[02/15/2004] [Luke Wyngarde]
I’d like to start this discussion by making an admission: when I first started playing Amtgard over 10 years ago, I was very dissatisfied with the selection of classes in the Handbook. Having had 15 years of Dungeons & Dragons under my belt by that time, I couldn’t comprehend how the paltry few classes allowed a new player could possibly encompass the full range of desired fantasy "professions" with which I had grown accustomed, especially in terms of magic-users. Where was the battlefield Cleric and the Necromancer, the Enchanter and Wild Mage, the Elementalist and Illusionist? No armor for Healers, what’s with that? And where was the Psionicist? Four whole classes, and only one (Wizard) worth a crap at low levels.
Anyway, I’m sure you get the idea. After a year or so, I kind of went berserk making new classes and passing them along to the populace. It was a contagious illness, too, because within the following year, literally dozens of these new and "improved" variants came down the pipe. Some died a quick, well-deserved death. Others thrived for a short time, and one or two still make the rounds today. It took a long time for me to see the error in adding more rules to our already cloudy handbook. What I was trying to accomplish was there all along. It was just a matter of applying a little creativity, a lot of imagination and occasionally, a friendly Reeve, Questmaster or teammate.
First, and most importantly, start thinking of the standard classes as archetypes, as opposed to specifics. Not every Barbarian looks like Conan, just as every Wizard doesn’t wear pointy hats and every Assassin doesn’t rely on poisoned throwing daggers. These are just generalizations given for the achetypical member of said profession. By picking and choosing from the elements which most appeal to you (and thus, leaving all the non-essential stuff behind), it is possible to recreate a wide variety of themes and motifs. What follows below is an attempt to reconcile the Amtgard: Handbook on the Rules of Play 6.0 to the rest of the fantasy genre. This discussion is strictly for the spellcasting classes; the "fighting classes" will be covered in a seperate article some time in the near future. Of course, this list is by no means complete, it is merely a sampling of the potential diversity of Amtgard spellcasting classes when viewed in a light other than simple win-or-lose spell lists.
Name of Concept (ex: Necromancer, Illusionist, etc.)
Class of Choice (The class which best personifies the concept. May be more than one)
Description: A brief narrative on the basic premise.
Garb: How to look like your chosen concept.
Role-Playing Notes: Other suggestions (where appllicable) for playing the class to it’s fullest.
Weaponry: If you have to spend points on weapons, choose these to stay in character. Shields are also covered here.
Description: The Barbarian Shaman is a cultural juxtaposition; a strange mixture of superstition, folklore and witchcraft amid the throng of godless and fearful heathens. The shaman is a healer, a spiritual advisor and a leader of the tribe. The shaman speaks with the voice of the ancestors, and even the most savage berserker will pause to hear one's words of wisdom before a great battle.
Garb: Barbarian garb, plus the obligatory light blue sash.
Essential Spells: Presence, Visit, Legend, Emotion Control : Berserk, Lore, Mimic : Barbarian, Voice : Heal and Mend Role-Playing Notes: Be one with the great ancestor spirits. Give words of wisdom to your barbarian brethren. Get rid of your Per Game magic early on, then join the fight like a good Barbarian. Cast Emotion Control : Berserkon yourself on one life and go nuts. Then, on your last life, Mimic : Barbarian. Because it's your last life, you get to be Berserk again!
Suggested Spells: Charm, Voice : Petrify and Commune
Weaponry: Go ahead and spend the points for two short melee weapons, preferably one of them "barbaric" in nature (ex: battle axe, war hammer). If you use the Emotion Control : Berserk, then Mimic : Barbarian combination, you're not going to get much use out of a shield anyway, and the florentine Red weapon style is pretty effective for a good fighter.
Description: The Earthbrothers (or Earthsisters) are a sect of Druids who specialize in magic found in trees and plants. Animals and intelligent creatures are secondary concerns for the Earthbrothers, as the preservation of woodlands and forests fills most of their plans. When confronted with creatures who purposefully destroy trees (like Orcs and other Goblinoids, and even human loggers), the Earthbrothers enter battle with a vengeful purpose.
Garb: Green and brown are the best choices, as does anything with a leaf or plant pattern. Sit on the grass and wear flowers in your hair.
Essential Spells: Entangle, Shillelagh, Warp Wood, Barkskin, Thornwall, Plant Door, Commune, Passplant, Petrify (petrified wood) Role-Playing Notes: Be kind to trees and brutal to those who cause wanton destruction to woodlands. Befriend other Druids, Scouts, Unicorns, Dryads and any of the various Fey creatures you might encounter. Pick up ground clutter as you play and make occasional public service announcements on forest fires and littering.
Suggested Spells: Heal, Cure Poison (curative herbs), Cure Disease, Magical Projectile (arrows are wood too), Mend, Confusion (poisonous herbs), Feeblemind (more toxic herbs)
Weaponry: Staff, club, spear, wooden shield, short bow. Basically any weapon made mostly of wood.
Druid or Wizard
Description: Communing with the spirits of Greater Elemental Planes (Earth, Air, Fire, Water) has granted these spellcasters their awesome abilities. Some Elementalists choose to follow only one of these paths, while others embrace the full range of elemental power. Whatever the case, Elementalists represent some of the most potent spellcasters around.
Garb: Depending on the element of choice, you might wear flame-like reds and yellows, airy whites and blues, earthy tones of black and brown, or murky blue and green. Also, any trinkets or baubles to signify your elemental allegience.
Essential Spells (Druid): Heat Weapon, Protection from Flame, Call Lightning, Flamewall, Stoneskin, Shatter, Flameblade, Flesh to Stone, Stone to Flesh, Fire Trap Role-Playing Notes: If your Reeve will allow it and you don't mind the loss of spellpoints, summon an Elemental of your chosen type to be your companion. Also, Elementalist of different types have very different personalities. Flame-worshippers are impatient and combative, while Terrans are generally thoughtful and practical. Water types tend to be very moody and thoughtful, changing temperment with a moments notice, while those who follow the air are as mercurial and flighty as their elemental path might imply. Another affectation: when handing out enchantments, after the incantation is complete, add a little disclaimer like "Go and be Protected by the Power of the Earth" or "May this Enchanted Blade strike with the might of Eternal Flame" so the receipent is aware of the source of your power.
Suggested Spells (Druid): Heal, Magical Projectile, Mend, Extension, Commune, Finger of Death
Essential Spells (Wizard): Heat Weapon, Iceball, Shove, Lightning Bolt, Protection from Flame, Fireball, Wind, Petrify, Pyrotechnics, Circle of Protection (planar rift), Flight
Suggested Spells (Wizard): Expertise, Advancement, Teleport, Enchant Weapon, Curse, Projectile Protection, Messenger (whispering wind)
Weaponry: You have enough spell choices to leave the weapons in Nirvana, but if you must go armed, don't spend more than two points on weaponry.
Any, but Wizard and Bard are best
Description: Enchanters are every teams favorite type of caster, because they come prepared to dole out magical improvements. Enchanters are more prone to seek companions in a battlegame, because their survival depends on getting enchantments to their team. Enchanters take few offensive spells, reserving most of their points for hand-outs, and the spells they do take reflect their passive nature. Most Enchanters prefer spells with subdue or otherwise render the target harmless.
Garb: Light colors trimmed in gold and yellow.
Essential Spells (Wizard): Bladesharp/Bludgeon, Enchant Shield, Protection from Flame, Projectile Protection, Protection, Touch of Death, Enchant Weapon, Protection from Magic, Reanimate, Teleport, Advancement, Expertise, Stack Role-Playing Notes: Among the least violent of spellcasters, Enchanters would rather bargain for their lives than enter melee against overwhelming odds. If you find yourself surrounded by the enemy team, trade an enchantment or two for safe passage. The other team might not trust you at first, but after a while they'll get tired of slaying you outright and take you up on the offer.
Suggested Spells (Wizard): Hold Person, Wounding, Yield and a bag of Lightning Bolts
Essential Spells (Bard): Emotion Control, Voice: Shillelagh, Magical Projectile, Stoneskin, Barkskin, Flameblade
Suggested Spells (Bard): Charm, Legend, Sleep, Yield
Weaponry: Enchanters usually don't bother with weapons other than the occasional melee dagger.
Description: Two parts fraud, one part con-man, one part sorcerer, the Illusionist makes his living through deception, intrigue and a few tidbits of magical knowledge gleaned from a life on the run. A good Illusionist never even has to cast a spell, his mere presence and mock spellcasting is enough to send all but the most stalwart enemies packing.
Garb: As appropriate for the class you are portraying. Plus you can always dress like another class and put your sash over the top of it all. Most people will be too busy looking at your chain mail shirt or horned helmet and barbaric fur vest (even though it doesn't count!) to notice the yellow baldric. Carrying a musical instrument is a great way to pass yourself off as a Bard, even if you're not. Likewise, wear a mask to pass as an Assassin or sling a bow across your chest (or even carry it, just no arrows) to pass as an Archer. You'd be surprised to see how many people back away from an unloaded bow being aimed their direction!
Essential Spells: Extension, Curse (Wizard), Finger of Death (Druid, Bard) or Stun (Healer), Neutrals that grant extra spellpoints (Imbue, etc) Role-Playing Notes: Never really cast a spell if you can bullshit your way out of a situation. Extension is your best friend. Just call it out, followed by your target's name, and one or two syllables of your only death spell. They'll run. If they don't, you'd better run or hope you can fight your way out. In fact, stop casting anytime your target backs away. You can stretch the incantation out a while, too, and they'll run even farther. Only take minor, low-level spells such as Hold Person, Wounding, Shove, Charm, Legend and the like. One point on your favorite spellball will also lend an air of Arch-Magery. Charge it and waggle it at the opposition, but only throw it as a last resort. Better to make them back away and do something to which your team can take advantage. Change gimmicks every life to really play it up: wear the mask one life, then use the fake archery equipment the next and so on.
Suggested Spells: Any single spellball, Heat/Curse Weapon
Weaponry: Spend at least six spellpoints on the weapons of your choice, more if you really want to push it. The Illusionist concept is a mage duelist, a cunning rogue with enough magical might to surprise an unsuspecting opponent.
Notes: If asked directly "What are you playing?", reply "What does it look like?" If they make an assumption and move on, so much the better. If pressed, though, you must always answer truthfully.
Bard or Wizard
Description: Harnessing the raw power of their minds, the psionic character achieves a startling assortment of magic-like effects.
Garb: Mentalists tend to dress well. Richly-appointed clothes, court garb or even Jedi robes would be appropriate.
Essential Spells (Bard): Charm, Presence, Legend, Truth, Sleep, Emotion Control, Lore, Yield, Voice: Confusion, Finger of Death, Feeblemind, Mimic : Barbarian (for the weapon and armor selection, plus immunities) Role-Playing Notes: Hold one hand to your temple while casting, to simulate the intense concentration needed to activate mental powers. Don't cast magic that can be Dispelled (like enchantments) - stick with instant effect verbals and spellballs. Bards should word their Charm and Legend like the old Jedi Mind Trick instead of actual poems (ex: "Hello, armored foes, numbering twenty or more, please let us pass you by, we're not the team you're looking for")
Suggested Spells (Bard): Extension, Honor Duel, Voice: Heat Weapon, Heal, Mend
Essential Spells (Wizard): Heat Weapon, Shove, Hold Person, Wounding, Fireball, Yield, Curse, Pyrotechnics, Teleport
Suggested Spells (Wizard): Forcewall, Messenger, Warskill, Advancement, Expertise, Lightning Bolt
Weaponry: One single long sword in a neon cover. Get a teammate to cast Harden, Flameblade or Enchant Weapon on it for full effect. Heck, you can even take Lend: Enchant Weapon and give it to another Wizard on your team to cast back for you!
Healer or Wizard
Description: The Necromancer figure is a dark and ominous one, suitably so for one who deals with corpses and is fascinated by Undeath. Necromancers are generally of evil temperment, if only due to their generally selfish natures and predisposition for hanging out with dead things.
Garb: Black robes, death symbols (skulls especially), silver trim, black cowled cloak.
Essential Spells (Wizard): Talk To Dead, Wounding, Mutual Destruction, Sever Spirit, Reanimate, Curse, Vivify, Lich Role-Playing Notes: Cackle madly. Talk to dead people on the field (they don’t have to talk back or even respond). Reanimate everyone you can, but tell them "you will be my Zombie slave!" before casting it (and remind them constantly by calling them "zombie slave" every chance you get!) Try and convince any Undead you meet to be nice to you, and live up to any promises you make them. If possible, convince a friend to play a Skeleton from the Dor Un Avathar 7.0 for the battlegame and hang out together.
Suggested Spells (Wizard): Sphere of Annihilation, Iceball, Circle of Protection, Touch of Death, Doomsday, Killing Grounds
Essential Spells (Healer): Heal, Resurrect, Talk To Dead, Banish, Sever Spirit, Wounding, Summon Dead
Suggested Spells (Healer): Cure Poison, Cure Disease, Heal Extend, Touch of Death, Circle of Protection
Weaponry: Don't bother, take more spells. You are a fearsome Necromancer, after all.
Description: Who do you hire to kill a Wizard? Why another Wizard, of course! In this case, the professional, cold-blooded Shadowdancer. The Dancers are masters of infiltration and reconaissance who use their fine-tuned skills to pick apart an opposing teams defenses to strike at the root of their power: spellcasters.
Garb: Black, and lots of it. Black hooded cloak, gloves and facial war paint.
Essential Spells: Shove, Circle of Protection, Messenger, Wounding, Hold Person, Ambidexterity, Dispel Magic, Curse, Teleport, Flight, Sphere of Annihilation, Warskill, Defend: Pro/Magic or Pro/Projectiles Role-Playing Notes: The darkness of your garb betrays the darkness in your soul. You are the Assassin-Wizard, the expert in getting into and out of dangerous situations and taking down half the opposition in the process. Your most vital spells are Teleport, Flight and Circle of Protection; the spells which allow you an immediate escape or insertion point, or afford the chance for unhindered observation. Get in, find out all you can about their plans, deal as much damage as possible, and Teleport back to your base before they know what hit 'em.
Suggested Spells: Expertise, Advancement, Sever Spirit, Iceball
Weaponry: Single long sword and dagger or florentine short swords. Warskill everything you can afford to save points for the all-important Teleports.
Bard, Druid or Wizard
Description: The Summoner is a rare breed of spellcaster who prefers the company of Monsters to that of humans. By a variety of means, both mystical and mundane, these sorcerers seek to befriend all manner of extra-dimensional creatures (like Elementals) and terrestial Monsters (like Stone Trolls and Hill Giants). Failing that, the Summoner will attempt to construct new companions f rom any available material (Golems). Summoners are constantly on the search for more magical knowledge dealing with their specialty and will go to great lengths to get it.
Garb: Any normal garb for the class you are playing, plus garb for your summoned and Transformed Monsters.
Essential Spells (Druid/Bard): Reincarnation Role-Playing Notes: First and foremost, you have to recruit someone to Transform or Reincarnate. A good Summoner will never be without at least one hench-critter. If the Reeve will allow it, summon an Elemental or Golem to be your servant, too. If not allowed to actually summon a Monster, then maybe it'd be better to play something else. These spellcasters will often try to barter or negotiate with Monsters in an attempt to make peace, rather than engage in wholesale slaughter of intelligent beings. Humans, on the other hand, get so such respect.
Suggested Spells (Druid/Bard): Commune
Essential Spells (Wizard): Transform
Suggested Spells (Wizard): Circle of Protection
Weaponry: If you are allowed to summon a Monster, you're going to be short on spellpoints as it is. Don't waste any more on weapons.
War Wizard/Battle Healer
Description: Though the classes are different, the premise is the same: casters of this variety seek to cause as much damage as possible to the other team, preferring to cast spells directly, as opposed to giving away enchantments.
Garb: Class garb as appropriate.
Essential Spells (Wizard): Lightning Bolt, Fireball, Curse, Sphere of Annihilation, Petrify, Mutual Destruction, Touch of Death, Enchant Weapon, Doomsday, Killing Grounds Role-Playing Notes: Spend points on weapons that will allow you to enter combat effectively. Healers should go sword and shield and get into the thick of battle, casting Stun with one hand and Heal with the other (as it were). Wizards should be right behind a well armored fighter or two, chucking lethal spellballs and short-range death magic from the safety of cover. A couple of points of Stoneskin or Protection cast by a teammate would greatly encrease the effectiveness of these types of casters.
Suggested Spells (Wizard): Wounding, Hold Person, Extension, Dispel Magic
Essential Spells (Healer): Entangle, Lost, Mute, Curse Weapon, Sleep, Stun, Wounding, Touch of Death
Suggested Spells (Healer): Extension, Enchancement, Dispel Magic
Weaponry: There are two different approaches one could take: a) buy more spellballs and short-range verbals, or b) florentine short swords (for Wizard) or short sword and shield (for Healer). If you go the florentine route, don't buy spellballs, because your hands are going to be full enough.
Description: Random effects and unbridled power are the hallmarks of the Wild Mage. Magic flows in the veins of a Wild Mage like lifeblood, permeating every facet of their often-short, but adventure-filled lives. Wild Mages come upon their power by chance, they are born with the blessing and curse of making magic happen wherever they tread.
Garb: Crazy mix-and-matched garb. Consistancy and good taste are not exactly the hallmarks of the Wild Mage.
Essential Spells: Magic Bolt, Iceball, Lightning Bolt, Fireball, Petrify, Sphere of Annihilation and a big bag to put 'em in! (see below) Suggested Spells: Any verbal spell that damages a target or target's equipment (ex: Curse, Pyrotechnics). Any spell with a fast incantation (ex: Shove)
Role-Playing Notes: Don't take spells with long incantations, you don't have time for that. Don't take enchantments, because that's not your job. Also, leave spells like Sleep and Yield to the Bards, you're a WILD MAGE for cryin' out loud, blow something up! Spend spellpoints on damaging effect spells and spellballs only. Random Effect Simulator I: Spend two points on every kind of spellball and have twice as many bolts as you've bought (except Sphere, 'natch, but take one of those anyway). Make a big bag for your spellballs, wear it so you can't see inside (slung behind your back or just to the side of your throwing hand) and fill it with all different types of bolts. Then, when you go to cast a spell, just reach in and make due with what you pull out of the bag. Sure, it probably won't always be what you'd like, but that's the chance you take with Wild Magic! Random Effect Simulator II: Take a deck of index cards and mark each one with the name of a verbal spell you've purchased, one for every spell (so if you bought Dispel Magic four times, make four cards). Start the game by pulling a card at random. That's the spell you have to cast first. Repeat with each successive spell. Stick the used cards in your pocket.
Weaponry: You're a Wild Mage. Like you'd listen to any recommendations...
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