Speculation: Will school specialist wizards go away?


Second Edition

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Some points that came up by the devs:
- it has been revealed that wizards write a thesis. That sounds like subclass and also pretty freeform as to what the focus of the thesis is
- arcane list is big because it has to have spells for every school. That makes arcane list better than the other 3 lists

So, I suspect "Thesis" replaces school specialization for wizards. It can have a similar flavor of spevializing in a kind of makig without forcing itself into "one school spell per spell level". It also is more open to stuff like elemental specialization.

I wouldn't be surprised to not have schools for wizards anymore now.


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The schools of magic are too hard-baked into the setting. Each school is tied to one of the 7 sins. And each of the Runelords was a specialist.

Liberty's Edge

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My suspicion is that it's one of two things:

#1: Schools still exist but provide only bonus spells, and possibly bonus spells to their list ala a Sorcerer Bloodline. Thesis is what gives you Powers and is a separate thing.

#2: Schools exist as one option for a Thesis, with there being several other options as well. So you can have a Necromancy Thesis or a Familiar Thesis or a Metamagic Thesis, and all fill the same mechanical 'slot'. You could even have 'School Specialist' as a single Thesis on the list if you designed it properly. That'd be sufficient to allow things like Thassilonian Magic...though a 'Rune Magic' Thesis for that also seems very plausible.

A #3 option with both Schools and Theses existing independently is also possible, but I suspect unlikely.

Liberty's Edge

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I for one would be happy as a clam if they killed the MANDATORY school selection for Wizards and as others have noted, make it a kind of optional ability that you can choose to take/leave.

Adding them in via Class Feats or Thesis's (ieses's?) Silos would be a HUGE step towards opening up Wizards that feel different from one another for reasons other than "Well I guess I HAVE to pick a major..."


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Plural of thesis is theses.


Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:
The schools of magic are too hard-baked into the setting. Each school is tied to one of the 7 sins. And each of the Runelords was a specialist.

I didn't say the schools don't exist anymore.

Just that the subclass for wizards is not neccesarily tied to a school anymore. School specialization can be one option for a thesis.
(like DeadManWalkimg wrote here)


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Themetricsystem wrote:

I for one would be happy as a clam if they killed the MANDATORY school selection for Wizards and as others have noted, make it a kind of optional ability that you can choose to take/leave.

Adding them in via Class Feats or Thesis's (ieses's?) Silos would be a HUGE step towards opening up Wizards that feel different from one another for reasons other than "Well I guess I HAVE to pick a major..."

I would be happy too!

That would be a big thing because it opens many options. You could have theses (thanks Stone Dog) on magical tatoos, construct crafting, being a sniper with ray spells...


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In PF1 all school specialization did was provide extra spell slots, made some spells require more slots to costs (if it was prohibited), and provide some unique abilities that weren't really spell related.

In PF2, I don't think they want to give extra spell slots and because of that I think they wont make certain schools cost more.

So having a school thesis that provided the equivalent of the extra abilities would be pretty reasonable.

Silver Crusade

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I would love to see the Wizard evolve along the lines some of yall have mentioned. Would make it a much more interesting class and would alleviate some of the pressure on the Arcane list, as mentioned.

I'm pretty skeptical that it'll happen, but I don't have a basis for that skepticism other than gut feeling. So here's hoping I'm wrong!


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I'm pretty sure that the video stream where they came out and talked about wizards having a Thesis, the staffer was talking about how they were putting more fluff into the classes to help spark roleplay. I think that Wizards have Theses that your graduate wizards should define, but I don't think it has an actual mechanical effect on the game play.

At least that was the impression that I got.

Liberty's Edge

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Loreguard wrote:

I'm pretty sure that the video stream where they came out and talked about wizards having a Thesis, the staffer was talking about how they were putting more fluff into the classes to help spark roleplay. I think that Wizards have Theses that your graduate wizards should define, but I don't think it has an actual mechanical effect on the game play.

At least that was the impression that I got.

They talked about it as the equivalent of a Rogue's Racket, which is a new term for a very explicit mechanical choice. I definitely got the impression it's a specific and meaningful mechanical choice.

Silver Crusade

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Deadmanwalking wrote:
Loreguard wrote:

I'm pretty sure that the video stream where they came out and talked about wizards having a Thesis, the staffer was talking about how they were putting more fluff into the classes to help spark roleplay. I think that Wizards have Theses that your graduate wizards should define, but I don't think it has an actual mechanical effect on the game play.

At least that was the impression that I got.

They talked about it as the equivalent of a Rogue's Racket, which is a new term for a very explicit mechanical choice. I definitely got the impression it's a specific and meaningful mechanical choice.

You can start HERE for the Rogue racket to Wizard thesis comparison. Here's a quick transcript of the Wizard part:

Jason wrote:

The thesis is basically your specialization in Wizardry. It's like, oh, you really care about familiars, you studied up on familiars; oh, you're focused on metamagic; and that sort of thing. And ultimately, like, that's just a mechanical choice—and that's certainly true.

But one thing that it is as well is that it is a way for us to color your character. So we encourage you to come up with a full title of your character's thesis . . .

^ The use of "familiar" and "metamagic" here for a Wizard choice that's analogous to the Rogue "racket" class-path choice really does support the idea that maybe Wizards will get some class-path options that are separate from and/or more interesting than a PF1-style school specialization.


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Stone Dog wrote:
Plural of thesis is theses.

The plural of thesis is da... Wait. Nevermind.


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I hope Specialists stay! I think making them more prominent rather than less would be a good improvement. The point is to make Wizards less "same-y" and it helps somewhat, though after a while they still continue to look the same in PF1. This decision should be like picking a different class entirely!

Liberty's Edge

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N N 959 wrote:
Stone Dog wrote:
Plural of thesis is theses.
The plural of thesis is da... Wait. Nevermind.

I admit it, I laughed. :)


The thesis stuff sounds like some of the first-level feat choices the Wizard got rather than the schools, so I think they might be in addition to the schools, and perhaps replace the first-level class feats.


In one of the Playtest announcement blogs (not sure if it was the one specifically for Wizards or one of the others about magic), I remember them saying that Specialist Wizards would still get extra Arcane School Slots. Has this changed for the production version of 2nd Edition?

I wouldn't have ever called Arcane School specialization mandatory -- in 1st Edition the generic Universalist Wizard wasn't as good as the specialists unless you were going into the Arclord of Nex prestige class or built specifically to do something awesome with the normally bad Hand of the Apprentice, but a couple of good alternatives existed by way of archetypes that replaced Arcane School (among other things): Exploiter Wizard and Spell Sage.


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During the playtest, wizards could choose to specialise or become universalists. Universalists got one less spell slot of each level and no school power, but gained one extra spell recover per level and a first level feat.
...it tended to be skewed towards universalists, which I hope will change.


^I guess I got spell slot numbers and spell recovery mixed up.


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If the Arcane list manages to have enough Material/Mental based spells left for each school after the great reassignment of spells per list, yes, quite probably...


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Maps, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

If anything, it could be the universalist wizard that is on the chopping block. If you gain bonuses but don't incur any penalties for specializing, then a universalist option may not be needed.


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David knott 242 wrote:

If anything, it could be the universalist wizard that is on the chopping block. If you gain bonuses but don't incur any penalties for specializing, then a universalist option may not be needed.

I did that in my old P1 houserules, but Oblivion Oath made it very clear that Universalists are still in.

Dataphiles

Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:
The schools of magic are too hard-baked into the setting. Each school is tied to one of the 7 sins. And each of the Runelords was a specialist.

Except for divination. There is no Runelord of Divination.


Chetna Wavari wrote:
Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:
The schools of magic are too hard-baked into the setting. Each school is tied to one of the 7 sins. And each of the Runelords was a specialist.
Except for divination. There is no Runelord of Divination.

That's because Divination wasn't a school of magic before Aroden's death.


So divination was recognized as its own school only in the Age of Lost Omens? The irony.


Universalists lose out on one spell per day and a school power option; unless they use the feat for the universalist power, in which they then lose out on one spell per day for utility. How were the schools skewed towards Universalist? If it’s just about the class feat then can’t the same argument be applied to Humans which got an ancestry feat which allowed the same thing?

I will say that some of the other School Powers were somewhat lackluster, such as Evocation being a worse Magic Missle. Maybe i’m just missing something; which is why i’m curious.


Pumpkinhead11 wrote:

Universalists lose out on one spell per day and a school power option; unless they use the feat for the universalist power, in which they then lose out on one spell per day for utility. How were the schools skewed towards Universalist? If it’s just about the class feat then can’t the same argument be applied to Humans which got an ancestry feat which allowed the same thing?

I will say that some of the other School Powers were somewhat lackluster, such as Evocation being a worse Magic Missle. Maybe i’m just missing something; which is why i’m curious.

While they lose out on one preparation slot per level, they gain a use of Drain Focus for each level instead of only 1 spell period. Thus making them lose out on realistically 1 spell (total) per day, making their already large degree of versatility all the more immense since they can recast ANY spell of a given level they prepared that day. So really they lose out on Focus Powers, and as you said, those aren't that big of a deal.


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Clearly what we have is a case of parallel universes, in one Specialists do absolutely wipe the floor, and in another Universalists do absolutely wipe the floor. Balance is just an urban myth, embrace the hyper-verse instead!


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Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ediwir wrote:
Chetna Wavari wrote:
Barnabas Eckleworth III wrote:
The schools of magic are too hard-baked into the setting. Each school is tied to one of the 7 sins. And each of the Runelords was a specialist.
Except for divination. There is no Runelord of Divination.
That's because Divination wasn't a school of magic before Aroden's death.

It was only not recognized during Thassilon. We don't know when it became recognized, but it was before Aroden died, because then how would diviners exist then?

Quote:

With the advent of the Age of Lost Omens over a century ago, the reputation of diviners and soothsayers has been diminished. One of the strongest and most-dearly held prophesies held by humans of the Inner Sea region was that the god Aroden would return in 4606 AR and usher in the Age of Glory. With his death and the breaking of the prophecy, all such long-term prognostications on Golarion have ceased to come true.[4]

Divination is the most recently recognized school of magic and did not exist during the reign of the runelords of ancient Thassilon. It therefore is the only school not associated with a sin in the practice of sin magic.[5]

[4] (Erik Mona et al. (2008). Campaign Setting, p. 53.)

[5] Wolfgang Baur. (2007). The History of Thassilon. Burnt Offerings, p. 74-76.

Liberty's Edge

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Yeah, Thassilon (and possibly Azlant before them) considered Divination part of the Universal category along with things like Prestidigitation, but that's a cultural specificity to a particular ancient empire, not anything to do with Aroden's death, and was not true of other cultures even shortly after the fall of Thassilon (the Varisians have considered divination its own school for a very long time indeed).


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nick1wasd wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:

Universalists lose out on one spell per day and a school power option; unless they use the feat for the universalist power, in which they then lose out on one spell per day for utility. How were the schools skewed towards Universalist? If it’s just about the class feat then can’t the same argument be applied to Humans which got an ancestry feat which allowed the same thing?

I will say that some of the other School Powers were somewhat lackluster, such as Evocation being a worse Magic Missle. Maybe i’m just missing something; which is why i’m curious.

While they lose out on one preparation slot per level, they gain a use of Drain Focus for each level instead of only 1 spell period. Thus making them lose out on realistically 1 spell (total) per day, making their already large degree of versatility all the more immense since they can recast ANY spell of a given level they prepared that day. So really they lose out on Focus Powers, and as you said, those aren't that big of a deal.

That would make sense, but only at face value. They can use Arcane Focus once per spell level, so esenctially a free spell slot. This free slot comes with two important conditions; 1) must be a spell prepared that day, and 2) must have cast that spell. It’s not like they get a pool of Arcane Focus uses that they can spam on the same level of spell, and they can’t even heighten or lower the spell; they just ‘echo’ a spell they have already cast.

While i do find the 1st tier School Powers underwhelming, the 2nd tier powers are much more useful; at least the one for Conjuration is (Dimension Step).

Also on the spell slot they lose out on; i should correct myself on that. The Spell Slot Universalist Wizards lose out on can be assumed to be their highest level spell slot. Which over the course of a characters career will make more of a difference, especially if they end up competing against a specialist.

So far it seems the real issue isn’t the Universalist School being all that powerful, but rather the other Schools being a bit underwhelming by comparison.


Ediwir wrote:
That's because Divination wasn't a school of magic before Aroden's death.

I believe this is not true. It's stated that the Runelords found Divination magic so indispensable that they all studied it.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
MaxAstro wrote:
Ediwir wrote:
That's because Divination wasn't a school of magic before Aroden's death.
I believe this is not true. It's stated that the Runelords found Divination magic so indispensable that they all studied it.

The spells were studied, but they weren't considered their own school. They were Universal. Still, it became it's own school after their (Thassilon/Azlant) fall.


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1) under Vancian, the main issue is (for me at least) guessing not what I need, but what I need more than once. PT universalist solves that, letting me postpone the decision to the last minute.

2) under Playtest, many spell levels have no spell choices at all for some schools, giving specialists less slots. Others have only one choice or very few, removing or reducing their versatility.

3) feats were generally better than powers (but not always).

I expect that to change, but... yeah.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Ediwir wrote:

1) under Vancian, the main issue is (for me at least) guessing not what I need, but what I need more than once. PT universalist solves that, letting me postpone the decision to the last minute.

2) under Playtest, many spell levels have no spell choices at all for some schools, giving specialists less slots. Others have only one choice or very few, removing or reducing their versatility.

3) feats were generally better than powers (but not always).

I expect that to change, but... yeah.

First point is VERY good, and most likely the way it should be looked at. Good catch.

And yeah, we can be Assured that 2 will be fixed in the final rules.


Ediwir wrote:

1) under Vancian, the main issue is (for me at least) guessing not what I need, but what I need more than once. PT universalist solves that, letting me postpone the decision to the last minute.

2) under Playtest, many spell levels have no spell choices at all for some schools, giving specialists less slots. Others have only one choice or very few, removing or reducing their versatility.

3) feats were generally better than powers (but not always).

I expect that to change, but... yeah.

That would definitely make the school choices much less attractive on two levels. I haven’t looked close enough to know about some schools not really having spell choices altogether; that one’s good to know. I know Cleric was rather underwhelming to play with such an un appealing list choice, but that’s for another thread.


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I hope in the final product your Thesis ends up being a really big deal in how you play your character.

IMO one of the weaknesses of PF1 (and most D&D to some extent) is that unless you were intentionally doing something oddball most wizards (and sorcerers for that matter) tended to rapidly converge on each other as you leveled up and trying to keep a tight theme across your caster's spell list got increasingly hard as the game progressed.

More options to specialize and flavor them always felt like the one thing wizards (and sorcerers in PF1) really needed.


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I'd limit the core arcane list to the things it should have according to the schema they developed for Arcane/Divine/Occult/Primal.

But then let arcane school specialists add their type of spells to that list from one/some of the other lists. Possibly choosing which list they take from as part of choosing their specialism.

A conjuration Wizard taking from the divine list would be interestingly different to a conjuration Wizard taking from the primal list.

A universalist would presumably then add fewer spells from other list(s?), but without the restriction to one school.

N.b. I wouldn't make this the only difference.


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Strong agreeance with Ramanujan; I really hope that's the direction they go.

You could add a lot of flavor and uniqueness to any given wizard by letting them pick a few spells of their specialty from outside their class list.

Universalists, on the other hand, could either get fewer outside-list picks but from multiple schools, or no outside-list picks but more spells per day.


I was thinking of trying this in a home game and seeing how it feels. Personally it feels odd that a Wizard can specialize in Necromancy and not know how to inflict wounds/harm. This would also allow them to stay true to the Mental/Material aspect of the Arcane Spell list without taking away from Wizard. The difference between Universalists and Specialists would become more distinct and meaningful.

I’m not sure if this would be in the CRB, or if i would want it in the CRB to be honest, since it can be considered a rather hefty change to how some iconic things work; but i would 100% vouch for this in an Ultimate Magic as an alternate rule.


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The problem with it as an optional rule is that it only works if the Arcane list isn't already the most broad list. To make it an optional rule you'd basically need an optional rewrite of the whole Arcane list that narrowed its focus down.


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My hesitancy on the idea is based on how radical the change might end up being, and how well such a change would be received right off the bat; as well as the practicality and possibility of them actually going in this direction by this point in the development.

So my reasoning for it as an alternate ruling would be for future production of spells and spell lists; testing how well such an idea would be received; any potential balance issues; and still remaining reminiscent enough to 1e that it doesn’t feel completely alien for those that give it a curious glance.

I think you’re right with the best way to implement the idea would be from the CRB; and if they do implement it by some chance then i hope it’s well received. I’m just not hopeful that they will from the get go; if the idea was even discussed among them to begin with.


nick1wasd wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:

Universalists lose out on one spell per day and a school power option; unless they use the feat for the universalist power, in which they then lose out on one spell per day for utility. How were the schools skewed towards Universalist? If it’s just about the class feat then can’t the same argument be applied to Humans which got an ancestry feat which allowed the same thing?

I will say that some of the other School Powers were somewhat lackluster, such as Evocation being a worse Magic Missle. Maybe i’m just missing something; which is why i’m curious.

While they lose out on one preparation slot per level, they gain a use of Drain Focus for each level instead of only 1 spell period. Thus making them lose out on realistically 1 spell (total) per day, making their already large degree of versatility all the more immense since they can recast ANY spell of a given level they prepared that day. So really they lose out on Focus Powers, and as you said, those aren't that big of a deal.

I personally found it interesting that the specialists ended up higher in versatility. They have one more option choice, whereas the universalist may have the same effective number, but has one less choice.


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Bonus spells for Wizards from somewhere other than the Sorcerer/Wizard list (or whatever they call it in Pathfinder 2nd Edition) wouldn't be any worse than most Sorcerer Bloodlines having bonus spells from somewhere other than the Sorcerer/Wizard list in Pathfinder 1st Edition.


UnArcaneElection wrote:

Bonus spells for Wizards from somewhere other than the Sorcerer/Wizard list (or whatever they call it in Pathfinder 2nd Edition) wouldn't be any worse than most Sorcerer Bloodlines having bonus spells from somewhere other than the Sorcerer/Wizard list in Pathfinder 1st Edition.

The key difference for Bloodlines in either 1e or 2e is they are chosen for the player. The balance issue i would be worried about with, let’s say a Necromancy Wizard, picking that school of spells from any list would be if it might trivialize any other classes by mistake.

Like, would a Necromancy Wizard trivialize Cleric if they could prepare Heal/Harm?

My hope would be that it doesn’t, and it may not; but if it does, even by mistake, then there’s a whole can of issues that the mechanic would bring in.


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Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

Bonus spells for Wizards from somewhere other than the Sorcerer/Wizard list (or whatever they call it in Pathfinder 2nd Edition) wouldn't be any worse than most Sorcerer Bloodlines having bonus spells from somewhere other than the Sorcerer/Wizard list in Pathfinder 1st Edition.

The key difference for Bloodlines in either 1e or 2e is they are chosen for the player. The balance issue i would be worried about with, let’s say a Necromancy Wizard, picking that school of spells from any list would be if it might trivialize any other classes by mistake.

Like, would a Necromancy Wizard trivialize Cleric if they could prepare Heal/Harm?

My hope would be that it doesn’t, and it may not; but if it does, even by mistake, then there’s a whole can of issues that the mechanic would bring in.

Well, there's your solution, give them specific spells from that school that are listed on other traditions. So a necro-wizard would be able to prepare >HARM< and select few other spells, not just "any spell that's listed as necromancy that's on any of the tradition lists"


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OMG Nick I think you just hit the nail on the head!

Prediction: Thesis works like Bloodline, including granting spells, and the various school specializations are among the choices of Thesis.


nick1wasd wrote:
Pumpkinhead11 wrote:
UnArcaneElection wrote:

Bonus spells for Wizards from somewhere other than the Sorcerer/Wizard list (or whatever they call it in Pathfinder 2nd Edition) wouldn't be any worse than most Sorcerer Bloodlines having bonus spells from somewhere other than the Sorcerer/Wizard list in Pathfinder 1st Edition.

The key difference for Bloodlines in either 1e or 2e is they are chosen for the player. The balance issue i would be worried about with, let’s say a Necromancy Wizard, picking that school of spells from any list would be if it might trivialize any other classes by mistake.

Like, would a Necromancy Wizard trivialize Cleric if they could prepare Heal/Harm?

My hope would be that it doesn’t, and it may not; but if it does, even by mistake, then there’s a whole can of issues that the mechanic would bring in.

Well, there's your solution, give them specific spells from that school that are listed on other traditions. So a necro-wizard would be able to prepare >HARM< and select few other spells, not just "any spell that's listed as necromancy that's on any of the tradition lists"

I would find pre selected spells to defeat the purpose of the idea to begin with, since there are only so many schools, whereas Bloodlines they can keep generating just like they did in 1e.

Though with what Max just said; if they paired preselected Necromancy spells(for example) with a Thesis. . . This could be a tidy solution to the balance issue. To nitpick, since we still just have speculation to go on at the moment, wouldn’t that kind of tie Schools to closely to the Thesis idea? The two examples i can remember from another thread talked about a Thesis on Familiars or a Thesis on Metamagic. If this would mean that, say, Evocation was explicitly tied to Metamagic for the purpose of a Thesis i’m not sure how i’d feel about that.


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It is my limited understanding that School specialization IS a thesis.

An Evoker might get a lot of milage from metamagic, but a Metamagician would be a separate focus from evocation magic.


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Yeah, I'm thinking that specialist and thesis are not going to be separate things. Rather one of the thesis options will be "thesis on Evocation".

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