April 18, 2016

Wand Wizard

Arcane Tradition
Comments from the Finger: This has been on my plate for a while, and I'm not entirely sure if I pulled it off. Regardless, I'm really looking forward to the criticism on this one.

**Special thanks to Sleepy Magus for helping out on this one**

School of Wands

As a practitioner of the School of Wands, you don't entrust your magic to your own, delicate hand movements and material components. Wand wizards instead place their faith in magic wands of all varieties, carefully selecting which to fill with spells and casting them, one in each hand, with reckless abandon.

Wand Apprentice
When you select this school at 2nd level, you learn how to craft temporary wands to channel your arcane power. You can fashion a number of empty wands equal to your Intelligence modifier.
     When you prepare spells following a long rest, you can expend a spell slot to imbue an empty wand with magic. The wand becomes capable of casting a single 1st level spell from your spellbook for 1 charge. This wand has a maximum number of charges equal to twice the level of the spell slot expended. For example, a 5th level wand wizard can expend a 3rd level spell slot to craft a burning hands wand with 6 charges. When you take a long rest, your wands revert to empty wands and lose all unused charges.
     Because your wands are powered by your magic, only you can use them. Additionally, a wand can't hold a spell that requires material components which have a cost. A created wand counts against the number of spells you can prepare.
     At 6th level, you can make wands capable of casting 2nd level spells, which cost 2 charges, if you create it by expending a spell slot of 2nd level or higher. At 10th level, you can make wands capable of casting 3rd level spells, which cost 3 charges, if you create it by expending a spell slot of 3rd level or higher.

Wand Recharge
Starting at 6th level, as a bonus action, you can expend a spell slot and convert it into charges for a wand that you are holding. The wand regains charges equal to the level of the spell expended, up to its charge maximum.

Dual Wand Wielder
By 10th level, you have learned how to wield a wand in each hand, casting one as an action, and the other as a bonus action, consuming 2 charges instead of 1. You can only use 1st level wands in this fashion.

Wand Master
Beginning at 14th level, every wand you make gains an additional charge, and spells cast from them are cast as if using a spell slot 1 higher than normal.



Changelog: 4/21/16: Wand Apprentice: Wands are prepared when you prepare spells. Also, some rewording
Dual Wand Wielder: Renamed from 'Wand Adept'

26 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

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    1. I lile the feel of it. It certainly seems to be on the higher end of the power curve at low levels, although i cpuld be completely wrong here.

      I can see some of my players being willing to sacrifice some of their higher level spellslots to increase the amount of low-level spell slinging.

      All in all nothing that pops out as broken or too far out there. May change the word "casting" in the wand adept feature to "activating".

      EDIT:
      Reposted logged in, as to ne be shown as "unknown"

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    2. No, I think you might be right about the power thing. I tried to balance it as best I can, but the wand wizard thing is super tricky, and I think it still needs work.

      I could use suggestions, really.

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    3. I completely disagree why give up casting fire ball to cast burning hands first lvl spells are pretty much worthless by the time you have 3 lvl spells, especially since most of them are better when cast at a higher spell lvl and in a wand it's cast at 1st lvl.

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    4. Maybe you wanna cast a crapload of fog clouds or magic missiles? Unless you're building a glass cannon, your wizard is meant more as a support and utility character. I can definitely see a niche for this school. Granted, it's a niche that's already filled by the sorcerer, but still.

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    5. I'd like to see something that makes Wand Adept scale up a bit... 2 first level spells are generally going to be outclassed quickly by higher level spells. I love the idea of this subclass, but as it sits right now it seems like a worse sorcerer.

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    6. The levels we gave them are intended to make sure that we don't outstep the power curve, which is an immense challenge, particularly if you want to use two wands at once.

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  2. "The wand becomes capable of casting a 1st level spell for 1 charge. This wand has a maximum number of charges equal to twice the level of the spell slot expended."
    Isn't the minimum of charges 2 then? I mean, you use a spell slot of atleast 1st level.

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    1. Yup, minimum 2 charges. This was one of the challenges in design: what type of trade-off does making a wand provide? The system we ended up going with was that, if you prepare enough your wands, you're basically locked into those spells, but you get a few more spell slots for them.

      Again, this might need work, but that's the current logic.

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  3. So this will just be pumping out unmodified 1st level spells, or will those Burning Hands placed there as a 3rd level spellslot pop out as boosted Burning Hands? Just wanting to know I'm reading it correctly, as one way sounds like a lot of fun and the other sounds beyond worthless.

    The bit about "just 1st level spells" simply means spells from that batch of spells, while the Wizard's level can be used to boost the effect of what is coming out of the wand?

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    1. You invest a spell slot into the wand, and you make a 1st level wand of a particular spell, which can only cast that spell at 1st level.

      See, the advantage here is that you get twice as many castings for any spell level you provide. So, if you offer a 1st level spell for your 1st level wand, you actually get a bonus casting, but it counts against your spells prepared for the day. You can get more castings at higher levels, but this is the base level trade-off

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  4. As someone who has just retired a Warlock that used a Staff of Venom, Staff of Defense, Staff of Fire and Wand of Magic Missile as his primary combat methods, (I collected every bad mage's weapon) the balance looks fine or even low.

    I know 5e isn't meant to involve magic items in it's balancing, but I imagine anything this would be in would classify as High-Magic, Starting Gear for High Magic Campaigns assumes approx. 500G and a Magic Item at 11th level, so I would think it reasonable to have something equivalent to a Primary Wand; Create a Wand equivalent to DMG wands with 10 charges, recharge daily, cast a Signature Spell. Would be for the 14th Level Feature I imagine.

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    1. I think you're probably right, even though it's really hard to tell how balanced magic items might be at a given level. I guess I'm less concerned about this being over/under powered, and more concerned this it's not super elegant

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  5. I think it's a cool idea, and a way for wizards to sacrifice some medium level spell slots for a whole bunch of low level spells. It's kind of like cantrips, in the way that the wand wizard won't have to worry about running out of uses of 1st level spells now.

    As a whole, the tradition does seem a little bit bland though. The upgrades at 6th, and 14th level are definitely useful, and add to the class, but seem weak (or maybe just less interesting) compared to the other traditions at these levels.

    Would it make sense to have a tradition-specific table that showed progression of the strength of spell slot that you can input, the number and strength of spells output, number of charges, etc. that scaled with wizard level? This could free up space for a couple more focussed, signature features that this tradition could give, which would make it more interesting in my opinion!

    Just my two cents.

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    1. I mean, it's not as if the 6th, 10th, and 14th level features are progressing the class in a way that could be summarized in a table -- by any measure, they're at least novel. I see your point that they could be made more interesting (especially the 14th level capstone), and I think I could accomplish a lot of this with a different naming scheme. Wand Adept might be better named Dual Wand Wielder, for example. I'll have to work on another edit of this before the weekend.

      I'm having an exceptionally hard time figuring out features for this which don't crush the balance curve, though. That's going to be a challenge if I want to change the capstone.

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    2. Yeah, you're right about that. The 14th level feature could go in a table, but would just be 1 before 14th level and 2 after for the properties that it effects. I don't know why I thought that the features would fit in a table, mind blank I guess.
      I do like the class quite a bit, but other than the interesting framework of being a wand-user, the features feel like they just say "now you are a *better* wand user!" It's true that a lot of other Arcane Traditions do something similar, but I think that it's less satisfying for this class for some reason. Probably because the class is focussed around something that isn't as evocative or thematic as many Arcane Traditions are, and the mechanics given by the 6th and 14th level features aren't as visible as other effects might be. It's similar to acquiring spell slots - it definitely helps, but it's not super exciting.
      Maybe it's just me though.

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    3. When I said that this tradition isn't as evocative as other traditions, part of what I meant is that it doesn't improve your spells in any way, it just allows you to cast the same spells that you already could a bit more often. Since that's basically the only unique aspect given by the class, it may feel a bit underwhelming. Not intended as an insult either way!

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    4. No, I totally understand where you're coming from on this one (and feel free to be critical without apologizing -- I don't feel insulted at all when something I release needs work.)

      Now, on the subject of improving casting, this subclass totally misses the chance to do 'when you cast a spell, X happens' which is a pretty common template for arcane tradition features. I suppose we could argue that the 10th level feature allows this, since it literally gives you two spells a turn through your wands, but I don't get the sense that the 10th level feature was a problem anyway; it's probably 6th and 14th levels which need a new focus. Mainly, I'm trying to figure out the direction to take on those features.

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    5. Sorry about the apologizing thing, I'm Canadian, I can't help it! :P

      A neat 14th level capstone would be the ability to craft some special wands with unique effects (combat or utility). I don't have the 5e spells memorized, but a couple ideas that might be interesting: disarming opponents, reflecting a single-target spell back at the caster, reveal hidden objects/doors.

      Don't know if that's the flavour you were going for with the class, but I think it would make it more interesting. The customizable sub-classes that you already have like Armiger are some of my favourites :)

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  6. This seems very much like a warlock alternative. I'll have to do a comparison at some point. How many combats per day would you consider normal, because as far as I've experienced warlock seems very underpowered, but that's largely because in most scenarios where one could take a short rest, one could also take a long rest in my campaigns. Warlock lacks much of a unique advantage over any class and relies on consistent DPS, where wizard and sorcerer can out-burst and potentially out-sustain a warlock.

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    1. That's really insightful, actually. Since making a wand also marries its spell slots to that spell, in contrast to preparing a spell you don't have to use, this probably will feel like a warlock in a lot of ways: more casting and less spell selection

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  7. Well well well, and here I was, thinking I was never going to have my Dual-Wand-Wielding Wizard/Detective in 5e! Wand Adept was a staple of my Mad Artificer back in the day, so I'm very excited to see where this is gonna go!

    To be honest, I'm not seeing a lot of balance issues here. So you sack a 6th level slot for a wand that can cast Haste 4 times. Might seems strong, but you're giving up a 6th, and it's 11th level at the earliest. That's about the most powerful thing I can think of going on here, and it doesn't seem too bad, really. I feel like the Wand Adept ability really shores up the class' power with the bonus action 1st level spells, and the double charges works well to balance that.

    One thing i'd like clarified, though: when do you prepare your Wands? As read, it's at the start of your Long Rest, so you use your Spell Slots that you have left before you rest, and the wands become mundane again when you take another Long Rest.
    I feel this is pretty good, but makes Downtime scary strong for the Wizard, meaning you can go into a dungeon strapped with all maxed-out wands after resting in town.
    Though if you think about it, that's not that bad; the worst you get is a bunch of low-level spells being chucked around. If I were running it, that's be my ruling.
    Seeing as a wand also counts against your spells prepared for that day, I think it's a little heavy costed to also take spellslots that you'd be using that day in order to wand, but maybe the power's just going to my head (rest a day at 17th level, now you wand can shoot 6 fireballs...muwahahaha)
    Love the look of this one, a real winner of a tradition!

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    1. Actually, nice catch in here -- you should be preparing wands when you prepare spells following a long rest, not at the beginning of one, my bad.

      And the more I crunch the numbers, the more I'm convinced that this subclass might be okay on the power curve. Still think there's room for improvement, but I reckon it's very playable.

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  9. Can the level 6 ability recharge ANY wand or just the ones you've created using the archetype ability?

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    1. By RAW, it's any wand, but to be honest, I didn't carefully comb through the wands in the DMG to ensure that this works with every other type of wand: my guess is that it won't. So if you're gunning for RAI, just apply this to wands you've created.

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