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

Yaarel

Mind Mage
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).
I see the Swordmage as the up-close-and-personal caster.

Heh, even the "distance whack" feels too much like a ranged attack to me.



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.
Sounds solid.
 

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Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
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.
Heck, I've already homebrewed a Fighting Style that grants 2 Wizard cantrips a la Druidic Warrior and Sacred Warrior (Arcane Warrior). Not sure if Mage Armour + cantrip is balanced against other fighting styles, though. Maybe just Mage Armour alone or 2 cantrips alone?
 

Yaarel

Mind Mage
Heck, I've already homebrewed a Fighting Style that grants 2 Wizard cantrips a la Druidic Warrior and Sacred Warrior (Arcane Warrior). Not sure if Mage Armour + cantrip is balanced against other fighting styles, though. Maybe just Mage Armour alone or 2 cantrips alone?
The cantrip plus (at-will!) Mage Armor is balanced − if swapping out the medium and heavy armor proficiency for it. Even if one doesnt actually swap, it defacto happens because the Mage Armor cant stack with them.

The flavor is: Mage Armor = Elven Chain. What is called "elven chain" is actually a spell. Which is why the AC benefit of chain lacks any weight constraints.

The Fighting Style can make the Mage Armor appear as any armor that one wishes, including luxurious fabrics, or as an invisible force, but the high elf culture has the formal custom to make it appear as very fine silk-like chain armor. The appearance of fabric over or under the chain has colors and embroidery to signify the elven combat unit.
 

Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
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.
The thing is I like a lot of the reductionism. 3.5e with its literally hundreds of classes, and its painful rules where you had to add up 50+ and - modifiers for each and every role was obscene. 5e gameplay rules are its best part imo.

I just think that they went way too far with character building. Where it got reduced down so much that some popular archtypes can only be replicated in sub par ways compared to prior editions. A 5e paladin is the most fun it's ever been. But a 5e swordmage equivalent is probably the least satisfying of any edition which I know the rules for. Same with the warlord.

I don't think that 13 classes and hundreds of classes is a strict binary. There are more options than one or the other. 15-20 would have been my ideal.
 
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Marandahir

Crown-Forester (he/him)
The thing is I like a lot of the reductionism. 3.5e with its literally hundreds of classes, and its painful rules where you had to add up 50+ and - modifiers for each and every role was obscene. 5e gameplay rules are its best part imo.

I just think that they went way too far with character building. Where it got reduced down so much that some popular archtypes can only be replicated in sub par ways compared to prior editions. A 5e paladin is the most fun it's ever been. But a 5e swordmage equivalent is probably the least satisfying of any edition which I know the rules for. Same with the warden.

I don't think that 13 classes and hundreds of classes is a strict binary. There are more options than one or the other. 15-20 would have been my ideal.
I guess we all have our own cut offs for what should be a class and what should be an archetype?

I personally wouldn't add anything but MAYBE a Psion. I wouldn't be opposed to a 5e canon that had a Swordmage (or whatever) in it, and there are some good ideas above and in doctorbadwolf's thread and elsewhere; but ever since I saw martial Artificers, I feel like that was the perfect solution to this issue. It's the same reason I don't think a Warlord should be its own class. I think Battle Master, Banneret, and Samurai Fighter, as well as the Mastermind Rogue, are good non-magical takes on this, and Bard and Paladin capture the magical versions. I don't think the game NEEDS a full Warlord class. But your mileage may vary!
 

CreamCloud0

Explorer
I wouldn't be opposed to a 5e canon that had a Swordmage (or whatever) in it, and there are some good ideas above and in doctorbadwolf's thread and elsewhere; but ever since I saw martial Artificers, I feel like that was the perfect solution to this issue.
What makes you feel that martial artificer perfectly fills the narrative space of the swordmage? and i ask that sincerely, having only read the PHB so i don't know how the artificer is really structured martial or otherwise, I'm aware of their infusions in a general sense from a DnD liveplay podcast but beyond that it's all a bit vague, the artificer in my mind has always fallen more into the conceptual space of 'magitech' even if what they're enchanting is weapons and armour, relying on things to do their casting for them-even things that they made themselves, separates the magic from the user in a way that doesn't fit my idea of what a swordmage is.

A good question to ask here is probably 'what image is brought to mind for you when someone mentions a swordmage?' not in the context or fitting it into a narrative for DnD but the archtypical idea of what a swordmage is, for me it's a warrior trained in the arts of both battle and the mystical, combining them into something more powerful than the two separately, flowing seamlessly between them and channeling magic directly through their weapons for combat.
 

FallenRX

Explorer
What makes you feel that martial artificer perfectly fills the narrative space of the swordmage? and i ask that sincerely, having only read the PHB so i don't know how the artificer is really structured martial or otherwise, I'm aware of their infusions in a general sense from a DnD liveplay podcast but beyond that it's all a bit vague, the artificer in my mind has always fallen more into the conceptual space of 'magitech' even if what they're enchanting is weapons and armour, relying on things to do their casting for them-even things that they made themselves, separates the magic from the user in a way that doesn't fit my idea of what a swordmage is.

A good question to ask here is probably 'what image is brought to mind for you when someone mentions a swordmage?' not in the context or fitting it into a narrative for DnD but the archtypical idea of what a swordmage is, for me it's a warrior trained in the arts of both battle and the mystical, combining them into something more powerful than the two separately, flowing seamlessly between them and channeling magic directly through their weapons for combat.
Eh my favorite take on a Swordmage type class, was the Warmage from Valdas spire of secrets.

Where they gave it something unique from every other class in 5e by making it a Cantrip only caster, that uses weapon focused cantrips, and has subclasses that broaden it
 
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Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
I think that an artificer subclass could be closer to a swordmage than anything we've got in 5e so far. Except the the two artificer gish subclasses for it are either Iron Man, or Wendolene and her robodog Preston.

Both are very cool subclasses don't get me wrong. But not exactly what I'm looking for.
 

Frozen_Heart

Adventurer
What makes you feel that martial artificer perfectly fills the narrative space of the swordmage? and i ask that sincerely, having only read the PHB so i don't know how the artificer is really structured martial or otherwise, I'm aware of their infusions in a general sense from a DnD liveplay podcast but beyond that it's all a bit vague, the artificer in my mind has always fallen more into the conceptual space of 'magitech' even if what they're enchanting is weapons and armour, relying on things to do their casting for them-even things that they made themselves, separates the magic from the user in a way that doesn't fit my idea of what a swordmage is.

A good question to ask here is probably 'what image is brought to mind for you when someone mentions a swordmage?' not in the context or fitting it into a narrative for DnD but the archtypical idea of what a swordmage is, for me it's a warrior trained in the arts of both battle and the mystical, combining them into something more powerful than the two separately, flowing seamlessly between them and channeling magic directly through their weapons for combat.
One pro about using artificer as a base, is that their subclasses are extremely strong next to their base class early on. You have 5 or 6 subclass features up until level 9, including the level 5 one which is a huge chunk of your power. Additionally, the level 3 features change how they play a huge amount. A hexblood alchemist can play as a healer/witch type character, slinging spells from the backline. Meanwhile a dwarf battlesmith is in front line combat fighting side by side with an animated golem with multiple weapon strikes.

There is less to offer in the later levels, but getting to tier 3 is so rare almost no one does.

A theoretical swordmage subclass under artificer could offer a crazy amount more than something such as the eldritch knight or bladesinger. Both of which get almost all their power from their main class, leaving their subclass as an insignificant part of their power budget and abilities. Meanwhile an artificer swordmage subclass could be given things like spellstrike, teleports, and a list of automatically learnt spells which actually suit it, without having to worry as much about the base class being too overwhelming.

I still think that a dedicated swordmage class would be better. But if I had to pick a place to put it as a subclass, artificer would be the place to be. However WotC 'won't' make a swordmage themed artificer, as each subclasses theme is about 'making' something. Therefore a generic swordmage doesn't fit that theme.
 
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cbwjm

Legend
One thing of note is the elemental blade doesn't need to specify the damage being nonmagical, 5e doesn't have that distinction, fire damage is just fire damage.
 

CreamCloud0

Explorer
One thing of note is the elemental blade doesn't need to specify the damage being nonmagical, 5e doesn't have that distinction, fire damage is just fire damage.
Fair, but i wanted to make it clear that they weren't dealing any form of magic damage with it at level 1 and a little redundancy doesn't hurt, so they'd either needing to use spellstrike or the later level magic blade upgrade to be dealing magic damage as standard with it.
 

NotAYakk

Legend
I'd start with 4 fighting styles. The weapons you fight with should be core to the SWORDmage identity.
  • Sword + Board + Armor
  • Sword + Hand
  • Two Sword (TWF)
  • Big Sword (two handed)

As this changes what your armor and gear is, it has to be a pick at level 1.

As 4e Aegis are honestly cool, I might wire them into the above; maybe which fighting style you have determines what aegis you get.

A second "subclass" could be added around level 3, like the warlock pact/patron split, if we wanted more theme-based subclasses.

Full caster is tempting, but only if we can work out what a 9th level swordmage spell looks like.

9th: Blade of Disaster, Foresight, Invulnerability, maybe Wierd, Astral Projection and Time Stop?
8th: Mind Blank, Power Word: Stun, Sunburst, Telepathy, Antimagic Field?
7th: Crown of Stars, Etherealness, Draconic Transformation, Regenerate, Arcane Sword?

lower level spells are easier to envision as swordmage magic.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
Eh my favorite take on a Swordmage type vlass, was the Warmage from Valdas spire of secrets.

Where they gave it something unique from every other class in 5e by making it a Cantrip only caster, that uses weapon focused cantrips, and has subclasses that broaden it
Agreed. People jump on the half-caster concept for it because there's no arcane corollary to the paladin, but I don't think half-casting is necessary to get the feel of the 4e swordmage or PF magus. I don't think half-caster is the wrong approach, I just think other ideas are also valid.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Heck, I've already homebrewed a Fighting Style that grants 2 Wizard cantrips a la Druidic Warrior and Sacred Warrior (Arcane Warrior). Not sure if Mage Armour + cantrip is balanced against other fighting styles, though. Maybe just Mage Armour alone or 2 cantrips alone?
I'd do an arcane defense and 1 wizard cantrip. the arcane defense would be unarmored defense with intelligence. It's balanced with the best fighting styles, IMO, and the worse FS options need a boost anyway.

edit: I say wizard cantrip only because the scag cantrips exist, but honestly even then, they don't work with the fighter's core features, which makes it still subpar.

Now, give an unarmored defense calculation and the ability to make your weapon attacks with a single weapon magical, and IMO you've really got something. Rather than trying to match the Bladesinger at level 7 for the EK, I'd give them the ability to choose a damage type and add proficiency bonus damage of that type to all weapon attacks with their bonded weapon. That, or let them cast a cantrip as a bonus action when they use the attack action, rather than the other way around.
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
Fair, but i wanted to make it clear that they weren't dealing any form of magic damage with it at level 1 and a little redundancy doesn't hurt, so they'd either needing to use spellstrike or the later level magic blade upgrade to be dealing magic damage as standard with it.
IMO doing magical damage at level 1 is absolutely necessary to even bothering with a swordmage class. The blaster warlock doesn't have any disadvantage against fiends, why should the swordmage?
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
One pro about using artificer as a base, is that their subclasses are extremely strong next to their base class early on. You have 5 or 6 subclass features up until level 9, including the level 5 one which is a huge chunk of your power. Additionally, the level 3 features change how they play a huge amount. A hexblood alchemist can play as a healer/witch type character, slinging spells from the backline. Meanwhile a dwarf battlesmith is in front line combat fighting side by side with an animated golem with multiple weapon strikes.

There is less to offer in the later levels, but getting to tier 3 is so rare almost no one does.

A theoretical swordmage subclass under artificer could offer a crazy amount more than something such as the eldritch knight or bladesinger. Both of which get almost all their power from their main class, leaving their subclass as an insignificant part of their power budget and abilities. Meanwhile an artificer swordmage subclass could be given things like spellstrike, teleports, and a list of automatically learnt spells which actually suit it, without having to worry as much about the base class being too overwhelming.

I still think that a dedicated swordmage class would be better. But if I had to pick a place to put it as a subclass, artificer would be the place to be. However WotC 'won't' make a swordmage themed artificer, as each subclasses theme is about 'making' something. Therefore a generic swordmage doesn't fit that theme.
I think that imbuing magic into weapons is perfectly fine for an artificer, especially if it also comes with the idea that you have forged your weapon, and the weapon has a a special name and special rules, and something cool you can do with it as a bonus action.

It doesn't, for me, satisfy what I want from a swordmage class, but combine it with some new infusions that support swordmaging, and it's definitely a cool gish concept.
 

CreamCloud0

Explorer
IMO doing magical damage at level 1 is absolutely necessary to even bothering with a swordmage class. The blaster warlock doesn't have any disadvantage against fiends, why should the swordmage?
the warlock is a full caster though whereas i designed swordmage as half, they only go without magic for a single level's worth of adventuring, though i do see where you're coming from so if then the elemental blade feature was made to deal inherently magical damage from the word go incorporating the later magic blade upgrade what then would you put as the 8th level boon to their abilities?
Personally my first inclination is to add force, divine and necrotic damage types to their repetoir for use with elemental blade [without relying on a spell for the damage type].
 

doctorbadwolf

Heretic of The Seventh Circle
the warlock is a full caster though whereas i designed swordmage as half, they only go without magic for a single level's worth of adventuring, though i do see where you're coming from so if then the elemental blade feature was made to deal inherently magical damage from the word go incorporating the later magic blade upgrade what then would you put as the 8th level boon to their abilities?
Personally my first inclination is to add force, divine and necrotic damage types to their repetoir for use with elemental blade [without relying on a spell for the damage type].
Yeah level 1 I’d put just magical damage types, no extra damage. Or, a choice between (1) a defense buff (2) extra damage and (3) tank/protect others buff.

Then level 2 or 3, get the core damage buff of the base class, level 5 extra attack, level 6-8 proficiency bonus magical damage, unlock force damage as an option, something like that.

What I’m looking at for my own take on the idea is that level 1 has a Mark ability tied to your Aegis. You then get the ability to put extra power into the mark for extra damage or protection. But that level 1 mark, I’m thinking can provide a “fighting style” type choice that focuses how you approach combat on a basic level, ie offense focused, defense, mobility, or protection/punishment.
 

CreamCloud0

Explorer
Yeah level 1 I’d put just magical damage types, no extra damage. Or, a choice between (1) a defense buff (2) extra damage and (3) tank/protect others buff.
i think i'll jsut add the magic damage at first, the three subclasses at 3rd kinda cover that latter bit in my swordmage design, Bladesmith is meant to be a skill/versatility build with extra spells and maneuvers, Rune Knight is meant to be more reliable and defensive having access to better weapons and armor and defensive abilities, then Arcane Sniper subclass is the ranged option
Then level 2 or 3, get the core damage buff of the base class, level 5 extra attack, level 6-8 proficiency bonus magical damage, unlock force damage as an option, something like that.
do you think it would be better progression to move forward the level 14 affinity resistance ability to 8th and put natural force/divine/necrotic damage access at 14th instead?
What I’m looking at for my own take on the idea is that level 1 has a Mark ability tied to your Aegis. You then get the ability to put extra power into the mark for extra damage or protection. But that level 1 mark, I’m thinking can provide a “fighting style” type choice that focuses how you approach combat on a basic level, ie offense focused, defense, mobility, or protection/punishment.
that does sound interesting having their mark include other effects beyond a pure damage bonus like the ranger's or warlock's, personally i wouldn't put it at 1st let them play with it just for a level or two before needing to choose what to specialise in, i'm not someone who wants to decide all the choices for my character as soon as possible, as an aside i don't actually know what an aegis is/does, i've seen it referred to a few times and from context it seems to be an ability from a previous edition but i have no idea what it's actual effect is.
 

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