"Oh cool... So you're STILL working on this?" -- A guy at GenCon

"If I see Drah-koo-lah, I will. kick. him. in. the eye!!!" -- My 4 (almost 5) year old daughter. She GETS it!

"Meatpie Forever!" -- A playtester at GenCon 2013

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I Have a Hypothesis...

Introducing the Theorist...

On the cusp of the new trends in Metaphysics and Science, the Theorist experiments with all manner of alchemy, steamworks and revivification to test the boundaries of what is known.


The Theorist isn't easily found in movies and fiction upon which Transylvanian Adventures is based. Much like the Charger, the Theorist attempts to fill a role for the sake of making the game fun. In short, the Theorist is the magic-user of Transylvanian Adventures. The Theorist is the only class that casts "spells" in a similar manner to how a Wizard or Cleric might cast a spell in more traditional fantasy roleplaying games.

But that's not all.

The Theorist is more versatile than a traditional Magic-User. While the types of magic in Transylvanian Adventures is anything but set, The Transylvanian Grimoire will likely present Theorists with the capability to cast world-shattering Rituals, concoct recondite Potions and create arcane fabrications. The Theorist combines capabilities traditionally associated with a Wizard, Alchemist, Sorcerer and Mad Scientist.

In truth, multiple types of magic-wielding classes could have been created for Transylvanian Adventures. But as the Theorist began to take shape with the rest of the classes in Transylvanian Adventures, it became clear that customization was the best way to allow players to create the type of spell-caster, mad scientist, alchemist or demonologist a player wanted a character to be.

Why the Wait...

Along with the Exotic and the Half-Breed, the Theorist completes the triumvirate of classes that will be introduced in The Transylvanian Grimoire. The reason for this is because what was originally intended to be Transylvanian Adventures needed to be split into two volumes: Transylvanian Adventures and The Transylvanian Grimoire. This happened due to a number of concerns that would've impacted Transylvanian Adventures' price.

The most natural division of the material was one book with the rules enhancements, hex map and most of the classes and another book with a few classes and all the spells. I could foresee situations where people might want one or the other. Splitting them helps to insure that neither is too cost prohibitive and it also helps to speed up the time-table for Transylvanian Adventures' release.

What the Theorist Does

  • The Theorist casts spells in much the same way as a Wizard in Dungeon Crawl Classics. The Theorist can also make potions, create things and is the best Ritual caster of all the classes. The Theorist is also the only class that can use Spellburn in Transylvanian Adventures.
  • The Theorist is a master of arcane languages. This allows her to read and understand languages that would drive a normal person to the brink of insanity.
  • The Theorist influences the fate and destiny of those around her and can turn Luck against her opponents.
  • The Theorist is well-versed in the magic of Faerie and can use cantrips and illusion to alter her appearance -- sometimes drastically.
  • The Theorist's exploration into alchemical substances have made her a master of poisonous concoctions. The Theorist can brew poisons and has built up a near-supernatural tolerance for them.
  • The Theorist is a master at decoding codes and secret messages, as well as encoding communications in seemingly mundane missives such that only her intended recipient can understand them.

Where to Go From Here

The directions in which a Theorist can go depend a great deal on how many spell casting variations I can put into The Transylvanian Grimoire. An alchemist is certainly one such direction. A more traditional spell caster would be another. But other considerations include Mad Science, Steamworks and high-powered Ritualism.

Based on the features currently associated with the Theorist, the options are available for the Theorist to become almost Assassin-like with her specialty in poisons. Or more of a scribe with her mastery of codes and languages. Or even a bit of a Sorcerer with her influence on Luck and glamouring abilities. The Theorist would make a very good arcane spy with a combination of these abilities. Sort of like James Bond meets Jonathan Norrell.


Not much in the way of inspiration exists in the literature or films upon which Transylvanian Adventures is based. Moving outside of the direct influences, however, there are a number of resources that point to Theorists in The Transylvanian Grimoire, as well as what might be expected from the magical abilities in that book.

The greatest inspiration is probably the wizards in the book Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell. Rupert Giles from the Buffy the Vampire Slayer series is also an influence, as well as Ethan Rayne. The movie, The Raven, featuring Vincent Price and Peter Lorre is a campy influence but an inspiration nonetheless. And there are a number of other books, films, comics and such from which the Theorist was cobbled together.

Other Uses

If using the Transylvanian Adventures rules and classes outside of the setting or genre, The Theorist would best fit as an Artificer, Alchemist or Warlock. The Theorist has some sneaky elements to him but isn't quite a Wizard/Thief. Generally, the Theorist is a mildly tougher Wizard which is best defined in the setting by what sorts of magic a group agrees should be available. The Theorist could, without a doubt, be used alongside the Elf and Wizard in Dungeon Crawl Classics and is, perhaps, one of the best options thus far to do so. There is nothing stopping a group from using a Theorist within the context of the spellcasting in DCC, as either a supplementary spell-casting class or a full replacement for the Wizard class.

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