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I'm playing a homebrew variant on the D&D 3.5 Malconvoker (Complete Scoundrel). I'd like to upgrade it to 5.0 at some point. This Wizard specialization is what I came up with. Do you see any glaring holes, over- or underpowered compared to existing Wizard Arcane traditions?

Arcane Tradition: Malconvoker

Level 2: Fiendish Familiar Add the Find Familiar spell to your spellbook. You can choose Dretch, Imp, Lemure, Manes or Quasit as additional forms. When you take the Attack action on your turn, you can substitute one of your own attacks to have your familiar make an attack.

Level 2: Expertise You can add double your proficiency bonus to all skill checks related to (non-physical) interaction with demons and devils, such as Intelligence (Arcana, History, Religion), Wisdom (Insight) and Charisma (Deception, Persuasion)

Level 6: Tradition spells Add the Summon Lesser Demons, Summon Greater Demon and Infernal Calling spells to your spellbook

Level 6: Unrestricted Conjuration You can substitute your Arcane Focus for the vial of blood material component. If you do, the summoned demons are not hostile to you and your allies.

Level 6: Deceptive Summons When you summon a demon or devil, make an Intelligence (Arcana) check contested by the fiend's Charisma (Deception). If you win, you learn the demon's true name.

Level 10: Fiendish Legion When you use a Conjuration spell to summon one or more demons or devils, you can summon one additional creature of the same kind.

Level 14: Safe summoning When you lose control of a demon or devil you summoned, you can use your Reaction to dismiss it.

Level 20: Signature Spell You can choose Summon Greater Demon for your Signature Spells feature, instead of choosing two 3rd level spells. If you do, you can cast it once at 4th level (instead of 3rd) without expending a spell slot.

Fiendish Familiar is basically the Pact of the Chain feature, slightly changed for flavor.

Tradition Spells pushes you to what the class is built for, but I could also just remove it and force the player to pick those spells when they gain the appropriate level.

The other features try to mimic the 3.5 features of the same name, except for the stat increases which seemed overpowered for 5e.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Also see discussion in chat: chat.stackexchange.com/transcript/message/44147256#44147256 \$\endgroup\$ – Jorn Apr 21 '18 at 23:27
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    \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it doesn't work for you to continually change the question; that kind of interactive exercise is better off in a forum. \$\endgroup\$ – Miniman Apr 22 '18 at 0:53
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    \$\begingroup\$ Because an answer to this question has been provided and accepted, I've done a rollback to help make things make more sense. \$\endgroup\$ – Pyrotechnical Apr 22 '18 at 3:17
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Yes, by quite a bit

Note: personally, I love the idea behind your homebrew and would love to see it in a game, but here is my objective analysis

To determine if a class archetype is balanced, you should compare it to other archetypes. I'll break your subclass down by level.

Level 2

At level 2, your character would effectively gain the benefit of a level 3 warlock feature -AND- a limited version of a permanent guidance spell.

While the limited version of guidance is relatively equivalent to the Savant features you see in other classes (provides some substantive, but setting-specific benefit), the Fiendish Familiar feature is a little above curve. Having access to an enhanced familiar takes that specialty away from the warlock (not to mention you get it a level earlier). Compare this feature to Improved Minor Illusion (since both provide a new spell with primarily out-of-combat applications).

When you choose this school at 2nd level, you learn the Minor Illusion cantrip...

When you cast Minor Illusion, you can create both a sound and an image with a single casting of the spell.

This is a very small benefit while your enhanced familiars have many applications (they can manipulate objects, fly, scout, and have their unique qualities listed below which have some combat applications or strengthen other applications)

  • Lemure: Devil's Sight
  • Dretch: Fetid Cloud
  • Imp: Invisibility
  • Quasit: Scare

Level 6

The strength of Tradition Spells largely depends on how easy it is to find spellbooks and spell scrolls in your world, so I'll just assume it is okay (if access to spells to copy is rare, this feature becomes very strong).

Unrestricted Conjuration is inordinately powerful as the demon summoning spells are able to get away with a lower level spell for the same power as a result of this downside. Compare summon lesser demons to conjure minor elementals. They summon the same strength of creatures with a spell slot of one level lower. This feature is the most unbalanced in your subclass.

Deceptive Summons doesn't make that much of a difference thanks to Unrestricted Conjuration as the fiend summoned by summon greater demon isn't hostile anyway, but without this feature it scales to a 5th level spell conjure elemental similar to what Unrestricted Conjuration does. The only other spell this affects is gate, but if you've already summoned the demon, you don't really need to go find it in the Abyss later. (Related on what knowing a demon's name actually does)

You are comparing these features to something like Potent Cantrip...

Starting at 6th level, your damaging cantrips affect even creatures that avoid the brunt of the effect. When a creature succeeds on a saving throw against your cantrip, the creature takes half the cantrip’s damage (if any) but suffers no additional effect from the cantrip.

...which is clearly a much more menial effect to strengthening spells.

Level 10

This feature has a virtual equivalent in the Split Enchantment feature of the School of Enchantment:

Starting at 10th level, when you cast an enchantment spell of 1st level or higher that targets only one creature, you can have it target a second creature.

However, the second creature still gets a saving throw, while this feature just gives you another summon. As such, it is too powerful. Without the benefits from level 6 though, it would be less of a problem since the demon's summoned would get a save in the same way as the enchantment school's feature.

Level 14

Safe Summoning is another way to remove the downside of the demon summoning spells which comes across the same problems as Unrestricted Conjuration, but at level 14 this is less substantial. You are effectively reducing the 1d6 rounds (3.5 on average) to 0 rounds by using your reaction.

[from summon greater demon:] If you stop concentrating on the spell before it reaches its full duration, an uncontrolled demon doesn't disappear for 1d6 rounds if it still has hit points.

Wizards have quite a few strong uses of the reaction (one is the shield spell), so this is likely not especially strong and is comparable to the War Magic features Arcane Deflection...

When you ... fail a saving throw, you can use your reaction to gain a ... +4 bonus to that saving throw.

...and Durable Magic which makes it harder to lose your concentration (both of which are lower level features):

... While you maintain concentration on a spell, you have a +2 bonus to AC and all saving throws.

Level 20

This additional feature for Signature Spells is strictly better (albeit by a small amount) than any other school as those schools don't get a second capstone option. This would be fine if the subclass as a whole were slightly weaker, but as I've discussed thus far, that is not the case. The archetype can already choose summon lesser demons as a Signature Spell which is already very strong with the buffs the other features of the subclass gives to that spell.

However, one level 4 spell is often worse than two level 3 spells, so this is only unbalanced as it gives a bit of flexibility (which is not that big of a deal in the grand scheme of things). I would almost always just use summon lesser demons and another level 3 spell instead of summon greater demon.

TL;DR

Level 2 features outweigh the benefits of other subclasses.
Level 6 features make demon conjuring spells much stronger and hugely unbalanced by spell level.
Level 10 feature is only a problem because of the level 6 features.
Level 14 feature is fine.
Level 20 feature is strictly better than other subclasses and therefore unbalanced (but not by that much).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your analysis! I'll see if I can tune it down a bit while still keeping the 3.5 Malconvoker feel. \$\endgroup\$ – Jorn Apr 21 '18 at 21:39
  • \$\begingroup\$ I've updated the class and added in some comments \$\endgroup\$ – Jorn Apr 21 '18 at 21:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Jorn If you are looking to develop a homebrew in multiple phases, chat is probably a better medium on this site. Alternatively, there a number of RPG Forums that are very well suited to this. Simply having people edit their answers as you refine your homebrew is not the best course of action. \$\endgroup\$ – David Coffron Apr 21 '18 at 22:02
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Jorn please post a second home brew review question with the updates; changing the basic question makes a mess of our Q&A format. Call it something like "Malconvoker V2" and include a link back to your original questoin. I did that with a circle of flame druid a while back. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Nov 18 at 16:32

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