Eclipse – The Questionable Inner Fire

OK, now that I’ve located the overflow error that was making it so hard to read the questions it’s time to start catching up on answering them…

I have some questions about the Witchcraft Advanced Power: The Inner Fire.

If a character takes The Inner Fire at level 4 and has a Wisdom of 20 can he cast two level one spells and one level two spell or does he get 2/1/1/1/1?

If the character makes it to level 20 and up to a wisdom of 30 is his supply of spells based on the current numbers, or is it stuck at whatever level he took it at?

If the same lv 20 character takes the Inner Fire his CL is 10 and he can safely cast lv 5 spells. Does he get access to higher level spells as well? If so, and he decides to cast a 9th level spell and makes his will save, what CL is the spell cast at? 10th (his current CL), 17th (min lv for casting 9th lv spells), 20th (his character lv)?

Can the character take The Inner Fire more than once for the same attribute? I know I saw one of the sample characters here (Torak Rosul) take it three times, but they had different govering attributes for each list (int/wis/cha).

-Bill

Alzrius, who kindly and effectively did some filling in here while I was having trouble, is quite right;

The Inner Fire activates all the bonus spell slots for the current value of the chosen attribute up to the characters level, and continues to do so if that attribute (or level) changes. Thus that fourth level character does indeed get access to effects of up to level four – although it would be rather suicidal of him or her to make a habit of using them since he cannot, at caster level two, safely control anything beyond level one spells.

At level twenty as described he or she would be able to use spells of up to the fifth level safely – and could indeed cast that ninth level spell, although with sixteen levels to go until it could be cast safely, the results of a failure would probably be pretty brutal.

Barring special modifiers, his or her casting level for The Inner Fire will always be (Character Level/2) – which may make some spells with level-based effects fairly ineffectual and means that someone using The Inner Fire isn’t going to have much luck at overcoming spell resistance or dispelling things. Coupled with the limited number of effects available, this makes The Inner Fire less than overwhelming in high-level combat.

You can take The Inner Fire more than once, but it must be for differing attributes each time – and it won’t work if those bonus spell slots are already activated. Thus a high level Wizard can’t take The Inner Fire and apply it to his or her Intelligence; those spell slots are generally already active.

Still, that really is quite a lot of power for a relatively small investment; why would something like THAT have been put in the book?

The answer to that calls for some background on what the Witchcraft system is for.

While it can serve as the primary magic system for a low-level game, as a rule it isn’t all that attractive for primary spellcasters unless (perhaps) the game master lets them get away with one of the cheesy “tricks” packages. Magical specialists will generally want to focus on improving their major powers, which will soon exceed anything that Witchcraft will let them do. For them, dabbling in Witchcraft to acquire The Inner Fire means gaining a few low-level spells, with low caster levels, and based on a secondary attribute at that (since they’ll already be using the bonus spell slots for their primary spellcasting attribute), in exchange for giving up a couple of caster levels or – say – taking Berserker to boost their Casting Level, taking Streamline on their favorite Metamagic, and buying some Mana with the Spell Enhancement power. That really isn’t a good deal. Why waste your time and character points acquiring a few weak magics when you can play to your strengths and acquire some impressively powerful ones?

Witchcraft can, however, give low-level combatant characters like fighters, rogues, and martial-artist types, some very useful special abilities and options both in and out of combat. Even better, thanks to the linear nature of base attack bonus and most combat abilities the effective cost of taking it – unlike, say, giving up a few levels in a spell progression – is very small, especially since Witchcraft can be readily used to boost your combat abilities.

It’s at higher levels where Witchcraft abilities like The Inner Fire really come into their own. There is some truth to the complaint that – at very high levels – combatants are left behind by the primary spellcasters. That doesn’t have to happen in Eclipse, but there are plenty of poorly-built or converted characters whom it does happen to – and for them it’s well worth expending the points to buy the Inner Fire and pick up some “spells” – even if they choose ro represent them as special powers. Sure, it’s a limited package – but for them it’s cheap and it’s a set of abilities that they didn’t have before instead of just a limited backup for their major spells. If your high-level martial artist decides to swear service to some mighty power (and get some Wis-based “Chi Powers”), or your clever rogue wishes to emulate the Gray Mouser and pick up some basic wizardry (drawing on his or her high intelligence) they can do so – and will get enough to useful, rather than emulating classical d20 and wasting a couple of levels on becoming the equivalent of a Fighter 18/Wizard 2.

In Eclipse, there are only a few powers where it matters what character level you took them at. In large part that was a design goal. It makes it much easier to build characters; you just add up your points and spend them without having to worry about what level you took something at instead of going level-by-level. It also eliminates things like the (quite notable) differences between a Barbarian 20 / Sorcerer 20 and a Sorcerer 20 / Barbarian 20. As a general rule, in Eclipse, your developmental path doesn’t mean all that much.

There are a few exceptions though. The Professional, Adept, and Fast Learner abilities and the Bonus Skill Points from raised Intelligence all offer benefits that depend on the level at which you acquired them. If you want them, it’s best to take them as early as possible. That’s because those abilities pay for themselves after a few levels and then pay dividends – so if they were retroactive, there would come a point at which they’d instantly pay for themselves and then would continue to offer additional bonuses. That really wouldn’t work very well, and so it’s another compromise in the interests of compatibility.

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4 Responses

  1. Wait… what does the restriction of “up to his or her current level” mean then?

    I always read that as “if you are level 4, you can at most cast a level 4 spell”…

    Did I get that entirely wrong there ? O_o

    • No… I think that’s the result of part of a sentence being chopped out, rather like the dangling “and” (and a couple of other problems) later on. Thank you for bringing that to my attention; those problems should be fixed now.

      • “At level twenty as described he or she would be able to use spells of up to the fifth level safely – and could indeed cast that ninth level spell, although with sixteen levels to go until it could be cast safely, the results of a failure would probably be pretty brutal.”

        At level 20, he should have a caster level of 10… shouldn’t he thus need 7 more caster levels (14 levels) instead of 16?

      • Well, the listed limit for the level of spell usable is (Level / 4), rounded down. In this case it’s just that the specific rule overrides the usual limit on rounding – and ensures that the user’s effective caster level will always be sufficient to control the spells he or she can use safely.

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