PATHFINDER MAGUS CLASS IN 5E DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
NOTE: An updated version of this class can be found here.
One of the two classes unique to the Pathfinder RPG that I feel I need to convert in order to run the Iron Gods adventure path in 5E is the Magus class. I have read some commentary online suggesting that the Fighter’s Eldritch Knight Martial Archetype (the “EK”) is a “close enough” conversion, but after looking at the Magus and the EK in detail, and looking at what a Magus NPC from Iron Gods would look like as an EK in 5E D&D, I think I would lose some of the unique feel of the Magus class (in particular the neat ability to deliver spells through weapon strikes) if I didn’t come up with a 5E version.
With that in mind, here is my draft version of the Magus in 5E D&D.
MAGUS CLASS FEATURES
As a magus, you gain the following class features.
Hit Dice: 1d8 per magus level.
Hit Points at 1st Level: 8 + your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d8 (or 5) + your Constitution modifier per magus level after 1st.
Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple weapons
Saving Throws: Constitution, Intelligence
Skills: Choose two skills from Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, Insight, Intimidation, and Perception
You start with the following equipment, in addition to the equipment granted by your background:
- (a) a martial weapon or (b) a quarterstaff
- (a) a scholar’s pack or (b) an explorer’s pack
- Leather armor
- A spellbook
|1||+2||Spellcasting, Spell Combat, Magus Bond, Martial Tradition||–||–||2||2||–||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|4||+2||Ability Score Improvement||4||1||3||4||3||–||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|5||+3||Martial Tradition Ability, Spell Recall||5||1||3||4||3||2||–||–||–||–||–||–|
|8||+3||Ability Score Improvement||8||2||3||4||3||3||2||–||–||–||–||–|
|11||+4||Martial Tradition Ability||11||3||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||–||–||–|
|12||+4||Ability Score Improvement||12||4||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||–||–||–|
|16||+5||Ability Score Improvement||16||5||4||4||3||3||3||2||1||1||1||–|
|19||+6||Ability Score Improvement||19||6||4||4||3||3||3||3||2||1||1||1|
As a student of arcane magic, you have a spellbook containing spells that show the first glimmerings of your true power. See chapter 10 of the Player’s Handbook for the general rules of spellcasting and below for the magus spell list.
At 1st level, you know two cantrips of your choice from the magus spell list. You learn additional magus cantrips of your choice at higher levels as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Magus table.
At 1st level, you have a spellbook containing three 1st-level magus spells of your choice.
PREPARING AND CASTING SPELLS
The Magus table shows how many spell slots you have to cast your spells of 1st level and higher. To cast one of these spells, you must expend a slot of the spell’s level or higher. You regain all expended spell slots when you finish a long rest.
You prepare the list of magus spells that are available for you to cast. To do so, choose a number of magus spells from your spellbook equal to your Intelligence modifier + your magus level (minimum of one spell). The spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots. See the description of a Wizard’s preparation and casting of spells on page 114 of the Player’s Handbook for an example of how to prepare your spells as a magus.
You can change your list of prepared spells when you finish a long rest. Preparing a new list of magus spells requires time spent studying your spellbook and memorizing the incantations and gestures you must make to cast the spell: at least 1 minute per spell level for each spell on your list.
Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for your magus spells, since you learn your spells through dedicated study and memorization. You use your Intelligence whenever a spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for a magus spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.
Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier
LEARNING SPELLS OF 1ST LEVEL AND HIGHER
Each time you gain a magus level, you can add two magus spells of your choice to your spellbook. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spells slots, as shown on the Magus table. On your adventures, you may find other spells that you can add to your spellbook, the same a wizard (see page 114 of the Player’s Handbook for more information on your spellbook).
At 1st level, you learn how to cast spells and wield your weapon at the same time. To use this ability, you must have one free hand and be wielding a light or one-handed melee weapon. Once per round, when you take the Attack action, you can cast any non-cantrip magus spell you have prepared as a bonus action, either before or after the Attack. If the spell is a ranged attack that would suffer Disadvantage on the attack, you can make a DC 10 Constitution check as part of the bonus action to make the ranged attack normally.
At 1st level, you learn a ritual that creates a magical bond between yourself and one weapon. You perform the ritual over the course of 1 hour, which can be done during a short rest. The weapon must be within your reach throughout the ritual, at the conclusion of which you touch the weapon and form the bond.
Once you have bonded a weapon to yourself, you may use the bonded weapon as a spellcasting focus for your magus spells.
At 1st level, you choose a tradition that shapes the way you combine spells and weapons in combat. Choose Staff Magus or Sword Magus, each detailed at the end of the class description. The tradition you choose grants you features at 1st level and again at 5th and 11th level.
You have 2 points in your arcane pool at 2nd level, and you gain more as you reach higher levels, as shown in the Magus table. You can never have more points in your arcane pool than shown on the table for your level. You regain all arcane pool points when you complete a long rest.
You can expend points from your arcane pool as a bonus action to grant any nonmagical weapon you are holding a bonus to hit and damage rolls and transform the weapon into a magic weapon for a duration of Concentration, up to 1 minute. The bonus to hit and damage depends on the amount of arcane pool points spent, as follows.
|Bonus to Hit and Damage||Arcane Pool Point Cost|
Whenever you cast a magus spell or cantrip that requires a melee attack roll, you can deliver the spell through your bonded weapon instead. To do so, you take the Attack action with a melee weapon and simultaneously cast any magus spell you have prepared or magus cantrip you know as a bonus action. If you hit, the melee weapon attack deals its normal damage as well as the effects of the spell. If you roll a critical hit, the spell’s damage (if any) is doubled. Spellstrike can be used once per round.
As your eldritch combat skills improve, you master mystic techniques known as arcana that provide new ways for you to combine the powers of the martial and the arcane.
At 3rd level, you gain one magus arcana of your choice. Your magus arcana options are detailed at the end of the class description. When you gain certain magus levels, you gain additional magus arcana of your choice, as shown in the Magus Arcana column of the Magus table.
Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the magus arcana that you know and replace it with another magus arcana that you could learn at that level.
At 5th level, you learn to transform the occult power of your arcane pool into fuel for your spellcasting. You can transform unexpended arcane pool points into one spell slot as a bonus action on your turn. The table below shows the costs of creating a spell slot of a given level. You can create spell slots no higher in level than 5th using spell recall and these spell slots only last until you complete a long rest.
|Spell Slot Level||Arcane Pool Point Cost|
Beginning at 6th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.
At 7th level, you learn the ability to infuse your bonded weapon with primal elemental power. You gain the ability to expend 5 points from your arcane pool as a bonus action to transform any nonmagical bonded weapon into a magic weapon. Choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder. For a duration of Concentration, up to 1 hour, the weapon has a +1 bonus to attack rolls and deals an extra 1d4 damage of the chosen type when it hits.
At 9th level, you gain the ability to improvise with your spellcasting. As an action, you can transform unexpended arcane pool points to cast one spell from the magus spell list as if you had prepared that spell, whether you have that spell prepared or not. The table below shows the costs of casting a spell of a given level. You can cast spells no higher in level than 5th using knowledge pool.
|Spell Level||Arcane Pool Point Cost|
By 10th level, you have expanded your magical knowledge with the secrets of other traditions. Choose two spells of 5th level or lower from the wizard spell list, and add them to your spellbook.
The chosen spells count as magus spells for you and can be used with any of your other magus abilities.
You learn two additional spells of 5th level or lower from the wizard spell list at 14th level and again at 18th level.
At 17th level, you learn to instinctively disrupt the spells of other casters. When a creature within 5ft of you casts a spell, you can use your reaction to make a melee weapon attack against that creature. If you hit the target and it is concentrating on a spell, that creature has disadvantage on the saving throw it makes to maintain its concentration.
At 20th level, you perfect your magus techniques, gaining the ability to use spell combat and/or spellstrike on both of your attacks, each round. You can choose to use spell combat or spellstrike twice, or use each ability once.
Beginning when you choose this martial tradition at 1st level, when you take the Attack action and attack with only a quarterstaff or magic staff, you can attack a second time, by using both ends of the staff. The weapon’s damage die for this second attack is d4 and the attack does bludgeoning damage.
At 1st level, you gain the ability to attune to any magic staff, regardless of any class restrictions that staff might otherwise have. You also gain the ability to use your Arcane Pool abilities with magic staves. When you do so, your Arcane Pool ability supersedes the weapon’s bonuses and abilities (if any) for the duration of the Arcane Pool ability.
Further, you can use your magus abilities while wielding a staff with two hands.
Starting at 5th level, you add +2 to AC when wielding a quarterstaff or magic staff. At 11th level, this bonus increases to +3 to AC.
At 11th level, you perfect your mastery of magic staves. Once per day, as an action you can expend points from your arcane pool to recharge a staff to which you are attuned on a one for one basis. For example, you could expend 5 points from your arcane pool to restore 5 charges to a Staff of Fire to which you are attuned.
Beginning when you choose this martial tradition at 1st level, you gain proficiency with martial weapons. You also gain the ability to use your Arcane Pool abilities with magic weapons. When you do so, your Arcane Pool ability supersedes the weapon’s bonuses and abilities (if any) for the duration of the Arcane Pool ability.
Starting at 5th level, you gain proficiency with medium armor. At 11th level, you gain proficiency with heavy armor.
If a magus arcana has prerequisites, you must meet them to learn it. You can learn the magus arcana at the same time that you meet its prerequisites.
You can expend 1 point from your arcane pool as part of an Attack to gain advantage on your next attack roll. This must be spent before you make your attack roll.
You can deliver ray spells (such as ray of frost, ray of enfeeblement, and scorching ray) as melee spell attacks (making them eligible for your spellstrike magus ability). If the ray spell targets more than one creature, you make only one melee spell attack to deliver one of the rays; additional rays may target other creatures normally, but those attacks are made at disadvantage.
You may reroll a Constitution check made to maintain Concentration on a spell that you just failed. You must keep the result of your second roll. Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until you complete a short rest or a long rest.
Prerequisite: 12th level
When you score a critical strike with a melee weapon attack, you may cast a spell or cantrip with a range of touch as part of that attack. You must have a spell slot equal to the level of the spell cast available when you use this ability, which is expended as if that spell was cast normally. Once you use this ability, you cannot use it again until you complete a long rest.
Prerequisite: 9th level
You can spend 3 points from your arcane pool as a bonus action to imbue a melee weapon with disruptive arcane energies. The next target you strike a target with that weapon, it is affected as if subjected to a dispel magic spell.
When you roll damage for a spell, you can expend 1 point from your arcane pool to reroll a number of damage dice up to your Intelligence modifier (minimum of one). You must use the new rolls.
You learn the find familiar spell and can cast it as a ritual.
Prerequisite: 6th level
As a bonus action, you can expend 3 points from your arcane pool to gain the effect of the haste spell until the end of your next turn.
You learn two maneuvers of your choice from among those available to the Battle Master archetype in the fighter class (at page 73 of the Player’s Handbook). If a maneuver you use requires your target to make a saving throw to resist the maneuver’s effects, the saving throws DC equals 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Strength or Dexterity modifiers (your choice).
To use one of your maneavers, you expend 1 point from your arcane pool to gain 1 superiority dice, which is be used to fuel that maneuver. This superiority dice is a d8. You may use superiority dice you gained from other classes to fuel these maneuvers, but you may not use the superiority dice generated from your arcane pool to fuel any other maneuvers.
You may expend 2 points from your arcane pool as a bonus action to charge one of your hands with mystic energy. Choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder. You may then make a melee spell attack with your charged hand to deal 2d10 damage of that type to the target you hit. If you miss on the attack, the charge persists until you hit, or for as long as your concentrate, to a maximum of one minute (whichever happens first). You may expend further arcane pool points to increase the damage done, as set out in the following table:
|Pool Strike Damage||Arcane Pool Point Cost|
You may use your spellstrike magus ability with this arcana. You may also use this ability with Two-Weapon Fighting (described at page 195 of the Player’s Handbook), if you otherwise qualify for Two-Weapon Fighting. For the purpose of Two-Weapon Fighting, your hand counts as a light melee weapon when using this ability.
When you cast a spell that has a casting time of 1 action, you can expend 2 points from your arcane pool to change the casting time to 1 bonus action for this casting.
Prerequisite: 15th level
As a reaction, you may expend 10 points from your arcane pool to interrupt a creature in the process of casting a spell of 7th level or lower within 60 feet of you, as if you cast the counterspell spell. If the interrupted spell would have targeted someone other than the caster, you can choose to have it reflected back on the interrupted caster, as if she was the intended target.
When you cast a spell, you can expend 1 point from your arcane pool to cast it without any somatic or verbal components.
As a reaction, you can expend 1 point from your arcane pool to impose disadvantage on an attack roll that targets you.
Whenever you use an enchanted wand to cast a spell, you calculate the DC for any saving throws against those spells as 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence bonus.
You can activate a wand or staff in place of casting a spell when using your spell combat magus ability.
CANTRIPS (0 LEVEL)
Ray of Frost
Ray of Sickness
Tenser’s Floating Disk
Cloud of Daggers
Gust of Wind
Melf’s Acid Arrow
Ray of Enfeeblement
Evard’s Black Tentacles
Wall of Fire
Cone of Cold
Wall of Force
Wall of Stone
Flesh to Stone
Otiluke’s Freezing Sphere
Wall of Ice
Delayed Blast Fireball
For characters who wish to multiclass as a magus, the minimum ability scores to multiclass as a magus are Intelligence 13 and either Strength 13 or Dexterity 13.
Further, when you multiclass into the magus class you gain proficiency in light armor and simple weapons.
Finally, when calculating the spell slots available to a multiclass character with levels in the magus class, you include all levels in magus, when calculating your Multiclass Spellcaster spell slots. See pages 163 and 164 of the Player’s Handbook for more information on multiclassing in 5E.
DUNGEON MUSER’S NOTES
At the outset, I should say that, for all my conversions to 5E, my guiding principle is to make the converted material consistent with 5E D&D design principles and rules, rather than trying to slavishly reproduce rules mechanics from another edition of the game.
I also want to avoid duplicating existing Feats as class abilities (which was tempting to do in this case, with the War Caster Feat), so as to keep those as viable, interesting options for players. That said, if a Feat ability duplicates an ability perfectly, I will not shy away from stealing those mechancis.
As such, when converting abilities like the Magus’ spell combat, I tried to design a class ability for 5E that captured the essence of the PF equivalent, rather than try to emulate the way that ability functioned, mechanically, in PF.
With that in mind, I felt that the conversion of the Magus class was a relatively straightforward process. While there are some significant rules differences between 5E and PF, in most cases these differences were easily reconciled and I feel that the result is a streamlined version of the Magus.
For instance, rather than dealing with a percentage-based arcane spell failure, the 5E Magus simply cannot cast spells while wearing an armor for which she doesn’t have proficiency.
Further, since the action economy in 5E is simpler than that in PF (5E gets rid of standard actions, immediate actions, swift actions, etc…in favor of an Action, a Bonus Action, and a Reaction, with you getting one of each on your turn, and 5E deals away with the concept of the full round action, where you lose your move to perform your action), this required some reworking of the balancing factors for some of the Magus’ signature abilities (in particular, for the spell combat ability).
Since 5E eliminates nearly all flat mechanical bonuses/penalties to rolls in favor of the advantage/disadvantage mechanic (with the notable exception being the rules for Cover in 5E), I didn’t feel it would be appropriate to use the -2 penalty that a Magus suffers when using spell combat. I also felt that imposing disadvantage on a Magus’ attacks when using spell combat was too much of a penalty (it works out to the equivalent of a -5 penalty).
Instead of imposing a penalty, I wrote spell combat to be similar to the Eldritch Knight’s War Magic ability, only the Magus’ ability is restricted to non-cantrip spells.
Given the limited number of spell slots available to a Magus, and the fact that the Magus needs to engage in melee dressed only in light armor to use this ability, I felt this was appropriately balanced, compared to the abilities of other classes.
For most of the other Magus abilities, I was able to model the 5E versions of the PF abilities by looking to the 5E Bard, Fighter, Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard classes or 5E spells or 5E Feats.
To replicate the subclass features of the 5E classes, I “backed out” some of the default abilities of the PF Magus to make the “Sword Magus” subclass, and used the Staff Magus Archetype from Pathfinder’s Ultimate Magic as a base for creating a “Staff Magus” subclass.
I have always been a fan of Pathfinder’s Archetype mechanic as a way to make interesting tweaks to classes, and will likely be using other Archetypes as the basis for designing further subclasses for 5E, in the future.
Oh, and for the Pool Strike ability, I got to use the spell creation rules found at page 285 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide.
Finally, I feel that this version of the 5E Magus has enough of a distinctive feel to its playstyle that it merits a separate class, rather than be relegated to a subclass under the Fighter or Wizard class.
Looking forward, I already have a player from my regular group who has offered to playtest these rules in our campaign and I look forward to seeing how this conversion plays out, when the rubber meets the road (or is that the spells meet the sword?).
With a few changes, this class could be used to replicate an arcane archer, similar to the Arcane Archer Prestige Class from the Pathfinder Core Rulebook, or a divine/primal magic archer, similar to the Seeker class from 4th Edition D&D.
For either of these options, you could change spell combat and spellstrike to function only with ranged weapons and permit the character to cast spells while using a two-handed ranged weapon. This extra feature would be balanced by the disadvantage that such characters would suffer when using their abilities in melee.
For a Seeker-type character who uses druidic-style magic combined with archery, you could easily use the Ranger spell list up to level 5 and then use spells from levels 6 to level 9 from the Druid spell list, to make up the balance.
THE MAGUS IS READY TO TAKE UP THE SWORD
Whew! That turned out to be more work than I initially expected, but I am pleased with the result.
With draft rules finally together for the Magus class, I am halfway towards completing the class conversions I want to finish before running the Iron Gods Adventure Path using the 5th Edition D&D rules!
Next up on my list, will be a conversion of the Pathfinder Alchemist to 5E!
Until next time, I remain;
THE DUNGEON MUSER