I have to say that I was surprised at the lack of love for the Mystic in Hurin’s and Peter’s recent posts. Why? Because Mystics ROCK!!! I’m not sure I ever played one, I started GMing almost exclusively early on, but I’ve always been intrigued by the profession. Like the Astrologer, Seer and Alchemist, I thought the Mystic was a new profession concept in the early 80’s that upended the “boring” D&D classes I was accustomed to.
So what is the Mystic? Unless Terry or another original ICE developer weights in, we’ll never know exactly what they had in mind 40 years ago–but to me it’s clear that the Mystic is a pure spell caster Assassin/Spy. I’m not sure Peter or Hurin are picking up on that–and if you only look at the spells it might be tougher to see the “Mystic DNA”. First, take a look at the skill costs:
- Ok armor DP costs. That’s typical for Mentalists in general, but it implies a more combat oriented profession.
- Stalk & Hide: 2. That’s the lowest skill cost for any pure caster, and implies the stealthy nature of the class.
- Perception: 2. Again, this is only beaten by the Seer and matches the Illusionist.
- Ambush: 4. That’s not low, but it’s by far the lowest for a pure caster. The Mystic ambushes!!
Just based on those skill costs alone, we already have the basis for a stealthy, perceptive character whose primary attack is ambushing.
Base Spells. So there is not much appreciation for the Mystic spell lists, but let’s take a closer look:
Confusing Ways. This is a fantastic spell list with some great utility. The first 5 spells: Distraction, Confusion, Blur Vision, Fear and Stumble are all combat effective and still fall into the character concept. Most of the other level spells are as useful, although the lack of spells lvl 16-19 could be easily corrected.
Hiding. Again, this is another solid list with some cool spells: 3rd lvl Shadow, 7th lvl Screen, 10th lvl Shadow Mystic and 13th lvl Flattening. The combination of Hiding and Confusing Ways spells with some combat effectiveness makes the Mystic and formidable character class!
Mystical Change. The “piece de resistanance” of the Mystics spell lists, this allows the caster to change their appearance or impersonate other creatures or persons.
For me, those three lists and the skill costs are a great character template. I would also argue that the Mystic’s low level spells are almost all useful–which isn’t necessarily the case for other pure spells users (I’m thinking of you “Mr. Boil Water”!).
I think the confusion with the Mystic is with the other 3 spells: Liquid, Solid and Gas Alteration. Those spells seem off-brand, or perhaps another mentalist type given how core the skill costs and the other lists feel.
Personally, I would jettison the 3 alteration spells and maybe drop a weapon skill down to 4 and make a few small tweaks to some other skills. I’ve never been a proponent of a mandatory 6 base lists: a profession needs just the right amount of base lists, and often it feels like some base lists are just there to meet that arbitrary requirement.
A slight bump to combat abilities and those three lists makes for a great Assassin archetype. The Mystic is a great profession and one that deserves more respect!!!