Tuesday Toot!! | Catabolyist (Ketomancer | Crumble Wizard)

Tuesday TootG+ is closing. When it was alive things happened. Things unexpected. Great things. Whilst my creative output is only modest, I thought I’d hold something up into the living light, something that came about purely because G+ existed … This is a toot to G+.

Background: This class variant is not going to appeal to a power gamer. Instead it might appeal to calculating players that like the flexibility of the class, and  to risk taking player who might like to gabble with their PC’s skin (literally). This class was never finalized (and needs a re-write); but this is essentially where it was left at on G+ sometime in early 2018. Thanks to K Yani for useful discussion back then.

:: Catabolyist (Ketomancer or Crumble Wizard)

Catabolyist (Ketomancer or Crumble Wizard)These magic users pay for their power in sinew, cell and soul. They squeeze their body, pith and marrow like an alchemical battery.

With mastery, the Catabolyist can trim and tap the body and psyche of those parts that will renew themselves in time. Sometimes, the Catabolyist wagers too much, drink too deep or clumsily, they irreplaceably strip the body of their nonrenewable ‘sauce’, and they pay the price, to which lurches them ever grave-wards.

To watch a Catabolyist fail in their magic is ugly. Like the touch of a ghost, their hair enwhitens, sloughs off, eyes sink, yellow and cloud, teeth fall out in the half and quarter score, liver spots erupt and spread like brown puddles, capillaries suffuse their face in fans, hands curl into arthritic claws. In short, the Catabolyist lurches forward in time by years in broken seconds. Death’s embrace is all but a missed spell away.

The Catabolyist secrets are their own. Some think their magics taps into the primitive magic of Life itself. Others think they have made a pact with a Supernatural for power, pawning their souls one lot at a time; in the end, it’s said the pawn shop always tricks the profit.

No matter what, one thing holds true, a Catabolyist’s body is their temple. Not all are evil, but chaos is the constant.

Catabolyists are greatly attracted to anything that extends life or rejuvenates.

This character class would suit a player who likes a bit of a gamble. There is no reason for the Catabolyist to risk spell failure, except for the temptation of power alone! The Catabolyist has more flexibility in casting spells, but can cast fewer spells – safely.

:: Rules for AD&D ::

:: Magic User subclass – Catabolyist are treated and act as magic users, except in the ways detailed below.

:: Race – anyone willing to pay in bone, body, spit and blood can access this primitive magic power. As a rule, this excludes the fair races, like those carrying elven, halfling or gnomish blood. This is a field of magic that Dwarves value, imbuing their life and brawn into forged weapons.

:: Alignment – chaotic of any stripe.

:: Prime Attributes – while Intelligence is important, Constitution is a Catabolyist’s prime requisite. They require at least 14 CON and 9 INT to qualify for the class.

:: Hit dice – D6 (not D4); its practitioners are desirous to be hearty and hale. Time spent in exercise and calisthenics, with less time spent with a nose in a book!

:: Learning spells – Catabolyist learn spells like any other magic user. However, they do not carry spell books and do not need to memorize spells to cast them. Once learnt, the spells are knitted into their fibre and pulp. For the same reason, they do not need spell components (i.e. they are their spell components). For at least this reason other magic users loath them, thinking them heretic. The %chance of learning a spell and the minimum/maximum number of spells (coming from intelligence) still apply to Catabolyist magic users.

:: Spell limits – no matter the Catabolyist’s level, they can cast magic user spells of any level, and can cast these spells as many times as they like … EXCEPT

:: Spell failure – each time they cast a spell, there is a chance of failure (see Table 1), and if they fail there is the possibility they will unnaturally age (see Table 2); at some point this could be unto death. After spell failure, they must rest (e.g. 8 hrs sleep) for their body to recharge and to be fit to cast spells again.

%Spell failure – {ed. see the table. If you like maths read on} … is equal to the square of the spell levels that they have cast that day (i.e. since resting) MINUS the square of the PC’s level. But this value is never greater than 95%. Spell failure testing is done after completion of the casting of the spell. Below is a Table doing the maths, and rounded to fit a D20 target number. From the Table, it is apparent that the Catabolyist has a safe zone where there is no risk of spell failure, a wise Catabolyist stays within its bounds. This number is equal to the PC’s level.

:: Save vs ageing – When/if a spell fails, the Catabolyist has the chance to recover the botched spell, to draw back the magics into their body, recovering it before it is lost forever. Failing the save leads to lost vitality and ageing (see next).

%Chance of Ageing – {ed. see the table. If you like maths read on …} is to: 100% – (5 x PC level). So a 2nd level Catabolyist will age 90% of the time (100 – 2×5 = 90%), and a 10th level Catabolyist will age only 50% of the time. The chance is never lower than 5%. Again, the Table below does the maths. It is reiterated that spell failure ends the ability of the Catabolyist to cast spells until a rest is taken (e.g. 8 hrs sleep).

Catabolyist (Ketomancer or Crumble Wizard) SAVES

:: Age/Ageing – the Catabolyist’s ‘SSS’ score (derived from CON) defines the Catabolyist’s remaining life span as a percentage. For example a 14 CON gives a SSS of 88%. So the Catabolyist has used about 12% of his natural life up to date (probably through natural aging) and has 88% life left. When the Catabolyist fails to save vs ageing, the SSS score is lowered by the total number of spell levels that the PC had cast that day. The Catabolyist’s CON score is changed to match the current SSS score. When their SSS is zero, the Catabolyist crumples dying of old age.

:: SSS and Levelling – the Catabolyist gains some SSS back when levels are gained. Roll a die (or best approximate to) equal to the PC’s new level, i.e. if attainting 6th level, the Catabolyist gains D6 SSS points. This may result in a corresponding increase in the PC’s CON score.

:: Example 1 ::

A 7th level Catabolyist casts a 4th level spell (after already successfully casting a 2nd and 1st level spell in that day), so the total number of spell levels cast in the day is = (2 + 1 + 4) = 7.

Using Table 1 (and glossing over the maths) it is apparent that a 7th level Catabolyist can cast up to 7 levels of spell levels in one day (prior to rest) without needing to make any check.

:: Example 2 ::

Next, in dire need, the same Catabolyist decides to cast a 2nd level spell (without resting). Now the total number of spell levels cast that day is (2 + 1 + 4 + 2) = 9.

Again, glossing over the maths and using the Table, this gives a target number of 7 (or above) on a D20 to avoid spell failure. A D20 is rolled and a 4 comes up, and so the spell fails (she also can cast no more spells until she rests).

Next, does the Catabolyist age as a result of the botched spell? With reference to Table 2, it can be seen that a 7th level Catabolyist has a target number of 14 (or above) to avoid ageing.

A 12 is rolled and she is wracked in pain and sorrow. Her SSS score is decreased by 9 (the total of the spell levels cast that day). Her SSS score of 88 is now 79. She only has 79% of her life reaming to be lived! And her CON drops from 14 to 11 (see page 12 of the PHB).

:: Power Creep ::

Power creep

How does the Catabolyist stack up against a ‘standard’ AD&D magic user. They start about even (albeit the Catabolyist can gamble life for spells) having free acess to the same number of ‘total spell levels’. Later the AD&D magic user get far more spells hence more ‘total spell levels’; but they must memorise these, whereas a fewer apt spells might be useful. Consider a falling 20th level magic user who know 162 levels worth of spells but who has not memorized the feather fall spell, they may well be dead; but the Catabolyist will live on to see another day despite having fewer overall spells to cast.

– – –

c AntMe on DriveThruDriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural adventure ‘Carapace‘ about a giant ant colony and my ‘1998 Dungeon‘.

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