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Clerical Domains and Specialist Magic Usersby Blacky the Blackball
I was looking through my old RC last night, and came across some notes I made for specialist magic users and clerical domains. I made house rules these back in about 1992, and at the time I knew that 2nd edition AD&D had rules for these things, but I hadn't read those rules (AD&D 2e remains the only edition of D&D that I still don't possess). I can remember writing them, having nothing to base them on, so having to make them up from whole cloth.
I used these house rules in a number of campaigns with no problems or complaints from my players, but stopped short of putting them into Dark Dungeons - I thought it was a house-rule too far...
Specialist Magic Users
With two exceptions (Read Magic and Wish), all magic user spells (I'll refer to them as magic user spells throughout this description, but it applies equally to elves) are split into one of four types, each of which opposes another type.
- Energy <==> Entropy
- Matter <==> Thought
In the case of reversible spells, the reverse of the spell is always the opposite type to the normal version.
A human magic user (but not an elf), may choose to specialise in one of those four types of magic. Energy specialists are called Thaumaturgists, Entropy specialists are called Warlocks, Matter specialists are called Transmuters, and Thought specialists are called Enchanters. The choice to specialise in this manner is taken at character creation and cannot be changed. It is also not compulsory: unspecialised magic users are fine.
If a magic user specialises in a type of magic, when preparing spells each day all spells of that type can be prepared in a spell slot of one level lower than normal (to a minimum of first level) and all spells of the opposite type must be prepared in a spell slot of one level higher than normal (to a maximum of 9th level). The spells keep their normal level for all other purposes (for example monster immunities). Spells of the other two types - and untyped spells - are unaffected by the magic user's specialisation.
Example: Fireball is normally a third level spell. A thaumaturgist can prepare this as if it were a second level spell because it is labelled as an "Energy" spell; so it can be prepared by a 3rd level thaumaturgist (although it will only do 3d6 damage - the per level effects of the spell are not affected). However, the same thaumaturgist must prepare Dispel Magic (normally also a third level spell) as if it were fourth level because it is labelled as an "Entropy" spell; and therefore cannot cast that spell until they reach 7th level.
This works in exactly the same way as specialist magic users, except that there are seven pairs of types:
- Vitality <==> Inertia
- Creation <==> Destruction
- Sympathy <==> Antipathy
- Hope <==> Despair
- Life <==> Death
- Fate <==> Luck
- Purity <==> Corruption
Again, each spell (except Wish) has a type, and again specialised clerics prepare spells of that type as if they were one level lower, and spells of the opposite type as if they were one level higher.
Each God (or Immortal) has affinities with two or three of these (never opposites, though), and their clerics are automatically specialised in the same types that their God has affinities with. Clerics who become druids lose their specialities and become unspecialised.
As with magic user spells; in the case of reversible spells, the reverse of the spell is always the opposite type to the normal version. This means that clerics can't reverse their speciality spells or opposed spells on the fly. If they want to reverse one of those, they must specifically prepare the reversed version. Spells of types the cleric is neither specialised in or opposed to can be reversed on the fly as normal.
Anyway, enough wittering. Here they are - what do you think?
When I wrote these, I went through every spell assigning it a type. I remember going through the numbers to make sure that I had a roughly balanced number of spells of each type so no one speciality was grossly under or over powered; and making sure that each type of magic user had a decent selection of combat spells. I even wrote a computer program where the player could tick the specialities they had and it would print them a revised spell list including all the level adjustments.