Cyphermage

(based on the Geometer from Player’s Option: Skills & Powers)
Cyphermages are spellcasters who seek to decipher the many riddles of Varisia, most notably the great ring of Riddleport, the Cyphergate, and some of the land’s other obscure monuments.

Potent magical forces can be locked in designs, symbols, and diagrams of mystical significance. Cyphermages are wizards who study the summoning and control of magic through the creation of intricate geometrical patterns, ranging from runes drawn on paper or carved in stone to free-floating constructs composed of brilliant lines of energy. For a Cyphermage, the somatic component of a spell—the gestures required to unlock the spell’s energy—represent the creation of an extra-dimensional doorway through which magic is drawn and shaped into the form the wizard desires.

Cyphermages, quite naturally, excel in the casting of any spell that involves the use of a mark, rune, or diagram drawn upon the target of the spell. In fact, a number of spells that are not normally cast in this fashion have been adapted to the Cyphermages’ philosophy. For example, Cyphermages cast a hold portal spell by placing a minor rune of power upon the door to be barred, and animate dead by drawing complicated designs upon the face and hands of the creature to be reanimated. Cyphermages can also create effects with less substantial materials by sketching a design in the air, as if they were drawing imaginary circles and angles; depending on the power of the spell, this design may be visible as a glowing web of blue or green energy created by the motion of the Cyphermage’s hands.

Cyphermages enjoy the normal benefits and penalties of specialist wizards, but they have no modifier to their saving throws and do not inflict any penalties to their target’s saving throws. They do have the special ability to create scrolls, much like alchemists can prepare potions. At 4th level, the Cyphermage can commit a spell that he knows and can cast to a scroll. He may read the scroll at any time after transcribing the spell, just like casting a normal spell from a scroll. However, the character may not have more than one scroll per character level prepared at any given time—the incomplete magical diagrams become too confusing and complex for the Cyphermage to keep track of if he tries to keep too many scrolls ready for casting.

Transcribing a spell to a scroll requires one full day per spell level, so preparing a 5th-level spell for use in this fashion would take the wizard five days of uninterrupted work. The materials (rare inks, fine parchment, etc.) cost 100 gold pieces per spell level, and the wizard requires a suitable laboratory or library to work in. The Cyphermage can transcribe any spell from School of Cyphers that he knows, or he can engage in normal spell research to find a diagram to convey a spell that he knows outside the School of Cyphers. In any event, the Cyphermage must succeed in a learn spells check to see if he successfully transcribed the spell.

Cyphermages may also attempt to create protection scrolls, beginning at 7th level. The Cyphermage must first research the scroll’s diagram through normal spell research; scrolls with an XP value of 1,000 are considered to be equal to 4th-level spells; scrolls with an XP value of 1,500 are equal to 5th-level spells; scrolls with an XP value of 2,000 are equal to 6th-level spells; and scrolls with an XP value of 2,500 are equal to 7th-level spells. The research time is two weeks per effective level, and the cost is 1000 gp per effective level. The Cyphermage must pass a learn spells check to successfully research the formula. Once the Cyphermage knows the diagram, he can produce one scroll by investing in 300–1800 gp worth of materials and spending one uninterrupted week in his laboratory. Again, a learn spells roll applies to see if he followed the directions correctly.

A cyphermage has a reduced risk of spell failure when using a scroll inscribed with a spell of a level too high for him to cast (see Magical Spell Failure in the DMG). The risk is reduced by 10%. Also, when casting a spell from a scroll, a cyphermage casts the spell at an effective level that is one higher than the level of the scroll. For example, typically a scroll is written at a level that is one higher than what is required to learn the spell, thus a scroll with a 6th level magic user spell is written at the 13th level of ability (12th level to learn a 6th level spell plus one). However, a cyphermage would cast it as a 14th level magic user.

As noted above, the School of Cyphers consists of both diagrams that can be drawn on the target, as well as geometrical designs that can be created through gestures. Often, spells of this type of magic require unusual writing implements—the material components for the spell—but generally, no verbal components are necessary. The School of Cyphers is opposed by the Schools of Enchantment/Charm and Illusion.
The following spells are in the School of Cyphers:

Alarm (1st)
Copy (1st)
Erase (1st)
Hold portal (1st)
Shield (1st)
Wizard mark (1st)
Knock (2nd)
Wizard lock (2nd)
Bone club (3rd)
Explosive runes (3rd)
Secret page (3rd)
Sepia snake sigil (3rd)
Fire trap (4th)
Minor globe of invulnerability (4th)
Rainbow pattern (4th)
Thunder staff (4th)
Animate dead (5th)
Avoidance (5th)
Conjure elemental (5th)
Invulnerability to normal weapons (5th)
Khazid’s procurement (5th)
Mordenkainen’s private sanctum (5th)
Von Gasik’s refusal (5th)
Ensnarement (6th)
Globe of invulnerability (6th)
Guards and wards (6th)
Invulnerability to magical weapons (6th)
Fear ward (7th)
Phase door (7th)
Sequester (7th)
Vanish (7th)
Binding (8th)
Maze (8th)
Symbol (8th)
Trap the soul (8th)
Gate (9th)
Shape change (9th)

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