Wither the Wizard? (or: Bards don’t have ACNE)

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
The changes to spellcasting with the Bard and Ranger are amazing in lots of ways, but respresent an implied erosion of the defining versatility of the Wizard. This represents a challenge designers will face, and thinking about it identifies some substantial changes in the understanding of spellcasting which allows for some reasonable speculation about future playtest documents.

For spellcasting classes, the class table identifies both the number of spells you prepare at that level and the number of slots you have at each level. This is a major change. For the bard, the number of spells known is more or less the same – any given level might be +/-1 or 2, but ultimately it’s a wash. In fact, Songs of Restoration makes it so that you have up to 5 more spells known. This will require and reward a different kind of system mastery: at the upper levels, characters will only have one spell prepared at 9th level per long rest. That will reduce flexibility on high-end boss fights. Another way to look at it is that at level 18, you can only prepare one 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spell. Within a given long rest, that’s really no different than the Warlock’s Mystic Arcanum, which always feels very limited. Flexibility for the Bard and Ranger comes from being able to draw on a wider list, with the opportunity to change after every long rest, with some limitation of schools available.

How will this wash out for other spellcasters, if this approach is maintained? Some speculation:
  • I expect the Cleric to have full access to the Divine list, the Druid full access to the Primal list, and the Wizard full access to the Arcane list.
  • I expect the Paladin will be able to draw on a limited number of schools from the Divine list, with progression like the ranger. Like the ranger, they’ll start with two cantrips, which is a huge buff for both classes – that was a completely viable fighting style (since Tasha’s), given to them for free.
  • Would they limit the Sorcerer list as the inverse of the Bard list? Bards have DIET (Divination, Illusion, Enchantment, Transformation) spells. That would leave ACNE for the (also Charisma-based) Sorcerer (ha ha ha – Abjuration, Conjuration, Necromancy, and Evocation). I hereby copyright these acronyms; Sorcerers have ACNE, Bards DIET.
  • This line of thinking would mean a substantial increase in the number of spells for the Sorcerer, and adding more still (including some from other schools, illusion for instance) could come through subclasses, along the lines of Songs of Restoration. That’s been the tendency in new sorcerer subclasses for the past few years already, so no surprise if so. There’s a reduction in the number of cantrips sorcerers have available, unless they had a different table, but I’m guessing the designers won’t do that. Some other solution might come into play.
  • As I’ve speculated in another thread, I think Eldritch Blast will become a class feature for the Warlock.
  • Subclasses could give limited access to other spell lists: the Divine soul giving access to (certain schools within?) the divine list, etc.
  • I expect Arcane Trickster and Eldritch Fighter will remain subclasses. Whatever their progression, I’d expect they’ll get a subset of schools too -- Enchantment/Illusion and Evocation/Abjuration (though it’d be nice if they got one more school, perhaps not in the same ACNE/DIET groups)
There’s a lot of speculation here, but none of it feels wildly amiss based on what we’ve seen. Given this (or something like it), I wonder what will happen to the wizard? Will the Wizard still have a spellbook?

If other casters have full flexibility on their lists (with the limits outlined above), is there any reason to limit the Wizard to spells written down in a book, and giving them access to only 2 new spells/level? I don’t think so. A class or subclass feature could add 5 (10?) more spells, all from a particular school that the wizard chooses at level 2 or 3, for example.

Another reason to think the spellbook might disappear is the absence of the Ritual book from the ritual caster feat (a change I find disappointing).

Given that the flexibility of the Wizard has been their main strength, I don’t see what they can do to preserve that quality given the flexibility they have introduced to the bard. I do not think they will maintain the spellbook-building minigame (a book might still be a spellcasting focus, for instance, or could give +1 DC when used, but that’s ultimately cosmetic).
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
I am pretty convinced that the wizard will still have a spellbook, and all spells in your character’s spellbook will be always prepared for you.

I also think it’s likely that school specialization will still be a thing, - perhaps just the 2nd level “[School] Savant” feature, but made universal (since subclasses seem to be starting at 3rd level), allowing you to choose what school you gain the benefit for at the time that you gain the feature. But I’m less confident in that prediction.
 
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tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
I'm on a similar page as Charlaquin wrt the entire spellbook getting treated as prepped for the wizard. That sort of shift neatly explains the ritual casting changes not mentioning spellbooks and maintains the wizard's versatility as a meaningful thing in the face of the new prepared like divine casters historically prepped but from a wider list style casting present for the test bard & ranger.

I'd also expect to see better guidance about making spellbooks & spellscrolls available as treasure & shop inventory for wizards to get away from the rare magic cruft still present from influences of things like the dying earth novels early editions had. At the end of the day it doesn't matter how much you can scribe if you don't have anything to scribe from.

May be a bit of sarcasm in a series doing similar stuff for each class but you only need to look at the generally lacking availability of scrolls & spellbooks in wotc's own hardcover 5e adventures as evidence to why such guidance is sorely required if that is the way they go with wizards
 

Kobold Stew

Last Guy in the Airlock
Supporter
So if they keep the spellbooks (tradition, despite the drawbacks), doesn't that make Wizards less flexible than every other type of caster? (Unless "any spell can be a ritual if cast with a spellbook" or somesuch, which I do not think they will do.)
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
So if they keep the spellbooks (tradition, despite the drawbacks), doesn't that make Wizards less flexible than every other type of caster? (Unless "any spell can be a ritual if cast with a spellbook" or somesuch, which I do not think they will do.)
Not ritual... Any ritual spell can already be cast as a ritual if prepared. Make every spell in the spellbook considered prepared and it explains not mentioning spellbooks in the new ritual spellcasting thing. Wizards become dramatically & meaningfully more flexible then.
 

FitzTheRuke

Legend
Heh. I like the ACNE-DIET acronym. Funny stuff.

I was thinking the spellbook might go away, but the idea that it'll hold extra prepared spells sounds like a good fit.

I'm actually quite digging the new spell-lists and the use of schools to silo class access.

There's another feature that some of you might not think of, that I would (being a game store retailer): The Arcane/Divine/Primal lists allow them to make boxed sets of spell cards. The current spell cards (if you're aware of them) by GF9 are strangely, an Arcane Box (with Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard spells) and then individual ones Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, and Ranger. The Arcane one outsells the others by a WIDE margin. This will make three sets, which is better for SKUs, and will make them closer to even (Arcane will still sell best, followed by Divine and then Primal, but at least they will be closer, and will only be three sets. I expect we will find WotC will make them themselves, too, rather than farming them out.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
Heh. I like the ACNE-DIET acronym. Funny stuff.

I was thinking the spellbook might go away, but the idea that it'll hold extra prepared spells sounds like a good fit.

I'm actually quite digging the new spell-lists and the use of schools to silo class access.

There's another feature that some of you might not think of, that I would (being a game store retailer): The Arcane/Divine/Primal lists allow them to make boxed sets of spell cards. The current spell cards (if you're aware of them) by GF9 are strangely, an Arcane Box (with Sorcerer, Warlock, and Wizard spells) and then individual ones Bard, Cleric, Druid, Paladin, and Ranger. The Arcane one outsells the others by a WIDE margin. This will make three sets, which is better for SKUs, and will make them closer to even (Arcane will still sell best, followed by Divine and then Primal, but at least they will be closer, and will only be three sets. I expect we will find WotC will make them themselves, too, rather than farming them out.
Also means those SKUs will scale well with any future Classes they want to throw into the mix.

I thinknthe Wizard will still be versatile, even if the versatility gap has been narrowed. Interested to see how they handle the Mage group.
 

Tonguez

A suffusion of yellow
Yeah I’m increasingly dismayed at the proliferation of spell casting for everything, everywhere. I would rather classes get more non-spell special abilities and promote Wizard and other spell traditions as unique
 
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Mephista

Explorer
I suspect that wizards will be the only ones with unfettered access to any and all Schools in the Arcane list - that will be their advantage over the sorcerers and warlocks, who suffer from small, school restricted lists.

Wizards will still need to prep spells restricted by their spellbook, but if their spellbook ends up quite expansive? Then its a meaningless restriction and wizards will still be the most versatile Arcane spellcaster.

At the rate we're going, I get the feeling that Sorcerers are going to be, well, anti-bards. They'll get a few tricks related to Sorcery Points (metamagics and that personal self-advantage on skill thing in tasha's) instead of Bardic Inspirations and Expertise, and I agree they'll likely have opposite schools (ACNE instead of DIET).

Warlocks will probably lack, at minimum, access to Abjuration and Transmutation by default. Maybe more, with Invocations expecting to fill in missing spells. Necromancy, evocation for fiend, enchantment/illusion for fae, and conjuration for GOO summons. Not sure about divination, its very witchy, but that could be invocations again... Buying up all the sight-based invocations was pretty cool, after all.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Warlocks will probably lack, at minimum, access to Abjuration and Transmutation by default. Maybe more, with Invocations expecting to fill in missing spells. Necromancy, evocation for fiend, enchantment/illusion for fae, and conjuration for GOO summons. Not sure about divination, its very witchy, but that could be invocations again... Buying up all the sight-based invocations was pretty cool, after all.
Currently, the breakdown of Warlock spells by school is:

Abjuration: 10
Conjuration: 29
Divination: 9
Enchantment: 21
Evocation: 15
Illusion: 12
Necromancy: 18
Transmutation: 17

I wonder though if schools might not be the way they restrict spell access for warlocks. In the Next playtest, warlocks didn’t have spell slots at all and instead had two “Patron’s Favors” (or maybe it was “Patron’s Boons”? Something like that), which they could spend to activate Lesser Invocations, and those Lesser Invocations allowed them to cast specific spells. But they did still have a spell list, and could cast those as rituals. What if they brought back that idea to some extent? The warlock’s list of spells they can choose from to prepare could just be “Arcane ritual spells.” Then Patron could grant access to a list of always-prepared spells, and Invocations could grant specific additional spells.

Come to think of it, unless warlocks are changing significantly, this new way of preparing spells we’ve seen so far wouldn’t work well for warlocks anyway.
 
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Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
The warlock’s list of spells they can choose from to prepare could just be “Arcane ritual spells.” Then Patron could grant access to a list of always-prepared spells, and Invocations could grant specific additional spells.
OMG! And this could make the tome pact boon work without having to take Book of Ancient Secrets as an invocation tax! Just have the boon grant them a spellbook. Works the same as a wizard’s spellbook (assuming my prediction that the wizard’s spellbook is just a list of always-prepared spells with rules for how to add more spells to it is correct).
 

The changes to spellcasting with the Bard and Ranger are amazing in lots of ways, but respresent an implied erosion of the defining versatility of the Wizard. This represents a challenge designers will face, and thinking about it identifies some substantial changes in the understanding of spellcasting which allows for some reasonable speculation about future playtest documents.

For spellcasting classes, the class table identifies both the number of spells you prepare at that level and the number of slots you have at each level. This is a major change. For the bard, the number of spells known is more or less the same – any given level might be +/-1 or 2, but ultimately it’s a wash. In fact, Songs of Restoration makes it so that you have up to 5 more spells known. This will require and reward a different kind of system mastery: at the upper levels, characters will only have one spell prepared at 9th level per long rest. That will reduce flexibility on high-end boss fights. Another way to look at it is that at level 18, you can only prepare one 6th, 7th, 8th, and 9th level spell. Within a given long rest, that’s really no different than the Warlock’s Mystic Arcanum, which always feels very limited. Flexibility for the Bard and Ranger comes from being able to draw on a wider list, with the opportunity to change after every long rest, with some limitation of schools available.

How will this wash out for other spellcasters, if this approach is maintained? Some speculation:
  • I expect the Cleric to have full access to the Divine list, the Druid full access to the Primal list, and the Wizard full access to the Arcane list.
  • I expect the Paladin will be able to draw on a limited number of schools from the Divine list, with progression like the ranger. Like the ranger, they’ll start with two cantrips, which is a huge buff for both classes – that was a completely viable fighting style (since Tasha’s), given to them for free.
  • Would they limit the Sorcerer list as the inverse of the Bard list? Bards have DIET (Divination, Illusion, Enchantment, Transformation) spells. That would leave ACNE for the (also Charisma-based) Sorcerer (ha ha ha – Abjuration, Conjuration, Necromancy, and Evocation). I hereby copyright these acronyms; Sorcerers have ACNE, Bards DIET.
  • This line of thinking would mean a substantial increase in the number of spells for the Sorcerer, and adding more still (including some from other schools, illusion for instance) could come through subclasses, along the lines of Songs of Restoration. That’s been the tendency in new sorcerer subclasses for the past few years already, so no surprise if so. There’s a reduction in the number of cantrips sorcerers have available, unless they had a different table, but I’m guessing the designers won’t do that. Some other solution might come into play.
  • As I’ve speculated in another thread, I think Eldritch Blast will become a class feature for the Warlock.
  • Subclasses could give limited access to other spell lists: the Divine soul giving access to (certain schools within?) the divine list, etc.
  • I expect Arcane Trickster and Eldritch Fighter will remain subclasses. Whatever their progression, I’d expect they’ll get a subset of schools too -- Enchantment/Illusion and Evocation/Abjuration (though it’d be nice if they got one more school, perhaps not in the same ACNE/DIET groups)
There’s a lot of speculation here, but none of it feels wildly amiss based on what we’ve seen. Given this (or something like it), I wonder what will happen to the wizard? Will the Wizard still have a spellbook?

If other casters have full flexibility on their lists (with the limits outlined above), is there any reason to limit the Wizard to spells written down in a book, and giving them access to only 2 new spells/level? I don’t think so. A class or subclass feature could add 5 (10?) more spells, all from a particular school that the wizard chooses at level 2 or 3, for example.

Another reason to think the spellbook might disappear is the absence of the Ritual book from the ritual caster feat (a change I find disappointing).

Given that the flexibility of the Wizard has been their main strength, I don’t see what they can do to preserve that quality given the flexibility they have introduced to the bard. I do not think they will maintain the spellbook-building minigame (a book might still be a spellcasting focus, for instance, or could give +1 DC when used, but that’s ultimately cosmetic).
I think this is a bit off:

1) They probably won't limit Paladin spells because like Rangers they're a half-caster.

2) There's no possibility they'll limit Sorcerers by school. It doesn't fit with how they've been designed in any edition, and the "ACNE" you suggest is mere symmetrism. Symmetrism is almost always wrong. Professional designers are smarter than that sort of pointless symmetry, for the most part.

3) As others have said, Wizards will retain a flexibility advantage by having a spellbook which lets them cast spells they haven't prepared, either at some kind of X/rest cost, or more slowly. They may also be able to re-arrange their spells prepared with the spellbook. The spellbook won't disappear entirely - it's too iconically a D&D thing and a fictional Wizard thing.
 

Mephista

Explorer
Currently, the breakdown of Warlock spells by school is:

Abjuration: 10
Conjugation: 29
Divination: 9
Enchantment: 21
Evocation: 15
Illusion: 12
Necromancy: 18
Transmutation: 17

I wonder though if schools might not be the way they restrict spell access for warlocks. In the Next playtest, warlocks didn’t have spell slots at all and instead had two “Patron’s Favors” (or maybe it was “Patron’s Boons”? Something like that), which they could spend to activate Lesser Invocations, and those Lesser Invocations allowed them to cast specific spells. But they did still have a spell list, and could cast those as rituals. What if they brought back that idea to some extent? The warlock’s list of spells they can choose from to prepare could just be “Arcane ritual spells.” Then Patron could grant access to a list of always-prepared spells, and Invocations could grant specific additional spells.

Come to think of it, unless warlocks are changing significantly, this new way of preparing spells we’ve seen so far wouldn’t work well for warlocks anyway.
Well, its highly likely that all subclasses are going to be gained at level 3. So, unless they make blade/book/chain/talisman the new subclasses, its very likely that warlocks will have fiend/fae/GOO/undead as the four patrons being tested, and they'll be at level 3.

Level 1 is probably going to be eldritch blast as a class feature, along with Pact Magic and maybe the BBCT choice. I mean, it is kinda silly to delay your familiar choice when you've got ritual access to Find Familiar by default.

I'm thinking that warlocks won't have abjuration because, well, they never had the shield spell outside of hexblade before, plus you needed an invocation for mage armor instead of light, and I suspect that trend is going to continue. And its not like we haven't had healing and sonic spells change schools for fitting into classes either. But not like I can't be off too. I'm just spitballing ideas here. I'm not sure what's going on, but I kind of suspect that, like the bards, they're going to want to have cross-Power Source access of some kind, and not just stick with one. Its all very weird at the moment.

Based on the current play test, we do know they have something called Pact Magic, which seems to be distinct from Spellcasting, at least. We shall have to see how it shakes out.
 
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The warlock’s list of spells they can choose from to prepare could just be “Arcane ritual spells.” Then Patron could grant access to a list of always-prepared spells, and Invocations could grant specific additional spells.
Unless they massively up the number and change the type of spells that are Ritual Spells, this would a gigantic, sweeping nerf to Warlock spell access. The current spells cast as Rituals are NOT the spell that would make sense to be ritual, note, it's a just an anaemic and frankly nerdy list of utility spells which is a terrible fit for a Warlock.

If they could only then add spells from a fixed Patron list and from Invocations their access would be massively curtailed.

There's no real reason to not let them just use the Arcane spell list + those from Patrons to prepare their small number of spells anyway, that I can see.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Well, its highly likely that all subclasses are going to be gained at level 3. So, unless they make blade/book/chain/talisman the new subclasses, its very likely that warlocks will have fiend/fae/GOO/undead as the four patrons being tested, and they'll be at level 3.

Level 1 is probably going to be eldritch blast as a class feature, along with Pact Magic and maybe the BBCT choice. I mean, it is kinda silly to delay your familiar choice when you've got ritual access to Find Familiar by default.

I'm thinking that warlocks won't have abjuration because, well, they never had the shield spell outside of hexblade before, plus you needed an invocation for mage armor instead of light, and I suspect that trend is going to continue. And its not like we haven't had healing and sonic spells change schools for fitting into classes either. But not like I can't be off too. I'm just spitballing ideas here. I'm not sure what's going on, but I kind of suspect that, like the bards, they're going to want to have cross-Power Source access of some kind, and not just stick with one. Its all very weird at the moment.

Based on the current play test, we do know they have something called Pact Magic, which seems to be distinct from Spellcasting, at least. We shall have to see how it shakes out.
Honestly, that kinda works narratively. If they don’t get a patron until 3rd level, what does a patronless warlock even look like for those first 2 levels? A character who learned a couple invocations and otherwise casts ritual spells kinda fits the bill IMO.
 

Charlaquin

Goblin Queen (She/Her/Hers)
Unless they massively up the number and change the type of spells that are Ritual Spells, this would a gigantic, sweeping nerf to Warlock spell access. The current spells cast as Rituals are NOT the spell that would make sense to be ritual, note, it's a just an anaemic and frankly nerdy list of utility spells which is a terrible fit for a Warlock.

If they could only then add spells from a fixed Patron list and from Invocations their access would be massively curtailed.

There's no real reason to not let them just use the Arcane spell list + those from Patrons to prepare their small number of spells anyway, that I can see.
I mean, I assume if they went this way that patrons would have pretty deep spell lists they grant access to, not just the two per spell level they currently grant. I also assume they’d up the number and frequency of Invocation acquisition.
 

I mean, I assume if they went this way that patrons would have pretty deep spell lists they grant access to, not just the two per spell level they currently grant. I also assume they’d up the number and frequency of Invocation acquisition.
That's just a Warlock spell list with a whole bunch of extra steps and complication lol.

I don't see them going that way if they want to make classes more accessible, not less.

Also making Warlocks wait until L3 for a patron would make all existing patrons incompatible with the 1D&D Warlock. I don't see them doing that just for symmetry's sake. Patrons will likely remain at 1. I do think some will be modified or deleted. No way Hexblade survives in the current "You need Pact of the Blade to make this not suck" form.
 

tetrasodium

Legend
Supporter
On the earlier more ritual spells thing... I notice at least one new ritual spell (silence) but it's only on the divine & primal lists. The arcane list ritual spells look the same based on a quick skim. All three lists have a good number of spells with a school shift though.
Honestly, that kinda works narratively. If they don’t get a patron until 3rd level, what does a patronless warlock even look like for those first 2 levels? A character who learned a couple invocations and otherwise casts ritual spells kinda fits the bill IMO.
A pawn with their free sample.
  • Chain pact: Maybe just a regular familiar till level 3 or more. Frankly having an intelligent at will invis familiar that can change shape is kinda bonkers given how much of a nonissue it isa to have a familiar get killed in 5e.
  • Blade pact: You are proficient with martial weapons & can choose a first level fighting style from the warrior group. some of the rest comes in at 3rd
  • Tome pact: Too many unknowns.
  • Archfey: You can consider faerie fire & sleep prepared The rest comes at 3rd (or maybe vice versa)
  • fiend & Goo, similar to archfey

Edit: This is assuming eldritch blast is going to become a warlock class feature based on warlock level as everyone suspects based on the lack of it being in cantrips
 
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