D&D 5E My Swordmage Homebrew, Any thoughts On It?

CreamCloud0

Explorer
There was some recent discussion about what classes might be wanted in 5E and swordmage was brought up, this was just my exploration of how one might be designed, what do people think about it? is it ballanced? is the language clear about what it means?.

SWORDMAGE
HIT POINTS
Hit Dice
1d8 1d10 per swordmage level
HP at 1st level 8 10+constitution mod
HP after 1st level 1d8 (or 5) 1d10(or 6) plus constitution mod per swordmage level past first

PROFICIENCIES
Armor
Light Armor, Medium Armor, Shields
Weapons Simple Weapons, Rapier, Scimitar, Shortsword
Tools None

Saving Throws Dexterity, Inteligence
Skills Pick two from: Athletics, Arcarna, History, Nature, Perception, Survival.

EQUIPMENT
  • a) A Rapier or b) Any two Simple Weapons
  • a) A Chain shirt or b) Scale mail
  • a) A Simple Weapon and a Shield or b) a Shortbow and a Quiver of 20 arrows
  • a) A Dungeoneer's pack or b) an Explorer's pack

LevelCore FeaturesBlademaster Subclass FeaturesRune Knight Subclass FeaturesArcane Sniper Subclass Features
1st levelElemental Blade,
Trained Monster Hunter
2ndGain Spellcasting (half caster),
Spellstrike,
Maneuvers (2)
3rdChoice of Subclass,
Extradimensional Stride
Additional Maneuvers (2+1),
Expanded Spell list
Heavy Armor Proficiency,
Full Martial Wpn Proficiency,
Hit die size increase
Ranged Spellstrike,
Ranged Martial Wpn Prfncy
4thASI
5thExtra AttackExpanded Subclass Spells--
6thExtra Maneuvers(3+2) Total: 5(2+1) Total: 3(2+1) Total: 3
7thSubclass Features-Guarding RiftPeircing Shot
8thASI,
Magic Blade
Affinity Resistance
9th-Expanded Spell list--
10thRift Hitchhiker
11th-
12thASI
13thExtra Maneuvers(5+2) Total: 7
Expanded Spell list
(3+1) Total: 4(3+1) Total: 4
14thAffinity Resistance
Expanded Elements
15thSubclass Features-Tempered SensesSwaying Shot
16thASI
17th-Expanded Spell list--
18thTwinned Element
19thASI
20thSubclass CapstonePersistant SpellAffinity ImmunityRicochet Projectile

Elemental Blade: All of your weapon attacks deal nonmagical damage of one of the following types: Fire, Cold, Lightning, Thunder, Acid or Poison, You can use your Bonus action to swap between any of these damage types on your turn.

Trained Monster Hunter: You have advantage on Survival (WIS) checks to track Aberrations or Elementals as well as advantage on INT checks to recall information about them.

Spellcasting: Is a Known spells halfcaster (Uses the same progression as the Ranger for spells known), Uses INT as their spellcasting modifier, A Swordmage may use any weapon that they are proficient with as an Arcane Focus and to perform the Somantic components of a spell, When you cast a spell using your weapon as an Arcane Focus you may pick any one of the energy types dealt by the spell to attune your Elemental Blade ability to, You always know the spells Chromatic Orb, Detect Evil and Good and Protection from Evil and Good and they do not count against your number of spells known, The Swordmage spell list is below.

Bane
Chromatic Orb
Charm Person
Detect Evil and Good
Dissonant Whispers
Ensnaring Strike
Faerie Fire
Guiding Bolt
Inflict Wounds
Magic Missile
Protection from Evil and Good
Ray of Sickness
Armor of Agathys
Arms of Hadar
Hail of Thorns
Shatter
Blur
Ray of Enfeeblement
Crown of Madness
Enthrall
Hold Person
Levitate
Melf's Acid Arrow
Misty Step
Moonbeam
Phantasmal Force
Bestow Curse
Counterspell
Dispel Magic
Fear
Fireball
Hunger of Hadar
Lightning Bolt
Magic Circle
Vampiric Touch
Banishment
Blight
Conjour Minor Elementals
Dimension Door
Evard's Black Tentacles
Phantasmal Killer



Cone of Cold
Conjour Elemental
Dispel Evil and Good
Flame Strike
Mislead
Planar Binding
Teleportation Circle



Spellstrike: Once per turn using your bonus action you can imbue any spell that directly targets a creature to deal damage or an effect into a melee weapon by expending a spell slot of an apropriate level, Until the begining of your next turn every time you make a melee weapon attack with the imbued weapon the effects of the spell take place against only the creature you attacked instead of the weapon damage, Each hit is treated as a separate casting of the spell but for the purpose of maintaining concentration all castings made in the same attack action are maintained off the same Concentration, If the to-hit conditions of the spell is a ranged spell attack replace the ranged spell attack with your weapon strike.

Maneuvers: The Swordmage knows a number of special actions they can take when they make the attack action on their turn, They may only use one Maneuver on any attack action.
You move 20ft in a straight line in any direction free of obstructions making a melee attack against any creatures in any adjacent squares to the ones that you start in, pass through or end up in.When making a Spellstrike that has a different to-hit condition than making a ranged spell attack you can substitute your weapon strike in place of the regular to-hit conditions of the spell.
When you successfully make a standard weapon attack against a creature after your attack you can teleport the creature up to 5ft, plus an additional extra 5ft equal to your INT modifier (minimum 1).Whenever you successfully make a weapon attack against any creature until the end of your turn it automatically deals half the damage you inflicted as well as any effects of the attack to all creatures in a 5ft radius around it.
Instead of attacking you take the Dodge action and end your turn, You get to make a weapon attack that automatically hits against any creature that makes an attack against you until the start of your next turn after they make their attack, you may use your reaction once a round to deal your attack first before they deal theirs, If the creature is out of your weapon range you teleport to the closest unoccupied square to your current location that you can reach them with your equiped weapon to attack before teleporting back to your original location and resuming the Dodge action.When you sucessfully hit a creature with your weapon and deal damage you can make it vunerable to one of the damage types you just dealt to it for 3 rounds, you can only make each individual creature vunerable to one type of damage in this way, you can effect a total number of creatures up to to your INT modifier (minimum 1) at the same time with this ability.
You can teleport to make a melee weapon attack against a number of creatures up to to your INT modifier (minimum 1) within a 15ft radius to your position of where you activated your attack action, you do not return to your original location after you make your final attack.You take your standard attack action and end your turn, once before the start of your next turn if you are targeted by a spell you can choose to automatically succeed on the saving throw, additionally if the spell is one compatible with the conditions of Spellstrike you can use your reaction to absorb the spell and begin your next turn with it imbued into your weapon.
When you successfully make a weapon attack against a single creature with your attack action you can inflict half damage and the effects to every creature within a 5ft radius, you can then pick one of those affected creatures and make a new attack roll against them to do the same, repeat until you either fail an attack roll or there are no other creatures within 5ft who have not already been targeted by an attack roll.Make a melee weapon attack with a melee weapon against every creature within attack range of your position.

Subclasses: The specific abilities of the subclasses are detailed later below in the post.

Extradimensional Stride: Once per turn when you take the move action up to 10ft of the distance you are moving can be by teleportation, However you cannot teleport to a location that you cannot see, Your movement speed increases by 5ft.

Magic Blade: Your Elemental Blade attacks now count as magic damage.
Affinity Resistance: You gain resistance to any energy type your Elemental Blade is currently attuned to.

Rift Hitchhiker: If any creature teleports within 10ft of the Swordmage they can use their reaction to travel up to 100ft with them to the same location in an adjacent square or when the Swordmage teleports they can bring an additional creature than the spell or ability states with them, If the creature is unwilling they can make a CON saving throw to resist being transported.

Affinity Resistance: You gain resistance to any energy type your Elemental Blade is currently attuned to.
Expanded Elements: Force, Psychic, Divine and Necrotic damage types are added to the types of damage you can change to when you use your Bonus Action to swap the damage type of your Elemental Blade feature.

Twinned Element: Your Elemental Blade feature can be attuned to two different energy types at once.

BLADEMASTER

Additional Maneuvers: You gain an extra maneuver apon getting this feature and an addtional maneuver every subsequent time you gain one.

Expanded Spell List: The following spells are added to your known spells, They do not count against your number of known spells

Spell LevelSpells
CantripsRay of Frost, Shocking Grasp, Vicious Mockery
1stTasha's Hideous Laughter, Thunderwave
2ndBlindness/Deafness, Scorching Ray
3rdSlow, Hypnotic Pattern
4thConfusion, Otiluke's Resilient Sphere
5thDestructive Wave, Hold Monster

Persistant Spell: When you imbue a spell into your weapon with Spellstrike it remains active for an extra round longer before it ends.

RUNE KNIGHT

Heavy Armor Proficincy: You become proficient with Heavy Armor.

Martial Weapon Proficincy: You become proficient in all Martial Weapons.

Hit Die Size Increase: Your Hit Die increases from a d8 to a d10.

Guarding Rift: Once per round when you take damage you can use your reaction to halve the damage taken and teleport up to 20ft away.

Tempered Senses: You have advantage on saving throws against effects inflicted through sight or hearing.

Affinity Immunity: You gain immunity to any energy type your Elemental Blade is currently attuned to.

ARCANE SNIPER

Ranged Spellstrike
: You can use Spellstrike when you make an attack with a ranged or thrown weapon

Ranged Martial Weapon Proficiency: You gain proficiency with all Weapons that are in the Ranged Martial Weapon category or have the Thrown property.

Peircing Shot: Your ranged weapon attacks deal damage to and pass through a number of creatures equal to your INT modifier (minimum 1)(for a +2 modifier your attack would pass through two creatures and stop on hitting the third).

Swaying Shot: You can use your bonus action to make an attack against a creature that is adjacent to the trajectory of your ranged weapon attack, The attack counts as one of the strikes for Peircing Shot.

Ricochet Projectile: When a weapon projectile you fired hits an environmental obstacle you can change the direction the shot is travelling in from the point of impact, You can do this once per projectile, you cannot use this to hit the same creature multiple times with the same shot.

Moved/Removed features in strikethough, Locations features moved to or added in blue.
 
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Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
What's the story here that isn't captured by Fighter (Arcane Archer, Eldritch Knight, Rune Knight), Wizard (Bladesinger, War Magic), Ranger (Fey Wanderer, Monster Slayer), Paladin (Oath of the Ancients, Oath of the Watchers), Warlock (Hexblade, Pact of the Blade), and Artificer (Battle Smith, Forge Adept, Armorer)?

The mechanics look fine for a rough draft to me, though playtesting is always a must. I'm just wondering why we need this class narratively when its story is already told through various subclasses.

I could see this existing perhaps if those subclasses didn't exist first. But as it is, this steps on their toes?

Another way to say this is that it looks like you're trying to combine the three Fighter subclasses Rune Knight, Arcane Archer, and Eldritch Knight into a class that trades some Fighter abilities for some Ranger abilities and a bit more spellcasting. But Artificer also already did this with its martially-bent subclasses and has a narrative hook that is not just "wizard-fighter multiclass character as a class). I don't see why this isn't just a Fighter or an Artificer?

I keep seeing people wanting to create this out of some form of forced symmetry with the Paladin and the Ranger, but narratively speaking, the stories being told here already exist in the game in a balanced and effective manner. They're just not exactly what YOU want out of the build?

5e is about simplification of concepts down to their archetypes, and not repeating those archetypes. WotC has made that mistake a few times (Warlock - The Undying, The Undead is the main offender here), but usually it's because they've abandoned the previous one as it wasn't mechanically effective, was made in collaboration with another publisher (i.e., Green Ronin), and nobody was playing it.
 
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CreamCloud0

Explorer
What's the story here that isn't captured by Fighter (Arcane Archer, Eldritch Knight, Rune Knight), Wizard (Bladesinger, War Magic), Ranger (Fey Wanderer, Monster Slayer), Paladin (Oath of the Ancients, Oath of the Watchers), Warlock (Hexblade, Pact of the Blade), and Artificer (Battle Smith, Forge Adept, Armorer)?

The mechanics look fine for a rough draft to me, though playtesting is always a must. I'm just wondering why we need this class narratively when its story is already told through various subclasses.

I could see this existing perhaps if those subclasses didn't exist first. But as it is, this steps on their toes?

Another way to say this is that it looks like you're trying to combine the three Fighter subclasses Rune Knight, Arcane Archer, and Eldritch Knight into a class that trades some Fighter abilities for some Ranger abilities and a bit more spellcasting. But Artificer also already did this with its martially-bent subclasses and has a narrative hook that is not just "wizard-fighter multiclass character as a class). I don't see why this isn't just a Fighter or an Artificer?

I keep seeing people wanting to create this out of some form of forced symmetry with the Paladin and the Ranger, but narratively speaking, the stories being told here already exist in the game in a balanced and effective manner. They're just not exactly what YOU want out of the build?

5e is about simplification of concepts down to their archetypes, and not repeating those archetypes. WotC has made that mistake a few times (Warlock - The Undying, The Undead is the main offender here), but usually it's because they've abandoned the previous one as it wasn't mechanically effective, was made in collaboration with another publisher (i.e., Green Ronin), and nobody was playing it.
Honestly i didn't write this to fill a narrative place, many different stories can be explored in different ways by different classes, though the 'magic swordsman' is still a fairly well known archetype that isn't properly encapsulated by 5e classes, but in my [admitedly limited] knowledge there isn't a class in 5e that truly properly synergises arcane and martial abilities into a single fighting style, well the paladin probably counts but it has an entirely different flavour to the swordmage and functions differently mechanically, oh sure there's classes that use magic and martial but there's still a large degree of separation between them or only explores them in minor capacity.
 
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What's the story here that isn't captured by Fighter (Arcane Archer, Eldritch Knight, Rune Knight), Wizard (Bladesinger, War Magic), Ranger (Fey Wanderer, Monster Slayer), Paladin (Oath of the Ancients, Oath of the Watchers), Warlock (Hexblade, Pact of the Blade), and Artificer (Battle Smith, Forge Adept, Armorer)?

The mechanics look fine for a rough draft to me, though playtesting is always a must. I'm just wondering why we need this class narratively when its story is already told through various subclasses.

I could see this existing perhaps if those subclasses didn't exist first. But as it is, this steps on their toes?

Another way to say this is that it looks like you're trying to combine the three Fighter subclasses Rune Knight, Arcane Archer, and Eldritch Knight into a class that trades some Fighter abilities for some Ranger abilities and a bit more spellcasting. But Artificer also already did this with its martially-bent subclasses and has a narrative hook that is not just "wizard-fighter multiclass character as a class). I don't see why this isn't just a Fighter or an Artificer?

I keep seeing people wanting to create this out of some form of forced symmetry with the Paladin and the Ranger, but narratively speaking, the stories being told here already exist in the game in a balanced and effective manner. They're just not exactly what YOU want out of the build?

5e is about simplification of concepts down to their archetypes, and not repeating those archetypes. WotC has made that mistake a few times (Warlock - The Undying, The Undead is the main offender here), but usually it's because they've abandoned the previous one as it wasn't mechanically effective, was made in collaboration with another publisher (i.e., Green Ronin), and nobody was playing it.
or it simply needs to have a proper idea grafted to it as the hunger for a proper swordmage has yet to be satiated.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
or it simply needs to have a proper idea grafted to it as the hunger for a proper swordmage has yet to be satiated.
I agree that there's a hunger for a arcane halfcaster! I think it can and should be fed through the Artificer class. I think that grafted a really strong narrative identity onto it that distinguishes it from Eldritch Knight Fighter or Fighter-Wizard multiclass character: it's an arcane warrior that invents and manages its own armour, weaponry, artillery, ammunition, and medicine. Iron Man / Magitech Gunner / Combat Medic / Arcane Gish. I think the narrative can be expounded upon with further martial-focused Artificer subclasses that lean into the Gish concept in other ways.

But others disagree with me, and that's fine.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
For me, the Swordmage is necessarily a full caster with spells upto slot 9.

What makes the Swordmage distinctive is, every spell is melee range, 10 feet or less. There are no range attacks.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I'd:
1. Make your subclass a level 1 thing.
2. Make your arcane fighting style a level 2 or 3 thing.
3. Drop HD to d8s.

At least one subclass gives +1 HP/level or upgrades your HD to d10s and grants medium or even heavy armor. This gives you the d10/medium armor choice without it being baked in power-budget wise.

At least one subclass is unarmored.

Pushing fighting style to 2 or 3. Have leveled-up arcane boosts on the fighting style as core class features. So Duelist gets an arcane ward, Great weapon gets something else, and Two Weapon Fighting something else. You could even go the Invocation route of a buffet list.

Steal from the 4e swordmage a bit; their aegis where cool. You could add them as spells possibly.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
For me, the Swordmage is necessarily a full caster with spells upto slot 9.

What makes the Swordmage distinctive is, every spell is melee range, 10 feet or less. There are no range attacks.
Is that a Bladesinger or Hexblade or Martial Bard, then? Perhaps with some choice feats?

I guess one could make that as an entirely new class. Perhaps a narrow spell list or a feature that lets you "channel" fireball into your blade to turn it into a melee ranged attack would work, then.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Honestly i didn't write this to fill a narrative place, many different stories can be explored in different ways by different classes, though the 'magic swordsman' is still a fairly well known archetype that isn't properly conceptualised, but in my [admitedly limited] knowledge there isn't a class in 5e that truly properly synergises arcane and martial abilities into a single fighting style, well the paladin probably counts but it has an entirely different flavour to the swordmage and functions differently mechanically, oh sure there's classes that use magic and martial but there's still a large degree of separation between them or only explores them in minor capacity.
Fair! Not trying to dismiss your work here at all. Have you taken a look at doctorbadwolf's Athamir version of the Swordmage homebrew class? Maybe the two two of you could put your heads together to make something very fun.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Is that a Bladesinger or Hexblade or Martial Bard, then? Perhaps with some choice feats?

I guess one could make that as an entirely new class. Perhaps a narrow spell list or a feature that lets you "channel" fireball into your blade to turn it into a melee ranged attack would work, then.
Bladesinger has an arsenal of Wizard ranged attacks, including Fireball. Warlock too, including Eldritch Blast.

The Swordmage lacks range spells on the Swordmage spell list.

The Swordmage can have elemental spells, but its version of Fireball would be a kind of "aura", a 10-foot radius blast, with the Swordmage unaffected at the center.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
Bladesinger has an arsenal of Wizard ranged attacks. Warlock too.

The Swordmage lacks range spells on the spell list.
Oh, I meant also choosing very specific spells to limit yourself to melee range.

Perhaps adding some Paladin and Ranger-style melee spells would help make that concept work too.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Oh, I meant also choosing very specific spells to limit yourself to melee range.

Perhaps adding some Paladin and Ranger-style melee spells would help make that concept work too.
And probably a Mage Armor spell that improves while leveling, without any standard armor proficiencies.

I would also want the Swordmage to be able to use magical "unarmed strikes", in addition to any martial weapon.
 

Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
What's the story here that isn't captured by Fighter (Arcane Archer, Eldritch Knight, Rune Knight), Wizard (Bladesinger, War Magic), Ranger (Fey Wanderer, Monster Slayer), Paladin (Oath of the Ancients, Oath of the Watchers), Warlock (Hexblade, Pact of the Blade), and Artificer (Battle Smith, Forge Adept, Armorer)?

The mechanics look fine for a rough draft to me, though playtesting is always a must. I'm just wondering why we need this class narratively when its story is already told through various subclasses.

I could see this existing perhaps if those subclasses didn't exist first. But as it is, this steps on their toes?

Another way to say this is that it looks like you're trying to combine the three Fighter subclasses Rune Knight, Arcane Archer, and Eldritch Knight into a class that trades some Fighter abilities for some Ranger abilities and a bit more spellcasting. But Artificer also already did this with its martially-bent subclasses and has a narrative hook that is not just "wizard-fighter multiclass character as a class). I don't see why this isn't just a Fighter or an Artificer?

I keep seeing people wanting to create this out of some form of forced symmetry with the Paladin and the Ranger, but narratively speaking, the stories being told here already exist in the game in a balanced and effective manner. They're just not exactly what YOU want out of the build?

5e is about simplification of concepts down to their archetypes, and not repeating those archetypes. WotC has made that mistake a few times (Warlock - The Undying, The Undead is the main offender here), but usually it's because they've abandoned the previous one as it wasn't mechanically effective, was made in collaboration with another publisher (i.e., Green Ronin), and nobody was playing it.
That's an issue with 5e as a whole. It's completely incapable of handling concepts too big and unique to be a subclass, but too redundant to be a class. If you stick the swordmage as a subclass, it has to miss out on all the interesting and fun mechanics which swordmages have been known for in other editions. If you stick it as a full class, it fills the same role as several other classes and subclasses already in the game, but with a different theme.

And yet it's quite clear that there is demand for a class of this type, as you get a thread or two every single week talking about it.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
And probably a Mage Armor spell that improves while leveling, without any standard armor proficiencies.

I would also want the Swordmage to be able to use magical "unarmed strikes", in addition to any martial weapon.
Hmm... maybe explore the Kensei Monk as a base concept, then?

Not saying just play a Kensei, but rather use that as the root mechanics to build from? I know that Monks are halfcasters under the hood (they just use Spellpoints instead of Neo-Vancian casting).
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
That's an issue with 5e as a whole. It's completely incapable of handling concepts too big and unique to be a subclass, but too redundant to be a class. If you stick the swordmage as a subclass, it has to miss out on all the interesting and fun mechanics which swordmages have been known for in other editions. If you stick it as a full class, it fills the same role as several other classes and subclasses already in the game, but with a different theme.

And yet it's quite clear that there is demand for a class of this type, as you get a thread or two every single week talking about it.
I'd argue it's the opposite - that 5e's reductionism is what allows it a breath of fresh air; that we don't have to get stuck in the details of mechanics and can focus on story. Can my 5e Oath of the Ancients Paladin do the exact same thing and have the same ability score array as my 4e Warden? No, but they're fundamentally the same character. It just made a lot of mechanical simplicity to merge the narrative into the Paladin class, as Warden was essentially a Green Knight Paladin with Wisdom instead of Charisma (and combining in Fey stuff makes an argument for the Paladin's Charisma instead). If I REALLY wanted my Warden to stay particularly Wise and not Charismatic at all, I later got the option to translate it as a Path of the Ancestral Guardian Barbarian (or could have just gone Path of the Totem Warrior Barbarian back in 2014).

But that's my opinion. I know plenty of folks who feel this reductionism bothers them and they come from a mechanics-first perspective in building or translating their character. I just don't think that's the mainstream audience of D&D, and here on the forums of Enworld, we're pretty marginal compared to the massive new audience of the game.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Hmm... maybe explore the Kensei Monk as a base concept, then?

Not saying just play a Kensei, but rather use that as the root mechanics to build from? I know that Monks are halfcasters under the hood (they just use Spellpoints instead of Neo-Vancian casting).
Kensei Monk.

Excellent idea.

There needs to be a model for how the Swordmage interacts in melee, then the spells overlay this model.
 


If it's going to be a halfcaster then at least let it be one like the artificer that starts with spells at level 1. The original sin of halfcasters and 1/3 casters is that, from a character perspective, the spells just appear at level 2 or 3 rather than be something they can work into their backstory. If the core class concept is "swordmage" then I want to imagine my character starts after training in weapons and magic.

Starting with spells also gets around the problem of level 1 rangers (and sometimes paladins) of basically being strict downgrades of Fighters with some ribbon abilities. Elemental Blade is more than a ribbon ability, but it is an ability unlikely to be relevant until at least 3rd or 4th level, because damage resistances, immunities, and vulnerabilities don't tend to be an important factor in the lowest levels a of play.
 

Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
The Swordmage doesnt need range spells because Fly and Teleport allow the Swordmage to jump into any melee combat.
Misty Step too.

Also, various Aegises did other things. So Arcane Power's Aegis of Ensnaring teleported the enemy to the Swordmage, allowing them to whack it instead of teleporting the Swordmage to the enemy to whack it (like the default Aegis of Assault).

If I was building a 5e Swordmage, I'd want to have all three Aegises as default core class features that all Swordmages could choose, rather than have them locked as alternate features behind subclasses. Maybe subclasses might focus on one or more of them, though.
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
If it's going to be a halfcaster then at least let it be one like the artificer that starts with spells at level 1. The original sin of halfcasters and 1/3 casters is that, from a character perspective, the spells just appear at level 2 or 3 rather than be something they can work into their backstory. If the core class concept is "swordmage" then I want to imagine my character starts after training in weapons and magic.

Starting with spells also gets around the problem of level 1 rangers (and sometimes paladins) of basically being strict downgrades of Fighters with some ribbon abilities. Elemental Blade is more than a ribbon ability, but it is an ability unlikely to be relevant until at least 3rd or 4th level, because damage resistances, immunities, and vulnerabilities don't tend to be an important factor in the lowest levels a of play.
For the Fighter class, it is easy to create a Fighting Style that grants a cantrip and a spell like Mage Armor. This helps the level 1 Eldritch Knight feel more on purpose and part of a magical knightly community, perhaps specifically an elven one.
 

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