Strange Magic Expanded – The Elegist
This expansion to the absolutely superb Strange Magic-book clocks in at 41 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial/ToC, 1 page of SRD, leaving us with 38 pages of content, so let’s take a look, shall we?
An elegy is defined as a poem of serious reflection, usually written in elegiac couplets, often pertaining themes of death, existential dread etc. – with a traditional 3-part structure that features descriptio, lamentatio and consolatio – native speakers of English add a simple “n” and their function becomes pretty self-apparent. Now lyric comes from “lyra” and thus it should be no surprise to see the connotation and three-part structure making for a natural fit for the system of composition magic introduced in Strange Magic.
The elegist is a new base class that gets 1/2 BAB-progression, good Will-saves and begins play with 2 scores (scaling up to 5) and 1 melody per score (also scaling up to 5), with 3rd level unlocking 1st level spells, scaling up to 6th. Spells the elegist learns are drawn from the mesmerist spell list and obviously are psychic spells – after all, flavor-wise, the elegist takes his powers from the communion with the dead. Charisma is the governing attribute for the elegist’s spellcasting. Elegists can cast each spell he knows exactly 1/day, with high Charisma instead adding new spells known. At 7th level and every 3 levels thereafter, the elegist may change a known spell to another of the same level or lower, though only spells of one level below his maximum spell level may be replaced thus. Spells are treated as spontaneous spells for all other purposes.
The elegist gets d6 HD and 4+Int skills per level. Intelligence governs his scores, with bonus scores at 1st level equal to Int-mod/3, rounded down. Each score must contain an intro, a melody and an outro, with third level and every 5 levels thereafter allowing for the addition of another melody to a given score, with 5th level and every 6 levels thereafter providing a bonus score.
The elegist gets a bit more MAD; though – to prepare or use a score, the elegist needs to have a Wisdom-score equal to 12 + number of melodies in the score, with save DC- being equal to 10 + 1/2 class level + Wis-mod. As established, compositions do not need to be refreshed via composition books, though changing them requires the support of said notes. The composition book begins with 3 intros/outros as well as 1+Wis-mod melodies, min 1. Each level grants one intro or outro as well as one melody and learning compositions follows pretty much a means akin to learning spells, with a cost of 100 gp times the composition’s minimum level.
So far, so basic – at 1st level, the elegist gains the communion class feature, which allows the elegist to select a composer spirit, following taboos and rules somewhat akin to how the spirit influence on the medium class works. Not heeding a personality quirk results in dissonance, with 3 or higher locking the elegist out of the spirit’s benevolent abilities , while also penalizing the elegist with -1 to composer level per dissonance point accrued. If the elegist reaches 3 dissonance, he must wait 24 hours to obtain a new composer spirit. At 10th level, the legist chooses a secondary spirit that only grants the 1st level ability, though they share the dissonance pool.
Conducting compositions works as always; should you require a break-down of how that works, please consult my reviews of Ultimate Composition etc. At 2nd level, the elegist gains a +1 deflection bonus to AC that increases by a further +1 at 4th level and every 4 levels thereafter. Since this protection is granted by the ghostly presences surrounding him, a 10th level elegist can, as an immediate action, project this bonus to another willing creature within 60 ft. as an immediate action. However, thereafter, the bonus is lost for 1 minute before reinstating itself…at least until 19th level, where the elegist continues to benefit from the bonus while outsourcing his deflection and where the cool-down no longer is required.
Also at 2nd level, the elegist may scribe folios from which composers may prepare compositions (basically scrolls for the system) and, as a capstone, the class no longer gains dissonance, instead gaining +2 to atk, skills and saves when taking a new spirit, until he first would take dissonance, whereupon the bonuses vanish. That’s it – no more penalties.
The pdf provides a total of 10 composer spirits, who generally grant bonuses at 1st,m 4th and 7th level, though the 4th level-ability is upgraded at 14th. The first of these, Brother Francis, provides healing (not the biggest fan here, but oh well) and the option to play a score for a single ally, who, however, may benefit from all melodies contained as though they had been taken an additional time. Finally, the spirit grants a musica sacra at 7th level, usable 1/day as a full-level cantor.
Chordius Marigold can shout his music, with a conical effect instead, choosing whether to apply the benefits to the elegist every time, with higher levels providing lingering effects after the end of a composition, provided you do not immediately restart another composition – at least until 14th level. Immunity to the deafened composition is also included. The dervish lets you increase the range of your compositions as a move action and 4th level allows you to introduce a counterpoint, a single-melody, intro- and outro-less composition that may be woven into a given already active composition, with 14th level unlocking a second counterpoint. 7th level nets a refrain, which contains melodies equal to the score in effect, replacing temporarily the effects of the melodies f the ongoing composition at the cost of deducting 1 round from the duration of the score currently being conducted.
Lady Moon allows you to affect either only undead or everything but the undead and at 4th level, creatures affected gain Cha-mod resistance to negative or positive energy, respectively. 7th level allows the elegist to affect mindless undead as though they were not mindless and 14th level provides temporary hit points to all affected. Memed Labingi increases the DC by +1 versus adjacent creatures and allows you to emit a 5-feet pushing boost when letting a composition peter out, with 14th level increasing range and adding damage. 7th level nets DR equal to the number of non-ally creatures adjacent.
Sherman Smith gets a wizard cantrip and cleric orison at-will, with 4th level providing both a 1st level spell for both lists, but with each cast decreasing rounds remaining from your composition. 7th level upgrades composition conduction duration by 2 rounds and 14th level nets 3rd level spells. Sir Alphonse Worthington III, Esq. is a bit special – this spirit requires you to ALWAYS use his full name and begin with the masterpiece as first score…and after just one slight, he’s gone…not 3 shots and out. One slight. However, he grants bonuses to saves versus compositions, performances, etc. 4th level nets the aforementioned masterpiece, which has an added melody slot, +2 slots at 14th level. Finally, if all creatures save versus the intro or outro of the masterpiece, you gain 1 temporary conducting round for the masterpiece. Btw.: These taboo-like restrictions are always pretty creative: Sherman Smith, the spellcasting spirit, needs you to alternate the SPs from cleric and wizard-lists, for example.
Theodore Beauregard…nets you fast healing 1 when conducting, 2 at 13th level. This quite a lot healing…not the biggest fan here. 4th level provides 15 ft. perfect maneuverability fly speed while conducting (30 ft. at 14th level) and 7th level nets immunity to mind-affecting effects while conducting. Thurg add dodge bonuses to allies affected by your scores and allows you to trigger intros or outros as a swift action, with 14th level adding movement to the action. Additionally, outros of scores lasting at least 4 rounds become harder to resist, requiring the reroll of the save and taking the worse result. The final spirit, Varas the Ruthless, requires you to stand your ground after being charged and adds sonic damage to your weapons (upgrades at 13th level), with 4th level making a specific melody in a score that requires a save hard to resist, requiring two saves and taking the worse result if the score has been performed for 3+ rounds. This restriction is eliminated at 14th level and 7th level provides sonic resistance. All in all, I liked these creative spirits and when I noticed issues, they pertained personal taste rather than true issues…and the flavor and quirks of the spirits are truly delightful. I certainly hope we’ll see more of these spirits one day!
The class comes with extensive favored class options for the core races, aasimar, drow, fetchlings, hobgoblins, kitsune, kobolds, orcs, puddlings, tieflings, vanara and vishkanya. From combining outros with alchemical flask throwing to DR/slashing while composing, these FCOs are creative and fun.
The class also gets a unique archetype – the Amplifier, which may also be applied to the breakdancer class. Communion is granted at 1st level for breakdancers and stacks with elegist levels. The amplifier gets the rhythm mechanic: +1 rhythm when conducting a score; +0 when within the AoE of bardic performance/composition, -1 rhythm when in neither bardic or composition AoE, with max rhythm equal to the amplifier’s Dex-mod. At 1st level, each spirit bound to the amplifier gains a single score with no intro or outro, but 1/2 the number of melodies allows for the base amplifier’s scores, min 1. When the amplifier is not conducting a score or opus, musica sacra, etc., the spirit may instead conduct this score for a total of amplifier’s composer level + Wis-mod, with dissonance being problematic, obviously. For breakdancers, this consumes the dance moves at 1st, 4th, 8th, 12th and 16th level and elegists lose spectral presence. At 12th level, the amplifier gets two composer spirits, basically postponing (I *think*) the ability usually gained at 10th level – the wording here could be a bit clearer: “This does not stack with the secondary spirit gained by an elegist at 10th level.”
The Elegist also features information for Pathfinder Unchained’s Variant Multiclassing-rules and a handy compatibility-list of other composition archetypes with the elegist class, providing some nice notes on how to change the archetypes in question where required. The pdf also features a number of 10 new compositions: Danse Macabre lets you affect undead creatures with mind-affecting effects. Downtrod generates an undead-bolstering zone, while the graveyard dirge lets you go Michael Jackson’s Thriller, animating the recently deceased as zombies for the duration of the composition. Inspire Grief provides the chances to add the shaken condition to all that take damage, while lament of the unclaimed lets you and your allies deal full damage to the incorporeal. Make Amends lets long-lasting compositions decrease dissonance and Sepulchral Tone concludes your score with a blast of negative energy. The Crossing leeches minor hit points from the adjacent for temporary hit points. (As a nitpick – the composition is called performance here once.) The Dutiful Paladin enhances weapons versus the undead and, finally, Upswell would be the positive-energy-based, good mirror of the evil Downtrod.
“But I don’t have/want to buy Ultimate Composition/Strange Magic!” Well, you’re in luck, for the whole list of compositions – you know, the massive array, is reprinted herein as well – tantalizingly hinting at classes like the harmonicist, to give you one example. The addition of this massive array of options means that this book works perfectly as a stand-alone offering – though obviously, it does gain something by use in conjunction with Strange Magic.
Editing and formatting are very good, as I’ve come to expect from Interjection Games. Layout adheres to the 2-column b/w-standard established for composition magic, with a neat blend of thematic public domain art that fits the theme. The pdf comes with minimalist bookmarks – table, spells known, that’s it – while a few are better than none, this does make the class slightly less user-friendly than it could be.
Bradley Crouch and Jason Linker, at the request of Sasha Hall, have created a unique class utilizing the Strange Magic system. Why unique? Because, honestly, once you’ve understood how the composition system works, it pretty much is an easy class to understand. This is, design-wise, basically the medium, as adapted to the composition spellcasting system, with spirits that are more interesting and, in theme, closer to the evocative pact magic than to the bland mythic-based ones the medium usually gets. This is a good thing in my book and the spirits easily were my favorite part. Similarly, the synergy with the breakdancer, with the melee-centric spirits and archetype was something I really enjoyed. The elegist playing experience is interesting, though vanilla elegists are pretty MAD – you need all 3 mental attributes to excel in all systems, requiring you to prioritize components. This, perhaps, does account the relative high “to build”-complexity rating, though veterans of composition magic should probably consider this to e closer to 2 instead; at least after realizing that the spirits act basically as flexible micro-archetypes. Now personally, I am not the biggest fan of the healing options and there were some minor wording-instances where the pdf was precise, but could have used a tad bit more precision – but ultimately, that is just me being a very spoiled bastard of a reviewer.
Anyways, to sum it up, thematically, I loved the elegist and the tying into psychic spells adds a unique dimension to the class I ended up enjoying. I wished it did a bit more with the spirits, but what’s here is certainly damn cool.
This, in short, is a welcome addition to the composition system and a fun class and I certainly hope there’ll be more spirits in the future, for their unique tricks and the dissonance mechanic’s potential are anything but tapped. My final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, in spite of the few minor hiccups – this is a great class and personal tastes and emphasis shouldn’t influence the verdict too much.
You can get this unique class here on OBS!
Want your unique, custom material or just a discount on the things to come? Interjection Games’ patreon offers just that here!
Oh, and guess what? Interjection games has just kickedstarted the sequel to the legendary Strange Magic – this time around for both Pathfinder and 5e! You can take a look at the KS here!