Unearthed Arcana New UA and the Bard and Spells

Spell Versatility and the Bard raises my eyebrows. So now for the cost of a single Known Spell the Bard can bi-daily cast Awaken or Raise Dead...
or any of these spells: (SRD Copy)
Animate Objects
Awaken
Dominate Person
Dream
Geas
Greater Restoration
Hold Monster
Legend Lore
Mass Cure Wounds
Mislead
Modify Memory
Planar Binding
Raise Dead
Scrying
Seeming
Teleportation Circle

The Bard has the arguably the best Utility Spell list, which was balanced by having a max of 22 spells known, so selecting spells was a bit of a Sophie’s Choice conundrum...with UA rules as proposed, does the Bard need more than 18 Spells Known?

A player with a Wizard by RAW could pay up to a max of 4000 gp and 160 hours (20 Long Rests) to have 16 Fifth level spells in their diary.

Swapping Command for Charm Person, not big deal....but Awaken and Raise Dead, (& other 5th + LVL spells) are campaign changing events.

Balance wise, a ‘create a friendly NPC’ spell should probably always cost a Known Spell slot.

Do others agree, or is that giant really a windmill?
 

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Ashrym

Hero
Spell Versatility and the Bard raises my eyebrows. So now for the cost of a single Known Spell the Bard can bi-daily cast Awaken or Raise Dead...
or any of these spells: (SRD Copy)
Animate Objects
Awaken
Dominate Person
Dream
Geas
Greater Restoration
Hold Monster
Legend Lore
Mass Cure Wounds
Mislead
Modify Memory
Planar Binding
Raise Dead
Scrying
Seeming
Teleportation Circle

The Bard has the arguably the best Utility Spell list, which was balanced by having a max of 22 spells known, so selecting spells was a bit of a Sophie’s Choice conundrum...with UA rules as proposed, does the Bard need more than 18 Spells Known?

A player with a Wizard by RAW could pay up to a max of 4000 gp and 160 hours (20 Long Rests) to have 16 Fifth level spells in their diary.

Swapping Command for Charm Person, not big deal....but Awaken and Raise Dead, (& other 5th + LVL spells) are campaign changing events.

Balance wise, a ‘create a friendly NPC’ spell should probably always cost a Known Spell slot.

Do others agree, or is that giant really a windmill?

It's a long post. I apologize in advance.

The bard is actually the class I'm looking at the most closely. If any class can exploit this mechanic it's going to be the bard.

The conundrum is still that bards are never going to have any more 5th-level spells at any given time than they learn from leveling up. In my case that tend to be limited to raise dead and greater restoration already.

We're still back to the wizard having 2 or 4 spells in his book to prep regardless of the cost of adding more. At any given point in time that wizard will have 14 or 15 spells prepped to my bard's 12 or 14 spells known. This is at 9th and 10th levels respectively, and 10th level is actually a sweet spot for bards.

Spells known compared to prepped isn't as much of a challenge for bards but they can get pulled into a few different directions so spreads a bit thin covering healing and control. I focus on healing as you can see in my typical spell selection. Dropping raise dead is unlikely unless I add revivify, which would have cost the same number of spell secret anyway (it's not a bard spell), because waiting a day to raise a party member is a pita. Party members don't normally die during downtime so it's not relevant.

I can already cast raise dead any day of the week on my bards. It can't be more campaign breaking than that. ;)

The problem is you need to actually apply those spells to downtime and determine what the benefits are. Awaken takes 8 hours to cast and costs a 1000gp agate. That's limited by the DM who controls the supply of 1000gp agates, for starters, and doing it 5 times cost more than your hypothetical scribing costs. If it's campaign breaking it's campaign breaking regardless of swapping because a bard can already take it and a druid can already swap it in or out at will. ;)

The ability to swap in or out any spells that might be problematic would need to be spells that don't also exist on the cleric and druid lists. It's not possible to point to a spell as being broken or game changing by being able to swap it in if we already have classes that can already do that demonstrating it's not game breaking.

Compared to the wizard, bards do line up spells known with spells prepped rather well. What happens at 9th level is the wizard learns 2 spells and the bard learns 1 spell, and can trade 1 spell up. That demonstrates the wizard is gaining while the bard is trading. At 10th level the bard doesn't gain any regular spells known and gains secrets instead (the reason for the sweet spot and not truly representative overall). Both can be used for 5th level spells but I usually use 1 for a 5th-level spell and 1 for a 4th-level or lower level spell. I find it's better to add spells that I can apply to more available slots than spells where I have minimal slots. That's one of the drawbacks to known spells. The wizard learns 2 more 5th level spells in his book.

On the surface that's similar. It's 2-4 5th-level spells for the bard and 4 5th-level spells for the wizard. Given that both of these classes are geared towards versatility it's also pretty much expected. The wizard also has tradition features to enhance spells at 10th level that the bard doesn't get. Every tradition feature before that enhances spell casting that the bard doesn't get. The wizard has 5 levels worth of spell slots the bard also does not get via arcane recovery. It can be spent on an extra 5th-level slot or multiple lower level slots but it's more spells per day than the bard can cast. The wizard has a much better ritual casting mechanic than the bard gets.

The best the bard can pull off in 5th-level spells known is the minimum the wizard can pull off in spells added to the spell-book, and the wizard can cast more of them, and better, at a peak level for bards. That peak level is just before the wizard break away where they leave every other arcane spell caster behind because it's the slow down period for spells-known casters. That's about as close as spells-known casters can get. The bard advantage is they get skill bonuses and bardic inspiration instead. That's debatable on whether the extra spell power is less than, equal to, or greater than skills and inspiration but those have no impact on the spell versatility feature.

The only benefit for spell versatility I see in that list is taking a day to add awaken, scrying, or teleportation circle if there's time, and then taking another day to trade back for the combat day. Simply swapping one puts the bard down an important spell.

The important thing to consider here is that players aren't actually playing or adventuring during downtime. The number of spells known doesn't actually change and returning to play even if a person changed the entire spell list only means the wizard and bard would be compared as if the bard had selected that entire other spell list in the first place. It's not actually a significant mechanical advantage during gameplay from what I'm seeing so far. Downtime requires the assumption the wizard doesn't take some downtime spells as well, which wizards do, and they have a solid selection.

When it comes to spells the wizard has the advantage at every turn.

If you want to push the cost of scribing scrolls, then the minimum the wizard can do is going up even though it was already better than the bard's maximum. That's the gravy effect.

It was a long post, but thank you to anyone who read it all. ;)
 


Ashrym

Hero
Yes, it's effectively making the Bard a Cleric for the start of the adventure. One downside would seem to be that if you replace a spell gained through Spell Secret, that spell is gone forever - Spell Versatility mandates that spells come from the Bard list.

By cleric you mean healer with worse armor, no channel divinity abilities, and roughly half the available spells at any given time? ;)
 

My concern here is separate from the Wiz thread I started previously. 1000gp agates while theoretically in the control of the DM, Downtime and Clever Play are in the firm grasp of the Players.

Day 1 cast Planar Binding....summon Xorn.....use CHA to make a deal w/ Xorn to find Agates for me. and eat all other gems...use fact that Bard cannot cast Magic Circle to emphasis the friendly mutual beneficial relationship and that I am different from coercive (Magic Circle using) Casters....ask DM for Advantage on check. This real life request is made with advantage because I brought the DM’s favorite beer and pizza from Mozza. 😜

So on and so forth. The Bard spell list is awesome, so more use of cool spells is great....but will it be too great....

Hopefully not.
 

5ekyu

Hero
My concern here is separate from the Wiz thread I started previously. 1000gp agates while theoretically in the control of the DM, Downtime and Clever Play are in the firm grasp of the Players.

Day 1 cast Planar Binding....summon Xorn.....use CHA to make a deal w/ Xorn to find Agates for me. and eat all other gems...use fact that Bard cannot cast Magic Circle to emphasis the friendly mutual beneficial relationship and that I am different from coercive (Magic Circle using) Casters....ask DM for Advantage on check. This real life request is made with advantage because I brought the DM’s favorite beer and pizza from Mozza.

So on and so forth. The Bard spell list is awesome, so more use of cool spells is great....but will it be too great....

Hopefully not.
Fortunately, this is playtest materials, surveys to come, playtest to see and if these "fears" turn out to be real thenvarious tweaks may be made and features changed or even deletedbefore these become reality as "official options" instead of intentionally overturned playtests.

So, you will have oportunities to share your worries and actual play in-game results with them.
 

Ashrym

Hero
My concern here is separate from the Wiz thread I started previously. 1000gp agates while theoretically in the control of the DM, Downtime and Clever Play are in the firm grasp of the Players.

Day 1 cast Planar Binding....summon Xorn.....use CHA to make a deal w/ Xorn to find Agates for me. and eat all other gems...use fact that Bard cannot cast Magic Circle to emphasis the friendly mutual beneficial relationship and that I am different from coercive (Magic Circle using) Casters....ask DM for Advantage on check. This real life request is made with advantage because I brought the DM’s favorite beer and pizza from Mozza. 😜

So on and so forth. The Bard spell list is awesome, so more use of cool spells is great....but will it be too great....

Hopefully not.

Anyone can bribe the DM. ;)

If I were going to use planar binding I would use magical secrets on magic circle. I can do that now, lol. It takes an hour an a 1000gp gem to cast planar binding. That's the same material cost and less time than awaken, and doesn't require that I have a suitable plant or animal.

Going that route means I don't have to wait a day to do multiple times. It's also the exact same thing clerics, druids, and wizards can do. Druids don't have magic circle by default so they might bribe the DM or get someone else to create the magic circle (that doesn't actually have to be the caster). It's a saving throw ability so CHA or other social skills don't matter, but it's just an attempt to work around monetary costs. If a DM were to let that application work as you intend it invalidates your wizard money arguments because wizards can do this without a limited resource like secrets. ;)

Awaken is functionally less control because it's the charmed condition for 30 days (although that's not particularly challenging for a bard who's planning on making use of it) than planar binding because the creature must obey and the duration increases with slot level. Simply using 7th level or higher level slots gives the same duration or better with a higher degree of control for the same monetary cost, shorter casting time, and less spell investment. It's also easily done by a cleric or wizard ;)

If you are looking for a money is nothing mechanic here the same principle already applies to existing classes with existing mechanics, including wizards. Versatile spellcasting cannot create something that already exists if DM's are allowing that type of money manufacture.

Another thing to consider is how many hirelings, armies, henchmen, siege engines, or underworld contracts any character might procure with such funds. 600 gp gives 10 skilled hirelings for 30 days, for example.

The last thing to consider (off the top of my head) is how is awaken being applied to imbalance the campaign? It's essentially creating friendly NPC's in the forms of plants and animals. ;)
 

5ekyu

Hero
Anyone can bribe the DM. ;)

If I were going to use planar binding I would use magical secrets on magic circle. I can do that now, lol. It takes an hour an a 1000gp gem to cast planar binding. That's the same material cost and less time than awaken, and doesn't require that I have a suitable plant or animal.

Going that route means I don't have to wait a day to do multiple times. It's also the exact same thing clerics, druids, and wizards can do. Druids don't have magic circle by default so they might bribe the DM or get someone else to create the magic circle (that doesn't actually have to be the caster). It's a saving throw ability so CHA or other social skills don't matter, but it's just an attempt to work around monetary costs. If a DM were to let that application work as you intend it invalidates your wizard money arguments because wizards can do this without a limited resource like secrets. ;)

Awaken is functionally less control because it's the charmed condition for 30 days (although that's not particularly challenging for a bard who's planning on making use of it) than planar binding because the creature must obey and the duration increases with slot level. Simply using 7th level or higher level slots gives the same duration or better with a higher degree of control for the same monetary cost, shorter casting time, and less spell investment. It's also easily done by a cleric or wizard ;)

If you are looking for a money is nothing mechanic here the same principle already applies to existing classes with existing mechanics, including wizards. Versatile spellcasting cannot create something that already exists if DM's are allowing that type of money manufacture.

Another thing to consider is how many hirelings, armies, henchmen, siege engines, or underworld contracts any character might procure with such funds. 600 gp gives 10 skilled hirelings for 30 days, for example.

The last thing to consider (off the top of my head) is how is awaken being applied to imbalance the campaign? It's essentially creating friendly NPC's in the forms of plants and animals. ;)
"The last thing to consider (off the top of my head) is how is awaken being applied to imbalance the campaign? It's essentially creating friendly NPC's in the forms of plants and animals. ;)"

Uhhh... 1000gp "at least" can buy a lot of allies without needing to be a nearly tier-3 caster. Awakened tree is like CR 2.

Moreover, have we seen threads here about druids at 9th breaking campaigns with awaken trees or bears? They got that spell, what, 5 years ago.
 

Ashrym

Hero
"The last thing to consider (off the top of my head) is how is awaken being applied to imbalance the campaign? It's essentially creating friendly NPC's in the forms of plants and animals. ;)"

Uhhh... 1000gp "at least" can buy a lot of allies without needing to be a nearly tier-3 caster. Awakened tree is like CR 2.

Moreover, have we seen threads here about druids at 9th breaking campaigns with awaken trees or bears? They got that spell, what, 5 years ago.

I'm not sure if you are agreeing, disagreeing, or we crossed our wires in my intent. I'm saying awaken doesn't break things and bards can already do that anyway (and so can druids) so nothing has changed in this regard because of spell versatility.

I commented on gold for hire because financing an army for the same cost is more than creating a friendly NPC out of a tree or animal.

Are you thinking something else here?
 

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