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5E On whether sorcerers and wizards should be merged or not, (they shouldn't)

I could just as easily say that sorcerers reflect an inherent position of privilege because they're literally born into power and hence obviously constitute an arcane aristocracy,
Wouldn't even be that revolutionary(npi) an idea.

As part of the official game? I tried to restrict it to official game material but if you go outside that, people have been unhappy with the magic system since it was introduced and have howebrewed a variety of systems to replace it.
I can't recall if anything resembling a mana system snuck into Tome of Magic or some Player's option thing in 2e, but no, nothing official, just very common variants...

… and well-regarded, by some at least, as alternatives to Vancian... though also regarded as crazy-broken compared to the heavy restrictions inherent in Vancian, by others...

… now, of course, 5e has removed so many of those restrictions that it can casually present a similar spell-point variant in the DMG without much comment at all.
 

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I have been tempted to scrap the PHB sorcerer, and build out the playtest sorcerer, continuing what they were doing way back in August 2012. They seemed to have been going for a melee sorcerer with the dragon heritage. It gave d8 HD, proficiency with all armor and shield, allowing you to cast spells while wearing armor, and proficiency with martial melee weapons. Spending Willpower gave cosmetic (and mechanical) changes that lasted until you complete a long rest.
The Willpower system was a little more granular than it needed to be. If I were going to build a class with this transformation theme, I'd just give it warlock spell slots: spend one slot, get transformation A, spend a second slot, get transformation B, and so on.
 


I'm pretty sure at least one DMG has had some kind of spell point variant.
5E does. Or do you mean further back? 4E definitely didn't (what would that even mean in an AEDU world?), and I don't think 3E did. I'm not as familiar with the 1E and 2E DMGs, though, and they were full of surprises, so maybe there.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
My largest issue with the sorcerer class is that everything about it is riven from the Magic User. Splitting ‘bloodline magic’ from ‘School Magic’ has narrowed the theme of each class, to each classes detriment.

In my opinion, a class should have a broad theme, with subclass narrowing the theme down.

Sorcerers do the opposite, and by their existence turn Wizards into the bookish perpetual college student..( how magical).
The bloodline is superfluous, important but not fundamental. Wizards, they always were the bookish perpetual college student. In thirty or so years of D&D Wizards never became anything else. (For real, show me one character, one character from 2e or before that was illiterate and dumb yet had magic that was a part of the self and not taken from a book)


I'm not sure your account is accurate. Development during the Beyond era did focus on the "Core Four", and they did adopt a "we'll get to them eventually" attitude towards the other classes (which seems to have been to the detriment of the ranger in particular). But if I'm recalling correctly, a version of the sorcerer was one of the first if not the first playtest class we saw outside the Four, long before we saw a paladin or druid or monk, and it had very distinctive mechanics and identity. Negative feedback on that version resulted in them dialing the class back to the more 3E-ish look in the final product.
Yes, we had an early sorcerer, which had good feedback, just an undercurrent worry that the particular subclass was too big a departure. They didn't stop development on it for bad feedback, they stopped because wizard players started demanding all of the toys -the neovancian spellcasting that clerics had just received-, and the designers responded by withholding further development "until wizard was right". Then they changed the name to mage and later announced the purpose of killing sorcerer and just have it be a subclass under mage. That didn't go well at all, because that one was 90% wizard at the base and the feedback showed it. Only then they agreed to have a sorcerer class, but it was already to late to have it in the open playtest, and it was only tested internally with no feedback from the community. And it wasn't properly tested either, as the final result was beta at most.

At any rate, even if my memory is totally wrong, the final proof is in the pudding: the sorcerer exists. If Mearls and Co. didn't want it, it wouldn't be there.
They had to have it in some way or shape, it would have been bad PR not to. For better or worse it qualified for the "gnome effect". They still delivered a bad product, we just didn't noticed because we were playing it wrong for about a year and a half -then errata happened and dragon sorcerer was nerfed-.
 

Doug McCrae

Legend
This passage from Demons in the Middle Ages (2017) by Juanita Feros Ruys about the differences between common magic and learned necromancy seems remarkably similar to the contrast being drawn between sorcerers and wizards. "Necromancy" at this time meant summoning demons rather than spirits of the dead.

When we look at the sorts of spells that learned practitioners were seeking to implement we can see where their desires lay. Whereas for the non-literate population key issues were health, fertility, and survival, for those practising necromancy the priorities appear different. The books of learned magic show that a necromancer was likely to hire out his skills, using the demons’ knowledge of secret things to locate lost and stolen property and identify thieves. Other spells are clearly self-interested, aiming to secure the love of a particular woman, find treasure, develop power and authority, or gain civic honours. Intriguingly, however, love and money do not appear to be nearly as common objectives for necromancers as occult knowledge.​
 

oreofox

Explorer
The Willpower system was a little more granular than it needed to be. If I were going to build a class with this transformation theme, I'd just give it warlock spell slots: spend one slot, get transformation A, spend a second slot, get transformation B, and so on.

The willpower system was an early form of sorcery points. Spend 1 willpower, gain "dragon strength", letting you deal an extra 2d6 damage on your next melee attack. Do that 3 times in a day, your hands become claws and you deal +2 damage on melee attacks. It's the same as sorcery points. Only difference is, sorcery points are only used to use Metamagic or make new spell slots, and might have some use for a subclass ability. I could see giving it warlock spell slots, but being able to change them into willpower/sorcery points. But as it is, in the PHB subclasses, sorcery points are used for metamagic and being turned into spell slots, with having extremely limited use outside of those 2 things. It's worse than monks and their ki points.

Of course, not sure what the powers and such would have been like for wild magic, or shadow, or favored soul (aka divine soul), etc. WotC just focused on dragon, like always.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I don't understand the focus on sorcerers needing to have vastly different underlying mechanics than a wizard. Why is this a good thing, why is it even necessary?
 

Yes, we had an early sorcerer, which had good feedback, just an undercurrent worry that the particular subclass was too big a departure. They didn't stop development on it for bad feedback, they stopped because wizard players started demanding all of the toys -the neovancian spellcasting that clerics had just received-, and the designers responded by withholding further development "until wizard was right". Then they changed the name to mage and later announced the purpose of killing sorcerer and just have it be a subclass under mage. That didn't go well at all, because that one was 90% wizard at the base and the feedback showed it. Only then they agreed to have a sorcerer class, but it was already to late to have it in the open playtest, and it was only tested internally with no feedback from the community. And it wasn't properly tested either, as the final result was beta at most.

They had to have it in some way or shape, it would have been bad PR not to. For better or worse it qualified for the "gnome effect". They still delivered a bad product, we just didn't noticed because we were playing it wrong for about a year and a half -then errata happened and dragon sorcerer was nerfed-.
Well, that is certainly a... motivated perspective on events. But it doesn't make sense for WotC to have killed the playtest dragon sorcerer if it got broadly good feedback. And I don't see how "wizard players" come into the picture at all -- that sorcerer didn't have Vancian casting, neo- or otherwise, and none of its "toys" showed up in the final wizard class any more than in the final sorcerer. This is the back-and-forth as I reconstruct it:

WotC: We've been thinking about sorcerers a lot and we've got a bold new idea for it. Check it out. Is this direction you want to see the class go?
Community: Not really, no.
WotC: Okay, noted. Too far out? Let's go in the other direction and merge all the arcanists into this mage. Is this the direction you want to see the class go?
Community: Definitely not.
WotC: Okay, too far in the other direction. So we're going to go down the middle now and write a sorcerer mostly like it was in 3E.

Nobody with an axe to grind against the sorcerer, no mean old wizard players ruining everything, just some game designers exploring the two poles of the lumper-splitter axis in a limited amount of time.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
I don't understand the focus on sorcerers needing to have vastly different underlying mechanics than a wizard. Why is this a good thing, why is it even necessary?
if the sorcerer is not different from the wizard, why is it justified existing. Barbarian fighter rogue pally & ranger are all very different with very different abilities of their own. Wizard and sorcerer are mostly their spell lists but those lists are almost entirely overlapping but the sorcerer has a more useful prime stat and almost all of the wizard's skill options plus a few social options, all of the wizard proficiencies plus many more, etc.

Yes it is necessary for sorcerer to find its own place & that place needs to be something other than "social but almost everything meaningful or class defining a wizard can do plus some extra stuff"
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
if the sorcerer is not different from the wizard, why is it justified existing. Barbarian fighter rogue pally & ranger are all very different with very different abilities of their own. Wizard and sorcerer are mostly their spell lists but those lists are almost entirely overlapping but the sorcerer has a more useful prime stat and almost all of the wizard's skill options plus a few social options, all of the wizard proficiencies plus many more, etc.

Yes it is necessary for sorcerer to find its own place & that place needs to be something other than "social but almost everything meaningful or class defining a wizard can do plus some extra stuff"

Thematically the sorcerer is very different than the wizard - just not very different mechanically. Thematic distinctions are more important than mechanical ones IMO.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
Thematically the sorcerer is very different than the wizard - just not very different mechanically. Thematic distinctions are more important than mechanical ones IMO.
The mechanics need to back up those thematic differences if sorcerer deserves to exist as a mechanically discrete class rather than maybe an archtype under wizard like child of khyber "crappy wizard" who uses a genetic (or whatever) ability to fake it as described here.
 
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Off-topic, but I wonder what that'd look like. ;)
I can imagine something similar to the way "World of Darkness" creatures gather power. While arcane classes get their spells by studying from a book, focusing on their magical heritage or making deals with a patron, divine casters would be able to fuel their spells by doing things that pleases their God.
 

MoonSong

Rules-lawyering drama queen but not a munchkin
I don't understand the focus on sorcerers needing to have vastly different underlying mechanics than a wizard. Why is this a good thing, why is it even necessary?
Well, it is a mid point. You want mechanics that reinforce the theme and to avoid mechanics that get in the way. Wizard up to 4th edition was basically all mechanics in the way.

WotC: We've been thinking about sorcerers a lot and we've got a bold new idea for it. Check it out. Is this direction you want to see the class go?
Community: Not really, no.
WotC: Okay, noted. Too far out? Let's go in the other direction and merge all the arcanists into this mage. Is this the direction you want to see the class go?
Community: Definitely not.
WotC: Okay, too far in the other direction. So we're going to go down the middle now and write a sorcerer mostly like it was in 3E.


More like
WotC: We've been thinking about sorcerers a lot and we've got a bold new idea for it. Check it out. Is this direction you want to see the class go?
Community: Cool, like it, but something is odd with it.
Wizard players: Wait, spellpoints? we want spellpoints too!
WotC: Okay, noted. Let's make spellcasting modular. Here, have the cleric system for now.
Wizard players: Cool! Wait, with this we don't need sorcerers anymore!!
WotC: Let's go in that direction
Wizard players: We love it!
WotC: And merge psions and everything else into this mage too! Is this the direction you want to see the class go?
Community: Definitely not.
Sorcerer players: Wait, the playtest is almost over, what happened to the sorcerer?
WotC: ... here, take this halfbaked unbalanced thing. Now shut up.
 

tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
I can imagine something similar to the way "World of Darkness" creatures gather power. While arcane classes get their spells by studying from a book, focusing on their magical heritage or making deals with a patron, divine casters would be able to fuel their spells by doing things that pleases their God.
There are so many systems & works of fiction that manage to do things along those lines & more that it boggles the mind how so many people could honestly express confusion over how it could be done or what it would look like.

@MoonSong your using a really wide brush for that "wizard players" grouping . As a GM I despise how badly sorcerer copies from wizard & tops it off with extra toys, it makes for a very difficult balancing act if I have a sorcerer pretending he's a wizard at the same table as an actual wizard.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Well, it is a mid point. You want mechanics that reinforce the theme and to avoid mechanics that get in the way. Wizard up to 4th edition was basically all mechanics in the way.

Right. Even the 5e wizard has mechanics get in the way of producing a sorcerer theme.

So maybe start here, what sorcerer mechanic get's in the way of the sorcerer theme?
 




tetrasodium

Hero
Supporter
What does the sorcerer have that is remotely wizard themed?
you having trouble keeping up? I went over the proficiencyskill overlap here... but here it is again.
Wizard:
Armor: None
Weapons: Daggers, darts, slings, quarterstaffs,
light crossbows
Tools: None
Skills: Choose two from Arcana, History, Insight, Investigation, Medicine, and Religion

Sorcerer
Armor: Light armor
Weapons: Simple weapons (ie light crossbows plus club, dagger, greatclub, handaxe, javelin, light hammer, mace, quarterstaff, sickle, spear, unarmed strike, dart, shortbow, & sling)
Tools: None

and here is the spell list overlap
  • Cantrip 100% overlap: every single cantrip in the phb on wizard is also on sorcerer list
  • 1st level spells: every spell overlaps except wizard has alarm, grease, Identify, Illusory Script, Longstrider, PfG&E,
  • 2nd level spells: Most spell overlaps except wizard also has access to these while sorc does not... Arcane Lock, Continual Flame, Flaming Sphere, Gentle Repose, Locate Object, Magic Mouth, Magic Weapon, Melfs acid arrow, Nystul's Magic Aura, Ray of enfeeblement, Rope Trick,
  • 2nd level sorcerer has these spells wizard does not: Enhance ability.
  • 3rd Level: Wizard has these spells not on sorcerer list... Animate dead, Bestow Curse, Feign Death, Glyph of Warding, Tiny Hut, Magic Circle, Nondetection, Remove Curse, Sending, Vampyric Touch
  • 3rd Level: Sorcerer has daylight , while wizard does not
  • 4th Level: Wizards also have Arcane Eye, Conjure Minor Elementals, Control Water, Black Tentacles, secret chest, Locate Creature, Faithful Hound, Private Sanctum, Resilient Sphere, Phantasmal Killer,
  • 4th Level: Sorcerer has dominate beast
  • 5th: Wizard has Bigsby's Hand, Conjure Elemental, Contact Other Plane, Dream, Gaes, Legend Lore, Mislead, Modify Memory, Passwall, Planar Binding, Telepathic Bond, Scrying, Wall of Force
  • 5th: Sorcerer has insect plague
So on & so forth but 6th level spells on on is well into the point where campaigns have ended or are ending & wotc's own numbers from ddb support that. No doubt there are a handful of useful spells in wizard list but not sorc list... problem being is that almost every single one of the "right spells" as people have been labeling them are on both lists & the spells unique to wizard or ritual spells are not enough to build any kind of meaningful theme or niche around.... If paladin, ranger, EK, & AT had this kind of overlap in so much of their class features people would wonder why they were different classes.
 

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