Chromatic Casting

Friday, April 18, 2014

Here are some things about me that are relevant to this article:
1) I love playing tabletop RPGs in general, and Pathfinder in particular.
2) I am a freelance writer for Dreamscarred Press, one of the best 3rd party publishers (or 3pp) currently producing material for Pathfinder.
3) I’m really big on talking up the work of other 3pp’s and freelance designers publishing their own additions to the game.

Super Genius Games, and now the splinter company Rogue Genius games, are a 3pp for the Pathfinder Roleplaying game, following the motto “We err on the side of awesome!”. Once upon a time I went on a binge where I bought almost every Super Genius Games PDF available on the Paizo site and I've slowly been separating the wheat from the chaff ever since. Their Mosaic Mage PDF is definite wheat.

The Mosaic Mage takes basically every school and subschool of magic, chops them up, color codes them, and then makes you pick the color you want to go with. Red, for example, has access to conjuration (healing) spells, spells with the fire descriptor, all evocation spells without specific energy descriptors, and a few other options. My friend likes to refer to this as the "Magic the Gathering" style of spellcasting, though the basic premise is well represented in other modern fiction, like Brent Weeks' Lightbringer novels.
In addition to a color (or sub-color) you get a selection of abilities based on the color chosen. These abilities range from the awesome to the mundane, though are all generally useful.

I liked this class so much that I often replace the normal core casters (particularly the Wizard and Sorcerer) with Mosaic Mages, making the color based casting the standard for my campaign world. There's a big reason I don't do this all the time though. The core books don't categorize non-Wizard spells by school. All spells still fall into a particular school, but for the divine and 3/4 or 1/2 caster spell lists you've got to sift through. 

You learn some interesting things, like which spells you were sure belonged to one subschool actually don't, but it can be a bit of a pain and nothing in this document helps the search. There's also quite a few colors where you'll be struggling to find spells that match your available spell types to fill up your spells known for that level. Between all of the Paizo core books there were exactly enough spells for my 0 level spells known when building a Red Mosaic Mage, and I had to dig a bit to scrounge up a decent array of the other low level spells as well. Mid level spells (like 3rd through 6th) were very robust and well supported, but as I reached the far end of things I was back to scrounging a bit. 

All of this digging and the lack of some kind of tool or reference guide in the core document is the entire reason I gave this product a 3 star review on the Paizo site. If there were a basic reference document for the spells by level available to the prime colors, even if it were just the spells from the Paizo Core Rulebook, this would be an easy 4. If they updated the .pdf to add in the spell lists from the other Paizo core products like the Advanced Player’s Guide and Ultimate Magic, it'd be a 5. As it is, the research necessary to put a spell list together relegates this to a class best left to experienced players.