Monday, January 1, 2018

Initial notes about an ACKS Sorcerer

Art by Hannah Saunders (c) 2017 Stellagama Publishing
First post of 2018! Happy new year!

Sorcerers. The dread of normal men, who huddle behind their walls in fear of the feared men and women who wield unearthly power. Scourge of the stalwart warrior and barbaric brave, who cower from the sorcerer's eldritch might. Horror of eternity, steeped in the occult in life, terrifying in eternal undeath when they transcend the grave.

Sorcerers are the latter half of "Sword and Sorcery", the first half being the courageous sword-wielding barbarian who dares face such magical power. An archetype of a spellcaster, in many cases a monstrous villain, but sometimes a valuable ally.

The mage given in ACKS Core emulates a sorcerer to a certain degree, but its roots still stay in the old Dungeons & Dragons magic-user. Sorcerers in fiction often have powers similar both to these of mages and those of clerics; they transcend the dichotomy between arcane and divine. Indeed, they study tomes of ancient lore, but often have dealings with all sorts of deities.

This is why I am writing up a sorcerer. It can serve both in a traditional Sword & Sorcery ACKS game, as well as in my Blighted Future post-apocalyptic setting - where "exotic" quantum breached reality and allowed the occult forces of Chaos to pour through.

Right now this class uses rules from Aurach's Axioms Issue 1 - a highly recommended product for ACKS. The final version of the sorcerer will, itself, include all necessary rules (thanks G-d for the Open Game License and the creativity it inspires).

Sorcerers summon. They do not control the domain of psychics, namely detection and illusion spells, but they are particularly potent in calling allies from beyond this world, far beyond the ACKS Core mage. They are not very flashy casters - and far from mastering blast spells - but have a strong grip on matters of life and death.

Using the Axiom rules, I have built Sorcery as a magic type. They are somewhat more potent than clerics, but significantly weaker than mages. This, however, allows them a far lower XP cost, as well as having full sorcerous power at 2 class build points (as per the ACKS Player's Companion). A sorcerer can, thus, wield weapons or have varied non-spell powers as common in sword & sorcery tales. Alternatively, the all-out sorcerer, at sorcerer class level 4 and at the hefty cost of 3,200 XP to reach level 2, is a powerful caster - enjoying a large number of spells per day.

Here are my notes for building the sorcerer's spell list. This refers to levels, not actual spells; for example, "casts blast as a cleric" does not mean that it is limited to divine blast spells as given in ACKS Core, but rather that its spell power level in regard to blast spells follows the cleric. The spell categories are as per the ACKS Player's Companion.

Blast - as cleric
Death - as mage
Detection - unavailable
Enchantment - as mage
Healing - as cleric
Illusion - unavailable
Movement - as cleric
Protection - standard as cleric and mage
Summoning - 75% of mage! The sorcerer's big forte.
Transmogrification - as mage
Wall - as cleric

A "full" sorcerer class category is at 2 build points and 800 XP. For example, a sorcerer with reasonable fighting abilities - Fighting value 1 and Hit Point value 1 (both at 500 XP) will require a mere 1,800 XP to reach level 2 - faster leveling than a fighter. My intention for the base "sorcerer" class is to do just that, though I'd be tempted to use the Thievery 2 class value instead - that version of the sorcerer will be weak in combat, but will level fast and will enjoy a wide variety of non-spell powers.

Sorcerers are studious - they gain their spells from study like mages and receive bonus spells for high Intelligence.

Like mages, sorcerers can perform magical research:

Research spells at level 5
Scribe scrolls at level 5
Brew potions at level 5
Create permanent magic items at level 9
Cast ritual spells at level 11
Create crossbreeds at level 11
Grant unlife at level 11

Sorcerers advance in saving throws slowly - by 2 points every 6 levels.

They may use magic items intended both for clerics and for mages.

A sorcerer's prime requisites are both INT and WIS.

Sorcerers cost an additional sum of 150,000 XP per level after the 8th level.

Sorcerers use the Shades of Magic code of behavior. At sorcerer class value 2, this grants them the ability to rebuke and command undead as a cleric of their level, as appropriate to a dread necromancer! The price, however, is that some spells are designated as Black Magic - especially summoning creatures from thin air and animated the dead; these have a corrupting influence on the sorcerer (sorcerers are good in summoning, but certain summoning spells are black magic - and usually powerful - so the temptation is huge). There are Grey Magic spells, such as transmogrification spells cast at unwilling targets, which may be corrupting if used against Lawful or Neutral sapient creatures, and non-corrupting otherwise. Finally, there are White Magic spells, such as healing spells, which are safe.

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