Tuesday, July 13, 2010

On the Classic Elements and Their Masters

So, I was pondering doing an elementalist class a couple weeks ago, and today jotted down some ideas. Here's the class "in progress" - I'd love to know what people think ...


Command elemental spirits to perform tasks – the effect is the equivalent of casting spells. An elementalist can attempt to command these spirits a number of time each day equal to his Charisma score divided by 3, rounding down. [maybe at 6th level, this increases to Charisma divided by 2, rounding down?]

Elementalists must own and carry a grimoire of the true names of known spirits – they add to this as they adventure, but not in the manner that magic-users add spells to their spell books

An elementalist is a ritual caster; each day he chooses to focus himself on a particular element and in turn must wear an appropriately colored robe (red, blue, yellow or white) and carry a ritual tool – athame, goblet, censer or wand. Without the robe and the tool, he cannot command elemental spirits.

Elementalists cannot command spirits opposed to their chosen element for the day, but they can command all spirits that are not opposed to them. When commanding elementals spirits that match their daily focus, they receive a +1 bonus to their command checks (see below).

Command checks are the equivalent of a cleric’s ability to turn undead, and use the same table substituting the spell level for the undead’s Hit Dice. Elementalists can also turn elementals opposed to him and command elementals favorable to him. Elements refers to elementals, genies (efreet, djinn, janni), sylphs, salamanders and other creatures composed entirely or mostly of elemental stuff.

The elementalist has four spell lists, each tied to a different element (with a few spells appearing on all four lists). Spells marked with an asterisk (*) are new and described below.

[Maybe his communications with spirits helps him avoid surprise (i.e. surprised on 1 in 1d8 instead of 1 in 1d6), avoid pit traps, find secret doors - essentially, he's in communication with the landscape/dungeon and maybe gets some forewarning]

Level One
1 Burning Hands (F)
2 Feather Fall (A)
3 Magic Stone (E)
4 Produce Flame (F)
5 Purify Food & Drink (W)
6 Ray of Frost (W)

Level Two
1 Fog Cloud (W)
2 Heat Metal (F)
3 Levitate (A)
4 Pyrotechnics (F)
5 Stinking Cloud (A)
6 Strength (E)

Level Three
1 Fireball (F)
2 Fly (A)
3 Lightning Bolt (A)
4 Protection from Normal Missiles (A)
5 Stone Shape (E)
6 Water Breathing (W)

Level Four
1 Create Water (W)
2 Ice Storm (W)
3 Solid Fog (A)
4 Spike Stones (E)
5 Wall of Fire (F)
6 Wall of Ice (W)

Level Five
1 Cloudkill (A)
2 Cone of Cold (W)
3 Conjure Elemental (U)
4 Passwall (E)
5 Transmute Rock to Mud (E)
6 Wall of Stone (E)

Level Six
1 Find the Path (E)
2 Invisible Stalker (A)
3 Lower Water (W)
4 Move Earth (E)
5 Part Water (W)
6 Stone to Flesh (E)

Level Seven
1 Aerial Servant (A)
2 Control Weather (A)
3 Delayed Blast Fireball (F)
4 Earthquake (E)
5 Reverse Gravity (E)
6 Wind Walk (A)

Level Eight
1 Horrid Wilting (W)
2 Incendiary Cloud (F)
3 Repel Metal or Stone (E)
4 Whirlwind (A)

Level Nine
1 Imprisonment (E)
2 Meteo Swarm (F)

Prime Req: Charisma
Fights As: Magic-User
Hit Dice: Magic-User
Saving Throws: Magic-User
Armor & Weapons: Leather, magic-user weapons

Level Titles
1. Grammarian
2. Reciter
3. Incantator
4. Lector
5. Elementalist
6. Dracunculus
7. Draco
8. Pentalpha
9. Solomon


Thoughts -

1. I might need to invent a few spells to fill in the gaps. I wanted about three spells per level per element up to level 5, and then one or two from 6-9.

2. The big question is the use of the Turn Undead table for casting spells. As written, a 1st level elementalist would be able to make, on average, three or four attempts at casting a spell each day. They could attempt to cast 5th level spells (5% chance of success), 4th level spells (10% cos), 3rd level spells (25% cos), 2nd level spells (40% cos) and 1st level spells (55% cos). Limited number of tries, limited chance of success - but is it too limited? Not limited enough?

A 1st level elementalist that sticks to 1st level spells can, on average, cast about 2 spells per day, so double that of most magic-users. If that elementalist tries to get off a fireball, he only has a 25% chance to do it, and even if he does it, it will only do 1d6 damage. This is probably okay.

At higher levels, the elementalist is still limited to just a few attempts per day, meaning he falls behind the magic-user as a spell caster - fewer spells and less variety. In exchange, I'm giving him leather armor and the ability to turn (and command) elemental creatures - not bad, but maybe not good enough. He might still be worth it if he advances in level faster than the magic-user, but advancing quickly in a crappy character class is little compensation.

So, still some work to be done here. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

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