First Draft Talents: Eldritch Thread Feats

Green Ronin’s Advanced Player’s Manual contains an Eldritch Weaver class, and while I don’t plan to use this class, the Eldritch Threads look like they’re a pretty good fit for one model of spell casting in Echelon.

This class was based around arcane spells and doesn’t dip much into divine spells.  It might be worth expanding on these to pull in some divine spells, especially since I expect to base divine characters around domain powers and divine channelling more than spell casting.  In the meantime, I will be updating the domain talents so they include the domain spells for each.

Here are 41 more talents, each providing a number of spells per level (sometimes only one, and in one case none! I’ll want to look into that) and a couple of powers specific to the thread.  In future I’ll review those powers (in some cases they can be simplified quite a bit) and possibly expanded (the current pattern shows a lovely gap at the Legendary tier, something should probably go there, especially since there is only one level of spells instead of the two levels seen everywhere else).

In the meantime, spell casters can now learn spells.

And the magic point formula was probably way too stingy.  I looked up the table from the Expanded Psionics Handbook, where I got this idea in the first place, and the totals are way too low.

magic points = (level + caster training bonus + WillModifier) * tier.

Echelon Eldritch Thread Talents Cover
Echelon Eldritch Thread Talents Cover, click to download PDF

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    • I’m not entirely certain. Right now the minimum level to be able to learn a spell is (spell level * 2 + 1), and it might be reasonable to set that as the minimum caster level.

      That does mean magic missile starts with three missiles. I’m not convinced this would be harmful.

    • And now I remember why I considered increasing all spell levels by two rather than one — it is not possible to have a +3 Caster Training Bonus before fifth level, which forces you to be Expert before casting “third level” (originally first level) spells, as we did in the RSRD.

      By reducing the level by one, if it is possible to learn and cast spells up to your Caster Level then Basic characters who have Caster Training and are Steeped in Magic could cast spells from a higher tier. I can get around this by simply requiring that casters be of the same tier of the spell or higher, but it feels awkward.

      On the other hand, it does mean that “half caster” characters are somewhat viable, casting spells of a level equal to their tier without needing both Caster Training and Steeped in Magic, and that feels okay.

      On the gripping hand, paladins, the “half casters” I usually look at, don’t get any casting ability until fourth level, which is close enough to fifth level for me to consider not allowing it until Heroic tier anyway, which is Tier 3, which brings everything back into line.

      Hrm. Which way to go on this. The mathematically elegant way actually seems to fit best, weirdly enough.

      • And since I don’t actually use the level in many places (maybe in calculating magic item values or spell casting costs, certainly not in saving throw calculations) it is probably sufficient to just increase them all another step, set minimum caster level to SL*2-1 (same as RSRD, just the level numbers are higher) and call it a day.

        I’m not going through and updating all the talent descriptions for this tonight, though. Maybe when I actually polish things.

        • So, if I am reading this right, cantrips are SL2? What is at SL1? I find this a bit confusing. What if you keep cantrips=SL1 and say that you need CTB strictly greater than SL in order to cast? That keeps Basic casters away from non-cantrips. The minimum CL you need to exert on a given spell would then be (2*SL+1), which gives the same result as your previous statement.

          • I did consider that sort of phrasing, but this is the only place I can think of, in all of Echelon, D&D, or RSRD-based stuff where something “must exceed target” rather “equal or exceed target”, and that feels worse.

          • I think I would need to see what “spell level 1” means now in order to be convinced. Having a scale that starts at 2 is unlike anything in your list, and in the RPG industry as a whole 🙂
            Would reflowing the spell list to be on a 1–12 scale help any? It would factor into the six tiers better at any rate.

          • That probably is the correct answer, but it’s a dreadful job I don’t want to do right now 🙂

            Raven suggested keeping spell levels just as they are in the books (so 0..9) and adding 2 to find ‘circle’ or ‘rank’ or some other term. Spells keep their existing levels, but we work with a derived value. I like this better than having a blank ‘level 1’, but reflowing is probably better yet.

          • David Lamb

            It seems to me it would be easier to change the formula than the spell levels. Min caster level =2*(echelon spell level)+3 is the same as 2*(current echelon spell level+1)+1.

          • That would be using the original RSRD spell levels, wouldn’t it David? Cantrip = level 0, 0*2+3 = 3. Level 1, 1*2+3 = 5, etc.

            I almost go for this, but I’ve been using Caster Training Bonus as the maximum castable spell level. Caster Level can be much higher than the Caster Training Bonus suggests — you don’t cast high-level spells, but when you cast, you can cast hard.

            I think I’ll just accept the ugly for now. Spell rank = spell level +2, CTB is the maximum spell rank you can cast, minimum caster level is spell rank * 2 – 1 (or spell level * 2 + 3).

          • David Lamb

            If I understand correctly, the issue is the mismach between the CTB achievable at Expert and Heroic being too high for the spell levels that can be cast? If so maybe we should look at the flip side from changing spell levels: maybe there shouldn’t be CTB-increasing talents at Basic tier. It fits with magic being an Expert+ ability.

            Not sure I *like* the idea, but logical completeness causes me to suggest it.

          • Indeed, this could be solved by simply having only one of Caster Training or Steeped in Magic available at Basic tier, or only one of them providing a Caster Training Bonus.

            As you said, considered for completeness, but doesn’t feel right.

            I was updating the divine talents last night and realized that it could actually work rather well with RSRD-first level spells being treated as third… something. You can have a +3 Caster Training Bonus at Heroic tier on a single talent (Caster Training, say), which aligns quite well with RSRD-first level spells being available at RSRD-fifth character level. This is very close to what paladins and rangers get as ‘half casters’. Granted you cast them somewhat harder than RSRD paladins/rangers do, but more in line with Pathfinder (as I recall, Pathfinder paladin caster level is three less than the class level, rather than half class level) in the long run.

            That is, a ‘paladin’ in Echelon with casting ability would have a caster level equal to level/2+level/4, more or less, rather than RSRD level/2 or Pathfinder level-3. This is probably okay.

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  2. David Lamb

    Regarding rebalancing the spells, I thought one of the principles was that old “first level” spells were to become available only at Expert tier; I was surprised to see cantrips available at Basic but am starting to get used to the idea. So the problem might reduce to spreading spells over 5 tiers. There are clearly a few 9th level spells that a lot of people thought should really be 10th level, so that might be the only rebalancing needed. If Cantrips can still be at Basic level, you could get level 1 spells (cantrips) at 4th level, level 11 at 24,still spread out every 2 levels in between. Formula is 2*(spell level+1).

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