View Full Version : Refinement and brainstorming for a battlefield control class

2011-04-20, 02:50 PM
I've had a base class idea rolling around in my head for a while: A character that can create, customize, and produce various obstacles or objects on a battlefield or any other situation. My basic ideas are as follows:

The main class feature is creating an object , which takes a standard action. Each object can be assigned an Offense, Defense, and Utility seed. Seeds are learned at a fairly fast rate (not sure how fast) and take up a number of points based on how powerful they are. There will be some restriction to learning too-powerful seeds (probably 1/2 the maximum points usable per round), but regardless, the class will only be able to allocate points into an object up to a total of their class level. The class will have a reserve of points (and the size of it is my main balancing problem) which it allocates to these objects, and when it runs out, no more objects can be placed. Points are immediately returned to the reserve when an object is dismissed (move or swift action).

Design principles for the seeds:
Offense: Damage or detrimental effects, usually reactive. Higher levels may produce auras, but for the most part this seed category is intended to oppose enemies.
Defense: Alter terrain, create obstacles, or provide some other defensive bonus. Auras that give defensive bonuses to allies are possible, but should have a high point value.
Utility: Creates an effect that does not deal damage or create a tangible obstacle (such as a darkness effect) or alters this object or other objects in some way.


Points: 3
When this object is walked through, it activates, dealing 1d6 damage per [class] level in a 10-foot burst. This consumes the object. This seed may only be used when the object is not solid.

Points: 1
The object grows to encompass a five-foot cube, blocking passage to all corporeal creatures. It has 4 hp per [class] level and a hardness of 5, but otherwise behaves as if it were stone.
NOTE: A higher-value version of this will likely be made that allows for multiple squares to be made at once.

Points: 4
Whenever another object within 30 feet would be consumed or destroyed, this object can be destroyed instead, restoring the other object as if it were instantly recreated. If this would cause it to trigger again, it cannot do so until the beginning of the [class]'s next turn. This seed cannot be used to restore objects with the Rejuvenation seed.

Probable basic info:
HD: d6
BAB: Poor
Saves: Will good, fort/reflex poor
Skill points: 2+int
Int-based abilities/saves.

I'm looking for input on balancing class features (especially the size of the class's point reserve), sources of inspiration for seed abilities, and overall commentary on how to improve the class.

2011-04-20, 03:37 PM
Hmm, around here somewhere was a seed based casting system and a base class, but I'm fairly certain it worked nothing like this. It might have interesting tidbits for inspiration for seeds and whatnot, though. It took like a Fire Seed and added a Burst component and then had special little things to make certain seeds better. Very interesting class.

This, though, hmm... Unless you get access to every seed, I'd suggest against creating a larger seed to cover a larger area and instead include ways of augmenting the base seed like a psionic power. For instance, lets say you toss out a block of wood 5x5x5 to make a cube to obstruct the advance of your enemies. Thats a first level spell, called Blockade from Complete Scoundrel. Well, almost. Blockade is a swift action, only lasts 3 rounds, and has a HUGE number of HP. Creating a barrier like that as a standard action that lasts so long as you allocate your resources to it seems perfectly reasonable for a 1st level ability, and I could see it taking around one quarter to three quarters of your current limit.

I might suggest using a system that vaguely compares to the Essentia progression of Incarnum. First level you've got 1 Seed Point (or whatever) to throw around, but by 20 you can have a bunch of things running, or maybe just a few really big things.

Maybe put together a few Level 0 Spell Equivalent seeds that every [Class Name] knows that don't take up resources but only last for a very short period and/or have underwhelming effects. Like a 1-off Grease-esque 5ft square (ie, it forces only one save/balance check before being used up), an elemental zap trap, and something else.

2011-04-20, 08:03 PM
I've done a lot of thinking about about zone-based magic systems and spell seeds, and from all that I can tell you this:

It's really hard to write.

Seriously. Depending on how you want to flavour it, there are ways that you can set up the basic system. One of the most elegant I've seen proposed is a having a pool of magical mojo points that you can pour into various zone effects. When you set up a zone you can buy benefits from seeds similar to what you're suggesting here. Then when you break apart the zone you get the points back and can go put them somewhere else.

The problem is that it's incredibly hard to balance and write. It's very easy to do energy damage with this sort of system, because that's pretty much the one effect of spellcasting that scales linearly with effort. So you can easily say that with one point of mojo invested the effect deals acid 1d6 damage, and with 12 points in it it deals 12d6 acid damage. But it's nearly impossible to write any other kind of effect and have it be balanced. How do you price a seed for entangle? How do you scale that like you would energy damage? What about something like glitterdust? Or animate dead? All the COOL things that we want magic to be able to do are almost impossible to do with this kind of system. Anything that's not pouring various kinds of energy damage into various holes is going to be almost impossible to pull off.


If you're interested, I can copypasta my notes from my last serious attempt at designing this kind of system. It might be useful for ideas for you, but I warn you that a system like this is almost never feasible, hence why I abandoned it. If it helps, though...

The idea was a runic-based writing system where you would mark various runes on the floor and then depending on the trigger it would go off when something happened. Keep in mind these were notes to myself and not at all in any way an actual system.

How it All Works

Basically, you write a short sentence into whatever it is that you’re using. You can scribe runes on a whole bunch of different surfaces, and as you level up you get access to more and more of them. Even weird ones, like water or fire or in the air or glass or blood or flesh or stuff.

The default trigger for the rune is when it’s touched. This means you can leave it where someone will walk on it, or scribe it on a weapon, or write it on your hand and touch someone or anything else like that. You can also put a different trigger on it to run itself when someone does a certain action. Like


Every rune has a certain sensing radius to trigger it, which you can set when you build it. So if the scriber of this rune were to set it at, say, 50ft., then when any living creature made noise within 50ft. of the rune, the nearest kobold would explode. Neat, huh?

If you wanted to just blow up in the reader’s face, you can make it even simpler.



Or lets say that you have a mess of undead and you want to be able to heal them regularly. Well, you can make a semi-permanent rune that will heal any undead that steps on it.


Now whenever one of your zombies steps on it, they’ll heal, and the rune will recharge itself from your mana. These passive drains can add up, though, so don’t go making too many recharging runes or you’ll be out of juice!

There are so many commercial uses too! Think of the bog-standard everburning torch. Well, you can make one with just a few words!


You could do it with just one, but you need to put juice into the rune that it’ll use. If you just say [SHINE], then it’ll immediately start to shine when you touch it until it burns out. It’s much more useful to to make this conditional verb, which will only shine when it’s being held. So if someone puts it down, the rune goes out and stops draining mojo.

When you scribe a rune, you need to charge each word with mojo. Some are very important, like [BURN], where the amount of mojo decides how much damage it does. Some, like [AND] you want to put the least in possible since it makes no difference. However, you need to put in at lease half of the mojo into either side of any given rune. So if you had something simple like

[BURN] [WITH] [ACID] scribed on a sword so that anyone it hits will, well, burn with acid, the important words to charge are BURN and ACID, obviously. But if you put, say, 6 points of mojo into both of those, you also have to put 3 points into WITH because it’s beside them. So the whole rune takes 15 points of mojo. Mojo recharges over short periods of time, but not while it’s tied up in a rune.

A common method of creating mindless undead for use around the house is the simple phrase


LIVE normally returns someone to life, but only if you put in enough mojo. Otherwise, it makes an animated corpse. In this case, the corpse is animated and will follow spoken commands. When the rune powering the corpse runs out, it’ll automatically draw more power from whoever scribed it, making a continual servant. Because each word only needs a single point of mojo, this handy manservant can be made for a measly 6 points of mojo.

Runic practicioners are limited only by their creativity and mojo and vocabulary and rune length. They can string together almost any sentence they please, and it’ll then try to run itself when triggered. There are almost limitless kinds of runes that can be created for any kind of situation.

You can have up to 20 points of mojo in a rune, and the limit is 1/runewriting level.





Follow Orders

Speed Up
Slow Down

Make Noise





Marked Creature



Positive Energy
Negative Energy



Marked Territory


Runescriber– The spellcaster of the bunch. Gets the most vocabulary, the most mojo, everything you’d expect.
Runic Knight– Martial knight who adorns her armor and weapon with special runes. Can absorb normal magic and transform it into mojo.
Skald– Barbarian bard with runic powers
Runethief– Roguish fellow who disassembles runes and steals their power and vocabulary

2011-04-21, 02:08 PM
Most effects that don't scale linearly would have a point value based on their spell level (or just self-determined power level) and have a fixed base save DC close to their save DC as a normal spell. Entangle would just be as the spell, probably a two or three point defensive seed, Glitterdust would be offensive, triggered by entering the square, probably two points but single-target. I might give a way to buff the save DC, but it'd be expensive. I don't see a need to make every seed augmentable, so basic spell effects should be fairly simple.

I'll try to put some serious effort into throwing together the class framework this weekend. I'm at work tonight, but there should be some progress made later. I'll at least have a class table up with the core abilities. From there it's just a matter of spewing out seeds (I'm aiming for about 50-75 seeds to choose from. The class will have access to 30-40 by the time they hit level 20).

EDIT: Compared to the rune system, this isn't so much a piecemeal system where you cobble together effects. You have a set number of slots you can fill on every object. It's just a matter of choosing which seeds to put in rather than putting together complicated phrasing like that. You can always just leave slots empty, of course. Simplicity (as simple as a magic system can get, anyway) is a major goal for me here.

2011-04-21, 11:25 PM
This probably won't work for you or help at all, but perhaps you could write this as an incarnum class, feeding essentia into field effects to dictate their abilities. Such a class could have a number of default "soulmelds" that manifest as said field effects, but instead of binding to chakras like other incarnum users, they would bind modifiers (name pending) to the soulmelds for further effects. This would mean you have a number of effects maintained at a time, as well as a number of modifiers, as well as an amount of essentia in each effect or modifier. Complicated enough yet?