D&D 5E 5e Wizard = specialist wizard?

maransreth

Explorer
Howdy all,
If this has been mentioned before, could you please point me to any previous threads? Thank you

Getting back onto EnWorld after a long hiatus due to 4e. Continued playing a homebrewed 3.5, but have been really looking forward to the new edition. Read the last playtest and we played a few games with the playtest rules, love the Basic Rules and finally got my PHB yesterday. Haven't had much chance to read it thoroughly but so far one thing has stood out to me (guessed it would happen from the playtest rules) and I wanted to hear other people's thoughts or work-arounds.

At 2nd level a wizard must choose an arcane tradition. Arcane traditions are the classic schools of magic. So at 2nd level all 5e wizards are automatically specialist wizards.

Why?

What happens if I want to play a generalist wizard? What possible class abilities might be available for those wizards who don't want to specialise?

Thoughts?
 

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Falling Icicle

Adventurer
There aren't any generalist wizards anymore. Every wizard picks a specialty school, but there's no penalty for the other 7 schools. There aren't opposition schools or anything like that anymore.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Why?

What happens if I want to play a generalist wizard? What possible class abilities might be available for those wizards who don't want to specialise?

There is no explicit "generalist" option in 5e D&D Basic/PHB.

As for why... there was a generalist option at some point in the playtest, and it was nifty. It had a very useful feature, allowing the Generalist Wizard (called "Scholarly Wizard IIRC") to cast rituals from the spellbook, instead of from the more limited list of prepared spells on a given day. Later, this became a feature of all Wizards. IMO the designers just ran out of good ideas, and were already pressed enough to design 8 specializations, so they probably thought it was best not to have even more esp. compared to other classes' much lower number of subclasses.

If you don't want to specialize, keep in mind that in 5e you are not forced to learn or prepare any minimum amount of spells from your specialization, and that there is no such thing as forbidden schools. So even when you choose e.g. the Illusion specialization, you have no restrictions to which spells to learn, prepare and cast: you can use any mix in any amount. Clearly, the drawback is that your specialization gives you benefits when using those types of spells, and if you don't, then you are not exploiting those benefits.

Note however that not all those specialization benefits apply only to spells of that school. E.g. the Evocation specialist in Basic has 3 features which work only on evocation spells (1 is minor), plus 2 features which work on all spells which deal damage.

So you have a few options, in order of complexity:

1) just pick one specialization, but feel free to learn/prepare/cast any spells you want, without worrying too much if your Wizard is specialist on paper

2) don't pick a specialization as a whole, but every time your Wizard would gain a specialization benefit, freely choose one benefit (of that level or lower) from any specialization [official guidelines for combining subclasses should appear in the DMG]

3) get a hold of older playtest documents and use the Scholarly Wizard, but you'll need some work to replace some of its features which have become common to all Wizards

4) design a new subclass which benefits that apply to spells of all schools, stealing ideas from other parts of the game

(I highlighted above which is my favourite suggestion)
 

Evenglare

Adventurer
Yeah, you are going to have to design your own generalist wizard if you really really want to go that route. I mean you can talk about it here, that's cool, but it would probably be much more productive to head over to the enworld homebrew board, email Wizards or tweet mike mearls on twitter. PHB is out and there's no changing it, but maybe in a splat book or something, it'll come out. I always tended to think of wizards as scientists, and you can't just go to college and be a scientist, you go to be a biologist, a chemist, or (as I did) a physicist. Even as a physicist (and other disciplines) there's focuses you choose... astrophysics, quantum physics, high energy/particle physics etc etc. So the Wizard specialist doesn't really bother me, but I could see how it might bother others.
 
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Quickleaf

Legend
IMHO "universalist wizard" is a weak character concept because there is no universal school in 5e and because it tells you nothing about the characters approach to magic.

"Hedge magic" or "scholarly magic" are both good (and different) concepts that capture the feel I think you're aiming for. Say we took "scholarly magic" as an example, here are some ideas...

Scholarly Tradition

Level 2 Ritual Savant: The gold and time you must spend to copy a ritual spell into your spell book is halved. In addition you can copy all rituals into your spell book regardless of class, though spells not of your class can only be cast as rituals.
Level 2 Cautious Reader: When reading writing or inscriptions, you never trigger any traps, curses, or spells contained within them unless you wish to do so. In addition when you read something you can cast detect magic on just that writing without expending a spell slot and without the need for components.

Level 6 Potent Rituals: When you use a spell as a ritual, cast it as if you had expended a slot of one level higher than the spell's ritual. In addition, when casting spells which can be made permanent, halve the number of days you must consecutively cast the spell.

Level 10 Scholarly Insights: You can use your action to make connections between various pieces of lore you've gathered and make amazing deductions. When you do, choose one of the following benefits which lasts until you're incapacitated or you take a long or short rest. You can't use this feature again until you take a rest.
Greater Comprehension. You can read any language, or communicate in a very basic way in a language which shares a common alphabet as a language you already know.
Puzzle Solving. You gain advantage on all Intelligence checks to solve a puzzle, play a game of skill, or crack a code.
Rushed Ritual Casting. You can cast a ritual with just a few minutes of extra time (at most 5, possibly less if your DM allows). However, when you do so you cannot apply your Potent Ritualist benefit and there may be other complications at your DM's discretion.
Topical Knowledge. You can apply half your proficiency bonus to Intelligence checks to recall lore pertaining to skills you're not proficient in.

Level 14 True Grimoire: Your spell book is invested with power from years of your pouring over at pages, developing a familiar-like bond with you. This grants you the following benefits:
  • You can direct your spell book to copy spells onto its pages without you needing to do so - a quill will magically transcribe a spell scroll into the book at your command with no need for your concentration or time (though you still must spend the cost for rare inks and other components needed).
  • You can summon your spell book to your hand as long as you and it are on the same plane.
  • You can get a sense for the immediate environment around your spell book by concentrating , though while doing so you no longer perceive your surroundings.
  • If your spellbook is ever destroyed, you can speak a command word when in some grand library to cause a copy of your spellbook to mystically appear on the bookshelves. You will still need to pay 10 go for each spell level in the book to copy over everything with rare inks and make sure the formulae are right.
  • Add two extra spells to your spell book, and every time you gain a level, add three spells to your spell book instead of two from now on.
 
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1of3

Explorer
Why would you want to be a generalist? You do not loose anything by specialising. However some specilisations are less special than others. Diviner gets spell reclycling for divination spells, but not really bonuses in divination spells, for example.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
THat's what it looks like. Everybody specializes...if that's not a commentary on the modern society...but I digress...

I think Quickleaf's "Scholarly Magic" above is a great way to go...It mirrors shades of a "Ritualist" theme I've developed for my homebrew game system. "Hedge Magic" is another good one...and in my system would grant you Arcane versions of some Druidic spells (mostly those dealing with plants.).

If you wanted to go simpler and make a "General/Universal Mage" option...I would be inclined to go something like this:
@ 2nd level: Arcane Savant: The time and gold needed to transcribe any spell or arcane-based ritual into your spellbook is halved. Broader Comprehension: You breadth of understanding for the principles of magic allow you to choose/copy 2 new spells to add to your spellbook per level. These spells must be of a level that you can already cast.

@ 6th level: Expert Caster: Basically, I'd keep Potent Ritualist, above, and roll in a Potent Caster. Casting rituals at 1 level higher than they actually are and the mage can cast a spell per day at 1 slot higher than the spell's normal level. This bonus level does not expend any of the mage's slots for the day.

@ 10th level: [borrowing the name from Marvel's FASERIP game] Eldritch Bolts: Your mastery of the energies and mysteries of the arcane allow, as a reaction [or bonus action?], to harness and cast beams of pure magical energy. A successful attack is required. A successful Dex. roll negates. The bolts do 3d6 of a damage type of the mage's choice, being woven at casting to deal one of the following: fire/heat, ice/cold, electricity, or pure magical force. Up to two (1 from each hand) bolts may be cast in a single round at two different targets. The Eldritch Bolts do not require nor use up any existing spell slots. (Alternately, could just give them the warlock's Eldritch Blast?)

@ 14th:
Quickleaf's True Grimoire is just too cool not to have and really sounds like something a "real wizard" would have and find useful. :)
 

docdoom77

First Post
Technically there is no generalist wizard, but all wizards are still generalists. I get wanting the idea of a 'generalist,' but really, nonr of the specializations have any drawbacks whatsoever, so they are nothing like the specializations of the past. You're not choosing to be good at evocations at the cost of anything else. Rather, you are a generalist, with a little flair for evocation spells.

That's my take on it anyway.
 

DMZ2112

Chaotic Looseleaf
I don't feel terribly strongly about this issue but I can't imagine that it will go for long without being addressed. I mean, virtually any wizard subclass that comes out from this point on /has/ to be a generalist in the historical sense because all the historical specialist options have now been established.

So the real question isn't, "Why can't I play a generalist wizard?" but rather, "When the non-school-based subclasses start appearing, will any of them have abilities that avoid clashing with the historical concept of a generalist wizard?"

I think that's virtually a given.
 

Li Shenron

Legend
Level 14 True Grimoire: Your spell book is invested with power from years of your pouring over at pages, developing a familiar-like bond with you. This grants you the following benefits:
  • You can direct your spell book to copy spells onto its pages without you needing to do so - a quill will magically transcribe a spell scroll into the book at your command with no need for your concentration or time (though you still must spend the cost for rare inks and other components needed).
  • You can summon your spell book to your hand as long as you and it are on the same plane.
  • You can get a sense for the immediate environment around your spell book by concentrating , though while doing so you no longer perceive your surroundings.
  • If your spellbook is ever destroyed, you can speak a command word when in some grand library to cause a copy of your spellbook to mystically appear on the bookshelves. You will still need to pay 10 go for each spell level in the book to copy over everything with rare inks and make sure the formulae are right.
  • Add two extra spells to your spell book, and every time you gain a level, add three spells to your spell book instead of two from now on.

This is very nice. You should consider submitting this to WotC :)
 

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