5E I gave up--Here's a Warrior-Mage base class - Page 4
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  1. #31
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    Hi all! I took some time to think through the class more. I'd like to provide a simplified comparison for ease of analysis. I'd be particularly interested in commentary from those who have looked at the original proposal, including @FrogReaver, @Hemlock, @Zardnaar, @cbwjm, @Blue, as well as anyone else who likes to look at these sorts of things.

    I'm going to take as a baseline for balance the wizard's Bladesong Tradition, since the designers felt it was more or less balanced. My class needs to be comparable in overall balance to Bladesinger.

    My table will present a simple comparison of essential features level by level, for a skeletal baseline, that should be no more powerful than Bladesinger. Then I'll provide a list of features that can be added, and it would help me greatly if I could get people to basically "say when" when the class hits the point where it is overpowered compared to Bladesinger.

    Except for what is spelled out on this table and intro, assume that this class's features and stats are identical to a Bladesinger. Ie, you are taking away the stuff in the Bladesinger columns, and adding in the stuff in the Warrior Mage columns. I made an exception by noting where they both gained Extra Attack. You can more or less forget the first post on this thread at the momentójust look at this chart.

    Ability Scores. I'm assuming both characters are half-elves with starting ability scores of Str 8, Dex 16, Con 14, Int 16, Wis 10, Cha 10, and alternate increasing Dex and Int, Dex first. Their final ability score improvement goes to Con.
    Weapons and Armor. Each character wields a rapier (Bladesinger uses a dagger at level 1) and open hand. I start them with the best armor they can likely afford, and upgrade Warrior-Mage to half-plate at level 3. They use green-flame blade where it will improve their damage.
    Melee DPR. This is the difference between the Warrior-Mage's at-will melee damage and the Bladesinger's.

    Note that The Bladesinger will be using bladesong for most combats, granting them the improved concentration save and AC in parentheses, in addition to its other benefits.

    Variants: You could change the Warrior-Mage to Strength-based and gain additional damage at the cost of AC. You could also use a shield for a +2 AC boost, but that might interfere with your spellcasting (same issues the Valor bard has with their weapon/armor proficiencies).

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    Does this baseline Warrior-Mage seem overpowered compared to the Bladesinger? Unless I'm a blind idiot, I'm going to assume most of you will say "no".

    Damage Improvements
    With Warrior-Mage lagging behind at levels 14-20, and based on the assumption that they are intended to be superior to Bladesinger in putting out at-will melee damage (while Bladesinger is superior at spell casting), something should be done to fix that. Here are some possibilities to consider.

    1) War Magic (with or without a third attack)
    If we give the Warrior-Mage War Magic at 8th level, this is how the column for their melee damage compared to bladesinger will look.
    Level 1-7.........Same as above table
    Level 8-10.......+8
    Level 11-13.....+13
    Level 14-15.....+5
    Level 16.........+3
    Level 17-20.....+7

    (Why do tabs not work on this forum? )

    This is a big boost at levels 11-13, keeping them more effective in melee. At levels 14+ it just puts Warrior-Mage back ahead of Bladesinger, countering the Song of Victory improvementóa desirable outcome.

    If Warrior-Mage gets both War Magic and Extra Attack at levels 18 or 20, the third attack would not affect their damage on the chart. Even if they wielded a greatsword (with the appropriate fighting style), the increase in their damage per round would be less than half a point compared to using War Magic.

    2) Extra Attack (third attack)
    Without War Magic, getting a third attack at levels 18 or 20 would change their damage compared to Bladesinger at those levels to +5. They would still be behind Bladesinger at levels 14-17.

    A smooth progression would follow (+3 to +7 damage for Warrior-Mage) at levels 14+ from giving Warrior-Mage either a third attack, War-Magic, or both at level 14. That would seem to be the most mathematically desirable option when comparing to Bladesinger (see issues below).

    The Extras
    As you can see, Bladesinger still has a lot going for them in the useful features department, mostly from the wizard class itself rather than from their subclass. We should give Warrior-Mage a little something so they don't feel bland. These extras aren't really there to add raw power, but rather to expand features. We could add any or all of the following.

    3) Spell Mastery
    Level 20 spell mastery makes a great capstone feature. It won't see much play, but it helps you feel cool when you get there.

    4) Improved War Magic

    Eldritch Knight gets this at 18th level, while Valor Bard gets it at 14th level. Either one of these works. If balance isn't really an issue, I favor 14th level because doing both magic and melee is kind of their thing.

    5) Indomitable Spirit (described in OP)
    This one is concept preservation as much as anything. As a blend of warrior and mage, it would be nice if they had a bit more mental fortitude than a warrior, and weren't as much of a rag doll as a wizard. At the same point, an extra save would be way too much. This is a possible solution. A nerfed and limited version of Indomitable addressing only the saves that a fighter or wizard would get that the warrior-mage doesn't. It could easily be split up to hand out only one at a time (Wisdom at about 10th level, then Strength at some higher level), though delaying it too far (to 20th, for instance) would feel off.

    6) Arcane Specialization (described in OP)
    This one is a personal favorite of mine. I really want to allow things like minor conjuration, minor alchemy, or improved minor illusion. It is supposed to be an occasionally useful toy, not a major power bump. To attempt to address the fact that some traditions simply give more combat relevant abilities, I'm going to propose significantly nerfed versions of most of them.
    Arcane Ward: The ward has your level + your Intelligence mod hit point, and you regain the level of the abjuration spell cast. (Instead of twice your level and twice the spell level.)
    Portent: You gain only one fortelling die. (Instead of two.)
    Hypnotic Gaze: You can maintain this effect on a creature for no longer than 5 rounds.
    Sculpt Spells: You can affect only 1 creature.
    Grim Harvest: You regain hit points equal to the spell's level, but only if itís a necromancy spell. (I'm still iffy on this one.)
    I like granting it at 6th level because it showcases their wizardly training, in the same way that fighting style showcases their fighter training.

    Issues and Resolving Them
    The issue with delaying War Magic to level 14 is that they don't feel quite strong enough as a warrior that way. They shouldn't be outclassing the dedicated warrior classes, but they need to be making more than a token effort at damage output, which is basically what the Valor Bard is doing. In fact, by level 15, the Valor Bard can have all the essential melee battle elements that the Warrior-Mage has at that level, except for a fighting style, and they get all the other bardic goodies to go along with that. It's a delicate balance here, most definitely, but I'd like to get them War Magic at level 8 if at all possible.

    Reducing Second Wind to once per long rest was an easy sacrifice to weaken the baseline a bit, and those are the sorts of things that work well with the concept.

    What Say Ye?
    Anyone willing to play the "say when" game with me?
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  2. #32
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    I read up on bladesinger. It is restrcited to one hand weapons. It doesn't get a fighting style (about a 20% damage increase for one handed weapons). It can't just dump int as its ac and concentration depends on that.

    While to the untrained eye yours my look almost in line with that subclass, these few things that sound so minor make a huge difference!
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  3. #33
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post
    What Say Ye?
    Anyone willing to play the "say when" game with me?
    For me, the line in the sand is that the war mage must not get Extra Attack 3. You could give him any or all of the other things you mentioned and my powergamer instincts would not trigger; but if you give him even a couple of those things and also Extra Attack 3, then he looks clearly better than the Bladesinger, as well as better in most ways than the Eldritch Knight.

    (I realize that the Bladesinger and the Eldritch Knight both have better AC; "clearly better" is an intuitive value judgment about the overall package, not a statement about dominance at every point.)
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  4. #34
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    A few caveats before I comment:

    Iím not great at breaking the game. Some people can intuitively see unintended combos, but when it comes to spell casters, the range of spells available make that difficult for me to do.

    I also havenít run any numbers for my suggestions. Take most of this as just brainstorming.

    Iím also only commenting on the things that jumped out to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post

    2) Extra Attack (third attack)
    Without War Magic, getting a third attack at levels 18 or 20 would change their damage compared to Bladesinger at those levels to +5. They would still be behind Bladesinger at levels 14-17.

    A smooth progression would follow (+3 to +7 damage for Warrior-Mage) at levels 14+ from giving Warrior-Mage either a third attack, War-Magic, or both at level 14. That would seem to be the most mathematically desirable option when comparing to Bladesinger (see issues below).
    I think the issue that youíre running into here isnít a math one. Itís a system issue. The Core rules have walled off third and fourth attacks for Fighters. Breaking that assumption before WotC does it will create a knee-jerk response of unbalanced (whether or not the math supports it). Youíll see the same response to any homebrew that allows for multiple concentration spells. Personally, if I were you, I would look into impacting their damage output differently perhaps with something similar to the Clericís Divine Strike ability (flavored as the Fighter-Mage channeling magic through their weapons) and forego extra attacks entirely. That would widen the gap between this class and the Eldritch Knight/Valor Bard. Youíre already getting a lot of flexibility by having full access to the Wizard spell list (like Haste). Giving up the flexibility of a second or third attack while maintaining DPR might be a good solution to thread the needle here.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post

    3) Spell Mastery
    Level 20 spell mastery makes a great capstone feature. It won't see much play, but it helps you feel cool when you get there.
    I think this is probably fine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post
    4) Improved War Magic
    Eldritch Knight gets this at 18th level, while Valor Bard gets it at 14th level. Either one of these works. If balance isn't really an issue, I favor 14th level because doing both magic and melee is kind of their thing.
    Spitballing here without any real math behind me, but I wonder if you could craft a feature that either boosted the cantrip or the weapon attack portion of War Magic instead of just taking the improved feature as is. I have not run any numbers, but I would look for opportunities to make this class feel more like its own expression of the concept than just meshing existing features (which, to be fair, is what you stated that you wanted to do so grain of salt and all that). Maybe expanding a single target to two targets or just a damage increase (add +Int to damage or similar). Just an idea for you to consider.

    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post
    5) Indomitable Spirit (described in OP)
    This one is concept preservation as much as anything. As a blend of warrior and mage, it would be nice if they had a bit more mental fortitude than a warrior, and weren't as much of a rag doll as a wizard. At the same point, an extra save would be way too much. This is a possible solution. A nerfed and limited version of Indomitable addressing only the saves that a fighter or wizard would get that the warrior-mage doesn't. It could easily be split up to hand out only one at a time (Wisdom at about 10th level, then Strength at some higher level), though delaying it too far (to 20th, for instance) would feel off.
    This is just me, but I donít know why this needs to be nerfed. Being able to reroll one failed Str or Wis save per long rest and having to take the roll does not strike me as game breaking. Iím not great at breaking the game though so maybe someone sees something I donít. Itís already limited from the Fighter ability (Indomitable) in type (fighters can pick any save) and amount (fighters get more saves). I donít think you need to split up Str and Wis.


    Quote Originally Posted by Sword of Spirit View Post
    6) Arcane Specialization (described in OP)
    This one is a personal favorite of mine. I really want to allow things like minor conjuration, minor alchemy, or improved minor illusion. It is supposed to be an occasionally useful toy, not a major power bump. To attempt to address the fact that some traditions simply give more combat relevant abilities, I'm going to propose significantly nerfed versions of most of them.
    Arcane Ward: The ward has your level + your Intelligence mod hit point, and you regain the level of the abjuration spell cast. (Instead of twice your level and twice the spell level.)
    Portent: You gain only one fortelling die. (Instead of two.)
    Hypnotic Gaze: You can maintain this effect on a creature for no longer than 5 rounds.
    Sculpt Spells: You can affect only 1 creature.
    Grim Harvest: You regain hit points equal to the spell's level, but only if itís a necromancy spell. (I'm still iffy on this one.)
    I like granting it at 6th level because it showcases their wizardly training, in the same way that fighting style showcases their fighter training.
    Iím not sure what the concern is for Grim Harvest. At best, youíre getting back 9 HP if you kill someone with a 9th level Necromancy spell (which may not even exist in the game yet). Again, Iím not great at seeing broken combos, but I canít imagine that breaking anything. Maybe your concern is that itís not strong enough? If you really want to differentiate it and possibly let it add more HP more in line with the original feature, consider letting it grant temporary HP instead of actual HP. Since temporary HP donít stack, the fighter-mage couldnít really heal himself effectively. He would just be creating a small buffer.

    There are a few things that I would look into that might be beyond your stated scope of design.

    I would look at stealing from the War Caster feat for class abilities. A lot of people donít like using feats for homebrew abilities, but a Fighter-Mage that cannot innately use a sword and shield while casting spells feels like it misses the mark to me. Perhaps something that lets you use your weapon as a spell focus as well? You could limit it to one weapon that you are bonded to, but forego the Eldritch Knight perks (summoning, no disarming, and more than one weapon).

    Taking away Ritual Caster could be helpful as balance.

    Hope some of that is helpful. Good luck with it!
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  5. #35
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthan View Post
    I’m not sure what the concern is for Grim Harvest. At best, you’re getting back 9 HP if you kill someone with a 9th level Necromancy spell (which may not even exist in the game yet).
    No, the best case is to kill 10 chickens with Vampiric Touch IX, for a total of 90 HP of healing, plus half of whatever damage you did to the chickens. (Though in reality you'd probably just stick with Vampiric Touch V for 50 HP.) It's nice as a source of out-of-combat self-healing, but not game-breaking.

  6. #36
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    No, the best case is to kill 10 chickens with Vampiric Touch IX, for a total of 90 HP of healing, plus half of whatever damage you did to the chickens. (Though in reality you'd probably just stick with Vampiric Touch V for 50 HP.) It's nice as a source of out-of-combat self-healing, but not game-breaking.
    I want to make sure I'm tracking your math right (I've never played a necromancer in this edition). Vampiric touch is 3d6 at level 3. Average 10 or 11 (go with 10) damage dealt. You get half that health back (5 hp), but Vampiric Touch is concentration so you repeat it with the other chickens (10*5=50 hp gained). Grim Harvest would give you 1 hp with the fighter-mage (9 hp with a necromancer mage). Over 10 chickens, that's 10 hp for the fighter-mage (90 hp for the necromancer). So fighter-mage, with chickens, on average 60 hp gained. Necromancer, with chickens, 140 hp gained. That's neat. That's the kind of system breaking that I tend to miss. Thanks for sharing.

    I looked at the spell again. Has there been clarification on the damage dealt language? I think you were assuming that you could only recover the amount of HP the creature has (a chicken has 1 HP). I was assuming that damage dealt meant what the dice said regardless of leftover HP as long as the creature dies (If it has 1 HP and the spell deals 10 damage, I assumed the half health received would come from the 10). That's an interesting question. It hasn't come up in my games so I'm not sure how I would rule it.

  7. #37
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    No, the best case is to kill 10 chickens with Vampiric Touch IX, for a total of 90 HP of healing, plus half of whatever damage you did to the chickens. (Though in reality you'd probably just stick with Vampiric Touch V for 50 HP.) It's nice as a source of out-of-combat self-healing, but not game-breaking.
    Your comment has made me think that I might institute a house rule for vampiric touch capping the healing at the current hit points of the target. I could cap it at half the current hit points since you regain half the damage dealt but that would require me to use math.

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  8. #38
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthan View Post
    I want to make sure I'm tracking your math right (I've never played a necromancer in this edition). Vampiric touch is 3d6 at level 3. Average 10 or 11 (go with 10) damage dealt. You get half that health back (5 hp), but Vampiric Touch is concentration so you repeat it with the other chickens (10*5=50 hp gained). Grim Harvest would give you 1 hp with the fighter-mage (9 hp with a necromancer mage). Over 10 chickens, that's 10 hp for the fighter-mage (90 hp for the necromancer). So fighter-mage, with chickens, on average 60 hp gained. Necromancer, with chickens, 140 hp gained. That's neat. That's the kind of system breaking that I tend to miss. Thanks for sharing.

    I looked at the spell again. Has there been clarification on the damage dealt language? I think you were assuming that you could only recover the amount of HP the creature has (a chicken has 1 HP). I was assuming that damage dealt meant what the dice said regardless of leftover HP as long as the creature dies (If it has 1 HP and the spell deals 10 damage, I assumed the half health received would come from the 10). That's an interesting question. It hasn't come up in my games so I'm not sure how I would rule it.
    I was indeed assuming you'd only get half of the chicken's HP from Vampiric Touch directly (so, probably half of 1 HP rounded down, likely zero--ask your DM), so all the numbers I quoted were from Grim Harvest exclusively. With Vampiric Touch III, a warrior-mage gets back HP equal to the spell's level, so 3 HP per chicken you kill, total 30 HP, not just 10 HP. With Vampiric Touch V, it's 5 HP per chicken killed, so 50 HP total, etc. (If the DM makes you actually roll attacks against the chickens it will be slightly less because occasionally you'll miss.)

    There has been no clarification on the damage dealt AFAIK, except whatever clarification you get from your DM.
    Last edited by FormerlyHemlock; Wednesday, 14th June, 2017 at 06:13 AM.

  9. #39
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    Quote Originally Posted by cbwjm View Post
    Your comment has made me think that I might institute a house rule for vampiric touch capping the healing at the current hit points of the target. I could cap it at half the current hit points since you regain half the damage dealt but that would require me to use math.
    It really doesn't matter--the bulk of the healing a Necromancer is getting is from Grim Harvest, not Vampiric Touch's healing effect.

    Theoretically you could gain even more HP with Evard's Black Tentacles (8 HP per chicken killed, but it doesn't take your action so you could potentially gain hundreds of HP per round, especially if you had an accomplice releasing fresh chickens into your Black Tentacles every round) but that's just a theoretical exercise. And actually, even the Grim Harvest trick hasn't turned out to be that useful in practice, IME, since Necromancers tend not to lose that many HP in the first place, and there are more efficient ways of healing anyway with less logistical hassle than carting around chickens. (Don't get me wrong, I love chickens and they are hilarious--but Extended Aura of Vitality (1) heals more HP for less cost, (2) can be spread around multiple party members, (3) doesn't consume chickens.) Vampiric Grim Harvest is mostly only useful in solo scenarios, not party play.

  10. #40
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hemlock View Post
    It really doesn't matter--the bulk of the healing a Necromancer is getting is from Grim Harvest, not Vampiric Touch's healing effect.

    Theoretically you could gain even more HP with Evard's Black Tentacles (8 HP per chicken killed, but it doesn't take your action so you could potentially gain hundreds of HP per round, especially if you had an accomplice releasing fresh chickens into your Black Tentacles every round) but that's just a theoretical exercise. And actually, even the Grim Harvest trick hasn't turned out to be that useful in practice, IME, since Necromancers tend not to lose that many HP in the first place, and there are more efficient ways of healing anyway with less logistical hassle than carting around chickens. (Don't get me wrong, I love chickens and they are hilarious--but Extended Aura of Vitality (1) heals more HP for less cost, (2) can be spread around multiple party members, (3) doesn't consume chickens.) Vampiric Grim Harvest is mostly only useful in solo scenarios, not party play.
    I do love me some necrotic fried chicken.

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