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I'm trying to create a homebrew spell that fills a similar niche to the Shadow Blade spell.

Goals:

  • Add meaningful decisions with significant tradeoffs, rather than raw strength. Using blade abilities leaves you without a weapon until your next turn, and costs your bonus action to reform it.

  • Allow for highs and lows to combat through the ebb and flow of blade reforming. Costs a bonus action to use the abilities but also to reform the blade, so it is only usable every other turn.

Sandstorm Blade

4th-level transmutation

Casting Time: 1 bonus action
Range: Self
Components: S, M (a container of metallic sand worth 20 gp)
Duration: Concentration, up to 1 minute

You form a shimmering blade of metallic sand in your hand. This magic sword lasts until the spell ends. It counts as a magical melee weapon with which you are proficient. It deals 3d8 slashing damage on a hit and has the finesse and light properties. If you drop the weapon or throw it, it dissipates at the end of the turn. Thereafter, while the spell persists, you can use a bonus action to cause the sword to reappear in your hand.

Additionally, on your turn when you strike a creature, you can use your bonus action to change the sword to cause one of the following effects:

  • Whirlwind. Your strike explodes the sword into a whirling cloud that surrounds you. Ranged attacks made against you have disadvantage until your next turn. The sword is lost until reformed.
  • Piercing Strike. The blow strikes your target and onwards. If there is a creature directly behind your target, you may strike them for 1d8 damage. The sword is lost until reformed.
  • Shredding Edge. You send the sand coursing deep into the creature, tearing through its insides. Your blow causes your sword to explode, dealing an additional 1d8 damage. The sword is lost until reformed.

While you are wielding the sandstorm blade, you may spend your reaction to shape it to shield you from attacks, increasing your AC by 3 until your next turn. The sword is lost until reformed.

For context, this is for use with a bladesinger.

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    \$\begingroup\$ You might want to look at: How can I ask a good homebrew review question? Specifically, you should give a why you want a review, as in what the review is supposed to accomplish. Do you want if it is balanced to other 4th level spells, whether it works mechanically, whether it fixed any perceived problem with bladesinger (if so, you need to specify a lot of things), etc. \$\endgroup\$ – Someone_Evil Dec 2 '19 at 23:25
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    \$\begingroup\$ @Medix2 Yes, that is intended. The special effects are only occasionally usable. The shield is effectively a reduced "Shield" spell, you react to an incoming attack, last till next turn, costs you the blade. \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Dec 2 '19 at 23:35
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    \$\begingroup\$ I made a small edit just to make the format look more like the spell descriptions in the book (I've assumed a range of Self because that's what shadow blade has); feel free to edit if you don't like what I've done. Just comparing this directly with shadow blade (XGtE, p. 164), is there any reason this doesn't have a Somatic component but does have a Material component? Also, shadow blade has an "At Higher Levels" section; should this spell have that too, or did you choose not to for any reason? \$\endgroup\$ – NathanS Dec 3 '19 at 8:45
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    \$\begingroup\$ Is the effect of Whirlwind supposed to be dependent on whether the strike actually hits? More generally: When do you have to decide to use a special feature? Before or after the attack roll? Does the outcome influence whether or not the sword is lost? Also: Being able to cast a nerfed variant of Shield at will seems pretty powerful. Is that intended? \$\endgroup\$ – Mars Plastic Dec 3 '19 at 12:36
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    \$\begingroup\$ @MarsPlastic All of the bonus action effects are on hitting a strike, so it's not on demand. The nerfed version of shield could be reduced to a +3 AC for one attack, does that seem like a better power level? Uses it does prevent you from using another feature in the meantime. NathanS thank you, appreciate the edits! \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Dec 3 '19 at 18:42
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I really enjoyed the concept behind this Homebrew spell.

I think we need to break down the components and look at these one at a time.

The casting time, range and components seems appropriate and in line with other spells with L2 spells: Shadow Blade (Wizard/Sorcerer) (XGE p. 164) and Flame Blade (Druid) (PHB p. 242).

The duration is the same as Shadow Blade, which seems appropriate, but it is worth considering why the duration of Flame Blade is much longer. I suspect it is the additional effects; so, given the additional effects you intend for Sandstorm Blade, I would say that "Concentration, up to 1 minute" would be appropriate.

The damage is in line with the damage that would be offered by the Shadow Blade spell cast with a 4th level slot – but more about that later.

With regards to the additional abilities you mention that it "Costs a bonus action to use the abilities but also to reform the blade, so it is only usable every other turn." I do not think the Sandstorm Blade would have a good game mechanic if you intend to use it in this way because you potentially will only land only 3 hits over the course of its duration. It seems a waste for a great concept. I would scrap needing to use a bonus action to reform it every round and re-balance the spell (see below).

In the Shadow Blade spell the wielder has advantage on attack rolls in dim light or darkness and it can also be thrown. Although situational, this is a powerful enhancement - with a potential 6 hits with advantage. It also raises the chance of landing a critical hit from 5% to 10% when rolling the dice.

I really like the flavour of the additional effects. I can see it in my mind's eye and it is perfect. The only thing is that I would not cause the blade to dissipate, as I mentioned above. Instead, I would have the blade remain in play, but the blade releases additional sand to cause the effects. Also, to re-balance the spell, I would reduce the damage to 2d8, but allow wielder to use the additional effects each turn (by using a bonus action).

Effects:

Whirlwind – The disadvantage to ranged attacks against you until the end of your next turn is great. The sword remains.

Piercing Strike - Allowing you to direct sand damage (piercing) to another creature which is within 5 feet from your target. This seems more adaptive to various combat situations – it just means the pointy end of the sword is angled in a slightly different direction. The sword remains.

Shredding Strike – This is a good mechanic to have the additional +1d8. The sword remains.

You could even add a couple more effects, e.g.: Sand Blast causes all targets within 5 feet of you to be blasted away 10 feet away (Strength saving throw); and/or Blinding Sand Strike +1d8 with Constitution saving throw or be blinded until the spell ends; creature can repeat saving throw on each of its turns.

Finally, I would also add the "At Higher Levels" section onto your Sandstorm Blade. Again, you could use Shadow Blade as a model: "At Higher Levels: When you cast this spell using a 5th- or 6th-level spell slot, the damage increases to 3d8. When you cast it using a spell slot of 7th level or higher, the damage increases to 4d8."

If you want to have the versatility of the spell being defensive, I would do one of two things to keep things simple but fun:

Option 1 - The player chooses at the start of their turn whether to wield either a Sandstorm Blade or a Sandstorm Shield until the beginning of their next turn. If they choose a Shield, they get +3 AC and can use their action to cast a spell instead or attacking (e.g. cantrip or use a spell slot). You could allow Whirlwind and Sand Blast (if you like it) to be also available.

Option 2 - A simpler enhancement, where the Sandstorm Blade itself can be used to block a potential attack and thus adds +1 AC for the duration of the spell. Similar to the mechanic in Dual Wielder feat (PHB 165).

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  • \$\begingroup\$ thanks for the feedback! In regards to "you potentially will only land only 3 hits over the course of its duration." Turn one, you attack, use a bonus to cast, then lose the sword. Next turn you first bonus action resummon, then attack like normal. So you can attack every turn if you can spend your bonus action. \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Dec 30 '19 at 21:47
  • \$\begingroup\$ I do think it makes more sense to make it just be a normal bonus action though, the loss makes for a weird pattern. What if none of the normal actions use up the sword, but using the shield reaction spends the sword. That way the +3 AC has a cost to it. @ET got home \$\endgroup\$ – EagerToLearn Dec 30 '19 at 23:54

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