Welcome back to the continuation of the Secrets of Magic special review blog! If you missed the beginning, you can find it here! Yesterday, I read about The Eight Arches of Incantation and Magical Backgrounds. Today, we begin looking at the Magus!
Now we get to the good stuff. Each class gets a small blurb that points to their starting page. Each Iconic gets a small blurb with some background about them. The introduce the styles present in the magus and summoner by describing the ways in which their powers are based off of the connections between their two parts (magic/combat and summoner/eidolon).
I am playing a magus currently and I am very excited to update my character from playtest to the released version. Simply reading the basic class information doesn’t raise any flags of things that have changed in the basic structure casting, heightening, cantrips, spellsbooks, and gaining spells per level. I *feel* like they explained the spell slots better than the playtest, but maybe I am just used to them now.
Your choice of Str or Dex. 8 HP. Perception (T), Fortitude (E), Reflex (T), Will (E). Arcana + 2 for skills. Trained in Simple, Martial, Unarmed Attacks, Light Armor, Medium Armor, Unarmored Defense, and of course arcane spell attacks and DCs.
While you gain access to new spell levels when other casting classes do (odd levels), you do not retain slots for spell levels lower than the highest two you have access to; so at 5th level you can only use 2nd and 3rd level slots, and then at 7th you only have 3rd and 4th level slots, etc.
This is an interesting change. It still works more or less the same as before, when you look at it as a whole over the course of multiple rounds. Spellstrike is now a 2 action activity that allows you to cast a spell (one that requires an attack roll and only takes 1 or 2 actions to cast) *and also* make your strike. [For reference, the playtest was a free action immediately before casting a 1 or 2 action spell and then you still had to spend an action on a Strike.] You cannot hold the charge if you miss or don’t attack, and these two actions of Spellstrike count as two attacks for MAP (which makes sense since the Strike and spell should both have the attack trait). I feel like they really called out the bulk of the interactions and edge cases that you would encounter at your table, such as Targets (single target by default), Reach (use weapon reach), Ancillary Effects (splash damage), Multiple Defenses (such as disintigrate’s Fort save), Invalid or Immune Targets, Variable Actions (you can choose a 1 action spell *or* a 2 action spell or a 1 or 2 action version of a spell that is variable; but not a free action, reaction, or 3 or more actions). It also points out that you cannot use metamagic as they require you to use Cast a Spell action, and Spellstrike is a different action that combines Cast a Spell with a Strike.
As if the new Spellstrike isn’t fun enough, you also get a stance that you can enter after casting spells or using spellstrike! While in this stance, you gain a bonus to damage (1, 2 with weapon specialization, 3 with greater weapon spec) of a type typically dealt by your last spell (or one based on school if not). One damage is not often going to make or break a combat, but over a couple rounds, perhaps with criticals, this could add up. My biggest “like” here is that it provides the magus with another option for that 3rd action that can sometimes feel wasted, and using such an action to get an energy type to capitalize on weaknesses is pretty big. This seems like a fun 1st round combo of spellstrike + cascade (if you are rushed) or perhaps a magic weapon + cascade (to prep for combat). My biggest dislike is that it calls out Melee Strikes in a way that has me worried the archer magus might have to argue for inclusion.
The same page that includes Arcane Cascade has a sidebar on “Combining Your Abilities” that discusses a number of options for you to consider when using Spellstrike, Arcane Cascade, and Conflux Spells. They even call out a buff + cascade as a great opener when you can’t or don’t want to spellstrike immediately.
A much better choice for the magus’ path than the playtest “synthesis”. Each Hybrid Study offers something tied to either Spellstrike or Arcane Cascade and also provides you with your initial Conflux Spell (Magus Focus Spells).
Inexorable Iron: For your two weapon titanic character – while in Arcane Cascade stance with a two handed weapon, you gain temp HP (½ level, min 1) each round and you gain thunderous strike ([A] make strike, targets within 15 ft cone of that strike save or take sonic; prone on crit fail). I haven’t played many meaty two weapon wielders, and certainly in 2e, so I can’t think of any options/combos, but that temp HP each round sounds like a nice perk.
Laughing Shadow: For your lightly armored fencer type – while in Arcane Cascade you gain a bonus to speed (5; 10 unarmored) and if you have a free hand you increase your Cascade damage while vs flat-footed foes (to 3, then 5, then 7) and you gain dimensional assault ([A] teleport up to half your speed and strike a foe within reach). Yeah, I can see building a roguish character around this concept … eldritch trickster + laughing shadow sounds amazing.
Sparkling Targe: For your shield focused magical warrior – you gain Shield Block, add your raised shield AC bonus to saves vs spells/magic, and use Shield Block vs spell/magic damage that isn’t physical (using increased Hardness by adding Cascade bonus), and … THIS APPLIES TO “actual shield, the shield spell, or something else that works like a shield”!!!!! Oh, yeah, you also get shielding strike ([A] strike and raise a shield or cast shield). So far, this one has really stood out as one I didn’t expect to like but now really want to try … but I sometimes try too hard to make shields work.
Starlit Span: For your (totally not an) arcane archer type – you can Spellstrike with ranged weapons or ranged unarmed Strike, provided it is within the first range increment (essentially ignoring range on spell and using weapon), and you gain shooting star ([A] ranged strike that ignores concealment and reduces cover- if it hits it leaves a meteor trail for anyone to use until your next turn that provides the same concealment negation and cover reduction to other attackers). I am playing a (newly renamed) Starlit Span magus currently and I am really enjoying the changes/upgrades to the class with the official release, I am loving the 0-60 ft range option for shortbows with produce flame and acid splash with some piercing thrown in; gonna have to invest in a longbow for outdoors adventuring though (that volley is a PITA at close range).
I am still concerned about the wording of Arcane Cascade and Starlit Span … the wording reads that you can’t use your ranged attacks while in Arcade Cascade stance and I am wondering if that is intended or not. We have ruled that the stance is compatible with the archery style so that I can actually make use of the ability instead of just forgetting it exists.
Twisting Tree: For your classic “staff wizard” cover – any staff you wield one handed gains agile and ups damage to d6 while in two hands it gains parry, reach, and trip, either way while in Arcane Cascade you can free action Interact to switch your grip before a Strike or at the end of your turn, and you gain spinning staff ([A] two strikes, different foes, normal MAP). While I wanna say this could be an interesting Gandalf option (he would almost have to be a wizard/magus dual class) I think this would be a fun choice for playing in Strength of Thousands.
Level Up Improvements
5th- Reflexes to Expert, Weapon Expertise
7th- Studious Spells, Weapon Specialization
9th- Alertness (Perception to Expert), Expert Spellcaster, Resolve (Will to Master)
11th- Medium Armor Expertise
13th- Weapon Mastery
15th- Greater Weapon Specialization, Juggernaut (Fortitude to Master)
17th- Master Spellcaster, Medium Armor Mastery
19th- Double Spellstrike
At 7th level, you gain spell slots of 2nd level (called studious spell slots) that can only be used for spider climb, true strike, water breathing, and a spell determined by your hybrid study. At 11th, these become 3rd level and you add haste plus another hybrid study spell. At 13th, these become 4th level and you add fly plus another hybrid study spell.
Starting at 19th level, when you use a spellstrike, you can spellstrike again with the same spell without expending a spell slot. Changing spells or waiting too long requires you to then use a spell slot for your next spellstrike.
Thanks for reading along … tune in tomorrow as I break down the Magus class feats. And, as always, please join us at our Discord server https://discord.gg/Rt79BAj to let me know what you think or simply have a chat!