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    Default [3.5] The Reserve Mage


    A reserve mage activating the Storm Bolt feat.

    There are a multitude of paths to magical power. You can study books, worship gods, tap into primal songs, or simply shape spells through the force of your will. There is another path though, one that few walk, for it is the path of gradual yet continuous power: the reserve feats. A reserve mage is one who has learned to give themselves over to the power offered by reserve feats, body and soul.

    Prerequisites:
    Skills: Spellcraft 6 ranks.
    Feats: At least one reserve feat.
    Spellcasting: Able to cast 2nd level spells.
    Special: Must have spent one entire adventure using nothing but their wits, equipment, and reserve feats, and not cast a single spell.

    Hit Dice: d4
    Skill Points at Each Level: 2 + Int modifer.
    The reserve mage's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Profession (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).

    The Reserve Mage
    {table=head]Level|Base Attack Bonus|Fort Save|Ref Save|Will Save|Special|Spells

    1st|
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +2
    |Reserve Power|---

    2nd|
    +1
    |
    +0
    |
    +0
    |
    +3
    |Reserve Feats|+1 level of existing spellcasting class

    3rd|
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +3
    |Reserve Feats, Reserve Fuse|+1 level of existing spellcasting class

    4th|
    +2
    |
    +1
    |
    +1
    |
    +4
    |Reserve Feats|+1 level of existing spellcasting class

    5th|
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +2
    |
    +4
    |Reserve Feats, Master of Reservation|---[/table]

    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Reserve mages gain no weapon or armor proficiencies.

    Spellcasting: At 2nd, 3rd, and 4th level, reserve mages gain an increase in spells/day and spells known, as though they had gained a level in whatever spellcasting class they belonged to before taking levels in reserve mage.

    Reserve Power (Ex): A reserve mage gains the amazing ability to act as a fountain of power for their reserve feats. The reserve mage uses their Reserve Mage level as the level of spells they are able to cast for purposes of selecting reserve feats. They are treated as always having a spell of a level of one higher than their normal maximum for purposes of activating reserve feats.

    Reserve Feats: At 2nd level and each level thereafter, the reserve mage gains any two bonus reserve feats they qualify for as bonus feats.

    Reserve Fuse (Ex): At 3rd level, the reserve mage learns how to activate multiple reserve feats at once. He can use a standard action to use two reserve feats instead of just one. Each feat acts as normal.

    Master of Reservation (Ex): At 5th level, the reserve mage learns how to eke the best out of their reserve feats. The reserve mage's reserve feats are now Extraordinary instead of Supernatural. Further, they may use reserve feats as a swift action, at their option. The reserve mage may use Master of Reservation and Reserve Fuse together to use two reserve feats as a swift action.
    Last edited by arguskos; 2010-04-18 at 01:48 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    To-Come! I accidentally hit Post!!
    Buahaha! Foiled again!

    Real critique below.

    Using reserve feats is fun, but losing three caster levels for it is a big punch to the face. While you are able to get some nice at-will effects from the feats (and you have, what, nine at least?), losing spellcasting ability is a pretty big disadvantage.

    That said, I like the class because I like reserve feats. I was thinking about how they needed some supplements just two days ago, and now you've come to save the day. Fortunate circumstance.

    The only problem I see text-wise is the bonus feat section. What happens if you don't qualify to take any reserve feats? Do you get bonus feats selectable from a different list? No feats at all? Do you save the feats for later until you do qualify?
    Last edited by Temotei; 2010-03-29 at 12:39 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by Temotei221 View Post
    Using reserve feats is fun, but losing three caster levels for it is a big punch to the face. While you are able to get some nice at-will effects from the feats (and you have, what, nine at least?), losing spellcasting ability is a pretty big disadvantage.
    Consider the following: Wizard 3/Reserve Mage 5/Wizard +12. You get 9th level spells, 9 reserve feats that are keyed off 9th level effects from level 8 forward, and generally kick ass.

    Oh, and you can do it with Cleric too.

    EDIT: Considering that failing to qualify is actually impossible assuming you follow standard entry (there are SEVEN reserve feats in CMage that only need 2nd level spells to qualify for), I don't care much about that possibility.
    Last edited by arguskos; 2010-03-29 at 12:42 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    There are a multitude of paths to magical power. You can study books, worship gods, tap into primal songs, or simply shape spells through the force of your will. There is another path though--one that few walk, for it is the path of gradual, yet continuous power: the reserve feats. A reserve mage is one who has learned to give themselves over to the power offered by reserve feats, body and soul.

    Skill Points at Each Level
    2 + Int modifer.
    The reserve mage's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Profession (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int).
    Fixed. The bold and underlined parts are my fixes.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by Temotei221 View Post
    Fixed. The bold and underlined parts are my fixes.
    Done. It's 2 AM here, so I didn't feel like doing it right dammit.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    I was initially going to raise the question about the three lost caster levels. But, your correct on its general power level.

    The fact remains this PrC greatly helps Wizard, Wu Jen, Cleric and Druid, but totally bones Sorcerer and other spont. casters, who gain 9th level casting at 18th, not 17th. Which, with this PrC, they'll never see. That effectivly makes this PrC off limits to them, while giving the already top heavy and clearly better non-spont. casters way more toys to play with.

    The above isn't so much a punch to the face for spont casters, but pushing them down an invalid down the stairs.
    Last edited by Innis Cabal; 2010-03-29 at 12:48 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    It's certainly a nice concept. I would prefer it though if "one entire adventure" was changed to something a little more standardised after all, the number of encounters in an adventure varies rather dramatically.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    Done. It's 2 AM here, so I didn't feel like doing it right dammit.
    You'll do it my way and you'll like it!
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by Innis Cabal View Post
    I was initially going to raise the question about the three lost caster levels. But, your correct on its general power level.

    The fact remains this PrC greatly helps Wizard, Wu Jen, Cleric and Druid, but totally bones Sorcerer and other spont. casters, who gain 9th level casting at 18th, not 17th. Which, with this PrC, they'll never see.
    So? I was only pointing out that 9s are totally possible in some cases. It's not like Sorcs are REALLY hurting with only 8s anyways, given how powerful spells are anyways. This isn't meant to be a high-power PrC, just something fun for Reserve Feat fanatics.

    Honestly, the build I was looking it for this was Wizard 3/Reserve Mage 5/gishycrap +12. I thought it might be a fun character to play, if un-optimized.

    EDIT: Sereg, considering that I think of this PrC as a joke PrC and not something I'd actually expect to get to play, that was part of the joke for me, and a way to get people to have their DM ok the class. Besides, I think it's a fun challenge to get through a whole adventure (even just a few encounters perhaps) without using spells as a caster.
    Last edited by arguskos; 2010-03-29 at 12:51 AM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    So? I was only pointing out that 9s are totally possible in some cases. It's not like Sorcs are REALLY hurting with only 8s anyways, given how powerful spells are anyways. This isn't meant to be a high-power PrC, just something fun for Reserve Feat fanatics.

    Honestly, the build I was looking it for this was Wizard 3/Reserve Mage 5/gishycrap +12. I thought it might be a fun character to play, if un-optimized.
    Mmm...fun. I want to make a homebrew recruitment thread now.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by Temotei221 View Post
    Mmm...fun. I want to make a homebrew recruitment thread now.
    Dude, I'd totally play a Wizard/Cleric/Sorcerer/whatever-->Reserve Mage. It'd be, how do you say, "good times".

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    The three lost caster levels are kind of a kick in the pants. Yeah, you're netting eight reserve feats by taking this class, but, most reserve feats are of the "do Xd6 damage, where X is based on whatever spell is left in reserve." That being said, I would think one caster level loss may suffice at first. That or maybe throw the second loss at 5th.

    EDIT: Other options include giving it various class features that modify reserve feats, rather than just giving them more of them. Not sure what to do for that, but I'd kind of like to see someone be able to specialize in their chosen reserve feat(s) almost like a master specialist would do for his school of magic.
    Last edited by Thrice Dead Cat; 2010-03-29 at 01:09 AM.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    I really disagree that losing three caster levels is all that bad. Spells already rule the damn roost, and 8th level stuff is plenty powerful as it stands.

    However, what about if I changed Master of Reservation to an immediate action? In my mind, that more than makes it worth while.

    Also, Thrice Dead Cat, I've thought about that, but I'm unsure how to "specialize" in a single reserve feat. I'll mull it over.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    I really disagree that losing three caster levels is all that bad. Spells already rule the damn roost, and 8th level stuff is plenty powerful as it stands.
    But that's meaningless when you compare it to the entry classes. Yes, it's still plenty powerful - but taking a PrC should never be a self-nerf. Ideally, taking a PrC or single-classing should be equally powerful options. Therefore, any lost caster levels should be made up for with class features.

    I'm not convinced that you have. Three spellcasting levels is huge. In actual published material, there is not a single PrC I can think of that loses 3 spellcasting levels and is worth it. Incantatrix and Shadowcraft Mage would be worth it if they did lose the 3 levels, but they're pretty broken to begin with, and the Swiftblade loses 4 and is worth it for gishes, but this is not a gishy PrC by any means.

    So it's a cool idea, but poorly balanced against the entry classes. And that's the only meaningful judge of balance I can think of for PrCs.

    In other words, pretend its not a Wizard or Sorcerer entering - what if its a Warmage or Healer? Is it still balanced? (No, it's not)

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith View Post
    So it's a cool idea, but poorly balanced against the entry classes. And that's the only meaningful judge of balance I can think of for PrCs.
    I've seen this argument before, and it's worth pointing out that you are arguing that something needs to balanced against an inherently broken and unbalanced yardstick. I don't agree with this. It seems backwards to me: "so guys, there are these overpowering classes. We should make their prestige classes even BETTER, so they don't feel useless!" Instead of: "so guys, there are these overpowering classes. We should have there be a trade off of their inherent power for interesting class features in their prestige classes."

    You tell me which is better for the health of the game. I'm betting you're not going to argue that all caster PrCs need to be at Incantrix levels of strength.

    In other words, pretend its not a Wizard or Sorcerer entering - what if its a Warmage or Healer? Is it still balanced? (No, it's not)
    Actually, yeah, I'd say it is. The Warmage and Healer gain an array of effects they couldn't duplicate before, since the Reserve Mage automatically powers any reserve feat they take, such as the flight one, or the teleporting one, or the summoning one, regardless if you have an appropriate spell readied. The Warmage makes out a little worse (lots of damaging reserve feats), but the Healer only has one reserve feat that overlaps with what it can do (Touch of Healing).

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    You can still go only 4 levels in this class. Sure you lose on awesome ability, but on Sorceror and similiar casters you get 9 Reserve feats (keyed of level 8 spells), and level 9 spells.
    That can't be that bad.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    If it has full casting it's still hardly worth taking. There are much simpler ways to last longer with a Wizard and with spontaneous casters it's a non-issue.

    Have it lose 1 or 2 caster levels tops. Homebrew some reserve feats that are more then Xd6 damage. To many of them are the same thing.

    Maybe a swift action ability to sacrifice spell slots to fuel the Reserve feats past 9th level? As in, you have a Heightened Fireball sitting in your 9th level slot so your Firesomething feat does 9d6 fire damage as a standard action. As a swift action you may sacrifice a spellslot/prepared spell and you may add that level to your effective spellslot. So you sacrifice a 5th level slot and now your Reserve feat does 14d6 that round? Didn't explain it well and it needs a lot of rewording but you get what I mean I think.

    I think it's a good idea because one of the issues with Reserve feats is that they scale horribly at high level. 9d6 is poor damage at level 12. Let alone level 18... AND if you're using all those reserve feats instead of spell slots... you're wasting the spell slots! You gotta use them on something right?

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by Bodez View Post
    You can still go only 4 levels in this class. Sure you lose on awesome ability, but on Sorceror and similiar casters you get 9 Reserve feats (keyed of level 8 spells), and level 9 spells.
    That can't be that bad.
    That too. Also, you'd get 7 Reserve Feats. You don't get any at level 1.

    Quote Originally Posted by FishAreWet View Post
    If it has full casting it's still hardly worth taking. There are much simpler ways to last longer with a Wizard and with spontaneous casters it's a non-issue.

    Have it lose 1 or 2 caster levels tops. Homebrew some reserve feats that are more then Xd6 damage. To many of them are the same thing.

    Maybe a swift action ability to sacrifice spell slots to fuel the Reserve feats past 9th level? As in, you have a Heightened Fireball sitting in your 9th level slot so your Firesomething feat does 9d6 fire damage as a standard action. As a swift action you may sacrifice a spellslot/prepared spell and you may add that level to your effective spellslot. So you sacrifice a 5th level slot and now your Reserve feat does 14d6 that round? Didn't explain it well and it needs a lot of rewording but you get what I mean I think.

    I think it's a good idea because one of the issues with Reserve feats is that they scale horribly at high level. 9d6 is poor damage at level 12. Let alone level 18... AND if you're using all those reserve feats instead of spell slots... you're wasting the spell slots! You gotta use them on something right?
    Fish, I think you missed part of what Reserve Power does. You don't NEED spells prepped to power your reserve feats with this class. Hell, you could be completely empty, and as long as you have 5 levels of Reserve Mage, you still can be using all your reserve feats as if you have a 9th level spell prepped that powers all of them.

    However, yes, I do generally agree that many of the reserve feats are weaksauce (the damaging ones). I am happy to make more of them, but I'd need time and effort and it's out of the scope of this specific thread, I think. Perhaps I'll open a new one to debate new reserve feats.
    Last edited by arguskos; 2010-03-29 at 12:49 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    I did get that I was just using it as an example. Most Reserve feats are standard actions, leaving you with only Swift actions taking your spell slots. You'll end up with a ton extra per day. Which is why I think some type of nova ability would be great.

    Or maybe combining two Reserve feats into a single action?

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by FishAreWet View Post
    I did get that I was just using it as an example. Most Reserve feats are standard actions, leaving you with only Swift actions taking your spell slots. You'll end up with a ton extra per day. Which is why I think some type of nova ability would be great.

    Or maybe combining two Reserve feats into a single action?
    Now, that is a good idea. I like the idea of mixing reserve feats together. I can add that in, at say, 3rd level. Let's call it "Reserve Fuse" and call it a day.

    EDIT: Done. Also, credit given for the idea (I try and do that when I can).
    Last edited by arguskos; 2010-03-29 at 01:02 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    I think i'm actually going to try playing this, as soon as I find a gaming group again. Given that i'll only be needing one level of Wizard to get into it and I won't even need to be any good as a spellcaster, I'll be laughing all the way to the bank.

    It's like having most of Warlock condenced into 5 levels. Well, without the gittish abilities.

    That said, I might just try to pursuade a GM to allow me to alter the Duskblade to use this thing's abilities over more levels rather than having spellcasting [I like simple in play; not that I can't but I like the turns to roll around quicker]

    Any suggestion on what such a Duskblade patch might look like?
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by Mulletmanalive View Post
    I think i'm actually going to try playing this, as soon as I find a gaming group again. Given that i'll only be needing one level of Wizard to get into it and I won't even need to be any good as a spellcaster, I'll be laughing all the way to the bank.
    Hey awesome! Let me know how it goes!

    That said, I might just try to pursuade a GM to allow me to alter the Duskblade to use this thing's abilities over more levels rather than having spellcasting [I like simple in play; not that I can't but I like the turns to roll around quicker]

    Any suggestion on what such a Duskblade patch might look like?
    Hmm. I guess you could cut the spellcasting entirely, and increase the BAB to full. That's a really rough Duskblade-friendly patch. It does mean you're going to be like the worst caster possible, but then again, you ARE a Duskblade. It'd segue very nicely into Abjurant Champion though, assuming you have enough Abjuration effects as a Duskblade.
    Last edited by arguskos; 2010-03-29 at 02:08 PM.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post
    I've seen this argument before, and it's worth pointing out that you are arguing that something needs to balanced against an inherently broken and unbalanced yardstick. I don't agree with this. It seems backwards to me: "so guys, there are these overpowering classes. We should make their prestige classes even BETTER, so they don't feel useless!" Instead of: "so guys, there are these overpowering classes. We should have there be a trade off of their inherent power for interesting class features in their prestige classes."

    You tell me which is better for the health of the game. I'm betting you're not going to argue that all caster PrCs need to be at Incantrix levels of strength.
    Nor am I - Incantatrix is more powerful than straight Wizard. That is precisely what I didn't say - I said PrCs should be equally powerful. The Incantatrix isn't.

    If the base class is overpowered, fix the base class - stealth nerfs via PrC is bad design. Unless you force every Wizard to PrC into some underpowered PrC, because otherwise it's essentially punishing players for doing anything interesting with their build, and that's not good. PrCs are not supposed to rebalance something that's already imbalanced.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by DragoonWraith View Post
    Nor am I - Incantatrix is more powerful than straight Wizard. That is precisely what I didn't say - I said PrCs should be equally powerful. The Incantatrix isn't.
    Your argument could easily be interpreted that Incantrix is an example of a good PrC. I'm glad to see that was not your intent, since uh, if it was, I'd hit you with a book.

    If the base class is overpowered, fix the base class - stealth nerfs via PrC is bad design. Unless you force every Wizard to PrC into some underpowered PrC, because otherwise it's essentially punishing players for doing anything interesting with their build, and that's not good. PrCs are not supposed to rebalance something that's already imbalanced.
    I agree completely, and I have balanced Wizards in my game (by altering a massive number of broken spells, mostly). I balance things with the assumption that people have done the same for their games, as suits them.

    Also, I disagree with the assumption that I'm forcing anyone to do anything. Wizards in my games can be Wiz 20, Wiz 5/Argent Savant 5/Fighter 10, Wiz 5/Incantrix 10/whatever 5 or whatever the hell else they want. I am unconcerned with their power levels, merely that they can have fun doing what they want and that they are always useful to the group in some way. To date, I've not encountered anyone ever who was useless with 15/20 casting, much less 17/20 or better. I make classes with this in mind: usefulness and fun over the caster's career. Given that a Reserve Mage build is still plenty useful from 1-20, and probably pretty fun to play, I think I've succeeded.

    Finally, the concept that this is a "stealth nerf" is unfair. It's not a stealth nerf, it's a cost for unique abilities that cannot be replicated anywhere else by any other means. There's no such thing as a free lunch, after all.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    It might be ok to lose a single caster level, but 3 seems too much. Also, the special requirement as written is a bit vague. I'd either remove it or replace it with something like "must have advanced one level without casting any spells in combat" or something similar. But even that's a bit weird. I'm not sure the special requirement is that helpful.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaZ View Post
    It might be ok to lose a single caster level, but 3 seems too much. Also, the special requirement as written is a bit vague. I'd either remove it or replace it with something like "must have advanced one level without casting any spells in combat" or something similar. But even that's a bit weird. I'm not sure the special requirement is that helpful.
    I already addressed the concept of the special requirement. Feel free to waive it as you see fit.

    As for the three caster levels, Dragoon and I are having a lively debate on that subject just now. Feel free to join in or just observe.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by arguskos View Post

    Finally, the concept that this is a "stealth nerf" is unfair. It's not a stealth nerf, it's a cost for unique abilities that cannot be replicated anywhere else by any other means. There's no such thing as a free lunch, after all.
    Here's the real issue: It might have a cost for a unique ability but that cost shouldn't be too high. I don't think for example that you'd consider this a reasonable option if it didn't advance casting *at all.* If you feel a need for such a cost, then losing 1 level of casting makes sense. But losing three means that you quickly fall behind a sorcerer or wizard of the same level in what you can do. Since many classes rarely run out of spells or spell slots (sorcerers, dread necromancers and warmages for example) the difference becomes all the more apparent. The issue becomes even more extreme when you take into account that the straight spellcaster is getting extra spell slots when he takes those 5 levels overall.

    Or to consider this another way: If you lose 1 level of spellcasting then this still can work well with a PrC that loses a few levels of spellcasting. But if you lose 3 levels with this then it becomes almost fatal to take this PrC if you are taking levels in any other PrC that loses casting.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    I think the ability to use Reserve Feats (as though you had a 9th level spell of appropriate type prepared) even after you've cast all your daily spells is pretty damned useful, actually. A Reserve Mage is never powerless. Even if they've not been able to get their 8 hours for weeks or months, they still have power at their beck and call.

    Is it worth 3 levels of casting? I don't know. I have a habit of reducing spellcaster power in my games (when I game), too. I'd play one of these, though.
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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    For what was supposed to be a joke class, you've made something quite lively and fun. Good job.

    As far as balance, I like this for the myriad of reasons already mentioned. I will say that nerfing 3 levels is a little much, I'd suggest flipping it around and giving it no progression on 2nd and 4th level, or drop it from 1st and 5th. That way 9th level can be achieved still by spontaneous casters.

    Remember, thou shalt not lose caster levels is a holy mantra, unless it's really just worth it. This is definitely worth 2 levels... but I don't think I'd go 3.

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    Default Re: [3.5] The Reserve Mage

    Quote Originally Posted by JoshuaZ View Post
    Or to consider this another way: If you lose 1 level of spellcasting then this still can work well with a PrC that loses a few levels of spellcasting. But if you lose 3 levels with this then it becomes almost fatal to take this PrC if you are taking levels in any other PrC that loses casting.
    Why is it "almost fatal"? You still have powerful spells, and you can act with impunity in an antimagic field, and you never run out of gas no matter what, even in the most unlikely circumstances, and you STILL HAVE POWERFUL SPELLS. Yes, you are slowed in your acquisition of these spells, but you get them nevertheless, and have a number of advantages that other casters don't have.

    The argument seems to be: slowed progression is as good as no progression and makes a prestige class forever worthless. I am not sure I really understand why this is the case, since you still get everything good, and other benefits aside, and have plenty of time for other good stuff.

    I think my argument boils down to this: it's an option. Options are good. Some options are better than other options, but they all have a place. Where's the difficulty here?

    Also, no one addressed my proposed change to Master of Reservations: make reserve feats immediate actions. I have a feeling that would definitely make this worth losing three levels.

    All that I say applies only to myself. You author your own actions and choices. I cannot and will not be responsible for you, nor are you for me, regardless of situation or circumstance.

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