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A wizard complained that preparing spells every long rest seems a very tedious task, and asked me if he could trade his ability to copy new spells with the ability to cast any spells he knows without preparation.

I suggested him to become a sorcerer instead, but he does not like the metamagic class feature and wants a simpler one.

I don't think this is going to break anything, but is there anything that I should be careful or modify, before allowing this? Is this modification going to unbalance or to be unfair to other class, especially since it will be very similar to sorcerer?

Update: I talked to him again and figured the primary thing he wanted is to have the versatility of a wizard, two spells gained per level, instead of one. This player is new to playing pure spellcaster.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ If your player has a hard time selecting which spells to prepare at a relaxed time, what makes you think they would have an easier time selecting which spells to cast during the middle of combat? Part of the "simplicity" of the Sorcerer is the drastically reduced spell-list, which reduces the amount of choice to perform on the fly. \$\endgroup\$ – Matthieu M. Nov 6 '18 at 19:36
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This feels like an XY problem to me.

In other words, you're asking the wrong question, so the answers will not be very useful.

The problem here isn't really whether or not a particular proposed class feature is balanced; the problem is "My player doesn't like the time and effort of preparing spells", and there are better ways to address that issue than rewriting the class's primary feature at a base level.

For example, a lot of wizard players put together a few pre-made spell preparation lists with different expectations for what the day will hold, and then just pick one of their preconstructed lists. It's a lot easier to choose from "toolbox", "combat", or "socializing" than figuring out a half dozen selections every time you rest. There's a little work at level-up time to figure out how you want to adjust your lists, but it's not a big effort. Sometimes you might swap out a single spell because it relates to a specific situation, like picking Shatter over other 2nd level damage spells when you know there's going to be a lot of crystalline enemies around, but "this list, except this one" is a pretty straightforward problem as compared to picking seven, eight, or ten spells from scratch.

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Yes, this is overpowered

Your instinct to suggest the Sorcerer Class was a good one. This ability is going to give the Wizard so much versatility there will be almost no situation he cannot solve through magic.

Let's compare the Wizard to a Sorcerer in terms of spells known. The Wizard would have 6 at first level + 2 spells/level after that. In contrast the sorcerer starts with 2 spells known and gains 1 per level to 11th level and then slower after that.

At 20th level the Wizard would know a whopping 46 spells and would have them all prepared. While the poor Sorcerer only has 15.

This rule is so strong it makes an entire class redundant. Forcing Wizards to prepare Level + Intelligence Mod spells per day limits their versatility without a long rest. This is one of the only limitations on the Wizard class and should be left in place. Remember Wizards still get Ritual Casting to cast ritual spells they don't have prepared, if they have enough time.

Alternatively you could allow him to be a Wizard but use the Sorcerer spell progression and spontaneous casting but at this point he is a Sorcerer.


WARNING Untested Homebrew suggestion

If he really doesn't like meta-magic perhaps you could homebrew a Sorcerer that swaps the meta-magic abilities for the abilities of one of the Wizard Schools. I'm not sure how this would work in practice but may be the easiest solution.

There is now a question on this homebrew. See Sorcerous Study for balance discussions.

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As an alternative to making all spells known in the spellbook prepared, you may want to allow him to choose spells himself on the fly. He is still limited by the level + Intelligence modifier spells prepared, but he can choose them at will.

  1. Keep track of different spells he cast during an adventure, and when he reaches the limit, remind him he's reached his preparation limit. This benefits a player new to spellcasters with prepared spells.

  2. Keep track of his used spells. A new player usually only use certain spells regularly. Make this a default preparation list. Start with leaving only 2 "slot" unprepared. This way, he only needs to prepare two spells instead of all of them.

  3. As your player become more comfortable, ask them to create their own default list. By now he has already known how preparing spells should work - that is, does not require him to prepare all spells, but only swapping those less often used with the mood of the day.

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    \$\begingroup\$ This is probably a good compromise however I still feel that it's overpowered. Versatility is extremely strong. Though if it's only for while the player is new I suppose they are less likely to abuse it. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Nov 5 '18 at 23:38
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As others have said, this is overpowered, and yes, the sorcerer in particular looks to be pretty well shafted by the idea.

There is an alternative that might warrant consideration: in 3.5e there was a class called the erudite, which used psionic powers instead of magical spells, but for our purposes they amount to the same thing. The erudite had a mechanic called unique powers per day, which limited how many different powers they could use. It was a lot like 5e spell preparation, except you did not have to prepare in advance. Instead, when you used your first power of the day, that became one of your unique powers for the day. You could keep using that power as long as you wanted (and had spell slots power points to do so), and it would still be just one of your unique powers. If you wanted to use a different power, that would be your second unique power. And if you were out of unique powers for the day, you could only use those powers you had already used before. In effect, it was preparation-as-you-use-them, but still limited in the total number of different powers you could use.

The obvious problem here is that this is still massively more convenient and flexible than spell preparation is. That gives it a lot of power. The erudite was in the running for most powerful class in 3.5e, and the unique powers per day mechanic was a big part of why.

So if you wanted to swap your 5e wizard to use a unique spells per day mechanic instead of preparation, you would have to figure out how to balance that—probably by giving drastically fewer unique spells per day than the wizard would have spells to prepare. The wizard usually gets \$level + Int\$ spells prepared per day—I’m thinking I would probably give the wizard just \$\DeclareMathOperator{\or}{\textbf{or}}level \or Int\$, whichever is less, unique spells per day.

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