Fail Mage (3.5e Class)

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Author: Lordshadow (talk)
Date Created: 10/6/10
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Fail Mage[edit]

Cursed by the gods of luck, these eccentric mages have all the casting ability of a wizard and then some. The only problem is, they can't always control their magic, causing mishaps at the most inopportune times.

Making a Fail Mage[edit]

Fail mages cast all the spells a wizard can and has all the same strong points, but they have one glaring weakness, their magic isn't always controllable. It can, and will, fail, often spectacularly.

Abilities: Intelligence is required to cast any spells. A strong constitution, dexterity, and wisdom will help a fail mage survive their own spells.

Races: Any race that can become a wizard can become a fail mage.

Alignment: Any.

Starting Gold: 100 gp.

Starting Age: As Wizard.

Table: The Fail Mage

Hit Die: d6

Level Base
Attack Bonus
Saving Throws Special Spells per Day
Fort Ref Will 0 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th 9th
1st +0 +0 +0 +2 Failure, Summon Familiar, Scribe Failed Scroll, Oops - Delayed/Expanded 3 1
2nd +1 +0 +0 +3 4 2
3rd +1 +1 +1 +3 4 2 1
4th +2 +1 +1 +4 Oops - Energy Malfunction 4 3 2
5th +2 +1 +1 +4 4 3 2 1
6th +3 +2 +2 +5 4 3 3 2
7th +3 +2 +2 +5 Oops - Conical/Linear Malfunciton 4 4 3 2 1
8th +4 +2 +2 +6 4 4 3 3 2
9th +4 +3 +3 +6 4 4 4 3 2 1
10th +5 +3 +3 +7 Oops - Mass Oops 4 4 4 3 3 2
11th +5 +3 +3 +7 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
12th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
13th +6/+1 +4 +4 +8 Oops - Maximized Oops 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
14th +7/+2 +4 +4 +9 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
15th +7/+2 +5 +5 +9 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
16th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 Oops - School Swap 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
17th +8/+3 +5 +5 +10 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 2 1
18th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3 2
19th +9/+4 +6 +6 +11 Oops - Weaponized Failure 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 3 3
20th +10/+5 +6 +6 +12 Divide by Rule 0 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4 4

Class Skills (4 + Int modifier per level, ×4 at 1st level)
Concentration (Con), Craft (Int), Decipher Script (Int), Knowledge (all skills, taken individually) (Int), Profession (Wis), Spellcraft (Int).

Class Features[edit]

All of the following are class features of the fail mage.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: Fail mages are proficient with the club, dagger, heavy crossbow, light crossbow, and quarterstaff, but not with any type of armor or shield. Armor of any type interferes with a fail mage’s movements, which can cause her spells with somatic components to fail.

Spells: A fail mage casts arcane spells which are drawn from the sorcerer/wizard spell list. A fail mage must choose and prepare his spells ahead of time (see below).

To learn, prepare, or cast a spell, the fail mage must have an Intelligence score equal to at least 10 + the spell level. The Difficulty Class for a saving throw against a fail mage's spell is 10 + the spell level + the fail mage’s Intelligence modifier.

Like other spellcasters, a fail mages can cast only a certain number of spells of each spell level per day. His base daily spell allotment is given on Table: The Fail Mage. In addition, he receives bonus spells per day if he has a high Intelligence score.

Unlike a bard or sorcerer, a fail mage may know any number of spells. He must choose and prepare his spells ahead of time by getting a good night’s sleep and spending 1 hour studying his spellbook. While studying, the fail mage decides which spells to prepare.

Failure (Su): Whenever a fail mage casts a spell, the DM secretly rolls a d%. On a roll of 1-5, the spell fails as a mishap with a scroll.

Familiar: A fail mage can obtain a familiar (see below). Doing so takes 24 hours and uses up magical materials that cost 100 gp. A familiar is a magical beast that resembles a small animal and is unusually tough and intelligent. The creature serves as a companion and servant.

The fail mage chooses the kind of familiar he gets. As the fail mage advances in level, his familiar also increases in power.

If the familiar dies or is dismissed by the fail mage, the fail mage must attempt a DC 15 Fortitude saving throw. Failure means he loses 200 experience points per fail mage level; success reduces the loss to one-half that amount. However, a fail mage’s experience point total can never go below 0 as the result of a familiar’s demise or dismissal. A slain or dismissed familiar cannot be replaced for a year and day. A slain familiar can be raised from the dead just as a character can be, and it does not lose a level or a Constitution point when this happy event occurs.

A character with more than one class that grants a familiar may have only one familiar at a time.

Scribe Failed Scroll (Ex): At 1st level, a fail mage gains Scribe Scroll as a bonus feat, except that any scrolls written by a fail mage incur the chance of Failure.

Oops - Delayed/Expanded (Su): On a roll of 6-15, the spell's effect is delayed by 1d4 rounds, but then activates as if under the Widen Spell metamagic feat, except that its spell level remains the same.

Oops - Energy Malfunction (Su): On a roll of 16-25, a spell that deals a particular type of energy (such as fireball or Magic Missile) has its energy type changed. The DM rolls a d8 to determine the effect. 1 causes fire damage, 2 causes cold damage, 3 causes electric damage, 4 causes sonic damage, 5 causes force damage, 6 causes non-elemental damage, 7 causes negative energy damage, 8 causes positive energy damage. Note: Creatures healed by positive or negative energy are affected normally for the energy type. (A wight hit by a negative fireball would gain HP, for example.) Any excess hitpoints are gained as temporary hitpoints that last for three rounds.

Oops - Conical/Linear Malfunction (Su): On a roll of 26-35, a line or cone spell is affected by having its properties changed. A line is reduced to a cone of half its length. A cone is expanded to a line of twice its length.

Oops - Mass Oops (Su): On a roll of 36-45, a spell cast on a single target grows to an area spell affecting any targets within 5 feet/fail mage level.

Oops - Maximized Oops (Su): On a roll of 46-55, a spell is treated as if under the Maximize Spell metamagic feat.

Oops - School Swap (Su): On a roll of 56-65, any spell cast by a fail mage can be substituted for another spell of the DM's choice of the same level, but a different school.

Oops - Weaponized Failure (Su): On a roll of 66-75, a spell can simply fizzle, leaving in its place a masterwork weapon of the DM's choice. This weapon lasts for five rounds and deals the effect of the spell on a successful hit. If the spell has a range of touch, only a melee touch attack with the weapon is required.

Divide by Rule 0 (Su): At twentieth level, a fail mage can produce the effects of a wish spell once per day with no cost. This wish can, and will invariably, go wrong in a way of the DM's choosing.

Spellbooks: A fail mage must study his spellbook each day to prepare her spells. He cannot prepare any spell not recorded in his spellbook, except for read magic, which all fail mages can prepare from memory.

A fail mage begins play with a spellbook containing all 0-level wizard spells plus three 1st-level spells of your choice. For each point of Intelligence bonus the fail mage has, the spellbook holds one additional 1st-level spell of your choice. At each new fail mage level, he gains two new spells of any spell level or levels that he can cast (based on his new fail mage level) for his spellbook. At any time, a fail mage can also add spells found in other wizards’ spellbooks to his own.

Arcane Spells and Armor


A familiar is a normal animal that gains new powers and becomes a magical beast when summoned to service by a sorcerer or wizard. It retains the appearance, Hit Dice, base attack bonus, base save bonuses, skills, and feats of the normal animal it once was, but it is treated as a magical beast instead of an animal for the purpose of any effect that depends on its type. Only a normal, unmodified animal may become a familiar. An animal companion cannot also function as a familiar.

A familiar also grants special abilities to its master (a sorcerer or wizard), as given on the table below. These special abilities apply only when the master and familiar are within 1 mile of each other.

Levels of different classes that are entitled to familiars stack for the purpose of determining any familiar abilities that depend on the master’s level.

Familiar Special
Bat Master gains a +3 bonus on Listen checks
Cat Master gains a +3 bonus on Move Silently checks
Hawk Master gains a +3 bonus on Spot checks in bright light
Lizard Master gains a +3 bonus on Climb checks
Owl Master gains a +3 bonus on Spot checks in shadows
Rat Master gains a +2 bonus on Fortitude saves
Raven1 Master gains a +3 bonus on Appraise checks
Snake2 Master gains a +3 bonus on Bluff checks
Toad Master gains +3 hit points
Weasel Master gains a +2 bonus on Reflex saves
  1. A raven familiar can speak one language of its master's choice as a supernatural ability.
  2. Tiny viper.

Familiar Basics: Use the basic statistics for a creature of the familiar’s kind, but make the following changes:

Hit Dice: For the purpose of effects related to number of Hit Dice, use the master’s character level or the familiar’s normal HD total, whichever is higher.

Hit Points: The familiar has one-half the master’s total hit points (not including temporary hit points), rounded down, regardless of its actual Hit Dice.

Attacks: Use the master’s base attack bonus, as calculated from all his classes. Use the familiar’s Dexterity or Strength modifier, whichever is greater, to get the familiar’s melee attack bonus with natural weapons.

Damage equals that of a normal creature of the familiar’s kind.

Saving Throws: For each saving throw, use either the familiar’s base save bonus (Fortitude +2, Reflex +2, Will +0) or the master’s (as calculated from all his classes), whichever is better. The familiar uses its own ability modifiers to saves, and it doesn’t share any of the other bonuses that the master might have on saves.

Skills: For each skill in which either the master or the familiar has ranks, use either the normal skill ranks for an animal of that type or the master’s skill ranks, whichever are better. In either case, the familiar uses its own ability modifiers. Regardless of a familiar’s total skill modifiers, some skills may remain beyond the familiar’s ability to use.

Familiar Ability Descriptions: All familiars have special abilities (or impart abilities to their masters) depending on the master’s combined level in classes that grant familiars, as shown on the table below. The abilities given on the table are cumulative.

Class Level
Armor Adj.
Int Special
1st-2nd +1 6 Alertness, Improved Evasion, Share Spells, Empathic Link
3rd-4th +2 7 Deliver Touch Spells
5th-6th +3 8 Speak with Master
7th-8th +4 9 Speak with Animals of Its Kind
9th-10th +5 10
11th-12th +6 11 Spell Resistance
13th-14th +7 12 Scry on Familiar
15th-16th +8 13
17th-18th +9 14
19th-20th +10 15

Natural Armor Adj.: The number noted here is an improvement to the familiar’s existing natural armor bonus.

Int: The familiar’s Intelligence score.

Alertness (Ex): While a familiar is within arm’s reach, the master gains the Alertness feat.

Improved Evasion (Ex): When subjected to an attack that normally allows a Reflex saving throw for half damage, a familiar takes no damage if it makes a successful saving throw and half damage even if the saving throw fails.

Share Spells: At the master’s option, he may have any spell (but not any spell-like ability) he casts on himself also affect his familiar. The familiar must be within 5 feet at the time of casting to receive the benefit.

If the spell or effect has a duration other than instantaneous, it stops affecting the familiar if it moves farther than 5 feet away and will not affect the familiar again even if it returns to the master before the duration expires. Additionally, the master may cast a spell with a target of “You” on his familiar (as a touch range spell) instead of on himself.

A master and his familiar can share spells even if the spells normally do not affect creatures of the familiar’s type (magical beast).

Empathic Link (Su): The master has an empathic link with his familiar out to a distance of up to 1 mile. The master cannot see through the familiar’s eyes, but they can communicate empathically. Because of the limited nature of the link, only general emotional content can be communicated.

Because of this empathic link, the master has the same connection to an item or place that his familiar does.

Deliver Touch Spells (Su): If the master is 3rd level or higher, a familiar can deliver touch spells for him. If the master and the familiar are in contact at the time the master casts a touch spell, he can designate his familiar as the “toucher.” The familiar can then deliver the touch spell just as the master could. As usual, if the master casts another spell before the touch is delivered, the touch spell dissipates.

Speak with Master (Ex): If the master is 5th level or higher, a familiar and the master can communicate verbally as if they were using a common language. Other creatures do not understand the communication without magical help.

Speak with Animals of Its Kind (Ex): If the master is 7th level or higher, a familiar can communicate with animals of approximately the same kind as itself (including dire varieties): bats with bats, rats with rodents, cats with felines, hawks and owls and ravens with birds, lizards and snakes with reptiles, toads with amphibians, weasels with similar creatures (weasels, minks, polecats, ermines, skunks, wolverines, and badgers). Such communication is limited by the intelligence of the conversing creatures.

Spell Resistance (Ex): If the master is 11th level or higher, a familiar gains spell resistance equal to the master’s level + 5. To affect the familiar with a spell, another spellcaster must get a result on a caster level check (1d20 + caster level) that equals or exceeds the familiar’s spell resistance.

Scry on Familiar (Sp): If the master is 13th level or higher, he may scry on his familiar (as if casting the scrying spell) once per day.

Familiars at Epic Level: Special abilities granted to a familiar continue to grow as the level of its master increases beyond 20th, as shown on Table: Epic Familiar Special Abilities. Even though the table shows advancement only to 42nd level, that is not the limit. The patterns in the table continue infinitely. Familiar special abilities gained at less than 20th level also continue to improve.

Table: Epic Familiar Special Abilities
Class Level
Armor Adj.
Int Special
21st–22nd +11 16 Familiar Spell
23rd–24th +12 17
25th–26th +13 18
27th–28th +14 19
29th–30th +15 20
31st–32nd +16 21 Familiar Spell
33rd–34th +17 22
35th–36th +18 23
37th–38th +19 24
39th–40th +20 25
41st–42nd +21 26 Familiar Spell

Familiar Spell: The familiar gains the benefit of the Familiar Spell epic feat for the spell its master chooses.

Ex-Fail Mages[edit]

A fail mage who has 27 instances of Remove Curse cast upon themselves, one immediately after another, becomes a Wizard of the same level.

Epic Fail Mage[edit]

Table: The Epic Fail Mage

Hit Die: d6

Level Special
22nd Oops - Self-destruct
25th Oops - Line/Ray Malfunction
28th Oops - Good Job Breaking it

4 + Int modifier skill points per level.

Spells A fail mage's magic continues to progress as a wizard's magic at epic levels.

Oops - Self-destruct (Su): On a roll of 76-85, any spell cast that targets a specific creature and has a duration gains the following effect: when the duration ends, a surge of magical energy wells up in the target, causing 1d8 damage per fail mage level to the target, fortitude save for half. The DC is equal to the fail mage's level plus his intelligence modifier. This damage is treated as chaotic aligned for the purposes of damage reduction.

Oops - Line/Ray Malfunction (Su): On a roll of 86-95, a spell that requires a ranged touch attack becomes a line of damage (up to the maximum distance of the spell) with a reflex save for half instead.

Oops - Good Job Breaking It (Su): On a roll of 96-100, a spell becomes altered as a Mordenkinen's Disjunction spell affecting everything the target has if they fail a reflex save DC equal to the fail mage's level + his intelligence modifier.

Gnome Fail Mage Starting Package[edit]

Weapons: Quarterstaff

Skill Selection: Pick a number of skills equal to 4 + Int modifier.

Skill Ranks Ability Armor
Knowledge (Religion) 4 INT
Knowledge (Arcana) 4 INT
Craft (Alchemy) 4 INT
Spellcraft 4 INT

Feat: Spell Focus (Illusion).

Gear: Standard Adventuring Gear, Alchemical Burn Curing Salve, Trail Rations x5, Spellbook.

Gold: 25gp.

Campaign Information[edit]

Playing a Fail Mage[edit]

Religion: Ironically, most fail mages tend to venerate gods of luck, praying for aid on occasion when they especially don't want their spell to blow up in their face.

Other Classes: Most classes are unable to differentiate a fail mage from a wizard, other than the fact that their spells occasionally self-destruct. Fail mages tend to get along well with other classes, but are often apologetic to any of their allies that get caught in their spells.

Combat: Fail mages tend to fill the same role as a wizard in combat.

Advancement: Most fail mages are intent to continue to follow the path of a wizard, but have been known to entirely give up the magical arts in favor of something that won't explode in their face.

Fail Mages in the World[edit]

He said feed the toad, not blow it to bits!
—Mupom Obpom, Gnome Wizard commenting on his classmate.

Fail mages can be anything a wizard can, if having a reputation for being somewhat eccentric or unpolished.

A Day in the Life: Domar coughed violently as he emerged from the cloud of smoke. A simple cantrip had exploded covering everything within a thirty foot radius in soot.

"Boccob give me strength" he groaned. He was advancing just as fast with magics as his peers at the academy, but for some reason, everything he did just felt... unpolished... in comparison. Focusing his arcane powers, he summoned forth a slight breeze to blow the soot out the window. Thankfully, that one worked right.

"Perhaps conjury isn't your line of work, my friend, have you considered illusion?" came a voice from behind. A gnomish wizard who was studying just barely out of reach of the blast was looking at him. "They tend not to explode quite as much."

He sighed "Maybe you're right, but I just can't seem to devote myself to one field of study like some of you can. I love all magic... even if it doesn't work quite right."

"Then don't give up. Look at it this way, you managed to create quite an impressive explosion for using so little magic. Maybe this isn't a bad thing. Try to build on it; you could be the next Bigby if you can lean to control things like this."

Notables: Kubori (Catastrophe) Apbori, Gnomish fail mage

Ashardlon, Elven fail mage who died in a catastrophic misfire

Organizations: Fail mages rarely congregate in groups of their own, but often mingle with wizard and sorcerer groups.

NPC Reactions: NPCs tend to view fail mages as they would an eccentric wizard... from very, very far away.

Fail Mage Lore[edit]

Characters with ranks in Knowledge (Arcana) can research fail mages to learn more about them. When a character makes a skill check, read or paraphrase the following, including information from lower DCs.

Knowledge (Arcana)
DC Result
5 For some people, magic doesn't come out quite right.
10 Just because a spell didn't work right, doesn't mean it doesn't work effectively.
15 Never underestimate the power of a gigantic fireball, even if it does appear a few seconds too late.
20 Fail mages are cursed by the gods of luck for having too much potential at magic.

Fail Mages in the Game[edit]

NPC fail mages can be anything from a no-talent comic relief wizard who can't even perform simple cantrips correctly to the secret weapon of an army, intent on loosing their chaotic magic in the heat of battle, hoping for a big enough boom to take out the enemy army.

Adaptation: Similar versions of Psions, Clerics, Druids, or Sorcerers could be easily designed simply applying the same failure chance to their spells.

Sample Encounter: A large explosion comes from the next room and billowing clouds of smoke pour forth from the door. Out stumbles a human wizard covered from head to toe in soot.

"*Cough* *Cough* Sorry about the noise," he says, starting to brush himself off, "I was trying to just light a candle. I didn't expect things to get that out of hand."

EL 2

Dorvis the Odd

CR 2

Male Human Fail Mage 2
NG Medium humanoid (Human)
Init/Senses 1/Listen , Spot
Languages Common, Draconic, Elven
AC 11, touch 11, flat-footed 10
(+1 DEX)
hp 11 (6 HD)
Fort/Ref/Will +1/+1/+3
Speed 30 ft. (6 squares)
Melee Quarterstaff +1 melee
Base Atk/Grp +1/+1
Abilities Str 10, Dex 12, Con 12, Int 14, Wis 11, Cha 11
SQ Failure, Oops - Delayed/Exapnded
Feats Spell Focus (Conjury)
Skills Concentration +6, Craft (Alchemy) +7, Knowledge (Arcana) +7, Knowledge (Religion) +7, Knowledge (Nobility and Royalty) +7, Knowledge (The Planes) +7, Spellcraft +7
Possessions Spellbook, Quarterstaff
Patron Deity Ehlonna

Back to Main Page3.5e HomebrewClassesBase Classes

Lordshadow's Homebrew
Base & Prestiege Classes Blue Mage, Fail Mage, Masked Knight, Pegasus Knight, Sea Scholar
Equipment Chakram, Planar Idol, Ring of Miraculous Failure
Races Elvaan, Galka, Mithra, Tarutaru
Deities Alexander, Altana, Leviathan, Promathia
Character Options
Talk | Sandboxes: Sandbox

Allowed AlignmentsLawful Good +, Lawful Neutral +, Lawful Evil +, Neutral Good +, Neutral +, Neutral Evil +, Chaotic Good +, Chaotic Neutral + and Chaotic Evil +
Article BalanceUnquantifiable +
AuthorLordshadow +
Base Attack Bonus ProgressionPoor +
Challenge Rating2 +
Class AbilityArcane Spellcasting + and Prepared Spellcasting +
Fortitude Save ProgressionPoor +
Identifier3.5e Class +
Length20 +
Minimum Level1 +
NameDorvis the Odd +
RaceHuman +
Rated ByThunderGod Cid +
RatingRating Pending +
Reflex Save ProgressionPoor +
SizeMedium +
SummaryCursed by the gods of luck, these mages tend to experience problems at the most inopportune times. +
TitleFail Mage +
Typehumanoid (Human) +
Will Save ProgressionGood +