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D&D 3E
Changing Spellcasters 
27th-Feb-2010 11:21 pm
As a thought experiment I decided to try and make wizards are sorcerers seem different from one another. As it stands they both do the same thing, but one studies and one doesn't, and they are mostly interchangeable.

I start by declaring that Arcane Spells are of the Divination, Transmutation, and Universal schools. Any sorcerer or wizard can cast spells out of those schools.

The Conjuration school is also available to both sorcerers and wizards, but is not an Arcane spell for reasons I'll get into later.

Sorcerers can cast Evocation spells (plus Arcane spells and Conjuration spells).

Wizards can cast Abjuration and Enchantment spells (plus Arcane spells and Conjuration spells).

Alternatively, both sorcerers and wizards can opt to be either illusionists or necromancers. If this option is taken, then the base spells lists for each class are not available in lieu of either Illusions or Necromancy. They would still get the Arcane spells, but not Conjuration. The choice of sorcerer or wizard for an illusionist or necromancer would determine the basics of how spells work for that particular class.

So available schools look like this:

Sorcerer: Divination, Universal, Transmutation, Conjuration, Evocation
Wizard: Divination, Universal, Transmutation, Conjuration, Enchantment, Abjuration
Illusionist: Divination, Universal, Transmutation, Illusion
Necromancer: Divination, Universal, Transmutation, Necromancy

This makes sorcerers and wizards quite different. I feel bad that wizards can't cast fireball anymore, but their access to Enchantment and Abjuration spells still makes them quite useful.

I'm not sure that illusionists and necromancers should be able to cast Transmutation spells. And perhaps I should move that school out of my Arcane spell class and into both sorcerer and wizard.

Really, Transmutation is a hard one. There are spells in it I'd like to go to wizards, and other spells I'd like to go to sorcerers.

And now, I'd like to hear what all of you think of this thought experiement?
28th-Feb-2010 07:28 am (UTC)
I think you should reclassify the spells if the current classification doesn't properly sort things the way you want.
28th-Feb-2010 03:38 pm (UTC)
I tried that first. It was a royal pain, but it did provide the basis for this idea when I saw how spells were sorting out for me.
28th-Feb-2010 01:02 pm (UTC)
.... why are you nerfing the sorcerer?
28th-Feb-2010 03:42 pm (UTC)
Um. I'm going to guess you didn't read my post?
28th-Feb-2010 03:48 pm (UTC)
I think this might be a subtle way of saying that the school you've uniquely allocated to Sorcerors (Evocation) is the least useful and powerful.

However, it sounds like you've got a fairly strong concept for what you want sorcerors to be (fireball-slinging nukers) and you're sticking to it. That's fair enough.

It will definitely reduce the utility and power of each class, though.
28th-Feb-2010 04:40 pm (UTC)
That was closer to my point.

Here's what I'm seeing for the sorcerer.

Option 1 - The Sorcerer. I give up Enchantment, Illusion, Abjuration, AND Necromancy. In exchange, I get to be the only one that uses Evocation. Compared to the Wizard mentioned above, I get to blow things up slightly more frequently but lose the ability to defend myself or enchant other people. In addition, the Wizard is almost as good at blowing things up thanks to still having Conjuration.
In short, I gain the ability to spontaneously cast at a caster level slower and my choice of evocation spells (which you'd only pick one of per level at most anyway), but I give up two very useful schools. No way would I ever pick a Sorcerer, as you're losing almost as much as a Warmage without any of the benefits. Sorcerers hardly ever learn Divination spells anyway due to their limited constant usefulness (they're really situational spells that you memorize the day before).

Option 2 - The Illusionist. I give up Enchantment, Conjuration, Abjuration, Necromancy, AND Evocation. In exchange, I get to be the only one that uses Illusions. Evocation and Illusion tend toward the same goal - beguiling your opponent into doing something that you want instead of doing something they want. In fact, they're often considered redundant with each other, just a different means to the end.
So, compared to a Wizard, I gain spontaneous casting at a level lower. I lose on two full schools of magic. This is probably the only choice I as a player would pick with a Sorcerer, but that is probably due to my personal love of spontaneous Illusions. :)

Option 3 - The Necromancer. I give up Enchantment, Conjuration, Abjuration, Illusion, AND Evocation. In exchange, I get to be the only one that uses Necromancy. In this case, the comparison is not with the Wizard, but with the Cleric. In general, Clerics are better Necromancers than Wizards. The only reason why a Wizard would be better would be if you wanted Necromancy and something else mixed in (for instance, Illusion) that Clerics don't get. You've eliminated those choices in this; I don't see a reason why either a Wizard or a Sorcerer would pick Necromancy.

I'd recommend something like this instead:

Everyone gets Universal.
Sorcerous schools: Evocation, Enchantment, +1 spell known of one of those two schools (compared to the book).
Wizardry schools: Divination, Abjuration, +1 spell per day of one of those two schools (compared to the book).

Base schools for "Mage": Conjuration, Transmutation
Base school for "Illusionist": Illusion, +1 spell known / slot for Illusion.
Base school for "Necromancer": Necromancy, +1 spell known / slot for Necromancy.

Thus, you end up with the following:

Sorcerer Mage: Universal, Conjuration, Transmutation, Enchantment, Evocation. Extra spell known in either Enchantment or Evocation.
Wizard Mage: Universal, Divination, Abjuration, Conjuration, Transmutation. Extra slot per day for Abjuration or Divination.
Sorcerer Illusionist: Universal, Illusion, Enchantment, Evocation. Two extra spells known.
Wizard Illusionist: Universal, Illusion, Abjuration, Divination. Two extra slots.
Sorcerer Necromancer: Universal, Necromancy, Enchantment, Evocation. Two extra spells known.
Wizard Necromancer: Universal, Necromancy, Abjuration, Divination. Two extra spells known.

I think that would be a bit more balanced. Flavor-wise, I always see the sorcerer being the one with enchantment due to their high charisma, so I think that would still work. The only one that I don't think is very balanced above is the Wizard Necromancer, mostly due to the combination of two limited schools of magic (Divination and Necromancy), but even the Sorcerer Necro suffers from this a little.
28th-Feb-2010 04:52 pm (UTC)
I like this comment. I'll have to digest it for a while before I can act on it.
28th-Feb-2010 06:37 pm (UTC)
Warlocks are better at being that kind of sorcerer anyway.
28th-Feb-2010 04:15 pm (UTC)
It's an interesting distribution of the spell lists. I'd like a little more explanation of why you chose to give all casters Divination and Transmutation.

If I was going to thematically divide spellcasting for a campaign, it would probably go something like this:

(All casters have access to the Universal spells)

Warmage: Abjuration, Evocation, Transmutation, Conjuration - able to blast enemies, summon and buff allies, and protect himself while doing so.

Illusionist: Illusion, Conjuration, Enchantment, Divination - able to create illusions in the world and in the mind, summon things both real and unreal, and discern the truth where others cannot.

Necromancer: Necromancy, Conjuration, Transmutation, Abjuration - able to master death, summon spirits for aid, improve his creations and protect himself from them.

Wizard: Divination, Transmutation, Conjuration, Enchantment - a practical magician, handy in a variety of situations.

On the other hand, there's not much reason to do this, really. I already find the Wizard and Sorceror pretty distinct in function, and just build them around a core concept with splashes in other areas (and encourage my players to do the same).
28th-Feb-2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
They all get Divination because the majority of the spells in that school strike me as general-purpose spells that any caster would have. And that is mostly based on my attempts to divide up wizards and sorcerers to make them different. I'm reshaping wizards into the subtle scholarly type whose spells are most at home in a royal court, or lonely tower, while the sorcerer is a powerful foe in direct combat. But regardless of which type you are, things like read magic and identify are pretty universal to spellcasters. All the other divination spells seemed to fit in ok as well.

Transmutation is there because it has a lot of spells in it, and many of them are very useful. I sort of think it should be a wizard-only school, but that would almost drive the sorcerer into being a one-trick pony.

The more I think about this, the less happy I am with it. But I still might try it to see what happens. My players are used to me doing drastic things like this, so it won't come as a shock or a hardship to them. Not like that time I reduced XP to 1/4 and only allowed fighters and rogues and no magic items. They still complain about that.
1st-Mar-2010 02:20 am (UTC)
Let us know how it goes (and how your players react). :)
1st-Mar-2010 03:12 am (UTC)
That will actually be quite a while. Warren is DMing now, and after he DMs I've promised to run a module series, so this experiment won't happen until after that.
1st-Mar-2010 09:01 pm (UTC)
Lyndon Hardy created an interested take on the idea in Master of Five Magics a few years ago.
3rd-Mar-2010 09:03 pm (UTC)
1) are you using the total sum of all spells in 3.5? or just core-only

2) Either way, you make a transmutation-only caster who is still a very effective character so I don't see much of a problem, unless you want to be an Illusionist or a Necromancer, then you just turn into a haste-ing/buffing/save or dier which is ok, but distinctly different from being an actual sorc/wiz
6th-Mar-2010 05:21 pm (UTC)
I had an idea, so I didn't get around to responding to this right away. I just posted my idea, and it replaces my thoughts in this post.

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