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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    I think that the current design of the wizard class in 5e was a mistake, following in the same mistake that 3e made. A class that is basically Humongous Spell List, the class is a bad class. There's very little class fiction, almost no opportunity cost, and it stomps on everyone else's toes. A necromancer wizard casts fireball just as well as a light cleric does. Or a red dragon sorcerer. That's just not right, and gives no place to expand or add flavor. The spell list eats up the entire class power budget, leaving basically ribbon features.

    So here's my proposal.
    ------------------
    1. Change the wizard's Spellcasting (Learning Spells of 1st level and higher) feature to read (changes bolded)
    Each time you gain a wizard level, you can add two wizard spells of your choice to your spellbook for free. Each of these spells must be of a level for which you have spell slots, as shown on the Wizard table. They also cannot be higher than second level if they are from opposed schools or higher than 5th level if they are from allied schools. (see your individual Arcane Tradition for these schools). On your adventures, you might find other spells that you can add to your spellbook (see the "Your Spellbook" sidebar). You may learn spells of levels 3-5 from these sources regardless of school, but may not learn spells of levels higher than 5 unless they are from your specialized schools.
    2. Throw away all the current PHB subclasses. They're wack.

    3. Build new subclasses based on actual thematic traditions. Each subclass would have 2 specialized schools, 2 opposed schools, and the rest are allied schools. This means that choosing a subclass is choosing what spells you can take at higher levels.

    For example, take a (thought experiment) Tradition: Necromancer wizard.
    Specialized Schools: Necromancy, Transmutation.
    Opposed Schools: Evocation, Conjuration

    This wizard would never be able to pick up fireball with a free spell choice. He'd have to learn it from a scroll or someone else's book. And would never be able to learn meteor swarm. In exchange for this reduced flexibility, you'd now have room to actually give the (hypothetical) Necromancer some actual class features. Things that aren't just minor changes to casting spells. Things like
    * Undead resilience
    * Non-spell-based command of undead.
    * Ways to properly maintain and upkeep his undead, now with little risk of someone else grabbing that feature.
    * etc.

    Things that actually play into the class and introduce some thematic character.

    While a (thought experiment) Battle Mage (specialized Evocation/Abjuration, Opposed Enchantment/Illusion) could have features that directly enhance his image as a front-line warrior as well as a mage. At the cost of reduced flexibility.

    And you could also have subclasses (like a variant of the Bladesinger) who don't get specialized or opposed schools--all are allied. But they can't learn 6-9th level spells. They'd still be able to upcast into those slots and would learn their spells just as fast as any other wizard, but they'd have a wide array of lower-level spells they can use instead of spreading out over higher levels. And actually be able to pay for their increased martial presence (and maybe have room to even boost the spell-and-sword image a bit, making them more of a true spellblade).
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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Itís an interesting start-but thereís a lot of work to be done. Especially since schools of magic arenít balanced against one another.
    I have a LOT of Homebrew!

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by JNAProductions View Post
    Itís an interesting start-but thereís a lot of work to be done. Especially since schools of magic arenít balanced against one another.
    Correct. Honestly, I'd prefer to just abandon the whole "class spell list" concept and the schools of magic entirely. They're a useless appendage, neither being good flavor or good mechanics.

    If I had my real way, I'd instead tag each spell with 1...N "themes". Then classes would give access to certain themes, while restricting others. And mandating a choice. Your spell list would then be the union of your chosen themes.

    So a Guardian wizard and a Pyromancer wizard would have entirely (or nearly entirely) disjoint spell lists. While a Guardian wizard and a Guardian cleric would have similar spell lists, differentiated by secondary themes chosen via subclass.

    But that's an even larger ask.
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    MindFlayer

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    I would be tempted to give some choice.

    Chose a specialist school. It is your subclass and determines the features you get

    Chose two allied schools. At level X you may chose the class feature from level Y from one of your allied schools

    All other schools are opposed schools.




    My preference wouldn't be to totally limit by level the spells from opposed schools but to rather make them cost a spell slot one level higher for any given effect (i.e. hold person on 4 targets would use a level 6 spell slot). For the right spell at the right time its still a bargain, but it is a serious sacrifice.

    Given the desire to play up the specialist role of the wizard I would throw in some free picks - one spell from your school from any class (level 2, level 10, level 14). This would let you get a span of spells that exemplifies your specialism, coming at even numbered levels would let the classes for whom it is a class spell get it first, starting at 2 makes it a little harder to dip a level for super-efficient access to spell lists.

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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    I'd prefer a system that treats schools of magic like skills. Every wizard starts off being able to cast spells from at least one school. As a wizard advances, they might choose to master more schools of magic - although if they do so they'll be giving up some other versatility boost, such as having fewer mundane skills or fewer spells prepared. A high-level wizard might have the ability to cast from every school of magic, but this should be a special achievement that isn't automatic even for a max-level wizard.

    I'd also like to see the return of dual-school spells, i.e. spells where you need to be able to cast from two schools in order to cast them. That'd allow for interesting options for not only each school, but each combination of schools.

    This system would also give wizards more room for horizontal advancement, i.e. becoming more versatile as opposed to just more powerful as they gain levels.

    Forcing wizards to specialize in exactly one school seems arbitrary. I recognize that tracking a wizard's varying level of masters in each school separately would make the class unreasonably complicated, but there's room for a lot more nuance before the class gets bogged down in system soup. Starting rogues in 5e can choose four skills from a list of 11 - why not have wizards choose 2 schools from the list of 9, with the possibility of learning more?

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Herbert_W View Post
    I'd prefer a system that treats schools of magic like skills. Every wizard starts off being able to cast spells from at least one school. As a wizard advances, they might choose to master more schools of magic - although if they do so they'll be giving up some other versatility boost, such as having fewer mundane skills or fewer spells prepared. A high-level wizard might have the ability to cast from every school of magic, but this should be a special achievement that isn't automatic even for a max-level wizard.

    I'd also like to see the return of dual-school spells, i.e. spells where you need to be able to cast from two schools in order to cast them. That'd allow for interesting options for not only each school, but each combination of schools.

    This system would also give wizards more room for horizontal advancement, i.e. becoming more versatile as opposed to just more powerful as they gain levels.

    Forcing wizards to specialize in exactly one school seems arbitrary. I recognize that tracking a wizard's varying level of masters in each school separately would make the class unreasonably complicated, but there's room for a lot more nuance before the class gets bogged down in system soup. Starting rogues in 5e can choose four skills from a list of 11 - why not have wizards choose 2 schools from the list of 9, with the possibility of learning more?
    That kind of thing (the pseudo point buy) is way too complex for 5e. Although I did have the default as 2 schools specialized, 4 allied. And being able to mix and match means that you end up being able to dump the ones you don't use much, for basically no loss but instead just a gain. And means that the subclasses don't mean anything thematically. As I see it, the goal is to force wizards to specialize, and to make their subclasses be able to add meaningful features. To do that, you need a fixed, specific target.

    Edit: And I'll note that reducing a wizard's versatility is one of the key goals here. Right now, wizards can basically do anything (cast any of their spells), and they have the widest list of anyone. I want to end that. Completely. No more generalists, at least not without serious cost.
    Last edited by PhoenixPhyre; 2021-03-01 at 10:15 PM.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    I would recommend giving wizard a much narrower spell list in general with basically only the iconic wizard spells then opening up the chosen school as part of the subclass.

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Ideas for features (tagged by school pair, but not given levels):

    Explosive Illusion
    Evocation, Illusion
    When a creature physically interacts with an illusion spell you cast, you can use your reaction to end the effect for everyone. If you do so, the illusion explodes. All creatures within X feet must make a Dexterity saving throw against your spellcasting DC, taking Nd6 force damage per spell level of the triggering illusion on a failure, or half as much on a success. If the spell was a cantrip, it deals (N/2)d6 damage on a failed save.

    Corpse Explosion
    Necromancy, Transmutation
    As a bonus action, choose a corpse you can see within 60 feet or one of the undead you control. The corpse swells and explodes into an 10' radius acidic mist that lasts for 1 minute and creates heavy obscurement. Creatures that start their turn in the mist or enter it for the first time on a turn must make a Constitution saving throw against your spellcasting DC, taking XdY acid damage on a failure or half as much on a success. The radius of the effect increases by 5 feet for every size category larger than medium that the corpse was. You may use this feature a number of times equal to your Intelligence modifier (minimum 1). Expended uses are regained when you finish a long rest.

    Rebounding Charm
    Enchantment, Abjuration
    When you cast a spell that causes the charmed condition to one target and the target succeeds on the saving throw or was immune, roll a d20. If you roll lower than twice your level, the spell slot was not consumed by the casting. Once you benefit from this feature, you cannot do so again until you complete a long or short rest.

    Defensive Casting
    Abjuration, Divination
    Abjuration spells that normally cost your reaction no longer do, but once you cast such a spell, you cannot cast that spell again until the beginning of your next turn.

    Predictive Evocation
    Evocation, Divination
    When you cast an evocation spell targeting a single creature you can see, that creature no longer gains any benefit from cover other than full cover. If the spell requires an attack roll, make the attack roll at advantage. If it requires a saving throw, the target makes it at disadvantage.

    Enchanted Bone Armor
    Necromancy, Abjuration
    While you are not wearing armor or wielding a shield, your armor class is equal to 13 + your Dexterity modifier.

    Roll the Bones
    Divination, Enchantment
    When you take the Help action to assist with an Intelligence or Charisma check to uncover information, you may add your Intelligence modifier to the result.

    ------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by clash View Post
    I would recommend giving wizard a much narrower spell list in general with basically only the iconic wizard spells then opening up the chosen school as part of the subclass.
    That, in effect, is what I'm doing. Just without needing to rewrite the whole list.
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    NecromancerGuy

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    That, in effect, is what I'm doing. Just without needing to rewrite the whole list.
    I realize it achieves the same result but I feel like your solution increases the complexity in a non 5e way. If we are going to rebuild the wizard I would rebuild the spell list from the ground up rather than removing available spells as part of the subclass. Subclasses never remove available spells. To me it indicates a problem in the base class as those are the features you get regardless of subclass so rather than removing using the subclass, it just shouldn't be in the base class to begin with.

    All that said I like the idea here. The wizard cannot be both specialist and generalist. I like restructuring it to be as specialist and I feel like focus on 2 schools per subclass is a good way to do it.

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    I would be tempted to give some choice.
    This is pretty much why my own attempts at this involve making the casting of spells require a prerequisite of being able to cast other spells in the same school. It guides players down specialization, but if someone wants to be a Illusionist/Diviner (assuming these are opposed schools) mix it doesn't penalize them specifically.

    That said. I'm interested in the ideas presented thus far. Willing to see what gets created out of this.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by clash View Post
    I realize it achieves the same result but I feel like your solution increases the complexity in a non 5e way. If we are going to rebuild the wizard I would rebuild the spell list from the ground up rather than removing available spells as part of the subclass. Subclasses never remove available spells. To me it indicates a problem in the base class as those are the features you get regardless of subclass so rather than removing using the subclass, it just shouldn't be in the base class to begin with.

    All that said I like the idea here. The wizard cannot be both specialist and generalist. I like restructuring it to be as specialist and I feel like focus on 2 schools per subclass is a good way to do it.
    It's not restricting them based on subclass. The base is locked down, and the subclass increases your options by giving you specialties.

    I've experimented with classes with small class lists and large bonus spell lists. It wasn't satisfactory, and it constrains subclass design tremendously.
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    This is pretty much why my own attempts at this involve making the casting of spells require a prerequisite of being able to cast other spells in the same school. It guides players down specialization, but if someone wants to be a Illusionist/Diviner (assuming these are opposed schools) mix it doesn't penalize them specifically.

    That said. I'm interested in the ideas presented thus far. Willing to see what gets created out of this.
    I liked the clerics in 3rd edition with a choice of two domains. It felt like you could really customise your character from even a modest selection. A necromancy/abjuration wizard would feel like a great controller of undead with all the magic circles and stuff from abjuration and all of the raising dead stuff from necromancy... on the other hand an abjuration/illusion wizard would feel like they should be using illusions to misdirect and position enemies for the opportune blasting spell.

    I think that some come more naturally than others - an illusionist/diviner, to use your example, seems like an information warfare specialist and a natural pairing.

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    Daemon

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by MrStabby View Post
    I liked the clerics in 3rd edition with a choice of two domains. It felt like you could really customise your character from even a modest selection. A necromancy/abjuration wizard would feel like a great controller of undead with all the magic circles and stuff from abjuration and all of the raising dead stuff from necromancy... on the other hand an abjuration/illusion wizard would feel like they should be using illusions to misdirect and position enemies for the opportune blasting spell.

    I think that some come more naturally than others - an illusionist/diviner, to use your example, seems like an information warfare specialist and a natural pairing.
    As I've been thinking through this, the bold is very true. Some were obvious. Others...I haven't figured out yet.
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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    I've tried something similar for 3E. You can mostly ignore the class and basic itself, that's a whole other thing. The part that might interest you starts in post three, Lores.

    Basically, I've grouped spells into narrow, thematic groups, where you have to take lower ones in one lore to get the later ones. And taking more spells from the same Lore gives you extra powers.
    "In dark times, should the stars also go out?"

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    Titan in the Playground
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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    As I've been thinking through this, the bold is very true. Some were obvious. Others...I haven't figured out yet.
    Hereís my thoughts on this.

    1) not allowing specific school combinations seems overly limiting to the generic mage concept. Thereís always going to be some concept that would fit a different pair of schools than initially thought.

    2) having subclasses for all school pairs is 28 subclasses. Thatís... a lot.

    Perhaps it would be easier to come up with a list of playstyles you wish to support with subclass abilities to push them toward that playstyle while letting the player pick whichever two schools they want.

    So you can have the Warmage subclass which provides -just spitballing here- temp hp to yourself whenever you have a self-buff on. And can ignore a failed Concentration saving throws a few times per short rest while dealing more damage against adjacent enemies. A player would look at that and get that itís for melee mages, probably Abjurer plus something damaging be it evocation or conjugation or something.

    While your Blaster would have things about area of effect or Mentalist messes with saving throws. Whatever. But it would be a lot fewer playstyle subclasses than the all pairs 28 and wouldnít limit character ideas like making certain no combination is impossible.

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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
    Daemon

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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dienekes View Post
    Hereís my thoughts on this.

    1) not allowing specific school combinations seems overly limiting to the generic mage concept. Thereís always going to be some concept that would fit a different pair of schools than initially thought.

    2) having subclasses for all school pairs is 28 subclasses. Thatís... a lot.

    Perhaps it would be easier to come up with a list of playstyles you wish to support with subclass abilities to push them toward that playstyle while letting the player pick whichever two schools they want.

    So you can have the Warmage subclass which provides -just spitballing here- temp hp to yourself whenever you have a self-buff on. And can ignore a failed Concentration saving throws a few times per short rest while dealing more damage against adjacent enemies. A player would look at that and get that itís for melee mages, probably Abjurer plus something damaging be it evocation or conjugation or something.

    While your Blaster would have things about area of effect or Mentalist messes with saving throws. Whatever. But it would be a lot fewer playstyle subclasses than the all pairs 28 and wouldnít limit character ideas like making certain no combination is impossible.
    Thing is, I want to limit (or actually remove) the "generic mage concept". I absolutely don't want people looking at the wizard and thinking "this is a mix and match, build your own class" class. I want it to have a core identity. Where the traditions actually mean something, represent something that could be an in-universe "school of practice".

    So a hobgoblin wizard academy (by the default lore) is only going to teach evocation and abjuration. They're teaching people to be magical artillery. That's about it.

    (In my world), the Kaelthian academy is tightly connected to the local temple. So they have theurges (specifically followers of the god of magic). Who wouldn't have specializations, but would have access to select cleric spells. And they would have (very tightly in-universe) defined opposed schools (necromancy being the big one).

    Open-access schools lets people pick and choose, getting 99% of the flexibility for a token cost. This is like mechanical flaws--you choose the one that doesn't actually affect your character but you get the benefits. That's a hard no for me.

    And I don't plan on making all of the subclasses--just the 5-6 that make the most sense and cover the obvious bases (so at least each school has one subclass that specializes in it). The rest can be left open
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    Ettin in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Specializing the Wizard: A framework for future work.

    I might start by thinking of a defensive ability for each school.

    Some are kind of done already, if you want to take them: enchantment, abjuration, portent kind of does defense... and add to these the low level defense spells. Not just shield and mage armour but also mirror image and blur. I think it would be a good start if each option at level 3 had something to help them survive.

    I also think that there may be a need to add some further content. Having one cantrip for each school would be a good start - or maybe even just scrap cantrips for "wizards" and give a school thematic at-will ability (or a couple of them) at level 1.


    EDIT: This isn't to suggest that wizards shouldn't have spells from other schools at all. But there is something a bit wrong if your illusion wizard for most of a campaign spends more turns casting evocation spells than illusion spells. I think it is good if the other schools feel suplimentary rather than a crutch.
    Last edited by MrStabby; 2021-03-02 at 10:20 PM.

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