May 19, 2015

Blue Mage

Sorcerer Origin
Comments from the Finger: While not a 3.5 prestige class that many have played in any respect, the Blue Mage was a homebrew class inspired by Final Fantasy that I absolutely fell in love with. Ostensibly, the Blue Mage is a sorcerer who does not posses inherent magic, but rather possesses the ability to absorb magic cast upon her, either by monsters with magic abilities or simply other casters. I originally found it on GiantITP and have made various changes to the formula to keep up with the switch to from 3.5 to 5e in the home campaign for one of our players who used it. 
     Mechanically, this class bends many of the D&D rules outright. One one hand, a Blue Mage can learn any spell she is affected by. On the other hand, she is unable to learn spells that target self-only, because they can never be cast on her. Additionally, powerful spells like disintegrate are more likely to simply leave her dead, rather than let her learn them. Finally, anyone who claims that this class is unbalanced because of the changes to the spell list might be forgetting the following: this allows the DM to directly alter the spell list of the Blue Mage, by selecting what spells are used against the party, with the understanding that any spell can be used right back. Regardless, I like the flavor here, and translated the Indigo Infusion feature into the update even though it has practically no mechanical effect, simply because it makes the Blue Mage more interesting.

Blue Magic

Those who contain the spark of Blue Magic may live their entire lives without realizing it. Until they are struck by the force of a spell and feel the spell imprinting upon them, they live as mundane, ordinary lives as others. From that moment on, the Blue Mage absorbs the energy of any spell cast upon them, learning the spell and fueling their power.

Blue Magic
Beginning at 1st level, the only way you can learn new spells is to experience them. Unlike other sorcerers, you do not learn new spells as you grow in level (though your 1st level spells and cantrips are learned from the sorcerer spell list, as a normal sorcerer). When a spell, spell-like ability, or cantrip is cast on you, and you experience any effect of the spell, you may learn that spell as a reaction. You do not learn a spell if you are required to make a saving throw, you succeed, and the spell has no effect on you.
     The Cantrips Known and the Spells Known columns of the Sorcerer table shows how the maximum number of cantrips and spells you may learn through Blue Magic. The spells learned need not be from the Sorcerer spell list. You may forget a spell or cantrip by concentrating on it for 1 round.

Indigo Infusion
A 1st level you have the ability to change any equipment in your possession to the match your color affinity. This takes 1 minute of undisturbed concentration to complete. This change is not permanent; when the item in question leaves your person or when you choose to dismiss the infusion, it returns to its normal color in 1d4 rounds. This has no other effect than altering the item's appearance.
     The title "Blue Mage" only refers to the most common spellcaster of this type; casters with other color affinities exist and, though uncommon, are not rare. You select your color affinity at 1st level, which may not be changed thereafter.

Azure Awareness
Beginning at 6th level, you are more perceptive to the ambient magic energy around you. As a bonus action, you may cast detect magic without using a spell slot. In addition, you can spend 2 sorcery points to focus this detect magic on a creature as an action to detect if it has any magical properties. When you do this, you learn all of the creature's Spell-Like abilities, Immunities, Resistances, and Vulnerabilities.

Turquoise Efficiency
By 14th level, you have learned to be frugal with the magical energy you absorb from spells. When a spell that you know that requires a saving throw is cast on you, you have advantage on that save. In addition, if you save against that spell, you gain a number of sorcery points equal to the level of the spell.

Cerulean Reflection
Beginning at 18 level, you may use your body as a conduit to transmit magic back at other casters. When you are subjected to a spell that allows you to make a saving throw to take only half damage, you instead take no damage if you succeed on the saving throw, and only half damage if you fail. Additionally, you can spend a number of sorcery points equal to the level of the spell as a reaction to reflect the spell back at the caster as though it originated from you, turning the caster into the target.

46 comments:

  1. With your current version your point about the DM beeing able to choose your spells is wrong, since you can also learn spells from allies and friendly NPC´s, thus potentially creating the unbalanced spelllist you talked about.

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  2. This depends largely on your DMing style. In my games, friendly NPCs are certainly under the purview of the control and discretion of the DM, but spells held by PC allies are not. Admittedly, you've found a hole in my logic, but the Blue Mage is still limited by the number and type of allies she has. For example, she might have cleric and bard companions, but not a druid, thus limiting her selection of spells to a smaller number of spell lists. Hopefully, there's some balance here on that front, though it depends on party composition.

    This class represents a total departure from the traditional concept of spell lists, and it's a risky departure at that. However, it's interesting enough and flavorful enough, that I took the risk in writing it, and I hope people take the risk in playing it.

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    1. Of course friendly NPCs are under the discretion of the DM, but they are even more bound by the person and character that the actually are. So if you met a friendly neutral aligned wizard, and you help him out in some way or the other, why would he ever refuse to cast a spell on you that he knows? There are obvious exceptions, like a lawful good druid refusing to cast contagion on you, but seeing as in a "complete" gameworld, there´s almost bound to be a druid who will do so for money/quest/persuasion nat20, I´d say the possibilities are there.

      Before talking about risk, let me say that I´m a big fan of your work here, I actually used some of your subclasses already, and I love how fast you produce them.

      That said, I don´t see the "risk" of you writing this that you mentioned, unless you dislike criticism, which I don´t think you do. Using the class in an actual game is far more risky, espescially if you play only once a week, since the risk of "ruining" the session through magic imbalance might leave a sour aftertaste for a week or longer, instead of a few days. That said, I don´t even believe that this is an issue, and I really only brought it up because you explicitly wrote about it in your disclaimer.

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    2. When I say I took the risk in writing it, I mean to say that I offered something that might be a unbalanced landmine to my (probably very few) readers. As someone who cares a great deal about the quality of work I put out, I take it as a risk to release something that might have deep internal mechanical issues. The primary problem here is that its very difficult to tell if this class will be over or underpowered without a proper playthough.

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    3. When I say I took the risk in writing it, I mean to say that I offered something that might be a unbalanced landmine to my (probably very few) readers. As someone who cares a great deal about the quality of work I put out, I take it as a risk to release something that might have deep internal mechanical issues. The primary problem here is that its very difficult to tell if this class will be over or underpowered without a proper playthough.

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    4. You also have to consider that any spell cast on you by an ally is a spell your party can already cast. It's not as big of a power as you'd think.

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    5. Precisely. The mechanic of learning spells cast on you is self-balancing (depending on the campaign setting.) However, this will almost certainly result in a sorcerer which can cast healing spells, which can be a cause fro concern, depending on the gaming group. (It hasn't been a problem in ours, however. In fact, this has nicely bridged the gap so no divine casters were required in our party.)

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  3. It looks great. Friendlies casting a blue mage seems less like an oversight and more like a necessary part of the class though, with no guarantee you'll be facing a lot of spellcasters to get spells, (presumably one would check in with your DM to make sure the class is appropriate to the campaign ahead of time) and no guarantee you'll end up getting hit or even targeted by those spells, allied casters seems like it might be a necessary way to make this class viable.

    That does raise 2 concerns though.

    1-A class that relies on being targeted has no way to entice or inspire enemies to target them with spells, could end up not being a problem with a cooperative DM so it's not a major concern

    2-A Bigger concern is that a class that essentially revolves around being targeted by
    spells has no extra survivability. A 1d6 hit die isn''t much to be taking damage with. Sure there are tons of non-damage spells but it still seems like something they could use.

    Even with those concerns, this and the other classes all look great

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    1. Having thought about those concerns myself, I decided they helped the balance of the class as a whole. We had a Blue Mage playing in our party in 3.5 and these were major hurdles the character had to overcome. How, for example, do you learn 'Flesh to Stone'?

      This is a hard class to measure the balance of, given that it's a spellcaster with the ability to learn spells from any list in the game, but has tons of hurdles to learning all the spells. These hurdles are genuinely incomparable to the mechanic of gaining spells from different lists, so a proper playthrough should be required to determine which influences the power more, if if they simply break even.

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    2. The weird result you end up with is a kind of buff-mage. But you get none of the background benefits of natural buff-classes. You're still a glass cannon.

      It's safest to get heal in a slot and some buffs (just visit a temple). After that you can let mates ping you with useful shit like Eldritch Blast. And self targeting just requires another sorcerer spending sorcery points to do multiple targets on self-targeting spells. But that's just the sorcerer list - you've only gained normality.

      It doesn't really look too unbalanced with so little health, but I'm not au fait with what spells were excluded from certain classes because of their combo exploits.

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  4. Having really enjoyed your work, thus far, and ALWAYS fostered an enormous appreciation for the Blue Mage, I wished only to add that, RAW, they could probably learn self-targetting spells if a Sorcerer Twin-Spelled one onto them.

    Thanks for your great work.

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  5. Wait a minute. I don't get this line:

    You do not learn a spell if you are required to make a saving throw, you succeed, and the spell has no effect on you.

    So are all spells with saving throws banned? Or do you have to succeed the saving throw? Or do you only automatically succeed the saving throw? Does this mean you dodge all fireball spells?

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    1. I think it means you have to be hit by the spell to learn it, you can't learn magic that ends up not affecting you.

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  6. I'd adjust Blue Magic to let you temporarily learn spells cast on you (for a minute or so), and it's added to the "sorcerer spell list" for you, which you may then choose to learn when gaining a level, but can otherwise choose from the standard sorcerer spell list.

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  7. What does it mean by spell like abilities? Does this mean you can learn stuff like lay on hands or the storm clerics lightning retaliation thing?

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    1. This is intended to refer to spells cast through through features other than spellcasting. The most common example of this is the Innate Spellcasting trait of monsters, though this also might refer to something like a Tiefling's Infernal Legacy. A Blue Mage can't learn features from other classes that aren't spells.

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    2. Ok, thanks for clarifying that. Today my DM had a spectre (i think... it was intangeble and came screeching pit of a corpse) touch me and use life drain. He said I could learn lifedrain and cast it as a lvl 1 spell. Seeing as this wasnt the intention I will tell him, but you should clarify this in the feature.

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    3. Going to be doing the same thing in a campaign I'll be DMing soon (one player is a blue mage) may even go further and allow petrifying gaze and dragon breath etc. to be learned. That said, it is a campaign that punishes magic-users heavily, so it evens out.

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  8. Can a blue mage learn antimagic field?
    It could be a magical effect that they experience, however, it comes down to whether their way of learning spells would be considered a magic ability.

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    1. I would rule that they could. I don't think there's anything in the antimagic spell that would block that ability. Moreover, the spell is certainly effecting the Blue Mage and, in line with the fluff of the class, will leave an imprint on them, so I'm inclined to give them the spell.

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  9. How could you possibly learn any spell with the 'self' category?

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  10. How could you possibly learn any spell with the 'self' category?

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    1. This is exactly the correct question. The Blue Mage has a limited spell list, but not one based on cleric, wizard, or bard. Instead, the spell list is limited to those spells the DM will use or the party knows, the spells that can be cast /on/ the Blue Mage, and the spells that won't instantly kill the Blue Mage. Learning spells with range Self is very difficult, requiring that a sorcerer casts one on you using twin spell metamagic.

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    2. Twinned Spell specifically says it does not work on spells with a range of "self"

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  11. LOVE this idea.
    Wouldnt a blue mage be a little out of luck regarding defensive spells like Shield?

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    1. Most of the time, yes. But there's plenty of discussion in the comments about which spells and situations this makes easier and harder.

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  12. am i understanding correctly? in order to learn a new spell i would need an available known spell. meaning i'm typically walking around 1 known spell less than my limit.

    can't unlearning a spell be part of the same reaction as learning a new one, exchanging them? the whole 1 round to unlearn thing kinda screws things.

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    1. It's true that to learn a new spell you need to forget a spell first, but you need not walk around missing 1 slot if you choose. Instead, you can simply take the round of combat and rid yourself of the slot mid-combat.

      This separation between action/bonus action to unlearn/learn provides a risk-reward system to learning spells. One can either keep a slot open, making his spells available smaller, or lose a round in combat when learning a spell is on the table. You could merge the two into a single reaction, but we found through playtesting that it made the action far too easy and that the separation was a great deal more interesting.

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  13. I loved the idea, but I think the link to download the pages is broken, is it just one page?

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    1. Must be a temporary problem with Google Docs. I don't see any issues on this end

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  14. I was wondering if you could clarify for me? Does the blue mage have the ability to learn spells he doesn't have the ability to cast yet? If he only has first and second level spell slots, yet is hit with a 3rd level spell what happens? He can learn the spell but not cast it until he has those slots available?

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  15. Generally, in 5e, a spellcaster cannot learn a spell they cannot cast. However, by RAW, a generous DM might allow you to learn spells above your level with this subclass, but not be able to cast them until you have the proper spell slots. Ultimately, it creates a sort of trade off, having a gaurenteed spell known later from a dead spell known now.

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  16. You could also learn spells by casting them on yourself via a scroll, wand or staff (Although this would mostly only grant you access to sorcerer and wizard spells.)

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  17. I realize this was created a while ago, but I'm only just stumbling on it now. As a HUGE Blue Mage fan, I'm beyond thrilled to see this exists. It's exactly the sort of spellthief-esq class I've been longing to play. Really great idea.

    My only concern is with the 1st-level class feature, Indigo Affinity. I'm worried that giving the build a feature that is essentially useless in combat or as a utility puts this class at a disadvantage, compared to the other sorcerer builds. These features are what typifies the class, and I'm not sure that just changing the color or items really hits the mark in that regard. (Surely there are other ways to make an item blue?)

    Maybe at 6th level, the spells cast with an "infused" implement could add the sorcerer's charisma modifier to damage? Similar to the "Elemental Affinity" 6th-level ability learned by Draconic Bloodline sorcerers. This would make the player wait a bit for the payoff, and hopefully not be too overpowered.

    Or maybe along with the ability to change an item's color, Blue Mages could get access to an extra metamagic ability, highlighting their unique affinity to the inner workings of magic?

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    1. Sorry, the feature is Indigo Infusion, not Indigo Affinity. Don't know where I got that.

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    2. I'm glad you like it! This is one of my favorites too.

      I wouldn't worry too much about Indigo Infusion; it's what I would refer to as a ribbon feature, one that is all style, no substance. (All it does is allow you to change your wardrobe's color to fit the class.) The real 1st level feature is Blue Magic, which does all the heavy lifting.

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  18. I really love this class it feels interesting and i like the idea of risk in a class, especially one that handles raw magic. The only real thing I was dissapointed with was the lack of involvement that the "color" of the mage has to do with the gameplay. I do like the idea of them having a distinct color but other than astetics it serves no real purpose and could easily be left out. Me and some friends spit balled a bit and thought up some minor gameplay attributes that could define what kind of spell caster you look to be and i was wondering what your opinion was on the 8 we have made.

    Red: increase range of single target spells and cantrips by 5x 1/4 sorcerer level rounded down. (meant for casters who use aggressive spells with less range, like touch cantrips)

    Orange: when a allied target is affected by one of your spells they gain +1 ac for 1 min this can be used on a number of targets equal to 1/4 sorcerer level rounded down at once. (intended for buff based casters)

    Yellow: When you score a Nat 20 on a spell that requires an attack roll you regain a number of sorcerer points equal to 1/4 sorcerer level rounded down. (intended for people who want a little more risk while still feeling impactful)

    Green: the duration of spells is increased by 1/4 sorcerer level rounded down rounds. (intended for casters who are looking to channel conserve spells and points)

    Blue: reduce damage taken by damaging spells by 1/4 sorcerer level rounded down. (intended for casters who are looking to be more defensive or risk taking a hit to learn a new spell)

    Purple: gain a bonus to concentration spells equal to 1/4 sorcerer level rounded down. (intended for casters who channel spells but might not have strong tanks to support them all the time)

    Black: damaging spells (not cantrips) heal 1/4 sorcerer level on hit. (intended more damage based casters who lack healing spells)

    White: increase healing done by 1/4 sorcerer level rounded down. (intended for casters who wish to focus on healing their allies)

    Im not sure if this is too over powered as I am not too practiced in making home-brew but I tried to make it small buffs that still helped define what kind of caster the mage was. like I said I'd love to hear opinions and criticism and especially your thoughts on this. Thanks for reading the small novel above :P

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  19. first of all, starting out with 0 spells sounds like an accident waiting to happen, maybe you get the starting spells for sorcerer, but they like, count as spells you were hit with before the first session, and you can forget them.


    Also, if I were to multiclass into wizard (hedge wizard/blue mage sounds awsome) how would blue magic effect my wizard spells?

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    1. You would still learn and prep wizard spells as normal.

      Pretty sure the lvl 14 ability would only affect your Blue Mage spells as "spells known" and "learned spells" are two different categories for determining such effects.

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    2. You would still learn and prep wizard spells as normal.

      Pretty sure the lvl 14 ability would only affect your Blue Mage spells as "spells known" and "learned spells" are two different categories for determining such effects.

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  20. Can a Blue Mage learn Counterspell when used to thwart one of their own casts?

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    1. I'm going to playtest this build in 2-3 week w/ our gaming group. Looking forward to it. I think it offers a ton of rp potential.

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    2. I would count that a counterspell being cast on your spell is also cast on you by extension (transitive law of... magic?). So I'd rule you can learn counterspell. There's bound to be more strange occurrences in your games that your DM will have to rule on, so try to use the rule of thumb: did it effect the Blue Mage? If so, I'd lean to allowing them to learn it.

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    3. In your own runs w/ the class, have you noticed that the power balance is fairly on par w/ where a Sorcerer would normally be by say, 6th level or 10th level? I assume this class scales quickly on the back end.

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    4. It depends a lot on what type of enemies you face. Without other casters in the party, and without a campaign that focuses on fighting spellcasters, you won't progress very fast at all. Most of the class's balance comes from the fact that, even though you can learn spells from other classes, you can only learn certain types of spells. Spells which only target Self, or instance, are very difficult to learn.

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