Thoughts on the Sorcerer

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Designing the Sorcerer

The Sorcerer Class is one of those classes that always has a place in fantasy games and mystical lore. Like some of the other staple classes, I felt that they needed to be in Unchained Heroes to make it complete. The question was how was I going to make it seem cooler than all the other reiterations of a Sorcerer that we have seen before. I tried to answer that with the name.

I took quite a long time trying to come up with a good name for the Sorcerer. Was it going to be a Mage? Too bland. Wizard? Too old and crusty. Magi? They were not one of the Three Wise Men. Magician? No meager parlor tricks for these guys. Warlock? Different type of style. Witch? Too much history. Some of these names had too many gender undertones associated with them and I didn’t want that either. After a lot of soul searching and thesaurus reading, I came back to the name Sorcerer. It suggested power, was androgynous enough to fit a man or a woman, it didn’t suggest a certain playstyle, and it was easily recognizable.

The Sorcerer would be a being that manipulated the arcane magical energies of the planet. In my universe, the arcane magic flows across the planet like rivers of energy. It is an energy source that all things manipulate and react to without conscious thought. Those living on a planet function according to these unknown flows and rules even when they don’t know it. Great cities are crafted on Ley Line Nexus Points and common travel routes seem to flow along their paths. These arcane energies would be called mana currents and being in tune with the mana currents would be a natural state of being. The Sorcerer would be able to see this energy, manipulate this energy, and use this energy for whatever purpose they choose. The magic of the mana currents would only be different in that it cannot create new energy, only manipulate the current energy. Its difference from divine magic is that it is tied to the world and can be manipulated by everyone rather than unlocked by the gods. Divine magic has the unique power to create new energy in the world, a feat which arcane magic is not designed to do–that doesn’t stop the Sorcerer from trying!

I would use the Sorcerer to fill the role of magical powerhouse and toolbox caster, able to draw from many aspects of the game. They could warp around, bend space, ignite the air into fireballs, turn luck against a foe, heal a person with the mana currents, and channel currents directly into people to refuel their energy. The Sorcerers that came by their powers naturally would be the closest creature to a Cerebral without ever actually being a Cerebral. They would likely be flashy and flamboyant, with a flair for the dramatic. Those that came about it through diligence and the pursuit of the art, would approach it more as a science or art than an innate talent. No matter the decisions behind how they attained their talents, they would have plenty of story-driven options.

In the end, it was a foregone conclusion that the Sorcerer would be included in Unchained Heroes. It ended up being a good fit from both the story aspect and the game mechanic aspects. They became the primary supernatural caster and the vanilla ice cream for anyone that wants to use magic, but not within the confines of a non-traditional class.

Reactions to the Sorcerer

The Sorcerer has had a few instances of play in “one-off” campaigns here and there. In one instance it was a serious character and played a very important role in the grand scheme of things. It was played by my long-time good friend Gregg. As he usually does, he finds a way to make layers within his character that are well hidden. I think the Sorcerer suited him well in the role he played and if he ever allows it, someday I may reveal some of the deeper secrets he was hiding in that campaign. We have also seen Sorcerers played in one-off campaigns flinging a lot of fireballs and teleporting around the battlefield as if they were unhappy to stay in one location too long. They all fit into the traditional roles of the Sorcerer and made for good additions to each party.

I personally feel rather lukewarm about the Sorcerer mostly because of the nature of its initial implementation. The Sorcerer was a dabbler in a lot of things, but not really great at any of them and it followed that players mostly dabbled in their use as well. This is not to say that the Sorcerer is a snooze for people. It’s just “been done” over and over. Every game has a Sorcerer or a Mage or a Wizard or some version of this class. My challenge has been to make it lively and viable in Unchained Heroes. I think that in this latest version of abilities, I have done just that. It has some really great tools in and out of combat. I can’t think of any class besides the Oracle that can compete with the things that the Sorcerer can do (on both sides of the proverbial role-playing aisle). The fact that a Sorcerer can Counterspell, throw fireballs, teleport around the battlefield, bind their opponents with circles of power, and seed them with kernels of pure chaos energy all adds to the excitement in playing their class.

As they stand right now, they are masters of arcane forces in every form, manipulating the invisible mana currents all around us. They will always be the most versatile of the casting classes and are supposed to be the top of the food chain as spell casting goes. As the game progresses and evolves, this should cement a place for them and make them well received.

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