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D&D General Bards & Sorcerers & Summoners & Warlocks & Witches & Wizards oh my!


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Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Those all make sense to me, in concept and conceit. But what about -function-?

I'm going to assume that Arcane, Divine, and Probably Primal spell lists have a different range of spells on them that have some, but not massive, overlap to help create more daylight between the characters.

I keep flip-flopping between wanting the wizards to have access to everything (since they're the folks who study all of magic) and wanting there to be some things only accessible to certain mortals because they have something granting them that power (in this case the gods, or beings from the spirit realm, or connection with nature). At the moment I'm leaning towards the later. I certainly think the levels of specific spells should be related to class and sub-class/archetype. And since I'm picturing an E6 game with the spells topping out at 3rd, that would stop some classes from getting some spells.

For the four that get spells by studying, I'm having a hard time seeing the Sorcerer [Bloodline sparked] and Witch [Pact sparked] not having access to the Wizard [schooled] spells, except for level problems. Maybe the extra formal schooling of the Wizard, or blood of the Sorcerer, or patron of the witch makes some of them easier or harder. It feels like there should be very few Sorcerer and Witch spells that the Wizard can't do.

I can picture the Bard [sing it] having a different list because of the way they're doing it (they wouldn't be able to just use a spell-book and vice-versa). Maybe some having to do with thoughts/emotions would only be doable through song and not through the usual VSM spells of the other classes? Maybe a lot of the wizard spells don't fit the idiom at all. Is that a justification for Bards to have healing but not Wizards? But why shouldn't Wizards be able to heal (maybe a level behind)? I mean, they can do necromancy. Should Witches have healing?

For the limited spell book ones (Scion? and Warlock?) I picture them having very tailored lists depending on bloodline or patron. Maybe there are some things on their list that would be shared by the Sorcerer and Witch respectively and not Wizard.

I picture the Clerics, Shaman, and Druids having more limited spell lists than the Wizard/Sorcerer/Witch/Bard, but being much more expansive than the Scion/Warlock, and having them tied to the power source. I keep picture them being very different than the spellbook kind, but then there are some priests in fiction that study magic and some things the shaman does I picture a Witch (but not Warlock) doing.

But what functional difference will exist between, say, Wizard and Sorcerer or Warlock and Scion? Could the "Innate Spark" be presented, instead, as a subclass function of the primary class?


Wizards probably get some sort of Spell School options for their different types of magic, but could you instead do "Draconic Ancestry Sorcerer" as an option for the Wizard class which gains Dragon-Style magics earlier?

Or will the Sorcerer have some other mechanic that sets them apart as a class like Spell Points and Metamagic Feats?
I don't picture the Wizard, Sorcerer, or Witch (full studied casters) being so different a subclass couldn't cover it. The spell casting would be the same, but the school/bloodline/hexes or whatnot feel like they're on the same level. I guess my question (based on another thread) is if people are annoyed by sub-classes? Will the person who really, really, really wants a Witch be annoyed that they're a wizard sub-class?

Is that just "marketing". If you imagine a page labeled "Incanists" in a big faded font, with Wizard, Sorcerer, Witch, and Bard in medium sized, non-faded colored font, with a picture of all four at the bottom of the page... does that make the person with their heart set on something feel like they aren't being slighted?


(1) Although it's a great sacrilege, I'm not sure if I would have rangers, paladins, or bards as gishes. The distinction between a warpriest and magus, for example, will also be a by-product of their respective spell lists in terms of what tactics they adopt, but there will be a number of similar, if not overlapping abilities that they would want as a result of some basic precepts (e.g., casting with weapons).
So if I imagine a full-caster Cleric, half-caster War Priest, and splash Paladin, do the other classes have a similar breakdown? Do you make the half-claster a sub-class of the full class? Or do you just say multi-class things and give some feats or powers available only to multi-classers?

(2) I think that it's okay to admit that there is a lot of conceptual overlap between classes and that they could hypothetically be combined but then have that difference expressed in their subclasses. This is what Starfinder did, IMHO, quite well. There is a Technomancer (the studious wizard analogue), but then there is also the Mystic. This latter one covers a lot of things that aren't necessarily about academic study, but also mystical traditions. Through its connections/subtypes it basically provides a Healer, a Psion, a Druid, a Shaman, Crusader/War Priest, etc. FYI, the Starfinder Mystic was basically the nail in the coffin that convinced me that Psionics should be more about Wisdom than Intelligence.
That's where I'm leaning, but then I read the Witch thread, or folks wanting a Warlord, or...

(3) Another option would be to remove standard or class spell lists entirely. Monte Cook's Arcana Evolved had a universal spell list for classes. However, spells at each level were divided between Simple, Complex, and Exotic. Furthermore, spells also had keyword tags (e.g., Plant, Fire, Dragon, Radiant, etc.). So some class spell access could be distinguished between spell complexity, spell level, and key words.

The Magister (wizard analogue), for example, had up 9th level simple and complex spells.* The Mage Blade (the gish), in contrast, only received simple spells up to 7th level. The Greenbond (druidic healer analogue) had up to 9th level simple spells but also complex spells with the Plant or Positive Energy tags.

* Arcana Evolve had character levels up to 25th and went as high as 10th level spells. I'm capping this at 20th for purposes of easier comparison.
It feels like even the classic way, like in Pathfinder, ends up with a lot of tags on things. Luckily if I'm only going E6, limiting to 3rd level spells cuts things own a lot! Thinking of it like Cook did might help me make the lists by class/sub-class if I choose to go that way though.

No classes. Just levels.

Go full Mutants and Mastminds or GURPS with it. (This is a joke. That would not be remotely D&D. Nor respect the OP's intention)
The reverse of that (Just classes. No Levels.) is close to another question I'm mulling. Picture a game where you level advance to a point, and then you just get new feats (some of which are more advanced powers). How many levels do you need for it to still feel like DnD. Is it better to go to 9 or 12 levels (with smaller advances in power between) than just have 6? If it's just 6 is it better to ponder a game where everything is ad-hoc advancement? (Is that how VtM 2e was?).
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
I keep flip-flopping between wanting the wizards to have access to everything (since they're the folks who study all of magic) and wanting there to be some things only accessible to certain mortals because they have something granting them that power (in this case the gods, or beings from the spirit realm, or connection with nature). At the moment I'm leaning towards the later. I certainly think the levels of specific spells should be related to class and sub-class/archetype. And since I'm picturing an E6 game with the spells topping out at 3rd, that would stop some classes from getting some spells.

For the four that get spells by studying, I'm having a hard time seeing the Sorcerer [Bloodline sparked] and Witch [Pact sparked] not having access to the Wizard [schooled] spells, except for level problems. Maybe the extra formal schooling of the Wizard, or blood of the Sorcerer, or patron of the witch makes some of them easier or harder. It feels like there should be very few Sorcerer and Witch spells that the Wizard can't do.

I can picture the Bard [sing it] having a different list because of the way they're doing it (they wouldn't be able to just use a spell-book and vice-versa). Maybe some having to do with thoughts/emotions would only be doable through song and not through the usual VSM spells of the other classes? Maybe a lot of the wizard spells don't fit the idiom at all. Is that a justification for Bards to have healing but not Wizards? But why shouldn't Wizards be able to heal (maybe a level behind)? I mean, they can do necromancy. Should Witches have healing?

For the limited spell book ones (Scion? and Warlock?) I picture them having very tailored lists depending on bloodline or patron. Maybe there are some things on their list that would be shared by the Sorcerer and Witch respectively and not Wizard.

I picture the Clerics, Shaman, and Druids having more limited spell lists than the Wizard/Sorcerer/Witch/Bard, but being much more expansive than the Scion/Warlock, and having them tied to the power source. I keep picture them being very different than the spellbook kind, but then there are some priests in fiction that study magic and some things the shaman does I picture a Witch (but not Warlock) doing.


I don't picture the Wizard, Sorcerer, or Witch (full studied casters) being so different a subclass couldn't cover it. The spell casting would be the same, but the school/bloodline/hexes or whatnot feel like they're on the same level. I guess my question (based on another thread) is if people are annoyed by sub-classes? Will the person who really, really, really wants a Witch be annoyed that they're a wizard sub-class?

Is that just "marketing". If you imagine a page labeled "Incanists" in a big faded font, with Wizard, Sorcerer, Witch, and Bard in medium sized, non-faded colored font, with a picture of all four at the bottom of the page... does that make the person with their heart set on something feel like they aren't being slighted?

The reverse of that (Just classes. No Levels.) is close to another question I'm mulling. Picture a game where you level advance to a point, and then you just get new feats (some of which are more advanced powers). How many levels do you need for it to still feel like DnD. Is it better to go to 9 or 12 levels (with smaller advances in power between) than just have 6? If it's just 6 is it better to ponder a game where everything is ad-hoc advancement? (Is that how VtM 2e was?).
It might behoove you, then, to blend them as much as possible. Though a bard is so much more than a full-caster with swashbuckling and thief skills. Might require a second class. But that still brings you down from 4 to 5.

The reason I suggest no healing for Wizards is so Clerics/Druids/PossiblyBards have something they're particularly good at that the Wizard/Sorcerer/Witch just can't touch. That's all. Another way to set those groups apart.

So... My suggestion, with your willingness to blend classes and subclasses:

Make the Incanter Class be -very- simple and focused entirely on spellcasting and spell-recovery with a fairly high (6-10) number of levels where their subclass adds abilities that aren't strictly spellcasting, light or no armor, and an array of esoteric skills. Have the Wizard get an expanded spell list over other Incanters and probably a metamagic option, have the Sorcerer gain access to certain magic earlier and gain bloodline traits, and have the Witch gain their hexes, familiar, broom-riding, and stuff.

Then do the same with the Warlock. Splitting the "Occultist" class into "Pact of the X Warlock" and "Bloodline of Y Scion". With X and Y being replaced by any patrons and ancestors.

And then... do the same thing with Invokers. Baseline spellcasting abilities and more grounded skill choices with some light and maybe medium armor options... Then have Shamans gain more combat-centric stuff with their spirits guiding them rather than shapeshifting for the druid or divine intervention for the cleric.

That'd bring your 9 full casters down to 4. Invoker, Incanter, Occultist, and Bard.

As far as doing half-caster half-warrior versions of each... Maybe? That'd still bring it to 8 instead of 27.
 

If I were to make a fantasy heartbreaker right now, I'd have two casting classes: the spellcaster (who masters arcane science) and the chosen (who has some direct connection to a source of magical power.) Archetypes within the class would be 'where you learned' or 'where you got it from.'

Mostly because getting more defined than that doesn't seem to add interesting options, just close off potential.

I'd also make sure a fighter and expect could chose "with magic" as their fighting style / skill specialty, alongside the more obvious options.
 

steeldragons

Steeliest of the dragons
Epic
Could it be...and I'm truly just spitballing off the top of my head, here... and I will further qualify that I am completely satisfied with how magic (sources, spell lists, class progressions, etc...) work in my homebrew/game/setting... so this is really just for you, @Cadence , to consider for your game and classifications and such that you are wrestling with...

...but, could it be that the solution is really just as simple as doubling the class' player decision points in two parts? Like, a la the 5e Warlock functions with their Patron and Pact decision points?

Wizard: a class that is a full caster. Choose: Arcane, Divine, Primal (Psychic, Occult, whatever else you decide for magical/spell "Sources")
Player Decision Point 1: The Method: Study/Learned; Inheritance/Innate; Granted/Outside
Player Deicision Point 2: The Madness: Art; Craft; Science

They're all "wizards." But what they call themselves (or are called) in the world can be whatever their combo's determine.
Arcane + Study + Art = Wizard
Arcane + Innate + Art = "Sorcerer" (if you feel the need to have one)
Arcane + Granted + Art = (D&D style) Warlock
Arcane + Study/Innate/Granted (depending on character/player story/flavor) + Craft = Witch
Arcane + Study/Innate/Granted (player's choice) + Science = Artificer (or Alchemist?)

Arguably, changing the type of magic needn't change the class...and Divine + Study + Art could still = "wizard"...just a wizard who studies, uses, and prepares Divine spells.

Like I said, just some off the cuff, spitballing musings. Do with it what thou wilt.
 

Cadence

Legend
Supporter
Though a bard is so much more than a full-caster with swashbuckling and thief skills. Might require a second class. But that still brings you down from 4 to 5.

So now I'm mulling Bards.

Is the bard as written in 3 & 5 pretty much a D&Dism in terms of their powers/skill-set? Did the Celtic inspiration even do spells in the stories? Does it almost have more (seeming) influence as how it's written up now from the characters in the Kalevala (and de Camp and Pratt's Shea visiting there) and medieval troubadours?

And so, thinking through what the most important niches a bard fits, Is it the music based magic? The lore seeking? Being a psuedo thief-version-of-a-Gish? Is it satisfying that D&Dism? Is it having the outlet for the charisma based caster who wants to be charming?

----

In terms of spells, the limited known spells in 5e (fitting with oral historians, as opposed to a wizard studying each day) doesn't seem to fit with being the adventurous knowledge seekers in a world literate enough to have magic books for the wizards and religious texts (and in many settings libraries and the like). Is it just that bardic songs are so supernatural they can't be written down?

It has me wondering if I should have one version of bard that works like incanter-Wizard types with their books (so the bard who takes physical notes of things and can restudy the details on a long rest and change up) and the ones that work with the smaller known list like the scion/warlock I'm picturing (so the bard with the vast store of mundane knowledge who has stretched to also hold the magic songs just in their head and can do it a bit more).

-----

Tangential to bards... I get caught up wondering some times why any of the full casters have the d8 combat and semi-decent skill set that the Cleric, Druid, and Bard have, but the Wizard doesn't. Should the ones dedicating themselves that much to spells be passing up on the combat? Or do those classes just not have the cool big spells the Wizards do and so need the extra for balance purposes? Should the classic cleric, druid, and bard all be half casters? Or should they all just get variants with less combat/skills and more spells too? Or is there no reason to think that all the casters need to match that way from one to the other?

----

What if the druid and ranger magic (connecting with nature) was powered by song. Does it change them and the bard too much to have druid = full caster, bard = 1/2 caster, ranger = splash? Is the thing it hurts most wanting the bards to have animal companions to fit the motif? Or does it actually open the druid and ranger up more more to let them not always do those things (thus giving the all three classes more options)? Is the only thing it hurts then making the bard not really fit in courtly setting since they would be more nature connected? How big of a loss is that?
 

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