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Friday, August 3, 2012

Musings On An Old School Sorcerer Class

You know, I'm not a huge fan of the 3.X games, despite having run that iteration for nearly twelve years (due to popular demand, mostly.)  I have never liked the cumbersome skill system, nor the bulky combat (that can last, literally hours of play time.)  There were, however, some things that I liked, both from official and OGL products.  The one that I want to talk about today is the Sorcerer class.  

This was one of the first things that caught my eye when I picked up my 3.0 PHB the day it came out.  The sorcerer in this new book was not a specialist magic user, but rather a new concept in magic use altogether.  This sorcerer used a new variation on "Vancian Fire & Forget" style magic.  It didn't need to memorize it's spells.   Granted, it sacrificed the sheer amount of spells that the magic-user (now wizard) had access too, but there was something intriguing about the versatile way in which this class was able to cast it's spells.  On top of that, without the need to memorize (which some players felt was cumbersome) I began to see players that never would have chosen to be mages in previous iterations of the game begin to pick up this new class. It was an interesting time, despite the fact that I quickly realized that I disliked how cumbersome the system itself was (more so after the release of 3.5.)  This new magic user had daily uses of spells per level, just as the wizard, but could fire off any spell at any time.

This is one of the things that I really liked from 3.X core.  While I still like my magic-user (wizard) and have still played them more often than sorcerers, I like what it brings to the table.  While I know that it isn't "old school" in it's own right, I think that this style of sorcerer can bring something to the table as an optional class in OSR games.  Therefore I want to set about writing the class up.  Yes I know there are a couple of them out there already, but they don't satisfy me.  One of the "old school" sorcerers that I have found uses a "spell point system" getting rid of the "fire and forget" of Vancian all together.  That isn't D&D to me at all.  It is a nice variant, but is too much like psionics for my liking.  Psionics and magic are separate entities, in my opinion, and their systems should not reflect each other.  Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against psionics, I just don't want magic to be like psionics.  The second "old school sorcerer" that I have found is a Castles & Crusades variant that has a spell failure table.  I don't like that in the core class either.  So, I am left to create the class on my own.  My goal is to make a workable C&C sorcerer, as well as one compatible with Swords & Wizardry and Labyrinth Lord.  The ultimate goal is to have a book of optional magic rules for OSR/Old School products, that I will then attempt to publish.  My sources here are, some of my own thoughts and ideas/house rules, some OGL stuff (SSS Relics and Rituals material and some of the better Green Ronin OGL stuff that I dig,) and a few 2E items of interest that I tend to like (Tome of Magic rules.)  So, I will start this journey with my upcoming sorcerer conversion.  I will post a good deal of my work here, to get opinions and tweak things as they need to be.