D&D 5E Sorcerer experiment - your thoughts?

Quickleaf

Legend
Been taking a break from 5e, reading a little Shadowdark and DCC, and finding some of my old notes gave me a new perspective on a direction I'd love to take the Sorcerer if / when I run a 5e campaign again. There are 3 changes I'm evaluating...
  • Making the sorcerer roll-to-cast, with a flavorful (but not overly punitive) miscast table. This plays into the "barely controlled magic" trope to give the sorcerer more of its own niche in the 5e ecosystem, but it is a hit to the sorcerer's overall power, hence the following two changes. Miscast table is a blend of Kelsey's table in Shadowdark, the "scroll mishaps" in DMG, and my own ideas.
  • Overchanneling allowing the sorcerer to cast higher level spells by taking exhaustion. This plays into the "cast themself into an early grave" & "exhausted from too much magic" & "practice fiddly spells" tropes which are rife in fiction but not really represented in D&D. Sorcerer seems a good place for those.
  • Spell Emulation lets the sorcerer see a spell and try to cast it. If you want to get real risky, it can be combined with Overchanneling. This sort of plays into the "learning by doing" trope, and provides a fun unique reaction apart from counterspelling or absorbing elements. When combined with the other features & other spell lists it has potential for strong storytelling moments.
What are your thoughts? Is it an interesting direction to go? Are there pitfalls to this approach? Would you play in a game where the sorcerer was house-ruled along these lines?

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TwoSix

Dirty, realism-hating munchkin powergamer
I like the general idea quite a bit. I'd probably make the following changes if I were running it.

1) I'd make mishap table have some beneficial mishaps, on ether 11-12 or 10-12. Make it so that the sorcerer doesn't feel quite so bad if they roll it.

2) I would only use Overchannel with the OneD&D version of exhaustion, not current 5e. It'll end up being like Berserker Frenzy, no one will use it otherwise. I would require them to spend their max level slot + a number of sorcery points equal to the level difference of the overchannel, though.

3) I like the "Overchannel grants you a soft spells known". Personally, I'd extend that concept and actually give them a higher "Spells Known" limit (maybe 1.5 to 2 per level), but they only learn 1 per level (extra at 1st), and have to fill the remainder with Overchannels and Spell Emulation. I'd let them learn off-class list spells that way (or maybe just not give them a class list).
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Reminds me of the Incantatrix which is a class I liked, some of the misfires like Harmonic backlash and poof might be too dependent on DM fiat, but otherwise I like it
 

bostonmyk

Explorer
I'd play a character like this single, solo but not within a group. The problem is some of the risk is being taken on by the group rather than just the sorcerer. Even if you delete the friendly fire impacts-a sorcerer that goes poof leaves the group one short.

M
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
Love it. Here's how I went for a more ''chaotic sorcerer''

  • Use spell points
  • No spell known, use Reckless Casting from Invention Wizard instead. The spell tables are made from any list, and 1 spell per table can be swapped on level up.
  • Gain a ''sorcerous attack'' depending on their Origin at level 1 that scales ala Eldritch blast.
  • Gain Spell Secret at lvl 2 (UA Invention wizard) to change damage type and saves from a spell.
  • Gain ''spell thief'' ala Arcane Trickster at 5th level, prof/day.
  • Gain gain Alchemical Casting (UA Invention wizard) at 7th , letting them spend more point on a spell to increase one parameter.
  • At 10th level, you gain the UA Mystic's Psionic Mastery, gaining a bunch of spell points as an action to mix'n match some spells to create your own, 1/2/3 times per day.
  • At 20, Arcane Apotheosis gives you that:

You gain resistance to bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing damage.
You no longer age.
You are immune to disease, poison damage, and the poisoned condition.
If you die, roll a d20. On a 10 or higher, you discorporate with 0 hit points, instead of dying, and you fall unconscious. You and your gear disappear. You appear at a spot of your choice 1d3 days later on the plane of existence where you died, having gained the benefits of one long rest.
 

Quickleaf

Legend
I like the general idea quite a bit. I'd probably make the following changes if I were running it.

1) I'd make mishap table have some beneficial mishaps, on ether 11-12 or 10-12. Make it so that the sorcerer doesn't feel quite so bad if they roll it.

2) I would only use Overchannel with the OneD&D version of exhaustion, not current 5e. It'll end up being like Berserker Frenzy, no one will use it otherwise. I would require them to spend their max level slot + a number of sorcery points equal to the level difference of the overchannel, though.

3) I like the "Overchannel grants you a soft spells known". Personally, I'd extend that concept and actually give them a higher "Spells Known" limit (maybe 1.5 to 2 per level), but they only learn 1 per level (extra at 1st), and have to fill the remainder with Overchannels and Spell Emulation. I'd let them learn off-class list spells that way (or maybe just not give them a class list).
I appreciate your feedback, TwoSix!

1) I like the idea of adding a beneficial mishap or two. I'm open to suggestions! What about a mixed benefit/hindrance like this...

"12. Unstable conduit! You have disadvantage on your rolls to cast for 1 minute. However, any spell you cast in that time is randomly upcast 1d4 levels (without increasing the DC to cast)."


2) Yeah, that makes sense. What I might do is make exhaustion default but let caster expend Sorcery Points to negate it. Like this...

"Overchannel. You may attempt to cast sorcerer spells beyond your normal ability. You must expend a total number of spell slots equal to the level of the spell you're attempting, using your highest spell slots first. For each level above the maximum spell level you can cast, you suffer a level of exhaustion after casting the spell. If casting the spell would take you below six level of exhaustion, you cannot attempt the spell – it is beyond even your power. You may expend Sorcery Points equal to the difference between the spell's level and the highest spell level you can normally cast to negate this exhaustion.

Additionally, you suffer a penalty on your roll to cast equal to the spell’s level.

If you successfully cast the spell, you must add that spell to your Spells Known when you are of high enough level to select it (effectively you’re “practicing” the higher level spell). Because a sorcerer only gets 15 Spells Known, this creates a soft limit to how often times you can Overchannel.

For example, an 8th level sorcerer with 18 Charisma tries to cast reverse gravity, a 7th level spell when they can only cast 4th level spells. They expend a 4th level spell slot and a 3rd level spell slot. They suffer a -3 penalty on their DC 17 roll to cast, giving them a net roll of d20 + 4, or a 40% chance of success. Regardless of the outcome they suffer 3 levels of exhaustion, unless they expend 3 Sorcery Points."


3) Absolutely! I still have to figure out how to implement that "learning by doing" idea so it's not too burdensome on the player, but I like your suggestions.
 

Stalker0

Legend
My thoughts:

Mishaps: So you need to be careful with these, the second you create a % chance that the sorc can no longer "do their job" in combat, you seriously cut in to the effectiveness of the class. I would recommend two key guidelines here:

  • The spell always does what it is supposed to do. Now that doesn't mean it can have some additional negatives, or some lashback, or things like that. But....never actually make the sorcerer spend an action and do nothing (or even worse, do nothing and hurt themselves).
  • Mishaps should not hurt your party members: Who the heck would ever want to adventure with someone who might blow up at any moment and kill them? (this is the number 1 issue with the wild sorc, they can drop a fireball on their party at 1st level and TPK the whole group....not ok).

Overchannel: The fact that they can cast any sorc spell higher than them is actually seriously cool, not just for the power, but for the versatility. You might consider adding the ability to use sorc spells of a level you can cast, but not ones you know. One of the few things that triggers an exhaustion that is honestly worth the effort. That said, I don't see any reason to force a player to put this on their list, that creates needless tracking and pigeonholing. This sorc is chaotic, sure they cast that reverse gravity that one time but when their powers matured they actually got crown of stars or whatever. Nothing wrong with that as far as I'm concerned. Why force the player to play a certain way, let them enjoy the flexibility that their very expensive exhaustion cost grants them.

Spell Emulation: Does this work with higher level spells as well? (in which case its need to be noted about the overchannel penalties), or can they literally just cast any spell they have seen?
 


mamba

Legend
1) I'd make mishap table have some beneficial mishaps, on ether 11-12 or 10-12. Make it so that the sorcerer doesn't feel quite so bad if they roll it.
agreed, I would definitely have negative, neutral (something different happens) and positive effects based on the result.

Personally I’d probably roll in caster level and spell level as well, so low level spells tend to get stronger when cast by experienced magic users. Never formalized this though
 

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