A couple years back, I took some of the more interesting Final Fantasy X characters, and turned them into LotFP Classes. At the time, I’d intended to take a crack at Lulu, but she’s tough. She’s a bog-standard black mage, which is just the Final Fantasy equivalent of the Magic User. What is there to say?
Then recently, as I was writing about Fighter’s Armies, I started really digging in to the idea of class choice being more about complexity than about mechanics. I choose a fighter when I want to play something simple, I choose a magic user when I want to play something complicated. Naturally, this led me to thinking about switching those roles around. Create a complex fighter, and a simple magic user.
It’s hardly an original idea. D&D 3.5 made dozens of attempts to simplify the magic user with the Sorcerer, Warlock, Warmage, and so on. Fighters, of course, got the notorious Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic. So it doesn’t escape me that I’m on thin ice here. This is an oft-traveled road, and it has led to some truly questionable results in the past. To make matters even worse, I’m going to throw in a magical resource pool. A thing which every 12-year-old tries, and which has basically never worked. But what the hell? I do this shit for fun.
The Totem Mage
Totem Mages are faking it. They don’t have any magical powers of their own. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time to make friends with a disembodied intelligence that needed someone to carry it around. Usually this intelligence treats their host like shit though, so it’s not all good luck.
The real magician is the intelligence, which lives inside a totem. Totems can can take many forms: a teddy bear, a ceramic doll, even a sock puppet. The only real requirement is that whatever form it takes should have a mouth, so it can whisper things to its host.
If the totem is destroyed, the host will need to find a suitable replacement. Until it has a new totem to live in, the intelligence can’t cast any spells.
When the situation calls for it, totem and host can separate and move around on their own, allowing the player to functionally control 2 characters. However, the host cannot cast spells without the totem. And without the host, the totem has a movement rate of 20′(60′), an armor rating of 12, 1 hit point, and all of its saving throws require a 17 or better.
Totem mages share their hit dice and saves with the Magic User, and use the Fighter’s experience table.
Totem Mage Casting
All of the Totem Mage’s spells are evocations which deal 1d6 damage per caster level. Whenever they cast, the Totem Mage must choose what shape their spell will take, and what type of damage their spell will deal.
There are 5 possible spell shapes, most of which require the Totem Mage to spend some of their mana. For each level the Totem Mage has, they have 3 points of mana in their mana pool. The pool can only be replenished by a full night’s sleep.
Touch (0 Mana): Affects a single target after a successful melee touch attack. Since it costs 0 mana, this shape allows the Totem Mage to continue casting even after their mana pool is completely empty for the day.
Thrown (1 Mana): The caster forms a little ball in their hand, which they throw. Affects a single target after a successful ranged touch attack.
Line (2 Mana): The caster points a finger, and a line 60′ long and 5′ wide erupts from that starting point. Everyone along the line takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.
Cone (3 Mana): The caster splays their hands out, thumb touching thumb, and a cone of energy erupts from them. The cone is 60′ long, and spreads out to be 40′ wide at its terminus. Everyone within this area takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.
Sphere (4 Mana): The caster indicates a target individual or location within their line of sight. From that spot, a sphere of energy erupts out to a 30′ radius. Anything within this space takes damage, but may attempt a saving throw versus Breath for half.
Whatever shape the Totem Mage casts in, they need something to fill that space. It wouldn’t do much good to cast a cone of “gentle breeze” after all. The spell needs to pack some punch.
At every odd numbered level (1, 3, 5, 7, etc), the Totem Mage should roll to determine a new type of damage that they’ve managed to add to their repertoire. If they roll something they’ve already got, re-roll until you get something new.
At first, the Totem Mage must roll on the basic list. After level 6, however, they may choose whether they want to roll on the basic list, or the advanced list. Most of the advanced damage types allow the caster to sacrifice some number of damage dice from their roll. These sacrificed dice will lead to some additional effect on their targets.
Referee and player should both bear in mind that every damage type will have some things it is particularly effective against, and some things it may not be effective against at all.
Basic Damage Types
- Fire – A self-explanatory element. The referee should note any objects in the area which may catch fire. Using the Touch spell shape, this can also be used to light candles, burn ropes, cauterize wounds, etc.
- Cold – Heat drains away from the area, possibly forming little crystals of ice. Can also be used to freeze water, chill drinks, stave relieve heat stroke, etc.
- Acid – A liquid which melts organic material, such as flesh and wood. Has no effect on minerals, such as stone or metal.
- Metal Shards – Little spinning shards of metal fill the space, piercing and slicing everything they touch.
- Electricity – Lightning arcs between every available target. A caster using the Touch spell shape may be able to feed a machine a steady stream of electricity, turning them into a kind of walking battery.
- Sonic – Vibrations pierce the ears of anything that can hear, shatter glass or crystal, and may even shake a few screws loose from constructs.
Advanced Damage Types
- Poison Gas – The caster may sacrifice half of their damage dice to require anyone who failed their save to make a second save against Poison. On failure, the targets will fall asleep.
- Force – A relentless bludgeoning which strikes over and over again like a thousand fists. For each die of damage the caster sacrifices, targets who are hit must move back 10′. If a target makes their save versus Breath, then they only need to move back half the total distance.
- Pure Arcane Magic – Ignores all elemental or physical immunities, and does not allow for misses or saves. However, instead of dealing d6s of damage, the caster must roll d4s.
- Gravity – Targets are slammed prone against the ground with force. For each die of damage sacrificed, the earth gives way beneath the targets, pulling them down into a pit 5′ deep for each die sacrificed. (The pit is formed by the downward force of their body, so there is no falling damage). If a target makes their save versus Breath, then any pit they make is only half as deep.
- Vitality Drain – Eldritch tentacles reach into the targets’ bodies and rip out their essences. For each target which takes at least 1 hit point of damage, the caster gains 1 hit point, up to their usual maximum.
- Earth – A hail of stones and dirt rise up from the ground to pelt the targets. If the caster sacrifices half of their damage dice, they may bury their targets up to the waist. If they sacrifice all of their damage dice, they may bury their targets entirely beneath a heap of dirt and stone. If a target makes their save versus Breath, then if they would have been completely buried, they are only half buried. And if they would have been half buried, they are not buried at all.