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My DM is frustrated with balancing encounters with my high AC as a Bladesinger and wants to make a modification for a more kiting/spell-heavy playstyle. The version of Bladesong my DM is looking to make with zero bonus AC and instead reads:

You may choose to cast a spell when starting Bladesong. The chosen spell must only target yourself and have a range of self or touch and require concentration, however you maintain the effect via your continued Bladesong instead of concentrating. Bladesong ends if you fail to use movement during your turn.

This also limits the spell to lasting for 1 minute, the duration of Bladesong.

Obviously this has some great uses for Haste etc, and into the lategame it will continue scaling with investure of stone, Tensors transformation.

The specifically target only yourself and range of self/touch significantly reduces the number of options. I'm planning to continue playing melee style with a 1d6 hp pool and not intentionally abuse it for some ranged double-conc with something like minute meteors/watery sphere.

This gives a much more spell-heavy buffing Bladesinger playstyle, but with significantly less survivability and quicker resource consumption.

Details: Level 6 High elf, Str: 7, Dex: 18, Con: 12, Intel: 20, Wis: 11, Char: 10.

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    \$\begingroup\$ I feel like there are better solutions to this problem than "rebuild how Bladesong works" Like, say...take advantage of the fact that your Str, Con, and Cha saves are completely rubbish and targeting those instead of swinging at AC \$\endgroup\$ – guildsbounty Mar 5 at 19:59
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    \$\begingroup\$ This is also a bit of an X-Y problem. It's best for your DM to post their concern here about the high AC and how to handle that rather than their best-guess at a solution and asking for it's particular viability(posted by someone else). I know I've got an answer regarding high AC problems. \$\endgroup\$ – NautArch Mar 5 at 20:10
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    \$\begingroup\$ Specifically, the issue is that I'm essentially untouchable in general combat, and I'm tanking better than our Cavalier Fighter tank. But I'm actually looking for feedback in particular on the idea, rather than solving the AC in other ways. We both think this would be an interesting playstyle and I'm just looking for other's thoughts. \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Mar 5 at 20:14
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    \$\begingroup\$ @NautArch I feel like while this is a part of solving another issue, the fact that OP is aware of that and explicitly wants to focus just on this one issue (and not the larger one) means that it shouldn't interfere with our ability to answer this question at all. In fact, it was good to include it as background. \$\endgroup\$ – Rubiksmoose Mar 5 at 20:41
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The rules warn against doing this

Chapter 9 of the DMG, p.263 contains the text:

Beware of adding anything to your game that allows a character to concentrate on more than one effect at a time, use more than one reaction or bonus action per round, or attune to more than three magic items at a time. Rules and game elements that override the rules for concentration, reactions, bonus actions, and magic item attunement can seriously unbalance or overcomplicate your game.

There are too many interactions between spells to give a full analysis of why this is a bad idea but the first spell that I think of causing an issue is Blur.

Blur causes all attacks against you to have disadvantage. It is range self and has a duration of one minute so qualifies for your feature. With rough math disadvantage on attacks can be considered equivalent to a +5 AC. This is exactly the same as your Bladesong feature so this change won't solve the problem.

You also already mentioned Haste, with this change it would be possible to have both Haste and Blur active at the same time. This would result in a higher effective armour class than you currently have. As well as a bunch of other balance issues.

Overall, this is not a good idea and won't fix the problem you are trying to solve.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ So basically you're saying that I would be able to achieve what I had before but now it costs spell slots and also has concentration checks, rather than being a free addition. Which seems reasonably balanced. High level slots are definitely more powerful options as powerful spells are essentially gamebreaking. \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Mar 5 at 22:23
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EagerToLearn That's just one of the combinations. With other spells there are other issues which only get worse as you level up. I can't predict all of them but I can only see this going badly. Every time you level up you will discover a new combination that is broken and the DM will veto that specific version. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mar 5 at 22:46
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    \$\begingroup\$ You can make the same case for greater invisibility without needing concentration, though this one is a fine example that illustrates the problem at lowers levels. \$\endgroup\$ – KorvinStarmast Mar 5 at 22:52
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EagerToLearn Exactly, the high AC is there because you have no HP. Giving you free concentration for buff spells doesn't really make a difference to that but does give you opportunities for additional problems. \$\endgroup\$ – linksassin Mar 5 at 23:03
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    \$\begingroup\$ the ability to combine Blur and Haste isn't problematic, AC-wise - you could always combine Bladesong and Haste as well, for an equivalent AC (assuming 20 INT) \$\endgroup\$ – PixelMaster Mar 6 at 11:34
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Multiple concentration is (almost) always overpowered

Clarification and Assumptions

My answer is based on the following clarification of the proposed change:

You may choose to cast a spell with a casting time of 1 Action or 1 Bonus Action when starting Bladesong. If the spell has a casting time of 1 Action, you must use your Action to cast the spell on the same turn in which you start your Bladesong. If the spell has a casting time of 1 Bonus Action, you may cast it as part of the Bonus Action used to start your Bladesong.

The chosen spell must only target yourself and have a range of self or touch and require concentration, however you maintain the effect via your continued Bladesong instead of concentrating.

Also, I am writing this under the assumption you laid out in your question:

I'm planning to continue playing melee style with a 1d6 hp pool and not intentionally abuse it for some ranged double-conc with something like minute meteors/watery sphere.

If this assumption is not followed, multiple concentration is even more overpowered.

What spells can you use together?

Given your desire for a melee playstyle, the "restriction" of Range: Self or Touch does not change your choices very much. Most of the good options already meet those requirements. Without multiple concentration, you are usually forced to pick between offense and defense. Now, you can pick any two of the following spells:

  • Shadow blade grants you more damage that a greatsword, while still being finesse and thrown.
  • Blur gives most enemies disadvantage against you, which may be comparable to adding INT to AC, depending on the situation.
  • Greater invisibility is an upgrade from blur that also raises your offensive capabilities.
  • Fly allows you to avoid most of the damage from melee enemies.
  • Protection from Evil and Good makes you very hard for a wide array of opponents to kill you.

Combinations like blur and shadow blade are already pretty awesome; in reality, you could combine one of the above spells with any other wizard spell (restricted by your agreement to "not intentionally abuse it").

So is it imbalanced?

In order to achieve something like multiple concentration, you would normally need two PCs or the 7th-level spell simulacrum. That alone should set off warning bells.

As the appropriately-named Quadratic Wizard points out in his answer to "What are the impacts of permitting casters to concentrate on 2 spells?", the DMG (p. 263) also believes multiple concentration to be a bad idea:

Beware of adding anything to your game that allows a character to concentrate on more than one effect at a time, use more than one reaction or bonus action per round, or attune to more than three magic items at a time. Rules and game elements that override the rules for concentration, reactions, bonus actions, and magic item attunement can seriously unbalance or overcomplicate your game.


Out-of-scope advice

I believe that most of these problems could be solved by the DM diversifying their encounters and playing the enemies more realistically.

He should try hitting you in the NADs (non-AC defenses). A simple 1st-level entangle spell could lock you down for the whole fight. Good luck making a Strength save/check with a -2. Even a fireball is reasonable. You may have decent Dexterity, but the fighter has way more HP than you. You might also have absorb elements, but you can't cast that and shield.

Also, there is no such thing as aggro in 5e. Reasonably-intelligent foes should rapidly give up on attacking you. Once they realize that your attacks won't pose a significant threat, some opponents should just eat the opportunity attack and walk right past you in search of a squishier target.

The most important consideration when looking at your proposed changes, as well as the DM-specific advice, is "are we having fun?" The DM shouldn't be out to get your character; if they wanted to "win", they could just put you up against a swarm of low-level druids with entangle. That said, most players (you included, it seems) want an interesting challenge rather than a steamroll.

I recommend that your DM tries out some of these less-extreme changes for a couple of sessions. If more fun is had, then great! If not, then maybe it's time to look at a different build - an Eldritch Knight fighter or a Hexblade warlock are less extreme possibilities for a melee caster.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I think this is a fair assumption. It does come at a significant cost, essentially returning to previous power level at the cost of a spell slot + concentration. The higher level spells (5+) are where it gets out of hand. Obviously this is not factoring in the increased resource expenditure and running out of spells during encounters. Can you think of a good way to balance this? Limit spells to level 4? Increase conc checks? I should add to my main post that Bladesong now has a way it can be broken: "if you fail to use movement on your turn." CC/op attacks become a greater issue. \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Mar 5 at 22:28
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EagerToLearn Unfortunately, movement only provokes opportunity attacks if you leave a creature's reach, not if you move around within their reach, which makes the restriction meaningless. Multiple concentration is something that can't really ever be balanced. You can pile on restrictions until no one would want to use it, but that isn't really balanced either. \$\endgroup\$ – Chris Starnes Mar 5 at 22:34
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    \$\begingroup\$ Ok, so at it's core: Is exchanging a permanent Shield spell for some other spell benefit inherently unbalanceable? Our other idea was to have bladesong have a few different "forms" where it was selecting one of 2-3 spells as the effect gained with bladesong. Eg, would having the ability to cast haste or blur on yourself be reasonable? \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Mar 5 at 22:42
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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for the advice @Chris. That's been my feeling, I think he's overly concerned that the fighter wanted to be the team tank and I'm tanking better than he is. We've only been facing fighters though, haven't fought spellcasters. Personally, I think that it's a transient issue as I'm at nearly max AC rn. AC is definitely exponentially stronger the higher it gets since it's beyond anything but crit range for some people. \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Mar 5 at 23:09
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    \$\begingroup\$ @EagerToLearn Your Cavalier friend will be fine. Infact, the two of you have great synergy because he can impose disadvantage on attacks against your already stellar AC. This synergy should make him feel more effective, not less. Between his mark and the Warding Maneuver he gets next level he will actually be able to Aggro more than you, which is even more crucial tank feature than high AC. \$\endgroup\$ – Ruse Mar 6 at 0:00

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