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Background Motivation

I wanted to create a subclass for Wizard that uses an expendable die resource to augment its magic and benefit its allies, similar to how the Battle Master Fighter expends superiority dice to fuel maneuvers which augments its attacks and benefit its allies.

Design Process

The following were some significant steps and motivations in my design process.

  • I called the subclass the School of Pedagogy because, thematically, a Wizard of this subclass is an academic who studies magic at a theoretical level. I called the equivalent of Battle Master maneuvers "theorems" for the Pedagogy Wizard and the equivalent of superiority dice "savant dice."
  • I evolved the Pedagogy concept from the Unearthed Arcana Lore Master and School of Invention, but almost nothing from those inspirations remains.
  • I ported the Battle Master subclass features (at 3rd, 7th, 10th, 15th, and 18th Fighter levels) into the chassis of the Wizard (at 2nd, 6th, 10th, and 14th Wizard levels), trying to keep a similar pacing of improvements.
  • I reduced the die size progression and the utility/skill features for the Pedagogy Wizard to include only d8 and d10 savant dice to account for Wizards generally being more powerful than Fighters at higher levels and for Wizards generally having more skills.
  • I ported many of the Battle Master maneuvers directly into theorems with minimal changes to apply the benefits to spells and magical effects. However, not every maneuver was sensible to port, so I excluded some. Then I created original theorems to fill unique magical needs that exist for a Wizard but not for a Fighter.
  • I compared the resulting theorems to all subclass features of other Wizard subclasses to avoid stepping on their toes. Some features and theorems are inspired by class/subclass features from other classes, in which case I tried to avoid impeding on those as well. I specifically avoided duplicating any Sorcerer Metamagic features.
  • For wording all theorems that add or subtract a die on an attack, check, or save, I tried to use wording identical to that used in Battle Master maneuvers, Bardic Inspiration, and the bless and bane spells: if the intent is that you can add/subtract before or after the roll is resolved, it's explicitly stated; otherwise, you add it when you make the roll.
  • I iterated the subclass many times using feedback from several other DM's. We will be playtesting the subclass for two Wizard characters in two campaigns (one where I am the DM and one where I play the Wizard), but it hasn't made it to the table as of this posting.

Text of the Subclass (version 1.0)

The following is the result of my design effort.

Arcane Expertise

At 2nd level, you gain proficiency in the Arcana skill if you aren't already proficient in it, and your proficiency bonus is doubled for any ability check you make that uses Arcana.

Magical Savant

When you choose this school at 2nd level, you learn magical theorems that are fueled by special dice called savant dice.

Theorems. You learn three theorems of your choice, which are detailed under “Theorems” below. Many theorems enhance a spell or other magical effect in some way. You can use only one theorem per effect.

You learn two additional theorems of your choice at 6th, 10th, and 14th level. Each time you learn new theorems, you can also replace one theorem you know with a different one.

Savant Dice. You have four savant dice, which are d8s. A savant die is expended when you use it. You regain all of your expended savant dice when you finish a short or long rest.

You gain another savant die at 6th level and one more at 14th level.

Theorems

The theorems are presented in alphabetical order.

Applied Studies

When you make an Intelligence (Arcana, History, Nature, or Religion) check, you can expend one savant die to add it to the check. Alternatively, when you or a friendly creature who can see or hear you makes an Intelligence (Investigation) check, you can use your reaction and expend one savant die to add it to the check before or after making the check, but before any effects of the check are applied.

Beguiling Spell

When you cast a spell that forces a creature to make a Wisdom saving throw against being charmed or frightened, you can expend one savant die to make the spell especially beguiling and hard to ignore. Subtract the savant die from that creature's first saving throw against the condition.

Damping Defense

When a creature damages you with a weapon attack, you can use your reaction and expend one savant die to reduce the damage by the number you roll on your savant die + your Constitution modifier.

Distracting Spell

When you hit a creature with a spell attack, you can expend one savant die to distract that creature, giving your allies an opening. You add the savant die to the attack’s damage roll. The next attack roll against the target by an attacker other than you has advantage if the attack is made before the start of your next turn.

Dual Strike

When you cast a spell with a duration of Instantaneous and it deals damage to a creature on your turn, you can use a bonus action to direct one of your companions to strike in tandem. When you do so, choose a friendly creature who can see or hear you and expend one savant die. That creature can immediately use its reaction to make one weapon attack against the same target, adding the savant die to its attack roll.

Elemental Flux

When you cast a spell that deals acid, cold, fire, lightning, or thunder damage, you can expend one savant die and choose one of the spell's damage types from that list to substitute for another type from that list for the spell's duration. The first time you roll damage for the spell using the substituted type, add the savant die to the damage roll.

Focusing Oration

When a friendly creature that can see or hear you misses with an attack, you can use your reaction and expend one savant die to refocus that creature's efforts. Add the savant die to the attack roll, possibly changing the outcome.

Galvanizing Oration

When a friendly creature that can see or hear you makes a saving throw to end an ongoing effect on itself or to maintain concentration, you can use your reaction and expend one savant die to add it to the saving throw.

Maneuvering Spell

When you cast a spell with an area of effect, you can expend one savant die to direct one of your comrades to exit the area. Choose a friendly creature who can see or hear you in the area. Before the spell takes effect, that creature can use its reaction to move up to its speed, adding the savant die to its AC until it stops moving.

Mental Agility

When you roll initiative at the start of combat, you can expend one savant die to add it to the roll. When you use this theorem and aren't incapacitated, you can't be surprised on your first turn in combat.

Merciful Spell

When you reduce a creature to 0 hit points with a spell and the target isn't killed outright, you can expend one savant die to hold back some of the spell's energy and merely knock the target out. The target falls unconscious and is stable. You gain temporary hit points equal to the savant die roll + your Wisdom modifier.

Precision Spell

When you make a spell attack against a creature, you can expend one savant die to add it to the attack roll. You can use this theorem before or after making the attack roll, but before any effects of the attack are applied.

Reactive Cantrip

When a creature misses you with a melee attack, you can use your reaction and expend one savant die to cast a damaging cantrip that targets only that creature and has a duration of Instantaneous. Add the savant die to the cantrip's damage roll.

Stirring Oration

When you cast a spell with verbal components on your turn, you can use a bonus action and expend one savant die to encourage one of your companions with an insightful speech woven into your spellcasting. Choose a friendly creature who can see or hear you. That creature gains temporary hit points equal to the savant die roll + your Charisma modifier.

Swift Spell

When you cast a spell that forces a creature to make a Dexterity saving throw, you can expend one savant die to make the spell especially swift and hard to avoid. Subtract the savant die from that creature's first saving throw against the spell.

Tough Spell

When you cast a spell that forces a creature to make a Constitution saving throw, you can expend one savant die to make the spell especially tough and hard to withstand. Subtract the savant die from that creature's first saving throw against the spell. This theorem can't hinder a Constitution saving throw made to maintain concentration.

Expeditious Research

Starting at 6th level, you can use the Search action as a bonus action.

Improved Magical Savant

At 10th level, your savant dice turn into d10s.

Timely Epiphany

Starting at 14th level, when you roll initiative and have no savant dice remaining, you regain one savant die.

Question

Is this Wizard School of Pedagogy balanced relative to other Wizard subclasses and to the original Fighter Battle Master that inspired it? In other words, can the School of Pedagogy coexist with those other subclasses as a useful, distinct, and coequal option without impinging on their design? Things to watch for...

  • Flawed language with ambiguity or unintended consequences.
  • Features that are not level-comparable with similar features from other classes/subclasses.
  • Features granting benefits that are too powerful relative to existing options.
  • Features that are game-breaking within the game's existing design.
  • Features that are so niche or unhelpful they would never be chosen or used.

I am not at all concerned with whether the Pedagogy Wizard seems thematically or mechanically similar to the Sorcerer, so any similarity between the concept of theorems and of metamagic isn't considered to be infringing on the use case of Sorcerers for purposes of my question, unless a theorem directly replicates a particular Sorcerer metamagic option.

(To the best of my ability, I've followed the recommendations on Meta for how to present a homebrew balancing question. I'm happy to accommodate actionable suggestions for improvement of the question. However, if I need to iterate the subclass design again after reviewing the answers, that will be done in a separate question. Finally, sorry for the wall of text. I hope it's easy to follow.)

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Just a few small issues, and then Dual Strike.


Ambiguous or Unintuitive Language

Magical Savant is misleading, and I suggest you choose a different name. Even though the name fits the idea, it also implies a more general version of the level 2 [school] savant of each wizard subclass, when it is not related at all. Improved Magical Savant has the same issue.

The Theorems:

Beguiling, Swift, and Tough Spells: You use the singular language here, but you must consider AOE spells. Either change the language to say "all creatures" or "one effected creature of your choice".

Dual Strike has the same issue as above, where a creature can attack a creature you hit. Language should say "one effected creature of your choice"

Focusing Oration and Galvanizing Oration should have basically the same text, and they should both specify that the die is added before the results are determined.

Expeditious Research doesn't match the description of the feature. Research in 5e is usually associated with a knowledge check, not a perception or investigation check. As on the nose as it would be, I would suggest Expeditious Search.


Balance

Improved Magical Savant the decision to never give wizard a d12 is a good choice, I think.

Beguiling, Swift, and Tough Spells balanced against each other

Dual Strike is a very strong option. I would always take this. It is strictly better than Battle Master's Commander's Strike. This is because whereas the Battle Master must sacrifice both an attack during their normal attack action and a bonus action, the wizard is only sacrificing a bonus action, something they don't often use anyway. This difference is only amplified when you can cast fireball and then have an ally attack for only a bonus action.

Changing it to a cantrip cast makes it less strong, but it's still much stronger than Commander's Strike. It is also strictly better than Distracting Spell because it does not require you to hit the target, and 2 attacks are better than advantage on 1 attack.

Reactive Cantrip is a niche option that is very weak unless you have shocking grasp and are at the front lines (for some reason), where it is very strong (assuming you can survive at the front lines). All ranged attacks have disadvantage at that close range, and the only save DC cantrips there are are acid splash (invalid cantrip for this feature) and poison spray (a weak cantrip because of the damage type)


In general, with a few language and balance tweaks, this is a pretty good subclass. My primary concern is simply making a complex and extensive class with a lot of versatility even more complex and versatile.

The reason this Superiority Die works in Fighter is because it gives a simple class choices in combat, in essence: pseudo-spells. Giving this mechanic to wizards simply gives them pseudo-spells on top of real spells.

I don't think this would ever be published in a WotC book for that reason alone, but if that's your cup of tea, feel free.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ This is all very useful for me. Thank you! I did not notice the "savant" issue at all, and I will incorporate some language clarifications and revisit the balance of Dual Strike and the limited uses of Reactive Cantrip. \$\endgroup\$ – Bloodcinder Feb 15 at 22:43
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It is overpowered; you steal the best features of the Bard and Sorcerer, and give them to the Wizard, more often

You can check my answers, I am usually the guy who says your homerules are fine, even among many crying wolf.
So I really think this is too much.

Applied Studies

Probably fine.

Beguiling Spell

This is fine.
Limited in scope, and you have to spend it before you can know if it is needed or useful.

Damping Defense

This is fine.

Distracting Spell

This is fine.
Actually worse than it looks, attacking spells are rare, most of the good ones require saves instead.

Dual Strike

Just delete this, I do not know how to weaken it to acceptable levels.
Unlike Fighters, Wizards do not have many uses for their bonus actions, so that aspect is basically free.
Also Commander's strike adds to the damage roll, so even in that regard it is weaker than this. And Fighters have to give up one of their attacks for it.

Elemental Flux

One of the limiting factor of spells is their damage types.
It should either add to the damage or change the damage type.

Focusing Oration

Too strong.
A Bard of level 42 can improve an allie's attack 4 times per long rest, you can do it 4 times per short. This costs your reaction as well, but still too strong.

Galvanizing Oration

Too strong.
Just like Focusing Oration, this is very similar to Bardic Inspiration, just better.

Maneuvering Spell

Too strong.
The best parts of Careful Spell, Sculp Spell and Maneuvering Attack merged together.
Careful Spell is usable less often, has a higher opportunity cost3, and does not provide a move.
Sculp Spell only works with Evocations, and does not provide a move.
Maneuvering Attack only improves positions, does not protect anyone from area spells.

Copy Sculpt Spell instad, one ally succeds on the save against your spell, no other bonuses. Not being limited to Evocation is big enough. Needs a name change too.

Mental Agility

Why not steal the best feature from the War Wizard too?
Just delete it.

Merciful Spell

This is fine.

Precision Spell

This is too strong. Precision Attacks are fine for Fighters, they have many attacks per round, all of them doing limited damage. You would be needing this less frequently, so it should be more costly.
One die per two spell levels would probably be fine, of course you only get the benefit of one roll. So for one die, you only get to improve one attack roll of Scorching Ray.

Reactive Cantrip

This is fine.

Stirring Oration

This is fine.

Swift Spell

This is fine.
Limited in scope, and you have to spend it before you can know if it is needed or useful.

Tough Spell

This is fine.
Limited in scope, and you have to spend it before you can know if it is needed or useful.

Expeditious Research

This is fine.

Timely Epiphany

This is fine.

How to fix it

A 5th level Fighter attacks 2 times for every spell you cast, and 3 times from level 11. So to keep it around equal, you should get 2 Savant Dice at the beginning, 1 more at level 14.
After this change Beguiling/Swift/Tough Spell will probably become too weak, so they should be rolled into one, regardless of school or save type.

Even the reduction of the number of Savage Dice is not enough for some Theorems to get to reasonable levels, Dual Strike and Mental Agility has to go, and Elemental Flux needs to be cut in half.


1) Sorcerers could gain more Sorcery Points by burning spell slots, but with Arcane Recovery Wizards already can cast more spells per day. So to keep it an apples-to-apples comparison, Sorcery Points equal your level.
2) Assuming Cha 18, reasonable on level 4.
3) A 20th level Sorcerer knows only 4 metamagics, a 6th level Wizard knows more Theorems.

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