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D&D General Bards & Sorcerers & Summoners & Warlocks & Witches & Wizards oh my!

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
The Strixhaven thread has a lot of people voicing their differing opinions on the Warlock in particular. Expanding that a bit because I'm curious and thinking about it (and going beyond just 5e), what do you particularly like/miss/wish for in the variety of arcane spell caster types?

The spell casting details?
*Blaster, small, or big list to pick from
*Memorize each slot or spontaneous from your list
*Points and not slots
*Spells that expand by level use
*Metamagic feats

The non-spell and sub-class abilities?

The prime requisite used by the class?

The fluff?
*Memorizer specialist who doesn't have access to everything anyway (Wizard)
*Natural born (Sorcerer)
*Granted by a more powerful external power (Warlock or Witch)
*Gained in part by a summoned creature (like some later Jack Vance ones)
*Traveling scholar who randomly uses songs for some things (Bard)

Whether the spark to start learning spells starts things off or limits later?

Whether the martial classes can do it to?

Whether the spell lists differ between the arcanes, or from the non-arcanes?
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I'm pondering this for some world building, and keep bouncing between something traditional, and something wide open.

Is there any reason that each of trained, natural born, or pact powered couldn't have a reason to be a big list (close to 3.5 wizard) or small list (close to 3.5 sorcerer) caster? Do some sorcerer and warlock ideas work best with any of Int, Wis, or Chr as the prime-requisite?

If you go for flexible, what's the best way to present it? By power source, or how the spells are used? Any reason to not allow the ability scores to be sloshed around if it seems to make sense? Could one ability be used for number of spells and another for determining saves needed?
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
The fluff?
*Memorizer (Wizard)
*Natural born (Sorcerer)
*Granted by a more powerful external power (Warlock or Witch)
*Gained in part by a summoned creature (like some later Jack Vance ones)

Whether the spark to start learning spells starts things off or limits later?

Whether the martial classes can do it to?

I'll start it off with my preference of both casters and warriors being split into classes between the naturally talented, the studied master, and various versions of granted power.

I think wizards got better in story and mechanics as the sorcerer prodigy and warlocks empowered were pulled out of it. Attempts to fold it back just muddies it into confusing soft magic. I hope for the day when the fighter receives the same treatment as it would help clarify the ideas of it in the mind of the community into similar concepts.

If D&D is gonna be class based, Ogg, Professor Petronius, and Dark Zee should be different classes even if their enemies die of similar wounds.
 

Shroompunk Warlord

Archdruid of the Warp Zones
I have been thinking about the same thing myself, in relation to Spells & Magic, which has a spellpoint casting system which can be applied to 3-4 alternative spellcasting systems (each) for Mages and Priests. It also includes things like fixed (prepared) versus free magics, and different spell point costs based on the Minor/Major access for Priests.

So I kinda want to have the Arcanist (PF)/Wizard (5e) type Mage, who can free cast from their spellbook if they're willing to pay extra. (And can burn spells into their memory to always have them fixed/prepared, for proficiency slots.) Probably shoot for some kind of "focused specialist" system.

The default "priest" type magic is Warmage-style, where Priests cast all of their spells free-cast, but can take signature spells like Mages.

Take a page from Rolemaster and have Mentalists as "spellcasters", probably looking a lot like Sorcerers, and kinda like a cross between AD&D Monks and Spells & Magic Monks.

Bards would use the Mage rules, but their spell list is composed of a mish-mash of Mage and Priest-- think Song Mage + Druid.

Then there's... all the setting-specific stuff I could get into, the race-as-class stuff. Dragon Shamans. Shugenja, Sha'ir. Witches and Warlocks.

Beyond the varying degrees of fixed and free magic, there's also stuff for different kinds of costs and risks associated with magic, that I could attach different values to different classes.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
One of the things that I keep stumbling over is how the magic classifies in terms of source/flavor/type/usefulness, etc... and that the English language is horrible at distinguishing because all of the words were used interchangeably for so long. I like @Minigiant 's thoughts above and go down that route a bit below.

Trying to separate them, I wonder if one main categorizations isn't Arcane/Divine from past editions, but rather:
  • Incantation - the casting of spells and working of magic directly without individual intervention of a spirit/higher power - e.g. Wizards and Sorcerers.
  • Invocation - the casting of spells and working of magic requires the intervention of a spirit/higher power for that individual spell - Cleric spells level 3+ in 1e. It feels like theurgy, some forms of witchcraft, maybe Vance's later wizards, and some implementations of shaman fall here.
1623418984953.png


Within the invocation part is how they began to get those spells:
  • Training - anyone can do it (some Wizards; did Mouser just pick it up by being trained?)
  • Spark - it takes a special gift to do it, like some Wizards (Harry Potter) or Sorcerers
  • Imbued - the spark was lit by someone, like Necromancers in 5e
Is there any use going down this rabbit hole?
 
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One of the things that I keep falling back on is how the magic classifies in terms of source/flavor/type/usefulness, etc... and that the English language is horrible at distinguishing because all of the words were used interchangeably for so long.

Trying to separate them, I wonder if one main categorization is:
  • Incantation - the casting of spells and working of magic directly without individual intervention of a spirit/higher power - e.g. Wizards and Sorcerers.
  • Invocation - the casting of spells and working of magic requires the intervention of a spirit/higher power for that individual spell - Cleric spells level 3+ in 1e.
View attachment 138129

Within the invocation part is how they began to get those spells:
  • Training - anyone can do it (some Wizards; did Mouser just pick it up by being trained?)
  • Spark - it takes a special gift to do it, like some Wizards (Harry Potter) or Sorcerers
  • Imbued - the spark was lit by someone, like Necromancers in 5e
Is there any use going down this rabbit hole?
I actually use 4 different kinds of Magic.

1) Arcane Magic. This is either learning or intuiting the nature of the universe and manipulating it.
2) Divine Magic. This is the Gods lending you some small measure of their Divine Essence which you use in prescribed ways.
3) Occult Magic. Ancient "True" Magic. Largely Representational in Nature, it touches on things mortals are not meant to know.
4) Primal Magic. The Elements, The Storm, Cycles of Life and Death, Manipulating them is a nexus between Divine, Arcane, and Occult Magics.

And then each magic has Sources.

Arcane Magic gets the Within and the Without. Without casters (Wizards, Eldritch Knights, Artificers, Arcane Tricksters) are using the magic of the world and rely on its presence. They're powerless in Dead Magic or Antimagic Zones. Within casters (Sorcerers, Magical Creatures) contain their own magic as a spark inside of themselves that can be passed down in families. They're only able to affect themselves in Antimagic or Dead Magic Zones.

Divine Magic gets the Gods and the Angels. The Gods provide divine power to Priests as reward for faith and belief so they can show the power of the Gods in the world. Angels empower Paladins who hold to strict oaths to enact change in the world. Any character with the Divine in them -tangibly- has godly power radiating outward. It cannot be hidden. Works normally in places of Dead Magic, but not if the blessing is withdrawn or your are beyond the reach of the Entity providing your power. (Also Churches and Temples literally have the feeling of the presence of the divine in them unless they've been defiled)

Occult Magic can come from The Gone, The Self, and The Unknown. The Gone are Vestiges, essentially remnants of what were, or could have been, people or Gods who still contain impressive amounts of power but lack enough "Self" to enact it. The Self is Monks, basically. Manipulating your own spiritual and emotional energies into magic. And the Unknown is dreams and the Vaktu Kai, ancient elder entities said to dwell in the darkness between stars. The Self and the Gone function on yourself in a Dead Magic zone, but the Unknown functions a lot like Divine Magic from a different, terrible, source.

Primal Magic comes from Animals, Plants, the Elements, the Storm, and the Reaping. Each is fairly self-explanatory, but the Reaping is specifically the process of death and rot.

Each one also has it's own version of Spell Components which have different rules.

Arcane Magic gets your standard V/S/M with optional Focus. It's the baseline.

Divine Magic gets Prayer (Audible no more than 10ft away), a Focus (Holy Symbol), and a Signal, which is a strong specific gesture related to your faith that everyone in the area can see. You cannot signal subtly.

Occult Magic gets Chanting (Clearly audible from 30ft away and in a monotone), Sacrifice (Effigies or symbols, mostly, but sometimes small animals or even your own Hit Dice), and a Focus. A symbol of your source that must be presented openly. Sometimes these focuses are worn, other times they're branded or tattooed into flesh.

Primal Magic makes Animal Calls or Nature Sounds (Audible from 60ft, usable in animal forms), Totems (Effigies or pieces of animals or plants), and Sacrifices (generally spell components but occasionally insects or small animals like lizards and mice. May include hit dice).

And then Psionics are their own separate but connected thing. It's a nonmagical supernatural power that some creatures can tap into thanks to the Five Fates.

Other fun note: There are no Arcane Necromancy or Divination Spells or Schools. Those typically go to the Occult spell lists and are often considered "Black Magics". Primal and Divine casters both get access to Divination spells, too, but it's not viewed as black magic in those cases.
 

Oh, uh... Bards are Occultists in my system. But their magic specifically breaks the Chanting function by allowing them to sing or otherwise perform magic through music. Like Monks they use the Self. Specifically emotions and ideals as a power-source for their spellcasting abilities. Though more than a few bards touch on the Vestige of the Fiddler.

A musician in life, a bard of great power, the Fiddler was defeated and trapped within the Wasteland (Plane of Broken Things, where the Gods discard their failures and where mortal dreams and aspirations go to fade). Over time, the Fiddler's identity broke down through the power of the Wasteland to break beings and ideas and objects down to their most quintessential elements, but the Fiddler was not destroyed. Instead, the Fiddler became the Quintessence of Minstrel Bards and offers ancient musics and strange melodies to those who deal with the Fiddler.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
I actually use 4 different kinds of Magic.

1) Arcane Magic. This is either learning or intuiting the nature of the universe and manipulating it.
2) Divine Magic. This is the Gods lending you some small measure of their Divine Essence which you use in prescribed ways.
3) Occult Magic. Ancient "True" Magic. Largely Representational in Nature, it touches on things mortals are not meant to know.
4) Primal Magic. The Elements, The Storm, Cycles of Life and Death, Manipulating them is a nexus between Divine, Arcane, and Occult Magics.

And then each magic has Sources.

Arcane Magic gets the Within and the Without. Without casters (Wizards, Eldritch Knights, Artificers, Arcane Tricksters) are using the magic of the world and rely on its presence. They're powerless in Dead Magic or Antimagic Zones. Within casters (Sorcerers, Magical Creatures) contain their own magic as a spark inside of themselves that can be passed down in families. They're only able to affect themselves in Antimagic or Dead Magic Zones.

Divine Magic gets the Gods and the Angels. The Gods provide divine power to Priests as reward for faith and belief so they can show the power of the Gods in the world. Angels empower Paladins who hold to strict oaths to enact change in the world. Any character with the Divine in them -tangibly- has godly power radiating outward. It cannot be hidden. Works normally in places of Dead Magic, but not if the blessing is withdrawn or your are beyond the reach of the Entity providing your power. (Also Churches and Temples literally have the feeling of the presence of the divine in them unless they've been defiled)

Occult Magic can come from The Gone, The Self, and The Unknown. The Gone are Vestiges, essentially remnants of what were, or could have been, people or Gods who still contain impressive amounts of power but lack enough "Self" to enact it. The Self is Monks, basically. Manipulating your own spiritual and emotional energies into magic. And the Unknown is dreams and the Vaktu Kai, ancient elder entities said to dwell in the darkness between stars. The Self and the Gone function on yourself in a Dead Magic zone, but the Unknown functions a lot like Divine Magic from a different, terrible, source.

Primal Magic comes from Animals, Plants, the Elements, the Storm, and the Reaping. Each is fairly self-explanatory, but the Reaping is specifically the process of death and rot.

Each one also has it's own version of Spell Components which have different rules.

Arcane Magic gets your standard V/S/M with optional Focus. It's the baseline.

Divine Magic gets Prayer (Audible no more than 10ft away), a Focus (Holy Symbol), and a Signal, which is a strong specific gesture related to your faith that everyone in the area can see. You cannot signal subtly.

Occult Magic gets Chanting (Clearly audible from 30ft away and in a monotone), Sacrifice (Effigies or symbols, mostly, but sometimes small animals or even your own Hit Dice), and a Focus. A symbol of your source that must be presented openly. Sometimes these focuses are worn, other times they're branded or tattooed into flesh.

Primal Magic makes Animal Calls or Nature Sounds (Audible from 60ft, usable in animal forms), Totems (Effigies or pieces of animals or plants), and Sacrifices (generally spell components but occasionally insects or small animals like lizards and mice. May include hit dice).

And then Psionics are their own separate but connected thing. It's a nonmagical supernatural power that some creatures can tap into thanks to the Five Fates.

Other fun note: There are no Arcane Necromancy or Divination Spells or Schools. Those typically go to the Occult spell lists and are often considered "Black Magics". Primal and Divine casters both get access to Divination spells, too, but it's not viewed as black magic in those cases.

I love having the magic customized to the world and being consistent within it - and that all sounds great about making it tie together. (And there isn't a lot I like about 4e, but the idea of Primal Magic for nature, and it being a separate thing on the level with Arcane and Divine is one of them.

One of the problems I have now is when I design a world I want to do that and have some ideas, but then i think I should make it more general so I can use it later, and then I think of all of the options others might want... and I end up with imagining needing some monstrosity new game system that covers everything right out of the gate. I kind of wish there was a book just full of ideas and blurbs of history and language and examples of all of the different ways a magic system could be customized for a particular campaign world. And then I wonder if sometime in my second 40 years of D&D someone will come up with an AI where we can feed it the world description and it will auto-rejigger the classes and spell lists as a rough draft that it can help refine.

I'm thinking of a game that peters out with about 3rd level spells (so like E6 from 3.5 or P6 from PF), and what sort of cosmology I need and everything (prime material plane, combined feywild/shadow-realm/spirit realms touching it where they only ever see parts like in the fairy stories, and then in the great beyond there are theories of energy planes that the Gods use but no one will ever see those or the outer planes). So I've tentatively got...

Arcane flavored - Wizards (studied casters), Sorcerers (inborn casting), Witches/Warlocks (granted casting from a patron), and maybe Alchemists/Runecasters (imbuing a potion or rune with magic to be used later)

Divine - Clerics (channel one of the various elemental/fundamental planes and then limited spells)

Spirit - Shamans/Invokers (call over spirits from the spirit realm to do things)

Primal - Druids (magnify things that are already in the "natural world"; call lightning as opposed to lightning bolt, for example).

But then I get hung up on if it matters which ability score each keys off of, or if there is no big deal in letting there be a choice if it seems on theme. And then I wonder how bad cross-over is (should there be a sorcerous or witch flavored Wizard? should some studious clerics learn spells more generally instead of doing the combat thing?).

I suppose the trick is to finish all of my actual work each day, and then just jump in and start typing stuff up, while keeping a list of things to the side to be distracted with later.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
One of the things that I keep stumbling over is how the magic classifies in terms of source/flavor/type/usefulness, etc... and that the English language is horrible at distinguishing because all of the words were used interchangeably for so long.

Trying to separate them, I wonder if one main categorizations isn't Arcane/Divine from past editions, but rather:
  • Incantation - the casting of spells and working of magic directly without individual intervention of a spirit/higher power - e.g. Wizards and Sorcerers.
  • Invocation - the casting of spells and working of magic requires the intervention of a spirit/higher power for that individual spell - Cleric spells level 3+ in 1e. It feels like theurgy, some forms of witchcraft, maybe Vance's later wizards, and some implementations of shaman fall here.
-snip-
Within the invocation part is how they began to get those spells:
  • Training - anyone can do it (some Wizards; did Mouser just pick it up by being trained?)
  • Spark - it takes a special gift to do it, like some Wizards (Harry Potter) or Sorcerers
  • Imbued - the spark was lit by someone, like Necromancers in 5e
Is there any use going down this rabbit hole?
In my homebrew/houseruled game system (and setting) I make this exact distinction.
  • Incantation: The casting of spells. The "magic words." The gestures/hand symbols, tracing glyphs in the air or whatnot, rubbing a rabbit's foot = "spell effect." The specific formulae. As you note, the inherent energies/power being harnessed by the magic-worker. It is, for the most part, the method of Arcane casters, though Druids use it too (and I'll get to that in a minute).
  • Invocation: literally, the definition of the word, of "calling on/down." You have to have an "external" power/spirit/entity involved who you are appealing to (or begging, or demanding, or bargaining, or otherwise asking for). The magic/power is theirs. You're just, kinda, a conduit for it. The power belongs to the entity(-ties) and it is only by your connection to them -be that religious/spiritual devotion, a "faustian" pact, some "origin-story" connection, whatever something that puts you "in tune/on the frequency" of the "outer"/other power. So, clearly, Divine casters are the main users of this method. Clerics, being the default/"base" example. Paladins, Druids, but also D&D-style Warlocks and for my setting/game, Bards, as well.
The Arcane/Divine divide, for me, has always been something of an insufficient distinction. More because I think there is definitely an ignored divide between Divine and Nature/Natural [4e finally tried to make it a thing, apparently, called "Primal." But I never played 4e.].

So, beyond the pure "fluff" of there being separate kinds of magic, I think something the game has never done adequately is really given the different Magics, themselves, substantial and at least some meaningful mechanical divisions. I mean, diffrerent casters have different mechanics...but they tend to be in the "how you do spellcasting" ...while kind of "glossing over" the differences of the kinds of Magics they are actually working with. Now, granted, that is likely intentional so that different games/settings can "define"
those things for themselves...if they choose to bother doing so at all. So, I get that, but think that games (and settings) are only improved by having a bit more thought/definition put into the "in game/in universe" nature and/or origins, what the energies are/come from...the "metaphysics" or 'esoterics," if you will, of it all.

What those are, I think is a really creative part of the world-building that often goes unexamined.

In my homebrew, there are Divine (from the gods), Arcane (ambient to the cosmos/multiverse), and Nature Magic (ambient to the "natural/material world" includes the elements, life/death/rebirth). The Cleric (who works primarily via invocation), the Mage (who works primarily via incantation), and the Druid (who straddles both) are the primary casters, respectively. I also have a base Psychic Class that falls under the "Arcane" umbrella in that it is a personal/individual [mental energy/generated] powers.


There are other differentiations in casting mechanics and stuff, but the casters all feel
 

Based on what you have presented, here's what I would do:

Arcane: Most magic users are Arcane casters, and it has the widest range of spells.
1) Wizards and Artificers Study. They come to understand the fundamental forces of the universe and have minimal limitations on their spell choices (All Arcane Spells). They use their Intelligence Modifier when casting spells because they're recalling information and putting it into action.
2) Sorcerers are Born or Empowered. Rather than having to study magic, Sorcerers have an intuitive understanding of spellcasting based on the spark of magic inside themselves. They have spells based on that spark (Limited but broad list). They use their Wisdom Modifier when casting spells because it's representing their awareness of the flow of magic inside and around them.
3) Warlocks Bargain. They use borrowed or stolen power from external sources, but their options are limited by their source (Most limited Arcane spell list). They use Charisma for spellcasting because it represents their ability to convince their patron to grant them power.

Divine: Clerics are rare, special, and important. Limited spellcasting structure, but great power for other purposes.
1) Clerics Channel. Rather than learning magic, or being magical, or bargaining for magic, Clerics make themselves into a Vessel for the power held by higher beings and other planes of existence. They use Constitution as their casting score, to represent that their bodies literally burn out from the power traveling through them.

Spirit: Shaman and Invokers are often spiritual leaders of small groups.
Shaman ask for Aid. Shamans call for aid from the Spirit Realm, entreating the spirits to act on their behalf, to empower their weapons, or to give them power to direct at enemies. They use Charisma as their casting because it represents their ability to persuade the spirits to act on their behalf.

Primal: Druids are rare, special, and important. They're Clerics who use -this- plane's native power.
Druids focus Power. Rather than holding specific incantations or gestures, Druids channel energy in much the same way as a Cleric would. But rather than asking Gods for power, or reaching across the planes for energy, Druids channel the energy and forces of the world around us. Like Sorcerers, they do so by intuiting the nature of the power available and so use Wisdom as their spellcasting modifier.
 

I actually use 4 different kinds of Magic.

1) Arcane Magic. This is either learning or intuiting the nature of the universe and manipulating it.
2) Divine Magic. This is the Gods lending you some small measure of their Divine Essence which you use in prescribed ways.
3) Occult Magic. Ancient "True" Magic. Largely Representational in Nature, it touches on things mortals are not meant to know.
4) Primal Magic. The Elements, The Storm, Cycles of Life and Death, Manipulating them is a nexus between Divine, Arcane, and Occult Magics.

And then each magic has Sources.

Arcane Magic gets the Within and the Without. Without casters (Wizards, Eldritch Knights, Artificers, Arcane Tricksters) are using the magic of the world and rely on its presence. They're powerless in Dead Magic or Antimagic Zones. Within casters (Sorcerers, Magical Creatures) contain their own magic as a spark inside of themselves that can be passed down in families. They're only able to affect themselves in Antimagic or Dead Magic Zones.

Divine Magic gets the Gods and the Angels. The Gods provide divine power to Priests as reward for faith and belief so they can show the power of the Gods in the world. Angels empower Paladins who hold to strict oaths to enact change in the world. Any character with the Divine in them -tangibly- has godly power radiating outward. It cannot be hidden. Works normally in places of Dead Magic, but not if the blessing is withdrawn or your are beyond the reach of the Entity providing your power. (Also Churches and Temples literally have the feeling of the presence of the divine in them unless they've been defiled)

Occult Magic can come from The Gone, The Self, and The Unknown. The Gone are Vestiges, essentially remnants of what were, or could have been, people or Gods who still contain impressive amounts of power but lack enough "Self" to enact it. The Self is Monks, basically. Manipulating your own spiritual and emotional energies into magic. And the Unknown is dreams and the Vaktu Kai, ancient elder entities said to dwell in the darkness between stars. The Self and the Gone function on yourself in a Dead Magic zone, but the Unknown functions a lot like Divine Magic from a different, terrible, source.

Primal Magic comes from Animals, Plants, the Elements, the Storm, and the Reaping. Each is fairly self-explanatory, but the Reaping is specifically the process of death and rot.

Each one also has it's own version of Spell Components which have different rules.

Arcane Magic gets your standard V/S/M with optional Focus. It's the baseline.

Divine Magic gets Prayer (Audible no more than 10ft away), a Focus (Holy Symbol), and a Signal, which is a strong specific gesture related to your faith that everyone in the area can see. You cannot signal subtly.

Occult Magic gets Chanting (Clearly audible from 30ft away and in a monotone), Sacrifice (Effigies or symbols, mostly, but sometimes small animals or even your own Hit Dice), and a Focus. A symbol of your source that must be presented openly. Sometimes these focuses are worn, other times they're branded or tattooed into flesh.

Primal Magic makes Animal Calls or Nature Sounds (Audible from 60ft, usable in animal forms), Totems (Effigies or pieces of animals or plants), and Sacrifices (generally spell components but occasionally insects or small animals like lizards and mice. May include hit dice).

And then Psionics are their own separate but connected thing. It's a nonmagical supernatural power that some creatures can tap into thanks to the Five Fates.

Other fun note: There are no Arcane Necromancy or Divination Spells or Schools. Those typically go to the Occult spell lists and are often considered "Black Magics". Primal and Divine casters both get access to Divination spells, too, but it's not viewed as black magic in those cases.
I would hard disagree with putting monk and bard in the same category, monks literally have more uncommon with psionics as they both gain power internally, bards always felt oddly put in.

also, a monk would call it mantra not chanting, sports fans chant.
 

I would hard disagree with putting monk and bard in the same category, monks literally have more uncommon with psionics as they both gain power internally, bards always felt oddly put in.

also, a monk would call it mantra not chanting, sports fans chant.
An Orientalist monk would call it a Mantra. And it would still be something chanted in a relatively flat monotone. Monks in the Ashen Lands are not that. I tried to avoid throwing in Southeast Asian stereotyping. So rather than being Wu Xia wirefighters, Monks guard occult knowledge in remote monasteries from those who would use it to do harm. They train with small amounts of occult knowledge, however, to give themselves an edge and all their monk class abilities are basically Warlock Invocations, narratively, without the spellcasting.

Meanwhile Bards tap into some of the same knowledge and power though stuff they pick up little bits of over time from various musics and histories they learn in their travels, and tap into something larger than themselves with an almost subconscious draw toward that power source.
 

An Orientalist monk would call it a Mantra. And it would still be something chanted in a relatively flat monotone. Monks in the Ashen Lands are not that. I tried to avoid throwing in Southeast Asian stereotyping. So rather than being Wu Xia wirefighters, Monks guard occult knowledge in remote monasteries from those who would use it to do harm. They train with small amounts of occult knowledge, however, to give themselves an edge and all their monk class abilities are basically Warlock Invocations, narratively, without the spellcasting.

Meanwhile Bards tap into some of the same knowledge and power though stuff they pick up little bits of over time from various musics and histories they learn in their travels, and tap into something larger than themselves with an almost subconscious draw toward that power source.
the problem of trying to remove the Asian from the monk is what we are trying to copy is fundamental asian in origin, I would rather admit that and get to work with getting it up to snuff than try to remove the cultures that invented it from it.

also occult has connotations of stuff that is evil and disapproved of, neither class has that at all.
 

Remathilis

Legend
I originally liked the idea of the eight(?) power-sources 4e was going to use (martial, arcane, divine, primal, shadow, psionic, elemental, and was there one other?) and I think designing classes or subclasses around these themes would have been ideal. Wizard is the primary arcane caster, cleric for divine, druid for primal, shadow could be warlock, sorcerer should have been elemental, and psion/mystic for psionic. The differences in mechanics could have been more flavorful than overt, but the types of magics should have been focused on unique spells for every source. It would have meant a LOT of spells in the books (and that is probably the #1 reason we don't have more diversity among casters) but it would have made each caster feel unique, even if they are still blasting and healing.

I don't have an idea where the bard or artificer fits in this. Clearly artifice could have been the eighth source if no-other exists, but bard feels odd; not quite psionic despite the emphasis on charms and buffs, but not fully arcane. Hmmm....
 

Minigiant

Legend
Supporter
In my own homebrew Urban Fantasy D&D game, magic is split into many types and subtypes.

  • True Magic- True Magic is simply saying the language of reality. You say it and Reality does it. Reality fights you when you speack True Speech. Mispronunciations are deadly.
    • Arcane- Arcanists speak broken dialects of True Speech themselves. The dialects prevent reality backlash.
      • Wizardry- Wizards study magical formulas to replace TrueSpeech with other words, motions and objects.
      • Sorcery- Sorcerers have True Speech written on their souls via their magical bloodline. Sorcerers meditate to invoke parts of their blood.
      • Warlocky- Warlocks make pacts to with higher beings to be transformed just enough to speech their own magic dialect.
    • Divine- Divine Casters have a Deity Speak for them.
      • Cleiricism- Clerics prayer to gods to have individual gods True Speak spells into them
      • Inquisition- Invokers prayer to gods to take latent True Speech to craft spells against their enemies
    • Primal- Primal Caster have primal spirits Speak for them
      • Druidism- Druid have natural primal spirits Speak for them
      • Shamanism- Shaman have ancestral primal spirits Speak for them
    • Shadow- Shadowcasters snags all the shadows and echoes of other casters to build spells
      • Shadowcasting- Shadowcasters understand the Shadowfell and take the shadow of True Speech to cast spells.
      • Binding- Binders make pact with long gone vestiges and use shadow to speak through them.6
 

the problem of trying to remove the Asian from the monk is what we are trying to copy is fundamental asian in origin, I would rather admit that and get to work with getting it up to snuff than try to remove the cultures that invented it from it.

also occult has connotations of stuff that is evil and disapproved of, neither class has that at all.
Occultism in the Ashen Lands doesn't have the "Connotation" of Evil. It just flatly -is- considered evil.

Warlocks and Warsworn (Basically Martial Warlocks) are universally despised and if you're revealed to be one there's good odds you'll be ridden out of town on a Rail if you're well-liked and burned at the stake otherwise. Monks keep themselves out of town for a similar reason, though most people wouldn't recognize their abilities as explicitly Occult without some kind of knowledge.

Bards are sort of Stealth-Occultists. They know it's occult, but for most it's just magical music. What harm can come from that?

052120_PiedPiper_01.jpg


As to Monk abilities?

Unarmored Defense is Supernatural protection 'cause monks typically don't have armor.
Martial Arts are just unarmed combat styles, but most monasteries have a preferred weapon they do their bonus action attacks with.
Unarmored Movement: Expeditious Retreat
Deflect Missiles? Shield Spell.
Slow Fall: Magic
Stunning Strike: Melee Magic
Ki Empowered Strikes: Melee Magic
Stillness of Mind: Protection from Occult Mind-Control Forces
Purity of Body: Protection from Aberration Attacks (Elder Things in the canon)
Tongue of the Sun and Moon: Literally just the Tongues Spell.
Diamond Soul: Fortifying themselves against all sorts of magics
Empty Body: Astral Projection and Invisibility.
Perfect Soul: Just high end capstone training for Occult Power to always be available.

Change the names, change the narrative, and it works really well for someone defending ancient texts and artifacts that should not be in the hands of mortal men and the horrors that such things can unleash.
 


Monks in the Ashen Lands are less
tumblr_inline_os6g4luO8H1qdq19t_640.jpg


And more
18a8cbaa3ea1d9e3c69e9014c37dee6b.png

Or even
Monk-e1496867139127.jpg

With a heaping helping of
346-3467037_novice-necromancer-d-d-dark-cultist.png

To keep Villagers from trying to get too close to their sanctuaries.
all I am seeing in wizards which is kinda the problem just replace monk with wizard and no one would ever notice and that is not a good thing for the monk ass then what is the point of it in your setting? you can just cut them if they do not fit.
 

all I am seeing in wizards which is kinda the problem just replace monk with wizard and no one would ever notice and that is not a good thing for the monk ass then what is the point of it in your setting? you can just cut them if they do not fit.
Eh.

A Wizard would have a d6 Hit Dice, lack the increased fighting prowess, not get increased resistance to Elder Things attack methods, and largely fail as being protectors of occult knowledge who dabble in it's shores... Which is the narrative intent of these Monks.

I guess we'll just have to be glad you're not playing in the Ashen Lands.
 

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