Friday, October 26, 2012

Puella Magi Pathfinder Magica

For those who don't know what I'm talking about, Puella Magi Madoka Magica is a deconstructionist magical girl show about magical girls who fight monsters called "Witches" in exchange for a wish. There's very little more than I can say about it than it's visually stunning, has a great soundtrack, and has a mature, engaging story that is tragic, but never becomes grimdark. If you have any interest whatsoever in this show, GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW, as this class contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the series.

So assuming you're still with me, today I outline an experimental class for Pathfinder that lets you play as the show's version of a magical girl. Basically it's a variant Cleric with a sanity mechanic; in the future I might try to change it, but for now this is what I'm sticking with. Note that for the purposes of game mechanics, there are no gender, race, or age restrictions for becoming a Puella Magi.

Just one thing to note: this class is very unbalanced, requires a lot of GM oversight. For this reason, it can't just be thrown into a regular campaign haphazardly. Please please please please leave comments so I can improve this.

Puella Magi v0.1

Class Features

Class Skills: Same as Cleric.

Hit Die: d8

Skill Ranks Per Level: 2 + Int Modifier

Base Attack Bonus: Same as Cleric

Fortitude Save: Same as Cleric

Will Save: Same as Cleric's Reflex save.

Reflex Save: Same as Cleric's Will save.

Spells per Day: Same as Cleric

Weapon/Armor Proficiency  Puella Magi are proficient with all simple weapons, light armor, medium armor, and shields. In addition, you may take either Exotic Weapon Proficiency or Martial Weapon Proficiency as a bonus feat.

Wish: At first level, all Puella Magi are required to make a wish. The wish can be for anything, and is not necessarily bound by the parameters of the "Wish" spell. The GM, however, must approve this wish, as it can potentially unbalance the entire game. Note that Incubators deliberately seek out people who they think will most likely waste their wishes on short-sighted goals, such as finding love or popularity.

Spells: Puella Magi have the same spell list and same number of spells per day as Clerics. Unlike clerics, however, Puella Magi are spontaneous casters, and their spells are based on Charisma rather than Wisdom. Puella Magi still have domain spell slots. Also, you may not cast spells that are opposed to your alignment (if you are neutral, choose which alignment you are "opposed" to). At the DM's discretion, domain spells are exempt from this.

Orisons: As with Clerics, though again; Puella Magi are spontaneous casters so they don't need to prepare their spells ahead of time.

Channel Energy: Puell Magi do not have the ability to Channel Energy.

Domains: As with Clerics, except that they only choose one Domain instead of two. Rather than representing a deity, this represents the power gained from the wish the Puella Magi received from her contract. For instance, a wish to rule a country would grant the Puella Magi powers of the "Law" domain (or if you're feeling cynical, the "Tyranny" domain).

Telepathy: Puella Magi can freely use the spell Message as a spell-like ability.

Incubator: To become a Puella Magi, you need to come in contact with an Incubator; a small, weasel-like creature that pushes girl into becoming Puella Magi. 

Soul Gem: Similar to a Lich's phylactery, a Puella Magi's soul gem houses her actual soul, and is the source of her magic. This has some pluses, and some drawbacks: The good news is that the body of the Puella Magi is ageless and immune to nonmagical disease, and unless completely annihilated the body will regain hitpoints at a normal rate even if "Killed", and can in fact be restored with normal healing magic such as Cure Light/Moderate/Serious Wounds. If the body is annihilated. it can be brought back using a resurrection spell.

Now for the bad stuff; first of all the Puella Magi's body takes a -2 penalty to dexterity if the gem is over 100 feet away, a -5 penalty if the gem is over 200 feet away, and falls unconscious if the gem is over 300 feet away. Next, while the gem can change forms, it MUST take up a magic item slot in order to be used for magic. You may choose any slot you want, and the gem will change forms to accompany the slot (e.g. turning into a ring to accompany a ring slot, or turning into a necklace to accompany a necklace slot). You can choose how the gem appears, but your control isn't fine enough to make it look like a specific item. Regardless of the form it takes, Soul Gems have a strong Necromancy and Transmutation aura, created by a 30th level caster. Also, if your Soul Gem is destroyed, you die regardless of how many hit points your body still has. Though the gem can be repaired through a resurrection/raise dead spell, creating a new body counts as a separate casting of the spell. A Soul Gem has 15 Hardness, and a quarter of your body's maximum hit points.

Finally (and this last one is a doozy), all soul gems start with 0 Despair Points. Whenever one of the following things happens, roll 1d20+Will against a DC of your Character Level + 10 (Yes, the save gets harder as you level up. This is not a typo, as in canon Magical Girls don't last very long.).

  • You discover that someone you care about has died.
  • You are reduced to negative hit points.
  • You roll a natural 1. Note that a kind GM can choose to ignore this for rolls that "don't matter".
  • You have gone 24 hours separated from your body.
  • Any other time the DM wants to make you sweat. ;)

If you fail the save, you gain a despair point.

In addition, the following things cause you to gain a despair point no matter what.

  • You witness the violent death of a close friend or loved one.
  • Your body is reduced to -10 hit points (gain 2 despair points in this case).
  • You have witnessed a Puella Magi turning into a Witch.
If you ever reach 10 dispair points, you will become a Witch, and are no longer be playable as a PC (unless you are playing a very bizarre game. I might provide rules for this in the future.). 

If a Puella Magi turns into a Witch, there are only two ways to restore her;
  • Divine intervention, or a reality-warping spell such as Wish or Miracle.
  • True Resurrection can restore a Puella Magi who turned into a Witch that was later killed. If this happens, the Puella Magi starts with 5 Dispair Points.
Favored Class Bonus: IIIII'm too lazy to come up with this right now. In the meantime, look at the favored class bonuses for clerics, and try to adapt them for this class. Bonuses that involve channeling should be ignored/substituted for something else the DM can agree on.


When a Puella Magi's soul gem turns completely black (represented by gaining 10 dispair points), the Puella Magi will become a Witch; that is, a horrific monster that spreads disaster across the world.

Note that if you're playing in a traditional DnD setting, you might want to change the terminology in order to avoid confusing them with the Witch class and the Familiar class feature.

Since every Witch is different, both physically and conceptually, they'll need to be made by the DM on a case-by case basis. However, they all have the following traits in common;

Type: Regardless of what the original Puella Magi was, the Witch is now an Aberration. Some witches may have a subtype, such as construct.

Invisible to Normals: Outside of their Labyrinths, Witches, their Familiars, and their Barriers, are invisible to non-Puella Magi, though spells such as See Invisibility and True Sight will reveal them.

Witch's Kiss: A witch can place a mark known as a "Kiss" on any sentient humanoid, which acts like the spell "Dominate Person" with unlimited duration and a DC 20 save. A witch will typically use it's mind-controlled victims to spread misery before forcing them to commit suicide. Puella Magi are completely immune to a Witch's Kiss, and it can be removed using Remove Curse or Remove Enchantment.

Labyrinth: A Labyrinth is a demiplane that the Witch resides. While invisible, a non-Puella Magi can enter (either by accident or on purpose) by passing through the space it's "Barrier" is located. Labyrinths are typically filled with the local Witch's familiars. In worlds where traveling adventurers are common (i.e., most DnD settings), Labyrinths are filled with loot in order to tempt foolish adventures into seeking them out.

Familiars: Familiars are a Witch's spawn. They are also Aberrations, are usually weaker than the Witch, and their forms are just as varied as the Witches themselves. If left alone long enough, a rogue Familiar will eventually become a clone of the witch that spawned it.

Grief Seed: When a Witch is defeated, it drops a magic item known as a Grief Seed. Grief Seeds can be used to absorb up to 1d3 of a Puella Magi's Despair Points. If unused in 1d4 months, a brand new Witch will hatch from the Grief Seed. Grief Seeds will not work for anyone but the Puella Magi who were present at the the Witch's defeat because the Incubators are all dicks because they don't resonate properly with your Soul Gem's magical frequency. An Incubator will gladly dispose of any "used up" Grief Seeds.

Making New Witches

I might cover this in greater detail in a future installment, but here are a few suggestions;
  • If you want to tailor-make your Witches, keep a design that matches the party's current power level handy for each Puella Magi in the party, and update as the character develops.
  • To create a Witch on the fly, grab a thematically appropriate monster and load it down with templates until it's completely unrecognizable.
  • You can also try applying the templates to the Puella Magi herself, or apply Puella Magi levels to the a templated monster you made.

If you want to play a game that takes place after the series, or you don't want to making Witch forms for PCs, here are the changes you need to make.

  • When Puella Magi reach 10 Dispair Points, they fade away and cannot be restored by anything less than divine intervention, Wish, Miracle, or a True Resurrection spell.
  • Defeating a certain class of monsters (decided by the GM, because I'm too tired to stat them out) causes them to drop "Grief Shards". Every 10 Grief Shards restores 1d3 despair points.
So that's it.
Well this has been a fun brainstorming exercise. I really hope someone tries this class out to see how it works. If you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for this class, please post in the comments.

No, seriously. COMMENT THIS POST. I've been running this blog for months now and almost nobody leaves comments. I'm just asking for a little attention, is that too much to ask?


  1. Wow, this is really well thought-out! I would play the hell out of this mechanic if my group were familiar with the anime.

    1. I'm pretty sure it's actually woefully unbalanced, but then again that's what playtesting is for (sadly, I don't have time for that)!

      I'm actually thinking up a racial template that allows any character to play a magical girl. Perhaps I'll post it in the future.

  2. So,I'm curious. What made you choose cleric as the class you based this on?

    1. From a thematic standpoint, Clerics are divine spellcasters, which means they usually gain power from a deity. In addition, the magical girls on the show all use weapons of some sort as their primary means of fighting, so I figured I would use a spellcasting class that also uses weapons. Finally, Clerics have a reputation of being a high-tier class, so I figured that I couldn't possibly break the balance more than I already had.

      In retrospect, it was a bad idea to use Clerics as a starting point, which is why i'm planning on rewriting this completely.

  3. I really, really like this! Though the Witch part is woefully incomplete. I can't wait for you to do more work on this!

  4. The only thing I would disagree with is the Channel ability. Although it could be seen as an at will cure wounds or restoration, Homura especially has been seen using her magic to heal herself/fix eyesight/heart. So while it could be previous spells, it could be seen as a form of channeling.