Variant Rules >Variant Classes >

Specialist Wizard Variants




Specialist Wizard Variants

Because magic plays such an important role in the game, the wizard class offers great opportunities for change when designing a campaign or a character. The following variants present different versions of the standard specialist wizards. Each variant specialist class gives up one of the standard specialists class abilities in exchange for a new ability unique to the variant specialist. Each specialist class has three variants: one that replaces the specialist’s summon familiar ability, one that replaces the specialist’s bonus feats, and one that replaces the specialist’s bonus spell per day from the specialty school.

Because each variant requires the loss of an existing ability, you can use more than one of these variants at the same time. By choosing among the variant abilities presented for each specialist, you can easily customize the way that magic works in a campaign, in a geographic region of a campaign, for a school of magic, or even for a single spellcaster. Players can easily create unique and interesting characters using these variants.

For example, a campaign might be set up with some or all of the following variants for specialist wizards.

  • All abjurers in the campaign have the resistance to energy variant ability because the setting includes a large number of gates to the elemental planes.
  • Evokers from a specific city all have the overcome resistance ability, but they do not gain additional spells as specialist wizards. However, other evokers in the campaign gain abilities exactly as standard evokers and consider the evokers of that city a disruptive offshoot of the pure study of magic.
  • The students and masters at a college of necromancy from a distant region slowly undergo undead apotheosis instead of gaining bonus feats, but most necromancers in the campaign gain abilities exactly as standard necromancers. This difference has led some to feel that the foreign necromancers have a more thorough understanding of the powers of death. Traditional necromancers have a hard time attracting students, while the foreigners gain several new apprentices each year.
  • One conjurer of particular power in the city cannot obtain a familiar and instead casts summoning spells exceptionally quickly, as described in the rapid summoning variant ability. He claims he can teach others to wield magic as he does, but so far he has gathered few students.

In addition to a description of the variant class’s abilities, each entry below includes brief suggestions on sample campaigns, adventures, or characters that might benefit from the use of the variant specialists. These notes are suggestions only, since nearly any campaign can benefit from adding variety to spells and spellcasters.

Although these abilities allow the creation and customization of variant classes, a character cannot, for example, take a few levels of conjurer using the rapid summoning variant and then “multiclass” into regular conjurer levels. These variants all follow the normal rules for multiclassing by specialist wizards.

Abjurer Variants

Masters of protective magic, abjurers can fill many roles in a campaign, from bodyguard to battlemage to adventurer. Although it lacks offensive options, the school of abjuration provides some of the most effective combat spells in the game. An evoker or transmuter might find it easier to bring down large groups of foes, but an abjurer is far more likely to bring herself and her companions through a fight alive.

In a campaign with a high degree of intrigue or political machinations, the protective abilities of an abjurer can guard against foes both obvious and unexpected, and rival groups of abjurers, all with slightly different powers, might vie for prominence among each nation’s schemers and courtiers. In combat-heavy campaigns, realms might employ abjuration specialists to protect against the battle magic of their rivals, and in any campaign, adventurers might come to rely on the skills of an abjurer to protect against the dangers of dungeon and wilderness.

Resistance to Energy (Su)

Once per day, an abjurer using this variant can create a mystical shield that grants herself or any one creature that she touches limited protection against a chosen energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). The affected creature gains resistance equal to 5 plus one-half the abjurer’s class level against the chosen energy type. Activating this ability is a standard action. Once activated, the protection lasts for 1 hour. This protection overlaps with (and does not stack with) the effects of spells such as resist energy.

An abjurer using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

Aura of Protection (Ex)

Once per day, a 5th-level abjurer using this variant can generate a protective aura that shields against both physical and magical attacks. When the abjurer generates this field, she gains a deflection bonus to her Armor Class and a resistance bonus on all saving throws equal to her Intelligence modifier. This ability requires a standard action to activate, and each use protects against only one attack or spell. Once activated, the protective aura lasts for 1 minute or until the abjurer is attacked or required to make a saving throw, whichever comes first.

An abjurer using this variant can use this ability one additional time per day for every five class levels gained above 5th.

An abjurer using this variant does not gain bonus feats for advancing as a wizard.

Spontaneous Dispelling (Ex)

At 5th level, an abjurer using this variant gains the ability to spontaneously cast the spell dispel magic. This ability is similar to the cleric’s ability to spontaneously cast cure spells, with a few exceptions. The abjurer can “lose” four or more levels of prepared spells to cast dispel magic. The prepared spells can be of any level or combination of levels as long as the total spell levels add up to four or more (0-level spells don’t count). For example, an abjurer using this variant could lose two 2nd-level spells or one 1st-level spell and one 3rd-level spell to cast dispel magic.

At 11th level, an abjurer can “lose” seven or more levels of prepared spells to spontaneously cast greater dispel magic.

An abjurer using this variant can use it in conjunction with a readied action to use dispel magic or greater dispel magic as a counterspell.

An abjurer using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.

Conjurer Variants

One of the most versatile schools of magic, conjuration offers its disciples an effective solution to nearly any task: simply summon the appropriate monster and let it solve the problem. In combat, high-level conjurers fight from behind wave after wave of summoned foes, and in most battles they simply direct their summoned allies into the conflict. In addition to these vaunted summoning powers, conjuration provides effective combat spells and access to teleportation magic.

While virtually any campaign can benefit from rival groups of conjurers serving diverse agendas, conjurers are particularly effective in combat-heavy campaigns. Campaigns that feature a great deal of long-distance travel or travel between planes also benefit from including diverse groups of conjurers, because their specialty facilitates travel and encourages a thorough understanding of the creatures of the Outer Planes.

Rapid Summoning (Ex)

Any time a conjurer using this variant casts a summon monster spell, its casting time is 1 standard action rather than 1 full round. (Creatures so summoned can only take a standard action in the round they are summoned.) Conjurers using this variant gain the normal benefits from enhancing a summon monster spell with the Quicken Spell feat.

A conjurer using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

Enhanced Summoning (Ex)

At 1st level, a conjurer using this variant gains the Augmented Summoning feat for free instead of the Scribe Scroll feat.

At 5th level, the conjurer’s summoned creatures become particularly tough to dispel. Add 2 to the DC of any caster level check made to dispel the conjurer’s summoned creatures. At 15th level, this addition to the DC increases to 4.

At 10th level, the conjurer’s summoned creatures gain an additional +2 bonus to Strength and Constitution. At 20th level, these bonuses increase to +4. These bonuses stack with those granted by the Augmented Summoning feat.

A conjurer using this variant does not gain bonus feats for advancing as a wizard.

Spontaneous Summoning (Ex)

Conjurers using this variant can “lose” a prepared spell to cast any summon monster spell of a lower level. For example, a conjurer who has prepared greater invisibility (a 4th-level spell) may lose that spell to cast summon monster I, summon monster II, or summon monster III.

A conjurer using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.

Note: Since conjurers using this variant obviously summon monsters frequently, the game master should require the conjurer’s player to prepare simple record sheets ahead of time for each monster that the character commonly summons. It is also important to emphasize speedy play on the part of the conjurer and his summoned monsters.

Diviner Variants

Seekers of knowledge, hoarders of lore, and master spies, diviners are perhaps the most underrated specialist wizards. Because they must give up access to only one other school of magic, they are also the most versatile specialists. More than any other specialists, diviners excel at gathering information, and an adventuring party that includes a diviner is much more likely to prepare properly for an adventure.

Many campaigns benefit from featuring more than one type of divination specialist, and diviners can play important parts in any game revolving around information gathering. Campaigns that feature mysteries and detective-style adventures, themes of prophecy and oracles, or large amounts of social interaction and espionage all make excellent forums for a diviner’s powers. In campaigns that feature variant diviners with different class abilities, one simple way to add more variety is to make each distinct group of specialists experts in and proponents of a different form of divination. In game terms, this divergence is represented by altering the material components for some divination spells. For example, one group of diviners might favor osteomancy and require a collection of bones to use as components for their spells.

Enhanced Awareness (Ex)

A diviner using this variant adds Sense Motive to her list of class skills. In addition, she gains minor benefits when casting certain divination spells.

She needs only to study an item for 10 minutes (rather than 1 hour) when casting identify.

An arcane eye cast by the diviner travels at 20 feet per round when studying its surroundings (rather than 10 feet per round).

Add +1 to the saving throw DCs of the character’s divination spells. (This bonus stacks with the bonus from the Spell Focus and Greater Spell Focus feats.)

A diviner using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

Bonus Feat List

A diviner using this variant gradually grows in awareness and perceptive ability, but at the expense of her metamagic capabilities. The diviner may not select a metamagic feat as a wizard bonus feat (that is, those feats gained at 5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th level). However, the following feats are added to the list of bonus feats available to her at those levels: Alertness, Blind-Fight, Improved Initiative, Lightning Reflexes, and Skill Focus (Spot, Listen, or Sense Motive only).

Prescience (Ex)

Gifted with extraordinary insight and perceptive abilities, a diviner using this variant can add an insight bonus equal to her Intelligence modifier to any attack roll, saving throw, skill check, or level check she makes. The diviner can use this ability once per day, plus one additional time per day for every five class levels attained. Using this ability is a free action that can be taken out of turn if needed, but the character must choose to use this ability before the die roll is made.

A diviner using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.

Enchanter Variants

Charmer, schemer, deceiver, pacifist: an enchanter can be all these and more. As a practitioner of one of the most subtle schools of magic, an enchanter might charm a guard into opening a well-defended gate that fifty warriors couldn’t take by force. Good-aligned enchanters use their powers to seek out truth and encourage others onto the path of good, while their evil counterparts bend others’ minds at their whim and gather personal power as rapidly as possible.

Campaigns that feature a large amount of social scenarios, political intrigue, or investigation benefit greatly from the inclusion of variant enchanters. These spellcasters, skilled in the manipulation of others and capable of concealing their own identities, make excellent villains and manipulators, or even investigators skilled at using magic to draw the truth out of opponents.

Players and game masters alike should also consider the ramifications that enchantment spells and similar effects have on a game world. Is casting charm person legal? Is a character legally responsible for actions taken while charmed? Do most of the campaign’s inhabitants know that enchantment effects exist? Are there folk remedies that supposedly provide protection against enchantment effects? Do they actually work? Having ready answers to these and similar questions not only adds consistency to the game, but also clarifies and highlights the role of the enchanter.

Cohort

Upon reaching 6th level, an enchanter using this variant gains the service of a loyal cohort of the player’s choice (with the game master’s approval). The cohort is a 4th-level character when first gained; after that point, follow the normal rules described in the Leadership feat to determine the cohort’s level, but treat the enchanter’s level as being two lower than normal.

The enchanter doesn’t gain any followers from this ability. If the enchanter selects the Leadership feat, he attracts followers as normal, the penalty to the enchanter’s effective level is eliminated, and the enchanter automatically qualifies for the “special power” modifier to his Leadership score.

An enchanter using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

Social Proficiency (Ex)

Enchanters using this variant are as proficient at manipulating others through mundane means as they are at influencing their minds magically. Add the following skills to the character’s list of wizard class skills: Bluff, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Intimidate, and Sense Motive. The enchanter also gains a +2 competence bonus on checks involving one of these skills (player’s choice) every five levels (5th, 10th, 15th, and 20th). This bonus can only be applied once to each skill.

An enchanter using this variant does not gain bonus feats for advancing as a wizard.

Extended Enchantment (Su)

Enchanters using this variant ensnare the minds of others more easily with their magic, and as a result their enchantment spells last longer than those cast by other spellcasters. Once per day, plus one additional time per two class levels gained above 1st, an enchanter using this variant can cast a spell from the enchantment school as if it were enhanced by the Extend Spell metamagic feat. This enhancement does not affect the spell’s level.

This ability cannot be used to extend a spell with a duration of concentration, instantaneous, or permanent.

An enchanter using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.

Evoker Variants

Masters of the raw power of magical energy, evokers can turn the tide of a battle with a single powerful spell, leveling groups of foes faster than any other practitioner of magic. Where some wizards focus on careful spell preparation and protective spells to survive combat encounters, evokers simply blast away with powerful energy attacks. Their prodigious offensive abilities ensure that evokers become the center of an adventuring group’s battle plan.

Campaigns that include large numbers of wizards aligned to different nations are particularly suitable for variant evokers, since each nation develops unique cadres of evokers to serve in battle. Groups of militant evokers marching in unison with more conventional groups can change the tide of nearly any battle. In addition, campaigns that include themes of primal energy, raw nature, or extreme elemental conditions can all benefit from introducing evokers with variant abilities. Evokers in these sorts of campaigns might explore the raw essence of magic, struggling to harness its energies in new and unique ways.

Energy Affinity (Ex)

Evokers using this variant must choose an energy type (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic). This choice is made upon character creation and cannot be altered thereafter. Any time the character casts an evocation spell with the chosen energy type, she casts the spell as if her caster level were one higher (affecting range, duration, damage, caster level checks, and any other factor influenced by caster level).

An evoker using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

Energy Substitution (Ex)

An evoker of 5th level or higher using this variant can substitute energy of one type for another. When casting a spell that has an energy descriptor (acid, cold, electricity, fire, or sonic), the evoker can change the energy descriptor and the spell’s effects to energy of a different type.

Using this ability is a free action that must be declared before the spell is cast. The evoker can use this ability once per day for each five class levels he has attained (1/day at 5th, 2/day at 10th, and so on).

An evoker using this variant does not gain bonus feats for advancing as a wizard.

Overcome Resistance (Ex)

The energy spells of an evoker using this variant can ignore some or all of a target’s resistance to energy. Using this ability is a free action that must be announced before the evoker casts the spell to be affected. Every creature affected by the spell is treated as if its resistance to the spell’s energy type was 10 points lower, to a minimum of 0. (This lowered resistance applies only to this spell; other effects with the same energy descriptor must get through the creature’s normal resistance.)

The overcome resistance ability does not give the affected spell any ability to affect creatures with immunity to the spell’s energy type, nor does the affected spell have any additional effect on creatures that do not have resistance to energy.

An evoker may use this ability one time per day, plus one additional time per day for every two class levels attained beyond 1st (2/day at 3rd, 3/day at 5th, and so forth).

An evoker using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.

Illusionist Variants

Illusionists control their surroundings by shaping, distorting, and deceiving the perceptions of others. To some their abilities seem weak, because they only distort and disguise rather than effecting true change, but those affected by an illusionist’s spells know better, understanding that their own senses can be turned against them at any time.

Campaigns that deal in deception or that have a high level of social interaction, a fair number of mystery adventures, or even simply suspicious players can benefit from the introduction of variant illusionists. Campaigns featuring multiple types of variant illusionists might give each group or variant an even more distinctive flavor by making each the master of a particular subset of illusion spells. Illusionists from one nation might, for example, have the chains of disbelief variant ability and favor phantasms, while the illusionist thieves of the Guild of Shadows might have the shadow shaper variant ability and favor glamers and shadow magic.

Chains of Disbelief (Ex)

Even if a viewer disbelieves an illusion created by an illusionist using this variant and communicates the details of the illusion to other creatures, those other creatures do not receive the normal +4 bonus on their saying throws to disbelieve the illusion. Furthermore, even when presented with incontrovertible proof that the illusion isn’t real, creatures must still succeed on a Will saving throw to see objects or creatures that the illusion obscures, although they get a +10 bonus on the saving throw.

An illusionist using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

Shadow Shaper

An illusionist using this variant has a special bond with the Plane of Shadow, and gains several special abilities as he advances in level.

At 1st level, Hide is treated as a class skill for the illusionist.

At 5th level, the illusionist may add his Intelligence modifier (in addition to his Dexterity modifier) to his Hide skill checks.

At 10th level the illusionist’s illusions become infused with shadow stuff from the Plane of shadow, making them more realistic and more likely to fool the senses. The save DCs of the illusionist’s illusion spells increase by +1. This benefit stacks with similar bonuses, such as from Spell Focus.

At 15th level, the illusionist can hide in plain sight (as the ranger ability, except that the illusionist need not be in natural terrain).

At 20th level, the illusionist gains the ability to blend into shadows. In any condition of illumination that would normally grant the illusionist concealment, he instead gains total concealment (as if he were invisible).

An illusionist using this variant does not gain bonus feats for advancing as a wizard.

Illusion Mastery (Ex)

An illusionist using this variant automatically adds two illusion spells to his spellbook every time he gains a level that grants access to a new spell level. Furthermore, any time the illusionist learns a new illusion spell, he treats that spell as if be had mastered it with the Spell Mastery feat.

An illusionist using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.

Necromancer Variants

Wrapped in mystery and burdened by reputations of evil, necromancers control dangerous energies that rob the living of strength and grant unlife to the dead. The most powerful necromancers command dangerous undead minions and threaten towns, cities, and sometimes even entire kingdoms with their power. Although necromancers make excellent villains and nemeses for a group of adventurers, neutral- and good-aligned necromancers who view themselves as the shepherds of the living and guardians of the dead can also prove valuable allies.

Campaigns that include evil necromancers or groups of undead as antagonists can benefit from the inclusion of variant necromancers. Rival groups of necromancers might view certain types of undead as the only true or “pure” undead and all others as evils that must be destroyed, with each group disagreeing on which types are which. Other factions or groups might have an innate loathing for undead raised by any but themselves.

Skeletal Minion

A 1st-level necromancer using this variant can begin play with an undead minion (a human warrior skeleton). Obtaining this minion takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 gp.

This creature is a loyal servant that follows the necromancer’s commands and accompanies her on adventures if desired. If the skeletal minion is destroyed, the necromancer suffers no ill effects and may replace it by performing a ceremony identical to the one that allowed her to obtain her first servant.

At 1st level, the skeleton is completely typical, but it gains power as the necromancer gains levels. The skeleton has a number of Hit Dice equal to the necromancer’s class level. Add one-half the necromancer’s class level to the skeleton’s natural armor bonus. Add one-third of the necromancer’s class level to the skeleton’s Strength and Dexterity scores.

A necromancer using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

Undead Apotheosis (Ex)

As a necromancer using this variant progresses in levels, she gains some of the qualities that typify undead creatures.

At 5th level, the necromancer gains a +2 bonus on all saving throws made to resist sleep, stun, paralysis, poison, or disease. This bonus increases to +4 at 15th level.

At 10th level, the necromancer gains a +4 bonus on saving throws made to resist ability damage, ability drain, or energy drain.

At 20th level, the necromancer gains 25% resistance to critical hits, as the light fortification armor special ability.

A necromancer using this variant does not gain bonus feats for advancing as a wizard.

Enhanced Undead (Ex)

Any time a necromancer using this variant creates an undead creature (such as with animate dead, create undead, or create greater undead), all undead creatures created gain a +4 enhancement bonus to Strength and Dexterity, and two additional hit points per Hit Die. This ability does not affect the number or Hit Dice of animated creatures that the necromancer can create or control.

A necromancer using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.

Transmuter Variants

Masters of change, transmuters are among the most varied and versatile specialists. Transmutation spells, by their very nature, can change the environment and allow the spellcaster to solve nearly any problem.

This school’s utility and variety ensures that nearly any campaign’s magic becomes richer with the introduction of variant transmuters. Campaigns in which the magic system is undergoing change benefit from introducing variant transmuters. Likewise, campaigns that include an above-average number of magical cultures or a long history of magical sophistication benefit from alternative traditions of transmutation magic.

Enhance Attribute (Ex)

Once per day, plus one additional time per five class levels, a transmuter using this variant can add a +2 enhancement bonus to any one of his ability scores. This bonus lasts for a number of minutes equal to the transmuter’s class level. Using this ability is a swift action.

A transmuter using this variant permanently gives up the ability to obtain a familiar.

Spell Versatility (Ex)

A 5th-level transmuter using this variant can adapt magic of other schools to his own style of spellcasting. For every five class levels that the transmuter gains, he can select one spell of any spell level that he has access to and treat it as if it were a transmutation spell. This means, for example, that the specialist can learn the spell normally and even prepare it as a bonus spell from the transmutation school. This spell can even be from a school that he has chosen as a prohibited school. Once a spell is chosen to be affected by this ability, it cannot be changed.

For example, a transmutation specialist using this variant has selected abjuration and necromancy as his prohibited schools. At 5th level, he gains access to 3rd-level spells. He chooses dispel magic and forever after treats dispel magic as if were a transmutation spell.

A transmuter using this variant does not gain bonus feats for advancing as a wizard.

Transmutable Memory (Ex)

A transmuter using this variant can alter some of his prepared spells in a short amount of time. Once per day, the transmuter can give up a number of prepared spell levels (up to a maximum total equal to half his class level) and prepare different spells in their place, as long as the number of newly prepared spell levels is equal to or less than the number of spell levels given up (0-level spells don’t count). For example, a 12th-level transmuter who uses this variant can lose two 1st-level spells and two 2nd-level spells from memory (a total of six spell levels, half the character’s class level) and prepare two 3rd-level spells.

Using this ability requires a number of minutes of concentration equal to the number of spell levels given up. if the transmuter’s concentration is broken during this time, all spells to be lost are gone and no spells are gained in their place.

A transmuter using this variant does not gain additional spells per day for being a specialist wizard.