Non-Vancian Class: Arcanist

Please refer to the intro piece first for more information about the changes to spellcasting abilities this class makes use of.

Ability Scores:

Minimum score: Int 16

10% XP bonus: Int 18+

Hit die:


Class Skills:

Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Knowledge (any), Profession, Speak Language, Spellcraft,

Skill Proficiencies:

4 plus one additional proficiency at every 4 levels above first.

Table: the Arcanist

Level BAB For Ref Will Special Spell points -16 Int Spell Points – 17 Int Spell points – 18 Int.
1 +0 +0 +0 +2 Magesight +3 +4 +5
2 +1 +0 +0 +3 +4 +5 +6
3 +1 +1 +1 +3 +5 +6 +7
4 +2 +1 +1 +4 +6 +7 +8
5 +2 +1 +1 +4 +7 +8 +9
6 +3 +2 +2 +5 +8 +9 +10
7 +3 +2 +2 +5 +9 +10 +11
8 +4 +2 +2 +6 +10 +11 +12
9 +4 +3 +3 +6 +11 +12 +13
10 +5 +3 +3 +7 +12 +13 +14
11 +5 +3 +3 +7 +13 +14 +15
12 +6/+1 +3 +3 +8 +14 +15 +16
13 +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 +15 +16 +17
14 +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 +16 +17 +18
15 +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 +17 +18 +19
16 +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 +18 +19 +20
17 +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 +19 +20 +21
18 +9/+4 +5 +5 +11 +20 +21 +22
19 +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 +21 +22 +23
20 +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 +22 +23 +24

Class Features:


An Arcanist has the ability to sense the flow of thaum through the world.  By spending one spell point, he may open his mind to see this flow directly.  He may leave this Magesight open as long as he desires, but prolonged exposure to the true nature of the world will have serious repercussions on the mind of the Arcanist.  Everything seen via Magesight is indelibly imprinted in the memories of the Arcanist, and can never be expunged by any means short of death.  For every minute spent viewing dark energies or creatures, a wisdom check must be made.  A failed check means the Arcanist has permanently lost one point of wisdom.

On the other hand, a minute spent beholding creatures or events of extreme beauty and light will have a 25% chance of restoring a lost point of wisdom, or a 25% chance of increasing the Arcanist’s Charisma by 1 point.  An Arcanist may only achieve a maximum of 18 Charisma this way.


Arcanists use their force of will to reach into the thaumflow that suffuses the material plane and alter aspects of it to suit them. Altering the material plane costs a certain amount of energy of the Arcanist, measured in spell points.  Greater magical effects cost a greater amount of spell points.

There are 8 schools of magic, which utilize the thaumflow in different ways.  (Focus given as examples, other focuses may be effective depending on desired spell effects). Each spell cast by the Arcanist pulls from at least one school, known as the Base school or Major school for that spell, and may include aspects of other schools, known as the minor schools.  Each school included in a spell increases the spell cost by at least 1 point per school.

Abjuration: Deflects or channels energies – compel motion

Focus: shield charm (Ru), chalked pentagram/circle (Ad), precious metal/stone charm (Sup), Permanent circle of precious material (Subl)

Conjuration: Alters space-time to deliver materials/creatures

Focus: fetish representation of subject (Ru), actual piece of subject (Ad), prepared fetish containing piece of subject (Sup), freely donated piece of subject (Subl)

Divination: Extends perception, even into the near future

Focus: natural reflective surface (Rude), highly polished crystal sphere (Ad), Silvered glass (Sup), polished metal mirror (Subl)

Enchantment:  Binds thaumic energies to objects/persons

Focus: strand of rope (R)

Evocation:  Transforms thaumic energy into tangible energy

Focus: lit candle (R)

Illusion:  Alters perception

Focus: alcohol (R)

Necromancy:  Direct interaction with life and quasi-life forces

Focus: blood or bone (R)

Transmutation:  Transform substances through either displacement or alteration

Focus: insect cocoon (R)

Minor effects cost a small number of spell points, while extending and enlarging those effects cost greater amounts of points.  Examples given below.

Abjur: +1 to one saving throw for 1 round – 1 point

Conj: Summon 1 HD creature for 1 round – 1 point

Div: +1 to attack for 1 round – 1 point

Ench: Make any object a Rude focus for 1 minute – 1 point

Evoc: 1d4 energy damage to touched subject – 1 point

Illus: Create small, silent image for 1 round – 1 point

Necr: 1 point of ability damage to touched target – 1 point

Trans: +1 to physical ability score for 1 round – 1 point

These effects are provided as a baseline for players and DMs to adjudicate desired spell effects.  Any possible effect may be achieved with enough creativity and spell points.

School Specialization:

Most Arcanists, intentionally or not, become more familiar with certain schools of magic than others.  Through exposure, practice, or study, moving energy along similar paths will create “ruts” in the Arcanist’s mind.  These “ruts” make moving energy along those paths easier.  This is similar, and builds on to the “Familiarity” factor, but is specific to the Arcanist’s schools.  When an Arcanist has cast a spell based primarily on one school a certain number of times in a certain period of time, the Arcanist is considered to be a Level 1 caster of that school (Level 1 Evoker, or Level 1 Diviner, etc.).  As a level 1 Evoker, the Arcanist may now cast spells with Evocation as the major school using 1 less spell point.  At higher levels, more points are saved, but the requirements are more intense.

Specialization Level: Point Saved (Major) Points Saved (Minor) Requirement A Requirement B
1 1 0 30 in 30 15 in 10
2 2 1 45 in 40 23 in 13
3 3 1 60 in 50 30 in 17
4 5 2 75 in 60 38 in 20
5 8 4 90 in 70 45 in 23
6 13 6 105 in 80 53 in 27
7 21 10 120 in 90 60 in 30
8 34 17 135 in 100 68 in 33

Specialization Level: There are 8 levels available for specialization in any one school.

Points Saved (Major): The number of spell points saved in any spell with this school as the major school.

Points Saved (Minor): The number of spell points saved in any spell with this school as a minor school.

Requirement A: The basic requirement for specialization to this level.  Given in the formula (Number of Spells) in (Number of Days).  As soon as the caster has cast the requisite number of spells in under the number of days indicated, he is eligible to utilize the school specialization discount.  Also at that point, the caster may begin working towards their level 2 specialization.

Requirement B: The more stringent requirement for specialization levels.  Given in the same formula as Requirement A.

Bonus Level (optional):

If an Arcanist gains a specialization level in all eight schools, they gain a bonus level.  They are considered to have their current XP plus the full difference between their current level and the next level. Thus, they will have the same amount of XP above that required for their current level as they did previously.

For example:  If an Arcanist had 720 XP and required 1000 XP to advance to level 2, and then cast enough spells to become a level 1 specialist in all 8 schools (an unlikely feat, but anyway…), he would then have 1720 XP.

Alternative method:  As an option, the DM may choose to award 100 times the specialization level for each specialization level gained.  Thus reaching specialization level 8 in any school will gain 800 XP.  (There is a total XP award of 3,600 available per school).

Personal Focus:

An Arcanist may craft for himself a personal focus to assist his concentration and control of the thaumflow. It must be crafted of materials worth at least 100 gp, and he must spend at least one week crafting the focus.  It may take any form, but common forms are wands, staves, totems, talismans, and the like.  Each day spent crafting the focus, 8 hours must be spent exclusively on the crafting of the focus.  A further 8 full hours must be spent resting.  The remaining 8 hours may be spent however the Arcanist wishes to spend them.  Further, the Arcanist must weave at least 3 spell points of Enchantment school magic into the focus each day of crafting.  Each day counts as one spell with Enchantment as the major school.

Cost Time to create Bonus
100 gp 1 week +1 save, +1 damage, +1 round duration, +10% range, or -10% SP
1000 gp 10 weeks +3 save, +3 round duration, +1 damage die, +20% range, or -20% SP
10,000 gp 100 weeks +5 save, +5 round duration, +2 damage die, +30% range, or -30% SP; soul fragment
100,000 gp 1000 weeks +10 save, +10 round duration, +4 damage die, +50% range, or -50% SP; Soul bind

Creating a focus may be broken up by week, so that a 1000 gp focus may be worked on for one week, and then put down for some time and then worked on again for another week.  The interval between sessions may be no more than a year and a day.

Personal foci may be used by Arcanists (or even hedge wizards) other than the creator, but only after the Arcanist that created it has died.  Physical descendants of the creating Arcanist may use the focus at no penalty, as well as any Arcanist or hedge mage trained by the creating Arcanist.  Those who would murder the Arcanist and steal a powerful focus will find it a difficult task, however, due to the soul fragment/soul bind properties of particularly powerful foci.

Soul fragment:  The focus is now an intelligent item, with a personality that matches that of it’s creator and an Ego score of 5

Soul Bind: After the creator’s death, instead of going to an afterlife, the creator’s soul enters the focus, and lives on in the form of an intelligent item.  If the focus is destroyed, the soul is released to travel to its appointed final destination.

Spellcrafting Example:

Since all of this has been the bare-bones structure of the system, rather than an explanation of how the system itself works, I will endeavor to provide a few examples of how this process would work.

Example 1: Fireball

Suppose we would like to recreate the classic spell Fireball.  First, we determine which school it belongs to, and if any secondary schools would apply.  Evocation is the primary school, and at the moment it is the only school.  The baseline for evocation spells is 1d4 to a touched target.  To increase the damage to 1d6, we would spend another spell point (2 total now).  Now, since we’d like the damage to be a ranged effect, we add another point to increase the range to Medium, so we have a spell costing 3 SP at the moment.  Now to make it an area effect instead of a single target, we will invest another two points to increase the radius by 20 ft.  So now we have a 40 foot wide gout of flame that we can place (almost) anywhere within 100+ feet of us that will deal 1d6 damage to everyone in the blast radius for a total of 5 SP.  Oh, wait, we need more than that to equal an SRD Fireball?  Ok, how many damage dice would you like?  Add another point for each one beyond the first, and an additional point to bring them up to a d6.  We’ll add 8 points to bring the total up to 5d6 damage, same as a 5th level caster normally would have.  That will make 13 SP for this spell, the first time it’s cast, for an Arcanist who does not yet have any specialization in Evocation.  Which puts it in the realm of possibility for a 4th level Arcanist (though it will drain a significant amount of power from her). The saving throw DC for the spell would be 10+Int bonus (at least 3)+SP/3 (4, in this case) for a total of 17.

That is completely unaided.  However, if the Arcanist has any sort of focus available, she may use it to reduce the SP cost of the spell.  Since the casting time is one round, she has the option to use one focus.  Assuming a fellow party member has a lit torch nearby, she could use that as a seed focus to reduce the cost of the spell by 20% (in this case 2.6 which rounds to 3) for a total of 10 SP.  That is just the right amount to avoid the chance of breaking the focus.

Or, if the Arcanist had cast the exact same spell within the last hour (being a higher level than 4th, obviously), it would reduce the cost of the spell by 1 point (to 12), and the seed focus would reduce the cost by another 2.4 SP (rounded to 2), for again, a total cost of 10 SP.

I know that seems like kind of a lot, but there is a lot of flexibility in the system.  Perhaps you wished to make the fireball effective against only your enemies and leave your allies unscathed.  Adding in Divination as a secondary or minor school would add 1 to the cost, plus 1 for every ally in the radius you wished to avoid.  Or you could add in extra points to make the spell last a whole round or more, potentially filling a doorway.  (The cost for the increased damage and extra dice would need to be paid every round).  Or you could pump in extra points to make the save DC higher.

Categories: Rules | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

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One thought on “Non-Vancian Class: Arcanist

  1. Pingback: Truly Non-Vancian Magic | The Greenbeard Codex

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