D&D (2024) How should the Wizard subclasses be revised?

cbwjm

Seb-wejem
As much as I like the schools of magic, I think they were better in 2e/3e where you specialised gaining bonus spells and losing access to others. For 5e, I think it would be much better to go with strongly themed archetypes. I'm not sure exactly what these subclasses should be, but something like:
  • The Dark Mage, a wizard who deals with the dark arts or necromancy and demon summoning (perhaps not the best for a PHB handbook, but a great villainous option). Since subclasses are fairly small, this might also need to be split between necromancer and demon summoner.
  • The classic Illusionist.
  • The Elementalist. A wizard skilled with destructive elemental magic, perhaps focused on a single element, but skilled with all.
  • The Arcanist. A wizard that really gets a lot out of their arcane implements. They might be the best ritualists or maybe they gain additional powers from using their arcane focus depending on if it is a wand, a staff, an orb, or a spellbook.
These might not be the best ones to start, but specifically focused around a strong theme I think would be a good idea. I'm interested to see what WotC go with, I wouldn't be surprised to see the specialist still in, but a single subclass where you choose a school for bonuses for that school.
 

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DavyGreenwind

Just some guy
I think Scribe will be the new default or "simple" Wizard. As part of the base class, you get to pick two school specialties at level 2, and then another one at level 9. (Want a War Mage? Pick EV and AB. Beguiler? IL and EN? Etc.) The other 3 subclasses would be Dread Necromancer (per Crawford interview), Bladesinger, and the last a toss up, probably Runecraft, but also perhaps Summoner, Oracle, Mystic, or Theurge.
 

I think Scribe will be the new default or "simple" Wizard. As part of the base class, you get to pick two school specialties at level 2, and then another one at level 9. (Want a War Mage? Pick EV and AB. Beguiler? IL and EN? Etc.) The other 3 subclasses would be Dread Necromancer (per Crawford interview), Bladesinger, and the last a toss up, probably Runecraft, but also perhaps Summoner, Oracle, Mystic, or Theurge.
The more I think about it, the more I realize I have no idea which way they are going to go. Based on what was claimed so far, there will only be 4 subclasses for the Wizard in the 2024 PH.

Every other playtest class has showcased the SRD subclass. Clerics got Life, Druids got Moon, Bards got Lore, etc. The SRD subclass for Wizard is the Evoker. If they stick to the Evoker in the next playtest packet, that means they are likely going to select 4 "School Specializations" to base the 2024 Wizard subclasses on.

Which 4? I think it would be the ones that have the strongest identity and selection of spells from the Core PH. The schools with few spells per level, like the Diviner, are not going to make the cut. There isn't enough to build out for them. The core game has to stand on its own using only the SRD. Below is a breakout of the Arcane playtest spells based on school, and my guesses.

Evoker - 28 spells (4 cantrips, spells at most levels, but no 8th level spells) - Yes. It has to. Iconic Boommage that does not hurt allies.
Conjurer - 28 spells (two cantrips, two 3rd, two 5th, two 6th) - Yes. An iconic them that plays differently with pets and has spell options
Illusion - 28 spells (2 cantrips, spells at most levels, but no 8th level spells) - Yes. Iconic for old editions, and has spells, even if unpopular.
Transmutation - 26 spells (1 cantrip (prestidigitation), spells at most levels, but no 8th level spells) - Yes. It has the variety and support.
Enchantment - 26 spells (two cantrips, no 3rd, no 7th level spells) - Doubtful. But it is 5th place in my mind, beat by transmutation.
Abjurer - 21 spells (one cantrip (blade ward), one 2nd, one 4th, one 5th level) - Doubtful. It's my favorite concept that I want enhanced.
Divination - 14 spells (one cantrip (true strike), so few spells overall, no 6th or 7th level spells) - Nope.
Necromancy
- 15 spells (1 cantrip (chill touch, so few spells overall, no 5th level spells) - Nope. Iconic theme but absolutely no spell support.

I doubt they will add lots of arcane spells of the appropriate schools to make all of them valid. Now if they plan to update and rerelease the other 4 core schools in a future product, they can add more spells in that product to fluff out the spell options to support them.

And as for a single "School Specialist" subclass that has 8 school options at each of the 4 subclass feature levels, I used to think that would work. But looking in depth, the abilities that a school specialist would need to do the subclass justice just wouldn't fit. It's too much content for a single subclass.

Someone else mentioned merging schools into 4 subclasses, but that erases the traditional "Necromancer", "Illusionist", etc. But here are some interesting, but flawed ideas:
  • They could merge Evoker and Diviner into a new Mage Hunter/Spellslinger/Duelist type that seeks and destroys
  • They could merge Necromancer and Enchanter into a Soulrender/Shadow Beguiler type of wizard that messes with your autonomy
  • They could merge Abjurer and Conjurer into a Planeswalker/Summoner type that travels, summons, and abjures creatures
  • They could merge Transmuter and Illusionist into a Reality/Perception Warper type that challenges the status quo
Finally, I also doubt that they will take subclasses from earlier sourcebooks, despite how interesting they are. They don't want to invalidate those sourcebooks.
 

Vaalingrade

Legend
Maybe we can finally accept that Necromancy is, for D&D purposes, the 'raise a lot of undead minions' concept and doesn't need to be a spell school anymore.

I know we're not allowed to have new classes ever again, but...
 


WanderingMystic

Adventurer
So I am hoping that we get a war wizard/battle mage concept for the first one. So mething that has abjuration and evocation but is better done than the war wizard was.

Illusionist is a heavily thematic option so I wouldn't mind seeing that as a class. Then I would like a summoner.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Alright, so it has come to my attention that Jeremy Crawford actually confirmed the Necromancer will be a Wizard Subclass they test, so I'm thinking now that we will see:

  • Evoker, classic Fireball launcher
  • Illusionist, classic D&D archetype
  • Necromancer, spooky fun
  • Bladesinger, Elf-ish
 

Alright, so it has come to my attention that Jeremy Crawford actually confirmed the Necromancer will be a Wizard Subclass they test, so I'm thinking now that we will see:

  • Evoker, classic Fireball launcher
  • Illusionist, classic D&D archetype
  • Necromancer, spooky fun
  • Bladesinger, Elf-ish
Very interesting! Do you have a link to where Crawford said that? I also believe that Evoker and Illusionist are a shoe-in, but I am so curious how they will handle the necromancer specialist with no 5th level spells to collect/scribe (yet).

If they can get a good Necromancer that makes necromancer-players happy (with only 4 subclass levels), that would give me a lot of hope for other subclasses that need to embody a schtick that makes them unique.

I agree that a bladesinging is interesting as an option, but it was reprinted in Tasha's, so I'm skeptical that they will reprint in the 2024 Core rules. It's already good and is a later design, so it doesn't showcase anything new or iconic as a core option. (IMHO).
 
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Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
The problem is that right now, there aren't enough spells to make dedicated specialists. I mean, have you tried to make a caster who focuses on something like summons, necromancy, or fire magic? At best you get one spell per level and a lot of redundant effects. You'd have to add I'd say a good 50 to 100 more spells to the game to make that work. It is still a struggle to get simple concepts like elementalists or shadow mages to work without having to dip into the Top 20 Best Wizard spells to round them out.
For elementalists, just make swapping out the elemental damage of a spell to their preferred element a core part of the class. (This stretches "elementalist" to cover all sorts of typed damage in D&D, even if one is unlikely to refer to someone who does psychic damage as an elementalist.)

I love spells, but I absolutely do not want anyone publishing acid ball, ice ball, lightning ball, poison ball, psychic ball, thunder ball, etc., just to make sure there's enough spells of each element.

You're a fire mage? Great, unless you specifically prepare the spells with their normal preparation, all elemental damage is fire and all incidental effects are the target burning (adding incidental effects I would make a later bonus to the subclass). No switching elements on the fly, though, so plan carefully.
 

Whizbang Dustyboots

Gnometown Hero
I agree that a bladesinging is interesting as an option, but it was reprinted in Tasha's, so I'm skeptical that they will reprint in the 2024 Core rules. It's already good and is a later design, so it doesn't showcase anything new or iconic as a core option. (IMHO).
They said specifically during the summit that moving stuff from Xanathar's and Tasha's into a future edition of the PHB was "always" an option (which was news to me), so I suspect at least one subclass will be making that jump. Bladesinger, swashbuckler and some of the bard classes seem among the most likely to do so, IMO.
 

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