The text for the transmutation wizard's Minor Alchemy feature (PHB, p. 119) is as follows:

Starting at 2nd level when you select this school, you can temporarily alter the physical properties of one nonmagical object, changing it from one substance into another. You perform a special alchemical procedure on one object composed entirely of wood, stone (but not a gemstone), iron, copper, or silver, transforming it into a different one of those materials. For each 10 minutes you spend performing the procedure, you can transform up to 1 cubic foot of material. After 1 hour, or until you lose your concentration (as if you were concentrating on a spell), the material reverts to its original substance.

I feel the usage limitations on a transmuter's Minor Alchemy feature make it much less able to be used in typical play, as compared to a conjuration wizard's Minor Conjuration, an evocation wizard's Sculpt Spells, or even an illusion wizard's Improved Minor Illusion (which is still pretty bad, but better than a 10-minute setup time).

Am I mistaken, or is there an imbalance here?


1 Answer 1


Comparing just the 2nd level abilities to each other, without reference to the other wizard subclass abilities at other levels or even to class features like Spellcasting or Arcane Recovery which might synergize better with some than others is... going to be difficult to make meaningful sense of. Part of the problem is that D&D has a history of some classes or subclasses hitting their stride sooner than others.

Frame challenge aside, if you really really want to compare them directly:

It's going to depend on what your 'typical play' is.

Are you kicking down doors, fighting monsters, and finding loot and treasure? Some of the Arcane Traditions are going to present obvious utility in combat - Abjuration's arcane ward provides that rechargeable shield, Evocation's sculpt spells lets you bring out the big guns without hurting your allies, Enchantment's hypnotic gaze effectively stuns an enemy, Necromancy's grim harvest lets you regain health, and Divination's portent lets you control the outcome of rolls and checks.

In contrast, Conjuration's minor conjuration lets you make something small appear somewhere, Illusion's improved minor illusion lets your minor illusion spell pull double duty with itself, and Transmutation's minor alchemy lets you change what something is made of. Not exactly usable in direct combat unless your players are exceptionally creative and/or tricky - which, if they're playing conjurers, illusionists, or transmuters, they probably are.

These are what we call incomparables. Their balance is going to depend heavily - if not entirely - on what situations typically come up in game.

  • \$\begingroup\$ DnD is one of the most combat oriented RPGs. If something is not good for "kicking down doors, fighting monsters, and finding loot and treasure", it is just weak. \$\endgroup\$
    – András
    Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 12:48
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @András Is this a suggestion on how to improve this answer, or the start of your own answer? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Oct 14, 2019 at 18:36

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