Afternoon of the Wolf
Channeller Strategy Guide
This class does one thing really well – ruin your day. To be more specific, most of its abilities are used to disable enemies, putting them out of battle or ruining a key spell. They can make an absolute mess of enemy tactics when used correctly. However that’s easier said than done, as Channeller is one of the trickier classes to use effectively. You really need to pay attention to the enemy’s strategy, have a good idea of each class’s capabilities and to time your actions well. If you do your job right, everyone is going to hate you (including your allies, if you’re a Void user!)
You pretty much need to commit strongly to Fai and Int to get the most out of this class. Almost all of your anti-magic skills are Int-based, but your disabling spells are Faith. You could certainly get away with picking only one or the other, focusing on just being a strong Faith-based caster, or going Int and dual-classing (as there are too few Int skills to sustain a build really). Either way, nothing that a channeller does requires any appreciable str and dex levels – Sprint isn’t important as all your spells work at a distance, Initiative isn’t vital (though in some cases may help) as a lot of your abilities only really work after a few rounds of combat have come through anyway, and most of the time you’ll need a chance to observe the enemy’s strategy before you can understand how to counter them. The only reason to have an appreciable str at all is to shore up your HP, but the nature of the class means that only a particularly devious opponent will actually realise the threat you pose, so mostly you’ll be ignored in favour of damage dealers and direct support classes. If you do get targeted, well, good luck, as your only defences are against spells. If you’re really worried you’ll have to dual-class, and going into another caster class is probably most economical (as you can stick with fai/int) but otherwise going dex/dodge is fine too (provided you can sink enough points into it).
When you’re figuring your skills, as usual bear in mind what sort of results you expect to roll – for the “Mood” spells you’ll be aiming for targets with considerable variance between builds and stages of combat. Just have a general idea of how much MP casters, non-casters and hybrids have and keep track of how liberally they use it. Non-casters will have around 10 to start, casters will have around 24+ and hybrids somewhere around 20.
Channel Mana: What it says on the tin. Give/take mana between allies, or squeeze off a few points from an enemy. It’s not terribly useful, but if you’re trying to land a spell that triggers vs current MP, taking a few off their total might clinch it. Or at least give you something to do while you wait for the opportune moment.
Fear/Anger: The first of the “Mood” spells and the prereq for the other two. In some ways this is a defence skill in that both effects compel afflicted enemies to attack someone else (so with Anger you can use that to get enemies to focus on your tanks, or a mutual enemy group if it’s a free-for-all brawl). Only having to equal about half their MP isn’t too difficult either, as with a modest investment you can easily snare a non-caster at the start of battle or a full caster who’s dropped 10 or so MP’s worth of spells. Fear has an additional effect if your result is double their MP ie if they have almost 0 (and this isn’t going to come up often with the new refresh mechanic) which takes the enemy out of the fight. This is the strength of the Channeller class – disabling opponents outright. Of course, having an enemy flee may not be optimal for plot reasons, so just keep that in mind when choosing which spell to cast.
Charm/Confuse: A step up from the previous mood spell, the effects are much better at removing an enemy from the fight. Confuse is probably the better one especially if you’ve managed your positioning well but the stipulation is that they choose which skill to use when targeting allies – which means some classes such as rogue can get out of doing damage by choosing standard attack. Warriors typically don’t have that luxury, making them a prime target. Charm is less useful than it seems as you can’t make them fight their allies, but you can make them sit on their hands as long as you aren’t too blatant about your intent, or facing an especially driven foe. The high MP cost makes it difficult to use the spell in other ways, but well-timed (especially on the last foe standing) you could toss it down and run a rapid-fire interrogation. You won’t get much else out of it though and it’s a real heavy investment for something that’s only mildly more effective than a good Fear/Anger.
Counter-Spell: Your basic defence type skill (even though technically it’s not a defence), which essentially makes you immune to spells. That low exp cost (2) means it’s great for generating synergy points and of course, outpaces almost every spell so you’re bound to be a match for any appropriate level enemy caster. The only catch is that it only works on spells targeting you… and it costs MP for every use. Though this isn’t a huge problem since it’s a minor action and you can use your major to refresh your MP. It’s the prereq for all the more versatile anti-magic stuff, so you’re going to have this one at a high level regardless, unless you’re swearing off anti-magic. Notably, because it has only Obs as a prerequisite, it’s very easy to dip into this skill if say you find yourself needing a defence against otherwise unblockable spells… but only if you have the Int to spare.
Divine Contract: This is a pretty weird spell. Make someone an offer they can’t refuse, and if they fail you basically guarantee a coma. Huh. Well it does have a low exp cost (1) going for it so it’s nice to have if you need to shore up your synergy, but its utility is really limited – you need a willing target, who you wouldn’t rather be dead, and can perform a useful function. Probably most useable in some sort of intrigue/espionage campaign, where you can send a captured bloke back to spy on them on pain of coma. A savvy opponent would have to drop a Void on any potential spies to clear off this spell. Or some kind of sandbox evil overlord campaign where you want to assure loyalty from your treacherous agents. Still for a lot of people it would be better to spend the exp on basic skills. One caveat: the usefulness depends on whether or not your GM will let you know whether or not the spell has worked. Willingness is pretty easy to fake. It also depends on how specific “a goal” is, whether or not it can include long-term activity or a task consisting of multiple smaller tasks.
Inversion: Steal a buff, or if it’s reversible, reverse it (essentially debuffing them). The first use is rather uninspiring for the cost, as there aren’t many buff spells that are terrible useful to you and because of how Channellers tend to be built so they are “just good enough” to do their job and neither have nor typically need much defence, spending points so that you can occasionally hedge your rolls with a buff isn’t that great. You should be taking Spell Shield anyway so the removal of a buff isn’t as valuable. The reversing of reversible spells is a bit more interesting – it makes you the bane of Tricksters and Necromancers, so if you’re expecting to have a lot of trouble with them, or balanced enemy parties in general, it’s a pretty decent option. A healer whose heal is reversed will inadvertently kill the recipient. Golems or undead will crumble (or possibly do damage to nearby golems/undead instead of appearing, assuming that it’s treated as the caster casting Destroy instead of Create). Tricksters risk dropping debuffs on their own allies, or buffing their enemies. Notably though most other classes aren’t really affected at all (Mechanists just slightly), so you may prefer the versatility of Spell Shield, which can counter all casters including those Inversion messes up, at a cheaper exp cost. But considering the mess you can make with a well-placed Inversion, it’s viable in strategies where you have to be particular about which spells you counter.
Sleep/Wake: The closest you have to a direct damage spell, with a neat (if risky) healing component on reverse – by using Wake to move the consciousness threshold of a fallen character from 0 to effect level, in the negatives. It’s pretty straightforward spell, and while there is a duration (or rather a duration is listed, but so is a maintenance cost which is a bit confusing) it probably won’t come up if your team can coordinate at all. It doesn’t seem like there’s a defence against this spell, and the effect stacks with itself, but as a Channeller there’s probably more useful things to do than spam the spell… although not necessarily, if you’re stuck in a fight with no enemy casters.
Spell Shield: This one is important, as it’s your general-purpose counter spell. You will of course need a high level to counter appropriate-level casters, and its usefulness (due to the cost) tapers off when faced with a single chunky enemy caster, not to mention any non-caster. But any foe who you can consistently beat in a roll off is essentially shut down – healers, blasters, buffers are all worthy candidates, especially if they’re casting expensive spells. It’s costly for you as well, so try to use it sparingly – don’t counter every spell that appears, just the really nasty ones. Well-used, it’s a highly effective means of ruining your enemy’s plans.
Steal Spell: Kind of an expensive, more versatile version of Inversion. Cheap to take (1 exp), but since it’s third in a skill tree it’s costly to get it to an effective level. For spell denial you’re better off with the cheaper Counterspell/Spell Shield, but being able to gain control of an enemy’s spell is always beneficial. You just need to be careful about which spells you steal. There’s a slight exploit, in that you can have your allies cast spells at low levels, and then have you hijack them to boost them up, but I think the benefit is rather mitigated by the costs of investing in this spell.
Unlock/Lock: After all those really cool, useful and tricky spells, this one seems really out of place. A utility spell of situational usefulness – and also the only officially determined way of undoing “divine locks”, as the rogue skill only deals with mechanical. Presumably Endurance can handle both. It can be used for say sealing a doorway behind you, during a chase. Being able to unlock any lock might be nice on a stealthy sort of campaign (depending on whether or not you can cast quietly) set in halfway civilised lands where people have stuff worth locking up. As a utility skill it doesn’t need many points to be useful, but keep in mind that all of the useful Channeller skills do and if you have a reliable rogue, it might be better to leave it to them. Thematically, of all Channeller spells this one seems the most out-of-place.
Void: Your most powerful and most indiscriminate anti-magic spell. It has the distinction of not being required to match or exceed a given spell – the power is simply applied as a negative modifier, weakening spells (within a given radius) to the point of irrelevance, and what’s more – doing so in an area. The tricky part is working with your allies – if you stand near them, no spells will affect them (so no healing or buffs) but their offensive spells against distant enemies will function. In close quarters it may not be feasible to move away and allow them to cast freely, so it’s important to work out strategy with your group beforehand. Properly used it can easily ruin any number of enemy spellcasters.
Will of Ird’ken: This is a fun one if nothing else. With a decent result roll, you can basically make every enemy take less-favoured actions (or manipulate/tease your allies if it’s that kind of game), ruining any pretense of strategy and likely forcing most enemy groups to wait it out rather than risk shooting themselves in the foot. It’s incredibly expensive though, evidently designed for high-power games.
Abilities: Follower of Ird’ken would be an obvious way of boosting those key skills which need to be high in order to succeed. It’s less useful if you’re dual-classing with another caster, which suits Channeller, though you could still make it work. Iron Will and Silent Speech are both attached to the synergy and quite good, the former to compensate for a heavy investment in spells over basic skills and the latter because every party must have at least one. The rest are utility/flavour abilities and best taken if they work well with your high skill (Fai or Int, if not both). If you’ve taken both, Emote is a good choice as you’ll have a high Sense:Int roll, Obs:Int based abilities are no-brainers if you have low Fai.
Dual-classing a Channeller: Like the rogue, Channeller is easy to dual-class into all other classes, though each would need to be built in a different way. Warrior-Channellers have the benefit of not relying on spells heavily, allowing a Str/Fai character to take Void as an active shield against magic whilst still dealing damage (though it’s a significant point investment, so their result level would likely be low). Alternatively, with Str/Int (much better synergy with Taunt and social abilities) and dropping points into Counter-spell and Spell Shield, you have a tank that is just as capable against spells that lack a defence.
Rogue-Channellers, the two classes both having many Int skills work well, allowing you to add anti-magic to your repertoire of ways to ruin your enemy’s day, and to cover your fragility with anti-magic.
Other casters can rely on taking a couple of Channeller skills, depending on whether Int or Fai is their bag, and using it to round out their arsenal with say the Mood spells against foes who otherwise shrug off your attacks, or additional crowd control for a Mechanist or summoning Necromancer. And again, counter-spell is cheap and plenty useful in a pinch, if you can actually beat the enemy’s casting roll.