recall ever seeing a ruling on this. (There aren't actually a lot of rulings on Spell Sages.) I'm going to include a section on "blurry bits and rules interpretations" in the final version.

Quote:
Consider unusual cross-class spell combinations! Take glyph of warding for example. You could put confusion, charm monster, fear, fireball or poison in for an otherwise impossible combo.

That's a good one! Going in the Guide. Any others?

Doug M.


I think there are two great things about this to consider:

1. If you're experienced with another spellcasting class (druid, bard, or cleric) and want to try wizard for the first time, this lets you take advantage of your previous expertise, because you already know the spell lists and such of the previous class. Using past experiences to make your new character even better = great.

2. I think there are a few spells that would be really useful at low levels. Depending on the campaign you're in, Monkey Fish could actually be a great spell to either cast or have ready on a scroll (here, fighter: now you can climb up the wall with a rope and lift the rest of us up). Likewise, Glibness lets you turn into a master tier liar with a snap of your fingers. Etcetera. Utility, as has already been said, is amazing for this character.

3. But also, what about Brew Potion? Since you can cast spells from most lists, you could brew potions of Divine Favor for party fighters to use before they kick the door in, or Aspect of the Nightingale and Honeyed Tongue for your party's Diplomancer. Making all the potions your party needs during downtime could be incredible.

4. Also, besides magic missile, consider the merits of having a Wand of Sound Burst. The damage ain't much, but in some fights a good stun is the breadwinner. If you're crafting wands yourself, you can make it as a second level Bard spell because you're a Spell Sage.


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Dastis wrote:
I meant use a rod of echoing spell to recast a spell study spell. Echoing spell rod is actually a really cost efficient alternative to pearls of power

The lesser rod not so much, the other two sure. The rods' cost scales more slowly than the Pearls' do. So, for first level spells a 1000 gp pearl gives you one recast, while a 14,000 rod gives you three: advantage Pearl. But by 5th level, the Pearls are up to 25,000 gp/each while the rod is 54,000: advantage rod.

The rod is definitely worth investigating just for the benefit in terms of slots, because a Spell Sage is always starved for slots. But it's less clear to me whether it could be used to recast a Spell Study spell. As I said, I think it could, but it looks a little blurry.

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Wolin wrote:
I'm somewhat amused to see a guide on this through incidental forum browsing when I started playing a spell sage a month or two ago in a kingmaker-esque game. I've ended up going nearly full crafting mode since I can have the resources to do constructs (My free house is animated now, thank you very much), and scrolls/wands/staves are pretty useful with such a large collection of spells accessible.

Are you crafting and constructing because you're a Spell Sage, or is that incidental?

Mostly incidental, but I'd still say that wands or at least staves are a good call for valuable spell-slot saving. I'm a fan of staff-like wand which you might as well grab if you get craft staff, and then craft wand is there to make it more viable.

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Wolin wrote:
Consider unusual cross-class spell combinations! Take glyph of warding for example. You could put confusion, charm monster, fear, fireball or poison in for an otherwise impossible combo.

That's a good one! Going in the Guide. Any others?

Greater glyph of warding is basically the same deal.

Blood Money earns its keep even more than usual since you can get free restorations/reincarnates/&c.. Thanks to overclock you will basically always be able to remove your own negative levels with restoration, too.

Contingency's an obvious one, and worth dropping both of your overclocks on it. Keeping it ready for a triggered Brilliant Inspiration would be one of my favoured uses beyond the more obvious Heal.

Spellstaff is such a good time and slot saver to the extent it's basically obligatory.

Visions of Lamashtu has several interesting new options available, such as teleporting the target to you, Feeblemind and Life of Crime.

Overwhelming Presence, Irresistible Dance, Euphoric Tranquility, Fool's Forbiddance and Waves of Ecstasy are particularly nasty 6th level bard spells that you have substantially earlier access to (and can also put in Greater Glyph of Warding/Contingency), with Song of Discord and Archon's Trumpet being notable 5th level spells of the same type. Brilliant Inspiration and Impenetrable Veil are of the same ilk although less offensive.


Shorticus wrote:
3. But also, what about Brew Potion? Since you can cast spells from most lists, you could brew potions of Divine Favor for party fighters to use before they kick the door in, or Aspect of the Nightingale and Honeyed Tongue for your party's Diplomancer. Making all the potions your party needs during downtime could be incredible.

Nit: Divine Favor is personal, so no potion.

cevah


14000 for 3 lv3 spells or 9000*3 for 3 lv3 pearls of power. 54000gp for 3 lv6 spells vs 36000*3 for 3 lv6 pearls of power. Definitely worth so long as you use them for your high level slots


Ring of Spell Storing can help you share the glory of four classes of spell list. Do look at the Nethysian version, if available.


Thornborn wrote:
Ring of Spell Storing can help you share the glory of four classes of spell list. Do look at the Nethysian version, if available.

Standard RoSS: "The activation time for the ring is the same as the casting time for the relevant spell, with a minimum of 1 standard action." So, you'd probably want to use this to store 5 levels of your wizard spells. Is this a better deal than the Pearl of Power (25,000 for one 5th level spell) or a Rod of Echoing Spell?

Yes, the Nethysian version is definitely interesting.

Doug M.


-- And, holy socks, I just stumbled across the Ring of Wizardry. Double your spell slots for one level? This is a must-have. The price is steep, but you really need the flexibility.

Doug M.


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Ring of Wizardry
Doubles spell slots of that level. MAX bonus slots:4
Lv1 20000 vs 4000 for 4 pearls of power
Lv2 40000 vs 16000 for 4 pearls of power
lv3 70000 vs 36000 for 4 pearls of power
LV4 100000 vs 64000 for 4 pearls of power

Pros
No actions spent
More variation of spells prepared

Cons
Price
Ring slot

Ring of Spell Storing
You can split the spell levels around. For price comparisons I will use the most expensive possible pearls of power for equal levels of spells
18000 for 3 levels of spells. VS 9000 1 Lv3 pearl of power
50000 for 5 levels of spells vs 25000 1 lv5 pearl of power
100000 for 10 levels of spells vs 82000 for 1 lv9 and 1 lv1 pearls of power

Pros
Varied levels for spells

Cons
Price
Lower CL
Ring Slot
Must decide spell and spend spell slots in advance

The Nethysian ring has a lot of potential though due to the spell level reduction

Do note that while more cost efficient than pearls of power, echoing rods are not the most efficient for ALL spell levels(1,4,7) and cannot be used with other metamagic rod


Dastis, good analysis -- thanks!

The reason I jumped up in excitement over the Ring of Wizardry: getting more spell slots expands your ability to trade slots 2-for-1 for BCD spells. And there are a lot of low level utility BCD spells that stay valuable far into high levels.

Doug M.


Oh hey, was just reminded of the existence of the spell Nap Stack. This 3rd level spell lets you regain all your spells "and special abilities" in 2 hours instead of 8. Sadly, it's only usable once per week (it'd be pretty OP otherwise).

This is either a good spell for Spell Sages, or a great one, depending on whether "special abilities" includes Focused Spells and Spell Study. I'd rule that it does, myself -- hey, once per week isn't going to unbalance the campaign -- but yeah, it's kinda vague.

Doug M.

Scarab Sages

Cracked Vibrant Purple Prism Ioun Stones could also be useful. 2,000gp each and let you store 1 spell level. Store some useful out of class spells in them during your downtime. The full version (3 spell levels) is twice as much as the ring of spell storing, since it's slotless.

Dark Archive

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Hi Doug - great idea thanks so much! I've had so much fun reading through all the tips and tricks as I prepare my own Spell Sage for a mid-level campaign.

Two little Spell combos to consider for your next section:

Contingency + Reincarnate gives you a relatively easy and early path to immortality - not super useful in most campaigns but compelling from a role-playing perspective.

More practically, Spellcasting Contract and its big brother from the Cleric spell list are very interesting options to 1) make your Fighter love you, 2) increase efficiency in combat, 3) pull off some great round one spell combos, 4) increase your own survivability via profane bonus to saving throws, AC, checks.

I really like gifting Mirror Image and Enlarge Person to the Fighter, Shocking Grasp and Invisibility to the Rogue, etc.

Liberty's Edge

Mortimore wrote:

Hi Doug - great idea thanks so much! I've had so much fun reading through all the tips and tricks as I prepare my own Spell Sage for a mid-level campaign.

Two little Spell combos to consider for your next section:

Contingency + Reincarnate gives you a relatively easy and early path to immortality - not super useful in most campaigns but compelling from a role-playing perspective.

More practically, Spellcasting Contract and its big brother from the Cleric spell list are very interesting options to 1) make your Fighter love you, 2) increase efficiency in combat, 3) pull off some great round one spell combos, 4) increase your own survivability via profane bonus to saving throws, AC, checks.

I really like gifting Mirror Image and Enlarge Person to the Fighter, Shocking Grasp and Invisibility to the Rogue, etc.

Holy cow, this is just what I needed to see!

Now to see if I can convince the Paladin to come to an agreement...


Mortimore wrote:
Hi Doug - great idea thanks so much! I've had so much fun reading through all the tips and tricks as I prepare my own Spell Sage for a mid-level campaign.

You're very welcome! Sometime in the next few weeks I hope to start on the list of useful spells. There are so many...

Quote:
Contingency + Reincarnate gives you a relatively easy and early path to immortality - not super useful in most campaigns but compelling from a role-playing perspective.

Contingency + Breath of Life is also very nice. It's not 100% certain -- if you fall into a volcano or are swallowed by a purple worm, it's just going to give you another round or two of life -- but it's pretty good.

Quote:
More practically, Spellcasting Contract and its big brother from the Cleric spell list are very interesting options to 1) make your Fighter love you, 2) increase efficiency in combat, 3) pull off some great round one spell combos, 4) increase your own survivability via profane bonus to saving throws, AC, checks.

Hecky yeah, Spell Contract is amazing. Does it require you to worship some particular deity? (I don't recall, and PFSRD doesn't agree with Nethys on this point.)

Doug M.


Spellcasting Contract (and its bigger brothers) is an (Asmodeus) spell. It's debatable whether it requires deity worship, given that there is a passage from Inner Sea Gods that... implies that even though a spell is associated with a deity, it doesn't have to be limited to that deity.

Inner Sea Gods, p. 228 wrote:
Many of the spells in this chapter originated with the faithful of a particular deity and are more common among the worshipers of that god. Such spells are denoted with the god’s name in parentheses after the spell’s name. Worshipers of a spell’s associated deity always treat the spell as common, and need not research it in order to prepare or learn it. Despite this, all the spells in this chapter are available to members of other faiths, though some temples or religious organizations may proscribe the use of specific spells. Additionally, arcane spellcasters have unlocked the secrets of casting particular spells.

That said, this quote only applies specifically to the spells in that section, so using it as anything other than a point of reference might not work, given how explicit PF tends to be with these things and not wanting extrapolation off what otherwise might be thought of as self-explanatory.

That being said, it does include the notion that arcane casters that get their hand on (deity) spells are seemingly without restrictions in general, so go to town, I guess?

Dark Archive

One more observation - and right up front this is technically sub-optimized but could really shine in campaigns, or with DM's, that are especially focused on survival-type gameplay and/or resource constraints (e.g., money, time, town visits, spell components, etc.).

The Spell Sage has the capacity to be the most resilient and versatile caster when cornered - ie., trapped in prison, spellbook stolen, in a magic-drained area, etc.

Spell Mastery as a bonus feat mid-level should give you 5-6 spells to prepare without referencing your spellbook. Pick up Eschew Materials. Grab Blood Money as one of your Spell Mastery selections, and pick your most versatile spells for 5/4/3/2 so that you can prep at least something each level.

Example:

Blood Money - 1
Skinsend - 2
Major Image - 3
Shadow Conjuration - 4
Shadow Evocation - 5

That gives you a Spell Sage whose worst-case scenario is the ability to cast a huge number of Sorc/Wiz Conjurations and Evocations, and all 1-5 Bard/Druid/Cleric spells.


Definitely deserves a spot in the Guide to the Guides. By the way, I just remembered another Spell Sage Wizard guide. That one and yours complement each other (each covers stuff that the other doesn't).


Not finished yet! I need to incorporate some of these excellent comments. And then I need to talk about spells.

So many spells.

Doug M.


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A point I should probably make somewhere in the guide: the gap in slots between you and your specialist classmates is really painful at low levels, but less so as you level up. Here's a toy analysis with the following assumptions: specialist wizard, bound object, bound object is always used on highest level spell. Slots are weighted by level, so a second level slot is worth two "level-slots". (Yes, I know this is a crude analysis because slots increase in value in a way that's more quadratic than linear. I said it's a toy model.)

Example: at first level, with Int 18, Sally the Spell Sage has just two (2) first level spell slots. Ned the Necromancer has three, plus an effective fourth from his bound object. Ned's 4 spell slots / Sally's 2 spell slots = 0.5. Poor Sally has just half as many slots! Her overclock power means she's not quite half as weak, but it's still a huge difference.

Fourth level, still 18 Int: Sally is 4 first/3 second level slots, total 10 level/slots. Ned is 5/4+1, total 15. 15/10 = 0.67. Sally has gone from half as many slots to two thirds as many! Still bad, but no longer horrible.

Eighth level, 22 Int. Sally 6/5/3/3, Ned 7/6/4/4+1. Sally 37, Ned 51. Sally is up to 0.73 of Ned's slots, and now she has both overclock and Spell Study twice per day. Note that if both are investing equally in slot-boosting items (pearls of power, rings of wizardry, whatever), Sally's relative position will only improve. So, for instance, if both of them have a couple of second level pearls of power, then it's 41/55 or 0.75.

Twelfth level, 26 Int: Sally 6/6/6/5/4/3, Ned 7/7/7/6/5/4+1. Sally 94 / Ned 121 = 0.78. At 18th level with 30 Int it's 216/260 or 0.83. So, Sally will never catch up with Ned or the other specialists! And "staring thoughtfully at your too-small handful of spell slots" will never quite stop being a thing. But the difference will shrink to the point where it's a nuisance rather than a crippling handicap, and the Spell Sage's other powers will shine ever brighter over time.

Doug M.


Just want to point out that, at least locally, the 'overclock' lets various spell-storing items be leveraged. So the RoSS isn't directly comparable to on-level pearls.

Having a racked-and-stacked Dispel Magic in the NRoSS has proved useful in the past.

Grand Lodge

Douglas Muir 406 wrote:

The Spell Sage! One of the most interesting of all the wizard archetypes. It's challenging to play, but also incredibly rewarding, especially at higher levels.

This is a first draft of the first half of a Guide; I'll try to get the second half (covering some specific spells) up in the next day or two. Comments are extremely welcome! Once I've heard from y'all, I'll polish it up and submit it to Broken Zenith for the judgment of posterity.

** spoiler omitted **

...

Pretty cool man, I'm going to look into this further


I have really enjoyed this, thank you!

Dark Archive

Doug M. - certainly share your pain re: spell selection. I don't think too many people would hold it against you to lean on something universally well-respected (e.g. Treantmonk's wizard guide) and have your section be more of an addendum rather than trying to recreate the wheel. Basically note any spells that change rating for the Spell Sage, and any must-picks from source material not covered in the original guide.

Just a suggestion for your first cut :)


Mortimore wrote:
Doug M. - certainly share your pain re: spell selection. I don't think too many people would hold it against you to lean on something universally well-respected (e.g. Treantmonk's wizard guide) and have your section be more of an addendum rather than trying to recreate the wheel. Basically note any spells that change rating for the Spell Sage, and any must-picks from source material not covered in the original guide.

Ehh, I'm a nerd, so I'm going to do a list of interesting / useful / relevant spells and post it. Obviously not a COMPLETE list -- that way madness lies. But enough to be a useful guide and to get someone started.

Doug M.


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And here it is: Part 2. Some general observations, plus spellbook, 0 and 1st level spells. Part 3 (which certainly won't happen until 2018) would be 2nd and 3rd level spells.

Doug M.


You want THIS ITEM. Boost your Caster Level for Caster Level Checks by another +4, or +6 if you have a trapped creature, and stacks with Focused Spells? Sign me up! If you really need to overclock your Caster Level for a bad status removal out of combat, you could probably even get one of your friends to volunteer to be the captured creature, since this doesn't hurt them. It also doesn't hurt that in combat, this improves all of your Saves by +4, and once per day lets you take an enemy out of the fight for at least 1 round with no Save.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
So, in return for giving up arcane bond, you get the ability to occasionally cast a spell at +4 ECL. ECL affects a variety of different things, but mostly it's about spell duration, dice of damage on blasts, and spell penetration against spell resistance. Since "Focused Spells" is kinda clumsy, for purposes of discussion we will refer to this as your overclock power.

This should probably just use "CL" instead of "ECL," because it is a legitimate increase of caster level, not merely effective caster level.


^But as far as I know, it wouldn't qualify you for a feat that has as its prerequisite "Caster Level 5" (such as Craft Construct). You need your natural caster level for that -- otherwise a Spell Sage Wizard who somehow got enough money could craft Golems starting at level 1. Thus the need for a distinction, although more standardized terminology would be welcome.


Part 3 (2nd and 3rd level spells) coming soon.

Doug M.


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Part 3 is live! Just click on through.

For convenience's sake, here is Part 2 as well.

Doug M.


Adding a general observation from doing Part 3: there are a bunch of low-level spells that benefit from Extend Spell because they are hour/level or two hours/level. So, a Lesser Rod of Extend Spell is an excellent investment. It's just 3,000 gp, and you will definitely get your money's worth. From 8th level onwards you'll walk around all day with Mage Armor (cast before bedtime so you regain your overclock) and that's just for starters -- see the Part 3 thread for a bunch more examples.

Doug M.


Two other general observations.

One, metamagic feats are particularly great for the Spell Sage, but you have to be thoughtful. Basically there's one set of MM feats that you'll apply to your wizard spells, and these will mostly be blasts. That's stuff like Spell Specialization and Intensify Spell, and maybe also Maximize and/or Empower Spell. Then there's another set that you'd apply to your Spell Study spells -- stuff like Still Spell, Silent Spell, Extend Spell. For these you may be better off investing in rods, since a lot of these will be situational.

Two, if you're playing in a very social campaign, there's a plausible build where you take a trait that gives you Bluff as a class skill, throw two feats at Deception and Cunning Caster, and then become the wizard who casts in social situations while nobody notices. Now, the negatives here are pretty steep: Cunning Caster is kind of a PITA feat, because the stacking Bluff modifiers can get eye-wateringly painful. Most useful spells will involve rolling at -8 or -12 on Bluff. You're probably not a Cha monkey, so at (say) 3rd level your Bluff will only be 3 ranks + 2 feat + 3 class + 1 trait = +9, give or take. So you won't get much mileage out of this feat until 6th level or beyond. That said, in a social campaign -- especially one that's episodic, with a lot of 15 minute adventuring days -- the ability to cast spells undetected is a potential game-changer. Go and skim the list of spells in Part 3. There are a bunch of spells there that can really hit hard if you can cast them undetected in a social situation. If you want to go this route, invest in a rod of Still or Silent Spell to reduce the hit to your Bluff check.

Also, note that under RAW, Cunning Caster *does not care* how long the casting time is. That's weird and probably an editorial oversight, but it's RAW nonetheless. You can have a five-round casting time and if you make the Bluff check, observers just think you're just muttering to yourself while practicing your hare hare yukai moves.

Doug M.


Douglas Muir 406 wrote:
Also, note that under RAW, Cunning Caster *does not care* how long the casting time is. That's weird and probably an editorial oversight, but it's RAW nonetheless. You can have a five-round casting time and if you make the Bluff check, observers just think you're just muttering to yourself while practicing your hare hare...

Or you're just talking with your hands to someone else several dozen feet away.

The chain of events that lead to the feat existing is pretty ridiculous, but at least that part of it can be plausible if one thinks about it for a bit without setting out to nerf something that's already been well hamstrung.


The feat plugged a long-standing gap that really needed to be filled, but (sigh) it did this in a really annoying way. It's a feat (it should be a rule), it imposes a feat tax, it favors Cha-based casters, and the modifiers are overdone and irritating. But we'll use it anyway, because it's what we have. (Let's not even talk about Conceal Casting.)

Doug M.


One has to wonder how the tropes of sneaky witches co-exist with the spellcasting-as-brass-band model that unveiled in time for the psilencered classes to be better than.


Just wanted to say I'm playing a spell sage in a home game and am loving it. The sheer versatility is amazing- sometimes overwhelming. I've already run into decision paralysis more than once because I have so many options.

Game is currently low magic, at 5 level with very few options for healing. After healing potions, I'm the Band-Aid. Already saved the ranger from death w/ a CLW which stunned everyone since I was the mage. Also have become the tool-box skill monkey- if no one has the skill, then they turn to me. Also the most popular guy in the party I think just from the sheer amount of buffs. You're right in saying you'll have to swat away players like flies after you buff them once- they just keep coming back for more.

Some useful spells I've found in addition to the tricks you've already laid out are- masterwork transformation/bless water with blood money and lesser restore for free money- just don't overdo it or the DM will squash it. You never have to rely on the cleric for restoring. Early scrying from bard 3 is also nice. Also arcane concordance and glibness have been pretty useful.

The only negatives are running out of spells quickly- NO pearls of power in this game which really sucks. I have to hoard slots like crazy. Also the lack of a school power and familiar/bonded object has been noticeable a few times. I took the plunge and got arcane eldritch heritage to get a bonded object just for the extra spell per day- I've ended up using every game day so far. Also not crazy effective in combat so far- since I've got so few spells, I save them for boss fights and such. Mostly been cranking away with crossbow.

Keep it up man- good stuff. I've learned and put to use a ton of your ideas already. Get the 4th level spells out soon- might be gaining a level here later and I'll probably need some advice.... so you know get on that.


Hey Moto Muck, this is the sort of comment we guide writers really look forward to. So, thanks a lot for this.

Moto Muck wrote:
Just wanted to say I'm playing a spell sage in a home game and am loving it. The sheer versatility is amazing- sometimes overwhelming. I've already run into decision paralysis more than once because I have so many options.

I know, right? It's just an amazing archetype. Firmly not for beginners, but if you know the system well enough you can have all kinds of crazy fun with this. It really is the wizard for people who just love playing wizards.

Quote:
You're right in saying you'll have to swat away players like flies after you buff them once- they just keep coming back for more.

I've never played a Spell Sage but I know how players are.

Quote:
Some useful spells I've found in addition to the tricks you've already laid out are- masterwork transformation/bless water with blood money and lesser restore for free money- just don't overdo it or the DM will squash it.

This gets into the Great Blood Money Debate, and I'm not going there today. But it will definitely get added to the Guide, perhaps with a pious "ask your DM" parenthetical.

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Also arcane concordance and glibness have been pretty useful.

Oh wait how the heck did I miss arcane concordance? I guess we won't be spending any money on those Rods of Extend Spell after all! If you know you're going into the dungeon tomorrow, you just cast this and an overclocked Mage Armor the night before, and you'll walk around with free Mage Armor on all through the following day. Same-same for a bunch of other hour/level and two hours/level spells. Is that what you've been using it for?

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The only negatives are running out of spells quickly- NO pearls of power in this game which really sucks. I have to hoard slots like crazy. Also the lack of a school power and familiar/bonded object has been noticeable a few times.

Welcome to the Spell Sage. In terms of "feel of play", this archetype is distinctive in several ways. First and foremost is the feeling of looking at your too-small and ever-dwindling number of spell slots and wondering how you're going to make them work. Next is probably options overload, followed closely by "I can't spare any spell slots, and I'm saving my overclock for the boss. Guess I'll just throw a dagger or something."

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I took the plunge and got arcane eldritch heritage to get a bonded object just for the extra spell per day- I've ended up using every game day so far.

Ohhh that is a hack I had not thought of. Worth two feats and investing in a 13 Cha? Maybe! Probably! Especially in a low-magic campaign with no Pearls of Power or similar.

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Also not crazy effective in combat so far- since I've got so few spells, I save them for boss fights and such. Mostly been cranking away with crossbow.

The campaign is so low magic you can't even pick up a wand of Grease or something? What about acid flasks and tanglefoot bags and such? Plinking away with a crossbow is so... mundane. You have people for that.

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Keep it up man- good stuff. I've learned and put to use a ton of your ideas already. Get the 4th level spells out soon- might be gaining a level here later and I'll probably need some advice.... so you know get on that.

It takes a crazy amount of time to do these so I make no promises, but I'll do what I can.

Doug M.

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