October 28, 2020

Variant Rule: Alternate Spellcasters

Rules
Comments from the Pinky: For those times when you really wanted to be a Wizard, but your parents sent you to Cleric school, we got you.

Alternate Spellcasters

Many times, a character concept will come to mind that fits the features and traits of a class, but not the ability scores central to that class. A Bard whose inspirations stem from study and learning rather than music or charm. A Paladin whose fervor and zeal are tempered by a lifetime in service to their cause. Such characters might favor abilities contrary to those primary to their spellcasting ability score, and can use the following optional rule to retrofit their mechanical elements to meet their narrative needs.

Optional Rule: Alternate Spellcasters
Using this variant rule, you can exchange your character’s spellcasting ability score for another one. Any class feature which uses the the spellcasting ability score is similarly switched. Doing so not only influences the character’s mechanics, but also changes the class’s name into something more suited to its variant magical origins. 

Core Classes
ClassIntelligenceWisdomCharisma
BardChronicler           Skald
ClericArchivistEvangelist
DruidHaruspexTotemist
PaladinInquisitorTemplar
RangerExplorerDrifter
Sorcerer           MagusMystic
WarlockCultistMedium          
WizardOracleMagician

Mage Hand Press Classes
ClassIntelligenceWisdomCharisma
BinderDemonologist     Envoy
ChannelerHarbingerIconoclast
Investigator     ArbiterFactotum
MartyrApologistProphet
WarmageBattlepriest     Firebrand
WitchMaledictorShaman


Suggest any better names in the comments below!

23 comments:

  1. So I am guessing that the Chronicler would cast spells and inspire the other members of the party through the carefully edited first edition of their own story? I can see a Edgar Rice Burroughs type character who casts Vicious Mockery by dashing out a few lines of witty banter on a piece of parchment and paper airplanes it to the enemy mid combat.

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    1. That's basically what I imagined! A Chronicler, to my ears, is interested in nonfiction, whereas a traditional bard might lean harder into fiction.

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    2. Are you guys going to come up with alternate subclasses for some of these? If so might I recommend the Cultist, the way I see it. The class as a foil for a Cleric.

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  2. Is this intended to change other associated mechanics, like would a Skald use wisdom for inspiration and the like?

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    1. It is _now_. I completely forgot to include that line.

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  3. Holy crap, you English speakers are so lucky to have so many words for mages (and nearby spellcasters).

    When translating to Hebrew it's hard to make a distinction between sorcerer and warlock...

    BTW, I've always thought a wisdom witch would make sense- but that's because the first witches that come to my mind are always Nanny Ogg and Granny Weatherwax.

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    1. The range of synonyms in English is one of its greatest strengths. We've borrowed words from so many other languages down the years, and somehow imbued them all with slightly different shades of meaning. You basically never have to say the same word twice if you don't want to!

      On the other hand, all the voracious borrowing means English has ended up as a hellish mishmash of different orthographies and grammatical rules that make no sense when you put them together. It must be a nightmare to learn as a second language.

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    2. So why is the martyr the only class I don't remember? Also I can't find the investigator on here anymore either.

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    3. Huh, we should really do wider releases of those, huh? Right now, those are both on Patreon, and the Complete Investigator should be on the store too.

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    4. There's a similar problem in French. I play mostly in Enlgish, but I have some French speaking players, so ocasionally I run a sort of bilingual game. The problem is that in the French PHB, the word for sorcerer is "ensorceller", a warlock is a "sorcerer", and a wizard is a "magician" (the literal words are "Ensorceleur, Sorcier", et Magicien"). On top of that, there would probably be no word for witch, since in French the word for witch is "Sorcierre" (r is pronounced), which is just the feminine of "Sorcier" (silent r)

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  4. Replies
    1. The Martyr is one of our base classes that's only on our Patreon at the moment. It's a divine psuedo half caster that fuels its spells and abilities using its hit points. To spill a Marytr's blood before their time is to invite the wrath of the gods, after all. It's a blast to play!

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    2. Ooh, that sounds super neat! Looking forward to seeing that when you release it to the public.

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  5. This makes my English Teacher brain happy.

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  6. Might I suggest Ovate for the Int Druid?

    "In ancient times an Ovate was a prophet, seer, healer and diviner. In modern times, an Ovate is one who studies or practices herbalism, healing and divination within a Druidic context, or who has entered the Ovate level of training within a Druid Order."

    Source: https://druidry.org/druid-way/what-druidry/what-is-an-ovate

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  7. I think Genuine Fantasy Press did something similar with warlock, but changing things like saving throw and skill proficiencies as to accommodate to the change. Still, really nice to see a different take on that!

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  8. For clarification, its in their book Compendium of Forgotten Secrets: Awakening.

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  9. I actually wanna start a campaign designating certain classes as the canonical archetype, i.e. in this campaign there are no warlocks only cultists

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  10. I don't think it necessarily needs a name-switch, but making it clear that Monk is included in this list would be great!

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  11. Somehow I missed this post, but I just have to say....

    Finally someone else has seen the light! My brother and I have been doing this in our games for a long time, and so many people fight against the idea. There is no reason for any class to necessarily MC better with others. A Paladin, Sorcerer, Bard, Warlock can all MC with each other with generally good results, but the Wizard is left with nothing at least with official classes. The others weren't necessarily balanced to do so with MC in mind, but they just happen to do so since they share a primary stat. Casting stats are *flavor* and no one can convince me otherwise, and so changing them around does nothing to hurt power.

    When it comes to saving throws, all you have to do is follow the same rules that the core classes already follow. Dex, Con, and Wis are the strong saves, and Str, Int, and Cha are the weak saves. All classes should have 1 strong save and 1 weak save, and so if you want to shift your saves to match the new casting stat just look to the ways the classes already do so and follow their examples. Any class can actually shift their saves around as long as they follow those rules, as saves are *also* purely flavor outside of the balance between weak and strong saves.

    So when it comes to the Sorcerer, the Magus could have Con and Int, while the Mystic would need to make a choice between Con or Wis and then either keep Cha or maybe shift it to Int(kind of like the Druid who has Wis and Int) if that matches their flavor more.

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