Saturday, April 13, 2019

Have Spells, Will Travel (The Spellslinger)

The Calladaris men sniggered at the stranger as he walked up the street toward them. He wore no steel, but there was something in the way he moved; a confidence that said he might not need it. He stopped in the street, and tucked a thumb through his belt. An errant breeze flipped the long coat he wore, making it snap.

"I hate to interrupt, but I'm going to need you all to apologize to my horse for earlier," he said.

"You what?" Crassan goggled, staring at the man as if he'd lost his mind.

"I know you all were just having a bit of fun," he said, waving a hand back toward where his horse was cropping grass at the rail. "But he's very sensitive. We just got into town, and I don't want this hanging over his head."

"Look, friend, I don't know what sort of fun you're trying to have, but it ends here," Duran said, stepping down off the porch. "So go back to that sorry looking animal, and-"

Before Duran could finish what he was going to say, the stranger took his hand off his belt, and pointed. A pinprick of light shot forward, burrowing into Duran's forehead. Blood spilled down his face, and his jaw fell open. Two more star embers hammered forward, smashing into his chest. Duran stood there for a moment, then collapsed into a heap in the gutter. The stranger uncurled the rest of his fingers, fanning them out toward the gang, all of their hands freezing around their hilts.

"Does anyone else want to suggest what I should go do?" he asked, his voice pleasant. "Or will you say you're sorry?"

I asked you kindly. I ain't asking again.

The Spellslinger

Magic is a potent tool, and those who can wield it through training, birthright, or bargain often find they have a weapon deadlier than any steel blade. While some use this power responsibly, and others use it to further their own ends, the spellslinger is a unique case. Roving mercenaries, wands-for-hire, enforcers, thugs, and occasional heroes, these wielders of the arcane and divine rely on the speed and power of their incantations to win the day over any foe.

Unlike scholarly masters of the arcane, spellslingers are down-and-dirty casters. They utilize every advantage they can get, from mystical tattoos to enhance their raw power, to keeping a brace of wands on-hand should they need a little extra boost. They also tend to use sleeve sheaths as a way to keep their necessities ready for a quick draw. While they may be looked down on by more serious students of the magical arts, there is no denying that weaponizing magic in such a visceral way puts these casters in quite a demand from those looking to add some serious firepower to their ranks.

Where Do Spellslingers Come From?

Spellslingers can come from any kind of magical background. As an example, someone might be a self-taught magician, cobbling together just enough knowledge from stolen spellbooks to be really dangerous if they're cornered. Others might have been apprenticed to more senior spellcasters, possibly another spellslinger, acting as a kind of squire. Still others may have been born with their power, simply finding a way to use what they have to their advantage. And some may have been trained by elite academies, or even military units like the Acolytes of Arannis mentioned in 100 Random Mercenary Companies. There are even some spellslingers, it's rumored, who made deals with outside forces to be granted their gifts.

As to spellslingers themselves, they come from all races, and all walks of life. Though the path is particularly appealing to those who find themselves outcast, and looking to carve a life for themselves. Forcefully, if necessary.

One of the most important features of a spellslinger, though, is who they work for (or are willing to work for). Some spellslingers might be the proverbial man with no name, blowing into town, doing their part to help out with their skills, and then heading back down the road. Others might sell their services to bandit gangs or pirate crews, making their outfits significantly deadlier. Some might take work as bounty hunters, or even allow themselves to be deputized by the local law... for a time, at least. Some may even be trying to atone for past sins, using their magic for noble causes to help balance out whatever acts they committed in the past. Acts that may have even put a price on their head. Spellslingers rarely stay in one place for long, though. Their skills often mean there's always someone in need of their aid... or who's willing to pay more, for those whose loyalty can be bought with treasure.

Those looking for possible background connections, gangs, and crews mentioned above might find 100 Random Bandits to Meet as well as 100 Pirates to Encounter to be excellent places to start digging.

Build Advice For A Spellslinger

Spellslingers use magic as a weapon, but that doesn't mean their only spells are damage-dealing. A spellslinger necromancer might sap the energy from his foes, sending them fleeing in terror, for example. A spellslinger who prefers conjuration might pull fell beasts from the pit, and sic them on their foes. Even spellslinger transmuters might turn their foes into something wet and squishy with a brush of their fingertips, and illusionists might make it impossible for their foes to trust their senses.

However, whatever form your spellslinger takes, there are some things you should have on-hand.

First, you want to make sure your spells are as potent as possible. That's why feats like Spell Focus and Varisian Tattoo (or Magic Tattoo for those using the PFSRD) are typically at the top of your priority list. Anything that boosts your caster level, or the DCs on your spells, means your foes will save less often, and you'll do more damage. 3 Tips For Boosting Your Caster Level in Pathfinder as well as How to Increase Spell DCs in Pathfinder both have additional resources for you, as well.

In addition to potency, you want speed on your side. A high initiative is a necessity for a spellslinger who wants to live to fight another day. A lot of your initiative boosting resources can be found in How to Top The Initiative Order Almost Every Time, but one that I didn't mention there is the Warrior Priest feat for divine casters. It gives you a +1 bonus on Initiative checks, and a +2 on casting spells on the defensive, or while grappled.

That's all for this installment of Unusual Character Concepts. Hopefully this one gave you something to chew over, whether you're a player, or a dungeon master.

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  1. So no comment on the actual Spellslinger Archetype which blends Spellcasting and Black powder for Whiz-Bang fun?

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