Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Channelers, a class for dat Wheel of Time feeling

"Therefore Ilúvatar gave to their vision Being, and set it amid the Void, and the Secret Fire was sent to burn at the heart of the World; and it was called Eä." - Valaquenta

The Three Sisters weave all fate on their loom, forming the Tapestry of Ages. The thread of the Tapestry is made of the mana. Mana is the vital substance of the universe. It is sometimes called the Creator's breath, or the Secret Fire, or prana, or wyrd, or the Flame Imperishable. It is essential vitality.

Channelers are humans who also practice the arts of the Three Sisters, though on a miniature scale. Channelers can open themselves to the flows of mana and reweave reality around them as they see fit. They can pick apart the threads of the Tapestry of Ages and pull.

Elemental Affinities

Humans are a prism. When the mana surges through them, a channeler can direct it through one of five gates. Each gate is aligned with one of the five elements. The mana is white light, and each gate bends the light into a different color. The water gate is located in the genitals, the earth gate is located in the stomach, the fire gate is located in the heart, the air gate is located in the throat, and the spirit gate is located just above the top of the head.

Channelers have different relative strengths in the five elements. This is represented by their elemental affinity scores. Elemental affinities are ranked from 0 to 6. For each point of elemental affinity you have, you may channel one thread of mana through that elemental gate. For example, having fire affinity 3 means you can channel three threads of fire at a time. 

If your affinity for an element is rated 0, you cannot cast patterns of that element. 

Men tend to have affinity in earth and fire, whereas women tend to have affinity in air and water.

Opening the Flow

To weave mana, channelers must first open themselves to the flow of power. By opening themselves up to mana, they become a conduit for the essential power of the universe. This requires a successful Wisdom check and takes a turn.

While open to the flow of mana, any mundane (i.e., non-magical) task is performed with disadvantage. The only thing you want to do while channeling is channel. It's addictive.

You remain open to mana (i.e., actively channeling) for as long as you wish, but you certainly can't sleep or eat or even sit down and rest while channeling. You are alive and active and your heart is beating so, so fast. Remaining open to mana for longer than, say, a half-hour is incredibly difficult. It's so much ecstasy it hurts.


"If there is any to see, then I at least am revealed to them, I have written Gandalf is here in signs that all can read from Rivendell to the mouths of Anduin." - The Fellowship of the Ring

Mana is not subtle. It is creation and life and vitae. When a person is channeling, everybody knows it. The channeler's eyes are blazing with light, their pupils white. Their hair is tossed by an unseen wind. Their skin is almost luminescent. But more than that--you can feel someone channeling. Your skin prickles when you're near mana. You are aroused by the channeler. You know explicitly who is channeling and intuit each use of their patterns. A channeler is never subtle. A weaving is never unnoticed. Everybody knows who is casting, and what they're casting, every time. Depending on the amount of mana being channeled, you might be able to feel a channeler from over a mile away. You might even be able to intuit who is channeling. Channeling sends out waves of psychic resonance.

Weaving Threads and Patterns

A thread is a single fine flow of mana. These are woven into magical workings called patterns. A pattern may be made up of one thread or many. A pattern may be of a single working (a pattern of pure air or a pattern of pure water) or of multiple workings (a pattern of both air and water). The strongest patterns require the channeler to weave threads of all five elements.

Your elemental affinities effect how many threads you can weave into a single pattern. You may have one thread per point of elemental affinity for the pattern you are trying to weave. That is, if you are casting Immolate (a fire pattern) and you have fire affinity 2, you may weave up to two threads of fire into Immolate at a time.

Patterns might have different effects based on how many threads you weave into them. For example, the air pattern Gust of Wind moves a target 10' per thread woven into it. If cast with one thread, it will move your target 10' in the direction of your choice. If cast with five threads, it will move the target 50'.

Channeling patterns requires the use of the channeler's empty hands but not their voice. Channelers use their hands to physically manipulate the flows of glowing mana into patterns. The range of all patterns are "line of sight."

Some patterns may be maintained with concentration. You may only maintain one pattern at a time. If you close the flow of mana, your concentration pattern ends. If you suffer damage, you must make a Constitution saving throw to maintain concentration.

Channeling Track

Every thread you weave moves your Channeling Track up by one step. It starts at 0.

Step       Dice
0              0
1              d4-2
2              d4-1
3              d4
4              d6
5              d8
6              d10
7              d12
8              2d6
9              d8+d6
10           d10+d6
11           d10+d8
12           2d10
13           d12+d10
14           d20+d4
15           d20+d6
16           d20+d8
17           d20+d10
18           d20+d12
19           d20+2d6

20           d20+d8+d6

For example, if you cast a three thread pattern, your Channeling Track moves from step 0 to step 3. If you then cast a one thread pattern, it moves to step 4. 

Closing the Flow and Overchanneling

When you choose, you can cut yourself off from the flow of mana. This is easy to do, like exhaling a breath.

And now it's time to pay the piper.

Channeling mana is rough on your internal pathways and your subtle body. As soon as you close your gates, you immediately suffer the effects of channeling.

Roll as many dice as indicated on your Channeling Track and compare your total to the Overchanneling chart. Take the effects of Overchanneling immediately. Reset your Channeling Track back to 0.

0. No effect
1. The channeler violently vomits for two turns.
2. The channeler is exhausted. He goes last during initiative until he rests.
3. The channeler is desperately hungry. He suffers disadvantage on all tests until he consumes a ration’s worth of food and water.
4. The channeler falls asleep. Only a violent slap (or worse) will wake him up.
5. The channeler suffers 5 damage as he bursts into spontaneously combusts. He’ll continue to suffer d6 damage per turn until he spends a turn putting himself out.
6. An imbalance of air in the channeler’s body robs him of the ability to speak for the rest of the day.
7. The channeler suffers sickness from an imbalance of water. He suffers disadvantages on saving throws for the rest of the day.
8. An imbalance of earth slows the channeler for the rest of the day. He can only move at 1/3rd his normal movement speed. (Alternatively, you might say he can only take a movement action, a standard action, or a minor action—not all three at once. Whatever rules work for you.)
9. An imbalance of spirit robs the channeler from benefiting from healing magics for the rest of the day.
10. The channeler suffers 15 damage as he is wreathed in flame.  Additionally, roll a d6 for each item that he wears or carries. If you roll a 5 or 6, the item is destroyed by this fire.
11. One of the channeler’s hand become calcified, as if turned to stone. He can’t use it until he undergoes magical healing.  This includes being unable to weave patterns larger than a single thread.
12. A violent storm appears in the area, which is dangerous to be exposed to and is devastating to local crops.
13. An imbalance of spirit causes the caster to fly into a berserk rage whenever they suffer damage for the rest of the day. They are unable to distinguish between friend or foe while in this state.
14. An imbalance of fire blinds the channeler for the rest of the day.
15. The channeler suffers 20 damage from internal strain. If this drops them below 0 HP, they simply die from organ failure.
16. An imbalance of water causes a sickness that inflicts disadvantage on all rolls for the rest of the day.
17. A greater elemental of [d4: fire/water/earth/air] appears and targets the channeler.
18. An earthquake grips the area, which shifts hills and topples buildings.
19. The channeler falls into a coma for a 1d4 days.
20+: You have channeled too much energy. You are burnt out. You lose the ability to channel forever. You lose 1 Charisma point per month as joy dwindles and hope fades from you.

And here are the "spell lists." I'm assuming 5E type saving throws, which I rather prefer. Change to suit you. The "spell level" isn't exactly relevant here. It matters how many threads you can weave based on your elemental affinities, and your character level matters.

Patterns of a Single Working

Element: Spirit
The channeler must meet a target's gaze to weave this pattern. If the target fails a Charisma saving throw, they are held and cannot do anything other than stand and drool, as long as the channeler takes no other actions than maintaining this pattern with concentration.

Bottle Bombs
Element: Water
All bottles and skins bearing liquid on the target violently explode for 1d6 damage per bottle. If the target is higher level than the channeler, they get a Charisma saving throw to resist this pattern.

Element: Water
If cast on an object, it will float on the surface of the water, even if submerged or sunken. If cast on a person, they can walk on the surface of the water. Unwilling subjects can make a Charisma saving throw to resist. For each additional water thread woven into this pattern, you may target an additional creature or object.
This pattern may be maintained with concentration.

Circle of Ice
Element: Water
A circle with a 5' radius centered on the channeler precipitously drops in temperature. All those who are within the circle suffer 1d4 damage per thread woven into this pattern, and water quickly freezes in this area. Additionally, creatures in the area have their swords frozen in their scabbards and the stoppers frozen into their potion bottles. It requires a Strength test to pull out and use any equipment on their belt.

Control Air
Element: Air
You may control the flow of air around you in simple but significant ways. Examples of this may be clearing away a gas, blowing over a vase, creating whistling or booming sounds, or even powering a small sailing ship. More powerful effects might be possible with more threads, per GM's discretion--it takes about five threads to blow a door off of its hinges.

Control Earth
Element: Earth
You may control the a small amount of earth in simple but significant ways. Examples of this may be throwing a stone (d4 damage, Dexterity check to hit), burying a small object or chest, digging a trench, or raising a hillock. More powerful effects might be possible with more threads, per GM's discretion--it takes about five threads to create a navigable tunnel through solid stone.

Control Fire
Element: Fire
You may control a small flame in simple but significant ways. Examples of this may be having the flame leap to another nearby source (doing d4 damage, Dexterity check to hit), increasing a fire's size or intensity, extinguishing a small fire, or causing someone on fire to take double damage.  You can also use this pattern to create small sparks, like with flint and steel. More powerful effects might be possible with more threads, per GM's discretion--it takes about five threads to spread a campfire into a forest fire.

Control Water
Element: Water
You may control a small amount of water in simple but significant ways. Examples of this might include splashing someone with about a bucket's worth of water, giving advantage or disadvantage to someone's swimming attempts, drying something that's wet, or propelling a small boat. More powerful effects might be possible with more threads, per GM's discretion--it takes about five threads to part a river or lake so a passing army can traverse.

Element: Spirit
This pattern allows a creature who can speak to understood and be understood by the caster. For each additional thread woven into this pattern, you can target one additional creature.
This pattern requires you to maintain it with concentration.

Element: Spirit
The channeler must meet a target's gaze to weave this pattern. If the target fails an Wisdom saving throw, the channeler becomes a terrible source of fear for the target. They will not willingly move towards the channeler and suffer disadvantage on attacks against the channeler.
This pattern may be maintained with concentration.

Element: Earth
The channeler gains tremorsense, feeling every movement and step upon (or under) the earth. This tremorsense extends out 10' from the channeler for every thread woven into this pattern.
This pattern may be maintained with concentration.

Element: Fire
The target of this pattern gains resistance to fire. Their possessions never catch fire, though they might be singed. For each additional thread woven into this pattern, you can target one additional creature.
This pattern may be maintained it with concentration.

Gust of Wind
Element: Air
With a gust of wind, you blast a target of about mannish size to a new space 10 feet/thread away. They land gently and the movement doesn't harm them, but they might be set down in a hazardous space (such as a pool of acid). You may use this pattern on yourself to navigate around the battlefield and cross gaps. Unwilling targets may resist by making a Constitution saving throw.

Hand of Air
Element: Air
The channeler may manipulate objects at a distance as if he had his hand on them. The channeler can lift objects or call them to him through the air.

Element: Fire
You blast a creature or an item with flame. The target takes 1d6 damage per thread you weave into the blast and catches on fire. A target of higher level than the channeler may make a Dexterity saving throw to take half damage from the initial blast. A character on fire will take 1d6 damage per turn until they spend a turn putting themselves out.

Pit Trap
Element: Earth
One creature standing on solid earth that you target has his legs pulled down into solid earth. He cannot move until he passes a Strength saving throw. This saving throw is made with disadvantage if he was standing on solid stone, as opposed to soft soil or clay. For each additional earth thread woven into this pattern, you may target an additional creature.

Twist Sounds
Element: Air
The channeler can increase or decrease the sounds of a target creature (including himself). He can amplify their voice so that it can be heard easily, he can rob a creature of its voice completely, or he can muffle all sounds produced by the creature so it cannot be heard. Unwilling targets can resist with a Charisma saving throw.
This pattern requires you to maintain it with concentration.

Element: Spirit
The channeler may use this pattern to destroy threads of other patterns. For each thread woven into Unweaving, one thread is removed from a target active pattern.
If the channeler casts this pattern on a channeler who is not currently open to mana, the Wisdom save to open themselves to mana is made at a disadvantage. This usage of Unweaving must be maintained with concentration.

Element: Earth
The target of this spell can walk on any wall or ceiling made of stone or earthen material. For each additional thread woven into this pattern, you can target one additional creature.
This pattern requires you to maintain it with concentration.

Wall of Elements
Element: Air, Earth, Fire, or Water
This pattern raises a wall of elements, depending on the elemental thread used in its creation. For each thread woven into this pattern, the channeler raises one 10x10' section of wall.
Walls of earth are opaque and tough as stone.
Walls of wind aren't opaque, but missile weapons cannot pass through this wall.
Walls of fire are opaque and any creature passing through it suffers 1d6 damage and must make a Dexterity saving throw to avoid catching on fire.
Walls of water are only raised in bodies of water, but prevents ships or other watercraft from approaching.
This pattern requires you to maintain it with concentration.

Element: Spirit
A circle with a 5' radius centered on the channeler becomes warded against evil. Undead of the channeler's level or lower cannot enter into this circle, or cast any magic into this circle, or perform any harmful actions against those within the circle at all.
Additional threads may be woven to increase the size of the warded area (additional 5' radius per thread) as well as the potency of the ward (+1 to channeler's level per thread woven).
This pattern requires you to maintain it with concentration.
* If you're using this for Wheel of Time stuff, just change "undead" to "darkspawn" for this pattern.

Will o' Wisp
Element: Fire
The channeler summons a bauble of flame which follows him, or can be directed as an effort of will. It provides light like a candle (or a torch for two threads, or a lamp for three threads). It can spark and cause small fires like flint and tinder. The channeler can make an attack with it by making a Wisdom check. If successful, the target is blinded until they can succeed on a Wisdom saving throw.
This pattern requires you to maintain it with concentration.

Interpreting this Shit

If you're using this for some OSR game, I reckon basically just take your magic-user class and strip away their basic spellcasting rules and shove these in instead.

Channelers start at level 1 with 1 point of elemental affinity in one element of their choice. Every level (if you have a 1-10 level spread, or every other level if you have a 1-20 progression), they gain 1 point of elemental affinity in any element of their choice (maximum 6).

Hack it to suit your needs.


I like giving players the keys to their own destruction. I like how this type of magic-use isn't limited by resources (ala Vance), but by willingness to take risk. This seems more in keeping with certain non-Vancian fantasy themes (Le Guin, Tolkien, Jordan).

I have no idea how balanced this is. Not very? Kinda? Not sure.

I like that channelers have no restrictions on armor, but have to have their hands free. I think that having your hands free should give you a penalty to your defense. Parrying and shields are an important part of not getting hit. I also like that people know when channeling is happening. I like that it's not subtle. (I stole that idea from Carrie, which I just read for the first time.)

I like that all the spells are basically level 1, and you can level them up. I think this model goes towards helping fight the quadratic wizard problem.

I have plans for patterns that require multiple elemental affinities and multiple threads to be woven into them. For example, lightning would be air and fire, controlling the weather could be air and water, etc. But this post is already long, and I don't want to go too far out of scope.

Braid tugging intensifies.