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Caster's Emollient

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mikeb's picture
Status: 
Draft

All members of arcane spellcasting classes need two components to be able to either prepare or ready their spells. The first component is a magic item that existed prior to the Collapse. This magic item focus can be as powerful as a Mirror of Life Trapping or as weak as an Everburning Torch. The second component is an alchemical mixture called caster's emollient. Once caster's emollient has been applied to the magic item, the caster can prepare or ready her spells.

The base component of caster's emollient is a palm-sized amount of salve made from berries, herbs, and oil. The cost of these components is 1 GP for a week's supply. The base emollient must then have life essence from a creature with a soul added to it. For most casters, this life essence is their own, a token amount of blood. While painful and uncomfortable, this life essence causes no other harmful effects. For other casters, they choose to tap into the life essence of others, sometimes in the form of blood but sometimes drawn from another being's very soul. A character with a spell component pouch is assumed to have the needed components to make their own caster's emollient, but abilities that remove material component requirements from spells do not remove the need for caster's emollient.

Besides enabling casters to be able to regain spells, caster's emollient can also be prepared and applied to a magical item focus to grant the caster access to metamagic feats without possessing the actual feats. These caster's emolient can be applied after spells are prepared or readied, but only one of these emolients can be applied per time that spells are prepared or readied.

Inferior Caster's Emollient

Aura moderate (no school); CL 1st
Slot none; Price -; Weight: -

Description
Once this emollient has been applied to a caster's focus, it grants one use of a metamagic feat that increases a spell's level by no more than 1. It will last until the next time the caster prepares or readies her spells. Only one metamagic feat can be applied per casting in this way.

Construction
Requirements -; Cost 10 gp

Minor Caster's Emollient

Aura moderate (no school); CL 3rd

Slot none; Price -; Weight: -

Description
Once this emollient has been applied to a caster's focus, it grants three uses of metamagic feats whose spell level increases total no more than 3. It will last until the next time the caster prepares or readies her spells. Only one metamagic feat can be applied per casting in this way.

Construction
Requirements -; Cost 50 gp

Major Caster's Emollient

Aura moderate (no school); CL 5th

Slot none; Price -; Weight: -

Description
Once this emollient has been applied to a caster's focus, it grants three uses of metamagic feats whose spell level increases total no more than 6. It will last until the next time the caster prepares or readies her spells. Only one metamagic feat can be applied per casting in this way.

Construction
Requirements -; Cost 150 gp

Superior Caster's Emollient

Aura moderate (no school); CL 7th

Slot none; Price -; Weight: -

Description
Once this emollient has been applied to a caster's focus, it grants three uses of metamagic feats whose spell level increases total no more than 10. It will last until the next time the caster prepares or readies her spells. Only one metamagic feat can be applied per casting in this way.

Construction
Requirements -; Cost 300 gp

Caster's Emollient of the Soul

Aura moderate (necromancy); CL 7th
Slot none; Price -; Weight: -

Description
Once this emollient has been applied to a caster's focus, it grants three uses of metamagic feats whose spell level increases total no more than 10. It will last until the next time the caster prepares or readies her spells. Only one metamagic feat can be applied per casting in this way. A helpless living creature with a soul is necessary to create this emollient. That creature suffers one level of permanent level drain.

Construction
Requirements vampiric touch; Cost 150 gp plus special

 

Relationships: 

Comments

mikeb's picture

Adjustments

Paizo released their own version of one-shot metamagic items. And they are a lot more expensive than these.

http://www.d20pfsrd.com/magic-items/wondrous-items/wondrous-items/e-g/ge...

My suggestions for tweaking our items are:

  • you pick the metamagic feat you want to apply at application
  • the emollient lasts 24 hours
  • make them a little more expensive

Those three things should put them in line with the metamagic gems.

Meta-magic specificity...

This may always have been intended, but I would recommend that the meta-magic feat or feats imbued into the emollient be determined by the actual recipe, so that the item descriptions above report the power level, but as actual in-game items are linked to specific meta-magic feats... so the actual description might be:

"Minor Caster's Emollient of Empowerment" or

"Superior Caster's Emollient of Quickening".

Otherwise, you are letting a gold expenditure replace the purchase of a significantly large number of feats while the duration of each emollient is in effect.

mikeb's picture

I think it's doable, but it

I think it's doable, but it would require a lot more items and costs. In other words, we couldn't have the Superior cost the same for all the metamagic feats since they vary in how much they increase the spell level.

Theoretically it's not just a gold expenditure, but obviously the creation can be hand-waved. The purpose is to capture the thematic elements of how magic is done in the Dark Golden Age while also giving some benefit for incorporating those elements into your character. The prices compare relatively with the Metamagic rods but with a little more flexibility.

More questions...

I'd say we're looking at a lot more flexibility.  I'm also not sure that the rods provide the best basis for setting the prices.  

Suppose we looked at the cost of scrolls or potions instead of the rods.  If I wanted an enlarged Grease scroll, wouldn't I be looking at creating a Level 2 scroll in place of a Level 1?

With none of the flexibility being offered by the emolient, I would be expected to pay a 125 gp difference (150gp-25) for the lowest effect offered by the emollients and without the added benefit of waiting until the moment of use to produce the effect and determine which spell to affect.

The rates get even worse for potions.  (Which are much more similar in nature.)

Now, I don't see any benefit to making the emollients quite so costly, but I do think that part of establishing the DGA setting requires making effects like metamagic more deliberate rather than providing freer use.

One issue I remain unclear on is: Where is the level adjustment for the meta-magic paid?  If it is paid by the caster by expending the higher level spell in place of the meta-magic ability, then many of my concerns about cost are alleviated.  If the meta-magic increase is covered by the emollient as is the case for the rods, then I suspect the power offered by emollient use will be difficult to balance.

One difficulty is measuring by spell level increase when the increase in spell values is measured at the top end.  Again using scroll rates, a maximized magic missle goes up in value by 675gp while a maximized fireball gained 1275gp.  Both experienced a 3 level shift.  The difference might actually be worst with the 1 level shift, because the increases aren't a simple linear or geometric progression.  The reamaining choices are to limit the Emollient according to the highest spell level they can affect as the metamagic rods have, or by pricing according to the maximum spell level of the spell that is actually cast.

Samples:

Inferior Caster's Emollient - (10gp) This emollient allows the caster the use of a single meta-magical feat.  The meta-magical affect is determined by the specific formulae used to craft the emollient and is usually shares the name of the title for purposes of trade.  All increased costs for casting this spell are assumed by the caster, and the effects of the emollient wear off after 3 uses or 1 day, whichever happens first.  [The uses and duration are provided as place holders.  No particular thought went into them.]

Caster's Emollient - (225gp) This emollient allows the caster the use of a single meta-magical feat.  This feat is determined by the specific formulae and process used to create the emollient. In addition to being able to make repeated use of the meta-magical feat associated with this mixture while paying the increased casting costs, once per application, the spell caster may use the arcane forces within the emolient to cast an available spell without losing it so long as the modified level after applying the meta-magical cost does not exceed 3rd level.  Each application lasts 4 days.  In the unfortunate cases where metamagic effects with level adjustments greater than 3 are used with this formula, the user may use the metamagical effect through their own spellcasting, but not the power boosting effect.  [For the cost, I took about half the value of a 3rd level Sorcerer's scroll.  The bonus spell is essentially half price, and use of the meta-magic feat is unpaid for.]

Major Caster's Emollient - (400gp)  This emollient allows the caster the use of a single meta-magical feat.  This feat is determined by the specific formulae and process used to create the emollient. In addition to being able to make repeated use of the meta-magical feat associated with this mixture while paying the increased casting costs, once per application, the spell caster may use the arcane forces within the emolient to cast an available spell without losing it so long as the modified level after applying the meta-magical cost does not exceed 4th level.  Each application lasts one week.   A spell caster may apply up to two layers of Major Caster's emollient at one time to add a second metamagical effect, or to hold an additional stored metamagical boost.  [For the cost, I took about half the value of a 4th level sorcerer's scroll and again, the feat is unpaid.  Originally, I was going to set this up to hold 2 paid uses, but while working on it, the idea of stacking the emollient doses occured to me and I liked it better.]

By measuring by the final spell level the emollient rules can be prepared soley on the basis of the final power conferred.  To accomodate the desire to have more powerful Emollients produce more powerful and vaired results, the idea of allowing more doses stack together with better quality emollients occured to me while I was typing.  The reason the Metamagical rods each need separate treatment is because they were measuring spell levels before the meta-magic adjustment rather than after.  If we measure by the final spell level, then spell effects hold equal value, and the different meta-magic feats are already equal as each is worth exactly one feat!

(Whew!  Sorry the post became so long.  I don't think the examples I've presented are actually game balanced or use the clearest language yet, but I think they come closer.  Where should it go next?  )

Taking this from another

Taking this from another angle, what about creatures that have arcane spell-like abilities? Are they required to use the emollient? Can they benefit from the metamagic bonuses?

mikeb's picture

Spell-like abilities get a

Spell-like abilities get a pass. They are not spells per se, and you could argue that the magic is a direct part of them. 

mikeb's picture

Rob's idea

Can do one metamagic feat and then become fatigued without having more advanced? Then become fatigued or potentially get Spellblight?

I'm personally inclined to

I'm personally inclined to give spell-like abilities a pass.  We can easily just say that the Collapse only affected learned magic, not innate.  The logic is also different, comparing what a Wizard does to, say, what Beholder does.

We could also add in Spell Blight by way of spell-like abilities if it doesn't complexify things too much.

But spell-like abilities will almost always be the purview of "monsters", and giving the GM one more thing to worry about when running monsters doesn't seem ideal.  For PC races that have spell-like abilities, we could just ask that players choose traits for them that replace them with something else maybe.

I think I would recalibrate

I think I would recalibrate these, since I'm not sure how they stack up compared to metamagic rods and such.

To me, inferior caster's emollient should just be the thing you need in order to cast spells.  This setting's version of material components, for all intents and purposes.

After that, perhaps each could use the rules for the one previous.  So, for example, minor gives 1metamagic use that raises spell level by 1, superior emollient grants three metamatic uses that grant no more than 6 total spell levels, and so on.

mikeb's picture

Metamagic Rods comparison

Let's look at the less metamagic rods because the greaters throw the price comparisons out the window.

Feat Level Adjustment Cost
Merciful 0 1500
Enlarge, Extend, Focused 1 3000
Empower 2 9000
Maximize 3 14,000
Quicken 4 35,000

You can use these 3 times per day on 3rd level and lower spells. So a +1 adjustment, the equivalent would be 3000 / 50 = 60 days worth of emollient. For +2, you would need major emollient with a cost of 9000 / 150 = 60 days worth of emollient. For +3, you would need Superior with 14,000 / 300 = 47 days. For +4, you would need two superiors with 35,000 / 600 = 58 days. The Superior might need to be a little more expensive to be consistent, but I think 60 days seems relatively reasonable. If the free caster's emollient gave that much benefit, it would go too far in my mind. It should be a nice incentive, but not THAT nice. ;)

Your numbers have over-awed

Your numbers have over-awed me.  My one remaining concern is that the emollient will be easier to exploit.  A PC can, for example, use inferior emollient on the journey to the dungeon, then superior emollient during the dungeon crawl, and inferior on the way home.  This would cost a LOT less than a comparative metamagic rod, if exploited in that way.  At least, as I'm reading the writeup.

This might also just need to be playtested.  Fortunately, it will be :)

Let me just say that I am a

Let me just say that I am a huge fan of the word "emollient".

So, with the 1gp cost/week,

So, with the 1gp cost/week, that's going to be something like 1 silver 5 copper a day. Doesn't that fall under the component pouch rules, making the cost effectively non-existant for the basic use of preparing spells?

 

Also, I like the uses for metamagic applications. At first glance, I was hesitant about the added benefit, but on closer inspection, I think it was well balanced.

mikeb's picture

I added a line that

I added a line that explicitly says that if you have a spell component pouch, you have the materials to make your own caster's emollient. However, feats that eliminate the need for spell components do NOT remove the need for emollient.

It was supposed to be

It was supposed to be approximately equivalent to having material components in other settings, yeah, at least at lower levels.

I'm glad our Hangout was well-spent!