aka Another Reason for a Unified Magic System
I’ve never liked the Arcane/Divine divide in magic in what is now Pathfinder. It worked OK in first first and second edition D&D because there were really only two spell-casting classes, but as third edition D&D attempted to take the classes and make them into certain metrics such as Base Attack Bonus and Reflex Save bonus that are additive, the divide became increasingly wonky. For one, now that we had a skill system that was the same across classes, you had skills for sneaking around. If you multiclassed between different classes, your ability to sneak was related to how many skill points you continued to put into your stealth skills. Thus skills of the traditional Thief class from prior editions of D&D were now nicely delineated and could be treated as discrete parts of a greater whole.
The skill system attempted to do that with magic by giving one Spellcraft skill that related to your ability to determine magic regardless of it’s source, but in so doing they created a wonky element to their magic system because the skill itself was not, in any way, related to the actual working of magic. One could be a completely proficient high level wizard or cleric and not have a single rank in Spellcraft. So it was really just a knowledge skill, but why have one knowledge skill that represents two very different forms of magic when you have other knowledge skills that represent the different between knowledge of local events and knowledge of which crest belongs to the local noble? Continue reading The problem with Use Magic Device in Pathfinder
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. Continue reading A More Unified Magic System for Arcana Unearthed
As I mentioned in a prior post, I’d like to integrate Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed ruleset with the recently released Pathfinder ruleset. I really like the magic system and the flavor of the world is not to be missed. One of the first things that I felt needed to be integrated is the feat system, so I went throw the rulebook feat by feat and compared the feats to what is currently offered under the Pathfinder Rules set.
Monte Cooke had introduced a couple of new concepts in his Arcana Unearthed rules: Ceremonials Feats and Talents. The world of Arcana Unearthed utilized a lot of ceremony and ritual, and Monte classified these feats to codify the rule significance of going through certain ceremonies. From a rules point of view, these feats don’t really pose any problem being directly translated over to Pathfinder rules. Monte Cook called for giving every race an additional ceremonial feat at first level, but that’s not because Ceremonial Feats were categorically weaker. Ceremonial feats are just as powerful if not more powerful than the other feats, so they pose no problem in doing a straight across feat for feat integration.
Talents, however, are a different story. In the Unearthed Arcana rules system, a talent was a feat that could only be taken at first level. Because of this restriction, he made a talent slightly stronger that other feats. For instance, Monte’s version of Skill Focus gives a +3 bonus to the selected skill, while the talent Affinity with Skill gives a +4. Note that the Skill Focus feat was one of many departures from the existing 3.0 D&D rules (which only gave a +2 bonus for Skill Focus at the time) that would later be officially added into the 3.5 or Pathfinder revision. Unearthed Arcana has a many such ideas that, even today, represent a significant step forward for the Pathfinder rules set; my absolute favorite among them is a completely unified magic system.
For the Pathfinder Rules, Monte Cook’s talent feats are actually very simply to integrate because Pathfinder has, essentially, adopted their conventions. In the Pathfinder Adventure Path: Council of Thieves #1 – The Bastards of Erebus, there is an extensive right up on tieflings that includes a few feats that allow you more variation in the character creation stage. These tiefling-related feats have to be taken at first level, which makes then exactly the same as talents. Furthermore, Pathfinder has added traits, which are essentially “half feats” that must be taken at first level. Since Pathfinder recommends two traits (or half-feats) at character creation, you can easily add Monte Cook’s talent feats as simply “double traits.” That is, instead of getting two traits, you’d get one of the talent feats.
With these conventions, you can adopt the entire Unearthed Arcana feat system under the Pathfinder rules. Continue reading Converting Monte Cook’s Arcana Unearthed Feats to Pathfinder