Eclipse – Building Spellcasters

   Unsurprisingly, Spellcasting is one of the most complicated elements in Eclipse: The Codex Persona – even sticking with the basic spell progressions and base caster level.

   So we’re going to break it down a bit.

   At the base, we have four basic elements – how many spells of each level you are capable of using, what spells are theoretically available to you, what spells you actually know, and how well you use the ones you do know.

   The easiest way to pick up a supply of spell slots, spell points, or power – the energy-handling capacity you need to create significant magical or psychic effects – is to buy levels in a Spell Progression. As a spell progression continues, the user will acquire the ability to handle both more total power and to either channel or bind more of it at once and in more complex ways – creating higher-level effects.

   Spell progressions vary in quality of course. Most of them never provide higher-level abilities or – in the case of spontaneous-caster-only progressions – only allow a very limited selection of available spells. They can also be Specialized and Corrupted in a wide variety of ways: reducing the cost is simplest as always – but you can also increase the effective level of the progression, the number of spell slots or amount of power provided at each level or – for spontaneous casters – the number of known spells. You can also buy them more than once, retaining the same spell list if you wish to simply multiply your power.

   What spells are available to you is a bit more complicated. Every spell list has some sort of theme, ranging from the extremely restrictive, such as “sensory illusions” or “healing spells”, on through relatively narrow lists, such as the classic paladin and ranger lists – or the sample alchemical magic list on page 22 of Eclipse. As the expense goes up, we find relatively broad lists, such as the cleric and druid lists, and then on up to the extremely broad lists, such as the sorcerer/wizard list with it’s generic theme of “unsubtle occult lore”.

   Unavoidably, this is always a bit of a judgement call for the game master; there are simply too many possibilities to list, much less go into detail on. The basic principle is simple enough however: lower-priced spell progressions offer far more restrictive spell lists, and – especially if they extend to higher levels – often have somewhat inferior or more specialized spells. You can take the Cleric and Druid Spell Progression, change the limitations accordingly, and take a spell list made up of arcane spells – but it’s going to have to be a far narrower list than the Wizard or Sorcerer’s, and it’s not going to include a lot of the most desirable spells and effects.

   Once you have a list of what spells are available within your theme, you can start acquiring them. Spontaneous casters usually have it easy; they only get a limited number of spells to use, but they usually get them instinctively (if they have to go out and learn them, the list usually counts as corrupted – which may be used to increase the number of spell slots or known spells available to them). Other characters with the “Studies” limitation must find their spells, although those without it need merely choose them from their spell list.

   Unfortunately, most characters lack the ability of a spontaneous caster to channel and shape large amounts of energy on the spur of the moment, as well as the instinctive knowledge of spell structures that allows them to make it do something besides blow up in their faces. They have to have a source to help them envision those structures while distracted by raw power running through their heads – and the structure needed is made far more complex than that needed by a spontaneous caster by the need to build up each segment of the spell bit by bit and to bind the energies into a semi-stable state at each stage of the process while leaving them still ready for instant release. Given that, a spellcaster “preparing spells” will slowly (and presumably cautiously) build up their spells from the trickle of energy they can handle*.

   *This is why many spellcasters need reference works to help them prepare their spells. Quite a lot of such spellcasters call this “memorizing a spell” – and say that once they cast a spell, it’s been “forgotten” – but you could almost as well apply that description to scuffing your feet on a carpet and then zapping someone with the electrical spark; you haven’t “forgotten how to do it”, or how an electrical spark works – you just don’t have one ready to go at the moment, and will need a carpet to help you build up another one. Sadly, this poorly-chosen phrase in the flavor text has been confusing people about the operation of the “Vancian” magic system since first edition.

   The final item is your Base Caster Level. Like your Base Attack Bonus, Base Caster Level is how generally skilled you are with whatever magic you know, just as the Base Attack Bonus is how generally skilled you are with whatever weapons you know how to use. It determines:

  • All those “per level” factors in a spell – if a spell lasts “ten minutes per caster level” or inflicts “1d6 damage per caster level”, your base caster level is what it’s talking about.
  • Your chance of getting a spell past Spell Resistance.
  • Unless the game master opts to allow otherwise, it also restricts how sophisticated a spell you can use: you need a Base Caster Level at least equal to (twice the level of the spell minus one) to use a spell. That helps keep the special abilities under control.
  • It determines how high a caster level you can use in an item you’re creating.
  • In a few cases, such as Inherent Spells and other “natural” talents, your effective caster level is automatically equal to your hit dice or to your Base Caster Level, whichever is better.

   Some characters will want an unrestricted Base Caster Level – at the full cost of six character points per level. That works well for dabblers: if you have a Base Caster Level of nine and pick up one level of the Cleric Spell Progression and the standard Clerical Spell List, you’ll only have first level clerical spells to play with – but they’ll have an effective caster level of nine.

   A Corrupted Base Caster Level costs only four points, and normally applies to only two aspects of spellcasting. A Specialized Base Caster Level costs only three points, and only applies to a single aspect of spellcasting. Corrupted AND Specialized Base Caster Levels only apply to a limited sub-aspect of spellcasting.

   Some of the possible aspects include:

  • Particular Spell Progressions, such Clerical, Druidical, Adept, and Wizard.
  • Particular types of spells, such as Evocation, Fire-Related, or Ritual Spells.
  • Particular situations, such as during the hour before and after twilight, when throwing spells at demons, or when attempting to penetrate spell or power resistance.

   Single-progression spellcasters normally buy a Specialized Base Caster Level, just for the spell progression they’re pursuing.

   Dual-progression spellcasters normally buy (or upgrade to) a Corrupted Base Caster Level that covers the progressions they’re pursuing.

   Characters who dabble in many kinds of magic may want to buy, or upgrade (in whole or part) to an unrestricted Base Caster Level.

   Of course, characters are free to complicate things. As an example:

   Ethan the Immolator of the Dead has the Wizard Spell Progression (Spontaneous Caster variant) with the standard Wizard Spell List and the Paladin/Ranger Spell Progression with a speciality Spell List – “Bane of the Unliving”, full of spells that either only target the undead or protect against their powers. Now he’s picked up a few levels of the Cleric Spell Progression with the standard Cleric Spell List (but an extra Components restriction, since he doesn’t wear armor anyway and wants to bring down the cost) in order to gain access to some healing magic.

   As for his Base Caster Levels:

   Ethan had seven Corrupted Base Caster Levels (28 CP), applicable to his Wizard Spell Progression and his “Bane of the Unliving” Spell Progression. He also had two Specialized and Corrupted (for triple effect) Base Caster Levels limited to Wizard Spell Progression Evocation and Necromancy spells (12 CP) and one Base Caster Level Specialized in his Wizard Spellcasting Progression (3 CP). Having picked up two levels of the Cleric Spell Progression, he spends 6 CP buying an Unrestricted Caster Level and 4 CP buying off the Corruption on two of his existing Corrupted Base Caster Levels.

   So what caster level does this give him?

  • For his Clerical Spell Progression, it gives him a caster level of 3 (three unrestricted base caster levels) and would allow him to cast spells up up to level two – except for the fact that he doesn’t know any past level one and couldn’t handle that level of power or complexity (for lack of spell slots) in this field if he did.
  • For his Bane of the Unliving Spell Progression it gives him a caster level of 8 (three unrestricted Base Caster Levels plus five applicable Corrupted Base Caster Levels) and would allow him to cast spells of up to level four.
  • For his Wizard Spell Progression it gives him a caster level of 9 (three unrestricted Base Caster Levels plus five applicable Corrupted Base Caster Levels plus one applicable Specialized Base Caster Level) and would allow him to cast spells of up to level five – EXCEPT for Wizard Spell Progression Evocation and Necromancy spells, for which he has a caster level of 15 and could cast up to eighth level spells.

   Presumably Ethan’s various spell progressions are an equally tangled mess of Specialization and Corruption. Fortunately, our over-complicated Mr Ethan is for purposes of illustration only.

   Are there other ways to do this in Eclipse? Certainly. You could – for example – buy raw power-handling capacity as Mana, using the generic spell levels option, buy some formulas, and buy a casting level, and then specialize and corrupt it to build your own chart. You can buy any of the (numerous) other magical systems in Eclipse. You can buy the Spell Conversion, Spell Flow, Spell Mastery, and Spell Pool abilities, and tinker with things that way. You can Corrupt or Specialize a Spell Progression to simply provide spell slots or power without any direct access to actual spells, and use that potential to power other abilities, such as Witchcraft, Dragonfire from the Path of the Dragon, or other types of magic. We even have an example character up (HERE) designed to accommodate someone who wanted to buy each spell, and a caster level for it, individually.

   Still, this should be quite enough to start off with.

24 Responses

  1. I should note that all this is way more complicated than it needs to be. This is a discussion of everything you can do, and the book covers the basics almost too straightforwardly. If you really need four different sets of Caster levels, you can have them – but you probably don’t need them.

  2. That is why the example is noted as being over-complicated. It is, after all, a demonstration of the various possibilities, not a blueprint for making characters. There are lots of more-or-less straightforward sample characters already on the site, linked under the d20 tab.

  3. Okay, please allow me to cite a number of features and see if I understand your book.

    Take 3 characters, Abner, Buford, and Cletus.

    Abner wants to be a dragon type. He pays 24 points and gets Shaping, Pulse of the Dragon, Heart of the Dragon, Blood of the Dragon; if I am reading this right, he doesn’t need to spend points on Dragonfire or Breath of the Dragon. If I’m wrong, he has to spend 12 more points for those two.
    He can expend (Cha Mod) per minute of Dragonfire. His Cha Mod is +4, so he can breathe fire for 1d6 in an area attack four times per minute. A round is six seconds, so he can dragon breath 4 times out of every 10 rounds.

    Buford wants to make an Intelligence-based caster that wears armor while casting from the clerical list. He doesn’t want a specific god, but he can definitely embrace an ascetic lifestyle with fasting, exercises, etc. and lots of scholarly study, so he has two restrictions.

    Buford spends 10 points on a cleric package, 9 pts on rapid spell mastery, 6 pts on Rite of Chi, and 6 pts on Bonus Uses for Rite of Chi. He can use Rite of Chi 5 times per day without negative modifiers. Buford selects his 4 favorite 1st level spells, but he is first level, so he can only cast 1 1st level spell per day.

    Buford’s GM tells him that standard d20 mods apply to spells per day, and Buford buys 20 Intelligence, so he can cast 3 1st level spells per day.

    Now Buford goes on an adventure. He prepares his spells as usual in the morning; rapid spell mastery allows him to do so in 1d6 rounds instead of one hour of prayer. He goes to a dungeon. He casts his three of his four favorite spells. He uses Rite of Chi the first time and rolls 7 on 2d6. I assume his GM tells him that he only gets 3 1st level spell levels, since his normal daily maximum is 3 1st level spells. Presumably the remaining 4 levels become 8 0-level orisons, or perhaps they are lost.

    Buford continues into the dungeon and casts all of his spells, both 0-level and 1st level. He uses Rite of Chi for the second time that day. He rolls a 2 on 2d6. He can get 2 of his favored 1st-level spells.

    And so on. Buford eventually uses Rite of Chi for the last bonus use, and blows through his spells again. He tries to use it for the sixth time that day, but he has a 1 negative level. Since this makes him 0-level, he cannot cast his first-level spells, and the GM suggests that he get some sleep.

    Cletus wants to make a 3.5 style Wizard/Psion. He buys +2 Base Caster levels for 12 CP. He buys 1 Wizard and 1 Psion for 26 CP. This gives him 1 1st-level wizard spell and 2 psionic power points. He buys Hysteria for 6 CP. He buys 3 points of Mana for 18 CP.

    During an adventure, Cletus wants to cast Magic Missile. He burns a point of Mana to get a +6 to caster level. His virtual caster level is 9. He casts magic missile with 9 missiles. He also uses both of his natural psionic power points in the same battle.

    After the battle, Cletus burns one mana point to recover 3d6 psionic power points, but the GM tells him he only gets to keep 2 points because that’s his daily maximum. Then he spends his last point of mana to recover 2d4 spell levels, but he can still only cast 1 more 1st level wizard spell, plus several 0-level cantrips.

    Please Examine And Criticize Helpfully!

    • Ah, a long one! Well…

      Abner generally does need Dragonfire and Breath of the Dragon (You could spend the spell levels on those things without buying the abilities, but that’s a bit like buying the gasoline for a car that you don’t have. You are, by the way, the first one to note the ambiguity in the wording of the Blood of the Dragon ability; I shall note if for the next FAQ update).

      Abner has spent 36 CP and can throw around a total of 4d6 area-effect damage every minute without it costing him anything. While there are easier ways to do that, he also has a foundation for several other very useful powers – presuming that the GM is allowing the Path of the Dragon in the first place. It is one of the major paths for building actual dragons, superheroes, warlocks, “spellfire wielders” and other magical beings – but entities who can blast away all day like that probably won’t be allowed in low-powered games.

      Now, if Abner picks up Eye of the Dragon (so he can absorb incoming spells and store some extra power) and Ride the Dragon (giving him a set of spells that he can pretty much use all he wants) for another 12 CP he’ll have pretty much taken the basic superhero / supernatural being package.

      This may mean that you’ll have a Noble Ranger, a Stealthy Thief, a Prophet, and Abner Firelord the Superhero – but if you’re just telling the players that they can “Use Eclipse” without telling them the kind of campaign you have in mind and using the campaign options checklist to restrict the powers that won’t fit into that campaign you’ve got to expect that kind of thing. After all, “Use Eclipse” is pretty much the same as telling them “You can use any d20 sourcebook ever published”. There are likely to be some headaches involved unless you’re very, VERY, good at game mastering and don’t mind wildly disparate characters.

      Buford (who will presumably be making whatever philosophy he follows a major part of his life as per the “clerical” package) has spent 31 CP on his package of abilities.

      Sadly, while any “left over” spell levels from Rite of Chi can be used to refill “level zero” spell slots (at the usual valuation of 1/2 spell level per level zero slot), excess spell levels are lost – just like excess healing is.

      Buford is essentially trading in some later potential – the 21 points he’s spent on Rite of Chi and Spell Mastery could have gone to +2 levels of the clerical progression (and access to both more and higher level spells) – in exchange for more, quickly-recovered, low-level spells right now. Depending on the game, that may or may not be a good choice. Rite of Chi with Bonus Uses is very helpful for low-level spellcasters if the game master has it on the approved list for the game. It’s still useful at higher levels, although there soon comes a point where simply investing in a spell progression will outpace it. Specialized versions are often fun. If Buford’s Rite of Chi only works in graveyards, or near a stream or river, it’s more interesting, it’s cheaper, and it’s more likely to intrigue the game master.

      Cletus has a three minor errors.
      *On the good side, 18 CP worth of Mana is 3d6 Mana, so he’d probably have more than the minimum of three.
      *First up on the downside, throwing Magic Missile at Caster Level Nine only produces five missiles, not nine.
      *Second for the downside, once you pick what form your Mana comes in, you can’t change it later – so Cletus couldn’t convert
      mana to power and spell levels without another ability.

      Now, it’s not an error, but Cletus can save a few points by Corrupting his Base Caster Levels (for the Wizard and Psion Progressions Only) and buying one more directly instead of taking the Specialized ones that are built into the spell progression tables for ease of use. That saves him 6 CP and still leaves him with caster level three for each of his spell progressions (and thus probably a bonus power point or two).

      He also gets to pick a Natural Magic ability to go with his Mana; I’d suggest Spell Enhancement.

      As far as the design goes, I’d reduce the Mana to 2d6 (saving another 6 CP), and spend those points on Rite of Chi with Bonus Uses. If you’re going to be using Mana at all extensively, it’s almost impossible to get by without it.

      All of that does come to 62 CP – which is expensive (as expensive as, say, five levels of Psion), but Cletus looks to be headed for a path of taking lower-level spells and pumping them up – an excellent way to represent characters with lots of raw talent, but less skill, or warrior-magi who are more interested in blasting things than subtle manipulations.

  4. At a quick glance, I believe you got it right. I will let Thoth answer more at length. You have some fun ideas. I like the cut of your jib, sailor.

    • I am a little surprised by the Path of the Dragon. It doesn’t resemble anything I’ve seen in d20. I’ve seen Innate Spells and many of the other details – I’ve never seen anything like the Path of the Dragon.

      In keeping with the notion that races should cost less than 30 CP, I present three dragonoid races:

      Copper Dragonoid Race:
      Pulse of the Dragon
      Heart of the Dragon
      Blood of the Dragon
      30 CP +0 ECL

      Silver Dragonoid Race:
      Fast Learner A: must be applied to Dragonfire or some racial feat that requires Dragonfire.
      Fast Learner B: must be applied to Kinetic Master or some racial feat that requires Kinetic Master.
      Fast Learner C: must be applied to Mindspeech or some racial feat that requires Mindspeech.
      Fast Learner D: must be applied to some Path of the Dragon feat not covered by Fast Learner A, B, or C. Allowable allocations are the sequences of Charmsmith, Pulse of the Dragon, and Taskmaster.

      If at any point, a Silver Dragonoid has taken all the feats in a sequence, the Fast Learner points stop.

      30 CP +0 ECL

      Let’s try to see how this would work out in practice.

      0th level: racial status confers Shaper automatically, but no CP from any of the four Fast Learner feats.

      Level 1: 48 CP base, four separate +1 bonuses, total 52 CP
      24 points go to Dragonfire, Kinetic Master, Mindspeech, Pulse of the Dragon.
      28 points get spent on everything else.

      Level 2: 24 CP base, four separate +1 bonuses, total 32 CP
      24 points go to Breath of the Dragon, Will of the Dragon, Tongue of the Dragon, Heart of the Dragon.
      8 points get spent on everything else.

      Level 3:
      24 go to Eye of the Dragon, Flight of the Dragon, Ears of the Dragon, Blood of the Dragon.
      8 points go to everything else.

      Level 4:
      24 go to Venom of the Dragon, Might of the Dragon, Ears of the Wind, The Dragon’s Bones.
      8 points go to everything else.

      Level 5:
      Bones of Jade, Scales of the Dragon, Glamour, Charmsmith

      Level 6:
      Ride the Dragon, Mind Over Matter, Awe of the Dragon, Spellforging
      This is the last use of Fast Learner B. 6 CP up front for Fast Learner became 6 CP stretched out over six levels. However, for the first 6 levels, the player only got control over a mere 8 CP per level.

      Level 7:
      18 CP are spent on Wings of the Dragon, Awe of the Dragon, Dragonsmith.
      14 CP are available for everything else.

      Level 8:
      Venom of the Dragon, Voice of the Dragon, The Philosopher’s Stone.
      This is the last use of Fast Learner C. 6 CP became 8 CP.
      14 CP are spent on everything else.

      Level 9:
      12 CP go to Bones of Jade, and Taskmaster.
      20 CP are spent on everything else.
      This is the last use of Fast Learner A. 6 CP up front became 9 CP over nine levels.

      Levels 10, 11, 12: 6 CP are spent on the remaining three feats; at each level, 26 CP are available for other things.

      Silver Dragonoids obviously get lots of feats, but they are likely to be weaker than carefully optimized builds, because 8 CP is not a lot to work with. I imagine that they would have low hit points and few non-dragon abilities.

      Golden Dragonoid Race:
      This race, if suggested by a player, will certainly call down the full force of page 163. If presented by a DM to players, it is a blatant bribe to their munchkinism, and the DM will still have to use the “Bring in similar NPCs” guideline to maintain challenge.

      Fast Learner A: Must be applied to a Path of the Dragon feat.
      Fast Learner B: Must be applied to a spell progression. The progression must be chosen at character creation and never changed afterward.
      Fast Learner C: Must be spent on hit dice.
      Fast Learner D: Must be spent on Dominion feats.
      Fast Learner E: May be spent on anything.
      30 CP, +0 ECL

      The Golden Dragonoid Race allows an initial investment of 30 CP to be spent at a rate of 6 CP per level for a long time – possibly as long as up to level 35. Further, the spending is extremely flexible.

      • Whoops, I made a huge miscalculation in the Silver Dragonoid. They get 28 points at level 2 and higher, thus they have only 4 points to spend! If they don’t take a spellcasting progression at level 1, they’re going to be useless.

      • Well, the Path of the Dragon is in there to represent beings who are living foci or sources of power. You can do that in some other ways as well, but they’re excessively complex.

        The Copper Dragonoids are straightforward and have a good setup for superheroic magery later on. On the downside, they’re pretty much funneled into the Path of the Dragon as the one true way for the entire species in the same way that a race that got five free metamagic feats would be funneled into spellcasting. There’s always a tradeoff there.

        The Silver Dragonoids can get away with their build if you take their Fast Learner limitations as “Specialized for Double Effect” – raising the yield to 8 CP per level – and the game master is willing to let them get away with this in the first place. (I wouldn’t count on that).

        Racial bonuses do apply from level -2 (Infancy) and on though, which is why humans get those extra skill points at first level from their racial fast learner ability. In general though I personally wouldn’t let someone get away with four instances of Fast Learner in their species; it’s usually once in a species template, once personally.

        The Golden Dragonoids are straightforward enough, and can benefit from the same Specialization trick as the Silvers – but you’re quite right; a dubious racial build that just says “We are better then everybody else, just because!” with no particular flavor to it isn’t likely to make it by any sane game master.

  5. ‘Cletus can save a few points by Corrupting his Base Caster Levels (for the Wizard and Psion Progressions Only) and buying one more directly instead of taking the Specialized ones that are built into the spell progression tables for ease of use. That saves him 6 CP and still leaves him with caster level three for each of his spell progressions’

    I’m not sure I understand all of that. I’m looking at pages 10 and 11. I see that Base Caster Level costs 6 per level. I see that Wizard spell progression costs 14 with the specialized caster level.

    Does this mean that Wizard spell progression actually costs 8, the Psion progression costs 6, and the caster levels cost 6 for each?

    ‘Magic levels which
    apply to two or three progressions are usually considered
    Corrupted, and cost 4 CP each – making it slightly
    cheaper to combine spellcasting progressions.’

    So instead of spending 14+12 for Wizard + Psion, he should spend 8+6+4+4 to achieve the same result? Because that doesn’t seem to be the same math that you’re talking about.

    I guess I would have preferred to have had “caster level” as always separate from “spell progression,” which would make it easier to figure out corruption and specialization costs.

    • No, wait, I think I’ve got it: the table on page 11 refers to a specialized caster level that costs 3 points, so the cost of Wizard is 11 and the cost of Psion is 9.

      Thus 24 CP gives 1 level of Wizard, and 1 level of Psion, with Corrupted spell levels. 32 CP would give 3 Corrupted levels and the same spells.

      Cletus originally spent 38 CP to get 1 Wiz, 1 Psi and 2 extra caster levels.

      So yes, Corrupted spell levels do save exactly 6 CP. I had to read the rules a few times, but now I realize pages 10 and 11 actually explain everything.

      • You’ve got it. Sadly, writing Eclipse was a constant series of tradeoffs between adding examples and decompressing material and trying to hold the page count down to something reasonable.

        Thus, of course, Eclipse II – with another 250 pages of builds and examples.

  6. What would be a reasonable way to start building D&D 3.5-style warlocks in Eclipse?

    • Well, that one’s quick and easy because it’s already come up; the build is over HERE. It is set up at level twenty, but it should be simple enough to just take what you need.

  7. What exactly would a ‘naked’ spell progression be like? By that I mean paying an extra 4cp to remove the two default restrictions from one of the default progressions.

    • Not sure what you mean, Jasruv. You still pick one of the standard spell slot lists, and if you want to pay extra you can eliminate all penalties just as you noted. This nets you a few extras:

      As a Sorcerer/Wizard – Most of your spells need guestures and mystical spell components. You can now ignore all of that.

      As a Wizard – You previously had to memorize spells from – they had to be found and mastered. No more. You’ve got access to all kinds of spells already, though you do still memorize them.

      As a Sorcerer – You were limited to a small number of spells known. No more. Work out how many spells you get with GM (will vary from game to game), but you can comfortably field all the spells you reasonably want.

      As a Cleric/Druid – CoDs are limited by not having some of the raw power of . No more. You can get any effect your deity feels like handing out, from massive explosions to mind control to utility magic – anything arcane might get, though yours may still be more finicky in other ways. Further, you can drop any pretense of following a code of conduct. You can do whatever you please and not lose your spellcasting.

    • Well, that’s fairly straightforward:

      If you drop the components limitation you can say goodbye to armor-based spell failure, pouches full of weird components, and complicated gestures. While that certainly doesn’t mean that your spells are now component-free it does mean that your components are normally going to be simple – perhaps a muttered word or two, pointing or waving a hand, and carrying a simple talismans or two – such as a Cleric’s holy symbol. You still won’t be able to do much if you’re stripped, bound, and gagged without the appropriate metamagics.

      If you drop the Conduct limitation, your magic functions without the approval of any external authority or any special discipline. A character using priestly magic might be stealing it, or have been given a permanent grant by some deity who doesn’t like being bothered.

      If you drop the Restrained modifier your spell lists basic theme opens up – although you still may need to develop such spells. The classical examples are wide-area destruction spells for divine magic. Sadly, this does not mean that “you can use any spell you like”; your sea god may be able to provide a “Tidal Wave” spell, but “Meteor Swarm” is probably still out of reach. Secondarily, you’re still subject to the limitations of the kind of magic you’re using. Arcane magic doesn’t heal well because healing is an incredibly complex and subtle effect. Sadly, spell list themes, and their limitations, are always a judgement call.

      If you drop the Studies limitation you can no longer be a spontaneous caster; you’ll need to prepare your spells. On the other hand, your whole spell list opens up. A wizard or sorcerer could prepare any spell on the sorcerer/wizard list unless something is banned in the game. Original spells may still need researching – but a good explanation of a spell you’ve seen will probably be enough to add it to your personal list of prepareable spells.

      Thus a “Naked” Sorcerer would have to prepare spells – but could wear armor, discard his or her complicated components, and prepare any spell from the generally-known list. Of course, at a cost of 20 CP per caster level, that’s going to be pretty much ALL he or she has to rely on. A “Naked” Wizard is pretty much the same, but gets fewer spells and only costs 18 CP per level.

      A “Naked” Druid can lay waste to the environment, change to an extreme alignment, and otherwise act up with no consequences – at least as far as their spellcasting goes.

      A “Naked” Cleric can spit in the faces of the gods, research large-area destruction spells, and otherwise make trouble without consequences.

      • So just to be clear, based on your answer to Jasruv’s question, there’s no way to have a spontaneous arcane spellcaster who can draw on their entire spell list for their “spells known”?

        In other words, a “naked” spellcaster can be either 1) spontaneous, but limited to a modest list of inherent spells, or 2) preparatory, but able to draw from their entire (default) spell list for each spell level, is that right?

        I’m guessing that a character that wanted to spontaneously cast almost any sort of spell would probably be best served by sinking a lot of CPs in The Path of the Dragon.

      • Well, it’s possible – it’s just rather impractical. You can boost your Spellcraft skill up so high (+60-80 or so) that you can use the “on the fly” spell research option in The Practical Enchanter), or you can try to talk the game master into letting you take a natural-law immunity to having to know spells to cast them, or try other (increasingly less reasonable and more cheesy) tricks – but you’re quite right; you really are much better off at that point with a massive investment in the Path of the Dragon.

        Personally I tend to like spellcasters who are limited to a few fairly narrow themes but who can freely compose their spells within those themes. There’s bonus fun if you set them up so that actually coming up with a small ceremony, appropriate components, calling on powerful beings, and coming up with an “incantation” gets them a price break on their spellcasting. I’ve found that it encourages a lot of creativity.

  8. The parenthetical “(HERE)” in the last paragraph seems like it should be a link, but it isn’t.

  9. […] Building Spellcasters. Various magical options in point-buy. […]

  10. I understand the need for a druid/cleric progression built with arcane to be more limited than sorc/wix. It’s too cheap of a CP expense for full deal, and actually would have more power until very high levels due to the higher number of low level spells.

    However, I’m not convinced that if the same limitations associated with the sorc/wiz and arcane spells were selected for bard or adept that they shouldn’t get the full list.

    Practical Enchanter has a guideline that it takes two spells of a given level to equal one spell of the next level. If we use that and convert the Adept, Bard, and Wizard progressions to first level spells we get:

    Adept 72.5 1L/120 CP (.60)
    Bard 254 1L/ 160 CP (1.59)
    Wizard 2,046 1L/280 CP (7.31)

    First two are cheaper, but nowhere near as efficient. Which makes sense, since they aren’t specialists. The entirety of the difference is due to the higher level spells which also makes sense. Since lower level spells tend not to work very well at high character levels, and you’d be increasing in level so much slower, it really seems like there isn’t a need for the additional (essentially free) restriction.

    It’s also the easiest way to build an arcane dabbler type or one that would fit into a D20 Modern campaign.

    Sorry for responding to such an old post, but this has bugged me for a while.

    • Oh, it’s certainly arguable – but I think the math is a lot more complicated than that.

      First up, you’d want to remove the fixed cost of the Specialized Caster Levels since those can be shared with other lists. That way we can consider the spells in isolation. That gives 72.5/60 (1.21) for the Adept, 254/100 (2.54) for the Bard, and 2056/220 (9.3) for the Wizard.

      Of course, a couple of character points in Innate Enchantment and Empowerment (specialized to allow unlimited use for a few of the Innate Enchantments) provides up to 14,400 first level spells per day for 12 CP – a value of 1200, almost a hundred and thirty times more efficient than the wizard.

      But there are other factors. The total amount of power you can unleash is important – but spells you don’t get to cast or which are useless in your current situation mean nothing at all. That takes us into the Action Economy, and into how often spellcasting from any given list is useful in a given campaign and into what it’s level expectations are (which will change those figures drastically), and into how easy it is to acquire new spells, and on and on.

      If a given campaign is using slow advancement, is not expected to go beyond level eight, and spells are hard to acquire (usually having to be researched) Adepts already look a lot better – particularly since for less the price of a level of the Wizard spellcasting progression (11 CP + 3 CP for a Specialized Caster Level) you can buy three helpings of Adept Spellcasting (3 CP for the Specialized Caster Level, 9 CP for three adept lists) – and then Specialize two of them in particularly narrow fields for access to higher level spells or quicker casting or some such.

      Even in higher level games that package will give our multi-adept knowledge of rather a lot of spells and more spell slots than the Wizard. The Wizard will still have access to a wider selection of spells to choose from though. With wise choices, the Wizard will be just as effective as the multi-adept.

      This being Eclipse, with a near-limitless number of ways to build a spellcaster, the math is an equally limitless tangle – and the rule is basically empirical. It simply seems to work better as a game with that limitation in place.

      For specific magical dabbler builds… is there any way in particular that you’d want one to work? It might be a bit, but I should have some free time to fiddle with builds coming up…

      And responding to old posts is fine; the rules haven’t been changing much, so they’re mostly just as relevant as ever!

  11. […] (pg. 11-14) determine things such as spells per day, spells known for spontaneous casters, and how broad your spell list is. Determining what type of magic buying levels in a progression represents is a separate […]

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