At its core, the Spellthief character class (from Complete Adventurer) has an interesting concept. A sneaky, skill-based character with a signature ability to steal the spellcasting from opponents. The problem is the implementation was poor. What was created was a class that tried to focus on too many things, a backup for nearly any character role, but one that never truly shined.
The Spellthief, RAW, wants lots of attacks, but is hampered with a rogue's BAB, half sneak attack progress, and a sorcerer's weapon proficiency, and the need to focus on both magical and martial abilities. The spellthief wants to be in the midst of action, in order to be able to flank, but gets nothing to assist their surviving long enough to make a difference. They want to be able to absorb spells cast at them, but they have 2 poor saves (the prerequisite to being able to absorb a cast spell).
There are other issues. The skill list is bizarre; They get Escape Artist, Jump, and Tumble, but not Balance or Climb. They get Sense Motive, Bluff, Gather Information, Knowledge(local), and Speak Language, but not Diplomacy or Disguise. They get Sneak Attacks but not Heal. They get Open locks, Disable Device, Hide, Bluff, but not Sleight of hand. Bluff, Decipher Script, Speak Languages, and Gather information, but not Forgery.
This doesn't even begin to address how poorly the Spellthief can multiclass or how bad prestige classes are for them.
The Spellthief is fine as a 5th character in a party, but I'd rather see them playable as a second-tier caster class (e.g. The Bard) with decent skill selection and enough martial abilities to be effective.
|Lv l||BAB||Fort||Ref/ Will||Special||ER||Spell Strike|
|Base||Med||Poor||Good||Rogue Weapons & Armor, Armored Mage, Eschew Stolen Materials|
|1||+0||+0||+2||Spellcasting, Steal Spells, Stolen Pool, Trapfinding||+1d4|
|2||+1||+0||+3||Steal Spell Effect, Spellgrace, Stolen Talents|
|4||+3||+1||+4||Steal Energy Resistance||10|
|6||+4||+2||+5||Uncanny Dodge, Stolen Talents|
|10||+7||+3||+7||Evasion, Stolen Talents|
|12||+9||+4||+8||Steal Spell Resistance||20|
|13||+9||+4||+8||Improved Discover Spells, Pierce Magical Defenses||+7d4|
|14||+10||+4||+9||Improved Uncanny Dodge, Stolen Talents|
|18||+13||+6||+11||Mettle, Improved Pierce Magical Defenses, Practiced Absorption|
|20||+15||+6||+12||Steal Damage Reduction||30|
Alignment: no restriction
Hit die: d6
Starting Gold: (Does Anyone ever really use this?)
Skill points: 6 + Int Mod
Same as the Rogue class:
A Spellthief does not suffer from Arcane Spell Failure due to wearing light armor.
As per the Eschew Materials feat, but only applies to spells that have been added to the Spellthief's Known Spell list via Steal Spells. The spellthief still needs to provide any inexpensive material components for known Spellthief spells, and a multi-classes Spellthief needs material components for spells from any other casting class.
Table: Spells Slots per Day/Spellthief Spells Known
A Spellthief has some inherent ability to spontaneously cast spells, but their breadth of spell knowledge is limited compared to their casting ability. A spellthief naturally gains knowledge of spells at the same rate as a Bard does. While they may add additional spells to their list of spells known via their Steal Spell ability (of any spell level they can cast, regardless of if the spell was Arcane or Divine) but they can never have more spell added to their spells known than half their class level (rounded down, minimum 1). All spells that a Spell Thief casts are considered to be Arcane, even if the spell knowledge was stolen from a Divine caster.
A spellthief has the same number of casting slots per day as a Wizard of the same class level. This means that except at class levels 2 and 4, a spellthief can only use their highest level slots to cast stolen spells.
Spellthief's cast spells using their Charisma modifier; they get bonus spell slots based on their charisma, and their spells have a saving throw DC of 10 + spell level + Cha Modifier.
A spellthief, without using Steal Spell, has access to a limited spell list – they may only learn spells from the Wizard/Sorcerer spell-list from the Abjuration, Divination, Enchantment, Illusion, or Transmutation schools.
A spellthief's magic is focused on stolen, rather than innate, power. While Spellthieves may learn Metamagic Feats normally, they cannot apply any metamagic feat to their known spells (from this class) by altering the level of the spell slot used. This restriction is partially overcome when they gain the Steal Metamagic Class Feature.
A Spellthief can siphon spell energy away from a target. For a willing target, this is relatively quick – a Spellthief can simply touch a willing target to take a spell (as move action which provokes an attack of opportunity), or use a swift action to steal a spell-like ability from themselves (if they have other casting classes or other sources of magical power).
Against an unwilling target, the spellthief can only steal spells using a Spellstrike (see below). Steal Spell may be used in two similar ways – and 'Stealing Spell Knowledge'.
Stealing an Instance of a Spell: When making a Spellstrike, a Spellthief can steal an instance of a spell by giving up one of their Spellstrike dice (that is, rolling one fewer Spellstrike die than they are entitled to roll). A Spell stolen in this manner is temporarily added to the Spellthief's 'Known Spells' and remains there until the Spellthief Casts the stolen Spell or for 1 hour per Spellthief's Charisma Bonus, whichever comes first.
Stealing Spell Knowledge: When making a Spellstrike, a Spellthief can steal knowledge of a spell by giving up all of their Spellstrike dice (that is, rolling no Spellstrike dice). A Spell stolen in this manner is added to the Spellthief's 'Known Spells' for as long as the Spellthief wishes; a Spellthief is limited to a number of spells learned this way to half their class level (Minimum 1) ; learning a spell beyond that requires forgetting a spell learned this way (That is, removing it from the list of Spells Known).
Regardless of the method of Spell Stealing used, some effects are identical. In both cases, the spellthief may choose to steal a specific spell; if they do not specify or the target does not have that spell memorized, the spellthief instead steals a spell of the highest level known by the target that the spellthief can cast (An 11th level Spellthief would steal a 6th level spell from a level 13 Wizard, as the spellthief could not cast a stolen 7th level spell) and the Spellthief gains energy to their Stolen Spell Pool equal to the level of the spell. If the target has the spell memorized, a single instance of the spell is removed from the target's memory. If the target does not have the spell memorized but can spontaneously cast it, the target expends a use of spell slot of the appropriate level and has their ability to spontaneously cast that spell suppressed for 10 minutes per Charisma Bonus of the Spellthief. (If the Spellthief casts the stolen spell during that time, the target immediately regains their access to casting the spell Spontaneously).
As long as a Spell remains on a Spellthief's 'Spells Known' list, they may use Spell Trigger and Spell Completion items for that spell. The spellthief can also create magic items using Stolen Spell Knowledge, but cannot do so with Stolen Spell Instances.
If the target only has available spells of too high a level for the Spellthief to steal, the spellthief learns this, but gains no other advantage. However, this does not count as using a Spellstrike against a creature with no steal-able abilities, with respect to granting the target a saving throw (See Spellstrike. ) If the stolen spell had any metamagical effects applied, the stolen instance retains any and all metamagical effects (and effective level) when the Spellthief casts it. However, if Spell Knowledge was stolen, the Spellthief only learns the base spell, not the metamagic version.
If a spellthief gains a 0th level spell through this ability, they gain access to the spell as normal but they gain no energy to their stolen spell pool.
A Spellthief can steal Spell Like Abilities in the same manner as Stealing a Spell Instance, as long as the Spell-Like Ability has an effective spell level that the Spellthief can steal. The Spellthief suppresses the Spell-Like Ability just as if it were a spontaneous caster's spell, and consumes a single use of the foes ability. The Spellthief does not gain any spell energy; however, the Spell Thief can use the stolen ability once, changing the ability to be Charisma-based instead of whatever attribute the original ability was.
A spellthief can only steal spells and spell-like abilities from creatures, not from objects. Thus a spell thief cannot steal a 'magic missile' from a wand of magic missiles. (If a spellthief wishes to try to steal a spell from an intelligent item or artifact, more power to them).
A Spellthief can only attempt to steal one Spell or one Spell-Like Ability per Target per Round. The Spellthief must specify if they are attempting to steal a Spell or a Spell-Like Ability when they choose which Spellstrike dice to surrender.
Spell energy that a Spellthief gains gets added to their Stolen Pool. A Spellthief's Stolen Pool has a limit of energy equal to the Spellthief's unmodified Caster Level, and empties when the spellthief rests long enough to recover spells.
Stolen spell energy can be used to cast any spell the Spellthief knows. A spell takes its level of spell energy to cast, and must either be cast totally from stolen spell energy or from a Spellthief's available spell slots; the two cannot be combined. A spellthief can never use more stolen energy to cast a spell than their highest class-based spell slot (total, not necessarily available; that is a Spellthief that can cast a 7th level spell may not use more than 7 points of stolen energy to cast a spell even if they used all of their available 7th level slots for the day).
A Spellthief is capable of making a Spellstrike, which is a mystically infused melee attack, against unprepared targets. In order to make a Spellstrike, the target of the attack must be:
A Spellstrike may be dealt via a touch attack, in which case it deals no damage beyond the Spellstrike (e.g. no unarmed strike damage, no extra damage from Strength); a Spellstrike never provokes an attack of opportunity from the target, but if the Spellthief is otherwise unarmed (no weapon in off hand, no natural weapons, no Improved Unarmed Strike), the attack provokes normally from anyone else threatening the Spellthief. Alternatively, a Spellstrike may be dealt via any other method that the Spellthief can use to deliver a touch spell (using Improved Unarmed Strike, via a Natural Weapon or Gauntlet, delivered by a Familiar with the ability, or using an appropriate class feature from another class). A Spellstrike can be made against any creature in a position to be denied their Dexterity or flanked, regardless of their susceptibility to Sneak Attack damage. Thus, for the purposes of a Spellstrike, immunity to sneak attacks from uncanny dodge, canny dodge, concealment, or cover do apply, but immunity from creature type or fortification does not. For purposes of determining the effectiveness of Improved (Un)Canny Dodge, a Spellthief is treated as a Rogue of the same level. If the Spellthief has levels in another class (such as Rogue) that can overcome Improved Uncanny Dodge, all of those levels are combined to determine the character's effectiveness.
A Spellthief may use abilities that Modify Sneak Attack to modify their Spellstrike dice, and qualifies for abilities (e.g. feats, prestige classes) that require Sneak Attack as long as they are not _ranged attack_ or _ranged touch attack_ based.
If the Spellthief makes a Spellstrike against a creature which the Spellthief could not steal something from, the creature gets a Fortitude saving throw (DC 10 + half the spellthief's class level + Cha Mod) to halve the spellstrike damage. It does not matter if the Spellthief chooses to steal something or not, just if they could choose something to successfully steal. If the spellstrike is delivered via a method that does damage on its own, the saving throw has no effect on the base damage. This saving throw applies not only creatures who never have abilities that the Spellthief could steal, but also to any creature that has expended all of their relevant abilities and/or has had those abilities suppressed by Spellthieves.
As per normal rules.
Beginning at 2nd Level, a spellthief can siphon an active spell effect from another creature. In order to steal a spell effect, the Spellthief must make a successful Spellstrike against the target and surrender a die of Spellstrike damage. A Spellthief can steal a Spell Effect from a willing target, without making a Spellstrike, as a move-equivalent action that provokes an attack of opportunity.
The spellthief can specify a single spell effecting the target to steal. If they do not specify, or that spell is not affecting the target, they steal a random spell from those effecting the target that the spellthief can steal. The spellthief can steal any spell effect which has a caster level no higher than the Spellthief's class level plus their charisma modifier. The Spellthief gains the spell effects (and suppresses them on the target) for 1 minute per class level. If the spell effect persists past this time, the original target gains the effect back.
A Spellthief can steal the effects of a spell only if the Spellthief could have stolen and cast the spell upon themselves. For instance, a Human spellthief could not steal the effects of an Animal Growth spell, but could steal a Hold Person or a Divine power. If the Spellthief is an illegal target for a spell, the Spellthief still suppresses the spell effects on the target for a minute per class level. A Spellthief may not make a saving throw against any stolen spell effects, but any Spell Resistance is applied. A spellthief can only try to steal an instantaneous spell effect if they are adjacent to the caster or the target, and have an action readied to do so. Even then, the Spellthief must make a successful Spellstrike (on either the target or caster) and also beat the caster on a Caster Power check in order to steal the effect.
This effect does not work on spells effects that are immune to Dispel Magic, such as Bestow Curse. A spellthief can only steal one spell effect per successful usage of a spell strike.
A spellthief of 2nd level or higher adds their Charisma Bonus to all saving throws against spells and spell like effects.
At 2nd level, a Spellthief gains additional skill ranks equal to their Charisma Modifier (if positive). This ranks are used in the same manner as skill ranks gained for each class level, and have the same maximums. If the Spellthief's Charisma Modifier ever is permanently raised, they gain an additional skill rank (or ranks) immediately.
For every 4 subsequent levels, the Spellthief gains the same number of additional skill ranks.
At 3rd level, Spellcasters that the Spellthief could hit with a Spellstrike may not cast spells defensively. Spellcasters become aware of this effect during their first attempt to cast and may choose to not cast the spell (and keep the spell slot/memorized instance) rather than complete the spell. They lose the action used to cast the spell in this case.
Beginning at 4th level, a Spellthief can siphon off some or all of a target's resistance to an energy type. The spellthief can surrender a die worth of damage from a Spellstrike and instead gain resistance 10 to an energy type to which the target is resistant. Alternatively, if the target is willing, this can be done as a move equivalent action that provokes an attack of opportunity.
The spellthief cannot gain more resistance than the target originally had. The target's resistance is also lowered by 10 (to a minimum of 0), for the duration. A creature with immunity retains immunity, although the spellthief does gain as much energy resistance to the stolen energy type as they can steal. The spellthief can choose a type of resistance to steal; if the target does not have that kind of resistance or the spellthief does not choose, they steal a randomly determined resistance (from the resistances and immunities the creature possesses).
At every additional 4 levels, a spellthief increases the maximum amount of resistance stolen by 5, but must surrender an additional die for every 10 Energy Resistance stolen (to 20 for 2 dice at 12th and 30 for 3 dice at 20th); a spellthief can choose how many dice to surrender after determining the success of the Spellstrike but before rolling damage.
A Spellthief can combine Steal Spell, Steal Spell Effect, and Steal Energy Resistance, in any combination, on a single Spellstrike, but must surrender dice for all used effects.
At 5th level, when a Spellthief steals a spell from a creature using Steal Spell, they automatically learn the names of all other spells prepared or known by the spellcaster that are of the same spell level as the stolen spell. This knowledge allows the spellthief to better choose which spells to steal on subsequent attacks.
As per Normal Rules.
At 7th Level, when a Spellthief makes a successful save against a spell that targets only the spellthief, the character can attempt to absorb the spell for later use. A spellthief cannot absorb a spell of a level that they could not steal.
To successfully absorb a spell, the spellthief must succeed on a caster level check (1d20 + spellthief caster level) against a DC of 10 + the spell's caster level. A spellthief may spend points of stolen magical energy to gain a bonus on this check; the spellthief cannot spend more than 1/2 the class level in points. Upon absorbing a spell, the spellthief gain energy equal to the spell's level and may treat the spell as if it were stolen. If this caster level check was a natural 20, the Spellthief may choose to learn the spell indefinitely.
Attempting to absorb a spell but failing causes the Spellthief to suffer the results of the spell as if their saving throw had failed.
If the spellthief absorbs a spell from a persistent magical item (Ring of invisibility), it also suppresses the magic item from working, for the Spellthief only, for a 24 hour period.
A Spellthief of 8th level gains the ability to make an additional number or Attacks of Opportunity equal to their Dexterity bonus, for purposes of disrupting a spell only. If the Spell Thief has or gains the Combat Reflexes feat, any Attacks of Opportunity to disrupt spellcasting they make in a round does not count towards their limit.
This ability may NOT be used to qualify for abilities that require Combat Reflexes.
Beginning at 9th level, a spellthief can use arcane sight as a swift action a number of times per day equal to his Charisma modifier (minimum 1). The spellthief uses their normal caster level for this ability.
As per Normal Rules.
At 11th level, a Spellthief can begin to take advantage of metamagic. While the Spellthief does not gain the ability to use higher level spell-slots to cast metamagic-infused spells, they do learn how to Steal Metamagic Abilities and fuel metamagic with their stolen spell energy.
A spellthief may, upon a successful spellstrike, reduce their spell-strike to steal knowledge of the metamagic from a caster (or a creature with other abilities that can be affected by metamagic feats, such as an Artificer). This power does not work with Metamagic-like abilities that affect spell like abilities, only (e.g. Quicken Spell-Like Ability).
On a successful Spellstrike, a Spellthief may reduce their spellstrike damage by one die (i.e. reduce the number of dice the spellstrike uses by one die). The spellthief may attempt to steal a specific metamagic ability. If the target does not have that metamagic ability, or if the Spellthief does not specify, they steal a random metamagic knowledge from the target. If the target does not have any metamagic knowledge, the Spellthief learns this, but still does one die fewer damage. A Spellthief may attempt to steal metamagic only once per round, but may combine stealing abilities in the same strike if they wish (e.g. a spellthief reduce their spellstrike by 2 dice in order to steal both a spell and metamagic knowledhe from a target).
When absorbing metamagic, the spellthief will absorb (i.e. remove) the metamagic effect from the highest level spell memorized with the target metamagic applied. The target retains the spell memorized with any other metamagic abilities still applied. In this case, the Spellthief gains spell energy equal to the level adjustment that the feat normally applies to a spell (in the case of Heighten Spell, the energy is the actual level adjustment applied). Regardless, the Spellthief gains the ability to apply that metamagic feat to spells they cast by spending additional spell energy equal to the level adjustment of the metamagic feat, and suppresses the ability to spontaneously cast the metamagic feat in the target, for one minute per Spellthief's Charisma Modifier. If the Spellthief knows the feat, they may apply the metamagic feat as many times as they wish (and as long as they have stolen spell energy to spend) for that time period. If the Spellthief does not know the metamagic feat in question, their ability to apply its effects, and the suppression in the target, ends after the spelltheif uses the metamagic feat once.
A spellthief may not apply metamagic to a spell via this ability if the resulting combination would normally require a 10th level spell slot, or higher.
The spellthief may not use their natural spell slots to apply the metamagic, only stolen spell energy. The casting time for any spell the Spellthief attaches stolen metamagic to does not inherently increase (i.e. the Spellthief cast use stolen knowledge of Quicken and Rapid Spell, apply a metamagic feat does not increase a standard-action spell to a full round action).
Beginning at 12th level, a spellthief can siphon off some or all of a creature's spell resistance. The spellthief must surrender half of their Spellstrike dice (rounding down) to reduce the target's spell resistance by 5. The spellthief also gains spell resistance equal to 5 + their Spellthief class level (up to a maximum value equal to the original spell resistance of the target). If the target is willing, a spellthief can steal spell resistance with a touch as a move action.
The stolen spell resistance benefits the spellthief for a number of rounds equal to the spellthief's Charisma modifier (minimum 1 round) and then returns to the target creature. If the spell resistance is derived from a temporary effect (such as a spell), the stolen spell resistance disappears when the effect elapses. A spellthief can't use this ability on the same creature again until the creature's stolen spell resistance returns.
(At 16th level, the Spellthief lowers the targets SR by 10, rather than 5, and gains SR 10 + class level. At 20th level, this lowers by 15 and gains SR 15+class level. Regardless, of the Spellthief's level, the spellthief cannot set its SR to higher than the original SR of the target creature.
At 14th level, when a Spellthief steals a spell from a creature using Steal Spell, they automatically learn the names of all other spells prepared or known by the spellcaster, regardless of spell levels.
At 9th level, your melee attacks ignore any bonuses to AC granted by spells or spell-like abilities (including spell-trigger and spell-completion magic items, but not persistent magical items). When you make a Spellstrike on target, you may immediately make a dispel check against each and every spell and spell effect granting the target a bonus to AC.
Instead of Arcane Sight, the Spellthief may use Greater Arcane Sight or True Sight. The total number of uses a day does not change.
At 15th level, your melee attacks ignore any miss chances granted by spells or spell like abilities (including spell-trigger and spell-completion magic items, but not persistent magical items). When you make a Spellstrike on target, you may immediately make a dispel check against each and every spell and spell effect granting the target a concealment effect. When you make a Spellstrike on target, you may immediately make a dispel check against each and every spell and spell effect granting the target a miss chance. Notably, this does not allows a Spellthief to ignore miss chances due to mundane effects (natural fog) or creatures that are naturally incorporeal (or have a supernatural ability to become incorporeal). This does allow a spellthief to make a Spell Strike against a concealed target, if the only source of concealment is due to an aforementioned affect.
(for every Spellstrike Die spent, gain DR 3/- (Max target's actual DR value) and lower target's DR by 3, if untyped, or 5 (typed), Min 0. Lasts Cha Bonus rounds. Spellthief only gets the best DR from a single strike, and only lowers for their best single strike. )
I'm aiming for a class that is a weak tier-2, strong tier-3 class. In part, this is because this class is for a character I'm playing in a 2-player DnD campaign, and the other character is a Cleric who is going the create/summon undead shtick. In part, as that is generally where I think most character classes should be – some potential to break things, but generally needs help from others.
I took a survey of five other re-implementations of the Spellthief, using them for inspiration:
Partial Casting classes have a classic problem of being terrible. Their spellcasting ability is sufficiently weak and comes sufficiently late that it never is sufficiently strong to matter much, is not sufficiently flexible to give the class more breadth, and often results in sub-par abilities for the classes higher levels.
For the Spellthief, the casting ability ends causing a feat-tax, for Master Spellthief, to alleviate their terrible caster level, and commits the Spellthief to an uninteresting selection of spells – distract assailant, golem strike, and sniper's shot are pretty much requirements for first level spells, and there is a similar list of required spells for all 4 spell levels.
Every re-implementation does something to fix the spellthief's casting. The simplest change is to just give them caster level equal to class level; most give them a much better spell progression, either that of a Bard's or a Wizard's. I went for something slightly different. This Spellthief has some inherent spell knowledge, on par with the Bard's (which I've always thought was underpowered, for what it is worth), although with a much more limited focus. However, they have the casting potential of a wizard. This allows for spellthiefs to have much more flexibility with their spell selection, but also puts them in a position of being dependent upon their class abilities to reach their full potential.
Each class design does something different with the Spellthief's Sneak Attack progression. Of the referenced re-implementations, one leaves it unchanged, one just makes it a little more effective, one turns it into a poor-man's Eldritch Blast, and one makes it a melee-only ability that is similar to sneak attack, but is unavoidable.
Spellstrike, as implemented here, offers some compromise. It is mystic, so anatomy doesn't matter as much, but it still can be avoided with some abilities and defenses. It is melee only, making spell-theft a personal thing. It offers a save to creatures without steal-able items, allowing such creatures to avoid much of the damage, and it scales at a more reasonable rate than the base class.
Spelthieves are anti-caster, sneaky, skill monkeys that need to close to be effective. They need abilities that allow them to survive longer in melee combat, given that it is far from their forte. The anti-caster abilities allow them to close upon opponent casters and not be victims to high level defensive casting. Uncanny Dodge allows them to be in melee without being the victim to a rogue. Absorb Spell gives them the opportunity to avoid enemy casters.
The new Spellthief's abilities improve at predictable rates. (Fix rates)
need to make changes after here
|Saving Throws||1 Good||2 Good||Medium, Spellthief|
|Weapons||Rogue List||Rogue List||–|
|Spell Progression||Fast||Slow||Medium, Beguiler|
|Spell Levels||1 per 2||1 per 3||Major, Beguiler|
|1st||Armor Use||Armor Use||–|
|—||Steal Spell||uber major, spellthief|
|2nd||Earlier||Trapfinding||already accounted for|
|Cloaked Casting(DC)||—||uber major, Beguiler|
|Surprise Casting||—||Minor, Beguiler (becomes Moderate t 6th level)|
|3rd||Adv. Learning||—||Minor, Beguiler|