A D&D3 campaign that starts with the PCs as ECL: 2 adventurers, in a world that has never known spells. But the PCs can freely take Matrix Mage, and develop their own spells. No multiclassing penalties.

(Starting at ECL 2 on the assumption that everyone takes something else for their first level.)

Now, while the PCs are developing spells on their own, the players aren't on their own. The GM has the full approval and revision process that applies to normal PC spell development, even(or especially) when (re)inventing PHB spells.

Basically, the spell list is the most broken part about D&D3. And the why is obvious if you're pro-post-Magic.

Helseth seems to be a Real Man to a great degree, so he'd probably play a non-caster and be happy at not having to face casters.

Hm, although there's other issues, like all the PHB caster classes have dailies... And the infinite magic items(like rods and traps) are part of the problem.

The Alchemy Decision

One possibility is to include the Alchemy Adept class, allowing magic items to exist. Notably, this allows for healing potions.

Another is to remove Alchemy Adept, and thus remove magic items. If the PCs want to heal better than the Heal skill, they'll have to invent the capability themselves.

Classes

There are no multiclassing penalties here.

Derived Classes

Aristocrat «NPC»

As in the DMG.

Bard

As in the PHB, minus spells, minus the alignment requirement, plus Bardic Music has no daily limit.

Beastwalker

A shamanistic type, who walks with and as wilder beasts.

As Druid, minus spells, minus the alignment requirement.

Berserker

A warrior from cultures that value individual heroism in battle.

As Barbarian, minus the alignment requirement, plus Will is a good save, plus Rage has no daily limit.

Commoner «NPC»

As in the DMG. For 100 XP times your current Commoner level, you can swap out one level of Commoner for some other class.

Expert «NPC»

As in the DMG.

Fighter

A warrior from the "civilized" cultures, trained in a body of advanced techniques.

As in the PHB, except a class feat slot at every level, and these slots can hold any feat(like character feat slots).

Rogue

As in the PHB, plus Fast Movement(as Monk).

Warblade

As in Tome Of Battle: The Book Of Nine Swords. I don't have the book, so they won't be appearing as NPCs, but if you do feel free.

New Classes

Alchemy Adept «NPC»

A crafter of alchemical items, in a world without true spellcasters.

INT is important to an alchemy adept because it governs most class skills, and especially Craft: Alchemy. `

HP/Lev: 1D8

SP/Lev: 8

BAB Factor: ¾

Fort: Low

Ref: Low

Will: High

Proficiency: Simple Weapons, Light Armor

Class Skills: Appraise(INT), Craft: *(INT), Decipher Script(INT), Knowledge: *(INT), Profession: *(WIS), Search(INT), Use Magic Device(CHA).

Bonus Languages: Draconic

Starting Ages: As Wizard.

Starting Gold: 5D6 × 10gp (175gp).

This Is Not A Spell, Summon Familiar


This Is Not A Spell <Su>: An alchemy adept can use Craft: Alchemy as if he was a spellcaster. With an alchemy lab, he counts as having any item creation feats. For purposes of crafting magic items, his caster level is equal to his class level(which stacks with an actual caster level, if any).

Knowledge of SRD spells is replaced with formularies; a formulary costs the same as a scroll of the same spell, but can't be used to actually cast the spell, and is not consumed by its use in alchemy. An alchemy adept can write a formulary even without an alchemy lab, as if scribing a scroll.

Summon Familiar: As the Sorceror/Wizard ability.

Matrix Mage

A true spellcaster, the unique advantage available to the PCs.

INT is important to a matrix mage since it governs the effectiveness of her spells, and CHA because it governs the MP she spends to cast them. DEX and CON are useful to adventuring matrix mages for protective purposes. WIS can be useful for skills, but most class skills are INT-based. STR hauls stuff and that's about it.

HP/Lev: 1D4

SP/Lev: 2

BAB Factor: ½

Fort: Low

Ref: Low

Will: High

Proficiency: Simple Weapons

Class Skills: Bluff(CHA), Concentration(CON), Craft/*(INT), Decipher Script(INT), Knowledge/*(INT), Profession/*(WIS), Spellcraft(INT)

Bonus Languages: Draconic

Starting Ages: As Sorceror.

Starting Gold: 3D4 × 10gp (75gp).

Spells, Summon Familiar


Spells: A matrix mage is a pure caster. Rather than daily spell slots, she has MP and spell matrices.

Each level she gains [6 + CHA Mod] MP. Normally(whether sleeping or fighting), she regains [Level] MP per hour. With 1min of meditation she can also regain [Level + CHA Mod] MP, min 1. She can also drain tass crystals, regaining 1 MP per 2 crystals; this takes a standard action to consume the energy from up to [4×Level] crystals.

Her class spell matrix ranks are equal to twice her class level; she allocates these ranks to create spell matrices, and can reallocate any or all with 1min of meditation. No single matrix's rank can exceed her INT mod, or exceed half(round up) of her class level.

After its ranks have been changed, a matrix is "blank". Before the mage can use it, she must install a spell inside, which takes 1min of meditation. (This can also be used to swap out a non-blank matrix.) A non-blank spell matrix can be used to cast the spell within, at any spell level up to the matrix's rank. Each casting costs [Spell Level × Spell Level] MP.

Normally, a matrix mage can only install spells she knows; this is a matter of personal memory, not involving spellbooks. She can alternately install a spell from a scroll, which consumes it as if cast. Every full 24 hours she has an unknown spell in a matrix, she can make a DC: [10 + Spell Level] INT check to learn it.

Summon Familiar: As the Sorceror/Wizard ability.

Other Character Stuff

Allegiances

Allegiances are used instead of alignments. Chaos and Law allegiances are mutually exclusive, as are Evil and Good allegiances.

Feats

A <Split> feat applies separately to a family of things; it will have a Split: section wherein you choose one, and you can take it multiple times with a different(specifically, non-overlapping) choice each time.

Energy Substitution I

Special: Choose an energy damage type: fire, cold, electricity, acid.

Benefit: When you cast a spell that deals energy damage, you can choose to apply this feat. This changes the spell's energy damage to the chosen type.

Energy Substitution II

Prereq: Energy Substitution I

Special: Choose an energy damage type: fire, cold, electricity, acid, sonic, force.

Benefit: As for Energy Substitution I, except they're mutually exclusive.

Energy Substitution III

Prereq: Energy Substitution II (Energy Substitution I)

Benefit: When you cast a spell that deals energy damage, you can choose to apply this feat, and choose an energy damage type: fire, cold, electricity, acid, sonic, force. This changes the spell's energy damage to the chosen type. This replaces(since it includes) the effects of previous Energy Substitution feats.

Evasion

Prereq: base Ref save +3

Benefit: As the Monk class ability.

Improved Evasion

Prereq: Evasion ability, base Ref save +6

Benefit: As the Monk class ability.

Master Strike

Prereq: Improved Unarmed Strike

Benefit: You deal extra damage with an unarmed attack, or an attack with a special monk weapon, as the Monk class.

Matrix Mastery <Levelled>

Prereq: 1 spell matrix rank

Benefit: You gain 2 spell matrix ranks per feat level.

Spells

These are "pre-approved" spells. Unless otherwise stated, they have these stats:

MP Cost: [Level×Level]

Cast Time: 1 action

Min Level: 1

Dispel «Metamagic»
Range: 160' Target: 1 spell of lesser or equal level Duration: Instant Effect: The target spell's level is reduced by 1. If this would reduce it below its min level, it ends.
Fire Bolt «Strike»

Range: 160'

Duration: Instant

Effect: Fires a flaming bolt as you direct, dealing [Level]D6 fire damage to the target hit. Make a Bolt attack against Dodge defense to hit the intended target.

Designer Note:

Shadow Mana Ram «Shadow»

Effect: When you cast this spell, select another spell you know; this spell takes on that spell's properties(cast time, MP cost, effect, etc), except casting costs(MP cost and material components) are doubled, and it retains the «Shadow» tag.

Equipment

Tass

Gone are the bad old days when an alchemist had to sacrifice their very quintessence to craft magic items; now, crystals known as "tass" are used instead. Low-level alchemists are employed - sometimes self-employed - growing tass in bathtub-sized pools.

Each crystal of tass replaces 1 point of crafting XP cost. Tass is a commodity, with a value of 5gp per crystal. Each crystal is roughly the volume of an ordinary coin, although in the shape of a spindle-cut gem, and weighs half as much. For crafting purposes a poolful of tass is considered a single item, with a value equal to the sum of all the tass therein, and a Craft: Alchemy DC of 10. A skilled alchemist can tend multiple pools at once, at +5 DC per additional pool.

Normal tass is clear and colorless, with an odd refraction; drained tass is blackened, and can be crushed to powder in the hand.

Unlimited Magic Items

These are replaced by items that use tass as "fuel". For items with spell equivalents, a single casting consumes [Spell Level × Caster Level] tass. For spellish effects with no spell level, approximate it as half(round up) of caster level.

For "bursty" items, notably +1 weapons, a single spell equivalent enables the item to activate during the next [Caster Level] minutes.

In general, an item can hold a lot of mana. For most, this is 100 × the largest single consumption. Such an item will have a slot for tass crystals; slotting a crystal drains it. When working from an easy-to-use container like a coin pouch it still takes a move action to draw, slot, and drop each crystal, so this large reservoir generally avoids field reloading.