Today we have a quick writeup for someone who was having trouble creating a point-buy spellcaster who buys spells independently, each with their own caster level. There are actually several ways to do this in the system, none of which I especially recommend in the long run: a character with a broader magical education will generally be more effective – and almost always more versatile – at middle and higher levels. They’ll also usually be better balanced. After all, if a character buying individual spells decides to specialize in a very few, they’ll have access to very powerful effects early on – and if the NPC’s do the same, it tends to turn confrontations into a who-shot-first contest. This really isn’t much fun most of the time.
Still, for this excursion we’ll be using the Rune Magic system. It’s the easiest way to give each spell an individualized caster level – although it would be more interesting to use some nested boosts, providing, lets say, a base caster level of 2, +2 with all Elemental Magic, +2 with Air Elemental Magic, and +1 with Transmutation. That could lead to some dramatic combinations.
So, let us create – errr – Khamsin the Wanderer, son of Ivul the Far-Traveller. A hunter from a primitive temperate forest tribe with a knack for magic. Unfortunately, without formal training, he’s limited to specific knacks (individual spells, bought using Rune Magic) which he learns from various nature spirits. Overall, a light-duty combat character (good hit points, but no armor, only basic combat techniques for a low BAB, and tribal weapons only) with a selection of special tricks. He may pick up some special talents from the spirits later on, but a lot will depend on what he encounters and bargains with. His class skills are going to be primitive or spirit/shaman-related knowledges, rune magic (since that’s what we’re building his magical talents with), and anything suitable for a tribesman. If he wants to buy exotic “civilized” skills later on they’ll cost an extra three points: he simply doesn’t have the background knowledge that move civilized characters take for granted.
So, lets roll some attributes: Str 12, Int 16, Wis 17, Con 14, Dex 13, Chr 14 (not bad!).
Since he’s using spirit magic, his Rune Magic skills will be based on Wisdom.
Given that we’re building a L1 character, we have a base of 48 CP to work with, plus 12 CP for a humans two level one Feats. We also get four extra skill points, for a base of 16. Lets buy the basics first: +2 on Will Saves (6 CP), +2 on Reflex Saves (6 CP), d12 Hit Die for L1 (8 CP), and Proficiency with Tribal Weapons (6 CP: Spears, Bows, Hand Axes, Javelins, Atlatl’s, etc). That’s 26 CP.
For the basis of his magic, lets buy
Adept (6 CP: Specialized for double effect/eight skills. The user must buy the skills specialized, for use with individual spells) This halves the cost of four (now eight) skills: we’ll take both Casting and Mastery for each of the Elementalism, Conjuration, Illusion, and Abjuration Rune Magic skills.
To power his spells, we’ll need some Mana: 2d6 (roll of 10) points of Mana (Corrupted: only for use with Rune Magic) (8 CP)
To get it back, we’ll want Rite of Chi (6 CP) with +4 Bonus Uses (6 CP).
Later on we may want Augmented Bonus (to add another attribute modifier into his Rune Magic skill bases), but this is only level one and we’ve already spent 52 CP. We’ve only got 8 left – and we’ll want most of those for skills.
Now: we’ll be buying all his rune magic skills as Specialized (double effect) in particular spells. That means that his base caster level for any particular spell will be (3 + Skill Points Spent, 1 minimum), and it will cost (Spell Level x 2)-3 skill points (1 minimum) to buy access to a particular spell. The usual level-based limits on spending skill points apply, so at the moment Khamsin cannot buy spells of above L3 or a caster level of above 7. Secondarily, of course, actually casting a spell will require the expenditure of one point of mana per level of the spell. Fortunately, his Adept ability will let Khamsin buy some spells fairly cheaply. In fact, he’ll be quite powerful at low levels – but will lose ground later on.
Elementalism: Scorching Ray (L2, 1 SP to learn, 1 SP to be able to cast it at caster level 4).
Conjuration: Summon Monster II (L2, CL6, 3 SP).
Illusion: Mirror Image (L2, CL 4, 2 SP), and Major Image (L3, CL 4, 4 SP).
Abjuration: Dispel Magic (L3, CL 7, 7 SP) and Magic Circle Against Evil (L3, CL 4, 4 SP).
These would normally cost a total of 22 SP, but his Adept ability halves that to 11 SP.
While it’s not one of his cheap abilities, no low-level spellcaster should pass up a curative spell. Khamsin buys the L2 Spell Cure Moderate Wounds (1 SP) and Caster Level 5 for using it (2 SP). Casting it will cost 2 Mana.
That’s 14 SP out of his 12 (Int) + 4 (Human) + 8 (CP) = 24. Not bad. That leaves 10 SP to pick up his skills and perhaps some more spells. The player would probably like Fireball or some such area-effect destructive spell, but – as the GM stand-in for this design – we’re going to make him wait a bit.
What skills should he have? Well, he’s a primitive tribal hunter, so we’ll skip the martial arts and such for now. He should have Survival 4, Spot 2 should be useful, and lets give him Climb, Move Silently, Hide, and Handle Animal, all at 1, which spends all 10 SP we’ve got left. No more spells for him yet.. I won’t bother adding in the attribute modifiers for now. They’d just make it harder to read.
Overall, not bad. In fact, like most specialists, he’s extremely powerful for a first-level character – but without an organized course of study or “progression” its going to be expensive for him to pick up spells later on and he probably won’t be able to match a properly-trained high level spellcaster. Taking Fast Learner, or Augmented Bonus, to get more skill points per level will help some, but he’d best start relying on combat and special abilities – probably combined with a few enhancing spells – after the middle levels.
We could get a few more points by giving him some disadvantages, but – given that he’s a generic example and couldn’t get more than 10 CP that way – we’ll leave that to anyone who wants to borrow part of the design for something.