New player Here. Short intro: I finally found a gaming group on my LGS thats willing to take in a complete newbie. My first game will be ready in a month and I'd like some help with my first character.

I'm Interested in playing a Human Sorcerer and after a bit of googling I found this little guide here: "The Mailman: A Direct Damage Sorcerer" by DeAnno

The build seems fun enough to play but I'd like a few changes:

  1. Add Archmage in the mix of classes with Master of Elements as high Arcana.
  2. Possibly Squeeze in the ability to use of Wands and Scrolls for buffing purposes.
  3. Possibly squeeze in master of counterspelling
  4. Still be good at talking to people
  5. Downgrade armor to robes

3 is optional but being able to reflect spells back sounds like a fun thing to do so it would be much appreciated.

We are going for a 32 point buy for stats and I dont really mind the alignment. As for books, I have a full month to acquire everything needed so feel free use whatever books necessary to meet this goal.

I'm mainly interested in meeting these conditions for roleplaying purposes and I'd be lying if I said that I didnt want to play as a character similar to Xykon from order of the stick. My interest in getting archmage levels is for master of elements (using different elemental variants of meteor swarm, delayed blast fireball and chain lightning seems really appealing to me.) and also for roleplaying purposes (The fantasy equivalent of a highschool dropout having to go through magic college and write his magic thesis)

Again I'm fairly new so please point out the final skills/feats/stats at level 20 if its not too much trouble.


2 Answers 2


Incantatrix, spell-selection, and metamagic feats are the heart and soul of the mailman. The remaining class levels are not important, and could be archmage levels. In other words, you definitely can do it. Just take the feats and spells you need and have at it. You’ll still be phenomenally powerful.

That said, there is a problem. The problem with this is that archmage is a difficult class for the sorcerer to enter, and its most useful effects aren’t exactly stunning for the mailman build.

First, entry. Spell Focus in two schools is useless to a mailman because a mailman doesn’t want spells that allow saving throws; giving your opponent a chance to prevent you from delivering is the antithesis of everything the mailman is about. Skill Focus (spellcraft) is worthless to just about everyone. Finally, the spell requirement could be very harsh: sorcerers have a hard enough time choosing spells, having to arbitrarily “hit” five different schools with your 5th-and-higher spells known hurts a lot.

Note that archmage is really a wizard prestige class, since wizards can be master specialists (using a Spell Focus feat for two different classes and getting the Skill Focus for free), and can also scribe as many spells as they want into their spellbook to hit all five schools. Sorcerers can enter, and use it well, but it requires some real dedication.

But as a mailman, that dedication and sacrifice to enter the class is not rewarded very well.

  • Mastery of Elements is solid enough, but between force-damage effects, and Energy Substitution and Searing Flames or Piercing Cold, a mailman shouldn’t need it; very few things are immune to force damage and nothing is immune to Searing Flames/Piercing Cold.

  • Mastery of Counterspelling is weak because counterspelling is weak. As a mailman, you should not going to be readying spells to counterspell, because you can do so much more with your standard action by just nuking it to hell. That’s what you do, and you do it very, very well. No need to counterspell if the spellcaster is already dead. A dedicated counterspelling build is not compatible with being a mailman, and is ultimately lackluster.

  • Mastery of Shaping is worthless to you because you are about the single-target nuke, not area-effect. Area spells invariably offer saves, which are not your game. Still, this is a powerful effect, and worth picking up for situational use... if it weren’t for how painful being an archmage is to begin with.

  • Arcane Reach is actually excellent for you, and ultimately what may make the whole thing worth trying. If you are starting at 17th level, designing your build around getting this could work really well. But if not, you cannot afford to wait until you get it, and sitting around with spells and feats you don’t want so you can enter archmage in several levels would be extremely painful.

  • Arcane Fire is garbage and you do far more damage with those spell slots than it ever can, Spell Power is nice but too small a bonus to justify entry, and Spell-like Abilities cannot be augmented with metamagic so that option is just worthless to you.

All that said, a note on counterspelling and the mailman. As noted, it’s not worth it to ready an action to counterspell when you could just kill the caster. But maybe you find something you can’t kill in one shot, and letting that character get even one spell off could be your doom. A high-end fiend while you’re still in middling levels, perhaps, where it can soak the damage and respond with blasphemy.

In this situation, a mailman doesn’t counterspell, per se, but rather counter-nukes. This is a brutal tactic that I recommend you keep in your back pocket for a truly dangerous occasion, because using it too much might have enemies using it on you, and you don’t want that.

The way it works is, you ready an action for when someone casts a spell, just like you would if you were counterspelling. You don’t ready a counterspell, though: you ready a nuke. Your most reliable, hardest-hitting nuke. When they cast, you nail them with this, and not only do they take a ton of damage (that’s what you do, after all), but they also must make a ridiculous Concentration check or lose their spell.

The best part is, this works on almost anything. Any spell, power, mystery, even spell-like abilities, all of them can be disrupted by getting hurt, and your nukes hurt a lot. Skill checks tend to scale quickly, better than +1/level, so usually making Concentration checks is easy. But when you hit for a hundred or more damage, and the DC 10+damage dealt? That check isn’t easy, it’s basically impossible.

  • \$\begingroup\$ Unless the DM is letting the players craft +10 thingamabobs of Spellcraft, skill focus (Spellcraft) is very useful to any Incantatrix, given the high Spellcraft DCs one needs to face. \$\endgroup\$
    – Zachiel
    Aug 29, 2014 at 17:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Zachiel Spellcraft is very useful, even before incantatrix comes into play. Skill Focus just gives far too small a bonus to be worth a feat. I suppose for a really desperate incantatrix, it might be the only play that works, but I’d certainly try to avoid it like the plague. \$\endgroup\$
    – KRyan
    Aug 29, 2014 at 17:54

As The Mailman article says, "the first 16 levels are pretty critical, but the last 4 are fielder's choice". You can easily replace any of the higher levels with Archmage. This is because Incantatrix is really powerful, to a degree that most DMs find unreasonable. But if yours is okay with it, have fun.

At 32 point buy, Str9 Con14 Dex14 Int14 Wis8 Cha17 works well. Regarding skills, take Spellcraft as high as possible (+items, buffs, etc), Arcana 5+ for synergy, and the rest of your points can be spent on roleplay choices.

Unless the entire game is going to be played at level 20, don't sweat about final build. Starting at single digits and working your way up, you'll be a skilled player by the time you reach level 15 (earliest you can start Archmage) and can make your own competent variation rather than follow someone else's. Note: the essence of this question is a newbie wanting to play Sorc/Incantatrix/Archmage successfully. Done.


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