Unearthed Arcana Unearthed Arcana Takes On Theurgy & War Magic

In the latest Unearthed Arcana from WotC's Mike Mearls and Jeremy Crawford, the wizard gets another look. This week's short two-page PDF includes two Arcane Traditions - Theurgy (wizards with divine patrons) and War Magic (wizards who use evocation and abjuration in combat). "After releasing the 28-page mystic last week, we have a short Unearthed Arcana installment this week: two Arcane Tradition options for the wizard. The Theurgy tradition has appeared in Unearthed Arcana before, but this time we’d like to gather playtest feedback on it. War Magic is an option we’re exploring after reading your feedback on Lore Mastery and seeing interest in a war mage option."


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Russ Morrissey

Russ Morrissey

Dire Bare

Legend
Not seeing much love for the Theurge, including complaints Wizards are getting too much love.

In the history of the D&D game, there have been many popular "subclasses" (in various rules incarnations) of the Wizard that haven't even been touched on yet. The Theurge is one of them, as the "Mystic Theurge" in 3E. It is intended to blend the Wizard and Cleric. I'm liking the version they are giving us so far, but of course, some real playtesting rather than armchair quarterbacking should toughen up the archetype a bit. The War Mage is another, also from 3E, and again seems good. I'm liking both archetypes so far.
 

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LapBandit

First Post
Just like every wizard option outside of the PHB, I won't allow full casters any more power (except for the warlock) until martial characters are made more powerful.
 


Eubani

Hero
Just like every wizard option outside of the PHB, I won't allow full casters any more power (except for the warlock) until martial characters are made more powerful.
I think increased utility/agency + number of available options is what you are trying to get across or do you believe that martial characters do not have enough raw power? They are certainly falling short on the flavour front.
 

jrowland

First Post
Mechanics and Balance aside, one could name the various Domain Theurge Wizards along the lines of:


  • Light Order - Magic Order dedicated to the Lore of Light (Life Domain)
  • Celestial Order - Magic Order dedicated to the Lore of the Heavens (Knowledge Domain)
  • Gold Order - Magic Order dedicated to the Lore of Metal (Is there design space for an alchemy like domain?)
  • Jade Order - Magic Order dedicated to the Lore of Life (Nature Domain - or maybe Circle of the Land Druid....)
  • Amber Order - Magical Order dedicated to the Lore of Beasts (Nature Domain - or Maybe Circle of the Moon druid...)
  • Bright Order - Magical Order dedicated to the Lore of Fire (Light Domain)
  • Grey Order - Magical Order dedicated to the Lore of Shadows (trickery Domain)
  • Amethyst Order - Magical Order dedicated to the Lore of Death (Death Domain)

In any event, a Warhammer - 5E D&D crossover is doable, despite being blasphemous and prone to burning by witch hunters....
 


Chaosmancer

Legend
So, from what I can see the Theurge is exactly the same, with exactly the same problems.

The Wizard gets the cleric's capstone first, because the beloved servant of the Gods is less beloved than the wizard I guess (Really, it's because of the spacing of the subclasses, wizards have all their own stuff going on 17-20 so their subclasses end at 14, but it is still bad design)

In a High magic setting like Faerun, the "trade off" of learning cleric spells instead of wizard ones could be non-existant, because the Wizard can just learn by buying new spells or copying from another wizard's book while using their level ups to pick the cleric clean.

And the cardinal sin, it is boring. All your abilities are the same abilities as another class, you just happen to also be a wizard.


Now, Warmagic is new.

First thing I notice, War Mages are the best at Concentration checks. Concentration checks are Constitution saving throws so Arcane Deflection and Durable Magic both apply, giving them a +6 to the check before con mod and war caster get brought into the mix.

The potential for +4 AC isn't bad either to avoid the hit in the first place.

Tactical Wit makes some sense, so why not.

Power Surge I'm not sure about. It seems very good, once per short rest your AOE spell is counted as 2 levels higher, which could be devastating as an opening move.

Again though, this is a bit boring. Better AC and saves are nice, more damage is okay, but these don't really change the nature of the beast like other traditions do, so I'm not sure if War Mage is worth taking over Bladesinger or Evoker, or really anything else.

I am glad it seems that the Lore Wizard is either gone or being heavily edited though.
 

Regarding the Theurge, I don't consider Light and Knowledge domains 'especially appropriate', more like 'especially stupid' choices. Maybe alternate spell school traditions, as those in the PHB, would be interesting? All traditions should compete with Evocation (actually Sculpt Spell) and Divination (actually Portent), as they're simply inferior. There are tons that could be done with the Wizard, not sure why it's considered so good really. Though Sculpt Spell, and to a lesser extent Portent, are great.
 

MarkChevallier

First Post
If a Theurge takes the Tempest domain, they can maximise lightning bolt damage. +20 damage per opponent for using a divine channeling (+2.5/spell level thereafter). That's extremely snacky, verging on too good.

EDIT: +35 damage/target on a Chain Lightning.
 
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. It seem the old Wizard that lives by the sea has a bit of bias that he cannot seem to throw. We get it WotC you love wizards .
They're not 'Sorcerers of the Seaside,' 'Fighters of the Fjord,' 'Warlords of the Warf,' or 'Rangers of the Riparian Ecosystem.'
 
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LapBandit

First Post
The whole system is stacked against you if you can't cast spells. There's a reason Curse of Strahd and Storm King's Thunder end at 10th level. 11th level is 6th level spells and having to design worlds that have to take them into account.

Arcane Gate, Circle of Death, Flesh to Stone, Magic Jar, Mass Suggestion, and on and on. Hell Banishment of a creature that's burned it's Legendary Resistances can trivialize a fight.
 

maceochaid

Explorer
Part of me was hoping that the UA for wizards was just going to consist of new spells instead of subclasses. I'm pretty satisfied with the arcane traditions in core, but new spells are always appreciated.

War wizard seems okay. Each of it's powers is good but not great. I find it overall a bit boring narrative wise to justify it getting included in a hardcover.

Theurge seems the same from last time I remember it. Something was probably reworked to not be as broken as the last but I can't seem to recall the details to see the difference. Getting access to cleric spells and channel divinity still feels a bit too good.

Thank you! Why are we only getting archetypes? It is not the be all and end all mechanic. Please give us something else. Also, if you can’t think of anything interesting for a new archetype (and a clerics abilities smashed onto a wizard means you can’t think of anything) Than no more wizard archetypes!
 


Leatherhead

Possibly a Idiot.
Theurgy

It's back, this time up for review. This subclass is worst offender in the "Taking the Cleric's flavor and stuff" category.

Divine Inspiration

You gain access to a cleric domain. Some domains are better than others, obviously.
It's worth noting this basically makes the Theurgy into 9 different subclasses.
No wait, scratch that, it makes it 9+ subclasses, including any new cleric subclass that ever gets printed from here on out. This is a bit crazy. I know they have a Core+1 book limit when making characters for public play, but still.

PHB:
Knowledge
Life
Light
Nature
Tempest
Trickery
War

DMG:
Death

SCAG:
Arcana

UA:
Forge
Grave
Protection

Arcane Initiate
In theory, you get access to your domains spells on level up. Some domains offer picks normally available to the Wizard, some provide opportunities to branch out, and a few of them offer spells at different levels than a Wizard would normally get them. However: Should you run out of domain spells to pick (by having already known them), you can instead learn any Cleric spell. Which makes this ability really crazy, considering you are going to be able to easily get all of the domain spells. 2nd, 4th, 6th, and 8th level spells aren't even granted by domains, yet the Wizard can still learn them, because this ability works every time they get a level. Another quirk: You know the spells, but you don't have them prepared at all times like a real Cleric would.

Knowledge domain offers a bunch of redundancy with the wizard spell list, allowing them to start out and top off by picking any cleric spells they want. Contrast with Life Domain which strait up gives spells that no other wizard would ever have access too. Heck, Nature Domain features spells that aren't even on the cleric list to begin with, giving the wizard access to three different spell lists.

Channel Arcana
This is an interesting one, you effectively gain the Channel Divinity power of your Domain. Unfortunately, some of these powers use math that ties directly with your Cleric level, not Wizard level. Making the Divinity power range from absolutely useless to really good.

However, you also get a power that gives you a +2 bonus to an attack roll or save DC, which is amazing.

Arcane Acolyte
Now you get the rest of the benefits that a level 1 cleric would have gotten, except for armor/weapon proficiency. You can still get other proficencies, just not those. Of note: A lot of these powers tie into your Wisdom Score, which most Wizards don't prioritize.

Arcane Priest
At level 10, you get the level 6 powers. This is even more varied than what you could get at level 2. But at least most of them work properly without being a dedicated Cleric.

Arcane High Priest
At level 14, you get the level 17 feature of a Cleric. It's not just a slap in the face to all the people playing a normal Cleric out there, it grants t4 powers at t3 of play.

Thoughts:
This subclass is just badly designed, and I don't like saying that. It's lazy, in that it just copy-pastes every Cleric domain over to the Wizard with a few, almost superficial, tweaks. It doesn't take into account what should be obvious problems (any call for Cleric Levels in a calculation). The way it handles gaining Cleric spells is perhaps one of the most egregious bits of system mastery I have seen in years. The capstone is something that could have mechanically worked in a system where all capstones were gained at the same level, but even there it would be questionable due to taking the one of the Cleric's few remaining defining features.

War Magic

I'm not sure if there was actual demand for this, or if this was a result of misinterpreting everyone realizing the Lore wizard needed to be stripped of like half of it's power before it could be a viable option.

Arcane Deflection
On the surface, it's a weak variation of Shield on demand. However it can be used to save the spell you are concentrating on, so that's nice. I don't think it's better than Sculpt Spells or Bladesong, which are gained by the two schools that are the most likely to be in direct competition for this character concept.

Tactical Wit
A +5 bonus to initiative is hands down better than most of the Savant abilities, and probably better than having light armor most of the time.

Power Surge
Extra minion killing power once per short rest. Good for action economy, but not so good for killing bosses. Hands down better than Extra Attack, arguably better than Potent Cantrip (though that might change if they make more evocation cantrips that benefit from it)

Durable Magic
Add +2 AC and your saving throws while you maintain concentration. This is really nice, especially considering it stacks with your Deflection. Empowered Evocation isn't nearly as good, but Song of Defense might be on par.

Deflecting Shroud
This is a little disappointing. Granted, you can hit lots of creatures with this ability, but it's for 10 max damage (7, when you get it), and you have to be in harms way to get anything out of it. That said, it's still better than Song of Victory, though I would absolutely rather have Overchannel.

Thoughts:
In the highly contested niche of "fighting wizard", this school fairs better than the Evoker (but what doesn't really?) And lags behind the Bladesinger. It still has a place if you aren't an elf (or your DM doesn't let you ignore that silly restriction). But over all, I don't think we really needed it. and I would have preferred them to take a second crack at the Loremaster, who absolutely needs such a thing.
 


LapBandit

First Post
Which is really weird once you realize they have designed more Cleric Domains than Wizard Schools.

People just love to hate the Wizard.

Take two seconds to consider why that is. At any level above 8th their spells can one shot deadly encounters in some way. I've played a wizard to 11th and DMed for 3 over that level, there are very few classes you have to plan a counter for at higher level beyond wizards.
 

Which is really weird once you realize they have designed more Cleric Domains than Wizard Schools.
Clerics also getting a lot of 'love?' Shocking, that, from the company that brought us CoDzilla.

More seriously, the Cleric was wildly unpopular for a long while, and every edition starting with 2e tried to make it more fun/interesting and/or less onerous - and often just made it overpowered.
 

Dualazi

First Post
Huh. On the one hand, I'm not happy to see more wizard material. On the other, I like that they're going back and refining the more contentious classes.

Theurgy –

Arcane Initiate: Annoying to those who want to play a legit hybrid of the two classes because you have to fill out all your domain spells before picking and choosing, and overpowered from then on due to being able to cherry-pick with impunity.

Arcane Acolyte: Meh. More cleric pilfering but somehow armor and weapons cross the line.

Arcane Priest: More of the same. Given that some of these (like the UA forge priest) are built around the assumption of having armor/weapons this is more niche than one might initially assume.

Arcane High Priest: hahaha, is WotC serious right now? A wizard’s study grants them subclass-finishing talents earlier than the person being directly empowered by their god. Just wow, there’s stepping on someone’s toes, and then there’s a crowbar to the ankle.

I was already pretty predisposed to dislike the theurge before this, and this may have actually made that worse. This isn’t a fusion of the magic types, it’s a return to wizards being given carte Blanche to intrude into other class’ design space, in some ways better than the original class itself.

That being said, I can’t in all honesty say that this is truly imbalanced, I’m just tired of seeing the wizard being favored all the damn time.

War Magic –

Arcane Deflection: Pretty neat. The stipulation of cantrip-only and using a reaction make this seem fair.

Tactical Wit: Also fine. Kinda wish int to init was the baseline for the game, but I’ll take what I can get.

Power Surge: Simple nova option but it works. This is more or less the force damage option from the Lore Wizard tied to a short rest.

Durable Magic: Really good. In fact, I could see this going into “too good” territory for a late-game build of EK and War Mage, but that’s pretty niche. In more practical terms it synergizes well with Arcane Deflection.

Deflecting Shroud: More synergy and finally some more damage. Inconsistent though, since you really still want to avoid taking melee shots.

This one is…odd. I really like the basic design of it, but I’m confused as to how this is a war mage, since it really comes off as more of an abjurer, than anything*. Only one feature actually amps up offensive magic at all, and it’s fairly generic. I think that this would have been a much stronger option to put out in place of the bladesinger if they gave the war mage some weapon proficiencies and a second attack. As it stands, the synergy is really neat and I like what they’re going for, but it seems weak due to the fact that you still want to avoid melee/taking hits (because you’re bad at it still) but that’s the majority of the subclasses’ focus.

*I know it mentions abjuration specifically but it seems really focused on it, and on the self specifically. It doesn’t rearrange the battlefield for either friend or foe, it’s just designed for self-sufficiency.

In summary I'm not super enthused with either offering. Theurgy seems phoned in, pilfering as much as it can from another class in place of something new, and war mage is fine balance wise but seems to have identity issues.
 

cbwjm

Legend
Theurgy
Channel Arcana
This is an interesting one, you effectively gain the Channel Divinity power of your Domain. Unfortunately, some of these powers use math that ties directly with your Cleric level, not Wizard level. Making the Divinity power range from absolutely useless to really good.

However, you also get a power that gives you a +2 bonus to an attack roll or save DC, which is amazing.


I'd say that would be an oversight and that they will, hopefully, clarify that in the future if this makes it into publication. Currently, if a player wanted to try it out, I would use their wizard level. I'd keep powers which use wisdom to determine bonuses to continue to use wisdom.

I feel like I'm the only one on these boards that actually like the theurgy subclass.
 

unknowable

Explorer
Arcane Gate, Circle of Death, Flesh to Stone, Magic Jar, Mass Suggestion, and on and on. Hell Banishment of a creature that's burned it's Legendary Resistances can trivialize a fight.

I agree with you on the whole, but out of those you mentioned only Magic Jar is really that much of an issue unless the party is up against unintelligent or prepared foes.
A good GM would never have the enemies exist in stasis until the party decides to act.

On top of this enemies have access to the same options :).

I suppose my background in 3.5 and Pathfinder makes me scoff at the idea that any of this being too much trouble to deal with.
 

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