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 Post subject: New Prestige Class Idea
PostPosted: Sat Jul 15, 2006 6:02 pm 
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Deft-Handed Cutpurse

Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 6:48 pm
Posts: 261
Location: Wichita, KS
Came up with an idea for a new prestige class kinda based on the arcane archer class from the DMG. As almost all of the elven mechs have arcane spell activation items (wands), I thought a Mech pilot/caster prestige class made a lot of sense. So here it is:

MECH MAGE

Hit Dice: D4

Requirements
Race:Elf or Half-Elf.
Mech Attack Bonus:+5
Feats:Combine Spell, Mechwalker, Skill Focus (concentration)
Spells: Ability to cast 1st-lvl arcane spells.

Class Skills
The mech mage's class skills (and the key abilities for each skill) are Concentration, Craft(all), Hide, Knowledge(arcana), Knowledge(mechs), Knowledge(nature), Mech Pilot, Spellcraft, and Spot.

Code:
          Base      Mech                                    Spells
          Attack    Attack    Fort      Ref       Will      Per
Level     Bonus     Bonus     Save      Save      Save      Day       Special
1st       +0        +1        +0        +2        +2        -     Improved Combine Spell 2
2nd       +1        +2        +0        +3        +3        +1 level  Bonus Feat
3rd       +1        +3        +1        +3        +3        +1 level
4th       +2        +4        +1        +4        +4        -       Improved Combine Spell 3
5th       +2        +5        +1        +4        +4        +1 level  Channel Touch Spell
6th       +3        +6        +2        +5        +5        +1 level  Bonus Feat
7th       +3        +7        +2        +5        +5        -      Improved Combine Spell 4
8th       +4        +8        +2        +6        +6        +1 level
9th       +4        +9        +3        +6        +6        +1 level
10th      +5        +10       +3        +7        +7        -    Improved Combine Spell 5,
                                                                 Bonus Feat


Class Features
All the following are class features of the mech mage prestige class.
Weapon and armor proficiency:Mech mages gain no proficiency with any weapon or armor.
Spells per Day When a new mech mage level with +1 spell level is gained, the character gains new spells per day as if he had also gained a level in a spellcasting class he belonged to before adding the prestige class. He does not, however, gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained, except for an increased effective level of spellcasting. If a character had more than one spellcasting class before becoming an mech mage, he must decide to which class he adds the new level for purposes of determining spells per day.
Improved Combine Spell X When using the Combine Spell Feat the mech mage can expend X spells or spell slots in the casting time of a single casting of the spell. Example: a 4th level mech mage casts bull's strength on a gargantuan mech, expending 3 castings of the spell as a standard action.
Bonus Feat At 2nd level and ever 4 levels afterwards, the mech mage gains a bonus feat from the following list: Craft Wand, Landswalker(forest, hills), Mech Dancer, Natural Pilot, Practiced Spellcaster, Reckless Wand Wielder, Skill Focus (mech pilot), Stealthy Mech, Touch Spell Specialization, Wandstrike, and Weapon Focus (mech unarmed, touch spell).
Channel Touch Spell The mech mage can deliver touch spells with the mechs body. He may make a standard mech melee attack against the target's touch AC to deliver the spell, or combine a mech's unarmed attack with the spell against the targets normal AC.[/i]


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 Post subject: A short review of the class . . .
PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 3:06 am 
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Hard-Bitten Adventurer

Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2004 11:28 am
Posts: 121
Cool idea. The idea of blending machinery and technology is a winner concept, it just has to be written carefully. From the looks of it, you've done a good job of writing abilties that haven't been used before.

I have three big questions before we start the big review: one, why do you have Skill Focus (Concentration) as the feat requirement? It seems like Skill Focus (Use Magic Device) would fit the bill better. Two, the description seems to say that the mech mage would get bonuses to activating mech-mounted magic items, but I see no abilities that directly support that. Is that just one of the times where the class gets written after the description? They tend to evolve from the original idea. And three, how many skill points are they supposed to get per level?

First impression? It's weighted towards spellcasters, rather than mech jockeys (at least in abilities). But the class requirements are more jockey-ish. It's hard to write two-class requirements that suit both, but I recommend downgrading the MAB requirement and bumping the spell requirement to 2nd level arcane spells.

Skills-wise, it seems like they should get Craft (Mechcraft) as a class skill, but I see no reason for them to get Hide. Knowledge skills are good, and I'd like a little more reason behind their Spot class skill. Even something as simple as "sometimes, at close range, mech mages use wands or scrolls to target individual people inside enemy mechs" would explain it plenty.

I'm a little uncertain of the worthiness (from a powergamer perspective) of staying with the class after level 5, since after that you don't get any new abilties. 'Course, I'm one of the people who advocates for tenth-level pinnacle-of-the-specialty type classes. That's more of a personal preference criticism than a rules one.

The ability to channel touches through a mech could be a problem, if allowed to get out of hand (twelve mech mages + a large mech + twelve melee weapons). However, I'm glad to see you didn't add the ability to channel touch spells on a timer, or being able to apply to someone else's attacks. That would be stacking, which most DMs can tell you is very, very bad. I'm a little uncertain as well about why a mech unarmed attack has to hit the target's normal AC, rather than their touch AC, the standard for touch spells.

I'd recommend bumping the progression of Improved Combine Spell up a bit, maybe going 2-4-6-8-10. It seems like you're going for writing a class that can single-handedly enhance large mechs, but the way that spells increase the class can barely reach Colossal II. Or maybe that's the point, maybe you were intending to let multiple mech mages cooperate for extremely large combat mechs. That's where I can't see inside your head, so you'll have to help me there. No, the tinfoil hat doesn't help.

It would also be good to clarify this: If two mech mages, each with Improved Combine Spell 2 and two castings of endure elements (or similar), attempt to enhance a single mech, can they do it all at once (since they both have Imp. Combine Spell 2), or one spell per round (as if casting normally with Combine Spell)?

I'd recommend you either trim the bonus feat list farther down (and increase the gaps between them) or beef it up further with non-elf-specific feats (Mech Dancer, Mech Fu, etc.). Possibly add in a bit that says that training with Irontooth is easier, being that I've never seen as much direct conflict written in as with the Stenian Confederacy. If you add feats to the list past five or six, I suggest you add to the number of bonus feats you get and chop down the spell progression.

The last thing I might recommend is that it would be possible to trim this to a five-level prestige class, giving three spellcaster level bonuses (1st, 3rd, 5th), eliminating the bonus feats, giving the Imp. Combine Spell at each level except 5th (at 1-2-3-4 progression) and giving the final level the ability to cast touch spells through a mech.

I've written a few slightly similar abilties for different prestige classes I've done, but unfortunately posting them is the difficulty. Good job on this, though. If you want to send me any other work you're writing, I'd be happy to offer you thoughts on it.

(Why'd I write such a long review? Wow, I must be tired to explain myself so much.)

_________________
DragonMech DM soon, with any luck.

Owner of all DragonMech books, Etherscope core book, and DCC 12.5: Iron Crypt of the Heretics.


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 Post subject: Answers
PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2006 5:41 pm 
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Deft-Handed Cutpurse

Joined: Sun Apr 17, 2005 6:48 pm
Posts: 261
Location: Wichita, KS
To your first 3 big questions: #1 The Skill Focus(concentration) is in there as most casters in mechs will have to make concetration checks for the mech's movement to successfully cast theirs spells (DC10+spell lvl for vigorous motion, DC15+spell lvl for violent motion). #2 This class is oriented for elves from the elven mech kingdom. The vast majority of their mechs (lancer, rodwalker, etc) have spell trigger items (wands typically) that require an arcane caster to use but are 1 or 2 man mechs. They do get access to some feats that enhance their ability with wands in their bonus feats selection. #3 I knew I would forget to put in something. They get 4+int bonus skill pts per lvl.

The skills I set are oriented based on the background of the elven mech kingdoms and the descriptions of their tactics & mechs. Almost all of their mechs are animated, making mechcraft much less important for them, and hide was added as they are described as using hit & run tactics. As animated mechs don't produce big clouds of smoke or lots of noise they can successfully hide especially from other mechs, especially if they have some of the feats on the bonus list. Spot was added mostly just as a general purpose skill useful in and out of the mech.

I couldn't really think of a good pinnacle abilty for tenth lvl but if you have a suggestion? Also the last five lvls still give you a 2/3rds spell progression+higher lvl of imp combine, while giving you a maximum MAB. For those who want a more of a combination of the the 2 class types rather than just dipping into 1 or the other this is fairly nice.

I am think of limiting the channel ability to the pilot only, as that was basically my intent, I just didn't put it in. To be more clear on the delivery you can deliver just the touch spell, which hits on touch AC but ONLY delivers the spell effect, or you can combine it with and unarmed attack, hitting at the normal AC, but dealing unarmed damage in addition to the spell effect.

I limited the Combine Spell effect for the simple fact that as far as I know, there are no elven mechs (except the 1 city mech) larger than collossal 2 and for larger mechs they could still combine with other casters or cast in sequence over several rounds. If you reread the combine spell description is says:
Quote:
If spells are cast simultaneously (by multiple spellcasters) or in immediate succession (by one caster), One aspect of the spell's range, target, or duration doubles for each spell cast.

So yes, 2 mech mages could do it in a single round. Or a single caster expending 4 castings over 2 rounds.

Actually Mechdancer is on the feat list, but I didn't feel that a class designed to be outside the Irontooth Clans (who already get most of the pilot prestige classes) should have feats that require clan membership. I am thinking of adding more mech feats but I think I provided a fair variety. None fo the feats themselves are elf specific although some do come from other books (Steam Warriors, Complete Arcane).

I did think about doing this as a 5 lvl, basically it was a coin toss 1 or the other. I think 10 lvls let me flesh it out some more but as you said you can easily take only 5 lvls. The progression you describe was about what I would have done for a 5 lvl so go for it if you prefer.

No other prestige classes immediately in the pipeline but I do have some ne weapon ideas I may post.


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 Post subject: Re: Answers
PostPosted: Thu Jul 20, 2006 12:33 am 
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Hard-Bitten Adventurer

Joined: Fri Jul 30, 2004 11:28 am
Posts: 121
Raptor wrote:
To your first 3 big questions: #1 The Skill Focus(concentration) is in there as most casters in mechs will have to make concetration checks for the mech's movement to successfully cast theirs spells (DC10+spell lvl for vigorous motion, DC15+spell lvl for violent motion).


Ah, I see. I'd recommend changing that to a "# ranks" requirement for Concentration, rather than making it a feat slot. Skill-based feats are good requirements, but I'd try to use them mostly for specialist classes, while this feels more like a hybrid class.

Raptor wrote:
#2 This class is oriented for elves from the elven mech kingdom. The vast majority of their mechs (lancer, rodwalker, etc) have spell trigger items (wands typically) that require an arcane caster to use but are 1 or 2 man mechs. They do get access to some feats that enhance their ability with wands in their bonus feats selection.


Okay, I can see where you're going with that. I personally see more potential in giving bonuses to mech-mounted magic items as either a class feature or a requirement, since that seems to be a big part of the class itself. If you list it in the bonus feats, you run the risk of people avoiding that part of the class entirely, and simply focusing on the mech aspect.

Raptor wrote:
The skills I set are oriented based on the background of the elven mech kingdoms and the descriptions of their tactics & mechs. Almost all of their mechs are animated, making mechcraft much less important for them, and hide was added as they are described as using hit & run tactics. As animated mechs don't produce big clouds of smoke or lots of noise they can successfully hide especially from other mechs, especially if they have some of the feats on the bonus list.


If you're expecting mech mages to pilot mechs, that's fine. The problem I can see is that, as it was written previously, mech mages would most likely be secondary gunners or something, rather than the primary pilot. Thus, they couldn't use Hide to conceal the mech, since they weren't piloting. I agree that having mech mages not have Craft (Mechcraft) makes sense.

Raptor wrote:
Spot was added mostly just as a general purpose skill useful in and out of the mech.


With 4+Int skills per level, a mech mage with 16 Int could get max ranks in every class skill except for Spot and Craft. I'd suggest that you add Move Silently to the list, and either remove Spot or add Listen. If you're going to put in sensory skills, putting in both would seem to make more sense.

Raptor wrote:
I couldn't really think of a good pinnacle abilty for tenth lvl but if you have a suggestion?


Sure. They're supposed to be masters of hit-and-run and hiding, right? Give them the ability to use a number of spell levels equal to those that would effect the mech they're piloting, and instantly make a Hide check, as if they had made a Bluff check and succeeded in distracting their enemy. Of course, then you might have to add the abililty that gives the capacity to use skills while in a mech to the prerequisites, or build it into the class, but that's not too bad.

Raptor wrote:
Also the last five lvls still give you a 2/3rds spell progression+higher lvl of imp combine, while giving you a maximum MAB. For those who want a more of a combination of the the 2 class types rather than just dipping into 1 or the other this is fairly nice.


Yeah, looking back on that . . . It seems like you're arguing towards making a prestige class that combines both, takes the best of both classes, and doesn't throw in a lot of disadvantages. Now would be a great time to start a trend of throwing in 3/4 MAB progressions, making it better than alternating levels in mech jockey and wizard, but not as good as straight jockey. The spell progression could go to one every other level, and then you could increase the bonus feats (something I think needs a little beefing up as it stands). Or not. I like that idea, but then my likes and dislikes don't dictate the perfect class.

Raptor wrote:
I am think of limiting the channel ability to the pilot only, as that was basically my intent, I just didn't put it in. To be more clear on the delivery you can deliver just the touch spell, which hits on touch AC but ONLY delivers the spell effect, or you can combine it with and unarmed attack, hitting at the normal AC, but dealing unarmed damage in addition to the spell effect.


Thanks for clearing that up. Limiting to the mech mage having to be the primary pilot is a nice way to solve the problems with that, particularly because you can't have pilots rotating in and out during battle. I assume you're not allowing them to deliver with weapons for balance reasons?

Raptor wrote:
I limited the Combine Spell effect for the simple fact that as far as I know, there are no elven mechs (except the 1 city mech) larger than collossal 2 and for larger mechs they could still combine with other casters or cast in sequence over several rounds. If you reread the combine spell description is says:
Quote:
If spells are cast simultaneously (by multiple spellcasters) or in immediate succession (by one caster), One aspect of the spell's range, target, or duration doubles for each spell cast.

So yes, 2 mech mages could do it in a single round. Or a single caster expending 4 castings over 2 rounds.


Limiting the Imp. Combine Spell effect could work, but I'd suggest some explanation of why it doesn't increase faster in the description text. As for the question, my question was if multiple mech mages could cast multiple spells in one round (due to Imp. Combine Spell), and still combine them with other mages, or whether Imp. Combine Spell only works for a single mech mage at a time. If you allow multiple mech mages to cast multiple spells in a single round with each other, then suddenly the ability becomes extremely useful. After all, where you previously needed a whole group of wizards, now two mech mages can do the same thing in the same time.

Raptor wrote:
Actually Mechdancer is on the feat list, but I didn't feel that a class designed to be outside the Irontooth Clans (who already get most of the pilot prestige classes) should have feats that require clan membership. I am thinking of adding more mech feats but I think I provided a fair variety. None fo the feats themselves are elf specific although some do come from other books (Steam Warriors, Complete Arcane).


Right, sorry about missing Mech Dancer. I think more mech feats would be good, and you could get around the Irontooth Clan stuff by writing your own feats. You're right that pilot prestige classes outside the Irontooth is a bit under-represented sometimes.

Raptor wrote:
No other prestige classes immediately in the pipeline but I do have some ne weapon ideas I may post.


Great, post them too! I don't have a group, so I'm a bit bored right now. More DragonMech material is a good way to keep myself occupied.

_________________
DragonMech DM soon, with any luck.

Owner of all DragonMech books, Etherscope core book, and DCC 12.5: Iron Crypt of the Heretics.


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