Thursday, April 18, 2013

Swords & Wizardry (Late) Appreciation Day – the Sorcerer

Here’s my second Swords & Wizardry class. I didn’t finish in time for the S&W Appreciation Day, but here it goes! This is my shot at a classical Sword & Sorcery magician. It’s also an attempt at creating an easier spellcaster (for those that are intimated or just don’t like of the vancian system).

Credit must be given where it’s due. The design madness (and, I hope, playable class) below was inspired by the awesome Carcosa supplement, an idea tossed by RPGPundit and great rules tinkered by Talysman, from The Nine and Thirty Kindgoms blog.

The Sorcerer

Sorcerers use the same attack matrix, XP, Hit Dice and saving throw as the Monk. They can use the same weapons of a Thief, but no armor. They can magic swords and daggers, rings, potions, scrolls and most miscellaneous magic items usable by Wizards and Thieves.

Sorcerers can see in the dark for 60 ft. They can also summon natural shadows to hide them. This works like the Hide in Shadows ability of a Thief equal level, except that, if it works, the Sorcerer is literally invisible. However, he can’t move or the dweomer is broken.

Eldritch blasts: At 1st level a Sorcerer can execute magic ranged attack at will that deal the same damage as a weaponless Monk of the same level.
The Sorcerer must define the nature of his blast with the Referee (fire, electricity, otherworldly flames, howling souls etc.).  If the Referee allows it, the chosen blast can have secondary small effects (like setting things on fire or freezing stuff), usually without major impacts in combat (except for the creative Sorcerer).
The Referee can also allow a Sorcerer to quest for different types of blasts, by contacting extraplanar entities or making pacts with powerful creatures like dragons.

Arcane shield: A 1st level Sorcerer can protect himself with a magic barrier. The Sorcerer gains the AC of a Monk of equal level. Once activated it lasts for one combat. The Sorcerer must sacrifice blood to activate this protection (1 hit point per Sorcerer level*). This nature of this protection must be defined by the player and Referee, using the same guidelines above.

*Anytime blood is required, it may come from the Sorcerer himself or by killing a defenseless creature with a melee weapon (like a dagger).

Language of Beasts: A 4th level Sorcerer can speak with animals. He can also offer his blood to a small animal, creating a familiar.
A familiar is an arcane servant that will obey all the Sorcerer’s commands and can deliver touch spells. The Sorcerer can concentrate to see and hear through the eyes of his servant (during these trances the Sorcerer is defenseless and blind to his surroundings).
At 7th level, a Sorcerer can assume the shape of his familiar once per day, by shedding 4 hit points of damage.
A Sorcerer can banish his Familiar by spilling his blood before the servant.
If an arcane servant is killed, the Sorcerer must save or be reduced to only 1d6 hit points and lose his power for one day.
If a rival spellcaster seizes the familiar, the Sorcerer suffers a -4 penalty on saves against him.

Somatic Mastery: A 5th level a Sorcerer has total control over lesser body functions through mystic trances. While meditating the Sorcerer gains the same benefits of sleep and rest, but it’s still aware of his surroundings. He can also enter a deeper trance, hibernating for as long as he wishes. While hibernating the Sorcerer appears to be dead and doesn’t require food, water or air.

Levitate: Beginning at 6th level a Sorcerer can slowly levitate through short distances (20 ft.). At 8th level its 40ft. Finally, at 11th level, its 100 ft. Each use requires 4 hits points of blood.

Will: Beginning at 7th level a Sorcerer can hypnotize any humanoid creature (anything from a halfling to an ogre). This requires 1 round of direct eye contact and works like charm person (the target can save). Only three targets can be kept hypnotized at the same time.

Bind: A 8th level Sorcerer facing an extraplanar creature may attempt to bind it to his will. Treat this as a special reaction roll – 2d6 + double (Sorcerer’s level - opposing HD rating). On a 9+ the creature is binding and must obey three orders from the Sorcerer. After the first order is fulfilled, the outsider gains a saving throw against each other order (the Referee can also grant a free save against the 1st command if he thinks the Sorcerer is twisting this rules of binding).
Binding requires that a number of hit points of blood equal to double the outsider’s HD (this value is a secret, the Sorcerer only discover this AFTER rolling the binding).
A failed binding can’t be attempted against the same creature (unless the Sorcerer uses a ritual or gains some advantage, like learning the being’s True Name).

Curse: A 9th level a Sorcerer can cast a curse on any creature responsible for bringing him below 6 hit points. This curse must be approved by the Referee, but Table 88 at page 122 of the Complete Rulebook is a good guideline (you could even roll on it). Uttering a curse inflicts 1d6 points of damage on the Sorcerer.

Astral Journey: A 11th level Sorcerer can enter a deep trance, leaving his body, either to journey to strange otherworlds (like contact other plane, except that all insanity chances are increased by +5%) or to visit other locations of this world (like astral spell, except that the Sorcerer can’t cast spells or intervene in astral form). After using this power a Sorcerer is weakened for the next 1d4 days, losing access to all his class abilities (except his dark vision and language of the beasts).

Doom: A 14th level Sorcerer can, at dusk, utter how he’ll meet his doom. He must choose a form of death: pierced by a blade, drowned, burned, smashed by a beast etc. (these are just guidelines as the category can’t be too generic or specific).
If the Sorcerer is killed in such fashion in the next 7 days, he’ll come back from the grave in the new moon, his body fully reconstructed at the closest and safest location of his original demise. Each time a Sorcerer come back he acquires an inhuman tell or trait (brimstone smell, scaled patches of skin, a tail, cat’s eyes etc.).

Ritual Caster: Sorcerer can search for and cast rituals, as determined by the Referee. Use those described in Carcosa or Call of Cthulhu as examples.

Sorcerers must be of Chaotic alignment. They must also choose a Patron and fulfill a quest for his master each time he gains level. Failure incurs at curses, attacks from otherworld entities and worst things. A Referee is also invited to come up with eldritch taints for Sorcerers that disobey or constantly change Patrons (see ideas here).


  1. Nice post. I can see the class as one used to create a build of Elric of Melnibone.

  2. Thanks for commentary, Anthony! Because in Carcosa Sorcerers are basically Fighters with the "plus" of rituals, I was tempted to allow humans to multiclass as Fighter/Sorcerer using the same guidelines for Fighter/Wizard Elves (although it can be argued that Melniboneas aren't really Humans, so Elric could be a "normal" multiclass Fighter/Sorcerer.