How do we fix the Sorcerer?

Gadget

Explorer
Unlike the OP, I Think the Loremaster Wizard was outright broken; making the Sorcerer superfluous was a mere afterthought. :)

I will agree that the Sorcerer, while competent, feels a little awkward and restrained. However, I don't feel the solution is to take new-vancian casting away from other casters so sorcerers can be unique again; they just need more unique things to do.

1) I would allow them access to more meta-magic earlier in their career. I had thought about given them the ability to apply Subtle Spell for free at a certain level, as long as they had at least one Sorcery Point left. But that might be too much.
2) Only allow them to use Flexible Casting to make more spell slots once per long rest. This would open up opportunities to recover Sorcery Points outside of a long rest without giving them unlimited stamina. They could then recover CHA mod Sorcery Points per short rest. Perhaps subclass' could give unique options to recover as well (On Wild Magic Surge, gain one SP).

This would at least given them more room to perform their shtick without giving them unlimited stamina or overpowering them, IMHO.
 
I don't feel the solution is to take new-vancian casting away from other casters so sorcerers can be unique again;
I'm so glad you disagree! I thought no one had even noticed that suggestion. ;)

Not that they'd be that unique, the Bard uses the same casting mechanism, as do some off-casters. If anything, it'd make the wizard more unique - and a bit less versatile, so a bit less able to overshadow the sorcerer, that way.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
On further review of the Mystic, I would say:

1) It leans a little too much on the psionics to be a pure replacement for Sorcerer. Not surprising, given its design, but something to keep in mind when considering it as a replacement.

2) It is missing a few disciplines to help flesh out possibilities. On the other hand, it is very easy to add new disciplines, as well as expand the options available within each discipline.

3) Given that each discipline is very narrowly focused in purpose, it's not very unbalancing to add new options to it, compared to giving a Sorcerer more spells and wondering if he's going to build a random grab-bag of Haste + Teleport + Disintegrate + Hypnotic Pattern, or some such. With disciplines, having a new idea you want to add to the list should be natural and encouraged. You're limited to only a few general power concepts per character (up to 8 at 20th level), but can be very creative within each concept.

4) Mystic still has some balance issues that would need to be considered.

So basically, Sorcerer would be Mystic with less "psychic" flavor. The mechanics of the Mystic work fine as a chassis. The psi points per level are identical to spell points per level up to level 10. It just uses a different mechanic for handling stuff that would be 6th+ level spells, giving you a separate pool that lets you use multiple discipline abilities simultaneously — including multiple concentration effects. (And I am totally on board with that trade-off.)

You could conceivably add an extra pool for sorcery points for metamagic on top of that (and just not use or need the Font of Magic spell slot burning/creation mechanic). Since the 'spell' scopes are more limited and cohesive (you have 5 disciplines at level 10, rather than 11 independent spells), it may also help with some of the imbalanced nature of metamagic. You can't just get the exact spells that works perfectly with 'this' metamagic; your metamagic has to be considered with respect to the entire range of abilities that each discipline provides. It's no longer a competition between spells chosen and metamagics selected, since a given discipline may be viable for multiple metamagics.

Currently trying to rewrite the sorcerer using the mystic chassis to see how it shakes out.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
On further review of the Mystic, I would say:

1) It leans a little too much on the psionics to be a pure replacement for Sorcerer. Not surprising, given its design, but something to keep in mind when considering it as a replacement.

2) It is missing a few disciplines to help flesh out possibilities. On the other hand, it is very easy to add new disciplines, as well as expand the options available within each discipline.

3) Given that each discipline is very narrowly focused in purpose, it's not very unbalancing to add new options to it, compared to giving a Sorcerer more spells and wondering if he's going to build a random grab-bag of Haste + Teleport + Disintegrate + Hypnotic Pattern, or some such. With disciplines, having a new idea you want to add to the list should be natural and encouraged. You're limited to only a few general power concepts per character (up to 8 at 20th level), but can be very creative within each concept.

4) Mystic still has some balance issues that would need to be considered.

So basically, Sorcerer would be Mystic with less "psychic" flavor. The mechanics of the Mystic work fine as a chassis. The psi points per level are identical to spell points per level up to level 10. It just uses a different mechanic for handling stuff that would be 6th+ level spells, giving you a separate pool that lets you use multiple discipline abilities simultaneously — including multiple concentration effects. (And I am totally on board with that trade-off.)

You could conceivably add an extra pool for sorcery points for metamagic on top of that (and just not use or need the Font of Magic spell slot burning/creation mechanic). Since the 'spell' scopes are more limited and cohesive (you have 5 disciplines at level 10, rather than 11 independent spells), it may also help with some of the imbalanced nature of metamagic. You can't just get the exact spells that works perfectly with 'this' metamagic; your metamagic has to be considered with respect to the entire range of abilities that each discipline provides. It's no longer a competition between spells chosen and metamagics selected, since a given discipline may be viable for multiple metamagics.

Currently trying to rewrite the sorcerer using the mystic chassis to see how it shakes out.
I really like the idea of the mystic used as a sorcerer class. It reminds me of the Dragonlance Saga edition sorcerer which knew a few disciplines and was able to manipulate magic for effects within those disciplines. The base class might not be perfect since it is flavoured more towards psionics but the idea of the disciplines for the sorcerer is definitely something I like.
 

Horwath

Explorer
1. Let sorcery points be on short rest recharge.

2. reduce the cost of some metamagic effects by 1. I.E. subtle spell,distant spell, carefull sepll

3. Draconic bloodline should have built in breath weapon that costs spell slots or sorcery points to emulate dragons breath weapon.
 

cbwjm

I can add a custom title.
1. Let sorcery points be on short rest recharge.

2. reduce the cost of some metamagic effects by 1. I.E. subtle spell,distant spell, carefull sepll

3. Draconic bloodline should have built in breath weapon that costs spell slots or sorcery points to emulate dragons breath weapon.
I think you need to be careful with requiring sorcery points/ spell slots as a power source for class abilities. Apparently players don't like taking a limited resource and making it seven more limited by introducing more uses for it. This is according to comments by Mike Mearls on the earlier sorcerer video.

A breath weapon would be a sweet addition though.
 
It's interesting to hear the Mystic brought up as an alternative to the Sorcerer, because, before the Mystic entered development, when the topic of psionics' absence from the PH (psionics /was/ in a PH1, just not as a class, so it was marginal whether it would even be considered), the Sorcerer was often brought up as a way of adding psionics: "Just add a Sorcerer sub-class, it can use subtle spell to cast w/o components and have telepathy or something, boom, done, all the psionics you'll ever need." Obviously, that was considered inadequate, psionics has, at times, been distinct from magic in D&D, and has always been different from spellcasting, so a spell-caster as sole psionic was unacceptable to fans of psionics (even if, each incarnation of psionics being so different in each edition, they couldn't agree on a whole lot more).

Of course, the really over the top dismissal of the psion was "Just play a GOO Warlock, they're telepaths, with the right spells, they do everything psionics is suppoed to ."
 
It's interesting to hear the Mystic brought up as an alternative to the Sorcerer, because, before the Mystic entered development, when the topic of psionics' absence from the PH (psionics /was/ in a PH1, just not as a class, so it was marginal whether it would even be considered), the Sorcerer was often brought up as a way of adding psionics: "Just add a Sorcerer sub-class, it can use subtle spell to cast w/o components and have telepathy or something, boom, done, all the psionics you'll ever need." Obviously, that was considered inadequate, psionics has, at times, been distinct from magic in D&D, and has always been different from spellcasting, so a spell-caster as sole psionic was unacceptable to fans of psionics (even if, each incarnation of psionics being so different in each edition, they couldn't agree on a whole lot more).

Of course, the really over the top dismissal of the psion was "Just play a GOO Warlock, they're telepaths, with the right spells, they do everything psionics is suppoed to ."
Pretty similar target audiences: both want to do magic (even if one group doesn't like to call it that, but it is remarkable how close things they want to do line up to specific spells) differently than the wizard*. On top of that, the latest version of the mystic's psychics are considered magic and where are the protests? It is seems like there is a lot of "mile wide, but inch deep" going on here.

* both audiences also have obsessions with the wizard. Somehow if their favored class can't do nearly every single thing the same thing (or better) than the wizard**, something is wrong.

**except arcana/history/etc. checks, but now that I mentioned it, I am sure someone will claim they should be better at that too.
 
* both audiences also have obsessions with the wizard. Somehow if their favored class can't do nearly every single thing the same thing (or better) than the wizard**, something is wrong.
If you want to play your hypothetical class some day, you probably want it to be effective, so aim high! There's only a few targets to choose from in Tier 1.
 
If you want to play your hypothetical class some day, you probably want it to be effective, so aim high! There's only a few targets to choose from in Tier 1.
I will just repeat my long-held belief that one of the best things in 4e was that they put sorcerers and wizards in different roles.
 
I will just repeat my long-held belief that one of the best things in 4e was that they put sorcerers and wizards in different roles.
In the abstract, good-of-the-game design decision sense, I can't disagree. But, personally, Strikers bore me, and the 3.x Sorcerer did not remotely bore me, so I missed it. And it'd've been nice if 5e had re-captured it - but I don't see a path to that.
 
In the abstract, good-of-the-game design decision sense, I can't disagree. But, personally, Strikers bore me, and the 3.x Sorcerer did not remotely bore me, so I missed it. And it'd've been nice if 5e had re-captured it - but I don't see a path to that.
Slightly off topic, but my curiosity is engaged. If we accept that there was no way the devs were going to make 4e sorcerers controllers and the option had been there to make them something other than strikers, which role would you have preferred?
 
Slightly off topic, but my curiosity is engaged. If we accept that there was no way the devs were going to make 4e sorcerers controllers and the option had been there to make them something other than strikers, which role would you have preferred?
My personal preference in 4e roles goes: Leader > Controller >>> DM >Defender >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Striker.

But, Role wouldn't have saved it for me. The appeal of the 3.x Sorcerer was build-to-concept, with that vast list of spells to put together a picture of a specific set of magical powers that work, conceptually. 4e & 5e just do that for you, so from anything you can imagine, to dragon magic or wild - wait for a supplement if you want anything else.
 
Last edited:
I'm not the biggest fan of Sorcerers, mostly because, when they appeared in 3e, they were just a watered down version of Wizards. 4th edition changed that for me... but, 5th edition seemed to just go right back to all the things that made them problematic in 3e. Everybody knows the Sorcerer in 5e is... not doing so hot. There's a reason the biggest complaint about the Loremaster Wizard remains not "it's overpowered" but "It makes the sorcerer superfluous".

So, how do you folks think we could fix this?

Speaking personally...

Sorcery Points:The key difference between sorcerer and wizard is the use of this unique mana system... and, just like the Monk (esp. Wo4E) and its Ki system, WoTC dropped the ball on it. The Sorcerer just doesn't get enough sorcery points to play with, and they don't regenerate anywhere near quickly enough - the freaking wizard has better stamina then that, courtesy of its Arcane Recovery feature. Add in the inefficiencies of converting spell slots into sorcery points (especially given as the only advantage sorcerers have on wizards vis a vis spells is a bonus cantrip), and this is just a hot mess.
Solution: Make Sorcery Points either recover on a Short Rest instead of a long rest, or have each Origin outfitted with a way to regain sorcerery points more readily - for example, Wild Mages gain some whenever they roll a 1 or a 20 with a spell, whilst Dragon Sorcerers regain some when they take resisted damage. Also, increase the sorcery points at lower levels.

Spell List: Let's be honest; does anyone like the hard limit on spells known that sorcerers labor under? Or the lack of Origin-based bonus spells, something the Cleric and Warlock have?
Solution: Expand the Spells Known limits, or just remove that mechanic entirely. Add Origin-based Bonus Spells to the class.

Thematic Spells: I made this a seperate problem, because it's mostly a Dragon Sorcerer issue at the moment. Everybody knows that unless you play a Fire Dragon Sorcerer, you're basically gimped, because Fire is by far the most over-represented elemental damage type in the sorcerer's spell list.
Solution: Add more spells for the other elements. Heck, bring back the "rainbow damage" spells that sorcerers specialized in during 4th edition.

These are the three major problems that stick out to me. What are your opinions on them? Are there any problems with the sorcerer that you think I missed?
I actually see the sorcerer's problem very differently, stemming from a mismatch of a great underlying narrative to poor mechanics that do not reflect that flavor.

Yes, you can add more Sorcery Points, more Spells Known, more subclass-themed spells...and all you're really doing is making a wizard by another name with slight mechanical differences, applying bandaids to an implementation that fails...all while dancing around the actual issue.

Go back to the flavor text (emphasis mine)...

[SECTION]RAW MAGIC
Sorcerers carry a magical birthright conferred upon them by an exotic bloodline, some otherworldly influence, or exposure to unknown cosmic forces. One can’t study sorcery as one learns a language (1), any more than one can learn to live a legendary life. No one chooses sorcery; the power chooses the sorcerer (2).

Magic is a part of every sorcerer, suffusing body, mind, and spirit with a latent power that waits to be tapped. Some sorcerers wield magic that springs from an ancient bloodline infused with the magic of dragons. Others carry a raw, uncontrolled magic within them, a chaotic storm that manifests in unexpected ways. The appearance of sorcerous powers is wildly unpredictable. Some draconic bloodlines produce exactly one sorcerer in every generation, but in other lines of descent every individual is a sorcerer. Most of the time, the talents of sorcery appear as apparent flukes. Some sorcerers can’t name the origin of their power, while others trace it to strange events in their own lives. The touch of a demon, the blessing of a dryad at a baby’s birth, or a taste of the water from a mysterious spring might spark the gift of sorcery. So too might the gift of a deity of magic, exposure to the elemental forces of the Inner Planes or the maddening chaos of Limbo, or a glimpse into the inner workings of reality. (3)

Sorcerers have no use for the spellbooks and ancient tomes of magic lore that wizards rely on, nor do they rely on a patron to grant their spells as warlocks do. By learning to harness and channel their own inborn magic, they can discover new and staggering ways to unleash that power. (4)

UNEXPLAINED POWERS
Sorcerers are rare in the world, and it’s unusual to find a sorcerer who is not involved in the adventuring life in some way. People with magical power seething in their veins soon discover that the power doesn’t like to stay quiet. A sorcerer’s magic wants to be wielded, and it has a tendency to spill out in unpredictable ways if it isn’t called on. (5)

Sorcerers often have obscure or quixotic motivations driving them to adventure. Some seek a greater understanding of the magical force that infuses them, or the answer to the mystery of its origin. Others hope to find a way to get rid of it, or to unleash its full potential. Whatever their goals, sorcerers are every bit asuseful to an adventuring party as wizards, making up for a comparative lack of breadth in their magical knowledge with enormous flexibility in using the spells they know. (6)[/SECTION]

(1) suggests that sorcerers don't use the "language" of magic (spells) as other spellcasters do. For example, PHB p. 201 says "In casting a spell, a character carefully plucks at the invisible strands of raw magic suffusing the world, pins them in place in a particular pattern, sets them vibrating in a specific way, and then releases them to unleash the desired effect — in most cases, all in the span of seconds." But sorcery isn't pre-defined, it isn't a pattern language, it isn't set in a specific way. Yet the PHB sorcerer relies on spells readily recognizable to wizards. Easy on players – perhaps (more on that below) – but ultimately not matching the flavor text.

(2) suggests that magic, at least the kind sorcerers are tapped into has a will or semi-sentience of its own. What if sorcery were like riding/taming a stallion, using mechanics akin to a battle of wills with a sentient magic item? What does it mean for magic to choose you; do you always detect as magic, do others always recognize you as a spellcaster, or what? Are there unwilling sorcerers? Some of this is worldbuilding, but it could easily translate into mechanics that actually follow up on the promise of this flavor. Again, the mechanics fail.

(3) draws attention to the fact that "most sorcerers are not bloodline based at all! They're instead defined by strange events and involve significant mystery. If a sorcerer's origin is a mystery, should the player be pinning that down OOC? Isn't that a bit jarring narratively? Maybe what matters more than a sorcerer's past is their present ("how do you respond to magic choosing you? embrace it? see it as a curse?") or their future ("what do you seek to accomplish with your gift? pass it on? return it to its source? find the truth of your power's origin?").

(4) makes me wonder: Does Metamagic qualify as "discovering new and staggering ways to unleash that power"? Definitely Twinned Spell is powerful, but I'd argue there's no real sense of discovery on the player's side. Metamagic becomes rote eventually... "Oh, it's longer-reaching. Oh, there's 2 lightning bolts. Oh, you cast it subtly." Something is missing. Instead imagine a sorcerer mixing gust of wind and hypnotic pattern to blow a scintillating cloud into the castle window - a spell combo! Or imagine a sorcerer empowering a fire bolt so it twists around corners or appears as a roaring dragon's head of flame! Or even consider a sorcerer circumventing the usual spell system entirely to do things no bard, warlock, or wizard could dream of – like dropping a gravity well among enemies, slamming them together like those bombs from Guardians of the Galaxy!

(5) Magic wants to be wielded. Unused magic spills out in unpredictable ways. It seethes in a sorcerer's veins. What a powerful statement! If this flavor text were actually reflected in the design, what would it look like? Maybe instead of spell slots, a sorcerer builds up wild surge charges, so the more magic/spells cast, the greater risk of spending a round not casting a spell? Maybe losing concentration is particularly dangerous for a sorcerer? Maybe during a long rest, unused spell slots increase the chance of "strangeness" afflicting the sorcerer? So many opportunities to interpret this powerful flavor text, and yet sorcerer's design misses all of them.

(6) "Narrow focus, but enormous flexibility." Sorcerers aren't swiss army knives, with a utility spell for every occasion like a wizard. A sorcerer is a hatchet with uses limited only by the player's creativity (or perhaps necessity). A sorcerer has a tight theme but can adapt magic within that theme to a wide array of effects; a sorcerer might only know "water magic" but he knows *every* way to use water! And he can change it up on the fly! Instead, the PHB gives us the same old spell system without significant variation. Ice storm is ice storm is ice storm; if you want to use it to freeze a reservoir, well, you're firmly in DM judgment call territory just like any other spellcaster.

The Sorcerer flavor text is describing a class concept that does not actually appear in the PHB, but it's a class concept I recognize from fiction (e.g. A Wizard of Earthsea) & one I'd love to see actually implemented in D&D.
 
Last edited:

77IM

Explorer!!!
Slightly off topic, but my curiosity is engaged. If we accept that there was no way the devs were going to make 4e sorcerers controllers and the option had been there to make them something other than strikers, which role would you have preferred?
I can't speak for Tony Vargas, but I always felt that Striker just shouldn't be a role. Dealing damage is important and fun and everybody wants to do it, so all classes should be able to "strike" equally. Classes should be distinguished instead by what else they can do: tanking, control, support; and of course, differentiated by how they do it.

I could imagine a version of "Striker" role that was about bypassing the Defenders and Controllers, via ranged attacks, easy movement, or some other weird asymmetric attacks to get past the various control effects. But instead, 4E just made it do more damage, which is lame. And I'm still not sure that bypassing other roles is a strong enough hook to be a role unto itself, and it may lead to a weird arms race.
 
I can't speak for Tony Vargas, but I always felt that Striker just shouldn't be a role. Dealing damage is important and fun and everybody wants to do it, so all classes should be able to "strike" equally. Classes should be distinguished instead by what else they can do: tanking, control, support; and of course, differentiated by how they do it.
There's a fairly common sub-set of players who just like to go at enemies and do damage, they love strikers, the game should have 'em for them. I have my opinion about strikers: "Strikers are designed to be deadly - deadly dull." but I begrudge no one their enjoyment of them.

I do, however, feel that the Controller roll could have had a striker-like 'Blaster' role broken out from it, one that focused not on doing more damage, but doing damage to more targets - and objects, and terrain features. ;) Because I see so many players focus on just that part of the controller, really enjoy it, and never go anywhere else with it. ;) And because the Controller was just too un-focused, too much like a catch-all to grandfather in the over-versatile D&D wizard.
 

Kinematics

Explorer
+1 to all of that stuff that [MENTION=20323]Quickleaf[/MENTION] said.

When I chose to play a Sorcerer, it was because of the flavor text. That's the character I wanted to play. I then went digging into the mechanics as I built the character, and found that I was constantly struggling to wrestle what was provided into something even remotely like what I wanted.

The typical solutions were considered — bonus spells (which I got the DM to allow), changes to how metamagic was gained, some extra ribbon flavor (again, allowed by DM), etc — but I'll admit that I've gotten trapped in the web of trying to 'fix' the current sorcerer, rather than rethinking the class as a whole, to build something that actually matches the intent as described (partly because building a class from scratch is hard to do).


I got interested in the Mystic implementation because it moves in the direction I was considering, in how spells are grouped and handled, similar to the spell chains idea [MENTION=20564]Blue[/MENTION] had. I'd join (or maybe make) a thread for brainstorming a completely from-scratch build of the sorcerer class.
 

Eric V

Explorer
I don't know if this would be part of a subclass, or what, but when I look at the Druid Wildshape power, I wonder about something similar for sorcerers.

Maybe keep them at current spells known (or even lower the number) BUT, when a sorcerer sees a spell being cast, he makes a check of some kind to learn how to channel that spell himself; maybe gets advantage on this check if he is a target of said spell.

Combine this with the (IMO) excellent idea above of the sorcerer being able to drain magic items for more power, being able to attune to more, possibly concentrate on more, and you've got flavour to better match the text, even if it's not perfect. Would this be a change to the class, or merely a subclass, I don't know.

It relies a LOT on DM fiat, though: which spells the sorc gets exposed to, and whether or not magic items are a thing in the particular campaign.
 

Winterthorn

Monster Manager
They should have based the sorcerer's spell casting on CON rather than CHA. I see well being and stamina fit the sorcerer's story better than strength of personality. With CON as the sorcerer's "fuel" it would be quite logical for them to be able to burn through a few HD to boost their spell points if they want to risk it.

Additionally, I'm thinking to allow sorcerer's to attune to up to four magic items (all other classes limited to three).

That said, there are good ideas up thread, and I may yoink a few :)
 
Last edited:

Advertisement

Top