Excerpts Archive | 1/25/2012
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Sha'ir
Heroes of the Elemental Chaos Excerpts
Bart Carroll

M asters of fire and earth. Lords of air and water. Heroes of the Elemental Chaos is the definitive sourcebook for creating and playing characters with ties to the Elemental Chaos and the primordial beings that dwell there. It shows how the elements can influence heroes of the natural world and presents elemental-themed character options for players.



The roads to magical mastery are many and varied. Sorcerers call forth the power from within and bards channel arcane magic through story and song, but the wizard defines what magic is. For most wizards, magic is something learned and studied, a complex arrangement of formulas and mystical techniques buried in thick tomes, written in cramped hands using occult diagrams and strange symbols. After years spent in study and concentration, often under a stern master who guides his or her development, a wizard is free to use this scholarly training in pursuit of whatever objectives are important to the individual.

Scholarship is the most common path for the wizard—a dangerous route reserved for the brightest minds in the world—yet it is not the only one. The spells a wizard learns are things in the cosmos, complicated and often elusive, but they are things to be found, discovered, and used. Even though many wizards dredge up spells from old spellbooks, other sources provide this sort of magic. Great entities, mighty wizards in their own right, can lend magical knowledge to mortals in exchange for some inscrutable service. Other avenues might exist as well.

The following section presents new powers for wizards with a strong elemental theme, as well as a new wizard subclass, the sha'ir.

Wizard: Sha'ir

Arcane Controller: Using magic granted by your gen servant, you take control of the battlefield with the raw forces of elemental energy.

Key Abilities: Intelligence, Constitution

Sha'irs cull magical energy from the Elemental Chaos to power their spells. Rather than pore over ancient formulas and techniques, these wizards bargain with elemental powers for the magical knowledge they need. Sha'irs do not deal directly with these powers; instead, they rely on proxies, elemental spirits called gen servants, to negotiate on their behalf. Dispatching these servants to the Elemental Chaos each day, a sha'ir replenishes the necessary power and information to wield the forces of creation.

Their unconventional methods, combined with their reputation for consorting with dangerous, often violent, powers, place sha'irs on the fringes of the magical world. Other wizards regard sha'irs with scorn and distrust, believing that they cheat by circumventing the arduous training and research wizards must typically undergo. This mistrust stems from ignorance, however, for even though a sha'ir draws magic from a gen servant, a foundation in arcane training is necessary to wield the power he or she gains.

Since sha'irs do not clutter their minds with mystical formulas and arcane utterances, they have wider access to spells than other wizards enjoy. They need only know a spell's basic structure to request it from their gen servants. The gen servant then vanishes into the Elemental Chaos, where it bargains with more powerful elemental lords and creatures to acquire the spell the sha'ir seeks and then returns without fail to provide its master with the energy and means to cast the spell. So even though sha'irs do not employ spellbooks, they have access to the full expanse of wizards' most powerful and versatile spells.

The elemental powers that lend magical knowledge and energy to sha'irs do not do so without an expectation of recompense. Sha'irs often take up the adventurer's life for this reason. They work in the world and beyond as representatives, agents, and servants of their elemental masters. Many times a sha'ir does not even realize that his or her actions are furthering some elemental being's designs, and what might seem to be a normal expedition into the unknown could have consequences not realized for years to come.

Creating a Sha'ir

A sha'ir is a type of wizard, a class introduced in the Player's Handbook. To create a sha'ir, use the character creation rules in the Rules Compendium or the Player's Handbook. The Character Advancement table (page 159) summarizes how many powers and feats your sha'ir should have at each level, as well as when ability scores increase.

A sha'ir lacks these wizard class features from the Player's Handbook: Arcane Implement Mastery, Ritual Casting, and Spellbook. A sha'ir instead gains the class features Gen Servant and Elemental Resistance.

Sha'ir Traits

Hit Points: You start with hit points equal to 10 + your Constitution score. You gain 4 hit points each time you gain a level.
Bonus to Defenses: +2 to Will
Healing Surges per Day: 6 + your Constitution modifier
Armor Proficiencies: Cloth
Weapon Proficiencies: Dagger, quarterstaff
Implement Proficiencies: Orbs, staffs, wands
Class Skills: Arcana (Int), Diplomacy (Cha), Dungeoneering (Wis), History (Int), Insight (Wis), Nature (Wis), Religion (Int)
Trained Skills: Arcana, plus three more from the list of class skills

Class Features

A sha'ir has the following class features, starting at level 1.

Gen Servant

Elemental magic bows to no mortal master. Only those steeped in elemental energy or who can broker with the elemental powers can coax forth its magic. You enlist the aid of a minor elemental spirit, a gen servant, to keep you supplied with the magical energy you need to cast your spells. Each day, you dispatch this servant to the Elemental Chaos to steal, beg, or borrow this energy from the greater powers residing there. When the servant returns, the energy it brings back floods into your mind.

A gen servant is an arcane familiar forged from your own essence and that of elemental substance until it adopts a fixed and permanent form. As with any familiar, the characteristics that your gen servant takes on depend on you. The familiar might just be an extension of your magical abilities, or it might develop a distinctive personality, aiding you with knowledge from the Plane Below. How large a part your servant plays in your adventures is up to you.

Benefit: You gain the Arcane Familiar feat (page 142) as a bonus feat. You can choose any familiar normally available to a wizard or one of the familiars available only to sha'irs, which are described below.

At the end of each extended rest, when your familiar returns from its venture into the Elemental Chaos, you can replace one of your wizard daily attack powers or wizard utility powers with another wizard power of the same type. The new power must have a level, and its level must be the same as the old power's level.

Daolanin

Stoic to the point of rudeness, daolanin tend to be dour and ill-tempered companions. They prefer the truth, even when that truth cuts like a knife. Daolanin are squat creatures with brown or gray skin, dark hair, and brutish features. They are strong and fierce in battle and prove adept at keeping enemies at bay.


Djinnling

The mercurial djinnlings often have unpredictable personalities. They are quick to anger, but quicker to forget, tending to drift through many moods with little warning or reason. Djinnlings are short, thin humanoids with blue skin and tousled white hair. They are swift servants, and they can use the winds as weapons to disperse your enemies.


Efreetkin

The aggressive and malicious efreetkin resemble their larger cousins in both appearance and temperament. With fiery hair, ruddy skin, and small horns sprouting from their brows, they look like little devils and often behave as such. They delight in causing mischief and are famous for causing trouble for their masters. Despite this tendency, efreetkin are potent allies in battle, and many sha'irs tolerate their wickedness because of the power they offer.


Maridan

The playful maridans are a good-natured servants, friendly and personable. They are creatures of elemental water, and their green skin and blue hair help them blend into the depths. Though their spirits are often high, maridans are easily dismayed and might become uncooperative or angry when threatened.

Maridans are thought to be the most reliable of allies, and their influence on the battlefield can slow enemies and interfere with their attacks.


Sha'ir Cantrips

The magic provided by a shair's gen servant hints at the power to come, yet the sha'ir must first master the elementary, minor spells before attempting greater feats.

Benefit: You gain four cantrips of your choice. (This book includes cantrip options. See Heroes of the Fallen Lands or the Player's Handbook for others.)

Elemental Resistance
As you and your familiar harvest magic from the Elemental Chaos, you learn to protect yourselves and your companions from elemental damage.

Benefit: At the end of each extended rest, choose acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder. Until the end of your next extended rest, you and your allies have resistance to that damage type while adjacent to the familiar when it is in active mode. The resistance equals your Constitution modifier. At level 21, the resistance increases to twice your Constitution modifier.

Powers

Your sha'ir starts with eight wizard powers of your choice:

  • Two 1st-level wizard at-will attack powers
  • One 1st-level wizard encounter attack power
  • One 1st-level wizard daily attack power
  • Four wizard cantrips granted by the feature Sha'ir Cantrips

When choosing your powers, consider the wizard powers introduced in this book, which include magical effects that have strong thematic ties to the Elemental Chaos. The Player's Handbook, Arcane Power,
Heroes of the Fallen Lands, and other sources present a variety of other wizard powers to choose from.

Skills

Your skills can reveal much about your character's past and upbringing, hinting at the circumstances that led to your character's becoming an adventurer and also what your character hopes to achieve. Interaction skills such as Bluff, Diplomacy, and Insight all improve your ability to negotiate, forge alliances, and manipulate others. Training in Bluff could mean you deceived an elemental entity into helping you, and Diplomacy might suggest that you won over the entity and gained its help through honest means.

Arcana might be the foundation for your magical training, but other knowledge skills such as Dungeoneering, History, Nature, and Religion demonstrate a broader education. Training in Dungeoneering could reflect some previous contact with Far Realm forces, perhaps driving you to seek out an unconventional source of power to combat them. History suggests an academic origin; perhaps you learned your techniques in a grand academy, a concept further supported by training in Religion. Training in Nature might mean that you encountered an elemental entity in the wilderness, perhaps at a place steeped in chaos magic or where the planar boundaries are thin.

Feats

Certain feats are more useful to you at the start. As an implement user, any feat designed to increase your accuracy while also enhancing your ability to control enemies can serve you well. Orb Expertise, or a similar feat from the implement training category, improves your chance to hit while also letting you exert greater influence over your enemies. If you prefer damage, you can't go wrong with the Implement Focus feat.

Although implement training feats can benefit you in battle, other feats can serve your needs as well. Quick reaction feats, such as Aggressive Advantage and Improved Initiative, help you take control of the battlefield before your enemies have a chance to react. Toughness, Durable, Resilient Focus, and other enduring stamina feats ensure that you keep your feet.

As tempting as it might be to choose your feat based on combat needs, you can also use your feat choice to reinforce your character's personality and background. Learning and lore feats such as Elemental Synergy and Jack of All Trades demonstrate increased applications for your knowledge skills. Elemental feats, Child of Wind for example, open up a wide range of possibilities to explore your unusual heritage.

Equipment

You have proficiency with cloth armor. Since you rely on magic to serve as your weapon, you have little need to arm yourself beyond a backup weapon for the rare occasion when you find yourself cornered.

Like all starting characters, you have 100 gp with which you can purchase your starting equipment. You should purchase an implement first. Orbs help wizards who favor strong control spells, while wands are good for expanding your spellcasting options and increasing your accuracy. Finally, a staff is a worthwhile choice if you favor defense over offense.

Bart Carroll
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.