I love wizards. No, not the gaming company (though I do love them, too). I’m talking about the class. I’ve always loved magic-based classes, and the utility and flavor of wizards is a personal favorite of mine. Oddly enough, for being one of my favorite classes I have only played two wizards in my life (one for a one-shot, so he didn’t see much play, while the other was a multiclassed fighter/wizard so the gameplay wasn’t the same). I’ve been wanting to experiment with some wizardry homebrew, and after a *long time* working on it finally produced two new arcane traditions that I think deserve to see some feedback.
The first is blue magic. Fans of Final Fantasy should be familiar with the concept, and this is a relatively popular idea for homebrew. In FF, blue mages have the ability to copy enemy powers and abilities, adding them to the mage’s own skill set. This gives them a lot of utility, as you can build a blue mage almost any way you want; increase their ability to tank damage, deal more damage, function as a healer or buffer, control enemy monsters; almost any role you can think of.
Past examples of blue mage homebrew have been problematic, however. Most try to allow the mage to copy monster abilities such as a dragon’s breath weapon or a lich’s paralyzing touch attack. While this is thematic and very accurate to how blue mages work in FF, it’s very difficult to balance. Either that balance is thrown out the window and your player character can do things it probably shouldn’t, or the rules for limiting certain abilities are entirely too convoluted, making the content very complicated.
While designing this subclass, I decided to move away from the idea of copying *any* abilities, instead focusing on spells, which are the wizard’s bread and butter. This provides a very easy method of keeping the blue mage’s capabilities in check (just base it on what spell slots they already have). I also feel that a wizard who can learn how to cast cleric or druid or warlock spells is more balanced than a wizard who can lean how to use abilities designed to be used by monsters and not players. This gives the blue mage a boost in utility since they can now be a wizard with theoretical access to almost every spell in the game. But there is a cost; in order to copy a spell, blue mages need to prepare fewer spells each day than their maximum, giving them “room” to learn something new. This prevents the player from running around with a full compliment of spells and being able to grab any other spell they want willy-nilly; they need to put some thought into it. Should they prepare very fewer spells, that way they are ready to copy any spell they want, but at the expense of having less utility for the day? That’s a decision to be made.
The blue mage does get some help to be able to take the hits expected when allowing people to fire spells at them; the ability to wield a shield to boost their AC and slightly more hitpoints makes them bulkier than most other wizards.
The second arcane tradition is sangromancy. If you listened to our podcast, Legends from Aeramis, you might remember a certain eladrin individual by the name of Sércërun. He is a still-living member of the Black King’s court, high general of his armies and in many ways his right-hand man. His title is the Blood General, because he is a master sangromancer. With such an important NPC, I felt it important to create working rules for this darkest of magics.
Sangromancy deals with the flow and manipulation of blood. It is sometimes called hemomancy or haemomancy. The life-giving liquid is inherently charged with power, and sangromancers can tap into that power by expending their own blood as fuel. Though this harms their body in the process, they are rewarded with very powerful spells.
Developing sangromancy required two components; a list of spells which delt directly with blood and its use in magic, and a subclass which can utilize them effectively. Any wizard can learn to use a sangromancy spell, just like evokers can still use illusion spells and diviners can still use abjuration spells. But sangromancers know the tricks (and have the drive to be riskier with their own bodies) to ramp up their blood magic to greater heights. Very powerful (or perhaps just very ballsy) sangromancers can dig very deeply into the wellspring of their own physicality, spending copious amounts of their own blood to cast spells when conventional magic has run dry.
I hope you enjoy these subclasses, and if you use them please consider sharing your experiences and giving feedback below in the comments section or contact us at email@example.com.
Version 0.2 28Jun2018
Altered a number of the features to make the subclass more useful and generally feel stronger.
- The blue mage no longer has to have space open in their prepared spell list to copy a spell. Instead, they add a copied spell to their list of prepared spells. A blue mage can only have 1 spell copied at a time, but can choose to lose the knowledge of that spell during a short rest, re-opening that slot again to copy another spell. You can, of course, write that spell in your spell book before you lose the knowledge. At higher levels the number of spells you can have copied at once is increased.
- Changed the 6th level feature a bit to simply act as a second “you can re-prepare your spells” feature. This, combined with the new Copy Spell feature, means a blue mage can copy a spell, write it in their spell book, re-prepare their spells to include the newly gained spell in their list of normal prepared spells, and then copy another spell later in the day.
- At 14th level, the blue mage can now copy a spell simply by seeing it. They don’t get advantage on the roll if they attempt to copy by sight, but do still gain advantage on the roll if they copy by being a target of the spell. For a while I was going to try and steal the Arcane Trickster’s Spell Thief ability, but I think that should remain with the Arcane Trickster. The blue mage doesn’t steal spells, it just copies them.
- Removed the clause from the Sanguine Empowerment feature which let you force disadvantage onto an enemy; felt a bit clunky and perhaps a bit too strong, since some spells can shut down a combat too easily if the target has disadvantage on them.
- Blood Bend is now a Strength saving throw instead of Constitution, after reconsidering how one would break free from it and to fit other restraining spells better.
- New spell: conjure blood elemental. One spell level lower than conjure elementals, but for that trade off the spell is concentration and the elemental disappears when the spell ends.
Version 0.1 09May2018
- Freshly cast.