Arcana Talents (All Eight Arcane Schools)

I admit, I’m procrastinating a little on the Echelon Reference Series today. I let myself get distracted by the arcana talents I started working on yesterday in converting arcane schools to common talents. I wanted to see what the rest looked like, so I took some time today to finish the first pass.

The conversion is pretty mechanical and not difficult, but it is evident to me that the resource management strategy needs to change. I really don’t like “3/day” features, and it’s worse when they scale with level, especially when they are adjusted by ability scores — I don’t even have ability scores right now. I really need to look into the token mechanism again, or using magic points, or something.

The token mechanism might be what brings back ability scores, to be honest, though I suspect the scores will be derived from talents rather than rolled or chosen (point buy or array). I can see them replacing saving throws and being expanded slightly… but I digress, and I don’t need that on top of a procrastination.

I think replacing the resource management mechanism used here will solve most of my issues with the talent descriptions. Standardizing the resource cost of each ability will simplify the talent summary tables.

Later, later. I’m getting distracted again.

Here are the eight arcana talents, one for each school of magic.

Arcana Talents

Arcana talents are common talents that represent the use of a certain type of magic. This is currently modeled after the spell schools, and is focused primarily on abilities rather than spells.

The structured organization and study of magic is modeled using ‘tradition’ cornerstone talents (such as ‘Hermetic Mage’ and ‘Wizards of the Silver Dawn’) and ‘eldritch thread’ common talents. Both provide caster training bonuses, spell knowledge, and special abilities.

The abilities in these talents are drawn from the wizard Arcane School class feature and from the warlock School Ability class feature as presented in The Tome of Secrets from Adamant Entertainment.

Many of the abilities from the warlock class seem to lack constraints; the writing suggests they are usable at will and without limit, or are permanent effect. This is not explicitly stated.

I will likely revise the arcana talents to use tokens or magic points, both so there can be some constraint on their use and so I can remove the uses/day and level-based calculations (such as are derived from “d6 + level/2” and “3 + Intelligence modifier”).

Abjuration Arcana

Tier Benefit
Basic
  • Resistance 5
  • Energy Absorption 10
Expert
  • Protective Ward (+1, 2 rounds, 3/day)
  • Energy Absorption 20
Heroic
  • Protective Ward (+2, 3 rounds, 5/day)
  • Arcane Grip
  • Energy Absorption 30
Master
  • Protective Ward (+3, 4 rounds, 7/day)
  • Resistance 10
  • Energy Absorption 40
Champion
  • Protective Ward (+4, 5 rounds, 9/day)
  • Energy Absorption 50
  • Break Enchantment
Legendary
  • Immunity
  • Protective Ward (+5, 6 rounds, 11/day)
  • Energy Absorption 60
  • Mind Veil

Resistance

Choose one energy type each day, resistance applies to that energy type.

Energy Absorption

Absorb (negate) this much energy damage of any type each day, applied after vulnerability, immunity, and resistance.

Protective Ward

Create a field of protective magic that provides a deflection bonus to AC to all allies in a 10-foot radius.

Arcana Grip

At-will arcane lock that affects one object at a time, as long as you touch it.

Break Enchantment

As the spell break enchantment, usable once per day on one person or object.

Mind Veil

As permanent mind blank spell.

Conjuration Arcana

Tier Benefit
Basic
  • Acid Dart (d6, 3/day)
Expert
  • Acid Dart (d6+2,5/day)
  • Summoner’s Charm (+3 rounds)
Heroic
  • Acid Dart (d6+4, 7/day)
  • Summoner’s Charm (+5 rounds)
  • Summon Monster
Master
  • Acid Dart (d6+6, 9/day)
  • Summoner’s Charm (+7 rounds)
  • Dimensional Steps (400 feet/day)
Champion
  • Acid Dart (d6+8, 11/day)
  • Summoner’s Charm (+9 rounds)
  • Dimensional Steps (500 feet/day)
  • Combat Teleport
Legendary
  • Acid Dart (d6+10, at will)
  • Summoner’s Charm (+11 rounds/permanent)
  • Dimensional Steps (600 feet/day)
  • Phase Self

Acid Dart

Ranged touch attack with range 30 feet, ignores spell resistance.

Summoner’s Charm

Duration of all conjuration (summoning) spells extended by indicated time. At Legendary any summon monster spell can be made permanent, but declaring a new spell permanent immediately ends any current permanent spell.

Summon Monster

As summon monster II, once per day, but duration is one day and summoned creatures have maximum hit points.

Dimensional Steps

Teleport yourself up to the indicated distance per day, in units of five feet. You can bring other creatures but have to pay for them as well (yourself and two others teleported 30 feet would cost 90 feet of movement). This movement does not provoke an attack of opportunity.

Combat Teleport

Teleport anywhere you can see, but can be off-target or suffer mishap. (At-will dimension door instead?)

Phase Self

As phase door but self-only, though an opponent can target you through the door before your next turn.

Divination Arcana

Tier Benefit
Basic
  • Forewarned (+1)
Expert
  • Forewarned (+3)
  • Diviner’s Fortune (+3, 5/day)
Heroic
  • Forewarned (+5)
  • Diviner’s Fortune (+5, 6/day)
  • See Invisible
Master
  • Forewarned (+7)
  • Diviner’s Fortune (+7, 7/day)
  • Scrying Adept
Champion
  • Forewarned (+9)
  • Diviner’s Fortune (+9, 8/day)
  • Analyze Magic
Legendary
  • Forewarned (+11, always first)
  • Diviner’s Fortune (+11, 9/day)
  • Find Person

Forewarned

You can act in a surprise round even if you fail the Perception check, but remain flat-footed until you act. You gain the indicated bonus to all Initiative checks, and at Legendary all Initiative checks are as a natural 20.

Diviner’s Fortune

Standard action to touch a creature and grant the indicated bonus to all attack rolls, skill checks, ability checks, and saving throws for one round.

Scrying Adept

Always aware when being observed by magic, as permanent detect scrying, and when you scry you treat the subject as one step more familiar to you. Very familiar subjects get a -10 penalty to avoid your scrying.

See Invisible

See invisible creatures or objects as the see invisible spell.

Analyze Magic

Discern the properties of any magic item as the analyze dweomer spell.

Find Person

Location a person no matter where she is. Only one person at a time, and once you change people you cannot use this ability to find the previous person for the rest of the day.

Enchantment Arcana

Tier Benefit
Basic
  • Enchanting Smile (+4, trained Bluff, Diplomacy, Intimidate)
Expert
  • Dazing Touch (dazed 1 round, 5/day)
Heroic
  • Dazing Touch (dazed 1 round, 6/day)
  • Heroic Touch
Master
  • Dazing Touch (dazed 1 round, 7/day)
  • Aura of Despair (30-foot aura, 13 rounds/day)
Champion
  • Dazing Touch (dazed 1 round, 8/day)
  • Touch of Despair (30-foot aura, 17 rounds/day)
  • Hypnotic Presence
Legendary
  • Enchanting Smile (spell turning)
  • Dazing Touch (dazed 1 round, 9/day)
  • Touch of Despair (30-foot aura, 19 rounds/day)
  • Trembling Presence

Enchanting Smile

Become trained in Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate (+4 to checks, ‘trained’).

Dazing Touch

Melee touch attack to cause a living creature to become dazed for 1 round. Higher-tier creatures are unaffected.

Heroic Touch

You gain a +2 morale bonus to attack rolls, saves, and skill checks. You can transfer this to another creature with a touch, but lose benefits until you take it back (which you can do at any time).

Aura of Despair

Emit a 30-foot aura of despair for indicated number of rounds per day. Enemies within the aura take a -2 penalty on ability checks, attack rolls, damage rolls, saving throws, and skill checks. Rounds need not be consecutive.

Hypnotic Presence

Can influence anyone within 10 feet as a suggestion spell.

Trembling Presence

Any creature within 30 feet of you gains the shaken condition. You can choose which creatures within range are affected. No save, but spell resistance applies.

Enchanting Smile (spell turning)

On a successful save against an enchantment spell, the spell is reflected back at its caster, as per spell turning.

Evocation Arcana

Tier Benefit
Basic
  • Force Missile (d4+1, 3/day)
  • Intense Spells (+1)
Expert
  • Force Missile (d4+3, 5/day)
  • Intense Spells (+3)
  • Arcane Bolt (1d6)
Heroic
  • Force Missile (d4+5, 6/day)
  • Intense Spells (+5)
  • Arcane Bolt (2d6)
Master
  • Force Missile (d4+7, 7/day)
  • Intense Spells (+7)
  • Elemental Wall (13 rounds/day)
  • Arcane Bolt (3d6, 20-foot burst)
Champion
  • Force Missile (d4+9, 8/day)
  • Intense Spells (+9)
  • Elemental Wall (17 rounds/day)
  • Arcane Bolt (4d6, flurry)
Legendary
  • Force Missile (d4+11, 9/day)
  • Intense Spells (+11, roll twice on SR checks)
  • Elemental Wall (19 rounds/day)
  • Arcane Bolt (5d6, flurry 20-foot burst)

Force Missile

Standard action to release a force missile that automatically hits target, as magic missile. Missile does d4 points of force damage plus Intense Spells bonus (included in table above).

Intense Spells

Evocation spells doing hit point damage have that damage increased by the indicated amount. Bonus damage is not increased by Empower Spell, applies once per spell and not once per missile or ray, and may not be split between multiple missiles or rays.

Arcane Bolt

Ranged touch attack doing 1d6 points of damage per tier after Basic, choose from acid, cold, electricity, or fire. Usable once per round.

At Heroic tier the bolt can be a burst effect with 20-foot radius.

At Champion tier the bolt can be used in normal form (no burst) more than once per round.

At Legendary tier the bolt can be used more than once per round and may be a burst effect.

Elemental Wall

As wall of fire, but choose from acid, cold, electricity, or fire, determined when created. Up to indicated number of rounds per day, need not be consecutive.

Intense Spells (roll twice on SR checks)

When casting an evocation spell, roll twice on SR checks and take the better result.

Illusion Arcana

Tier Benefit
Basic
  • Blinding Ray (3/day)
Expert
  • Blinding Ray (5/day)
  • Extended Illusions (+3 rounds)
Heroic
  • Blinding Ray (6/day)
  • Extended Illusions (+5 rounds)
  • Blurry Form
Master
  • Blinding Ray (7/day)
  • Extended Illusions (+7 rounds)
  • Invisibility Field (13 rounds/day)
Champion
  • Blinding Ray (8/day)
  • Extended Illusions (+9 rounds)
  • Invisibility Field (17 rounds/day)
  • Phantasmal Demon (4d6 damage)
Legendary
  • Blinding Ray (9/day)
  • Extended Illusions (+11 rounds/permanent)
  • Invisibility Field (17 rounds/day)
  • Phantasmal Demon (6d6 damage)
  • Phantasmal Dance

Blinding Ray

Standard action for ranged touch attack with 30-foot range. Target blinded for one round, creatures of higher tier only dazzled.

Extended Illusions

Illusion spells cast have duration extended beyond concentration by indicated number of rounds.

At Legendary, one illusion can be made permanent; changing permanent illusion ends previous.

Blurry Form

Your opponents’ attacks against you have a 20% miss chance while this ability is used, and your attacks also have a 20% miss chance.

Invisibility Field

Swift action to become invisible (as greater invisibility) up to indicated number of rounds per day, rounds need not be consecutive.

Phantasmal Demon

As phantasmal killer except target takes only indicated damage rather than immediate death.

Phantasmal Dance

As weird but no immediate death and no Strength damage. Looks like intent is to be as phantasmal demon above, but any number of creatures in range, so 6d6 damage instead of immediate death and Strength damage.

Necromancy Arcana

Tier Benefit
Basic
  • Grave Touch (1 round, 3/day)
Expert
  • Grave Touch (3 rounds, 5/day)
  • Power over Undead (DC 13, 5/day)
Heroic
  • Grave Touch (5 rounds, 6/day)
  • Power over Undead (DC 15, 6/day)
  • Draining Touch
Master
  • Grave Touch (7 rounds, 7/day)
  • Power over Undead (DC 17, 7/day)
  • Life Sight (10 feet, 13 rounds/day)
Champion
  • Grave Touch (9 rounds, 8/day)
  • Power over Undead (DC 19, 8/day)
  • Life Sight (20 feet, 17 rounds/day)
  • Touch of Fatigue
Legendary
  • Grave Touch (11 rounds, 9/day, no channel resistance)
  • Power over Undead (DC 21, 9/day)
  • Life Sight (30 feet, 21 rounds/day)
  • Astral Travel

Grave Touch

Standard action to make a melee touch attack causing a living creature to become shaken for indicated number of rounds. If a shaken creature is touched and it is lower tier it becomes frightened for one round.

Power over Undead

As Turn Undead or Command Undead up to indicated number of times per day. Legendary tier the target cannot use channel resistance.

Life Sight

Blindsight to the indicated range but you can only detect living or undead creatures, and you can differentiate. Usable indicated number of rounds per day, rounds need not be consecutive.

Draining Touch

Standard action to make a melee touch attack causing target creature to become shaken for 1d4 rounds.

Touch of Fatigue

Draining Touch now also causes the target to become fatigued if a Fortitude save is failed.

Astral Travel

Travel the astral plane at will, per astral projection spell, but you cannot take anyone else with you.

Transmutation Arcana

Tier Benefit
Basic
  • Telekinetic Fist (1d4+1, 3/day)
  • Physical Enhancement*
Expert
  • Telekinetic Fist (1d4+3, 5/day)
Heroic
  • Telekinetic Fist (1d4+5, 6/day)
  • Levitate
Master
  • Telekinetic Fist (1d4+7, 7/day)
  • Change Shape (beast shape II or elemental body I, 13 rounds/day)
Champion
  • Telekinetic Fist (1d4+9, 8/day)
  • Change Shape (beast shape III or elemental body II, 17 rounds/day)
  • Physically Fit*
Legendary
  • Telekinetic Fist (1d4+11, 9/day)
  • Change Shape (beast shape III or elemental body II, 21 rounds/day)
  • Iron Skin

Telekinetic Fist

Standard action to make a ranged touch attack with 30-foot range, doing indicated bludgeoning damage.

Physical Enhancement*

Grants (basically) +1 enhancement bonus to one physical ability score per tier, can change daily. At Legendary tier the bonus applies to two physical ability scores.

* included for completeness, but probably need to replace this since there are no ability scores.

Levitate

Per the levitation spell.

Change Shape

As indicated spell for up to indicated number of rounds per day, rounds need not be consecutive.

Physically Fit*

You can add a +2 bonus to one ability score, and can change from round to round

* included for completeness, but probably need to replace this since there are no ability scores.

Iron Skin

You can turn your body into living iron, as the iron body spell.

Closing Comments

The example conversions I’ve done this week have been mostly to demonstrate how I might apply the processes. I am focusing mostly on the process. In creating all the arcana talents here I find that the process is pretty straightforward (except for gathering information from multiple documents — part of the impetus behind the Echelon Reference Series) and that the layout I was using proves to be cluttered because of the number of things that change from tier to tier (uses or rounds of use per day and size of effect are the main ones).

Talent abilities might need to be rewritten using tier instead of level because there are no longer class levels, or another resource management mechanism used. I am leaning toward the latter. The idea that an ability costs a number of tokens equal to the tier number is pretty easy to remember, as are effects that scale by token. I’ll need to review the token pools.

And as I said above, the token pools might lead to ability scores coming back. I think I may have it so that ability scores are determined by talents, though. I need to think about this a bit before commenting further, I can see several ways for it to work.

Right! Back to Echelon Reference Series: Barbarian.

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10 Comments

  1. You had an earlier concept of having six “ability pools” (http://www.kjd-imc.org/blog/ability-scores-modifiers-and-pools/), then later changed to concept-specific pools, such as a Metamagic pool and so on (http://www.kjd-imc.org/blog/token-pools-in-echelon/).

    Perhaps you can combine the two: for instance, a Sharpshooter talent may use Dexterity tokens to fuel its abilities, but it also allows you to earn Dexterity tokens via some aiming mechanism. This might introduce some odd fungibility effects, but IMHO it’s easy to track.

    There are some cases where the ability score to use for a talent is hard to pin down, especially with magical talents which you might want to run off any of Int/Wis/Cha depending on the character.

    • Right. I haven’t decided if I want to go with one per broad group of related abilities (which might be like the ability score pools) or more specific (like Iron Heroes). It’ll take some back and forth. I might just go with colors or something to start 🙂

        • I had a quick look, and it seems to be an interesting setting. I can imagine an explicitly color-based approach could be not only effective, but appropriate to that setting.

          To be honest, though, I’d intended ‘use colors as a placeholder’ and figure out later what the colors represent. After all, the Very Rules-Light RPG has the abilities ‘Fight’, ‘Skill’, ‘Magic’, and ‘Survive’, with none of this confusing ‘Intelligence’ or ‘Wisdom’ to clutter things, and a similar situation could happen here.

          Though I admit, that Echelon has D&D has an ancestor suggests that the classic six ability scores could well be an appropriate solution… I just don’t want to commit myself to them until it looks like those are indeed the groupings that suit. Abstract ‘colors’ are a good placeholder.

          • DCSS have a habit of trying to pare things away to the essentials. Which I support, but I acknowledge may not be to everyone’s taste.

            I think Pokémon* move types could make a good working model for pools. Physical Attack, Physical Defence, Special Attack, Special Defence, and Status. There are arguably different ways to categories abilities, but if it’s only a temporary solution anyway then how about:

            Special Defence:
            * Abjuration: Energy Absorption
            * Abjuration: Break Enchantment
            * Illusion: Invisibility Field

            Special Attack:
            * Conjuration: Summon Monster
            * Enchantment: Aura of Despair
            * Evocation: Elemental Wall
            * Necromancy: Power over Undead

            Status:
            * Conjuration: Dimensional Steps
            * Necromancy: Life Sight
            * Transmutation: Change Shape

            {* You can regard Pokémon as an unusual sort of RPG where you have different characters for social versus combat interactions.}

          • While I am moving toward using tokens or points to manage talent invocation, I don’t know that I want to split things up like that. Iron Heroes does a good job of having each group of abilities use only one type of token, and I think I’d prefer that. I don’t think I would have each talent use its own token type (Iron Heroes comes close to doing basically that), but… hmm, that could be a starting point, though I don’t look forward to coming up with so many different ways of acquiring them.

  2. There are three abilities in here which modify spells you cast, and which therefore depend on having actual spellcasting from some other source:

    • Conjuration: Summoner’s Charm (extend/permanent)
    • Evocation: Intense Spells (increase damage/advantage on SR checks)
    • Illusion: Extended Illusions (extend)
    • I saw that, and I may change it. Or not; it doesn’t really bother me to see talents that are more useful to some characters than to others. If those are the only benefits gained at those levels, though, I might feel more strongly about changing them.

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