View Full Version : [D&D 3.5e] The Masters of Schools of Magic

2010-03-16, 08:06 AM
Some time ago, there was a thread by an aspiring writer about creating builds for the greatest specialist of each school of magic (and a generalist). Idea was that they'd all be spliced upon once chassis la Soul Splice in some manner of Supergestalt, and thus provide the splicer unparalleled mastery over all 8 schools of magic. You can find the thread here (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/archive/index.php?t-132989.html) (it's archived).

We arrived at some quite appropriate builds, but it always left me wondering if there were more to do. In particular, I was sad that in the end the Evoker was using Incantatrix (which, while obviously "best" is also in no ways iconic to any school of magic, and totally broken to boot), and some of them just felt a tad unfinished. They were also epic (to accommodate Epic Counterspell, Cosmic Descryer and Agent Retriever among others), which while cool is...beyond the limits of most campaigns.

Soo, I figured I'd like to see what could be done to further work out the feel for each school and build. Here are the builds for each, my own comments and what I think needs working on.

Cleric 1/Abj 3/Master Specialist 10/Initiate of the Seven Fold Veil 7/Archmage3/Mage of the Arcane Order 3

Pretty obvious and I think this doesn't take much work. Abjuration is fairly obvious; counter and deflect magic and violence alike and focus on doing what Abjuration does best. This build is Epic so condensing it to 20:

Illumian Cloistered Cleric 1/Abjurer 1/Master Specialist 10/Initiate of the Sevenfold Veil 7/Archmage 1 (Mastery of Counterspelling)

With Improved Sigil: Krau to enter Master Specialist on 3. Divine Defiance is obviously in there, as is Arcane Mastery. Feels really appropriate; very powerful defensive abilities, incredible dispelling and countermagic, able to wreck anything magical offensively with limited options to act offensively towards mundane opponents.
I don't think this needs much work overall; it feels just right. Pre-emptive note, I don't feel Abjurant Champion has any place here since its abilities don't really enhance what Abjurers are all about and these are Wizards, not Gishes.

Conj 5/Malconvoker 9 /Wyrm Wizard 2 /Thaumaturgist 5/Cosmic Descryer 6

Pestersome how difficult Thaumaturgist is for a Wizard to enter. Getting Summoner-domain would be optimal, but difficult, so we'll have to skip it and just rely on Arcane Disciple instead, losing out on the tasty +2 CL for Summons and Calls. We can fit a level of Wayfarer Guide to hammer the other aspect of Conjuration, and Master Conjurer for tasty GSF. Thus, I suggest:

Conjurer 3/Master Conjurer 2/Malconvoker 9/Thaumaturgist 5/Wayfarer Guide 1

Could use some focusing on getting the most out of the summons. Pretty damn appropriate though, and Thaumaturgist has the nice side-effect of enabling some action economy screwage too. Order should probably be a bit different to gain Thaumaturgist-based Augment Summoning ASAP, saving a feat there.
This one feels quite right too, managing to have some special abilities for all the aspects of Conjuration (except the nice Fog-spells without saves). Master Conjurer 10 would be great, but kinda undoable without giving up too much. May be worth tinkering with, but ultimately not in the need of most attention.

Div 5/Divine Oracle 10/Fatespinner 4/Loremaster 8

Nothing fancy, pretty obvious. Need Diviner 5 for Spontaneous Divination and umm...that's about it. Divine Oracle and Fatespinner are the best-fitting Divination-classes IMHO. As such:

Div 5/Divine Oracle 10/Loremaster 1/Fatespinner 4

Nothing much to say here; screws fate, immune to surprise, rerolls, etc. Loremaster gets the DO prereq feat back not to mention UMD in class and cool stuff like that.
This one feels pretty perfect. Can't think of any classes or ACFs that embody Divination better. Maybe make it a Kobold with Draconic Rite of Passage to get Identify for free, but that seems mostly unnecessary.

Ench 5/Mindbender 1/Nightmare Spinner 5 /Dread Witch 5/Master Specialist 10/Archmage 1

This one has some set levels. The issue is, there's no real 10-level class to take here. Mindbender has good ability for 1 level, but then it starts losing out, just gaining things you can replicate with spells while losing caster levels.

Nightmare Spinner's Enchantment Adaptation is obvious, but it's only 5 levels. For whatever reason, fear-effects are actually Necromancy, but meh. Master Enchanter sucks major monkey and Archmage has nothing appropriate. This thus begs the question, how to finish this?

Enchanter 5/Mindbender 1/Nightmare Spinner (Enchantment Adaptation) 5 is obvious, but that leaves 9 levels doing heapin' helpings of nothing. Even with Dread Witch, it'd still be 4.
Needs something iconic to finish this off. I'm drawing craptons of blanks.

Evok 5/Incantatrix 10/War Mage 5 /Argent Savant 5/Archmage 2

This one I was quite disappointed with, since, well, it uses Incantatrix. Assuming we want to avoid that, this is hard since Evokers do have tons of PrCs, true, but all of them except War Mage [Age of Mortals] suck. Well, Argent Savant and Force Missile Mage have something going on for them, but they feel a bit too specialized.

Instead of Incantatrix, I feel we could use something a bit less generic and one that plays into specifically Evoker's strengths by upping caster level and giving metamagic in Ultimate Magus. Thus, proposed build:

Evoker 5/Ultimate Magus 9/Nar Demonbinder 1/War Mage 5

Alternative lines of build would involve Beguiler or Sorcerer instead of Nar Demonbinder as probably more appropriate, but less powerful options. However, as that does mean we finish UM and thus gain 8th use of Augment Casting per day alongside ability to Augment 5th level spells, I guess we should consider:

Evoker 4/Warmage 1/Ultimate Magus 10/War Mage 5

With Krau-sigil Illumian and Practiced Spellcaster: Warmage, all the "one-sided improvements" should be applicable to Evoker-side with Warmage acting as Augment Battery never actually casting spells. Warmage CL is basically +6, meaning being behind by 4 means it'll be even just for the last last one-sided level-up of Ultimate Magus, giving up 19th level Wizard-casting (with Caster Level 24+then some).

Beguiler and Sorc just feel less appropriate than Warmage, which even provides the build with the almighty Warmage Edge (huzzah)! Besides, I wanna use Warmage and War Mage in the same build. But really, Warmage is there only to emphasize that the second side never does anything but provide you with 4th+ level slots for Augment Casting to Twin stuff for free and such. Given you end up with exactly 8th level casting in Warmage giving you ~4-5 4th level slots, that'll work out just fine.

Surprisingly enough, Warmage Edge isn't all that horrible here with the Int-focus; it's effectively a couple of extra dice per spell around 20, which while not notable, is actually not bad for no investment whatsoever. Of course, since the stupid class feature is restricted to Warmage spells, it still sucks major balls.

But yeah, on level 20, this guy can cast just about any Evocation to decent effect; even Polar Ray would deal 25d6+75 points of damage without modification. And since this guy is quite adept at applying Metamagic, the actually good spells like Combust, Scorching Ray and company (of course, you still want to cast Orbs) can reach frightening damage potential; Admixtured, Twinned Scorching Ray deals 48d6+144 damage; easily over 300.

You can also apply Rods after Augmenting so Augment X into Twin Spell, then apply e.g. Empower works quite well.
I guess the Warmage-build is ultimately the most appropriate. Of course, Beguiler would be stronger with Int-based casting providing plenty of slots, but ultimately it looks to be about 1 more slot only, so not that impressive.

Ill 5/Shadowcrafter 10 /Shadowcraft Mage 5/Shadow Adept 7

Not much to say here, incredibly straight-forward, Gnome Illusionist with all the non-Incantatrix Shadow stuff and Chains of Disbelief and such. Makes real Illusions, makes Illusionary Illusions, does whatever the hell he wants.


Illusionist 3/Master Illusionist 2/Shadowcrafter 9 /Shadowcraft Mage 5/Shadow Adept 1

Not much to say; when all your spells give save and are of one school, Greater Spell Focus is fairly good.
Not much to say, feels quite right though the fact that almost all its class features focus on Shadow-school alone (with all the types of Illusions around) is a bit pity; Chains of Disbelief helps here tho.

(Dread Necro 8/Incantatrix 10/Archmage 5 // Necro 5/Pale Master 10/Master Specialist 8)/Ultimate Magus 10

Badbadbadbadbad, won't do at all! This was the core of the villain and thus naturally gestalt and a bit different overall, so for a different goal, this requires changes. Pale Master is...meh, thematic, but disappointing. I'm really tempted to just go Dread Necro here, but gotta stick to the rules. I frankly have 0 ideas here. I mean, I guess you could add Dread Witch if it doesn't go to Enchanter, but let's face it, this guy is about controlling tons of Undead and that doesn't help there at all!

Yathrinshee [PGtF], Pale Master [Libris Mortis], True Necromancer [Libris Mortis], etc. all just kinda suck. Help! Someone find a non-sucky Necromancy PrC for a Wizard! Other than that, there's I guess just...

Necromancer 5/Pale Master 10/Dread Witch 5 is the best I've got. At least you get those UA Necromancer variants.
Sucks, someone fix this up, please! I'd really wish this needn't just go Dread Necro 20 to break the mold of every other just being the appropriate specialist Wizard but I'm learning towards that more and more... Even just stacking Rebuking on Wizard would be great.

Trans 5/War Weaver 5 /Master Transmogrifist 10/Swiftblade 7

War Weaver is a fine idea; I like it. Master Transmogrifist is nice, except for the whole "loses 4 CLs"-thing and Swiftblade is pretty iconic. This one is hard, mostly 'cause specialist Transmutation classes mostly suck for casting. On the flipside, they both have incredible abilities... Decisions, decisions.

Transmuter 5/War Weaver 5/Swiftblade 9/X 1 would be pretty fitting, but too Gishy IMHO, and too lost CL. Master Transmogrifist could be fairly decent alternative, but only if you get all 10 levels since the level 10 ability is the one that actually does something worthwhile...which would cost you Shapechange. It doesn't help that War Weaver already loses a caster level.

May be time to bring up Spellguard of Silverymoon; even awesome outside Silverymoon itself being able to cast some Personal spells as Touch and then some.

Short of it:
Transmuter 5/War Weaver 5/Master Transmogrifist or Swiftblade 10 would work if ignoring lost CLs, but that doesn't exactly work for the "best specialist ever"...

Transmuter 5/War Weaver 5/Spellguard of Silverymoon 5/X 5

Of course, the problem is that X 5 can't be Master or Swiftblade since they don't get anything really worthwhile in 5 levels. It could just be something basic like Incantatrix, Archmage or such, but that hardly screams TRANSMUTER at me. Halp?
So yeah, some options exist, but this needs work unless one decides to let the caster levels go with Master Transmogrifist.

Overall, recap (by my eyes).


Needs Work:

Soo, help with especially the "Needs Work"-crowd? Note, I'm intentionally avoiding "generic PrCs" as much as possible, as well as specialist classes mostly for the purity of having all specialist Wizards represented.

2010-03-16, 09:16 AM
Try Lord of the Dead (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/dx20021031x) for your necro.

What's the aim of the Evoker anyway? straight-up old-school blastan?
A Wyrm Wizard with Miracle, Holy F-Word and Wings of Cover would make Evocation look pretty boss.

2010-03-16, 09:26 AM
I object to the very idea that Conjuration is represented well at all by focusing on summons and Calling.

2010-03-16, 09:30 AM
I object to the very idea that Conjuration is represented well at all by focusing on summons and Calling.

Well, in this way it does not step in other schools' toes, if you know what I mean...

*points the orbizard*

2010-03-16, 09:39 AM
Try Lord of the Dead (http://www.wizards.com/dnd/article.asp?x=dnd/dx20021031x) for your necro.

What's the aim of the Evoker anyway? straight-up old-school blastan?
A Wyrm Wizard with Miracle, Holy F-Word and Wings of Cover would make Evocation look pretty boss.

Figured that dealing damage is the iconic role of the school, and there's precious little to add to Walls of Force, Contingencies and the like besides few Mastery-abilities anyways, so I figured making damage effects actually deal relevant amounts of damage could be a good starting point.

Obviously the character would use the actually good Evocations too, but I figured if one is to use PrCs to specialize a school, damage is the only rational specialization, and one that actually has classes available. Of course, optimally you'd want "Improved Metamagic.class", but I really don't want to cram Incantatrix or Dweomerkeeper in there... Especially since Incantatrix's other abilities are mostly awesome for buffing, control and anti-magic. Sigh.

Lord of the Dead looks somewhat decent...but that still leaves 10 "Meh"-levels to work with.

I object to the very idea that Conjuration is represented well at all by focusing on summons and Calling.

There's very little to do for Fogs & al. with classes/feats. What can be done is being done with GSF and Extraordinary Spell Aim; beyond that, there's just precious little material to improve upon the rest of Conjuration. Besides, they're awesome as they are; they don't necessarily need much work. I mean, pick Sculpt Spell and profit.

Wayfarer Guide is there specifically for the Teleportation, but the issue is that only one level of it is any good; losing CL for the minor benefits the rest provides just isn't worth it.

2010-03-16, 11:46 AM
I think more than build, the epitomy of each archetype should be emphasized by where they live, and what types of people they are.

Eg. The conjurer is a realistic sort, feet firmly on the ground, lives in a solid wizards tower surrounded by fog and outsiders, but he moves it about from time to time.

Illusionist lives a lie. A new one every day, in a house of illusory mirrors, non which reflect the truth. etc etc.

2010-03-16, 10:53 PM
Here's an idea for Necromancer. It needs human and 1 flaw, I recommend Noncombatant. Or maybe trade your familiar for a feat (I keep hearing you can do that). Or see if your DM will let a Toad familiar count as Toughness, like in 3.0. Any way...

Necromancer Great Fortitude, Spell Focus (Necromacy), Toughness (flaw/familiar)
Necromancer Iron Will
Master Specialist
Master Specialist
Blood Magus Spell Focus (Evil), has strong Fort save and Bluff class skill
Ur Priest
Ur Priest
Mystic Theurge Arcane Disciple (Death)
Mystic Theurge
Mystic Theurge
Mystic Theurge (free feat)
True Necromancer-Wiz
True Necromancer-UP
True Necromancer (free feat)
True Necromancer
True Necromancer
True Necromancer-Wiz (freat feat)
Master Specialist
Master Specialist

Ends with 17th level Wizard casting, 10th level Ur Priest casting. Rebuke as 10the level Cleric. Aura of Desecrate, Create Undead spell like, and Minor Esoterica abilities.

If you can't get a flaw/trade familiar/get Toad to count, you can drop Master Necromancer levels, go Necromancer 5/Blood Magus 1/Ur Priest 2/Mystic Theurge 4/True Necromancer 6/Blood Magus +2, and wait until level 12 to take Spell Focus (Necromacy).

What do you think?

2010-04-09, 06:32 PM
Oooo I can help here I am working on an evoker for an all wizard campaign (silly I know).

Anyway the absolute best things I've been finding involve Elemental Savant, yeah 2 levels lost but getting your native plane changed is a great boon with planar bubble.

What I was doing was Evoker 5/ Elemental Savant 10/ Archmage 5 (though due to changing some things I think aside from getting mastery of shaping archmage becomes more of a burden due to feat requirements.)

What really makes this work are certain spells and feats though. I was focusing on fire, purely because searing spell metamagic from sandstorm gets through all resistance and still does half damage to those with fire immunity.

Now an interesting thing with going for fire, becoming a fire elemental, and using Planar bubble. Basically you get an area around you that you can damage people with, as well as gain the benefits of being on the plane of fire, aka all fire spells maximized and enlarged! Enlarge not that great but free maximize is awesome. Other fun plane things could be being an air elemental, and getting objective gravity... so you can travel by falling places...which seems utterly ridiculous.

Now take arcane thesis on your favorite blasty spell, I personaly was going for Otilukes freezing sphere to be a silly master of the frozen flame, allowing me to add a ton of metamagic on for free like searing spell, and eventually allow it to be twined in a ninth level spot while still having as many +1 slot metamagics on it as you can. Either way it seems like a great way to deal a ton of damage fast, and the freezing sphere stops people from running away from you, a fire elemental, in the water. I was really thinking I was going to change the archmage to something else because I would rather take some extra metamagic, or even arcane thesis more than one spell just to be able to use those spells in extremely silly ways. The elemental savant just greatly boosts you DC and caster level to penetrate SR with all spells of your element, and getting searing spell just means you get to ignore anyones resistance to your element, and still damage people who should be immune (note: be careful this means you could hurt yourself!)

Also thinking of being a focused evoker to get as many spells as a sorcerer per day, I mean if you focus on blasting to the extreme who needs a wide variety of schools?

2010-04-09, 07:37 PM
Yes that's really nice and wait, what? Iconic evoker using Planar Bubble (an abjuration) as his primary awesome? That's like basing an Evoker on the Orb-spells or Maw of Chaos; efficient but not an evoker. While it does enhance your spells, the fact that the Evoker is a one-element miracle (while evocation encompasses them all and thus a master evoker should, IMHO, be proficient in them all and indeed, proficient enough to vary the energy types) doesn't really feel right to me.

Thanks, but I don't think it has the feel I want. Besides, War Mage is pretty insane; I think you might want to look at it too. It's in Age of Mortals. Adds damage to your spells on a per die basis. Yeah.

2010-04-09, 08:11 PM
currently playing a muter... and wont even consider going into master muter cuz of the lamesauce rewards.

opting to go into War Weaver instead. cool stuff. all at the cost of one spell level. but to combo that with the 3 level loss in transmogrifist... just sucks all together. loss of caster levels = loss of power.

edit: War Weaver is a must for a muter IMO.

2010-04-09, 08:56 PM
Cloistered Cleric 1/Necromancer 5/SacEx 1/Pale Master 9/Master Specialist 4 isn't bad at all. No doubt it could be better, but it does its job quite well.