Playtest is well underway, and I have been seeing and hearing a lot of chatter about the non-core classes. Some people are complaining that they don’t want to play the new edition without their favorite non-core class. Some of that chatter is concern about not being able to build a favorite multi-classed and archetyped character using the changes and lack of duplicated options. And then there is the generic talk about the change in how a caster feels with the changes to spells and lists and feats and actions. I mentioned on Know Direction that my hill to die on (and one that likely won’t change no matter how much I want it to) is the reliance on Vancian casting. I thought I would ramble a little bit about my thoughts on non-core casters as well as a possible solution to Vancian in 2e that I am already considering house ruling after the playlets (depending on the final rules, of course).
First off, the non-core caster discussion. I already talked about how I think a Magus (and loosely Bloodrager) would work previously here. Now that we know more about archetypes, I would change my thoughts a little bit, but not too much. I think a Magus could work very simply as an archetype, and the dedication feat would be 2nd level and provide Spellstrike. After that, magus archetype feats would either duplicate feats the 2e fighter has (various weapon and armor training and specializations) or update the magus arcana to class powers for 2e. I see the magus as being a pretty straightforward archetype to build that can be taken by pretty much any class that can already cast spells. Being a magus with a base class of fighter would be more complicated in this scenario, as you would have to multi-class into wizard before you could take the magus archetype, but it would still be an option.
The next thing I want to talk about is the arcanist. Hands down my favorite class, it is the reason I no longer play wizards and will be looking forward to seeing how they get implemented. Taking a glance quick glance at the new wizard again, I think this could be a simple thing to implement as either a 1st level wizard archetype or perhaps simply another option to the core wizard (not likely to happen). To keep it simple and avoid a second table of spells per day, I would say that they can pick their spells known per day using the same chart as the existing wizard’s spells per day table. They would prepare which spells they have known each day, but then when actually casting them they can mix and match which spell they want to cast, using some more and others less, should they choose to. If this seems too good, then perhaps drop the Drain Arcane Focus reaction as a balancer? New class feats (be they wizard or archetype) would allow for swapping out spells that are prepared, ultimately quickening the process, as well as converting other arcane exploits to provide extra flavor in place of an arcane school if you want to have a feel closer to that of the 1e arcanist (which had exploits and no arcane schools). I think having the schools and exploits as options along with arcanist style prepared per day and cast per day in place of wizard prepared per day and drain arcane focus make for a more versatile wizarding experience that will satisfy a larger fanbase.
On to another arcane class, the witch. One of my favorite characters, and the one that I played to the highest level in Pathfinder, is a witch. Looking through the new rules, I think this would be an easy thing to implement. I think it will be a simple dance of combining the wizard and sorcerer, which means that we already have most of the mechanisms in place. Witch Patrons would be functionally similar to Sorcerer Bloodlines. Choose your patron and it determines your magical tradition, some skills, and some bonus spells, and it should be a simple thing to have multiple patrons for each of the four traditions. The familiar will still act as your spellbook, preparing spells like a wizard would be likely, and the hexes will probably function much like all the other class powers that run off of spell points. When you really get down to it, it could be an archetype of sorcerer that simply re-skins the bloodlines as patrons, switching to prepared casting if you truly need to keep that.
Now, on to the Vancian spell system as a whole. We now have Spell Points for abilities that aren’t unlimited and aren’t spells proper. We also have resonance. Why on earth can’t we just merge Spell Points with Resonance and let the players choose how they want to hoard or use their powers? Convert spells per day to 1 point per spell level and add that number to Resonance and let the player choose!? Do I use my points to cast spells, or power staves, or attune to gear? I am 99% sure that this is going to be the first house rule I turn on when the playtest is over. Since we aren’t likely to do away with the Vancian system, can I at least put out a request that we combine Spell Points (and any other kind of daily regenerating pool of power points) with Resonance and call it a day. One of the points is to make tracking things simpler, and yet we are still tracking multiple pools. Tracking multiple pools is exactly what tracking Vancian spells per day is too, but for some reason that seems acceptable.
Anyway, I have rambled on enough, for now. I hope you have enjoyed my thoughts on some of the non-core arcane casters that we are not likely to have support for upon release, and for months after.