August 4, 2011 by Jeff
Ed. Note: What we have for you today is a new Essentials Wizard build following an “old school” school of magic, Conjuration. Jeff Dougan wrote designed this and we’re happy to include his design concept as well as a PDF where you can download what he’s come up with.
The summoner build of the wizard (now referred to as an Arcanist) really brought the flavor of some of the schools of magic from previous editions of D&D back to the game. When the Mage build re-introduced schools of magic to the mainstream of 4E D&D I thought that this is a natural place for expansion within the game.
As a player, I always leaned toward the Divination school of magic, but found that the divination spells had been converted into rituals. Therefore, it was going to be very difficult to make the Diviner as a new school (I think it can be done, though, and I’m working with a couple people whose identities I’ll keep secret for now on doing pretty much that). I think that all of the older schools of magic have been represented in the game now except for Conjuration & Summoning.
I originally sat down to write a single school of Conjuration & Summoning, but found it to become more mechanically complex than I wanted to handle for a couple reasons. First, the summoning spells are all daily powers, but conjuration powers are both encounter and daily attack powers. (There might be an odd conjuration-based utility as well, although it’s not germane to the discussion right now.) Second, there wasn’t a single “old-school,” recognizable wizard name I could pull who was known for both conjuration and summoning. However, there was somebody I could use for conjuration spells, and who was already represented in the game – the Archmage Bigby, of the assorted “hand” spells.
Even better, there were several Bigby spells that were (to me, anyway) iconic mage spells that weren’t represented in the game as of the time I started writing this. They became the paragon spells for this build, with my trying to incorporate a higher degree of “hard” control effects into them than the originals (which were primarily damage spells).
The apprentice-level benefit for heroic tier I knew where to turn to – the oft-unused half of the Orb of Imposition (I’ve never seen the Orb used for the “extend the duration” effect outside of Orbmaster’s Incendiary Detonation, but more commonly see it used for the saving throw penalty). The bonus to endurance checks for 5th-level came from the idea of the strain of channeling the energy for conjurations; the bonus to Arcana replaced the bonus to Diplomacy that was a remnant from including Summoning in the original description (I’m still not totally happy with Arcana as a choice, mostly due to powering up the Sage of Ages). The final benefit came from wanting to hit something vaguely resembling the Reliable keyword for an implement user, who is commonly perceived to hit the short end of the proverbial stick.
There are still some places where I think this could probably use tinkering, and I’ll revisit it after seeing any comments people leave. Feel free to also ping me on Twitter with feedback (@jffdougan) on either this or the Dark Pact Hexblade that Kobold Quarterly has run recently. If I make any changes, I’ll send them along to Jeff to replace the document attached to this post.
Jeff Dougan is a Ph.D. scientist-turned-teacher-turned-full-time dad who lives in Central IL. He’s been doing gaming of most sorts since the days of the D&D cartoon, and is the author of the Dark Pact Hexblade articles that recently appeared on the Kobold Quarterly website.