D&D 5E Selecting the Simplest Sorcerer Solution

There were some thoughts on another sorcerer thread that got me wanting to actually find the simplest solution to the sorcerer problem that could be made. The sorcerer problem here is that they seem to get too little. Take your pick of too few spells known, spells on the sorcerer list, sorcery points, metamagic options available, or metamagic options known. Most of us don't feel that sorcerers need more of all of these, but that they need more of some of these to feel, frankly, as fun as the other classes (to distill the real argument out of the mechanical arguments).

If you do not feel the sorcerer has any issues that need fixed, then this may not be the thread for you, but there is at least one other thread with debate about the premise going on right now.

So, here is my philosophy on how I like to make simple house rules fixes.

1) Fulcrum point tweaks. I like to find the point where I can have the greatest effect with the least amount of change. If I need more than a sentence or two to describe the rule, I have probably failed.
2) Authentic feel. It needs to feel like it's something that could have been in the PHB, rather than something innovative. I'm looking for a patch, not a rewrite.
3) 5e Precedent. I like my rules to be patterned after some sort of mechanic that already exists in the game--preferably as core as possible (not hard in the current low product count). This is closely tied to number 2.
4) Lack of invalidation. I do not like to change or invalidate previous rules elements of the game. Ie, I wouldn't just add an existing spell to the sorcerer spell list, for example, because it tampers with the spell as much as it tweaks the sorcerer.
5) Feels right. Obviously this is highly subjective, but it is a consideration in my house fixes.

Some thoughts I have so far.

I feel like I need to fix more than one thing. But first, let's look at what doesn't need fixed.

WotC will likely print more spells for the sorcerer, so directly adding to their spell list isn't necessary. Likewise, they will likely either create new metamagic options, or intentionally not do so based on well considered assessment that they aren't needed. (Ie, I think they intentionally limited them to a very small number of options that does all they want them to be able to do.) So I don't think either of those are needed.

More spells known seems to me absolutely essential. I just can't get around it.

Now, my most satisfying option for that would likely be domain like lists for each kind of sorcerer. But that is most definitely not the sort of simple solution that I'm talking about here. Maybe WotC will give us that option in next year's mechanics book, but I'm not really all that interested in a non-official version.

The suggestion that seems to fit all my criteria on this one is add Charisma modifier to known spells. This means they might have more spells on their available list per day than 1st level wizards (depending on if they took rituals) or 1st level druids, but that can be considered balanced out by the fact that 1st level wizards and druids will always have a larger selection of spells available to choose from. And, of course, at higher levels all prepared casters (and bards) will also have more spells available on their list per day than sorcerers, so the benefit is an out of the gate thing--that can actually thematically fit how sorcerer's magic is more intuitive than learned.

Any downsides to that, or better solutions?

For the next part, I feel like they need more oomph, and the simplest way to do that is more sorcery points. Here is where I find myself struggling to determine what the right number of points are to give them and how to deliver them by following those criteria above.

The suggestion of adding Constitution modifier to sorcery points is one I really liked. But...I feel like there are fatal flaws to it. While Constitution is a great secondary stat for anyone, most characters are content to get it to about 14 and call it good. If sorcery points benefit from it though, sorcerers will likely feel an urge to get it as high as possible. The downside of this is that it will make sorcerer's ability scores start looking more two dimensional. Instead of taking Charisma and then being relatively free to pick other stats on the basis of personal preference and role-playing, they're going to feel that draw to go Constitution, and have to choose between concept (I want be an Intelligent sorcerer!) or mechanical excellence, which is a tension many of us feel should not exist (it doesn't exist to that great of an extent for most classes).

The alternative of also basing bonus sorcery points on Charisma feels wrong too. Although most casters will want to max a casting stat, with that much riding on Charisma, sorcerers are going to, again, have an unusually strong drive to max a certain stat. It just feels wrong to me. Of course you're probably going to max Cha--so it's silly for the rules to tie more to it than they do for any other class.

Now, when I was staring at their chart, I saw proficiency bonus right there and thought, "Hmm...that's a number that might work." Adding proficiency bonus to sorcery points is enough to matter, but modest enough not to risk throwing balance off. However, it fails criterion 3 (and hence 2). I can't think of any other place (except Beastmaster, sort of, but that doesn't count) where a proficiency bonus is directly added to a class's resources. It is added to attack rolls and save DCs, and doubled for Expertise, but never added to points, or X known, or any such thing. While there is some potential balance issue (dipping two levels of sorcerer could net you extra sorcery points this way), I think the actual effect would be negligible in that regard (not nearly as good as dipping two levels of some other classes!) However, unless someone can think of a precedent I'm forgetting, it still fails the stated criteria.

The other possibilities I've thought of include:
A) Gain half level sorcery points.
B) Gain one third level sorcery points.
C) Gain ability to recover half level sorcery points during a short rest 1/day.
D) Gain sorcery points equal to the highest spell level you can cast. (Ie, spell level itself.)

Option A is probably the simplest. The two issues I have with it is that it is basically a round about way of overwriting the method of sorcery point determination so it is weak on criterion 4. I'm also not sure if it feels right on the number of points. I'm concerned (perhaps needlessly) that 10 points at 20th level is perhaps pushing the envelop of change to the class.

Option B provides a similar number to proficiency bonus, but scales more smoothly with sorcerer level, and can be added at 3rd level along with metamagic (when it could actually be useful with the right metamagic). That makes it not quite as bad as option A on criterion 4, but it's still pushing it. The other problem with it is that it is weak on criterion 3. The only precedent for one third level that immediately occurs to me is how many effective spellcaster levels an eldritch knight or arcane trickster contributes as a multiclass character. If there is any other precedent, please let me know, because it might put this one as a winner.

Option C is similar to Arcane Recovery and Natural Recovery. However, the comparison feels a little off to me. Call it weak on criteria 3 and 5. It's also too messy I think, so I'm failing it on criterion 1.

Option D is interesting. No immediate precedent is occurring to me, but it kind of feels like there is some sort of at least conceptual precedent I'm forgetting. It's a bit messy though, so unless there is some wonderful precedent I am missing, it fails on criterion 1.

So, any other thoughts? Suggestions? Critique of my own thoughts, as well as alternatives that fit those criteria (or even that fit your own criteria for what you consider a simple fix) are greatly appreciated.
 

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77IM

Explorer!!!
Supporter
I like where you are going with this. Here's my suggestions.

1. For spells known, to me, the problem is at higher levels. Adding +Cha to spells known seems like it overpowers the class at 1st level, making it even more attractive for a multiclass splash. Instead, I'd just give the sorc 1 new spell at every single level, instead of going to every-other-level after 10th. I could see an argument for giving them +1 spell at 1st level, too, so that their spell chart goes from 3 spells at 1st to 22 spells at 20th. That's still the fewest spells known/prepped of any full-caster, but at least it's in the same ballpark.

2. For sorcery points, I favor a varaint of option C. I don't think it fails criteria 3 at all; quite the opposite. And I don't think you need to fail it on criteria 1, either, since it's much easier to explain than Arcane Recovery or Natural Recovery. Here's my proposal: "You regain all spent sorcery points when you finish a long rest, and half your spent sorcery points when you finish a short rest." Note that it's half your spent points, so you recover more if you've spent more -- encouraging players to use 'em or lose 'em. A character who burns through all their points all the time and gets multiple short rests in may come out ahead of a wizard or druid's recovery in terms of spell slots regained, but this seems like an edge case. I really like the flavor of this proposal: the sorcerer is resting, so they get back some spent points, makes sense to me.

However, I'm still not convinced that the number of sorcery points is the problem. To me, the worse problem is the selection of metamagic; some of the metamagics are way better than others. For starters, the weaker options -- Distant, Extended, Subtle -- should just be given to all sorcerers, for free. I'm not sure what else could be done here. I'd almost be OK with giving all sorcerers all the listed metamagics for free, and let them use their metamagic picks to learn more exotic tricks (like energy substitution, delayed-trigger spells, spontaneous casting of spells they don't know, etc. -- I might make Twinned one of the exotic metamagics, too). That's a much heavier-weight change; more of an Unearthed Arcana class rewrite, than something you can punch in as a house rule.

A single new metamagic may address both problems:
Spontaneous Casting. You may expend a spell slot to cast any spell from the sorcerer list of the slot's spell level or lower, even if it's not one of your spells known. This costs 1 sorcery point per level of the spell slot you are expending.

That would allow people who are dissatisfied with the sorcerer's limited number of known spells to burn sorcery points to whip out some really flexible spellcasting, without impacting the balance of the game much at all.
 

Xeviat

Community Supporter
Supporter
Sorcerer bloodline domain spells would be the best and easier thing I think. Rangers and sorcerers should have domain spells. Heck, I'd give them to Warlocks too, except I haven't seen them in play.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 

Redthistle

Explorer
Supporter
@Sword of Spirit. This is an excellent explanation of aspects of the sorcerer class that concern you. I am especially impressed that you did not include any solutions that presume to fix any problem, instead leaving the discussion far more open than otherwise. (Would that I demonstrated such respectful restraint in putting forth some of my opinions!)

1. As to your desire for more spells known, I agree with you, and find cbwjm's proposal to give the sorcerous origins 5 spells each to satisfy that issue for me. At least, as long as those origin spells do not count against the Spells Known limit, and are considered to always be prepared.

At the same time, I don't like having too many choices to make (the buyer's dilemma), which is why I prefer playing a sorcerer to a wizard. Selecting which wizard spells to memorize at the end of a long rest feeds my paranoid certainty that whatever spells I choose, it won't be the ones I need during a crisis. Playing a sorcerer doesn't raise my blood pressure that way.

2. For my own part, I have not found sorcery points to be a limiting factor (except in my always wanting more power, which is generally more an avaricious vice than in the interest of fair play, and so, in need of constraint), but rather a liberating one. Before even gaining 5th-level spells, my sorcerer already has enough points to cast a 5th-level spell one more time per day than other classes can. Beginning at 14th level, there's the potential to cast two more 5th-level spells than most other classes can each day. That's without even having to burn other spell slots to buy extra sorcery points.

@cbwjm. I like this notion. It adds only 5 additional spells of the lowest levels to the sorcerer's repertoire, keeping it relatively limited, but not unbearably so.
 
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cooperjer

Explorer
I'm running into a similar problem with the sorcerer in my game. The player is a 3.5 sorcerer player who feels like the sorcerer was set as a second class caster compared to the wizard. Regardless of some arguments to the contrary the player feels this to be true. What I've tested so far for about 10 levels:
1. The sorcerer has a bonus to sorcery points equal to the proficiency bonus.
2. The sorcerer regains sorcery points on a short rest once per day.
3. The cost to purchase a spell slot is level + 1.

The results of the test were: 1. The player felt like they had enough sorcery point to have fun, but not so many that she felt she could have her character shoot Chromatic Orb all day long. 2. The player didn't look at the other players that wanted a short rest and say something to the effect of, "Why take a short rest? I don't get anything." Additional data to consider: the team only took one short rest per day normally, the player never felt sorcery points should be used to buy spell slots but should be used on meta-magic.

The player took a break from the sorcerer for a short time in a side story and now we're starting another story up with the sorcerer. A review of the tested house rules left the player wanting more spell slots to allow the use of meta-magic more often. We reviewed the 3.5 spells available list and I concluded the sorcerer class has about 1.5X more spells than the wizard class. Therefore, I added a house rule that states: The sorcerer has 1.5 X the number of slots available as listed in the sorcerer table on pg 100 of the PH. I removed the house rule that adds proficiency bonus sorcery points to the pool. I kept the recovery of sorcery points on a short rest once per day, and I kept the cost to buy spell slots as level + 1. The results of these changes are yet to be identified. The player has played the character in only one encounter.
 

jbOKgamer

Villager
One thing I did to up the number of Sorcery Points in my game was to have Sorcerous Restoration start earlier with 1 point per short rest at level 11, then 2 points at level 13, 3 points at level 15, and 4 points at level 20.
 

Wepwawet

Explorer
I played a sorcerer only once, a Chaos sorcerer. My biggest problem is the whole Chaos powers that they are so ill defined that it's up to the DM, and he didn't like using it because he didn't like the randomness. That was my only problem with the Sorcerer.

Apart from that I found it pretty effective, with the extra Cantrips and the Metamagic options. The limited spell list is part of the fun (no, really).

But I do agree that they need a bit more, not much though.

I also agree that they should have a few auto-prepared "domain spells". Plus, they should be able to recover some sorcery points in a short rest (similar to Druids of the Land and Wizards). And one more Metamagic choice... maybe (I don't think it's that necessary though)
 

jaelis

Oh this is where the title goes?
Sorcerer bloodline domain spells would be the best and easier thing I think. Rangers and sorcerers should have domain spells. Heck, I'd give them to Warlocks too, except I haven't seen them in play.

I agree this seems like the simplest and best thing.
 

Bitbrain

Glory to Ka!
I'm playing a sorcerer (level 7), and if there's one thing I really want, it isn't more spells . . . It's more Sorcery Points.
Preferrably an extra amount equal to my Constitution modifier.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I'm currently DMing a pair of players who both are playing sorcerers, but who admittedly are not delving all that deeply into the mechanics, or trying to get the most out of the class and its system. But the few things they have done makes me wonder in some of these cases what the issue is, since it seems to my pretty uneducated eye that it should solve a problem (but apparently isn't?) Obviously I'm just not seeing the issue because my players haven't highlighted it for me, so I'm really interested in the problem.

It's mainly the "not enough sorcery points" problem that I'm curious about. With the Converting A Spell Slot to Sorcery Points bonus action rule in place, lack of sorcery points has never appeared to me to be much of a problem? I've yet to have any games where any of my spellcasters have actually run through their entire suite of spell slots between any long rest... wherein the sorcerer felt they couldn't covert a slot to sorcery points if they needed it. This obviously could just be my own particular DMing style (which results in PCs with spell slots left over when they take a long rest), and other DMs who push their players through more encounters per day might find those players' spell slots at a premium where they couldn't "spend" one for more points. Is that the issue for many of you? That the sorcerer players are casting their full suite of spell slots and thus feel like they can't convert? If that's the real problem, then I can certainly understand why sorcery points might be lacking (since you are not only casting more spells, you have even less points to modify those extra spells you are casting.)

Personally, my own little bugaboo in terms of the sorcerer (were I to play one at some point) would be the low number of metamagics available to me. Only having two metamagic options out of the list of eight (until 10th level) just feels like it's lacking to me, and where I'd probably find the most frustration. My players haven't found it to be a problem yet (because both of them are so inexperienced they barely remember to even use their metamagics in the first place unless I remind them), but I know I certainly would were I to play one. There would be times where I'd find that having say Extend Spell or Subtle Spell would be incredibly useful in a very specific situation, but which would ordinarily not come up so often where I'd want to use one of my precious two metamagics slots to have it all the time. So I'd almost wish there was an ability that would allow me to either swap metamagics in and out (using actions or rests), or pay extra sorcery points to use the other six that aren't the ones I "know". Like, I have two primary metamagics as usual whose costs are normal, but then I can use any of the other metamagics as needed, but whose cost is 1 (or 2) points higher than normal since they aren't my primary ones. That way if I find myself in a situation where Careful Spell would be very useful, I'd be able to get my hands on it for that one fireball I cast at ground zero for example.

I should also add that for my two Curse of Strahd campaigns I'm running right now, I created/edited a whole bunch of new feats for the game... one of which is Metamagic Initiate-- basically the metamagic version of Martial Adept. It gives a player 2 sorcery points and one metamagic option that any spellcaster can select and use for their spells, and which a sorcerer can add to their total SP and metamagic count. Basically just like a Battlemaster Fighter can add the superiority die and two maneuvers from Martial Adept to their count were they to take it. I haven't had anyone take the feat yet, but I'm curious how it plays (and whether the two extra SP and that third metamagic option helps the sorcerers feel like they have more oomph.)
 
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Corwin

Explorer
Metamagic Initiate-- basically the metamagic version of Martial Adept. It gives a player 2 sorcery points and one metamagic option that any spellcaster can select and use for their spells, and which a sorcerer can add to their total SP and metamagic count. Basically just like a Battlemaster Fighter can add the superiority die and two maneuvers from Martial Adept to their count were they to take it. I haven't had anyone take the feat yet, but I'm curious how it plays (and whether the two extra SP and that third metamagic option helps the sorcerers feel like they have more oomph.)
I think I like it. Given that you have two sorcerers, I'd highly recommend you encourage one of them to use it, and have the other take something else, so you can see the contrast in action. You have a great opportunity to playtest your idea given your situation.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
I think I like it. Given that you have two sorcerers, I'd highly recommend you encourage one of them to use it, and have the other take something else, so you can see the contrast in action. You have a great opportunity to playtest your idea given your situation.

Heh... you'd think that, wouldn't you? ;) Unfortunately, like I said... they barely use the metamagic and sorcery points they do have, let alone playtest the extra ones they could take with the feat. LOL.
 

Fritzo

First Post
It's mainly the "not enough sorcery points" problem that I'm curious about. With the Converting A Spell Slot to Sorcery Points bonus action rule in place, lack of sorcery points has never appeared to me to be much of a problem?
Sorcery points are also often used for a sorcerers abilities. I believe the only exception to this is the storm sorcerer? Consider at 6th level a sorcerer would only get to quicken a spell 3 times per day before they have to start breaking into their spell slots to start using their class abilities.

I should also add that for my two Curse of Strahd campaigns I'm running right now, I created/edited a whole bunch of new feats for the game... one of which is Metamagic Initiate-- basically the metamagic version of Martial Adept. It gives a player 2 sorcery points and one metamagic option that any spellcaster can select and use for their spells, and which a sorcerer can add to their total SP and metamagic count. Basically just like a Battlemaster Fighter can add the superiority die and two maneuvers from Martial Adept to their count were they to take it. I haven't had anyone take the feat yet, but I'm curious how it plays (and whether the two extra SP and that third metamagic option helps the sorcerers feel like they have more oomph.)

I can't see many players wanting to choose it. You have to remember that sorcery points refresh on a long rest. it's not worth a feat to cast quickened spell once per long rest. Maybe try bumping the sorcery points up to five.
 

Corwin

Explorer
Consider at 6th level a sorcerer would only get to quicken a spell 3 times per day before they have to start breaking into their spell slots to start using their class abilities.
I can't help but get the impression you mean, "have to," like its not intended to work that way.

I can't see many players wanting to choose it. You have to remember that sorcery points refresh on a long rest. it's not worth a feat to cast quickened spell once per long rest.
And here I can't help but get the impression you think quickening a spell isn't really that cool. Or impactful. Having seen it in practice at the table over the few years we've been playing 5e, I can say with certainty it is capable of being a game changer. A tide turner.

Maybe try bumping the sorcery points up to five.
Where your initial instinct is to see 2 as too few, I'd guess 5 to be probably a bit much. But who knows what the magic number might be? That's what playtesting it is for. Maybe it ends up being 3 or 4?
 

Fritzo

First Post
I can't help but get the impression you mean, "have to," like its not intended to work that way.
Well to be honest mate I don't know what they intended and neither do you. The op laid out he thought sorcery points were lacking a little. Defcon also was curious why people felt that way and I was just trying to provide some insight. Considering by the sounds of it his two sorcerers sound like they're not playing to the classes abilities, it would be understandable that he is less likely to see a problem with the resource.

And here I can't help but get the impression you think quickening a spell isn't really that cool. Or impactful. Having seen it in practice at the table over the few years we've been playing 5e, I can say with certainty it is capable of being a game changer. A tide turner.
Oh no you misunderstand me, I do think its cool. But considering the designers have in their mind that a typical adventuring day takes 6 to 8 encounters. I think the idea of using your coolest ability 3 times over that many encounters is lacking. Especially when using that ability is competing with one other metamagic at that level, and a class ability.

To put things in perspective a Monk would have 6 ki points(short rest recharge) and stunning strike costs 1 ki point. Or Paladins get their always on aura of protection.

Where your initial instinct is to see 2 as too few, I'd guess 5 to be probably a bit much. But who knows what the magic number might be? That's what playtesting it is for. Maybe it ends up being 3 or 4?
I agree he should playtest it. I was just suggesting a way to make it more attractive to his players. I think 4 would be a great number, better than 5 even.
 

Wepwawet

Explorer
5 sorcery points with a feat, when a Sorcerer needs to be 5th level to have that? Definitely no.

First, increase the sorcery points for the class, if they actually need it.

To be honest I didn't really feel like I had too few when I played one, and the times I used them they had a huge impact on the game.
It would be great to have a few more though, but like, 1 or 2 more than they normally get.

Edit: I think the original suggested version is a great feat, 2 points + 1 metamagic is potent for anyone, even sorcerers. Anything more than that would be overpowered
 
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zaratan

First Post
I would like that the cost to convert spellslots in sorcerer point was the same of SP in spell slots. But ok, I can understand. Auto get the distant, extended and subtle spell would be a nice adding. No one choose those because they are very situations, this could add some options with the same limited resources.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I should also add that for my two Curse of Strahd campaigns I'm running right now, I created/edited a whole bunch of new feats for the game... one of which is Metamagic Initiate-- basically the metamagic version of Martial Adept. It gives a player 2 sorcery points and one metamagic option that any spellcaster can select and use for their spells, and which a sorcerer can add to their total SP and metamagic count. Basically just like a Battlemaster Fighter can add the superiority die and two maneuvers from Martial Adept to their count were they to take it. I haven't had anyone take the feat yet, but I'm curious how it plays (and whether the two extra SP and that third metamagic option helps the sorcerers feel like they have more oomph.)
Though I like the basic idea, I am definitely worried that this is effectively a "feat tax" for the sorcerer. The fighter has ASIs/feats to spare, but a sorcerer does not have the same abundance.
 

Corwin

Explorer
Oh no you misunderstand me, I do think its cool. But considering the designers have in their mind that a typical adventuring day takes 6 to 8 encounters. I think the idea of using your coolest ability 3 times over that many encounters is lacking.
And yet a similarly leveled fighter typically only has Action Surge three times a day as well, given the same encounter recommendations you just cited.
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Though I like the basic idea, I am definitely worried that this is effectively a "feat tax" for the sorcerer. The fighter has ASIs/feats to spare, but a sorcerer does not have the same abundance.

Well, if we're talking universally for the game as a whole, sure you could make that supposition. If Wizards has determined they miscalculated on the number of metamagics and sorcery points they should have given the Sorcerer, so they create a feat to solve the problem as it's the easiest/fastest way to do so (and can be ignored by any DM who doesn't feel there actually is a problem. The Weapon Expertise situation all over again.)

But for my personal game it's not a tax, because none of my sorcerer players have felt constrained by rules as they've stood thus far... so this feat merely gives them more of what they're already happy with, plus it gives all the other spellcasting classes the opportunity to get metamagic for their own spells. Thus far no one has taken it, so I have no idea whether it's a "good" or "worthwhile" feat or not... but a lot of times it's just the knowledge that it *is* available that makes players happy.
 

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