The Magician - an experiment in class design

This is a giant experiment – to see to what extent I can benefit from designing a class in this forum by making it available for regular feedback throughout the design process.

The Magician
NOTE: The Magician is a variant Scholar with the following design goals
1.) To emphasize skill usage
2.) To simplify the creation of characters at any level
3.) To better balance the character at all levels
4.) To increase the flexibility of the class to improve the way it handles variant concepts (e.g. fighting-monks, wise men,
Thulsa, over here in the States we have a saying "imitation is the sincerest form of flattery". In a few places below, I've done my best to flatter you. Hope you take it in good spirits.

1 Genius, Journal, Knowledge is Power, Pacts, First Low Mystery step a
2 Skill Mastery
3 Second Low Mystery step a
4 First Low Mystery step b
5 Third Low Mystery step a
6 Second Low Mystery step b
7 First Low Mystery step b
8 Third Low Mystery step b
9 Second Low Mystery step c
10 First High Mystery step a
11 Mentor, Third Low Mystery step c
12 Second High Mystery step a
13 Slippery Mind, First High Mystery step b
14 Third High Mystery step a
15 Second High Mystery step b
16 First High Mystery step c
17 Third High Mystery step b
18 Second High Mystery step c
20 Third High Mystery step c

All Magicians have an inner guide which directs them in their studies. Some Magicians regard this as simple intellect. Some Magicians of a more shamanistic bent regard it as a spirit guide. Some Magicians hear the voices of their ancestors. Some know that they are being guided by gods or demons. Whatever this inner guide may be, the presence of it is what separates Magicians from the ordinary man or woman. Their inner guide influences Magicians throughout their lives, but it is during moments of sublime union with it that sheer genius can occur.
Magicians can temporarily increase their skill levels through the performance of various rituals – rituals which are meant to draw them temporarily into closer union with their inner guide.

A Magician collects a large number of manuscripts and notes. These may be given to him by his superiors or collected on his journeys. Such manuscripts have a value given as a number from one to one thousand and they have a subject matter. The Magician can use these collected works to assist his performance of mysteries.
A.) The Magician finds material – perhaps inscribed on an obelisk, he makes a copy of it
B.) The writings are in a language the Magician doesn’t recognize, the GM has him roll a Decipher Script skill check to figure out their meaning, the Sorcerer makes the roll
C.) The GM tells the Magician that the inscription contains information about the various planes of existence; the GM tells the Magician that the inscription has a rating of “5” in Perform (Ritual)
D.) The Magician’s library on Perform(Ritual), to date, has a rating of 47, so the rating of his library is increased by 5 to 52.
E.) Later, the Magician is planning to summon a demon to force it to assist him on a project. He needs to make a Perform(Ritual) roll. He decides to take the time and use his library to assist him. His library has a rating of 57 in Perform(Ritual), so he rounds that number to the nearest 100 and then divides that number by 100 to determine its bonus. His library has a bonus of 1. He rolls to have his library “aid another” on his spell. He rolls 1d20 and adds his library’s bonus. If he rolls over “10”, his library can aid him. He makes the roll and gets a +2 to his Perform (Ritual) roll.
It takes 10 minutes for a Magician to consult his journal.

Knowledge is Power:
As per the PHB

Cosmopolitan (2nd level):
The Magician may take feats without regards to racial restriction. He/she must fulfill all other prereqs for those feats, however.

Skill Mastery (2nd level):
As per the PHB

Mentor (11th level)
A Magician of 11th level or higher may mentor another character and, thereby, help that other character perform an action. Mentoring another character is a free action (though it can only be done once per round) and the other character must be able to hear the Magician’s advice. If the Magician has a relevant knowledge skill (the GM decides what is relevant), then he rolls as per “aid another”. Note that the Magician uses a relevant knowledge skill to aid any skill or attack roll.
When a Magician mentors another character, the bonus the other character receives is either
The Magician’s WIS bonus to any skill
Or half the Magician’s WIS bonus to combat rolls
A Magician may aid himself in this way.

Slippery Mind (13th level)


Magicians are consumed with passion, but this passion can lead them to danger.
Demons often tempt Magicians with knowledge known only to them, offering to bestow such knowledge on them in return for some dark deed. It is only the purest of heart that are able to resist these evil lures. Consequently, most Magicians end up mad or hopelessly corrupted.
A Magician may, at any point, attempt to make a pact with a demon. The terms of this pact are that the Magician receive some number of fate points. In addition, the Magician receives an equal number of points of corruption. Finally, the Magician must agree to seal the pact by performing some dark deed the demon chooses. Fate points achieved from a pact must be used within one round, but the corruption points last until the Magician repents. The Magician may decline the pact once he knows the nature of the dark deed demanded (thus, choosing not to seal the pact and not receiving either the corruption or fate points). However, demons are not well-known for forgiveness. This is a fact Magicians should carefully consider before reneging on a pact they have sealed.

Magicians spend their lives mastering skills and knowledge. Further, they are assisted in this life long study by their inner guide. It should come as no surprise, then, that they develop a deeper understanding of various skills and knowledge than is available to the common man. This is reflected in the acquisition of mysteries. There are two types of mysteries; low and high. Low mysteries include; high alchemy, warding, cursing, soothsaying, charms, prestidigitation, necromancy, and nature magic. High mysteries are more powerful and include; elementalism, shape-shifting, malediction, diabolism, and high witchery.
Whenever Magicians qualify to receive a Mystery, they may instead elect to take skill focus at step a, adept at step b, and one other feat of their choice at step c.

The general power of a mystery is measured by its rank. To determine its rank, each time a mystery is used, roll 1d20 and add one-half the number of skill ranks the character has in the key skill for that mystery (including all bonuses (such as skill focus) except the stat modifier, add the stat modifier but don’t halve it). Subtract from this number any modifiers from the mods added to the mystery (see below). The result is the mystery’s rank. The rank is the saving throw DC for the mystery and may affect the mystery in other ways as well (see the individual mystery descriptions). Note that the Magician may take 10 and take 20 when determining the rank of the mystery. The Magician may also apply skill mastery when determining the mystery’s rank. All modifiers which apply to skills (such as aid another, modifiers from tools, etc.) apply when determining a mystery’s rank (though halve them as described above).

Mods boost what mysteries can achieve – for example, mods enable mysteries to affect more people at a time, or make their effects permanent, etc. Each time a mod is applied to a mystery, the Magician must pay a fate point (so a mod which is applied twice to a single use of a mystery costs two fate points). Each mod also reduces the mystery’s rank for each time it is applied – see Mystery Power above.

Rank Modifier: -5
Certain abilities so identified may be cast ahead of time and set to go into effect when a specified contingency is met (for example, “trigger this curse on whoever strikes me with a melee weapon”). Affecting such a contingency is a quickened action. Only one contingency can be in held in waiting on a character at a time. The triggering condition must be something the Magician can identify using his own senses (for example, the Magician can’t say “trigger this mystery if Captain Blud enters the city” if the Magician has no other way of knowing when Captain Blud enters the city).

Affect Crowd:
Rank Modifier: -2 per additional doubling of targets, all targets must be within range of the Magician
Normally a mystery which targets an opponent only affects one opponent. A Magician may apply Affect Crowd to increase the number of targets. He takes a -2 to the mystery’s rank if he targets two opponents, -4 if he targets 4 opponents, -6 if he targets 8 opponents, etc.

Rank Modifier: -10
A Magician may render an effect permanent. The number of fate points used to activate the mystery (including mods) must be paid every month by the Magician. Further, he must pay double the number of fate points upon initiating the effect. This fate point cost may be paid by another character assuming both the Magician and the other character agree.

Low Mysteries

Key Skill; Knowledge (Arcane)
Warding is the art of protecting one’s self and others against the malevolent forces of the supernatural
The following abilities are gained at the following steps
A: Ward
Components: V, S
Casting Time: One standard action
Range: Personal
Target: One or more spells already affecting you or one spell about to affect you
Duration: Instantaneous
For each spell already affecting the Magician when it is cast, the Magician casting warding may make an attempt to dispel it. If this mystery has a higher rank then the magical effect it is attempting to dispel, then it succeeds, else wise it fails.
The Magician may prepare this mystery as a readied action to be cast as soon as an enemy effects a magical effect. Performing this mystery in this way dispels the magical effect before it even begins.

B: Greater Warding
Steps: Contingency

C: Empyrean Shield
Components: V, S
Casting Time: One standard action
Range: Touch
Duration: I round/mystery rank or until discharged, whichever comes first
Saving Throw: See text
By exercising this mystery, the Magician can attempt to ward himself and others against the influence of evil supernatural forces, but at great risk. Upon performing the mystery, the Magician is surrounded by shimmering, white, energy.
Whenever an evil supernatural being touches this aura, the aura immediately explodes in a brilliant flash of light and the mystery terminates. At this time, the Magician and the evil being must both make Will saving throws. The one who makes his save by the least or fails his save by the most immediately becomes a power sink for the spell’s energy. That being is pushed backwards a number of feet equal to the rank of the mystery and falls prone. He also takes 1d6 damage per the mystery’s rank (Fort save for half).
The Magician receives a +4 to his Will save against this mystery when he performs it. If the evil being loses the contest and is not native to this plane, it must make a second Will save to resist being sent back to the plane it came from. Magical attacks by evil beings trigger the mystery just as if the evil being physically attacked the Magician.
To avoid triggering the mystery, the evil being can choose to take -4 on its attack rolls and magical attacks against the Magician.
The Magician may choose to perform this mystery upon others so as to make them the recipient of its effects. The recipient must be willing. When performing this mystery, the Magician decides if he or the recipient will be the one to receive the penalties if the contest is lost.
Key Skill: Craft(herbalism)
The following abilities are gained at the following steps
A: Lesser Ill-Fortune
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Evil Eye, Touch, or Magical Link
Target: One creature
Duration: One day
Saving Throw: Will negates
A Magician places a curse on a victim. The victim suffers a -4 luck penalty to all attack rolls, saving throws, ability checks, skill checks, and dodge/parry
B: Ill-Fortune
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Evil Eye, Touch, or Magical Link
Target: One creature
Duration: One day
Saving Throw: Will negates
The Magician can choose from any of the following effects when casting this spell:
• Bound to the Earth: The target automatically fails all Climb and Swim checks.
• Fool: The target loses 4 points of Wisdom or his Wisdom is lowered to 7, whichever is lower.
• Hated by Wild Animals: If the target approaches within 20 feet of any wild animal or vermin, or within 40 feet of a specific species of wild animal or vermin
(caster’s choice), the animal immediately attacks and fights to the death.
• Impotence/Infertility: The target is unable to satisfy and impregnate a woman (if male) or unable to bring forth offspring (if female).
• Troubled Sleep: The target’s sleep is troubled by nightmares and strange
unsettling visions. The sleep-deprived target is always fatigued.

C: Greater Ill-Fortune
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Evil Eye, Touch, or Magical Link
Target: One creature
Duration: One day
Saving Throw: Will negates
The sorcerer can choose from any of the following effects when casting this spell:
• Aged Before His Time: The target physically ages by two age categories and
suffers all negative effects of aging, but none of the positive effects.
• Blindness: The target becomes blind.
• Evil Eye: The target automatically fails all saving throws of a specific type (Fortitude, Reflex or Will), as selected by the sorcerer.
• Lame Limb: One of the target’s limbs (caster’s choice as to which) becomes lame and useless. A lame foot reduces speed by half and makes it impossible to run. A lame arm cannot grasp a weapon or shield.

Steps: Contingency, Affect Crowd, Permanency

Key Skill: Sense Motive
Practicing the ability to sense others’ motives, the Magician has slowly developed a refined intuition which extends outward into the world as a whole, tapping into the mystical forces of the Universe and bringing revelation
The following abilities are gained at the following steps
A: Read the Omens
Components: V, S, M
Casting Time: 1 minute
Range: Personal
Target: You
Duration: Instantaneous
Reading the Omens can tell you whether the omens are right and if a particular action will bring good or bad results for you in the immediate future.
The GM determines the target number for a successful reading and rolls a sense motive skill check (using the caster’s sense motive) against that target number/
A question may be so straightforward that a successful result is automatic, or so vague as to have no chance of success. If the omen reading succeeds, you get one of four results:
• Weal (if the action will probably bring good results).
• Woe (for bad results).
• Weal and woe (for both).
• Nothing (for actions that don’t have especially good or bad results).
If the spell fails, you get the “nothing” result. A caster who gets the “nothing” result has no way to tell whether it was the consequence of a failed or successful reading of the omens.
The omen reading can see into the future only about half an hour, so anything that might happen after that does not affect the result. Thus, the result might not take into account the long-term
consequences of a contemplated action. All omen readings cast by the same person about the same topic use the same dice result as the first casting.

B: Precognition
Components: V, S, M or F
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Personal or Touch
Effect: Magical sensor (see below)
Duration: 10 min/skill level
Saving Throw: None or Will negates (harmless)
This mystery grants you a powerful sixth sense in relation to yourself or others. The Magician uses various divination techniques to gain insight into the recipient’s near future. Once precognition is activated, the Magician receives instantaneous warnings of impending danger or harm to the subject of the spell. Thus, if the caster is the subject of the spell, he/she would be warned in advance if a rogue were about to attempt a sneak attack on him/her, or if a creature were about to leap out from a hiding place or if an attacker were specifically attacking the caster with magic or a ranged weapon. This affect of the mystery works as a second spot check (but using Sense Motive as the base skill) and it can be used regardless of whether the Magician has the senses to detect the danger he is under. When the Magician has this affect activated, he can make a Sense Motive skill vs. the opponent’s bluff skill check to avoid being caught flat-footed or surprised and he has uncanny dodge equal to his sense motive skill rank minus three . In addition, the mystery gives the Magician a general idea of what to do to avoid the danger (i.e., duck, jump, close his eyes, etc.) and the Magician receives a +2 to reflex saves, dodge rolls, and initiative.
When the Magician uses the mystery on another person, the Magician knows when that person is in danger, but must alert that person – the Magician has just enough time to yank the person out of harm’s way, to shout a warning, etc. That person does not receive a +2 to reflex, dodge, and initiative.
Only one person can benefit from this mystery at a time by the same Magician.

C: Dreams of Wisdom and Terror
Components: V, S, M or F
Casting Time: 1 night
Range: Personal or Touch
Effect: Magical sensor (see below)
Duration: see below
Saving Throw: None or Will negates (harmless)
This mystery attempts a dangerous act – to cast the Magician’s mind into the Outer Dark in search of insight to some problem. This spell is cast while the Magician sleeps, his spirit rising from his body and traveling to the Outer Dark while his body remains behind in a near comatose state.
The further you cast your mind into the Outer Dark, the more likely you will find the answer you seek, but the more likely you will come away from the experience insane. Thus, you choose the level of risk you take.
The alien nature of the beings in the Outer Dark means that you will be unable to get anything more than a simple yes/no answer to any question you ask – any further answer would be incomprehensible to you anyway.
The Magician should select from the following table, how deeply into the Outer Dark he wishes to go in search of answers. The GM then rolls secretly to determine the truthfulness and knowledge of the being the Magician consults.

Level Insanity Bluff
1 8 10
2 11 15
3 14 20
4 17 25
5 20 30
6 23 35

These beings will always seek to deceive the Magician. The Magician is betting that he can sense when the being is lying and, so, use that to help him figure out the truth.
To resolve this, the being has a skill level in bluff which is compared against the Magician’s sense motive. If the Magician’s skill check is higher than the being’s skill check, the Magician can tell whether or not the being is telling the truth (sometimes the being will tell the truth in the hopes of throwing the Magician off the scent). If the being’s skill check beats the Magician’s skill check by 10, then the Magician gets the reverse impression (that is, that the being is lying when it is actually telling the truth or vice versa).
The Magician can ask as many questions as he desires, however, every question asked prolongs the Magician’s stay in the Outer Dark and increases the chances that the Magician will go insane. Every time the caster asks a question, he must make a Will save vs. the DC listed in the table. If he fails the roll, he is immediately pulled back to his body, the mystery ends, and he contracts a mild insanity. If he fails the save by 5 or more, he develops a major insanity.
Steps: none

Key Skill: Perform
A; Entrance
Components: S, M or F
Casting Time: One full round
Range: Evil Eye
Target: One creature
Duration: Concentration
Saving Throw: Will negates
As per PHB except that save is vs. Mystery’s rank.

B; Hypnotic Suggestion
Components: V, S
Casting Time: One standard action
Range: Evil Eye
Target: One creature
Duration: 10 minutes plus one minute/Mystery’s rank or until completed
Saving Throw: Will negates
As per PHB with the following changes
1.) The Mystery can affect a character of any hit die
2.) The Mystery may be affected upon animals. The Magician is unable to give specific orders to the animal, but may influence the animal’s emotional state. The Magician may enrage the animal. This ability affects animals of any hit die. Other than specified above, when using this ability to enrage animals, the Mystery functions as per Savage Beast in the PHB.

C: Domination
Components: V, S
Casting Time: One standard action
Range: Evil Eye
Target: One creature
Duration: Concentration
Saving Throw: See below
The Magician’s ability to charm has developed into the ability to fully dominate others. To achieve this total domination effect is strenuous and the Mystery’s rank is reduced by 4 in addition to any other modifiers, however the Magician may affect a character of any hit die less than his own. The Magician and his target must share a common language.
Targets receive an additional attempt to save anytime the Magician attempts to force them to do something against their nature. (and they receive a bonus of +1 to +4 depending on the action they are being forced to do). Obviously self-destructive orders (including “die”) would be worth a +4 bonus.
Among other uses of this spell, the Magician can cause the target to fall asleep, as well as remove short-term memories from the target (such as the memory of having seen the Magician in the first place).
Once command is established, the range at which it can be exercised is unlimited, but new orders must be communicated by other means (missives, shouting, etc.).

Steps: Affect Crowd, Permanence

Key Skill: Knowledge (History)
A Necromancer is a speaker for the dead. Among ancestor worshippers, necromancers can have an honored place at the king’s table. In cultures with a more tangible fear of the dead, necromancers can be terrifying.

A: Channel Spirit
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Touch or special
Duration: Concentration + 1d6 rounds
The definitive mystery of the Necromancer, this mystery enables the Necromancer Magician to function as a medium – bringing spirits of the dead into his body so that they might provide guidance. Using this mystery, the Magician can use the Necromancy key skill in place of any other skill roll. However, there is a risk. The Magician must open himself up to the supernatural before he can channel the dead and when he opens himself up in this manner, there is a chance that an evil spirit, perhaps a demon, will take advantage and attempt to possess the Magician.
In addition, the Magician may attempt to summon a specific spirit. To do so, he must touch the corpse of the dead being when performing this mystery. He still risks an attack by evil spirits as detailed above. If he successfully resists such an attack, he may ask the specific spirit one yes/no question. The corpse will become animated by the spirit and speak an answer (assuming it is able to speak – that is, it is missing neither a jaw or tongue).

B: Chill of the Grave
Components: V
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Evil Eye
Duration: see below
Saving Throw: Will negates
The Magician draws upon the energy of the beings he has been channeling and projects that energy out from him. All who look upon him are stricken with the terror of the unknown. They must make will saves to negate the effect. Note that beings can only be affected once per combat per Magician. Attempts beyond the first have no affect.

C: Raise Corpse
Components: V, S
Casting Time: 1 standard action
Range: Close (25ft + 5ft per two levels)
Target: Up to one corpse/skill level
Duration: Concentration + 1d6 rounds
Saving Throw: See below
Eventually, as the Magician practices the mystery of Necromancy, the spirits of the dead become more easily compelled to perform as he requests/demands. They may become willing to or he may be able to compel them to return to their meat bodies and, at least temporarily, into a semblance of life.
This spell turns the bodies of dead creatures into undead zombies that follow the sorcerer’s spoken commands. The zombies can follow the sorcerer, remain in an area and attack any creatures (or just a specific type of creature) that enters the place or perform simple actions according to the sorcerer’s commands. The zombies remain animated until destroyed or until the Magician de-animates them (which requires another Knowledge (history) roll) or until the magic animating them is dispelled (via Warding). A destroyed zombie may not be animated again.
The zombies the sorcerer creates remain under his control for the duration of the spell. At the expiry of the spell, they become simple corpses once more, falling in lifeless heaps wherever they stand.
A zombie can be created only from the mostly intact corpse of a humanoid or animal and its statistics depend more upon the corpse it was created from than upon any ability it had in life. See page 387 for details on the risen dead.
When this mystery is affected upon the already risen dead, a skill vs. skill check is required. Whoever wins that skill check gains control of the risen dead.

Key skill: Sleight of Hand
A: Conjuration/Conjure Item
Conjuration as per PHB. If someone wishes to determine the cause of the effect, they must win a Spot vs. Sleight of Hand skill contest against the Scholar.
Conjure Item as per PHB. Appraise DC is vs. the mystery’s rank.

B: Telekinesis/ Greater Telekinesis/Deflection:
Telekinesis as per PHB. Deflection as per PHB. In place of the magic attack roll (when parrying) use the mystery’s rank.

C: Blast Wave/Greater Telekinesis/Burst Barrier
Blast Wave as per PHB except that the targets are pushed back 1 foot per each rank of the mystery.
Burst Barrier as per PHB
Greater Telekinesis as per PHB except, when performing hidden death, use Sleight of Hand in place of Bluff.

Key Skill: Tumble
A: Feather Fall, Jump, Evasion
B: Haste, Blur
C: Dimension Door
Dear LT,
Could you please draft a sample 13th level magician.
I am having a sense about the character, but find it difficult to picture stat-wise and ability-wise.
I like the journal. I'm not sure if I like exactly how it works... but the concept of using some sort of mechanic to reflect that gathering of knowledge/resources is a good thing.
Sorry its taken awhile for me to respond. I wanted to be more active on this, but I've had some medical issues - two herniated disks. Combine that with some trouble with my Internet service and that's why I haven't posted in awhile.
I intend to respond (as quickly as I can), but thank you both for your comments - I depend on them to polish the class.