Friday, April 12, 2013

[D&D] Kylind Campaign - Class Preview: Chronologist

Hello everyone,

I need to be much better about having a regular schedule with this blog. I've done a poor job, and it doesn't reflect well on me. So, at least look for a weekly update every Friday with a new look into my unique D&D campaign. Today, I'll be giving a taste of one of my unique classes - introducing the Chronologist.

Bear in mind that as a sneak peek for this base class, I'm only revealing some of the description and the first two levels of the class. This is the current iteration, so there may be changes when the supplement as a whole is considered complete. In addition, you'll see a few things referenced that you won't find in another supplement. For those, I may preview them later, or perhaps once the supplement is finished, you'll have to pick it up to fill in the blanks!

I'd like to thank Bill and Ashton for their work in helping me tune this class. Bill has had to put up with a class that was extremely under-tuned at first, and Ashton helped me with much of the research done to improve the class. Without either of their input, I'd likely have scrapped the idea before fleshing it out. Thanks guys!

Chronologist - Base Class

Chronomancy seeps throughout the land of Kylind, challenging its structure and even its history. None are more passionate in seeking to understand and harness that power more than the Chronologist. From mastering raw power to understanding the intricacies of ancient weaponry, their passion and fervor is so intense that they are often decried as zealots, compared more frequently to religious fanatics than to wizards. The life of a Chronologist is usually lonely, but they rarely care for the company of others. All that matters is understanding, and ultimately controlling, time itself.

Alignment: No restriction. Chronologists pursue their path for a variety of reasons, and alignment often dictates their use of their abilities rather than the abilities themselves.

Religion: Chronomancy is inherently a magical subject, but it’s considered by those who study it to be more of an “arcane science” rather than the interference of a deity. As a result, Chronologists often favor more arcane deities. Arguably, any deity is applicable, as all have been known to meddle with time, and any that claim it as their domain are often short-lived.

Race: Chrono Gnomes’ disposition to meddling with forbidden affairs originated the practice of Chronomancy, and thus the birth of the Chronologist profession. Those fortunate (or perhaps unfortunate) enough to befriend a chronologist, however, may follow the path if they are both brilliant and eccentric enough.

Role: Chronologists are flexible, and while their spells are considered Divine, their primary stat is Intelligence. This is reflected in a selection of utility-focused spell casting that can provide protection, inflict harm, or dominate control over the battlefield. This allows them to easily fulfill the role of a cleric or a wizard in any adventuring party, though their specializations prevent them from either becoming a damage powerhouse or healing paragon. Alternatively, a Chronologist may take a more martial build, focusing his studies and efforts on the effective use of Timeless weaponry. Such chronologists can be highly effective on the battlefield, but benefit more from a selfish spell list rather than a support styled one.

Ability: Intelligence is the primary stat for Chronologists. They also benefit from a good Dexterity to hit with their Chrono Blast ability or specialize in the use of firearms, depending on a Chronologist's chosen path.

Hit Die: d6

Class Skills: Appraise, Concentration, Craft, Decipher Script, Gather Information, Heal, Intimidate, Knowledge (Any), Profession, Search, Speak Language, Spellcraft, Use Magic Device

Skill Points @ 1st Level = 4xINT
Skill Points @ each additional level = 4+INT

Base Attack Bonus
Time Enlightened; Spontaneous Casting; Aura
Focused Study
Chronologist’s Spells per Day


Class Features and Proficiencies

Weapon and Armor Proficiencies: Chronologist are proficient with all simple weapons. Those that take the Martial Focused Study path are also proficient with all Timeless weapons (see below). However, all chronologists are proficient with light armor and any armor with the “timeless” descriptor.

Time Enlightened: Chronologists gain the feat Time Enlightened when they take their first level of Chronologist. This opens up special trees of magic that are unavailable to other casters without it.

Spontaneous Casting: Chronologists may substitute either Shield Harm or Accident spells, depending on their alignment. Good Chronologists receive Shield Harm while Evil Chronologists receive Accident. Neutral Chronologists must choose one or the other at character creation. If their alignment later changes, so does their spontaneous casting availability.

Aura (Ex): Chronologists have been touched by time itself, and exude a powerful aura that grows in strength with their level. Treat this as the Cleric ability, but detectable via Detect Magic rather than Detect Good/Evil/Chaos/Law.

Focused Study: At 2nd level, a Chronologist makes a decision to focus his study of time in one of two ways: Magical or Martial enlightenment. This choice affects the entire rest of their career as a Chronologist, so it’s important this decision is not made lightly.

If a Chronologist chooses the Magical Focused Study, he gains the ability Chrono Blast (Sp). The chronologist is able to focus an immense amount of his energy into a concentrated blast of chrono energy. Treat this ability as a ray with a range of 60 feet. It is a ranged touch attack that affects a single target and does not allow a saving throw. It deals 1d6 points of chrono damage (to be explained in a later chapter of the supplement) at 2nd level, and increases to 3d6 at 8th and 6d6 at 14th. A chrono blast is equivalent of a spell whose level is equal to one-half the chronologist’s level, rounded down, with a minimum spell level of 1st and a maximum of 9th.

A chrono blast is subject to spell resistance, though feats such as Spell Penetration and other effects that improve caster level checks to overcome spell resistance also apply to chrono blast. Chrono blast does half damage to objects. Metamagic feats cannot improve a chronologist’s chrono blast (because it is a spell-like ability, not a spell).

If a Chronologist chooses the Martial Focused Study, he gains proficiency with all weapons that have the timeless descriptor. In addition, he gains bonus feats at 8th and 11th level, but they must be selected from the below list. Note, however, that the Chronologist need not meet any of the typical requirements for the following feats if he chooses to take them using these bonus slots.

Feat Options for 8th level: Shot on the Run, Greater Weapon Focus
Feat Options for 11th level: Improved Precise Shot, Greater Weapon Specialization

Other Class Benefits: Chronologists have many more tricks up their sleeves as they level. Included are some bonus feats that both trees of Chronologists gain, and two class abilities called Premonition and Foresight. Neither of these abilities are similar to any that may share the name in other supplements, so you'll have to wait to find out what they do!

Spell List: Chronologists have access to a unique spell list that combines divine and arcane spells, and features a few spells specific to the class. New spells, marked with an asterisk, are detailed in a different chapter of the supplement. Spells cast by chronologists count as Divine regardless of their usual classification.

Level 0 – Arcane Mark, Detect Magic, Guidance, Light, Minor Accident*, Minor Shield Harm*, Mending, Prestidigitation, Read Magic, Resistance, Virtue

Level 1 – Light Accident*, Ancient Knowledge*, Bane, Benign Transposition, Bless, Comprehend Languages, Deathwatch, Detect Chaos/Evil/Good/Law, Detect Secret Doors, Divine Favor, Doom, Endure Elements, Entropic Shield, Erase, Expeditious Retreat, Feather Fall, Identify, Magic Weapon, Nystul’s Magic Aura, Protection from Chaos/Evil/Good/Law, Ray of Enfeeblement, Sanctuary, Shield, Light Shield Harm*, True Strike

Designing the Chronologist

My initial goal with the Chronologist class was to design a support-based Divine caster who could replace a Cleric in a party. I've been at far too many tables that consider Clerics boring to the point that someone almost always gets "forced" to be the healing stick, and I wanted to solve that by creating a new class that can serve that purpose with a different flair. 

Mind you, I'm not saying I hate Clerics. I've been at tables with excellent ones too - I just think there needed to be an alternative to straight up packs of bandages. Because I want to focus so much on history and time as a theme in my campaign, it seemed logical that I reach into that pool of ideas for my first class.

The most recent addition to the class was the dual pathway. It actually hasn't been play-tested yet, and likely needs some tuning. I'm running another entry in our campaign tomorrow, and I hope to see a bit of it play out there. When I started out, Chronologists completely lacked any method of dealing damage short of their Accident series of spells, which are a bit like Cause Wounds but a slightly different flavor. This was frustrating to play as well as to DM, so I started looking for a solution and reached to the Timeless weapon category I had planned. It took a while to introduce these, as they place firearms and some uniquely flavored melee weapons in the hands of traditional D&D characters, and that's always a difficult thing to balance. The most recent revision may have fixed this issue, but it really remains to be seen until a few more games have gone by.

The Chronologist was also designed alongside a more powerful prestige class that shares its flavor, the Chronomancer. I'm still in the process of adding this prestige class to my documentation, but all my notes are there. Because it takes a good 12-13 levels to qualify for the class, I won't be seeing it in play-test for quite some time (my PCs are 5th level right now). Maybe when that time comes, I'll feature it here on the blog too!

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