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

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.
 

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Yaarel

🇮🇱He-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.
 

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

🇮🇱He-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

🇮🇱He-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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