D&D 5E Turning full-casters into half-casters

cbwjm

Legend
I came up with this idea when looking through the Even More Magic & Mayhem d20 fan made book for the WoW RPG while looking for ideas for my adaptation of the WoW shaman. In this book, one of the ideas was to turn the shaman into something like a 3e version of the paladin or ranger with increased attack bonus and reduced spellcasting. As it turns out, the 5e fan made book also had a similar idea.

Ideally, a subclass choice would be made at 1st level, however, there is minimal disruption for those classes that gain a subclass at levels 2 and 3, with only the bard having a slight advantage by having 3 1st-level spell slots at level 2, whereas a cleric, druid, sorcerer, or wizard reduced caster would only have 2 1st-level spell slots.

What they lose:
  • Full-casting. These spellcasters gain improved toughness and martial ability at the cost of being limited to a maximum of 5th level spells.
What they gain:
  • These spellcasters gain 2 extra subclass levels, essentially to increase their combat effectiveness at levels 5 and 11, in addition to any other subclass level abilities. These would normally be Extra Attack at 5th level, and another damage increase at 11th (something like improved divine smite).
  • They gain increased toughness. Normally 1 hit point/level (retroactive) taking them up to the average hit points of the next highest hit die, without changing hit die size.
  • They might gain armour proficiencies. This isn't always necessary, though as a rule of thumb, gain the next highest armour proficiency from the base class. A wizard or sorcerer might gain light armour, a bard might gain medium armour and shields, a cleric might gain heavy armour.
  • They might gain weapon proficiencies. Some classes will need this more than others (such as wizards and sorcerers)
What they keep:
  • You keep the same cantrip progression of the base class.
  • You keep all other features of the base class. A sorcerer who takes this path would gain metamagic and sorcery points at the same rate as a regular sorcerer.
What I like about using reduced spellcasting is that it can open up new avenues of subclass creation. While I'd like a fighter/mage full class, I can now take the wizard and change it up to be a half-caster and create a subclass with a little more of a martial boost to compensate for the lost spell capacity. About the only thing which I don't like, is that different classes gain their subclasses at different levels, leading to some differences in spell slots at lower levels as summarised in the table below. For instance, a 2nd level bard has 3 slots when compared to the wizard or sorcerer half-caster, for instance, even if the bard player intends to take a reduced casting subclass.

LevelFull caster
Spell Slots
Subclass level 1 (cleric, sorcerer)Subclass level 2, (druid, wizard)Subclass level 3 (bard)
1st2nd1st1st1st
12-222
23-223
342333

As an example, if moving a bladesinger to this reduced casting rate, they might end up looking something like the following.
Level 2: Bladesong, performance skill, Reduced Spellcasting, light armour, weapon proficiency (proficient weapons count as arcane focus), +1 hit point/level
Level 5: Extra Attack+
Level 6: Training in Sword and Spell (add any enhancement bonus from weapon to spell attack rolls)
Level 10: Song of Defence
Level 11: Song of Victory (moved to level 11)
Level 14: Greater Bladesong (what is it? who knows, but as the capstone it is likely awesome)


I know 5e in general doesn't like to take things away, however, I think this half-casting swap could lead to some great new subclasses.
 
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aco175

Legend
I would have liked a better rogue/caster over Arcane Trickster (AT). Being limited to certain schools of spells gives the class a feel, but not the one I wanted for my PC.

I would like to see all the classes also have a features for a subclass that could be picked at 3rd level. I think it would beat multiclassing to have a 10th level fighter/mage over a 5th level fighter / 5th level mage.
 

cbwjm

Legend
I would have liked a better rogue/caster over Arcane Trickster (AT). Being limited to certain schools of spells gives the class a feel, but not the one I wanted for my PC.

I would like to see all the classes also have a features for a subclass that could be picked at 3rd level. I think it would beat multiclassing to have a 10th level fighter/mage over a 5th level fighter / 5th level mage.
Warlock's additional pact selection is a great part of the class since it allows warlocks with the same patron to feel a little different.

With my reduced casting changes, you could technically choose any subclass and mix it up a little if you didnt want to create a whole new subclass to make use of the changes.. A necromancer could become a Deathknight, for example.
 

I came up with this idea when looking through the Even More Magic & Mayhem d20 fan made book for the WoW RPG while looking for ideas for my adaptation of the WoW shaman. In this book, one of the ideas was to turn the shaman into something like a 3e version of the paladin or ranger with increased attack bonus and reduced spellcasting. As it turns out, the 5e fan made book also had a similar idea.


As an example, if moving a bladesinger to this reduced casting rate, they might end up looking something like the following.
Level 2: Bladesong, performance skill, Reduced Spellcasting, light armour, weapon proficiency (proficient weapons count as arcane focus), +1 hit point/level
Level 5: Extra Attack+
Level 6: Training in Sword and Spell (add any enhancement bonus from weapon to spell attack rolls)
Level 10: Song of Defence
Level 11: Song of Victory (moved to level 11)
Level 14: Greater Bladesong (what is it? who knows, but as the capstone it is likely awesome)


I know 5e in general doesn't like to take things away, however, I think this half-casting swap could lead to some great new subclasses.
It is an interesting idea, but dropping from full casting to half casting is generally a big step down in power.

How does your bladesinger compare with the standard bladesinger or a fighter of equivalent level for example?
 

cbwjm

Legend
Something I forgot to note in the opening post is level 7. Full-casters don't generally get a class feature at level 7 since they gain 4th-level spells. It's probably not going to be a major loss if you don't add anything here, however, I'd suggest adding in something that boosts the social or exploration pillar. This could be as simple as including a list of skills that they can select a skill from to help round out their abilities, so that the bladesinger might gain the choice of history, persuasion, or acrobatics (or any other skill if already known). You might also want to grant expertise to any known skill to give them a little more of a boost.
 

cbwjm

Legend
It is an interesting idea, but dropping from full casting to half casting is generally a big step down in power.

How does your bladesinger compare with the standard bladesinger or a fighter of equivalent level for example?
Maybe this bladsinger is slightly less strong than a full-caster wizard or a single classed fighter, but if a player was having fun with it, then I'd have no worries. Also, play-testing allows any issues to be ironed out. If I found that they were drastically under performing, then I'd look at adjusting the bonus this change grants further.
 

TwoSix

Unserious gamer
  • These spellcasters gain 2 extra subclass levels, essentially to increase their combat effectiveness at levels 5 and 11, in addition to any other subclass level abilities. These would normally be Extra Attack at 5th level, and another damage increase at 11th (something like improved divine smite).
They probably need additional abilities at their initial subclass levels (1-3), especially for wizards and sorcerers. Armor and weapon proficiencies, for sure, and then at least one more decent feature, perhaps something like Fighting Style. Not having your 2nd level spells for Tier 1 is painful.
  • They gain increased toughness. Normally 1 hit point/level (retroactive) taking them up to the average hit points of the next highest hit die, without changing hit die size.
I'd probably make it +2 for the d6 classes (so everyone is d10 equivalent), but yea, this should be baseline.
  • They might gain armour proficiencies. This isn't always necessary, though as a rule of thumb, gain the next highest armour proficiency from the base class. A wizard or sorcerer might gain light armour, a bard might gain medium armour and shields, a cleric might gain heavy armour.
Medium armor and shield should be the baseline; heavy armor if you want the subclass to be able to be Str oriented.
  • They might gain weapon proficiencies. Some classes will need this more than others (such as wizards and sorcerers)
Yea, I'd just make martial weapons standard. Every gish-type subclass hands that out like candy, no reason not to.
 

cbwjm

Legend
They probably need additional abilities at their initial subclass levels (1-3), especially for wizards and sorcerers. Armor and weapon proficiencies, for sure, and then at least one more decent feature, perhaps something like Fighting Style. Not having your 2nd level spells for Tier 1 is painful.
Good idea, for my enhancement shaman that follows this method, I granted a fighting style. There was only a couple of choices, mostly because I was trying to keep to the original WoW shaman weapon theme.

I'd probably make it +2 for the d6 classes (so everyone is d10 equivalent), but yea, this should be baseline.
Sort of in between on this one. On the one hand, the +1 hit point brings them up to the average of a fighter-wizard and their spells can be devastating or even game-changing but then the loss of 6th and higher level slots and the slower access to their spell slots might warrant it.
Medium armor and shield should be the baseline; heavy armor if you want the subclass to be able to be Str oriented.
Good idea, I think I might update my notes so that medium armour and shields are baseline, and I think I'll add heavy armour to those who already have those. So a battle cleric would gain heavy armour, though this might be on a case by case basis.

Yea, I'd just make martial weapons standard. Every gish-type subclass hands that out like candy, no reason not to.
You're right martial weapons is probably fine to add, thematically a bladesinger, for instance, might not need to have proficiency with mauls, but it isn't going to hurt for them to have it.
 

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