D&D General Using interchangeable power sources for the Sorcerer, Warlock, Paladin and more. (+)

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
This thought started from a warlock concept i was thinking about, I had wanted to make an Archfey patron but the bonus spells for that weren’t all that great to go full in on the concept, ‘what I really want’ I thought ‘is a warlock that just uses the druid spell list’ and then I thought ‘why just the warlock?’

So here I am posing the concept to people: what if each primary class for arcane, divine and primal spellcasters, wizard, cleric and druid respectfully, their spell lists were the basis for other classes to use? The classes that instead of having the full list of spells and a ton of spellslots, focus on instead having different mechanical chassis to apply them with?

Imagine a paladin who instead of a god granting them their magic (because honestly we’ve been drifting further and further away from that concept) found their oath sparked a connection to arcane magic within themselves and used that to power their smites,
A sorcerer who has the touch of fey in their bloodline, who instead of flinging arcane fireballs are casting spike growth and summoning creatures with their connection to the planet and nature,
The warlock who made a deal for power, not with some demon or eldritch god but a divine one, who gives them their powers to protect and heal,
A ranger who explored areas crackling with wild arcane magic and learned from that instead of the traditional connection to the land.

They would still a small list of their fundamental ‘iconic spells of X class’ warlock’s eldritch blast, paladin’s smites, ranger’s hunter’s mark and so on but the core bulk of the rest of their spell lists could vary depending on what flavour you wanted them to have.

I just wondered what other people would think of this concept? Is it good? Discuss politely please if you do.
 

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Steampunkette

Rules Tinkerer and Freelance Writer
Supporter
For me... it's a pretty great idea and I already do it to various degrees.

But.

The -rest- of the class often makes it stumble. You used the Paladin as an example so Lay on Hands. Arcane casters (other than Bards who, really, should be considered Occult in my opinion) don't get healing magic, but one of the most basic features of the Paladin is a healing effect. Divine Health. Sacred Oath. Cleansing Touch.

The class is built from the ground up to fulfill a specific "Fighting Priest" identity for D&D that doesn't quite fit in with, say, a Spellblade.

Which is why 5e throws arcane spellcasting at the Fighter and Rogue who don't have those particular impediments. Heck, even the Arcane Archer isn't offered up to the Ranger, arguably the closest thing to an "Archer Class" as 5e has, but instead gets sent to the Fighter.

And that design is even stronger in A5e, where class identity gets cranked up even harder with their social and exploration abilities.

It requires a lot of refluffing and a little suspension of mechanics, more than some players are willing to go along with.
 

Blue

Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal
The spell lists are both a major differentiator between classes, and part of the class balance. For example Wizards get little in class features but get the largest list and features like preparation and their unique ritual use to leverage that.

A class like the cleric where the chassis gives a lot more would end up being a lot more powerful. Compare these two - the d6 HP wizard chassis with few features vs. the d8 HP, armored, cleric class with a good amount of features and the ability to prepare from their entire spell list.

Or compare wizard with wizard list to wizard with sorcerer list - it's pretty much a direct downgrade, the sorcerer list is a subset of the wizard list for the most part.

The lists are more than just thematic. Allowing other classes to swap them in will change the power levels of the class.

So, how can we manage this in a way that will allow thematic changes without nerfing or buffing a class too much.

Least work way would be to look at the existing spell lists and put them into categories that can be freely exchanged. The one you were looking at, warlock for druid, probably can be exchanged freely - both have a some unique spells for them that give unique feels, but they aren't particularly huge like the wizard list.

Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Bard, Warlock - are they in the same category of spell lists or split into more than one? Sorcerer is less spells than something like Bard, but Bard has a lack of variety in so many spells targeting Wisdom and so many of their core spells requiring Concentration.

The ranger list and the paladin list are also probably of the same category, smaller than the others. But they don't go to 9th, so I'm not sure how

And the wizard is the granddaddy with the biggest and most diverse list, too big to just swap to another class. But we do have a potential fix for the wizard list when we look at the spell lists of the Eldritch Knight and the Arcane Trickster subclasses. They give out two school from the Wizard list. Perhaps swapping out Paladin/Ranger could give three schools, and swapping out higher categories can give out more. This isn't perfect - some schools have lots of spells, and I think some schools don't even have a spell in every level. But it gives us a baseline to play with.
 

Jer

Legend
Supporter
I actually like this idea because while I love the warlock and sorcerer in play I actually think that the warlock is more of a background than a class. You get magic from a pact with X feels like it could be mechanically an arcane caster, a divine caster, or a primal caster (to pull in some 4e terminology) depending on what X is. Or even a psionic caster if X is some Ancient Aberrant or other powerful psychic creature (like the kalashtar from Eberron could be considered a kind of psionic "warlock"). A paladin is basically a warlock except they made their pact with either a god (traditional) or some kind of fundamental concept that powers their magic (which is how I take the current iteration of the paladin with their Oaths).

Sorcerer suffers from a similar issue in that the idea that they trace their lineage back to something that powers their magics is a great concept, but should have very different types of powers if they're tracing it back to a fey or an Aberration than if it's a demon or a dragon.

In the 4e Dark Sun setting they added the idea of a "Theme" to a character that was something that wasn't covered by the usual race/class dynamic. The Dark Sun Templar became a Theme that you could attach to other character classes. That's what the warlock/sorcerer/paladin type character feels like to me - like it's not so much a class as a background or "theme" to the character and that maybe having another layer beyond race/class/background would have been the right way to go to have those character types.
 

This thought started from a warlock concept i was thinking about, I had wanted to make an Archfey patron but the bonus spells for that weren’t all that great to go full in on the concept, ‘what I really want’ I thought ‘is a warlock that just uses the druid spell list’ and then I thought ‘why just the warlock?’
My warlock of Babayaga was a fey pact that took divine soul sorcerer levels and the magic adept 'druid' feat to make her feel more like a druid/warlock. I would have killed to just take and swap out the bonus spells from fey for druid spells even if I could only do 1 per level.

In my games I would allow that, but not access to the full list of druid spells... but taking the fey spells and swaping for druid ones I see no issue with.
 

Stormonu

Legend
I can agree on Warlock having a flexible spell list, possibly related to patron - Fey might grant the option to do druid spells (instead of the normal list), Old One cleric spells (again, in place of normal spell list), Archfiend possibly gives the Wizard/Sorcerer list. Additional patrons might give Bard, Ranger, Paladin respectively.

Although I think there should be a slight cost - the Warlock's list has been curated with a tight list that works with Invocations, and broadening the spell list may end up skewing the class. Perhaps this in itself should be a Invocation? To me, the "cost" seems about right.
 

But we do have a potential fix for the wizard list when we look at the spell lists of the Eldritch Knight and the Arcane Trickster subclasses. They give out two school from the Wizard list. Perhaps swapping out Paladin/Ranger could give three schools, and swapping out higher categories can give out more. This isn't perfect - some schools have lots of spells, and I think some schools don't even have a spell in every level. But it gives us a baseline to play with.
we have long sense allowed arcane tricksters and eldritch knights to just choose 2 schools.
 

Tales and Chronicles

Jewel of the North, formerly know as vincegetorix
I think it would be possible on a case by case basis. A high level wizard with a cleric spell list would be able to cure wounds at-will, which may break a few things, but that's not the end of the world.

But, I would only permit it if the '' exchange'' is complete: you cant swap your spell list yet keep the spells you like from your original spell list. So yes, that means a Ranger with a Wizard spell list loses Hunter's Mark and a Warlock with a cleric spell list loses Eldritch Blast.
 

Agametorememberbooks

Explorer
Publisher
I just got my copy of Tome of Heroes from Kobold Press and it has a Warlock of the Old Wood patron which fits in with the style and theme of Warlock you’re talking of building. It actually has druid spells as part of the expanded spell list.

They even included some Eldritch Invocations that are forest and wildlife themed.
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
The spell lists are both a major differentiator between classes, and part of the class balance. For example Wizards get little in class features but get the largest list and features like preparation and their unique ritual use to leverage that.

A class like the cleric where the chassis gives a lot more would end up being a lot more powerful. Compare these two - the d6 HP wizard chassis with few features vs. the d8 HP, armored, cleric class with a good amount of features and the ability to prepare from their entire spell list.

Or compare wizard with wizard list to wizard with sorcerer list - it's pretty much a direct downgrade, the sorcerer list is a subset of the wizard list for the most part.

The lists are more than just thematic. Allowing other classes to swap them in will change the power levels of the class.

So, how can we manage this in a way that will allow thematic changes without nerfing or buffing a class too much.

Least work way would be to look at the existing spell lists and put them into categories that can be freely exchanged. The one you were looking at, warlock for druid, probably can be exchanged freely - both have a some unique spells for them that give unique feels, but they aren't particularly huge like the wizard list.

Cleric, Druid, Sorcerer, Bard, Warlock - are they in the same category of spell lists or split into more than one? Sorcerer is less spells than something like Bard, but Bard has a lack of variety in so many spells targeting Wisdom and so many of their core spells requiring Concentration.

The ranger list and the paladin list are also probably of the same category, smaller than the others. But they don't go to 9th, so I'm not sure how

And the wizard is the granddaddy with the biggest and most diverse list, too big to just swap to another class. But we do have a potential fix for the wizard list when we look at the spell lists of the Eldritch Knight and the Arcane Trickster subclasses. They give out two school from the Wizard list. Perhaps swapping out Paladin/Ranger could give three schools, and swapping out higher categories can give out more. This isn't perfect - some schools have lots of spells, and I think some schools don't even have a spell in every level. But it gives us a baseline to play with.
I think you may have slightly misinterpreted what i was saying, I didn’t mean just go about swapping spell lists between classes as a free for all, but have the the three classes which appear to have the fullest spell lists of each type, the arcane wizard, divine cleric and primal druid (who all only keep their own respective lists) serve as different spell lists for more the limited spellcasters when they specialise in different thematic areas, so instead of just getting a small handful of spells in your expanded spell list when you pick the archfey patron for warlock you get the whole primal druid spell list to pick from but usual number of spells known of the warlock plus their class iconic spells.

It’s like (and i might get this wrong I never played earlier editions so forgive me) the 4e cleric inherently knowingly cure wounds and lesser restoration because those are what a cleric does, and then your additional spells in your spell list is determined by their conceptual spheres of power, the warlock knows eldritch blast and hex and whatever else is core warlock spells, then the rest of your spell list is based on which power source your character is attuned to

So you’d have the warlock, sorcerer, paladin and ranger, maybe artificer I dunno too much about them, drawing from one of wizard, cleric or druid.
Bard I’d personally leave it to be on it’s own, it’s doing good with it’s own jack of all trades thing
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
For me... it's a pretty great idea and I already do it to various degrees.

But.

The -rest- of the class often makes it stumble. You used the Paladin as an example so Lay on Hands. Arcane casters (other than Bards who, really, should be considered Occult in my opinion) don't get healing magic, but one of the most basic features of the Paladin is a healing effect. Divine Health. Sacred Oath. Cleansing Touch.

The class is built from the ground up to fulfill a specific "Fighting Priest" identity for D&D that doesn't quite fit in with, say, a Spellblade.

Which is why 5e throws arcane spellcasting at the Fighter and Rogue who don't have those particular impediments. Heck, even the Arcane Archer isn't offered up to the Ranger, arguably the closest thing to an "Archer Class" as 5e has, but instead gets sent to the Fighter.

And that design is even stronger in A5e, where class identity gets cranked up even harder with their social and exploration abilities.

It requires a lot of refluffing and a little suspension of mechanics, more than some players are willing to go along with.
I understand where you’re coming from but there are a ton of ways you could spin it so that it would still make sense to me, like maybe ‘the process of the oath itself is a little bit divine’ or ‘the gods are the ones providing your magic, it’s just mostly in the form of arcane/primal/whatever powers rather than divine’

Just boiling down to: no matter whatever source a paladin ends up getting their power from, those abilities are fundamental to being a paladin, and thus will still manifest regardless, I recognise this might not be a satisfying answer for some people but I don’t have a perfect solution.
 
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CreamCloud0

Adventurer
I can agree on Warlock having a flexible spell list, possibly related to patron - Fey might grant the option to do druid spells (instead of the normal list), Old One cleric spells (again, in place of normal spell list), Archfiend possibly gives the Wizard/Sorcerer list. Additional patrons might give Bard, Ranger, Paladin respectively.

Although I think there should be a slight cost - the Warlock's list has been curated with a tight list that works with Invocations, and broadening the spell list may end up skewing the class. Perhaps this in itself should be a Invocation? To me, the "cost" seems about right.
I could see the eldritch knight/arcane trickster method of ‘X number of your spells must be from Y or Z schools’ potentially working as a remedy for this if necessary?
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
It's fine as a thought experiment, and it'd be fine for any individual DM to make customized spell lists for any individual PC that has a specific thematic identity. If you could make a Baba Yaga feylock that has a small but customized druidic-focused spell list to use (say like six spells on it per level to then select from for your PC) and your DM was okay with that idea... I'd say go for it.

Bu6t if you think or want the actual game to do that in the official books... then that won't ever happen. That's way more in-depth customization that WotC just isn't interested in having in their base D&D. They'd rather people like Morrus or Matt Colville build out larger ideas like that into new products that expand the game, since the playerbase who would latch onto those ideas and run with them in their games are much smaller.
 


CreamCloud0

Adventurer
Yeah, that would probably work, but wouldn't an Eldritch Knight that takes Cleric/Paladin spells just be an inferior Paladin? ;)
Maybe, but if ‘the inferior paladin’ is what someone wants to play who am I to stop them?

Plus they’d be casting with int instead of wis, I can’t believe you overlooked this massive play altering difference /j

EDIT: also doesn’t the EK get cantrips where the paladin doesn’t? It’s not a huge benefit but it might sway someone
 
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CreamCloud0

Adventurer
It's fine as a thought experiment, and it'd be fine for any individual DM to make customized spell lists for any individual PC that has a specific thematic identity. If you could make a Baba Yaga feylock that has a small but customized druidic-focused spell list to use (say like six spells on it per level to then select from for your PC) and your DM was okay with that idea... I'd say go for it.

Bu6t if you think or want the actual game to do that in the official books... then that won't ever happen. That's way more in-depth customization that WotC just isn't interested in having in their base D&D. They'd rather people like Morrus or Matt Colville build out larger ideas like that into new products that expand the game, since the playerbase who would latch onto those ideas and run with them in their games are much smaller.
Yeah, even just being able to have your expanded spell list slots as interchangeable with a secondary class’s spell list would be so much better for character customisation

Oh yeah no of course, I don’t actually expect wizards will ever implement anything like this but it’s a fun thought for houserules and such.
 

Bolares

Hero
I think that class should be in service of character concept, and not the other way around. I usually reflavor and reskin classes and multiclasses to fit whatever character idea I have.
Imagine a paladin who instead of a god granting them their magic (because honestly we’ve been drifting further and further away from that concept) found their oath sparked a connection to arcane magic within themselves and used that to power their smites,
For an example, I wanted to make a melee character that had draconic blood in them and that started manifesting as the game was running, so I made a Paladin, without any connection to divine magic, I explained all his magic as draconic blood starting to manifest magic. And when the magic started to spike in the story, I started taking levels in sorcerer.

Edit: Posted whitout finishing my point... :p
So, sometimes my character's spell list or class powers didn't exactly fit my concept, so I talked to the DM to see if we could change something. We changed some paladin spells, to be taken from the sorcerer list, ignored the oath options and with that the character fit perfectly with the story I was wanting to tell
 

DEFCON 1

Legend
Supporter
Yeah, even just being able to have your expanded spell list slots as interchangeable with a secondary class’s spell list would be so much better for character customisation

Oh yeah no of course, I don’t actually expect wizards will ever implement anything like this but it’s a fun thought for houserules and such.
Obviously I can't speak for all DMs, but I know personally that if a player came to me wanting a variable spell list for their PC based upon whatever thematic idea they had... I'd 100% work with them to create it.

When I had a player in my Eberron campaign take an Aberrant dragonmark that he wanted based on time manipulation... we ended up having him go Sorcerer and I crafted a completely new spell list for him that took spells from across all the classes, and renamed and refluffed them to be time related. Now the number of spells at each level available to him was much smaller than a normal class (I think each level had maybe only like 8 spells per), but seeing as how he was only going to be having like 3 or 4 per level at a time, he didn't need a spell list bigger than that. And because it was so small, I had no issue including "cross-class" spells on it.
 

CreamCloud0

Adventurer
Obviously I can't speak for all DMs, but I know personally that if a player came to me wanting a variable spell list for their PC based upon whatever thematic idea they had... I'd 100% work with them to create it.

When I had a player in my Eberron campaign take an Aberrant dragonmark that he wanted based on time manipulation... we ended up having him go Sorcerer and I crafted a completely new spell list for him that took spells from across all the classes, and renamed and refluffed them to be time related. Now the number of spells at each level available to him was much smaller than a normal class (I think each level had maybe only like 8 spells per), but seeing as how he was only going to be having like 3 or 4 per level at a time, he didn't need a spell list bigger than that. And because it was so small, I had no issue including "cross-class" spells on it.
Honestly i think it’s kind of detrimental to the best potential DnD experience people can have that there is such an emphasis on ‘playing exactly by the books’ rather than making their own things, not to say everyone should be making up rules or content or doing whatever they just want to do arbitrarily just because they can, but just things like you said, just creating a custom spell list to fit a character concept rather than trying to awkwardly cobble together bits and pieces from classes and feats all over the place that never really end up fitting together how you really wanted them to.
 

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