5E Sorcerer class improvement house rule

Dausuul

Legend
I realize you suggested this as a matter of expediency, but it just makes me shudder - nails on a chalkboard, etc. Things that are supposed to be different things should be ... different. It's like adding food coloring to vanilla ice cream and claiming you've created a new flavor. And I freely admit this is a highly subjective reaction.
Personally, I feel the same way - I would go the "new spells" route. But I know that a lot of folks are much less picky about aligning mechanics with concept, and for them a simple reskin is the obvious fix.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Personally, I feel the same way - I would go the "new spells" route. But I know that a lot of folks are much less picky about aligning mechanics with concept, and for them a simple reskin is the obvious fix.
There is also the route of a Homebrew metamagic that costs sorcery points rather than just full re-skinning.

Here is a one version where you select a damage type when you take the Metamagic and then spend 1 point each time you use it, so it's limited and not just a full reskinning of everything.
Energy Substitution

When you take this option, choose an option: acid, cold, fire, or lightning. By spending 1 sorcery point, you can alter the damage type of a spell that deals one of these damage types to deal the type of damage you choose instead. For example, if you choose lightning damage when you selected this metamagic option, and you cast fireball, you could spend 1 sorcery point to have the spell deal lightning damage instead of fire damage. You can select this option more than once, choosing a different type of energy to substitute each time you select this option.
 
Sorcery points on short rest recharge.
This is kind of a nuclear option, but it will definitely get rid of all complaints. The Sorcerer would still be VERY narrow in spell selection, but the added flexibility with more metamagic uses per day would certainly make up for it. Actually, it would increase the difference between Sorcerer and Wizard, rather than decrease it (as more known spells would), so it's definitely a good idea.

Obviously, WotC would never do it, because they are not going to publish a revised Sorcerer, unless they publish a whole 5.5 edition, in which you can be sure they would boost the Wizard more than the Sorcerer like they did in 3.5.

I don't like myself using House Rules that change the core classes, but introducing a homebrew feat which grants this boost to a Sorcerer would be a good compromise, so that a player can still choose between the core Sorcerer and the boosted version, at a fairly cheap price.
 

Stalker0

Adventurer
I think the one free use of each meta magic is solid. The one free per turn use is too much.

A few extra spells make sense...from the sorc list. I don’t think giving them just any spell is keeping with the theme.
 

snickersnax

Explorer
I think one free use of each metamagic is unnecessarily cumbersome to bookkeep.

Adding charisma bonus to sorcery points would have a similar effect without as much bookkeeping.

Another fix that I use for the sorcerer to help the class feel like it actually has "raw magic" is give every sorcerer automatic access to heightened spell.

I've rewritten heightened spell:

When you cast a spell you can spend up to 3 sorcery points to cast the spell at higher level. You cast the spell at +1 spell level per sorcery point spent.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
I think one free use of each metamagic is unnecessarily cumbersome to bookkeep.

Adding charisma bonus to sorcery points would have a similar effect without as much bookkeeping.

Another fix that I use for the sorcerer to help the class feel like it actually has "raw magic" is give every sorcerer automatic access to heightened spell.

I've rewritten heightened spell:

When you cast a spell you can spend up to 3 sorcery points to cast the spell at higher level. You cast the spell at +1 spell level per sorcery point spent.
I reall like the Cha mod to Sorcery points, more simple mechanic.

As for Heighten spell... interesting. So it's giving you free higher spell slots at a slightly cheaper "burn" than just converting points to spell slots.

In some ways that basically overlaps that half of the Font of Magic mechanic, though not entirely Also, do you cap it to 5th level slots like Font of Magic is capped at creating slots? or do you let people upcast 6th/7th/8th level spells with that as well?

I like the idea of more metamagic options. I do 2/2/2 for each time they'd gain them, though games rarely even get to the 10th level metamagic gain, so i'm not sure I'm doing too much for most players.
 

snickersnax

Explorer
I reall like the Cha mod to Sorcery points, more simple mechanic.

As for Heighten spell... interesting. So it's giving you free higher spell slots at a slightly cheaper "burn" than just converting points to spell slots.

In some ways that basically overlaps that half of the Font of Magic mechanic, though not entirely Also, do you cap it to 5th level slots like Font of Magic is capped at creating slots? or do you let people upcast 6th/7th/8th level spells with that as well?
I let them up-cast spells of all levels using this modified heightened magic, meaning they can cast spells beyond their normal range of spell slots. So a third level sorcerer could up-cast a second level spell to 5th level with three spell points, and a 17th level sorcerer could up-cast a 9th level spell to 12th level.... RAW POWER :) Because 9th level spells don't really have any up-cast options this probably has no effect except for the purposes of dispel magic and counterspell....
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
Wouldn't it be cleaner to do the reverse? Use sorcery points exclusively for metamagic, and then just straight up give them more spell slots like they had in 3E. Then you don't have to add a third resource system to the class.

EDIT: Hell, just give them a lot of extra spell slots and have them spend slots to activate metamagic too. Get the resource system count down to one.
That works just fine, but I wanted to preserve the element of a sorcerer having more effective spell slots per day than a wizard, and did that by mostly separating Metamagic from Sorcery Points, so that (if you wanted to) you could decide to never spend Sorcery Points on Metamagic and still benefit from both features.

As a patch to the sorc, these options seem fine though I am a bit off on the division of sorc points then giving out free meta uses etc. This all seems like the dividing of those mechanics complicates the issues.

...

My patch to sorc would be simpler - give each origin say two to three schools of magic that are affiliated with them. The sorcerer chooses one. Spells from the wizard spell list of thst school are added to the sorcerer list of available (not known. ).

At every odd level the sorc can pick a bonus known spell of thst school.

So, by 5th level, you have added 3 known spells, by 11th 6, etc all of a school affiliate with your origin,.

That allows sorcerer builds to expand out and gain a few spells in a given theme tied to his origin.

That's where to me the sorcerer fallsxshort. Thsts all we need in a patch.
I'm a big fan of having a list of bonus spells to choose from at odd levels (like the warlock does) based on sorcerous origin. They flirted with that idea in a couple UA playtests, but since it wasn't implemented for the PHB subclasses I don't think it would have been balanced to give it to only new subclasses. However, I don't want to do something that complicated on my own, and unless WotC decides to put out a "Class Variants" UA with lists for all of the sorcerous origins they've published, I prefer to come up with a way of granting more spells that requires minimum word count. Hence my non-ideal, but simplified fix that is "good enough" for me and accomplishes the same thing. As DM, I would discourage players from picking spells that don't somehow fit with their origin.

No, they are not. This is the problem I bolded in my first statement. They have very different identities.

The wizard is a master of wide spell selection, changing their spells every long rest, and having the best ritual casting of any class in the book because they don't have to have a spell known/prepared. The get almost no base class (vs. subclass) features as they level up because their casting is so good. They start with a wide spell selection, add to it faster than other arcane casters, and have mechanisms to grow it through play. They also get a very wide spell list with more choices on it to enable their specialty of wide spell scope.

A sorcerer is a master of just a few spells, but being able to do a lot with them. They get metamagic that allows them to manipulate that magic in ways that others can not, from twinning single target spells (amazing with buff spells), to casting unnoticed in social situations / uncounterable in combat situation, to a bunch of other ways to get more from a limited spell selection. They gain sorcery points to fuel this but could also do things like break down slots and construct slots. Not only is their spells known small, it comes from a narrower list.



They gave then exactly what you said - unique features. The part that you are also missing is that they also gave the wizard unique features. You are asking for a sorcerer with the wizard unique features, and ignoring the sorcerer unique features. That's not a problem with the game design.
I see what you are saying, but I'm still not sure I see where you are coming from in your overall framework. I'll explain mine and we can go from there. Bear with me as I paint the whole background framework (my mind works better that way).

Sorcerer first (outside of some magazine articles or such) appeared in 3e. Thematically, they were spellcasters with inborn talent. Many of them claimed to have inherited it from dragon ancestors, but whether that was true (or true for all of them) was uncertain. (Some later feats came out that implied that they could receive their powers from a variety of lineages.)

Mechanically, they pioneered a new mechanic of knowing less spells than other casters, and not being able to change which ones they had access to each day, in exchange for not preparing spells in slots, and instead being able to cast whichever ones they wanted in whichever slots they wanted (this flexibility also applied to their usage of Metamagic feats that all casters had access to). In addition, they learned new spell levels one level later than other full casters, but they got a lot more spell slots per level.

Their spell list was almost identical to the wizard spell list. They had no spells that wizard didn't, but lost a single digit number of spells that wizards did have (1 or 2 in the PHB that sorcerer's wouldn't have been able to use even if they knew them). This point informed both thematic and mechanical identity, and was itself informed by the thematic connection with dragons. Dragons in D&D have often been connected with magical knowledge. One of those elder races that mastered spellcasting before humans were even around sort of things. The draconic language has sometimes been used as the preferred language for recording magical things. In 1e the spells that dragons could cast didn't (at least in the MM) specify what spell lists they came from. However it is mentioned that some gold dragons had spell books. In 2e, dragons clearly favored wizard spells, with some of them also casting a lesser number of priest spells. In 3e, dragons primarily cast spells from the sorcerer spell list, with the other spells they knew counting as arcane spells even if they were normally not from arcane spell lists. The connection between wizards and dragons is what created both the connection between sorcerers and dragons (or other magical creatuers--5e tended to have monsters also favor the sorcerer spell list) and the connection between wizards and sorcerers. In other words, there was a good reason the sorcerer list was essentially just the wizard list.

What you end up with for the 3e sorcerer is a inborn, nebulously origined caster that mostly works like a wizard who knows less spells but has an enormous energy battery for casting them from. They can pick from a wide variety of spells to meet any virtually any concept they want that doesn't require healing or divine elements.

I don't remember the exact details of the 4e sorcerer, since I never owned the PHB2, but if I recall correctly they were more strongly themed by origin, and were strikers rather than the (first go at) controllers that wizards were. Since they used the same AEDU structure as all the pre-Essentials classes, I expect they were no more mechanically related to wizards that any other Arcane power source class was, and I assume they had a completely unique list of spells to choose from.

So those are the two concepts that I'm familiar with. 5e, as a sequel to all of D&D taken together (rather than a sequel to the previous edition, the way other editions had been) draws from both of these sorcerer concepts, but mechanically leans much heavier on pre-4e D&D--like it does with every class (except perhaps warlock).

During the playtest, there was a completely different sort of sorcerer tested that was very strongly connected to its origin and began physically transforming as it used up its daily spells. I thought the idea of a stronger connection to the origin was interesting, but I didn't like the particular implementation, and it didn't pass the playtest. Most people wanted something more like 3e, so that's where it ended up.

Mechanically, 5e, like most editions, has certain categories of casters. Full-casters get new spell levels at the appropriate time and go all the way up to 9th level spells. Bards, clerics, druids, sorcerers, warlocks*, and wizards are your full casters in 5e.

(* Yes, warlocks. I'll address how they can function as such if built towards it on another thread if people want me to.)

With the exception of warlocks (which handle it a bit differently) a 5e innovation is that all full casters use the same table of daily spell slots. They all get exactly the same number at exactly the same time. The only changes to this come through class features. The biggest ones are that wizards and Circle of the Land druids get Arcane Recovery and Natural Recovery, respectively, which give them additional spell slots. Sorcerers get Sorcery Points, which has a related function.

In 5e, full casters (other than warlock) all cast spells like the bard and sorcerer from 3e. However they differ in whether they can prepare spells from a large list (for Neo-vancian clerics, druids, and wizards) or have a limited list of spells known (bards and sorcerers), exactly like 3e bards and sorcerers. It's important to bring up here that 5e prepared is in every way superior to 5e Known spellcasting. This is by contrast to 3e where the sorcerer's spellcasting mechanic included pros and cons that was supposed to make the spellcasting itself mostly equal. In 5e, prepared casters are just like spontaneous casters that can change which spells they have every day from a generally large list of options. I want to emphasize this point. Leaving all other considerations aside (number of spells available each day, etc), being a Known caster (with the exact same table of spell slots per day) is strictly inferior. A Known caster needs to be given features that make up for that fact by itself, when comparing their balance to other classes. You have to compare [Known caster + some extra balancing factor + the rest of their class features] to [Prepared caster + the rest of their class features].

Arcane casters in 5e (Bard, sorcerer, warlock, wizard), like in othe editions, generally get a wider variety of spells on their class spell lists than divine casters, and wizards have access to the largest class spell list in the game. Number of spells on your class list is one element of flexibility.

Clerics, and Land druids have the most spells prepared per day, because they get their level + ability mod + up to 10 more from a bonus list (total 35). Wizards are next with level + ability mod + 2 at 18th+ level (total 27). Other druids clock in at level + ability mod (total 25). Lore bards get 24, while other bards get 22. Warlock's get 19 (or more if you count at-will spellcasting invocations). Sorcerers get 15. And if you want to see the real dominance of both prepared casters, and extra "domain" spells here, the half-caster prepared spells plus domain paladins get up to 25 spells, while the half caster Known spells ranger gets 11! Paladins literally (can) have access to 66% more spells than sorcerers. This number of prepared spells per day is another element of flexibility, and it's probably even more important that the previous one (assuming you don't have a truly tiny class spell list).

In 5e, sorcerers and wizards share the majority of their spells. They share access to 181 spells. Sorcerers get precisely 8 spells that aren't on the wizard spell list, while wizards get 116 spells that aren't on the sorcerer list.

Due to the history and design of the classes, sorcerers have more in common with wizards than with any other class, so, within the broad perspective of all of the full-casters and their specifics as a framework (which I am, certainly much to the relief of anyone still reading this, not going to go into) you can take wizards as a baseline and compare sorcerer to it to see how they stack up.

I'm not going to do that in any great deal on this thread. I've done so in the past, though I would refine the details if I went over it again. What's sufficient to say for these purposes is that in order for sorcerers to retain the element of having more spell slots than anyone else (and in 5e it's barely more--and not even more at some levels), they cannot use Sorcery Points for Metamagic. As soon as they do that, all wizards and Land druids have more spell slots per day than them. That is not acceptable to me. The way some people feel about the need for sorcerers to have completely unique spell lists to be more than a wizard knock-off, I feel about sorcerers needing to have more spell slots than anyone else per day to be sorcerers at all. It's absolutely essential to their identity. Giving them Metamagic and saying "Well, you can either have barely more spell points, or you can use this Metamagic feature, but you can't have both" is not acceptable design. That's like telling a warlock, "You don't have to use invocations if you don't want to use them. Just write them down on your character sheet and forget about them." True, but useless--and it would be a horrible commentary on Invocations. (The need for some subclasses to draw on Sorcery Points is similarly loathesome, but at least it is more limited and they sometimes are mimicking (or actually casting) spells.)

So for me, a 5e sorcerer's identity is that they are innate caster themed by an origin, who shares most of their class spell list with a wizard, has less known spells than most other full casters*, but more spell slots than anyone else, and can utilize Metamagic on their spells.

* Note that my proposed house rules still actually leave them with the smallest number of known spells of all full casters.

For a specific example of the flexibility of class spell lists and known spells, and how that little rule I proposed can allow me to better represent a theme with a black draconic sorcerer (and it's hopefully clear now why it seems a little weird to me to say that a concept of a properly flexible arcanist with a black dragon theme isn't an appropriate sorcerer concept), see the next part of this post.

So can you clarify what your concept of a 5e sorcerer is, and where you are deriving it from?

As for a Black Dragon theme... well what are you trying to do @Sword of Spirit that you don't feel like you can get done?

...

Sorry, this got long.
Don't worry, it was a good read. Mine's going to get long too. Hopefully it will be a fun read, lol. (Ignore the snark--it is aimed at the class design, not you or any other posters.)

Basically, I mean that, due to their draconic heritage, they can create the same sorts of magical effects that black dragons could from 2e through 3.5e. That covers 19 or so years of their history, so I'd say it's a pretty strong representation of a black dragon's unique feature. These effects are: Creating Darkness, Corrupting Water, Plant Growth, Summoning Insect Plagues, and Charming Reptiles.

You may or may not be surprised that they still have these same traditional abilities in 5e (with the exception of Charming Reptiles), in the form of Lair and Regional Actions. They get two additional abilties also: controlling water and creating fog.

Also, since black dragons can breathe water naturally, getting a spell to do that seems like a good candidate.

(Being a dragonborn or a dragonlike creature isn't really part of what I'm going for.)

So these represent the sorts of things I'd like to be able to get from my heritage. In addition, I'd like to be able to get the sorts of basic abilities that the other arcane full casters can get (in 5e, this includes bard, warlock, and wizard). They shouldn't know as many spells as a wizard, but I don't think knowing as many spells as a bard is out of line (even though my suggestion actually gives them less). Enough spells to express their concept, plus enough to do the same things that every other arcanist can do.

As I go through this discussion, there is a list of Known Spells further down to follow along with.

Let's see what spells I need for the black dragon concept first.

For his acid damage, there are 3 spells that deal direct acid damage, a cantrip, a 1st level spell, and a 4th level spell. (Dragon's breath I don't really count, because it puts you in a situation you probably would rather not be in--within 15' of your targets. It's better for putting on a familiar perhaps (which you don't get)). We should be able to at least get Melf's acid arrow, but it isn't on the sorcerer spell list. (This appears to be because, despite being an appropriately elemental spell, it has a name in front of it and sorcerer's don't get named spells. They ditched that rule in XGtE, so maybe you could convince your DM to let you have it, but that would be a house rule.)

Now lets get his iconic black dragon spells. There isn't anything I can find that corrupts water, so we'll just ignore that one. Looks like we need darkness, plant growth, insect plague, and charm monster. We had to sacrifice corrupting water, But we can get fog cloud to represent a 5e ability. Control water isn't available to us, so I suppose we'll have to take the next best thing we can actually get, tidal wave. That gives us 5 out of 7. The loss of plant growth is a real annoyance, because that's highly black dragon-y.

We can go with either water breathing or alter self. I'd like to go with alter self, but it requires Concentration, so I'll go with water breathing instead. Maybe we can afford both (don't hold your breath on it!)

Now lets get some of what I call basic arcanist options: detect magic, identify, dispel magic. I also like prestidigitation and mage hand, and at least at this point it looks like we can easily afford them, so I'll do so. When we get to really high level, we (amazingly) actually have access to wish, like wizards and bards, so we'll obviously snag it.

At this point we've covered just the real rudiments and we've used up 12 of our 15 known spells.

Our damage spells are generally mediocre, we have to wait until 7th (class) level to get an area of effect, we have no Twin-able cantrip, and frankly chromatic orb doesn't really fit conceptually, but we can't take Melf's acid arrow. Sound like we're going to have to do something about that. We could say that since black dragons have a kind of death-y subtheme (skull-like head, dwell amidst rotting stuff) chill touch is a decent choice for a single target (hence Twin-able) cantrip. But that wouldn't benefit from Elemental Affinity. For effectiveness it looks like it's a bit of a toss up between getting Empower Spell and going with acid splash or using Twinned Spell with chill touch. Since acid splash is a closer fit for theme, I'm tentatively picking that. I was going to keep chill touch as an alternative damage source for things immune to acid, but then I realized infestation is more thematically appropriate (though shorter range), and has the same considerations. So infestation it is. I know it will be controversal, but I'm ditching chromatic orb, because it really doesn't feel right that I need a material component to access my acid magic. You can't talk me down from that. We don't need a million damage spells, but we need a good one at 1st level, and another at 2nd or 3rd. So I guess it's ye olde magic missile, and fireball or lightning bolt. I really don't want fire, so I'll pick lightning bolt.

That's 2 more spells for a total of 13. What I should I pick with my 2 whole choices left? Well, I'd like to be able to fill a couple more general arcanist sorts of things, I'd like be able to touch at least a couple of functional areas I don't have from the myriad of options (defense, divination, utility illusions/disguise, self-buffs, ally buffs, targeted debuffs, tactical movement, travel, higher level smackdown, etc), I'd kinda like to pick a couple spells just because they are fun, and I'd like to be able to have a spell at each spell level... Well, it looks like the last option is straight out, since I currently lack any spells at 3 spell levels. Sigh Let's make a short list of spells that are interesting for this character concept and/or effective that might fill out that stuff, and see how many of those things I can fit in 2 spells.

Spells I'd Like:
Minor Illusion (Utility Illusion cantrip)
Silent Image or Major Illusion (Utility Illusion)
Phantasmal Force (Twin-able attack plus Fun)
Blindness/Deafness (Targeted Debuff)
Levitate (Targeted Debuff and Utility)
Invisibility or Greater Invisibility (Utility or Defense plus less Utility)
Plane Shift or Etherealness (Travel, empty spell levels, FUN)
Misty Step or Dimension Door (Tactical Movement)
True Seeing (Divination, empty spell level)
Mirror Image (Defense, and non-Concentration)
Finger of Death or Disintegrate (empty spell level, Higher Level Smackdown)
Haste (Self or Ally Buff).

Let's take minor illusion, since I can afford another cantrip. I suppose I can count that as Utility Illusion, though I'd really like something higher level also. Now let's narrow these down to just one per category, and combining multiple categories where possible, to get a smaller list to choose from.

Smaller List of Spells I'd Like
Levitate (Targeted Debuff and Utility)
Misty Step (Tactical Movement)
True Seeing (Divination)
Mirror Image (Defense)
Plane Shift (empty spell level, FUN)
Haste (Self or Ally Buff)

I'm just going to give up on a higher level Utility Illusion. I'm also going to give up on the sorts of Higher Level Smackdown spell I might want, and wincingly count plane shift's built-in banishment option as kinda/sorta/partly doing that.

So...that brings me down to 6. I get 2. Let's look at the spells I already have included on the Known Spells list below, and see if there are any ghosts of redundancy between those and the spells on that list that we might be able to exorcise. ...Well, that was 5 minutes of futility I'm never going to get back... Nope, not a single one of the spells in my small list above is redundant with anything on the known list below.

Let's see if I can mutilate the Known Spells list itself to make a little more room. Darkness and fog cloud are redundant. Let's stick with the more black dragon traditional darkness. That controlling water ability is new to 5e. Let's be a ruthless grognard and remove tidal wave. Well, there's 2 more spells. I pretty much need everything else down there, unless I toss wish. But I have an Intelligence of higher than 3, so I'm going to not do that.

Now we've got room for 4 spells from that 6 spell list. So I need to lose 2 of them. I need some sort of real defense. So I lose misty step in favor of keeping mirror image. Let's look at Metamagic now and try to match my choices of Metamagic with the spells I already know, and see if that might tell me what I should take with those last 3 spells..

The only spells that I have that could be Twinned are infestation, dispel magic, and charm monster. Infestation is mostly a backup attack for when acid splash won't work, dispel magic probably won't be Twinned very often, and charm monster would be great Twinned, but I can just upcast it to affect more targets, so it's not necessary. It would work with haste or true seeing. Twinned haste is a really powerful combo, but I really don't even see this character using haste. I stuck it on the lists of spells I'd like just because it's powerful. For this character, I'd literally rather have any other spell on that first list than haste. True seeing is really situational. So I'm going to pass on Twinned Spell.

Without Twinned Spell, I really want Empower Spell to try to get acid splash worthwhile. It also works with all of my damage spells and is cheap, so Empower Spell it is.

Since mirror image is my only defensive spell, and it takes an action to cast, Quicken Spell is probably a given. I need to at least be blasting out at cantrip while I'm otherwise standing around turning on my defense in the first round.

I like Subtle Spell, because black dragons are stealthy. I can't pair it with counterspell, because I don't have it, because I can't afford both dispel magic and counterspell, and dispel magic is more versatile. So this is for concept. It will be useful outside of combat with charm monster, and perhaps occasionally dispel magic.

Extend Spell doesn't look very useful with this list. Careful Spell would only mitigate some damage on his area effect attacks. There are no touch spells on the list, so Distant Spell would primarily be useful for occasionally increasing the range of acid splash or another attack spell. That might be nice, but I don't think it's the best of the remaining options.

That means we'll round out the list with Heighten Spell. There are a reasonable amount of spells that can make use of it.

Let's pause to finish up cantrips. Since I ditched tidal wave, I'm going to pick up shape water, for theme. I'm just as likely to be human as anything else, and since I like to be somewhat self-sufficient when traveling, I want some sort of light source. I'd rather go with the creepier dancing lights, but I don't want to use Concentration on it if I need it in a fight. I guess I'll just color my light swamp green. I'll have to give up mage hand.

Giving up haste means that I be taking levitate for some utility, true seeing for some divination, and plane shift so I have less empty spell levels, and for some semblence of a difficult and dangerous to pull of high level smackdown, but mostly for fun.

There's nothing I'll be swapping out as I level, because there is nothing on the list that can be effectively superceded by another available spell.

So here is what he will have. (X_Xs for things that were initially on but had to be taken off, Red for spells he deserves to have, but can't get because sorcerers don't have access, +s for spells that were added on after figuring out the basic rudiments.)

Metamagic
Empower Spell
Quicken Spell
Subtle Spell
Heighten Spell

Spells

Cantrips
Acid Splash (Empowerable, Heightenable)
Infestation (Empowerable, Heightenable, XTwin-nable)
Light
XMage HandX
Minor Illusion
Prestidigitation
Shape Water

1st Level
XChromatic Orb (Empowerable, XTwin-nable)X
Detect Magic (Conc)
XFog Cloud (Conc)X
Identify
Magic Missile (Empowerable)

2nd Level
Darkness (Conc)
+Levitate (Conc, swapped out at level 14)
Melf's Acid Arrow (Twinnable)
+Mirror Image

3rd Level
Dispel Magic (XTwin-ableX)
Lightning Bolt (Empowerable, Heightenable)
Plant Growth
XTidal WaveX
Water Breathing

4th Level
Charm Monster (XTwin-nableX, but scalable, Heightenable)
Vitriolic Sphere (Empowerable, Heightenable)

5th Level
Insect Plague (Empowerable, Heightenable, Conc)

6th Level
+True Seeing (XTwin-ableX)

7th Level
Plane Shift (Heightenable)

8th Level
-

9th Level
Wish

So here's the quick level progression.

Level Progression
1 - Acid splash, infestation, prestidigitation, shape water, detect magic, magic missile
2 - Identify
3 - Empower Spell, Quicken Spell, Mirror image
4 - Light, levitate
5 - Lightning bolt
6 - Darkness
7 - Vitriolic sphere
8 - Water breathing
9 - Insect plague
10 - Heighten Spell, Minor illusion, dispel magic
11 - Charm monster
13 - Plane shift
15 - True seeing
17 - Subtle Spell, Wish

Some people are looking at this and saying. "Looks fine to me, other than some of your less than optimal, but perfectly reasonable thematic choices."

I'm looking at this and thinking, "Whaa? I mean, like, Waa?"

That's not enough. Even a little bit more (in my proposed house rules, 4 additional spells from bard, druid, sorcerer, or, wizard spell list) should make a big difference when you're cutting it that close. So let's see what those 4 extra spells can do for my black dragon sorcerer.

Revised Level Progression
1 - Acid splash, infestation, prestidigitation, shape water, detect magic, magic missile (temp), find familiar (SO)
2 - Identify
3 - Empower Spell, Quicken Spell, Mirror image
4 - Light, levitate
5 - Lightning bolt, (replace magic missile with darkness), Melf's acid arrow (SO)
6 - Water breathing
7 - Vitriolic sphere
8 - Dispel magic
9 - Insect plague, plant growth (SO)
10 - Heighten Spell, Minor illusion, charm monster
11 - True seeing
13 - Plane shift
15 - Finger of death, Illusory dragon (SO)
17 - Subtle Spell, Wish

I picked up a familiar at level 1 to get that arcane feeling. I learned 6 spells faster than I would have (including learning 2 of them at the correct levels now). I traded in magic missile for the Melf's acid arrow I wanted all along. I actually got plant growth (cue triumphant musical score). I picked up finger of death for some real high level smackdown with rotting goodness. And I had a left over 8th level spell slot to choose a spell from 4 spell lists. There are multiple things I could have done with this, including picking up control water (and having kept mage hand instead of shape water). But at this point, I decided to do something fun and interesting and take illusory dragon, because I could.

Now that's a spell list I can play with. It's very tight, because I had a strong and appropriate theme for the Black Draconic Bloodline origin. I didn't have a lot of room to play around with it, but I did have just enough room to cover the basic rudiments of being an arcanist, and still pick a few spells that weren't strongly connected to the theme. Still only 19 spells, less than every other full caster (equal to the warlock if you don't count their ability to pick up a good number of at-will spells with their Invocations), but enough that I feel like I actually have both a strong theme, choices, and party contribution beyond just blasting, healing, or hasting.

So that's how the Sorcerous Origin part of my proposed house rules works to give me the flexibility to play a perfectly reasonable concept.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
That works just fine, but I wanted to preserve the element of a sorcerer having more effective spell slots per day than a wizard, and did that by mostly separating Metamagic from Sorcery Points, so that (if you wanted to) you could decide to never spend Sorcery Points on Metamagic and still benefit from both features.
The weird thing is, in 5E, they don't. With Arcane Recovery a wizard usually keeps pace with a sorcerer, even if the sorcerer does spend all their points on slots.

And no, I'm not a huge fan of this.
 

Perun

Mushroom
FWIW, I've been playing a storm sorcerer for close to 10 levels now (i.e. the character is a single-classed half-elf storm sorcerer 9, going on 10).

We use the following modifications to the base class:
  • Spell points. We also merge sorcery points and spell points into a single pool. This provides more versatility, but you're always tempted to go nova. I usually resist the temptation, but there were a couple of situations when I burned through the spell slots really fast.
  • Spell points per Short Rest Recovery. This is 2 SP/short rest now (and has been since we introduces it). It's supposed to increase at a certain point in the future, but I don't know when.
  • Spell Changes: Can cast storm sphere as a personal spell, i.e. the spell is mobile and centered on the character, but the range is reduced to 10 ft.
My DM is also very flexible when it comes to spell selection. I have the option of reflavouring any sorcerer spell (but even the other spll lists are generally open) to fit the storm theme (i.e. I could take fireball and have it do lightning damage), but (naturally) after consulting with the DM. I still haven't used this option (but I'm planning to take lighting-themed frostburn cantrip on 10th level).

I find that just switching to spell points changes the sorcerer in a very significant way. You're no longer limited by spell slots, so you can get a much greater use of your limited spell selection. Then merging sorcery points with spell points expands this even further. The single additional SP I can spend on my chromatic orb to twin it is practically negligible, but I can now attack a second target, etc. With upcasting (casting at higher level), it quickly becomes really costly (casting twinned chromatic orb at 5th level costs 12 SP, a 9th-level spell costs 13 SP), but still provides much more versatility.

Recovering spell points on short rest is nothing big (it's the equivalent of a 1st-level spell slot now), but you get something, and that's always nice :)

I've received two extra spells known so far, one cantrip (gust), and a DM homebrew 5th-level spell.

Here's the character, for reference's sake.
* denotes a bonus feature

BARAN STORMWIND
Half-elf Storm Sorcerer 10
AC 14 (16 w/ mage armour)

Str 12, Dex 16, Con 16, Int 13, Wis 15, Cha 20

Saves: Constitution +7, Charisma +9
Resistances: Lightning, Thunder
Skills: Athletics +5, Deception +9, Insight +6, Investigation +5, Perception +6, Performance* +9, Persuasion +9, Cartographer's Tools
Feats: Spell Sniper* [Warlock] (eldritch blast); Improved Familiar (homebrew)
Languages: Primordial, Common, Elven, Orc, Goblin
Metamagic Known: Empowered Spell, Twinned Spell, Electrodynamics* (from magic item; spend one SP to change damage to lightning)

Spells Known:
  • Cantrips: eldritch blast, dancing lights, gust*, mending, minor illusion, prestidigitation, thunderclap;
  • 1st-Level: chromatic orb, mage armour
  • 2nd-Level: misty step, shatter
  • 3rd-Level: fly, haste, lightning bolt
  • 4th-Level: dimension door, storm sphere
  • 5th-Level: far step, fulminous thunderstrike*
  • wand of magic missiles: as per the DMG
  • Twice-Struck Staff: each character has a "story item", a bespoke magical item that 'grows' with the character. These are the current abilities:
    • Whenever your casting activates your Storm sorcerer Heart of the Storm ability, or when you cast the Haste spell, you can add charges to Twice-struck staff equal to your Cha modifier instead. Maximum number of charges is your Cha modifier × your sorcerer level. On your turn, as an action, you can spend all the charges currently contained within TS staff as a melee or ranged spell attack (30 ft reach [60 ft. w/ Spell Sniper feat]). On a hit you deal lightning damage equal to number of charges spent. The staff loses all charges after a long rest.​
    • When the staff contains at least 1 charge, it sheds dim light in a 20-ft. radius. When the staff contains maximum charges, it sheds bright light in a 20 ft. radius, and dim light in another 20 ft.​
    • Electrodynamics: additional metamagic option. Spend 1 SP to change a spell's damage type to lightning.​
    • Lightning-Quick Wit: Should the character give a witty lightning-related one-liner when casting a spell requiring an attack roll, he receives an advantage on the attack roll.​
  • magic robe: AC 11 + Dex modifier
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
Revised Level Progression
1 - Acid splash, infestation, prestidigitation, shape water, detect magic, magic missile (temp), find familiar (SO)
2 - Identify
3 - Empower Spell, Quicken Spell, Mirror image
4 - Light, levitate
5 - Lightning bolt, (replace magic missile with darkness), Melf's acid arrow (SO)
6 - Water breathing
7 - Vitriolic sphere
8 - Dispel magic
9 - Insect plague, plant growth (SO)
10 - Heighten Spell, Minor illusion, charm monster
11 - True seeing
13 - Plane shift
15 - Finger of death, Illusory dragon (SO)
17 - Subtle Spell, Wish

I picked up a familiar at level 1 to get that arcane feeling. I learned 6 spells faster than I would have (including learning 2 of them at the correct levels now). I traded in magic missile for the Melf's acid arrow I wanted all along. I actually got plant growth (cue triumphant musical score). I picked up finger of death for some real high level smackdown with rotting goodness. And I had a left over 8th level spell slot to choose a spell from 4 spell lists. There are multiple things I could have done with this, including picking up control water (and having kept mage hand instead of shape water). But at this point, I decided to do something fun and interesting and take illusory dragon, because I could.

Now that's a spell list I can play with. It's very tight, because I had a strong and appropriate theme for the Black Draconic Bloodline origin. I didn't have a lot of room to play around with it, but I did have just enough room to cover the basic rudiments of being an arcanist, and still pick a few spells that weren't strongly connected to the theme. Still only 19 spells, less than every other full caster (equal to the warlock if you don't count their ability to pick up a good number of at-will spells with their Invocations), but enough that I feel like I actually have both a strong theme, choices, and party contribution beyond just blasting, healing, or hasting.

So that's how the Sorcerous Origin part of my proposed house rules works to give me the flexibility to play a perfectly reasonable concept.
A few things.

I give Origin spells in my games so Sorcerers get 20 spells known. Basically I give them lists like Domains but they have to choose one of the two options to get as a bonus spell. They can use one of their normals spells known to pick up the other Origin spell as well if they want it, so I'm right there with you on that.

If you're going human you can use your variant Human feat to pick up Magic Initiate (Sorcerer) to have one more 1st level spell and also 2 more cantrips know.

Acid Splash might not be twinnable, but it DOES have the ability to affect up to two targets that are next to each other, so it's not like its only single target.

Don't Discount Dragon's Breath especially if you're popping for the Familiar. You can RAW twin Dragon's Breath, then you and your familiar are both breathing out cones of Acid damage.

I guess I get being against the component for Chromatic Orb? Not really as you have to use an arcane focus or spell component pouch for all your other Sorcerer spells, it's just a more expensive component, but you do you on that one. You have to have a more expensive component to cast identify too so...?

I would let a Black Dragon sorcerer take Melf's as a spell known. I don't know why it's wizard only. Same with illusory Dragon, no reason that it couldn't/shouldn't be available to Sorcerers. They made some odd choices on the sorcerer spell list.

Pick up Ritual Caster (Wizard) with another feat and that will give you 99% of the "general arcanist" spell set that you're looking for, so you can have Alter Self as a spell known AND Water Breathing as a ritual. Since Breathing is a 24 spell no reason you can't have it up all day after waking up.

With Magic Initiate (Sorcerer) and Ritual Caster (Wizard) taken in either order you could have something like this at my table without the bonus spells even.

Assuming Ritual Caster at 1st with variant human and MI (sorcerer) at 4th:

You can do what your list is, but you get your cantrips sooner +2 more later. You can also add Counterspell because you have one more 1st level spell known so it frees up a spell known. Ritual Caster frees up a bunch of other known spells.

Really you want the Circle of Land (Swamp) spell list access for the Black Dragon sorcerer, which honestly I as a DM would have little issue with allowing you to choose spells from as its very thematically appropriate even if you don't use bonus spells.

Plant growth is really the only issue. Again I'd probably allow a black dragon sorcerer to take it as an origin spell. It could also swap out for scrying on the Druid (Swamp) list.


Plus with Ritual Caster you've got the ability to learn/cast all these other fun spells:
1st- Alarm, Comprehend languages. Floating Disk, Illusory script, Floating Disk, Unseen Servant,
2nd - Gentle Repose, Magic mouth, Skywrite
3rd - Feign Death, Phantom Steed, Tiny Hut, Water Breathing
5th - Contact Other plane, Telepathic Bond
6th - Instant Summons

Some aren't great, but others are (most of the level 1 list!) especially Phantom Steed, Tiny Hut, Water Breathing and Telepathic Bond.
 

Salthorae

Imperial Mountain Dew Taster
FWIW, I've been playing a storm sorcerer for close to 10 levels now (i.e. the character is a single-classed half-elf storm sorcerer 9, going on 10).

We use the following modifications to the base class:
  • Spell points. We also merge sorcery points and spell points into a single pool. This provides more versatility, but you're always tempted to go nova. I usually resist the temptation, but there were a couple of situations when I burned through the spell slots really fast.
  • Spell points per Short Rest Recovery. This is 2 SP/short rest now (and has been since we introduces it). It's supposed to increase at a certain point in the future, but I don't know when.
  • Spell Changes: Can cast storm sphere as a personal spell, i.e. the spell is mobile and centered on the character, but the range is reduced to 10 ft.
My DM is also very flexible when it comes to spell selection. I have the option of reflavouring any sorcerer spell (but even the other spll lists are generally open) to fit the storm theme (i.e. I could take fireball and have it do lightning damage), but (naturally) after consulting with the DM. I still haven't used this option (but I'm planning to take lighting-themed frostburn cantrip on 10th level).

I find that just switching to spell points changes the sorcerer in a very significant way. You're no longer limited by spell slots, so you can get a much greater use of your limited spell selection. Then merging sorcery points with spell points expands this even further. The single additional SP I can spend on my chromatic orb to twin it is practically negligible, but I can now attack a second target, etc. With upcasting (casting at higher level), it quickly becomes really costly (casting twinned chromatic orb at 5th level costs 12 SP, a 9th-level spell costs 13 SP), but still provides much more versatility.

Recovering spell points on short rest is nothing big (it's the equivalent of a 1st-level spell slot now), but you get something, and that's always nice :)
I like the idea of Sorcerers using the spell points variant. Makes them feel different to wizards mechanically which is nice. Plus adding the sorcery points into that is just more fun you can have.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
Spell points. We also merge sorcery points and spell points into a single pool. This provides more versatility, but you're always tempted to go nova. I usually resist the temptation, but there were a couple of situations when I burned through the spell slots really fast.
This is a nice elegant idea. It gets rid of the rather awkward exchange system in Font of Magic. And I feel like the temptation to go nova is at the heart of the sorcerer's mechanical identity.

Spell points per Short Rest Recovery. This is 2 SP/short rest now (and has been since we introduces it). It's supposed to increase at a certain point in the future, but I don't know when.
Well, the sorcerer's capstone feature gives you 4/rest by default, so if I were to try reading your DM's mind, I'd guess 3/rest at 10th level.

I don't like this. Again, the temptation to go nova is at the heart of the sorcerer's mechanical identity. Getting points back on a short rest is a safety net, and safety nets are for wizards. If you want sorcerers to have more spells, just give them more points and let them waste them as they will.

Also, you have to be careful with recovery of resources on short rests. Players can do unintended and fun-negative stuff like chaining short rests to get more points. They could do that with the sorcerer's capstone already, but at 20th level it doesn't matter that much. Note in contrast that the wizard's Arcane Recovery says "once per day".
 

Perun

Mushroom
Well, the sorcerer's capstone feature gives you 4/rest by default, so if I were to try reading your DM's mind, I'd guess 3/rest at 10th level.

I don't like this. Again, the temptation to go nova is at the heart of the sorcerer's mechanical identity. Getting points back on a short rest is a safety net, and safety nets are for wizards. If you want sorcerers to have more spells, just give them more points and let them waste them as they will.

Also, you have to be careful with recovery of resources on short rests. Players can do unintended and fun-negative stuff like chaining short rests to get more points. They could do that with the sorcerer's capstone already, but at 20th level it doesn't matter that much. Note in contrast that the wizard's Arcane Recovery says "once per day".
To be honest, I've been viewing this as beneficial, but nothing to be excited about. In fact, I've so far mostly been forgetting to add the recovered SPs to the total :p
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
When I said "throw them out" I didn't mean I don't use those subclasses. What I was doing was forestalling people arguing that sorcerer is perfectly balanced (and therefore this thread is meaningless) because a fire draconic sorcerer is a damage powerhouse, or a divine soul is incredibly flexible. That's usually what happens on these threads, and it completely misses the issue that a class is more than its best subclass. It seems to have worked, since no one is making that argument.



The sorcerer's identity is pretty close to that of a wizard. They are an innate, less scholarly caster with a theme, compared to a trained, scholarly caster with a theme. They should be an alternative way of filling the role that a wizard could fill. Just like you can have a barbarian, or paladin, or ranger fill the same role as a fighter, but fill it a little differently, you should be able to do the same with sorcerer and wizard. You might argue that that isn't the intended case, but I would argue that if it were not the intended case, then they should have given the sorcerer some unique features that clearly allow it to fill a role that the wizard cannot, and not make it look like it can fill a role similar to the wizard. As it is that is the obvious intent, and there is no good evidence that I'm aware of for a contrary "correct usage" for the sorcerer.
They did give the sorcerer a different role and abilities in the playtest, and it got rejected.
 

TheCosmicKid

Adventurer
They did give the sorcerer a different role and abilities in the playtest, and it got rejected.
That was... awkward. They presented the "dragon sorcerer" as a sort of gish class. They implied that the parts that made it gishy came from the "dragon", not the "sorcerer", and that other types of sorcerer might be more traditional but they wanted to start out by seeing how far they could push the new stuff. This was probably a mistake: without seeing the more traditional sorcerers, it looked to players like they were just trying to make the sorcerer overall a gish, and that didn't go over very well.
 

MechaTarrasque

Adventurer
That was... awkward. They presented the "dragon sorcerer" as a sort of gish class. They implied that the parts that made it gishy came from the "dragon", not the "sorcerer", and that other types of sorcerer might be more traditional but they wanted to start out by seeing how far they could push the new stuff. This was probably a mistake: without seeing the more traditional sorcerers, it looked to players like they were just trying to make the sorcerer overall a gish, and that didn't go over very well.
I will admit it would have been nice to have a second subclass and maybe had they done that, things would have been different, but I doubt that the playtest sorcerer being too gishy was the reason it was rejected. I'm pretty sure a bunch of people developed the belief that WotC would reimpose 3.5 casting on 5e so the sorcerer could be "special", despite little to no evidence that that would happen and were determined to vote down any other option. At least they weren't very shy about complaining that the sorcerer wasn't the only spontaneous caster when 5e first came out.

WotC should have fielded another version (or at least another subclass, although I am not sure if the wild magic sorcerer would have helped, even if it was something like "when you run out spell slots at a given level, you can cast additional spells at that level, but a wild magic surge will likely occur [cumulative chance per each spell cast]") in the playtest or left the class out of the PHB while they figured out "how to make the sorcerer special." If the sorcerer came out in a series of UA's, I think even the most ardent 3.5 casting aficionado would admit it wasn't going to make a comeback, and they could chose between things that WotC would actually do.


Hmm, actually that wild magic sorcerer idea sounds good. The white roomers would be happy (by completely ignoring the chance that a wild magic surge would occur [if it happens obviously the DM is out to get you], you can cast more high level spells than the wizard). People who like weirdness could still get it, and people who like a little weirdness have more control over when it happens (if the dice are falling your way, cast with abandon, and otherwise show some restraint)
 

Ashrym

Adventurer
I was not a fan of the playtest gish sorc at all.

@Sword of Spirit

In the OP you stated fire sorcs are fine and then stated you couldn't make your black dragon sorc theme, then seemed to contradict yourself later by adding features to the base class that have nothing to do with the reason fire sorcs are fine. If fire sorcs are fine because of the spells available on the sorc list then the obvious solutions are reskinning fire spells or creating acid spells. Divine soul being fine reaffirms this given the main benefit is a bigger spell list from which to choose. If the issue indicated later is the base mechanics and shortage of spells creates an issue with the class then it would also apply to those two subclasses. IE, the solution doesn't match up with the real issue because the real issue seems to only apply to specific themes instead of the class itself.

This is how I would build a black dragon sorc, fwiw, to approximate your theme you seem to want.

Sorcerer, variant human.

Level Progression
1 - Acid splash, infestation, prestidigitation, shape water, detect magic, identify; magic initiate (sorc) -- light, minor illusion, shield
2 - Silent image
3 - Empower Spell, Quicken Spell, alter self
4 - Mage hand, darkness
5 - Fear
6 - Dispel magic
7 - Vitriolic sphere
8 - Charm monster
9 - Insect plague
10 - Heighten Spell, mold earth, far step
11 - True seeing
13 - Plane shift
15 - Abi-Dalzim's horrid wilting
17 - Subtle Spell, wish

You can upgrade silent image to phantasmal force or major image, keep it as is, or swap it for something else you might feel you need but you seemed to want illusions. Using magic initiate sorc fills out the other cantrips you wanted nicely (and not having enough cantrips seems like a odd position anyway given sorcs have more than other casters). It doesn't have plant growth but fear is by far the more iconic dragon ability and you didn't bother touching on it, even though the spell is decent and available much earlier than the 18th level bloodline ability. Water breathing is covered by alter self.

Low levels are being covered by cantrips or weapons for damage (your choice) much like most of the time anyway. Adding in a couple magic missile attacks don't have that much impact but it's easy enough to tweek by swapping a spell here or there and still hold the basic theme. I would give serious thought to dropping the illusions for clairvoyance or another divination. It's a quick brainstorm on how I envision the theme and might not match others. ;-)
Few other points...
  • You also mentioned bards have wish. They don't. They can add wish via secrets and that's not quite the same.
  • You mentioned using quicken for mirror image in order to get defense up the first round. That's an example of why metamagic is good. Wizards lose that round in offense to put up the defensive spell while sorcs can add the defense and then pop off an attack cantrip.
  • The comparison for 3.5 spells known is was a bit misleading. 3.5 bard knew 29 spells (not including 0 level) and 9 types of songs by default. Sorcerers knew 34 spells total (not including 0 level). 38 spell + songs > 34 spells. Sorcs had more cantrips then too, much like now. The point is sorcerers had less magical options than bards then too, not just now. Just like then bards had more skill options too they do now. 5e isn't a new precedent here; it combined the features of bards to be more streamlined.
  • It doesn't matter how many spells a paladin knows if he or she doesn't have the slots available to cast them. That's true for all spell casters. Font of magic might be shared with metamagic but it's still an option far beyond paladins or clerics or bards or warlocks or paladins or most druids. Wizards don't fall into that because they all have the short rest renewal but sorcs are better off than most casters in that regard.
  • Your comparison of sorcerous insight to magical secrets is misleading because restricting the classes to those classes isn't much of a restriction and bards don't get magical secrets until 10th level. Starting it at first level and then saying it's weaker than the high level bard ability (when it's not really) doesn't hold much water. It's granting 3 spells from almost any class before bards even get the ability.

I agree it's not easy to build a theme for a sorcerer sometimes. As you can see, I added an extra 1st level spell and cantrips via a feat.

Sometimes the theme also looks like trying to eat your cake and have it too. For example, the comparison to 3.5 left out the part that those sorcerers didn't have metamagic by default (wizards had the free feats for it) and in 5e it's rather exclusive to the class. It's like you want to add a past trait and also keep the current upgrades. ;-)

Having said that, I'm disagreeing with your premise and solution a bit, but not your dissatisfaction with the 5e version. WotC can't please everyone and the class can be hard to work around a theme as I agree. I also allow players to request thematic spells from other classes that might match the bloodline concepts on a case by case basis for sorcerers. It would be nice to have more acid spells and that's something I would look at as a solution.

Feedback on your house rules...

Sorcerous insight is too early. Sorcerer spells known isn't far behind spells prepped or compared to other arcane casters and they are ahead in cantrips. It's high level where they really fall behind and that's fixable by continuing the spells known progression. That seems more suitable to getting the spells known when they would be more applicable to the gap.

Metamagic addendum is more complex than it needs to be. It also favors high point cost meta's like heighten or twin. Using twin for free on a high level spell seems ridiculous to me. It's becomes more open to abuse as more single-target spells become available, which is compounded by sorcerous insight and one of the reasons given for restricting sorc spells in the first place. Twin is already one of the favorite meta options. Adding CHA mod to sorc points is a better tweak if you think it's needed.

Metamagic affinity seems like it's too much. However, spell mastery is also pretty powerful so if you add affinity the time to do it would be at a similar level.
 

Sword of Spirit

Adventurer
@Sword of Spirit
In the OP you stated fire sorcs are fine and then stated you couldn't make your black dragon sorc theme, then seemed to contradict yourself later by adding features to the base class that have nothing to do with the reason fire sorcs are fine. If fire sorcs are fine because of the spells available on the sorc list then the obvious solutions are reskinning fire spells or creating acid spells. Divine soul being fine reaffirms this given the main benefit is a bigger spell list from which to choose. If the issue indicated later is the base mechanics and shortage of spells creates an issue with the class then it would also apply to those two subclasses. IE, the solution doesn't match up with the real issue because the real issue seems to only apply to specific themes instead of the class itself.
First, let me say that your whole post is well-reasoned and useful. Thanks. I'll try to give as cogent a response to the areas where I differ in my conclusions.

I wasn't actually claiming that either Draconic fire sorcerers or Divine Souls are fine. Rather, I wanted to avoid taking them as the baseline, because they are better than other sorcerers in ways that I think obsfucate the real issues with the class. People overlook the weaknesses that remain with those subclasses because they have enough raw strength if used in certain ways that those holes aren't as important as the areas in which they excel. Or to get even more psychological about it--since subclass X is obviously powerful, and subclass Y is obviously flexible, there is no reason to really even entertain claims that there might be problems with the design of the core class. By making sure we weren't talking about those particular subclasses, I hoped to reframe the discussion to a baseline where the design flaws I'm addressing are more clearly visible and don't elicit the knee-jerk objection response. The fixes I am proposing (continuing to work on refining) should not overpower the best subclasses, but should fill those holes in a way so as to bring the overall effectiveness of all sorcerers in line with wizards.

So here is how those subclasses fit with my initial three points that #1 they need to know more spells, #2 they need to have more choices (larger spell list), and #3 they need to be on fire...I mean, #3 sorcery points need to be reserved mostly for creating spell slots with Flexible Casting.

Fire Draconic might have enough choices #2 for their theme, but they don't have enough spells to have the level of breadth I feel that they should #1 (which I'll get to later), and they still have the same issue with #3 that all sorcerers do.

Divine Soul definitely has enough spells for their theme #2 (and in fact, I consider the ability to have full access to two spell lists like they do to be overpowered), but they still have the problems of #1 and #3.

So for fire Draconic, they don't need much from area #2 to be a raging inferno of doom--and when you're a raging inferno of doom you can just incinerate anyone who points out your blemishes.

For Divine Soul, they get so much from area #2 that they can invoke holy/unholy consequences on anyone who brings up their lacking virtues.

What is needed regarding #2 is for the basic sorcerer chassis to provide more spell choices so that concepts that don't synergize as well as (just about only) fire Draconic sorcerers do can also feel satisfied. Draconic fire will still be the tyrant king of damage, and Divine Soul will still remain the high priest of flexibility, but other concepts will be able to express themselves at an acceptable degree of effectiveness.

This is how I would build a black dragon sorc, fwiw, to approximate your theme you seem to want.
...
Just wanted to note that I didn't take fear because of the subclass ability, and because I did't have space for it. Also, I don't like to assume Feats in class effectiveness. Other than that, it's a well put together character concept, but it just doesn't have things that I feel are needed to fill out a solid party arcanist. There's no damaging spells except cantrips until level 7. You did a better job than I did of getting generally useful spells at lower levels, but the only reason this was possible was because of the lack of thematic spells (some of which aren't available on the sorcerer list). Substituting shield in place of mirror image as the defensive spell highlights an issue with such limited spell selection. Shield is actually more effective, but I don't see it fitting this character (he's more about misdirection when possible).

With such limited choices, you end up with a forced choice situation between effectiveness and thematic fit unless the same spells happen to meet both requirements (as is the case with the fire Draconic's damage spells).

I don't think any character in D&D should ever have to make that choice. There should always be multiple spell choices that accomplish similar goals in thematically different ways so that you can choose from as wide of a variety of concepts as are reasonable for a character class. The sorcerer class, with or without specific subclasses, should be broad enough to cover any arcane caster concepts except: scholarly caster, pact with other entity, or bardic magic. Odd concepts like Divine Soul are okay requiring a subclass to pull that off, but most shouldn't. Draconic (when making themes that are draconic only in terms of "magic came from dragons, so dragon heritage gives you magic") and Wild Magic (for themes that only require "I was just born with magic from who knows where") should be broad enough subclasses to cover the rest. Yes, this does mean that there can be a lot of overlap between wizard and sorcerer concepts--and there should be! A sorceress who is an enchantress/illusionist (and still covers other basic roles) should be able to exist side by side with a wizard of the Enchantment or Illusion tradition. Some people disagree with me on this. Some people think that sorceress concept should just play a wizard. I disagree this is how it should work. This sort of overlap is a part of traditional sorcerer identity, and is one reason there is still so much overlap in their spell lists. Playing someone with magic flowing through their veins is in and of itself a different concept than someone who learns magic academically. Mechanics should make them different without preventing them from filling similar party roles.

Few other points...

You also mentioned bards have wish. They don't. They can add wish via secrets and that's not quite the same.
It's not quite the same, but anyone who can take wish should take wish. ;-) Bards (especially Lore bards) have a really good "effective spell list". For a Lore Bard, literally 1/3 of their spells can come from any list. And the bard list itself has a fairly broad range, mostly just lacking in the boom spells and divine category (though they get a lot of good healing). More on Magical Secrets below.

The comparison for 3.5 spells known is was a bit misleading. 3.5 bard knew 29 spells (not including 0 level) and 9 types of songs by default. Sorcerers knew 34 spells total (not including 0 level). 38 spell + songs > 34 spells. Sorcs had more cantrips then too, much like now. The point is sorcerers had less magical options than bards then too, not just now. Just like then bards had more skill options too they do now. 5e isn't a new precedent here; it combined the features of bards to be more streamlined.
Good point on the bard songs. I think sorcerer probably should still have the least known spells. But (if you take warlock out of the equation for a moment) they lag farther behind proportionately in 5e than they did in 3e. And when you are dealing with such a small number of spells known, every spell counts. My house rule is able to move across a line from too few to acceptable with only 4 spells, and still keep with the fewest known spells of any full-caster. I considered other numbers, and I eventually came up with 4 as the number that feels right, both rationally and intuitively. A question here is: Does anyone feel that adding 4 additional known spells to a sorcerer over the course of 17 levels is too many?

It doesn't matter how many spells a paladin knows if he or she doesn't have the slots available to cast them. That's true for all spell casters.
Here I can't agree at all. Because of how 5e disconnects spells known/prepared from spell slots, knowing more spells gives you a lot of flexibility during the day. The more spell choices you have available to you during the day, the more likely you are to have the right spell for a situation.

Font of magic might be shared with metamagic but it's still an option far beyond paladins or clerics or bards or warlocks or paladins or most druids. Wizards don't fall into that because they all have the short rest renewal but sorcs are better off than most casters in that regard.
Let's say you split your pool in two, with half of it being for Flexible Casting, and half of it being for Metamagic. Now you still have a limited use of your Metamagic features, but you are behind wizard in spell slots per day--which is something sorcerers have traditionally been ahead of wizards in, and which I feel is an essential part of their identity. Requiring taking any sorcery points away from Flexible Casting just to access other features loses part of the identity of the sorcerer. More on that below.

Your comparison of sorcerous insight to magical secrets is misleading because restricting the classes to those classes isn't much of a restriction and bards don't get magical secrets until 10th level. Starting it at first level and then saying it's weaker than the high level bard ability (when it's not really) doesn't hold much water. It's granting 3 spells from almost any class before bards even get the ability.

...

Sorcerous insight is too early. Sorcerer spells known isn't far behind spells prepped or compared to other arcane casters and they are ahead in cantrips. It's high level where they really fall behind and that's fixable by continuing the spells known progression. That seems more suitable to getting the spells known when they would be more applicable to the gap.
I don't disagree that Sorcerous Insight is more powerful than Magical Secrets at lower level. I will say the spell list restriction isn't meaningless though, because there are 74 spells that are available to Magical Secrets but not Sorcerous Insight. When considering which levels to give the feature to sorcerers at, I had a couple of considerations in mind (based on previous attempts that I wasn't entirely happy with). The first was to not give them too many spells too soon. I want to preserve their place of being on the lower end of spells known, so I threw out a previous idea of giving them proficiency bonus (also doesn't play well with multiclassing) or Charisma mod extra spells. The second, and most important, consideration was that the additional spells need to actually be given to them at the levels when they will assist them in filling out their concept. Now that's rather tricky because different concepts need spells at different levels. For instance, in the case of my Black Draconic sorcerer, 1st and 5th level weren't ideal, because he didn't need thematic spells from the 1st or 3rd level spell lists. But there are plenty of character concepts that really could benefit from having the right spell at 1st level. A theme involving nature might want animal friendship or entangle to start, while a character who received their sorcerous powers by being bathed in a healing spring as an infant might want to start out with cure wounds. I basically decided that they need one at 1st and one at 5th so they can get those early defining spells. It seems unfortunate to make them wait until a higher level to get that 1st level spell they may need to express the theme.

Sometimes the theme also looks like trying to eat your cake and have it too. For example, the comparison to 3.5 left out the part that those sorcerers didn't have metamagic by default (wizards had the free feats for it) and in 5e it's rather exclusive to the class. It's like you want to add a past trait and also keep the current upgrades. ;-)
Pretty much all the classes got upgrades, so it's a matter of looking at the overall balance of the classes and seeing how it all works out. I actually do want them to get the new stuff and keep the old stuff, because I think sorcerers aren't properly balanced in 5e (sort of the premise of the topic, lol).

Metamagic addendum is more complex than it needs to be. It also favors high point cost meta's like heighten or twin. Using twin for free on a high level spell seems ridiculous to me. It's becomes more open to abuse as more single-target spells become available, which is compounded by sorcerous insight and one of the reasons given for restricting sorc spells in the first place. Twin is already one of the favorite meta options. Adding CHA mod to sorc points is a better tweak if you think it's needed.

Metamagic affinity seems like it's too much. However, spell mastery is also pretty powerful so if you add affinity the time to do it would be at a similar level.
You're completely right on the complexity. An easier way to do it might be to just give them Arcane Recovery and leave Sorcery Points for Metamagic. But I think the potential benefits of a bit more complexity might be significant enough to warrant consideration.

So let's dig a bit into the balance of features of sorcerers and wizards and see what sorcerer needs. I'll leave out analogous features, or only address the elements where one stands out as more powerful than another. For instance, I won't mention HD or most proficiencies. I'll define features as either providing Flexibility or Power or both. Since I'm assuming my Sorcerous Insight proposal, I'll include it in the list. I'll first start out without including Metamagic at all, since its balance is something to be considered.

Wizard Tradition + Spell Mastery + Signature Spell takes up the same space as Sorcerous Origin + Sorcerous Restoration, but they are not equal in value. If you look at Wizard Traditions and Sorcerous Origins without the features that require the expenditure of Sorcery Points, they are more or less equal (outliers aside). Treating the features that require Sorcery Points as something mostly distinct from the subclass for balance assessments is probably a good idea. Sorcerous Restoration is also rather weak compared to Signature Spell at this point in evaluation.

Arcane Recovery and Font of Magic are equal in their ability to restore spell points. At some levels one is slightly better, and at other levels the other is. Most of the time you can create the same number and level of spell slots with them. As far as creating spell slots, there is neither a power nor flexbility edge to either.

Flexible Casting, when used to burn low level spell slots and create higher level ones is not nearly as good as it's cracked up to be if you start with the adventuring day design assumptions of 6-8 encounters and 2 short rests. From levels 9+ (and it's only worse at lower level), if you blow all your lower level spell slots except for one 4th-level (or your four 1st-level) you can create three additional 5th-level spell slots. That might sound good, but it actually only gives you 4-6 daily 5th-level spell slots (plus a 4th) while the warlock with two short rests has 6-12 5th-level spell slots. That's a pretty big difference--you're turning yourself into a warlock with less spell slots. Sure, if you know there is a major fight that is going to last you long enough to use all of those spell slots you can get some benefit out of it compared to a warlock, but a warlock can get dozens of 5th-level spell slots if they take a bunch of short rests in the day. I'm going to stick with design assumptions of 2 short rests rather than unlimited short rests or a 5MWD. Flexible Casting for converting spell slots into other spell slots is only of marginal usefulness, but I'll include it on the table anyway, since it's still something.

So, with neither Metamagic nor subclass features that require Sorcery Points, here is the current list of balance relevant features:

Wizard & Sorcerer Incomplete
Wizard
Flexibility: Much larger class spell list (110 more spells)
Flexibility: Potentially unlimited personal spellbooks
Flexibility: Up to 8 more spells prepared per day w/o rituals
Flexibility: Excellent Ritual Casting (currently 18 spells, currently up to 6th level)
Power: Ritual Casting (unlimited castings of various non-combat spells)
Power: (High Level) Spell Mastery (unlimited castings of choice of 1st and 2nd level spell)
Power: (High Level) Signature Spell is slightly better than Sorcerous Restoration

Sorcerer
Flexibility: An extra cantrip
Flexibility: Slightly more flexible spell slot configuration options
Flexibility: Up to 4 known spells from a greatly expanded list (196 extra options)
Power: A slightly better good save (Constitution)

You can't really see just how much more flexible the wizard's spells availble in a day is without making a chart, but if they had all of the ritual spells for their level, they would have 9 more spells available than a sorcerer at 1st level, up to 26 more at 20th level, and that is including the extra spells I'm giving sorcerers. The extra spells for sorcerer coming from an expanded spell list seem to work really well here in emphasizing a difference between wizards and sorcerers. Sorcerers have a much more limited number of spells, but they have a broader choice of what a small number of those spells can be.

We definitely need that Metamagic. But before we add it in, I cannot emphasize enough that any usage of Sorcery Points for either Metamagic or subclass features is removing spell slots. It is a Power loss in that area (an area where wizards already dominate, and shouldn't), even while providing a Flexibility gain. The goal then is for Metamagic (and Sorcery Point dependant subclass abilities) to be functional without Sorcery Points, and yet have the option exist to use them more often with Sorcery Points, without having that overpower the class.

Twinned Spell is an outlier when it comes to Metamagic. You can spend more points on it and get greater benefit. It's kind of in a league of its own, so it probably should be treated as such. How about this form of Metamagic addendum:

3rd Level: Metamagic (addendum)
(add after second paragraph)
You can use each metamagic option and subclass feature you possess that requires sorcery points once without spending sorcery points, providing your usage would not cost more than 3 sorcery points. You cannot do so again with this feature until you finish a long rest.

That allows Metamagic (and those select subclass features) to be useful without sorcery points (which is what we're trying to do here). Since Twinned Spell is effectively an enhanced form of mimicking more spell slots, using Sorcery Points to get more powerful effects from it isn't really taking them away from their primary purpose of creating more spell slots. The particular cut off point looks good at 3 points. Let's add those features back into the list of sorcerer features. I'll classify using Sorcery Points to power additional uses of these features as sacrificing spell slots, because we've previously balanced those Sorcery Points as all going to spell slots.

With where we are at now, this Metamagic addendum can only give you up to 6 effective Sorcery Points at levels 3-9, and 8 effective Sorcery Points above that level. That's pretty minor overall. Other than at low level, it's significantly weaker than just granting Arcane Recovery.

Wizard & Sorcerer Reconstituted
Wizard
Flexibility: Much larger class spell list (110 more spells)
Flexibility: Potentially unlimited personal spellbooks
Flexibility: Up to 8 more spells prepared per day w/o rituals
Flexibility: Excellent Ritual Casting (currently 18 spells, currently up to 6th level)
Power: Ritual Casting (unlimited castings of various non-combat spells)
Power: (High Level) Spell Mastery (unlimited castings of choice of 1st and 2nd level spell)
Power: (High Level) Signature Spell is slightly better than Sorcerous Restoration

Sorcerer
Flexibility: An extra cantrip
Flexibility: Slightly more flexible spell slot configuration options
Flexibility: Up to 4 spells from a greatly expanded list (196 extra options)
Flexibility: Metamagic options
Flexibility: Additional subclass features
Flexibility: Can sacrifice spell slots for more Metamagic and subclass feature uses
Power: A slightly better good save (Constitution)
Power: Metamagic options
Power: Additional subclass features

At this point it's pretty subjective how to assess the balance. The wizard features I listed are each (with the exception of the last one) clearly strong features. Some of the sorcerer features I listed are pretty minor--I just put them on there so that they weren't forgotten. Sorcerer seems to be doing okay, though their 1/long rest Metamagic isn't nearly as strong as I was thinking it would be. Without ritual casting at all they just can't stack up to the wizard's unlimited effective spell slots.

I think our best bet here, for both thematic and efficiency purposes, is to give them some at-will Metamagic. Thematically, as much as their "unmatched flexibility" with how they cast their limited spells is touted, it only works a limited number of times a day (even with my Metamagic addendum) and then that whole category of features just goes bye-bye. While most spellcasting features only work until you're out of slots, the wizard's features last that full time and then Ritual Casting still keeps going, while the sorcerer's ability to use Metamagic can (and probably will) run out before their spell slots do, leaving that class-defining set of features absent.

Here is where Sorcerous Affinity is designed to fit, and the balance is a bit tricky. Putting it at 3rd level allows for that thematic feature to immediately kick in, but it needs to limit which options it can apply to. I've gone with Careful Spell, Distant Spell, Extended Spell, and Subtle Spell, since those don't grant a major power increase. They do express flexibility well though. I'd like to add another in at 10th level. I think it might be worthwhile just disqualifying Twinned Spell entirely--since it already functions much like additional spell slots, and that would eliminate any concerns. So at 10th level pick any other one except Twinned to work 1/turn. You still can't apply more than 1/turn unless it's Empowered, I'm I'm going to disallow this feature to work on more than one per turn, so it's free Empowered or free something else. It's worth noting that this feature discourages taking front-loading all of the Metamagics considered most powerful, because you probably want to benefit from this feature, and you are limited in which ones can benefit from it.

At 18th-level Spell Mastery comes online, which is really good. I don't see a problem with giving the sorcerer something good here also. At this point, they have 4 Metamagic options, and can use 2 of them 1/turn and 2 of them 1/long rest. How about moving the 1/long rest ones up to 1/short rest? For perspective, if they didn't have any 1/turn powers, this would grant them a maximum of 27 extra Sorcery Points worth of power once it kicked in, assuming they took all the most expensive options. So a little more than Arcane Recovery (equivalent to an extra 4th-level slot with either Arcane Recovery or Sorcery Points). But instead, we have some select 1/turn powers. I think that might work. 18th-level is competing with sorcerer subclass features, so I think moving it back one level to 17th when they are getting their final metamagic works. Some will object that it makes sorcerers too good to be able to toss out Metamagic like that. But when arguments are made in favor of how good sorcerers are, they almost always assume the sorcerer is tossing out Metmagic like that all the time in a 5MWD--which isn't how the game is intended to be balanced. If sorcerers are at a good balance point tossing out their best Metamagic most rounds in a 5MWD, they they should be balanced tossing out level-gated Metamagic most rounds (your Metamagic still may not apply to a particular spell) in a normal 6-8 encounter, 2 short rests per long rest day.

I'm feeling a pretty good balance here. This sorcerer seems like it should play right. There's one more thing I neglected to do, and I think it should probably be added in--they should get to choose one of their cantrips from another spell list. Here's my revised proposals:

Revised Proposals

1st Level: Sorcerous Insight (new feature)
One of the cantrips you know at 1st level can be chosen from the bard, druid, sorcerer or wizard spell list, and is considered a sorcerer spell for you.
At 1st level, and again at 5th, 9th, and 15th level, your sorcerous insight grants you knowledge of an additional spell. Each of these spells can be chosen from the bard, druid, sorcerer, or wizard spell list. A chosen spell must be of a level you can cast, though you may replace them as normal when you gain a level. These spells are sorcerer spells for you.

3rd Level: Innate Power (new feature)
You can use each metamagic option and subclass feature you possess that requires sorcery points once without spending sorcery points, providing your usage would not cost more than 3 sorcery points. You cannot do so again with this feature until you finish a long rest.
Once you reach 17th level, you regain the ability to use this feature when you finish a short or long rest.

3rd Level: Metamagic Affinity (new feature)
Choose one of the following metamagic options: Careful Spell, Distant Spell, Extended Spell, or Subtle Spell. If you possess this metamagic option, you may use it once per turn without spending sorcery points.
When you reach 10th level, choose any other metamagic option you possess, except for Twinned Spell. You may use either metamagic option, if you possess it, once per turn without spending sorcery points.

That should make a satisfying sorcerer that plays differently from a wizard. If anything, it's even a bit more different from a wizard than the RAW sorcerer. (The simpler version is to replace the second and third abilities with Arcane Recovery of double Sorcery Points, but I think I've given a pretty good reason why I find the extra complexity worth it.)

For some additional thoughts, we could examine what it would do to Draconic fire, and Divine Soul. For Draconic, Sorcerous Insight would let it pick up produce flame and firestorm, great spells for its theme. Innate Power won't boost them anymore than anyone else. They probably aren't going to get a lot out of Metamagic Affinity at 3rd level when it comes to their attack spells, because they'll probably be using something to let them dish out damage, like Quickened or Twinned, or Heightened, along with Empowered. Careful has some utility with Empowered if they want to, otherwise they have encouragement to take something that isn't about direct damage but can make them more interesting. At 10th level they can pick up anything but Twinned, and now most of their Sorcery Point sacrifices will be on the low cost altar of Empowered, leaving them with spell slots so they can do things like cast spells outside of combat. That doesn't seem problematic. It mostly allows them to have more of a magical presence outside of blasting their way through a 5MWD.

A Divine Soul already gets 86 spells added to their regular spell list, so this means that their four additional spells will have 240 extra options (over the standard sorcerer list) instead of 196. This is 62 spell options less than a bard can choose from with Magical Secrets (they don't get the paladin, ranger, or warlock lists), but quite respectable. However, I don't think it's a big problem, since they already had a crazy big spell list. It should work fairly similar to how it will work for other sorcerers, letting them pick up something that might be thematic but otherwise unavailable. Divine Soul is already so insane it's hard to break it more without trying, lol.

As long as this deeper dive took, I think it's worth it. With that dissection, I'm pretty convinced there isn't going to be a power issue (now that Twinned Spell has been curtailed).

Well, that's my current revised proposal.
 
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FrogReaver

Adventurer
@Sword of Spirit

If the draconic sorcerer and the divine soul sorcerer are fine - then doesn't it come to reason that the issue isn't with the base class but with the other subclasses?

Just pointing out a flaw with your reasoning. That said, I tend to think the sorcerer in general could use a little bit more of something - but I don't think the answer is more low level spells known - and if that's the case then the only other core feature we can really do anything with is metamagic.

I think sorcerers can be plenty thematic - it's just strongly themed concepts are never going to be as strong as the take the best spell concepts.
 

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