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  1. #1
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    Elves cannot be clerics or druids and shun the arcane school of necromancy. These are the rules of Birthright and I agree with them, but I find difficult to accept that no elf (other than a ranger) can cast (for example) a "pass without trace" or a "speak with animals". I believe a school of arcane spells that deals with nature should be created for elven arcane spellcasters.
    What do you think about it? Which should be the opposite schools and what spells should be included?

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    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Wed, 14 May 2003, Elrond wrote:

    > I find difficult to accept that no elf (other than a ranger) can cast
    > (for example) a "pass without trace" or a "speak with animals".
    > I believe a school of arcane spells that deals with nature should be
    > created for elven arcane spellcasters.

    Glad you agree! I personally have gone with making them druids more than
    wizards, but if they are to stay wizards then I think your plan is necessary.

    > Which should be the opposite schools and
    > what spells should be included?

    Necromancy is the most obvious opposition school. If you wanted to make a
    bigger restriction, I`d consider evocation the second most likely. But
    taking all of evocation away is probably too much; one stab at a
    middle-ground is to prohibit all fire-based spells, on the grounds that
    they`re too dangerous to the trees to be used by forest guardians.

    As for what should be in it, most of that should be pretty easy. Start by
    taking everything that specifically targets or employs plants and animals.
    Then look over everything that`s left on the ranger and druid lists, and
    consider each individually. I`ve been meaning to draw up such a list
    myself for some time, but keep not getting around to it -- perhaps if I
    can tell myself I`m doing it for you, I can get it done. ;) What edition
    of D&D are you using?


    Ryan Caveney

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  3. #3
    Birthright Developer irdeggman's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Elrond

    Elves cannot be clerics or druids and shun the arcane school of necromancy. These are the rules of Birthright and I agree with them, but I find difficult to accept that no elf (other than a ranger) can cast (for example) a "pass without trace" or a "speak with animals". I believe a school of arcane spells that deals with nature should be created for elven arcane spellcasters.
    What do you think about it? Which should be the opposite schools and what spells should be included?
    While this is a good concept there are a few of things to watch out for during implementation -

    If a new arcane school is created than any wizard/sorcerer (even non-elves) would be able to learn spells from it. That's how 2nd ed bards learned enchantment spells (from the elves).

    Opposition schools only come into play if a wizard is a specialist.

    It might be a better option to give elves a few spell-like abilities such as the ones you've listed. This would make them similar to drow, but would end up giving them an ECL in all probability.

    Necromany spells are already "shunned" by the elves and they disdain evocation ones.

    I would have to question the necessity of having to do this. It seems to fit but it isn't an absolute necessity, as ryan states. In 2nd ed, cerilian elves didn't get these spells unless they were rangers.:)
    Duane Eggert

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    This is actually sort of an interesting topic. I've been tinkering with some house rules the last few weeks, trying to see if I could tweak the 3e spell system slightly, without going off the deep end too much.

    Anyway, one of the ideas that entered my pot came from one of the previews that Monte Cook put up on his site of his upcoming book Arcana Unearthed.

    He basically sorts spells in three categories - common or simple spells, I forget what the middle category is supposed to be called and am too lazy to look it up, so let's call it "arcane" spells for lack of a better term, and exotic spells. Basically, the spell categories correspond to weapon categories, and a bit more. The simple spells are spells that are pretty much common to all spellcasters - stuff like detect magic, dispel magic, and a lot of simple generic effects. The second category is supposed to be a bit more powerful, with more interesting effects thrown in. The final category of exotic spells contains the most rare and powerful spells - stuff that only a few of the greatest spellcasters can swing - or a spellcaster's signature spell or spells.

    Now, the way I swung this idea was to have spells sorted in basically the same three categories. A full list of simple spells, a lot of smaller, themed lists for the arcane spells, and all exotic spells are learned individually. Spellcasters begin with basic access to simple spells, and also gain some access to various arcane spell lists. Wizards more than anyone else, of course. What this does is basically make spellcasters much more themed and less all-purpose swiss army knives.

    For instance, one wizard might learn fire magic, earth magic and anvil magic, and also know the exotic haste spell. He can learn spells from those lists. Another might learn seeing magic, earth magic, and wind magic, and also know the exotic gaseous form spell.

    I'm trying to put some finishing touches on this system and see if I like it - the idea is specifically to accomodate themed spellcasters without taking away too much of what makes a D&D wizard a wizard. Oh, and changing out his familiar for a staff instead. "I told you to take the wizard's staff!"

    All that aside, I haven't seen that much wiggle room in the 3e rules for adding "schools" - if you do, it creates a helluva headache, because you'll have to change a lot of other material in the process.

    What room there is in 3e for the Elven "nature-oriented wizard" would be:
    -Play a wizard or sorcerer and pick the appropriate spells, or develop your own.
    -Play a druid and call yourself a wizard.
    -Make up a prestige class that allows wizards and sorcerers to access druid spells or just gives nature-related abilities.
    -Just modify the wizard's spell list, mix in druid spells, and create a unique Elven spell list.
    -Just do what every self-respecting elf does. Frolic naked and pretend to be in tune with nature. Hmmm. Might be a different campaign world.
    -Make up feats that allow Elven wizards and sorcerers to use access some standby druid abilities and spells.

    That's about it, I think.
    Jan E. Juvstad.

  5. #5
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Wed, 14 May 2003, irdeggman wrote:

    > If a new arcane school is created than any wizard/sorcerer (even
    > non-elves) would be able to learn spells from it. That`s how 2nd ed
    > bards learned enchantment spells (from the elves). Opposition schools
    > only come into play if a wizard is a specialist.

    Yes, that`s a good point. To make this rigid, you`d need to add in as a
    separate rule that certain class features are different for elven wizards
    and non-elven wizards (specifically, only elves have access to the new
    nature school, and only non-elves have access to necromancy?).

    The less-intrusive way to handle it would be just to add the new school to
    the wizard list, and say that these spells are common among elves but
    almost unknown among non-elves only because no non-elf has bothered to
    research them yet -- but yes, this means all wizards could figure out how
    to cast them. I can see both pros and cons to this approach.

    > It might be a better option to give elves a few spell-like abilities
    > such as the ones you`ve listed. This would make them similar to drow,
    > but would end up giving them an ECL in all probability.

    The trouble with this is that "they`re good with plants and animals"
    translates into a much longer list of spells than the drow get; you`d end
    up having to do something like make a big menu from which each individual
    elf could choose a few, at which point just changing the spell list might
    be easier.

    Actually, in some ways, this is the approach I`ve adopted -- I have
    gradually come to see the Sidhelien druid class IMC as not something the
    elves study or even choose to become, but rather just a Savage-Species-ish
    implementation of the fact that Cerilian elves really are humanoid nature
    elementals with potential access to a huge number of innate abilities...
    some days, I think *every* elf IMC should have a few druid levels.

    > Necromany spells are already "shunned" by the elves and they disdain
    > evocation ones.

    Yeah, but they are *prohibited* from casting some of the very spells to
    which they have the thematically strongest connection. That seems wrong.

    > I would have to question the necessity of having to do this. It seems
    > to fit but it isn`t an absolute necessity, as ryan states.

    Let me amend that a little. I don`t think altering the wizard spell list
    is the only way to fix the problem -- I could live with any of the ones
    Mark Aurel suggested -- but I do think we need to give standard access to
    all nature-themed spells to any elf who wants them.

    > In 2nd ed, cerilian elves didn`t get these spells unless they were
    > rangers.:)

    I don`t think you need to require that they take a specific class to have
    access to them, either. Having made a "generic elven nature spell" list,
    I would add all those spells as standard options to elves who chose to be
    bards, wizards, assassins, or even paladins if such creatures existed
    (which they don`t, of course; but perhaps in other campaign worlds).


    Ryan Caveney

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  6. #6
    Senior Member ryancaveney's Avatar
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    On Wed, 14 May 2003, Mark_Aurel wrote:

    > For instance, one wizard might learn fire magic, earth magic and anvil
    > magic, and also know the exotic haste spell. He can learn spells from
    > those lists. Another might learn seeing magic, earth magic, and wind
    > magic, and also know the exotic gaseous form spell.

    I like this idea. Of course, "anvil magic" makes me think only of Warner
    Brothers` cartoons... Wile E. Coyote as a wizard who always fumbles his
    spellcasting rolls and buys cursed spell components is a good image,
    though. =)

    > and changing out his familiar for a staff instead. "I told you to
    > take the wizard`s staff!"

    =) A campaign I played in several years ago had a variety of magic items
    which I haven`t seen in D&D elsewhere, which in 3e rules could be
    interpreted as adding metamagic feats to your castings. That is, not an
    item that gives you a feat which you then use normally, but rather one
    which adds the feat for you even without you having to cast it as a
    higher-level spell. For example, the one my fighter-mage found
    essentially added two effective caster levels for determining the damage
    done by any lightning-based spell I cast.

    > All that aside, I haven`t seen that much wiggle room in the 3e rules
    > for adding "schools" - if you do, it creates a helluva headache,
    > because you`ll have to change a lot of other material in the process.

    One of the things I really liked about the 2e spell lists was that they
    listed the wizard school to which each cleric spell belonged. I also
    really liked religion-specific access to clerical spheres. The
    re-genericization of clerics is perhaps my biggest annoyance in 3e.

    > -Play a wizard or sorcerer and pick the appropriate spells, or develop
    > your own.

    Spell research is a fine answer. In fact, IMO, there isn`t a spell on any
    class`s list which a wizard can`t eventually research.

    > -Play a druid and call yourself a wizard.

    A fine plan. The mechanics of the classes and what the characters call
    themselves in the gameworld need bear no clear relation.

    > -Make up a prestige class that allows wizards and sorcerers to access
    > druid spells or just gives nature-related abilities.

    Interesting; my only quibble is that I think elves should have easier
    access to nature magic than other kinds, and from first level. In fact,
    if I were to proceed along these lines, I might make elves start with only
    nature spells and require a prestige class for access to evocations. =)

    > -Just modify the wizard`s spell list, mix in druid spells, and create
    > a unique Elven spell list.

    That`s pretty much what Elrond`s after, I think.

    > -Just do what every self-respecting elf does. Frolic naked and pretend
    > to be in tune with nature. Hmmm. Might be a different campaign world.

    *grin* But doesn`t that mean they`re druids after all? As the song
    (the filk of "Gimme that Old Time Religion") goes,

    We will worship like the Druids,
    Drinking strange fermented fluids,
    Running naked through the woo-ids,
    And that`s good enough for me!


    Ryan Caveney

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  7. #7
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    Elrond wrote:

    >This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
    > You can view the entire thread at: http://www.birthright.net/read.php?TID=1651
    >
    > Elrond wrote:
    > Elves cannot be clerics or druids and shun the arcane school of necromancy. These are the rules of Birthright and I agree with them, but I find difficult to accept that no elf (other than a ranger) can cast (for example) a "pass without trace" or a "speak with animals". I believe a school of arcane spells that deals with nature should be created for elven arcane spellcasters.
    >What do you think about it? Which should be the opposite schools and what spells should be included?
    >
    In the 2E Birthright Book all Sidhelien automatically "Pass without
    Trace" in natural settings (p. 7) - why should they bother to learn that
    spell to cast it on lesser creatures? And how could not being able to
    cast this spell be a restriction if all of them can use it freely?
    bye
    Michael

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  8. #8
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    Mark_Aurel wrote:

    >This post was generated by the Birthright.net message forum.
    > You can view the entire thread at: http://www.birthright.net/read.php?TID=1651
    >
    > Mark_Aurel wrote:
    >...
    >What room there is in 3e for the Elven "nature-oriented wizard" would be:
    >-Play a wizard or sorcerer and pick the appropriate spells, or develop your own.
    >-Play a druid and call yourself a wizard.
    >
    That is quite good and the opposite example we already find: The Rjurik
    Wizard who pretends to be a druid.
    bye
    Michael

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  9. #9
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    What edition of D&D are you using?
    Third edition, of course. I’m one of the few Italians (I’m sorry for my English) that know and appreciate Birthright (this campaign setting hasn’t been translated).

    Just modify the wizard`s spell list, mix in druid spells, and create a unique Elven spell list.

    That`s pretty much what Elrond`s after, I think.
    Exactly.

    If a new arcane school is created then any wizard/sorcerer (even non-elves) would be able to learn spells from it.
    Yes, that`s a good point. To make this rigid, you`d need to add in as a separate rule that certain class features are different for elven wizards and non-elven wizards (specifically, only elves have access to the new nature school, and only non-elves have access to necromancy?).

    The less-intrusive way to handle it would be just to add the new school to the wizard list, and say that these spells are common among elves but almost unknown among non-elves only because no non-elf has bothered to research them yet -- but yes, this means all wizards could figure out how
    to cast them. I can see both pros and cons to this approach.
    So let’s specify, in the description of elves and half-elves, that elven-blooded arcane spellcasters have free access to spells from the “nature school” (to be created) and let’s introduce a new general feat (for non elven wizards): “elven arcane lore”.

    Elven Arcane Lore [General]

    You have mastered the fundamentals of elven arcane lore.
    Prerequisites: Non elven-blooded wizard, Skill Focus (Knowledge Arcana).
    Benefits: Upon taking this feat the wizard gains access to the elven “nature school” and becomes a specialist. He must choose necromancy and either evocation or conjuration as opposite schools.
    He can still use the prohibited spells he knew prior to taking this feat, including using items that are activated by spell completion or spell trigger.

    My idea is that this kind of magic may only be learned (this excludes sorcerers) by non elven-blooded characters and specialisation should be necessary for them. To achieve this, they need to take the Elven Arcane Lore feat.
    On the contrary, elven-blooded sorcerers and wizards are free to select spells from the new “nature school” and the latter may specialise in that school. They don’t need to take the feat because the new spells are natural to elven sorcerers and part of the arcane teachings of elven wizardry.

    I think this is a good solution...


    N.B: elven-blooded means elf or half-elf. It has nothing to do with blood abilities.

  10. #10
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    Ah, I think I need to clarify one of my earlier points.

    The idea of a separate spell lists for Elven wizards is pretty easy to do and balance, I think. It just shouldn't be characterized as a "school" - schools are mainly supposed to gather up certain types of effects (with subschools and descriptors as subdividers). Unlike 2e, there's a lot of different spell lists in 3e - making a new spell list is no problem. I just don't think calling it a "school" is a good idea. I know this sounds pedantic, but it's much easier to communicate an idea if we keep our concepts clear.

    Making it cost a feat should IMO only be necessary if you actually gain access to additional spells, instead of simply changing one spell list for another.

    Other things to consider for an Elven "nature mage" might be things like his bonus feats - scribe scroll doesn't sound very appropriate by itself, though you could assume an alternate medium (i.e. "print spell on bark") or replace it with something else - the eschew materials feat sounds sort of appropriate. Perhaps his bonus feats can be selected from a somewhat wider or different list to further differentiate. Finally, the familiar is sort of appropriate, but I wouldn't consider it unreasonable to exchange it for something else of similar overall power, as long as it's appropriate. Gaining some additional nature- or wilderness-related abilities might work, as might alternate forms of familiars or benefits. There's a lot of cool potential material here; making a few minor adjustments to a class can give it an entirely different feel very easily.
    Jan E. Juvstad.

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