My nemesis is my species enemy and became my favored enemy, do you understand?

The internet is a trap! After regaining connection for one day, I already wasted my whole evening and did nothing for the blog… Since I’m going to a Pathfinder session soon, I have too less time to make my overview, but I just took a topic which I wanted to talk about: The ranger’s favored enemy and how it changed in the editions.

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1st Edition: The ranger didn’t have the choice of an enemy, but gained a flat +1/level damage to giants and certain humanoids like orcs. Flat but useful like most choices of the 1e.

2nd Edition: Here we got the species enemy feature, where a player chose a specific type of creatures which had to be accepted by the DM and should be tied to the ranger’s back-story. And got rewarded with a +4 to hit, while having a penalty of -4 to reaction. But in the end, those +4 were really useful and even if the choices were more open, it’d kicked asses.

3rd edition: The species enemy got renamed to favorite enemy and it’s the first time, the feature get a bonus outside combat (even though these were often disregarded). The +hit and +damage of the feature made it especially sexy to choose a favored enemy which will be either confronted often over several tiers of play or are tough to crack, like humanoids (human), undead, aberrations or constructs. And a big difference: You can select multiple favored enemies over the course. But since the 3e mechanic wouldn’t make the most iconic enemies like orcs a thread at high levels anymore, many possible choices weren’t that good.

4th edition: No favored or species enemy here, the ranger got additional damage to a target he declared (and is nearest to him at that time) and gets extra damage once a round.

5th edition: This is my favorite. The reason is simple, unless you hit 20th level, you get no benefits for combat purposes. This means that you choose your favored enemy more for the out of combat purposes, like advantage to recall lore and tracking and the possible additional language. So now having orcs as favored enemy will have much more of an impact than before, while constructs, undeads, fiends, etc. won’t suffer much that way. And since you get multiple favored enemies and when choosing humanoids you get two instead one subtypes, you can actually get a decent amount of knowledge about your foes without breaking out the bounded accuracy due to too many bonuses. And in this edition, even a 20th level ranger will be careful when facing a hundred orcs alone.

 

Why do I think, that the combat bonuses aren’t that important? Because I think this distracts you from the core of being a ranger. In my opinion a ranger fights enemies well is because he knows and understands them much better than a non-ranger could do, the advantage mechanism is a pretty neat way to ensure reliability with a certain error margin. And since the ranger’s spells are a huge benefit for his damage output and attack rolls have this sweet bounded accuracy, I don’t think the ranger especially need it.

Even though the 20th level Foe Slayer does grant combat bonuses, they’re ignorable. I think it comes a bit too late, too or shouldn’t be restricted to favored enemies. Or at least another effect.

4e Deities and Domains

Even though the 4e did kinda scared me away at some point (mostly due the PG-mechanism and all releases bginning with Heroes of the Fallen Land), there are still a lot of things I liked. In this case, I like to talk about the Pantheon there.
Other than the Forgotten Realms Pantheon, you could actually oversee the numbers of these gods, other than a Greyhawk campaign, these gods seemed more natural and less special, which made it easier for players to understand. Other than the Eberron Gods, players actually cared about knowing most, because in Eberron they only remembers: ‘Sovereign Host had some gods, but the Host itself is more important. There are the Dark Six and I know the Traveler, because he’s funny. And there were these Light-thingies and I think the Elves did have religion and these evil guys, you know, emerald claw, erm…’ And I won’t start with racial gods.

The sad fact is, that gods are only as important as the players think they are. Most will only remember those who are either important to their characters or the campaign, but 4e was able to let my players remember multiples gods who were neither. I think it’s because of two reasons:

1.) The numbers: There were only few gods, you could rename them to different cultures while the deities remained the same. Even though you wouldn’t recreate any general racial god there, you could degrade those to exarchs, etc.
2.) The width: Moradin was the creator of dwarves, but foremost the god of creation and patron of artisans. Bahamuth was the god of justice, protection and nobility and not just some obscure dragon god. The deities covered a lot of the necessary domains, without even the need to get more specific to the actual worship in different cultures. These days paladins of Bahamuth were standard, while in the Realms these are more special. Can be interesting, too, but since fewer gods were assigned for a broader spectrum, they remained more rememberable.

OK, it helps definitely that most of these gods were recruited from another setting (like Kord, Pelor and Vecna from Greyhawk). 😉

So here my list of deities of the 4e pantheon, since the 5e didn’t include it up to now:

Name Alignment Domains
Asmodeus Lawful Evil Trickery
Avandra Chaotic Good Knowldge, Trickery
Bahamuth Lawful Good Life, War
Bane Lawful Evil War
Corellon Chaotic Neutral Light
Erathis Lawful Neutral Knowledge, Life
Gruumsh Chaotic Evil Tempest, War
Ioun Neutral Knowledge
Kord Neutral Tempest, War
Lolth Chaotic Evil Trickery
Melora Neutral Nature, Tempest
Moradin Lawful Good Knowledge
Pelor Neutral Good Life, Light
The Raven Queen Neutral Death
Sehanine Chaotic Neutral Trickery
Tharizdun Chaotic Evil None* or Trickery
Tiamat Chaotic Evil Trickery
Torog Neutral Evil Death, War
Vecna Neutral Evil Knowledge
Zehir Neutral Evil Nature, Trickery

*Since Tharizdun is chained, you might rule that he won’t give domains, and can only be taken as patron of the warlock pact ‘The Great Old One’.

A lot of Trickery and in other departments pretty sparse. Well, like every former pantheon, these weren’t made to be included in a 5e system. And I guess most deities will get much more domains after a while, because there is still much untapped potential there.

The standard party and how to balance around it

Since I’m tighter on time and the cleric has a lot of subclasses (and I even plan to count in the Dead Domain spoilers), today I’m pausing the class-overviews and take a less time-consuming topic: Party balancing.

There are a lot of ways to balance a party, so I just picked the classic way today: The classic 4 player party with a fighter, a cleric, a rogue(thief) and a wizard/Magic-User. Of course with the original rule-set as a basic (even though I won’t get too deep to it). OK, truly, the thief was a supplement class, since the first D&D edition only had Fighting Man, Cleric and Magic-User.

  • Fighter: A classic fighter gets a lot of attacks, heavy armor and more out of its STR, but outside battle and strength tasks he’s pretty useless.
  • Cleric: Another armored dude with less good weapons, but to be able to support the fighter at the front at least. Healing and support magic mostly, but only to 7th level.
  • Thief: Thieves weren’t combat characters at all, light armor, attack bonus like a wizard and the same hit points. But they had something, which made up the early skill systems (when D&D was much more dungeon focused), which allowed them to move silently, find traps, open locks and pick pockets.
  • Magic-User: Magic-User were bad in combat, but were able to use magic and even in 1e afterwards they were the only class, which could use up to 9th level. Can do almost everything with magic, only healing is missing.

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In this constellation, we have the following:

  • One character who does well in melee and one, who can support him there (50% can be at front)
  • Two characters which can cast spells (50%), even though one is a decent melee, while the other is a better caster
  • One character can heal
  • One character who can take care of traps, pick locks, etc.

Of course editions changed, even though the classic party remained. And is still the classic balance, now I’m using my own impressions of the balancing factors in this party and how you can ensure, that your party can stay in said balance.

  1. About 40% of the characters should be able to hold a front. To protect your squishy guys, you really need some meat at the front, who can stay there constantly. A monk or a bard may stay there one or two rounds, but should only to give a front-character a break for healing purposes.
  2. At least one real melee-character: Even though you can make up a front, at the melee must be pressure for your opponent, means above average survivability to tough it out, enough damage to keep being dangerous and simply a presence.
  3. There should be at least 2 spellcasters: Instead going with a percent value here, I think 2 spellcasters are plenty for a 3-5 headed party. Following spell-tasks should be present: Healing, supporting, AoE damage, controlling and some divination. Since only 3 classes don’t have automatically spellcasting abilities (even though 2 can get it and the other can use a pseudo spellcasting build), this shouldn’t be a problem.
  4. Someone who gets around a dungeon: Since dungeoneering will stay a vital part of D&D, someone should be able to pick locks and find and disable traps.
  5. A variety of skills: More like a new feature, but most skills should really be covered by the party. Not all are as essential, but most will come in handy at some point.

If you want to look for simple substitutes, you can use this:

  • Fighter: Barbarian and Paladin
  • Cleric: Valor Bard and Moon Circle Druid
  • Rogue: Lore Bard, Ranger, Warlock
  • Wizard: Land Circle Druid, Sorcerer, Tome Warlock

There are plenty of ways to actually hold up that balance in other ways, but here we’re just talking about the simple way. Maybe I might take that topic up again another time, to introduce other means of maintaining a party balance (like how a barbarian, rogue, bard and sorcerer party of mine in 3.5e had their own quirky balance).

And remember: Just because the iconic group makes often appearance in Starter Sets, etc. there are still plenty of functioning parties out there, which aren’t made by that formula. Some of them are even representing D&D.

IIIIEEEEEEEHHH!

OK, bad example…

Odd Ability Scores

Since 3e it didn’t really make a difference if you had an odd ability score, since the most important thing about an ability is its modifier. In some regards it was tried to make odd ability scores kinda useable by using odd number values as prerequisites for feats. But be honest: It wasn’t (and is) not hard to meet those numbers and if they were higher, you simply adapted your build to it. Two-Weapon Fighting needs up to Dex 19? OK, then I’ll go finesse!

 

But even today people mourn the times pre-3e, when odd numbers in ability scores had their value (at a certain point). And even I, someone who started with 3.0e can acknowledge the usefulness of having an easy and direct bonus to most stuffs, while thinking that the classiness of the 3d6/4d6k3 rolls might be not the best, considering how less the actual attribute says. So I thought: Let’s change it, maybe I might get a nice idea there.

Of course the idea wasn’t either nice nor creative, but simple the expression of common sense. If an odd ability score is halfway to a higher modifier, just increase the modifier-bonus for certain rolls and stats. But it was a bit difficult to settle on the finished rules, since not all traits are equally worth and it should be kept as simple as possible. Sadly, it’s still rather complicated, but since you can track all bonuses on the character sheet, it’s still passable, imo.

 

Here is the summary. If you have an odd ability score, you increase the following by +1:

  • Saving Throws
  • STR, DEX or substitute (like the druid’s Shillelagh spell): Weapon Damage
  • DEX: Initiative
  • CON: Bonus due Hit Die/Dice healing
  • INT, WIS, CHA: Spell Attack Modifier
  • When (for some reason) your ability score/modifier is halved, round up

If you think it’s not enough, you can even go further, like:

  • CON: +1 hit point/2 levels
  • +1 to proficiency skills (since you simply know about them more and can utilize the even tiniest improvement better)
  • no +1 to spell attacks if you cast a cantrip

 

And here the details behind the decisions: In the end, an even ability modifier should still be the more valuable option, especially since abilities caps at an even value. So I aimed for lesser bonuses, which would be appreciated, but not as hard valued. If you would grant ability checks (particularly skills) the antedated bonus would be the sorry target of abuse. Stats like AC were a no-go, I really considered the Spell DC, but then the 20 wouldn’t be as powerful as it should be.

The reason why the attack bonus for spells is raised, the bonus for weapons not is the frequency. Weapon-focused classes makes a lot of weapon attacks, since it’s their primary option. But only 23 spells (7 cantrips) are using spell attacks, so many more use a save system.

Saves on the other hands seems absolutely reasonable. Since they varies much more and can’t be abused without a DM, I guessed one of the three most important roles (ability checks, attack rolls, saving throws) could be represented in an odd system.

Initiative is just because. It seems so lonely sometimes…

 

Maybe some similar rule might appear at the DMG (not that I think it will), but for now, you can consider if some minor boons with odd ability scores is reasonable.

Why PG can be annoying and how to deal with it

Like I said already some times: I don’t particularly hate power-gamers or power-gaming (PG) in general. But sometimes they can be a very strenuous experience. Every time I read the forums, I see some hate/annoyance/arguing between ‘PGers’ and ‘PG-haters’, threads about how to optimize and posts about how power-gaming is fucking everything up.

I try to remain neutral, but honestly: If something makes me start hating PG it’d be that PG-hate. Because I actually understand both standpoints, since I’m pretty good at PGing, too, if I were to cut loose. So maybe I should just talk about it.

 

Why PG is so fun: PG is a special kind of amusement, which can’t be understood by everyone. It’s a time-consuming activity, which only kinda enhance a game, which you might play only 1-2 times a month. But PG can be pretty mood-dependent, even a down-to-earth person might just pick up a new rulebook, seeing those rules and ask herself/himself, how these rules would work together.

Here are some of the fun parts of PG:

  • Some people just enjoy to organize, strategize and see things through, those might become DMs (like me) or if the imagination is missing, becomes bookkeepers and PGers. If you don’t like those things, it’ll be hard to understand what kind of enjoyment it is, to see all the things working or to adapting them until they work
  • You feel like you’re smarter than the game-developers every time, you see a rule-hole or something like that. After trying to create a game-system by yourself, you’ll see how hard it is, to get the rule-holes down to it
  • You feel like you’re smarter than the DM, whose tendency of torturing your whole party is getting on your nerves at some point
  • You feel more prepared for said of torture
  • You either get the feeling of power compared to your party-members or are glad, that you’re more of a help for those. Or both, depending on personality
  • Since the DM will definitely challenge your build at some point, you might proof that your result is almost perfect

There are some more reasons, but these should cover the major ones. If you’re prone to the first one, it’s actually hard to really build a character without taking the ‘power’ into consideration, even I will never forfeit easily obtained power for any of my characters, as long I see it worth. Taking a feat, no prob. Multiclass… only if I really think, that it’s doable for my character concept.
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Why PG offsets the other players: In D&D you’re normally in a party with some other players. Some of them might be offset after realizing, that a PGer is in the party and even though some people may ask ‘Why?’, they’ve actually good reasons to be. Here are the main ones.

  • P&P is a hobby for most people. And when enjoying your hobby, you want to have your part of the cake, have the times to shine and get some screen-time. PGers are actually stealing a lot of spot-light, depending on the build, since the easiest and for most people most fun is a combat orientated PG, that player will definitely get his show stolen, especially if the PGer kinda compete with said character (like paladin and fighter as melee combatants) or even worse: If the PGer shouldn’t be able to compete (like a sorcerer, dishing out more melee damage than the fighter)
  • Most often combat-orientated PGers are pretty useless outside of combat. Especially if they don’t get spell-slots or only use them to enhance themselves or damaging enemies, which means that for all the planning and sometimes really annoying and slow stuff, more work falls to the non-PGers
  • Even non-combatant orientated PG will make a character falls behind in some serious basic issues and even though there are some things like ‘each character should be a specialist in what he do’, most challenges address more than one field of expertise and if a character is too focused or unwilling to carry on with its weaknesses, it’s another burden for the others
  • To be able to compete with PGers, some feel the need to PG themselves and not many like it, if they didn’t do so in the first place. And often aren’t that good at that

You should never think about these non-PG players less and especially less able to play P&P. Because a role-play isn’t about the system generally, the ability to abuse a system is no requirement or measure in how good you can role-play.
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Why PG annoys the DM: Argh, after thinking about some cases, I actually grumbled in bitter rage, grinding my teeth, while writing these points. PG is a curse for most DMs, because it makes simple issues much harder than needed and are always hot spots of conflicts.

  • Ever had a player with a perception score of +40 in the mid-levels? Even though it wasn’t 5e, those players deem to noticing every tiny detail, which would make an ambush obvious, a secret compartment detectable and those little things which should either surprise your players or should actually require a bit of care
  • Or a +40 Stealth character at the end-beginner levels? I think you can see that point, even if the character remains hidden
  • In combat department it can be even more annoying, like having a Rogue in 4e, who seems just unhittable with anything but Fort-attacks (using really any power, item and combination to reach that goal); when adding more accurate monsters, the other characters suffers, if using special means the player will get pissed. Or a build with a myriads of attacks, which can kill a supposedly powerful foe in one turn, before said foe could even blink. And many, many more.
  • PGer get pissed, when the DM is using the easy way out to decrease their power, while the other players aren’t thinking highly, that you use extra resources to downgrade that specific character
  • Often, PG characters are shallow and don’t provide anything useful when creating or adapting an adventure. If the PGer is lacking imagination, the character is just a bunch of stats
  • Some PG options are ridiculous if you’re looking at them from a more pedestrian point of view. It’s understandable, that someone wants to be the ultimate skill-monkey, but at the first glance, the combination of Rogue(start), Ranger, Cleric with Knowledge Domain and Bard seems to use some explanation. Or monk/druids. Or paladin/rogues. To just call a few. OK, paladin/rogues with the Oath of Vengeance would be the Avengers in 4e, I guess.
  • If the other players aren’t as satisfied as the PGer, it’ll definitely make your whole game days suffer

*grumble, grinding, grumble*
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How to deal with PG as the PGer: On the other players side, there is not too much to say. The other players aren’t able to deal with a PGer other than by talking and trying to understand it. I believe there are some ways, to actually deal with some issues as the PGer himself/herself, here I’ll address the PGers directly:

  • Don’t leave out of combat capabilities unaddressed. In 5e it’s much easier to do so without losing power, since the Backgrounds in the PHB won’t actually enhance the combat prowess. So pick up some things outside your primary field
  • Choose a character-concept which fits your playstyle: If you’re trying to maximize your sword-skill, play a character who wants to be the best swordman and begin challenging other swordmen to duels. If there is some character-depth to your stats, it’s much easier to accept the PG in that
  • Don’t enter a player competition if not called. If you meet a fellow PGer, compete if you want, but if you don’t, take simply a part nobody else fulfill. Much easier that way, because it’ll become less offensive
  • Remember, that PG isn’t always about the highest stats possible. A fighter as a Defender/Tank with an AC too high and no ways to force the enemies to direct their intention to him/her, won’t fulfill the role, because even monsters get annoyed when trying to hit an unhittable target. If you can’t hold them on you, you’re simply not doing your job!
  • Be a team-player. If you’re actually helps other characters to shine or are able to not address everything in a way, that your build will come in handy, people actually will mind much less. If you want to shine every time yourself without rubbing your fellow players the wrong way, you can still play a Leader-role character, since they seem to PG as much as they want, since it’s a benefit for the party-members instead the character itself, they most likely even really notice all that PG. Or the other way around, make a character build which can only shine when being supported by others (even if PGers are avoiding those builds usually)
  • Talk to your DM beforehand. After playing a bit, your DM will definitely see your tendencies in that department. See a compromise, like deciding in which departments you can PG without calling up his wrath (like with undetectable, all-seeing builds) and if you come up with some strange combinations, have a good character-story at hand and tell it before talking about your build

The most important thing is, to redirect your desires in a way, that won’t offense the other players as much or even make them think, that it’s OK that way. Being a melee-PG-character is much more acceptable, if there are no other main-melees in your party, since there is less competition and if you’re the only one, you’d better be good.

And a important no-go: Don’t suggest or help other players to PG unasked. Some will simply hate that idea by itself, others will actually try it and might lose sight on the parts of P&P, which said player actually enjoyed. If a player asks by himself/herself, be sure to take it slowly, before overwhelming your padawan. 😉
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How to deal with PG as DM: It’s much harder to actually deal with PG as a DM, especially after getting duped multiple times. Remain calm, it’s not the end and you shouldn’t seek revenge, since it’s just a game and at least one player were happy that day. But there are some ways to deal with it.

  • House-rule rule holes. If you get the feeling, that a specific combination doesn’t seem to be intentional, talk to your players about it. Be honest, provide some suggestion how to deal with it, don’t just decide it by yourself, if possible. If you just close anything up (especially after being fooled) you’ll seem upset and petty.
  • If you know that a PGer is in your gaming group, be sure to explain the no-gos, like ‘no over-optimized perception and/or stealth’ or ‘no single levels when multiclassing’ beforehand
  • Remember the players, that most characters which are only build around being the best in a single thing which isn’t that useful in real-life are much less believable. A PG fighter might be a guard for a merchant, but without a moderate INT, WIS and CHA it’s most likely, that he’s buffooned at every opportunity without even realizing it
  • Don’t ignore the PGers forte, that will only invite problems. Address them regularly and sometimes for important stuff, if you’re ready to ‘lose’ some times, you’ll keep the player satisfied enough so he won’t complain as much. Just let be strengths be strengths sometimes. Makes it much funnier, when using a shenanigan to undermine it
  • Don’t take PG as a challenge, trust me: If you do, the PGer won’t suffer, the other players will instead
  • More variation: As long you don’t get a skill-monkey, just open up the game, make more variant adventures like beginning in Sharn (Eberron) with a murder case, which will require investigation, than coming up with a bit of combat, which will lead the party to a specific noble house, which will have a party in a few days, so the players have to prepare and get an invitation (planning and socializing) and being at the party themselves is yet another challenge, investigating further, opening some traps and summoned beasts, finally getting the boss, who will only… I guess you already got the gist
  • If you got a skill-monkey or skill-specialist, don’t roll for some scenes, just let play it by words. If the ability (skill) checks are too good to fail, be fair most of the time, not all the time
  • If nothing work, talk to the PGer after seeing how it worked out. Somehow there is always a compromise
  • If common sense is not heard by the PGer, be as strict as necessary. In the end the player most likely still wants to play with you, but is pretty disappointed, that his build is attacked/ignored/undermined by you. Try to be fair, but honest and if you can’t deal with it anymore, you don’t have to. If you’ve no fun being a DM, than your personal goal is not met and that would be pretty counter-productive

There are many more, but mainly these are standard forms of interacting with other people and less about being a DM than being a person who can confront conflicts cleverly.
null Now that I was able to talk about it, I’m kinda relieved. Personally I’m more of a story-made-by-players-driven DM, the reason why I want to have back-stories and characters which makes sense, instead of those, who only have their stats as personality. As long that holds, I can deal with PG myself most of the times, but I do have players which can’t do it as good. And there is a limit to everything and sometimes even I get pretty pissed off at specific players. Like getting collywobbles if the first thing I hear about something is ‘If I can combine it with this and that, then…’ or actually downgrading options, just because their lack of measurable ‘power.

Is the Sorcerer weak?!

Some players pointed out, that the Sorcerer seems kinda lacking, if you compare it with other arcane main-casters like the Wizard and the Bard, while even the Warlock seems kinda stronger in comparison, even though this is a totally different class right down to the base.
Especially the Sorcerer vs. Wizard aspect is argued and since even the dumbest person can write and talk about it, an idiot like me is as good as anyone else. And to do it, we need some basics for it.

 

Why are the Wizard and Sorcerer competing? This comes mostly because of the fact, that it didn’t make a real difference if you played Sorcerer or a Wizard until 4e: Same spell lists, a little difference in mechanics, different fluff-texts. Technically the Sorcerer did knew less spells, but could spam them more easily without preparing any of them, while the Wizard got a ton of spells before, but had less spells per day and had to be more careful, which spells he had to learn.
Since most builds survive on just a few spells and spells outside them were only prepared by carefully considering what would be probable useful that day, the Sorcerer win out most of the time. Better spell slinger, supporter with all the utility needed, even though sometimes you’d want a special spell that no Sorcerer would have as a known spell. Something like Animate Rope would be like wasted capacity for most players.
Sharing the same spell list, it was unavoidable for those two classes to compete. So now the 3e-players are just comparing the class outright, while in 4e those both classes had a very different take, where the Sorcerer as a Striker was more damage focused while the Wizard as a Controller had the better battlefield control.

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And how does the Bard fit in? Another 3e aspect was, that the bard became a so-called spontaneous caster like the Sorcerer, but wasn’t a main-caster yet (someone who get spells up to 9th level), even though he had a own spell-list, which was very similar to the 5e spell-list in variety, his capacity was lower and so the Sorcerer was simply the better caster. Now the Bard upgraded and made a MA of Magic and has the same spell-slots per day as a Sorcerer, but more known spells, which would make him theoretically (in a way) the better caster now.

Now we know what kind of background these discussions have, but are those prejudices derived from earlier editions right in the first place? First of all, we need to remember, what are the basic differences between a Sorcerer and a Wizard.

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Wizard: A Wizard is a man who got 30 years old while still being a virgin… wait, false one. The Wizard who can actually cast spells is someone, who studied years of hard mental and sometimes physical labor to be able to tap into the power of the universe, controlling the elements by using graphs, signs, words and discipline. Somehow like a mathematician.
So a wizard should be able to be a great caster, who is able to cast most spells (depending on his studies, the spell-list could vary) and from all the classes would be the one, who has the most flexibility and skill in using arcane magic.

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Sorcerer: A Sorcerers are people who already have magic in their blood, who never needed much studying and learned most of their skills in practice. They don’t know, what they’re actually doing, they just can and as long it’s effective, it’s not that important. So logically their spell-list should have some more primal form of magic, the simple but powerful spells which pretty much acts more on thought instead per planning. But since they’ve that special connection to magic, that Wizards will never know, they should be able to cast spells more powerfully than those.

Pathfinder

OK, so far so good. Now we take a look at the Sorcerer and how this class fulfilled my expectations, while comparing his abilities with the wizard’s.

Spellcasting: At start the Sorcerer have 2 known spells, 4 cantrips, he have always as much spell-slots as a wizard of the same level. The Wizard has 6 spells in his spellbook, 1+INT he prepares and 3 cantrips. Over the course to level 20 the Sorcerer have always one more cantrip, while he stops at 15 known spells (the bard will have 22), while the Wizard have at least 44 in his spellbook and most likely (depending on INT) 25 spells prepared.
Even though the Sorcerer have a single more cantrip, the Wizards wins out due availableness of spells. And since the Sorcerer lacks Ritual Casting while the Wizard have a superior version of it, the Wizard is the better Wizard… kinda obvious.

Spell-list: Sorcerer’s spell-list isn’t as flexible as the Wizard’s, like already guessed. The Sorcerer is firstly lacking every spell, which have the name of a Wizard in it (like Mordenkainen, Melf, etc.). And most spells are more simply natured, less finesse, more like the raw power of the schools. And the only spells the Wizard don’t get are druidic, I’m a little disappointed to not see some Sorcerer-only spells, like Dragon Breath or Chaos Sphere, but maybe Origin-Only spells might appear in the future.

Font of Magic: This trait gives the Sorcerer the use Sorcery Points (SP) and one of their main uses is the option to regain spell-slots as a Bonus Action or to use spell-slots to regain SP. It reminds of Arcane Recovery of the Wizard and after having a delayed start and strength, it grows much better in terms of time (Bonus Action vs. Short Rest) but the number of spell-slots is lower at some point and of course it means, that you’ll have no SPs for other traits. But again it’s a plus, that you can translate spells into SP, if you don’t need spell-slots (especially the high ones) you can just make them into SP and afterwards use these SPs to create more lower level spell-slots. I do think, that’s much more flexible than the Wizard, especially since even short rests aren’t as short anymore. And as a bonus: You could actually create more spell-slots than you could can hold using this feature, even though I don’t see how a bonus action could be so valuable to do it before your spells runs low. Since you use SP for other features, too, I’d hold on them.

Metamagic: Here lies the true strength of the Sorcerer and the reason, why the Wizard compares so hard. Metamagic let you enhance a spell you’re casting in specific ways. Normally, you’d get 4 of them, but I won’t be surprised, if there is a new feat incoming, which would grants you the ability to pick a Metamagic and use it once per day or something like that (and of course more Metamagic to choose from in general). And Metamagic works with multiclassing, so you can metamagic Cure Wounds or other spells that way. But now to the specifics.

  • Careful Spell: Let people up to the CHA-mod automatically success a save in spell area. Evoker’s Sculpt Spells do almost the same, but even let your allies take no damage at all, but works only on evocations. For most iconic spells it won’t matter, since a lot of area effects are evocations, but there are a lot, which aren’t too, like Circle of Death. But I guess your allies will still hate the half damage. So stick to control-spells, like Fear.
  • Distant Spell: Doubles the Range of every spell. Spells which already have a range, have that ranged doubled, touch spells gains 30 feet range. Stacking with Spell Sniper, so you can bring a lot of mayhem out of save distance. The Wizard can’t copy it at this point. Enhanced range may make spells more useful, like Witch Bolt, which effect text only states ‘target stays within range’, so more range = less chance to escape your spell.
  • Empowered Spell: An easy way to bring up your damage, only 1 SP, if you get a really bad damage roll and re-roll as many dice as CHA-mod. Evoker’s Empowered Evocation and Overchannel are enhancing your damage, too, while both Origins brings one option as well, the Draconic early, the Wild late.
  • Extended Spell: This bit of Metamagic is a spell-saver, if you expect some combats with almost to time in-between (like dungeoneering a fortress), doubles simply the time of duration. But most likely it comes most handy during exploration, since spells like Enhance Ability are more meant for them. And of course the clerics and druids will getting all giddy, since they got some spells worth getting extended. No Wizard gimmick here.
  • Heightened Spell: Disadvantage to a high-level spell, which shouldn’t be saved? Sold! And no Wizard here either.
  • Quickened Spell: Cast a 1 action spell as a bonus action spell? Great for spell-slinging and again the Wizard lacks the possibility to copy it. One of my favorites is here Sunbeam, since you can cast it as a bonus action and use the action to throw a second beam (which is not spellcasting and therefore won’t be affacted by the ‘bonus action spell’-rule).
  • Subtle Spell: Seems at the least powerful at first glance, but might be the most powerful. As long there are only verbal and somatic components, you can actually stealth a spell, makes it more easy to stay hidden and have some out-of-combat use. Like charming the person you’re talking to without its companions even noticing it (and it makes it hard to Counterspell it, since the spell happens without anyone noticing it). Wizards could need it, but won’t get it.
  • Twinned Spell: Even though an enchanter have access to targeting two creatures with 1st level and above with a normally single-target enchantment, the Sorcerer makes it much better: Any single-target spell can be twinned by spending level as SPs (1 for cantrips). Haste, Disintegrate, Finger of Death, so many spells to choose from…

Since every Sorcerer have access to those, it makes a Sorcerer more versatile with the few spells he knows. Using right, it can compete with a Wizard in regards of Spell-Slinging and damage easily. But the evoker is still easier to pull off imo.

Sorcerous Restoration: Regain 4 SPs each short rest at 20th level. Actually a neat feature, but less powerful than other 20th level features. In the end it makes short rests actually making sense outside regaining hit points and might come in handy, but won’t really outweight the Wizard’s signature Spell Mastery or Signature Spell, which allows him to simply cast more worth of SPs in spells.

Sorcerous Origins: There are only 2 subclasses for now, so it lacks simply the variety of the Wizard (Three, since the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide came out).

Draconic Bloodline: More elemental damage, survivability and two nice features (wings and fear aura), which will make your Sorcerer better at standing in the front. As long the DEX is right, he’s as tough as most clerics. A good standard choice, shaping the Sorcerer in a more combat oriented class.

Wild Magic: I love this feature, but it’s too dependent on DM and uses to actually measure its power. But it brings ways to increase your odds, much later your damage and when rolling on the Wild Magic table (which depends on your DM), anything can happen. You might regain all SPs or end up as a potted plant until the start of your next turn. But hey, it’s not ‘tamed magic’, after all.

Conclusion: Of course the Wizard could do solme of the stuff the Sorcerer can, since there are 7 Arcane Traditions, which are mastery of a limited area of magic, while only 2 Sorcerous Origins are out. More options means more overlapping in most cases and that the Wizard with all Arcane Traditions seems to be stronger is just natural.
And Wizard’s Class featured are more about the tradition than anything else, while the Sorcerer works well on his own, while the Origin adds up to that basic. While an evoker could be a better spell-slinger, his special features only works for that.

In the end you have to say goodbye to the idea, that a Sorcerer and Wizard are still practically the same class. As long the Sorcerer remains that restrictive in the spell-list, he’ll definitely won’t replace a Wizard, but might be more fun, since there seems to be more room to adapt to the situation.
And like always: It’s more of the fun factor. If you want to be a strong, destructive spellcaster, choose the Sorcerer or the evoker, both are pretty stable choices. If you prefer to use magic for more, take the Wizard. If you want to use the features the Wizard won’t get and get more fun of the spells you know: Take the Sorcerer.

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But I can say the following: The Sorcerer is not weaker than the Wizard! Only if you use only theorymachine without using real situations (in a fictional game-world).

Feats of Strength or more like Strength of Feats

First, I got this warlock-guide posted by Mephl1234 in the WotC-Forum. It’s interesting, even though I might disagree with some points, but I won’t pondering about that… for now. And since I got my time stolen, sadly no pictures… for now.

 

After the multiclassing section I thought: Let’s get over the second optional rule in the PHB: Feats.

 

Feats were a very strong aspect in 3e and 4e, getting feats several times at certain points of character advancement additionally to your class features and bonus feats due different sources. What changed?

  • You can choose a feat as a class feature, called Ability Score Improvement (if feats are allowed in the campaign), your character level don’t matter; but there are less feats overall
  • Instead of a single effect, most feats gives out several effects or more powerful ones, making them much stronger in general than 3e/4e-feats
  • feats might increase one ability score
  • less hard-stat bonuses

It’s pretty amazing to see how players are reacting to them. Some are glad (like me), some are enraged, a lot are whining around. They see: Ability improvements and feats now cancel each other out and some are sure, that it’s important to get your primary ability at 20 as fast as possible, so there will be even less feats left.

 

But I don’t think that way. A 20 is good, but if you talk about feats, it becomes a very deep and insightful topic, so let’s just stop complaining and see what feats we got here, I divided them up in several categories.

 

1.) The combat-helpers: Those feats are designed for getting your hard-stats and combat prowess as high as possible. These feats are the main-interest for many power-focused players, since no power is easier to oversee than the one you can calculate!

  • Alert: A +5 for initiative is a great boon for defenders and controllers, those who actually wants to decide where to put up a front or hitting the enemy with an area effect before they could scatter. No surprise, not granting Advantage to hidden attackers… a great feat for especially sorcerer and wizards, to help with their puniness and area control.
  • Charger: Dash and get an attack/shove as a bonus action with more power. In most cases it’ll be ignored, since the enemies aren’t usually that mobile and/or far away to get benefits out of it, even though classes with single strong attacks (like the Rogue or Paladin) its an actual cool thing, since you won’t lose less than the others
  • Crossbow Expert: This feat makes crossbows better than longbows with one exception: The longbow still got the longer range. Good for a range focused character, since you don’t need to switch weapons anymore, but actually the effects aren’t that great.
  • Defensive Duelist: A live-safer for everyone, who don’t get Uncanny Dodge. You need to be proficient with a finesse weapon to wield, but an elven wizard might get astounding results when seeing a single attacker incoming. Generally a solid choice for any finesse wielding melee build, which don’t need attack of opportunity as often, since it needs your reaction.
  • Dual Wielder: Nice one, not as powerful in general, but it’ll make Two-Weapon Fighting a bit more worth.
  • Elemental Adept: Most casters wants it, because it means you have at least one strong element, where Resistance won’t matter (Immunity do). A good choice would be fire, since there are so many fire spells, but sadly there are some more monsters with Fire Immunity than Acid Immunity (like all kind of devils).
  • Great Weapon Master: This feat makes up most reasons to not wield a shield, but a heavy weapon: The option to make more damage against easy to hit foes and to get another attack after a Critical as a bonus action. A great feat for those, who wants to maximize their damage and a barbarian with Reckless Attack can deliver it much more reliable even at harder to hit opponents.
  • Heavily Armored: +1 Strength and heavy armor, good for clerics without DEX and a domain which would grant heavy armor anyway, good for mountain dwarf wizards and STR-based rangers, which won’t care about DEX in particular.
  • Heavy Armor Master: Another +1 and some bookkeeping! Reduce each damage of non-magical weapons by 3!
  • Lightly Armored: I get the feeling the feat got only added to make the set full. Or because there might be a great light armor for casters which won’t have the power of granting proficiency with that armor (unlike the Elven Chainshirt), since even the masterwork items (like mithril chainshirt) weren’t better than Mage Armor.
  • Mage Slayer: Since spellcasters are more frequent, especially in the mid-levels, being able to deny some spellcasting is valuable. Generally a good feat for those, who tends to get the back-row more easily, like a monk and of course everyone who actually wants to play a Mage Slayer.
  • Martial Adept: This grants some combat maneuvers and can be a great addition, if you want to act more tactically, but will be only a second-rate feat in terms of pure power.
  • Medium Armor Master: For some this feat is great, something like a +1 to AC and STR/DEX, while getting rid of Stealth Disadvantage. But for that you’d need a DEX 16.
  • Mobile: A great combination with Charger, but still a good choice for everyone, who wants to engage in melee, but not staying there. More speed, no difficult terrain penalty in Dash Action, if you attack someone (it or miss), you can get away without provoking an opportunity attack.
  • Moderately Armored: +1 STR/DEX, medium armor proficiency. Some classes might get some benefit, but multiclass is still a more than viable alternative, if you really want it.
  • Mounted Combatant: If you want to kill the cavalry, kill its horses. Now it becomes much harder, granting the mount pseudo-evasion, the rider becomes can forced to be targeted instead of his/her mount and an all-inclusive Advantage to attack rolls against any non-mounted target smaller than your mount. If mounts weren’t that impracticable inside dungeons, it’d be a great choice just for the latter effect.
  • Polearm Master: Another attack as bonus action, but since it’s not Two-Weapon Fighting, you get your ability-mod to this attack and an opportunity attack, when someone is coming into reach. This is a great feat for everyone, who don’t need the bonus action as often and wants to have more attacks.
  • Resilient: +1 one ability, proficiency with its save. Most likely it will be either DEX, CON or WIS, since these are the most used saving throws.
  • Savage Attacker: A little damage boost, good for single attacks (like paladin and rouge, which can dish out massive damage if needed), less for those who uses a lot of attacks to make their damage.
  • Sentinel: This is like the combat challenge combined with combat superiority of the fighter in 4e, just less restrictive and often. Take that feat and you’ll be a great defender, so any melee can potentially go into the defender role. But if all of them should…
  • Sharpshooter: More accuracy in terms of cover and long range, less accuracy for more damage, means that the ranged weapon enhance everything they want to in one feat. As a ranged focused character: Take it early, abuse it!
  • Shield Master: This feat will make good use for shield wielders, especially after taking Resilient to get proficiency with DEX-saves, makes it more unlikely for you to get damage for a lot of effects outside AC. Either a bonus for targeted effects with DEX-saves or a reaction for no damage for a DEX-save, which would let you take half damage when succeeding. Helps survivability a great deal.
  • Spell Sniper: No cover penalty for ranged spells with attack roll, double range for them and an additional cantrip with attack roll from any list. If you wouldn’t use that class’ ability score, you could combine them quite interesting, but at least the druid and cleric as well as the bard, warlock and sorcerer can look at each others spell-list without worrying. The cantrip alone is a good choice, the rest makes it insanely good, you can stand farther away and have less problems hitting targets!
  • Tavern Brawler: An unique choice, but since you won’t have or want to use weapons at every opportunity, this feat is interesting, getting proficiency with unarmed attack and improvised weapons and more importantly: A bonus action grapple attempt after hitting with any of those. And nobody would dislike +1 STR/CON additionally. But for me more like a choice made for fluff.
  • Tough: +2 hit points per level, for hit points alone its like +4 CON and especially those d8 hit die classes which wants to go into melee might want to get some additional insurance. Hit points are more important at 5e than in 3e or 4e, but somehow I’ll already see it untaken.
  • War Caster: The strength of this feat is depending on how restrictive your DM sees somatic components. If the DM is strict, this feat is a must for any caster who’s not wielding only a one-handed weapon without shield.
  • Weapon Master: A +1 for STR/DEX and four weapon proficiencies… Not really good, since most classes gets all the proficiencies they want and some features grants additional, making this feat kinda useless until exotic weapons or something like that comes out.

 

2.) The next feats are the Explorer Feats, those feats which will be a great help by exploring dungeons and similar stuff:

  • Athlete: Better climbing, better jumps, standing up for 5 feet, a lot of these bonuses get handy in combat, too, but won’t necessarily. In exploration it will things only easier and faster, not really better.
  • Dungeon Delver: The typical rouge thing, you might think. Actually, give it the armor guy, since traps are kinda problematic for them. Or better: Your Trapper and Spotter, it lessens the time needed to get a dungeon done, since you see all kind of things faster, since you detect secret doors more easily and walks at normal pace instead slow.
  • Keen Mind: INT-bonus, perfect timing, an inner compass and a perfect memory for the last month aren’t so bad, but won’t really matter for every player who doesn’t want to play a detective. But nice try.
  • Linguist: Even though it helps with social interactions as well, the cipher part helps you in exploration in a social environment (like a city campaign) and the fact that unknown languages are a common way to learn more about a particularly dungeon is and what might await you. With the +1 INT it’s not a bad choice, especially for those who wants to know more languages. But it’s not great, either.
  • Observant: Here the bonus to passive perception is the greatest boon, but lip reading is very handy in an urban area, full of intrigues. And a INT/WIS bonus, not too bad here!
  • Ritual Caster: A way to kinda get the Caster role, just take the wizard and you’re pretty good in the exploration department, having access to a lot of spells needed to be as thoroughly as wished. If you don’t have already a ritual caster, consider this feat hard!
  • Skulker: A feat between exploration and combat, but since it helps you to actually avoid combat, I put it here. Making a sneaky character more sneaky sounds worse than it is: It actually doesn’t just add a bonus, but gives you a very light version of darkvision, reduced the amount of obscuration needed for hiding and lets you stay hidden, if you missed with an attack out of hiding. Great choice for stealthy rogues, especially lightfoot halflings.

 

3.) Now we get the Resource Management, feats which makes your characters more effective in organizing their resources and this way pacing up the adventures, because less time is wasted at long rests. If all three are present at your party, you could technically get around a healer quite well, if the tactic is right. But probably it won’t.

  • Durable: +1 CON and when rolling hit dice for short rest, you always get at least twice your CON-mod back. Means more effective use of hit dice and therefore more chances for short rests, since you can use the healing more often. At least if you have at least CON 14 for some kind of decent effect.
  • Healer: Instant wake up call for the dying and a small healing as an action without wasting much money (5sp per healing). Reusable after a short rest, reducing the amount of needed spell-slots, potions and other resources bit by bit. It’s much more useful than a first reading suggests.
  • Inspiring Leader: For 10 minutes time level + CHA-mod temporary hit points, and re-usable after a short rest. This doesn’t seem too great, but if you’re using between 2-3 short rests each day adventuring, it will amass and every hit soften by temporary hit points is like healing beforehand. Great combination with healer.

 

4.) And finally the rest, those who are special or standing alone in their particularly fields.

  • Actor: This feat is right between exploration and social interaction, but which more focus on social interactions, since the doubled proficiency bonus only apply when tricking others with your stolen identity. The voice trick is nice, a good pick for those, who wants to enhance their repertoire in a social environment or just wants to use an imitated voice.
  • Lucky: 3 re-rolls per day for you, that’s sweet and you can take a chance to have an enemy hits you, you always choose the result you want. Great feat, especially if you’re in either a tight spot and have to save or need to hit/succeed in a specific round of combat.
  • Magic Initiate: Two cantrips, a 1st level spell per day, depending on your choice, it might be a great addition or a huge waste of a feat.
  • Skilled: I think you can be anything you want, as long you’re smart enough to work it out with class and background. But there are some players, which wants to be skill-monkeys and wants as much skills as possible and three new skill proficiencies are pretty sweet toward that goal. But not especially needed for a more mundane character.

 

As you can see, the feats are still more about combat than anything else, but I was already expecting it. It’s much easier to make combat rules than anything else.

 

With that many interesting feats, I suggest you should look if you find anything remotely interesting, before deciding that a higher ability score is needed. To be somehow effective, a +2 mod in your primary ability is enough, even though I would stick with +3 at 4th level.

There may be a lot of reasons why to say, that you need absolutely a +2 in your primary, but let me say this: More battles were won by having a controller be first in combat, using spells like web or entangle, but by having a +1 on the spell DC, making Alert more valuable at that thought.

 

My advise would be: Take a feat early, maybe a second and afterwards care about ability scores. Feats are more fun to me and even in power-terms more valuable imo. And feats which enriches the fluff (like Dungeon Delver) are always a great addition to the game.

Just think about what is defining about the character and worth to be expressed by a feat, like Great Weapon Master for your great sword fighter or Keen Mind for a ingenious wizard.