Sunday, 11 August 2019

Sorcerer of Thrane

This is a playable sorcerer class I have had running around my head for a little bit. If you would like to skip the fluff and bite down into the crunch (although I'm not sure that's how you eat cake), you can find a dedicated, B/X compatible page here: 


If you like the some of the fluff but play a more modern system (5e, Pathfinder etc.), consider using your preferred sorcerer class but with the bard spell list.

Special note: the hit dice as spell dice mechanic was in part inspired by the GLOG, and you can read the original notes on spellcasters here


SORCERY IS BLASPHEMY

Throughout the territories within the iron grip of the crusading New Temple, the practice of all magic is criminalised as witchcraft: it is devilish, blasphemous, and punishable by burning at the stake. However, many of the Thranian families of Nahemot continue to practice sorcery in secret, whilst outwardly professing obedience to the tenets of their Kyran overlords' faith. Like their Kyran cousins, the Thranes have a strong oral tradition and their arcane traditions have withstood the New Temple's purge of literature and literacy.


WIZARDS WITHOUT BOOKS

While other illiterate casters (shaman in particular, and some true witches and warlocks) bargain for the magic with elemental spirits or much darker powers, a sorcerer simply takes that power by unravelling reality. The mages and wizards of old achieved this through meticulous research and centuries of trial and error: spells were discovered, invented and transcribed in great tomes which, when the New Temple came to power, were destroyed as heretical texts.

Most of the ancestors of modern Thranes had already fled into the desert by the time this came to pass, but those that remained in the cities of the south new which way the wind was blowing. Unwilling to forsake magical power, but knowing that they would not be able to resist the New Temple's authoritarian regime, they committed what limited magical knowledge they possessed to memory.

In Thranian culture, Arcane knowledge is transmitted through poetry and song. It is the cornerstone of their culture. Those that have memorised the most songs possess the most power, and command the most respect.


METHODOLOGY

"Book" sorcerers keep meticulous records of their spells in huge texts. They texts in these books are not memorised, rather the act of reading these texts enables them to construct a prison in their mind capable of holding a spell. At the desired moment, the wizard utters the words and makes the right gestures to unlock the gates to this mental cage, and the spell is released. Once it is gone, it is gone forever, or at least until the magic-user can once again study their tomes again. The number and power of spells such a magic-user can maintain is dependent on their experience.

The sorcerers of Thrane, on the other hand, have committed a much more complex set of values to memory: they have memorised the ancient rites and magic of their bloodline in a series of poems and songs. As they increase their power, they learn how to manifest this knowledge in the form of spells. When they do so, there is an element of unpredictability and chance: the more powerful the spell, the higher the chance that it will fail, and the greater the chance that it will drain the sorcerer's very lifeblood. 

PRIME REQUISITE

Wisdom or charisma, choose whichever is highest. A score of 13 or more in the prime requisite adds a 5 % bonus to any experience points earned. This increases to 10% if the score is 16 or more.



SAVES AND ATTACKS

Thranian sorcerers use the magic-user saving throw table. They attack as thieves (if attack progression is used).`



HIT DICE
1D4 per level (up to name level). Hit dice are used for casting spells (see below).


PROGRESSION

Level XP Hit Dice Cantraps Spells Known Other Abilities
1 0 1d4 3 0 -
2 1,500 2d4 4 1 Mentor
3 3,000 3d4 5 2 -
4 6,000 4d4 6 3 Wand
5 12,000 5d4 7 4 -
6 25,000 6d4* 8 5 -
7 50,000 7d4* 9 6 Staff
8 100,000 8d4* 10 7 -
9 200,000 9d4* 11 8 Name Level: Sorcerer Lord
10 300,000 ** 12 9 -
11 400,000 ** 13 10 -
12 500,000 ** 14 11 Sorcerer King (Sorcery Points)

* According to A Darker Age houserules, no hit points are added after 5th level
   (but hit dice are used for recovery and class abilities)
** No more hit dice after 9th level.
   (if you are using b/x or a variation thereof, you may wish to add 1 HP per each level after ninth)

CANTRAPS

Thranian sorcerers do not start with any spells. They possess three cantraps, one of which must be prestidigitation (for charisma based casters) or thaumaturgy (for wisdom based casters). The other two are minor versions of a spell from the sorcerer spell list below, the effects of which must be agreed with the DM. The cantrap version of invisible force, for example, will cause not cause any damage but could move objects short distances over a limited range.

Importantly, at lower levels all cantraps require material components: while there is no absolute limit to how many times cantraps are cast, sorcerers are constrained by access to material components (and they cannot use an arcane focus or generic component pouches, either).

Each additional level enables the sorcerer to develop a new cantrap, which they may later develop into an additional spell.


SPELLS

As stated, sorcerers of Thrane do not memorise spells from books, instead they have already memorised the entire magical history of their people, in the form of poetry and song. As they progress in power, this knowledge enables them to construct an appropriate internal environment within which magical spells can dwell, and that oral history can be transformed into actual magic.

When the sorcerer attains second level, they will choose one of their existing cantraps to transform into a full spell. They will never lose the power to cast this spell, nor can it be substituted for another spell in the future. It is as much a part of them as their memory, or their pancreas.


CASTING

Sorcerers of Thrane do not use spell slots: they cannot forget the spells they have learned. Instead, they gamble their very life force on manifesting their internal magic,. In game, this is represented by using their hit dice as casting dice. Sorcerers must also have access to material components to cast a spell successfully, and must be able to speak.

When any spell is cast, the sorcerer rolls a number of hit dice appropriate for the spell. Usually, increasing the number of dice increases the spell's efficacy or intensity. Every die showing a three or four is removed from the casters hit dice pool.

Example:
  • Zoya is a third level sorcerer. She casts "invisible force". According to the spell description, it only requires that she invest one hit die. However, she wants to amp up its power so she invests all three of her hit dice.
  • Zoya's player rolls 3, 2 and 4. With her high charisma (+2), the damage done is (3+2+4) +2 for each hit dice, for a total of 15 hit points! Additionally, her enemy must save or be shoved back 15 feet! (5 feet per die).
  • Sadly, two of Zoya's hit dice are removed from her pool, limiting her ability to cast further spells, and affecting her ability to recover hit points later.

SPELL FAILURE

Sorcerers are somewhat at the mercy of their magic, with a fifty percent chance of them losing a hit die for every die invested in a spell. Additionally, their magic becomes less reliable the more dice they invest within it. The following effects are experienced when double (or more more) ones are rolled:
  • Double ones: fizzle. The spell fails. An action is wasted, but there are no further effects.
  • Triple ones: backfire. Instead of the intended target, the spell now effects the sorcerer. Area effect spells will now centre on the sorcerer instead of the intended target. For utility spells, the DM is allowed to be creative (what would a backfired arcane lock do?) 
  • Quadruple ones: as above, but additionally the sorcerer is cursed (thank you, goblin punch)
  • Quintuple ones: as above, but additionally the sorcerer receives a fey mutation. All mutations manifest after a full night's sleep. 
  • Sextuple ones: blursed. As above, but the sorcerer must also re-roll all dice (the spell backfires, the sorcerer is cursed and receives a mutation, then the sorcerer effectively re-casts the spell)
  • Septuple (or more) ones: So bad it's good. All dice are re-rolled ad the sorcerer receives one fate/inspiration/hero point. I mean, the odds are 1 in 16,384... so 

CASTING WITH NO HIT DICE

The sorcerer may continue to cast spells when they have run out of hit dice, but they incur a loss of hit points equal in value to that on their spell dice. If a caster drops to 0 hp (or lower), roll on the lethal damage table of choice (or just kill them, depending on how you ruin fatal injuries in your game, or knock them out and give them three saves etc.).

Example:
  • Fassil has used all his hit dice and is down to 7 hit points. His party are about to be hit by a second wave of Oroks, so he decides to launch a fireball spell (minimum hit dice 3) their way.
  • He rolls 3d4... 
  •    ...scoring 8. The spell does that damage + dice x spellcasting modifier to all creatures within 20 feet of the target. 
  • Because he has used all his hit dice, Fassil takes eight hit points of damage. He dies/ receives a fatal injury/ passes out, but maybe his party will live to see another day... 

WARD

At second level, the sorcerer is considered to be an important upholder of the Thranes' magical traditions. As such, they are given the role of mentor to a young Thrane looking to follow in their footsteps. The ward is a 0-level retainer with a base morale of 5 (increase by the character's casting bonus and level, to a maximum of 11).

The ward knows one cantrap (prestidigitation or thaumaturgy). Additionally, the sorcerer may teach them one of their cantraps.

When the sorcerer next advances in level, their ward also becomes a first level sorcerer. They may remain with the party, be played as a PC, or return to their home. The sorcerer may choose to take on another ward if they wish.

A ward does not magically appear, they are entrusted to a sorcerer when they are in contact with other members of the Thranian community.


WAND

At fourth level, the sorcerer may spend half a day enchanting a one foot length of metal, bone or wood to create a magical wand. Henceforth, the sorcerer need not use material components when casting cantraps so long as they are holding the wand

Furthermore, a sorcerer may "charge" their wand with one spell. Only one spell may be used, and they must expend one hit die for each charge with which the wand is imbued, to a maximum of half their level. Only they may use the wand, and they may only ever have one wand in their possession (creating a new wand renders the previous wand into a mundane object, and all spells stored within simply dissipate).

Spells cast from wands still roll D4s (and still fail if two or more ones are rolled), but scores of 3 or 4 do not reduce a sorcerer's hit dice. 

At seventh level, the number of charges that  a wand can hold increases so that is equal to the casters level.


STAFF

At seventh level the sorcerer may spend half a day enchanting a four foot length of metal or wood (or bone, if available) to create a magical staff. The sorcerer no longer requires material components to cast spells as long as they are holding the staff with both hands.

Additionally, a sorcerer of Thrane may "charge" the staff to store a variety of spells by expending hit dice, to a maximum of half their level. Only they may use the staff, and they may only ever have one staff in their possession (creating a new staff renders the previous staff into a mundane object, and all spells stored within simply dissipate).

Spells cast from staves still roll d4s (and still fail if two or more ones are rolled), but scores of 3 or 4 do not reduce a sorcerer's hit dice.

A sorcerer may create both a staff and a wand. Staves must be held with two hands to utilise, however, meaning they are rarely deployed simultaneously (action economy is up to the DM).


SORCERER LORD

At ninth level, the sorcerer is a legendary figure within and beyond the Thranian community. If they are a not already a member of a noble house, they will henceforth be regarded as an aristocrat by other Thranes.

Otherwise, nothing else changes.


SORCERER KING

If the sorcerer has endured to this level, their renown as a wielder of magic will precede them wherever they go. Among their kinsman their will be many vying for them to declare a new kingdom of Thrania, with the PC as king. Other powers will be less excited by this.


SORCERY POINTS

At twelfth level, the sorcerer of Thrane has achieved mastery of the arcane. Though they may lack the depth or versatility of "book" sorcerers (wizards), they may now cast spells at will without expending hit dice, through sorcery points.

The sorcerer receives twelve points, one for each level. Each sorcery point can be spent in the following ways:

  • In lieu of hit dice when casting spells (i.e. two points equals two hit dice).
  • One point may be cast a spell without speaking.
  • One point may be spent to charge a sorcerer's wand or staff.
  • One point may be spent in  lieu of material components (if the sorcerer has misplaced their staff or wand).
  • One point may be spent to recover d4 hit points.

SPELL LIST 

This is a work in progress.

SPELL COMPONENTS** HIT DICE
Charm Person A nubbin of sugar cane 1d4
Featherfall A feather 1d4
Invisible Force A human hair 1d4
Sleep tbc 1d4
Speak with Animals tbc 1d4
Unseen Servant tbc 1d4
Animal Messenger tbc 2d4
Enthrall tbc 2d4
Heat Metal tbc 2d4
Hold Person tbc 2d4
Invisibility tbc 2d4
Silence tbc 2d4
Curse* tbc 3d4
Clairvoyance tbc 3d4
Dispel Magic tbc 3d4
Fear* tbc 3d4
Fireball A piece of charcoal 3d4
Speak with dead A fragment of the corpse,
which must be eaten.
3d4
Tongues tbc 3d4
Dimension Door tbc 4d4
Locate Creature tbc 4d4
Polymorph tbc 4d4
Stoneskin tbc 4d4
Hold Monster tbc 5d4
Insect Plague tbc 5d4
Teleport tbc 5d4

* Reversible spell
** All spells have a verbal component, listed are material components
   (sorcerers of Thrane do not use somatic gestures to cast spells)
Please let me know if I've missed anything/ missed any typos in the comments below.

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