Do You Believe in Antimagic?

The existence of magic in the context of a Pathfinder game world is something that will – given its nature as something that’s both provident (since it can be used with regularity and without any real risk to the user), and powerful (given what higher-level spells can do) – change everything in the fabric of a society.

Of course, this is something we’ve talked about before, both regarding the nature of magic and how local laws will codify its misuse. What we haven’t discussed is how, exactly, societies will protect themselves from magic-using threats in the first place.

While the popular answer is that they’ll higher adventurers to do their dirty work for them, that’s not a very palatable choice for the first line of defense. What if there are no adventurers around at the time? What if they don’t want to take the job? What if they’re the problem in the first place, and someone else is needed to stop them?

With questions like these, it starts to become obvious that there’s going to be some sort of law enforcement position specific to handling spellcasting threats. We aren’t going to turn to benevolent religious organizations either, as we can presume that the regional government would want state actors that answer to them, rather than to an independent organization (even if it’s a state-backed religion, it still answers to its church leaders, and its god, before it does the king, for instance).

No magic

The badass tattoo of the antimage guild.

The clearer answer seems to be that there are arcane spellcasters employed by the state who are the point-people for dealing with troublesome spellcasters, and other magical threats. Indeed, there’s likely an arm of law enforcement that trains people precisely for this purpose. Presumably, this would mean that they are not only on-call for a given area when something happens, but have a readied set of spells and abilities designed specifically to stop unlawful spellcasting in its tracks.

Of course, that rules out sorcerers, since they’re mutations that can’t really be created via training. Bards and magi are better choices, but their de-emphasis on full-progression casting makes them weaker choices to combat enemies with a high degree of spellcasting power. Witches are like clerics in that they ultimately answer to someone else besides the government, and wizards tend to be a little too focused on expanding their spellbooks.

That would seem to place us in a bit of an awkward position in regards to coming up with a character that’s specifically designed to take out spellcasters. The best we can do would be to make a new class archetype, prestige class, or base class designed around taking out spellcasters.

Of course, using Eclipse we can make such a character from scratch with little difficulty.

The Antimage

Antimages are state-sponsored actors who are called in to deal with criminal spellcasters. Beyond mere police or guardsmen, they are an elite unit trained to deal with circumstances that are beyond mundane law enforcement officials. Undergoing rigorous training, they have their own magical abilities heightened…but only those abilities that allow for magic’s disruption. Antimages don’t so much attack spellcasters as they attack the fabric of magic itself, disrupting and wounding it to the point where its practitioners can no longer call upon it reliably.

Since we’re going to be outlining a class, rather than a specific character, we’ll limit ourselves to class-based CP expenditures (and related modifiers).

Available Character Points: 504 (level 20 base) + 40 (duties) + 20 (restrictions) = 564 CP.

Antimage duties are to their government. They are usually endowed with a fairly high degree of autonomy, but this comes with commensurate responsibilities to the government. Their restrictions are much more concrete: they cannot take any spellcasting/psionic progressions, except for those outlined under Magikiller, below.

Basic Abilities (346 CP)

  • Light armor and medium armor proficiency (9 CP) and proficient with all simple and martial weapons (9 CP).
  • 20d8 Hit Dice (80 CP).
  • +15 Warcraft (90 CP).
  • +6 Fort save (18 CP).
  • +12 Reflex save (36 CP).
  • +12 Will save (36 CP, corrupted for two-thirds cost/may not voluntarily fail saves against beneficial effects – 24 CP).
  • 80 skill points (80 CP).

Unlike normal wizards, antimages have fairly credible combat abilities. Many spellcasters have meat-shields defending them, after all, and some have fighting abilities of their own to fall back on. As such, an antimage learns how to hold their own in martial, as well as magical, combat.

Thaumaturgical Insight (24 CP)

  • Adept (Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), Martial Art (soul of iron), Spellcraft) (6 CP).
  • Fast Learner (6 CP, specialized for double effect/skills only).
  • Occult Sense with the Improved modifier (12 CP).

The combination of adept and fast learner means that an antimage will be able to keep maximum ranks in each of the four listed skills, allowing him to be an expert on arcane and divine magical theory, develop their magic-disrupting martial art, and understand any magic that they see, something that they’re also trained to do. Their Improved Occult Sense allows them to see magic similar to an arcane sight spell, but without the duration or range limits.

Magikiller (148 CP)

  • 20 caster levels (120 CP, specialized for one-half cost/only for clerical progression – 60 CP).
  • 20 levels clerical spellcasting progression, no package, with the conduct limitation removed (140 CP, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/no spell list except for spells from the Dispelling domain – 46 CP).
  • Domain/Path (Dispelling domain) (6 CP).
  • Spell Conversion (to Dispelling domain spells – 6 CP).
  • Countermagic, with the Empty Mind, Reflexive, and Spiral Dance modifiers (30 CP).

The Dispelling domain can be found in Paths of Power II. Like a clerical domain, it has nine spells, one of each level, that follow a theme, which in this case is dispelling magic.

This package of abilities is the main thrust of an antimage’s power. While he has spell slots, they can only be used for using Dispelling domain spells or counterspelling. Indeed, they may counterspell once per round off of their turn, and moreover can redirect a countered spell as if they were the original caster (something they do by “dispelling” part of the caster’s original casting instructions, essentially sabotaging it as it’s cast rather than fully negating it).

Beyond Magic’s Reach (46 CP)

  • Block (arcane) with the Master upgrade (12 CP).
  • Defender (deflection bonus) with the Improved modifier (corrupted for two-thirds cost/only versus magical attacks – 8 CP).
  • Luck with plus one bonus use (specialized for one-half cost/only for saving throws, and corrupted for increased effect (one additional use per day)/only against magical effects – 4 CP).
  • Spell Resistance, with the Improved modifier twice (18 CP, corrupted for two-thirds cost/cannot be voluntarily lowered – 12 CP).
  • Inherent Spell (6 CP, specialized and corrupted for one-third cost/only as a prerequisite) plus Advanced with one bonus use (nullfield, 8 CP) (10 CP total).

Since an antimage can usually wear down a traditional spellcaster, their ability to use nullfield (which can be found in The Practical Enchanter) is usually saved as a last resort for desperate circumstances. In such cases, nullfield is used to try and stop an enemy that doesn’t seem to have a limit on how much magic they can use (e.g. someone using Path of the Dragon).

The increased effect for an antimage’s luck ability grants +50% uses. Since it can be used twice a day normally, that bumps it up to three times per day.

In addition to the above powers, all antimages are trained in the Soul of Iron martial art. While the cold iron staff is the traditional weapon of choice for this style, the form of the weapon is less important than its substance. As such, minor variants that use different cold iron weapons can be found among foreign antimages with some regularity.

Soul of Iron (Wis)

Cold iron has long been recognized for its ability to disrupt the ebb and flow of magic. For those with a similar ability, it can be used as a channel to augment and direct their ability to resist mystical powers. Soul of Iron practitioners  put this to good effect, attacking eldritch powers with a cold iron staff; while its wide, sweeping gestures look like a slow practice form to most, its users are actually dispersing the natural tides of magic around them.

Requires: Spell resistance, proficiency with quarterstaff.

Basic Techniques: Defenses 4 (+4 to saving throws vs. spells and spell-like abilities), Synergy/Spellcraft, Toughness 4 (vs. hit point damage from spells and spell-like abilities).

Advanced/Master Techniques: Arcane Strike (works with antimage spells), Battlecry (this is actually a loud ringing of the iron staff, but has the same effect), Disruptive, Sneak Attack (add +1d6 to dispel checks).

Occult Techniques: Inner Strength, Ki Focus (Wisdom), Overburden, Serpent Strike.

Advancement

Antimages are already pinnacle characters with regard to defending themselves against magical attacks, and debuffing those characters that rely on magic. As such, any further advancement would be best served by expanding their abilities. Action Hero is an excellent choice in this regard, as it gives them some much-needed versatility. Berserker can help boost their combat prowess so that they can put down a spellcaster that they’ve debuffed.

Of course, an antimage’s combat abilities will never be as strong as those of a dedicated fighter-type. Companion or Leadership may be helpful in that regard, as they can provide the antimage with some much-needed muscle.  Perhaps your antimage is so opposed to magic that divinations can’t see her (Cloaking) or maybe she can shrug off some types of spells altogether (Immunity).

Further Development

Of course, none of this changes the fact that an antimage makes a far better NPC than PC. Most players won’t care to spend their actions each turn debuffing other characters’ spells and magic items. The fact that antimages can’t waive their spell resistance or saving throws against beneficial effects doesn’t help matters.

Antimages are best used as part of a strike force used against your PCs. As specialists in locking down spellcasting characters, even a single antimage – if used as part of a well-rounded party – can be used to devastating effect. Be wary about using them too often, though, as your spellcasting players won’t appreciate having their actions negated every round.

Ultimately, as the introduction laid out, antimages work best as part of the background of the campaign world, showing how things continue to function in a land where you never know who’s going to start charming the populace or use magic missiles to terrorize people. Antimages are the silent threat that helps keep magical societies functioning.

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8 Responses to “Do You Believe in Antimagic?”

  1. Eclipse – The Questionable Inner Fire | Emergence Campaign Weblog Says:

    […] Do You Believe in Antimagic? from Intelligence Check (alzrius.wordpress.com) […]

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    […] Do You Believe in Antimagic? from Intelligence Check (alzrius.wordpress.com) […]

  3. Eclipse: Castle Hieronymus | Emergence Campaign Weblog Says:

    […] Do You Believe in Antimagic? from Intelligence Check (alzrius.wordpress.com) […]

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    […] Do You Believe in Antimagic? from Intelligence Check (alzrius.wordpress.com) […]

  5. bwbyars Says:

    I’m glad to see you’re using Eclipse and enjoying it. I bought it a few years ago, and I’ve enjoying toying with it some, but haven’t been able to use it in a campaign yet.
    I really like the low/no-magic campaigns. I was wondering if you’ve tried Iron Heroes. My son and I recently watched the first series of “Sword Art Online” which has prompted us to a try an Iron Heroes campaign.

    • alzrius Says:

      The funny thing is that I bought Eclipse several years ago, but the relative complexity of the system, combined with how long it took me to find Thoth’s blog, meant that it was a long time before I realized the book’s true potential.

      Unfortunately, the rest of my gaming group finds the book suspect at best (something I’ve blogged about here), and after getting them to reluctantly let me use it in our campaign, they yanked it from me a few months back.

      Of course, my new plan is, the next time I’m the GM, to declare that everyone is going to use Eclipse to make their characters. Hopefully that will get everyone to give the book an honest chance.

      I do love the idea of low-magic campaigns (where magic is both less powerful, and less plentiful, a la Lord of the Rings). I picked up Iron Heroes when it first came out, but was somewhat disappointed that it was more of a variant game than a supplement – I had been looking for ways to turn a “normal” d20 game into a low-magic campaign without having to discard some basic assumptions, such as replacing the basic character classes with alternate versions…which is exactly what IH did. In hindsight, that’s understandable, but at the time that really killed it for me.

      Today, I mostly for for E6 to get my low-magic fix, as that does the bulk of what I want (the rest of tailoring expectations for how many NPC spellcasters and magic item shops are available).

  6. Eclipse – Sample Races, Templates, and Characters | Emergence Campaign Weblog Says:

    […] 20′th level breakdown for an Antimage –  a “class” that specializes in negating the powers of dangerous […]

  7. Eclipse Builds by Alzrius | Emergence Campaign Weblog Says:

    […] 20′th level breakdown for an Antimage –  a “class” that specializes in negating the powers of dangerous […]

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