What are archetype packages?
Archetype packages are sets of class abilities characters may select in place of some of the normal abilities gained from a class. The concept was first introduced in the Genius Guide to Archer Archetypes, and the archetypes presented in this product are fully compatible with Archer Archetypes (though you certainly don’t need that book to use the new material in this product). While we went into a fair amount of detail on how and why we developed archetype packages in Archer Archetypes and don’t want to repeat ourselves too much, it’s important we cover the basics for people who are first encountering the concept here.
This book was written with the assumption that every class has at least one archetype package built into it which represents a standard set of powers that all members of the class receive (see below for details). It is designed with the premise that one can remove some of the standard abilities of a class and replace them with new options that, while different from what the core rulebook says, have no detrimental effect on the class’s mechanical balance or ability to fill it’s traditional role in an adventuring team.
An obvious example of an existing archetype package can be seen in the cleric, who gets to pick two domains. These are in addition to the cleric’s core abilities (and clerics have a broad range of options even without domains). Even if a player neglected to ever select those domains, the character would be able to perform the cleric’s core function and maintain the same role in a well-built team. However, over 20 levels these domains give the cleric access to nine spell slots, eighteen spells known, four special abilities, and in some cases up to two additional class skills or bonus feats.
In the context of this product, the cleric’s two domains represent a single archetype package—the Domain Servant. That package becomes just one option a cleric can take, with the new archetypes in this volume representing some alternative options. A player who wants to play a cleric that also has a smattering of arcane spells available to her (perhaps as a priest serving a deity of spells and magic) gives up the Domain Servant archetype package and gains one of the new arcane archetypes described in the following pages instead.
The most basic way to use archetype packages is to allow a character, when taking his first level of a new class, to simply swap the archetype package that is normally part of that class our in favor of one of the new packages from this volume. In other words, characters gain these new abilities by foregoing access to some of their class’s traditional abilities. This is limiting, but no more so than most of the other decisions one makes when creating a character. (A cleric, after all, cannot change domains after they’ve been selected, so why would one be allowed to pick a new archetype package a few levels later?)
Whenever new options are added to a campaign, though, it’s a good idea to consider ways to allow existing characters to gain access to them. In this case, that would mean finding a way to let characters swap out some of their long-time abilities in favor of a new archetype package. In our cleric example, a character who had already chosen two domains and used their abilities would give up those powers in favor of those from the new archetype.
This exchange is not entirely beyond logical explanation. If you consider archetypes as being similar to modern day occupations, it’s easy to justify a character learning new ones occasionally. As an optional rule, you may allow characters to change one archetype package whenever they gain an even-numbered class level. The GM may require a character to have a source of guidance in order to do this—a character with the desired archetype to act as teacher, a manual of instruction, or even divine inspiration. Upon taking a new archetype package, all abilities, feats, and skill ranks associated with the old archetype package are lost. (The skill ranks can be taken from whatever skills the player prefers when an old archetype is abandoned, and may add them in any configuration that falls within the standard rules for skill ranks when they are gained from a new package.)
While a character losing abilities and skills he once possessed may seem unrealistic, there’s no other mechanically balanced option to allow existing characters to gain archetypes. In the case of magic powers, it’s no great stretch to say that whatever energy once fueled them is now instead channeled into the new abilities. As for feats and skills, they can be explained as activities that require constant practice. They are not technically “lost” or “forgotten” when the character begins studying new areas of expertise, but the character falls out of practice and becomes unable to perform them sufficiently well, thus he may no longer use them in the game.
These answers may not cover every situation, but for most campaigns they should suffice to explain why a character’s abilities suddenly change. (If the campaign, GM, or players do not find these answers satisfactory, they should not use this optional rule. This will result in returning archetype packages to being options that may only be taken when a character first takes a level of a base class, which remains a balanced and viable way to handle these new alternative powers.)
The Minstrel archetype package gives a character access to some bardic skills and spells, but not the broad selection of special abilities that full bards enjoy. A minstrel has gained some magic tied to song, sound, and society but lacks the virtuoso status of a senior bard. The Minstrel is also forced to prepare his bardic spells in advance, lacking the inherent ability to call upon them at will.
In many cases, Minstrels simply don’t have the presence and skill to become bards. No matter how a youth may crave to use magic to entertain and confuse, he may not have the soul of a performer—or he may have a voice like a dying cat. Either way, lacking the perfect balance of personality and creativity, some people just cannot follow the bard’s road. The closest they can come is the imperfect talents of the Minstrel archetype.
Other characters with the archetype perfectly well could become bards, but don’t dedicate themselves to the effort. This is most common among those who began bardic studies but found it was simply easier to be a sorcerer, clerics of gods of song and dance who love to perform but can’t spare time from their religious duties to master such talents, and rogues who need only enough bardic magic to distract those they meet from suspecting their true callings.
If you add this archetype package to a class that already has one or more of these as class skills, you may select a different skill as a class skill in place of one already known. You gain an additional 2 skill ranks per class level.
Select three cantrips (0-level spell) from the bard spell list. You can only have one of these cantrips prepared at a time, though you can use it an unlimited number of times each day.
Beginning at 4th level, you can prepare and cast spells as a wizard does. You maintain your spells in a spellbook, which acts identically to a wizard’s spellbook. The spells you learn must be from the bard spell list. You use your Charisma score to determine your spells’ save DCs, the level of spell you can cast, and bonus spells per day. Your spells per day are determined using Table: Dabbler Spells Per Day.
At 4th level, and every level afterward, you automatically learn a single additional bard spell of your choice, though it must be of a level you can cast. This represents a discovery made in the course of your ongoing magical and musical studies.
Special: If you wear armor heavier than light armor, you suffer arcane spell failure. In light armor, the simple mystic gestures needed for the spells gained through this archetype package don’t force an arcane spell failure check. You may never cast spells learned through this archetype package with the Silent Spell feat. You do not learn spells in any other way.
|Class Level||Spells Per Day|
The Genius Guide To: Arcane Archetypes. Copyright 2010, Super Genius Games. Author: Owen K.C. Stephens