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D&D 3E
Question for arcane spellcasters - schools? 
15th-Apr-2006 11:40 am
Disney-Mermaid MythandMagic
So, I'm starting in a new group and have decided to play a sorceress. I've included my basic character idea under the cut, but my current dilemna is with her spells. I have very little experience playing arcane spellcasters and I'm really worried about her being totally ineffective in the party. I can't stand playing characters that feel "useless" to me (which I guess is why I tend to play healers). So, I'm hoping you guys can help me understand a little about the different schools of magic and how to use them effectively.

Seline is a young human sorceress. She was training to be a wizard, but she has a handicap that got her kicked out of the small school - she has an absolutely horrible memory. HORRID memory. I mean, almost to the level of clinical short-term memory loss or Alzheimer's syndrom. Not quite, but almost. For basic knowledge - people, places, etc. - it takes her about three times or three days for it to sink in. So, for example, if a party member has to switch horses in a town, she'll get up for the next three days and tell them that's not right - their horse is black! After the third day, it'll start to sink in. But yeah, bad memory. So, she failed as a wizard but her innate arcane talent led her to be a sorceress. We're only 2nd level at the moment, so she has a lot of room to grow, but I think she'll be a blast to play.

The trick with her is that, as I said, she's not stupid. If she has all the facts, she can make very intelligent decisions and she's extremely logical. She just can't remember jack. On the other hand, she seems almost charmed at times. She can't remember how to cast a certain spell (or even that she *has* cast it before), but it sort of happens anyway. Or she gets lost in a town and somehow manages to find her way back to the inn. This is because she has a horrible conscious memory, but her instinct is pretty damn reliable. When she's lost, she can't tell you where she is or how to get back, but if she makes a wrong turn, she'll get two blocks down and it won't look or feel right. I can describe this well because this is actually how I usually drive when I'm going somewhere for the second time and wasn't smart enough to bring the directions that I used the first time. Anyway...

So, yeah. Over all, Seline's stats and rolls will be perfectly normal. I'll cast a spell as I would normally and any skill rolls will be normal. But I'll just roleplay most of the stuff she does as being accidental. What I'm hoping you guys can help me with is her spellcasting. I realize sorcerers don't have to specialize, at least not right off, so I'll probably play around with her a little, but I'd like to find some sort of trademark school for her. And that's where I'm having trouble.

Right now, I'm torn between evocation and illusion. Evocation would be the easiest. She gets backed up in a corner and somehow manages to blow off the faces of her attackers with a fireball. Simple. Short and sweet. Illusion, however, would take more work. It would be kind of fun RP-wise. She has a horrible memory, so she has the innate ability to mess with everyone else's memories and senses. It sounds like fun, but then... gah. I don't know if I can handle illusion. I'm afraid it would leave me feeling useless. Mostly because most illusion spells require will saves for full protection. No 'saves for half'. So, if I come up against anyone with decent will saves, I'm completely powerless against them. And what exactly would I do with illusion spells anyway? Do any of you have any suggestions about an effective way to play an illusionist? RP and mechanics, both. How can an illusionist be a truly effective member of the party? Or should I avoid illusion? I guess another option would be transmutation. She can't remember how things are, so they just sort of... change. *shrugs*

Suggestions? Ideas? Please?

(X-posted to dnd_women)
15th-Apr-2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
Sorry, quick question:

Are you the Sorcerer class or looking to be a specialized Wizard?
15th-Apr-2006 05:13 pm (UTC)
Sorcerer class. Sorry, wasn't that clear. And yes, I know I don't have to chose a specialization, I'm just trying to think about a theme for RP purposes and maybe a spell focus feat. And really, any suggestions about any of the schools of magic would be great, since I have next to no experience as an arcane spellcaster.
15th-Apr-2006 05:30 pm (UTC)
It's no worries, I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page.

Honestly, I think any of the schools, thematically, are great (well, barring Dvination: lots of controversy there). There are so many creative possbilities for all of them, and illusion can prove very useful. What may happen is that you may find that you won't be useful in all situations, but the one in which you are...everyone else better step back. Illusion can be great for many non-combat situations as well.

It's been a long time since I've thought about arcane spellcasting, so I'll have to get back to you on this.
15th-Apr-2006 04:50 pm (UTC)
the Wizards website has done a couple articles specifically on illusions in their Rules of the Game segments. They key with a number of them, particularly figments is that the will save only comes when examined closely, or interacted with. This means that unless it looks out of place, and the victim doesn't suspect such a thing, then they won't get a save at all, they'll take it as real. In the worst situation this will buy you time, in the best you're limited only by your creativity.

On the other hand, yeah, blasting is pretty straightforward, and it's easy to dump some metamagic for a bigger boom.
15th-Apr-2006 05:02 pm (UTC)
A note on that metamagic bit:

Races of the Dragon has new feats for using metamagic more effectively as a Sorcerer.
15th-Apr-2006 05:06 pm (UTC)
Too bad sorcerers don't pile on the feats so quick
15th-Apr-2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
15th-Apr-2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
Hmm... thanks. I hadn't thought about how metamagic would affect it all. I'm used to divine spellcasters who prepare their spells ahead of time. Thanks for reminding me. And thanks, I'll check out the Wizards website.
15th-Apr-2006 05:03 pm (UTC)
If you're a Sorceress (a female member of the Sorcerer class), then you don't choose a particular school of magic, you just choose your spells on an individual basis.
15th-Apr-2006 05:10 pm (UTC)
I know. This is really for RP purposes (and for an eventual spell focus feat).
15th-Apr-2006 05:11 pm (UTC)
You could go a straight 50/50 Evocation/Illusion.
15th-Apr-2006 05:15 pm (UTC)
Hmm... that is an idea. If you mix a real fireball with an illusory one, the enemy never knows when they're going to get cinged. Just as an example.
15th-Apr-2006 05:17 pm (UTC)
Let's not forget that you'll eventually get Shadow Evocation as well. And, yes, you need to save against the Illusion or you suffer the actual effects of it.

It would also help RP-wise; her magic seems "fake" and all glamor, and then she really blows something away once she's backed into a corner.
15th-Apr-2006 05:21 pm (UTC)
*nods* That's awesome. Thanks!
15th-Apr-2006 08:08 pm (UTC)
I always saw Evocation and Abjuration as having many similarities. To me, evocation was using force and elements for attacks and manipulations, while abjuration used force and elements for protection. They always struck me as similar, so you may want to have a lot of those.

Is there a school you want to stay away from, perhaps such as Necromancy?
15th-Apr-2006 08:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'll probably avoid Necromancy, unless there's a spell I really want. As a sorcerer, I guess I don't have to restrict myself as if I was chosing schools as a wizard. I'll probably avoid Divination too, with the exception of the classic spells, like Identify and whatnot.
16th-Apr-2006 12:53 am (UTC)
The only restriction you have is your limit in spells known. Luckily if you make a bad choice along the way, you can eventually swap it out.
16th-Apr-2006 09:46 am (UTC)
Oooh, Ive gotta catch up with Count your Sheep... Thanks for reminding me!
16th-Apr-2006 12:32 pm (UTC)
I like your character concept! It does sound like it will be fun. So, on to your question:

Illusion. A fantastic school! It takes a very creative person to pull it off, and you definitely need a willing DM to help make it work with your fellow players. A lot of Meta-Gamers do all they can to blow an Illusionists fun, sadly. First, I would never admit to being an Illusionist. To anyone. Illusionists are, by trade, liars. Perhaps not strictly, but everything they do is done on the premise that you are going to believe something that is not real, or true. So don't tell anyone, even your fellow players if you can avoid it. Let them figure it out, they're smart people right? *grin* I would also advocate some ranks (if you can spare them, as they're costly) in Bluff.

Evocation is always good. "Nuke 'em til they glow." It would work well with the horrible memory, I think, with the thought you mentioned about spontaneously blowing something up. And as D&D usually has loads of combat, you will find yourself feeling much more useful there.

Magic Missile, Chain Missile, and Force Missile are also thoughts, although I can not remember what schools they are from. My trick is to remember that the manifestation of Magic Missile is always personal to the spellcaster. One shoots bright blue arrows, another opens his hand and gold bumblebees appear and rush forth to strike the opponent. Spells without a specific description of their affects should always be personalized, in my thought.

This is your first arcane spellcaster, and you usually play a cleric? I think it's good that you seem to be staying away from bolstering your allies, but remember spells like Cat's Grace, Owl's Wisdom, and Bull's Strength help a lot. Role playing it would be hard, but maybe you can simply react in combat and yell out something like, "Please kill that thing!" and strike the fighter. "Suddenly", he's stronger.

Lastly, have you thought about being or taking a level in bard? Perform: Storytelling. She says things were different, and as she speaks things are different.

Good luck, and please let us know how it goes!
16th-Apr-2006 02:47 pm (UTC)
Thankyouthankyouthankyou! I actually didn't get your suggestions until after our game last night, but a lot of what you've said are things I've been considering after I've played her for a bit.

I have a lot to share, but I'll put it in a new post. Thanks again!
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