Friday, April 19, 2013

Ulthor the Conjurer: Specialist Mage

I decided to see if I could roll up a Specialist Mage for my character stable using the T&T 7.5 edition rules. I've never used the various Specialist types, but the Specialist Mage type just seems like it would be fun to play. I used the Character Creator at Ardenstone Adventures to make the process faster; it still took a long time to not only meet the requirement of rolling triples on WIZ and getting a 15 or higher, but also to have a decent enough INT and DEX so that he could actually cast some spells. The exercise really drove home how rare Specialists are in the T&T world. I gave up counting the number of times I rolled attributes at around 60. In the course of my rolling I did come up with a Ranger, a potential Specialist Mage with an INT of 9 and a DEX of 4, and another potential Specialist Mage with an INT of 5 before I came up with Ulthor the Conjurer.
Name: Ulthor the Conjurer

Type: Specialist Mage - Conjuring
Gender: Male
Kindred: Human
Level: 2

STR 12
DEX 12
CON 10
SPD 13
LUK 13
INT 14
WIZ 28

Adds: +2

Talent: History 18 (INT+4), Arcane Symbology 19 (INT+5)

Gold: 6

Weight Carried/Possible: 352/1200

Spells: Call Flame, Call Water, Dem Bones Gonna Rise, Hold That Pose, Oh-Go-Away, Sparkle, Will-o-Wisp, Spirit Mastery

Weapons: 2 Banks (2D+3), Common Sling (2D)

Armor: Soft Leather (5 hits)

Equipment: Cotton trousers and shirt, leather belt, hooded cloak, ankle-high hard boots, sling stones, backpack, belt pouch, lantern, 4 flasks of oil, flint and steel, small mirror, parchment (10), quill pen, ink bottle, chalk (10), small sack, water skin, first aid kit

Description: Ulthor was trained as a scholar in the Great Library. He spent his days studying ancient texts learning the secrets of those civilizations that came and went though the countless generations. Then one day Ulthor began to feel a new power developing in his mind. It began by lighting candles, torches, and even fireplaces jut by thinking of fire. Then he did the same with water. The day Ulthor summoned a skeleton from the ground of an ancient battlefield was the day he began to change his direction of study. Ulthor began to find and read as many texts on magic as he could find. He gradually learned to decipher the strange symbols and languages in which these texts were written. Over time, Ulthor began to understand the power which had somehow began to develop in his mind. But soon the Master Scholars became annoyed with Ulthor's pursuits and he was released from the service of the Great Library. Ulthor was not troubled by this event. He was armed with the knowledge of the ancients, particularly the locations of their places of knowledge and wealth. With this knowledge and his developing abilities to control the world around him, Ulthor set out to seek his fortune along a more interesting, but dangerous, path.

Specialist Mage's are indeed interesting characters. I like the idea that the magic they know just unfolds in their mind. In this way perhaps the magic used by Specialist Mage's is different from that used by normal Wizards who have to be taught their spells by someone else or learn them from scrolls and books. The effect may be the same, but perhaps a Call Flame spell cast by a Specialist Mage does not quite operate the same way as a Wizard's spell.

Specialist Mages must choose a specialty or school of magic at the start. These include Combat, Conjuring, Cosmic, and Metabolic. There are, of course, various advantages and disadvantages of the different schools and their associated spell lists. This becomes a tougher choice if you intend to take your Specialist Mage on the road solo. Many spells are for support of other, either while engaged in combat or immediately after. A 1st level Combat Mage might be hard-pressed with just TTYF and Vorpal Blade (of course one could argue that TTYF is the perfect spell for a solo Mage), whereas a 1st level Conjurer (7 spells) or Cosmic Mage (10 spells) has a better mix of different types of spells. The 1st level Metabolic Mage had better be good with daggers since he only gets one spell, Suppress Kremm. Given that a Specialist Mage needs to TARO (triples add and roll over) to qualify for the type, the odds of starting at 2nd level are pretty good. This has the advantage of giving your starting Specialist Mage a good set of spells to work with even though you won't be getting the full complement of 20 1st level spells as Wizards do. If you decide to play an elf or fairy (WIZ x2), then you'll do even better on this front. The allocation of spells changes through the levels, with some schools getting more and some less; rarely does a particular school have none for a level (but it does happen).

Looking through the various spells, I could see advantages to all of the schools. I thought the Combat Mage was a little too obvious of a choice, however, and liked the spells of the Conjuring School. At 1st level for combat power you have Hold That Pose as well as Oh-Go-Away and Dem Bones (Who doesn't want to summon a skeleton to do their bidding?). Call Flame and Call Water are also good general purpose spells that can be used in combat in a pinch (but serve other purposes much better) as well as Will-O-Wisp just in case you find yourself in the dark. Sparkle? Could be useful. Since Ulthor started at 2nd level he also knew Spirit Mastery, allowing him to bend others to his will (up to MR 50!); this could provide Ulthor with a nice bodyguard. Managing such spells in a solo adventure might be tricky, but it could be done with a bit of creativity. I'm looking forward to Ulthor being someday able to cast 12th level spells such as Invisible Fiend and Summoning. But alas, he will likely be eaten long before then.


  1. That's a fun writeup - always neat to see the 'background' of some of these PC's. I had a similar reaction to Specialist Mages: when I first saw them they seemed a little strange but once I ended up playing with one they're a lot of fun without being godlike. Much luck to Ulthor!

    I hear you on how long it takes to roll one up. Mainly because my site doesn't let you 'cheat' and roll a TARO, so you have keep re-rolling until the asterisk appears by the stat your targeting (that means TARO). If it's below 15 you can manually move it up, but that depends on how you choose to manipulate things. Makes testing new features and translations a lengthy process... :)

    1. Thanks Chris. Ardenstone is a great site. I'm writing up a review of your character generator now.

  2. I had the same problem when trying to roll a mage specialist. It is perfectly possible that you roll a character who doesn't have enough DEX and/or INT to cast even a first-level spell! That character can still be used, but it will make his débuts harder!
    However, specialist mages have a major asset. Not only the spells they can cast will only take them half the normal WIZ cost, but they don't have to reach level 2 to be able to cast second-level spells, for example. Ken made it very clear when I asked him the question for Tunnels & Trolls 8 (see TrollsZine #5): "When a 2nd-level combat mage specialist attains sufficient INT and DEX to cast Blasting Power (a 4th-level spell) and he thinks about castin it, then the ability to do so will blossom within him. If he does it once, he has it forever more - that is, as long as his INT and DEX support it."

    1. Thanks for that Grrraall.

      Yes, Specialist Mages get to cast their spells at half the WIZ cost. That is an important advantage that helps to make up for their spell restrictions.

      Regarding the acquisition of spells, I had always viewed the statement from the 7.5 rulebook: "When her abilities reach the point where she could learn a spell..." to include level as well as INT and DEX. In other words, you can be smart and agile enough to cast a spell, but you don't have the experience and working knowledge of your craft to manipulate magic of that power. That's how I choose to play it anyway, though clearly not what Ken does, for now at least. :)