Magic-User (Apath)

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Unofficial rules compendium

This is mostly a spoof on 1ed magic-users; don't take it too seriously. While it is possible that you will someday encounter an archaic spellcaster like this, it is absolutely not intended for player characters.

The magic-user is an old-school wizard. Only a few generations ago all wizards were magic-users, metamagic was unheard of, spellbooks were treasures beyond price, and magical knowledge was zealously guarded. Magic was rare but highly prized. The magical revolution of the last century has made magic more common, but also devalued it to one of many services. Some wizards disdain this trend and continue to practice magic as their forebears did, avoiding contact with the magical community.

Class Information

This is a wizard archetype.

Hit Dice: d6.

Class Features

This archetype has all normal class features, except as noted.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency

A magic-user is proficient in the dagger, dart, and quarterstaff, but not with any armor or shields.

Class Skills

Craft (Int), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (Any) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Profession (Wis), and Ride (Dex). Note that magic-users lack Spellcraft as a class skill, reflecting their lack of a coherent magical theory.


A magic-user gains a familiar, per the normal wizard's arcane bond. This replaces arcane bond.

Bonus feats

A magic-user gets no selective bonus feats and no Scribe Scroll feat at first level. Instead, they get the following abilities as they advance in levels.

  • Level 1: Familiar
  • Level 5: Improved Familiar
  • Level 7: Brew Potion, Scribe Scroll.
  • Level 11: Craft Staff, Craft Wand.
  • Level 13: Craft Magic Arms And Armor, Craft Rod, Craft Wondrous Item, Forge Ring.

This replaces scribe scroll and bonus feats.

Magic Understanding

A magic-user can use their Will save bonus on all saves against spells and spell-like abilities.

Old School

While magic-users are in many ways inferior to wizards, they shine in spellcasting. It is as if their highly individualistic learning allows them to transcend the limitations of more orderly wizardry.

  • When casting a spell whose effect is limited so that it cannot achieve an effect beyond that gained at a certain caster level, a magic-user can ignore this limitation.
  • Magic-users spells have no damage caps or other upper level limits.
  • The saving throw DC of a magic-user spell is always 10 + Int bonus + ½ Magic-user level, regardless of the level of the spell.
  • Magic-user spells cannot be counterspelled using the same spell, nor can they themselves counterspell. This is because magic-user spells are much more diverse than modern spells; two magic-user's version of fireball are only superficially the same spell. Dispel magic and similar spells can counterspell normally.

This replaces arcane school.


Magic-users have a number of additional restrictions.

  • May not use metamagic feats to modify magic-user spells.
  • May not learn item creation feats, except those they get automatically when advancing in level.
  • Only humans, elves, gnomes, and half-elves can become magic-users.


Magic-users do not use the same techniques to scribe their spells as modern wizards. While a modern spellbook is almost scientific in its exactness, a magic-user's is full of jargon, personal notes, riddles, misleading passages and other obstacles. The actual spell text might be only a small part of the chapter devoted to this spell, and the same spell might be haphazardly described, with parts of the description in different places. This makes a magic-users spellbook much less reliable than that of a modern wizard. Each spell takes up twice as many pages as normal, and this means that the magic-user needs more tomes to hold his spells. It is common practice among magic-users to have a separate spellbook for each level of spell.

A first level magic-user begins with 5 + Int bonus spells of level zero, and 2 + Int bonus spells of level 1. A magic-user learns only one free spell each level from his personal research, and no feat or ability can modify this number.

Magic-user spellbooks are different from the spellbooks of other wizards, and it is impossible for a magic-user to copy a normal spellbook, but they can copy that of another magic-user or an arcane scroll, using up the scroll as normal in the process. In the magic-user community, spells are dear in the extreme, and no magic-user willingly shares spell knowledge with another unless extremely well paid.

All magic-user spell research costs are only half normal. Scribing spells costs half as much per page, but as it demands twice as many pages, the final cost is still the same.

Preparing magic-user spells is a slow process and also requires extensive rest and meditation before it can begin. To prepare spells, the magic-user must rest a number of hours equal to twice the highest level of spell to be prepared. After this initial rest, each spell takes 15 minutes per spell level to prepare. Magic-users often resort to shorter rest periods to prepare just their lower-level spells.

Magic Item Components

At 7th level when they can begin to create magic items, magic-users create magical items in a non-replicable manner; each item is unique. The gold cost is only 1/10 of the item's sale price. However, each item requires unique ingredients, most commonly salvaged from monsters. Dragon eyes, nymph tears, and unicorn horns are examples of typical ingredients. Such ingredients must be harvested from a freshly-killed monster.

Components from a certain type of creature can only be used for enchantments of one particular school.

  • Aberration - Divination school
  • Dragon - any type of item
  • Fey - Enchantment, Illusion, or Universal schools
  • Humanoid with giant subtype - Evocation or Universal schools
  • Magical Beast - Transmutation or Universal schools
  • Monstrous humanoid - Illusion or Universal schools
  • Ooze - Abjuration school
  • Outsider - Conjuration or Universal schools
  • Undead - Necromancy or Universal schools

It is possible to collect ingredients from living creatures that are either cooperative, or whose lair the magic-user invades and loots for remains while the creature is not there, but this only yields half as much materials as a dead creature does. If that particular creature is slain within the month, it yields only half as much components as normal, making the total gain the same.

A Craft (Alchemy) roll (DC 10 + CR) salvages components worth (CR squared) x10 gp, and this is used to pay the remaining cost of the enchantment, thus needing 40% of the items normal price to be supplied in this manner.

Table: The Magic-User

Level Base Attack Bonus Fort Save Ref Save Will Save Special Spells per Day
0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Cantrips, familiar, old school, restrictions 3 1
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 4 2
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 4 2 1
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 4 3 2
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 Improved Familiar 4 3 2 1
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 4 3 3 2
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 Brew Potion, magic item components, Scribe Scroll 4 4 3 2 1
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 4 4 3 3 2
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 4 4 4 3 2 1
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 4 4 4 3 3 2
11th +5 +3 +3 +7 Craft Staff, Craft Wand 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
12th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
13th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 Craft Magic Arms And Armor, Craft Rod, Craft Wondrous Item, Forge Ring 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
14th +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
15th +7/+2 +5 +5 +9 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
16th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
17th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
18th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
19th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3
20th +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

Summary of Changed Class Abilities

These abilities of the original class are lost or modified in this archetype:

  • Weapon and Armor Proficiency
  • Class Skills
  • Arcane Bond
  • Arcane School
  • Bonus Feats
  • Spells
    • Spellbook
    • Save DCs, level Caps
    • Counterspelling

Variant: Illusionists

Most magic-users lack an arcane school. Not even the universalist school is available to magic-users. The only magic school allowed for magic-users is illusion; an illusionist has Conjuration, Evocation, Necromancy, and Transformation as prohibited schools, and cannot cast such spells at all. He casts illusion spells as if they were all one spell level lower. They do not receive school slots.

Example: Shadow conjuration is a 4th level wizard spell, but is only a 3rd level spell to a magic-user of the illusionist school.

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