Monthly Archives: June 2015

Non-Vancian Class: Elementalist

The last entry on the Urbanekovian Magic system for a while.  Finishing this class up has exhausted my ideas about it for the time being.

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

Ability Scores:

Minimum score: Wis 16

10% XP bonus: Wis 18+

Hit die:


Class Skills:

Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Knowledge (Nature), Knowledge (Planes), Profession, Spellcraft

Skill proficiencies:

4 at first level, plus one additional every 4 levels above first

Table: The Elementalist

Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special Primary Element Secondary Element Tertiary Element Quartenary Element Pentenary Element
1 +0 +0 +2 +2 Magesight, familiar +3
2 +1 +0 +3 +3 +4
3 +1 +1 +3 +3 +5
4 +2 +1 +4 +4 Secondary Element +5 +1
5 +2 +1 +4 +4 +6 +2
6 +3 +2 +5 +5 +7 +3
7 +3 +2 +5 +5 Tertiary Element +7 +3 +1
8 +4 +2 +6 +6 +8 +4 +2
9 +4 +3 +6 +6 +9 +5 +3
10 +5 +3 +7 +7 Quartenary Element +9 +5 +3 +1
11 +5 +3 +7 +7 +10 +6 +4 +2
12 +6/+1 +4 +8 +8 +11 +7 +5 +3
13 +6/+1 +4 +8 +8 Pentenary Element +11 +7 +5 +3 +1
14 +7/+2 +4 +9 +9 +12 +8 +6 +4 +2
15 +7/+2 +5 +9 +9 +13 +9 +7 +5 +3
16 +8/+3 +5 +10 +10 +14 +10 +8 +6 +4
17 +8/+3 +5 +10 +10 +15 +11 +9 +7 +5
18 +9/+4 +6 +11 +11 +16 +12 +10 +8 +6
19 +9/+4 +6 +11 +11 +17 +13 +11 +9 +7
20 +10/+5 +6 +12 +12 +18 +14 +12 +10 +8

Bonus SP:

If the Elementalist has a Wisdom of 17, she gains an additional SP per level, assignable to any element’s pool that she currently has access to.  If the Elementalist has a Wisdom of 18, she gains two extra SP, each assignable to any elemental SP pool that the Elementalist currently has access to.

Class Abilities:

Armor and Weapon proficiencies:

Elementalists begin with 2 weapon proficiencies chosen from the following list: club, dagger, hammer, quarterstaff, sling, handaxe.  A new weapon proficiency is gained every 4 levels above 1st.  They are not proficient with armor or shields.


An Elementalist has the ability to sense the flow of thaum through the world.  By spending one spell point, she may open her mind to see this flow directly.  She may leave this Magesight open as long as she desires, but prolonged exposure to the true nature of the world will have serious repercussions on the mind of the Elementalist.  Everything seen via Magesight is indelibly imprinted in the memories of the Elementalist, 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 Elementalist has permanently lost one point of wisdom.


Being attuned to the natural world, the Elementalist will be especially attractive to certain members of the natural world.  In particular, a single unusually intelligent specimen (Int. of 4, and able to understand the Elementalist’s native language) of the avian, canine, feline, or rodent family will attach itself to the Elementalist, regardless of the attitude of the Elementalist.  The animal will simply appear one day, and refuse to leave.  It will not force it’s company upon the Elementalist, but will stay closer if fed or shown affection.  If the familiar is ignored by the Elementalist, it will follow at a distance, and be seen perhaps once a week, occasionally leaving gifts near the personal effects of the Elementalist.  A befriended familiar will act much as a ranger or druid’s animal companion.  However, the ignored familiar will still have an uswerving loyalty to its chosen master, and will attack any being who seems to be imminently threatening the life of the Elementalist.  Additionally, it will appear in serendipitous moments as it is able to provide distraction, misdirection, cover, or any other service a cunning animal might provide.  If the familiar is slain, a new one will appear unbidden after approximately one year.


Elementalists draw upon the variations the thaumflow has as it flows through the basic elements in the Material Plane.  These elements are Air, Fire, Water, Earth, and Spirit.  At the beginning of his career, the Elementalist is able to channel the thaum as it flows through a single element.  As her power increases, she is able to master more elements.  Which elements she focuses on is up to her, though at least two elements must be mastered before she may begin mastering Spirit.  The “carrying capacity” of spell points is exponential, i.e. if 1 SP can lift one pound, 2 SP can lift 2, 3 SP can lift 4, 4SP can lift 8, and so on.

  • Air – controls gasses, both native atmospheric gasses and other “heavier” chemical gasses.  May be used to manipulate light objects, condense liquids out of vapor phase (creating fog or dew), and at increased power levels, deal damage and mimic weather effects.

1 SP will allow the Elementalist to move a 1 lb object within Close range, create a light fog bank of 5 cu. ft., or deflect projectiles of 1 oz or lighter (with sufficient warning).

  • Fire – controls or creates flames or fire, and increases the temperature of objects or areas.  Flames so conjured are of a magical as well as physical nature, and thus are able to harm creatures of the magical world.  Continuing fires lit by these magical flames are not so spiritually endowed.

1 SP will deal 1d6 fire damage to a touched target, or warm 1 lb of material 10 degrees.

  • Water – controls any liquid, whether water-containing or not.

1 SP will move 1 cu. ft. of touched water (approx. 7 gallons) up to 5 feet, or sense the location of Small or larger creatures within 20 feet which are submerged in a body of water.

  • Earth – controls stone, dirt, metals, or any other non-organically derived solid matter. May be used to change shape, strength, compositional arrangement, induce/remove magnetism in appropriate materials or other effects.

1 SP will make a 1 lb piece of steel lightly magnetic (able to pick up smaller pieces of metal, but unable to support it’s own weight on a larger iron/steel surface), or manipulate the shape of 1 cu. ft of metal/stone.

  • Spirit – controls/manipulates life force/living matter.  May be used to track, heal, harm, hide, control or manipulate living beings.  Several large scale organizations (international in scope) probably exist to regulate how this element is manipulated by Elementalists.

1 SP may be used to locate the source (raw direction only) of a piece of organic material for 1 minute, or deal 1 point of damage to a touched living creature.

Harnessing the Elements:

Certain natural activities create a buildup of available thaum in some locations that an Elementalist may tap into to power his spells.  Storms generate Air energy, sex (and other intense human emotions) generates Spirit energy, earthquakes generate Earth energy, volcanoes and large fires generate Fire energy, and tsunamis and fast-flowing water generate Water energy.

As much energy as is desired may be tapped by the elementalist from events such as thunderstorms, eruptions, tsunamis and the like.  Spirit energy generated during moments of intense human emotion is equal to half the total HP of the individual with the most HP in the group experiencing the same emotion, multiplied by the number of individuals simultaneously experiencing the emotional high (or low).

Harnessing a large amount of raw Elemental energy can be dangerous, however.  An Elementalist may safely harness up to his level in environmental SP.  If he taps more than his level, he suffers nonlethal damage per additional point of environmental up to his level again.  Above this limit, each additional point of additional SP inflicts 1 point of damage per SP harnessed.  Thus a 12th level Environmentalist could safely tap 12 SP from a thunderstorm, and a further 12 SP (taking 12 points of nonlethal damage), and up to his current hit points (say, about 60), for a total of 84 SP.  After tapping environmental SP, the Elementalist must wait a number of rounds equal to the point total tapped before he may attempt to channel any more environmental energy, as the local supply has “dried up.”

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Let’s talk about murder for a minute.  Not, like, actually killing people, but about the word.  In several recent discussions online about gaming in general and D&D in specific, the word “murder” got thrown around pretty loosely.  Typically in the context of characters killing enemies (and usually taking their stuff).  It seems like the term “murder-hobo” is a favorite of a lot of people for the characters their players run, or imagine other players run.  But I’d like to remind everyone about the importance of precision in language (especially in discussions of morality (perceived vs. absolute) and alignment.  Words mean things.  And even if a large portion of a population agrees that a certain word means something slightly different than the rest of the population, we would do well to return to the established meaning of the word and not be so blase about declaring certain actions to be thus or so without understanding what thus and so might imply to someone who doesn’t share the “group definition” of the word.

Murder.  What does this word mean?

noun: murder; plural noun: murders
  1. the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another.
verb: murder; 3rd person present: murders; past tense: murdered; past participle: murdered; gerund or present participle: murdering
  1. kill (someone) unlawfully and with premeditation

Ok, that’s pretty clear.  At least it is to me.  But it would appear that a large portion of the gaming community has a more liberal definition of murder.  And I don’t mean applying the term to the killing of sentient nonhumans.  No, most of the usage I have seen has had the implication that killing of any kind is murder, which when looking at the definitions above, is simply not the case.

But what does it matter, you ask?  Isn’t this all just semantics and kind of pointless?  Maybe.  But then again maybe not.  When you start throwing heavily charged words around in a casual manner, you begin to have two effects on the world at large.  First, you desensitize some to the usage of the word, and dilute it’s precise meaning so that the word no longer carries the meaning that it once did to an audience.  Second, to others you extend the meaning of the word beyond it’s original bounds so that it includes other cases which are not actually covered by the word to be associated with the ramifications of the word.

Stop all that linguistic claptrap, you!  Say what you mean in plain English!

Ah, yes. Very well.  To murder someone (you cannot murder something), it must be an unlawful, premeditated killing.  That is a very serious crime, and is only undertaken by twisted individuals, however permanent the twisting might be.  To kill enemy soldiers during war is not murder.  To kill a criminal who has been sentenced to die is not murder.  To kill an animal is not murder.

Unpleasant and undesirable, yes.  Murder, no.

So why do I bring this up on a blog about gaming?  Because in several discussions (mostly involving alignment), any sort of killing is often deemed murder.  Enemy combatants.  Aggressive, dangerous monsters.  Unintelligent animals.  Adventurers routinely go about killing creatures such as these.  But to do so is not (usually) murder.  In the same way, characters who make a living by killing these threats to society are often cast in a light where they are at least as dangerous to society, and often more so than the creatures they dispatch!

If you use alignment in your game, do not be caught in the trap which tells you all killing is murder, and therefore evil.  It is very possible for a Good character to kill creatures, even many creatures, in a just manner.  In a medieval style setting, death is a constant threat which is often faced.  No one was under the illusion that pacifism was a viable option.  Even if you didn’t do the killing, the armies of the king did the killing on your behalf, to keep you from being killed (or worse) by those who desire what you possess and are willing to murder you to get it.  And you were darned glad of it, too!

Yes, yes, I’m getting there.

Be that as it may, yes, killing is obviously undesirable if it can be reasonably avoided.  Having cause to take a life should be a profound source of sadness, if only at the need for it, if not also for the extinguishing of sentient life.  But sadness at a necessity does not make the necessity inherently evil, or even wrong.

Life is too complicated to give us the luxury of using a single word.

Them’s my two cents.

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Play Type Survey

So I’ve spent some time putting this little quiz thing together.  It’s kind of like those stupid little personality quizzes you see on the facebook, but actually legit.  I was inspired by the Angry GM‘s articles on the different types of fun, so I created this thing out of my own brain to find out what my players actually want from the game.  Feel free to share it around.

I’m an Explorer, if you were curious.

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