the Penultimate Magus

Today we’re celebrating the final stretch of design work on the Magus and the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co.’s birthday!

First up, the Magus. The changes to the Magus in this draft were made with three goals in mind: simplifying / streamlining, balance (between Eldritch Societies and between the Magus & other classes), and style. To streamline some wordy features and spells have been simplified which makes them function slightly different but without a lot of unneeded complexity. To enhance balance I took a lot of the excellent feedback readers have provided and applied them to the Eldritch Society’s features & the spells I had created for the last draft (all spells created from the last draft were either rewritten or removed). To enhance the style I made weapon cantrips a new focus for the magus which was also something many readers were requesting.

One last note about this draft, the introduction erroneously suggests that the ability to cast cantrips has been bumped from 1st level to 2nd level – that is an error. In an earlier round of revision that had been the case and that vestigal sentence was left there. Sorry!

the Magus, Penultimate Draft

UPDATE: the Magus Class Now Available on the DM’s Guild

Now on to our 1st birthday! I’ll pull back the curtain a bit and let you in on a behind the scenes not-quite-secret – the Sterling Vermin Adventuring Co. is just two people. There’s me, Benjamin Huffman, the writer & game designer and there is my silent partner, /u/barkalot who does all of the layout & formatting & creates some of the art assets. Over the past year we have made a lot of cool stuff for D&D. The content I am most pleased with is the content we were able to put on the DM’s Guild thanks to the generosity of our Patreon backers whose support gave us the financial ability to purchase art for our projects.

By far the most popular thing we’ve created in the last year was the Pugilist. The Pugilist was also the first time we tried our hand at hiring artist to create original art for a project and – wow – project management adds a whole new layer of challenges to operating the Co! The Pugilist was such a success in terms of getting our readers excited that we also created additional Fight Clubs.

We published quite a few races this year, including the Beastfolk, the Dhampir, and the Pactborn. We walked a bit outside the bounds of published 5e concepts when we made the Vampire prestige class to celebrate Halloween.

One of the most interesting things about operating the blog over the past year has been seeing what kind of content gets people the most excited. This last year that content was easily our most popular (in terms of readership) was Critical Hits Revisited which got a whopping 6.335 views in a single day.

This post has been long-winded, and for that I apologize, but I want to end by thanking our Patreon backers, thanking /u/barkalot, and thanking you, our readers. If somehow you haven’t heard this spiel by now you can support us on Patreon, subscribe to our subreddit, and follow us on twitter.

3 thoughts on “the Penultimate Magus

  1. Happy birthday!

    I also said this on Patreon, but I’m really digging the new and rewritten spells. I’m so excited that the Magus is in its final stages, because I really want to get my hands on one in a campaign.

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  2. I just learned about your website, and I love what you’re doing! I felt like I should participate in some way by giving some feedback. For context, I’m coming into this without seeing any of your previous versions of the Magus and without looking in depth into any of your other classes. I thought about going back to look at previous iterations, but then realized that you might appreciate the perspective of someone who hasn’t been around since the project’s inception.

    Therefore, my thoughts (note that many of these are extremely minor things, much less criticism and more the few notes I could come up with for a solidly built class):

    For Eldritch Armament, you use different terminology for Eldritch Archer as you do for Mystic Marauder or Spell Sword. For the latter two, you say “The extra damage is #d# for a 1st level spell slot, plus 1d# for each spell level higher than 1st…” In Eldritch Archer, you say “take 2d4 + 1d4 damage for each spell level higher than 1st…” It’s not much of a problem, as the text is still very understandable, but you may want to edit it for the sake of consistency.

    Also for Eldritch Armament, for Sorcerous Sentinel, you say “…feature IS ATTACK you can use your reaction…” when you mean “is attacked”.

    As a minor aesthetic decision… for the original Mystic Mark feature, you list Aegis and then Enspell. However, for each of the subclasses, you list Enspell and then Aegis. It makes sense to put Aegis first, I suppose, for alphabetical ordering, but it doesn’t particularly matter.

    I want to confirm that you intend for the language of Amethyst Mark to let you “choose” whether to deal force damage whereas Tourmaline Mark requires you deal the elemental damage. I think that this is fine, since the Tourmaline Mark has greater versatility anyway, in allowing multiple damage types.

    For Tourmaline Mark, the literal language seems slightly unclear as to whether, when you release the mark, the loss of immunity/resistance counts for that attack as well, though the intention seems to be that it would. Similarly, it doesn’t technically specify whether using your reaction to remove the Aegis gives the creature resistance to that instance of that damage as well, though I would be surprised if you didn’t intend that to be the case.

    For the 6th level feature description, Aegis and Enspell improvements are technically part of the Mystic Mark improvement, and so don’t need to be listed separately in the class feature table.
    It is also at 6th level that I start to think about the strength of the Mystic Mark feature. These are full half-casters, with decent martial skill (partially offset by MAD, but still), and once they can recharge their Mystic Mark on a short rest, they can pretty much guarantee the ability to have a near-permanent defensive buff on an ally, or (more likely in my opinion, given who is most drawn to playing a gish) a near-permanent offensive buff. A +2 weapon is enough to offset MAD, and the debuffs on hits are pretty nasty. I don’t know for sure, but I feel like the Magus should get less uses of this feature. The problem is that I can’t think of an effective way of doing it that doesn’t do one or more of (a) making Mystic Mark suck for levels 1-5, (b) incentivizing a style of play that diminishes the importance of the spellcasting ability, or (c) making the feature scale poorly at higher levels. It’s worth thinking more about, though.

    At 7th level, the Primordial Seal’s feature Elemental Alignment offers three excellent choices and also Water. I don’t think anyone would really take that option unless they were playing an ocean-based adventure. Why don’t you base the feature more off of the Freedom of Movement spell, since I like the flavor of the fluidity that comes with water powers? Something like “You can breathe air and water and you have a swim speed equal to your walking speed. Additionally, your movement cannot be reduced by magical effects or difficult terrain, and you have advantage on ability checks and saving throws made to avoid being grappled, restrained, or paralyzed.” I still don’t think it’s /quite/ as powerful, but I would more seriously consider taking this (though it is a bit wordy…).

    For Nature’s Mask, I almost wish that this feature could be less of just a spell effect replica and more of a utlity/exploration feature like the Druid’s Wild Shape, while still retaining some of that defensive combat potency. Technically, Polymorph changes your mental ability scores, and I think that isn’t the feel you’re going for. This isn’t a big deal, though, and I think it’s fun as is, I just bet it could be differentiated enough from Polymorph that it has a different flavor.

    At 11th level, you can write the Aegis and Enspell improvements as “Mystic Mark improvement.”

    At 14th level, for Arcane Recovery, you just used the Wizard’s feature. That’s fine, and I like the feel of it, but I think you might scale it differently seeing as this is a half caster. Perhaps make it a third of their Magus level rounded up? Similarly, you say “none of the slots can be 6th level or higher,” but the Magus doesn’t get 6th level spell slots anyway.

    Also at 14th level, Elemental Attunement seems underpowered compared to the other subclasses powers. As written, you’re giving them a single option of a 6th level spell, compared to either mass area healing for Sylvan Circle or powerful spell-slot recovery for Eldritch Society.

    Sylvan Circle’s 14th level power is also a bit much. That’s a /lot/ of healing for a half caster. Aura of Vitality for Paladin’s is the closest match I can find in terms of raw power for a half caster, but that has its own limitations. This is even a bonus action. How about a bonus actions for you and each creature within 30 feet to regain 1d8 + half your Magus level, plus another 1d8 for each spell slot level above 1st?

    [basically, it seems like I’m saying that the 14th level powers are a bit too strong in my opinion, except for the Elemental one.]

    For the Stormy Step spell, do you intend for this flight to provoke opportunity attacks? This seems like a reasonable addition to the intent of the spell, though I would probably make it at least 2nd level if that was the case to scale it with Misty Step.

    When I was first reading Warden’s Rebuke, I thought it would give you advantage on opportunity attacks against the target. I quite like what it is, and I don’t think you need to change it, but I think that that would also be a good cantrip effect, personally. Yours is better, I just think mine sounds fun.

    Overall, I think this looks great! I know it might not necessarily seem that way from my comments, but that’s how these things always go. Most of the comments above are recommendations for minor tweaks, and could be easily ignored. I also didn’t spend much time looking over their spell lists beyond a cursory examination, which is probably ba, but it didn’t look like you were putting any spells in which were instrumental to the class (like Hunter’s Mark for Rangers or Eldritch Blast for Warlocks). Generally speaking, you’ve given them a pretty strong spell list, which is fine, but should be taken into account for power balancing.

    I’m sure I could think of more, but this is all I have for now. It seems best balanced at lower levels, maybe could use a bit of tweaking at the highest levels. Then again, I have the same criticism of the PHB classes, so…

    Good job! I look forward to seeing the final product!

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