View Full Version : New caster class: The Occultist

2005-11-15, 10:48 PM
[I posted this under the "Mage class" topic the other week, but it was suggested it be put in a new topic.]

This is an idea for an alternate core casting class. It involves having a good number of "1/day" spells, and Constitution being the primary stat. Let's consider the variables to play with in a casting class:
Primary stat: e.g. INT (Wiz), WIS (Clr/Dru), CHA (Sor/Brd)
Preparation: Must select spells in advance (Wiz/Clr/Dru), or can cast any spell known (Sor/Brd)
Spells/day: Many (Sor), or few (Wiz)
Spells known: All (Clr/Dru), Many + learnable (Wiz), or few (Sor)
A downside of Sorcerer is so few spells known, which makes playing repetitious ("My turn again? I cast Magic Missile, yet again.") A downside of Wizard is fewer spells per day, resulting in feeling useless after a few encounters ("I know it's not even noon yet, but can we rest for the night?") My goal is to have a class that gives the fun of casting a lot, and casting a lot of different spells, without being overpowered. I notice how many monsters have the "1/day" ability to cast various spells, and thought that would be fun for a PC, therefore:

Enter the Occultist. An Occultist is one who has developed the ability to channel arcane spells through bodily discipline and focus. Like Sorcerer they have no spellbook, where instead the Occultist maintains the ability to cast within their body's energy field, which they refresh through meditation and yoga after a good night's sleep. They know a good number of spells, and can also cast a good number per day. Their main restriction is that each spell known can only be cast once per day. An occultist can never cast a known spell more than once per day, any more than you can do something that requires three hands. If you're one who can figure out creative ways to use utility or less common spells in combat, you'll do well as and enjoy playing an Occultist. :)

The primary stat for an Occultist is something different: Constitution! An Occultist learns bonus spells (which means the corresponding number of bonus spells/day) based on his CON modifier (like how related classes can cast more with a high primary stat). Like a Sorcerer, an Occultist chooses new spells on level up, but can never learn more spells unless they level up again or get a really high CON.

Other than the above, an Occultist is like a Wizard, with d4 HD, same class skills and skill points, save progression, limited weapon proficiency, and the ability to gain a Familiar at 1st level. Like Wizard an occultist can choose to specialize in a school of magic, gaining an extra spell in a particular school in each spell rank at the expense of always avoiding spells in other schools.

So what do you think? Is a set of 1/day spells a horrible limitation, an incredible asset, or something in between? How many spells known i.e. per day should an Occultist get? Same as Sorcerer, or perhaps a bit more since unlike Sorcerer your spells "memorized" are always the same each day?

2005-11-15, 11:03 PM
Wow... Con as a prime requisite. I thought I was going to hate this idea, but I actually love it.

To balance out the character, the spells known list is probably going to have to be bigger than any other class, because, while I think it's really cool, one spell once a day is a wicked limitation. I don't think that the player should get a higher spell level ceiling, though; that always risks an imbalance.

2005-11-15, 11:04 PM
Well, yes, it is rather limiting, in my opinion. You'd have to get a huge suite of abilities, fairly powerful ones too. It'd kind of be a reverse-warlock, which has few powers useable infinite times per day.

And Con casting? Ditch it.

Here are the reasons for ditching it:
1. Makes multiclassing a pain, at leasting with casters, as it doesn't have any synergy with others.
2. Way too useful ability score. Constituition has higher returns than, say, Charisma, or Wisdom, maybe even Intellegence. It just doesn't really seem to fit.

2005-11-16, 07:58 PM

Alignment: Any Chaotic

Hit Die: d6

Class Skills:

The cultistís class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Autohypnosis (Wis), Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge [Arcana] (Int), Knowledge [Nature] (Int), Knowledge [Psionics], Knowledge [Religion] (Int), Knowledge [The Planes] (Int), Profession (Wis), Psicraft (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Use Magic Device (Cha), and Use Psionic Device (Cha).

Skill Points at 1st Level:

(4 + Int modifier) ◊ 4.

Skill Points at Each Additional Level:

4 + Int modifier.

Class Features: All of the following are class features of the cultist.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency:

Cultists are proficient with all simple weapons, kukris, rapiers, scythes, whips, and shuriken. They are proficient with light armor but not shields.

Spells and Powers

Cultists do not cast spells, but instead gain spell-like and psi-like abilities due to the passionate and somewhat reckless nature with which they study the supernatural.

At each level, a cultist gains the ability to cast any one spell or power of the appropriate level from any class list once per day, for a total of 20 different psi-like and spell-like abilities at 20th level.

The caster level or manifester level of the power is equal to one half the cultist's class levels, minimum 1.

Extra Spell-like Ability:

At fourth level and every fourth level afterwards (4th, 8th, 12th, 16th, 20th), a Cultist can increase her uses per day for any one spell-like or psi-like ability by two, up to a maximum of 5/day.

Bonus Feat:

At first level and every fifth level afterwards (1st, 5th, 10th, 15th, 20th), a Cultist gains a bonus feat from the following list:

Animal Affinity
Ability Focus
Brew Potion
Empower Spell-Like/Psi-Like Ability
Quicken Spell-Like/Psi-Like Ability
Psionic Affinity
Psicrystal Affinity
Psionic Body
Scribe Tattoo

Alternately, a Cultist can choose to take on the Summon Familiar, or Animal Companion class abilities.

More Later

2005-11-16, 08:18 PM
So he could cast a lot of spells, but each one only once a day? Should be careful with that, there are many spells focusing on a certain area, so, for example, you could make excelent battlemages with this. It really depends on the spells they'll use. But the idea is very interesting.

And the CON casting... weird. That way you ignore the greatest pain in a spellcasters life, the low HP. It will result in 18 con, maybe 14 dex, 'screw the other abilities' versions. So now our dear caster has as many hp as the group tank. d4+4-->6.5, d10+1-->6.5

2005-11-16, 10:55 PM
I agree wholeheartedly with the anti-constitution thing. Con has far more use than any mental ability score. There is a reason why 3.5 psionics are all intelligence-based, instead of each class relating to one ability score. It's just too good to link it to a physical score.

And I like what you did with the class, Jonathon. And spell-/psi-like abilities are all Cha-based, so that'd solve the Con-based spellcasting problem. Though that's a really odd weapon selection you picked there. Seems pretty good overall.

2005-11-17, 07:18 PM
Thanks for the comments. :) Tying casting to CON came from considering where magical ability comes from. Casting based on CHA seems a bit illogical, as in why should I have more magic just because I'm pretty or persuasive? Casting based on INT is the same, where simple knowledge shouldn't result in magic, unless magic is something everybody can do in your world, if they but study it. And WIS is tied to divine casting. There doesn't seem to be a stat that refers to psychic ability. I think of magic as something not everybody has, where use or overuse puts a strain on your body or spirit. Magic obviously isn't related to STR or DEX, so that left CON to represent inner power.

Of course, since most Occultist builds will have 18 CON, that indeed effectively means having d10 HD, which certainly wasn't intended, as an Occultist should be almost as fragile as a Sor/Wiz. Since the Occultist as described makes use of spiritual "yoga and meditation", perhaps we can make its primary stat be WIS instead of CON. We'd then have an arcane instead of a divine caster using WIS. The three arcane casters then become:
Wizard: INT based, few spells per day, medium spells known (can learn more), prepare in advance
Sorcerer: CHA based, medium spells per day, few spells known (can't learn more), cast any known
Occultist: WIS based, many spells per day, many spells known (can't learn more), cast each 1/day
A 1st level Sor with 18 CHA can cast 4 1st level spells/day (they know 2)
A 1st level Wiz with 18 INT can cast 3 1st level spells/day (they know 7), one of the 3 being from their specialized school

How many spells/day should a 1st level Occultist with 18 WIS be able to cast? Let's say 6 (they know 6), one of which is from specialization. Example spells to pick are: Identify, Mage Armor, Magic Missile, Burning Hands, Color Spray, Sleep. Is having those 6 spells memorized all the time, better or worse or evenly balanced with the more flexible preparation or spontaneous casting of the Sor/Wiz?

I think an Occultist would be interesting for both new and experienced PC's to play. The newbie doesn't have to worry about what to prepare, as it's the same every day. They can have each spell on a "mana card", where they play each card to represent that particular "1/day" spell, where they get all their cards back after resting. The experienced player can make more interesting or creative tactical choices with all the spells they have available, e.g. using Tenser's Floating Disk to block in combat. :D

2005-11-18, 02:36 AM
Giving them twice as many spells as a sorceror and instantaneous casting is overpowered, even if they can only cast the spell once.

2005-11-18, 03:29 PM
I agree with Lysander, and personally, it seems that they should get just as many spells per day as the Sorcerer. "But they can only cast one fireball a day!" you say, to which I respond, "But they know more spells than a Wizard of that level (assuming he doesn't learn more)." You might want to give them some class ablities to counter thier weakness of likely having the wrong spell at the wrong time, but personally, I belive that having a lot of spells coupled with a lot of diversity pays for itself.

2005-11-18, 07:05 PM
I like this idea very much.

I agree with setting the number of spells known and castable per day to no more than the number of spells a sorcerer can cast per day.

However, I disagree with the other detractors about the CON as primary requisite score, and here is why:

Yes, the CON-based caster, putting best score in CON, will have a lot more hit points than a typical caster.

However, look at what he gives up!

-INT based casters will always have lots more skill points to spend, and get lots of bonuses on INT-based skills
-CHA based casters get lots of bonuses on CHA based skills
WIS based casters are extra-alert and get bonuses on WIS based skills, PLUS a bonus on Will saves.

As a CON based caster, he'll still have no armor and low dex and low strength, making him utterly unthreatening in melee combat. Yes, it'll take twice a long to kill him in sheer hitpoint-attrition as a mage or sorcerer. But he'll only be approximately as resiliant as a bard (who is buffed and has armor and better weapon choices) and not at all as effective as a cleric (armor and weapons) or druid (shapechange, weapons).

There are hardly any con-based skills.

So a CON based caster
-has low skill points
-has very few skill bonuses
-no armor and limited weapon choices
-good hit points
-bonus to Fort saves

It seems pretty balanced to me. The extra hitpoints are not, in sum, going to result in especially better survivability than most other caster classes... and only slightly better than mages and sorcerers. And out of combat, his skill levels are going to be weaker than most of the other spellcasting classes, generally.


2005-11-18, 08:25 PM
To help understand where the whole Charisma casters come from, I present this idea. Charisma can also be viewed as a willpower of sorts, like wisdom. But instead of being a reactive force, it is an active force. Charisma isn't just attractiveness or guile. Willpower can prevent bad things from happening, whereas the charisma willpower can simply -make- bad things happen. Take your sorceror. The natural ability to cast goes a long way, sure, but why do higher charisma scores make them better at casting? They simply want it more. Say they see a goblin coming at them, and they Really, REALLY want it to die. Their natural ability to cast kicks in, and boom. The higher the charisma, the more they want the person to explode, the harder it is to resist the effects or avoid them.

Does this make sense, or am I insane?

Personally, I like the idea of a CON based caster, but CON is more valuble than most stats, so the class would further need to be hampered than simply giving it the same feats and proficiencies and progression as a wizard.

2005-11-18, 10:33 PM
now, i'm far from an expert at class making, and i'm also far from an expert at DnD, but it seems to be a good way to make a CON based caster would be this:
For Each spell the Cultish casts, he must inflict one hit point of non-lethal damage on himself, as a Cultist casts the arcane from the very substance of his body.

Does that sound a little to... much?

2005-11-19, 12:05 PM
One way to balance a CON-based caster would be that the Spell DCs are set by a different stat, most likely CHA or WIS.

Miles Invictus
2005-11-20, 10:07 AM
now, i'm far from an expert at class making, and i'm also far from an expert at DnD, but it seems to be a good way to make a CON based caster would be this:
For Each spell the Cultish casts, he must inflict one hit point of non-lethal damage on himself, as a Cultist casts the arcane from the very substance of his body.

Does that sound a little to... much?

I think it's a pretty cool idea, but it would need a lot of tweaking. Keep in mind that under that sort of system, the caster regains spells every time he's healed. One way to solve this would be to have it reduce his maximum HP as well, until he gets rest. You'd probably want to have higher spell levels cost more HP, too.