From the Collected Lectures of Tereses Thalamon, Magister of the Red Tower:
Battle magic is a curious thing. Perhaps an analogy serves best here. Consider three things: the arrow of a town watchman, the arrow of a legendary elven hero... and a lightning bolt.
Hold your mirth. I am not making, perhaps, the point you think I am. I doubt any of us would deny that a lightning bolt is far more powerful than the arrow of either a town watchman or even a Murthrid archer. And if any of us were to choose between dodging a town watchman's arrow and a lightning bolt, I think it's clear which we'd take - and not just because the lightning would hurt a damn sight more. There's a reason they call it a bolt from the blue, after all.
But lightning is a curious thing. It can shatter stone where an arrow or a crossbow bolt may clatter off, but it does not tame easily. It is unruly, difficult to control and direct. Those of us who have been around for a decade or two know that - and I should be clear, I am not talking about town watchmen or even captains of the guard, here - there are those who can dodge three lightning bolts and come back for more. These people are rare, but the interesting thing here, I think, is that one such as this would likely find an elven archer's arrows far harder to dodge than a mere lightning bolt.
It is one of those idiosyncracies of our craft, it seems. A more skilled mage can produce a lightning bolt of greater power and ferocity - oh yes, I have seen mages who can rip stone asunder as if it were paper - but the aim seems to grow no better. Lightning is just too difficult to control. Perhaps we focus too much on power. And besides, as mages we scarcely have the time or inclination to spend hours hurling lightning bolts in the practice yard, even if we could throw them about with abandon. And all the power in the world is of little use if you cannot hit the broad side of a barn.
But I, my friends, never miss. And you don't have to either.
The warmage is a kit for Evokers. Universalists and other specialist mages cannot be warmages; only those who focus all their efforts on the conjuring and directing of elemental energy can truly excel at combative magics. On Leng, most warmages come from the Red Tower, but they can be found in many disciplines. It is not uncommon for lords and kings to seek training for those with talent, making warmages for their armies. Likewise, many warmages are mercenaries who pick up their art in bits and pieces on the battlefield - after all, a mage who can keep his head in combat is worth his weight in gold. Whatever their background, the rigorous training and military lifestyle of a warmage means that they must have a Constitution of at least 12 to qualify.
The tradeoff that a skilled warmage makes is simple. Most wizards dedicate themselves to attaining arcane power; they are hungry for knowledge and seek to constantly drive their minds to new heights and attain new insights into the nature of the arcane. It is this very focus on strengthening their minds - their ability to comprehend and conquer abstract and complicated thoughtforms - that makes them tend towards power over finesse. The warmage opts for a different route, spending more time learning to use and understand that spells they do have, training with their magic the way a warrior trains with his weapons.
This singleminded focus gives them greater finesse, but it comes at the price of power. In game terms, it means that they function at all times with respect to magic as though their Intelligence score was 2 points lower than it actually is. This affects their ability to learn new spells, their starting languages and NWPs, and even the highest level of spells they can learn. Even a warmage with an Intelligence of 18 will never learn the 9th level spells, and they will have only a 55% chance of learning spells from schools outside Evocation. This, on top of the restricted selection available to an Evoker, gives a warmage plenty of time to get very good at using the spells they do know.
The advantage of a warmage's intensive training comes in the form of a penalty to enemy saving throws. This penalty applies to all forms of combat magic that involve directly channeling elemental energy to target an enemy. Flaming Sphere, Lightning Bolt, Fireball, Cone of Cold and Disintegrate are examples of spells that fit this profile. Web, Fire Trap and Leomund's Lamentable Belaborment are examples of spells that do not. Spells that fit this profile but employ an attack roll instead, such as Melf's Minute Meteors, gain a corresponding bonus to attack rolls.
The penalty to saving throws begins at -1 but grows as the warmage grows in skill, as reflected by the table below.
|Warmage Level||Saving Throw Penalty|
Warmages are also very resistant to distraction, and excellent at maintaining their concentration even if difficulty conditions. Whenever something happens to a warmage that would interrupt his spellcasting (such as taking damage), he is entitled to a saving throw vs. petrification. A -1 penalty is applied for each 3 points of damage he takes. If he succeeds, he managed to maintain his concentration and avoid being interrupted.
Theoretically, the advances made by warmages could be applied to the other schools of magic. For example, an Enchanter could focus all of his efforts on creating unbreakable charms and enchantments, at the cost of attainment. The warmage is the only specialist of this kind that is relatively common, but with the DM's permission other forms of hyper-specialist mage may be allowed.