My favorite thing about Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed rules, is the magic system. It’s a magic system that makes a lot of sense and is a huge improvement over the traditional D&D 3.x magic system with it’s separation of Arcane versus Divine magic, separate spell lists, etc. In the Arcana Unearthed system, magic is magic. There is not a separation between arcane and divine magic. It’s all magic and it comes from the same well.
Instead Arcana Unearthed has a the traditional D&D Spell Levels, with each spell assigned to a Spell Level. What Monte Cook does to give more advanced magic classes a more advanced “spell list” is instead to have spells sorted into simple spells, complex spells, and exotic spells. A Mage Blade (which is as close as Arcana Unearthed gets to a cleric) has access to all simple first level spells, whereas a Magister (Arcana Unearthed’s version of a Wizard or Sorcerer) has access to all simple and complex spells of the same level.
For multiclassing, you simply add all the spells that you can cast at a given spell level and gain access to all spells of that spell level that any of your classes would give you. Thus, if a Mage Blade took one level of Magister, he’d have access to all complex spells of first level, even for his Mage Blade “slots.” I love this concept, but I feel it doesn’t go far enough. You see, the martial classes add to each other rather nicely. If you had a level 20 character who had taken five levels of each of Fighter, Barbarian, Ranger and Rogue, you’d still end up with a pretty decent 20th level fighter. Granted, he may not be the best optimized “build” for a 20th level martial character, but he’s still be able to bring the pain in a combat.
The same is not true for the spell casting levels. If had a 20th level caster who had taken 5 level each in Wizard, Cleric, Sorcerer, and Bard, the resulting spell caster would be truly pathetic by 20th level standards. That’s because, in the D20 system, how far your progress up the access to the more powerful (i.e. higher spell level) spells is determined solely by how far you progress in a given class. Since you’d only progressed up to 5th level in four different classes your resulting spell caster would have access to the Spell Level 3 spells three different times (the Bard would only give you access to spell level 2).
There hasn’t been a solution to this problem because each particular spell casting class has access to its own spell list, so there was no way to stack them. However, since Arcana Unearthed nicely solves this problem by doing away with spell lists entirely, it allows us to have spell casting levels truly be additive, which is what I’ve endeavored to do. What I did was assign each spell casting class a “Spell Progression Level.” Since primary casters such as a Wizard/Cleric/Magister/etc gain access to a new spell level for every two character levels, I assigned them a spell progression level of one-half. For the secondary casters, such as the Bard, who gain access to a new spell level for every three character levels or so, I gave them a progression of .25 for the first level, .25 for the second level, and .5 for the third level. I avoided just using a spell progression level of .3 because I wanted it to be purely additive to the .5 spell progression level for the primary casters and adding .3 to .3 and .5 gives the strange result of 1.1. Keeping instead to quarter or half points for Spell Progression Levels makes everything far simpler.
Assuming that you’re not operating off of different spell lists (which you’re not for the Monte Cook system) you can simply add the Spell Progression Levels of all your Spell Casters class together. Then cross reference the table below to see what spell levels you have access to. As far as your total caster level, just double the Spell Progression Level and round up. So, if your total Spell Progression Level is 1.25, your caster level is 3. This allows for first level secondary caster class (such as a Bard) to have a caster level of one at first level, but progress more slowly in your caster level as your character level progresses- which makes more sense to me than the current system.
My system could be made to work with the existing Pathfinder rules without referencing Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed at all with a bit of a work around. What you’d have to do is designate a character class as how you are going to keep your magic: Cleric, Bard, Wizard or Sorcerer. From then on, whenever you gain a Spell Progression Level, the designated class determines what our access to spells you have.
|Prinary Caster Level||Seconday Caster Level||Progression Level||0||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9|
One thought on “A More Unified Magic System for Arcana Unearthed”
Wow, this is really helpful.
I wanted to pathfinderize my arcana unearthed and found this blog because i was browsing for suggestions. With the skills updated (no more listen and spot, instead we have perception), and the races tweaked (they have now the +2 +2 -2 mods, as standard for non humans.), and some class abilities worked over, this makes a nice addition.