Essence Professions for Elves

Copyright Xavier Martin © 2012

Edited by Terence Wynne for The Guild Companion

"In the Dustown principality, magicians see their powers more as a tool to survive and thrive despite - not in harmony with - the desert."

All elves must choose a spellcasting style: Herbalist, Crystalist, Somaticist, or Nomenist. As usual, each sub-race has its preferred style: Herbalist for Wood Elves, Nomenist for Grey Elves, and Crystalist for High Elves. Most Somaticists also use a magic staff.

Corpist spellcasting is forbidden by Elvish law because it draws its energy from dead creatures, and smacks of necromancy...

Essence general optional rules

  • The Open and Closed lists introduced in "Essence Companion" are considered "Other Base Lists" by all Essence professions unless otherwise indicated below, such as spell lists used as optional base spell lists for the Essence professions below. At the GM's discretion, these lists may also be made available as part of appropriate training packages that include spell lists. For instance a conjuror (from Arcane Companion) might be granted access to the Circle Mastery spell list as an additional base spell list.
  • No language skill may exceed 10 ranks. This is relevant for Nomenist spell casters and magical languages.
  • Language tiers
    • Tier 4 language: Urloc, but it was destroyed along with all Urloc culture at the end of the Great Uprising and cannot be learnt in the modern age. Its study also remains punishable by death in both human end elven cultures. The Urloc language is almost impossible to decipher, even using magic (it resist such attempts at level 10! A BAR roll is therefore needed and spell failure is possible). Still, some snippets of written text can be found on some Urloc relics which may allow, with GM permission, characters to gain one or two ranks in the language, never more, and at the restricted cost.
    • Tier 3: High Elven was the language used by the Urloc to communicate with their house slaves. It is a harsh language with only two modes of address: Master to slave, and slave to master. As a result, no elf will use it in normal conversation unless he means mortal insult! Even teaching the language will leave any elf uneasy. This makes finding a teacher difficult, and receiving instruction usually requires some service or payment to the prospective teacher.
    • Tier 2: Elven, High Imperial, Dwarven and Vard. These four languages have drifted little since the Great Uprising. They all have the same root in the common language used by all the Urloc slave races. In addition, a Nomenist only accumulates ranks towards his Primal Tongue equal to his highest rank in the four languages plus half the ranks in the other three, up to 20 effective ranks. This is then multiplied by two as usual.
    • Tier 1: Low Speech, Steppe Orc. These languages have drifted significantly since the Great Uprising and are now considered separate languages. There are actually 7 different Low Speech languages; one per county of the empire, but they are closely related for the purpose of the language speaking table in the Standard Rules. A Nomenist only accumulates ranks towards his primal tongue equal to his highest rank in a Low Speech language plus half the ranks in the others, up to 15 effective ranks. Steppe Orc is mostly unknown to elves and humans who do not interact with them. Presumably, there is also a lot of variance in the language of the Steppe Orcs.

Evil spell lists

Evil Essence spell lists come from demons. To learn such lists, the magic user must first make peaceful contact with a demon and have his essence corrupted by the alien essence of a demon. He then gathers essence from both the natural world and the demon's home dimension.

Individual spells must then be sought from a mortal mentor, written records, or possibly directly from a powerful demon (such as a Rhodintor).

Spell users

Evil spells lists are available to any pure, hybrid or semi essence spell user: He just needs to switch one of his base lists for an evil base list of his realm(s). The abandoned base list then becomes a Closed List. This may be done at any level (including the first). It is not possible to switch back an evil spell list for a non-evil base list: Corruption only goes one way.

Non spell users

An arms user may learn evil spell lists as open lists. All other spell lists become restricted to him though as he cannot properly manipulate his corrupted essence well enough to cast normal essence spells anymore. Non spell users should not normally develop more than a single evil spell list.


Anyone who knows evil spell lists is considered evil for the purpose of magic which depends on such (Detect Evil spell, extra effect from a Weapon of Justice, etc.) and "of darkness" (see Channeling Companion).

Knowing evil spell lists is a crime punishable by death in the empire, the principalities, and the dwarven mines.


A player, whether a spell user or not, may start play with any number of evil spell lists due to a training package (such as Warlock from the Arcane Companion), or a special flaw called Dark Temptation. The magical training greater talent is also appropriate for a non-spell user to develop an evil spell list.


Magicians are masters of the elements. Elven magicians from the principalities specialize in three elements instead of knowing all six and can summon elementals.

In the Darkwood principalities, most magicians are Wood Elves and usually prefer to use the Earth, Wind, and Water elements. They usually consider that their power is gathered from the essence of nature and therefore try to use their powers in harmony with it. In particular, they use their more destructive spells with great care. For this reason, use of the Fire element is illegal in the principality. If there was no harm done to trees, animals or sentients, the punishment is 10*(1+number of previous offences) years banishment. Otherwise, the punishment is permanent banning, on top of whatever punishment is meted out for the harm done (e.g. the offender burnt someone to death).

In the Dustown principality, magicians see their powers more as a tool to survive and thrive despite - not in harmony with - the desert. Their favorite elements are usually water, wind, and light. Use of the fire element is not uncommon and not particularly regulated. Because of this alternate focus, Grey Elves (as desert travelers) are more commonly magicians than in the other principality.

Magician optional rules

In the following, a mastered skill refers to a skill which has been developed to at least 30 ranks.

  • A magician must choose a spell category at level 1. Only this spell category subskill of "Magic Ritual" and "Spell Mastery" get the everyman advantage.
  • Once a magician has mastered both the "Magic Ritual" and "Spell Mastery" subskills corresponding to a particular spell category, he may switch category.
  • An Elven magician should choose five spell lists taken among three of the six elements below:
    • Earth magic: "Earth Law" and "Earth Mastery"
    • Fire magic: "Fire Law" and "Fire Mastery"
    • Ice magic: "Ice Law" and "Ice Mastery"
    • Light magic: "Light Law" and "Light Mastery"
    • Shadow magic: "Dark Law" (evil spell list!) and "Shadow Mastery"
    • Water magic: "Water Law" and "Water Mastery"
    • Wind magic: "Wind Law" and "Wind Mastery"
    • He also gets the "Elemental Summons" spell list, but only to summon elemental of his three chosen elements.
  • Contrary to the spell description, it is possible to split the directed spell skill between the Triad spells. There is a -20 to each OB in the triad per target beyond the first to a minimum of 0.
  • Targeting may not be used with Earth Fingers and its advanced versions on the Earth Mastery spell list.


Elven illusionists are usually performance and creator artists. They usually specialize on a particular sense and develop an associated artistic skill or craft:

  • Feel -Taste-Smell: Cooking, perfumer
  • Guises: Acting (for comic imitation or plays)
  • Light molding: Sculpting, interior/party decoration, fireworks
  • Sound molding: Single instrument, ambiance, or orchestral music; Elven and animal choirs.
  • Illusion Mastery: This is the highest form of an illusionist art; it creates complete settings, illusory plays, or historical recreations. Some will also center these plays on a personal performance making their own lives into an otherworldly experience. Not many illusionists actually progress to these art forms, either due to lack of inclination or skill, as those interested must master the other senses art forms first and therefore be of a high level.

By definition, these art forms are ephemeral: Although they can be repeated or copied, they cannot be made permanent (unless level 30+) or recorded. Elves appreciate that since, as immortals, everything is transient anyway, and it makes these experiences more intense and thrilling in their unending life.

Illusionists can also be spies or confidence artists, but these uses are not taught or recognized by Elven society. Of course, some elves do take up these professions, but they are more often dabblers or mentalists.

Elven illusionists may still be adventurers as they scour the world for new experiences to include in their art. Such illusionists then must, per force, also develop more practical (and traditional in Rolemaster) uses for their art such as combat or the aforementioned spying and confidence games. It is not their main focus, however, at least initially.

Illusionist optional rules

  • Add "spell artistry" (from Essence Companion) to the Illusionist everyman skills. This skill works as a supporting skill to the artistic or craft check appropriate for a performance.
  • Illusionists can use the Magic Ritual skill to build up very complex illusions and store them for rehearsing, future public performances, or replay. These rituals can also be recorded in writing, but these records do not completely encode the exact performance as the imagination of the illusionist performing the ritual is essential. When replaying such a ritual, the Illusionist makes a spell artistry check and determines the result on the Artistic-Active static Maneuver table. Use the usual Artistic-Active general modifiers (listed below the table in the RMSS) to this roll. An Illusionist can develop the Magic Ritual skill as an everyman skill, but only for the "illusion mastery" spell list, not any other spell list or spell category. This is an exception to the usual Magic Ritual skill rules. The "Enhance" category influences still apply.

Essence Alchemist

All Elven alchemists are of the Essence realm. This is a common profession among High Elf spell casters, and rare among other Elven races, especially Grey Elves. Dustown Elven alchemists are almost always Crystalist spellcasters, whereas Darkwood alchemists are often herbalist spellcasters.

Some Alchemists take to adventuring to explore foreign (human) crafting techniques, and experience the use of their craft. This is very uncommon though, especially since most elves consider human crafts serviceable but crude, and Dwarven craftsmen not only concentrates on metals which elves do not work, but do not share their crafting techniques anyway.

I use several alternative rules to the RMSS alchemy rules which are detailed separately below.

Alchemist optional rules

  • Inorganic skills are not available as a possible base spell list to Elven essence alchemist.
  • There is an alternative "Organic skills" spell list used mostly in the Dustown principality called "Hard Organic skills". The ordinary "Organic skills" spell list remains available, and common in the Darkwood principality. To get the "Hard Organic skills," make the following modifications to the Organic Skills spell list:
    • Remove all the spells dealing with cloth, leather, and rune paper. Also remove the "Organic Rune" spell.
    • Add the "Work Stone" and "Work Gemstone" spells from the Inorganic Skills spell list at the same level (1st and 11th respectively).
    • Add the "Work Laen" spell from the Inorganic Skills spell list at level 25, and a "Make Laen" spell at level 30.
    • The "Work Organic" and "Work Organic True" spell only work on "hard" organics such as horns, bone, spider chitin... not on soft organics such as hair, feathers, wax...
  • The "Other realm Imbedding" and "Liquid/Gas Skills" base spell list are uncommon but available.
  • Add the "Magic Staff" spell list as an additional possible alchemist base spell list.
  • Add the "Item Enhancements" spell list (from Castles and Ruins) as an additional possible alchemist base spell list.


This profession attracts those thrill-seekers who like spying or tricking others. Both roles are rare, and obviously not very popular with other elves. As a result, dabblers are almost always adventurers travelling the human empire or part of the Free League.

There are no special rules for this profession.


Monks belong to an eastern style culture and are inappropriate for this campaign.

Warrior Mage

This is a traditional Elven trope, but I do not like its realization in the Essence Companion. As a result, I have decided to include it, but with some modifications.

The main role of the Warrior Mage remains as an elite type of fighter who can use his magic to win most any combat, especially against other spellcasters. Although they can equal dedicated fighters, they can only do so in short isolated fights since when their PP run out, they are completely outclassed.

In Elven society, they play the role of law enforcers for the executive council of either principality, especially against rogue or evil spellcasters. In war, they are used punctually to beat enemy officers or champions.

Warrior Mage optional rules

  • The Warrior Mage may replace his "Warrior's weapon" Base List with the Magic Staff spell list.
  • Replace the "Combat Illusions" spell list with the "Sustain Body" spell list.
  • Add one Basic Melee Weapon style to the list of Everyman skills. Alternatively, the Warrior Mage may develop an Advanced Melee Weapon style as a non-restricted skill. Unlike a fighter, a Warrior Mage may not change this weapon style once he has mastered it.
  • Warrior Mages are normally outfitted by the executive council they will work for with +20 spidersilk robes (AT2), and a treeherd wooden weapon (with no bonus). Therefore, a Warrior Mage may use a single background option at character creation to get these two items, but he is then assumed to work for the executive council.

Alchemy alternative rules

Some of the rules below do not apply to items created by Arcane Alchemists. On the other hand, there are no Arcane Alchemists anymore on this world, and all arcane items were destroyed several millennia ago (with two known exceptions).

  • Clarifications:
    • A general spell gives a bonus to a single RR, so it can only affect one realm at a time.
    • The general spell cannot give a bonus to a category of skills with a 1-1-0.5-0 progression.
    • Spell adders and PP multipliers only work for a single realm.
    • For a hybrid spell user, a spell adder only adds spells for its realm, excluding hybrid base spell lists. Wearing a spell adder for each of his realms allows him to use the smaller one for any of his spells (including his base spells), and the remainder for the appropriate realm. Example: A sorcerer with a +2 Adder for Channeling and a +3 Adder for Essence can cast 2 extra spells on any of his lists, plus one extra spell of the Essence realm only.
    • For a hybrid spell user, average his PP multipliers for each of his two realms to determine the total multiplier. If he has only one PP multiplier, assume the other one is 1. Example: The Sorcerer also wears a X2 PP Multiplier for Essence. His total multiplier is the average of 2 for Essence and 1 for Channeling (since he has no such PP multiplier) for an effective PP multiplier of 1.5. When he finds a x3 PP multiplier for the Channeling realm, his effective PP multiplier becomes (2+3)/2=2.5
    • It is possible to combine a PP bonus with a spell adder and a spell multiplier, although the PP multiplier does not multiply a PP bonus if any.
    • An "unessence" or similar spell also empties spell bonus items, including a PP bonus. An affected hybrid spell user loses half his PP, the benefit of all spell bonus items from that realm, and can cast no spells of that realm or from his base spell lists. He can still cast spells from his other realm with the remaining half of his PP.
    • Magic items made by a Channeling, Essence, or Mentalism Alchemist cannot cast Arcane spells, effect arcane spells, give RR bonus against Arcane spells, give Arcane PP, or a spell bonus to Arcane spells.
  • A Weapon or Armor spell keyed to a general group works as a spell one level below with an extra +10 to that particular group. Example: "Muldek's Rapier" is a +10 treeherd wood weapon which is +20 in duels (a one on one fight against a humanoid fighting with at least one melee weapon). It was made with a Weapon III.
  • A similar effect can also be used for a general spell that give a bonus to RR against Open/Closed/profession base spell lists, or when using a skill in a particular way (e.g. sprinting when fleeing a fight).
  • Another similar effect is to have a spell adder work on a single list in exchange for an extra +1. Example: a +3 Spell Adder which works only on the spells of "Spirit Mastery" only requires a General II.
  • The General spell can be used to reduce the PP cost of a single spell list. Divide the PP cost (round up) of any spell on that list by the PP multiplier factor obtained from a general spell one level higher. A spellcaster can benefit from this effect for more than one spell list. It is not cumulative with a PP multiplier, though. Example: The "Burning Ruby" flickers with an inner flame and halves (round up) the PP cost of all the spells on the Fire Law Magician base list. It is made with a General II (cost divided by 2, a x2 requires a General III, reduced by one level).
  • Spell Skills: The General spell can be used to add either +5/+10/+15/+20 to static maneuvers, or +2/+4/+6/+8 to the basic spell attack of the spells of a single spell list. Two General spells are needed to get both bonuses.
  • To work magical material, reduce the Weapon/Armor/General spell needed by 2 levels. Therefore, Mithril, Laen, Eog need respectively Weapon/Armor/General III, IV and V. This is to reflect that in these cases you also need to procure the magical material, which is difficult, whereas the gain over an enchanted non-magical material is minimal.
  • Organic magical materials also require a Weapon/Armor/General spell to be worked. As for inorganics, this spell is one level below the natural bonus of the magical material. Therefore, Wyvern Hide and Spidersilk both require a Weapon/Armor/General III to be worked. The rules for Treeherd wood (described under Dyr Wood in Treasure companion) are unchanged.
  • Mithril, Laen, and Eog can be mined at some Earthnodes, but are not found naturally otherwise. They can be made magically by refining base materials magically using the Make spells on the Alchemist lists. Mithril is refined from silver, Laen from precious stones, and Eog from iron. The refinement process requires 10 units of the base material to make 1 unit of the enchanted one.
  • The colours of Laen depend on the precious stones used to make it: Red from ruby, clear from diamond, green from emerald, blue from sapphire, and smokey from a mixture of stones. Each type of Laen is associated with a particular type of spell and critical effect. When used to imbed a spell of that type, or an effect associated with that element, the time and cost is reduced as though the spell was one type lower. For instance, an appropriate "Greater Effect Weapon" would take the time and cost of a Weapon III spell even though the spell cast is Weapon IV. Red laen is associated with fire spells and criticals, clear laen is associated with light spells and criticals, blue laen is associated with water spells and unbalancing criticals, green laen is associated with earth spells and impact criticals. Example: "Frozen Flame" is a gem of red laen cut like a flame which works like a more powerful "Burning Ruby" above. It divides the PP cost of all the spells on the Fire Law Magician base list by 5 (round up). It is made by a 35th level alchemist using General IV, but the time and cost to make it is only that of a 15th level General III!
  • A directed elemental attack spell can receive the benefit of Weapon bonuses and effects as any normal weapon. It can affect either a spell embedded in the magic item itself (see e.g. "Abarak, Slayer of Fire Spirits" in the special items description of the treasure companion), or the spells cast by the wielder himself. In the latter case, the spell caster must make an attunement roll each time he has the enchanted item help his own directed elemental spells. Example: the "Darkfire wand" is made from the horn of a demon drake. It gives a spell caster casting a "fire bolt" spell a +25 bonus on his directed spell attack, and, when succeeding on his attunement roll, an additional cold critical of equal level. The OB bonus comes from the horn magical material (the demon drake is assimilated to a lesser drake) and requires a Weapon IV effect to be worked. The second effect requires a weapon IV "Greater Effect Weapon". It is considered an evil item (of demonic origin).
  • The "Shield" spell (or any other spell which creates a magical shield, armor, helmet, etc.) can similarly receive the benefit of Armor bonuses and effects Example: "Shield bracers" are common Elven magic items. The lesser versions give a +10DB bonus to a Shield spell cast by the wearer if he succeeds on an attunement roll when casting his spell. The greater version give a +15 bonus to the Shield spell and can be cast 3/day by the bracer. In this case, an attunement roll is necessary to cast the shield spell but not to get the DB bonus. The greatest version can cast at will a shield spell which produces a +20 wall shield. This last version requires an Imbed II and a Constant spell, an Armor II "Minor Increased AT" effect, and an Armor IV for the DB bonus.