News and such

I’m moving, in April I will get into the new house. So there is still a lot to do, but at least I wanted to share something…

First of all, I share some official stuff from WotC on my side, you can download them there, too, it’s totally free, but since not all of you likes to look regularly there, I just figured, I can simply upload them here, too, and you can get it, if you want.
In this case we get the first 2 instances of Unearthen Arcana, which provides pre-rulings for Eberron and a army-combat system. I guess it might be worked over after some thought there for the hard-cover variant (especially since the Eberron races only have +1 to two abilities, which is uncommon so far).

Now I’m proud to say, that I will begin a Baldur’s Gate campaign with a new party. And that means to transfer the beloved PC-game to the P&P media in 5e! I will try to transfer my campaign notes into a self-made gaming module, which can be DMed by those, who also played and love the game or if I’m a bit skilled even those, who don’t.

Of course I know, that I’m not able to make it like the game, since the companion NPCs and the playstyle does a lot for the mood. But in the end, it’s still a strong plot, a great journey and some quite great story twists, which will make this very enjoyable, especially for those, who don’t know the games or were too weak to play them.

The plan is to make a campaign with a proud numbers of the optional quests, since you can actually take some time in most cases. I’ll try to write game reports, too, but I still have two left for Tyranny of Dragons (and the campaign will go on, too), so I won’t make promises.

This is sadly all this time, with the new campaign I have a lot to do, and moving isn’t good on your time, either. Be patient and I will make the wizard’s overview, even though I will first update my paladin and cleric overview with the options of the DMG.

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Lacking Capstones

Today I talk about our capstones. A capstone is a feature you gain when you reached the level cap, in D&D more specific the level cap in one class (means 20th level for now). The only D&D edition which made great capstones were 4e, Pathfinder got it right and made at least decent, but often not too great, capstones. In 5e, most are lacking.

Here I categorized them to usefulness:

Great and useful anytime

  • Barbarian’s Primal Champion (+4 STR and CON and the cap get increased to 24 for these two abilities)
  • Paladin’s [Ancient] Elder Champion (regain 10 hit points per turn, 1 action casts can be reduced to bonus action, enemies within 10ft have disadvantage to saving throws vs. your paladin spells and Channel Divinity).
  • Rouge’s Stroke of Luck (turn a miss into a hit or make a failure in a ability check to a natural 20 once per short rest)
  • Wizard’s Signature Spells (have two 3rd level always prepared and cast them once per short rest for free at 3rd spell level)

Useful in most cases

  • Cleric’s Improved Divine Intervention (100% chance that your god will help you once a week)
  • Fighter’s 4th attack (great at combat, otherwise useless)
  • Paladin’s [Devotion] Holy Nimbus (10 radiant damage per round for enemies within 30ft, advantage on saving throws vs. undead and fiend spells)
  • Paladin’s [Vengeance] Avenging Angel (Fly speed 60ft and 30ft fear aura).
  • Warlock’s Eldritch Master (regain once per day after 1min all expended Pact Magic spell slots)

Rather lacking, even though useful sometimes (like builds and cases)

  • Druid’s Archdruid (unlimited Wildshape for moon druids and spellcasting with your mind alone unless the material components cost gold)
  • Ranger’s Foe Slayer (once per turn WIS-mod. to attack or damage vs. favored enemy after seeing the roll but before knowing the result)

Useful when running into a lot of encounters

  • Bard’s Superior Inspiration (get one inspiration back when having none when rolling initiative)
  • Monk’s Perfect Self (get 4 ki points back when having none when rolling initiative)
  • Sorcerer’s Sorcerous Restoration (regain 4 expended sorcery points after a short rest)

Some of them would definitely rank higher, if there were only one to two changed details. Like the warlock’s Eldritch Master, if it’d only cost an action. Pact Magic slots are regained after an hour rest, too, after all, even though a minute is much better in that regard, I wasn’t that whelmed.

So why aim for the capstones after all, if most of them are underwhelming? Maybe high level campaigns in planning have a lot of encounters one after another, so regaining resources with initiative roll will have that much impact. Maybe the 21th+ levels will bring some juicy bonuses when you stay in your class and the ‘not-capstones-anymores’ are just a milestone to real power.

I personally think after gaining so much levels in one class, you can simply go all the way. Why would a character even bother at that point to pursue another path?

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…

My friends are from the other side!

I have a non-D&D RPG-evening, so I can’t really talk too lengthy about something. So I thought: Just pick a single spell, etc. and talk about it. And since I always talk too much, I ended up with the conjuring spells (Conjure Animals/Celestial/Elemental/Fey/Minor Elementals/Woodland Beings).

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In 3e there was the family of summon monster/nature’s ally from I to IX and a big list for both spell groups, which told you what kind of creature you can summon through the spell levels. In 4e summoning spells/powers came with common rules and special actions, often using yours, etc. but very interesting summoning choices.

In 3e the problem was, that there were definitely good choices and bad choices at each level, so you tend to call always the same. Sometimes a choice is broken, like a lantern archon. In 4e summoning was kinda boring, since you couldn’t change the summoned creature after deciding on your power.

Now in 5e it’s conjuring instead of summoning, the spells are more diverse and open for all creatures of the specific type at a certain power level (measured by its CR). While the more powerful spells only conjure a single being (up to CR 6), the lesser ones calls creatures up to 2 CR (1 CR 2, 2 CR 1, 4 CR 1/2 or 8 CR 1/4), every time the conjured creatures comes into play, they get their own initiative, can do what they might do align- or physical-wise and hear to verbal commands (no action).

These spells are amazingly strong. Especially if you summon a bunch of low CR critters, since more attacks are almost always more useful than anything else and the AC of the enemies isn’t sky-reaching. But some of the more powerful ones brings cool abilities. Tough choice.
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The critter tactic is especially good for a conjuration wizard at 10th and 14th level. 14th for 30 temporary hit point per conjured creature, 10th to counter a sad but balance-wise good flaw of the conjure-spells: Concentration.

You can easily see why it’s good balance-wise (and make it easier for PCs to actually get out of a tough situation): If you can disrupt the caster’s concentration, you’ll get rid of his servant(s). And of course it lessens the amount of other tactically strong spells, since you only can maintain one concentration spell.

But if you like the versatility, pick a druid. This class gets most conjure-spells (even the strongest and weakest ones, means earlier access and most end-power) and pick up the Warcaster feat early to get these concentration checks done. And at best, conjure your new friends, use wild shape to take form of a mole and dig yourself in. Flying could be a bad choice here and there…

If I were a druid, I surely summon a bunch of Giant Frogs at 5th level and use all the grappling mechanism and such to enhance my allies combat power while restricting the foes at the same time. Full-power control, hell yeah!

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After I finished the document for my druid in the coming D&D-party, I’ll share it with you. It’ll content the stats of possible creatures to conjure, sorted by type and CR.

Necromancy? Evil? Why?!

A certain thread in the WotC-forum regarding a DM who wanted some advices, since he got a new player who wants to play a necromancy wizard, gave me the idea to speak about a thing, that has only little to do with D&D 5e. Even though I mainly reason within the 5e rules and setting.

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The DM who opened that thread was mainly concerned about the 6th level feature: Undead Thralls, which gives Animate Dead as a known spell, an additional servant when casting said spell and some boost for any created undead spells due necromancy spells (including Finger of Death’ed zombies).

So I divide this post in 2 questions: Regarding necromancy by itself and about creating undead.

 

What is necromancy and why should it be considered evil? First of all, there are only 26 necromancy spells out of 362 spells in the PHB, since there are 8 schools of magic, you might think that it should be rather an eighth (about 45 spells), but actually it’s just about 7%. And 8 spells aren’t for wizards. Just so that you can consider it while reading the rest.

Necromancy is the school of life (but not healing, which is evocation), death and undeath. The PHB says, that not all necromancers are evil, but their forces are considered a taboo in many societies. But for what reasons? Well, a lot of spells are things, which you would only do to your worst enemies, but since a fireball isn’t a warm welcome either, but a flaming sphere of destruction, we might oversee the fact, that half the spells are about letting the target suffer (and one which can be used that way, but isn’t necessarily).

Then there are some spells which allows you to raise dead and Spare the Living, which normally would be called good. Somehow heretic, but generally good. As long it’s not a bad guy who get another life! Then there are some utility spells which are at least macabre (like Speak with Dead… no rest in peace here?) but generally neutral and finally the creating undead part, which will be discussed soon.

In the end I think it’s naturally that especially the border of life and death would be taboo by most societies. It’s here much less the aspect of being generally evil, but more like a healthy amount of respect and fear, since this is something the gods (which are present in most campaign settings; when playing Dark Sun there are other problems) should better handle. It’s simply the lack of knowledge, the religiosity and the bad examples of evil necromancers, which are regularly threaten the world, digging up up graveyards and killing people per necromancy or the created undead due that school of magic. And after getting killed by adventurers, there are villages to rebuild, corpses to be bury and more annoying work.

But in the end, necromancy is a tool and it’s more about how you use that magic than the possibilities itself.
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What about creating undead? If necromancy isn’t necessarily evil, then undead shouldn’t be a problem either, right? Wrong, this is a different manner, since creating undead is one of the possibilities you can utilize with necromancy, so here we see the tool at work. So excusing necromancy won’t automatically excuse animating dead. But maybe the act itself is harmless enough to be considered at least neutral. Let’s see.

 

Morality: What’s right and wrong in a society is mostly bounded in the morally consensus in said society. So an act is good, when the society says it’s good and likewise for evil. So as long as the society acknowledge the use of undead, it’s not evil, like Karrnath or Aerenal in the Eberron campaign setting.

But maybe they’re wrong? There are some societies in D&D which do really, really bad stuff, like the drow of the Forgotten Realms. So maybe it won’t give us an absolute excuse, but at least a personal. So the necromancer can be proud of his art, while being a good aligned character, since this particular bit of magic is a normal thing for him/her. As long as the character shows a good alignment in other aspects, I’d agree to a good alignment as a DM.
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God’s Order: Like I said, societies can be mislead, so before deciding how evil it is, to create undead, we better turn to an absolute point of view, beings which far outclasses any society and are flawless in the alignments: The gods! Here we have some good gods which were ready to have an interview about their perspective. Who would better know what’s really good than those cosmic forces which presents it?

  • Mielikki: Hunt down the unnatural abominations!
  • Tyr: Kill it!
  • Pelor: I’d rather see those things burned. So please do it.
  • Dol Dorn: There is some sword-work to do!
  • Silver Flame: Aren’t they dead yet?!

OK, maybe we asked the wrong guys. But the neutral ones might get creating undead right into its neutral place!

  • Aureon: It’s the Shadow, right?
  • Blood of Vol: Yes, my philosophy is lawful neutral. Vol herself is not. Evil, you know…
  • Kelemvor: I stand for death how it should be. No undead, if I can pretend it!
  • Raven Queen: Right so! SMITE THEM!!!
  • Wee Jas: I’m rather open, as long the deceased is or was willing.

Yes! Finally one! And now we look on the evil side, which is already waving at me, while having some rites ready, to… I’ll better skip them. Just because so-called gods are representing their alignment and domains and about every god of undead in the usual settings are evil, doesn’t mean it’s necessarily evil.

Just let’s ask another one, the one who should know more about undead than anyone else: Orcus, demon prince of undead! What are you thinking about… *getting hit by scepter, died miserably and multiple places at one time, arise as an undead mass* Be… undead-gooooooooood!
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Real-life: After my fictional me had a case of undeath, I’ll just consider the real-life part of this case.

  • In most countries it might be declared as desecration of corpses, so it’d be against the law
  • You’d break another law, if you animate someone without its permission, since its either an act of slavery or theft (when argued that a corpse is an object)
  • Most families won’t like their grandma anymore, when she was walking around while rotting or a skeleton and it might be a bit rude to her remembrance
  • Even if it’s for a good cause, only few will acknowledge the means as ‘not evil’

 

OK, in most cases you might say, creating undead is evil and after taking some time how you would think about people who animate your dead friends and family members, saying “It’s for a good cause!” and taking them away to slay and be slayed by monsters, you know exactly why. Since our fiction is mostly based of reality (since we need models), our own morality compass is in most cases the one which is used for games.

As long as the target is willing, you might consider it as a not evil act and that’s OK. There are so many corpses, that a good character will only use them, as long there is another way, even if said way is much harder. Convenience shouldn’t dictate your doing, since your character is more than a lazy bum, who spends free-time at a table, playing with acquaintances and friends a make-believe with written rules. The PC has the abilities and the willpower to aim for higher levels, so there is plenty power left to be concerned about those things, if you play a good character.
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But when necromancy is mostly evil, why is the necromancer in the PHB and the Death Domain not? Since the developers are seeing the Death Domain as a DM-tool for NPCs, since most deities which have it are evil, while they seem to thought it would be better to have all schools of magic as Arcane Traditions. And boosting your undead thralls is a great thing, since it makes the necromancer finally a better necromancer than a cleric (at least until the Death Domain comes into play)!

Personally I’d like the Death Domain in the PHB, since it’d mean less searching when creating a character… But oh well.

 

If you want to play a neutral or good necromancer, remember: Talk to the living beforehand or after their demise (teamwork with a Bard or Cleric or at least 3 levels in either one; or a 9th level warlock) and ask them if they’re willing to be useful as undead servants. Treat those undead with respect. Then it’s A-OK! 😉

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).

Let’s Rock with Roles!

Finally I got this written, now see, what I was writing about the last few days: Roles!!!

In D&D 4e a lot of players were repulsed by the introduction of the class-roles, even though the books said, that they existed long ago and the classes were more built around those roles. Personally, I didn’t care about it, it just made party building that much easier. But since being classified as a role makes it much harder to actually visualize a different build, I thought: Let’s group any class into a group!

Here I will make a difference between combat-roles and outside-combat-roles, since every character should be able to participate in battle, while Social Interaction is often made by a single character. And I’ll dip into the archetypes a bit, without in-depth explanation, there are some builds out there, which makes it much clearer, if you prepare for a specific campaign.

Here the combat-roles:

Defenders are the typical front-liners, which can take punishment, are able to hold a line, protecting the backrow, and of course brings some punishment to the foes. In 4e he’s a very tactical role, in most previous editions, he is just swinging a weapon around hoping that his damage and presence is enough to fulfill that role.

Strikers are able to bring a humongeous amount of damage fast to the enemies. His main-role is to defeat the biggest threats as fast as possible or kill those off, which got some amount of damage from the Controller to lessen the numbers of enemies.

Leaders brings buffs for the party, leading how the battle will go on. AC-buffs for grindy battles, damage buffs for fast ones, the right buff at the same time is one of the most powerful thing. And of course he’s healing the party, ensuring their lifes while deciding effectively, who can participate how long in the thicks.

Controllers got are effects and strong debuffs. They often have damiging powers, which are able to get a lot of enemies in one sweep, they can change the battlefield to the party’s liking and make powerful foes to helpless ones (like stunning the same opponent consequently for 5 rounds).

No class is a pure build on these 4 basic roles and I chose the 4e terms, since Pen and Papers aren’t MMORPGs and therefore these roles have different ways and things to offer, than the correspondentive MMO-Role (Tank, Damage Per Second [DPS], Healer, Crowd Control)

Outside of Combat, these roles are more defining (not counting all possible, but those who I personally think are important):

Knowledge is power, and the Bookworm have all kind of knowledge skills paired with above average Intelligence (this is why they’re most often wizards), if the party needs more explanation, z

With a Brawn, you don’t have to worry about any physical challenge: Climbing a mountain path? No problem. Carrying the petrified Rogue out of the dungeon, while a cockatrice is at your heels? Piece of cake! Breaking a door? D’oh, rolled a 1!

Everyone who is a main-magic user is able to fulfill the Caster-role, when mundane tools ad tactics won’t work, just use a spell! There is treasure at the bottom of the lake and monsters which guard it? Water Breathing! We have to storm a fortress, overtaking the walls, fighting the guards and traps and get weakened to the final fight? Divination to find the treasure room, Dimension Door to shortcut! Some problems aren’t even remotely as easy to solve without a caster, like traveling to the City of Brass in the fire plane. To look for a portal which travels to it, getting to said portal while fighting off anything which is in the way or might think, that it’d be unwise to open a gate to the elemental fire? Annoying!

Without a Face, a person looks funny, a party looks poor. This is the guy who takes all the Charisma-based skills, to be able to smoothtalk, bluff or even force himself and his party members out of the most dangerous situation. A silvery tongue to a slippery guy. Or girl.

The Sneak(y Guy) is someone, is able to sneak ahead of the party for scouting, preparing ambushes or finding a way into a building (like climbing up the walls of a castle, take out the guard post and drop a rope for the rest). Sneaks and Spotters are natural enemies, even though a lot of Rangers fulfill both spots so well, that he should be his own archenemy.

Spotters are the ones who pumped everything in their Perception scores to be able to spot and search for everything. No enemy unseen, no treasure unfound, no DM slightly to really annoyed. There are reasons, why there is so many stealth options around.

Trappers are most often the Sneaky Guys as well and are responsible for traps and often locks as well. Since the Rogue (and later some rougish base classes) in 3e was the only one, who could find and disable magical traps, he was normally the trapper, in 4e and 5e everyone with an ability score to find traps (WIS or in 5e WIS or INT) and the right skill training/proficiencies can be a trapper now. Or leave the finding to the Spotter, even though it wouldn’t hurt to have him concentrate more on enemies.

Now that we know our roles, let’s see how our classes in 5e are to be categorized.

Barbarian

Combat-Role: The classic Barbarian is a more offensive, less defensive version of a Fighter and is therefore a Striker. Right? Actually, I think he shifted to be a Defender with a Striker secondary role. While Raging he can take a humongous deal of punishment to weapons, due his resistance to slashing, bludgeoning and piercing damage, as a Totem Warrior with the Totem Spirit of the Bear it extend to all damage except psychic and Danger Senses protects him even further. His Reckless Attack makes him a better target, provoking enemies to attack him rather his allies, Feral Instincts let him get a higher initiative, so he can better choose where to build up the front line. Most of his features makes him harder to kill or influence, better at being where he needs to be to protect others or helping out his allies or hindering his enemies, in both paths. On the Striker side he only get 2-3 attacks, a single reliable attack with advantage, a smallish bonus damage for Rages and a stronger Critical Hit, which only have a higher chance when using Reckless Attack. Enough Damage to be a threat to enemies, not enough to be an actual Striker, comparing with other classes.

Outside-Combat-Role: When there are no heads to smash, a Barbarian makes a wonderful Brawn, using his Rage feature to get Advantage on Strength rolls himself for a turn and much later Indomitable Might to always get high rolls. There is no special synergy with other roles, even though it’s common to let the strong guy make the intimidation with his muscle and charismatic Barbarians are always kinda neat and works well with the Berserker’s Intimidating Presence.

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Bard

Combat-Role: As a class with good support, Bard’s were always the Leaders, even so their healing abilities came first at 3e pretty weak, in 4e stable and in 5e they’ve become main-casters with any vital healing and revive spell in their spell-list. The Bard’s features allows him to support his party in many ways, buffing them, removing mind-affecting affects and some other stuff. Due his Bard College and Magical Secret’s feature, he can easily fill some parts in other roles.

Outside-Combat-Role: Of course the Bard is your archetypical face, but he can get into other skill-depending roles due his skill-monkey features, so if you’re asking yourself, which ability to boost second after Charisma, you should consider which role outside of combat is still unfilled. Bard’s in the past were known for their aptitude in being the Bookworm, now there are less features for it, but the spell-list do have the vital divination spells. And as a main-caster he can fulfill the Caster role pretty well, having many diverse spells even outside combat and using spells from other classes as well.

So the Bard could fulfill any role quite easily.

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Cleric

Combat-Role: If the Cleric wouldn’t be a Leader, no one would. He have the most healing and removing condition spells and a bunch of buffs. Depending on domain he could take any secondary role, even though it’s easiest to him to become a secondary Controller.

Outside-Combat-Role: Clerics are obviously Casters, even though they’re lacking the flexibility of a Wizard, they have other great spells, which makes a combination with a Wizard that much powerful. Since 5e doesn’t require the Cleric to have a high Charisma score, his Face value dropped as well, even though they’re still good as Bookworms, if INT wasn’t dumped. Since WIS is their main ability, clerics makes good Spotters, even though they can’t get proficiency with Perception on their own, so you have to get it otherwise. For most other roles they’re mediocre or just bad, depending on their armor.

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Druid

Combat-Role: In one way or another the Druid was always stuck between being a Leader or a Controller, even though I’d put him in as a Controller, since his healing was lacking compared to a Cleric and his spells to control the battlefield and deal with multiple enemies are so great.

Outside-Combat-Role: Wild Shape makes the Druid the perfect Spotter and even as a Sneak, he can use this feature. No guard post will take any notice of a squirrel in a tree, as long they don’t have reasons to fear a Druid and even then it might be a ‘friend’ of said person and killing it would only summon the Druid’s wrath, right?

Druid’s get enough knowledge skills to stand in as a Bookworm and outside in nature he’s most likely the best Caster in the game. And Wild Shape can make him a decent Brawn at some point, in Circle of the Moon even a great one (a Rhinoceros certainly helps you with breaking doors).

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Fighter

Combat-Role: As the archetypical Defender, the Fighter is supposed to have all the stuff you want a Defender to have. In pre-3e being at the front and hitting stuff was enough, in 3e he got Bonus Feats which could grant him special attacks without risk (like Disarming, Trip, etc. But hey, most spent them in Two-Weapon Fighting and ways to increase the damage) in 4e he got straight up powers to do his job. In 5e he get… the option to be a Defender. Unlike the Barbarian, who is a Defender at default, the Fighter do have the basics to be a Defender, but can easily be a Striker as well. For Defender take the Protection Fighting Style and the Battle Master archetype, for Striker the Champion archetype and any other Fighting Style (even though Defense won’t make you a better Striker). And the Eldritch Knight is a Striker with the ability to become a tertiary Controller. Pretty much Striker focused…

Outside-Combat-Role: Since old times a Fighter was always a Brawn, even though DEX-Fighters became popular in 3e and 5e makes it easier for them to survive without down-classing STR-Fighters too much. But after that, the Fighter do not have any special aptitude of being anything useful outside of combat, which means you have to choose your ability scores and background wisely, to be not a burden, when violence won’t help.

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Monk

Combat-Role: Some might ask themselves, why Monks are in the first PHB, when this is so western heavy fantasy, but this goes some way back and the class is popular. I think because they’re deadly Strikers, which can deal a lot of attacks per turn, allowing them to hit the enemy almost every turn and when hitting is no concern, dealing a massive damage over time. Their features allows them to shake of effects which would hinder them, avoid damage if needed and to actually outrun foes, when they’re low on hit points. Since there is so much protection, he could stand in as a Defender as well, the Way of the Open Hand supports this, while Way of the Shadow makes him a more sneaky version of the Striker and Way of the Elements could bring him into either Defender or apprentice Controller direction.

Outside-Combat-Role: Monks are normally good Sneaks and Spotters, since their DEX and WIS is generally high and they have both proficiencies available. The Way of the Shadow brings a lot of Sneak options, which is great. In previous editions, they could be Brawns, too, but that will be now more the exception than the rule, since STR isn’t as necessary as before. The other roles don’t lie on the way of being a Monk.

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Paladin

Combat-Role: Since old times, Paladins were the defenders of good, justice and the weak, so you should suggest, that they’re Defenders as a combat-role. Actually they’re more of Leaders, if we just take the Paladin’s features into account, Lay on Hands, a lot of supportive auras, etc. The real defending comes from the spells, especially those with Smite in their names, which can inflict several conditions depending on spell, which hinders the opponents to act as they want. And there is a lot of Striker potential, seeing how many ways the Paladin has to increase his damage, he’s able to real burn out a lot of resources to deal a humongous amount of damage, if he rolls critical, he could one-hit even a deadly foe. So it depends how you play if the Paladin will be more of a Striker, Leader or Defender. So I guess there will be a lot of Striker Paladins out there…

Outside-Combat-Role: If the Paladin is not a Face, nobody should. He use Charisma for his Paladin features, so it’d be higher than average, he got useful skills and from a role-play point of view, everybody with a pure heart should be friendly to a real Paladin. Most Rogues and other less morally inclined characters might have some problems here and there. As a secondary role, being a Brawn fits the classic Paladin, who wields a sword or a hammer as the main weapon, while wearing a shield.

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Ranger

Combat-Role: Rangers were like highly specialized strikers in pre4e, since the Favored Enemy feature granted extra damage from the get-go, while in 4e they were definitely Strikers. Normally a Ranger was more like a warrior-type skill-monkey, a bit squishier than their Paladin and Fighter comrades, so they often stacked to ranged combat, which is a Striker part. And even in 5e, most combat-oriented features are more Striker focused, like a Striker oriented Fighting Style of choice, Foe Slayer or the subclasses, especially the hunter. The spells are some self-support to be more strikerly, a lot of utility and some group support. It’d be safe to say, that the Ranger is a Striker.

Outside-Combat-Role: The Ranger truly shines outside of combat as the most likely best single-classed Sneak, using three features which strengthens stealth (being stealthy while traveling at normal pace in your favored terrain, being able to get a +10 when lying in ambush and being able to hide as a bonus action), combining Ranger and Rogue might be a powerful option. Even as a Spotter he get some features, like Primeval Awareness and Feral Senses and as a Beat Master, he can have a great Spotter as a companion, so he don’t need to do it by his own. And he open up the tracking department, which isn’t an as important role, since most adventure’s will get you were you want, but open up new options. As a Bookworm, he’s more of a specialist for his Favored Enemies, using that feature to get advantage to the rolls.

Finally, since his spell-list is much about utility, he is a decent Caster in the wilds.

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Rogue

Combat-Role: Striker. Sneak Attack, a lot of features to get out of trouble while providing no special support to other, no questions.

Outside-Combat-Role: Like Bards, Rogues have a lot of skill support, so he could be any role, except the Caster. If we pick the Roles he fulfills with the least effort, it’d be Trapper and Sneak, getting the first at the start and some supporting features like the Cunning action or the Thief subclass, even though an Arcane Trickster is even more potent, using magic to support this build while being able to even cast the Mage Hand spell stealthily.

Sorcerer

Combat-Role: This is a tricky one, in 3e the Sorcerer could be a real mean Controller, while the Striker role is also possible in 3e and the main focus in 4e. In 5e I’d stick to the Striker with the option to widens the area of effect to multiple enemies, taking care of some of the Controller’s tasks. Mainly because of the options of Metamagic, Twin Spells is a real mean thing, making it possible to leash at two opponents with strong spells, but the features also enhances his damage capabilities with some self-buff methods.

Outside-Combat-Role: Having a high Charisma score and at least some viable skill proficiencies, a Sorcerer is making a good Face, especially with some spells like Friends, Enchant Person and Disguise Self. His lack of spell-variety is making it hard to see him as a great Caster, especially since his spell-list is less about out of combat utility. The other roles aren’t fitting without some work.

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Warlock

Combat-Role: The Warlock is trapped between being a Striker and Controller, because he can up his damage a bit by taking the Agonizing Blast Invocation and other Eldritch Blast enhancers, but most of his effects are more about debuffs and some battlefield control. So I’d personally see him as a mainly single-target Controller with Striker tendencies, since he has a lot of features, which are more Striker-like.

Outside-Combat-Role: The warlock can be a powerful Caster, using Rituals as main-focus and Invocations for some real utility outside combat and resetting spell slots due Pact Magic. Most of the Warlock’s features, Invocations and falls into the Caster department. After that, Face for high Charisma.

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Wizard

Combat-Role: As you thought, having access to 7 subclasses and the broadest spell-list, the Wizard is pretty good at shifting his focus to be what the player want, but in the end, his spell-list is clearly that of a Controller, while having access to all kind of damaging spells, which enriches the Striker aspect. But that’d mean to leave out some of the best tactical advantages, a party can get at any time. And most Arcane Traditions are more about being a Controller.

Outside-Combat-Role: As an INT-based class, the Wizard is the archetypical Bookworm, who also can use his magic, to be even more knowledgeable. And nobody can be a better Caster than a Wizard, even though he lacks some stuff, the Cleric and Druid can do, but the Wizard has magical answers to almost every problem.

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(OK, nowadays 1d6… they got too healthy!)

After reading this, you’ll see that most classes are what they’re promising, while some have potential or even main-builds which might be surprising. But