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D&D 5E Designing a base gish class and possible subclasses

Paul Smart

Explorer
Hello everyone. D&D 5e is a great system, probably my favourite overall and I have played since the chainmail days. That being said, a base gish class is one of the few things that is missing. So let's talk about what should be in the base class and possible subclasses.

I see the following for a base class. Note these are just basic ideas.

Light armour - raised to medium armour as per suggestion
D10 hit points
A spell strike ability (hit with a weapon and have a spell effect go off)
Its own unique spell list
A choice of fighting styles
Half caster with 3 cantrips - starts with 2 with one added later as per suggestion.

Possible subclasses:

1) Knight - gets heavy armour and defensive spells
2) A ranged variation (Archer, Dagger thrower etc.) A better-designed Arcane Archer. Uses Medium Armour. -Changed to light armour as per suggestion.
3) An unarmed version based on touch attack spells. Basically an Arcane Monk in light armour. Gets more spells. - Can use weapons but is optimized around unarmed combat.

Help me expand on this. What would you like to see?
 
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Thaumaturge

Wandering. Not lost. (He/they)
Maybe different subclasses get different spells added to their spell lists, like cleric domains?

Thaumaturge.
 

Shardstone

Hero
Publisher
I'm currently designing one called the Pendragon, who was mentored by a Mystical Guide (ala Merlin or something else) that taught them how to use spells/weapons in order to take on some kind of looming crisis of some sort. The core story is a hero trained in intellect and in arm. Sub-classes are called Destined Crowns, which have a 20th-level capstone ala a Paladin, and their main mechanic is spending spell lots for a temporary "magical rare" called Awakening Majesty. Don't have enough right now to share, but will be reading this thread with great interest!
 

Redwizard007

Explorer
I'd like to see a subclass that expounded on the base class (light armor) build. Probably something involving better movement and quick attacks.

Also elemental and psionic subclasses.

Notes:
-3 cantrips seems excessive. That's better than the Druid, which is a primary caster. Just do 2.

-Primarilay, you need to turn multi-attack into "if you use your action to cast a spell, you may use your bonus action to make a single melee or ranged weapon attack," for this new class.

-you will want to design a number of spells that require the caster to "make a weapon attack" similar to Booming Blade. They should have a slightly weaker effect then other spells of their level since they include the attack.
 

Asisreo

Fiendish Attorney
I've had one in the backburners called a "Blood Mage" which lets the caster enhance their attacks through blood they either sacrifice from themselves or pull from their enemies.
 

Paul Smart

Explorer
I'd like to see a subclass that expounded on the base class (light armor) build. Probably something involving better movement and quick attacks.

Also elemental and psionic subclasses.

Notes:
-3 cantrips seems excessive. That's better than the Druid, which is a primary caster. Just do 2.

-Primarilay, you need to turn multi-attack into "if you use your action to cast a spell, you may use your bonus action to make a single melee or ranged weapon attack," for this new class.

-you will want to design a number of spells that require the caster to "make a weapon attack" similar to Booming Blade. They should have a slightly weaker effect then other spells of their level since they include the attack.
I like your idea of expanding upon the base class with better movement and quick attacks. How would you build one?

The unique spell list can cover the elemental subclass. I do not think we need an entire subclass for that.

The psionic subclass would be covered under the base psionic class.

2 cantrips to start with another one added later seems good to me.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
I would have two kinds of gishes:
• A heavy-infantry Knight
• A light-infantry Skirmisher

The subclasses for each include magical and non-magical. For example, the magical subclasses for the Knight include Paladin, Eldritch Knight, and Psi Knight, and the nonmagical subclasses for the Knight include Samurai, Warlord, and Cavalier. Similarly, the magical subclasses for the Skirmisher include Ranger and Monk, and the nonmagical subclasses for the Skirmisher include a nonmagical Ranger, Gladiator, and martial-artist gymnastic Athlete.

The above is for a gish, combining the martial power source with magic.



However, a completely separate concept is a fullcaster who specializes in melee-range spells, with heavy magical defense and heavy magical damage and utility spills. This kind of fullcaster warrior is similar to the 4e Swordmage. The Bladesinger is somewhat like this, but the spell list would focus more on melee combat. This melee caster has a superhero vibe.
 

Tinker-TDC

Explorer
Light armour-How about light and medium for the base-class? Subclass can grant heavy for those who need heavy. It seems like a melee-focused class and giving light-armor alone seems like it would make it one of those classes where it only has finesse weapons. Medium as a base can help bridge that gap without the huge buff of heavy.

D10 hit points-Standard for a martial. Good

A spell strike ability (hit with a weapon and have a spell effect go off)-Would this best be expressed through specialty cantrips or does it need to be balanced for any spell stored in their weapon?

Its own unique spell list-Definitely a must to give it its own flavor. Likely a focus on buffs, reactions, and battlefield maneuverability. I'd focus long-range spells on single-target or small bursts and close-range can have more AOE type stuff for damaging spells.

A choice of fighting styles-Also standard for martials. Probably at level 2 for a half-caster.

Half caster with 3 cantrips-As others have said, maybe go with two and get more later. Booming blade/greenflame blade-types seem important. I'd also add here to put in a Fighting Style for another Cantrip similar to the Tasha's Cantrip fighting styles for Ranger and Paladin.

1) Knight - gets heavy armour and defensive spells-Solid. No complaints.

2) A ranged variation (Archer, Dagger thrower etc.) A better-designed Arcane Archer. Uses Medium Armour.-If it's the archer build why is it using medium armor instead of light? Seems like the one most likely to go light armor since maxxing DEX would be the playstyle.

3) An unarmed version based on touch attack spells. Basically an Arcane Monk in light armour. Gets more spells.-Would it be unable to use weapons or would the fighting style just be making it more efficient for it to be unarmed? Also why would this one be the one to get more spells?

Subs discussed elsewhere:
The Psychic: Possible unarmored defense (INT), doing Jedi/Gish type stuff (jump, mage hand, telekinesis, parrying ranged attacks out of the air.)
The Avenger: Divine flavored striker-type. Probably domain spells off the cleric spell list. Named as such from the 4e class and might be better as a paladin subclass but I feel like it fits here better than Paladin.
The Blink Dog: Could fit into any of the other fast and striker-y roles. Goal is maximizing mobility through magic through an at-will teleport (I'd say make it the prime subclass feature and have the distance grow as you gain levels, maybe towards the end allow all movement to be teleportation. Blink spell as a must.
The Channeler: Based off of your #3, the one who focuses more towards magic than weapons. Possibly getting the Wizard's "Arcane Recovery" so it has more spells per day but is not on a different spell-progression than the others.
The Kensei: (change this name obviously) The one who from an outside perspective might look less magical than all the others and uses their spells almost exclusively to buff their fighting rather than anything flashy like shooting fire from their fingertips. Ideally implemented as smaller buffs for the whole battle rather than big spikes like the paladin smite.
The Shadow: The stealth version that stalks their prey before attacking. Somewhere between ranger, rogue, shadow-monk, and Witcher. This might be achieved just within the main spell list and not need to be its own subclass.

I do like the idea of at level 5 instead of getting Multiattack like most martials you get an ability to make a weapon attack as a bonus action if you cast a spell as your action.

For arcane channeling into a weapon I'd say go with an "As a bonus action you can expend a spell slot to begin channeling arcane energy into your weapon. For the next five minutes the weapon is considered magical and deals an additional 1d4 (elemental your choice) damage on a hit (could start with the 5 that are usually the elemental options and then have subclasses grant options like the holy subclass adding radiant and the shadow adding necrotic).
When you use a 2nd level spell slot the extra damage becomes a d6, when you use a 3rd it becomes a d8, 4th d10, 5th d12. This effect ends early if you fall unconscious. You may end this effect early as a bonus action.
At 11th level you can do this at-will as a d4 without expending a 1st level spell slot. At 17th level you get a d6 added on for free.

Might add in an ability that gives advantage on Concentration checks to maintain a spell that targets only you so buffs are more reliable but you don't get to keep a debuff going as easy.
 

Redwizard007

Explorer
I like your idea of expanding upon the base class with better movement and quick attacks. How would you build one?

The unique spell list can cover the elemental subclass. I do not think we need an entire subclass for that.

The psionic subclass would be covered under the base psionic class.

2 cantrips to start with another one added later seems good to me.

If I was really going to build this out, instead of treating it like a brainstorming exercise...

Level 1 - (base class ability) - your spellcasting focus is any one handed weapon.

Level 3. - You may charge your body with magic for a number of minutes equal to your proficiency modifier. While so charged you gain the following benefits.
Any time you make an attack as a bonus action, you may also dash or disengage as part of the same action. You may add your Intelligence modifier, if positive, to the damage rolls of all attacks you make with a light melee weapon. This ability can only be used when wearing light or no armor, and not wearing a shield. You may use this ability twice per long rest at 3rd level, 3 times at 6th level, 4 at 12th, and 5 at 17th level.

Level 5 - (base class ability) modified extra attack - when you cast a spell or cantrip as an action, you may make a single weapon attack as a bonus action.

Level 7 - when using the attack action and wielding a light weapon you may teleport up to 15' as a bonus action.

Level 11 - (base class ability) modified extra attack - when you cast a spell or cantrip with your action, you may now make 2 attacks with your bonus action.

Etc.
 

jsaving

Adventurer
Why not use the PF2e magus? It sounds similar to what you're looking for.

Or if not, you might consider explaining why you don't like its direction and how you think your ideas are better. That might perhaps be more productive than reinventing the very wheel the PF2e devs were trying to address.
 
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Paul Smart

Explorer
Why not use the PF2e magus? It sounds similar to what you're looking for.
A variety of reasons:

1) While PF2 is a great game it is not the game I am interested in.
2) I am having fun brainstorming a similar class and subclasses that work in 5e.
3) An extension of my second reason, I like getting other people's thoughts on my brainstorming exercise.
4) If as a community we come up with something good people who are looking for something similar can use it.
5) Maybe a game designer will see this and we can get something official either in 5e or when it comes out 6e.
Last) Because it is fun to design things.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
The ability to use both a spell and an attack in the same turn.

Not "Make a spell into a swordstrike" but straight up cut down someone next to me, then fling a firebolt at a distant target in the same round.

Heck, to make it even better, add in a little "When you make a melee attack roll against a target they no longer count as threatening you for the purposes of disadvantage on ranged spell attacks." so you can smack someone in melee and then blast someone at range without disadvantage.

Oh. How about a "Magekiller" subclass which is all about increasing the DC of any concentration checks and getting a set number of "Free" Counterspells that recover on a long rest?
 

Zardnaar

Legend
Two things.

1. Hands free casting a'la Cleric and Paladin or half the Warcaster feat. Or an aegis effect or other ac buff if you use a one handed weapon.

2. Replacing an attack with a cantrip.

3. Casting a spell and having an attack as a bonus action.

4. Keying your attack off a mental state a'la battlesmith and hexblade.
 

Steampunkette

Shaper of Worlds
Supporter
OH. Let me add another one:

Fungible Cantrips with Select Targeting.

Give 'em the ability to split up cantrip damage among several attack rolls.

So they want to use Green Flame Blade? They get to make multiple attacks, each one doing a portion of the cantrip's damage to different targets. So a level 20 Gish could swing 4 times with Green Flame Blade and gain no additional D8s of damage (Since each swing is basically as a 1st level cantrip) but they all do the Splash Damage. Or do Two swings and do weapon damage +1d8 fire on two targets, and 1d8+int on two secondary.

Or throw off a Firebolt spell that hits 1 target for 3d10 and another target for 1d10.

Or at level 5, one Chill Touch that hits two targets for 1d8 each if you make both attack rolls.
Two things.

1. Hands free casting a'la Cleric and Paladin or half the Warcaster feat. Or an aegis effect or other ac buff if you use a one handed weapon.

2. Replacing an attack with a cantrip.

3. Casting a spell and having an attack as a bonus action.

4. Keying your attack off a mental state a'la battlesmith and hexblade.
Oh, yes. Absolutely yes. Make it so they don't do Great Weapon Fighting. Make them Duelists by and large!

Maybe a Reaction AC Bonus function if they don't have a shield?
 

Tinker-TDC

Explorer
OH. Let me add another one:

Fungible Cantrips with Select Targeting.

Give 'em the ability to split up cantrip damage among several attack rolls.

So they want to use Green Flame Blade? They get to make multiple attacks, each one doing a portion of the cantrip's damage to different targets. So a level 20 Gish could swing 4 times with Green Flame Blade and gain no additional D8s of damage (Since each swing is basically as a 1st level cantrip) but they all do the Splash Damage. Or do Two swings and do weapon damage +1d8 fire on two targets, and 1d8+int on two secondary.

Or throw off a Firebolt spell that hits 1 target for 3d10 and another target for 1d10.

Or at level 5, one Chill Touch that hits two targets for 1d8 each if you make both attack rolls.
I don't know if it would be easier to explain all of this as a class ability or if making cantrips that do this as intended would be a cleaner way of doing things. I do dig the idea though.
 

Tinker-TDC

Explorer
I'm seeing something like:

Battlemage

Class Features​

As a battlemage, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points​

Hit Dice: 1d10 per battlemage level
Hit Points at 1st Level: 10+ your Constitution modifier
Hit Points at Higher Levels: 1d10 (or 6) + your Constitution modifier per battlemage level after 1st

Proficiencies​

Armor: Light armor, medium armor
Weapons: Simple weapons, Martial weapons
Saving Throws: Dexterity, Intelligence
Skills: Choose two from Athletics, Acrobatics, Arcana, History, Investigation, Medicine, Nature, Perception

Level 1: Spellcasting
You know a number of spells on the Battlemage spell list equal to half your Battlemage level plus your Intelligence Modifier and two Battlemage Cantrips. Spell levels progress as the Artificer spell list but it spells are known rather than prepared.

Level 1: Mystical Teachings
Subclass. Put at level 1 to give out the individual flavor for your particular mystical martial art/power source. Also here is where any armor options would go for archetypes that would grant heavy armor or shields so players don't need to re-equip gear on level-up. Have each subclass provide a useful ability and a ribbon at level 1.

Level 2: Fighting Style
Lists fighting styles aside from Archery (and maybe Great Weapon Fighting reading above). Adds two new Fighting Styles:
Arcane Warrior: As Blessed Warrior or Druidic Warrior, but from the Wizard Spell List.
Duelist's Ward: While you are wielding a weapon in one hand and nothing in the other hand you may use your reaction to increase your AC by an amount equal to your Intelligence Modifier against a single attack.

Level 2: Arcane Channeling
As a bonus action when you cast a spell of first level or higher you may channel elemental energy into a melee weapon you wield. Choose one of the following damage types: acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder; for the next minute your weapon deals additional 1d4 damage of the chosen type whenever you hit with an attack. When you cast a spell of 2nd level or higher the additional damage increases by 1d4 for every level of your spell above 1st.
This effect ends early if you drop or stow your weapon or if you become incapacitated.

Level 3: Eyes of the Sage
You can tell if an object within 10 feet of you is magical as an action.

Level 3: Arcane Techniques
You know a number of Arcane Techniques equal to your proficiency bonus. Use your Battlemage spell save DC if a technique calls for a saving throw. You may only apply one Arcane Technique per attack.
(Designer's note: Arcane Techniques do not cause any additional damage to the target. They are at-will and activate as part of making a weapon attack. If they scale they scale at the same levels as cantrips. Five Sample Techniques listed below)
Lightning Spear: Until the beginning of your next turn your weapon attacks deal Lightning damage.
Blink Warrior: You may teleport up to 10 feet before making a weapon attack. This distance increases by 10 feet at levels 5, 11, and 17.
Arcane Grasp: Before you attack a creature within 10 feet of you must make a Strength saving throw or be pulled towards you until they are within range of your weapon. The range of this ability increases by 5 feet at levels 5, 11, and 17.
Distracting Wave: When you hit a creature within 5 feet of you with a weapon attack they do not impose disadvantage on any ranged attacks you make until the end of your next turn.
Mystical Leap: Immediately before or after making a melee attack against a creature you may jump gracefully over it, landing on its opposite side.

Level 4: Ability Score Increase

Level 5: Bonus Attack
You may make a weapon attack as a bonus action. You cannot use this feature and the Extra Attack feature in the same turn.



Or at least that's my first 5 levels. Lots of things for theming are dependent on the Spell List and the Subclass options.
 

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