On the Google+ 13th Age community, Stefano Gaburri posted a question about the casting sequence of the 13th Age chaos mage class:
A while ago I asked about “daily” spells for Chaos Mages, namely: since they’re limited, can a mage cast the same spell multiple times, since he’s gonna cast the same maximum number of dailies anyway?
General response was, it’s possible to cast the same “daily” spell more than once, which was also my opinion (but not my GM’s… oh well).
Now I noticed that there’s another column, cryptically labeled “Once-per-battle spells”, that goes from 1 to 2. Now, this cannot possibly be a pool—the number must refer to each single spell, meaning that it becomes possible to cast the same “once per battle” (these names keep losing meaning!) spell twice per battle.
In conclusion (and that’s what bugs me), it seems we have different semantics in the two columns, without any explanation in the text. The number of dailies is a pool of “slots” you get to consume, 5th ed warlock-like, while the other column simply states that once-per-battle spells become twice-per-battle at some point (ie 6th level).
Did I get it right?
Here’s the level progression chart Stefano refers to. As you can see, at 1st level a chaos mage has access to two daily spells, and one once-per-battle spell. By 6th level, a chaos mage has access to four daily spells, and two once-per-battle spells.
Here’s where some of the confusion around this class comes from: The chaos mage class has its own spells, and it has talents which give it access to spells from other classes. Both types of spells are accessed randomly; and on a given turn, a chaos mage might or might not be able to cast the daily or once-per-battle spells it has access to. Such is the nature of randomness!
How Chaos Mage Spellcasting Works (It’s Weird)
The chaos mage’s spell list has three types of spells: attack (one at-will spell, one once-per-battle spell, and one daily spell), defense (same), and iconic (a mix of at-will and daily spells). These spells are the spells those numbers in the chart above refer to.
The chaos mage’s class talents include ones that give it access to a randomly-chosen spell from another class: cleric, necromancer, sorcerer, or wizard. The spell they randomly choose is categorized as either an attack spell, or a defense spell. These spells do not count against the number of daily and once-per-battle spells in the level progression chart.
The chaos mage’s player has a bag of colored stones (or other tokens) representing three types of spells: attack, defense, and iconic. During a battle, the player draws a stone to see what type of spell the chaos mage can cast on their turn. The player then looks at the appropriate spell list to see what’s available:
- If they drew an iconic spell stone, they look at the chaos mage’s iconic spell list
- If they drew an attack spell stone, they look at the chaos mage’s attack spell list. If one of their class talents gave them access to a randomly-chosen spell from another class that happened to be an attack spell, that’s one of the options as well.
- If they drew a defense spell stone, they look at the chaos mage’s defense spell list. If one of their class talents gave them access to a randomly-chosen spell from another class that happened to be an defense spell, that’s one of the options as well.
The chaos mage cannot cast any listed daily spells that they’ve already cast that day, or any once-per-battle spells that they’ve already cast that battle.
Clear as mud? Here’s an example of how it looks in play.
A 6th Level Chaos Mage in Action
Anna Blossom is a 6th level chaos mage.* She can access up to four chaos mage daily spells, and up to two chaos mage once-per-battle spells.
Anna has the Trace of the Divine class talent. This talent lets her randomly choose a cleric spell of the highest level she can cast. For the rest of the day, Anna knows this cleric spell and can cast it according to its normal usage pattern—at-will, cyclic, once per battle, recharge, or daily—when that option comes up during Anna’s chaos mage spellcasting sequence.
Using the Trace of the Divine talent, Anna’s player randomly chooses the spell spirits of the righteous (once per battle). This spell does not count against Anna’s maximum of two once-per-battle spells, because that maximum only applies to chaos mage class spells—not spells from other classes accessed through a talent.
Suddenly, Anna’s band of adventurers is attacked by redcaps! Battle is joined!
Anna’s player pulls an iconic stone from the bag, and rolls to see which icon she can cast a spell from. The die result is the Archmage. Looking at the Archmage iconic spell list, Anna could cast silver arrows (at-will) or cascading power (daily).
Anna casts cascading power.
On Anna’s next turn, the player pulls a second iconic stone from the bag, and rolls Archmage again. She cannot cast cascading power again, because it’s a daily spell and she already cast it. Yes, Anna has access to four daily spells; but this one has already been used, so it’s not available to her anymore until after her next full heal-up. This means the only spell that’s available to Anna in the Archmage iconic spell list during that round is silver arrows (at-will).
On Anna’s next turn, the player pulls an attack stone from the bag. Anna’s options from the chaos mage spell list are: force tentacle (at-will), chaos ray (once per battle), or Blarrrrgh! (daily). Thanks to Trace of the Divine, she can also cast spirits of the righteous (once per battle) because it’s an attack spell.
Anna casts spirits of the righteous.
On Anna’s next turn, the player pulls another attack stone from the bag. Anna’s options from the chaos mage spell list are: force tentacle (at-will), chaos ray (once per battle), or Blarrrrgh! (daily). Anna cannot cast spirits of the righteous again, because it’s a once-per-battle spell and she’s already cast it this battle.
Anna casts chaos ray.
Here’s where Anna is now at this point:
Anna, at 6th level, has access to four daily spells in the chaos mage spell list.
- She’s cast one of those four (cascading power). She can’t cast it again for the rest of the day, even if her player keeps drawing the iconic spell stone and rolling Archmage over and over again. It’s just gone until Anna’s next full heal-up.
- Anna has access to three more daily spells, but she’ll only have the opportunity to use them if her player either draws an attack stone (because she hasn’t yet cast Blarrrrrrgh! today), or draws an iconic stone and rolls one of the icons that has a daily spell Anna hasn’t cast yet.
Anna also has access to two once-per-battle spells in the chaos mage spell list.
- In this battle, Anna’s cast one of her two once-per-battle spells (chaos ray).
- Anna also cast spirits of the righteous, the once-per-battle spell she got via Trace of the Divine.
- Even if the player keeps drawing an attack stone from the bag during this battle, Anna doesn’t get to cast spirits of the righteous again, because it’s her one and only cleric spell, and it’s a once-per-battle spell, and she already cast it this battle.
- Anna also doesn’t get to cast chaos ray again, because she only has access to two chaos mage once-per-battle spells, and she already cast it this battle.
- However! If the player drew a defense stone, Anna could cast warped healing (the other chaos mage once-per-battle spell) because she hasn’t cast it yet during this battle.
- Once Anna casts spirits of the righteous, chaos ray, and warped healing, she is all out of once-per-battle spells for the rest of this battle.
I hope this helps clear up the chaos mage’s use of various spell types. If you’re the kind of player who likes the challenge of making choices based on randomly-generated circumstances, maybe you’ll want to give this class a try!
*One Unique Thing: Has wheels.
Art by Lee Moyer and Aaron McConnell