November 19, 2013
Character Close-Up: The Mystic
At last, we come to the final common archetype among role-playing game characters: the mystic. My personal favorite, the mystic archetype is one who uses magic over all other resources. Also called the “spell-caster,” this archetype is possibly the most iconic of all archetypes. The wise wizard, the diabolic sorcerer, the dark necromancer, the treacherous witch, the mischievous illusionist, and more all exist within this archetype. Whether they toss lightning and fire from their hands, see into the future, call up creatures from other realms of existence, or many other nigh unfathomable possibilities, the mystic archetype allows players to know what it feels like to wield phenomenal cosmic powers.
There are four key roles often taken up by a mystic character. The first of these is crowd control. Mystics, above all other archetype, have a plethora of area of affect magic at their disposal. This may be in the form of an explosive fireball that will render numerous foes to ash with a single blast, calling up roots and earth itself to trap their foes, stopping time in a specific location, or anything else. However, the purpose of such magic remains the same: to befuddle your foes and give your allies the advantage. Where healer archetypes tend to augment their allies, mystics act on the other end of that spectrum. They debilitate their foes, making them weaker. Combined with a healer, this can be a game-changer.
Second is damage. Mystics are capable of great damaging abilities at range, making them the ultimate form of fantasy artillery. Cannon balls? Think lightning bolts. While often not packing the same sheer damaging power as a fighter archetype, the mystic archetype makes up for that with range, versatility (“do I give them fire, ice, acid, or lightning today?”), and (as mentioned above) befuddlement. Many players believe this is what makes the mystic the most powerful of the archetypes, and in some games, I cannot say that they are wrong, but a mystic’s raw power is often a balance point for their own frailty. Sure, they can scorch a foe from across the battlefield, but what happens when that foe comes within arm’s reach? Mystics rely on the other archetypes, most notably the fighter, to carry them through up close battles that they lack the ability to contribute as well to.
Third is utility. Mystics are often called on for a variety of tasks that no other archetype can perform. Things like teleportation, turning rock to mud so that the party can make their way through a collapsed tunnel, walking through solid walls, and even things like flight and seeing invisible foes. Thanks to their magic, there is little that a mystic cannot do if given proper preparation, and their contribution to the party dynamic, as a whole, greatly benefits from their more unusual magical talents. Fireballs and lightning bolts might be fun, but they cannot help you against foes you cannot see.
Finally, the mystic archetype is called upon for their knowledge. Being based on mental attributes and often possessing a variety of lore and knowledge based skills, a mystic often acts as the scribe and scholar of a group, able to identify important details of history, occult study, and, often, otherworldly knowledge. This tends to be a mystic’s greatest non-magic strength, and any party that ignores this advantage does not deserve to make it through their first dungeon crawl.
The mystic archetype character offers a great range of options for a discerning player, so if you have not given it a try yet, I highly advise doing so. Often, they take a bit more work than many of the other archetypes, but once you get the hang of playing one, there is nothing else like it in all of gaming.
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