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Thread: Arcane Focuses

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Arcane Focuses

    I really like 4e's implements and 5e's focuses, they can really add flavor to a character.

    So i was wondering how one could implement them in a meaningful way beyond a simple reskin of a component pouch, without overpowering them.

    i though of enhancement bonuses that applied to CL, which might be to much or to spells with attack rolls which might be to niche though would make sense for wands.

    Or maybe be able to enhance them with gold, so it can replace expensive components and focuses, though i'm not sure what a reasonable rate would be. 100 to 1 and 1 to 1 are probably to generous.

    failing those, caster specific weapons that use the wielders casting attribute.
    like the staffs of dragon age.
    wands of world of warcraft
    or orbs and tomes of Aion.

    Those are the best i could think of, not sure how workable they are.

    you guys have ideas?

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    I’ve played with the idea that a wand focus is essentially ‘you can use a wand (for a magicless wand for low levels, a 0gp stick will do) instead of a spell component pouch, but all spells cast with the wand must have a somatic component to function, spells that lack a somatic component either by default or with the Still Spell feat don’t work at all through the wand, spending the slot but the effect never happens’.

    Gets people looking at what their spells need to work a little if they wanna do the cheap wand focus option
    Atomic laser breath!

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    I'd say go the Pathfinder route. In PF1, wizards can forego getting a familiar to have instead a "bonded item", be it a staff or an amulet. Casting a spell without it requires a Concentration check, but it allows them to cast a spell they have in their spellbook but they have not prepared, once per day. That seems like a pretty good substitute to me.
    Trying to resurrect the Negative LA thread, any comment and discussion are very welcome!


    Quote Originally Posted by H_H_F_F View Post
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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Quote Originally Posted by Noxangelo View Post
    So i was wondering how one could implement them in a meaningful way beyond a simple reskin of a component pouch, without overpowering them.
    Take any magic item that affects spellcasting which you don't think is overpowered. It is now an "implement." Done.

    3.x already has free metamagic, general caster level bonus, specific descriptor caster level bonus, spell penetration only bonus, add damage, add bonus to touch attack, pretend you have feats for touch attack, just flat double the range for touch attack, cast a spell you don't know at your caster level, cast a spell that isn't even on your list at the item's level, and even cast the spell generating effects from the list of the higher level version.

    I've banned a ton of those for being flagrant power creep, but they're all published items that already have prices and if you agree with those prices then use them. There's no reason why a Rod of Extend or a Circlet of Rapid Casting or a Ring of Mystic Fire etc, etc, even particularly ought to be the shapes that they are, though isn't "rod" already an "implement?" You're probably thinking you need to make some sort of table of scaling benefits, but that's the opposite of flavorful personalized casting tools- such a table becomes either a generic bonus/list of abilities that is treated as an inherent part of the character with no drawbacks (like a familiar only existing when desired), or something that a given character/player decides they don't want to bother with at all (whether it's from Dragon Mag or Pathfinder or Unearthed Arcana).

    And heck, a ruling that any and every item that modifies spellcasting must now be a handheld item would actually be a unifying nerf, by taking all those convenient body slotted power items and shoving them back into your hand where they have to fight with each other.


    For my own stuff, I have a feat that lets you basically scribe scrolls into a staff or rod, which means staves carry significant magic starting at 1st level, and then for sorcerer types a feat that basically says what I already did above: take an existing spellcasting item and make it in a staff or rod form. I personally don't find the so-called "orb" focus compelling at all, and 3.x's wands are a very particular thing that shouldn't have any overlap so no "wands." I also wrote some better guidelines for material components themselves. If you want such items, and for them to be different, then you simply assign appropriate families of items to styles of implements. Whatever orbs and permanent wands etc supposed to do, pull those effects out of the metamagic rod and other item types.

    Spoiler: Fizban on material components and staves
    Show
    Material Components

    Material and focus components vary depending on the person, and are always things they have or had reasonably and readily available in their environment when learning the spell. As most spells come to mind or are worked out in study, the practitioner chooses material components and/or foci to match them, selecting things that are familiar, cheap or easy to find, and for materials easy to replace. Pinches of dust, dirt, powder, drops of water or other liquids, unspecified or general animal hairs or feathers, common plants, rocks and minerals in varying shapes, simply shaped bits of metal or wood, etc. Anything that they would naturally be familiar with and has a thematic link, as a spell comes to mind and demands some sort of component, they could use. Expensive components retain their cost and their usual form, unless a change is granted to rectify a clash in character theme with the published description.

    Many published spells have the same components as others, sometimes even when the spells have little to do with each other, and further many have a series of alternate components such as multiple dead bugs instead of a live one, pitch instead of oil or charcoal, etc.

    Therefore, each individual's spell component pouch contains maybe a dozen assorted foci and/or material components, which in various combinations serve all of their spells. Said items could serve for maybe up to twice as many spells at once, more if the individual follows a very narrow theme of spells (such as having mostly ice spells, or fire spells, or animal related spells, etc).

    A player can choose components and foci for their spells (say half or so at least should use materials rather than foci). Published components can be used wholesale or for inspiration, but those which are clearly not readily available to a given person are always replaced with something more appropriate. If the group does not find this interesting it can be safely ignored without impacting normal gameplay, since in the end it all goes into one (or two, three at most) spell component pouches anyway. However, without a list of defined components, a spellcaster cannot hide, stockpile, or replace an individual component: they must abide by any ruling the DM makes on their supplies running dry, and if their spell component pouch is lost, are not allowed to cast any spells until it is entirely replaced.

    Exception: Cantrips would grossly inflate the count, and as such are "free" in this system. They either have no components, or are assumed to always piggyback on those of more powerful spells without impacting them. A higher level spellcaster might have so many spells ready that they should carry two pouches, maybe even three for an eclectic wizard at the far end, but the long list of free minor effects given to all casters is not meant to require an entire separate bag.

    All arcane spells should have material components unless a special exception applies, such as a character class which uses no material components, or a spell which is designed to avoid them. Most spells which have only verbal components (such as shout and teleport), as well as several that are meant to be used in conjunction with weapons (such as blades of fire), or the rare somatic-only (such as mesmerizing glare) can remain material-less.


    Magical Staves- Making them cool again from 1st level.

    Imbue Spellstaff [Item Creation]
    Prerequisites: Ability to prepare spells, caster level 1st
    Benefit: You may store spells in a staff or rod for later use. These are spell completion items that follow the same creation and activation rules as scriolls, but in a different medium. Stored spells add visual clues that the staff is special in some way (carved or painted runes, scripts, or symbols are common, as are added gems or totems). These markers fade after their spell is consumed, either as soon as a new spell is added, or naturally over time if not.

    You may store a spell or spells in any sort of staff, club, or rod, so long as it weighs at least 3lbs and does not function as another type of weapon, even if it is already magical in some other way. When the spells are used up, the staff remains. You may add further spells later as desired. You may remove an unwanted spell and reclaim half of the gp cost you spent to create it, which can only be used for placing a new spell. Recycling an unwanted spell takes as long as it would to craft it, but can be done at the same time as storing a new spell or spells. Finally, you may transfer all of the stored spells from one spellstaff to a new receptacle which is not already a spellstaff (usually because you have gained a more durable or useful item you wish to use). Transferring spells takes the usual crafting time of one day per 1,000gp total of stored spells and requires you to re-pay only the base xp cost in order to move them: the base gp cost, and any xp or gp component costs of the stored spells have already been paid and are retained. The spells stored do not count towards the item's value if sold.

    The spells stored in a staff cannot be easily accessed or passed around. The creator may of course access any spells they have added with no difficulty. A read magic spell will identify the spells as with a scroll, but a Spellcraft check alone cannot do so. In order to access the spells, a new owner must master the staff in the same way as one would master a captured spellbook (Complete Arcane p141), requiring a Spellcraft check at DC 25+ the level of the highest spell in the staff, made after a week plus one day per spell stored in the staff. Thus, while the spells stored in a staff cannot be easily sold or passed to allies, they are also cannot be simply disarmed and turned against their creator.

    A stored spell may be prepared from a spellstaff, moving it to the mind and wiping it from the item, but spells may not be "copied" from a spellstaff to a spellbook. They are stored energy, not written instructions.
    Special: If you also have the Craft Wand feat, you may craft or add functionality as a wand to a staff or rod even though wands are normally small sticks. If the item's only function is as a wand, it remains usable normally by anyone and can be sold, but other combinations can change this at the DM's discretion. This may also apply to Craft Scepter or Craft Staff. In general, the permanent base properties of an item should always be available to any wielder, while more limited personalized effects can be harder to access. A spellstaff that has been owned for a long time and slowly built up with stored spells and wand or scepter effects might be completely nonfunctional for anyone but the creator, but if it suddenly has the full powers of a staff of fire or staff of necromancy added, those functions will be "unsecure," as they fall outside the personalized part of the spellstaff. Spell trigger charges cannot be tranferred to a new receptacle.

    Any base class which prepares spells and gains Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat may choose to take Imbue Spellstaff instead.

    Improvise Channelstaff [Item Creation]
    Prerequisites: Ability to cast spells spontaneously, caster level 1st.
    Benefit: You may turn a simple staff or rod into a powerful focus for your magic. To design a channelstaff, pick one or more existing magic items that allow the user to apply a metamagic feat or feats to their spells, or otherwise modify the effects of spells or their casting. If the item allows use of a metamagic feat without spell level adjustments then you must know the feat yourself, but otherwise you do not need to meet prerequisites. You may improve or add more functions to the item later, as normal, but you must meet the normal prerequisites of any effects that do not pertain to the modification of spells or spellcasting.

    As with all magic items the DM must approve your choices, including any changes that are being made to form, function, occupied body slots, etc. The DM may also choose to add a caster level requirement to an effect if they feel it is not appropriate until a certain level.

    You may only have one channelstaff, and it functions only for you (no, not even then).
    Special: The DM may also allow you to add magic item functions that let you cast, or spend spell slots to power, spells that you don't know, with or without some recorded copy of the spell.

    Note: DMs are advised to consider carefully the expected numbers of spells known- those granted by the base class, and those available via items, as well as the value of zero-adjustment metamagic. Are the prices given for such items truly reflective of their value? Should characters be effective with only their base spells, base spells with some normal metamagic feats, or are they expected to spend heavily on spells known and metamagic items the same way a Fighter does on their weapons and armor? And if the latter, how does the resulting increase in expected power and change in item flexibility affect the rest of the game?

    The point of this feat is to support the trope of magic users that can make items which improve their power as a mostly inherent feature. There are a slew of caster items that everyone wants to buy but require very specific expectations to craft (must have the desired feat and be 9th level with Craft Rod, etc) in 3.x, this feat supports the mechanical effect of those items while allowing them to be removed from the "magic mart," without suddenly having enemy casters carrying exactly what you wanted (just as bad as them having the Fighter's exact exotic weapon).
    Last edited by Fizban; 2021-09-13 at 07:58 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Dragon #348 has the "Focus Caster" ACF: in place of your Familiar, you get the "Arcane Focus" item:

    Spoiler: Focus Caster
    Show
    A chosen masterwork-quality object now become a required Focus for all your spells. The Focus is associated with one school of magic and grants you benefits
    associated with that school (see below). The Focus has the following properties:
    a) bonus to Hardness equal to ˝ Caster level (max 2x original Hardness) & bonus to hit-point equal to Caster level (max 2x original hp).
    b) if destroyed, you may replace it with by bonding with a new masterwork-quality (but not magical) object of the same type, spending 24 hours, and expending
    100 gp of reagents;
    c) if your Focus is a weapon or a shield, you are Proficient with it (but not any other weapons / shields of the same type).
    d) if you enchant your Focus, the XP & base materials cost is reduced by 10%.
    e) additional bonus is School of Magic specific:
    Abjuration – Bracers, Buckler, Small Shield
    1st level – any non-Personal Abjuration spell you cast with at least one target affects one extra target, but that target only has ˝ the normal duration.
    7th level – any non-Personal Abjuration spell you cast with at least one target affects one extra target, who now get the full duration.
    15th level – you may cast Personal Abjuration spells as a Touch spells.
    Conjuration – Quarterstaff, Polearm
    1st level – your Conjuration spells have +1 round duration, including ‘Concentration’ spells, which last 1 round after you stop concentrating.
    7th level – your Conjuration spells have +2 round duration, including ‘Concentration’ spells, which last 2 round after you stop concentrating.
    15th level – your Conjuration spells have +3 round duration, including ‘Concentration’ spells, which last 3 round after you stop concentrating.
    Divination – Large Crystal (may be mounted on a Rod or Staff), Ornate Holy Symbol
    1st level – cast Divination spells at +1 Caster level.
    7th level – your Divination spells have 2x duration.
    15th level – receive a (1 + Intelligence modifier (min +1)) bonus vs. Divinations spells.
    Enchantment – Ornate Clothing
    1st level – your Enchantment spells have +1 round duration, including ‘Concentration’ spells, which last 1 round after you stop concentrating.
    7th level – your Enchantment spells have +2 round duration, including ‘Concentration’ spells, which last 2 round after you stop concentrating.
    15th level – your Enchantment spells have +3 round duration, including ‘Concentration’ spells, which last 3 round after you stop concentrating.
    Evocation – Longsword, Dagger, other Bladed Weapon
    1st level – your Evocation spells do +1 hp of damage (applies to all in area-of-effect or one if there are multiple missiles).
    7th level – your Evocation spells bypass the first 5 points of a target’s Energy Resistance (though Energy Immunity still applies).
    15th level – one Evocation spell per day may ignore one Target’s Energy Immunity.
    Illusion – Mask, Cloak, other Apparel used to conceal
    1st level – cast Illusion spells at +1 Caster level.
    7th level – your Illusion spells receive a bonus on Caster checks to bypass Spell Resistance of +(˝ Caster level).
    15th level – you may cast Personal Illusion spells as a Touch spells.
    Necromancy – Flail, Kama, Sickle, Scythe, other Harvesting-inspired Weapon
    1st level – your Necromancy spells can be cast at +25% range.
    7th level – your Necromancy spells that inflict Ability Penalties, Ability Damage, or Ability Drain do +1 point.
    15th level – a target that fails a Fortitude save vs. one of your Necromancy spells is also Fatigued.
    Transmutation – Instrument, Tools
    1st level – any non-Personal Transmutation spell you cast with at least one target affects one extra target, but that target only has ˝ the normal duration.
    7th level – any non-Personal Transmutation spell you cast with at least one target affects one extra target, who now get the full duration.
    15th level – one Transmutation spell per day that grants a bonus to an Ability Score gives a 2x bonus (e.g., Bull’s Strength would give a +8 bonus).

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    I mean, literally the simplest way, unless I'm misunderstanding the premise, is just to require arcane caster to have a focus object required for virtually every spell, the way divine casters do?

    On the other hand, I've often pondered what a Happy Potter-type d20 magic system would look like, in that all casting requires a wand...

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    I've long thought there should be an item that allows for ignoring expensive material components.
    • "Replenishing Bag of Diamond Dust: Over time, bag magically fills with diamond dust. Dust can be used as component for spells. Any removed from bag and not used as a spell component disappears in one round."
    • "Replenishing Bag of Primal Essence: Over time, bag magically fills with Primal Essence. Essence can be used as component for spells. Any removed from bag and not used as a spell component disappears in one round."
    • "Adjustable Tuning Fork: Can be used as focus for Plane Shift regardless of destination plane. Knobs adjust plane it is tuned to."
    • "Universal Focus: Can be used in place of normal focus for any spell, so long as focus for that spell normally costs X gp or less."
    • "Baton of Easy Casting: Grants user Eschew Materials feat. Additionally, has X charges per day. When casting a spell that normally requires a material component costing more than 1 gp but less than Y gp, can spend a charge to ignore that component."
    • "Baton of Not-So-Easy Casting: Only works for user with Eschew Materials feat. Has X charges per day. When casting a spell that normally requires a material component costing more than 1 gp but less than Y gp, can spend a charge to ignore that component."
    • "Blue Phlebotinum: Can be used in place of XP when casting spells."
    • "Red Phlebotinum: Can be used in place of XP when crafting magic items."
    • "Replenishing Bag of Blue Phlebotinum: Over time, bag magically fills with blue phlebotinum. Phlebotinum can be used for casting spells. Any removed from bag and not used for a spell disappears in one round."

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Sorcerer's Hand is a magic crossbow from Arms & Equipment Guide which grants bonuses with ray spells.

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    Halfling in the Playground
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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    My house rules have a modified item familiar....
    1. Item must be a masterwork item
    2. Grants eschew material components
    3. You can no longer use wondrous items which have no-body slots (e.g. pearl of power)
    4. It takes 4 hrs of study and meditation to absorb the wondrous item into your item familiar
    5. Once the wondrous item is absorbed into the item familiar all of its powers work for you
    6. Once a wondrous item is absorbed into the item familiar it cannot be removed
    7. Exception: A single use wondrous item can be peeled off and used by you. Only the item familiars owner can do this
    8. Scrolls and Wands can also be 'absorbed' into the item (but they don't need to be)



    I let the caster pick what type of item they want to use.
    Last edited by smetzger; 2021-09-14 at 01:59 PM.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Quote Originally Posted by Malphegor View Post
    I’ve played with the idea that a wand focus is essentially ‘you can use a wand (for a magicless wand for low levels, a 0gp stick will do) instead of a spell component pouch, but all spells cast with the wand must have a somatic component to function, spells that lack a somatic component either by default or with the Still Spell feat don’t work at all through the wand, spending the slot but the effect never happens’.

    Gets people looking at what their spells need to work a little if they wanna do the cheap wand focus option
    You gave me an idea.

    Wands that function and cost the same as a spell component pouch but if you get a masterwork wand, you can add +1 the attack roll of any spell with a somatic component.

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    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Super Genius Games released a 3rd party book, Rune Staves and Wyrd Wands.

    The wyrd wands are basically the spellcasting equivalent of a +1 longsword. They add their bonus to ranged spell to-hit rolls and to the spell damage roll.
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    Dwarf Magus (Deep Marshal) spell list

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Most 0 level spells in 3e aren't exactly overpowered, even at will, so what about homebrewing a feat that allows you to use an implement of your choosing, such as a stick (wand), brooch, crystal orb, etc, and if you have it in hand, you can cast your cantrips and orisons at will?

    PF1e did it by default, so allowing you to do so in 3e isn't that bad. And at-will (albeit slow) out-of-battle healing for a feat for most divine casters isn't terrible, either, since the mundanes will get the most benefit from post-fight healing, and divine caster players don't have to sacrifice their character concepts for being the party band-aid.

    Perhaps allow spontaneous casters to change their 0 level spell loadout each day like wizards and clerics can via the feat.

    [edit] Ancestral Relic could be used to massively boost your casting, depending on what magic item properties you give to your chosen item.
    Last edited by MaxiDuRaritry; 2021-09-18 at 11:25 AM.

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    I've toyed with the idea of replacing standard wands with some other form of charged magic item and effectively turning wands into a casting implement, which could be given a number of fun bonuses. For example, simply having a standard wand might replace material components and grant no other benefits, though you might later find one that also increases your effective caster level by 2 for the purpose of determining the maximum range of your spells.
    "Technically correct" is the best kind of correct.

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Quote Originally Posted by MaxiDuRaritry View Post
    Most 0 level spells in 3e aren't exactly overpowered, even at will, so what about homebrewing a feat that allows you to use an implement of your choosing, such as a stick (wand), brooch, crystal orb, etc, and if you have it in hand, you can cast your cantrips and orisons at will?

    PF1e did it by default, so allowing you to do so in 3e isn't that bad. And at-will (albeit slow) out-of-battle healing for a feat for most divine casters isn't terrible, either, since the mundanes will get the most benefit from post-fight healing, and divine caster players don't have to sacrifice their character concepts for being the party band-aid.

    Perhaps allow spontaneous casters to change their 0 level spell loadout each day like wizards and clerics can via the feat.

    [edit] Ancestral Relic could be used to massively boost your casting, depending on what magic item properties you give to your chosen item.
    i typically homebrew that cantrips are at-will anyway, haven't played with it much but i've always thought about giving spontanious casters extra cantrips to make up for their lack, usually 1+1 per 5 levels.
    Last edited by Noxangelo; 2021-09-21 at 04:32 AM.

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    Take any magic item that affects spellcasting which you don't think is overpowered. It is now an "implement." Done.[/spoiler]
    Lol, BOOM, problem solved :P

    Add 5gp to the cost to make it a spell component pouch as well and it would fit the bill, if somewhat unimaginatively.

    Also, since magic items require 100 of a consumable, what about feeding your focus 100 of an optional component to get the effect permanently.
    So feed it 100 humanoid fingers (at 1cp each, total 1 gp) for a permanent 40% chance of a +1 profane bonus to any touch attack roll (melee or ranged).

    Ps. I apologise but I will have to respond to this (and all other) message(s) in dribs and drabs as I am insanely time poor ATM.

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    Quote Originally Posted by Fizban View Post
    For my own stuff, I have a feat that lets you basically scribe scrolls into a staff or rod,
    You could probably use the alternative spellbook rules from the "Complete Arcane" to do that without the extra feat


    The bit in the spoiler was pretty awesome though, I hope you have it somewhere easier to find than some random thread on a D&D forum.

    Quote Originally Posted by ShurikVch View Post
    Dragon #348 has the "Focus Caster" ACF: in place of your Familiar, you get the "Arcane Focus" item:
    That's really cool, definitely going to check that out.

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    I mean, literally the simplest way, unless I'm misunderstanding the premise, is just to require arcane caster to have a focus object required for virtually every spell, the way divine casters do?
    It is the simplest, but i want them to feel more magical than just a crutch they have to use. Like the wands in Harry Potter or Gandalf slamming his staff into the bridge/rock.

    Watching the characters in the Harry Potter movies makes you want to wave the TV remote around shouting random nonsense.
    You don't sit there thinking "wow it must suck having to carry a wooden ruler everywhere" (12' or 30cm is the average length of a HP wand)

    Quote Originally Posted by Thurbane View Post
    On the other hand, I've often pondered what a Happy Potter-type d20 magic system would look like, in that all casting requires a wand...
    Lol. It kind of already does, remember your spell component pouch? nope? most don't till a hostile rogue "borrows" it, leaving your very expensively dressed commoner in the back of the fight twiddling his thumbs and contemplating the benefits of the eschew materials feat.
    Last edited by Noxangelo; 2021-09-26 at 05:27 AM.

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    Default Re: Arcane Focuses

    I like the Focus Caster ACF, but I've generally found it underpowered to be a viable choice, and too restrictive in what items it allows for it to be flavorful.

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