Sunday, February 14, 2016

Revisiting Half-Value Spellcasting


Come with me, adventurer, back to the heady days of 2013.

I'd just posted an option called Half Value Spellcasting, in which one class build point got you a little dab of divine and arcane casting.

I used it to create the Fortune Hunter, a very genre-aware class built for adventure. I needed a mix of arcane and divine casting to get the feel I wanted, but did not want to spend 2 build points to do it, or make a custom race.

Now, however, with the Autarch Patreon, I've gained from the dark tower of the Autarchs the ability to create my own spellcasting type.

Let's see how that works out!

To review, Half-Value Spellcasting got you this:

Level
Arcane
Effective Level
Divine
Effective Level
1212
101
201
301
4111
51112
61112
71112
82212
92223
102223
112223
1221323
13213214
14213214

with a Divine repertoire of 3 spells, turning as a 1/4 level cleric.

This cost 425 XP in the class build.

For comparison's sake, I'm going to collapse those spell slots:

Level
Total Spell Slots
L1L2Repertoire
10
20
30
411
525
625
725
836
947
1047
1147
12418
134211
144211

with about that many spells in the repertoire, combining arcane and divine.

Let's put the alternate spellcaster system to work.

What I can do now, instead of figuring out how to cheaply get everything, is how to cheaply get what I actually want - this is very much a class for which magic is a tool, and as such we can emphasize certain categories over others, and drop others entirely.

Spell TypeThematic Fit
BlastHandy in a pinch, but we should be smart enough to bring others with us.
DeathA little niche in effects.
DetectionHighly desirable!
EnchantmentAlso good to have.
HealingA must-have.
IllusionInvisibility/inaudibility is a no brainer, and clever use makes these helpful
MovementFreedom of movement saves lives.
ProtectionDefense is the best offense.
SummoningThese are complex and expensive, in general. Questionable, despite the growing popularity of Summon Berserkers.
TransmogThe general utility of these can't be understated.
WallThe protective utility is there; not a must-have.

We've got some pluses and minuses. We'll start off with the default Cleric build, and then move up to a Mage's effectiveness where we need to.

I'm not showing you the whole process here - go sign up for the Patreon - but I end up here:


Spell TypeCast As
BlastCleric
Death2.25x
Detection1.1x
EnchantmentCleric
HealingCleric
IllusionMage
MovementMage
ProtectionMage
Summoning1.5x
TransmogMage
Wall1.6x
XP VALUE500

I've met the same value as a Cleric, oddly enough.

I've given up on having good access to Death spells - Choking Grip is 3rd level, for example. I've also dismissed Summoning and Wall - a little worse than the Cleric at both.

On the other hand, I've taken a bit better skill in Detection, on average - I've taken the best of what the Cleric and Mage have for 'adventuring utility' and devalued others (we'll get to that later).

I could have gone further - by removing categories entirely, I could have went lower than "1" in other categories and really specialized - but that's not the concept I'm going for right now.

I'm looking at a XP value of 500 for full progression. For a single build point then, at that value, I'm getting half-caster progression for 250 XP. What's that look like?

LevelStandard (Mage)Alternative (Cleric)
LevelEffective Level1234Repertoire12345Repertoire
11110-
21110-
322215
422215
5321325
6321325
74224215
84224215
952215225
1052215225
116222622115
126222622115
13732218222115
14732218222115


What's the comparison? Under this system I'd be either looking at a Studious/Arcane repertoire as listed, or a Prayerful/Divine repertoire of 5 spells per level, same as  cleric. In either case, I'm not giving too much up - the 3-per-level Divine rep addon from the first attempt never added all that much, and since we're getting so many more slots overall, the Arcane rep would pick up that slack.

I'm getting spells a *lot* earlier under this as well. I could delay using the rules in the PC, but that pushes me back to spells at 6th level, whereas before I had them at 4th. I'm also getting access to 3+ level spells!

I could shoot for the Improved Spell Progression for a bump in my XP values - if I'm willing to go to 290 XP for 1 build point - I can get near 1.5 times the number of spells - but that's a bit excessive for this concept.

All in all? A vast improvement in overall capability, if not slots-per-day, for much, much less XP.

Plus I'm getting a whole new spellcaster category out of my work here - I could imagine a more genre-savvy world where there's the old Adventurer's Guild concept, and maybe this is the magic they teach - how about a Fortune 3 or Fortune 4 dedicated caster? A Fighting 2/HD 1/Fortune 1 support fighter?

It's an incredibly genre-aware spellcasting type for a very genre-aware class. As it's own "source" I can handwave away the ability to do things as well as both the cleric and mage at the same time as some mad mix of half-believed prayers directed to any power in hearing range and quasi-researched eldritch pattern matching. For the most common spells, I don't even have to change levels.

Just like I intended with my previous effort.


Good stuff.

Later I'll redo the class - I do lose a (very limited) Turn Undead ability, and I'll want to review my stuff and see what I really want in the class. I'll also want to fiddle with the multipliers a bit more.

Alternatively, I could have specialized - I could have dropped, say, Blast, Death, Summoning, and Wall. My total cost would have been higher however, as the benefit of that is not reducing XP costs but allowing you to drop below 1 in your multiplier - down to .75 - and really get good at certain types of spells.

That's not this class, though. I don't want it to be super special good, I want it to be broadly and lazily good at certain things.

We'll do an example of that later. The interplay between those two choices is very nuanced and interesting - this is a well developed system, as one expects from Autarch, and really opens up a lot of neat choices.