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D&D 5E Giving the arcane gish an identity.

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I'm finding it depressing that a lot of my arcane gish arguments are just being completely brushed aside as I'm tainted by the same brush as the people who just want some powergaming uberclass which has no downside.
Ain't that the truth.
Fair observation, but don't be discouraged 🤗

It seems to me that a vocal minority are doing that, but most people in this thread seem to be interested, engaged and supportive of the idea of finding/creating a balanced, fun, flavourful & "identitied" (oh yes, I'm sure that's a real word, thanks for asking 🤪) gish class.

Hopefully anyone concerned about game balance will come around when they see our genuine efforts to find something balanced and will actually help us achieve that.

I think it should be about on-par with Paladin (currently the closest class to what I'm looking for) but even then I think if it was people would call it OP because the 5e Paladin is just incredibly competent.
Any point between paladin and ranger is basically ideal for me. Which is a nice spread, as paladin is one of the most powerful classes (seriously our lvl 12 paladin almost one shotted Vanifer from full health last session), while player handbook ranger is often considered one of the weakest.

I definitely think that an arcane swordmage should not come close to the nova potential of a paladin. Pumping out massive damage numbers constantly has never been that classes focus.
Hehe, I agree that the Ranger<->Paladin spectrum probably does span most of the power curve for 5e, so somewhere in that range is desirable, although it probably doesn't narrow it down terribly much. Given that paladin is played a lot and people like it a lot, I'd prefer something closer to that end than the Ranger end where people just don't seem to play or enjoy it much.

Hmmm .... burst dmg is a great point, I don't think it's been covered much in the thread so far..... thinking about the gish's roots, the fighter has solid nova ability in action surge, and the wizard has high burst potential in using high level spell slots on more damaging spells than a cleric .... and even thinking back on it's past heritage, swordmages had encounter & daily powers, elven fighter/mage had it's highest level spell slots, duskblade the same .... sooooo .... is there some reason other than overall balance that an arcane warrior should have low nova ability ? Would people be willing to sacrifice some sustained DPR in order to have a higher nova ? Or do people think consistent sustained DPR is more in keeping with the theme ?
 

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Tinker-TDC

Explorer
Hmmm .... burst dmg is a great point, I don't think it's been covered much in the thread so far..... thinking about the gish's roots, the fighter has solid nova ability in action surge, and the wizard has high burst potential in using high level spell slots on more damaging spells than a cleric .... and even thinking back on it's past heritage, swordmages had encounter & daily powers, elven fighter/mage had it's highest level spell slots, duskblade the same .... sooooo .... is there some reason other than overall balance that an arcane warrior should have low nova ability ? Would people be willing to sacrifice some sustained DPR in order to have a higher nova ? Or do people think consistent sustained DPR is more in keeping with the theme ?
The class would still have its 3rd, 4th, and 5th level spells to be your novas, but the problem is when a nova ability becomes the optimal ability. The Paladin 'must' Divine Smite the boss because if there is a boss then Divine Smite is far and away the best increase to single-target damage just like the Wizard 'must' take Fireball or Lightning Bolt because they deal 8d6 damage and the recommended multi-target damage for a third-level spell is 6d6 in the DMG so by not taking them you are taking the unoptimal route.
People will say "my group doesn't take fireball and we do just fine" and they will not be lying certainly, but for a percentage of the audience it just feels wrong to be unoptimal and it would be foolish to ignore that group because "if you don't like it you don't need to use it" because the group that can have fun with anything will also have fun in a system where you don't have to choose between good and bad.

I went off on a tangent...The important thing is not whether or not they can burst but whether burst or sustained are balanced compared to each-other. I don't think sustained dpr is a 'theme' of the archetype, but it is easier to work with than nova damage and (not to jump in the boat of people saying "we already have this so we don't need a gish") the Paladin has a big nova damage to add to its weapon but lacks a more sustained type so it seems fertile grounds for a niche to occupy.
 

ECMO3

Hero
A few follow-on questions:
  1. Do you have substantiation for that claim ? They certainly rate well but no tier ranking I've ever seen has them the most powerful in the game. To me, Twilight / Peace cleric maybe, but Bladesinger ?
I have played twilight and bladesinger. Twilight may buff/protect the party better (debatable considering counterspell), but he is not that powerful in combat. If you consider all three pillars it may even up some considering the huge exploration advantage offered by eyes of night. If you are considering only combat though, the post-TCE bladesinger is in a league of its own.

I have not played peace cleric but I don't think peace cleric is close to either of these. The channel divinity is top tier mostly because you do not need concentrate. If you had to have concentration it would be inferior to bless I think. Without concentration it is powerful though, especially at low level when you get to cast another concentration spell on top of it, but not overpowered. The 6th level ability of the peace cleric depends on the table. If you let your party talk back and forth about who will take the reaction "I have 14 hps how many do you have? I have 19 but I already used my reaction, Bob hasn't used his yet though, how many hps do you have Bob?" If the DM allows that kind of discussion to happen in the middle of a battle on an enemies turn before someone uses their reaction I think this could be OP, if not (and my DM's woudln't) then this is not nearly as bad.

Also in actual play I think you would have trouble with the 6th-level peace ability and positioning - Bob the Barbarian takes his reaction to teleport next to Rick the Rogue and absorb his damage. Now the three bad guys that Bob was threatening are free to move wherever they want, Bob can't make an AOO because he already used his reaction and Bob has move back across the battlefield on his turn to get to the guy he was attacking. Bob still takes "all" the damage so resistance does not apply and your party as a whole still loses those hps. Like I said I have not played this subclass or seen it played so I may be off here but I think it is less useful than it sounds.


  1. Are you of the impression that people want something that is more powerful than the bladesinger ? That's not what I'm reading in the thread, and it's certainly not what I'm proposing. To me, people seem to be asking for something somewhere in the space b/w an EK and a bladesinger, and most people are suggesting being a half caster to balance it out like a paladin, ranger & artificer are.
I don't think there has to be a lot of space between EK and bladesinger thematically. You can use feats to expand the bladesingers use of weapons and armor and the extra attack feature is so powerful that you will still be one of the most powerful characters in the game without even using bladesong or song of defense.

My main problem with most of the proposals on this new GISH class is casting a leveled spell as part of the attack action. If you took that away and limited it to cantrips only it would be better. If you want the class to be balanced with most others, I would lean more towards the war magic implementation than the bladesinger extra attack though. You could do it at level 5 on this class instead of at level 6 like the BS or 7 like EK. Give it some ribbon abilities on top of that. I would also give the character d8 hps instead of d10.

  1. Perhaps a more helpful way of articulating it might be "more of a gish" than bladesinger, rather than "even better" than bladesinger, does that clarify ?

I don't know that it will be more "gish", because that term is not really well defined. The term Gish came from the Fiend Folio Githyanki and there was a ton of different variations possible with that original monster, including fighter/magic-user. If we are using the original 1E fighter/magic-user as the baseline - they were inferior to 1E fighters in hps, weapon damage, number of attacks and lagged in attack rolls. In game play they were not right in the middle, they were closer to a wizard in armor than they were to a fighter. They could also not both attack and cast a spell in the same round.

Power is easier to talk about and in terms of power think this class will be more powerful by a wide margin if you allow armor, weapons, d10 hit dice and half-caster using leveled spells to be cast as part of a weapon attack action. When I say it will be "better", I mean it will be more powerful in combat and IMO it will be game-breaking in terms of action economy.

PS, to me a spellstrike / divine channeling type ability is one thing a gish might/could have, but it's not core concept to me like arcane self-buffs are. I would prefer to see spellstrike be the rock feature for one subclass rather than a core class feature. I understand this is different to divine smite / hunter's mark being core class features, but that's just my preference. So to me it's not a deal-breaker.
For me the only thing that is extremely problematic is casting a leveled spell as part of the attack action. If by spellstrike you mean something like Paladin's smite I think it is fine if balanced with other classes. If it is casting a leveled spell as part of an attack any time before 10th level and more than a few times a day at any level I think it will be op.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
The Arcane Warrior

Overall feedback before specifics:
  • OMG. SO MUCH 🥰 for writing this up !! You rock :)
  • Happy with the name and overall approach and it's certainly nice to have a detailed class write-up to critique.
  • I would prefer a different term to "Mystic" as to me this has connotations more of the priestly side than the arcane/wizard side. Arcane Tradition, School, Arcane Path, Eldritch Technique, etc etc or anything like that I think would be more thematic. Not a dealbreaker tho IMHO.
LevelProfFeaturesTechniques KnownSpells KnownCantripsSpells
12Spellcasting, Mystic Path-222
22Fighting Style, Mystic Technique2322
32Sustained Magic, Mystic Path Feature2423
42Ability Score Improvement2523
53Extra Attack3624/2
63Mystic Path Feature3724/2
73War Magic3824/3
83Mystic Path Feature3924/3
9441024/3/2

Class Features​

As an Arcane Warrior, you gain the following class features.

Hit Points​

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

Proficiencies​

Armor: Light armor, medium armor, shields
Weapons: Simple weapons, martial weapons

To me, I think there's a conversation to be had about HD (d8 / d10), Armor (Light/Medium/Shields) and Weapons (Simple/Martial).

Certainly paladin & ranger are up the 'fighter' end of these, with both having d10 HD, Martial weapons and Medium/Heavy armor & shields. Just because they do though, I'm not 100% sure that the Gish should, because wizards come from such a lower base. I also think of them somewhere between EK and bladesinger. I'll explain:

My starting point for this has been that the 'hybrid' classes (if it's ok to call them that) should fall somewhere between their two parent classes but at a minimum a step up from the lower one. Here's my worked examples:
Paladin: Fighter has d10 and cleric has d8, and there's no d9, so we round up to d10. Fighter has heavy armor + shields and cleric has medium + shields (but some domains get heavy) so the hybrid gets heavy + shields. Fighter gets martial weapons, cleric gets simple, so the hybrid gets martial.
Ranger: Fighter has d10 and druid has d8, and there's no d9, so we round up to d10. Fighter has heavy armor + shields and druid has medium + shields (but no metal) so the hybrid gets medium + shields (but without the no metal restriction). Fighter gets martial weapons, druid gets a specific limited list (some simple, some martial), so the hybrid gets martial.
Gish: Fighter has d10 and wizard has d6, so the hybrid gets d8. Fighter has heavy armor + shields and wizard has none, so the hybrid gets somewhere in between, maybe the base class gets light, and some subclasses get medium + shields. Fighter gets martial weapons, wizard gets an extremely limited list, so the hybrid gets somewhere in between, maybe the base class gets simple at L1 and then martial at L3, or subclasses grant different specific proficiencies, or maybe it's simple + one or more specific choices (like bladesinger).

So that's how I've been approaching it, which is why I'm thinking they might not necessarily need to get d10, heavy+shields & martial weapons, but can still be significantly better in melee than normal wizards, and a bit better than bladesingers, but not as good as EKs. This could be a good balancing factor for wizard spells being strong, and also allow unarmored / lightly armoured builds that either use Int bonus to AC, or enhanced mage armour, or light armour, or whatever, while still allowing some subclasses to be more heavily armoured for the more traditional githyanki gish style build.

What do you think ?
Tools: None
Saving Throws: Constitution, Intelligence
Skills: Choose two skills from Acrobatics, Arcana, Athletics, History, Insight, Investigation, and Perception

Equipment​

  • (a) scale mail, (b) leather armor, or (c) chain mail (if proficient)
  • (a) a martial weapon and a shield or (b) two martial weapons
  • (a) a light crossbow and 20 bolts or (b) any simple weapon
  • (a) a dungeoneer's pack or (b) a scholar's pack

Spellcasting​

You've studied the workings of magic and how to cast spells, channeling the magic through your masterful technique. To observers, you don't appear to be casting spells in a conventional way; you appear to produce wonderous effects that lash out from your weapons.

Weapons Required​

You produce your arcane warrior spell effects through your weapons. You must have a spellcasting focus-specifically some kind of weapon-in hand when you cast any spell with this Spellcasting feature (meaning the spell has an "M" component when you cast it). You must be proficient with the weapon to use it in this way. See the equipment chapter in the Player's Handbook for descriptions of these weapons.

Cantrips (0-Level Spells)​

At 1st level, you know two cantrips of your choice from the arcane warrior spell list. At higher levels, you learn additional arcane warrior cantrips of your choice, as shown in the Cantrips Known column of the Arcane Warrior table.

When you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of the arcane warrior cantrips you know with another cantrip from the arcane warrior spell list.

Spells Known of 1st Level and Higher​

At 1st level, you know two 1st-level spells of your choice from the arcane warrior spell list.

The Spells Known column of the Arcane Warrior table shows when you learn more arcane warrior spells of your choice of 1st level or higher. A spell you choose must be of a level that you can cast.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the arcane warrior spells you know and replace it with another spell from the arcane warrior spell list, which also must be of a level for which you have spell slots.

I would tend to go for a prepared spell model like the wizard and artificer (& even the paladin). To me this is more thematic for a magic-heavy character, obv not quite as much as a primary caster, but it's still core class concept.

Spellcasting Ability​

Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for your arcane warrior spells; your understanding of the theory behind magic allows you to wield these spells with superior skill. You use your Intelligence whenever an arcane warrior spell refers to your spellcasting ability. In addition, you use your Intelligence modifier when setting the saving throw DC for an arcane warrior spell you cast and when making an attack roll with one.

Spell save DC = 8 + your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Spell attack modifier = your proficiency bonus + your Intelligence modifier

Mystic Path​

At 1st level, you choose a path shaped by your history and how it has shaped your fighting style. Your choice grants you features when you choose it at 1st level and additional benefits at 3rd, 6th, 8th, 14th, and 18th levels.

I think a good conversation to have is whether the Archetype needs to kick in at L1, 2 or 3. I don't have a firm view of this but I would think that in order to be at L1 it should have a really good reason why it needs to be L1 like cleric does. What do you think in this case ?

Fighting Style​

Starting at 2nd level, you adopt a particular style of fighting as your specialty. Choose one of the following options. You can't take a Fighting Style option more than once, even if you later get to choose again.
-Arcane Ward: When you are wielding a weapon with which you are proficient in one hand and nothing in the other hand and another creature hits you with an attack, you can use your reaction to add your proficiency bonus to your AC for that attack, potentially causing the attack to miss you.
-Arcane Warrior: You learn two cantrips of your choice from the wizard spell list. They count as arcane warrior spells for you, and Intelligence is your spellcasting ability for them. Whenever you gain a level in this class, you can replace one of these cantrips with another cantrip from the wizard spell list.
Love these.
-Blind Fighting
-Defense
-Dueling
-Great Weapon Fighting
-Interception
-Protection
-Two-Weapon Fighting
-Unarmed Fighting


Mystic Technique​

As you master the techniques of melding weapons and magic some quirks of the weave have become apparent and you have figured out how to exploit them for your benefit.

Starting at 2nd level, you gain two mystic techniques of your choice. When you gain certain arcane warrior levels, you gain additional mystic techniques of your choice, as shown in the Techniques Known column of the Arcane Warrior table.

Additionally, when you gain a level in this class, you can choose one of the mystic techniques you know and replace it with another mystic technique that you could learn at that level.
Love this.

Sustained Magic​

At 3rd level you learn to pull back excess magical energy from your spells and fuse it to your weapon. After casting a spell that deals damage you may use your reaction to infuse your weapon with the remnants of that spell. For the next minute your melee attacks made with that weapon deal extra damage of the same type of damage dealt by the spell. The weapon’s damage increases by an amount based on your level in this class, as shown on the Arcane Warrior Sustained Magic table.
Arcane Warrior LevelBonus Magic Damage
3rd1d4
10th1d6
16th1d8
20th1d10
I like this as one possible idea, but I'm not sure that it should be all builds, maybe one subclass has this ?

Ability Score Improvement​

When you reach 4th level, and again at 8th, 12th, 16th, and 19th level, you can increase one ability score of your choice by 2, or you can increase two ability scores of your choice by 1. As normal, you can't increase an ability score above 20 using this feature.

Extra Attack​

Beginning at 5th level, you can attack twice, instead of once, whenever you take the Attack action on your turn.

War Magic​

Beginning at 7th level, when you use your action to cast a cantrip, you can make one weapon attack as a bonus action.

I think an excellent conversation is whether to do Extra Attack + War Magic or the Bladesinger version of Extra Attack (sub 1 for a cantrip). I think it's a no-brainer that it needs one or the other, so the germaine question is, which one ?

The EK Extra Attack + War Magic enables easier weaponisation of the BA, which is good for fighters, but I think Gish's will have a much higher level of contention for doing magical things with their BA. So I'd much prefer the bladesinger version of Extra Attack, I think it's a more elegant way of doing it, and explicitly supports a mixing weapon attacks with spells in the same action, which I think is exactly what we're asking for. I'm aware that it's stronger than the EK one though - truth be told I wouldn't object to retro-fitting the bladesinger EA to EK instead of their War Magic, but that's a separate conversation.

Mystic Path Example​

Note that the idea of mystic paths based on personal history just seem like one of many ways to do it. This one seemed inoffensive to the idea of a mystic warrior at the very least but I am not particularly attached to the flavor of it over anything else. If it is "How you learned your style" then level 1 subclass seems appropriate whereas if it is "Your specialty within the bigger group" level 3 may be a better starting point.

Path of the City Guard
Lv. 1
-Heavily Armored: You have proficiency in Heavy Armor.
Lv. 3
-Something's Not Right Here: You know the spell Detect Magic and can cast it as a ritual.
-Arcane Bulwark: When you take the Dodge action you add your Intelligence modifier to your AC as well as the AC of all creatures of your choice within 5 feet of you.
Lv. 6
-Stop Right There!: You know the spell Hold Person and may cast it once per short or long rest without expending a spell slot. When cast in this way the duration is "until the end of your next turn."
Lv. 8
-The Full Force of the Law: When you cast a spell that targets a single friendly creature they may use their reaction to move up to half their speed and make a single melee weapon attack. You may use this ability a number of times equal to your proficiency bonus and regain all expended uses on a long rest.

Path of the Psychic Warrior (Jedi)
Lv. 1
-Unarmored Defense: While you are wearing no armor and carrying no shield you may add your Intelligence modifier to your AC.
Lv. 3
-Psychic Assistance: You know the Mage Hand cantrip and the hand is invisible when you cast the cantrip with this trait. You may also cast Jump and Feather Fall each once per short or long rest without expending a spell slot. When cast using this ability these spells may only target you.
Lv. 6.
-Thrown Weapon: You are able to accurately hurl any weapon and cause it to return immediately to your hands. The range of your melee weapon attacks is increased by 30 feet.
Lv. 8
-Intercept Missiles: As a reaction when you would be hit by a ranged attack you may make an attack using a melee weapon you are holding. If your attack roll is higher than the ranged attack roll made against you you cause the attack to miss as you cut the projectile from the air.
Love these !! <3

Mystic Technique Example​

The idea of Mystic Techniques is to add at-will magical effects that tie into the fighting style without requiring they be spells so the Arcane Warrior can maintain being a mix of magic and fighting all day and not revert to 'just a fighter but worse' when their spells go out. It was important in my design that they DO NOT INCREASE DAMAGE so ones put in with more rp or exploration focus are not immediately put aside for the ones that boost combat ability. These should increase versatility, not DPS.

-Blink: When you take the attack action you may teleport 10 feet towards a hostile target before making any attacks.
-Draw Forth: When you take the attack action you may pull a medium or smaller creature up to 10 feet towards you before making any attacks.
-Flame Affinity: You may choose for any melee weapon you are wielding to deal magical fire damage instead of its normal damage type.
-Seer's Awareness: You cannot be surprised.
-Gravitic Strike: The first time you hit a creature with a weapon attack on each of your turns that creature's speed is decreased by 10 feet.
-Eldritch Pursuit: As a bonus action you may teleport up to 30 feet towards the last enemy you hit with a weapon attack.
Love these !
As with Paladin 9th, 13th, and 17th should be 'dead' levels for class features because you're getting 3rd, 4th, and 5th level spells at those levels.

I think you've done a great job here mate ! Well done :)
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I don't think sustained dpr is a 'theme' of the archetype, but it is easier to work with than nova damage and (not to jump in the boat of people saying "we already have this so we don't need a gish") the Paladin has a big nova damage to add to its weapon but lacks a more sustained type so it seems fertile grounds for a niche to occupy.
That's reasonable, I could support this.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I have played twilight and bladesinger.
<snip>
I have not played peace cleric
<snip>
I'm similar but I was getting the impression from earlier that you had something definitive stating that bladesinger was the most powerful in the game, and was hoping you might be able to link to it b/c I'd very interesting if there was something like this.
I don't think there has to be a lot of space between EK and bladesinger thematically. You can use feats to expand the bladesingers use of weapons and armor and the extra attack feature is so powerful that you will still be one of the most powerful characters in the game without even using bladesong or song of defense.
You can use feats to give spellcasting to a barbarian too, that doesn't mean there isn't a large space between them and wizards in a class design sense.
Also, feats are optional, I don't believe you should have to use feats to be able to play an arcane version of a ranger or paladin.
My main problem with most of the proposals on this new GISH class is casting a leveled spell as part of the attack action. If you took that away and limited it to cantrips only it would be better. If you want the class to be balanced with most others, I would lean more towards the war magic implementation than the bladesinger extra attack though. You could do it at level 5 on this class instead of at level 6 like the BS or 7 like EK. Give it some ribbon abilities on top of that. I would also give the character d8 hps instead of d10.
I'm completely comfortable with this. If there were an ability to cast a leveled spell as part of an attack action, it should be extremely limited in frequency (like Action Surge), level required (like Contingency), or fractional effect (only effects a single target) or things like that.
I don't know that it will be more "gish", because that term is not really well defined. The term Gish came from the Fiend Folio Githyanki and there was a ton of different variations possible with that original monster, including fighter/magic-user. If we are using the original 1E fighter/magic-user as the baseline - they were inferior to 1E fighters in hps, weapon damage, number of attacks and lagged in attack rolls. In game play they were not right in the middle, they were closer to a wizard in armor than they were to a fighter. They could also not both attack and cast a spell in the same round.
I'd be showing my age if I admitted to remembering that <grin>
Power is easier to talk about and in terms of power think this class will be more powerful by a wide margin if you allow armor, weapons, d10 hit dice and half-caster using leveled spells to be cast as part of a weapon attack action. When I say it will be "better", I mean it will be more powerful in combat and IMO it will be game-breaking in terms of action economy.
Out of interest, where do you think the artificer / battle smith sits on the power curve ? Cos that's the sort of general area of the power curve that I'm aiming for.
For me the only thing that is extremely problematic is casting a leveled spell as part of the attack action. If by spellstrike you mean something like Paladin's smite I think it is fine if balanced with other classes. If it is casting a leveled spell as part of an attack any time before 10th level and more than a few times a day at any level I think it will be op.
I agree 100% with this.
 

Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
For me the only thing that is extremely problematic is casting a leveled spell as part of the attack action. If by spellstrike you mean something like Paladin's smite I think it is fine if balanced with other classes. If it is casting a leveled spell as part of an attack any time before 10th level and more than a few times a day at any level I think it will be op.
Yeah I don't like the casting levelled spells through the attack action either. 3e had it for the duskblade, but only for touch spells, and touch spells are a completely different format back then. Now most spells which were once touch spells are other types. And most 5e touch spells are non combat spells. If you try to word it to include all the spells which make sense, and exclude all the spells which don't make sense, it becomes several pages of random exceptions and clunky wording. (And I don't think that an arcane gish should even get fireball. Getting the attack action and casting fireball together is beyond stupid).

4e turned all these into encounter powers instead of spells, which was its own separate issue.

5e very specifically has two spell formats for spells which are designed to be cast via weapon attack. Blade cantrips (I dislike these as they introduce balancing issues), and the bonus action smite/strike spells. Where in 3e you would cast the generic fear spell through your weapon attack, in 5e you have a dedicated wrathful smite. Spell is cast on bonus action, then when one of your attacks in the next minute hits it activates, causing feat and a tiny bit of psychic damage.

5e has a great formula for it already, just inaccessible to arcane classes. I don't get why people want to just ignore that entire formula for it. Casting fireball and then hitting something can already be done with action surge or metamagic. We don't need a dedicated class for it.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Is anyone really asking for casting fireball for the stabnerd? If you want to just cast boring spells, you can just play EK. That's why they're not what we're looking for.
 


Is anyone really asking for casting fireball for the stabnerd? If you want to just cast boring spells, you can just play EK. That's why they're not what we're looking for.
I've not seen anyone suggesting a variant of the Stabnerd that can cast fireball. (Outside of "just use Wizard/EK spell list" if that suggestion was made.)

I've not seen a suggestion for the Stabnerd that can cast a levelled spell as the Attack Action either however. - So I might be missing some stuff.
 

Tinker-TDC

Explorer
Overall feedback before specifics:
  • OMG. SO MUCH 🥰 for writing this up !! You rock :)
  • Happy with the name and overall approach and it's certainly nice to have a detailed class write-up to critique.
  • I would prefer a different term to "Mystic" as to me this has connotations more of the priestly side than the arcane/wizard side. Arcane Tradition, School, Arcane Path, Eldritch Technique, etc etc or anything like that I think would be more thematic. Not a dealbreaker tho IMHO.
-I live to serve.
-Thank you for the compliment, I thought it would be better to have one written up if we were gonna theorycraft. However, in writing it the name was a hurdle. I do think the name should be a single word rather than two words. Spellsword and Swordmage both sound good (Spellsword giving the feel of a spellcaster over a warrior, Swordmage focusing on the weapon over the magic) but people are resistant to the idea of having a specific weapon in the title so might I suggest "Battlemage?"
-Mystic seemed a term to separate it from the current class lineup, but I'd go for "Arcane X" whatever the subclass is and "Arcane Technique" for the techniques (really Arcane shouldn't be the same among both of them. Eldritch evokes the Warlock so maybe Arcane Path and Magical Techniques?)
To me, I think there's a conversation to be had about HD (d8 / d10), Armor (Light/Medium/Shields) and Weapons (Simple/Martial).

Certainly paladin & ranger are up the 'fighter' end of these, with both having d10 HD, Martial weapons and Medium/Heavy armor & shields. Just because they do though, I'm not 100% sure that the Gish should, because wizards come from such a lower base. I also think of them somewhere between EK and bladesinger. I'll explain:

My starting point for this has been that the 'hybrid' classes (if it's ok to call them that) should fall somewhere between their two parent classes but at a minimum a step up from the lower one. Here's my worked examples:
Paladin: Fighter has d10 and cleric has d8, and there's no d9, so we round up to d10. Fighter has heavy armor + shields and cleric has medium + shields (but some domains get heavy) so the hybrid gets heavy + shields. Fighter gets martial weapons, cleric gets simple, so the hybrid gets martial.
Ranger: Fighter has d10 and druid has d8, and there's no d9, so we round up to d10. Fighter has heavy armor + shields and druid has medium + shields (but no metal) so the hybrid gets medium + shields (but without the no metal restriction). Fighter gets martial weapons, druid gets a specific limited list (some simple, some martial), so the hybrid gets martial.
Gish: Fighter has d10 and wizard has d6, so the hybrid gets d8. Fighter has heavy armor + shields and wizard has none, so the hybrid gets somewhere in between, maybe the base class gets light, and some subclasses get medium + shields. Fighter gets martial weapons, wizard gets an extremely limited list, so the hybrid gets somewhere in between, maybe the base class gets simple at L1 and then martial at L3, or subclasses grant different specific proficiencies, or maybe it's simple + one or more specific choices (like bladesinger).

So that's how I've been approaching it, which is why I'm thinking they might not necessarily need to get d10, heavy+shields & martial weapons, but can still be significantly better in melee than normal wizards, and a bit better than bladesingers, but not as good as EKs. This could be a good balancing factor for wizard spells being strong, and also allow unarmored / lightly armoured builds that either use Int bonus to AC, or enhanced mage armour, or light armour, or whatever, while still allowing some subclasses to be more heavily armoured for the more traditional githyanki gish style build.

What do you think ?
-My goal is to balance it based on the other half martial/casters so right now a d10 seems easier than giving more powerful spells. Heavy Armor isn't included because of the theme of things but I included medium armor since it is designed to be a melee weapon class and I don't want to pigeonhole all of the swordmages into finesse melee weapons (lord knows Strength needs all the help it can get in 5e and Medium Armor still requires a good Dex investment but doesn't knock 2h weapons totally out. Medium Armor actually makes the Strength builds more MAD because a Strength user still needs some Dex but also Strength and INT and, hey, maybe they want some CON, too.)

I would tend to go for a prepared spell model like the wizard and artificer (& even the paladin). To me this is more thematic for a magic-heavy character, obv not quite as much as a primary caster, but it's still core class concept.
-I would go with spells known for simplicity (and certainly not like Wizard spells known AND spells prepared) but I could see prepping 1/2lvl+INT as an option. Just doesn't feel very "Arcane" to me (with artificer prepping because they're building new devices for the day).
I think a good conversation to have is whether the Archetype needs to kick in at L1, 2 or 3. I don't have a firm view of this but I would think that in order to be at L1 it should have a really good reason why it needs to be L1 like cleric does. What do you think in this case ?
-My argument for level 1 is it covers the 'how' of how you got your powers since there are a lot of gish examples but not a common running-theme on what they are so having at level 1 allows you to explain that story. Plus I'm against builds that are required to change their equipment after a certain level so anything like the variable armor options (like I put in both the paths) should be put at level 1. If there was a common theme for a gish and then you could build from that into specialisms I'd put it at level 3 and just give the base class heavy armor as an option.
Love these.
-Thank you.
Love this.
-Thanks again.
I like this as one possible idea, but I'm not sure that it should be all builds, maybe one subclass has this ?
I agree, possibly as an 'Elementalist' archetype, though with its increase in sustained damage I'd need to buff the other subs which isn't really a problem as much as a complication.
I think an excellent conversation is whether to do Extra Attack + War Magic or the Bladesinger version of Extra Attack (sub 1 for a cantrip). I think it's a no-brainer that it needs one or the other, so the germaine question is, which one ?

The EK Extra Attack + War Magic enables easier weaponisation of the BA, which is good for fighters, but I think Gish's will have a much higher level of contention for doing magical things with their BA. So I'd much prefer the bladesinger version of Extra Attack, I think it's a more elegant way of doing it, and explicitly supports a mixing weapon attacks with spells in the same action, which I think is exactly what we're asking for. I'm aware that it's stronger than the EK one though - truth be told I wouldn't object to retro-fitting the bladesinger EA to EK instead of their War Magic, but that's a separate conversation.
The big question to me is what the Battlemage cantrips can do. I am expecting cantrips on par with Greenflame Blade and Booming Blade which incorporate a weapon attack in with them. Combined with the removal of Sustained Magic and limiting it to cantrips I could see giving Extra Attack at 5, Bladesinger Cantrip replacing an attack at 7, And Improved War Magic (renamed since War Magic is no longer the level 7) as the big level 11 damage boost classes get. This does make it complicated but if a cantrip+attack is one action and a levelled spell+attack is an action and a bonus action that may alleviate some pains of balancing combos.
Love these !! <3
-Aw shucks.
Love these !
-Golly gee!
I think you've done a great job here mate ! Well done :)
-Thank you for all the kind words. As I said above, I do think putting things into a structure helps with visualizing things. We just need a spell list and 12-30 additional weapon-based spells.
 

ECMO3

Hero
I'm similar but I was getting the impression from earlier that you had something definitive stating that bladesinger was the most powerful in the game, and was hoping you might be able to link to it b/c I'd very interesting if there was something like this.

My bladesinger impression comes from playing and having others play it at my table. The subclass options blend extremely well. I will give you a summary, my experience and then some concrete specifics.

Before Tasha's, The character has the best AC in the game when in bladesong (which it could do a lot), the ability to take more damage than a d10 fighter once SOD comes online and the ability to reduce elemental damage by half with absorb elements when hit with save for half spells. In addition to having the best AC you have a ton of spell slots so you can use spells like PGE and blur near every battle in tier 2+ and not even stress your spell limits.

In one of the tables I played before TCE, one of the other bladesingers went multiple levels without getting hit at all and was the main front line combatant in a 4-person party (I think it was level 4-7 not hit a single time in combat and went into melee every combat). Most battles the enemy needed a crit to hit and was usually swinging with disadvantage due to blur or PGE. Blink and mirror image as non-concentration just added icing on this cake. Also being at the front makes it easy to use cone or line spells or spells that have short range (counterspell!).

Before Tasha's if there was a weakness it was melee damage output. Although the bladesinger was nearly unhittable and had a deep well of hps above level 10, they did not do a lot of damage without resorting to real spells. Using shadowblade could up damage, but at the cost of a defensive concentration, so it was an option, but not an every battle one. Tasha's made four significant changes - first they reduced the number of time you can do bladesong, this made the character a bit more hittable on long adventuring days if they ran out of bladesong, this is more of a concern at level 3-4 than later. Unfortunatley this nerf was more than countered by the other changes. TCE allows any race to use bladesinger and allows races to move their bonuses. Now you can double down on these by taking a race like half orc for more combat bonuses or human for a feat or a yuan-ti for magic resistance and not lose any ability bonuses. Finally you have the bladesinger extra attack which took bladesinger from being lower than baseline in damage output for a melee build to being higher than the baseline and increasing with level. This was not a fair trade and now you have a class that has the highest AC in the game, the most hps effectively on tap and top-tier melee damage. It is a character who on a whim, in the middle of combat, can switch from being one of the best melee characters (arguably the best) to being one the best casters, unleshing the most effective leveled spells the game has to offer.

Specifics:
1. On point buy at 3rd level you should have effective 24 in AC running mage armor+shield+dex+intel+bladesong. At 8th level it is 26. At 12th level it is 27. Add a cloak of protection and bracers of defense and you are at 30. Most enemies will also be swinging at you with disadvantage most of the time. This is so powerful that most of the bladesingers we played did not worry about AOOs . We would hit with booming balde and then back up and eat the AOO. If the enemy was foolish enough to waste an AOO on us then that was one he did not have for another character and he had to move on his turn and take the extra booming-blade damage.

2. With a 10 constitution you have a +3 concentration save in bladesong at level 3 and higher after that. Pure melee build it would be +4 at 12th level. If you are metagaming you would start with a higher constitution though (we never did at my table and we were still the most powerful character).

3. On the rare occasion you get hit you use song of defense. At 10th level a bladesinger can trade spell slots for damage at the cost of 5 per slot. This is over 150 hps worth of damage you can absorb. It is theoretically possible to bypass this with multiattack since it uses a reaction or with massive damage that overcomes your highest-level spell slot but in play that doesn't happen much because you almost never get hit more than once a round. The thing is in a way these are better than hit points because you can cast the spells or trade them for damage whichever is needed. They are flexible in that regard.

Out of interest, where do you think the artificer / battle smith sits on the power curve ? Cos that's the sort of general area of the power curve that I'm aiming for.

I have not played it but looking at it I think it would be really good, probably A tier. Strictly speaking it can't keep up with EK or bladesinger in melee damage alone, but then you have the steel defender and I think this will more than make that up the damage difference. Being able to use intelligence for attack and defense is definitely a boon.

The downsides are it does not get shield, although I would definitely take a feat (or a wizard dip) to fix that. You are not a full caster and that is a ton of balance to the class compared to a bladesinger.

Being able to make magic items on a long rest is awesome and extra attunement will matter in some campaigns and in those campaigns it will be huge. As I mentioned earlier on this thread Artificer is a huge boost for the party in a low magic campaign where your party gets more magic then they can use and is a huge boost in a high magic campaign where the party can't use all the great items they have. In the middle this class ability is less of a big deal.

Given those things overall I would say it is a good class. I would put it at A probably if bladesinger and twilight are S.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
-Thank you for the compliment, I thought it would be better to have one written up if we were gonna theorycraft. However, in writing it the name was a hurdle. I do think the name should be a single word rather than two words. Spellsword and Swordmage both sound good (Spellsword giving the feel of a spellcaster over a warrior, Swordmage focusing on the weapon over the magic) but people are resistant to the idea of having a specific weapon in the title so might I suggest "Battlemage?"
Absolutely, much easier to discuss specifics. Plus I think we've pontificated enough about the need for it and some generalities, that it's reasonable to proceed to proposing some details that we can thrash out.
-Mystic seemed a term to separate it from the current class lineup, but I'd go for "Arcane X" whatever the subclass is and "Arcane Technique" for the techniques (really Arcane shouldn't be the same among both of them. Eldritch evokes the Warlock so maybe Arcane Path and Magical Techniques?)
I'd be fine with that
-My goal is to balance it based on the other half martial/casters so right now a d10 seems easier than giving more powerful spells. Heavy Armor isn't included because of the theme of things but I included medium armor since it is designed to be a melee weapon class and I don't want to pigeonhole all of the swordmages into finesse melee weapons (lord knows Strength needs all the help it can get in 5e and Medium Armor still requires a good Dex investment but doesn't knock 2h weapons totally out. Medium Armor actually makes the Strength builds more MAD because a Strength user still needs some Dex but also Strength and INT and, hey, maybe they want some CON, too.)
I'm not expecting complete balance at this stage of the design process, I would assume we would do a final balance pass at the end to tweak the overall package, but I would like to see us keep two things on the table: 1) d10/heavy/martial is a huge step up from wizard whereas it's not such a big step up from cleric & druid, so it counts for much more when balancing things, and 2) I've seen more examples for this style of play that are lightly armored and unarmored than in medium/heavy armor, so I'd love the class to support both playstyles as options.
-I would go with spells known for simplicity (and certainly not like Wizard spells known AND spells prepared) but I could see prepping 1/2lvl+INT as an option. Just doesn't feel very "Arcane" to me (with artificer prepping because they're building new devices for the day).
I guess I was going for maintaining the 'wizardy' feeling which to me feels more prepping. I could go either way I guess.
-My argument for level 1 is it covers the 'how' of how you got your powers since there are a lot of gish examples but not a common running-theme on what they are so having at level 1 allows you to explain that story. Plus I'm against builds that are required to change their equipment after a certain level so anything like the variable armor options (like I put in both the paths) should be put at level 1. If there was a common theme for a gish and then you could build from that into specialisms I'd put it at level 3 and just give the base class heavy armor as an option.
Good point. I agree there seems like there might be a higher degree of difference between playstyles of subclasses than with some other classes. So then perhaps we do have the archetype kick in at L1 but keep medium/heavy armor and certain weapon options in the subclasses, that way you don't have to change equipment types at higher levels, but it still supports a range of build options, including builds without those.
I agree, possibly as an 'Elementalist' archetype, though with its increase in sustained damage I'd need to buff the other subs which isn't really a problem as much as a complication.
That sounds good.
The big question to me is what the Battlemage cantrips can do. I am expecting cantrips on par with Greenflame Blade and Booming Blade which incorporate a weapon attack in with them. Combined with the removal of Sustained Magic and limiting it to cantrips I could see giving Extra Attack at 5, Bladesinger Cantrip replacing an attack at 7, And Improved War Magic (renamed since War Magic is no longer the level 7) as the big level 11 damage boost classes get. This does make it complicated but if a cantrip+attack is one action and a levelled spell+attack is an action and a bonus action that may alleviate some pains of balancing combos.
Since they're not getting Action Surge and can't do both of those in a round, that might work. Personally I'd be happy to just start with the SCAG cantrips as written, and add a few more similar ones later on as needed. We'd need to look at the numbers though.
We just need a spell list and 12-30 additional weapon-based spells.
I honestly don't think we need that many. I was thinking we would start with the Artificer / Battle Smith list and modify from there. It's got most of the spells I think would be needed, we remove all the healing & revivify spells, and spells that are artificer themed like caustic brew, summon construct, and any others we think just aren't appropriate etc. Once we've done, we've got a pretty solid base already, we just have to add a few to fill specific gaps.
-Thank you for all the kind words.
Credit where it's due man - you've put some serious work into this :)
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
My bladesinger impression <snip>
My experience has been different I guess. There is one major aspect to the bladesinger that seems frequently overlooked:
They are heavily reaction-constrained. You only get one reaction per round, so you can pick one out of the list of SoD, Absorb Elements, Counterspell and Shield, and once you've used one, you can't use any of the others. If you're always in fights where only one thing is happening every round, yes you will be a God b/c you can choose the best response to that thing. But as soon as two or more things start happening in a round, you can't do that any more. In theory you can be having an AC in the 30s, taking half dmg from AOEs, burning spell slots to soak dmg and be counterspelling the BBEG, but in practice, you can't do all of those things at once. I frequently see the bladesinger in our group defend against some melee attacks and then get hit with a big AoE, or the reverse, or take a crit and use SoD to soak it and then cop some melee hits b/c they can't Shield, etc.

I have not played it but looking at it I think it would be really good, probably A tier. Strictly speaking it can't keep up with EK or bladesinger in melee damage alone, but then you have the steel defender and I think this will more than make that up the damage difference. Being able to use intelligence for attack and defense is definitely a boon.

The downsides are it does not get shield, although I would definitely take a feat (or a wizard dip) to fix that. You are not a full caster and that is a ton of balance to the class compared to a bladesinger.
Being able to make magic items on a long rest is awesome and extra attunement will matter in some campaigns and in those campaigns it will be huge. As I mentioned earlier on this thread Artificer is a huge boost for the party in a low magic campaign where your party gets more magic then they can use and is a huge boost in a high magic campaign where the party can't use all the great items they have. In the middle this class ability is less of a big deal.

Given those things overall I would say it is a good class. I would put it at A probably if bladesinger and twilight are S.
I haven't played one yet either, but I'm keen to do so, and I think they'd be solid, and flavourful.
Battle Smith does get shield, it's in the extra spells added in the subclass along with a couple of smite spells and a couple of aura spells. It's pretty darn solid.
I would probably agree with Battle Smith being A tier and Bladesinger S tier. It's hard to assess the impact of the Steel Defender though, it might bump them up to S tier, esp at lower levels. But definitely behind Bladesinger, esp at higher levels due to L6+ wizard spells.
Seems like a good benchmark to compare to the Gish we're trying to create.
What do you reckon ?
 

ECMO3

Hero
My experience has been different I guess. There is one major aspect to the bladesinger that seems frequently overlooked:
They are heavily reaction-constrained. You only get one reaction per round, so you can pick one out of the list of SoD, Absorb Elements, Counterspell and Shield, and once you've used one, you can't use any of the others.
This is true and I mentioned it above, but in bladesong it was not much of a problem with any of the 6 bladesingers I have seen played (both before and after Tasha's). Shield and absorb elements last until your next turn, meaning once you have used it you have the AC boost or resistance until the next turn and if it is absorb elements usually other enemies are using the same attacks against you. SOD doesn't last the whole round, but it is rare that you will need SOD more than once a round because it is rare you will get hit more than once a round. Of those three reactions Shield is by far the most common and SOD is by far the least common.

Usually if the roll is high enough to beat the shield in bladesong it is a crit and you need to take SOD, you just hope they don't beat your lower (23ish) AC for the rest of the round. If you are not in bladesong sometimes it is a bit tougher call because you are more vulnerable and after Tasha's that did happen occasionally because of the reduced uses of bladesong. Counter the damage now or keep shield in my back pocket for future attacks?

Contingency works well here too, casting an upcast false life which activates if you use SOD and take damage - you can reduce the damage by up to 25 with the SOD reaction and the false life kicks in giving you another 28ish temp hps on top of that. Unless it is over 50hps of damage you have more total hps after getting hit then before and hopefully enough to weather the rest of the round without shield. If you word it this way you can decide on the fly if you want it to release if you get hit for less than 25 - if it is say 22 damage, you can use a 4th level SOD, take 2 damage and activate the contingency to get the 26+hp boost or use a 5th level slot, take 0 damage and not activate the contingency or not use SOD at all, take 22 damage and have your reaction (and the contingency) to use later if needed on a more deadly attack.
 
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Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
The more I look at the class in other editions, the more I think that the closest thing to it in the current system (for party role at least, not mechanics) is the monk. Which is why I don't think that just throwing out heaps of elemental damage suits it. Sure some spells like thunderous smite give a bit of damage as a side effect, but it's not their main use. What the class should not be is a paladin reskin.

There is a similar emphasis on mobility and moving around the battlefield compared to the monk, just via teleports rather than crazy movement speed. And then there is the ability to drop varying status effects, in a slightly similar way to the monk with stunning strike, but done through weapon spells rather than ki.
 

The more I look at the class in other editions, the more I think that the closest thing to it in the current system (for party role at least, not mechanics) is the monk. Which is why I don't think that just throwing out heaps of elemental damage suits it. Sure some spells like thunderous smite give a bit of damage as a side effect, but it's not their main use. What the class should not be is a paladin reskin.

There is a similar emphasis on mobility and moving around the battlefield compared to the monk, just via teleports rather than crazy movement speed. And then there is the ability to drop varying status effects, in a slightly similar way to the monk with stunning strike, but done through weapon spells rather than ki.
so we need the movement resources to stop people using it too little or too much at a low level.
 

TheOneGargoyle

Explorer
I'd love it if the mobility mechanic supported both a "teleport" type of playstyle like the 4e swordmage had, and a "mega jump" type of playstyle like a Jedi or wuxia style character.

Unfortunately the jump rules and the Jump spell in this edition aren't anywhere near good enough to support that, they doesn't scale with level, spell slot, Athletics score, or anything else other than pure Strength score. So that's not going to work.

What if there was a movement mode ability in the base class that got modified in different ways by the subclasses ? eg What if the class got a version of Cunning Action (call it something like Battlefield Mobility or something like that?) that says " You can take a bonus action to Dash, this movement does not provoke Opportunity Attacks" and then the various subclasses had things like "When you use your Battlefield Mobility, you may jump for any or all of the movement, ", "When you use your Battlefield Mobility, you blur for the duration of the movement and gain advantage on your first attack after it on your turn", "When you use your Battlefield Mobility, you teleport instead of moving normally", etc etc.

This would give them something they could use frequently but comes at an action economy cost of their BA, meaning it would contend for other uses of their BA so they have meaningful choices to make.

Thoughts ?
 

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