Could we have less crossover between the Arcane and Occult Spell Lists?


Skills, Feats, Equipment & Spells


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It's a bit odd but, to date, I haven't had a single Arcane Caster in any of my playtest sessions. I have had two Occult casters and that got me looking at the Occult spell list. There's a lot of overlap with Arcane and, at least to me, I don't have a clear sense of what differentiates Occult and Arcane. I like the concept of the Occult spell list but I think the line needs to be drawn a bit more strongly.

If this forum supported tables I'd show you a spell level by spell level comparison but instead I took the Occult spell list and removed all of the spells that also appear on the Arcane list. I probably missed a few spells and miscounted a few times, but this should be accurate enough to make the point.

Spoiler:
Quote:

Non-Arcane Occult Spell List

Occult casters choose Non-Arcane spells from the following.

Non-Arcane Occult Cantrips
Disrupt undeadH
Forbidding wardH
Guidance
Know directionH
1st-Level Occult Spells
Bane
Bless
Detect alignmentH, U
Mindlink
Phantom painH
ProtectionU
Sanctuary
SootheH
2nd-Level Occult Spells
Augury
Calm emotions
Death knell
Faerie fire
False lifeH
Ghoulish cravings
ParanoiaH
Remove fearH
Remove paralysisH
RestorationH
Restore sensesH
SilenceH
Sound burstH
Spiritual weaponH
StatusH
Undetectable alignmentU
3rd-Level Occult Spells
Circle of protectionH, U
Dream messageH
HeroismH
Hypercognition
Zone of truthU
4th-Level Occult Spells
Modify memoryH, U
Read omensU
Remove curse
Talking corpseU
5th-Level Occult Spells
Abyssal plague
Death ward
Shadow blastH, U
Synaptic pulse
SynesthesiaH
6th-Level Occult Spells

7th-Level Occult Spells
Ethereal jauntH, U
PossessionH, U
RetrocognitionH
Visions of dangerH
8th-Level Occult Spells
Spiritual epidemic
9th-Level Occult Spells
Bind soulU
Overwhelming presence
Unfathomable song
Wail of the banshee
10th-Level Occult Spells
Alter realityU
Fabricated truthU

Trivia
The Arcane spell list has 36 more spells than the Occult spell list (by my count).
The Occult spell list has 53 spells that do not appear on the Arcane spell list (by my count).
The Occult spell list has no Sixth Level spells that do not appear on the Arcane spell list.
The Occult spell list only has a single Eighth Level spell - Spiritual Epidemic - that does not appear on the Arcane spell list.
Spiritual Epidemic also appears on the Divine spell list.

Is Occult the new Necromancy?
This has me wondering... Is Occult the new Necromancy? It feels like a random assortment of spells that vaguely fit a theme but don't really sync mechanically. I know that we'll likely see more thematic spells down the road as new material is added but I'm not exactly certain what the theme is suppose to be?

Follow up
Now I'm curious about overlap between all four spell lists. What are the unique spells for each spell list?


The Once and Future Kai wrote:

It's a bit odd but, to date, I haven't had a single Arcane Caster in any of my playtest sessions. I have had two Occult casters and that got me looking at the Occult spell list. There's a lot of overlap with Arcane and, at least to me, I don't have a clear sense of what differentiates Occult and Arcane. I like the concept of the Occult spell list but I think the line needs to be drawn a bit more strongly.

If this forum supported tables I'd show you a spell level by spell level comparison but instead I took the Occult spell list and removed all of the spells that also appear on the Arcane list. I probably missed a few spells and miscounted a few times, but this should be accurate enough to make the point.

** spoiler omitted **...

occult is the old "bard" list.

for overlap we have:

occult: mostly condition based, fewer blasts, a touch of healing
Primal: THE blasting list with a few heals
Arcane: in beween primal and occult, has most of the enchantment/conditions of occult with most of the blasting of primal, but lacks healing, also has the most utility out of all lists (that's a gut feeling though, i didn't count them or anything)
divine: buffs, a few conditions, a few blasts, healing


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shroudb wrote:
occult is the old "bard" list.

I don't know about that. I mean, yes, it includes the old Bard list but it has a lot of overlap with the Witch spell list as well. I never read Occult Adventures but I imagine it draws a lot from that source book.

shroudb wrote:

occult: mostly condition based, fewer blasts, a touch of healing

Primal: THE blasting list with a few heals
Arcane: in beween primal and occult, has most of the enchantment/conditions of occult with most of the blasting of primal, but lacks healing, also has the most utility out of all lists (that's a gut feeling though, i didn't count them or anything)
divine: buffs, a few conditions, a few blasts, healing

On this note - I'm also not sure why Arcane is the only spell list that cannot heal. I'd have been okay if Occult couldn't heal except for Bards who sing a healing song.


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The Once and Future Kai wrote:
On this note - I'm also not sure why Arcane is the only spell list that cannot heal. I'd have been okay if Occult couldn't heal except for Bards who sing a healing song.

To me, I can see two reasons:

a) Tradition, Wizards have never been able to heal, at least easily. As much as I'm usually somewhat dismissive of Tradition as a reason for things, this is one place that it would bug me if wizards got an easy (non-ritual, for instance) healing spell. I guess I contain multitudes.
b) Arcane has traditionally, and still is, to some (although a slightly lesser) degree, been good at most things to do with what the conception of "magic" is to most people. Having it contain all of that, as well as something that has been traditionally the domain of non-wizards creates some ripple effects in what a spell list aught to be (not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but it's something that should likely be designed from the outset).

As for why Occult gets Healing? If I had to guess, I'd say that moving the Bard to Occult, and likely the Witch as well, if my guesses are correct, resulted in them splitting the difference with existing occult casters (not quite half of whom get healing abilities), to grant a weaker healing spell to their list. Personally, I'd be fine with having a healing song, or a healing hex (for the witch), and other occult casters either losing their extant healing abilities (if they had them) or getting them similarly through class abilities, but I can see a degree of thematic association that's hard to describe other than with some of the intratextual insinuations that outside of certain hedge-witch stuff, witchy healing is seen as unnatural, which ties to the unknowable nature of occult, as contrasted to the knowable, almost metaphysically complete notion of Arcane. Or at least that's how my mind has rationalized it.


^ Good post, I don't have problem with healing, although I think it's legit to see if other overlap with Arcane & Divine lists could be pared down, possibly with specific class abilities bringing back in spells as needed... That also goes for Arcane and Divine lists, which could give up spells to Occult, again with exceptions bringing them back as needed (either spell list expansions, or discrete Powers).


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I think this is one of those things about the four magic essences, so each list (which consists of 2 of the 4 essences) will have overlap with 2 other lists. So we can say "x is a Mental Essence spell" so Arcane and Occult will get it, or "y is a Vital Essence spell" so Divine and Primal get it (likewise "Spiritual Essence" and Divine/Occult, or "Material Essence" and Arcane/Primal).

So the overlap between the Arcane and Occult lists is mostly an observation of "there are a lot of mental essence spells."


People aren’t playing arcane casters because there currently isn’t a reason to. There’s probably a thread for each of “why would anyone play a divine sorcerer over a cleric” “fey sorcerer over Druid” and “...occult sorcerer over a bard”. I don’t think the thread is present for the wizard/sorcerer comparison, because neither get any class features so no one cares.


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Some overlap is both inevitable and desirable. The sheer degree of overlap in practice is not desirable, especially with how the list just has less spells to begin with.

I'd be happier seeing some of the arcane overlap transitioned to divine overlap so it's a bit more balanced, some of the overlapped spells replaced with more Occult flavored variants, and just more new Occult spells generally.


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Lelomenia wrote:
People aren’t playing arcane casters because there currently isn’t a reason to. There’s probably a thread for each of “why would anyone play a divine sorcerer over a cleric” “fey sorcerer over Druid” and “...occult sorcerer over a bard”. I don’t think the thread is present for the wizard/sorcerer comparison, because neither get any class features so no one cares.

Untrue. Playing an Arcane Sorcerer and loving it. He was great in lost star. Ya, he needs to be a bit more martial to start than some folks are used to, but magic weapon and ray of enfeeblement are really great, right from level 1. After playing this guy, not sure why folks complain about casters.

About to use this guy for pale mountain. Took rogue dedication and medium armor prof. He is sitting on 22 ac and is wicked with his shortbow (ya elf prof).

He can surprise attack with ray of enfeeblement. His other spells look good too. Glitterdust looks pretty amazing if used well. So does mirror image.

He can intimidate the hell out of crap. Add in magical striker now and, whew, real scary.

As to the OPs point, ya, it does seem like the occult list could use some love. Not sure why I would use it on a Sorc over Arcane.


Data Lore wrote:


As to the OPs point, ya, it does seem like the occult list could use some love. Not sure why I would use it on a Sorc over Arcane.

I think OPs point was the exact opposite (why use Arcane and not occult)

As for your question, occult has a bit of healing, so you might use that list if your party has limited healing.

And Occult has Synaesthesia which is nuts (plus quite a bit other non-arcane spells that you may want).


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Data Lore wrote:
As to the OPs point, ya, it does seem like the occult list could use some love.
shroudb wrote:
I think OPs point was the exact opposite (why use Arcane and not occult)

My point was advocating for more distinct spell lists. I haven't had an Arcane caster in a session yet so I don't have the experience to judge which is superior. But I do dislike the heavy overlap between the two spell lists and that Occult feels a bit mismashed to me (Bard + Witch is a strange combo).


The Once and Future Kai wrote:
Data Lore wrote:
As to the OPs point, ya, it does seem like the occult list could use some love.
shroudb wrote:
I think OPs point was the exact opposite (why use Arcane and not occult)
My point was advocating for more distinct spell lists. I haven't had an Arcane caster in a session yet so I don't have the experience to judge which is superior. But I do dislike the heavy overlap between the two spell lists and that Occult feels a bit mismashed to me (Bard + Witch is a strange combo).

The very big difference between the 2 lists is blasts.

If you want to do damage using your spells, occult is pretty terrible.

Just looking at the most common blasts of up to 4th level, occult has nothing.
No burning hands, no acid arrow, no flaming sphere, no fireball, no lighting bolt, no wall of fire, no weapon storm, etcetc


maybe they should use the old spectrum to figure out who gets what

you pick 4 distinct angles, we know these will be called
occult vs divine
arcane vs primal

in this sense if primal is natural raw magic
arcane is man made artificial twisting of magic

and where divine is otherworldly assistance form other planes
occult would be an artificial assistance from powerful beings from the cosmos

the best way to describe it in my mind is:

Cthulhu follower vs cleric
and
dragon vs wizard

what you need to do to seperate the spells then
is place 4 circles on a spread sheet, overlapping each other slightly
the spells are then placed in the circles based on which casters should have access
the idea is to give less over lap by having less room for each spell.

you could also take the following approach

draw a line from left to right and up to down, like a plus, put the 4 titles at each end, then like a scale place the spells where you feel they belong....

maybe every spell can be used by every class, but in that scenario, the spells that are easy to some should be hard to others, and by that I mean while a cleric can cast a heal easily, maybe a magic missile would be a 9th level spell, but have the effect as a 1st level wizard spell

like wise maybe a wizard could cast a heal but to him its a 8th level spell that works just like the clerics first.

in that kind of setup you have access to all, but what is easy for you to cast is determined by the type of magic you use.


Hakon007 wrote:

maybe they should use the old spectrum to figure out who gets what

you pick 4 distinct angles, we know these will be called
occult vs divine
arcane vs primal

in this sense if primal is natural raw magic
arcane is man made artificial twisting of magic

and where divine is otherworldly assistance form other planes
occult would be an artificial assistance from powerful beings from the cosmos

the best way to describe it in my mind is:

Cthulhu follower vs cleric
and
dragon vs wizard

what you need to do to seperate the spells then
is place 4 circles on a spread sheet, overlapping each other slightly
the spells are then placed in the circles based on which casters should have access
the idea is to give less over lap by having less room for each spell.

you could also take the following approach

draw a line from left to right and up to down, like a plus, put the 4 titles at each end, then like a scale place the spells where you feel they belong....

maybe every spell can be used by every class, but in that scenario, the spells that are easy to some should be hard to others, and by that I mean while a cleric can cast a heal easily, maybe a magic missile would be a 9th level spell, but have the effect as a 1st level wizard spell

like wise maybe a wizard could cast a heal but to him its a 8th level spell that works just like the clerics first.

in that kind of setup you have access to all, but what is easy for you to cast is determined by the type of magic you use.

I kind of like the mixing essences thing, besides then the only casters that aren't slaves to something are wizards and the few clerics that worship deities like nethys that are like "here is magic, go be magical. Teach other people to be magical, for magic is awesome." I don't want my bard to have to tell cthulu how awesome his tentacles are for an hour each day to have magic.


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Corwin Icewolf wrote:


I kind of like the mixing essences thing, besides then the only casters that aren't slaves to something are wizards and the few clerics that worship deities like nethys that are like "here is magic, go be magical. Teach other people to be magical, for magic is awesome." I don't want my bard to have to tell cthulu how awesome his tentacles are for an hour each day to have magic.

I mean I've been fairly clear on it, but I really quite like the essences.

Weirdly enough I think this is the first time I've actually found the arcane list thematically cool, given the precise way in which it overlaps with Primal and Occult now.


I do really like the essences too, and part of that is that it makes it pretty easy to add the other 2 lists (Vital/Mental and Spiritual/Material) since you just populate it with all of the single essence spells that fit which already exist then invent a handful of spells which combine the two essences.

So to flesh out any list as unique (including the occult one) all you need is more spells which involve two different essences.


PossibleCabbage wrote:

I do really like the essences too, and part of that is that it makes it pretty easy to add the other 2 lists (Vital/Mental and Spiritual/Material) since you just populate it with all of the single essence spells that fit which already exist then invent a handful of spells which combine the two essences.

So to flesh out any list as unique (including the occult one) all you need is more spells which involve two different essences.

I feel like Vital/Mental would be my favourite list, but I'm having trouble imagining what it could be other than weird pseudoscience stuff.


Elleth wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I do really like the essences too, and part of that is that it makes it pretty easy to add the other 2 lists (Vital/Mental and Spiritual/Material) since you just populate it with all of the single essence spells that fit which already exist then invent a handful of spells which combine the two essences.

So to flesh out any list as unique (including the occult one) all you need is more spells which involve two different essences.

I feel like Vital/Mental would be my favourite list, but I'm having trouble imagining what it could be other than weird pseudoscience stuff.

Vital/Mental, if it existed, I could see as some form of Psionics, particularly like the egoist from 3.5 or the vitalist from Dreamscarred. For Spiritual/Material, I want to say Ki, just for the sake of the fact that it's allowed to count as divine or occult, based on player preference, but honestly it's probably just Spiritual/Vital, but from a completely different perspective than divine magic, for the most part. It's hard for me to piece together what it might be though, as spiritual is about the (literally and metaphorically) ethereal, where as physical is about, well, the physical, and it's hard to see where those intersect. They are supposed to be opposite points on the same axis, so it makes some sense, though the fact that vital/mental is also supposed to represent opposing points, but is fairly easy for me to come up with an explanation for makes it a bit stranger to puzzle through.


Tholomyes wrote:
Elleth wrote:
PossibleCabbage wrote:

I do really like the essences too, and part of that is that it makes it pretty easy to add the other 2 lists (Vital/Mental and Spiritual/Material) since you just populate it with all of the single essence spells that fit which already exist then invent a handful of spells which combine the two essences.

So to flesh out any list as unique (including the occult one) all you need is more spells which involve two different essences.

I feel like Vital/Mental would be my favourite list, but I'm having trouble imagining what it could be other than weird pseudoscience stuff.
Vital/Mental, if it existed, I could see as some form of Psionics, particularly like the egoist from 3.5 or the vitalist from Dreamscarred. For Spiritual/Material, I want to say Ki, just for the sake of the fact that it's allowed to count as divine or occult, based on player preference, but honestly it's probably just Spiritual/Vital, but from a completely different perspective than divine magic, for the most part. It's hard for me to piece together what it might be though, as spiritual is about the (literally and metaphorically) ethereal, where as physical is about, well, the physical, and it's hard to see where those intersect. They are supposed to be opposite points on the same axis, so it makes some sense, though the fact that vital/mental is also supposed to represent opposing points, but is fairly easy for me to come up with an explanation for makes it a bit stranger to puzzle through.

Ki in the Asian belief systems is life force. I feel like it would just be vital essence, which is why it's not really magic in the way spells are. Monks don't blend their vital essence with anything, they just draw the vital essence from within themselves and use it.

But it could be vital and mental, with the mental being the intense focus and self knowledge monks need in order to use it.

Vital/mental could also be related to all those pseudo scientific and semi scientific energy forms as was stated above. Stuff like orgone and tachyons and zero point energy. In which case it would probably be largely a numeria thing.


I feel like you could just give the Mental/Vital list to the Psychic and make it the "mind over matter, mind over mind" class.

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