REVISED PATHFINDER MAGUS CLASS IN 5E DUNGEONS & DRAGONS
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.
My first effort at converting the Magus class can be found here, but after having a Magus PC played in my Tyranny of Dragons campaign, I now feel that those rules are unbalanced, particularly given the fact that my first draft of the Magus was, essentially, a Wizard with even more badass abilities.
The following is my revised version, which scales back the number of spells the Magus gains to make for a character that strikes a better balance between spellcaster and swordsman (or swordswoman).
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
|Level||Proficiency||Features||Arcane Pool||Magus Arcana||Cantrips Known||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th|
|1||+2||Magus Bond, Martial Tradition, Spellstrike,||–||–||2||–||–||–||–||–|
|2||+2||Arcane Pool, Spellcasting, Spell Combat||2||–||2||2||–||–||–||–|
|4||+2||Ability Score Improvement||4||1||3||3||–||–||–||–|
|5||+3||Martial Tradition Ability, Spell Recall||5||1||3||4||2||–||–||–|
|8||+3||Ability Score Improvement||8||2||3||4||3||–||–||–|
|11||+4||Martial Tradition Ability||11||3||4||4||3||3||–||–|
|12||+4||Ability Score Improvement||12||4||4||4||3||3||–||–|
|16||+5||Ability Score Improvement||16||5||4||4||3||3||2||–|
|19||+6||Ability Score Improvement||19||6||4||4||3||3||3||2|
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.
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.
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, Sword Magus, or Gun 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|
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 2nd level, you gain 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 + half your magus level, rounded down (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 one magus spell 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 2nd 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.
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. You can only create spell slots of a level equal to that you can cast.
|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. You can only cast spells with this ability of a level equal to that you can cast.
|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 3rd 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 4th level or lower from the wizard spell list at 14th level and two additional spells of 5th level or lower 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.
WAY OF THE GUN
Beginning when you choose this martial tradition at 1st level, you gain proficiency with firearms. 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.
You also gain a pistol or rifle and 20 bullets.
At 1st level, you gain the ability to attune to any firearm. You also gain the ability to use your Arcane Pool abilities with firearms. 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 that require a melee weapon attack with firearms. For instance, you can use the Magus Arcana Critical Strike with firearms.
Finally, you gain the ability to deliver any magus spell or cantrip that requires a ranged attack roll through your bonded weapon. To do so, you take the Attack action with a firearm and simultaneously cast any magus spell you have prepared or magus cantrip you know as a bonus action. If you hit, the firearm ranged 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. This ability can be used once per round and cannot be used in the same round as spellstrike or spell Combat. However, at 20th level, you can choose to use spell combat and this ability in the same round.
Starting at 5th level, you can spend 1 arcane pool point to avoid suffering disadvantage on an attack roll when you attack a target beyond normal range with your bonded weapon.
THE MAGIC BULLET
At 11th level, you perfect your mastery of firearms. By expending 1 arcane pool point, your bonded weapon regains 2 bullets, which each count as magic weapons.
Further, you can the ability to spend 1 arcane pool point and deliver any of your prepared spells or cantrips through your bonded weapon, including those which normally require a melee attack roll. If the spell has an area of effect, such as a cone or sphere, the spell effect originates at the target. For instance, if you use this ability to cast the burning hands spell, the spell affects a 15 foot cone that spreads out from, and includes, the target.
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 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 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.
Prerequisite: 12th level
Choose one 6th-level spell from the magus spell list as this arcanum.
You can cast your arcanum spell once without expending a spell slot. You must finish a long rest before you do so again.
If you are 14th level, you may select a 7th-level spell instead, if you are 16th level, you may select an 8th level spell, and if you are 18th level, you may select a 9th level spell.
You may select this Arcanum more than once, selecting a new arcanum spell each time.
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 as an Action 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 and spellstrike magus abilities.
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
Snilloc’s Snowball Swarm
Melf’s Minute Meteors
Evard’s Black Tentacles
Wall of Fire
Cone of Cold
Wall of Force
Wall of Stone
Flesh to Stone
Investiture of Flame
Investiture of Ice
Investiture of Stone
Investiture of Wind
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 half your 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
I feel that this version of the Magus should play much more like the warrior/mage I intended the Magus to be. Characters made with these rules will be deadly melee fighters who can also unleash a variety of lethal spells.
The scaled-back number of spell slots should prevent Magus characters from infringing on the thematic space of dedicated spell casters and, as an added benefit, I think that the more limited number of spell slots will give the Magus’ other abilities (particularly the use of Arcane Points) a chance to shine.
As with my first draft of the Magus, 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 UNLEASHES A RIPOSTE
I will leave my first draft of the Magus up, for those who may prefer that version of the 5th Edition D&D class, but I, personally, prefer this version of the class over that earlier attempt. I look forward to seeing this new version hitting the table in my home game soon.
Until next time, I remain;
THE DUNGEON MUSER