... now with 35% more arrogance!

Friday, August 13, 2010

The Illusionist

B/X BLACKRAZOR has a post about missing the Illusionist class. I like the illusionist spell list well enough -- I mention it enough, don't I? However, I'm not entirely happy about the implementation of the class. The restrictions on the class seem out of place, considering that the spells don't seem all that overpowered compared to magic-user spells. And the high Dex requirement seems out of place, since the class description doesn't really seem to use Dexterity much in its concept. The implication is supposed to be that, although the illusionist's magic is real, there's something about the class that is similar to the stage magician, using dexterous manipulation to create illusions.

Plus, the illusionist's magic doesn't seem different enough for me.

I've hinted before that I want to create a spell construction kit. I'm not sure if I mentioned that I want it to handle entire forms of magic: you could create an animal magic discipline that, in addition to having different spell lists, would have different preparation methods, casting requirements, and features. So, even where a spell like Speak With Animals might be on two different spell lists, it would feel completely different when cast by a Beast Mage than by a Druid.

I want this to apply to illusionist magic, too. To me, the illusionist would just be a magic-user variant, but the discipline itself would make casting illusions feel different from casting ordinary spells. I'm not fully ready with a re-designed illusionist spell list, but here are some ideas I have for what should be different:
  • For me, the legendary/literary templates for the illusionist are the reputed powers of mesmerists, the glamours of the Fay, and Mandrake the Magician.
  • In keeping with that, casting illusionist spells requires catching the gaze of the target, making hypnotic gestures, and murmuring subtle commands.
  • Illusions can be maintained, as long as the illusionist can periodically reinforce the illusion with one of the three requirements.
  • Illusions can be disbelieved or resisted by a battle of wills, unlike ordinary magic. This struggle can occur whenever the illusionist reinforces the illusion.
  • The illusionist can dispense with one or two of the requirements by intensifying one requirement; high attributes determine which requirement can be intensified, replacing one or both of the other requirements.
    • Int 15+: suggestive/soothing phrases
    • Dex 15+: hypnotic gestures.
    • Cha 15+: mesmerizing gaze
I'm thinking the battle of wills is a second saving throw, modified by -1 for each attribute (Int, Dex, Cha) higher than the target's Int, and by +/-1 depending on whether the target's level/HD or the illusionist's level is higher. Dispensing with one or two requirements or refreshing an already cast illusion requires rolling a d6, adding the spell level, and comparing to the relevant attribute/3 + highest spell level usable by the caster. If the modified die result is higher, the illusion ends.

I'll have to think more on this, obviously.

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