As a d20-based setting, Tarosir has many different types of supernatural forces. The four broad categories of supernatural power are magic, ki, psionics, and mythic power. Magic is further subdivided into several subcategories.
Mechanically, this post also gives an idea of what player classes exist in the world, though it’s not completely comprehensive - classes with zero supernatural ability (such as the rogue or fighter or most NPC classes) are not mentioned.
Most magic can be classified as either arcane or divine. There’s also ritual magic, which consists of long, complex, obscure rituals, but doesn’t require training to use. Anyone who uses magic is called a mage, regardless of what sort of magic they use and their manner of casting.
There are three manners of casting - prepared, spontaneous, and innate. Overall, spontaneous casting is probably the most common. Amongst divine casters, this is more skewed, with perhaps only 25% being prepared casters1. However, with arcane casters, wizards are common enough that spontaneous arcane casters are only a little more common.
- A prepared caster must meditate on the spells they wish to be able to cast for the rest of the day. By doing so, they ingrain the spell pattern into their memory, allowing them to cast it whenever they want by simply calling forth the spell, performing some motions, and speaking an incantation. (Of course, some spells only require one of the latter two.) However, the act of casting the spell erases it from their memory.
- A spontaneous caster uses a different method of ingraining the spell pattern into their memory, such that casting the spell does not erase it. This also makes it quite a bit harder to learn new spells, though, since a spell once ingrained through this method is difficult to replace with a new spell.
- An innate caster has no need to recall the spell pattern. The spells are imbued directly into their being as spell-like abilities. Naturally, this makes learning new spells even harder than for the spontaneous casters.
Generally speaking, arcane magic draws from an internal source of power. The exact nature of this source varies, though.
- Innate magical abilities (also called spell-like abilities) generally count as arcane magic, drawing from power in the genetic or magical makeup of the user’s race.
- Sorcerers are born with an unusually large amount of magic, and draw from that source. It takes force of will to command this power, which is why their spells depend on Charisma.
- Beguilers2 are the same as sorcerers by birth, but choose a different means of controlling that power, focusing on mental discipline.
- Wizards are not born with an excess of power, but through hard work and effort, they build up their power. Because of this, their power is tamer than that of sorcerers.
- Bards are not born with an excess of power. Through their song, they supplement their weak internal source with the ambient magic of the world; over time, some of that ambient power “sticks”, increasing the strength of their internal source.
- Warlocks3 get their power not from an internal source but from a pact with a powerful fey, elemental, or outsider.
- Spellthieves4 are not born with an excess of power, but they learn to command the power of others. As with bards, some of this power “sticks” over time, allowing them to cast spells from their own power.
- Assassins that cast spells use the same method as beguilers. Most assassins do not cast spells, however.
Generally speaking, divine magic comes from an external source of power. This is often a deity, but not always. Some divine magic users cast their spell spontaneously rather than preparing them - this is common for rangers and paladins and also sometimes occurs with druids and clerics. Users of divine magic require a divine focus for some spells.
- Clerics draw their power from a deity. Most clerics choose a deity to devote themselves too, and that deity grants them their power. Some clerics instead choose to be atheist, devoting themselves to a particular cause that may not align with the agenda of any specific deity. In this case, their power comes directly from Cosmeon, though this is not something that is generally known. Clerics aligned with a deity use a physical representation of that deity’s holy symbol as their divine focus. Atheist clerics often design their own personal divine focus, but many choose to use such common symbols as the ourobouros, a pentacle, or a representation of the planes5. Some with nature leanings (in the form of at least one nature-related domain) may even use a druidic divine focus (see below).
- Adepts draw their power in the same way as clerics, but without choosing a specific deity. They may draw their power from a deity who shows interest in them, but it’s more likely that their power comes from their conviction (and Cosmeon). They choose their divine focus in the same way as atheist clerics, but never use a druidic divine focus.
- Druids draw their power from nature spirits and the adjacent Faerie Plane. Some may venerate specific nature deities and draw power from them instead. A druid’s divine focus is a piece of the natural world. Some common choices include an acorn, a sprig of holly or mistletoe, the fang of some large predator6 (bear or sabercat especially common), or a geode.
- Paladins of any of the four orders (Honour, Freedom, Tyranny, Slaughter) venerate the patron deity of their order. If they choose to learn spells, that deity grants them their power. If they choose not to learn spells, that deity instead grants them some divine spell-like abilities. As a special sort of paladin, blackguards also use the same method. Paladins and blackguards that cast spells use the holy symbol of their order’s deity as a divine focus.
- Rangers are similar to druids, but if they choose not to learn spells, their spell-like abilities do not count as divine as is the case with paladins. If they do choose to use spells, they draw power from the same sources as druids and use a druidic divine focus.
- Spirit shamans7 draw power from various spirits, including but not limited to the nature spirits that give druids their powers. Spirit shamans may also draw upon elemental spirits, spirits of the dead, and any other sorts of spirits that wander the world. A spirit shaman’s divine focus is usually a wand with beads and feathers attached, but some instead use a druidic divine focus.
- Witches8 also draw on spirits, particularly spirits of the dead, though nature spirits are also used. Although witches are often associated with hags and in fact frequently work with them, their power is in no way linked to hags. For their divine focus, witches often use a bone with arcane symbols carved into it or a wand similar to that of a spirit shaman, though witch’s wands tend to display more variation.
Unlike arcane and divine magic, there do not exist mages who specialize in the practice of magical ritual. This is because the vast majority of magical rituals are far too long and complex to be of practical use on a day-to-day basis. Wizards often dabble a little in ritual magic, but other types of mages rarely touch it. To spells like Arcane Sight, ritual magic is usually detected as arcane, though some specific rituals may be detected as divine. A ritual spell is usually not detectible by spells such as Arcane Sight until it is at least 25% completed. This depends on the power level of the ritual itself, but in general, the detected strength goes up by one level for every 25% completion. The following table illustrates this. Notice that dim auras, usually only associated with spell traces, can also be detected from ongoing rituals.
|Ritual Effective Level||0-24%||25-49%||50-74%||75-99%||100%|
|3rd or lower||None||None||None||Dim||Faint|
The rules for ritual magic (as well as some sample rituals) can be found in Unearthed Arcana under the name “incantations”.
The power known as ki is similar enough to magic that an unskilled mage using Detect Magic could mistake it for magic, but in its principles it is actually quite different. While magic comes from a metaphysical source, ki is fuelled directly by the caster’s mind and body. As such, it’s also somewhat similar to psionics.
Ki users have a pool of ki from which they draw on to perform supernatural techniques. Unlike a mage or psion, ki users have a very limited set of techniques to draw on. In this sense, a ki user operates just like a psion. However, ki users typically have a very limited set of techniques which consume very small amounts of ki; thus, using one technique typically will not lock them out of using some other technique due to insufficient ki.
There are three main types of people who use ki. The best-known are of course the monks, who cloister themselves in monasteries and learn martial arts. Also somewhat known are ninjas4, who often work as spies or assassins. The third is the little-known dragon shaman9. The three classes described in Tome of Battle (crusader, swordsage, and warblade) would also be considered ki-users.
Any user of psionics is called a psion, regardless of how they use their power. Psions draw their power primarily from sheer strength of will. It’s something that people are born with, though sometimes it lays dormant for a long time before awakening. Someone not born with psionic potential can never use psionics.
- Seers, shapers, kineticists, egoists, nomads, and telepaths10 control their power through meditation and strict mental discipline.
- Erudites11 and psychic warriors are much the same as above.
- Soulknives largely shun their power’s potential, focusing instead on one very specific power - the manifestation and use of a mind blade. Like the above, they rely largely on meditation and strict mental discipline.
- Wilders don’t worry about mental discipline. They rely on the force of their personality to control their power. It doesn’t always work, which is why they’re called wilders.
- Divine minds11 control their power through prayers to their chosen deity. In addition to helping them with control, the deity grants them additional powers from their chosen mantles, in a manner similar to how a cleric is granted spells from their chosen domains.
- Ardents11 keep their power in check through mental conviction coupled with a tighter focus, by restricting their powers to those of their chosen mantles.
- Some psions completely shun their power’s potential (mechanically speaking, they lack levels in a psionic class but possess a pool of psionic power points). Such psions can still charge their power into deep crystal weapons, and if they’re an elan they can still use the elan’s innate psionic abilities.
- Innate psionic abilities (also called psi-like abilities) have no need for control mechanisms; use of these abilities is as natural as breathing or walking for the being that possesses them.
Mythic power is a mysterious power that’s similar to magic. It powers artifacts both major and minor, and is the source that deities draw on for their divine powers. However, mortals can also draw on this power. In fact, the current main pantheon were, in the distant past, mortal heroes (and villains) who learned to channel mythic power and eventually ascended to godhood.
All mythic power stems directly from Cosmeon, though she allows users of the power to pass it around as they wish, and it’s also possible to steal mythic power. A child of a deity is imbued with mythic power from birth, though they need to awaken it before they can learn to use it.
Mythic power is sufficiently different from magic and psionics that the Identify and Analyze Dweomer spells (and the psionic equivalents) do not function on items and spells that use mythic power. However, it’s similar enough that Detect Magic and Arcane Sight (as well as the psionic equivalents) work as normal. When mythic power is used for an enchantment, magic or psionics is required as a sort of anchor. For artifacts, that’s the only thing the magic or psionics does, but there are also mythic non-artifact items which use mythic powers to augment a non-mythic enchantment. Mythic items and minor artifacts can be created by mortals using mythic power. Major artifacts, however, require so much mythic power that a divine rank is all but required to create them. (Mind you, that doesn’t quite mean you have to be a deity - a being with a divine rank of 0 is not a deity.)
Non-divine and non-mythic characters can forge artifacts (but not non-artifact mythic items) if they have access to a type of item called “mythic seeds”, which are a form of crystallized mythic power that can be created by deities or high-tier mythic characters12. The number of mythic seeds required to forge a particular artifact can vary wildly; minor artifacts usually require no more than three (and three is unusual), while major artifacts often require ten or more.
The concept for mythic power comes from Pathfinder Mythic Adventures, but in the Tarosir setting, it’s also the source of the deity powers described in Deities and Demigods. A divine rank of 0 is attained as if it were an eleventh mythic tier, though it can also be gained without reaching the tenth mythic tier by petitioning an overdeity (usually Atuin, Danube, or Io, as Cosmeon rarely appears to mortals). Increasing one’s divine rank once it is attained is a completely different process, however.
Divine rank and character level are purely mechanical concepts unknown to the characters in-universe, but due to the unique way that mythic advancement works, the concept of mythic tiers is known in-universe. However, that doesn’t mean that a mythic character will always know their mythic tier. While mythic advancements are often flashy, hard-to-miss events, this is not always the case. In some cases, this may lead a character to believe that they skipped a particular tier.
Note that this is contrary to what you’d expect from the d20 rules as written. This is because many cleric, druids, and such choose to use spontaneous casting rather than prepared casting. There are rules for this (at least for clerics and druids) in Unearthed Arcana. ↩
Described in Player’s Handbook II. ↩
Although a warlock class is described in Complete Arcane, this class is largely unsuitable for representing the much more diverse concept of a warlock in Tarosir, where they may form pacts with outsiders other than fiends. ↩
This representation is based on a cross with equal-length arms. There are circles at the centre and at the tips of each arm, a circle that encloses the inner circle and bisects each arm of the cross, and a circle around the entire diagram. The central circle is bisected with a zigzag or wavy line, representing the dichotomy of the Material and Faerie Planes. In the left, right, top, and bottom circles, there are symbols representing air, earth, water, and fire respectively, representing the four Elemental Planes. In middle of the three concentric circles, there are black dots in the bottom two quadrants and small unfilled circles in the top two quadrants, representing the two Energy Planes. Arrayed around the diagram but within the outermost circle are five symbols representing the Outer Planes (excluding the Far Realm, which is represented by the outermost circle itself). These symbols are placed where the points of an upward-pointing five-pointed star inscribed upon the circle would be. From the top clockwise, they are: a crown (Heaven), a tree (Arborea), a butterfly (Errata), a skull (Hell), and a gear (Mechanicus). Simplified forms of the symbol also exist. ↩
In terms of game mechanics, the source of such a divine focus must be of type Animal, not Magical Beast. Other body parts that don’t require killing or inflicting undue harm upon the animal may also be used, for example the feather of a bird or a piece of snake skin. ↩
Described in Complete Divine. ↩
This class is based loosely on the Witch class described in Pathfinder Advanced Player’s Guide. ↩
This is based on the Dragon Shaman class described in Player’s Handbook II. ↩
All these names refer to the base Psion class; since the term “psion” in Tarosir refers to any user of psionics, people who follow the Psion class are always referred to by their specialty (unlike specialty wizards, who are only sometimes referred to by their specialty). ↩
A mythic archmage (this refers to the mythic path, not the prestige classe) with the Crafting Mastery path ability can create mythic seeds starting at 5th tier; without the Crafting Mastery, they can create them from 7th tier onwards. A mythic character in any other mythic path can only create mythic seeds at 10th tier. Creating a mythic seed consumes two uses of mythic power; characters with a divine rank of 6 or more can create them at will. ↩