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D&D 3E
The Firestars 
28th-Feb-2005 11:59 am
d20 : Dungeon Master
Hoping you all can provide some good feedback on this. I'm looking for balance in the FR settings with these classes. Feel free to pick them apart. I may not agree with what you say (and might even argue with you about it, but only to try and find a nice solution), but I'd love your input nonetheless! Thanks!

(Addendum: Countermage was designed by dragoonsoul. All credit goes to him on that one.)

    "The Firestars are a myth," Gondegal sneered at one of his colleagues. "You're a fool if you're afraid of such a silly story meant for apprentices. No man will dicate how I wield and warp my spells. Especially not a fairy-tale."
    "Then how do you explain Calissa, Simbrian, and Dauntelar?" asked Cathrie with an amused smile. "And don't give me the old line about experiments gone wrong. You saw the marks on the door; they wouldn't do that themselves."
    Gondegal rolled his eyes at the woman and flippantly responded, "I suspect you put that sign there, just to further your nonesense about watching how we cast our spells. Likely because you're jealous at how far behind you are in your studies. Now if you'll excuse me, I really must return to mine."
    Cathrie gave a mock-sigh. "I'm afraid you've found me out, Gondegal." She said as she slid her dagger across his throat. As the lifeless body fell to the floor, she said, "And you really should have listened when I warned you not to taint the Weave."


FIRESTAR MAGESTALKER
The Firestars of Faerûn are a highly secretive organization founded by Azuth and overseen by the magister position. These individuals work alone or in very small groups, furthering the aims of the Magister by spreading knowledge of magic, encouraging the creation of new spells, and most of all: destroying those mages who refuse to honor the laws of Mystra.
    The Firestar Magestalker is a tracker and hunter who has devoted his life to tracking down those mages who refuse to work within the bounds of magic. All of his abilities are geared towards that end, and there are few mages able to evade a Magestalker once he's on the trail.
    Rangers and Bards become Magestalkers most easily, but Fighters, Rogues, and even the occasional Wizard have been known to take up this profession.
    Hit Die: d8.

Requirements
To qualify to become a mage stalker, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.
    Alignment: Any non-chaotic
    Base Attack Bonus: +5
    Feats: Track, Mage Slayer
    Skills: Gather Information 4 ranks, Hide 6 ranks, Knowledge (Arcana) 4 ranks, Move Silently 6 ranks, Spellcraft 4 ranks, Survival 4 ranks
    Special: Must be branded by a Firestar Tattoo (new magical item, see below).

Class Skills
The mage stalker's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Climb (Str), Craft (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Disguise (Cha), Gather Information (Cha), Hide (Dex), Knowledge (Arcana) (Int), Knowledge (Local) (Int) Listen (Wis), Move Silently (Dex), Search (Int), Spellcraft (Int), Spot (Wis), and Survival (Wis). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.
    Skill Points at Each Level: 6 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the mage stalker prestige class.
     Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Mage stalkers gain no additional proficiency with any weapons or armor.
     Spellcasting: Each time a character gains an odd-numbered mage stalker level, the character gains new spells per day and spells known as if she had also gained a level in a spellcasting class she belonged to before she added the prestige class. She does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained (improved chance of controlling or rebuking undead, metamagic or item creation feats, and so on). This essentially means that the character adds one-half the level of mage stalker to the level of whatever spellcasting class the character has, then determines spells per day and caster level accordingly.
     If a character takes one or more levels in this class before having any levels in a spellcasting class, she does not receive this spellcasting benefit. If she thereafter takes levels in one or more spellcasting classes, she becomes eligible to receive the spellcasting benefit for any level in the mage stalker class that she has not already attained. For example, an 8th-level rogue/1st level mage stalker does not receive the spellcasting benefit for being a 1st-level mage stalker because she did not belong to a spellcasting class before taking levels in the prestige class. If she then picks up one or more levels of sorcerer before advancing to 3rd level in the mage stalker class, she receives the spellcasting benefit of a 3rd-level mage stalker (when she attains that level), but does not receive the 1st-level benefit retroactively.
     Mage Stalker (Ex): Starting at 1st level, a mage stalker gains a bonus equal to her class level on Bluff, Disguise, Gather Information, Spellcraft, and Survival checks when using these skills against an arcane spellcaster.
     Threads of the Weave (Su): The mage stalker has become especially attuned to the weft and weave of magic, and is able to trace it long after it is gone. Once per day, the mage stalker may activate this ability to view the lingering threads of magical spells and effects. Every spell cast (or magical item activated) leaves its affect on the weave, and this ability allows the Mage Stalker to view that affect. Items which are constantly active (such as magic weapons, armor, or items with permanent effects) always leave an aura behind, but items which require spell trigger, spell completion, or are use activated only leave their aura when they are activated.
     Spells of level 0 through 2nd (or magic items of Caster Level 1st through 5th) will linger 1d6 minutes after they are cast, spells of level 3rd through 5th (or magic items of Caster Level 6th through 11th) will linger 1d6 x 10 minutes, spells level 6th through 8th (or magic items of Caster Level 12th through 16th) linger 1d6 hours, and spells of level 9th or higher (or magic items of Caster Level 17th or higher) linger 1d6 days.
     Picking one thread out of the many requires a Spellcraft check of DC 15 + spell level, or 15 + half caster level for a magical item. This check allows the mage slayer to identify the spell in question as if she had witnessed it being cast and made the appropriate roll at that time. Once a spell has been identified, the mage stalker may follow that thread with a successful Survival (track) check of DC 15 + spell level, or 15 + half caster level for a magical item. The mage slayer may track the spell either towards its source (where it was cast) or follow its path towards where it ended. The mage stalker can follow the spell for up to two hours per mage stalker level, or until the spell's magic ended.
    At 4th level, the mage stalker can use this ability one additional time each day, and again at 7th and 10th level, for a total of four uses per day.
     Arcane Mark At 1st level, a Firestar Magestalker automaticaly adds arcane mark to her list of spells known if she does not already have it. This does not cost her any money to scribe into her spellbook (if she has one), nor does it use up one of her normal spells known slots. It is considered a 0 level spell, regardless of her caster class (except for Rangers or Paladins, who consider it a 1st level spell), and may be prepared or cast spontaneously as is appropriate for his casting class. If the Firestar Magestalker does not have a casting class, but later picks one up, arcane mark will be automatically added to his spellbook or list of spells known at that time.
    Silent Judgement (Sp): Beginning at 2nd level, the mage stalker gains the ability to cast silence a number of times per day equal to one half her mage stalker class level. This spell is cast as a sorcerer of their class level, and uses the mage stalker's Charisma bonus to determine the save DC.
    Spell Resistance (Ex): Beginning at 3rd level, a mage stalker gains the ability to shrug off the magics of lesser mages in the form of spell resistance 10. This ability increases to 15 at level 6, and 20 at level 9.
    Swift Tracker (Ex): Beginning at 5th level, a mage stalker can move at her normal speed while following tracks (or the threads of the weave) without taking the normal -5 penalty. She takes only a -10 penalty (instead of the normal -20) when moving at up to twice normal speed while tracking.
    Arcane Interdiction (Su): At 10th level, the mage stalker gains the ability to hamper the abilities of her foes. Once per day as a standard action, she may reduce the spellcasting level of a single arcane spellcaster within 30 feet by an amount equal to her Charisma modifier, to a minimum of spellcasting level 0. The target is unable to access spell slots above their new spellcasting level until they can rest to regain new spells, but their caster level returns to normal when the Interdiction is lifted. As well, any currently active spells with a duration of 'concentration' which could not be cast at the reduced caster level automatically fails.
    This interdiction lasts for a number of rounds equal to 3 + the mage stalker's Charisma bonus, but can be voluntarily lifted by the mage stalker during her turn as a swift action.

Table 1: The Firestar Magestalker
Class
Level
Base
Attack Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +2 +2 Mage Stalker, Threads of the Weave 1/day, arcane mark +1 level of existing class
2nd +1 +0 +3 +3 Silent Judgement  
3rd +2 +1 +3 +3 Spell Resistance 10 +1 level of existing class
4th +3 +1 +4 +4 Threads of the Weave 2/day  
5th +3 +1 +4 +4 Swift Tracker +1 level of existing class
6th +4 +2 +5 +5 Spell Resistance 15  
7th +5 +2 +5 +5 Threads of the Weave 3/day +1 level of existing class
8th +6 +2 +6 +6  
9th +6 +3 +6 +6 Spell Resistance 20 +1 level of existing class
10th +7 +3 +7 +7 Threads of the Weave 4/day, Arcane Interdiction  


FIRESTAR COUNTERMAGE
    The Firestars of Faerûn are a highly secretive organization founded by Azuth and overseen by the magister position. These individuals work alone or in very small groups, furthering the aims of the Magister by spreading knowledge of magic, encouraging the creation of new spells, and most of all: destroying those mages who refuse to honor the laws of Mystra.
    The Firestar Countermage is a magic duelist devoted to ending the threat of mages who refuse to work within the bounds of magic. Often called a cleaner by the other firestars, it is the Countermage’s job to come in once the target has been found and clean up problematic mages.
    Wizards and Sorcerers become Countermages most easily, and even the occasional Bard has been known to take up this profession.
    Hit Die: d4.

Requirements
To qualify to become a Firestar Countermage, a character must fulfill all of the following criteria.
    Alignment: Any non-chaotic.
    Feats: Improved Counterspell, Reactive Counterspell.
    Skills: Knowledge (Arcana) 6 ranks, Spellcraft 8 ranks.
    Spells: Ability to cast 3rd level arcane spells, including dispel magic.
    Special: Must be branded by a Firestar Tattoo (new magical item, see below).

Class Skills
The Firestar Countermage's class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Bluff (Cha), Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Gather Information (Cha), Knowledge (arcana/religion) (Int), Profession (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), and Spellcraft (Int). See Chapter 4: Skills in the Player's Handbook for skill descriptions.
    Skill Points at Each Level: 4 + Int modifier.

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the Firestar Countermage prestige class.
    Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Firestar Countermages gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.
    Spellcasting: When a new Cirestar Countermage level is gained, the character gains new spells per day (and spells known, if applicable) as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before he added the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. This essentially means that he adds the level of firestar countermage to the level of some other spellcasting class the character has, then determines spells per day, spells known, and caster level accordingly.
    Advanced Counterspell (Ex): At 1st level, a Firestar Countermage's counterspell ability advances so that when counter-spelling, he may use any spell of the same school that is at least the same level as the target spell. In addition, the firestar countermage gains a +2 bonus to his Spellcraft check.
    Greater Counterspell (Ex): At 3rd level a Firestar Countermage’s counterspell ability improves again. When counterspelling, he may use any spell that is at least one level higher than the target spell. In addition, the Cirestar Countermage’s bonus to Spellcraft checks increases to +4.
    Superior Counterspell (Ex): At 5th level a Firestar Countermage’s counterspell ability improves once again. When counterspelling, he may use any spell that is at least the same level as the target spell. In addition, the Cirestar Countermage’s bonus to Spellcraft checks increases to +6.
    Immediate Reaction (Ex): At 7th level, a Firestar Countermage learns to react quickly to the spells of other mages. A number of times per day equal to his spellcasting ability score (Int for wizards, Cha for sorcerers and bards), as an immediate action he may counterspell an opponent’s spell even if he has not readied an action to do so. This counterspell action does not take the place of his regular action for the round.
    Reflect (Ex): A 10th-level Firestar Countermage’s ability to counterspell is so perfected, he can choose to instead reflect the spell back at the caster. When performing a counterspell action, a Firestar Countermage can choose to identify the spell with a Spellcraft check (DC 25 + spell level). If successful and normally able to counter the spell, it is instead turned back upon the caster as with spellturning. If unsuccessful, the Firestar Countermage can still attempt a counterspell as usual.

Table 2: The Firestar Countermage
Class
Level
Base
Attack Bonus
Fort
Save
Ref
Save
Will
Save
Special Spellcasting
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Advanced Counterspell +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3   +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 Greater Counterspell +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
4th +2 +1 +1 +4   +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Superior Counterspell +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
6th +3 +2 +2 +5   +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 Immediate Reaction +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
8th +4 +2 +2 +6   +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
9th +4 +3 +3 +6   +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 Reflect +1 to existing arcane spellcaster level


New Magical Item
Firestar Tattoo. This magical tattoo of a mystic blue-white flame behind a seven-pointed silver star is always placed on the inside of the right wrist. Its powers often vary to help augment the abilities of the bearer, but once enchanted, the tattoo can never be removed short of a limited wish, and its abilities can never be changed. Some of these tattoos allow the wearer to detect magic at will, some grant enhancement bonuses to skills such as Spellcraft or Knowledge (Arcana).
      Varied effects; CL varies; Craft Wondrous Item; Price varies.

Comments 
28th-Feb-2005 09:08 pm (UTC)
I like 'em.

The counterspelling gets a little brutal, heh. ;)
28th-Feb-2005 10:28 pm (UTC)
feedback on the Magestalker:

the spellcasting rules / description can make this class very confusing. I would rather suggest that they must be able to cast arcane spells as a requirement for this class. This makes their abilities they pickup things they will gain period, instead of possibly missing out.

In addition, the existing spellcasting information does not clarify arcane or divine. I would think that they would only refer to arcane in this case unless the divine spellcaster is a servant of Mystra (IMHO). It should either specify that it applies to both (in which case, the restriction I mentioned above for having existing arcane casting could be expanded to arcane or divine casting) or to Arcane casting only.

At this point I had a small IM discussion with damnedmage:


damnedmage: the spellcasting rules? They're copied STRAIGHT out of Dragonslayer in Draconomicon
damnedmage: ;)
damnedmage: And this one is Arcane or Divinie intentionally
jedifreeman: its still funky, even if there is a precedent
damnedmage: *shrugs* The point is you don't have to be a spellcaster.
jedifreeman: but with the abilities this class provides, maybe it should grant spellcasting ability to non-spellcasters... maybe with its own spell list and progression chart (unless you can already cast, then it is per existing spellcasting class)
jedifreeman: "I can use Arcane Interdiction but I cannot cast a single cantrip" is a situation
jedifreeman: especially since Arcane Interdiction definitely feels like some sort of magical / arcane ability


At this point we decided to leave off and have me post my comments here so everyone can comment on them.

My only other comment has to do with the tattoo:

1: What kind of abilities can be stored in the tattoo (spells of x level, etc.)? Are there limits to usage (no. of times per day, etc.)? Can abilities be added to a tattoo after it is made?

2: It should be added that the tattoo can still be removed via physical means (ie, chop off the chunk of skin or the limb).
28th-Feb-2005 10:31 pm (UTC)
Well I kinda figured the tattoo removal via arm-severing was a given, but actually that's not a part of D&D stats anyways .... so ... *shrug* Anyways, I'll probably put that part in. As for your first question there ... essentially the tattoo is nothing more than an Unslotted Wondrous Item. There really aren't any limitations on it except those which are on WIs. It's not a new magic item type. Just a bit of flavor to say 'HEY! YOU'RE IN THE FIRESTARS!'
28th-Feb-2005 10:40 pm (UTC)
dude... I want a tattoo of many worlds! portable tattoo?

I think you might want to have a more definitive limit / restriction on the tattoo's effects and capabilities. This could be abused easily... (and as for unslotted wondrous items, practically all of them are "slotted" since a large number of them are worn in some way or carried about).
28th-Feb-2005 10:41 pm (UTC)
Yea, for double the price. ;) Unslotted is expensive.

Anyways, I'll talk with dragoonsoul about the possibility of limiting it. It's require a pretty exhaustive list to do so, but .. *shrugs* we've got time.
28th-Feb-2005 10:36 pm (UTC)
Oh. I should also note that the Threads of the Weave ability is a spell in and of itself, so they do get other magical / arcane abilities. The reasons I preferred Dragonslayer style over giving it its own spellcasting list are two fold: 1) I hate spellcasting list classes. They mean that anyone with Bard or Wizard or Sorc levels who takes this PrC will be stinted in their spellcasting ability from then on, because they start over with new casting levels and all sorts of other things .... it's irritating. 2) I liked how the Dragonslayer spellcasting worked in terms of you have to already be a spellcaster to really benefit, otherwise you lose that level's worth. It strongly encourages one to already be a spellcaster before taking the class, but it doesn't require it.
28th-Feb-2005 10:46 pm (UTC)
actually, what I meant regarding the granting of spellcasting is this:

If a character takes a level in magestalker and already possesses the ability to cast arcane or divine spells, they level the existing class as they progress in the magestalker class.

If a character takes a level in magestalker and does not posess the ability to cast arcane or divine spells, they are provided with a magestalker spell progression and can cast spells according to that (it is a stunted list compared to wizard or sorcerer, to reflect the differences in the training, they are not as full-fledged of a spellcaster as a wiz or a sorc). If they later take a level in a spellcasting class, then they switch to progressing that class from then on when they take further levels of magestalker.

example:

8th level rogue / 1st level magestalker would have access to spells according to the magestalker spell progression for 1st level only. If he takes a level in sorcerer (becoming 8rogue/1magestalker/1sorcerer), any further magestalker levels would progress his sorcerer spell progression (and as always, the sorc and magestalker spell progressions would remain separate, just like if you were a bard / sorc).
28th-Feb-2005 10:49 pm (UTC)
I've thought about doing that a number of times for various PrCs I've designed. The problem is that 1) there's no precedent for that, and 2) I think it would be even more confusing than what I've got now. :) Besides, that makes the spellcasting of the class more powerful than it already is. Which I think would possibly unbalance it.
28th-Feb-2005 10:53 pm (UTC)
then I would suggest making it require spellcasting ability and make a separate PrC for non-spellcasters that tones down the magical powers (like Arcane Interdiction... I just have a hard time seeing someone who cannot even cast a cantrip be able to use such a powerful magical ability, especially since this whole organization ties into magic, arcane especially, so strongly).
28th-Feb-2005 10:54 pm (UTC)
Do you think it affects the balance of the class to not have it? Or just the theme?
28th-Feb-2005 11:04 pm (UTC)
its not just the balance or the theme... it is also the logic / sense behind it. It does not make sense for a class that allows non-spellcasters to grant such a spellcasting-related ability.

I think that the PrC is not unbalanced the way it is now, just ungainly (because that whole spellcasting thing is a bit of a mouthful to deal with).

As for theme, I think it would work better if there were two PrCs, one for spellcasters and one for non-spellcasters (maybe with slightly different focuses... the spellcasting PrC works more towards investigating violations of Mystra's law, while the non-spellcasting PrC is involved more in general investigation / monitoring of events and so on... more like the espionage experts while the spellcasting PrC is the magestalkers).
1st-Mar-2005 02:31 am (UTC) - Is a Firestar one of Spider-man's Amazing Friends?
Hey there. Nice ideas and theme.

Two questions:

Really, if someone didn't know how to cast spells, does it even make sense for them to "further the aims of the Magister, spread knowledge of magic, encourage the creation of new spells, and destroy mages who refuse to honor the laws of Mystra"? That sounds like somebody interested enough in magic to learn a few spells.

Put down another tally mark in the column of people who think that casting spells (and, for my money, Arcane spells) ought to be a requirement for the prestige class.

Second:

You have the "Threads of the Weave" rules reading: Picking one thread out of the many requires a Spellcraft check of DC 15 + spell level, ... which means that it's easier to pick out the zero-level cantrips cast in the area than it is the big powerful effects. Is that what you want? Or should the DC be 25 - spell level?

Can the Mage-stalker pick out the threads of a spell that someone attempted to cast, but was foiled by (a) a failed Concentration check, (b) a counterspell, (c) failure to overcome armor penalties, and/or (d) spell resistance?

What do shadow-weave spells look like through "Threads of the Weave"?

1st-Mar-2005 02:54 am (UTC) - Re: Is a Firestar one of Spider-man's Amazing Friends?
(Bottom to top replies)

Good point on the Shadow Weave. I hadn't even considered that! I'll probably make it similar to how shadow-weave Spellcraft works now. I think that's like 25 + for DC, instead of 15 + ... whatever it is, I'll do that.

Also a good point on the failed spellcastings. The point was only successful castings/uses of MIs. I'll alter that! Thanks for the catch.

As for the DC being easier for 0 levels than 9th levels ... I still don't know, to be honest. I considered that very aspect for a long time, but there's really no precedent for reversing that as you've suggested. It seems sound, but is it balanced? That puts a rather high strain on the high-level magic users to not use their higher level spells without caution. Which I suppose is the point, but ......... I think you see what I'm getting at, from a balance issue. I just don't know if that's balanced or not. I believe the argument I used to rationalize this when I created the ability (which is based off of a spell in Age of Mortals) is that the threads all look relatively identical. Lower-level spells are more common, and therefor easier to figure out. It's a stretch, but ... seems more balanced that way.

Bah. Alright alright. I'll go look at it again from the perspective of needing arcane casting. It really doesn't affect my character (since he's a Bard and has the casting ability anyways), but I hadn't wanted to require it. Bah. :)

Thanks for your comments!
1st-Mar-2005 03:10 am (UTC) - Re: Weave
Detecting DC's isn't an issue of balance. It's a question of flavor. Which goes un-noticed: the "color" cantrip or the "fireball"? Which should a character "get away with," a wrongly-cast "blur" spell, or an abused "wish"?

And it's probalby not an issue of familiarity. Second-level spells which the character has invented herself are easier to recognize than Blade Barrier.

If you don't like the 25 - spell level modifier (understandable, since you're looking to use established 3.5 game mechanics), then treat the situation as an arcane tracking episode, with the target spell's levels acting as a bonus to the Magestalker's roll.
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