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

DammitVictor

Druid of the Invisible Hand
Since we're talking about alternatives to the arcane/divine split... I've got three settings, and I'm doing it different in all three. This is largely because I want all three settings to be distinct, with a very different texture to them, but also because I believe any question like "what are the sources of magical power, and how do they function?" should vary fundamentally on a setting-to-setting basis.

Shroompunk is my "closest to D&D" setting, having been designed from the beginning as a sort of alternative to the kind of old-school in the OSR movement. The sort of "default" power source is Martial/Psychic, which forms the basis of having things like Proficiencies and Hit Dice and every character class has at least some martial/psychic abilities as they level. The other power sources are... kinda priest-like in general D&D terms, but cover multiple class roles: Draconic is elemental/primal/life magic based on the 10 True Dragons; Celestial is magic of the star spirits, sort of holy/radiant/enchantment; Abyssal is the magic of the underworld, shadow/undeath/hellfire; and Aberrant is the magic of the Warp Zones, goolock/teleportation/mindbending/fleshwarping.

Cascade City is my urban fantasy/wuxia/paranormal/planetary romance setting. There's Martial power, Psychic power, and Magic power-- and they're basically separate, but functionally developing any one of them makes developing the other two easier, and reaching the loftiest heights of any one requires developing at least a little in the other two.

And my currently untitled space opera project, currently running in Alternity 1998, only has Psionics and a couple of closely related types of Magic; psionics effectively acts as a prerequisite to magic, with psionics being a direct application of psychic power, and magic being the use of psychic power to open a channel to otherworldly beings. There are... a bewildering variety of these kinds of otherworldly beings that humans (and, to be fair, most other mortals) try to categorize, wildly inaccurately, as "angelic" and "demonic" and maybe sometimes "other". They're not exclusive, but it's hard to form an exploitable relationship with more than one of these beings and even harder with different kinds of them.
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
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.

Those all seem in the ballpark to what I have. The complication that I'm mulling is if I want to have four mental stats -
  • Psyche - Knowledge, mental storage capacity
  • Awareness - Perception, Sensitivity, and Insight
  • Charisma - Strength of Personality, Ability to Project ones will (lower case) against others
  • Will - Mental Fortitude and Mental Stamina
Wizards and Artificers seem Psyche (at least for number of spells known), but would number of spells they can cast per day be modified by Wisdom?

Would sorcerers by your description be Awareness, and by the standard be Charisma? But now I'm down that road of if the number of spells they can cast is based on Will? Or can you picture one that has Awareness for the number of spells known and Charisma for the casting bonus, and will for number cast per day? Or would Charisma cover all of it for one variant?

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.

Thanks for the extra things to think about! :)


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.

When doing power sources, how out there is it for the power behind the Monks to be related to the Barbarian Rage, and the Grit of the Duelist or Panache of the Swashbuckler in PF? What happens if you do Monk is to Psionicist as Paladin is to Cleric, Ranger is to Druid, and Magus is to Wizard?


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.

The bard going after knowledge feels like it should be akin to the Wizard to me. I haven't thought about it as using magic of themselves before. Thanks for the new take.
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.

If something equivalent to Ki used in other places around the world but with a different name? The actual name monk is from Greek/Latin/German? Does it change if the martial arts aren't particularly like those of the far east? Are we limiting too much if Barbarians, and Druids and Monks and Bards tie into the real world history?

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

I haven't gotten the connotation that it's evil.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
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....

I apparently stopped paying attention to 4e too early, I missed shadow and elemental.

I keep thinking Bard is just a different flavor of arcane. Are alchemy and rune craft arcane too?
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Those all seem in the ballpark to what I have. The complication that I'm mulling is if I want to have four mental stats -
  • Psyche - Knowledge, mental storage capacity
  • Awareness - Perception, Sensitivity, and Insight
  • Charisma - Strength of Personality, Ability to Project ones will (lower case) against others
  • Will - Mental Fortitude and Mental Stamina
Wizards and Artificers seem Psyche (at least for number of spells known), but would number of spells they can cast per day be modified by Wisdom?

Would sorcerers by your description be Awareness, and by the standard be Charisma? But now I'm down that road of if the number of spells they can cast is based on Will? Or can you picture one that has Awareness for the number of spells known and Charisma for the casting bonus, and will for number cast per day? Or would Charisma cover all of it for one variant?
I would say Awareness if you wanted to go that direction, while Warlocks are the Charisma Casters.
Thanks for the extra things to think about! :)
You're welcome!
When doing power sources, how out there is it for the power behind the Monks to be related to the Barbarian Rage, and the Grit of the Duelist or Panache of the Swashbuckler in PF? What happens if you do Monk is to Psionicist as Paladin is to Cleric, Ranger is to Druid, and Magus is to Wizard?
Not out there at all. It's not the direction I personally went for, but that's because I want my Monks to guard occult relics and be lightly magical while my Psionics are different. Not a form of magic at all, in fact.

Though Barbarian Rage -is- tied to Primal and Occult Power.
The bard going after knowledge feels like it should be akin to the Wizard to me. I haven't thought about it as using magic of themselves before. Thanks for the new take.
Bards are mostly looking for Music and the Power behind it. Though another aspect of them is that I give them Patrons in the setting, so they also often work as spies for nobility.
I haven't gotten the connotation that it's evil.
So... it is and it also isn't.

The world was originally created by the Five Fates, the Yaktu Kai. These entities dreamed the world into being. Filled it with creatures. With plants. With everything. And dreamed of Gods. And those Gods helped their chosen people (Humans, Elves, all that jazz) rise up against the "Elder Things" that the Five Fates dreamed into being. Basically Aberrations.

True magic, REAL magic, the FIRST magic, in the setting is Occult. Secret, hidden, dangerous knowledge tied to those Five Fates, to the Dream they've constructed, to the very basis of all things... That's why the Monks and Bards can tap into the Self. The Occult -is- us.

But the more people who tamper with Occult magics, and the stronger they are, the more of a lure they are for the Elder Things. For the Five Fates. For all the bedtime stories and nightmares to burst forth into reality. So use of the Occult is taboo pretty much everywhere.

In it's abject function it isn't explicitly evil. But great evil can come from it, more often than not. So people -consider- it to be evil. It's labeled Black Magic as a result.
 
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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
<insert the original things that led to this about whether "Occult" was viewed as evil>

The world was originally created by the Five Fates, the Yaktu Kai. These entities dreamed the world into being. Filled it with creatures. With plants. With everything. And dreamed of Gods. And those Gods helped their chosen people (Humans, Elves, all that jazz) rise up against the "Elder Things" that the Five Fates dreamed into being. Basically Aberrations.

True magic, REAL magic, the FIRST magic, in the setting is Occult. Secret, hidden, dangerous knowledge tied to those Five Fates, to the Dream they've constructed, to the very basis of all things... That's why the Monks and Bards can tap into the Self. The Occult -is- us.

But the more people who tamper with Occult magics, and the stronger they are, the more of a lure they are for the Elder Things. For the Five Fates. For all the bedtime stories and nightmares to burst forth into reality. So use of the Occult is taboo pretty much everywhere.

In it's abject function it isn't explicitly evil. But great evil can come from it, more often than not. So people -consider- it to be evil. It's labeled Black Magic as a result.

I can certainly see it being that way in some settings.

How do you think the idea of "occult" (as opposed to magic, say) is viewed in real life? Does it have any more of an evil connotation than wizardry or sorcery, or just more mysterious? (As opposed to say how witchcraft vs theurgy, even if unfairly).
 
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Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
<insert the original things that led to this about whether "Occult" was viewed as evil>



I can certainly see it being that way in some settings.

How do you think the idea of "occult" (as opposed to magic, say) is viewed in real life? Does it have any more of an evil connotation than wizardry or sorcery, or just more mysterious? (As opposed to say how witchcraft vs theurgy, even if unfairly).
Occult Rituals
Magic Rituals
Religious Rituals

One of these has a stronger negative connotation. Mostly because Occult things rely on Cults which are inherently viewed as external to accepted faiths and identities.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Occult Rituals
Magic Rituals
Religious Rituals

One of these has a stronger negative connotation. Mostly because Occult things rely on Cults which are inherently viewed as external to accepted faiths and identities.

That makes sense.

For some reason, occult and occultism seem different in my head... and I can't figure out why. The strange fish things off the coast and their cult seem occult, occultism make me think of the people at the nearby University who study them (and I guess scientists are good?). I have no idea.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Here's a rough visual of how things work out in my homebrew setting/game. (just for reference, see that little triangle in the dead center? That's where "The Magic Bard's can access" lives.)
 

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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Here's a rough visual of how things work out in my homebrew setting/game. (just for reference, see that little triangle in the dead center? That's where "The Magic Bard's can access" lives.)

Nice.

I might almost put the witch in the middle of your Venn diagram and maybe bard where it was. I'm used to stories about Witches getting powers from spirits, but not bards. Should nature magic allow healing too?
 
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steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Nice.

I might almost put the witch in the middle of your Venn diagram and maybe bard where it was. I'm used to stories about Witches getting powers from spirits, but not bards. Should nature magic allow healing too?
Well, it's not strictly a Venn diagram. It also relays some visual... "cues," I suppose, as it's not really in-stone "rules" or anything...about both the number of casters working in those areas, and how much of a particular caster's "magic/spells" are their own.

That is, to use your sample/suggestion, a Witch uses Witchcraft. A Witch is going to have spells that, more or less, do things that can be achieved/duplicated (if not the same exact spells) with Arcane Magic and Nature Magic in equal measure. A smaller fraction of their spells/craft is put toward things that can be done with/by Divine Magic (e.g. a divine caster could do it, too).

Whereas the Bard's use of magic (for my system and setting) is simply very small bits of Arcane and Divine and Nature. Some of it could be duplicated by a Witch or a Shaman or a Cleric or a Mage, but a Bard is not going to be able to do everything that any of those other casters can do.

As for "working with Spirits"....that is something that really goes to the 'school/art/practice" of magic work being used, not or "versus" the type/kind/source of the energy. A Druid can speak to (and conjure) nature/elemental spirits and Commune with Nature. Mages can Contact Other Plane, conjure any kind of creature from just about anywhere. Clerics and Paladins conjure Planar Allies, commune with spiritual entities and deific powers... and, basically, anyone/all of the above proverbially dips their toe enough into the pool of Necromancy to "Speak with Dead" in some fashion or form.

So, the diagram(s) isn't really about which of the methods of magic a particular practitioner has access to, though that is "connected," a part of it. But what energies, the "Source" of the magic, is being accessed/enacted.

If that makes sense...or maybe I'm just falling through a esoteric rabbit hole in thinking any of this matters to a world setting or player.
 

cbwjm

Hero
I quite like the Pathfinder 2e system of arcane, divine, occult, and primal. Not 100% occult needs to exist, I feel like it is close to arcane but they've split it off into its own thing with some spells arcane doesn't share. They also have the 8 schools of magic and the 4 essences of matter, spirit, mind, and life though I'm not sure if those really have any impact on the game whereas the schools are important to specialists and the arcane, divine, occult, and primal are important for each classes (or subclasses) spell access.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Three questions nagging at me right now...

1) How important is it to have the related classes get totally separate write ups if they follow much of the same rules and tables and share, say, 1/2ish of the fluff? How bad would it be to have a Wizard, Bloodline Wizard, Witch, and full-caster Bard all written up together as the "incanters" or "arcanists" who study spells, but then have them pick a school, bloodline powers, a patron and hexes, or songs res[ectively? If you do that, is it bad if some of the spells are lower level for one variant than the other? Would you still refer to them as four separate classes?

2) In Pathfinder, Magus fills the "1/2 fighter 1/2 wizard slot". What is the name for a 1/2 fighter 1/2 witch? Should there be a 1/2 thief 1/2 caster? What is an all caster bard?

3) Should all the caster types you find in the world actually be usefully playable as PCs? I can imagine game worlds where there should be folks who enchant items, alchemists, people doing things with runes, and full-on healers. One option is to just have separate rules for them, but then you get complaints they do things no PC could ever do. Is it bad to have them have a class... like an old NPC class... that most PCs would never choose but I guess they could multi-class into? Or does there need to be a variant like in PF where the alchemist can go all Jekyll and Hyde and throw explosives to make them combat useful but not fit the usual stereotype? If there was a full-caster non-melee cleric, 1/2 caster cleric, and minimal caster paladin in the world at large, does the full-caster non-melee cleric need to have an option to make them like a blaster or super-buffer , or is it ok that there are just some character ideas that would stay at home? (Is it ok that the stay-at-home sage with a sponsor, friends, and budget knows a ton more about things in general than the bard who spends a huge chunk of their time fighting and singing too).
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
1) Moderately. The more distinction you create between the classes both narratively and mechanically the more your players will be able to see a purpose for the different classes.

2) Could call it a Hexblade, Dusk Knight, Spellsword, or anything else you like. And there's plenty of room for Arcane Tricksters or Shadowblades.

3) No. It's best if there are other kinds of supernatural powers and magic that just aren't that suitable for the adventuring day. You need the Oracle that stays in their cave reading the bones of goats and the entrails of chickens to predict the future just as much as you need the adventuring wizard. It's probably best not to figure out their entire class, though, and just give them the narratively-specific abilities that you want/need for the individual character at hand.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I have proposed this before, but I would consider having spell lists based around power sources independent of class, and then have classes built around playstyles (e.g., gish, scholar, pact-maker/summoner, blaster, etc.). So one could pick a Primal Scholar to become a Druid or pick a Divine Scholar to become a Cleric or an Arcane Scholar to become a Wizard. But that would be different from picking a Primal Gish to become a Warden, a Divine Gish to become a War Priest, or a Arcane Gish to become a Swordmage. And so on.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
1) Moderately. The more distinction you create between the classes both narratively and mechanically the more your players will be able to see a purpose for the different classes.
In my head I have 9 full-casters, which when you put in the 1/2 caster and splash-caster with each of rogue and fighter would give 27 full class write-ups (without counting straight Fighter or Rogue, or counting anything with Barbarian or Monk), which seems like a lot. Even just having 9 full-caster write-ups seems like a lot (and maybe that's the problem).

I have proposed this before, but I would consider having spell lists based around power sources independent of class, and then have classes built around playstyles (e.g., gish, scholar, pact-maker/summoner, blaster, etc.). So one could pick a Primal Scholar to become a Druid or pick a Divine Scholar to become a Cleric or an Arcane Scholar to become a Wizard. But that would be different from picking a Primal Gish to become a Warden, a Divine Gish to become a War Priest, or a Arcane Gish to become a Swordmage. And so on.

The modularity is part of what I was wondering about, but taking the "gish", a lot of the side things a, say, warpriest, magus, and bard have in PF, or a PF ranger and paladin have, feel different.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
In my head I have 9 full-casters, which when you put in the 1/2 caster and splash-caster with each of rogue and fighter would give 27 full class write-ups (without counting straight Fighter or Rogue, or counting anything with Barbarian or Monk), which seems like a lot. Even just having 9 full-caster write-ups seems like a lot (and maybe that's the problem).
You don't have to do a Full Caster for every concept, and you also don't have to do a half and half, either. Some of those things might best be expressed as subclasses, or variants on a given class.

Let's talk about your nine full casters and the things that make them different both Mechanically and Narratively, so we can see if there's anything to pare down, there, Mm?
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Before I get into your "3 nagging questions" (which looks remarkably closer to 15 ;) ) I will chime in to get on board to hear about these "nine full casters"... which sounds to me like, mmmmmayhaps, a bit much.
Three questions nagging at me right now...

1) How important is it to have the related classes get totally separate write ups if they follow much of the same rules and tables and share, say, 1/2ish of the fluff?
How "related" are we tawkin'? I mean, all classes -full, sub-, half-, whatever- deserve their own write-up. If nothing else their differences need explaining/exposing. It's just a matter of how much write-up is necessary. An "Illusionist" (even if it's its own full class, versus a "speciality school sub-class of a wizard") needs the explanation that it "functions in [all, many, some] ways as a wizard but [differences, alterations, things that are not in common]." As for "spellcasting" and preparation techniques nearly always falls under the "Magic" chapter or "Using your Magic" segment at the beginning of the Spell descriptions. Something about "How casting works in Combat" or some such. Usually there's at least some lip service paid to the difference between "Divine" and "Arcane" power sources....if you have nine full casters, I imagine that section is going to be somewhat longer but doesn't need full explication within Class descriptions.

How bad would it be to have a Wizard, Bloodline Wizard, Witch, and full-caster Bard all written up together as the "incanters" or "arcanists" who study spells, but then have them pick a school, bloodline powers, a patron and hexes, or songs res[ectively?
I don't know that it would be "bad" at all. It depends on how you set it up...and basically, your preferences of how those things work.
If you do that, is it bad if some of the spells are lower level for one variant than the other?
I wouldn't think so. My homebrew setting/game has several spells that are available to a number of different casters, who use magic [i.e. practice magic/cast spells] differently, with the same spell effect at different levels [tiers] for their class.

Again, this is a personal preference thing.

Introduced in D&D 3e or 3.5 I guess. Carried through PF1. Seems like D&D 5e did away with it. I, personally, see no problem to it. Par example: the Cleric can Cure [Light] Wounds as a 1st level spell. Obvs. MY setting/game Druids (and Bards, I think, and Witches) don't get it til a 2nd level spell. Characters with my game's "Ritualist" Theme (any caster who can use spells with the "ritual tag"), however, could perform Cure Wounds, too, as a first level spell (or higher depending on how many ranks in the theme they choose to accrue).

Would you still refer to them as four separate classes?
"Wizard, Bloodline Wizard, Witch, and [full-caster] Bard? Well, the Wizard, Witch, and Bard I certainly would expect to be three distinct classes. If all that's separating the first two is a bloodline, then that seems like the kind of thing to be handled by a background/origin/bloodline kind of decision point mechanic that is independent (and doesn't warrant) a separate "class" all its own.

2) In Pathfinder, Magus fills the "1/2 fighter 1/2 wizard slot".
Yes.

What is the name for a 1/2 fighter 1/2 witch?
In PF? That's still a Magus.

Should there be a 1/2 thief 1/2 caster?
A thief who uses magic or a caster who uses their magic to steal things? In my opinion, that's handled in D&D by what they call a Warlock. It's what the Arcane Trickster is suppsoed to be (and SHOULD have been). It could also be, in D&D, what is a Bard. Though I don't think any of them did it really quite right. Also, not necessarily a class concept, I feel, doesn't need its own base class...but an archetype that should be accomplishable via either a caster or thief base with appropriate feats/traits/themes/added options.

What is an all caster bard?
IN D&D 5e, that'd be a Bard. In PF too, I think. I'm not sure what you mean by "all caster." If all they do is use magic?...then in what way are they a Bard? "Wizard" would seem to be the proper answer.

3) Should all the caster types you find in the world actually be usefully playable as PCs?
Oh! No. Absolutely not.

I can imagine game worlds where there should be folks who enchant items, alchemists, people doing things with runes, and full-on healers.
As you should. :)

One option is to just have separate rules for them, but then you get complaints they do things no PC could ever do.
Which, since they are NOT "PCs" is perfectly fine and "in bounds."

Is it bad to have them have a class... like an old NPC class... that most PCs would never choose but I guess they could multi-class into?
Seems unnecessary.

Or does there need to be a variant like in PF where the alchemist can go all Jekyll and Hyde and throw explosives to make them combat useful but not fit the usual stereotype?
That is one way to go. Seems to have been quite successful for PF. But also sometimes leads to distinctions without [or with pointless] differences.

If there was a full-caster non-melee cleric, 1/2 caster cleric, and minimal caster paladin in the world at large, does the full-caster non-melee cleric need to have an option to make them like a blaster or super-buffer , or is it ok that there are just some character ideas that would stay at home?
That seems to be two separate questions. And, ultimately, again (sorry) a matter of personal taste and preference. I see no reason a full-casting cleric would have to be a "blaster" or "superbuffer" to go adventuring. It is equally valid to have full-casting clerics who DO go out into the world and those who choose/prefer to stay in their quiet cloisters meditating, praying, seeking/contemplating their deity's will, and/or serving their community and whatnot. The power granted to you as a cleric, afterall, is not for self-aggrandizement or personal pursuits (at least, usually, not from the Good or Lawful deities).

(Is it ok that the stay-at-home sage with a sponsor, friends, and budget knows a ton more about things in general than the bard who spends a huge chunk of their time fighting and singing too).
In my world/game? Absolutely. Again, your world, your preference.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
You don't have to do a Full Caster for every concept, and you also don't have to do a half and half, either. Some of those things might best be expressed as subclasses, or variants on a given class.

Let's talk about your nine full casters and the things that make them different both Mechanically and Narratively, so we can see if there's anything to pare down, there, Mm?

Before I get into your "3 nagging questions" (which looks remarkably closer to 15 ;) ) I will chime in to get on board to hear about these "nine full casters"... which sounds to me like, mmmmmayhaps, a bit much.

Which is why I'm hoping grouping things together isn't bad! My post a few up was asking about collapsing all of group 1 below. Group 2 might go similarly... and I'm not married to any of the concepts below yet and can imagine a particular world missing some of them. Also, in case it makes a difference in thinking about what's there or missing, this is for a like e6/p6 campaign were spells go up to 3rd level and teleportation is very nerfed.


1) Full casters who choose from a range of spells each day by studying (incantation). All of these casters have access to pretty much all the spells... eventually.

1a) The wizard who may have has no special background before wizarding, and even if so eschews it and is trained in a magical tradition (even if only trained by a mentor, or is simply being a generalist). This is the class that studies the "science of magic". That gives them additional special abilities related to their tradition. Spells related to their school are learned earlier than for other casters or gotten automatically.

1b) The witch who had their incanting sparked through a pact with a supernatural being. This allows them to study and learn spells, in partnership with their familiar, and grants them hexes based on the patron. The learning of spells can range from supernatural revelation to studiousness. Spells related to their patron or are on-theme are learned earlier than for other casters or gotten automatically.

1c) The sorcerer (?) who has their spark through their bloodline. This allows them to study and learn spells, but they gain powers through their bloodline instead of school and gain auto-access to some based on the bloodline. The learning of spells can range from innate precociousness to studiousness. Spells related to their bloodline are learned earlier than for other casters or gotten automatically.

1d) The bard whose spells are presented in song. They study and memorize the songs and gain spells that naturally go with sound earlier than other casters would. They also have special abilities that come through their singing.


2) Full casters with a very limited range of spells, but able to do them more often.

2a) The warlock (?) who is able to cast spells due to a pact with a supernatural being. They are granted specific spells (chosen in character creation and as the player levels) through their pact or familiar, and grants them hexes based on the patron (at a higher power level than the witch who is focused on a wider range of spells?). Spells related to their patron (so most of them they would take) are gained earlier than for other casters.

2b) The scion (?) who is able to cast spells due to their supernatural heritage. They are able to cast specific spells (chosen in character creation and as the player levels) due to their mystic heritage and also gain other powers (at a higher power level than the sorcerer who is also focused on a wider range of spells?). Spells related to their bloodline (so most of them they would take) are gained earlier than for other casters. Most creatures that innately cast magic without studying do it through a similar mechanic.


3) Casters who gain powers by connection with the planes.

3a) The clerics who are channels for the divine beyond the realms of the world. They pray for spells each day from a list that isn't as broad as (1) but are much broader than (2). They are able to channel planar energy (positive, negative, undeath, abberration; earth, air, fire, water; lightning, thunder, corrosion, ice). They get spells based on the plane and their deities portfolio (domain) earlier than other casters.

3b) The shamans who communicate with, call on, and cajole, command, or bargain with the spirit realm adjacent to our own. The spirits carry out the magical (spell) effects, and in some cases send manifestations.

3c) The druids have an innate sense of this world Their magics manipulate what is already here (so pyrotechnics insteead of fireball; call lightning instead of lightning bolt) and transmutations and calling of animals and communicating with them. Transforming into animal shapes and animal companions would be options.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
Those all make sense to me, in concept and conceit. But what about -function-?

I'm going to assume that Arcane, Divine, and Probably Primal spell lists have a different range of spells on them that have some, but not massive, overlap to help create more daylight between the characters.

But what functional difference will exist between, say, Wizard and Sorcerer or Warlock and Scion? Could the "Innate Spark" be presented, instead, as a subclass function of the primary class?

Wizards probably get some sort of Spell School options for their different types of magic, but could you instead do "Draconic Ancestry Sorcerer" as an option for the Wizard class which gains Dragon-Style magics earlier?

Or will the Sorcerer have some other mechanic that sets them apart as a class like Spell Points and Metamagic Feats?
 

Aldarc

Legend
The modularity is part of what I was wondering about, but taking the "gish", a lot of the side things a, say, warpriest, magus, and bard have in PF, or a PF ranger and paladin have, feel different.
(1) Although it's a great sacrilege, I'm not sure if I would have rangers, paladins, or bards as gishes. The distinction between a warpriest and magus, for example, will also be a by-product of their respective spell lists in terms of what tactics they adopt, but there will be a number of similar, if not overlapping abilities that they would want as a result of some basic precepts (e.g., casting with weapons).

(2) I think that it's okay to admit that there is a lot of conceptual overlap between classes and that they could hypothetically be combined but then have that difference expressed in their subclasses. This is what Starfinder did, IMHO, quite well. There is a Technomancer (the studious wizard analogue), but then there is also the Mystic. This latter one covers a lot of things that aren't necessarily about academic study, but also mystical traditions. Through its connections/subtypes it basically provides a Healer, a Psion, a Druid, a Shaman, Crusader/War Priest, etc. FYI, the Starfinder Mystic was basically the nail in the coffin that convinced me that Psionics should be more about Wisdom than Intelligence.

(3) Another option would be to remove standard or class spell lists entirely. Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved had a universal spell list for classes. However, spells at each level were divided between Simple, Complex, and Exotic. Furthermore, spells also had keyword tags (e.g., Plant, Fire, Dragon, Radiant, etc.). So some class spell access could be distinguished between spell complexity, spell level, and key words.

The Magister (wizard analogue), for example, had up 9th level simple and complex spells.* The Mage Blade (the gish), in contrast, only received simple spells up to 7th level. The Greenbond (druidic healer analogue) had up to 9th level simple spells but also complex spells with the Plant or Positive Energy tags.

* Arcana Evolve had character levels up to 25th and went as high as 10th level spells. I'm capping this at 20th for purposes of easier comparison.
 

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